Detective Comics (1937) 27

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It’s hard for those outside the fold to understand the kinship we fans feel toward these two-dimensional, fictional creations.

But, it exists.

At times it’s almost tangible.

Especially for one who predates many of us. Who has survived – and thrived – after a congressional castigation, network neutering and public pandering. Who is an American institution.

This is why we have National Batman Day.

I can’t remember the first Batman story I read. There have been so many. So many adventures and years since that first one.

Detective Comics (1937) 27

Detective Comics (1937) 27

All I know is I was introduced to a character draped in the dark of night, eyes veiled behind white slits hiding windows to hell. That was the Batman Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams/Irv Novick were resurrecting in the early 1970s.

It was a good time to be a Batman fan. He was allowed to return to the shadows, but readers weren’t too removed from the day and twilight that came before.

Reruns of the 1966 psychedelic series were still airing in the afternoons. Adam West and Burt Ward were live-action heroes for half an hour.

Then the fad faded.

It was time to go back to Batman’s roots. As mentioned above, this about when I came into the picture.

The 1970s settled and the ‘80s dawned. A relative newcomer to the field not only redefined Batman, but knighted him in ebon. Frank Miller created two seminal works that examined both ends of the spectrum. The Dark Knight Returns came first. It looked at the end of days for the Caped Crusader.

Batman:  Year One stepped back to look at his beginnings.

As the decade ended so did Jason Todd’s career as Robin. Tim Burton took Batman to Hollywood.

The 1990s were not as adventurous. Instead the franchise was mined for the fanboys’ dollars. Gimmicky covers and story arcs designed to have readers buying multiple issues were the norm.

Where Batman shown again was on the small screen. Bruce Timm crafted a new look out of the old with a timeless backdrop in Batman the Animated Series. It would spin off The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond along with two feature films. The first was given a theater release in Mask of the Phantasm. The second was direct-to-video, Batman & Mr. Freeze:  Subzero.

The comic book industry rebounded from the 1990s speculators and continues to thrive both on and off the page.

The Batman legacy is strong as ever. His celluloid career continues and Detective Comics just celebrated its 1,000 issue. A fine compliment to the Caped Crusader’s 80th birthday.

Batman has evolved and revolved with the times. His image has been tweaked and tarnished at times, but overall it remains as timeless as his mission to avenge his parents’ deaths.

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Marvel Two-in-One (1974) 98

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As if video gamers needed an excuse to play games all day, here is another. While not a legitimate holiday, National Video Game Day does make the list of odd observances.

National Video Game Day is recognized on Sept. 12. This is not to be confused with the previous Video Game Day celebrated July 8.

For those ready to play, we’ll observe today with Marvel Two-in-One issue 98 from April of 1983. For those old enough to remember, that year was a high-water mark for the video game industry. In 1981 video games consumed more money than concerts, theater tickets and record sales. And, it only kept growing over the next few years.

Marvel Two-in-One (1974) 98

Marvel Two-in-One (1974) 98

David Micheleinie commemorated the video game movement with “Vid Wars!” Ron Wilson penciled the project and Frank Giacoia inked the tale that co-stared Franklin Richards.

For those who may not remember, Marvel Two-in-One was a vanity vehicle for Ben Grimm, the ever-lovin’ blue-eyed Thing.  Aunt Petuna’s favorite nephew would team with a fellow Marvel U resident each month. At least for 100 issues and seven annuals.

In this team up Ben is tired of his nephew thumping him in the arcades. As luck – and Michelinie – would have it Dr. Niles Given is seeking an audience with Reed Richards at the Baxter Building when the two return home. The good doctor has created a video game and he wants the endorsement of Dr. Richards. The story takes a darker turn when all involved are transported into a real game of life and death.

Much like Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Two-in-One was ended to allow the Thing a solo series. It only lasted 36 issues while Spider-Man’s off-shoot following his team up book, Web of Spider-Man, proved much more popular lasting to issue 129.

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Doom Patrol (1987) 45

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Grant Morrison hit most of the comic book industry’s sensitive spots during his run as Doom Patrol scribe. Each issue of his tenure, issues 19 through 64, was a satirical statement.

“The Beard Hunter” is a tale Arnold Drake, Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani could never have envisioned when they first created “The World’s Strangest Heroes.” The story does meet the criteria for observing today’s National Beard Lover’s Day.

Doom Patrol (1987) 45

Doom Patrol (1987) 45

Doom Patrol (1987) 45 isn’t exactly a love letter to those with facial hair, but more of a statement against the facially follically challenged. “The Beard Hunter” treads a dark trail of comedic fare. As with the series itself, this issue is a fresh, kaleidoscopic look at a team no one knew what to do with.

When Doom Patrol first appeared in the pages of My Greatest Adventure issue 80, the characters were an off-beat bunch often likened to Marvel Comics’ The X-Men.

The team was revised and revived in post-crisis DC by Paul Kupperberg and Steve Lightle. Morrison was part of the late 1980s British Invasion that revamped the comic book market.

Doom Patrol limped through several incarnations over the years after Morrison’s departure. Most recently they were featured in a live-action series on DC Universe’s streaming service.

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Wonder Woman (1942) 222

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Finally, the last labor of Wonder Woman’s 12 labors.

I say finally, but issue 222 is based on enough urban myth to make it interesting.

Wonder Woman finishes her labors in a sinister Disney World clone. The villain this issue is a thinly veiled version of Walt Disney called Wade Dazzle.

Wonder Woman (1942) 222

Wonder Woman (1942) 222

Dazzle is ensconced in a bunker below Dazzleland. From there he engineers his nefarious plan to kidnap people and steal their life force. This is all done without detection due to a miracle contraption that allows Dazzle make duplicates of people.

That includes himself.

Dazzle is dead, body and soul, except for brainwaves he can use to manipulate his clone. His corpse is frozen in a huge chunk of ice hung on a wall Han-in-carbonite style.

Wonder Woman inadvertently destroys the Dazzle doppelganger as well as her own to save the day. By unanimous vote, she is reinstated as a member of the Justice League of America with the promise, “Next: The first chapter of Wonder Woman’s NEW life begins with a saga so shocking we dare not reveal its title!”

Thanks to the comicbookdb.com we see it was called “Welcome Back to Life…Steve Trevor!”

Happy Labor Day.

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Wonder Woman (1942) 221

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If you’ve been along for the ride this long, we’re almost done. Just this and one more to finish Wonder Woman’s 12 labors as Four Color Holidays celebrates Labor Day.

Wonder Woman (1942) 221

Wonder Woman (1942) 221

Thus far we’ve sat through plots to enslave the world, enslave time and enslave women. In this issue we read about how women enslave themselves.

A foreign dignitary is lured to a retreat with the promise of a youth formula. In return for turning back time, the princess will relinquish a “psycho-chemical formula.” With it, the user holds control of another’s personality.

Vanity proves to be the real villain in the story. It is also the cause of death bringing the book to a close.

In the epilogue Hawkman, who has observed the adventure, speaks for Wonder Woman and her reinstatement to the JLA.

The book ends on a cliffhanger with Batman entering and promising a conclusion to the labors and the story arc.

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Wonder Woman (1942) 220

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Wonder Woman’s ninth labor is chronicled by the Atom in “The Man Who Wiped Out Time!” on our way to Labor Day.

Chronos is the villain of the month. In keeping with his clock-themed crimes, Chronos “steals” time in New York City.

Wonder Woman spends 32 pages, including ads, deducing who the time thief is and then defeating him.

Chornos was created by Gardner Fox and Gil Kane. His first appearance was in The Atom (1962). Over time Chronos became one of the Atom’s chief villains.

Wonder Woman (1942) 220

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Wonder Woman (1942) 219

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Wonder Woman’s labors are nearly as taxing as the tales in which she performs them.

Wonder Woman (1942) 219

Wonder Woman (1942) 219

Continuing the Amazon’s self-imposed labors for reinstatement to the Justice League of America, Elongated Man Ralph Dibny plays voyeur. He’s able to bring the reader along with the aid of a video camera.

In this issue Diana fights against the male-dominated patriarch of Xro. Their women have become uppity due to the influence of Earth females. The males have decided to kidnap the feminists of our planet. Once captured, they will be brainwashed into teaching the women of Xro they are to be subservient of the master race: Men.

Wonder Woman is able to foil their plan and transport the Earth woman back home. Thanks to Elongated Man’s recording of the event, fellow Justice Leaguers are able to see the entire adventure.

Fortunately for readers the labors are coming to an end. Only Atom, Hawkman and Batman have to observe.

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Wonder Woman (1942) 218

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This issue is a two-fer with guest stars Red Tornado and the Phantom Stranger as they monitor Wonder Woman’s seventh and eighth labors, respectively.

Wonder Woman (1942) 218

Wonder Woman (1942) 218

Red Tornado observes as Wonder Woman loses control of her powers. She later finds astrologer Damon Celestris is responsible for the mishaps. He has invented a machine allowing people to achieve their dreams as he divines them. The catch is Wonder Woman’s powers interfere with both his device and plans.

Gearing for the Bicentennial the second story, “Give Her Liberty – And Give Her Death!” is Bronze (age) cheese. Felix Faust is the villain who is attempting to enslave America.

He is told by demons he summons Americans prize their liberty. To chain the people to his will, Faust must first take their symbols of freedom. That would include the Statue of Liberty.

Wonder Woman follows Lady Liberty to Faust’s hideaway after a heated battle. He reveals his plan and finds it foiled as the Amazon uses her whiles and weapons to best the fiend.

Click back tomorrow as the countdown to Labor Day continues with Wonder Woman’s 12 Labors.

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Wonder Woman (1942) 217

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The continuing labors of Wonder Woman showcase Green Arrow as her watcher for issue 217.

Wonder Woman (1942) 217

First appearing in Wonder Woman (1942) issue one, the Duke of Deception returns in this 50-cent giant from May of 1975. In addition to the original story, two reprints flesh out the book. The first is “The Return of Diana Prince” from Sensation Comics issue nine. Second is “Fun House of Time” from Wonder Woman 101.

“The Day Time Broke Loose” has the Duke seeking control of the United Nations Delegates. With them in line he plans to “plunge the entire world into war…and make Mars, the War-God, bow to me…as Mars Once made me bow to him!”

Wonder Woman defeats the would-be war monger and Green Arrow is able to file his report recommending Wonder Woman for reinstatement to the Justice League of America.

The final word panel dedicates the story to Wonder Woman and lie detector creator “William Marston—alias Charles Moulton.”

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Wonder Woman (1942) 216

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Wonder Woman’s fifth test in her 12 labors is to stop an invasion of men from setting foot on Paradise Island. Black Canary was the Amazon’s monitor in “Paradise of Peril!”

Wonder Woman (1942) 216

Wonder Woman (1942) 216

Billionaire Diogenes Diamandopoloulos, a thinly veiled doppelganger to Aristotle Onassis, channels his resources into conquering the timeless tale that no male may trod upon the island.

Legends say if man does step foot on Themyscira, the island will be engulfed in a tsunami or Zeus will hurl lightning bolts down from the heavens or that a whirlpool will suck the land mass to the bottom of the sea. In truth, if any man would walk on Paradise Island any Amazon would fall in love with him. The curse was spun by Aphrodite as punishment for Hippolyta deception by man.

Diamandopoloulos’ mercenary army attacks the island, but are repulsed by Wonder Woman and her sisters.
In the end it is revealed Diamandopoloulos has undertaken the gamble to impress Wonder Woman whom he has fallen in love.

Black Canary finishes her report with the recommendation Wonder Woman be reinstated as a Justice League member.

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