Thursday, July 27, 2017

DC Special Plastic Man

Stretching things a bit, with a look back at Plastic Man...

...with the important reprints of DC Special #15 (November-December, 1971) under the editorial watch of E. Nelson Bridwell, and a cover by Dick Giordano, recapping a few important events in Plastic Man's life up to that time, featuring the stellar work of Plastic Man creator, Jack Cole.

Police Comics #1

First up is the origin of Plastic Man from Police Comics #1 (August, 1941) by writer and artist Jack Cole (though as you can see, Plastic Man was NOT the main feature of this comic at the time; instead, Quality Comics seemed to think Firebrand would be the break out character).

But, Plastic Man started as small time hood Eel O'Brian having a job go wrong on him, Skizzle Shanks and the rest of his mob, will the boys leaving the Eel behind at the Crawford Chemical Factory after he got dosed with acid.  Eel escaped the police pursuit, and ended up in a monastery, where the monk nursed him back to health.  Eel also found he now had elastic skin, and make himself a rubber costume to go after the gang who abandoned him, and turn them over to the police. 

Police Comics #13

Plastic Man was officially working for the law by the time of Police Comics #13 (November, 1942), also by Jack Cole, when he met up with Woozy Winks for his first appearance, in "The Man Who Can't Be Harmed".

Woozy saved the life of drowning Zambi the Soothsayer, who used his mystical powers to make Woozy invincible to harm.  Woozy flipped a coin to decide what he would do with this life (though he didn't tell the readers the result, he did start a life of crime, kidnapping sculptor Homer Twitchel, and breaking his work, all to make the pieces of Mr. Mire worth more.  To stop Woozy, Plastic Man had to join him as Eel O'Brian, and commit a crime spree just to get Woozy to trust Eel (so Plastic Man could stop Mire).  It did work, but police Captain Murphey wanted the now reformed Woozy (whom Plas guilted into doing good) to help Plastic Man catch the Eel (not knowing they were one in the same!).

Plastic Man #17

Next up is the "Plastic Man Products" story from Plastic Man #17 (May, 1949), where writer Joe Millard and artist Jack Cole had Plastic Man deal with the criminal who wanted to sell items....made of Plastic Man!

Enterprising Willie blackjacked a man to steal from him, and Plastic Man pursued (not sure if it was Willie).  Willie got upset, but found a factory that was making substandard plastic, and decided to make products out of this cheap material....and use Plastic Man as the promotional hook of the items.   The various items broke soon after use, with citizens (including Woozy) coming after Plas for the faulty items.  Plastic Man had to get Willie arrested for his original crime to stop him (and get his name cleared as well).

Plastic Man #26

With Plastic Man #26 (November, 1950), there was a Woozy Winks solo story by Joe Millard and Jack Cole, with Woozy facing off against "Bladdo The Hypnotist".

Woozy Winks was upset about not being able to work with Plastic Man or the FBI all the time (as Woozy had no training), so....Woozy set out to make a detective agency for himself, being found by a client who owned a radio station who was being ripped off by Bladdo (who was using his talents to steal from his radio show listeners), so Woozy was hired.  Bladdo then hypnotized Woozy to confess to his crimes, but as Bladdo went to check up on Woozy, Bladdo got arrested (as Woozy was just too dumb to get convicted, even confessing to the crimes!).

Plastic Man #25

Last but not least, was the Golden Age story from Plastic Man #25 (September, 1950) called "The Magic Cup" by Bill Woolfolk and Jack Cole.

This time, Woozy stopped escaped mental patient King Oberon from committing suicide, so the king rewarded Woozy with "a magic cup" that would give Woozy 3 wishes.   Woozy, who was not working with Plas or the FBI on a case, wistfully wished to be involved on the case, with Plastic Man showing up soon after to have Woozy be a substitute driver on a heist (to allow Plastic Man and the police to catch the rest of the gang who was trying to rob Dearmont Chemical Co.).  They almost caught the thieves, but the criminals took Woozy as a hostage to escape.  At their hideout, Woozy wished Plastic Man would find him, and Plas did, defeating the crooks.  Woozy then told him of the "magic cup" and that he must have used two of his wishes.  Plastic Man berated his chum for believing in this wish nonsense, and left to take the crooks in.  Woozy, feeling depressed, wished he could at least get credit for helping Plastic Man catch the crooks (which then was heard over the radio in an interview with Plastic Man, with Plas giving Woozy credit for his assistance).  This depressed Woozy more, realizing he now used up all three of his wishes!  

This great collection of Jack Cole Plastic Man stories happened between DC's first two 10 issue Plastic Man series (the first in the 1960s when DC got the rights to Plastic Man and his cast of characters, the second in the mid-1970s, when Plastic Man was also an animated cartoon star!)...and Plastic Man has a current DC Rebirth, working with Metamorpho, Phantom Girl and the second Mr. Terrific in the upcoming title, the Terrifics!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Batman Meets Hawkman

By the time of his team-ups in Brave and the Bold, Batman was tied more to Gotham and fighting human criminals, but, on the other hand, Hawkman was a Thanagarian police officer, observing Earth police habits with his partner (and wife, Hawkgirl)... of course, these two characters would work together....

Brave and the Bold #70

The first team up of these heroes happened in Brave and the Bold #70 (February-March, 1967) with "Cancelled: 2 Super-Heroes" by Bob Haney, Johnny Craig and Charles Cuidera, under a cover by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

Batman had to stop millionaire collector, Balthazar T. Balthazar, from figuring out that he is really Bruce Wayne, so he recruited Hawkman to help throw him off the trail (but, along the way, the collector things Carter Hall is Batman, with the two heroes battling, then eventually defeating their foe....and giving him other identities for him to believe in other than their real ones).

Sadly, this issue has only been reprinted in black and white, in Showcase Presents (both in Batman Team-Ups and Hawkman's volumes).

Brave and the Bold #139

Next up is Brave and the Bold #139 (January-February, 1978) by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo, where Hawkman gets to meet Commissioner James Gordon, in "Requiem For A Top Cop".

This time around, Hawkman has to help protect Jim Gordon from an alien bounty hunter, Vorgon,  who is after Gordon for a crime he committed as a young police officer in Gotham, that of killing an alien named Lan who landed on Earth!  Batman and Hawkman aren't able to stop the hunter, but Gordon is, with the truth of the accident that lead to the alien's death.

This story was reprinted in glorious color in Legends of the Dark Knight: Jim Aparo Volume 2 hardcover of 2013.

Brave and the Bold #164

"The Mystery Of The Mobile Museum" is the next solo Batman/Hawkman team-up in Brave and the Bold #164 (July, 1980), by J.M. DeMatties, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Steve Mitchell, with a cover by Jim Aparo.

Carter and Shiera Hall had a lot to deal with being Thanagarian policemen, JLA members and curators of the Midway Museum....but being curators of the museum got a lot harder when the museum decided it didn't want to be on land anymore, and tried to fly away.  Batman and Hawkman had to stop the Ma-Prusha, who were making this happen (as well as animating armor and other items to stop the heroes from stopping them).

This tale was reprinted along with a series from Batman: Confidential featuring King Tut, in the Batman: King Tut's Tomb collection of 2010.

Brave and the Bold #186

Last, but not least, is Brave and the Bold #186 (May, 1982), where Batman and Hawkman have to deal with "The Treasure Of The Hawk-God's Tomb" by Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn and Jim Aparo.

Batman and Hawkman try to recover a stolen Horus sarcophagus, searching Gotham City, and finding Hawkman's foe, the Fadeaway Man (Anton Lamont, who uses the Cloak of Cagliostro to teleport, become invisible or intangible in his pursuit of items to steal), being the one responsible for its theft....after first dealing with the Gotham underworld (whom the villain tried to sell a fake to), then capturing the thief on a second try (and recovering the real booty, along with the villain).

Sadly, this tale has yet to be reprinted.

But these tales do prove that Batman and Hawkman can work together!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Heat Is On For Earth

You think it is hot now?

What if you had another planet hurtling through space towards Earth, like they did in Strange Adventures #2 (October-November, 1950) in "The Doom From Planet X" by Gardner Fox, Jim Mooney and Sy Barry (Mooney and Barry also proving the fiery cover!).

How will Earth survive?

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jack Kirby's Dingbats Of Danger Street

One of the last things that Jack Kirby created for DC Comics was the Dingbats of Danger Street, a variation of a kid gang (like his Boy Commandos and Newsboy Legion), this concept sat around for a bit, with the team's introduction making it into First Issue Special #6 (September, 1975)...

...with their leader, Good Looks; strongman Krunch; eager and hungry Non-Fat and oddball Bananas, these boys lived in a rundown neighborhood depending on each other to survive as adults had done them wrong.

In this appearance, the boys fought against Jumpin' Jack and the Gasser (two near super-villains), unintentionally helping Lt. Terry Mullins capture the crooks (who had kidnapped an executive), and like all First Issue Specials, promising at the end that if enough readers buy this and write in, more adventures will follow....

Unlikely that more adventures would follow, as at the time this was published, Jack Kirby was getting ready to move back to Marvel, Twomorrows' Jack Kirby Collector does confirm that there were two more issues of the Dingbats created by the King...likely only to see the light of day there, with a sample here.

Still, nothing is totally forgotten, and the boys do have cameos in Hero Hotline #6 (September, 1989) and Adventures Of Superman #521 (March, 1995), before a return in Adventures Of Superman #549 (August, 1997, by Karl Kesel, Stuart Immonen and Jose Marzan Jr.), facing off against the electric blue Superman, as well as the Newsboy Legion (and finally finding a place to live, with a little help from another First Issue Special one-shot alumni, the Green Team,  yet another group of youths, who buy their mates a home!).

Best of all, the Dingbats first appearance can be found, reprinted in the Jack Kirby Omnibus #2 of May, 2013, along with the first appearance of Atlas and Manhunter from their First Issue Specials, the Sandman revival of the '70s Kobra and more! 

Thursday, July 13, 2017

The Fourth Super-Team Family

Looking back at the classic collection of stories in Super-Team Family #4 (April-May, 1976), with stories featuring the Justice Society of America and the World's Finest team of Superman, Batman and Robin....

...all under a cover by Ernie Chan, in a return to all reprints in the book (after issues #2 and #3 had new stories as well as reprints), with a new editor, E. Nelson Bridwell.

All-Star Comics #33

The first story reprinted in this issue is All-Star Comics #33 (February-March, 1947) by writer Gardner Fox and artists Irwin Hasen, Joe Kubert, Stan Aschmeier, Martin Naydel, Jon C. Koziak and Paul Reiman, with "The Return Of Solomon Grundy".

Grundy was an animated corpse (formerly the man known as Cyrus Gold), that came from Slaughter Swamp in Gotham City (and facing the Golden Age Green Lantern twice before this).  Freed from the power ring bubble Green Lantern had trapped him in, Solomon Grundy went to find the emerald gladiator.  The JSA went to their meeting house, finding Green Lantern missing, so went to find him...with Hawkman, Dr. Mid-Nite, Flash, and Atom facing Solomon Grundy (and Johnny Thunder meeting a phony Grundy, with Wonder Woman playing secretary, but likely able to take out Grundy herself), eventually reuniting to stop Grundy and saving Green Lantern, who then exiled Solomon Grundy to the moon...

....who returned one time after that in the Golden Age, in Comic Cavalcade, to face Green Lantern, before his Silver Age revival, facing Dr. Fate and Hourman along with Green Lantern), with the JSA being featured in a revival of All-Star Comics at this time (including a grown up Robin, the Star-Spangled Kid and Power Girl as members, and Grundy joining the Injustice Society of the World soon after this reprint appearance).

World's Finest Comics #98

Since the Justice Society story was so large, there was only room for one more reprint, that of World's Finest Comics #98 (December, 1958) by Bill Finger, Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye, with "The Menace Of The Moonman".

The story focuses on an astronaut, Brice Rogers, who is exposed to the radiation of a green comet, that, when he returns to Earth, turns into the Moon Man under the moonlight.  Superman faces him (but that green radiation must have contained Kryptonite, as Superman is weakened), but the Moon Man reverts to Rogers, with criminals trying to use his new identity to their advantage, until Superman, Batman and Robin defeat them, and Rogers' Moon Man power fade away....but he does return, with a new person, Lady Lunar exhibiting those powers.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

2017 SDCC Mattel Exclusive Cyborg Figure

With Mattycollector no longer in the picture, seems the DC Multiverse is a little lacking in exclusive figures for the 2017 San Diego Comic Con...

....but the one they have comes as a real mother....

....that is, a Mother Box!

It is an exclusive, premium Cyborg figure based on the character to fully debut in the upcoming Justice League movie, packaged in a Man's World Mother Box (the device scientist Silas Stone used to save his son, Victor, and turn the lad into the super-powered Cyborg).

The 6 inch figure's eye and torso light up when with a red LED when the button on the base is pushed.  The figure includes the hero in his silver colored power suit with 20 points of articulation, his White Noise Cannon arms and a translucent mask and chest, and should be available at Mattel's booth at SDCC for $25!

Monday, July 10, 2017

Creating Superman

"If Superman Didn't Exist, Someone Would Have To Create Him!"

That's what it says on Gil Kane's cover for Action Comics #554 (April, 1984), and that's what we see....two kids named Jerry and Joe, creating Superman, in this story by Marv Wolfman (and drawn by Gil Kane) called "If Superman Didn't Exist..."!

Aliens had created pyramids existed in time, which erased the heroic myths from Earth's history, but two odd kids (Jerry and Joe) still believed in Superman, and created him (who was able to stop the aliens, and restore the timeline).

For all they did, comics owe a great debt to Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, for their original creation of Superman in Action Comics #1 (June, 1938)...

...and all the action after!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Holy Birthdays, Batman

Technically, it should be "holy birthday, Robin" today is the birthday of the 1966 Batman TV show version of Robin...Burt Ward!

The former Boy Wonder is all grown up now, and what an opportunity to talk about when Robin grew up quickly in the comics as well!

Batman #107 featured the story of "The Grown-Up Boy Wonder" by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye, where Robin was exposed to a strange gas in a box Superman gave Batman and Robin to guard...which turns young Dick Grayson into an adult!   Problem is, though his body grew up, he still had the mind of a teenager (as well as having to hide that Dick Grayson and Robin grew up, so Dick creates the identity of Owlman to help Batman, but gets caught by a group of criminal acrobats, who unmasked him, and plan to look for that face to help figure out Batman's identity as well. 

Thing is, the gas wears off, and Dick goes back to being young (and Robin), so the criminals search will be fruitless (at least for many years.....). 

This story was also reprinted in Batman Annual #5 of 1963, and in the Batman Annuals Volume #2 (which reprints Batman Annuals #5 to #7).

Of course, Robin grew up other times in the comics as well, most notably when the original Robin (from the Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s) grew up and joined the JSA....

.....but that a topic already covered, but you can read about it here and Golden Age solo Robin stories, here!

Holy adult Robin, Batman, and happy birthday, Burt Ward!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Happy Bikini Day 2017

Happy Bikini Day with this cover from Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #344 by classic artist, Dan Betty Cooper and Veronica Lodge show how they keep safe from the sun... well as this cover, from Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica #177 also by classic artist, Dan DeCarlo...with Betty and Veronica having fun at the beach!

You should do that too! 

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th Of July With Sgt. Rock

Saluting our war heroes on this July 4th, with this cover from Our Army At War #295 (August, 1976) by Joe Kubert.

This cover featured World War II hero, Sgt. Rock and Easy Company, and also celebrated America's Bicentennial (1776 to 1976).