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.
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
Will 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.
As 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
Per reader requests Balladeer’s Blog presents another neglected superhero.
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
Balladeer’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.
This 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.
THE 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 official. I am dealing with the Nyctalope as the original stories presented him.)
THE 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 the leader 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 and planning on cross-breeding Martians and humans to create perfect beings and an unstoppable warrior race in order to conquer both worlds. Continue reading
Eugene Cernan, our last lunar explorer, passed away. Here is a recap of that final Apollo Mission to the moon, Apollo 17.
APOLLO 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
Per reader requests Balladeer’s Blog presents another overlooked superhero.
Secret Identity: David Merryweather, Private Investigator
Origin: As a child David Merryweather, his parents and his sister were traveling through the jungles of Burma when bandits attacked, robbed and killed all but David. Left to die, David instead bonded with his mystic totem animal – tigers – and survived. Over the years the boy was educated by Burmese villagers and learned to control the powers that his totem animals had granted him.
As an adult David Merryweather moved back to the United States, where he eventually became a Private Investigator. In order to battle criminals that were beyond the reach of traditional law enforcement he donned a costume and used his super-powers under the name Cat-Man.
First Appearance: Crash Comics #4 (August 1940). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1946.
Powers: Continue reading
Yes, it’s a Marvel Comics crossover with Balladeer’s Blog’s Christmas Carol-A-Thon! With all of the Marvel superheroes conquering the big and small screens here’s an action-packed Christmas Carol adaptation from the 1970s.
Jingle Bombs was the real title of this holiday tale which pitted superhero Luke Cage aka Hero for Hire aka Power Man against the one-off supervillain called Marley. Like a Guest Villain from the Adam West Batman show Marley uses a campy Christmas Carol motif for his nefarious plan … yet, oddly the story is kind of quaint.
On Christmas Eve, Luke Cage is hanging out with his then-girlfriend Claire Temple, a nurse who worked at a clinic in the New York ghetto. Later on in the series Claire would be the center of a romantic triangle between Luke Cage and another of Marvel’s black superheroes – Black Goliath, Hank Pym’s former lab assistant who used Pym’s inventions to turn to giant-size and back.
As night approaches Luke sees a ruckus outside the clinic: a man in Dickensian 1800s clothing is using his walking stick to beat a little handicapped boy named Timmy. Our hero goes out to save the little boy and is attacked by the strange man, who identifies himself as “Marley.” Continue reading