Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Reading Room: BLUE BEETLE "Trap for the Blue Beetle"

The Blue Beetle was a beat cop without much pocket money...
...so, unlike Batman and the other millionaire heroes, Dan Garret had to depend on his local pharmacy for gimmicks and disguises!
Dan's partner, Mike Mannigan survived for the entire Golden Age run of the Blue Beetle, but when Dan Garret was revamped by Charlton in the Silver Age and became Dan Garrett (note the extra "t"): archeologist, Mike was nowhere to be found.
A different version of him did pop up in DC's CountDown mini-series in 2007!
This story from Fox's Mystery Men Comics #5 (1939) is credited to the the pen-name "Charles Nicholas", but was written by Will Eisner and illustrated by Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski, who later used the "Charles Nicholas" name for all his comic work until he retired.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Reading Room: THE OWL "Food Market Racketeers"

The Owl's second appearance, while keeping the story elements, completely reworked the strip's visuals, as seen in this never-reprinted tale from CrackaJack Funnies #26
The revamp included a new costume, which The Owl would keep for the rest of his days (with minor color variations), and primary characters who now look more like individuals, especially Nick Terry with his broken nose, a rare condition for a lead character who's supposed to be refined and educated!
(Usually supporting or comic-relief characters had a broken nose.)
Though the Owl's Golden Age adventures ended in 1943, he was the only Dell superhero to return during the great superhero revival of the Silver Age (but not in a Dell comic)!
You'll see that tale next week!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Reading Room: THE OWL "Carter Escapes"

WHOOOOO Knows What Evil Lurks...?
Nope, it ain't The Shadow...but our hero does cast a shadow...with glowing eyes, in this installment of our look at owl-themed heroes in comics!
The Owl's premiere appearance in Dell's CrackaJack Comics #25 (1940) by an unknown writer  and artist doesn't give an origin, and features both a costume and gimmick (the shadow with glowing eyes) that will never appear again!
(Note: the strip is copyrighted to "R S Callendar" who apparently was a packager working with Dell.
His name appears on all the material in CrackaJack, Popular, Super, and other Dell titles that wasn't derived from newspaper strips or other licensed sources like Red Ryder and John Carter of Mars.)
As of the next issue, new ongoing artist Frank Thomas radically-redesigned everything from the characters' appearances to The Owl's costume and gimmicks.
You'll see that tale later this week!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Reading Room: WOLFF "Path of the Dead"

The "barbarian in a post-apocalyptic future Earth" concept is a popular one...
...from Teenage Caveman to BlackMark to ClawFang to Kamandi to Killraven to Planet of the Apes (Yes, PotA qualifies) to Thundarr to Yor: Hunter from the Future, scantly-clad heroes using primitive weapons against super-science and/or sorcery in a devastated world has proven to be a popular trope in various media.
Written by Luis Gasca (under the pen-name "Sadko") & Esteban Maroto, illustrated by Maroto.
Published in England in Dracula (1971), a 12-issue partworks magazine* by New English Library, the first 6 tales made their American debut in Warren Publishing's HTF Dracula TPB in 1972 which reprinted #1-#6 of the British Dracula's run.
The remaining tales from #7-#12 have never been published in the US.
We will be presenting the complete Wolff strip on this blog over the next few months.
Watch for it!
*Partworks magazines are a limited series issued from weekly, fortnightly, or monthly.
They usually run 12-24 issues for each volume.
When the final issue in a volume is published, the publishers offer a wraparound cover to make the complete set into a hardbound book. 
The buyer is offered the option to bind the magazines themselves or send the set to the publisher who professionally-binds the mags and sends the bound volume back to the customer.
This concept is extremely popular in Europe, but has never caught on in America, despite numerous attempts.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reading Room: BLACK OWL "Man Who Couldn't Remember to Forget"

Realizing it would be best if The Black Owl was still believed to be fighting crime...
...Army recruit Doug Danville aka Black Owl, passed his costume and equipment to Walt Walters, father of patriotic teen superheroes, Yank & Doodle whom 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!
While the writer of this tale from Prize Comics V4#3 aka #39 (1944) is unknown, the artist is Maurice Del Bourgo, a journeyman with credits in every genre at almost every company during the Golden Age.
Once their dad became a superhero, the kids became his sidekicks, but remained Yank & Doodle, instead of renaming themselves something avian to match the Black Owl's motif!
(Luckily, their color schemes matched!)
Curiously, the boys didn't realize their father was the Black Owl, despite the fact they had worked with the original!
The Black Owl was framed for murder and jailed in Prize Comics #45, and when their father didn't return home, the duo finally figured out their dad's secret identity.
When Walt was shot and wounded in Prize Comics #64, he retired from active crimefighting, serving as a non-costumed assistant to Yank & Doodle until their series is cancelled several months later.
Note: we never learned what became of Doug Danville after he entered the Army...
 Next...Enter The Owl!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Reading Room: BLACK OWL "Crime in Chinatown"

The next hero in our look at comic book Owls was the Black Owl...
...whose politically-incorrect (and potentially NSWF due to racial stereotypes) first appearance in Prize Comics #2 (1940) is our subject today!
This never-reprinted premiere tale was written by Robert Turner, penciled by Pete Riss and inked by Jack Binder, under the single nom-du-plume "Pete Nebird", which the team retained for their brief run on the series.
The Black Owl kept his "mystery-man" ensemble until Prize Comics #7, when the Simon & Kirby team took over the strip and performed the first of their reboots/revamps of existing series which included giving the hero an actual costume (as opposed to a mask and business suit)...
...enabling him to take over the cover slot for most of his remaining stories.
You can see the complete Simon & Kirby Black Owl collection in the recent hardcover Simon & Kirby SuperHeroes, so we're not going to present those stories here!
Next, the Black Owl passes the mantle to...the Black Owl II!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Reading Room: BLUE BEETLE "Protection Insurance for Newsboys"

At last, the Blue Beetle hits his stride...
...as he finally appears in the armored costume that will (with minor variations) strike fear into the hearts of evildoers for the next decade or so!
This story from Fox's Mystery Men Comics #4 (1939) is credited to the the pen-name "Charles Nicholas", but was written by Will Eisner and illustrated by Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski, who later used the "Charles Nicholas" name for all his comic work until he retired.

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