Thursday, September 28, 2017

Flash Facts: Samuroids

The Samuroids were mechanical foes that first faced the Flash (Central City's protector with the alter ego of police scientist, Barry Allen)...

...but were far from the simple foes they originally appeared to be.

The Flying Samurai

The Samuroids premiered in Flash #180 (June, 1968) by Frank Robbins, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, under a cover by Andru and Esposito.

In this issue, Barry Allen and his wife, Iris, were vacationing in Japan, where Barry was warned by his friend, police Captain Hash, that war criminal, Baron Katana (who also premieres in this issue), was coming to attack Japan, with an army of Samuroids (robot samurais).

Barry goes to investigate the gathering at nearby Castle Heron as the Flash, while Iris keeps Barry's identity a secret from his friend Hash.


The Attack of The Samuroids

In the second issue, Flash #181 (August, 1968, by Frank Robbins, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, with Andru and Esposito on the cover), Flash's battle continues.

The Samuroids take Flash captive, with Captain Hash and his movie director friend, Hideki Toshira, coming to Castle Heron pretending to film a movie, which allows Barry the distraction he needs to make a flashy escape.  Baron Katana sends the Samuroids to attack, while holding Iris hostage.  Flash uses his super-speed to save his wife, as well as turn off the machine which powers the Samuroids, which sends Baron Katana fleeing into the ocean in defeat.

Thus ends the threat of the Samuroids....

American Samuroids least until Brave and the Bold #13 (July, 2008 by Mark Waid, Jerry Ordway, Scott Koblish and Bob McLeod, under a cover by Jerry Ordway), where Batman and Jay Garrick Flash face the reactivated androids and learn a little of their history.

The Samuroids were created by T. O. Morrow (a scientific villain who first faced Barry Allen Flash and Hal Jordan Green Lantern, as well as creating the android, Red Tornado).  The Samuroids ended up in a warehouse controlled by the Riddler, who gave it to the Penguin, who called in T. O. Morrow to help reactivate the Samuroids (who used coded bacteria to aid their android parts) to cause trouble in Gotham.  Batman and Jay Garrick worked together to stop the menace.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Superman Fast Food Victim

Well, even the Man of Steel seems to get hungry...and falls prey to bad eating habits, and a lack of action.

Those habits lead to problems, even for the last son of Krypton!

But, these two unrelated comics deal with a real Crisis for Superman!

Action Comics 454

In Action Comics #454 (December, 1975), Superman found himself running out of power in "Superman's Energy Crisis" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Tex Blaisdell (under a cover by Bob Oksner).

Superman found himself at a loss of power while fighting the Toyman, and even more so, randomly drifting off to sleep during the day as Clark Kent.  Superman tried adding food to his diet to keep his energy levels up, including quite a burger binge at McTavish's, but it wasn't until falling into a trap of the Toyman's that took him into orbit where Superman found out that a unique combination of minerals were draining the solar energy from his body (which Superman was able to take care of).

Superman 221 

Superman showed the weight gain in Superman #221 (November, 1969) with the story of "The Two-Ton Superman" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and George Roussos (under a cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson).

It wasn't overeating that bloated Superman, but instead a helpful alien, who gave Superman a sacred scarlet nectar, which had turned poisonous due to its age, but instead of killing the Man of Steel, simply inflicting a weight gain upon Earth's hero.  Superman had to work super-hard to lose the weight, and quickly (not unlike the rest of us...).

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Adventures of Batman As A Lad

Young Bruce Wayne spent many years training to become Batman....

...but, he took other identities along the way.  

Here is two of Bruce Wayne's earlier attempts to prepare for a life of fighting crime.

Detective Comics 226

In Detective Comics #226 (December, 1955), readers (and Dick Grayson) learn of the time "When Batman Was Robin" (by Edmond Hamilton, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris, all under a cover by Win Mortimer).

Bruce Wayne is mailed a Robin costume by Harvey Harris, a great detective who has recently passed.  Batman tells Robin the story of how he went to train with Harvey Harris, wearing that costume (where Harvey gave young Bruce the identity of Robin, and Bruce got detective training as he also had to try to keep his own identity safe from the cunning private investigator).

This story implied that Bruce was doing this over a summer while his parents were away on vacation (and that Bruce was doing this before Dick Grayson was born).

Superboy 182

The second tale is a little less of a happy one, as readers (and Superboy) see "The Forging Of Young Batman" in Superboy #182 (February, 1972) (by Leo Dorfman, Bob Brown and Murphy Anderson, under a cover by Nick Cardy).

This time around, Superboy (Superman as a boy) meets up with Bruce Wayne after the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne, to see an obsessed boy, searching for his parents killer (thinking it might be the work of a zodiac killer).  Superboy, attempting to help his friend, provides him with a costume, and accidentally suggests the name of "Batlad", which is shot down by Bruce, who takes the name of the Executioner, as he prepares to wage war on crime.  Thankfully, Superboy was there to prevent Bruce from going too far, and they do capture a criminal, but not one guilty of the crime of murder.

Bruce Wayne had many more tales adding to his basic origin, as well as a few more first meetings with Clark Kent's alter ego on his way to becoming the guardian of Gotham known as Batman.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Wonder Woman It's A Living

Looking back at Wonder Woman comics, finding a little oddity like this, Wonder Woman #73 (April, 1993), when Wonder Woman wasn't quite as popular with the fans, even with these stunning Brian Bolland covers.

Wonder Woman hadn't been reduced to slinging tacos because of falling sales, but, in "Losses" by William Messner-Loebs, Lee Moder and Ande Parks, Wonder Woman had to deal with the disappearance of Themyscira (the home of the Amazons and Diana's mother, Queen Hippolyta), as well as a clerical error that held back her Justice League stipend check, and finding it hard to live in the basement of Julia and Vanessa Kapetelises.

Along with having to get a job at Taco Whiz, a local fast food restaurant working for Hoppy Green, Diana finds a new apartment with Camille Sly, a landlord by fact of needed friends and income at her advanced age, and befriends, then saves customer Micah Rains from mobster Antonio Sazia.

A quirky issue to say the least, and one reflective of the odd tone of the era of William Messner-Loebs, who also worked with artists Jill Thompson, Paris Cullins and Mike Deodato Jr. (and stunning covers by Brian Bolland) during his run from Wonder Woman #63 to #100 in the 1990s, working between the runs of George Perez and John Byrne.

As both George Perez and John Byrne are seeing collections of their Wonder Woman work in this time of Diana's popularity due to the Wonder Woman movie, might we also see collections of the work of William Messner-Loebs, as well as putting Wonder Woman's 12 Labors back into print, and perhaps looking for more jewels in Wonder Woman's encyclopedic history?

Thursday, September 14, 2017

DC Comics Heroines For September

Since the 1976 Super DC Calendar featured this fantastic shot of the fabulous females of the DC Universe by Dick Giordano....

..seemed a good enough time to talk about who these five women are!

Black Canary

Dinah Laurel Lance premiered as Black Canary with what would eventually become her sonic scream to join the JLA in Justice League of America #75 (November, 1969 by Denny O'Neil, Dick Dillin and Joe Giella), but, at the time, she thought she was Dinah Drake Lance (the original Black Canary), and continued to believe that for years as she transitioned from being a member of the Earth-2 Justice Society to the Earth-1 Justice League.

The story of how the daughter thought she was the mother, and what happened to the original Black Canary was eventually revealed in Justice League of America #220 (November, 1983, by Roy Thomas, Chuck Patton, Romeo Tanghal and Pablo Marcos), which turned the issue where she joined the JLA into a Black Canary first appearance.

Mary Marvel

Mary Bromfield found out she was Billy Batson's twin sister in Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (December 11, 1942 by Otto Binder and Marc Swayze) thanks to them both possessing half of a locket, and Billy revealed that he could change into Captain Marvel by saying "Shazam".  Mary was a competitor in a trivia contest, covered by radio announcer, Billy Batson, and hoods tried to steal the prize of the show....with Billy and Freddy Freeman incapacitated by the hoods and unable to speak, Mary tried the magic word, and with a flash of magic lightning became Mary Marvel!  Mary then defeated the ruffians easily with her new powers.

Mary then worked with Billy and Freddy (Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel, Jr.) as the Marvel Family!



Kara Zor-El's rocket landed on Earth in Action Comics #252 (May, 1959 by Otto Binder and Al Plastino) in "The Supergirl From Krypton".  Superman found his cousin in her rocket, and helped her adjust to life on Earth, with a secret identity of Linda Lee at Midvale Orphanage for a time, while Kara operated in secret as Superman's secret weapon of Supergirl.

As time passed, Supergirl was adopted by Fred and Edna Danvers, faced a few of Superman's foes like Lex Luthor and friends like Batman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, then Superman revealed Supergirl's presence to the world in Action Comics #285 (February, 1962, by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney) as "The World's Greatest Heroine"...and best of all, these issues were all reprinted in giant sized issues of Action Comics.

Lois Lane

Lois Lane first met a young Clark Kent (Superboy) in Adventure Comics #128 (May, 1948 by Bill Finger and George Roussos) in "How Clark Kent Met Lois Lane" with Clark and Lois competing in a contest for the Daily Planet to get a story published, with Clark unintentionally giving the contest to Lois, as she got two stories on Superboy.

Of course, this was the Earth-1 Lois Lane (who loved the Earth-1 Superman, who was a member of the JLA).  The original, Earth-2 Lois Lane premiered in Action Comics #1 (June, 1938, by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), and that Lois and Clark got married in the 1950s, as later revealed in Action Comics #484 (June, 1978 by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and Joe Giella).


Shayera Hol came to Earth with her husband, Katar Hol in Brave and the Bold #34 (February-March, 1961 by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert) as Thanagarian policemen, looking for the shape-shifting criminal, Byth Rok.  They used their advanced science and ancient Earth weaponry to capture the villain, but remained on Earth as museum curators in Midway City, as Carter and Shiera Hall, working with Commissioner George Emmett.

Over the years, the multiple Earths and various Crises weren't kind to the Hawk couple, as Hawkgirl (later Hawkwoman)  and her history got more complex.

Still, these were all wonderful heroines!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Remembering Len Wein

Taking a little time to remember Len Wein, a comic book legend taken from us too soon (He was 69, born on June 12, 1948, and passed on September 10, 2017).

Len was the co-creator of Swamp Thing and the Human Target for DC and Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler for Marvel, as well as launching the new team of X-Men in Giant-Size X-Men #1, and editing the early days of Alan Moore's work on the Watchmen and on Saga of the Swamp Thing, and even had a brief cameo as a Congressman in the movie X-Men: Days of Future Past in 2014.

But, now is a time to take a look back at some of his best stories.

Batman's Origins

Over the years, Batman had many origins, but they all contained the basics of young Bruce Wayne's parents being shot, and Bruce vowing to avenge their deaths, and devoting himself to the hard work of becoming Batman.  But, with the Untold Legend of Batman three issue mini-series of 1980, Len, along with artist Jim Aparo, gave the most detailed summation of how Bruce became Batman, pulling in multiple stories from over the years, as well as adding new details, and giving a little history on Robin, Batgirl, Alfred, Com. Gordon and a few villains like Joker as well, all well pushing forward and telling a compelling story of the tortured life of Bruce Wayne in the here and now (even a little on Lucius Fox, who Len created during his run on Batman....).

Batman Villains

Not every Batman villain is in the same league as the Joker, Two-Face, Riddler or Catwoman (all of which Len wrote), but quite a few of them had only one or two appearances and then were forgotten.  Len revived quite a few of Batman's odder villains, like Blockbuster, Mr. Freeze, Calendar Man, Kite-Man as well as borrowing a few foes like Crazy-Quilt (who faced Robin), Captain Boomerang (who faced Flash) and Gentleman Ghost (who was a Hawkman foe), for a run in the 300s in 1979/1980, giving these second tier villains a chance to shine (best of all, all these tales as well as the Untold Legend Of Batman were recently reprinted in Tales of the Batman: Len Wein in 2015).

Justice League Villains

Reviving villains was nothing new for Len Wein, as he did quite a bit of that in his run of Justice League of America from 100 to 114 in the early 1970s.  Len brought back JLA foes Felix Faust, Shaggy Man, T. O. Morrow, the Key, and Amazo, as well non-JLA villains like Eclipso and the Hand, and created a few new ones, like Anakronus, the Nebula Man and Libra (with Libra forming the Injustice Gang of the World, which included individual League member foes like Chronos, Poison Ivy, Mirror Master and more).

Working with the Justice League

All these new villains required new heroes, so Len added Elongated Man (who Len had written some back-up Flash stories for) and the Red Tornado to the League, as well as many guest stars, including future League members, Zatanna (who Len wrote back up Adventure Comics and Supergirl stories for) and Metamorpho, almost member, the Phantom Stranger (whom Len had a lengthy run on in the early 1970s), having back up Green Lantern John Stewart guest for an issue (his second appearance), as well as writing three JLA/JSA team-ups, creating the Freedom Fighters (made up of old Quality heroes like Uncle Sam, the Ray and the Phantom Lady), finding out what happened to Sandman's partner, Sandy the Golden Boy, and, best of all, one large group of ignored heroes as well....

Seven Soldiers of Victory

Len gave DC back the Seven Soldiers of Victory, a mostly forgotten team of heroes from the 1940s, which included Earth-2's Green Arrow and Speedy, the western Vigilante, the Shining Knight, the Star-Spangled Kid and Stripsey and the Crimson Avenger and his partner, Wing (who made 8 soldiers), plucking them out of the past in one of the largest JLA/JSA team-ups of it's time, but keeping them in the present to be available as modern heroes.  In the 1980s, Len did return to one of these heroes, writing a memorable tale that told "Whatever Happened To....the Crimson Avenger?" for DC Comics Presents #38 (October, 1981), which is both a heartbreaking and inspiring tale.    

Len's Legacy

Len would often return to characters, working on Superman, Batman (even on DC Special Series #27, teaming Batman with the Hulk), Wonder Woman, a run on Green Lantern with Hal Jordan and John Stewart, as well as many Marvel characters, then handling Blue Beetle's revival at DC after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and even later creating Gunfire, and back for a Human Target limited series and one for Swamp Thing....

...., as well as work on a 10 issue mini-series DCU: Legacies in 2010/2011, which let Len work on the whole of the DC Universe one last time.

For all of this and so much more, comic book fans will remember the legacy of Len Wein.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Happy 51st Anniversary Star Trek

51 years ago, Star Trek began its life on NBC, with a little episode called "The Man Trap".

Since then, Star Trek has continued on, with multiple movies and spin well as a few comic books.

DC had two comic book series about the original cast and crew that lasted past 50 issues, so here's a quick look at them.

1980s DC

This Star Trek #51 (June, 1988) has the title of "Haunted Honeymoon", and is by Peter David, Tom Sutton and Ricardo Villagran, with a cover by Mike O'Connell.

The crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701-A faces off against a telepath who has fallen ill...

...projecting nightmarish visions for the crew, including Captain Kirk, who sees visions of the good ship Enterpoop, crewed by the characters of Bloom County.

This story does continue into the next issue of this series...

1990s DC

DC's other Star Trek #51 (August, 1993) features the story "Renegade" by Dan Mishkin, Deryl Skelton, Steve Carr and Arne Starr, with a cover by Rod Whigham and Carlos Garzon.

This issue focuses on Saavik, with her tracking down a Federation scientist, Professor Erickson, on a Romulan Outpost, as the scientist was planning to share a major breakthrough of his with the Romulans!

Two very different issues, showing some of the infinite diversity of Star Trek!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Remembering Jay Scott Pike

Taking a moment to remember artist Jay Scott Pike on his birthday (September 6th, 1924 to September 13th, 2015).  

Pike was the creator and writer/illustrator of Dolphin's first appearance in Showcase #79 (December, 1968), with the story, "The Fantasy At 14 Fathoms".

This story has United States Navy frogmen retrieving documents from a ship sunk during World War II...and imagine the surprise when these men found a girl, living down there!  That girl was the white-haired girl named Dolphin, who has to stay near the water as she has gills, so needs the water to breathe.  Chief Petty Officer Chris Landau grows close to the girl, and tries to learn her origins from find out she doesn't know.  She does help the team get the document as a storm approaches, completing their mission, meaning they will leave, but Dolphin stays behind, as the ocean is her home.

Forgotten Heroes

Dolphin had pretty much been left behind, but did appear again, as a member of the Forgotten Heroes (a loose-knit group of characters that hadn't had many features over the years, which began meeting semi-regularly, starting with Action Comics #552), and later joined Aquaman and Tempest in the pages of Aquaman, where she was a regular supporting cast member for years, and recently experienced a Rebirth there as well!

Romance Comics 

Sadly, Jay Scott Pike never returned to drawing his creation in the comics, but instead had regular work in various titles of romance comics for Marvel and DC, showcasing his talent for drawing beautiful women, on titles like Girls' Love Stories, Falling In Love, Love Stories, Young Love, Our Love Story, Heart Throbs and Young Romance, .

Occasionally, Pike got some comic book work after the 1970s, working on three issues of the female vampire series, Scarlett (#12 to #14, in the early 1990s), and on the interior of the DC adaptation of the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation "All Good Things" in 1994.

Not Forgotten 

Mostly, Pike concentrated on his pin-up work, sometimes flashing back to earlier days, with commission work based on work he had done in the pulps or featuring good girl art, or on previous characters like Lorna the Jungle Girl and his co-creation with writer Don Rico, Jann of the Jungle, or even Dolphin. 

Pike was still taking commissions up until he passed, leaving behind a legacy of beautiful artwork for all to enjoy.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Happy Labor Day With Wonder Woman and the Twelve Labors

Collected for July, 2012....was the Twelve Labors of Wonder Woman!

Covering the new Wonder Woman stories from Wonder Woman #212 to #222 (1974/1975)...

...this tradepaperback shows Wonder Woman's attempts to rejoin the Justice League after regaining her powers, with each JLAer monitoring her activities to see if Wonder Woman was still worth to rejoin the JLA, after the amazing amazon had problems that caused her to doubt herself!

The first two issues, with Superman and Flash as monitors.

The second two issues with Green Lantern and Aquaman

The third two issues with Black Canary and Green Arrow

The fourth two issues with Red Tornado, Phantom Stranger and Elongated Man

The fifth two issues with Atom and Hawkman

The last issue with Batman