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.

 

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The Frankenstein Monster #8

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Halloween is here! Can’t say I’m much of the celebrating type considering my childhood was spent decked out in flammable plastic…and handing out candy to other kids. All dressed up with nowhere to go. Thanks Mom, for making an 8 year old man the door. Don’t feel bad. I’ve more than made up for it over the years by consuming my body weight in miniature Snickers.

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 “The sweet smell of nostalgia and noxious plastic fumes.”

We’re not here to discuss my tragic backstory. That’s what hard liquor is for. No dear friends, time to talk comics. With the spirit of this hair raising holiday in mind, I’ve decided to revisit some Bronze Age Marvel Monsters. Everyone enjoys a good fright right? Publishers recognized the appeal of horror and flooded the market with a myriad of titles dedicated to the macabre. The majority of these issues had an anthology layout while solo books were reserved for the genres movie mainstays. Dracula being the most notable and popular with the fans.

This makes The Monster Frankenstein #8 (cover dated January 1974) pretty interesting to me. First, he’s the big brute of scary set but with an over saturated market, the chatter in the crypt was Frankenstein’s book neared it’s demise. Frank’s adventures needed a little life, so Marvel turned to Dracula for a three issue guest appearance. Did it do the trick or was this story more rotten than a Jack o’ Lantern in late November? Let’s take the lid off of this nefarious narrative by Gary Friedrich and the brilliant John Buscema.

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As the cover indicates, we start with Frankenstein opening a coffin to reveal Dracula rip roaring and ready to go. For an immortal creature he doesn’t bother to waste any time. This leaves Franky boy a tad shocked. One would think Drac might like to use the bathroom after waking up, or perhaps enjoy a good stretch before going into stalk mode. We got ourselves one nimble Nosferatu here!

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“You and me both Pal…”

I gotta admit, it’s pretty cool this story hits you with action outta the gate but how did this meeting come to be? Sheer chance? Of course not. Enter Marguerita the Hag. This little old lady lured Frank into her gypsy camp last issue. Filling his belly with food and his heart with high hopes of finding a home, she requests he follows her to a cave. Turns out only he possesses the strength needed to open the coffin that lies within. Here’s the rub, Marguerita is in fact a vampire herself eager to see her dark lord again. Be careful what you wish for baby!

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“Knuckle sandwiches are included with the early bird special.”

While all this geriatric grappling is going down, the reader is introduced to Marguerita’s beautiful granddaughter, Carmen. Bearing witness to the melee, the girl is horrified to discover her beloved Bubbe is a baddie. Marguerita grabs Carmen violently, turning Frank’s eye away from Dracula. He saves the girl from a vampire bite and drives a stake through her matriarch’s ticker.

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“You’re the reason for my life…You’re the inspiration.”

Dracula sees this as prime time to hit the bricks. I mean, c’mon all that stalking makes a guy thirsty.  So off to the nearest town for blood he goes. Meanwhile, Frankenstein and Carmen emerge from the cave to discover the entire gypsy camp, once welcoming to Franky, have been slaughtered. The nearby Townsfolk felt the need to punish them for turning the woods into the Universal Studios Monsters Tour. Now they gone and done it. Not only is Drac on his way to suck ’em dry but Frankenstein is out to avenge his fallen friends.

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“Nowadays you can just illegally download some Gypsy Jams. Back then, not so much.”

Let’s tackle my biggest gripe about this issue. Hell, about Vampire tales in general. Anytime I see the whole change into a bat but keep my face thing, I’m annoyed. Why? Just go full on bat. To add garlic to my gripe, Dracula even keeps his collar here! You may think you’re the most stylish flying rat in Transylvania there buddy but next time just rock a leisure suit. The ladies will love it! Well, some maybe. Ok…keep the collar.

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“Do these wings make my ass look fat?”

Where were we? Ah yes, a fury infused Frankenstein! The denizens of Gypsy Genocideville are aware he is en route. Rather than play sitting duck, the Burgomeister  insists they set out to kill the monstrosity before it arrives. Gotta love the role of Burgomeister. Has there been any other profession portrayed as a bigger dink in realm of fiction? The only other job that may hold a torch is the Hospital Orderly. I challenge you fine reader, to prove me otherwise.

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“Burgomeisters…cementing a bad rep for over 200 years.”

As the Villagers wonder where to start the hunt, Frank’s already arrived at the town square. He smashes a wagon and goes on a diatribe about hatred. For a supposed lunkhead, he’s fairly spot on about men being the true monsters of the world. Word of advice to Frankenstein though: the Ghandi routine gets lost in translation when you murder everyone within arms reach! Hey, It’s the thought that counts…right big guy?

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“Quit running! I have to see if your nether regions can accommodate a wagon wheel!”

Similar to Trick or Treaters that descend upon the house giving away full size candy bars, the locals manage to swarm on Frank. Someone finally realizes pitch forks are useless and grabs a rifle. Guns are a pretty lousy solution to any problem but I will say this, I’d be willing to get the resulting sound effect tattooed on one of my buttocks.

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“Look on the bright side, at least scarring isn’t an issue!”

Subdued by the bullet, Frank is tied to a post and given the “burn the witch” treatment. This ends with a splash page and is probably my single favorite moment of the book. The beast shows bravado only to seemingly crap his pants and with the odd word balloon placement, the chimney is telling him to die.

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“Just friggin’ great, you bumpkins had to go and burn the last good street pole!”

Was this the spooky spectacular that reinvigorated my spirit for the season? Not quite. The problem here is the script. It cashes in on every cliche that’s been used in genre from the get go. Pacing was good but it’s terribly predictable. The art is the strength here as John Buscema makes you feel like you’re watching a classic Monster movie.

Worth a read for fans of the subject matter but for the rest of us, It’s a pass. Seal it in the Tomb of Tired Tropes and hope no one ever sets it free.

 

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.

 

 

Ghost Rider #16

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I fucking love Jaws. Enough so that I open up this column using a cuss when describing one of my favorite movie franchises. So, when I stumbled upon this issue of Ghost Rider #16 and saw the tease on the cover, I had to check it out. As I write this we are smack dab in the middle of the summer and what goes better with beaches and barbeques than our fear of man eating sharks.  Thanks to novelist Peter Benchley and director Steven Spielberg, Jaws has become a tradition that terrifies and thrills fans all over the world. We’re all residents of Amity Island every July and Captain Quint is one of the most bad ass characters ever captured on celluloid.

Even if you put my affection for the flicks aside and just take this cover at face value,  how the hell does someone with a flaming skull and a motorcycle fight underwater? That in itself makes it goofy enough to garner my attention. Written by Bill Mantlo with art by George Tuska, let’s see if its safe to swim with this story titled “Blood in the Water” from February 1976.

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lineJohnny Blaze is fed up with Los Angeles. He has decided to hit the road and head for Mexico. Seems like a popular destination for the superhero set. Upon reaching the border, we discover our neighbors to the south are really only concerned with one thing. Dirty Hippies. That’s right, take your patchouli smelling ass and Grateful Dead records somewhere else pal. What do the customs agents like? Money. Johnny flashes some greenbacks and off to Baja we go.

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“They may hate greasy gringo’s but are suckers for Cherry Garcia

Cruising down the coast, he pines for a simple life and spots a cozy little pad on the shoreline. Looks like quite the tranquil little piece of real estate. Except for a dude hellbent on shooting dolphins from his back porch. While this nutbag tries popping a cap in Flipper’s ass, his daughter intervenes grabbing at his weapon. The stray bullet nails one of the tires on Johnny’s skull cycle, sending him tumbling to the sand. I know every time I fall, my first instinct is to yell “Yahoo” rather than “Wipeout” but different strokes for different folks I suppose.

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“Watch the property value plummet before your eyes.”

Johnny is pissed off over taking a digger on the beach and confronts Mr. Jerkpants with the jazzy jaw. Despite being the type of guy who thinks it’s cool to pound on his offspring, he feels guilty about wrecking Johnny’s ride. He offers his shed  for repairs but Blaze is all about the booty and would rather chill in a dune with the man’s daughter.

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“Say baby, does your dad shoot at all the hunks possessed by demons or just me?”

Rather than get frisky, she feels the need to give her dad’s origin. You see, Frank Phillips is the Punisher of the Pacific. Frank was hired by the C.I.A. to strap bombs on dolphins and experiment with using them as living torpedoes. Crazy as it sounds, militarizing mammals isn’t just the stuff of comic book fiction.  Obsessed with his work, one day he takes his family out to sea with him. His kid falls in the water and a tragic backstory is born.

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“Former Miami Dolphins season ticket holder could stand the losing NO MORE…”

No sooner than we get up to speed on why Frank is stark raving mad, he’s at it again.  This guy is on a mission to eliminate all of dolphin-kind. I’m fond of the next panel, not because I dig murdering harmless animals but rather how dramatic the poor little buggers are as they take hot lead. Seriously, eat your heart out DiCaprio. These dudes deserved an Oscar way before your token victory for The Revenant.

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“We would like to thank the Academy and  Mr.Limpett for paving the way.”

You read that narration box correctly, Frank uses a tape recording to lure them in. Had he played his cards right, there are much more beneficial ways to control ocean life with that technology. Just sayin’…

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“Hey Namorita, I have a mix tape for you!”

Johnny isn’t pleased all this commotion just put the kibosh on his beach blanket bingo with blondie. So what to do? Take the Skull Cycle, despite a flat tire and ride that sucker right at Frank’s boat. Here’s where his plan gets really special. Hurl your leather clad frame on deck cannon ball style. Pretty slick. I believe he may have created the greatest take down of a gunman in Marvel history.

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“As far as dramatic entrances go, ass first is pretty impressive.”

They duke it out as the boat drifts to sea but while the fists fly a rouge wave capsizes the vessel. A flaming skull did little to freak out Frank but he’s amazed that those  finned foes that once felt his wrath are actually pretty friendly. No time for a tickle fest though as we are about to have our main event. That’s right, cue the dah dum’s and close the beaches. Ghosty has noticed a great white forgot his brown bagged lunch at home and needs a snack to hold him over. gr15.1

 “It must suck having no eyelids when swimming in the ocean. SALTY!”

Ghost Rider and Captain Quint actually have some things in common. Sure, they’re both some seriously macho dudes but when it comes to decision making, not so bright. For those who remember the first Jaws film, Quint let his emotions take control and ( 42 year old Spoiler alert ) ends up as shredded wheat. Ghosty’s first inclination is to shoot flames at the shark… underwater. While I commended the insane barrel roll to get on the ship, boiling the shark wouldn’t be my first choice. Serious loss of kudos points there.

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“The look of a man determined to kill a shark or massive cocaine habit? You decide.”

His lone option exhausted, not only has my question been answered on Ghost Rider’s usefulness in water (NONE!) but now I’m not sure about the dolphins anymore. This whole issue I’ve been led to believe they are the victims. Sympathetic to the fact they had been led to slaughter while listening to smooth jams. To that, I now say nay. They are vicious little bastards! Swimming to Ghosty’s aid by ramming themselves into the belly of the beast. I realize they are saving Ghost Riders chaps but man, maybe Frank has been right all along. There is some evil up in those blowholes.

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“Aww, he just wanted a S’more. Do you know how hard those are to come by down there?”

That’s pretty much it. The dolphins do all the damage and save the day. A little lackluster in the man v.s. shark department but we got something even better. Frank has realized the error of his ways. The whole time the true enemy came from within. We close on a tender moment, where he apologizes to an entire species. Alright, tender was a poor choice…cheesy, that’s better. We close on a cheesy moment where a crazy old man shouts at a wave. I’m not sure if the dolphins are supposed to be there in synchronized jump or if it’s just symbolic but let’s talk about if you should check this out.

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“Believe it or not, this is the least absurd moment in the whole book.”

You may think I’m high on seaweed but I really enjoyed this tale. The pace was excellent and the art was seriously outstanding stuff. Ok, granted It didn’t live up to the hype promised on the cover but not being a Ghost Rider fan, I’m already more interested in his exploits from the 70’s.

You may be asking “Dave, didn’t you just claim the ending was a little dopey”? That I did but I also commonly say, remember the era it was released. You won’t get The Watchmen back in 1976, so enjoy things for what they are. In this case done fairly well.

If you see this one out there in the bins, snag it.

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. Unsolicited tip #852 for all the kiddo’s out there, skip high priced variants and go buy some bronze age stuff instead. You’ll thank me later…

By the way, I wouldn’t be much of a Jaws fan If I didn’t leave you with this:

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Marvel Two in One #96

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Who doesn’t have a soft spot for Marvel’s hero made of rock? I’m talking of course about the Thing. Since 1961, Ben Grimm has been one of the cornerstones at the House of Ideas as a member of the Fantastic Four. Personally, in my younger years I was enthralled with him. Throw downs with the heaviest hitters were always a big draw. Any issue trading punches with the Hulk were an absolute event.

Marvel recognized his popularity and gave him a team up book in 1974. Thanks to the Two in One series, I get to wax nostalgic here on Two Staple Gold and it’s Clobbering Time… all the time.

Here’s the best part though, If your like me you may have lost track of the “Ever Lovin’ Blue Eyed” Thing over the years. No biggie. He’s like a friend that remained unchanged and will always be there for you. Revisiting his adventures is always a comforting experience. Or so I liked to believe.

Time to take our meds and see if this ish makes us sick or cures our blues. I present Marvel Two in One #96 “Visiting Hours” cover dated February 1983. Written by Tom DeFalco and penciled by Ron Wilson.

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lineHere’s a tough pill to swallow, the Thing got his ass whooped. Boxing with the Champion is generally a bad idea and he’s landed in the local Hospital. Reed Richards has decided that is the best place for him citing the Baxter Building’s lack of “medical facilities to asses the true extent of his injuries”. This is the first of many odd decisions to fit the narrative, considering Mr.Fantastic discovered the Negative Zone but can’t handle some boo boo’s. Even worse, Reed acknowledges Ben is a sitting duck if his enemies decided to strike. Most intelligent man on earth my ass, more like world’s biggest dick.

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“Well, you could have tried other options Nurse but Yancy Street is one way only.”

Like Richards, the Mad Thinker  is a prognosticator. The classic FF foe seems to believe he has Orange Hides obituary ready for print. He has no intention of doing it himself but who can blame him? I would never leave my lair with a lousy haircut like that. It’s cool though, as we are about to find out the rest of the Marvel Universe will pick up his slack.

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“Villainy 101: Get pissed and throw shit.”

Spider-Man is on his way to visit his pal Benjy when he encounters the first nefarious nasty to crawl out of the woodwork…MECHO-MARAUDER! Never heard of him? Then your life is short on finger blasts. The dude is a straight up joke and Spidey makes quick work of him. It’s worth noting this battle is the start of instances with sexual innuendo that litter this issue. I’m sure if I asked Tom DeFalco if my suspicions of sneaking in some naughty dialogue were on purpose, he would probably punch me in the face. I wouldn’t fault the guy though, who didn’t get a little randy watching Valerie Bertinelli on One Day at a Time back in the 80’s? Sexy sweaters Tom! Who can resist?

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“Didn’t Aunt May warn you about palm tapping? You could go blind Pete!”

I’m going to skip over a few guest appearances during my summary. There’s just way too many. One that can’t be ignored is the debut of Nurse Hasslebutt. Aptly named and tough as nails, she takes no gump. The Web Slinger and Mr.Fantastic are no match for her mouth while she kicks everyone out of the Thing’s room despite their pleas to stay. Hard to find characters in comics that command such consternation. I imagine her origin includes a bite from a radioactive Amanda Waller.

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“She’s gotta be Hydra…or hungry.”

Crash… Boom…Bang! Loud noises are another foil to this script. Everyone needs to make a grand entrance and how better to do that than smashing through a concrete wall. That’s all fine and dandy, problem is the Thing never notices. Actually, NONE of the Hospital staff notices. Time for a full scale evacuation maybe? Seriously, check out Mole Man here just rolling up in an underground death tank. Is this a Healthcare facility or a drug den where everyone is so doped up on morphine they pay no attention subterranean slime balls?

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“I’m not having my blood work done here, those needles are outrageous!”

Why let the men have all the fun? The Grapplers, a team of female wrestlers led by the miserably monikered Poundcakes, have a bone to pick with the Thing. Unlike some of the other interlopers, they can’t manage to break in thanks to Captain America standing watch. This battle is boring as all get out but I really just needed an excuse to include this panel in the article. “Dirty DeFalco” strikes again or should I seek professional help?

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“Last time I answered to Poundcakes was back in Prison sweetheart”

What of Marvel’s malevolent dictator Dr.Doom? He’s aware of his  adversaries recent ailments courtesy of the Daily Bugle. That’s quite a haul, New York to Latveria, hope he tips the paper boy. Surely, he of all people would love to take advantage of this situation. Nah, he’d rather go flirt with an oil can or something.

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“Villainy 102: Stay pissed and continue to throw shit. Congrats, you graduated”

Back to those so called “Jackals”. Looks like they brought Secret Wars to the streets. There is one criminal who has a more sensible plan. The Sandman is one sneaky dude. Slithering through the shafts, he has found success where all others have failed and enters our preferred patients room. What’s he going to do? Smother him with a pillow, fill his cracks with granules of gloom until he snaps? Heck no! Sandy has shown up to pound some brews and smoke some stogies. You see, unlike the other barbarians at the gate, Sandman doesn’t have a grudge but rather gratitude towards the Thing for turning his life around.

 

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“You guys go ahead and duke it out, I’ll be dry humping a vent”

That’s how this comes to a close. Sandy and Ben enjoying some cigars while chaos reigns in the parking lot. I hate being the person to bring this up but If the bad guys really wanted to send Ben Grimm to the graveyard, they should have reached across company lines and hired the Joker to do the job. Experience matters.

 

“Somebody get Nurse Hasslebutt a Snickers!”

The Verdict? The Doctor is out. Overall, It’s ok. The humor is alright but far from Bwah Ha Ha funny. The art is decent enough for the time period. If your not a completist there really is no reason to seek this out. To be fair, if you can find it in a dollar bin, there are worse ways to spend a buck. Consider this baby Rated Meh.

 

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. The last caption was the 250,000th time a Snickers gag was used on the internet. Balloons fell from my ceiling as I wrote it. Yay me.

 

 

*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.