Thursday, February 25, 2016

Giant World's Finest Comics 161 With Superman and Batman

Superman and Batman worked together quick a bit during the much so, that they had the ability to collect reprints of their gatherings together, first in a special 80 Page Giant, then, as 80 Page Giants under the World's Finest Comics logo, starting with this issue, World's Finest Comics #161 (October, 1966) with a cover by Curt Swan, inked by Stan Kaye and Sheldon Moldoff!

What a collection of stories for this first collection within World's Finest....

....with Superman, Batman and Robin working together to face an odd collection of foes!

World's Finest Comics #102

The first reprint in this issue takes us back to World's Finest Comics #102 (June, 1959), and even further to give us "The Caveman From Krypton", written by Bill Finger, pencilled by Dick Sprang, with inks by Charles Paris (and a cover by Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff).

This story sees the World's Finest team facing off against a caveman from Krypton, crashing into the Earth, gaining Superman-like powers, and becoming a menace, first because he didn't understand, then by the manipulations of a crook named Pete Waller.  The caveman was killed by Kryptonite, which Batman saved Superman from (and Superman was beginning to meet more people from Krypton, as he had just met his cousin, Supergirl, the month before in Action Comics #252).

World's Finest Comics #96

Next up is World's Finest Comics #96 (September, 1958), with the story of "The Super-Foes From Planet X", written by Edmond Hamilton, pencilled by Dick Sprang and inked by Stan Kaye, under a cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.

Superman, Batman and Robin face off against a barrage of super-foes, including a solar sponge, a storm top, a crawler and Robot J-47...all under the direction of the Aliens from Planet X, who were using the heroes to learn survival skills that their race had lost over time.  Could have just asked for help....

World's Finest Comics #90

Next reprinted in this collection is World's Finest Comics #90 (September-October, 1957) with "The Super-Batwoman" written by Edmond Hamilton, pencilled by Dick Sprang and inked by Stan Kaye, all under a cover by Curt Swan and Ray Burnley.

This time around, Superman, Batman and Robing were looking for Elton Craig, a foe that they had faced before (in World's Finest Comics #87), who used dangerous pills to give himself super powers.  Worried that he might have one more pill left, the team searched frantically for their foe, but it was Batwoman (Kathy Kane, an independent heroine who also protected Gotham and was enamored of Batman) who found him (though Batman had told her to stay out of this case in concern for her safety).  Batwoman takes Craig's pill to prevent him from doing so, and gains super-powers, which Batman warns her as being dangerous.  Batwoman is upset by her treatment by Batman, and decides to find out Batman's and Superman's alter egos.  This leads her looking for the Bat Cave, and a little trickery with Batman disguising himself as Clark Kent, but eventually, Kathy's powers wear off and she is left without knowledge of the secret identity of either hero.  Batman does promise to let her help in more cases!

World's Finest Comics #110

With World's Finest Comics #110 (June, 1960) and the story of "The Alien Who Doomed Robin" by writer Jerry Coleman, penciller Dick Sprang and inker Sheldon Moldoff (and a cover by Curt Swan and Sheldon Moldoff), you can see why Batman would be concerned about the safety of humans who help in his cases with Superman.

An alien arrived, looking to take buildings for an exhibit he wanted to set up on an asteroid, and to further his scheme, he bonded with Robin, causing any harm visited on the alien to be shared with the Boy Wonder!  Batman has to work on keeping Robin safe and figure out a way to break the connection why Superman deals with the alien...which all eventually works out, defeating the invader as well as keeping the young lad safe.

World's Finest Comics #101

World's Finest Comics #101 (May, 1959) sees the World's Finest Team face off against "The Menace Of The Atom-Master" by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang, under a cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.

Metropolis and Gotham are plagued by illusions of Superman and Batman, and then other illusions which allow crooks to escape during the confusion.  Batman uses clues left behind to track the mastermind behind this, the Atom-Master, with the heroes defeating the menace.  But, this was not the last time Superman would face the Atom-Master, as this villain refused to be forgotten!

World's Finest Comics #105

Last, but not least in this collection of Superman/Batman team-ups is World's Finest Comics #105 (November, 1959) with "The Alien Superman" by writer Bill Finger, penciller Dick Sprang and inker Charles Paris, with the cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye.

Batman and Robin are fighting crime while Superman stops a meteor, which Batman then takes back to the Bat Cave to study.  Superman becomes weak, and spins himself into a cocoon (an odd occurrence, even for Superman), and seems to come out even more alien, with new powers and no memory of his life.  Batman finds out this was a hoax brought on by the alien, Khalex, who is working with some Earth criminals (and is weakened by the meteor that Superman gave to Batman).  Superman recovers the meteor, and the World's Finest team work together to stop the criminals.  Still, this must have left in Batman's mind the thought of having to deal with a rouge Superman....

There's still more giant World's Finest Comics to cover...

....and we will, but this ends this issue, so this will be a good enough place to stop for now....and all of these tales are spread out in the 3 volumes of the World's Finest Comics Archives!


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Early Days of Vixen

Vixen has made the transition from comic book hero, to animated character, and finally, thanks to CW's Arrow (as played by Megalyn Echikunwoke), to a live action character!

It's been a long trip for the mystic hero, and let's take a quick look back to where it all started!

Cancelled Comics Cavalcade

Vixen #1 was suppose to come out on August 8th, 1978 (to be cover dated November, 1978, written by Gerry and Carla Conway, with art by Bob Oksner and Vince Colletta)....but that was the year of the DC Implosion, wherein DC cancelled many titles in production (including Prez, Shade the Changing Man, Black Lightning, Steel the Indestructible Man, Kamandi, the Secret Society of Super-Villains, issues of Showcase with Deadman and the Creeper...and the fated to not be published Vixen #1!

The contents of those books, and a few others ended up in two volumes of the Cancelled Comic Cavalcade, with the uncolored and unfinished pages to Vixen #1 (with only text for its last page) in Cancelled Comic Cavalcade #2 of Fall, 1978!

Action Comics and DC Comics Presents

Still, DC eventually found a home for Vixen, premiering the character in a 4-color comic, this time, owing her rescue to Superman, and appearing in Action Comics #521 (July, 1981) in "The Deadly Rampage of the Lady Fox" by Gerry Conway, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte, with model Mari McCabe using the mystic powers of her Tantu Totem, chasing animal poachers like the Mule from Africa to Metropolis and back again!  Vixen returned to pair with Superman again, facing off against the mental powers of Admiral Cerebrus in "Destiny's Children" in DC Comics Presents #68 (April, 1984) by Gerry Conway, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson, but more was afoot for the lady with animal powers....

Justice League of America

Vixen joined the Justice League of America as it restructured after an alien invasion, and moved to Detroit in Justice League of America Annual #2 (1984, by Gerry Conway, Chuck Patton and Dave Hunt).  What eventually came to be known as the Motor City Justice League included older members Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, Elongated Man and Zatanna, and added a new Steel (grandson of the original Steel, who supplied them their HQ, the Bunker, in Detroit), Vibe and soon after, Gypsy.

More on the rest of the team here....and Vixen served this new Justice League well, working with them from Justice League of America #234 (December, 1984) through the Crisis On Infinite Earths (and a JLA/JSA team up with Infinity Inc. that also reached into Infinity, Inc. #19 of October, 1985), until the end of the first Justice League of America with #261 in April, 1987 (coinciding with the first two issues of the Legends mini-series of 1986, which led to a new Justice League....and Suicide Squad!).

Suicide Squad

Vixen took some time off, working on her modeling career....but trouble followed her around, and with Suicide Squad #11 (March, 1988 by John Ostrander and Luke McDonnell), saw drug kingpins attacking the beach where she was working!  Vixen then worked with the Suicide Squad (which was also getting help from Speedy/Roy Harper, who was working with the government at the time to stop drug pushers), and joined the team in the next issue after stopping the kingpin (and witnessing a battle between Nightshade and the Enchantress...).

Vixen served well in the Suicide Squad, and soon formed a bond with Ben Turner, the Bronze Tiger, one of the too few good guys that held herd on the villains (like Deadshot, Count Vertigo and Captain Boomerang) that the Suicide Squad used for their missions.  Vixen worked with the team until it reorganized with Amanda Waller going to jail in Suicide Squad #39 (March, 1990), and occasionally returned to help the team after that (though under protest, not wanting to work with Amanda Waller, and now on the outs with Ben Turner), including battles against Kobra and his cult (and with a new costume), as well as during Wonder Woman's War of the Gods

On Her Own

While working with the Suicide Squad, Vixen met other heroes, helping Animal Man define himself in Animal Man #10 to #12 (April to June, 1989)... well as the Wally West Flash (fighting Gorilla Grodd) in Flash #45 to #47 (December, 1990 to February, 1991).

Vixen soldiered on as a frequent guest star in the DC Universe, returning to help the Martian Manhunter, Dolphin, Maxima, Wonder Woman and Gypsy in Justice League Task Force #7 and #8 of the 1990s, joining Checkmate to help against a new Hawk and Dove in the Hawk and Dove mini-series of 1997/1998, working with the Ultramarines in JLA #26, helping Wonder Woman and many female heroes defend Manhattan during Circe's attack in Wonder Woman #174 and #175 of 2001, working with the Birds of Prey (including Black Canary and the Huntress) in Birds of Prey #69 to #73 in 2004...

....and popping up here and there to finally resettle for a time in the Justice League of America with its relaunch, in Justice League of America #1 (October, 2006), along with Arsenal (Roy Harper), Black Canary, Hawkgirl (Kendra Saunders), Black Lightning, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Red Tornado, along with the DC trinity of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, serving with the team through the Blackest Night event (where she faced former members lost in her original Justice League membership).

Best of all, Vixen was finally able to get her own series (though only a 5 issue mini-series) entitled Vixen: Return of the Lion, which ran from December, 2008 to April, 2009, written by G. Woodrow Wilson, with art by Cafu, dealing with Intergang, animal poachers and mystic menaces in Africa. 

It might have taken over 30 years, but Vixen finally got her own title, and that is good!

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Doctor Zodiac versus Superman and Batman

Once in a blue moon, a foe would come into existence that would be strong enough to face both Superman and Batman....but that really wasn't the case with Doctor Zodiac.

But, Cash Carrigan was a menace to the World's Finest team multiple times...and we'll detail those appearances here!

Evil Portent

Doctor Zodiac premiered in World's Finest Comics #160 (September, 1966) with "The Fatal Forecasts of Dr. Zodiac" by writer Leo Dorfman, penciller Curt Swan and inker George Klein, wherein the heroes defeat petty carnival hustler Cash Carrigan, who then somehow gains the knowledge of the heroes birthdays, and takes on the Doctor Zodiac identity to plague the World's Finest heroes, even capturing them, working with his girl, Honey Combs, and then taking bids from criminals to eliminate other heroes! 

Superman and Batman used Cash's new identity as a way to round up bad guys, never really being his captives. 

All in all, a pretty wise thing to do!  

The Woman Is Deadlier

It took a while for Dr. Zodiac to come back, and in the meantime, a woman called Madame Zodiac appeared to face Batgirl, Huntress (visiting from Earth-2) and Batwoman in Batman Family #17 (May, 1978) in the "Horoscopes of Crime" by writer Bob Rozakis, penciller Don Heck and inkers Bob Wiacek and Vince Colletta, with the heroic ladies facing off against Poison Ivy, Catwoman and newcomer Madame Zodiac (all of whom share the birthdate of March 14th), with Madame Zodiac seemingly only having slight mystical powers that seemed to make things work in the favor of the villains!

Madame Zodiac returned in the very next issue, Batman Family #18 (June-July, 1978) in "Assault On The Pentagon", by writer Bob Rozakis, penciller Juan Ortiz and inker Vince Colletta, with Madame Zodiac showing Batgirl that she had much more magical power, and tried to use the formation of the U.S. Government's Pentagon building to call on mystic forces to gain power!

Batgirl was able to have Madame Zodiac destroy her own power base, blasting away at the walls of the Pentagon, at least until the moon and stars got out of the alignment which Madame Zodiac could use to draw on their power....(and Superman and Batman knew about facing foes with moon power, like the Moon Man and Lady Lunar!).

A Change

Cash came back as Dr. Zodiac in World's Finest Comics #268 (May, 1981) searching for real magic with "The Twelve Coins Of Power" by writer Cary Burkett, penciller Romeo Tanghal and inker Robert R. Smith.  This time, Dr. Zodiac had his hands on magical Atlantean coins, each featuring a different zodiac sign, and caused quite a bit of trouble for Superman and Batman, at least for a little while.

The World's Finest team still managed to defeat Dr. Zodiac, and kept the coins to keep them safe as well.

They didn't stay safe, but that's a tale for a different time...but that time is now!


Stars Mightier Than The Man

Dr. Zodiac came back in World's Finest Comics #285 (November, 1982) with the story, "Deliver Us From Evil" by writer Cary Burkett, penciller Rich Buckler and inker Sam DeLaRosa, where Cash teamed up with Madame Zodiac (a foe of Batgirl's), trying to steal the Atlantean coins again, and this story has the villains learning Batman's identity, and having Superman, Batman and guest star Zatanna, with Zatanna getting injured in the mystical throw down.  The story continues in World's Finest Comics #286 (December, 1982, with the same creative team, in the story "When Hell Breaks Loose"), with Wonder Woman showing up to take Zatanna to Paradise Island for healing, while the rest of the JLA deals with mystic menaces conjured by the Master (the dark force Madame Zodiac is working for), and the Master ends up possessing Batman!

Things continue to get worse, as we find out in World's Finest Comics #287 (January, 1983), with the story "Within My Heart, The Enemy" by Cary Burkett and Trevor Von Eeden with Wonder Woman and the Flash guest-starring, and Robin making a rare World's Finest appearance at this time (usually busy with the New Teen Titans), with Batman still fighting off being taken over by the Master, but that time winding down as Madame Zodiac has her cult capture the Batman.  The story finally concludes in World's Finest Comics #288 (February, 1983) with "To Hell And Back" by co-writers Marv Wolfman and Mike W. Barr and artist Adrian Gonzales, with Superman getting filled in about the Master's plan to conquer Earth from Zatanna on Paradise Island.

Dr. Zodiac realizes he's in way over his head and turning against Madame Zodiac, the Master planning to keep Batman's body (and when he burns that out, use cloned bodies Madame Zodiac supplied to keep his life going...with Batman finally using the Zodiac Wheel (which the 12 coins plugged into) to stop the dark god of the Master!  All in all, a great series of stories that live up to the name of the World's Finest Comics (well, more or less.....).

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Finding the Forgotten Heroes

So, if you've been reading along, you've learned about DC's Forgotten Heroes....

....but, where to find reprints of those characters?

Sadly, Immortal Man and Dolphin haven't been collected anywhere but their original solo appearances in Strange Adventures and Showcase, but here are the rest of the team...

Rip Hunter

Rip Hunter's first appearance from Showcase #20 (May-June, 1959) can be found in World's Finest Comics #225 (September-October, 1974)...

....under the Nick Cardy cover that was the inspiration for the mock-up above.

Rip Hunter, Time Master #6 (January-February, 1962) was collected in the 52: The Companion tradepaperback of 2007, and Rip Hunter, Time Master #11 (November-December, 1962) was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #227 (January-February, 1975)...

...and Rip's four Showcase appearances along with the first 15 issues of Rip Hunter, Time Master...

...are collected in black and white in Showcase Presents: Rip Hunter: Time Master Volume 1, which gets readers about half of Rip's original adventures!

Sadly, we are lacking in reprints of Rip Hunter and his team in their green uniforms, which they didn't adopt until later.


Sea Devils

Dane Dorrance and his underwater team found one half of Sea Devils #1 (September-October, 1961) reprinted in Action Comics #437 (July, 1974), along with a few other reprints...

....and a new story with Superman, Green Arrow, Flash and Green Lantern fighting a magical menace all under a Nick Cardy cover!

Half of Sea Devils #3 (January-February, 1962) found it's way into Action Comics #443 (January, 1975), along with a few other reprints, and a new story with Superman and the Justice League (including Flash, Atom, Green Arrow, Black Canary and Red Tornado), facing off against Grodd, Chronos, Merlyn and more, also under a Nick Cardy cover!

The Sea Devils had their 3 Showcase issues and first 16 issues collected in black and white in the Showcase Presents: The Sea Devils Volume 1


Congo Bill will likely get coverage of his own, but his first body switching with Congorilla from Action Comics #248 (January, 1959) was reprinted in the Weird Secret Origins of 2004, which was itself reprinted in DC Universe: Secret Origins HC of 2012, and  DC Universe: Secret Origins tradepaperback of 2013.

Congorilla's story from Action Comics #252 (May, 1959) was reprinted along with the first appearance of Supergirl and Metallo in the DC Silver Age Classics Action Comics #252 of 1992 and the Millennium Edition: Action Comics #252 of 2000.

Congorilla's time in "The One-Ape Circus" of Action Comics #259 (December, 1959) was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #150 (June, 1965), under a wild Superman/Batman cover by Curt Swan and George Klein.

"Congorilla's Last Stand: from Action Comics #261 (February, 1960) made it into World's Finest Comics #151 (August, 1965), with an even odder cover by Curt Swan and George Klein.

Congorilla's story of "The Ninth Wonder" from Adventure Comics #270 (March, 1960) was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #148 (March, 1965), with yet another Curt Swan/George Klein cover.

"The Congorilla In Space" story from Adventure Comics #276 (September, 1960) was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #149 (May, 1965), with an ominous Curt Swan/George Klein cover.

It's also worth noting that Congorilla and Congo Bill's aid with Superman's battle with Brainiac from Action Comics #280 (September, 1961) was reprinted in color in Superman Family #168 (December-January, 1974/1975)...

...also under a Nick Cardy cover!

Animal Man

Buddy Baker's first appearance from Strange Adventures #180 (September, 1965) has been reprinted a few times, once in Adventure Comics #412 (November, 1971) under a Supergirl cover by Bob Oksner, and along with the origin of Congorilla in the Weird Secret Origins of 2004, which was itself reprinted in DC Universe: Secret Origins HC of 2012, and DC Universe: Secret Origins TPB of 2013.

Buddy's second appearance from Strange Adventures #184 (January, 1966) made it into Adventure Comics #414 (January, 1972) under a Supergirl cover by Bob Oksner.

Strange Adventures #190 (July, 1966), with the first appearance of Animal Man in costume appeared in Adventure Comics #415 (February, 1972) under another Bob Oksner Supergirl cover.

Strange Adventures #195 (December, 1966) saw its Animal Man story reprinted in Adventure Comics #420 (June, 1972) under an infamous Supergirl cover by Bob Oksner.

Strange Adventures #201 (June, 1967) took the longest to see the Animal Man story reprinted, being collected in the DC Goes Ape tradepaperback of 2008, along with reprints of other famous gorilla stories, featuring Grodd, Titano and more, all under an Art Adams cover you'll surely go ape over!

These Animal Man stories could all easily fit in a 100 page reprint...

...and even include Dolphin's one and only solo story, and maybe room for a little more, like one of Immortal Man's original stories!


A quick side note, as one of the leaders of the Forgotten Villains, the Enchantress, saw her origin from Strange Adventures #187 (April, 1966) reprinted in the Weird Secret Origins of 2004, which was itself reprinted in DC Universe: Secret Origins hardcover of 2012, and  DC Universe: Secret Origins tradepaperback of 2013, as well as in Adventure Comics #417 (March, 1972) under a Bob Oksner Supergirl cover.

Enchantress' second (of three) solo appearances, from Strange Adventures #191 (August, 1966) was reprinted in Adventure Comics #419 (May, 1972) under a Supergirl cover by Bob Oksner (and maybe these explain why Enchantress was revived in Superman Family to face Supergirl later....), sadly not seeing Strange Adventures #200's Enchantress tale reprinted at all (and Enchantress making the cover, but not the inside of a Supergirl Giant, Adventure Comics #416).

Suicide Squad and Cave Carson

Sadly, DC's fighting forces of the Suicide Squad only saw one issue reprinted so far, that being half of the issue from Brave and the Bold #38 (October-November, 1961), reprinted in the Best of DC #26 (July, 1982) under a Jim Aparo cover, but DC is promising a collection of all six of the Brave and the Bold Suicide Squad issues in 2016 (but, wouldn't it be great if this collection included the 3 solo Enchantress tales from the 1960s as well?). 

Cave Carson's only reprint (from his first appearance in Showcase #31 of August-September, 1960) was also reprinted in the Best of DC #26 (July, 1982).  Wouldn't you dig a collection of his 8 original stories from Brave and the Bold and Showcase?

The nice thing is, the gathering of the Forgotten Heroes (Action Comics #545, #552 and #553) are all reprinted in the Adventures of Superman: Gil Kane hardcover of 2013.

Now, if we could just get a collection of early appearances of the Monitor from the Crisis on Infinite Earths, we could see a collection of DC Comics Presents #77 and #78 (which also features the beginnings of the Forgotten Villains, led by the Enchantress, and including villains from the Sea Devils and Rip Hunter!).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Have A Crazy Valentine's Day

Hopefully you'll spend Valentine's Day with someone who makes you crazy... Batman and Harley Quinn, in the story "Just Batty Over You" from Harley Quinn's Valentine's Day Special #1 from April, 2015 by written by Amanda Conner (who also did the cover art), Jimmy Palmiotti, and interior art by John Timms, Ben Caldwell, Aaron Campbell and Tony Silas!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Playboy Crazy

With Playboy giving up nudes, people thought they were crazy...

...they'd be just like any other magazine.

So, here's a cover by Nick Cardy from Marvel's old humor magazine, Crazy to symbolize that!

Cover from Crazy #10, April, 1975...

....and the bunny ears will never be the same.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Marvel Romance Movies

Feeling a little lacking in finding romantic movies as a comic fan?

Well, take a look at the Marvel movies, if they had been marketed as romantic comedies....

Stories of Romance

He's a skinny army recruit from Brooklyn who fills out during training and shields his heart, and she's an English lady fighting for equality in the United States army all against the backdrop of World War II.... 

The story of Steve Rogers and Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger!

Our Love Story

He's a billionaire industrialist whose time on Earth has wounded him almost beyond repair, and she's his executive secretary, working to keep him going in the real world, dealing with how he doesn't notice her, who proves he still has a heart...

The story of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts in Iron Man!

Love Adventures

He's a scientist with serious rage issues (like big, green, gamma ones), and she's the girl who loves him, with severe daddy issues (mostly, her dad hunts him, and really doesn't want to make him angry....), but she still loves him in spite of his anger.

The story of Bruce Banner and Betty Ross in the Incredible Hulk!

Secret Story Romances

He's the wild and headstrong son of Odin, the ruler of Asgard, who is having a little trouble with his hammer, being far from home, and she's a brilliant scientist working on finding proof of a bridge between worlds when these two kids run into each other (well, to be honest, she runs into him...twice!).

The story of Thor and Jane Foster in Thor!

Teen Age Romance

Last, but not least, he's a skinny nerd, with a nasty bug bite (it's radioactive), secretly in love with his next door neighbor, the prettiest girl in school, with troubles all her own.  Watch them go head over heels in love!

The story of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man!

If you've been lucky enough to find yourself a girl who you were able to convince that the Marvel super-hero movies are really romances....

....well, Mary Jane Watson will explain how lucky you are from this classic John Romita Amazing Spider-Man panel!