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.

 

 

 

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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.