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Welcome all to the 2nd volume of Super Blog Team Up. It is the Satellites privilege and honor to welcome several new blogs to our ever-growing roster! The Super Blog Team unite several times a year to bring the Blogosphere  the biggest unified exploration of any one particular topic related to our favorite genre…Comics! For those new to the Satellite..welcome and for those faithful readers who often frequent our orbiting time traveling hulk of technology strap in!  As we say here at the Satellite..Welcome aboard Heroes..today the Satellite takes us back to 1985…with a topic that sends shivers down the spins of comic continuity and universes and as well as us the fans..RETCONS! Be warned..what you think you know..maybe greatly altered in a moments notice. Without further adieu..

Transmission Restored: Feb 19 2014

*STOP Faithful Satellite Subscribers* Before reading this transmission it is imperative that you review this document to prepare yourself for the consequences of what we are about to encounter.

Click below first.

Charlton Action Heroes: A Count-Down To Retcon

If you have already absorbed this information then proceed this caution.

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Monitoring Systems online. Initiating System Restore. Restoring data bases. Possible damage sustained during Retcon.

Begin Transmission: Feb 19 2014

Welcome back Satellite Subscribers, forgive the temporary system interruption a Retcon will do that to a Satellite. Forget what you know, even things that look similar are not as they were. If you were a fan of comics in the Golden and Silver Age then you were in on the joke that was continuity. As decades came and went so did story telling sensibilities. A lot can happen in 50 years worth of storytelling. With my ever-growing stack of comic books the 1980s were as readers of The Satellite know , were my favorite era for just about everything. in the 1980s. DC was about to embark on a reboot as such. I loved all comics DC was primarily my favorite company and it was a big surprise to me when they injected their universe with heroes from The Charlton Publishing company.

charltondc

Near the back of my book shelf were my well-worn issues of Charlton Comics. In my home town it was rare to find any Charlton material but on that rare occasion when I would venture into the dusty depths of some out port Convenience stores Charlton treasures were uncovered and I snapped them up every time. In their tattered gritty, cheap newsprint format Charlton Comics were different from the norm published by the big two of DC and Marvel. Some of their books like their Horror titles were decidedly more adult in theme. They had licences like The Bionic man and Hanna Barbera that were unusual for a small publisher to gain these rights. The ads in the books were even more mature!  I loved reading the stories of Blue Beetle, E-Man, Captain Atom Hercules, and Judo Master! Suddenly the Charlton Heroes that  I had read sporadically for years were being reborn alongside my DC favorites like Batman, and Green Lantern! In 1985..DC and Charlton universes collided and the result..was the ultimate Retcon in comic book history!

Evolution Of A Company…

How did Batman not age over the course of 50 years? Why did Robin take 30 plus years to graduate from  school ? How did the lone survivor of Krypton, Superman, suddenly have a cousin Super Girl, as well as Krypto The Superdog, hell even DC even had Super Powered Horses and a Monkeys?

How did Flash meet The Original Flash Jay Garrick in the classic 1960s story “The Flash Of Two Worlds”? Why did Green Lanterns origin change several times without explanation over the years? How did heroes that existed in another Super Hero universe (and Publisher!) suddenly appear within the DC Universe? Even DC and their writing team had written themselves into a proverbial corner.

A Flash Of Two Worlds were a reason stories like these began to present a problem!

Thus was born the Multiverse. A series of parallel Earths that crossed over from time to time and explained away all the weirdness and continuity errors. If something didn’t make sense storyline wise it could now be explained away as having happened on a parallel world! With every backdoor though comes overkill. Earths 1 and 2 became Earths 3, and 4. We had Earth X, Earth S and so it goes. What started as a way to explain away continuity issues and to maintain the integrity of the Golden age, spiraled into a confusing mess even DC themselves could not get out of. After 50 years of publishing no one had ever taken the time to make sense out of 50 years of stories. There were stories of value in every era however how did it all make sense in the bigger picture? Easy answer..it simply didn’t. What was important..what was not? What was considered cannon and what were considered “What If” stories? There was no definitive answer. That is until writer Marv Wolfman of DC  took on the task of making sense of 50 years of DC Comics continuity.

With so many stories interwoven into the fabric of DCs continuity making the decision on what should stay and what should go was not an easy chore. In 1985 Marv Wolfman alongside penciller George Perez , Jerry Ordway and (editor /inker)Dick Giordano embarked on a 12 issue Maxi series known as Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis was intended to eliminate the concept of the “Multi-verse” and streamline DC continuity once and for all. It is best known for the demise two key characters in the DC Universe Barry Allen (Flash) and Super Girl. For our purposes it is not the deaths that is the thrust of our discussion it is rather the inclusion a group of heroes RETCONNED into DC continuity by way of Crisis. That group of characters..The Charlton Action Hero Universe! How did an entire universe simply get absorbed into DC? With great difficulty filled with twists and turns that one might not have expected.

Crisis Casualities..

DC stalwart Paul Levitz of Legion Of Super-Heros fame was on of those responsible for bringing the Charlton Universe as a “gift” of sorts to his colleague and  now Managing Editor Dick Giordano. Giordano a former member of The Charlton Action Hero creative team who carries a special place in his heart for the characters in the Charlton Universe. The Universe consisted of several Ditkionian era heroes such as Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) , Captain Atom, The Question, and Night Shade. It was easy to see why the company would have interest in acquiring theses properties. Others like Peace Maker, Sarge Steel, The Judo Master and Peter Cannon Thunderbolt would be added later as well.

Charlton Heroes Come to DC sharing the cover with DC icon Superman!

It was decided that the introduction of Charlton’s Action Heroes into the DC Universe of the 1980s would occur through The Crisis event. All Earths of The Multiverse would be merged into one Earth..including the Charton Universe. In short all alternate Earths such as Earths 1,2,4, Earth X, Earth S, just to name a few are suddenly slowly merging cosmically and in doing so, some worlds such as Earth 3 are systematically destroyed as a result of the event. The Charlton Universe for our readers purposes was known as Earth 4. Before I confuse our reading audience with the already impossible to understand Crisis / Earths debacle I present to you a Crisis for Dummies if you will.

EARTH X :

Earth X is a world created to explain the existence of War Time characters as it is set in a world where World war 2 did not end. Characters included the likes of The Freedom Fighters, The Black Hawks, and even Plastic Man!

EARTH S:

Earth S was a world created to include the purchased characters from several defunct companies most notably Fawcett publications. Most notable of the character set were Captain Marvel (Shazam) and the Marvel Family, as well as the Squadron Of Justice!

EARTH ONE: DC PROPER.

Earth One was simply OUR Earth. It included Silver and Bronze age versions of the DC Universe that existed up to Pre- Crisis events.

EARTH TWO:

Earth-Two was the reality designation assigned to the planet Earth, and the Universe it includes, that existed prior to the Crisis. Earth-Two itself was inhabited by various characters who resembled those of its primary Earth One. This Earth served the purposes of maintaining the existence of DC`s Golden Age characters namely The Justice Society !

EARTH THREE:

Earth-Three was introduced in a 1964 issue of Justice League of America. Earth-Three’s history is seen as a mirror image to that of the Earth One. Earth-Three was home most famously to an analogue Villains to the Justice League, the Crime Syndicate of America. Earth Three is the one world not merged in the Crisis series as it is destroyed very early in the event!

EARTH FOUR:

Earth Four was essentially the Charlton Action Hero Universe!

Crisis tells the story of two God like beings, the  Monitor and the evil Anti-Monitor, both created by the Multiverse experiment. The Monitor was teased in many DC comic book series for two years prior to the launch of Crisis.  The Monitor was teased to be a villain but  he is revealed to be working on a seemingly futile  plan to stop the inevitable destruction of the Multiverse  hands of the Anti-Monitor. The Crisis event throws the DC Super in a desperate war  to stop the Anti-Monitor’s plan rule the entire Multiverse.

Crisis On Infinite Earths: The Ultimate Retcon!

The Monitor is murdered by Harbinger, his own assistant, while under the possession of the Anti Monitor . All 5 Earths (1, 2 4, S, and X) are merged into one LIMBO universe, however Harbinger, coming out from under the spell of the Anti Monitor unifies the heroes of all worlds (Including the Charlton Action Heroes) to bring down the Anti Monitor.

Harbinger recruits The Blue Beetle from the Charlton Action Hero Universe (Earth 4)

However, it would be the Spectre`s  battle with the Anti-Monitor,that creates an energy overload that shatters space and time.The result …the ULTIMATE RETCON.. A single universe is created and all the superheroes return to a present-day reality where the various elements of the five Earths were fused into one single Earth, with no one except the people present at the dawn of time remembering the original reality.

The DC Universe Post Crisis looked a lot different than it did prior to the event and included many new faces into its (At that point 50 year History)

DC had much bigger plans for the Charlton universe. Not only would they have a role in the events of Crisis but DC took a gamble that these Heroes could draw an audience by themselves in solo titles! Personally this was an exciting time as a fan as new title popped up everywhere with DC throwing new concepts at the wall attempting to feed off of the buzz of Crisis.

DC had big plans for The Charlton Action Hero cast..starting with the Beetle himself!

Blue Beetle flew out of his flying Beetle on the cover of his official DC solo series in 1986! I remember pulling this and Captain Atom #1 off the spinner rack with my 20 dollar a week allowance and drooling over these new heroes!

Captain Atom was one of the most successful acquisitions and went on to not only star in his own solo series but as with Beetle joined the DC franchise the Justice League!

To this day Blue Beetle #1 serves as the way you showcase a hero on his debut issue! Beetle not only brought along some of his rogues gallery like The Madmen. His title also served as a launching pad for the return of Charltons The Question who returned in issue 5 of the series.

The Question returned in grand fashion in the pages of The Blue Beetle #5 in 1986.

Nightshade another Charlton alum returns in the pages of Captain Atom #14. The gang was slowly creeping into the DC Universe!

The Question would also get his own solo series in a direct format and a much more adult style. Possibly influenced by Watchmen alternate! (See Below!)

Of course each series would have varying degrees of success, DC also embedded these characters permanently into the DC universe. Beetle joined The Justice League, Atom lead the Justice League Europe, Nightshade was a member of the Suicide squad! Everywhere you looked DC took full advantage of these properties and did not let them go to waste. As a fan Justice League was my all time favorite team book and heroes like Beetle and Atom were easy favorites!

The Bwah Ha Ha Era of The League was my personal favorite Team Book of all time!

Blue Beetle came into his own and gained full acceptance as DCs fun-loving tag team partner of Booster Gold and perennial team member of the Justice League. Captain Atom went on to greater heights and actually captained a branch of the Justice League dubbed The JLE, Or Justice League Europe. Both titles were big sellers for DC and prominently featured the Charlton flagship characters.

The Captain takes the reigns on his own Justice League..The JLE!

 The Charlton Action Heroes arrived in the DC Universe mostly intact with a few differences in origin and slight appearance modifications. Beetle retained his classic look while Captain Atom was dramatically streamlined into a chrome skinned embodiment of nuclear power, a much-needed upgrade from his dated Charlton look.  His origin however was modified to fit the times. Nightshade arrived in her original guise but would be altered for the 80s in her Suicide Squad attire. The Question survived both in look and origin. Later additions to the Charlton gang would be Peace Maker, Judo Master, Peter Cannon Thunderbolt and Sarge Steel all of whom were given ill-fated solo runs and didn’t catch an audience like the Ditko characters. All in all the Charlton Action Heroes were now officially DC Super-Heroes and now firmly entrenched in DC hallowed halls. I was a fan and these were great times as a reader! DC had been relaunched and had been injected with a dose of new characters to move forward with!

However the introduction of The Charlton Heroes into DC almost took a much different path….

Satellite Extra:

Can you believe that at one point and time The Archie MLJ Universe were being considered to be the main characters for TheWatchmen?

Prior to the decision to Retcon the Charlton heroes into the DC universe via Crisis, fate could have taken a much stranger turn. After the Charlton acquisition by DC comics Managing Editor and former Charlton creator Dick Giordano was approached with an informal proposal by writer Alan Moore. Originally the proposal involved the use of Archie Comics MLJ group of Heroes. Moore want to use the death Mighty Crusader, The Shield as the thrust for the story that would eventually become the most famous graphic novel of all… Watchmen. After this idea fizzled it was Moore’s proposal that the newly acquired Charlton Action heroes be used as the central characters in the storyline. The original concept was a story called “Who killed the Peacemaker?” The story would be a deconstructionist piece that set the Charlton Heroes in a desperate race against the clock to investigate a murder and to stop a nuclear apocalypse. Giordano who had an investment in the characters from his time at Charlton Publishing deterred Moore from using the characters and instead swayed him to use archetypes based around the Charlton Heroes for the story instead. Moore convinced that as long as the characters felt familiar he would be able to project the same sense of investment a reader would have in the actual characters…and boy was he right. Thus was born Nite Owl, Doctor Manhattan, Silk Specter, Rorshach, The Comedian and Ozymandias…THE WATCHMEN.

These characters would never have existed without the Charlton Action Heroes who were the influence for each of The Watchmen.

Had Moore had his way our Heroes would never have existed in the same fashion that they had been introduced into the DC Continuity in the 80s! As cool as it may be to have my Charlton heroes as Watchmen I much preferred the manner in which I came to enjoy each of these heroes in the DCU!!

For those who are wondering its more than clear who inspired each hero in the Watchmen universe. For those who could use a little more clarity here’s your Watchmen/Charlton cheat sheet!

What Charlton Hero inspired YOUR favorite Watchmen Character?

Well that’s it Heroes!! After all this Retcon talk, I am retiring to the Satellites hibernation chamber for a long nap as we set course to return back to present day! One more extra before we go..I mentioned prior to our conclusion here that The Charlton Heroes introduction required a light modification to their Charlton origins..so I have included complete DC Who’s Who Bios of the core Characters so we have a complete go to source for your Charlton/DC Retcon needs!! Enjoy!

BB II Whos Who 87 V.I

End Transmission…

If You have enjoyed this blog contact me on Twitter @Charlton_Hero and join the conversation using #SuperHeroSatellite Thanks for reading!

Okay its time to check out the continuation of this cant miss series! Retcon Continues NOW: Super Blog Team activate!

1.Silver Age Sensations: The Red, White, and Blue Silver Age Avenger!

2. Flodo’s Page: Green Lantern: Secret Origins – Revision or Retcon?

3. LongBox Graveyard: Retcon: Roy Thomas And Earth-2

           4. *NEW* Between The Pages: Good Cowboys Always Shoot First

                    5. *NEW* Bronze Age Babies: “Was The Vision Really Carrying a Torch”

*NEW*6. Superior Spider-Talk: Peter Parker – Child of Radioactivity or Mysticism?

7. Super-Hero Satellite: Hey you are here already!! RETCON: Crisis On Continuity Earths

#8 Fantastiverse: Age of the Retcon: Bucky 4.0 – The Winter Soldier

#9*NEW*Superior Spider Talk: #9 Chasing Amazing: Brand New Day and the Retcon of Harry Osborn Coming Soon

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Comments
  1. Edo Bosnar says:

    While I enjoyed reading your post, there’s one thing I really can’t agree with, and that’s the idea that Capt. Atom’s new streamlined, chrome skin appearance was “a much-needed upgrade from his dated Charlton look.” Personally, I prefer both the blue, red and silver and the orange and yellow outfits from the Charlton days – Ditko’s excellent costume designs rarely, if ever, need to be modified.

    • charltonhero says:

      I LOVE Ditkos designs however the weird pants and underwear combine was a little 60s.

    • charltonhero says:

      Got cut off.. restart. The dated bottom of Ditkos Captain design would not have translated to the mid 80s.

      The redesign I really hated was DCs Nightshade from Suicide Squad looked like a Aerobics instructor with a bad leotard! Cant win em all I guess. I will admit I did like the old Cap look but in the 80s The Silver Captain Atom was Boss!

  2. […] New Day and the Retcon of Harry Osborn Fantastiverse: Hank Pym AKA Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Yellowjacket The Superhero Satellite: RETCON: Crisis on Continuity Earths Bronze Age Babies: Was the Vision Really Carrying a Torch? Between the Pages: Good Cowboys Always […]

  3. Nice overview of Crisis with a focus on the Charleston comics.
    Yes, to me Blue Beetle will always be one half of a comedic team-up with Booster Gold, though I was psyched for his more recent Chicano Luchador-style masked incarnation, but was disappointed with the results.

    • charltonhero says:

      Thanks for reading SuperHero Satellite! I agree with the Jamie Reyes version of the Blue Beetle. He came at a bad time with people enraged over the passing of Ted Kord. Reyes never had a chance as well as conflicts with the creative teams in the NEWDC52.

      The Ditko Beetle will always be my personal favorite version of the character!

      Thanks for reading Hero!

      • Edo Bosnar says:

        Don’t know anything about the Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle in the comics (and yes, I thought it was a bit depressing that Ted Kord was killed off), but I really like the way he’s portrayed in a few episodes of Batman: Brave & the Bold – but then again, I pretty much like everything about that cartoon.

  4. Brilliant! I didn’t know about the Archies heroes connection to Watchmen … love your extensive use of the original art, too. You may have inspired me to crack out my copies of Crisis for the first time in thirty years!

    And I don’t have a dog in the fight, but I’m going to come down on the side of Ditko’s original Captain Atom design as well … which, now that I look at it, makes me wonder if it was an influence on Gil Kane’s Captain Marvel redesign over at Marvel Comics. Hmm …

    • charltonhero says:

      A lot of the Charlton Creations were a little more than “Inspired” by other SuperHero types of the day!

      Something tells me Nuclear Man from SuperMan 4 was inspired by Ditkos Captain Atom!

      Am I alone in my love for the Silver skinned Captain Atom from the 80s DC crew? Readers whadda ya think?

  5. flodospan says:

    Mayday, mayday… Continuity crisis of epic proportions… If only the Charlton heroes were here to save the day!! … And then they were. Awesome.
    I learnt a lot of new geek trivia from this post. Great work Hero.

    • charltonhero says:

      Thanks Flodo! It was a learning experience for me as well when I got into the meat and potatoes of the thing. Super-Blog Team Up ties you to the learning tree and is not only fun but informative!
      Who knew Archie’s MLJ SuperHero line were almost the basis for Watchmen! Yikes!

  6. Dave B says:

    Great article. I hadn’t realized that Crisis introduced the Charleston characters to the DC universe. By the way, I bought a bunch of DC Blue Beatles from the dollar bin of my LCS last week so now you’ve got me anxious to read them!

    • charltonhero says:

      Thanks for the comments Dave! The old Charlton Books have a unique flavor and are solid Silver Age fare! Let me know what you think after you get through your stack! Enjoy! Come on back soon and visit us at the Satellite!

      • Dave B says:

        Will do. I’ve just discovered your blog thanks to Bronze Age Babies, so I’ll have to nose around here a bit.

      • charltonhero says:

        Hey thanks for coming over! Bronze Age Babies just joined our team and is giving us here at the Satellite tons of new eyes on the blog so welcome aboard!

  7. Pork Pie Hat says:

    On a different note, I loved the Sarge Steel comic as a kid as much as Sgt. Rock but not as much as Sgt. Fury, more than Turok, Son of Stone (honkers) though not as much as Magnus, Robot Fighter (squeeeeee). When Bond became huge in cinema Sarge graduated from private eye to secret agent on the four-color sheet. For me, snapbrims and shoulder holsters were the bomb, until I got a driver’s license anyway. It was a simpler time then.

  8. Brad Smithee says:

    Nice article, and I too had no idea about the MLJ heroes being considered as characters for Watchmen. One point though that you bolded under the Question #1 cover (man I loved that series, best thing to come out of the Charlton acquisition by DC)…you say there that O’Neil and Cowan’s Question series may have been influenced by Rorschach’s portrayal in Watchmen? But O’Neil had been planning the Q series since 1984 and reads like his obsession with Zen and martial arts that had started as early as his 70s Richard Dragon series. Watchmen came out in 1986. There’s no way that whatever Moore had planned for Rorschach would have influenced O’Neil’s start of the Question (except for the comment O’Neil made on Watchmen in a later issue – something like #19 if memory serves).
    But maybe I missed something in your article!

  9. charltonhero says:

    What was meant by the comment was the adult theme of the direct market Question series was influenced by his Watchmen counterpart.

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