Sunday, May 25, 2008

Mr. A #1 (1973)

from Wikipedia:

Mr. A is a fictional comic book hero created by Steve Ditko. Unlike most of his work, the character of Mr. A and the Mr. A stories remain the property of Ditko, all of which were written and illustrated by himself. The character first appeared in Witzend #3, 1967. Mr. A's name comes from "A is A", a popular way to represent the Law of Identity used often by Ayn Rand in particular.

Rex Graine is a newspaper reporter for the Daily Crusader. He is known for his uncompromising principles and incorruptibility. In order to fight crime Graine will wear metal gloves and a steel mask that resembles a placid face, thus becoming Mr. A. In keeping with the hardboiled detective theme, both personas typically wear suits and fedora hats; Mr A's outfit is completely white. There is no origin story for the character, thus it is unknown why Graine decided to become a vigilante or why he sometimes disguises himself, as both his identities are equally threatened by criminals and sometimes hated by the general public. Mr. A uses half white-half black cards to signify his arrival, as well as to represent his belief that there can only be good and evil, and no moral grey area.

Mr. A is one of the clearest examples of Ditko's belief in Ayn Rand's Objectivism. Typical stories will have one character convince him or herself that doing just a few illegal acts to get ahead in life will not make him or her a bad person. This character's crimes escalate when they must either take action to cover their previous misdeeds or are now too closely tied to more dangerous criminals to simply walk away. The stories invariably end with Mr. A confronting the criminals and telling them that they are all guilty, including the character who had wished to remain good. A staple for most stories involves this character trying to justify his or her immoral actions to both others and him or herself, blaming things such as environment and society rather than taking responsibility.

Almost every character speaks about the ideological reasoning behind their actions on every panel, thus showing that the adventure story is not meant to be just entertainment, but is to show an ideological dialogue and hopefully sway readers over to Objectivism.

Not all of Mr. A's stories are crime adventures. Some are allegorical representations of the guilty trying to explain why they compromised their values. Mr. A, on a white platform, denounces their explanations. These stories typically end with the guilty falling into an abyss off of their black platform. This representation often occurs at the end of the adventure stories as well.

Detractors have said that Mr. A is an unfeeling character who offers no remorse or mercy to criminals. In the stories themselves Mr. A says that he feels only for the innocent and victimized. His brand of justice might seem harsh to some, but on the other hand his punishments for criminals arguably fit the crimes they committed. People who commit "just one crime", such as accepting dirty money are turned over to authorities to stand trial for what they have done. Mr. A refuses to overlook their transgressions, even if they profess they will be good from then on. Killers and would-be-killers generally find themselves in situations where they need Mr. A's assistance to save them, but since they had no respect for innocent lives then he offers no aid for their guilty ones. It is only when an innocent life is directly threatened that Mr. A will kill, and when he does so it is without remorse.

Ditko responded to his critics in a Mr. A essay titled "Violence the Phoney Issue", printed in Guts #5 in 1969. This essay was reprinted on the web site "Dial B For Blog" #298.

Mr. A became the subject of the song "Goodbye Mr. A" by the British indie band The Hoosiers in late 2007, the lyrics talk about Mr. A's uncompromising values and the character's lack of popularity. Also, in The Hoosiers' music video of "Goodbye Mr. A", Mr A is launched into the air by a rocket and the band becomes superheroes in his place.

The Question, originally a Charlton Comics character and currently owned by DC Comics, is a hero very similar to Mr. A. Both men are uncompromising reporters who operate as vigilantes when wearing masks. Both characters also follow Objectivism, and it is often believed that the Question is a softer, more marketable version of Mr. A.

Ditko’s H Series and J Series (standing for "hero" and "justice" respectively) tell the stories of men who never compromise their beliefs, even when their futures or lives are at stake. At the end of H Series, the hero’s brother is distraught because he is disgusted by himself when compared to someone like his brother who never bends to the will of others and never does wrong. This is another common theme with Mr. A, and the heroes in all these stories could easily be interchanged with him.

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Mr. A #1 CBR file

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Dell Comics Monster Superheroes

I remember as a kid in the late 1980s reading about these comics in an article devoted to them in the (now defunct) fan magazine, Comics Feature. Being a young horror fan, as well as a comic book fanboy, I was intrigued.

Memories of this article lay dormant in the back of my head for a couple of decades, until I ran into a copy of Frankenstein #2 at a local convention, and much to my surprise within a few months (via local shops, conventions, and pure dumb luck) I was actually able to amass a near complete collection of the titles (I've never run across a copy of Frankenstein #4, see pic below)....So, without further ado, here's the DELL MONSTER SUPERHEROES:

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Dracula #1-#4 CBR zip file

From Wikipedia:

Dracula is a superhero comic book series published by Dell Comics, based on the three classic Universal Pictures monsters. Dracula lasted 3 issues from 1966 through 1967, numbered 2 through 4. (#1, published in 1962, was an adaptation of the 1931 film). In 1972-73, Dell reprinted the series, numbering them #6-8 (the reason for skipping issue #5 is unknown). The hero of the comic, Dracula, is a direct descendant of the original Count Dracula, now working as a medical researcher in the old Dracula castle. Due to his experiments, he gains certain bat-like powers (like being able to turn into a bat, etc.). He then embarks on a superhero career, making a costume and leaving for America (since the local peasants have burned down his castle). In America, he adopts the secret identity of "Al U. Card." In issue #4, his lab assistant B.B. Beebe accidentally gains the same powers, and became his sidekick, Fleeta.

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Frankenstein #1-#3 CBR zip file

From Wikipedia:

A character based on the literary and movie monster Frankenstein was the star of a short-lived attempt by Dell Comics to publish superhero comic books based on the Universal Pictures monsters.

Frankenstein lasted three issues, numbered 2-4 (Sept. 1966- March 1967). Issue #1 had been a 1964 adaptation of the 1931 movie. Art was by Tony Tallarico.

Frankenstein is Frankenstein's Monster, who has been lying dormant under a castle (while a large modern city has grown around it). Upon awakening, he makes a rubber mask to hide the fact his skin in green (or at least his head), and takes the name "Frank N. Stone". Befriending a billionaire, who dies and leaves Frank his fortune, he now devotes his life to being a superhero.

From Wikipedia:

Werewolf is a fictional superhero that appeared in comics published by Dell Comics. Werewolf was part of Dell Comic's attempt to capitalize on the popularity of the Universal Pictures monsters (the other two were Dracula and Frankenstein). Werewolf first appeared in Werewolf #1 (December 1966).

Werewolf lasted 3 issues from 1966 through 1967, numbering #1-3. Because "Wolfman" was a copyrighted name, Dell went with the more generic "Werewolf". Credit for the scripts is unclear, but they may have been written by Don Segall; artwork for all three issues was provided by Bill Fracchio, with inks by Tony Tallarico.

Werewolf is really Airforce Major Wiley Wolf. After crashing in the Arctic Circle, he lived with a group of wolves, saving one he named Thor. After being rescued he became a CIA operative, along with Thor. The CIA provides Wolf with a high-tech suit, which makes him bulletproof and protects him from chemicals and gases. He uses the suit to fight the enemies of freedom and democracy.

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Werewolf #1-#3 CBR zip file

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Weird War Tales #93 (Nov. 1980, DC Comics)

I had this really weird habit when I was a kid. I was such a comic book fanboy that I had pretty much memorized the shipping schedules of comics that were sold at my local hometown drug store, down to the point that I knew that the third week of the month was a deadzone. If memory serv es right, circa the early 1980s...the third week meant picking through three things on their newstand (back next to the soda fountain):
1.) Various Archie Comics titles
2.) Batman and the Outsiders
3.) DC's war books.*

Now, for a young superhero junkie like myself, this was always a dreary week, forced to spend my hard-earned allowance on books I didn't particularly enjoy...until I discovered Weird War Tales....and The Creature Commandos.

For a developing weirdo like myself, this feature (along with one that shared the book from time to time, G.I. Robot) were just odd-ball enough to garner my atention and over the years become endeared to me and my particular eclectic comic book tastes...

From Wikipedia:

Weird War Tales was a war comic book title with supernatural overtones published by DC Comics which ran from September 1971 to June 1983.

The title was an anthology series that told war related stories with science fiction, horror, mystery and suspense. Each issue was hosted by Death, usually dressed in a different military uniform each issue. Recurring characters began to appear late in the series run, notably the Creature Commandos, G.I. Robot, and the return of The War That Time Forgot (which originally ran in Star Spangled War Stories). Other stories would often feature robot soldiers, ghosts, the undead, and other paranormal characters from different eras of time.

The Creature Commandos are a fictional DC Comics team of military superhumans first deployed in World War II. The original team, created by J.M. DeMatteis, was introduced in Weird War Tales #93 (November 1980).

Project M

Project M was a secret government organization which operated during World War II and specialized in experimental biotechnology and necromancy. Known creations of the Project include the Creature Commandos, Miss America and the G.I. Robot. The Project's main scientist is one Professor Mazursky. He was aided by Robert Crane. As told in Young All-Stars #12, they operated from a secret underground complex on mythical Ferris Island in New York.

In 1942, Project M created the Creature Commandos. They were: Lt. Matthew Shrieve (normal), Warren Griffith (werewolf), Sgt. Vincent Velcro (vampire), Pvt. Elliot "Lucky" Taylor (frankenstein's monster) and Dr. Myrra Rhodes (medusa).

Project M yielded other interesting specimens. Most notably, they were behind the creation of the heroine, Miss America. Prof. Mazursky kidnapped her after his original subject perished. At first, his experiments appeared to have left her incapacitated. He later returned her unconscious form to the surface world. After that, she began a masked heroing career but was critically injured while fighting alongside the Freedom Fighters. Project M recovered her and nursed her back to health. While there, Project M was visited by the Young All-Stars, who had discovered that Project M had been infiltrated. A criminal named Deathbolt was there seeking a new physical host for the disembodied brain of the Ultra-Humanite. The Ultra-Humanite took over the body of a dinosaur recovered from Dinosaur Island.

During the same visit, the All-Stars witnessed the unfinished body of the creature that would later be known as G.I. Robot.[1]

World War II

The team's first mission was in France, where they destroyed Nazi manufactured android duplicates of the Allied leaders. In their next mission to France to free scientist Dr. Renee Frederique. The Commandos ultimately found her in a death camp, and they had no choice but to kill her. Her knowledge of a chemical nerve gas was too risky to be left in Nazi hands. Because of his his part in the killing, Taylor attempted suicide. Although the doctors attempted to repair him, he remained mute for the rest of the series. On another morally dubious mission the team caused the deaths of dozens of super-soldier children.

In 1943, the Commandos were deployed to Dinosaur Island in the South Pacific. They were supposed to solve the disappearance of several Allied spotter planes. They discovered a hidden Axis naval base and were able to trick the dinosaurs in turning on the Japanese navy. Shrieve took pictures for his commanders as proof of the island's existence. But Taylor destroyed them, he believed that the war would bring destruction to the dinosaurs.

When next they returned to Dinosaur Island, they met the first J.A.K.E., the G.I. Robot. He met the Commandos when their plane was attacked by a dinosaur and crashed into the beach. Together, the soldiers discovered an underwater civilization, a supposed lost colony of Atlantis situated in the Pacific. The lost colony had created a group of robots to carry on the work of Atlantean conquest, and these androids took control of the G.I. Robot's mind. J.A.K.E. ultimately overrode their commands and sacrificed itself to destroy the colony.

At the end of the war, the remaining Creature Commandos and J.A.K.E. 2 were forced to man a rocket aimed at Berlin. But the rocket went radically off course and headed out of the atmosphere into deep space.

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Weird War Tales #93 CBZ file

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Marvel Tails starring Peter Porker, the Spectacular Spider-Ham #1 (Marvel, Nov. 1983)

This, ladies and fanboys, is quite possibly one of my favorite comic books of all-time.

As I've mentioned before in my previous Captain Carrot post, I'm a big fan of funny animal superhero parodies (and, no....this does not mean by any stretch o the imagination that I am a "Furry", for any of our more perverted and lonely readers out there).

Spider-Ham is one of the better ones, in my opinion, and I was a dedicated subscriber to his regular on-going title while it was in publication.

The back-up feature in this book, "Goose Rider" (a funny animal take on Ghost Rider) has artwork by Steve Mellor, an artist who's work I've always found delightful to look at, but remains a sort of curiosity to...I know he was a fairly regular contributor to Marvel's late 1970s MAD Magazine knock-off, CRAZY, and he had a few things pop up here and there in the regular bi-monthly Spider-Ham series, but seems to have dropped off the radar after that...

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Marvel Tails #1 CBR file

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Kingdom Come Audio Book (Time Warner AudioBooks 1996)

Only available in the audio cassette format and long out of print, I thought it'd be a nice addition to the blog to provide the world with MP3 rips of this great audio book version of the novelization of Kingdom Come...sadly, lists this as selling for as much as 70 bucks a pop used. Crazy thing is, I think I gave 2.99 for this at a Borders liquidation outlet a few years after it came out.

I'll post the whole thing in 4 parts, each one an MP3 of one side of the two cassettes the set contains...

Elliot S. Maggin (Author), Mark Waid (Author), Alex Ross (Author), Full Cast (Reader)

Kingdom Come part 1 Download Link (Hosted by Rapidshare)

Kingdom Come part 2 Download Link (Hosted by Rapidshare)

Kingdom Come part 3 Download Link (Hosted by Rapidshare)

Kingdom Come part 4 Download Link (Hosted by Megaupload)