When last we saw our stalwart treasure seeker, he was riding the subway, reading comics which he had found in the discount bins at a comics convention a beer bottle’s throw from the Asbury Park boardwalk.
What tawdry tales did he thumb through while riding the rails to and from work? What four-color fictions fed his fancies? Read on, if you dare!
This tasty morsel was a giveaway from Carvel Ice Cream stores. A class visits their local Carvel store on a field trip, and, with the help of their favorite treats brought to life, learn how healthy ice cream can be, and tasty!
(Yes, my class did visit a local dairy on a field trip. It was your typical food factory… lots of liquid and sanitizing, pipes going all over the place… like a tour of a beer brewery (which I also did on vacation a few years earlier) and as exciting for a kid. Meaning, no, no samples of ice cream, or cheese, or even a glass of milk. My brothers, they got to visit the potato chip factory as part of the Cub Scouts, but not me. No, I’m not bitter. At least, not like Dominique Corsaire.)
The book also contains a certificate page, which can be filled in by the attendee and framed. The artwork is pretty good, the pedantic stuff isn’t too blatant, there are lots of activity pages, and there are even some 1972 ads on the inside and back covers. The cakes are mentioned, but they don’t talk like the ice cream treats. Maybe they are being saved for issue two?
The first story, featuring the bedtime story titled “Revenge of Rusting Reptiles From Outer Space(!)” features the Titans dealing with a secret ancient cache of alien robot dinosaurs. (Lessee… 1986… Dinobots appeared in 1984… yeah, I think Hasbro might want to read this issue.)
Marv Wolfman makes a uncredited cameo. What is most interesting, at least to me, is that Wonder Girl wears leggings, but as a step-mother, wears an extremely short tennis skirt.
The rest of the annual showcases the origin of
Baron Brother Blood. Jesus and Hitler are involved. It seems that BB is a cross between Ra’s al Ghul and Doctor Doom. “Brother” because the original BB was a monk who went bad. There’s a father-child curse, which makes one wonder why he doesn’t practice birth control. Maybe that’s part of the curse as well?
This one really caught my eye! A Marvel title, perfect bound, but unknown to me. So I flipped open the cover. Published in 1993. The only credit I recognized was Richard Starkings, the letterer. Then I had an epiphany! A simple bit of text at the top, a non-logo: “Nelson”. This was part of a short lived partnership between Marvel and Thomas Nelson, the religious publisher! The line didn’t do too well… I found copies of “In His Steps” and “The Screwtape Letters” (with an introduction by Neil Gaiman!) at a remainder bookstore. There were about eight titles all told. (Someone should reprint the Screwtape Letters… the cartoony adaptation works really well!)
This book isn’t too bad… it doesn’t mention Jesus Christ until more than halfway through, there’s no conversion, and our hero remains doubtful at the end of this issue. There are two more issues before it was canceled. Marvel owns the rights, so they could relaunch it. This issue takes place in Nashville, so there aren’t any other superheroes involved.
$3! Signed by Jackson Guice! #2409! Collect them all! This issue, with a die-cut cover and poster, features the appearance of The Eradicator, the grim-and-gritty version of Superman, who killed almost everyone on Krypton. (Wait… how did DC retcon the soil sickness with the “New Krypton” storyline?) Mile High Comics currently lists it at $0.75 (fine) to $7.20 (near mint). No certificate of authenticity.
Metropolis hosts an exhibit of the Star Sapphire gem and costume. Lois Lane reports, and borrows the replica costume, which includes a tiara with the actual gem! The other gem is a fake! Meanwhile, a suicide bomber is drinking at the Green Lantern bar (no, not this one), wearing a vest of nitroglycerine. Clark Kent, in a helicopter, spots the crook, and hits the emergency ejection seat, rocketing him and his seat-mate outside! (Yeah, it’s a helicopter. Even if the motor fails, the blades will allow it to land safely. And why would you passengers control an ejection seat? Especially if the seatbelt isn’t fastened? Or you’re being initiated into the Mile High Club and make a misstep while dancing the horizontal mambo?) Superman battles the crook, while Carol Ferris, another passenger in the helicopter, looks on. Green Lantern? Her Sapphire personality begins to manifest! Superman is battling Green Lantern, she sees! Superman kills Green Lantern (actually, he knocks out the crook)! And, VOILA! The Magenta Mistress is back! Hotcha!
Lois Lane returns to the Daily Planet, Clark spots the Sapphire costume, and turns the table on Lois, insinuating that she is, in reality, Star Sapphire! But then the sapphire begins to hover and leave the room! Clark chases it and runs into a transformed Star Sapphire! Superman can’t fight her, she’s a girl! But Sapphire can beat Superman, placing the star sapphire necklace around his neck! He is powerless, under her control (just like that night he spent with Wonder Woman and her magic lasso!) Lois sees all this, and puts on the fake costume, confusing Superman! Who should he obey? Lois tricks Superman and Sapphire, causing the necklace to fall off! Sapphire grabs the gem and vanishes, and Superman thanks Lois, for a change! Carol Ferris returns to normal the next day, and a newspaper front page tells of Green Lantern’s exploits in outer space, lifting an unknown sorrow from her mind. (Geez… how many female split personalities existed back then in the DC Universe?)
Not much of an annual, this. The New Mutants attend a rock concert, Cannonball falls in love and gets kidnapped, the villain turns out to have a heart of gold, and nobody dies. Sam Guthrie does get a little kinky, wearing some leather punk gear to the bedroom, but nothing happens, except that Doug Ramsey saves the day. By pushing the right button. (I wonder if his powers work on those “some assembly required” manuals from China?)
Even before the recent retcon in AvX, Lila Cheney retained her power, although she didn’t appear much in recent issues. She still owns that Dyson shell, so perhaps it will feature in upcoming storylines.
No, Superboy is not really a girl. Or Freddy Freeman. It involves Kal-El’s parents in suspended animation, but surrounded by kryptonite. I won’t spoil it for you, but the story does involve Pa Kent. I don’t recall this being part of Superman’s history, and there are quite a few holes in the story. It doesn’t seem that much of a tear-jerker, or a big secret.
An enjoyable comic. There’s a bio about Alan Shepherd, some fun single page gags, and lots of adventure stories with kids. Most notable is “Chuck White and His Friends”, penned by Matt Christopher, who is best known for his juvenile sports fiction, and illustrated by Fran Matera, who worked on numerous adventure strips. (Matera actually drew all the features in the test issue of Treasure Chest in 1959.) The book ends with a six-page biography of Matthew Henson, who explored and discovered the North Pole with Robert E. Peary.
Not much preaching going on, just good wholesome fun.
Galactus shows up in the MC2 universe. (Earth-982, for those keeping track.) A great cliffhanger, as Galactus decides to take a rest stop before devouring Earth…in Asgard. It was collected, but I musta blinked.
Eight pages. No origin, just a brief prologue. He did get a one-shot from Dark Horse that same year. Not a bad hero, although they would need to create the video games from which he gets his abilities.
(Love that title coloring!) Readers get a two-page spread of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, as Kal-El brings Lois on a private tour (that sly dog!) Lois, of course, notices a big steel door with a “VISITORS PROHIBITED” sign. Via memory tape, we soon learn the sad story of Captain Althera of Vrandar. Her ship has enslaved the primitive natives of a jungle planet to mine ergonite to power her planet, a matriarchy! Superman spies on these galactic amazons, learns their nefarious plans, and protects the natives, all the while slowly falling in love with the captain. The same fate befalls Althera, as her heart battles her mind, conflicted.
Superman rescues Althera from a trap set by the primitives, proving his valor and suitability as a mate! Kal smacks her with a super-kiss, unknown to her people! But then she removes her helm, exposing a head covered in plumes! Her ancestors were bird-people! The love they feel…it cannot be! They are of two different species! Again, Althera is overcome with a new emotion, as she discovers the power of tears.
Superman mines the ergonite, and the Vrandarians promise to leave the primitives in peace. As the spacecraft lifts off, a lone plume flutters to the ground, the sole keepsake of a star-crossed romance! That lone feather, that is what remains locked away, deep in the heart of Superman.
The back-up story features Superman visiting a fortune teller, and receiving “The Credit Card of Catastrophe”! All I will say, is that Superman raids Fort Knox to make a payment!
The second story features Skipper and Barbie leaf peeping in New England, spending the night at a 200-year-old inn. They get the Presidential Suite, named because a First Lady slept there. The owner doesn’t know which one, and Barbie and Skipper retire to bed, Skipper reading about First Ladies, Barbie reading about presidents. Skipper falls asleep, and dreams of Barbara Millicent Roberts elected President. The mystery is solved by a bookmark left in the book. Who was it? Two clues: she was the First Lady, but the second wife; she was a de facto President.
Sharp-eyed readers will note the unique make of convertible that Ms. Roberts is riding.
I will admit, I bought this for the cover! Is that Alan Moore? Did Marie Severin really do the cover? That’s an amazing style!
The first story is written by Roy Thomas and Marv Wolfman, drawn by Marie Severin in her delightful cartoony style! It’s a satire/parody of EC Comics, so it’s familiar ground for her!
The next feature, “Tarz an’ the Apes!” is written by Roy Thomas, and drawn by sibling superstars Marie and John Severin! Jane swindles Lord Greatstroke outs of his estate. Tarz heads back to his homeland, but soon discovers that Africa has shed the yoke of colonialism, and even the jungle animals have unionized! So Tarz takes the only job left… joining other has-been jungle lords as porters for Shafty, a local.
Finally, we come to “Brawl in the Family”, drawn skillfully by Henry Scarpelli and written by Stu Schwartzberg. Artie can’t stand all the weirdos partying at his house, so he fantasizes about appearing in the funny pages, handing out advice to Charlie Brown, ordering Terry Lee at the Pentagon, and working a hippie protest with Dick Tracy. But it gets worse, as Artie soon finds himself caught in a series of Herblock editorial cartoons! Artie rouses himself from his daydream, and decides that Meathead’s friends aren’t so bad after all!
I had to buy this. First, because it has never been collected, and second, because this is just one of the most epic, bizarro, amazingly screwy stories ever written. (Who else out there would contribute to a Kickstarter project written by Bill Jemas and drawn by Dave Sim?)
Rush Limbaugh appears, but not his appearance. Peter David is badly written, but nicely drawn. Iron Man appears, but doesn’t look like Iron Man. There’s a Batman analog, but he’s never named. The Black Panther shows up as well. Rush Limbaugh magically appears and defeats all three with a golden microphone. Matt Murdock appears at the precinct station. Later, Spider-Man and the Punisher show up to help the main characters battle the Kingpin. And we discover who the Kingpin of Crime is.
Somewhere in my comics stash is the issue where they meet God. I believe that’s issue five.
I used to find these in the back issue bins back in the 1980s, a bargain! They were reprint mags, but featured early Silver Age stories. This one features Fantastic Four #18, Tales of Suspense #53 (Iron Man), Strange Tales #122 (Dr. Strange), Tales of Suspense #52 (The Watcher), and The Incredible Hulk #6!
What’s interesting about my copy is that it is stamped on the cover:
Somehow, this comic traveled from the United States to South Africa, and then back in 44 years! At some point, it was owned by “Marge” (her name’s on the cover, in ballpoint ink). There’s no foreign price stamped on the cover, so it might not have been a newsstand copy (or the newsstand had a weekly calculator to convert U.S. prices).
Remember those religious comics I mentioned earlier? At the same discount store, I found the trade paperback collection of this series. Yes, it was produced on a Macintosh in 1985, one year after the computer debuted. The special was produced on MacPaint, and I’ll let someone identify the typeface. The “first” issue was produced on MacDraw, and was printed on a LaserWriter, so the fonts are more rounded. Both issues are hand-colored.
Funny… the thumbnails look quite good… you can’t see the pixels.
Another “premium” comic I like to collect. This issue introduces Cir-El, one of the more interesting Supergirls! Here’s the reveal from the last panel: sexy, tasteful, and enigmatic. (Sorry about the cropping on the thumbnail, that’s the computer’s doing. Click for a better image.)
And here’s another… an unofficial Free Comic Book Day preview from Daystar Studios Entertainment. According to the Grand Comic Database, this is the only issue the company published. (Nope… “The Quest” appears on eBay.) Two brief previews, plus sketches and in-house ads. The website doesn’t work anymore. It looks like they are publishing e-books now.
Thus ends my prospecting and perspecting for now. I’ll be back in about two weeks, with my finds from the New York Comic Con! I’ve got some specific series I’d like to find, like more of the Marville issues, Steelgrip Starkey, and the “hot tub” issue of Sword of the Swashbucklers! Plus the usual zen craziness of Schroedinger’s longbox. OH! I almost forgot! One of the Bullpen Bulletins mentioned a Harlan Ellison story! Chamber of Chills #1! (Yeah, I read those pages… all sorts of good stuff!)
Found anything good lately? Share below!
I’ve been writing for The Beat since July of 2010.
I’ve been reading comics since 1974, collecting since 1984, and spreading the graphic novel gospel since 1994.
I’m a bookseller, a librarian, an amateur scholar, a cool uncle, and a comics evangelist.
Ask me anything!