Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Target; the hero who WANTS you to shoot at him!

Created by Dick Briefer (who also created the Monster of Frankenstein series from Prize Comics) The Target was a scientist who created a suit of flexible bulletproof metal and used it to fight evil.
His sidekicks, the Targeteers were his alter-ego's business partners, as well.
They wore costumes of the same design, but in different primary (red, yellow, blue) colors.
All three each had a giant bulls-eye design on their chests, which tended to draw enemy gunfire in amazing amounts.
(It's never explained how the metal also absorbed the kinetic energy of the bullets that hit the trio. An isotope of Vibranium, perhaps?)

Interestingly, he didn't make his debut until issue #10 of Target Comics. (The previous issues featured a hero called The White Streak, who faded shortly after The Target made the scene.)
Atomic Kommie Comics™ now offers three classic covers as part of our Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™ line of collectibles, including the 1st appearance cover!
Note: As part of Alex Ross' new Project SuperPowers series, the Target & Targeteers were cover-featured on #5 along with The Arrow.
Don't forget to buy it, and EVERY issue of Project SuperPowers! It's one of the best series on the market today!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Phantasmo: Master of the World!

Once more, we journey to Tibet, birthplace of literally hundreds of superheroes from the Golden Age of Pulps and Comics to the present including The Shadow, The Green Lama, and Doctor Strange.
Lamasaries in pop culture did a thriving business in training Westerners who crashed on, stumbled into, or sought out their mountaintop locales to receive physical and / or mental training which they then used to fight evil back in their homelands.
(Oddly enough, very few Asian characters bothered to go to the Himalayas to learn mystic or martial arts! But I digress...)

A rich, but disillusioned, American who had spent over two decades living in Tibet, seeking enlightenment from the monks, learned the lamas' secrets of "ultimate control of their mental processes."
Returning to the USA, he took a new civilian identity, "Phil Anson", and began a war on crime as Phantasmo! (We never learned his original name or why he was so disenchanted with his previous life.)
Like The Spectre, Phantasmo was actually an astral projection who could take solid form when separated from his "host" body.
His abilities included super-strength, flight, near-invulnerabilty, and penchant for growing / shrinking tricks.
Also like The SpectrePhantasmo wore just shorts, boots and a cape. (astral bodies apparently don't get cold.) Unlike The Spectre, who wore green, Phantasmo wore yellow with gold highlights. This had the unfortunate side-effect of making him look like he wasn't wearing anything at all if the Magenta printing plate got screwed up, which happened from time to time! (Warning: NSFW)
While his astral form ran around doing heroic feats, his human form was unconscious and helpless. Phil hired Whizzer McGee, a bellhop at the hotel Anson lived in, to guard his body while it was "unoccupied".

Debuting in The Funnies #45, Phantasmo was the first superhero character from Dell Comics, who had previously done reprints of newspaper strips like Dick Tracy, but not original material.
From his premiere, Phantasmo was the cover feature of The Funnies until #57,  when he shared the cover with up-and-coming superstar Captain Midnight, who forced him off the cover as of the very next issue!
"The Master of the World" remained as a backup feature until #63, when The Funnies became a funny animal book and Captain Midnight got his own title.
Phantasmo literally disappeared for several decades, until revived (in flashbacks) in Alex Ross' Project SuperPowers mini-series a year or so ago!
We suspect he'll be showing up in the present-day storyline, in due course.

In the meantime, we're re-presenting him on a line of kool kollectibles including t-shirts, mugs, messenger bags and other nifty tchochkies.
So, check out "The Master of the World", as Phantasmo was described on the covers, before he catches a cold. ;-)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The clock striking "12" signals the coming of...

We at Atomic Kommie Comics™ are big fans of retro pop culture. (As if you couldn't guess)
And, in the 1940s-50s, one of the biggest pop cult phenomenons was Captain Midnight!
Books, Comics, Movies, Radio, TV...He was EVERYWHERE!

Created for radio in 1938, the patriotic aviator ran the Secret Squadron, what we today would call a "black ops" team, supported by the government, but functioning outside of cumbersome legalities in dealing with spies, saboteurs, and (after the war) criminals!
Trivia note: the Secret Squadron originally used the code "SS" on their messages, decoders, and uniform patches, but changed it to "SQ" after World War II began to avoid reference to the notorious Nazi SS stormtroopers!
Captain Midnight replaced Little Orphan Annie as the flagship radio show for Ovaltine, carrying on the tradition of issuing mail-in collectible premiums in return for Ovaltine labels and jar seals, taking it to far greater levels than any other radio series in history! (The phrase "Captain Midnight Decoder" became synonymous with mail-in premiums.)
The show ran Monday thru Friday in 15-minute segments, with ongoing storylines running for several months at a time, ending each episode with a cliffhanger and a coded message which required a Captain Midnight Decoder to translate.
A series of Big Little Books, a newspaper comic strip, and two different comic book series quickly followed, as well as a 15-chapter movie serial.
The radio show ended with a bang in 1949, as Cap's archenemy Ivan Shark (an evil aviator) was killed in the final episode! Talk about "closure"!

Ovaltine revived Cap (but not Ivan Shark) in 1954 as a weekly tv series with a heavier science fiction emphasis.
The Captain was now a civilian adventurer operating out of a mountaintop base in the SouthWest US, battling criminals and the occasional Communist spy.
Though only 39 episodes were produced, the show reran continuously in syndication until the mid 1960s.
Trivia note: the syndicated version was retitled Jet Jackson: Flying Commando because Ovaltine owned the "Captain Midnight" trademark and didn't sponsor the reruns!
It became notorious for the fact that every time anyone (male, female or child) spoke the name "Captain Midnight", the new name "Jet Jackson" was dubbed over it by one middle-aged male voice actor! (Apparently, none of the original cast were available!)

Ovaltine continued to use "Captain Midnight" on advertising and occasional tie-in premiums until the late 1990s, when they finally abandoned the trademark.
Since then, he's only been around as part of old radio show collections on cd or mp3...until now!

This year, Moonstone Books revived Captain Midnight in NEW comics and prose stories (set in the 1940s)!
Besides his own series, he's also part of a team of other Golden Age aviator-heroes called the Air Fighters!

Captain Midnight's already been part of our collection with six different vintage designs including five classic covers and his stylish logo on a variety of items including t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, messenger bags, and other tchochkes, for almost two years!
In addition, we now have both a Captain Midnight 2010 12-Month Calendar with a dozen dynamic classic comic covers, including the first issue of his 1940s title (featuring the Golden Age Captain Marvel welcoming him), AND an Aviators of the Golden Age of Comics 2010 12-Month Calendar which features Cap AND a number of other Air Fighters characters!
As unique graduation, birthday or Father's Day gifts for collectors of pop culture kitch, you can't go wrong with one of these klassy and kool kollectibles!
For something REALLY special, why not combine one of our Captain Midnight collectibles with one of Moonstone's new Captain Midnight books as a gift set?

A FREE gift to our loyal fans: downloadable mp3s of the Captain Midnight radio show!
BONUS FREE gift: downloadable episode of the Captain Midnight tv show!
(And you don't even have to send us an Ovaltine label!)

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Coming of Captain Future (BOTH of them!)

Created and written by legendary sci-fi writer Edmond Hamilton, Captain Future I was a futuristic Doc Savage-style pulp hero with an entourage of aides including robot Grag, shape-changing android Otho, and Simon Wright the Living Brain.
An "ultimate-human" type hero with Olympic-level physical abiilties and genius-level mind, the Moon-based Cap, aka Curt Newton, battled evil all over the universe, first in his own title, and later in the sci-fi anthology pulp Startling Stories.
Strangely, when his publisher transferred him into Exciting Comics, Cap was rechristened "Major Mars", even though he was still Curt Newton, the other characters remained the same, and the comics stories were adapted from his pulp tales!
That publisher then created an entirely NEW comic book hero and assigned HIM the "Captain Future" name!
Captain Future II was present-day (1940s) scientist Andrew Bryant who exposed himself to a combo of gamma and infrared radiation which granted him super-strength, flight, and energy-emitting powers! (instead of frying him like bacon, which is what would happen if it were you or me!)
In a unique twist, if he over-extended his powers, Cap would have to return to his lab and "recharge" himself!
Cap had a long run in Startling Comics and also appeared in several issues of America's Best Comics but never had his own comic.
This version is the one revived by Alex Ross in Project SuperPowers.
Interesting graphic note: in Alex Ross' redesign, Captain Future II now wears a reversed Project SuperPowers logo "S" on his chest instead of the original lightning bolt which looks exactly like the SHAZAM! Captain Marvel's!
As it turned out, it was a "Z", since Cap was, in fact, the mythological god Zeus in human form (as he often did, usually to bed women)!

Check both of them out (including Cap I's FIRST pulp and comic appearances, AND Cap II's FIRST appearance) on shirts, messenger bags, mousepads, mugs, a 12-month calendar & other kool kollectibles by clicking here!