Archive for the ‘DC Comics’ Category

Posted Friday, December 1st, 2023 by Barry

Plop! (1973) 10

Welcome to December and the Christmas rush.

Well, the Christmas rush has already begun, but this is as good a day as any to celebrate, commiserate and/or commemorate the buying season.

Who better to greet the season than some old friends from the Bronze Age, Cain, Able and Eve?

By issue 10, the triumvirate of terror had been hosting the humor/horror anthology nearly two years. It would also mark the final issue sans advertisements.

For the uninitiated, Cain, Able and Eve are raconteurs plying their skills on any who will listen – and, even more so on those who won’t.

This time, the three have stolen away in Santa’s sleigh as he makes his Christmas Eve journey. When the finally reveal themselves – and intent – Santa is less than gracious, but hears their stories anyway.

Plop! (1973) 10

Not that he has much choice.

Cain opens the trio of tales with androclutz and the Lion.

  1. Nelson Bridwell and Joe Orlando take much liberty with The Lion and the Thorn fable all while David Maniak illustrates.

“Androklutz is the nicest kid on the block,” so say Bridwell and Orlando. The protagonist would stop at nothing to champion what he felt was right. From risking his life to save drowning persons to pulling an annoying thorn from a strange lion’s paw.

No matter the deed, small or big, Androklutz always learned no good deed goes unpunished. Even unto death.

Eve tortures Santa next with …A Change of Diet!!

Creator and friend learn that pets will bite the hand that feeds them.

Able is the final tale teller with The Secret Origin of Grooble Man.

Steve Skeates and Sergio Aragones serve up John Jacobson’s story of word power. The four-page account is as long as it needs to be as good intentions are dashed with one utterance.

Each recital is interspersed with one- and two-page joke panels while the stories are bookended with Sergio Aragones art and wit. All are tied up with the South American showman’s usual disposal of the hosts as they lament the lack of appreciation for their craft and themselves.

For a more detailed history of Plop!, please refer to our earlier offering for Easter with issue five.

Posted Saturday, August 26th, 2023 by Barry

Rex the Wonder Dog (1952) 1

Anyone who has been with us the past few years should remember what non-holiday we celebrate today. If not, our guest host should give it away.

Today is National Dog Appreciation Day. To date, we’ve had Krypto, Ace and Lockjaw emcee. This year, we’ve asked Rex the Wonder Dog to do the honors.

For those not familiar with Rex, he was birthed in 1952 by DC war scribe and Wonder Woman chronicler Robert Kanigher. Artist Alex Toth gave him shape.

Sometimes mistaken as a Krypto clone, Rex came first. Superman’s super pooch didn’t appear until 1955 in Action Comics 210.

Rex does borrow from a canine of the same name and moniker who appeared in several silent films of the 1920s.

That is where the similarities end.

Rex the Wonder Dog (1952) 1

Rex is a white German Shepherd with augmented abilities allowing him to communicate with humans and all animals. He has nigh super strength, stamina and intelligence. Courtesy of a drink from the Fountain of Youth, Rex experiences health and a longevity associated to the fabled fountain.

Rex first appeared in the DCU in his own titular series running 46 issues. His pedigree grew from Toth for the first two issues to John Broome for issue three and Gil Kane till the series ended in 1959.

Rex was not heard from again until Steve Englehart re-introduced him in Justice League of America (1960) issue 144. Next, he would appear in DC Comics Presents 35. From there, Rex found himself nestling at the feet of many of the DCU mainstays.

He appeared in Flash (1987) issues 46 and 47, Green Lantern (1990) issues 30 and 31 Guy Gardner: Warrior. Rex would be a supporting character in Superboy and the Ravers (1996).

Following another extended lay off, Rex would appear in the Day of Vengeance: Infinite Crisis Special 1 then in Shadowpact.

As always, National Dog Appreciation Day is the brainchild of Colleen Paige. Celebrate by cuddling your canine, help at a local shelter and/or adopt one of your own.

Posted Sunday, July 16th, 2023 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 101

America and the world entered the Atomic Age 77 years ago today.

The Trinity technicians may have wondered what they had wrought later, but the resulting self-sustaining chain reaction signaled a division in eras punctuated with a now familiar mushroom cloud.

Since that time, man has poked and prodded what he harnessed in hopes of better understanding and wrangling that power. To honor those who were drug along during the battery of tests, President Ronald Reagan designated July 16 as National Atomic Veterans Day:

Action Comics (1938) 101

“The day was dedicated to those patriotic Americans who through their participation in these tests helped lead the United States to the forefront of technology in defense of our great nation and the freedoms we as Americans hold so dear.”

In 1996, the United States Congress repealed the Nuclear Radiation and Secrecy Agreements Act, allowing Atomic Veterans to tell their stories and file for benefits. By then, thousands of Atomic Veterans had died without their families knowing the true extent of their service.

Pulling from the Golden Age of comic books and nuclear testing, Action Comics issue 101 presents America’s new toy to the comic book reading world. Inside, Crime Paradise, a 12-page propaganda story, introduces the new age in a parable of good and evil.

To save Lois Lane, Superman allows himself to be dosed with a drug that causes him to commit irrational acts. Following the third such event, the Man of Steel flies to the south Pacific where a nuclear test is under way.

The resulting explosion clears Superman’s mind of any confusion. As a result, he offers to film the second explosion showcasing a new atomic bomb. After which, he proclaims the safety and proficiency of the newly harnessed power before returning to Metropolis and jailing the crooks.

Operation Crossroads, held mid-1946, was the first nuclear test since The Gadget was detonated at Trinity the previous year. Coincidently, the islands and setting during the test was similar to that portrayed in Action Comics 101.

This wasn’t the first time Superman would be tested by the rending of the atom.

In Superman 38 readers were greeted by the following exhortation on page one, “Due to wartime censorship restrictions on subjects dealing with atomic experiments (see Time, Aug. 20, 1945, P. 72 and Newsweek Aug. 20, 1945, P. 68), this story was not previously released to the public. You’ll understand why as you read about the astounding weapon that Superman’s ancient foe, Luthor, turns loose against the city in…The Battle of the Atoms!”

Luther would threaten the Man of Tomorrow with an atomic device only to have it explode harmlessly against Superman’s chest disarming the arch villain.

The legacy of Oppenheimer’s is maybe best summed up in his quote from the Bhagavad Gita, “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

Posted Thursday, April 6th, 2023 by Barry

Plop! (1973) 5

For those who go back as far as I do, here’s a little blast from the past to tide you over till Easter.

Plop! was a short-lived humor title National Periodicals rolled out to newsstands in 1973. The New Magazine of Weird Humor! as it billed itself, ran 24 issues finally bowing to the bicentennial and disinterest in the waning days of 1976.

Plop! (1973) 5

Like the EC books of old and DC House books of, then, current day, Plop! featured horror hosts. Cain and Able moonlighted from Houses of Mystery and Secrets, respectively. Eve, joined the duo, as their mother or cousin, depending on what DC retcon you follow. She debuted in Secrets of Haunted House, replacing Destiny.

Plop! is a spinoff of Steve Skeate’s short-story The Poster Plague published in House of Mystery. Publisher Carmine Infantino christened the book and Sergio Aragones blessed it with his talent.

Aragones was only one of the many talented writers and artists who graced the pages. Berni Wrightson, Basil Wolverton and Wally Wood were also part of the package that delivered on a bi-monthly basis.

In issue five, Aragones provides the bookends featuring a mentally handicapped hare attempting to understand what Plop! is as defined by Cain, Able and Eve.

Their efforts provide three short stories and several one- or two-and-done pages of jokes to entertain and enlighten the Easter Bunny.

The Ultimate Freedom allows man to finally fly even if he ultimately is grounded by his own complaints.

Politicians are disparaged even more in His Honor the Mayor with Molded in Evil bringing down the curtain. The final tale is a showcase for Wrightson and billed as a Valentine’s story told in a special Easter issue.

The last page had the Easter Bunny finally understanding what Plop! was and responding with a bunny hop of his own.

The first 10 issues were advertisement free. Poor sales meant ads had to be sold, but even then, the book continued to lose money.

Though largely ignored by the public, the title was lauded within the industry including the Shazam Award for Best Humor Story in issue one, Best Writer (Humor Division) in 1973 to Skeates and the Eagle Award for Favourite Comic in 1977.

So, enjoy Easter and if you have the opportunity, enjoy a little Plop! The early ones are the best, but the series deserves more recognition than it has ever received.

Posted Monday, April 3rd, 2023 by Barry

Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer (1985)

This truly is a Hallmark holiday.

Rainbow Brite is the child of many fathers: Gary Glissmeyer, Hallmark’s Vice President of Creative/Licensing; Cheryl Coza, head of artists; Dan Drake, editorial director of writers of Hallmark; and Hallmark’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Lanny Julian.

Once the team created the prefab character, Jim McDowell of Hallmark’s marketing division wrote her back story.

Hallmark plowed ahead with a toy contract to Mattel and animated rites to France’s DIC. She debuted June 27, 1984, with a prime-time special entitled Peril in the Pits. The Mighty Monstromurk Menace and The Beginning of Rainbowland, both two-part specials, aired later.

Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer (1985)

By 1985, Rainbow Brite was popular enough to land an animated feature on the big screen. Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer was released by Warner Bros. The following year, it, with the made-for-television specials became the keystone for DIC’s Kideo TV programing that began airing April of 1986.

Beyond the comic book adaptation of Rainbow Brite and the Star Stealer, Hallmark’s handiwork was limited to a Dyanmite’s more recent attempts to bring her to the four-color universe. The 2018 series lasted five issues with a trade in 2019 and another in 2021.

So, all of the above to announce National Find a Rainbow Day.

April 3 has been set aside, again, this non-holiday’s origins are lost to time; to look to the sky and find a “colorful ray of hope cast across it,” as stated by National Day Calendar.

If the history of the day is unknown, the scientific cause is not. Rainbows are caused by both reflection and refraction of light in water droplets in the Earth’s atmosphere. They appear opposite of the sun.

The sequence of colors is red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.

The Bible further states rainbows are a promise from God that he will never destroy the Earth by water again, Genesis 9:11.

God had destroyed the Earth due to “…the wickedness of man.”

However, you commemorate the day, just remember, if you find the end of the rainbow, don’t forget to share the wealth.

Posted Friday, February 3rd, 2023 by Barry

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! (1982) 1

We’ve called on him before, and we’re doing it again today. Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew are helping celebrate National Carrot Cake Day.

While carrots may seem an odd choice for cake flavoring, the confection has been around since the middle ages. It is believed carrots were selected as a sweet substitute for sugar. Most likely carrot cake was developed from a carrot pudding.

A carrot cake is a form of quick bread; a mixture of wet and dry ingredients done separately then combined. The finished product is coarser than a traditional cake. Cinnamon and nutmeg compliment the natural sweetness of carrots. Nuts and raisins are sometimes added.

Having offered more information on carrot cake then probably needed, let’s delve into the origins of Captain Carrot.

Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! (1982) 1

The Captain and crew were created by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw. They were given a 16-page tryout as a special insert in The New Teen Titans issue 16. A 20-issue series followed beginning the same year.

Superman discovered the parallel Earth, C, while investigating a ray causing the citizens of Metropolis to act like primates. While flying to the source of the ray, Superman encountered a barrier. The Man of Steel attempted to smash through with a meteor only to find he had skipped to another dimensional plain. There he found Earth C where fragments from the meteor caused members of that Earth to gain super powers.

Together they formed the Amazing Zoo Crew.

Various crises have caused the demise and rebirth of the characters over time. Their most recent reincarnation came in Final Crisis issue seven when Monitor Nix Uotan restored the Zoo Crew to their former selves.

Team members include Roger Rodney Rabbit. His alter ego is Captain Carrot. He gains his powers by consuming a cosmic carrot allowing his superpowers to last 24 hours.

Felina Furr, aka Alley-Kat-Abra who helps with her magic wand.

Peter Porkchops, aka Pig-Iron. A freak accident caused his skin to harden like steel.

Byrd Rentals, or Rubberduck, who is also known as the malleable mallard due to his stretching abilities.

Rova Barkitt, aka Yankee Poodle, can project a force beam consisting of stars.

Timmy Joe Terrapin, also known as Fastback, who can run at superfast speeds.

Chester Cheese, or Little Cheese. Cheese can shrink to atomic sizes

Johnny Jingo, aka The American Eagle. He has no super powers, but functions like Batman.

Though only 20 issues, Captain and crew earned a rogue’s gallery to rival Flash’s as well as Starro the Conqueror and Gorilla Grodd, both of Earth-One.

So, enjoy the day with a piece of cake, topped with a cheesy title.

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 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.