Archive for the ‘DC Comics’ Category

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 Thursday, March 17th, 2022 by Barry

Scooby-Doo (1997) 130

St. Patrick’s Day is really hit or miss for us. We try each year to cover the major holidays while spotlighting the minor and sometimes just silly. Yet, the wee-folk sometime get overlooked.

Yeah, that was bad.

Anyway, the Emerald Isle will not go forgotten in 2022. Thanks to those meddlin’ kids and Scooby-Doo from Mystery Inc. in issue 130.

While the cover may be a field of shamrocks, the interior is barren as Four Color Holidays is most years when it comes to St. Paddy’s. Still, considering the drought of material for the holiday, we’ll take a misleading cover.

Scooby-Doo (1997) 130

Scooby-Doo issue 130 begins south of the border with Chupacabra-Cadabra. Keith Champagne and Scott Neely celebrate Shaggy’s birthday with an all-inclusive vacation at an undisclosed location somewhere below the great state of Texas.

El Roberto’s Grande Fiesta Del Magico is the first item on the itinerary. However, when the dreaded El Chupacabra kidnaps Francesca, the show’s assistant, the game is afoot.

One-by-one the major players disappear until only Scooby and Shaggy remain. By story’s end, they find they’re part of an elaborate plan to throw the birthday boy a surprise party.

Worse Than a Curse – parenthetically titled Woise Than a Coise – is a jab at the curse of the Bambino and sports gambling. Terrance Griep and Karen Matchette serve up a less-than-memorable tale of the boys of summer.

Velma’s Monsters of the World showcases the Rokuro-Kubi. This Kaiju doesn’t trample cities, but is more of a mischief maker.

Surreal Cereal Spook is the closest the book comes to St. Patrick’s Day.

Instead of a lyrical leprechaun spouting his breakfast fare is magically delicious, a Scottish spook tries to scare the Mystery gang. This one just happens to be a ghost made of the fake marshmallow crap they stuff in cereal boxes.

Sibling rivalry is abolished with a spray of milk and the tale closes the book with a laugh.

May this St. Patrick’s Day find you with green in your pocket and a little spring in your step.

Posted Friday, February 18th, 2022 by Barry

All-American Comics (1939) 16

What do Alessandro Volta and Green Lantern have in common?

National Battery Day.

Volta is the father of the battery. Maybe not as we think of it today, but his combination of silver, cloth/paper soaked in salt or acid and zinc forming “voltaic piles” generated the first limited, portable electrical current.

Alan Scott was the Golden Age Green Lantern. The lantern served as a battery to power his ring.

All-American Comics (1939) 16

All-American Comics (1939) 16

Thus, we have however-many-degrees-of-separation between Volta and Green Lantern joined for the non-holiday.

While the Italian scientist invented the first battery, England’s William Cruckshank designed batteries for mass consumption in 1802.

The battery was improved upon over time. In 1896, the National Carbon Company, later christened the Eveready Battery Company, produced the first commercially available battery. Two years later, the first D-sized battery was unveiled for flashlights.

Martin Nodell and Bill Finger birthed the first Green Lantern.

The Golden Age Green Lantern, aka Alan Scott, became owner of a magic lantern. With the lantern he was able to create a ring allowing him a variety of powers.

By the early 1950s, the Golden Age mystery men had fallen out of favor. It would be almost a decade before another Green Lantern would grace comic book pages.

Following the success of the Silver Age Flash’s debut, DC Comic’s revamped Green Lantern. The 1959 version was sleeker and received his lantern and ring courtesy of an alien from space.

From his debut in Showcase issue 22, Green Lantern spawned an ever-growing legend that would include a corps of similar heroes who police the universe and beyond.

Together they help commemorate Volta’s birthday to honor a common tool we take for granted and the man who made it possible.

To celebrate, dust off the old flashlight and prop the covers over your head as you read an issue or two of Green Lantern by the light of the handheld device.

Posted Saturday, January 29th, 2022 by Barry

Detective Comics (1937) 140

Sometimes life is puzzling enough, so here’s a day to celebrate our confusion.

National Puzzle Day was created in 2002 by Jodi Jill, no stranger to creating conundrums. Jill is a professional quiz and puzzle maker, offering her handiwork to classrooms.

Our representative is one of Batman’s colorful rogue’s gallery, The Riddler. Created by Bill Finger and Dick Sprang in 1948, Edward Nigma first appeared in Detective Comics (1937) 140.

Nigma delights in leaving puzzles and riddles prior to conducting his crimes to foil the Caped Crusader. The obsession usually leads to his capture.

During his early years in the waning days of the Golden Age, The Riddler was a straight up costumed criminal matching wits with Batman and Robin. His modus operandi continued into the Silver and Bronze ages until he would be updated for new breed of readers in modern times.

Detective Comics (1937) 140

Detective Comics (1937) 140

Nigma would become more of a broker of information until his reformation following a blow to the head resulting in the Riddler falling into a coma. His new profession was that of a private consultant helping to solve a murder. He would later become a detective.

Another head trauma returned Nigma to his villainous ways just prior to The New 52. In both this reboot and DC Rebirth, the Riddler spends a good portion of his time in Arkham Asylum, until his eventual escape.

For long-time fans, the Riddler will forever be Frank Gorshin and his live-action antics on the 1966 Batman television series. The veteran actor received an Emmy nomination for his portrayal.

Cory Michael Smith was the living embodiment for the Gotham series airing 2014 to 2019.

The late Ted Knight voiced the Riddler in Filmation’s Saturday morning The Batman/Superman Hour. Michael Bell did the honors in Hanna-Barbera’s Challenge of the Super Friends as well as the 1980s version of Super Friends.

John Glover gave the character voice in Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond.

Freddy’s Robert Englund was the voice of the Riddler in 2005’s The Batman. John Michael Higgins did the honors during the Batman: Brave and the Bold run.

He was given life by Jim Carrey in Batman Forever in 1995. The big screen box office bomb is a forgettable appearance.

What to do for National Puzzle Day shouldn’t be as, well, puzzling. Catch up with a crossword in the local paper, find a digital dilemma online or just read up on the green-clad cad with the penchant for puzzles.

Posted Tuesday, January 25th, 2022 by Barry

Flash (1959) 139

Welcome to National Opposite Day.

This non-holiday has murky origins dating back to January 25, 1928. On this day incumbent President of the United States Calvin Coolidge told reporters he would not participate in the coming election. While this date and reason are often cited as the father of the day, no one really knows.

Others speculate it started in the previous century, but as a nonsensical children’s game.

Whichever the reason – if either – Four Color Holidays will commemorate it with Eobard Thawne, aka Professor Zoom, the Reverse Flash.

Thawne was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, debuting in Flash (1959) 139.

His origin began with the discovery of a time capsule containing one of Flash’s uniforms. The 25th-century villain learned the costume contained a Tachyon device that amplified the suit’s speed energy. Thawne reversed the suits colors and christened himself Professor Zoom the Reverse Flash before embarking on a crime spree.

The Flash traveled to the future and defeated Reverse Flash, starting a feud that led to the death of Flash alter-ego Barry Allen’s wife, Iris West. When Allen found a second love, Thawne threatened to murder her on their wedding day causing Flash to kill his would-be doppelganger.

Flash (1959) 139

Flash (1959) 139

Thawne would return post Crisis on Infinite Earths. Not only would he adopt the Reverse Flash persona again, but the Flash’s powers by replicating the accident that gave Allen his super speed.

Geoff Johns gave Thawne new life during The Flash: Rebirth. A corps of speedsters joined forces to halt the Reverse Flash’s murder spree finally depositing him in Iron Heights.

Thawne would continue to rewrite his history in the post Infinite Crisis DCU, Flashpoint, The New 52 and DC Rebirth.

In 2017, during The Button and aftermath, Thawne’s pre-New 52 memories are returned. Blaming the Flashpoint Batman for his death, Thawne comes close to killing the Dark Knight only to meet defeat and death himself at the hands of Dr. Manhattan.

His body is taken to S.T.A.R. Labs where he is resurrected only to meet death by Iris Allen.

Never a company to let a good villain stay dead, Thawne was returned to the DCU continuity to assemble the Legion of Zoom to plague the Flash again.

To celebrate the day, you can try to sort out the sordid lives of Thawne or just enjoy any of the above-mentioned eras and revel in the battles waged between the speedsters.

Or, maybe, just do the opposite and ignore the comic book villain all together. Your imagination and interpretation offer the only limitations to this non-holiday.

Posted Friday, January 21st, 2022 by Barry

Batman Incorporated (2012) 1

Continuing with the celebration of International Hoof Care Week, we introduce Bat-Cow, one of Grant Morrison’s more bizarre re-creations.

And, that’s saying something.

Batman Incorporated (2012) 1

Batman Incorporated (2012) 1

She was originally featured as part of the Tiny Titans’ Pet Club and the Just Us Cows. An ordinary cow, she stole a cowl from the Bat Cave. Thus, she began her career as Bat-Cow.

Bat-Cow’s in-continuity debut was Batman Incorporated (2012) issue one. While the updated Dynamic Duo trailed Professor Pyg, they found the soon-to-be bovine bat-family member. Believing the beast to be tainted with a mind-altering toxin, Batman took it back to the Bat Cave for testing.

Robin, Damian Wayne, took a liking to the animal and made it a pet. She now lives on the Wayne estate in a barn.

Bat-Cow has no super powers, but is distinguished by a bat-shaped patch on her face and star-shaped brand on her side. Her nick name is the Battlin’ Bovine.

Dairy cattle spend much of their life standing. They require special treatment so they do not become lame or experience sore feet, foot rot or toe injuries. Those who specialize in the care of hooves are known as farriers. They care for hooves by trimming them and putting shoes on them, if necessary.

The American Farriers Journal began hosting its annual International Hoof-Care Summit in 2003. The American Journal also founded National Farriers Week, held the second week in July.

International Hoof Care Week is held the third Tuesday in January, running through Friday.

To celebrate, read more about Batman’s bovine buddy in Tiny Titans issues 17, 21, 23, 28, 38, 40, 43, 45, 48 and 50; Batman Incorporated (2012) 1, 3, 6, 7, 9 and 13; Robin Son of Batman 1, 9 and 10; and Batman and Robin 35 and 40.

Posted Tuesday, January 18th, 2022 by Barry

Adventure Comics (1938) 293

Impress your friends and family – of which there may not be many after this – with your knowledge by relating this is International Hoof Care Week.

You may need to print your own cards for this non-holiday. No matter, it gives us a chance to showcase Comet, the super horse.

Adventure Comics (1938) 293

Adventure Comics (1938) 293

This Uber Equua ferus caballus was first introduced in the pages of Adventure Comics issue 293 in February of 1962. Comet shared the book with the debut of the Legion of Super-Pets.

While the team was new, other than Comet, the members weren’t. Making up the Legion of Super-Pets were Krypto, the Super-Dog; Streaky, the Supercat; and Beppo, the Super-Monkey.

Though this marked Comet’s first appearance, his first chronological appearance would be in Action Comics (1938) issue 292 when he would meet Supergirl. Comet was from the future and lived there for the issue. He was heralded as a “super-pet Supergirl will own some day in the future!”

It was the Silver Age of DC.

Comet shared many of the same powers as others in the super family. He could fly, had super-strength, super speed, telepathy and telescopic vision.

Following the shake up of Crisis on Infinite Earths, a different Comet was introduced into cannon in Supergirl (1994) 14. He was described as a man with three fingers, horse-like legs, long white hair and a star mark on his forehead. He flew and had cold-generation powers. When he used his powers, he resembled his namesake.

Comet has appeared outside the printed page. His cameo in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year introduced him as Kara Zor-El’s pet horse from Krypton.

During this week, the American Farriers Journal hosts an annual International Hoof-Care Summit. Participants may sit in on workshops, roundtable discussions and instructional clinics.

Most of us may look up Comet on Wikipedia or pull an errant issue stashed in the back of a long forgotten long box.

Posted Sunday, January 9th, 2022 by Barry

Black Lightning (1977) 1

If you feel the hair rising up on the back of your neck – head and other body parts – it’s an omen today is National Static Electricity Day.

Welcome to another non-holiday allowing the process of transferring electrons from one object to another. This is done through friction (triboelectric effect), conduction and induction.

While zapping someone’s ear or nose may seem harmless enough, the effect can be dangerous in the case of flammable gasses or a high concentration of oxygen.

Black Lighting (1977) 1

Black Lighting (1977) 1

To celebrate today, learn more about electrostatic discharge, conduct experiments on the effects of static electricity, learn how to avoid static during winter months or, the one we recommend, read some of DC’s blaxploitation:  Black Lighting.

Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden created DC’s first African-American superhero, launching him with his own series. The title lasted a mere 11 issues, dying off in September-October 1978.

Jefferson Pierce, aka Black Lighting, came complete with superhuman powers afforded him via a belt. Later incarnations would give him the same abilities courtesy of a metagene.

Isabella was veteran of the Marvel method, having written Luke Cage. Like Cage, Pierce spoke with a 1970s black vernacular, topped with mask and afro for good measure.

He would later become a founding member of Batman’s Outsiders. He would also be offered Justice League of America membership only to decline originally. Later incarnations would bring him into the JLA’s fold.

When the New 52 debuted, Black Lighting was called back to duty and again with DC Rebirth. He began in Detective Comics before graduating to Batman & the Outsiders.

A live-action series appeared on The CW in 2018 starring Cress Williams.

For previous emcees, please refer to Electro in 2020 or Electro in 2021. No, that wasn’t a typo.

Posted Saturday, January 1st, 2022 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 81

Happy New Year.

The Ball has dropped and it’s time to face another 365 days. At this point, no one knows what 2022 will offer.

To kick off the new year, we pull from the past and offer Superman in Action Comics issue 81. Like many of the covers of the Golden Age, the only suggestion of the passage one year to the next is the cover.

Action Comics (1938) 81

Action Comics (1938) 81

Headliner Superman stars in Fairyland Isle. Featured are Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen against the one-and-done villain Fancy Dan, not to be mistaken for Spider-Man’s Silver-Age nemesis.

The story is reprinted in Superman: The Action Comics Archives Vol. 5.

Congo Bill is the main character of the alliterative second feature, Nemesis of the Northland.

The Chinatown Kid, Magician showcases the Vigilante with Zatara bringing up the rear in Sea-Going Sparklers.

Sharing the cover with the Man of Steel are Father Time and Baby New Year.

Father Time’s origins hail from the Greek’s association of time, or chronos, with Cronos the god of agriculture, hence the scythe. The Romans saw Cronos as a personification of Saturn, who also carried a sickle, and as an old man. Wings and an hourglass were added later, a reminder of Death or the Grim Reaper.

Editorial cartoons would later depict Father Time as the representation of the previous year. He would be seen passing the crown to Baby New Year signifying the dawning of a new era or year.

Baby New Year is believed to be the resurrection of Father Time who grows old during the year to become the phoenix-like, aged representation of year’s end. The fresh year is presented in diaper, top hat and sash bearing the year that he represents. Though named Baby New Year, he is often represented as a toddler.

The moniker was often bestowed upon the first born of a village, town or city each year. The tradition has been dropped due to concerns the infant could be targeted by criminals.

No matter how it is celebrated, happy New Year from Jeff and I and Four-Color Holidays. May your 2022 be lived to the fullest.