Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reading Room: "Introducing CAPTAIN ATOM"

He co-created Spider-Man and Dr Strange...
...but this is Steve Ditko's first co-creation (with writer Joe Gill), exactly as it appeared in Space Adventures #33 (1960)!
Captain Atom has enjoyed the longest career of any Charlton character, still going today in his own title (from DC)! (Note: The Charlton version of the Blue Beetle didn't come along until 1964, and the Ditko-revised version first appeared in 1967!)
Note that despite the blue/silver coloring on the interiors, Captain Atom was shown on the cover in his orange/yellow garb.
Also, his trademark hair-color change from red to white when he "powers up"  isn't shown.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Reading Room: PHANTOM LADY "Jack-in-the-Box-Murders"

Last time we saw a villainess in a Phantom Lady costume...
 ...this time the roles are reversed as the Phantom Lady dons an evildoer's garb!
Both Senator Knight and Don Borden see Sandra in the Jack in the Box costume, yet both of them call her "Phantom Lady"!
You may notice a difference of art style in this story from Phantom Lady #21.
That's because the story is penciled and partially-inked by Jack Kamen with touchups by Matt Baker.
Kamen was being phased in as Baker's replacement as Matt moved on to other projects.
Baker's retouching grew less frequent as Kamen picked up the style, so by the end of the runs of both Phantom Lady and All Top Comics, the art was entirely Kamen.

featuring goodies emblazoned with cover art that Fredric Wertham railed against in Seduction of the Innocent.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Reading Room: PHANTOM LADY "Copy-Cat Killers"

Question: What's more fun than watching a scantly-clad Phantom Lady in action?
Answer: Watching two scantly-clad Phantom Ladies in action!
How dense is Don?
He spends hours sitting next to a woman who doesn't even wear a mask and can't figure out she's not Phantom Lady?
But then Don doesn't realize Sandra Knight is Phantom Lady when she's right in front of him...
While the story is typical of the type of slightly off-kilter plot Ruth Roche came up with, the art is another matter entirely.
While the inking style looks like Matt Baker, the layouts and pencils definitely are not.
Most people think it's Jack Kamen, who did a couple of Phantom Lady covers and stories later in the book's run.

featuring goodies emblazoned with cover art that Fredric Wertham railed against in Seduction of the Innocent.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Reading Room: NOT WHO YOU THINK: Ghost Rider "Origin"

WARNING: Stereotypes of Native Americans and Asians common to the 1950s. May be NSFW.
From Ghost Rider #1 (1950).  Written by Ray Krank.  Penciled and inked by Dick Ayers.
He began life in the late 1940s as Rex Fury, aka The Calico Kid, a masked hero whose secret identity was a lawman who felt justice was constrained by legal limitations. (There were a lot of those heroes in comics and pulps of the 40s including our own DareDevil and Blue Beetle!)
But, with masked heroes in every genre doing a slow fade-out after World War II, and both the western and horror genres on the rise, the character was re-imagined in 1949 as comics' first horror / western character!

The Ghost Rider himself was not a supernatural being.
He wore a phosphorescent suit and cape, making him glow in the dark, appearing as a spectral presence to the (mostly) superstitious cowboys and Indians he faced.
Since the inside of the cape was black, he'd reverse it, and appear in the dark as just a floating head, usually scaring a confession or needed information out of owlhoots.

Despite the initial aid from deceased Western heroes (and a heroine) in this origin tale,  the series' early days were populated with villains who were standard owlhoots or, like The Ghost Rider, people pretending to be supernatural beings.
That changed around 1952, when he started facing real mystic menaces including zombies.
Unfortunately, it was about this point in time that Dr. Wertham began his crusade against comics in general and horror comics in particular...
By 1954, the Ghost Rider had lost his series. The next year he disappeared entirely.

In the late-1960s, Marvel Comics was about to expand their line and decided to take several long-unused character names (including Captain Marvel and Phantom Eagle) and apply them to new characters.
They also revived Ghost Rider, illustrated by the original version's artist, Dick Ayers, and with the same costume and gimmicks! (At least they changed the secret identity and origin.)
 He only lasted a year or so in his own title, but he's been showing up as a guest-star at Marvel ever since, under the names Night Rider or Phantom Rider, since the Ghost Rider name was usurped by a  motorcycle-riding supernatural hero in 1973.
Eventually, the Western hero was given a supernatural background as well, which resulted in his appearing in the Ghost Rider movie...
Ironically, the writer of the Marvel Western hero, Gary Friedrich, was the co-creator (with Mike Ploog) of the modern motorcycle rider, just as Dick Ayers was the co-creator/illustrator of both Western versions!

But, over 50 years later, Atomic Kommie Comics™ brought the original version back back, digitally-restored and remastered on a host of kool kollectibles to go with our other masked Western heroes including The Lone Rider, The Red Mask, The Black Phantom, and The Masked Ranger.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Reading Room: PHANTOM LADY "Ace of Spades"

The Damsel of Darkness meets her first costumed villainess...
in this Western-themed, never-reprinted tale from Phantom Lady #20!
Phantom Lady takes a couple of tricks, horsemanship, lassoing and sharpshooting, from another Golden Age heroine, the Black Cat, who was secretly movie actress/stunt girl Linda Turner, and thus had a reason to be skilled in those talents, which most modern women didn't perform.
Curiously, Sandra Knight had never demonstrated proficiency in any of those skills before...
Script probably by Ruth Roche, art definitely by Matt Baker.

featuring goodies emblazoned with cover art that Fredric Wertham railed against in Seduction of the Innocent.