The Secret Lives of Villains #205

Strip 203 lettered.jpg

Advertisements

Golden Age Showcase: Doiby Dickles

Let’s talk about sidekicks.

Image result for superhero sidekicks

The sidekick’s job is to watch the main hero’s back and help in any way possible.  Sometimes this means providing support and help from afar and sometimes it means getting their hands dirty and joining the hero in his/her adventures.

More often than not, comic book publishers use sidekicks as a way to fill a need in the comic that the hero can’t fill.  In the case of Robin the Boy Wonder, it was a way for DC Comics to make one of their most popular heroes more kid friendly and accessible in a time where comic book superheroes were facing a lot of scrutiny.

Over the course of comic book history there have been plenty of other sidekicks.  Some have worked,

Image result for robin batman

and some have not.

Image result for bad superhero sidekicks

Today we’re talking about a Golden Age super sidekick that belongs in the “did not work” category, although if you ask me it’s a crying shame.

Today we’re going to talk about Doiby Dickles.

Image result for doiby dickles

Origin and Career

The Green Lantern of the 1940’s was radically different from the Green Lantern we know today.

Image result for golden age green lantern

Instead of being an interstellar cop who got his powers from an advanced piece of alien technology, the Golden Age Green Lantern was a railroad engineer named Alan Scott who used a ring powered by magic.

Image result for golden age green lantern

When popular heroes like Batman and Superman experienced a sales boost by adopting sidekicks, National Comics turned to legendary comic book creator Bill Finger to create a sidekick for Alan.

Image result for bill finger

I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: Bill Finger wasn’t just a big name for the Green Lantern, he also helped create a huge chunk of the Batman mythos we know and love today.

Doiby made his first appearance in All American Comics #27 in June of 1941.

Image result for all american comics 27

The man was a Brooklyn taxi driver who drove Alan Scott around as needed.

Image result for doiby dickles

He spoke with a thick Brooklyn accent, always wore a derby hat, and wasn’t afraid to get into a fight when he needed to.

Image result for doiby dickles

He had something of a temper as well and could swing a wrench with enough power to make him a force to be reckoned with.

Image result for doiby dickles gertrude

Also, he was incredibly attached to his cab, who he named “Goitrude”.

Image result for doiby dickles

In short, Doiby Dickles was an ill tempered, foul mouthed cab driver who was quick in a fight and wanted to do everything he could to help.

He was magnificent.

So what happened?

The Golden Age of superheroes ended and the ensuing Silver Age took more of a science fiction bent.

Image result for silver age of comics

This included a dramatic revamping of the Green Lantern series which shifted from the magic wielder Alan Scott to the galactic space cop Hal Jordan that we know and love today.

Image result for silver age of comics hal jordan

Sadly, this meant that the new age of comics didn’t have time and room for a hard talking fast punching maniac like Doiby,

Image result for silver age doiby dickles

so DC decided to ship him off into space and marry an alien princess named Ramia from the planet Myrg after saving her from a forced marriage to a man named Prince Peril.

Image result for doiby dickles and raima

Doiby and Ramia would return to Myrg where Doiby would become it’s king.  The people of Myrg would go on to adopt Brooklyn accents and recreate the baseball field where the Brooklyn Dodgers played.

God, the Silver Age was weird.

While Doiby was no longer a member of the main supporting cast he did manage the odd guest appearance where he actually helped the Green Lanterns defeat Sinestro.

Image result for doiby dickles and sinestro

Sadly, Goitrude was destroyed in the battle.  It’s one of the most heartbreaking deaths in all of comics.

While that was the extent of his Silver Age career, Doiby was nowhere near done as a character.  He would continue to have revival after unlikely revival, even into the modern age.

Image result for doiby dickles myrg king

He made an appearance with a superhero group known as “Old Justice”.

It was a joke group of old superheroes who made it their mission to keep the younger generation of superheroes in check and make sure they didn’t mess things up too much,

Naturally they became a thorn in the side of the more famous “Young Justice” superhero team, although in the end they did manage to put aside their differences and let the young ones do their jobs.

If you want to read more stories with Doiby in them, I recommend the Young Justice “Sins of Youth” story line.

Image result for young justice sins of youth

Doiby’s next adventure would be with Young Justice again, when they agreed to help him travel back to Myrg and defeat an alien race known as the Slag by playing a game of baseball.

Cover

It’s worth mentioning that the team was only able to win by blatantly cheating.

Sadly, the baseball game was the last major appearance for Doiby Dickles.  The rest of his appearances are guest spots and flashbacks with Alan Scott.

Image result for doiby dickles slag

So, according to DC continuity, Doiby is still out there on an alien planet and is enjoying a long and happy life with an alien queen while ruling a race of Brooklyn accented extra terrestrials.

Shine on you crazy bastard, you deserve it.

Image result for doiby dickles

Golden Age Showcase: Doctor Nitro

I said this year would be a bit different for this blog series by focusing on some of the more creative villains of the Golden Age of Comics and I intend to keep that promise.

The problem with Golden Age villains is that many of them were never meant to have any serious staying power.  Sure, you’ve got classics such as the Joker,

Image result for golden age joker

and the Red Skull,

Image result for golden age red skull

but even these guys were simply reduced to being cackling mad men who were given the simple job of being evil for the sake of being evil and crumpling like wet cardboard once the hero started punching things.

It’s important to remember that during this time comics were built around the heroes and it was simply accepted that the hero always had to win.  I’m not trying to mock the hard working and underpaid writers and artists who created these guys, it’s just that the comic book scene of the 1940’s and 1950’s was a bit different than it was today.

Couple that with the fact that a lot of superheroes at the time weren’t above killing the bad guys,

Image result for golden age superheroes killing

and it’s pretty easy to see why creators didn’t really focus on making great bad guys.

So here’s a blog post about an old foe of the Whizzer, Doctor Nitro.

Image result for timely comics doctor nitro

Origin and Career

The evil doctor made his first appearance in U.S.A Comics #16 in 1945.

He was so obscure and one note that this is the only photo I have been able to find of him.

Image result for timely comics doctor nitro

If I could describe the Doctor’s motivations in one word it would be generic.  He didn’t have an interesting or compelling backstory, he didn’t have some sort of special mutant ability, and he wasn’t particularly memorable or crazy.

While his motivations may have been generic, his methods certainly weren’t.  The Doctor was an explosives expert (with a name like Nitro that really isn’t surprising) who developed a special explosive that could only be detonated by being exposed to a certain type of ray.

Nitro manages to smuggle this explosive into his prison cell by pretending that it’s hand lotion and manages to escape after detonating a bomb that kills two guards.

After escaping and rejoining his gang, Doctor Nitro planned on becoming rich by blackmailing the wealthy and elite into paying him or he would kill them with the explosive.

The Whizzer witnesses one of Nitro’s henchmen kill a man named Standards and manages to trace the killing back to the Doctor.  While Nitro does manage to douse the Whizzer with his special explosive formula the hero is just too fast for him and manages to round up the evil Doctor and his gang in order to save the day.

Doctor Nitro was last seen in police custody, his current fate is unknown.

How can he be remade/reworked?

The Doctor was only given one appearance in 1945, he didn’t have a career after that.

So instead we’re going to try and remake/rework him for a modern audience and see if he could be a good fit for modern day readers.

Honestly, I think this guy could work, mostly because during my research Doctor Nitro reminded me of this guy.

Image result for speed movie villain

That man’s name is Howard Payne.  He was played by Dennis Hopper as the villain of the hit 1994 movie Speed.

Image result for speed movie

Howard is a retired bomb squad officer from the Atlanta police force who took a group of hostages on board an L.A bus and demanded a ransom of 3.7 million dollars or he would blow up the bus and all the people in it.

Besides sharing similar motives with Howard Payne, Doctor Nitro shares a similar love for explosives and creative ways of blowing things up.

What’s even better is that in the world of comics, Doctor Nitro can still fit in quite well.

Personally, I wouldn’t change the character and motivations at all.  He’s an incredibly talented bomb maker who has a knack for creating explosives that are undetectable and can be utilized in interesting and unorthodox ways.

Granted, there are a couple of comic book characters that utilize new and interesting technology,

Image result for iron man

and there are even plenty of super villains that use the power of explosives as their main weapon,

Image result for marvel comics nitro

but I think the best place to put Doctor Nitro would be as a smart, capable, and behind the scenes antagonist to S.H.I.E.L.D.

Image result for s.h.i.e.l.d comics

If I was writing him, the new Doctor Nitro would be half mad scientist, half bomb maker, and only interested in selling his services and products to the highest bidder.  Perhaps he could have had a previous job as a scientist for S.H.I.E.L.D but decided that they didn’t pay him nearly enough and decided to go freelance.

As for the villain’s tools, I think that he could not only be fun, but also pretty socially relevant.

Image result for ied

It’s no small secret that improvised explosive devices (IED’s) are a favorite and well known tool for terrorists in and around places like the Middle East, but with the new Doctor Nitro and his explosive expertise there is a whole new world of bizarre and interesting ways to challenge our heroes.

For example, if Nitro’s explosive can be disguised as hand lotion, what’s stopping him from creating an edible explosive?  If the charge doesn’t need a detonator to blow up maybe Nitro’s intended target could be killed off after eating a meal laced with explosives and detonated when exposed to a certain type of radiation?  How would S.H.I.E.L.D manage to stop a bomb maker who leaves no trace and doesn’t work with conventional materials?

There are plenty of interesting things that could be done with Doctor Nitro, it would be an absolute shame to waste him.

Hey, thanks for reading!  Just a quick heads up, we also publish a web comic called “The Secret Lives of Villains” ever Tuesday and Thursday and we have our first printed volume available for sale on Amazon!  If you would like to support this blog, and read some pretty awesome comics, please feel free to pick up a copy here.

Golden Age Showcase: The Patriot

Happy post Super Bowl everyone!

Last night was one of the greatest games I have ever seen and I am so happy that my favorite team won their fifth championship.

Image result for new england patriots super bowl 2017

Full disclosure, I am a huge fan of the New England Patriots so I would like to apologize for anyone reading this who isn’t a football fan and has to put up with yet another half crazed fan talking about something that’s not that interesting.  As for anyone who was hoping for the Patriots to lose, I’m not sorry in the slightest.

The game was one of the greatest things I have ever seen, so I thought it might be fitting to talk about an old school hero named The Patriot.

Image result for timely comics the patriot

Look, it was either this guy or Sportsmaster and I chose him.

Origin and Career

The Patriot was a second string character created by writer Ray Gill and artist Bill Everett,

Image result for bill everett

who was also the man who created Namor the Submariner.

The character first appeared in The Human Torch #4 in April of 1941.

Image result for the human torch #4 1941

Fun fact: the issue is rather famous for a printing error that stated it was issue #3 instead of #4.

Anyway, the Patriot’s actual name was Jeffery Mace and his first appearance was in a ten page backup story titled “The Yellowshirts turn Yellow!” where the Patriot defeated a group of people looking to subvert the United States war effort by overthrowing the United States government.

Image result for timely comics the patriot

The character proved to be pretty popular for a backup character and would go on to have a successful, if not a bit standard and cliche, career as a secondary character in The Human Torch comics and Marvel Mystery Comics as well.

Image result for the patriot marvel mystery comics

I like to think that if Captain America didn’t turn out to be as popular, the Patriot would have been able to become a much more established superhero.  He wasn’t flashy, he didn’t have any special powers or particularly noteworthy stories, but he did his job and was popular enough to have a pretty long and storied career in the 1940’s.

So what happened?

Life tip: if you want to survive through trying times, you have to be able to stand out so people notice you.  The Patriot did not have that chance and as a result died out with the superhero fad in the late 1940’s.

With that being said, his previous popularity gave him something that a lot of his colleagues never had: a second chance.

His first appearance was in The Avengers #97 along with his colleague in arms The Fin (the same guy we talked about last week) as a mental projection of Rick Jones in order to wage war on the Kree and Skrull.

Image result for the patriot simulacrum

He wound up joining the retconned superhero group known as The Liberty Legion and was given a much more fleshed out backstory in the 1970’s.

Image result for the patriot the invaders

Image result for marvel comics the liberty legion

They gave the man a much more fleshed out backstory that gave him some much deeper connections to the Marvel Universe as a whole.

In the new reality Jeffery Mace was a reporter for the Daily Bugle (Spiderman!) who was inspired by his idol Captain America.

Image result for jeffrey mace captain america

He even got to BE Captain America for a little bit when Marvel published a “What if?” story where he got to don the uniform of Captain America for a bit in order to explain how the hero could have continued to work after being frozen in ice.

Image result for jeffrey mace captain america

He was actually the third person to don the costume.  That’s him carrying the previous Captain America stand in, a hero called “The Spirit of ’76”.

Jeffery had a couple of guest appearances after that and was killed off in main continuity in 1983.

Image result for jeffrey mace death

But for some wonderful reason, the Patriot still had some juice left in the tank.

In the modern day Jeffery’s story was retold in a comic book series called Captain America: Patriot that took a closer look at McCarthy era America and superheroes who wear the red, white, and blue.

Image result for captain america: patriot

His legacy lives on with a kid named Eli Bradley (the son of Isaiah Bradley from the excellent Truth: Red, White, and Black) working with the Young Avengers.

Image result for patriot young avengers

Also, for the first time in this entire blog, I can say that we have a superhero who actually made it outside of comics and into the movies!

Jeffery Mace made it onto the Marvel tv show Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D and was played by Jason O’Mara.

Image result for jeffrey mace death

I won’t go into any further details for fear of spoiling the show, but I can say that he is one of the good guys and a friend to Coulson.

The Patriot is as big, bright, and as dumb as they come.  He wasn’t meant to be all that interesting, he was written to punch Nazis and fight during the war.  What Marvel created was a patriotic mascot, what they got was one of the best and most sincere attempts to replicate Captain America, one of their greatest icons.

Image result for marvel comics patriot

 

Golden Age Showcase: Thin Man

Confession time.  I’m sitting in an airport terminal in Portland Oregon (long story) and I’ve been so busy that I nearly forgot to write an article this week.

Thankfully I’ve got about two hours to kill before my flight leaves so today we’re going to talk about the first superhero who was able to stretch his body and use it as a super power.

Today we’re going to talk about Thin Man.

Image result for golden age comics thin man

Origin and Career

The Thin Man first appeared in Mystic Comics #4 in June of 1940.

He was created by artist Polish artist Klaus Nordling (I was unable to find a picture) and an unknown writer.

As for origins, Thin Man was the first super hero who was able to stretch and mold his body into various shapes.

What really sets him apart from a various number of heroes is that while Plastic Man got his powers from a lab accident,

Image result for plastic man lab accident

and Reed Richards got his powers from cosmic rays,

Image result for reed richards cosmic rays

Thin Man got his powers from a group of advanced humans living in a forgotten valley in the Himalayas.

Thin Man’s identity was Bruce Dickenson, a scientist who was exploring the Himalayas and discovered the entrance to a forgotten kingdom called Kalahia.

After he faints, Bruce discovers that the inhabitants of Kalahia have the ability to change their shape and size at will and that for some reason they decided to give him this ability without his knowledge or consent.

What I really love about this story is how they completely disregard world changing revelations such as the existence of aliens on Mars and multiple dimensions and head straight to the crime fighting.

Bruce convinces the elders of Kalahia to allow him to travel back to his home, accompanied by the daughter of one of the elders named Ollala, because this is the Golden Age of comics and you only need three panels to do anything.

As you can see above, Bruce builds a highly advanced propeller driven plane that he uses to murder people, because the casual murder of suspected criminals is totally justified and doesn’t require any explanation.

The rest of the story involves Thin Man and Olalla foiling a group of mobsters who are trying to collect protection money from a taxi driver.

Thin Man uses his advanced technology and his ability to become as thin as a piece of paper to foil the hoodlums and bring the boss to justice.

 

I like to think that if his adventures had continued that plane would have wracked up one hell of a body count.

So what happened?

Sadly, this origin story would be Thin Man’s first and only Golden Age appearance.

However, Thin Man’s career would get a second wind in the 1970’s when he became part of the World War 2 era Marvel team known as the Liberty Legion.

Image result for thin man liberty legion

He’s on the right of the panel in the green and yellow suit.

Long story short, the Liberty Legion fought a lot of Nazis and Nazi related schemes.

Image result for liberty legion vs the invaders

Thin Man would later reveal to Captain America that he lost his family and connection to his powers after Olalla had returned to her home shortly before it had been discovered and destroyed by a Nazi villain named Agent Axis.

Image result for marvel agent axis

After Agent Axis gloated that he could not be harmed or prosecuted due to his position as a Nazi scientist working for the United States, Thin Man got angry and snapped his neck.  He was arrested by Captain America and sent to prison.

In the 2004 series The New Invaders Thin Man was pardoned by the United States government with the purpose of equipping the new version of his old team with Kalahian technology.

Image result for thin man new invaders

Unfortunately this turned out to be a ruse by the Red Skull, who was disguised as the Secretary of Defense at the time.

Image result for new invaders red skull

Thin Man would wind up creating a warship called The Infiltrator which was a massive battleship designed to be able to cloak itself from any scanner and teleport across dimensions.

The ship wound up sacrificing itself to destroy a doomsday device and saving the world from a villain named U Man.

Image result for new invaders u man

I don’t know if Thin Man was on board the ship or not when it exploded.

Thin Man is an interesting hero for a number of reason.  First, he was the first superhero who could stretch himself and change his form at will, setting the precedent for other heroes such as Reed Richards and Plastic Man.  Also, he was the ambassador of a new and different world within the Marvel universe, and if they had not been destroyed by the Nazis I’m willing to bet that they would have become an integral part of the Marvel Universe.

Kickstarter Comics that deserve more attention: Air Pirates vs. the Dragon

Today it’s a pretty simple project.  Instead of a romantic graphic novel or a five part sci fi epic (holy crap, looking back we do a lot of science fiction on this blog) we’re looking at a comic book project that tells an entire story in a single page.

Today we’re looking at Air Pirates vs. the Dragon.

The project is a single large poster detailing a young air pirate’s adventure as she gets swallowed up by a massive dragon and has to escape from the bowels of the beast’s stomach.

The campaign is run by a gentleman named Thane Benson and is looking for $1000 by January 14th, 2017.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1011388152/air-pirates-vs-the-dragon-a-giant-poster-comic?ref=category_newest

Why I like it

When you hear the word “comic” I’m going to bet a lot of you think of this.

Image result for comic books

There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that some of you might also think of this.

Image result for japanese comic books

While the idea of comic books, pictures and words combining to tell a story, has pretty universal appeal the format of comic books has developed according to the needs of the story and the resources available at the time.

For example, did you know that American comic books tend to be 22 pages long so the artist could produce art on a monthly basis?

It’s important to remember that comics don’t need to conform to a single format, and if you’re a fan of Scot McCloud’s Understanding Comics,

Image result for scott mccloud understanding comics

you know that comic books don’t need to stick to a certain format in order to be considered comics.

This is a comic,

this is a comic,

Image result for comic strip

heck, you could even make the argument that this is a comic.

Image result for egyptian wall paintings

The point is that the word “comic” can mean a lot of things and Air Pirates vs. The Dragon thinks so too.

The entire comic is a single poster that tells the a story.  You follow the numbers on the poster and it walks you through an entire story on a single image.

I think that’s really neat, and I think this project could open the doors for a lot of people to play around with the idea of a comic and come up with some really cool ideas.

Also, the artwork is really cool, colorful, and filled with neat little details that make this a fun and engaging “read”, but you already knew that from looking at that artwork.

Why you should donate

Some of the more pessimistic folks who read this article might dismiss this as a silly gimmick and in a way they’re right, but it’s a silly gimmick that works.

Plus, at some of the higher levels you get your pick of some pretty great pinups and other artwork.

Image result for thane benson artwork

Image result for thane benson artwork

Image result for thane benson artwork

It’s some really creative and cool stuff, definitely worth your time and money.

Kickstarter link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1011388152/air-pirates-vs-the-dragon-a-giant-poster-comic?ref=category_newest