Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tangi in the Buried City (Star Publications; 1953)

There is just enough time to squeeze in one more golden age comics post before "Go Ape Shit" Week breathes its last gasp. This particular tale comes from Terrors of the Jungle #21 (Feb. 1953) which was published by Star Publications, but the story is reprinted from and unidentified issue of Fox Comics series, Jungle Jo, from a mere three years earlier.

Tangi originally appeared in issues of Dagar Desert Hawk and Jungle Jo, however several of her adventures were repackaged by Star in Terrors of the Jungle. The GCD lists no credits for the creative team on this one, but the great Jack Kamen had illustrated a few shorter Tangi tales (and those will be forthcoming in the Catacombs). In keeping with my whole gorilla-theme for this week, at least one great ape appears in this story. You also get a glimpse at the nice cover from this issue.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: The copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Friday, January 29, 2010

"Gal" Friday! Jessica Lange

It took forty-three years to do it, but Hollywood demonstrated how NOT to remake a screen classic when producer Dino De Laurentiis released King Kong in 1976. Talk about awful, legendary make-up artist Rick Baker donned a gorilla suit to portray the "Eight Wonder of the World", but nothing could have saved this turkey of a film - which surprisingly became a commercial hit.

Crummy effects notwithstanding, the ONLY reason to watch this movie is to appreciate the smoldering sensuality of acting ingenue Jessica Lange in her motion picture debut. She was sweet, sexy, sultry and her just the right amount of girl-next-door charm, managed to lure you in, despite the goofiness oozing out of every other minute onscreen. Strangely, they opted to name her character "Dwan", I guess because she came across as a free spirit. Dwan bonded with the big ape the same way that original starlet, Fay Wray had in the 1933 version.

Co-star Jeff Bridges, still a few years away from some of his best theatrical work made it look easy to work alongside Lange. Based on his woolly appearance in the '76 film, one could say that, "even a caveman could do it". Of course, the lovely & talented Jessica went on to win two acting Oscars (and several additional nominations) after Kong premiered, but it took a few years due to the critical drubbing this film received - box office damned.

Jessica earns her spot in the Catacombs as the latest "Gal" Friday and to nicely to cap off my "Go Ape Shit" theme week. See ya next time around!

Tabu the Jungle Wizard in "The Slave Raiders" (Fiction House;1940)

Tabu, the Jungle Wizard was a super-powered jungle hero created by Fletcher Hanks, who was only active in comics between 1939 and 1941. During his brief golden age tenure, Hanks created several eclectic characters including Stardust the Super Wizard, Tabu and Fantomah (one of the first female superheroes, predating even Wonder Woman). He used several different pen names, including "Henry Fletcher", "Barclay Flagg", "Bob Jordan", and "Hank Christy". Hanks was reportedly abusive towards his immediate family, as well as an alcoholic. After eventually abandoning them, he earned some income by drawing murals in the homes of the rich. Fletcher Hanks died in February 1976; his frozen body was found by police on a park bench in New York City.

Today's final "Go Ape Shit Week" post is taken from Jungle Comics #1 (Jan. 1940). On the issues cover Tabu was misspelled "Taboo", and pay close attention because if you blink you will miss the gorilla in this story. I only selected this tale because of the bizarre life story of Hanks, since he apparently really did go ape shit, but the story is just weird as hell too.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: The copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes. Thanks for dropping by for my impromptu theme week, and please check back in later today for my regular "Gal" Friday post. She's a classic cutie who first earned her chops starring alongside a very famous gorilla, but in a wretched remake from the 1970's.


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Clibo, Congo King in "Maneuvers and Murder" (Charlton; 1955)

"Go Ape Shit" Week continues with a silver age comics classic from Charlton Comics. Clibo, Congo King was a feature in Zoo Funnies Presents Nyoka the Jungle Girl #12 (Jul. 1955). There is currently no information on this issue in the Grand Comics Database, so your guess is as good as mine on who the unknown creators were. As a word of warning today, this story requires a lot of reading since it is "heavy" on the verbiage, but this issues decent cover is also included to ease the blow.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: The copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Editorial Diatribe from the Catacombs: "The Heroic Age!"

Marvel Comics will soon be toning down grim and gritty storytelling elements and making their heroes "good guys" again in an upcoming revitalization billed as "The Heroic Age". Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada says this isn't being initiated as the result of Disney's purchase of the company, but has been in the works for over two years now.

Why is a reversion to actual "heroics" necessary in the first place? I really don't think that the guy who is most responsible for dragging the Marvel Universe down into the gutter is the best choice to take charge on an endeavor such as this and that goes double for Brian Michael Bendis, who is pegged as lead writer, after his "dark" this & that, whatever titles get cancelled or rebooted; allowing this purge to get underway.

To me this seems like an admission that their characters haven't been heroes for the past several years. They have regularly depicted top echelon heroes killing both friend and foe, including the Civil War travesty which led to Dark Reign, and they've also routinely, ramped up adult sexual elements in what was originally an entire fictional, all-ages universe.

In an odd way this reversal also makes poor business sense. Joe Quesada has hinted for some time now that Marvel would take their heroes to a really dark place before finally pulling them back again. What kind of half ass strategy is that? First chase away readers who don't like a darker, more mature Marvel Universe, and then risk turning off all of the newer readers who DID like it AND actually stuck around for the new status quo by shifting back, yet again.

Quesada has presided over a decade in which Marvel basically abandoned their established concepts, characters, and creative talent; then handed the reins over to a small handful of creators who disdained the old order. I like the work of a few current Marvel staffers and support their efforts, but I would prefer to see both Quesada and Bendis move onto other projects or companies, hell even Hollywood - since they both seemingly respond to that kind of stuff much more than comics.

My own feelings on what is more representative of Marvels true "heroic age" is summed up in the John Buscema illustration that accompanies this rant, but any number of Marvel artists work between the companys 1961 debut and on into the late 1980's (or perhaps even the very early 1990's period) would suffice.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Congo King (Green Publ.;1946)

Yesterday, I had a wild hair moment and decided to run golden age jungle comics stories until Friday, and then just cap off the whole week with an appropriate & sexy "Gal" Friday selection that ties into my spontaneous "Ape Shit Week" theme.

My only prerequisite was that each story feature a gorilla somewhere within its pages. This tale comes from Green Publishing's Atomic Comics #4 (Jul-Aug.1946), starring their also-ran Congo King character. The really nice artwork is credited to "Taylor Tibett" and that's about all the info that I have folks. Jack Kamen provides the non-ape cover, which is provided as a bonus.

The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: The copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Marga the Panther Woman (Fox Comics; 1940)

I had a hankering to post something a bit weird today and this classic comics story certainly fits the bill. There are super-scientific elements present, an assortment of wild jungle beasts, a hidden fortress, plus misspellings and unusual coloring errors; just your average pulp-inspired golden age romp. Marga the Panther Woman is a fairly obscure character from the ranks of Fox Feature Syndicate.

Marga and her boyfriend, aviator Ted Grant are captured by Uchunko, who believes himself the rightful ruler of the jungle. He intends to drive all white men out of his domain, by first throwing Ted into a deep pit and then ruling with lovely Marga at his side. However Marga quickly shows why she is also known as "The Panther Woman". She escapes, rescues Ted, and all too suddenly the two fight their way back to civilization, knowing that Uchunko is still out there plotting his next move. This tale is very typical of its type, with an obviously capable female protagonist who just as often plays second banana to the tacked on male boyfriend, who almost seems to be the lead character.

The artwork on this golden oldie from Science Comics #2 (Mar. 1940) is by Emil Gershwin (signed as "James T. Royal"). The Catacombs is grateful to Don "Zu-Gogo" Falkos for providing the scans for this story. Note: The copyright for this issue, its contents and artwork belong to the original publisher and/or creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Rayboy's Review: Booster Gold #28 (DC Comics)

I wasn't happy to hear that writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis and penciler Chris Batista would be taking over DC Comics Booster Gold series in a few months. I figured "if it ain't broke, why fix it?' I guess they're just "going ape shit"! Fortunately I managed to locate an interview with Booster Gold creator Dan Jurgens, that revealed that Jurgens is merely going on a temporary hiatus to unwind and tackle another project. Jurgens will be back on Booster, and not too soon for me.

Still, even with only a precious handful of issues remaining before the creative switch gets thrown, Booster Gold #28, which features Part 1 of “The Tomorrow Memory”, disappointed me a bit. The story isn't bad, with Rip Hunter sending Booster & Skeets back to the moments just before Coast City got nuked in the wake of the Death of Superman, in order to prevent the assassination of Hank Henshaw. You may remember that Henshaw was the astronaut who became the Cyborg-Superman (and the very culprit behind the destruction of Coast City and the deaths of its citizens). The new time traveler who appears from the future to kill Henshaw vanishes, through no fault of Booster's, just as he arrives to put the kibosh on that effort.

Apparently with the titles involvement in Blackest Night, Jurgens and Norm Rapmund needed a little assist completing the art for this issue, and despite their steady hand being apparent in the layouts, John Stanisci gets the credit for finished art. At the very least, I would have to say that the end result is so-so. I really don't look forward to the creative team swapping out, and would have preferred that another artist be tasked with taking up the reins from Jurgens. They could have limited Giffin & DeMatteis to their upcoming "Generation Lost-style" revisitation of Justice League International too, but whatever.

Bwah-hah-ha; here we come again!

The Blue Beetle back-up feature takes the politically-correct version of the character into new territory. The rebooted reveal that the scarab that has bonded itself to Jaime Reyes is a mechanism of an alien race known as the Reach, left on Earth in ages past to help invade the planet, serves as the impetus for this story. It seems that Jaime has been drawn back to the middle eastern country of Bialya, where Dan Garrett (two "Beetles" ago) originally found the scarab that eventually gave both of them their superpowers. Perhaps the latest Beetle should have paid more heed to his worried friends, who have noticed the changes he's been going through recently, because the Reach programming reasserts its influence over the new Blue Beetle transforming him into full conqueror mode by tales end.

Sorry, while this seems interesting and all, I'm a Ted Kord kinda guy, so "nuts" to the new Beetle - maybe some other hero will take him out permanently.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

1980's Flashback: The Blue Beetle

DC acquired the Charlton Action Heroes in the mid-1980s, and used their Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover event to integrate them all into the DC Universe. The Blue Beetle who had originally been created by Steve Ditko first appeared as a back-up feature in Captain Atom #83 (Nov. 1966), but the character also had his own series, written by Len Wein, which ran for 24 issues from June 1986 to May 1988. A story in Secret Origins #2, explained the origins and careers of both Ted Kord and Dan Garrett (the golden age version) as the Blue Beetle in the post-Crisis continuity.

Ted Kord was an industrialist and owner of Kord Industries; after his mentor Garrett died in battle, Kord continued his heroic legacy as the Blue Beetle, but without Garrett's powerful scarab, relying instead on his scientific know how to wage war on crime. Kord's signature equipment was his bug-shaped personal aircraft, which he entered and exited typically with a cable suspended from the cockpit. He also eschewed personal weaponry, except for a pistol that made a blinding flash of light and a strong air blast to gain the advantage when he closed in for hand-to-hand combat.

Although his solo series was fairly short-lived, the Blue Beetle probably became best known as a wisecracking member of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis's lighthearted, five-year run on Justice League International, where he was memorably partnered with fellow hero Booster Gold, and the two quickly became best friends. Among fans, they were known collectively as the "Blue and Gold" team.