Monday, July 21, 2014

Marvel Mondays: The Captains of Energy

No two figures are as prominent on Earth-Four and Earth-Shazam as the Captains, Atom and Marvel. Each our dynamos of power, the pinnacle of human perfection, the guardians of the greater good. And also partial to the similar color scheme in their speedos.

Captain Marvel is really Billy Batson, a young lad transformed by lighting which he calls upon from ancient Shazam to grant him vast powers unmatched by his peers. Captain Atom is Captain Nathaniel Adams, a soldier who during a mishap in a launched rocket finds him body atomized and transformed into a human nuclear furnace. Each fly, have superhuman strength and durability, and can call upon tremendous energy to transform themselves from mere men to mighty mortals!

Both men are the recognized leaders of their worlds premier heroic teams, the Squadron of Justice and Sentinels of Justice! Alongside their skirt-clad gal pals, goggle-clad aviators and fellow red-and-yellow spandex studs, they champion the cause of justice. While Atom changed to a red, white and blue suit latter in his career, Marvel remained in his familiar duds.

In 1954, aspiring comic book publisher Charlton purchased the rights to several prominent characters from the expiring Fawcett Comics, such as Ibis, Golden Arrow and Lance O'Casey. In 1980 and 1985, DC Comics purchase Fawcett's Marvel Family then Charlton's Action Heroes, and the two were linked once more, now on parallel Earths, Four and Shazam.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fawcett Fridays: Goggled Gadgeteers

Another obvious parallel between Earth-S and Earth-Four wherein the Fawcett and Charlton characters resided were this pair of goggle-clad gadget-making geniuses. Not intent to rest on their considerable financial success, Alan Armstrong as a Virginian sportsman/weapons-maker and Ted Kord as a robotics scientist, they decided to do more. As Spy Smasher and Blue Beetle, respectively, they attempted to assert some order in a chaotic world. And wearing a brilliant flue and gorgeous green they stood out from the pack.

Each knew that they needed an edge, beyond their inherent athletic ability and acrobatic agility. So these two built amazing air/sea crafts unmatched by their peers in the superhero set. Spy Smasher's Gyro-Sub was part-airplane, part-auto gyro, part-submarine/speedboat. While Blue Beetle's Bug was either an air or sea vehicle, it had remarkable auto-pilot programming designed by Kord.

One other point of similarity was that both genius good guys were chased by the law. In the Smasher's case, it was due to brainwashing inflicted upon him by arch-foe the Mask turning him into a foreign spy, until Captain Marvel finally shook the influence off his future ally. For the Beetle, it was due to his association in his civilian identity with Dan Garrett aka the original Blue Beetle, who disappeared and was presumed murders by Kord (he was but not by Ted, rather by his uncle Jarvis Kord). After vindicating themselves, they resumed their careers.

In 1954, aspiring comic book publisher Charlton purchased the rights to several prominent characters from the expiring Fawcett Comics, such as Ibis, Golden Arrow and Lance O'Casey. In 1980 and 1985, DC Comics purchase Fawcett's Marvel Family then Charlton's Action Heroes, and the two were linked once more, now on parallel Earths, Four and Shazam.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

World's Wickedest Wednesdays: Bad Bugs

Mister Mind had a long and storied golden age career as the mysterious progenitor for the insidious Monster Society of Evil, most of the while being an ominous voice behind the scenes. Until confronted by his most frequent foe, Captain Marvel. Revealed to be nothing more than an alien worm, possessed of tremendous mental abilities and genius level ingenuity, Mind was electrocuted for his various crimes against humanity. Or was he?

Praying Mantis wasn't always that green, or that preying. He was Hunter Mann, a foul scientist plagued with green skin from his excessive use of chlorophyll, obsessed with turning his creations against his fellow man. Turning into a human insect himself, his first foray against the silver age Blue Beetle didn't go quite well. But was he truly finished or simply biding his time until another more opportune occasion?

In fact, Mantis returned once more but fell to his death when the Beetle slayed the rogue's flying insecti-steed. No more Mantis!
Mr. Worm returned in the modern day, revived from his state of hibernation which his species was prone to when exposed to adverse conditions. Alas for him, his latter day ventures into world domination were equally unsuccessful, even on the one occasion when he devised an artificial body of the Invincible Man to house his evil mind. Whether bugs or baddies, this pair lacked the winning touch to complement their massive intellect and huge egos.

In 1954, aspiring comic book publisher Charlton purchased the rights to several prominent characters from the expiring Fawcett Comics, such as Ibis, Golden Arrow and Lance O'Casey. In 1980 and 1985, DC Comics purchase Fawcett's Marvel Family then Charlton's Action Heroes, and the two were linked once more, now on parallel Earths, Four and Shazam.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Team-Up Tuesdays: Tremendous Trios Triumph!

The Lieutenant Marvels were an early edition to the Captain Marvel mythos, in fact they predated the more famous addition of Captain Marvel Junior by only a few months. Three young men also named Billy Batson, one from the Brooklyn, one from the west and one from the south, met their more famous contemporary Billy Batson the radio host. During a confrontation with Doctor Sivana, the quartet of Billy's learned that they all possessed the powers of the original Marvel, only the three had to call upon such powers in unison. Not to easy to get three distant Billies together given their geographic distances and all.

We previously considered the Sensation Sentinels (of Justice) early this past year. Three young musicians are bequeathed devices by a dying Russian scientist with the intent of protecting humanity. As Helio, Mentalia and Brute. Instead of a Tall, Fat, and Hill version, we have the dashing leader, the beautiful blonde and the muscular guy. All standard stereotypical fair for comics of those times.

While the Sentinels had strength, flight and mind-over-matter abilities dolled out between the three, the Lieutenants had strength, flight, etc granted to each one. Neither team was very enduring, having but a handful of adventures. While the Sentinels were originally known by their folk music handle of the Protesters, the Lieutenants went by the handle of the Squadron of Justice. Turns out, other teams of heroes would borrow those names later

Monday, July 14, 2014

Marvel Mondays: Energetic Egyptians

These two cats from the way back are distinct parallels for a number of reasons. Both Black Adam and Blue Beetle were tied to ancient Egypt, the former being its protector in centuries bygone before becoming its dictator, the latter being an archaeologist who unearthed its greatest secret and became a guardian of good himself. Each met a tragic end to their ignoble careers, despite what the two old men... Shazam and Pharoah... had expected of them when electing them their candidates of courage. And still they returned...

Teth Adam allowed greed to corrupt him, while Dan Garrett allowed overconfidence to overtake him. Each faced their own mortality and yet were revived in manners only left to comic books through pseudo-science and the like. While Dan proved the inspiration for another to take his name and his place, Adam became the perpetual thorn in the side of his arch-rival Captain Marvel. With but a handful of appearances for each, both men still found ways to leave their mark.

Both possessed vast powers by simply calling out to their mentors, such as flight, superstrength, invulnerability, etc. While Dan continued his career as an archeologist, Adam abandoned his occupation as... royal court lackey? Nevertheless, their greatest acclaim was that the were the forerunners for a new generation of superheroes that would take what they started to greater heights.

In 1954, aspiring comic book publisher Charlton purchased the rights to several prominent characters from the expiring Fawcett Comics, such as Ibis, Golden Arrow and Lance O'Casey. In 1980 and 1985, DC Comics purchase Fawcett's Marvel Family then Charlton's Action Heroes, and the two were linked once more, now on parallel Earths, Four and Shazam.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Fawcett Fridays: Scarlet-and-Gold Saviors

As the world was heading once more into a war that would grip the globe, a plethora of powerless protectors championed the cause of the everyman. Foremost among them were Mister Scarlet, a costumed hero who in his day-to-day life was district attorney Brian Butler. Tired of the rampant crime going unchecked in his burg, he donned a red and yellow costume, using his natural acrobatic prowess to combat the criminal element. After succeeding in his righteous cause, he found that there were no more criminals for him to prosecute. Left unemployed as the public at large felt Butler was lazy, he persisted in his double identity while adopting a ward named Pinky and supported financially by secretary Miss Wade.

Rip Jagger was a mere sergeant on a southern Pacific island when he encountered a band of Asian freedom fighters fighting against their Japanese occupiers. Once Rip completed his training and adopted the alias of Judomaster, he rejoined the armed forces and proved a valuable double agent while gaining a young lad named Tiger against the Axis.

Similarities? Definite love of red and yellow... not very common among the superhero set. Physically adept heroes equipped with various small weaponry. Mentors to junior partners. And during the latter 1940's, each was pulled from their own time and awoke in a modern age decades later without having aged a day, standing alongside their fellow mystery men.

In 1954, aspiring comic book publisher Charlton purchased the rights to several prominent characters from the expiring Fawcett Comics, such as Ibis, Golden Arrow and Lance O'Casey. In 1980 and 1985, DC Comics purchase Fawcett's Marvel Family then Charlton's Action Heroes, and the two were linked once more, now on parallel Earths, Four and Shazam.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

World's Wickedest Wednesdays: Devious Docs

Dual demented docs do doggedly devilish deeds! Say that five times fast! Or better yet, have the bad Doctors... Sivana and Spectro... of adjacent Earths S and 4 say that via their cloned proxies. Each of the good Captains... Marvel and Atom... faced off against these evil geniuses more than once. And on one occasion, against several duplicates of themselves. Thankfully, their heroic opposite numbers still proved superior!

Doctor Thaddeus Bogus Sivana was once an aspiring physicist who invented various revolutionary devices for the benefit of mankind. And yet, secular authorities scoffed at him, and as a result Sivana swore revenge against his fellow man. From that point forward, upon meeting the World's Mightiest Mortal, Sivana was Captain Marvel's most persistent and deadly foe. In fact, on on occasion he trapped the hero and his allies in suspendium. Alas, the mad mental menace and his family was also captured and held in stasis along with the heroic Marvels in suspended animation for decades. Even after his revival, Sivana never won except once when his inventions were actually acclaimed to the point where he received a Nobel Peace Prize when Marvel used them to aid mankind... much to Sivana's chagrine!

Doctor Spectro also wanted to use his colored light technology for the medical benefits of mankind. However, once he was attacked by a gang of opportunistic hoods and his beam was reflected back on himself, Spectro turned evil and gained vast powers which he used against Captain Atom on more than one occasion... including when a miniature malicious mob of his clones attached the Atomic Avenger intent on reassembling Spectro into one man once more. Yet a good persona existed in the group of Docs, who attempted to exert control over the reconstituted Spectro later.

n 1954, aspiring comic book publisher Charlton purchased the rights to several prominent characters from the expiring Fawcett Comics, such as Ibis, Golden Arrow and Lance O'Casey. In 1980 and 1985, DC Comics purchase Fawcett's Marvel Family then Charlton's Action Heroes, and the two were linked once more, now on parallel Earths, Four and Shazam.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Team-Up Tuesdays: Malevolent Mobsters

While DC Comics pioneered the concept of a superhero team of diverse heroes from various comic books assembling together to tackle a mutual threat, the same could be said for Fawcett Comic's treatment of villains. As Captain Marvel developed quite an extensive gallery of rogues on Earth-S, it was only a matter of time before a certain wicked worm recruited most of them to try defeating their common foe.

However, after several issues throughout a historic comic serial, Cap himself defeated the whole lot of them. They would resurface again decades later, most preserved in their youthful 1940's forms through various means. Yet despite new schemes and modern technology, this assemblage of evil were still unable to wrest control of Earth -S away from the forces of good!

Over on Earth-Four, a millionaire businessman named Jonathan Barrington Collingsworth Junior decided one day that the world was not enough (hmmmm, an interesting name for a movie, perhaps?) So he adopted the alias of the Manipulator to live up to the infamous dictators of old. So he channeled his inner Doc Doom and found himself a fantastic four to plague his existence!

Somehow, amazingly, he pulls off what no one else was able to accomplish through the decades of the Action-Heroes' publishing existence. Make them all play nice and in the same in motivate them to join together against a common foe. Okay, Cap Atom and Nightshade had a thing going, and Blue Beetle and Question got together once formally and prior to that informally (Quest was in his civvies on that occasion). Still this was quite an accomplishment, only not the kind the Manipulator would be proud of. Thankfully, while his army of Fiery-IcerIronarm,and the Madmen kinda fell flat against our Sentinels, Jr. had enlisted a henchman who seriously upgraded since his last appearance:

And that was that, as both masterminds slunk back into the depths of comic book limbo. And aren't we thankful that we don't have to relive *that* painful experience again? Blue Beetle sure is! Ouch.

In the next-door neighbor universe of Earth-Four, the supervillains there didn't always play that nice together. In fact, on only one occasion did a significant number of them join together to lock horns with the Sentinels of Justice (although they were lesser lights Banshee, Fiery-Icer, Iron-Arms and the Madmen led by newby the Manipulator).

Monday, July 7, 2014

Marvel Mondays: Glorious Gal-Pals

Every truly successful superhero has a female partner riding his coattails, and hopefully one day stands out on her own as a marketable character. A case study in whether or not this works, and how very often it doesn't, is our skirt-clad sisters of scintillating superheroism.

Mary Marvel was the third (okay actually the sixth if you count three runners-up to her brother's title) of the Marvel Family to debut in the early 1940's. Mary Blomfield, the long lost twin sister of Billy Batson, gained powers like her brother beyond those of mortal men. Soon she was featured in her own titles as well as alongside her new extended family.

Nightshade, whom we've already considered, was Eve Eden a debutante daughter of a U.S. Senator.  However she secretly had a family connection like Mary that granted her immense powers, only hers originated from a mother from another dimension. Like Mary, Eve was separated from a brother, Larry, as he had been trapped in that world when she and her mother escaped. It is unknown if Eve ever reunited with her brother from Earth-Four.

Instead of Mary power to transform into a flying invulnerable version of herself, Nightshade's differed in that she transformed into a shadow that transported from the third dimension. In each case, the gal was rendered immune to physical attack while in that form. And each provided a valuable skill set to aid their Captain comrades, that being Captain Marvel and Captain Atom. While the Marvels had a long documented partnership, Nightshade and Cap only had a few recorded cases together. And rather than brotherly affection like Billy, Captain Adam had something more in mind when he looked at Ms. Eden.

In 1954, aspiring comic book publisher Charlton purchased the rights to several prominent characters from the expiring Fawcett Comics, such as Ibis, Golden Arrow and Lance O'Casey. In 1980 and 1985, DC Comics purchase Fawcett's Marvel Family then Charlton's Action Heroes, and the two were linked once more, now on parallel Earths, Four and Shazam.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Fawcett Fridays: Number One with a Bullet

Fawcett Comics tried out various formulas based on their already successful franchise of Captain Marvel. Perhaps the second most prolific one was Bulletman, in actuality police scientist Jim Barr. Attempting to rectify his meager physique which genetics bestowed on him and be the officer his father dreamt him of one day becoming, Jim discovered a chemical formula that grew both his physical and mental stature! Deciding to keep this a secret, wearing oversized lab coats, he displayed his new found abilities along with the discovery of an anti-gravity projectile cap to become Bulletman!

Over at Fox Feature Syndicated they had a winner in the form of police officer Dan Garret. Transformed by the miracle vitamin 2-X into a superstrong powerhouse thanks to local pharmacist Dr. Franz, Garret donned a chainmail costume and became the Blue Beetle. Defeating criminals in a manner unavailable to him as a mere beat cop, Garret made a reputation for himself and curried the attaction of crime reporter Joan Mason of the Daily Blade, both in and out of his super-suit. His career lasted into the late 1940's, was briefly revived in the 1950's and then disappeared from the scene. Another would take his place, and a third!

As the years developed, Blue Beetle somehow acquired the power to fly...or at least zip through air effortlessly... much like Bulletman. And like the Beetle, Bulletman gained a partner in life who stole his heart, Susan Barr, who became Bulletgirl. While Beetle never gave his vitamin to Joan, he did bequeath it and a costume to sidekick Sparky for a brief period. Bulletman also had an occasional sidekick in Bulletboy, a local youth who was his biggest fan. And then, of course, there was Bulletdog! While Blue Beetle was revived in the 21st century with memories of his 1940's and 1960's incarnations, Bulletman awoke from his Suspendium sleep along with his wife and the Marvel Family in the 1970's. Resuming his career briefly, he eventually reverted to the restful slumber of civilian life and marital bliss, not to be seen again after one final outing with Captain and Mary Marvel in the late 70's.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Team-Up Tuesdays: The "S" Teams of Justice

When you think superheroes you think super-teams, which help to define the individual members in the context of their fellow teammates. While there are more prominent teams in the cosmos, for our purposes here today we center on two with significant parallels.

The Squadron of Justice from Earth-S was recruited by Shazam when he and his Marvel Family were left powerless by ancient adversary King Kull. Formed out of sheer necessity, some of these previously joined forces in another team during the 1940's known as the Crime Crusaders Club. Surviving into the modern day thanks to the bumbling machinations of Doctor Sivana, these still youthful heroes joined forces to stem the tide of Kull's villainous hordes on three Earths including their own Earth-S. And then they faded back into retirement aside from scant appearances thereafter.

Remarkably, there was an earlier
Squadron of Justice that consisted of Captain Marvel and his three Lieutenant Marvels of Fat Marvel, Hill Marvel and Tall Marvel that operated during the 1940's. And the progenitor of the modern incarnation of the Squadron was Captain Marvel Junior's known as the Crime Crusaders Club. However, that Club was more of a meeting of Junior, Minute Man, Bulletman and Bulletgirl solely for the purpose of recounting their latest cases and occasionally team up to handle social issues rather than criminal threats.

The Sentinels of Justice on Earth-Four formed also on one occasion, although there was a hint during their first appearance that they previously met up, and battled a crime lords super-armored forces to save criticial solar technology. The next appearance of this team was during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, when their initial membership of four expanded to included three more drawn towards the presence of heroes arriving from two other Earths, the same two from whom the Squadron met earlier!

The Squadron's membership constituted Ibac, Spy Smasher, Bulletman and Bulletgirl, Mister Scarlet and Pinky, as well as allies Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Junior (and, of course, the team's founder Mercury who brought them all together under Shazam's suggestion). The Sentinels membership originally comprised Captain Atom, Nightshade, Blue Beetle and the Question with later allies Peacemaker, Thunderbolt and a time lost Judomaster joining forces with them.

Alas, the history of each was fleeting at best. But the potential for both was sky high!

In 1954, aspiring comic book publisher Charlton purchased the rights to several prominent characters from the expiring Fawcett Comics, such as Ibis, Golden Arrow and Lance O'Casey. In 1980 and 1985, DC Comics purchase Fawcett's Marvel Family then Charlton's Action Heroes, and the two were linked once more, now on parallel Earths, Four and Shazam.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Twice-Told-Tales: Majestic Multiverse Myths

The Multiverse holds various Twice-Told-Tales, some chronicled, many left to the imagination. And all tied in to the nature of the cosmos in the DC Universe. This is only natural considering that they all originated from the Earth-One cosmos, when the Malthusian known as Krona unleashed cosmic forces while attempting to view the dawn of creation. As a result, his universe was cloned an infinite number of times to become with countless positive matter and one Anti-Matter Universe of Qward. Undoubtedly the main universe that mirror Krona's own was Earth-Two which seemed to be twenty years ahead of Earth-One due to exhibiting a slower vibratory rate. This may be due to the fact that Earth-One existed for untold eons prior to the other universes, and as such this is a way for all universes to stay in sync.

From Earth-One's universe was spawned the imperfect clones that would become the Bizarro race migrated to a world that Superman remodeled into a square planet at its inhabitants' decree. Several years after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, when the Multiverse was transformed into a single matter and anti-matter universe, another Crisis reignited the Multiverse due to the machinations of Alex Luthor from Earth-Three. Not only was his world recreated, but so was Earth-Zero which mirror the Bizarro Earth of Htrae, alluding to the possibility that the planet which the Bizarros migrated to was actually not in their own universe but a parallel one, accessed by a wormhole Superman used when he first ventured there. This world had a twisted nature, wherein the Bizarro League mirrored the evil sensibilities of the Lawless League from Earth-A and that of Earth-Three with its Crime Syndicate, with sinister counterparts of superheroes.

Then there were the seemingly peripheral planets that didn't seem to resemble Earth-One's Justice League of America and Earth-Two's Justice Society of America, yet had heroes of equal measure. There was, for example, Earth-S that like Earth-Two debuted superheroes in the golden age of the 1940's, and Earth-Four that for the most part had their superhero explosion in the modern age like Earth-One. Then there was the initially hero-less worlds such as Earth-Prime and Earth-X, although they eventually would have their own versions of costumed crusaders. And, lest we forget, just as their was a heroic Justice Alliance of America on Earth-D there was also a Freedom Brigade on Earth-Twelve that were also erstwhile imitators of the League and Society that were more well known. This doesn't even include Earth-666 where Marvel's mightiest reign, nor Earth-MLJ that are published elsewhere....

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Bizarre Baddies - Creepy Clones - Demented Duplicates

One of the core staples of comics is the opposite number or evil twin. In the late 1950's DC Comics hit upon this theme and developed an entire planet of these type of creatures with a catch, they were the imperfect duplicates of established characters. Only this wasn't a new concept, it was already explored previously and would be once more years later, as we shall see.

On Earth-One, Professor Dalton experimented on a duplicator ray which created a distorted doppleganger of Superboy, which as soon destroyed. Years later, Lex Luthor recreated this device and spawned the pale jagged-skinned Bizarro, and from this template derived a whole civilization. Originally mirrored after this Bizarro Superman #1 and his mate Bizarro Lois Lane #1, after creating several of their own duplicates the original decided to build his own copies of some of Superman's closest friends and bitterest foes to add spice to life on Htrae. Htrae was a square shaped world otherwise resembling Earth which Superman created as an act of penance on one occasion. He even went so far as to create a Bizarro Justice League with a Batman, Hawkman, Aquaman, Flash aka "Hero", and Yellow Lantern... as well as some of Superman's greatest enemies including Lex Luthor and the Joker.

Around the same period of time, the Johnny Thunder of Earth-Two journeyed to Earth-One to meet his counterpart, who turned out to be a crook. Exploiting the situation, evil Johnny knocked out his hapless twin and took control of his Thunderbolt. Ordering him to go back in time and change history, removing the Justice League of America, the Thunderbolt instead made a new world known as Earth-A.

This alternate timeline was linked to Earth-Two, since its creator Thunderbolt originated from that universe and the laws of Earth-One prevented changing history unlike those on Earth-Two. Also, it was only accessible from Earth-Two, not Earth-One or any other parallel planet, was merely a pocket dimension of it not unlike what the Time Trapper created in the post-Crisis universe for his Superboy's world.

Earth-A had duplicates of all of its original template's citizen except the Leaguers. And it was from the latter world that the Justice Society, while visiting what they thought was Earth-One ended up in conflict with a different Thunder then they'd known for years. When the Society members Atom, Flash, Green Lantern, Doctor Fate, Mister Terrific and Hawkman adopted the alter egos of the League's Atom, Flash, Green Lantern, Superman, Batman and Martian Manhunter... Johnny knew he needed super-pawns.

Devising the Lawless League, by having Thunderbolt once more go back in time and transform temporal duplicates of his gang into a criminal counterpart to the original League, he sent them against the Society. These were quickly vanquished by the older heroes, despite the fact that Race Morrison, Barney Judson, Eddie Orson, Ripper Jones, Bill Gore and Monk Loomis possessed these abilities for years.

The Bizarro Justice League was no more successful, with its members proving perpetually inept and loving every minute of it given their warped nature. Meanwhile, the evil Johnny's last attempt at defeating the Society on this occasion using a trio of mutated monsters known as Medusa-Man, Repello-Man and Absorbo-Man also met with failure. These three mirrored Earth-One's Abnegazar, Rath and Ghast which plagued the Justice League and Justice Society on occasion. Eventually, the wayward Johnny surrendered and Earth-A ceased to exist as Thunderbolt withdrew his energies that had kept it going for untold years. Similarly, not to many years later, Mr. Mxyzptlk returned to Earth-One's universe merged with the entity known as Aethyr, and the two proceeded to devastate Htrae while destroying all Bizarros as well.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Twice-Told-Tales: The Forgotten...and the Funny...Faces in the Crowd

Several once prominent adventurers found the need to assemble in order to overturn the malevolent machinations of Vandal Savage. Assisting Superman in protecting Earth-One from Savage, these heroes formed the core of the team known in the press as the Forgotten Heroes.

Consisting of Cave Carson the subterranean explorer, Congo Bill the explorer and his Congorilla alter ego, Rip Hunter the Time Master, Rick Carson the military mastermind, Dolphin the mystery maiden of the seas, and Animal Man... they were led by the enigmatic Immortal Man. Really an old enemy of Vandal when both fought one another through the centuries, Immortal Man realized that is new assemblage of heroes on his adopted world may have more successes in the future. Little did they know that their evil counterpart, Forgotten Villains, would cause them more problems then they ever anticipated.

Enchantress has gathered her crew of cronies together in order to conquer the entire universe under a sinister triad of evil headed by herself, Kraknow and a living planet named Yggardis. When Atom-Master realized he, Poseidon and the Hunter had been duped, he quickly switched sides and usurped control of Ultivac in order to defeat his former teammates. This allowed the Heroes to swoop in for the victory after traveling through time and space, and in the course of action meeting other heroic comrades patrolling space ways in their own ways.

The Forgotten Villains had themselves fallen out of the view of the public eye, and yet still dreamed of being a persistent threat to all. And on Savage and his foe's home world, there were a group of heroes and villains there that also assembled to battle one another with Superman seemingly caught in the middle. As had been the case with Atom-Master who joined the Forgotten Villains, his twin on Earth-Two known only as Funny Face created his fellow felons from scratch, To combat this threat, Superman and Lois Lane recruited a team of heroes who battled these crooks, in the comic strips that came to life using Funny Face's Bio-Ray projector! Much like the Bizarro projector, the creatures spawned were not living yet had the motivation and drive of those whom they were designed to imitate. Who were these pseudo men?

Well on the side of evil guided by Funny Face was Machine-Gun Mike the gangster, Torgo the bald barbarian giant, the wild west crook known as the Black Rider, the green alien named Goola, and the cross-dresser crook aka the Viper. In order to defeat them, their rivals from the funny pages were created, thus allowing Detective Craig, Solitary Rider, Prince Peril, Streak Dugan and Happy Daze respectively. This quintet of justice overpowered their rivals, while Superman defeated Funny Face. Something similar, though not exact, occurred when Ultivac, Kraklow, Mister Poseidon, the Faceless Hunter of Saturn, and the Enchantress alongside Atom-Master were beaten by the Forgotten Heroes. 

Yes, both tyranical teams had weapon wielding inhuman entities in Ultivac and Mike, 18th century madmen Kraklow and the Rider, size-changing baldies Poseidon and Torgo, giant bullies in the Faceless Hunter and Funny Face's clone, and lethal "ladies" Enchantress and the Viper. Add to that Space Cabby, Chris KL-99, Halk, and Jero aiding Immortal Man and Flagg's team. In similar fashion, Solitary Rider, Streak Dugan and arch-foe Goola, Happy Daze, Prince Peril and  Detective Craig debuted on Earth-Two for this sole adventure. Streak Dugan was a 20th century stand-in for Lyle from the Knights of the Galaxy as were ... Prince Peril was a representation of one of Earth-Two's earlier Immortal Men... Happy Daze, Solitary Rider and Detective Craig mirrored earlier long lost adventurers in Adventure and Detective Comics. All forgotten... until now!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Twice-Told-Tales: Invaders from Another Universe Redux

Stops us if you've heard this before. So there is an invasion force that arrives from another universe, gleaming in golden armor, seeking to plunder Earth of its resources and gain dominance over those whom they view as inferior. This scenario actually played out twice, on Earths One and Two. Here's how it played out.

The Dronndarians enlisted the aid of Two-Face to purchased pure energy from them, which was a scam in order to siphon deadly energies from their native universe into Earth-One's realm in order to save their world and all they knew. Inhabiting the statutes of Napoleon, Julius Caesar and Benjamin Franklin, the trio from Dronndaria thought a greedy criminal like Two-Face would jump at the chance of such power. However, the felon realized the threat this posed to his world and sought the help of the Justice League of America. Side-by-side, this unlikely alliance was able to overturn the nefarious scheme, thereby returning to their native universe only to transform into beings of pure energy as they were actually supposed to become.

On another dimensional plane decades prior, Earth-Two was being invaded by gold plated men disguised as circus performers that were in fact raiding that world of its precious iron. Investigating a series of weird crimes by alleged metallic men following a tip by a reporter of the Boston Globe named Benson, the Justice Society of America were stunned to learn that the told plating was the natural skin of the thieves. Confronting their leader Aurikon and his minions, the Society were soon overpowered. Seeing the means of the Golden Men's escape, the Society decided to follow them.

When they awoke, they found themselves on what seemed to be a caterpillar shaped ride that turned out to be a dimensional transport device, which brought them to the Golden Universe that their adversaries originated from, known as Xenca.

As to the Justice League, after their victory versus the Dronndarians it turns out that their former foes' secret allies were the Weaponers of Qward from the Anti-Matter Universe, old adversaries of the Green Lantern and his Guardian seers. Exploiting the situation while enlisting the help of Two-Face, who felt betrayed when the League repaid his help by returning him to Arkham Asylum. They may regret that decision.

Sneaking up on Lantern and then recruiting Two-Face, which this time he accepts out of vengeance towards the League, the Thunderers of Qward and their masters stealthily utilize their new ally to implant devices on each Leaguer that confronts a Qwarding, thus making them pawns in a deadly game. The goal, to destroy the positive matter universe that the Anti-Matter Weaponers view as their chief rival, is still thwarted when the League get wise to this ploy and defeat the golden goons. And for all his troubles, Two-Face was returned to the Asylum.

And to finish up the tale of the Society in the Golden Universe, we pick up when the Society are revived by that world's queen Myrla and her men, after which they quickly inform her of her half-brother Aurikon's thefts. Turns out that the iron from Earth-Two is needed in order to power large robots that have lied dormant during 1000 years of peaceful relations on Xenca. Craving power, Aurikon and his forces felt this was the means by which they could seize control of their world, perhaps even their entire universe. Splitting off into teams, the Society like their League counterparts are quickly able to deduce their enemies' plans and quickly overturn them.  After defeated Aurikon and his forces, the team returns to their native universe.

While Qward had a dimensional access point to Earth-One, apparently Xenca had something similar with Earth-Two. And just as Qward's Anti-Matter Universe was in direct opposition, due to the laws of physics, to that of the positive matter universes... so to was the Golden Universe in direct opposition to the nature of the carbon-based universes. However. while Qward would continue to grow into being a cesspool of despotism, Xenca would maintain its known attribute as a beacon of civil society.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Shark and the Tiger: Mental Madmen or Mutated Monsters?

Radioactive energy from an atomic pile mutated a nearby tiger shark into a humanoid creature possessing tremendous psionic powers and genius level intelligence. Seeking out prey worthy of his attention to sooth his bestial nature, he found such in Earth-One's Green Lantern, who was allegedly a man without fear. Several times these two battled, and each time the Lantern defeated his adversary and returned him to his natural self. On one occasion, the Shark battled Superman as well as encountered the combined Justice League of America.

His counterpart was of a different nature altogether yet manifesting similar powers and an appetite for evil.The Flying Tiger initially was a criminal identity devised by Earth-Two's Superman in order to ferret out the supplier of Kryptonite in Metropolis, which turned out to be the mysterious Mister K aka the Tycoon of Crime. Once defeating him, the Tiger retired his criminal career, although another would take his place. When his old adversary Funny Face used his bio-ray device on an illustration of the felon, the Flying Tiger came to psuedo-life and began to plunder the city... attracting the attention of the Man of Steel. Eventually, Superman was able to defeat the Tiger when he learned that his duplicate also has a weakness to Kryptonite.

Both the Shark and the Tiger had the ability to fly and levitate objects as well as a telepathic homing sense and tremendous strength along with an aptitude to grow to enormous sizes. While the Shark later took the Atlantean alias of Karshon in order to usurp rulership of Atlantis from Aquaman, the King of the Sea eventually vanquished his foe in quick measure. Meanwhile, a mysterious man-faced shark plagued Aquaman's counterpart, which that hero determined may have been a mutated version of the crook known as Shark Wilson. These would've been the real life version of Earth-One's Shark, while Flying Tiger merely assumed the superhuman role of the mutated version of the corrupt creature.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Dragon and the Sword: Tales of the Red-and-Yellow Crusaders

Richard Dragon started out as a two-bit hoodlum, while Red McGraw was a marine sergeant. Eventually, Dragon stole from the wrong victim, O-Sensei of Japan, and soon became the disciple to the martial arts master... thus turning his life around to the side of good. McGraw was caught in Japan-occupied China, helping the natives to liberate their land from their foreign oppressors during World War II.

In fact, Richard as the "Kung-Fu Figher" of Earth-One, alongside his fellow student and best friend Ben Turner, enlisted in the agency known as G.O.O.D. to try to bring justice the world over. Red as the Earth-Two hero known as the Dragon worked alongside several locals whom he inspired, while striking terror in those whom he opposed.

After Dragon discovered that the leader of G.O.O.D., Barney Ling, was in fact a criminal mastermind... and after Turner was brainwashed into becoming the sinister Bronze Tiger... Richard retired after one encounter with Earth-One's Batman. As for the other Dragon, McGraw seemingly disappeared after only a few adventures, perhaps finding the odds were to overwhelming and either retreated or perished during the fevered pitch of wartime.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Another Take on the Green Lantern... and Sinestro... Corps!

The Green Lantern Corps, as previously mentioned, found a structural counterpart in Earth-Two's universe in Chang's Green Dragon Tong which had existed for untold ages with an unnumbered membership, as had the Guardians' Corps in Earth-One's realm. This Tong, craving the enigmatic emerald energies from the meteorite derived from the powerful Starheart, only ever got close enough to see their master Chang bathed in its life-extending light. Nevertheless, they had not come equipped with power rings and power batteries, as the source of Earth-Two's sole Green Lantern's  was a Green Flame of Life selecting only one agent to enlist. Hence, it was only when Sinestro crossed over from his home universe and transformed his recruits into clones for himself that a full fledged counter-measure on Earth-Two had been established, the "Evil Green Lanterns" or Sinestro Corps. Now, in addition to Alan Scott, who for decades was the sole ring-bearer of Earth-Two, he would be joined by several Sinestros and still later by his children Jade and Obsidian. Not to mention others such as Joe Morgan and Chang who had utilized the same powers, only for evil like this new insidious Corps invading Alan's world. 

While this Corps, and their power rings, were short lived... they remained on Earth-Two presumably prisoners of Korugar-Two. Although they were clones similar to those of Paul Kirk, aka Manhunter while on Earth-One, these men nevertheless filled the void of a Corps in this parallel universe. These select individuals in addition to the Green Dragon Tong created a composite counterpart to the Guardian's alien armada of Emerald Crusaders in a realm where no such force prior to this had existed.

As for the counterparts of some of the Corps members, and others using their power, here is a partial list:

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Batman's Sensational Sidekicks...Not Grayson, the Other Ones!

Dick Grayson will always be linked with Batman as the Dark Knight's sidekick, but although this was his first and most well known protegee, it wasn't the last one. On Earth-One, another Robin aka Jason Todd debuted shortly after his predecessor retired the identity, and on Earth-Two it was Wingman who stood side-by-side with the Caped Crusader when that world's Grayson was temporarily injured and needed a replacement.

Jason was the son of Joseph and Trini Todd, acrobats for the Hill Circus who volunteered to aid Batman in drawing out criminal Killer Croc who had been extorting their employer. Instead, the couple perished and their son swore vengeance, leading to Bruce Wayne adopting Jason in order the channel his frustration in order to transform him into a young man whom his parents' would've been proud of. Eventually, Dick gave up the identity of Robin as he assumed the new role as Nightwing, and passed on his costume and blessing to Jason to become the newest Boy Wonder. Batman readily accepted his assistance.

On Earth-Two, an unnamed man known publicly as the caped crusader Wingman. Inspired by Batman's successful career, Wingman joined the Dark Knight on several cases over a month's worth of time in Gotham City in order to train under the more experience mystery man. Since Robin would be laid up in a cast for six weeks while recovering from an injury, Wingman took advantage of this opportunity to acquire the needed edge to become an experienced superhero under the tutelage of Batman. This caused a rivalry between Wingman and Robin, until the Boy Wonder finally discovered that Wingman would be returning to his native home in northern Europe to engage in a solo career henceforth.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Metamorphic Masterminds Masterfully Match Malevolent Madmen

Previously we had considered the two Martian Manhunters and the two Robotmen of Earths One and Two. J'onn J'onzz and Roh Kar were indeed the preeminent protectors of the fourth planet from the sun who came to their respective Earths to defeat fellow Martians who invaded their neighboring worlds. And Cliff Steel along with Robert Crane were adept adventurers who made the most of living their lives within robotic bodies after their human frames had perished due to tragedy. So why would we say that the careers of J'onn and Robert were parallel when each had his own unique counterpart of the other's world? As we shall see, it is due to mitigating circumstances that cause divergences on each Earth wherein key events caused ripple effects that effected other people, places and things in each reality. Such as our two featured players today.

While Cliff Steele had dozens of adventures alongside the Doom Patrol as one of its members, the same could be said for Robert Crane with his All-Star Squadron allies. And yet, Crane's alter ego Robotman had over one hundred and forty solo cases of his own during a span of some thirteen years before he mysteriously left Earth-Two. Similarly, while J'onn J'onzz had his own thirteen year career on Earth-One as the Martian Manhunter which covered over one hundred and forty solo tales before he too left his adopted home world, although his twin Roh Kar left Earth-Two after a single case alongside Batman and Robin. What gives? Well, for a sizable period of the past decade, Cliff Steel laid it in coma at sea following the end of his Patrol when he and his team were all left for dead by two of their enemies. As for Roh Kar, after defeating fellow Martian known as the Stranger, his mission was completed and he returned to his former career on Mars-Two. However, J'onn could not return to Mars-One as he had already been living in exile for years due to a conflict between his Green Martians and the rival White Martians, a conflict that never took place on Mars-Two. Cliff would eventually be revived, and undoubtedly Roh's career would have continued, but that is not who we are principally considered this day.

Meanwhile, J'onzz as first police detective John Jones and then later as the Martian Manhunter decided to assimilate into humanity and provide it protection with his bountiful supply of superpowers. Similarly, Crane under the assumed identity of crime investigator Paul Dennis and then Robotman likewise decided to use his new abilities to aid his fellow man even though he was no longer physically one of them. The Jones and Dennis aliases were simply a means for these two non-human heroes to feel like they were a part of Earth society rather than being the outcasts that their true appearances revealed. Still, each incurred enduring relationships with others, such as Jones partnership with police woman Diane Meade and Dennis' courtship with socialite Joan Carter. Neither of these couplings lasted as the two inhuman invaders realized that such a bonding would not work on various levels. In fact, for a time the pair's closest allies was J'onn's shape-changing friend Zook and Paul's robotic dog Robbie. Nevertheless, they proved among the most human of heroes in the depths of compassion and courage with which they showed.

Each possessed superstrength, the power of flight and extendable bodies, the ability to mask their appearance and greater perception than the normal man... among other attributes. And both manhunters had keen intellect that allowed them to create a variety of scientific marvels as well. While the Martian Manhunter of Earth-One eventually left to find and lead his fellow Martians in their new world after their own had been devastated, the Robotman of Earth-Two was convinced to journey to Earth-One to restart his career at which point soon after he was left in a coma in a mindshaft for two decades. Eventually, J'onn would return to Earth-One to rejoin his old team, the Justice League of America. And Paul would also return to Earth-Two and with his brain now implanted in his late colleague Chuck Grayson's preserved body aided the Justice Society of America in their time of need.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Fearless Phantom Females Face Fiends and Friends

Tinya Wazzo and Rose Psychic, two women from distinctly different eras as can be seen in their sense of hairstyle and style of clothing, were nevertheless counterparts cut from the same cloth. Tinya was from the 4th dimension of Bgztl wherein all the inhabitants had the ability to transform their bodies into energized forms enabling them to traverse dimensions with ease. Rose was born a normal girl until she was raised by individuals who trained her and a young man known as Richard to become heroes as adults. Chief among Rose's power was to also transform into a phantom and traverse space and time as was Tinya's, and like her she used her powers for the side of good.

Tinya as Phantom Girl quickly decided in her mid-teen years to become the superheroine known as Phantom Girl, and journeyed to Earth-One in order to join the Legion of Super-heroes in her native 30th century. As one of the first members, she served with distinction and even became a part of the Legion Espionage Squad which handled covert missions for the Legion. Tinya was able to meet Mon-El in the Phantom Zone prior to that hero joining her on the team after being cured of lead poisoning. Eventually, Wazzo developed feelings for another hero named Ultra Boy aka Jo Nah. This persisted even when she thought he was lost, but was instead in an interdimensional limbo.

As for Rose, she and her childhood friend Doctor Richard Occult persisted in having feelings though never publicly addressing them, and both worked side-by-side on various cases in the 1930s and 1940s. It was during this period that the All-Star Squadron was formed, which the Doctor joined but she did not, preferring to keep a low profile despite having similar powers to ones he himself manifested. What became of her and her colleague in the future was unknown, whereas Tinya as Phantom Woman eventually married Jo Nah and seemingly lived happily ever after.

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