Tag Archives: superheroes

THE SPIRIT AND SOME OF HIS GREATEST FOES

Spirit baseSuperheroes rule pop culture right now and as usual Balladeer’s Blog readers have been letting me know it’s been awhile since I ran a blog post on the subject. Will Eisner’s iconic superhero the Spirit – who debuted in June of 1940 – rose from the grave of his secret identity, Private Investigator Denny Colt, after his apparent death when he got saturated in some chemicals of the supervillain Doctor Cobra.

Fan arguments still rage over whether or not the Spirit had any superpowers beyond his initial chemically-induced state of suspended animation which let him survive and rise from his grave days later. I’m of the school of thought that says the Spirit DID have superpowers, largely because I grow bored with alleged “super” heroes who are just regular shlubs who slap on a costume and fight crime. To me that’s more of a Pulp hero.

mascot sword and gun pic

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I don’t think it’s outrageous to attribute paranormal abilities to the Spirit. Just going by Will Eisner’s original stories let’s approach it this way:

GREATER THAN HUMAN STRENGTH – Taking this hero’s origin story at face value with no ret-conning necessary, when Denny Colt came to in his coffin he dug his way to the surface. It would require much more than the strength of a normal human to burst through the coffin lid AND force his way upward through six feet of soil. For all I know The Big Bang Theory guys may have once done a calculation on how much actual strength it would take to accomplish this feat.

EXTRAORDINARY RESILIENCY/ HEALING ABILITY – Early Spirit stories often show his body taking the kind of punishment that no non-powered human being could survive. The villains occasionally point out how impossible it is that the hero just keeps coming after all the damage they inflict on him. And again, taking his 1940 origin at face value his body would have had to have “healed” from the invasive procedures of embalming or similar treatments, before he woke up in his coffin.

Many fans feel that Frank Miller’s 2008 movie The Spirit took that too far by making his durability front and center and more like Wolverine’s notorious Healing Factor. Personally, I’m okay with it.

ROGUES GALLERY  Continue reading

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BEST OF 2020: SEPTEMBER

Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year retrospective resumes with this look at September’s best:

DuneAMERICA: PART OF THE DUNE FRANCHISE – America’s equivalents of the Harkonnens and other Houses. Click HERE.

TWENTY MORE SENSATIONAL FAILED PREDICTIONS – The latest list of predictions which failed big-time. Click HERE.

DEMOCRAT SLOGANS – A humorous look at the attitudes and policies of Democrats. Click HERE.

THE FIRST TWENTY HULK STORIES FROM THE 1960s – The Hulk takes on the Leader, the Gargoyle, the Circus of Crime and more. Click HERE.

FOOL KILLER: JULY 1911 – The Fool Killer whacks bloated rich pigs like J.P. Morgan, William A Clark, astrologers and others. Click HERE.

DEMOCRATS AND CORPORATE FASCISM – A look at the Democrats and their embrace of corporate fascism. Click HERE.

Blue Bolt coverSUPERHERO PANTHEON OF NOVELTY PRESS – Forgotten 1940s superheroes like the White Streak, Twister, Sub-Zero Man and the Green Sorceress. Click HERE.

CIVIL RIGHTS ICON CLARENCE HENDERSON SAYS TRUMP DID MORE FOR PEOPLE OF COLOR IN FOUR YEARS THAN BIDEN DID IN NEARLY FIFTY. The title says it all. Click HERE.

VENUS IN FURS: AN OPERA VERSION OF THE 1870 NOVEL – Another look at an opera adaptation of an unexpected work. Click HERE. Continue reading

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BEST OF 2020: AUGUST

Balladeer’s Blog’s year-end retrospective continues with this look at August’s best:

Latitude Zero posterLATITUDE ZERO (1969) – Long unavailable, this Japanese and American sci-fi monster tale features an underwater civilization and stars Joseph Cotten and Cesar Romero as good and evil scientists, respectively. Click HERE.

JASMYNE CONTOURS, A MARTIN LUTHER KING PERSON OF COURAGE, TAKES ON DEMOCRAT HYPOCRISY – Click HERE.

DJANGO: AN OPERA VERSION OF THE ORIGINAL 1966 MOVIE – Another look at adapting an unexpected work in opera form. Click HERE.

SHARYL ATTKISSON EXPOSES THE BIASES OF SELF-PROCLAIMED “FACT CHECKERS” – It’s no secret that “fact checkers” are really anything but. Click HERE.

Mandarin appearsTHE FIRST TWENTY IRON MAN STORIES FROM THE 1960s – Cold War and Vietnam War-era stories featuring the armored superhero. Click HERE.

LAS VEGAS, NM AND THE DODGE CITY GANG – The tawdry TRUE tale of a wild western town and the violent outlaws who tried to run the town and its vicinity. Click HERE.

DEMOCRATS STEP UP THEIR WAR ON THE REST OF US – Violence, riots, vote fraud and more as Democrats become the combined Nazis and Mafia of our time. Click HERE.

THE KINDRED (1987) – A review of the oddball 1987 horror film from Stephen Carpenter and Jeffrey Obrow. Click HERE Continue reading

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BEST OF 2020: JULY

Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year retrospective continues with July’s best:

Not Dangerous Dan TuckerDANGEROUS DAN: NEGLECTED GUNSLINGER – Another look at a forgotten gunslinger whose life was at least as exciting as any of the big names from the old west. Click HERE.

DEFY DEMOCRAT TYRANTS THIS FOURTH OF JULY – A look at the Democrats’ many offenses against the rest of us, while they consider themselves fit to dictate the conditions under which we live. Click HERE.

SUPERHERO PANTHEON OF HARVEY COMICS – Decades ago Harvey focused on superheroes like the Human Meteor, Black Cat, Spirit of 76 and Doctor Miracle plus so many others. Click HERE.

RipleyAMERICA: PART OF THE ALIEN FRANCHISE – With Democrats as the Xenomorphs, Republicans as Weyland-Yutani Corporation and the rest of us as the humans trying to survive. Click HERE.

JOHN BULL – The neglected British gunslinger whose real name is still unknown. Click HERE.

SUPERHERO PANTHEON OF FOUR STAR PUBLICATIONS – Forgotten 1940s and 1950s superheroes like the Grenade, Torpedoman, Yankee Girl and Red Rocket. Click HERE.  

Maverick movieMAVERICK (1994): MOVIE REVIEW – A detailed look at the movie and the James Garner television series which preceded it. Click HERE.

MARTIN LUTHER KING PERSON OF COURAGE LEO TERRELL ENDORSES TRUMP – Trump doubled his share of the African-American vote from 2016, getting the largest share of that vote of any nominal Republican in several decades. Click HERE.

MORE COOL BUT NEGLECTED FOOTBALL HELMETS – From teams like the Railsplitters, the Electrons and more! Click HERE. Continue reading

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SUPERHEROES FROM PELICAN PUBLISHING

Green GiantSuperheroes dominate pop culture these days and Balladeer’s Blog’s readers always let me know about it when they feel I’ve gone too long without an article about them.

In honor of the shortest day of the year today here is a look at the shortest run of superheroes ever. Remember how Atlas/ Seaboard was publishing for less than a full year? Well Pelican Publishing’s superheroes came and went in ONE MONTH.

Green Giant coverTHE GREEN GIANT

Secret Identity: Mr Brentwood, a stock broker. No first name was given.

First and Last Appearance: Green Giant Comics #1 (1940 – the month is not known)

Origin: Unknown.

Powers: The Green Giant wore a high-tech “gravity-defying” device in his belt, a device which enabled him to grow to hundreds of feet in size and to fly. He was also bullet-proof and possessed massive super-strength.

Green Giant first page

“WHEN I THINK ABOUT FIGHTING CRIME I TOUCH MYSELF.”

Comment: In his only adventure, Mr Brentwood was advised by his firm’s partner named John Preston (how did HE rate a first name) that criminals were dealing in counterfeit stocks.

Our hero donned his costume and corralled all the members of the crime ring, even swimming after a departing ship to capture the ringleader Sam “Smiley” Gleason. (Okay, Gleason was just rubbing it in to our poor hero by having a first name, last name AND a nickname.) Continue reading

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BEST OF 2020: JUNE

Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year retrospective continues with this look at June’s best:

Five Hundred CaratsINSPECTOR LIPINZKI: RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1973) – The best episode of Season Two involved this detective investigating the spectacular theft of a huge diamond. Click HERE.

DEMOCRATS HAVE A PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE … WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT – It often seems like in America you’re only as free as the most intolerant Democrat allows you to be. Click HERE

THE ARTIFICIAL MAN (1884): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION – The tale of an artificially designed human being. Click HERE.

Captain America OneTHE FIRST TWENTY CAPTAIN AMERICA STORIES OF THE 1940s – The Golden Age adventures of the red white and blue superhero. Click HERE.

JOURNALISTS AGREE THAT DEMOCRAT BIAS HAS KILLED THEIR PROFESSION’S CREDIBILITY – The title says it all. Click HERE.

PRIZE COMICS SUPERHERO PANTHEON – Another 1940s group of superheroes who are all but forgotten. Click HERE.

riots cartoonVICTIMS OF THE DEMOCRAT RIOTERS SPEAK OUT – The victims of color who suffered through the Democrat riots this year were ignored by the Democrats’ media outlets. Click HERE.

FOOL KILLER: MAY 1911 – James Larkin Pearson’s version of the Fool Killer continues his career. Click HERE.

DEMOCRAT VOTE FRAUD SCANDALS IN NEW JERSEY AND WISCONSIN – Yes, even in June more and more Democrat vote fraud scandals were making the news. Click HERE.

DEFECTIVE DETECTIVES (1971) – A BBC show with Max Carrados the blind detective and others. Click HERE. Continue reading

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BEST OF 2020: MARCH

Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year retrospective continues with this look at March’s best:

mandy posterMANDY (2018): NICOLAS CAGE IN THE ROLE HE WAS BORN TO PLAY – Cage always brings the crazy and this wild, hyper-stylized and ultra-violent horror film showcases him at his psychotic best. Click HERE.

A STORY OF THE YEAR 2236 (1900): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION – Neglected Space Opera about humanity’s rise to an interstellar empire followed by a cataclysmic war with an alien race. Click HERE.

DEMOCRATS BLOCK CORONAVIRUS AID PACKAGE – More callous playing with lives by the combined Nazis and Mafia of our time. Click HERE.

TWENTY DJANGO MOVIES – The 20 best Django movies from before Quentin Tarantino’s reboot. Click HERE.

SHAKEM AKHET: DEMOCRATS DO NOTHING FOR BLACK VOTERS – A Martin Luther King Person of Courage praises de facto Third Party President Trump and his accomplishments for communities of color. Click HERE.

Robert Ludlum expanded universeROBERT LUDLUM EXPANDED UNIVERSE – Television series like Beowulf Agate, Operation: Medusa and one set in the dystopian future from the end of The Holcroft Covenant. Click HERE.  

THE STRANGER (1991-1995) – Colin Baker’s science fiction series in which he was the Doc – I mean the Stranger … yeah, that’s it … the Stranger. Click HERE.

FINAL FOUR AND ELITE EIGHT BASKETBALL – At least a few college divisions got to play their national tournaments this year. Click HERE.

TWENTY BOOKS ABOUT THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY’S SCANDALS AND FAILURES – Only imbeciles would believe that ANY presidential administration was “scandal free” (LMAO). Click HERE.

James Garner 2TWENTY JAMES GARNER MOVIES: Some of the underrated actor’s best work: movies 1-10 and movies 11-20.

ALL THAT GLITTERS (1977) – A long-forgotten soap opera set on a parallel Earth where women were in charge and men were the sex objects. Click HERE.

A ROUND TRIP TO THE YEAR 2000 (1903): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION – Long before Doc Brown and Marty McFly came this science fiction tale of time travel via a souped-up automobile. Click HERE. Continue reading

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BEST OF 2020: FEBRUARY

Balladeer’s Blog’s end of year retrospective continues with this look at February’s best:

Up in the air ...UP IN THE AIR AND DOWN IN THE SEA (1863): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION – Scientific experimenter Victor Volans devises a passenger balloon which lets him explore two Lost Worlds on islands in the Pacific Ocean. Next he devises underwater exploration techniques which let him recover sunken treasures off Australia and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) while fighting off deep sea monsters. Click HERE.

DEMOCTRAT PRIMARY SEASON PREVIEWED THE RIGGED 2020 ELECTION – With hindsight, the many, many irregularities and “technical glitches” in the Democrats’ primaries and caucuses – which conveniently robbed Bernie Sanders again – proved to be a dry run for the vote fraud in the actual November election. Democrats apparently used the chaos of those primaries to work out the bugs in their “Computer-programmable election results” method. Click HERE.

TWENTY BEST SILVER JOHN PULP STORIES – Manly Wade Wellman’s hero Silver John’s 20 best adventures against supernatural menaces in the Appalachians. Click HERE.

JACK BREWER CALLS TRUMP “THE FIRST BLACK PRESIDENT” – All that and more about Trump’s accomplishments for communities of color. Click HERE.

CasablancaCASABLANCA: A Valentine’s Day review of the classic movie from Balladeer’s Blog. Click HERE.

ROLLING STONE’S MATT TAIBBI ON THE DEMOCRAT RIGGING OF THEIR PRIMARY PROCESS – His article argued that “Democrats are doomed elites and dumb crooks.” Click HERE.

TWENTY MORE COOL-NAMED NJCAA COLLEGE TEAMS – Click HERE.

DEMOCRAT ANDREW YANG ON HOW DEMOCRATS HAVE BETRAYED THE WORKING CLASS – The title says it all. Click HERE

THE FINALE TO DON MCGREGOR’S KILLRAVEN SAGA – For the full review of Let It Die Like It’s The Fourth Of July, the final chapter, click HERE. Continue reading

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BEST OF 2020: JANUARY

As always, December is the ideal time for retrospectives of the past 12 months:

2020 texas gladiators poster2020 TEXAS GLADIATORS – January 1st of this year saw the publication of the movie review I’d been planning since I started Balladeer’s Blog back in 2010! My favorite bad/ weird post-apocalypse movie reviewed on New Year’s Day of the year in which it was set. How close to reality were its predictions for the future? Nowhere NEAR close but that’s part of the fun of course.

This Italian ripoff of Mad Max delivers futuristic Texas Rangers, mutants, evil villains, deadly mercenaries and Italian extras as fake Native Americans who live in absurd post-nuke teepees. It’s ideal if you love legendarily bad movies. HERE.

TWENTY GREAT ITEMS FOR THE POOR AND WORKING CLASS – A score of terrific news items for the poor and the working class to kick off 2020. HERE.

Sabre 1978KILLRAVEN, SABRE AND THE SLOW FADE OF AN ENDANGERED SPECIES – My review of the post-apocalyptic adventures of Killraven and Sabre in the year 2020 as told from the 1970s.

I also examined the way writer Don McGregor incorporated unused elements of his canceled Killraven series into his independent Sabre graphic novel. Killraven fought for freedom from Earth’s alien conquerors. Sabre fought for freedom from a human dictatorship which arose in the aftermath of disasters involving poverty, disease, terrorist attacks and nuclear catastrophes. Read it HERE.  

TWENTY MORE FAILED PREDICTIONS FROM PSYCHICS – Remember when the Battle of Armageddon was fought in the year 2000? Or the way a woman was elected U.S. President in 1990? Or the way we eliminated air pollution? You don’t? Well that’s because none of those things happened. To laugh at similar predictions click HERE.

log of the flying fishTHE LOG OF THE FLYING FISH (1887): ANCIENT SCIENCE FICTION – My review of the 1887 novel about The Flying Fish, a craft capable of flying and serving as a submarine.

The vessel’s inventor and crew have adventures around the world including discovering a prehistoric oasis at the North Pole, hunting unicorns and a variety of other escapades. Click HERE 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. Each had agreed, “arms limitation”-style, 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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