Thursday, August 5, 2010

Black Period Of The Action Heroes!

When Charlton began to collapse, they tried several things to take advantage of their characters. The reasons have varied from telling to telling, but supposedly the Action Heroes created under the editorial watch of Dick Giordano were purchased by DC for Dick to use and possibly integrate into the DCU, which with the advent of the original Crisis did happen more or less.

But before that, for one year or so Bill Black of AC Comics, an up and coming Indy publisher got hold of the rights and some material originally intended for the news stand version of Charlton Bullseye. He published as much of this as he could before getting a cease and desist order from DC, again the stories vary on this point.

But the result was a few Blue Beetle stories in Americomics and the one-shot book titled Americomics Special. It featured the Sentinels of Justice, a teaming for the very first time anywhere of Charlton stalwarts Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, Nightshade, and the Question.

Here's what Bill Black had to say about the deal in an interview a few years ago.

"It lasted more than one issue. It lasted one year. I knew Charlton Associate Editor, Bill Pearson. Previously, I co-published an ish of Witzend with him thru Paragon. He had started a title called Charlton Bullseye in which newcomers drew Charlton features or their own characters. It was CDC's Showcase. I had worked on a couple of them. The sales had dropped to the point of cancellation so Charlton axed Bullseye. Pearson had promised his artists that he'd get them published so he was shopping them around. I told him I was interested. He said, "Nah, they should be published in color." I said I was starting a color comic book company, AC Comics. He said okay. So I signed the contracts with Charlton legal department and I had the rights to the Charlton characters for one year, 1983. This worked out very well for me because I gained an art staff for AC Comics from this talent pool. AC published Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, Nightshade, The Question, and Atomic Mouse.

"There were many stories that were never published because the artists, not used to keeping any kind of deadlines, never finished the stories! So there was never a part two to the Beetle, Question, Atom, Nightshade team up. There was an unfinished, book length Captain Atom story by Dan Reed. Dan had restored the character to his original costume... the one with the mask. Dan is a very emotional artist. He was really distressed and pissed that Charlton had cancelled Bullseye. It was Dan, for the most part, that convinced Pearson and editor George Wilman, to create Bullseye in the first place. So in his Captain Atom story, it ended with the total destruction of the planet Earth! Yeah, he'd show 'em! Ax Bullseye, will, ya? I suggested that Charlton may not like the fact that mankind gets wiped out. Change the ending. But Dan never completed the book before the year's contract was up so it, and many other stories, never saw print."

Here's a look at how the cover of that memorable AC comics book developed. It's clear that what was published was an amended version of the original intent based on these images.

Rip Off


  1. was there ever another Question story drawn or scripted for Blue Beetle number 6 as the issue was advertised and the BB story was published only same length as previous BB stories so could have been a filler?

  2. Victor Sage a character in Strange Worlds #5 1958 drawn by Steve Ditko shows Steve remembers a good name!


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