Thursday, August 31, 2017

The Best Cover You've Never Seen--House Of Mystery #281 (1980)

You can keep your Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali.

Me, I'll take...

...Muhammad Ali Vs. a Zombie!!

OK, that isn't Ali, but it is indeed a zombie.

SPOILER ALERT: They both lose the fight.

Jim Starlin drew the hell out of the cover...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Golden Age Idol--Who Needs The Blackhawks?!?

Our tale starts with:

Pat Parker--War Nurse!!

Pat hated Nazis so much, she'd sneak out and fight fifth columnists guerilla-style!

And she'd participate in more conventional warfare, too!

Yup, she's a real English rose!

Soon enough, Pat adopted a nice costume, and "War Nurse" became an actual secret identity:

Hmm...Night Nurse needs to step up her game!!

Within a year, however, someone decided that "War Nurse" wasn't a tough enough sobriquet, so she became...

In that same issue, she signed up a couple of friends from previous adventures, and a couple of newbies, to be her sidekicks:

Mei Ling was one of the first Asian heroes in an American comic book!

The next issue, the whole team took on the name "Girl Commandos."

And soon enough, Pat abandoned her costume, and they all got into standard uniforms:

Obviously their name was inspired by Simon & Kirby's Boy Commandos, but these were no children. These were grown women, and they were ready and willing to fight--and kill--the Axis:

Like the Boy Commandos and the Blackhawks, they had an international cast--Pat was English, as was Penelope; Ellen was American; Tanya was Russian; and as we saw, Mei Ling was Chinese. Their uniforms made them seem more Blackhawk-like than Boy Commando-like.

But they loved to go undercover!

And despite not being pilots with special planes, the ladies managed to make it to practically every theater in the war, traversing the globe from month to month. England, Burma, Norway, Czechoslovakia, Greece...

...the Balkans...


...Outer Mongolia (!)...


...there were also adventures in China, Japan, Africa...

Unlike the Blackhawks, the Girl Commandos were unable to make the transition to a post-WWII world, and by early 1946 they were gone, never to be seen again.

I'm not going to oversell them--their adventures were pretty bog-standard for the "non-super-powered military group fighting the Nazis" genre.

But aside from the uniqueness of being an all-female team engaging in the rough and tumble of combat, the Girl Commandos had one special distinction. Obviously, Golden Age credits are often nebulous and obscure at best, and for most of their tales we have no writing credits. But once they became The Girl Commandos, every single one of their stories was drawn by a female artist--either Barbara Hall or (mostly) Jill Elgin, who (probably) also drew Pat Parker's first adventure.

Given that DC is, well, kind of insane in their current use of the Blackhawks name (SPOILER ALERT--the Blackhawks, led by Kendra Saunders, are a covert team put together by Hawkman to prevent the "Dark Multiverse" from breaking out and destroying, seriously. REBIRTH!!), I think there's room for an internationally-diverse commando team. Given their heritage, the Girl Commandos would make a nice replacement. And heavens, making them women, and written and drawn by female creators? It sounds like a no-brainer for somebody to pull this out of the public domain and run with it. I'd read it...

Or at the very least, can we get War Nurse?!?

From various issues of Speed Comics #13-42 (1941-46)

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why It Was Tough To Be A Cloth Salesman In The Olde West!

Billy The Kid (!) is trying to teach "gun-shy" orphan Bobby how to protect himself in the wild and woolly west!

For example...

Jeebus, Billy!!! You "sensed"?!? I mean, you were right, this owlhoot was aimin' to gun you and Billy down. But what if had been just an innocent itinerant calico salesman?? Sheesh...

Anyway, it turns out that this was the guy who had killed Bobby's father, so Bobby later overcame his "gun-shyness" and shot the hell out of him (in self-defense, of course!). All's well that ends well!

From Billy The Kid Adventure Magazine #23 (1954)

Why Two-Face Is The Best Batman Villain!

Pop quiz: can you summarize the difference between Two-Face and other Batman villains in just four panels?

Or first contestants: Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake, as one of Harvey's henchman wants to get proactive about Batman...

Ding ding I think we have a winner!!

Dammit, now I want to see a Batman/Shang-Chi team-up vs. Two-Face and Fu Manchu.

From Batman #397 (1986)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Manic Puzzle Day Five By Five--Flag-Smasher's Least Favorite Puzzle?

Put on your thinking "caps"...

If you need to cheat on this one, well, you probably are pretty normal.

Answers below:

From Fun And Games magazine #4 (1979)

Manic Puzzle Monday Henry The Fourth--What If Hadn't Been Named Jack Hart?

You can't have a puzzle magazine without a word search!

Man, I miss Jack...

From Fun And Games Magazine #5 (1980)

Manic Puzzle Monday Triple Overtime--The Price Is Wrong!!

And you thought these were all easy kiddie puzzles:

Those are some pretty deep dives in 1970s Marvel history...

Answers below if you are worthless and weak and can't come up with them yourselves:

From Fun And Games Magazine #4 (1979)

Manic Puzzle Monday Bonus--The Original Hypnotoad?

Sorry to do this to you on a Monday...

Send me all your money...send me all your money...

Just kidding. I'll settle for your comics!

From Fun And Games Magazine #5 (1980)

Manic Puzzle Monday--Smell The Glove?

What better way to spend Monday than doing Marvel puzzles?!?

The answer is below, if you're a Cheaty McCheatpants.

From Fun And Games Magazine #4 (1979)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sneaking To The Moon!

We're all familiar with the circumstances that led to the creation of the Fantastic Four:

Classic stuff.

But some cynical folks have questioned this scenario. Why was it so important that we beat the commies? Really, could you just evade security and steal a rocket like that? What about the children?!!?

Oh, your poor fools. It's not as if Stan and Jack invented that scenario. Apparently, having to sneak away before the government smacked you down was a common part of the space program!

Let's go back a decade earlier, to the comic book adaption of the movie Destination Moon.. Congress has refused to fund the space race anymore, so the scientists have convinced patriotic industrialists that they must pay for the first moon launch!

(See yesterday's post for the full story on how Woody Woodpecker convinced America's wealthy businessmen to fork out the dough!)

Well, they get the money, and are almost ready to go, but...

No! Not a court injunction!

Well, this gang must have had better shielding against cosmic rays, because they made it to the moon without being transformed.

But obviously, same scenario--we must beat the commies, and we've got to leave without permission!!

So the lesson is, be sneaky, don't wait for clearance or approval--just get in the damn rocket and take off early!! Half the time, you won't get turned into monsters!!

From Fantastic Four #1 (1961), and Destination Moon (1950), as reprinted in Space Adventures #23 (1958)