Former construction worker Titus Samuel Czonka was the Lenny to Arthur Brown's
George, a bald giant of a man with more brawn than brains. "His problem's
simple," said Brown. "He likes to BREAK things" (1993's ROBIN
#1, by Chuck Dixon, Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna).
Czonk entered into a partnership alongside Brown (a.k.a. the Cluemaster)
and the Electrocutioner to escape Blackgate (ROBIN #2). Czonk was convinced
that he needed a costume to work with the other two villains but the Cluemaster
had no time for suggestions. Left to his own devices, the muscleman put together
an outfit that included a flight cap and goggles, orange pants and a yellow
shirt with a violet question mark in the center:
"Stand back in amazement for the coming of The Baffler,
master of mysteries."
Wiping away his tears of laughter, the Cluemaster explained that leaving
hints to upcoming crimes "had a nasty habit of getting me caught."
The sheepish Baffler opted not to mention the letter he'd sent to the "gothem
city Police dept. Detectifes–important! Contains clues." The clue in
question was written on the back of Hide-A-Wee Motor Lodge stationary (ROBIN
#3). So much for the secret hideout.
At Cluemaster's suggestion, Czonk took a more dignified persona the
Headbanger that reflected his penchant for, well, banging his hard
head against his opponents' own craniums. The yellow shirt had given way to
a green one with a skull emblazoned on it (ROBIN #4). The trio's plot to loot
an armored car eventually went awry, with Cluemaster and Headbanger falling
before Robin while the Electrocutioner was kayoed by the Spoiler (ROBIN #5).
Czonk and Cluemaster made an escape attempt but were trounced by Batman (1994's
DETECTIVE #680) and ended up in Blackgate as cellmates (ROBIN #14, 16). The
duo's subsequent attempt at leading a mass prison breakout (1996's BATMAN:
BLACKGATE #1)resulted in their being tried separately at their next hearing.
Using a bathroom break as a cover, he snapped his handcuffs and escaped custody.
"And the funny part is I really HAD to go." (ROBIN #44).
Resuming the guise of the Baffler, Czonk lured Robin and the Spoiler to a
building targetted by the city for detonation and took them hostage. He reasoned
that their demise would prove to the Cluemaster that "the Baffler's a
world class operator!"
"And soon I'll be bad guy number one! They laughed at me for the LAST
time! Vaya con devo, you little do-gooders. The Baffler is "
knocked out cold by a low-hanging steel pipe.
Robin and the Spoiler eventually broke their bonds and, along with a groggy
Baffler, ran for their life to escape the crumbling building. "Maybe
this vigilante thing is COOLER than the villain gig," Czonk observed.
"We could be like a team, huh?" Two fists to the jaw later, the
Baffler had his answer (1997's ROBIN #43-44).
Czonk and the Cluemaster escaped Blackgate during the Gotham earthquake,
making it as far as a mall before the Baffler was beaten to a pulp by the
Huntress (1998's BATMAN: SPOILER/HUNTRESS: BLUNT TRAUMA #1). The Baffler escaped
custody only to be recaptured by Lock-Up and incarcerated in his No Man's
Land prison. Unable to shave his head, Czonk's hair had begun to grow back
by the time Nightwing arrived to lead him and his fellow captives to freedom
(1999's NIGHTWING #36-37).
Only Chuck Dixon knows where he might appear next.
Bag O'Bones/the Cyclotronic Man/One Man Meltdown
In BATO #4, Ned Creegan returns with a new name and a new costume. Creegan
was transformed into a sketetal freak in BATMAN #195 way way back, and tried
to kill Batman and Robin using the name Bag O'Bones. Creegan returns
in BLACK LIGHTNING (1st series) #4-5 as the Cyclotronic Man. This time
he wears an all green costume and goes after Black Lightning and Superman.
Third times a charm in BATO #4, when Creegan, now calling himself One
Man Meltdown, escapes from prison because a crooked warden won't give
him the radiation treatments his suped up body requires. After a misunderstanding
or two, the Outsiders help Creegan get the treatments he needs and he goes
back to prison, content to serve out his time and become a benefit to society.
Creegan can fire energy bolts, speed up the atoms of anything (including
his own body), and is superstrong. The aura around his body can also melt
most objects it come sin contact with.
The Banshee (Charlton Comics)
The Banshee was born in the American Midwest, the tragic result of
circus performer the Flying Dundo's achievement of his greatest dream. Dundo
had long been attempting to design an aerodynamic costume that would enable
him to truly take flight. In 1967, he perfected a cape which, when connected
to his wrists and ankles, enabled him to soar above the Earth. Dundo's stunned
pupil, Max Bine, recognized that the chartreuse cape had far more potential
than mere circus performances and murdered his mentor that night.
Adding a full face mask to hide his appearance, the villain (dressed entirely
in green save for yellow eye pieces) launched an amazing string of robberies
across the nation. "I make a swift, shocking entrance, strike fast before
anyone can react ... and be gone while everyone is still in a state of shock."
After an astonished victim gasped that "he swooped in and out like a
... a banshee," Bine took the name for himself.
The Banshee finally met his match in Crown City when he was struck down by
TV newsman Vic Sage during a robbery. Taking flight without the jewel he'd
intended to steal, Bine refused to give up and, using more caution, kept Sage's
alter-ego, the Question, at arm's length for the next week. As a thunderstorm
rolled in, the two opponents met on the ledge of a skyscraper and the Question
grabbed onto the villain, adding more weight than his cape could support.
Landing on an opportune rooftop, the Banshee pulled out a pistol only
to have the strong winds catch his cape. Observing the out of control bandit
fading into the distance, the Question noted that "the Banshee's being
blown out to sea. He got just what he deserved."
The Banshee resurfaced years later in AMERICOMICS SPECIAL #1 (1983) and,
soon after, found himself alongside dozens of other villains during the Great
Crisis in July of 1985. Surrounded by the likes of the Cheetah and Monsier
Mallah, the Banshee stood out in a new, solid white version of his costume
(CRISIS #9). Banshee was later part of a strikeforce sent to Oa to prevent
Krona from creating the multiverse (CRISIS #10). In the new reality that arose
in the aftermath, the Banshee's place is still unknown.
Doctor Mid-Nite fought a second Banshee in ALL-AMERICAN COMICS #65. Another
Banshee of Irish mythology appeared in the Jack O'Lantern episode in SUPER
An insect-powered villain who fought original H-Dialer Robby Reed, in the
HOUSE OF MYSTERY Dial H series. Only ever showed up once, to my knowledge.
Baron Bug reappeared as a member of the Science Squad in the series, 52. (#23, 26, 46)
Created by John Broome and Gil Kane, Tyrano first appeared in GREEN LANTERN
Presumably the descendant of European nobility, Baron Tyrano was bald, wore
a monocle... and was permanently confined to a massive iron lung, being paralyzed
from the neck down and unable to breathe unaided.
Tyrano became a criminal mastermind and assembled a network of agents to
do his bidding in the outside world. Upon discovering that Hal Jordan was
secretly the super-hero Green Lantern, Tyrano launched a scheme to project
his own mind into the Lantern's body and escape the prison of his own existence.
GL was temporarily split into two separate beings by Tyrano's futuristic
technology, but managed to reunite the Jordan and Green Lantern halves and
crush the villain's plan.
Much later, Tyrano created a group of powerful androids to replace his human
agents. Being totally immobile, he had spent most of his time in the past
few years watching television, and so he created some of these in the image
of characters he had loved. One "gunman" resembled Tyrano as Yul
Brynner's "gunslinging robot" character from the movie WESTWORLD,
while Tyrano's "girlfriend" looked like Joan Collins of DYNASTY.
Tyrano sent these agents to battle the seven members of the Green Lantern
Corps then based on Earth (GREEN LANTERN CORPS #204). When the GLC overloaded
the mentally-controlled androids, Tyrano was left comatose.
Probably unable to tell the androids to feed him, Tyrano may have starved
to death since then.
Luis Paralda, from BATMAN #56, had been chosen from among several candidates
in a small Mexican village to become their Batman-like hero and protect them
from the crafty ganglord, El Papagayo. Unfortunately, it turned out that Peralda
was one of El Papagayo's men, looking to betray the town. During a clash with
the real Batman, Peralda was killed, and El Papagayo's gang was finally brought
With Robin away on a Teen Titans caper, Batman was patrolling in the Batmobile
when his TV hookup to Commissioner Gordon was hijacked by the Riddler. Taunting
him with a riddle that led him to the Optometry Building, which in turn led
him to the Diamond Exchange, Batman finally found the Riddler, who tossed
a large diamond out the window to delay the Caped Crusader. Batman caught
it, but soon tossed it away as the rigged gem exploded, releasing a strange
gas which didn't seem to affect the Dark Knight. Leaving the Diamond Exchange,
the Batman happened upon the Penguin flying above the street on an umbrella.
The fiendish fowl gave Batman an enigmatic clue about passenger pigeons and
fled. Batman headed to the City Museum, where he found the Penguin in the
pigeon exhibit. The Penguin sent a crow after his enemy, which blew dust from
its feathers at the Gotham Guardian, and distracted him enough to allow the
Penguin to escape. Returning to the Batmobile, Batman discovered that his
gear shift knob was replaced with a replica of the Joker's face, which spewed
yet another gas into Batman's face.
Batman crashed the Batmobile into a utility pole, but he wasn't hurt by the
accident–in fact, he didn't seem to really be Batman at all anymore. Batman
grew to monstrous proportions, and climbed out of the wrecked car. He seized
the pole and the heat generated by his hands destroyed his gauntlets and the
pole by melting it to slag. Commissioner Gordon and a police officer in a
cruiser happened upon the lumbering figure, which turned and sent a fiery
blob from his hand, destroying the police car. Calling himself "Bat-Hulk",
the giant melted anything that came near him, and stalked off into the park,
where he disappeared by changing into a gaseous form. He re-formed later,
and the shock of seeing his own reflection reversed made him change back.
He realized that the gas and dust used by his three enemies must be the cause,
and he also knew he needed help, so he headed to Simon Stagg's estate.
Batman related his tale to Stagg and Metamorpho, and Stagg ran some tests,
which showed that Batman could change into Bat-Hulk again at any time because
of the residual effects of the gas. Batman hoped that Metamorpho would be
able to keep him in line the next time he changed. Naturally, he then reverted
to Bat-Hulk, and fought the Element Man to a virtual standstill, escaping
from Stagg's mansion.
The Joker, The Riddler, and the Penguin were celebrating their victory of
the Caped Crusader when the Bat-Hulk burst through their wall. The Joker had
thought he could control the monster, but Bat-Hulk had other ideas, and wanted
the three to work as his helpers on a super-crime wave. In mid-sentence, he
reverted back to Batman, who found himself weak and suddenly at the mercy
of his three greatest enemies. Before the villains could attack, Batman changed
back into Bat-Hulk and they started their crime wave, while Metamorpho, Stagg,
Sapphire and Java were out searching for him. When the police had boxed in
the Bat-Copter while Bat-Hulk was breaking into a bank, the three villains
cut his rope and fled the scene. Metamorpho also finally met up with the monster
as he was leaving the bank building. Bat-Hulk got his gigantic hands around
Metamorpho and squeezed him like a tube of toothpaste, forcing Stagg and Java
to use an electric current to bring the Element Man back to normal. They then
looked up to see a giant Bat-Hulk signal in the sky, which Commissioner Gordon
was using to let Metamorpho know where the Bat-Hulk was, leading them to the
Clock Tower. Bat-Hulk and Metamorpho battled on the face of the clock and
ended up on the roof. Bat-Hulk was about to smash the Element Man with a big
television antenna when it was struck by lightning. Down in the street, Gordon
had captured the three arch-criminals who had started the sorry situation.
Metamorpho brought down Batman from the Clock Tower roof, thinking he may
be dead, but the Dark Knight awoke upon hearing the criminals, wanting to
get up and arrest them.
The Bathulk also appeared in the Batman: Brave and the Bold cartoon episode, "Game
Over for Owlman!" as a parallel Earth's Batman.
The Brave And The Bold #68
In the distant past, a race of tiny people known as the Elvarans fled the
savage cavemen of the outer world for sanctuary within caverns within the
Earth. The Elvarans periodically sent armor-clad warriors into the outer world
atop bats to keep abreast of the Earth's evolution. With a racial hatred of
"tall men," an Elvaran tribe in Ivy Town's Giants Cavern went berserk
when it saw gangster Eddie Gordon in the cave. Firing his gun, Gordon unwittingly
gained temporary control of the little people, thanks to the noise's effect
on their motor responses. Gordon decided to use the Bat-Knights as
a means of looting the city and destroying his enemy, the Atom. The
Atom managed to capture a lone Bat-Knight and convince him of his good intentions.
Together, they freed the Bat-Knights from Gordon's control and the Tiny Titan
was given the unique honor of being able to visit the people of Elvara "by
giving the pre-arranged signal" (ATOM #22).
Gordon briefly regained control of the Bat-Knights in THE ATOM #30. Ray Palmer
encountered the little people for a third time when he and Jean Loring visited
Giants Cavern, also the location where he first became the Atom, during a
Marauding Bat-Knights claimed that the Elvarans now had more militant leadership
and that they sought the secret of the Atom's size-control belt to conquer
the outside world. Ray made a narrow escape and resealed the "doorway"
out of the cavern (ACTION COMICS #487).
This name was used by John Vance in DETECTIVE COMICS #231's flashback, when
he helped Batman on a case before Dick Grayson came along to begin his Robin
career. When Vance briefly re-entered Batman's life, and Dick learned of his
having been a partner of Batman's earlier, it caused him some rough moments
when he thought Batman might consider replacing him with Vance.
The Batman Of 2045-2050
90% of this text is directly from HEX #11, written by Michael Fleisher.
By 2045, Mr. Cohen had become a world-class gymnast, and a doctoral candidate
in criminology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He
idolized the original Batman, and was researching a thesis on the hero's spectacularly
brilliant career. Although Batman's true identity had never been revealed
to the world, Cohen had deduced it. Beneath abandoned Wayne Manor, in the
once proud suburbs of Gotham City, he discovered the original Batcave. He
was down in the Hall of Trophies, taking notes and holograms, when the first
hail of ICBMs shattered the northeast. World War III had begun. If he hadn't
been sheltered far below ground, he might easily have been among the 150 million
When Cohen finally emerged, it was to a scene of soul-numbing horror and
devastation. Law and order were non-existent. Plunder gangs roved everywhere
looting, raping, venting their mindless rage amid the ruins of a world
that had gone insane. Miraculously, both his parents had survived the cataclysm.
His mother, Miriam Cohen, was a rabbi who, among her other humanitarian concerns,
had campaigned fruitlessly but tirelessly for handgun control. His father,
Kenneth Cohen, had served as a top-level disarmament negotiator under three
administrations. From them, he had inherited a compassion for victims of violence
and a fervent desire for world peace. But compassion was in short supply after
the holocaust, while the desire for scapegoats seemed to have no end.
One organization of crazed fanatics, the National Reconstruction Alliance,
focused their hatred on two groups: advocates of arms control ... and Jews.
Unfortunately for them, Cohen's parents were both. They were murdered in cold-blood
one night while walking the streets of the city. There was no way he could
ever bring them back, but he could do something to help bring back the civilized
values they'd believed in ... the values they'd taught him to believe
in. It was then that he remembered the Batman.
Cohen established a headquarters in the Statue of Liberty, and created his
own bat-costume, equipping it with special features suitable to his place
and time. And in memory of his parents, he made a solemn vow. As long as he
lived, there would be no firearms allowed in New York ... and God help anyone
who tried to stop him from keeping that vow.
The new Batman was last seen in 2050, when the time-lost gunfighter named
Jonah Hex was tricked by the criminal organization called the Combine into
believing that Batman had kidnapped Hex's friend, Stiletta.
Hex #11 (Jul 1986) "Night Of The Bat"
Hex #12 (Aug 1986) "Siege Of The Terminators"
Hex #13 (Sep 1986) "The Dogs Of War" (behind-the-scenes)
Batman of 3000 AD
Alias Brane (short for Bruce Wayne), of that futuristic year. He became
Batman (inspired by legends of his ancestor) to help fight off an
invasion of Earth from the planet Saturn, in Batman #26.
Brane reappeared in Batman #700, and Brane Taylor in Superman/Batman #80,
among other cameos from the Superman/Batman
Batman of the 31st Century
a.k.a. Brane Taylor, who once saw old video footage of the 20th century
Batman and had it inspire him to become his century's Cowled Crusader.
He and the original Batman shared cases in BATMAN #67 and DETECTIVE COMICS
#216, but never met again thereafter. However, still another future Batman
appeared in BATMAN #105.
Batman of Zur-En-Arrh
Alias Tlano, a scientist of his world who studied Batman from afar and
tried to duplicate his efforts to help his people, as shown in BATMAN
Written by Rich Meyer
The Bat-Squad was a rather interesting group of folks: Three Brits who got
involved with the Batman on a case in London, England. Unfortunately they
only appeared once, in The Brave and The Bold #92.
Bruce Wayne was in London for the filming of Basil Coventry's movie, "The
Scarlet Strangler", based on a real-life Jack-the-Ripper-esque murderer.
Margo Cantrell was on the set as script girl and stand-in for star Vivien
Tremaine. Former Scotland Yard Inspector Major Dabney was on hand as technical
advisor, and Mick Murdock, who had been pinched in the past by Dabney, was
there to play weird "grotty" music to get the actors in the right
During the filming of the first scene, however, the "Strangler"
kidnaps Vivien, and the actor playing the Strangler, Ronald Dawson, is found
murdered, which prompts an appearance by Batman. The Caped Crusader follows
the available clues and is nearly killed by the Strangler himself, with Dabney's
timely appearance saving his life. Mick and Batman later prevent Margo's kidnapping
by the strong madman, as Dabney discovers that a piece of cloth from the killer
indicates he was in the cellar of the Half Moon Inn (due to the kind of beetles
on it). The Bat Squad converges there and discovers Vivien chained in a recess,
and apparently of the belief that she is Lucy Crown, one of the Strangler's
real-life victims. Mick believes this and several other occurrences mean that
they have all traveled back in time to 1906.
Outside the Inn, the team sees the Strangler throw Coventry into the river,
but when Batman approaches, Coventry himself leaps insanely from the shadows.
He and Batman crash through the rotting floorboards into the cellar, where
an unexploded bomb from the blitz of the World War pins down Batman. The sight
of the swastika on the bomb brings Coventry back to reality, and Dabney and
Mick arrive to assist the Dark Knight. With Dabney's instructions, Mick's
nimble fingers fail to defuse the bomb and the pair flee, only to hear an
explosion soon after. Batman walks out of the fog, having freed himself by
digging into the wall and letting the river water buoy the bomb away from
Coventry explained that the original Scarlet Strangler was actually his grandfather.
His father feared that he too would become like him and was committed to an
asylum, and an uncle raised Coventry. Coventry discovered his heritage and
wanted to make a movie about it. His father found out about it and went insane,
thinking he was indeed the Strangler. He abducted Vivien and killed her co-star,
and Coventry also cracked under the strain, but managed to kill his father
(his body was the one thrown into the water). Mick refers to their little
assemblage as the Bat-Squad, and they all hope they can team up again "some
This was actually a very good, though a little cliched, story, mainly because
of the realistic characterizations of the Bat-Squad members. To be honest,
I've always sort of thought that "The Bat-Squad" monicker was applied
just so this mystery story could be used as a team-up in The Brave and The
Bold, instead of say, Detective Comics. Still, it's sad that Margo, Mick and
Inspector Dabney never appeared again...they were definitely a better representation
of Great Britain then, say, that horrid "Londinium" journey the
TV Batman, Robin and Batgirl took in their final season. And they probably
never will be see again outside of a reprint collection, given the rather
skewed tastes of the American comic buyer nowadays (unless somehow Geoff Johns
or Kurt Busiek takes a hankering to the trio).
THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #92
Batman and the Bat-Squad in "Night Wears a Scarlet Shroud"
Cover by: Nick Cardy
Script by: Bob Haney
Art by: Nick Cardy
The Battering Ram
Alias Bruno Horgan, this super-strong horn-headed mutant fought H-Dialers
Chris King and Vicki Grant in ADVENTURE COMICS #480.
In a rural community early in the 20th Century, nine boys had aspirations
of becoming successful in the music fields. By the 1920s, all of them had
made it, all that is but Hector Bauer. In desperation, he asked his
friends to perform one of his compositions. The end result was a disaster.
Hector simply had no talent. A head injury left Bauer convinced that his symphony
had been deliberately bungled by the eight men and he resolved to get revenge.
In 1943, he was finally prepared to fulfill his vow, making plans to destroy
each man's livelihood, destroying the violinist's prize instrument, for instance,
or slicing off the pianist's fingers. A chance encounter with Hawkman exposed
the scheme to the Justice Society, who thwarted the plot and brought Bauer
to justice (ALL-STAR COMICS #19).
Mikishawm, having checked a few JLA and JSA sites on the web, I've now
encountered information saying that both JSA foe Hector Bauer and JLA baddie
Pasha Gorki called themselves MAD Maestro. You're saying that was not the
No, neither was referred to as "Mad Maestro" in the stories themselves.
Hawkman referred to Bauer as "the mad maestro" in AMERICA VS. THE
JSA #3, though, and the JLA INDEX #7 identifies Gorki as "The Mad Maestro"
even though, in the story itself, his brother referred to him exclusively
Really a failed chemist named Angela Wainwright, who fought H-Dialer Vicki
Grant in ADVENTURE #488 after turning to a life of poisonous crime.
Mentioned frequently as a primary player in the Club of Heroes, the Global
Guardians, and the Dome. Powers, abilities, and current activities are all
The Big Gang
Written by <The Atom>
Only appearance: THE ATOM #34 (Dec 1967-Jan 1968) Story: "Little Man––You've Had a Big-Gang Day!"
The Big Gang (not Big-Time as originally thought) was made up of several
members, all of whom used the word "Big" in their names. They all wore similar
uniforms, looking somewhat like "evil" Challengers of the Unknown than anything
else. Their purple and black costumes did nothing to disguise their identities,
although it seems unlikely that their mothers named them all "Big" for a
first name at birth. Each costume had a symbol on the chest except for the
leader. Their backgrounds all reportedly came from circus sideshow attractions
except for the new recruit. The implication is that they're all midgets,
although they're never seen close enough to a normal sized human to prove
or disprove this theory.
Big Head was the leader, and had a head almost the size of Hector
Hammond's. His "oversized head contains more brains than an entire college
faculty". He was the "mastermind" of the operation. His costume was the only
one without a symbol on his chest.
Big Ben was "an expert at synchronizing time schedules so that each
member knows exactly when he's to go into action during a robbery". The symbol
on his chest was predictable... a clock (Big Ben, to be precise). His timetables
are constantly being upset by the unpredictable appearances of the Atom.
Big Wig was a villain that used wigs as a weapon. One guess as to
his symbol... a wig. He had one wig that was explosive and others as well.
Big Bertha was the only female member of the group, and was described
as a woman "whose arms are so strong she can hurl an object as accurately
as the famous World War One cannon after which she's named". Big Bertha's
symbol... a cannon.
Big Shot "makes his special guns talk a language all their own".
Big Shot's symbol... a golden bullet. He had a gun that the Atom jammed,
a gun that fired razor sharp propellers, and a "knob" gun that apparently
Big Cheese "concocts cheeses with extraordinary powers". You guessed
it... his symbol's a slice from a cheese wheel. His cheeses included one
that had knock-out odor and another that stuck like glue, as well as some
And the final member of the "Big Gang" was recruited in the beginning of
Big Deal was a stage magician and card shark. His symbol... a card "spade".
Big Deal threw razor sharp cards that always managed to miss the Atom.
The Big Gang had already stolen the world's largest book and the world's
largest drum, as well as making off with the biggest money heist of all time,
but now had their sights set on the world's biggest emerald. Jean Loring
and Ray Palmer happen to be on hand as the emerald is removed from the safe
to be shown to a young girl, Candace, when the Big Gang shows up. Big Cheese
lets loose with a knock-out odor cheese that flattens everyone but the Atom,
who shrinks out of the "smell". He in turn flattens Big Head, Big Wig, Big
Time, and Big Deal, and disarms Big Cheese and Big Shot. Unfortunately, Big
Bertha, with her incredible aim, takes out the Atom in one shot, using a
16 ounce shot put. He takes a dive in the nearby pond, apparently pushed
down by the weight of the shot.
The Atom survives, having switched to near weightlessness before being hit
by the shot. He floats to safety already unconscious and lands atop a lily
pad. Figuring out that the Big Gang is likely to steal the only other "big" items
in Ivy Town (the world's largest coin and world's largest stamp), the Atom
lurks in near-microscopic size atop the coin. In order, the Atom takes out
Big Wig, Big Bertha, Big Time, Big Head, Big Shot, Big Cheese... and neglects
to notice Big Wig throwing an explosive toupee at his back while the Atom
prepares to take out Big Deal. The Atom shrinks subatomic but the Big Gang
is sure he's dead and gets away with the loot.
Following the theme, the Atom figures the Big Gang would hide somewhere...
well, BIG. With, uh, BIG in the name of the place–or sort of. The Atom
goes off to "Giant" Caverns (hereafter known as "Big" Caverns), where the
Big Gang is storing the world's biggest silver nugget. The Atom again takes
out Big Head, uses the world's largest book against Big Bertha, Big Shot,
and Big Wig, then takes out Big Cheese, Big Ben, and Big Deal with the largest
Number of times the word "BIG" is used in the story... ninety-one!
Binky first appeared in LEAVE IT TO BINKY #1 (March 48), but i think
most people remember him as a very 1960s/early 70s character.
Billy the Kid
Pancho Guinones was having a good day. He had a fine new horse and saddle,
a hot meal in his belly and a promising start to his card game. Somehow, though,
he got the impression that his luck was about to go sour. Maybe it was that
blonde stranger in buckskins who stood in the doorway of the tavern and called
him a "sneaky, murderin' rat." After the cigar was shot out of his
mouth, Pancho was fairly confident that good fortune had left him.
"You shot my Pa in the back less'n a few hours ago
then you stole his horse and saddle."
Pancho insisted that, whatever else he may have done, he wouldn't have shot
a man in the back. A local stepped forward to say, "He's right, Billy.
... Ah'm no friend of this thieving varmint, but ah do know he's above thet
The Mexican bandit did admit to taking the horse and saddle, though.
"Pancho see thees beautiful horse weeth no one to care
for heem, so he say 'Pancho, thees three hombres who shoot thees old man,
who leave thee poor horse to starve, so you must "
Billy stopped him at that point. With someone who could identify the killers,
the Kid had a chance at bringing them to justice. Billy agreed to let Pancho
keep the horse if he'd help track down the assassins and the two set up camp
for the night. By morning, Pancho was gone again, adding Billy's money, provisions
and watch to his rapidly accumulating cache of goods.
Billy picked up the trail in a village where Pancho had eaten breakfast.
Discovering the stolen eighty dollars, the Kid slapped the woman and accused
her of being the Mexican's accomplice.
"And what about my watch? Was he wearing mah watch,
too?"Sobbing, she asked, "How could I know this? I am BLIND!"Suddenly contrite, Billy tossed the money back on the table
and stuttered that "mebbe it were some other critter did thet stealin'
...""I am sure that is true," she answered, still
weeping. "Mr. Pancho is very rich ... he has left me money many times."
Once more, Billy tracked down Pancho, only to be informed by the bandit that
someone else had stolen the watch from him. Arriving in the next town, Pancho
wondered why Billy was stopping instead of continuing the search for the killers.
"Ah'm NEVER going to stop looking for them, Mex ... but right now we've
gotta stop and earn some money for new provisions."
A local recognized the blonde as Billy the Kid and insisted the gunfighter
become their new sheriff at least long enough to stop the threat of
Blackie Kane. "None of us could stand up to the lightning draw of Blackie
an' nobody here has got the stomach for that kinda violence."
Billy agreed to take the job long enough to capture Kane and none too
soon. A drunken Kane had just gone on a spree that spooked a horse and trampled
a little boy.
While Billy transported the youngster to the nearest doctor some two miles
away, his companion decided to confront Kane. ("Pancho do not like hombres
dat cause leedle boys to get hort.") Billy returned to town to find Pancho
dying of a gunshot wound to the chest. Shoving his way through the crowd,
Billy kneeled beside him, cursing, "You dumb thieving Mex. Couldn't you
have waited until I "
"Always you make weeth thee tough talk, keed
but you no fool Pancho you love heem like brodder ... Pancho ees happy
you return een time, Billy ... so he can geeve back thee watch weeth thee
beautiful picture inside that he steal from you ... the picture of YOU and
your father ... Don't worry, keed ... your secret ees safe with Pan ... cho
Billy walked from Pancho's body to the tavern, identified the cocky Blackie
Kane and shot him dead. The next morning, Billy arranged a proper grave for
Pancho, complete with this epitaph: "I loved him."
"Adios, amigo ... I'll have to continue my hunt alone
... but ah'll never forget you ..." Flipping open the pocket watch, the
Kid looked at the family photograph and its inscription, "To my loving
daughter, Billy Jo," and then added, "Nor the fact thet you kept
my secret well ..." (1971's ALL-STAR WESTERN #6, by John Albano and Tony
ASW #7 continued the formula of the series when Billy was rescued from an
Indian ambush by another shady character, "'Ace' Van Winston ... gambler,
gunfighter and philosopher." He was also a man in love with killing,
particularly Indians. Minutes after Billy prevented Ace from murdering a native
youngster, the duo found themselves surrounded by an entire tribe. Ace was
sentenced to burn at the stake but Billy was freed out of gratitude for her
part in sparing the boy the Chief's son.
Ace pleaded with Billy to kill him on the spot. When the Kid refused, the
gambler pulled out his trump card.
"WAIT! Perhaps it would be easier for you to do if
I told you it was I who cut down your esteemed father!""Yo're lying, Ace ... yo're jest saying thet so ah'll
""Then how would I know that his last words were of
you ... his daughter MISS Billy Jo?"
Overhearing the conversation, the Chief offered to let Billy and Ace face
each other in a duel, each with one bullet in their gun. Ace pretended to
reach for his weapon and Billy instinctively fired, mortally wounding him.
"Ah don't get it," she told him, "You only
bluffed goin' fo' yore gun, gambler how come?""Heh heh. That Indian chief would never have let me
go free if I'd beaten your draw, Kid ... The deck was stacked ... so I played
... the Joker" (ASW #7).
In a tavern in the Midwest, Billy seemed to have found the other two men
who had killed her father. "Within seconds it was over ... the two men
had drawn against a legend ... the legend of Billy the Kid ... and lost ..."
The other patrons in the saloon could only gasp in disbelief. "NEVER
seen a man draw THAT fast in mah life!"
The local sheriff was less impressed and put Billy in a cell with an old
man nicknamed One-Eye. The old timer was an inveterate scavenger and became
fixated on his fellow prisoner's boots. The two got into a fight and, when
the sheriff tried to break them up, One-Eye pulled a concealed knife and stabbed
him in the back, removing off the lawman's boots for good measure. Against
her better judgment, Billy fled the jailhouse with the killer.
Billy soon learned that One-Eye had plenty of enemies, including the gang
that he'd run out on. The bandits got the drop on the escapees and were stunned
to discovered (by way of her pocket watch) that Billy the Kid was a girl.
Aware of Billy's sharpshooting skills, One-Eye goaded the villains into trying
to outdraw "a skinny female." Three corpses later, Billy was ready
to "make tracks outa hyar ... afore any more of yore FRIENDS show up."
First though, the old scavenger felt compelled to pick through the possessions
of the bandits, plucking the boots off one body and looking through the telescope
of another. Billy asked again if One-Eye was ready to leave but the old man
told her to go on without him. "Ah got too much to do hyar fer a spell."
"Robbing dead men! Yore no better'n the skunks we jest killed!"
While Billy rode off, One-Eye began firing on the posse he'd seen while looking
through the telescope. "And if ah'm able to outshoot these varmints,
ah bet ah'd shore git me a lot more fine pair o' boots. Yes indeedy!"
On the opposite end of the shoot-out, the posse was confident that it was
just a matter of time before the killer was out of ammunition. "Yep ...
his next stop'll be BOOT HILL" (ASW #8).
In the end, editor Joe Orlando decided that Billy the Kid simply wasn't going
to click and the series was put on hold. The twist of her concealed gender
was interesting but not visual enough to have any impact on the potential
audience. If ALL-STAR WESTERN was truly going to be a success, it needed a
lead character who grabbed the reader the moment they saw him. Vamping for
time, Orlando released ASW #9 as an all-reprint issue and got to work with
Albano and DeZuniga on creating a new western hero.
The end result was unveiled in late1971's ALL-STAR WESTERN #10: "Cold-blooded
killer, vicious, unmerciful hellion without feeling, without conscience ...
a man consumed by hate, a man who boded evil ... That was ... Jonah Hex."
And the rest was history.
The Black Bat
As part of the special double-sized BATMAN #600 that kicked off the "Bruce
Wayne: Fugitive" saga, the DC editorial staff decided to include several
backup features of "previously unprinted Batman stories". The first
of these was "The Mystery of the Black Bat!", a time-travel tale
that appeared to be from the lighthearted Batman comics of the 1950s, most
likely illustrated by Dick Sprang or Sheldon Moldoff, though "these stories
had no credits listed".
Watching the excavation of an old mining town outside Gotham on television,
Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson are astounded when the visiting scientist unveils
his discovery a dime novel from the 1870s called "The Black Bat
Rides". The cover of this book features a Batman-like character said
to have been based off a historical figure of the time. Intrigued, Bruce and
Dick decide to pay a visit to their friend Professor Carter Nichols, creator
of a wondrous time machine that has sent them on adventures in many different
Nichols successfully transports them to the 1870s where they promptly change
into their Batman and Robin personas. Soon after, they meet Samuel Braxton,
a tall black man in a tattered Union uniform. The Dynamic Duo help Braxton
fight a group of Confederate soldiers and Braxton is quite taken by the heroes'
dramatic (and somewhat frightening) costumes. Batman and Robin continue helping
Braxton as he continues his duties as a conductor on the Underground Railroad,
helping escaped slaves. The Gotham heroes agree to guide a group of former
slaves to freedom while Braxton attends to another mission. As a parting gift,
they give him a batarang to remember them by.
Batman and Robin's group is soon taken by surprise and attacked by a Confederate
patrol. The soldiers tie the heroes up, mistaking them for Northern spies.
Suddenly, a batarang whizzes by and cuts their bonds. The menacing figure
of the Black Bat comes riding down the hill and the three costumed champions
soundly defeat the soldiers. After the commotion, the Black Bat removes his
mask to reveal Samuel Braxton. Influenced by Batman's costume and the awe
and fear it inspires, Braxton had decided to spook the soldiers. Seeing the
effectiveness of this tactic, he decides to continue helping people as the
Batman and Robin soon feel themselves being drawn back to the present and
quickly change back to their civilian clothes. Yet they are left with a conundrum
was Samuel always the Black Bat or did he become the Black Bat because
of their visit to his era? If they inspired him, where did the dime novel
that prompted their trip in the first place originate? It's enough to make
a crimefighter's head spin.
Just as astounding to the readers of BATMAN #600 is that the tale of the
Black Bat is actually not a "lost" Batman story at all. It and several
other backup features were created specifically for the issue. "The Mystery
of the Black Bat" was in fact scripted by Ed Brubaker and drawn by James
Tucker as a homage to that era. In hindsight, this seems obvious. The story
was sursprisingly progressive for the conservative 50s and very aware of the
paradoxes of time travel.
However, I must admit that for a while, I myself was suckered in by this
charming (and misleading) story.
HISTORICAL NOTE: The Black Bat is also the name of a pulp hero of the 1930s
that bore a striking similarity to Batman. His origin may have had an influence
on Two-Face's backstory as well. This guy's real though, folks. Honest.
Blackbriar Thorn first appeared in DC COMICS PRESENTS #66 (Feb 94). An ancient
druid who has survived for centuries in the form of a wood creature, the Blackbriar
Thorn is awakened in modern times by the father of Lana Lang (who was an archeologist
pre-Crisis) and wreaks havoc in Gotham City before being defeated by Superman
and the Demon Etrigan.
Although he never had any subsequent appearances before the Crisis, this
adventure was apparently enough for him to get his fact page in WHO'S WHO
#1 (Apr 85), possibly because Len Wein, the creator of the character, was
also WHO'S WHO editor at the time.
Next, we see Blackbriar Thorn in a couple of cameos. He is part of the Spectre's
gathering of magicians who help save the Earth from the Anti-Monitor, in CRISIS
ON INFINITE EARTHS #12. Then he has a run-in with John Constantine in SWAMP
THING #70; John Constantine summoned Thorn's spirit. Maybe he was in HISTORY
IN THE DC UNIVERSE #1, too–I've forgotten.
BB is also largely forgotten until he is revived during the Underworld Unleashed
crossover in 1995. In the ABYSS: HELLS SENTINEL one-shot, he is part of Blaze's
(and therefore, Neron's) minions. He battles Sentinel Alan Scott with his
wooden body, only to discover that Alan is no longer vulnerable to wood.
So, in JSA #9-10, (Apr-May 2000), Thorn's enemyship with Alan is revisited,
as he returns as a member of Johnny Sorrow's new Injustice Society. It doesn't
go to well as Wildcat splinters BB's body and uses his remains as toothpicks.
Nevertheless, the Tigress is able to re-animate Thorn's body with a new look
(and, surprisingly enough, a more modern speech pattern) in JSA #16-18 (Nov
2000-Jan 2001). The villain almost succeeds in killing Alan Scott (who had
regained his weakness against wooden materials), penetrating his chest with
his body. At the end of the struggle, Thorn is defeated by the Star-Spangled
Kid and her shooting stars.
I don't have any facts, but wasn't Blackbriar Thorn a Golden Age villain?
Maybe I got that impression from seeing him fight GL in Underworld and later
in JSA, but I don't have the GA resources to check this out.
Nope. Blackbriar Thorn is pure Bronze Age. Of that I'm certain.
By the way, the DCCP issue where Blackbriar Thorn first appeared, is also
the first time Etrigan starts rhyming in every sentence. (Before that it had
only been his transformation spells that rhymed.)
A midget with cosmic gambling powers, who lives in a section of sub-space;
once you enter his realm, you cannot leave unless you beat him in a game.
H-Dialer Chris King contended with him in ADVENTURE #490.
In his eighteenth year, Jefferson Michael Pierce participated in the
Olympics and believed that life could never get any better than this. At twenty-two,
he came away from the Decathalon with a gold medal. Surely, this must have
been his fifteen minutes of fame. And then came his twenty-seventh year. And
his twenty-ninth. And at thirty-five ... well, as a child, hed vowed to escape
his Suicide Slum roots but, in his wildest dreams, Jeff Pierce had never imagined
he part of the Presidential Cabinet. Of course, hed never imagined hed be
Black Lightning, either ...
Black Lightning, as related by Tony Isabella in THE COMICS BUYERS GUIDE #921
(1991) and 1093 (1994), had originated in another writers proposal, a character
who, in Isabellas words, was a white bigot in his secret identity. In 1976,
Paul Levitz approached Tony about salvaging the character but Isabella found
the two completed scripts to be so horrendously misguided that he suggested
an entirely new hero. Isabella and penciller Trevor Von Eedons BLACK LIGHTNING
became one of DCs major launches in the first months of 1977 and the first
two issues (plus #6) set up most of the back story.
Born and raised in Metropolis Suicide Slum, Jeff had lost his father when
he was only three, the result of a shooting by an unknown gunman at the grocery
store where he worked. Mom did the best she could to raise me by herself,
he recalled, but it was pretty rough until Peter (Gambi) opened up his (tailor)
shop underneath our apartment. Within a year, Peter was more like a member
of the family than a neighbor ... and it was good to see Mom smile again.
Peter made her an equal partner in his shop. The two of them saw me through
high school two Olympics and a teaching degree from Kent State.
Jeff ended up teaching at a high school in New Carthage but returned to Metropolis
for his mothers funeral. In his time away, Jeff had married and divorced a
young woman named Lynn Stewart. As related in SECRET ORIGINS #26 (1988), Lynn
left because she thought I couldnt get angry enough at least not at
all the terrible things in the world. She said all I ever REALLY cared about
was getting out of this crummy neighborhood and never looking back. Maybe
she was right. Then.
But when I came back for the funeral, I looked around and saw that NOTHING
had changed here. Not a damned thing. It GOT to me for some reason. Dont ask
me to explain it, because I CANT. Maybe I can make a DIFFERENCE this time.
SOMEBODY has to try.
And, indeed, back at his old alma mater of Garfield High School, Jeff quickly
made an impression when he kicked a drug pusher off the premises and followed
suit by humilating three members of the criminal organization known as the
100. In retaliation, the gunmen killed Earl Clifford, one of Pierces students,
and left his corpse in the GHS gymnasium.
A distraught Jeff related the tragedy to Peter Gambi, who urged him to fight
back in a persona that wouldnt invite counter-attacks on his students. Presenting
him with a predominantly blue costume, Peter confessed that I guess I had
this in mind from the minute I received your letter saying you were coming
home. Put it on, Jefferson. These streets the kids they need
a symbol and youre it!
Justice, like lightning should ever appear to some men hope; And to other
men fear. It was a poem written long ago based on words by Thomas Randolph.
A poem that expressed the dual nature of justice. A poem whose meaning had
been lost ... until then. Gambi had remembered the poem. His skills brought
it to life anew.
Equipped with a force-field belt that enabled him to generate lighting bolts,
Black Lightning had been born. Jefferson Pierce played to the eras stereotypical
perception of blacks by affecting a jive-talking speech pattern as Black Lightning
and wearing a mask/wig combination that gave him a big afro, simple devices
that deflected suspicion from a well-educated school-teacher.
Over the course of his first eight issues, Black Lightning carved out a niche
in Metropolis, ultimately gaining the trust of such high-profile figures as
Superman, Inspector William Henderson and reporter Jimmy Olsen. Along the
way, he defeated several super-powered underlings of the100, from Merlyn (#2)
to the Cyclotronic Man (#4-5) to Syonide (#6-7), as well as the gangs gargantuan
albino leader, Tobias Whale (#1-8).
There would be retaliation for Black Lightnings actions but not against Jeff
Pierces students. Rather, it was Peter Gambi who paid the price, leaping in
front of a gun-blast meant for Black Lightning. Stripped of his force-field
belt, the hero seemed destined for a similar fate but, in his fury, Black
Lightning generated its effects from within his own body. In some unknown
manner, hed internalized the electrical power. The confrontation with the
100 had also exposed Peters darkest secret. The support and love that hed
showered on Jeff and Mrs. Pierce had been a kind of penance. He had been the
man whod killed Jeffs father (#7).
A letter from Peter was delivered to the grieving young man at Gambis funeral,
posthumously promising an explanation for his actions. You know, Ive been
staying awake nights trying to figure out WHO Peter was before he came into
my life, Jeff said. I came up blank. I dont know what crimes were in his past
or even how the belt he designed gave me super-powers. But he gave
his life to give me a dream and dreams are hard to find these days.
Tearing the unopened letter to shreds, the young man let the scraps fall over
the broken Earth. Rest in peace, Peter (#8).
Isabella was an advocate of the shared universe of DC comics and peppered
BLACK LIGHTNING with characters and locales that originated elsewhere. Gambi,
for instance, was the brother of 1960s criminal tailor Paul Gambi, who had
debuted in THE FLASH #141 and was named after fan Paul Gambaccini. Suicide
Slum had originated in Joe Simon and Jack Kirbys 1940s Newsboy Legion series
while New Carthage was the locale for Dick Graysons Hudson University. Inspector
Henderson had been a staple of the Superman radio and television shows of
the 1940s and 1950s while Officer Jim Corrigan (no relation to the Spectre)
had appeared in a few early 1970s Jimmy Olsen episodes.
Tonys final issue of the series proved to be #10, which ended with an ominous
hint that Jeffs ex-wife was to become the target of a cult. Lynn Stewart had
been hired as a teacher at Garfield High in #3 and figured out that Jeff was
Black Lightning in #9: Do you HONESTLY think a mask and a wig can fool a woman
whos seen you in your birthday suit? The subplot proved to have been a hastily-written
substitution for the gag feature originally intended to close the issue and
Isabella later admitted that he had no idea where that story thread would
DCs line-wide purge of its weaker titles in the summer of 1978 claimed BLACK
LIGHTNING as one of its victims. It ended in June with #11, Denny ONeils debut
as scripter. Within six months, Black Lightning returned for his most-widely
circulated appearance to date a guest-spot in the nationally-distributed
WORLDS GREATEST SUPER-HEROES comic strip, by Marty Pasko, George Tuska and
Vince Colletta. Over the course of the adventure (running from November 1978
through January 1979), Lightning joined forces with The Batman to investigate
a series of student abductions (including Dick Grayson) and met Superman and
Black Canary before the case had closed.
In comic books, ONeil continued the series in early 1979s WORLDS FINEST #256,
where Green Arrow met Metropolis newest hero and acknowledged him as a kindred
spirit. The story continued over the next two issues with a rematch against
Tobias Whale. ONeils take on Black Lightning continued with stories in #259
and 260 that had originally been intended for BLACK LIGHTNING #13 and 12,
respectively, and closed with #261.
September of 1979 saw three separate Black Lightning appearances, including
his regular WORLDS FINEST spot in #260 and aguest appearance in JLA #173,
the first of a two-parter wherein he was nominated for League membership and
rejected the honor. Most significant in retrospect was his ONeil-scripted
team-up with Superman in DC COMICS PRESENTS #16. The catalyst of the story
was a girl named Trina Shelton who was shot and killed by a stray bullet during
an altercation between Lightning and muggers. The balance of the episode dealt
with the heroes battling Trinas boyfriend, a magnetic refugee from outer space
whom Lightning defeated by pushing his electrical field to the limit.
The first half of 1980 saw Lightnings series revived for a Marty Pasko-scripted
two-parter in DETECTIVE #490-491 that recast Jeff Pierce as a high school
coach and stripped him of his powers in an accident. Jeff had resumed his
teaching position in J.M. DeMatteis subsequent pair of scripts (#494, 495)
but the loss of Black Lightnings powers had stuck. Between issues, the depowered
Lightning also crossed paths with Batman in THE BRAVE & THE BOLD #163
(by Paul Kupperberg and Dick Giordano) and left the Dark Knight admitting
that I AM impressed.
It fell to Mike W. Barr to revive Jeff Pierce some three years later, picking
up on the Batman connection and the DC COMICS PRESENTS story as part of 1983s
BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #1 and 2. Hoping to rescue his friend Lucius Fox
from war-torn Markovia, the Dark Knight recruited Jeff to infiltrate the country,
posing as Foxs brother. Inevitably, he was forced to become Black Lightning
and ended up being captured alongside Batman. Ignoring the short-lived DETECTIVE
run, Barr had Lightning reveal that hed lost his powers after Trina Sheltons
death. Convinced that the loss was psychological, the Dark Knight began to
verbally prod at him and brought Jeffs electrical powers back to life once
The next four years saw a new confidence envelop Black Lightning, as he forged
new friends with the Outsiders, found a teaching post at Gotham Citys Edison
High (BATO #4, 6), gained a bit of closure in Trina Sheltons death after a
confrontation with her parents (BATO #9-10), revisited the Olympics (BATO
#14-15) and even had an amicable reunion with Lynn Stewart, (OUTSIDERS (first
series) #4, 9-14), now the president of a public relations firm.
By the end of 1987, though, the Outsiders were disbanded (OUTSIDERS #28)
and Jeff was settling into a teaching job in yet another city (SECRET ORIGINS
#26). The end of 1988 saw Black Lightnings powers go berserk upon the detonation
of the Dominators Gene-bomb (INVASION! #3) and Jeff could no longer deny that
the power was PART of me there was no doubting it any longer. It had
been given to me for a REASON. Reflecting on his newfound goals in 1995s BLACK
LIGHNING #5, he explained that hed moved to the so-called Brick City, a neighborhood
in his fathers hometown. I knew I couldnt save the world but I COULD
save one neighborhood and maybe even the FUTURE.
1992s WHO WHO #16 hinted that a new Black Lightning series was in the offing
with an entry that included a never-seen-again costume illustrated by Mark
Bright. The book wouldnt come to fruition until Tony Isabella made a triumphant
return to his creation in 1995, now paired with artist Eddy Newell. The official
new costume included a red and black jacket and lighting coursing between
the heros eyes, eliminating the need for a mask.
Isabella and Newells reality-based series hoped to emphasize genuine political
and social concerns even as metahuman threats such as Painkiller (BLACK LIGHTNING
#2-4) presented themselves. The ongoing menace of a gang known as the Royal
Family figured into a school shooting at the end of #4 that left Jeff critically
wounded and one of his best friends, teacher Walter Kasko, dead. The introspective
Blowed Away in issue #5 dealt with Jeffs physical and emotional recovery,
as he tried to come to grips with his career as Black Lightning and the deaths
of so many along the way.
In addition to Kasko, the new series had also introduced a number of other
new players to the cast, notably student Lamar Henderson, an informant nicknamed
Beagle, police contact Tommy Colavito and new love interest Gail Harris.
An editorial flap resulted in Isabella and Newell leaving the book after
issue #8 and the series, now in the hands of writer David DeVries, soon collapsed.
The final serial (#11-13) found Batman renewing his ties with Lightning to
help clear him of charges that he was a serial killer. Once the furor had
died down, Isabella and Newell returned to Lightning for a striking black
and white episode in Christmas 1997s DCU HOLIDAY BASH II.
In the three years since then, Black Lightning has made no more than a handful
of appearances, working with the Outsiders in Markovia during a Hellish eruption
of demons (DAY OF JUDGMENT #4) and serving with the Justice League Reserves
in the midst of other disasters (JLA #27, 41). His efforts during the Mageddon
crisis, in particular, were critical as he taxed his abilities like never
before, attempting to tap the electrical field of the planet (#41).
Youve accomplished so many things, helped so many people and you weigh
yourself down with the times you DIDNT succeed, the ones you COULDNT help.
Stop denying what you ARE, Jeff. Youre a good man and then some. Youre a super-hero
just as REAL as they come in a world thats damn hard on HEROES. You
havent made compromises, youve made CHOICES ... and theyve been the RIGHT
choices for you. This city and all the OTHER cities like it
its where your HEART is. Superman and those others God bless em
they can save the world every WEEK. You can make it a BETTER world. Dont you
KNOW how special you are?
The words that Lynn spoke to Jeff as he recovered from his bullet wounds
in BLACK LIGHTNING #5 echo back as he makes one of the biggest choices of
his life. Will serving on President Luthors Cabinet give Jeff the resources
to make a better world? Or, as in Markovia, is he serving as one of The Batmans
agents? In the distance, you can hear the sound of thunder.
I recall Blackrock's first appearances in SUPERMAN and ACTION COMICS but
don't have his final appearances in SUPERMAN FAMILY (where I believe he clashed
with Supergirl) so someone else will have to fill that one out.
In the 70s-80s, the television industry was a major influence on the Superman
books. At the time, Clark Kent was a nationally-recognized TV newscaster and
many stories dealt with TV industry-related themes including thinly-disguised
versions of Johnny Carson and Rona Barrett.
Blackrock, who premiered in ACTION #458-459, was perhaps the epitome of the
TV milieu that Superman was set in. He was not one person but was actually
different people in his various appearances.
It seems that Samuel Tanner, president of UBC broadcasting was angry that
Morgan Edge's WGBS was beating him at the ratings, partly due to all the Superman-related
scoops that WGBS gets.
So, he orders his head scientist, Dr. Peter Silverstone to come up
with UBC's own superhero. The poor scientist, who is definitely a total drone
to his boss, complies by creating Blackrock.
Blackrock had a green and purple costume with no sign of any black on it.
(Shades of the Blue Rajah.) His weapon was a television antenna that he could
use to redirect TV and radio waves into power blasts and various other uses.
Blackrock tried to upstage Superman as the new hero of Metropolis but he
was really more of a pest, endangering himself and innocents. He talked in
TV-lingo (... "the pause that refreshes..") that seems rather dated
now. His identity was a secret, even to Tanner.
Eventually Superman discovers that Blackrock is Tanner. Silverstone decided
that only Tanner had the courage, drive and initiative to become UBC's superhero.
So he hypnotized his boss and turned him into Blackrock. (Silverstone was
suppose to be a genius but he comes off as a soft-spoken weirdo. If I hypnotized
my boss, I certainly would not turn him into a superhero.)
After a short battle, Superman straightens Blackrock out and Tanner goes
back to normal, totally unaware of his dual identity.
In SUPERMAN #315, Tanner forces Silverstone to come up with a new Blackrock.
This time, the character is actually armed with a black rock instead of a
TV antenna. And his secret identity is comedian Les Vegas, who is both
a thinly-disguised version of Chevy Chase and nephew of Tanner. After some
problem with mixed identities and a three-page Superman vs. Chevy Chase battle,
the man of steel wins again and once again, Blackrock vanishes from the memory
of his alter ego.
Finally, in SUPERMAN #325-326, Tanner decides that it is fruitless trying
to create a new superhero to compete with Superman. So instead, he tries to
'steal' Superman from WGBS. Silverstone devises a weapon that hypnotizes Superman
so he agrees to reveal his secret identity, live on UBC. This time, Blackrock
is merely an energy construct, used to wield the weapon to control Superman's
mind. Not surprisingly, Superman outsmarts Tanner and leaves the angry network
chief with egg on his face.
I don't know about his appearances after that although I believe Blackrock
could be seen standing in the background in one of those mass supervillain
Now that Clark Kent's TV background has been wiped from continuity, Blackrock
doesn't really fit in with the new Superman. A pity, since he was quite a
good device for satirizing the TV industry. The names Tanner and Silverstone
sound a lot like Turner and Silverman and I believe "Blackrock"
is the nickname for the building that houses CBS.
Too bad. If not for John Byrne, we might now be reading about a hypnotized
David Letterman fighting Superman.
In JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA #43 (October 1990), a new Blackrock appeared fighting
the League together with Black Mass, Crowbar, Brainstorm, the Cavalier, and
I'm not sure, but I think that Blackrock was later one of the villains who
got their weaponry absorbed by the Replicant in the pages of FLASH.
a.k.a. Elizabeth Thorn, this bloodthirsty female vigilante first appeared
in VIGILANTE #45. She linked up with Adrian Chase, both professionally and
romantically, until Chase apparently committed suicide in VIGILANTE #50. She
then spent some time working with Checkmate, but ultimately left that group
as well. She was last seen in YOUNG JUSTICE, as a member of the Zandian Olympics
Once upon a time, there was a world where costumed men and women dressed
in colorful costumes took to the streets and fought crime. The heroes flourished
in the 1940s but their numbers had dwindled by the 1970s. Their hair had turned
gray and one of the greatest of their generation The Batman
had died (1978s ADVENTURE COMICS #462). A relative handful of heroes
including the Huntress, daughter of the Dark Knight stood poised to
Its one thing to read about crime in the newspaper but its quite another
to experience it first hand. Such was the case with Charles Bullock, a young
African American lawyer recently added to the roster of Gotham Citys Cranston,
Grayson and Wayne in 1981 (WONDER WOMAN #281-284, by Paul Levitz, Joe Staton
and Steve Mitchell). When a super-villain named Karnage attacked the law offices
in search of senior partner Arthur Cranston, Bullock rushed forward to oppose
the intruder only to be swatted away like a fly (#286-287, by Levitz, Staton
and Bruce Patterson).
Karnage was soon brought to justice by The Huntress (secretly Helena Wayne,
another partner in the firm) and Arthur Cranston tried to assure Charles that
he had nothing to be ashamed of. Youre a lawyer, he said, not a bouncer. The
young man was not appeased, however. I have some heavy thinking to do ...
about the way Karnages attack is going to CHANGE my life (WW #289). Digging
through the firms library, Charles found a fairly complete file on The Huntress
in the clippings. Good. I wonder if it has everything I NEED ... (WW #290,
by Levitz, Staton and Mike DeCarlo).
Levitzs plans for Charles Bullock were never realized and it fell to his
successor, Joey Cavalieri, to resolve the subplot in the latter half of 1982.
The Huntressepisode in WW #297 opened with Charles witnessing a pair of hoods
harrassing a local grocer. What can we do about it? the old man asked. Were
too small to fight them. In the old days, there was The Batman, God rest his
soul. He was there to PROTECT people like us. Saw to it slime like that didnt
get into the neighborhood. But now, who STANDS up for people like us? What
can we do ...? For Charles Bullock, it was a call to arms.
The following evening, a bat-scalloped shadow fell over the thugs, momentarily
stopping them and a concealed Huntress in their tracks. The
source of the shadow was a man in a variation of The Batmans costume
light blue replacing the gray, a more stylized bat chest emblem and utility
belt, yellow bands around his wrists and calves and a sharply arched yellow-tipped
face mask that evoked bat-ears in silhouette. His dark blue cape functioned
as a hang-glider. Stand back! he commanded. NONE may threaten the people of
this city while Blackwing stands!
Unhappily, Blackwing was grounded almost immediately when one of the thugs
partially shredded his cape/glider. The would-be hero was beaten into unconsciousness
and unmasked. Watching from a distance, the Huntress recognized Charles instantly
(WW #297, art by Staton and Sal Trapani).
Blackwing was presented to the mastermind behind the gang, a snake charmer
of sorts named the Boa. The Huntress crashed the party and was left to the
mercies of a boa constrictor as the villains made their exit. Blackwing, whod
been feigning unconsciousness, used a dagger to slash the serpent and free
the Huntress (WW #298-299, art by Staton and Frank McLaughlin).
I was a top notch lawyer, he explained, but that only gave me a ring-side
seat as I watched criminals slide through the revolving door of justice. I
felt the need to do something MORE something lasting! My hero had always
been The Batman. The heart of this town nearly quit beating altogether when
he died. But then The Huntress swung into action and I knew in my guts
that if SHE could do it I could, too! (WW #298)
Maybe it was stupid but I became Blackwing to be that symbol for people again
... to restore their pride in Gotham ... and SPUR them to take charge of this
city once more. I tried to THINK the way The Batman would. I had the presence
of mind to keep my miniature tape recorder in my utility belt running ever
since I was kidnapped.
Evidence! The Huntress exclaimed. Good work, Charley. Well nail them YET.
You wouldve made The Batman very proud, Charley. Youve certainly made ME proud.
The daughter of The Batman captured the Boa and his gang that night (WW #299)
but Charles never took to the sky as Blackwing again.
And, yet, history may yet see the Bullock name enshrined as a costumed hero.
A Gotham youngster named Charlie Bullock, possibly a namesake cousin of Charles,
had crossed paths with Wildcat three years earlier on a late winters evening
in 1979. Charlie proved to be a natural fighter and helped the Justice Society
member take down a quartet of muggers.
Wildcat realized that kids like Charlie could achieve great things with a
little positive reinforcement. Pulling off his mask, Ted Grant introduced
himself to Charlie and decided, in that moment, that he would leave his JSA
responsibilities to become a mentor to any of the youth in Gotham that he
could help. Announcing his leave of absence, Ted noted that SOMEONEs gotta
start worrying where the NEXT generation of super-heroes is coming from(ADVENTURE
COMICS #464, by Levitz and Staton). Will Charlie Bullock return as the Blackwing
of the current DC Universe? Only time and future issues of JSA
Another of the Master's clone-slaves, from the Dial H For Hero series in
NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERBOY #36-37.
The Blade Master
Although this was another Dial H For Hero villain, from ADVENTURE #482, he
wasn't one of the Master's clone-slaves. Instead, this freelance killer worked
for the H.I.V.E.. Still hasn't been seen since his debut, though.
Yet another of the Master's clone-slaves to fight the H-Dialers.
Bob the Galactic Bum
Bob the Galactic Bum was, for lack of a better description, W.C. Fields
(or, for you Superman fans, J. Wilbur Wolfingham) in space. With a bulbous
red nose, battered top hat and ample belly, Bob moved from port to port, putting
his own uniquely loquacious spin on every successive hardship that he and
his comrade Buck Fifty encountered. Buck, who possessed a nose of Muppet-like
dimensions had a vocabulary that consisted of the phrase "What?"
In the course of 1995's four-part BOB THE GALACTIC BUM series (by Alan Grant
& John Wagner and Carlos Ezquera), Bob and Buck became the only survivors
of a Khund raid on a space cruiser save for Chazza, the so-called "idiot
prince" of the planet Gazza. While Lobo (prominently featured on each
cover) and Stealth searched for Chazza on behalf of the R.E.B.E.L.S., Bob
made his way to the world of Gnulp, insulting and mocking Chazza's claims
of royalty for the entire trip. Only at the conclusion of #2 did the bum realize
Helping Chazza from the pig sty where he'd left him, Bob explained that it
had all been a test. "Had I helped you had I lifted ONE FINGER
of assistance as was my deep desire, I can assure you you would
have been INSTANTLY DISQUALIFIED and barred for life!" Proclaiming Chazza
a "Knight of Space," Bob presented the prince with a "beautifully
inscribed medal" bearing the phrase "Eat my shorts."
"What does it mean?"
"It's CODE, sire! All will be revealed in one year's time on the anniversary
of this initiation."
Bob cemented his relationship with Chazza when he met the prince's guru and
challenged "this charlatan to a philosophical debate." As the staredown
commenced, Bob explained that "we're conducting this battle on a higher
plane. Mind against mind. I'm grappling with him now. One of my theories has
just overwhelmed several of his suppositions. Stand by for further news."
Predicting that the guru was "verging on total collapse," Bob distracted
Chazza and knocked his opponent out cold.
Unfortunately, Bob did too good of a job. Chazza regained the throne but
promptly abdicated, moved by Bob's "sacrifice" at giving up the
freedom of space for life in a kingdom. "We'll roam the cosmos together,
the three of us,"predicted Chazza. "Tumbleweeds adrift on the winds
"I should've trusted my first instinct!" Bob moaned. "He's
a king, all right King Piker!"
Bomba The Jungle Boy
BOMBA: THE CHILDREN'S BOOKS
The Stratemeyer Syndicate produced this 20 volume series from 1926 through
1938. They were written by ghostwriters using the pseudonym "Roy Rockwood".
The first ten Bomba the Jungle Boy books tell of his South American adventures
and his quest for the discovery of his origins. The second set of ten books
take Bomba on adventures set in different locales.
These books were originally released by Grosset & Dunlap from 1926 through
1938. Through the 30's and 40's, they re-issued the series in a number of
different formats. The first ten were then re-issued again as a set in 1953.
Also in 1953, Clover Books, an imprint of McLoughlin Brothers, marketed the
first half of the Bomba titles in a picture cover format. In 1978, Grosset
& Dunlap re-issued the first two volumes.
#1 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY; or, The Old Naturalist's Secret (1926) "Separated
from his parents since childhood, a young boy, who has been brought up in
the jungle by an old naturalist, begins the long search for his true identity."
After Bomba saves the lives of two American rubber hunters, they
inquire about this teen-aged boy who lives in the Amazon jungles. This
sets Bomba to thinking about who is he and how he had come to the jungle.
When his guardian, the old naturalist Cody Casson, gives him a clue as
to the identity of his father and mother, Bomba sets off to solve the mystery
of his past.
#2 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AT THE MOVING MOUNTAIN; or, The Mystery of the
Caves of Fire (1926) "Bomba sets out on a dangerous journey to find
the medicine man who can tell him the secret of his origins."
Fourteen year-old Bomba travels many miles through the jungle, and has
many encounters with wild beasts and hostile natives. At last, he reaches
the Andes Mountains and trails an old man to his caves of fire, learning
a little more about his past.
#3 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AT THE GIANT CATARACT; or, Chief Nascanora and
his Captives (1926) "Bomba treks through the Amazon jungle to the
Island of Snakes to find an old witch who may know the secret of his origins."
Bomba travels to the Giant Cataract, still searching for the secrets
of his past. Among the Pilati Indians, he finds an aged woman who had at
one time been a great operatic singer. She is the first to give Bomba some
real information about his parents.
#4 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY ON JAGUAR ISLAND; or, Adrift on the River of
Mystery (1927) ??
#5 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY IN THE ABANDONED CITY; or, A Treasure Ten Thousand
Years Old (1927) ??
#6 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY ON TERROR TRAIL; or, The Mysterious Men from
the Sky (1928) ??
#7 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY IN THE SWAMP OF DEATH; or, The Sacred Alligators
of Abarago (1929) ??
#8 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AMONG THE SLAVES; or, Daring Adventures in the
Valley of the Skulls (1929) ??
#9 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY ON THE UNDERGROUND RIVER; or, The Cave of Bottomless
Pits (1930) ??
#10 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AND THE LOST EXPLORERS; or, A Wonderful Revelation
(1930) Bomba's quest to learn the truth about his parents concludes.
#11 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY IN A STRANGE LAND; or, Facing the Unknown (1931)
#12 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AMONG THE PYGMIES; or, Battling with Stealthy
Foes (1931) ??
#13 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AND THE CANNIBALS; or, Winning Against Native
Dangers (1932) ??
#14 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AND THE PAINTED HUNTERS; or, A Long Search Rewarded
#15 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AND THE RIVER DEMONS; or, Outwitting the Savage
Medicine Man (1933) ??
#16 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY AND THE HOSTILE CHIEFTAIN; or, A Hazardous Trek
to the Sea (1934) ??
#17 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY TRAPPED BY THE CYCLONE; or, Shipwrecked on the
Swirling Seas (1935) ??
#18 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY IN THE LAND OF BURNING LAVA; or, Outwitting
Superstitious Natives (1936) ??
#19 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY IN THE PERILOUS KINGDOM; or, Braving Strange
Hazards (1937) ??
#20 BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY IN THE STEAMING GROTTO; or, Victorious Through
Flame and Fury (1938) ??
BOMBA: THE MOVIES
In 1949, producer Walter Mirisch began a series of low-budget adventure films
based on the popular Bomba story books. He hired Johnny Sheffield, who had
played Boy in the Tarzan films, to play the teen-aged jungle boy. There were
eight films produced by Mirisch for Monogram between 1949 and 1952, and four
more produced by Ford Beebe for Allied Artists between 1953 and 1955.
BOMBA, THE JUNGLE BOY (1949) Photographer George Harland, and his
daughter Pat, arrive in the African jungle to film the exotic wildlife. They
are guided by an old friend, Andy Barnes. Pat and her gun-bearer Mufti explore
the region called the Great Rift. When Mufti is killed by a leopard, a jungle
boy named Bomba appears and kills the dangerous animal. Later that night,
Bomba makes an attempt to contact Harland regarding his daughter's whereabouts,
but he is wounded when the frantic photographer fires at the jungle boy. Pat
accompanies the injured Bomba to his home, a cave overlooking a peaceful jungle
paradise. Harland and Barnes, who believe that Bomba has kidnapped Pat, track
the jungle boy, but are soon attacked by angry natives. Bomba and Pat arrive,
and the youth saves the men from the fierce warriors. Harland discovers that
Bomba was raised by an aged naturalist named Cody Casson, who has since died.
Although he is offered passage back to civilization, Bomba prefers to remain
with his jungle friends.
BOMBA ON PANTHER ISLAND (1949) Bomba battles a deadly black panther
and superstitious natives.
THE LOST VOLCANO (1950) Bomba battles people searching for buried
THE HIDDEN CITY (1950) a.k.a. Bomba And The Hidden City Bomba
aides a jungle orphan, who is revealed to be a princess.
THE LION HUNTERS (1951) Bomba attempts to stop a hunting expedition
from slaughtering lions on sacred Masai land.
BOMBA AND THE ELEPHANT STAMPEDE (1951) a.k.a. The Elephant Stampede
Bomba combats ivory poachers.
BOMBA AND THE JUNGLE GIRL (1952) With Cody Casson's diary as a
starting point, Bomba starts on a quest to discover the true identity of
his parents. While on his way to Gamboso's village seeking information
about his parents, Bomba rescues Linda Ward from a crocodile. The girl's
father is visiting the village to assess the living conditions for the
government. A blind native woman named Linasi informs Bomba that his parents
were killed by Gamboso's followers and were buried in a cave in the hills.
Before she can point the way, she is killed by a poisoned dart fired by
Boru, Gamboso's daughter. Bomba is then bound and taken back to the village
to be turned over to Ward for the murder. Linda forces his release, and
intends to investigate Bomba's claims regarding his parents. Gamboso sends
Boru and her warriors to stop the Wards. After ordering her men to torch
the jungle, Boru herself becomes trapped by the fire. Bomba and Linda find
and rescue Boru, however their only safety lies in a nearby cave. It is
there that Bomba discovers the evidence needed to convict Gamboso. Boru
tries to kill Bomba and Linda, but after a brief struggle, she runs out
of the cave and perishes in the flames. Gamboso is arrested and Linasi's
son, Kokoli, is promoted to chief. Bomba returns home, satisfied that justice
has been done.
SAFARI DRUMS (1953) Bomba and his animal friends combat a murderous
THE GOLDEN IDOL (1954) Bomba recovers a priceless Watusi statue
stolen by evil Arabs.
KILLER LEOPARD (1954) Bomba guides a Hollywood starlet through
the jungle in search of her missing husband.
LORD OF THE JUNGLE (1955) Bomba tries to track down a rogue elephant.
BOMBA: THE COMIC BOOKS
From mid-1967 through mid-1968, National Periodicals Publications, Inc. (later
DC Comics) published seven bi-monthly comic books based on the adventures
of the young jungle boy. They reprinted two of the tales in 1974, but changed
the character's name to Simba to avoid copyright infringement.
BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY
#1 (Sep-Oct 1967) "The Jaws Of Doom" Bomba lives in the
Amazon jungles of South America. His companions include Doto the spider monkey
and Tiki the parrot. Bomba is described as "a white boy, lost in the
wilderness as a baby and reared by a scientist explorer, Cody Casson".
His faithful friend Gibo brings him news of an attack by the warriors of
Jojasta on a party of explorers. Jojasta is an evil medicine man with whom
Bomba has clashed before. Jojasta, and a traitor amongst the explorers,
are stopped from stealing a treasure from the Incan temple of Xamza.
#2 (Nov-Dec 1967) "The Phantom City Of Death!" The archeologist
Prof. Wilson, and his daughter, had hoped to find the legendary City of
Gold. His daughter is captured by the warriors of Buo-Buo. While rescuing
the girl, Bomba encounters the last tribe of the ancient Incas.
#3 (Jan-Feb 1968) "My Enemy ... The Jungle!" A garbed
man claiming to be Viracocha, an ancient god of the Incas, enters the jungle
village of San Topa, demanding to rule it's people. Chief Atachi courageously
steps forward to oppose him, but is attacked. His daughter, Tina, seeks
Bomba's aid. Bomba battles sentient plant-men, eventually learning that
they have been tricked by the human posing as Viracocha.
#4 (Mar-Apr 1968) "The Deadly Sting Of Ana Conda!" Tina
contacts Bomba when the village of Panqui is destroyed by Ana Conda and
his Snakeskin Warriors. Bomba must contend with Tina's temporary loss of
memory as he defeats the killers.
#5 (May-Jun 1968) "Tampu Loves Bomba Dies!" Bomba
and Tina travel to a village deep in the rain forest which worships a statue
of the evil god Tampu. The statue soon comes to life and threatens the
people. Bomba discovers that the medicine man Manco is actually a white
man who is using the mechanical statue to gain access to the oil on the
#6 (Jul-Aug 1968) untitled Hundreds of thousands of years ago,
the people of a South American city engaged in many bizarre experiments.
One experiment released a deadly vapor which killed all but the tyrant
Krag and his six bodyguards, who escaped but soon fell into a deep state
of suspended animation. Over the millennia, the jungles covered the ancient
city. Then, one day, Krag is again freed. Bomba battles the tyrant, who
wishes to use his power to rebuild his wicked city. After killing Bomba's
friend Jobo, Krag flees. Bomba vows to find Krag and make him pay for what
he has done.
#7 (Sep-Oct 1968) "Nightmare!" Two people search for and
locate Bomba, informing him that they will be returning the jungle boy to
civilization whether he wants to go or not. When they show him a number of
photos, he recognizes Krag's handiwork in one of them, and agrees to go with
them. Before they depart, Bomba is forced to dress in more "proper"
attire. When they reach the city, they discover that the residents have
been driven insane. Krag has poisoned the water supply. Bomba again stops
the evil tyrant, who once again flees. Bomba then returns to his jungle
#230 (Apr-May 1974) Reprints BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY #4. Bomba is
renamed Simba the Jungle Boy.
#231 (Jun-Jul 1974) Reprints BOMBA THE JUNGLE BOY #3. Bomba is
renamed Simba the Jungle Boy.
The Bombardiers were Curly McGurk, Swordo and the lovely Red Rogers.
In POLICE COMICS #21, they were provided with explosive powers by the Human
Bomb and joined in a series of raids on the Japanese army in mid-1943 (#21-22).
With #23, the Bomb was back in the States and we never did learn what happened
to his partners.
Jim Boone and Bob Colby
Highway patrolmen Bob Colby and Jim Boone helped the alien
manhunter Klee Pan thwart the Faceless Creature From Saturn on three occasions
between 1960 and 1963 (STRANGE ADVENTURES #124, 142 and 153) and were rewarded
with telepathic powers that they chose to conceal for future strategic value.
The planet Molanto was ruled by a tyrant known as Bork, who wanted to conquer the entire galaxy rather than just his planet. He laid plans to invade the planet Rann, sending Tyron, who was his most powerful warrior. Unfortunately, Tyron was discovered and executed by Rannian security forces as a spy. A wizard on Rann named Mordorh wanted to study the Molantan, as the warrior died in a very strange manner. Molantans, when they die, pass over to another dimension known as the Netherworld, and Mordorh speculated that if a person could reach that dimension, they could revive the dead.
Other Molantan spies brought back that information to Bork, who immediately attempted to revive Tyron. The attempt was more successful than Bork had imagined, as Tyron was now nearly invincible and totally obedient to the tyrant's commands. The discovery also caught the attention of the great Darkseid on Apokolips, finding it to be close to the Anti-Life Equation that he had long been searching for. Bork's agents told him that the process required each resurrection to have a host body, and that Mordorh had the formula key to access the Netherworld. Bork went to Rann with his Black Council to get the formula. Their invasion was ended by the efforts of Adam Strange, the hero from Earth. Adam and Mordorh used a combination of science and sorcery to get rid of the formula, using a Zeta-Beam (which Adam normally used to travel between Earth and Rann) to send the tablet with the formula to Earth, and also sent it back in time.
Bork and his forces set up operations on Earth's moon, and began sending his agents back in time to look for the tablet. He also started testing the resurrection process on dead Earth people, using dead movie stars (including Humphrey Bogart and W.C. Fields), thinking that they wouldn't cause much of a stir on the planet. At the same time, the Guardians of the Universe began making plans to stop him, believing that the situation called for them to take more than a passive role for once. Bork also set up operations on the fifteenth floor of the Galaxy Communications Building, as his ever-increasing dimensional powers allowed him to inhabit the same space as a travel agency without the occupants being aware they were there.
The Guardians allowed a young intern at the Daily Planet, Floyd Perkins, to see the aliens in the travel agency, hoping this would draw Superman into the fray. That didn't, but the resurrection of another Molantan outside the building did, and the Guardians telepathically told Superman of the creature's one weakness, which was that extremely low air pressure sucked the Molantan "demon" from it's host body.
In the meantime, Bork had succeeded in finding the tablet with Mordorh's formula and planned to replace the Earth with Netherworld so he would have a mighty army of slaves to conquer the rest of the universe. The Guardians then contacted Kaz, the chief admiral of Molanto for help. He agreed, and also managed to lure several other of Earth's super-heroes into the battle (including Batman) with some fake clues. He then created a fake alien invasion to rally Earth's defenses together, which would in turn be used against Bork's invasion.
As this was happening, the effects of Bork's "demons" traveling through time were beginning to be felt in the present, and the Guardians again interceded on Earth's behalf, sending numerous heroes into different time periods (including Darwin Jones, Detective Chimp, Adam Strange, Uncle Sam, Thunderbolt, and Jimmy Olsen) where they might be able to right things, but the side effects of Bork's search began to create bizarre alternate realities, including one in which the Nazis had won the second World War.
The fabric of reality was beginning to weaken substantially, and Bork was ready to start the merger of Netherworld and Earth, when Darkseid appeared and told him that, in fact, he was responsible for weakening the space-time continuum. Bork reminded him that it was he who had located Mordorh's formula and that they could share the universe, but of course, Darkseid does not share. He destroyed Bork with a powerful energy blast from his eyes (though it did not appear to be his Omega Effect).
DC Challenge #1-3, 8-12
Hal Jordan, super-villain. If you want a phrase guaranteed to generate controversy
among Green Lantern fans, that's the one to use. And yet, back in 1966, Hal's
own Uncle Titus was suggesting that very thing.
Multi-millionaire architect Titus Thomas Jordan was "far and away the
richest member of the Jordan clan," complete with "his own private
airfield and golf course," a butler named Givens and a chauffeur
named Williams. Unfortunately, the public also regarded T.T. as the meanest
member of the family, joking that "the initials stand for 'Terrible Temper'
Titus approached his nephew with the challenge of using Jim Jordan's new
public relations agency to correct his image as an ogre. Unknown to the young
man, however, Titus had also been enlisted by Jim's wife, Susan, to prove
that her husband was Green Lantern. "If a nephew of mine is really Green
Lantern," he thought, "I want to know it. They can't keep secrets
like THAT from ME!"
At a family gathering at his estate that weekend, Titus hosted Sue, Jim and
brothers Jack and Hal for a reunion. With Jim escorted to the library to select
photographs for his uncle's promotional campaign, Titus laid out the plan
for the rest of the family. "I've created one of those super-criminals
that Green Lantern is always fighting, complete with a snazzy uniform. One
of us will pose as this phony criminal and I've decided it will be
"ME? But I'm er not the type."
"DAD BLAST IT! Are you going to spoil everything now by arguing with
Hal finally agreed but he blanched when he saw what he was supposed to wear.
The costume of the Bottler was in shades of light and dark orange and
the bottle motif was everywhere, from stems on the gloves and boots to icons
on his chest and cowl to miniature flasks on the belt. Hal's reaction had
nothing to do with the design, though. As Green Lantern (the REAL one), he'd
crossed paths with the supposedly imaginary villain on the previous night.
When he interrupted the Bottler's warehouse heist, GL discovered that each
flask on his belt contained a different threat, from explosives used to open
a safe to knockout gas that rendered the Emerald Gladiator unconscious. Hal
realized that playing along with Uncle Titus' game might flush out the real
Bottler and he headed for the library to "'break in' and start 'robbing.'"
Intent on his mission, Hal never saw the weighted bottle coming for his head
and collapsed to the ground. "We can do without YOU in this plot,"
observed his assailant. "Why use a FAKE Bottler when the REAL ONE is
ready for action!"
Elsewhere, Jim told Sue that he'd already figured out what she and Titus
were up to and strolled off to talk to the man he saw climbing in a window.
Tapping the prowler on the shoulder, a smiling Jim said, "Hold it! I
know who you are." The Bottler grabbed him by the jacket and pulled back
his arm even as the young man laughed. "Oh, stop the pretense, Hal. I
know you wouldn't lay a finger on me !"
"Not a finger but my whole fist, chump!"
So much for Jim.
Inside, Titus handed over his collection of stamp rarities to "Hal,"complaining
that his decision to tie him and Jack to their chairs was "going too
far!" Green Lantern, sporting a nice goose-egg on the back on his head,
agreed and flew into the room to wrap things up. After smothering one of the
rogue's flask explosives in an energy sphere, Hal fired an enormous projectile
at his foe. "One way to deal with a human bottle is by a giant
bowling ball. And I claim a STRIKE!"
The unmasked thief was exposed as Titus' driver Williams. "He learned
of the imaginary criminal you created, Mr. Jordan," GL speculated, "so
he decided to put your idea into actual practice. He became the Bottler in
real life. I guess he was fed up being a chauffeur. No doubt he thought he
saw an easy road to riches but it only turned out to be a path to jail."
While Green Lantern hauled the Bottler off to jail, his bruised brother was
receiving virtually no sympathy from his wife. Sue was convinced that Jim
had faked being struck and slipped off to become the Emerald Crusader. "And
that ice bag. As if YOU needed it!"
Even if his bride wasn't convinced, Jim believed he could use his uncle's
embarrassment over the incident to prevent Titus from arguing with his solution
to his publicity woes. "The truth is, Uncle Titus, that you DO have a
terrible temper. And you'll never get the public to like you unless you can
The p.r. man let out a sigh of relief when Titus responded. "James,
you're the first one who ever had the courage to tell me that to my face!
And you know something, I think you've done me a good turn. I'm going to double
your fee. And I am going to control my temper you watch" (GREEN
LANTERN #44, by John Broome, Gil Kane and Sid Greene).
Whatever his intentions, Titus never quite triumphed over his temper, at
least at family gatherings (1969's GL #71 and 1992's GL #36). Susan Williams
Jordan, though, finally acquiesced to reality and gave up on the emerald theory
about her husband (1977's GL #101). As for Williams (no relation to Sue),
one presumes that the Bottler is still on a shelf in a California prison.
The Bounty Hunter I
While investigating the case of a murder (Walter Briscoe was thrown out of
a skyscraper) Batman discovered a list of six names of prospective victims
(as well as getting some information from one of his stoolies), and decided
that the Bounty Hunter was back in town on an extended contract. Batman believed
that the list named the hitman's victims. The final two names on the list
were Sapphire Stagg and Bruce Wayne. After a warning from Batman, billionaire
scientist Simon Stagg awoke Rex Mason, also known as Metamorpho the Element
Man, from the chemical bath that he had been soaking in for several years
in hopes of curing his freakish condition. Metamorpho was angry with Stagg,
but when Stagg told him the situation, he agreed that Stagg's daughter needed
protection. While she was glad to see her lover again, Sapphire didn't want
to be pinned down by anyone, not even with Batman's warning. Meanwhile, Batman
and Commissioner Gordon had been trying to warn and offer protection to the
other people on the Bounty Hunter's list. Unfortunately, while Batman was
watching financier Harlan Twiss at a boxing match, the Bounty Hunter took
out Mrs. Emmaline Van Prell, with a sabotaged hair dryer. Batman could not
find a link between any of the victims, besides their obvious wealth.
Batman was making himself visible around Gotham City that evening as Bruce
Wayne, hoping to lure the Bounty Hunter out after him instead of one of the
other potential victims. Sapphire Stagg was also out, having escaped her house
(and Metamorpho). After a brief and profitable run at an illegal crap table,
a man who wanted to shake her hand accosted Sapphire. His hand and arm came
off in her hand, causing the lovely blonde to faint. Luckily, Metamorpho had
tracked her down and enveloped the fake arm with his body, which exploded.
Once again however, Sapphire gave him the slip, as she was getting a real
kick out of being pursued both by Rex and a killer. Meanwhile, Stagg
alerted Batman of the attempt on Sapphire's life. Batman decided that since
Metamorpho was guarding her and the police were guarding the remaining people
on the Bounty Hunter's list, he could take the evening off to keep an appointment
in the country that Alfred reminded him of.
Sapphire Stagg arrived at the Fairbairn estate, where she was met by the
brothers Conrad and Derwent Fairbairn. They were selling the estate to consolidate
their finances, and one of the stipulations was that all of the bidders had
to be present when the sealed bids were opened at midnight that evening. Derwent
showed Sapphire the house, and shortly afterward Bruce Wayne also showed up
as another of the bidders. Derwent showed Bruce into one of the rooms, locking
him inside. Sapphire found herself locked in the family crypt. At the same
time, the late Walter Briscoe showed up, and Conrad was very anxious because
with both Sapphire and Bruce missing, he would be the winning bidder by default.
Derwent told him that there would, in fact, be no bidders, as Mr. Briscoe
was The Bounty Hunter, a specialist he had hired to prevent anyone from bidding.
The deranged Derwent chloroformed his brother, believing he was selling out
the family ideals by selling the estate, and then went to kill Bruce and Sapphire.
Bruce had changed into Batman and had managed to find Sapphire by traversing
the mansion's air vents. Metamorpho had likewise tracked down his girl, following
the carbon monoxide trail of her car to the Fairbairn estate. They escaped
from the crypt and headed upstairs, with Rex leading the way as invisible
hydrogen gas. He couldn't find Derwent or the Bounty Hunter, who had headed
down to the crypt after no one was found in the room Bruce had been secured
in. Upon not finding Sapphire in the crypt, the Bounty Hunter turned on Derwent,
believing that he was double-crossing the assassin. Batman attacked, but not
before the Bounty Hunter killed Derwent. After a brief but furious fight (in
which the Bounty Hunter was nearly beating Batman), Sapphire stumbled into
the fray and was taken captive by the Bounty Hunter. Warning off both Batman
and Metamorpho, the Bounty Hunter drove off with Sapphire, throwing her out
of the car a short distance down the road. Luckily, Metamorpho was trailing
the vehicle and caught his lover in a calcium chair.
Back at the Fairbairn estate, Conrad decided to try and keep the mansion
to honor the memory and feelings of his dead brother, Sapphire was irate because
she thought the mansion should be hers because she was the only bidder left,
and Batman was lost in thought wondering about when next he would encounter
––and stop––the Bounty Hunter.
The Brave And The Bold #101
The Bounty Hunter II
The list calls him an agent of the Master, but I don't recall him having
any ties to that villain. As I recall the story, from ADVENTURE #484, he was
a freelance killer who was hired by a mob boss to go after Chris King's dad,
to keep him from testifying at the mobster's trial. The Dial H duo made short
work of him and his robotic ally, the Pupil.
Brother Power, The Geek
A mannequin brought to life through some arcane means that I don't really
understand, this offbeat character had his own book for two issues in the
1960's and then didn't appear again until SWAMP THING ANNUAL #5. At that time,
he was "revealed" to be a "doll elemental" that could
manifest himself in any mannequin, puppet, or other false representation of
man (including the figures on a deck of playing cards). His last appearance
was in the Vertigo 2000 one-shot TOTEMS, though he didn't play a major role.
Written by Richard Meyer
While searching for a solution to his vulnerability to magic, Superman decided
to pay Doctor Fate a visit on Earth-Two to see if he could make him proof
against sorcery. At the time of his arrival, Doctor Fate was in his secret
identity of Dr. Kent Nelson, and treating a very strange case in the emergency
ward of the Weatherby Free Clinic–an alien! The alien had been sitting in
mid-air over the city after he was hit by the wing of a low-flying airplane.
The alien had telepathically moaned that "Earth is doomed" and the two heroes
decided to investigate further, with Doctor Fate using his Sacred Crystal
to attempt to probe further into the alien's psyche. The probe revealed two
places: Stonehenge and an old Mayan Temple in the Yucatan Jungle.
The heroes split up to investigate, and Doctor Fate discovered another alien
floating in the air above the temple in the Yucatan. After trying to communicate
with the alien, the plants of the jungle below attacked the sorcerer, but
his magicks protected him from harm. The alien disappeared soon after, saying
that his task there was done. Superman encountered a similar alien floating
above Stonehenge, who created a colossus of sand to restrain the Man of Steel.
Superman's heat vision fused the sand creature into breakable glass, but this
alien also got away before Superman could capture him.
On the way back to Doctor Fate's tower in Salem, both heroes had to stop
many times to help save lives and prevent damage as a flurry of earthquakes
and tidal waves wracked the planet. Doctor Fate again tried to probe the unconscious
mind of the alien from the hospital, and this time was successful. Ghan Uu,
was a of The Buddak, who were the "high lamas of a star-spawned race that
is older even than time–and space". For untold ages, they had sought the
bliss of nirvana that came with the true liberation of the mind, and had finally
found the means to achieve it when the planet Earth orbited into a perfect
cosmic conjunction. They had discovered, through their mystic science, that
if they were to move the land masses of Earth into each other, the resultant
destruction would create "the ultimate energy", and by being bathed in that
energy, the full capabilities of their minds would finally be opened to them.
Doctor Fate told the Man of Steel that the time for confrontation had come,
and they had to head for the focal point of the problem, which was in the
Lost Valley of Ur.
Doctor Fate had literally begun his career in the Valley of Ur, and the heroes
discovered the two Buddaks they had fought there, along with the alien from
Doctor Fate's tower, enclosed in a globe of force that the two could not penetrate.
Doctor Fate summoned his Crystal from his Tower and used it to empower Superman's
invulnerable body with his own occult powers, hoping that the combination
would be strong enough to get past the aliens' defenses. The "black magic"
of the Buddaks couldn't affect the mystically-powered Kryptonian to any great
degree, and he was able to punch their shield, which caused an explosion that
made their sorcerous abilities backfire, causing them to disappear (and apparently
killing them in the process). Superman was unable to prevent the continents
from impacting together from the lingering effects of the Buddaks' magic,
but Doctor Fate supplied him with a set of magical chains to pull the planet's
land masses (North and South America, at least) from their collision courses.
Once the balance was restored, Doctor Fate told Superman that he could indeed
make him immune to the effects of magic, but the Man of Steel had second thoughts,
since if he had been invulnerable to magic, they couldn't have defeated the
World's Finest Comics #208
Written by Scott Fulker
Bertram Larvan was a brilliant entomologist and robotics expert who was
determined to build a miniature insect robot whose job would be to rid the
world of pests. Pitching his brilliant concept to the banks proved to be
impossible, as no one would lend money to him. Frustrated but still determined,
Bert continued to work on his invention with a single-mindedness that cost
him his fiancee, Alice Morse. Eventually, his work paid off and he was able
to create his prototype, a nearly perfect robotic insect, capable of performing
pest control and much, much more.
Jaded by the world's rejection of him, Bert decided to make the world pay
for what they had done to him. Outfitting his robotic insect with weaponry
that imitated real-life insects, Bert set out on a life of crime. His first
job was a simple payroll heist that turned out to be anything but simple.
Stealing the combination to the safe at Rogers Imports by using a knockout
gas from his insect on owner Clifford Rogers, Bert used his insect's robotic
arm to steal the wallet from Rogers. He was then able to pluck the combination
to the safe from Roger's wallet and easily break into the office and steal
the $100K from the safe. Everything would have worked out perfectly, if Ray
Palmer had not decided to investigate. Being called in by Police Chief Baxter
to examine Roger's condition at the hospital, where he ended up, Ray decides
to look into Roger's place of business before heading home that night. Almost
coincidentally, Ray runs into Bert as he exits the building holding a huge
bagful of cash. Noting the mechanical insect circling above Bert's head,
he deduces that this is the man he's looking for and quickly (while no one
is looking) switches to the Atom.
The fight between Atom and robot insect is furious and Ray almost manages
to win, but Bert is concerned about his invention and ultimately calls it
back after Ray has damaged it. Bert drives away too fast for the Atom to
pursue, although he manages to secure a small blade from the robot insect
for study. Back at the lab, Ray begins to notice the blade twitching as Bert
sends his insect off on another heist. Allowing the blade to pull him, the
Atom is drawn to the home of a retired jewel collector, Ivar Norbert. Sure
enough, he spots the robot insect, fully repaired, and in the process of
stealing some priceless gems. The Atom manages to stop the theft, but cannot
catch the bug or thief.
But something odd happens during the fight. Larvan notices an odd energy
reading on his insect monitor everytime the Atom changes size or weight.
Using his own brilliant powers of deduction, he is able to improve his monitor
so that he can discern the Atom's special energy signature from other energy.
When Ray runs into Alice Thayer nee Morse at a party and figures out where
Bert lives, he decides to visit as a fellow scientist. Bert detects the Atom's
energy signature at the front door, and determines that Ray Palmer is the
Atom. Sending his robot bug to pursue Ray after he leaves, he nearly succeeds
in killing Ray. Bert monitors the whole incident, where Jean Loring saves
Ray's life. Traumatized, she immediately tells Ray to propose. Stunned, he
does and after hundreds of rejections–she says "yes". However, Bert thinks
that Jean is his former girl Alice and is incensed to destroy Ray Palmer
and the Atom.
The Atom returns to Bert's home later and immediately runs into a trap.
After another furious fight with the bug, Ray manages to evade the trap,
but discovers that the Bug-Eyed Bandit now knows his secret identity. Larvan
is hit by the Atom riding his bug, and accidentally triggers his amnesia
spray. Waking later, he remembers nothing including the secret identity of
the Atom. Larvan goes to jail, and Ray and Jean celebrate the engagement
that would last for what seems like forever.
The Atom #26 (origin)
The Atom #33
World's Finest Comics #260
Crisis On Infinite Earths #9, #12 (deceased as of Crisis)
Here is an obscure character in comics but not in American history:
In the DC Universe, the third vice-president of the United States is not
only alive but living in outer space.
This was shown in the Green Lantern back features that used to appear in
THE FLASH after Hal lost his own book.
In FLASH #230-231 (published sometime in the 1970s), Jordan sees a trainload
of exhibits for the forthcoming Bicentennial being hijacked into space by
robots disguised as American colonists.
He tracks the robots to their mothership and finds Aaron Burr, still in 1700s
garb, sitting inside, mastermind of the whole affair. Thinking Burr is a robot
like all the others, he agrees to an old-fashioned "duel" and then
tries to short circuit Burr, only to find out he is the real thing.
Burr then recounts how he was taken into outer space the day before his historic
duel with Alexander Hamilton in 1804. The inhabitants of a strife-ridden world
needed a statesman to lead them and of all the people in the universe, they
A duplicating machine created a perfect copy of Burr which was sent back
to Earth in his place, to take part in the duel with Hamilton.
Since that time, Burr has been reforming the alien society while being kept
young by their technology.
Aaron says he borrowed the Bicentennial exhibit because he was homesick and
just wanted to see some artifacts of his own era.
A huge, hulking, artificial life-form/manservant of Burr's then tries to
assassinate him under the command of some reactionary cabal on the alien planet.
Hal naturally saves Burr. He then takes Burr back to Earth for a last look
at his old home. A tearful Burr recalls how much he missed the Earth but he
is needed at his new home so he returns to space.
This story, by Denny O'Neil and Dick Dillin, was clearly intended to tap
into the interest in the Bicentennial which was just about one or two years
What makes it odd is the choice of Aaron Burr, of all American figures, as
being the supposed great reformer who can singlehandedly save an alien culture.
In history, Burr is highly controversial for secessionist plots and his great
ambition. Not to mention, his killing of Hamilton in a duel. Jefferson and
Washington both didn't like him. Some people even see Burr as a would-be tyrant,
yet Denny O'Neil, the flaming liberal of comics in the 70s, makes Burr the
hero of this story, depicting him as wise, selfless, and compassionate.
I wonder why Denny didn't choose Thomas Jefferson or Benjamin Franklin or
John Adams or any of the other founding fathers?
Oh well. Liberals seem to like Burr. Gore Vidal seemed enarmoured of Aaron
B'wana Beast and Freedom Beast
B'wana Beast was Michael Maxwell, who first appeared in SHOWCASE #66. Formerly
a game preserve ranger in Africa, he ran afoul of poachers and almost died until
he drank some magically enhanced water that gave him super-strength, and found
a supernatural helmet that allowed him to merge any two animals into a new beast
with all the strengths of both. He eventually went nuts and was taken down by
Animal Man, and the helmet was taken from him; however, he retained his other
powers and later returned as the Antagon. IIRC, he died in a second clash with
The Freedom Beast is Dominic Mndawe, who debuted in ANIMAL MAN #13. It is he
who has inherited the B'wana Beast helmet, but he uses it mostly to communicate
telepathically with animals and not to merge them, which he finds obscene.
Original text copyright DC
Comics unless otherwise noted. Used without permission.