I mentioned in my last post that I had this giant Superman comic that had a bunch of reprints in it. The story from Action Comics No 261 was about Superman's Fortress of Solitude. As he was giving a tour there was a bust of a guy named Urko the Terrible. Turns out Urko was a self-proclaimed cloud intelligence who hated all other life forms in the universe - terrible indeed. Urko turns the statues of Superman's friends like Lois Lane and Perry White into superpowered minions and sends them against Supes, but he's too invulnerable and it turns into a Mexican standoff. Superman has a confrontation with Urko in space, using his super-breath to propel a sun at Urko. The sun consumes Urko and that's the first and last appearance of that particular villain. Of course I thought Superman had this personal prohibition against taking intelligent life - but I guess it doesn't extend to smart clouds. When I first saw Urko I thought, "Golly, he looks a lot like Ming." Turns out I just happened to have a spare Ming figure so I painted him green, accented his mustache and eyes and drew the star-burst emblem on his chest with a black paint pen. Urko lives again!!
I picked up a compilation comic recently (Giant 80 page Superman No. 187) that had three stories with my favorite artists. I confess that these stories from the 1950's and 1960's had some of my favorite Superman art in them - check the page. This was how I saw Superman and still do. There's something about the set of the jaw, the way he's depicted in flight that appealed to me and still does. I never really paid attention to who the artists were when I was young and I'm only marginally more aware of them today. In my defense back in the day that artist information was rarely annotated in the comics. Turns out, according to some of the reference material I've checked out, the penciler on these stories was Wayne Boring and the inker was Stan Kaye. This is sort of like my favorite actor portraying Superman was George Reeves and my favorite James Bond was Sean Connery. It was nice to see this art again and I wanted to share - so there ya be....
Daxam is a world where the people are humanoid but, similarly to Kryptonians, when they are exposed to certain gravitational conditions and the influence of a yellow sun, they gain superpowers. However, unlike Kryptonians who are weakened by Kryptonite, Daxamites are brought low by lead. Guess there's not a lot of that where they're from. In the 30th Century Darkseid, a really bad dude and major villain in the DC Comics universe, grabbed a Daxamite named Ol-Vir and had him carry out several missions for the him. Ol-Vir joined the Legion of Super-Villains for a time and fought the Legion of Superheroes, but was defeated. I used various GI Joe parts and head for Ol-Vir and some epoxy putty for the collar on his uniform.
The Thought Terror is a Golden Age Hawkman villain who has the power to hypnotize people with a stare. He charges people to predict their futures and then hypnotizes them into going off and doing whatever he predicts. He has a cadre of hypnotized henchmen to assist him in his nefarious activities. Hawkman discovers what is going on and goes after the Thought Terror with a shield - like the one Perseus used to approach the Gorgon Medusa by looking at her reflection in the shield. In this case, however, the Thought Terror inadvertently hypnotizes himslf in the end. The story was originally published in Flash Comics #4, April 1940. I used some GI Joe body parts for the figure and the head of the cowled version of Cobra Commander for the, then made a robe for the character from T-shirt material and found a belt in my box of spare parts.
In a story arc from the 1980's Superman encounters a fellow called the Cleric on a space adventure and learned of a device called the Eradicator, which had been created on the planet Krypton. The device got him back to earth, but unfortunately it began to influence his thinking. It brought out the Kryptonian in Supes, who began to reject his earth upbringing. He even changed his costume to the version you see depicted here and started calling himself by his Kryptonian name, Kal-El. Jonathan and Martha Kent grew worried and went to Metropolis where they discovered their adopted son was growing more distant and less human. Kal-El takes his foster parents to his Fortress of Solitude in the Antarctic where a showdown takes place, with his parents influencing him to recapture his humanity and the eradicator trying to... well... eradicate them. Humanity triumphs and Superman resumes his old outfit and tries to dispose of the Eradicator by casting it into the sun. He's only partially successful and the "spirit" of the Eradicator makes a comeback later. I rather liked the costume change, which was designed to fit in with the reimagining of Kryptonian mythology going on during this period. I used a Superpowers Collection Superman figure, filing off the detail and repainting it and then adding some cotton along the arms to simulate the material in the picture. I think I used a little too much, but that's just my artistic license coming out of me.
So Hurricane Sandy was approaching and I worried that I might lose power and if that happens I can get water in the basement. I have lots of boxes down there (mostly filled with action figures) so I decided to move everything upstairs for the duration. Fortunely (and unlike a lot of people further north) I did not lose power so now I've started moving everything back upstairs with less uegency. However, in the process I hit one of my shelves full of action figures with a box and every figure on the shelf came down, along with a number on other surrounding shelves. As I was putting all that back together I stumbled across the Spymaster figure that I hadn't thought about for a long time. It was actually one of my early figure conversion projects. Spymaster was basically a mercenary for hire and worked for Zodiac, rogue SHIELD agents, Justin Hammer, Madame Masque and AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics), mostly battling Iron Man, SHIELD and Daredevil. The first one got killed off and there was a second Spymaster - after all it was a pretty good villain name. I used a Toy Boz Daredevil body with a Spider-Man head to make the figure. I can tell it's one of my early efforts because I used enamel paint, which I gave up after too long for acrylic - on some plastics enamels will never set up properly and remain forever tacky. I do so like taking a walk down memory lane - even if brought on by a hurricane!
Following the death of Superman in that story arc during the early 1990's four replacement Supermen arose. One was a clone who would eventually be known as Superboy and one was Steel - John Henry Irons, who built a suit of armor for himself. The other two superpowered replacements included the Cyborg Superman and the visor Superman. Cults arose around these latter two and there were actual demonstrations before the large statue of Superman commorating his life and death. At this particular demonstration you can see the cyborg followers on the right with the left side of their faces colored to match the Cyborg's appearance. On the left are the worshipers of the visored Superman and they are wearing goggles to better celebrate their hero. I decided to throw in a kid in the middle who's just wearing a Superman T-shirt and is really caught inbetween the two demonstrating groups. The girl on the right is from the line of Breyer horses and the kid is from the Speed Racer movie figures but the rest are mostly GI Joes. I used some material I specially purchased for the purpose, made a pattern from paper and then traced out all the robes and then sewed them together. I printed out the Superman symbols and glued them on the fabric and I painted the "cyborg" side of the faces of that group. I made the placards from paper glued on sticks. It was a little different group than I'm used to making but they seemed important to the "Reign of the Supermen" storyline and they were kind of fun to make. It also shows how quickly some of these cults can suddenly appear.
I've mentioned the company Shapeways before (see under Ultra Carrier post) and I continue to be impressed with the range of products that are being offered there. Individuals are able to realize their fondest creations and that results in some interesting ship models. The Kronstadt represents another model of a ship that was never completed. Not a fantasy model since it was laid down (along with a sister ship Sevastopol) but when Germany invaded both hulls were damaged beyond repair on the slips and thus never completed. The Kronstadt class was designed in reaction to the German pocket battleships of the Deutschland (later renamed Luetzow) class, the most famous of which was the Graf Spee. The pocket battleships were fast for their day and were armed with six 11" guns so basically they could outrun anything they couldn't outgun during the period. The French built the battleships Dunkerque and Strasbourg to run down the pocket battleships and the Kronstadt class were designed for a similar mission. They were to be 35,240 tons standard, 816 feet long and 103 feet wide and capable of 33 knots. They were armed with nine 12" guns, eight 6" and many anti-aircraft mounts and had 9" belt armor. They were somewhat similar to the later American Alaska class. The model is very nicely detailed and I'm hoping that eventually someone on Shapeways will do a model of the Sovetsky Soyuz class battleships to compliment these.
Talk about star-crossed lovers - a young man from another planet away from his adopted home for the first time attending college, meeting a strange, exotic and beautiful young woman in a wheel chair and falling in love, only to find out she's secretly a mermaid. Didn't they do a movie of that called "Splash?" Anyway, that's how Clark Kent (aka Superman) first met Lori Lemaris. Her race of merpeople had gotten separated from their home of Atlantis and she'd been looking for the path back. Later Superman, through his buddy Aquaman, finds the way back to Atlantis, but Lori is injured and an Atlantian doctor nurses Lori back to health and of course she falls in love with him! Supes just can get a break with this girl. Over the years Lori has sort of come and gone through the DC Universe, although I'm not sure she's made any appearances since the Crisis on Infinite earths. But I remember the original story from my youth and wanted a Lori in my collection. My first choice was the metal figure on left by Superior Models, but later I found the Epoxy resin figure at right and moved that one up to the Lori position, with the other one becoming just another mermaid - one can never had too many mermaids in one's collection.
Professor Ivo is a villian who has been menacing the DC Universe for decades now. He was tormented by the idea of death and managed to concoct a serum that would give him eternal life. Of course, like most things in life, it had side effects, in this case turning him into a really ugly guy. He's alternated between being ugly and being OK over the years and has distinguished himself creating androids. He made Amazo, who fought the Justice League to a standstill and also Tomorrow Woman, who I don't know much about. However in JLA #'s 2 & 3, November-December 2006 he created a boat load of Red Tornado duplicates, but in different colors. Apparently the Yellow one has sun-like powers, the blue ones project winds and the green ones project lightning. I'm not sure about the black and red ones. Anyway, they all seem to spin. In one two page splash panel 26 of them attacked the JLA. Now I just couldn't resist the possibilities so I acquired 26 Superpowers Collection Red Tornado figures and painted 20 of them - you guessed it, I left the red ones red. I know, I get carried away. The Professor Ivo figure was made by combining a Bruce Banner body in lab coat and the head from a Star Trek Barkley.