Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

This cover's no turkey, though Wonder Woman, Flash (Jay Garrick) and Green Lantern (Alan Scott) are fighting to pen one, in this classic cover from Comic Cavalcade #18 (December-January, 1947) by Everett E. Hibbard!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Flash Facts Firestorm Foes

The CW Flash TV Show has been introducing a few villains lately, and these are a few of the ones seen recently...but, their comic book origins came from the Firestorm comic!

Let's take a look at the Sand Demon, Tokamak and Killer Frost through the pages of DC Comics!

Sand Demon

Eddie Slick was just a degenerate gambler, that happened to look like Martin Stein (half of the Firestorm hero, along with Ronnie Raymond).  Eddie managed a wrestler named King Crusher, who got some bad drugs and turned into a monster...looking for revenge on Eddie, but instead found Martin Stein in Fury of Firestorm #51 (September, 1986) by Gerry Conway and Joe Brozowski.  Firestorm forms, and attempts to stop King Crusher, and cure him as well in Fury of Firestorm #52 (October, 1986).

These losses were enough for the mob to want to "take care of" Eddie, whose dead body they dumped in the deserts of Las Vegas, where Eddie revived as the Sand Demon, to take on the Ronnie Raymond/Mikhail Arkadin Firestorm in Firestorm, the Nuclear Man #74 (August, 1988) by John Ostrander and Joe Brozowski.  Firestorm was worried that this was Martin Stein, so it took him a little longer to take down this villain who manipulated sand....but Firestorm ended the undead menace, saving Las Vegas (all in Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #75 of September, 1988!).  Ronnie soon found Martin as well!  How this related to the original Flash is a bit of a mystery, but Jay Garrick did face sand creatures in All-Flash #22 (April-May, 1946), which was represented in Four-Star Spectacular #1 (March-April, 1976) check my Golden Age Flash reprint guide for more info on this!


Henry Hewitt was wealthy, but all that wealth couldn't protect his health, as Henry had no immunity to diseases, making him very vulnerable (as shown in the Fury of Firestorm #15 of August, 1983, by Gerry Conway and Pat Broderick).  Henry used his Hewitt Corporation to found the 2000 Committee to take over the world, and try to save himself in the process.  First, Hewitt tried to use Firestorm's first foe, Multiplex, to recreate the conditions which created Firestorm, testing them on Senator Walter Reilly's daughter, Lorraine, turning her into Firehawk (in Fury of Firestorm #17 of October, 1983)...

...then on himself in Fury of Firestorm #18 (November, 1983, written by Gerry Conway, with art by George Tuska), and his battle with Firestorm using his new nuclear powers continued into the Fury of Firestorm Annual #1 of 1983, in which Firestorm cracked Tokamak's suit, causing him to fade away (though he did appear in the Crisis On Infinite Earths #10 of January, 1986, working for Luthor and Brainiac, so something likely saved the man who was a living nuclear reactor).

Tokamak later returned in Firestorm #14 (August, 2005) by Stuart Moore and Jamal Igle, creating a new villain out of Dr. Julius Hastur (that of the Pionic Man, for the pions that the physicist turned into, which were fading away until Hewitt made him a containment suit) for a new Firestorm (Jason Rusch)...

...but there wasn't much of an explanation for the return of Tokamak....

Then, Tokamak continued his vendetta against Firestorm in Firestorm the Nuclear Man #28 to #32 (October, 2006 to February, 2007), with Firestorm the Nuclear Man #31 (January, 2007) explaining how Henry survived, cloning himself and merging with the clone (and pretending to be his own son, Victor, to inherit his own money), as well as creating an army of cybernetic Dollies to aid him, getting Firestorm to accept Gehenna (a female clone he hyper-aged to keep as a daughter) to manipulate Firestorm, then worked against Martin Stein, Pozhar (Mikhail Arkadin's separate nuclear-powered identity) and Firehawk, and using a giant energy collecting Dollie to try to absorb the world's energy for himself, stopped only when Firestorm separated Henry from his clone (letting Henry die from his original radiation poisoning).  

Killer Frost

Crystal Frost first appeared in Firestorm #3 (May, 1978) by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom in the story "Kiss Not The Lips of Killer Frost" (which Firestorm was learning on the cover).  Crystal was a student at Hudson University, felt unloved and scorned by all men, except for her professor, Martin Stein, who encouraged her (and she held a unrequited love for).  Later, when Stein met her at a project in the Arctic, she found out he didn't love her, fell back on her inferiority complex, and then ended up in the thermofrost chamber (which transformed her into Killer Frost, a villain with a need for heat....that froze everything around her, including Martin Stein, saved only by being a part of Firestorm, who formed and Ronnie Raymond and Martin found a way to freeze the girl, stopping her rampage).

The scientists at S.T.A.R. Labs asked Superman to free Killer Frost with his heat vision in DC Comics Presents #17 (January, 1980 by Gerry Conway and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez), with Martin Stein trying to stop them (as always, they should have listened to Martin as Killer Frost got free, turned the scientists and Superman into her slaves, and were only stopped by the newly reformed Firestorm...

...who so impressed Superman that the Metropolis Marvel recommended the Nuclear Man for membership in the Justice League of America, which more can be read on here!).

This led to Killer Frost joining the Secret Society of Super-Villains under the Ultra-Humanite (in Justice League of America #195 to #197 in October to December, 1981, by Gerry Conway and George Perez) with villains like the Mist, Rag Doll, the Signalman, Brain Wave and more, only to be defeated by the JLA and JSA.

Killer Frost got loose when she was brought to trial in Fury of Firestorm #3 and #4 (August and September, 1982 by Gerry Conway and Pat Broderick), and fought Firestorm (and then a group of Justice Leaguers including Superman, Wonder Woman, Hawkman, Zatanna and Red Tornado as well).

Killer Frost needed heat, and escaped again in Fury of Firestorm #20 (February, 1984), realizing being trapped in freezers was killing her.  Crystal informed her colleague, Dr. Louise Lincoln, of her approaching death in Fury of Firestorm #21 (March, 1984 by Gerry Conway and Rafael Kayanan), then absorbed too much heat from Firestorm, which ended up killing the first Killer Frost.  Dr. Louise Lincoln ended up becoming the second Killer Frost, after an encounter with Plastique in Fury of Firestorm #33 (March, 1985), in Fury of Firestorm #34 (April, 1985), and the story of Killer Frost got more complex (involving the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and later, getting her power boosted by a deal with Neron during Underworld Unleashed....but more on Louise Lincoln later).

Other Firestorm villains have appeared on Flash as well, including Firestorm's first foe of Multiplex, and his explosive female foe of Plastique, and even the Flash foe, Pied Piper, that faced Firestorm in his Fury of Firestorm title and they've been covered in previous Flash Facts!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Supergirl TV Villains

Supergirl has had a rich and vibrant history, but so far, the TV show has pulled villains more from her cousin's life instead of Supergirl's.

Let's take a look at the first few....the villains called Vartox, Hellgrammite and Reactron!


Vartox got his start in Superman #281 (November, 1974 by Cary Bates and Curt Swan, with a look based on Sean Connery's Zardoz character), as the hero of Valeron, which he protected with his hyper-powers (powers with a psychic base, that include flight, invulnerability, strength, speed, disguise, phasing, energy projection....just to name a few).  Vartox lived in relative happiness protecting his home world until his wife, Elyra, mysteriously died.  Vartox, using his hyper-senses, found out that she was a "bionic twin" with an Earth woman who was shot and killed in a robbery on Earth by Frank Sykes, and that killed Elyra as well.  This led Vartox to come to Earth, where he had a confrontation with Superman (who wouldn't let Vartox just take Frank Sykes off Earth), yet eventually both heroes won, and Frank Sykes paid for his crime.

Vartox returns to Earth to recharge his waning hyper-powers in Action Comics #475 and #476 (September and October, 1977, both by Cary Bates and Kurt Schaffenberger), where he uses the alien Karb-Brak to do so...

...along the way triggering Karb-Brak's allergy to super powers, and being turned evil and fighting Superman for a time....

Vartox returned again, in Action Comics #498 and #499 (August and September, 1979 by Cary Bates and Curt Swan), this time, as a refugee, as Valeron had exploded, and Vartox was looking for a new home, with Superman getting him a job as a security officer at Morgan Edge's WGBS as Vernon O'Valeron.  But, tragedy seems to follow Vartox, as Earth then seemed set to explode until stopped by Superman and Vartox, with Superman's ex-girlfriend, Lana Lang, falling for the newly relocated hero (who leaves Earth).

Vartox returns again, in Superman #356 and #357 (February and March, 1981, by Cary Bates and Curt Swan), with Vartox relocated to a new planet, but the race on that world, the Tynolans, plan to sacrifice Vartox to their god, Moxumbra...

...with Vartox needing Superman's help to escape the plans and survive...

Vartox did survive and continue on, finding a way for his love, Lana Lang, to survive the poisonous atmosphere of his new homeworld, and join him there as his bride, in Superman #373 (July, 1982 by Cary Bates and Curt Swan), but there are also plans afoot by Syreena (an ex-lover and foe of Vartox's, who also survived the destruction of Valeron).  While Vartox and Lana make wedding plans in Superman #374 (August, 1982 by Cary Bates and Curt Swan), Syreena tricks Vartox into thinking Superman wants Lana back, and a fight ensues between Superman and Vartox. The battle between Superman and Vartox continues in Superman #375 (September, 1982 by Cary Bates and Curt Swan), at least until Syreena turns Lana Lang into stone, but eventually the heroes prevail and save Lana, and Syreena meets her end with the petrification being transferred to her. 

Vartox's tale gets more epic, starting in Superman #389 (November, 1983, by Cary Bates, Paul Kupperberg and Curt Swan), starting by returning to Earth while Clark Kent was undergoing some turmoil...but as Vartox arrives on Earth in Superman #390 (December, 1983 by Cary Bates, Eliot S! Maggin and Curt Swan), finds himself attacking Superman!

The battle between Superman continues into Superman #391 (January, 1984 by Cary Bates, Eliot S! Maggin and Curt Swan), with Vartox kidnapping Lana Lang, and then in Superman #392 (February, 1984 by Cary Bates), it is revealed that Vartox is being controlled by Srakka, an amoebic lifeform, and Superman throws down with it to save Lana Lang and Vartox!

Vartox briefly appeared in Action Comics #583 (September, 1986) with Alan Moore and Curt Swan's "Whatever Happened To the Man of Tomorrow?", a tale that might have been the end of the Silver Age Superman, and, like Superman, Vartox was revived with a new history (that tied to Brainiac) in Superman #148 (September, 1999 by Dan Jurgens and Steve Epting) and Superman #150 (November, 1999, by Dan Jurgens and Steve Epting), and returned looking a little more like his classic version, facing Power Girl in Power Girl #7 and #8 (February and March, 2010 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner), and Vartox continues to vex Power Girl to this day. 


Hellgrammite got his start in Brave and the Bold #80 (October-November, 1968) in the tale "And Hellgrammite Is His Name!" by Bob Haney and Neal Adams, with entomologist Roderick Rose trying to turn Gotham mob bosses into insects like himself, with only Batman and relatively new at the time hero, the Creeper, around to stop him.

Hellgrammite then briefly fought Green Arrow and Black Canary in World's Finest Comics #248 and #249 (mostly 1978) in an odd pair of stories that will get coverage later (mostly because they also dealt with Green Arrow dressing as Batman....).

Hellgrammite didn't return again until Action Comics #673 (January, 1992) by Roger Stern and Bob McLeod, with "Friends In Need", and the Hellgrammite as a pawn of Lex Luthor, to clear the streets of Metropolis...

...which he continued to do in Action Comics #674 (February, 1992, by Roger Stern and Bob McLeod).

Hellgrammite then met the current Supergirl, as Luthor recruited her to be his bodyguard after Hellgrammite attempted to kill him in Action Comics #676 (April, 1992 by Roger Stern and Jackson Guice), and breaking into S.T.A.R. Labs in Action Comics #681 (September, 1992, by Roger Stern and Jackson Guice), taking a bit of a backseat to all the other Superman action going on....

Hellgrammite continued to bug Supergirl and Luthor in the Lex Luthor/Supergirl Special #1 of April 1993 by Roger Stern, June Brigman and Jackson Guice, with Luthor manipulating Supergirl to get the world to believe that George Markham was the man who hired Hellgrammite to kill him.  Hellgrammite was one of many of Earth's super-villains to be recruited by the demon, Neron, in Underworld Unleashed #1 (November, 1995 by Mark Waid and Howard Porter), becoming more bug-like and the ability to make others into larvae, and attacking the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit (Metropolis S.C.U.) in Adventures of Superman #530 (December, 1995) while Superman and Supergirl were off-planet.

Hellgrammite returned with groups of villains in Green Lantern #79 (October, 1996) and JLA #18 (May, 1998), as well as being one of the villains affected by the morphing Joker gas in Joker's Last Laugh of 2001, spilling over into Birds of Prey #36 (December, 2001, battling Black Canary along with Copperhead) and Robin #95 (December, 2001, mostly featuring Killer Croc).

Hellgrammite was one of many foes in Adventures of Superman #608 (November, 2002), returned again with Superman #652 (July, 2006) and Action Comics #839 (July, 2006) with villains like the Puzzler, Live Wire and Silver Banshee, all as part of groups of attackers, and needing to be rounded up by Atom, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Shazam! and Supergirl in Justice League: Cry For Justice #2 and #3 of October and November, 2009 as an ally of Prometheus and finally being caught by Donna Troy in Justice League of America #43 (May, 2010).


All these villains, and really no focus yet on villains that started as Supergirl foes.  That changes now, with Reactron (though the TV show labeled him as a previous Superman foe, he was all Supergirl's in the comics!).  Ben Krullen started his battle against Supergirl and the new Doom Patrol (Robotman, Celsius, Tempest and Negative Woman) in the Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #8 (June, 1983 by Paul Kupperberg and Carmine Infantino, though hinted at in the previous issue), who was fighting Negative Woman, and trying to draw power from a local reactor to power his own atomic powers.

In the next issue, it is revealed that Reactron was contemporary of Tempest's (and Krullen's attack on a Vietnamese village triggered the powers of Joshua Clay, resulting in him becoming Tempest).  Supergirl defeated Reactron, but absorbed too much radiation, with the Doom Patrol taking her for help in the Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #10 (August, 1983, also by Kupperberg and Infantino). 

When Reactron next returns, he is treated as a Power Girl foe (thanks to the Crisis On Infinite Earths wiping out Supergirl...
...explained a bit in Secret Origins Annual #1 of 1987), and fights the Doom Patrol in Doom Patrol #10 and #11 (July and August, 1988 by Paul Kupperberg and Erik Larsen; and oddly guesting Superman and the matrix Supergirl as Lana Lang in the first issue, with Superman and the Doom Patrol going to face Metallo in Superman #20 of August, 1988), with Larry Trainor trying to use Reactron to get the Negative Being back from Negative Woman (with Reactron being assumed to be dead again...and his history being slightly altered, with his name now being Benjamin Martin Krull).

Dying this many times made Reactron a great candidate for the villainous Suicide Squad, and he served during Suicide Squad #6 through #8 (April to June, 2002 by Keith Giffen and Medina) along with Major Disaster, Deadshot, the second Killer Frost and Blackstarr..

...with Reactron being shot to end his association with the Suicide Squad!

Reactron returned next in Crisis Aftermath: The Battle For Bludhaven #1 (Early June 2006) as a member of the Nuclear Legion (a group of radioactive villains like Neutron, Professor Radium, Geiger, Nuclear and Mister Nitro), but didn't stay long, going to fight Supergirl in Supergirl #25 and #26 (March and April, 2008 by Kelley Puckett and Drew Johnson).

Reactron returned again, popping up next to fight Supergirl in Supergirl #35 (January, 2009 by Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle) as part of a larger battle, with Kryptonians battling to take Earth, running as a part of Supergirl's title, as well as issues of Action Comics like Action Comics #872 and #880 in 2009, working with Metallo, and getting a new power source, that of a variation of Gold Kryptonite, that only removes Kryptonians' powers for 15 seconds, resolving in Superman: War of the Superman #1 in July, 2010 (and his history being slightly altered, with his name now being Benjamin Martin Krull).

That battle also featured General Zod (and others from the Phantom Zone), who will come to menace Supergirl in the future....

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Superman Meets Batgirl

Batgirl started working with Batman back in the day with Detective Comics #359 (January 1967, by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino), but there was another man in her life pretty soon. 

No, not Robin the Boy Wonder, but the Man of Steel…Superman!

Superman Meets Batgirl

True, they didn’t meet until World’s Finest #169 (September 1967) by Cary Bates and Curt Swan, and barely worked together, being only in Justice League of America #60 (February 1968, against Queen Bee Zazzala by Gardner Fox and Mike Sekowsky) and in World’s Finest Comics #176 (June 1968, where they worked against Batman and Supergirl).

Batgirl then went to be pretty much a loner in the back of Detective Comics until she was wanted there no more, appearing last in Detective Comics #424 (June 1972).

Superman Saves Batgirl

But, she was of interest to the Superman Family…

….and revived with Superman #268 (October 1973) by writer Elliot S! Maggin and artist Curt Swan with a “Wild Week-End In Washington!” (and an astonishing cover by Nick Cardy).

The villainous organization, M.A.Z.E. began a plan against the United States and Clark Kent revealed knowledge of it…prompting his needing rescue from Superman and Batgirl (and yes, Clark Kent IS Superman…there’s quite a tale in those pages! 

Not only that, M.A.Z.E. would return…).

Not content with one appearance, Batgirl returned again with Superman #279 (September 1974, with the same team, and an even MORE stunning Nick Cardy cover!).

Batgirl and Superman worked together to stop a scheme to smuggle oil (boy, wouldn’t it be great if they could do something about oil prices today!).

Both these tales (as well as Batgirl’s earlier solo stories, as well as a few tales with Batman and Robin) are reprinted in the Showcase Presents: Batgirl black and white book.

 Superman Still Meets Batgirl

Batgirl stopped in to say hi to Supergirl and "Cleopatra, Queen Of America" in Superman Family #171 (June-July 1975) by Elliot S! Maggin and Curt Swan, before joining Robin in Batman Family (both teaming up with him and some solo tales) for twenty issues (along with Alfred Pennyworth, Man-Bat and Huntress tales along with way, and faced off against M.A.Z.E. again, as well as a few others), before the Batman Family took over Detective Comics (starting with #481, changing to dollar-sized), and only Batgirl survived when the book went back to normal with #497, and she stayed a back-up until #519, with Green Arrow taking over her spot with #521! Barbara Gordon’s alter-ego even met Superman again, in DC Comics Presents #19 (March 1980) by Denny O'Neil and Joe Staton before the Crisis on Infinite Earths (when pretty much everyone had to work together….).

Still, nothing beats the two issue fling Superman and Batgirl had!