The Mystery Men of January part 3

I realised on Friday that I’d missed out some super-heroes who had Janauary debuts from my previous posts. (This comes of jotting down ideas in a notebook I subsequently grabbed to use in school. I am hoping to be better organised this term.)

The first time I ever saw Mr. Terrific was when I was a primary school child, on the cover of a Double Double Comic, lifted without a blurb from this issue:

I bought this from Comics Showcase in London in 1982

Since he was fighting the Flash and I’d heard of “Greensleeves”, I decided he was called “Greenspeed”. I also called the Thing “Coal Man” before I could read…

Terry Sloane, who ran for some 60 issues of Sensation Comics (thirty or so fewer than stablemate Wildcat)  made some cameo appearances in JLA/JSA summer Crises but never did anything remotely memorable until he was a murder victim of the Spirit King in the late 70s. He just seemed like a more garish Batman.

I’ve never read any of his Golden Age adventures and am more familiar with the modern iteration, a mainstay of the JSA for about a decade now, who even appeared in Justice League Unlimited (voiced by Michael Beach from one of my all-time favourite US shows, Third Watch) . I was sorry-but unsurpised- to read that the New 52 Mr. Terrific title is “on the bubble”. Michael Holt  is one of the most inspirational  heroes of colour and one who doesn’t have a criminal past; I’m just not convinced he has enough of a fan base to support a solo series.

I think I first glimpsed the Forever People in an ad inside.

Nightwing and Flamebird were the crime-fighting guises of Superman and Jimmy Olsen in some of my favourite (and beautifuly drawn) Kandor stories. It’s such a logical and delightful idea: Superman admires and respects his friend’s methods enough to adopt them when he’s without super-powers. In a charming Imaginary tale, the sons of Superman also briefly became the Dynamic Duo of the Bottle City.

The team was later revived in the Bronze Age as Kandorian Kal-El lookalike Van-Zee and his son-in-law, the ex-Phantom Zone crook Ak-Var.

In the mid-to-late 80s, of course , Titan Dick Grayson became the best-known character to adopt the Nightwing mantle; the original Bat-Girl, Betty Kane, was renamed Flamebird.

About three years ago, however,  Chris Kent, the son of Zod and Ursa and Clark Kent’s foster son (!) teamed up with a pyrokinetic as a new Kryptonian Nightwing and Flamebird.  Of course in the new 52, Dick is Nightwing again.

 Moondragon, the bald, telepathic priestess in the revealing leotard and high-collared cape, is one of my favourite Bronze Age Avengers. She was introduced as geneticist Madame MacEvil (!) in an  early 70s  Bronze Age Iron Man story and went on to guest- star in Starlin’s cult Captain Marvel. It was as a guest in Daredevil, however, that I first encountered her. She went on to have a periodic membership of the Avengers but her self-proclaimed goddess status led her to become an antagonist.This team-up with Spidey was one of my earliest comic memories from high school and depicts Heather Douglas at her best.

I like to think her striking visual was the inspiration for Star Trek’s sensual and tragically short-lived Lt. Ilia.  After doing penance as a member of the quirky New Defenders in the 80s, Moony has been killed and resurrected at least twice. Her portayal as an egotistical, manipulative bisexual hardly seems like the Rising and Advancing of the Spirit that Englehart would have crafted. Nonetheless, she’s a spicy character who adds ferment to a group. Maybe one day, someone will return her to her groovy Bronze Age glory.

Next: The Super-Moby Dick of Space!

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners and are reproduced her for puposes of nostalgia and comment.

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