Tag Archives: superheroes

JAWBREAKERS: GOD-KING IS NOT TO BE MISSED

Jawbreakers God KingWith superheroes OWNING pop culture right now, readers often ask me where the next big names are coming from since most of the iconic figures from Marvel and DC have already been brought to the big and small screens. Richard Meyer’s JAWBREAKERS series, featuring a team of mercenary superheroes, has become a graphic novel phenomenon in recent years. THESE are the superhero legends of tomorrow. 

The Jawbreakers’ line-up consists of Hellpriest, Silkworm, Devil Dog, Xaxi, Kuffz, Kill-Switch and Knife-Hand. The team premiered in Jawbreakers and continued their adventures in Lost Souls. Their 3rd volume, God-King, will be coming out after Meyer’s usual six-figure haul on Indiegogo recently. 

Meyer is one of the legends in Indy Comics right now, one of the “Outlaws” going their own way to bring their unique vision to four-color story-telling outside the confines of the Big Two publishers.   Continue reading

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CAPTAIN TERROR: MARVEL SUPERHERO OF THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR AND WORLD WAR TWO

Captain TerrorMarvel Comics rules the superhero roost right now, and with the movie business being what it is that means they pretty much rule blockbuster cinema, too. We have all seen Marvel’s superhero characters dominate the big screen in a way not seen since Cowboy stars of long ago.

Balladeer’s Blog has done plenty of articles about the 1970s comic book serials on which the 21st Century’s Marvel Cinematic Universe was based. I’ve also examined plenty of short-lived World War Two-era superheroes from now defunct comic book companies.

Not only that but regular readers here will remember that I’m an obsessive geek for the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. All that being said, I’m amazed that until yesterday I never knew about the existence of a Marvel Comics (Called Timely Comics in the World War Two Era) superhero who fought in the Spanish Civil War before making a comeback against the Nazis when World War Two broke out. Here’s his complete Golden Age saga.  

Captain TerrorCAPTAIN TERROR

Secret Identity: Dan Kane, millionaire playboy and yachtsman

Origin: During the Spanish Civil War, American millionaire and sport seaman Dan Kane adopted the costumed identity of Captain Terror to fight against future dictator Francisco Franco and his fascists. After the war ended in a victory for Franco’s side, Kane returned to his public life and let the world speculate on what had happened to his alter ego Captain Terror. Continue reading

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DELL SUPERHERO PANTHEON

Superheroes rule pop culture right now and readers demand more superhero items whenever I go too long without one. Here’s a look at yet another neglected pantheon of comic book heroes who don’t get the attention that Marvel and DC do.

PhantasmoPHANTASMO

Secret Identity: Phil Anson

Origin: A young American ran off to Tibet in 1915 and spent 25 years studying with the Grand High Lamas to learn some of their mystic secrets. After mastering them he returned to the U.S. to fight the forces of evil.

First Appearance: The Funnies #45 (July 1940). His final Golden Age appearance came in 1941.

Powers: Phil Anson only had superpowers in his astral body. He would go into a trance – during which his vulnerable physical form would be guarded by his sidekick, bellhop Whizzer McGee. While in this trance Anson’s astral form, Phantasmo, could fly, had massive super-strength and could grow to giant size as well as turn invisible.

Comment: Phantasmo had a kind of “Superman crossed with the Spectre” appeal.

nukla-good-.jpgNUKLA

Secret Identity: Matthew Gibbs, Air Force Pilot

Origin: While flying a U-2 spy plane over Communist China, Matthew Gibbs and his aircraft were hit by multiple Red Chinese experimental nuclear missiles. In the aftermath, Gibbs was able to reassemble his body, which now possessed extraordinary nuclear powers. He donned a costume and began working for the CIA as the superhero Nukla.

First Appearance: Nukla #1 (October 1965)

Powers: Nukla could shoot controlled nuclear explosions from his fingertips as well as render his body immaterial at will.

Comment: As was the case with Timely/ Marvel Comics, Dell went from having World War Two spawn many of their Golden Age heroes to having the Cold War spawn many of their Silver Age heroes. And since Nukla sounds like a female figure this hero could be a woman if revived today. Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN NINE: SOMETHING WORTH DYING FOR

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below. Marvel still rules current Pop Culture.

Killraven nine something worth dying forAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #26 (September 1974)

Title: SOMETHING WORTH DYING FOR

Synopsis: Writer Don McGregor took one step forward in quality last time around, now it’s two steps BACK with this story that is so bad even the people at DC’s Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth might have rejected it. 

Near Battle Creek, MI, Killraven and his Freemen (M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and her creation Grok) have landed in their  Dyna-Glider. 

Killraven is busy trying to break one of the pinkish-crimson horses with serpent scales and forked tongues which were caused by the biological warfare agents unleashed 18 years earlier in mankind’s futile war to stop the alien invasion.

While time goes by and the Freemen reflect on KR’s stubbornness, dialogue tells us it has been well over a month and a half since the battle in Indianapolis last issue. (This makes no sense since they are flying, which is why my revision last issue made a point of having their Dyna-Glider destroyed by Skar. Hell, they could have WALKED from Indianapolis to Battle Creek several times over in a month and a half.) 

Killraven 2The dialogue also tells us Killraven has not had any of his Visions courtesy of The Power since the encounter with Martians and human Quislings at the Indianapolis Speedway. NOTE: At this point KR and his Freemen have not yet pieced together the fact that his “visions” are really him mentally invading the minds of Martians. Since they have encountered no Martians in the past month and a half, THAT’s why he has had no visions recently.

REVISION: Rather than have the main action focus on KR trying to “break” the serpent-stallion like he’s in a rodeo while dialogue covers important topics, I would have had KR already astride the horse while his Freemen were riding the mutated hybrid animals they would be riding a few issues down the road.

While Killraven and his Freemen – with Deathlok replacing Grok in my revisions – engage in a running battle with human Quislings pursuing them in various land-vehicles, dialogue and narration would let us readers know they’ve been on the run like this for weeks since the clash in Indianapolis.  Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN EIGHT: THE DEVIL’S MARAUDER

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below. Marvel still rules current Pop Culture. 

Killraven eight devils marauderAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #25 (July 1974)

Title: THE DEVIL’S MARAUDER

Synopsis: Don McGregor is beginning to really click as the writer for this post-apocalypse series, so my revisions will be very limited this time around. Rich Buckler is the new artist, further improving the series compared to the past few issues.

Somewhere in the ruins of Indiana, like most of the Earth, nearly leveled in the war against the alien invaders 18 years earlier, a stolen Dyna-Glider flies through the skies. Aboard are Killraven and his Freemen: Hawk, Old Skull, Carmilla Frost, her creation Grok and M’Shulla, who pilots the craft.

REVISION: My Freemen roster is the same except for Grok, who would instead be Deathlok, Carmilla Frost’s creation. I would have Carmilla piloting the aircraft since she is the scientist of the group.

The Freemen spot a Martian tripod pursuing a human who fled their enslavement at the nearby Martian testing grounds/ proving grounds for their war machines: the old Indianapolis Speedway. Piloting the Tripod is Skar, a mysterious inhuman figure who works for Earth’s alien conquerors but who makes it clear he is neither human nor Martian. (NOTE: His exact nature will be revealed during a future clash with the Freemen.)

REVISION: As always, I would have dropped the ridiculous Martian angle along with the tenuous War of the Worlds connection and just had it be regular aliens – Zetans in my revisions – who had conquered the Earth. Skar is such a bland name I would have livened it up a little as “Warscar” or “Battlescar” or something similar.

Killraven foolishly leaps from the Dyna-Glider to attack Skar’s Tripod. He is defeated and left for dead, since Skar considers all humans beneath contempt. He pilots his Tripod back to the converted Indianapolis Speedway.  

REVISION: I would, as ever, have the Tripods really be Triphibian craft and the Dyna-Glider would have been shot down by Warscar/ Battlescar after he thought he killed Killraven. The explosion in the distance would make him assume all hands were dead and he would return to the Speedway.    Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN SIX: THE LEGEND ASSASSINS

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven six legend assassinsAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 #23 (March 1974)

Title: THE LEGEND ASSASSINS

Revised Title: Since I would save the attempted execution of Killraven for the next issue instead of this one, I would use For He’s A Jolly Dead Rebel as the title for this part and save The Legend Assassins for next time.

Synopsis: Killraven and his Freemen (M’Shulla, Old Skull, Hawk, Carmilla Frost and Grok) continue to battle against hopeless odds at the Lincoln Memorial Slave Market, where the Martians buy and sell humans as either slave labor or to be used as food.

Battling at their side is their fellow rebel Mint Julep, the green-skinned plant/ human hybrid created by Martian science and her unnamed Freewomen. Both bands of guerillas have freed their comrades who were being auctioned off and are trying to fight their way free of the increasing numbers of Martians and their human quislings closing in on the area.

Killraven has no trouble killing the mob of actual Martians that he was thrown to at the end of last issue. Their sluggish movements in Earth’s greater gravity negated the advantage of their superior numbers and their many tentacles. KR fights his way clear with his sword and photo-nuclear pistol and the Martians slink away to shelter since, even now, they have only LIMITED immunity to Earth germs.

A pair of Tripods manage to snair Killraven and carry him off before the other rebels can free him. Mint Julep convinces KR’s Freemen to escape with her since she and her Freewomen have hidden lairs all around this territory of theirs.

Mint JulepREVISION: Writer Don McGregor had not yet hit his stride writing about Killraven’s adventures and I feel he messed up the story structure to this three-parter. I would have had ALL the Freemen – including KR – escape with Mint Julep and her band.

The quisling Sabre (no relation to the later Don McGregor figure) would, like in the real story, salute the fleeing Freemen with his sword, wishing he could be one of them. 

With Killraven using The Power to keep all of them undetected by the sensors and alarms of the aliens (Zetans in my revisions, NOT ridiculous Martians) the rebels all escape to the subterranean hideouts of Mint and her people. They follow abandoned subway lines to a sub-level of the Pentagon, one of their lairs.

Dialogue will make it clear that she and her Freewomen practically rule the comings and goings through the old subway system beneath the city because they know them inside-out and massacare any human quislings like Sabre and his men if they try to pursue them there. And, for reasons not known YET, the aliens themselves are too terrified to personally venture into the old subways OR the sub-levels of the Pentagon.     Continue reading

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KILLRAVEN FOUR: THE MUTANT SLAYERS

FOR PART ONE OF BALLADEER’S BLOG’S EXAMINATION OF THIS OLD, OLD MARVEL STORYLINE CLICK HERE  The revisions I would make are scattered throughout the synopsis below.

Killraven four mutant slayersAMAZING ADVENTURES Vol 2 # 21 (November 1973)

Title: THE MUTANT SLAYERS (Revised Title: DEATHLOK, THE DEMOLISHER)

Synopsis: Another issue means ANOTHER change in creative team for this promising but star-crossed series. This fourth change in four issues gives us Don McGregor as the writer and Herb Trimpe as the artist.

McGregor will stay and will handily develop the flowery prose that also characterized his run on the 13-part Black Panther story Panther’s Rage, previously reviewed here at Balladeer’s Blog. Unfortunately, Don’s writing in this issue is as hopelessly lame and “comic bookish” as Herb Trimpe’s artwork.

We are told that the Martians had their human quislings – in this case led by a human cyborg called the Warlord – transport Killraven and his Freemen, who were ambushed and captured last issue amid the ruins of LaGuardia Airport, to this new underground base. The base’s location is undisclosed for now.

REVISION: Given Riker’s Island’s proximity to LaGuardia Airport I would have made THAT the location that the captive Freemen were transported to. And given the island’s use as a prison before the alien conquest of Earth it would be ideal for my revised storyline.

I would make the Warlord be specifically Warlord RYKER as in Simon Ryker (no relation to the island’s namesake). Simon Ryker was, of course, the main villain in Deathlok (sic) the Demolisher, another of Marvel’s promising but short-lived sci-fi comic books of the 1970s.

DeathlokI’m combining Deathlok’s story with Killraven’s in a sort of Ultimate Killraven way, since Marvel in recent years had KR, Deathlok and other figures from their canceled post-apocalypse titles get thrown together as a team due to time anomalies, etc ANYWAY.

Warlord Ryker would still hate Killraven for causing the loss and cybernetic replacement of his (Ryker’s) arm and eye during his escape from the gladiatorial pens a few years earlier.

Back to the real story, the Warlord and his fellow quisling Carmilla Frost (in her first-ever appearance) are watching several waves of guards struggling to shepherd Killraven along to join his Freemen in their new prison cells. Expository dialogue makes it clear that Keeper Frost is a molecular biologist and, like all the other Keepers, she is a scientist who sold out her fellow Earth people in exchange for privileges. Mostly, access to the Martians’ advanced science to continue their work.

The Warlord rants a great deal about how he warned the Martians to execute Killraven years ago, but he was such a good fighter in their gladiatorial games that they kept him alive for sport. Eventually the Warlord knocks out KR from behind.

REVISION: As always, I’d have jettisoned the tenuous War of the Worlds connection by getting rid of the ridiculous Martians and just made it regular aliens – say from the Zeta Reticuli area of space – who had conquered Earth.

Carmilla FrostInstead of watching Killraven struggle against guards I would have Warlord Ryker and Carmilla Frost watching and taking notes as other Keepers subject the rebel leader to various tests – many of them painful, of course – to determine the nature and origin of his paranormal abilities called simply The Power in the first two issues. (This was 4 years BEFORE Star Wars, so The Power is NOT a ripoff of The Force.)     Continue reading

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