Friday, August 28, 2020

Celebrating Jack Kirby

Remembering Jack Kirby (August 28, 1917 - February 6, 1994) on his birthday, with this, the cover of Foom #11 from September, 1975, by Kirby, John Byrne and Joe Sinnott.

After years at DC, ending with his creation of Atlas, Manhunter, the Dingbats and Kobra, the King came back to Marvel.

On his return trip to Marvel, Kirby worked on Captain America (with Falcon!) and created, among others, the Eternals (which looked very similar to his New Gods from DC), as well as plenty of covers for most of the titles of the line.   


Truly, the wonder of Kirby's talent are incredible to behold!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Kobra Two By Two The Second

Continuing Kobra coverage, with the next two issues of his short lived series from the 1970s, this time looking at the third and fourth issues of his run from the mind of Marty Pasko and an ever changing array of artists!


Vengeance In Ultra-Violet

Ernie Chan gave us the cover for Kobra #3 (June-July, 1976), with interiors by written by Martin Pasko, and art by Keith Giffen, Terry Austin and Dick Giordano, continuing the battle between Kobra and Solaris, as well as the duel between Kobra and Jason Burr!


The issue picks up where the last one left off, with Kobra and Jason falling to their doom over Montville....with Jason Burr being saved by NYPD Lt. Ricardo Perez.  But, Jason has to wonder....why he didn't die if he and Kobra are linked?  Perez calls to tell him they didn't find a body, and Jason and his girlfriend, Melissa they are surprised by Kobra!  Kobra came by to recruit Jason for help against which Jason reluctantly agrees.  

Readers also find our that Kobra and Melissa had a past, and she had thought him dead as well (though Jason doesn't directly find out of this).  At Kobra's Ark, Jason finds out of Kobra's research into Siamese twins, and how he is working to break their link as they arrive over Solaris' base, and begin their attack.  While the Cobra Cult keeps Solaris and his forces busy, Kobra and Jason break into Solaris' base, and Jason finds out about Natalie Crawford-Thomas (a young woman who Kobra fell for as he recovered in an English hospital when he was 18).  The pair fell in love (she was a notorious jewel thief), and their relationship ended when the police killed her during one of her robberies.  This inspired Kobra to return to his cult and turn them against the law (oh, and by the way, Natalie was a dead ringer for Melissa, other than hair color!)

Meanwhile, ex-NASA astro-physicist Clifton Lacey (the man now known as Solaris) was preparing to save the Heliotron (and waxing on about how he was fired from NASA by small minds who could not appreciate his genius).  Kobra and Jason take different routes to Solaris' main lair, and after Kobra kills Solaris, he tries to take the Heliotron.  Jason tries to stop him with the government super suit he mysteriously got to keep, but Lt. Perez shows up and destroys the Heliotron instead (Perez seemed to have a tracker in the suit). 

Kobra then explains he only wanted the Heliotron to help break the link between himself and Jason, and storms off.  Jason, frustrated, returns the suit to Perez, disgusted with him and suddenly seeing some nobility in his brother.

Though there was a next issue blurb in the issue, the letter's page proclaimed this the last issue of Kobra

Brother's Keeper -- Brother's Killer

A Joe Kubert cover for Kobra #4 (August-September, 1976, and #1 was supposed to have had a Kubert cover, but didn't) showed Kobra (and his comic) was still alive, with story by Martin Pasko, Pat Gabriele and Lowell Anderson, and a new scheme (and art team) for Kobra!

This time, Kobra is directing his cult to find ancient alien tech, when an Ovoid falls from the sky on them.  Previously, the Ovoid gave Kobra a Servitor (a giant robot) and this one did the same, but also had an alien Illandus (creators of the Servitors and Ovoids), which had two heads (though was evolving "up" to split into two beings).   In subduing the Servitor, Kobra was injured, the feelings of which where shared with his brother, Jason, who had to leave his Columbia business class because of the pain.  Jason was followed by Melissa, but Jason is still upset about the unknown past Melissa and Kobra seemed to have shared.  

Kobra takes the alien to his Manhattan base, as Jason returns to his college dorm....where Jason encounters an intruder in a turbin....which Jason quickly attacks and is thrown by.  The intruder is Randu Singh, a United Nations delegate from India, who was trying to convince the U.N. to help him and his country against Kobra (but they would take no action).  Instead, Randu looked to Jason for help (instead of his usual friend, Jason Blood and his demon, Etrigan...though this link is never mentioned in the Kobra title).  Back at Kobra's HQ, the alien explains that it is here to retrieve the Ovoid that Kobra got (which has now produced another Servitor as well).  The alien wants to collect it and go before "I/We" undergoes "the division" (splitting from his current form into two beings....which Kobra desperately wants to study in his lab).  

Meanwhile, Randu uses his extra sight (gained via "the Eye of Kharma"), to see that they need to go to the local airport.  At the airport, Lt. Perez is trying to head home to Lima, Peru, when his plane is attacked by Kobra's forces and the two Serivtors, with Kobra first blinding Perez with his venom, then having a Servitor crush him (to death!).  While on the way to the airport, Randu asked Jason is he is ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to stop they arrive and Jason confronts Kobra and his Servitors.  The alien, realizing Kobra had duped him, uses "his/their" power to encircle Kobra and Jason in flames, so they can battle privately, at least until the alien takes off with the Ovoid and the Servitors....infuriating Kobra to leave himself, leaving Jason and Randu with the broken airport and deceased Lt. Perez.

Not the best of ending points, but an interesting place to take a break, as now, it is established Kobra and his schemes are a part of the DC Universe, which later issues (and Kobra appearances) would expand upon!

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Happy World Photography Day 2020

Usually, Peter Parker would be the first to celebrate World Photography Day.  After all, he's made plenty of money photographing his alter-ego, Spider-Man, for Daily Bugle.

But, this time, the tables have turned....and Peter is caught in a precarious position, and he's not so happy with a shown on this rare photo cover for Amazing Spider-Man #262 (March, 1985...cover photo by Eliot R. Brown, with Scott Leva as Spider-Man).


Trade Secret

In the story by Bob Layton,  sleazy photographer D. J. Jones gets the shot of a lifetime, catching Peter Parker in mid-change at the airport.  Spider-Man, in trying to hunt him down (as D.J. tries to sell the picture), realizes he still has a responsibility to help Jones...and does.  

Spidey does save his secret identity, by using the power of fear (and some acting) to convince Jones to give up the film.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Happy Vinyl Record Day 2020

Happy Vinyl Record Day today!

Here's hoping you treat your classics a little better than Debbi Anderson's boyfriend, Buddy Baxter did, when he fixed her phonograph, here on the cover to Date With Debbi #13 (January-February, 1971) by Stan Goldberg and Henry Scarpelli.

This, from a time when DC tried to get in on a little of Archie Comics action; with light humor comics based around teenage adventures.

Date With Debbi lasted 18 issues, from January-February 1969 to October-November 1972!


Saturday, August 8, 2020

Batman Vs The Atomic Man

Back in the 1950s, everything was a "menace", and flourished on "atomic" power...

...and, the Batman comics of the time reflected society's thoughts, but none moreso than an early 1960s issue of Detective Comics, wherein Batman faced the Atomic-Man!

The Menace Of The Atomic Man

In Detective Comics #280 (June, 1960 with no identified writer, but art by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris, and cover by Moldoff), The story begins with the Atomic-Man taking out the float business of Henry Hayes, who calls in Batman and Robin to help save him.  

Batman, using the distinct features of Atomic-Man's ears, places him as Paul Strobe, an engineer Batman put in jail seven years ago as he defrauded Hayes, and his partners Barker and Jenkins.  Strobe vowed revenge, and invented his atomic goggles which allowed him to transmute items by staring at them (but his goggles only worked for two hours before needing recharging).

With this knowledge, Batman and Robin went to protect Barker's business (now a shipping mogul).  Sadly, that did not go well, with Batman having to make a daring escape from the now floating ship (that Atomic-Man had made lighter than air).  

Still, trying again, Batman and Robin confronted Atomic-Man as he attempted to destroy the art of Jenkins, moving up Atomic-Man's timetable, turning Batman's cowl to glass to expose his identity.  Batman still stopped the Atomic-Man, and removed his helmet once its two hours of power was up.  Feeling he at least revealed Batman's identity, Batman corrected him, as Batman said he had seen Strobe turn other things to glass, so was wearing make up to hide his own identity!

Usual story for that era of Batman
(filled with invasions and transformations, but, amazingly, Atomic-Man didn't make another regular comic appearance (unlike many of these obscure Batman villains, who at least made it to Batman's Lego Movie, though he did make it into Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon, in "A Bat Divided!").

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Kobra One Plus One

As Jack Kirby left DC in the 1970s, he left them a little present with an inventory story (co-plotted by Steve Sherman)....which was modified by writer Marty Pasko (who put in his own words over Kirby's) and some art changes in the first issue by artist Pablo Marcos...that of Kobra (originally planned to be King Kobra, but don't want to put on airs!).

Here's a look at the first two issues of the Kobra series....

Fangs Of The Kobra

The saga begins in Kobra #1 (February-March, 1976, with cover by Ernie Chan, story by Pasko, plot and pencils by Kirby with Sherman plot assist, inks by D. Bruce Berry, and modifications and additional inks by Marcos), with hitman Horst Buchner and associates descending into the lair of the Cobra Cult in the bowels of Manhattan, where they meet the cult leader, Kobra, where Kobra shows his wares, such as a shrunken Mastodon from Atlantis and a giant alien robot Servitor....which he uses to kill Buchner and his men for their treachery. 

Instead of using Horst to kill Jason Burr, Kobra sends the Servitor after him.  Meanwhile, at the college cafeteria, Lt. Perez of a special NYPD task force is talking to 23 year old Jason Burr, informing Burr that he needs his the Servitor attacks Burr,  but the pain his crushing grip causes Jason makes Kobra stop the attack (which, along with a shot from Perez) causes the robot to self-destruct. 

Lt. Perez continues his plea with Jason...informing him that Kobra is Jason's twin brother (taken from the hospital where they born in New Delhi by the Cobra Cult, destined to become their leader). 

The Cult trained unnamed Burr over the years (with injuries gotten by one shared by the other via a sympathetic bond between the two which had them sharing feelings).    Kobra, now realizing he cannot kill Jason, plans to put him in an isolation room, as Jason forces a meeting between the two by burning his own hand....and, at the meeting, Perez and his men try to kill Kobra.  Kobra escapes via his flying Kobra Ark, and Jason deals with his new life.

Code Name: Gemini

Kobra #2
(April-May, 1976) sports another Ernie Chan cover, with interiors by Martin Pasko, Chic Stone and Pablo Marcos.  The issue begins with a dream confrontation between Jason and Kobra, with Kobra killing Jason (and himself) in a mirrored combat room.  Awakening at Merrill Hall campus housing, Jason is comforted by his girlfriend, Melissa. 

Kobra awakens in his Ark, having had the same dream as Jason, and feels the comfort Melissa is giving Jason (with Kobra having ties to her and a look-a-like named Natalie whom he loved, who had died). 

But, Kobra's reflection ends as he must deal with Solaris, a villain trying to steal the Heliotron from a lab at the New York Fairgrounds.  The Cobra Cult fights Solaris' men as Kobra faces Solaris, with Solaris getting away with the Heliotron due to an incompetent Cobra Cult member.  Meanwhile, Jason fills in Melissa about recent events (all from the last issue) as Lt. Perez arrives to enlist Jason's help. 

Back at his Manhattan base, Kobra tortures his failing lackey in the isolation chamber.  Back at Jason's dorm, Perez apologizes for the attempt to kill Kobra, and explains that Kobra is after Solaris' Heliotron (Solaris having been a NASA engineer who created the Heliotron, a solar based devise that could advance age in a person). 

Solaris plans on using it to blackmail New York, threatening to unleash the device on Long Island, but Perez asks Jason to help, even giving him a super suit to help (though Jason doesn't take to the code name of Gemini).  As Solaris and Kobra battle in the skies over Long Island, Perez bring Jason to lure Kobra out of his Ark, which he does by going out in his flying super suit....right towards the beam of the Heliotron beam....which Kobra must save Jason from.  Kobra comes out of the ship to save Jason, but the beam strikes Jason's jet pack, and the two plummet to the ground....

....a heck of cliffhanger to end on, but perhaps there will be more Kobra "Koverage" coming in the future, as this seven issue series from Conway's Corner (having had a first issue planned to be in First Issue Special three times, but instead got its own title).

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Celebrate International Beer Day With The Thing

Hoist a cold one, not unlike the Thing, as today is International Beer Day!

Here, in Marvel Two-In-One #86 (April, 1982; by Tom DeFalco, Ron Wilson and Chic Stone), instead of fighting, the Thing and Sandman discuss the mistakes Sandman had in his life that led to his being a super-villain....all over a cold one at the local pub.

It's not all fights, as people can sit down and hash one out over a beer!