Thursday, June 28, 2018

Batman Marries Catwoman

It isn't a hoax, imaginary story or any other such phony plot device, but a real wedding for Batman and Catwoman....or, technically for Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle.

It happened long ago, on a place called Earth-2, where the original Batman (who was a member of Justice Society of America) and the Golden Age Catwoman lived....

The Autobiography Of Bruce Wayne

Brave and the Bold #197 (April, 1983) by Alan Brennert, Joe Staton and George Freeman (with a stunning cover by Jim Aparo), presents the story where Bruce and Selina finally admit their love for each other in 1955.

Batman worries about being alone as one of Bruce Wayne's former girlfriends gets marries, and, thanks to a recently paroled Scarecrow, that fear manifests, as Robin, Batwoman, then Alfred, Gordon, even Lois Lane and Superman disappear.  Batman goes for help from an old enemy, Catwoman, serving time as Selina Kyle after turning herself in (and claiming amnesia for most of her time as Catwoman).  During their search for Scarecrow, the two open up to each other about how much life had hurt them, and that they had both needed that they both conquered their fear of being alone by trusting each other.  The story ends with a quick summary of their wedding, as well as the events which happened in the decades following.

This story is one of the best Batman stories ever written, and has been reprinted many times, including in the Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told of 1988, Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years of 2015, and in Tales Of The Batman: Alan Brennert of 2016.  This tale alone almost makes any of those collections worth buying, and the other tales around it are just a bonus.

The Kill Kent Contract

Bruce and Selina get married in Superman Family #211 (October, 1981) by E. Nelson Bridwell, Kurt Schaffenberger and Dan Adkins, with guests like Dick Grayson (Robin), Alfred Beagle, Commissioner James Gordon, Harvey Kent (the former Two-Face), and Clark Kent and Lois Lane (Mr. and Mrs. Superman).

This tale starts with Clark and Lois getting an invitation of Bruce and Selina's wedding (via Batplane, no less), and the pair heading to Gotham City to attend (revealing Lois knows both parties secret identities as well as how Selina gave up, about her brother Kyle, the King of Cats).  A phone mix up allows Lois to hear that a plot to kill Kent is afoot at the wedding.  The ceremony shows Dick Grayson as Bruce's best man, Karl Kyle giving Selina away, and Bruce's butler, Alfred Beagle (the Golden Age version of Alfred Pennyworth), Com. James Gordon (with wife Barbara and son Tony).  Afterward, at the reception, Clark and Lois meet Harvey Kent, former Gotham District Attorney (and Two-Face, before cured with plastic surgery), who as the Kent who was the target.

Superman foils the criminal's plans, and later, when Lois, Clark, Bruce and Selina are alone, Lois and Clark reveal their secret to Selina, hoping the couples would be best of friends (but it was Bruce and Dick who returned for a second appearance in the Mr. and Mrs. Superman feature in Superman Family #216). 

Sadly, this tale, like most of the Mr. and Mrs. Superman tales other than Lois and Clark's wedding from Action Comics #484, has not been reprinted, but this whole run from Superman and Superman Family, along with the Action Comics issue cries out to be collected, as writer E. Nelson Bridwell really fleshed out the differences between the Earth-1 and Earth-2 versions of Superman (and Batman) with entertaining tales of a married Clark and Lois set in the 1950s.

From Each Ending....A Beginning

A quick peak at Bruce and Selina's wedding happens in DC Super-Stars #17 (November-December, 1977) by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton and Bob Layton, as well as a little look at Bruce and Selina's life after getting hitched, including how both retired their costumed identities for a while, as they raised a daughter, Helena Wayne.

The majority of this issue is about Helena, and Bruce and Selina's life at that time, but this does have that first flashback to her birth in 1957, as well as a little time of her growing up, as well as establishing many of the guests at Bruce and Selina's wedding, setting up for the later tales which help fill in the holes of the details.  The issue also introduces Silky Cernak, and the catastrophe he will introduce into the lives of Bruce, Selina and Helena Wayne in 1976, which the title of the tale suggests, leading to the introduction of the Huntress and her costume which looks like a hybrid of Batman and Catwoman's (though Huntress appeared only days earlier in All-Star Comics #69, technically her first appearance in a cameo in the JSA tale, though this story happened first).

This tale has been reprinted a few times, in Batman In The Seventies from 1999, Huntress: Darknight Daughter from 2006 (which cries for a follow up volume to finish the Huntress reprints from the 1970s/1980s from the back of Wonder Woman as her history shows, almost all her other tales have been reprinted), and in Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years from 2015), completing our look back at the first time Batman and Catwoman got married.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Black Canary Vs. Catwoman

Black Canary and Catwoman were two of DC's sexiest woman in costumes, but, before the Crisis on Infinite Earths, they really hadn't run into each other....but once.

There's a little bit of a story before that, when they met with Batman and Green Arrow in tow, but, there was one meeting before that....

It Takes Two Wings To Fly

Detective Comics #559 (February, 1986) by Doug Moench, Gene Colan and Bob Smith (and cover by Brian Bolland), takes place after the red skies (and other problems) of the Crisis had gone away, but still counts as the Earth-1 version of Black Canary and Catwoman.
The issue starts with Green Arrow stopping Batman from catching a crook in Gotham (the two met repeatedly before), and the two nearly coming to blows before Black Canary stops them, eventually explaining that the man was wrongly accused by a big chemical manufacturer with divisions in Gotham and Star City. The two bicker constantly, allowing their quarry to escape and head back to Star City.  Batman, taking Catwoman along with him (as Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle).  Catwoman uses her implied criminal past to get an appointment with the crooked owner of the chemical plant, and Batman, Green Arrow and Black Canary (with a little help from Catwoman) stop them, and while Batman and Green Arrow argue, the ladies go out for coffee...

But, this doesn't give us the first time Black Canary and Catwoman met...that follows!

The Canary And The Cat

Adventure Comics #418 and Adventure Comics #419 (April and May, 1972) feature a two-parter focusing on Black Canary, by Denny O'Neil and Alex Toth....and what an adventure it was, so beautifully rendered by Alex Toth!  There is a bit of mystery in the issue, and just the title above (given to the two parts of the story in the Black Canary Archives, where it was reprinted) kind of gives it away.....

The story begins with Dinah Laurel Lance wondering how she had ended up at this point in her life, looking for a job, and thinking she might find one teaching judo at the Women's Resistance League for Bertha Kane.  At least she does, until she's attacked by thugs....and stopped by Bertha!  Bertha's school is a front for a criminal mastermind, who wanted them to free her.  Bertha and her school of criminals take Black Canary hostage and go to free her boss, but Black Canary gets free, and stops them just before they get to spring their leader....Catwoman!

That's when the two first met....

After the Crisis, Black Canary met Catwoman more often, usually thanks to her working with Oracle (the former Batgirl, Barbara Gordon), in the Birds of Prey...

....though there was one flashback story during an event week under the title of the Silver Age, that featured a potential earlier meeting of Black Canary and Catwoman where they switched bodies over the course of the titles of the crossover.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Wonder Woman Vs. Catwoman

To be fair, the seventies were an odd time, and, as you can see by these two Wonder Woman covers, both Diana Prince and Selina Kyle (Catwoman) had costumes that they usually weren't known for wearing....but, these two issues were a monumental occasion....that being the first time that Wonder Woman and Catwoman ever met!

The Fist Of Flame

First up is Wonder Woman #201 (July-August, 1972) by Denny O'Neil and Dick Giordano (who also did the cover), starting our tale.

Diana Prince, the currently depowered Wonder Woman, and her friend, blind martial art master I-Ching, go looking for detective Jonny Double, to find him missing, and are attacked.  After fending them off, Diana is instructed to get a ruby called "The Fist Of Flame" in a hidden village in Tibet.  Diana and I-Ching go there, and as Diana is about to take the ruby, ends up fending off Catwoman.   Catwoman is also there to take the ruby, but both get caught by the temple guards, and are forced to fight to the death.  Diana works with Catwoman to save both their lives, and with I-Ching (who finds out from Catwoman it is his missing daughter, Lu San, who sent her there), they escape with the ruby, but, then, in the cave, the world spins the trio find themselves face to face with barbarians in another dimension.....a perfect place to end the issue!

Fangs Of Fire

In Wonder Woman #202 (September-October, 1972) by Samuel R. Delany and Dick Giordano, Diana and friends find out "The Fist of Flame" teleported the trio to the land of Nehwon, and the men they met are barbarian thieves, Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser.

These two men were looking for "The Eye Of The Ocean", a jewel Lu San (who was holding Jonny Double captive) was using to build a dimensional breach to the land of Nehwon, so she could loot its treasures.  The five go to face the sorcerer Gawron, who was protecting the dimensional energy transfer matrix machine in Nehwon.  I-Ching ends up holding both gems, and brings Lu Wan, her men and Jonny to Nehwon.  In the confusion, I-Ching opens a portal to Earth, with the five and Jonny going home, and I-Ching taking "The Fist Of Flame" and the Grey Mouser taking "The Eye Of The Ocean" as they go through, leaving Lu San and her men trapped with Gawron.

In Jonny Double's office (where I-Ching transported them back to), Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser decide they do not like this world, and end up transported back to Nehwon...

...into their own adventures in DC's new at the time Sword Of Sorcery comic book adapting stories of Fritz Leiber's duo for five issues, with Denny O'Neil writing the stories based on Leiber's work, and art by Howard Chaykin, assisted by the teams of Crusty Bunkers, which included Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, Alan Weiss, Rich Buckler, Joe Rubenstein, Rick Bryant, Walt Simonson, Al Milgrom and more, with this series being reprinted by Dark Horse in June of 2016 under the title of Fritz Lieber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser: Cloud Of Hate and Other Stories.

The Wonder Woman stories have been reprinted as well, in the fourth volume of Diana Prince: Wonder Woman in 2009 (and soon in the Wonder Woman: Diana Prince Omnibus) as well as in Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years from 2015 so you can read the full story of these tales on your own!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Catwoman Vs. Lois Lane

Since Catwoman had disappeared from Batman comics in 1954, it took an investigative reporter (Lois Lane of the Daily Planet) to find her, and feature her in two issues of Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane to restart Catwoman's career of crime in the 1960s.

Well, Catwoman being missing for a time was true, there was more to the story, as will be revealed here!

The Catwoman's Black Magic

Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #70 (November, 1966)  by Leo Dorfman and Kurt Schaffenberger (who also drew the cover) was where Catwoman returned, oddly, with Lois Lane tracking down the Penguin, who she feels is going to rob a bird sanctuary in Metropolis (guess Penguin decided being beaten by Batman enough times in Gotham was enough, though how would Lois know....).

So, of course, Catwoman shows up, hypnotizes Lois to think she's Catwoman, and has her wait to kill him.  Lois does try, but Superman and Batman take him down, and Superman finds out Lois is Catwoman, then tracks down Catwoman to free Lois.  Catwoman uses her magic wand (???) to turn Superman into a black cat, and cages him in a Kryptonite cage, with Lois coming to fight Catwoman to save him.

Who will win?  Tune in, same Lois-time, same Lois-channel (or, just keep reading.....). 

Bad Luck For A Black Super-Cat

The conclusion to the story was in Superman's Girlfriend, Lois Lane #71 (November, 1966)  by Leo Dorfman and Kurt Schaffenberger (with Kurt drawing the cover referencing the other story in this issue), with Catwoman battling Lois Lane.

During the fight, Lois accidentally triggers Catwoman's Earthquake machine (sigh....) which leads Batman and Robin to her headquarters, where they capture their feline foe.  But, with the magic wand out of power, how is Lois to return Superman to his natural form?  Well, she gets some help from Lana Lang, who uses a magic item her archeologist father found, of course...

...the wonderfully fun camp of the Silver Age, but a first meeting between Catwoman and Lois Lane!

Better still, if you see all of these issues, they have been reprinted, once in Catwoman: Nine Lives Of A Feline Fatale TPB of 2004, and in Catwoman: A Celebration of 75 Years from 2015, along with many other Catwoman stories in both!

Friday, June 15, 2018

Happy Birthday Neal Adams

Happy birthday to the legendary comic book artist, Neal Adams.

Doing something unexpected here, instead of featuring this work on Deadman, Superman or Batman, but instead just a simple cover, that of Unexpected #124 (April-May, 1971) to showcase an example of his horror cover art, with an appropriate theme for the day!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Flag Day 2018 With Captain Marvel Jr

Salute the American Flag on Flag Day, along with Captain Marvel Jr. with this cover by Mac Raboy from Captain Marvel Jr. #9 (July, 1943)....

...which has both a patriotic theme, as well as supporting the efforts of World War II.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

JLA JSA Super Spectacular

Probably one of the greatest covers of its time, Neal Adams drew the combined Justice League of America and Justice Society of America (as well as Robin, Vigilante and Johnny Quick) on the cover of DC 100-Page Super Spectacular #6 (1971)....and what an issue it was.

This issue reprinted some interesting stories, and here they are....featuring quite a few people on that cover.

Justice League of America #21 

First up is the "Crisis On Earth-One" from Justice League of America #21 (August, 1963) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, and historic cover by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson.  Important for so many reasons....the first meeting of the JLA (charter members Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Lantern and Martian Manhunter, plus Green Arrow and Atom) with the JSA (a representative team of Flash, Green Lantern, Dr. Fate, Hourman, Hawkman, Atom and Black Canary....a slightly different line-up from when Barry Allen Flash saved them from Vandal Savage).  It also featured the Crime Champions, villains from two worlds, from Earth-1: Felix Faust, Chronos and Dr. Alchemy, and the Wizard, the Fiddler and the Icicle from Earth-2).  This issue also was where the names of Earth-1 and Earth-2 came from...but so much happening, that it had to continue in the next issue...

Justice League of America #22

...that being Justice League of America #22 (September, 1963) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, with a cover by Murphy Anderson, and the second half of the story, with the "Crisis On Earth-Two".  To be fair, the reprint took out the summary first page, annoying, but as the two issues are together.  The teams of heroes had to work together to get out of their interdimensional prison where their foes put them, but, the heroes pulled it together, and even had time to make a joke about how they'll have to sum all this up for missing honorary JLAer, Snapper Carr!

These two team-ups were so popular, that the JLA/JSA team-ups became a regular thing for the next 19 summers, with an ever rotating cast of JSAers!

More Fun Comics #55

The two team-ups weren't the only issues reprinted in this Super Spectacular.  A tale where "The Spectre Meets Zor" from More Fun Comics #55 (May, 1940) by Jerry Siegel and Bernard Baily (with a Spectre cover by Bernard Baily) was next, where the ghostly guardian had to defend his girlfriend, Clarice Winston, from the supernatural menace of Zor!

The Spectre had many of his Golden Age tales reprinted, but this was one soon after his origin, so his full powers as a deadman had not been revealed as of yet, but readers were starting to realize how much power Jim Corrigan's alter ego had.

Adventure Comics #190

Next up is a fun tale of Johnny Quick, an at-the-time unaffiliated speeder from Adventure Comics #190 (July, 1953) where he had to be a "Stand-In For 100 Convicts", with the story by Don Cameron and Hy Mankin (though Superboy, not Johnny, was the cover star).  Johnny had to save 99 convicts who were thought to have escaped, but didn't.

Johnny Quick was all over More Fun Comics and Adventure Comics, with many reprints, and later, had been a member of the All-Star Squadron, thanks to some retroactive continuity from Roy Thomas in the 1980s.

Action Comics #146

Next up was a story of the Vigilante and his young sidekick, Stuff, where they faced the Fiddler (not the Crime Champion/Injustice Society member) from the story of "The Galleon In The Desert" from Action Comics #146 (July, 1950) by Joe Samachson and Dan Barry (with a non-Vigilante cover from the issue).  Vigilante and Stuff had to stop this villain from plundering a ship lost in the desert....

The Vigilante (a member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory) also had a few of his Golden Age solo tales reprinted, as did the members of his team.

Wildcat Story

The Wildcat story in this issue was something odd.  It was an unpublished Golden Age story, found by the industrious interns at DC Comics at the time, saved from destruction, and published as a treat to all fans of the Golden Age. 

This tale, where "Crime Wore A Costume" featured Wildcat facing off against his foe, the Golden Age Huntress, who had faced Wildcat many times in Sensation Comics, as well as joining the Injustice Society of the World.

If you are looking for tales of the Wildcat and where they were reprinted from the Golden Age, look here!

Brave and the Bold #36

Last, but not least, a story from the JLA member who wasn't on the team when the JLA and JSA first met, Hawkman, and the tale of the "Strange Spells Of The Sorcerer" from Brave and the Bold #36 (June-July, 1961) by Gardner Fox and Joe Kubert (who also did the cover of the issue, which featured the other story of the issue, Hawkman's first battle with the Shadow-Thief).

In this tale, Hawkman and Hawkgirl faced Konrad Kaslak, an amateur sorcerer who was quite capable enough to cause some mystical menaces for the Thanagarian Hawkman and Hawkgirl to face with their scientific prowess, all the while with the pair having to deal with Mavis Trent, and her intentions of breaking up the married super-hero couple, or at least their Earth identities of Carter and Shiera Hall, who worked at the Midway City Museum.

Along with a back cover that supplied a key to the heroes on the cover (but readers here know them all, right?), it provided a checklist of character debuts, all the heroes who had their own features from Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Robin and the Teen Titans, the Doom Patrol, Deadman, Eclipso, Metamorpho and the Metal Men, even Forgotten Heroes like Animal Man and Dolphin, to the most modern characters of Orion, Mr. Miracle and the Thorn!

Best of all, this whole issue was reprinted as the DC 100-Page Super Spectacular No. 6 Replica Edition in May, 2004... you, too, can thrill to these exciting stories without having to break the bank!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Giant Justice League Of America The Second

A look back at the second Justice League of America Giant, 80 Page Giant #G-29, otherwise known as Justice League of America #48 (November-December, 1966) with a cover by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson, highlighting Batman and three exciting reprints from the earliest days of the Justice League of America, with charter members Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman and well as limited appearances by Superman and Batman.

Even though Batman was not such a big thing in the tales contained in this issue, he was on the cover, due to the giant success of the 1966 Batman TV series!

Brave and The Bold 29

Starting off with the last of the reprints of tales from before the Justice League had its own title with Brave and The Bold #29 (April-May, 1960) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, Bernard Sachs and Joe Giella, with the "Challenge Of The Weapons Master", though this story did have about a page missing, losing parts of page 8 and 9.

Xotar came back from 11960 A.D., using his robot, Ilaric, planning to defeat the JLA using one of four different super-weapons, as part of a historical record he found said one of these weapons would defeat the super team.  Stopping the individual members at the Secret Sanctuary, Xotar has them face weapons individually, with the Flash facing the Microscopitor, Aquaman and the Martian Manhunter defeating the De-Evolutionizer Ray, and Wonder Woman and Green Lantern beating the Magneto-Bubble machine.  All five face off against the last weapon, the Illusion-Maker, which does look like it will defeat the five members, at least until Superman shows up, being summoned by Batman and Snapper Carr.  Xotar returns to his own time, not knowing why he was defeated, but gets the full story of the full page of the historical record...

Justice League of America 2

Next up is the tale originally from the Justice League Of America #2 (December-January, 1960/1961) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, under this magical cover by Murphy Anderson, with the Justice League facing the "Secret Of The Sinister Sorcerers".

All science fails around the world, while, in Magic-Land - a parallel dimension ruled by magic - magic fails as well.  Merlin the Magician realizes that this has been caused by 3 evil sorcerers, Saturna, the Troll King and Simon Magus.  The JLA members resort to mystic measures to contact Merlin, who gets his magic back when he comes to Earth, and he sends the team to Magic-Land to face the magicians.  Green Lantern and the Martian Manhunter face Saturna, Flash and Wonder Woman go against the Troll King and Superman, Batman and Aquaman fight Simon Magus.  Defeating the three they return to Earth, with Merlin restoring the properties of each world to its own dimension.

Simon Magus would later return to face Superman, Batman and Robin in an issue of World's Finest Comics during its Dollar Comics era.

Justice League of America 3

Last, but not least, the reprint Justice League Of America #3 (February-March, 1961) with this Murphy Anderson cover, and story by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs (though missing 4 pages), this, "The Slave Ship Of Space".

Kanjar Ro of Dhor enlists the JLA to help him by paralyzing the inhabitants of Earth with his Gamma Gong, taking the five main JLAers to face his foes in space, using his Slave Ship.  Martin Manhunter fights Kromm of Mosteel, Aquaman and Wonder Woman face Hyathis of Alstair, and Flash and Green Lantern capture Sayyar of Llar.   The team defeat Kanjar Ro, even though he tried additional trickery, and would face Kanjar Ro again, usually with the help of Earthman Adam Strange on the planet Rann, even though the 4 alien despots were imprisoned on a planetoid created by Superman.

This issue, even with its missing pages, still continues the Giant Justice League of America tradition begun in Justice League of America #39 (November, 1965), and continued in Justice League of America #58 (November-December, 1967), though this was the last to have stories only featuring the charter members of the Justice League of America.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Sgt. Rock on D-Day 2

With Sgt. Rock #339 (April, 1980), Sgt. Rock proves "I Was Here Before", relating the tale (told by Robert Kanigher and Frank Redondo, under a Joe Kubert cover) of how Rock left Easy Company for a bit, working with British and Canadian commandos to storm the beaches of Normandy a year before June 6th, 1944.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Sharks Vs Robots

With Aquaman nowhere to be found, it is up to Doc Magnus' creations, the Metal Men, to stop the shark attack caused by the Ocean Master!

This little scene of beach horror first came to be in the 1978 DC Calendar of Super-Spectacular Disasters, and was drawn by Walt Simonson and Joe Staton.