Monday, September 30, 2013

War Comics Family

"War Comics Family" from Sgt. Rock vol.1 #422 (DC, 1988) by Robert Kanigher, Joe Kubert, Andy Kubert and Adam Kubert
How long-lived is Sgt. Rock as a character? Enough that his series was still being published when the over-bright Flexographic process took over. He first appeared (in his best-known form, there were prototypes in previous issues) in Our Army at War #83 (June 1959), appearing in every issue after that, right up until the point DC had to rename the series Sgt. Rock. By then, it was up to issue #302 (March 1977) and would last anoter 120 issues to #422 (July 1988). Crazy. His last issue is advertised on the cover as the first comic Joe Kubert worked on with both his sons - Andy on inks and letters, and Adam on colors.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

I See You II

"I See You II" from Seven Soldiers: Zatanna #4 (DC, 2005) by Grant Morrison, Ryan Sook and Mick Gray
The last Seven Soldiers mini, at least alphabetically, was Zatanna's, which may have paved the way for her Paul Dini series (then again, he was always going to push for one, it may have been inevitable). The quirkiness and fourth wall breaking (or at least, touching) made it the Animal Man of the bunch, and consequently, a little derivative of Morrison's earlier work.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Knight Falls on the City

"Knight Falls on the City" from Seven Soldiers: Shining Knight #2 (DC, 2005) by Grant Morrison and Simone Bianchi
Along with Frankenstein, this version of the Shining Knight was Seven Soldiers' other contribution that lasted into the New52. In the Golden Age and All-Star Squadron, the Knight was clearly male, but the character's gender becomes quite ambiguous under Morrison, and as Demon Knights has shown, is in fact a woman, or shall we say, biologically female. Shining Knight is also the only member of both versions of the Seven Soldiers of Victory.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Face to Face with Metron

"Face to Face with Metron" from Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle #1 (DC, 2005) by Grant Morrison and Pasqual Ferry
One of the bigger names to feature in Seven Soldiers, this wasn't Scott Free but his apprentice Shilo Norman. Nothing against Shilo, but his mini was all tangled up with human avatars of the New Gods, running the Dark Side Club. An interesting idea, but it later got mangled in DC's whole Death of the New Gods/Countdown/Final Crisis fiasco.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Burn, Witchboy, Burn

"Burn, Witchboy, Burn" from Seven Soldiers: Klarion the Witchboy #4 (DC, 2005) by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving
Morrison's Klarion can be a prequel to his appearances in the Demon if you like, because he seems so young and naive in the series. The weird idea is that he's a citizen of Limbo Town, a strange little pocket universe where the Puritan witches of Salem took refuge. It's under New York, if you ever want to go looking.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Metro Guardian

"Metro Guardian" from Seven Soldiers: The Manhattan Guardian #2 (DC, 2005) by Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart
The re-invention of the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion as heroes who work for a NY newspaper is my favorite of all the Soldiers, and the one I most would have liked to see go to series (yes, even more than Frankenstein). Not only didn't it happen, I don't think this version of the character ever appeared again. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

All in a Day's Work for Frankenstein

"All in a Day's Work for Frankenstein" from Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #4 (DC, 2006) by Grant Morrison and Doug Mahnke
Sure, he's really Frankenstein's MONSTER, but it feels like a sly comic book thing to do to call him a "Frankenstein". Who doesn't love a badass monster from literature anyway? He would later get conflated with the "Frankenstein" in the Creature Commandos, but lose none of the Mary Shelley in him.

Monday, September 23, 2013

There Can Never Be a Bad Fight Where Someone Uses an Engine Block as a Weapon

"There Can Never Be a Bad Fight Where Someone Uses an Engine Block as a Weapon" from Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer #4 (DC, 2006) by Grant Morrison, Yannick Paquette and Serge Lapointe
Your Daily Splash concentrates on regular series, not minis, but in the case of Grant Morrison's 7 Soldiers of Victory, connected minis with top of the line artists, I thoughts we might dabble. And seven is a magic number because it's exactly how many days there are in a week. Each mini is high concept, but the whole series is too. Basically these 7 Soldiers are a non-team that out-non-team Marvel's Defenders, as they're all fighting the same threat - across time, no less - without ever meeting. The Bulleteer, loosely based on Fawcett's Bulletgirl, is perhaps the Morrisonesque of the Soldiers, a quirky superhero comic you could put next to Doom Patrol or Flex Mentallo, and that has something to say about the genre - specifically about female character objectification. There's even a fridge gag in there somewhere.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Wonder Woman's Action Moment

"Wonder Woman's Action Moment" from Sensation Comics #51 (J.R. Publishing, 1946) by Charles Moulton (or possibly Bob Kanigher as Moulton) and Harry G. Peter
After first appearing in All-Star Comics #8, Wonder Woman's success spun her off into Sensation Comics where she was the cover feature, and six months later, into her own eponymous book. While she headlined Sensation, it's a book she shared with various other heroes, many of whom have a (probably accidental) thematic link to Princess Diana. Mr. Terrific's Fair Play ethos isn't unlike Wonder Woman's loyalty to the principles of love and empathy. For Diana's bondage fans, there's the Whip. And there's something potentially girly about the Gay Ghost (not because of the word gay, you understand, but because he was a romantic hero out of the Bronte Sisters or Harlequin Romances). Sensation's other regular strips included Black Pirate, Wildcat, Sargon the Sorcerer, Hal Mason, the Atom, Little Boy Blue, Hop Harrigan, Romance, Inc., Lady Danger, Doctor Pat, and Astra, not all of which are remembered today. With issue #94, it briefly became a romance title before getting retitled as Sensation Mystery with #107, and ending with #116, with Johnny Peril at the helm.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

As Long as You Live... Stay Away From the Water!

"As Long as You Live... Stay Away From the Water!" from Secrets of Sinister House #7 (DC, 1972) by Sheldon Mayer and June LoFamia
Starting life as The Sinister House of Secret Love, it went full-on horror from #5, a bit like its contemporary, Forbidden Tales of Dark Mansion, had started as The Dark Mansion Of Forbidden Love. If you're wondering where romance comics went, they died and came back as undead comics.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Cosmic Log

"Cosmic Log" from Secrets of Haunted House #21 (DC, 1980) by Mark Manhart and Romeo Tanghal
This horror anthology series ran from 1975 to 1982, reach 46 issues, sometimes with Destiny (above) as its host. Cain, Abel and Eve also committed to hosting duties at various points. Due to the DC Implosion, it got cancelled after #14, but was revived with #15 about a year later. You can't keep a good horror house down. Not that I'm saying Secrets of Haunted House was a particularly good book. All those "Houses" kind of run together in my mind and feel very interchangeable. This one, in its later issues, did feature a Mister E strip, but he didn't come into his own until Books of Magic.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Barry Allen's Hilarious Faceplant

"Barry Allen's Hilarious Faceplant" from Secret Society of Super-Villains Special AKA DC Special Series #6 (DC, 1977) by Gerry Conway, Arvell Jones and Bob McLeod
The Special, basically an Annual, fits between issues 10 and 11 of a series that seems particularly relevant this month. Me, I'm just in it for the comedy at the Flash's expense.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

It's Raining Villains

"It's Raining Villains" from Secret Six vol.3 #7 (DC, 2009) by Gail Simone, Nicola Scott and Doug Hazelwood
Gail Simone's Secret Six, a collection of rarely-six villains brought together initially by a new Mockingbird, but free of him by the time they got their monthly series, was, in many ways, the true inheritor of Ostrander's Suicide Squad, and not just because Deadshot was in it. It had the same feeling that anything could happen, the same kind of demented characters, and it made me love two-bit villains who were nobodies only weeks before. I got attached to Cat-Man and Bane in particular. BANE! Yeah, much missed. The new Suicide Squad doesn't have a thing on the Secret Six despite members in common.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Secret Chains

"Secret Chains" from Secret Six vol.1 #4 (DC, 1968) by E. Nelson Bridwell, Joe Gill and Jack Sparling
Too short-lived to become the espionage equivalent of the Sea Devils, Time Masters, etc., facing giant apes and UFOs, the original Secret Six had a premise worthy of today's hit television programs. They were six specialists blackmailed into working together by the mysterious Mockingbird, the twist being that one of them was actually Mockingbird. The series didn't last long enough to reveal who it was, so it's still a mystery. The Action Comics Weekly strip did give an answer years later, but it apparently wasn't the one Bridwell had in mind. I say the mystery persists then. Unless someone knows if he ever gave up the answer?

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Secret Origin of Mister Spectre

"The Secret Origin of Mister Spectre" from Secret Origins vol.3 #15 (DC, 1987) by Roy Thomas and Michael T. Gilbert
I loved Secret Origins, the perfect companion to the same era's Who's Who, especially once it became double-sized to insure a Golden Age character every issue. It seemed to me the ones where they broke that format and focused only on modern characters were never my favorites. Towards the end of the run, though the major characters had perhaps been expended, Secret Origins continued to shine with surprising thematic issues (headquarters! apes!) and quirky origins (Ambush Bug's! Flash of Two Worlds!). It was one of my favorite DC series ever, and I miss a DC Universe in which it could exist.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Unhappy Triangle

"Unhappy Triangle" from Secret Hearts #30 (DC, 1955) by an unknown writer and Irv Novick
Sometimes, there's just no getting away from the other woman...

Saturday, September 14, 2013

A Gorilla Prowls the Deep Six

"A Gorilla Prowls the Deep Six" from Sea Devils #30 (DC, 1966) by France Herron, Howard Purcell and Sheldon Moldoff
The Silver Age was crazy for everyone, even "human" heroes like the Sea Devils, another of those adventuring teams the era was well-known for, in the mold of the Challengers of the Unknown (a mold that also produced Cave Carson's and Rip Hunter's teams).

Friday, September 13, 2013


"Sligoth" from Scarlett #12 (DC, 1993) by Tom Joyner, K.S. Wilson, Jay Scott Pike and Jim Fern
A Lovecraftian monster for Friday the 13th? Seems to make sense. At only 14 issues, Scarlett is another DC vampire book that's just ahead of the vampire romance fad. Started out pretty well, all things considered, but rushed to its conclusion after some rather wordy and convoluted issues.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Scary Hitchhikers

"Scary Hitchhikers" from Scare Tactics #5 (DC, 1997) by Len Kaminski, Anthony Williams and Andy Lanning
Part of the Weirdoverse family of books launched in the late 90s, none of which lasted very long, Scare Tactics is a perfectly pleasant book about teens who identity as horror tropes (a vampiress, a werewolf, a lizard boy, a marsh monster) who become a band to achieve a kind of normalcy. The book was ahead of its time, probably. This is the kind of set-up we see a lot of today, from Being Human to Adventure Time and back. The book lasted a mere 12 issues, though the characters enjoyed a series of specials (with the Plus label) that extended their stay in the DCU a little longer than a year.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Are You My Mummy?

"Are You My Mummy?" from Sandman Mystery Theatre #1 (Vertigo, 1993) by Matt Wagner and Guy Davis
Though technically part of the Sandman franchise, SMT proved Vertigo books didn't need fantastical elements to be successful. A great series of mysteries set in the dawn of the Golden Age, with a hero who looked a lot less trim than his eventual spandexy self, thanks to Guy Davis' gritty, real world art. I'd become a fan of his through Baker Street, so I of course knew he could keep a mystery comic with relatively little action interesting. Great book.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Doors of Hell

"The Doors of Hell" from The Sandman vol.2 #23 (DC, 1991) by Neil Gaiman, Kelley Jones and Malcolm Jones III
I came into Neil Gaiman's Sandman early in Season of Mists, which had Dream cross paths with various pantheons and Lucifer himself. It hooked me more than the first issues might have, I think. I got everything I missed in trade paperback (in a handsome boxed set) soon after that, but I don't think the awkward inclusion of other DC properties in the first arc would have been as fascinating to me. Or even the Hellblazery Doll's House stuff. The one-offs, maybe. I always loved it when the book turned into an anthology series in between longer arcs. But Season of Mists remains my favorite storyline.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Ahab's Dream

"Ahab's Dream" from The Sandman vol.1 #5 (DC, 1975) by Michael Fleisher, Jack Kirby and Mike Royer
The Bronze Age Sandman was the last collaborative creation of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby who had worked on the original (Golden Age) Sandman. Of course, by the 70s, these guys were doing much trippier stuff. Fleisher took over after #1, and Kirby wound up drawing half the series.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Grow, Rise Up and Meet the Sun

"Grow, Rise Up and Meet the Sun" from Saga of the Swamp Thing #24 (DC, 1984) by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette and John Totleben
Initially very much a continuation of what the 70s volume of Swamp Thing was doing, everything changed in Saga when Alan Moore came on board and operated a deft alchemical transformation on everyone's favorite swamp monster. No longer a man transformed into a plant, he was a plant that thought it was a man. Brilliant, creepy stories resulted, random issues of which freaked me out as a kid, so much I couldn't make it a monthly thing (I read most stories later in the black and white Essential Swamp Thing Vertigo reprints, which really brought out Bissette and Totleben's detailed work). And despite the creep factor pushing the boundaries of newsstand comics, there was also a sort of joy to book, especially in Swampy's eventual acceptance of his true nature. We'll see a lot more Swamp Thing by the time I'm done with this alphabetical look at the DCU, but later. Think of Saga (which was retitled as simply Swamp Thing with issue 31) as a mere teaser.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Not the First Robin vs. Not the First Batman

"Not the First Robin vs. Not the First Batman" from Robin vol.2 #1 (DC, 1993) by Chuck Dixon, Tom Grummett and Scott Hanna
After a number of mini-series, Tom Drake was finally ready to take the plunge (or, looks like, get pushed) into monthly series-dom, and he had an incredible 185-issue run. That's almost 16 years! Looking through my long box, its flow keeps getting interrupted by Batman and DC events, but I remember getting enjoyment out of it at the time. Still, I quit a bit after Final Night, when I guess I'd had enough of crossovers and had deserted the other Bat-books as well.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Day the Earth Died

"The Day the Earth Died" from Rip Hunter... Time Master #15 (DC, 1963) by Jack Miller and Bill Ely
Oh well... Let's hope it's sometime in the future. You know, I love time travel stories, but every Silver Age Rip Hunter story has been filled with aliens and weird goings-on, or else things like famous beauties from history competing in pageants. Should I be complaining? I guess it's a lot like what Doctor Who has become...

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rima, Friend to the Animals

"Rima, Friend to the Animals" from Rima the Jungle Girl #1 (DC, 1974) by Robert Kanigher, Joe Kubert (layouts only) and Nestor Redondo
A forgotten classic from the 70s, probably because Rima was a licensed character (from Hudson's Green Mansions). Great art by Redondo, with covers by the then master of jungle action, Joe Kubert. The short series also featured SF back-ups by Kanigher, usually with Alex Nino. An odd choice, perhaps, but artistically of following a similar style.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Everybody Was Streetfigthing

"Everybody Was Streetfigthing" from Richard Dragon #1 (DC, 2004) by Chuck Dixon, Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens
Chuck Dixon's revamped Richard Dragon borrowed a great deal from the Karate Kid movies, and made Bronze Tiger a mentor rather than a contemporary. This all happened in the past, of course, because Dragon is tagged as having trained both Batman and Nightwing. Oracle and Huntress too.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Eskimartial Arts

"Eskimartial Arts" from Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter #16 (DC, 1977) by Denny O'Neil and Ric Estrada
Oh Richard Dragon... You came in a bit late to profit from the kung fu craze of the early 70s, didn't you? You white bread Shang-Chi/Iron Fist wannabe? Not O'Neil at his best, though the series did give us Bronze Tiger and Lady Shiva, so there's that. And Inuit martial arts. O'Neil first wrote him in a novel called Dragon's Fists in '74 and later incorporate him into the DCU, which I guess makes him FORMERLY creator-owned, and now DC's property. I don't know what to think about that. Sounds like there's a story there.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Under Attack by His Own DNA

"Under Attack by His Own DNA" from Resurrection Man vol.2 #1 (DC, 2011) by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Fernando Dignino
I was excited to see Resurrection Man back for a second go in the New52, and had it been successful, I think it could have formed the basis of a cool TV series, which I know the WB is interested in developing. Sadly, it looks like DnA were hoarding all their ideas for powers for their excellent, creator-owned Hypernaturals book, because Mitch Shelley just went from boring energy power to boring energy power. So just another New52 government conspiracy story in the end, though I suppose it's of interest because it tells us who Mitch was before he became the Resurrection Man.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Body Doubles in Kirby Land

"The Body Doubles in Kirby Land" from Resurrection Man vol.1 #6 (DC, 1997) by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Joe Phillips, Dexter Vines and Jackson Guice
I've always had a soft spot for characters with the power to change powers - Dial H for Hero, Sleeper from Wild Cards, Multi-Man - and even had a superhero persona for myself when I was a teenager based on the concept, so Resurrection Man was right up my alley. And it was good! The Body Doubles, badass girl assassins, might have been DnA's preferred creations, often stealing the spotlight from Mitch Shelley, something true of the New52 series as well. But I'm getting ahead of myself...