Friday, July 22, 2016

Reading Room: MARVEL SUPER-HEROES "Phantom Eagle" Conclusion

When Last We Left Our Masked World War I Flying Ace... 1917, German-American aviator Karl Kaufman knows it's only a matter of time until America enters World War I on the side of the Allies.
Unfortunately, after he moved out of the family home, his homesick parents had returned to Germany before the war began.
Karl believed that, if he fought for the Allies (as many American flyers had in the Lafayette Escadrille), his parents might suffer reprisal.
So he adapts the identity of the masked Phantom Eagle.
While testing his aircraft over Long Island Sound in anticipation of going to Europe, he encounters...a flight of German Fokker fighters!
Taking down three of them, the Phantom Eagle follows the rest of them to their nearby base...a gigantic dirigible aircraft carrier hanging in the clouds over America's East Coast!
Without a radio, the Eagle chooses to retreat back to his airfield so he can phone a nearby Army Air Corps base and refuel/re-arm his custom-built fighter.
Though skeptical, the military sends up a squadron to investigate, and they find the dirigible...
Though it appeared in 1968, after a number of Trimpe pencil and/or inking assignments had seen publication, this was Herb's first submission to Marvel while he was working in their Bullpen!
Herb tells the tale in this interview!
Historical note: When Trimpe (and Gary Friedrich) came up with the character in 1966, the 50th Anniversary of World War I was ongoing, and several comics publishers had premiered WWI-themed strips and comic books, including Dell's World War Stories, G-8 and His Battle Aces (which you'll see here in August), Lawrence (a one-shot based on the movie Lawrence of Arabia), and Air War Stories; DC's Balloon Buster (in All-American Men of War, Our Fighting Forces, and Enemy Ace (in Our Army at War, Showcase, and Star-Spangled War Stories).
Marvel was limited by newsstand distributor contract to how many books they could publish per month, and decided not to cancel/revamp any existing titles.
In 1967, Marvel took the reprint title Fantasy Masterpieces, which went from 1950s Atlas sci-fi stories to a mix of those tales plus 1940s-50s superhero stories, retitled it Marvel Super-Heroes, and dumped the sci-fi, replacing it with super-hero tryouts to "test the waters".
The first one, Captain Marvel (Captain Mar-Vell), was an immediate success.
Black Knight, Ka-Zar, Medusa, and Doctor Doom, showcased supporting characters and ended up as springboards to later appearances by the characters in other books and (except for Medusa) eventually, their own strips and/or titles.
As for the two other original concepts...
Well, we know what happened to Guardians of the Galaxy, which, after receiving an All-New X-Men-style revamping, went on to multi-media glory.
The Phantom Eagle popped up in several books, including Trimpe's Incredible Hulk, Ghost Rider (where this pin-up by Trimpe, which was probably a rejected cover, appeared),
..and, finally, 40 years after his debut, his own book, a 2008 mini-series entitled War is Hell: the First Flight of the Phantom Eagle by Howard Chaykin, who had previously-deconstructed DC's premier aviator, Blackhawk!
Bonus: original art of several of the pages seen above.
Note the editorial comments and corrections...
Next Month: G-8 and His Battle Aces!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Reading Room: WOLFF "Manuscript of Rep-Tah"

...rescued from wolves by a woman who calls herself Galadra, Wolff joins her on a quest...
From New England Library's Dracula #6 (1972), the Luis Gaska (aka Sadko) & Estaban Maroto series just gets weirder and even somewhat psychedelic!
It also looks like somebody lost track of who's who!
Galadra looks remarkably like Rulah, who enchanted Wolff, turning him into a werewolf!
Was it a translation error? 
(The original version of this story was in Spanish!)
Note: this tale concludes the six Wolff stories included in Warren's Dracula TPB.
The remainder of the tales were never published in America, but we'll be presenting them over the next few weeks.
BTW, here's the cover to the issue by Enrique Torres (aka Enrich) using horror icon Barbara Steele as Rulah/Galandra!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

STARDUST: The Superhero Donald Trump Would Be...If He Was a Superhero!

Did Donald Trump, born in 1946, read comics when he was a kid?
And, if so, which hero did he dream of being?
No, despite being one of the single mightiest beings in the universe, Superman's stories required logical thinking to enjoy, and we've seen Donnie's not big on that, even now.
Captain America?
Certainly patriotic, but not powerful enough.
Donnie thinks BIG!
So there's only one character he might have read, and whose adventures are wish-fulfillment without having to think about how it works, much like Don the Con's pronoucements about how he'll run the country.
Read the following, and compare the story (and captions) to Trump's descriptions of himself and how he'd be as President...
Written and illustrated by Fletcher Hanks, this surreal intro from Fox's Fantastic Comics #1 (1939) has little logic or even sanity in it's tale of almost-magical justice, much like Don the Con's own explanations of how he would deal with real-world problems.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Charlton Fools Day: SINISTRO: BOY FIEND "Too Many Happy Endings"

He could've been the typical All-American boy hero...
...but a cruel fate intervened to make him just the opposite!
The Boy Fiend's battle against all that is good and decent will continue in the near future.
Easily one of the weirdest strips to come out of the Silver Age of Comics, this never-reprinted tale from Charlton Premiere #3 (1968) by Grass Green (writer/layouts) and Henry Scarpelli (pencils and inks) could've been the Ambush Bug or Forbush Man of Charlton.
The highly under-appreciated Richard "Grass" Green was one of the first wave of fanboys-turned-pros which included Roy Thomas, Bernie Wrightson, and Barry Smith, and the only Black member of that august group of pioneers.
Though he did a lot of work for various fanzines in the 60s and 70s, Grass' mainstream professional work was limited to Charlton's Go-Go humor title and two issues of Charlton Premiere.
Green found a niche in underground comics in the 70s and 80s, creating Super Soul Comix and WildMan & RubberRoy.
He passed away from cancer in 2002.
HERE'S an extensive profile about Grass Green on the CBDLF website.

This post is part of an informal blogathon entitled
Charlton Fools Day
conceived and organized by Kracalactaka to bring attention to Charlton Comics, often considered the "runt" of the Silver Age comics litter.
Visit his blog HERE and see a list of other participants as well as his own contributions

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Reading Room: VOODAH "Monster Fish"

One of the first Lords of the Jungle was Black...
...and illustrated by a Black artist!
Illustrated by Matt Baker (who most fans know was one of the premiere Good Girl artists of the '40s-'50s, but don't know was one of the few African-American comic artists of the era), the idea of a non-White jungle hero seems obvious today, but was extremely-daring in the 1940s!
In fact, it was so daring that Voodah slowly became paler over the next few issues, eventually becoming just another White guy bossing the locals around!
Compare Voodah here with his first appearance in the previous issue of McCombs' Crown Comics HERE!
BTW, the "Clarence Ramon" credit at top is a house pseudonym.
Baker is the artist.
The writer is unknown.