Sunday, August 29, 2010

Golden Age Villains

Yesterday I presented Brad Spencer, Wonderman and his girl friend and gal Friday Carol Paige. I mentioned that he had some outer space villains and today I thought I'd present a few of them as well. Leader of the crew is Dr. Voodoo, an alien criminal mastermind. His chief sidekick appears to be the Immortal Emperor, who's exact function I haven't determined. On the sun Dr. Voodoo has a crony named Solaris, who rules one of multiple cities on the sun's surface - ouch!! While on Pluto Dr. Voodoo has set up Lilith who's titles include Goddess of Evil, Regent of Darkness, Princess of the Planet Pluto and Supreme Ruler of the Universal Realm - whew!! In one story the sun is referred to as being 92 million miles from earth, which is at least pretty close to its 93 million. But in the other story Pluto is said to be 35 million miles from earth, when in reality it is between two and seven BILLION miles from earth. Anyway, Dr. Voodoo and his cronies seem bent on controlling various parts of the solar system with their mad-science devices and the only one who seems able to stop them is Wonderman. Isn't that great??!! As for the action figures; Lilith was made using a Toy Biz Jean Grey body and the head from a Wonder Woman. Immortal Emperor was made using various GI Joe parts and I sculpted the head from Sculpy. As for Solaris, he was made from a Star Wars Star Destroyer Commander and the head from a Black Hole Reinhart figure. Dr. Voodoo himself was made from a Mayor May Who from the Grinch Stole Christmas - who's hair I dremeled off and then gave him Sculpy ears and those strange horns and goatee. Wonderman's rogues gallery - after all, what's a hero without villains to battle.
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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Golden Age Superhero - Brad Spencer, Wonderman

Today I'm featuring a little different type of superhero of the Golden Age - the space adventurer. In the tradition of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, both of whom originated in the Sunday comics pages and later had movie serial adventures, comes Brad Spencer, Wonderman, from the Better/Standard/Nedor publishing concern. Brad was apparently exposed to some sort of secret energy that gave him super powers, including a steel-hard body. Making his debut in the pages of the Complete Book of Comics and Funnies, alongside Zudo the jungle boy and Perky the quiz pig in 1944, he subsequently moved to Mystery Comics for four issues and finally Wonder Comics from issues 9-20, making him a fairly successful character in the genre. He seems to have spent most of his time fighting space villains like Dr. Voodoo, Lilith, Goddess of Evil and the Immortal Emperor, who I may cover in a later blog article. Brad was ably assisted by Carol Paige in suitably skimpy "space-age" outfits. The Brad Spencer figure was made using a Tyco Jack Tenrec figure from Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, along with the head from a Playmates Captain Kirk figure. Carol Paige was made using the body from a Jean Grey figure and the head from Xena's sidekick Gabrielle, both by Toy Biz.
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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Golden Age Heroes - Spy Smasher

This is an early superhero character from Fawcett Publications, appearing in the very first issue of Whiz Comics along with the initial appearances of such luminaries as Captain Marvel and Ibis, the Invincible. Again, some of the purists might argue that Spy Smasher didn't have any superpowers so he wasn't really a superhero - I discussed this issue before. But he was certainly doing the same things most of the patriotic superhero crowd was doing - namely fighting the Axis on our home soil. On the cover of Spy Smasher No. 9, which I've used as a backdrop for the action figure, he's even beating up on Hitler, Mussolini and a Japanese warlord. Spy Smasher also shared other traits with other superhero characters - i.e., he was a bored rich guy ala Bruce Wayne, Oliver Queen and many more. He starts out as bored millionaire Alan Armstrong, engaged to Eve Corby, who is the daughter of Admiral Corby. The admiral feels that recent "accidents" have been the work of saboteurs/spies/enemy agents - take your pick - and his son-in-law-to-be agrees to investigate. Inventing and building a Gyrosub, which can both fly and travel in water, he begins his campaign against the Axis agents. He actually lasted through most of the war, shifting from a khaki outfit to the green one illustrated here during the course of his career. When the war was over he had a brief career as the Crime Smasher before fading into comic book obscurity. Along with the other Fawcett characters he is now owned by DC, which used him in a couple of their cross-over story lines between the Justice League of earth-1, the Justice Society of earth-2 and the old Fawcett characters from earth-S. He also appeared in a Republic 12-part serial during the war - apparently only the second superhero to do so after Captain Marvel. Later there would be a bunch of them. The action figure was made using a Star Wars Imperial Commander figure and the head from a GI Joe Ninja Force T'Jbang figure. I sculpted the goggles from Skulpy.
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Custom Action Figure - Crime Crusher

A couple of blogs ago I featured a superhero from Warren Comics, who was typically not known for superhero characters - the Fighting Armenian. I decided to feature another unconventional superhero character from Warren today - the Crime Crusher. In a story entitled Superhero! in Eerie #32, March 1971 Crime Crusher made his only appearance that I'm aware of. For the first few pages it seems to be a fairly straightforward - if overtly violent - story of a masked vigilante kicking criminal butt and working with slightly reluctant police approval. The violence is logical since, as Cousin Eerie who introduces the stories observes, the magazine is a horror comic after all. A couple of the cops discuss his violent methods and one of the crime lords bemoans his loss of the "loot." So the crime lord imports some out-of-town talent to dispose of his superhero nemesis. However the "torpedo" soon learns that Crime Crusher is playing with a secret trick up his sleeve - he's a vampire! While Warren had created a female vampire heroine - even if some would argue whether or not Vampirella was a super heroine - this was probably their first costumed vampire superhero. At the end of the story the two cops are wondering what the Crime Crusher is going to do when he's disposed of all the criminal element in town and still needs to feed. Guess we'll never know. The figure was made from a Hasbro Marvel Universe 3 3/4" Guardian action figure painted black with the C reverse C on his chest. The chain belt was made using a small piece of chain that I tied together with thread at the back.
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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Golden Age Action Figures - Silver Streak

In a previous post on the Golden Age Daredevil I mentioned his first appearance was in Silver Streak Comics published by Lev Gleason. However, it wasn't until issue 3 that an actual character named Silver Streak appeared in the magazine. As contrived origins goes this one ranks right up there at the top of the list. An unnamed swami was promoting a racing car named the Silver Streak but his drivers kept getting killed off by giant insects controlled by a super villain scientist named Dr. Katan. The swami then hypnotizes an unnamed cab driver into driving for him and - low and behold - this guy gets killed by the giant insects as well. However, the swami uses his magics and brings the cab driver back to life - not sure why he didn't do that for the earlier drivers - and endows him with super speed and the ability to fly. Silver Streak defeats the mad doctor and then goes on adventuring for the remainder of his comic book run. Initially wearing a sort of purple, green and orange bodysuit, he seems to have most often worn the costume depicted here. I don't have any of his adventures but I rather liked the character's look. He also has a couple of sidekicks - one I've seen variously reported as a hawk or falcon named Whiz (depicted to left) and a kid sidekick at first named Mercury and later Meteor, but I have no depictions of him. The action figure was made using a Toy Biz Silver Surfer body and the head from a Galoob Starship Troopers Ace Levy head.
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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Custom Action Figure - The Fighting Armenian

Today I am deviating from my normal Golden Age period to feature a rather unique superhero from the early 1980s. The Fighting Armenian was featured in Warren Comics Eerie magazine. Anyone familiar with Warren will know that they came along in the 1970s publishing black and white comic "magazines." Since they were larger format magazines as opposed to comics per se (although printed on the same kind of paper) they did not fall under the Comics Code of the period. The Comics Code was something most of the regular comic book companies signed up for to prevent external censorship in the 1950s when certain people had determined that comics were the reason the youth of American was rebellious. Rock and Roll music, video games, the internet and many other mediums have been blamed for why the youth of America is rebellious. Maybe they just are rebellious and don't need these external influences. Anyway, the Fighting Armenian (real name Sergei Baginski) was mostly played for laughs. He was from behind the Iron Curtain but defected to the West and was fighting for truth, justice and all that stuff. Most of his appearances (like most of Warren's comics) were in black and white, but every now and then they would have a color insert and the graphic presented here is from that Sept. 1982 issue. He also had some black and white adventures. The character is schizophrenic and not too bright, but he means really well. In the text they have various nicknames for him, like the Arbitrary Armenian and the Bumbling Bolshevik. The action figure was made from various GI Joe and Street Fighter parts and painted accordingly. I also had to use putty for his boots. I didn't want everyone to think that I only did Golden Age figures - and besides, I really wanted to take a jab at the comics code.
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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Golden Age Heroes - Cat-Man & Kitten

Cat-Man - or, as he was later known, Catman without the hyphen - was a character from Holyoke Publishing, a relatively small publishing firm birthed at the beginning of the Golden Age in 1940. He debuted in the fourth issue of Crash Comics as a backup story to the cover hero Strongman. By issue 5 he had taken over the cover, which was also the last issue of that book, then showed up in his own book shortly thereafter. He ran for about five years and was one of the better known characters of the Golden Age. In his back story Cat-Man starts life as David Merrywether, who is orphaned in the jungles of Burma when his parents are murdered in a bandit attack. Raised by a she-tiger, he develops the jungle skills of a great cat and - eventually - the nine lives of his caretaker. Returning to civilization he perceives it not to be as civilized as he may have wished and becomes first a private investigator and later a lieutenant in the army. However, that is rarely enough for those well-endowed superheroes so he also adopts the costumed identity of Cat-Man in order to fight crime and oppression. He eventually takes on an 11 year old orphaned girl - who seems to fill out rather quickly during the books five year run - named Katie Conn. She of course takes on the side-kick role as Kitten - one of the few female side-kicks during the period. The character was revived by AC Comics for their Vault of Heroes storyline and later by Dynamite Comics for their Project Superheroes. There was also an Australian version of the characters but I haven't really assembled enough material to do figures of them yet. For the action figures I used a Toy Biz Daredevil with a Captain America head for Cat-Man and a Fast Food Catwoman figure for Kitten. I used epoxy putty to shape the ears, painted them and put on cloth capes.
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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Golden Age Figures - Chuck Magnon, The Immortal Man

Something a little different this time around - a bunch of figures that all represent one character. First appearing in the pages of Red Dragon Comics No. 9 from 1944, published by Street & Smith, Chuck was originally a Cro-Magnon man who was struck by lightning. Rather than just frying his butt the lighting made him immortal. He witnessed the fall of Atlantis after making its knowledge his own; he saw the glory of ancient Greece; he experienced the brutality and the grandeur of Rome and studied and fought his way through the Middle Ages. In other words he fought his way down through history until today (circa 1944) he had come to embrace peace. After all, if he were to lose an eye or a limb it would be for all eternity. In the story I have he battles an ancient Egyptian priest and of course defeats him. Comic book readers may realize that DC Comics had their own Immortal Man character, but he began life in the pages of Strange Adventures No. 177 from June 1965 so Chuck Magnon obviously predated him - I cannot say if DC's Immortal Man was inspired by the Street and Smith character. In the picture you see Chuck at various stages of his career. In the back row on the left is Chuck when he lived in Atlantis circa 9400 BC (Warlord of the Red Planet figure from Superior Models), next right is Chuck as a Crusader Knight circa 1095 AD (metal figure made in China), then comes a Roman General circa 50 AD (Superior Models), and finally on the top row far right is a Renaissance Knight circa 1300 AD (metal figure made in China); on the front row far left we have an English Crowmwellian Soldier circa 1650 AD (I believe made by Worcester Miniatures), then next right an officer of the French Imperial Guard circa 1808-15 AD (made by Superior Models), then on the far right is Chuck as an ancient Greek circa 400 BC (Perseus from Clash of the Titans), then next from right is a landed gentry from circa 1500 AD (Jakks Pacific Dracula figure from the movie Van Helsing with another head on it), and then finally in the middle is Chuck as he was in 1944 (Playmates 1940s Data with Captain Kirk head).
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