Sunday, October 31, 2010

Golden Age Heroes - The Ghost

Happy Halloween Everyone!!! I thought another magic user would be appropriate for the day at hand so I'm presenting The Ghost from the Better/Standard/Nedor stable of characters. George Chance was raised as the adopted son of a powerful and immortal yogi teacher in India. He was thus endowed with the powers of levitation, travel at the speed of light (I'll bet Einstein never figured magic in his equations), animating inanimate objects and also the ability to transform himself and others into astral forms, thus the catchy name. He was assisted by a young lady named Betty and the old Yogi also showed up to lend a hand when the need arose, which it usually did. The Ghost actually had a pretty good run, appearing in the pages of Thrilling Comics 3-40, 42-44 and 46-52, America's Best Comics #9 and The Black Terror #7. As for the action figure, I used a male figure from the Glamor Girls line of mostly girl figures because he was sporting a nice tux and the head from a Toy Biz Mr. Fantastic figure.
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Superheroine - Cat Girl

I recently featured a super character from the pages of Playboy so this time, in my never ending effort to provide a mix of character types and origins, I am presenting a female super person from a young girls magazine. Cat Girl appeared in the British publication Sally Annual from IPC Magazines LTD in the early to mid-1970s. Cat Girl was one of a number of plucky, heroic girls featured in each magazine (mostly hard-bound), including Tiny Tania in Space, Farm Boss Fanny and Maisie's Magic Eye. All of the stories aimed at the young female crowd. There is some level of threat and suspense in the stories, but they rather remind of a Nancy Drew mystery. Cat Girl is the only real superheroine in the group. Her real name is Cathy and she lives with her father, an unnamed private detective, who she helps out with cases (usually he bumbles and she solves them). Apparently her father had helped out an African witch doctor once and was sent a casket containing a cat suit. Cathy tries it on and the suit endows her with extraordinary cat-like powers. She is superhumanly strong and agile, can climb like a cat, has very sharp nails, can track a scent and sense the presence of danger. She also appeared in Spanish and Dutch publications, in the latter of which the catsuit was purple. I decided on all black when I did the action figure, which was a Catwoman figure from one of the fast food restaurants. I used a piece of plastic sprue, which I heated and twisted a bit to make the tail.
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Friday, October 22, 2010

Defender of the Dubious - Hostileman

In another little deviation from the normal, today I present Hostileman from the pages of Playboy magazine. Originally appearing in the December 1964 issue, Hostileman was milksop Bernard Mergendeiler, perpetually oppressed by the women he loved and held up to ridicule by their "trendy" friends. However, when Bernard says the magic word, "Hurt," he is immediately transformed into the "Avenger of the meek, the recalcitrant, the scared and the dubious; champion of the clumsy and wheelhorse for the inept," Hostileman. Written and drawn by Jules Feiffer, I'm aware of only five appearances by Hostileman between 1964 and 1969. However, he had stuck in my mind over the years and after a little research, and the purchase of a couple of back issues, I couldn't resist bringing the character to life in plastic. I used a Marvel Universe 3 3/4" Human Torch/Johnny Storm figure, slicking the hair back and repainting him.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Golden Age Superheroes - Spark Man

Spark Man was a rather unique character in the Golden Age of Comics. Beginning his career in Sparkler Comics published by United Features Syndicate, it was established that he had a secret identity - but unlike virtually every other character, that identity was not revealed to the reader. For the first nine issues the writers played with the readers as to whether Spark Man was really Quill Davis, whose newspaper stories defended the Spark Man, or maybe Val Hall, millionaire sportsman and friend to the oppressed, or finally, was he really Omar Kavak, a famous violinist. In the end it turned out that Spark Man was secretly (but only to his comic book friends and foes) the fiddle player - whoops, sorry, violinist, Omar Kavak. Now I certainly can't be sure, but this is the first and only superhero I've run across who was really a concert violinist. At any rate, Spark Man was apparently a master of terrifying electrical power, sort of like pumped up static electricity, which he could use on the bad guys. He channeled this power through the index fingers of his gauntlets, and quite a shock it would be to bad guys he came into "contact" with. Starting out in 1941 as a costumed superhero, when the war broke out he joined up and fought the Japs in uniform until the war ended. Then he went back into costume for a short time before disappearing from superhero history. He has appeared in Dynamite Comics Project Superpowers, along with a lot of other Golden Age characters. There was another thing that set Spark Man apart - namely that he was one of the few original characters published in the magazine. Mostly United Features Syndicate published reprints of newspaper strips like Capt & the Kids, Tarzan, Abbie & Slats and Bronco Bill. In the future I'll cover a couple more of their original superheroes. As for the action figure, I used a Toy Biz Tombstone figure, to which I sculpted gauntlets, including an elongated index finger with a small crystal on the end. The head was from a Mortal Kombat figure and I made the top knot from plastic sheet and a small bead I had.
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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Golden Age Superheroes - Mr. Justice

I thought for my centennial post I'd do something a little special so I'm featuring Mr. Justice from MLJ publishing house, which ultimately and forever more became Archie Comics. When MLJ started out in the 1940s they had quite a stable of superhero characters, but none stranger than Mr. J. DC's own supernatural hero the Spectre had been around for about a year and I can't say whether or not he may have influenced MLJ's character, but Mr. Justice was pretty bizarre in his own right. Born in England as Prince James, he was lured to his death in a Scottish castle in 1040. Although he took revenge on his murderers from beyond the grave, his spirit was trapped in the castle wherein he died. Then in 1940, supposedly to protect the castle from Nazi bombing (not sure how many Scottish castles the Nazis bombed in WWII) the castle was dismantled stone by stone to be shipped to America. However, while in transit the ship was torpedoed and sunk by a Nazi U-Boat, thus freeing the spirit of Prince James from his entrapment. Continuing on to America he assumed the identity of Mr. Justice and spent the rest of his un-life righting wrongs and battling evil, including Satan himself, with whom he battled a number of times. During the Golden Age Mr. Justice appeared in Blue Diamond Comics 9-22 and Jackpot Comics 1-9. He was an accomplished magic and paranormal entity and could accomplish extraordinary feats. Among his other powers Mr. Justice was able to either shrink himself or grow to enormous proportions so when I decided to make an action figure of the character I decided on three. The middle sized is a 6" Top Biz Daredevil I repainted, while the larger one is a 10" Daredevil from the same company. The little version is a Superior Models motel Captain Crusher 25mm figure that I modified and painted accordingly. I actually was quite pleased with the set.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Golden Age Villains - Tweedledee & Tweedledum

I haven't featured any DC characters previously because most of the major ones have been done as action figures already. Sooo, I decided to feature a couple of fairly obscure ones that haven't been committed to plastic by their parent company or its toy maker accomplices. I always thought Tweedledee & Tweedledum were rather fun. They first appeared as villains in Detective Comics No. 74 from April 1943 and have historically been associated with Batman in his stable of villains. They were, in reality, Deever and Dumfree Tweed, who were cousins rather than twins as someone might think. They always operated as a pair, but don't expect either one of them to go fist to fist with Batman or Robin. They plan the crimes and hire muscle to carry them out. They are actually pretty lazy (which may explain their turn to crime in the first place) and just plain fat - in fact so fat that they can bounce around to evade capture. They haven't been used a great deal down through the years but are featured in a couple of more recent DC story arcs. The action figures I used are the Boss Hogg figure from the Dukes of Hazard line with hats from the Superpowers Collection Penguin.
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Golden Age Heroes - Moon Man

From the pages of Mystic Comics #5 of March 1941 comes Moon Man, "master of many sciences" and defender of the defenseless and oppressed. Well, at least for one story, because that's as long as he lasted. From the publishing house of Timely (Marvel) is this one-shot wonder. In the story he investigates a fresh meat supplier who is substituting tainted product that he's providing to the orphanage for their Christmas dinner - now what could be more heinous than serving tainted meat to orphans on Christmas?? I can't even imagine!! Working out of a penthouse apartment but without an apparent secret identity the Moon Man is supposedly wanted by the bad guys and the police. His fate and further adventures are as yet unrecorded. For the figure I used the body and head from a Toy Biz Daredevil figure, the arms from a Superman and the legs from a Captain America. I used little crystal half-balls for his ear pieces.
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Thursday, October 7, 2010

Golden Age Superheroes - Falcon

I'm presenting another obscure Marvel/Timely charter today, the Falcon. This is another of those frustrated officers of the law - in this case crusading district attorney Carl Burgess - who decides to circumvent the sluggish legal system and take the law into his own hands as a costumed vigilante. He elected to adopt an alter ego which would strike fear into the hearts of criminals near and far - the Falcon. Other than apparently being able to glide, the Falcon doesn't really have any other super powers. Just a trusty .45 caliber automatic with which to mete' out justice (yeah some of them actually shot the bad guys during the Golden Age - a more violent time I guess with the world at war). The Falcon appeared in only two issues of Timely's Daring Comics (#'s 5 & 6) before disappearing into comic book oblivion. I am not aware that Marvel has revived him in the modern age. The figure was fun from an artistic point of view. I used a Toy Biz Daredevil figure for the body coupled with a Captain America head. The hard part was the falcon on his chest, which I did freehand, as well as the belt and the designs on his gauntlets.
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Monday, October 4, 2010

Golden Age Superheroes - Fiery Mask

I decided on a bit of a departure today, presenting a Timely/Marvel character named the Fiery Mask. He was really Doctor Jack Castle, a young physician called in to investigate the appearance of apparent zombies in town. His investigation leads him to a house where he encounters a big headed zombie guy and a beautiful zombie girl along with some giant buzzards. Ultimately he encounters a huge, grotesque, oriental looking guy who's engineered the whole zombie thing. Part of the zombie treatment apparently includes hypnosis, but Jack Castle is also an experienced practitioner of the hypnotic arts and when the bad guy amps up the zombie-making machine it explodes. The explosion gives Jack Castle a range of superhuman powers and makes his eyes glow under certain circumstances. Knocking off the bad guy and rescuing the (now un-zombied) girl, they escape as the house burns down. Adopting a superhero costume and covering his fiery eyes with a mask, Jack takes on crime as the new hero Fiery Mask. He appeared in a few issues of Daring Mystery Comics and one of Human Torch Comics until his popularity waned. Although Marvel has resurrected a number of their Golden Age characters over the years I'm not sure Fiery Mask received such treatment. The figure was made from the body, including arms and legs of a Toy Biz Captain America figure, while the head is from a Robin figure, but I can't remember which one. Fiery Mask had a couple of costumes but I rather liked this one the best.
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Saturday, October 2, 2010

Golden Age Superheroes - Dart and Ace

Today I'm offering another hero from Fox Features Syndicate. This one is the Dart, along with his kid sidekick Ace, the Amazing Boy. Dart has a rather convoluted origin, having been a gladiator named Caius Martius, who was empowered by the gods with the power to "dart" - or basically fly - in order to root out crime. He was somehow imprisoned in a rock for 2,000 years, awakening in 1940 in a museum, which must have thought his rock was pretty enough to keep on display. He goes outside and immediately witnesses a drive-by shooting, which kills the parents of a boy named Ace. Taking the kid under his wing, the Dart decides that he needs to root out crime in the modern era as well. He assumes a secret identity of Caius Martius Wheeler and teaches Roman history (convenient that he spoke English - perhaps another gift of the gods) in his spare time, while with Ace, the Amazing Boy at his side, he battles evil as his primary duty. The Dart appeared in Weird Comics from issue #5 to #20 when it disappeared altogether. He did show up later in Dynamite Comics Project Superheroes. The Dart appeared to have a number of different versions of his costume - some with blue trunks and boots and bare legs, some with green highlights, suggesting a number of artists collaborated on the character. I chose to use the yellow and red version, which seemed to be the most popular. I used a Tor Biz Daredevil body with the head from a NASCAR driver (don't remember which one) on Dart and a Mattel Secret Wars Wolverine body and the head from a Toy Biz Robin figure for Ace.
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