Friday, November 28, 2008

"Gal" Friday! Alice Goodwin

I really love the scrumptious cheesecake models who appear in British tabloids like The Sun or Zoo Today, whether they are established professionals or amateurs who are just starting out, they just seem wholesome to me - despite the nudity.

(It's all in good fun!)

Alice Goodwin caught my eye when I spotted a photo of her over at Frank Cho's Apes and Babes forum. The poster who placed her picture there didn't identify her by name, so ye Catacombs editor-in-chief had to launch a search in order to ferret out this beguiling gals nom de guerre (not that I believe this gorgeous young lady is using a fictitious name, but you know what I mean).

Just look at the photos at left and you will get a small hint of her considerable charms. She is a great pick to restart the "Gal" Friday feature here on the blog, and hopefully some of you will feel encouraged to seek out more of her "revealing" photo shoots online.

This girl is definitely one to kill for!

There's No Escape From .... The House of Secrets

House of Secrets originally series ran for 80 issues between Nov/Dec 1956 to Sept/Oct 1966. Primarily a mystery-suspense anthology, the companion series to House of Mystery featured the adventures of modern sorcerer Mark Merlin, dual-personality anti-hero Eclipso and Prince Ra-Man the Mind-Master. The series was revived three years after its cancellation, beginning with issue #81; Aug.-Sept. 1969, with horror and suspense tales that were introduced by a host called Abel (his brother Cain, hosted House of Mystery).

The House of Secrets came to be the name of the actual edifice in which Abel lived. Mike Friedrich and Jerry Grandenetti explained its origins. The Sandman series (which featured Abel as a recurring character) later revealed that it existed both in the real world of the DC Universe and in the Dreaming, as a repository for secrets of all kinds.

Swamp Thing also made his debut in issue #92 (June/July 1971).

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dare You Enter .... The House of Mystery

House of Mystery was originally published by National/DC Comics in December 1951 as a horror anthology, featuring weird tales of the supernatural or mystery-themed stories. However, Dr. Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent crusade led to a growing backlash against similar horror comics in the mid-1950s, and the advent of the "Comics Code Authority" with its restrictions on horror-themed story lines (banning stories dealing with such fare as werewolves, vampires, etc.), so the series was revamped as a science-fiction adventure series, with those monster and other mystery-suspense type tales that were permitted by the comics code.

Beginning in the mid-1960s, the book was taken over by super-hero stories headlining the Martian Manhunter (House of Mystery #143; June 1964) and the introduction of Dial H for Hero (House of Mystery #156; January, 1966).

The title once again changed format beginning with issue #174, when EC Comics veteran Joe Orlando was hired by DC to take over as editor. As the Comics Code Authority provisions were being challenged at that time by both DC and Marvel over its content restrictions, Orlando wisely chose to return the series to its original horror themes. The first issue under Orlando reprinted old horror/suspense stories, but the new direction truly began with House of Mystery #175 (May-June 1968) which introduced Cain, the "care taker" of the House of Mystery, who would introduce nearly all stories that would run in the series before its cancellation in October 1983. Cain also hosted the spin-off series Plop! and became a recurring character in Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Heroes: "The Eclipse, Part I"

The solicitation for last nights episode (11/24/2008):

"After reuniting Sylar and Elle, Arthur orders them to find Claire and bring her to him. Matt, Hiro and Ando team up together and follow Daphne to her hometown to discover what she's been hiding. Meanwhile, Nathan and Peter Petrelli travel together to Haiti in search of the the only man that can stop their father from destroying the world, the Haitian."

So .... a dark eclipse event begins and wreaks havoc with all of the heroes' powers. [Yeah. I already know what you're thinking out there. In this very story arc, Tim Kring and his hapless company of pathetic writers, have specifically told us that Nikki/Jessica/Tracy received their powers through DNA manipulation/gene splicing/whatever, and .... Nathan Petrelli also received this treatment when he was apparently born without any inherited powers. Dr. Mohinder Suresh? Yep, he injected himself with his Maia-induced-formula and inadvertently became a monster. What do any of them have to do with some funky eclipse, which the shows creators NOW claim to have given the characters their abilities?] Arthur Petrelli orders Elle and Sylar to bring in Claire. But,hold the fort here, Noah Bennett is in the house and he wipes the floor with Sylar & Elle, before hustling off with poor Claire (who took a bullet that was meant for H.R.G.), and she isn't self-healing at the moment.

This episode may just as well have been titled "Thin Ice". In media comments Kring has made in recent days (visit Ain't It cool News) it appears that he may have become burned out on his own show. No wonder, this show is quickly becoming a lame duck with all of the ridiculous inconsistencies, but it's not fair to keep harping on something that can't help but spin out of control once it's own originator gives up on it.

I will probably watch next week, but barring a miracle which would change my mind about the faded glory of this series, I am about finished here. Too bad! I really liked this show, and H.R.G. can still kick ass with the best of them. He's my favorite hero out of the whole bunch.

Monday, November 24, 2008

1970's Flashback: Howard the Duck

Howard the Duck was created by writer Steve Gerber and first appeared in Marvel Comics Man-Thing feature in the series Adventure into Fear #19 (Dec. 1973). Howard is an anthropomorphic duck who becomes trapped on a human-dominated Earth. His adventures skew between social satire, parodies of genre fiction & film with a tongue-in-cheek awareness of the medium. He eventually graduated from a backup feature in Giant-Size Man-Thing, and acquired his own series with Howard the Duck #1 in 1976.

Gerber wrote 27 issues of the series, illustrated by Frank Brunner (who left over creative differences with Gerber), with Gene Colan replacing him as the regular artist. The series gradually developed a substantial cult following, and Howard's entry into the 1976 U.S. presidential campaign under the auspices of the All-Night Party, was later immortalized in a reference in author Stephen King's The Tommyknockers. Marvel attempted a short-lived Howard the Duck newspaper strip from 1977 to 1978, initially written by Gerber and drawn by Colan.

Gerber gained a degree of creative autonomy when he also became Howard the Duck's editor, in addition to his writing duties, which was unusual for mass-market comics of the time; however the stories became increasingly experimental. For example, Gerber once found himself unable to meet the deadline for his regular script, so he substituted an entire issue of text pieces & illustrations satirizing his own difficulties as a writer.

In 1978 Gerber and Marvel clashed over issues of creative control, and Gerber was abruptly removed from the series. This was the first highly publicized creator's rights case in American comics, and attracted support from major industry figures, some of whom created homage/parody stories such as Destroyer Duck by Jack Kirby, with Gerber in order to dramatize the case. Disney had also threatened to sue Marvel for infringing Donald Duck's copyright and this forced a different design, including the use of pants (seen in the lameduck 1986 Spielberg/Lucas film and later comics).

Howard the Duck still pops up from time-to-time, including his recent cameo in the crossover mini-series Secret Invasion. Steve Gerber passed away in February 2008.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"Magno & Davey vs. The Clown" (Ace Periodicals)

"Magno & Davey vs. The Clown" (Part II)

"Magno & Davey vs. The Clown" (Part III)

This superhero yarn from Four Favorites #8 (May; 1945) was published by Ace Periodicals. I've previously posted two other stories from this issue featuring Lash Lightning & Capt. Gallant, but it has been awhile since they appeared here in the Catacombs.

Magno and Davey were created by golden age writer Paul Chadwick, who shares a name with a contemporary comic book guy (the creator of Concrete; published by Dark Horse), but there is no apparent connection between the two Chadwick's. Trivia is fun stuff isn't it? Maybe this is just an example of Earth 1/Earth 2. Ya' never know!


Upcoming on the blog will be more adventures of Rulah Jungle Goddess, the return of my "Gal" Friday feature and a few reviews of upcoming comics & films. Oh, and more "1970's Flashback" stuff. Joy!

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Sandflower of Venus" (Ziff-Davis; courtesy of THOIA)

"Sandflower of Venus" (cont.)

Weird Thrillers was published by Ziff-Davis and ran for five issues starting in Sept./Oct. 1951. This fabulous eight page sci-fi actioner from the first issue was provided to ye olde Catacombs editor by the illustrious Karswell of "The Horrors Of It All", right after you read this really beautifully drawn story by Murphy Anderson (& probably Irv Novick), please hop on over to his blog for another tale from this very same issue.

I would also speculate that the likely writer of this story could have been Superman creator Jerry Siegel, who was an editor at Ziff-Davis when this series was published.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

From the Dust Bin: Mighty Man (of Crossgen Comics)

Mighty Man was a one-shot character in CrossGen Entertainment's fictional Sigilverse. He made his only appearance in Negation War #1 (2004). Mighty Man was a previously unknown Sigil-Bearer of the Superman archetype.

In Negation War, Mighty Man's planet was the first of many to be invaded by Charon and the Negation. His watcher/mentor (who was dispatched by Danik) took the form of a young male child. Mighty Man was not prepared for Charon's appearance and was killed by Evinlea (Danik's consort) shortly after the Negation arrived on his home planet. His watcher/mentor was also discovered by Charon and eventually sacrificed himself to destroy both the planet they were on and the orbiting Negation fleet; but this effort was mostly made to try and kill Evinlea of the First (whom it is supposed, would have posed a significant threat to Danik's forces (the First) in this universe).

The Sigil is a red-and-yellow mark which serves as the source of supernatural power for many Crossgen characters. The main characters of most titles possessed a Sigil, granting them a range of powers chosen by their personalities, desires, and fates.The red and yellow symbolized Houses Dexter and Sinister of The First (the gods of the Sigilverse). Accordingly, the colors represented Creation and Destruction, Selflessness and Selfishness, Love and Hate, and a number of other conflicts.

The creation and distribution of the Sigils was the work of two Atlantean sorcerers, Danik and Solusandra, who had ascended and become nearly omniscient and omnipotent. Though they pretended to have different motives early in the various Crossgen series, it was ultimately revealed in the end that they had created the Sigil-Bearers to serve as an elite force against the Negation, an evil empire invading from another universe. To that end, they bestowed Sigils, through various sorts of agents. Their agents took many forms, from a bird in Meridian, to a member of the Lesser Races in Scion, to a pair of hooded figures in Sojourn. Danik watched over each Sigil-Bearer in disguise, as one of the orange-eyed Mentors, and trained them for the coming war by involving them in smaller conflicts and forcing them to learn how to use their powers in new and different ways.

The Sigil-Bearers were, for the most part, unique to their respective worlds. Each was given a Sigil by an orange-eyed agent (or aspect) of the god-like Danik. The specific abilities of the Sigil varied greatly, according to the personalities and desires of its Bearer. Presumably, with the proper training and practice, any of the Sigil-Bearers could have used any aspect of the Sigil's power.

Mighty Man was never intended to become a major character of the Sigilverse, but his appearance did coincide with what is generally known about the Sigil-Bearers, that there were many of them and that each one’s powers were unique. Sigil-Bearers only very rarely met, until the events of the Negation War, in which the Sigil-Bearers were finally supposed to gather to battle against the Negation. Unfortunately, the bankruptcy of CrossGen Comics (declared in the middle of publishing this title), and the ending of the series about the Sigil-Bearers, remains unknown.

It was never revealed how many Sigil-Bearers existed. The appearance of Mighty Man in Negation War #1 and his subsequent death hinted at the existence of other Sigil-Bearers who had never appeared in any other Cross-Gen titles. A final count shows that at least 27 Sigil-Bearers were created in various CrossGen Comics. Given that each sigil-in-a-bubble seen on Solusandra's private world (see Solus #1) is a link to a different sigil-bearer, there are at least forty Sigil-Bearers and likely many more.
Mighty Man did not display high-level powers, nor did he display a common trait normally associated with Sigil-Bearers - the siphoning of a First's energy (although there is much that can account for this). Mighty Man's real name was Taylor and he had a wife, Carol & a son, Tommy. They lived together in Tri-City on their unnamed planet.

Above/Left: Mighty Man illustrated by Paul Pellitier.

Remember the "New" Teen Titans: Terra

It is perhaps appropriate that the finale of my special look back at 1980's icons, The New Teen Titans, concludes with the one character that really turned the team on its collective ear during arguably their most popular storyline produced by the creative team of Wolfman & Perez. Purists will also note that most of the classic original Titans also made notable appearances during the series long run, including: Aqualad, Speedy, Hawk & Dove, Lilith, etc.

Terra was created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, and first appeared in New Teen Titans Vol. 1 #26 (December, 1982). She was conceived for a finite life span, co-creator Perez stated that "from the very start, that this girl was going to be a traitor [to the team] and that we were going to kill this character off".

Tara Markov was the half-sister of Geo-Force, and the illegitimate daughter of the King of Markovia. While there, she came under the care of a Dr. Helga Jace, and through her experiments, Terra obtained Earth manipulation powers: specifically, the ability to control all forms of earthen matter. After obtaining these powers, she left Markovia for the United States. Unlike her more heroic brother, Geo-Force, Terra had deep-rooted psychological issues, believing that, with their powers, they should rule Earth rather than help the weaker masses. As a result of this belief, Terra became a mercenary, doing dirty work for others such as Deathstroke the Terminator (with whom she had a sexual relationship, despite being only fifteen years old). She infiltrated the Teen Titans, fooling them by staging a fake battle versus Deathstroke. She then operated as a spy for Deathstroke, eventually giving him the information that he needed to kidnap the Titans, with no regrets.

The captured Titans were taken to a stronghold of Deathstroke's original contractors, The H.I.V.E. Nightwing — who had recently retired from his career as Robin and created his new identity based on stories Superman had told him of a Kryptonian hero — accompanied by Deathstroke's own son, Joseph Wilson (alias Jericho) raided the complex in order to rescue them, but both were captured. When presented to Deathstroke and the organization in general, Jericho possessed his father and freed the Titans, who then attacked the H.I.V.E. Not knowing of Jericho's powers, Terra believed Deathstroke to have turned against her. In retaliation, she went berserk and fatally pulled the whole H.I.V.E. complex down upon herself while trying to destroy Deathstroke. Despite her betrayal, a statue of her was placed in the Memorial in Titans Tower. Her betrayal was never made public, with her brother simply being told that she had died in battle.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Heroes: "It's Coming"

The synopsis for last nights episode (11/17/2008):

"After a preemptive strike against Hiro and Ando in Africa, Arthur Petrelli orders Knox and Flint to hunt down his son Peter and granddaughter Claire. Nathan is stunned to learn his father is alive -- and leading a villainous charge to worldwide destruction. Meanwhile, back at Pinehearst, Sylar has a charged confrontation with Elle. Suresh begins testing his new, combined superpower formula. Later, with the others dead, injured or on the run, Matt attempts to wake Angela. "

Since there are only a couple more new November sweeps episodes before the series goes into a holiday break, I guess things could be worse. I do have to agree with many online sources that Hiro's Arthur Petrelli-induced mind scramble is but the latest lame effort to remove one of the shows major power players off the board for this storyline, I do give the writers a well-deserved nod for finding yet another way to make Hiro seem even dumber. [Sheesh!]

Papa Petrelli continues his reign as the series best villain, but I have grown really tired of Knox, so lets wipe the floor with this guy already. Don't know why the see-saw keeps tilting every which way, but loose (sorry; couldn't resist) as far as Elle, Sylar and Tracy, but whatever. Are they good? Are they Bad? However, Suresh is pretty much a rogue villain now, so no backing away from this one Herr Kring.

Remember the "New" Teen Titans: Starfire

Starfire debuted in DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980), she was created by Marv Wolfman & George Pérez. She is also the third DC Comics character to bear that name.

As princess of the planet Tamaran, Koriand'r was in line to eventually rule the planet as Queen, however her older sister Komand'r (pronounced "commander", also known as Blackfire) developed a bitter rivalry with her after suffering a disease in infancy that robbed her of the ability to harness solar energy to allow her to fly, and by extension, her first-born right to the throne. This rivalry intensified when the siblings were sent for warrior training with the Warlords of Okaara. During a sparring exercise Komand'r attempted to kill her younger sister, resulting in her expulsion. Komand'r swore vengeance on Koriand'r.

That revenge came when Komand'r betrayed her planet by giving detailed information about Tamaran's defenses to their enemies, the Citadel. They swiftly conquered Tamaran with ease, and their conditions of surrender included the enslavement of Koriand'r who would never be permitted to return, or the Citadel would devastate the planet for abrogating the treaty. To Kory's horror, she learned that Komand'r was her master; Koriand'r's older sister made the most of her sibling's bondage with years of horrific servitude and torture. When Koriand'r killed one of her captors, Komand'r decided to execute her as punishment, but the sisters were attacked and captured by the Psions, a group of sadistic alien scientists, who performed a deadly experiment on both sisters to see how much energy their Tamaranean bodies could absorb before exploding from the overload. During the procedure, Komand'r's forces attacked the Psion ship to retrieve her. While the Psions were distracted, Kory broke free using starbolts - destructive blasts of solar energy - which were a result of the experimentation. Against her better judgment, she decided to free Komand'r, who was still absorbing energy. However, far from grateful, Komand'r struck her sister down with more intense power, and had her restrained for later execution.

Kory soon escaped by seducing one of the guards and stole a spacecraft to flee to the nearest planet, Earth, where she met Robin and his compatriots; joining with them in forming The New Teen Titans. She remained a member for years and during this time she was romantically involved with Robin.

Koriand'r displays the traits of Tamaran's joy-seeking culture, coupled with a no-nonsense warrior attitude. For a time on Earth, Koriand'r had a career as a fashion model.

Monday, November 17, 2008

I don't think the dead care about vengeance - James Bond

According to the 1959 short story from which the latest cinematic James Bond thriller takes its name, the Quantum of Solace is defined as "a precise figure defining the comfort/humanity/fellow feeling required between any pair of people for love to survive. If the Quantum of Solace is 0, then love is dead."

The first direct sequel to a previous Bond film, Quantum of Solace finds Daniel Craig’s Agent 007 bent on a mission of revenge for the loss of his lover in the earlier film. Bond even finds himself on the outs with his own British Secret Service, who believe that their man has gone rogue based on his actions during the film.

Not having seen Daniel Craig’s first appearance in the role of the suave super-spy in Casino Royale, I was unprepared for the level of intensity that he brings to the character. I was also surprised at how much this version of 007 owed to the three Jason Bourne spy movies featuring actor Matt Damon. The producers of the Bond franchise wisely opted to learn a valuable lesson from the success of those films and have taken a similar cue in how they’ve re-crafted the venerable Bond character.

Daniel Craig was definitely the right choice for the role and sacrilege notwithstanding, he may ultimately emerge as my favorite cinematic version of James Bond. I have to dash out and pick up a copy of Casino Royale, but if that film hits me the same way that Quantum has, then he will have won me over. Don’t get me wrong, Sean Connery was this good in Dr. No and From Russia With Love, but pretty much everything after Goldfinger (which truly began the trend) and onward, descended into stylistic set pieces, quirky & stereotypical villains, gadgets and other fantasy pablum. Fun stuff mind you, but for high adventure spy thrills, the Bourne stuff far exceeded forty-six years worth of stale gimmickry.

It’s not really fair to compare a current genre film against earlier decades film efforts, because they were really fine for their time, but while Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan each contributed a bit towards arriving at this destination, 007 has been firmly reestablished as a worthy film icon due the outstanding performance of actor Daniel Craig. Here’s hoping that he sticks around for several more Bond epics of this nature, and Mr. Craig also suggested director Marc Forster be brought on board, and this film is the better for it. Oh, and lest I forget, there is a Bourne connection present onscreen in Quantum of Solace. 2nd unit director Dan Bradley worked on the Bourne films.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Rulah Jungle Goddess in "Secret of the Leatherman" (Fox Comics)

"Secret of the Leatherman" (cont.)

From Fox Comics January 1949, Rulah Jungle Goddess #22, our gal falls for the sob story of a true misogynist and inadvertently allows him into her village, where he simply can't help but vent his rage on the other native chicks, before fate deals him a final hand in this tragic tale.
Um, .... enjoy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Heroes: "Villains"

The synopsis for last nights episode (11/10/2008):

"To prepare for the confrontation ahead, Hiro follows respected businessman, husband and father Arthur Petrelli in the days before he "died" -- to discover what drove him to create rival company Pinehearst and strike at Angela. Later, a moment unfolds where Gabriel/Sylar, horrified and guilt-ridden, might have stopped his murderous pursuit of abilities -- that is, if H.R.G. and Elle had swayed from their monstrous assignment. Finally, under the wing of Company man Thompson, agent-in-training Meredith watches her new life go up in smoke, following the arrival of her hot-headed brother."

Prior to the airing of the latest episode of Heroes, two senior writers were fired by the network following growing critical displeasure with the direction of the series, and the widely reported drop-off in viewership. The "Villains" episode was touted to reveal several of the shows long-running secrets, so for the implied olive branch that we, the fans, were extended - What did we get?

Well, we saw the source of the disconnect between Arthur & Angela Petrelli, meaty flashback appearances by previously killed off Linderman & Thompson (guest stars Malcolm McDowell & Eric Roberts), many instances of overlap between several of the key Heroes cast members during pivotal moments from the earliest episodes and the revelation that Flint is Meredith's little brother (and by extension, Claire's uncle) and .... that's about it.

Not really a bad episode overall, but since we were supposed to be treated to some crucial information that "filled-in-the-blanks", I would have liked to see stuff that has only been hinted at, but sadly, still not really dealt with. Several previous guest actors of note, including Richard Roundtree, Joanna Cassidy and George Takei have been presented as being part of the earlier generation of "Heroes" that launched the conspiracy that provides much of the impetus for the current group of "Heroes" to save the world. We remain clueless about what if any powers Cassidy may have had before she was quickly introduced (and immediately killed off) or what significance they may have had to the overall company plan. Guess we'll just have to stay in the dark here.

Robert Forster's Arthur Petrelli is definitely the "biggest" bad guy that has been utilized thus far and no matter what they ultimately do with his character, his contribution has been well worth the ride.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Remember the "New" Teen Titans: Raven

Raven first appeared in DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980), she was created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez. Raven is an empath who can teleport and control her mystical "Soul Self", which can fight physically and serve as Raven's eyes and ears away from her body.

She is the half-breed daughter of a human woman named Arella and the inter-dimensional demon known as Trigon. Raven was raised in an alternate dimension called Azarath, occupied by pacifistic inhabitants whose spiritual leader was the mystic Azar. In Azarath, she was taught to "control her emotions" by Azar, in order to suppress her naturally inherited demonic powers, otherwise Trigon would recreate her in his own image.

During her youth, Raven rarely saw her mother and grew detached from her. Upon Azar's death, Arella began the task of raising and teaching Raven. Around this time, Raven's demonic heritage was revealed, as she met her father face to face for the first time. Soon after her 16th birthday, Raven learned that Trigon planned to come to her dimension, and she vowed to stop him.

Raven initially approached the Justice League, but after they refused her on the advice of Zatanna (who sensed her true demonic parentage), in desperation, she reformed the original Teen Titans as The New Teen Titans in order to fight against her father. The team that she recruited consisted of Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Starfire, Cyborg, and Changeling.

Trigon eventually kidnapped Raven to his home dimension. The Titans followed the demon, defeated Trigon and sealed him in an inter-dimensional prison with the help of Arella (who remained at the inter-dimensional doorway to act as Trigon's guardian). However, Raven continued to fight against her father's corrupting influence as he wasn't completely destroyed. For a period of time, Raven lost control in high-stress situations, but managed to regain control before Trigon could assert himself.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Remember the "New" Teen Titans: Robin = Nightwing

I heard some terrific news today [see bottom] and it reminded me that I never finished my fond look back at the membership of one of the most beloved 1980's super teams, so lets knock the last few of these out of the park starting today with Robin (Richard "Dick" Grayson), who was created by Bob Kane, writer Bill Finger and artist Jerry Robinson, he first appeared in Detective Comics #38 (May 1940).

The youngest in a family of acrobats known as the "Flying Graysons", Dick had witnessed a mafia boss murder his parents while attempting to extort money from the circus that employed them. Bruce Wayne (secretly the superhero, The Batman) took him in as his legal ward after their deaths. Dick used his Olympic-level athletic skills to become Bruce’s sidekick and adopted the costumed role of Robin the Boy Wonder. Throughout Dick's adolescence, Batman and Robin were inseparable.

1964s The Brave and the Bold #54, first introduced the concept of a junior version of the Justice League of America (an all-star superhero team that included Batman). The team was led by Robin, along with two other teenage sidekicks, Aqualad and Kid Flash, to stop the menace of Mr. Twister. Later, these three joined forces with Speedy and Wonder Girl to free their mentors in the JLA from a mind-controlled thrall. They decided to christen themselves, The Teen Titans. By virtue of his tactical skills (gleaned from years with Batman), Robin was recognized as natural leader before these original Titans disbanded some years later.

Afterward, Robin continued his adventures with Batman, and also began studying law at Hudson University. However as Dick eventually lost interest in his studies, he started to take on individual missions, and found himself to be a capable solo crime-fighter. Shortly afterward, the mysterious Raven summoned Dick Grayson and several other young heroes to form a new group of Titans. Robin swiftly assumed leadership, and moved out of the shadow of his mentor. As Dick grew older and spent more time as the leader of the reformed New Teen Titans, he decided to take on the identity of Nightwing to assert his independence. His Nightwing persona was created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez, and first appeared in Tales of the New Teen Titans #44 (July 1984). As Nightwing, Dick Grayson continued to lead the Titans.

The "parting" between Dick and Bruce was entirely amicable. Dick voluntarily passed the mantle of Robin over to Jason Todd, in a memorable scene where he stated that "Robin will always be the second part of Batman and..." The Batman gave every impression of being pleased with his former ward's coming of age, and maintained this attitude until a later post-Crisis on Infinite Earths series retcon that rewrote the origin of Jason Todd (another teenage hero who filled the role of Robin) and the circumstances of Dick's departure from the role.

[On a positive note]: Warner Bro. Pictures Group has wisely chosen to kill the proposed CW Network television series, "The Graysons" which would have followed the life of a younger Robin the Boy Wonder before he met The Batman. Despite having previously announced development on the series, the studios new statement says that the show never had 100% clearance. This is how truly bad ideas die! (Thank god!)

Friday, November 7, 2008

From the Dust Bin: The Mighty Thor by DeFalco/Frenz/Breeding

Twenty-one years have passed since Tom DeFalco was placed in the unenviable position of following Walt Simonson’s popular and critically acclaimed run on the Marvel Comics series, The Mighty Thor. In 1987, finding an audience could have potentially proven difficult for DeFalco in the wake of such quirky Simonson ideas as Thunder Frog and Beta Ray Bill, but the incoming writer had an unlikely ace-in-the-hole in the form of new series artist Ron Frenz, Together these two men forged an alliance that lasted for well over five years on the venerable title - - - one that ultimately took the readers on a wild ride that was highly reminiscent of the Marvel of Days Gone By.

Under DeFalco & Frenz, Thor was less edgy in appearance than it was under Simonson, but the book was certainly more traditional. The two men were initially joined by finishing artist/inker Brett Breeding and for more than a dozen issues starting with #383 (September 1987) they collectively crafted a thing of beauty. Their art truly glistened on the page and easily held up to anything that had come before. Steeped in an obvious appreciation of the works of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and John Buscema, these pros treated fans to a round of epic storytelling on a par with the Marvel Universe from two decades earlier. The Son of Asgard found himself grappling with the gods of Celtic and Egyptian pantheons, challenging the cosmic deities known as the Celestials for the fate of an alien world, and Thor repeatedly battled against a couple of all-new, pesky villains called the Mongoose & Quicksand. Established world beaters like Dr. Doom and the High Evolutionary appeared, we were shown how a young man from a dystopian future proved to be worthy of the mantle of Thor, and with the Thunder Gods original secret identity of Dr. Donald Blake long since retired, Thor even gave up his newer Sigurd Jarlson alias to become Eric Masterson (an identity which was soon spun off in its own title as another hammer-wielding-hero, Thunderstrike). Marvel Comics also chose to premiere their new teenage super-team, The New Warriors, during this memorable run. Now that’s a vote of confidence!

After the all-too brief stint of Brett Breeding ended, "Joltin" Joe Sinnott stepped in for quite a while, but eventually Al Milgrom provided the on-going inkwork over Frenz looser pencils. Other veterans who helped out included Don Heck, Herb Trimpe and Romeo Tanghal. Rather than stumble in the wake of an acclaimed effort, the team of Tom DeFalco & Ron Frenz surged for 77 issues and reminded fans of what real comic book magic (ala the House of Ideas) was all about.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

On this date in history .....


The Gunpowder Plot failed when Guy Fawkes was seized before he could blow up the English Parliament. You may remember this true story formed the basis for the character V's motivation in the comic book mini-series & graphic novel, V for Vendetta, originally written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd and published in Warrior, the British series was later collected by DC Comics (or perhaps you caught the fine movie based upon same, starring Natalie Portman & Hugo Weaving).