Archive for December, 2022

Posted Saturday, December 31st, 2022 by Barry

Fantastic Four (1960) 133

Amidst the crush of humanity in Times Square the Fantastic Four relate their tussled lives in soliloquy to themselves as they wait for the ball to drop. It’s New Year’s Eve in New York City and the fabled trio are trying to celebrate the event.


Fantastic Four (1960) 133 page one

Trying to ‘cuz the team is minus a founding member. More importantly the family is missing two members.

Susan Richards, the Invisible Girl, has left both team and family due to differences between she and husband Reed. Included in her departure is their son, Franklin.

Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, is forlorn over the loss of love Crystal as played out over previous issues.

Finally, Ben Grimm, the Thing, is torturing himself about his ability to be the man his girlfriend, Alicia Masters deserves.

Time is stopped as new Frightful Four member Thundra appears literally holding back the hands of time on the clock and interrupting their musings. As the crowd stares, she issues a challenge to Ben, demanding he meet her in battle in three days. To ensure he comes, she kidnaps Alicia.

The battle is anti-climatic as Reed cheats Thundra of her believed victory by turning Ben human. Faced with the having defeated a mere man, the seven-foot siren takes her leave. Alicia is released and the team moves on to their next adventure in issue 134, A Dragon Stalks the Skies!

Fantastic Four (1960) 133

Not the most satisfying of stories, but still a Bronze Age treat courtesy of Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Ramona Fradon and Joe Sinnott.

Time’s Square has been the focal point for a good portion of the United States as they ring in the New Year. The event has been held since 1907.The ball drop is reminiscent of the time balls used to help ship navigators verify the setting of their marine chronometers.

Bandleader Guy Lombardo and his band The Royal Canadians served as the original entertainment beginning in 1929. In 1956 they moved from radio to television, performing Auld Lang Syne at midnight.

Following Lombardo’s death Dick Clark became the new Father Time serving as New Year’s host for 32 years. A stroke sidelined Clark and morning talk show host Regis Philbin stepped in for 2005. Since then, Ryan Seacrest has emceed the television spectacle.

However, you celebrate, do it safely and responsibly so you and others will see the New Year through.

Have a happy one from Jeff and Barry.

Posted Monday, December 26th, 2022 by Barry

The Brave and the Bold (1955) 118

If you’re reading this, you’ve survived another Christmas.

There’s still the New Year to ring in, but today is Boxing Day.

Celebrated the day after Christmas, Boxing Day originated as a day to give to the poor. Since then, it has morphed into a shopping holiday.

Boxing Day is primarily celebrated in Great Britain, where it was birthed, and former colonies of the British empire and other parts of Europe including Spain, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Italy, Poland Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Norway and the Republic of Ireland.

As a shopping holiday, Boxing Day is recognized in the UK, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago and New Zealand. Sales are featured in many stores with dramatic savings offered.

Our boxing day has nothing to do with shopping or giving to the poor. Our boxing day features Batman and Wildcat duking it out in the square circle at the behest of the Joker.

So, we’re really boxing for Boxing Day.

The Brave and the Bold (1955) 118

The Brave and the Bold began in 1955 as an anthology comic book. The Silent Knight, Viking Prince, Golden Gladiator and Robin Hood were featured on a turnstile basis in the early issues.

The format changed to showcase new characters with issue 25. The Justice League of America debuted with issue 28. Following the team’s third appearance, they received their own title.

With issue 50, the book became a team-up title featuring mainly Batman and co-stars from the DCU. By issue 74 the Dark Knight was in the spotlight full time as he became the star.

Issue 118 sported the Caped Crusader along side Wildcat and the cover tag: “Co-Starring The Joker.”

To keep a former minion’s mouth shut, the Joker doses a prison with a highly infectious tropical disease. The antidote is in a very unlikely carrier. To save the host, Batman and Wildcat must battle to the death in The Best Man Must Die.

A great cover for a Bronze Age bore, but still worth a read. ‘Sides, in the hangover of Christmas no one really wants a lot of excitement anyway.

Posted Saturday, December 24th, 2022 by Barry

Vault of Horror (1950) 35

“Ho, Ho, Ho! And what would you like for Christmas? Have you been a ghoul little child! I hope so, for with the Christmas spirit all about us, the editors thought it would be fitting to give our story for this issue a little Christmasy feeling! It’s Christmas Eve! And all good little children are tucked in their beddy-byes fast asleep! Ho! Ho! A perfect atmosphere for a Christmas tale, eh?

…And all through the house…”

Vault of Horror (1950) 35

So begins Santa’s narration for the cover story of Vault of Horror issue 35.

The cinemaesque storyboard-pages tell the tale as a noir piece of fiction, shadows and angles as much a part of the plot as the characters. Two feet and a dead body book end pages two and three of the story; a killer in heels absently singing a holiday tune as she prepares to dispose of the body.

To paraphrase a pop song, “Death is what happens while making other plans.” Such is the course of the tale’s trail as it weaves to involve a sinister character from outside.

The best laid plans of killers often go astray with innocent help as a special Santa makes his call upon the naughty.

The Vault Keeper reveals himself to be the story’s author as readers are left wondering what became of the protagonists.

Next in line is Tombs-Day from the Crypt of Terror and a mummy come for revenge.

 Beauty Rest allows the pageant winner to retain her looks forever.

Shoe-Button Eyes is another holiday horror offering as a little boy is given the gift of sight – at the expense of his brutal step-father.

And All Through the House was originally adapted for the big screen for a movie version of Tales from the Crypt. Later it was translated to television for an episode of the popular Tales from the Crypt that aired on HBO.

Vault of Horror was a bi-monthly comic book published by EC Comics from 1950 to 1955. The title became a casualty during the purge of “unwholesome” comic books in the mid-1950s.

Posted Friday, December 23rd, 2022 by Barry

Spider-Man, Fire-Star and Iceman at the Dallas Ballet Nutcracker (1983)

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was in its third and final season when Marvel and the Dallas Times Herald teamed again for this mash up of Texas transgression.

Peter Parker and Bobby Drake have accompanied their soon-to-be former team mate, Angelica Jones, to her new home in Dallas, Texas.

While there, the trio decide to take in the Nutcracker as performed by the Dallas Ballet. Peter’s Spidey sense jangles as the three stand outside the theater. Investigating, they soon discover the nefarious plot to disrupt the performance by stealing the props.

Spider-Man, Fire-Star and Iceman at the Dallas Ballet Nutcracker (1983)

Daddy Longlegs, a mercifully one-and-done villain, is found to be responsible. His plan is dismantled by the threesome leaving Daddy Longlegs high and dry on an ice pillar.

Peter, Bobby and Angelica attend the performance which is spelled out by writer Jim Salicrup and illustrated by Jim Mooney.

This teaming of Marvel and the Dallas Times Herald was the last. Already they two had collaborated with a back-to-school edition (Pipeline Peril) and Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders- special (Southwest Showdown) featuring Spidey and the Hulk, Web Head and the Dallas Cowboys (Danger in Dallas) and Spider-Man on his own against the Kingpin (Christmas in Dallas).

The Dallas Times Herald suspended publications in 1991, officially closing its doors December 8 of that year.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends aired from 1981 to 1983 on NBC Saturday mornings. It would continue in reruns for another two years.

In its second season, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends accompanied the Hulk cartoon billed as The Incredible Hulk and the Amazing Spider-Man. Stan Lee began narrating during the second year.

Season one featured 13 episodes, while season two only aired three – each featuring the origin of the three heroes – and the third and final season showcased eight new shows.

Amazing Friends became the launching pad for new mutant Angelica, known as Firestorm. She would debut in comic continuity in Uncanny X-Men 193 in 1985 followed by a four-issue mini-series.

Prior, a Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends one-shot was released in 1981. The book loosely adapted The Triumph of the Green Goblin animated episode. It is not considered part of the canonical legend.

The series opened the original MCU featuring an unprecedented cast of co- and guest stars including the Black Knight, the X-Men, Loki, Shocker, Shanna the She-Devil, Beetle, Mysterio, Red Skull, Thor, Magneto, Juggernaut, Sunfire, Captain America, Daredevil, Hulk, Iron Man, Namor, Doctor Strange, Dr. Doom, Chameleon, Electro, Green Goblin, Kingpin, Doctor Octopus and the Scorpion.

The Red Skull episode has been deleted from the Disney+ schedule due to the portrayal of Nazi swastikas and the phrase “Heil Hitler.”

The idea of Amazing Friends would be resurrected throughout the next few decades. In Spider-Man Family: Amazing Friends (2006) issue one, a back up story, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Co-Workers, was included for the 25th anniversary of the animated series.

Brian Michael Bendis gave the series a nod in Ultimate Spider-Man. The cover of issue 118 paired Spidey, Iceman and Firestorm. Rather than Angelica, Bendis used cast member Liz Allan.

So, unless a traditionalist, give the Nutcracker a pass and relax with some animated Marvel goodness.

Posted Friday, December 16th, 2022 by Barry

Teen Titans Go! Toy Fight

As the big day – and big guy – approach, let’s celebrate some of what may soon be under the tree with Stupid Toy Day.

Hopefully your childhood was an endless parade of playthings. Just the right toy to make the day special whether it dates back to tin or plastic, wind up or battery operated or just imagination driven.

As early as 1840 Americans experienced the doll craze. Dolls became the first mass-produced toys in the country. Teddy Bears followed in the early 1900s. Barbie became a franchise then the All-American Hero, G.I. Joe. Trains, cars, boats, airplanes, rockets, whatever could be miniaturized and incorporated into young hands became a toy.

We all have those faithful favorites that brought smiles to our faces and took hours from the clock.

For me it was Mego’s Greatest Super Heroes and Kenner’s Star Wars line that closed out my childhood.

Whatever the toy, may the memories stay fresh and the smiles broad.


Posted Saturday, December 10th, 2022 by Barry

Animal Man (1988) 1

More often than not we forget we share the planet with others.

Not just other nations, but other species. What we sometimes refer to as our four-legged friends. Whether four legged or not, today is the day to celebrate and commemorate that partnership with fellow members of Earth during International Animal Rights Day.

Animal Man (1988) 1

To reinforce our shared heritage, International Animal Rights Day coincides with Human Rights Day today.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights was sponsored by the United Nations in 1948 following the revelation of human suffering during the Holocaust. Animal rights were championed shortly after, but nothing would officially be drafted for another 50 years. In 1998, Uncaged, an animal protection organization, created International Animal Rights Day to cast a spotlight on the mistreatment and violence orchestrated on upon animals in the name of greed and barbarity.

Animal Man first appeared in Strange Adventures (1950) 180. The stuntman cum hero was given the powers to imitate animal life around him, but wouldn’t adopt the super hero pseudonym until issue 190. He would continue to appear in Strange Adventures through issue 201 in 1967.

It wasn’t until the 1980s he returned to the DC Universe making guest appearances in Wonder Woman 267 and 268. Following his brief revival, he was relegated to the Forgotten Heroes line up before Crisis on Infinite Earths erupted.

His most important incarnation would come at the hands of Scottish Scribe, Grant Morrison following DC’s Crisis fallout. Morrison would pen the first 26 issues of the Animal Man reboot. Initially conceived as a four-issue mini, strong sales catapulted the character into an ongoing series.

Morrison would take Baker into a different realm with plots and storylines that ran years long. During his tenure, Baker and Morrison both became vegetarians as he scripted animal rights-driven storylines.

Animal Man’s popularity led him to a brief stint in Justice League Europe.

Several writers would try their hand at the title before it was cancelled with issue 89 due to poor sales.

Animal Man would be included in both the New 52 and DC Rebirth launches boasting strong initial sales.

Even with all the virtual ink just lavished on a fictional character, don’t forget what today is: an opportunity to make the world a better place for animals.

That said, no matter the series – though Morrison’s post-Crisis run is the best – Animal Man has been an interesting character – in all ways. Celebrate both in deed and read.

Posted Wednesday, December 7th, 2022 by Barry

Season’s Greetings From DC Comics

DC Comics gave the paying public a shot of Christmas in 1978 with this quartet of comic books.

        Kicking off the season was Green Lantern/Green Arrow (1960) issue 113 which hit the stands November 30.

        Lantern, Arrow and Black Canary survive a Christmas eve complete with kidnapping and volcano in That They May Fear No More.

        A group of musicians find themselves prey to Granny Bleach and followers. They feel pregnant Marcy who is with musicians will birth the chosen one who will keep the suddenly active volcano dormant.

Season’s Greetings

        Lantern is able to divert the lava flow and save the town.

        Have Yourself a Deadly Little Christmas from Batman (1940) 309 was covered back in December 2018. Slip back there for a rehash of events between the Dark Knight and Blockbuster. It was on the spin racks December 14.

        Ross Andru’s non-descript cover belies the festive Happy New Year…Rest in Peace! behind Bizarro’s toothy grin in Superman (1938) 333. It was released December 28.

        The Brave and the Bold (1955) 148 is another book covered in 2018. The Night the Mob Stole Xmas! was originally reviewed in January of that year though released December 28 of 1978.

        While none of the above-mentioned books made the highlight reel for 1978, DC made an effort.

        What did make the nightly news included the Great Blizzard of 1978 hitting the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes January 25-27 killing 70.

        By February 5 through the 7, the blizzard had worked its way to the New England states. An estimated 100 people died and $520 million in damage resulted.

        As winter started to come to a close, other matters took the spotlight as the year progressed. In March, Charlie Chaplin’s remains were stolen from Cosier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland.

        Dallas became known for more than assassinations and football with the debut of the series of the same name April 2. It would give birth to the modern-day primetime soap.

        In May Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds hit his 3,000 MLB hit.

        The first test tube baby was born in Oldham, Greater Manchester UK in July.

        Pope John Paul I succeeded Pope Paul VI as the 263rd Pope in August.

        September and Camp David hosted the Camp David Accords with Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat.

        President Jimmy Carter authorized the Susan B. Anthony dollar in October.

        In December, serial killer John Wayne Gacy was arrested. He would later be found guilty for the deaths of 33 men and boys between 1972 and 1978.

        All in all, a busy year capped off with some DC goodness for the holidays.

Posted Sunday, December 4th, 2022 by Barry

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1988) 1

To paraphrase Albert Einstein, God doesn’t play dice.

But, we do.

For at least the past 5,000 years.

Welcome to National Dice Day.

The history of today is even more mysterious than the tools themselves. While no one really knows where the thought for today’s celebration came from, we have found a backgammon-like game excavated at the Burnt City in present-day Iron that dates back to 5000 BC. Evidence has been found in the Indus Valley, Egypt, Rome and China of dice games.

Roman soldiers rolling die for a crucified Christ’s robes is told about in the New Testament.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1988) 1 direct sales

Dice were originally made from talus of hoof material of animals. Later, they would be made of ivory, wood, plastic and other materials. Modern dice are more commonly manufactured from plastic or synthetic resin.

Which, leads us to today’s symbolic four-color representation of the non-holiday: TSR’s Advanced Dungeons & Dragons comic book issue one and subsequent issues.

The comic book’s premise began in 1974 when Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson introduced the polyhedral dice driven drama of imagination.

Each player developed a character that evolves over a series of games. Games are chaired by the Dungeon Master or plays god to the events and lives of those participating.

The outcomes of certain actions are determined by a literal role of the dice. Different polyhedral dice are used for different actions.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (1988) 1 newstand

The game continually increases in popularity with 2018 noted as the biggest sales year to date; an increase of over 52 percent of the previous year’s sales.

D&D first appeared in comic book as published by Planeta DeAgostini from 1985 to 1986. The book was an adaptation of the Spanish-language D&D animated television series.

Game publisher TSR solely published the first comic book featuring the Dragonlance setting in 1987 in graphic novel format. TSR partnered with DC Comics for the second and third issues.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons began its 36-issue run in 1988 featuring the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.

DC Comics continued publishing adventures through 1991 with other titles like Dragonlance, 34 issues; Forgotten Realms, 25 issues; Spelljammer, 15 issues; and Avatar: War of the Gods, three issues.

Marvel Comics released a one-shot based on the Dragon Strike board game in 1991.

TSR and Baldur’s Gate closed out the old millennium with limited series.

Several publishers kept the D&D name on the spin racks through the early part of the 2000’s, but IDW has held the license since 2010 and continues to issue titles today.

So, roll the dice or don’t; today is day to celebration a cog in the evolution of fun and imagination. Chutes or Ladders, Monopoly, Clue or D&D, the choice is yours.

Posted Thursday, December 1st, 2022 by Barry

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 3

Santa’s Little Helpers is the third and final installment of Tex Avery’s Droopy holiday series.

Droopy and Spike tie for Elf of the Year. With the honor comes shotgun on Santa’s sleigh Christmas Eve. Due to FAA regulations, only one may ride along. To determine his plus one, Santa devises a contest in which the best elf for the remainder of the time will be allowed the ride.

Spike’s nefarious plans to prove Droopy incompetent are his undoing. Sabotaging the toys only seems to bring down the antagonist until a package delivers an unexpected – and unwanted – surprise to Santa.

Tex Avery’s Droopy (1995) 3

Screwball Squirrel headlines in Giga-Bitten.

Starring in the second feature, Squirrel and co-star Meathead prove themselves computer frauds.

Another of Avery’s creations, Screwy was a magician of sorts. The anthropomorphic squirrel was able to pull objects out of thin air. The Sciuridae family member was guilty of breaking the fourth wall long before it became fashionable.

However, his career was short lived, appearing in only five shorts: Screwball Squirrel in 1944; Happy-Go-Nutty, 1944; Big Heel-Watha (1944), The Screwy Truant, 1945; and Lonesome Lenny, 1946.

Hanna-Barbera brought the rodent back in 1993 on Droopy, Master Detective airing on Fox Kids.

For April Fool’s Day 1997, Cartoon Network aired Happy-Go-Nutty from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Screwy would remain retired until 2013 when he guested on Tom and Jerry’s Giant Adventure. In 2019, he returned on Tom and Jerry’s Show in the Double Dog Trouble episode.

He continued to be in the public eye as shorts showcasing Screwy were featured on Warner Bros home releases The Thin Man Goes Home, Dragon Seed, The Clock (1945), Undercurrent and Looney Tunes Platinum Collection Volume 2.

Screwy was also a fixture of the comic book medium. He would appear in Our Gang Comics, Tom & Jerry’s Winter Carnival issues one and two, Tom and Jerry’s Winter Fun issues three, six, seven and eight; Tom & Jerry’s Summer Fun issue one, Tom and Jerry 213, 231 and 232; Golden Comics Digest issues three, five, eight, 18, 22, 28 and 41 for Gold Key Comics; Tex Avery’s Wolf and Red, Tex Avery’s Screwball Squirrel and various issues of Droopy.