7 Decmber 2019

Ultra Boy trains with Karate Kid to control his powers better. From Legion of Super-Heroes v.5 #6 (2005); art by Barry Kitson and Art Thibert.

Ultra Boy!

OK I'm forcing myself to start looking at the core Legionnaires instead of the also-rans -- starting with a popular Legionnaire, Ultra Boy! This character has appeared in every incarnation of the Legion and has sort of served as the more 'approachable' version of Superboy or Mon-El.

"Jo Nah was born on Rimbor, a world that lives in perpetual night and gang warfare is a way of life. His parents raised him with a strong moral foundation but he ultimately took to the streets. In his time as a gang member, Jo sharpened his body and mind, and was instilled with a certain moral code. … " READ MORE »

20 November 2019

Khunds are forced to work with the Legion: Firefist, Veilmist, Blood Claw and Flederwerb. From Legion of Super-Heroes v.4 #44 (1993); art by Stuart Immonen and Ron Boyd.

The Khund Legionnaires!

New update to a page covering the four Khunds who briefly served as Legionnaires: Blood Claw, Firefist, Flederweb and Veilmist.

"This page covers the four Khunds who briefly served as Legionnaires during the Glorith Reality. When Mordru attacked multiple worlds by raising the dead, his powers reached into both United Planets and Khundish space. The Khunds called a temporary truce with the U.P. and assigned four super-powered warriors to join the Legion and fight together. The relationship was uneasy, and two of the Khund Legionnaires were lost in this battle. … " READ MORE »

3 November 2019

Lana Lang, the Insect Queen!

Often, it was necessary to remove the knowledge of Superboy's secret identity from Lana's memory, after an adventure. From Adventure Comics #370 (1968); art by Curt Swan and Jack Abel.

As Insect Queen, Lana Lang was a reserve member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. That alter ego has a history all its own in the DC Universe, so read all about the super-powers of Lana Lang...

"Lana Lang was created just after Superboy was awarded his own comic book. The character appeared very frequently, so she was included in most aspects of the young hero’s life — including the Legion of Super-Heroes. In Lana’s first appearance, Superboy v.1 #10 (Sept./Oct.1950), the teenaged Lana was new to Smallville. Clark described her as “the girl who moved next door.” This was clearly ignored in later stories, which portrayed Lana and her family as lifelong neighbors of the Kents. … " READ MORE »

9 October 2019

The Legion of Substitute Heroes!

The Subs travel back in time and cross over to a parallel Earth, where they meet the Inferior Five. From The Brave and the Bold v.3 #35 (2007); art by Jesus Saiz.

The Legion Academy work led directly into the renovation of the info about the Subs! The two groups have some crossover, so it was only logical.

"The Legion of Substitute Heroes was formed by heroic teenagers who had been rejected for membership by the Legion of Super-Heroes. Each was given a reason for their rejection—'too uncontrollable' or 'not useful enough.' They banded together to prove their worth, regardless of the Legionnaires opinions …" READ MORE »

» SEE ALSO:

16 September 2019

Uncharted Cosmic!

Original art from Justice League of America #146 (1977); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.

There are so many pages on this site. A fair number of them are accessible via 'tables of contents' that sit in each section, and I do my best to cross link relevant pages.

But the ones below may slip through. They have fun stuff you might not have discovered:

8 September 2019

The Legion Academy!

Profile picture from Who's Who #13 (1986); art by Dan Jurgens and Greg Theakston.

Went down another rabbit hole here... It bothered me that I never really wrapped up some information from our last Legion series (the Paul Levitz stuff), which included a big story in Adventure Comics about the new Legion Academy students. A chunk of those new characters (Chemical Kid, Dragonwing, Comet Queen and Glorith) quickly went on to become Legion members in the New 52's Legion volume 7.

As with all things Legion, the story has many limbs! It led me back into a lot of volume 4 (Five Years Later) material, in which the Legion Academy morphed into the United Planets Militia Academy. It was fun to dig into old friends like Power Boy, Shadow Kid, Lamprey and Nightwind:

"It was first revealed that the Legion had a secret "training and testing program" when agents of the Legion of Super-Villains hatched a plot to blackmail the Legionnaire called Colossal Boy. LSV agents agents posed as broadcast interviewers at the Legionnaire's home, asking his parents about life as a Legionnaire's parent. Then they turned the Allons into glass and held their lives ransom in exchange for Colossal Boy's cooperation. READ MORE »

» SEE ALSO: Legion Academy Students

16 June 2019

The Fatal Five!

The Fatal Five of Earth-Prime is indistinguishable from the originals. From The Brave and the Bold #3 (2007); art by George Pérez and Scott Koblish.

I've added a summary of the fantastic Justice League vs. the Fatal Five, a new feature-length animated movie. The tone of this feature is more adult than the original cartoon; characters use swear words and actually kill people. The film features outstanding action sequences and a compelling narrative.

Then I realized the Fatal Five profile could use some love, so that is greatly improved now too!

» SEE:

24 March 2019

The Injustice Society of the World!

The Wizard escapes to try to reinvent the Injustice Society. From All-Star Comics #41 (1948); art by Carmine Infantino and Frank Giacoia.

At last a round-up of the super-villains who have menaced the Justice Society! Primarily centered on the Injustice Society, this profile includes lots of other entities. It's due to the consistent presence of one key member, the Wizard. The Wizard was the mastermind behind most of the I.S.'s capers, and he was the leader of the Secret Society of Super-Villains and Crime Champions, to boot.

"The Wizard first gained attention from the local newspaper, which emblazoned the headline "Philanthropist offers million dollars in cash to Justice Society of America." The JSA, of course, had no intention of accepting such a great reward, a blatant violation of their altruistic code. The benefactor in question was one Mr. W.I. Zard, who did not take their refusal well. Zard responded by terrorizing the team as the Wizard." … READ MORE »

» SEE ALSO:

17 FEBRUARY 2019

Green Lantern Alan Scott!

The Harlequin was relentless in her flirtatiousness. From Green Lantern v.1 #33 (1948); art by Irwin Hasen.

Another megaprofile for you on one of DC's founding big guns! Not sure why I chose to tackle this monster, but it is worthwhile and in my mission to complete all JSA related heroes. Alan Scott's history has been long and colorful, punctuated by personal and super-powered struggles.

"Millennia ago, the Guardians of the Universe of Earth-One gathered up "the mystic force loose in the starways" and "locked it in the heart of a star, there to remain forever." Unknown to them, this Starheart then become sentient. It cast a portion of its magic energy to Earth-Two, where it was known as the Green Flame of Life. This aspect of the Starheart was intended to serve as a force for good." … READ MORE »

» SEE ALSO:

29 December 2018

Elastic Lad (Jimmy Olsen)!

For deducing the act, Jimmy is awarded honorary membership in the Legion. From Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #72 (1963); art by Curt Swan and George Klein.

I was reviewing my Honorary Legionnaires page and felt shame when I saw that I had zero write-up for Elastic Lad — a legit honorary Legionnaire! I blame this on the fact that much of my Legion material was created in the post-Crisis era, and by that time Jimmy's history with the team had been wiped out. Even the Legion Help File (remember that?) didn't cover the character. It's daunting to cover a character whose scope goes wildly outside the Legion as well. I tried to cover mostly Elastic Lad, Jimmy's Legion contacts, and his major early life events...

"James Olsen was orphaned as a young child after his family fell victim to a train crash. His mother perished and his father, Mark, was washed down a river. Little Jimmy was taken in by an orphanage, adopted, and taken to live in a "remote mountain area." His father continued to search for him while pursuing his career as an archaeologist. Mark and his colleague Hal Rand wound up in trouble in the Yucatan in Mexico, where Mark perished. Rand was the one who eventually located Jimmy, and told him of his father's fate." … READ MORE »

21 December 2018

The Allen Family welcomes newborn Jenni. From Legion v.4 Annual #6 (1995); art by Stuart Immonen.

The Tornado Twins and XS!

Watching the Flash and wondering about the character from the future?

"Donald and Dawn Allen were the twin children of Barry Allen—the second 20th century Flash—and his wife Iris West. Iris met Barry just as he was beginning his career as the Flash, in the second great age of super-heroes. They married not long after meeting. In that time, Barry also took on a sidekick, Iris’ nephew Wally West, who became the first Kid Flash. " … READ MORE »

16 December 2018

The Super-Villains with Echo and Beauty Blaze! From Adventure Comics #355 (1967); art by Curt Swan and George Klein.

The Legion of Super-Villains!

A curious drive-by led me to spend some time upgrading this megaprofile! It was a lot of fun digging back into the LSV, taking me through all eras of Legion history and uncovering the complicated story of the elusive Saturn Queen:

"Their first 30th century caper involved the manipulation of Douglas Nolan, the twin brother of the deceased Legionnaire, Ferro Lad. Nolan, who was under the mental domination of the Villains, attacked on their behalf. When the adult Legion and Superman freed Nolan of this control, the villains retreated to plot again. They returned with reinforcements — the mysterious Echo and fiery Beauty Blaze. This team of five was quite formidable, but the Legionnaires were rescued by benevolent 30th-century descendants of Lex Luthor and Mr. Mxyzptlk." … READ MORE >>

9 December 2018

Original cover illustration by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer for Amazing Heroes #47 (15 May 1984).

Jack Kirby Interview from Amazing Heroes #47 (1984)

This long-running comics magazine scored a rare interview with Jack Kirby at the time of his New Gods revival in 1984. The interview is interesting because it came very late in Kirby's career, and both his weariness and passion show in nuanced ways as he talked about working for DC, Marvel, and the comics medium itself. He even addressed the decision to ignore New Gods continuity that came after his departure from DC in 1974:

He will not contradict New Gods stories that were done in the interim by others, but instead will be "just plain ignoring them. I' doing my particular theme. Everybody is an individual, and everybody is entitled to his own version, but I can't do someone else. In the last analysis, you can't do someone else's work. You haven't got someone else's outlook. You can only figure out things for yourself." … READ MORE >>

4 November 2018

Famous for dying, Jason Todd's pre-Crisis history was different from that which led to his post-Crisis fate. From Batman #426 (1988); art by Jim Aparo and Mike DeCarlo.

Jason Todd (Earth-One)

Given this character's debut on the Titans TV series, I am repromoting the Jason Todd/Robin II profile because it has recently undergone a hefty update thanks to Aaron Severson (see the Golden Age Batman Chronology).

The profile covers only up to the Crisis (Todd was rebooted later... did you realize?).

"When he first encountered Batman and Robin, Earth-One's Jason Todd was a 12-year-old circus aerialist, performing with his parents, Joseph and Trina Todd, as The Flying Graysons. The Todds were part of the traveling Hill Circus, whose clown, Waldo Flynn, was friends with Dick Grayson. Waldo later introduced the Todds to Dick, who was struck by how much they reminded him of his own family." … READ MORE >>

4 November 2018

The Tigress is changed by her resurrection by Gudra the Valkyrie. From Young All-Stars #26 (1989); art by Ron Harris and Bob Downs.

The Huntress! Sportsmaster! The Tigress!

This new profile is all in a family... following the popular Huntress (the original) through her marriage to the Sportsmaster and their villainous daughter, Artemis (aka the Tigress).

As usual, this took longer than an anticipated and grew greatly in scope after scratching the surface. I had existing profile info from the Obscure Characters section and wanted to integrate it into the JSA section. It was a fun profile to investigate, as these characters have had such an interesting history. Did you realize there were Earth-One Huntress/Sportsmasters, too?

"Paula Brooks, it has been said, was the daughter of the original Golden Age Tigress. This Tigress fought the magician called Zatara many times. Nothing else is known about that woman's personal life, or Paula's childhood days.

"Wearing a yellow-and-black tiger skin outfit, Paula adopted her mother's namesake and first introduced herself as the Tigress. She injected herself into the actions of the newly-formed "Young All-Stars" (an offshoot of the All-Star Squadron)." … READ MORE >>

7 October 2018

The Dynamic Duo meet their unexpected new butler, Alfred. From Batman #16 (1943); art by Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson and George Roussos.

Alfred the Butler!

This new profile by Aaron Severson's is a great addition to his Golden Age Batman section! Did you know about Alfred's turn as the evil Outsider? OK what about the Eagle? Read on...

"Alfred Beagle was the son of Jarvis, the former butler to the Wayne family in Gotham City. Alfred had a stage career before following in his father's footsteps. However, he was already a middle-aged man by the start of World War II and his only known relative was a niece, Valerie, who lived in Australia. ..." READ MORE >>

» SEE ALSO: Golden Age Batman

14 MAY 2018

In a new origin story, Diana's heroism began while she was still a girl. From Wonder Woman #105 (1959); art by Ross Andru and Mike Esposito.

Golden Age Wonder Woman!

I did some meaty updates to this profile, so I want to repromote it here. I became intrigued by the whole mess of Wonder Woman continuity in the time period between the Golden and Silver Ages. Wow, there was some crazy zigzagging in this title up until the time that they decided to put Wonder Woman into the all-white mod outfit.

"Thousands of years before the Crisis on Infinite Earths, the goddess Aphrodite created a race of Amazons on a Greek Island called Amazonia. Led by Queen Hippolyte, Earth-Two's Amazons developed an advanced matriarchal culture. The god Mars, infuriated by the Amazons' female-dominated society, inspired the Greek hero Hercules to challenge Hippolyte, steal her magic girdle (a gift from Aphrodite), and enslave her people ..." READ MORE >>

» SEE ALSO:

6 May 2018

The Atomic Knights!

The Atomic Knights were soon summoned to help other people in bad straits. From Strange Adventures #120 (1960); art by Murphy Anderson.

Continuing on the Silver Age initiatives, Aaron Severson has prompted another character update. The Atomic Knights have never been more than C-listers, but their original adventures are a Cold War hoot with classic Murphy Anderson art..

"Gardner Grayle was an Army soldier who awoke to find himself alone in a post-holocaust world. He began to recall the war, and how they took "anti-H" pills to protect against radiation. He soon met school teacher Douglas Herald who explained that plants could no longer grow, and the area was ruled by the Black Baron — who hoarded the remaining food. To escape an attack, they retreated into a museum, where they survived the effects of an "R-grenade." Grayle deduced that some nearby metal suits of armor had neutralized its deadly rays…" READ MORE  »

24 March 2018

Adam Strange + Red Tornado!

After battling Kanjar Ro again, Strange and Alanna's nuptials were delayed no more. From Justice League of America #121 (1975); art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.

Selfless and prolific contributor Aaron Severson has helped me clean up and legitimize my profile for Adam Strange, and while I was at it, (and since the two are sort of thematically related) I finished up some recent additions to the Red Tornado profile as well!

Adam Strange had a successful run in the Silver Age pages of Mystery in Space...

"While searching for the lost Inca city of Caramanga in the Peruvian Andes, American archaeologist Adam Strange was struck by a mysterious Zeta-Beam and transported to the planet Rann, the third planet in the Alpha Centauri system. There, Adam met the Zeta-Beam's creator, Sardath, chief scientist of Rann's capital city of Ranagar, and Sardath's beautiful daughter, Alanna…" READ MORE ABOUT ADAM STRANGE »

The Tornado's roots lie in the adventures of Adam Strange, and his team-ups with the Justice League. Both characters have been given new life in DC's New 52 (but I don't cover that history in here)...

"The Earth adventurer called Adam Strange made frequent visits to the planet Rann via super-light speed transportation called the Zeta Beam. Strange was watched by Ulthoon of Xalthor, whose planet was due to explode. Ulthoon plotted to take Strange's place on the next Zeta Beam, which then stranded Strange on Xalthor..." READ MORE ABOUT RED TORNADO »

24 March 2018

DC's Golden Age Mystics!

Lando quiets skeptics and gets to the business of finding the Hood. From World's Finest Comics #3 (1941); art by Howard Purcell.
Nadir and Arcot use ancient forgotten techniques to find a thief. From New Adventure Comics #25 (1938); art by Will Ely.

Following my profile of Dr. Occult, I've decided to create a new page celebrating the legacy of DC's mystical heroes from the Golden Age. Now complete are profiles on the little-known Lando and Nadir, and the peculiar Gay Ghost.

The succession of DC's mystic heroes was led by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's groundbreaking Doctor Occult. Early heroes such as Nadir and Lando disappeared into obscurity while the Spectre and Dr. Fate have become iconic DC characters. Zatara and Sargon enjoyed long runs, and late in the Golden Age, Dr. Thirteen arrived to take DC's supernatural world into a new era. READ MORE »

 

25 January 2018

Dr. Occult!

What is Doctor Occult? From The Books of Magic #3 (1991); art by Charles Vess.

After diving into DC's early days with the Crimson Avenger profile, I wondered what should be next. I still have a lot of DC Golden Age that I want to cover and thought: "Why not start from the top?" My research into Dr. Occult revealed a character with a very significant role in history — as the direct ancestor to Superman.

Don't be fooled: the Crimson Avenger was not DC's first super-hero (its first masked hero, yes), nor was Superman its first super-powered hero (though always in costume, yes). Read about Dr. Occult: the world's first comic book super-hero...

"On New Year's Eve 1899, in the American Midwest, a secret coven arramged a ritual to manifest Satan by offering the souls of two infants. At midnight, an evil spirit called Koth appeared instead; he craved the souls of the tainted, not the innocent, and slaughtered the initiates instead." … READ MORE »

6 January 2018

The Crimson Avenger!

The one-time appearance of the Crimson Avenger's flaming sword emblem. From Detective Comics #79 (1943); art by Pierce Rice.

My Seven Soldiers profile led me to do the Crimson Avenger (and eventually the rest), ostensibly because I thought the Avenger would be an "easy one" — because the Avenger's run was shorter than most of his comrades. Have you ever read long stretches of Golden Age comics? It's not great literature. Lucky for you, I've assembled the best bits for you, as always!

"Lee Travis was born to a working class family whose fortunes were poor during the Great Depression. Lee's godfather, Winston Smythe, paid for the tuition to send him to school. But when Lee joined the Abraham Lincoln Brigade to help fight in the Spanish Civil War in 1936, Smythe threatened to withdraw his support. Despite this, Smythe left his fortune to Travis, which included a New York newspaper, the Globe-Leader." … READ MORE »

18 November 2017

Seven Soldiers of Victory!

Solving the time trap of Dr. Doome. From All-Star Squadron #29 (1984); art by Jerry Ordway and Rick Magyar.

Never let it be said I shy away from a challenge. I wanted to cover the Golden Age group, but I also had a pre-existing write-up of Grant Morrison's 2005 epic. Weaving those strands took weeks! And then I always want to bring you good bits of art to make these long reads more entertaining :) ...

"The Seven Soldiers of Victory were a group of super-heroes assembled in 1941 by writer editor Whit Ellsworth, in the pages of a new quarterly series titled Leading Comics. The formula for the series was the same as that of National's All-Star Comics, which began the year before. Each issue's story featured a group of heroes who divided into solo missions, then regrouped at the end. The editorial strategy was meant to cross-pollinate the characters from other comics, in this case: Action, Adventure, Detective, More Fun and Star Spangled Comics. " … READ MORE »

16 October 2017

Iron Munro!

Iron Munro tries out a more super-heroic costume. From Young All-Stars #12 (1988); art by Howard Simpson and Malcolm Jones III.

I forgot about this one! I acutally completed this profile some time ago but got majorly sidetracked when I started digging in to the Golden Age roots of Superman — which are fascinating, and completely essential to understanding the genesis of Iron Munro.

The character embodies Roy Thomas' own exploration into these roots. The All-Star seed was planted in 1976 when he and Tony DeZuniga adapted Philip Wylie's Gladiator (1930) for Marvel Preview #9. Having just read the book, I think that anyone who says Jerry Siegel might have been influenced by Gladiator is just being diplomatic. There's no question that Superman is based on the character in Gladiator (and others, including Doc Savage), and anyone who reads it will understand my assertion. Go ahead: the novel is in the public domain, so you can start reading today!

I was prepared to break down the similarities until I discovered that it had already been done, and better, by Will Murray in Alter Ego #37 (June 2004). Murray's "Gladiator of Iron, Man of Steel" dives deep into the matter.

This profile is part of my plan to cover all the Young All-Stars in more detail...

"In 1894, scientist Abednego Danner injected his pregnant wife with special experimental serums. As a result, their son Hugo was born with super-human strength. Though he lived with his parents throughout his teen years, Hugo left at age eighteen to attend college and see the world. In the years that followed, Hugo's special powers led him through a number of adventures, but his unique stature among mortal men forever brought him grief." … READ MORE »

23 July 2017

Big Barda leads the forces of Apokolips against Grail. From Justice League #50 (2016); art by Jason Fabok.

The New Gods of the New 52!

So normally when I write profiles, I take the time to weave together the strings of continuity. But as the New 52 is concerned, I always feel like that would be futile. Maybe not. I could try, but it doesn't seem as possible or interesting as when I wrote about Jack Kirby's original New Gods continuity. It's sad and ironic that the New 52 was launched to give DC a fresh start, but then its editors couldn't be bothered to keep a reign on its universe. In a matter of years it was already a terrible mess.

Let's let the new Mister Miracle series roll out and see what transpires, eh?

What you'll find in this New Gods write-up is more a chronicle of appearances and story arcs. It is fun to see how they've been reinterpreted and what parts of Kirby's legacy have been saved or modified. As usual, Geoff Johns tried hardest to honor DC history, in the recent "Darkseid War."

So in anticipation of the Jack Kirby 100th birthday specials, and a new Mister Miracle series, get up to speed on the New Gods of the New 52...

» SEE ALSO: Mister Miracle and Big Barda (New 52)

19 March 2017

The SW6 Legionnaires!

Legionnaires triptych from the Cosmic Teams trading card set (1993). Art by Chris Sprouse.

Yay, it's the all-new, all-young-again Legionnaires! It sure was exciting while it lasted. When it launched, the excitement was largely due to the art of Chris Sprouse. The SW6 Legionnaires were chronal duplicates of the original Legion. They were made by the Time Trapper and unearthed during the Legion v.4 series.

Legionnaires was created to stem the loss of readership caused by the main series' experimental kind of storytelling. Their time was short-lived but the characters became the templates for the post-Zero Hour Legion, which is why today lots of people — creators included — mistake the two for one another. (In fact, Legionnaires continued its numbering even after the reboot).

"It was 2995 and the alien Dominators had virtually taken over Earthgov, and now landing fleets led by Pinnacle Command to "pacify" Earth. They had discovered the Time Trapper's duplicate Legionnaires but kept them in stasis. The copies might never have been unearthed but for a cataclysmic event — the destruction of Earth's moon." … READ MORE »