Thursday, July 27, 2017


Grotesque. Show me more.

My fascination with stretching superheroes is almost certainly a morbid one, owing to how completely fucking gross the power of stretching happens to be. Now, while the master of the gross form is very likely Jigsaw (A Joe Simon/Otto Binder creation whose muscles and tendons were elastic, but his skin was a series of fitted segments which would separate when Jigsaw needed to stretch. Gross af), a pretty close runner-up is Plymo, the Rubber Man.

Whoa, Dottie, language!
Described as the only person on Earth capable of absorbing "Vulcanalia" into his body in order to become as pliable as rubber, Plymo is confusing. Vulcanalia is not an object or a substance, it's a festival. I guess Plymo is a party hound. Go Plymo! It's Vulcanalia! Go Plymo, we gonna party like it's Vulcanalia!

Plymo does fall into another one of my favorite categories, namely "Circus Crimefighter!" Unsurprisingly, circuses are packed with crime. I expect that's the main attraction. Fun fact: Cirque de Soleil is also filled with crime, but mostly it's about murdering fun.

When not grossing out everyone in the midway with his elastic feats -- he lets a couple kids stretch his nose and ears out like canopies, lights a guy's cigar from a distance (how romantic!), and puffs his chest out to give himself boobs (according to the poster, anyway, and don't judge unless you can honestly say you wouldn't do it yourself) -- he's fighting crime inside the big top! Or a crime, anyway.

Mister Dasterman, the circus owner, becomes obsessed with lady aerialist Dottie Dixon, and decides that if he can't have her then the lions can. That sounded very villainous of me, I think I'm finally picking up the patter.

"...unless a sporty and sturdy suit can save her!"
Assisted by his newfound, ear-pulling pal "Red," Plymo goes about exposing Dasterman's plots to murder Dottie -- well, he exposes himself, figuratively speaking, by trying to feed her to lions - and then just murders Dasterman. "Give my regards to Satan" he says to an exploding train, revealing a pretty grim streak in a guy who was giving himself boobs a few pages earlier.

Plymo doesn't use his stretching powers to much of a dynamic effect, given his abilities. He's no Plastic Man, to be sure. Excepting a single instance of using his arms like a lasso, Plymo's stretching is almost the least interesting part of his appearance.

Fun thing, though -- CMO Comics, in which Plymo appeared, was the product of the Chicago Mail Order Company, and the story pages were dotted with ads for assorted CMO offers. Comics being formatted the way they are, though, it sort of looked like a pair of blue socks was very important to the conclusion of the story.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


One of the things which vanity- and third-press printing in the 1980s allowed creators to do was to take advantage of new vectors by which to distribute their work from a different medium. This was a helluva boon for the guys who scored daily strips in the college newspaper. If you were wondering where, on your local campus, you might find wan ripoffs of Far Side cartoons or thinly-veiled Bloom County rips, well, look no further! And as to how those endeavors could be passed on to the real world, keep reading ...

Seems pretty self-explanatory to me.

Charles A.Wagner's Cecil Kunkle (Darkline)
1 issue, 1987

Cecil Kunkle had gotten a run from Renegade Press several years before this release. Why it returned on the seemingly-inappropriate label "Darkline" is anyone's guess, although that's pretty rewarding, to imagine that this book is what these guys think constitutes "dark." Also entertaining is that Charles A.Wagner put his name on the masthead but the cover was drawn by Richard Lynn. I dunno, made me laugh.

Cecil Kunkle ran in the Comic Buyer's Guide for a while, earning itself a Slings&Arrows review which I won't repeat here but which I admit I'll never match for brevity and savagery.

The strips are, at best, really rough -- Cecil is the patriarch of a small, dull family, whose adventures sometimes involve the mention of a comic book or two. This is how he gets his foot in the door at CBR, presumably. An interstitial funny animal strip, Terry Turtle, seems to poorly represent both "funny" and "animals." I have to admire, though, the fact that Wagner apparently put his own money behind this second effort to get Cecil Klunke published, for all the good it did him. There's a reason I call these books the product of heroes, even if it's a wan sort of heroism that we might all have been better off without.

The Rubes Revue (Rubes Publications)
1 issue, November 1986

There's nothing quite like finding a comic which doesn't even have an entry in any of the comic book databases I most often frequent online. It smells like ... victory.

Rubes is still being published in -- according to creator Leigh Rubin's website -- 400 newspapers worldwide. I can't even fuckin' picture this. It is very much one of those newspaper strips which owes every debt in the world to Gary Larson, excepting maybe the birth of its creator and the fact that there is oxygen on the planet to sustain them.

Rubin also writers Penguin and Pencilguin, featuring the ever-appealing art of Phil Yeh. The jokes aren't much better than Rubes itself, but Yeh's artwork gives it some vibrancy and life. Please note which feature got the cover appearance, though.

Listen, I bark down its snorkel and everything, but Rubes is apparently still running thirty years after this book, and almost forty since Rubin created his original company (...for selling greeting cards. Was this the guy's dream?). What am I going to say, I guess it has its audience.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Monday, July 24, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.27 (Mar 1981)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Pat Broderick / Danny Bulandi
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Louise Jones
EIC: Jim Shooter

Karza is alive again, HYDRA stands poised to conquer two universes, and Danny Bulandi is inking Pat Broderick. One of these is worse than the other two.

Just realized how much I want a
Conan/Micronauts crossover.
Bulandi isn't a bad inker, I suppose, although I'm not overly familiar with his catalog of work. He's poorly suited for Broderick, though, occluding his best linework and putting the weight of the shadows and lines on the wrong sides pretty consistently. You get really spoiled with Armando Gil on the job.

Anyway, back to the story: Karza has regained his former body and continues to rule HYDRA, despite being only six inches tall. This leads to a tremendously, if unintentionally, funny shot of a HYDRA agent holding a television camera like right up to Karza to make him seem normal-sized.

Karza's independent, launchable hand makes its first reappearance since the first arc, popping off the villain's wrist this time to savagely beat Acroyear's usurper brother Shaitan. The rebel prince is begging like a jerk for the right to kill Acroyear, and Karza is just beating the snot out of him about it. It's entertaining, I won't lie.

Karza has been busy since last issue. He's established a HYDRA launching platform from hidden caverns underneath an amusement park, he's tied up at least one Time Traveler and is leeching Engima Force energy from him, and he's beginning his assault on our universe, the fink.

Meanwhile, the Micronauts and SHIELD are getting their very tiny ducks in a row for a counter-assault on Karza's HYDRA. Complicating matters a little bit is Dagon, Spartak Captain of the Guard and formerly a prisoner of Phillip Prometheus' mint-on-card collection of dead Micronauts. Biotron ain't buying it -- Acroyear is also skeptical, but he's been going through some changes himself lately. Still, there's obviously more to be revealed about Dagon ...

The battle at the amusement park -- a very thinly disguised Disneyland, to the point that I actually recognize part of the Autopia track being used in one scene -- is a return to the war-form of earlier Micronauts battles. There's no not-grim way to depict an all-out battle between a fascist organization of world-conquering villains and the heroic espionage agency sent to defend freedom set right in the middle of a crowded park full of families and kids. For a decent example, look at any international coverage of American foreign policy.

Broderick straight earning his keep here.

So the explosions which send bodies spiralling off in silhouette, snipers on the roller coaster tracks, and a fleet of Microversian Dog Soldier ships coming out firing from a giant clown head in a crowded thoroughfare, and Dum Dum Dugan shooting dudes right in the face ... well, it's not polite, anyway.

The story wraps up on Rann discovering that Karza has possessed Argon. The shock leaves him vulnerable to Karza's laser face, and we end on Rann being tied up next to Time Traveler, while Shaitan once again muses on the benefits of treason. I hate to say it, but this book needs to stay in the anti-Karza fight, it's where the gold is, so far.

Letter column fun, this time it's Mantlo's somewhat heartbreaking confession. If only we'd gotten to one hundred issues ...

Friday, July 21, 2017


Mmmm, pizza and flapjacks.

While both Lois and Lana gain superpowers in this adventure, it's really one of the weakest battles they'd ever fought. Lois did more to abuse her rival just by swiping Lana's uncle's time machine and repeatedly drugging her as a teenager. I mean, that's a high bar to meet, is what I'm saying.

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane vol.1 No. 21 (November 1960) also isn't the first time that the Man of Steel's two paramours have acquired super-powers or, for that matter, used it to battle one another for their dream-boy's special attention. The occasion of Lana or Lois getting superpowers is also a real treat for those incredibly unimaginative people who think they're contributing to a conversation by bringing up Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex, you dumb fucking boors. Consider that a warning.

Superman is such a prig.
This time around, Lana and Lois take advantage of a hidden Indian cave (I don't know what makes it "Indian," exactly, unless Native Americans could move entire bodies of water underground at will) which had previously given Jimmy super-powers during a dive in its magic waters. Lois Lane, Lana Lang and Jimmy Olsen all gaining super-powers from the same hidden lake -- it's like discovering that your exes all have coffee together.

The sudden super-powers actually seem to mellow out the feud between the two women, possibly because they now that they can't actually kill one another for a change. Haha, not that they would (they totally would).

With their new superpowers -- and decked out in the friction-proof costumes which they'd both worn during earlier super-adventures -- the duo agree to a fair fight for the affection of Superman. Here's how that goes:

They make him competing super-dinners. Lana bakes a super-pizza, about twelve feet wide at the diameter, for a publicity stunt for "Yum-Yum Pizza." It's a terrible name, which is why they eventually changed it to "Comet Ping Pong." Lois makes a "ton of flapjacks," literally, using a massive grill in the middle of the desert and a bucket of maple syrup she squeezed out of maple trees. Superman feeds them to starving soldiers, but it's hard to tell if that was an act of charity or if he just hated them.

Lana's got quite a mouth on her.

 They use treasures of the past to decorate themselves up for Superman's approval. Lana finds the lost jewelry of Helen of Troy, a legend I don't think exists, and emerges from the sea glittering with tacky-ass baubles. Superman no likey. Lois steals a bunch of Cleopatra's clothes and is rejected by Superman for wearing too much green. He's just fucking around with them, now.

And, lastly, Lois carves a likeness of her face either on or near Mt.Rushmore. Lana does the same, because she's getting confrontational, and that's when the fight begins...

..and rapidly ends. It's not the most malicious battle between the two rivals, but I've never seen Schaffenberger illustrate a better mid-air catfight. And there are contenders, believe you, me.

Thursday, July 20, 2017


To be honest, I'm still piecing together what happens in The Pioneer's debut (and sole) adventure, since there's a dearth of real information going on with this Witty Comics character, created by Lou Ferstadt (Co-creator of The Bouncer, the superhero who was a Greek god reincarnated in a statue that could come to life and bounce. Classicism abounds in these tales, I see).

Sure you do, pal, whatever that means.
The Pioneer is one of those Golden Age characters who pops up without an origin, nothing in the way of motive, and an M.O. which was acquired without any backstory. On the other hand, he's got some colorful euphemism at his disposal. "It's like savin' lambs from runaway buffaloes" he says on one occasion, as he rescues a child from being run down by a gangster's automobile. "Gorsh," he exclaims on another occasion, in disappointment, "I plumb lost that shootin'-iron shooter." And then, at the end of the song, he says "Awwwwww SUFFRAGETTE!" I made that last one up.

These forced, old-timey sayings are consistent with his apparent nature. Long-haired and born free, the Pioneer seems to possess few powers outside of speed, strength, and something called "an electric punch" which I'm pretty sure is the top category on Pornhub these days.

What if the baby takes that gun away? Whole different comic.
He's described, early on, as "The spirit of youth that is in every American," and is feted in the streets as a "defender of the people," meaning he must have been around for a while. That's good, because after the first incident of crime-fighting which we, the audience, are allowed to observe, he fucks off for two years.

What is he doing in that time? Well, he's been hanging around his laboratory, possibly developing the aforementioned electric punch (which only shows up after the two-year break), and taking some speech therapy classes or something? He drops the Okie patois and just starts mumbling out all of his lines like every depressed, articulate urban dweller since the beginning of time. This is better than the frontier, I ask? (Yes, because there's less dysentery and usually not that much lead in the water).

The rest of his sole adventure has him breaking up a mob pay-to-play racket encroaching on a hard-working, well-meaning Trade Union, which is my jam. Punch a few Nazis and Pioneer would be the best hero in the world. Too bad he never showed up for a second go-around.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


With superhero television programs blowing up in the last few years, recaps of superhero television shows have become all the internet rage. Other sites, however, are hobbled by the need to cover shows which have been "recently broadcast" or which are "any good at all." But who covers the uncoverable? That's why Gone&Forgotten chooses to cover the 1991-1993 USA Network live-action Swamp Thing television series in a feature I used to like to call a dumb pun kind of title, but I've run out of those, so I just call it ...

At this point, there is no running order on these things. I can find no established order wherein the continuity of this show makes sense, because in every one of them, this episode -- in which Abigail actually dies -- precedes episodes in which Abigail is not dead. Don't @ me, I don't care. I'm living this nightmare, you're only a tourist, you can go home to your friends and families when this is over. I'm stuck here, recapping Swamp Thing forever.

A terrifying mist is blowing in from the swamp, some kind of evil power mist which kills people straight-up and which Arcane is eager to steal for himself. You can't steal the mist, Anton, just like you can't fight the moonlight.

Drink her in, fellas, they're about to discontinue this model
Quigley and Chapman are becoming better banter partners by this point in the show, and Graham waking Arcane up from a deep sleep in his sultry sex dungeon has a terrific back and forth quality. When informed of important news, Anton asks threateningly "Will I like it?" and Graham chirps raspily "I think you'll love it." And he does! Because Arcane loves pandemics!

Meanwhile, Abigail is alive, and we know this because the camera does a lascivious pan up her body in the opener. "Don't forget why she's here, boys" it seems to say, degrading us all at the same time.

Abigail and Will are the first ones to encounter the mist, and run off to Houma to warn everyone to leave their homes. As it's the middle of the night, this literally earns them nothing but a shoe flung at them from a second-story window. This is a good game, can anyone play?

They also woke up this guy, who looks like if The Dude was also The Saint.
Pretty soon we're at the hospital with dozens of afflicted victims, and Graham and Arcane hanging out in hazmat suits. Arcane barking at Graham "Go! Buzz off! Samples!" is a highlight of the episode matched only by a dying patient asking Arcane if he's a doctor, and Arcane replying "I am THE doctor." The man's got pride.

Anyway, long story short -- because there's actually not much to this episode except the following great thing -- Arcane gets infected and has to run into the swamp, strip down to his underwear, and sass while Swamp Thing force feeds him crazy plant drugs in order to fight the infection caused by the mist. It's good. Should have been the whole episode.

Durock and Chapman remain the highlight of the show, and the few occasions where they get to interact is always a delight. When Arcane accuses his enemy of having him strip down to his chippendales and eat artichoke leaves in order to humiliate him, Swamp Thing replies "Don't flatter yourself or insult me." Arcane's response "What else is there?"

Oh, children, this show.

The Full Swampy

As this eats up a significant amount of the episode, we get some good conversation between the opponents, including Arcane's justification for his sick and often destructive experiments. Sure he wants wealth and fame and he's a creep, but you know what? He's doing it for the earth. He's gonna make the earth tougher, and it's going to survive all the environmental damage. It's insane and it's bullshit, but the guy has a motive now and that's good. I don't know how all the mutants and voodoo and slave camps fit into that, but let's assume they do.

In the background, Abigail has rushed into the mist-filled swamp to save a child actor who'd be best left to his own devices, like all child actors. This exposes her to the mist-disease and, for that matter, to regular exposure because that girl does not dress warmly.

"Will, help me. I don't know what happened, but I've become taller."

Arcane and Swamp Thing have concocted an antidote, and Swamp Thing has enlisted a huge swarm of mosquitoes to fly into Houma and inject everyone with it. Also to give them allergic reactions and malaria, maybe. When Arcane attempts to take advantage of the weakened Swamp Thing, depleted from using his power to rouse the mosquito delivery vector, Swamp Thing retaliates by pointing out that the mosquitoes have been instructed not to deliver the antidote to the also-infected Arcane. Very specific mosquitoes.

The one person Swamp Thing cannot save is Abigail, who safely delivers the child to Will just before the mist recedes and then fucks off the mortal coil. She dies in his arms. When Will brings her to Swamp Thing to be revived, Swamp Thing just shrugs him off with something about Abigail having some special role to play in the future apparently or something? And then we sort of pan back on her being dead. For now. I fully expect her to be alive in the next episode because the order on these things is moronic.

Laugh, freeze frame annnd roll credits.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


Yankee Comics vol.1 No.1 - Harry "A" Chesler/Dynamic Comics,  Sept 1941

Monday, July 17, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.26 (Feb 1981)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Pat Broderick / Armando Gil
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: Bob Sharen
Editor: Louise Jones
EIC: Jim Shooter

I have to imagine that Bill Mantlo's mind is so constantly buzzing with ideas and the execution of those ideas that he just has to start stories in the middle of the action. There's nowhere else to find the space ...

Spoilt for Acroyears.
In this case, we find Shield's orbital Helicarrier (they have one of those?) under assault by HYDRA agents in space gear. As the Micronauts approach, most of SHIELD's space vehicles have been destroyed by HYDRA's superior numbers, so the Endeavor and its loaded weapons bay are a welcome relief on behalf of the good guys.

Compared to the final battle of the first Micronauts arc, the fight with HYDRA is pretty chaste. No babies are being murdered in these pages, and there's plenty of wisecracking when HYDRA agents are put down. Bug shooting two slogan-spouting HYDRA agents in the back and telling them to shut up is ... it's pure antifa, is what it is. This insectivorid kills fascists.

If you're like me, the combination of Micronauts and SHIELD regular Dum Dum Dugan is too good to pass up. I only wish they coulda managed a Godzilla crossover. Ooh, and ROM. And Team America and US1. I have a pretty good idea for a maxi-series, here...

During the battle, there are two major revelations. First, Bug stumbles across Phillip Prometheus' collection of dead Micronauts, now in the possession of SHIELD technicians. Surprisingly, though, one of them -- an Acroyear warrior of Spartak -- is still alive!

Rann, however, uncovers the big one. The secret head of HYDRA is exposed, and it is ... oh shit, it's Baron Karza! Oh fuck! Shit! That's no good! Fuck!

Karza christens his return to power with a chest-blast of immeasurable power, despite how much it looks like his nipples are exploding. The targets are a pair of SHIELD Espers who are immediately atomized. Also in the line of fire is Marionette, who seems to also be dissolved into vapor upon contact with the deadly ray! What's happened to our brave heroine?  Well, let's check in on ...

Always with this stuff.
Tales of the Microverse! This backup has slowly been aligning with the main story, and Mari provides the concrete link between them. Reduced in size rather than destroyed by Karza's blast, Marionette crashes to Homeworld in the most ironic of places -- the now-cooled heart of the volcano where her brother Argon's shattered armor lies strewn, on the stage of Karza's resurrection.

The princess is brought by Pharoid and his Desert Demons to safety and then, after some travel, to the Royal City of Homeworld. There, she oversees a tribunal of the heads of Microverse states, including the Insectivorid empress, Pharoid, a Spartak emissary, and a bunch of messed-up sunflowers calling themselves The Knights of Neep. We have got to keep comics writers away from the Monty Python.

The plan of action decided upon by the microscopic bigwigs involves summoning the Shadow Priests -- revealed earlier to be the Enigma Force-laden alternate selves of Arcturus Rann, the Time Traveler(s) -- only to find that they've been conquered by Karza! The Time Traveler(s) are imprisoned in a HYDRA stronghold! And Karza ... Karza's just larfin'! Larfin', I tell you!

Friday, July 14, 2017


Dogs are not only man's best friends, they also pack some genuine advertising punch. Try and think of an industry which hasn't ever employed a dog mascot. Prostitution, I hear you say? Are you asking? No, I would never sell my body, but I'm flattered that you've asked.

Superhero dog mascots are a natural intersection between advertising and pop culture animism -- there are hundreds of animal superheroes, after all, and a sizable number of them are dogs! Exciting, no? I don't know, I couldn't say for certain. I'm still stunned that you asked about prostitution. Also, I changed my mind. For you, it's $300. $1500 for the whole night.

Now, superhero dog mascots!

Rubbing his butt on the Earth. And who can stop him?
Mighty Dog (Purina)
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, there was one brand which was synonymous with "wet food." Imagine having that as your claim to fame. "We're the wet food people!" Mighty Dog was the high-flaying, dinner-saving superdog which brought suppertime succor to his canine compatriots the world over. While early ads took "Mighty Dog" figuratively, it was a natural progression (given that the Eighties had seen superheroes take to popular television and film series) to deck their spokesdog out in superhero togs and send him flying.

I had a million of these. Hot dogs were my
primary meal back then...
Der Wienerdog (Der Wienerschnitzel)
The brightly colored hound dog which represented the Der Wienerschnitzel fast food chain (I realize that it should be "The Wienerschnitzel fast food chain" or "Der Wienerschnitzel fast food chain," since Der and The are the same word, but ... well, at least this aside helped me eat up a couple of lines). may have crossed breeds -- he is certainly, himself, no wiener dog -- but he was a solid mascot for the hot dog restaurant's needs for a damn good time. Before he was replaced with a paranoid wiener in the 90s. A weird time.

Kahn's Superdog (Hillshire Farms / Kahn's & Co)
To celebrate the purchase of Kahn's markets by quainty sausagemongers Hillshire Farms, what better mascot to turn to than a dog? I guess if you're trying to recall the image of a dog stealing sausages from a fat butcher, like in some cartoon from 1911, dogs are your go-to. But imagine how much havoc a superdog could wreak -- stealing entire butcher's shops, butcher and all. At least it's not one of those mascots which is the same kind of animal as the ones the company sells for consumption ... or is it?

Shamelessly yoinked from someone's eBay listing.

Thursday, July 13, 2017


There is probably no more iconic piece of American wartime propaganda than Rosie the Riveter. Not only has she persisted as a symbol of feminism and the strength of the American woman (physical and financial, really), but it touched that nerve immediately. It didn't take long after the poster was distributed to the public that its eponymous character was represented in film and song and, for that matter, in a scatter-shot comic book character from War Victory Comics vol.1 No.3 and All-New Comics vol.1 No.10. Both are from Harvey Comics, but it's still hard to keep up if you're a fan.

Actually, there were at least four Rosie the Riveters at different companies by different creators, so immediately affecting was the idea. Of this quartet (at a minimum, it might be a full marching band for all I know), Harvey's Rosie combined the tough-as-nails wildcat with the detective skills of an amateur Sherlock, and the requisite Axis-busting sideline -- plus an extraordinary knowledge of cheese pairings.

As many of these stories do, Rosie's brief adventure begins by having to slug the tar out of a chauvinist foundry worker in order to gain his respect and the respect of her male peers. Imagine if women still had to do this, except at, say, Yahoo or Amazon. Hell, I'm for it, now that I think about it.

This guy hates roof gardens.
The slugged sexist in question -- "Butch," a hulking dope with a whisk broom mustache -- ends up becoming something of Rosie's sidekick, which is handy as Axis spies have stolen secret plans from the company safe and hidden them on the premises for later extraction.

Here's their fatal flaw, though: They leave behind their lunch litter. Rosie stumbles across a wrapper formerly encasing a hunk of limburger cheese, and identifies the delicatessen from which it originates, solely from the smell. Armed with the foreknowledge that limburger goes best with pumperknickel bread, Rosie proceeds to a local bakery, which leads her to a cheese store, where the spies congregate. A victory against fascism, thanks to stinky cheese!

But wait, that's not all -- Rosie's got an arm on her, as well as something of a mouth. When the cornered spies lob a grenade at assembled cops, Rosie douses the explosive with a well-aimed hunk of leftover limburger, intercepting it in mid-air.

There may have been multiple Rose the Riveters, but only one defeated Ratzi agents with a hunk of gross milk solids. Why don't they have a medal for that?

I have so many questions, not the least of which involves the criteria for getting a tickertape parade.
Rosie's second adventure is a little less dire and action-packed, she merely has to deal with a broken watch in a lunchpail tricking plant security into thinking there's a bomb nearby. I guess that's the one-in, one-out quality -- you have to engender a bomb panic if you quell a bomb panic. That's how it goes.

Harvey produced a third Rosie the Riveter adventure, apparently by the same artist and using the same patter and pacing, in Green Hornet Comics vol.1 No.10. This is probably the same Rosie, but this time she's blonde (she does mention having just got back from a beauty salon). If nothing else, she also gets involved with war espionage -- she's assigned to carry a special invention from the factory to the U.S. War Office, while along the way dispensing with all sorts of Nazi troublemakers. It was worth it, though, as by way of reward she manages to get a nice new hat to go with her favorite suit. America truly rewards its heroes.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


"Take it from me, Sacky, the living sack!"

This isn't technically a comic book nor, despite what the cover promises, is it even remotely a true story of moonshine. That comic is just waiting to happen, in fact. "A History of Moonshine in America." Let me write that one down, copyright me, thanks.

The booklet, provided by the U.S.Treasury Department, the IRS and the early form of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms -- in other words, "the revenoors!" -- identifies an important chain in the defeat of rogue moonshiners operating in the United States. Specifically -- deny them their sugar*! All right, backwoods still operators, no sugar for you! Straight to bed!

*Where's the obligatory Homer Simpson joke? I instituted a ban on those. 

The first order of business is to identify the bootleggers in question -- but don't get complacent, as the reality of their identities might blow you away!

How did that fat guy even get into his moonshiner costume?

Luckily, moonshiners have an Achilles heel, a kryptonite of their own, if you will. And that is, like the humble bee, they must have sugar to survive. But you can deny them basic dignity and save the day!

Famous for turning down huge sums of money, shopkeepers.

Possibly what's best about the book is that they begin it by teaching you how to be a bootlegger. Thanks, U.S. Government, now to go find a shopkeeper who will almost undoubtedly sell me a shit-ton of sugar!

Mostly that the revenoors keep trespassin' on muh property!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Monday, July 10, 2017


Micronauts vol.1 No.25 (Jan 1981)
Writer: Bill Mantlo
Artist: Pat Broderick / Armando Gil
Letterer: Joe Rosen
Colorist: B.Sharen
Editor: Louise Jones
EIC: Jim Shooter

If there's a worse title for a comic book story than "Deathbirth," we're going to have to travel a long way to find it. I do fondly remember Gerry Conway's "Typhoon is a Storm of the Soul" from an old Firestorm story, but I think that's in a whole other category of awfulness.

Got your nose!
The Micronauts have recently defeated Computrex, the sinister digital creation of classic Marvel villain duo Mentallo and The Fixer. While the pernicious pair get their acts together and prepare to avenge themselves upon their tiny opponents -- and launch a larger scheme on behalf of a shadowy agency -- the Micronauts start fucking.

There's a real lovefest going on aboard the Endeavor, not the least of which is happening in the shared quarters of Acroyear and Cilicia. The Spartak warriors, owing to their endangered population and limited planetary resources, apparently treat lovemaking as a ceremonial task, undertaken with great care and with the primary intent of reproduction. Woo, that's some steamy stuff. It's also not enough for pervy Acroyear, who convinces Cilicia to try something different -- just screwing around for the hell of it.

Rann and Marionette are always bumping uglies elsewhere on the ship, and we enjoy most of the pre-foreplay events (not reproduced on the page, by the way, as this is a family comic) inside Marionette's internal monologue. There's something interesting going on with Princess Mari's idle, intra-coital reflections, where she seems to be about thi-i-i-i-is close to realizing that her love for Rann might be inspired in no small part by religious reverence for his sainted parents and gratitude for his role in saving Homeworld from Karza.

Pretty good keepin'-it-light here...
Biotron and Microtron, in the interim, are basically just discussing everyone else's love life and Bug is having nightmares about his deceased lady love, Jasmine. Not every gets their horn on, I'm afraid.

Just as an aside, there's a real shift in tone around now, with the perfunctory dialogue and by-the-numbers super-villain crunching which typified the book's second dozen issues declining. Mantlo's dense world-building and intimate characterization seem to be returning, and I can't help but suspect it's a change in editors. Milgrom has stepped down in favor of Louise Jones (later --Simonson,  for those of you playing along) and the return to form seems too well-timed to be coincidence. Well, good on her, this is better than the other way.

Anyway, Mentallo and the Fixer find the Micronauts and launch a revenge attack on them, which tests Rann's newly-discovered, enhanced telepathic abilities (He'd always had a telepathic bond with Biotron, but now it's just general telepathy). This also leads up to the big revelation regarding Fixer and Mentallo's masters, identified by a deadly brand burned into Fixer's noggin --- it's HYDRA, and they've got SHIELD in their sights!

Tales of the Microverse! We're promised the origin of Baron Karza, as told by Pharoid to Slug in Karza's birth city of Aegypta. Unfortunately, we don't learn of the actual source of his treachery, but we do know that his arc begins with an assassination attempt on Dallan and Sepsis, then-regents of Homeworld.

Fleeing the failed attack, Karza's vehicle fails him in the scorching desert. He is rescued, however, by Sun Cultists who revive him, give him access to science and magic which predates the Microverse, and then are murdered by him for larfs. Goddamn, I really appreciate how Mantlo just packs his stories with world-building goodness. There's so much to enjoy.

The final kicker on the way out of this backup involves the resurrection of Karza -- inhabiting the body of Argon, Force Commander, and brought back to life in the heart of a volcano by faceless death priests! That's ... I'm done describing anything for this issue, I can't top that...

Over in the letter column, it's lots of well-deserved praise for Pat Broderick, which is nice to see.

Friday, July 7, 2017


The acrimony between Lois Lane and Lana Lang begins in earnest* in the pages of Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane vol.1 No.7 (February 1959). That's pretty early into the career of Lois as a solo performer, but Lana knows very well that you gotta get your claws in right away, or you give your opponent an advantage. I don't know for sure that Lana thinks that, but she seems to have that killer instinct. She's going to eventually kill Lois, is what I mean.

*They met each other a few times as teenagers, but I don't find it as fun to watch two teenagers try to murder each other. Two women in their late twenties, however, I'm all about that, evidently.

"Pretty reporter Lois Lane" ... 

Lana re-enters the world of Superman broke, homeless and starving. That's a bit of unexpected gravitas to a Silver Age Superman story, unless it was caused by Mxyzptlk. It was not. Lois finds Lana in line at a soup kitchen and takes her back to her lavishly appointed apartment, possibly to rub it in. You also have to wonder where Lana's wealthy archaeologist parents are or, for that matter, where her famous archaeologist mother wandered off to. We never see her anymore, not since the old Superboy story where they mentioned she was an archaeologist too. They just always show the paternal Dr.Lang. Oh my gosh, did Mr.Lang kill Mrs.Lang on some expedition to a forgotten temple in the deepest jungle? Does the corpse of Lana Lang's mother rot on a forgotten stone dais, blackened by centuries of sacrificial blood? Was it an ironic death? Good lord, have I stumbled across a terrible stain on the legacy of the Superman Family? Also, what was I talking about? I've gone off on a tangent. Hi, let me tell you about Lois Lane and Lana Lang hating each other...

Lois' act of kindness bears fruits of friendship, which sounds gross upon reflection. Lana not only cleans up well, but her gratitude is tremendous. Despite Lois' protestations, Lana genuinely wants to give Lois one of her greatest mementos -- a ring which Superboy gave her because he almost killed her once.

I guess he liked it.
(Aside: So, the origin of that shitty ring is that, on a Fourth of July celebration, Superboy dressed as a redcoat and let the gun-happy yokels of Smallville take potshots at him while unprotected teenage girls watched. A ricocheting bullet chipped a piece of stone which flew up and injured Lana's finger and, to make up for it, Superboy made a ring and placed it ON THE FRESH WOUND. You know Lana's got it bad because she just soldiered through it. Apparently you gotta get used to the occasional flesh wound if you're gonna be sweet on Superboy)

Shitty ring or no, Lois' competitive spirit encourages her to ask Superman for a ring of her own, which he provides her out of alien space metal, the safest known metal for rings and which are proven to never have any sort of negative effects on the people who are wearing it.

It's not Lois who ends up acting like a nutcase, though -- it's Lana. Despite her gratitude to the woman who saved her from dying on the streets, she suddenly starts sabotaging Lois! I would too -- Superman's a catch!

The ways in which Lana stacks the deck against Lois is multitude, and every one of them is absurdly complicated. She ruins a Superman-themed dinner party by brushing thin layers of paint on the glasses of red, yellow and blue-dyed lemonade -- the lemonade that recalls Superman's costume, a definite selling point! -- on which Superman's fingerprints are captured. He blames this trick on Lois, for good reason, if you think about it.

"Isn't this (cough cough) romantic (wheeze), Superman?"
Lana swipes an opportunity to stand under a shower of volcanic ash alongside Superman, satisfying some local custom that two people covered in the toxic filth of a volcano will one day be married. Lois seems to have dodged a bullet there. Also, Lana swipes a Kryptonian dress which Lois had been working hard to put together for a costume contest which Superman was judging, and for which the prize was a date with Superman. People die in tsunamis every day, but Superman's dating beauty pageant winners. It's a good life.

Ultimately it turns out that the space metal ring -- surprise! -- is dangerous and will blow up if Superman uses his X-Ray vision near it. All of Lana's fressing and frigging with Superman was all an act to get Lois to remove the ring! And it worked! So would have "asking her," but Superman confides in Lana that, well ...

"I've just discovered that the rare metal in that ring endangers Lois' life! It I tell her the truth and ask for it back, it would be just like her to keep it, thinking I wanted it back because it's a clue to my identity!"

For the record, the worst betrayal of all is saying incredibly shitty things about your girlfriend to her romantic rival. Well, that and fucking her, I guess. I'm just saying, I don't think Superman or Lana get out of this one smelling like roses...

"...but why am I eating a tiny me?"

Thursday, July 6, 2017


Formally charged.

Back inside the pages of Spidey Super-Stories, while most of the villains were either toned-down Marvel stalwarts or minor menaces from the television show, there were a few original characters. Of course, most of these were also based on existing Marvel properties in one way or another, and that's how we get Stilt-Man.

He sure does love his work.
The familiar Marvel Comics Stilt-Man began his career as a Daredevil opponent, and then moved on to be a general menace to the Marvel Universe on the whole. He did stay within the orbit of the Man Without Fear, but was largely reimagined as a joke character as far back as the Nineties. This is what you get when your gimmick is having extendable legs and you wear what appears to be a suit of medieval armor hammered to a bidet.

But Spidey Super Stories' Stilt-Man is a creature of a whole different aesthetic. Apparently, mile-high crime is formal, since he's going around dressed like Mayor McCheese or Uncle Pennybags or something. The extendable/retractable legs have been replaced with common-or-garden wooden stilts, and he's lost the fakey super-scientific gun he'd always carried around.

On the plus side, however, he's actually much better at committing crimes than his mainstream counterpart. In fact, he's so good at it that he is literally walking away with several small fortunes a day, while J.Jonah Jameson does his bit for the war by blaming Spider-Man for the whole crimewave.

"Uh, you attacked me, lady."
When Stilt-Man decides to double his profits by apprehending Spider-Man for the reward money, shit gets good. Although, as I think about it, it's actually contrary to Stilt-Man's motives to turn Spider-Man in ... after all, as long as Spider-Man remains loose, any future Stilt-Man crimes will be blamed on the wallcrawler. Try harded, Stiltsy.

It all wraps up with the obligatory team-up, this time with a quick-to-judge Spider-Woman who helps Stilt-Man knock the holy tar out of Spidey until a careless aside and changed allegiances alert Spider-Woman to the real deal. I dunno, I can't get past the top hat.

In the same issue, Bill Foster (aka Black Goliath/Giant-Man) shows up to battle a familiar-seeming Avengers foe named The Top. This might actually be a genuine Marvel supervillain or just a kid-friendly update to Whirlwind, whom he resembles somewhat, I dunno, man, I'm not a complete walking encyclopedia of this stuff.

The downside of Foster's appearance here is that he abandons his signature costume and shows up in Hank Pym's original Giant-Man costume, which is a nightmare across the board. I really like the old Ant-Man costume and some of the later Giant-Man ones, but Bill had the collar and the bared abs and all that good Bronze Age superhero design stuff. This is a step back...

"Live to serve..."

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