Friday, January 29, 2021

Robin Hood In Brave And The Bold

Once, long ago, Robin Hood was but a simple man of Sherwood Forest, robbing from the rich to give to the poor, fighting for the honor of Maid Marion with his Merrie Men, against the forces of the establishment in the form of Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham.


Over at DC Comics, these stories ran in Brave and the Bold from issues #5 to #15  (April-May, 1956 to December-January 1957/1958), with writers Bill Finger and Bob Haney and artists Irv Novick, Joe Kubert, and mostly Russ Heath, and these tales highlighted Robin's sense of humor and his use of the cutting edge of technology of the time....that of the bow and arrow.

At the time, Robin Hood shared Brave and the Bold with a couple of other characters, that of Jon the Viking Prince and the Silent Knight, both of whom had started in the first issue of Brave and the Bold, along with the Golden Gladiator (and the Viking Prince and Silent Knight both continued in tales of heroic adventure in issues after the Robin Hood feature ended).

Some of these tales were reprinted in issues of DC Special, along with tales of the Three Musketeers and the Viking Prince, as well as appearing in issues of the Best Of The Brave and The Bold (6 Baxter stock reprint issue of the late 1980s, whose covers were focused on the later Batman team ups that had gained so much attention for B&B, including meetings with the Flash, Aquaman, Teen Titans and the Green Arrow, who fancied himself as a hero in the style of Robin Hood).  

Oh, for the simpler days these stories suggested!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Blue Devil Two By Two 3

Magically, more on Blue Devil.  Here, it is time to delve a little into his mystic side, as he deals with a demonic invasion, as well as starting to settle into a more usual routine (well, usual for a stuntman turned demon usual), all with some magical help from the magical lady of hte JLA,  Zatanna!


The Sorceress' Apprentice

First up, picking up from when Superman took stuntman Dan Cassidy out of Metropolis, Superman and Blue Devil ended up in the JLA Satellite (still intact though that was changing at the time in the Justice League of America title as Martian Manhunter returned....leading to a team with 4 new members), checking out the view to start Blue Devil #4 (September, 1984) by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Paris Cullins and Gary Martin.

Up in the satellite, Dan meets the Elongated Man (Ralph Dibny), and tries a little stress test with Superman to find out about the strength of the suit (it isn't quite up to Superman level).  Then, Superman introduced Blue Devil to Zatanna, who tried her magic to remove Dan from the suit (to no avail).  

So, Zatanna summoned her Demonography book from her father Zatara's mansion (Shadowcrest in Gotham), to read up on the demon who stuck him in that suit, Nebiros.

Reading that, learning that Nebiros once allied with dark forces across the Earth and was banished on a small island by ancient sorcerers to another dimension until Dan and crew freed him, learning that only Nebiros can end Dan being trapped in his Blue Devil super suit.  Meanwhile, back at the studio, Marla Bloom was sending cameraman Norm Paxton back to the island for some additional pick up shots while Sharon Scott called from Metropolis to let Marla know that she wasn't happy with the restraining order on Blue Devil (and that he went off with Superman).  

Meanwhile, Zatanna and Blue Devil beamed down to the Ile Du Diable from the JLA Satellite, with the idea that Dan could just go into Nebiros' realm and ask him to return him to normal.  After Zatanna mystically restored the key to get through the portal, Blue Devil went, and, eventually found Nebiros with Dan's Blue Devil trident (which Dan used to push Nebiros though the portal back in issue #1).  

Nebiros was happy with his "little brother's" gift, and put extra enchantments in the trident.  Dan asked Nebiros to return him to being a man, but Nebiros thought him deluded, and seeing a mystic portal, thought to take Blue Devil back to Earth and cure him of this delusion of being a man.  

Back on Earth, Zatanna, thinking only Dan was returning, opened the portal, and then the duo proceed to battle Nebiros....with Norm and his helicopter pilot joining in!  Nebiros, tired of this, used Dan's empowered fly off the island.  Blue Devil and Zatanna beamed back up to the JLA Satellite to track him (leaving Norm and the pilot behind.....).  

Viva Nebiros

Back up in the JLA Satellite with the Elongated Man is where Blue Devil #5 (October, 1984) by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Paris Cullins and Gary Martin starts, with Blue Devil and Zatanna going after the recently freed demon who had ended up in Mexico!

In Mexico, Nebiros was restoring one of his old houses, buried in the sand, as Blue Devil and Zatanna arrived.  Zatanna convinced Blue Devil to try to summon his trident (to no avail at a distance), and the duo ended up teaming up with the Mexican army to get to where Nebiros was.  

As the heroes and army prepared to attack, Norm parachuted in (having been sent there to get more location footage for Marla).  Back in Hollywood, Marla went after studio head Jock Verner to get him to end the injunction against Blue Devil.  

In Mexico, General Ruiz and his army attacked Nebiros, who, though surprised by the advancements humans had made, still easily defeated the human forces.  Zatanna and Norm waded into Nebiros' newly summoned demon army while Blue Devil fought Nebiros to get his trident back and rid Earth of this demon, all while the Monitor and Lyla watched (and there was a whole lot more going on with the two of them, as they watched other mystics, the JLA and more!).  

Getting his trident back, Dan went a little more demonic (FORESHADOWING), but with the extra power and a boost from Zatanna, sent Nebiros and his forces back through the mystic portal (summoned by Nebiros to bring his army here), thus saving Earth from his evil once again.  Zatanna congratulated Dan on his heroic effort, let him know that the trident still had extra magical energy (but should be safe) and beamed back to the JLA Satellite, with Blue Devil and Norm in the middle of the Mexican army, wondering how they would get home.

Next issue, they head home (via Las Vegas, with all the chaos that can happen there), and yet more Blue Devil hilarity ensues, the next time the fancy strikes to write about him in these still yet to be collected tales!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Happy Birthday Joe Staton

Happiest of birthdays to artist Joe Staton, born January 19, 1948!


Over the years, Joe has drawn a lot of friendly characters in comics....


...and here's a little "Showcase" of them, including...



...Green Lantern and the Green Lantern Corps...




...including Guy Gardner...


...old and New Guardians...


...E-Man, Nova and all their friends...


...the Creature Commandos and Superboy & The Legion of Super-Heroes...

...most of the DC Universe...



...the Justice League of America...


...and the Justice Society of America...


...including Huntress and Power Girl!

For all this and more (like current work on Dick Tracy with Mike Curtis in the newspapers), thank you Joe Staton, and happiest of birthdays!

Friday, January 15, 2021

Jimmy Olsen's Animal Transformations

Superman's pal, Jimmy Olsen, has changed into quite a few things over the decades...

...but here are a couple of his more animalistic transformations!

The Human Octopus!

It can be handy to have Jimmy Olsen around, but even moreso after his transformation in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #41 (December, 1959) by Robert Bernstein, Curt Swan and John Forte (under a cover by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye).

It's the usual story, Superman brings back some artifacts from outer space to show Jimmy, then leaves Jimmy alone with them.  Not paying attention, Jimmy eats one of them (instead of the pear he was eating)....and then, readers wait a night to see what happens to Jimmy!  This time, he grows four extra arms, but, Jimmy tries to see his change as a positive.  

Superman warns him there will be trouble, but Jimmy is resolute.  Now, Jimmy can do three times the typing at the Daily Planet....but, union reps say he should get three times the pay....resulting in Perry White having to let Jimmy go.  Jimmy tries amateur boxing, and is able to beat his opponent, but because of the weight of his extra arms doesn't qualify to win.  

Distracted drives force Jimmy off the road, then won't pick up the six-armed man.  This makes him late for a date with Lucy Lane at the county fair....yet he exceeds at a few tricks like target shooting and baseball and finds her (only to find she can't deal with his extra arms).  Olsen then gets "recruited" by criminals to be a pickpocket for them (but still gets caught).  Superman arrives to vouch for Jimmy's innocence, and comes up with a cure....or was this all really just a dream?

The Human Porcupine!

While that transformation was useful (at least for a bit), in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #65 (December, 1962) by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and George Klein (under a Swan/Klein cover), Jimmy got the point about how hard his transformations could be.

Jimmy found himself the unwanted focus of the attentions of Miss Gzptlsnz (the 5th dimensional girlfriend of Mr. Mxyzptlk), as she wanted to marry Jimmy.  Jimmy says no, then explained to Superman that he'd rather marry an animal.  Offended by that, Miss Gzptlsnz cast a spell that Jimmy would turn into the next animal he'd see....and, while Jimmy tried to maneuver that to his advantage, she let a porcupine go at the zoo, which Jimmy felt was worse than the time he became a wolf-man.  

So, Jimmy grew quills (that shot off when he got excited), and chased off Lucy Lane (who tried to hide in a balloon gondola), but Jimmy followed and found her, resulting in the balloon getting free, and nearly killing the two as his quills punctured the balloon, sending them to the ground (to be saved by Superman).  

Jimmy tried to make peace with Miss Gzptlsnz at a Chinese restaurant (really to get her to read a fortune cookie he rigged to make her say her name backward to send her home and undo the spell), but she was too smart for that one.  

Porcupine Jimmy annoyed Perry White, and was dispatched from the Daily Planet, and tried to find work as a sideshow freak.  This worked well, but he upset the other performers like the bearded lady and tattooed man.  This gave Jimmy an idea, and he called for Miss Gzptlsnz, saying he now truly loved her and would prove it with a tattoo on his chest....which she read (and was her name backwards).  She went back to the 5th dimension and Jimmy went back to normal (and the tattoo was in non-permanent ink, so he just washed it off!).

Of course, these weren't Jimmy's only times becoming more animalistic, in the past, he's been a gorilla...and even a giant turtle man!

That Jimmy is such an animal!

Friday, January 8, 2021

Remembering Steve Lightle

Remembering artist Steve Lightle (November 19, 1959 - January 8, 2021) who passed away this morning.  

Known mostly for his work at DC Comics, on Legion of Super-Heroes, Doom Patrol and the Flash, Steve also worked at Marvel, doing Spider-Man and Classic X-Men covers, as well as odds and ends of work all over for both companies and even his own independent work. 

Below is a sample of some of his covers.  He will be missed.







Thursday, January 7, 2021

Blue Devil Two By Two 2

Looking back, and picking up where we left off a while back, more coverage of that movie stuntman turned super hero, the Blue Devil!  

(If you missed the previous column, go read it quickly here, and come back!)

Throwing a little more joy into the world with more coverage of a superhero who has fun!


Get Me Out Of Here

To be fair, things didn't start out as fun for Dan Cassidy after being trapped in his Blue Devil suit by the demon Nebiros, but Dan was making the best of it in Blue Devil #2 (July, 1984) by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Paris Cullins and Gary Martin (with a cover by Paris Cullins... 

...which was slightly misrepresentative... 

...but more on that later).

New villain Shockwave was breaking into S.T.A.R. Labs in Metropolis, as stuntman mystically into his enhanced exoskeleton Dan Cassidy was also dealing with the crowds in Metropolis.  As Blue Devil (which he is all the time now), Dan drew quite a bit of attention, as well as caved an old couple from a mugging.  While in California, his friend, Marla Bloom took him to a doctor, but there was nothing an ordinary doctor could do for Dan.  

So, Dan headed out to Metropolis to check on his investment properties, and while there, earned the ire of the studio head (as Dan was filmed as Blue Devil, messing with the promotion for the upcoming movie release).  While talking with Marla via phone, Shockwave came down Dan's street, wrecking Dan's building....forcing Blue Devil to take super heroic action to stop the destructive super-strong villain.  

While fighting Shockwave, Dr. Jenet Klyburn of S.T.A.R. Labs approached Dan, letting him know that Shockwave stole a new form of "super" Kryptonite from the lab, and that they need him to stop Shockwave from getting away with it and using it on Superman (and, thinking to herself she doesn't want Superman to know of it).  The battle was being televised, forcing Mr. Verner to call Marla, threatening action as Dan was showcasing the Blue Devil before planned marketing (with Marla calling lawyers herself to take action).  

The battle continued, with Dan eventually getting the super Kryptonite away from Shockwave just as he was about to escape with minions of his employer.  Giving it to Dr. Klyburn, Dan asked her if S.T.A.R. Labs could help get him out of the suit.  Then, Blue Devil was approached by the worse menace of all...a lawyer!  Marla had an injunction filed against Dan, to prevent him from appearing as Blue Devil (but, again, Dan is stuck in the suit!!!).  

This issue especially shows the influence of Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko on some of Paris Cullins' work!

Heart Of Stone

For a previous issue that tried to make the main villain a bit of a secret, this cover of Blue Devil #3 (August, 1984) featuring Metallo didn't do the greatest job of that (but what a great Paris Cullins cover it was, and to be fair, the previous issue both referred to Superman foe, Metallo, in the next issue blurb and on the letters' page).  But, back to the issue by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Paris Cullins and Gary Martin.

Blue Devil was at S.T.A.R. Labs, being investigated, probed and scanned by the scientists there (much to the uncomfort of Dan Cassidy, stuck in the suit), while Metallo was chewing out Shockwave for not getting the super Kryptonite, vowing to go to S.T.A.R. Labs and take it himself!  

Meanwhile, at WGBS news, anchorman Clark Kent learned of the Blue Devil/Shockwave battle, and of S.T.A.R. Labs' super Kryptonite.  Meanwhile, back in California, Marla Bloom goes at Mr. Verner for the injunction against Dan, and actress Sharon Scott gets on a plane to go to Metropolis to support Dan (who, via flashback, we know had revealed his feelings for her, but that the relationship can't go anywhere while he is in the suit).  

With the tests completed at S.T.A.R. Labs, Dan was getting ready to wait for the results with Dr. Klyburn, as Metallo and his minions arrived and attacked!  Blue Devil goes to stop them, and is taken out by Metallo's henchmen, Smithers and Rojek, before he faces Metallo (who does get the super Kryptonite).  Superman is on his way...but, doesn't go in the building as Metallo activates his new power source (bathing the whole building in Kryptonite radiation).  As the two comedic henchman take Blue Devil's body to their saucer so Metallo can experiment on him later, Dan recovers, and takes them out.  

Dan puts his super suit through its paces taking out all of Metallo's henchmen and freeing the captive S.T.A.R. scientists, all while Superman can only observe from a distance.  Blue Devil finally faces Metallo, taking out his new Kryptonite heart, so Dr. Klyburn can encase it in lead....allowing Superman to save Blue Devil from the last two of Metallo's henchmen.  

As Sharon arrives in Metropolis, Superman lets Blue Devil know a little of Metallo's history (giving Dan pause, as thought Metallo was just a robot, not a man with his own grafted on super-suit requiring Kryptonite as a power source).  Superman is concerned that S.T.A.R. Labs is developing their own Kryptonite (which Jenet says was to use against Phantom Zone villains should they attack when Superman is not around....).  

Superman lets Blue Devil know he was impressed by his actions, and, with Dr. Klyburn saying there is little S.T.A.R. Labs can do to help, Superman volunteers to take Dan to someone who knows more about magic and demons than he, and they leave, just as Sharon arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs.

The next issue cover lets you know who Superman's magic expert is, and, later installments will cover this, as well as later fun filled (and as of yet, uncollected) issues of Blue Devil, with the life and friends of Dan Cassidy!