Sunday, June 29, 2014

Captain Marvel in Whiz Comics #3/4 (April, 1940)

"One day, Billy Batson receives an anonymous news tip." The eccentric Professor Xerxes Smith was planning to launch a rocket ship to Venus from his home in Belair. Clearly not in access to the Wisdom of Solomon, Billy wants to join the trip, and has to pester the professor to get a ride. That's not to mention how, aside from his wildly bushy black beard, Professor Smith bore a remarkable resemblance to Captain Marvel's archfoe Sivana.

Thirty million miles later, the pair were attacked by a fuchsia Venusian dragon, prompting Billy to call "SHAZAM!" Did he do this from hiding or in plain sight, and how did he know Shazam's power even reached Venus? Worst answers apply. Next, a giant eagle dropped an egg loaded with vicious little monsters near Captain Marvel, so he uprooted a tree and literally swept the things away. Finally, gigantic frogs wearing dhoti and dunce caps sprang out of the forest to capture the Earthlings. They were taken to the veiled Empress of Venus, Queen Beautia, who was revealed to be in cahoots with the disguised Sivana. Captain Marvel was securely fastened to 50-ton weights by the frogs, marking one of the most obscure bondage fetishes known to man.

Beautia unveiled before Captain Marvel, hoping to make him her Emperor of America, but he refused through his incredible strength of chastity. The peeved Beautia climbed into Sivana's rocket for the seeming downgrade of conquering America (and as an afterthought, the rest of Earth,) leaving Marvel to be licked to death in the second weirdest fetish of the story. The power of Shazam finally allowed our boy to break free to beat up all his freaky captors. Finally, that Wisdom of Solomon kicked in, allowing Captain Marvel to design and build his own rocket and escape from an erupting volcano. Come to think of it, Venus is a really crappy planet, so no wonder Empress of America seemed a better deal. Captain Marvel nailed a perfect landing near the wreckage of Sivana's ship in suburban Belair, but his foes were nowhere to be found.

A week later, Billy Batson was covering the "Empress of Beauty" contest, and saw something that made his antennae twitch. Beautia entered and won the pageant with Sivana's coaching. After yet another letter demanding the immediate resignation of the President of the United States went unanswered, a furious Sivana tried to unleash a paralyzing gas to enslave "every man, woman and child" in the nation. Captain Marvel arrived in time to beat up the goons turning the solitary valve intended to meet this end, but in the confusion, Sivana and Beautia escaped. The "Empress of Beauty" trophy was left behind with a note attached that continued the flirtation with the blushing Captain Marvel.

The April, 1940 issue of Whiz Comics was numbered 3 on the cover, 4 in the indicia. "Make Way For Captain Marvel," was written by Bill Parker and drawn by C.C. Beck with Pete Costanza

Monday, June 2, 2014

2014 Blue Beetle and Booster Gold Comicpalooza convention sketch by Nyssa Juneau

This is a detail from a "jam" piece involving many disparate artists and subjects. An unrelated image has been blacked out from this spotlight. Nice couple of figures for an excellent price that helped flesh things out. I especially like how she did Ted's goggles, a foreign interpretation that I appreciate.


Sunday, May 4, 2014

Steel in Super-Team Family: The Lost Issues

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I'm very fond of John Henry Irons, and remain disappointed in myself for not managing to get more Steel content on this blog (or, y'know, any content at all sometimes.) The blogger Ross at least has kept the guy busy in his series of fan fiction team-ups, with handy links below. I've long felt that Steel is like a calculated amalgamation of the "Big 3" Avengers, so I kind of wish there was a Captain America appearance in that list. Against Iron Man and Thor, Steel has a lot more of a problem with measuring up than he might in a frontal assault against the Star-Spangled Avenger...

...More Lost Team-Up Issues...

Friday, April 18, 2014

2011 Big Barda art by Simon Fraser

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Or, if you prefer, some Power Girl.

Simon Fraser

Thursday, March 27, 2014

2013 Animated Style Power Girl and Huntress commission art by Eric Guzman

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Eric Guzman

Thursday, March 13, 2014

2013 Steel “We Can Be Heroes: Sturdy” silhouette by Steve Garcia

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"He's underrated. Dude is like if Superman, Iron Man, and Thor had a baby. And he was black."
“We Can Be Heroes”

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sunday, January 26, 2014

2012 Strong Suits: Superhero Playing Cards Plastic Man art by Craig Bostick

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"I’m working on a personal project, illustrating a deck of playing cards using characters found in DC comics between 1957-1967 — the height of the kitschy Silver Age of comics. I’ll be posting one illustration every weekday for 11 weeks, which will take us just about until the end of May. 55 posts = 52 regular cards, 2 jokers, and the design for the back of the cards. It’s an ambitious project for sure and I welcome any feedback and constructive criticism."
Craig Bostick

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 DCU Movie Fan Casting: Vincent Kartheiser as Captain Comet

I'm quite fond of Adam Blake, but as with the Justice Society of America, Captain Comet is a concept that works best within the context of a specific point in history. He was the most evolved man as envisioned by the 1950s-- super intelligent telepathic/telekinetic spacefarer. Starlords are a dime a dozen in comics, but the tinny atomic age spaceman flavor of Captain Comet set him apart. Guys like Adam Blake were in, but those special powers that set him apart did not secure him sales. He was fading out as super-heroes were strolling in, and even if those powers gave him entry into the long underwear set as a 1970s revival, his roots in mid-century sci-fi simultaneously distanced him. In a world with Superman and Luke Skywalker, what place is there for Adam Blake?

It reminds me of poor Pete Campbell, who having taken on the American James Bond and failing miserably, had to make due with being as Pete Campbell as he could be. However, Vincent Kartheiser is not Pete, even if typecasting might begin telling us otherwise. Kartheiser seems like a rather cool, humble, intelligent guy, as far from Pete as game goofball Jon Hamm is from the vicious, petty, manipulative Don Draper. I wanted an atypical actor for the role of Adam Blake-- someone who could stand out more for his mental prowess and a unique aura than his time in the gym. Evoking the McCarthy era through ongoing if indirect association wouldn't hurt. Kartheiser is a handsome guy when not playing up his dorkiness, but even his receding hairline evokes Blake's original looks and abilities. In a world where Henry Cavill is our Superman, I think a lot of us would rather cleave Captain Comet to our nerdy, doughy breast.

Regardless, you know Ken Cosgrove is just going to come riding in on a Zeta Beam with his jetpack and raygun to steal the show.

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting
  • Donna Troy @ Diana Prince is the New Wonder Woman
  • Vibe @ Justice League Detroit
  • Nightshade @ Power of the Atom
  • Zook @ The Idol-Head of Diabolu

Friday, December 20, 2013

2013 DCU Movie Fan Casting: D.B. Woodside as Steel (John Henry Irons)

John Henry Irons is one of my favorite DC characters, but there's some hard facts to deal with. Steel is the token black member of the Superman Family who basically combines low rent versions of Iron Man and Thor. He already had his own movie, starring Shaquille O'Neal, which was one of the worst super-hero flicks of all time. His highest aspiration would be to become the Rhodey of the Man of Steel franchise. There are more independent and iconic African/American heroes to get big "names," but I'd really like a good actor for this role. D.B. Woodside is 6'3", well built, and has genre cred from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. More importantly, the actor radiates intelligence and a quiet confidence that suits the technological brains behind the Morrison JLA and Christopher Priest's greatest run in comics.

Diabolic Movie Fan Casting

Sunday, December 15, 2013

2013 “139 Amanda Waller” by ColourOnly85

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I have an easier time recognizing "The Wall" in this minimalist extreme close-up than I do her appearances in New 52 comics.

I Want to be Evil

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Justice #12 (August, 2007)

Superman whined to himself about how he wished someone else was Superman, and how he's responsible for what happens to every bullet that bounces off his chest, and oh do cry us a river Man of Steel. No wonder so many people find you unsympathetic. Superman did this while smashing up the Toyman's city of malevolent playthings as the script writer caption box monologued like a low rent Alan Moore just as hard as he could, bless his heart. The physical Toyman was found to be a shirtless unkempt chubby geek overrun with Brainiac's nanotech who was obsessed with saving the children of the world in a vaguely pedo way, which is about as insightful as pointing out that wool is itchy, but the junior college will cash your Creative Writing 101 tuition check all the same. Finally, Toyman revealed how many nuclear warheads Brainiac had taken control of: "All of them." So money! So, so money!

Superman then flew to Scarecrow's city, where Green Lantern Hal Jordan handled citizens driven mad with fear. Yes fear. Will, against fear. Got it? This prompted Scarecrow to run away into a sewer... where the Joker happened to be lurking... dressed as Bela Lugosi's Dracula... and proceeded to bite his "Super Friend" on the neck for leaving him out of the Legion of Doom. META TEXT! Joker needs plastic fangs! META TEXT! Joker needs plastic fangs! META TEXT! Joker needs plastic fangs! META TEXT! Joker needs plastic fangs!

The Marvel Family flew the innocents out of Toyman's city atop a giant, er, top. Stretching men Plastic and Elongated were also essential for evacuations elsewhere. Most of the characters featured in the mini-series remained visible doing obligatory background stuff like that without contributing to the primary narrative. Lex Luthor was the main person responsible for finally corralling Brainiac, while others halted the doomsday missiles he'd launched. Zatanna was key to getting Superman to Brainiac over and over again, who was captured almost as an afterthought, and its not like his plan hadn't already been foiled. Basically, Superman was only around to rescue Zee after she was imperiled by the final leg of the pursuit. Later, the Man of Steel gave a frozen, miniaturized Brainiac to the Kandorian Museum. Batman-- get this-- Batman insinuates that this very capital-I IMPORTANT vanity project adventure might have been the first step toward lasting world peace, and it's insinuated that it leads to the utopic future of the Legion of Super-Heroes, including a gratuitous two-page spread.

The extra long, extra torturous final "Chapter Twelve" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite. None of these men have any share or even self-awareness.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts:

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Justice #11 (June, 2007)

Hal Jordan waxed philosophical about his foe Sinestro while providing narration for this issue. "Thanks to Sinestro, I was given a taste of what it would be like to rule everything. Thanks to my enemy, I will now never become anything like him... I don't need to be the greatest anything anymore. I just want to help my friends. And my world." I'm not sure if that was meant as a rebuttal against "Emerald Twilight" or if it reinforced it. All in all, it would really only take another random blow to the head to send Hal off in any given direction anyway.

The big siege progressed. Metallo tore apart Platinum while the Man of Lead continued fighting Black Adam. Parasite decided that he needed to "end this," so he grabbed Adam's foot to steal his powers, then swiped the kryptonite heart out of Metallo. Bizarro was grappling with the Man of Lead, affording Parasite the opportunity to rip through "Superman's suit" to discover Lead had actually helped to conceal Captain Marvel. The power of Shazam slammed Bizarro into Parasite, then the Big Red Cheese gave Hal Jordan the order. Iron's armor over Jordan had concealed the fact that Hal was wielding Sinestro's lost spare yellow power ring (that had been lent to Grodd but stolen by Metamorpho) through a filter of blue kryptonite. The blue K immediately took out Bizarro, while Captain Marvel crushed the piece of green K Metallo thrived on.

Ross had fixed the incorrect Platinum symbol on Plastic Man's armor to shift it to Tin, but it was never explained how Gold could pretend to be Green Arrow and cover Superman at the same time. Anyway, the shiny gold mummy quasi-Shazam Superman was attacked by the Parasite. Black Adam thought Captain Marvel liked seeing him weakened, but Billy was too innocent to enjoy another's suffering, though he was willing to choke Adam until he said the magic word. The ensuing lightning bolt conveniently struck Parasite on its way to removing Adam's powers. Plastic Man contained the Riddler in his fleshy mass while Tin (absent his familiar stutter) separated to cage Parasite. It seemed from his demonstrated pomposity that Ross and company had confused Tin with Mercury, who the Flash was still wearing, at least until he was used to gag Teth-Adam.

Green Arrow had delivered Hal Jordan's power ring to John Stewart, who by the spoken narrative grace of Jordan had been allowed access to Hal's incredible power as Green Lantern to free the teenage super-heroes from the control of Brainiac's nanotechnological worms. The same tech briefly retook the Leaguers made vulnerable by their release from the Metal Men "armor," but John Stewart promptly liberated them. Hal Jordan is so awesome for allowing his Negro acquaintance to save the day (but not allowing him any lines of his own, heaven forbidding such impropriety.)

Yellow Lantern Hal Jordan continued to match Sinestro with the same type of power ring, openly acknowledging that should he falter, John Stewart and the Justice League would surely avenge him. In response, Sinestro offered the scintillating bon mot "Shut up. Shut Up. Shut-the-hell-up!" Does Korugar even have a concept of Hell? When in doubt while writing Green Lantern dialogue, always try to hear Nathan Fillion saying Hal lines and Vincent Price saying Sinestro ones. Jordan and Sinestro tapped out their power source and switched up to mano-a-mano. Jordan beat Sinestro bloody, claiming that it was not vengeance he sought, but justice. Then both men fell through the top of a black city-sphere, and John Stewart apparently laughed off-panel as he returned Jordan's power ring so he could save himself and Sinestro.

The villains present on the main scene were either shut down by force or through the disabling of Brainiac's influence. That left the previously hostage supporting casts to mingle with their heroes, or in John Stewart's case, to get stuck with Tom "Pieface" Kalmaku, Carol Ferris, and Hal's brothers. The Flash and Iris West had a sweet if inhibited WASP pseudo-embrace, while Superman and Lois Lane had a big ol' sloppy wet P.D.A. Supergirl looked on from a distance as Lana Lang and Jimmy Olsen milled about. Captain Marvel was oddly separated from Mary and Junior, preferring Zatanna's company (though who wouldn't?) Rita Farr held Robotman's brutally battered severed head.

The Super Friends followed Brainiac to Toyman's world, where Superman took the fight deep into the heart while everyone else tore apart duplicates of Brainiac in a somehow self-serious spread. Zatanna then teleported everyone but Superman to Scarecrow's creepy 19th century European faux city, though Green Lantern proved capable of taking it all on his own. The Indian girl from last issue was there, and her hands were already starting to hurt...

"Chapter Eleven" was plotted and painted by Alex Ross. The script was provided by Jim Krueger, and the penciled layouts by Doug Braithwaite. After wasting all those early issues on individual attacks and a couple on the back end on big fights, these guys are having a heck of a time trying to tie the plot threads together. At least Elasti-Girl is consistently prominent in the crowd scenes, thanks to her stature.

Continue the story through these character-specific posts: