Thursday, December 29, 2016

Secret Origins of 1961

Technically, the secret origins reprinted in the Secret Origins collection of Summer, 1961 happened before that date.

It was a super collection of the most soft after stories ever published.....the issue even tells you that, as you can see on this incredible cover with figures of the heroes taken from the interior stories.

It was also right!

Take a look at what was reprinted here.....

Superman-Batman Team

Superman and Batman had been working together regularly since World's Finest Comics #71, but the start of their regular team-ups came with World's Finest Comics #94 (May-June, 1958), and "The Origin of the Superman-Batman Team" by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Stan Kaye (with Robin being there as well...).  Superman brings in Powerman to replace Batman and Robin in a hunt for Lex Luthor...causing the dynamic duo to reflect on their first meeting, when Batman and Robin had to work to save Superman from Kryptonite wielding gangsters (and Superman was concerned for the safety of the all too human Batman and Robin).  Of course....why wasn't Superman worried about the safety of his new partner, Powerman?

Adam Strange

Adam Strange was an archeologist, escaping some angry Incas in the Peruvian Plateau, when he was hit by a Zeta Beam from the planet Rann, teleported 25 trillion miles to that planet, where he met the lovely Alanna, and her father, Sardath (who invented the Zeta Beam).  Along the way, Adam and Alanna had to solve the "Secret Of The Eternal City" in the first story of Showcase #17 (November-December, 1958) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Frank Giacoia.  Alanna taught Adam the Rannian language with a Menticizer, and the duo was able to outfit their foes with some human common sense.  Adam went back to Earth as his Zeta Beam charge faded, but he kept looking for more Zeta Beams to get back to his beloved Alanna (getting a red spacesuit, jet pack and raygun soon to help in his adventures on other worlds!).

Green Lantern

Though Hal Jordan first appeared in Showcase #22 as Green Lantern, his origin (with alien Abin Sur passing on his Power Ring and Battery) was recapped in Green Lantern #1 (July-August, 1960) in "The Planet Of The Doomed Men" by John Broome, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson.  This issue also introduced the Guardians of the Universe, the little blue men in charge of the Green Lantern Corps (a group of interstellar police that maintained order in 3600 sectors of the galaxy, using their green Power Rings and the force of their will to prevent evil from becoming a dominating force....).  This story also featured Hal's battle against the Dryg, a giant, ape-like alien, and how he had to use his will and a little science to defeat the creature.

Challengers Of The Unknown

Four men (pilot Ace Morgan, boxer Rocky Davis, scuba diver Prof. Haley and acrobat Red Ryan) were on plane flight to a TV Show called "Heroes" that mysteriously crashed, with the four men surviving, deciding to use their borrowed time (and combined skills) to become the Challengers of the Unknown in a flashback in Showcase #6 (January-February, 1957) by Dave Wood and Jack Kirby.  Sadly, only the first 6 pages of this story are reprinted here, but at least it gives readers the idea of the start of the Challs; you see only the beginnings of their meeting with the mysterious Mr. Morelian, but don't feel lost....they did deal with his magic and open the hatch to his box!

Green Arrow and Speedy

Green Arrow and Speedy got even less than the Challs, getting a text page to summarize their origins, with Oliver Queen's time on the island from Adventure Comics #256 (January, 1959) by France Herron, Jack Kirby and Roz Kirby, and Roy Harper becoming Green Arrow's ward as his guardian, Brave Bow, prepared for his end in Adventure Comics #262 (July, 1959) by Robert Bernstein and Lee EliasGreen Arrow's full origin of "The Green Arrow's First Case" has been reprinted a few times (in the Secret Origins of the Super DC Heroes of 1976 and in the Green Arrow by Jack Kirby collection of 2002), but poor Roy has only seen his origin ("The World's Worst Archer") reprinted once in color and in full size, in World's Finest Comics #188 (October-November, 1969).

Wonder Woman

The "Secret Origin Of Wonder Woman" came from Wonder Woman #105 (April, 1959) by Robert Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, dealing the days of Diana's youth, how she got the powers of the gods (beauty from Aphrodite, wisdom from Athena, speed from Mercury, and strength from Hercules) , growing up from being Wonder Girl and the foundation of Paradise Island.  This was the origin of the Earth-1 Wonder Woman (the Wonder Woman who joined the Justice League of America, along with many of the other heroes whose origins are featured here...though it took a while for the concept of Earth-1 to be introduced; Wonder Woman got her origin retold often, with small details regularly added into the basic story; the adventures of Wonder Girl, Wonder Woman as a girl, is one of the things that spun out of this story).

Martian Manhunter

"The Strange Experiment Of Dr. Erdel", a robot brain that accidentally worked as a teleportation machine, bringing a Manhunter from Mars, J'onn J'onzz, to Earth in Detective Comics #225 (November, 1955) by Joe Samachson and Joe Certa.  Sadly, the scientist said it would take years to reprogram the machine to teleport him back, and died of an apparent heart attack at meeting the large, green man with the ability to change his looks (among other powers like invisibility, telepathy, flight, strength....and a terrible weakness to fire).  J'onn kept his Martian abilities a secret for a long time, working to solve crimes disguised as a human detective, John Jones, before events conspired to put his Martian side in full view of humans (and the lonely alien to help found the Justice League of America).


With a shock from the sky, readers were drawn in to the "Mystery Of The Human Thunderbolt" in Showcase #4 (September-October, 1956 by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Joe Kubert), watching police scientist, Barry Allen, getting hit by a bolt of lightning in his lab, being doused in the electrified chemicals, and gaining super-speed, which he used to become a living version of his comic book hero, the Flash!  Barry used his speed to save the life of his friend, reporter Iris West, and defeat the Turtle...showing that the Fastest Man Alive can beat the Slowest Man Alive.  Barry's appearance helped to kick off the Silver Age, which eventually led to the formation of the Justice League of America (and the concepts of Earth-1 and Earth-2, where the Flash, Jay Garrick, that Barry read about in comics was a real hero, working with the Justice Society of America).

Best of all, there is a reprint of this entire special issue that was issued in a replica edition in 1998, then collected with other DC Universe Secret Origins (which we'll delve into later, including Superman, Aquaman, Atom, Hawkman, Kid Flash, Enchantress, Spectre and more) into a hardcover in 2012, and a softcover in 2013, with the classic cover using images from the stories above touched up by Jerry Ordway... you plenty of opportunities to read these beginnings of your favorite heroes!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Happy Birthday Stan Lee

Stan Lee, co-creator of the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man and Thor (with Jack Kirby) and Spider-Man and Doctor Strange (with Steve Ditko) is celebrating a birthday today!

Celebrate Stan with this classic...the Marvel Fumetti Book from April, 1984.

Along with Stan on the cover is the Marvel Bullpen of the day, including Chris Claremont, Walter Simonson, John Byrne, Jim Shooter, Denny O'Neill, Paul Smith, Dave Cockrum, Bill Mantlo, Al Milgrom, Mark Gruenwald, Terry Austin...along with Spider-Man and the Hulk, with letters by Tom Orzechowski!

Elliot R. Brown provided photos for some of the stories, as did Vince Colletta, with writers Mike Carlin and Joe Albelo (and an uncredited Peter David as ?), and art (and "special effects" on the photos by Art Adams and Bill Sienkiewicz, and art in places by Terry Austin.

It's a light-hearted look at how comics were made in the mid-1980s.  Check it out if you can!

Excelsior....and thanks to Stan for that as well! 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Crazy Christmas

From October, 1973 to April, 1983, Marvel was Crazy!

That is, they made a humor magazine, similar to Mad and Cracked, that featured light humor and spoofs....

...such as these Christmas covers!

Crazy #16 (March, 1976)...

...features the Nebbish, tying up Santa Claus with his Christmas list, in this cover layout by Marie Severin and art by Nick Cardy.

Crazy #59 (February, 1980)....

...has an angry Santa, and well he should be angry, as no artist name has been able to be found on the internet!

Have a ho-ho-ho holiday, and Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas Superman

Clark Kent and Lois Lane are assigned to cover Christmastown for the holidays in Action Comics #117 (February, 1948) under a cover by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye.

Inside the issue, with the story of "Christmastown, U.S.A." by Al Schwartz and Win Mortimer,  we find Lois and Clark, dealing with the Christmastown story....and the town dealing with a flood.  The pair split up, with Clark changing to Superman to see how he can save the residents, which he does by building them an ark, and finds all the residents but one, the man playing Santa Claus, Danny Osborne.

Lois finds a man in a Santa Claus suit, further upstream, and reunites him with his town people, floating in the ark.

Greater still, is this story is one of many reprinted in the Limited Collector's Edition C-34 (February-March, 1975), under a cover by Nick Cardy.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Merry Christmas from Captain Marvel and friends.

Long before the X-men, Captain Marvel and his friends (Spy Smasher, Minute Man, Mr. Scarlett and Bulletman) were wishing you a Merry Christmas with Santa Claus with Xmas Comics #1 from 1941.

This was a collection of reprints from Captain Marvel Adventures #3 (August-September, 1941), Bulletman #2 (Fall, 1941), Whiz Comics #21 (September, 15, 1941), Wow Comics #3 (Fall, 1941) and Master Comics #18 (September, 1941) all under a new cover by Mac Raboy.  What Golden Age comic collector wouldn't love to find this under the Christmas tree?

Fawcett reprinted more comics, with Xmas Comics #2 in 1942, and, taking a few years off because of World War II, continued the reprints with Xmas Comics #3 in 1947, with different issues reprinted in each....under new Christmas themed covers.

Xmas Comics started again in 1949, running one a year until 1952 (totaling 7 comics), with the end of Fawcett Comics.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Justice Society Christmas

Not to outdone by the Justice League, the original super-team, the Justice Society of America celebrated Christmas in JSA #55 (February, 2004) with the story of "Be Good For Goodness Sake" by Geoff Johns, Leonard Kirk, Keith Champagne and Wade von Grawbadger, and cover by Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino.

This tale reunited original JSAers Flash (Jay Garrick), Green Lantern (Alan Scott), Hawkman (Carter Hall) and Wildcat (Ted Grant), with the team dealing with a gang of thieves taking out mall Santas, and meeting an old Justice Society member, the original Red Tornado, who helped with the case.

Ma Hunkel (Abigail Mathilda Hunkel), who was the original Red Tornado, had resigned from the costume hero business to keep her kids safe so she could testify against criminals (joining the witness protection program), but had been forgotten in recent years.  The JSAers went to find her, and bring her back to the team, reminding her that the all needed the motherly love she brought to the team...

...and helping the new generation of women on the team like Power Girl and Stargirl as the JSA's museum curator.

Remember to hug your mother for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Justice League Christmas

The Justice League of America dealt with Christmas as the world's greatest super-heroes could, with the tale of "The Man Who Murdered Santa Claus!" in Justice League of America #110 (March, 1974) by Len Wein, Dick Dillin and Dick Giordano, under a cover by Nick Cardy.

Doesn't sound like a happy tale, does it?  Sadly, bad things still happen even at Christmas, as a mall Santa Claus was found murdered, and this was enough for Superman and Batman to call in the JLA....but Flash (Barry Allen) is with Iris and her parents in the future, Elongated Man, Atom and Aquaman are also busy, and Hal Jordan slips in the tub answering the call, so his back-up, John Stewart, has to take over as Green Lantern for this case.

Things don't go well for the JLA, as Superman and Black Canary appear to die, then Batman and Green Arrow, leaving Red Tornado and the new Green Lantern to face off against the Key (an old JLA foe), who plans on releasing a "doom bomb" on this old, rundown least until the Phantom Stranger shows up to stop him.  The Phantom Stranger helped the Justice League on occasion, and had saved all the previously thought dead JLAers as well.  But, the Key still manages to blow up the neighborhood! 

Thankfully, Green Lantern John Stewart is there, to rebuild the neighborhood (minus the rats, leaking pipes and other problems faced by it's residents!).   Best of all, Black Canary gives Red Tornado a new costume, allowing an android a chance at a Merry Christmas!  Better still, this issue has the a reprint of the JSA adventure from All-Star Comics #40 (April-May, 1948), with the Justice Society facing the Crimson Claw gang, and Zatanna's first meeting with the JLA (including Elongated Man) from Justice League of America #51 (February, 1967) and Murphy Anderson's drawing of the JSA from Justice League of America #76 (November-December, 1969).  How's that for a Christmas present?

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Merry Christmas Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman got into the Christmas spirit with Sensation Comics #38 (February, 1945), under a cover by H. G. Peter.

Inside, the story of how "Racketeers Kidnap Miss Santa Claus" by William Moulton Marston and H. G. Peter had Wonder Woman helping a boy named Pete Allen, who didn't believe in Santa Claus, have a merry Christmas by bringing him presents.

Problem was, this brought back the boy's deadbeat dad, criminal Joe Bamko, who tries to take the sudden good fortune from the boy, his sister and mother. 

Thank Hera Wonder Woman and her friends, Steve Trevor and Etta Candy were there to save the day!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians

Yes, you've heard it all when you realize that they made of movie called Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

But, did you know that they made a comic book based on that movie?

Dell did, in March, 1966, with this photo cover with an image taken from the 1964 movie, and interior art by Bob Jenney, based on the story that Paul L. Jacobson wrote for the movie (based on the original story that Glenville comic writer of the story has been identified).

Words cannot describe how truly odd this movie (and comic) were.

But, the movie is famous for having an eight-year old Pia Zadora as one of the Martian children, and for being the first appearance of Mrs. Claus in live action (played by Doris Rich). 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Howard The Duck Christmas

Merry Christmas from that foul-mouthed, transdimensional hero, the incredible Howard the Duck...

...who had this Christmas cover for his magazine issue #3 in February, 1980 by Jack Davis.

Marvel moved Howard the Duck (and his gal pal, Beverly Switzler) from his comic book series to the magazine series, starting with a new, magazine series #1 in October, 1979, with stories aimed for a slightly more mature audience (though, sadly, those stories were in black and white, except for the now painted covers).  The stories were written by Bill Mantlo and drew by Gene Colan, Michael Golden, and even Marshall Rogers on a special Batman spoof (Ducktective Comics) issue.  Sadly, the run only lasted until March, 1981, with issue #9.

Howard the Duck #1 and #2

October and December, 1979, by Gary Hallgren and Val Mayerik/Peter Ledger

Howard the Duck #4 and #5

March and May, 1980, by John Pound and Larry Fredericks


Howard the Duck #6 and #7

July and September, 1980, both by John Pound

Howard the Duck #8 and #9  

November, 1980 and March, 1981, both by John Pound 

Ironically, the magazines had articles on the status of lawsuits between Marvel Comics and Disney over the right of Howard to Disney now owns Marvel Comics! 


Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmas Carol 1990

In December, 1990, First Comics gave us as part of its Classics Illustrated line as issue #16, an adaptation of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol by writer/artist Joe Staton and a painted cover by Gary Gianni.

A beautiful way to find the meaning of Christmas, sure to warm the heart of any Scrooge!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Merry Christmas Batman

Celebrate Christmas with Batman and Robin, with this Golden Age tale from Batman #45 (February-March, 1948) by Win Mortimer.

Inside the book, one of the stories was "A Parole For Christmas" by Bill Finger and Charles Paris, with Eddie Rogers, a convict, released temporarily to visit his family for Christmas, but is beaten by criminals.  Coincidentally, Eddie looks like Bruce Wayne, so Batman takes his place, meeting with Eddie's girlfriend and kid brother, then going back to prison, where he finds out about Scarface Malone's plans to escape, stopping them.

Eddie then gets a Christmas gift....that of a permanent parole!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas For Outsiders

Even Outsiders are welcome at Christmas, as this story from Batman and the Outsiders #8 (March, 1984) proved.  In the tale of "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle..." by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo, teaming Batman's new team with the master of magical mystery, the Phantom Stranger.

Christmas isn't easy, even when you are super-heroes....Halo, being a newly formed being, doesn't remember previous Christmas celebrations, Katana is adjusting to not having a family, Geo-Force tries to get home to is family in Markovia, Metamorpho makes the best of it, Black Lightning deals with a death he feels responsible for, and Batman is searching for a missing baby....and, does things get weird from there.

We find that babies are missing all over Gotham, and it is Phantom Stranger's foe, Tannarak, trying to reestablish himself on the Earth dimension using the young lives to get here.  With the help of the Outsiders, Tannarak is defeated by the Phantom Stranger, and the team even find a way to enjoy the holidays, realizing they are each others' family!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Teen Titans Christmas Carol

More accurately, the title of the story was "The TT's Swingin' Christmas Carol" for all of you hepcats around when Teen Titans #13 came out back on cover date January-February, 1968 by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy.

This delightful tale, beautifully rendered by artist Nick Cardy, detailing the Titans role in a modern day reenactment of Dickens' classic Robin was reading in the issue before going to a Batman comic.  The team ends up fighting Jacob Farley and Mr. Scrounge, with the Titans giving junkyard owner Scrounge the Dickens' treatment, with Kid Flash as the Ghost, Aqualad as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Wonder Girl as a swingin' Ghost of Christmas Future, at least until Mr. Big shows up.  They still defeat the villain, get a new wheelchair for Tom, and even better job conditions for Mr. Ratchet!

This story was also reprinted many times, including in Limited Collector's Edition C-34 (February-March, 1975, cover by Nick Cardy) and the Best of DC #22 (March, 1982, cover by Rich Buckler and Dick Giordano), but both of these reprintings are missing the second page...'s that for coal in your stocking?

But you can get the complete tale in the Teen Titans: The Silver Age Omnibus with a groovy cover by Darwyn Cooke, and all the original Teen Titans tales from Teen Titans #1 to #24, and their premiere tales from Brave and the Bold and Showcase, featuring Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Speedy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Merry Christmas From Elvira

Getting your holidays mixed up?

Well, even if Halloween and Christmas aren't the same, Elvira celebrated Christmas with this....the Elvira's House of Mystery Special #1 of 1987, and a designed by Ed Hannigan, and drawn by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez.

The issue features tales such as "Elvira's Christmas Carol" by Joey Cavalieri and Frank Springer, "Oh What Fun To Laugh And Sing A Slaying Song Tonight!" by Michael Fleisher and Jack Sparling, "O, Christmas Tree" by Barbara Randall, Stephen DeStefano and Craig Boldman, "Twas The Night Before X-Mas" by Ed Hannigan and a pin-up by Paul Gulacy...all sure to delight any fan of Halloween or Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Guide To Golden Age Robotman Reprints

Before Cliff Steele had problems racing, Dr. Robert Crane ran afoul of some criminals trying to steal the robot body he and Chuck Grayson were building, resulting in Dr. Crane being shot by Mason, one of the thieves.  Chuck Grayson transplanted Crane's brain into the stronger, faster robot body...

....creating a cyborg, the man known as Robotman!

This happened in Star-Spangled Comics #7 (April, 1942) in the story later titled "The Birth Of Robotman" by Jerry Siegel, Leo Nowak and Paul Cassidy, and Robotman did capture Mason, clearing Chuck Grayson of the murder of Robert Crane (though Crane did adopt a new human identity of Paul Dennis at the time).  This story, though not reprinted, was covered in All-Star Squadron #63 (November, 1986) by Roy Thomas, Michael Bair and Mike Machlan.

Robotman had a feature that ran from Star-Spangled Comics #7 (April, 1942) until Star-Spangled Comics #82 (July, 1948), and Detective Comics #138 (August, 1948) to Detective Comics #202 (December, 1953).  Let's look at the few original Robotman tales reprinted, and where to find them.

The only of his Star-Spangled Comics tales to be reprinted is from Star-Spangled Comics #77 (February, 1948) by Joe Samachson and Jimmy Thompson, with the story of "Robotman vs. Rubberman", where Robotman (and his robotic dog partner, Robbie) faced off against a man made of rubber, tracking him down through the local circus to catch the criminal.

This story was reprinted in the Greatest Golden Age Stories Ever Told of 1990, under a cover by Jerry Ordway.

Robotman's first appearance in Detective Comics, Detective Comics #138 (August, 1948) is his next reprint, with "The Inside Story of Robotman" by Otto Binder and Jimmy Thompson, along with retelling Robotman's origin, it detailed his battle with Dirk McGurk, stealing from the Dixon Gem Company, and then wrecking Robotman....until scientists found plans to rebuild Robotman in his heel, rebuilt him, and Robotman was able to bring McGurk to justice, to be able to continue to thwart evil in his hometown.

This story was reprinted as a part of the bureau of missing heroes in World's Finest Comics #208 (December, 1971), under a cover by Neal Adams, featuring Superman and Dr. Fate!

Detective Comics #176 (October, 1951) with the story "The Testing Of Robotman" by Jerry Coleman and Frank Bolle was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #168 (August, 1967).

Detective Comics #178 (December,1951) with "The Robot Ghost", and art by Frank Bolle reprinted in Adventure Comics #413 (December, 1971).

Detective Comics #194 (April,1953) saw Robotman face "The Crime Collector" by artist Joe Certa, reprinted in World's Finest Comics #226 (November-December, 1974) along with a Golden Age Sandman and Sandy reprint.

The last of Robotman's reprints, from Detective Comics #197 (July, 1953), with the story "License For A Robot" and art by Joe Certa, was reprinted in World's Finest Comics #223 (May-June, 1974), both with Nick Cardy covers on the reprints.

This wasn't the end of the original Robotman, as he made two appearances later in life, being a part of the untold origin of the JLA in Justice League of America #144 (July, 1977, by Steve Englehart, Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin) alongside Congorilla and more, and finding out whatever happened to him in  DC Comics Presents #31 (March, 1981 by Bob Rozakis, Alex Sauvik and Vince Coletta), where his robot body had been trapped in a mine until freed, to find Chuck had died (yet willed his body to Robotman, so he could live as a human again).  The now human Robotman even appeared in America vs. the Justice Society #2 (February, 1985), and even later, helping the new Star-Spangled Kid in Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.!

Robotman had ties to the JSA thanks to his time in the All-Star Squadron, a series from the 1980s, set in the 1940s, dealing with "retroactive continuity"...adding depth to stories already printed, giving new life to old heroes like Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman and Hawkgirl, Dr. FateAtom, Dr. Mid-Nite, HourmanLiberty Belle, Johnny Quick and Tarantula  (and allowing them to meet newer ones, like Commander Steel).

After all, we are all more than just machines!