Saturday, May 06, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 126: There flew Thunder Child

Panels from Amazing Adventures (1970 series) #18 (May 1973), plot by Roy Thomas and Neal Adams, script by Gerry Conway, pencils by Howard Chaykin, inks by Frank Chiaramonte, colors by Petra Goldberg, letters by John Costanza

"Thunder Child" from Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of The War of the Worlds (1978),
narration by Richard Burton, sung by Chris Thompson

Today in Comics History, May 6, 1776: Ain't no party like a George Party, 'cos a George Party is either wildly or mildly cheered

From the world's bait-and-switchiest comic book, Limited Collectors' Edition #C-47, comes today's celebration of the French Alliance! Which gave us Asterix, the croissant, and Audrey Tautou, not to mention the eventual triumph of the War for Independence. Get down and party, bluecoats!

from "Valley Forge" in Limited Collectors' Edition #C-47 [Superman Salutes the Bicentennial] (DC, August 1976); text, pencils, and inks by Fred Ray

Friday, May 05, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 125: A Little Rebellion

Panels from The Micronauts (1979 Marvel series) #6 (June 1979), script by Bill Mantlo, breakdowns by Michael Golden, finishes by Joe Rubinstein, reprint colors by Bob Sharen based on original colors by Roger Slifer, letters by John Costanza

Today in Comics History, May 5, 1961: Commander Alan Shepard becomes second man in space and first astronaut to become a Batman supervillain

from Detective Comics (2011 series) #49 (DC, April 2016), script by Peter J. Tomasi, pencils by Fernando Pasarin, inks by Matt Ryan, colors by Chris Sotomayor, letters by Wes Abbott

Also, he was on Star Trek!:

For a second.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 124: Your inside is out when your outside is in

Mike W. Barr has written some fantastic comics, especially within the Batman family, but one thing he's never been accused of is being a regular cast member on She's the Sheriff. Also frequently, his supervillains are a little bit corny, but I don't care. I love love love his (and Jim Aparo's) run on the original Batman and the Outsiders series. Here's their first annual, a 1984 parable adapted to the world of the DC Universe.

Cover of Batman and the Outsiders Annual (1984 series) #1 (1984), pencils by Frank Miller, inks by Jim Aparo

Villain Eric Blairman not only has a green suit (where did he get it?) but a red, white, an' blue patriotic super-team all his own, the aptly-if-goofily-named (prepare to groan) Force of July!

Panels from Batman and the Outsiders Annual (1984 series) #1 (1984); script by Mike W. Barr; pencils by Jerome Moore, Alex Saviuk, Jan Duursema, and Rick Hoberg; inks and letters by Jim Aparo; colors by Adrienne Roy

Blairman sees the diverse Outsiders as enemies of the American people, so of course he very patriotically strings them up. (Like fascists do.) Please note that altho' title-checked, the Batman will not be appearing in this annual. So there's no expecting for him to leap in and release the Outsiders! I guess we'll have to place all our faith in Halo and Geo-Force...Oh man, we're boned.

Like all good villains who have their good-guy nemeses completely at their mercy, Blairman can't help himself from speechifying, explaining for those of us who didn't get the reference on page two that he renamed himself after Eric Blair, the birth name of George Orwell, author of 1984. Also: you can tell his sister is a really really smart scientist, because she has glasses. Thank you, comic book visual shortcuts!

She's so smart (how smart is she?) she's invested the Omni-Cast, a new system of ordering pay-per-view special events over your cable, and also of monitoring what everyday Americans do and say. Oh, it's the 1984's version of The Internet!

Suddenly, the Outsiders escape! As if you had any doubt. And guess what: Halo and Geo-Force really do save the day! Makes you feel bad for laughing at them earlier in the post and/or since their creation almost 35 years ago, huh?


Blairman's evil satellite crashes to earth and all's well that ends well as the Outsiders reflect on their victory and Mike W. Barr reaches for his copy of Bartlett's Familiar Quotations. Meanwhile, Batman is tapping his fingers on the table in the Outsidercave, impatiently waiting for everybody else to show up for their regular weekly meeting.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 123: You bet I'm picking up the next issue

Panels from The Avengers (1998 series) #52/467 (May 2002), script by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Ivan Reis, inks by Randy Emberlin, colors by Tom Smith, letters by Saida Temofonte

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Today in Comics History, May 2, 1945: Captain America goes into suspended animation to escape encroaching speech balloons

from Captain America (1968 series) #332 (Marvel, August 1987), script by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Tom Morgan, inks by Bob McLeod, colors by Ken Feduniewicz, letters by Diana Albers

Today in Comics History, May 2: Dynasty II: The Colbys (or, Who's That Brother-in-Law?)

SPOILER WARNING: do not read this post until you've read The 1978 2017 DC Calendar of Super-Spectacular Disasters: July Jabbing! Also, until you've read this month's issue of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Because that's a really good comic.

Okay! Back Forward in July I challenged you to guess the identity of the double-secret super mystery Guest Villain of DC's 1978 calendar, and the July clue was:

I'mma gonna tell you the truth here: although I've pretty much known since clue one in January that the mystery bad guy is SPOILER WARNING Lex Luthor, I never knew he had a brother-in-law! Sure, everybody knows that Luthor's sister, Lena Thorul (and what a clever anagram that is) is a supporting character of the pre-Crisis DC Universe, but had she actually ever been married?

Turns out...yes! Yes, Lena Thorul did get married. On this very date (which is why I placed the answer to those cryptic clues on this date)!

from Super DC Calendar 1976 (Dc, 1975), letters by Ben Oda

And you didn't send her a toaster. Shame on you.

from "The Great Supergirl Double-Cross!" in Action Comics (1938 series) #317 (October 1964), script by Leo Dorfman, pencils and inks by Jim Mooney, letters by the aptly named Joe Letterese

Oh man oh man oh man, it's another kooky but compelling Silver Age setup to a story of Super-family shenanigans, also including the subsection of super-jerkery. Also: entry #2,420 in my extensive catalogue of characters thinking the word "choke!". Apparently Lena Hurt-Lo had a boyfriend and Supergirl (breathy insert voice: in her secret identity as Linda Danvers, orphan-at-large) stole him away? You jerk, Supergirl! And speaking of jerks, here's Lena's big bad bald brother Lex, rotting away the rest of his six hundred and six consecutive life sentences at supermax jail Metropolis prison, where because of his dangerous nature, he's held motionless in a special capsule designed by Superman to keep Luthor from moving or OH FOR PETE'S SAKE THEY GAVE HIM A TELEVISION SET. Doncha know that Luthor can construct an atom bomb out of a television set, an ordinary pack of playing cards, beef bravy, and that sharpened toothbrush he was shivved with in the prison shower? Luthor tries to get a look at the photograph of Jeff Colby, Lena's boyfriend, but his magic idiot box isn't able to change angles even though he's looking at her without cameras. (Shrugs) The Silver Age!

La la la la la la la la la la (humming The Donna Reed Theme) The next day, Linda/Kara and her boyfriend..."Dick" to go on a double date picnic. As far as I can tell..."Dick"...has no lines in this story and apparently only serves to set things on fire. he thus becomes one of several beards to deceive the world at large that Supergirl actually truly only loves Bill "Biron" Starr, her ancient Grecian boyfriend who is also a centaur. Kara was always a little too into My Little Pony and Superman worried quite a bit about that. As would you.

Anyway, Lena's Thorul-sense is tingling, her ESP warning her wait did we mention she had ESP? Lena has ESP. As the caption (one in every panel!) helpfully reminds us, "Due to a necessarily impurity, Lena has extra-sensory perception of the color yellow." Oh yeah? then who bought that dress? Supergirl spies a crashing plane with the pilot bailing out and immediately jumps to the circumstantial evidence that this must be the same guy Lena's dating. Because comics.

Because Superman has mandated that Supergirl remain under cover and hidden from the human race in her red and blue uniform with a miniskirt, Kara blows Jeff NO NOW STOP IT. YOU'VE GOT A VERY DIRTY MIND. Kara uses her super-breath to land Jeff near to the site of the picnic. But Jeff seems to be hiding something and is acting quite mysterious, hmmmm! HE'S A BIGAMIST! HE'S A MURDERER! and other random guesses.

Spying on Jeff, Linda/Kara/Supergirl learns that he has a mysterious spy car! And that he's transmitting mysterious spy signals! To a mysterious spy base! Mysteriously!

Thus is set up the dilemma of the story, so soap-operaish it's washing my mouth out: Linda knows that Jeff Colby is a super secret agent spy guy with guns and boats and tanks! But she dare not let Lena know that she may be marrying a dirty low-down enemy agent spyyyyyy. (Draw that last word out as long and with as much disdain as you can manage.) Also, here's one time Lena's ESP doesn't warn her of danger! And Linda pronounces the word "choke." This one's got it all!

Even Luthor, finally recognizing Lena's fiance, is aghast at the circumstances.'s somebody Lex knows, huh? Could it be...Otis?

With all the subtlety of a script from Three's Company and not even the Chrissie years, Supergirl vows to break up Jeff and Lena! She vows that once she's done, Lena will totally hate Jeff! So, her plan is obvious: Supergirl is going to show Lena Jeff's Gamergate posts on 4chan.

Yadda yadda yadda much misadventure and misunderstanding later, Supergirl finally finds out that Jeff Colby is a spy like us for us: the FBI agent who put Luthor behind bars! Yes, Kara, there can be good spies too! And hey wait, there was one time when it wasn't Superman who put Luthor behind bars? What's up with that?


All's well that ends well and Lena married Jeff to become Lena Thorul-Colby, an ancient Kryptonian name which means "brother-in-law to Lex Luthor." Say, readers, who the heck do you think the perfect husband for Supergirl will be?


Before we move onto the next appearance of Jeff Colby, Husband to the Sister of the World's Most Dangerous Man, let's peek a couple problematic moments in Action #317, such as this explanation of where Supergirl hides her costume. "The Super-Lipstick: What It Is and How It Came to Be!" Man, that's barely one step different that Batgirl's major weapon being her purse.

Say, did I mention the word "problematic?" SUPERMAN NO

Panels from "Superman's Rainbow Face!" in Action Comics (1938 series) #317 (October 1964), script by Otto Binder, pencils and inks by Al Plastino

Anyway, let's take a look at Jeff Colby's next appearance in comics, shall we? Ooh, this looks exciting! I bet accomplished senior FBI agent Jeff is going to aid Supergirl in hunting down the Man with the Explosive Mind! Or maybe he is the Man with the Explosive Mind! Wow, it's so exciting my mind is exploding!

Cover of The Superman Family #211 (October 1981), pencils by Ross Andru, inks by Dick Giordano

So! (clapping my hands together, leaning forward in excitement) Let's see what super-energized action-thribbled escapades Jeff Colby, The Sensational Character Find of 1964, is diving daringly head-first into!

Oh man. He's dead.

He died after his first appearance and before his only other mention.

The 1978 Calendar's clue refers to a character who only appeared once in a Supergirl backup story and then died.

You suck, Jeff Colby.

365 Days of Defiance, Day 122: Let's Defy Again (Like We Did Last Summer)

from Guardians of the Galaxy (1990 series) #9 (February 1991), script and pencils by Jim Valentino, inks by Steve Montano, colors by Daniel Vozzo, letters by Ken Lopez

Monday, May 01, 2017

What's Bully Watching? And What's Bully Reading? Why, it's all about Ladybirds

I am watching a BBC documentary about Ladybird Books...

...and now I am reading my own Ladybird Books that Randi got me for a present!

Ladybird, won't you? Thank you.

Today in Comics History, May 1, May Day: First recorded occurrence of "Doing the Dew"

"May Day Dew!" from Wonder Woman (1942 series) #119 (DC, January 1961), scripter and artists uncredited and unknown

365 Days of Defiance, Day 121: I'm Not Dead Yet

Panels from Seven Soldiers #1 (December 2006), script by Grant Morrison, pencils and inks by J.H. Williams III, colors by Dave Stewart, letters by Todd Klein

Today in Comics History, May 1, May Day: Kraven's First Hunt

"Spidey and the Short Circus Make May Day Mischief" from Spidey Super Stories #11 (Marvel, August 1975), script by Jean Thomas, pencils by Win Mortimer, inks by Mike Esposito, letters by Irving Watanabe

Today in Comics History, May 1, 1985: Tiny, tiny masthead enrages J. Jonah Jameson

from Web of Spider-Man (1985 series) #5 (Marvel, August 1985), script by Danny Fingeroth, pencils by Jim Mooney, inks by Greg LaRocque and Kyle Baker, colors by Bob Sharen, letters by Phil Felix

Sunday, April 30, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 120: Robot Ruckus

Panels from Justice League of America #108 (November-December 1973), script by Len Wein, pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Dick Giordano, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Ben Oda