Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Yet Another Lost Opportunity by Dave Goode

Yet Another Lost Opportunity by Dave Goode

For my money the best Superman feature film made was the first. SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MEN was released on November 23, 1951 and starred George Reeves as the caped crusader from Krypton and Phyllis Coates as Lois Lane. This flick led to production of THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN television series. A series that holds a special place in the hearts of many a Silver Age fan boy. With the success of the television series there was some talk of a sequel to SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MAN. But it wasn't to be. Instead after the second season of the series, in which Noel Neill replaced Phyllis Coates as reporter Lois Lane there were several compilation movies made from episodes of the series with new bridging segments. Of course Noel Neill was the first live action Lois Lane appearing in Columbia's two Superman serials SUPERMAN (1948) and ATOM MAN VS. SUPERMAN (1950). Both serials starred Kirk Alyn as the Man of Steel and his alter ego mild mannered reporter Clark Kent.

The cool thing about ATOM MAN VS. SUPERMAN is that it featured Superman's arch enemy from the comic books, Lex Luthor portrayed by character actor Lyle Talbot. Sadly Talbot never got a chance to reprise the role on the television series. More's the pity. But the truth is the television show's half hour format was too limiting for a villain of Luthor's magnitude. And I'm sure no one wanted to see Luthor just appearing as someone working for a crime boss. But what if that sequel to SUPERMAN AND THE MOLE MEN had been made. Might not criminal scientist Lex Luthor have been Superman's antagonist in such a movie? Just last week I had a dream in which I was watching such a flick with Luthor performing experiments on gorillas. Increasing their strength a hundred fold and outfitting them with mind control helmets to do his bidding. Insert your own story line to fit your tastes.
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Brothers by Another Mother....and Father as Well by Dave Goode

Brothers Of The Spear was a comic book feature that first appeared as a back up in Dell's Tarzan No.25 (Oct. 1951). Created by writer Gaylord Du Bois and artist Jesse Marsh it told the story of Dan-El (no relation to Kal-El) and Natongo. They were two African kings whose kingdoms had been usurped. The two swear an oath of brotherhood and the first years of the series is spent with the heroes trying to reclaim their respective kingdoms. Russ Manning would take over the art chores on the feature in Tarzan No.39 (Dec. 1952) and stayed til the run in the back of Tarzan in 1966.

What made this jungle adventure series so unique was that Natongo and Dan-El were a pair of black and white adventurers who were equal partners. Something you readily find in today's popular culture. But was special for it's day. This remember was a time in American history when the Civil Rights movement was just beginning. In adventure flicks of the period you might find a black man. But he was regulated to sidekick status. A few years earlier it was as a comic sidekick embodying just about every negative minstrel show stereotype you could find about black people.


Some time back someone suggested to me a casting for a Brothers Of The Spear movie in the 60s. Ron Ely as Dan-El. And as Natongo, World Heavyweight Boxing Champion Muhammad Ali. I thought that inspired casting as that Ali had a similar physique to that of Russ Manning drawn heroes Tarzan and Magnus, the Robot Fighter.


















Another good choice for Natonga would have been Rafer Johnson who was on the same United States Olympic Team (1960) as Ali then known as Cassius Clay. Decathlon champion Johnson was no stranger to jungle adventure movies having played the villain in the Mike Henry Tarzan movies TARZAN AND THE GREAT RIVER (1967) and TARZAN AND THE JUNGLE BOY (1968).


Below is a new Golden Adonis comic by Dave Goode and Vance Capley featuring Pharaoh Love, the Bronze Hercules.

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Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Audie Murphy: Real and Reel American Hero by Dave Goode

Audie Murphy
Real and Reel American Hero
by Dave Goode
For years I've referred to Audie L. Murphy as "The real Captain America. Hold the Super-Soldier Serum". But I knew him first as a western movie star. It was in high school while telling a friend about an Audie Murphy flick that I had just seen. And he mentioned that the slightly built, baby-faced cowboy star was the most decorated combat veteran of World War Two. I would later see the movie TO HELL, AND BACK where Murphy would play himself in the Universal movie production based on his best selling autobiography. I learned how he was rejected by the Marines, the Navy, and the Paratroopers before the Army accepted him. He wasn't old enough to vote. Three years later he still wasn't able to vote. But when he was discharged from Uncle Sam's service he had been awarded every medal the United States of America gives for bravery and valor. Including the Congressional Medal of Honor. Still I'll always remember him as a western movie hero.

There really is no such thing as a less than entertaining Audie Murphy western. He really wasn't a great actor. But Universal Pictures put him in movies that played to his strengths. Five of my favorites were RIDE CLEAR OF DIABLO (1954), RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL (1958), DESTRY (1954), GUNSMOKE (1953), and DUEL AT SILVER CREEK (1952).

I always thought that last film should have been titled SHOWDOWN AT SILVER CREEK. It would have given it a more western feel. In it Murphy plays a gunfighter known to friends and enemies alike as the "Silver Kid". Watching this movie back when I was twelve or thirteen it got me to thinking that Murphy might have been good playing Marvel Comics western hero the Rawhide Kid. What do you think?















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Speaking of cowboys, Vance Capley is drawing a cowboy! 




Tuesday, August 27, 2019

THIS POWER UNLEASHED by Dave Goode









It's funny. I started writing this week's blog about "Cap's Kooky Quartet". The second team of Avengers who just about no one would consider "Earth's Mightiest Superheroes". I even had my buddy Vance Capley draw a Judo League of America cover to go along with it. Then I got to thinking how much more I liked the team when Giant-Man and the Wasp returned. Especially when the editorial staff changed Giant-Man's name to Goliath. You see I've always liked the Silver Age Hank Pym.








Hank Pym first appeared in a seven page story in Tales To Astonish No.27 (January 1962) titled The Man In The Ant Hill. This was the cover featured story plotted by Stan Lee, scripted by Larry Lieber, penciled by Jack Kirby, and inked by Dick Ayers. Geez Louise! All those guys working on one seven page story! The story appeared to be one of those many one-shot Atlas/Marvel sci-fi horror tales that were featured in anthology titles like Tales of Suspense and Strange Tales. This one had generic research scientist and judo expert Henry Pym using himself as a guinea pig in an experiment and shrinking to the size of an ant. He escapes several dangers before restoring himself to normal size.
Hank Pym would return eight issues later in Tales To Astonish No.35 (September 1962) in a story titled Return of The Ant-Man where he becomes a union suited superhero. One of the first in the new Marvel Age of Comics. He had a feature that ran in Tales To Astonish from issues No.35 to No.69 where he would sometimes use judo to battle the bad guys. And he was also a charter member of the Avengers along with Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man, and his own female partner, the Wasp. Later Pym would gain the power to grow as well as shrink and became ... Giant-Man.





Interestingly enough in Avengers No. 10 (November 1964) he would face off against the biblical giant Goliath brought to the present by the villain Immortus. I had hoped Pym would take out Goliath with judo. But the creative team on this issue decided to get cutesy. Dr.Pym, the Wasp,Thor, and Iron Man leave the Avengers with the sixteenth issue and turn the team over to Captain America who teamed up with three reformed villains Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch.



Pym and the Wasp would return to the Avengers in Avengers No. 28 (May 1966) where he ditched the corny Giant-Man code name. I really enjoyed the Avengers after Pym rejoined the team. I thought the one thing the team was missing after the departure of Thor and Iron Man was a member with pure raw strength. Goliath provided that. Just not on an Asgardian level. I only wished that he would have  used his judo skills more often.

I mentioned that Vance Capley had originally drawn a new JLA cover for this blog. And since I hate to see anything go to waste you can find it below.






Now YOU can support the JLA!

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Now lets take public domain superheroes and make an Avengers type team....

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

THIS LOOKS LIKE A JOB FOR SUPERMAN by Dave Goode

THIS LOOKS LIKE A JOB FOR SUPERMAN by Dave Goode
During the Silver Age my favorite Superman outside of the comics and reruns of The Adventures of Superman were the 17 animated technicolor Superman shorts from the 1940s. These cartoons with their art deco look and straight out of a comic book story lines were cooler than the other side of the pillow.

The first of these shorts was simply titled "Superman". But it's come to be known by fans as "The Mad Scientist". Released on September 26, 1941 it was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Short Subject: Cartoon. It however lost out to Walt Disney's Pluto cartoon "Lend A Paw".


To today's comic book fans the Superman of these cartoons was severely lacking in power. You could also say the same of George Reeves television of the 50s who was no way as powerful as his comic book counterpart of the 50s. But the cartoon Superman's "powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal man" were on par with the Man of Steel that was found in the comic books of the period. This led to a lot more suspenseful moments.

In a clever bit of casting the two voice actors who portrayed Clark Kent/Superman and Lois Lane were Bud Collyer and Joan Alexander reprising their roles from the Superman radio series. The pair would recreate those roles in an animated Superman series from Filmation in the 1960s as well.











The actor who did the heavy lifting in the 40s cartoons was 5' 11", 200 lb. pro wrestler Karol Krauser who was the model for the rotoscoped Superman. Born Karol Piwoworczyk in Poland, Krauser was an all-around athlete excelling in weight-lifting, swimming, track, and wrestling. Coming to America Krauser would find fame and fortune tag-teaming with Edward Bruce as one of the Kalmikoff Brothers in the 1950s and 60s.





...and now...SUPERMAN!!!


Tuesday, August 13, 2019

TARZAN AND SON by Dave Goode

TARZAN AND SON BY DAVE GOODE
Watching the Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies a couple of years back it hit me that these flicks took place in an alternate universe. Not just because Tarzan  was an inarticulate savage as opposed to Burroughs' Lord of the Jungle that appears in the books. But in the first six films from MGM, Jane is a brunette Britisher and not a blonde American. And to top it off she's Jane Parker and not Jane Porter. Later in the RKO Tarzan movies Brenda Joyce takes over the role and is a closer match to the Jane of the books.

And then there was Tarzan and Jane's adopted son "Boy" played by Johnny Sheffield. A huge departure from Edgar Rice Burroughs' books. Sheffield would go on to portray Bomba, the Jungle Boy in a series of movies from Monogram Pictures. 
Looking at these low budget programmers they remind me a bit of Gold Key's Son of Tarzan comics from the 1960s. And it's easy to imagine Sheffield playing Tarzan's real son Jack Clayton a.k.a Korak, the Killer.



There is an interesting fan boy theory that involves the Tarzan that Ron Ely played on 1960s television. That big Ron was playing the "Boy" from the Weissmuller MGM and RKO movies grown to adulthood after having lived for years in civilization. An interesting idea. And we are after all talking about an alternate universe.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

And As The Clown Prince Of Crime I Decline by Dave Goode



And As The Clown Prince Of Crime I Decline by Dave Goode

 
 
 
 
When the Batman television series premiered on ABC-TV, the 8 year old me thought it was cooler than the other side of the pillow. Largely because the pilot episodes Hi Diddle Riddle and Smack In The Middle were so much better than the comic book story The Remarkable Ruse Of The Riddler from Batman No. 171 (May 1965) they were based on. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
During the first season of the show a number of the episodes were adapted from the comic books. Of these my favorite was adapted from my favorite Joker story at the time...The Joker's Utility Belt from Batman No. 73 (Oct. 1952) .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A story that I first read in reprinted form in 80 Page Giant Batman No. 176 (Dec. 1965).

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The Joker Is Wild and Batman Is Riled that originally aired on January 26 and January 27 of 1966 were not a spot on adaptation of the comic book story. But the screenplay written by Robert Dozier (the nephew of the show's producer) is darn close. With things, like the Joker's escape from prison, a welcome addition. Dozier's screenplay captures the spirit of the original. Another welcome addition was Nancy Kovack as the Clown Prince of Crime's moll Queenie.


Also sometimes we also forget just how good Cesar Romero was as the Joker. Since Jack Nicholson played the role in the 1989 movie screenwriters have made the character more and more psychotic. And we forget just how scary Romero was in the role. Especially in this episode.

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