Monthly Archives: May 2021


Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at those often forgotten Marvel Comics characters from the Golden Age, when the company was known as Timely Comics. Unlike Captain America, Bucky, Sub-Mariner, etc these figures never became big hits in the Silver or Bronze Ages. But Marvel did try retconning some of them to fit in with the modern day.

blonde phantomBLONDE PHANTOM

Created By: Stan Lee, Charles Nicholas and Syd Shores

Secret Identity: Louise Grant

First Appearance: All-Select Comics #11 (September 1946) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1949.

Origin: Wanting to fight crime and foreign spies without endangering the lives of people close to her, Louise Grant, secretary for private investigator and former OSS man Mark Mason, donned a costume and fought the forces of evil as the Blonde Phantom.

Powers: The Blonde Phantom was in peak human condition and was more agile than an Olympic gymnast. She was a master of unarmed combat and was also incredibly proficient with her .45 handgun. In addition, this heroine was an expert investigator.

Comment: For a time, the Blonde Phantom was assigned to missions by a figure calling itself Father Time (no relation to the 1940s superhero of that name). That mysterious figure had Grim Reaper qualities and sicced the Blonde Phantom on evildoers whose deaths he had ordained.

Louise Grant’s boss Mark Mason had the hots for the Blonde Phantom but overlooked his secretary Louise, who downplayed her beauty in her secret identity.

blazing skullTHE BLAZING SKULL

Created By: Bob Davis

Secret Identity: Mark Todd

First Appearance: Mystic Comics #5 (March 1941) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Origin: Reporter Mark Todd was covering the war between China and the Imperial Japanese invasion forces before the U.S. entered World War Two. Taking shelter from a Japanese bombing, Todd entered a cave which was the entrance to the subterranean lair of the Skull Men, a mystic race of skull and flame-headed humanoids who kept their existence unknown to the world. The Skull-Men taught Mark Todd some of their secrets, which granted him superpowers with which he fought the forces of evil as the Blazing Skull.

Powers: The Blazing Skull was strong enough to lift 10 tons, could make his head appear to be nothing but a skull surrounded by flames and was immune to fire and heat. He could completely control flames and also possessed a healing factor which let him recover from almost any injury.

Comment: This figure was one of the Golden Age superheroes conjured up by a godlike Rick Jones to battle the Kree soldiers of Ronan the Accuser during the Kree-Skrull War in 1972. Continue reading


Filed under Superheroes


satan killerTHE SATAN KILLER (1993) – August of 1993 saw the release of this cop-on-the-edge movie crossed with a “Satanic serial killer at large” exploitation flick. Steve Sayre directed under the alias Stephen Calamari and starred as Police Detective James Stephen (not StephenS … Stephen. As in Stephen Calamari.)

Before I dive into this review let me say that I am now obsessed with finding information about Lost At Sea, a 1995 film Sayre made with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as the villain. If Lost At Sea is as deliriously deranged as The Satan Killer it will be another gift from the Bad Movie Gods.

Getting back to the topic of this review, this low budget film shot mostly in Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach, VA deserves its own Disaster Artist-style book and movie devoted to its making. The seven current IMDb reviews feature a few people who claim to have been part of this production and it sounds like the kind of wild, guerilla, quasi-shady venture that was much more interesting than anything that made it on film. A Virginia newspaper was supposedly even investigating Steve Sayre and his brother at one point to see if a movie really was being made, at least according to one of those reviews.   

Let’s take a look at our leading characters:

Steve SayreDETECTIVE JAMES STEPHEN (Steve Sayre) – James’ fiancee Christie (Cindy Healy) is abducted, tortured and murdered in a ritualistic way by a Norfolk area serial killer dubbed the Satan Slayer (not killer) by the local media. James has been working the case and media scavengers make a sideshow of his grief. Our hero copes by drinking heavily and slipping into the yellow shirt that he apparently plans to wear every day for the rest of his life.

              I’m serious, by the way. The movie takes place over the span of a few weeks but the detective wears the same yellow shirt the entire rest of the film with the exception of a few flashback scenes featuring happier times with his fiancee. To show that our hero is apparently going without sleep and without shaving, what looks like shoe polish is applied to his face to pass for beard stubble and dark circles under his eyes. Comically enough, after awhile our hero starts looking like he’s made up to look like a raccoon.  Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies


question markHere at Independent Voter site Balladeer’s Blog I’ve often noted the way that, no matter where you stand on environmental issues, it’s become another topic where true conversation has vanished. For starters, I’ve never encountered anyone, no matter how they vote, who doubts or – as the hysterical put it – “denies” that climate change occurs.

The question is whether or not human beings can cause that change. And if so, what non-destructive steps could be realistically taken to counter that. No true conversations can be held because the simple-minded religiously insist that whatever the wildest and most over the top suggestions come from the Democrats MUST be obeyed. Without questions being asked. And despite the fact that not even scientists agree on whether or not human beings can impact the planet’s environment. Both sides of the issue can produce “scientists” who back their claims, but none of those scientists are without bias and often are found to be receiving grant money from certain industries on either side of the issue. Continue reading




LaboratoryLABORATORY (1980) – Time for another Anne “Steven’s Sister” Spielberg project with Robert Emenegger, after whom Balladeer’s Blog has named the REAL E-Space. (Sorry, Doctor Who fans.) In this flick we meet some of the strangest aliens in the Emeneggerverse. They have humanoid outlines but they’re wrapped within shimmering disco-ball skin and are reminiscent of Eldrad from The Hand of Eldrad

These aliens, who speak with distorted, almost robotic voices, come to the Earth in a spaceship that looks like a cartoon fireball. They proceed to abduct six Earthlings from a range of backgrounds to study them and subject them to physical and mental tests. Continue reading


Filed under Bad and weird movies


Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the many facets of Fool Killer lore. FOR PART ONE, INCLUDING THE HISTORICAL CONTEXT IN THE 1850s, CLICK HERE 

fool killer picPART 56 – Some of the Fool Killer’s targets in the May of 1912 edition of James Larkin Pearson’s version: 

*** Columnist Al Fairbrother, who wrote so many columns pandering to different groups of readers that he would often get caught having published hard-hitting editorials on both sides of a particular issue. The latest instance that irked Pearson and his Fool Killer was a pair of columns Fairbrother wrote, one bashing Theodore Roosevelt for thinking about running for president again and one praising him for it.

*** The Meat Trust, for, as usual “somehow” (wink) obtaining favorable court rulings okaying its dilution of beef products with unlabeled amounts of dog-meat and horse-meat.

*** The latest inane fashion fad: women’s hats with batteries in them to supply power to electric lights which decorated said hats. 

*** The Taft Administration and other federal bodies responsible for trying every trick in the book to harass The Appeal To Reason, a Girard, KS newspaper which courageously took on Big Business and Wall Street. The paper was always being dragged into court over the slightest pretext with even the post office being used to harass it and its subscribers (like the way the Biden Administration is trying to wipe out dissenting opinions by tagging them as “domestic terrorism”). Continue reading


Filed under Mythology, Neglected History, opinion


pharaoh's brokerPHARAOH’S BROKER: BEING THE VERY REMARKABLE EXPERIENCES IN ANOTHER WORLD OF ISIDOR WERNER WRITTEN BY HIMSELF (1899) – Written by Elmer Dwiggins under the name Ellsworth Douglass. For obvious reasons I shortened the title for the blog post headline.

Isidor Werner is a successful wheeling and dealing speculator on the grain market in Chicago. His old teacher from Heidelberg, Professor Anderwelt, comes to him seeking financial backing for an antigravity device he is working on. In exchange for 90% of the profits from the device (seems reasonable), Werner agrees.

Anderwelt uses the funding not only on the antigravity technology but for the construction of a spaceship. The professor convinces his former student Isidor to ride along with him on a trip to Mars. Continue reading


Filed under Ancient Science Fiction


democrat platform hatredIndependent Voter site Balladeer’s Blog comes to you once again from an America divided by the Democrats’ hatred and racism, just as it has been for the past five years. It’s no secret that in the United States the REAL division is not black people vs white people or gay people vs straight people or women vs men – it’s DEMOCRATS VS EVERYBODY ELSE.

Yes, people of all colors or religions, etc, can discuss anything calmly and reasonably and without hatred as long as none of them are Democrats. They may not agree, but the debates can be civil and free of vituperative accusations. However, when one or more Democrats enter the conversation, accusations of being “-ists” and “-phobes” replace facts and logic. What had been an exchange of ideas degenerates into vitriol and sanctimonious drivel.

It doesn’t help that pompous, hypocritical and snobbish Democrats actually believe in “Democrat Exceptionalism.”

*** Remember, the people who call others White Supremacists do not speak for all black people, they speak for DEMOCRATS, some of whom happen to be black.



*** People who push for “Defunding (and/or firing) The Police” do not speak for all people of color, they speak for DEMOCRATS, some of whom happen to be people of color.

*** People who insist other people must lose their jobs and/or be driven from an entire profession for expressing opinions that supposedly “offend” or “marginalize” entire groups do not speak for those entire groups, they speak only for DEMOCRATS.

*** People who oppose voter i.d. do not represent all people of color, they represent DEMOCRATS.

*** People who pretend to represent educators do not represent all educators, they represent DEMOCRATS in the education field. Democrats file complaints about or otherwise harass anyone who expresses dissenting opinions.

*** People who insist that “some males menstruate” or “some men can become pregnant” (and want everyone who disagrees to be utterly destroyed) do not represent all trans-people. They represent DEMOCRATS, who relate to every issue ONLY in terms of how much hatred and division it can be used to spread. Continue reading


Filed under LIBERALS AND CONSERVATIVES, Neglected History, opinion


The Covid-delayed college football postseason in the NAIA continues.

Northwestern College Red RaidersFIRST SEMIFINAL – The NORTHWESTERN (IA) COLLEGE RED RAIDERS took down the two-time defending national champions, the MORNINGSIDE COLLEGE MUSTANGS. The Red Raiders visited the champs and spent most of the game chasing them. A 14-9 1st Quarter edge for the Mustangs became 27-23 by Halftime. The 3rd Quarter ended with Morningside College on top 34-29 but in the 4th Northwestern College roared back to win the game 44-41. Continue reading

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Filed under college football


For this weekend’s light-hearted look at vintage superheroes Balladeer’s Blog will examine the characters of Fawcett Comics. They were another company whose heroes wound up absorbed into the DC black hole and mangled to fit in the new continuity of whatever “Crisis” DC is up to these days.  


Secret Identity: Brian Butler

First Appearance: Wow Comics #1 (December 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1948.

Origin: District Attorney Brian Butler grew disillusioned with how many criminals could slip through loopholes in the legal system. To fight crime more efficiently he donned a costume and took to the nighttime streets as Mister Scarlet.

Powers: Mister Scarlet could fly, was an expert at unarmed combat and was as agile as an acrobat. He also used a ray-gun which shot non-fatal energy blasts. Comically enough, no explanation was ever provided for this hero’s ability to fly or how he got his ray-gun.

Comment: This Fawcett hero had a very imaginative Rogues Gallery of supervillains, many of whom would periodically team up against him as the Death Battalion. Brian Butler’s secretary Cherry Wade knew about his dual identity. Mister Scarlet joined the superhero fad for endangering youngsters by taking on a costumed teen sidekick called Pinky.

mary marvelMARY MARVEL

Secret Identity: Mary Bromfield (really Batson)

First Appearance: Captain Marvel Adventures #18 (December 1942) Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1954.

Origin: One day Mary Bromfield learned that her wealthy parents weren’t her real parents. She had been adopted and separated from her twin brother Billy Batson. When she and Billy were reunited, she learned that, like him, if she said S.H.A.Z.A.M. she would transform into a superhero like him per the same magic spell.

Powers: Mary Marvel had massive super-strength, super-speed and could fly. She had a large degree of invulnerability and advanced intelligence.

Comment: In Mary’s case S.H.A.Z.A.M. stood for the grace of Selena, the strength of Hippolyta, the skill of Ariadne, the speed of Zephyrus, the beauty of Aurora and the wisdom of Minerva. Her arch-enemy was Georgia Sivana, the mad scientist daughter of Captain Marvel’s archenemy Doctor Sivana. Continue reading


Filed under Superheroes