Friends, when it came to my tastes in comics as a kid, they were…well…weird. Sure I loved to pick up Batman when I could as well as Superman too. It was another DC Comic title that I gravitated to the most however and that was of course Weird War Tales. Why? That naturally had to do with being a monster kid and science fiction buff. Which is the reason I loved both The Creature Commandos and G.I. Robot!
I find it rather funny that in my youth, my Father was rather set against me picking up the likes of The House of Mystery. Yet had no qualms about me snatching up an issue of Weird War Tales. I don’t know, perhaps the former just had scarier cover art or something?
G.I. Robot actually first appeared in another DC Comics title. That was Star Spangled War Stories #101. As matter of fact this would be the first of six robots to be known as the G.I. Robot, with this first unit known as Joe.
I can only assume that Joe stayed put when he ended up on Dinosaur Island. Which I certainly hope will one day make it into one of the live action DC films. The second robot with the G.I. moniker appeared in Star Spangled War Stories #125. This time it was a unit known as Mac who was teamed up with the original Suicide Squad, the team made up of WWII soldiers.
Mac made it a whole issue before sacrificing itself to halt a rampaging T-Rex. It was in Weird War Tales #101 that a brand new G.I. Robot was introduced known as J.A.K.E. 1 (Jungle Automatic Killer – Experimental Number 1). In this case the unit was teamed up with Sgt. Coker as they served in the Pacific War. Coker I should add is not only demeaning to his partner but frequently cruel as well.
J.A.K.E. 1 made it twelve more issues until it too, like Mac, was destroyed. As you might have guessed though it is quite hard to keep a G.I. Robot down for the count. J.A.K.E. 2 appeared in Weird War Tales issue # 113. This is where I actually was introduced to the character!
Soon though he was teaming up with the likes of the Creature Commandos. Which is how the unit found itself on a rocket shot from Berlin, straight into outer space, to their apparent deaths.
While the Creature Commandos were later found to have survived the trip, the fate of J.A.K.E. 2 hasn’t been revealed in the comics. Although the DC Comics Encyclopedia makes mention that the robot survives up until the 31st century!
Since those issues of Weird War Tales there has been a J.A.K.E. #6.1, which was revealed in 2008. As well as a special mini-series that also began in 2008 entitled The War that Time Forgot. Written by the legendary Bruce Jones, it threw in a ton of Silver Age characters. Such as Enemy Ace, the Viking Prince, Tomahawk and of course a new G.I. Robot. One that I must point out calls itself…Joe.
What does the future hold for DC Comic’s robotic soldier? Obviously only time will tell but I am more than willing to bet that we haven’t seen the last of this particular comic character!
Did you know that the G.I. Robot made an appearance in 2010?
Not in a comic book of course but on the popular Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode entitled Plague of the Prototypes!. Not just our favorite military robot either, Sgt. Rock makes an appearance alongside Batman as well!
Friends, the Hollywood Reporter yesterday dropped some huge news for us fans of The Prisoner. Thanks to Titan Comics we will soon be able to enjoy a new comic series. A Prisoner comic that is indeed set in the universe of the cult classic TV show. However, thanks again to Titan Comics, we are going to be able to read Jack Kirby’s vision of The Prisoner.
Sort of. As a matter of fact Steve Englehart (Doctor Strange) as well as Gil Kane (Green Lantern) had started to create a comic series in 1976. It was Stan Lee who felt the project was better suited to the legendary Jack Kirby. Although having said that it was of course Lee who eventually decided to cancel the project before it was even published.
Jack Kirby had crafted only the single issue before it had been cancelled. As a fan of The Prisoner as well as Jack Kirby. The fact I couldn’t get my hands on this work was maddening to say the least.
Now having said that, it is quite true that pages have been shared in the past. But not the actual full and inked Prisoner comic. Which is why the release of The Prisoner: Original Art Edition is such an amazing book. Not only are we going to get Kirby’s Prisoner comic but the script by Englehart and 18 pages of Gil Kane’s artwork.
I truly cannot think of a better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Prisoner‘s U.S. debut. I mean we have The Prisoner: Original Art Edition in addition to that new Prisoner comic series, right? The art will be handled by Colin Lorimer (The Hunt) with the writing by Peter Milligan (Shade, the Changing Man). In fact Milligan had this to say in the Titan Comics press release:
“For a story where all is ambiguous, it’s hardly surprising that everyone takes from The Prisoner something different; like most people I had my own theories, my own twisted notions – mostly Kafkaesque and existential – of what was really going on in those mock Italianate dwellings. Personally the stranger and more baffling it was the better it suited me,” Peter Milligan said in a statement. “So what an honor it is now, thanks to Titan Comics, to be writing Number 6’s successor into that enigmatic and beguiling world.”
I can assure you I will be making a post or two concerning the 50th anniversary on June 1st.
Actually, did you know that DC Comics released an official sequel Prisoner comic?
Totally true, friends. It was a 4-book Prestige format mini-series that was released in October of 1988. It followed an agent who resigns from her post at MI-5. Much like Patrick McGoohan’s character of Number 6 in The Prisoner, she has given no reason for quitting. Going on a sailing trip around the world, the young woman finds herself stranded on a seemingly deserted island. However…she is of course the new arrival at the Village. The series takes place 20 years after the end of the original television show. Things in the Village have not improved for the better.
Perhaps with the new Prisoner comic being released this might see a new release too?
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: 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.
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.
In February of 1966, Batman faced off against Eclipso ’66 and The Queen Bee in The Brave and Bold #64.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!”
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!
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.
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:
Batman and Robin out of costume.
Their amazing butler, who unfortunately looks nothing like the wonderful Alan Napier.
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.
Unfortunately, Commissioner Gordon’s sidekick Chief O’Hara didn’t get a card.
Instead, the boys in blue are represented by this card.
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.
Of all the Batmobiles, the one from this TV series is my favorite. Launchpad McQuack could do a better job flying the Batplane!
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.
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.
These days, Cat Woman is one word.
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?
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.
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.
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.