Thursday, June 26, 2014

Marvel’s Showcase on Super-Heroes

Marvel Comics didn’t have an anthology title dedicated to introducing new characters in the 1960s like DC Comics had Showcase….well, almost didn’t, but then they did! 
Starting in December 1967, the reprint title of Fantasy Masterpieces (which had lasted 11 issues, and reprinted Golden Age tales of Captain America, the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner), became the new Marvel Super-Heroes comic (not related to the one-shot 1966 Marvel Super-Heroes reprint…).
This new title contained some reprints, but also had new stories, and it is those new stories that will get a little coverage here…

Holy Moley A Marvelous New Super-Hero

Marvel Super-Heroes #12 (December, 1967 by Stan Lee and Gene Colan) had reprints in it, but also contained the new story of Captain Marvel (well, really Captain Mar-Vell), a Kree warrior sent to Earth to investigate the Sentry recently defeated by the Fantastic Four.  This spaceman originally started as a foe of Earthmen, but eventually became Earth’s protector, and then the protector of the universe, changing his costume and gaining Rick Jones as a partner (and making him more like Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, whom this hero took the rights to having that name on a cover, and is the reason why DC calls the original Captain Marvel Shazam!…where a boy and a man share an identity with issue #17…), fighting Thanos (with the Avengers in issues #26-33), Nitro (#34 and #54) and even helping the Inhumans (in #52-53) and more over the course of 62 issues of his own title (not quite published continuously).  This early tale is reprinted in Marvel Masterworks Volume #50: Captain Marvel #1 along with…

A Dominating Damsel

Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (March, 1968, by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan), a tale that had Captain Marvel fight the Sentry (and led into Captain Marvel #1 in May, 1968) but this issue also introduced Carol Danvers, who eventually became Ms. Marvel (as well as Binary, and most recently Marvel’s newest Captain Marvel).  While Ms. Marvel #1 (January, 1977) was written by Gerry Conway and drawn by John Buscema, Chris Claremont of X-Men fame ended up writing the majority of the issues, introducing characters along the way like Deathbird (in #9), Mystique (in #16), had a great new costume designed by Dave Cockrum introduced in #20, and met the Guardians of the Galaxy in #23, the series last issue in April 1979…and had the series continued, Rogue would have been introduced here instead of in Avengers Annual #10 (1981).  While not having a Marvel Masterworks (yet), Ms. Marvel’s 23 issues have been collected in the black and white Essential Ms. Marvel, along with Avengers Annual #10, and 1990′s Marvel Super-Heroes #10 and 11, which contain the original stories for Ms. Marvel #24 and half of #25, where Ms. Marvel meets Sabretooth and then Rogue.

Spider-Man To The Rescue

Marvel Super-Heroes #14 (May, 1968) contains an odd tale of Spider-Man by Stan Lee and Ross Andru (and inked by Sub-Mariner creator Bill Everett)….odd that in it was commissioned when artist John Romita sprained his wrist and there was concern he wouldn’t be able to finish his Amazing Spider-Man issue in time…thankfully, Jazzy John was able to…and thus, this tale of Spider-Man vs. the Sorceror and his Synthetic Man had no home…until it was printed here!  Spidey has plenty of history, and later got a title called Marvel Team-Up which he shared with other Marvel stars, including ones from Marvel Super-Heroes, like Captain Marvel (#16), Ms. Marvel (#62 and #77), the Inhumans (#11), the Guardians of the Galaxy (#86), Ka-Zar (#19) and Dr. Doom (#43).  This story is reprinted in Marvel Treasury Edition #1 and in Marvel Masterworks Volume #68: Amazing Spider-Man #8.

Don’t Get Tangled

Marvel Super-Heroes #15 (July, 1968) has a story of Medusa, the most uncanny Inhuman of them all.  Medusa first appeared in Fantastic Four #36 (March, 1965, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) where she was the fourth member of the Frightful Four (along with Wizard, Paste-Pot Pete who would later be known as the Trapster, and the Sandman), but later, the lady with the power of the red hair would have her past as an an Inhuman revealed.  In MSH #15 by Archie Goodwin and Gene Colan, she faced her former Frightful Four partners!  The Inhumans later got their own series for 10 issues of Amazing Adventures (but these stories focused more on Black Bolt, and even had a battle with X-Men’s Magneto and were from August 1970 until January 1972).  Later still, the Inhumans had their own title which lasted twelve issues, where the people of the Great Refuge faced Blastaar, Shatterstar, Maximus and the Hulk…and that storyline wrapped up in Captain Marvel’s title.  You can read this adventure in Marvel Masterworks Volume #125: The Inhumans #1 (which also contains the 10 tales of the Inhumans from Amazing Adventures, as well as some Inhuman history from Thor #146-152).

Time For New Heroics

Marvel Super-Heroes #16 (September, 1968 by Gary Friedrich and Herb Trimpe) introduced the Phantom Eagle (Karl Kaufman)…World War I’s greatest hero!  This aviation ace didn’t really get a series of his own…his next appearance was in the Incredible Hulk #135 (January, 1971) where he was involved in a battle between the Hulk and Kang!  Phantom Eagle did finally get a title of his own in 2008, a five issue mini-series called War Is Hell: the First Flight of the Phantom Eagle (by Garth Ennis and Howard Chaykin!).  The first appearance of Phantom Eagle was sandwiched into Marvel Masterworks Volume #193: Incredible Hulk #7 (along with his Hulk tale), but, time has caught up to us here…so, we end this half of our Marvel Super-Heroes review…but check back in the future for more (issues #17-20, covering Black Knight, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Ka-Zar and Dr. Doom!).

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Innovation Lost In Space

"Danger, Will Robinson!".  Trying to find out what happen to the crew of the Jupiter II, "Lost In Space" oh so many years ago?

Wonder no they did indeed finally make it to Alpha Centauri after their launch problem from October 16, 1997, but what a long strange trip it was!

It wasn't covered in the three seasons of Irwin Allen's Lost In Space on CBS (airdates from September 15, 1965 to March 6, 1968), but instead in Lost In Space comics put out by a company called Innovation starting in 1991...but even that wasn't so straight forward!


Starting in August, 1991, was the first of the comics dedicated to the crew of the Jupiter II...John, Maureen, Penny and Will Robinson, Major Don West, Robot (B-9) and stowaway Dr. Zachary Smith (as Gold Key's previous comics weren't quite related to the TV series).  These comics even had as "mission control" Bill Mumy (who played young Will Robinson on the series) for the first twelve issues (and writer of #13-18, as well as Annual #2...and a little extra).

While one of the best selling series at Innovation (a company ahead of its time...basing much of its work on adaptations of licensed properties and putting in quite some effort into these was always an uphill battle).  In advancing the plots of the original show (and aging the crew slightly), the portrayals of the younger Robinson women was at times considered risque...and a subplot of a romantic triangle with Don West and Judy and Penny was also introduced, as well as some of Dr. Smith's original more nefarious leaning were played up.

Still, the series continued along, with Bill Mumy taking over as writer with issue #13 (August, 1993, and starting a 12 issue mini-series subtitled Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul, a slight nod to another Irwin Allen series, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea)...and artist Michal Dutkiewicz staying for the final run...except that the series ended with issue #18 (in November of 1993, with only part 6 of the 12 parts done!).  "Oh the pain, oh, the pain" was not only felt by Dr. Smith, but us all!  

Billy Mumy stated in Lost In Space fanzine Alpha Control in February, 1994..."It was very frustrating when Innovation went out of business in the middle of my story, Lost in Space is just this continual kind of tease to me.  I wrote this 12 part story that really resolved so many things I had been dying to resolve in Lost in Space over the years.  I juggled five different subplots all at once for this big payoff in the story and I was very proud of that piece of work.  It was selling fine, but Innovation had problems with other titles.  And after six issues were out, Innovation disappeared."

Innovation ended as a company on December 31, 1993, leaving the last 6 issues of Lost In Space (as well as the second of a 2 issue mini-series, Lost In Space: Project Robinson, focusing on the early life of Maureen and John Robinson) unpublished.

End of the Cliffhanger

Still, the story did eventually find its way out thanks to Bubblehead Publishing, which put out the 6 issues Innovation published, as well as the six issues that didn't come out in a graphic novel that came out in 2006 (copyrighted to 2005), finally allowing the Jupiter II crew to finish its trip (with a cover by John Severin)!

It was longer than a five year mission...but the goal of the Robinson's to make it to Alpha Centauri eventually got done, taking a few detours along the way...

 ....not unlike the series of Lost In Space itself!

Lost In Space Innovation Comic Guide

Lost In Space #1 (August, 1991)

Title: Seduction of the Innocent

Written by:  Matt Thompson & David Campiti
Art by: Eddy Newell & Mark Jones
Cover by: Mike Okamoto

Lost In Space #2 (November, 1991)

Title: The Cavern of Idyllic Summers Lost

Written by: George Broderick Jr.
Art by: Matt Thompson
Cover by: Jason Palmer

Lost In Space #3 (December, 1991)

Title: Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Written by: Bill Mumy
Art by: Michal Dutliewicz
Cover by: Jerome K. Moore

Lost In Space #4 (February, 1992)

Title: People Are Strange...When You're A Stranger

Written by: Bill Mumy & Kevin Burns
Art by: Michal Dutliewicz
Cover by: Mike Okamoto

Lost In Space #5 (March, 1992)

Title: The Perils Of Penelope

Written by: George Broderick Jr.
Art by: Peter Murphey & Matt Thompson
Cover by: Mike Okamoto

Lost In Space #6 (May, 1992)

Title: In Unity There Is Strength

Written by: Terry Collins
Art by: John Garcia
Cover by: Mike Okamoto

Lost In Space Annual #1 (1992)

Title: Two Thousand Light Years From Home

Written by: Miguel Ferrer
Art by: Michal Dutkiewicz & Barb Kaalberg
Cover by: Joe Jusko

Lost In Space #7 (June, 1992)

Title: Don's Dilemma

Written by: Mark Goddard (Major Don West!)
Art by: Dan Day & David Day
Cover by: Mike Okamoto

Lost In Space #8 (August, 1992)

Title: Waxx & Wave

Written by: Matt Thompson
Art by: Matt Thompson
Cover by: Mike Okamoto

Lost In Space #9 (October, 1992)

Title: Giving Thanks

Written by: Bill Mumy
Art by: Michal Dutkiewicz
Cover by: George Perez

Lost In Space #10 (November, 1992)

Title: Afterthoughts

Written by: Karen May
Art by: Michal Dutkiewicz
Cover by: Jason Palmer

Lost In Space #11 (December, 1992)

Title: Memories Left Behind

Written by: Terry Collins
Art by: Bruce Jones, Steve Jones & Michal Dutkiewicz
Cover by: Jason Palmer

Lost In Space Annual #2 (1993)

Title:Whatever Happened To Baby Bloop?

Written by: Peter David & Bill Mumy
Art by: Michal Dutkiewicz & Jim Key
Cover by: Jill Thompson

Lost In Space #12 (April, 1993)

Title: The Price of Treason

Written by: Robert M. Ingersoll
Art by: Shane Glines & Matt Thompson
Cover by: Jason Palmer

Lost In Space #13 (August, 1993)

Title: Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul Part 1
Across The Universe

Written by: Bill Mumy
Art by: Michal Dutkiewicz
Cover by: Mike Deodato Jr.

Lost In Space #14 (September, 1993)

Title: Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul Part 2
Images of Broken Light

Written by: Bill Mumy
Art by: Michal Dutkiewicz
Cover by: Mike Deodato Jr.

Lost In Space #15 (August, 1993)

Title: Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul Part 3
They Tumble Blindly

Written by: Bill Mumy
Art by: Michal Dutkiewicz
Cover by: Mike Deodato Jr.

Lost In Space #16 (September, 1993)

Title: Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul Part 4
Shades of Earth

Written by: Bill Mumy
Art by: Michal Dutkiewicz
Cover by: Mike Deodato Jr.

Lost In Space #17 (October, 1993)

Title: Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul Part 5
Like A Restless Wind

Written by: Bill Mumy
Art by: Michal Dutkiewicz
Cover by: Mike Deodato Jr.

Lost In Space #18 (November, 1993)

Title: Voyage to the Bottom of the Soul Part 6
Change My World

Written by: Bill Mumy
Art by: Michal Dutkiewicz
Cover by: Mike Deodato Jr.

Lost In Space: Project Robinson #1 (November, 1993)

Title: It's A Secret, Just The Robinson's Affair

Written by: Christine Hantzopulous-Hunt
Art by: Mike Deodato Jr. & Luke Ross
Cover by: CW Taylor

Monday, June 23, 2014

2014 Hasbro Marvel San Diego Comic Con Exclusives

A pair of items that Hasbro is releasing at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con sure to get Marvel fans and Hasbro toy collectors excited...

...just in time for the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and a certain grey bad guy as well!

Marvel Legends

First off...and priced at $99.99 (a bargain as you'll get 5 figures in the set, and some extras...), a set of Marvel Legends Infinite Series 6-inch figures is based on the Marvel story line "The Thanos Imperative" — included are the Inhumans' Black Bolt and Medusa, Gladiator, Blastaar and Star-Lord from the Guardians of the Galaxy. They all arrive in a special-edition box designed to look like the Galactus Engine from the comics.

Next up is another pack of 3¾-inch figures (at the price point of $74.99) comes from the classic miniseries The Infinity Gauntlet and features Nebula, Starfox, Mistress Death and the cosmic villain Thanos, who comes with his own Infinity Gauntlet. But he's not the only guy who gets one — Marvel's looking out for fans, too, by including a wearable foam Infinity Gauntlet glove in case you want to rule outer space yourself.

Each of the sets will be available at the Hasbro booth at Comic-Con, with a limited number sold after the convention at but it might be easier to get a real Infinity Gauntlet!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Good Night Nurse!

One of the things we should all give thanks for are the doctor’s assistants, and those that help you recover, the nurses!

Marvel Comics even featured nurses in their attempt at medical soap opera, the title of Night Nurse, that started in November, 1972 and asked you to “enter the world of danger, drama and death!”.

Night Nurse focused on three student nurses in a big city, blond Linda Carter, brunette Georgia Jenkins and redhead Christine Palmer.  The issues were written by Jean Thomas (wife of writer/editor Roy Thomas) and drawn by Win Mortimer (known more for his work with Batman in Detective Comics, Superboy and Supergirl in Adventure Comics, and in Superman Family on Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Supergirl as well as on Spidey Super Stories with Spider-Man).

The Support Team Behind The Nurse

The stories don’t even deal with the rest of the Marvel Universe of the time, focusing instead on the relationships of the ladies, and problems like blackouts and the mob…at least until the fourth issue, focusing on Christine Palmer and ghosts (with a great cover by John Romita and Joe Sinnott…the other covers were by Win Mortimer)….and the series ended with #4 in May 1973.

The Return of the Night Nurse

But, that wasn’t the end of the Night Nurse, as a Night Nurse came back to help Daredevil in Daredevil #58 (May 2004) (and that was her identity, later to be revealed as Linda Carter…no relationship to the Lynda Carter who played Wonder Woman in the later 1970s, by the way).  Linda Carter also returned to hook up with Doctor Strange in the Doctor Strange: The Oath mini-series, as well as siding with Captain America’s team during Marvel’s Civil War, but these times, she had moved up from being a nurse to being a full-fledged doctor.  Christine Palmer also returned during the 2004 Nightcrawler mini-series….

Nurse History

…but it doesn’t end there.  Appears there was a series published by Atlas Comics (the precursor to Marvel), staring (and titled) Linda Carter, Student Nurse that had a nine issue run from September, 1961 to January, 1963, with art and coves by Al Hartley and stories by Stan Lee…and that was the same Linda Carter as was in Night Nurse (even if she was a brunette then)!   Seems these nurses can travel time and space as well, being great doctor’s companions (and, wasn’t there another Doctor who had companions…specifically a blond, brunette and a redhead…that we’re all thankful for?)

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Robert Kanigher's Other Wonder Women

Some of you might remember writer Robert Kanigher as Sgt. Rock and Easy Company co-creator (with Joe Kubert), or as an editor (and then writer) of Wonder Woman (being the first writer to take over Wonder Woman from creator William Moulton Marston).  You might even know he co-created the Suicide Squad, the Metal Men, the Haunted Tank and the Sea Devils, as well as writing the first Barry Allen Flash story in Showcase #4...but he also created a little more as well!

Black Canary

Along with artist Carmine Infantino, Robert Kanigher created the original Black Canary (Dinah Drake) in the Thunderbolt feature in Flash Comics #86 in August, 1947 (with a dinosaur on the cover, not Black Canary, but hey, Kanigher later co-created the "War That Time Forgot" series, where dinosaurs fought soldiers), missing only Flash Comics #89, and she took over the feature from poor Johnny Thunder with Flash Comics #92 (February, 1948, which also introduced her boyfriend, and later husband, Larry Lance...and father of the second Black Canary who was in the Justice League and Birds of Prey).   

Kanigher and Infantino did all her individual features up until the last issue of Flash Comics #104 (February, 1949) and two unpublished stories as well (that got published in DC Special #3 in April-June, 1969, and Adventure Comics #399 in November, 1970, and all these tales plus her two Brave & the Bold #61 and 62 by Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson, and two Adventure Comics back-ups from #418 and 419 by Denny O'Neil and Alex Toth are in the Black Canary Archives!). 


Black Canary also took over Johnny Thunder's spot in the Justice Society of America, and while there, she faced the Harlequin.  Not Batman's foe, but the foe of the original Green Lantern, a lady named Molly Mayne (still a little crazy, and in love with Alan Scott, the original Green Lantern!).  Harlequin first appeared in All-American Comics #89 (September, 1947 by Kanigher and artist Irwin Hasen).

Harlequin returned many times, in All-American Comics #91, 93, 94 and 95, as well as Green Lantern #29, 31, 32, 33, 34 and 36, and Comic Cavalcade #28, using hologram projecting glasses and a wooden mandolin as weapons, even working with the Injustice Society in All-Star Comics #41 (June-July, 1948) where she met Black Canary.  Molly still loved Alan, and finally did marry him later, during Roy Thomas' Infinity, Inc. run.  Sadly, most of her individual appearances have not been reprinted.

Mademoiselle Marie

Originally just a member of the French Resistance during World War II, Marie fought the Nazis starting with Star-Spangled War Stories #84 (August, 1959) by Kanigher and artist Jerry Grandenetti.  Mlle. Marie's appearances lasted through Star-Spangled War Stories #91 (wherein her feature was taken over by the dinosaurs of the War that Time Forgot), but Marie soldiered on, meeting Sgt. Rock, Johnny Cloud, the members of the Haunted Tank, the Hellcats and the Unknown Soldier (all World War II heroes, co-created by Kanigher).

Marie's final fate was hinted at in Detective Comics #501-502 in 1981, and her murder solved by Batman and Checkmate #21-22 made Mademoiselle Marie a "legacy" name, naming the World War II Marie...Anais Guillot.  DC Universe: Legacies #4 hints that Marie might have indeed survived World War II...and has a son that looks like Sgt. Rock!  Marie also had a World War II one-shot in November, 2010 by writer Billy Tucci and artists Justiniano and Tom Derenick, with a cover by Brian Bolland as well.

Rose and Thorn

There were two women with the Rose and Thorn name..and they were both created by Robert Kanigher!  The first as a foe of the Golden Age Flash in Flash Comics #89 (November, 1947 with art by Joe Kubert) who only had one other published golden age story in Flash Comics #96 (though parts of another unprinted story were reprinted in Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #113, among other places....).  The Thorn was a split personality (the good girl being Rose Canton), faced the Flash with poison darts, and she returned to face Black Canary (and the JLA) in JLA: Year One #2, as well as the JSA in All-Star Comics #72-73....and then more of her history was revealed in Infinity Inc. and especially in Infinity Inc. Annual #1...with the Harlequin as well!

The second Rose and Thorn started in Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #105 (October, 1970) in a story written by Kanigher, with art by Ross Andru (who had worked with Kanigher on Wonder Woman as well).  Rose Forrest was a police detective's daughter, traumatized by the death of her dad at the hands of the 100 (an evil crime syndicate based in Metropolis).  This caused Rose to develop the split personality of the Thorn (hiding her short blond hair with a brown wig)...and working to take the mobsters down, occasionally making a wild and wacky Lois Lane cover (and co-starring in the main feature).   

Kanigher wrote most of the back ups (with Cary Bates writing a few), and other artists on the series included Gray Morrow, Dick Giordano, Rich Buckler and Don Heck by the back-ups end in Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #130.  Rose and Thorn came back in Superman #336 (June, 1979, by Len Wein and Curt Swan), and in two issues of Brave and the Bold (#188 and #189, written by Kanigher, and art by Jim Aparo) with Batman.

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, in Dan Jurgens' Booster Gold fighting a new, expanded 100 (now the 1000, in Booster's earliest issues as he settled into Metropolis) and even helped in the Superman title crossover Panic in the Sky, as well as working with the new Green Arrow (Connor Hawke) for a short time as well as having a few tales in the Showcase revival of the mid-1990s, as well as appearing in the early issues of Joker's gal pal, Harley Quinn (no relation to the earlier Harlequin...though Thorn didn't make the covers of #3 and #14 of Harley Quinn), unlike the next Kanigher creation!

Poison Ivy 

The character that brings most of them together!  Kanigher and Shelly Moldoff (ghosting for Batman co-creator Bob Kane) introduced Poison Ivy in Batman #181 (June, 1966) basing her look off popular pin-up girl Bettie Page!  (You can see it in Carmine Infantino's cover for the issue, and she was used as Catwoman was considered "too sexy" to use in the comics of the time).  Pamela Isley was just a seductive thief to start (and was back pretty Batman #183) before disappearing again (though that first tale was reprinted in Batman #208, with cover art by noted good girl artist Nick Cardy).  Kanigher even brought her back to face the Thorn in  Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #116 (November, 1971, with art by Dick Giordano, who also drew Wonder Woman and Green Arrow/Black Canary back-ups for a time).   

Len Wein and Dick Dillin brought her back as a member of the Injustice Gang of the World (a team of villains including Scarecrow, Chronos, Mirror Master, Shadow-Thief and the Tattooed Man) to face the JLA in Justice League of America #111 (May-June, 1974) and Black Canary was there in the team's second appearance in Justice League of America #143. 

With DC Special Series #6 (November, 1977), Poison Ivy joined forces with Grodd, Sinestro, Bizarro and Kanigher created Wonder Woman foe, the Angle Man to fight the JLA with the Secret Society of Super-Villains!  Later still, she joined forces with all DC villains in the Crisis on Infinite Earths!

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths (where she faced Phantom Lady, a heroine who looked like a pin-up girl), Poison Ivy joined the Suicide Squad (another series originally co-created by Kanigher, though this version included DC villains (like Deadshot and Count Vertigo) thanks to an update by writer John Ostrander, and she was there on and off from issues #33 to #66), and that team faced Checkmate! (which later included a legacy of Mademoiselle Marie!).

Poison Ivy also grew...becoming a champion of the plant kingdom, and even getting a greener hue....and becoming friends with Joker's gal pal, Harley Quinn! 

In the Harley Quinn series, you can see more of the pin-up girl in the art of Terry and Rachel Dodson...and more so in her later appearances as well, like in Gotham City Sirens, and she was even part of the Birds of Prey with Black Canary to start of the New 52!

All of this shows us one thing...that if it wasn't for Robert Kanigher, there'd be a lot less complex female characters for women to cosplay at comic conventions or for writers and artists to explore in the pages of DC Comics!