Saturday, December 31, 2016

Not Of This World!

When you think about it, having your typical superhero hail from the deep reaches of outer space is a pretty nifty way to explain extra-normal powers and whatnot. But I bet the potency of the Superman myths as well as the long reach of DC's legal department kept many an enterprising young creator from using that easy method to explain why their hero could leap into the sky and survive bullet barrages and such stuff as that. Nonetheless there have been a goodly number of heroes who do come to Earth from the depths of outer space (sometimes inner space in fact) and this gallery brings you some of them. Not just the Guardians of the Galaxy (the darlings of the moment) and the long-suffering Captain Marvel, but many many more. Even including a certain Son of Krypton himself. Enjoy!

(Not a real cover. But a great character nonetheless.)

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Friday, December 30, 2016

The Golden Derby - December 1966!

Fifty years ago this month Charlton put out some handsome books, at least for lovers of vintage comic book artwork. As had become almost usual we get both a Judomaster comic and another issue of Thunderbolt. In the former by Frank McLaughlin we are given the first half of a dynamic two-part adventure which introduces to the World War II setting a partner for Judomaster himself. Rip Jagger was an American who had swiftly taken on the practices of the martial arts as practiced in Japan, but it is only with the addition of Tiger that we get an actual Asian in an ongoing heroic role. Admittedly he had the Bucky job, a  thankless one but soon enough in the back pages of Captain Atom we will see an adult Tiger training another of the Charlton Action Heroes, the gorgeous Nightshade. But that's for later, now we have a rockem' sockem' adventure which also has the return of the Mountain Storm. Though not highlighted on the cover, there is also a dandy Dick Giordano Sarge Steel adventure. Speaking of back ups, the Thunderbolt by Pete Morisi (PAM) issue features the return of one of Charlton's few teams The Sentinels, a group of folk singers who become superheroes thanks to the technology of a mysterious scientist. This feature has some fantastic Sam Grainger artwork on a Denny O'Neil script. Also this month is another issue of Go-Go brimming with pop culture and parody. As usual the romance covers are handsome and sleek thanks to Dick Giordano who turns out a particularly nice one for this issue of Career Girl Romances. And Jack Keller continues to be the maven of race cars and hot rods in a vibrant issue of Teenage Hotrodders, featuring a cover which almost seems to personify the cars as the drivers disappear. Wouldn't take much to make this an image fit for Wheelie and the Chopper Bunch.

More next month as 1967 arrives.

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The Coming Of The Controller!

I've been amazed at the dexterity with which Donald Trump (soon to be my next President...sigh) has been able to herd and corral the bulk of the Fourth Estate. Admittedly his task has been made easier because of years and years of Right Wing berating of "The Media" and how they imagine it has cut against their issues time and again. Sometimes the complainers are even right, but of course because sometimes they are correct, it's then elevated into a generalization of being the case at all times. That's pure poppycock!

The media is motivated in this humdinger of a capitalist country by one thing, greed. Save for a few outlets, the media here is private and so dependent on the classic model of selling its wares to the greatest number of folks possible at all times. That means that the truth and even the facts can get battered and bruised quite a bit as the hawkers yell for customers.

It's how Trump was able to succeed in the first place. He spent so little money in the campaign for the simple reason he's a spectacle, a loudmouth bomb thrower who is capable of saying outrageous things at any moment. So when he gave a speech (show) the cable news outlets glommed all over him in hopes that he might spit out an incendiary jewel they could trade on for hours and hours if not days. He was "good copy" and so they went to the trough time and again and fore swore their responsibility to serve as a responsible vehicle for the democratic process.

Trump had to be killed in the crib, put down before he got the wind at his back. He was not, as is the all-too-common wisdom now that is was an inevitable result, but he was propped up by the desire for shock value until finally he was able to break through with a message which rose above rancor and racism, if only slightly.

I must admit it's laughable when reporters ask one another (notice how they talk each other more and more and to other folks less and less) what is the bigger picture when Trump makes some Twitter utterance. The mistake is in believing he has some larger scheme. He's a grifter who has for the time being gotten over on his marks (the entire country) and he's living day to day trying to keep the con alive. He's helped by the fact the marks themselves will assist in the delusion because they are reluctant to admit they've been had. Sadly that last part is key for the grifter to keep control of the fraud.

And now as President-Elect ( hurts to type such things) he continues to manage the press like a passel of hogs, popping out swill via twitter which gets them all agitated while he goes on about his nefarious business. Ask too many questions about conflicts of interest with the people's business and his increasingly oily family, and suddenly we're in a nuclear arms race.

It's going to be like this for a while and the sooner the press learn not to twitch every time he mutters a fire-breathing epithet maybe we can get through this with minimum damage. I'm not hopeful.

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