Friday, April 25, 2008

The Eagle and Buddy the Daredevil Boy!

From Weird Comics #15, meet the Golden Age's shirtless anvil-smacker The Eagle and his Daisy-Duke clad teenage "ward" Buddy the Daredevil Boy. Another Obscure '40's misfit bound to be sumptuously painted by Alex Ross sometime in the next year or two, The Eagle soaked his cape in anti-gravitation fluid and took to the skies in pursuit of googly-eyed amputees, as you'll see when you read "The Beast and the Blindness Formula"

Right off the bat, I'm baffled here. If he pours the anti-gravity formula on his cape, shouldn't the cape just fly up by itself and, well, hang him? That would be cool.

Wealthy young scientist Bill Powers is apparently wealthy enough to have a big house, a butler, and a full-time rent boy, so he's probably just pissed that he didn't get in on some of that sweet blindness formula action for himself.

So the Eagle soaks his cape in anti gravity formula...before driving to the scene of the crime. No doubt sitting on the damp cape the whole way! Brilliant! Maybe he has to sit on the cape to keep it from flying off and strangling him...

Yeah, this one's for the ladies and some of the fellas. Feast your eyes on those pasty, doughy pecs and that rippling 1 1/2 pack! Duh-roool. Never let it be said that Again With the Comics skimps on the beefcake, folks!

Brace yourself for the greatest thing ever:

Wham! And so a doughball falls. It's surprising more villains didn't try hit and run, but then most superheroes -especially those named after fucking birds- would fly.

Bring out the Gimp:

The great thing about the Golden Age was that you could look like Marty Feldman with a garden rake for a hand, or be a bald jerk with a giant exacto knife for a prosthetic leg and be considered a major threat. Also, apparently having artificial limbs makes you EVIL.

"Let's see if you bounce!" Damn, that is cold-blooded. Uh, you know, that and the whole pitchfork-in-the-chest thing. It pretty much devolves into an orgy of pudgy shirtless violence from here on out, so I'll stifle it for now and let the story speak for itself:

Finally, finally, the Eagle sort of flies. More like "lunges" or "wafts', really. Ironically one good crack to the nut with an anvil is all it takes to put the Beast out of his misery. It's surprising really, just how many problems a well placed anvil blow can solve. But I digress...

There was actually a lot of crude charm in this goofy old strip, and I kind of liked it, for all I'm mocking it. The first page is credited to Lester Raye, but I can find nothing about him online, and my usual source for this sort of thing, the Grand Comic Database has nothing on him.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If This Doesn't Stop You, Nothing Will!

Monday, April 21, 2008

My Secret Lair

I know things have been kinda lean around here lately, folks, but the blog has taken a backseat for my latest project. Deep within the bowels of the Earth a new secret headquarters for combating evil worldwide is taking shape. Would you believe a grown ass man's room full of toys and funnybooks? About 15 years ago, I purchased a new mobile home (shut up) and had a roommate in one room and all my crap in the other. I kept my comics, my toys, my statues, and my Simpsons figures in there, along with a few bookshelves. Eventually, I got married, we had the boy, and we had to move into a house. The new house was bigger, but with an unfinished basement. My collections all ended up in storage, and I've longed to once again have one big room for all my wonderful, wonderful toys again. Over the last few weeks, thanks to the magic of equity, I'm getting my trophy room. The floor space will be family room, with grazing area fort the l'il maniac, of course, but the wall decor is gonna be 100% awesome. We've also been drowning in books, so I'm going to be moving my secret library of forbidden knowledge to the stronghold.

Posting may be sparser, but hey, I'm distracted. I've been doing a lot of the work myself, so its been pretty time consuming. I'll be posting pictures when it's all done, be assured.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Best News Out of NYCC

I've been reading the news from the New York Comicon, and I didn't want to let this bit of good news pass by unremarked. The Gordon Lee case has been dismissed.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Got No PEP

I'm swamped, folks. The best I can offer are these wacky old PEP covers I dug up. I really like the cartooning in the older Archies, and these UFO and fantasy-themed covers from 1962 are pretty funny. Archie Comics was never shy about exploiting popular fads, and '62 was a year when futuristic and science-fictional concepts loomed large in the public consciousness, so a saucer invasion of Riverdale was probably inevitable. Plus ghosts.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Weird Mummy Detective Stories

A long forgotten Golden Age character, Ace Bandage: Mummy P.I. was the victim of a curse that bonded his form with that of an ancient Egyptian mummy; a mummy wrapped in Justice, as it turned out. A licensed investigator, Bandage conducted all of his cases from the confines of his wrappings and sarcophagus, wheeled around on a modified hand truck by his freakish and nauseating assistant Insidria Outre, the inside-out girl. Despite the seemingly universal appeal of a mummy wielding blazing .45's of vengeance, the strip only ran from Weird Comics issues 2-5, shedding readers at an historical rate before being cut to make way for the even more unpopular Hat Master: Master of One Thousand and One Hats.*

*Note: The preceding is bull shit. The Author is a drunk, and should be ignored.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Steve Ditko's Secret Invasion

As long as Marvel's being overrun with Skrulls, how about a look at an Atlas-era Secret invasion? I've been reading Marvel Milestones vol. 68, Atlas Era Tales of Suspense, and especially digging on the vintage Steve Ditko art in several stories. I haven't really given Ditko his props around here, but the man was a true great. His off-kilter and unique art style has been a constant in my comics reading career, and while I can't say I've loved everything he's done, I've greatly admired his work and career. I've noticed that you don't see many Ditko copycats among lesser artists, as the man's very personal style is daunting to duplicate. All that said, I do tend to prefer his earlier work, and consider his '50's and '60's work to be some of his best. Here then, is "I Am The Changing Man!", a tale of green-skinned shape shifters attempting a strategic infiltration of the human race!

So back to the Skrulls. I've noticed that the timing is right for the Dethians to be possible prototypes for the similarly green-skinned shapechanging Skrulls. In fact, I'll propose that the Dethians rethought their whole strategy, reinvented themselves, and became the much-better-named Skrulls, who attacked Earth next in Fantastic Four #2 (1962). Where they were...tricked into running away from comic book panels. Anyway, that's my theory.

"I Am The Changing Man!"
Originally printed in Tales of Suspense #8, March 1960
Script: Unknown, but c'mon...Ozak? Les Gage?? Gotta be Ditko...
Art: Steve Ditko

Monday, April 07, 2008

Totems: The Justice League of Dementia

Anyone remember Totems? A one-shot published by DC's Vertigo imprint, Totems was published in 2000, and was designed as a "reunion show" of sorts for Vertigo's earliest stars, most of whom were exports from the DCU. I find it interesting, as it is the closest Vertigo has come to having its own super-team.

The story is narrated by and focused on Bernie Madden, a nutty conspiracy theorist who begins the tale by sneaking into his old home to barge in on his ex and her new husband in their bed. Dave jumps out of bed, but Bernie pulls a gun and instructs the two to stay put. We learn that Bernie has been obsessed for years with strange phenomena and conspiracies, to the point that it ruined his marriage. Bernie explains that clues and sightings had led him to believe that things were building to a millennial event, and that he It wanted to have a ringside seat for the big event:

Bernie learned that John Constantine would be holding a New Years party with all his Vertigo pals, so he managed to get a gig as a waiter at the big bash. He attaches himself to a group of his idols, including Animal Man, Cliff Steele, Shade, and Black Orchid and proceeds to badger them with annoying questions while markedly not bringing them drinks. Constantine is spectacularly drunk nearby. Eventually, Swamp Thing arrives:

I don't really consider myself a Swamp thing aficionado, per se, but I do have the entire Alan Moore, Rick Veitch, and Mark Millar runs in my collection, so apparently I am a fan of the big guy. That said, I think his time in the Vertigo stable has long since expired. Swampy's been "dark horrored" to death, and should be returned the DC Universe ASAP.

Oh yeah, the story. Bernie somehow talks all these fantastically powerful beings into ringing in the new millennium by joining hands and bridging the elements:

Bernie's big hippy-dippy Y2K mind meld ends up going wrong, and as midnight and millennium arrive, the whole city before them is transformed into a nightmare of red skies, mystic pyramids, and time tossed future/past weirdness. In other words, just the ingredients needed for a super team origin:

This patchwork future turns out to be toxic to Swamp Thing, so Animal Man and Black Orchid set out to find and help him. Robotman and Shade stay behind to fight off the aliens and laser-wielding Egyptian warriors:

Totems is full of Cliff Steele being awesome. Morrison and Case's Doom Patrol is one of my all time favorite series, and his put-upon everyman Cliff Steele became a favorite character. It is also my humble opinion that Robotman was at his best when he was allowed to swear profusely.

Then we return to Swamp Thing, Black Orchid and Animal Man:

Animal Man was my introduction to Grant Morrison, and a great, mind-bending series it was. but after the switch to Vertigo, Morrison was long gone, and somehow, Buddy Baker became an eco-terrorist hippie anarchist, eventually turning into an animal monster, and...well, it was really weird, lets leave it at that. I was glad to see Animal Man returned to "normal". Of course, Buddy and Black Orchid soon figure out how to save Swamp Thing, and rejoin the others back in the city.

Long story short, Bernie was the problem all along. By plugging himself into the ceremony earlier, his obsessions became manifest and zapped New York with Vertigo blah-de-blah. Bernie was basically a colossal fuck-up, as we see, and became obsessed with the weird stuff almost immediately after his wife became pregnant. The UFO whackadoo lifestyle was his way of avoiding responsibility and change. The gathered elementals then join hands and fix the warped reality:

The crisis ends and the big players vanish back to their realms and lives. Mr. Steele, appropriately, gets in the last word:

Dave opens the window, and the world is normal. The millennium has come and gone, and Bernie has to face his failures. Bernie doesn't shoot anyone, and at the conclusion, he's decided to get a life. Given the unreliable narrator, we're left uncertain if any of this "really happened" but I have to wonder what would have happened if this issue had been a breakout smash hit. Would we have gotten a Totems ongoing? Or maybe they would have gotten a real team name, like "Absurdity Inc" or "The Impossibles".

These days, Vertigo has shed itself of most of these characters. Hellblazer continues uninterrupted, and every so often, they give Swamp Thing another go, but Animal Man, Robotman, and Black Orchid have returned to the DC Universe. Shade is nowhere to be found these days, but is probably due to be exhumed any time now.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Archie Versus Sanity

Archie Comics have spent the last sixty-whatever years cranking out tale after tale after tale of Archie and the Riverdale gang living their unchanging lives, endlessly attending Riverdale High, and generally doing the same 'ol shit they've been doing for centuries now. That's not to say they never get adventurous. Some of their more obscure spinoffs and licenses teeter on the very edge of madness.

Case in point: the Spire line of Archie Christian Comics. I've read several of these via the childhood friend I've mentioned before, and they are koo-koo. Whereas Archie and the gang never mentioned religion in the regular comics, in these, it's all they talk about. Well, via ham-handed parables, anyway. Add the overly effusive art of Al Harley, and these are downright surreal.

Of course, Archie has walked on the spandex side, as Pureheart the Powerful, an apparently popular subseries that started during the '60's camp craze and continues to this day:

I'm not sure why fad-chasing Archie Comics would want to rip off DC's perennially unpopular Challengers of the Unknown, but the evidence speaks for itself:

Then there are a few for which I words. Super-Mister Weatherbee? The RC Dominator?? On the other hand, a gratuitous Abe Lincoln cameo is always welcome:

Finally, Archie and Jughead's strangest journey ever, the advent of middle Age. I saw "To Riverdale and Back Again" when it was on TV originally, and the main thing I remember was a whiny, nebbish of a divorced Jughead. It was pretty weird.

All covers culled from the Grand Comic Database.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Red Hulk versus A-Bomb

Okay, this one's for my boy, who's been pestering me about when Hulk #3 will be out. He's been obsessed with the Hulk since we picked up a copy of Hulk #2, where he immediately took to the new Red Hulk and A-Bomb. I myself am not particularly impressed with the story, but I have to admit, Ed McGuinness draws the hell out of some rampaging behemoths. Marvel's target audience probably should be six-year olds though, and if thats the case, they hit the nail on the head with Red Hulk. I recently spent one futile evening supervising as he Googled "red hulk versus A-bomb" and variations to no avail. Well, here ya go, kid: RED HULK VERSUS A-BOMB!