Eclipso '66 - Reading Batman

Eclipso ’66…Reading Comics with Batman

Welcome to Best Event Ever, an annual team-up of podcasts and blogs. Last year, we looked at Bloodlines, this year we’re tackling the 25th anniversary of Eclipso: The Darkness Within.
Eclipso '66 - 25 logo

Eclipso: The Darkness Within was the 2nd attempt by DC Comics to turn this little known character into a major villain like The Joker, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid. Believe it or not, DC’s first attempt to make him famous occurred all the way back in the Bat-tastic Year 1966.

There is so much cool Eclipso ’66 stuff, that it has taken three separate posts to cover it. This is my 3rd and final post. My first post looked at some wonderful Whitman puzzles from 1966.
Eclipso '66

My 2nd post looked at an awesome card game from 1966. That Eclipso ’66 post was so big that it ran in two parts – part one and part two.
Eclipso '66 - Batman Cards

In February of 1966, Batman faced off against Eclipso ’66 and The Queen Bee in The Brave and Bold #64.
Eclipso '66 - The Brave and the Bold

This issue was written by Bob Haney and penciled and inked by Win Mortimer. Bob Haney has a reputation for writing absolutely crazy stories. His fans lovingly refer to him as Zany Haney. This story is a classic example of how Bob Haney earned that nickname.

It is night time in Gotham City. A red headed woman is walking alone on a pier, when someone fires an arrow at her. Batman appears on a nearby roof and uses his Bat-rope to lasso the arrow. The woman faints, but thankfully the Dark Knight Detective catches her before she falls into the water. While all of this is going on, the archer escapes.

Batman realizes that the red headed woman is none other than his long lost love Marcia Monroe. That’s not a typo; Marcia and the Caped Crusader are an item, not Marcia and Bruce Wayne. If you think that is odd, just wait.

The couple kisses and we get dialogue that only Bob Haney could write:
BATMAN: Marcia…I can hardly believe it’s you. But…but why was that bow buzzard trying to ventilate your beautiful torso?
Eclipso '66
Ms. Monroe explains that the archer was trying to get the Cat Emerald. The Dark Knight instantly recognizes the emerald, which looks like a cat’s head, because it was stolen. When asked if she stole it, Marcia explains that it was stolen by someone she loved.

Here we get the first of many flashbacks in this story. Marcia and the Caped Crusader have broken up and Marcia is now in love with Nicky Jarvas. Even though they were engaged, Nicky didn’t feel like he could compete with Marcia’s love for Batman, and he didn’t want to live off of Marcia’s wealth, so he decided to take care of both problems by stealing one of the world’s most prized gems. He succeeded, but somehow the international criminal organization CYCLOPS found out that Nicky committed the theft.

The year 1966 wasn’t just the year of The Bat, it was also the heart of Bond and Man from U.N.C.L.E. mania. You’ll see that reflected in this story multiple times. Some of CYCLOPS killers caught up with Nicky and he died in Marcia’s arms. His death wish was that the emerald would be returned, so that no one would know that he died a criminal.

After that flashback, another whole series of flashbacks shows Marcia and Batman’s love affair. Marcia was a rich girl who was bored and liked to live recklessly. The Dark Knight rescued her when she was walking on a bridge’s support system while singing, “London Bridge Is Falling Down.” Batman was the first man Marcia ever met that she looked up to, so she fell in love with him. One night, Marcia, who was a crack shot with a pistol, saved the Caped Crusaders life. They became partners in crime fighting and fell in love. Batman proposed to Marcia and told her that she would learn his secret identity when she took his name by becoming his wife. A few days later, a policeman gave Batman a ‘Dear John letter’ from Marcia. She broke off her engagement, moved to Europe, and resumed her playgirl life.
Eclipso '66

Back to the present. Marcia is in danger as long as she has the emerald, and she wants to fulfill Nicky’s dying wish. She asks the Caped Crusader if he will break in to the museum and return the jewel. Reluctantly, Batman agrees.

Batman breaks into the museum and returns the gem. The next day, Commissioner Gordon arrests him. Gordon has camera footage of the break in and the emerald is missing. Even though they’ve been friends for years and Batman has saved Gotham countless times, Commissioner Gordon automatically assumes that the Dark Knight is now a criminal.

Batman realizes that Marcia set him up. He has plenty of time to think about it, because he is sent to jail. He is still wearing his cape and cowl in jail, but at least they took his utility belt.

While in jail, he hears two criminals talking about The Queen Bee. Batman and the Justice League faced a villain named The Queen Bee in 1963, but this is not that character. This is an all new character who, to the best of my knowledge, only appeared twice – once in this comic book and the other time in the card game I talked about in my previous post.
Eclipso '66

Elsewhere, a solar eclipse has begun and it is releasing Eclipso from Bruce Gordon. Dr. Gordon’s team isn’t worried because they have Bruce strapped to a chair and are going to “hit him with a high protein light blast” which will take care of Eclipso, but two of the Queen Bee’s drones fly in, cut the power cord, and carry off Eclipso.

The Queen Bee has gathered local criminals for a meeting. The meeting is being watched over by the giant green eye of CYCLOPS. Eclipso arrives and the criminals began a crime spree. The police can’t stop them and Batman is in jail. When one of the criminals who was talking about The Queen Bee is released from jail, the Caped Crusader breaks out of jail and tails him. Batman sneaks into the headquarters, a high rise building, but he is knocked unconscious by gas. Eclipso “kills” the Dark Knight by dropping him down a chute which leads to the river. Why a high rise building in downtown Gotham City has a chute that leads to the river is beyond me.

When Batman lands in the river, the cold water revives him. He hitches a ride on a garbage barge. A police patrol boat sees Batman and opens fire. He dives in the water, and the police think they’ve killed him. I love that this river which is downtown is so large that it has barges and ferries and is patrolled by police boats.
Eclipso '66
Bruce Gordon shows up at police headquarters and offers to help Commissioner Jim Gordon (I’m pretty sure the two are related) defeat Eclipso.

Back at the hive, i.e. the criminals headquarters, a man dressed in black climbs through the giant green eye. Queen Bee assumes it is The Agent from CYCLOPS. The agent pulls a gun on Queen Bee and Eclipso. Eclipso blasts the agent with his black diamond. The agent’s cowl is blasted off, but underneath it is another cowl, this one belonging to Batman. I don’t know which is worse, Batman wearing two cowls on top of each other, or that Batman pulled a gun on Eclipso and The Queen Bee!
Eclipso '66

The Queen Bee helps Batman escape from Eclipso because she is none other than Marcia Monroe. This is not a surprising reveal because I never for once thought the Queen Bee was anyone else. Marcia explains that she had Batman jailed so he wouldn’t be part of all the trouble going on. Why is Marcia the Queen Bee? Because her father had gotten involved with CYCLOPS and they were going to kill him. She agreed to become their Queen of Crime to save her father’s life and to clear his name. The Dark Knight and The Queen Bee kiss; she gives him the Cat Emerald, and he escapes.

Eclipso has been listening to everything via a hidden microphone on the Queen Bee’s costume. Batman, Eclipso, and two of the Queen Bee’s drones have a fight on the outside of the high rise. Doctor Gordon arrives on the scene. He climbs up on a fire truck’s ladder and hurls light grenades at Eclipso. In the blinding light, no one sees Eclipso return to Doctor Gordon’s body.
Eclipso '66

The Caped Crusader returns the emerald to Commissioner Gordon, thus proving that he was framed. Batman looks for Marcia but all he finds is her costume.

The story concludes with Batman saying: “Queen Bee’s costume…Marcia’s gone! Some day, she’ll have to pay for her crimes – and when that day comes, she’ll need all my help! Until then – farewell, honey!”
Eclipso '66

To the best of my knowledge, that day never came because Monica never appeared again.

I hope you enjoyed my coverage of Eclipso ’66. In 1966, he and the Caped Crusader faced off in toys, games, and comics. Unfortunately, the one place they never faced off was in the television show!

Want to read or listen to more about Eclipso ’66? Check out the other amazing Best Event Ever members:
Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill
Chris is on Infinite Earths
Coffee & Comics Podcast
For the Non-Discerning Reader
I’m The Gun
The Pop Culture Palace
Relatively Geeky Network
Rolled Spine Podcasts

Eclipso '66

Eclipso ’66…Playing Cards With Batman Part Two

Welcome back to the Best Event Ever, an annual team-up of podcasts and blogs. Last year, we looked at Bloodlines, this year we’re tackling the 25th anniversary of Eclipso: The Darkness Within.

A brief recap from the first post about the Batman card game. Eclipso: The Darkness Within was the 2nd attempt by DC Comics to turn the character into a major villain like The Joker, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid. Believe it or not, DC’s first attempt to make him famous occurred all the way back in the Bat-tastic Year 1966.

There is so much cool Eclipso ‘66 stuff, that it will take separate posts to cover it. It all started in fact with Eclipso ‘66…What A Puzzling Beginning! – looking at some wonderful Batman ’66 puzzles made by Whitman.
Eclipso - Batman

In addition, as a reminder these images are courtesy of Vintage Batman and Willie Baronet. The wonderful Batman card game also featured character portraits for:
Eclipso '66
Eclipso '66
Batman and Robin out of costume.

Eclipso '66
Their amazing butler, who unfortunately looks nothing like the wonderful Alan Napier.

Eclipso '66
Since Dick Grayson is an orphan, I always assumed that Harriet Cooper was Bruce Wayne’s Aunt. I was surprised to learn that she is in fact Dick Grayson’s Aunt.

Eclipso '66
Unfortunately, Commissioner Gordon’s sidekick Chief O’Hara didn’t get a card.

Eclipso '66
Instead, the boys in blue are represented by this card.

Eclipso '66
The Mayor of Gotham City also makes an appearance. Again, he looks nothing like Mayor Linseed.

Batman has the coolest vehicles around, so thankfully they get their own cards as well.
Eclipso '66

Of all the Batmobiles, the one from this TV series is my favorite. Launchpad McQuack could do a better job flying the Batplane!
Eclipso '66

Eclipso '66
This is probably my favorite card in the whole set. It is so silly. It looks even less air worthy than the Flintstone Flyer. Image from the amazing Cartoon Brew.
Eclipso '66 - Flintstone Flyer

What would Batman be without his rogues gallery? This card game features seven more villains in addition to Eclipso ’66 and the Queen Bee. Batman’s big four – Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, and Riddler are present.
Eclipso '66
Eclipso '66
Eclipso '66
These days, Cat Woman is one word.

Eclipso '66
Did you know that before Frank Gorshin’s wonderful performance as the Riddler, he was a minor Batman villain who didn’t appear in comics very often?

Eclipso '66
Mr. Zero was the original name of Mr. Freeze. But, I don’t think he was ever referred to as Mr. Zero in Batman ‘66.

Eclipso '66
Calendar Man is a really odd choice because in back in 1966, he was a minor villain with only a handful of appearances. It wasn’t until 1996 and Batman: The Long Halloween that he became popular.

Eclipso '66
Blockbuster was a brand new Bat-villain who first appeared in November 1965. While he is still around, he never became a major Bat-villain.


Image courtesy of YvonneCraig.Com My only complaint about this set of cards is that Batgirl wasn’t included. But in all fairness, Yvonne Craig didn’t appear on Batman ‘66 until September 1967. That is a year after these cards were produced. So, I think I can forgive her absence. :)

Remember to revisit The Retroist in a few days for the conclusion of the Eclipso ‘66 trilogy.


Next time out, we’ll be reading comic books together. You won’t want to miss this because one of Eclipso’s relatives and the Queen Bee’s fiancé will be joining us. Hint: they both also appeared in this post. Want to read or listen to more about Eclipso? Check out the other amazing Best Event Ever members:
Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill
Chris is on Infinite Earths
Coffee & Comics Podcast
For the Non-Discerning Reader
I’m The Gun
The Pop Culture Palace
Relatively Geeky Network
Rolle Spine Podcasts

Marvel Age - Cover

Marvel at this issue of Marvel Age featuring Questprobe!

Marvel Age was a sort of comic book that was published from 1983 until 1994. It actually was kind of an extension of the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins. Which of course offered news about upcoming books and events that all of us Marvel Zombies needed to know. Marvel Age went a step further by offering previews of new titles. In addition I was always impressed with the great interviews with some of the superstars of the time.

Furthermore how can you balk at a publication that featured none other than Crystar? I realize I may in fact be in the minority for my love of Remco’s crystal warrior. But that first issue of Marvel Age totally has a cover by the legendary Walt Simonson as well!
Marvel Age

I have in the past shared my memories and thoughts on the line of Questprobe games. The graphic and text based adventures by Scott Adams. While certainly they might appear to be rather dated in contrast to the Marvel games being made today. I think it’s equally important to remember that in 1984 – when Questprobe featuring the Hulk was released. These were a big deal and offered a new way to experience the adventures of our favorite Marvel Comics characters.

For one thing, you should keep in mind that one of the best Marvel Comic games at this point was 1982’s Spider-Man for the Atari 2600!

[Via] Retro Game Commercials

I certainly hope it doesn’t sound like I’m knocking the Atari 2600 Spider-Man game. As it is in fact one of my favorite games for the system. However when your text based actions help to trigger the transformation of Bruce Banner to the Hulk! That is a magical moment indeed!
Marvel Age - The Hulk

Which brings us to this particular issue of Marvel Age. Knowing my love of the Questprobe series of games. The esteemed Gary Burton picked up this issue at a flea market a little while back. Within the pages there are excellent interviews with the likes of then Editor In Chief Jim Shooter as well as Scott Adams of course. To say nothing of what looked like a bright future for the Questprobe series.
Marvel Age - Chief Examiner

How could they fail? They had twelve games in the works with the most popular Marvel Comics characters at the time. The Incredible Hulk, Spider-Man, and even the duo of The Thing and The Human Torch! In short these were the only three games to be produced which was a terrible shame. The concept was intriguing and moreover they almost had the X-Men game finished when the plug was pulled.
Marvel Age - Spider-Man
Marvel Age - Human Torch and Thing

At the very least we still have those three Questprobe titles and they are readily available to play. Likewise there were 140 issues of Marvel Age to enjoy and they still are an excellent snapshot of the time they were produced.



Now that you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy issue 18 of Marvel Age. Why not check out my earlier posts on the Questprobe games?

For all of you fans of the Incredible Hulk – Here is my article from back in 2011!

Don’t you worry true believers! I also covered Questprobe featuring Spider-Man!

Eclipso - Batman Card Header

Eclipso ’66…Playing Cards With Batman – Part One

Welcome to Best Event Ever, an annual team-up of podcasts and blogs. Last year, we looked at Bloodlines, this year we’re tackling the 25th anniversary of Eclipso: The Darkness Within.

Eclipso - 25 Logo

Eclipso: The Darkness Within was the 2nd attempt by DC Comics to turn the character into a major villain like The Joker, Lex Luthor, and Darkseid. Believe it or not, DC’s first attempt to make him famous occurred all the way back in the Bat-tastic Year 1966.

There is so much cool Eclipso ‘66 stuff, that it will take three separate posts to cover it. This is my 2nd post about the character. My first post – Eclipso ‘66…What A Puzzling Beginning! – looked at some wonderful Batman ‘66 puzzles made by Whitman.

Eclipso - Batman

Writing this post has been hard, because while working on it, Adam West passed away. I wrote a tribute to Adam West as well as Vic Sage.

If you would like to see what Vic had to say about the passing of Adam West

In addition to amazing puzzles, in 1966 Whitman released a wonderful Batman ‘66 card game.
Eclipso - Batman Cards

Images of these cards come from Vintage Batman and Willie Baronet.
Eclipso - Batman Card Game
Eclipso - Rules

The game is a variation on old maid with Batman…
Eclipso - Batman

…and Robin. With Robin replacing the Old Maid.

Mixed in with Batman’s friends and foes are certainly two unusual choices:
The star of our post!

Last time out, I promised I’d introduce the femme fatale of Eclipso ‘66! So without further ado, let me introduce – The Queen Bee!

Other than the Batman ‘66 puzzles, the Queen Bee and our star villain went hand in hand back in 1966. So the Queen Bee will also be returning in my final Eclipso ‘66 post. What I find interesting is that while these two were a matched set, there wasn’t any chemistry between them. The Queen Bee was already engaged to … But I’m getting ahead of my self. For that story, tune in same Eclipso time, same Eclipso channel for part 3 of this trilogy.

Want to read or listen to more about this legendary DC Comics villain? Check out the other amazing Best Event Ever members:
Chris and Reggie’s Cosmic Treadmill
Chris is on Infinite Earths
Coffee & Comics Podcast
For the Non-Discerning Reader
I’m The Gun
Pop Culture Palace
Relatively Geeky Network
Rolled Spine Podcasts

Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen - Hope Nicholson

The Spectacular Sisterhood Of Superwomen!

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen is a 240 page tome by Hope Nicholson. While it is a fact that I have had the pleasure of reviewing some really great books lately. The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen however is not one that was sent to me. This actually came from one of my co-workers at the Arkadia Retrocade. She felt it might be a great idea to get the word out about the book. She is certainly correct on that!

In fact The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen was published on May 2nd. But I must say when my friend handed me the book this was the first I heard of it. Which is an absolute shame. Hope Nicholson has crafted a fantastic compilation of some of the most well known as well as obscure female superheroes. Adding in interesting facts and where one might be able to find the essential reading for each character.

Hope has separated the characters she has selected by decades. With an introduction for each decade explaining how the comics industry was changing. Furthermore she has provided candid commentary on the legacy of the chosen characters. As well as how many of the featured characters have been altered over the years for good or for ill. In addition Hope has selected an icon for each of the decades.
Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen

Case in point on the candid nature of Hope’s commentary. An excerpt from her entry on Wonder Woman:
“But no one knows how to define Wonder Woman – what her true essence is. She’s what we female comics readers regard as or icon of strength and power, and yet she’s slippery as water to pin down.

And really why shouldn’t that be the case? Why should identity be solid, when everybody changes? Why lock down a character to just one version? And why exactly must there be only one, single, iconic, heroic female figure in comics, when there is no one major male comic book figure?”

The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen takes a look at over 102+ female comic characters. Giving we the readers a nice history of how female heroes and characters have changed. Ranging from 1930’s Little Lulu up to Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) as the icon of the 2010s.
Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen - Ms. Marvel

Of course I would be remiss to not mention how happy I was to see some of my favorite female comics characters chosen for the book. For example in the chapter for characters of the 80s, we have none other than Amanda “The Wall” Waller of Suicide Squad!
Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen - Amanda Waller

Additionally with this many characters you will discover some you’ve not heard of before. In my case I was delighted to learn of the likes of 1954’s Tomboy, 1966’s private eye Tiffany Sinn, 1985’s Sunflower, or 2013’s Bandette!
Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen - Bandette

If you love comics as much as I do, seek out The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen. Hope Nicholson has really done an outstanding job with this book. It is an absolute joy to read and provides a wonderful history of female characters in comics. I certainly hope she is absolutely thrilled and proud of her work.

With Wonder Woman finally getting a movie worthy of such an icon. Perhaps The Spectacular Sisterhood of Superwomen will help to shine the spotlight on equally deserving characters?

[Via] Warner Bros. Pictures

If you are in the mood for equally engaging female heroes you might want to check out my review of Christie Golden’s fantastic Assassin’s Creed: Heresy!