Thursday, May 31, 2018

Batmania And The Decline Of Superman!

People love to talk about the Batman '66 series and its impact, but they don't often talk about this:

Yeah, typical goofy-ass story of the Silver Age, Go-Go Check era. But look at that cover more closely:

Yup, this issue was published late in 1966, when Batmania was at full steam. And DC decided they wanted to tap into that, and try to attract curious casual Batman fans to Superman.

Now, let's not forget that DC already had an entire comic devoted to Batman and Superman teaming up. But apparently, that wasn't synergistic enough. We had to try to draw in Batman TV fans to Action Comics!

And it wasn't just the cover:

Talk about adding insult to injury:

It's pretty sad that, in Superman's flagship title, they had to reassure Superman fans that they would like the story, too.

And throughout the tale:

"Bat-Buddies"??? How desperately craven can you sound, trying to suck up to "Batman fans?"

For what it's worth, this was a terribly, terribly, very terribly stupid story, and if any "Batman fan" were lured into reading Action Comics regularly by this tale, well, I'd be pretty disappointed in them.

But perhaps this is the first instance, the tiniest scintilla of a hint, that DC was beginning to consider Batman cooler than Superman. Not The Dark Knight Returns, not O'Neill/Adams or Englehart/Rogers, but all the way back in 1966, when they thought they needed to pander to Batman TV viewers to boost sales on Action Comics.

From Action Comics #344 (1966)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Dial E For Eternity--Kid Eternity And The Land of The Lost!!

We begin with a seemingly demented old guy, raving in front of a Wright Brothers memorial:

So of course Kid decides to get involved...

Pay no attention to that newspaper being sold in the background. It contains no foreshadowing whatsoever...

So anyway, the series all about historical characters is now pushing that history as we know it is kind of wrong:

Now, Adam Wing immediately goes super-villain:

You would think this would mean there would be ample eyewitnesses, right? And that in the four years until the Wright Brothers flight, word would get around.

But it's not to be, because according to the laws of comic book karma, Adam is immediately punished for tormenting his being lost for twenty years!

And not just normal lost...

Land Of The Lost lost!!

Yup, we've got the Wright Brothers not making the first flight, and towering mesas filled with dinosaurs. To heck with actual history!

Ah, what the hell, if Arthur Conan Doyle and Edgar Rice Burroughs can get away with the "hidden land filled with big-ass reptiles," than Kid Eternity is entitled to have some prehistoric fun too, right?!?

Hey, there's that damned newspaper again...maybe it does mean something after all!!

Anyway, the Kid and Keeper go to investigate this mesa, to see if they can prove Adam's story.

Kid even has a theory on how the mesa could be a home for dinosaurs:

But Keeper is skeptical...

But they find something besides dinosaurs!

Damn! I guess that newspaper was foreshadowing, after all!!

The survivors fire on Kid, and dammit, he wants to know why!!

Cave men. And dinosaurs.

Forget it snell, it's Comicstown.

Now, we're 7 pages into this story, and Kid hasn't done a single summoning yet! Hold onto your hats, because things get crazy from here on !

How do you fight cave men?


Look, I saw I, Claudius, and this doesn't seem accurate at all?

Oh, wait, this is Claudius II, a.k.a. Claudius Gothicus. You gotta love the giant "C" on his chest...

He drives away the cave men, but inside the wrecked plane:

Jospeh Lister!! And...

Clara Barton!!

But outside the plane--dinosaur attack!!

Atlas!! Congratulations--this is your third appearance, putting you into a 4-way tie for the lead (temporarily...oops, SPOILER ALERT!!)!

Sadly, Atlas vs. Dinosaur isn't nearly as exciting as you would think:

So whom do you turn to?

Og. Og the cave man. Known for killing dinosaurs.

Man, this story is going to kill me.

So, now you have to get the survivors off the mesa. How?

Jove--the king of the gods--can't fly through a strong wind?!?! Are you kidding me?!?!?

Well, eventually, Kid realizes that Adam made it off the mesa somehow, so he goes back to grab him, and along the way picks up...

Mercury--congratulations, this is your 4th summons!! You're now in the lead!!

Adam reveals how he got off the mesa...

..and Kid calls help carry the wounded down:

Hercules!! This is, surprisingly, only the second time Kid has called upon Herc.

And so...

So, wait, Adam somehow survived the dinosaurs and cave men for 20 years, with no weapons? We're OK that, despite there supposedly being dozens of eyewitnesses to his flight, no one questioned the Wright Brothers' enshrinement? Despite spending decades as an crazy old man muttering about lack of recognition, Adam is suddenly just fine going without acclaim, because he's "too old" for fame now?!?!?!

This story, man...this story...

We're 33 stories in, and nowhere near the finish line. Here's our standings:

Mercury 4
Achilles 3
Atlas 3
Corbett, Jim 3
Arthur, King 2
Bunyan, Paul 2
Cody, “Buffalo” Bill 2
D'artagnan 2
Ericson, Leif 2
Hercules 2
Holmes, Sherlock 2
Houdini 2
Leander 2
Porthos 2
Robin Hood 2
Samson 2
Sullivan, John L. 2
Washington, George 2
Abu 1
Antony, Marc 1
Aramis 1
Arnold, Benedict 1
Athos 1
Attila The Hun 1
Attucks, Crispin 1
Baker, Lafayette 1
Barry's father 1
Barton, Clara 1
Bernhardt, Sarah 1
Bertillon, Alphonse 1
Blackhawk 1
Bluebeard 1
Bolivar, Simon 1
Boone, Daniel 1
Breitbart, Zishe 1
Bucephalus 1
Byron, George Gordon 1
Caesar, Octavian 1
Cagliostro, Alessandro 1
Canary, Martha “Calamity” 1
Cannon, John W. 1
Carden, Foster 1
Cherry Sisters 1
Clancy, Patrick 1
Colt, Samuel 1
Columbus 1
Cronson, Gerald 1
Crusoe, Robinson 1
Custer, George Armstrong 1
de Leon, Ponce 1
Decatur, Stephen 1
Discus Thrower 1
Dockstader, Lew 1
Dracula 1
Drake, Sir Francis 1
Dupin, C. Auguste 1
Edison, Thomas 1
Emery 1
Frankenstein's Monster 1
Galahad 1
Gotch, Frank 1
Gothicus, Claudius 1
Grant, Ulysses S. 1
Greb, Harry 1
Griffiths, Albert 1
Hatfield, John 1
Hauser, Kaspar 1
Henry, Patrick 1
Hickok, Wild Bill 1
Hippocrates 1
Hyde, Edward 1
Hyer, Tom 1
Jackson, Andrew 1
Javert 1
Jeffries, Jim 1
Jones, John Paul 1
Jove 1
Khan, Genghis 1
Kidd, William 1
Lafayette, General 1
Lancelot 1
Laughing Cavalier 1
Lee, Robert E. 1
Leonidas 1
Lincoln, Abraham 1
Lister, Joseph 1
Marable, Fate 1
Milo Of Croton 1
Mulgrew, Jason 1
Murphy, Charles 1
Napoleon 1
Nation, Carrie 1
Nightingale, Florence 1
Noah 1
Nobody 1
Nostradamus 1
O'Brien, David 1
Og 1
Osceola 1
Paddock, Charley 1
Penelope 1
Pheidippides 1
Pinkerton, Allan 1
Plastic Man 1
Prometheus 1
Quixote, Don 1
Revere, Paul 1
Richard the LionHeart 1
Rin-Tin-Tin 1
Robespierre, Maximilien 1
Russell, Lillian 1
Rustum 1
Ryan, Paddy 1
Sandow, Eugen 1
Schleyer, Johann 1
Siegfried 1
Silver, Long John 1
Skunk, Jimmy 1
Socrates 1
Solomon 1
Tell, William 1
Thor 1
Thurston, Howard 1
Tiglath IV 1
Tut-ankh-amen 1
Twain, Mark 1
Ulysses 1
Uncas 1
Vercingetorix 1
Villa, Pancho 1
Vulcan 1
Webster, Daniel 1
Xanthippe 1
Zbyzko, Stanislaus 1

NEXT--When is a dead man not a dead man?!?

From Kid Eternity #5 (1947)

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Batman Sells Out!!

You know, if he weren't already a kajillionaire, this would be a pretty clever way to "sell out":

Of course, these days a million dollars is a rounding error to Bruce Wayne. And given that the ever-increasing circle of those who already know Batman's secret identity probably numbers in the hundreds, you could almost certainly buy the information for considerably cheaper from, say, a disaffected Hush henchman.

But why would Batman "sell out" in the first place?

See, exposure to "epsilon rays" caused Joker and Batman's minds to switch bodies, because science.

So, wait. Why didn't Joker just take off the mask and look in the mirror, for his own satisfaction, before promising to sell the information? Why wait, and then have the epsilon rays wear off, and get nothing from the whole magillah?

Because comics.

From Batman #85 (1954), as reprinted in Batman #182 (1966)

Supergirl Vs. Miri?!?

OK, there are plenty of coincidences out there. There are a finite number of ideas, and it's only makes sense that sometimes different folks will come up with similar ideas at virtually the same time, at different places. Think Swamp Thing/Man-Thing, whose debuts were separated by two months, or Doom Patrol/X-Men, which came only three months apart.

But sometimes you come across coincidences that are so unlikely, so staggeringly impossible, that you wish you'd bought a lottery ticket that day.

We start with the classic Star Trek episode Miri. Here's a trailer:

Long story short, the Enterprise finds a planet 100% exactly identical to Earth (which is kind of silly, and completely gratuitous to the story, unless you really want to hammer on the "it could happen here" lesson). A few centuries ago, a plague (created by ill-advised biological experiments) killed off all the adults, so only kids survived.

Meanwhile, in Action Comics #344, Supergirl, while doing stuff in space, encounters...a planet exactly like Earth!!

Well, that can happen. But that's probably the only similarity, right?

Except Kara finds that teenagers are the authorities on this world!!

And not only that...

A plague wiped out the adults!!
On a world identical to Earth.
And now the youngsters are in charge!!

Now, clearly, these are not identical stories--there are substantial differences. But for these two tales with similar starting premises, to come out at close to the same time, boggles the mind.

Of course, someone at DC could have been acquainted with someone at Desilu (and vice versa, of course), and overheard something, and maybe subconsciously adopted parts of the others' idea. Or it could just be two different sets of creators tapping into the same bit of flotsam in the contemporary zeitgeist.

Say, which story came first? How close were they in appearing?

Miri first aired on NBC on October 27, 1966.

And according to the Library Of Congress, Action #344 was published on...October 27, 1966.

Mind. Blown.

I mean, what are the freakin' odds..?

BONUS FACT: The BBC banned the Miri episode for 2 decades after some viewers complained. Also banned: Plato's Stephcildrem, Whom Gods Destroy, and The Empath. Go figure. Sorry, British Trek fans of that era.

BONUS FACT II: In the Action Comics story, Linda Danvers was elected president of America on this "duplicate Earth":

This was 5 1/2 years before Prez. And nearly 8 years before they met:

You'd think Supergirl would have mentioned having been a teenage president herself to him...

Monday, May 28, 2018

Manic Memorial Day Triple Overtime--Blackhawk Makes A Splash!

You know who had great splash pages?

From Blackhawk #10 (1946). Art by Reed Crandall

Blackhawk had great splash pages!

From Military Comics #21 (1943). Art by Reed Crandall

From Blackhawk #15 (1947). Art by Bill Ward.

From Military Comics #31 (1944). Art by Bill Ward.

From Blackhawk #23 (1949). Art by Reed Crandall

From Military Comics #35 (1945). Art perhaps by Al Bryant?