Which Way Batman

Which Way Batman

Several years ago, my best pal Stephanie and I were perusing our favorite used bookstore. One of our favorite activities is finding things that are awesomely bad, delightfully ridiculous, and/or completely over the top, then laughing ourselves silly at them, reveling in the cheesy glory. On this eventful evening, we stumbled upon something that would bring us delight for years to come–Which Way Batman. You remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books, right? It’s just like that, but with Batman.

Technically the title is Batman: The Doomsday Prophecy, published in 1986. In fact, there’s an entire series of Super Powers Which Way books featuring DC Superheroes. These books aren’t just any Choose Your Own Adventure book though. They are basically a Choose Your Own Adventure book on steroids. According to this helpful article, the Which Way Batman alone has 51 different endings. Not only that, the preamble to the book really sets the bar quite high for any young aspiring detectives.

“Of course, Batman would always make the correct choices, but here, you control the Caped Crusader.” Whoa! Talk about pressure! I must admit, I have sealed The Dark Knight’s fate reading through this volume and have never quite aided him to success. I’ll not be trying out for Robin any time soon, that’s for sure. Even so, Stephanie and I had a great time reading aloud from this book. From the first page, we were hooked in. With choices like this, how could we go wrong?

We were especially fond of the line, “For more information on the Bat-Signal, turn to page 119.” How thoughtful of author Richard Wenk to write up a brief synopsis of characters, Bat-Gear, and villains found in the Batman universe. Even with all these great options, it’s difficult to know which is the one that will actually lead Batman to safety. To this day, when Stephanie and I are out together and we’ve not decided our next move, I’ll ask, “Which way, Batman?” and we both have a good chuckle.

There are are 4 volumes in the Super Powers Which Way series, but I’ve only found the Supergirl volume in my searches. There are Superman and Justice League volumes available too. Did you own any of these books growing up? Did you ever help The Caped Crusader beat The Doomsday Prophecy? Share with us here!

Check Out This Amazing 1973 Dr. Strange Cosplay!

There is without a doubt some talented cosplay going on in this day and age. Whether it be for popular video game, anime, or comic book characters. It’s easy to do a quick search online and find all levels of talent.

[Via] Nerd Caliber

Now if we are to go by the information provided by Wikipedia, cosplay has in fact been around for quite some time!
” A.D. Condo’s science fiction comic character Mr. Skygack, from Mars was the subject of costuming in 1908 in the United States.[42] Science fiction fans Forrest J Ackerman and Myrtle R. Douglas attended the 1939 1st World Science Fiction Convention in the Caravan Hall, New York, USA dressed in “futuristicostumes”, including green cape and breeches, based on the pulp magazine artwork of Frank R. Paul, designed and created by Douglas.”

You might happen to recall my post from last year about vintage cosplay. Featuring 1963 photos from WorldCon with the Lord of the Rings‘ Gollum. As well as John Carter of Mars‘ Tars Tarkas.

Images courtesy of the Vintage Geek Culture Tumblr.

Of course of late there has been an upswing in the amount of Dr. Strange cosplay. Thanks in no small part to the success of the 2016 film starring Benedict Cumberbatch.
Dr. Strange

But the other night I was sent a photo by one of my best friends. An image from the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society site – a photo from 1973 taken by Dik Daniels. Showcasing an earlier cosplayer taking on the mantle of Marvel Comics’ Sorcerer Supreme, the one and only Dr. Strange!

Image courtesy of Dik Daniels – Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.

Really an amazing bit of cosplay, I think you will agree. Be that as it may – the identity of the cosplayer is unknown. I would highly recommend you follow that link to the LASFS page. You can in fact check out a lot more photographs by Dik Daniels including this one. That is The Time Machine‘s George Pal as well as his Wife – the name of the fan is unknown.

Popeye Met The Defenders Of The Earth In 1972?!

Back in 1985 one of my favorite animated series was Defenders of the Earth. Numerous times on The Retroist I’ve mentioned my fondness for pulp characters. Of heroes of the Golden Age – like The Shadow, The Phantom and others.

Thanks in fact to the 1980 Flash Gordon film. I came across an old collection of comic strips from King Features Syndicate at my local library. Which is of course how I was introduced to the likes of Mandrake the Magician and Lothar. Which like The Phantom was a creation of Lee Falk as well. They even had old Popeye collections from the E.C. Segar strip days!
Popeye

So you can easily imagine my joy when the Defenders of the Earth series debuted one morning. Bear in mind that if you didn’t have access to a TV Guide you were generally caught unawares about a new animated weekday show.

Themecstasy

Until last night however I wasn’t aware that the Defenders of the Earth had grouped together before 1985. Back in 1972 in fact for Popeye Meets The Man Who Hated Laughter – which was part of ABC’s Saturday Superstar Movie!

[Via] Muttley 16

When I stumbled on this I felt for a moment like I was reading an issue of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Moreover these early Defenders were joined by another King Features Syndicate hero – Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon.

That is not even the most interesting part of it. The group that we would come to know as the Defenders of the Earth were brought together for a very special mission.

The Defenders of the Earth circa 1972.

In Popeye Meets The Man Who Hated Laughter, the US government asked the team to locate missing comic strip characters. Such as Blondie and Dagwood.

Beetle Bailey and Sarge.

As well as Popeye and Olive Oyl of course!

To say nothing of characters from Henry, Hi and Lois, Tiger and Prince Valiant. In addition to Bringing Up Father, Little Iodine, Snuffy Smith, and more.

Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter concerns itself with the villainous Professor Morbid Grimsby. A wretch who plans on banishing all laughter in the world – aided by a super computer as well as Popeye’s nemesis, Brutus. Inviting the cast of comic strip superstars aboard a yacht – the S.S. Hilarious. Taking them to the island hideaway of Professor Grimsby, where they will be his prisoners.

It’s up to the proto-Defenders of the Earth to locate the missing characters. Now in view of just how awesome this TV special really is, I should warn you about something. The sound isn’t that good. But in all honesty we are all incredibly lucky that Stupid Dim Bulb was able to upload this rare 1972 movie.

While it would take the Defenders of the Earth 13 years in fact to return to animation. Popeye was back in action in 1978 with The All New Popeye Hour!

[Via] Cartoons Intro

Starman

Super-Blog Holiday Team Up: Christmas Knight

Do you hear that? That isn’t the hoof beats of eight tiny reindeer. That is the call to action for a Holiday edition of the Super-Blog Team Up. That time when writers across the internet come together to discuss and celebrate pop culture.

For this go around since it ‘Tis the Season – I will not only be talking about my second favorite Holiday. But a comic series near and dear to me as well.

Starman.

[Via]Ucara 14

No, not that Starman by the late and great David Bowie. I’m referring to the character co-created by the talented James Robinson. Although I am willing to bet he is a fan of Bowie as well.

For my entry in the Super-Blog Holiday Team Up I will be choosing a special Holiday themed story from the 81 issue run of Starman. Issue 27 of the series to be precise, entitled Christmas Knight.
Christmas Knight

Before I get into the details of Christmas Knight let me tell you a little about Starman. Originally making his appearance in September of 1994 in Zero Hour #1, Jack Knight, is in fact the youngest son of DC Comics’ Golden Age character.

James Robinson took a different approach to Jack Knight as a hero. For one thing he didn’t want to be one. Furthermore he took the mantle from his Father, Ted Knight, only after his older brother was murdered.

So guilt more than a sense of duty is why Jack took up the cosmic staff. As is also plainly evident from the panel below, Jack didn’t go for tights. Choosing something a little more casual…not to mention cool.

Here is another thing that Robinson did that made me a fan from issue one. He too loved the Golden Age of DC Comics. The writer didn’t make fun of the heroes of DC’s past like the Red Bee or Fair Play or even the original Red Tornado.

He embraced them. He masterfully helped cement the legacy of DC’s comic book past. Over and over again. He also gave Jack an interesting obsession. Not just a fan of things past but an avid collector of retro items. This new Starman is just as interested as protecting the citizens of his home town of Opal as he is tracking down some vintage View-Master reels or some original 1950’s Pyrex dishes.

As an author for The Retroist I think you can see why I was drawn to this comic series back in the day. Robinson and co-creator and original artist Tony Harris made Jack Knight incredibly human.

Now that you have a basic understanding of the character, let’s talk about Christmas Knight itself.

Don’t let that cover of this issue up above fool you. Despite it tugging at your heartstrings it is most certainly a Holiday tale of redemption and happy endings. Jack Knight is running late to a dinner he has been invited to by the O’Dares. A law enforcement family that have strong ties to the Knights and Opal City. Flying through the night sky he notices a man in a Santa Claus suit crying and lands to check on him.
Christmas Knight - Starman

Starman agrees to help the man find his missing locket. The two end up searching the city and Jack doesn’t bust heads to get the information he needs. He realizes the plight of these homeless citizens. Instead he gives money for the info the two need and also helping the poor souls they meet in the process.

Having said that there comes a point when action is needed. Dispatching the two thugs, Jack finds a situation where he is powerless. The clerk of the pawn shop has suffered an heart attack. Jack doesn’t know C.P.R. but thankfully Santa does.

While Jack and as we learn, Pete, part ways. Starman is left feeling like there is something more he can do for this man. This homeless vet who has no Family or friends to take comfort with.

I know you can see where this is going but in the very spirit of the season, Jack invites Pete to come with him.

What more could you wish for in a Holiday themed story? Both Jack and Pete have earned their just rewards. The warmth of friends and family. They have in fact helped others have a better night and Holiday. We leave the two with laughter and good cheer instead of sorrow.

In all honesty I have left quite a bit out of the telling of Christmas Knight. As I hope you will actually pick up the issue, moreover take the time to read the entire series. It is a shining point for DC Comics in the 90’s and is available right this second over at Comixology.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little of why I love Christmas Knight so much. But remember that there are other Super-Blog Team Up posts:


Between The Pages – The Ghost of Supergirl Past
The Superhero Satellite
The Crapbox of Son of Cthulhu – Impact Winter Special #1
Chris Is On Infinite Earths – Christmas with the Super Heroes #1
Longbox Graveyard
DC in the 80s
The Unspoken Decade
Coffee and Comics Blog
The Daily Rios

Super-Blog Team Up: The Other Dr. Strange Film

Like a mystic summons to Dr. Strange the call has been sent out. Once again it is time for the myriad blogs relating to comics to join forces. The Super-Blog Team Up is here to educate and entertain the masses. This go around the subject is…Magic!

Dr. Strange is set to hit theaters this Friday, November 4th. For the most part it is Marvel’s salvo in opening wide the doors of a barrier they have kept closed. Chiefly the realms of Magic and their practitioners in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

I realize that without having seen Dr. Strange for myself yet – my statement might be incorrect. They may in fact present a different way to look at magic from the comic books. For one thing, I would point out they followed that very path in Thor from 2011.

[Via] Marvel Grimm Girl

However if Marvel is indeed delivering movie goers their first glimpse of how magic works. I think they totally have chosen the right character to help make those introductions. Namely Dr. Stephen Victor Strange…the Sorcerer Supreme!
Dr. Strange

I am willing to bet honest money that Benedict Cumberbatch will be absolutely smashing as Stephen Strange. By and large I do realize that is a given. I also know it’s not a great secret but we shouldn’t forget that Benedict is not the first actor to portray Strange in a live action film.
Dr. Strange - TV Guide

How Peter Hooten became Dr. Strange!


In 1978, thanks to the popularity of CBS’ The Incredible Hulk television series. Producer Philip DeGuere was given the go ahead to create a TV movie pilot for the Sorcerer Supreme. I think it’s pretty evident that DeGuere was a fan of the character as he wrote and directed the film.
strange-tales-110-dr-strange

Of course he based the premise on the character created by Stan Lee and artist extraordinaire Steve Ditko. Strange made his first appearance fittingly enough in Strange Tales #110 which was published in July of 1963. In fact Lee has gone on record giving the lion’s share of credit to Strange’s creation to Ditko. However the writer has also pointed out the character’s flowery speech was due to the early 30s old time radio series Chandu the Magician.

Not to mention that Stan Lee served as a consultant on the 1978 film.

So what is the movie about?


In a nutshell the 1978 Dr. Strange introduces our protagonist who is now a successful psychiatrist instead of a surgeon. Strange (Peter Hooten) finds his world-view expanded when he becomes embroiled in ages old battle between good and evil. The Nameless One has tasked Morgan Le Fay (Jessica Walters) to destroy the current Sorcerer Supreme, Lindmer (John Mills). To accomplish this Morgan possesses Clea Lake (Eddie Benton) who attacks Lindmer but is unsuccessful in her attempt to kill the older man. Being Sorcerer Supreme has its advantages to be sure – not the least being able to call on his good friend and aide Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) to help heal him.

Clea though is having horrible psychic trauma from having been possessed. Which is how she becomes a patient to Dr. Stephen Strange. Lindmer contacts the young man and gives rather cryptic advice that medicine along won’t be able to cure Clea. Having exhausted all of his talents he decides to pat a visit to Lindmer. Which is how Strange learns he is destined to protect the Earth from numerous threats originating from places of darkness.

[Via] Video Detective

So how did the pilot do in the ratings?


I hate to say that it didn’t do well. At all. Perhaps the re-runs of the hugely popular Roots mini-series on ABC had something to do with it. At the same time the audiences of the day probably weren’t ready for the subject matter of Dr. Strange. Which is truly a shame because while it most certainly has that 70’s cheese it is well acted, well written, and quite frankly a lot of fun.

I might be in the minority with that viewpoint but at least you can find out for yourself. As it was released on DVD the other day – from our friends at Shout! Factory.
shout-factory-dr-strange
I want to point out that the release has been remastered from the original film elements!

By the eye of Agamotto! Make sure to check out the other SBTU contributors as well!

LongBox Graveyard: Doctor Strange vs. Dracula
DC In The 80s: Examining The Immortal Doctor Fate (1985)
Between The Pages: The Wondrous Worlds of Doctor Strange
Crapbox Son Of Cthulhu: The Makings of a Sorcerer Supreme: Optimism and Sacrifice
The Daily Rios: Amalgam Dr Fate / Dr Strange
Chris Is On Infinite Earths Blog: Batman Visits the Sanctum Sanctorum
The Unspoken Decade: Nighttime Sunburn: Rise Of The Midnight Sons
Coffee and Comics Blog: Review: Doctor Strange #84
The Superhero Satellite: Strange Magic

Family Circus Visits Disney’s Haunted Mansion

family-circus-haunted-mansion
I know that Marvel Comics and Slave Labor Graphics have published comic books about The Haunted Mansion, but this cute Family Circus cartoon is the only place I’ve ever seen where it was mentioned in a comic strip.

This cartoon is a part of a long story where the family travels to Disneyland for a vacation.
family-circus-on-disneys-main-street

The story begins with this cartoon and runs for a few weeks.

I realize that a comic strip from 2015 isn’t really retro, but the Haunted Mansion and Family Circus have both been around since the 1960s.

Want more Haunted Mansion goodies?

Please stop by my pop culture food blog – Between the Pages. I’ve featured tons of cool Haunted Mansion treats.

All images courtesy of the Family Circus.Com

Archie Andrews and The Army of Darkness

Are you a fan of the film Army of Darkness starring Bruce Campbell?

I am and when I found out that comic book artist & writer did Fernando Ruiz did a Archie crossover print using the poster from that film, well, I had to take a look. It’s a thing of beauty. Sad to see what became of Jughead though…

Image courtesy o Fernando Ruiz.

Image courtesy o Fernando Ruiz.

If you want to learn more about Fernando Ruiz’ art, check out his Site.

In bigger news, Fernando Ruiz along with fellow comic book artist & writer, Dan Parent, are working on a new Kickstarter campaign for their comic book Die Kitty Die: Hollywood or Bust! Check it out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/14732987/die-kitty-die-hollywood-or-bust
die-kitty-die-hollywood-or-bust