Charlton vs Mighty MLJ

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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Marvel Mondays: The Human-Fly-Man

"One thing you're neglecting. Marvel's Fly was a villain instead of a hero, and debuted in Amazing Spider-Man Annual 10 (I had that issue), then later fought Spider-Woman."

So saith Hobbyfan last Monday, and little did he/she/it know that the subject of his/her/its inquiry was, in fact, this Marvel Monday's featured subject. The Human Fly!


My oh my...they simply inverted the color scheme of old Thomas Troy's under-roos! Now that's Not Brand Eck moxy for ol' Stan the Man! And each battled a Spider...Man and Spry!




Per Marvel's Wiki entry for this character here is a quick bio for him:
  • Richard Deacon, a small-time criminal out on parole, was shot by the police and left for dead after his unsuccessful kidnapping attempt was foiled by Spider-Man. Stumbling into the laboratory of Dr. Harlan Stillwell, Deacon coerced the scientist into saving his life. Stillwell imprinted the genetic coding of a common fly onto Deacon, empowering him and healing him of his bullet wounds. Deacon killed Stillwell and used his newfound powers to further his criminal ambitions. He first used Jameson as bait to get revenge on Spider-Man, but his inexperience was no match for the web-slinger and he was defeated.


Oh, but indeed Web-Head in fact DID defeat this flying fake. On at least a couple occasions, as well as bouts with a couple other crimefighters he ran into at various times in his ersatz career. Eventually he was wiped out as part of a plot device to amp up the rep of a criminal assassin. Regardless, this was definitely the biggest swipe of a Mighy Comics creation out there.



Next week we shift gears to a Charlton homage and Marvel copy!


Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sideline Sundays: Two Swell Duos of the 1800's

MLJ's Blaine Whitney aka the Wizard wasn't the first incarnation of this persona. He was preceded by several generations of Whitneys... two in particular from the time of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. It is the latter we focus on today as the first of our pair of dynamic duos during the roaring 1800's, along with sidekick Tommy the 1st Super-Boy!

In this initial outing, Blaine is consulted by the upper crust of American society including President Madison and assumes and alias to board a ship bound for war. And of his first meeting with Tommy, as well as the then Wizard's scientific genius, creating a sophisticated (for its time) glider that aided his cross country journey. This issue laid further ground work on a heroic legacy. Novel for its time and a concept that would return.


A contemporary of Blaines (a few decades removed) over at Charlton was weapons dealer Clay Boone, a master of said armaments that donned a domino mask and shiny costume to become Gunmaster, accompanied eventually by Bob Tellub, who was inspired by his name and his mentor into reversing the last name and become Bullet...his sidekick!

In the following pictures we see Clay and Bob in action, one of their state of the art weapons that seemed ahead of its day (because it was!), Clay's civilian identity and then the subsequent result of his arms-dealer ways as he tracks down a murderer, with the hero being a local!


And so concludes our prelude to the sideline careers of two modern day heroes who would take over these champion's strips, the 1940's Wizard and the 1960's Judomaster (operating himself in the 1940's), heirs to "mastery" of their own form of fighting fiendish foes fearlessly!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday Fiends: Modern-Day Ancient Dictators

We begin another two-parter with two of our longest running features here: Friday Fiends and (next week) Team-Up Tuesdays. Today, we introduce a bare of modern-day despots who carve their hidden kingdoms in hidden locales and seek to enslave humanity. Only they each have to face a team of heroes bent on their defeat, the Mighty Crusaders and the Peacemaker duo of Christopher Smith and his assistant Nora O'Rourke.



Captain Kangaroo! A dated reference to be sure, but definitely a knee slapper. More Captain Flag never seems to get much respect. With that giant bird half the time I'd confuse him with Bird-Man!
The situation definitely looks dire for our heroes. Possessing the upper hand, the Nameless One and Golden Pharaoh named Chufru may actually succeed in their mad schemes! Ummm.... nah. Next week we'll wrap up this two-parter with some fancy fighting by our fearless freedom fighters! Until then.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Yellowjacket Webnesdays: The Birth of Legends

Last week we welcomed to our humble blog the minor legends of the golden age Web and Yellowjacket. Two intellectuals well versed in criminology, that don outfits inspired by bugs to catch their prey in webs of their own making and stink them were it hurts! Now we delve into Web's super secret origin, which he reveals to his student Rose Wayne:


















John Raymond aka the Web's greatest superpower? His ability to change hair color at the drop of a hat (which, if he wore, you probably wouldn't even have noticed). Last time is was reddish blond, this time it is black, another time its blonde. Definitely enough to bedazzle that Nazi nitwit Count Berlin. The fumbling fool!

And what of Yellowjacket? Well last week we learned of his incredible immunity to his namesake, which also granted him the curious power of controlling them which he uses to good advantage as he confronts his larcenist foes:

Don't you just love how colorful costumes were just falling off trees back in the 1940s. Some guys gets inspired to crack criminal craniums and... WHAM BAM SOCK... they are  dressed like pile-driving bananas! Don't call these two yellow, even if they like the color!

More good stuff to come.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Team-Up Tuesdays: Three is Company x 2

Good things come in threes, or so the expression goes. Then again, the opposite could also be true. And in today's post, we see this concept go in both directions with the introduction of  Charlton's Tyro Team and and (Mighty Comics successor) Red Circle's Delta Three, and brief notoriety.

John "Spec" Anders, Warren "Creep" Blaine, David "Swift" Scott  were three college students with a secret that bond them together. They could communicate to one another telepathically. And team leader, Spec, decided to work side-by-side with Swift as a two-man crime fighting duo known as the Tyros. As for Creep? Well as his name suggests, he's good at creeping around and tracking down the saltier elements of city life.


Meanwhile, that saltier element were themselves creeping around over at Red Circle, as a triad of terror operating a criminal organization known only as "Delta" worked in the background to foment trouble for law abiding citizens, and the Shield in particular. While sending superpowered operatives to do their bidding they always planned their next scheme:


The Tyros, well at least to of them, always carried with them their trademark masks to escape detection. As if almost working in sync they seemed to overwhelm superior numbers simply due to their "knowing where each other is at" during their fisticuffs with foes!


While there was a type of brotherhood bonding the Tyros, such was not the case with the Deltas as there is no loyalty among thieves, nor with their minions as in this instance when they prized agent the Hun is captured and their fearful that he'll rat them out:


Don't they all look adorable in their matching skull-cap masks (because that's not how they actually look, although we never see them as unmasked the Delta Three are always in the shadows). For the Tyros, it was inevitable all three work together to track down the evil kingpin:


Did the Tyros ever track down the mysterious kingpin...and if so was he in some way tied in to their strange powers and origin? Did Delta ever achieve just ONE of their goals without interference from their heroic arch-enemy? We may never know as they have faded into comic book limbo. But wouldn't it be smashing if two triads met one day to clash?

Monday, May 24, 2010

Marvel Mondays: Meta-Human Mimics

Ah the "House of Idea", as Stan Lee called it. And it definitely was that and much much more. However, his publisher was also known in some circles as the "House of Recycled Ideas". Need proof? Consider these guys:


Okay, a homo sapien turned into a fly. Got it. A guy in a special suit that gains strength and becomes a human shield. Sure. A dude that inhales fumes allowing him to fly and emit radiation to transform into a living comet. Um, alright. And a rope slinging vigilante who, after figuring that his long last relative (read: living comet) is dead then decides to avenge his death. Whatever. Where have I heard this before?


Oh yeah! The Fly, Shield, Comet and Hangman! What a coincidence!

Or not. Stan Lee was allegedly not very keen on Mighty Comic's mocking of his style of comics and editorial writing (such as Jerry Ees for Siegel) and in the 1970's decided to do a back handed slap at his one time wimpy rival over at Archie. However, the most blatant copy, in this writer's humble opinion, was leveled against Charlton who always minded their own business and even revered the powerhouse publisher:






Two military captains gaining cosmic powers clad in bright garb traveling through space to champion a heroic age! Make Mine Mighty Charlton!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sideline Sundays: Captain Marvel Wannabees

Let it never be said that Captain Marvel, the hero who graced the pages of Fawcett Comics in the 1940s and 1950s, was not influential in the hero genre. While he eventually phased out of existence for a couple decades, due to alleged similarities he had with a certain Man of Steel no not that one or the other one) and the threat of legal action from a Distinct Competitor, there was some merit to  the argument that his own publisher should have gone after MLJ and later Charlton for copyright infringement.

MLJ's version of the Big Red Cheese (as Cap was known by his foes) was himself all dressed up in a predominantly red costume, with some blue trappings instead of yellow. Red Rube was more than a homage, he was and out and out rip off. Just consider, for example, the superpower delivery mechanism used to effect their transformations!


Seems that Steel Sterling ain't to happy about another character edging him out of his own title, at least on the covered. Alas we never seen a match between these two "Supermen" to see which was top dog. Still, the fact that you may never have heard of Reuben Reuben (no...that was REALLY his real name!) seems to indicate who ultimately won.

In the mid-50's, Charlton tried their own variation on Cap with a bit more of a twist. Nature Boy had a penchant for blue and yellow, although on at least one cover David Crandall's heroic alias sported an inverted red and blue look from Rube (bare legged instead of Rube's bare chested look).
The parallels between one another and Cap don't stop there. Each were separated from parents (Rube left an orphan, and Nat left at sea).












Both lads loved a nice day basking in nature. Until trouble found them.




Each inherited superhuman abilities from a crowd of ancient heroes. However, while Red Rube's abilities, which he gained after saying "Hey Rube" were mostly physical (i.e. strength,durability, speed) and a smart noggin; Nature Boys gifts, which were derived from calling upon one of the "Kings" that bequeathed him his powers, were energy related (i.e. cold, heat, lighting, water, etc).

Oh and they were each a pair of blowhards. I mean literally. As in creating massive gusts of air pockets that projected them into battle.


And after their inaugural comicbook runs, Red Rube in Zip Comics #39-47, (starting in 1943) and Nature Boy in his self-titled book #3-5 (starting in 1956). There was a feature in Charlton Bullseye v1 #1 about Nature Boy, and what it conjectured what it would be like to have him meet Captain Atom. And there was a reprint by another publisher of one of Nature Boy's outings decades later by another publisher altogether. Yet for these two, they would remain on the comicbook sidelines forevermore, no doubt due to their unoriginality. Except in lame blogs.