Saturday, December 28, 2013

365 Days of DC House Ads, Day 362: Will these house ads save this blog...or ruin it?

House ad for Showcase #76 (August 1968); printed in House of Mystery #174 (May-June 1968)
Ad designed and lettered by Gaspar Saladino

Ten of a Kind #385: Happy Birthday, Mr. The Man! (Today in Comics History, December 28)

(More Ten of a Kind here.)

Friday, December 27, 2013

365 Days of DC House Ads, Day 361: Um, maybe we shouldn't start out 1967 by killing off all our heroes

House ad for Action Comics #346; Detective Comics #360; and Adventure Comics #353 (all February 1967); printed in Blackhawk #229 (February 1967)
Comic cover art: Action #340 and Adventure #353: pencils by Curt Swan, inks by George Klein, letters by Ira Schnapp
Detective #360: pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Joe Giella, letters by Ira Schnapp
Ad designed and lettered by Ira Schnapp

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Today in Comics History, December 26: Chris Claremont is a surprisingly ineffective henchman

from Captain Britain (1985 series) #14 (Marvel UK, February 1986), script, pencils and co-inks by Alan Davis; co-inks by Noel Davis; letters by Annie Halfacree; color version from Captain Britain trade paperback (Marvel, 1988), colors by Andy Seddon.

365 Days of DC House Ads, Day 360: The Human (and Kryptonian, and Martian, and Amazonian, and Atlantean, and Apokoliptan) League

House ad for The Brave and the Bold #28 [Justice League of America] (February-March 1960); printed in Batman #129 (February 1960); comic cover art: pencils by Mike Sekowsky, inks by Murphy Anderson, colors by Jack Adler (?), letters by Ira Schnapp; ad designed and lettered by Ira Schnapp

House ad for Justice League (1987 series) #1 (May 1987); printed in Batman #406 (April 1987); ad art from the cover of Justice League #1: pencils by Kevin Maguire, inks by Terry Austin

House ad for JLA (1997 series); printed in Superman Adventures #6 (April 1997); ad art: pencils by Howard Porter, inks by John Dell

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

365 Days of DC House Ads, Christmas Bonus: What the Dickens?

I know this will make it 366, but I couldn't let the holiday season go by without posting this classic ad which I forgot to post until now.

House ad for Teen Titans (1966 series) #13 (February 1968); printed in Adventures of Bob Hope #109 (February 1968)
Comic cover art: pencils and inks by Nick Cardy, letters by Ira Schnapp
Ad designed and lettered by Ira Schnapp

365 Days of DC House Ads, Day 359: The year everybody got the power of super-jumping for Christmas

House ad for Green Lantern/Green Arrow #113; Batman #309; Superman #333; and The Brave and the Bold #148; (all March 1979) printed in House of Mystery #266 (March 1979)
Ad designed and lettered by Gaspar Saladino, ad art unsigned (José Luis Garcia-López?)

Two of these four issues had fantastic Christmas covers by one of my top five Batman artists, Jim Aparo!

Covers of Batman #309 and The Brave and the Bold #148, both covers with pencils and inks by Jim Aparo and colors by Tatjana Wood

By the way, what were the crooks on the cover of B&B #148 doing? Why, that's simple...they were buttlegging!

Today in Comics History, December 25: Psylocke ChriPstmaPs: Nobody tells blind Betsy she's babysitting David and Victoria Beckham's kids

from Captain Britain (1985 series) #14 (Marvel UK; February 1986), script, pencils and co-inks by Alan Davis; co-inks by Noel Davis; letters by Annie Halfacree; color version from Captain Britain trade paperback (Marvel, 1988), colors by Andy Seddon.

All I want for Christmas

DC PSA printed in Detective Comics #360 (February 1967), written by Jack Schiff, artist unknown

Today in Comics History, December 25, 0, Christmas: Ragnarok burns Asgard. Also, some other stuff.

from Thor (1966 series) #293 (Marvel, March 1980), script by Roy Thomas, "multiversal bon mots" by Mark Gruenwald and Ralph Macchio, breakdowns by Keith Pollard, finishes by Chic Stone, colors by Carl Gafford, letters by Joe Rosen

The GCD lists this issue with an annotation of "Jesus (baby; flashback; cameo)." Well, y'know, that's the way we comic book fans like to list events a-happenin'. Happy flashback cameo, kid!

Today in Comics History, December 25, Christmas: Someone foolishly gives a DVD of Get Carter to Brian Braddock for Christmas

from Captain Britain (1985 series) #14 (Marvel UK, February 1986), script, pencils and co-inks by Alan Davis; co-inks by Noel Davis; letters by Annie Halfacree; color version from Captain Britain trade paperback (Marvel, 1988), colors by Andy Seddon.

Today in Comics History, December 25, 1776, Christmas: Hey, where's Captain David Perry, Revolutionary War soldier?*

from "Phineas and Ferb Save America" in Phineas and Ferb #1 (Disney, June 2013), script by Jim Bernstein and Scott Peterson, art by Eric Jones and John Green

*Here he is!

A Four Color Christmas, Day 25: Insert your own breaking-and-entering joke here

Cover of Four Color #1274 [Santa Claus Funnies] (December 1961), painted cover by Mel Crawford

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Today in Christmas Comics History, December 24, 11:30 PM: Captain Britain hates mince pies, loves interruptions

from Captain Britain (1985 series) #14 (Marvel UK, February 1986), script, pencils and co-inks by Alan Davis; co-inks by Noel Davis; letters by Annie Halfacree; color version from Captain Britain trade paperback (Marvel, 1988), colors by Andy Seddon.

Today in Christmas Comics History, December 24: Illegal aliens steal our precious holiday traditions

from "Monsters on Mercury!" in Journey into Mystery (1952 series) #78 (Marvel, March 1962), script by Stan Lee, pencils and inks by Steve Ditko

It's the Most Wonder Woman Time of the Year

A Bully Christmas Classic, originally posted December 23, 2010. Enjoy or enjoy again!

Sensation Comics #38It's that festive time of year, and you know what that means! Yup! And it also means it's time to sing along (with the music) the traditional favorite Christmas Carol of Themyscira!:

Have a Wonder Woman Christmas
Have an Etta Candy Yule
Kiss Steve Trevor
Now and forever
And make him blink and drool

Have a Themyscira Christmas
From the all-girl island gang
There's no men hirsute
It's a nice pursuit
Paradise for k.d. lang

Oh, ho, sufferin' Sappho
Diana fights for rights
For me, and you, and them
In her satin tights

She has got a golden lasso
And she's also made of clay
You should say hello
To a status quo
Where the girls are all

Well, that's quite enough of that.

Let's instead look at one of the most traditional and heartwarming tales of the Amazin' Amazon in her Golden Age, before the eagle changed to two big Ws, before the hot pants became a thong, even before she gave a break by sharing that Kit-Kat Bar with Maxwell Lord, to the innocent days of Christmas 1944, where there was absolutely nothing happening on the world stage that would require a superhero to be overseas fighting anybody at all. Get ready for the most touching Christmas story of them all: "Wonder Woman Alias Miss Santa Claus!" As the story opens on Christmas Eve, Lt. Diana W. W. Prince and the shell-shocked Colonel Steve Trevor are serving their country, flag, and American people by hanging around downtown outside a department store, engaging in banter with the Dead End Kids. One such little urchin's family is so poorly off that his father is dead and his mother can barely afford the lipstick to keep his mouth kissably brilliant.

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Panels from "Racketeers Kidnap Miss Santa Claus" in Sensation Comics #38 (February 1945), script by William Moulton Marston, art by Harry G. Peter

As everybody knows, just as contacting Clark Kent is your surest way to get in touch with Superman, just as Peter Parker is in frequent contact with Spider-Man, just as waving a bottle of Kentucky bourbon will get you access to Iron Man, Diana Prince knows exactly how to contact Wonder Wom-An and right some social rights. In her, we did that joke already.

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Wondy practices her breaking and entering technique through the slums of...hey, what city did WW live in anyway? Batman had Gotham City, Superman had Metropolis, the Flash has Keystone City, Wonder Woman had...uh...hmmm...I dunno, um, Amazon Park City, Montana, I guess, to operate out of. How should I know? Is it any wonder, Wonder Woman has never been as strong a comic book as her two compatriots? You can't even give her a proper fictionopolis to operate in, National Comics? Sheesh. Anyway, Diana breaks a few windows and busts down some doors to leave stockings full of toys for the eight youngsters in this tenement house. And some condoms for their parents.

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If Brian Michael Bendis were writing this comic book, we would be alongside Wonder Woman as she visits every overcrowded, unheated, broken-down slum apartment in town. Luckily she delivers gifts to every other place in town before finally finding the basement apartment of the kid she met before. I tell's always in the very last place you look, am I right?

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That's where Wonder Woman, Princess of Paradise Island, the world's greatest woman fighter and champion of a battle contest against the most highly trained female warriors in the world, gets knocked on her noggin by a mop handle. Maybe you should take off the Bose noise-canceling World War I Flying Ace helmet, Wondy.

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Fast as lightning, Wonder Woman flips her attacker over her shoulder. Oh, really good, Wonder Woman...way to beat up on a girl. Anyway, that face in the dark belongs to Mrs. Judith Allen, mother of the li'l tough guy we saw in the first panel, who thought Wonder Woman was her brother-in-law. I'm sorry, but it can't ever be that dark.

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Brother-in-law Joe, in addition to being fresh from his casting on the set of a Edward G. Robinson/Humphrey Bogart gangster film, is a violent, lecherous, brute who can swirl his fist around so fast you get hypnotized and fall down. He's just that mean.

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Joe Bamko's associates and buddies are nothing to write home about, either. Judith says he meets "tough characters" every night, and I'm pretty sure they're not playing Risk or Yahtzee as they down their Choo-Choo Cherry Funny Face-brand Flavored Drink Mix. Man, look at these guys: you will never find a more wretched hive of scum, villainy, and suits in bright solid colors. Really: where the Sam Scratch do you even buy a green suit???

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Wow, that panel is populated by the criminal cast of Dick Tracy. Marston doesn't give these secondary crook characters names, but I'm betting it would go something like this:

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Okay, okay, so he commits sexual harassment and threatens kids. Surely there's got to be some good in this man so that Wonder Woman can redeem him as a Christmas miracle, right? Right?...

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...Okay, this scumbag is going down.

As Wonder Woman fills up stockings (hold the wolf whistles, boys, that's not what I meant), she's confronted by the dirty rat himself, who fires his laser pistol at W.W., but luckily she apparently enjoys cosplaying a character from a comic book she once read.

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Pretty Boy Trevor arrives just at that moment to flirt with Wonder Woman, and just like all men of the forties, he's got to do the job himself to show what a he-man he is in front of the woman who can bend iron bars in her hand. She'll probably have to call a professional in to fix what he couldn't finish before he wandered off to listen to the game, I imagine. I'm betting he didn't even read the manual, either.

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Quicker than a flash of light, the Agile Amazon makes up a suitable pun and goes for the Rockette High Kick! Joe does his Donald Duck impression, and Steve thinks "I meant to do that" as he gasps for breath. And justice is served! What an amazing Christmas story!

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Whoops! Nope. Joe dashes into his super-secret escape pod bedroom and, realizing he might not have enough air in there, starts making bullet holes in the door. Steve is right on the job, aiming his service revolver to start spraying lead into the room where Mrs. Allen's kids are. He's saved from yet another "friendly fire" incident on his service record, but where the heck is Wonder Woman during all this? I like to think she's standing back, watching Steve, shaking her head and smacking her palm against her forehead.

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Why, that dirty rotten no-good rat! He's using the kids as a shield! And not one of the cool ones, either, that you could throw around the room and have it bounce at impossible angles until it knocks Hitler's block off from behind...this is a good old fashioned human shield. Pretty sneaky, Joe!

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Steve Trevor knows we he's licked. (Also, when he's kissed or fondled.) He beats a hasty retreat to get some backup—we'll see them later. Then Diana, discovering the door is actually made of rubber, pursues Joe. You know, I swear she told Steve to go fetch help just to get him out of the dang way.

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Wondy catches up to the crook and ropes that varmint in with her magic lasso, swarming with miniature nanotech lie-detecting devices exactly like those created by William Marston. And then...PLOT TWIST! Joe reveals that he and his gang, which he calls "The Gang," is plotting to rob a gold vault through this secret tunnel. Hey, the story has suddenly turned into "The Adventure of the Red-Headed League"! Do Rudyard Kipling next, Mister Marston!

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Suddenly! The tables are turned! And Wonder Woman is tied up in bondage with her own rope on page ten of the story. Okay, who had page ten in the in Wonder Woman Bondage Pool Lottery? You can pick up your prize after the comic is over. Meanwhile, the kids are trapped on a carton of TNT connected to a bicycle pump used by "Thing" from The Addams Family.

Sensation Comics #38

Wonder Woman, with the wisdom of Solomon...wait, am I thinking of the right superhero.? No, wisdom of Athena. Anyway, she quickly checks her COD4 Explosive Stats Chart and Description to warn them that the reinforced load-bearing walls of a precious metal storage facility is not codified under section 8.12 of the U.S. Army Manual of Heavy Explosives and Bangy-Things. She does have a pun all loaded and ready to shoot, of course.

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Building on her already elaborate rap sheet for breaking and entering, Wonder Woman is coerced into battering down the thick walls of the gold safe. She didn't even look under the mat to see if the key was there first!

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Separated at Birth Department: Say, does that guy in the lower right of that last panel look a little familiar to you?

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Around this point Wonder Woman should take a deep breath and stand back and whistle innocently, because whatever those guys are hijacking, it ain't gold. Gold bars weigh in at a pudgy twenty-seven and a half pounds, and that schnook on the left there is carrying a sack of approximately one bajillion of them. They are very clearly accidentally stealing Twinkies, and at any moment now the police will arrive and arrest them while they are delayed by the delicious golden sponge cake and the creamy white filling. Yes, You Get a Big Delight in Every Bite of Hostess Twinkies, Cupcakes, and Fruit Pies!

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Remember that help that Steve went off to fetch a few pages back? He has returned with Etta Candy and the Holliday Girls, a college sorority of women who hung around and aided Wonder Woman during her adventures. Their leader is the sweet-toothed, confection-obsessed self-fulfilling-propechy-named Etta Candy, she of the "Woo woo!" and scarfing down chocolates. What, Steve, President Roosevelt wasn't available?

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As the caption tells you, "Wonder Woman and her girls quickly subdue the gangsters." Um, I don't see the girls doing nothin', unless Etta is tossing Nut Goodies at them. And, like a high school bully, Steve Trevor holds down Joe while Wonder Woman beats him up. "Operation: Lunch Money" has become a complete success!

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So, the moral of the story? "Christmas is in everyone around you." Not, then, "don't stand on boxes of high explosives" or "it takes a superhero to solve a domestic abuse situation" or "FOR PETE'S SAKE ETTA YOU'RE GOING TO HAVE A HEART ATTACK AT TWENTY-SIX!", then, huh? Huh.

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As the credits roll, Wonder Woman leaps onto her invisible plane (well, can you see it? Huh? Huh?) and flies off into the beautiful blue sky...hey, just how long was she in that apartment, anyway? It's Christmas morning? What about the kids who lived down the, close enough. So, how does this story of gunfire, bondage, child endangerment and domestic abuse make you feel about Christmas now, kids?

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Special surprise twist ending: the young Allen boy at the beginning and end of the story? He grew up to be a police forensic scientist in Central City. His name? Barry. And now you know...the rest of the story.

Also in this issue: a comic story where young boys are urged by Hitler to paint swastikas on the sides of churches by a Nazi spy named Haytler until they are stopped by a Royalist cavalier.

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The Golden Age, folks! The Golden Age.