Saturday, February 27, 2010

Will Eisner's John Law: Detective #1 (Eclipse Comics 1983)

Being an Eisner fan, especially of the Spirit, I searched for this particular one-shot published by Eclipse for years, finally running across a copy of it a few weeks back at a local flea market for 50 cents. Basically rehashed Spirit stories....and that, my friends, in the hands of Eisner is not a bad thing at all.

Eclipse Comics’ 1983 one-shot John Law, Detective treats readers to three action-packed adventure mysteries produced in 1948 by comics master Will Eisner. Perhaps the John Law stories were considered too close to Eisner’s more famous detective creation, The Spirit, to see publication in their own day. Indeed, Eisner eventually reused the John Law material in several classic Spirit stories, including the famous “Half-Dead Mr. Lox.” For whatever reason, the publisher went as far as to shoot stats for John Law then let the project languish at the bottom of a file cabinet until it was unearthed nearly 35 years later by intrepid Eisner devotee Cat Yronwode. The result is like finding a complete unreleased Beatles album from 1966 or a lost Orson Welles film—a rare look at a masterwork from a creator at the absolute peak of his powers.

Download Link

The Spider: Master of Men (Eclipse 1991-1992)

I'm a junkie for masked pulp heroes, so when these mini-series came out in the early 1990s, I snagged them immediately. 'Course, having become a fan of Tim Truman's work and following it from SCOUT to AIRBOY to HAWKWORLD helped matters, as well...



Monday, February 22, 2010

Silver & Beyond: Magnus- Robot Fighter Part One

For some odd reason, I've always found the character Magnus to be absolutely fascinating, yet I cannot for the life of me put a finger on the exact reason why. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that the mental image of some dude karate-ing (my word) the f**k outta robots brings the same type of smile to my face today that it did when I first discovered the character in question at the age of probably 7 or 8. It's the same type of smile one sees when a child first takes notice of the concept of dinosaurs,(specifically the T-Rex)....that is, the first recognition of the abstract concept of "bad-ass".

I mean, c'mon...what's more bad-ass than a guy punching friggin' robots bare-knuckle style?

If you're looking for more depth than that, or some sort of radical character development and evolution outta the various incarnations of the comic book, then look elsewhere. I think one-time Magnus writer Keith Giffen summed it up the best when he said: "The title of the book is self-explanatory. It's about a guy named Magnus, and he fights robots."

From Wikipedia:

Magnus, Robot Fighter is a fictional character created by writer/artist Russ Manning in 1963, based primarily on Tarzan. Magnus first appeared in Magnus Robot Fighter 4000 A.D. #1, published by Gold Key Comics in February 1963. The character was subsequently published by Valiant Comics and Acclaim Comics in the 1990s. In every incarnation, Magnus was a human who battled rogue robots in the year 4000. While the concept remained the same throughout the years, the way it was approached changed depending on the publisher.

By the year 4000, humanity has become dependent on robots. H8, the Pol-Rob chief of the civic sector of North Am, a continent-spanning mega-city, was damaged in a radiation accident. It sought to promote the human dependency on robots and gradually impose totalitarian rule in the area under its control.

Magnus was raised by a robot known as 1A, a name which implies that he was the very first robot of his type ever manufactured. 1A seemed to be self-aware and possess emotions. A firm believer in the Three Laws of Robotics, 1A recognized the threat represented by the dependency of humans on robots in general, and the developments in North Am due to H8 in particular. Therefore, 1A trained Magnus as a warrior to protect humans against both rogue robots, and humans who used normal robots for evil purposes. Magnus was trained from infancy by 1A in an under-sea domed house, using advanced techniques, to become a skilled martial artist who could break steel with his bare hands. In addition, 1A equipped his charge with a device that would allow him to "hear" robot-to-robot radio communications.

Magnus' girlfriend was named Leeja. Robots that served as police were called "Pol-Robs" (as in police robots); they were painted black and white like city police cars. All robots had identifying numbers painted on their chest and backs. Other robots, such as taxi drivers, could be nothing more than a torso with arms and head attached to a flying automobile.

Both the Gold Key and Valiant versions take place in North Am, a gigantic megalopolis that encompassed the entire North American continent. The city consists of several "levels." The higher levels are populated by wealthier individuals, often regarded as "soft" and complacent. The lowest level, the Goph Level, is populated by a hardier and less educated class known as "gophs."

By AD 4000, the nation of Japan is home to 50 billion people. The major islands of Japan are covered by a single, contiguous structure known as the Host. Grandmother, a Freewill electronic network, controls virtually every facet of daily life.

Aside from North Am, Earth also features a city on the continent of Antarctica named Antarcto. The city consists of several transparent domes, inside each of which the climate is carefully controlled. Construction of these habitats was fiercely opposed, for fear of ecological damage to the fragile Antarctic system. As well, there is the area known as Himalhina, which apparently includes at least all of India and China.

Original series

The original series, titled Magnus, Robot Fighter, 4000 AD, premiered in 1963. It was written and drawn by Russ Manning. For the duration of the title's original run, Magnus battled rogue robots, aliens, space pirates and other threats. He fell in love with Leeja Clane, the daughter of one of North Am's senators. Leeja developed limited telepathic abilities after training by M'Ree and other humans who had acquired them as a result of their minds being linked together while imprisoned in suspended animation by H8. The series was popular in the 1960s. As the '70s approached, sales began to decline. The last issue (#46) was published in January 1977. However, Manning only completed 21 issues; the rest were reprints of previous issues or new stories by others (#23-28). The inferior quality of the non-Manning stories was the main reason for the decline of popularity.

The original concept is a deliberate inversion or update of the Tarzan mythos, the syndicated comic strip of which Russ Manning had previously illustrated. Where Tarzan was a human raised as a noble savage feral child by African great apes who saw the world through his naturalistic upbringing and opposition to the rules and limits of civilization, Magnus was a human raised by a benevolent robot named I-A, who saw mankind becoming ever more decadent and complacent human civilization doomed by its ever-increasing dependence on robots. In one case, the hero is a throwback to a hardier and more naturalistic time. In the other, he is a creation of science sent to carry the message to the rest of humanity that Man must control his own destiny and carve out his own path, rather than become little more than an overfed herd of cattle tended by robots. Both heroes live and operate according to their own set of rules and are, because of this, considered outsiders and something of a threat to the established order of things.


In 1991, Jim Shooter obtained rights to three Gold Key characters: Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom; Turok, Son of Stone; and Magnus, Robot Fighter. He intended to use those characters to launch his new comic book line, Valiant Comics. Several months later, the company launched Magnus, Robot Fighter.

The series began where the original one left off. The artists took great care to replicate the setting and trappings of the original stories. But as the new series progressed, it began to deviate from the original concept. The term "Freewills" appeared in the Valiant run, introducing the concept that the rogue robots seen previously were not simply the product of random malfunctions, but were the result of a common phenomenon which allowed robots to become sentient. While some of them were malevolent, others merely wanted to be free. It was also learned that 1A was also a freewill. With Magnus's help, a colony of benevolent Freewills was established called the "Steel Nation." At the same time, Magnus became disgusted with North Am's elite. He journeyed to the lower levels of North Am and befriended a group of social outcasts known as Gophs.

As the series progressed, it was used to introduce other heroes to the Valiant Universe. In issue #5, a Japanese hero known as Rai began appearing in Magnus's title, and would eventually move on into his own series. In the sixth issue, the future version of Solar made his debut. The issue also introduced the spider aliens, who became a recurring threat throughout the Valiant Universe. In the 12th issue, modern readers were reintroduced to Turok, Son of Stone.


During the Unity crossover, it was revealed that Magnus was actually born during the Unity conflict. He was a child of a harbinger named Torque and a woman named Kris Hathaway. Geomancer Geoff McHenry sensed that someone like Magnus was needed in the future, so Solar transported the baby Magnus to the future, where he was picked up by the Solar from that time period and delivered to 1A. It was also revealed that Magnus's strength wasn't solely due to his martial arts training; rather, it was a harbinger ability inherited from his father.

The Malev War

Shortly after the Unity crossover, the future Earth was invaded by alien robots called Malevs directed by the giant brain, introduced in the original series, that encompassed the planet of Malev 6. This invasion forced all of the future heroes to band together. Their adventures were showcased in a spin-off title, Rai and the Future Force.

After the Malev War ended, all future titles jumped twenty years forward. Magnus became the leader of North Am. He married Leeja (his love interest since the original series) and had a son, whom he named Torque. Magnus spent the rest of the series battling various threats. During the Chaos Effect crossover, he was transported to the 20th century, but he eventually returned to the future.

Download Links:

Gold Key Magnus Robot Fighter #1

Valiant Magnus Robot Fighter complete series:

Bulk Pack 1

Bulk Pack 2

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Secrets Behind the Comics by Stan Lee (1947)

Thanks to Zen Tiger, here's one of the first how-to guides on the comic book industry

Download Link

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Adventures of Captain Marvel (Republic Pictures, 1941)

In the past, I've written about my long-time love for the genre of the cliff-hanger serial, and this example of the format I've always consider to the be the best of it.

From Wikipedia:

Adventures of Captain Marvel is a 1941 twelve-chapter film serial directed by John English and William Witney for Republic Pictures, adapted from the popular Captain Marvel comic book character then appearing in Fawcett Comics publications such as Whiz Comics and Captain Marvel Adventures. It starred Tom Tyler (who also played The Phantom) in the title role of Captain Marvel and Frank Coghlan Jr. as his alter ego, Billy Batson.

This serial was the twenty-first of the sixty-six serials produced by Republic and their first comic book adaptation (not counting comic strips such as Dick Tracy). Spy Smasher, also based on a Fawcett character, would follow in 1942.

This serial was the first film adaptation of a comic book superhero. That claim would have gone to the previous serial, Mysterious Doctor Satan, which was intended to have been a Superman serial until National Comics (now DC Comics) pulled out of negotiations. National Comics unsuccessfully attempted to sue Republic for producing a Captain Marvel serial.

The serial featured an adaptation of the Fawcett Comics superhero, placed within an original story in which he fights a criminal mastermind, called The Scorpion, who is determined to gain total control of a magical gold scorpion figurine. It is actually a disguised optical weapon of incredible power (including, but not limited to, melting rock via a projected death ray).

Billy Batson is an assistant radio operator with the Malcolm archaeological expedition to "the Valley of the Tombs" in Siam. The expedition is attacked by natives but Tal Chotali parleys with Rahman Bar. A sacred legend states no desecration will occur until the volcano, Scorpio, is active again. At the tombs, Billy refuses to enter the inner tomb as it would desecrate the religious beliefs of others. Instead he goes to pack pottery in another tunnel. In the inner tomb, Tal Chotali, Prof Malcolm, Prof Luthor Bentley, Dwight Fisher, and Dr Stephen Lang, find the Golden Scorpion. A ray from the Scorpion collapses the entrance to the tombs and opens a hidden passage between Billy and the ancient wizard Shazam. Shazam grants him the ability to

change into Captain Marvel in order to prevent the Golden Scorpion from falling into the wrong hands. It is his "duty to see that the curse of the Scorpion is not visited on innocent people."

The lenses from the Golden Scorpion are divided among the five scientists. Scorpio then erupts which triggers a native attack. However, the masked mystery villain the Scorpion is orchestrating it, stealing one of the lenses during the hostilities. The exped

ition is rescued by cavalry from Fort Mooltan. Captain Marvel then flies to a group of natives with a machine gun, knocks them out by throwing one at the other, and takes over the gun. Marvel then throws aside the gun and attacks with his bare fists. Marvel learns he is invulnerable as bullets bounce off his chest.

The expedition then returns to the United States, where the Scorpion attempts to acquire all of the lenses and the Scorpion device for his own power. Several expedition members are killed in his quest despite Captain Marvel's continual efforts to thwart the villain. Billy Batson soon decides that the man behind the Scorpion's mask is one of the team.

Eventually a second expedition sets out because it has been learned that Long ha

d actually hidden his lens in the tomb. The Scorpion witnesses Billy's change during this and captures him - tying him up and gagging him. The Scorpion interrogates Billy for the secret. When Billy agrees to tell him, The Scorpion removes the gag and Billy says "Shazam", which transforms him into Captain Marvel.

The Scorpion is then revealed to be Bentley. He is killed by the disillusioned native chief, Rahman Bar, who uses the Scorpion in death ray mode. Shazam himself is heard to say the magic word and Captain Marvel is transformed back into Billy Batson.

The exposure of the movie serial no doubt aided sales of the Captain Marvel magazines, and it is well-documented that for several years the character outsold Superman.

The original Captain Marvel comics, as a rule, did not absorb many elements of this serial, but there were some effects nonetheless. The characters of Betty Wallace and Whitey Murphy both appeared in the Fawcett comics for a while in the 1940s, and Whitey Murphy made at least one cameo appearance in the 1970s DC Comics incarnation of Captain Marvel.

A serialized two year story arc featuring Mr. Mind and the original Monster Society of Evil in Captain Marvel Adventures #22-#46 showed the influence and inspiration of the Adventures of Captain Marvel serial.[12] This two-year story arc was the first of its kind, and is regarded by comic book fans and historians as one of the milestones of the Golden Age of Comics.[13] In 1989, cartoonist Mike Higgs compiled this entire story arc into a hardcover limited edition collection. This book includes a photo of Tom Tyler as Captain Marvel, underscoring the linkage to this serial.[14]

Captain Marvel was the first super-powered and costumed comic strip hero to be filmed, and the first character exclusively created for comic books (as opposed to newspaper strips, such as Flash Gordon and Dick Tracy) to be filmed as well. Therefore, it fell upon The Adventures of Captain Marvel to prove that comic book heroes could be bankable movie properties. The release of the serial led to a long line of comic book super-hero serials, films, and television shows, which continues to this day.

Home video copies of this serial became commercially available in the 1990s, bringing it to a wider audience. The Scorpion weapon would reappear in the 1990s Power of Shazam comic book.

In 1994, comic book writer/artist Jerry Ordway introduced modern audiences to Captain Marvel with a long-form painted graphic novel, The Power of Shazam!, and an ongoing comic book series spin-off which ran from 1995 to 1999. Ordway used the Republic serial as his initial inspiration in his handling of the Captain Marvel characters, and the influence is evident in both the graphic novel and the series [15]: Captain Marvel's costume design was restored to the button-flap tunic version seen in early issues od Whiz Comics and this serial, and the Scorpion weapon from the film serial appears in several of the issues.

Screenwriter and B-movie producer Don Glut, a fan of the serial, would later go on to become a writer for the live-action Shazam! TV program, a popular 1970's adaptation of Captain Marvel. At least one episode of Shazam! featured outdoor shots of the famous Bronson Cave, which had been used for a memorable sequence in Adventures of Captain Marvel.


  1. "Curse of the Scorpion" (30 min.)
  2. "The Guillotine" (16 min.)
  3. "Time Bomb" (17 min.)
  4. "Death Takes the Wheel" (16 min.)
  5. "The Scorpion Strikes" (16 min.)
  6. "Lens of Death" (16 min.)
  7. Human Targets (17 min.)
  8. Boomerang (17 min.)
  9. "Dead Man's Trap" (16 min.)
  10. "Doom Ship" (16 min.)
  11. "Valley of Death" (16 min.)
  12. "Captain Marvel's Secret" (16 min.)

Warrior (Ultimate Creations, 1996)- The Worst Comic Book Of All Time?

Here's a slice of surreal pie from the former professional wrasslin' superstar, The Ultimate Warrior....

From Wikipedia:

Warrior was a comic book based on the Ultimate Warrior, starting in 1996. It was written by Warrior with art by Jim Callahan (Issues #1 through 3, Christmas Special) and The Sharp Brothers (issue #4).

The comics sold well in the first two months of their distribution, before sales plummeted and the comic was taken out of circulation in early 1997. The initial success of the comic and its ultimate failure is often attributed to the same things. There was also speculation that the reason the comic failed was because after the first two issuses Warrior decided that the publishing company was getting too much money. He then decided to publish and distribute it himself through his own website.

As a comic book, fans argued that WARRIOR was a failure: there were virtually no characters other than Warrior, little action, and considerably more text than the average comic (in the first issue, at least one entire page is nothing but text, with a small picture of Warrior in the corner).

The comic's most enduring issue, and the one which has received the most ridicule and is now worth the most money, is one of the final issues, which breaks away from the main storyline into a Christmas tale. The plot of the comic is hard to decipher, as it contains no dialogue, monologue, or text boxes. Inexplicably, Warrior attacks the North Pole, usurps Santa Claus' authority over the elves, and in the final frame, which gained the comic its enduring popularity, a sweaty Warrior forces Santa into bondage gear and poses beside him. The apparent sexual undertones, lack of an actual plot, and non-sequitur nature (nothing from the previous issue served to segue into the Santa attack issue) gained the comic cult popularity, especially on the internet. Though nothing sexually explicit is depicted in the comic, some fans have come to describe it as the "santa rape" issue; more commonly, it is referred to as "the one where Warrior puts Santa in bondage".

According to Warrior, six issues of the WARRIOR comic book were created, as well as a "Warrior Graphic Novel that revealed the story behind the creation of Warrior’s Comic Book Universe". However, only the first four issues of the comic were actually produced.

The comic was reviewed by The Spoony Experiment along with Linkara. In the video, it is depicted as the single worst comic in existence, dubbing it the "anti-comic". Spoony heavily criticized the comic's over-abundance of text, the odd and over-muscled artwork, and the lack of any clear storyline. However, the main source of criticism was the bizarre and unusual manner of grammar and speech. This ranged from poorly-written speeches on pseudo-philosophy, the invention of words such as "destrucity" and "foked", and too many ellipses in the dialogue.

Issue #2

Issue #3

Issue #4

The following YouTube video could probably serve as a pretty good trailer for the comic, because it makes about as much sense. Pretty much, Warrior was batshit insane.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The A-Team #1-#3 (Marvel Comics, 1984)

Being a long-time fan of Mr. T, it should come as no surprise that I actually own this little oddity from the 1980s...

Download Link

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Chilling Adventures in Sorcery (As Told By Sabrina) #1 & #2

Here's a short-lived odd 1972 attempt made by Archie Comics to do a horror anthology title, this time around hosted by Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. It's actually rather chilling and slightly disorienting to see straight horror tales being done in the classic Stan Goldberg/ Dan DeCarlo Archie "house" style...

(Thanks to Zen Tiger for these scans)

Issue #1

Issue #2