Posts Tagged ‘Comics’

 

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Transmission Date: 8/ 16/ 2014:

Welcome back Heroes. If you have ever wondered whats in Charlton Heroes  Comic Book Collection then lets dip in the old longbox storage unit deep in the storage area of the Satellite There are those comics that you read as a child that leave that mark on you that you always fondly remember when you grow up. Such was the case with a small arc in the pages of Batman and Detective in 1982. I called the run “Blood Sport” others may call it Batman vs. The Vampiri..but what ever you want to call it I LOVED this small story arc. Hence our little get together today. Batman issues #349-352 as well as a cross over in Detective Comics #517-518 contain the full Blood Sport arc. As a kid horror movies were a big deal. Friday The 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, and of course greats like Fright Night were what we were raised on in the advent of the VCR! Many a weekend did myself and my friends cower under sheets and behind pillows trying to survive yet another viewing of great R rated horror movies that none of our parents thought would be an issue as The Vampire craze didnt only extend to 2000s Twilight era, the 80s loved Vampires too! Thus DC’s Vampire savant the great artist Gene Colan known for his work on dark Vampire titles like Tomb Of Dracula for Marvel, fit the tone of this run.

Batman 349 cover

What is significant about the Blood Sport Storyline is that it marked the modern-day return (at least the 80s return) Of a very old Batman Villain, The Monk. The Monk first appeared in 1939 in the pages of Detective comics #31 . This version of the Monk is a revised updated version who was once a slaver who is tricked into a Voodoo ritual and forced to live out the rest of his life as a living undead Vampire!!  Batman #349 begins as Batman fresh of an investigation of the Academy Of Crime decides to check in on Robin and Alfred at home. However the call is unanswered as we discover that The Boy Wonder has been abducted and is bound. Robin at this point in comics had fallen in love with a girl named Dala. What Dick doesn’t know is that Dala has a dark secret. Dick not being one to let his guard down investigates and follows Dala home only to discover a terrible secret about his new mysterious love. As with all of Grayson’s past loves, nothing is ever easy in love and life as would be the case with his latest heartbreak Dala. Upon tracking his own girlfriend under the guise of Robin, Dick walks into a trap…

349 Robin Dala Dala apparently came from money as her home was a giant mansion..of course of the scary, semi haunted, Scooby Doo variety like all mansions in comics. Grayson deciding to do some extreme B&E on his newest interest is met with a club to the back of his head and a free fall down over an elaborate set of steps. He is an intruder..lets be clear here. …he awakes bound and shackled..

349 Robin abducted

Being resilient and adaptable as The Boy Wonder is, he absorbs the attack and frees himself of his shackles only to uncover the secret…his chick is a straight up killer..but there’s more..Dala aint alone! Nope she is followed by her crazy Vampire Brother Louis Dubois..Together The Vampiri ATTACK!!

 

 

Vampires attack BM 349

 

Busting out is never easy especially when you see the result of past visitors to the mansion. As Robin makes his escape he suffers an undisclosed injury but eventually, the Boy Wonder busts loose..to safety.

349 Robin uncovers Vampire

 

As Robin runs into the street running for his life, he is struck by a car and incapacitated..but luck would be on his side as he is found by token movie Trope, the Holy Father Green!! OF course..The Exorcist movies were still fresh in people’s minds and Father Green fit the bill. However as he is rushed to the hospital, we see the effects of Robins injury..we discover he had been bitten in the neck by Dala..and Father Green being an expert on the subject determines he has been afflicted by the Mark Of The VAMPIRI!! Gene Colan may have drawn my favorite version of classic Robin in all of comics because that last panel is etched into my memory and made me more excited about a comic book than ever before as a 8-year-old boy!! This was the stuff of pure comic book escapism…I was HOOKED on Batman going forward!!

349 Robin bittenMy best friend in primary school (Jason M!! Shout out!!) at the time collected comic books as did I and had in fact amassed not as big of a collection as I did but had the better books and he landed Bloodsport! This  left me scrambling to find one. His Aunt had the inside scoop at the Drug store and always gave him a stack of comics which I had been lucky enough to have from time to time as well. This was competition damn it!! Almost impossible in the day of no comic book or hobby shops I found a copy at a local drug store!! Well it wasnt long before the next issue rode onto shelves and we were scrambling again to scour my town for its meager selection of comics. It was dog eat dog people!

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On to Batman #350..sadly I did never ever found on the shelves in my hometown...None of my friends had it either, so I was at peace with missing this issue even though I was dying to see Robins fate! Well as it turns out after the good Father Green explains to Robin all about his misfortune but Robin simply is over his stay at the hospital and leaps back into action..but something is different..

 

batman 350 Robin hospital

Back to the Robin cycle he goes and back to the warmth of the Batcave . Bruce and Alfred get the vibe that Robins sudden return is not without cause for concern.Batman being very astute, sees that Dick is not himself and tells him to catch a few winks to get over whatever got the lone Grayson in his state of disarray. Prior to retiring for the night he explains to Bruce that both of them have an engagement at Dala’s mansion of doom. Bruce accepts knowing somethings up. By god its a mystery, and Batman’s on the case! On a couple of visual notes looking back at these issues I love the simple panel layouts where very little carries over outside of the panels. In todays books the art of maintaining the integrity of a panel is dead. Read a copy of Deadpool where the panel is almost bothersome and something that is an annoyance to the story and characters are out of frame more than they are in! Yes I am officially THAT complaining old man! As well check out the “Continued On 2nd Page Following” banner at the bottom of the page to guide the reader in the case they got lost after an ad! Thats attention to detail people!

batman 350Robin Batcave

As the party goes, Dick under the trance of the Vampiri, joins right in with his former kidnappers. Bruce takes that as his clue to investigate the house of Dala and her crazed Brother!! It doesn’t take long for Bruce to surmise that something sinister is afoot! As Batman jumps into cowl mode on the outside in the garden he comes face to face with the Vampiri monk himself and the scrap ensues. As usual Batman always is startled by the strength of his adversary and struggles with him..the picture of the monk on the bottom left panel displaying his fangs is classic Gene Colan and as a kid I can truly say these images stuck in the brain. Seeings I didn’t get this issue I was free of the nightmare potential..THEN IT HAPPENED..Batman 350 vs Monk

 

As with many of the Bats fights..round one goes to the villain..this time however the Brother Vampiri leaves his mark on Batman literally.  Batman is savagely bitten on the neck as per 80s standard fare with Vampire horror standards. Not being on to lay down Batman gains his bearings after the bite and batters the Vamp with a well placed large stick and clubs him mercilessly over the back of his head only to be clocked by his own Boy Wonder who is clearly still whipped by his latest disastrous relationship. Once again look how much is neatly packed into 8 panels..not a wasted space.Its also of note when looking at some of Colans work notice how much it rains in his books. It’s almost hysterical! Makes for great cheap backgrounds though!

batman 350Batman bitten

In a weird turn of events this issue actually carried over to another title! While common place today this was a much rarer occurrence in these days. Companies were less like a pack of gougers like they are today..well at least they hid it better back in the day..so as it would be..the “Blood Sport” storyline carried over into two issues of Detective Comics. On a side note there is a secondary story that is happening throughout all the issues and more prominently in the Detective issue. Batman’s identity is uncovered by a dirty politician who threatens to expose Batman..however Vickie Vale..(yes she was actually in a comic and not just the Tim Burton movie) investigates the situation and it is discovered to be photoshopped!! Wait photo shop didn’t exist back then but they pulled some form of chicanery to alter a photo. It was all forgotten after this issue! I didn’t know this story was in the book as I obviously could care less as a kid if the panels didn’t include a vampire! Anyways..back to the Vampire storyline..

detective 517coverredo

 

Boy do I miss these covers! You have an action scene that draws you into the action of what the narrative is inside the book and the use of speech bubbles! “Good Lord Batman what happened to you!!” Even though this was what I call a bait and switch cover as this scene never actually happens in the book. Robin at this point is still firmly in the clutches of the Vampiri and NOT at the Batcave with Alfred..hows that for nitpicking dissection. I love the bait covers though..they always worked on me!! Anyways I will not spend a ton of words on this issue which is essentially a fill in the gaps issue which gives the full background on the Vampiri ! First Batman returns home and discovers that he like the Boy Wonder is afflicted with the curse of the vampire!

detective 517-Batman Vamp mirror

Alfred intercepts him in the washroom of Wayne Manor and is horrified by what he sees!! Batman however has reacted differently than Grayson. He is still in control of his faculties  and pushes Alfred away and knows not to hurt him. As well look at the curious decor in the Manors washroom. The nice fish soap dish gold sink taps and green color theme. What does that say about Bruce’s tastes? I don’t know but its out there now.

 

detective 517Affred discovers Vamp Batman

 

After Batman leaves the cave in search of the Vampiri and his Boy Wonder Alfred gets a visit from the mysterious and curious Father Green who sees to have an unhealthy knowledge of the Vampiri. He weaves the full tale to Alfred of Dubois and Dala, a brother and sister duo of post civil war slavers who treat black folks very poor in that time. Dubois is awaken by the beating of drums, so naturally he is drawn to the source of the drums only to find a voodoo like event occurring on a beach. During the festivities he is bitten by a snake and turns into the Vampiri as the black folks he had once mistreated laughed at his plight. Dala, his sister had followed him to this get together and is attacked and bitten by her own Brother! Thus are born The Vampiri who live on for centuries later up to modern-day 1982 anyways!

detective 517-15 detective 517-16 detective 517-17 detective 517-18 detective 517-19

As Father Green finishes up his story he knows that Batman to is now infected by the same venom that The Vampiri are infected with as well as Robin! Now as we have a problem. As well it is finally confirmed that Dalas Brother, Louis Dubois is officially calling himself THE MONK!! Thats right..THE MONK!! Now if that doesn’t strike fear into the hearts and souls of readers what will I beg? In the meantime Batman struggles with the fact he is now a Vampire..uh I mean Vampiri!! This Dark Knight is able to fight the full effect of the Vampiris mark and is still able to fight off his urges..

batman 351 001 Ì nabbed this bad boy in a quarter bin of a local comic book shop much later but somehow I had read the conclusion to the saga. The cover of Batman #351 ,even though it states it was drawn by Gene Colan and Dick Giordano looks more Giordano that Colan. The Batman is almost hysterically laughable and I always disliked the cover but the Gargoyle mast-head on the edge of the building is all Gene Colan..so it gets partial marks from me on this one. #351 is the wrap up..the Coup De Gras as it maybe! Batman vs The VampiriFinal Battle. Lets begin. Batman scours Gotham for his Ward..Dick Grayson aka Robin only to find him using his charm and wiles on the much older Vickie Vale..Grayson is not in charge of his mind as he has transformed fully into a Vampire and is about to seal the deal on Vicki’s neck when good old Bats has something to say about it all!! Vickie is Batman’s GF at the time so this is clearly inappropriate !

batman 351Robin attacks viki

To be clear Batman doesnt not have the best history with his women but those who mess with his girl usually ends up in a bad place at the end of the story. Robin is no exception..with a well placed southpaw..I honestly didn’t know Wayne was a lefty? Can anyone verify this fact? Weird. Anyways Grayson’s out cold and Vampire Bruce pulls his cheating ass off the ground and back to the Batcave for much-needed treatment! A hilarious part of this is the final panel on the page where Alfred laments that the ominous Father Green may have overstayed his welcome. Really whats weird about a man of the cloth who shows up at your door in yet another thunderstorm in the dead of night? These days we call the cops and seize his computer! Anyways..

batman 351Batman stops robin

 

 

batman 351 Batman brings robin to batcave

 

Batman struggles to get Dick some blood or possibly an antidote..but his Vampire side is fighting him and his frustration is at a boiling point..Love the old Batcave by the way. The giant coin and the Dinosaur is a must have for any home! Hey its better than the fish-shaped soap dish!! Help is on the way as Father Green finds his way to the Batcave!! How did the father know about the cave? Apparently not the hardest secret in the world as Christopher Chance who had been covering for Bruce in his public appearances as well wanders the Manor as well thinking something is up. On top of that photos of Bruce as Batman circulate so it looks like while Bats battles the vampires his whole identity has been blown to the media as well. Toss in people randomly finding out about the Batcave it looks like the jig is up for Bruce and his secret of the cowl!

batman 351 Batman mixes an antidote

Father Green explains to reverse the affliction of the Vampiri Robin needs a complete blood transfusion!! Apparently not an issue as Alfred stays to assist Dick Grayson, Batman and Father Green go to throw down with the Monk once and for all!! Not two seconds after walking into the aforementioned Scooby Doo mansion the final confrontation begins!! This time Batman’s pissed and its going to take more than fangs and a hot sister to stop the Dark Knight!! The Monk attempts a high cross body and Bats gives him the fling ding to the other side of the room. The poor Monk is about to get ragdolled!

 

batman 351Batman visits the monk

The Monk turns the tide with the nerve pinch, dropping Wayne to the floor but Father Green and his cross are here to save the day! Now even the Lord is involved in this Battle Royal!! While Dala holds poor father Green on the floor The Monk goes in for the final kill..or bite. One problem..If you have already been bitten what is the purpose of being re-bitten? Not sure what the Monks endgame is on this one but anyways Batman says NO!

 

batman 351 Monk KOBatman once again showing is left-handed punching power unloads a left hook which literally rocks the Monk into the air and between to crosses that may as well be Football uprights…this one silences The Monks efforts for this evening. Dala however has the resilient Father Green pinned to the floor and Batman, not being one not to hit a woman, stiffs her with a solid right for the win! Father Green has the healing serum and Batman asks for it before he loses control. Now I am a mere reader but would one not have asked for it earlier? Whatever its more dramatic this way darn it!

batman 351Finish Dead shot

The sub-plot throughout these issues has been the photos of Batman’s identity and Vickie Vales investigation into the matter. At the end we see Vickie search through her files to find all her pictures of Bruce and batman are missing..who or what has the photos?`Now that the Vampiri are out-of-the-way this plot now takes center stage as one of my all time favorite villains DEADSHOT arrives to go toe to toe with the Dark Knight!!

detective 518-00redo

The story actually crosses over with another issue of Detective Comics as in Detective 518 the first few pages deals with Bruce’s recovery and the final fate of the Vampiri!One of my favorite Detective Comics cover ends this series and makes up for that goddawful batman 351 cover! Deadshot is front and center and rocks it!

 

detective 518 Cured

Batman is on the mend people and has no idea that his identity is in danger at this point but is just as happy as turncoat Robin is to see Batman still alive! As Father Green administers the serum Batman is on the mend and the Vampiri..now also in the Batcave are strapped in and ready for transport Father Greens Herse. What is he up to..and what ever happened to Dala and The Monk? I guess we will never know.

 

detective 518 Fate of Monks

 

Hey Heroes if you liked this post..there are plenty of other Retro posts to occupy your taste for the 1980s. Give us a Like at the bottom of the page or leave us a comment as tell me how much you loved , or hated, or simply to say Hi! Chat all about these and other Satellite Transmissions on Twitter using #SuperHeroSatellite or chat with my Blogging Brethren The #SuperBlogTeamUp. Contact me directly on Twitter Charlton_Hero . Now..next stop we go head to head with Skeletor and his goons on Eternia as Super-Blog Team Up Returns for its fourth big team up!

 

Transmission Ended..

 

Speedballheaderparrents

Welcome back Satellite Subscribers we are receiving transmissions from 1989. Marvel Comics, during its initial launch in the 1960s created a universe of characters unlike anything that had been seen before. Characters like The Fantastic Four, Spiderman, The Incredible Hulk, The Avengers and the X-Men  which broke the mold for a newer more dynamic group of heroes than ever seen from established companies like DC Comics. From the fertile minds and pencils of such masters of the form like Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, and the reclusive Steve Ditko, came a group of characters that not only addressed the fact these individuals had Super Powers but showed that they had real lives outside of their Super Heroic adventures.

Speedball promo poster crop

 

This was such a departure from the traditional DC characters who were super powered to a fault and almost completely invincible.Marvels heroes were the everyman. The guy or girl next door who just happened to be super powered. Spiderman was one of the best examples of this, as mild mannered Peter Parker was the story of what happens when an ordinary kid reacts to being given extraordinary super powers. Steve Ditko and Stan Lee weaved believable down to earth tales that have been plagiarized over and over but have yet to be really duplicated.This is the story of a character I feel that had a shot at capturing that original Marvel magic. The tragic story of an artist, a once revered mainstream celebrity in the comics world that became diminished by the very company he helped build. Strap in Satellite readers as we set course for the late 1980s Marvel Universe just in time to witness the birth of the most underrated character in comics and the last stand for comics icon Mr. Steve Ditko. Seat belts on Heroes our next journey takes us to the breaking point for comic books in the LATE  1980s..

 

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Transmission Date: May 8 2013

I picked up this comic book off the spinner rack of a pharmacy in Newfoundland Canada. It intrigued me the first time I saw it. The Amazing Spiderman Annual number 22 was part of a not so great EVENT series called The Evolutionary War which painfully unfolded in the annuals of many of Marvels key books at the time. The cover was visibly different as it was drawn in the vintage mold of classic Kirby hero jumping off the page.It boasted the catch phrase “Move Over Spidey Enter: Speedball, The Masked Marvel” it was an old school debut for the character and it jumped out at me immediately! This new character had the old school feel that could have fit perfectly in the 1960s original Marvel run. I remember reading the story inside which admittedly was not very good but this new character was a hit with the fanboy in me.

1988-_Drug-War-Rages_

I collected Amazing Spiderman all throughout the 80s and had a significant run of books including a bunch of Marvel Tales reprints of the original Ditko run on ASM. Steve Ditko who is a Co Creator of Spiderman despite numerous battles between him and Stan Lee (Marvel Legendary Publisher),..mostly a one sided argument where Ditko felt Lee took all the credit for the creation of Spiderman when the design was all Ditko’s but the concept was Lee’s. That of course is the Spiderman for Dummies version of events but I digress. Ditko was a loner in the comics world in part do to his beliefs in Objectivism. He lived and breathed the teachings of philosopher Ayn Rand and much of his work was heavy handed in the way he approached a character and how were portrayed in the comics. Ditko passed over many jobs and was turned down for several others for he was garnering a reputation as being hard to deal with. It was his beliefs in regards to how his characters and creative direction that made Ditko walk off of Marvels top tier title. Spiderman and Doctor Strange which were Steve Ditko’s masterworks.Ditko found work elsewhere in DC comics and Charlton comics as well.

 

 

His work on characters like The Creeper and The New Gods for DC and Captain Atom and Blue Beetle for Charlton kept Ditko working at least. Odd jobs for Marvel on titles like Rom SpaceKnight and dubious titles such as Marvels Star Imprints Chuck Norris and The Karate Kommandos. Ditko had seemingly run out of gas. He had become something of a Pariah in the industry. He was viewed as being too weird, and his artwork had not updated with the times which would be a criticism of his latter day career.

Ditko Atom

 

As it would happen Marvel happened to be experimenting with a new concept about a new set of characters living in a stand alone Universe outside of the Marvel Continuity dubbed the New Universe. It created a host of new characters such as Star Brand, DP7, and Nightmask, to name a few. The New Universe however did not make it due to creative issues and lack of interest in the product. The Speedball concept was originally created by Ditko as a New Universe character but the imprint became extinct before the character could see the light of day. Ditko was struggling to get any sustained contract work and as a favor to a friend writer Tom Defalco went to bat for Ditko and Speedball at Marvel resulting in getting the green light as a regular ongoing series. Steve Ditko was about to get the chance that had eluded him in recent times. Speedball made his debut in The Amazing Spiderman Annual #22 and I grabbed it off the rack immediately. I loved this new character. He had a vintage look, cool powers and was a perfect fit in the classic Marvel Universe and was to be penciled by the man who brought Spiderman and Doctor Strange to life. It was a sure fire hit….on paper.

 

Speedball 1

I sat in a water tunnel next to our stadium where my friend and I often went after we visited the local drug store and would leave with a paper bag full of comic books every week,and I held Speedball #1. As we sat that day and studied these colorful tabloids I wanted so bad for this book to be the next big thing. I felt like I was on the ground floor of the next generation of Marvel heroes. Honestly the cover to issue one was a let down. Where as the cover to his first appearance in ASM Annual #22 was everything I looked for in a comic book, his debut issue one looked like a panel you may find in the middle of a comic as a part of a sequence of action but not a cover shot for an #1 issue? This was a bad Omen. Instead it showed the character battling a group of mono colored generic bad guys back on? The main character of the title was not really featured prominently on the cover of his own book? His design was not visible as he was depicted back on?? and this cover was an epic failure in one mans opinion. The interior story inside gave me hope.

Speedballs Rouges gallery were certainly not the most serious badguys. The Sticker for example put Speedball in many “Sticky” situations. (Insert laughter here!)

We met Robbie Baldwin and his family. Robbie, aka Speedball, acquired his powers the old fashioned Marvel way through a laboratory accident. Hammond Research Facility had been playing with the idea of Interdimensional energy sources which of course is never a good thing. Robbie ends up smack dab in the middle of a lab accident but finds himself surviving the incident but suddenly surrounded by Kinetic Energy Bubbles and dressed in a super cool blue and yellow costume. As with classic Marvel his pet cat Niels, is also affected by this incident and adds a comedic element to the issues. The Cat even adopts the name Hairball as a play on the name Speedball.

Here comes the Diabolical Leaper Logan? Top tier Superbad!

The Book was full of the classic Marvel character traits. Robbie was the teenage boy who inherits powers he struggles to harness while juggling his real world issues. His father Justin Baldwin is a high profile attourney, while his mother Madeline, a retired stage actress who is now settling in as a teacher. In an interesting spin Robbies parents are not happily married and often are seen arguing especially when it comes to the actions of their son..Speedball. Of course then there is Robbie’s adopted cat Niels (Hairball) who also has powers of its own. Toss in some small town criminal activity and Speedball is a tour de force of classic Marvel lore. I enjoyed the possibilities of what this character brought to the table and you could not ask for a more classic style of character. However would the world of the late 80s be accepting of this old school form of storytelling?

What evil lurks in the Halls of Springdale High. Its up to our Kinetic Bouncing Hero to find out!

Ditko himself once again found himself placing his belief system on the characters in the cast. Mostly his vision of how justice is handled through his objectivist point of view once again poured to the surface through the character Justin Baldwin. Ditkos own Black and White view of justice was a central bone of contention in all his works and this book would be no exception. In this case it would be the creators own style and political viewpoints that would put the final nail in the long storied career of Steve Ditko.

The Basher and The Two Legged Rat are such great badguy’s they have never appeared in another comic again. The true mark of a great creation.

The first issue of Speedball would come in with a disappointing launch. Reviews and fan comments were mixed. While some jumped on to get another number one issue the critics came out fast and hard. Ditko was on the defensive from the get go.The late 8os were the genesis of the mega artist. Super stars like Frank Miller and John Byrne were the undisputed kings of modern comics at the time with their bombastic styles that made the characters leap off the page in a manner no one had ever seen at the time. Batman and Superman had a rebirth of sorts and comics had taken on a more serious gritty approach. Gone were the bubble gum candy of the 50s and 60s. Fans wanted their heroes and villain’s with an edge to them. We were only a couple of years away from the 90s Image explosion where comics would change forever. Its was like the end of the world for comics and Ditko was not the artist fans looked at to bring them into the future.

Not really sure what the thing in the white background is? On first look..well use your imagination.

What had happened? How could the man responsible for the creation of Marvels most recognizable superhero fail so dramatically with a brand new chance? Fact was the industry had moved ahead without Steve Ditko. His beliefs were a source of irritation for publishers who had long since given up on his erratic behavior. His art style had not changed with the times. Ditko drew like he had woken up in the afternoon in 1965. It was painfully obvious that change was needed. Ditkos characters where drawn in a 60s fashion as well. From their hair styles, to their clothes the characters looked very dated and wooden. Dynamic poses seen in the works of Byrne and Miller at the time were lacking in the book. The fun bouncy vibe of Speedball also seemed very alone in the world of The Dark Knights and The Man Of Steels. Had fans given up on classic light hearted fun in trade for a dead pan serious world of late 80s comics?

The Harlequin Hitman clearly has his vision impaired by that mask as he is not exactly skilled with that gun!

The characters were a big concern. They were not reflective of the modern times. Bad Guys like The Ghost Of Springdale High, The Sticker, The Bug Eyed Voice, The Bone Head Gang, The Harlequin Hitman, and the Two Legged Rat were all 7th to 8th string, one and done characters. Speedball’s rouges gallery looked like rejected characters from the old 1960s Batman Tv Series.

The end is coming as sales at this point in the books run had gone past critical levels and this book was doomed by issue #8

There was little support from Marvel either. When a title is struggling for sales Marvel would usually go for a final Hail Mary to save the title by bringing in in Co Stars from other books. Where were the “HOT” appearances of Wolverine, The Punisher or even Spidey himself? Where were the Super hero team ups? Where were the wars against established super bads? Speedball was given no form of life support and it was obvious by all who were on the pulse of comics at that time that this title was given the death sentence from issue one. This was the brain child of one of the founding fathers of the Marvel Universe, but the publishers, the company, the industry, and the fans had given up on Speedball and more importantly Steve Ditko.

Issue #9 rolled around with the end of its run insight and Marvel does nothing to support this book or pull it from the clutches of death. No guest stars, no major bad guys, no hope.

After a mere 10 issues, just 2 issues short of making it to the one year mark, the book the plug was pulled on the title and in 1989 Speedball The Masked Marvel was cancelled. Steve Ditkos final run with Marvel ended with a whimper rather than a send off for a legend in the business. Steve Ditko would go on to grab minor jobs with upstart companies like Defiance, a guest spot for DC on a New Gods and some smaller work for independent presses. Ditko in desperation for paid work took a job to do  Transformers coloring books and even an ad for the restaurant Big Boy at an all time low point for one of the industries former top artists.Ditko officially retired from the business in 1998.

Not a year into its fabled run Speedball was cancelled without making it to issue 12. #10 marked the final issue.

While Ditko went out with a whimper,  Speedbal,l under another creative team, was brought back to life as he joined the very popular teen team The New Warriors which seemed like Marvels answer to the New Teen Titans and it was a success for the majority of  its run. Speedball also later factored into being a key player in the major event cross over called Civil War. Like all good characters it would far outlive the creators work life cycle.

Newwarriors

 

Speedball has a special place in my comic loving heart. For those of us who enjoy retro books like early Amazing Spiderman comics, this title captured that fun. I would recommend these 10 issues as it was rejected at the time due to its lack of support and was a victim of the times. The comic was a bad fit for the era and the changing landscape of comic books beginning in the late 80s and exploding  in the early 90s with the coming of Image comics. The title itself is a self contained an expression of what fans in the 60s experienced when Marvel comics first entered the market. Classic comics that did not take short cuts with swearing, violence and nudity. This was good clean fun that you could pass over to your 6 year old child and they would enjoy it. I think with a push from Marvel, some cross over with the Marvel Universe characters that Speedball could rise again in a solo title. I may be alone in that hope, but a fanboy can dream! So gang if you have some money hit your local comics shops dollar and quarter bins and you are sure to discover some of these gems hidden in a Longbox Graveyard.(For Paul!)

Heroes..it is once again time to head back to the Satellite. Our time in the late 80s is slowly slipping away..our records indicate the comics world is about to explode if we do not leave soon.

Hope you have enjoyed this venture into the world of 1980s Marvel comics. The SuperHero Satellite offers many more fun blogs like this one. Feel free to leave a comment below or contact me directly to share feedback on Twitter. I am @charlton_hero and I answer all questions or comments. It has been my honor to bring these to you and I enjoy writing these posts as much as I do sharing them! Take care Heroes, Satellite Transmissions are shutting down.
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For fans of Steve Ditko out there I encourage you to check out http://ditkocultist.com/ for all you Ditko needs. The site is a comprehensive visual history of the works of Steve Ditko and was a resource that I used here to compile my cover gallery. Big thanks to the folks at that website for all their hard work!