Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Reading Room: SCARLET PHANTOM "Curse of Gold"

Here's the never-reprinted origin of a hero you've never heard of... a story with a title that has no relation to the actual plot!
And that's it!
The Scarlet Phantom never appeared after this tale in All-New Short Story Comics #2 in 1943!
Heck, he never even got a logo!
I guess, having avenged his father's death, Jack Winstead went back to full-time reporting.
The art, BTW, is one of the first examples of work by a very young Joe Kubert, apparently channeling Lou Fine.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reading Room: PHANTOM LADY "Ghosts, Galleons and Gold"

Long before the Pirates of the Caribbean sailed into cinemas...
 ...the busty bombshell known as Phantom Lady faced specters on ships for treasure!
I really was waiting for someone to say "I'd have gotten away with it if not for that meddling Phantom Lady!"
A little of everything in this tale from Phantom Lady #18, including some serious "headlights" on pages 4-5, courtesy of legendary illustrator Matt Baker with a wacky script probably by Ruth Roche.
featuring goodies emblazoned with cover art that Fredric Wertham railed against in Seduction of the Innocent.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


After Crom the Barbarian, came ClawFang the Barbarian!
(weird how most barbarians have a "hard C" name...Conan, Crom, ClawFang, Claw, Kull, Kothar, Kyrik, etc.)
We'll never know, since this was ClawFang's only published adventure!
A cool mix of sf/fantasy genres written and laid-out by Wally Wood with pencils and inks by Al Williamson, appearing in Unearthly Spectaculars #2, part of a short-lived line of action/adventure comics produced by Harvey Comics in the mid-1960s.
Oddly, while there were numerous "jungle hero/heroine" strips and books with sci-fi/fantasy elements, Clawfang was only the second actual barbarian strip in comics history, after Crom.
Five years later, Marvel would launch Conan the Barbarian, and suddenly, an entire new genre bloomed in comics with almost every publisher launching at least one barbarian-themed comic.
But Crom and ClawFang were there first!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Reading Room PHANTOM LADY "Case of the Swindling Eye"

The superheroine who's an eyeful catches con artists using glass eyes... this tale from All-Top Comics #11!
While there are aspects to the story (probably by Ruth Roche) like how, on page 3, Don doesn't recognize Phantom Lady as Sandra Knight! (He was looking at her face, not her...headlights...although the way the word balloons are arranged in page 3, panel 5 leaves no doubt as to what the editor thinks the reader wants to see!
The cheesecake "good girl" art is, of course by Matt Baker, who did almost all the Phantom Lady stories!

featuring goodies emblazoned with cover art that Fredric Wertham railed against in Seduction of the Innocent.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


While Conan the Barbarian had rampaged thru pulp magazines in the 1930s...
...another barbarian would be the first to slash thru comic books!
Crom was the brainchild of writer Gardner Fox and artist John Giunta.
His first story appeared in the one-shot anthology Out of this World, then was reprinted the next month in Out of This World Adventures #1, an offbeat pulp magazine/comic book hybrid combining b/w text and spot illustration sections with a color comics section.
After a second appearance in OoTWA, he moved over to the comic Strange Worlds which reprinted his second OoTWA appearance, then ran one more tale before the barbarian disappeared into the mists of history.
If the name "Gardner Fox" sounds familiar, he's best known for his extensive Golden and Silver Age superhero work including creating the Golden Age SkyMan, Sandman, Dr Fate, Starman, Kenton of the Star Patrol and Moon Girl; the Silver Age Adam Strange and Atom, both the Golden and Silver Age Flashes and Hawkmen, and conceptualizing and writing the first stories of both the Justice Society and Justice League!
He also made important contributions to Batman (utility belt, batarang, bat-gyro) and introduced the parallel-world concept of Earth-One/Earth-Two to comics in "Flash of Two Worlds" which united his Golden and Silver Age Scarlet Speedsters.
Including non-series comics stories he wrote over 4,000 stories.
Fox wrote at least one prose novel per year, sometimes under pen names covering genres from sci-fi and fantasy to romance to espionage as well as numerous short stories.
Besides scripting Crom, Fox wrote two paperback series in the 60s-70s featuring barbarian heroes; Kothar (five books) and Kyrik (four books).
In addition he did a pair of John Carter/Barsoom-style novels featuring Alan Morgan on Llarn.
and these barbaric goodies from Amazon...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Reading Room: THE SHADOW "Night of the Avenger" Conclusion

Art by Mike Kaluta
Somebody is assembling enough arms and men to form a small army.
A team of assassins lead by Smitty, one of The Avenger's aides, attempts to kill The Shadow.
Margo Lane, aide and confidante to The Shadow attempts to kill The Avenger.
Clues lead both The Shadow (and his aides) and The Avenger (and his aides) to a lonely stretch of New Jersey beachfront where a massive weapons cache is discovered.
When the two groups meet, each believes the arms depot belongs to the other, and...
In the 1970s, both Marvel and DC revived pulp characters whose paperback reprints were selling very well.
Marvel licensed Doc Savage, and DC grabbed both The Shadow and The Avenger.
Due to the fact Marvel had trademarked The Avengers,  DC's Avenger book was titled Justice, Inc. (the name of The Avenger's organization.)*
The Shadow lasted 12 issues, Justice, Inc. only 4.
While some of the 1970s Shadow run have been reprinted in book form, this issue has not.
*Similarly, when a comic based on the British TV spy series The Avengers was done in the late 1960s, it was called John Steed & Mrs. Peel!

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