Last week, we presented the third installment of two silver age tales. In fact, the last team-ups of the silver age for the Comet's band of Crusaders and the duo of Captain Atom and Nightshade. This week, we find both teams hijacked into the stars...for the Action-Heroes it was to the alien world of Sunuria where their foe the Ghost awaits them, and for the Mighty men and lady of Mighty Comics, quite literally as their own Star-olator collapses leading to a death trap of epic proportions! Or is it?
Yikes, turns out Black Hood was duped as the hooded police detective Kip Burland ends up dunking his own chief of police! Not a good time to slip up if you are a Crusader. Looks like he's at least in good company as the Shield and the Comet, and Fly-Man and Fly-Girl haven't made the best of names with law enforcement authorities, despite their best efforts. Time to lick their collective wounds. And figure out how to turn this ship around. They hope!
Unlike most heroic groups, the Crusaders didn't have a headquarters, per say, but rather built a Star-olator that helped them track down crimes across the globe. How exactly it did this was never explained, and why they never placed the blamed thing inside somewhere... even a a cave was acceptable back in the day....is beyond me. Thankfully it never rained on their parade...and they always had sense to meet during daylight or at least dusk.
Okay please explain this if you would...some "force" is drawing the ever-loving Star-olator into a deep cavern... maybe a cave? (Anywhere close to Happy Harbor?) However, three of the five members CAN FLY and defy gravity! Two of these have superhuman strength and could lift the other two dead weights out of this trap. Yet they all submit to plot convenience... and we submit to suspension of belief. Well.... at least now we now who the master manipulator of bad circumstances is, the Maestro.
Yeah that is really original, thankfully Jerry Siegel never met an idea he couldn't pillage. And thoroughly stretch beyond on credulity. As for the villain himself, it appears that the Maestro is hitting some sour notes... unleashing a bee against the Fly-Man. Who can control all insects with but a wave of his hand. Yeah... right. And what clever predators with Mister Bad Jangles present to the remaining Crusaders? Come back next week and you'll find out!
The Ghost falls into the classic "taunt the hero when he is at your mercy and give him time to regroup". Such a thing happens to the Ghost who can't resist showing his two foes that he is really Alec Rios, their missing scientist friend. Of course he unmasks to do this...and suddenly the Sunurian's Faceless One has a face! The idiot kept that mask on for years (man he must have stunk under that thing). Atom realizes this in his five minutes there! Rios is now a big fat fraud with his fräuleins. Dummy!
Now we have a mano-y-mano battle between two bitter foes, left powerless thanks to Sunuria technology. To negate the Ghost's teleportation abilities is something... yet to negate Captain Atom's awesome powers if something else. Remember these same alien amazons created the stinker strings and hypno jewels of Punch and Jewelee, another pair of Atom/Shade adversaries. With the guys occupied, Shady gets some time with the girls to compare funky hairdos. Rowwwlll.
And so... equipped with primitive hand weapons... it seems like the Ghost might finally have the upper hand and gain the victory he has long sought against the costumed alias of Captain Adam. Can you just hear the music they played on that episode of Star Trek when Kirk battled the rock creature? Aw but we see that shedding blood isn't something foreign to the Atomic Avenger...although this stirs the ire of his the sinister spectral spook. Could this be the end?
With a whole world (nearly) behind him, Rios seems to have Adam on the ropes...until the good captain whips out his own rope to counter his opponents master fencing moves. There still appears to be no clear winner... although the Priestess definitely could tip the scales if her former opposition to the "Faceless One" is any indication. Stay tuned for more sensational storytelling (at least from Charlton) next week for part five of our Team-Up Tuesdays Silver-age Special! Until then.
Thanks Phantom, for once more filling in as guest reviewer. It's much appreciated. And in two weeks, prepare yourselves...as both the Phantom and the Shadow GET REAL! The actual men behind the masks will appear to give their thoughts on each other's exploits. This has been MONTHS in the making,,,these guys are VERY shy around the public. See you then!
Our comparison today is about as close as you can come to two characters that parallel each other. Both are strong-willed blonde women who do not back down. Both found themselves in relationships with heroes carrying HUGE chips on their shoulders, men with a cerebral side who invent the blunt instruments they use to bring justice to others. One of our ladies, Thelma Gordon had existed for decades, since her first appearance in Pep Comics, as a reporter for the Daily Star (a popular employer in the 1940's, apparently) investigating the Comet She was later retroactively inserted as the love interest of Comet's alter ego, John Dickering right from the beginning. The other gal, Nona O'Rourke, found herself gainfully employed by former diplomat turned scientist Christopher Smith, aka the Peacemaker, in the 60's. Let's examine their histories...on the sidelines:
Right away, we must begin questioning fare Thelma's taste in men. But it doesn't stop there! John isn't the only wacko.
Nona O'Rourke "beat out" her competition to be Christopher Smith's secretary (sorry, personal assistant). Note that shiner on her face! Whata chick! YOWZA!
Turns out gangsters try to rub out the Comet by kidnapping kid brother Bob. Then they kill the hero (he survives but disappears). Thelma rejects character limbo & latches on to new series lead Bob aka Hangman aka overbearing Jerk.
Like Thelma, Nona is terrified at the obsessive nature of her "man". He's more level headed than John. But he's also a big flirt . Who can't commit. But definitely smirks a lot! Because that was cool back in the swinging 60's.
Peacemaker #6, which itself was unpublished, was the last we would see this incarnation of Peacemaker's spunky sidekick. Thelma, however, was the supporting character that WOULD NOT DIE even when her first protagonist boyfriend bit the dust. That's not saying much, as all the Dickering men in her life, even her son (messed up by his father's abuse above) had serious issues that she couldn't help them resolve. Very tragic. But so is character limbo, where both are gal pals are in right now.
The following is an excerpt from "Dick Giordano: Changing Comics, One Day At A Time", which you can purchase at Amazon.com, about his beloved Charlton Comics. If only Mighty Comics had as committed a driving force as Giordano, they might have been as well respected.
Last week we considered a a couple of hot customers. Well, turns out we have another pair a bit hot under the collar, More specifically, hot under the larynx. Inferno and Mister Blaze. Let's introduce both side-by-side.
Inferno was a circus fire breather who seemed to emit from his mouth heat at will. He was lured into crime named Frank Verrano. This brought him into conflict with the man of steel, Steel Sterling.
Another circus performer, known only as Mr. Blaze also turned to a life of crime when his own act proved a dismal failure. And he met Mr. Smith!
Now in prison, Inferno revealed a softer side despite his gruff demeanor, as he learned a new inmate may have cause the fare Dora Cummings to unnecessary danger. He soon learn that this prisoner is his old enemy, disguised as a fellow captive to ferret out a rumored prison break. Steel begins to realize that Mr. Verrano may have more in common with him than he knows. What will Inferno's future have in store for him?
Now coating himself and his special suit in Chris Smith's compound, Mr. Blaze is about to reveal his trump card, as he had discovered a hidden race of underground lava men (all the rage in the hip 60's) ready to yield to his will when he displays an invincibility to fire. Still there is one obstacle... ex-diplomat now masked man... Peacemaker.
After Sterling's testimony, Inferno embarks on a heroic career getting one of those neat uniforms. From his initial appearances in Zip Comics 10-13... he then had his own series in Blue Ribbon Comics 13-19.
After drawing Peacemaker back to his hidden lair, Blaze does what all psychotic would-be world conquerors would do as reveals his scheme...to steal his rival's jet as a heat missile of sort, and topple Washington D.C.
Coming out of retirement, Inferno joined two other heated heroes, Firefly and Fireball in Mighty Crusaders #4 in order to join the team. Sent to combat the threat Hangman (himself a former applicant of this team...turned evil on a reverse career path from Inferno). Later on, Inferno fights alongside with former foe and ally Steel, although neither seem to have much to say after all these years. And our hero leaves after his request to join...along with that of the others...is rejected by the Crusaders until later on.
Of course, Smith doesn't take the news of his invention being used as a weapon of war well, and pursues Blaze in his backup aircraft. Fortunately, he knows the flaws of his device well and this proves to be the undoing of Mr. Blaze, who disappears after ejecting. There is a hint that he would return...and had Peacemaker's series continued past issue #5, which was Blaze's debut, our turban tormentor may well have as he had potential. Oh...and the lava men slithered back into the hole they crawled out of. They got burned.
Both Inferno and Mr. Blaze started out in the same career, then followed up as felons. Would Blaze have also eventually repented and become a force for good? Doubtful but who know? Or cares? Meanwhile, Inferno makes one more silver age appearance...and it appears he may have turned back to the dark side! We'll leave that for a future Battling Blondes.