Monday, August 30, 2010

Blazing Action with...the Blue Bolt!

In the 1940s, comic books were the equivalent of videogames today.
Everybody was publishing them, even the staid Saturday Evening Post!
Their comics line was Novelty Press, and to create the lead character, they commissioned young up-and-coming writer/artist Joe Simon.
Simon came up with the concept, plot, and character designs and produced the first issue.
But, by the second issue, his workload between this and other projects was so overwhelming, that to stay on deadline (Yes, there was a time when comics artists actually MET deadlines!), he partnered with another young up-and-comer, Jacob Kurtzburg.
You know him as...Jack Kirby!
(In the '60s he would, with Stan Lee, co-create The X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor...basically 95% of Marvel Comics' Silver Age line-up, almost all of whom are still going strong today! Yeah, THAT Jack Kirby!)
Thus, with The Blue Bolt, the legendary Golden Age team of Simon and Kirby born!

As to the character himself...he was a football star who was struck by lightning (twice), recovered, flew his private plane to get help, crashed it so hard that it fell thru to the center of the Earth where the inhabitants of an advanced civilization used radiation to save and improve him, was given a costume and weapon, and sent to battle the local super-villain, The Green Sorceress.
And that was just the origin story!
Then things really got busy!
It took a year for Blue to both fall in love with, and finally defeat, Greenie.
Then realizing World War II was under way, he went to the surface to battle the Axis.

Simon & Kirby moved on to create other, even higher-profile, projects (Captain America, Newsboy Legion, Young Romance, etc.) but Blue Bolt chugged on, surviving until the early 50s, when, after changing from a superhero to horror title, it was laid to rest as a result of a public outcry against comics led by Dr. Frederic Wertham.

We at Atomic Kommie Comics™ have resurrected the Blue Bolt, including his first appearance, his (in our opinion) BEST cover, and his final Golden Age cover appearance!
For a fan of the Golden Age of Comics, Jack Kirby, or the Blue Bolt himself, any of our shirts, mugs, mousepads or other goodies would make great back-to-school, birthday, or holiday gifts (espeically combined with one of the kool books below)!
Show the fanboy (or fangirl) in your life you know what they like!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"...into the Third Dimension leaps...Captain 3-D!"

In the early 1950s, "3-D" using red and green prints of simultaneously-shot movie footage from cameras a couple of feet apart. (note: sometimes blue was used instead of green, but the stereotype of 3-D is a red / green lens juxtposition.) became the hot format in movies.
When a viewer wore glasses like these they would perceive the two projected images as a single 3-D image!
Taking comic book line art and modifying it to produce a similar 3-D effect was technically simple, so almost every company attempted at least one 3-D book between 1952-55.
Most were 3-D versions of existing comics including Superman, Batman, Tales from the Crypt, Tor, even Katy Keene!
However, Captain 3-D was the Simon & Kirby team's attempt to jump on the 3-D bandwagon with NEW material.

A disheveled, stranger stumbles into a seedy used bookstore.
He hands a book and pair of weird glasses to the young clerk, warns him to never sell it, just as a gunman comes in and shoots the stranger, disintegrating him.
The clerk, Danny Davis, disarms the gunman, who flees and is shot by an associate waiting outside.
Danny puts on the glasses and looks thru the book, which is blank except for an illustration of a costumed man which jumps from the page and stands in front of Danny.
Before another word is said, the associate gunman returns...with allies!
The costumed man defeats the group with ease and tells Danny to look at them thru the strange glasses.
Danny sees the attackers as cat-people!
As it turns out, the costumed man is the last survivor of an advanced civilization wiped out in a war against the Cat People 50,000 years earlier.
Placed in the book by advanced technology, he is brought to life by the holder of the book and glasses to battle the Cat People, who were all but wiped out, but who now have sufficient numbers to try to conquer the world again!

A cool premise and nice set-up, playing up the use of glasses to both empower the hero and perceive villains. (The movie They Live! used a similar gimmick)

Unfortunately, a legal battle involving the 3-D process all but killed the financial viability of producing 3-D comic books, and, though material was already finished, there was never a second issue of Captain 3-D!

We at Atomic Kommie Comics™ feel the character deserves better than that, so we restored him (or at least his cover) to our all-new 3-D Comics & Movies line (in the Comics section, naturally)!

Welcome him back! ;-)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Coolest Hero of All--Sub-Zero Man!

Since hot weather currently is currently playing havoc with most of the U.S., I thought it appropriately-ironic to present the "coolest" hero of the Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™--Sub-Zero Man!
Debuting along with Blue Bolt in Blue Bolt Comics #1, Sub-Zero (as he was usually referred to) was actually a Venusian astronaut!
His spaceship hit an asteroid made of frozen gases that froze the crew solid. Uncontroled, it crashed on Earth near Salt Lake City.
Somehow, the un-named Venusian survived the freezing phenomenon that killed his crewmates, but left him in an icy condition that enabled him to freeze anything he touched, or even stared at! (Ice-Vision?)
By using his atomic pistol on himself, he was able to "thaw" out for brief periods, which grew longer as the series progressed.
Realizing he was marooned, he decided to help fight evil, which had become non-existent on Venus, a planet where everyone was of the highest moral character!

Created by Bill Everett (HydroMan, Prince Namor: the Sub-Mariner, Amazing-Man, Conqueror), his first cover appearance was Blue Bolt Comics #4 (shown above) where Everett's propensity for aquatic action was put on display yet again!
Though he only appeared on the cover a couple of times, he was one of the steadiest back-up features in Blue Bolt Comics' long run.

He never got back to Venus!
But, we at Atomic Kommie Comics™ have given him a new home as part of the Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™ collection of (dare we say?) kool kollectibles including t-shirts, mugs, messenger bags, and other nifty stuff!

He's also cameoed in Alex Ross' Project SuperPowers, and hopefully, we'll be seeing a lot more of him in the future!
After all, Earth is now his home...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"The Cisco Kid was a Friend of Mine..."

The Cisco Kid was the first Hispanic multi-media superstar, featured in books, movies, radio, comic books, newspaper strips, and eventually, television, predating Zorro in each media (except Zorro never had a radio show)!

As created by legendary writer O Henry, in the short story "The Caballero's Way" in 1907. the Kid was neither Hispanic nor a hero!
A 1914 silent movie of "The Caballero's Way" altered the character to the version that's became famous...a wandering hero, called "The Robin Hood of the Old West", who, with his sidekick, righted wrongs without killing (but with lots and LOTS of shooting) just like The Lone Ranger!
Over two dozen more films followed, as well as a long-running radio series, a newspaper strip, several comic book series, and a 156-episode tv show famous for being the FIRST American tv series filmed in color!
Some of the films and tv series episodes are on dvd.
Note that not all dvds have color tv episodes, some have have b/w versions!
(All the movies were b/w!)
In the 1990s, Jimmy Smits and Cheech Marin starred in a very well-done tv-movie pilot for a new series that, unfortunately, wasn't picked up (and isn't available on dvd).
But, there's talk of a new big-budget film version of the character sometime in the next couple of years!

We at Atomic Kommie Comics™ are proud to reintroduce the classic Western character to a new audience in our Western Comic Adventures™ line.
Just go to The Cisco Kid & Pancho for a look at 6 different designs, including his 1st comic appearance on t-shirts, mugs, messenger bags and other goodies including a kool 12-month calendar!
They'll have you going "Oh, Cisco!" "Oh, Pancho!" just like Duncan Renaldo & Leo Carrillo did in the classic tv series!

And, to make a really kool Cinco de Mayo gift set, why not add one of the NEW Cisco Kid graphic novels from Moonstone Books?

For our faithful fans...FREE...over 200 episodes of the radio show!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Death-Defying 'Devil aka Dynamic DareDevil aka the ORIGINAL Dare Devil

Silver Streak Comics was unique in two respects;
1) It wasn't named after it's lead character, like Flash Comics or Blue Bolt Comics.
(In fact, the hero known as The Silver Streak didn't even come along until issue #3, and then he was just a backup strip!)
2) The lead character was a villain!
And what a villain he was!
The Claw was the first great villain of the Golden Age!
He was a, literally, inhuman scientific genius with powers of size-changing, hypnotism, and numerous other abilities depending on the needs of the story! (In the Golden Age, these things tended to be a little, well, loose.)
In his first few appearances he was barely defeated by various international secret agents who would stumble upon his various operations, but The Claw himself would always escape to plot again!
While the foul fiend dominated the front of the book, several heroes made their debuts in backup features, among them a mute fellow in a weird half-yellow / half-blue costume who used a boomerang!

Created in Silver Streak #6 by writer / artist Jack Binder, brother of noted pulp sci-fi writers Otto & Earl Binder, this DareDevil was Bart Hill, rendered speechless as a boy when he witnessed the murder of his father!
The silent lad learned how to use a boomerang, and, when he became an adult, adopted a costume in order to avenge himself against evil in it's various forms.
Not a bad origin tale, overall.

Jack Cole, who later would create Plastic Man, took over the strip in the next issue, tossing out everything except the boomerang and the name Bart Hill, creating the first comic book retcon!
He also modified the costume, making the yellow sections bright red.
Cole then decided that his revamped hero would make the perfect ongoing counterpoint to The Claw, so as of Silver Streak #7, he pitted the two against each other in an ongoing battle that lasted five issues, which ended with The Claw finally being captured!
At that point, DareDevil was given his own title, DareDevil Comics, with the greatest real-life villain of all as his first opponent--Adolf Hitler! With the aid of other heroes, including The Silver Streak, DD managed to stalemate Der Fuehrer.
Of course, The Claw escaped to wreak further havoc in DareDevil Comics until #31, where he was "killed".
(The Claw has since returned both in Project SuperPowers and The Next Issue Project: Silver Streak Comics #24.)

Cole went on to other projects, and writer / artist Charles Biro took over the strip.
Biro gave Bart an entirely new origin, having the orphaned kid raised by Australian Aborigines and trained by them to use boomerangs!
Bart Hill settled down to a typical life of an acrobatic superhero whose new secret identity of a policeman enabled him to serve the law by day, and justice by night...until the Little Wise Guys came along in #13!
Jocko, Peewee, Scarecrow, and Meatball were a kid gang whom Officer Hill encountered while on patrol. Sensing they were inherently good kids gone wrong, he took them under his wing, guiding them into more socially-acceptible activities, like spying on saboteurs.
It was like having a whole team of Robins or Buckys (sans costumes) to help in his ongoing war against evil!
During one of their adventures against a rival gang, Meatball was killed.
A rival gang member, Curly, feeing guilty about Meatball's demise (though he didn't cause it) reformed, and joined the Little Wise Guys.

The kids gradually took over the book as DareDevil went from lead hero to mentor / advisor to occasional guest-star, disappearing altogether as of #80.
DareDevil Comics continued until #134, September 1954.

Though the character missed the Silver Age, his influence was felt throughout it.
Marvel's Matt Murdock became an acrobatic hero with the same name.
Charlton's acrobatic ThunderBolt wore a very similar costume in tribute to the Golden Age character.

And now, the original hero has returned in not one, but two different incarnations:
The Death-Defying 'Devil in Alex Ross' ongoing Project SuperPowers series and his own self-titled mini-series which restores the original mute aspect of the character, but, as it turns out, Bart Hill himself is deceased.
A grown-up Curly (the "replacement Little Wise Guy") is the new 'Devil!
and
Dynamic DareDevil, guest-starring in Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon series.
This version IS Bart Hill, and The Little Wise Guys are also present!

PLUS: we at Atomic Kommie Comics™ have digitally-restored and remastered several of DareDevil's koolest Golden Age covers on an assortment of pop-culture collectibles in our Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™ line!
You'll also find a couple of DD's covers (including his FIRST appearance) in our The Claw section!

Don't forget to buy Project SuperPowers, Death-Defying 'Devil and Savage Dragon!
We wanna keep DD (and maybe even the Little Wise Guys) around for a while!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Don't Call Her "GIRL Reporter"!

Jane Arden: Crime Reporter ran from 1927 to 1968, predating other female reporters like Brenda Starr: Reporter and Superman's Lois Lane by over a decade.
She's best-known as the FIRST American comic character to have a World War II-related storyline when her writers tossed out the strip's ongoing gangster plotline in a single daily strip and sent her to cover the warfront on September 25, 1939, less than a month after Germany invaded Poland!
Like most major 1930s-1950s comic characters, she was multi-media, with a radio show that ran for two years, a low-budget b-movie (that, while beeing pretty good, didn't do well enough to warrant a series) and comic books.
We at Atomic Kommie Comics™ feel that she deserves to return to the pop culture spotlight, so we've digitally-restored and remastered the best covers from her comic book run for a line of collectibles in our Heroines™ section for girls and women who want a strong, positive role model!
Have a look at Jane Arden: Crime Reporter, 'cause if you're doing something bad, she's looking for you!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

PyroMan--the Shocking SuperHero!

Despite his name, PyroMan is not a fire-based hero! (That ability is possessed by The Flame, in the Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™ lineup.)
Wrongly-convicted and sent to the electric chair, Dick Martin somehow survived electrocution and gained electricity-based powers which he then used to escape, prove his innocence, and bring the real criminals to justice!
He then donned a costume and fought crime and saboteurs by using his electromagnetic powers to fly, deflect bullets, and zap baddies!
Atomic Kommie Comics™ has launched a line of kool kollectibles for the Electric Enigma (catchy, eh?) with four of the best covers from his run in Startling Comics, where he alternated with The Fighting Yank on the cover! Among the digitally-restore and remastered covers are his 1st appearance and the classic Alex Schomberg cover above.
Alex Ross' Project SuperPowers featured him and Hydro (aka HydroMan) together on the cover of their 4th issue, to create a pseudo-Human Torch/Sub-Mariner theme. I suppose water and electricity go together as well as water and fire do...
Pick up Project SuperPowers, the best Golden Age revival on the stands today, and have a look at our retro-styled goodies at Atomic Kommie Comics™.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Beware the Black Owl (BOTH of them!)

We already covered The Owl here, but there was another hero (actually two of them in the same costume) based on the wise bird of legend.
The first Black Owl debuted in Prize Comics #1 as K the Unknown, but became Black Owl in #2. He didn't get a cover appearance until Prize Comics #7, which also featured the comic book intros of pulp hero Green Lama and literary character Monster of Frankenstein!

Now stop me if you've heard this one...
Bored millionaire playboy Doug Danville decides to battle cowardly, superstitious criminals as a fearsome creature of the night.
Utilizing his personal fortune, he creates a masked identity with various non-lethal armaments and takes on the criminal element for several years.
Sounds like a whole slew of heroes of the period, eh?
But there's a twist, folks!
When World War II breaks out, he enlists in the Army!
(Most heroes remained on the Home Front battling spies and saboteurs.)
Realizing it would be best for the city he protects if The Black Owl was still believed to be fighting crime, Doug passes on his costume and equipment to another man in Prize Comics #34...
The second Black Owl was Walt Walters, father of a pair of patriotic teen superheroes, Yank & Doodle whom Doug Danville had teamed up with on several occasions, most notably Prize Comics #24, when they, Green Lama and several other characters, took on the Monster of Frankenstein!
Once Dad became a superhero, the kids became his sidekicks, but remained Yank & Doodle, instead of renaming themselves something avian to match their father's motif!
(Luckily, their color schemes matched!)
When Walt is shot and wounded in Prize Comics #64, he retires from active crimefighting, serving as a non-costumed assistant to Yank & Doodle until their series is cancelled several months later.
Note: we never learn what became of Doug Danville after he entered the Army...

Alex Ross has now incorporated both Black Owls (and Yank & Doodle) into his Project SuperPowers Golden Age revival series, with one of the BOs somehow becoming a living black hole!

While we won't go that far, Atomic Kommie Comics™ has incorporated both Black Owls into our Lost Heroes of the Golden Age of Comics™ line, even giving them their own section featuring the first cover appearance as well as the best cover art for each Black Owl on t-shirts, mugs and other goodies!

So, whether it's The Owl or The Black Owl, we have something on WHOOOever (sorry, couldn't resist) holds your interest!

And buy Project SuperPowers, the best Golden Age revival series on the market!