Thursday, December 31, 2020

Goodbye 2020

Well, 2020 has been a rough and tumble year.  Don't think that Tom DeFalco, Herb Trimpe or Barry Windsor-Smith had any idea what this year was going to be like when they created Iron Man 2020 for the Machine Man #2 (November, 1984) limited series, set in an alternate future of 2020, with a mercenary Arno Stark taking up the Iron Man armor.


This evil version of Iron Man continued onward, appearing in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #20 (November, 1986), as well as a stand alone story for an Iron Man 2020 in June, 1994 withe these  (and a recent crossover event this year as well), and all the appearances of Iron Man 2020 were collected in a tradepaperback in 2013 (with the modified Amazing Spider-Man Annual cover).

No disrespect to any of the creators of these series, but we are all happy to put 2020 in the rear view mirror.


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Crisis Endings For Superman Batman And The Flash

As the DC Universe was changing due to the Crisis On Infinite Earths, there were long published titles that were ending.

Two of the longer running ending titles were the Flash and World's Finest Comics.

Each were there for the beginnings of DC's Silver Age, but had run their course....

World's Finest Comics

Superman and Batman had started teaming up with Superman #76 (May-June, 1952), but began regular team-ups with World's Finest Comics #71 (July-August, 1954), with these issues being some of the earliest tales of what would be called Earth-1, with the friendship of Superman and Batman being a foundation of that world, even before the existence of the Justice League of America, or the existence of a hero which started the Silver Age.  


Batman and Superman experienced a split, leading to Batman forming the Outsiders, and though they patched things up, the title came to an end with World's Finest Comics #323 (January, 1986) as the Crisis On Infinite Earths was on its 10th issue.

The Flash

Barry Allen, and his premier as The Flash happened in Showcase #4 (September-October, 1956, around the same time as World's Finest Comics #84), and ushered in DC's Silver Age, with Flash soon getting his own title, picking up from the Golden Age Flash with Flash #105 (February-March, 1959), soon after helping to form the Justice League of America along with Superman and Batman (and a few others), and even having a hand in finding the multiple Earths with the Golden Age Flash.

Barry Allen ran his last race in his own title with Flash #350 (October, 1985), ending his solo run and giving Flash a bit of a vacation, with what was suppose to be the final fate of Barry Allen unfolding then in the pages of the Crisis On Infinite Earths.



But, as with all things, endings can be new beginnings, as is always the case in comics, as Superman and Batman had their relationship redefined (first in Man of Steel #3 of November, 1986) and the former Kid Flash took over the mantle of the Flash, and, after a few adventures with other Legends (including Superman, Batman and the Suicide Squad), picked up his own title, Flash #1 (June, 1987)...proving "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end"!


Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas With Dennis The Menace

May you have yourself a Merry Christmas, and find everything you want under your Christmas tree..

 ..not unlike Dennis the Menace on this Christmas cover from Dennis The Menace Giant #61 (Winter, 1968) from Fawcett Comics.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Skeletal Santa Claus

A slightly scary Santa Claus, a little thinner than normal... the highlight of this issue (and cover by Nick Cardy) of Witching Hour #28 (February, 1973).

Horror hostess Cynthia gives readers the tale of why you should "Never Kill Santa Claus" with art by Gerry Talaoc.

It appears that mall owner Mr. Cranston tries to make off with the holiday cash, and kills their poor old lovable Santa, Micah, right before the holiday, as he sees what the man was doing. Another Santa shows up, turning the tables on Mr. Cranston, sending him to a place that will give him much worse than coal in his stocking.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Merry Christmas From Mighty Samson

A Merry Christmas from a post apocalyptic future N'Yark, as the half blind Mighty Samson fights for his life on a reindeer float, versus a menace on a Santa Claus float (and a mutant bat), on this Gold Key classic from Mighty Samson #30 (December, 1975) cover by George Wilson, and story by Arnold Drake and Jack Abel!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Sabrina's Christmas Shopping Magic

There are a few advantages to being a teenage witch, as Sabrina shows her Aunt Hilda how it makes shopping for Christmas a little easier, on this cover to Archie Giant Series Magazine #491 (January, 1980) by Dan DeCarlo and Rudy Lapick.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Blue Devil Creation


Dan Cassidy was a stuntman, working with a super suit of his creation...but, how did this working man in Hollywood turn himself into the Blue Devil?

Here is that story, with a few facts on his creation, as well as those who created the comic, as we take a look at that wonder of the 1980s in conjunction with the Super-Blog Team-Up, as a member of the Creator team (all will be explained as you read dive on in!).

Blue Devil Preview

Beginning with the beginning... Blue Devil premiered in a special preview insert within the pages of Fury Of Firestorm #24 (June, 1984) by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Paris Cullins and Pablo Marcos.


Here readers learn of the "super stunt suit" Dan Cassidy created, with special servo-motors that give him the strength of over 20 men, enhance his natural agility, make him nearly indestructible, along with other stuff like infrared vision, blinding flares, voice modulator, radio controlled rocket trident!  An interesting build just for a movie, thrilling young Gopher (Eddie Bloomberg, nephew of movie producer, Marla Bloom), and enticing Flash villain, the Trickster, to want to steal it.  

As Marla arrives to deal with the leak of info on the suit, she tries to get Dan to put the suit on to do promotional pictures for the upcoming movie....yet, Dan is too busy to do it, so they get actor Wayne Tarrant to put on the non-powered mock-up suit to do promotional pictures with the lead actress, Sharon Scott (with Sharon having a thing for Dan, yet Wayne having a thing for Sharon).  While taking the pictures on the backlot of Vernor Brothers Studios, rival studio stuntman James Jesse arrives....and breaks in as the Trickster so he can steal the suit.  

The Trickster makes off with Wayne in the Blue Devil suit, eventually becoming aware that he has the wrong Blue Devil, as Gopher gets Dan to suit up and play the hero.  Blue Devil runs through his various built in abilities (making Trickster want the suit more) before BD beats the Trickster enough so that he takes off, with Dan thinking the suit needs improvement after this unintentional field test.

All this gets readers introduced to the Blue Devil and his cast (including cameraman Norm Paxton), getting you ready for the debut of the Blue Devil magazine, thinking you know how things will go, but, this is Hollywood, so there is always a twist!

How To Trap A Devil

Now, onto Blue Devil #1 (June, 1984) by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Paris Cullins and Pablo Marcos, with the Blue Devil movie in production at an island location, with Dan in the suit filming a scene of the Blue Devil.  

Special effects wizard Dan Cassidy is an impressive figure as Blue Devil, but is insecure, as stars Wayne Tarrant and Sharon Scott are not on the set....having wandered off on the island to some ruins, where Sharon finds the key to unlock a dimensional portal, freeing the demon, Nebiros.  Nebiros was happy to be released, and planned to "thank" Sharon.  Wayne and Sharon flee back to the set, where Nebiros tangles with folks on the set, as Sharon is looking for Dan to protect her.  

Marla convinces Dan he can do it using the Blue Devil suit, and Nebiros and Blue Devil tussle for a while, as Norm films the battle.  Nebiros thinks of Blue Devil as one of his demon brothers, as Gopher thinks of Dan as a hero, all while Dan battles to stay alive.  

During their battle, Nebiros hits Dan with a blast of mystic energy, nearly killing him (and Nebiros is shocked that Blue Devil returns after getting hit with that blast), as Blue Devil and the crew force Nebiros back through the portal, closing it off.  Marla adapts, planning to use the footage filmed turning Blue Devil from villain to hero of the movie (fighting Nebiros), as Gopher encourages Dan to become a real super-hero.  Dan is considering Gopher's idea....when he discovers the results of Nebiros' mystic blast...that he is now truly Blue Devil, having had his super suit fused with his own body!

This was the beginning of the adventures of the "weirdness magnet" that was Blue odd combination of science and sorcery (with a dash of whimsy) that lasted 31 issues and one Annual (along with a Crisis crossover; meetings with Zatanna, Etrigan, Man-Bat, Madame Xanadu, Phantom Stranger; a Fury of Firestorm crossover and an appearance in DC Comics Presents with Superman).

Blue Devil's creators were:

Gary Cohn

The man who had the initial idea of the Blue Devil, when approached by editor Dave Manak to create something for Steve Ditko, and came up with idea of a hero that combined the suit of Iron Man, tragic story of the Thing, fun of Spider-Man, with Green Goblin look.  Gary also co-created Amethyst Princess of Gemworld, as well as worked on issues of House of Mystery and DC Comics Presents with his Blue Devil co-creator, as well as writing and creating the Barren Earth series as a Warlord back-up (and mini-series).  Gary has recently retired from teaching.

Dan Mishkin

The other half of the writing team for Blue Devil, Dan brought the name to the character (as his wife was from North Carolina), and also co-created Amethyst Princess of Gemworld, as Dan and Gary had worked mostly as a writing team for DC Comics.  Dan did have a run on Wonder Woman as a solo writer at the same time as Blue Devil was going on as a series, and more recently has been keeping busy with the idea that "Kids Read Comics", conventions and thoughts that try to keep comics for kids alive.

Paris Cullins

While Gary had come up with the basic costume design, Paris added the belt and dynamic personality to the Blue Devil, as well coming up with the name of the letter column, Circuits & Sorcery.  Having worked on a few issues of Green Lantern and House of Mystery before, Paris was only able to draw the first six issues, later working on the earliest issues of DC's Blue Beetle and New Gods, and then Clive Barker's Hyperkind for Marvel, and being a publisher for Maximum Overdrive Media.

(Thanks to Dan Johnson for his Pro2Pro interview with Dan and Gary from Twomorrow's Back Issue #21 of March, 2007 for the Blue Devil creation facts). 

Continuing with the creation theme, the many other creators of the Super-Blog Team-Up have come up with their own various looks at creators and here is where to find what they have done on the red group of SBTU!

Super-Blog Team-Up 

But, wait, there's more!

Some additional work by more SBTU folks, good as gold, as they look at possible other scenarios with a series of "What If" themed work!

Blue Devil has found new life on screen, appearing in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, and much more recently, in live action, played by Ian Ziering in the Swamp Thing TV series as well as multiple castings in plastic as action figures, hopefully preparing viewers for the day when a Blue Devil movie won't be a "What If".

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Batman Meets Superboy?

Ever have one of those days, where you just feel out of time, not like yourself, as though you just lost years of your life, and are trying to catch up as quickly as you can?


Believe it or not, even Superman has those days....and, here is the story of a time when he had one of those days, and how his friend, Batman, had to work with Superman's younger self....Superboy!


You Can Take The Boy Out Of Smallville...

In this great little story by Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo in  Brave and the Bold #192 (November, 1982), it starts off like any issue of World's Finest Comics might, with Batman tracking down some criminals in Gotham who had committed a crime in Metropolis.  Batman calls for his friend Superman...but, a twist this time, as Superman arrives glowing....and changes into....Superboy?

Superboy quickly flies into action, taking out the thieves (with a little less concern for the surroundings than Superman might have had).  Batman, the master detective, identifies himself to his newly younger friend, and checks him out, to figure out he is indeed the younger Superman (confused as to why he is here, as is Superman, back at the Kent house, fifteen years earlier).  

Superman (and Superboy) try to time travel home...but neither have success. 

Batman, after advising the Teen of Steel to think more, and be less impulsive, takes him along to investigate why this happened.  A quick check of electronic sales records finds one person who sold electronic parts to power a time machine.  

After another criminal encounter (with the youth acting a little too quickly), Batman, trying to keep Superboy busy, sends him to look for possible headquarters (but, this backfires, as Superboy checks on the Kent farm, and sees his adoptive parents graves, a tragic life event that helped change a Superboy into a Superman).  

Distraught, Superboy returns to Batman demoralized, yet Batman encourages the young man to live up to their memory and soldier on, looking for lead-lined possible secret headquarters.  

Finding the base, Batman goes in, realizing his foe is I.Q.....Ira Quimby, a Hawkman  villain who has high intellect powered by the sun, who sent Superman into the past to prevent Superman's Kryptonian form from absorbing solar radiation from solar flares coming to the Earth (and increasing his intelligence even more)....but, miscarried a decimal point, sending Superman to Superboy's time (and, this time), time travel rules prevented one person from being in one time sending Superboy here.  

Superboy charges in to stop I.Q., but, as Batman feared, I.Q. was ready with a Kryptonite beam, but Superboy miraculously shruggs it off, going to stop the solar flare as Batman deals with I.Q.  After, Superboy returns, explaining he took advice from Batman, borrowing some lead shielding from the HQ to protect him from I.Q's Kryptonite.  The solar radiation he absorbed seemed to destroy the barrier preventing him from going home, and headed home (not to remember this adventure, likely due to Saturn Girl's Legion of Super-Heroes edict to prevent Superboy learning of his future from time travel), with Batman ready to explain to his pal, Superman, what had happened.

A joyous tale of friendship and an odd "first meeting" for the pair, though Superman and Batman would later find their relationship strained, as Batman quit the JLA to form the Outsiders (with Barr and Aparo showing how well Batman could train new heroes....after a little encouragement from his young partner, Robin, from when the Titans/Outsiders teamed-up).


Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Batman Back to World War II

Even though Batman had started his career before World War II, eventually, that got less and less reference in the comics, but, by the end of 1970s and start of the 1980s, tales of the past Golden Age Batman started to surface, as a few secret tales came to light, with Batman going into battle with some of World War II's greatest the Unknown Soldier and the Blackhawks!

The Secret That Saved A World

First up is Brave and the Bold #146 (January, 1979) by Bob Haney, Romeo Tanghal and Frank McLaughlin, all under a cover by Jim Aparo, with an unknown story of the Earth-2 Batman teaming up with the United States most mysterious spy, the Unknown Soldier during World War II.


Here, Batman had come across a murder while patrolling Gotham City...with clues from the victim's housekeeper and Bruce Wayne's friend, Bill Dysart, leading him to believe it was Nazis trying to get their hands on uranium.  

This led Batman to go to Washington, DC, where they confirmed his fears, that South American diplomat and businessman Paul Besserman was really Count Von Stauffen of Nazi Germany.  The government paired Batman with the Unknown Soldier (who had been aware of Von Stauffen trying to follow up on a German scientist who had fled the Nazis (but had been working on a project involving uranium).  To prevent the network of spies getting involved, Batman and the Unknown Soldier were the only two to follow up on this.  

Trailing Besserman as he was going to meet with Dysart, the heroes saw Besserman kill Dysart under the Lincoln Memorial, but the Count got away, going back to the San Pedro embassy to hide behind diplomatic immunity.  The duo wait outside the embassy, seeing someone being loaded into an ambulance, and thinking it Besserman, follow.  It was a trap, but they escape, heading the airport, where Besserman was headed, and had chartered a small plane to fly over the area.  

The Unknown Soldier replaces the pilot, and sees Besserman taking photos of secret American bases (diplomatic immunity won't work against treason), but a leaky oil valve ruins the Unknown Soldier's disguise, allowing Besserman to escape after the plane crashes.  Batman pursues Besserman, but also fails to catch him.  The heroes reunite, listening in to Besserman at the embassy, finding out that he will get the secret papers at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Observing him there, the Unknown Soldier stops him from getting the plans and foils an assassination attempt on members of Congress (by a bomb Besserman hid) on Memorial Day by disguising himself as President Roosevelt.  Batman and the Unknown Soldier take comfort in stopping this plan of Besserman, with the Unknown Soldier still waiting to catch him outside of the San Pedro embassy.   

While the Unknown Soldier usually applied his spycraft behind enemy lines in Europe...


...he did on rare occasions disguise himself to fight spies here in the United States of America during World War II as well.


Ice Station Alpha

Another of the Batman's Earth-2 war time team ups happened in Brave and the Bold #167 (October, 1980) by Marv Wolfman, Dave Cockrum and Dan Adkins, covered as was many B&B tales by Jim Aparo, with Batman working with the famed aviators of WWII, the Blackhawks, in a story set in September of 1944!

Again, Batman comes across nefarious Nazis stealing items in Gotham, while the Blackhawks liberate a Polish city from Nazi forces, searching for an agent, whom they find, frozen in the Sahara!  Commissioner Gordon summons Batman, to tell him that FDR ordered him to not pursuit the theft Batman broke up (but Batman is under no such restrictions).  Batman takes off in the Batplane to Washington, DC (leaving a flu stricken Dick Grayson behind to be cared for by Alfred Beagle), while the Blackhawks investigate finding Agent Carmichael was investigating Ice Station Alpha, a new Nazi secret doomsday weapon.  

In Washington, Bruce Wayne fails to find out anymore of the thefts, but Batman does by breaking into the file room, learning of Ice Station Alpha, and plans to attack the East Coast.  The Nazi device floods a pier in Gotham, sending Batman after the spies who looted the warehouse, as the Blackhawks also independently find clues as well, leading both sets of heroes towards the Nazi Ice Station Alpha base in the arctic circle.  

There, General Hauptmann plans to use the devices he stole from America to melt the polar ice cap and flood America!  Batman and the Blackhawks arrive, fighting off his outside forces as the General activates the device huridley against the advise of his main scientist, who he shoots.  Batman and the Blackhawks stop the forces at the base, but are not able to stop the device (but, due to the general's impatience, will explode on its own before it can work).  The Blackhawks and Batman fly the base explodes (with Batman planning on tracking down the remainder of their network in Gotham).

The Blackhawks were an international crew of pilots, led by their leader, Blackhawk, who fought the Nazis during World War II.  The Earth-2 Blackhawks were featured in Military Comics and in the Quality issues of Blackhawk, with the Earth-1 versions of the team started with Blackhawk #108 (January, 1957) when the team moved over to DC (with much later issues of Blackhawk detailing the Earth-1 adventures of Blackhawk during World War II).

The Earth-2 Batman did have one adventure with Sgt. Rock in B&B (but, that appearance implied that the first Batman/Sgt. Rock team-up also took place on Earth-2, which then was a problem for all the later team-ups of the two, which took place after World War, these will get some attention as a much later date).

Can you circle the problem with the first B&B being a tale of the Earth-2 Batman?  Here's an article that gives you a hint....

Batman, along with Robin, and a few of his JSA friends, also got to see a lot more World War II action, as members of the All-Star Squadron in the retroactive continuity title based in Earth-2's World War II (at least until the Crisis On Infinite Earths), and that Batman seems to be seeing action again in 2021!