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.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

Adventures of Bayou Billy #1

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Video Game properties don’t seem to translate well to other media. Full disclosure, I’m the furthest thing from a “Gamer” but I say this only because there has never been a single movie based on a game I’ve found enjoyable. As a kid in the 80’s I was addicted to Nintendo. Hours were spent in the pursuit of defeating Kid Icarus, Metroid and other cartridges that needed a hearty blow of air to work. I can’t say I played much of Konami’s Bayou Billy.  What I do remember distinctly was owning this issue and it’s place among the magazines in the can. Hey to it’s credit, it beat out Readers Digest every time.

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If this was bathroom fodder when I was twelve years old, why the hell would I read it now? Because, despite the location, I remember actually enjoying it. I’m also a sucker for nostalgia. Can’t resist a good ‘ol whiff of the past.

Here are the aces at Archie who drained the swamp to bring us this 8-bit adventure.

Credited as R.P.M., the writer was Rich Margopoulos. He’s scripted for Warren Publishing on Vampirella and other horror comics. From what I can tell, Archie ran him ragged during this era, putting him to work on a myriad of titles. Rich also has Marvel and DC credits under his belt.

Amanda Conner is a fan favorite artist that started out as Bill Sienkiewicz’s assistant. She’s illustrated for a variety of publishers, Most notably at DC, for her work on the Power Girl and Harley Quinn books. Her illustrations have also been featured on television and film.

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A couple things that I have to let you know off the bat. Billy never wears shoes and EVERYONE speaks with  exclamation marks. I did a little research. This series only lasted five issues and unless someone’s asking a question, It’s nothing but shouting. Even the senior citizens are excited.

byb4.1“Sorry, left our Whisper 3000’s back in Joisey.”

What’s a typical morning in the life of a tough guy? How about some alligator wrestling, saving an elderly couple from a mugging topped off by some courtroom testimony, all before the syrup hits the hotcakes. Oh, that dude getting locked away has a flame thrower for an arm! Crap, all this action is making me shout. Never let it be said this story had a knack for dilly dallying.

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“That verdict was pretty quick but Juror #6 really had to piss.”

Billy also has the Cajun charm ladies find irresistible, putting the moves on assistant D.A. Annie. She barely has time to close her briefcase and he’s trying to schmooze his way into her briefs. He manages to get some lip action and leave her flustered. I imagine he must smell terrible but when you’re a perfect blend of Crocodile Dundee and Sex Panther, it’s just called musk.

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“Want to score babes and balance blades? Roll around in horse shit.”

After tongue wrestling with Billy, Annie receives a call instructing her to go to a pier at midnight if she wants the scoop on the local crime family known as the Gordon’s. Because nothing is safer than agreeing to meet a stranger in the middle of the night right? This woman has to start re-evaluating her life choices. As expected, two goons arrive on a boat and they have bad intentions. She’s skilled in karate though, kicking ass in heels saves her from cement galoshes. Using the boat as means for her escape, a stray bullet rips through the foggy night and grazes her​ face.

She ends up in the swamp. Disoriented and injured she discovers a large home among the wild. Salvation at last! Using the final bit of strength in her body to knock on the door, it’s answered by who else, a shirtless Bayou Billy. Some guys have all the luck huh? He was probably just chilling, watching Crocodile Hunter reruns and snacking on nails before a damsel in distress just fell into his arms. Sounds like a damn fine Wednesday night to me.

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“Hubba Bubba…and I’m not talking bubble gum.”

News gets back to the Gordon’s that Annie escaped and patriarch “Big Daddy” is none too pleased. The hit was ordered by his son Rock without his authorization. Annie wasn’t a big enough fish to fry and thanks to this ill advised decision they now have Billy and his team all riled up. Oh yes, I did say team. This guy has a cast of characters that are full on G.I. Joe knockoffs named Broadside, Sureshot and Tracker.

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“No worries, that gator has frequent flyer miles.”

Big Daddy has sent his gang , known as F.I.S.T., to the bog. This acronym is never explained but it must relate to the game. I’ll just think of it as Floppy Icicle Slum Trinkets. That work for you guys? Great, let’s move on. Billy had found a homing device in Annie’s boat, so he and his boys are ready for a battle. They setup booby traps that would make Kevin McCallister proud. Even with all the high jinks of swinging logs and other pitfalls, I’m most impressed with this action:

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“We shall defend this shower curtain to the death!”

While Tracker, Sureshot and Broadside take care of the scraps, there is a full on siege at Billy’s house. F.I.S.T. also has it’s share of colorful customers, presumably to mirror video game bosses. The monikers are fucking horrid. I keep thinking whoever made this up was a giggling stoner being fed some funky brownies. Mr. TNT, Kid Creole and Lighting Rod (see what I mean?) bring a full assault as Annie is scurried into a secret panel. Good God, she may just the most gullible lawyer…ever.

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“Damn girl, at least make him take you to McDonald’s first.”

The evildoers get their licks in but Billy just can’t be killed. Electric shocks and gunfire prove to be no match. But wait, scratch that. The guy avoids certain death only to get snagged in a choke hold by a baddie called “Cut Throat”. Is this the end for our resident mullet rocking macho ultra-male? Hell no. Thankfully, Annie realized a crawl space wasn’t for her and smacks Cut Throat over the head with a frying pan. Rather than give her props, Billy wonders when his team will arrive via “Billy-Mobile”. Yeah that’s right, dude’s got cars named after him. If your wading in the seas of cheese anyway, “Billy-Buggy” would have been the better option. C’mon now.

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“Hmm, not sure the garbage truck takes discarded super villians”

This pondering is all for naught as just when you think it’s time to make kissy face and roll credits a bomb falls in front of our leads. Say so long to Billy’s stately swamp estate. Now you gone and done it! Utterly enraged, our hero wrangles up the culprit responsible and threatens him with a venomous snake. What’s the point of that? He wants a signed confession of guilt for blowing up his pimp palace. Had Annie been a counselor worth a lick of salt, she may have wanted to mention the law about a signature under duress being invalid but whatever…why start being smart now.

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“Like exchange Christmas cards close?”

I have to be honest, I really wanted my sense of sentimentality to rule the day and like this issue. Didn’t happen. It’s just lousy. I can see why my adolescent self enjoyed it. No substance but the wall to wall warfare makes for an easy read. Every kid wants to be a reckless, wisecracking action hero. Just doesn’t hold up once…you know…a girl actually talks to you.

This goes straight to the garbage bin but oh the memories folks. They must be worth something. No? Had to try. On the bright side, Jughead has a massive case of the munchies and wants you to say no to drugs. Thanks Archie Comics, you may have considered taking your own advice before publishing this rag.

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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 Archie Comics

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

 

The Savage Sub Mariner #72

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“Just use that cinnamon bun you call a fist to call somebody who cares”

So here’s the scoop, I’m a massive Swamp Thing fan. For my money, all other monsters pale in comparison. Anytime a cruddy creature pops up in a comic with “Thing” as part of it’s moniker it piques my interest. As far as the titular character, other than John Byrne’s take in the early 90’s, Namor has never made waves for me. But the moment I saw the cover for this one, It became a must read. This is also the last issue of the series so I had a feeling the ankle wings were free to fly and some wackiness may be in store.

Before we get started on the story, here are the fine folks who fished this out of their imaginations.

Out of college, writer Steve Skeates started his career as Stan Lee’s assistant performing proof reading duties. It was quickly discovered that editing wasn’t his forte and he began writing for Marvel and every publisher in the industry. Working in multiple genres, he’s had notable runs on Aquaman, Plastic Man and is the co-creator of Hawk and Dove.

Artist Dan Adkins worked primarily in advertising prior to comics. In the 60’s he joined the Wally Wood studio and later landed inking and penciling jobs for a slew of companies. In the 2000’s he illustrated products for Parker Brothers.

Without further ado, it’s time to slap on your bikini and take a dip into The Savage Sub Mariner #72 “From the Void It Came”! Cover dated September 1974.

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We surface dwellers are a bunch of a-holes. It’s true, just ask Namor. He’s swimming through our rubbish and hating on humans. It’s like a PSA reminding people that carelessly throwing a sneaker away really ruins one’s day. Well, in all fairness Namor is already pissed about the annihilation of Atlantis that occurred in a previous issue so a spare tire is just the skin on poo poo pudding.

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“Hey, quit bitching and pick that crap up!”

Let’s travel back in time. Two years according to the writer. As we will come to find out, he likes adding arbitrary details into the plot. An alien life form that looks like space snot floats into a satellite. In the next panel a mysterious hand discovers a destruct button he seemed to misplace. It’s clearly labeled but I suppose working around doohickeys takes it’s toll and the boom key starts to resemble the on switch for the television. The satellite explodes and the galactic goo goes for a ride.

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“The brochure says Cacophonous Caverns is quite the vacation destinat…KABLOOIE”

The debris plummets into the ocean. Settling at the bottom of the sea the booger from beyond admires the aquatic life and decides to form a body. It takes the entirety of those aforementioned two years but it’s successful in creating a humanoid form. This got me thinking. As far as we know it’s never seen a person but has a hard on for fish. So why would it have our characteristics? I would’ve paid to been part of the design meeting. For the headset alone. Yes, this thing decided to use some wreckage as a fashion statement and it’s friggin’ glorious. It’s actually referred to as a “wild party hat”. That’s my kind of shindig! Check it out:

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“RISE and enjoy he splendors of AM/FM radio!”

Cut back to our sulking Sub Mariner pondering his disdain for humans on a dock. There, he’s spotted by two dudes, one of whom happens to hate hybrid species and doesn’t want any “fish men” hanging around. Our next PSA is about prejudice brought to you by Adolph Hitler. No joke. This is a final issue so I understand the impulse to say “fuck it” but quoting the most despised despot from the 20th century is more than a little odd. Anywhoos, the main goon named Bruce goes all Chuck Norris and sucker kicks Subby. Apparently this guy also can’t stand buttons.

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“Pop collar kick! Heeyaa!!”

 I’m going to refer to the mysterious membrane as Slime Thing now as touted on the cover considering he’s rocking extremities and I’ve run out of funny phlegm references. Slimey has been watching the hostilities from the water like a creepy ex in your bushes waiting to witness tubby time. His first impression of our species won’t be favorable as Namor socks Bruce in the kisser, killing him. Bruce’s boy toy by the bay proceeds to tackle the Sub Mariner causing everyone to fall into the sea. Subby comes face to face with Slime Thing and the pal in polyester swims after Bruce’s lifeless body.

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“The Sub Mariner has a psychiatrist for a narrator”

When encountering a monster in the murky depths your first instinct is to punch the hell out of it right? That’s all fine and dandy for some superhero sluggery but I would be inclined to warn him that electronics and H2O are a bad combo. Sure it looks rad to have all that gear on your dome but toasters would make horrible galoshes y’know.

nmr12.1“Well, there goes the neighborhood…er…reef”

 Namor isn’t the advice giving kinda guy like yours truly so they proceed to pound the ever livin’ porpoise out of each other. We do get a nifty little tidbit during the throw down though. Did you know 62% of explosions in fictional orbits are caused by shrouded figures in the Motor City? Me neither, considering I just pulled that stat out of my ass. For no reason whatsoever we are told that was the detonators location. So be weary of the digits in Detroit, they are capable of dastardly deeds!

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“Meanwhile, a hand in Vancouver picks lint from a navel”

Slime Thing emanates flashes from his eyes that blind Namor, yet he continues to fight. This show of will and determination is shocking to his gunky opponent who basically decides “Screw this, I’m out!”. So while Namor has him in an awkward hug, he blows his own head off. Pop goes the weasel baby, ditching one of my favorite looks in the history of comics. Fear not, he didn’t commit suicide but rather reverted to his original form and made course for wherever he originally came from. While traveling through the sky, it proves to be loving ooze, using it’s power again, resurrecting Bruce from the dead. More Like a kid who got his tonsils out compared to someone who just received a new lease on life, Bruce thinks reading a wrestling magazine is the best way to celebrate. Way to go Duchey McDingle.

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“The most unintentionally erotic page of 1974”

Namor is all bent out of shape now he’s been robbed of his vision and realizes if only he tried to understand the creature​ instead of treating it like a soggy pinata he would still be able to wax his own eyebrows. Possibly feeling guilty, the alien flashes again as it passes through our solar system and restores the sight he had stolen. Lesson learned just in time for the end of the run.

I loved this book. Seriously. I will buy every copy I come across in the wild. Is the story THAT good? Nope. The art is pretty iffy and if it wasn’t for the inks by the legendary Vince Colletta, this may have been a tough read.  It’s just so zany, I can’t help but dig the crap out of it. I also have a radical idea.

Marvel should totally bring Slime Thing back. I firmly believe the concept and character is more interesting than Man-Thing. Yeah, I said it. Manny is so damn boring, I would prefer Slime Thing with his crown of circuits any day of the week. Take your stupid elephant trunk and dull continuity elsewhere.

This was his only appearance. One and done. How nobody thought a shape shifting alien with untapped abilities and shitty fashion sense was usable all these years is beyond me. He’s been collecting dust for 43 years. Couldn’t he at least have been tossed in somewhere as cannon fodder or even a punchline? Shame really, I find him quite fun. If anyone at the House of Ideas reads this, call me. I have some great ideas for my new BFF.

To my fellow prowlers of the back issue bins, reel in a copy of this for your collections. If for nothing else than the awesome cover that has zero to do with the actual plot of the book or if you want to get hooked on some classic Namor.

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.