Posts Tagged ‘Steve Ditko’

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Trading comics as a kid was an art form. In a sense it was the earliest form of childhood poker, you had to know when to hold em and know when to fold em. In my own mind I felt I was a pretty good shark in this game.I was one of a few of my friends that had a coveted Overstreet Price Guide which allowed me a savants wisdom when giving the true value of my comics and of that of the individuals of which I was about to trade with.My trading selection was my usual fare of 80s DC titles but in the opposite corner my cousin who I was trading with had an unusual treasure on his side of the bed which doubled as our trading stand. It was an issue of The Fly a title I had never heard of! The publisher was Archie of all things but how could this be, this was a Superhero Title!! I glanced over the cover trying not to look directly at the book or even look interested in it but it was screaming to me..I had to have this book! So as the trades went on the regular fare was exchanging hands I swapped some Batman for some Firestorm, and Blue Devil but I still wanted that Fly issue. Not wanting to show my hand I asked him was there any other title in my pile he was interested in and fortunately there was. So I went for the kill…his selection was valued at meager 5 bucks in the Overstreet bible so I told him I would trade it for a Green Lantern Book …and throw in that Fly book just to even out the dollar amount!

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I tossed his requested book to his side of the bed and collected The Green Lantern issue and reached to get the issue of The Fly only to be shut down..His hand stopped cold over the top of the issue blocking my collecting hand from making it officially mine. My cousin told me a story of his recent vacation in Maine to which he picked up this “Rare” book and that book was not going up for trade! I internally panicked…then it dawned on me I could use the Overstreet Guide to show that the trade was a good value. As I thumbed through the pages I found the Fly #1 and it was worth $1 …Cover Price!! Practically worthless in 1984! Surely he would bend knowing that this book was a lump of coal in his collection but to me it secretly was a diamond! He didnt budge…he was on to me. This book was from the U.S.A.!! This wasnt available in small town Clarenville Newfoundland..this was from the United States Of America which carried a great deal of cache back in the day! I came out on the losing end of the trade that day as I gave up one of my coveted Blue Devil issues and god knows what else to claim this issue of the Fly..I know I had been duped but in the end I came away with what I wanted so it was short term pain.

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The glorious Steranko cover art and beautiful interiors this issue of The Fly was a revelation! My god there existed life outside of Marvel and DC!! Now I felt relatively in sync with the comics industry and bought many publishers like Charlton, Harvey, and Archie I thought I knew it all there was to know. How did I miss the existence of  The Red Circle imprint Aka The Archie Adventure Series I began sifting through the ads inside and my Overstreet Price Guide to find out what titles existed and there were a ton of them. I eventually discovered that these characters were around since the Golden Age!! This was prior to the era of the internet kids..it was not as simple as a google search!!

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The characters were pure Golden Age! Names like The Shield, The Fly, The Comet, The Black Hood, The Jaguar, and The Web were fascinating to me! Not only was this my first introduction to them but they seemed like an elusive mystery to me and the fact that their recent (80s!!) adventures could not be purchased on the comic spinner racks in my home town only heightened my interest! In fact the characters were so steeped in comics lore that their first appearances dated back as far as 1940!

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In the pages of Pep Comics #1 exploded a very familiar looking character The Shield!! This United States patriotic character was one of the first of his kind and pre-dated our generations super patriot Captain America! Created by Irv Novick (Artist) and Harry Shorten (Writer) The Shield was born of the times and World War 2 fascination. Amazingly this would also be the first appearance of another one of the soon to be Mighty Crusaders The Comet in a single issue!!

Around the same time in Oct 1940 also debuted The Black Hood in Top Notch Comics #9. The Black Hood was an interesting character. The character would be played by a number of individuals who would take up the notion of vigilante justice after each previous Hood would either die.. or pass on the mantel of the hood to the next individual. The Hood itself would be “cursed” as nearly all its wearers would die passing it like a proverbial torch to another bearer. The “hood ” itself went from a stereotypical heroic cowl style of mask to a full on executioners hood. The Hood was the one character in the Crusaders who would “Cross The Line” into killing his opponents in the name of justice. Interestingly when the Red Circle brand resurfaced in the early 80s the Black Hood would be the character that would regress the most costume wise while other Crusaders sported updated flashy modern costumes. The Black Hood would debut on a Motorcycle in biker leathers and a tight leather “Mugger” mask.

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Later that year in 1940 creators Joe Simon and Jack “King” Kirby famously created a character strikingly similar to The Shield, the one and only Captain America. Fortunately  this was not the era of expensive lawsuits so Cap would go on to mega fame unscathed by class action lawsuits! Clearly they had an eye on what MLJ was doing as they went on to create a Crusader themselves.. The Fly!! He 1st appeared in the late 50s making his full debut in Adventures Of The Fly #1 in 1959.

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The Fly had a very appealing design that in no coincidence looked very much like Blue Beetle in design. The individual that would wear the Fly suit was  Capital Cities crack lawyer Tommy Troy. Tommy  was able to fly, communicate with insects via his telepathic abilities, use size manipulation among others. By night Tommy became the Fly, fighting the criminal underbelly of Capital City!  He also frequently had his own female counterpart like many in the day.. Fly-Girl! He was also a hero similar to the Blue Beetle (Charlton’s Steve Ditko version of Beetle… Ted Kord) in that he has sizable Eye bubbles and they share a gun which many heroes did not during the 70’s and 80’s especially. The Archie run of the Fly is one of the best MLJ hero books they pubished as Ditko took the reigns in the titles last half (Issues 5-8) of publication for Archie and made The Fly a damaged defamed  Hero on the run! Great stuff kids you need to track down the 9 issue run which was a lot of fun under Archie’s Red Circle imprint!!

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They were then joined by The Web in 1942 created by John Cassone for MLJ. This college criminology professor turned superhero turned his investigative skills into a crime fighting career. Using his College smarts he was able to profile and defeat criminals for the sheer enjoyment of one upping the criminal element. The Web was a character  whose creators gave the unusual spin of being one of the first comic characters who essentially was a domesticated superhero that was for all intents and purposes was  “Whipped”. The key trait to this and following versions would be his married life impacting the way he performed as a hero. Upon discovering that her husband was running around stopping crime in spandex John finally succumbs to the marital pressures and retires leaving a life of crime fighting to deal with the battles of home life!

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The next incarnation of The Web is the one I am most familiar with as the original webs son John Raymond Jr. returned to comics in Fly-Man #36 under most famously Superman’s Co-Creator Jerry Siegel. Humourously the concept of the steroetypical “Nagging Wife” would return but went a step further. As John took on the criminal underbelly as the Web his wife would unbeknownst to him would don a super suit as Pow-Girl and join him on his exploits without revealing her identity to him!! Fortunately this version of the Web would drop all the silver age silliness and this Web would re-debut in the 80s under Archie’s Red Circle banner and would become my favorite of all the Mighty Crusaders!

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The Shield, The Web, The Fly, Fly Girl , The Comet, The Jaguar, and The Black Hood and many others during various incarnations of the group would all Unite under one collective Super Powered group known as The Mighty Crusaders! Archie seemed to have nailed the Superhero concept or at least had great clay to work from with the MLJ Characters!  I loved every issue I uncovered. It didnt matter the condition wether they were torn, stained, or even coverless I just wanted my Red Circle comics!!

Mighty Crusaders Cover Gallery?? Okay..we got you covered!! Computer…load Archie Adventure Series Red Circle Mighty Crusaders!!

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Its no secret that I was a fan of action figures as is well  documented on this blog..when my old nemesis Remco would adapt the Crusaders into Action figure form. Check out my previous article on DC’s Warlord figures also notoriously by Remco. The company did not have a history of making “Quality” toys instead they relied on working from established concepts popular at the time and doing something “Similar”. Yes if He-man was popular Remco created the line of “Conan” or “Warlord” figures which were not coincidentally clones of the He-Man toyline. LJN Struck gold with their WWF license to create Professional Wrestling figures and Remco went with AWA Mat Mania figures. This time Mego was red hot with this Worlds Greatest Heroes SuperHero figure line and low and behold… Remco grabbed the semi obscure Mighty Crusaders action figures!

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Remco created eight figures in total and had an equal roster of good guys and bad guys..4 on each side to be exact! the line up were as below!

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  • The Comet. Prior to Marvels X-Man, Cyclops there was the Comet..that visor is something multiple characters would come to rip off!!

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  • The Fox. A cool design and character. The Fox was always one of the coolest heroes from the Archie Adventure line and was their answer to Black Panther / Batman..but not as interesting as either.

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  • The Shield. Its Captain Ameri…no wait..its the Shield. Even though this character may have influenced multiple American based heroes later in comics history he is still the single greatest design of the Crusaders!

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  • The Web. Always loved the Web!! Loved the color scheme and Web cape! I gurantee you , One year soon on Halloween you can bet your bottom dollar that I will be the Web..

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  • The Brain Emperor. The bad guys were very uninspired as is the case with the poorly designed Brain Emperor. Alan Moore himself would not have been able to save this Mort and his goons!

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  • The Buzzard. Every universe has their “Bird” villain..they also managed to snatch all the cool bird names. With The Falcon and The Vulture we get the sinister Buzzard!! Doesnt work at all does it??

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  • The Eraser. Despite the very cool double bandolier, the only thing the Eraser “erased” were several plates of cheeseburgers..That said.. he is the happiest villain I have ever seen!

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  • The Sting. By god Remco loved their skull faced villains!! In the era of Masters Of The Universe and the patriarch of the Skull Face.. Skeletor…is the reason why we allow jabronies like Sting to exist. That said..as a kid, Skull faces ruled and chances are this would have been my first bad-guy if I had a choice If I know “kid me” well enough!

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The comic ads got me so excited to get my hands on these great looking toys. Remco to their defense always got some of the best artists to design their comic book ads as well as their packaging! With Remco’s Sgt. Rock for example Remco scored the legendary Joe Kubert to draft their in comic ads as well as figure packaging!!

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They would score again with the great Steve Ditko taking the reigns with the Crusaders!! Ditko drew the wonderful ads that baited me originally and scored the packaging on the toys as well!! The problem however was the product that was delivered. The figures themselves had a certain charm but upon further inspection they were woefully impractical. There was something very weird about their hip structure. Their legs appeared shorter, almost baby like on some figures giving them a very odd look visually. As well, Remco..stealing a page out of Marvels Secret Wars toys, each toy came with a shield? I am still wondering what the fascination with the shield as a accessory was in the day?? That said with all their quirks and 80s weirdness The Crusaders were a win for this Hero!!

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The Heroes themselves were pretty well designed. I would kill for a Web figure! The Shield looked great with vibrant colors and I even gave his shield a pass.I had no idea who the Fox was but the figure was excellent. The Comet however was a comedy of errors. Not only did he come with a Shield but he also came with a bandolier and gun!!? This Comet was packin heat folks!! These toys were amazingly rare in my hometown. The odd figure would appear in a toy box or two in my travels to friends houses but no one I knew had the “set” or even a significant amount enough to say the collected them.

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The amount of Mighty Crusaders merchandise on the market though small by today’s standards, was surprising for a franchise many people today outside of retro fanatics (Like myself and many of the folks reading this post!) whom may never had heard of the property. One of the coolest items was the rare Mighty Crusaders Board Game! It sported a very heroic box art! The fun didnt stop there as the Crusaders were splashed all over the typical fare of the era such as water guns, disc saucer guns, walkie talkies, things that today would be considered dollar store toys! *Merchandise photos are all compliments of our friends at one of my all time favorite Retro sites  Plaid Stallions visit them and enjoy their absolute wealth of nostalgic riches!!

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I was however disappointed to find that there was no Mighty Crusaders Doctor Kit which was a trope in the dollar toy industry that every franchise took advantage of. Missed opportunity? However not to be disappointed we did get  very cool Crusader stunt cycles and parachute figures!

With a property that seemed so viable with several comics series, and plenty of merchandise to go with it how is it that the majority of the  World do not remember the MLJ characters? How is it that these characters are not household names? Well as fond of memories as I have for these characters , comics and merchandise the fact is that the line did not get over with the masses. The direct market format for Archie’s Adventure line went against the mass media publication market like they did with their digests and floppys sold at anywhere magazines were sold to a more niche distribution which hurt the line. Would we be telling a different story had the Archie Adventure Line been as readily available as Archie’s Digest series on every Supermarket Shelf? I feel they would have. The same goes for the toyline. Remco was a decent toymaker that sadly did not have the deep international penetration of Kenner or Mattel as a result many never even knew The Crusaders ever existed on a toy shelf. So both the comics and the toys suffered from limits on distribution but still manged to deliver a competitive product certainly comparable with the toyfare of the time.

The Archie Adventure Series came out of the gate roaring. Many forget that Archie Comics lured some of the industries most acclaimed artists in the business including Jack “King” Kirby, Steve Ditko , Jim Steranko just to name a few to work on these books!Would it be enough with the comics industry on the verge of the big comics boom of the 1990s?? Archie brought multiple titles to comics shelves and the world opened their doors once again to the classic MLJ hero universe!!

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My personal favorite of the lot was The All New Adventures Of The Mighty Crusaders that lasted 13 issues. See The Cover Gallery above kids for this one! This title came second place for the longest run of issues in the line and was probably the most action packed of all the titles as it featured all Crusaders and even some new ones in a full on team book.

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Blue Ribbon Comics 1-14 This one was a rehash of the old MLJ series from 1939 of the same name which was essentially a anthology series which told new stories from alternating characters in the universe. This edition from the Archie Adventure series was the longest lasting title in the line! It alternated stories of the Mighty Crusaders individual exploits. Mostly it featured The Fly and The Black Hood. The Art was probably the best of all series in the line and featured purposely an alternating roster of creative talent including Kirby, Ditko, Buckler, to name a few!

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The Fly 1-9 My favorite of the solo books! The Fly featured beautiful Steranko Covers as featured above as well as interior art from one of comics masters Steve Ditko for the last issues of the series. The adventures of the fly were very standard comics fare with one and done villain of the week stories that were wrapped up in a neat bow by the end of twenty something pages just how I loved it as a kid!

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Lancelot Strong: The Shield. This book had an identity crisis. It began as Lancelot Strong the Shield for issues 1-2 , Then changed into The Shield Steel Sterling for issue 3 before switching altogether into just simply Steel Sterling for its final 4 issues of its existence beginning with issue 5. It also had the dubious distinction of sharing two brands as well. It began under the imprint Red Circle before switching out to just the Archie Adventure Series on the 5th issue that also marked the final title change.Steel Sterling was a basic solo Adventure series which served a a bridge between the old MLJ universe and the new Archiverse.

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Steel Sterling (Previously Lancelot Strong for issues 1-3) Switches to Steel Sterling with issues 4-7.This title was the ugly step-child of the group in that it was the one title that seemed to change every issue and lacked direction and consistency. As individual issues this title was okay ..as a collected work Steel Sterling was a tough road to hoe!

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The Original Shield was another short lived title that ran 4 issues that served as the origin story of the Original Shield. This title mirrored closest early era Captain America as The Shield battled Nazi’s all the while being a super patriot.Ironically he did NOT have a shield when it counted!! The title was much better than the newer incarnation of the Shield as well had so great Dick Ayres artwork. Worth a look!

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As it would come to pass.. The Archie Adventure line was a failure and all things Mighty Crusaders disappeared from comic spinner racks, and toy shelves. By 1985 the MLJ Heroes were resigned to long boxes in the quarter bins of the 80s basement dwelling comics shops and the bottoms of toy-boxes…and that was the final breathe for this classic group of heroes…UNTIL..

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In 1991…The Archie Adventure Series Heroes were all re-imagined under comics super power DC Comics to form their brand new imprint IMPACT!

But THAT friends..is a story for another day…TO BE CONTINUED…

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The mighty S.B.T.U. has returned and welcome back heroes to our sixth official event! For those new to Super-Blog Team Up, welcome to a blog experience like no other. For those faithful out there..a hearty WELCOME BACK!! As you all know the S.B.T.U. are a collective of like-minded comic book bloggers/podcaster’s who have come together to save blog readers from the boring abyss of the blogosphere. The team comes together quarterly to each take a turn putting our unique spin on a singular topic!

This time around its everyone’s favorite topic.. TOP TEN LISTS! Don’t worry there will be no bait clicking here.All lists will be contained within one page of each blog..no clicking each number of the list to get to number one!! Well enough formality…you are now on-board the Super-Hero Satellite. We ask that you strap in tight..this Satellite is equipped with the technology for time travel. Todays destination will be the 80s and in the offices of DC Comics! We present the Top Ten 1980s DC Comics that were cancelled before their time.

Begin Transmission: May 6th 2015

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10: Ambush Bug: Poor Irwin Shwab a down on his luck shlem. His friends Arg Yle The sock and Cheeks The Wonder Toy, were companions to Bug who was a man with a mental condition who thought he was a superhero. Irwin had the ability to teleport with a device inside a green insect like skin suit he found. Ambush Bug was an intentionally a comedic character who gathered quite a following in the mid 80s. He popped up in a number of titles and was the DC universes very own nuisance. After a one shot special and two mini series, Ambush Bug drifted into obscurity as fast as he entered the DCU. He would re-appear out of the blue several times more but the honeymoon was over. The comedic aspect of these books would not fit in with the new direction of DC today…however in the 80s..this was comic gold. Ambush Bug was not a case of cancellation but rather a case of what was not meant to be. After the strong reaction to his mini series, the Bug was primed for a solo series debut, however with shifts in creative at DC and changes in the comic book landscape..poor Ambush was simply shelved and not revisited. Ambush Bug remains a soft spot in my heart as it was on a trip as a kid to the “Big City” that I visited a local Comic Book Store and purchased my first Ambush Bug issue (Son Of Ambush Bug #1) along with an issue of the Direct Only Legion Of Super-Heroes #1 Baxter Series!! It was also on this day that I passed on a book that the comic store owner told me was great..Watchmen #1. Who wanted that right? Especially at cover price…Besides it had a stupid cover. Yikes..what was I thinking!! Hindsight my friends..

 

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9. Night Force: In 1982 the comics industry Horror market had, with all intents and purposes, died. Hits like Tomb Of Dracula had expired and interest in the genre had waned. So it came as a surprise when Marv Wolfman of New Teen Titans fame decided he wanted to do a new horror title which would be a hard sell to DC or any company at that time. Wolfman convinced DC and along with Horror master artist Gene Colan, they went to work on this new horror concept, Night Force. It was cool because it avoided going to the cliche well by not going with classic horror movie monsters (Like Dracula) and they created a new group of Horror characters. It centered around a sorcerer Baron Winters, who played the puppet master to a team of Supernatural Demon Hunters. They tracked the Supernatural in what ever place or time it existed. Winters could send his team back in time or where ever the threat may appear. The Night Force cast was not consistent (One of the knocks on the series) and the series rotated members in and out which always kept the book fresh. The high hopes that Wolfman preached did not add up to sales on the newsstand. The cancellation was based on early direct sales numbers which Wolfman contested. The Newsstand sales had come in much later, the book had actually performed pretty well. It was too late as the book was sentenced to its death. I compel you to find these issues in a back issue bin somewhere as these books were ahead of its time. It was brought back (sans Gene Colan ..which was the heart of the book IMO) twice, but the magic was not there. One cant help but think Night Force would make a great AMC or Netflix Series these days…you heard it here first kids!

 

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8. Vigilante: Screw the Punisher.In 1983, after the pending demise of Night Force, Marv Wolfman paired up with one of the  best artists in the industry, George Perez. Together they created a hard-hitting, very adult themed, violent book based loosely on a Golden Age western character of the same name. The Vigilante was an exercise in unevenness. Obviously inspired by Marvels Punisher, The Vigilante began his campaign of revenge following the murder of his family by a gang of Mobsters. Adrian Chase, was a successful District Attorney hell-bent on seeking vengeance for his family. The Vigilante was different in the sense that he didnt “Have it all together” sometimes his violence escalated into killing the innocent. He even gave up his identity for a period of time with two others taking up his mantel. When he made the call to return to the hood..the sad part was it was too late. *Spoilers* The Vigilante spiraled into a dark place and went on a killing spree that included bad guys, police, and whoever go in his way. Upon realizing his mistake he was taken over by overwhelming grief. The Vigilante took his own life which at the time was groundbreaking. This book was overlooked by many which is a shame as some writing credits went to Alan Moore and Paul Kupperberg. This was also one of the early Direct Market only books which many newsstand fans may have totally missed out on. If you like great writing..and you like the Punisher, then read the book that set the bar for violence in the 80s!

 

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7. Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew : I loved Harvey Comics and I loved Funny Animal Comics! DC was not exactly known for their kids books…but boy they went out and delivered one of the best one that was ever published. Like a Heavy Metal band writing an amazing ballad, DC swung for the fences making one of the first Super-Hero Funny Animal teams!! I grabbed every Captain Carrot book I could find with my allowance money of a very rich 20 bucks. (Thats was BIG money in the 80s as a kid people!!) The Zoo Crew was the funny animal version of the JLA..and this kid was hooked. You had Captain Carrot (Superman), FastBack (The Flash), Alley Cat Abra (Zatanna) Yankee Poodle (Captain America meets Wonder-Woman) Rubber Duck (Elongated man/Plastic man) and Of course the Metal Pig…PIG IRON (The Thing meets the Hulk!) Interestingly enough..the Zoo Crew as they were called, often crossed over with regular DC Cannon. Cap met with Superman several times and even battled Starro just like the original JLA!! Of course after a great start and hot sales, Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew became lost in the shuffle. The final nail was driven into the coffin of the era of the funny animal books. Cap of course would return in several cameos throughout the years but I am still looking forward to the day a full on Zoo Crew book is relaunched!! To Read more about the Zoo Crew, the Satellite has covered these crazy super animals in detail..check out this link!!

https://charltonhero.wordpress.com/2014/08/11/super-blog-team-up-4-prequel-capes-and-carrots/

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 6. Manhunter: Anyone remember Marvels Secret Invasion? You know, its the one where The Skulls infiltrated The Marvel Universe and stole a number of heroes identities. No one could be trusted. They could be a Skrull!! Well anyone who collected comics back in the mid 80’s knows of a little DC Comics Crossover event known as Millennium. The Green Lantern’s old nemesis, The Manhunters, infiltrated the DC Universe long before any Skrull! Once again..No one could be trusted! Manhunter’s literally took the place of many people in the DC Universe. Well as successful as Marvels Secret Invasion series was..Millenium was equally unsuccessful. DC seemingly produced a great crossover until it went off the rails at the end as its conclusion. It was notorious for spawning a brand new Super Team..The New Guardians. Sounds great right! Guess what..they absolutely SUCKED. Anyways..On to this Manhunter Solo Series. This Manhunter was yet another public defender named Mark Shaw, who as well was disillusioned with the justice system who sought out a mysterious underground sect of crime fighters called the Manhunter’s. Historically the Manhunter’s were a group of crime fighting Androids who’s mantra was “No One Escapes The Manhunters” . Eventually the Manhunter androids would go too far in Shaw’s mind as they attemoted to take over the Guardians and destroy the DC Universe!  Shaw would escape their ranks and go on to don a Ninja influenced uniform and spent his time kicking ass. I will admit back in the 80s I was a fan of Ninjas..and while this book comes off as total **** today..in its time..in its place..I thought Manhunter’s were the coolest thing ever!!

 

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5. Blue Devil: When you collect comics one of the best thing about the hobby was trading! Cashing in a few of your undesirables for some brand new books that you wanted. One mans garbage is another man treasure…as was the case on this particular trade. While I cant remember what the book I traded, I fondly remember grabbing Blue Devil #2. Blue Devil was brand new to me at the time and just looked damn cool!! He was a muscled up Blue skinned, Big Horned…uhhh well Devil! He wore a big giant collared singlet and toted a super charged pitch fork. Well while it may sound terrible..Blue Devil was charming. The title didn’t take itself seriously and there was a lot of self parody. You better believe the rouges gallery were one for the ages. The Devil combated the likes of Shockwave, Godfrey Goose, Roadmaster, The Green Gargoyle and more. I always though the fact Blue Devil was never a member of  Keith Giffens Bwah Ha Ha version of the Justice League was a missed opportunity. I think DC mishandled his return to the New52 most recently, making him a dark Demon Hunter who killed off Demons with his Trident Of Lucifer!! I  cant help but think this book deserved better! In the right comedic hands this book could return or he would make a great accent to a team!! By The way…he was good enough to be on the Justice League Unlimited TV series so that has to stand for something…right??!!

 

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4. Hex: The Future was never the same when Jonah Hex was teleported from 1875 to the year 2050 with guns a blazin!! I may not be joined by many on this but, this was my all time favorite incarnation of Hex! From the gunslingin wild west to the post nuclear Mad Max inspired dark industrial future, Hex took on a Futuristic Batman, Giant metal Robots, a Chain Saw wielding crazy cyborg and even fought his own girlfriend Stiletta! The book lasted a mere 17 issues due to poor sales and a horrendous creative switch late in the series. Mark Texiera was the titles original artist and visually made the book look and feel cant miss!! However..Keith Giffen (Who has been mentioned several times in this article) at the time had adapted completely an abstract noir art style that literally put the fork in the title. It was THAT bad. While this series gets no love on the web..this reader would insist on the HEX title returning for one more run! Hey,there’s a new Mad Max movie coming out this year…its time for Hex to return back to good ole 2050!! I go into extreme detail on this title and more in one of my favorite Satellite posts “Hex Style”. https://charltonhero.wordpress.com/2012/10/08/hex-style/

 

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3. Booster Gold: On what Earth did a slick talking, Super Jock Celebrity Thief, from the year 25th Century get cancelled? No justice I say! Booster Gold was originally portaryed as a disgraced character from the 25th Century who was caught cashing in on Football Games that he was playing and intentionally throwing for his own personal financial gain. Well one night as he was working his new blue-collar security job (After being fired from his career in disgrace!) in a Space Museum Micheal Jon Carter would steal everything he needed to get his life back! Lifting a slick magnetic Gold Power Suit…one Legion Flight Ring and even a Force Field belt..he was transformed into the Futures #1 Superhero Celebrity..whether they were ready for him or not! With his Robotic companion Skeet’s, and as well his Time Traveling buddies like DC’s father of Time, Rip Hunter, Booster was set for sure success upon his solo debut in 1986 . With Dan Jurgen’s at the helm Booster lasted a mere 25 issues and his last issue came out during the ill fated Millennium crossover. With these characters and creators on the books side, the character had unlimited potential.While Booster was highly positioned in big events several times over the years and even received his own book again, he can never seem to keep readers at the door. This is DC’s most underrated and misused character and Booster deserves better. Booster was given a lease on life after the cancellation when mastermind Keith Giffen (I am still mad at him for ruining Hex!!) used him for his infamous Bwah Ha Ha Justice League book where he became a comedic buddy cop team with…well he happens to be next..Its Blue Beetle!!

 

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2. Blue Beetle: Years ago companies like Charlton Comics were in an industry Turf war to stay relevant in the comics landscape of the 60s and 70s. Charlton had Marvels former number one artist Steve Ditko,fresh off his run on The Amazing Spider-Man. Ditko was famous in Charlton Editorial Offices for churning out book after book ,hoping something would stick..well one that didn’t interestingly enough but would be brought to life years later in the DC Universe was Ditkos Ted Kord..The Blue Beetle! No not that Jamie Reyes crap..Ted Kord damn it! Beetle debuted around the same time that DC was trying a bunch of new titles in 1986 for a minimal 24 issue run. Like the aforementioned Booster Gold, DC would have plans for Booster and Beetle in the new 1980s mega popular Justice League where they became the new dynamic duo of slapstick. Both characters were reborn in a new comedic light but did not receive their own team book at the time when they were white-hot which was a critical mistake. So much has happened to both characters that this book would not make sense to reunite them without the pre 52 history intact. There’s still hope DCs newest crossover Convergence can fix some of the lost magic!

 

Outsiders1

1. Batman and The Outsiders: Batman shouted “I’ve had ENOUGH of your two-bit JUSTICE LEAGUE…from now on these are my NEW PARTNERS!!” as he quit the JLA on the front cover of one of my favorite all time comic books….Batman and The Outsiders #1.

Batman and The Outsiders 1

I was a HUGE Batman fan as a kid. It’s all I wanted to do was role play the dynamic duos adventures with my best friends. Of course Batman was a key member of the Justice League as well and I loved that he was part of a bigger team. It always seemed that the Caped Crusader was held back in the JLA…so when I heard he was quitting and making his own team I couldn’t wait to see who this new team would be! In 1983 in a special insert edition within the pages of The Brave and The Bold the Outsiders debuted! The shape shifting Metamorpho, was joined by the electric cool Black Lightning, Sword wielding Katanna, the dreamy Halo, and earth shattering Geo-Force whom along with Batman himself made up this unconventional team of heroes. I loved them…they were not mainstream but they were my Super Group! After 32 issues Batman left the group and the characters went on their separate ways. The book was never the same… The Outsiders have been brought back to life several times in many failed efforts but Batman and the Original Outsiders never reformed. (Batman and The Outsiders Vol. 2 came close!!) It was one of the lost Gems of the original DC ..one I would love to be reborn in the New52 era. Get on it DC!!

End Transmission…

 

Well..thats all folks...I would love for those who agree or disagree with this list let me know what YOUR picks are below in the comments section. My list is just that..MY LIST..it is by no means meant to be a definitive list created from years of data and opinion. Maybe you like it…maybe you dont..but you have a right to be wrong..lol. Anyways..lets not stop there…as promised the team has loaded the deck with ton more of awesome Top Ten lists..but dont take my word for it…take it away team!!

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There are plenty more Top Ten Lists to go…Please Visit the REST of the Super-Blog Team Ups Family Of Blogs!!

 

1. Longbox Graveyard: Top 10 Super-Dogs – http://wp.me/p1yye7-2IH

2. The Unspoken Decade: Top 10 Avengers Moments – http://theunspokendecade.com/2015/05/04/sbtu-presents-top-10-biggest-avengers-moments-of-the-1990s/

3. In My Not So Humble Opinion: Top 10 Avengers Sketches – https://benjaminherman.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/top-ten-avengers-sketches/

4. Legion Of Super-Bloggers: Top 10 Who’s Who Legion Entries – http://legionofsuperbloggers.blogspot.com

5. The SuperHero Satellite: Top 10 DC Comics Titles That Ended Before Their Time- https://charltonhero.wordpress.com/2015/05/04/super-blog-tea…ore-their-time/.

6. Flodo’s Page: Top 10 Green Lantern Ring-Slings …That Don’t Appear In Modern Continuity – http://flodospage.blogspot.ca/2015/05/top-10-green-lantern-ring-slings-that.html?spref=tw

7. Fantastiverse: Top 10 Avengers Greatest Super Battles – http://fantastiverse.com/ Coming Soon!

8. Mystery V-Log: Top 10 Avengers Covers – youtu.be/6cX1THVk3-k NEW!!

9. Idol Head Of Diablou: Top 10 Most Important Martian Manhunter Villains – http://idol-head.blogspot.com/2015/05/podcast-top-10-most-important-martian.html

10. Marvel Superheroes Podcast: The Top 10 Avengers (An Age of Ultron Tie-In)

http://marvelshp.blogspot.com/2015/05/the-top-10-avengers-age-of-ultron-tie-in.html

11. Chasing Amazing: Top 10 Favorite Moments Of The “Chase” – http://www.chasingamazingblog.com/2015/05/06/super-blog-team-up-top-10-moments-of-chasing-amazings-chase/

12. Between The Pages: Top 10 Wackiest DC Comics Covers –

http://betweenthepagesblog.typepad.com/between-the-pages-blog/2015/05/top-10-wackiest-dc-comics-covers.html

13. Bronze Age Babies: The Top 10 Bronze Age Characters (x2!) – http://bronzeagebabies.blogspot.com/2015/05/super-blog-team-up-top-10-bronze-age.html

14. Too Dangerous For A Girl!: Ten Best Super-Heroic Hairstyles –

http://dangermart.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/super-blog-team-up-top-ten-worst-heroic.html

15. Vic Sage Via The Retroist: TBD – Top Ten Comic Character Deaths

http://www.retroist.com/2015/05/06/super-blog-team-up-6-top-tens/

16. I’m The Gun: The 10 Best All-Star Squadron Covers!

http://imthegun.blogspot.ca/2015/05/super-blog-team-up-10-great-all-star.html

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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!