Sunday, February 28, 2021

Batman Meets Lois Lane

To be fair, Batman met Lois Lane quite a few times before this issue (starting with the first time Superman and Batman met), but always with Superman around (and usually, the World's Finest heroes were confusing poor Lois as to whether or not Superman was Clark Kent).

 In this special issue of the Brave and the Bold (#175 from June, 1981, written by Paul Kupperberg with art and cover by Jim Aparo), Lois worked with Batman against Superman foe, Metallo, with NO Superman (or even Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent), in sight!

The Heart Of The Monster

This tale starts in Gotham, at the local branch of S.T.A.R. Labs, where Batman confronts Metallo (a Superman foe, who was a cybernetic man powered by Kryptonite) on the roof.  Batman knew he was in for a fight, but, figured it was only against Metallo's robotic strength, and was quite surprised that Metallo's Kryptonite worked on him (as it usually is only felt immediately by Superman).  

This is enough for Metallo to escape, and Batman to go back to thinking how to stop his visiting villain.  At the Wayne Foundation the next day, Daily Planet reporter (and Superman's girlfriend), Lois Lane arrives, looking for Bruce.  Lois wants Bruce to help her find Batman, as she was following a lead about S.K.U.L.L., a criminal organization that Metallo had appropriated, as their scientists had turned him from human to cybernetic monster, and that he was using the militant part of the group to find the last of them men who operated on him (to kill them).  

Bruce let her know Batman was already on the case, and had been exposed to Metallo's new Kryptonite....because Commissioner Gordon was an old friend.  As Batman, Bruce went to meet with Lois that night, who had scheduled a meet with Dr. Crenshaw.  Metallo shows up, and takes Batman and Crenshaw to his secret base (after a battle with Batman and Lois), but leaves Lois behind.  Lois goes to S.T.A.R. Labs to get a device to track Metallo, while Batman escapes the prison Metallo put him in, even without his utility belt.  Lois searches Gotham for Metallo..

...but finds he was in the S.T.A.R. Labs basement.  Metallo had Crenshaw work on his heart device, thinking he fixed it, then, when Batman and Lois confronted Metallo, the device went bad.  Crenshaw knew Metallo would kill him, so didn't quite fix his heart right (figuring the modified Kyrptonite would blow it out).  It did, and Crenshaw tried to leave, only to be stopped by Batman, with Lois only needing to file the story with Perry White.

An all too rare time of Jim Aparo drawing members of the Superman family inside a book, and it is incredible, not unlike later tries, with Brave and the Bold #192 with Superboy, or Batman and the Outsiders #19 with Superman and the Daily Planet staff (or two B&B issues with Supergirl).

This issue is also a rare example of Lois in a comic without Superman (or even Clark Kent), with Showcase #100 and the Suicide Squad/Checkmate crossover, the Janus Directive, two of the few times that happened in the 20th Century, making her more than just Superman's girlfriend.  

This issue of B&B even has a tale of Nemesis (who would be a member of the Suicide Squad for a time, but started as a Brave and the Bold back up series....).


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Remembering Superman Artist Curt Swan

It was hard to pick one cover to summarize the majesty that was Curt Swan's Superman art... 

.so, instead, here is a look at the first eight annuals (even though they came out twice a year) for Superman in the 1960s, with cover art by Curt Swan.(February 17, 1920 to June 17, 1996).

Superman Annual 1 and 2, 1960


Superman Annual 3 and 4, 1961


Superman Annual 5 and 6, 1962


Superman Annual 7 and 8, 1963


There was suppose to have been a ninth annual at the time, but it turned into the first 80-Page Giant (featuring Superman, naturally, and more, including More Secret Origins), and Curt also drew many anniversary issues involving Superman, such as Action Comics 500, and a bit in Action Comics 600 and 700,  which showed that they still remembered his style!

Wishing that DC would put these in a couple of collections like they did with the Batman Annuals of the 1960s!

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Betty And Me Valentine's Day 2021

Hoping you get to be with someone you love under a blanket this Valentine's Day, not unlike Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper are, on this classic cover for Betty And Me #100 (March, 1979).

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Marvel At The Classic Comic Of H.G. Wells' Invisible Man

Comics weren't entirely for the undereducated.  

They even dealt with the classics, as seen (or perhaps NOT seen) with this adaptation of the H. G. Wells' novel, The Invisible Man, in Marvel Classics Comics #25 (1977) with cover likely by John Romita Jr/Pablo Marcos and Frank Giacoia, with the main story by Doug Moench, Dino Castrillo and Rudy Messina as a part of their 36 issue line of adaptations of classic novels.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Blue Devil Two By Two 4

What's the first thing you have to go after you've gone away for a bit?

Well, you get to come back home.  But, in the case of stuntman supreme Dan Cassidy (the man trapped in the Blue Devil suit) and his cameraman, Norm Paxton, they weren't quite finished with their trip yet after their time down in covered here.

Their trip home takes a little detour....

Night On The Town

Blue Devil #6 (November, 1984) by Gary Cohn, Dan Mishkin, Paris Cullins, Ernie Colon and Gary Martin (credited in the next issue) takes us away from the action for a bit....way away, to another galaxy, where never do well Lehni and his large pal Jorj are trying to get away from the local law enforcement, stumbling into a mircobeaming experiment, and are sent far, far away...

....all as Blue Devil and Norm Paxton are hopping through the desert headed for home (with a stop at a diner, which luckily let's the duo know they are near Las Vegas).  Norm called Marla Bloom (Dan's producer) who gathers the gang to go get them in Vegas (earning the ire of studio head, Jock Verner).  

As Norm tells Dan his theory of the "weirdness magnet" (Dan's marriage of science and sorcery in his mechanical suit married to the mystic via Nebiros), the microwave at the diner freaks out....and Jorj and Lehni appear!  

They take off, with the extraterrestrial law enforcement robots (and Blue Devil and Norm) following....towards Vegas.  Along the way, Jorg and Lehni find Bert and Smitty (remember them?).   Having ditched super villains like Metallo, they were planning a Vegas!....and now have two alien helpers.  Dan and Norm fight the robots and head to Vegas, to find Bert and Smitty, with Jorj and Lehni (who are afraid of Blue Devil because he looks like the peacekeeper robots).  

After total chaos in the casino, as the robots arrive as well, Dan sends the robots back through a microwave machine in the casino (as a temporary portal was opened on the other side), and Smitty and Bert get arrested (and are happy to, to get away from all the weirdness), but Jorj and Lehni are stuck here (no matter how much Dan tries to send them off).  Looking at the damage at the casino (also owned by Jock Verner), Blue Devil suggests they hire Jorj and Lehni to work off paying for it.  

Then, Gopher, Marla Bloom and Sharon Scott (Dan's sweetie) arrive (driven by Dan's acting rival, Wayne Tarrant) to take the crew home.  

Meanwhile, special effects man, James Jesse (also known as the Trickster, who has faced Dan before) is in trouble and facing an assassin named Bolt (and is headed for a rendezvous with Dan and crew....

Just Another Day In L.A.

While Paris Cullins still does the art for the cover of Blue Devil #7 (December, 1984), the innards of the book are by the usual writing team of Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin, but with special guest artist, Gil Kane

The issue begins with a battle between the Trickster and the forces coming for him, including average hoods, teched out hoods and Bolt.  James escapes them....and thinks of going to Blue Devil for help.  But, Blue Devil is in a pickle of his own...trying to find a suit big enough for his new body so he can go on his first date with Sharon!  

Dan has trouble finding a large enough suit, but Marla and Wayne try to help (with counter girl Gina oddly interested in Wayne).  

Back at Marla's home, her nephew Gopher is approached by three odd men who want to talk to Dan Cassidy, and they leave there card (IHNCS).  

Eventually getting back to Marla's house after some trouble with Marla's car (as it is just too small for Dan), Dan is getting ready for Sharon to arrive (not knowing that Trickster is on his way to Marla's as well).  Sharon arrives, looking beautiful, and they leave in her large and well build old pink Cadillac, but, that is when Bolt teleports in above, as he has found the Trickster.  

At the restaurant, Dan and Sharon are enjoying a nice first date, with the three men observing from outside, and Trickster having snuck in....and surprises Dan, just as he is surprised as Bolt teleports in!  A battle ensues, with Dan eventually facing off against Bolt, who demonstrates his electrical powers on Dan (much to the dismay of his suit), but fails to take out the Trickster, so Bolt teleports out, leaving Dan wanting to find out what is going on from the Trickster!

A good enough place to stop, but more on the Bolt saga and Trickster's troubles (and the rest of the crew) will be coming soon!

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

National Pizza Day 2021 With Jughead

Jughead Jones is enjoying a pizza at Pop's for his birthday with Archie, Betty and Veronica on this cover for Jughead #167 (April, 1969)...and you should enjoy a pizza today too, as it is National Pizza Day!

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Doorway To Madame Xanadu The Second Two

Transitioning from light to dark, moving from last year to this, you approach a turn, a doorway.

Do you take the adventure and go in, or continue on with your normal life?

Do you wave from the dream, or live in the nightmare?

Here are two more of Madame Xanadu's appearances in Doorway to Nightmare!

Blood Red Tear

The first step today is to Doorway To Nightmare #3 (May-June, 1978) by Bill Kunkel, Roger McKenzie, Ric Estrada and Romeo Tanghal, following the footsteps of lost soul, Margot Hammer.

Margot Hammer was a girl from Des Moines, Iowa, who came to make it in the Big Apple, but was being ground down by it instead.  As her saving ran out, she found a job as an assistant for Victor Christianson, a man who worked in the import-export business.  Victor was well to do, but only met with Margot during the night hours, as she handled his business during the day.  

Over time, and late night meals where only she ate, Margot began to fall for Victor, but she couldn't shake the feeling there was something off about the man who only appeared at night with the blood red eyes.  

Madame Xanadu asked Margot to send him to her Greenwich Village shop, and she did.  Victor met with Xanadu, and they seemed to have crossed paths in the past.  Not deterred by Xanadu's tarot readings, Victor brought Margot to a party of his friends, where she was truly the life of the party (though the party was filled with loud music and blood red wine...and so many others, not really attached to life, including the beautiful redheaded Fleur).  Fleur seemed jealous and spiteful, and took Margot tell her what was really going on here, which seemed to put Margot in shock. 

Undeterred, Margot still professed her love for Victor, who also felt something for Margot, but did not want to inflict the suffering of his existence onto only a half life like he and his kind did.  Wanting only to save Margot, Victor awaited for the sunrise, and faded away to dust as the sun hit his body, as what happens to those who are vampires (who have lost all sensation of life over the centuries in the dark), with a new red filled jar for Madame Xanadu.

In the text page for the issue, more of the limitations of the length of the lives of vampires are discussed in an interview with a vampire....

Six Claws Of The Dragon

The story of Doorway To Nightmare #4 (July-August, 1978) by Catherine Barrett Andrews, Stuart Hopen and Johnny Craig with the brutal murder of Professor James Lei Hau, a horrible theft, and an investigation by New York police Lieutenant Nick Abrahms. 

Lt. Abrahms was investigating the theft of a pair of mummies (a princess and her bodyguard) from the Metropolitan Museum, when he found himself walking through Madame Xanadu's door.  There were also five lamps of six stolen of Princess Sheiko Morea, and Madame Xanadu happened to have a lamp in her possession.  

She also gave Nick the story of the Princess, and her six fingered hand, which held a jade jewel as she was mummified, and that someone had tried to take it years ago by cutting off the hand...yet the jade and hand had returned (though the wrist was now bloodied).  Nick got a call of the murder of the Professor, and a possible link to the theft. 

Going to Chinatown, Nick was warned away by Lady Anne Karis, who seemed to have influence over Nick's mind, at least until he was distracted by the beauty of the Professor's daughter, Sue Lei Hau.  Nick went back to the station, and found the lamp missing, and went back to Xanadu's shop.  There, he saw her in a confrontation with Lady Karis, whose mind tricks didn't work against Xanadu (though Karis also wanted the lamp).  

Getting no answers and leaving with the lamp, Nick went to Sue for answers, to find a birthmark around her wrist.  Returning home, Nick was attacked by the mummified bodyguard, trying to get the lamp.  Madame Xanadu stopped the mummy, and left, with Nick going back to the shop (and still getting no answers).  Meeting with Sue, she proclaimed anger about her tomb being violated, but then went back to normal.  Leaving Sue, it is revealed she is possessed by Princess Morea, who, with the help of Lady Karis, was gathering the lamps to permanently transfer the Princess' spirit into Sue's body.  

Nick arrives to help, finding Lady Karis there, and that she was dead, as the mummified Morea had killed her for cutting off her hand years ago, and made the lady the princess' undead slave for her attempted theft, and, as the professor's assistant, bound the princess' spirit to the unborn Sue, who has now reached the age when the Princess originally died.  Sue's love for Nick broke the Princess' hold on her body....and Xanadu arrived to extinguish the lamps, ending the transference spell, giving Nick and Sue a chance on happiness, and a new inhabitant for a jar in Xanadu's shop.      

This issue's text page covered how Karis and the Professor had their original plans to take the mummies and the jade, and how Lady Karis ended up dead and in service to the Princess.

Be prepared for more journeys with Madame Xanadu, as we had in the past, whether through a doorway or something more unexpected when the spirit moves me....