Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fantomah in "Mundoor and the Giant Reptiles" (Fiction House;1940)

Here is one more classic golden age adventure from Jungle Comics #5 (May 1940), to help whet your appetite for "Strange Terrors" the theme which kicks off tomorrow and continues throughout the entire month of October as the Catacombs celebrates Halloween.

This story is written & illustrated by Fletcher Hanks [signed as “Barcley Flagg”]; discovering the eggs of giant reptiles on a fallen asteroid, the evil Mundoor raises the reptiles in an attempt to take over the world in "Mundoor and the Giant Reptiles", starring Fantomah, Mystery Woman of the Jungle. This odd tale was later reprinted in You Shall Die by Your Own Evil Creation! (Fantagraphics, 2009 series). The bonus front cover is by the late, great Will Eisner.

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 the creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

In Memorium: Tony Curtis

Oscar-nominated movie star, Tony Curtis has passed away at the age of 85. Curtis is best known for romantic leads in humorous movies or dramatic films such as Some Like It Hot, The Defiant Ones, Sweet Smell of Success, Operation Petticoat and Spartacus.

Since this is a comics-oriented blog, the Catacombs would also like to salute Mr. Curtis for a few choice genre roles in classics like Houdini (1953), The Purple Mask (1955; sort of a Scarlet Pimpernel role), The Vikings (1958), The Boston Strangler (1968; pictured above-top), The Persuaders (1971-1972; TV series), The Manitou (1978), and The Mummy Lives (1993).

With his first wife (the late Janet Leigh) Curtis was the estranged father of actress Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween).

The Catacombs extends its heartfelt condolences to his family, friends and many worldwide fans. They just don't make them like Tony Curtis anymore!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Dr. Voodoo in "Battle on the Cliffs" (Fawcett;1941)

Today's golden age story is yet another classic giant-monster battle to help set the stage for next months "Strange Terrors" Halloween celebration right here in the Catacombs.

"Battle on the Cliffs" stars Dr. Voodoo (who is not the current poser using that name over at Marvel). This story which was Part 6 of something called "The Golden Flask Quest" is from Whiz Comics #22 (Oct. 1941); originally published by Fawcett Comics and drawn by legendary artist Mac Raboy.

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 the creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


From the Dust Bin: The Power Company

The Power Company was a team of superheroes-for-hire in the DC Comics universe. The team first appeared in JLA #61, (February 2002) and subsequently starred in a series that ran for eighteen issues between April 2002 and September 2003. The characters were created by Kurt Busiek and Tom Grummett.

Josiah Power was one of America’s best lawyers before the Invasion mini-series (DC Comics; 1989), following the untimely public activation of his metagene in the court room (due to the activation of the Gene Bomb). Power had little interest in becoming a traditional costumed superhero, but it became readily apparent that he could not continue to practice law without undue public attention. He capitalized on his business experience to organize a for-hire team of heroes along the lines of a law firm. Their very first mission as a team was against the East Asian criminal organization known as the Black Dragon Society. They successfully defused a hostage situation initiated by the Society and returned to their base of operations.

The members also included Manhunter (Kirk DePaul) a mercenary clone of original Manhunter Paul Kirk (deceased); Skyrocket (Celia Forrestal) a former Navy officer who inherited an energy-manipulating Argo Harness from her murdered parents and she was recruited to enhance the credibility of the Power Company; Witchfire (Rebecca Carstairs) a magic user and popular star of film and pop music videos (who discovered that she was actually a plant based homunculi); Bork (Carl Andrew Bork) a reformed villain, who was the team's gentle giant; Firestorm the Nuclear Man (Ronald Raymond) briefly joined the power company, but left before the end of the series; Sapphire (Candace Jean Gennaro) an underaged runaway powered by a psycho-reactive alien gem called the Serpent's Egg which appeared to tap her latent telekinetic abilities; Striker Z (Daniel Tsang) a former Hong Kong stuntman turned human battery and superstrong martial artist. A major supporting character was Silver Shannon - Josiah's personal assistant and former lead singer of "The Maniaks" (a fictional rock band that appeared in Showcase #68 (May 1967; they were created by E. Nelson Bridwell and Mike Sekowsky).

Monday, September 27, 2010

Superpowers for Real!

Today's news item about a "real-life" Iron Man suit was timed especially to coincide with the release of Marvel Studios' Iron Man 2 on Blu-ray and DVD tomorrow. The new robotic suit called Exoskeleton (XOS 2) – released by Raytheon Company – is lighter, faster and stronger than its predecessor, yet it uses 50 percent less power. It enables its wearer to easily lift 200 pounds several hundred times without tiring and repeatedly punch through three inches of wood.

Raytheon is developing the robotic suit to help with the many logistics challenges faced by the military both in and out of battle. Repetitive heavy lifting leads to injuries, orthopedic injuries in particular, instead, the XOS 2 does the lifting for its operator, reducing both strain and exertion. It also does the work faster. One operator in an exoskeleton suit can do the work of two to three soldiers. Deploying exoskeletons would allow military personnel to be reassigned to more strategic tasks.

This report reminded me of a recent story about an invisibility cloak made from silk, and coated in gold. The new metamaterial, as invisibility cloaks and their ilk are technically called, only works on relatively long terahertz waves (a region of the electromagnetic spectrum between radio and infrared light), but the scientists who developed the technology think that silk could work as an invisibility cloak at much smaller wavelengths, even in the visible range.

The research by Tufts and Boston University scientists could lead to a wide range of optically unique materials for use in biomedicine or defense. Silk-based invisibility would also allow doctors and radiologists to cloak various organs or tissues and see through them, getting a better image of the organs or tissues usually hidden behind.

Now if only the rest of us could get a crack at some of this cool stuff without being labeled terrorists by homeland security police? [XOS 2 photo (above; left) copyright Raytheon]

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Auro, Lord of Jupiter in "The Monstrosity of Death" (Fiction House;1942)

This classic golden age adventure starring Auro, Lord of Jupiter is from Planet Comics #20 (Sept. 1942); originally published by Fiction House. The story is written by Dick Charles and illustrated by Rafael Astarita. The pulp-style front cover is drawn by Dan Zolnerowich. In this saga, horror and destruction threaten Auro's adopted planet of Jupiter as the towering villain Moti attacks our intrepid, sci-fi/jungle hero. Once again, there was no clear title listed for this story, so I plucked one from the opening paragraph on the splash page.

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 the creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes. Given the "monster" of this fine tale, please consider this week's post a precursor to next weekends kick-off of the Catacombs month-long Halloween celebration dubbed "Strange Terrors". See you then and enjoy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

"Gal" Friday! Rachel Weisz

Rachel Weisz hit it big with her portrayal of Evelyn "Evy" Carnahan-O'Connell in the films The Mummy (1999) and The Mummy Returns (2001). She has appeared in several other genre films including Constantine, The Fountain and she provided the voice for the dragon "Saphira" in the fantasy film Eragon.

Of course, Weisz won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the 2006 Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress, and the 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for her work in The Constant Gardener.

This photo of her is very reminiscent of the heyday of Hollywood's glamor period and she looks really stunning in the image, so for grabbing my attention this week, for being a sexy British lass and for her fun string of genre films, she earns a place in the Catacombs as this weeks official "Gal" Friday selection.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Mighty Avengers from 1970's (F.O.O.M.)

Occasionally I realize that backlogged stuff really accumulates in the files, and although I had intended to post a comics story today, the one that I pulled would have been an unfortunate repeat. My bad!

As I pondered how best to respond to this gaff, I noticed lots of old items that were in the queue, so no story today. Instead here's a look at some scans of artwork by the late Dave Cockrum. These portraits of "The Avengers" were originally presented in an early issue of "F.O.O.M." (aka Friends of old Marvel), the publishers in-house fanzine during a portion of the 1970's.

I apologize for the poor quality of the scans, since some of the copy bled through from the backside of these pages. As you can see on the Mantis/Swordsman piece, at some point I was trying to clear some of this up.

Oh well, it's still cool artwork by the prolific Cockrum who was one of Marvels premiere "go to" cover artists of the Bronze Age. Dave also drew several incredible issues of Giant-Size Avengers (all of my mint copies are tucked safely away in the Catacombs).

I have to admit that as much as I'm enjoying the current "Secret Avengers" series (which features a team lineup that's loaded with bronze age members), I really miss this particular period of the Mighty Avengers history. Cap/Thor/Iron Man, along with Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Vision, Mantis & Swordsman really were the best Avengers ever.

Take a gander and "enjoy"!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Who Are The Zeroids?

"Lost in space for half a century, the ZEROIDS have returned to protect the people of Earth in our greatest hour of need. Armed with extra-terrestrial technology acquired during their travels among the stars, these five amazing machines are all that stand between the Shadow Raiders of the Black Nebula and the total extinction of the human race."

Based on the classic 1960's line of Ideal Toys robots, this new Moonstone Comics series, The Zeroids is written by Aaron Shaps and illustrated by Craig Henderson. If sci-fi thrills are your thing then this new title is chock full of robot-smashing excitement, dangerous aliens, flesh-eating zombies and smoking hot sorority babes.

Ed Catto & Joe Ahearn have licensed this property to Moonstone from their Captain Action Enterprises and Ed has kindly provided the promo photos that accompany today's post. Check out the cool image of three original "Zeroids" toys along with a seasonal Christmas ad from the Swinging 1960's (lower; right). The lovely computer-generated character test for "Destiny" is pretty sweet, too. Heck, she could almost qualify as a "Gal" Friday selection.

Ed & Joe seem to be firing all guns with their collective efforts on Captain Action, Savage Beauty and The Zeroids. Makes you wonder what else they'll soon have in the pipeline.

Pick up a copy of "The Zeroids" from Moonstone Comics and give it a try.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

"The Event" which "Wasn't"!

On Monday night NBC debuted their highly-touted new series "The Event" and I've gotta tell you, it really wasn't much of an .... event.

What it seemed like to me was a misguided ripoff of "LOST". I mean do the math. Flashbacks, an airplane in distress, passengers disappearing, people held against their will in a remote location and hints of supernatural phenomena. Yeah, that sounds like "LOST" to me, too.

Now add in more shady characters acting under duress, shadowy government agencies with secrets to keep - at all costs - and implied conspiracies. Sorry, it still sounds too damn much like "LOST".

Honestly, how this cliche-riddled waste of time earned so much advance hype is beyond my understanding. Plus the show is packed with actors that I detest. I've never liked Blair Underwood or Laura Innes in anything that they've appeared in. Now I can add Jason Ritter to that short list as well. I have occasionally liked Bill Smitrovich, Scott Patterson and Zeljko Ivanek in other roles, but in this case each seems cast in roles that will make them unlikable from the outset.

You know there was an "event" last night, but it occurred after the show was over when I immediately reported to the bathroom in order to purge myself of the gut roiling bile that this crummy pilot left me with. I refuse to commit to another round of endless seasons of slowing unfolding mysteries, especially when last years far better genre-bending television series has already tilled this particular soil, so I won't be watching a second more of "The Event".

On another note, CBS rebooted and re-imagined "Hawaii 5-0" was a real crowd-pleaser with all my buddies. I enjoyed the original series and didn't know what to expect from this new effort, however I was pleased with the opener and not at all put-off by how the character dynamics were changed. Hawaii 5-0 is one to watch!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Coming Next Month in the Catacombs!!

Here's a bit of a heads up for my regular customers. For October 2010, I'm going to highlight "Halloween-themes" by revisiting a few features from the same time last year. That means that during October you will be treated to weekly "Icons of Horror" posts with this years set focusing on classic horror authors instead of film actors and for the entire month of October my regular "Gal" Friday featurette will host a bevy of scream queens to thrill, chill & seduce you.

I'm currently culling some cool golden age jungle comics posts that will add to the festivities, plus some bizarre-hero stuff that will help set the appropriate mood for the annual witching season. There will be a neat series of "1980's Flashbacks" focusing on 1980's scif-fi/horror films and other groovy tricks and treats.

I don't know about you, but I for one, can't wait until the Halloween night premiere of AMC's "The Walking Dead" (see photo; left) based on Robert Kirkman's popular Image Comics series.

Plan on spending at least a bit of your haunting time in the Catacombs next month and I'll try and make it worth your trouble.

Bungle in the Jungle!!

"Jungle love, it's driving me mad! It's making me crazy, crazy. Jungle love, it's driving me mad! It's making me crazy."

Steve Miller is the doctor of love after all, and apparently he accurately diagnosed Frank Cho way back in the 1970's in his classic tune, "Jungle Love".

I saw this teaser image over at Mr. Cho's forum and just had to share it with those hardy souls who frequent the Catacombs. Cho says that this is a "new" creator-owned character that he's planning on introducing for the French market. Now in case you missed it, look once more. Does this "jungle" girl" look decidedly different than any other "jungle girl" that Cho has made his post-Liberty Meadows career on? No, I didn't think so either.

If an otherwise talented man like Frank Cho was ever in danger of becoming a perpetual one-note wonder, then I would have to say that he is knock-knock-knocking at the door with yet another indistinguishable jungle girl project. French market be damned, this is getting ridiculous. Shanna the She-Devil = Jungle Girl = etc.

Frank, lay the loin cloths to the side for awhile and at least try drawing something different, please.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Red Panther in "Red Panther's Danger" (Fiction House;1940)

No doubt you've noticed that I didn't prepare a "Nedor-A-Weekend" feature as planned. I blame it on Rio, so instead you get to see this golden age tale which was on standby. "Red Panther's Danger", my own title suggestion (since no official one was listed in the Grand Comics Database) was originally published in Jungle Comics #3 by Fiction House in March 1940.

The script is credited to Taylor Martin and Arthur Peddy illustrated this adventure, although the fine cover was done by the great Charles Sultan.

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 the creators and is reproduced here solely for entertainment purposes.


Two from the Gutters!!

Hello friends!

I frequently receive interesting emails, excellent freebies and curious participation offers from random folks who happen upon my meager efforts here in the Catacombs. Alas, I've never scored tawdry invitations from hot females, but I keep my fingers crossed nonetheless (bound to happen someday).

One recent link request came from Ripley, webmaster of a new "Good Girl" art-themed site called (he says not to be put off by the name, please), but I've gotta tell you that the site lives up to its name. This group of upstanding comic book-aholics are very well educated in Golden Age material, particularly GGA of a fetishistic bent.

If you'd like to see some amazing pics, or participate in their forum hop over to the left hand side of this page and click on "Spanking Panels" in my links section.

Adam Park also contacted me a few days ago and suggested that his recent article “10 Futurama Inventions that Should be Real” would appeal to my loyal audience. Here's the link to Adam's neat article if you would like to take a quick look.

Thanks to both of these guys for sharing with the Catacombs!