Monday, February 1, 2010

More Quality Heroes

See, here's the thing. DC had their Silver Age versions of Golden Age characters. In 1955, the late Julie Schwartz (who I met at several conventions between 1986 and his passing in 2004) gave the green light on creating two books, Showcase and Brave & Bold, and starting in 1955, there were updated versions of Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Atom, among others. In a sense, the current Green Lantern shares the month and year of my birth. So this is why the Quality characters have a uniqueness, and Bob made a point by saying that Eisner's The Spirit was the best-known of all the heroes. DC picked up the rights to Fawcett Comics, as well, but almost all the books were related to Captain Marvel. I would have loved for DC to have purchased Fox, so that there would be adventures of the original Blue Beetle, but that was not to be.

DC did put out a Plastic Man comic in the late 60s, and it held its own, getting canceled after 8 issues, but keep in mind that in the 40s, PM appeared in Police Comics, an anthology with several other features. Yesterday I mentioned how kids wanted westerns and then sci-fi after WWII, plus there were all the horror comics that resulted in the comics code authority being formed. The only DC characters that remained active in their own comics throughout the 50s were Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and, surprisingly, Blackhawk, which just went straight from the Quality imprint to that of DC. In later years, Roy Thomas wrote a story explaining the absence of so many heroes in the 50s, that they had retired or operated in secret rather than give up their civilian identities before the HUUAC. Actually, a neat idea.

I posted the shot of Doll Man simply because of the guy he is punching. I thought I was a mug. Phantom Lady was fairly popular, and, I'm sorry, but Red Bee was my favorite of the Quality characters. Yes, the costume is more insane than Madame Fatal's, and yes, he kept trained bees in his belt buckle, but he had more stories than a chunk of the rest of the line. There is nothing on Google but this goofy cover from Hit Comics#1, I looked on Google until the images ended up as Red Baron pizza.

Anyhow. That's that. And, hey, isn't that a great Blackhawk cover?


Charles Gramlich said...

PHantom lady is pretty cute.

James Robert Smith said...

The Red Bee had the gayest costume in all of comics. The dude was a flamer, no doubt. Or heavily in the closet. If they ever revive him, they should let Robert Smigel write it.

Doll Man is another one that they should have kept going.

To give you a take on how comics and comics sales have changed, Jack Cole's PLASTIC MAN comic sold so well that the publishers had a royalty deal worked out for him so that he made lots of extra money if the book sold over 200K copies. While he was doing the book, it consistently sold well over that and he made hefty bonuses with each issue. When he left, the sales lagged. Of course no one in the world could write those stories the way Cole could, and no one on Earth was as good a comic artist as Cole--not Will Eisner, not no one, not nobody, not no where, not no how. He was, quite frankly, probably the most talented artist ever to turn his pen to comic books.

Gil Kane was a good comic artist, but he didn't have a molecule of the talent and humor of Jack Cole. Not knocking Gil Kane, but no one could ever measure up to Jack Cole.

Lana Gramlich said...

Plastic man became a cartoon (in the 70s, I'd say.) I used to watch it. Even as a kid, though, I was aware of how tremendously lame it was.

Steve Malley said...

I keep trained bees in my belt buckle, but you don't see *me* making a big thing of it! :)