Archive for August, 2021

Posted Monday, August 30th, 2021 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 4

National Beach Day is a celebration of more than rest and recreation, but a reminder to preserve one of nature’s wonders.

Reminding everyone today is not only a (non) holiday, but a call to awareness is William Baker, aka Flint Marko, the Sandman.

Sandman was the fourth villain to challenge Spider-Man. He was also one of the most recurring enemies during the early years. He first battled the Web Head in issue four of Amazing Spider-Man before teaming with Sinister Six in the first annual, then battling in a doubleheader in issues 18 and 19.

Following his initial battles with Spider-Man, Sandman would venture into other titles to fight the Hulk and join forces with the Frightful Four against the Fantastic Four. His services would not be called upon to battle Spidey until the premiere of Marvel Team-Up in the early 1970s.


Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 4

His powers came courtesy of a nuclear mishap on a beach near Savannah, GA. When his body and radioactive sand bonded, his molecular structure turns to sand.

Sandman later is merged with Hydro-Man to form Mud-Thing. They later untangle their mingled bodies and go their separate ways.

Over the years Marko flirted with both sides of the law. He’s currently enjoying a taste of immortality until the next writer chooses to mess with the Marvel continuity.

Sandman has appeared in almost all the animated versions of Spider-Man beginning with the 1967 incarnation. He crossed over to the Fantastic Four’s cartoon as part of the Frightful Four before returning to both 1981’s versions of Spidey.

He was passed over for the 1990’s animated series due to a prior commitment. James Cameron had tagged Sandman for the long-awaited Spider-Man movie. That didn’t happen and Marko had to wait for the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon for his next appearance.

He was given his silver screen debut in 2007 for Spider-Man 3.

Sandman has also been a staple in the video game universe. Marko has appeared in Questprobe, The Amazing Spider-Man vs. The Kingpin, Spider-Man: Return of the Sinister Six, Spider-Man 2: The Sinister Six, Spider-Man 2: Enter Electro, Spider-Man 3, Spider-Man: The Battle Within, Spider-Man: Web of Shadows, Spider-Man: Shattered Dimensions, Marvel: Avengers Alliance, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Spider-Man Unlimited, Marvel: Future Flight, Marvel Puzzle Quest, Lego Marvel Super Heroes 2 and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order.

National Beach Day was established by the Knights of Columbus in 1929 as part of their convention plans. It was until 2014 Collen Paige, pet and family lifestyle expert, resurrected the defunct (non) holiday to celebrate beaches and the importance of keeping them clean.

Posted Thursday, August 26th, 2021 by Barry

Batman (1940) 92

Founded in 2004 by pet lifestyle expert (is there such a thing?) Colleen Paige, National Dog Day is commemorated to recognize man’s best friend.

Last year’s emcee was Krypto the super dog. This year Batman and Robin’s sidekick Ace, the Bat-Hound, is the spokes dog.

Ace first appeared in Batman (1940) issue 92. Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff are the creators of the colorful canine. Taking a nod from such famous four-legged sleuths as Rin Tin Tin and Ace the Wonder Dog, the duo made the four-color Ace a German Shepherd.

Batman (1940) 92

Engraver John Wilker was Ace’s original owner. Following the kidnapping of his master, Ace was recruited by Batman and Robin to find Wilker. Because of a distinctive star-shaped marking on Ace’s forehead, he was masked when working with Batman and Robin.

Ace became a permanent resident of the Bat Cave when Wilker willed his pet to the crime fighters. He would continue exploits into the beginning of the Silver Age before disappearing for two decades.

He returned briefly as a service dog in the early 1990s. Then he was returned to limbo following the No Man’s Land storyline.

Ace became part of the DCU again under the New 52 banner. Damian Wayne would adopt the kennel find, though he would be named Titus.

Most recently, Ace has found a home with the Waynes once again. His origin this time had him serving as a guard dog for the Joker. Each of the pooches had a card symbol; Ace, of course, had an Ace. Butler Alfred Pennyworth rescued him from the pound. Despite his employer’s wishes, Alfred trained the dog and presented him to Bruce Wayne, complete with mask, for Christmas.

Ace has appeared in the animated DCU as well. He was a faithful companion to Bruce Wayne in Batman Beyond, cameoed on Static Shock, guested on Krypto the Superdog and Batman: The Brave and the Bold and starred in various DC Nation Shorts.

To observe National Dog Day, participants are encouraged to honor their furry companions and even consider adopting one.

Posted Sunday, August 22nd, 2021 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special 1996

Rather than celebrate Christmas as we’ve previously done with this special, we’re recognizing those persecuted for their religious beliefs for International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence on Religion or Belief.

Evan Skolnick and Josh Hood use nine pages in Unto Others to peek behind prejudice and the ugly reality of hate crimes. In this abbreviated tale of alienation, mutant Kitty Pryde helps a young girl attempt to understand why some peoples aren’t perceived as created equal.

Marvel Holiday Special 1996

Only by confessing her role as an outsider does Kitty make her young listener begin to understand how race, religious beliefs and heritage can be used against people.

The Universal Declaration for Human Rights serves as the foundation for the United Nation’s stance on religious persecution and violence. The organization strongly condemns acts of violence against religious groups. It is another reason why the UN recognized International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence on Religion or Belief.

Learning about various religions is strong suggested to observe today. Donate to other churches or pray for those of different faiths.

The International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence on Religion or Belief was established on May 28, 2019. The resolution was passed after the attacks on mosques in New Zealand and churches in Sri Lanka. Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz introduced the legislature.

Of all religions, Christians are the most persecuted facing adversity in 143 countries.

Kitty Pryde is both a mutant and a Jew. The X-Men were originally used to mirror social commentary against minorities. As mutants, they were feared as the next evolutionary step. Those hating the future saw themselves as dinosaurs soon to be deposed as unneeded and unwanted.

Issues touched upon include racism, anti-Semitism, diversity, LGBT themes, Communism and Socialism, religion, subculture and genocide.

Posted Thursday, August 19th, 2021 by Barry

Showcase (1956) 22

On Dec. 17, 1903, mankind truly mastered three dimensions as the first controlled powered and sustained heavier-than-air human flight took place.

While Dec. 17 would seem the logical choice for National Aviation Day, it’s really today. In 1939, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into observance National Aviation Day using Orville Wright’s birthday, Aug. 19, 1871. Today is the day a grateful world recognizes the pioneers of flight.

Showcase (1956) 22

Acting as chairman for the day former test pilot Hal Jordan.

Introduced in Showcase issue 22, October 1959, Jordan embodied the Silver Age Green Lantern as brought to life courtesy of fathers John Broome and Gil Kane.

The writer/artist combo made Jordan a combat pilot cum test pilot for Ferris Aircraft. It was while training for the company he was summoned by a dying alien, Abin Sur, to become his replacement for Sector 2814 as part of the Green Lantern Corp.

Jordan appeared in two more issues of Showcase before granted his own title in July-August 1960. Gardner Fox would join Broome as co-author of the scripts beginning with issue 17. Together, with editor Julius Schwartz, they crafted adventures until 1970.

With issue 76, Dennis O’Neil and Neal Adams began the legendary Hard Traveling Heroes saga. The wunderkinds teamed Jordan with fellow Justice Leaguer Green Arrow and set them on a path across the United States. For two years, until issue 89, the green-garbed duo tackled such topics as overpopulation, bigotry and drug use.

As with the rest of the DC Universe, Jordan had to survive Crisis on Infinite Earths. He did and returned in the third volume bearing the Green Lantern title.

By the early 1990s Jordan was living on borrowed time in the DCU. A multi-part storyline turned him to the dark side. He adopted a new identity in Parallax and was replaced by Kyle Rayner.

In the new millennium, Jordan was allowed to wear the ring once more. He has continued to be the most recognized of the Green Lantern Corps, having lived through the New 52 and DC Rebirth.

Proclamation USC 36:I:A:1:118 allows the sitting president to proclaim August 19 as National Aviation Day each year. If desired, the President’s proclamation may direct all federal buildings and installations to fly the U.S. flag on that day.

Posted Monday, August 16th, 2021 by Barry

Whiz Comics (1940) 2

If this cover looks familiar, it should. We’ve used it before for various non-holidays, but maybe none more important than the unofficial week we are commemorating:  Elvis Week.

Elvis pre-dated Captain Marvel by a few years; the King of Rock n’ Roll was born Jan. 8, 1935. Shazam was created in 1939 and first appeared in Whiz Comics issue two cover dated February 1940.

What do the two have in common?

Whiz Comics (1940) 2

Their blue-black hair. The mid-sized cape. Their popularity in pop culture.

Arguably Elvis Presley would outshine his superpowered hero in this day and age, but there was a time when the Big Red Cheese even out shown Superman.

So popular was Captain Marvel, even Elvis admired the two-dimensional C.C. Beck and Bill Parker creation.

An avid reader Shazam reader, Elvis would later take the hair color and recreate it for his own persona. The cape was another swipe.

Shazam’s popularity was originally such DC Comics filed suit against Fawcett Comics. The legal battle waged in the court system for over a decade. Fawcett finally ceased publication of all comic books in 1953 and paid DC $400,000 in damages.

Captain Marvel became Shazam in 1972 when DC Comics brought the character into their stable of heroes. Marvel Comics had already established another hero of the same name almost a decade earlier.

Never forgetting his childhood idol, Elvis chose to adopt the hair and cape styles as his star rose. For the hair he used Miss Clariol 51D, “Black Velvet.”

Nearly 10 years after his exile to Hollywood, the legendary performer began appearing live on stage in 1969. He would fulfill his movie contract and return to the stage full time, performing until his untimely death on Aug. 15, 1977.

This week has been set aside to allow fans to remember Elvis for his talent and Dixie-dipped baritone that still resonates in the annals of rock n’ roll.

Fans commemorate the week in Memphis with a reunion, dance party, 5K run, auctions, concerts, memorial services, tours of Graceland, a candlelight vigil and more.

The Elvis Presley Estate from Graceland Mansion in Memphis, TN, hosts Elvis Week annually.

Elvis released 72 albums under his RCA label including 18 movie soundtracks, four gospel LPs, three Christmas records, six live albums, six gold record compilations and 21 theme LPs.

Posted Friday, August 13th, 2021 by Barry

Whiz Comics (1940) 93

Finishing out National Hobo Week is Captain Marvel, aka Shazam, in Whiz Comics 93.

Protagonist Hunky returns to his life on the rails after fearing his wife and child are lost in a house fire. Captain Marvel sets out to find the missing husband after said wife and child are found safe and sound in the basement of the burnt house.

This is pure 1940s hayseed. Hunky is initially seen bolting from the burning house setting up the story by screaming his family has perished and he has nothing to live for.

In the meantime, as stated, both are found in the basement and saved by Captain Marvel. They, in turn, ask the Big Red Cheese to find the missing man of the house.

Seeking the aid of other hobos, he is first being rebuffed as an outsider. Captain Marvel returns dressed in tattered clothing and is accepted and set on the path to find Hunky the hobo. The man in question evades the hero for the bulk of the story, but eventually is found sleeping behind a road sign and given the good news.

Hobo-dom is not as romantic as many writings may make the lifestyle. A hobo is a traveling worker, not a tramp or bum who only work when needed or don’t work at all.

The term hobo was originally recognized in 1890. Various explanations are given for how hobo originated. Some believe it was derived by “hoe-boy” or farm hand. It may also have come from “Ho, boy,” as a greeting. It is also believed to have been a shortened form of “homeward bound.”

Life as a hobo was transient and violent at times. Some lost limbs while attempting to hop trains, while others lost their lives. Railroad security would roust hobos with any means necessary. There was the fear of being crushed between train cars, freezing to death and starvation.

National Hobo Week is highlighted by the town of Britt, Iowa, who host the perennial National Hobo Convention the second weekend of August.

Whiz Comics (1940) 93

Posted Wednesday, August 11th, 2021 by Barry

Superboy (1949) 27

Continuing with National Hobo Week is the Golden Age Superboy.

With a cover date of August, 1953, Superboy 27 romances the bindlestiff lifestyle. The third and final story of the issue, Clark Kent and adoptive parents have a verbal disagreement finalized with the youth running away from home in the appropriately titled Clark Kent, Runaway!

Also offered for your reading pleasure are The Pied Piper of Smallville and The Movie Star of Tomorrow.

The Pied Piper is a formulaic tale of a clarinetist who mesmerizes the youth of Smallville. Movie Star is a time travel tale whisking Superboy to the future to save Tinsletown.

Superboy did not appear until 1944, but Jerry Siegel pitched the idea of a super-powered prankster as early as 1938. Another attempt was made in 1940, but again fell on deaf ears.

Superboy debuted in More Fun Comics issue 101 in 1944. Joe Shuster was the artist, but Siegel was unable to provide scripting due to his stint in the Army during World War II.

Siegel filed suit against DC Comics and was awarded the initial decision. However, that was overturned and Siegel was forced to agree Superboy was the sole property of National (DC) Comics.

Not until 2006 did the District Court for the Central District of California issue a ruling that the Siegel heirs were rightful owners of the Superboy character and related indicia. Yet, Time Warner was granted continued ownership of the trademark meaning neither could benefit from the property solely.

National Hobo Week is celebrated the second week of August to coincide with the National Hobo Convention held the second weekend of the month in Britt, Iowa.

Hobos set up a camp, also known as a hobo jungle, for the convention and peddle their wares as well as offer entertainment.

The convention is the largest gathering of hobos in the national. A king and queen are even chosen.

Superboy (1949) 27

Posted Tuesday, August 10th, 2021 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 337

Welcome to National Hobo Week, Aug. 10-13.

While most of you – more than likely all – won’t be traveling to Britt, Iowa, for the National Hobo Convention, you can celebrate, commemorate, commiserate vicariously. Let’s start with the Man of Steel’s first foray into the vagrant life in Action Comics issue 337.

A nursery rhyme causes Superman to cosplay after performing various deeds. His first has him halting a crime while acting as a man of means. He follows the act by feigning poverty to petition the government for support of a slum project.

Next, he apprehends two thieves while dressed as an Indian chief. His fourth foray is as an attorney to stop a killer and, finally, as Clark Kent, fakes an operation as a doctor.

Prior to what will be his last act, Superman warns the FBI he plans to commit a robbery. The G-men procure some Kryptonite to thwart the attempt. Superman steals the Green K and explains the odd proceedings.

As a baby on Krypton, young Kal-El had been exposed to a comet while reciting the rhyme, “rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief.” Somehow the comet caused a hypnotic effect causing Kal to act out the verse when exposed a second time.

Supergirl followed in her own story, The Green Sun Supergirl!

For those wishing to learn more about National Hobo Week, research famous hobos such as Leon Ray Livingston, T-Bone Slim or Alexander Supertramp.

More to follow as we take the week and recognize the heroes who have donned the patchwork suit, taken possessions in bindle and hiked across the United States.

Action Comics (1938) 337

Posted Saturday, August 7th, 2021 by Barry

More Fun Comics (1935) 73

National Lighthouse Day is celebrated annually Aug. 7 to spotlight the beacon that has meant salvation to mariners for hundreds of years.

Defining safety, a lighthouse marks treacherous shoreline, providing safe passage to harbors. In addition to maritime use, they are aerial guidance markers.

They’re style may vary depending on region and purpose. The top of the lighthouse is known as the lantern room. America’s first lighthouse was built in St. Augustine, FL, in the 1600s. Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey is the oldest existing lighthouse in America.

More Fun Comics (1935) 73

While today’s host was birthed during the Golden Age of comic books in More Fun Comics issue 73, it was his Silver Age rebirth of sorts that cemented him as the son of a lighthouse keeper.

The Silver Age Aquaman debuted in Adventure Comics 260 in 1959. He is the son of human Tom Curry and Atlanna of Atlantis. He later became king of the undersea capitol.

A retcon had his father remarrying and siring a second son, Orm. The half-brother would become the Ocean Master and battle Aquaman for control of the seas.

Following the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, Aquaman was given a four-issue mini in 1986 and a one-shot in 1988.

Not until 1994 under the tutelage of Peter David did Aquaman receive his most popular ongoing series. It ran a total of 75 issues ending in January 2001.

He would guest in the reformed JLA title, but not appear in a self-titled comic book until Dec. 2002. This sixth series would last 59 issues. He would receive his own title under the New 52 and Rebirth imprints that followed.

In addition to boning up the history of DC’s King of the Seven Seas, National Lighthouse Day celebrants may also watch Give A Day in the Life of Lighthouse Keeper and/or Behind The Lighthouse: Lighthouse Keepers documentaries, share lighthouse experiences or visit lighthouse museums.

National Lighthouse Day was established Aug. 7, 1879, but Congress did not designate it officially for another 200 years.

Posted Sunday, August 1st, 2021 by Barry

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire (1972) 1

Welcome to August and National Black Business Month.

Founded in 2004 by John William Templeton, historian, and Frederick E. Jordan, Sr., engineer, the month has been set aside to honor black business owners. They make up about 10 percent of America’s businesses and about 30 percent of all minority-owned businesses.

In total, that is equal to about 2 million companies. About half of those are in health care and social assistance, repair and maintenance and personal and laundry services.

Breaking that mold is the spokesman for the month, Luke Cage.

Luke Cage, Hero for Hire (1972) 1

Also known as Power Man, Cage was the first black superhero to host his own title.

Marvel took advantage of the blaxploitation films of the time by creating a new fictional character.

His back story included a tarnished angel origin. Cage was – literally – caged for a crime he did not commit. He volunteered for an experimental procedure that resulted in superhuman strength and unbreakable skin.

Cage’s solo book would run 49 issues. With issue 50, he would team with Iron Fist. Together they fought crime for another 100 issues.

A solo act again, Cage became a man on the run for a second time after being framed for the murder of Iron Fist. The mystery is set straight when it is learned the Iron Fist that was “killed” was a doppelganger.

Once cleared of all charges, Cage set out to start a new life in Chicago. This time he forgoes the superhero trappings and worked as a plainclothes private eye.

Later he returned to his Heroes for Hire business before being absorbed into the Avengers when they reformed. He also became a father after a tryst with Jessica Jones.

His newly formed family didn’t stop him from continuing his hero activities. Cage became leader of the Thunderbolts only to rejoin the Avengers which then went through several incarnations.

He went full circle, re-teaming with Iron Fist under the “All-New, All-Different Marvel.”

In addition to his work in the print medium, Cage cameoed on television. An animated version first appeared on The Super Hero Squad Show. Later he would guest in The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

A younger version would become a regular on the Ultimate Spider-Man cartoon as part of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team complimenting the Wall Crawler.

In 2015 Cage joined the cast of the Netflix series Jessica Jones. The guest spot earned him his own series the following year.

To celebrate Black Business Moth, consumers are encouraged to support local businesses owned by African Americans and use social media as an outlet to promote their endeavors.