Barton Stone, The Cat-Man, was created by Tarpé Mills, pseudonym for June Mills one of the first of the major female comic strip creators, best known for her heroine Miss Fury. The Cat-Man only appeared in two stories in issues 5 and 8 of Amazing Man Comics in 1939. In the first story he’s just been released from twenty years in prison for a crime that for a change in comics he in fact did commit, however he committed the robbery with three other man who went free while he took the fall, on getting out he finds that those three other men have become wealthy and prominent, and while they say they will give him his cut, he is having none of it and swears vengeance against them because they let his wife die in poverty while he was in stir.
He does this by disappearing and then returning a year later disguised as an old lady who uses a cat with poisoned claws to kill the three who got away.
In his second story the original Cat-Man helps a woman who has had a fortune stolen from her by a gang of thugs. He helps her by once again putting on the old lady get-up and putting poison on his cat’s claws. He also beats the crap out of a few of them just to show he’s not a one trick pony… however the cat does get into the fight and does most of the real damage and by the end of the story the woman has her money back, and all the thugs are dead.
This however is the last adventure of comic’s second cross-dressing crime smasher after Madame Fatal, and the only one who also happened to be a serial killer.
Blackhawk has been around for a long time, over 70 years , like most comic book creations they have gone through come changes over the years.
One of the bits in the strip at its start was something called the “song of the Blackhawks” which they usually sang at least once a story for the first year and a half or so. (that’s it in the upper left hand corner below).
Eventually however the writer(s) seemed to have gotten tired of it and stopped using it, then after the war when the Blackhawks started fighting Communists and super-villains they became songbirds again and it was brought back, only now it was a different song every story, shown at the end of the stories as the Blackhawks flew away.
Great Scott but that was some bad poetry!
Here are some examples of the soaring septet and their daring doggerel of yore.
I wonder, did they ever cut an album?
Assuming they’re not all dead yet perhaps the new Blackhawk Squadron could rap their way around the world.
Lately it seems you can’t go to the theater to see a movie without having to deal… err enjoy… no I’m going with deal, with it being in 3-D.
Love it or hate it, and I personally am one who hates that trend, but that’s not what this is about.
This is not the first era to contract that particular contagion. There was a short flirtation with it back in the early 50s that at the time even roped in such people as Alfred Hitchcock (Dial M for Murder), who really should have known better, and John Wayne (Hondo), which explains why in it’s now exclusively 2-D prints the Duke spends so much time throwing punches directly at the camera, and why so many of the actors playing Indians do so much time jumping right at us.
At the same time this was going on in the movie houses, the comics also produced their share of 3-D comics, with the Three Stooges and Mighty Mouse being two of the first character so treated.
The problem was that in comics the red / green separation needed for the 3-D effect used at the time meant those were the only colors that could be used making the comic, so that when viewed without the glasses they looked just horrid. So that died out even faster than it did at the local Bijou.
However there was one company that made a try at striking balance and producing something like 3-D, but without the glasses and with the full color that American comic book fans demanded.
The company was American Comics Group, or ACG, most noted, along with the distinct style given their comics by their main contributors Ogden Whitney, Kurt Schaffenberger, for publishing `Adventures into the Unknown’, the first comic book devoted to the horror genre, and one of comicdoms oddest characters, Herbie Popnecker.
Their experiment was something they called Truevision “3-D effect No Glasses - Full Color!”
Appearing in Eight issues of Adventures into the Unknown, and two issues each of teen comedy comics The Kilroys and Cookie in 1954, this consisted of letting characters and objects slip out of the restraints of the then universally restrictive comics panels and out into the area surrounding them, which instead of being white was now died black, at the same time they had the artists render the background less distinct, like something seen at a distance, while the colorist saw to it that only the close-up main characters were in full color, while the hazy backgrounds where rendered mainly in pastel blues and off whites.
Compared to the other comic on the stands at the time it was unique, the 50s however was not a time that very much welcomed “unique” and Truevision was gone before 1953 was, leaving it an interesting experiment that made so little impact that the few comics that feature it aren’t even all that more collectable than the average ACG comic of the time, that is to say, not very.
Still at the time it was a bold move by the small company, and was perhaps rather too ahead of its time. I mean just pick up some of the comics today, and there you have limbs and objects flying hither and yon all over the black based backgrounds. Truevision it seems, even if no one would call it that, lives on.
While as characters they have little in common, one being the fantasy embodiment of hope and optimism and the other being a quai psychopathic obsessive perfection / justice freak with a fetish for a Halloween image (seriously enough already with the bat symbol on everything, I bet he even pays the Charmin people big bucks so he can have toilet paper with it on the rolls in the john in the Bat-Cave even though only he, and perhaps Alfred, ever see it.)
They being the two most popular and iconic characters at DC Comics, and pretty much the only popular characters they have that originated at the formerly named National Periodical Publications, most of the others, from Wonder Woman to Captain Marvel, having been obtained from other companies, (DC sort of being the imperial Rome of comic companies) it stands to reason that they would want to figure out ways to put them together.
In recent years this was complicated by the two just not getting, along and while this in no way stopped DC from still publishing Superman/Batman, the relationship was at best strained.
Contrast this to the 32 years they spent in World’s Finest comics, starting in 1954, where they were best buds. How things will be depicted in DC’s new 52 era remains to be seen.
However there is another era in the relationship between Superman and Batman that even the most dedicated comic book fan is unaware of, taking place from 1947 to 1948, seven years before their official team-up, this took place not in stories, but only on the covers of World’s Finest Comics.
At the time the comic was twice as large as a regular comic and cost 15 cents, and was made up of separate stories featuring various DC characters such as the Wyoming Kid, Green Arrow, and others. However it’s main draw were stories with Superman and Batman in them.
To showcase this they were featured on the covers in images showed up nowhere on the inside, and such images they were, I give you.
Superman, Batman & Robin Playerz of 1948.
All of them showed the Dynamic Duo and the Man of Steel being very undynamic and non-steel like, mostly just larking about at State Fairs, giving shoe-shine guys a hard time by their red, blue and green boots, and at swimmin' holes, many however show them apparently trying to impress or pick up girls.
So there you have it, the first team-up of Batman and Superman was not them saving the world, but going out on a double dates… unless this was just a publicity campaign by DC to provide beards for them!
The idea of putting wheels on your shoes and rolling about on them is, if you really think about it, an odd, bordering on stupid, idea, but we as a people have been doing it for a long time.
No one knows who the first person was to come up with the idea, but it’s been around since the early 18 century, and the first recorded person to try to improve the whole concept was one John Joseph Merlin in 1760.
And like the original Merlin roller skates have been turning up, if not regularly, at least often enough to get noticed in comic books. *
And despite the fact that comic books are often filled with representations of odd looking humans, in odd looking costumes, when roller skates show up it still looks… well… odd.
For examples see below from World’s Finest Comics in 1948, a one shot from the 80s Black & White mistake… err… explosion featuring a hero called “Skate-man,” Ironman using his always vaguely silly looking armor skates, Barbie on skates (perhaps the only one who pulls it off), a comic from 1957 featuring “the Secret of Roller Skating” (ssssh, don’t tell anyone but `it’s don’t fall down and even a dweeb like that guy can get girls to do stuff like that.’) and the always forgettable Dazzler and her high-heel roller skates, showing that her greatest mutant ability was being able pull off things like that and not regularly break both legs.
Everybody knows DC had the Suicide Squad first in the 60s, as is so often the case with “what everybody knows” everybody is dead wrong. Seems it's been around longer than that, and been used by more than DC.
First off I personally was a little disappointed to find out where the phrase came from, it seems that it first was used in football, the suicide squad being the squad used on kickoffs, that being more dangerous than other plays, or so they tell me.
However a expression with umpf like that can't be expected to say on the gridiron. The first fictional Suicide Squad appeared from March 25, 1936 to April, 1943 in 22 stories in Ace G-Man Stories featuring 3 tough as nails FBI agents battling gangsters, Nazis, and even the occasional super-villain, a Mr. Zero to name pseudonyms, written by Emile C. Tepperman, the man who gave use Operator # 5, Secret Agent X and a number of the adventures of The Avenger (the one with the gray moldable face) the first Squad fought crime and / or evil in such stories as Mr. Zero and the Suicide Squad, Suicide Squad Reports for Death, The Suicide Squad's Murder Lottery & Blood, Sweat, and Bullets. Mostly forgotten they they have recently had a bit of a revival with the reprinting of all 22 of their adventures just last July.
The next Suicide Squad was a comic printed in Australia by Frew starting in 1952. I have been unable to find out a single blessed thing about this crew.... however I'm willing to bet the guy with the pipe on the cover of # 1 is the boss.
Then DC did the Squad, not once but twice, at least one of these teams you probably already know about. The latest version most likely, just like the first two the 60s version, also sometimes known as Task Force X, kind of quickly slipped from the collective mind as well... must have something to do with the name, it is, lets face it, a little bleak.
Here it is, almost 50 years since the premier of Fantastic Four # 1, the comic book that would eventually help change the whole comic book industry.
And I’m sure there will be some whoop de do about it, but what about the time just before FF # 1? Or for that matter what was going on around it when it first came out ?
Well take a look, the issues here are the 8 magazines that were being published by Marvel at the time and came out the either one or two months before Fantastic Four # 1, or with a couple, the same month as FF # 1.
It’s April 1961, there’s Camelot in the air, the first maned space, as well as paranoia about Russian A bombs raining from the sky, and those UFOs everyone is talking about, but the air is also filled with the debut of ABC's Wide World of Sports and Mister Ed.
Meanwhile on the comics rack of your local A & P or Kroger’s you can find the comics above for sale during the same month.
1. Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy are still in their prime
2. The crying need for a few superheroes, say about four, is still evident at Marvel, but there are still a few more months to go.
3. Well, and just what ELSE would you expect a giant Batman to do? Laugh if you want, I would not put it past them to bring this back in some form of other.
4. 50 years later and that darn Zeta Beam still doesn’t work worth a damn, are the IT people working it asleep or what?
5. Cut `em a break, they saved the world 47 times last week and they deserve a little off.
6. Hey! Classic Rock from 1961.
7. Looks bad! Wait a minute…. Why is this giving Superman, Green Lantern and J’onzz a problem?
8. Seriously, where there a lot of kids looking for the next issue, or any issue of The Detectives?
Here’s something you don’t see anymore, and for that matter didn’t see all that much when it was going on.
During the Golden-Age from the forties to early 50’s it was pretty common to reuse art with just a few changes, such as art or color to changes to a Calvary uniform to turn it into a masked hero outfit, or new words over old art.
It wasn’t the sort of thing the major players like DC, Fawcett, Dell or Quality did, nor the second tier player of the time such as Timely, or Archie.
But among the third tier also-rans it was pretty common, not just buying the content that had been produced by another small company and using it all over again, but buying it and then blanking out the word balloons and turning it into a completely different story, after all while they didn‘t play the writers and artist a lot back then, 64 or 52 pages is a lot of fill every month.
As an example a lot of what made up The Masked Rider, were old western stories from other companies with the words changed and a mask drawn over one of the characters to turn him into the title characters.
Below is an example where Harry "A" Chesler Comics character The Master Key is turned a couple of years later into a crime comic detective, all they had to do was take out the eye beams and change the words.
Or maybe it was the other way around and they turned a normal detective into a superhero. It could go either way. I mean it was not like anyone was paying any attention was it?
Suppose they still did that sort of thing?
Imagine you get a job at Johnny Comelately Comics, and NO they don’t want you’re innovations, you can keep Death Potato and his Vegetable Vigilantes to yourself thank you very much, they hand you a dozen comics from Marvel or DC that didn’t quite make it and they don’t care about anymore and J. C. C. Comics has bought the rights to the art, but not the names, characters or storyline and it’s your job to take Marvel’s Night Mask, or Rom the Space Knight, and change them into something completely different with only a few tweaks to the art work (hey we ain’t made of money and those guy charge a lot!) mostly to make sure characters that Marvel is still using are taken out, and all new words, or a collection of random House of Mystery’s from DC from the 80’s that don’t have a continuing character and you have to turn it into one with the same restrictions as above, perhaps you can have a costume put over one character in each story to tie them together.
You know, on second thought that might be kind of fun.