Monday, November 30, 2009

Lee and Kirby Did WAAY Too Many Monster Comics- Rawhide Kid#22

There was a time when Westerns were some of the most popular comics series around. Heck, there was a time when Westerns, War, Romance and Horror all outsold superhero comics. Problem is, how do you do an interesting Western when the Comics Code won't let you show anybody getting shot??

Well if you're The Lone Ranger, you shoot the guns out of the bad guys' hands and move on. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby found other solutions. One was they threw in a lot of what we would now recognize as supervillains; hypnotists and magicians and the like. The other was a natural for Marvel c. 1960: Monsters.

Marvel had been making it's bread with monster comics for some time. Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were drawing comic after comic, month after month featuring big, ugly lumbering monsters, all of which needed to be stopped to save the world from total destruction.

So, this issue of Rawhide kid took the logical step of making the Kid face a monster. Which is great, 'cause he's allowed to SHOOT monsters.

Now I'm going to let Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers tell you the story, through the miracle of Splash pages:

Okay, here's our setup. Rawhide Kid vs a walking totem pole. Pretty much a retelling of the cover. Incidentally, totem poles are only found amongst the tribes of the Pacific Northwest and are not indigenous to the Southwest where this story takes place. I like how the face in the middle looks a little embarrassed.

Now here's a classy, old-Hollywood composition. The monster is only hinted at as a shadow, leaving you to experience the horror through the eyes of the onlooker. Nice.

Well, some stuff has clearly happened between chapters, since the lift is partly raised. Apparently being a living totem pole doesn't mean you are invulnerable to getting dirt thrown in your eyes. Who'd've thought?

Okay, now this one's my favorite! I especially love how the third guy from the left takes the time to shout "LUCKY WE GOT OUT OF THE COACH IN TIME AND HAD TIME TO UNHARNESS THE HORSES!" I know that's what I would say if I found myself suddenly fleeing for my life from a sentient, evil totem pole.

And finally. the last page, so you can all rest soundly, assured that everything came out okay.

See. You didn't even really have to read the comic. A whole story summed up in five pages.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Time Travel Week- "You're not my REAL Parents!", Superman #161

If you didn't know, prior to the revisions of the 1980's - Superman's adoptive parents, Ma and Pa Kent, died before he became Superman. It's been part of his origin since he had an origin. However, in 1963, Leo Dorfman and Al Plastino decided we needed to see just how they died.

Superboy builds a yacht for Ma and Pa Kent and sends them on a Caribbean holiday. While knocking about the islands, the Kents stumble on a buried chest. The chest contains some cutlasses and pistols and a scrap from a diary, dated 1717.

Wanting to find out why the pirate was marooned, the Kents ask Superboy to take them back to 1717 so they can watch. Superboy readily agrees.

The Fourth Dimension, now color-coded and labeled for your convenience.

Arriving at the appropriate date, the Kent family learns that the pirate Peg Leg Morgan is being marooned by Blackbeard. Pa asks if they ought to help Morgan, but Superboy cautions that they mustn't interfere with history.

Superboy is discovered by Blackbeard and his crew who make him dig a hole and bury himself up to his neck below the tideline. When the water comes in, Superboy flies away ('cause that won't mess with history!). The pirates assume they're just that drunk (they probably are) and Superboy takes his folks home to their own time.

The day after their return, Ma and Pa feel ill. A doctor is called who diagnoses the Kents with "Fever Plague" a rare ailment which died out 100 years ago. There's no cure.

Superboy tries everything to cure his parents. He obtains a rare sap from a giant orchid tree and heats it in a volcano. He lets Lex Luthor attempt to cure the Kents with a "Vibro-Health Restorer" (aren't those sold at very "special" stores?) hoping that Pa Kent , who is on the parole board, will help him out. In desperation, Clark even tries sending his folks to the Phantom Zone until a cure can be found, but the Phantom Zone projector is on the fritz. The Kents just die.

In memory of Ma and Pa Kent, Superboy carves a monument to them on an asteroid right next to the monument he carved of his real parents.

You're such an ass, Clark!

In the Silver Age, Superman (and Superboy) seems to have an unhealthy fixation on his birth parents. Yeah, I know, there are several stories where he gets to visit Krypton before it exploded and meet Jor-El and Lara, but fer cryin' out loud! The Kents raised him! They gave him his moral compass and made his dumb costumes. But can Superman ever refrain from pointing out that they're not his "real" parents? No.

Of course, Superboy could have just traveled back in time and told himself not to take his adoptive parents back to 1717...

What a jerk!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Time Travel Week- " Look Upon My Furniture Casters Ye Mighty and Despair!! " Tales of Suspense #44

Tony Stark is many things: Inventor, Scientist, Wealthy Playboy, Humanitarian, Hero.... He is, however, neither an archaeologist nor a careful time-traveler.

It all starts with Tony taking a trip to Egypt to help out an archaeologist buddy. Well, wait, back up, it all actually starts on page two with Tony getting on the plane. And fielding questions from the press, who have apparently recently been to see the movie "Cleopatra" Starring Elizabeth Taylor. Or maybe that was Stan Lee. Anyway, instead of hard-hitting questions about Stark's business dealings or his involvement with the war in Vietnam, they ask things like this:

So, anyway, Stark goes to "Cleopatra-land" to help an archaeologist friend. Who apparently has managed to fund and launch a huge expedition without knowing where to dig. He's hoping Tony can help the team find the location of a hidden tomb. Tony recommends Iron Man for the job and then makes himself scarce while he "goes to look for him".

When Iron Man arrives at the site, he quickly uses a tiny fluoroscope to spot the hidden tomb (on the first try, no less) and then uses a drill attachment to tunnel a big, ugly hole in the side of an historically significant structure.

Iron Man and "Paul" the archaeologist quickly discover the mummy of King Hatap "The Mad Pharaoh" who was reputed to have been a master of black magic. Iron Man leaves the dig to Paul and switches back to Stark.

A short time later, Paul bursts into the main expedition tent to report that the mummy has been stolen. He leaves to organize a search party. It is then that Stark finds out he is being watched. Watched by none other than King Hatap!

Hatap reveals that he was never mummified. After a failed rebellion against Cleopatra, Hatap faked his own death with a powerful drug that put him into suspended animation. He was wrapped in linen and encased in a sarcophagus where he has remained for the last 2,500 years. He now plans to return to the past via a magic statue of a chariot that will let him travel through time and he plans to take Stark with him to aide him in his conquest.

When Stark and Hatap arrive in the past, the Romans are attacking Egypt. Stark slips away from Hatap and changes to Iron Man and fights off the Roman infantry who assume he's a god. Then, he mounts a tiny propeller on his foot and torpedoes a Roman galley.

Iron Man warns Cleopatra of the impending attack by Hatap. Cleo asks him to save her kingdom. Iron Man agrees and combats the approaching chariots of Hatap's forces with something unbeatable. Furniture casters.

Yes, that's right, Iron Man attaches furniture casters to his back and rolls across the sands of Egypt into the advancing army. Somehow, this defeats them.

Cleopatra falls for Iron Man, but he leaves for 1963, where he can find a life-sustaining electrical outlet.

On a final note: Hatap, you have a time-travel device. Why the @!#$ did you put yourself to sleep for 2,500 years? Why didn't you, say pop back to last week and tell yourself how you lost the upcoming battle?? Why are time machines always in the hands of the stupid?

Stop by tomorrow, when Superboy kills his parents. But don't worry, it's not his real parents, just Ma and Pa Kent!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Temporal Anomaly Imminent! Time Travel Week Starts Monday, 11/23

I'm going to turn this coming week into a special Time Travel Week. I decided to do this largely because a version of myself from the future told me it would be a big hit! So stop by this week and enjoy your favorite Silver Age heroes creating an endless string of paradoxes and temporal faux pas. And try not to step on any butterflies. Yeesh!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Frontiersman AND Anthropologist- Tomahawk #71

The term "Caveman" was coined shortly after the first, isolated discoveries of Neanderthal Man in 1829,1848 and 1856. However, in the story "The Caveman Indians" from 1960's Tomahawk #71, Revolutionary War scout Tomahawk and his sidekick Dan Hunter seem really familiar with the idea of Cavemen.

While exploring for new hunting grounds (in unnamed territory) Tomahawk and Dan are caught in a landslide on a mountaintop and get dumped into an underground river. When they come to and make it ashore, they are set upon by Caveman warriors who capture them and take them home to their cave.

Luckily, these Cavemen (who live in an isolated lost valley) speak a dialectic Algonquian and Tomahawk and Dan can understand them.

What follows is a fairly mundane story about a tribal power struggle. Tomahawk and Dan have lost all their ammunition, but teach the friendly Cavemen how to make bows and arrows and a canoe. They also use their black powder to make exploding arrows. The comics code, however, makes sure that the good guys use ropes and padded arrows to subdue their foes without bloodshed.

The day is saved when Tarn, chief of the good guys challenges Varrak, chief of the bad guys (and a giant) to single combat. Tarn quickly vanquishes Varrak with the aid of the "Indian wrestling" techniques taught him by Tomahawk.

Tomahawk and Dan climb into their new canoe and paddle right out of the lost valley.

I have to say this was a little disappointing. I mean, I would have liked to at least see some mammoths or sabre cats in this lost valley. Sure, it's not all that realistic, but Tomahawk faces a giant gorilla somewhere in the American West in one issue. Where are my extinct beasts?

Also, apart from wearing the kind of sad, unfinished loincloths that are the Caveman's stock in trade, and their stone-age tools, I don't see any reason why anyone would think these guys are Cavemen instead of just isolated Indians. Never mind the fact that Tomahawk and Dan shouldn't even know Cavemen ever existed.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why I love Turok, Son of Stone

Many years ago, when I was a child, I mostly read funny comics. I preferred Archie and Chip 'n' Dale and Casper. I had a couple of superhero comics, but I didn't understand why Green Lantern and Green Arrow seemed so angry, or why they had such hip, adult lives. I bought a Batman once and was devastated when the story was continued next issue. How would I ever get that comic? Would Crazy Quilt win??

One day, my dad brought me home a new comic. New to me, anyway. It had Indians fighting a dinosaur on the cover. Now you're talkin'! I had cut my teeth on both Dinosaurs and Cowboys 'n' Indians. I was in heaven.

For anyone out there who is unfamiliar with Turok, Turok and Andar are a pair of frontier-era Plains Indians who have stumbled into a "lost world" of the Arthur Conan Doyle or Edgar Rice Burroughs type.

It's probably my favorite "lost world" comic, as Turok and Andar really don't have a clue what dinosaurs are and, even with their relatively primitive, bow and arrow technology are still amazingly technologically superior to the various axe and spear level natives they encounter.

Add in a few quaint, innocent touches like the way all the cave folk speak broken English amongst themselves or the way Turok and Andar (and everyone they subsequently meet) call Dinosarus "honkers" and you have a comic that is both thrillingly adventurous and unbelievably charming.

But you needen't take my word for it, Mykal at the Gold Key Comics! blog has posted a classic issue of Turok, Son of Stone for the benefit of everyone.

For me, Turok, Son of Stone is always a window into a fantastic Lost World in more ways than one.

Thank the Gods 'Tis Thor's Day will return next week.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Morning 1967- Aquaman

"And the award for most short-changed superhero goes to..."

I have always disliked how Ted Knight (Mary Tyler Moore's "Ted Baxter" and the dad on Too Close for Comfort as well as Filmation voice artist and narrator) said "Aquaman". I mean, this is English and aqua is a Latin word, and Latin is a dead language, but the way he says it just can't be right.

Ted always (without fail) pronounced it ACK-wuh-man. I have always felt that AH-KWUH-man was more correct. And Ted says "Aquaman" a LOT.

1967's Aquaman cartoons from Filmation are really pretty impressive. Filmation gives Aquaman a cool laboratory HQ and a large supporting cast-Mera, Aqualad, Storm the seahorse and even a goofy pet for Aqualad, Tusky the walrus. (I still wince every time Aquaman and Aqualad climb into that rocketship filled with water for an interplanetary voyage and they take Tusky! He's a mammal! It makes me feel a little pannicky, frankly.)

Kinda the Lone Ranger and Tonto of the seas.

Filmation even included a pretty large number of real Aquaman villains, making good use of Black Manta and even The Fisherman.

There were also the mandatory Filmation alien invasion stories , and a LOT of invasions by hostile undersea races. Frankly, I'd never realized the wild diversity of sentient ocean-dwellers.

Aquaman himself has a fairly on-model appearance, although Filmation felt he needed some big,black boots instead of his calf- fins. And his hair sure stays still for a guy who lives underwater:

I bet he uses AQUA-NET!!
Still, these cartoons are wonderful fun and they do a pretty good job of capturing the spirit of 1960's Aquaman comics.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Breaking News! Aqua-awareness is dangerously low.

For any of you who don't know, DC killed Aquaman a while back. Let me repeat that: DC KILLED Aquaman. This is not like where they spent over a year farting around with "The Death of Superman" and "The Return of Superman" and made it a big, ludicrous collector's item event. Nor is it like where they gave Batman readers (and the general public) a 900 number to call to vote on whether or not to kill Robin.

No, Aquaman, one of my favorite superheroes, alumnus, founding member of and one time leader of the Justice League of America was callously killed off by a company that couldn't figure out how to market him.

Which brings me to this: Aquaman will be featured in the upcoming issue #32 of DC's team-up title,The Brave and the Bold. And it looks like a classic Aquaman. No mullet, no hook, no weird water hand and goatee, just the Aquaman we all watched on the Superfriends.

Please buy this issue. If it sucks, I'm sorry in advance.

For a look at the ongoing discussion amongst Aqua-fans- please see the post at blogger Rob Kelly's The Aquaman Shrine.

And, by all means feel free to write or e-mail DC Comics to let them know that you want Aquaman back.

Martian Manhunter is the Laziest Cop EVER . Detective Comics #246

Sorry, anyone wants to buy me a
nice, color copy, go right ahead!

Superheroes attract nosy broads like nobody's business. So it's no real surprise when John Jones-Manhunter From Mars- catches the eye of Police Commissioner's daughter, Diane Meade.

Miss Meade has recently completed her test for "emergency police-woman" and, after taking one look at tall, square-jawed Detective Jones, requests that Captain Harding pair her with Jones for her first assignment. (Which begs the question: why doesn't this guy have a partner?)

Martian Manhunter, meanwhile, is busy catching recent escapee Tiger Raffity. By cheating. Jones sees Raffity through the wall of a building and then pops in behind him, taking him by surprise. I wonder if using superpowers to teleport behind a guy constitutes illegal seizure?

When Jones is approached with the proposal to partner with Miss Meade, he is apprehensive. See, if Diane is with him, he can't use his super powers. And if John can't use his super powers, he'll have to BE A DETECTIVE!

Jones and Meade are sent to investigate the theft of an "invaluable, jeweled African mask". Why are art objects in old comics always jeweled? Could kids in the 50's not wrap their heads around the value of a wooden mask? I took African Art History in college. Not one jeweled mask! Unless cowrie shells count as jewels...

This Diane chick is trouble from the get-go. She smokes, which means she whips out a cigarette lighter and strikes a flame- fire is like Kryptonite to Martians. Jones makes up some BS regulation about not smoking on duty and Miss Meade nonchalantly tosses a lit cigarette over her shoulder. Any regulations against LITTERING?

Upon arriving at the Barnes Museum, Jones and Meade are handed the easiest bust I've ever seen.

The curator explains that, shortly after he and his assistants unpacked the newly arrived mask, he was robbed by two guys in black masks. His assistants, Morris and Scanlon were on their lunch break at the time.

Detective Jones has a "hunch" and scans the assistants' faces with his super-vision "which enables me to magnify the electronic components of any object to 1,000 times their natural size!" I'm assuming he means that he can see subatomic particles. "electronic components" makes it sound like he's shopping at Radio Shack. Jones sees black lint on the faces of the two assistants, cluing him that they committed the robbery.

Really? You think? Hmmm, motive, opportunity... But does Johnny take these two guys downtown for some questioning? No. Even though they so far have not produced an alibi for their whereabouts (not that Jones asked for one, mind you) , Jones tells the curator he'd like them all to lock up and leave Jones and Meade here to look for clues.

Now maybe I've watched a little too much Law and Order- okay, a LOT too much, but it seems to me that- even if the curator is too dumb to recognize the two guys who work for him when they have on masks- a suspect is a suspect. You don't just send them home because you peeked with your superpowers and don't want to give away that you're a Martian by DOING YOUR JOB!

The curator and his assistants leave and Jones and Meade begin to discuss the case. Jones voices his suspicions of the two assistants. Unfortunately, Morris and Scanlon have doubled back to the curator's office and are eavesdropping on the detectives via the inter-office intercom.

The two crooks sneak back into the museum and take Meade hostage and then try and take Jones out by dropping a totem pole on him. I love a good assault with a totem pole scene!

The detectives are imprisoned in a model of a cave in the museum's backyard while the two baddies attempt to loot the museum and flee town.

When Jones comes to, he leans against the cave wall. Pretending to be more injured than he is he reaches through the cave roof with his now intangible arm. John triggers a landslide that dislodges the boulder the bad guys used to block the cave and BINGO! the detectives are free.

Does Detective Jones phone headquarters and put out an APB on Morris and Scanlon? No! Instead he uses his Martian senses to smell out the exhaust trail from the recently- departed getaway car and uses his Martian vision to spot its tire tracks.

Using his wits (for the first time this issue) John sends Diane to the apartment of one crook while he claims to be headed to the apartment of the other. He tells Diane to wait at the apartment in case the bad guys show, but not to go in without him.

Assuming his Martian form (albeit invisibly), Jones quickly tracks down and catches the crooks by knocking them unconscious with "sonic vibrations". He then deposits them in Scanlon's apartment and then rushes around to the front door where Diane is waiting. Jones and Meade kick in the door and apprehend the crooks.

Prior to this story, I've read at least two stories where the theme was that J'onn J'onnz had to do his job without powers for a day. He always freaks out at the idea. I understand it would be kind of inconvenient not to have superpowers, but yeesh! Grow up, you big, green baby!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thank The Gods 'Tis Thor's Day! Journey Into Mystery #85

We are treated this issue to the first appearance of Asgard, home of the Norse gods.

Verily, 'tis a trippy place!

As well as the first appearance of Thor's rival, enemy and half-brother, Loki- the god of Mischief.

Loki has been imprisoned by the gods in a tree for ages, as punishment for some past misdeed. Loki blames Thor for his plight, and plots to free himself. The only catch is, Loki must remain within the tree until someone "sheds a tear for Loki". Loki knows no-one will weep for him intentionally, so he wills the tree to shed a leaf just as Heimdall, guardian of the rainbow bridge passes by. The leaf pokes Heimdall in the eye, causing his eye to weep and Loki is freed!

Loki then heads to Earth to seek his vengeance on Thor. There's a lot of trickery involved, including Loki hypnotizing Thor into giving his hammer to a duplicate of himself and a scene where Loki rides around on a bunch of pigeons. A person on the street who witnesses Loki's arrival on the backs of a flock of pigeons declares that it "must be an advertising stunt". What could anyone possibly be advertising with a dude in an operatic Viking superhero getup riding a flock of pigeons?

Loki causes all kinds of trouble, including making Thor save several citizens from being run over by a train. A train Loki pushed them in front of. (Kinda pedestrian for the trickster god of Norse myth) Thor finally catches back up to Loki and ties him to his hammer, which he flings back to Asgard, where Loki is once again imprisoned.

Jane Foster finds the whole clash of gods in downtown Manhattan to be "romantic", hinting that she is becoming more and more attracted to the dashing Thor. And subsequently less dazzled by her shy employer.

ACK! I forgot! For more issue-by-issue coverage of Silver Age Marvel- tune in to "Fantastic Four Fridays" over at one of my favorite blogs- Silver Age Comics.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

An Interview with Mr. Jigsaw Creator Ron Fortier!

After Monday's post about Mr. Jigsaw and what a shame it was he never made it big in the 80's, I just couldn't let it rest. So today i searched on line for whatever happened to Mr. Jigsaw or "Jiggy" as his creator calls him. I found out that Mr. Jigsaw had a one-shot issue from Ocean Comics in 1988.

I also found out that Mister Jigsaw became a back-up feature in 1993's E-Man revival from Alpha Productions. And then, something weird happened. I found out that Mr. Jigsaw has his own comic being published THIS YEAR from Red Bud Studios. After taking a shot in the dark and writing Mega Comics Group (who publish comics, but not this one- they were only reviewing it) I was given contact information for Mr. Jigsaw writer Ron Fortier. Mr. Fortier graciously agreed to an interview, which is presented here:

AB: When Mr. Jigsaw first appeared in 1983's Scary Tales #38,

was there a plan in the works, by Charlton, to develop Mr. Jigsaw in his own series?

RF: In 1982, artist Gary Kato and I sold a 12 pg. sci-fi strip to Charlton's try-out comic, Bulls-Eye.

They were so happy with it, the asked us to do another for them. That second story was the Mr. Jigsaw origin. They loved it and asked Gary to give them a cover. It was going to appear in another issue of

AB: Even though it got the cover, did you have any reservations about your superhero story running in Scary Tales?
RF: Before the Jiggy story could appear, the Bulls-Eye title was canceled
and many of the strips intended for it were returned to the creators.
Thing is the editors at Charlton loved Jiggy and asked if they could keep
the story for another of their titles. Gary and I were totally okay and
that's how the book ended up in Scary Tales # 38.
AB: I'm assuming Mr. Jigsaw was co-created with artist Gary Kato, since he's been involved in every incarnation of the character. Apart from the obvious artist angle, how much input did/does Gary Kato have in the creation process?
RF: Gary asked me to create a character who split apart.  He was
anxious to do a comedy superhero and after a little thought about
his request,I came up with Mr.Jigsaw. We are the co-creators of
the series. When I wrote that first script,I never detailed the
look of any of the characters,that was all Gary. To this day,I
write the stories and his brilliant imagination puts faces to
the people I whip up. It's been a dream partnership for over 30
years now.
AB: I and others have likened Mr. Jigsaw to Jack Cole's Plastic Man in it's quirky inventiveness. I know you are a big fan of earlier heroes, particularly those of the pulp magazines. What comics or pulp heroes actually influenced Jiggy, and what was your favorite comic book growing up?
RF: Jack Cole's amazing Plastic Man was truly one of the major
influences for our approach to Mr.Jigsaw, but the one that was
my guiding light was C.C.Beck's original Captain Marvel. In
reviewing those first few stories of Jiggy, the late Don Thompson
remarked the stories were very much in the vein of the old Big
Red Cheese. High praise indeed.

My favorite comic growing up was Spider-Man (it first hit the
stands when I was 13 years old.).
AB: I know that there were at least two attempts after Charlton to find Jiggy a home. What ultimately lead you to publish through Red Bud Studios?
RF: Artist Rob Davis and me formed Airship 27 Productions two
and a half years ago to publish new pulp novels and anthologies.
When we got it into our heads to maybe do comic versions of
these pulp characters, Rob opted to create Red Bud Studios for
us to self-publish these. We did two books like this, then out
of the blue Gary contacted me about the possibility of our
reviving Jiggy into a new on-going series. I immediately brought
it up to Rob and he said he'd love to be a part of this project
and thus Jiggy is now published via Red Bud Studios.

AB: In 1993, you published a six-page Mr. Jigsaw story in an issue of
also aformer (very unique) Charlton hero. What, if any,
relationship do you have wit
h Nicola Cuti and Joe Staton?
RF: I was Joe Staton's fan when he first became a professional
comic book artist back in the early 1970s. When Alpha
Productions, a Maine based independent comic company I was
affiliated with,got it into their heads to do an E-MAN comic,
they asked me to contact Joe and Nick. Which I did,and we got
the project rolling. When Joe told our editors he might not be
able to do a full 26 page comic all the time, it was suggested
he do 22 pages stories and Gary and me would provide short
Jiggy back-ups. We did three of these.

AB: Jiggy's partner, Amy "Buck" Bouchard is a departure from
the usual female lead in a traditional superhero comic. Where
did she come from, creatively?
RF: I have a cousin named Gloria who lost her right hand in a
tragic accident when she was only five yrs old. Her loving
parents refused to let it stop her from becoming a successful,
wonderful adult. She grew up to be an amazing woman and a true
inspiration to all of us. As I was writing thatfirst Jiggy
story, it dawned on me that it would be the perfect counterpart.
Here we have a hero who can do anything he wants to all the
parts of his body and his best friend is someone missing a body
part. Amy is one of my dearest creations and I've received much
praise for her from handicapped readers.
AB: And finally, as you look forward to your sixth issue (the longest run
Mr. Jigsaw has had in his 26 year history) how long do you see this series
RF: Forever!  Sincerely, Gary and I are having a blast doing these new
stories and so are old fans, and the new ones we seem to be gathering.
As long as they want more of Maine's Only Living Super Hero, we'll
keep delivering.

AB: Again, thank you for your time, it is much appreciated.
RF: Hey, my thanks, Aaron. It's always fun to talk about Jiggy.

Readers wanting to purchase their own copies of Mr. Jigsaw can
go to( where the books are all on sale

or they can go to and looked for the collected
ADVENTURES OF MR.JIGSAW from Wild Wolf Entertainment, which
collects the first three issues.

Wait! Was Captain America Even Missing?

Captain America Veterans' Day Special, part two.

In 1964's Avengers #4, wherever Cap goes, people get all weepy to see him returned to them. Even though the Avengers didn't seem to recognize Captain America, the rest of the world seems to have never gotten over his loss. Which brings us to an interesting point. Was Cap ever actually missing??

See, the thing is, Captain America first appeared in comics in 1940, punching Hitler in the face! Which is pretty bold, considering we wouldn't enter WWII for another year.

That's for Poland and France!

The good Captain continued to be a big seller throughout the War, and then, after 1945 sales began to decline.

An attempt was made to bring back the comic in 1953 as "Captain America: Commie Smasher" but the book folded by 1954. Maybe the McCarthy Hearings made Cap seem more paranoid than timely?

So, when The Avengers find Cap in 1964, and he was MIA since 1945, somehow everyone overlooked the fact that Cap and Bucky were alive and well as late as 1954.

I'd like to wish a happy Veteran's Day to all our service-men and -women who HAVEN'T been frozen in a block of ice for the last 20 years! Your sacrifice is appreciated.

Being Frozen Makes You Kind Of A Downer- Avengers #4

Captain America Veterans' Day Special, part one.

Right off the bat, let me apologize. I had this post in mind for some time, thinking I had a reprint of Avengers#4. Turns out, the book I have that reprints it reprints a 6-page, abridged version of it. Near as I can tell, it mostly leaves out a big, Kirby fight.

In issue #4, The Avengers acquire a new member. A guy with all the charisma and leadership any superteam could ever ask for; Captain America.

This issue begins by reminding us of a big fight between the Avengers and the Sub-Mariner that took place last issue. We rejoin the Sub-Mariner on yet another rampage. After brooding about how much he hates the Human race, he decides to stop and hassle some Eskimos. These Eskimos are minding their own business, worshiping their idol; a dude frozen in a block of ice. Silly Eskimos.

Because he's just that big a jerk, Subby takes their idol and throws it into the ocean, where it just happens to drift into the Gulf Stream. The lump of ice slowly thaws out in the warm, Gulf Stream waters and reveals the floating body inside just as it happens to pass by a submarine (with the biggest interior any sub never had) filled with-you guessed it- The Avengers.

The Avengers marvel over the frozen corpse they've found and ponder his strange costume. Just then, the body springs to life and reveals himself to be Captain America.

When the Avengers question his authenticity, Cap challenges them to a fight. It's ALWAYS a fight with these people!

The Earth's Mightiest Heroes then get their asses handed to them by a guy who's been frozen for 20 years. You would think he'd have frostbite and muscular atrophy, at least.

Cap then recounts the strange tale of how he came to be there:

In 1945, while trying to defuse a flying bomb that is aimed at the U.S., Cap and his kid sidekick, Bucky are carried out over the North Atlantic Ocean. Something goes horribly wrong and the bomb explodes early, killing Bucky outright and throwing Captain America into the icy waters below. Cap is flash-frozen and slips into a state of suspended animation. He remembers nothing else, but, for some reason conjectures that he must have become frozen in a block of ice and then been found and worshiped by some Eskimos as a supernatural object...

Sure. Why not?

The Avengers dock their sub in New York Harbor and are greeted by a mob of reporters. Two seconds later, a bright flash occurs and the heroes are turned to stone. The ever-vigilant representatives of the Fourth Estate decide it must be some trick the Avengers used to dodge an interview.

Captain America emerges and puzzles over the odd poses of the "statues" of the Avengers, and then goes sight-seeing. At some point he checks into a hotel. I have no idea what he used for money. Cap does what any guy who just woke up in 1964 New York would do; he watches hotel TV.

His vegging out is interrupted by Rick Jones, who Cap mistakes for Bucky. Apparently Rick is a dead ringer for the late, lamented sidekick. I had just assumed that he looked similar because he was another Kirby drawing. To me, Rick always looked more like Snapper Car. Anyway, Rick has come to find Cap because the Avengers are missing.

The good Captain snaps out of his Rip Van Winkle funk and becomes a decisive man of action. Looking at photos taken at the dock that morning, Cap spots a guy with a device he's absolutely sure isn't a camera. Seems to me, since in Cap's mind people should be riding in flying cars by 1964, he would defer to Rick on that.

Cap is right, however, the "camera" is a ray gun in the possession of a stranded alien who was hired by the Sub-Mariner (Cap comments that he seems "to remember that name from the dim past"- "the dim past"? You mean the day before yesterday, when you and Subby were on the same side in WWII?) to turn the Avengers to stone. In exchange, The Sub-Mariner was to help the alien free his sunken ship from the ocean floor.

The alien explains that he has been stranded for thousands of years and gives hints that his frightening appearance and ability to petrify may have inspired the legend of Medusa. Oh! Good, I needed someone to rationalize Medusa for me.. now, where did we leave Thor??

Cap and Rick get the spaceman to revive the Avengers who help free his spacecraft and send him home. There are references to a big battle, but my copy skips all of that. *sigh*

For some reason, Captain America seems to act like he's really old. I mean, if you'd been frozen in a block of ice when you were 20 for two decades and suddenly revived with no memory of time passing, wouldn't you still be, like 20? Geez! at the most he's in his early 40's.

Sure, his slang and his world view would be different. But instead of acting all morose and grandpa-ish, wouldn't he be more likely to attack the staff at Benihana and make them pay for Pearl Harbor? Wouldn't he go to record stores looking for 78's of Glen Miller? Also, I don't remember anyone issuing you a discharge, Captain. Shouldn't you report for duty or something?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Joe Kubert Draws the Happiest Space Monster Ever for the Cover of... Strange Adventures #232

Okay, so this comic is from 1971. Hardly within the scope of the Silver Age, you say. And he just covered a comic from 1983 yesterday. Has this become a Bronze Age blog??? Fear not, True Believers! The contents of this little gem are all solidly Silver!

First up, reprinted from Mystery In Space #14, from back in 1953 we have a little number called "Hollywood in Space". It was written by John Broome and gorgeously drawn by Mort Drucker. I'll give you the teaser:

"Webb Weldon's fate as a movie director hung on the success of a multi-million dollar picture -- A spectacular space-adventure that he had made on actual location ... on unknown and ultra-distant worlds! And fame seemed within his grasp until that moment, back on Earth, when he ran part of the footage he had shot on the strange and very friendly planet of Xunis..."

"A multi-million dollar picture"? I'm guessing that 27th century dollars are worth more.

Next up, the Star Rovers hunt the aptly named but biologically improbable Loborilla in the sci-fi adventure yarn "Who Caught the Loborilla?" from Mystery In Space #66, 1961. Written by the immortal Gardner Fox and enthusiastically rendered by Sid Greene.

The Loborilla looks like something B'wanna Beast left lying around after a fight. The joke's on the Star Rovers, though. The Loborilla is actually a super-intelligent being on vacation.

Next up, we have a big-fat feature-length Adam Strange story, "The Multiple Menace Weapon" from Mystery In Space #72,1961, written, again by Gardner Fox and drawn by Carmine Infantino with inks by Murphy Anderson.

Adam Strange travels once more via Zeta Beam to his adopted planet, Rann. But this time, 100,000 years into the distant future, where people have predictably large heads and are unfamiliar with fire. I wonder if this is what happened to the Mars of Martian Manhunter? Anyway, as always Rann is menaced by an alien invasion only Adam Strange can stop. The action centers on the capital city of Rann, Ranagar City. I always love how the capital of Rann is Ranagar which rhymes with Hawkman's home world of Thanagar. It's like they asked Scooby-Doo to say "Thanagar".

The final tale in this issue is "The Magnetic Duel" from- you guessed it- Mystery In Space #17, 1954 (Maybe they shouldn't have cancelled Mystery In Space?). Written by John Broome and drawn by Murphy Anderson. I don't know about you, but I love a good space Western. Especially an old-school one where the space explorers wear cowboy hats and ray guns. Classic!

I'm old enough to remember comics costing a quarter, but not a big, fat 48-pager like this baby. Still, in 1971 the cost must have been scandalous, because Carmine Infantino himself wrote a memo to the readers, justifying the extravagant cost:

I love how Infantino asks you to "rap" for a moment and that he understands that you expect a lot for your hard-earned "bread". "But the fact that you bought it is what turns us on. " -Shades of SNAPPER CARR! That's some hip talk! Carmine sounds like he just got busted on Dragnet.

Even funnier, though, is the idea that this comic contains "Specially selected stories that we were planning for a long time... and that time is now!" This is ALL reprints. I'm pretty sure that kept the overhead down and allowed DC to get more for their "bread".

Monday, November 9, 2009

What Was The Missing Piece for Mr. Jigsaw??... Scary Tales #38

Okay, this is NOT a Silver Age comic. But bear with me. See, when I was a kid, I bought my comics from the spinner rack at the local Rexall drug store, conveniently placed on my route home from school. I mostly bought GI Joe and Transformers and Indiana Jones. I wasn't much on superhero comics when I was eleven. I had been let down by how little the superheroes of the late 1970's had resembled my beloved Superfriends and wouldn't get sucked back into superheroes for another couple years (by Alpha Flight, of all things!). I had previously purchased an issue of Scary Tales when I was eight and it had scared the Hell out of me. I had since avoided horror comics.

But this day, something about this comic caught my eye. Maybe it was the mystery as to why Scary Tales had a superhero on the cover. Maybe it was because, once I had seen Mr. Jigsaw, Man of a Thousand Parts, I had to know what this was all about.

At any rate, I coughed up the $0.60 (which was almost enough to get two Zero bars!) and took it home.

Now, I'm not going to pretend this comic was some work of genius, ahead of its time- although it was a breath of fresh air. No, what's great about this comic is it's unfulfilled potential. See, Charlton had already tried superheroes in the 1960's and decided to get out of the sandbox (except for 1973's E-Man). They sold their stable of 60's heroes to DC, who would eventually order a script written to use them that would become the Watchmen- look, that's a whole other story.

Back to the potential. The thing is, Charlton took a new hero comic and gave it top billing and the cover in Scary Tales. That's almost exactly how Marvel broke back into the superhero business in the 1960's. All their now-famous heroes (well, except for the Fantastic Four and the Hulk) began life in comics like Tales to Astonish and Tales of Suspense and Amazing Fantasy and Strange Tales.

So, yeah. This single issue of Scary Tales was like a time bomb. But it never went off.

Mr. Jigsaw is a fairly entertaining hero conceptually, with a quirky charm that reminds me of Plastic Man. Sadly, even if he had been picked up as a regular feature, 1985's Watchmen and Batman: the Dark Knight Returns would have buried him with their grim and gritty backlash.

I have posted the entire story here for your enjoyment. Just click on the pages to see them bigger
Oh! and where the pages are crooked- Charlton printed them that way.

Special thanks to Scott M. at "Seduction of the Indifferent" for reviewing this comic on his blog and reminding me it existed. Also to Mykal at "Gold Key Comics!" for indirectly giving me the idea to just post the whole 12 page story.

UPDATE!: Since this story was posted, this blog became aware of the continued existence of Mr. Jigsaw. To read about his more recent adventures and to check out our interview with Mr. Jigsaw co-creator, Ron Fortier, check out this later post:

Thanks !