RETRO SPOILER ALERT! – First Appearances Can Be Deceiving – GOLDEN AGE (1 of 4)

“First Appearances can be deceiving…” (Spoiler Alert – #2)

Click here for Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe!

“In the beginning there was the word, and the word was <SHAZAM!>” – John 1:1, New Testament, Biblical quote (altered, obviously)

One of the things I absolutely love about comic books is the intricate history, not just the current ‘in-cannon’ history of the stories themselves, but the history behind the stories, the history of the characters, and their creators. What started in newsstands and drug stores eventually evolved into bestselling graphic novels, and smart phone downloads.

In this (retro) installment of ‘Spoiler Alert’, I (ERIK-SMASH!) will be discussing the initial appearances of many of the world’s most famous super heroes between both MARVEL and DC comics! Furthermore, I will be delving into the differences between their initial appearances and today.  One big difference between DC and Marvel over the years is that DC characters almost always started out in their own separate worlds and eventually crossed over into the same continuity, whereas Marvel characters have always been a part of the same world from day one. However almost all these characters started out in a series that was not titled after them.

Back in the day, it was not uncommon for single comic issues to have Multiple (complete) stories rolled into one, whereas today you’re lucky to get One story in a single issue, since most stories are stretched between several issues and later collected into a trade paperback, so most of today’s comics are the equivalent of a chapter. Anyone who already knows a bit about comics knows that Superman first originated from Action Comics 1 (1938) and Batman made his debut in Detective Comics 27 (1939), while Marvel’s Spider-man (created by New York comic gods STAN <the man> LEE and Steve Ditko) first swung into the pages of ‘Amazing Fantasy’, Issue #15, in 1962. But did you know that Wolverine first appeared in the Incredible HULK?! (Issue 180, 1974)

Real quick note about DC and Marvel. The two competitive companies are akin to Microsoft and Apple in that both are very similar in a lot of ways, both have been known to copy one another, there are a few differences in the way they get things done, but it all comes down to the fact that both of them pretty much do the same basic shit. A key difference right now would be that Marvel’s live action films are kicking ass left and right (Iron Man, Spider-man 2, X-Men: First Class, Daredevil, THOR, ‘The INCREDIBLE’ HULK, etc), in comparison to DC’s few and far between with a few notable exceptions (The DARK KNIGHT Trilogy), even though they have just as much potential, but take their animated films and DC is far superior in quality thus far with their new line of PG-13 movies directed to an older audience (Superman Doomsday, Wonder Woman, Batman: Under the Red-Hood, Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Justice League: Doom, etc), also, obviously, with a few notable exceptions (Hulk vs Wolverine).

Also, one cool thing about all these first appearances is that if you can get your hands on one of these issues, (I’m talking first printing) especially the older stuff, it’s going to be worth a lot more than your average comic. For instance, Action Comics #1 recently sold for a whopping $2.6 MILLION!!! It originally only sold for a measly 10 Cents (talk about inflation). But that’s a rare case seeing as it’s not only one of the rarest comics of all time, but it is the original super hero comic of all time! So yeah, if you’re ever perusing a vintage collection of comics in a random flea market keep your radar out for these diamonds in the trash.

Now that we’ve got those honorable mentions out of the way let’s buckle our seat-belts and set our Flux Capacitor for the 1930’s because when it comes to history I like to go chronologically. We’ll be skipping the Victorian and Platinum Ages that led into…

THE GOLDEN AGE (1938-1956)

—“Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!”  – Superman narrator / radio announcer (from the 50’s TV series)

Continue reading

Advertisements

Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 7)

Continued from Part 6: One part demi-goddess, two part boobs, all kickass!

#1 – Aquaman is… badass?!

Last, but (surprisingly) no longer the least is none other than AQUAMAN, reimagined by the master of revamps, Geoff Johns (who also singlehandedly fixed everything previously wrong with the Green  Lantern saga and I highly recommend his entire GL series, which is actually still cannon btw). Aquaman has long been the ass-end to many a punch-line in pop-culture references. Whenever a comedian bashes super heroes, Aquaman is exhibit A, a fact that Johns actually exploits and embraces, but ultimately he succeeds in proving everyone is completely wrong. Aquaman is by no means a lame character, however he has been done an injustice on more than one occasion.

Continue reading

Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 6)

Continued from Part 5: Superman’s ‘Super-suit’

#2 – One part demi-goddess, two part boobs, all kickass.

Now here’s a classic heroine who rarely gets her due, often the center of controversy concerning her own wardrobe changes (to pants, or not to pants), this Amazon Princess has reverted back to a more classic look. Since her inception, WONDER WOMAN was a great concept, the first woman, superhero created by Dr. William Moulton Marston (who also invented the lie-detector). Wonder Woman was the first of many DC heroines including Supergirl, Black Canary, Batgirl, Batwoman, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, the Huntress, Power-girl, and Harley Quinn among countless others.

Continue reading

Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 5)

Continued from Part 4: ‘Holy Bat-Comics, Batman!’

#3 – Superman’s ‘super-suit’!

Perhaps the biggest change to DC’s new 52 initiative was the revamp of Superman himself.

Now, I feel the need to preface this by saying I really am a huge super-fan, like ever since the premier of Smallville’s pilot a good eleven years ago (when I was in high school that is). Mark Waid’s ‘Superman: Birthright’ several years ago simply enforced everything I subconsciously dug about this legendary icon, however at the same time I’ve always been of the opinion that his costume was, for lack of a nicer word, outdated.

To be fair, it is after all the original superhero outfit, and therefore practically blasphemy to tweak it, but I do think it was the right call to finally shake things up a bit (those red speedos had to go). As with most of the New 52 versions of the DC heroes, practically all of their designs now emphasize practicality, thanks to Jim Lee. For instance: the Green Lanterns wear energy construct uniforms, Flash’s costume is apparently some kind of nano-tech, Aqua-man wears Atlantean Scale-male, and Batman has a light-weight suit of Kevlar high-tech armor.

In the pages of the new ACTION COMICS, by the great Grant Morrison (of ‘All-Star Superman’ fame), a young Man of Steel is first starting out as a Metropolis vigilante in… blue jeans, work boots, a red indestructible cape (we later learned belonged to his biological grandfather), and a certain symbolic, Kryptonian ‘S’-shield crest across his chest, emblazoned on his…um… t-shirt? One of the purposes of this story arc is to show the evolution of a super man to a true super hero. For one he’s both inexperienced, and de-powered significantly. In the new continuity this story takes place 10 years prior to the current-era, main ‘Superman’ title (by George Perez) where he’s already established, and working for the Daily Planet, and 5 years before the Justice League story where he first runs into Batman and co.

Continue reading

Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 4)

Continued from Part 3: Leagues, Titans, and Guardians (oh my!)

#4 – “Holy Bat-Comics, BATMAN!”

In the New-52 there are a total of 16 current Bat-related titles, 6 of which actually star the Dark Knight himself, and in 4 of those he’s the leading man (3 of which are solo missions), and best of all, every single one of them is top-notch… as it should be! Batman is simply a great character in every sense, created by the legendary Bob Kane, but it’s astounding, after all this time, how these writers still manage to come up with new and different takes on all his villains, various allies, and numerous adventures, without constantly re-hashing the same damn stuff!

Continue reading

Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 3)

Continued from Part 2: Not your grandma’s heroine…

#5 – Leagues, Titans, and Guardians (oh my!)

It was probably a good move to not immediately re-hash the origins of every single character in the new 52 #1’s, it’d probably come across as redundant, and unnecessary.  However, they have done an impressive job of showing the origins of a few different team-ups and explaining why they would work together to begin with (Even ‘JL-International’ wasn’t as terrible as I suspected). One of the best things they did was to retell the formation of the JUSTICE LEAGUE.

First off there’s an incredible roster, you have the essential core characters: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan of course), the Flash (Barry Allen, nuff said), Aquaman, and even… Cyborg?! Sweet! (for those wondering about the absence of the Martian Manhunter, he can be found in the pages of ‘Storm Watch’) Not only is it one incredible line-up of ‘Super Friends’ (who don’t get along), but you have two incredible talents working on it, this epic 6-part team-up includes: Writer Geoff Johns as scribe, and none other than the amazing talents of renowned artist Jim Lee!

You’ve got one clever catalyst as a reason for the initial roster: DARKSIED! Yep the Inter-dimensional tyrant of the volcanic Planet ‘Apokolips’ (sounds like a wonderful vacation spot).

Continue reading

Spoiler Alert – Issue One: 7 Awesome Changes to the DC Universe (part 2)

Continued from Part One: The Fastest Man Alive (Exclusively)

#6 – Not your Grandma’s Heroine….

It’s finally starting to sink in that a majority of comic readers / nerds aren’t actually kids, in fact, but that the primary majority of fan-boys AND girls (according to statistics) are somewhere between college students and middle-aged bachelors (This has actually been the trend since the late 80’s / early 90’s following Alan Moore’s “Watchmen”, Frank Miller’s “Sin City”, and Neil Gaimain’s “The Sandman”). It’s good that comics have not only acknowledged this, but embraced it, this is especially evident in titles like CATWOMAN (kinkier than ever), and BATWOMAN (think kick-ass lesbian version of Batman, not to be confused with Bat-girl).  Both titles are not only really well written, and directed towards an adult audience, but also have some top-notch quality artwork! Just check out how the panels flow in Batwoman, thanks to artist J.H. Williams III.

Continue reading