Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Number 2535: Origin of the Sub-Mariner

Sub-Mariner, also known as Namor, was born of a white American man, Leonard Mackenzie, and an Atlantean mother, Princess Fen. Fen was sent to spy on the depth-bombing Americans because she was the closest to looking like a white woman (and who was Fen’s mother?) Namor was what we would call today “mixed race.” His mom passed along the ability to breathe underwater (without gills), and for a real super power, keeping his hair sleek and combed while swimming in the ocean. The Sub-Mariner killed a couple of American divers, mistaking them for robots. Namor originally was a sorehead who hated America, but ultimately came around to becoming an ally. 

Bill Everett created Sub-Mariner, one of the more original and popular of the very early super-powered characters of the comics. Sub-Mariner was canceled in the late '40s, only to be revived in the early '50s, also drawn by Everett. The story I am showing today is “The Origin of the Sub-Mariner” from Sub-Mariner #33 (1954). I don’t know if Everett wrote the story.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Number 2534: The cheesiest hero of all

Supermouse was created in 1942, about the same time as Mighty Mouse. Some have alluded to the fact that Kin Platt, who created Supermouse, had also worked for Terry Toons, from whence came Mighty Mouse. Mighty Mouse was originally called Super Mouse, which was changed to Mighty Mouse when Supermouse was introduced in comic books.

Supermouse (published in comics from 1942 to 1958) was successful for publisher Ned Pines’s comic books. As a callow youth I liked Supermouse, and as a cranky adult I still do. Supermouse had several artists over the years, some of whom, Allan Hubbard and Jack Bradbury among them, have such distinctive styles even a kid would notice. As I was told many years ago when I mistakenly credited a Supermouse story for this blog to artist Gene Fawcette, that the Supermouse artist was considered to be Milton (Milt) Stein. And that is who drew “The Cavemen,” from Supermouse #3 (1949). 

“Cheesie” is Supermouse’s airplane. A cute little guy, at that. Why Supermouse needed an airplane was a bit of a puzzle to me, but I admit I liked the stories with Cheesie in them. In this story not only does Supermouse, who can fly like Superman, use an airplane, but is also seen in a car. I then remembered the reason for Supermouse’s super hero powers is supercheese, from “super cows,” which brings out those powers. That's some cheese! Send me a block of it, please. I need all the help I can get.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Number 2533: Tilt!

Ogden Whitney does an excellent job of drawing buildings in crazy positions, bending rubber-like, and threatening. It is one of the reasons I chose this story. That, and the main character, Edward Courtney, in order to understand dreams that frighten him, visits a psychiatrist.

Dr Farraday makes snap diagnoses: “Every dream has a meaning — it’s a manifestation of something in the subconscious which is trying to break through.” Sure, okay Doc...but what about the old man, with that straggly long hair who is in those dreams? Dr Farraday brings him up, “The old man might be the key to the whole affair!” Edward denies knowing the old man, and as far as I know, not shown, the doctor may have said, “Our session is over for today. Please give me a check for $100.” I imagine that because it happened to me several years ago when I sought professional counseling.

The tilting towers in “The House on Magnolia Street” are from Adventures Into the Unknown #73 (1956).

Monday, June 21, 2021

Number 2532: Doll Man’s girlfriend...she's a hit!

John Cassone drew for several publishers, and in my opinion was one of the better artists of the period, so I would like to know more about this skilled artist. Cassone signed the first page of this Doll Man story in tiny letters, but spelled it Casson. If anyone knows more about John Cassone please let me know.

Looking for information on Cassone made me almost neglect the story. On first reading, from Doll Man Quarterly #3 (1942), it has a panel with his girlfriend getting punched in the jaw and rendered unconscious by Doll Man. It may be too late to apologize for showing it in this blog, but I'll do it anyway: I'm sorry. It is an example of changing times. For some reason when this was published, 80 years ago, it was considered all right for the hero to hit a woman.The woman he was in love with, no less. It is brazen to show it in a comic book ostensibly for kids, and one has to wonder what the editor, writer and artist thought about the subject. If they thought at all, that is.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Number 2531: The Uncanny Heath

Recently I showed a Western story drawn by Russ Heath. Russ was very versatile as an artist. He drew stories from many genres, including horror comics. This story, “Meet Mr Jones” comes from Atlas’s Uncanny Tales #13 (1953). It has underwater scenes, something Heath did very well. (A decade later he would draw several issues of Sea Devils, a soaked saga of a group of divers whose business is to be underwater, fighting off monsters.)

This story has a couple of bad guys after sunken treasure, a violent murder by stabbing, and an electric chair. I don’t think Mr Jones’s true identity is any surprise, but at its least the story is dynamically drawn.


Monday, June 14, 2021

Number 2530: Gary Concord and the death by miasma

We see Gary Concord, the main hero among the other heroes of this tale, in the first panel of “The Miasma of Death!” Gary is an Important Man in 2240 A.D. He is the High Moderator of the United States of North America. That sounds important, all right. Gary gets to wear a stylish blue helmet and short-shorts that look like he put on his underwear that morning and forgot to wear his trousers.

A madman (or course he must be mad!), Dr Tor, is issuing dire threats with the diabolical form of death, so Gary and his pal Alec, and a beautiful blonde called Carlotta Zambezi (a great scientist, as claimed by Dr Stark) have quite a threat to stop. Our High Moderator says, after hearing a description of the malodorous gas, “Its victims strangle on their own exhalations!”

Wait, Gary...we residents of Earth in 2021 A.D. have paper masks we are using to try and fend off a deadly virus. Maybe if you ask around you’ll find a box of them somewhere in storage.

I have one more thing to add. Gary’s pal, Alec, has a handsome mustache, waxed on the ends, making him look like the villain in a melodrama. In one of the last panels Alec has his arms around two men with beards. Hairy faces being in vogue right now gives them all a classic look.

From All-American Comics #14 (1940). Grand Comic Database credits Jon L. Blummer for both writing and drawing.