Thursday, April 17, 2008

Space Ghost - Silver & Beyond

Decided that it was about time for yet another trip into Silver & Beyond, this time around taking a look at Hanna-Barbera's galaxy-spanning hero: Space Ghost.

From Wikipedia:
Space Ghost is a character created by Hanna-Barbera Productions and designed by Alex Toth. He started out as a superhero who, with his sidekicks Jan, Jace and Blip, fought villains in outer space. In more recent years, he has been retooled as a fictional talk show host on Cartoon Network and revamped in a DC Comics mini-series.

Space Ghost debuted in 1966 in Space Ghost and Dino Boy, where Space Ghost shared time with an unrelated segment called Dino Boy in the Lost Valley. Space Ghost was voiced by Gary Owens along with Tim Matheson as the voice of Jace and Ginny Tyler voicing Jan. Don Messick also added his voice talent to Blip. Tim Matheson had previously added his voice talent to that of the title character "Jonny" in Jonny Quest, another Hanna Barbara adventure cartoon. That Space Ghost show only lasted until 1968, but re-appeared in all-new segments on Space Stars in 1981. 22 episodes were produced and introduced a new assortment of villains including an evil version of Space Ghost called Space Spectre, who came from an alternate universe. The Phantom Cruiser was also given a sleeker and more modernized look. Similar to the original series, Space Ghost often came to the aid of the Herculoids and vice versa. They also frequently crossed paths with the Teen Force, and it appeared that Jan and Teen Force member Kid Comet were dating as well.

In the final six episodes of the original series, Space Ghost battled the "Council of Doom" (which consisted of Moltar, Zorak, Spider Woman (also named the Black Widow), Metallus, Brak, and Creature King), and Space Ghost and his sidekicks came across other Hanna-Barbera superheroes who would later have their own shows. Creature King sent a space ape to fight Space Ghost, and Jace used the phantom cruiser's energy force to get rid of it and put both of them in a time warp, sending them to a prehistoric world, where Mightor took care of the space ape, and Space Ghost went back using his power bands. Another time Zorak put Jan, Jayce, and Blip in a capsule and sent them hurtling through space to Earth where they landed in the ocean, and Moby Dick got them to the surface. Another time, Moltar sent Space Ghost and his Molten Men to the planet Quasar where the The Herculoids help Space Ghost out. And lastly, after escaping Brak and Spider Woman, the council uses their trump card, a negative transportation ray which sends him to some magical world where he is attacked by the Sultan of Flame and Shazzan saves him and has the power to send him back.

n 1967, Gold Key Comics published one issue of Space Ghost in his own comic. The character also appeared in the anthology title, Hanna-Barbera Super TV Heroes (1968-69), which featured other Saturday morning crimefighters such as the Herculoids, Birdman and the Galaxy Trio.

Marvel Comics' "Hanna-Barbera TV Stars" no. 3 (Dec. 1978 issue) was a superhero special that featured a Space Ghost story, "Pilgreen's Progress." Ironically, it was the only time Alex Toth ever drew the character for comics.

In 1987, Comico published an adaptation of Space Ghost by Mark Evanier and Steve Rude that was an homage to the spirit and look of the cartoon.

In 1997, Archie Comics published Cartoon Network Presents Space Ghost with art by Scott Rosema, based on Coast to Coast.

In 2004, DC Comics (Hanna-Barbera's corporate sibling) published a Space Ghost mini-series, which featured a serious, sci-fi/space opera version of the character and showed his origins for the first time. The series was written by Joe Kelly and illustrated by Ariel Olivetti. Thaddeus Bach, a human interplanetary peacekeeper, is betrayed by corrupt fellow officers, who kill his pregnant wife and her unborn child, after which Bach himself is gutted and left for dead on a desolate planet. Bach is rescued by an alien who gives him both a reason to live and the technology contained in his suit and spaceship. His two teenage sidekicks, Jan and Jace (spelled "Jayce" here), are revealed to be orphans of Zorak's assault on their home world, whom Bach adopts as his wards. (Blip is not seen in the mini-series.) It is they who christen him "Space Ghost," after a make-believe character their parents made up to frighten them out of bad behavior. He adopts the identity to avenge his family and bring the corrupt officers who killed them to justice.

It has always amazed me that a character that seemed so well suited for the superhero comic book medium has made just a little over a dozen appearances in the printed comic book page.

The only appearance I've never been able to locate and purchase for my own personal collection is the above-mentioned "Hanna Barbera's Superstars #3 from Marvel Comics, and would love to track down a copy, being a huge fan of Alex Toth's work....
Of all the comic book adaptations of the spectral hero, I have to admit that I've had a fondness for Steve Rude's take on the character in the '87 Comico one-shot, which I purchased in junior high when it hit comic book shops and it continues to be one of the more prized books in my collection.

I kinda think that the "hyper-realistic" take on SG and his villians in the 2004 DC Comics mini is interesting to look at, at least....especially their take on Zorak....

Download Links (Hosted By Rapidshare)

Space Ghost #1 (Gold Key, 1966)
CBZ file

Space Ghost 1987 One-Shot (Comico)

CBZ file

Space Ghost (2004 6 issue DC Comics mini-series)

JPEG Scan Zip File

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