Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

Two parallel universes from two silver age comic book publishers examined ad naseum!

Monday, July 26, 2010

History of the Blue Beetle and Fly Comics #2

A couple days ago we reviewed the initial offerings of the Blue Beetle and the Fly, from Beetle's 1940's comicbook run and the Fly's late 50's into the early 60's comic book run. Each introduced us to a pair of individuals who in their civilian identities fought for truth and justice as a police officer and defense attorney, yet were granted powers beyond those of ordinary men becoming extraordinary bugs!

As we delve into the second chapter of their publishing history, we should note that Blue Beetle had a brief resurrugence in the form of a reprint book of four issues from February 1955 to August 1955. However, actual new material would be worthcoming after Charlton completely reinvented their recently acquired fictional property. Gone was Dan Garret, beat cop and drug-enduced superman. In his place was Dan Garrett, archeologist stumbling upon an ancient scarab granting him vast super powers!

Blue Beetle version 3 - Charlton Comics June 1964- February 1966
After the initial five issues had appeared, Beetle fell out of vogue but only briefly, as he was launched in a second run shortly thereafter. In hindsight, the artwork was a bit lackisdasical and the plotting pedestrian at times, yet their were glimmers of imagination scattered throughout. Not much of a supporting cast was developed for the hero, only a revolving door of damsels in distress and some unique if one-off rogues to face (with the exception of the Preying Mantis, of course). However, this character would inspire another up-and-comer to even greater modern day success,much like the hero below!

Fly Man version 1 - Radio/Mighty Comics May 1965 - September 1966
In the Fly's case, the writing was more geared towards what other publishers were offering in their superheroes. In the first edtion of his comic under the moniker of Adventures of the Fly, the brave bug was introduced to a mentor in Turan, a female assistant/love interest in Kimberly Brand aka Fly-Girl, and a rather impressive rogues gallery particularly Spider-Spry. In this series, some golden oldies whom he met such as Black Hood and the Shield were brought in along with the Comet and many of these issues should've actually been labeled the "Mighty Crusaders" as they were team-up tales until the latter part of his run. And then, in a means to salvage slagging sales, Fly Man morphed into Mighty Comics which would highlight various second tier comic properties over at Radio/Mighty Comics.

But the Fly would have one more chance at greatness, although this would take place decades later when a comics veteran was brought in to transform the character into something unique. And coincidently, it was the same writer/artist who had ushered in the new Blue Beetle in the late 60's.  Would lightning strike twice? How successful would he be with each? Stay tuned...

No comments: