Posts Tagged ‘Charlton Comics’

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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

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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.

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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

The following post is a prequel of sorts and sequel all in one. In partnership with fellow Super-Blog Team Up member Silver Age Sensations, The Super-Hero Satellite proudly brings you the precursor to a huge blog event. Before you read this however..Visit Jeff over at Silver Age Sensations who has set the table for us at the Satellite to begin our next big event. So click here first and come right back!! Visit Silver Age Sensations Now! Transmission date: Jan 14 2013 Welcome back Heroes. You have all been summoned to the time stream analyzer in the middle core of the Satellites observation deck. Today we will pin point a moment in comics history that impacted the way we read comics. One man walking off a big job impacted the comics industry to this day. Strap in Heroes..we are going to a point where Super-heroes do not exist..where only Action-Heroe’s protect us..we are setting time stream coordinates to the 1960s to the Charlton Comics Universe..Let me begin by saying some of my favorite memories of comics collecting as a young child was discovering Charlton Comics. They were not commonly on newsstands in our bigger markets where I lived in Canada but I would always discover a handful of these titles from time to time in  convenience stores and old book stores. My favorites were E-man, Bionic Woman Hercules, Judo Master, Blue Beetle and Captain Atom. Charlton books were always low quality, but as a kid growing up I didn’t mind as much. The paper was cheap to the touch and the books never really smelled the best, but the content was always provoking and had me come back to these over and over again. Even the ads in the books were a little more sleazy than what was featured in the big two at the time. Heck I even coined my pen name “Charlton Hero after the company! I had no idea that some of that some the characters I was reading would one day become the basis for one of the biggest comics property of all time. More on that later.. When one of comics biggest artists walks off a flagship title from a major company to join a small publishing company it is a risk no matter who you are. Steve Ditko was that person. Co-creator of Marvels biggest icon Spider-Man with Stan Lee, Ditko is one of comicdom’s greatest talents. With his most famous 1962 debut of Spider-Man in the pages of Amazing fantasy #15 Ditko went on to craft 38 issues of the iconic Amazing Spider-Man title for Marvel comics. Ditkos reach also extended to characters like Doctor Strange where he connected with his free form abstract side of his work. Steve Ditko an opinionated, idealistic, work horse was known for his unique output. It would also be the story of this comic book legends career as Ditko refused to compromise his beliefs and in turn this would impact his own profitability and success in the long run. His long-standing values based on the Objectivist teachings of Ayn Rand many times put Ditko in opposition with creators in regards to story lines and character development. Such is believed for his reason for departing the Amazing Spider-man after a grand 38 issue run that many site as the best of the series.

The End of Steve Ditkos legendary run. An end of an era for Spider-man the beginning of a universe is upon us..

A storied feud with Marvel head honcho Stan Lee at the time over a rumored storyline concerning the identity of the Green Goblin and several editorial decisions would be the deal breaker for Ditko. Marvels loss would be another publishers gain as Ditko walked into Charlton Comics offices and went straight back to work. Having the hugely popular Ditko back helped prompt Charlton editor Dick Giordano (Who would later go on to more fame in DC!) to introduce the company’s “Action Hero” line of books which would years later long after cancellation have a major impact in ways that could not have been predicted.

Dont call them Super-Heroes..Charlton Action Heroes debut!

Charlton Publishing,  A small publisher known for their music magazines such as Hit Parader, by the late fifties was also a small force in the comics industry. At this time the industry had fallen on a financial depression period as it was many publishers were quickly exiting the low profit Comic book market as they could not compete with the big guns like DC Comics. Charlton however took the opposite approach. Instead of jumping away from the comics medium, they took advantage of the down period in the market and greatly expanded their line ups, which originally consisted mainly of Horror, Western, Crime and Romance titles. Buying many properties from faltering companies, Charlton introduced their Action hero line! The acquisition of Ditko would lead Charlton into their most storied well-known part of their history the Silver Age. Making the leap for Ditko was not as big a deal as many warned as Charlton offered low page rates for the work created but gave the artists creative freedom to experiment and publish pretty well what they wanted as long as the titles sold. Steve Ditko was known as a very fast artist who could turn out pages at a very high rate with a very high level of quality attached to them which endeared him to all publishers he worked for as he always met or exceeded deadlines and at many times brought even more work than expected! Ditko was back in his creative sandbox. Little did he know that his time at Charlton would be the Blue print for a big part of a rival comics publishers biggest successes. More on that later.

The Charlton Action Heroes Subscription Offer! This was actually a VERY good deal!

The Action Hero line was in hindsight a critical success, one however that Charlton would never reap the financial benefits . The debut of Ditko/ Joe Gills creation Captain Atom (in Space Adventures #33 (March 1960) was the spring-board for the line. Captain Atom aka Allen Adam was a technician who specialized in special experimental rocket development. He becomes trapped inside his own device and is accidentally atomized when the rocket enters the atmosphere. Allen Adam gains nuclear superpowers and is able to reform his body back on earth. He dons a red and yellow costume that shields humans from nuclear radiation his body emits as a result. One of the ongoing characteristics is his unique silver hair which results from his transformation into the Captain. many suggest the concept was a little more than inspired by the character Doctor Solar of Gold Key comics fame.

Rise of the Atom. Captain Atom of of Ditkos biggest contributions to the comics industry!

Ditko would revive a character purchased during Charlton’s “Acquisition period” another insect oriented character whose inspiration comes from the Green Hornet. Charltons most significant acquisition from that period was from Fox Features Syndicate, a character known as the Blue Beetle!. His alter ego, was rookie Police Officer, Dan Garret, who donned a special bulletproof costume and was chemically enhanced to fight crime with a dose of “Vitamin 2X” which he secretly was enabled by a local pharmacist to become the Blue Beetle! No joke! Charlton did away with this origin mercifully and now Garrett obtains a mystical Scarab from an archeological dig in Egypt which gave him actual non medically enhanced Super Powers such as energy blasts, super strength and flight.

The Original Blue Beetle would be FAR different than the Blue Beetle we were used to today!

Ditko however in 1966 did away with this concept and revamped the character to closely resemble many traits of Green Hornet. The Ted Kord Blue Beetle ran as a backup feature in Captain Atom #83-86 (November 1966 – June 1967) before getting his own title, which ran for a total of only 5 issues in June 1967 and November 1968. The revamped Beetle ,Ted Kord’s used all new amazing High Tech equipment like his bug-ship aircraft. His crime fighting arsenal included a pistol that made a blinding burst of light and, an explosive air blasts paired with a solid hand to hand combat technique!

Everybody Loves Ted Kord…Ditko Created The Definitive Version Of Blue Beetle!

The debut of Ditko’s Blue Beetle #1 (June 1967) also brought forth the debut of another iconic Charlton creation…Vic Sage..aka..The Question! The Question is a result of Ditkos objectivist views in the sense he was a hard-line crime fighter who dispensed justice in a very harsh way. Vic Sage himself was an outspoken journalist who pushed his investigation a little too far when tracking down a story on a criminal Dr. Twain. As the Question went on to expose the truth of the good Doctor he understood the need to elevate his crime fighting mystique by covering his face with “Pseudoderm”, an applied skin-like bandage which concealed his identity with the help of specialized bonding gas. The Question ruthlessly hunted down vilains in a very Ditkonian method and was a vehicle for Steve’s views on justice in society. Read all about The Question at one of our Super-Blog Team Up partners by clicking here Silver Age Sensations

Who is The Question..That is The Question!

Ditko also created a small subset of ancillary characters that would become important as well in time. Nightshade was another Ditko/Gill creation who debuted in the pages of Captain Atom V2 #82 (Sept. 1966) Originally created as a crime fighting Love interest for captain Atom. Has the ability to teleport herself and others by passing them through the Land of Nightshades. Another key power is her ability to manipulate shadows into solid state. She would go on to form with Atom and beetle to form the Sentinels Of Justice super team. Rounding out Charlton’s Action Hero Line were The PeaceMaker, Judo Master and Peter Cannon Thunderbolt. The Action Hero line was fondly remembered by comic book enthusiasts and by myself in particular.

Charlton Action Heroes..go!

We had something we did not have for quite a while, an alternative to the big two, DC and Marvel. The books were not the highest quality and the characters somewhat derivative ..however years after cancellation..something interesting happened. Writer Alan Moore approached DC about doing a story based on the final days of these Charlton Heroes. In the early 80s Charlton had relinquished the rights to many of their Super-hero characters to DC comics almost in the same way in which they acquired them. Moore who saw this as a blank canvas to craft a tale of the fall of this group of heroes approached the previously mentioned Dick Giordano who now years removed from Charlton has risen to managing editor of DC comics, with his proposal. Giordano upon review of Moore’s story proposal noted that his story would eventually leave the characters in the story rendered unusable in the aftermath…He convinced Moore to draft his story using characters based around the Charlton heroes and history was made. The result…a 1986 DC Comics Limited Series..WATCHMEN!

Yes The Watchmen were based directly on the Charlton Action Hero line of characters. Can you see who inspired who?

DC Comics buy out of Charlton would be a big deal for fans of the industry. Several independent publishers had kept several of Charlton’s Heroes in circulation with reprints and even some original Sentinals stories. The Charlton Action Heroes would finally debut in the DC Univ…………………… Warning: Transmission Terminated Unexpectedly To Be Continued: Satellite Fans..Tune in Feb. 19 2014 when The Super-Blog Team Up reunites for an explosive full-blown multi part Limited Series that covers the far reaches of the Comic Book Universe. As for the fate of The Charlton Action Heroes and their connection to The Watchmen, come back to The Satellite when Super-Blog Team Up Presents….RETCON. (Name Subject To Change) Support Our Team: Silver Age Sensations: Click Here! LongBox GraveYard  Visit The Graveyard! Chasing Amazing Join The Chase! Flodos Page Rings On Lanterns! Fantastiverse  Get Fantastic!