Superman #349

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Superman, the world’s greatest superhero. Without Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s creation all of us may have lived crummy lives. Other powered beings have appeared in literature throughout the ages but Superman was a fucking rock star. Creating the model which all our costumed heroes we love were formed, I will always tip my hat to the Man of Steel.

Even with the respect I have for the inspiration he’s provided, my last crack at a Supes review was less than kind. But hey, in my humble opinion he wasn’t portrayed in the best light. If you’ve read any of my previous work, you would know I’m a sucker for EVERY back issue I can get my grubby fingers on, so the Last Son of Krypton and I were bound to cross paths again here in Two Staple Gold.

This issue caught my eye for more than just the fact some guy dressed up like Wonder Woman looks to be giving Supes a terrible case of constipation. I also have a lot of admiration for the writer Marty Pasko and renowned artist Curt Swan. Apologies to both creators as I poke a little fun at Superman #349 “The Turnabout Trap” cover dated July, 1980 published by DC Comics.

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Returning from an interstellar adventure that “took longer than expected” our hero is bent out of shape for potentially being late for work. No time for a shower or morning coffee when you fear Perry White will tear you a new one. After swooping through an open window at the Daily Planet and changing into his alter ego Clark Kent he prepares to face his angry boss. Instead of finding a perturbed Perry he discovers they decided to change the plumbing while he was away.

supes3493.1“We replaced Clark’s regular Folgers Crystals with Peyote, let’s see if he notices…”

Everyone’s genders have been switched. On the plus side, Jimmy Olsen…err…I mean Jenny Olsen sure can rock a neckerchief like nobody’s business. Utterly stunned, Clark needs some fresh air. On his way out of the building various theories enter his mind. A practical joke perhaps or maybe Red Kryptonite is to blame for what he’s witnessing. As he exits, a window washer falls from her perch and is saved by…Superwoman?! Clark has a hunch and uses his super vision to look towards the Justice League Satellite. There his suspicions are confirmed, all of his friends have been affected by gender swapping.

supes3494.1“Black Condor? Nice try but on this world he goes by Captain Nair.”

Now believing he is trapped in an alternate dimension, Superman attempts to fly into space and search for a gateway. Instead he’s met by an impenetrable dome surrounding the Earth. He takes a crack at it to no avail and as history has proven, If Supes can’t punch his way out of a problem, magic must be involved. With his smash tactics foiled he chooses to return to the bizarre world he’s trapped in and investigate his doppelganger “Clara Kent” who must also be Superwoman.

supes3496.1“You better believe Human Resources is gonna hear about this one!”

But wait! Back at the Daily Planet, while stalking Clara from a windowsill, Superwoman flies by him. How can this be? He remarks how odd all of this is but what I find more disturbing are his Peeping Tom tactics. Whotta creep. Done with all this pondering rubbish, Supes wants the straight dope directly from the horse’s mouth. Bad call Big Blue. Fearing he’s a villain, Superwoman and Superboy ring his bell. Slapping a helmet filled with Kryptonite gas over his head, he’s now their prisoner. Super sucky.

supes3498.1“Groovy! We finally found a use for our spare SUPER Bong!”

Fearing Superman would gain access to their secrets if kept in the Watchtower, The Turnabout Justice League stake him to the ground in the Mojave Desert. He is left under the watchful eye of Wonder Warrior. This leads to my favorite part of the book by far. In all of Supes old adventures, a myriad of  powers would emerge relevant to any predicament he found himself in. This is no exception but easily one I didn’t expect. When talking about odd abilities of comic heroes with your friends, feel free to pull this one out of the arsenal…the dude can A Capella Lullaby your ass to sleep!

supes34910.1“I betcha Wonder Warrior regrets smashing his Keurig right about now.”

Superman lures buzzards over and they break his helmet with their beaks. Now free, he has a quick scuffle with Wonder Warrior, pummels him and steals his Lasso of Truth. That time on the hot sand provided him just the clarity he needed. Certain of who has been the mastermind behind his misery but alas, the culprit isn’t easily found. How to get the mystery miscreant’s attention? Scrawl on a billboard with a giant crayon. Damn, and they say you learn nothing in Kindergarten.

supes34913.1“Ok, That’s officially SUPER STUPID and I’m not entirely sure it’s a crayon.”

There’s only one Imp in the DCU capable of creating that kind of itch in Superman’s britches, Mr.Mxyzptlk! How did Supes put it all together? Super Intuition? Nah, Mr.Mxyzptlk doesn’t know about his secret identity. With every other human experiencing the gender bending, Clara Kent and Superwoman were two different people. Fine deduction skills there Clarky boy. Those who consider Batman “The World’s Greatest Detective” can bite my bippy. Only one question remains. Why is Mxyz out to crap on the Man of Steel’s Wheaties?

supes34915“I’m pleased to realize the act of Catfishing didn’t originate on our planet.”

A year prior in Superman #335, Mxyz was exiled from his dimension and Supes helped him return in time to marry his fiancee Miss Bgbznz. But you see, Mr.Mxyzptlk is one shallow little hombre. When it’s revealed his sweet gal is actually a gaaah, he takes it out on the Blue Boy Scout. Before he can make a mad dash with his crooked derby hat, Superman snares him with the Lasso of Truth he scooped up earlier. Forced to obey, Mr.Mxyzptlk says his name backwards and is returned to ZRFFF. Everything returns to normal…or does it?

supes34917.1“Silly Lois, Clark’s only worried he was going to have to feign interest in Theatre.”

The Verdict:

Silly, fun and whimsical. All these words can be used to describe what I’ve just read and quite frankly, I love that. It it the most memorable tale ever told? Hell no, but unlike my review it’s  classic kid friendly entertainment.

Dark and gritty comics are cool. I enjoy them as much as the next fan but every once in a while a jovial romp is just what the Doctor ordered. Provides some chuckles and the nostalgia tank gets refilled. Punch your ticket to Happy Town and rescue a copy of Superman #349 from the bins. It’s Two Staple Gold.

No molds broken nor minds blown, this is clean entertainment and deserves to be owned. That’ll be $2 for the parting rhyme. I accept cash, credit or a pair of Black Condors shorts. Tell ya what, bring the skivvies and I’ll throw in a Turnabout League fan casting for free.

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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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flash #163

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“I like weird and wacky!” No, this isn’t a code word to get into the fetish club downtown. Ahem… I think. Rather, It’s a statement that tends to be uttered at least once by every fan of the Silver Age. It’s also remarkably true. The majority of stories published between ’56-’70 had to flirt with the bizarre. Some just had a dance, others brought it home to meet the folks but either way it was a glorious era to be absurd.

If you’ve ever read any of my previous work, it’s fairly obvious I’m a huge fan. Not my utmost favorite age (that would be Bronze) yet who can resist all of those whimsical plot threads and colorful creativity?

Barry Allen actually kicked off this period in the pages of Showcase #4 and despite his O.G. status, I  haven’t read many of his adventures during that epoch. A lot of books cross my desk but the moment I saw this cover urgency struck. I mean c’mon, there he is in his talk to the hand pose insisting that I save his life. Naturally, I cracked it open post haste. The scarlet speedster needs ME! Or did he? Let’s take a gander at The Flash #163 ” The Flash stakes his life–on–you!” cover dated August 1966. Written by John Broome, penciled by Carmine Infantino with inks from Joe Giella.

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lineI may be showing my age here but personally whenever someone proclaims “STOP!”, my mind immediately flashes to Estelle Getty rocking a glock. Anyone else recall the 1992 cinematic masterpiece “Stop! or my Mom will Shoot”? The hours I spent as a 14 year old watching this flick filled with phallic follies and stale punchlines. What IS funny though, a Flash cover reminds me how wrong I was to believe Sylvester Stallone turned a corner as a comedic actor. The power of Back Issues at work here people! I digress…

 “Yo Ma, whaddya think of MY Meatloaf?”

The villain in this book BLOWS. Pretty bold way to describe a guy but it’s no exaggeration. This tale starts with him using a powerful puff to dissipate our hero. See what I did there? You better, I expect my readers to come equipped with a gong to punish me for my pathetic puns.  This scoundrels real accomplishment isn’t defeating a Justice Leaguer on the teaser page. It’s overcoming his uncanny resemblance to the Iron Sheik and claiming victory by other means than a headlock.

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“I think Hulk Hogan would prefer the Whistle Tickle finishing move. “

The Flash is speeding his way around Central City while on a pier, a little girl accidentally drops her doll into the ocean. No job is too small for the fastest man alive. He zips over water to grab the lost toy. Nice to see Flashy boy isn’t above some blue collar rescuing of inanimate objects. The writer notes this small act of kindness will play out later on. Hmm… wishful thinking, the Barbie taking a dip is retconned as the origin of the Anti-Monitor. Bit of a stretch? They say I’m a dreamer.

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“How many times I’ve said ‘never’ after a night of drinking. You got a lot to learn kiddo.”

Back to the Iron Sheik lookalike. His name is sure to instill terror into the hearts of men, ready for it? Mr.Haddon! Yeah, more like your 6th grade History teacher than treacherous tyrant. I’ve got the wrong subject though as it turns out he’s quite science enthusiast. So much so, he’s created an insane invention. Let’s try to wrap our minds around this: According to Haddon, belief in ourselves is based on how others feel about us. So he’s developed radiation that will erase a populations memory of a specific person. They forget someone exists and that person will disappear. You really got to have a broken Beaker to come up with that one. This weapon still needs some fine tuning. Witness the saddest first appearance in DC Comics history, Haddon’s cat “Jessica”. This furry feline only wanted some milk but received oblivion. Someone get Selina Kyle on the horn.

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“R.I.P. Jessica the Invisible Lab Rat Cat 1966-1966.”

Haddon uses the radiation on Central City. Now that no one remembers Barry, he begins to turn into a mist. He tries to run around  and get the attention of someone, but they just think he’s a nut job in a funny suit. Reduced to nothing more than second hand smoke, he still believes crime waits for no man..er..ghost thingy. A store alarm rings in the distance and Flash races to the scene to discover Haddon robbing the joint. With bags full of cash in each hand he takes a trick from the Big Bad Wolf Handbook by Huffing, puffing and blowing the Flash around.

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“What do Marty McFly and the Flash have in common? Great at fucking up timelines.”

Guiding Barry’s wispy form back to his lab, Haddon lays out his evil plan. With the Flash incapacitated he’s free to steal and use the money to move to an island and become it’s King. Seriously. Once the final person stops believing in the Flash…poof. Haddon is so confident in himself, he chomps on a congratulatory stogie and leaves Barry in his lair. So if no one can remember the Flash, how is he still alive? Rewind to that nugget on the docks.

flash16311.1“Where the hell are this kids parents? Is her Dad the Gorton’s Fisherman?”

YES! The little girl with a case of the butter fingers! That’s right, she would “never, never, never” forget him for rescuing dolly. The scene itself where he discovers she is the lone believer does play out a tad creepy in a lock down Chuck E. Cheese kind of way. If you find that odd, it doesn’t stop there. The Flash still needs to regain full form by refreshing the rest of Central City’s memory. In the age before e-mail, my baby…she wrote me a letter.

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“As bands in the 90’s understood, flyers were the ultimate promotional tool.”

Just like memes in modern times, people believed everything they read back in the day. Kinkos be damned, Barry just writes a butt load of leaflets and hands them out to people on the street. By golly, it actually works! The more they read, his body is restored. Now at full strength, The Flash is ready to smash the ‘Stache.

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“If I could only have Tom Selleck’s lush head of hair, I would be UNSTOPPABLE!”

Haddon is enjoying some Magnum P.I. fashion and Kooey Kooey Kooey servitude in a tropical locale. Heavy is the head that wears the crown  as he can’t quite put a finger on how he achieved his success. Screw it, He’s still living the dream. King of an island, armed guards and plenty pineapples can’t erase the feeling someone is out to get him. Paranoia proves to be prudent if not effective. The Flash promptly busts his party up and puts his shiny melon behind bars.

Was this one a classic? Nope. Not even close. The story proved to be terribly boring. Had the writer opted to embrace the insanity of the time period it may have been saved. Take the Mind Erasing Machine for example. I don’t have a problem with it’s function being vague but they should have went all out with it. No cool design, colorful beams of light or anything really. Just an old burger warmer from Wendy’s.

There’s a back up story featuring Abra Kadabra but by this point you can tell the creators had better things to do with their day than care what got published that month. I suppose an argument could be made Infantino’s pencil work is the one redeeming quality but we’ve got a flat liner here. Four color Ambien. The Surgeon General advises against reading this prior to operating machinery.

Thanks for the iconic cover guys but here’s to wishing I could wash my brain clean of this one. Maybe watching some T.V. will help with that…oh HELL yes!

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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.

 

 

 

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

 

Showcase #55

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Solomon Grundy born on a Monday, died on a Saturday. Every article written about him starts with the nursery rhyme. It’s officially part of his origin and immediately recognized by fans. That’s all fine and dandy but I prefer to think of him as the villain who made Clamdiggers cool. Some of you may refer to them as Capri pants. The fact  remains, Solomon could easily show up at Pee Wee Soccer practice and mix with the Moms.

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“Grundy did you forget the orange slices again?”

Fashion choices aside, I can’t say I’ve ever been overly fond of the character. There are actually a lot of cool elements there. A reanimated corpse spawned from Slaughter Swamp. Totally creepy monster. Has swapped dukes with just about every major hero in the DC Universe. Then I remember the negatives that turn me off. Talks like a buffoon. Resorts to petty crime. Frankenstein wants his shtick back.

I needed to find just the right avenue to get my Grundy on. Previously my exposure tended to come from his misadventures with Swamp Thing.  This time around, I traveled 52 years in the past and cracked open a copy of Showcase #55 cover dated April, 1965. “Solomon Grundy goes on a Rampage” isn’t the snappiest title but it was written and drawn by legendary creators Gardner Fox and Murphy Anderson.

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I may have gone a little overboard talking about Grundy as the issue actually features some DC luminaries not to be sniffed at. Dr.Fate, Hourman and Green Lantern are the hot tickets in town. One of which, like Grundy, I need a little help in gaining respect for. Hopefully, this book can kill two birds in that department. Who of that trio could I possibly roll my eyes over? Hourman. The guy pops a pill and gets powers for one hour. Kinda lame, I mean there’s tons of dudes who down a Viagra and claim to have super strength running around nowadays. Plus, where the hell did he buy that cape? Maybe he just snagged a beach towel from someones clothes line.

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“I assure you, this cougar was properly dried before I punched it in the spleen.”

First thing you need to know about this story is doors aren’t cool anymore. At least not in the traditional sense. Knob salesmen look away this will be the stuff of nightmares. It appears that during the 60’s entering via rectangle was quite square. Walking through walls or access via a hatch was all the rage. Thankfully this was fixed post crisis, resulting in bad guys knocking prior to shooting you.

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“Finding someone willing to deliver a pizza is impossible around here.”

Grundy has returned to Earth. During a previous battle with the Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott, he was imprisoned in an emerald globe and shot into space. Able to shift his weight around, he navigated his way through the cosmos back to his beloved marsh. The impact attracted the attention of Dr.Fate. Arriving at the crash site he magically reassembles the shards and is amazed that G.L. can blow such a big bubble from a single stick of gum.

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“Will the Lanterns ever learn? Forcing your balls on us doesn’t work!”

Didn’t take long for me to find another reason to dislike Hourman. When he’s not frolicking around in Sears latest bath linens, you can call him Rex Tyler. Proud owner of the Tyler Chemical Company just outside of beautiful Gotham City. What’s the problem with this secret alias? Not much besides the fact he’s responsible for a crap ton of pollution. Think there’s any three eyed frogs out there cursing his name? Hmm…we may have to revisit that later.

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“Are thought balloons admissible in court?”

Hourman is eager to protect all that sweet radioactive sludge so he trudges into the swamp with a handful of his “Miraclo” capsules. Solomon comes out swinging and promptly puts Rexy on his keester. Dr. Fate swoops in with a slew of spells that do diddly-poo until he pulls an odd one out of the deck. Remember the cover image where he’s crackling with energy and stiff like he stole Hourman’s prescription? Turns out to be a case of playing possum. Grundy believes he has Fate dead to rights but gets frozen in place by contact. Probably jealous that Fate’s mannequin routine is more interesting than his entire backstory, Hourman plants a punch into Grundy’s bread basket ruining the entire trap.

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“DC should have considered copyrighting Man-Thing.”

This ill timed blow proved to be pretty costly. Not only did it allow Grundy to get away but Hourman basically just crossed the streams. It figures he’d be the one to bring the bad juju. Now, not only do their powers fail when they are in close proximity, they can’t control the urge to kill each other. It also created a side effect where Solomon Grundy attracts objects made of wood. As he stomps off, all the junk from Grandma’s back yard follows suit.

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“Hey, it’s got 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes already!”

Wanting revenge on his jailer, Solomon struts into Gotham and robs a bank. Green Lantern arrives and we’re subjected to the worst weakness in comics. Yep, Alan Scott can’t handle wood. The debris Grundy had hovering around put G.L. down for the count. Undone by a broken coffee table leg. Oh, the humanity! Grundy scoops him up and back to Slaughter Swamp they go. FYI, flicking a toothpick at him is just as effective as a thunderbolt.

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“If Pinocchio shows up… he’s screwed.”

Meanwhile, Dr.Fate and Hourman have realized by staying at a reasonable distance the spell wears off.  Unfortunately there’s no time for high fives or bro hugs . That toxic waste the Tyler Corporation has been dumping transformed Alan into a Grundy Lantern!  It’s as cool  as you imagine but short lived. Fate finally whips up an incantation that works reverting him to human form. The three heroes use their individual abilities to wear Grundy down. What to do with him? Surprise! They encase him in yet another orb and knock him out of orbit like a cue ball.

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“We replaced his Folgers Crystals with our Biohazard Blend. Let’s see if he notices…”

Sure I poked a decent amount of fun at it but Showcase #55 was awesome. Just a really fun read all around. It may be one of my favorite silver age yarns to be honest. Holding up extraordinarily well, this classic is a testament to the talents of Fox and Anderson. I highly recommend you pick this up, physical or digital.

Can I say I’m more of a Grundy fan after checking this out? Maybe a little. This did nothing to change my perception of the dumb lug but I’m more interested in checking out his adventures, especially from this era. What I will say, without a doubt, Hourman can take a hike. Give me the android version any day of the week. He deserves credit for one thing though. Rex Tyler was rocking a time piece for a necklace long before Flavor Flav was even born. Now stop polluting the environment and ditch the stupid costume ya jerk.

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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.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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.