The Mystery Men of June part six !!

My word! There’s so much material to review here and on Some Fantastic Place this summer! Spider-Man and the Jackal; the X-Men’s Hidden Years; Storm vs. the Dire Wraiths; the White Tiger; and at least four extra 100-page Super-Spectaculars.

July is already shaping up to be a landmark month for Mystery Men: a Justice Society mainstay,  a pair of iconic Sixties heroes, a Legion sextet, two Gothamites, two Titans, a mystic master, a prince, a vampire hunter, an exorcist, a zombie, an android, two feline females and an entire  race of cosmic beings!

Meanwhile, June’s still bustin’ out all over:

The Question

Aside from a  Denny O’Neil Detective Comics annual in the late 80s, my only exposure to Ditko’s Objectivist hero was in a couple of issues of the Johnny DC  title above. The taciturn Question is, of course, the inspiration for the Watchmen’s trench coat vigilante, Rorshach. Even in a kid-friendly title, Vic Sage was portrayed as something of a paranoid conspiracy theory nut.

More recently, Gotham detective Renee Montoya took over the role of The Question. The FCBD sampler suggests the Question is some kind of supernatural entity. Pity; if the Justice League took the more urban noir direction I think it needs, there would be a place for a faceless, Hispanic lesbian.

Wildfire
An early-70s addition to the LSH, created by Dave Cockrum and Cary Bates. As we can see below, originally this Legionnaire had a well-worn name:

Making his début as Erg-1, (Energy Release Generator) Drake Burroughs was a familiar Legion trope: the mystery, masked Legionnaire.  He was also a hero in the Marvel mode:  agonizing about his bodiless condition, volatile and confrontational, in a doomed romance with winged tracker/noble savage Dawnstar.  After the 5YL reboot of the late 80s, Wildfire was off the radar for many years.  Like many of his more interesting team-mates, the energy being is featured in the spinoff Legion Lost series. I hope Brad Meltzer’s  theory about being a rebuilt Red Tornado has been lost too.

Mantis

Thanks to the vagaries of US imports at the height of Marvel UK’s output, I completely missed out on the saga of the Celestial Madonna until b/w reprints in the late 70s.

Mantis made her début as the partner of the reformed Swordsman. An ex-prostitute trained in martial arts by Kree priests, she rejected the swashbuckling klutz and made the Vision the target of her affections.  It was ultimately revealed that she had been selected to give birth to a messianic hybrid plant/human.  There’s a kind of grindcore genius in Englehart taking the Kung Fu craze and giving it a headshop twist: the plants become us and we become the plants. Whoa! Heavy.  Brian Bendis uses the voice of Hawkeye to poke fun at Mantis in the  Oral History of the Avengers with references to her “Diva thing ” Harsh.

Mantis, of course, is significant because she turned up at the Direct Competition  in the late 70s in the guise of Willow in the JLA :

…and at Eclipse Comics as Lorelei in Scorpio Rose. But then Englehart brought her back to Marvel as the Surfer’s paramour in 1987, after an abortive adventure where we met Sprout, the celestial child coveted by Kang, the Construct and the alien Cotati.

Mantis returned briefly to the West Coast Avengers and guest-starred with the FF but with Englehart’s departure from Marvel, the Madonna vanished again also for almost a dozen years.  Nearly a decade ago, she finally consummated her relationship with the Vision and we met the maturing Celestial Messiah, the rebellious Quoi.

A face only a mother could love.

Most recently, Mantis was a member of Marvel’s revamped Guardians of the Galaxy but I rather think her story would make a great Avengers movie sequel: a nubile martial artist defending her child against an army of death-worshippers from outer space? Can you dig it?

Global Guardians

This team was named in the issue above but had first appeared in the kid-friendly Super Friends title in 1977. E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon created some iconic international heroes including:  Green Fury, a Brazilian employee  of Bruce Wayne , who went on to become known as Green Flame and FireJack O’Lantern, a magical hero from Ireland in the Green Lantern mould; Little Mermaid, an aquatic mutant from Denmark ; Godiva, a member of the New 52 Justice League International; Rising Sun from Japan, of course; Norway’s Icemaiden  and Australia’s Tasmanian Devil.

Other, perhaps less memorable  international heroes included  Olympian, Bushmaster from Venezuela, Wild Huntsman from Germany, Impala, Thunderlord from Taiwan , Owlwoman and  the bizarre Tuatara from New Zealand.

Green Fury and Jack O’Lantern  were regularly featured in SF as was Seraph, a Biblical hero from Israel.

As a character with the symbolic weight of a Superman, I think this Hebrew hero might be a more daring selection for a super-team than big, gay Alan Scott…

Contest of Champions

This project was originally conceived as an Olympic special. When the USA subsequently pulled out of the Moscow Olympics, the material was revised and re-issued as one of the earliest mini-series. Not only did it list every super-hero then in existence at the House of Ideas, it mimicked DC and introduced a slew of international superhumans.

The newcomers included my favourite, the Aussie mystic Talisman;  China’s  Collective Man; Ireland’s Shamrock (who later became an unlikely ally of the original Guardians of the Galaxy), Argentina’s Defensor (replacing a character called The Ocelot) , Le Peregrine from France and the uninspired Blitzkrieg, who sounded a bit too Nazi for my liking.

I don’t think many of these heroes ever progressed to anything more than cameos and guest appearances. Even Talisman was superceded by an aboriginal character called Dreamguard. Somehow, these international Marvels just didn’t have the weight of the Bridwell/Fradon creations.

Static

Milestone was an early-90s independent imprint within DC (co-founded by the late Dwayne McDuffie) which focused on urban, minority heroes. Milestone’s gritty, modern answer to Peter Parker went on to star in his own animated tv show, rather overshadowing Black Lightning. Four years ago, Static became one of the Teen Titans and was relaunched in his own comic last year.  Despite being cancelled very recently to make way for the Second Wave of the New 52, I suspect Virgil  will be back.  If I were the writer of the Justice League, I think I’d select Static before BL.

Superboy

The Teen of Steel I knew from 50s Smallville and the Legion of Super-Heroes fell in battle in the late Eighties. This  snarky adolescent clone  was introduced after the infamous “Death of Superman” and set up shop in Hawaii- an unusual locale for a DC series. Later revealed to have genetic material from Lex Luthor, Conner Kent died fighting the psychotic Superboy-Prime but was then subsequently resurrected. With his USP of non-Kryptonian tactile telekinesis, I’m surprised the Kid’s never been a JLAer.

Coming soon: The Sportsmaster, The Cavalier and King Peeble IV.

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The Mystery Men of June part five

The days dwindle down apace and it’ll soon be July. Pressures at work mean I am way behind with posts but today I want to look at a super-team who relaunched one June a couple of decades ago.

I’ve been thinking about the icons of DC and Marvel over the last couple of days: Spidey, Cap, Wolvie, the Surfer; Supes, Bats, Hal’n’ Ollie, Selina… But there are other iconic super-heroes to whom I was introduced in b/w reprints from the Alan Class stable: the Mighty Crusaders.

Alan Class comics have become highly collectable but in the early 70s, I considered them a poor substitute for Marvels and DCs. They were always a random mix of Marvel, Charlton, Tower and ACG strips but they introduced me to Fly Man , Fly Girl, the Hangman and the other Crusaders.

Black Hood’s colourful garb replaced by an ominous Dark Knight outfit

In the early 80s , the success of the X-Men and DC’s team books New Teen Titans and Legion of Super-Heroes paved the way for Rich Buckler’s relaunch of The Mighty Crusaders.  He folded in Kirby’s Lancelot Strong and a new heroine, the mysterious and vampy Darkling.

I went on to pick up a few of the Mighty Comics originals at comic marts but was now very conscious of Jerry Siegel’s corny and blatant imitation of Stan Lee’s self-mocking bombast.  The hen-pecked Web is certainly unique (if ridiculous) but the campy dialogue was unbearable.

The Crusaders returned nearly a decade later when the !mpact comics line made its DC début in 1992.  Aimed at younger readers,this was a collectable  new universe (ahem)  with colourful and cartoony heroes, Mike Parobeck’s Fly being my favourite. Unfortunately, the line folded after barely a year.

In 2009, the Shield, Hangman, Inferno and the Web were re-introduced as characters in a typically grim-looking new DC imprint, the Red Circle. I never sampled it so I have nothing to say on the subject.

Happily, the Crusaders have been relaunched by Archie Comics once more as an all-ages title, including revamps of  the Web, the Comet,  Fireball,  Fly Girl, the Shield and Steel Sterling. I hope this digital-format venture is successful and that these heroes charm a whole new audience.

Other Mystery Men who made their first appearances in June include Black Orchid and Blue Devil– again, since I’ve never read any of their stories  I’ll pass on them this time. However, I did read a couple of late 70s issues of Shade, the Changing Man.

A surreal, other-dimensional rebel, Rac Shade made his début at a time when I was less  receptive to Ditko’s idiosyncratic work. An alternate version was a member of the New 52’s Justice League Dark but that title didn’t make a favourable first impression on me.

I was similarly disenchanted with Roy Thomas’ pulpy Young All-Stars in the late 80s, especially his unlikeable  POV character , Iron Munro. The cursed Fury was interesting but, although I persevered for the first six months, in the end I drifted away from this  meandering All-Star Squadron spin-off and eventually so did everyone else.

One young all-star who did have some longevity was the second Star-Spangled Kid, later known as Stargirl. This perky heroine was a mainstay of the Justice Society in the last decade and gained immortality as one of the handful of JSAers who appeared on tv in Smallville. I’d like to see Courtney restored in the pages of Earth-2.

There is a new Kid Flash in the New 52 but the most recent was the teen superhero with ADD: Impulse.  I’m sufficiently old enough to think KF is a better brand but I also think that there’s room for light-hearted, even downright comical super-heroes (neatly returning us to the New Crusaders!)

Coming soon: more 100-page Super Specs and later this year, Tabloids and Treasuries!

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The Mystery Men of June part four

For the fourth post in this month’s series, let’s revisit a familiar location in my blogs: Rothesay on the island of Bute, in the summer of 1975…

This was the last summer holiday before I went to Secondary School and my first visit to Bute. My abiding memories are of the radio: Barbados by Typically Tropical, Jive Talkin’ by the Bee Gees and Come Up and See Me by Cockney Rebel; walking our dog Lucky in the Skeoch Woods; and this sultry newspaper image of everyone’s favourite distaff Avenger:

I also bought this paperback on arrival  because I had already read most of James Blish’s ST books:

The cartoon series must have been shown in 73-74, I think. I certainly remember thinking that this novelisation of the animated adventures seemed more sophisticated but, with hindsight, they were probably less economic and stylish.

This was still a period of scarcity for Marvel comics and the era of DC’s 100-page-reprint was pretty much over. The Distinguished Competition rallied by publishing a line of pulpy heroes similar to those launched by Marvel, with varying degrees of success, a few years earlier. This line included a boy caveman title, Kong, and a very loose adaptation of Beowulf. Number One issues were very rare in my experience so with slim pickings on the island, I was drawn to this book:

I still think Justice Inc. would be a great title for a publication from the Justice League stable. The eerie impersonator know as the Avenger was a chillier, less patrician version of the Man of Bronze.

In one sense, a pulp adventure hero was an unsurprising choice. Although Marvel’s colour Doc Savage series had been abortive, a b/w magazine was launched to cash in on George Pal’s film.

Also, on the paperback spinner in the ferry terminal, I had glimpsed this book, indicating the extent to which the heroes of the Thirties were keyed into the Nostalgia craze that dominated early-70s Pop culture in the US.

I read two further adventures of the Avenger in the next six or seven months. They were pencilled by Kirby, whose dynamic, urban style suited weird adventures in Art Deco New York. They were among the last work The King did for DC before returning to Marvel for Captain America, 2001 and The Eternals.

I have vivid memories of this four-month-old issue of Kamandi, with a vision of Canada overrun by giant insects.

At the showery conclusion of the holiday however, I got this comic in Port Bannatyne, I think, as we left the island:

Stalker is a collaboration between Paul Levitz, Steve Ditko and Wally Wood. It’s the grim tale of a boy’s quest for vengeance and the terrible price he is willing to pay. With a debt to Moorcock’s Elric, the demonic hero is more akin to a medieval Son of Satan than Marvel’s Conan or Kull.

No  Sword and Sorcery comic book is complete without a map:

I only read one more issue-the second- as part of a grab-bag from Lewis’s in Glasgow around 1978 or 79. In those days, I found Ditko’s pencils cartoony and simplistic (!)

The third title of the Adventure wave was one I wouldn’t sample until early ’77:

Claw was a smorgasbord Sword and Sorcery title. The late Ernie Chan pencilled a Buscema Conan-clone and David Michelinie threw him into Moorcockanian cosmic adventures. I liked the early Keith Giffen pencils on this title but I would only purchase two more issues. Claw went on hiatus then returned -with a map! (My S5 boys were raving about Tolkien today- the appeal of fantasy maps is deathless.)

I only got one further issue before it succumbed to the DC Implosion, although, apart from The Warlord, it was the longest-lived of the Adventure line.

Subsequent visits to Rothesay in the last decade have never recaptured the pulpy thrills of that sweltering summer, nearly forty years ago, although the town is largely unchanged.

I will be returning to the 100-page Super-Spectaculars in the near future but some recent ebay purchases have changed the order of posts. Stay tuned!

Coming soon: The Mighty Crusaders

All images are copyright of their respective owners. (Paintings by Nicola Jones)

The Mystery Men of June part three

This afternoon’s post looks at DC super-heroes introduced in the Sixties in the month of June:

Mon-el:  I’ve always found the Legion’s Daxamite member a great big dullard. Introduced as “Superboy’s Big Brother”, the Phantom Zone exile has died a couple of times and in various reboots has gone under a couple of different sobriquets. It hasn’t made this Legionnaire from the stiff, militaristic Forte era any more interesting.

In the 90s, when there was no Superboy connection with the Legion, Lar Gand was known as Valor and even had his own comic.  Then he appeared in the Archie Legion as M’onel. Most recently, he was a 31st-century Green Lantern. His Adult Legion role as a one- man space patrol always seemed to be a logical one: his finest hour in the Bronze Age being a duel with an Imperial Starship in “Mon-el’s One Man War”.

Doom Patrol: This team of alienated misfits often seemed heavily influenced by Marvel’s X-Men and most especially the FF. The early issues featured  elegant European art, which gave the adventures of a  mummy, a sarcastic robot and a giant in an Alice band a sombre quality. Their 60s stories became increasingly wacky and campy (as above) but came to a  startling end when the team were apparently all killed in an explosion.

The Bronze Age Showcase  revival was inspired by Marvel (particularly the New X-Men) with its international cast and its Cold War flavour. Robotman remained the one constant through all the (many) subsequent revivals of the team: a manic, sardonic Ben Grimm.

Re-launched in the late 80s, the predominantly-espionage series became cartoony superheroics.

Mentoring a  sub-team of young outcasts (Lodestone, Karma and the naive Scott Fischer), the DP was  based in  Kansas City, making it the  first super-team of the American Mid-West.

Grant Morrison’s 90s version of the DP was an unsettling exploration of Surrealist art, occultism and landscapes of mental illness. It was memorable for the MPD superhuman, Crazy Jane.  Unfortunately, I found the comic eventually became  self-indulgent and incomprehensible .

John Byrne rebooted the DP in 2004 for a short-lived run, restoring the original freaks, adding some unappealing new kids (Nudge, Grunt and Vortex) and a grisly new origin for the Chief ; I  didn’t read Keith Giffen’s 2009 take which ignored Byrne’s version.

It seems to me that what the audience wants is simply the iconic,  original team of freaks; any attempts to bolster that roster with “edgy”, young characters seems “doomed” to fail. There’s more than a whiff of the DP in Monsters vs. Aliens too…

Teen Titans: I missed most of the  go-go hepcat tomfoolery of the original Titans title but I can admire the stylish simplicity of teaming up the young teen sidekicks. I came aboard in the Gothic Romance period when the Titans was all about esper Lilith and caveboy Gnarrk. The story above, from that era, is a hybrid of Romeo and Juliet and The Hunchback of Notre Dame!

I was in my mid- teens when the Titans were revived for a kitschy run of adventures in the mid-70s. I think it was Silver Age fan Bob Rozakis who unleashed the deathless Bumblebee and Harlequin on an unsuspecting world. The New Teen Titans was something of a reaction to that period – but that’s a story for another time.

Blue Beetle: Ditko’s Charlton mash-up of Spider-Man and Batman. I found him irritating and redundant as one of the many, many “comic” characters in the smug Justice League International titles of the late Eighties. Nonetheless, his Marvel-esque origin by Wein and Kane is one of the purest super-hero comics of the era and is a great favourite of mine.

Inferior Five: a Sixties parody title which often poked fun at Marvel heroes (or in the case above, pulp heroes such as Tarzan). The team itself was made up of the offspring of a parody of the JLA. It was years before I realised the book’s title was a play on Fantastic Four! I also think there’s more than a little of Woody Allen in Merryman. It would be marvellous to see a revival of this title.  If ever DC needed pomposity and pretension punctured, it’s surely now.

Having started with a boring Legionnaire, let’s end with a triptych of my favourites, who all made their début in the same issue, alongside alchemist and infiltrator, Nemesis Kid ( the name didn’t give it away?).

Princess Projectra is a combination of Grace Kelly and Cinderella. Initially something of a hothouse flower, over the decades Jeckie has become one of the most tragic Legionnaires and one of the steeliest.  Remodelling her as the regal, enigmatic Sensor Girl,  however, Levitz made a nonsense of her powers: distance itself  is hardly an illusion although one’s perception of it can alter.  Interestingly, the story of her spiritualist ability has never been developed.

Ferro Lad had a very brief career, terminating in young Jim Shooter’s first Fatal Five storyline. Conceived originally as the first black Legionnaire, he became the first member to die in action permanently- although his ghost haunted the original hq and the masked mutant’s twin would join the Adult Legion.  A  second Ferro starred in many of the  Legionnaires titles of the 90s, rather dimming the impact of his predecessor’s sacrifice. Did you know Colossus of the X-Men was created as a revamped version of Ferro Lad?

Karate Kid was the only non-powered Legionnaire. With his backstory of revenge and murder and his love of flower-arranging, Val was one of the most high-profile Legionnaires of the late Sixties, quickly ascending to the leadership role. He was also the first to spin off into his own solo title – a late entry in the kung fu craze of the Bronze Age. Three iterations of KK have appeared since the first died in battle in the 80s- none became consort to Projectra but one succumbed to the Morticcocus virus in Countdown. A fourth was glimpsed in the revived Adventure Comics over a year ago but hasn’t appeared since.

Coming soon : Mystery Men part four- All the Young Dudes

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The Mystery Men of June part 2

Tonight’s instalment features three of the most iconic characters in the DC canon. Characters that are probably recognised worldwide and by people who have never seen a comic, much less read one. Let’s begin with the sine qua non of superheroes…

Superman: I’ve chosen a cover to represent one of the earliest Superman stories I can remember but I have no idea when, exactly, I first discovered the Caped Kryptonian. I certainly remember the Sixties cartoon series, which introduced me to the Clark-Lois-Daily Planet set-up. It always seemed more authentic to me to the media representations that followed:  the kitschy Americana of the Seventies; the screwball comedy of the Nineties; and the teen soap of the Noughties.

Superman gradually lost his pole postion to Batman and other “badass” characters over the last forty years. Even in my childhood, Kal-El was a space-faring hero with godlike powers but his foes were all goofy, balding men or sprites.

A brush with relevancy and Kirby Kozmic in the Seventies was quickly replaced by a return to traditional whimsical, sedate superheroics.

John Byrne “Marvelized” Superman in the Eighties and the Man of Steel had an infamous (temporary) appointment with the Grim Reaper in the Nineties. Most recently, a overly-rendered suit of space armour and a wink to the character’s working class origins have stirred up some interest in yesterday’s Man of Tomorrow. He may not be the hero comics readers want but I think he still may be the hero they need.

The Joker:  I miss the days before the Crown Prince of Crime became a virtual  force of nature and the poster boy for every kind of deviant behaviour and barbarity you can imagine. It’s actually quite enervating. It would be very daring to tell a story where the Joker committed a crime without some kind of ghastly mutilation as the centrepiece.

My Joker is Cesar Romero- or on a particularly dark day,  Jack Nicholson; Heath Ledger’s emo terrorist just seemed overblown and pedestrian to me.

Catwoman: making her début in the same issue as the Harlequin of Hate, Selina Kyle is about to ride again in the third part of Christopher Nolan’s painfully self-regarding Batman trilogy. Having starred in her own series since at least the early 90s,  the ambiguous and amoral Princess of Plunder is DC’s biggest female star, beside Wonder Woman. Here’s one of my favourite 80s iterations of the Bat, the Cat and the Clown:

Boy Commandos: probably my second-favourite Fourth World reprint strip (after Sandman), this wartime spin on the kid gang motif  has the edge on charm and drama over its contemporary, the Newsboy Legion.  As I’ve said before, an international band of teenage boys fighting Nazis sounds like a movie smash to me.

Captain Comet: I think I read one or two dull 50s adventures of the mutant Adam Blake in DC Super-Stars of Space. He seemed a complete dud until he became the protagonist in Secret Society of Super-Villains. Even here though, Gerry Conway relied on Marvel tropes to revitalize Comet: mental powers from the X-Men combined with a less-emphatic version of Captain America’s “Man out of Time” dilemma. Nonetheless, I  was always surprised that Conway didn’t add him to the League circa 1978.

In more recent years, Jim Starlin guided Comet through some cosmic adventures about religious fanaticism. It does sound a bit like a retread of Warlock, however.

Atomic Knights: another series from DC’s Silver Age of Sci-Fi and again, one that I knew from 70s reprints of Gigantic Strange Adventures. The post-apocalyptic series about a chivalric band of atomic war survivors, mounted on their giant dogs, was at least a decade ahead of its time. The Knights re-appeared in the mid-70s as guest-stars in the shortlived Hercules series, above.

Leading man Gardner Grayle also had two subsequent superhero revivals.Firstly, the Atomic Knight had a very brief tenure as one of the Outsiders in the late 80s

and a retroactive role as another one-shot Shining Knight in DC’s Silver Age event in 2000.

Coming soon: The World’s Strangest Heroes?

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The Mystery Men of June

How time flies! Here we are in the middle of the Jubilee Holiday Weekend already. I have a werewolf and The World’s Wickedest Worm coming up in the Super-Spec reviews. But first, it’s  time for this month’s initial Mystery Men post, featuring the first appearances of four Avengers and Dracula’s daughter!

Dr. Druid: I only vaguely recall the mystic adventurer Dr. Droom from Alan Class reprint comics in the 70s. When he returned as Dr. Druid in a Hulk-tastic guest role, I was quite intrigued then promptly forgot him again. Joining the Avengers in the 80s, after the Under Siege storyline, Druid seemed like a diluted version of Dr. Strange. In fact, it was eventually revealed that he was  the Ancient One’s back-up in case Stephen Strange didn’t work out as his disciple.

When Walt Simonson disassembled the Avengers in the late 80s, he made Druid the pawn of the villainess  Kang Nebula. Druid seized mental control of the team and fell badly from grace. Marvel de-aged him but he was later ritually murdered by the Son of Satan as the Goth Era of Marvel became ascendant in the early 90s.

Sadly, for badly-balding men with thickening waists, Dr. Druid remains  one of the most unpopular Avengers of all time.

The Wasp:  Janet Van Dyne was a member of the Avengers ( as one half of “Giant Man and the Wasp”)  when I first discovered them in Power Comics. These were their squabbling, conflicted Don Heck days. For most of my teenage years, she was a flighty heiress; a clotheshorse playing at superhero. Then the tragic fall of Yellowjacket propelled the pixieish heroine into an assertive leadership role for most of the 80s.

Unfortunately, her story  ultimately became Hank’s story: the coldly logical route to redeem Hank was for him to become Janet’s avenger and she was killed at the end of Secret Invasion. However, I’m sure this foolish and gimmicky turn of events will be reversed some day- it’s comics.

The mutant Janet from the Ultimate Universe was also a  victim of domestic abuse and, more notoriously, was eaten by the corpulent Blob. Another modern comics triumph.  If the Wasp is featured in the Avengers sequel, I think they may go with the Ultimate version, for her Asian ethnicity.

Ares: the hypermasculine Avenger and Dark Avenger was originally introduced in Kirby’s Thor stories as a shifty, villainous type, like Prince Byrrah or Loki. I was very surprised to see him lumbering around as a Bendis-era Assembler when Hercules had seemed such an obvious choice. Ares was a modern Conan the Barbarian, like Hawkman in the Justice Society. Then of course he was ripped in half by The Sentry, in one of the most grisly and inexcusably sensationalist sequences in modern comics.

Luke Cage:  Sweet Christmas! I read about Cage in Foom for two or three years before I ever read any of his comics. The issues I started with were the poetic, urban melodramas of Don McGregor, drawn by Frank Robbins. I found them a bit too challenging  but became a little more interested when Power Man initially teamed up with Iron Fist.

Although I’ll probably never be a passionate Cage fan, one the biggest achievements of the Bendis Era of the Avengers is to make me accept him both as a member and as their leader. I can’t see him appearing in the movie sequel however since he may be too similar a character to Nick L. Fury.

Lilith: I also first read about Lilith in Foom: probably issue 8.  She sounded illicit and thrilling; a vampire character who drank blood for fun. I actually first encountered her in an X-Men annual while I was on holiday in That London in 1982.  She was drawn by Bill Sienkiewicz who was still imitating Neal Adams at that point.  Whereas DC’s Lilith was a Gothic Romance heroine -cum-Go go chick, Marvel’s version is a disembodied spirit cursed to hunt down her father, Count Dracula: a blend of Satana and Deadman. Her over- the- top slinky bat-outfit is like something Fenella Fielding would wear to a Blackpool disco in 1979

In the next instalment, we’ll be discussing three of the most iconic DC characters of all time. Any guesses?

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