Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday Super Smack-Down: the Batman vs. Wildcat

Welcome back, fight-fans! We didn't want you to think that only Marvel super-heroes slug it out with each other, so today we're bringing you a dynamic DC duke-fest! Unlike the Marvel heroes, who would just fight each other on sight, the DC heroes were usually pals, so they actually had to have a good reason to bash on each other's brain-boxes. Take this classic battle between the Batman and Wildcat, for example...

In Brave and the Bold #118 (January, 1975) by the B&B team supreme of Bob Haney and Jim Aparo, the Joker has infected the entire population of Sparta Prison with a deadly disease. The only cure rests in a little dog used for lab tests...a dog which the Clown Prince of Crime has captured and is holding hostage. In order to try to rescue the dog, the Batman and Wildcat must submit to the Joker's twisted whim for them to...fight to the death!

We'll send you now to your ring announcer...the Joker!

Didja plant your peepers on those gloves, fans? Ouch! Those are gonna leave a mark! And here's the bell!

Whoa, momma! Double K.O.! Of course, at about this time, the little dog, Spot, bites the Joker and escapes. The Batman rounds up Spot and the Joker, Wildcat makes short work of the Joker's thugs, the doctors use Spot to find a cure, and we all live to fight another day! See you next time, fans!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Famous First Fridays: Starr, the Slayer

I know what you're thinking, Groove-ophile. "Who-the-what? What's so famous or first about him?" Well, we all know that Roy Thomas and Barry (pre-Windsor) Smith teamed up to produce the hottest, coolest, bestest sword and sorcery comic of all time, Conan the Barbarian (we do, don't we?), but did'ja know that about six months prior to that dazzling debut, Thomas and Smith teamed for a warm-up/try-out stab at sword and sorcery with a character called--yep, you guessed it!--Starr, the Slayer? Didja know that self-same savage made his debut in Marvel's Chamber of Darkness #3 (January, 1970)? Did'ja know that fateful feature was reprinted in Conan the Barbarian #16 (April, 1972)? Well he did and it was. Who knows, without Starr, Roy might never have convinced Smilin' Stan to take a shot at Conan--or Barry, for that matter! And then where would we be? Conan-less! Perish the thought! So, it's time to give old Starr his due, for without him, we might never have gotten the barrage of sword-slinging swingers we so enjoyed back in the Groovy Age! G'head, Groove-ophile! Get your groove on with Starr, the Slayer in "The Sword and the Sorcerers!"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

If You Blinked You Missed...The Adventurer's Club by John Albano and Jim Aparo

I've come to the conclusion that my overall favorite DC comic of the Groovy Age is Adventure Comics. The Legion of Super-Heroes. Supergirl. Black Orchid. The Spectre. Captain Fear. Seven Soldiers of Victory. Aquaman. Superboy. The Dollar Comic era(with features like Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, the New Gods, JSA, and Deadman). Starman. Plastic Man. Dial "H" for Hero. The digest-sized era (Shazam! and Challengers of the Unknown). For experimentation and originality, Adventure was the DC mag, baby!

For a couple issues, editor Joe Orlando got REALLY experimental, turning Adventure into a really mixed bag with savage pirate tales featuring Captain Fear, urban cowboy crime-fighting with Vigilante, and the truly "weird adventures" of the Adventurer's Club.

The Adventurer's Club was a pretty cool feature that lasted for only two issues (Adventure Comics 426-427, November, 1972-January, 1973). Written by John (Jonah Hex) Albano and drawn by Jim (Brave and Bold, Spectre) Aparo, the Adventurer's Club, featuring narrator and "chairman of the board" Nelson Strong, was actually a framing device for weird/supernatural adventure stories that might otherwise have seen print in Orlando's other mystery mags like House of Mystery or House of Secrets. The series didn't catch on (obviously) but the two stories showed great promise with their twisted plots and fabulous art. I ain't jivin', Groove-ophile! Just check 'em out for yourself!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Black and White Wednesday: Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy "Web of Bleeding Vipers" from Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #3

What's happening, Groove-ophiles? We had such a far-out time digging Shang-Chi and his pals in our last Famous First Fridays segment, Ol' Groove thought we'd just keep the party going with author supreme Doug Moench's dazzling debut as Shang-Chi scripter, aka Peerless Paul Gulacy's second Shang-Chi opus, from Marvel's Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #3 (cover dated August, 1974). You up for it? I thought you would be! See if ya don't get off on the magnificence that is "Web of Bleeding Vipers"!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Secret Origins: Goodwin and Simonson's Manhunter

DC Comics has had a habit of giving us new superheroes with old names. They've been doing it for a loooooong time (Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, Hawkman, etc.) and have kept up the practice to this very day (Robin, Blue Beetle, most of the JSA). Most of the time, they keep the name and toss out everything else. It's rare when an "old name" is spruced up with the original character intact. One of those times, though, one of the very best, was when writer/editor Archie Goodwin and artist Walt Simonson pulled Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's Manhunter out of the mothballs in Detective Comics #437 (August, 1973).

Paul Kirk, Manhunter was actually a pretty obscure character, enjoying a twenty issue run in Adventure Comics back during the early 1940s. When, in 1971/72 DC went to a double-sized, twenty-five cent, one-new-story-plus-a-reprint-back-up format for all their comics, Kirby (or one of his assistants) decided to reprint Manhunter in the pages of the New Gods. The stories caught Goodwin's eye and imagination, so when he was trying to come up with a back-up strip for Batman in his Detective Comics run, he chose to update Paul Kirk.

Goodwin was a wise editor. Not only did he choose a great character to work with, but he also chose a magnificent new collaborator in Walter Simonson. The two of them created a character and storyline that became legendary. And here, you lucky Groove-ophile you, is Goodwin and Simonson's astounding origin of Manhunter (minus the extraneous parts that would only distract you). From Detective Comics #439 (October, 1973), here's "The Resurrection of Paul Kirk"!

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Note to "The Man": All images are presumed copyright by the respective copyright holders and are presented here as fair use under applicable laws, man! If you hold the copyright to a work I've posted and would like me to remove it, just drop me an e-mail and it's gone, baby, gone.

All other commentary and insanity copyright GroovyAge, Ltd.

As for the rest of ya, the purpose of this blog is to (re)introduce you to the great comics of the 1970s. If you like what you see, do what I do--go to a comics shop, bookstore, e-Bay or whatever and BUY YOUR OWN!