Rich Buckler – RIP to a comic book great!

… and on Gardner Fox’s 106th birthday, I also honor a Golden & Silver Age great!

***

I was very sad to hear of the death of comic book artist Rich Buckler today.  Here is his Wikipedia entry (note his death had yet to make the page):

Rich Buckler (born February 6, 1949) is an American comic book artist and penciller, best known for his work on Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four in the mid-1970s and for creating the character Deathlok in Astonishing Tales #25. Buckler has drawn virtually every major character at Marvel and DC, often as a cover artist.

As a teenager in Detroit, Buckler attended the initial iterations of the Detroit Triple Fan Fair, eventually running the convention along with originator Robert Brosch in 1969–1970.

Buckler’s first comics work was as a teenager with the four-page historical story “Freedom Fighters: Washington Attacks Trenton” in the King Features comic book Flash Gordon #10 (cover-dated Nov. 1967). At DC Comics, he drew the “Rose and the Thorn” backup stories in Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #117-121 (Dec. 1971 – April 1972).

Buckler drew the first three issues of writer Don McGregor’s Black Panther series in Jungle Action vol. 2, #6-8 (Sept. 1973 – Jan. 1974), a run that Comics Bulletin in 2010 ranked third on its list of the “Top 10 1970s Marvels”. He fulfilled a decade-long dream in 1974 when assigned to draw Marvel’s flagship series, Fantastic Four, on which he stayed for two years.  During this period, Buckler created the cyborg antihero Deathlok, which starred in an ongoing feature debuting in Astonishing Tales #25 (Aug. 1974). Also during this period, Buckler hired the young George Pérez as his studio assistant.

Buckler collaborated with writer Gerry Conway on a “Superman vs. Shazam!” story published in All-New Collectors’ Edition #C-58 (April 1978). He drew the newspaper comic strip The Incredible Hulk for approximately six months in 1979. A Justice League story by Conway and Buckler originally intended for All-New Collectors’ Edition saw print in Justice League of America #210-212 (Jan.-Mach 1983). Buckler and Roy Thomas then created the World War II superhero team the All-Star Squadron in a special insert in Justice League of America #193 (Aug. 1981) which led to the team’s own title the following month.

Buckler worked for Archie Comics in 1983 and 1984, when that publisher briefly revived its Red Circle Comics superhero line, and he recruited Cary Burkett to write the Mighty Crusaders title. In 1985, Buckler returned to Marvel and briefly drew The Spectacular Spider-Man with writer Peter David, where they produced the storyline “The Death of Jean DeWolff”. He also served as editor for a short-lived line of comics by Solson Publications, where in 1987 he created Reagan’s Raiders.

He is the author of two books: How to Become a Comic Book Artist and How to Draw Superheroes. In 2015, he became an Inkwell Awards Ambassador.

 

I remember his covers of the comic books I collected during the Bronze Age, but as I searched for his comic book covers on the internet I was stunned at how prolific he was; at least with the comics I collected. He was everywhere! He, Jim Aparo and Ernie Chua seemingly accounted for 75% of DC covers in the 1970s! I may only slightly be exaggerating! Here are some examples of the man’s work. I still have all these issues …

***

Today also marks the 106th birthday of Gardner Fox, prolific comic book author whose writing helped create the Golden Age and whose creations still exist in one form or another. He was the creator or “… co-creator of DC Comics heroes the Flash, Hawkman, Doctor Fate and the original Sandman, and was the writer who first teamed those and other heroes as the Justice Society of America. Fox introduced the concept of the Multiverse to DC Comics in the 1961 story “Flash of Two Worlds!” …” (from Wikipedia).

 

Two comic book great are being remembered today. Thank you both for your wonderful bodies of work. You and your talent are both missed very much!

 

Advertisements

The last Bicentennial banner comic … DC Super-Stars #5, a Flash in the pan?

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#33

DC Super-Stars #5

DC_Super-Stars_Vol_1_5 - Copy

Published monthly, fifty cents, August

Cover artist: Dick Giordano

Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell

            DC Super-Stars was an anthology series published from March 1976 until February 1978 lasting 18 issues.

            It began as a reprint series (such as this Bicentennial issue) but as of issue #12 began printing original stories.  Teen Titans, Aquaman, the Legion of Super-Heroes, Zatanna, Adam Strange (these were titled DC Super-Stars of Space and also featured the Atomic Knights, Captain Comet, Space Ranger, etc.) were some of the headliners. New stories included Strange Sports Stories (heroes and villains play a baseball game. Uncle Sam umpired), Superboy (that issue was a best seller and revived an interst in a solo Superboy series), a Sgt Rock/Unknown Solder team-up, a Phantom Stranger/Deadman Halloween team-up, the debut of the Star Hunters (an excellent forgotten comic book series) and origin issues featuring various heroes and villains (including the debut of the Huntress in #17).

            This Bicentennial issue features the Flash.

***

“The Day Flash Aged 100 Years”, Gardner Fox ( w ), Carmine Infantino (a), Joe Giella (i), Julius Schwartz (original editor).

            Scientists at Centralia University have created an aging formula. The Top steals the vial containing the liquid, intent on using it on Flash, It will age the Scarlet Speedster and force him to retire as old athletes do.

            The Top raids the Flash museum and is stopped by the Sultan of Speed. Top hurls a grenade at his adversary. When it goes off, Flash ages 100 years! He has a long beard and his costume droops on him. Top easily beats Flash with a punch.

            But it is all a ruse. Flash vibrated through the toxins and disguised himself at superspeed to trick the Top! But no matter how many times he encounters (and is beaten by) the Top, Flash still cannot find the vial of the remaining aging formula.

            The Top’s vibrational weaponry combined with the aging formula now causes Flash to evolve as well as age (how can this be when it was a ruse? Quiet…). His head grows as his mind evolves! He attacks Top with his mental prowess. Top escapes – and realizes that with the formula and his tops he can evolve himself into Super-Top! He takes the formula from a hollow leg of a table. Flash snatches it away before Top can use it. Flash’s evolving into a higher being was a ruse (but … I said quiet!)! Magnets and superspeed helped create the illusion of the Future Flash! Flash thanks museum guide Dexter Miles for his acting and make-up expertise in capturing the Top!

            This story is reprinted from Flash 157 (December 1965)

Flash_v.1_157 - Copy

and also reprinted in Showcase Presents: The Flash #3 (tpb) (2009)

showcase-flash3 - Copy

***

“The Midnight Peril”, John Broome ( w ), Carmine Infantino (a), Joe Giella (i), Julius Schwartz (original editor).

            To join a high school fraternity, Wally West and Peter Willard must stay in a haunted house until midnight.

            Discussing Kid Flash to pass the time (Peter: “Do you really think he can do all that super speed stuff?”) they see two figures in ghostly garb who demand they leave! The boys bolt from the house. Thile Peter keeps running, Wally dons his Kid Flash garb to investigate. Sure enough, the ghosts are merely two crooks scaring the kids away from their hideout! Kid Flash puts on the ghostly disguise (a sheet with holes in it) and with his superspeed haunts the crooks with dozens of “real” ghosts! The crooks flee with the “ghosts” chasing them. Kid Flash herds the crooks into police headquarters where they happily surrender.

            And they’d have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn’t for those meddling kids…

            Meanwhile, a panicked Peter catches his foot between rocks at the bottom of a tall rocky hill. Lightning from a summer storm strikes the hill and causes an avalanche. Kid Flash deflects the stones and rescues Peter. Peter goes back to the “haunted” house where Wally tells him Kid Flash appeared and sent the “ghosts” to police HQ.

            The boys are welcomed into the fraternity, having passed their test (although technically they DID leave the house before the deadline …).

            This story is reprinted from Flash 118 (February 1961)

Flash_vol_1_118 - Copy

and also reprinted in The Flash Archives #3 (tpb) (2002) 

Flash_Archives_3 - Copy

and Showcase Presents: The Flash #1 (tpb) (2007)

showcase-flash1 - Copy

***

“The Speed of Light”, writer unknown, Mort Drucker (a), Whitney Ellsworth & Julius Schwartz (original editors)

            A one-page feature describes the history of measuring the speed of light. Even I understood it!

            This is reprinted from Strange Adventures #15 (December 1951)

Strange_Adventures_15 - Copy

and also reprinted in Strange Adventures #82 (July 1957).

 Strange_Adventures_82

***

“Deal Me from the Bottom”, John Broome ( w ), Rico Rival (new art), Sheldon Meyer (original editor), Ted Udall & Julius Schwartz (assistant editors)

            Nearly a half-century (actually 44 years) before the X-Men’s Gambit, Ace Wolfe could also throw playing cards with deadly accuracy. After his crimes in the west coast made things too hot for him, he returned to Keystone City and met up with his childhood friend, professional gambler Deuces Wild. Deuces was an “honest” gambler and didn’t want any part of Ace’s crimes, but Ace left him no choice. Deuces sent a secret message to Joan Williams about Ace’s upcoming crime.  Joan, you see, is rumored to have an “in” with the Flash (she is unknowingly the girlfriend of Jay “Flash” Garrick).

flash

            Flash stops Ace from his robbery, but Ace and gang manage to get away. Ace suspects Deuce of finkery and keeps him captive for their next crime.

            Fortunately Jay discovers Ace’s next move while buying a costume for a masked ball. Seems the saleslady said there was a big demand for mailman uniforms for the big postal workers ball. Why would postal workers need mailman uniforms? Sure enough, Flash stops Ace from robbing the party-goers and sends Ace to prison after rescuing Deuces.

            This story is reprinted – kind of – from All-Flash #22 (May 1946).

AllFlash22 - Copy

DC apparently decided that our eyes would not be able to withstand the “poor” original art from the golden age, so the story was redrawn in the “modern” style. This was done with a golden age Flash story in Four Star Spectacular #1 from three months before and the letters taking them to task for doing so (in Four Star Spectacular #3) would make you think they wouldn’t do it again. Nope…

4StarSpectacular - Copy

            In comics from years previous it was explained that reprinting golden age stories were hard to do because of the poor reproduction technology at the time. That makes more sense and we the people would likely accept that as a more logical explanation (although still BS).

            Let’s not put the onus on Rico Rival – who did a great art job on a thankless task. It wasn’t his fault, folks, give him some credit here… But still, it kind of smacks of “Star Wars Special Edition” – the original was probably just fine.

    Here are the splash pages of the original and the redo: 

Flash deal 3

 

            Keep in mind the publisher of National comics once drew the Golden Age Flash strip.

“Mr. Infantino, let’s redraw this Flash story, the art is abysmal compared to our modern artists!”

“I drew that originally.”

“… … … I’m fired, aren’t I?”

“Yep.”

***

            A text piece “A Zip of Super-Speedsters” (writer unknown) discusses all the speedsters, good guys and bad, in the DC Universe – both Flashes, Kid-Flash, Johnnie Quick, Joanie Quick, the Reverse-Flash.  But not Rival (one of the last villains of the Golden Age Flash’s run). This leads me to believe Bridwell did not write it – surely his encyclopedic knowledge of all things comic books would know about the Jay Garrick villain…

***

            John Broome, Gardner Fox, Whitney Ellsworth, Carmine Infantino, Julius Schwartz, Joe Giella, Mort Drucker, Sheldon Meyers, Ted Udall … it’s great seeing these names in a comic book, isn’t it? Rico Rival, too!

***

Next: “at last … the Buckle!”

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.

 

Four Star Bicentennial Comic blog!

DC SALUTES THE BICENTENNIAL

#15

Four Star Spectacular #3

fss3

Published bi-monthly, fifty cents, forty-eight pages, August

Cover artist: Ernie Chua

Editor: E. Nelson Bridwell

            Four Star Spectacular ran for 6 issues from March 1976 until February 1977. It was a reprint series, although some of the stories were redrawn to appease our modern sensibilities. Superboy and Wonder Woman appeared in each issue. As the title suggested, each issue starred four superheroes: half the issues featured four stories and half had three stories with heroes “teaming up” – Hawkman and Hawkwoman in one, Superboy and Krypto in another (although I think that’s cheating a bit: that’s like the Lone Ranger teaming up with Silver…) and in this Bicentennial issue.

***

Undersea Trap” starring Wonder Woman, reprinted from Wonder Woman #101, October 1958, Robert Kanigher ( w ), Ross Andru & Mike Esposito (a).  

WW101

            Wonder Woman saves Steve Trevor from crashing his airplane into a burning pylon during a race. Steve bets her that if she rescues him three times in the next 24 hours she will have to marry him. The Amazon accepts.

            Aha! Steve reveals he is scheduled to test pilot aircraft all the next day. All’s fair …

            Aha! Then Steve is reassigned to desk duty all that next day. All’s fair …

            During lunch, Wonder Woman saves Steve from being crushed by space debris … one…

            During a dance, Wonder Woman foils a robbery and saves Steve from a bullet … two …

            Steve ferries a general to an aircraft carrier. He crashed into the ocean and is attacked by a shark! Wonder Woman rescues him. Three? Nope! It is 15 minutes after the 24-hour deadline! Doh!

            One presumes the plane crashed after the delivery of the general to the carrier; otherwise he would have been left in the plane in the briny deep and left to the mercy of a hungry shark. So long, old chum!

            This story is also reprinted in the trade paperback “Showcase Presents: Wonder Woman #1”.

WW showcase 1

***

Superboy’s Workshop. Cut out the provided clown figure, get a little cardboard, a little glue, a pencil and the ability to make a miniature parallel bars and you can make a toy tumbling clown!  Destroying the value of the comic (such as it is) is definitely worth this experiment in perpetual motion.  Whether this one-page craft is a reprint or new for this series is unknown. Art and writing unknown.

***

Superboy in Argo City” starring Supergirl (her logo is at the top of the first page – proving this was published originally as a Supergirl feature, but in this comic Superboy is touted as the star) reprinted from Action Comics #358, January 1968, Cary Bates ( w ), Jim Mooney (a).

action 358

            Superboy heads back to earth after a mission in space (this must be the month for missions in space – both Superman and Justice League of America mention various space missions in its issues…) and stops by a crystal asteroid to create a jewel for a necklace for his mother. He is knocked cold by a space probe gathering mineral samples. How is that possible?

            The probe takes him and the samples to Argo City. Ah! It was a Kryptonian probe – that’s how it could knock out the Boy of Steel. Argo City was blown into space intact from Krypton when the planet exploded leaving survivors, including Superman’s uncle, aunt and cousin – Kara Zor-el! Tweenie Kara races to her father’s probe to find Superboy unconscious. When revived, Superboy has lost his memory!

            Zor-el names him after his deceased nephew Kal-el. Superboy and “Supergirl” fly around Argo City on their jet packs rescuing lost birds and other adventures. A weight ray makes objects weightless: Kal lifts heavy machinery as if he has super-strength!

            Zor-el flies Argo City to a system with a habitable planet. But it is protected by an alien who will accept one sacrifice as penalty for their trespassing. That is the law. Zor-el, blaming himself, offers to go as the sacrifice and walks to the pod that will whisk him to his judgment.

            But Kal-el beats him to the pod! As he leaves with the transport vessel, the alien wipes all memories from the Argonians as the City leaves the system – memories of their trespass AND of Kal-el!

            Somehow, being transported returns Superboy’s memory!  He escapes by flying through the sun to avoid the alien. The last thing he remembers is forging a crystal jewel for his mother.

            “Presently” Supergirl shows the jewel to Superman – who remembers making the jewel but not what happened to it. How did it end up with Supergirl?

            The biggest hole in this story is Superboy’s powers returning. How? If this system had a yellow sun ALL of Argo City would have been imbued with superpowers (this was before Superman became a “solar battery”…), right?

            Superboy’s memory returning to the point at which he lost it is likely, though. That happens with real amnesia victims.

            And this being a “team-up” with Supergirl is a bigger stretch than Superboy and Krypto… hmmph…

            Still, a fun story, which is the point. And it is nice to see Jim Mooney’s art again. His Supergirl was always a cutie!

***

            “Power Ring Peril” starring Green Lantern, reprinted from Green Lantern #32, October 1964, Gardner Fox ( w ), Gil Kane & Sid Greene (a).

GL32

            Tyrant Vant Orl conquered the planet Thronn and entombed its united league of heroes – Energiman, Magicko, Golden Blade and Strong Girl, among unnamed others – in a crystal monolith on the planet’s moon.

            Energiman’s powers work on the same frequency as Green Lantern’s ring. Every time Hal Jordan recharges, Energiman draws a bit of power. Eventually, he sucks GL through his battery and to Thronn’s moon at the cost of Energiman’s life. With his last bit of … er … energy, Energiman tells all to Green Lantern. GL flies to Thronn to confront Vant Orl.

            But Vant Orl also can manipulate the power ring’s energy – he is also on that frequency! Green Lantern covers his ring with a yellow leaf (the ring has a “necessary impurity” and does not affect anything colored yellow, remember…) to regain more control over his ring, defeat Vant Orl and release Thronn’s heroes!

            This story was also reprinted in “Green Lantern Archives #5”, “Showcase Presents: Green Lantern #2” and “Green Lantern Omnibus #2”. 

GL Archives 5GL showcase 2 GL Omnibus 2

 

Four Thought (great title to their letter column for issue #1). Gerald Duit of New Orleans, LA, Arthur Kowalik of Wilmington, DE, David J. Brown of Hammond, IN, and Fred Schnieder of New York, New York all had positive comments and suggestions for reprints. They were especially glad to see solo Superboy since him comic was now a permanent vehicle for the Legion of Superheroes.

***

            Join me next time for DC’s Bicentennial issue #16: Karate Kid #3.

 

Original Material copyright 2015 Michael Curry

Images used are copyright their respective holders and reproduced here under the “Fair Use” doctrine of 17 USC 106 & 106a for the purposes of criticism and comment.