Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Before the Ant-Man, there was...the Fly-Man! (Part 3)

When The Fly returned in 1965, he was revamped...
... in an attempt to mimic Marvel Comics.
The Archie Adventure Line was renamed Mighty Comics Group (with a corner box graphic similar to Marvel's), and a new writer-artist team took over the book trying to match Stan Lee's scripting and Jack Kirby's penciling...
Writer "Jerry Ess" was Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, who replaced Robert Bernstein, the initial scripter of the revamped Mighty Comics Group titles.
Artist "Paul Arr's" real name was Paul Reinman, whose one saving grace was that he was incredibly-fast since he became the primary artist for all the Mighty Comics titles* including Fly-Man (which became the anthology Mighty Comics Presents as of #40), Mighty Crusaders, and The Shadow!
Now if you thought this was bad, as soon as the Batman TV series hit in January, 1966, and "BatMania" swept the country, Archie Comics' editors forced Siegel to add exaggerated "camp" dialogue and plotlines to the titles.
Unfortunately, Jerry was no better at writing those elements, then he was at mimicking Stan Lee's style.
By mid-1967, the Mighty Comics Group and Fly-Man were gone from newsstands.
There have been several revivals of the characters since then, but The Fly was never called "Fly-Man" again.
When Belmont Books brought out a paperback reprinting some of the tales in mid-1966, Siegel wrote a new intro and finally received a credit for his scripting under his real name instead of the "Jerry Ess" penname.
BTW, you'll note that Fly-Man is not on the cover!
That's Turan, from the Fly-Man #36 (1966) cover at the top of this post, which makes some sense, since this tale from that issue is the only Fly-Man story in the book!

*Mike Sekowsky ghost-penciled a couple of stories, Joe Giella inked one.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Before the Ant-Man, there was...the Fly-Man! (Part 2)

There was a second Fly-Man introduced a decade after the first one got swatted... by the artist who would co-create Ant-Man!
Using the classic idea (first embodied in comics by the original Captain Marvel) of a kid magically-transforming into a super-powered adult, Joe Simon and Jack Kirby devised a new insect-themed character for Archie Comics' first attempt at a super-hero line since they cancelled the last of their costumed characters in the late 1940s to concentrate on books about Archie and his entourage.
Among the Fly's attributes were flight, super-strength, enhanced eyesight, and the ability to cling to walls and ceilings.
Oddly, the talent to grow and shrink was not one of his initial powers, though it was added later on.
The Simon & Kirby comics studio "packaged" Adventures of The Fly and Double Life of Private Strong: the Shield for Archie, with Simon, Kirby, Bob Powell, George Tuska, and Jack Davis, among others, providing scripts and artwork.
This never-reprinted Joe Simon-written and illustrated tale from Archie Adventure Comics' The Fly #3 (1959) recaps the basics of his origin story without the various fights and chases that filled out the page count of the first issue.
Now you may notice that the character is called "The Fly", not "Fly-Man"!
After four issues, Simon and Kirby ended their long collaboration and went their separate ways.
The book was brought "in-house", and now produced by Archie's editorial staff.
The storyline was "rebooted" by making the teenage Tommy Troy into the adult Thomas Troy and stating he hadn't used the ring to become The Fly in nine years, re-setting the earlier issues (which featured 1959-contemporary clothes and technology) around 1950-51!
Other superheroes, including Private Strong: the Shield and the Golden Age Black Hood begin popping in for guest appearances.
A new girlfriend, Kim Brand, gains her own magic ring and becomes Fly Girl.
However, despite these changes, the book is cancelled in January, 1964 as of #29.
The Fly and Fly Girl's strip moves to the backs of Pep Comics and Laugh Comics before their title is revived with #30 in October 1964, then retitled Fly-Man with the next issue, which came out in May, 1965.
(Yes, that's over half a year between issues!
And you thought Marvel and DC started the trend of late books!)
Why that happened and what resulted will be shown tomorrow...with the warning that what you'll see may shock you!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Before the Ant-Man, there was...the Fly-Man! (Part 1)

With Ant-Man: the Movie opening today...
...we're presenting what could be considered his direct ancestor in comics.
Though he shares a number of attributes with the movie version of Ant-Man, including reduced height, retaining his full-sized strength while small, receiving his powers from a scientist, and criminal connections, Fly-Man couldn't control or communicate with insects.
Illustrated by Sam Glanzman, this never-reprinted tale from Harvey Comics' Spitfire Comics #1 (1941) was the first of two appearances by the Diminutive Daredevil.
In the next (and final) issue of the title, Fly-Man took both the cover and the lead section of the book from the comic's namesake character, Spitfire!
It didn't help since neither character ever reappeared...anywhere!
But, the "Fly-Man" name would reappear almost 20 years later...on a new character with interesting links to Ant-Man.
You'd learn about that on Monday!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Bugged with Comics?

With Ant-Man coming to theatres next week...
...though he'll look more like this...
...we thought it appropriate to take a look at the insect-themed heroes of comics, with a never-reprinted article from the amazingly-kool The Monster Times #3 (1972) by comics fan-turned-comics pro Marv Wolfman!
Now that you've read a primer of insect (and arachnid)-themed characters, be here next week when we present several never reprinted tales about them!