Tag Archives: comic book superheroes

SUPERHEROES OF CENTAUR COMICS

This weekend’s light-hearted, escapist superhero blog post examines the Golden Age superhero pantheon of the company called Centaur Comics.

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 egg-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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FAWCETT SUPERHEROES

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.  

mr scarletMISTER SCARLET

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

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SKYWALD HEROES

mascot sword and gun pic

BALLADEER’S BLOG

How much Seventies can you handle? If dialogue like “Think I’ll take the money and just groove for awhile. Man, I can dig it!” appeals to you get ready for some “relevant” “now” and “with-it” comic books! Skywald Publishing tried to make its mark with adult black & white comic books in the 1970s. Some of their horror and sci-fi titles picked up a little momentum but when it came to superheroes, Skywald made the biggest blunder imaginable. They screwed up the copyright, making their superheroes like Hell-Rider and Butterfly public domain.

Their female horror character Lady Satan partially suffered that same fate, but changes to copyright law in 1974 made it so that only her first two issues from 1973 fell into the public domain and from the third story onward she was an owned IP. Anyway, the adventures of Hell-Rider and Butterfly (the first black female superhero) stood out with their toplessness, drug use and references to sex. Otherwise they were mediocre. Here are Skywald’s two public domain superheroes. Solid! … And all that stuff.

Hell-Rider

VICTIM: Hey, stop shooting that flamethrower in my face! WOMAN: That man is the worst nuisance on the beach!

HELL-RIDER

Secret Identity: Brick Reese (“Brick?”)

First Appearance: Hell-Rider #1 (August 1971)

Origin: Brick Reese (“Brick?”) rebelled against his affluent background. After graduating from Harvard Law School he drifted around the country, experimenting with sex and drugs, eventually joining the roguish but “heroic” biker gang called the Wild Bunch (Think the Howling Commandos meet the biker gang craze of the 60s and 70s).

After 6 months of this lifestyle, Brick got drafted and sent to serve in the Vietnam War. When he had just a few weeks left in his tour of duty he was seriously wounded, with his injuries being such that they threatened to paralyze him at any moment for the rest of his life. Rather than live with that forever hanging over his head, Brick volunteered to be a human guinea pig for the experimental drug Q-47. Injections of that drug every day for a month cured Reese but, unknown to anyone but him, also granted him superpowers with which he battled the forces of evil as the superhero Hell-Rider. Continue reading

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IRON MAN VS THE BLACK KNIGHT

robert downey jr iron manHere at Balladeer’s Blog I like to listen to you readers. Many of you have enjoyed my takes on the earliest adventures of Marvel Comics characters like the Avengers, X-Men, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk. The MOST popular so far was my look at the first 20 Iron Man stories in the 1960s, so here is a bonus I.M. blog post picking up where that original one left off.

tales of suspense 59TALES OF SUSPENSE Vol 1 #59 (November 1964)

Title: The Black Knight

Villain: The Black Knight (Nathan Garrett)   

Comment: This issue of Tales of Suspense allows for a lot of side notes about the evolution of Marvel Comics’ particular iteration of the Black Knight figure AND the nature of the Marvel vs DC competition of the time. 

           The reason that Marvel Comics began pairing up some of its heroes in one particular comic book was because of a new agreement with their rivals at DC. Marvel had agreed to limit the number of titles they published per month for a time. Instead of having two separate comic books for Iron Man and Captain America, Tales of Suspense featured both heroes in individual adventures.

            Similarly, instead of having separate comic books for the Hulk, Giant-Man & the Wasp and the Sub-Mariner, they shared Tales to Astonish in different combinations for a time. Strange Tales was likewise shared by Dr Strange, Nick Fury and the Johnny Storm Human Torch.

All of this stayed within the title-limitation arrangement made with DC while still allowing many of Marvel’s most popular characters to remain on newsstands along with Spider-Man, Thor, the Avengers, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

iron man vs black knightSynopsis: The Black Knight (Nathan Garrett), usually a supervillain opponent of Giant-Man & the Wasp, was in prison following the recent clash between the Avengers and Baron Zemo’s original Masters of Evil, of which he was a member. The Knight’s winged horse Elendil at last located its master’s cell window, allowing him to retrieve some chemicals from its saddle-bag. With those chemicals the Black Knight dissolved the bars of his cell, mounted Elendil and flew off, wanting revenge. Continue reading

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MORE HEROES ADDED FOR THE HOLYOKE PANTHEON

blaze-baylor-3Technical issues caused delays yesterday but I have added on to the Holyoke Comics pantheon for this superhero-obsessed society.

CLICK HERE

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FOOLKILLER 20: FOOL’S PARADISE

Foolkiller running

Foolkiller and his Purification Gun

Superheroes are everywhere these days! Wonder what all this is about? FOR PART ONE CLICK  HERE 

Foolkiller (Greg Salinger) delivers some vigilante justice to a Maggia-run nightclub in Miami. In the process he tangles with another obscure Marvel Comics supervillain.

The Foolkiller name is based on the figure from 19th Century American folklore.

The Maggia is the Marvel Comics Universe’s pastiche of the Mafia.

*** ADULT THEMES AND VIOLENCE ***  

We’re up to issue number three of the Foolkiller solo series.  Continue reading

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