Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Remembering JoAnna Cameron

Remembering actress JoAnna Cameron (September 20, 1951 - October 15, 2021), with a quick look back at her career, including the series she is most remembered for, the Mighty Isis, a super hero created for the TV, but ended up as a part of the DC TV line, along with Shazam, Welcome Back Kotter and the Super Friends.

JoAnna portrayed the lead character of the Mighty Isis from September 6, 1975 to September 3, 1977 for 22 episodes (along with guest starring with Captain Marvel in 3 episodes of Shazam, as he guested in 3 of her episodes), as young schoolteacher Andrea Thomas, who found an ancient amulet on a dig in Egypt, giving her the powers of the Egyptian god, including strength, speed, connection to animals and elemental powers (mostly over the winds).  

Later, when the series went into syndication in 1978, it was retitled the Secrets Of Isis, as Andrea assisted fellow teacher Rick Mason (Brian Cutler) and student Cindy Lee (Joanna Pang).

DC capitalized on the success of the Saturday morning show, by introducing the character in Shazam #25 (September-October, 1976), by Denny O'Neil and Dick Giordano, then spinning the character off into her own series, which lasted 8 issues, with a first issue by Denny O'Neil, Ric Estrada and Wally Wood, and later issues by Steve Skeates, Jack C. Harris, Mike Vosberg, Jose Delbo and Mike Netzer.    

Issue #1 and #2 (1976)  Covers by Kurt Schaffenberger and Mike Vosburg/Jack Abel


Issue #3 and #4 (1977) Covers by Mike Vosburg with Vince Colletta and Dick Giordano


Issue #5 and #6 (1977) Covers by Mike Vosburg with Vince Colletta


Issue #7 and #8 (1977) Covers by Rich Buckler and Vince Colletta 


Due to the character being owned by Filmation, DC has come up with its own Egyptian goddess, with the alter ego of Adrianna Tomaz, tied to Black Adam more than Captain Marvel, appearing in series like 52, Titans and the Justice Society of America.


JoAnna got her first movie role with help from Linda Hope, daughter of Bob Hope, in How To Commit Marriage, with Bob Hope, Jane Wyman and Tim Matheson in 1969.  Later, she had roles in multiple TV shows, including Spider-Man (The Deadly Dust) and Columbo (Negative Reaction), with her last TV movie being Swan Song in 1980.

JoAnna's portrayal of a female hero predates Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman, Lindsay Wagner's Bionic Woman and Lucy Lawless' Xena, as well as reflected in Tala Ashe's Zari Tomaz/Tarazi on Legends of Tomorrow, paving the way for generations of female heroes to come. 

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Creature Commandos Tales Two By Two 1

What happens when you take a vampire, a werewolf and a reanimated man, force them to live and work together, and see what type of friendships develop as they get real?

Who knows?

This isn't a reality show, this is World War II, with a battle hardened Lieutenant gathering together 3 men, who have been scientifically altered into horror architypes, who will fight evil as....

....The Creature Commandos!

Here is a look at their first two adventures!

The Creature Commandos

The adventures begin in Weird War Tales #93 (November, 1980) by J. M. DeMatteis, Pat Broderick and John Celardo, all under a cover by veteran war artist, Joe Kubert.

Starting at a secret briefing, with Lt. Matthew Shrieve of U.S. Army Intelligence, as he addresses an audience of distinguished generals, admirals and senators...

...about the dark realm, and things which influence men on a basic level....monsters!  Using Project M (for Monster), scientists were able to take three military men...Warren Griffith, a 4F Oklahoma farmboy who thought he could turn into a wolf, which they induced a real transformation into a werewolf (though it is unstable in duration)....Sgt. Vincent Velcro who volunteered to avoid a thirty year prison sentence, being injected with the blood of a rare Mexican bat to get his vampiric powers, and marine Private "Lucky" Taylor, who was blown to bits in a battle on a Pacific island, only to be put back together as an enormous creature, reanimated to life, but without a voice to express his gentle soul.  These three then surprised the room, with a general declaring them the worst monsters he's ever seen, and to sent them to battle the Nazis immediately. 

The crew ended up in France, storming Castle Conquest, where the Nazis had been building robots to replace the world leaders.  Shrieve set explosives to destroy the base, which would have gone off if the Creature Commandos had gotten out or not, proving the Lieutenant to be the most heartless monster of them all.

The Faceless Enemy

The monster squad and their leader return in Weird War Tales #97 (March, 1981), under a cover by Ross Andru and Romeo Tanghal, with story by J. M DeMatteis and Fred Carrillo.

This time around, the team was sent to retrieve a Doctor Frederique from the Nazis in a storm covered area of occupied France.  

Velcro complained as he took the orders, while Taylor silently went into battle, following the changed Griffith.  The team freed the doctor from the Nazis, finding the doctor to be a she!  Shrieve got to know her, with Frederique worrying about seeing people as people, even the Nazi monsters, as the troop headed for what they thought was safety (facing a few menaces along the way), but as they arrived, the doctor revealed herself as a plant, with this whole mission being a trap to catch the Creature Commandos.  

The lady wasn't a doctor, but she died saving the Lieutenant as one of the faceless masses, as the other three decimated the Nazi forces.  When it was over, when asked if they should bury her, as Shrieve seemed to be growing close to her, he declined, as she was only the enemy.

The creatures survived these battles, but more were to be had....and, with luck, to be covered here soon!

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Writing In The Chamber Of Chills

Working hard on more Halloween scary stuff, just like the skeleton in this Lee Elias cover for Chamber of Chills #21 (January, 1954).

While working, take a look at a few horror covers from this title run which lasted 26 issues from June 1951 to December 1954 by Lee Elias, featuring tales of terror and suspense!


Chamber of Chills #5 and #6


Chamber of Chills #8 and #11


Chamber of Chills #14 and #15


Chamber of Chills #16 and #17


Chamber of Chills #24 and #25


Chamber of Chills #4 and #10


Saturday, October 16, 2021

Almost Frankenstein - The Patchwork Man

The Patchwork Man premiered early in the original Swamp Thing series, ended up with a special issue of House Of Secrets, then ended his life with an issue of Swamp Thing.

Let's see how this monster that resembled Frankenstein's was put together....

Early Swamp Things

The Patchwork Man first appeared in Swamp Thing #2 (December-January, 1972/1973) by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson.  He was one of the Un-Men, a group of genetic creations by scientist Anton Arcane.  In Swamp Thing #3 (February-March, 1973), it was revealed that he was Gregori Arcane, the brother of Anton and father of Abby, whom Anton rebuild after Gregori stepped on a landmine.  Gregori had limited memory of his previous life, but he recognized Abby, and worked with the Swamp Thing to save her....though he had a serious, nearly life ending fall.

Reprise: The Patchwork Man

The Patchwork Man returned in House Of Secrets #140 (February-March, 1976) by Gerry Conway and Nestor Redondo (with cover by Ernie Chan), having somehow gotten to New York, and attacking saleswomen and security in a department store.  He was shot in the head, and taken to police headquarters, where Doctor Elijah Chomes of the Mount Good Hope Institute took custody of him (after subduing the creature when it again tried to break loose).  

Discussing the mental state of the monster in front of lab assistants Andy Harty and Darleen Greer, the Patchwork Man flashbacks on how he was Gregori Arcane, doting on his daughter Abby, though the government was going to take her away due to his long sales trips.  

Anton vowed to help his brother, but the government came when Gregori was away.  Going through a section of European forest he usually didn't, Gregori stepped on an old German landmine.  Anton found his brother, and rebuild him into the Patchwork Man.  Gregori remembered, vaguely, his time fighting with Swamp Thing, his fall....but nothing after.  Chomes said one of his European allies found the monster wandering by a river, captured and shipped him to New York, where it got loose and ended up in the department store.  Chomes states how the creature is like a newborn babe, which makes Darleen dizzy, so he asked Harty to take her home.  

The Doctor continues to experiment on the Patchwork Man, trying to determine the depth of his regenerative abilities, but the creature breaks loose, ending up on the New York street, and befriended by a cabbie, who takes him away from the lab.  Andy and Dareen discuss her fainting incident, with Dr. Greer saying she's pregnant, but is debating having an abortion (a moral dilemma for her, as a doctor she wants to save life, but if she has a baby, she will lose her career).

This would have continued in House of Secrets #141, but the series took a hiatus, and when it came back, the next Patchwork Man story didn't appear.  It was finished, and was published in a European magazine, and only recently here in the states, in the House of Secrets Omnibus Volume 2.

End Of The Patchwork Man

The Patchwork Man didn't come back until Swamp Thing #59 (April, 1987) by Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch and Alfredo Alcala (with cover by John Tolteben and Bill Sienkiewicz), where Abby met back up with her father, who had been falling apart (with memories of how he read her her favorite story when she was young...Shelley's Frankenstein!).   While Abby found him in the swamp while looking for a missing Swamp Thing, Gregori didn't want her to see him, and was torn apart by the hail.  Abby found his body, but not his head....

...Gregori and Anton later appeared as the Swamp Thing travelled back in time to the World Wars, but the Patchwork Man was done.

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Happy Hockey Horror Season

With the official start of hockey season, as well as being hip deep in the Halloween season, it seemed the perfect time to highlight this nice Nick Cardy cover to House of Secrets #114 (December, 1973)....with a little horror at the ice rink!

Saturday, October 9, 2021

Frankenstein Adaptation?

The Universal Monsters saw a bit of an upswing in the 1960s, and Dell was already to cash in on that, with a Frankenstein comic book.

But, Frankenstein #1 (March-May, 1963) wasn't exactly all that it was suppose to be, even though it did sport a painted cover by Vic Prezio, and interior story and art by Don Segall and Bob Jenney.

In this story, Dr. Frankenstein created the monster (with an abnormal brain supplied by Fritz, the hunchback), but he later got control of the monster, and fled Europe, taking the monster, whom the doctor had some hypnotic control of to New York, where the monster got loose and was blamed for a fire started by some careless dock workers....

Of course, this was Shakespeare (or at least Shelley) compared to the second through fourth issues of Frankenstein by Dell.

Issue 2 came out in September, 1966, by D. J. Arneson and Tony Tallarico, and now he wasn't a monster, but a super hero!

The monster was created in an old castle in America in the 19th century, and, after 100 years, a city grew around it.  The creature awoke during a lightning storm, and, finding a human mask (to hide his green skin) went out, taking the name "Frank Stone".  He promptly found a billionaire, who died and left him a fortune.  So, Frank then decided to put his great strength to use, becoming a super hero, with his true identity only known by his butler, William, but suspected by his girl friend, Ann Thorpe.

This continued in his third issue from December, 1966, where he fought an evil duplicate of himself, and the fourth from March, 1967, where he faced the return of a nemesis from the second issue, the diminutive Dr. Freek, who had an assistant of his own, the brutish gorilla Bruto.

Oh, what brave heroes this Dell world must have!

Of course, two other heroes in this were Dracula and the Werewolf, who had equally short comic runs, but more on them later (maybe...or not).

Thursday, October 7, 2021

Golden Age Flash Solo In The Bronze Age

Jay Garrick had 104 issues of Flash Comics, 32 issues of All-Flash and over 2 dozen issues of Comic
Cavalcade where he was the lead, but for the Silver and Bronze Age, he was always part of a team, either with the JSA or working with Barry Allen's Flash....except for one special story by Robert Kanigher and Murphy Anderson in Flash #201 (November, 1970).

Let's take a quick look at it!

Finale For A Fiddler!

Jay has to go into action as the Flash to face the Turtle Man, but the fastest man alive is starting to show his age....but his wife Joan, while helping, also wants to get to a rock concert the next day.

Shame Jay's old foe, the Fiddler has his sights set on causing trouble there, but, even though he isn't as fast as he used to be, Flash stops the Fiddler!

Flash (Jay) appears next in JLA #91, Joan next in Flash #215, Fiddler next in All-Star Comics #63 with the ISW, and Turtle Man doesn't appear again until after the Crisis On Infinite Earths, where he teams up with Barry's version of the Turtle to face Wally West as the Flash!

Turtle Man only had 3 Golden Age appearances, All-Flash #21, Comic Cavalcade #24 and Flash Comics #102...but he didn't make the cover of any of them!

This Bronze Age Flash story was reprinted in the Justice Society of America 100 Page Super Spectacular 1, 1975 issue (of July, 2000).

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Abbott And Costello Meet Frankenstein Animated

Hey Abbott!  Did you know that Abbott & Costello had a Hanna Barbara animated series in 1967/1968?

Did you know that let to a Charlton comic book based on that series that lasted 22 issues?

Join along with Frankenstein's Monster, and learn a few facts.

The comic series started in February, 1968, with stories by Steve Skeates and Henry Scarpelli....




..all with light humor, and adventures of Bud and Lou...



...ending with stories by Joe Gill and Frank Johnson (and covers by Tony Tallarico) in August, 1971.



Now, the series didn't always feature Frankenstein's Monster like their famous 1948 movie, but there were a few other scares that have echoes of Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein, and is something fans of the comedy duo look for!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Supergirl Revealed

Once, Supergirl (Kara Zor-El), after arriving on Earth from Argo City, was kept secret from the world by her cousin, Superman.  

Superman put her in an orphanage as Linda Lee, and she later adopted by the Danvers, becoming Linda Danvers.

But, that all changed this day, according to the old DC calendar, today was the day Superman revealed her existence to the world in Action Comics #285 (February, 1962, under a cover by Curt Swan and George Klein), with a story by Jerry Siegel and Jim Mooney.

Supergirl first appeared back in Action Comics #252 (May, 1959), reprinted in Secret Origins #2 (April-May, 1973), and this issue, plus a few that led up to it were collected in a giant Action Comics #360 (March-April, 1968) (and follow the links to read more on them!).

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Warlord Two By Two: The Third

Air Force Pilot, Travis Morgan, known as the Warlord, was on a quest to find Tara, the first woman he met in the eternal sun of Skartaris, to save her from the evil sorceror,  Deimos.

Here....the results of his long quest finally come to fruition. 

Duel Of The Titans

Mike Grell gives a great summary cover for Warlord #4 (December-January, 1976/1977), as it shows what awaits you inside the issue he wrote and drew, as the continuing adventures of modern man Morgan in the ancient land of Skartaris are unfolding.

Deimos has plans for the captive Tara, just as the Warlord and his army arrive.  Using his advanced knowledge, Travis Morgan has equipped his army with weapons to allow them to breach the walls of Deimos' castle, but, unbeknownst to Travis, Deimos has weapons of his own he can bring to the conflict.  Deimos uses one of his Scrolls of Blood to appear to summon a demon.  Travis takes out the altar of the device that brought up the demon, then uses a satchel of high explosives to take down a door of the castle, allowing his army in.  

As Deimos prepares to flee out a secret exit with Tara, Travis finds them.  Morgan's savage side comes out, as he defeats and kills Deimos.  Happy to reunite with Tara, he doesn't look at the book Deimos had had, as the Scrolls of Blood were an operating manual for a solid light hologram projector.

Thus, the mystery of Skartaris deepens....

The Secret Of Skartaris

Warlord #5 (February-March, 1977) by Mike Grell, sees Machiste part ways with Travis and Tara, as he heads back to his home of Kiro, while they head to hers, Shamballah.  

Of course, in Skartaris, one should always expect the unexpected....

Unfortunately, Travis' party encounters a feasting dinosaur, with Travis and Tara uncovering an ancient doorway as they dispatch the dinosaur.  Inside that doorway, they find an ancient computer, that Travis activates, finding out that Skartaris had been found by ancient Atlantians who came here after their island sank.  The Atlanteans set up a great computer core in Skartaris, but factions fought each other, unleashing radiation, which left their cities in ruins, with some men devolving backwards into lizard men and ape men.  

The computer even showed a recent activation, with Deimos using it to conjure a solid holographic demon.  Travis thinks Deimos could have used technology to rule Skartaris, while Tara reminds him sorcery is real.  The pair are about to check out another door, as they are set upon by hungry hyenas.  In the act of dispatching them, Travis goes through the door he was interested in, finding a monorail car.  Tara is apprehensive as Travis wants to check it out.  Turns out she was right, as Travis accidentally seals himself in it, separating himself from Tara, knocking himself out, and launching the car.  When Travis awakes, the car has stopped at its a jungle on the topside of Earth!

These issues show a reoccurring them of the much as Travis does love and search for Tara, his questioning nature, natural curiosity and savage tendencies can keep them separate as well!  It was this way when they first met, and drives him when he searches for her (though the leaves her when he finds her!).