Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Betty And Me In Isolation

Being in isolation might feel a little like being trapped in a fish bowl....

...summed up nicely on this cover from Betty And Me #182 (May, 1990) by Dan DeCarlo

May you and yours be safe at this time, and with luck, you are with someone you love!

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Remembering Fred "Curly" Neal

Remembering Fred "Curly" Neal (May 19, 1942 - March 26, 2020), who was one of the flashiest members of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball exhibition team for 22 years from 1963 to 1985.

From April, 1972 to January, 1975, Gold Key had 12 issues featuring the adventures of Hanna Barbera's Harlem Globetrotters....

...based on the animated series featuring the team.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Laugh With A Sick Archie

Archie and Jughead have known to practice social distancing when you are sick, as you can see by this cover to Laugh #112 (July, 1960) by Harry Lucey, Martin Epp and Bob White.

Stay safe and wash your hands!

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

DC Special Wanted Toyman Penguin Captain Cold Heat Wave

A second dose of Wanted -- The World's Most Dangerous Villains!

Editor E. Nelson Bridwell again went into the library of DC Comics, and pulled out a few gems, focusing on the foes of the main DC heroes of Superman, Batman and the Flash....

....and found the following tales for DC Special #14 (September-October, 1971), and put them under a cover by Murphy Anderson!

The Toyman's Castle

Superman #47 (July-August, 1947) by Don Cameron, Ira Yarbrough and Stan Kaye (originally under a Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye cover) starts off this collection, with Toyman convincing the warden in prison not to put him in solitary, but to make toys that will prevent crime.  But, the toys really detail how to commit crimes, and, then, help him escape.

On the loose, Toyman comes up with a new plan...to collect signatures from wealthy people under the guise of telling fortunes, yet really to forge their names on checks and deeds to him.  Lois Lane sniffs out his real plan, but is taken hostage, forcing Superman to rescue her from the trap he prepared for this occasion in his castle (a fiendish death trap, that Superman thwarts....with a jack-in-the-box!).  Defeated, Toyman is back in prison, breaking rocks this time.

The Heat Is On...For Captain Cold

The second story from Flash #140 (November, 1963) by John Broome, Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella (with original cover by Infantino and Anderson) pulls double duty with the villains, returning Captain Cold and introducing Heat Wave.  Flash is tasked to find a missing heiress with a unique diamond birthmark on her neck by lawyer Henry Willens, so she can get her father's fortune (with a sizeable donation for the poor of Central City).  The time to find her is running out, and Barry Allen has become fixated on a dream girl on TV (much to Iris West's dismay).  Captain Cold is interested in this dream girl too, and plans to steal her affections from the Flash by committing a spectacular crime.  Flash shows up to stop him, but is stopped by new villain, Heat Wave. 

The two villains flee with their ill-gotten booty, to find that Heat Wave, too, has designs on the dream girl!  Fighting, they find their cold and heat guns evenly matched, so go out to steal....and run across the Flash.  Working together, they stymie the fastest man alive for a bit, until he uses their powers against them....defeating them.  Still, Flash has his original task to solve, and checks directly with the dream girl....finding no neck birthmark, but that she has no memory of her early life.  She had had the mark removed, and shows him the picture, proving she is indeed the missing girl, Priscilla Varner, whom Flash speeds to the lawyer to allow her and Central City to get their inheritance (leaving Barry to mend fences with Iris!).

The Bird Sayings Crime

Last, but not least, a Batman and Robin story from World's Finest Comics #55 (December-January, 1951/1952) by William Woolfolk, Lew Schwartz and Stan Kaye (with original cover by Winslow Mortimer).  The Penguin finds his birthday a sad day, as he receives messages in his Aviary from fellow criminals, insulting his bird motif.  Penguin finds this inspiration, and plans new crimes, with clues sent to Commissioner Gordon for Batman and Robin to follow. 

Batman and Robin have no problem tracking him down and stopping his first three crimes based on "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush", "Birds of a feather flock together" and "The early bird gets the worm" (which he escapes with help from his umbrella and birds), but it is the fourth that nearly ends the dynamic duo ("Killing two birds with one stone")....until they enlist a little help from a bird themselves, ending with capturing the Penguin, and putting him in a new nest...in jail!

While the Penguin ended this collection of Wanted The World's Most Dangerous Villains, the collections of villain based reprints would continue, in a nine issue series in the 1970s, recently collected by DC Comics (though not containing the stories from this DC Special or the previous....but it does have some NEW old tales, making it worth a look!).

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Happy Pi Day 2020

Though usually known for hamburgers, Jughead Jones has occasionally switched to other culinary delights, and has used that to win contests, such as this pie eating contest as shown on the cover of Archie's Pal, Jughead #46 (February, 1958) by Harry Lucey.

Happy Pi Day!

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Chilling Adventures In Sorcery

Remembering artist Gray Morrow (March 7, 1934 - November 6, 2001) on his birthday with covers from some hard to find classics he did for Archie Comics (under its Red Circle imprint).

These are the issues 3, 4 and 5 from October and December of 1973 and February, 1974, of Chilling Adventures In Sorcery.

The title continued from the two issues, Chilling Adventures In Sorcery As Told By Sabrina (which didn't have Morrow covers), and continued into Red Circle Sorcery (which did....and, might be great for coverage next year!).

Very few could rival Morrow's monsters (or beautiful women.....and sometimes, they were one in the same, as you can also see on his work on DC's Zatanna, both before and after this series).

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Superman Gets Sick: The Last Days Of Superman

Sure, Superman is more powerful than a locomotive, but even though he can handle the biggest threats and largest menaces....there are things that can stop even a Superman.

Amazingly, it could be a miniscule microbe that could finally spell doom for the Man of Steel, leading into...."The Last Days Of Superman", the comic being covered today.

Superman #156 (October, 1962) was by Edmond Hamilton, Curt Swan and George Klein, with Swan/Klein giving us the cover.

Superman's Death Sentence

It all started innocently enough, with Jimmy Olsen calling in Superman to have him stop a collision between a space capsule and a green meteor.  Superman deflects the meteor to the ground, saving the capsule, but Jimmy Olsen the Daily Planet photographer and Superman go to investigate.  At the crash site, Superman reads Kryptonian writing on the meteor, telling that it contained samples of Virus X, a plague that had been released on Krypton years before (and Superman recalled as a baby, hearing of this from Tharb-El, and how he treated the virus and sent it into space).  Superman buries the meteor with a boulder, as a wind blows from the direction of the meteor towards Superman.  As Superman approaches Jimmy Olsen while he takes pictures, Superman feels ill...and thinks he might have caught Virus X! 

Going to an Earth doctor, the doctor says he has no way to check Superman in any meaningful manner, but that his increased heart rate and sudden weakness lead him to believe Superman has less than 30 days of life left.  Superman leaves the hospital and his Daily Planet friends, and contemplates how to better the world, enlisting Supergirl's help to gather others, as Superman has his robots construct an isolation chamber around him (as Superman feels weak when talking to Jimmy Olsen).

The Super-Comrades Of All Time

As Supergirl recruits more help, including Krypto the Superdog, Lori Lemaris of Atlantis, the Legion of Super-Heroes (except for Brainiac 5, who mysteriously won't join in) and the Kandorian Superman Emergency Squad to perform many duties to make the Earth better and to keep the planet safe from threats that will menace the planet after Superman is gone, Superman gets another bout of weakness as Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane visit Superman in his self-imposed exile in the desert.   The heroes find ways to stop a rouge planet from eventually crashing into Earth as well as stopping a cloud of space fungus that would kill all plant life on Earth should it have reached our planetary orbit.  All this activity has stressed out poor Lois Lane, who faints from the pressure, with Jimmy Olsen taking her back to Metropolis in the Flying Newsroom, only to come back to find Superman has left his cell. 

Annoyed by the lack of participation by Brainiac 5, Supergirl heads back to the future to confront the intelligent Legionnaire, finding he had not turned to evil like his ancestor (and Superman foe, Brainiac), but instead was working in the lab to find a cure...but was unable to find one on Earth.

Superman's Last Day Of Life

Jimmy Olsen goes searching for Superman, as Supergirl helps the Legion and Superman's Robots in clearing space in Antartica, preparing to melt its ice to allow the land mass there to be inhabited by humans.  Superman had gone back to Smallville to contemplate the loves of his life: Lois Lane, Lana Lang and Lyla Lerrol of Krypton, then to Gotham City to say goodbye to Batman and Robin, then carves a message in the moon, revealing his identity (and hope for the world), before returning to his isolation chamber in the desert, where Jimmy and Lois help the now weakening Superman.  Supergirl, Lori Lemaris, Krypto and the Superman Emergency Squad stop an Atlantean monster before going to meet with the Legion and Superman.  There, Supergirl decides to go back to Krypton to find Tharb-El and see if he had found a cure.  On Krypton past, Supergirl overhears Tharb-El tell of an element 202 which would kill the virus, but Kryptonians as well; so he exposes his sample of the virus to the element, and sends it into space. 

Wait....Tharb-El killed the sample before it reached Earth?  Then, why is Superman dying?  Mon-El (at the time, a silent resident of the Phantom Zone) provides the answer....a small piece of Kryptonite had logged in Jimmy Olsen's camera, and made Superman sick every time Jimmy came near (the virus was never active or infectious).  Finding the Kryptonite, Superman recovered (and Supergirl and Krypto erased Superman's alter ego message on the moon).

So, it appears hypochondria is a surprising weakness of Superman's... ...amazing how the power of the mind can make one weak.  Still, it pays to be vigilant, as, for a run of Action Comics in the #360s, Superman would encounter Virus X again...and be infected, but that's a tale for a different time!

This full length tale from Superman #156 has been reprinted many times, including in the Limited Collectors' Edition C-52 (October, 1977), Superman in the Sixties (1999) and in Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told (2004).