Category Archives: Superheroes

BLACK CONDOR: THE OFFICIAL SUPERHERO OF BALLADEER’S BLOG

Black CondorRegular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know that words like eccentric, oddball, offbeat, weird and damn crazy come to mind when describing me. So, that being the case the most appropriate superhero mascot for this site is the Black Condor.

That’s the Golden Age Black Condor, who debuted in 1940 and is now in the public domain, not the newer comic book characters going by that name. The original Black Condor appeals to me in the same way that bad movies do. Here are the six reasons why this figure has long been my favorite weirdass Golden Age superhero:

ONE: HE STARRED IN A COMIC BOOK TITLED CRACK COMICS! Yep. Crack Comics number 1 marked the first appearance of the Black Condor. Very appropriate for a hero whose whole story sounds like it was inspired by smoking a crack pipe. Continue reading

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NIGHTSHADE: ANOTHER FORGOTTEN SUPERHERO

Superhero-mania shows no signs of abating! Since Balladeer’s Blog’s recent look at the defunct Centaur Comics superheroes was such a hit I decided to post an entry on another of their neglected figures.

Nightshade splash pageNIGHTSHADE

Secret Identity: Howard Hall, scientist

Origin: Wealthy young scientist Howard Hall found both science and his life of luxury to be ultimately unfulfilling. Immersing himself in the secrets of Eastern Mysticism he discovered he had a real knack for one particular Dark Art: endowing his shadow with life, solidity and super-strength.

Calling himself Nightshade, Hall costumed himself in a white tuxedo and white hat with a pair of large sunglasses serving as a mask. He used his new abilities to fight crime and other forces of evil.  

First Appearance: Amazing-Man Comics #24 (October, 1941). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Powers: Continue reading

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KING OF DARKNESS: CENTAUR COMICS SUPERHERO

Everywhere you turn these days you see superhero movies and/or series. Balladeer’s Blog examines another neglected superhero from Centaur Comics.

King of Darkness 2KING OF DARKNESS

Secret Identity: Bruce King, radio engineer.

Origin: Bruce King’s experiments with ultra-short radio waves led him to some incredible discoveries. Utilizing his finds he built what he called a Black-Zero Transmitter, donned a costume and took to the skies to fight crime with his new inventions.

First Appearance: Amazing-Man Comics #24 (October 1941). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1942. 

Powers: The King of Darkness’ Black-Zero Transmitter enveloped him in a field of darkness – which he called “a queer pillar of darkness.” This field/ pillar which surrounded the King of Darkness enabled him to fly by negating gravity and to shoot black rays from his hands. Continue reading

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CENTAUR COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON

With superheroes continuing to flood movies, television and streaming media, Balladeer’s Blog takes another look at a neglected pantheon of heroes.

Air ManAIR MAN

Secret Identity: Drake Stevens

Origin: Drake Stevens’ father, Ornithology Professor Claude Stevens, was murdered and when the police were getting nowhere Drake donned a costume equipped with various technical gimmicks and set out to bring the killers to justice.

As always happens in comic books Drake decided to continue fighting crime under his new nom de guerre Air Man.

First Appearance: Keen Detective Funnies #23 (August 1940). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1941.

Powers: Air Man’s costume boasted feathers filled with an experimental anti-gravity gas as well as a jet-pack. In addition to that he sported guns plus a Chemical Belt loaded with cigar-shaped explosives. On top of that Air Man was highly skilled at unarmed combat and had Olympic-level gymnastic abilities. 

Comment: Air Man was one of those Golden Age superheroes who didn’t hesitate to kill off his adversaries when the situation called for it.  

Blue LadyBLUE LADY

Secret Identity: Lucille Martin, novelist

Origin: Returning from a trip to China on board a luxury liner, Lucille Martin was given a priceless statue by a Chinese woman named Lotus. She was told to guard the statue from some men who were pursuing Lotus and by way of payment the Chinese woman also gave her a blue ring.

When the men pursuing Lotus killed her, Ms Martin accidentally discovered that the ring gave her super-powers. She donned a costume, called herself the Blue Lady and brought Lotus’ murderers to justice as the start of a crime-fighting career.  

First Appearance: Amazing-Man Comics #24 (October, 1941). Her final Golden Age appearance came in 1942.

Powers: Accidentally breaking the blue-bird shaped gem on the Oriental ring released a gas which bestowed upon the Blue Lady the strength of ten men, invulnerability and the ability to teleport via blue mists. She could also generate those blue mists to hide in and to disorient her opponents. In turn, other gasses were the Blue Lady’s weakness.  Continue reading

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THE HOOD: HOLYOKE SUPERHERO

This superhero-crazed culture lets me know if I go too long without a blog post about this topic, so here’s another neglected hero from Holyoke Comics.

hood-holyokeTHE HOOD

Secret Identity: Craig Williams, FBI Agent

Origin: Federal Agent Craig Williams grew frustrated with the way too many slick criminals and supervillains were able to wriggle free from any legal charges. When faced with such dead-ends in the course of his duties he took to wearing a costume and calling himself the Hood. In that guise he brought down criminals who could not be brought to justice by conventional means.

First Appearance: Cat-Man Comics #5 (December 1941). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1945.

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THE SPIRIT: FIFTY SHADES DARKER

spirit-chainedWill Eisner’s superhero the Spirit was – among many other things – sort of a male version of model Betty Page.

With ads for the release of the sequel to the bondage “romance” Fifty Shades of Grey hitting us non-stop now here’s a look at the Spirit in some of his male victim pics.  

Call me a sexist if you want but I hate stuff where the women are the victims. The Spirit’s super-resiliency from Doctor Cobra’s chemicals made him the ultimate male bondage pinup in place of the many, many Irving Klaw-styled Betty Page imitations.

spirit-chained-3As seen in this collectible mini-bust the Spirit’s well-known tendency to get himself tied up, abused and/or seduced by beautiful ladies even merits its own line of merchandise.

 

I understand this particular item comes clean-faced like this or with our hero’s face peppered with lipstick marks – next to ropes and chains one of the most common Spirit motifs when it comes to dangerous women.   

The implied and often overt kinkiness of the sexy Femmes Fatale in the Spirit’s Rogues Gallery of foes is a subject that still doesn’t get the attention it deserves even today. For example: Continue reading

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TORNADO TOM: HOLYOKE SUPERHERO

Per reader requests Balladeer’s Blog presents another neglected superhero.

tornado-tomTORNADO TOM

Secret Identity: Tom Kenny, farm hand

Origin: While working the fields on a farm in the mid-western United States, Tom Kenny was scooped up and carried aloft by a freak cyclone. After several hours of exposure to the elemental windstorm the man finally dropped into a town he did not recognize.

In addition to granting Tom superpowers the mysterious storm caused him to lose much of his memory outside of his first name. He could not recall where he was from or who his relatives were or if he had known anything about the odd cyclone. Adopting the last name Kenny the amnesiac wandered from town to town and city to city trying to learn about his past.

During his quest he would battle any evils that he came across under the superhero name Tornado Tom.

First Appearance: Cyclone Comics #1 (June, 1940). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1941.

Powers: Continue reading

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