House of Mystery #148

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House of Mystery has long been associated with horror but it actually featured superhero stories from #143- #173. Martian Manhunter aka J’onn J’onzz was the main attraction for the majority of that span. He’s always confused me a little. Not the character overall but rather his popularity. The dude is a straight up heavy hitter in the DC Universe and when he comes up in conversation among fans there is genuine affection there.

So why can’t J’onn hold on to a solo title like the other big guns? He’s an original member of the Justice League who has appeared in video games, animation and live action TV. He’s also been in so many titles, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him DNA tested on Maury.

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” Grant Morrison is a HO!”

I suppose it’s fitting to follow up a paternity test anecdote with Martian Manhunter battling a race of prophylactics. Wait, don’t tell me you don’t recall the Clash with the Condoms back in ’65? All good, that’s what I’m here for. Let’s take a peek at House of Mystery #148 “The Beings in the Color Rings” ( I preferred my title too) by Dave Wood and Joe Certa.

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Before we examine the story, I have to be honest with you. I don’t care for sidekicks. Some have a place. Marvel’s Rick Jones or DC’s Robin for example, had important roles in comic book history. Mention the likes of D-Man or say, any animal in a cape to me and prepare for a look that will melt your face off. J’onn may have had one of the worst of the bunch in Zook. He’s cute, resembles a teddy bear, speaks like a child and every time he appears on panel, I want to punt the little bastard into next week.

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“I’m gonna bring you home and flush you like a turd.”

The issue begins with Bedford City being attacked by a strange creature from the sky. J’onn hears the radio bulletin while chilling in his mountain lair and deducts it must be a manifestation of “The Idol Head of Diabolu”. Other than having a name that rolls off the tongue, Diabolu was an artifact from Mars that granted ordinary folks powers. If his suspicion of it’s involvement is true, we can add giving baby toys sentience to it’s resume.

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“Let your kid play with these at your own peril pal…”

So what form of evil is this thing capable of? Basically, it tosses rings around that suck up items of corresponding colors only to spit them back out sans pigment. Yellow ring picks up a yellow taxi and voila, it’s white. Before you head to the rooftops and start yelling “Cheeseballs!” at the heavens let me remind you this was the sensational Silver Age. An era chock full of random plot points, so there is one cool thing it can do… summon an electrified two headed octopus!

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      “J’onn please. Don’t be rude. It’s name is Larry and he has a Massage License.”

This proves to be a let down. The wannabe Wacky Wall Crawler is merely a mirage. Something that does please me however, was back in the day heroes had powers to suit any pickle. Kids nowadays with their search engines will never understand the importance of  “Super Memory”. That’s right, us old timers used to walk to school during blizzards and had to use our alien brains to access the Encyclopedia Britannica. The struggle was real. Oh before I forget, the Earth is about to be enslaved by ringworm hungry for paint.

hom1487“The Rainbow Paint Factory appears to be constructed from a crossword puzzle.”

Rather than fight any more imaginary beasts, J’onn has a plan. It’s terribly stupid but hey, if you haven’t noticed already, this isn’t the finest work of fiction. He decides the ringworm is absorbing colors and sending them somewhere. If he can become bait maybe the source will be revealed. Showing exemplary carpeting skills, he rolls up giant piece of turf to call attention to green. The trick works and he’s whisked away to another dimension. May I remind you he’s already the correct hue so the sod sushi is a bit unnecessary.

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“Little known fact: Martian Manhunter taught Bob Marley how to twist a spliff.”

At the start, I referred to this yarn as the Clash with the Condoms. Well I’ll be damned if the “disk people” he encounters are not related to rubbers. Seriously. They seem harmless at first. “Color gives us power” and all that jazz but their real intent is to oppress Earthlings and coat the world in latex. Just kidding, I made that last part up but it’s actually an improvement to the plot.

PicMonkey Collage“This Halloween, tell your friends it’s a Disk Person costume.”

Now that our hero has found himself at the mercy of sinister love gloves, how does he save the day? Surprise…he doesn’t. J’onn actually gets his Martian mutton roasted by the baddies. All seems lost until, and I’d rather swallow nails than say this but Zook comes to the rescue. A character I can’t stand shows up, yanks him out of out of trouble and this issue wraps up with J’onn remarking he owes the city a patch of grass.

This book was ghostwritten and I completely understand the creators not wanting to be associated with it. Rancid from start to finish, I had zero enthusiasm to check out the back up feature “The Man who Hated his Powers”. The story was one of the worst I’ve ever read. That’s saying something. I can usually justify the existence of a comic by relating to the time period it was released but in this case, the defense rests.

If your a hardcore Martian Manhunter fan or just someone interested in learning more about him, this is not for you. On the other hand, if you’re eager to get your Zook on, He’s the true protagonist in this drivel. Read away and prepare for a robust slap to be delivered by yours truly.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

 

 

 

*All images/video clips are rights of their respective owners. Links to external sites are used solely for informational purposes.

 

 

Metamorpho #4

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While it doesn’t happen often, sometimes a cover grabs me. It’s so enticing that I can’t resist getting a little giddy to see what’s inside. Metamorpho #4 dated Jan-Feb. 1966 is exactly what the Doctor ordered. It’s colorful, action packed and takes you on an adventure prior to page one. Pure silver aged goodness.

Now that the front of the book has amused my avacados, let’s open it up and find out if the carpet matches the drapes. First off, here are the creators that brought us Metamorpho’s Mexican migration titled “The Awesome Escapades of the Abominable Playboy”.

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I’ve written about the scripter Bob Haney before in Two Staple Gold. Be sure to give that column a look see. Shameless self promotion is my middle name. Sorry Bob…

The renowned Ramona Fradon penciled this groovy little gordita.  She is truly a living legend. Besides being the co-creator of Metamorpho, her Aquaman work is considered some of the most iconic in the history of the character. Spending the majority of her career at DC, Ramona also drew the Brenda Starr newspaper strip from 1980 until her retirement as an illustrator in 1995.

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Something you need to know about Rex Tillerson aka Metamorpho. He may be one butt ugly dude but deep down he’s a romantic. ‘Morpho was created by mad scientist Simon Stagg and he’s in love with Simon’s daughter Sapphire. Sure, her dad is nuttier than a bag of bolts, has a creepy cro-magnon as an assistant and her name is suitable for a stripper but what a looker! From a readers perspective, this makes for an interesting supporting cast to say the least.

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“That’s funny. ‘El Bonehead Stupendo’ was my nickname in college. Small world.”

Problem is, Sapphire is one fickle female. She has feelings for Rex but wants more attention. How does one garner extra affection from DC’s resident Elemental Man? Easy, he may be able turn his limbs to steel but isn’t impervious to a taste of jealousy. That bitter nectar can make the most steadfast superhero a little loco.

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“Could’ve started Operation: Honesty but the story would’ve ended next panel.”

She selects “Cha-Cha” Chavez, an over the top latin lover as the tool for her spite campaign. A Mexican millionaire who’s wealth is a mystery. In an impressive initial act, he showers Sapphire’s home with flowers. So much so that Team ‘Morpho must escape to the roof. He then displays his redesign of Mt.Rushmore featuring Sapphire’s likeness. Ridiculous? Absolutely, but her dad is sold.

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“Wonder when ‘Bring her Hot Fudge’ makes it’s debut on Urban Dictionary.”

Metamorpho isn’t pleased Cha-Cha is moving Heaven and Earth to woo is gal but has no say in the matter when the entire clan is invited to board his yacht for a trip to his homeland. Setting sail steaming mad, he notices something odd while stewing on the starboard side. A submarine has launched a torpedo at their boat. Rex quickly transforms into a Manganese Paravane (hell if I knew what that was) and destroys the missile.

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“Technically, if there were no time a paperclip would have been a logical choice.”

In the process, Metamorpho managed to also blow himself to bits. His limbs conveniently land on board the yacht. Speaking of opportune situations, there happens to be a lab below deck that Stagg uses to piece his monster back together. He better hurry, an attack plane has started spraying​ bullets at everyone topside. Returning in time to save the day, our hero smells something fishy. Accusing Cha-Cha​ of foul play,  it’s explained as a Mexican way of saying howdy. Nice excuse buddy. What’s next, your Chihuahua ate your homework?

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“OK Chavez enough malarkey…wait, that dog is friggin’ HUGE!”

 

Settling in at Cha-Cha’s mansion proves to be no picnic either. The source of his money is indeed based in criminal activity. He’s an arms dealer and angry rebels have stormed the compound. In a blaze of gunfire, they kidnap Simon Stagg and his lackey Java. Well, take a wild guess who has to go off and save everyone’s guacamole again. This time however, rather than transform into some wacky device, he rolls like a native. Hi-Ho Silver away! Bad ass to the max dude.

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” Sir…that cigar WILL BE AVENGED!”

The hostages have been put before a firing squad for their affiliation with Chavez. Simon, who in the beginning would have covered himself in chicken feathers for the man now renounces him to no avail. As the guns go off, Metamorpho rides in and turns his arm into what he calls an “iron mitt”. To me it looks like a giant ladle but I suppose that’s a tough feature to sell when marketing your powers. “What can you do?” they ask. “Me, I turn into an indestructible spoon!”. Yeah, iron mitt it is.

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“The DCU Ping Pong Champion of 1966”

The rebellion realizes they stand no chance versus a superhuman, so rather than fight they make their case to Metamorpho. They inform him that Cha-Cha Chavez is a dictator that goes by the name “El Lupo” and is one cutthroat bastard. The weapons he procures are used against his own countrymen. ‘Morpho is having none of that. Sapphire is still in the grubby grasp of that sinister señor. He rallies the troops and rides back to the hacienda only to discover Cha-Cha​ escaping via helicopter with his lady.

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“At that height, I think I’d just jump out of the damned thing.”

They’ve fled to the Capital where Metamorpho goes incognito mosquito in a nifty sombrero, following their tracks to a bull fight. The nation’s insurgents has taken to him, spray painting propaganda throughout the city in his name. Beats having your phone number scrawled in bathroom stall by comparison.

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“For a good time call Geoff Johns.”

After entering the arena, Metamorpho discovers that the bull has been fitted with a booby trap. The tip of it’s horns are actually bomb detonators. One tap and the stadium gets blown to smithereens. Well, say no more. This looks like a job for Meta-Matrador, Ole! Yeah, I just made that nickname up but I kind of dig it. The crowd, unaware of their lives being in danger are wowed by Meta-Matrador’s skills. He proceeds to reshape into various forms, avoiding a perilous poke. ‘Morpho snaps off the pesky prick, saving the lives of the onlookers but leaving the Bull with a case of antler envy.

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“Isn’t that illegal? Shouldn’t he get a yellow card or something?”

 

 

 

Defeated, Cha-Cha tries to make off with Sapphire. Java the caveman jumps to the rescue  but you just knew somebody was gonna get jabbed in the ass, or as I lovingly refer to it as a “toro tickled”. With Java down for the count, Metamorpho turns himself into gelatin glue and stops our bad guy in his tracks. That’s right, a scoundrel undone by a snack! Shouldn’t be surprised though as Jello sure did a number on Bill Cosby and Lindsay Lohan. Talk about getting yourself into sticky situations! Ahem…

“J-E-L-L-Oh hell NO!”

Full disclosure, I left a couple of plot points out of my recap. Why? I really want you to go check this out. It’s campy as you imagine but the book is crazier than a pinata filled with firecrackers. I love the ever livin’ crap out of it. Props to me for not fully spoiling a fifty one year old comic. Gotta take my pats on the back where I can get them people.

Here’s a novel idea. Some of you may be familiar with the Justice League Action cartoon. It’s actually pretty rad and my kid really enjoys it. Why not take some silver age yarns like this one and adapt them to animation? It can’t be faithfully reproduced as some of the subject matter isn’t suitable for kids these days but it’s the whole enchilada when it comes to silly entertainment. See that, I’m an idea man. Show me the dinero.

Pick this one up. It’s a classic.

David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter. For the record, “El Lupo” has no meaning in Mexican Spanish, so feel free to toss that nugget around. Your Welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Metamorpho #4 images rights of DC Comics. All other pictures and videos rights of their respective owners.

 

Justice League of America #70

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There’s just something about the Creeper I like. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the colors and offbeat costume or my affection for those on the B-List. What I can say for certain, there’s not too many great Creeper stories out there. I’ve enjoyed some of the original Ditko material but if someone were to ask me “what’s the greatest Creeper story ever told?”, I would reply it’s yet to be written.

When Justice League of America #70 (cover dated March 1969) landed on my desk, I was excited. Here it is, this could be the one! Not only is this book written by a legend in the field, just look at this cover. He toys with the League in all of his gaudy greatness.

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The answer sadly is… no. This is not the book that breaks the mold for the Creeper. All is not lost though as this is the debut of a character that will change the DC Universe forever! Are you excited for the big reveal? No? Understandable as who I’m about to introduce would be lucky to get a kazoo serenade. Ladies and Germs, this is the first appearance of… Mind Grabber Kid!

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“One thing is for sure, Dishpan hands need not apply”

Mind Grabber Kid gives the Creeper a run for his money in the tacky garments department but as we will come to find out, lacked the staying power. I’ll get more into that later. First, I mentioned a true luminary scripted this jazzy jaunt, so let’s talk the talents who put this together.

It was written by Denny O’Neil. Whew. I mean, c’mon. The man left classics at every turn of his career. His runs on Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman with Neal Adams are  considered some of the most iconic books of their era. He also edited a Daredevil run by some guy called Frank Miller. GREATNESS.

Art chores were handled by Dick Dillin and Sid Greene. Dillin started drawing for Quality Comics, most notably on the Blackhawk series. He later moved on to DC and spent 12 years as the penciller on Justice League. Greene inked for many publishers for over 30 years but his true claim to fame was helping to define the look of DC’s Silver Age characters.

As promised, back to Mind Grabber Kid. I’ll affectionately refer to him as “Grabby” even though, unlike others in a position of power, he sticks with brainwaves only. He’s hitting the scene for the first time and busts up a robbery right out of the gate. Not too shabby. The onlookers however aren’t as impressed with his heroics as they are with the exploits of the J.L.A. being broadcast on TV in a nearby shop.

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“We just got our asses kicked by…Forbush man???”

This fills Grabby with jealousy. So much so that when Shrek like Extra Terrestrials who love oven mitts send a transmission to Earth, he intercepts it with his mind and delivers a terrible reply. In a nutshell, he claims the League are just prick bastards that must be destroyed.

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“All of our controls are hot…VERY HOT!”

Where is the Justice League of America while all this is going down? They’re terribly bored actually. Watching a baseball game is a option but leave it to Batman keep their biscuits busy. Well, provided he doesn’t have to do any of the work himself.

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“Green Lantern speaks with his eyes and Batman’s getting the what’s up”

Investigate the Creeper it is then. Our mean yellow-green laughing machine is on a case of his own. He’s out to get the mob and finds out their next move is to rob an atomic power plant. Why? Honestly, we never find out but whatever it’s the groovy 60’s man. Pass the triple dipped white blotter and hop in the van, we have a wild three way to get to.

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“Even further below, at the Earth’s core, nothing happens… but I had to keep it going”

The Creeper acts first, beating up mobsters with ease but the Atom jumps in and pulls a shit for brains move. Distracted, the Creeper gets K.O.’ed and Atom socks the bad guy. That’s all the proof the aliens needed that the JLA are bad for business. Screwed up sense of reasoning there but any excuse to don a Meta-Cap makes it worthwhile.

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“Don’t forget your jackets! It’s chilly out there”

So what the heck is a meta-cap you say? Pretty dope gadgets actually. They can mimic and counteract the League’s powers. Disposing of them one by one, the aliens encounter a serious problem: Superman’s abilities. There’s just too much to try and imitate. I was actually surprised by the “super-suction”. I can only imagine when that comes in handy.

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“Jeez G.L., that sucks..err..blows..umm…”

Don’t forget about our little buddy Mind Grabber Kid. He’s just kicking it at home and hears a news report on the radio about the ruckus. Time to throw the long johns back on baby! It’s also fairly rad that he could care less what his parents think. They just assume he’s taking part in a school play…or sniffing glue.

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“Could have something to do with that Kooky crack pipe”

By the time Grabby arrives at the scene, the aliens had used some atomic junk to simulate a red sun, neutralizing Superman. These guys are legit! Oh wait, one problem. The Creeper registers as a normal human to all of their instruments and when it comes to fisticuffs, those oven mitts don’t cut the mustard.

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“Yeah you have something in common, your both color blind ya knucklehead”

The Mobsters prove to be the dumbest criminals alive. Rather than taking the opportunity to high tail it out of there, they see this as a chance to whack the League. Grabby realizes his spite was misguided and it’s up to him to save the League. Using his telekinesis, he pulls Superman’s hand away from the red sun’s rays.

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“Wurg? Must be the sound one makes while crapping their pants”

Superman bounces back and takes down the overzealous law breakers. He then plays the role of sneaky weasel and tells the Creeper to scoot. Grabby apologizes for lying to an entire race. Oddly, they just say whatevs and hit the road. Mind Grabber Kid learned a lesson on humility, finding inspiration in the Creeper. This kind of annoyed me. The whole book, Grabby keeps stating he is a regular Joe. The dude has some serious powers and is lucky he didn’t get his ass meta-capped into next week. Quite the whiny little bastard if you ask me. We end with everyone happy and the action wrapped up in time to finish watching the ball game.

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“Nobody says liar, liar, pant’s on fire in outer space”

The word I would choose to sum this story up is goofy. That’s not a bad thing. It was so zany however, I was kinda expecting Brother Power the Geek to pop up out of nowhere. This is where it gets his entertainment value from as it’s truly a campy outing. Let’s not forget this dandy dropped in 1969, so the narrative was loyal to the whimsical comics kids enjoyed.

Earlier, I touched upon how this was not a Creeper classic and Mind Grabber Kid’s inability to go mainstream. They both still have merits. For the Creeper, his quality as an anti-hero is on full display. In many ways, he could be perceived as a Joker/Spider-Man amalgam. A misunderstood hero who cracks wise and opts to maniacally laugh when faced with danger. What’s not to love about a wildcard who’s intentions can be difficult to navigate as a tightrope.

Grabby…oh Grabby. At the conclusion of this issue, readers are urged to write in asking for his return. America’s youngsters must have forgotten to lick the stamps as he wasn’t seen again until 1992. Leave it to Grant Morrison to dust him off as “Mind Grabber Man” during his Seven Soldiers project roughly 12 years ago but to love him entitles you crazy cat lady status in comic book fandom.

Not the best story to ever see print, it still has a little bit of something for everybody and is worthy of your attention. Dig in on some early Denny O’Neill and enjoy the trip.

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David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Images rights of DC Comics

 

Brave and the Bold #137

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Just about every comic book fan has heard of DC’s Brave and the Bold. The first volume  ran for 28 years and 200 issues. Thanks to the popularity of his TV series the title exclusively featured Batman team ups with #74 and struck a chord with fans. Other versions have come and gone since the original run ended in ’83 but it also inspired a successful animated series that aired from 2008-2011. So it may be fair to assume you have a favorite story that stemmed from the series.

Could it be the one where fighting  sorcerers gave Jason Blood a hankering for Chinese food? Didn’t think so. How about the time Batman was bested by a bottle. Must have slipped through the cracks. No worries, I’m here to fill you in on this mess known as Brave and the Bold 137 “House of the Serpent” starring Batman and the Demon. Cover dated October 1977.

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Before I tell you about the creative team on this book, I need you to feel my pain. Some of these older stories just plum stink. The talents behind them however have resumes that could make you blush. No exception here. So while I enjoy finding the humor in clunkers and wonder “what the hell were they thinking?”, I respect the work put into a book. Before you say I’m just a punk, keep that in mind.

The writer was Bob Haney. A WWII veteran that co-created DC’s Teen Titans, Metamorpho, the Enchantress and Eclipso among others. So yeah, tip your cap.

John Calnan handled the art chores. John started his career doing Westerns and created Lucius Fox with Len Wein. He worked as an art director in advertising and a Television producer for agencies calling comics “work on the side”.

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Welcome to Gotham’s Chinatown. The streets are empty sans one-man. Who would take a leisurely stroll through this part of the city at this hour? Batman is who and he’s strutting down the sidewalk like he owns the joint because nobody does a foot patrol better than the Dark Knight. Cue lightning…or just a creepy lantern.

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“Did you wander around aimlessly then as well?”

I’m going to get this out of the way, the Batmobile never appeared in this issue. Oddly he never references or uses it once despite the need to travel across town. I’ll get more into that later on but for now I’ll just assume he’s trying to log miles on his Fitbit.

In the count your blessings department: If ever tossed out of a building, consider yourself a lottery winner when Batty just happens to be outside and saves you with an awning. This guy just avoided a broken neck and for the dudes that chucked him, you not only have the worst luck in the history of mankind, but Batman is going to pound your last brain cell out of your earhole. Next time, look before you litter! Dummies.

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“Always give complimentary sack shots after a save.”

Turns out the place is a gambling den operated by a flock of teenagers called the “Dragon Gang”. They should find whoever came up with that name and introduce them to an unlocked window pronto.

Batman displays his incredible fighting prowess. Naw, just kidding. He flexes his ass cheeks, touts his suits deflection ability then gets knocked out with an empty bottle. Should’ve stayed downstairs there hotshot. I suppose using a thug to demonstrate your baseball swing earns points BUT only if you call your shot first.

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“For my next amazing feat, I will…OUCH!”

Jim Gordon and the police arrive. It’s revealed these hooligans are looking to take over the local turf. Rather than bring that empty bottle of MD 20/20 to the cave for display next to the giant penny, he vows to protect Chinese New Year. Yes, he swore an oath to a holiday. Batman is better than all of us.

He is back hoofing it on the sidewalk and just happens to bump into Jason Blood and his fiance who just finished grubbing on duck. After hearing Bats account of what went down with the Dragons, he decides it’s best if his alter ego, The Demon, joins the case. Telling his babe to mind her own beeswax, they’re off to pound some pavement and delinquent derriere.

bb1375.1“And a misogynistic asshole problem.”

Thanks to some random dude shouting “Batman come quickly!!” they are led to what looks to be a relic shop. There they find an old man dead with a petrified look on his face. Batman takes a quick look and determines that this was a natural death. Hold on there Mr.Worlds Greatest Detective, a woman comes busting out the back screaming. She claims the deceased was frightened by the evil wizard Shahn-Zi and she’s got some soggy weeds in her hand to prove it! This is no run of the mill sticky icky. Batman knows his greens. This only comes from one place in the world, China’s Yellow River and is the calling card for none other than, you guessed it, Shahn-Zi! He’s got the good stuff baby.

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“Or maybe this issue bored him to death?”

After filling Blood in on Shahn-Zi’s backstory, it’s decided that they will split up and comb Chinatown for the sorcerer. You take the mysterious fog on the right, I’ll take the alley shrouded in darkness. Can I get a chest bump? Go Team!

The Foggy route was the short end of the stick as Jason Blood immediately runs into the Z-man and gets his Brundlefly on. No fisticuffs, just a quick incantation that makes him bug out.

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“When transforming into an insect, pants are optional.”

On a nearby rooftop the Caped Crusader also finds Shahn-Zi but by simply wielding a knife, it’s a tip off that this is an imposter. It’s actually the leader of the dragons, Willy Chang. He’s still into hurling humans from heights but Batman gives him some sweet chin music and avoids becoming a gravel cake.

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“No truer words have ever been spoken.”

Blood retained his thoughts despite being in fly form. He’s lost the ability to speak but has an idea. If he can write out the incantation to summon the Demon on a scummy window pane, maybe just maybe, it will have the same effect .He does just that and wouldn’t you know it, the spell is broken. Astral energy starts flying… along with fish hooks. I guess when your power is magical you just summon up the most random shit that comes to mind.

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“Kinda kinky if you ask me.”

Shahn-zi whips out a door of illusion and hightails out of the fray. Again with the spur of the moment magic malarkey. Batman had hauled Willy down to the Police Station. Only thing that did though was make Jim Gordon all sweaty. So despite having him on charges of attempted murder and impersonating a Warlock (The latter should be a crime, write your congressman people.) he is set free. Batty uses this as a perfect opportunity to follow him back to his lair. He prowls the rooftops and even rides atop a gondola while in pursuit.

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“Never on Sundays Willy…Na Na a boo boo”

Shahn-Zi is waiting at the hideout, presumably pissed someone is running round in a knock off of his knickers. Willy goes after him with his blade. When is this friggin’ guy going to cut it out with the knife stuff? The answer is the next panel as he is tripped and stabs himself in the chest. The remaining Dragons are in shock  and we get the greatest statement ever said in unison.

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“Seriously, that had to be planned.”

Batman goes all gung ho after Shahn-Zi  but the teaser from the cover finally occurs. He is quickly transformed into a real Bat. Like Jason Blood, he keeps the ability to think but has a hankering for jugular juice. Meanwhile, the Demon is enjoying a siesta in the sewer. He has a little telepathic chat with Merlin who instructs him on how to defeat a fellow practitioner of hoodoo.

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“Looks pretty damn comfy to me.”

Shahn-Zi told Batman that his change becomes permanent at midnight. Why is it never 11:45. Has to be stroke of 12 every damn time. Anyways, our hero starts flying around in absolute panic. The New Year celebration has begun with a parade. The Dragons are concealed within a large paper snake that’s part of the procession. They are completely under the control of Shahn who, in fact, is the paper snake. You ready to try some of that Yellow River weed yet? Puff puff pass, enter the Demon and some serious fists of fury.

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“So that’s where Erik Larsen got the idea from!”

The trick Merlin passed along to the Demon while in Gotham’s turd tunnels was Mongoose beats Snake. All of that ancient wisdom could have been had watching  15 minutes worth of Animal Planet. Naturally, the Demon morphs into a little fur ball and defeats Shahn-Zi with a good old bite to the neck. The baddie dissipates into the air and we are free from his lousy super villainy for now.

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“Do I have a mongoose in my pocket or is that snake just happy to see me?”

So what of our boy Batman? He was flapping around trying to attack innocent bystanders. Karma is great. Just as he saved the guy at the start of the story, Demon’s victory chomp occurred as the clock ticked to the witching hour. He proved to be of no use in saving the day but screw it, let’s have some soup!

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“That doesn’t sound even remotely appetizing wiseguy”

This issue was nothing short of terrible. I’ve read a fair amount of junk in my day and this was up there. It contained moments that were racist towards Asian people and the argument that it was released during a different era has no merit, this is trash.

Story is boring, Art is flimsy and there’s no substance or fun to be had. I would use the term “cover to cover crapfest” to relate the pure loathing I feel for this but the cover was the one thing I did enjoy. Colorful and inviting, if nothing more than to sucker a kid into buying this off the rack.

So what would compel one to own this book? A Brave and the Bold completist perhaps? Other than that, issue #137 meet my furnace.

Well, this mag was a complete bust but I’m a silver lining type of person, 1977 was a great year to get crabs. I’m serious…

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David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter.

In Defense of Action Comics #565

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I’m going to start with a shameless plug for my show as this, after all is America. On my podcast I’m often referred to as the “Comics Curmudgeon”. Why? I like to think I’m soft, cuddly and ooze positive vibes but when it comes to reviews, I do tend to hand out more clown shoes than crowns. So, it’s a moniker I begrudgingly accept.

On our most recent episode we reviewed the long forgotten Action Comics #565 from DC. Cover dated March 1985. This issue got me giddy (remember, this is a rarity) while my co-host would rather have her eyeballs gouged out of her skull than read it ever again. I think some stories truly fit the old adage “It’s so bad it’s good” and deserve some respect. I intend to make my case to you, the fine folk reading this back issue review…eventually.

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“Ambush Bug is poised to please, off to a good start!”

Action Comics is a Superman title, but this book has the added benefit of an Ambush Bug back up tale. So we are graced with a Keith Giffen rendition of DC’s Trinity with A.B. rocking some vaudevillian garb. Not sure if it’s to imply the humorous nature of the character or to distract us from Batman’s seemingly sentient cape. I love Giffen’s style as much as the next guy but I can’t imagine where that idea came from.

The main story is entitled “The Wizard City Warrior”, written by Mort Todd with art by Kurt Schaffenberger. Throughout this review we will be weaving in and out of some serious cheese, so it’s a little unexpected how accomplished both these creators are.

We’ll start with Schaffenberger who lent his artistic talents to many DC golden and silver aged titles including “Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane” and worked for the company for 30 years. Briefly leaving after organizing protests over treatment of artists by the publisher. That my friends is some serious badassery. People recall the Image founders fighting for their right to party but talents like Schaffenberger were demanding better working conditions when rocking a pair of nipple high Hounds Tooth was the cat’s meow.

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“I said HIGHER WAGES not high hem you bastards!” 

Mort Todd has written for all the big boys, was the EIC of Cracked Magazine in the 80’s, launched the Marvel Music line, has worked in Film, Television and owns media companies ComicFix and Station A. I can only assume the man sleeps with is eyes open as his resume is more jam packed than Clark Griswold’s Christmas lights.

The beginning of this yarn starts like many other classics as we open on a couple of “prison escapees” named Dexter and Vedders  who are creeping around the jungles of a fictional African nation named “Kurtiswana”. They are are in search of the ruins of  the Magic City, which despite ominous amounts rain, thunder and lightning isn’t hard to find as it is located on the 4th panel. Let’s leave our villains behind for a bit as I want to discuss some of Superman’s odd behavior displayed right out of the gate.

Superman has no regards for human life. Yes, it’s true. The Blue Boy Scout is often depicted doing whatever it takes to protect the denizens of his adopted home world. That is unless, your a window washer. I have a feeling this is one of the more dangerous professions to have in the DCU with a bevy of costumed crusaders whizzing by and only having a squeegee to defend yourself. In this case, Supes was in a rush to give his pal Jimmy Olsen some memorabilia for his fan club. A  trinket that looks like something Superman received for cashing in his tickets after a Skee-Ball marathon at the Metropolis Arcade. This leads me to believe Kal-El is a Kryptonian name that translates to “self absorbed dick”.

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“3-D Vidmovies were all the rage at the 1985 Frannes Film Festival”

We then come to find Jimmy is furious with editor Perry White over his assignment to cover a “Lost City” in Kurtiswana rather than the Cann…er…I mean “Frannes” Film Festival because you know the readers of the Daily Planet demand articles about myths and legends rather than what’s actually taking place in the world.

Jimmy is still hot over this news and discovers Clark chilling at his desk. Clark proves to be just as inconsiderate as his alter ego cancelling his lunch plans with Jimmy and his dad, retired Archeologist Mark Olsen last minute. Although, who can blame him as Mark looks exactly like his son with a beard. Hard not to be annoyed by all those freckles while enjoying a Cobb salad.

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“Yes, I’m your dad AND your twin from an alternate dimension. Banjo anyone?”

Don’t just sit there thinking this story is all fluff. It tackles an important issue that affects us all, Pollution. The poisons in our soil and the air we breathe is some serious stuff and as human beings should strive to clean up the Earth. Luckily for Superman, he’s not human. Sure, he has the technology to solve the problem but feels our race isn’t ready for his jelly. Sorry, all this smog is making me sneeze…Ah…Ahhh…Asshole!

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“I blow out miniature versions of myself to help spread my bullshit. How’s that for pollution!”

What good is an old fashioned story without a bank robbery? None, I tell ya! Because I demanded it 32 years in the future, we have a baddie that looks like a bootleg Shogun Warriors action figure (Hey, we are talking about a book from the 80’s here!) doing just that. While Supes could give a damn about our environment, how fucking dare you melt a bank vault door in MY city! We get the obligatory battle but much to his surprise Superman is getting his ass handed to him. Well deserved if you ask me or the window washer.

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“Knuckle Rays for days Sucka!”

Ever the egomaniac, our hero is left wondering how could he have taken a pounding by such a foolishly garbed foe? The only conclusion he can muster is “I’ve been fighting another survivor of my native planet!” Yeah that place that blew up despite having all that glorious tech us feeble earthlings can’t handle.

Let’s not forget Jimmy Olsen who made his way to Kurtiswana only to be promptly welcomed by a rock slide. Missing for several days, his doppelganger/Dad, Mark becomes worried. Rather than alert the authorities of his son’s disappearance, he decides to chat up Clark Kent revealing that Kurtiswana is the home to (insert dramatic music) The Magic City! Strangely, Clark realizes he had forgotten all the details about the Magic City despite it being an exiled chunk of Krypton and a nifty flashback sequence of his escapades there from a previous issue. This also proves to be an opportune time to connect Vedders from the opening sequence as the antagonist from his past exploits. It’s actually an armory full of powerful weapons..blah blah, you get the drill. Cue Superman swooping out of an open window.

As with any good plot or even in traces of bad ones such as this, it turns out there’s more to our scoundrel with no sense of style. He’s revealed to be Dexter, the other weirdo that was wandering around the rainy jungle with Vedders. Like a scene ripped from the movie Scarface, he shows up at his estranged Mothers house with cash in hand looking to make good for being a crummy son. I wonder though if she’s truly to blame for the man being a miscreant as she decides chasing him off with a hot iron is a good idea. Let that sink in, a HOT iron. Imagine how your life may have turned out if every time you misbehaved your cheeks resembled a crisp Panini sandwich.

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“I got your starch right here, ya little weasel!”

Keeping with the theme of sweet duds, Superman decided to stop off at the Fortress of Solitude to snag a “Lead-Glass” suit as to counter the Kryptonite that serves as the Magic City’s bedrock. He also reflects on how the planet was destroyed thanks to “It’s technological heritage” being used for “selfish and destructive purposes”. Here we go again with this guy.  Just give us the “Protect the Ozone laser thingy majiggy” and shaddup already!

Upon entering the armory he finds Jimmy strung up and Vedder unconscious under a pile of debris. In another move, typical of his personality in this script, he decides that Jimmy is more deserving of rescue.

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“Bro’s before Ho’s..and crushed internal organs.”

Of course this proves to be a trap. The “Spectrum Beams” are harmless to humans but devastating to Ol’ Curly Cue Hairdo. What do you expect from a hero who comes prepared with a Kryptonite proof outfit but insists underwear on the outside of your pajamas is where it’s at.

The Man of Steel turns to The Man of Mush and gets pummeled yet again. It’s cool though as a true star emerges. We learn that Jimmy is strong enough to dead lift Supes like a newlywed  carrying his bride across the threshold of a love nest.

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“Superman located his long lost Cat, Mr.Snugglepumps”

And what pray tell is Superman pointing at? What can save his life? It’s ok, I’ll give you a minute to think about it… If your answer wasn’t a Catapult, your obviously a fool as nothing is more rejuvenating than being flung into the air at high speeds. Remember that next time you have the flu. Screw medicine, just hop on the Teacup ride at your local Carnival.

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“Hey there bystanders, umm..don’t run or nothing. Just admire the grenade belt.”

Ding! Ding! Time for Round Three fight fans! No shocker here as the Metropolis Marvel wins the day but how he does it is the deft part. While Dexter reveals his nefarious plot to blow up the world, Supes overhears Lana Lang say “A plan better crystallize in his mind or we are all doomed!” during her news broadcast. Crystallize! Oh, Mort Todd, you sly dog! I didn’t give you enough credit. That holographic trinket we saw at the jump was worth more than it’s weight in skee-ball tokens after all. It projected an image of wrestlers! The Beatles once sang “All you need is Love” but obviously when dealing with an armored atrocity all you need is a figure four leg lock.

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“If only Koko B. Ware lived in Metropolis, we never would have had this problem.”

So all’s well that end’s well. The world is saved, Superman is free to go back and be a douche nozzle soaring the skies. No better way to end an awe-inspiring adventure. Well, unless you include a sad old lady  ironing her few remaining days away.

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“We come full circle as Superman buries his filthy non biodegradable city in OUR planet.”

The back up story is an Ambush Bug ditty by Keith Giffen. It’s only eight pages and is a teaser for the mini series but people tend to forget something about the creator that deserves some due. A lot of folks like anti- heroes such as Deadpool for cracking wise and breaking down the fourth wall. During his career Giffen has been at the forefront of highly entertaining and humorous comics. Without him, other writers wouldn’t have had the blue print on doing it successfully. Hats off for that.

Now that I’ve summarized this bad boy, I promised I would make my case. I just pooped all over the comic yet I’m here to defend it. How can this be possible?

Easy. Look at when it was released. Pre-Crisis, early ’85.This wasn’t for adults. I’m not saying there weren’t mature books available but DC really got their gritty on in ’86. Regardless of it’s cover date, this definitely has the look and feel of silver age feature.

Action Comics #565 was a perfectly scripted Saturday morning cartoon for the time period. Some of you whippersnappers don’t recall the days of spinner racks or newsstand comics. I’m not trying to get all “Get off my lawn” with you but I’d be lying if this doesn’t bring back some great memories.

Prior to family road trips or just to keep me quiet in a restaurant, my mother would grab a MAD mag or random comic book to entertain my young mind. It got me into reading and helped my imagination blossom. Had this been one of the stories she handed me, I would have considered it two staple gold. No doubt about it.

This one it had it all. Throw downs, ridiculous scenarios galore and what kid didn’t want to see Superman triumphant over a gaudy goon in four color fashion! Here’s a story you we could show our kids today, all these years later and it’s still going to have a cool factor. Despite all the birdcages that were lined with this issue, it’s timeless.

Hell, even as an adult, while impossible to take seriously, It’s a nostalgic nugget. Give it a shot, It may bring back some fond sentiments for you as well. Worse case scenario, you will get a chuckle or two out of it.

So “Comics Curmudgeon” or no, I still got a soft spot for the oldies…and Superman will always be a jerk.

David Schultz is the creator and co-host of the Parlipod Podcast. You can harass him on Twitter by following @parlipod. To listen to the show, visit www.soundcloud.com/parlipod or on the GWW Network at thegww.com

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*Information on the talents behind the story were found on Wikipedia as I’ve never had the pleasure of sharing a cold one with them. All images used in this article are rights DC Comics or their respective owners*