Category Archives: Superheroes

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.

Powers: Continue reading

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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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THE NYCTALOPE: NEGLECTED PULP HERO

nyctalope-1Balladeer’s Blog examines another Pulp Hero who doesn’t get as much love as he deserves. Science Fiction pioneer Jean de la Hire from France created the Nyctalope (“Nightwalker”) in 1908 but since many of de la Hire’s works were not translated into English for decades this fascinating cyborg Pulp Hero and proto-superhero languished in obscurity.

nyctalope-2This French figure survived a violent incident with the help of scientists who “had the technology” to give him yellow bionic eyes which could see in the dark and for long distances. In addition his saviors replaced his damaged heart with a cybernetic one, endowing him with superhuman stamina since that artificial organ slowed the buildup of lactic acid in his system. 

The Nyctalope’s serialized adventures were collected into novel form after each story ended.

man-who-could-live-underwaterTHE MAN WHO COULD LIVE UNDERWATER (1908) In the story which introduced the Nyctalope he was a supporting character to one of Jean de la Hire’s other fictional figures, in this case Charles Severac. That man invented and captained the Torpedo, a super-scientific submarine that would make Captain Nemo AND Mighty Jack green with envy.

The Nyctalope helped Severac battle a mad scientist named Oxus and his associates Fulbert the monk and Balsan the surgeon. The villains had created a hybrid shark-man called the Ichtaner, meant to be the start of an amphibious army. Needless to say our heroes emerged triumphant and the Ichtaner was returned to normal.

In this debut appearance the Nyctalope’s secret identity was given as Jean de Sainte Clair, but de la Hire would absent-mindedly alternate between that and Leo Saint-Clair in future adventures before finally settling on the latter name.

(NOTE: Various fan-created histories of the Nyctalope resolve the difference by claiming that Jean de Sainte Clair was the father of Leo Saint-Clair. As fun as those fan works are they are not always official.)

nyctalope-on-marsTHE MYSTERY OF THE FIFTEEN (1911) aka THE NYCTALOPE ON MARS – Oxus the Mad returned as a villain in this first solo adventure of the Nyctalope. Oxus (renamed Arkhus in some later translations) was a member of a group called The Fifteen – a secret organization of megalomaniacal madmen.

The Fifteen had formed an alliance with a race on Mars, and through that alliance they had access to interplanetary spacecraft and additional advanced technology. Oxus, Koynos and their co-conspirators were spiriting women away to the Red Planet to marry some of them. They were planning to use the rest on a project cross-breeding Martians and humans to create perfect beings and an unstoppable warrior race in order to conquer both worlds. Continue reading

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EUGENE CERNAN, RIP

Eugene Cernan, our last lunar explorer, passed away. Here is a recap of that final Apollo Mission to the moon, Apollo 17. 

Apollo 17 patchAPOLLO 17 – Overall Commander: Eugene A Cernan

Command Module America Pilot: Ronald E Evans

Lunar Module Challenger Pilot: Harrison H Schmitt

This final manned expedition to the moon was launched on December 7th, 1972 at 12:33am. This was the only after-dark launch of the Apollo Program. On December 11th at 12:20pm the Challenger set down in the Littrow Valley of the Taurus Mountain region of the moon.

The Mission: Apollo 17 broke several records set by previous Apollo missions. Those records included the longest manned lunar landing flight, the most and longest extra-vehicular activities on the moon and the largest haul of lunar materials – 243 pounds. Continue reading

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