Saturday, 26 May 2018

Neal Adams' A View From Without

A View From Without was first published in a semi-underground called Phase in 1971, published by Hot Stuf's Sal Quartuccio, then picked up by Roy Thomas for the first issue of Unknown Worlds Of Science Fiction.
It's Bronze Age Neal Adams at the peak of his powers, and as statement on the Vietnam war ( then still ongoing ), it's incredibly visceral and maybe a little bit shrill, depending on your taste.
It was too much for some people, as seen by UWOSF's letters page:

But looked at purely as technique, it's pretty mind blowing ( which was, of course, the point ). And Neal as the alien looks like he's stepped out of La Jetee.

Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Tiffany Sinn, CIA Sweetheart

Though blessed with a name that sounds like she should be performing in adult movies, Tiffany Sin was actually Charlton's premier undercover agent ( or ' CIA sweetheart ', a phrase you could only really use in the late sixties ).
She appeared in three issues of Career Girl Romances, even nabbing a third of the cover there, and one back-up in Dick Giordano's Sarge Steel. And the reason we care?
Well, for her last appearance, she was drawn by Jim Aparo.
Here's Tiff in Espionage: Muscle Beach Style!

Monday, 21 May 2018

Superboy: Reform School Rebel

I never knew Smallville was in Texas, did you? Well, apparently it is, as Superboy does a Cool Hand Luke, when a good kid gone bad escapes a young offender's institution on the town's outskirts, and hides out in the swamp we were all previously unaware of.
This is great fun, this piece, although sadly there's no overweight, corrupt sheriff in mirrored sunglasses to say to young Kal-El: You ain't from around here, are ya boy?
He also sort of does, but really doesn't, become a Reform School Rebel, which is a bit of a cheat, as seeing young Supes as a leather jacketed Juvenile Delinquent would've been cool.
Krypto's here though, having a ball coming out with lines like: Yip! Yap! Yup! which, we're told, means: I'll have the eye of a night-owl and the hearing of a bat. Who knew?
He also finishes this tale with an arse-clenchingly bad pun, that causes him no end of hilarity. The best comedians never laugh at their own jokes, Krypto. Didn't Bat-Hound ever teach you that?

Saturday, 19 May 2018

The White Tiger

The White Tiger was another one of those great new superheroes introduced in the Bronze Age that never really got a fair shake. Introduced in Deadly Hands Of Kung Fu, the world's first hispanic superhero basically stole his strip from the similarly themed Sons Of The Tiger, a series that I liked, but one that kind of went south really quickly. So it was probably time for a change, and what better way to do that, than sneak a new character into a failing strip?

Introduced by Bill Mantlo, and with early, early art from George Perez, The White Tiger came along at just the right time for me. Sure, we loved Spidey, DD, Cap etc etc. but they'd all already been around for ages. The chance to get in the ground floor of a new hero was always cool, and The White Tiger was mega-cool.
With a great, impractical costume ( What if it gets dirty? Oh right, it's magic, it doesn't get dirty ) and the wish-fulfillment of just finding an amulet in the street that makes you a Kung-Fu master, it couldn't fail.
Plus Hector Ayala / The Tiger was a poor kid from the ghetto, so he could team up with Power Man AND Iron Fist. That's why he fights another 3rd division hero, The Prowler, in his second outing, and that kind of mean streets of the city, Warriors type of character has always been one of the defining differences between Marvel & DC for me.
Somebody once said that the blaxploitation and Kung Fu B-flicks of the '70's were actually the first superhero movies. Imagine a White Tiger movie at the time, with these covers as the poster.

Then, as so often happens, the writer introduced another character, and fell in love with them to the detriment of the original star, in this case Mantlo's playing-card inspired Jack Of Hearts, who promptly stole the strip out from under The Tiger, just as he'd done to The Sons. I guess it was only fair, as he was only kind of renting space in the story.
And that was more or less it, other than a brief guest slot in the pages of Spec Spidey. I know there's a female White Tiger around these days, but I don't care about that.
Because like most b/w mags, I was only ever able to pick up Deadly Hands when on holiday, so The White Tiger belongs to that summertime pantheon of characters, like E-Man, Peter Cannon & the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents, whose adventures I was only ever able to read occasionally, making them somehow more special than they perhaps were.
By the way, I liked it when non-american characters spoke in their own language then translated for us. Nightcrawler used to do that too. Who says comics aren't educational?