Batman tagged posts

Secret Origins (1986) 44

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It’s time to get a little muddy today – in honor of National Mudpack Day.

Mud Pack is the colloquial name for Basil Karlo, Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller, the four original Clay Face personalities. That’s how we’re tying in National Mudpack Day and comic books.

The unofficial holiday celebrates the practice of mixing water and dirt to smear on one’s self. Mud packs are reputed to be therapeutic. Rumored benefits include increased circulation, the easing of muscle tension, releasing of toxins and boosting of immunity.

Secret Origins 44

Secret Origins 44

Our Mud Pack is a fictional group of Batman villains.

The Golden Age Clay Face is Karlo, first introduced in Detective Comics (1937) 40. The addled and aging actor was not invited to reprise a movie role and goes on a murder spree.

He next appeared in Batman (1940) issue 208 and Detective 496.

Matt Hagen is the heir apparent, first appearing in Detective Comics 298. Rather than acting, the second Clay Face is a treasure hunter. His discovery of a radioactive ooze does not go well and he finds himself a literal clay being.

Preston Payne is next in line for the title. His first appearance is Detective 477. A STAR Labs employee, his is a more tragic origin. The search for a cure goes unfulfilled and ending in tragedy.

Sondra Fuller is the fourth installment in the line-up. She first appeared in Outsiders (1983) 21, transformed into a shape changer by Kobra technologies.

Cassisus “Clay” Payne is the love child of Payne and Fuller. He first appeared in Batman 550.

Clay Face number six also debuted in Batman 550. Dr. Peter “Claything” Malley is a clone of Cassius Payne.

Todd Russell premiered in Catwoman (2002) issue one. Russell is more of a serial killer preying on prostitutes.

Finally, to date, is Johnny Williams. Williams first appeared in Gotham Knights 60 and was a former firefighter who became the mud monster after a mishap at a chemical plant fire.

Several other versions have cropped up throughout the DCU and in other media.

So, if you’re getting dirty, make sure your hands are clean before reading any comic books featuring the above-mentioned villains.

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National Autonomous Vehicle Day

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National Autonomous Vehicle Day is a time to observe the future of freedom behind the wheel.

To commemorate the (non) holiday, let’s take a look at the ultimate car. Forget Back to the Future’s Delorean, KITT and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, we’re talking Batmobile.

The Batmobile has been part of the Bat lore since Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics issue 27. Granted, then it was a plain, red roadster with no gadgetry, but Batman had a means of conveyance.

Since its humble beginnings, the Batmobile has blossomed into a modern marvel. Slowly at first, but with vigor as the notion grew.

It wasn’t until Batman issue five, Spring of 1941, the Batmobile was given its trademark bat head on the front grill. It was about that same time it was christened as the Batmobile.

The car continued to evolve and by the 1966 live-action series, the Batmobile was already an icon. George Barris’ handiwork for the screen-used vehicle only immortalized the car.

Since then the Batmobile has continued to evolve in both comic book, television, movies and video games.

While National Autonomous Vehicle Day celebrates travel to come, we also remember what has gone before, “Atomic batteries to power. Turbines to speed.”

Evolution of Batmobiles

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World’s Finest (1941) 215

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As if Superman and Batman didn’t have enough problems, Bob Haney and Dick Dillin saddled the superheroes with sons in World’s Finest 215.

World’s Finest (1941) 215

World’s Finest (1941) 215

The junior superheroes were near clones of their fathers down to their uniforms. The two appeared off and on in World’s Finest until issue 263 when Denny O’Neil revealed they were computer simulations created by Batman and Superman.

The concept would later be revisited in an Elseworlds book in 1999, then shelved until 2011 when the New 52 came about with Chris Kent and Damian Wayne living on Earth-16.

DC unveiled yet another incarnation in 2017. The super sons would go by Jonathan Kent, Superboy, a product of Clark Kent’s union to Lois Lane; and Damian Wayne, Robin, the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul.

The series went 16 issues with one annual.

In August of 2018 a 12-issue mini was launched, helmed by Peter Tomasi with Carlo Barberi and Art Thibert handling art chores.

What does all of this have to do with Four Color Holidays? Just that today, April 23, is National Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day.

Enjoy the time you have with your children.

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Detective Comics (1937) 359

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Okay, this is not a federal holiday.

National Library Worker’s Day is recognized within schools and community organizations with lunches, donations to libraries and other biblio-themed functions.

To honor those trusted with the keeping of stories and adventures, Four Color Holidays uses Detective Comics (1937) as a banner for the librarians of the world.

This issue, of course, is the first appearance Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon. Bill Finger and Sheldon Modloff had originally created Betty Kane as the first Bat-Girl in 1961. Babs, as Police Chief James Gordon’s daughter, has become the more commonly recognized Daring Domino of the Bat-family.

Detective Comics (1937) 359

Detective Comics (1937) 359

Her comic book appearance was not by chance. When producers of the Batman television series decided to add the character on screen, she was given a home in the printed DCU as well.

Over time, Barbara/Batgirl has served beside the Dynamic Duo as well as shone in solo adventures. In 1988 Alan Moore stepped away from Swamp Thing and penned a one-shot in which the Joker shot and paralyzed Babs.

She would remain in a wheelchair until the New 52 reboot in 2011. Between 1988 and 2011 Barbara served as Oracle, aiding the Bat-Family with information. Later, she would serve in the same capacity with the Birds of Prey.

While incapacitated the Batgirl cowl did not gather dust. It was donned by Cassandra Cain, Stephanie Brown, Helena Bertinelli and Charlotte “Charlie” Gage-Radcliff.

In the end, the mantle will always be Barbara Gordon’s.

So, happy National Library Worker’s Day. Read a book, preferably a Batgirl comic book, and visit your local library to thank those who toil away as the guardians of knowledge and entertainment.

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Detective Comics (1937) 400

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April is the best time of year to observe bats, as they begin to wake from hibernation. To honor the only mammal capable of true and sustained flight, today has been set aside as International Bat Appreciation Day.

Detective Comics (1937) 400

Detective Comics (1937) 400

Using Batman to represent the comic book industry would have been too easy. Instead, we’re looking at Robert Kirkland “Kirk” Langstrom, aka Man-Bat.

His first appearance was in Detective Comics 400. Neal Adams, Frank Robbins and Julius Schwartz are credited with his creation.

Langstrom is a zoologist specializing in the study of bats. A misguided test of his formula to develop sonar in humans turned the scientist into Man-Bat. Batman is able to develop a cure and restore him to his natural form.

The play as been acted out over and over. At times, Langstrom has even enlisted others including his wife, Francine Langstrom.

DC felt comfortable enough with the character to give him his own short-lived series in 1975. It lasted two issues.

Man-Bat has been part of the DCU in all its incarnations; still flying after the crises and reboots. He has also appeared in various animated versions of DC. He was featured in the first episode of Batman: the Animated Series that aired in 1992.

As a journeyman villain, Man-Bat serves his purpose; as a comic book anti-hero he’s an interesting diversion until one of Batman’s A-list foes finds a way out of Arkham.

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April Fools from a Serious Earth

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Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth (1989)

April Fools from Jeff and I at Four Color Holidays with the help of Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. This disturbing salutation above is from the duo’s Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on a Serious Earth published in 1989. This marks Morrison’s first work on any Batman title. He would later take over writing chores on a regular basis. The book is the best-selling, original graphic novel with sales topping 600,000.

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Batman (1940) 181

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National Flower Day won’t make most people’s radar. It’s doubtful any of you reading this even know there is such a thing. But, for the one who would embrace the day as her own, we’ll look at Poison Ivy’s debut.

Bob Kanigher, the man behind the Silver Age Flash’s origin and three decade’s worth of Sgt. Rock tales, spins Beware Of—Poison Ivy! Sheldon Moldoff handles the pencils. Of the two, Shelly can at least hold his head a little higher.

Batman (1940) 181

Batman (1940) 181

Not wishing to speak ill of the dead, it’s still hard not to bash the accomplished writer for the horrid tale introducing such an acclaimed character. Much like a young actress breaking into movies, Ivy has to be embarrassed by the dialog she is forced to mouth.

Batman and Robin are even worse. There’s no evidence of the Dark Knight to come as he pines for the leggy flower child. Robin can chalk part of his verbiage to age. It’s not much worse than Bob Haney’s hip mid-60s rap for the teens in the original Titans book.

The less said about the book, the better.

National Plant a Flower Day is celebrated March 12 each year. It is a time to begin thinking about what flowers are to be planted in the spring garden. If Batman 181 didn’t cost so much, it would make good compost.

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Detective Comics (1937) 58

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With today National Umbrella Day, the Penguin is the obvious choice to act as ambassador.

Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot originally bore some resemblance to his current countenance, but was a doughier rapscallion in Detective Comics (1937) 58.  Mr. Cobblepot has firmed up a bit over the past 70 years. He has also moved on from his days of out-and-out larceny to become more of an underworld consort, catering more than cavorting.

Detective Comics (1937) 58

Detective Comics (1937) 58

In his first appearance, the Penguin begins his criminal career as an art thief, stealing under the noses of Batman and Robin themselves. He moves on to jewels in a crime spree that not only confounds the Caped Crusaders, but implicates them.

In the final showdown, Penguin manages to elude Batman, though the Dark Knight does clear his name.

Penguin does little with his bumbershoot other than spray some acid this issue. It is in subsequent appearances he and his decorative accessory earn its spot in the pantheon of weapons. Of all his assorted implements of violence, the Bulgarian umbrella is his favorite.

The umbrella has been in use since 21 AD, first seen in China as a useful and decorative cover for a four-wheeled carriage. The invention has evolved little over the years having been perfected right out of the gate.

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World’s Finest Comics (1941) 111

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Not as well-known as New Year’s Eve, Tick Tock Day is celebrated Dec. 29 each year to remind us time is a commodity. One that will expire shortly when the current year is retired.

Rather than use Father Time or Baby New Year to represent the (non) holiday, Four Color Holidays has chosen the Clock King. Both of ‘em.

World’s Finest Comics (1941) 111

World’s Finest Comics (1941) 111

The Clock King was originally presented as the Silver Age Green Arrow’s arch enemy. Like so many early villains, William Tockman was doomed to a life of crime based on his name alone. He became caregiver to his ailing sister only to find he was terminally ill with six months to live. Using Breaking Bad’s plot, Tockman robbed a bank to ensure she would be cared for after his passing.

Later he learned his medical records were switched with another patient’s and sought revenge on the doctor and Green Arrow. The nefarious plan failed and the evil Clock King was escorted to Arkham Asylum where he would regularly escape to bedevil the Justice League and various DC heroes.

He was later reinvented as Billy Tockman when DC rebooted its universe during the New 52. In addition to renewing his origin, Tockman is given precognition four-seconds into the future.

To celebrate Tick Tock Day, complete any unfinished business from the year and post to #TickTockDay.

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Batman (1940) 49

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It’s January and cold. All the more reason to wear a hat. Coincidently enough, today is National Hat Day. And, what better way to celebrate than to recount Batman’s nemesis Jervis Tetch’s first appearance as the Mad Hatter.

Batman (1940) 49

Batman (1940) 49

Shunned as a child due to his appearance, Tetch buried himself in books and learning. Eventually he became a neuroscientist and turned to evil, developing mind-control technology.

In his first adventure, Tetch attempted to steal a trophy from the Gotham Yacht Club. Batman proved more than capable in halting any Tom foolery from the chapeaued criminal and Tetch soon found himself a guest of Arkham Asylum for the remainder of the Golden Age.

The Mad Hatter wouldn’t return until the Silver Age, even appearing in the 1966 Batman television series as portrayed by David Wayne.

Other multi-media appearances include voice acting by Roddy McDowall on Batman the Animated Series and Peter MacNicol in the Batman Arkham games. He was later played by Benedict Samuel in the Gotham series on Fox.

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