Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Z: "Z" end...oh, and yeah...Zatanna!

is for Zatanna.

It's also "Z" end of the A to Z Blogging Challenge and, while I've had a great time, I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling a bit of relief. It's been great meeting a ton of new bloggers, as well as finding a lot of new blogs to stalk follow. I've learned a lot this month, not just about writing, but about a lot of other myriad topics such as ballroom dancing, astronomy, movies (lots of movies), places/landmarks, author's books, as well as a metric ton of 'slices of life'....which I always love reading about.

I also want to thank each and every one of you who stopped by, left comments, asked questions, etc. I realize my theme wasn't everyone's cup of tea, but I really appreciate you all indulging me in my 'heroic walk down memory lane' and, at least, pretending to be interested.  :D

Now, onto our last heroine.

Zatanna Zatara was created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Murphy Anderson. She debuted in  D.C. Comics Hawkman #4 (November, 1964)

Born of the same race as Madame Xanadu, Homo Magi, Zatanna was a natural sorceress, following in the stage magician footsteps of her father, Giovanni (John) Zatara (also a Homo Magi). Having aided the Justice League on a few cases, she finally joined in 1978 and was touted as one of the League's most powerful members, due to Superman's vulnerability to magic. 

One of her 'Justice League' looks.

While a very powerful sorceress, Zatanna has to not only speak her spells aloud, but she also has to say them backwards in order to work her magic. I guess that was her price for magic.

There's always a price for magic.


I'd also be remiss if I didn't thank the entire A to Z Crew. Their effort and dedication to making this a fun and well run event really showed and I appreciate their work. If you haven't already, stop by and show 'em some love :) 

I hope you all had a good a time as I did, this past month, and thanks again :)

Stop back Wednesday when things get back to what passes as "normal" around here and I share some writing insecurities with another Insecure Writers Support Group post...

Monday, April 29, 2013

Y: Yankee Clipper!

Yankee Clipper in blue with red gloves and boots
is for Yankee Clipper.

No, this isn't about Joltin' Joe DiMaggio (who they used to call the Yankee Clipper, I believe)...this is about a character from a Marvel Comics mini-series called "The Lost Generation, by John Byrne and Roger Stern.

This was a very cool, twelve issue mini that started with issue #12 and counted down to #1. It was loosely told from a time traveler's point of view and the story bounced around through the time periods of just after World War II up until the early 1980s.

The series focused on a loosely organized hero team called The First Line who had adventures around the fringe of the Marvel Universe. In the final issue (#1, remember?) the entire team is killed and and a government conspiracy, covering up an invasion attempt by the shape-shifting aliens called Skrulls, explains why the group or it's members never were public knowledge.

Basically, the whole series was one, big, retcon (retroactive continuity).

But, that was o.k...it was still a fun series and John Byrne's artwork just can't be beat.

The Yankee Clipper was Patrick Carney, a baseball player (perhaps, modeled after ole Joltin' Joe?) who encounters a time traveler by a strange twist of fate. Before the time traveler dies, she passes on her time traveling belt to Carney who was only able to use it, at first, to boost his strength to super heroic proportions. Later, he figures out how to use it to jump around in time with some very interesting results. He manages to jump past the rest of the team being killed and decides to just fade away into history...hanging up his time belt and living a long, uneventful, life.

Stop back tomorrow for "Z" end.... :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

X: Madame Xanadu!

is for Madame Xanadu.

Now, this is one of the more obscure (at least to me) characters I've come across and I only, really, chose her because (believe it or not) characters that begin with "X" are sort of scarce. I mean, sure, I could have maybe done the "X"-Men...I did a group for "L"...but with all their movie exposure, Professor Xavier's most gifted of students aren't really that obscure these days. 

Anywho....Madame Xanadu debuted in the D.C Comics series Doorway to Nightmare #1 (February,1978) as a "hostess", of sorts, for the last book in D.C.'s "mystery" line of books and was a forerunner to their Veritgo line.

The youngest sister of Arthurian legends Morgaine Le Fay and Viviene (the Lady of the Lake) the family were descendants of the lost tribe of Atlantis....a race known as Homo Magi, due to their affinity for practicing magic. Due to her Atlantean heritage, she was very long lived and traveled the world for many years and becoming the adviser to many rulers. One of these rulers was Kublai Khan and his court at Xanadu...where she took her current name from. 

While not strictly an 'adventuring' superhero, per se', Xanadu possesses a vast array of mystical powers. 
  • Sensitivity to the occult and other mystical phenomena
  • Can use tarot cards to sense and interpret the future
  • Can banish demons
  • Levitate object
  • Teleport herself and others.
Xanadu is also immortal after beating Death in a game of cards.

Madame Xanadu has resurfaced in D.C.'s newest continuity as a member of Justice League Dark and, once again, an adviser to the mystical community.

After our day off tomorrow, "Y" not stop back on Monday to see who else I dig up?

Friday, April 26, 2013

W: The Whizzer!

is for Whizzer.

Yeah, yeah...laugh if you want, but it's still better than "Elongated Man"...right?

Anyway....The Whizzer...aka Robert Frank...debuted in USA Comics #1 (August, 1941), published by the precursor to Marvel Comics, Timely Comics. Created by artist Al Avison, rumor has it that Stan Lee, himself, was the writer who came up with the character, but that has never been confirmed. 

The Whizzer was featured in solo stories for the first half of the 1940s then, in 1946, was made part of The All Winner's Squad.

Now onto The Whizzer's origin. You'll probably be glad to note that he was not a scientist and radiation also wasn't involved in Frank getting his powers. No, he got his powers from being bitten by a cobra while on a trip with his father (who was a scientist). Well, he didn't get his powers from the cobra bite itself, but from the transfusion of mongoose blood his father gave him to try to save his life. 

Yes...I said... 'mongoose blood'.

Mongoose blood to combat cobra venom.....makes sense, right? What? You've never seen Riki Tiki Tavi??

Later on, in the 70s, his origin was amended (retconned) a bit to say that the mongoose blood triggered his latent mutant abilities, which accounted for his super speed. Personally, I think the straight mongoose blood is a more fun origin tale. 

Robert discovers that he can now run up to 100 mph and his reflexes have become super human. He decides to go out and fight crime, joining The All Winner's Squad. During the characters revival in the 1970s, he was also (retro continuity-ed, retconned) attributed to joining The Invaders as well as The Liberty Legion. (you do remember them from "L", right?)

I like to think of it as 'recycling'

Frank married Miss America and the couple settled down, giving up the superhero business after WWII. They had a son who....well, that's a story for another post, I think... :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

V: Vindicator!

is for Vindicator.

Otherwise known as James "Mac" MacDonald Hudson, Vindicator first appeared in X-Men #109 (Feb. 1978) as "Weapon Alpha". Having been sent by the Canadian government to bring back their Weapon X (you probably know him better as "Wolverine"). After his solo attempt fails, he returns with the rest of his group...the Canadian super team known as Alpha Flight...to finish the job.    

The two groups battle to a standstill when, abruptly, Wolverine surrenders and agrees to go back with Hudson to avoid any further fighting. Alpha Flight packs up and leaves with Wolverine....or so they think. Telling the X-Men that there 'ain't been a cage built yet that can hold me', they all have a laugh as Hudson and his team return to Canada and realize they don't have the objective of their mission with them.  

A bit later, Hudson's 'Department H' loses it's government funding and Alpha Flight disbands, temporarily. It's not until one of Great Beasts of Legend, Tundra, attacks, does Alpha reunite and save Canada, thereby regaining their official government status. Hudson going by the codename "Guardian" at this time.

The team rebuilds and solidifies with Hudson as team leader, once again. After a few missions, Hudson is duped by a large oil conglomerate and his old boss, along with an evil incarnation of Alpha Flight's farm team, Beta Flight. Now going by the name "Omega" Flight, they attack Hudson and he fends them off long enough for the members of Alpha Flight to join the fray. As the battle rages on, Hudson's battle suit is severely damaged and threatens to go critical. In trying to defuse his suit, it explodes, seemingly killing Hudson in the process. (This happened in Alpha Flight #12, much to the chagrin of the fans)

As we all know, death never lasts forever in the comics....especially Marvel Comics...and Hudson reappears, having opened a rift in time and space and only appearing to have exploded. Taking the name Vindicator, he leaves the Guardian name as well as his old battlesuit to his wife, who had been acting as field leader since his 'death'.

Later on, Hudson is killed again...this time 'permanently'.

Obviously, I'm skipping a huge part of Vindicator's history in interest of keeping this short(ish), but suffice it to say that, before he was killed again, he dealt with his own clone, aliens, and a bunch of other threats to the Great White North.

Vindicator was an amalgam  of sorts, of Iron Man and Captain America. His powers derived from a battle suit of his own design, which he had originally created as an exo-skeleton to aid in drilling for oil. The suit was decorated as symbol of Canada, their own version of Captain America. The new and improved suit allowed him to fly, shoot energy blasts and let him erect a force field around himself. Hudson was also a scientific genius and pretty well versed in bureaucracy...a trait he picked up from dealing with the Canadian government on a daily basis. 

I always liked Vindicator because he was Canadian through and through. A patriotic man who would go to any lengths to protect and serve his country, a loving husband, and a good friend to those who needed friends....such as certain, short, hairy, dude with claws. The fact that he was the symbol for a nation never made him arrogant and he was a good leader for Canada's own super group. 

Stop back tomorrow for a 'quick' post about another WWII era hero. He may be familiar, if you've been following along this month....

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

U: Union Jack!

Sub Mariner, The (original) Human Torch, Spitfire, Captain America, Union Jack

is for Union Jack.

Created by writer Roy Thomas and artist Frank Robbins, Union Jack first appeared in Marvel Comics The Invaders #7

Originally an operative for the British government, Lord James Montgomery Falsworth was first active during World War I as Union Jack. It was during this time that he first encounters a skinny saboteur named Baron Blood....a vampire working for the Germans.

During World War II, Union Jack was active again, this time joining The Invaders after the original Human Torch saves his daughter's life via a blood transfusion after another run in with Baron Blood. The transfusion giving Jaqueline Falsworth the power of super speed which she uses while adopting the costumed identity of Spitfire.

After the attack, James finds out the Baron Blood is really his brother, John. A battle ensues and Blood crushes Jame's legs, ending his career as a crime fighter. James retaliates by impaling his brother on a silver veined stalagmite and ending the threat of Baron Blood...for the moment. After this, he quits the Invaders, but still travels with his daughter in a wheelchair before officially retiring after his son (who James had recently passed the mantle of Union Jack on to) is killed in a car wreck.

Many years later, Falsworth contacts Captain America to aid him in destroying Baron Blood...again. Come on, you didn't really think the Baron was gone....did you? After this adventure James Falsworth, already a very old man, passes away from heart failure. 

James Falsworth possessed no superhuman powers, but was an athletic man trained in espionage as well as armed and unarmed combat. He had a bullet proof costume as well as a six inch dagger and a .455 Webly revolver.

I always thought Union Jack was a pretty cool character because, mainly, back then you didn't see a lot of heroes that weren't "American". Jack and Spitfire brought an English slant to many of the Invader's stories that I used to find fascinating. Being such a huge Invaders fan, it was neat to see heroes from other countries pop up...which happened quite a bit in their book.

Tomorrow we go back to the Great White North for another obscure hero....eh?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

T: Thunderbird!

is for Thunderbird.

Created by Len Wein and Dave Cockrum for Marvel's New X-Men team, he debuted in Giant Sized X-Men #1 (May, 1975)

If you look close, you can see Thunderbird way in the back..

Thunderbird, a.k.a John Proudstar, was an Apache Indian mutant gifted with heightened senses, tracking skills, superior strength, speed, and durability. Proudstar was surly, obnoxious and always griping about his plight that was heaped upon him by the white man and didn't along with any of his teammates. The only problem was...they had another character with, basically, the same traits.

His name was Wolverine.

Thunderbird was, originally, created to show how a student could 'flunk out' of Xavier's School, but the more the creative team developed him...the more they grew to like him, so they kept him around. 

At least for a little while.

Figuring out that they didn't really need two anti-social, loners, in the group, the creative team decided to kill Thunderbird off just a few issues after he debuted to much surprise by the fans.

Proudstar was one of those characters that became more popular after his death and he'd pop up all over the place (usually in flashbacks or pre-quel stories) in different books.

I've always liked Native American characters and, even though he was one of the lesser known members, Thunderbird has always been one of my favorite X-Men.

And, since Rebecca Green Gaspar requested (and remember...you asked for it!) I mention the cowboy that I had hinted at as my other possible "T", as well as the Indian, I give you...

The Texas Twister

a.k.a Drew Daniels.

He had a truly classic, old school, origin tale...and I quote from Wikipedia:

"He is working as a cattle hand at a ranch when a tornado and radiation from a nearby nuclear reactor affect him at the same time. The net effect was to give him the power to generate tornadoes at will."
That darn radiation....when will the comics universe ever learn?? I guess it does keep them stocked with origin stories, though...

Daniels could fly using the wind and generate tornadoes to pummel his foes. He had heightened senses and other powers that allowed him to survive the rigors of travelling around like a human tornado.

The Twister was from Amarillo, Texas and wanted to use his powers to make money. Eventually, he became a hero and part of a team of Texas themed heroes called The Rangers. 

Of course, this was all after he had a run in, or two, with some established Marvel heroes...as shown above.

Stop back tomorrow for a hero from 'across the pond'.

Monday, April 22, 2013

S: Starfire!

is for Starfire.

O.k, this character was so obscure that even I had a tough time remembering her. 

Created by David Michelinie and Mike Vosburg, she debuted in D.C. Comic's Starfire #1 (August, 1976) and was the first heroine to headline a comic for D.C. since Supergirl, back in 1972. 

Unfortunately, the series only ran eight issues before being cancelled.

Starfire hailed from an alien world which was a mixture of sword and sorcery and science....sort of like Thundarr the Barbarian. She was, basically, a freedom fighter who wanted to free all human slaves on the planet, which was ruled by two warring factions. 

She was your typical sword and sorcery type....skilled in hand to hand combat, tracking, archery, and swords(wo)manship. I'm almost ninety percent sure I had an issue, or two, of this book, back in my youth because the character was familiar. Not vivid, but it still rang a bell.

At first, I was going to feature the original character to have the 'Starfire' name....Leonid Kovar. He was a character who appeared back in the original run of Teen Titans, back in 1968, and later, upon finding out the New Teen Titans had a new member codenamed "Starfire", changed his name to one more befitting a hero from Mother Russia....Red Star.

Red Star
Check back tomorrow for a cowboy or an Indian....I haven't made up my mind, yet, but don't worry....you'll have your "T" :)

It looks like we're in the home stretch....how are you holding up? Still having fun?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

R: Razorback!

is for Razorback.

Also know as Buford Hollis, Razorback debuted in Spectacular Spider-Man #12 and his first full appearance was in the issue pictured above...#13.

On the trail of his missing sister, Hollis creates the Razorback identity to help him get her back from a religious cult, which was headed up by the Man-Beast. Running into Spider-Man, and after the obligatory 'mistaking the other guy for a villain' fight, the two team up to bring the cult down and recover Buford's sister. 

A few years later, the character resurfaced in the pages of the new She-Hulk comic as a, sort of, space trucker....don't ask, but it was a fun story.

A huge man, standing 6'8" and weighing 410lbs, Hollis had better than normal (though not super-human) strength and was a tough street brawler. He also wore a hood, of his own design, that could send out an electric shock (via controls in his gloves) to anyone coming into contact with it. It was sufficient enough to even knock Spider-Man on his rear. 

Hollis was also a mutant and his power was......

...the ability to drive/operate any vehicle. Whether he knew what it was, or not. This talent came in quite handy when he was galavanting through outer space. 

Admittedly, one of Marvel's more....strange...as well as obscure characters. I think this one might be the most obscure of the whole twenty-six I planned for this challenge. 

One thing about Razorback is, he had to have guts. I mean, come on, to wear a giant boar head as a hat has to be worth something, right?

Tune in Monday for another pretty obscure gal from the D.C. Universe....

Friday, April 19, 2013

Q: Quasar!

is for Quasar.

Wendell Vaughn was just your ordinary, run of the mill, 'everyman'...who just happened to graduate from the S.H.I.E.L.D academy. Recognized as a good man, Vaughn never made field agent due to his lack of that 'killer instinct'. Relegated to security details, one of his first jobs was at a facility where scientists were running tests on a pair of "Quantum Bands"...weapons used by the now deceased hero, The Crusader. 

The test pilot wearing the bands was able to use them quite well but, after a while, the quantum energy reached critical mass and fried him to death. Still studying them, the facility was attacked by the scientific terrorist group, A.I.M (Advanced Idea Mechanics) in a bid to steal the weapons. With little choice, Vaughn puts on the Quantum Bands and was quite successful in defeating the A.I.M. goons. As the power began to rise, ready to fry him, he decided to relax and 'go with the flow'. He had figured out that having a more flexible mind was the key to using the bands, not the rigid thinking that people with 'killer instincts' had.

Of course, with such powerful weapons, Wendell decides to become a superhero. Calling himself "Marvel Boy", then "Marvel Man", then settling on "Quasar". 

Debuting back in Captain America #217 (January 1978) as Marvel Man, the character then went on to guest star in quite a few issues of Captain America, The Hulk, The Avengers, and Marvel Two-in-One.

Wendell Vaughn has no inborn powers, but has been trained in many forms of hand to hand combat as well as basic espionage skills. 

His power stem from the Quantum Bands that are, now, affixed permanently to his wrists. The bands tap energy from the 'Quantum Zone' for various effects:

  • Energy blasts
  • Energy constructs
  • Bending light to make things invisible
  • Siphon, absorb, and redirect various types of energy
  • Traveling through the Quantum Zone as a form of teleportation

Quasar has always been the 'go to' hero when it came to stories involving space spanning, cosmic, themes in the Marvel Universe.  

Tune in tomorrow for one of Marvel Comics.....odder...heroes...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

P: Puck!

is for Puck.

No, you saw that right...Puck. Not the Shakespeare character or some lunatic reality show bit player....this is Eugene Milton Judd.

Created by John Byrne, Puck debuted in Alpha Flight #1. At the time, this was one of my favorite comics out there and Puck was, as originally presented, one of it's most interesting characters. Alpha Flight was Canada's version of the Avengers, with each member having a decidedly Canadian flavor.  Members having such names as "Snowbird", "Sasquatch", "Northstar", "Aurora", etc. A character named "Puck" fit right in.

Originally, he was just a dwarf, suffering from achondroplasia (or lack of growth in the long bones, as he put it) who had become an adventurer by relying on his quick wit, acrobatic skills, and background as a world traveler and ex-intelligence agent. It wasn't until writer Bill Mantlo took over the book did this character 'jump the shark'.

Under Mantlo's writing, Judd went from 'normal' human to turning into the storage vessel for a demon called Razer. While Razer inhabited Puck's body, he was trapped in a dwarf's stature. After a long and drawn out storyline, Razer was exorcised and Judd grew back to his normal height and age. Apparently, the demon housed inside Puck had slowed his aging down considerably. 

Puck's "new" origin was so convoluted and hackneyed that it didn't make a whole lot of sense....keeping in mind, of course, that it was about a fictional character.  A great example of a new writer really screwing up a great character. 

Originally Puck didn't really have any "powers". He was a skilled athlete, hand to hand combatant and acrobat. He had run with the bulls in Pamplona, fished with Earnest Hemingway, and was a secret agent for the Canadian government.  Also, and in true, Canadian, fashion, he said "eh", a lot.

As in, "I used to be a cool character, eh?"

Stop back tomorrow for another of Marvel's cosmos spanning heroes....

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

O: Oracle!

is for Oracle.

I'm sure most of us have heard of Barbara Gordon. Daughter to police commissioner Jim Gordon and, secretly, the 'Domino Daredoll', Batgirl.


She's been around since the 1960s and was created by Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino at the request of the Batman television show's producer. They wanted a female counterpart to Batman that could debut in the comics and the t.v. show at the same time.

Well, did you know that D.C. Comics later took this character and totally revamped her?

It happened back in 1988 when Barbara retired her 'Batgirl' identity to live the 'normal life'. 

Yeah, like that ever happens. 

Carrying out a vendetta against his arch foe, Batman, The Joker shoots Barbara and severs her spine. She becomes a paraplegic and is confined to a wheelchair.

Always touted as one of the most intelligent characters in the D.C. Universe, Barbara takes on the persona of "Oracle", becoming a top notch computer hacker, information broker, and team coordinator for many of D.C.'s heroes and teams. 

Making her debut as Oracle in Suicide Squad #23, she offered her services (anonymously) to the government agency, Task Force X. This laid the foundation for the mysterious "Oracle" to pop up in different books and offer information to whoever needed it and, always, on the side of the angels. 

In Suicide Squad #38, she was revealed as the former Batgirl and asked to join. Later, she became a mainstay in the all female Birds of Prey series, elevated to new heights by writer Gail Simone.

In a 'good news/bad news' turn, D.C.decided (via their latest universe 'reboot') to bring Barbara back to her former Batgirl glory, taking 'experimental' therapies to regain her mobility. That's good for old school Batgirl fans but, over the years, Oracle became a character that many disabled fans could identify with, as well.

As far as powers went, Barbara didn't have any but, in her prime, she was an Olympic level athlete, had martial arts training, a photographic memory and a deep knowledge of computers and information systems. As Batgirl, she also carried various gadgets just as her male counterpart, Batman, did.

As a personal note, Batgirl Barbara Gordon has always been one of my favorite female characters in the D.C. Universe.....regardless whether she wore a cape or was confined to a wheelchair. 

Stop back tomorrow for a visitor from the Great White North, eh?....

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

N: Nova!

is for Nova.

Debuting in 1976, Nova was an homage to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko's Spider-Man. A teen with working class roots, Richard Rider was chosen at random to receive the powers of Nova Prime and becomes a centurion in the "Nova Corp"...an elite, intergalactic, police force. Having been described as a cross between Spider-Man and D.C. Comics character, Green Lantern, Nova lasted twenty five issues before it was cancelled. 

As Nova, Rider's power came from the 'Nova Force' (sort of like the Green Lantern's power battery), which all Nova Primes could wield. This force gave him the powers of flight, super strength, great speed, some limited invulnerability and the ability to absorb certain kinds of energy. His uniform also allowed him to survive the rigors of space and his helmet had an array of sensory enhancing features as well as communication capabilities. 

This character, as well as the above pictured cover has some sentimental memories for me because, I remember this as being the first #1 issue of a comic I had ever bought....at thirty cents, no less! When I got into comic books, most everything had been going for, at least, a few years so when I found this issue...and saw a new character debut, I was pretty excited to get in on the ground floor.

After Nova's initial run was over, the character was brought back in the 90s as a member of Marvel's teen group, the New Warriors. Rider has grown and developed and was last seen trapped in an alternate dimension after saving the galaxy from the galactic menace known as Thanos. 

Check back tomorrow for someone you may have heard of, but might not recognize....

Monday, April 15, 2013

M: Miss America!

is for Miss America.

And I'll bet you thought I'd be singing..."Here she comes....Miss...America...". Well, rest easy...because I won't be doing that...nope...no way.


Created by Otto Binder and Al Gabriel, Miss America debuted in Marvel Mystery Comics #49 back in November of 1943 during the 'golden age' of comics, for the Timely comic line. 

A precursor to Marvel Comics, Timely began noticing the market was diverging away from 'just males' to include girls, as well as the superhero trend began to wane. To keep up with that trend, Timely began to introduce more female leads such as The Blonde Phantom, Golden Girl, Sun Girl, and....Miss America.

Miss America was really Madeline Joyce who, after tampering with a scientific experiment, was struck by lightning and thought dead. Madeline survived to find she could now fly and had 'greater than normal' strength. Her "flight" was actually done by being able to levitate herself psionically. With well timed leaps, she could levitate herself and appear to fly on her own.

Her book ran for 129 issues and she appeared regularly in Marvel Mystery Comics as well as All Winners Comic. In 1976, she was 'retconned' (retro continuity) into being a member of The Liberty Legion (you do remember them, right?) before joining the All Winners Squad.

The All Winners Squad
Miss America, Namor (the Sub Mariner), Captain America, the Human Torch, The  Whizzer
Miss America was never the 'glamorous heroine' type, but was always a solid character with an interesting backstory. When she was dusted off back in the 70s and 80s, she became a mainstay in any tale told back during World War II, getting a lot of facetime in The Invaders.

Her last big story arc hinted that she and Robert Frank (aka The Whizzer) were the parents of The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. This proved, later, to be false but I always thought it was a cool premise, given Quicksilver also had super speed.

She was so popular that they even named a pageant after her.

O.k..I made that up, but still...she was a fun character all the same.

Stop back tomorrow for one of Marvel's answers to D.C.'s Green Lantern....


For a fitting Music Monday, I'll leave you with "American Woman" by The Guess Who.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

L: Liberty Legion!

is for The Liberty Legion.

(This is an eleventh hour change from my original "L", which was Longshot....hence my 'luck' clue yesterday)

Way back in 1942, Captain America's junior partner Bucky was in a pickle. Ya see, his pals in the supergroup, the Invaders, had been captured and brainwashed by the evil Red Skull! It was up to Bucky to rescue them, but he knew he couldn't do it alone.

So, he put out a rallying cry and assembled his own team of patriotic, home-front heroes to help him get his pals out of the jam they were in. 

Those who answered the call were:
  • The Patriot: (Jeff Mace) A top notch hand to hand combatant and military strategist.
  • Ms. America: (Madeline Joyce) She could fly, had super strength and limited invulnerability
  • The Whizzer: (Robert Frank) Could run at about 100 mph.
  • The Thin Man: (Bruce Dickson) He could stretch, slip in between cracks, and resist injuries due to his pliable nature.
  • Jack Frost: (Mythological winter spirit) Could create and project cold and ice for various effects. 
  • Blue Diamond: (Elton T. Morrow) Was invulnerable to most forms of harm.
  • Red Raven: Coming from a long lost tribe of 'bird people', he had a costume that allowed him to fly as well as other 'advanced' (for the 40s) gadgets. 
Way back when, I was really a big fan of a book Marvel Comics was putting out, called The Invaders. It featured Captain America, his sidekick Bucky, the Sub Mariner, the original Human Torch and his sidekick Toro. Set back during World War II, the Invaders fought against the Axis powers at home and abroad.

I've always been a big fan of team books, so when I saw the above issue that featured a new group...one like the Invaders...I was immediately hooked. 

Back then, as a young kid without the magical thing we know as the 'internet' to reference, I had no clue that all the characters had originated back in the (real) 1940s and were featured in the old Timely Comics, the golden age predecessor to Marvel Comics. Writer Roy Thomas, needing more 'patriotic type' heroes, put the team together.

While they never got a title of their own, the Legion guest starred in quite a few books over the years....mainly as individual characters...and the old characters from the Golden Age of comics were re-woven back into Marvel continuity.

Tune in Monday to find out more about a member of the Legion...

Friday, April 12, 2013

K: Kid Flash!

is for Kid Flash. Yes....Kid....Flash....

Created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino, Kid Flash debuted in Flash #119 (1959) as a sidekick to the fastest man alive...The Flash.

The costume was, originally, worn by Wally West (later by Bart Allen)...the nephew of Barry (The Flash) Allen. Wally gained his powers in the exact same way that Barry did, which defied almost all logic. I mean, you can almost believe that a lightning bolt smashes through a window, shattering a wall full of chemicals, and dousing a police lab scientist....giving him super-speed. But, to have it happen twice?? I'm not sure if they were just being lazy on the origin stories here, or what, but that's what they went with.

They're the ones getting paid, so what do I know?

Anywho, Wally has been a staple in the D.C. Universe for many years whether it be on his own or as a member of the sidekick group, The Teen Titans. 

The New Teen Titans, by Marv Wolfman and George Perez was a series instrumental in developing the character deeper than he had ever been developed before. It was here where he revealed his identity to his parents (before that, only Barry knew his secret), fell in love, and decided he wanted a "normal" life. 

Yes, he was one of 'those' sort of super heroes. He could, almost, outrun light...and yet wanted the big house and white picket fences of suburbia, like his parents. 

Wally's powers were, pretty much, identical to his mentor, the Flash. He could run at superspeed by tapping into the "Speed Force". This force also lets him vibrate his atoms to allow him to do such things as walk through solid object, run on water and up the sides of buildings, and create mini vortexes with his arms and hands. Also, like his mentor, when he runs he is surrounded by an aura that protects him from friction and lets him breathe.

Later on in Wally's career (come on, you didn't think he was really going to have a 'normal' life...did you?), after taking up the mantle of his dead friend and mentor, he becomes just 'The Flash' and begins to mainline the "Speed Force" instead of just tapping into it. His powers grow to not just include himself, but he could give others superspeed. 

He also manages to marry and have two children....both of which exhibit his speedy tendencies. 

While I was never a huge fan of Kid Flash, I did like him within the Teen Titans dynamic where he was characterized as the 'wholesome kid from the Leave it to Beaver family'. A characterization that didn't quite follow him to other books. 

Tomorrow, with a little 'luck', we'll talk about another lesser known hero...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

J: Jack T. .Chance!

is for Jack T. Chance.

(Before I get into this post, proper, I just want to give myself a little 'high five' for making this my 100th post to the blog, since starting back in August of 2011. Woo hoo! :) Also, in the past four months I've posted around 55 entries which is more than I did in 2010 and 2011...combined.)

Now...on to letter "J".

Jack T. Chance was created by John Ostrander and, as the story goes, loosely based off another Ostrander character....GrimJack.

For the uninitiated, the Green Lantern corps was founded by an ancient race of beings called The Guardians as a, sort of, intergalactic peace keeping force. Choosing a champion from each planet and giving them one of the most powerful weapons in the galaxies (the amazing power ring), the Green Lanterns are to keep peace in their respective sectors while still adhering to the Guardians strict code of non-lethality.

Jack T. Chance was the exception to that rule.

From the planet Garnet, also known as "Hellhole" due to it being one of the worst criminal planets in existence, Chance was chosen basically as a last resort. A loose cannon...and one of the Guardian's secret weapons on the war against evil.

Chance was given something that no other member of the core had been given before that time.

He was allowed to use more "questionable methods to get the job done...,but there was a catch. While most Green Lanterns had jurisdiction over an entire sector of space, Chance was to be confined just to his planet. The ring wouldn't work offworld and he was to be subjected to periodic checks by the Guardians to make sure he wasn't getting too out of hand. As if there was such a thing on Hellhole.

Even though he was a very minor character in the Green Lantern lore, I always liked Jack. He could 'stick it to the man' and get away with it, because they needed him to keep a lid on his planet. 

Chance billed himself as a "good, bad man", chain smoked, and carried a big gun as backup to his power ring. He refused to wear the typical Green Lantern uniform and, instead, just put a pin on his lapel to designate his membership in the Corp. Plus...he wore a bolo tie and I was big into bolo ties in the 90s. Don't judge. :P

Like another rebel Green Lantern, Guy Gardner, Jack T. Chance was a nice change from the usual 'boy scout' type member of the Corp...even reciting his own oath while recharging his power ring.

The typical oath goes like this:

In brightest day, in blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight.
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power, Green Lantern's light.

Jack's oath was:

You who are wicked, evil and mean
I'm the nastiest creep you've ever seen!
Come one, come all, put up a fight
I'll pound your butts with Green Lantern's light!

Chance was killed when the entire Green Lantern Corp tried to stop the galaxy wide threat known as Parallax and his ring crushed.

And before you ask, no, I don't know what the "T" stood for. :)

Tomorrow we'll speed along with one of the big gun's sidekicks....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I: Iron Fist!

They used Cap to hook me in...dirty dogs!

is for Iron Fist.

Iron Fist was created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane back in 1974 during the height of the 'kung fu craze' that was sweeping the country. Iron Fist, along with Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu were Marvel's attempt to cash in on the popularity of Hong Kong action films. 

Iron Fist had his own title for a while and also shared the spotlight with Power Man (Luke Cage) in the pages of Power Man and Iron Fist. Back in 2006, the character was revived in the pages of The Immortal Iron Fist...written by Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, drawn by David Aja.


Iron Fist was born Daniel Rand. His father, wealthy businessman Wendell Rand, has stumbled upon the mystical city of K'un L'un in his travels and stayed for awhile. After saving the life of the city's ruler, Lord Tuan, he's adopted as a son and leaves, soon after, to pursue more fortune back in America.

Years later, Rand returns with is wife and nine year old son Daniel as he leads another expedition to find the fabled city again.

Both of Daniel's parents are killed, accidentally, and young Danny is taken to K'un L'un...eventually, as one of the more promising pupils, being taught it's mystical brand of kung fu.

In K'un L'un, Daniel learns to harness his "chi" to various effects, including:

  • Heightened physical attributes-- Danny can push himself for up to an hour before suffering any sort of fatigue.
  • Heightened senses.
  • Augmented healing.
  • Immunity to pain and injury.
  • A 'mind meld' of sorts, being able to merge with another person's consciousness.
His main power, though, is his namesake.....the Iron Fist. 

By focusing his chi energy, Daniel can make his fist superhumanly powerful and, temporarily, immune to pain and injury. This process is draining, though, so he has to use it sparingly.

Of course, Rand is an extremely accomplished master of the martial arts and physical combat. He's also a fair businessman as well as an amateur, street savvy, investigator.

I've always been a fan of the old late night, t.v. kung fu shows and, back in the day, Iron Fist was right up my alley. The issue at the top, with Captain America on the cover, was one of the very first issues of a Marvel comic that I ever bought.

And at thirty cents, no less! Ahhh...the good old days....

In my research for this one, I came across some info on IMDB that makes it seem like an Iron Fist movie is in the works. Stranger things have happened....

(I've noticed my past posts seemed to run a little long so, in trying to keep with the spirit of the challenge, I'll be making them shorter for the sake of brevity.)

Tune in tomorrow for Green Lantern.....and, yes, I know it's not "G" day :)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

H: The Human Fly!

is for Human Fly.

Back in the mid 1970s....when Evel Knievel was a household name...there came a comic from Marvel about a stuntman/daredevil called The Human Fly.

The book only ran about 19 issues, before it was cancelled but I'll never forget it because it was based off (very loosely) an actual person. A Canadian daredevil named Rick Rojatt. The book's tagline was "The Wildest Super Hero Ever--Because He's Real!" 

And he was...in a fashion.

Now, back in the mid 70s as a young kid, I thought this was all kinds of cool. I was always a huge fan of Evel Knievel and putting him into comics (in a roundabout way) captured my imagination. 

For the comic based version of the Fly, his backstory was that, as a young man, he had been in an accident and 60% of his bone structure had been replaced with steel.  This allowed him to take a licking and keep on ticking and was probably a big plus in the daredevil business. It also drove him to do charity stuntwork on behalf of disabled children. It doesn't get more heroic than that, right?

Each issue would have him traveling to a different town and doing a stunt for charity. Somehow, he'd always come across some sort of crime being committed and have to try to stop it using his wits and stunt related gadgets.

Some of his vast arsenal, in the comic, included: 
  • A cape, woven with steel mesh fibers, that had gel pods in them. When it got to a certain temperature, the pods would explode and douse him in flame retardant foam.
  • Magnetic clamps in his gloves and boots as well as suction cups that let him climb almost any surface.
  • His helmet contained an oxygen mask which also acted as a gas mask as well as had a radio equipped into it. 
  • The Fly also carried a baton that did all sorts of things....from shooting knockout gas to emitting a globe of light, to sending out a charge of electricity and acting as a taser.
And, of course, what self respecting 70s daredevil wouldn't have a souped up motorcycle? That along with a "stunt van" to carry all of his equipment, a rocket powered snowmobile, a hanglider, and a jet pack, made up some of the cool vehicles the Fly used to not only wage a war on crime, but to thrill and delight the fans. I have to wonder if they people behind The Human Fly were trying to do some sort of toy deal a la Evel Knievel?

Some characters, it seems, are just that unforgettable and it looks like some folks are trying to get a Human Fly movie going. You can check out the details at the film's website

Even though The Human Fly was, mainly, a giant publicity stunt, I remember really enjoying the comic and couldn't fathom why it ever got cancelled. Of course, I was looking through the eyes of a pre teen who thought Evel Knievel was the greatest thing going.

Come back tomorrow and we'll all go kung fu fightin'...

UPDATE: I found a blog article about the Falcon appearing in the next Captain America movie, for those who were interested. You can catch it HERE.

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