Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The First Batman

Think you know Batman?   That Bruce Wayne was the first Batman, taking his mission to avenge the death of his parents to Gotham?

No, there was another Batman before Bruce....his father, Thomas Wayne, as revealed in Detective Comics #235 (September, 1956), by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye.

Bruce Wayne finds an old bat-costume in Wayne Manor, and researching it, finds his dad wore this costume at a party, stopping gangsters, testifying against the gang leader, Lew Moxon.  Thomas and Martha Wayne were then later killed by Joe Chill....but, evidence found in the here and now suggested Lew Moxon had hired Chill to kill Thomas.  This sent Batman after Moxon, who had no memory of hiring Chill.  Batman's costume was damaged, so he wore his dad's outfit, which jogged Moxon's memory, sending him fleeing into the street (while confirming his guilt), only to be accidentally struck by a car and killed, bringing to an end Bruce's hunt for his parents' killer (and giving the symbolic idea that Thomas was will him as he finished that hunt).

This tale was reprinted many times, in Batman Annual #4 (Winter 1962/1963), Batman #255 (March-April, 1974) , Best of DC #2 (November-December, 1979), Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told (1988/1989), Batman: The Black Casebook (June, 2009) and in DC Comics Classic Library: The Batman Annuals #2 (August, 2010).  

The story also got new life, in both the Untold Legend of the Batman mini-series (one of the best summaries of Batman's origins) and during a more recent run in Batman, under the heading of The Black Glove and R.I.P. (in the later 600s of Batman)......proving we can never really escape the legacy of our fathers, or the justice of Batman.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Happy Earth Day 2017!

Well, at least someone wants Earth!

Con man Silky Sloane tried to sell Earth to aliens in this story by writer Otto Binder and artist Sy Barry in Strange Adventures #47 (August, 1954) with "The Man Who Sold The Earth!"...

...all under this beautiful cover by Murphy Anderson!

Better still, this tale was reprinted in From Beyond The Unknown #25 (November-December, 1973), with cover art by Nick Cardy!

Let's try to keep the planet for ourselves!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Gotham's Batman Replacement Mysteryman

Batman isn't quite up to the task, with Commissioner James Gordon being ordered by the mayor to call in the dynamic duo to help against smugglers...and Batman and Robin become "The Dynamic Trio", adding Mysteryman to the group in Detective Comics #245 (July, 1957), with the story by Edmond Hamilton, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris.

Reporter Vicki Vale wonders who Mysteryman is, and how he's able to order around Batman and Robin, following him around as they capture villains and thugs, first thinking he was a robot, then, believing him to be Superman.... for who he is, keep reading!

Mysteryman only had the one appearance, but that appearance was reprinted in Batman Annual #7 (Summer, 1964), Batman Family #2 (November-December, 1975) and in the Batman Annuals Hardcover #2 of 2010 (and the name of that man is on the reprint covers), but he also had a one page cameo in Kingdom Come #4 (August, 1996) with an unexplained appearance..., go find one of these issues for the secret (if you don't want it spoiled....)

Or keep reading for the solution!

The secret of Mysteryman was discovered  by Vicki Vale....

....and the mystery hero is....

....the man known as....

...the man who did not want to disobey the mayor, but wanted to continue on the case, the Gotham Commissioner James Gordon!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Batman Foe The Spinner

Back in the day, Batman and Robin faced many a strange foe, and one of them was...the Spinner, and he happened to be Batwoman's biggest fans!

Premiering in Batman #129 (February, 1960 by Bill Finger, Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris) in "The Web Of The Spinner", Batman and Robin were chasing the green armored villain, the Spinner, while Batwoman searches for Swami Ymar, a leading criminal running his own racket on the wealthiest of Gotham City.  The heroes paths intersected, finding out the secret of who was under the Spinner's spinning helmet!

Then, that was it for the Spinner!

True, the Spinner's story was reprinted in Batman #198 (January-February, 1968, under a Carmine Infantino/Murphy Anderson cover), and then again in Batman Family #8 (November-December, 1976 under an Ernie Chan cover, with Robin facing Catgirl, who was another villain in disguise), but he really was a one and done villain (with the secret that the Spinner was really the Swami!).

Still, he must have made an impression on someone, because he also ended up as a background villain on the animated Batman: Brave and the Bold series, with such luminaries as Mr. Polka-Dot, Zebra-Man, the Eraser, Calendar Man, Cat-Man, Cluemaster and Killer Moth

That anyone remembers the Spinner makes me dizzy!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Action Comics 1 The First Superman

On April 18th, 1938, (cover date June, 1938), Superman and the contents of Action Comics #1 were copyrighted (with the issue likely going on sale on May 3rd, 1938).  Superman, the champion of the oppressed, was released onto an unsuspecting world by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster with 13 pages to lead off the issue (as well as being featured on the cover)....and the world was never the same afterwards, as Superman spawned generations of other heroes and a worldwide revolution! 

This story was also the first appearance of Lois Lane (based on the lady Jerry Siegel was infatuated with, Joanne, and Joanne later married Jerry!).  

The issue also featured Chuck Dawson, magical hero Zatara, Sticky-Mitt Stimson, Marco Polo, Pep Morgan, Scoop Scanlon and Tex Thomson (who later fell into becoming a mystery man himself, Mr. America).

Remember, at this time, even Batman didn't exist yet (but he was coming with Detective Comics #27).

While Superman's first tale from the Golden Age has been reprinted in Archives, Chronicles and more, only the oversized Famous First Edition #C-26 (1974), a promotional version of Action Comics #1 in 1998, and the Millennium Edition: Action Comics #1 (February, 2000) feature the whole issue, allowing readers a chance to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and experience the world of 1938 where Superman was the only super-hero for a time!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Happy Easter...Island

Let's celebrate Easter with a little trip to Easter Island!

Trips can be rare, for some, just as rare as Jack Kirby doing work on mainstream DC heroes.

But, Jack did get a chance to work on DC's big guns, first, with the first DC Super Powers  5 issue mini-series, then the second Super Powers mini-series, which lasted 6 issues in 1985/1986, which was written by Paul Kupperberg.

The third issue saw Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Dr. Fate facing the giants of Easter Island!

Best of all, Kirby's two Super Powers series ended up in the Jack Kirby Omnibus #2 of 2013, along with issues of Kirby's 1970s Sandman, Black Magic and 1st Issue Specials with Atlas, Manhunter and the Dingbats Of Danger Street!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Batman Pays His Taxes

Well, even millionaire Bruce Wayne had to pay taxes, and sometimes you just owe too much....

...okay, that really wasn't the focus of Batman #191 (May, 1967) with a cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson.

The real story of "The Day Batman Sold Out" by John Broome, Sheldon Moldoff and Joe Giella, was that Batman's equipment was made radioactive by new villain, Ira Radon....and to save himself from that radiation, Batman had to sell off his stuff via the Wayne Foundation so he would not be exposed to it (it was small enough radiation dose that only Batman would be affected by it, as long as he maintained it all, and all together...).

Holy Geiger Counter, Batman!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

DC Super Heroes Vs Monsters

It was "Super Heroes' War Against The Monsters" for DC Special #21 (April-May, 1976), featuring Superman, Green Lantern, the Marvel Family and even United States soldiers facing terrible monsters that menaced large populations....

...all under a cover by Ernie Chan.

Here's the story behind the original presentations of these tales.....

Action Comics #326

First up is a tale featuring Superman from Action Comics #326 (July, 1965), featuring the Man of Steel facing off against larger super-powered insects in "The Legion of Super-Creatures" by Otto Bender, Curt Swan and George Klein, all under a creepy crawly cover by Curt Swan and George Klein.

These alien insects descended on Earth, and even Superman was powerless to defeat this insect army and their assorted abilities.  Superman was able to track down the alien ship that deposited these creatures on Earth, and learning of the motivations of those who released them, figured out a way to stop the giant bugs.

Green Lantern #3

Hal Jordan literally created his own monster problem in the back-up tale of "The Leap-Year Menace" from Green Lantern #3 (November-December, 1960) by John Broome, Gil Kane and Joe Giella.

Green Lantern was meeting his fan club at charity event, then returned to his alter ego to meet his girlfriend, Carol Ferris, where Carol told Hal she plans to take advantage of the leap year tradition to ask Green Lantern to marry her at another charity event Green Lantern will be at.  Hal, to save his secret alter ego (so he can woo Carol as himself), creates a power ring monster to menace his heroic self...but, this plan goes awry as the menace becomes too menacing (and then GL has to not only face Carol's proposal, but that of his female fan club as well!).

Star Spangled War Stories #132

DC used to feature comics with war heroes as stars, as well as comics that featured monsters, but, it was the feature of "The War That Time Forgot" that regularly pitted United States Armed Forces against the dinosaurs of Monster Island, including this tale from Star Spangled War Stories #132 (April-May, 1967) by Robert Kanigher and Russ Heath, featuring "The Big House Of Monsters".

The story involves a cop and a criminal, who end up enlisting in the army together, getting captured by the Japanese, then, in escaping their POW camp, end up together on Dinosaur Island.  The two have to work together to get off the island (and fend off the beasts), yet, the criminal also plans to kill the former policeman.   This tale does not end well for either of them....with quite the pyhrric victory for the survivor of the human battle.

Marvel Family #7

Last, but not least, is a little love from old Fawcett comics, with a feature of the Marvel Family (Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr.) from Marvel Family #7 (December, 1946) with "The Marvel Family Reaches Eternity" by Otto Binder, C.C. Beck and Pete Costanza.

The Marvel Family faces off against The Three Faces of Evil, as they break free from their prison under the Rock of Eternity (home of the ancient wizard, Shazam, who powers the Marvel Family), and split up to cause mischief, which is thwarted by Cap, Mary and Junior, who split up to each take on one face of evil....then battle to reunite them, and return them to their prison under the Rock!

Holy Moley!  Enough monsters for you?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Remembering Gil Kane

Remembering artist Gil Kane on his birthday, with a pair of covers he drew!

Gil Kane was an artist who changed the world on Green Lantern, Atom, Spider-Man and more, and Gil provided the cover to Mystery In Space #34 (October-November, 1956), which featured the story of "The Man Who Moved The World" by John Broome and Sid Greene.

Though Gil didn't do any work on that story, he did draw the Space Cabbie feature in the issue.

This story of "The Man" found itself reprinted in From Beyond The Unknown #9 (February-March, 1971), with the art slightly altered (this man was an aimless wanderer looking for something to do...not knowing his own fate).

A Gil Kane drawn story was reprinted in this issue (from Strange Adventures #108 of September, 1959), "The Last Horse On Earth"...

....with a space cowboy who used a robotic steed, that everyone ridiculed the cowboy for having (and the cowboy based himself on the western Johnny Thunder (Gil co-created Madame .44, in All-Star Western #117 of February-March, 1961)...

....though the Strange Adventures story of a human held by gorillas, only had a cover by Gil Kane.

Still, no monkeying around, but remembering the talent of Gil Kane!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Flash Facts: Giant Flash Traps

Flash got out of some pretty treacherous traps in his day...'s the cream of the crop collected in 80 Page Giant #4 (October, 1964)...

...all under an expressive cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson!

Showcase #13

Flash went "Around The World In 80 Minutes" in this reprint from Showcase #13 (March-April, 1958) by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

Barry Allen felt being a hero was being a hero to the whole world, making a radio that allowed him to listen to broadcasts from all over the globe, which he then took action on, starting with saving the Eiffel Tower from an atomic bomb planted by the Black Cat, saving a princess and her jewels from criminals to get her home to Cairo, fighting them on a pyramid (which gets damaged, but Flash fixes that as well after beating them, stopping an avalanche in Tibet, and even dealing with a pirate sub and its torpedo...and still getting home in time in 80 minutes to have a date with Iris West! 

You thought you had a busy day....

Showcase #14

Flash faces the "Giants Of The Time-World" from Showcase #14 (May-June, 1958) by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Frank Giacoia.

After a lunch with Iris and her plans fly to an assignment, Barry goes about his day....but Iris' plane is kidnapped by a flying saucer!  Flash tries to find a way to follow Iris, eventually breaking an inter-dimensional barrier, being captured by small green aliens, who also have Iris, and place the Flash in an hourglass prison, planning to destroy the Earth as they grow while the hourglass prison counts the time (and finishes the Flash).  Barry finds a way to escape, saves Iris, stops the aliens, and they get back home.

Flash #105

Flash faces "The Master Of Mirrors" in this classic story from Flash #105 (February-March, 1959) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

The Mirror Master premieres in this story, using his trick mirrors to duplicate the image of bankers to rob from banks.  Flash follows one of the bankers to a house, where Flash is set upon by strange images, including a giant mosquito! 

Flash figures out a way to shut off the lights, allowing him to beat the Mirror Master (though Sam Scudder returns to face the Flash again, as detailed here!).

Flash Comics #90

Time to back further in time, to the adventures of the Golden Age, with Jay Garrick as the Flash, with the tale of "Nine Empty Uniforms" from Flash Comics #90 (December, 1947) by Robert Kanigher, Carmine Infantino and Frank Giacoia.

Flash works with an aging baseball team called the Bobtails, that are having a losing streak.  Jay helps them along, getting their own team spirit going again (even after they get kidnapped, forcing the Flash to play all nine positions for a time), still getting the team back, which helps their ailing manager recover from his problems as well!

Flash #110

Often, the enemy of baseball is the weather, and Flash faces "The Challenge Of The Weather Wizard" for the first time in Flash #110 (December-January, 1959/1960) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson.

Barry is dealing with an odd weather streak in Central City, finding out that one man, Mark Mardon, the Weather Wizard is responsible for the problem.  Mark was a criminal who stole his dead scientist brother's weather control device, and after making a costume for himself, used that tech to become the Weather Wizard.  Flash stops the weather problems Mardon causes, as well as the Weather Wizard himself.  But, his whirlwind day left Flash confused, as he showed up for a date with Iris as the Flash (a surprise to Iris, because at this time, Iris does not know Barry is the Flash!).  The Weather Wizard would return, eventually even joining with other Flash Rogues!

Flash #115

If the weather is bad, you might stay inside and not exercise, then Flash would face "The Day Flash Weighted 1,000 Pounds" from Flash #115 (September, 1960) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella.

Gorilla Grodd invented a pill that would allow him to transfer his mind into another person, leaving his body behind, to be proclaimed dead by the king of Gorilla City, Solovar.  Grodd ends up in the body of William Dawson, taking a job as an animal trainer, and using the chimps to stage least until the Flash gets involved.  Tracking the crimes backward, Flash approaches Dawson, who uses a special ray to get Flash to retain water, grow in size and weight, and to get amnesia.  Dawson uses the now huge Flash as an attraction, at least until Flash sees his distorted reflection in a funhouse mirror, restoring Barry's memory, so he could catch Dawson (though Flash does not find out he is Grodd....that comes later in one of Barry's many battles with Gorilla Grodd!).

Along with all these great stories, this issue has a pin-up of the Flash's Rogue's gallery, as well as a pin up of Flashes Barry Allen and Jay Garrick with Kid Flash Wally West!

Of course, Flash also had an Annual in the Silver Age, as well as another 80 Page Giant with his first team-up with Jay, and many of his foes!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Happy National School Librarian Day 2017

Some days, it's just harder to work in the library...

...especially when a gorilla wants a book! 

We learn the "Secret Of The Man-Ape!" in Strange Adventures #75 (December, 1956) by writer Otto Binder, penciller Carmine Infantino and inker Joe Giella, all under this stunner of a cover by Gil Kane and Bernard Sachs.

Hint...aliens are involved.

Not to be outdone, the story found its way into From Beyond the Unknown #23 (July-August, 1973) with a cover by Nick Cardy.

Now, how could Robinson Crusoe, Moby Dick and Treasure Island allow you to take over the world?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Green Lantern's April Fool Day Crimes

A little note of April Fool's Day with this story from Comics Cavalcade #27 (June-July, 1948) by John Broome and Alex Toth, with Golden Age Green Lantern villain....the Fool!

Haven't heard of the Fool?

Most people haven't.  He didn't even make the covers in the Golden Age of his very few appearances as he menaced Green Lantern Alan Scott with his toy trickery!

Green Lantern #28

The Fool first appeared in Green Lantern #28 (October-November, 1947) when "The Fool Came To Town" by John Broome and Alex Toth to fight against Green Lantern, after using chewing gum to blow a bubble to allow him to escape prison.

After landing, he fashioned himself a simpleton's costume, complete with dunce cap, and tried to steal from a charity program of Alan Scott's radio station, which led him into conflict with Green Lantern, eventually returning the Fool to Gotham prison.

The Fool didn't make the cover, Sportsmaster did.

Green Lantern #31

The Fool returned in Green Lantern #31 (March-April, 1948) by John Broome and Alexander Toth, with "The Beauty and The Fool".

This time around, the Fool stole Pop-Jacks Candy boxes (to hide diamonds in, having heard that the manufacturer hid diamonds in one box), and after facing toy trains, Green Lantern captured the Fool, yet again (and this time, the cover was taken by the Harlequin...

..another of Alan's reoccuring foes, though this beauty was not the beauty of this tale, that was instead a lady reporter).

Comic Cavalcade #27

Last, but not least, the last appearance for the Fool, from Comic Cavalcade #27 (June-July, 1948) by John Broome and Alex Toth....that story that relates to the day...with "The April Fool's Day Crimes".

This time around, the Fool escaped prison on April 1st to steal hats (really a feint to allow him to steal priceless artwork and to vex Green Lantern and his pal, cab driver Doiby Dickles).

Another issue without the Fool on the cover (this time, Green Lantern, Flash and Wonder Woman....).

Sadly, none of these Golden Age stories have been reprinted... enjoy what little we can of them!