Monday, June 28, 2010

Golden Age Superheroes - Blue Flame

Today's superhero was almost a direct ripoff of Timely/Marvel Comics Human Torch - except instead of being red he's blue (maybe he's powered by natural gas). At any rate, the Blue Flame only appeared in one issue of Captain Flight Comics (#11) in 1947 published by Four Star Publications. If he has a secret identity its never disclosed and when he "flames off" he's a guy in blue swim trunks and blue booty thingies. In his one and only appearance he faces the villainy of S. Aitan, whom the reader is led to believe is Satan himself, who robs a jewelry store. Satan robbing a jewelry store? Now what's up with that?? Why would Satan even want to rob a jewelry store?? I don't know. Anyway, Captain Flight #11 was the last book in the series and afterwards Blue Flame seems to have disappeared into superhero limbo. Blue Flame was included in AC Comics Vault of Heroes, although I don't know if they ever actually used him. The action figure was made using - can you guess - a Human Torch figure, which I painted a couple of shades of blue.
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Golden Age Action Figures - The Mask

Today's character is from the Better/Standard/Nedor stable, running in Exciting Comics from issue number 1 to 20 between 1940-42. As the blurb at the beginning of the stories tells us, "Tony Colby, fighting District Attorney, is blinded by a vengeful gangdom. Secretly he regains his sight, and combats crime in the role of The Mask!" Aided by his assistant Carol, Tony/Mask has gone from crusading DA to masked vigilante, wielding an automatic and an attitude. I'm always fascinated by the officers of the law in fiction who turn to vigilanteism because they have no faith in the justice system. I guess rather than try to fix the system it's just easier to take matters into your own hands. I really hope people aren't doing that in real life, but what the heck. Anyway, in the one story I've seen of the Mask he mixes it up with the bad guys and actually shoots a couple so the gun isn't just for show. The action figure was made using a Kenner Two-Face figure from the movie Batman Forever and a Toy Biz Flash head. I used putty for the neck piece. The figure was already holding an automatic so it made a good choice.
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Monday, June 21, 2010

Golden Age Action Figure - Rainbow

For this post comes another character from the Centaur Publishing house. This one appeared in the pages of Arrow #3 in 1940. A college grad named Jim Travis is sitting quietly in his home reading a superhero comic when he is suddenly struck with the idea that he could be just as good a crime fighter as any of the mystery men in the comics. When he runs this idea past his girlfriend she scoffs that he needs a colorful costume and he needs to be a he-man. The colorful costume is no problem, as illustrated, and he does beat the crap out of a criminal gang. But his girlfriend should have really added that he needed a superhero moniker that would strike fear into the hearts of criminals and somehow Rainbow just doesn't seem to fit that bill. Of course the leader of the gang he foils is named Black Rufus and frankly that name doesn't really strike much fear either. As it turns out Arrow #3 was the last issue for that particular comic and the first and last appearance of Rainbow. I don't even think he was revived by AC comics as one of their Vault Heroes or Dynamite for their Project Superheroes. Anyway, he was a rather fun character to bring to life in plastic. I used a Toy Biz Silver Surfer (everything but the arms which were from a JLA Atom), and I used bits of plastic sheet for the circular things on the sides of his head and the do-dad on top. I rather liked the way the cape joined to his head-piece.
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Golden Age Heroes - Radior

Today's character is another real obscure one. Only appearing in Key Ring Comics in 1941 from Dell Publishing, the whole set of five were bound together as a two-ring binder for 10 cents. Since I've never actually read his story the only information I have on Radior is from the front of the comic, which reads, "Will one man - Radior, the X-Ray Powerman - save us from the dread force threatening to enslave our whole nation." The cover and the lightning bolt on his forehead suggests he has super powers, perhaps electronically based and perhaps some mental powers. I would love to actually read his story but I liked making the action figure. The figure itself was made from the body and legs of a Toy Biz Silver Surfer with the head and arms from a Toy Biz Captain America.
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Golden Age Action Figures - The Purple Zombie

Today we present an undead (maybe the first) superhero, from the pages of Reg'lar Fellers Heroic Comics numbers 1 through 12. A supposedly dead convict brought back to life by Doctor Malinsky with an assist from Kimberly Hale, the creature's skin turns purple and he becomes impervious to bullets. Malinsky proclaims he wants to create an army of zombie warriors to help him take over the world, but Kimberly (Kim) Hale was working on the invention to prolong life. The Purple Zombie, who's name is Zoro, decides he likes Hale's reasons better and kills Doctor Malinsky and all of his backers. Kim Hale and Zoro then embark on a series of adventures, some of which take them back through time where they help King Richard the Lionheart defeat some Saracens, Sir Francis Drake defeat the Spanish Armada and get caught up in the French Revolution. In the 12th and final story Zoro reveals that although he was supposedly a dead convict he was in fact alive so he never really was a zombie after all, although the experiment turned his skin purple and gave him great strength and resistance to injury. He is subsequently exonerated of his crimes and joins the army to fight in the war and Kim Hale is off to Washington to work on a new explosive for the government. The series was by-lined Tarpe Mills, one of the earliest female cartoonists, who went on to create the more successful Miss Fury series. In his earliest adventures Zoro seems disoriented and a little Frankenstein-like, but by the end he's become quite sophisticated. The action figure of the Purple Zombie was made using parts from three Toy Biz figures: the upper body is from a Ka-Zar while the pants are from a Hydroman while the head is off a Professor X. The Kim Hale figure's body was acquired at a second hand toy store and I don't know the manufacturer but the head was from a Cops figure. In the case of the Kim Hale figure no painting was required.
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Golden Age Heroes - TNT

For those more familiar with DC comic book characters there was a superhero named TNT with a kid side-kick named Dan, the Dyna-mite during the Golden Age. They've been resurrected over the years in various story lines - but this is not them. This TNT was published by Centaur and appeared in the pages of Amazing Man Comics, where he made his first and only appearance in issue #21. Treve N. Thorndike (initials TNT, get it), one of the world's youngest scientists, single handedly not only splits the atom (in 1941) but then weaponizes it into a side-arm within a few hours - something teams of scientists haven't been able to accomplish in decades. Only in the comics. Anyway, he immediately decides (of course) to use his new creation to fight the forces of evil. That evil turns out to be a kidnapping gang, who's mansion he just happens to stumble across as he's driving around. They drop him down a trap door where he battles a prehistoric man of some sort - I guess most kidnap gangs come with a Neanderthal - who he blasts with his atomic gun. He gets captured again and tied up but works his way free and pursues the gang, ruining their engine with his atomic gun, which the gang was apparently too stupid to take an interest in. All in all the story isn't much better or worse than a lot of tales from the Golden Age - some being almost charming in their naivete. I made the figure from a Marvel Toy Biz Daredevil body and the head from a Professor X. The holster on his right hip is from a Jurassic Park Muldoon figure.
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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday's Child

The actual quote from the rhyme is, "But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day is bonny and blithe and good and gay." My representative for Sunday's child is Julie McCullough who I had an opportunity to meet last month at the Motor City Comic Con in Novi, Michigan, even though she was actually born on Saturday - but what the heck, it's my blog. She was Playmate of the month for February 1986 and an actress, including a recurring role on Growing Pains until Kirk Cameron got religion and decided a girl who took her clothes off for the camera was too racy for him - I'll not comment. She currently works as a stand-up comedian and if you'd like to see her she posts her schedule on MySpace. She's also appeared in a couple of episodes of the Girls Next Door TV series - in one she tried to help Kendra clean up her room - notice I say tried. I have always been charmed by her smile and she's very sweet in person and has a thing for hats. If you have an opportunity (and don't object to meeting beautiful women who have posed naked for a magazine) then I highly recommend you meet this lady. She truly is bonny and blithe and good and gay - that's in the cheerful context, not the sexual preference sense.
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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Golden Age Heroes - Twilight

Twilight was a character from Hillman Periodicals and appeared in the pages of Clue Comics (seven issues) between 1943 and 1945. He was a former private detective named Terry Gardner who was, by the time we meet him, a sergeant in the Marine Corps. He first became involved in superheroing when a fortune-telling parrot (remember I don't make these things up) was being stalked by killers because it was squawking about their plan to kill a foreign minister. The parrot gave Terry a fortune card that said, "At twilight you will be master..." which Terry took as a sign of some sort. Ducking into a costume shop Terry emerged with this strange animal-like outfit with fur and long ears and a large "T" across his chest and thwarted the killers plans. He teamed up with the parrot named Snoopy, who was a lot more intelligent than your normal parrot, to take on various criminal elements. The patter between Twilight and the parrot is actually rather amusing. Twilight seemed to have no super powers but is a first rate hand-to-hand combatant and has his trusty parrot to carry out reconnaissance and bring him the keys when he gets locked in a cage. The action figure was made using a Toy Biz Ka-Zar body and the head from a Toy Biz Hercules. Fur on the arms and legs and the horns or ears or whatever were made using Sculpy. The parrot I got from a craft store that had a collection of toy animals.
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Friday, June 4, 2010

Golden Age Superheroes - Lynx & Blackie

Here's another hero from one of my favorite Golden Age publishers, Fox Features Syndicate. This time around it's The Lynx and his kid side-kick Blackie, the Mystery Boy. The Lynx is really one of those seemingly bored and dissolute young millionaires named Jim, who secretly dresses up in tights and sallies forth to battle crime. There seems to be very little back story about the guy and in the one story I have everyone seems to know where he lives so maybe his secret identity isn't really such a secret. He also has the seemingly obligatory ward named Phil who is "secretly" his kid side-kick Blackie, the Mystery Boy - well at least he didn't use his real name as his hero name like a lot of them did. There are references to superhuman strength and speed and in a few panels it looks like he can fly a bit, but in the story he gets rendered unconscious by a blow to the back of the head and then tied to railroad tracks and has to be rescued by Blackie. He also drives around in a car so if he could fly it apparently wasn't very far - maybe he was just a good leaper. He has an apparently recurring evil villain called the Rook, but in the criminal machinations in the story most everyone seems to be out for his blood. The pair ran in about 19 issues of Mystery Men Comics so he wasn't just a one-shot wonder. As for the action figures, the Lynx himself was made from an Kenner Total Justice League Atom figure, but I sculpted the mask and hair from Sculpy. Blackie's body was a Mattel DC Universe Alex Luthor figure with the head from an old Voltron Keith figure.
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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Golden Age Super Villain - The Great Question

Yesterday I featured Amazing Man (see previous post) and mentioned that he was trained at a Lamasery in Tibet. As it turns out, one of the Lamas was really a bad guy who took on the persona of the Great Question. He was the chief villain in the Amazing-Man comics and one of the first super villains in the Golden Age of comics. Early on most of the superheroes fought criminals, Nazis, Japs, a few Italians and the ubiquitous saboteurs. Arch criminals like Superman's Luthor didn't come along until a little later. But the Great Question was a real super villain, created in the early days of the medium. He received basically all of the same training as Amazing-Man and in addition he had incredible telepathic powers, capable of projecting his thoughts across the world and bending all but the most powerful minds to his will. Although later he would team up with Hitler, from the beginning he had amassed a huge army of soldiers as well as slaves to build his bases and infernal machines. He truly was a super villain in the most interesting sense. After all, few superheroes can get by without a stable of super villains to test his or her mettle. The action figure was made using a GI Joe Cobra Commander head and the body of a Star Wars Emperor figure.
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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Golden Age Heroes - Amazing Man

"Gifted with super-human strength and many mystic powers, master of telepathy (mind-reading), hypnotism, and other powers, Aman, the Amazing Man, fights a mysterious super-criminal known as the Great Question. He is assisted by Zona Henderson, who thinks three times faster than most people!!..." and later by Zona's young brother Tommy The Amazing Kid. The most popular of the early characters from Centaur Publishing (introduced in September 1939), Amazing Man started life in Tibet as John Aman, an orphan who was trained by a secret Council of Seven Masters to have all the superb qualities listed above. He could also make himself disappear in a cloud of green vapor, which earned him the nickname of Green Mist. He was also called Aman or A-Man, I suppose depending on who was lettering that issue. He was rather interesting in the ebb and flow of superheroes of the Golden Age, possessing both physical powers and also mystic ones. His early partner Zona Henderson was also unusual in that she was much more of an adventure partner rather than playing the "damsel in distress" role of Lois Lane and some of the other female "friends of the superhero." Tommy came along late in the series run, which ended in early 1942, during a period when many superheroes were being saddled with kid sidekicks, probably to boost sales to the pre-pubescent crowd. Frankly I never identified with the kid side-kicks even when I was a member of the pre-pubescent crowd. As for the action figures; I made Amazing Man from a Dark Warrior figure from the Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves movie and the Tommy figure from a Mattel Secret Wars Daredevil body and the head from a Stargate Daniel action figure. Tomorrow - The Great Question!!!
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