Archive for May, 2022

Posted Thursday, May 19th, 2022 by Barry

Strange Sports Stories (1973) 1

Giving the devil his due, today we celebrate National Devil’s Food Cake Day.

For the second year, we commemorate the dessert that shares its day of fame with the upper order of after dinner treats, Angel Food Cake. While the heavenly-named confection may satisfy our sweet tooth, it’s the baser, darker dessert what we desire.

This devilish last course is almost haughty with its moist and airy texture. Recipes call for hot or boiling water as the primary liquid, utilizing coca in the batter with chocolate. Coffee can be added for more flavor. All is topped with a creamy chocolate frosting.

The origins of the dessert’s day are as mysterious as how it earned its name. Some say it’s due to the fact a Devil’s Food Cake is the opposite of an Angel Food Cake in flavor and texture. Others cite that the more indulgent a dessert sounds, the more it’s craved.

Strange Sports Stories (1973) 1

Devil’s Food Cake is said to have originated in the southern states with the first printed recipe appearing in Sarah Tyson Rorer’s book Mrs. Rorer’s New Cook Book in 1902. The original recipe used melted chocolate and baking powder. Today the recipe calls for cocoa rather than baking soda.

Last year we called on Harvey Comics Hot Stuff as the day’s mascot. This year we rely on the opening story of issue number one of DC Comic’s Strange Sports Stories.

With spring here what could be more appropriate than America’s national pastime, baseball? To Beat the Devil is a Frank Robbins/Curt Swan creation pitting the Metropolis Meteors against Lucifer himself.

The Meteors are flying high in more ways than one as they wing their way to the World Series. During the flight they experience a bad storm that leads them to Hell.

Old Nick makes a pledge to return the team and manager Skip Wilson to their previous destination if they defeat him in regulation play.

As a one-man baseball team, Beelzebub nearly takes down the Meteors until Wilson changes strategies meaning the Devil must forfeit the game and the players souls due to a simple rule.

Strange Sports Stories ran a total of six issues between 1973 and 1974.

DC tested the genre as early as 1963 with a five-issue run in Brave and the Bold. After the ill-fated series of the Seventies, DC attempted to turn sports on its ear once more with DC Super-Stars issue 10 in 1976 featuring the Justice League facing off against the leading villains of the time.

The story was reprinted in 1981 in DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest issue 13.

As of this writing, DC has dusted off the concept one last time for the Vertigo imprint. The four-issue mini-series ran in 2015.

Enjoying a delicious slice of Devil’s Food Cake is gonna be way more satisfying then tracking down any of these retreads, so grab a fork and enjoy.

Posted Tuesday, May 17th, 2022 by Barry

Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day (2003)

For those about to embark upon the remainder of your lives, happy National Graduation Tassel Day.

May 17 is the day. Across the nation a parade of graduates will be commemorating today, or a day like this soon enough, taking their tassel and moving it right to left in a symbolic recognition of their academic achievements.

Those earning graduate degrees will mirror that motion, moving tassels from left to right.

We will symbolize the day with a three issue, mini series published July to August 2003, Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day.

The trilogy was important for several reasons; not the least of which were the deaths of Donna Troy and Omen. It also meant the end of both title books allowing for new Teen Titans and Outsiders books to begin.

While never officially offered as a reason for cancellation, it’s long been rumored Young Justice was given the axe to make way for a new Teen Titans title to compliment the then new Teen Titans animated series on Cartoon Network.

Unlike the above-mentioned story, most graduations are a time of celebration. Nearly four-million high school seniors graduated last year. That same number are expected to graduate from college in the coming year.

About 66.2 percent of those high school students will attend college. The most popular college majors are Business, Health Professions, Social Sciences and History, Engineering, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Psychology, Communication and Journalism, Visual and Performing Arts, Computer and Information Sciences and Education.

About 136,000 of those high school graduates will enlist in the armed forces.

The Titans began as the Teen Titans in 1964. Over time they changed team members and affiliations. Marv Wolfman and George Perez launched the uber popular The New Teen Titans in 1980 which became Team Titans then the Teen Titans again in 1996 followed by the Titans of this story arc.

The Titans returned in 2008 and were rechristened once more for the New 52 and five years later for DC Rebirth and are currently under the Infinite Frontier banner.

Young Justice was formed in 1998 with members Superboy, Robin and Impulse. They would be joined by Wonder Girl, Secret and Arrowette.

The title would be relaunched in 2011 in an unrelated series as a literary version of the animated show. The comic book would conclude with issue 25, a month before the cartoon ceased to air.

Posted Saturday, May 14th, 2022 by Barry

Tales of Suspense (1959) 57

Archery predates 2800 BC and is one of the oldest sports still in existence. It is also the focus of the day, National Archery Day.

The National Archery in Schools Program has helped tweak interest in the sport in recent years. NASP began in 2002 in Kentucky and has expanded to 47 states and 10 countries.

The NASP also petitioned for National Archery Day which was first recognized in March 2015. The second Saturday in May, when the day is celebrated, was chosen due to the proximity in dates as to when the NASP tourney is held annually.

 

Tales of Suspense (1959) 57

Last year we celebrated the day with DC Comic’s premier bowman. This year we tap Marvel’s marksman, Hawkeye.

He first appeared in Tales of Suspense issue 57, cover dated September 1964. He would guest twice more before becoming a full-time member of the Avengers in their second line up.

Hawkeye, or Clinton Francis “Clint” Barton, has become synonymous with Marvel’s premier anthology team; so much so he has appeared in all five incarnations. In addition, he has been featured in the Ultimates version and was founder and team leader of the West Coast Avengers.

Later he would jump ship and work for the Thunderbolts followed by the Secret Avengers.

A popular ensemble character, Hawkeye would earn three solo series, Hawkeye (2003) issues one through eight. Two other attempts were made, 2012 and 2015. Both lasted a handful of issues before cancelation.

He would also star in a handful of mini-series, the first of which was Hawkeye (1983), written by Mark Gruenwald and running four issues. Next was Hawkeye: Earth’s Mightiest Marksman issues one through four. Hawkeye & Mockingbird ran six issues in 2010. It spawned Widowmaker in 2010 and 2011 for four issues and Hawkeye: Blindspot in 2011 running four issues.

Jeremy Renner has brought life to the fictional character for Marvel’s cinematic universe. Hawkeye has appeared in Thor, The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Endgame.

Posted Wednesday, May 11th, 2022 by Barry

Twilight Zone (1962) 1

You are now entering National Twilight Zone Day.

Rod Serling is the man behind the cult classic. He convinced CBS to take a chance on his creation and the network reaped the critical rewards. Over the five years the anthology series aired, a total of 156 episodes, all were half-hour shows with the exception of season four that stretched screen time to 51 minutes; 60 with commercials.

Serling was responsible for three quarters of the total episodes. The remainder were penned by Charles Beaumont, Ray Bradbury, Earl Hamner Jr., George Clayton Johnson, Richard Matheson, Reginald Rose and Jerry Sohl.

Many of the plots were science fiction veneers thinly veiling social commentary normally considered verboten for the era.

By 1964, the original series was finished on prime time. It would live on through reruns.

Come 1985 and all that was old was made new again as CBS resurrected its former series. Mostly due to Serling selling his share of the show to the network. Owning the property, CBS could make more money rather than buy a new series from outside.

Twilight Zone (1962) 1

The second outing did fair business, but failed to live up to its predecessor.

A third series faired even worse, retiring after one season, 2002-03.

As early as December 2012 word began to circulate regarding a fourth attempt at the Twilight Zone. It wasn’t until April 1, 2019, the pilot aired on CBS All Access.

And, of course, there was the ill-fated 1983 film. The movie recreated three classic episodes of the first series as well as one original story. John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante and George Miller each directed a tale. Landis’ segment experienced disaster when actor Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed while filming a scene.

The Twilight Zone found its way to the comic book world with Western Publishing’s contract to Dell Comics. Four issues were produced before Western partnered with Gold Key. That marriage enjoyed a surprising longevity with 92 issues published before the two parted ways.

Marvel mainstay Frank Miller had his first professional artwork published in issue 84 of that run.

In 1990 Now Comics published a one-shot before launching an ongoing series the following year that ran 12 issues.

To celebrate, what else, catch some of the old episodes or simply find an old issue or two to sit back and relax with.

While May 11 is officially National Twilight Zone Day, that day actually falls on January 1 for some friends of mine as they sit back with a marathon of the original series and celebrate their wedding anniversary. It’s a little early, but cuddle up anyway, Tom and Sherry.

Posted Saturday, May 7th, 2022 by Barry

Fantastic Four (1961) 48

Much of the time we take a candid approach to the non-holidays observed on this site. Today is not one of those. National Barrier Awareness Day challenges those of us without physical limitations to become aware of those who do.

These barriers can be something as simple as being unable to access an entrance because of a wheelchair or complicated with inability to comprehend an everyday situation due to a mental disorder.

Today is the day to strip those handicaps away. To allow everyone an equal playing field whether it be building a ramp or taking time and patience to explain how to perform a task.

There are currently over 36-million Americans who are plagued with some form of disability. It is estimated 80 percent of Americans will experience a barrier of their own at some point in their life.

Now, to help visualize a what a barrier is, we’ve chosen Norrin Radd, more commonly known in the comic book world as the Silver Surfer.

Radd was an astronomer on his home planet of Zenn-La. He sacrificed himself to the world devouring Galactus to save his home planet; in return for allowing the continued survival of Zenn-La, Radd became Galactus’ herald.

Fantastic Four (1961) 48

Radd was infused with the power cosmic by his new master. As the Silver Surfer, he would now search out other worlds for Galactus to devour.

Earth was introduced to the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four issue 48. The herald had discovered a new world for his master to sustain himself with. After interacting with the inhabitants of planet Earth, the Surfer found himself sympathetic to their continued existence and turned on Galactus.

With the help of another celestial being, the Fantastic Four were able to deter Galactus, but to punish the Surfer for his betrayal, a barrier was established around Earth designed to keep the former herald from venturing beyond the shield.

The Surfer proved a fan – and Stan Lee – favorite returning for FF issues 55-61, 74-77 and earned a solo story in the back of annual five.

The following year, he was starring in his own book. The title lasted 18 issues, all penned by Lee, John Buscema penciling the first 17 and Jack Kirby the final book.

The Surfer would knock around the Marvel Universe through the 1970s with a Lee/Kirby graphic novel in 1978.

He received a second solo series in 1987 running 146 issues.

The Surfer would continue to star in limited series for the remainder of the old millennium and into the new, though often playing a pivotal role in various company crossovers.

He would further appear in other media with his own animated series in 1998 for Fox. In 2007 he would play a titular role in the second Fantastic Four movie.

Software Creations, Ltd., offered the Silver Surfer video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990.

So, while our spokesperson is fictional, he does offer a lesson that even those who face barriers are still important to society and success may often come in the face of those barriers.

National Barrier Awareness Day was inaugurated by Congress on May 7, 1986, by a House Joint Resolution (544). It authorized President Ronald Reagan to call for Americans to recognize the day with events and programs that would contribute to removing the obstacles facing those with disabilities.

Posted Wednesday, May 4th, 2022 by Barry

Star Wars (1977) 107

Do you remember the Star Wars Holiday Special? The Splinter of the Minds Eye? Kenner Star Wars Early Bird set?

If you do, you probably remember the first issue of Marvel’s Star Wars comic book. You may not recognize today’s issue, though. Star Wars issue 107 was the final in the original installment of Marvel comic books. It almost seemed to pass unnoticed in July 1986.

For the first six issues, Marvel adapted Star Wars. Roy Thomas, Archie Goodwin and Carmine Infantino continued the adventures prior to issue 39 when The Empire Strikes Back was retold.

Another six issues for the second installment of the original trilogy and Marvel was turned loose again to create three more years of adventures before Return of the Jedi.

This time the adaptation would fall outside the main series and be told in four issues between the cover dates of October 1983 and January 1984.

Marvel soldiered on a while longer.

Jo Duffy took Luke, Leia, Han, Cheiwie and the remaining cast as far as she could. No easy task considering they were already far, far away.

Plus, she and Marvel were hamstrung by Lucas Films Limited and their decree that nothing meaningful happen. No commitment for Han and Leia beyond the fleeting, on-screen kisses. No teaching position at a new Jedi academy for Luke. No return to Malla on Kashyyk for Chewie.

Duffy took the gang as far as she could and was rewarded with what was basically a cease and desist from Lucas and company.

Granted, this was about the time the television specials were failing, Kenner’s action figure line was beginning to languish in the discount bins and talk of another trilogy was speculation.

So, it wasn’t with any fanfare the series came to an end.

Star Wars (1977) 107

Star Wars would be a cherished memory for the next few years. And, Marvel wouldn’t publish another Star Wars comic book until 2015.

Today is the day we remember the past. We remember the past, the present and the future.

Though the franchise seemed doomed to become a faded memory after conquering a generation of imagination, it returned, not with a whimper, but a flourish. And, with it, the return of the original magic. Or, at least the semblance, though new generations were swept up in the return of Jedis.

Today is Star Wars Day; May the Fourth (be With You).

There are so many ways to celebrate the day. Choose from one of 10 movies in the scheme of the original three trilogies.

Or, there’s Solo. The Mandalorian. The holiday special. Droids and Ewoks cartoons or the two Ewoks made-for-television one-shots.

Replay a favorite video game.

And, there are the comic books.

From Marvel to Dark Horse to Marvel.

The choices are nigh endless.

Whatever you choose, remember, “…the Fourth will be with you – always.”

Posted Monday, May 2nd, 2022 by Barry

Uncanny X-Men (1963) 120

Entering the lexicon of Four Color Holidays is National Brothers and Sisters Day.

When an unknown woman lost her brother, she realized the loss was a permanent one and wished to commemorate a day allowing siblings to remember the importance of one another.

This is not to be confused with National Siblings Day. That is defined as a day to bond with brothers and sisters.

For the site, we choose Jean-Paul Beaubier and Jeanne-Marie Beaubier as our co-hosts. The pair are better known by their trade names Northstar and Aurora, respectively.

Both debuted in the pages of Uncanny X-Men 120 along with their comrades Alpha Flight.

Uncanny X-Men (1963) 120

Alpha Flight is basically the Canadian equivalent of the X-Men. It’s also Wolverine’s former (extended) family – of sorts.

Anyway, Northstar is the group’s speedster, able to whiz along at super sonic speeds as well as fire photonic blasts. He’s is also one of the first, openly gay super heroes. He was married to his husband, Kyle Jinadu, in Astonishing X-Men 51. It marked the first same-sex wedding in comic books.

Aurora has a dissociative identity disorder, leading two separate lives. Her Jeanne-Marie Beaubier identity is reserved while her super hero persona is much more flamboyant.

Like her brother, Aurora has superhuman speed and can fly. In addition, she has high endurance and stamina allowing her to attain and maintain her super speed.

Like 19 percent of their counterparts south of the border, Northstar and Aurora are completely different. Only about 10 percent of Americans say they are best friends with their sibling. Eight percent admit to having fought their sibling, leaving marks or even drawing blood.

Whatever your relationship, enjoy the day with the one you share a gene pool with – or not.

Maybe the best way to spend the day is to find a copy of Uncanny X-Men 120 and all the ones that follow through 166, curl up with some comfort food and tune out the world.