We had a pretty good streak of Spider-Man songs going, but it was interrupted for three Tuesdays of Captain America, because Captain America: The Winter Soldier was such a big hit theaters. Now, while we haven’t even caught our breath from the excitement of that film, we have to brace ourselves for Amazing Spider-Man 2 which starts Friday. Whew! Those folks at Marvel are really pouring it on.
But I have to say in all honesty, I don’t like the way this series of Spider-Man movies is going. Are you listening, Sony? They seem to have lost the essence of the character. Not just Spider-Man, but Peter Parker. In those wonderful, original comic books, Peter Parker is a pathetic, brainy, weak nerd with glasses. Not athletic, not popular, not confident. A real loser. Like me! That’s what made him so popular among pathetic, brainy nerds (i.e. comic book readers) because we could relate to him. When he transformed into Spider-Man he became strong, confident and popular with the ladies. (Just like I hope to be someday.)
It seems like the folks at Sony figured, “If we make him strong and confident as Peter Parker, lose the glasses, and give him a hot girlfriend, we’ll appeal to the winners of the world and it will be a colossal smash!” Bad news Sony: The winners are a tiny minority. People like that exist only in Hollyweird. The vast majority of us are losers. We’re skinny losers, fat losers, smart losers, dumb losers, losers with glasses and losers with contact lenses. By taking away that aspect of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, you’ve taken away our ability to see ourselves as potential heroes. And you’ve missed the boat on building a blockbuster franchise. Who’s the loser now?
To get that depressing thought out of our heads, let’s look at some classic covers, shall we?
Since Captain America: The Winter Soldier is still in theaters (and I still have more Captain America music to share) I’m going to continue my tribute to The Living Legend of World War II. And that means more classic comic book covers featuring everyone’s favorite kid sidekick, Bucky Barnes. No reason.
And while I’m at it, let’s include Batroc the Leaper and The Falcon, just because.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, what are you wating for?
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a hit! It broke the record for a movie opening in April. And that segues nicely into this record. (See what I did there?) Yes, it’s another record about Captain America, the 93-year-old who doesn’t look a day over 90.
Once again we celebrate the star-spangled avenger with a song you probably haven’t heard before. And once again we present a gallery of classic comic covers that feature Bucky, everyone’s favorite sidekick. True blue and loyal to the end. Good ol’ Bucky! What ever became of him?
Click the link below and dance. But don’t break the record! (See what I did there?)
In one of my earliest Comic Book Compulsives I confessed that in spite of their reputation among comic book guys and their admittedly high quality output I was never all that big a fan of the output of the publisher Fiction House. Most likely because of their reliance on non-powered adventurers, usually with some kind of military affiliation. But I also admitted to a strange and abiding fondness for one of their rare attempts at doing superheroes, even if he was, admittedly, a desperately cynical collision between Superman and Captain America. I speak of course of Super-American whoappeared in Fight Comics #15-18, who was an unnamed average solider from a future where everyone has superpowers brought back to a WWII era America by scientist Allan Bruce to fight the Axis powers. He had no “stuff”, no headquarters, equipment, vehicles, supporting players, etc., he was just a standard issue Golden Age superhero with a standard, although admittedly kind of cool, super suit. But for some reason he’s still on my short-list of favorite obscure Golden Age characters.
This issue also featured another short-lived Fiction House, Captain Fight who appeared in Fight Comics #16-19 before he got replaced by another non-supehero character of the same name. He’s a pretty generic, DIY street level slugger without a lot to distinguish him. Surprisingly, a number of Golden Age supeheroes were high school coaches in their private lives and lots of them in shorts, a.k.a. “dressed for track”. But as far as I can he was the only one to do it wearing cleats.
Spring is here and it’s time for The Winter Soldier, the new Captain America film that just opened in theaters (check your local listings for show times). That means we have to interrupt our battle between Spider-Man and Batman over who has the most songs (Batman does), so we can pay tribute to the star-spangled avenger. Naturally we have a song to share that ties in with the film. It’s the theme song, which I know you’ll enjoy.
To celebrate Captain America’s return to the silver screen we present this gallery of classic covers. Whatever happened to Bucky, anyway? Always liked that kid.
Click the link below and sling your shield along to the music.
In 1968 DC Comics published five issues of Captain Action, based of course on the classic action figure who thanks to masks and outfits (sold separately) could become any number of other licensed characters including, inexplicably, Steve Canyon (I can see Buck Rogers and maybe even Sgt. Fury but,seriously, Steve Canyon?). I had of course had one so I also had to have the comics, which of course due to copyright issues had absolutely nothing to do with that Captain Action. This one was archeologist Clive Arno who discovered a trove of “coins of power” which contained (or at least emulated) the powers of the Greek, Roman and Norse gods. Being the 1960′s Clive automatically decides to use his powers to fight evil and in the first two issues the guy was basically all powerful but the story limitations of that obviously occurred to those involved and most of the coins were destroyed in a fire. The surviving few provided Clive with standard issue super powers and made his son Carl, a.k.a. Action Boy, a standard speedster.
The first two issues were kind of ‘eh’ but the series got stranger and stranger as it went along. l could just have easily posted #4 which features the secret origin of Dr. Evil (who is in this iteration is his father-in-law, which is frankly kind of a genius way to add a little extra added soap opera to the superhero/villain conflict) and is even decades later both exceedingly odd and trippy. But upon reflection I had to go with #5. As far as I can tell this is the first time Gil Kane deals with the menace of American fascism but it won’t, be the last, and as far as I’m concerned, this is where he did it best. For whatever reason this is a story that has stuck with me over the decades; let’s see if you like it.
Last week our unbroken streak of Spider-Man songs was broken by Batman. This Tuesday, Spidey fights back! It’s a battle between these superstar super-heroes to see who has the most songs. (Batman does, but I’m not going to be the one to tell Spider-Man. Are you?)
Who will win this battle of the century? (Batman. Like I said.) Be here next Tuesday to see and hear what I have in store!
Click the link below and listen to Spider-Man’s comeback, courtesy of The Nylons.
I know I’ve covered the British boys weekly Busterbefore, but this special 40 page issue is really too good for me to not post. Along with the spectacularly nonthreatening “Super Guy Fawkes” mask in American comic terms it was a “good jumping on point” as it introduces a lot of different new features,
Like there’s the initial appearance of Back-Tracker Jack, a feature I’ve wanted to read ever since I saw an ad for it in another Fleetway comic, which was an edited version of the first panel from the first page. From this I think I may be forgiven for assuming Jack went time traveling into the past thanks to the offices of his “magic camera”, which is not the case. Jack is the assistant of a standard issue super scientist, inventor of a device which thanks to the agency of hysterically incomprehensible pseudo-scientific gibberish can temporarily dredge up people from the past. Having now read the first installment I can’t imagine how the hell they made a series out of such a slender premise, which is why I hope I’ll be able to read the next installment.
Here’s a novelty; I’d assumed that by 1965 that the British boys weeklies would have retired the illustrated prose story, a holdover from the days when the weeklies were still equal parts comic and penny dreadful, but here it is, usually they ran one or two pages, I’ve never seen one that went on for three. Maybe it was a reprint, a last minute filler they stuck in when another feature fell through? No clue.
Plus there’s the always reliable ghost breaker Maxwell Hawke…
As well as something that came as a bit of a surprise, an English translation of Les tours de cristal (The Crystal Towers) a Bob Morane adventure written by Henri Vernes and drawn by Dino Attanasio. It came as a bit of a surprise because while I’d seen some translated European material in British comics they had previously always been humor features — I had just assumed that they never brought over any adventure strips. For the record Bob was a pilot turned all around adventurer who first appeared in a series of novels but who made his way to comics and animation; there’s a cool looking 1998 series that’s readily available on the web, but unfortunately not in Engish.
Yet anyway. I’m current watching animated versions of Spirou on Netflix and Valarian on Hulu Plus so nothing’s impossible I have found — which frankly is starting to freak the hell out of me.
And here’s the “origin” of Thunderbolt the Avenger, a DIY looking superhero with actual super powers. Could he have been at least partially inspired by the then current TV series Mr. Terriffic (no relation to the DC character) about a similarly street level looking crime fighter with super powers? I don’t know, just throwing out the possibility.
And here’s the first installment of the serial Toys of Doom, a prime example of the genre I have “humorously” dubbed “Doctor Doom Vs. Billy”, where a couple of British school boys fight a proper supervillain, in this case a demented toymaker who weaponizes children’s playthings.
And, finally, here’s the announcement of a Dalek kite giveaway in the next issue followed by a rare appearance by Smiler, a not half bad kids strip I know from it’s 1950′s run in Knockout. I imagine this a reprint included for its fireworks theme.
Here’s another Australian comic book superhero from the 1950′s, The CrimsonComet by the great John Dixon. Though Dixon did superheroes, like the Australian version of Catman, clearly he was more interested in plainclothes adventurers like the aviator Tim Valour (which, thanks to the extra added ‘u’ in his name I keep mentally calling Tim Velour, but then I’m profoundly damaged).
I say it’s “obvious” because this story works a lot better when it focuses on private eye Ralph Rivers than when it finally shifts to The Crimson Comet, who appears to be a slightly altered version of Timely’s The Red Raven.