Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blackhawk Villain - The Deadly Lensman

In Blackhawk #145, February 1960 the deadly Lensman shows up to frustrate the Blackhawks. Using a strange machine that can use light rays in various ways he manages to frustrate all attempts to capture him and his gang. He can project illusions of alien monsters, or focus the sun's energy to form a beam capable of slicing through steel. The Blackhawks finally manage to figure out where the Lensman's hideout is and confront him in his lair. The Lensman tries to blind the Blackhawks with intense light so his henchmen and sneak up on them, but the Blackhawks throw off their jackets and reveal vests covered with bicycle reflectors that shine the light back at the criminals. Then the Lensman tries an infrared heater on Blackhawk but he has a handy spray-gun which fires black paint, blocking the Lensman's lens. So of course the Lensman proves not to be as deadly as he believed himself to be. For the action figure I used a 3 3/4" DC Infinite Universe Green Lantern (how appropriate, right??) first painting it white and then dabbing all those tedious little red dots of paint. I made the white collar from a piece of fabric - sometimes I'll sculpt features like collars and sometimes I'll use fabric, depending on my mood I guess. I also placed a couple of small crystals in his eyes to simulate the Lensman's goggles. As to whether I'll ever take on the task of doing seven Blackhawks with reflective vests - only time and the fates can tell. Woof!!
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Riddle of the Sphinx - or Smoking really is hazardous to your health

From the pages of Blackhawk #150, July 1960 comes the story of the Riddle of the Sphinx. The Blackhawks are pursuing a criminal mastermind called the Sphinx who, with his gang, is plundering an unnamed city. The Blackhawks step in but the gang manages to escape their first encounter. The next thing we know a man in a bus terminal is tripped by a dog and his valise falls open (can't get a decent lock for those things) and diamonds fall all over the floor. Other material in the valise links the man named Bates to the Sphinx robberies and he is quickly tried (wouldn't happen that fast today) and incarcerated. He pleads his innocence with the Blackhawks who agree to investigate. They quickly stumbled upon the Sphinx and his gang but are trapped and the Sphinx lights the candle in a barrel of gunpowder with his cigarette lighter. However, the Blackhawks escape and trail the Sphinx to his hideout where the Sphinx apparently jumps into a raging river committing suicide rather than be captured. Later they catch up with the man who was actually masquerading as the Sphinx, who had thrown a dummy into the river. The man is a smoker, even though it was established early in the story that the real Sphinx didn't smoke. It is finally revealed that Bates was really the Sphinx all along and the elaborate deception was designed to make the authorities believe he had been framed. So in this case smoking led to every one's downfall. The action figure was made using a Remco Dracula figure to which I attached a GI Joe Cobra Commander head. I then sculpted the side parts of the mask. The cape was cut from an old T-shirt. I really like the Blackhawk villains because they allow me to use a lot of different types of action figures and techniques.
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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas - Have a Super Holiday

Wishing you a very happy Xmas today are the American Crusader and Miss Masque (or maybe more appropriately Ms Masque). Both characters were originally published by the Better/Standard/Nedor house, but these versions are based more on the revived characters by AC Comics. American Crusader was made using a Captain America body because I liked the star, and otherwise Daredevil parts. Miss Masque was made using the body of Playmates Star Trek Ensign Janice Rand, the legs from an Ilia, the head from a Gargoyles Elisia and the hat from a Toy Biz Joker's henchman Bob. And from me personally, for those of you who visit the site, best wishes of the holiday season.
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Fire and Ice - The Split-Man

Appearing in Blackhawk Comic #184, May 1963 a scientist named Cahill claims to have been experimenting with extremes of heat and cold when a mishap occurred and he was bathed in the two extremes. He suddenly began to have episodes where he would transform into a split man - half melting heat and the other half freezing cold. He initially seemed to be seeking help from the Blackhawks but then seemed to be losing his mind and turning to crime when the Split-Man episodes overtook him. He starts robbing banks and jewelry stores and there seems little the Blackhawks can do to thwart his fire and ice powers. Eventually Blackhawk discovers Cahill can really transform at will by use of the transmutation machine he created and they cut his power and take him into custody. I thought since it's been really cold for a prolonged period of time and they're threatening snow again this weekend it would be nice to have the powers of fire and ice and right now I could use more of the heat and less of the cold. The Split-Man action figure was a kid's meal Human Torch figure that I painted on the left side to reflect the Split-Man's frozen side. I liked the way the "flames" on his left shoulder appeared like they could also be frozen ice sickles sticking up. The major challenges here were painting a straight white line on a curved surface and the chest emblem, which required a little free-hand sketching.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Blackhawk Framed - By the Badge

In Blackhawk #194, March 1964, after he accidentally allows some criminals to escape, Blackhawk receives a call from police Chief Stacey, an old friend. Blackhawk is asked to meet the chief at a location where police discover part of the loot from the robbery, implicating the Blackhawk's chief in the theft. Humiliated and stripped of his chest symbol, Blackhawk is bailed out and the following day a new hero appears on the scene sporting the costume of the Badge and with Blackhawk's distinctive voice and manly chin. The Blackhawks believe their former leader has assumed the Badge's identity to fight crime while he's under a legal cloud. However, when the Badge escapes with thieves rather than bringing them in everyone is after the former Blackhawk leader. In the end it turns out the hoodlum Boss Maddox was responsible for the frame. He imitated Chief Stacey's voice to lure Blackhawk to the stolen money and later disguised himself as the Badge and used Blackhawk's voice to delude everyone that Blackhawk was committing the crimes. In the end Blackhawk leads the police and his own team to the bad guys hideout where all is revealed. I used a Marvel Showdown Captain America figure as the basis for the Badge, which I had to Dremel the star from the chest and repaint.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Blackhawk Villain - Cat-Man

Those comic book aficionados among my readers may protest that Cat-Man was in fact a Batman villain, who is still revived from time to time to flesh out Batman's rogue's gallery of bad guys. However, while Batman's Cat-Man first appeared in the pages of Detective Comics #311 in January 1963, this particular Cat-Man made his debut in Blackhawk #141, in October 1959, predating Batman's baddie by over three years. This Cat-Man shows up to challenge the Blackhawks, claiming to have been given nine lives by an African witch doctor. He proceeds to squander most of them eluding the Blackhawks during the course of the story until Blackhawk convinces him that, rather than two lives left to lose, he has only one. Blackhawk saves his life at the end and we're left to wonder if he really has one or two lives left. He was never used in the pages of Blackhawk's comic again so we never found out and the Batman version was restarted entirely, although with the whole 'nine-lives' thing going for him as well. This is also another example of criminals who appear to be rich already so why turn to a life of crime - he has not only one jet fighter but actually two identical planes!! Not sure what a custom built jet fighter was going for back in 1959 but I would suspect only the rich could afford one, much less two of them. The action figure was made using the body from a DC Infinite Universe Mirror Master and the head from a Wildcat figure.
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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blackhawk Villain - Killer Shark

Killer Shark was the most persistent of the villains facing the black knights over the course of their run. I believe he first appeared in March 1952 in Blackhawk #50 and was still around to pester the Blackhawks 200 issues later. Although never appearing to be very physically adroit, and usually depicted as slightly over weight, Killer Shark relied on a small legion of underlings and an array of infernal machines to accomplish his crimes. While I never thought about it much when I was young, in recent years it's occurred to me that if these villains had enough resources to build their infernal devices, why did they have to turn to a life of crime in the first place. Maybe they are just bad people who need an excuse to build infernal devices. Killer Shark's devices included various submersibles, including one that looked just like a whale and another with a buzz-saw for a bow with which he cut the Hawksub in twain. Ouch!!! Later on Killer Shark captured Lady Blackhawk and somehow subverted her into becoming Queen Killer Shark, his loyal hench-person, for a time. The figure was made using a Marvel Showdown figure of Doctor Octopus designed for a game system. I removed his backpack with the eight legs, filled in the holes and sculpted the headpiece and used a couple of crystals for the ear coverings on the sides of his head. He already had the goggles, which helped a great deal. This is actually a later representation of Killer Shark's costume and I may go back later and do an earlier version of the villain.
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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blackhawk Villain - Sea Wolf

Today's offering comes from the pages of Blackhawk #87, April 1955. It's ten years after World War II and mysterious submarines commanded by the sinister Sea Wolf are terrorizing arms shipments to Western European democracies. The Blackhawks are called in to deal with the menace but find that attacks from the air meet with only limited success. As a result they determine to build their own super submarine, powered with atomic energy!! The story is a little vague on how long it takes them to build this atomic submarine other than saying, "As the days pass the underseas craft nears completion...." Of course the real first atomic powered submarine, USS Nautilus, was laid down in June 1952 and wasn't completed until April 1955, with all the resources of the U.S. Navy and the Electric Boat Company at work on the sub. But the Blackhawks (with just the seven of them working on the project) seem to have knocked their boat out in a matter of maybe weeks. Blackhawk then meets a girl named Maria who claims her father, a Nazi U-Boat commander during the war, is actually the Sea Wolf. However, after providing some information on the location of the Sea Wolf's base, Blackhawk is attacked and the girl is kidnapped. The Blackhawks put to sea in their submarine named the Hawkmarine but find their route to the base is a trap, which they manage to escape. They attack the wolf pack and Blackhawk unmasks Sea Wolf, who he discovers has really been Maria all along. In later stories the Blackhawk's submarine was named the Hawksub but Hawkmarine was a nice change of pace. As for the figures, Sea Wolf herself was made using a Hasbro Star Wars Carbonite Han Solo and then sculpting the wolf's head and scarf out of Skulpy and using a red crystal for the clasp. Her crew were made from four Bespin Luke Skywalker figures with various heads from GI Joe and a Godzilla figure.
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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lhala, Tigress of the Desert

Another Blackhawk villianess from the pages of their Blackhawk #95, December 1955, back when the title was still being published by Quality Comics. The western powers have built an oil refinery in the desert to support their Middle Eastern bases of operation. Out of the heat and sand rides Lhala with her desert band disguised as a local tribe in order to disrupt and destroy the refinery's operations. Of course, when they do the Blackhawks just happen to be touring the facility and immediately swing into action to defeat the attackers. The Blackhawks are captured by Lhala and learn she is trying to foment Jehad among the Arab tribes. Of course they escape and defeat Lhala and her forces, saving the world from a Holy War - gee, where are they now when we really need them?? The action figure conversion itself was easy, merely a paint job on a Star Wars Rabe figure (one of Queen Amindala's hand maidens). But then I went on a bit of a hunt for an appropriately sized camel to go with her, which I eventually located. I do so love to accessorize.
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