Friday, January 27, 2012

Reading Room: PHANTOM LADY "Man Who Lost His Stuff"

Spring Training is about to begin for Major League Baseball...
...but, no matter the season, the pulchritudinous Phantom Lady always hits a home run with us!
This tawdry tale from All Top Comics #16 (1949) was probably written by Ruth Roche, definitely penciled and partially-inked by Jack Kamen, and partially-inked by Matt Baker.
Oddly, though the Phantom Lady is based in Washington DC (her dad is a US Senator), the writers didn't use the existing Washington Senators or a surrogate like the "DC Representatives" or the "Washington Congressmen" or somesuch.

For those keeping chronological score, we skipped the second story from Phantom Lady #22, since it featured our heroine traveling to London and getting involved in the 1948 Olympics.
We'll be running that one in late July, around the time the Olympics open.
Next up will be the final Fox Comics issue of Phantom Lady, then her final All Top Comics appearance.
After that, we'll present her Ajax/Farrell stories from both her own title and her back-up tales in Wonder Boy!

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reading Room NOT WHO YOU THINK: FireBird and Valkyrie

Nope, he's not the female Mighty Avenger, (obviously)...
...and she's not another Mighty Avenger (and former Defender)...
...nor AirBoy's aviatrix nemesis from the 1940s...
...but they are a one-shot hero from the 1940s and his female nemesis in a tale from TailSpin #1 (and only), published in 1944.
I think you'll be able to tell who's who...
"In all his checkered career..."
What "checkered career"?
This was FireBird's only appearance!
The "aviator goggles-helmet and cape" ensemble was used by several heroes including Spy Smasher and the original Phantom Eagle, so it could be a reworked version of one of their tales.

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Friday, January 20, 2012

Reading Room: PHANTOM LADY "Case of the Robbing Robot"

It's Maiden of Mystery against Monster of Metal... our favorite barely-clad heroine takes on her first cyber-criminal in this tale from Phantom Lady #22 (1949)
The usual scripted wackiness by Ruth Roche and full pencil/ink art by Jack Kamen who seems to have finally gotten the knack for both storytelling and rendering.
It's not quite on the level of Matt Baker, but close enough.

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

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Reading Room: JET DREAM "Death Plunge"

It's amazing how, back in the 1960s, an entire tale could fit into only four pages...
...when most of today's writers can't tell a complete story in twenty pages!
Admittedly, it is tight, but everything's there!
Script for this tale from Man from U.N.C.L.E. #11 by Dick Wood, art by Gold Key mainstay Jack Sparling in his only Jet Dream assignment.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Reading Room: PHANTOM LADY "Substitute Cinderella"

The Phantom Lady gives new meaning to the phrase...
..."If the shoe fits, wear it!", as seen in this tale from All Top Comics #15 (1949).
Of course, the old "evil twin nobody knows about" trick!
Story, such as it is, probably by Ruth Roche.
The art is a mixed bag, there's some inking by Matt Baker, but the penciling and most of the inking is unusually-stiff and awkward.
Perhaps it was Jack Kamen's first art job, but it didn't see print until after several of his later assignments had been published!

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

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reading Room: NOT WHO YOU THINK Atlas "Man of Might" Conclusion

Cover art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito
When he fails to stop his girlfriend's little brother from being beaten by a gang of juvenile delinquents, Jim Randall is visited by the spirit of the Greek deity Atlas, who gives him The Secret of Strength, a list of exercises to build his body.
(Why Atlas didn't just zap Jim the way the Golden Age Thor did, is never explained!)
After the prerequisite montage, a newly-bulked up Jim visits his girlfriend Linda and discovers her brother is now a member of the juvie gang!
The Greek Titan reappears before Jim, gives him a costume, and tells him to  "Use your powers in my name and go forth and war on evil!"
Though the art appears to have been done sometime in the late 1940s-early 1950s, the tale wasn't published until 1964 by IW/Super Comics, a company noted for buying up defunct companies' printing plates, doing new covers, and reprinting the inside stories exactly as they originally appeared.
The resultant comics were bagged randomly in sets of three and sold in drugstores, toy stores, and five-and-dime shops, thereby bypassing the Comics Code.
IW published over three hundred issues of various titles ranging from Algie to Ziggy Pig, including The Spirit, Plastic Man, The Avenger, Doll Man, and Space Detective.
This story's pedigree is near-impossible to verify.
It's obviously intended for a book called Atlas Comics (though for which publisher is unknown), and the character's origin was (equally-obviously) based on the Charles Atlas method of using isometric exercises to improve the body.
Perhaps it was done as a potential licensed property which wasn't approved?
And, should we classify it as a Golden Age (when it was created) or Silver Age (when it was finally published) tale?
I'm listing it as both until new information is unearthed...
Since this was the only issue published, we, unlike Atlas, will never learn all the Secrets  of Super-Strength.

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