Monday, May 31, 2010

Manic Memorial Monday--Stand. Your. Ground. (A Slight Reprise)

As a lazy way out for a holiday, allow me to present a lousy stinking re-run of a post from January 2008, wherein we see my absolute favorite Captain America moment ever.

Bonus: the story was written by Geoff Johns, well before he became DC's savior/superstar. The issue has no dismemberment, no characters skinned alive or vomiting blood. Remember those days, Geoff, when you could write great stories based on the characters, and not have to rely on hyper-violence and gore for shock value? Seriously, his Avengers run was pretty good...


Since we're now less than three weeks away from the debut of the new Captain America, I figure that this a good opportunity to present my favorite Captain America moment EVER.

Setting the scene: 2003 (our time). In the Eastern European nation of Slokovia, a movement worshipping Thor and Asgard has taken hold among the populace. The ruling junta doesn't like this, and targets the Thor followers for genocide. They pray to Thor for help, and he brings down the host of Asgard.

To counter, the junta buys a lot of advanced weaponry from Dr. Doom (Protip: don't do this, small countries). All the surrounding countries are getting nervous, as are the US and Russia. Doom is using his ability to remotely control the weapons to ratchet up the situation. The Pentagon sends Iron Man in to intercede with Thor, but America has troops massed at the border in case that fails. Russia has bombers in the air, with orders to blow up everybody if the US gets involved. World War III is imminent, as Doom chuckles. And it's all up to Cap to prevent it:

Sort of like your District Manager showing up on inventory day

OK, who has more experience here...?


My soul just saluted

Like waiting for the American Idol voting

Damn right!Ladies and gentleman, that is Captain Freakin' America.

Geoff Johns and Alan Davis show us who wears the pants in the U.S. military in Avengers #63 (or 478, whatever floats your boat), 2003.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Holiday Hijinks

In Sub-Mariner Comics #35 (1954), some commie bastards have framed the Human Torch and Toro for a string of jewel heists. Which leads to this particular shot, which is probably going to be on the front page of every tabloid that night:

Oh, dear.

The practically naked adolescent, the skin-tight red jumpsuit, the look of surprise and shame on the perps' faces, the disapproving cop, the handcuffs...

Of course, it's stunningly immature and lazy to use hindsight to mock allegedly homoerotic comic panels from the past. But hey, it's a holiday, so let's give it a try:

OK enough. But if you want to play along, here's the blank panel for you guys to play with. Because nothing says Memorial Day Weekend like making Frederic Wertham roll in his grave!!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

What The #$%^??--Half Empty, Half Full, Or Half On Fire?!?

From Jim Hammond, android superhero of WWII, to Johnny Storm, modern day holder of the title, The Human Torch has always used this phrase to light himself afire:

Wha' the?!?

"Half-Flame On"?!?!?!?!

In Sub-Mariner Comics #35 (1954), some commie ratfinks have captured the Torch and Toro. To prevent them from escaping, they tie them up to some "old ladies"--our heroes can't burn their way out of the ropes without roasting the GILFs:

But those reprobate Reds didn't count on Hammond's special android abilities:


**Johnny Storm, of course, can "flame on" specific body parts--lighting up just his hand, for example, or having his whole body afire except his arms so he can carry someone. Apparently, Toro has tried to replicate this, but failed. Androids 1, Cosmic rays 1, Mutants 0.

**If the Torch can do that with his back half, there are some high quality fraternity hijinks that leap to mind...

**Does he really have to say "Half-Flame On?" Man, that sounds lame. What if he wants to do just his arm? "Quarter-Flame On?"

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Namor And The Black Lagoon

I know I've been wallowing in 1950s Marvel/Atlas reprints lately, but dude--when the quarter bin giveth, you've got to respond, you know?

Anyway, one of the most interesting things about that (very) brief attempt to revive super-heroes is the design of some of the monsters. In between fighting an inexhaustible number of communist agents, Cap & the Torch & Namor fought some really cool-for-the-era monsters. A couple of days ago I showed you the Torch & Toro taking on the terror of the Un-Human.

Today we're going to see the Sub-Mariner taking on one of the most original monsters ever:

Uh, wait a minute...this guy looks kind of familiar:

Let's look again...comic book:


Well, surely this was just a coincidence, right? There's only so many underwater monster designs, and...

The Creature From The Black Lagoon premiered March 5, 1954.

This story appeared in Sub-Mariner Comics #35, cover dated August 1954. Which means it probably hit the stands in June of 1954, which means writer/artist Bill Everett probably drew this sucker in April or May of 1954.


OK, so Everett "homaged" a recent movie monster to fight Namor. But really, this guy was substantially different than the Creature:

His name was Elmer...

He was afraid of water...

And in later panels of the story, it's pretty clear that Elmer was hitting the all-you-can-eat fish taco bar a little too much:

Oh, yeah, the point of the whole story: an evil scientist (who looked nothing at all like Dr. Sivana) was trying to create an amphibious race of men:

So, just to be clear--he couldn't get them to breath underwater, or even swim--but he could sure as hell make them LOOK amphibious!! That's Golden Age Science for you!

Anyway, this story showed pretty clearly how to defeat the Creature From The Black Lagoon Elmer: wait until he picks up a box of nitroglycerin, then blast him out the window with a fire hose:

Yipe indeed!!

This story was reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes #16 (1968).

Quote Of The Week: My Codename Is Still Dumbass

A couple of weeks ago, I awarded James Robinson and Sterling Gates "Quote Of The Week" for their amazing inept dialogue in Amazons Attack War Of The Supermen #2. You remember, "Obviously, with the codename 'Assassin,' I've killed more people than I can recall." Classic.

Still, anyone can have an off week, right? Right?

From Amazons Attack War Of The Supermen #4:

Again, please:

So this is Robinson & Gates' idea of good characterization: have this lame ass guy keep repeating his name, and keep emphasizing that it's also his job description. Again and again.

I can just imagine him in school: "Of course I failed my math test. My name is Codename: Assassin. I'm good at killing, not trigonometry!"

Wow, that dialogue really does write itself...

Special bonus points go to this quote needlessly taking up room in the issue while Superwoman is beaten off-panel, Atlas is beaten off-panel, and 99% of the Kryptonians are beaten/killed off-panel. But hey, why let the actual story you've been setting up for years get in the way of sparkling dialogue from a third-rate character, right??

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Really Drove 1950s Captain America Crazy

It's 1954, and faux-Cap and faux-Bucky have just stopped some commie spies from stealing the "firing pin" to the new "atomic cannon." How do they celebrate? and cover? Bunkers? Protective eyewear? Lead codpieces?

I'm just sayin', that much radiation is probably what drove him nuts...he's already showing the effects with that little speech...

From Young Men #25 (1953), as reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes #13 (1968).

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More Un-Human Than Un-Human

You know, alien invaders aren't all they're cracked up to be.

First, there's their method of announcing the conquest:

See, I didn't know that when they come, they will drop leaflets from the sky and "parachute" monsters down on to us. Geez, guys, low tech much?

Plus, "Comrade X" of the "Red Planet"?? We get it guys...and the commies couldn't even rule one country successfully, so I don't think the "Red Planet" in much to be afraid of.

But the Un-Human?? Who is this astro-creep??

Wow, that is pretty un-human. 8 heads? 4 legs with claws instead of feet? Hairy AND scaly? And the worst part?

Just like every early Hal Jordan story had him facing someone yellow, or with an infra-yellow aura, or yellow fog, or drinking Mello Yello, so too the original Human Torch also seemed to be facing dudes who were fireproof. What's the point of even having powers, man?

So, the Un-Human is tearing up the city...

...when Toro learns that maybe cavorting about in nothing but a speedo is a bad idea:

Great, a poison tongue, too! The Torch takes Toro to Doctor ShoutsTooMuch:

He's standing right next to you, Doc...

But, of course, the Torch has got to stop the monster first. So he takes a "jug" of chloroform from the doctor, and...

Down goes the Un-Human!! Down goes the Un-Human!!

You know, that was a pretty easy takedown of a monster who was supposed to destroy all humans on Earth. really, it didn't even require anyone with super powers.

The Torch rushes off to get Toro his transfusion--because despite being an android, only his blood will do--and all is well. But...

In this quick little 5-pager, we never establish what the final fate of the Un-Human was. Sure, the police could "chain him up" and "finish him with gas." But we never see that...and surely the military or the feds would step in. Would they kill the Un-Human? Or keep him for study, or to turn into their own weapon...?

And we never find out about the response of Comrade X from the Red Planet. He promised to return--where is he?!? Did they ever find out their master monster was a wuss? Did they just give up...or are they plotting revenge, with a bigger, even more un-human Un-Human II?!?

So that's my gift to Marvel this week: a handy-dandy story idea. Bring back the Un-Human, escaped from secret government labs. Bring back Comrade X, to drop more leaflets. This would be a bonzo story for Atlas, or MI-13, or the Fantastic Four. Or the Inhumans vs. the Un-Human!!

Think about it, Marvel, won't you??

By the way, interesting story about this story. According to GCD, when Marvel picked this story to run in Marvel Super-Heroes #16 (1968), they assumed it was a reprint of a 1950s Torch tale. But really, it had never before been published!! Must have been put in a drawer or something when Marvel/Atlas' all-too brief attempt to resurrect their super-heroes in 1953-54 died. So an "all-new" Stan Lee/Dick Ayers story was published as a reprint, debuting 14 years after it was written and drawn. That's pretty cool.

(Unless, of course, the miltary-industrial complex, trying to hide their perfidy in seizing the Un-Human for their own uncouth experimentation, forced Atlas to can the story, and Atlas just canceled the rest of their super-heroes as a cover...hmmmm....)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Manic Monday--Holy Pickled Penguins!!

You know, a lot of you youths out there might be thinking of Burt Ward and Batman '66 when you read the title of today's post.

Silly rabbits. The true, undisputed master of this type of expression was Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Just take a look at the Excited Exclamations Of Namor:

So, let's hope that if we ever get a Namor movie, the scriptwriters remember this charming aspect of Namor's personality.

Panels taken from, in no particular order,
Sub-Mariner Comics #35, 38, & 40 (1954-1955), as reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes #13, 16, 17 & 20 (1968-1969)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Fourth Member--WHO?!?!?!

When last we checked in with the Frightful Four, they finally made a change. Instead of recruiting some unknown for their final spot, they actually went out and recruited a bona fide, card carrying super-villain. And it worked...the actually demolished the Fantastic Four, beating them with little effort.

Of course, they failed, because they were idiots. They A) insisted on attacking Spider-Man first; B) for some reason didn't kill him right away; and C) brought him along to their attack on the Baxter Building, where of course he managed to break free and save the FF's hash.

The lesson they learned, then? Go get revenge on Spider-Man!

Oh, you unlovable losers!!

This brings us to Amazing Spider-Man #213-215 (1981), all by Denny O'Neill, John Romita Jr, and Jim Mooney. And a three-part epic of colossal ineptitude, even for the Frightful Four.

Our splash page ominously warns us what's coming...

So who is going to be the new fourth member? Hmmm...

We start with the mysterious figure breaking the Wizard out of prison:

Meanwhile, Peter Parker has a gorgeous new neighbor, and immediately falls in love with her.

Don't worry, that's not foreshadowing at all...

Anyway, the Wizard has a new device...

Once again--Wizard, why don't you patent some of this stuff and make an honest living?? Anyway, they track down Spider-Man, trap him in a burning building...

WAIT A MINUTE!! I thought you said this was a Frightful Four story, snell!!

We're getting there:

In part 2, Spidey escapes the burning building...while our mysterious new fourth member declares that it's her time for vengeance. They go to free the Trapster and Sandman...

(NOTE to Marvel Prison Authorities--please stop letting super-villains wear their costumes in prison. Thank you.)

...but the escape is witnessed by a conveniently placed Atlantean:

Ah, that explains how Namor gets involved. And explains why Subby busts into the crib of Spidey's new girlfriend (even though he doesn't even know her name yet!!):

So, of course, Spider-Man swoops to her rescue, and much pointless fighting ensues:

And after the two heroes wear themselves out, the Frightful Four arrive in full force--and it's time to reveal the new fourth member!!


Llyra, half-breed Lemurian and deadly enemy of the Sub-Mariner!!


Llyra, who killed Namor's squeeze, Lady Dorma!!


Llyra, who hadn't been seen in a Marvel mag in nearly 10 years!! Let's just say that, as big a Marvel Zombie as I was back in 1981, even I had no idea who the hell Llyra was...

Still, now we have confirmed the big drawback of my "recruit an established super-villain" plan: the newbie always insists on bringing their own arch-foe into the deal, making the Frightful Four's mission that much harder. Well, that, and completely forgetting about the Fantastic Four to go after Spider-Man...

Still, Wizard has another new toy:

What effect does the magical mystical ray have? We don't know yet. But our heroes are so incapacitated, the idiot members of the Four beat the crap out of them:

Fortunately, a timely SWAT team arrival allows Spider-Man and Namor to escape. But all is not well. Namor has an odd buzzing in his head:

And when Spider-Man goes back to check up on his new, completely not-involved lady friend:

Wizard, WTF?

So that's your master plan, Wizard? Taking Pete's spider sense and giving it to Namor? That's the "fate worse than death?" Really?? I'm not seeing how this one works out for you, Wizard...

Anyway, despite potentially "being driven mad," Namor returns, and rescues Spider-Man. Now, I've already shown you the panels where Subby cleans Sandman's clock...and then Spider-Man show why Wizard's plan was really kinda stupid:

Even without a spider sense, he can still put your head through a wall.

Then, in the battle of the century, it's Sub-Mariner vs. the Trapster--and Namor adds insult to injury:

So, the Wizard's magic new device really didn't come to much, did it?!? But Llyra escapes!! Wherever could she be?!? Hmmmm...

Our heroes visit Reed Richards, who basically snorts in derision at the Wizard's efforts, and fixes our duo. But Parker is certain that Reed has screwed up, because when Spidey goes back to visit his "girlfriend," the spider sense goes wild:

Fortunately, deus ex Namor was still hanging around, and:

So much for another of the Frightful Four's master plans. Hiring an existing super-villain and changing their target didn't really help that much, did it? Maybe it's time to rethink the very idea of the Frightful Four, eh, Wizard?!?

Well, that's exactly what he would do. The Frightful Four wouldn't show up again for another 8 years. But when they did, things would be very, very different...