Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sometimes We All Feel Like Punching An Elephant In The Face!! Strange Adventures #180, September, 1965

When Julius Schwartz, a former literary agent for Science Fiction writers, became Editor-in Chief of DC Comics, the connection between Silver Age Super Heroes and Sci-Fi was cemented once and for all.

Starting with a revival of the Flash (in Showcase #4) and moving quickly to more sci-fi oriented re-envisionings of Green Lantern Hawkman, and the Atom, it was clear that the DC superhero of the late 50's and early 1960 was probably going to have some "scientific" explanation for his/her powers.

At the time, it was quite unusual for a new character (or even a new version of an established character) to debut in their own title. DC had comics devoted solely to trying out new material, such as Showcase and The Brave and the Bold. Showcase debuted the new Flash, Green Lantern, B'wanna Beast, The Atom, etc. The Brave and the Bold debuted the JLA.

But, with the aforementioned connection between the new breed of hero and Sci-Fi, is it any wonder that one such hero would find his home in the pages of one of DC's Sci-Fi anthology books, Strange Adventures?

Enter "The Man with the Animal Powers" . Or, as he would be known as of issue #190, Animal Man.

No, you won't find the familiar, orange and blue superhero duds here. A-Man's debut is very much in the vein of any other one-off Strange Adventures tale. Except he kept going. And going. Until eventually, he got his own catchy hero name and costume.

Sadly, he was not a big seller in his own time. It was not until the 1980's that Animal Man reached wide exposure in a landmark series by writer Grant Morrison and as a team member of Justice League Europe.

Interestingly, the character who would later be depicted as a very adamant animal rights activist, would make his debut punching an elephant in the face.

Check it out yourself. Enjoy "The Man With The Animal Powers" from Strange Adventures #180. September 1965 by Dave Wood and Carmine Infantino-

Will Buddy save those kids? Will he live to pop the question to Ellen?? Will he pummel more animals for our amusement??? For the answers to these and other questions, tune in tomorrow. Same Man With The Animal Powers time, same Man With The Animal Powers channel!!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Who Needs The EPA When You've Got A Radioactive Giant? Doctor Solar Man of the Atom #10, January, 1965

In Doctor Solar Man of the Atom #10 by Dick Wood and Frank Bolle, the Earth's Polar Ice cap has fractured and is beginning to fissure into thousands of giant ice floes. The culprit is not Global Warming (yet) but rather a massive earthquake.

Deciding that this is "Washington stuff " (hey, the Navy doesn't even trust these guys with gloves) the "Big Berg" scouts send out a red alert that immediately gets forwarded to Atom Valley.

Luckily for those star-crossed nuclear physicists, Dr.Solar and Gail, Dr. Clarkson is on hand to explain the magnitude of the problem:

not Sverdrup!!

Anyway, a brain trust of scientists and military men is immediately called into action and Dr. Solar decides to attend- in his hero alter-ego of The Man of the Atom. For some reason, all the generals (and one snarky colonel who keeps calling Solar a "freak") want to use A-bombs to blow up or melt the icebergs. The Man of the Atom interjects that although he could melt the icebergs, it would flood the world. He also states that if he were to vaporize the ice, it would change our climate drastically, making Earth unlivable (like now). He does, however, propose another solution:

In order to pull this off, however, Solar is going to need more atomic energy than the Nuclear reactor at Atom valley can supply. Taking a tip from his own name, Solar heads to the biggest nuclear reactor he can find- Earth's Sun!

It's like a psychedelic, Dr. Solar Dance Party!!

Returning to Earth all charged up (the trip takes about 6 minutes at light speed) Solar seals the fissures in the Polar Ice Cap. He then returns to Atom Valley to make a startling discovery:

He's gotten big. Like Apache Chief big. Like Jimmy Olsen the Turtle Man big. BIG.

And, to make things weirder, there's suddenly a worldwide epidemic of electromagnetic disturbances. The Man of the Atom is immediately blamed.

I don't want to give away the rest of the story, but, as the cover implies, things get ugly before they get better. It is later discovered that the EM disturbances are caused by Sun Spots!

Also, I'm sure more than a few of you sharp cookies have noticed the resemblance between Doctor Solar and The Watchmen's Doctor Manhattan. Although Captain Atom is usually credited with being Dr. M's main inspiration, it's pretty apparent that more than a pinch of Dr. Solar has made it into that mix.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Happy Cinco De Mayo!!

Okay, okay, so El Dorado is not actually a Silver Age character! And yeah, that's a Valentine's Day card! But still, I can't keep posting the "Green Arrow of Mexico" every year.

If anyone is still reading this more and more infrequent blog, I have plans to try and resurrect it soon as a more regular feature. So keep your fingers crossed and wish me luck!