Posted Friday, April 9th, 2021 by Barry

Batman (1939) 433

A National Day of Silence bounces around the calendar, but its meaning is loud and clear. The day asks persons to respect the choices made by others and cease bullying and harassment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students.

We recognize the day with the first true story arc following the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, in Batman issues 426-29. Issue 430 was told through a visual depiction of events rather than modified with dialog or exposition.

Batman (1939) 433

Batman (1939) 433

Todd replaced Dick Grayson after the elder ward became Nightwing in the Teen Titans. Todd first appeared in Batman 357 and donned the costume in Batman issue 366.

Following Crisis on Infinite Earths, Todd’s character was tweaked. Fans still disliked who they felt was a usurper. They had their say in Batman 427 when the editorial staff allowed readers to choose the fate of Todd who had been severely beaten and left in an exploding building by the Joker.

In a close count, Todd was written out of the DCU.

For a time.

Under the Red Hood was a story line that brought Todd back over a period of time under the guise of new anti-hero. Depending on whether his return is followed in comic book form or the animated, direct-to-video movie, Todd was back among the Bat Family.

But, in 1988 Batman was still stinging from Todd’s death. Writers were unsure how to continue with the character allowing John Byrne to pencil the silent issue.     The Many Deaths of the Batman, as the story arc was dubbed, lasted three issues, putting Batman back on the streets of Gotham.

To observe this National Day of Silence, take a vow of silence to demonstrate how bullying silences a victim. Or, promote the day, making others aware there is a problem.

The day was first observed and organized by a body of students from the University of Virginia.

Posted Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 by Barry

Howard the Duck (1976) 9

Off-color jokes aside, today is International Beaver Day. To remember, we’re celebrating a duck.

April 7 has been earmarked International Beaver Day to honor Dorothy Richards, the Beaver Woman. For the uninformed, Richards studied beavers at Beaversprite Sanctuary in New York’s Adirondack Mountains for 50 years.

Howard the Duck (1976) 9

Howard the Duck (1976) 9

In the four-color world of six degrees of separation, the beaver and Howard the Duck are one shade away for our purposes.

Issue nine of Howard’s book is the culmination of the 1976 American National Election. The drake’s brief affiliation with his bid for the Presidency lasted through part of issue seven, the Howard the Duck Treasury Edition and issue eight before collapsing with issue nine.

Along the way, creator Steve Gerber envisioned a campaign outside comic books. A Howard the Duck for President pin and poster were both offered for postage and handling to readers. Howard even received several thousand write-in votes that November.

The short campaign trail was littered with naysayers and assassins. Howard’s affiliation with the All-Night Party, an independent group offering a choice other than Democrats or Republicans, ended in scandal.

Following the path of a doctored photo of he and human lady friend Bev Swisher sharing a bathtub, Howard found himself in Canada. The man behind the plot proved to be more of a cybernetic beaver calling himself Le Beaver.  Gerber trolled the depths of bad dreams for his origin, having Pierre Dentifris, the self-proclaimed Canada’s Only Super Patriot, attempt to dam Niagara Falls. U.S. bombers destroyed his plans and body, causing him to construct an exoskeleton of a beaver for himself.

In revenge, Dentifris masterminded Howard’s rise and fall as political candidate. While America waded through the wreckage of the election, Le Beaver would invade allowing Canada to no longer live in America’s shadow.

Since we’re still saluting the stars and stripes, his plan obviously failed.

Issue nine marks Le Beaver’s one and only appearance – to date. Howard continues to reside in the Marvel U, even making a cameo in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Anyway, back to International Beaver Day.

To commemorate, read up on semiaquatic rodents, visit a habitat or just dig this piece of Bronze Age hyperbole and show it the love it deserves.

Posted Sunday, April 4th, 2021 by Barry

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew (1982) 6

Almost a year later, we keep our promise and deliver the second part of The Secret of Easter Bunny Island.

Who knew what the year 2020 would have in store for us last April? Of course, who knows what the remainder for 2021 will be like. What we do know is the good Captain and his Zoo Crew were on hand to save the day in 1982.

Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew 6

Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew 6

Baron Von Vermin provides a little backstory for The Bunny From Beyond! The title is vintage-scribe Roy Thomas who learned at the feet of the Master of the Marvel Universe.

Anyway, according to Baron Von Vermin, the space eggs now rampaging across the planet were first brought to Earth by the Bunny From Beyond. He forced the inhabitants of Easter Bunny Island to bury the eggs. They were later uncovered by the evil protagonist, Vermin.

The villainous native of Verminy had his plans foiled when the original Oklahoma Bones spoiled his scheme to use the eggs against the victors over Verminy. Instead, Vermin returned the eggs to Easter Bunny Island for a later revenge.

As the eggs continue to wreak havoc, Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew resurrect the Bunny From Beyond. He destroys the eggs and declines an invitation from Vermin to join forces.

Instead, the Bunny From Beyond turns Vermin to stone, then turns on those who freed him from his cocoon.

Captain and Crew are captured and taken to the Bunny From Beyond’s spaceship. The Captain is able to escape after returning to his alter ego’s smaller personage and slipping from the manacles.

Through slight of hand and some outside trickery, the Bunny From Beyond is cheated of a seemingly sure victory and reduced to atoms.

With the two-part storyline neatly tied up, Thomas pens a second, short tale, Digger of Doom.

The reading public put up with anthropomorphized-animal heroes and sometimes groaningly bad pet puns for 20 issues before the book was canceled. For more information on the series, read last year’s history lesson.

Oh, before Jeff and I forget, happy Easter.

Posted Thursday, April 1st, 2021 by Barry

Witching Hour (1969) 28

Witching Hour 28 hits two holidays with Never Kill Santa Claus and the following April Ghoul’s Day.

Witching Hour 28

Witching Hour 28

Christmas is never shy of publicity, but April 1st often times is overlooked. That in mind, let’s focus on the day of foolishness as associated with Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, more specifically, Nun’s Priest’s Tale.

April Ghoul’s Day finds a practical joker in a hole he can’t dig himself out of by story’s end. A simple O’Henry told in less than three pages.

Never Kill Santa Claus, as related by Witch Cynthia, is the cover story.

Greed is the motivator that causes a very naughty man to murder Santa. The dead man’s doppelganger leaves more than coal in his stocking as his deadly deed comes undone.

Kill Me Lest You Die! and Unlucky Omen are the two non-holiday stories.

The Witching Hour ran 85 issues then merged with The Unexpected in 1978 during DC’s Implosion. The double-sized dollar book featured Mordred, Mildred and Cynthia as caretakers in their respective section of the book.

Not one of DC’s big anthology-horror books, Witching Hour saw publication for over 10 years.

April Fools Day was popularized in the 1700’s, but it’s origins are unknown.

Posted Tuesday, March 30th, 2021 by Barry

Strange Tales (1951) 110

For the health care professionals who make the tough decisions today is National Doctors Day.

The first National Doctors Day was held March 30, 1933, 30 years before Doctor Stephen Strange first graced the pages of Strange Tales 110.

Strange Tales 110

While the good doctor no longer performs his magic in the operating room, he still has his medical license therefore qualifying him as honorary chairman for the day.

Strange was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. His origins lie in the surgical field. Following a car crash that ruined the nerves in his hands, Strange sought solace in the high tops of the Himalayas and the tutelage of the Ancient One.

Overcoming his mortal short comings, Strange learned the mystic arts, becoming a master. The title also earned him the animosity of the evil ones. Strange now acts as guardian of good, battling those who would use magic for ill.

Doctor Strange remained a minor character throughout much of his career in the Marvel U. He finally broke into the mainstream in 2016 in his self-titled film.

That’s not to say Strange didn’t have other opportunities prior. In 1978, he had his own made-for-television movie starring Peter Hooten, complete with porn ‘stache.

Doctor Strange:  The Sorcerer Supreme was a direct-to-video animated film released in 2007. He also had a cameo on the feature-length animated movie World War Hulk in 2010 and appeared in the animated film Hulk: Where Monsters Dwell in 2016.

Following his 2016 movie, Strange appeared in Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

As stated above, National Doctors Day began in March 30, 1933, marking the first ether anesthetic administered for surgery. It’s first observance was in Winder, GA. Greeting cards were mailed and flowers placed on the graves of deceased doctors.

Posted Friday, March 26th, 2021 by Barry

Popeye The Sailor (1948) 1

Popeye the Sailor Man is our choice to host National Spinach Day.

The journeyman sailor first appeared as part of King Features Syndicates stable of characters in 1929. Ironically it would take another 19 years for Elzie Crisler Segar’s creation to reach the comic book field.

Beginning in 1932 Popeye would moonlight in the cinemas after Fleischer Studios licensed the character for animated shorts. Paramount Pictures would feature Popeye for the next 25 years.

Popeye The Sailor (1948) 1

Popeye The Sailor (1948) 1

Not until 1948 would the mariner appear in comic books. Dell held the rights for the first 65 issues. Gold Key picked up the numbering where it left off at issue 66. King would publish next, printing issues 81 through 92.

For some reason issue 93 does not exist.

Charlton picked up printing chores beginning with issue 94 and continuing through 138. Gold Key/Whitman published the series for issues 139 through 171, though issues 160 and 161 are missing.

TV Comic, a British publishing company, published Popeye periodically beginning in 1960. Of the thousand-plus issues printed, Popeye appeared in 305 of them.

French Publisher SFPI began publishing the seafarer in 1964. The book lasted 234 issues.

Keeping his European presence known, Popeye was then licensed by Italian publisher Editoriale Metro beginning in 1975. The book went 549 issues.

Back in the states Popeye languished until 1988 when Ocean Comics published a special. A follow up was issued the same year.

Again, the sailor was drydocked until 2012. IDW printed a 12-issue mini-series then began reprinting the original 1940s and ‘50s comic books titled Classic Popeye.

Webcomics celebrated the aging seaman’s 90th.

While the origins of today’s spokesman are easy to determine, the beginnings of National Spinach Day are not. Just remember to celebrate with a fresh spinach salad, spinach pizza, spinach dip, cream spinach, spinach lasagna or just by adding the leafy green vegetable to whatever dish you may have on the menu.

Posted Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 by Barry

Marvel Premiere (1972) 35

Both non-holiday and master of ceremonies are lesser knowns today.

For National 3-Day cold-war era homage 3-D Man rides the big float.

Roy Thomas and Jim Craig reached a couple decades back for inspiration from Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. The legendary duo had originally created Captain 3-D as a novelty character for the 1950s. Three-dimensional films were the rage, so, why not?

Marvel Premiere (1972) 35

Marvel Premiere (1972) 35

Move past the Kennedy assassination, Viet Nam War and Watergate to the 1970s for a revival of the decade when almost everyone liked Ike, but loved Lucy. Thomas and Craig set their sites on a character whose strength, speed and durability were transformed three-fold.

3-D Man was the amalgamation of brothers Chuck and Hal Chandler. Test pilot Chuck found himself a captive of the Skrulls. Strange radiation allowed his image to be imprinted on his brother’s glasses after his return to Earth. For a time, Hal could manifest Chuck allowing the two brothers to form a third entity. Eventually the ability faltered and Chuck was relegated to limbo.

All of this either happened or was intimated in Marvel Premieres 35-37.

3-D Man reappeared for Incredible Hulk issues 251 and 252, Contest of Champions 1 and What If..? 9.

He returned to hibernation until Avengers Forever 4 and Avengers 50-58 and Secret Invasion: Skrulls one shot in 2008.

Every March, on the third day of the third week of the third month, National 3-D Day is celebrated. The holiday was founded last year by The Center for Stereoscopic Photography, Art, Cinema and Education.

Posted Saturday, March 20th, 2021 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 290

Peter Parker popped “the question” to Mary Jane Watson in Amazing Spider-Man 182.

And, how Four Color Holidays celebrated National Proposal Day last year.

Her answer was a resounding, “no.”

A decade later he asked again. Amazing Spider-Man 290, entitled “The Big Question,” left little for the reader to guess when it first hit comic book shops. David Michelinie and John Romita, Jr., shuffled Spidey around New York and the book as he wrestled with his inner turmoil.

Readers probably knew before Peter what he would be doing by the last page.

The Preserver proved a disposable villain as he introduced the tone of the tome. His plans to stop renovations to Times Square were short lived and the restless titular character moved on.

A visit to Aunt May’s sets Peter down a path to a new life. Deciding to share his travels, the Wall Crawler’s alter ego chooses to ask MJ for her hand in marriage again.

This time with different results.

The marriage would culminate in Amazing Spider-Man annual 21.

National Proposal Day is observed on both the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes, offering equal time to the sexes to ask the question. If a little shy, take the day to confirm your feelings. You can steel your nerves and ask in September when the second equinox rolls around.

The non-holiday was created by John Michael O’Louglin.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 290

Posted Thursday, March 18th, 2021 by Barry

Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985) 8

Most comic book readers can tell you this issue marks the death of Flash. Many comic book historians will cite it as the end of the Bronze Age.

Today it represents National Supreme Sacrifice Day, “honoring those who have made tremendous sacrifices for the sake and good of others as well as those who sacrifice their lives every day for us.”

Not to make light of what the day represents, the death of Flash was a benchmark in comic books not felt since the death of Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin (Amazing Spider-Man issues 121 and 122) over a decade earlier.

Not only was the Flash a beloved character, but who ushered in the Silver Age of comic books with his first appearance in DC’s Showcase number four. He was also the architect of the multi-verse Marv Wolfman and George Perez were attempting to mend.

Barry Allen, aka the Flash, found he could traverse time and space utilizing his super speed. In Flash (1958) 123 he did just that teaming with the Golden Age Flash Jay Garrick.

They repeated their meetings and soon others from the Golden Age were crossing over. The Justice League of America had an annual date with the Justice Society of America. They would visit once a year for a two- to three-issue story arc.

With 50 years of cross pollination, DC decided to clear the table. DC foreshadowed the event with mentions of the Monitor’s coming as early as 1983.

The maxi-series debuted April 1985, running 12 issues and ending March 1986.

By issue eight, the heroes, and villains, are on the ropes. Barry Allen, who had been held captive by the anti-monitor, escaped his prison and dashed the schemes of the Anti-Monitor by sacrificing himself to create a speed vortex disarming the anti-matter cannon then destroying Earth.

Allen would return to the DCU through some clever retconning, but his self-immolation can never be erased.

While looking to a fictional hero to be today’s mascot, the real-life heroes can’t be ignored. They are the faceless ones who are with us every day at home and abroad. Remember them not just for today, but each day.

Posted Wednesday, March 17th, 2021 by Barry

Zombies vs Cheerleaders: St. Patty’s Day Special (2015) 1

This one-shot capitalized on the indie-series Zombies vs. Cheerleaders three-issue mini released in 2013.  Zombies vs. Cheerleaders:  Halloween Special(s) would follow in 2014 and 2015.

Other one-shots and minis would pop up from time-to-time in following years.

Celebrating Saint Patrick’s date of death in skimpy skirts and ripped tops seemed a logical conclusion for Zenoscope Entertainment. Toss in shambling corpses in search of flesh and the homage is complete.

Saint Patrick is the primary patron saint of Ireland followed by the lesser known Brigit of Kildare and Columbia.

Patrick originally hailed from Roman Britain. As a teen he was captured by a band of Irish pirates and spirited to the Emerald Isle. He escaped after six years of captivity, returned to England and entered the Priesthood.

A vision led him back to Ireland and he became a Bishop. There, legend has it, he banished the snakes from the island. Another story tells of his walking stick becoming a living tree.

To commemorate his death, March 17 has been set aside bearing his name. Saint Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and the British Overseas Territory of Montserrat. Historically the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol were lifted for the day.

Traditionally, the day is associated with green and shamrocks. The Apostle of Ireland was said to have likened the three-leafed petal to the Holy Trinity.

There’s nothing holy about Zombies vs. Cheerleaders:  St. Patty’s Day Special. Celebrations and libations take a turn for the worse when the green beer is spiced. It’s fortunate for pub patrons, zombie-dueling cheerleaders are prepared to save the day.

Complete with four covers.

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.