Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Number 1885: The Phantom Stranger and the Moon ©ult

DC’s initial run of the title, Phantom Stranger, lasted six issues. It was another of Julius Schwartz’s books, and as I have mentioned with his equally short-lived Danger Trail, it may have had something to do with his newer titles of that era, Mystery In Space and Strange Adventures, both hits needing his close attention. Or, it could just be that Phantom Stranger, despite provocative covers and good art, just didn’t survive in a crowded comic book market. It is too late to ask any of the principals involved.

“The Three Signs of Evil” is by John Broome, drawn by Carmine Infantino, inked by Sy Barry and Joe Giella. The first thing that struck me was the "c" in the circle, which here is an evil sign, but is also the symbol for copyright, as in “Copyright © 1952 National Comics Publications, Inc.”

Unlike my example, the boilerplate indicia DC used in that day doesn't use the symbol. So, for the purposes of this posting an evil symbol it is, and forget I said anything.

From Phantom Stranger #2 (1952):

In 2012 I showed the debut of the Phantom Stranger. Just click on the thumbnail.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Number 1887: No, man...NoMan is no man

The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents heroes of the sixties, spread over the eponymous title, and a couple issues each of comics NoMan and Dynamo, seem much more akin to Golden Age comics of twenty years prior. The stories are simpler than the grand cosmic epic that wove its way through the Marvel Comics line, or the often bizarre stories from DC Comics.

I had not looked at NoMan #2 (1967), from which this story comes, in many years. At the time of its publication I was familiar with artist Ogden Whitney, but not as a superhero artist. To me he was an artist at ACG doing supernatural stories, and he drew the deadpan Herbie comics. I did not know then that Whitney had drawn the hero, Skyman, for Big Shot Comics 25 years before drawing NoMan.

And NoMan is really no man...he is an android. I thought that was cool: a dead guy who could inhabit android bodies, which were stored at HQ. They were ready for him to pop into life and go into action. (Had this concept been an actual Golden Age superhero, he would probably have been shown as a mechanical man, which also sounds okay to me.) Oh, and NoMan had the added benefit of a cloak to render him invisible.

This story is about an Egyptian priestess who has lived for several millenia by killing a guy a day. The body count, which had to be staggering, isn’t discussed, but the method is: she kills them with a kiss. Must’ve been some kiss. I read this when I was twenty and thought, “A kiss? That’s ALL?” A twenty-year-old male would tend to think like that. I wouldn’t doubt I added a few uncensored scenes in my head between the panels, if you know what I mean.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Number 1886: Turok goes 'round 'n' 'round

The original Turok comics had a very simple premise. Turok and Andar, two pre-Columbian Native Americans, wander into a lost valley. They become lost within the lost valley and can’t find their way out. They share what seems like a huge place with a variety of prehistoric men, and creatures extinct in the outside world. This particular story, from Turok Son of Stone #4 (1956), fits that storyline. Turok and Andar, and their caveman pal, Lanok, look for Lanok’s home, and get into tussles with dinosaurs. The second story in the issue (not shown here), continues from this story, but is more of the same. That is not to say that Turok Son of Stone is not entertaining within its self-contained parameters, but a reader knows what he is going to get.

The story is credited by the Grand Comics Database to Gaylord Dubois for the script, and Bob Correa and John Celardo for the artwork.

I have mentioned before I never read any of the comic book revivals of Turok, but I did come across a 2008 animated movie of Turok. The full movie is on YouTube, no less. (As I write this, anyway. If you are reading this post later and encounter a black screen, it is YouTube’s fault, not mine.) The storyline of the original comics is too simple for modern tastes, so this is gorier and has a revisionist story bringing the heroes into the lost valley. I think the look of the characters in animation is uninspiring, but I'm not the target audience for the film.

I give praise to the people who made the film for using Native American actors for the voices, including Adam Beach, Adam Gifford, Irene Bedard, Michael Horse, and Russell Means, among others.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Number 1885: The enemy of my enemy: the Blue Tracer and the Soviets

The Blue Tracer was a feature about a super tank, created and drawn by Fred Guardineer. The Tracer could do anything: it had weapons, it could fly, go underwater, on land...and it was built by two guys, “Wild Bill” Dunn and “Boomerang” Jones. The feature did not last too long, from Military Comics #1 (1941) through #16 (1943).

In 1975 Fred Guardineer re-drew the first episode. I showed it in 2009 from its appearance in Cartoonist PROfiles magazine. Just look for the link below.

This episode is from Military Comics #13 (1942). The Tracer is going up against a Nazi version of the supertank. Our heroes have the help of the Russians, who before the end of the decade became the bad guys. At this late date I'm still reading about differences we have with Russia.* Sheesh.

From Cartoonist PROfiles #31. Just click on the thumbnail.

*C'mon, people! Let’s work together!