Tag Archives: comic book

What is the Best Free Online Comic Book Creator for Teachers?

The audience of this article is teachers that might want to integrate a comic book writing session into their language arts class.

Captioner – A simple easy to use site that’s adds captions to your graphic files including photos.  I have used this site a great deal for my blog for several reasons.  The upload speed is relatively high.  The site is very user friendly.  You have some special graphic effect stamps such as “pow”, “whoosh”, “smooch” (a lip stick kiss), that you can add to your picture.  There are also party, Valentine’s Day, Easter and Santa hat stamps that you can add to your graphic.  You can add as many as four speech balloons at the same time and that’s all you really need.

Chogger  – On January 6, 2012 I tried to access this site several times without success!  These attempts were done both at my home computer and work computer so I think the problem is not on my end but on the sites end.  Site problems are fatal to teachers since you start to lose student interest when this happens.

Comic Master-This site that takes you through the steps of creating a comic book.  You get a selection of panel layouts that you can attach to a page.  You then get a selection of backgrounds and finally a selection of characters.  You can save the comic book online but not to your computer and you have to sign up to do this.  You can print the comic book created.  More like a comic book video game than a real comic book creator.  The art style of the characters and backgrounds is not going to excite my college students in Thailand.  The art style is cartoony super hero.  Using a Japanese style would excite them but not this sort of art.  Also, American students who like DC and Marvel are not going to find this cartoony art very interesting either.  The superheroes are not “kawaii” and not Western either. I think most young people using this program will soon get bored but the program might be good for one writing class.

Comix – Comix bills itself as a comic book creator for preschoolers.  Ironically, this site has one of the least user friendly interfaces!  You have to, according to their own on-screen directions, “first click and drag” but you end up dragging the object all over the place before figuring out how to deposit objects or text bubbles.  The object is deposited in a particular location when the cursor leaves the page field!  I am pretty computer savvy but it took me a good ten minutes to figure out how the heck to use this feature.  I haven’t seen this way of moving objects around in any graphic program before and hope never to see it again!  The site comes with around 200 pre-existing art objects such as animals that the user can deposit and they are kind of cute but old fashioned.  Students of the millennium generation, Generation Y, are very cartoon savvy and will find the graphics boring.  I suppose this is the “preschool” part of the program.

You can draw your own art or use some pre-existing art which you can move around but which is very limited in scope.  You don’t save a in a normal manner but download your picture!  As anyone reading this article knows downloading means the picture can end up in any number of folders on your computer rather than place you want the file to end up.  Given that preschoolers might be using this program at a day care or whatever, this means they will have to spend time being frustrated while they look for their picture on someone else’s computer.  I guess they are assuming that preschoolers are very computer literate.  I have used Captioner with young students with great success I wouldn’t even use Comix with adults due to its awkward interface and saving options.

Mai’Nada–  Mai’Nada is a very crude sketching program and not really a comic book creator.  I see almost no advantage to this program over any sort of draw or paint program.  There are some excellent free online draw/paint programs that are much more powerful than this site and this may be the subject of a future article.  You get three panels and you can save your art online but panels are pretty easy to make with a draw/paint program and you can save the results as a jpeg.  The draw tools provided are very limited and do not produce very good results.

MakeBeliefsComix.com – This would be a good site for younger users.  You get a cast of about 20 preexisting cartoon characters that are not Simpsons characters but characters in that style!  This art style will be popular with many students just as the Simpsons show is popular with many students.  This is in contrast to the slightly similar Comic Book Creator which uses a rather odd super hero art style that’s not really anime or super hero but something that’s hard to define.  You can add thought and word balloons.  A separate area allows you to add many cartoon objects.   You are limited to a three panel cartoon strip which can be printed or emailed but not saved as a jpeg, etc.  If you could save the three panels then you could copy and paste them into a Word document and make a proper comic book this save limitation is unfortunate.

MarvelKids.com’s Create Your Own Comic – On January 6, 2012 I tried to access this site several times without success!  These attempts were done both at my home computer and work computer so I think the problem is not on my end but on the sites end.  If you click on the comic icon at the Marvel Kids site then the icon moves but nothing happened!  Perhaps the site is being updated and temporarily out of order but a teacher is advised to check out any site they will use in class just before class.

Strip Generator – Strip Generator is almost a clone of MakeBeliefsComix.com.  You get pre-existing characters, preexisting objects, and you can add speech, thought and title bubbles.  However, I really like the art style.  The art style is very different from MakeBeliefsComix and is similar to the style you see in designer toys from Hong Kong and Japan. The people and beings, animals mostly, cartoons use a minimalistic style that I prefer to the Simpsons style of MakeBeliefsComic.com.  I do think my students will prefer the MakeBeliefsComic.com style but I could be wrong and will definitely do some research comparing the two sites.  You could use one site one day and the other site the next day and there would be a huge transfer of computer and language arts skills.  As is the case with many of the sites reviewed, you can print the results and save online, if you sign up, but the user cannot save the results to their computer!

Super Action Comic Maker – A third site that is similar to Strip Generator and MakeBeliefsComic.com.  The pre-existing characters are more standard US type superhero characters.  You get six panels instead of three panels.  However, the site has less editing options.  Students can print but not save their products to their computer.  I think the editing tools are going to matter less to students than the type of pre-existing art they can play with.  Students who like Simpsons style art will prefer MakeBeliefsComix.com.  Students who like Western super heroes will prefer this site.

SuperLame! – SuperLame is similar to Captioner except its better.   You have background and border options that you do not have with Captioner and the interface is slightly more user-friendly.  The interface of Super Lame has more pizzaz than the interface of Captioner.  You can add as many text balloons as you want versus the four text balloon limit of Captioner.

ToonLet – This is a very interesting site that has user created “art packs”.  This means that ToonLet is a constantly improving site.  You do have to sign up do anything on this site!  The art packs mean you can make a vast array of characters and objects using a recipe i.e. bits and pieces of art packs that other users have created.  This is by far the most powerful site reviewed in this article but the power does come at the expense of some user friendliness as is almost always the case with computer programs.  You can save your strip online or embed the strip on your blog.

Witty Comics – Similar to Strip Generator, MakeBeliefsComic.com and Super Action Comic Maker but uses much more adult and photo-realistic backgrounds and is an office scenario.  You cannot move the character around, change angles, etc.  I think most students will become bored with this site.  There is a certain surrealistic element to the site since you have many users doing different things with very limited elements.  A little bit like René Margritte with his apples.  The site is well named since many of the results are witty as in The New Yorker witty.  I actually know a teacher who uses The New Yorker in his English as second language (ESL) classes and I have noticed that 90% of the students are sound asleep within 20 minutes so I do not recommend going this route.

 

Conclusion

 

I think the sites reviewed would be good for a class session or two but the technical limitations of the sites would make it very difficult for a student to make a real comic book.  Even making a 3-6 panel comic strip of any creative depth is difficult due to import limitations of the sites reviewed and output limitations that limit editing.  The closest thing to a real comic book not strip creator is ComicMaster but does such a poor job of taking you through this process that the more limited programs that only make 3-6 panel strips are actually better.

ToonLet is the more interesting and powerful program of this type and, again because of the user generated art packs, may evolve into a really powerful comic creator!  If your students are computer savvy then I would recommend they use ToonLet and my own experience is that students nowadays are much, much more computer savvy than we realize!  I would recommend ToonLet for older students and perhaps Strip Generator for younger students.

I have used the down loadable commercial program Comic Life  and my college ESL students made fotonovels as part of a class project. The students were able to create some remarkable products and none of the sites reviewed could do this sort of major project. Part of my interest in free online sites was to find a replacement for Comic Life but such a replacement was not found.

In the past I have told fellow teachers there is probably a free online program option that can act as a substitute for almost any commercial down loadable software program out there but this is one category of software that is the exception to my common assertion.

SuperLame! is the best caption only free online program. The following is a two hour lesson you can do with a caption site in a computer lab:

1) Have students download pictures in a category from the internet and caption the photos

2) The students then share what they have created and many students who are otherwise shy will talk more than usual.

3) The teacher may or may not have the students vote for the best captioned picture and give an award to that student.

This sort of caption lesson is a very motivational exercise that the millennium generation loves.  If you are going to do a lot of captioning for personal uses as I do then I would suggest downloading and buying CaptionIt! as I have done.

Some posts I have created with CaptionIt are:

https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/funny-fantasies/

https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/santa-in-taipei/

https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2012/01/03/cats-of-my-life/

https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2011/12/27/santa-in-bangkok/

I have access to pretty good internet services but uploading several photos to Captioner does take a lot of time versus using CaptionIt! installed on your computer.

More comic book articles on this blog at:

https://foxhugh.com/?s=comic

WereVerse Universe Baby!

DC vs. Marvel: Sidekicks

This post will compare sidekicks of the DC and Marvel universes. Which universe has the best sidekicks?  First of all, what is a sidekick?  Wikipedia provides the following definition “A sidekick is a close companion who is generally regarded as subordinate to the one he accompanies”.  Wikipedia in the same article expands on the functions of a sidekick “Sidekicks can provide one or multiple functions, such as a counterpoint to the hero, an alternate point of view, or knowledge, skills, or anything else the hero doesn’t have. They often function as comic relief, and/or the straight man to the hero’s comedic actions. A sidekick can also act as someone more relatable to the audience than the hero, or whom the audience can imagine themselves as being (such as teen sidekicks). And by asking questions of the hero, or giving the hero someone to talk to, the sidekick provides an opportunity for the author to provide exposition, thereby filling the same role as a Greek chorus”.  A sidekick is not a villain’s henchmen or the romantic interest of a hero which is generally referred to as a companion.

The picture above got me thinking about sidekicks.  The picture is from page 199 of the graphic novel Bizzaro Comics (2001).  Bizzaro Comics is a hilarious collection of indie writers and artist’s parodies of DC comic titles.  This picture is from the story titled Without You I’m Nothing and follows the travails of obscure discarded sidekicks.  I am a comic book historian and do get a kick out of stories that use obscure characters like this story does.  I was not able to identify all the side kicks in the picture but have a partial answer key at the end of this post.  This post also attempts to provide definitive lists of sidekicks in the DC and Marvel universes and the Wikipedia definition was strictly adhered to.  Many obscure characters that have not been included in prior lists of this nature have been included in this post.  Below is a definitive list of DC sidekicks that will be discussed later.

List of DC Sidekicks

Superhero Sidekick First Appearance
Aquaman Aquagirl 1 (Lisa Morel) Adventure Comics #266 (November, 1959)
Aquaman Aquagirl 2 (Tula) Aquaman (vol. 1) #33 (May-June 1967)
Aquaman Aqualad  (Garth) Adventure Comics #269 (February 1960)
Aquaman Topo (Octopus) Adventure Comics #229 (October 1956)
Aquaman Qwsp Aquaman (vol. 1) #1 (January-February 1962)
Batman Ace the Bat Hound Batman #92, June 1955
Batman Alfred Pennyworth (Butler) Batman #16 (April-May 1943
Batman Bat-Girl (Bette Kane) Batman #139 (April 1961)
Batman Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) Detective Comics #359 (January 1967)
Batman Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) Legends of the Dark Knight # 120 (August 1999)
Batman Robin 1 (Dick Grayson) Detective Comics #38 (April 1940)
Batman Robin 2 (Jason Todd) Batman #357 (March 1983)
Batman Robin 3 (Tim Drake) Batman #436 (August 1989)
Batman Robin 4, Spoiler, Batgirl (Stephanie Brown) Detective Comics #647 (August 1992)
Batman Robin 5 (Damian Wayne) Batman #655 (September 2006)
Batman Robin Earth II (Richard Grayson) Detective Comics #38 (April, 1940)
Blackhawk Lady Blackhawk (Zinda) Blackhawk # 133 (February 1959)
Blue Devil Kid Devil Blue Devil #14 (July 1985)
Booster Gold Goldstar Lobo #5 (May ’94)
Booster Gold Skeets Booster Gold (vol. 1) #1 (1986)
Captain Marvel Captain Marvel Jr. Whiz Comics #25 (December 1941)
Captain Marvel Lieutenant Marvels Whiz Comics #21 (1941)
Captain Marvel Mr. Tawky Tawny (Anthropomorphic Tiger) Captain Marvel Adventures #79
Captain Marvel Uncle Marvel Wow Comics #18 (October 1943)
Captain Mid-Nite Hooty the Owl All-American Comics #25 (April, 1941)
Chameleon Boy Proty I Adventure Comics #308 (May 1963)
Chameleon Boy Proty II Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #72 (October 1963)
Crimson Avenger Wing How Detective Comics #20 (October 1938)
Flash Impulse (Bart Allen) Flash (vol. 2) #92 (June 1994)
Flash Kid Flash I (Wally West) The Flash  (vol. 1) #110 (December 1959)
Flash Kid Flash II (Iris West) Kingdom Come #3 (July 1996)
Flash Kid Flash III (Bart Allen) Teen Titans (vol. 3) #4 (December 2003)
Flash S’kidd Flash Flash vol 2 #235 (February, 2008)
General Glory Ernie the Battling Boy Justice League America # 46 (January 1991)
Green Arrow Amber Archer (Connor Hawke) Green Arrow vol 2 #0 (October, 1994)
Green Arrow Arrowette World’s Finest Comics #113 (November 1960)
Green Arrow Speedy  I (Roy Harper) More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941)
Green Arrow Speedy II (Mia Dearden) Green Arrow (vol. 3) #44 (January 2005)
Green Lantern Gen’ma Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #6
Green Lantern Doiby Dickles All-American Comics #27 (June 1941)
Green Lantern Terry Berg Green Lantern (vol. 3) #129 (October 2000)
Green Lantern Thomas Kalmaku (Pieface) Green Lantern (Vol. 2) #2 (September-October 1960)
Icon Rocket Icon #1 (May 1993)
Johnny Thunder Black Lightning the Horse Flash Comics #1 (January 1940)
Joker Harley Quinn The Batman Adventures #12 (September 1993)
Justice League of America Snapper Carr The Brave and the Bold #28 (February-March 1960)
Justice League International G’nort (Green Lantern, Humanoid Dog) Justice League International #10 (February, 1988)
Knight Squire (Cyril) Batman #62,(December 1950)
Little Boy Blue Tubby, Toughy Sensation Comics #1 (January, 1942)
Martian Manhunter Zook Detective Comics #311 (January, 1963).
Mr. Scarlet Pinky the Whiz Kid Wow Comics #4 (1940)
Owlman Talon Teen Titans vol. 3 #38 (September 2006)
Plastic Man Woozy Winks Police Comics #13 (November 1942)
Robin Flamebird (Mary Elizabeth Kane) Teen Titans #50 (October, 1977)
Tomahawk Dan Hunter Star-Spangled Comics #69 (June 1947)
Sandman Brute The Sandman #1 (May 1974)
Sandman Glob The Sandman #1 (May 1974)
Sandman Sandy the Golden Boy (Sandy Hawkins) Adventure Comics # 69 (December 1941)
Space Ranger Cyrll Showcase #15, (July 1958)
Star Hawkins Ilda (Robot) Strange Adventures #114 (March 1960)
Star-Spangled Kid Stripsey (Pat Dugan) Action Comics #40 (September, 1941).
Superboy Pete Ross Superboy #86 (January 1961)
Super-Girl Comet the Super-Horse (Biron) Action Comics #292 (1962)
Super-Girl Streaky the Super-Cat Action Comics #292 (1962)
Superman Bo “Bibbo” Bibbowski Adventures of Superman #428 (May 1987)
Superman Jimmy Olsen Action Comics #6 (November 1938)
Superman Krypto Adventure Comics #210 (March 1955)
Superman Super-Girl Superman #123 (August 1958)
TNT Dan the Dyna-Mite (Daniel Dunbar) World’s Finest Comics #5 (Spring 1942)
Vigilante Stuff the Chinatown Kid Action Comics #45 (February 1942)
Wonder Woman Etta Candy Sensation Comics #2 (Feb. 1942)
Wonder Woman Wonder Girl 1 (Wonder Woman as a teenager) All-Star Comics #8 (December 1941),
Wonder Woman Wonder Girl 2 (Donna Troy) The Brave and the Bold vol. 1 #60 (July 1965)
Wonder Woman Wonder Tot Wonder Woman #105 (April, 1959)

Robin wins the best DC sidekick prize easily.  Robin is the first teenage super hero sidekick and if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then Robin has been flattered to death.  DC went ahead and created an army of teenage sidekicks.  Eventually the teenage sidekicks of the major superheroes founded a teenage sidekick version of the Justice League called the Teen Titans.  The original Teen Titans included Aqualad, Kid Flash, Robin and Wondergirl.  Later still, Young Justice is created.  The Teen Titans and Young Justice meet in a giant sidekick crossover between their two groups.

The obvious absurdity of Robin is that crime fighting is dangerous work even for an adult like Batman and introducing a minor to crime fighting makes no sense whatsoever except as a plot device.  Batman’s villains were obviously very aware that Robin was the weak link and Two-Face even referred to Robin as the boy hostage.  The psychologist Fredric Wertham decided there was a homosexual subtext in the Batman and Robin relationship and wrote about this in Seduction of the Innocent.  Batman goes through a whole slew of Robins and eventually one gets killed brutally by the Joker with a crow bar in a Death in the Family.  Jason Todd is the lucky Robin to suffer death and the best part is that readers entered a poll to decide if he lived or died.  Truly a low point in comic book history but a lot of Batman issues were sold so all in all the project was a success.  Later Robin 4 (Stephanie Brown) in the identity of the Spoiler is even more brutally killed by the Black Mask with a power drill.

Of course no one really dies in comic books so Jason Todd return as the Red Hood and wants some payback from Batman for letting him die and secondly, and probably more importantly letting the Joker live.  The five Robins all get starring roles after Batman “dies”.  The ex-Robins have all become heroes in their own right.  I would argue that the Red Hood is an antihero not a villain.  Robin 1, Dick Grayson, has become Nightwing.  Robin 3, Tim Drake, becomes Red Robin.  Stephanie brown is resurrected from her power drill death and becomes Batgirl.  The male Robins are all potential impersonators of the dead Batman. The Red Hood gets in the act and kind of forces Dick Grayson to become the new Batman because if he doesn’t then the Red Hood will assume the role.  The potential heirs to Batman agree that the death of Batman should be hidden and one of them should pretend to be the original Batman.  This is similar to the Phantom, the ghost who walks that has the son of the prior Phantom assume the role of the Phantom so as to give the illusion that the Phantom never dies.  The Robins are basically sons of Batman but unfortunately there is more than one son i.e. more than one Robin and succession is not clear.  This jockeying between the Robins is largely covered in the Batman miniseries Battle for the Cowl but this power struggle affected all Batman related titles of the last year.  Dick Grayson does a good job impersonating Batman but doesn’t fool Commissioner Gordon.  The new Batman of course needs a new Robin and gets a psychopath kid, due to being trained by the League of Assassins since childhood.   This new Robin is the long lost son of Bruce Wayne and called Damian Wayne.  Confused?  Everyone is confused so don’t feel bad.  I am sure the writers of the Batman lines have cheat cards on their desks.  Will the barnacles of Batman history eventually sink the line?  Maybe!

Robin and his teenage copies at DC and even Marvel have so dominated the sidekick market in comic books that readers tend not to look at the broader literary concept of a sidekick when looking at comic books.  Another Batman sidekick is Alfred Pennyworth.  Alfred provides an alternate point of view to the audience as well as the ability to aid Batman when he is hurt.  Alfred has surgical skills gained when Alfred was an army medic.  Alfred was also in the theater and can pretend to be Batman when needed.  This is a rarely used skill of Alfred that is nevertheless crucial when someone is too close to discovering Batman’s identity.  Robin is presumably too small to provide a similar function and anyway Robin needs to be by Batman’s side so people don’t think Robin is pretending to be Batman.  Alfred Pennyworth can be extremely critical and sarcastic with Batman unlike the army of Robins.  Alfred provides an “adult” perspective about Batman to the reader.  Alfred has known Batman since he was a child. Alfred is aware of the how the killing of Batman’s parents made Batman a great crime fighter at the expense of a normal life.  The Red Hood has argued with Batman that most of his hard core rogues gallery only fear death and the fact that Batman does not kill and the fact that the villains know this limits the effectiveness of Batman as a crime fighter.  Batman may be able to instill fear in common criminals but provides more challenge than fear to the likes of the Joker.  In Batman #647, Alfred actually agrees with the Red Hood mentally but does not express his views to Batman verbally.

Batman is a serial teenage sidekick mentor and there is something very creepy about this.  Any “normal” person would not expose even one minor to extreme violence and certainly would not continue this behavior after the death of Jason Todd much less the subsequent death of Stephanie Brown.  Alfred has expressed dismay about the use of teenage sidekicks many times to Batman.  However, Alfred in the end is the dutiful butler who does what his master wishes despite any misgivings about such a course of action.  Alfred’s subordination to Batman’s wishes despite sarcastic remarks is what makes Alfred a sidekick rather than an equal partner.  Batman is not the only member of the Batman story line with a sidekick.

The Joker, Batman’s archenemy, has a sidekick!  Villains generally do not have sidekicks but henchmen, minions or lackeys.  Villains are generally egomaniacs and incapable of having long lasting meaningful relationships or so the theory goes. Villains see their henchmen as disposable cannon fodder.  The Joker generally treats those around him in precisely this manner but there is one exception and that is Harley Quinn.  Harley Quinn was a female psychiatrist that treated the Joker at Arkham Asylum and turned to the dark side rather than curing the Joker.  Harley Quinn is in love with the Joker but the relationship has clearly never been consummated.  The Joker obviously sees Harley Quinn as a capable sidekick even if Harley Quinn wants more.  Harley Quinn is a near superhuman gymnast who uses her skill with great combat effectiveness.  Harley Quinn wears a Jester outfit and became friends with Poison Ivy at Arkham were she ironically resided after her break down.  Harley Quinn provides comic relief to Joker stories that despite the name of the Joker were not very funny before Harley Quinn showed up.

The Joker had been jealous of Batman having Robin as a sidekick in the silver age and got his own one-shot sidekick in Batman #186 called Gaggy.  The main function of Gaggy was to provide comic relief to then Joker since such comic relief led to the Joker having great crime ideas.  Gaggy rather simplistically hated Robin and managed to knock Robin out with a head butt to the stomach.  Gaggy was never heard of after that one issue.  I think an issue in which Gaggy, embittered by being discarded by the Joker, targets Harley Quinn for assassination might be interesting.  Harley Quinn turns to Batman to figure out who is trying to kill her and clues are left that the culprit is a dwarf with a penchant for practical joke paraphernalia.  Since not an awful lot of characters fit that description, Batman deduces that the culprit is Gaggy!  Did I mention I like obscure comic book characters?  Batman’s sidekicks on the whole do not provide comic relief.  This is not the case of Captain Marvel.

Captain Marvel also has an army of sidekicks but largely for comic relief.  Mr. Tawky Tawny is an anthropomorphic tiger i.e. a funny animal that gets into all sorts of silly trouble Captain Marvel can save the tiger from.  Uncle Marvel is an older bumbling version of Captain Marvel.  Captain Marvel was always a sillier line than his doppelganger Superman.

Flash is another serial sidekick character that has gone through three Kid Flash characters.  Kid Flash was clearly inspired by Robin.  Super speed is a major power that is very much underestimated in comic books.  Basically you can hit the bad guy a hundred times and dodge whatever the bad guy tosses at you.  “Realistically” the foes of the Flash should stand no chance against the Flash.  Captain Cold has a freeze gun.  The Flash should be able to dodge anything the cold gun can come up with.  A teenager with super speed is still incredibly powerful despite being a teenager unlike Robin who has no super powers and even the inferior strength of someone who is younger.  Maybe a Kid Flash can only punch with half the power of an adult but a hundred punches later and even the toughest boxer is going down.

Green Arrow has had two teenage sidekicks named Speedy.  The first Speedy grows up to become a heroin addict, but recovers, and there is some suggestion that maybe crime fighting as a teenager might not be all that healthy psychologically and contributed to the heroin addiction.

Superman only has one teenage sidekick and that is Jimmy Olsen.  In the silver age, Jimmy Olsen was officially Superman’s best pal and again very creepy if you think about it.  Superman is perennially in his early thirties and if I saw some thirty year old hanging around a teen rather than a guy his own age then I would wonder exactly what function this teenager serves.  Jimmy even has a watch with an ultrasonic signal that allows him to call Superman when he is in danger.  Lois Lane does not have such a watch!  Teenage guy gets the watch but not the gal?  Maybe the silver age Superman had reasons for not marrying Lois Lane that had more to do with subconscious gender preference than any other reason.

Superman has a dog called Krypto.  In the silver age, Batman got a dog called Ace but there is no comparison with Krypto and Ace in terms of importance.  Superman in the silver age was Superboy and Krypto and Superboy were constant companions.  This is one of the healthier sidekick relationships in comic books.  Krypto cannot talk but can communicate to the reader via thought balloons that show what Krypto is thinking.  Krypto’s attempts to understand Superboy’s behavior using canine logic were pretty cute and comical and one of the few things that made the otherwise lame Superboy title work.

The current Supergirl has no hyphen between “Super” and “Girl” in her name.  The current Supergirl is a hot babe in a half shirt who has fled to the 31st century to avoid being a sidekick!  The silver age Super-Girl, on the other hand, was very much a sidekick.  She was teenager attending high school and was kept as a secret weapon for much of her silver age career.  Super-Girl was Superman’s cousin so no fear of hanky-panky that would make her a companion.  However, Super-Girl does try to match Superman up with an adult version of her on another planet!

Super-Girl has sidekicks in her own right!  Super-Girl has a super cat named Streaky and a super horse named Comet.  Somewhere in the Superman family there is a super monkey named Beppo but I am not really sure who he belongs to.  All the super animals unite with Proty to create the Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st century.  Years later Marvel will make its own group of superhero animal sidekicks.  Proty is the sidekick of Chameleon Boy who is a member of the Legion of Super Heroes of the 31st century.  Proty I sacrificed himself to revive the dead Lighting Lad but a Proty II soon shows up.  Proty I and II are aliens that look like blobs and can mimic just about any form.

That leaves us with Wonder Women’s sidekicks.  The silver age Woman had several sidekicks.  Etta Candy was a fat rather stupid college student who was supposed to be used for comic relief but was more obnoxious than funny.  The silver age Wonder Woman went through a rather silly phase in which she had adventures with herself as a Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot!  Wonder Woman used Amazonian technology to create films of herself that showed “what if” adventures with her younger versions.  I have to tell you I was maybe seven when a lot of these adventures came out originally and I was totally confused.  I assumed Wonder Girl and Wonder Tot were sisters of Wonder Woman and didn’t find out the “truth” until I was in my thirties.  Wonder Woman is probably one of those silver age titles that is really hard for modern readers to digest but the title had a fantasy quality that was very different from the more sci-fi quality of most silver age stuff and appealed to my young imagination.  Wonder Woman may go down in literary history as the only character that had two versions of herself as her own sidekicks. The graphic novel Bizzaro Comics (2001) does have a story with Wonder Tot and Wonder Girl racing to sit next to Wonder Woman during lunch and destroying half the Amazon city in the process.  Later, a more Robin like Wonder Girl was created as a sidekick.

Below is a list of Marvel sidekicks that will be discussed at the end of this list:

List of Marvel Sidekicks

Superhero Sidekick First Appearance
Avengers, Iron Man Edwin Jarvis (Butler) Tales of Suspense #59 (Nov 1964)
Captain America Bucky I Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941)
Captain America Bucky II (Rick Jones)  
Captain America Free Spirit Captain America vol. 1 #431 (September 1994)
Captain America Jack Flag (Jack Harrison) Captain America #434, (December 1994)
Captain Britain Jackdaw The Incredible Hulk Weekly #57 (April 1980)
Captain Marvel Falcon (Sam “Snap” Wilson) Captain America #117 (Sept. 1969)
Daredevil Foggy Nelson Daredevil v1 #1 (April 1964)
Deadpool Weasel Deadpool: The Circle Chase #1 (August 1993)
Deadpool Blind Al Deadpool #1 (Jan. 1997)
Deadpool Bob, Agent of HYDRA Cable & Deadpool #38 (May 2007)
Doc Samson Geiger Captain America vol. 1 #431 (September 1994)
Doctor Strange Wong Strange Tales #110 (Jul 1963)
Falcon Redwing (Hawk) Captain America #117 (Sept. 1969)
Franklin Richards H.E.R.B.I.E. (Robot) Fantastic Four #209 (August 1979)
Hulk Jim Wilson Incredible Hulk  v1 #131 (September, 1970)
Hulk Teen Brigade Incredible Hulk v1 #6 (March 1963)
Hulk, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Avengers Rick Jones Incredible Hulk v1 #1 (May 1962)
Human Torch Toro Human Torch Comics #2 (Fall 1940)
Inhumans Lockjaw (Dog) Fantastic Four #45, (December 1965)
Ka-Zar Zabu (Sabertooth Tiger) X-Men #10 (Mar 1965)
Fantastic Four Franklin Richards (Son of Reed Richards & Susan Storm) Fantastic Four Annual #6 (November 1968)
Fantastic Four, Franklin Richards Valeria Richards (Daughter of Reed Richards & Susan Storm) Fantastic Four vol. 3 #54 (June 2002)
Fantastic Four Lockjaw Puppy (Dog) Fantastic Four vol.3 #9.
Nick Fury Dum Dum Dugan Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1 (May 1963)
Shadowcat Lockheed (Small Dragon) Uncanny X-Men #166 (Feb 1983)
Speedball Niels, Hairball (Cat) Speedball #1
Spider-Man Jackpot Free Comic Book Day Spider-Man: Swing Shift (May 2007)
Spider-Man Ms. Lion (Dog) Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends #1
Spider Girl Scarlet Spider 3 (Felicity Hardy) Spider-Girl # 46
Taskmaster, Agent X Sandi Brandenberg Taskmaster Mini-Series (2002)
Thing, Captain America Demolition Man aka D-Man Captain America #328 (April 1987)
Wolverine Jubilee Uncanny X-Men #244 (May, 1989)
Young Allies Whitewash Jones Young Allies Comics 1941

The first sidekick on the list is Edwin Jarvis who is a butler at Avengers Mansion that in turn is owned and operated by Tony Stark.  Tony Stark is of course Iron Man.  Jarvis is an obvious clone of Alfred, Batman’s butler, but is much more one dimensional and provides comic relief rather than insight into the super heroes he deals with unlike Alfred.  Alfred was a medic during a time of war and may be old but is obviously tough and handles sensitive Batman impersonation missions.  Alfred would beat the crap out of Jarvis in any altercation.

Bucky is probably the most famous sidekick in the Marvel universe.  Bucky is Captain America’s sidekick from the golden age that was killed in the golden age.  In 2010, Bucky was resurrected after more than forty years just to make sure whatever faith readers had in comic book continuity was crushed once and for all so that suspension of disbelief via continuity would be rendered impossible once and for all.  Comic sales are down way down.  The recession and competition with other media are to blame but decisions like the Bucky resurrection don’t help.  Anyway, Captain America is put into suspended animation minutes after Bucky is “blown up” and the guilt Captain America feels upon reawakening in the silver age is a major part of the Captain America story line.  Captain America over the last forty years continually demonstrated how the trauma for the death of Bucky affected him mostly in the form of nightmares.  Batman has never shown this level of trauma about the deaths of his Robins.

In the first silver age appearance of Captain America (Avengers vol. 1, #1) Captain America runs into a teenager he mistakes for Bucky, Rick Jones.  Rick Jones is the side kick of the Hulk but this doesn’t stop him from later becoming Bucky II.  The Hulk is not too pleased with this and this leads to altercations between Captain America and the Hulk.  The Hulk has a point.  Bruce Banner was exposed to gamma ray radiation while saving Rick Jones and became the monster called the Hulk because of Rick Jones.  Yeah, Rick Jones owes his life to the Hulk’s alter ego but heck Captain America has wavy blonde hair and also is not a monster, literally, so Rick Jones decides to become Bucky II.  Rick Jones is not a very loyal sidekick and becomes Captain Marvel’s sidekick later on.  I guess Captain Marvel’s wavy silver hair beat Captain America’s wavy blonde hair.  Rick Jones is currently a Hulk type called A-Bomb and is really digging not being a sidekick anymore despite having Hulk monster type problems.  Captain America has had other sidekicks beside Bucky I and II including Jack Flag and Jackdraw.  Heroes in both the DC and Marvel universe seem to either have slews of sidekicks or no sidekicks. Are sidekicks addictive?  For the records there have been several Captain Americas with their Bucky sidekicks but I am only dealing with the Steve Rogers Captain America.

Foggy Nelson is a sidekick of Daredevil.  Foggy Nelson is the law partner of Matt Murdock the alter ego of Daredevil.  Foggy provided a great deal of comic belief in the beginning but has matured into a more competent brilliant lawyer that is an asset to Matt Murdock.  Foggy has an incredible case law memory and might even superior to Matt Murdock as a lawyer but does not have the confidence of Matt and is therefore generally not the lead lawyer.  Without Foggy, the law practice of Matt Murdock would have gone down the toilet during his many, Daredevil caused, MIA stints.  Foggy Nelson has a paunch and food related jokes are his comic relief contribution.

Deadpool is a hilarious anti-hero that has had several equally hilarious sidekicks including Weasel, Blind Al and Bob, Agent of Hydra.  My favorite is Bob, Agent of Hydra.  Bob is a parody of henchmen and the number one lesson he learned from Hydra was “hiding behind each other”.  Under pressure, Bob tends to shout “Hail Hydra”.

Doctor Strange has and adult Asian manservant from Tibet named Wong.  Wong may not know much magic but he is a master martial artist.  Wong is fairly subservient compared to other comic book sidekicks.  If you do visit Doctor Strange at his Sanctum Santorum in New York then you have to get past Wong first.  His role as a literal gatekeeper gives him some power that a lesser servant would not have.

Marvel decided to transform the son Reed Richards and Susan Storm from a typical omega level angst driven mutant to a Calvin type character, as in Calvin and Hobbes, character with great success.  Franklin is a side kick to the Fantastic Four that provides a child’s perspective of the Fantastic Four as well as comic relief.  Franklin is also a scientific genius who can modify his dad’s super science gadgets but generally his attempts to improve dad’s gadgets lead to disaster.  Franklin has his own sidekick, H.E.R.B.I.E. the Robot. H.E.R.B.I.E. provides a logical to the point of absurdity perspective to the childish antics of Franklin. H.E.R.B.I.E.  constantly tries to convince Franklin H.E.R.B.I.E. to leave his dad’s lab alone but he is ultimately a subordinate that is then forced to try to clean up the mess created by Franklin.

The Hulk got over the loss of Rick Jones and adopted Jim Wilson.  Jim Wilson was an inner city, Black teenager that very poignantly died of cancer later.  Doctor Strange has an Asian sidekick.  The Hulk has an African-American sidekick.  The Lone Ranger has a Native American sidekick, Tonto.  Does anyone see a pattern here?  My next post will be titled DC vs. Marvel: Multicultural Heroes and I will examine the issue of race in the DC and Marvel universes in detail.

In 2009, Marvel untied all the animal sidekicks into a team called the Pet Avengers.  The Pet Avengers are a rip off of the Legion of Super Animals over at DC.  The Legion of Super Pets was played straight and this was probably a bad decision given the absurdity of the concept.  The Pet Avengers is a silly title with lots of comic relief and one of my favorite current titles.  I am not sure how far you can go with this concept but so far so good.  The members of the Pet Avengers include Redwing a hawk of Falcon, Lockjaw a giant dog that can teleport of the Inhumans,  Zabu a saber tooth tiger of Ka-Zar, Lockheed a small dragon that is a sidekick of Shadowcat, Hairball a cat belonging to Speedball and Ms. Lion a dog belonging to Spider-Man.  The team includes Throg is a frog with lesser versions of Thor’s powers and is not a sidekick of Thor but a hero among his frog tribe in his own right.  The interplay between the animals is what really makes the team work.  Krypto and Streaky were a dog and a cat in the same legion but the fact that dogs and cats don’t get along was never really explored.  Hairball the cat thinks Ms. Lion is an absolute idiot and worse, a dog!  Ms. Lion is the only one on the team that doesn’t have super powers is very much the pampered house dog of Spiderman’s Aunt May.  Ms. Lion claims the right to membership based on her sidekick status alone.

The sidekick status of the members is highlighted in one story of Tails of the Pet Avengers: The Dogs of Summer #1.  In the story titled“Garbage Grief”, Franklin Richards teams up with the Pet Avengers flanked with his own sidekicks H.E.R.B.I.E. and Puppy.  Puppy is a miniature version of Lockjaw complete with his powers of teleportation.   In this story Puppy does manage to teleport the Pet Avengers to deal with a giant humanoid garbage creature that Franklin created more or less accidentally. So this is a sidekick crossover albeit on a much smaller scale than the DC Teen Titans/Young Justice crossover.  Another treat of this particular issue, is that the origin of Puppy is finally dealt with.  Puppy has been a fixture of the Fantastic Four for a while but his origin has not been dealt with until this issue.  Turns out Puppy is the grand pup of Lockjaw and is a present of Franklin’s future self to himself in the past.  In another issue, Tails of the Pet Avengers #1 has an adventure with Redwing the hawk titled “Birds of a Different Feather”.  Redwing the sidekick of Falcon is chased by a pigeon that wants to be a sidekick of Redwing.  Redwing refuses this offer at first but the pigeon pulls a masterful guilt trip to change the mind of Redwing.

I also have to mention the Incredible Hercules that ran from 2008 to 2010.  Hercules is teamed up with Amadeus Cho.  Amadeus Cho is really smart, mutant level smart but Hercules is Hercules!  Normally Amadeus Cho, the brainy, sixteen year old, nerdy teenager, would be the sidekick but an argument can be made that Hercules is the sidekick even if Hercules would smash anyone who suggested as much.  In one issue Hercules is up against his old enemies the Amazons.  Amadeus Cho is captured by the Amazonians.  Amadeus Cho is referred to as the eromenos of Hercules (Incredible Hercules #121, 2008) by the Amazons during his captivity.  Amadeus Cho is not happy with this appellation at all.  This is one of the few issues that points out the obvious, when older men have sixteen year old guys as buddies then there is usually one sort of relationship at work going back to Greek times.  This is an intelligent comic book line that turns the sidekick conventions upside down in an extremely funny manner.

The most famous teenage sidekick of Marvel is Bucky but Bucky is not nearly as important to comic book history as Robin.  Probably getting killed in the golden age for plus forty years didn’t help the career of Bucky at all.  Marvel has other teenage sidekicks like the golden age Toro but all and all Marvel does not have the rooster of well known teenage sidekicks that DC has. DC also wins in terms of teenage sidekick teams.  DC has the aforementioned Teen Titans and Young Justice.  Marvel has teenage teams including the Young Avengers and the Runaways but they are not sidekick teams but teams of teenage heroes.  In many ways Marvel sidestepped the need for teenage sidekicks by making more teenage heroes than DC.  Spiderman began his career in high school.  The X-Men operate out of Xavier’s Academy which trains teenagers.  The New Mutants are teenagers that go to Xavier’s Academy and are not sidekicks.  I think overall Marvel may have been smart to make teenage heroes to fulfill many of the teen identification functions of teenage sidekicks.

DC just has a lot more sidekicks than Marvel period.  DC has 71 sidekicks on their list.  Marvel has 34 sidekicks on their list.  Beyond numbers, DC has a rooster of more famous sidekicks especially in the teenage sidekick category.  DC and Marvel have pursued different strategic approaches to the use of teenage sidekicks in their respective universes.  Marvel, however, is doing great things with animal sidekicks with the Pet Avengers and funny sidekicks like Franklin Richards and H.E.R.B.I.E.  Unfortunately, a two year trend does not negate the fact that DC has historically had the most and best sidekicks.

DC wins the sidekick wars!

Answer to DC Sidekick Quiz

1. Stripsey

2. Proty

3. Doiby Dickles

4. ?

5. Streaky?

6. Brute

7. Qwsp

8. Glob

9. Cyrll

10. Mr. Twaky Tawny

11. Zook

12. Ace the Bat Hound

13. Wing

14. ?

15. ?

16. Ilda

17. Skeets

18. ?

19. ?

20. ?

I do wonder if some of the sidekicks I can’t figure out are actual sidekicks in DC comics.  Number 5 might be Streaky the Super Cat but looks more like a mouse than a cat.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Super pets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

WesternHeroes

Women in Refrigerators

WorkingWomen

WereVerse Universe Baby!

DC vs. Marvel Kids

Casper and Fox

Casper and Fox

This is the eighth post in this series. DC versus Marvel superhero posts have been done to death on the internet and I wanted to do something different. This series looks at what happens when you pit the non superheroes of these two companies. This series also gives me an excuse to revisit some of the obscure comic book characters of my past. The dominance of the superhero genre in American comic books has meant that characters of other comic book genres have been ignored for decades and this series to some extent is an attempt to rectify this unfortunate state of affairs.

The first post looked at Westerns and Western heroes. https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/dc-vs-marvel-western-heroes/

The second post looked at war comics and war heroes. https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/dc-vs-marvel-war-heroes/

The third post looked at women’s comics and working women. https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/dc-vs-marvel-working-women

The fourth post looked at space operas and spacemen https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/dc-vs-marvel-spacemen/

The fifth post analyzed funny animals.
https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/dc-vs-marvel-funny-animals/

The sixth post looked at the teenagers of teenage humor comic books. https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/dc-vs-marvel-teenagers/

The seventh post looked at horror comics and horror hosts. https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/07/27/dc-vs-marvel-horror-hosts/

I am inventing a comic book genre name for this series. Women’s comics are defined as comic books that appeal to women. I would like to propose there is a genre of comic books that appeals to very young children as opposed to children in general and I would like to name this genre kids comic’s. The ultimate example of this genre would be the children’s Harvey Comics line that included such characters as Baby Huey, Casper, Hot Stuff, Little Audrey, Little Dot, Little Lotta, Spooky, Richie Rich and Wendy the Good Little Witch. Harvey Comics also published comics with superheroes but is best remembered for its kid’s comics. I see similarities between Harvey Comics and Archie Comics.

Faced with hopeless competition with DC and Marvel in the superhero arena, these two comic book companies found success in non superhero genres, an example of niche marketing in the comic book marketplace. Archie Comics has dominated teenage humor for decades, right up until the present and squashed attempts by DC and Marvel to make titles that compete in this genre. Harvey Comics was also able to survive in a similar manner with kids comic books. Interestingly, both Archie Comics and Harvey Comics tried superheroes but eventually gave up these titles probably because of competition from DC and Marvel. Both Archie Comics and Harvey Comics had to learn hard lessons about their core business which turned out to be genres other than the superhero one.

There is tremendous overlap between the funny animal genre, dealt with in the post about funny animals (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/dc-vs-marvel-funny-animals/) and kid’s comics and many comics fit both genres. Still, characters such as Casper are obviously not funny animals. I would propose that funny animals are a subgenre of kid’s comics logically but the funny animal subgenre is so big it must be treated as a genre. In a similar manner, logically superheroes are a subgenre of science fiction but are such a dominant subgenre in terms of the comic book marketplace that superheroes are best dealt with as a separate genre. This post will only deal with kid comics that are not funny animals.

This genre is characterized by a simplified cartoon style, very G rated material, even by comic code approved standards, and very simple plots. The defining characteristic is that the comic book is aimed at a very young readership. I would say the comic books should be able to appeal to preschoolers and they should be able to handle the material without the aid of an adult. Older readers may like the simplicity of the comic books in the same way that even adults can appreciate a children’s book but the reverse is not true. A relatively G-rated comic book like Superman, especially a more recent Superman comic book, will not be appreciated by preschoolers unless their literacy is especially high.

DC kids include the Brat Finks, Stanley and his Monster, as well as, Sugar and Spike. Stanley and his Monster replaced the Fox and Crow in issue #109 but the retitled comic book only lasted until issue #112. Stanley is a six year old with a lisp that mistakes a monster for a dog and lets him secretly live with him. The monster is covered with pink hair, has enormous fangs and is gigantic, maybe nine feet? The parents never catch onto the existence of the monster. In the innocent comic book logic of that era, hiding a nine foot monster in a typical suburban house is considered totally possible. The comic book was printed in the sixties. In the nineties, DC decided to add some back story to the series and include Stanley and his Monster in some DC crossovers. I still prefer the more innocent less sophisticated Stanley and his Monster of the sixties.

Sugar and Spike was created by comic book legend Sheldon Mayer and is one of the best comic books lines ever! Somehow DC forgot to reprint this comic book in their current reprint Showcase series. This is extremely unfortunate and I urge DC to add Sugar and Spike to the Showcase reprint line. Sugar and Spike are two preschoolers that talk to each other in baby talk that adults can’t understand.

Sugar and Spike are constantly trying to figure out adult logic and the adult world and come up with outlandish explanations that nevertheless are totally logical. Mayer was able to capture kid’s logic in a way few cartoonists ever have. The closest any cartoonist has ever come is Calvin and Hobbes but I actually think Mayer does a better job and he is dealing with much younger children that are harder for adults to understand. Sugar is a blonde haired kid. Spike is a red haired kid. Other characters came and went in the strip such as Little Arthur, Uncle Charley and Bernie the Brain and even the secondary characters of this great strip were better than the primary characters of most cartoons. The strip lasted 98 issues, from the seventies into the nineties, and I am sure would have gone on even longer except for his death in 1992.

Marvel Kids, pre-Star imprint, is a much shorter list and I want to mention Homer the Happy Ghost who was brought to my attention by a reader of this post (see comments).  Homer the Happy Ghost was an obvious imitation of Casper that lasted 22 issues, between March, 1955- November 1958, which for a none superheroe is not bad!  Supporting characters included Melvin the Mixed-Up Ghost, Invisible Irwin, Dugan the Dead End Ghost, and Zelda the Zany Witch.  Homer was reprinted for five issues between from November 1969 to May 1970 and I vaguely remember seeing this version of the title.  Anway, thanks for the info Mark!

Marvel Kids include all the characters of their Star imprint that lasted from 1984-88. The characters of the Star imprint included Air Raiders, ALF, Animax, Bullwinkle and Rocky, Care Bears, Chuck Norris and his Karate Kommandos, Defenders of the Earth, The Flinstone Kids, Foofur, Fraggle Rock, The Get-Along Gang, Heathcliff, Heathcliffs Funhouse, Hugga Bunch, Inhumanoids, Madballs, Masters of the Universe, Masters of the Universe Motion Picture, Misty, Muppet Babies, The Muppets take Manhattan, Peter Porker The Spectacular Spider Ham, Planet Terry, Popples, Royal Roy, Silverhawks, Star Wars Digest, Star Wars Droids, Star Wars Ewoks, Strawberry Shortcake, ThunderCats, Top Dog, and Wally the Wizard. Marvel did publish a couple of Casper comic books in 1997.

Most of the Star comic books are not Marvel properties and will not be looked at given the topic of this post. Spider Ham, Planet Terry, Royal Roy, Top Dog and Wally the Wizard are the only true Marvel properties of the Star comic’s line. Spider Ham was already dealt with in the funny animals post so we are down to Planet Terry, Royal Roy, Top Dog and Wally the Wizard.

Planet Terry, Royal Roy and Top Dog were all written by Lennie Herman. Planet Terry was a space saga. Planet Terry was looking for his parents in space with his sidekicks a robot named Robota and a green-scaled muscular alien named Omnus. I swear that Planet Terry’s facial features are very similar to those of Casper. He flew around in a jet pack and many of his flying poses seem directly lifted from Casper comic books. Top Dog is a talking dog and therefore a funny animal and the subject of another post. Royal Roy is Marvels version of Richie Rich of Harvey Comics. Prince Roy lives in Cashelot (Camelot plus Cash) and only
lasted six issues. Wally the Wizard was an apprentice wizard to Marlin the Wizard, Merlin the Wizards older brother.  Wally the Wizard was created by Bob Bolling who had also created Little Archie.

Sugar and Spike team up with Stanley and his monster for a day at the sandbox and run into these two weird kids in weird costumes. One is dressed like a prince, one is dressed like a spaceman and one is dressed like a wizard. Sugar and Spike know all about Halloween and love that day and know darn well this day isn’t that day. They start laughing at the costumed kids and soon a fight ensues. Stanley’s Monster sits on the Marvel kids until they agree to behave. DC wins this round.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Superpets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

Western Heroes

Women in Refrigerators

Working Women

WereVerse Universe Baby!

DC vs. Marvel Horror Hosts

House of Mystery #1

This is the seventh post in this series. The series pits non superhero genre characters from DC and Marvel against each other. The first post looked at Westerns and Western heroes (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/dc-vs-marvel-western-heroes/), the second post looked at war comics and war heroes (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/dc-vs-marvel-war-heroes/), the third post looked at women’s comics and working women (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/dc-vs-marvel-working-women) and the fourth post looked at space operas and spacemen (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/dc-vs-marvel-spacemen/). The fifth post analyzed funny animals (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/dc-vs-marvel-funny-animals/). The sixth post looked at the teenagers of teenage humor comic books (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/07/15/dc-vs-marvel-teenagers/). The eighth and next post will look at kid’s comic books.

This post looks at the horror genre. I had problems separating the horror genre from the superhero genre. This would not have been a problem when I was reading comic books in the sixties and seventies when I was younger. However, since at least the eighties, DC and Marvel heroes that belong to the horror genre have been incorporated into their mainstream comic book universes to the point that they are often just another type of superhero.

For example, Blade, who fights vampires, has done so many crossovers with mainstream Marvel characters that he is no longer a hero of the horror genre but a hero with horror roots who inhabits the Marvel superhero universe. The mystery that is essential in horror is lost when the characters of horror are overused in a flashy superhero universe that in many ways is the antithesis of horror. Superheroes wear bright colors and fly off into the sunset versus inhabiting a world beneath the moon, moss and worms. When you juxtapose a creature of horror with a superhero the creature of horror is lessened. The suspension of disbelief is just too much. I can temporarily believe in a world of horror. I can temporarily believe in a world of superheroes. I can only believe in a world with both superheroes and horror with difficulty.
The entire Vertigo line, a DC imprint, can be seen as an excellent attempt to bring the sense of horror back to DC by creating boundaries between creatures of horror and superheroes for the purposes of better story telling. So who represents pure horror in the DC and Marvel universes? I would argue the horror hosts do! Most horror comic books are anthologies with one-shot characters that often die a horrible death at the end and are never seen again. You have the same problem with romance comics. Both genre focus on single shot stories and finding ongoing characters in both genres is hard do. So what sort of character survives in a horror comic book? The host of the stories is who!
A horror host is the host of a horror comic book anthology. The most famous horror host does not belong to either the DC or Marvel line but to EC Comics. The host for the EC comic book Tales of the Crypt was the Crypt Keeper and perhaps the only horror host to make the transition to TV where the same character hosted the very popular and long running TV show of the same name and also two movies and even a Saturday morning cartoon named Secrets of the Cryptkeepers Haunted House. The Crypt Keeper was one of the GhouLunatics and that included fellow EC horror hosts the Vault Keeper and the Old Witch.

The DC horror hosts include Abel, Cain, Charity, Destiny, Eve, Mad Mod Witch, Madame Xanadu, and Macbeth’s witches (Mordred, Mildred and Cynthia). Abel was the host of the House of Secrets. Cain was the host of the House of Mystery. They are the Cain and Abel of Biblical fame and an ongoing gag is that Cain kills Abel over and over again whenever there is a crossover between the two brothers. The two houses sit next to each other so a little neighborly interaction is only to be expected. Charity was the host of Forbidden Tales of the Dark Mansion and probably wins the title of most obscure and forgotten DC horror host. Destiny hosted Weird Mystery Tales. Eve hosted Secrets of Sinister House from issues # 6-16. Eve later generally replaced Destiny as the host of Weird Mystery Tales. Abel and Cain are officially cousins of Eve. The Mad Mod Witch was the, on again of again, host of Unexpected from issue #108 onwards and with the alias Fashion Thing was rebooted by Neil Gaiman in the Sandman. Madame Xanadu was the host of Doorway to Mystery. Madame Xanadu returned in the first direct sales only comic book in Madame Xanadu. The series is a one-shot. The witches Mordred, Mildred and Cynthia hosted the Witching Hour. Lucian was the host of the short lived Tales of Ghost Castle.  Neil Gaiman made use of all the DC horror hosts, except Charity, in his Sandman series. Heck, even Lucian, perhaps the most obscure of the horror hosts became a librarian of the Sandman.  All the horror hosts have gone onto new fame and prominence in the Vertigo line that probably exceeds the fame and prominence they had during their original title runs in the sixties and seventies.

In the Sandman title, Destiny and is one of the Endless who in turn are mightier than gods. Destiny has been able to resist the influence of Zeus. Zeus is in turn much mightier than for example Superman. Zeus can create a female version of Superman, Wonder Woman. Destiny is one of the most powerful characters in the DC universe but is also considered the most boring story teller by Abel, Cain and Eve.

Despite a slew of horror tiles by Marvel/Atlas including Beware, Chamber of Chills, Chamber of Darkness. Creatures on the Loose, Crypt of Shadows, Dead of Night, Fear, Giant Size Chillers, Journey into Mystery (2nd series), Tomb of Darkness, Tower of Shadows, Uncanny Tales (2nd series), Vault of Evil, Weird Wonder Tales, Where Creatures Roam and Where Monsters Dwell only one of these titles had a horror host! Digger and Headstone P. Gravely hosted Tower of Shadows that was designed to go head on against DCs House of Mystery and House of Secrets. I do remember Tower of Shadows and I even remember the story of the first issue and I was like 14 years old at the time! I don’t remember the horror hosts at all. Two unknown hosts versus an interconnected family of DC hosts that are major part of the current DC/Vertigo universe? This contest doesn’t seem fair at all and I am going to change the rules! I am going to bring in a Marvels number one comic book host! The Watcher!

The Watcher acted as a host to futuristic stories in Tales of Suspense starting in issue #39 in the sixties. The Watcher acted as second story to the main Iron Man story. The stories were titled Tales of the Watcher. I actually often preferred the Watcher stories to the Iron Man stories and am totally aghast that Marvel has not made an Essential version of Tales of the Watcher. I mean Werewolf by Night and Spiderwoman get an Essential volume but not those great stories by the Watcher? The tradition was carried on in the first volume of the Silver Surfer. Later still the Watcher became the host of What If stories that were 100% superhero stories but the original Tales of the Watcher were mainstream science fiction complete with a Twilight Zone sort of lesson about the universe and/or humanity told by the Watcher at the end.

Despite their genre difference the Watcher and Destiny actually have an awful lot in common. The Watcher is a cosmic entity. Destiny is a cosmic entity. Destiny is a lot more powerful but like the Watcher mostly tells stories, and despite being blind, “observes” and doesn’t really do much. The Watcher is bald and for all we know Destiny might be bald as well. Destiny always wears a cowl and this is probably to hide his baldness. I would see Destiny as being somewhere in the power class of the Living Tribunal over at Marvel. Destiny and the Living Tribunal both wear cowls by the way. The Watcher is at least two hierarchical levels below the Living Tribunal.

The Living Tribunal is even more powerful than Eternity or Death that only represent the totality of one universe. Both Destiny and the Living Tribunal are multiverse type beings that more or less bring balance to the multiverse. There isn’t a different Destiny or Living Tribunal in each universe but one for the whole dang multiverse. A being that performs a balancing multiverse function has to be more powerful than any being limited to one universe no matter how powerful they are in that one universe. Destiny could squash the Watcher but this won’t happen.
Destiny and the Watcher are hyper rational, Mr. Spock is emotional compared to those two, and I do mean the old Mr. Spock, not that new guy French kissing Uhura, and would never engage in aggressive behavior except in self defense and neither would attack the other first since that would be illogical, uncivilized and just bad manners. Destiny and the Watcher both exchange the very best stories from their mutual universes and agree I am not a very good story teller and perhaps should find another hobby. This “DC versus Marvel” story ends in a draw.

My other website at:

Fox Superpower List

Other DC vs. Marvel Posts

Big Monsters

Fourth Wall Heroes

Funny Animals

Horror Hosts

Kids

Robots

Sidekicks

Spacemen

Superpets

Teenagers

Transportation

War Heroes

Weapons

Western Heroes

Women in Refrigerators

Working Women

WereVerse Universe Baby!

DC vs. Marvel Teenagers

Archie proposes to Veronica!

Archie has finally proposed to Veronica and in honor of this event I have written the following post about teenage humor comic books.

This is the sixth post in a series that pits non superhero genre heroes from the DC and Marvel universes against each other.  The first post looked at Westerns and Western heroes (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/dc-vs-marvel-western-heroes/ ), the second post looked at war comics and war heroes (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/dc-vs-marvel-war-heroes/ ), the third post looked at women’s comics and working women (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/dc-vs-marvel-working-women ) and the fourth post looked at space operas and spacemen (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/dc-vs-marvel-spacemen/ ).  The fifth post analyzed funny animals (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/06/10/dc-vs-marvel-funny-animals/ )

The genre of this post is teenage humor and the heroes are the teenagers of this non superhero genre.  The ultimate comic book archetype of this genre would be Archie published by MLJ/Archie Comics.  The enduring success of Archie has created many imitators over the years. Archie was so successful that characters in his universe became spin off titles.  Some of the Archie characters that had their own titles include Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie and even less well known characters such as Principal Weatherby, Dilton Doily, and Big Ethel.   Interestingly, Archie went through a superhero phase.  The Archie superhero stories were written as parodies of regular superheroes.  Archie was Pureheart the Powerful.  Jughead was Captain Hero.

The DC teenagers include Scribbly, Buzzy, Binky, Scooter and Debbie.  Scribbly the boy cartoonist was invented by comic book giant Sheldon Mayer for Dell Comics in 1936.  Scribbly moved to the back pages of DCs All American Comics in 1939.  The last appearance of Scribbly in that title was in 1944.  When Archie became popular, Scribbly returned in his own series for 15 issues between 1948 and 1952.  Binky then appeared in the back pages of DC’s other two teen humor titles, Buzzy and Leave it to Binky.

Buzzy was a hipster, unlike Archie, and one of the few none Archie clones in this genre.  Buzzy was part of a five-piece combo.  Buzzy graduated from the All Funny Comics anthology to his own title that ran from 1944 to 1958.  Buzzy became more and more an Archie clone during the run of the title.

Binky started in his own title, Leave it to Binky, immediately in 1948 in response to the success of Archie.  Binky was a teenager in high school and his title lasted until 1958.  Binky won the Shazam Award for best inker in 1970 and this is not a genre known for winning awards.

Scooter was the main character in the title Swing with Scooter that was launched in 1966 almost ten years after the demise of Buzzy and Binky. Scooter was named after his scooter that he used for transportation and was a British mod.  A mod can be considered a type of sixties British hippie.  Scooter was transplanted to Laurel City, USA.  Scooter was lucky enough to be born in an era when crossovers became more common and he met the likes of Batman and Superman.  There will be no such teen humor/superhero crossover until Archie meets the Punisher published in 1994.

Scooter is probably the only DC character of the teen humor genre that I remember.  I was born in 1957 and missed all the other DC teens due to my age but vaguely remember running into Scooter in the newsstands.  My own parents were into the whole hippie, mod, whatever thing in the sixties, and because of this, I found the character a little interesting but even as a youth was smart enough to realize this comic book was being written by people who had no idea what was going on in the sixties counter culture.  The writers were middle aged, the slang was more lame than hip.  When a 12 year old can figure this out about your dialogue then your title is in trouble.  I had been an on and off, tepid fan, of Archie since I was eight years old until I was about 14, so the problem wasn’t that I didn’t like the genre.  The problem wasn’t I didn’t like Scooter.  Scooter lasted 36 issues and for a non superhero genre that is pretty good so maybe the slang worked on other less worldly teens.

Debbi starred in Date with Debbi that ran 18 issues from1969 to 1972.  Debbi was a red head.  Debbi looked like a female version of Archie, right down to the chubby cheeks and this is not a good thing!  I am surprised the series lasted as long as it did.

I have mentioned in other posts, in this series, how the DC imprint Vertigo has consistently rebooted non superhero material from DC’s obscure comic book past.  I challenge Vertigo to do a miniseries about DC’s long lost teens.  How about a look at the teens twenty years later?  The DC teens are all working as office workers at a paper company, no, the paper company has already been done, maybe a computer support company.  They go to a bar and reminiscence about their lost youth and decide to do something crazy as a group.  Look up their lost loves?  This would give an excuse to see all their supporting casts.  Go to Thailand?  Maybe they do something even crazier.  Maybe they take acid together in Amsterdam that was accidentally mixed with alien DNA and they merge into Super Hip.  Maybe a road trip where they see their lost loves, go to Thailand and then go to Amsterdam.

Super Hip briefly appeared in the Adventures of Bob Hope DC comic book and basically could alter reality as this super power is referred to nowadays.  Mostly Super Hip displayed Superman type powers.  Super Hip’s alter ego, Tad, went to Benedict Arnold High School.  Super Hip is one of those totally obscure DC characters that didn’t even rate a mention in Who’s Who in the DC Universe.  Super Hip was drawn in a cartoony style that was reminiscent of teen humor characters.  I think Super Hip was some sort of misguided attempt to combine a super hero with a teen humor character.

The Marvel teenagers include Millie the Model, Chili and Patsy Walker. Patsy Walker was popular from the 1940s until 1967 and even supported several spin off titles.  Patsy Walker was a red head and her romantic rival was black haired Hedy Wolfe.  Betty and Veronica, of Archie Comics, of course are blonde and black haired respectively and minus super hero costumes perhaps hair color is needed to differentiate comic book characters in situations where a lack of a consistent house style can confuse young readers.  In 1973, Marvel brought back the name but totally rewrote the character, and made Patsy Walker the alter Ego of the super heroine known as Hellcat.  This is similar to what Marvel did with Night Nurse, a romance genre heroine that was remade into the nurse of super heroes.

There is some overlap between romance comics and teenage humor comics.  For example, Millie the Model went back and forth from being a romance comic to a teen humor comic.  The art on the cover lets the reader know which version of Millie they are dealing with immediately.  The romance comic version of Millie the Model issues were drawn in a more realistic fashion.  The teen humor version is in a cartoony style that imitated the Archie Comics house style.

Chili was the red headed rival of Millie and in her own series was consistently a teen humor title.  The clothes that Millie and Chili wore are a big part of both series.  Both titles featured paper dolls and outfits in the comic book.  Many of the Millie comics, the romance version, showed off very glamorous fifties type outfits.  Many covers of Millie had her sporting evening gowns and furs.  Not exactly something you would wear to the mall.  I think Marilyn Monroe might have been the inspiration for these covers.  Chili,in her own series, on the other hand, consistently wore very mod clothes with bright colors and even pant suits and wore stylish clothes you might actually see in the mall in the late sixties and seventies.

Despite the difference in art styles between the teen humor and romance genres, there are many similarities in plot lines.  Both genres highlight male/female relationships in general and love triangles in particular, but the story line of a romance comic leads to love or a broken heart while the story line of a teenage humor comic leads to a punch line.

Another interesting difference between the plot lines is that teenage humor generally portrays a young man such as Archie being pursued by two gals such as Betty and Veronica.  In romance comics, a woman is pursued by two men.  One of the men would be the wild one and one the stable one.  In teenage humor the main difference between the two gals would be the color of their hair.  Although upon further examination Betty represents the nice girl next door while Veronica is more of a vamp but the main difference between them is definitely their hair color.  A Mad Magazine parody of Archie named Starchie highlights this lack of difference between Betty and Veronica.  Starchie tells that parody version of Jughead that Betty and Veronica are drawn totally differently despite the fact they have had identical poses and are drawn exactly alike, except for their hair, throughout the parody.

 starchie1

Teens in this genre do not fight but instead compete romantically and generally win or lose via practical jokes.  The three Marvel female teens, Millie the Model, Patsy Walker and Chili go out on a group date with the DC teens, Scribbly, Buzzy, Binky, Scooter and Debbi.  There are four women and four men so someone is going to go home alone.  Millie the Model is a model!  In teen humor comics looks are everything so all the guys go after Millie, leaving Patsy and Debbie to sulk in the soda shop and reflect how unfair life is.

Patsy, Debbi and Chili decide to play a trick on the guys.  After all fellow red heads have to stick together when dealing with gorgeous blondes!  Patsy and Debbie slip some pepper and salt into the sodas of the guys while the boys all stare at Chili and Millie walking to the restroom together.  Chili is deliberately doing her sexiest walk, in her tight, oh so sixties, short, short little dress.  Did I mention that I have very fond memories of sixties styles?  The boys all choke on their foul tasting sodas and Patsy, Debbie and Chili laugh their heads off.  The boys agree this is a very funny joke and that they deserved their treatment because of how they ignored the red heads.  Scooter is a mod, with a sixties, as opposed to fifties view of sexuality and has actually been with a woman. Scooter starts to reflect that Chili is pretty mod and that the competition for Millie is just too intense.  Later Scooter and Chili will marry and then divorce.  The Marvel red heads hurt the DC men, even if they had help from a DC gal, so Marvel wins!

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DC vs. Marvel Funny Animals

 Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew

This is the fifth post that pits non-superheroes from the DC universe against characters from the Marvel universe.  The first post looked at Westerns and Western heroes (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/dc-vs-marvel-western-heroes/), the second post looked at war comics and war heroes (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/dc-vs-marvel-war-heroes/), the third post looked at women’s comics and working women (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/dc-vs-marvel-working-women) and the fourth post looked at space operas and spacemen (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/dc-vs-marvel-spacemen/).

What is a funny animal in comic books?  A funny animal is an anthropomorphic animal that is generally in humorous situations.  Mickey Mouse and Bugs Bunny are both famous examples of funny animals.  Disney and Looney Tunes funny animals are much more famous and relevant than DC and Marvel funny animals and many readers may be surprised that DC and Marvel even have had their own funny animals.  This is a bit of a media mystery.  Superheroes have dominated comic books but not other media such as video.  Funny animals would seem to be a natural genre for comic books and why they are so much more popular and prevalent in video than comic books is an interesting topic that deserves attention.

The funny animals of DC include Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew, Dodo and the Frog, Doodles Duck, Flippity & Flop, J. Rufus Lion, Nutsy Squirrel, Peter Panda, Peter Porkchops, Racoon Kids, Tito and his Burrito and the Three Mouseketeers.  Warner Bros had a video series of Krypto the Super Dog.  Warner Bros is the parent company of DC.  Krypto is the dog of Superboy in DC but was rebotted by Warner Bros.  DC also licensed the Fox and the Crow from Columbia and this comic book title ran

Funny Stuff was the title in which many of DC’s funny animals appeared including Dunbar Dodo and Fennimore Frog, J. Rufus Lion, the Three Mouseketeers, Peter Porkchops and the Racoon Kids.  The Funny Stuff title ran from 1947 to 1957.

The funny animals of Marvel include Spider Ham, Super Rabbit and Top Dog.  Spider Ham is a parody of Spider-Man.  Marvel has far fewer funny animals than DC and they are all superhero parodies.  Howard the Duck would be Marvel’s top funny animals.  There was even a live action movie about Howard the Duck.  The problem is that Howard the Duck is more superhero than funny animal.  Howard the Duck exists in the mainstream Marvel Universe and is more a science fiction story than a funny animal story.

The only DC collection of funny animals that is around today is Captain Carrot and the Zoo crew, another superhero parody.  Captain Carrot is more or less a parody of Superman.  The other members of the Zoo Crew include Alley-Kat-Abra, Pig-Iron, Rubberduck, Yankee Poodle, Fastback, Little Cheese, and American Eagle.  The top funny animal of DC is Captain Carrot.  The top funny animal of Marvel is Spider Ham.  The two top funny animals go at it.

Spider Ham is a spider that was turned into an anthropomorphic pig with more or less than same powers as Spider Man.  Captain Carrot, as mentioned, has more or less the same superpowers as Superman but must eat a cosmic irradiated carrot to get the superpowers and they wear off after 24 hours.  Captain Carrot keeps two carrots holstered on his belt for supplies.  Superman can beat Spiderman easily so therefore Captain Carrot easily defeats Spider Ham.

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DC vs. Marvel Spacemen

Clash of the Spacemen!

Clash of the Spacemen!

This is the fourth post in a series of posts that compare DC and Marvel non-superhero genres.  The first post looked at Westerns (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/dc-vs-marvel-western-heroes/).  The second post looked at war heroes (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/03/21/dc-vs-marvel-war-heroes/).  The third post looked at women’s comics (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/dc-vs-marvel-working-women/).  The genre is space opera and the heroes are spacemen.  This genre is a little harder to differentiate from the common super hero.  After all many superheroes have alien origins.  The very first superhero, arguably, Superman is from the planet Krypton but anyone who knows comic books and science fiction would not argue he is a space opera hero.  The main characteristic of space opera is that the action is almost entirely in space.  Superman has had his share of adventures in outer space but most of his adventures happen on Earth.  Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon are some early examples of the space hero in comic books. 

 

The DC spacemen are Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Knights of the Galaxy, Space Cabby, Space Ranger, Star Hawkins, Tommy Tomorrow and Ultra the Multi-alien.  All of these heroes were brought together in a three issue mini-series Twilight in 1990.  Twilight brought all of DC’s space heroes and characters together in a reboot that is dystopian and very different from the optimistic and naïve tone of the Silver Age originals.  Twilight is a precursor of what Vertigo Press will do on a regular basis when this press is formed in 1993. 

 

These DC space comic books were particularly popular in the Silver Age and I would say this was my favorite non-superhero genre growing up.  Westerns were ok.  I didn’t really get war comics until years later.  Women’s comics in the form of Romance comics were rare and far between.  The space opera titles on the other hand were comics I would keep an eye out for.  Adam Strange, Captain Comet, Space Ranger and Tommy Tomorrow would be the big four of the space men.  The Knights of the Galaxy, Space Cabby and Star Hawkins are much more obscure characters.  An ancestor of Adam Strange and Space Ranger did appear in a comic book together during the Silver Age in Mystery in Space #94.  Mystery in Space was also were most of the Silver Age space men appeared.  Cross-overs at DC in the early Silver Age were few and far between and their common genre identity was probably the cause. 

 

The most famous of all the space men is Adam Strange.  Adam Strange has a ray gun and a jet back pack but aside from that is a normal Earthman or as normal as any comic book hero can be.  Adam Strange is transported to the planet Rann on a regular basis where he has many adventures.  He also has a pretty hot girl friend on that planet.  Alan Moore did a really good story with Adam Strange titled “Mysteries in Space”, Swamp Thing #57, second series.   The title is obviously a take off on the Mystery in Space title.  The relative alien identity of Adam Strange was highlighted.  Adam Strange was offered membership in the Justice League of America, a first tier DC superhero group while the other space men never ever even met first tier DC superheroes.  Adam Strange was also a major player in the recent DC multi-title event the Rann-Thangar War that attempted to flesh out DC space empires in a way similar to the Marvel Kree-Skrull war had many years earlier.

Years later Captain Comet was rescued from comic book oblivion in a Vertigo title but during his original run was very obscure.  Captain Comet is a variation on Superman.  Captain Comet is a mutant that represents what we will evolve into in the distant future who decides Earth is boring and goes off into space.  Captain Comet is nowhere near as strong and invulnerable as Superman but is a fair telepath and telepathy means you know your opponents weaknesses. 

 

A contest between them would be kind of like Kyle XY versus Clark Kent of Smallville and be very interesting.  Kyle would know all about Kryptonite and have the super intelligence to use this knowledge for maximum tactical and strategic advantage. Dime a dozen hoods get the jump on Clark with Kryptonite in Smallville so I think Clark is probably toast.

 

I have not read a Space Cabby story in years but to this day I remember the very interesting premise.  The Space Cabby was a cabby but he had a space ship and he could jaunt around the solar system.  So if you needed a quick ride from Earth to Mars then he was your man.  Space Cabby emphasized humorous adventures and this is in direct contrast to the melodramatic nature of space opera in general. 

 

Ultra the Multi-Alien is the comic book equivalent of a winner of the Rotten Tomatoes award.  The comic book was so garish and over the top, obscure and just plain bad that you couldn’t help but like the title.  Prez and the Geek would be two other Silver Age titles that merit the same type of award.   An Earthman due to a bizarre ray gun malfunction received the body parts of four other aliens.  Each body part has a different power.  Kind of like the movie The Fly but instead of merging with one insect, the character merges with four insects and of course more is better.  I hereby create my own superhero based on this premise!

 

Beware of Insectoid the Multi-Insect Man!  He has the claws of a praying mantis, the wings and eyes of a fly, the stinger of a scorpion and the antennae of a ant that gives him some other super senses that insects generally don’t have.  Anyone interested in this character should contact me at foxhugh@yahoo.com.  Only serious requests will be considered!  So I guess that means no requests will considered.

 

The Marvel list is much smaller and includes Captain Jet Dixon, Captain Marvel, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Speed Carter Spaceman and the Star Jammers.  I would consider myself a bit of a comic book historian and I never read or heard about Captain Jet Dixon or Speed Carter Spaceman until I did some research for this post.  This is unfortunate since based on my research they are pretty classic space men in the Buck Rogers/Flash Gordon mold clearly fit the premise of this entire post.

 

The Galaxy Rangers and Star Jammers are Bronze Age space men.  They are about a thousand times more relevant and famous than Captain Jet Dixon or Speed Carter Spaceman.  The adventures of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Star Jammers do take place almost entirely in space but are still more superheroes than spacemen.  The tolerance of fans for non-superhero genres during the Bronze Age of comics was a lot lower than during the Silver Age and superhero elements had to be grafted onto heroes from other genres in order for them to survive.  I mention the Punisher as hero that combines war hero and super hero elements in my war hero post and I think this is similar phenomena.

 

I think the Star Jammers are basically the X-Men set in space and have their origins in the X-Men titles.  The Guardians of the Galaxy started more as space men but then evolved into superheroes.  The premise is that in the future solar system planets have been terraformed and genetic engineering has been used to make humans that can live in these terraformed planets that are still pretty inhospitable.  So you have a crystalline humanoid from Pluto and a super strong soldier from Jupiter, etc.  The first issue that premiered caught my eye and they wore futuristic but non-superhero clothing and I liked the premise.  Years later the costumes changed and they started hanging around the Avengers, got a ton more members and became the Avengers in space. 

 

Something similar happened to Captain Marvel who was a Kree soldier who wore a very space man kind of costume and used a ray gun but later got one of the coolest superhero costumes ever and lost the ray gun and gained some nega bands and lot of other cool powers to boot.  The Kree is a intergalactic empire consisting of thousands of worlds that often is in conflict with the Skrulls.  These are very much ray gun and space ship aliens.  The Skrulls even use flying saucers.  Heroes like the reborn Captain Marvel even have a category in the Marvel Universe and are considered cosmic superheroes. 

 

The adventures of cosmic superheroes take place in space but this is a cosmic space far away from anything Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon could handle.  In many ways this cosmic version of space is magical and more importantly mythic.  Characters like Galactus, the Watcher, the Silver Surfer, the Elders of the Universe and Thanos have adventures in the cosmos not space.  They have no need for space ships or ray guns and can often alter reality through a super science that is the power cosmic.  This genre transformation process seems to be a hallmark of Marvel as opposed to DC.  The Skrulls may have thousands of world under their dominion but hide like ants when the Silver Surfer was the herald of Galactus in their original appearance in the Fantastic Four Galactus Trilogy that created Marvel’s cosmic space. 

 

DC takes non-superhero heroes and lets Vertigo Press do really interesting things with them while maintaining their core genre identity.  All non-superhero heroes in the Marvel universe end up becoming superheroes!  Night Nurse, who I mention in my women’s comic post (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2009/04/11/dc-vs-marvel-working-women/) ends up becoming the nurse of superheroes years after her original appearance.  I guess if I have a choice of being transported to the DC or Marvel universe then I should pick the Marvel universe since I am about a hundred times more likely to become a superhero in that universe than the DC universe and that was pretty much my life goal until I was six and “grew up”.  I put the phrase in quotations since someone writing these posts has arguably not grown up!

 

So hard choices, do I pick the famous hybrid space men/super hero men of Marvel or the pure space men of Marvel no one ever heard of?  I will do a little bit of both.  The Star Jammers and Guardians of the Galaxy are superhero teams that are a hundred times more powerful than guys like Adam Strange and Space Ranger and I like these guys to much due to early childhood sentiment to pit them in such an unfair contest without a little tidbit ahead of time.  So Captain Jet Dixon and Speed Carter Spaceman just got drafted.

 

Captain Jet Dixon goes up against Adam Strange and Adam Strange easily beat him to the ray gun draw since he has had a hundred more issues to master target practice.  The Knights of the Galaxy go up against the Guardians of the Galaxy because they both have galaxy in their name and the non-super powered knights are easily defeated by the Galaxy Rangers with their numerous superpowers. 

 

The Knights of the Galaxy were space man types with ray guns and space ships that followed a knightly code.  The knightly code isn’t going to do them much good against a top tier super hero group like the Guardians of the Galaxy.  This mingling of medieval and science fiction is not a first for DC and the Atomic Knights come to mind.  I do mention the Atomic Knights in another post on this blog (https://foxhugh.wordpress.com/2008/05/25/dc-vs-valiant-universe-2-armorines-vs-the-atomic-knights/).  I also mentioned in the prior war hero post that the mingling of two non-superhero genres is a hallmark of DC rather than Marvel. DC has weird westerns, weird wars and even haunted tanks, supernatural plus war comic.  I love it!

 

Space Ranger goes up against Speed Carter Spacemen and in a low tone of voice informs him that he is the Space Ranger and nobody’s like Carter should flee and Carter does.  The Guardians of the Galaxy then descend on Adam Strange and Space Ranger and give them a space whupping they will never forget. 

 

Captain Comet fights Captain Marvel since they both have Captain in their name.  This is actually a really tough fight to call.  They both have super strength, invulnerability, and flight.  Captain Marvel has cosmic awareness which is kind of like spider sense on steroids but is not an out and out telepath.  Captain Comet reads Captain Marvel’s mind and realizes if you slam the nega bands on his wrists together then Captain Marvel is banished to the negative zone and proceeds to do just that.  Captain Comet is feeling pleased for about one minute until the Guardians of the Galaxy gang up on him and beat him senseless.  The Marvel, kind of, space men win!

 

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Transportation

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WesternHeroes

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