Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Steeler Sundays: Your Starting Line-Ups

Leading up to next week's Super Bowl, let's introduce the Charlton and Mighty' starting line-ups for next Sunday's rumble, right here! Introducing the Steelers and the Unholy Trio (plus two!) with our favorite men of steel:


As you no doubt observed, both teams are multi-culturally diverse.No chita bananas in this crowd! No chita bananas in this bunch! It has been rumored that Von Hess participation will be a game time decision.

Now let's return to this weeks all-star Pro Bowl featuring your favorites pulse-pounding players from around the league. See you in seven!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Fiends: Malignantly Magnetic Marauders

This week we turn our attention to that favorite foil of silver age costumed champions, the magnetic malefactor. Or in the case of Mighty and Charlton Comics, the Magnetic Menace and Magno-Man. Originally, two aspiring scientists grasping the concepts behind electro-magnetic force, they encounter Steel Sterling and Blue Beetle. It doesn't go well for them.


On the short end of the stick, having been humiliated by our heroes, our villains engage them in battle using the awesome forces at their disposal, to exact vengence on the heroes! And the situation appeared grim!



The Foes use specialized vehicles to take on our  powered pair of pals:.Manace's hovers over the ground, Magno's burrows underneath it.


In their final confrontation,both baddies find themselves doomed as Magno, wearing Sterling's anti-gravity belt, is propelled high above the Earth, and Menace, while inside his drill, is crushed under the Earth!

 

Having lost his belt granting him the power of flight (he'd regain it once more in the 1980's), Steel from this point forward rechristens Magno's vehicle as the "Sterling Scooter". Nothing left for Beetle to salvage except a large piece of French artwork. And so end two one-hit Friday Fiends.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Team-Up Tuesdays: High Camp Heroes

Both Mighty and Charlton were prone towards a bit of camp humour, popular at the time, especially when introducing their heroic teams. While Mighty took the concept farther into a continuing series, Charlton was hesitant in teaming up all their big guns at one time and show them (sort of) only once).

Allow us to introduce the Mighty Crusaders in their debut appearence in Adventures of the Fly #31:

Next we present to you the "Mightiest Armada of Enemies of Evil" in Charlton Premier #3:

The members of the Mighty Crusaders were Fly, Comet, Shield and the Black Hood...brought together by the Fly's arch-foe Spider-Spry. Fly-Girl joined later. Others attempted to join the foray, including Captain Flag:

Meanwhile, the "Mightest Armada" included heroes we've already covered, including Peacemaker and Blue Beetle, as well as a more obscure trio: Superguy, Captain USA, and the Green Spider:



While Superguy filled the niche for the goofiest of the caped set, the honor among Archie/Mighty characters fell to Captain Sprocket who had once mixed up his dry cleaning with a few of the Crusaders!  Aside from a cameo with Fly, Comet, Black Hood and Shield, he mostly kept to himself. Then there were the Captains, Flag and USA. Finally there was the fairly useless Green Spider, more of a hinderance then a help as seen in the accompanying panels, and the aforementioned rogue Spider-Spry, a criminal genius whose intellect was matched only by his ineptitude.


While Captain Flag had a short but memorable career in the 1940's. any exploits of Captain USA beyond this issue were left unchronicled (although we here suspect he may have moonlighted in the 1940's as Captain V, a backup feature in Blue Beetle's comic, as the two are very similar), as were those of Superguy and Green Spider. The villain of the piece Sinestro seemed to know of them, so they had some notoriety.

And each team had inventive adversaries to bedevil them such Boy Fiend, Sinestro, and alien scientist, Inferno the Destroyer.
























Alas such heroic teams from our two aspiring comic publishers were short lived and would take years before they reappeared. Still, there are tales to tell of heroic pairings in the silver age of comics, which we'll next consider.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Battling Blondes: Round 1 - Mental Madmen

Deriving inspiration from the gents at Threadmill with their Scaled-Down Smackdowns, we're incorporating our own version here featuring our favorite blonde bombshells: The Web and The Thunderbolt!

We'll incorporate a four point grading system in each battle: 1.) Story Drama, 2.) Imaginative Use of Abilities, 3.)  Adversary, 4.) Intangibles that Worked. As a jumping on point, we'll consider two silver age tales.

The Web in "The Mad Caper of the Madman" from Fly-Man #38:

Our story opens with the Web stumbling on the crime scene of the Acro-Bats, henchmen of the Madman, and dealt them a crushing blow:

















After a glorious victory against this quirky gang, Web finds a closet at the University where Professor John Raymond is employed to change into his civilian identity...and proceeds to find himself locked inside! After vigorously pounding on the door for hours, a cleaning lady opens the door. Johnny races home, thinking he'll only face his mad wife, and then we are introduced to the REAL villain of the piece...his Mother-in-Law!!!!

John regales the gals with tales of past victories against his rogues::



Thunderbolt in "Beware the Cobra" from Peter Cannon, Thunderbolt #56

Our second story starts as it normally does with T-Bolt, in his civilian identity of Peter Cannon, free-lance journalist, discussing world affairs with his man-Friday, Tabu. They recall Pete's recent rogues gallery:

Meanwhile, a new villain, the Cobra, appears on the scene using his own mind-controlling technique to kidnap various prominent intellectuals in society, selling them to the highest bidders in the underworld:


Madman trails the Web back to John's home, intent on turning the Raymond  insane using his special pistol. Thunderbolt trails the Cobra's henchmen back to his base, but Cobra use his own pistol against Pete to weaken his will, making him fall prey to his pet, an actual King Cobra!





















However, neither villain can contend with the superior willpower of Thunderbolt and...Rose Raymond and her mom! The audacity of it all!


Whereas Madman succumbs to his own weapon, turning into a raving manic, Cobra's fate is more dire as he's bitten by his own deadly pet! And so ends the  brief careers of two malignant malefactors of the mind!

Battling Blondes Rating

1.) Story Drama: No contest! Thunderbolt beats Web hands down in this category. Oh sure, being locked in a closet with the tension of a vicious attack of henpecking on the horizon is pure drama, the drama of Pete racing against the clock to tracki down Cobra was far more gripping.  For Cobra has in his thrawls a physician  who was the only specialist able to treat a child in critical condition! The category isn't "Story Comedy"..

2.) Imaginative Use of Abilities: Thunderbolt's will power matched against the Web's criminalogist training and resolve seem evenly matched. However, John wins this category thanks to his creative use of a trash can...oh and the way his ladies wield a wicked umbrella and mirror.

3.)Adversary: Both Cobra and Madman have the madness inducing thing going for them. However, the overall scheming of Cobra...kidnapping victims which he then sells to the highest bidder...seems a bit more high-brow then Madman's fairly typical "send my henchmen to rob the local S&L" kinda thing. Kuddos to Cobra! As a side note: while Web's earlier foes were more colorful, Thunderbolt's were far more imaginative.

4.) Intangibles that Worked: Again, John's wife and mother-in-law really made the story while Pete's butler Tabu really only served to get the plot moving towards the beginning. At least for this story, props to Web.

This round ends in a tie..thanks only due to Rose and Mama-in-Law. Athletcally and intellectually, it would seem our pair of crime fighters are evenly matched (ancient Tibetan rolls not withstanding). Will other adversaries or intangibles tip the balance one way or another in this epic battle? Will the Web's  story drama get amped up to compete with Pete Moresi's masterful plotting of T-Bolt? This we shall discover in later rounds. See you then!!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Steeler Sundays: She Loves Him...She Loves Him Not...


They love him...

Well sometimes they do, sometimes they don't...

Well SHE definitely loves the Idiot...

Until he acts like a chauvinist...thinking he's ALL that...

Course he can be a bit fickle in his affections...

Ah what the heck! Who can figure them out? They can't...but they sure have fun trying...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Friday Fiends: The Tumbler vs the Acrobat

Usually, superheroes face very weak rogues, physically speaking that is. Often they face brain rather than brawn, Perhaps it's easier to engage the reader in a story involving a battle of wits. However, when portrayed by a solid artist, a physical confrontation can be just as engaging. Then mix in a villain that also has a head firmly planted on a solid physique, and you can provide a real challenge.



Our two baddies today show their athletic prowess, going toe-to-toe with Judomaster and the Web. The Acrobat was a Japanese assassin sent by his Imperial masters during the height of World War II to finish Judomaster for  his personal  and national honour

The motifications of the Web's foe is much simpler, he's greedy. In the course of their first confrontation, he instantly gains contempt for the hero and taunts him for a rematch.


Neither hero faired well in the initial confrontation, Never fear! For their steely determination prompted them to pursue these limber larcenists even if it meant getting a little wet! Despite this, our twin terrors were determined that their rematch afford them vicious victories. Keep reading!


Incredible! Even in the 60's, the Tumbler was telling his Facebook buddies to keep track of their Web alerts while surfing the net! Anyways, the short-lived careers of  these Friday Fiends were squashed by some superior adversaries. Probably why we never saw a Acrobat and the Tumbler strip. 

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Diplomat Scientists

Twin politicians using their keen scienitific minds to devise destructive weapons to combat foes that bring out the worst in them. Ladies and gentleman, are pair of jet-setting personifications of that famous George Orwell oxymoronic phrase "peace is war".Who are these troubled souls?

Both are definitely older than their peers of the day, although Comet appeared first in 1939's Pep Comics #1, when he sported an entirely different. He was scientist John Dickering, an obsessive compulsive chemist who injected himself with "lighter than air" gases that gave him "leaping" abilities (read: flight) and vicious optical blasts curbed only by the glass visors he had to wear to avoid shooting them indiscriminately.

Christopher Smith also dappled in the sciences, more engineering than chemistry yet with similar results. A career diplomat, he obsessed with the fragile state of world peace or lack thereof, and hence fashioned a costumed in 1966's Fightin' 5 #40, including a jet-pack for flight and a helmet that included a destructive laser from the eye piece. Great minds think alike, it would seem.

Never fear, for after a quick bout with comic book death in the 40's, Comet was revived by an alien princess (who then herself bit the proverbial dust) and Johnny returned as an alien diplomat... resuming his interest in Earthly affairs of state. Christopher himself stepped outside his United Nations' sanctioned role to zap warlords and alien shape changers living under the Earth who stymied the peace process. And meanwhile, both ended up teaming up with a pair of buggy buddies we discussed previously, to fight against evil. Which, by the way, we will be discussing next Team-Up Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Team-up Tuesdays: Steeler Sundays Crossover!

During our last installment, we witnessed the dramatic confrontation between a mind-controlled Sarge Steel attempting to arrest the Sensational Sentinels, and of  singled-minded Steel Sterling's desperate attempt to join the Mighty Crusaders! Let's pick up where we left off, in the next issues of Thunderbolt #58 and Mighty Crusaders #5, respectively:

Steel Sterling allies himself with two other Crusader rejects to form the Terrific Three, and then immediately awakens the ire of the always cantankerous Jaguar over his flippant sense of humour. As the story progresses, they kiss and make up, with Mister Justice primarily focused on the task at hand...fly to the aid of the Crusaders and a 2nd group of  Crusader rejects, the Web, Fox and Captain Flag (that make up the Ultra-Men...you would think that a team of MJ, Jag and Steel would be THE Ultra-Men! Oh well.)


Sarge found himself on the wrong side of the Sentinels, as his  verbal attempt at apprehending the aspiring heroic team was thwarted by the vast mind might of Mentalia. This quickly led to his departure from the strip, as rapidly as he had  just appeared. Yep, no fuss, no muss. Apparently the master villian that sent him, Mind-Bender, knew the Sarge had the stuff necessary to defeat this terrific trio of Charltonians.

Neither Sarge nor Sterling appeared alongside heroic teams following these adventures, at least during the silver age. Apparently they operated best as solo stallions of steel  (sorry) Sarge's appearance served to tie the Sensational Sentinels into the main Charlton universe. Meanwhile, picking up on a thread from last week relating to the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, they had an unpublished meeting with the Mighty Crusaders tying them into their universe. Later, the Agents met another heroic Thunder , a Bunny!

But that is another story for another time. Next week, we revisit the original five Crusaders and, well, the strangest assemblage of five costumed crusaders Charlton ever produced...against a stranger foe!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Gang's All Here - Micro-Heroes Style!

Our new header pic shows some of the members of the Charlton/Mighty stable of characters. Some we have touched on (such as the Blue Beetles, Firefly, Fly, Shield, Judomaster, Thunderbolt and Web, and of course the Steels, Sarge and Sterling). Others such as Peacemaker and Comet, and Nightshade and Darkling,...and more oldies, we will visit with later. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Steeler Sundays: Team-up Tuesdays Crossover!

This week we have a MEGA crossover of massive proportions, as Steeler Sundays and Team-up Tuesdays will chronicle the EPIC clash of our Steelers against the premier teams of Charlton and Mighty, the Mighty Crusaders and the Sensational Sentinels!

First, we catch up with the Sentinels after their battle with the android minion of Mind-Bender, Titan! It appears the Sentinels malignant mental malefactor sent another pawn to bring down the aspiring heroes, our very own Sarge Steel. Here is a rare CIA cover (he used so many over the course of his career), Sarge attempts to bring in the crew:


 
Elsewhere, the Mighty Crusaders are suffering a crisis of their own, as their acclaim as they are now world famous in their exploits, which caused virtually every costumed hero to petition for membership. Including our very own Steel Sterling, who was a trooper at first when his his number one peep, Mister Justice, swallowed a bullet for him, but now is a bit antsy over his competition joining the Crusaders leading to this tiff:




Looks like the Web can take on Sterling in a one-on-one. What becomes of our misguided Men of Steel? Will they cause further anxiety for their fellow do-gooders? Will they play nice come next issue? This we will discover in the next installment of our EPIC crossover, over on Team-up Tuesdays!