Friday, February 29, 2008

Hanna-Barbera TV Super TV Heroes #1 (Gold Key, 1968)

One of the things that really surprises me is after the quirky, culty sucess of properties such as Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, is that Warner Bros. (the folks who hold Hanna-Barbera's leash) has never tried to revive and capitalize on their superhero franchises of the 1960s, especially with the current wave of popularity that seems to be surging through Hollywood with what seems to be an endless stream of comic book and superhero films....

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Solar, Man of the Atom- Silver & Beyond

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom #1 ( October 1962) debuted from the fledgling Gold Key imprint created out of the split between Dell and Western Publishing, basically a move that originated when when Western switched to in-house publishing rather than packaging content for branding and distribution by its business partner, Dell Comics.

Raymond Solar, from the beginning, was a character that bucked several cliched superhero conventions of the era.

One, his origin made him out to be a fairly tragic figure. Irradiated in an "atomic accident", Solar gained energy manipulation abilities and several other typical more than human attributes, but as a result of his origin, he basically became a walking atomic pile, forced into a life of solitude because of the enormous amounts of radiation he was prone to give off.

Second, he lived this tragic Hulk-like existence for the first 5 issues of his book...with matching green skin, to boot...that is, until his fifth issue, where he finally received his official red union suit and basically for the rest of his title's run (which lasted about 30 plus issues spread out of two decades) became a typical superhero battling giant robots, dinosaurs, and the occasional evil scientist.

Third, his origin sequence itself is kinda long in the tooth compare to the typical "8 pages and yer a hero" origin story that was the norm of the day, the transition from hip young scientist (you can tell he's cool because he's constantly wearing sunglasses), to radiation victim to full blown costumed do-gooder taking the aforementioned 5 issues to finally bear fruit....

Below is a download link for scans of my copies of the first five issues of Solar's Silver Age Gold Key incarnation...

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Once you've had a chance to check out the good Doc's Silver Age origin, hopefully we'll be able to compare and contrast it to his 1990s incarnation's debut story....

Solar: The Valiant Years

Now, I was a huge fan of Valiant Comics and their tight little shared universe continuity during the earlier part of their publishing existence. I dare anyone to find a tighter continuity than those books possessed. Everything was nice and neat, everything was connected, and in ways that actually IMO made sense.

Valiant's origin of Solar was a trippy little deal, that dealt with time travel, alternate universe's and the possibilities of what might happen if a person actually did come into possession of god-like powers and,....well....actually became God. Plus, it was written by Jim Shooter (the man who practically reinvented Marvel in the 1980s, putting it on the road to multimedia giant that it is today) and illustrated by Barry Windsor-Smith....

From Wikipedia:

The new version (now known simply as Solar) was a physicist named Phil Seleski. Seleski was a fan of the Gold Key line, especially the adventures of Doctor Solar. One day, Seleski and his colleagues were testing a new type of fusion reactor. When an accidental breach threatened to decimate the entire area, Seleski rushed to shut down the reactor. He succeeded, but he was exposed to lethal doses of radiation in the process. Amazingly, the exposure didn't kill him. Instead, it gave him an ability to manipulate energy. Seleski tried to use his powers for the good of mankind. He became determined to destroy the world's supply of nuclear weapons. The US government tried to stop him. Unfortunately, their efforts caused Seleski to lose control of his powers, which in turn caused Earth to fall into a giant black hole. Seleski wound up thrown several weeks back in time (or so he thought). The guilt over his role in destruction of his world caused him to split into two beings: Doctor Solar, who believed himself to be Seleski's childhood hero; and Phil Seleski, who retained all the memories of the original. Seleski sought to prevent an accident that gave him powers from taking place. His efforts were complicated by the presence of Doctor Solar, who was convinced that Seleski was a dangerous criminal. Eventually, Seleski managed to convince his alter-ego that they needed to work together. They fused with the past version of Seleski and prevented the accident. In the process, they discovered that Seleski's fusion reactor was actually a "wish machine" that allowed anyone within close proximity to change the universe in any way they saw fit. Before the original accident, Seleski wished that he could become his childhood superhero. As a result, the reactor simulated the events that gave the original Doctor Solar his powers. Seleski also found out that he didn't travel to the past. After falling into a black hole, he tried to recreate his universe. For the most part, he succeeded. However, there were several important differences, the most important of which was that Earth was now populated by a large number of super-powered beings. The revelations inspired Seleski to take up the mantle of his childhood hero. He became known as Solar, Man of the Atom.

The Valiant origin went as a far as acknowledging the Gold Key version of the character, who much like in our reality, is a fictional comic book character, as evidenced in the page below (from Solar, Man of the Atom #2 October 1991)

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Punisher Meets Archie (Marvel Comics/ Archie Comics, 1994)

I get alot of flack for being a loving endorser of this particular comic book. Not only do I think it's good...I love it unconditionally.

It pulls off the impossible, IMO....takes two polar opposite characters (The Punisher and Archie Andrews, naturally), presents a tangible scenario for each to interact, and does it all without having either seem out of character, which are the hallmarks of any good crossover in comics.
Cut to Wikipedia:
''Archie Meets the Punisher (Aug. 1994) was a one-shot comic book intercompany crossover published by Marvel Comics and Archie Comics. This was the title of the Archie version with the same interior contents as The Punisher Meets Archie, published by Marvel. It featured the unlikely meeting of Marvel's murderous vigilante, the Punisher, and Archie Comic' all-American teenager, Archie Andrews. The book was written by Batton Lash, with artwork by John Buscema (handling the Punisher side) and Stan Goldberg (handling the Archie side).

The Punisher has made a deal with the government to hunt down a notorious drug dealer named "Red" who is hiding in Riverdale. His deal with the government requires him to forgo his normally lethal methods and apprehend the villain instead of killing him. This is fortunate, because Red looks exactly like Archie. Archie is mistaken for Red by the Punisher, who is undercover as a teacher at Riverdale High, while Red is mistaken for Archie by his friends. All parties remain completely in character throughout the issue, although Riverdale's inherent innocence compels the Punisher to allow his true quarry to live, for once. The comic ends with the joking suggestion that the next crossover will be between Wolverine and Jughead.

The comic is full of references to various teen comics and superhero comics published by both companies. Archie's Josie and the Pussycats and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch make brief appearances, as do Marvel and Archie romance characters Millie the Model, Katy Keene, Hedy Wolfe, and Patsy Walker. Some characters, like That Wilkin Boy, are mentioned, but not seen. One girl's comment, "So I asked the Doctor if the Hosts of Hoggoth were really hoary," implies that she has met Marvel's Doctor Strange.

A reference to Marvel's next intercompany crossover is made at the end of this issue, when Microchip claims that their next stop is Gotham City. Shortly after this comic book was published, Marvel Comics and DC Comics collaborated to release Batman/Punisher: Lake of Fire and Punisher/Batman: Deadly Knights .

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Lobo #1 (1965, Dell Comics)

From Wikipedia:

Lobo starred in Dell Comics' little-known but groundbreaking, two-issue series Lobo (Dec. 1965 & Sept. 1966), also listed as Dell Comics #12-438-512 and #12-439-610 in the company's quirky numbering system. Co-Created by writer D. J. Arneson and artist Tony Tallarico, it chronicled the Old West adventures of a wealthy, unnamed African-American gunslinger called "Lobo" by the first issue's antagonists. On the foreheads of vanquished criminals, Lobo would leave the calling card of a gold coin imprinted with the images of a wolf and the letter "L".
Tallarico in a 2006 interview said that he and Dell writer
D.J. Arneson co-created the character based on an idea and a plot by Tallarico, with Arneson scripted it.

I had an idea for Lobo. And I approached D.J. Arneson and he brought it in and showed it to [Dell editor-in-chief]
Helen Meyer. ... She loved it. She really wanted to do it. Great, so we did it. We did the first issue. And in comics, you start the second issue as they're printing the first one, due to time limitations. ... All of the sudden, they stopped the wagon. They stopped production on the issue. They discovered that as they were sending out bundles of comics out to the distributors [that] they were being returned unopened. And I couldn't figure out why. So they sniffed around, scouted around and discovered [that many sellers]] were opposed to Lobo, who was the first black Western hero. That was the end of the book. It sold nothing. They printed 200,000; that was the going print-rate. They sold, oh, 10-15 thousand.


On May 19, 2006, Temple University College of Arts and Sciences presented Tallarico its Pioneer Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Comics and Books Industries, in recognition of his creating the first comic book to star an African-American.

Black comic-book stars
Marvel Comics' 1950s predecessor Atlas Comics had published the African tribal-chief feature "Waku, Prince of the Bantu" — the first known mainstream comic-book feature with a Black star, albeit not African-American — it was one of four regular features in each issue of the omnibus title, Jungle Tales (Sept. 1954 - Sept. 1955). Comic books' first known African-American superhero, Marvel's Falcon, was introduced in 1969[2], but there would be no Black star of his or her own comic until 1972, with Marvel's Luke Cage, Hero for Hire, followed in 1973 by Marvel's Black Panther (introduced as a supporting character in a 1966 issue of Fantastic Four) in Jungle Action.

And to think....I found this book years ago rummaging around in a second hand shop and bought it and five or six other comics in a bundle for around a buck.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Dell Four Color #596: Turok, Son of Stone (Dell, 1954)

This is one of the prizes of my collection, IMO. Dell Four Color #596 (1954) is the first appearance of Turok, Son of Stone, a fairly long-lived property that's spawned two separate comic book incarnations (Dell/Gold Key/ Whitman's Silver Age version and the popular 1990s Valiant version: Turok-Dinosaur Hunter), as well as a successful video game franchise (and one of my personal favorite first person shooters of all time, to boot).

What inspired this particular post was the recent animated direct-to-DVD adaptation of the character which hit store shelves earlier this month:

The flick's not bad,'s just not Turok. The character I remember reading from youth, in second hand copies found at local rummage shops and yard sales wasn't thrown into a berserker rage whenever confronted with conflict...he always seemed to be one of the cooler headed heroes of the comic book pages, adapting quickly to his strange enviroment full of cavemen and dinosaurs....oh well....just chalk it up to an old fogey pitchin' a bitch about a "revisionist" take on a favorite character. Now, I know exactly what those Silver Age fans meant when they used to moanabout stuff during my youth in the 1980s and 90s.

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Gorgo #2 (Charlton Comics, 1961)

This book combines two things I love: Steve Ditko and giant monsters. Charlton adapted the 1961 British attempt at kaiju, and it lasted for 23 issues...

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