Tag Archives: superheroes

STAR-LORD: HIS EARLY ADVENTURES

Marvel Mania is relentless! Already I’ve been hearing it from regular readers who have come to look forward to these harmless, escapist looks at superheroes on weekends. Here’s one for this weekend, a bit later than I usually get them posted. 

starlord 1MARVEL PREVIEW Vol 1 #4 (January 1976)

Title: STAR-LORD – FIRST HOUSE: EARTH

Villains: Ariguans

Comment: This tale presented a Peter Quill quite different from the way he would be retconned by the time the character joined Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy decades later. This Peter Quill grew up feeling tormented by his secret half-alien parentage after his mother was killed in an attack by aliens called Ariguans.

Peter trained to become an astronaut and ultimately wound up serving on a space station, where an entity called the Master of the Sun granted Quill his powers, weapons and sentient vessel called Ship to become an intergalactic adventurer called Star-Lord. The figure let Star-Lord avenge himself on his mother’s killers so he could start his duties unencumbered by a personal vendetta.    Continue reading

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ASK BALLADEER: KANG THE CONQUEROR AND IMMORTUS

kang picIn the past handful of days Balladeer’s Blog’s 2017 blog posts examining the Marvel Comics villain Kang the Conqueror and some of his other selves like Immortus and Rama Tut have been getting incredible amounts of hits. I looked into it and it turns out that when the latest Marvel streaming miniseries, Loki, ended, the cliffhanger involved Kang and Immortus at Immortus’ castle in Limbo, the realm outside the time stream.

immI thought that people were just going to my 2017 blog posts because they had no idea who Kang and Immortus are. Instead, I started getting comments from readers expressing thanks for the clarity of the “Timey-Wimey” nature of Kang’s labyrinthine saga. They said that the people writing the Loki miniseries plopped everything into the far later stages of the Kang/ Immortus stories, bypassing the earlier tales that would help people understand it.

So, in the style of an FAQ, here are the links to my articles which let people in on the Kang storyline from the beginning, through his eventual metamorphosis into Immortus by way of Rama Tut II, the Scarlet Centurion and others. Think of Kang’s various selves like you’d think of the Doctor’s various regenerations on Doctor Who to simplify it. Anyway, here are the links for my reviews of early Kang stories up through the Celestial Madonna Saga. (And with The Eternals movie coming, Marvel may well work the Celestials into their movie universe, too.)

Originally, Immortus wasn’t overseeing a “Sacred” Timeline as much as he was making sure events played out properly to bring on the Celestial Madonna.

kang bid tomorrowONE: BID TOMORROW GOODBYE – Kang wants the Celestial Madonna (Mantis, who started out as an Avenger in the 1970s) and reveals she has been the reason he frequently targeted the 20th Century. Agatha Harkness guest-stars, from the years when she was the Scarlet Witch’s mentor. CLICK HERE.

TWO: A BLAST FROM THE PAST – The actual, REAL death of an Avenger as the team tries to stop Kang from obtaining the Celestial Madonna, whose offspring would grant Kang control of all time and space. CLICK HERE

THREE: THE REALITY PROBLEM – The funeral for that first Avenger to be killed in action, plus further investigation into Mantis’ mysterious past to learn how she became destined to be the Celestial Madonna. CLICK HERE. Continue reading

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MARVEL MANIA

mascot sword and gun pic

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At present pop culture is still Marvel’s world given how their superheroes continue to dominate movies and streaming services. Readers have been asking for a convenient one-stop blog post to use as an access point for Balladeer’s Blog’s assorted Marvel Comics articles, so here we go.

SHANG-CHI: HIS FIRST TWELVE ADVENTURES – Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, is set to star in the upcoming movie Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. This blog post covered his “senses-shattering origin” (R.I.P. Stan Lee) plus his first dozen stories, featuring his villainous father, his adopted brother Midnight (M’Nai), Black Jack Tarr and more. Click HERE

kang bid tomorrowKANG THE CONQUEROR, MANTIS AND THE CELESTIAL MADONNA SAGA – Plenty of Easter Eggs point to Kang’s imminent debut in Marvel movies and/ or tv shows, plus his true love Ravonna Renslayer has already debuted. Kang’s alias as Rama Tut even showed up in X-Men: Apocalypse.

              Mantis, though a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy in the films, started out as an Avenger in the 1970s. For my detailed look at her first appearance on up through her starring role in the original Celestial Madonna Saga click HERE.  TO JUMP STRAIGHT TO THE KANG PART CLICK HERE. For Mantis’ role in the first THANOS WAR click HERE and HERE.

AGATHA HARKNESS AND THE SCARLET WITCH – Their first meeting HERE.

adam warlock poseADAM WARLOCK, THANOS, GAMORA AND THE MAGUS – And speaking of Thanos, and with Adam Warlock having been hinted at since the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, here’s another 1970s Young Adult Classic from Marvel. Adam took on his vile other self the Magus, his galaxy-spanning 1,000-world empire and Thanos in his first post-Thanos War appearance. Plus Gamora’s very first appearance. Click HERE.

KIT HARINGTON’S BLACK KNIGHT – This post covered Marvel’s various incarnations of the Black Knight, from the heroic figure who fought in the Crusades through the modern-day supervillain version who fought the Avengers to his nephew Dane Whitman (Kit Harington), who became a hero and redeemed the family honor. Click HERE.

killraven poseKILLRAVEN – The heroic rebel leader and his Freemen take on Earth’s alien invaders on a war-torn post-apocalyptic world crawling with extraterrestrial tyrants and assorted mutated menaces. Click HERE.

THE X-MEN – For the first twenty stories of the ORIGINAL 1963 X-Men, featuring their initial encounters with Magneto, Juggernaut, the Mimic and the Sentinels, click HERE. For the NEW (Wolverine, Storm & Phoenix) X-Men from 1975 click HERE.

BLADE THE VAMPIRE SLAYER – With his own tv series on the way, here’s his early tales, from 1973-1983. Click HERE. Continue reading

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THE FIRST 20 UNCLE SAM SUPERHERO STORIES FROM THE 1940s

As the 4th of July approaches, Balladeer’s Blog presents one last red, white and blue-themed superhero – Uncle Sam, from Quality Comics. For over 20 more Quality Comics heroes click HERE.

uncle samUNCLE SAM

Secret Identity: Ezra Smith (assumed name)

First Appearance: National Comics #1 (July 1940) His final Golden Age appearance came in 1944.

Origin: During the Revolutionary War, a dying American soldier named Sam (last name unknown) felt such a fervent desire to continue fighting for the new country that he assumed supernatural status. Over the decades he incarnated as Uncle Sam whenever the United States needed him.

In 1940 he appeared to young Buddy Smith, whose father Ezra was just killed for opposing a Fascist organization called the Purple Shirts. Uncle Sam defeated that group and became Buddy’s substitute father, pretending to be his late father Ezra to legal authorities.

uncle sam againPowers: This hero had Superman-level strength and invulnerability. He could fly in a sense by making enormous Hulk-sized leaps. He had a mystic ability to know where he would be needed. Due to his supernatural nature, Uncle Sam could not be photographed or filmed.

Comment: When he was no longer needed in a given time period, this hero faded away, to once again incarnate during the next period of crisis for the country.

national comics 1NATIONAL COMICS #1 (July 1940)

Title: The Coming of Uncle Sam

Villains: The Purple Shirts

Synopsis: The origin of Uncle Sam, including his “adoption” of Buddy Smith, the scrappy kid in short pants depicted on the cover. Uncle Sam wages war on the Purple Shirts army, which is being financed by an unnamed – but obvious – foreign power.

Our hero invades the Purple Shirts’ secret stronghold at Box Valley in the southern Rocky Mountains. Uncle Sam clobbers the villains and rescues the U.S. President, whom they kidnapped earlier in a commando raid. Continue reading

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NEGLECTED DC SUPERHEROES OF THE GOLDEN AGE

With the bulk of Balladeer’s Blog’s light-hearted superhero blog posts featuring Marvel Comics characters, DC fans have been demanding some love. I previously looked at the Justice Society, so this time here’s my take on their overlooked Golden Age heroes.

air waveAIR WAVE

Secret Identity: Larry Jordan

First Appearance: Detective Comics #60 (February 1942)

Origin: District Attorney Larry Jordan became disgusted with the way so many criminals escaped conviction in the courts. He adopted the costumed identity of Air Wave and set out to fight crime on his own terms.

air wave picturePowers: Air Wave was in peak physical condition and was more agile than an acrobat. He excelled at unarmed combat and wore special boots which let him glide or skate along power lines and phone lines. He also had radios in his costume’s earpieces. In addition, his trained parrot Static served as his mascot.

Comment: This hero appeared in nearly 80 adventures from 1942 to 1948. Continue reading

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FIRST 16 FIGHTING YANK STORIES FROM THE 1940s

fighting yank a picWith the big 4th of July holiday coming up, this weekend’s light-hearted bit of superhero escapism will combine some Revolutionary War nostalgia with some World War Two nostalgia. Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the early adventures of the Nedor Comics hero called the Fighting Yank.

For many more Nedor superheroes click HERE.

THE FIGHTING YANK

Secret Identity: Bruce Carter III

Origin: See below

Powers: The cloak bestowed upon wealthy Bruce Carter III by the ghost of his ancestor, a Revolutionary War soldier, granted him a large degree of super-strength, made him bulletproof and let him run at over 60 miles per hour.    

startling 10STARTLING COMICS #10 (September 1941)

Title: Introducing The Fighting Yank

Villains: Nazi Spies

Synopsis: Wealthy Bruce Carter III is the spitting image of his ancestor, Bruce Carter I, a soldier who fought in the Revolutionary War. Unjustly accused of neglecting his duty Carter’s ghost has been wandering since then hoping to restore the family honor. He believes fighting in the expanding World War will provide that opportunity for his look-alike descendant, so he emerges from his life-sized portrait on the wall of the Carter home. The ghost leads Bruce III to the attic of the old family home and reveals to him a cloak which will bestow super-powers on the wearer.

              In his first adventure, the Fighting Yank rescues a Senator from Nazi spies who have replaced him with a lookalike. That lookalike has been using the Senator’s popularity to rally the people toward an alliance with the Axis Nations. Our hero exposes the deception and clobbers the spy ring. Bruce Carter III’s girlfriend Joan Farwell recognizes him under the domino mask and shares his secret identity with him from now on. Continue reading

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SHANG-CHI: HIS FIRST TWELVE ADVENTURES

With the first trailer for the next Marvel Comics movie, Shang-Chi, out already, here’s a look at the first twelve  Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu stories.

shang chi picFirst, a little background information. In the early 1970s Marvel was experimenting with hybrid titles that would combine the old and the new by fusing licensed properties with unique Marvel twists.

The most famous and longest-lasting example was Shang Chi, Master of Kung Fu. In 1973 Marvel licensed the use of Sax Rohmer’s Fu Manchu plus other characters from the Fu Manchu tales. Rather than just churn out a Fu Manchu comic book series “the House of Ideas” instead combined it with the Kung Fu craze of the time and created Shang Chi, the son of Fu Manchu.

Shang Chi, as a surrogate Bruce Lee, and Sir Denis Nayland-Smith, as a surrogate Braithwaite from Enter: The Dragon, were the core of the new series. Shang Chi started out as an operative of his evil father Fu Manchu, but realized the error of his ways and threw in with Sir Denis and his team to battle his father’s malevolent schemes.

FOR STORIES TEAMING IRON FIST AND SHANG-CHI CLICK HERE.

shang chi 1SPECIAL MARVEL EDITION #15 (December 1973)

Title: Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu

Villain: Fu Manchu

Synopsis: One night Shang-Chi, the son of the insidious Dr Fu Manchu, penetrates the Mayfair home of his father’s old enemy Dr Petrie and, though he hesitates when he sees how old the sleeping man is, kills him as ordered. A wheelchair-bound Sir Denis Nayland-Smith, Fu Manchu’s archenemy, arrives in the bedroom too late to save his longtime ally Dr Petrie but is holding a gun on Shang-Chi.

Shang effortlessly disarms Sir Denis and turns to leave, only to be amazed at the way Nayland-Smith is weeping over the dead doctor. He engages Denis in a conversation about why the Britisher has opposed his father for so many decades. Shang-Chi is disturbed by the passionate conviction with which Nayland-Smith describes his father’s global activities, activities that Fu has kept hidden from his son.

mascot sword and gun pic

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What really piques our hero’s curiosity is when Sir Denis shows him how Fu Manchu had him abducted recently in Burma and tortured until he could no longer walk, thus confining him to a wheelchair. Conflicted, Shang-Chi goes to Honan, China to visit his mother and question her about his father’s true nature. She informs him that what Nayland-Smith said is true, but she had hoped her son would not learn the truth until he was much older. (Shang was around 18-19 years old as this series started.)

Determined to confront his father about his lies, Shang-Chi fights his way through his father’s international headquarters, decorated in priceless Chinese artwork and other fineries. After overcoming all of the guards barring his way, our hero faces a gorilla that has been biologically mutated by Fu Manchu. Even this creature is overcome. Continue reading

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FIRST TWENTY SPIRIT OF SEVENTY-SIX STORIES FROM THE 1940s

With less than a month now until the 4th of July here’s a look at the first twenty stories of the Harvey Comics superhero called the Spirit of 76. For more than two dozen Harvey superheroes CLICK HERE 

Spirit of 76THE SPIRIT OF ’76

Secret Identity: Gary Blakely, West Point Cadet

First Appearance: Pocket Comics #1 (August 1941)

Origin: Gary Blakely, scion of an American family which had distinguished themselves on the battlefield in every conflict from the Revolutionary War onward, was a Cadet at West Point. By chance he uncovered a Fifth Column plot by Nazi agents to blow up the academy. He adopted the costumed identity of the Spirit of ’76, foiled the Axis plot and resolved to continue fighting evil afterward.

Powers: The Spirit of ’76 was in peak human condition, was exceptionally agile and was very skilled at both armed and unarmed combat. His costume was bulletproof and he wielded his saber expertly in battle. This hero lasted until 1948, so he faced Communist villains instead of Nazi villains after World War Two was over.

pocket 1POCKET COMICS #1 (August 1941)

Title: Cadet Blakeley, Spirit of 76

Villains: Nazi saboteurs led by Herr Hoch  

Synopsis: West Point Cadet Gary Blakely discovers a Nazi plot to blow up West Point. Donning a costume and armed with a sword, he calls himself the Spirit of 76 and takes down the spy ring. 

Comment: You have to admit, there’s something appealing about a superhero whose secret identity is that of a West Point Cadet.  Continue reading

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FIRST TWENTY BLACK CONDOR STORIES

Awhile back, Balladeer’s Blog examined a few dozen Golden Age superheroes from Quality Comics. Here’s a look at the first twenty stories of the number one entry on that list – the Black Condor.

black condor picBLACK CONDOR

Secret Identity: Senator Thomas Wright

First Appearance: Crack Comics #1 (May 1940)

Origin: Click HERE.

Powers: The Black Condor could fly at extraordinary speeds and was in peak physical condition. He was more agile than an acrobat and excelled at unarmed combat. In addition, he was a marksman with his handgun which fired powerful Black Energy rays.

black condor another picCRACK COMICS #1 (May 1940)

Title: The Man Who Can Fly Like A Bird

Villains: Gali Kan and his Mongolian bandits.

Synopsis: Using his power of flight to battle evildoers all over Asia, the Black Condor becomes world-famous, though some people doubt the veracity of the “sightings” of this flying man. At last, our hero gets the opportunity to avenge the death of his parents on Gali Kan and his men while simultaneously saving a city in India from their depradations. 

crack 2CRACK COMICS #2 (June 1940)

Title: The Man Who Can Fly

Villain: Rajah Ali Khan

Synopsis: The Black Condor saves Andrea Kent and her brother Denny from the evil plans of the Rajah Ali Khan, who seeks to seize their inheritance through a forced marriage to Andrea.

Our hero overcomes the Rajah and all his troops.

NOTE: In this story, which introduced the Black Energy ray-gun, the pistol’s rays simply paralyze large groups of the Rajah’s men and don’t destroy them. Continue reading

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MARVEL’S ONE-APPEARANCE HEROES FROM THE 1940s

A few weeks back Balladeer’s Blog took a look at over three dozen 1940s superheroes from Marvel Comics (called Timely Comics back then). This time around here’s a look at several of their one-appearance wonders from that same time period.

phantom bulletPHANTOM BULLET

Created By: Joe Simon

Secret Identity: Allan Lewis

Appeared In: Daring Mystery Comics #2 (February 1940)

Origin: Millionaire Allan Lewis often slummed as a reporter for The Bulletin when stories caught his eye. While investigating some unsolved murders committed by seven-fingered men he met a scientist who had developed a high-tech gun that he believed criminals wanted to steal from him. The scientist was killed but managed to pass along his invention to Allan Lewis, who donned a costume and took on villains as the Phantom Bullet.

Powers: The Phantom Bullet was in peak human condition and excelled at armed and unarmed combat. The experimental gun he wielded compressed moisture from the air into ice bullets which melted, evaporated and left no traces in the evildoers whom he shot to death. That was why the media dubbed him the Phantom Bullet.

Comment: The murders in the Phantom Bullet’s debut were masterminded by former explorer Alvarez Monez. As part of his extortion/ theft/ murder ring he commanded a Lost Race he had captured in Africa. That Lost Race had seven fingers and were part human, part ape, so naturally he called them … Bird-Men. (?)

Rather than wear a mask, this hero disguised his features with makeup when he went into action. That makeup included an exaggerated nose.

thin manTHE THIN MAN

Created By: Klaus Nordling

Secret Identity: Bruce Dickson

Appeared In: Mystic Comics #4 (August 1940)

Origin: Scientist Bruce Dickson was climbing Mount Kalpurthia in the Himalayas when he discovered a cave that led to the hidden, futuristic valley called Kalahia. Determining Dickson to be a noble and altruistic person, the valley’s Council of Elders instructed the man in their advanced science and taught him their mystic power of altering his physiology to make himself thinner and longer.       

Bruce and a Kalahian woman named Olalla fell in love and convinced the Council to permit them to go to the outside world where Dickson could use his new powers against the forces of evil.

Powers: The Thin Man could make his body thin enough to slip under a door or between cracks in a fence while still packing the strength of a heavyweight boxer. He could also stretch and bend his body into different shapes. He piloted a futuristic StratoPlane, which the Council of Elders permitted him to build with Kalahian technology. Among other features that plane sported video screens for observing anywhere on Earth. Continue reading

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