Thursday, February 26, 2015

More Early Brave and the Bold Team-Ups

The mid-1960s was a time of change at DC Comics!  Showcase was featuring more teams of adventurers (like the Challengers of the Unknown and the Sea Devils) and even robots (the Metal Men), and while Brave and the Bold dabbled in that, uniting various DC solo stars (including Flash and Green Lantern who got their start in Showcase) in the Justice League of America, Brave and the Bold went one step further with its 50th issue and started to team-up even more members of the DC Universe!  Picking up where we left off...

Mighty Mite Meets An Alloy

The Atom was the first return star (and the mighty mite also got a rebirth in Showcase, leading to his own title and a membership in the Justice League), and he came back to meet Doc Will Magnus’ robots…the mighty Metal Men (Gold, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Tin and Platinum aka Tina!).  With Brave & the Bold #55 (August-September 1964, by Bob Haney and Ramona Fradon) the links in the DC Universe just grew, and we learned of Doc Magnus’ first robot, Uranium (and the robot that it created, Agantha…who was the element Silver) in the “Revenge of the Robot Reject”.  Battling menaces that Doc Magnus created just seemed to be something the Metal Men did, but this time, the Atom was a part of the mix…and both Atom and the Metal Men would return for one more non-Batman team-up, as well as many team-ups with Batman (in fact, they both even returned for team-ups with Batman and Green Arrow, a distinction they share only with the heroes Green Lantern, Robin and Black Canary!).

Return of the Scarlet Speedster and Manhunter from Mars

With Brave & the Bold #56 (October-November 1964, by Haney and Bernard Baily), it’s the first return for two stars (but neither had teamed with each other in B&B).  Flash and the Martian Manhunter had both been growing in popularity (with J’onn J’onnz moving from the back of Detective Comics to a lead feature in House of Mystery at this point), and these two faced the “Raid of the Mutant Marauders”.  It was actually a mutant android, who had the ability to become a morphed version of heroes (like half-Batman, half-Green Arrow; half-Aquaman, half-Hawkman, and even half-Martian Manhunter and half-Flash…and, he gets a little extra coverage as Batman and Green Arrow ended up being one of B&Bs most popular team-ups, foreshadowed here) who was exiled to Earth by Queen Tatania because he fell in love with her.  And the two heroes weren’t even totally responsible for its defeat…they pulled in Hawkgirl!  Irony abounds here…because of all the members of the JLA (up to and including Firestorm) only Hawkgirl and Martian Manhunter never shared a cover billing with Batman!  This, along with B&B’s first Batman/Green Lantern team-up in #59 ends where the Brave and the Bold Team-Up Archives…but not the end of the story!

The Element of Change

Change was in the air…for Brave and the Bold and for its format (at least for a bit); starting with Brave & the Bold #55, George Kashdan was the solo editor of the book (having shared that title with Murray Boltinoff through issue #54), and for Brave and the Bold #57 (December 1964-January 1965) and Brave & the Bold #58 (February-March 1965), the book had a solo star whom George Kashdan came up with the basic idea of…that of Metamorpho, the Element Man!

From John WellsAmerican Comic Book Chronicles 1960-1964 - “Working from Kashdan’s formative concept, Haney named the character and wrote the script for the origin.  In the process, he developed one of the 1960′s most sharply-defined superhero casts: sarcastic adventurer Rex Mason, transformed by the mysterious Orb of Ra into Metamorpho; his wealthy blonde girlfriend Sapphire Stagg, torn between her love for Rex and her devotion to her daddy; scheming magnate Simon Stagg, whose lust for power was equaled by his desire to prevent Mason from marrying into his empire; and Java, a resurrected caveman who gleefully joined in Simon’s plots while secretly coveting Sapphire for himself”.  Kashdan and Haney brought Ramona Fradon out of maternity leave to illustrate the adventures…who graduated to a 17 issue series of his own…as well as coming back to Brave and the Bold frequently…and even being a founder of Batman’s own super-team, the Outsiders!  Sadly, these two issues have only been reprinted in black & white recently in Showcase Presents: Metamorpho, but #57 was in Super-DC Giant S-16 (1970) and #58 was in World’s Finest Comics #228 (March 1975).  Brave & the Bold #59 (April-May 1965) was also by Haney and Fradon, and introduced the Time Commander (but more on this when covering the Batman team-ups of Brave & the Bold).

The Kids Are Alright

Brave & the Bold #60 (June-July 1965) also gets a quick mention, as it was technically a solo feature, introducing the Teen Titans in a story by Bob Haney, with art by Bruno Premiani…and a cover by Nick Cardy with the kids facing the menace of the Separated Man!  This idea was capitalizing on the success of B&B #54, where the sidekicks originally met, and this made a more formal team of them, adding Wonder Girl to mix (more on that here...).  The Teen Titans came back to team with Batman four times over the history of the Brave & the Bold, as well as one team-up with Superman in World’s Finest Comics and 43 issues in their original run…and then a run from #44-53 in the 1970s, and the wild success of Wolfman and Perez‘s New Teen Titans starting in the 1980s.

This story was reprinted in the Silver Age Teen Titans Archive #1 and in Showcase Presents: Teen Titans #1.

Back To The Past

The DC Universe was growing by leaps and bounds in the mid-1960s…and helped along by the reintroduction of the original DC super-team…the Justice Society of America!  Brave & the Bold #61 and #62 (August-September and October-November 1965) cashed in on that phenomenon with a team-up of Starman (Ted Knight) and the Black Canary (Dinah Drake Lance)!  Golden Age characters like Flash, Green Lantern and Atom were reinvented in Showcase, and Hawkman modernized in Brave & the Bold, as was the idea of the Justice Society, becoming the Justice League.  Flash #123 (September 1961) brought back the original Flash, and then with Flash #137 (June 1963), the whole Justice Society was acknowledged as living on Earth-2 (a separate world away from the current heroes, but one they could interact with).  In Showcase #55 & #56 (March-April and May-June 1965), Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson had two issues featuring Dr. Fate and Hourman (two heroes who didn’t have modern counterparts) and with B&B #61 and #62, had Starman and Black Canary (with stunning art by Murphy Anderson on both issues).  The first issue had the pair fight Starman’s old foe, the Mist, and the second put them up against original Green Lantern foe, the Sportsmaster, and Wildcat foe, the Huntress. 

This was even the first Silver Age appearance of Wildcat (who would be no stranger to Brave & the Bold….but, it ended up being the Earth-1 Wildcat teaming up with Batman, in a kind of accidental creation…one of those little details that Bob Haney occasionally overlooked in his zeal to tell great stories, not unlike the creation of a modern day Wonder Girl).  For more on the 1960s appearances of the Justice Society of America, check out Alter Ego #94, which also has part of a great interview with George Kashdan by Jim Amash that gives more details on this era including on Metamorpho, and for reprints of these tales, B&B #61 is in Crisis on Multiple Earths: Team-Ups #1, B&B #62 is in Crisis on Multiple Earths:Team-Ups #2, and both are in the Black Canary Archives #1.

That’s all the space left for now, but there are still some non-Batman B&B adventures to cover, and they even involve most of the people here with a few new surprises…so, come back soon and they’ll be here.

B&B seeing you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Showcase on Hourman and Dr. Fate

The Justice Society was proving quite popular at DC in the 1960s, and they were looking to expand on that premise.

Two of the JSAers who hadn't been revived before the re-introduction of the JSA in Flash #137 (and thus didn't have Silver Age counterparts) were Dr. Fate and Hourman.  Their Golden age history was notated here, but....they had a little early Silver Age spotlight of their own in two issues of Showcase!

The First Showcase

Showcase #55 (March-April, 1965) was the first of the magician and the man of the hour teaming up (and more or less without the JSA since More Fun Comics #98 (July-August, 1944) for Dr. Fate, and Adventure Comics #83 (February, 1943) for Hourman...though the Golden Age Green Lantern also guested in this tale (as well he should, as the duo faced GL's Golden Age foe, the swamp-monster Solomon Grundy, in his first Silver Age appearance).  This issue by writer Gardner Fox and artist Murphy Anderson also features Dr. Fate's long time companion, Inza Nelson (formerly Cramer, Inza must have married Kent Nelson, a.k.a. Dr. Fate between his last Golden Age appearance and this issue!).  Solomon Grundy also returned from a trap on the moon, which he had already escaped...but, this was explained in the early issues of All-Star Squadron), and the swamp man was defeated with spells and hour long strength. 

Second Showcase

Showcase #56 (May-June, 1965) did have the man of Miraclo and the helmeted magician, this time against a new menace (though, like Flash, Atom and others, inspired by an old one).  Roger Hayden, a cellmate of Charley Halstead, took over his criminal identity of the Psycho Pirate, as well as using the Medusa Mask to get the power to manipulate emotions.

Psycho Pirate shows up again, facing the Spectre in Spectre #5 (July-August, 1968), and the JSA as a whole in All-Star Comics #66-68 (1977), and returning as Hourman's representative foe in the Secret Society of Super-Villians in Justice League of America #195-197 (1981) (continuing into All-Star Squadron #26 and Annual #2 of 1983), before working for the Anti-Monitor during the Crisis on Infinite Earths...and later battling the heirs to the JSA, Infinity Inc. (including Hourman's son, the second Hourman - Rick Tyler).  Wendi Harris (the original Hourman's actress fiancee) was also a part of this issue.

First Meeting

Hourman and Dr. Fate first met in DC Special #29 (August-September, 1977 by Paul Levitz and Joe Staton), when Dr. Fate realized that Batman, Flash and Green Lantern were not having success against Hitler and his forces.

No reason was given why the magic-based Dr. Fate picked the scientific Hourman...

...but this piece of retroactive continuity (telling a story set in the past to explain later events) seemed this formed a friendship between the two that lasted over decades...

Gathering of Foes

...including All-Star Squadron #51-54 (of 1985/1986 by writer Roy Thomas and artists Mike Clark and Arvell Jones), wherein Dr. Fate, Hourman (and Sandman's partner, Sandy and Hawkman's partner, Hawkgirl) face off against the Mr. Mind's Monster Society of Evil which included Hawkman foe, priestess of the weather Nyola (from the Hawkman tale of All-Star Comics #2 of Fall, 1940), Sandman foe, plant manipulating Ramulus (formerly known as Nightshade when he first appeared in ), Dr. Fate foe, master of Solution Z Mr. Who (from More Fun Comics #73, #74 and #79 before this appearance, and after in More Fun Comics #91 and Infinite Crisis #7), and Spectre foe, Oom (from All-Star Comics #3, the Spectre tale of the first meeting of the JSA).  Since Spectre later borrowed Hourman's foe, Psycho Pirate for an issue, it only seems fair, as this tale set in 1942 has Hourman facing an old foe of Spectre's!  These four heroes were looking for the missing JSA (missing because of events of the Crisis On Infinite Earths, and how they related to it in 1942, and detailed in All-Star Squadron #50 of October, 1985, and related to the original All-Star Comics #13 Justice Society adventure cover dated October-November, 1942); and at the end, Monster Society also included the foe of the western Vigilante, the Dummy as well.  It also set things up for Mr. Mind to eventually reform the Monster Society of Evil and face the foe he was known for facing, Captain Marvel.

All this just goes to show how interrelated comic characters can get over's like magic!

Just for completeness sake, here's the cover's of the premiere of the Earth-2 members of the Monster Society of Evil (though they aren't on the original covers...).

Nyola and Oom from All-Star Comics #2 and #3.  Nyola created by Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff; Oom created by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily

Ramulus (originally known as Nightshade, but DC was getting Nightshade, a character from Charlton Comics, and his original tale of World's Finest Comics #6 was reprinted in Wanted #9), and was created by Jack Kirby

Mr. Who (his first tale of More Fun Comics #73 was reprinted in Wanted #8, and all his tales vs. Dr. Fate are in the Golden Age Dr. Fate Archives) and was created by Gardner Fox and Howard Sherman; Mister Who's Solution Z allowed him to change size, become invisible and intangible and adapt to any danger.



Thursday, February 19, 2015

Avengers History 102

We’re back with more Avengers history! The charter members were covered before, and this time, we look at the first Avenger addition…Captain America, and the rest of his kooky quartet (Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver…and a little more as well)!

You’ve seen comics advertise themselves as being the story after which you’ve read it, nothing will be the same….but, with Avengers #4 (March 1964), this was most definitely the case. The founding Avengers were looking for the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner (due to events in Avengers #3, covered last time), and Namor himself, while fleeing the team…stumbled across a frozen man worshiped by Eskimos, and freed the ice statue to land in warmer waters…to be found by the Avengers! That man was the hero of World War II…Steve Rogers, a.k.a Captain America!

A Hero Returns

After a little confusion, as he had been in the ice flow since April of 1945, Cap was welcomed by the team (who he saved from an alien menace, with some help from Rick Jones), and became a team member in this story by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. This issue (along with Fantastic Four #4, which reintroduced the Sub-Mariner, added the Timely Comics/Atlas Comics history to the young Marvel Comics…though this would not be explored until later…but, we’ll touch on it a little as it affects the Avengers).

Captain America (along with his partner Bucky, and seemingly eternal foe, the Red Skull), all premiered in Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941) by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, where Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes began their fight against the evil Axis of World War II. Steve Rogers had been a young man not quite fit enough to serve in the armed forces, but volunteered for an experimental Super-Soldier Serum with Dr. Erskine that would allow him to be the epitome of the fighting soldier. Cap, along with young Bucky, became an elite force fighting the enemy (Cap getting his round Vibranium-Adamantium shield soon after this first appearance, then meeting up with the original android Human Torch and his young partner, Toro and the aquatic Sub-Mariner and others to fight the Nazi menace; and these Invaders were successful).

But, because you ask…why didn’t the Sub-Mariner recognize Cap? And, wasn’t there a Captain America around after World War II? Well, that’s a little advanced, but the Invaders didn’t really come into existence until the 1970s with stories set in World War II, facing foes like the vampiric Baron Blood and the Super-Axis, and the lack of memories was later explained by Sub-Mariner’s massive memory loss that had him homeless for a time until found by the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch and the trauma of Steve Rogers awakening, and those later Timely Comics were explained away as being different people being Captain America and Bucky (who also worked with the Human Torch, Toro and the Sub-Mariner, as well as the Whizzer and Miss America in the All-Winners Squad)…even though Steve Rogers and James Barnes disappeared, the President decided the USA still needed a Captain America and Bucky, and so recruited replacements, a theme that would be explored many times as well).

Avengers #4 also introduced one of Captain America’s most vile villains, Baron Zemo, but we didn’t see him until Avengers #6 (Zemo was the man responsible for the rocket launch that ended up getting Cap caught in the ice…and, to all the world, the death of Bucky; and he had an earlier WWII appearance in Sgt. Fury #8, both dated July 1964). Cap had to deal with others from the World War II era as well…both friends and foes, over the years, including the various members of the homefront heroes – the Liberty Legion (older Timely characters whose 1940s adventures together were started in the 1970s), Nick Fury and the rest of his Howling Commandos (WWII characters whose combat classics started in 1963, and Nick Fury took control of the counter-terrorist group S.H.I.E.L.D. in Strange Tales) , and villains like Baron Von Strucker, the Hate-Monger and Arnim Zola, as well as Third Reich inspired menaces such as Hydra and A.I.M., proving that, even though Captain America had cooled his heels for a time, evil was still active!

Cap and the Avengers didn’t have much of a break, as the team headed over to help the Fantastic Four against the Hulk in Fantastic Four #25 & 26 (April & May 1964, by Lee & Kirby), then came back to their own title for Avengers #5 (May 1964) to fight the Lava Men, a race that lived under the Earth whom Thor had fought before. And, the individual team members still continued to face menaces on their own in their own titles, and other events continued to transpire across the Marvel Universe as well which would change the lives of the Avengers…

Then, Cap’s foe, Baron Heinrich Zemo returned in Avengers #6 (July 1964), and changed the course of Avengers history, bringing with him Iron Man foe-the Melter, Thor villain-the Radioactive Man and Giant-Man menace-the Black Knight, assembled as the Masters of Evil! This team would add on more members, starting with Avengers #7 (August 1964), when Asgardians Enchantress and the Executioner joined. This team continued to menace the Avengers, resulting in the creation of Wonder Man (a future Avenger, and the first member to be introduced in the Avengers) in Avengers #9 (October 1964), working with time-traveling villain Immortus in Avengers #10 (November 1964), and Captain America finally ending Baron Zemo’s life (though Zemo had brought about his own end in the jungles of South America, as Cap would have brought him to justice) in Avengers #15 (April 1965).

The Avengers also faced other foes, starting in September 1964, with the time-traveling Kang in Avengers #8 (another time traveller? And, this one was once Rama-Tut, who faced the Fantastic Four, who decided on an armored identity after meeting Dr. Doom…surely his history couldn’t get more complex…he couldn’t be related to Immortus or a member of the Fantastic Four, could he?), who returned for Avengers #11 (December 1964); Fantastic Four foes Red Ghost and the Mole Man in Avengers #12 (January 1965); head of the Maggia family of organized crime Count Nefaria in Avengers #13 (February 1965); and the alien Kallusians in Avengers #14 (March 1965). With the events of Avengers #15…the team was getting exhausted (as was the behind the scenes team, artist Jack Kirby had not been doing all the issue, Don Heck was sometimes the artist)…and ready for new members, as the members began to battle each other on occasion!

Cap's Kooky Quartet

More new members came with Avengers #16 (May 1965) in what was the biggest Avengers membership shake-up of the time. Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man and the Wasp all wanted to get back to their own lives (and titles…though sadly, Giant-Man and the Wasp weren’t to have Tales To Astonish as a home for much longer…), and the team added new members…Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye?

But…weren’t they all villains?

And, how would this team do against the level of threats the Avengers usually face?
Well, the answers are coming….first, though a few answers about of this team’s past!

Amazing Archer

First up is the amazing archer, Hawkeye. Hawkeye first slung his bow in Tales of Suspense #57 (in September, 1964, and, with Black Widow making her first Avengers appearance in Avengers #16, but still not joining…mostly because she was injured, and taken away, leaving Hawkeye on his own). Clint Barton had learned his trade in the circus, and wanted to be a hero, but a misunderstanding helped him miss the mark…and branded him a villain for a time, battling Iron Man under the manipulations of the Black Widow, whom he fell in love with (herself caught in a web of intrigue that would take her years to escape…with some help from Nick Fury and the Avengers!).

Still, after crossing paths with the armored Avenger (and a certain wall-crawler as well) and a little help from the Avengers’ butler, Edwin Jarvis, Hawkeye became the second new member of the Avengers, having his crimes cleared! (How ironic, since later, Hawkeye, on a break from the Avengers, worked with the Defenders, who were composed of the Hulk, Silver Surfer and Sub-Mariner – who were thought of menaces; and later, as leader of the Thunderbolts, a team whose members also tried to get past troubled pasts!). Hawkeye would leave the team to strike out on his own over the years, change to other identities, but always returned, and even led their California team, the West Coast Avengers, for a time.

Merry Mutants

Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch started in X-Men #4 (March 1964, by Lee & Kirby…and, do you see four as an important number to this creative duo?) as members of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (along with the bestial Toad and aloof Mastermind). The brother and sister were mutants on the run (easier for him, with his speed powers, but not as easier for her, with a vague “hex-power” that altered probability…and an affinity for magic).

Pietro and Wanda Maximoff were gypsy orphans, saved from an angry mob by Magneto, and forced to join his Brotherhood against their wishes. The mutant twins fought the X-Men and others (and their own teammates) while struggling to find a place in a world that feared them, lacking any parental support (and, oh, how complicated their past was!). After the alien Stranger took Magneto out of the picture and the Brotherhood disbanded for a time, they were looking for a home…one that they thought the Avengers, who had just inducted Hawkeye, could provide! (and, boy, did the twins future get complicated, finding out their real parentage, as well as a marriage to an android for Wanda, and one to an Inhuman for Pietro! It seems there is no escaping family…).

The other Avengers then left the team…Thor, to fight the Absorbing Man and be involved in a trial of the gods against his brother, Loki, in Journey Into Mystery #114-116, Iron Man to face Avengers’ foe, Count Nefaria, in Tales of Suspense #67, and Giant-Man and the Wasp to face the Hidden Man in Tales To Astonish #67 (though their schedule would free up soon!).

Avengers Get Busy

The new team tried to bring the Hulk back in Avengers #17 (in June 1965, with little success, he was busy in Tales To Astonish #69, fighting the Leader and reclaiming Rick Jones as his partner, and, ironically, this was the last issue of the Giant-Man and Wasp feature as well), and instead the team faced the Minotaur, then faced Major Hoy and the Commissar in Avengers #18 (July 1965), and tried for a new member…the Swordsman (after pretty much everyone mentioned above attended the wedding of Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Girl in Fantastic Four Annual #3).

Swinging Swords

Swordsman (Jacques DuQuesne) arrived to take a shot at the Avengers (inspired by Hawkeye to don a heroic persona, as it was revealed that Swordsman was responsible for trouble at the circus Clint Barton had worked at, and Jacques had helped trained the archer…though not in archery). The sword-welding rouge first appeared in in Avengers #19 (August 1965), and joined the team briefly in Avengers #20 (September 1965) as a plot of the Mandarin’s to kill the team. Ironically, Jacques decided not to go though with the plan, but like Hawkeye, had been accused of the wrong-doing…and thus had to escape the team in disgrace, coming back to face the team and its members as a villain again and again with his trick sword that the Mandarin had provided him (as his history with the Avengers isn’t over yet!).

The Enchantress returned to face the team, bringing a new strongman, Power Man (Erik Josten, a former henchman who had been created by the same process Zemo used to create Wonder Man…and has no relation to future Avenger Luke Cage…who eventually takes his name, but Erik returns the favor and takes an Avenger’s!). Power Man premiered with Avengers #21 (in October 1965, and, worked with the Hulk foes, the Circus of Crime, in Avengers #22, November 1965). Kang faces the group in Avengers #23-24 (December 1965-January 1966), and that leads into a battle with Dr. Doom in Avengers #25 (February 1966), tying into the events of the rest of the Marvel Universe and establishing the Avengers as a force to be reckoned with, proving the worth of the new group!

The Wasp returned to the title in Avengers #26 (in March 1966, with Namor foe, Attuma, and Human Torch foe, the Beetle), and her friend Hank Pym followed along (both from the Sub-Mariner stories from Tales To Astonish #77 and #78 of 1966), changing his name from Giant-Man to Goliath, as they both rejoined the team in Avengers #28 (for May, 1966, just in time to face the new menace of the Collector, while the former Avengers kept busy in their own titles). The Collector, as well as Attuma and the Beetle, would return, separately, to cause trouble for the team….

Power Man returns with the Swordsman and Black Widow in June of 1966 with Avengers #29, and the team faces the Keeper of the Flame in Avengers #30-31 (July-August 1966), and then the villainous group of the Sons of the Serpent (as well as Hank Pym’s old friend, Bill Foster) in Avengers #32-33 (September-October 1966), deals with Spider-Man trying to be a member by sending him to check on the Hulk (but not joining yet in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3)...

...and with Avengers #34, cover-dated November 1966, faced the new villain of the Living Laser (who can manipulate light) and bids farewell to writer Stan Lee, as, starting with Avengers #35 (December, 1966), Roy Thomas takes on the writing duties.

With that, I’ll bid you farewell for a time, until we can pick up with more Avengers history!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Building A Black Goliath

Dr. William Barrett Foster was just the right guy in the right place at the right time...working for Tony Stark when Goliath (Hank Pym) was stuck at a larger size...and the Avengers were being attacked by the Sons of the Serpent in Avengers #32-35 (September to December, 1966, in stories by Stan Lee and Roy Thomas, with art by Don Heck).  This led to Foster being Pym's regular assistant (in Avengers #41, #54 (first appearance of Ultron), and #75 (first appearance of Arkon), and even being called in by the Avengers to help find the missing Ant-Man (Hank Pym, going back an identity) and Wasp in Marvel Feature #9 (May, 1973) during Ant-Man time being stuck at a smaller size and facing Dr. Nemesis.

Sidelined No Longer

Bill Foster finally took on a starting role, as he turned into Black Goliath for two issues of Power Man (#24 and #25, by Tony Isabella and George Tuska, and then Tony and Bill Mantlo with Ron Wilson in April and June of 1975).  In these two issues, Power Man (Luke Cage, who had taken the Power Man name from an Avengers villain), was looking for his friend Claire Temple, and she had been looking for Bill, her ex-husband, whom she married and left before his working with the Avengers.  Bill had duplicated the Pym growth formula, and taken it while working at Stark Industries in Los Angeles, convincing her he was stuck at giant size and working at a circus to help fund research to allow him back to normal size.  

Sadly, that circus was Ringmaster's Circus of Crime, which Power Man and Black Goliath ended up fighting; and Luke won Claire's heart.  Foster returned to LA...and his own series!

Big Man in Los Angeles

Black Goliath #1 (February, 1976 by Tony Isabella and George Tuska), details Bill Foster's return to the west coast and Los Angeles and Stark Industries facility there, and with encouragement from Hank Pym (the original Ant-Man, Giant-Man and Goliath, who was being Yellowjacket at the time with the Avengers, ignoring his size-increasing powers), decides to keep his Black Goliath identity and be a super-hero! 

During his first battle with the radioactive villain Atom-Smasher (Ronald English), and was dosed in radiation (which gave Bill Foster some problems with his size changing....but more on that later..).

The battle continued into Black Goliath #2 (April, 1976, by Chris Claremont and George Tuska), where Black Goliath wins (but with a cost...).  Also lurking behind the scenes was Warhawk (a super-powered assassin who had previously fought Iron Fist, though that wasn't revealed until later).

With Black Goliath #3 (June, 1976, also by Claremont and Tuska), Warhawk killed the Atom-Smasher at the behest of his employer....and Black Goliath faced off against the new villain of Vulcan...a super-strong, angry man, who broke into the Stark Industries facility to get an experimental device.

In Black Goliath #4 (August, 1976 written by Chris Claremont and art by Rich Buckler and Don Heck), Foster tries to find out what experiment was stolen from Tony Stark, but Stark wouldn't reveal the facts about it...and, while dealing with that, Black Goliath also had to face off against the old Daredevil foe of Stilt-Man, who used his Z-Ray to make Bill, and his friends Celia Jackson and her nephew Keith vanish... reappear in Black Goliath #5 (November, 1976 by Chris Claremont and Keith Pollard), wherein Black Goliath, Celia and Keith are found teleported to the alien planet of Kirgar, and face off with Mortag to get home!  All this, and sadly, it was the end of Black Goliath's regular series....but not the end of Black Goliath!

Hanging With Teams

After a brief team-up with the Fantastic Four's favorite pilot, the blue-eyed bashful Thing, to face off against the old Ant-Man villain, the Hijacker (in Marvel Two-In-One #24 of February, 1977 by writers Bill Mantlo and Jim Shooter, and art by Sal Buscema and Pablo Marcus), where the aptly-named villain tried to steal items from the Stark West facility while the Thing was there helping Dr. Bill Foster test a new type of space suit...

....(and a friendship between Bill and Benjamin J. Grimm started, which helped Bill out more than once later in his life!).

Still, what of the Stilt-Man and that missing item?

Well, check out Champions #11 and #12 (February and March of 1977), where Black Goliath works with odd west coast team of super-heroes (which include ex-Avengers Hercules and Black Widow, and ex-X-Men Angel and Iceman, as well as the demonic Ghost Rider), and things got Stranger (a cosmic villain that once faced the X-Men and Silver Surfer...). 

This led to a consulting job for Bill Foster with the Champions (which, sadly, didn't last long, as the team soon disbanded...sadder still as likely, Black Goliath would have also found a home there!).  Instead, he was looking for Spider-Woman (Jessica Drew) in Spider-Woman #4 (July, 1978), and ended up being a "Defender for a Day" (along with heroes like Captain Marvel, Captain Ultra, Falcon, Havok, Hercules, Iron Fist, Jack of Hearts, Marvel Man, Ms. Marvel, Nova, Paladin, Polaris, Prowler, Son of Satan, Stingray, Tagak, Torpedo and the White Tiger; heroes who hadn't really made it or were regular team members of any team at the time, all to the frustration of real Defender, Nighthawk), all called together when a documentary maker named Dollar Bill made a call for more Defenders members in Defenders #62-#65 in 1978.  This was also the last appearance of Black Goliath....

New Job, New Name Bill Foster took on the name of Giant-Man as he joined Project:P.E.G.A,S.U.S. (Bill Foster brought the body of Atom-Smasher to the facility in Marvel Two-In-One #54 of August, 1979 where he was greeted by the Thing and Quasar (formerly Marvel Man, now the head of security at this research facility; and Bill had to reveal his identity of Black Goliath to Ben in Marvel Two-In-One #55 in September, 1979).  Quite a bit more happened at Project:P.E.G.A,S.U.S., and it involved the amazonian Thundra, cybernetic Deathlok and alien Wundarr and even the Cosmic Cube as well, as the saga rolled on until Marvel Two-In-One #58 (December, 1979).

Eventually, Bill Foster revealed that he got a fatal dose of radiation from Atom-Smasher, and with the help of his friends, including the Thing, Iceman, Captain America and Spider-Woman, got treated for the problem....

...and continued to appear here and there across the Marvel Universe (more as Bill Foster), but eventually returning as Giant-Man (where he faced off against Ant-Man foe, Dr. Nemesis in Marvel Comics Presents #113-118 in 1992).

Back to Basics

But, Bill Foster had a chance encounter with the Thing (in Thing #1, January, 2006), and had become Goliath again, even making the cover of the last issue (Thing #8 of September, 2006).

Sadly, Bill Foster should have stayed in retirement, as his return coincided with the Marvel series, Civil War, which put heroes against heroes, with some of them, like Goliath (who had sided with Captain America against Iron Man), not making it out of the series alive.

(The poor guy couldn't even make a cover of the main series!).

Still, we can only hope that some day, Bill Foster will return (he did, as shown in this cover with popular Avengers like Tigra, Moon Knight, Mockingbird, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Mantis and Black Panther, from West Coast Avengers Annual #3 of 1988!) and that maybe Marvel would collect the original Black Goliath #1-5 (maybe along with the Ant-Man feature of Marvel Feature #4-10 of 1972?

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

Surprisingly, Marvel once celebrated Valentine's Day with its characters....back in April, 1997 with the Marvel Valentine Special!

Spidey & Mary Jane worked to help out a student in "My Fair Spidey" by Tom Peyer and Mark Buckingham.

Daredevil and Karen Page were working with a lady being abused by her boyfriend in "Love Hurts" by John Ostrander and Mary Mitchell.

Goddess Venus helped out a pair of aliens in "Atom-Age Amore" by Frank Strom and Dan DeCarlo.

Villain Absorbing Man got a Millie the Model doll for his girlfriend, Titania, in "The Greatest Gift!" by Tom DeFalco and Dan Lawlis.

Jean Grey reflects on her time with Cyclops away from the X-Men in "The Way!" by Tom DeFalco and Kyle Hotz.