Thursday, July 26, 2018

Titans Together

The Teen Titans had been having rough times, as the team had broken up in Teen Titans #53 (February, 1978), but it reunited a few times after that, but then, with DC Comics Presents #26 (October, 1980) and New Teen Titans #1 (November, 1980), the team was ready to go back to work, and stay around for a long time thanks to the work of Marv Wolfman and George Perez.

Robin, Kid Flash and Wonder Girl had been members for a long time....but, what about the new kids of Changeling, Raven, Cyborg and Starfire?

They all had history as well, some more than others.....

Changing the Beast

Garfield Logan started his super-hero career working with the Doom Patrol, in Doom Patrol #99 (November, 1965 by Arnold Drake and Bob Brown) as "The Beast-Boy", who shows up, as a kid with green skin and the ability to change into animals, looking to help out.  Later revealed (in the next issue), Gar contracted a rare disease in Africa, and his father found that green monkeys were immune to the disease. so transformed his son into a green monkey to give him the immunity, and, somehow the ability to transform into any animal stuck with the boy.  That ability was not enough to save Mark and Marie Logan, as Gar helplessly watched his parents drown, then ended up with a guardian, Nicolas Galtry (after flashback adventures later revealed in Doom Patrol #112 to #115 in 1967, with Gar foiling diamond mine thieves and Nazi war criminals before Galtry found the lad).

Galtry wouldn't let Beast Boy join the Doom Patrol (as Gar hid his Beast Boy identity from him), so Gar couldn't join the team, but Galtry was planning to kill the lad for his inheritance.  Beast Boy attends the wedding of Elasti-Girl and Mento (along with the Justice League of America and the Teen Titans), and Elasti-Girl discovers Galtry's plans in Doom Patrol #105 (August, 1966), then Mento finds out Galtry was financing Doom Patrol villain Mr. 103 in Doom Patrol #106 (September, 1966).  Gar works with the original Teen Titans in Teen Titans #6 (November-December, 1966), but is also unable to join them least until Mento (Steve Dayton) and Elasti-Girl (Rita Farr) take custody of Gar in Doom Patrol #110 (March, 1967), though the Chief never does get around to making Beast Boy a member, as he gets involved in trying to rehabilitate Brotherhood of Evil member Madame Rouge (which doesn't work out).  Gar at least continues to work with the team and Mento until Doom Patrol #120 (July-August, 1968), and Madame Rogue (with the help of Nazi Captain Zahl, kills the team in the next issue).

Gar shows up next in Teen Titans #50 (October, 1977) working on a sci-fi show (Space Trek: 2022) in California (his green skin and animal powers saving the production a ton of money), and when Mr. Esper and Captain Calamity cause a menace on each coast, joins up with Lilith, Hawk & Dove, Bat-Girl and Golden Eagle to form Titans West, which lasts for 2 more issues before the team slowly fades away, making Beast Boy a short lived Teen Titan.

Still, Gar continues to work on the TV show as of the flashback tale in Tales of the New Teen Titans #3 (August, 1982 by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Gene Day), at least until it is cancelled.  Then, Beast Boy tries to pick up the pieces of his own life, coming into conflict with what he believed was an old foe of the Doom Patrol, the armored Arsenal, who kidnapped his former girlfriend, Jillian Jackson.  Tracking him down, Gar found him, finding out it was really Galtry under the armor, who had hired the original Arsenal to attack the Doom Patrol....and Galtry took over the armor afterward and was trying to get more funds out of the young Mr. Logan or Ms. Jackson's parents.  Gar defeated Galtry, saving Jillian, but the villain's insults towards his Beast Boy name made him think that he needed a new super identity, which he took as Changeling when he next met with the Teen Titans.

After rejoining the Teen Titans, Gar sticks around, working with the team (and a rebuilt Robotman, as well as the Brotherhood of Evil) to capture the killers of the Doom Patrol, as well as getting a new girlfriend in Terra (a girl who can literally move the Earth....though Gar's involvement with her turns tragic due to the interference of Titan foes, Deathstroke the Terminator and the H.I.V.E.).

Devil at the Door

Trigon was an extradimensional demon looking to invade Earth, and his cult found a young woman named Arella, whom they brought into their group, and convinced to mate with their god....thus was produced Raven.  Yes, Raven was the daughter of Trigon, but Arella left the cult, planning to kill herself to prevent the child from being born.  Instead, Arella was found by extradimensional dwelling disciples of Azarath, who were a pacifistic people, who helped in Raven's birth, and helped Arella raise Raven, isolating the child, keeping her heritage a secret and training her to repress her emotions.

Juris, one of the followers of Azar, tried to kill Raven to prevent her father from manifesting, but instead ended up in Limbo himself.  Raven's lonely existence did give her time to learn how to use her powers of teleportation, astral projection and empathic healing.  After Azar's passing, Raven learned who her father was and went to confront him in Limbo against the wishes of Azar's followers, and Raven and Arella only survived because Trigon was sure he could turn Raven to his side once in Earth's dimension (this story related in flashback in Tales of the New Teen Titans #2 of July, 1982, by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Pablo Marcos).

After approaching the Justice League in attempt to convince them to help her against Trigon and being rebuffed (due to the League's sorceress, Zatanna, sensing Trigon's evil within Raven), she recruited Kid Flash (by using her powers to make him think he was in love with her, a tale told in Legends of the DC Universe #18 of July, 1999, by Marv Wolfman and Butch Guice), Raven then went to influence Robin, showing him bits of his future (including new Teen Titans Cyborg and Starfire) in DC Comics Presents #26 (October, 1980 by Wolfman, Perez and Dick Giordano), leading to the team uniting for real in New Teen Titans #1 (November, 1980, by Wolfman, Perez and Romeo Tanghal).

After the team's first mission of fighting Trigon (as well as a few distractions), the group did come to accept Raven, and tried to help the young, repressed woman to get use to life on Earth, with Raven slowly succumbing to Trigon's temptation for a time, and releasing him to face the Teen Titans again, nearly taking Earth, before he was defeated (and Raven freed from his influence for a time, changing her robes from blue to white). 

Bits and Pieces

Victor Stone was born to Professors Silas and Elinore Stone of S.T.A.R. Labs, and educated by these scientists, lacked social graces until meeting local boy (and gang leader), Ron Evers.  Vic's mom then encouraged her son to attend public school, where Victor took to athletics, leaving his parents' plans of a scientific career behind.  After being injured in a gang fight, which ended his friendship with Ron, and widened the rift between Victor and his parents, Victor tried to reconcile with his family, only to lose his mother and pieces of his own body as his dad accidentally unleashed a protoplasmic creature during an experiment at S.T.A.R. Labs.

Using the advanced technology available to him, Silas build mechanical parts for his son, making him a cyborg.  After taking some time to adjust to his new body, Victor, having lost his athletic career and girlfriend, found Ron again, and was working with him to attack the United Nations building, but instead stopped Ron (who appeared to die in the attack).

The above relates the original DC Universe origin of Cyborg, as Victor told it in the Tales of the New Teen Titans #1 (June, 1982) by Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Brett Breeding.

Cyborg found a renewed sense of purpose with the Teen Titans, made up with his father, Silas before his father died (having been poisoned by contact with the protoplasmic creature who killed his wife), with Silas making the T-shaped building on the small island in New York that the Titans would use as their headquarters, the Titans' Tower.  Victor even found some happiness with Sarah Simms, a teacher who worked with kids who had their own prosthetics, who saw Victor as a hero. 

Fighting for Freedom

Koriand'r was a space princess, having been born to King Myand'r and Queen Luand'r of Tamaran, but Kori didn't have an easy life.  Hated by her older sister, Komand'r, who didn't possess the native ability of solar flight like all other Tamarans, these royal children had to train to fight like all children did in the Vega system, learning from the Warlords of Okarra.  Training together, the two had a final duel, with Komand'r cheating to try to kill her sister, but nearly ending her own life, only to be saved by Koriand'r.  This defeat so embittered Komand'r, that she betrayed her planet, selling their defense secrets to the reptilian Gordanians, who took over the planet, installing Komand'r as leader, and taking Koriand'r as a slave at her sister's order.

Separated for years, the two sisters met at an ownership transfer that was raided by the Psions, scientists who experimented on other races of the Vegan system, who overloaded the two sisters solar powers, testing their limits, giving them both the additional powers of solar force blasts.

Koriand'r took advantage, and freed them both, only to have Komand'r return Kori to the Gordanians (all revealed in flashback in the Tales of the New Teen Titans #4 of September, 1982, by Wolfman, Perez and Ernie Colon). With her new powers, Kori was able to escape, heading to the planet Earth....and her first meeting with Robin and the rest of the Teen Titans in New Teen Titans #1 (November, 1980).

Taking the heroic name Starfire, Kori stayed on Earth to help fight Trigon, then, with the help of Wonder Girl Donna Troy, got a human identity as fashion model Kory Anders, and Starfire loves Dick Grayson, the leader of the Titans known as Robin, who later took on the identity of Nightwing (though she occasionally followed others, as her innocent free spirit led her elsewhere at times).  She even faced her sister again, and with the help of the Teen Titans and the Omega Men (heroes of the Vegan system), freed Tamaran from Komand'r (who would take on the name, Blackfire).

Gar, Raven, Vic and Kori remained the backbone of the Titans for years as Marv Wolfman chronicled their adventures, but changes to each member (including Dick, Wally and Donna) came about because of foes they faced like H.I.V.E., Deathstroke the Terminator, the Fearsome Five, the Brotherhood of Evil, Blackfire, Cheshire and Brother Blood, and before learning more of the future of these Titans, more of these villains has to be revealed as well....but, for now, remember these Titans....Together!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

DC Super Stars Teen Titans

The Teen Titans had been out of print for a few years when DC Super Stars #1 (March, 1976), with its cover made of a couple of past covers of Teen Titans by Nick Cardy gave the kids their first collection of tales...

...but, this was a key issue to the development of the Teen Titans, presenting a few old tales of the team.

Let's set the wayback machine to take a look at the two classic tales reprinted here, as well as a few other surprises that E. Nelson Bridwell's reprint title had in store for readers...

Teen Titans 11

First up, the team was offered up as "Monster Bait" by Bob Haney, Irv Novick and Nick Cardy in a story reprinted from Teen Titans #11 (September-October, 1967), with cover by Cardy.

Occasional member Speedy (Green Arrow's partner, Roy Harper), came to Titans' Lair to convince the team (Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad and Wonder Girl) to go help Willie Gregson, a young genius who was helping scientist Dr. Simon Finely, as the boy was being menaced by blackmailers using Gregson's dad's criminal past to try to have the lad steal Finely's nerve gas formula.  The five kids took the Titanscopter to the campsite near where the scientist and his team worked, and after enjoying a little time on the water in bathing suits, fought against the scuba diving criminals and their robot monster involved in this nefarious scheme.

Teen Titans 24

Next up for the team (which was down to four, as Aqualad had taken a leave of absence and Speedy joined full time), time on the slopes facing the "Skis Of Death" by Bob Haney, Gil Kane and Nick Cardy from Teen Titans #24 (November-December, 1969), with Cardy providing the original cover.

Vacationing in their alter egos (after finding out Wonder Girl's origin, name of Donna Troy and near lack of a life), the team went skiing.  Of course, there was trouble at the Medicine Mountain resort.  The Titans came to the aid of ski instructor Eddie Tallbow, to find that developer Anson Larson was trying to force the resort off the land so he could sell it to the government for a hefty profit...and he would have gotten away with it if not for these kids.

Introducing The Teen Titans

One of the most important parts of this issue was four new pages introduced by Mr. Jupiter (a senior advisor for the Teen Titans for a time), written by E. Nelson Bridwell, with art taken from previous Teen Titans issues for the members), that introduced the team for readers.

Not only Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Speedy...

....but also other members such as brothers Hawk & Dove, telepath Lilith, fix-it-man Mal Duncan, and even caveboy Gnarrk and Doom Patroler Beast Boy....who, at the time of this issue, the last two had only been associates of the team.

That was due to change, thanks to the successful sales of this issue (as well as Super-Team Family #1, which also had a Teen Titans reprint), leading to the Teen Titans getting a ten issue revival in the mid-1970s, which also featured the introduction of the Titans West and added a few new heroes to the team, like Bumblebee, Joker's Daughter, Bat-Girl and Golden Eagle!

But, bigger things were coming for the Titans after the 1970s ended....

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Destination Moon Comic

Destination Moon was a movie, but it was also a comic book that came out in 1950 by Fawcett!

With a photo cover with scenes from the movie, Otto Binder, Dick Rockwell and Sam Burlockoff adapted the movie written by Rip Van Ronkel, Robert Heinlein and James O'Hanlon

The movie also came out in 1950, and focuses on 4 would be astronauts who wanted to make sure the American Flag was the first to be planted on the moon.  So, this fantastic group put together a rocket they called "Luna"...

....and headed out to the moon, which they had to do quickly, as the government was making a court order to prevent private exploration of space.  They had problems in space, as well as when they landed on the moon, which they said they did for all mankind.  

But, they miscalculated the amount of fuel needed to return....would one of them have to stay behind?

A historical movie, important for its special effects and realistic portrayal of space travel (though it would take about 19 years for us to make it to the moon) produced by George Pal and directed by Irving Pichel.  The movie won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
Amazingly, this story was reprinted by Charlton in March, 1956, with its first page used as the cover of Space Adventures #20, and this movie and comic were just one small the United States making it to the moon for real!


Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Superboy's Moon Exile

In the shadow of United States landing on the moon, in an issue of Superboy that came out in the month of August after the Moon Landing (Superboy #160 of October, 1969), was a story about the time Superboy spent on the Moon, captured under this cover by Neal Adams.

In "I Chose External Exile" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Wally Wood, Clark Kent and Lana Lang meet visiting Egyptian envoy Abdul Amahdi and his daughter, Cleop in Smallville.  Cleop becomes interested in both Clark and Superboy, much to Lana's dismay.  Superboy attends a ball with Cleop, after which, they kiss, but this seems to crush Cleop, killing her....and Superboy exiles himself to the moon.

Cleop (who doesn't appear dead), returns to the party, confronts Lana, who meets with her on the roof, then it appears Lana kills her by throwing Cleop off the roof, with Pete Ross witnessing the event.

Lana is arrested, but Superboy, using his vision powers, sees what's going on, returns to Earth, and confesses his own crime.  A little research finds Abdul was not who he claimed to be, but was instead Professor Tingly, who had unearthed Cleopatra....and, animated her as revenge against Professor Lang (Lana's father).

Case solved, and Superboy could go back to his life to grow up to eventually become Superman....

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

2018 Hasbro Marvel Legends San Diego Comic Con Red Skull Exclusive

Looking at the various exclusives of the 2018 San Diego Comic Con, one stands out as a bright shining star....

....or at least something shining, glowing like a Cosmic Cube, which was featured on the cover of Captain America #115 (July, 1969) by Marie Severin and Frank Giacoia.

To be fair, the MCU 10th Anniversary figure and Tesseract are from the Captain America: The First Avenger movie, but that doesn't make them much less exciting.  Along with the 6 inch movie accurate version of the Hydra scientist, is the Tesseract pack, as seen at San Diego Comic Con 2018. At 3.63 square-inches, the included Tesseract lights up and features alternating light patterns, as well as a seamless battery install for an authentic look and feel.

The figure, which has its own small Tesseract, is included in the Captain America: The First Avenger inspired package, as well as instructions, making this #0 of the Marvel Studios The First Ten Years collection something to be sought after, not unlike how the comic version of the Red Skull chased after the Cosmic Cube! 

Monday, July 16, 2018

2018 SDCC Mattel Exclusive Aquaman Figure Set

Another July, another round of figures that only are available at the San Diego Comic Con.  2018 is where Mattel gets wet, giving collectors a set of 3 six inch figures as a part of the preparations for the Aquaman movie set to come out in December, with their DC Comics Multiverse Aquaman Between Two Dooms Figures 3-Pack, featuring Aquaman and his two most fearsome foes, Black Manta and Ocean Master, in a package designed to emulate the classic Nick Cardy cover of Aquaman #35 (September-October, 1967), which is the first appearance of Black Manta.

In the depths of the ocean, the King of the Seven Seas must face the firing rage of his two arch enemies: Black Manta and Ocean Master. Both have pledged to bring their wrath upon him. While the waters of the ocean are typically kind to the Sea King and his city, today, they have summoned these two arch foes to battle Aquaman, and each other. For in their thirst for power, there can only be one ruler. A colossal battle begins, unleashing fire from the bottom of the sea. As the clash of these warriors makes the Atlantean water boil, a question rises at this pinnacle moment: Who will destroy the Sea King? The “Sea Jackal” Black Manta or the DREADED Ocean Master?

Available for pre-order at the Mattel shop, it seems  to only be available if you have your id, which you would present at the San Diego Comic Con, and then the $60 3-pack would be shipped to you. 

One can hope that Mattel wouldn't be a cold fish, and makes this easily available to fans who can't join the schools of fish at SDCC!

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Ditko DC Oddities With Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman

The comic industry is mourning the loss of one of its greats, Steve Ditko, the co-creator of Spider-Man (and many of his foes, like the Sinister Six) and Doctor Strange.  A little less well known is some of his DC work, on characters of his own, such as the Creeper and Hawk & Dove.

But, in a career that spanned decades, Steve Ditko worked on DC trinity only a few times, and this seems like a great time to take a look at those pieces of work.

Superman 400

In Superman #400 (October, 1984), under a cover by Howard Chaykin, was an incredible opportunity to see artists at the time who normally did not work on Superman.

Along with multiple stories exploring the various legends of Superman (including a multi-generational saga by comic legend, Jim Steranko), there were various pin-ups of the Man of Steel within the issue, done by a laundry list of who's who in the comic community....and, individuals who had not normally drawn Krypton's last son.

One of those was Steve Ditko, who did this impressive piece...

...wonderfully capturing the iconic image of the Man of Steel in that Ditko style.

It makes me sad that Ditko had not gotten the chance to do more Superman work, seeing how well this particular piece worked out....

Man-Bat 1

Next up, Steve Ditko draws the darknight detective, Batman...

....but not in any of his own books, but instead in a spin-off, that of Man-Bat #1 (December-January, 1975/1976), hidden under a stunning cover by Jim Aparo (mostly, there seems to have been some alteration of Batman's face on the cover....not by Ditko, sadly....)

Man-Bat, an odd character himself, with a bit of a history before this issue, really came into his own with this, the first of two issues of his own title, here facing off against a sorcerous foe, Baron Tyme.

Ditko really gave an impressive look to Batman on every page he drew the hero, who was there to face off against Man-Bat, due to the magical manipulations of Baron Tyme.  

Though Ditko would not get any more opportunities to draw Man-Bat, he did get another shot at Baron Tyme, in a back up featuring Jack Kirby's Demon in Detective Comics.

DC Special Series 9

Last, but not least, a hard battle to find a version of Steve Ditko's Wonder Woman, which eventually paid off with a lengthy search of the Wonder Woman Spectacular, published under the title of DC Special Series #9 (1978), this under a disturbing cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Dick Giordano.

In the 1970s, thanks to the first year of Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman TV series, DC pushed the comic adventures of Wonder Woman back to World War II, in her regular issues, as well as in a few back-ups in World's Finest Comics.  This issue featured a jam of different artists including Russ Heath....and Steve Ditko.

But, it was a bit of a search to find any panels of Wonder Woman drawn by his parts of the story focused on the Amazons and the Olympians, some truly stunning work by a man known more for his gritty realism, but lacking in a certain Amazing Amazon who was the focus of the least until you hit one page, where god of war, Mars, was looking over a chessboard, with pieces he was manipulating, including Wonder Woman and Hitler. 

It is worthwhile to take a look at one of the two page spreads, done by Ditko as well, just to show that he did quite the job with this topic he usually didn't cover....

More would be said, but quoting from the man himself from this profile on Steve Ditko, with his works of the Creeper, Hawk and Dove, Stalker, the Odd Man, Shade the Changing Man, and his outer space prince Starman...

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Giant Justice League Of America The Third

Continuing our look back at the early reprints of the Justice League of America, with this 80 Page Giant (G-41) which was the third featuring the team, which was also labeled as the regular issue of Justice League of America #58 (November-December, 1967).

This time, the group gathers under a cover by Carmine Infantino and Sid Greene, and two of the three stories feature not only the charter members of the Justice League (Martian Manhunter, Flash, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman), but also their recent addition, Green Arrow!

Let's see what adventures they got up to, which seem to have a gaming theme!

Justice League of America 1

First up is Justice League of America #1 (October-November, 1960) with the charter members of the Justice League going up against Despero for the first time, in "The World Of No Return" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, under this classic chess playing cover by Murphy Anderson.

This issue, along with being the first dedicated to the Justice League of America, was the first appearance of one of their most tenacious foes, Despero, a three-eyed mutant from the planet Kalanor.  Jasonar, a scientist from Kalanor, escapes to Earth, hoping to recruit the JLA to stop Despero, meets the Flash, but Despero puts the rest of the team in a hypnotic trance....forcing Flash to play chess with the lives of his teammates!

Even worse, the Flash loses, and the seven members of the JLA are exiled to other worlds....thankfully, the JLA had an honorary member, Snapper Carr, who is able to save the day!

Justice League of America 6

Taking a spin with "The Wheel Of Misfortune" from Justice League of America #6 (August-September, 1961) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, with a cover by Mike Sekowsky and Murphy Anderson (inspired by All-Star Comics #42 with the Justice Society), in a story featuring only these six JLAers, with Superman and Batman sitting it out (and the reprint misses pages 2 through 6 of the original story).

One of many issues of the Justice League of America that centers around luck, as in the team having it and it being bad.  The JLA cross some superstitions and can't seem to be effective after that....but that was due to Professor Amos Fortune, a villain here in his first appearance, using the luck stolen from the JLA to successfully commit crimes.

But, Fortune didn't count on the Martian Manhunter, and his alien physique....which made him immune to Fortune's machine (and his earlier bad luck, had just been a coincidence....).

Justice League of America 8

Now, if you gamble and lose, you might have to sell your stuff, and this reprint finds "For Sale - The Justice League", from Justice League of America #8 (December-January, 1961/1962) by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky and Bernard Sachs, with a Mike Sekowsky/Murphy Anderson cover, with Superman and Batman sitting out this story in Dimension X.

This time, small-time crook, Pete Ricketts, gets his hands on a Cyberniray, which allows him to control minds.  Pete uses the device to hypnotize the JLAers, and sends them on crime sprees in least until Snapper Carr gets wind of the problem, and, using anti-gravity devices that Dr. Destiny used (as you might remember from the first JLA Giant), helps free the team and bring Pete Ricketts to justice.

The 80 Page Giants have a rich history, with and beyond the Justice League of America, and more of it will be covered, so check back to see what's next.....