Thursday, July 27, 2017

When You Can't Afford A Name-Brand Jungle Hero!!

Do you need a jungle hero, but can't afford Ka-Zar?

Try Lo-Zar, the discount Ka-Zar!!

Lo-Zar, now gluten-free, and less filling!

Lo-Zar, for all of your generic jungle needs!!

Lo-Zar: not the pulp Ka-Zar, not the modern Ka-Zar--but an incredible simulation!

Lo-Zar: because every company needs their white Lord Of The Jungle!

Those images are from the covers Timely's Jungle Action #1-6 (1954-1955). Those were Lo-Zar's only appearances. Some of his stories were reprinted in the 70s, and they renamed him Tharn in those reprints, presumably to avoid his being confused with Kevin Plunder.

He never had a real name, or an actual origin. He was just your typical white jungle god.

If we ever get Agents Of Atlas back, maybe Marvel could include him on the team, or at least as a guest star...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Saga Of--And Apology For--The Much-Delayed Mysterious Trunk Story!!

The last panel of the lead story from Daredevil Comics #4 (1941):

Well, that was interesting. It was pretty rare in those days to get a specific story advertised in a "next issue" blurb back then. Sure, you'd get a generic "follow Captain America's further adventures against the Nazis next month." But a specific story? Much of the industry was still too slapdash and poorly organized for such advanced planning.

Well, along comes issue #5 (1941):

I have absolutely no well of telling, but I'll bet this was the very first apology to readers in a comic book! And you have to love all the mystery and portent implied as to why the promised story wasn't presented.

One month later, in #6 (1941):


Well, let's jump ahead a month, to Daredevil #7 (1942):

Hurrah!! "At last!!"

But is the story actually inside? And why the delays?

I'll tell you what--that is probably the best explanation for delaying a comic book story that I've ever seen. Sure, it's almost certainly 100% BS, but man, it sure beats "the dog ate my homework" or "it was the Dreaded Deadline Doom!"

[Also note...the caption is using the cover dates for the issues in question, not the street dates, so the story is even more transparently flimflam. Daredevil #4 was cover dated October, but hit the streets September 5, 1941...and therefore must have been produced in August, if not earlier! So the blurb that says the killer was executed in December streeted in early November, and would have had to have been written in October, two months before the first alleged stay of eexcution!! Flimflammery!!]

Of course, we are left with why the story was actually delayed in the first place. Did Charles Biro come up with a nifty title for the next issue blurb, but then find trouble coming up with the actual story? Was the story farmed out to other uncredited hands, who failed to get it done in time? Were the stories in #5 & #6 so awesome and so pressing that Biro decided he just had to print those first? [SPOILER ALERT: no, they weren't.]

A mystery that will likely never be solved...

Daredevil And The Minority Report!!

Fake news:

"Death detector"??



Well, this presents kind of a moral and philosophical quandary. Is the machine predicting/seeing the future? Analyzing a persons psychology--or soul, if you will? If it says yellow, does that mean that you absolutely can never, ever commit a murder--or is that just a reading of you now? Can you be yellow one day, but red the next when the Cubs blow a three run lead in the 9th inning?
You know how this really works? Because the newspapers told us!

Yes, the press never, ever plays up anything that turns out not to be true!! Cough. Cough.

Well, a thug murders the professor, so the device result in his being caught for murder!!

Somewhere, Professor Erskine is saying, "Join the club, Professor Roe!"

But Daredevil now has the device, and uses it to flush him out!!

Well, what happened to the device? Why is there still murder?

Daredevil, at the government's request, turned the death detector over to the FBI. And it was never, ever heard of again. Ever.

It's probably rotting in some warehouse along with the Ark Of The Covenant...

From Daredevil Comics #5 (1941)

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

That Time Lois Lane Set Up Clark Kent To Be Murdered!!

In this imaginary story, Lois Lane has married Bruce Wayne!!

Unfortunately, the Gotham syndicate has noticed that Lois is always around when Batman is, so they suspect that she knows his secret identity. So they kidnap her and proceed to give her an intensive interrogation:

Time for Curt Swan to let his freak flag fly!

Well, who could stand up to all those floating words?

Oh, Lois, thank you for setting Clark up to be killed!! (She doesn't know his Superman identity).

But wait...Clark Kent is in Metropolis! How could he be Batman?

Fortunately, criminals are a cowardly and gullible lot:

Yes, Batman commutes to Gotham every day.

Anyway, obviously Clark is in no real danger, and he and Batman thwart the hoods.

But the big takeaway here? Lois Lane is ready to throw non-powered civilians to the wolves. Way to go, Lane.

From Lois Lane #89 (1969)

Tales From The Quarter Bin--Who The Heck Is Reno Jones?!?

Western comics have never really been my thing. But I always thought I was enough of a Marvel Zombie that I had at least a passing familiarity with all of their gunslingers.

Until I found this in the Quarter Bin:

I had never even heard of Reno Jones before.

In my defense, it was an obscure title, even by Marvel Western standards, and it wrapped up before I started buying comics.

So a little history.

In 1972, Gray Friedrich and Syd Shore debuted The Gunhawks, starring original characters Reno Jones and Kid Cassidy.

The premise: Reno was a slave on the plantation of Cassidy's family. They grew up best friends (I know, I know...).

Cassidy joined the Confederate Army once the Civil War started. The Union Army destroyed the Cassidy plantation, killing almost everyone and kidnapping Reno's lover Rachel. So Reno joined up with the Confederate Army. (Yes, yes, I know).

After the war, they wandered around the country, looking for Ruth, and always just missing her, or not realizing she was there before they left, or...

As you may have noted, Marvel must have thought Reno had bigger star potential, because he clearly dominated the covers.

And then Jones dominated the entire series, as Kid Cassidy was killed! Reno was framed for the killing, and went on the lam.

Which brings us back to this issue:

Some have said that this was a Big Deal, as, to quote the Wikipedia article,
With the next issue, the series was retitled to Reno Jones, Gunhawk, making Jones Marvel's second black character to have his own self-titled series, after Luke Cage, Hero for Hire. (The Black Panther had taken over the lead in the Jungle Action series a few months prior, but the Panther's name was not included in the series' title.)
However, it was a short-lived distinction, as this was the last issue of Gunhawk. And we leave on a pretty good cliffhanger:

 And fin.

The last caption promises us that the story would be followed up:

But that was a damned lie. Western Team-Up did debut the following month...

...but Reno and his story were nowhere to be found.

That was the only issue of Western Team-Up, and Reno's story was never, ever resolved.

Until a 2000 mini-series (which I never read, as I was out of comics at the time), which retconned the Gunhawks stories as "dime store novel" version of what really happened. They were never really friends, Reno himself killed the racist Kid Cassidy, he never found Ruth, and settled down in a western town with a new wife. Until the Klan showed up, and it turns out that Cassidy wasn't dead, and he was head of the Clan, and Reno became the 2nd western Ghost Rider/Phantom Rider, and killed Cassidy for real this time.

I'd say it's surprising that Marvel never did more to revive Reno Jones, given his historical significance and the desire for more diverse characters. Then again, it was a Western title, and modern Marvel has had a best a disdainful relationship with that part of their history.

Still, if someone were to write a story establishing that Reno Jones was an ancestor of Rufus "Super Midnight" Carter, I for one would read the living hell out of it!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Manic Monday Triple Overtime--There's A Thin Line Between Billionaire Crime-Fighter And Stalker!

Before we begin, let me preface this by noting that this is one of those imaginary stories.

But still creepy as hell, nonetheless:

So, Batman not only has a shrine set up to Lois Lane, he buys gifts for her that he never gives her.

Bruce, I think you're on the wrong side of the Dobler-Dahmer line...

Still, maybe that's just standard on this imaginary Earth, as...

Superman has his own his own Lois shrine.

Maybe this is Earth-C (for Creepy).

Anyway, Lois dumps Superman for not paying enough attention to her, Bruce swoops in, and all is domestic bliss:

And so super-hero stalking pays off in the end!!

From Lois Lane #89 (1969)

Manic Monday Bonus--God Schmod, I Want My Manta-Men!!

Aquaman is checking out an odd submarine that has been buzzing Atlantis...

Manta-Men? Really?

Yes, really. And they're a much bigger threat then you might imagine... they slow-clap Aquaman to death.

Don't fret, Mera comes to save him.

Still, these Manta-Men had damn well better be in the Aquaman movie, or what's the point?!?

From Aquaman #35 (1967), as reprinted in DC Super-Stars #7 (1976)