Hey, you know Steve Ditko, the guy who co-created Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Squirrel Girl, the Creeper, the Question, and the Ted Kord Blue Beetle? Well, at some point Ditko took a headfirst dive into the philosophy of Ayn Rand - and the Objectivism-spouting vigilante Mr. A is that particular passion of his given ultimate comic book form.
I’ve never expended much effort trying to track the stories down, but a friend of mine did, and… well, they’re about as subtle as a packet of Chick tracts, except they star a guy wearing a Destro mask and a matching pair of oversized steel mittens. Still, I can’t fault the sense of graphic design on display here; if ever there was an artist born to draw men in business suits punching the hell out of gangsters and/or abstract philosophical concepts, it was Steve Ditko.
(Amusingly, this exact page was later parodied in an issue of DC’s Ambush Bug, but “Corrupt” was replaced with “Pittsburgh.”)
(Also amusingly, spell-check thinks “Objectivism” is a typo.)
Original splash page art for the Mr. A story “Debaters,” first published in Comic Crusader #4 (1968). Scan taken from Heritage Auctions.
Front and back covers to Lev Gleason’sBoy Comics #9, with starring hero Crimebuster (and his monkey) taking center stage. The man with the bloody bear-trap mouth is Iron Jaw, Crimebuster’s arch foe, and if you look at the full-size version of the cover, you will see that HIS EYES ARE TINY SWASTIKAS. Iron Jaw has NAZI VISION. (Okay, okay, it’s probably just dramatic license…)
I can’t speak as to anything regarding He-She, having never actually read any Crimebuster stories. … also, not really sure what to make of the Junior Air Raid Warden Kit.
Daredevil Battles Hitler might be my favorite comic cover of the 1940s, and is in my upper echelon for comic covers in general. I mean - just look at that thing! Art by Charles Biro and Bob Wood, says here, though I suppose you could argue Alois and Klara contributed, too. I’d never actually seen the back cover until I put this post together, so was unaware of all the other Lev Gleason Publications heroes shilled there.
To my surprise and relief, this summary says Real American Number One was an actual Native American hero/attorney, not just some white guy who decided to dress up for vigilantism. Can’t vouch for the stories myself, of course, but they’re there to download. No need to feel guilty about getting ‘em, either, as everything Lev Gleason published is now in the public domain.
Pictures ganked from a completed auction on the Heritage Auctions website, cropped/Photoshopped to dispense with the plastic clam-shell the issue now resides in.
In 1993, Topps Comics relaunched Jack Kirby’s Silver Star as a miniseries under the auspices of writer Kurt Busiek and artist James W. Fry. Though the series was canned after only one issue, Busiek has revealed that he planned to pit the hero against an army of 1,000 supervillains - many of whom he and Fry managed to conceive, reportedly reaching somewhere in the upper 800s before the ax fell. Here is a two-page spread from that first issue, showcasing just a few members (relatively speaking) of that planned awesome army of evil.
While I’m amused by the flying catwoman - who I’m pretty sure Busiek has said is actually named Kittyhawk - take a closer look at the pink blob to the left of the Lightning Lady. Yes, Silver Star just barely avoided the terrible might of a Barney the Dinosaur/Godzilla crossbreed! Oh, the horrors…
Don’t fret too much over Busiek and Fry’s seemingly wasted efforts, though; apparently a number of their unused ideas ended up in Astro City. Whether any of the characters here are immediate predecessors to Astro City villains, though, I couldn’t say.
Dear friends of Superman: please buy rock that will kill him. Love, novelty companies.
What makes this particular ad even better is that I scanned it out of a Marvel comic, though I can no longer remember what one it was. I guess if a comic publisher would take money from the guys selling “x-ray specs”, they’d take it from anybody…
Ōgon Bat, a golden quasi-mystical being with a skull for a head and a terrifying laugh, is considered to be Japan’s first superhero, having been created by traveling storytellers called kamishibai in the 1930s. In the 1960s, he received an anime, whose intro - not uncommonly at the time - was sung by a men’s chorus.
I seriously wonder whether he’s in the public domain by now, because there is nothing about him that is not amazing.
So it turns out that Cleveland, Ohio has its own superhero! Unfortunately, he seems to have zero regard for public property and has black, soulless pits for eyes (but Jim there doesn’t appear to have any eyes, either, so I guess that part’s okay). I can’t imagine a lot of supervillains make their way out to Cleveland, so I suppose becoming a shill for a correspondence school is one way to earn a living. Assuming they don’t take busted walls out of his paychecks.
I have no idea what I scanned this out of anymore, but I think it was an early ’80s Marvel comic.
Defenders of Dynatron City was a LucasArts project that, as far as I can tell, was dead on arrival. It produced a handful of comics, a single animated pilot episode, and a mediocre NES game I could maybe sometimes get to the second level of. I don’t know anything about its development beyond those facts, but the reason I didn’t completely disregard the property to the dustbin of history was sparked, of all things, by childhood frustration.
As a kid living on Guam, I saw ads for the pilot’s special Fox Kids airing a few times, and got super excited because ANIMATED SUPERHEROES I’D NEVER SEEN BEFORE! However, due to the time delays and schedule shuffling inherent in watching TV on a Pacific island in the 1990s, I never actually SAW the pilot, despite looking for it in the local schedules. Many years after the fact, my memories of this annoyance led to me tracking down the show’s release on VHS tape (though I can no longer remember where I got it from).
This was probably not worth the effort, but I must admit the non-CG animation in the pilot is surprisingly nice, having been done by the same studio that animated “Heart of Ice” for Batman: The Animated Series. Plus, it was written by Bob Forward, of Beast Wars story editing fame, and features the voices of Gary Owens, Tim Curry and… Whoopi Goldberg? Huh. Anyway, you can watch the whole thing at Veoh.