Thursday, October 18, 2012

DP09-M03 The Eaglemoss Robotman (DC109)

.....In the previous post I detailed the sources of the appropriated illustrations used for the magazine accompanying the Elasti-Girl figurine issued from Eaglemoss Collections earlier this year. Since the credits for the magazine accompanying the Robotman figurine are identical, everything from the first two paragraphs in that post are also applicable here except the character, issue number (#109) and the date I could obtain a copy stateside (July 11th, 2012). There should now be a guide at the bottom of this blog explaining the period numbers I use to distinguish between the series cited in the sources (as well as the post titles).

.....As in the previous post, each citation begins with the page of the Eaglemoss magazine followed by the title, issue number, cover date (or shipping date for trades),  page and panel (if applicable) of the illustration's original appearance.

Page 01: Detail from standard cover of [09]DOOM PATROL #18(03/11)
Page 02: Indicia, contents and detail from [04]DOOM PATROL #46(08/91) page 4(splash) reversed except for  the words.
Page 03: Standard cover of [09]DOOM PATROL #1(10/09)
Page 03: [09]DOOM PATROL #21(06/11) page 2, panel 2 and page 6 (detail)
Page 04: [01]DOOM PATROL #105(08/66) back-up story page 10, panel 1
Page 04: [01]DOOM PATROL #112(06/67) page 6, panels 1 and 4
Page 04: [09]DOOM PATROL #21(06/11) page 10
Page 05: [09]DOOM PATROL #21(06/11) page 15
Page 05: [03]DOOM PATROL #2(11/87) page 16, panels 5-7
Page 06: [03]DOOM PATROL #10(07/88) page 19, panel 3
Page 06: Detail from cover of [03]DOOM PATROL #9(06/88)
Page 06: [03]DOOM PATROL #15(12/88) page 17
Page 07: [03]DOOM PATROL #16(n.d./88) page 3, panels 1-3
Page 07: [03]DOOM PATROL #20(03/89) page 17, panel 2 and page 18, panel 1
Page 07: Detail from cover of [04]TP CRAWLING FROM THE WRECKAGE [2nd edition] (04/17/00)
Page 08: [04]DOOM PATROL #31(04/90) page 7, panel 1
Page 08: [04]DOOM PATROL #57(07/92) page 24, panel 1
Page 08: [04]DOOM PATROL #61(11/92) page 16, panels 1-5
Page 09: [06]DOOM PATROL #1(12/01) page 22
Page 09: [09]DOOM PATROL #15(12/10) page 9, panel 2; page 10, panel 5 and page 17, panel 4
Page 09: Detail from cover of [09]DOOM PATROL #20(05/11)
Page 10: Cover of [04]TP MAGIC BUS (01/31/07)
Page 10: [04]DOOM PATROL #56(06/92) page 24 (detail)
Page 10: [04]DOOM PATROL #59(09/92) page 21, panel 4
Page 10: [04]DOOM PATROL #57(07/92) page 11, panels 3-4 and page 39, panels 2-5
Page 11: [05]DOOM PATROL #74(01/94) page 3, panels 3-5; page 16, panels 5-6; page 24, panels 5-6; page 19 (detail) and cover
Page 12: (Will Magnus, w/Tin and Iron) Detail from cover [08]52 #49([04/11]/07)
Page 12: (Negative Man) [01]DOOM PATROL #121(09-10/68) page 22, panel 2
Page 12: (The Chief) Detail from cover of [04]DOOM PATROL #57(07/92)
Page 13: (Dorothy Spinner) [04]DOOM PATROL #23(06/89) page 5, panel 5
Page 13: (Crazy Jane) Detail from cover of [04]DOOM PATROL #63(01/93)
Page 13: (Elasti-Girl) [09]DOOM PATROL #12(09/10) page 16, panel 1
Page 14: (Frankenstein) Cover of [08]SEVEN SOLDIERS: FRANKENSTEIN #2(03/06)
Page 14: (Robotman/Robert Crane) [Golden Age origin story]
Page 15: (Gorilla Boss/George Dyke) [The gorilla figure was used for both the cover and story splash page of BATMAN #75 (02-03/53). The Batman and Robin figures here were drawn by Bob Kane for the splash; different versions were drawn by another artist for the cover.]
Page 15: (Superman, Union) [This panel either comes from the 1987 ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN ANNUAL or the 1989 stories reprinted in TP SUPERMAN: EXILE.]
Page 15: (scientists cloning Lex Luthor) [From ACTION COMICS #678 (06/92)?]
Page 16: Preview of issue #110 of the Eaglemoss series.

.....Obviously, I am less concerned with nailing down the sources of the non-DP characters from unrelated story lines alluded to on pages 14 and 15. They are only used by the publisher to compare the spotlighted character in each issue to what they consider others in similar situations.

.....Soon, probably next week, I should wrap this up with the Negative Man issue and get back to picking apart older stories.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

DP09-M02 The Eaglemoss Elasti-Girl (DC105)

.....The Eaglemoss Collections are ongoing series (several concurrent series) of hand painted lead figurines packaged with thin magazines devoted to the character on whom the figurine is based. Each series releases a new package fortnightly (every two weeks) in the U.K. where the magazine is printed by Headley Brothers Limited. Neither the magazine or the figurine itself indicates where the figurines are manufactured, so it may also originate in the U.K. or, as the use of lead suggests, China ("Our motto: a toxin and a smile!"). This year the three members of the classic Doom Patrol line-up (Elasti-Girl, Robotman and Negative Man) were each part of Eaglemoss' DC Comics Super-Hero Collection and the accompanying magazines fall under the purview of this blog. Each has articles about their character's history and a slew of appropriated illustrations. For this post and two more, I'll detail the sources of the illustrations for anyone who may have picked up the figure to complete the collection and wish to find more of a particular artist or read more of phase in the character's career.

.....First up is Elasti-Girl from #105 of the DC series. The figurine includes a tiny Bumblebee standing on her palm, but there is little of her in the magazine. There are no writing credits accompanying each article but the fine print credits include "Features: Stephen Wiacek" and "Editor: Sven Wilson". As for the selection of art details, that could be attributed to "Art Editor: Colin Williams" or "Iconography: Stephen Wiacek". There is no cover date for the magazine because although the packages are issued periodically it is not always sold and distributed in the same venues as periodicals. I obtained mine by placing advanced orders through my regular comic book store but you're unlikely to find them on newsstands, so the concept of a "pull-down" date is irrelevant to them. Like many British publications, they arrive in the U.S. shortly after they are issued, irregularly and subject to the whims of various distributors. The distributor I use shipped to ensure a May 30th, 2012 shelf date.

.....Below I'm simply going to list, page by page, the source of each illustration. The citations will begin with the number of the period in brackets. For quick reference, the periods can always be found on this blog's third post (Sept. 11th, 2009), but I'll repeat them here:

  1. [01] Original Period- The Arnold Drake scripts, 1963-1968, plus reprints through 1977; Generally MY GREATEST ADVENTURE and DOOM PATROL Series 1
  2. [02] Gypsy Period 1- Various authors and various titles, 1977-1985; no regular series
  3. [03] Kupperberg Period- Generally the first 18 issues of DOOM PATROL Series 2 plus a variety of specials and crossovers (1986-1988)
  4. [04] Morrison Period- The next 45 issues of DOOM PATROL Series 2 plus various cameos and the DOOM FORCE SPECIAL (1989-1992)
  5. [05] Pollack Period- The final 24 issues of DOOM PATROL Series 2 plus THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE and other Vertigo short stories (1993-1994); also includes Wilderness Years (1995-2000) during which the characters' continuity status was vague and disputed by both fandom and editors
  6. [06] Arcudi Period- Series 3 and sparse cameos (2001-2003)
  7. [07] Byrne Period- Six issues of JLA and Series 4 (2004-2005)
  8. [08] Gypsy Period 2- The wake of Infinite Crisis and several sporadic guest appearances (2006-2009)
  9. [09] Giffen Period- Series 5 and some tie-ins (2009-2011)
  10. [10] New 52- Both Gar Logan and Cliff Steele have been given non-Doom Patrol back stories. So far only characters who may be Madame Rouge and Danny The Street have appeared. Names of various Morrison Period elements have been reassigned to unrelated characters and institutions; essentially, there is an editorial directive that the Doom Patrol never has or will exist.
.....The art citations will consist of the period from which it was taken, the title of the comic or book, issue number, cover date (or shelf date for books), page number and panel number (unless it comes from a full page illustration). There are 16 pages, including front and back covers.

Page 01: From [09]DOOM PATROL #10(07/10) page 22
Page 02: Indicia, contents and credits plus detail from [04]DOOM PATROL #50(12/91) pin-ups section page 4.
Page 03: Cover of [09]TP DOOM PATROL: BROTHERHOOD (1/12/12); same art as cover of [09]DOOM PATROL #7(04/10)
Page 03: [09]DOOM PATROL #14(11/10) page 9, panel 3 (Rita w/Karen)
Page 03: [09]DOOM PATROL #13(10/10) page 17, panels 3-6 (bit of origin)
Page 04: [09]DOOM PATROL #13(10/10) page 18, panels 1-5 (bit of origin)
Page 04: [09]DOOM PATROL #13(10/10) page 18, panel 7 (detail, reversed)
Page 04: [01]MY GREATEST ADVENTURE #80(06/63) page 11, panels 1-5
Page 05: [01]DOOM PATROL #95(05/65) page 4, panels 5-6
Page 05: Detail from cover of [01]DOOM PATROL #112(06/67) (w/Brain, Mallah)
Page 05: [01]DOOM PATROL #91(11/64) page 5, panels 4-6 (w/Steve)
Page 06: Detail from cover of [09]DOOM PATROL #3(12/09) (w/Steve)
Page 06: [01]DOOM PATROL #105(08/66) page 15, panels 3-5 (w/Galtry)
Page 06: [01]DOOM PATROL #109(02/67) page 15, panels 3-6 (w/Mandred, identified in the caption as Ultimax)
Page 07: [01]DOOM PATROL #121(09-10/68) page 22
Page 07: [09]DOOM PATROL #6(03/10) page 15, panel 1
Page 08: [08]TEEN TITANS #36(07/06) page 8, panels 2-4 (w/Kid Devil)
Page 08: Detail from cover of [09]DOOM PATROL #9(06/10)
Page 08: [09]DOOM PATROL #5(02/10) (Blackest Night)
Page 09: [09]DOOM PATROL #13(10/10) page 10, panels 1 and 3
Page 09: [09]DOOM PATROL #3(12/09) page 17 (detail)
Page 09: Detail from cover of [09]DOOM PATROL #15(12/10)
Page 10: Cover of [01]DOOM PATROL #108(12/66)
Page 10: [01]DOOM PATROL #108(12/66) page 19, panel 1 (w/Madame Rouge)
Page 10: [01]DOOM PATROL #110(03/67) page 21, panel 3 (w/Mandred)
Page 10: Detail from cover of [01] DOOM PATROL #110(03/67) (w/Brain, Galtry)
Page 10: [01]DOOM PATROL #110(03/67) page 24, panel 3
Page 11: [09]DOOM PATROL #2(11/09) page 18, panel 4 and page 19, panel 2
Page 11: [09]DOOM PATROL #4(01/10) page 6, panel 4
Page 11: Cover of [09]TP WE WHO ARE ABOUT TO DIE (6/9/10); same or similar art to standard cover of [09]DOOM PATROL #1(10/09)
Page 11: [09]DOOM PATROL #5(02/10) page 17, panel 1
Page 11: Detail from cover of [09]DOOM PATROL #2(11/09)
Page 12: (Galtry) [01]DOOM PATROL #109(02/67) page 16, panel 1 (detail, reversed)
Page 12: (Steve Dayton) [09]DOOM PATROL #3(12/09) page 16, panel 2
Page 12: (Negative Man) [09]DOOM PATROL #3(12/09) page 3, panel 3 (detail)
Page 13: (Beast Boy) Detail from cover of BEAST BOY #4(04/00)
Page 13: (The Chief) [09]DOOM PATROL #21(06/11) page 4, panel 6 (detail, reversed)
Page 13: (Robotman) [09]DOOM PATROL #5(02/10) page 22 (detail from montage)
Page 14: (Black Canary) [01]GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW #82(02-03/71) page 11 (detail from montage) and page 12, panels 1-2
Page 14: (Elasti-Girl) [09]DOOM PATROL #14(11/10) page 3 (detail from splash)
Page 14: (Thunder) [non-DP story, probably from OUTSIDERS]
Page 15: (Shrinking Violet) Cover of [05]LEGIONNAIRES #34(02/96)
Page 15: (Giganta II) [non-DP story, probably WONDER WOMAN and not one of her later appearances in the ATOM series]
Page 16: Preview of issue #106 of the Eaglemoss series.

Hopefully I can get the second list of sources out by next week.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DP02-12 The Power Girl Paradox Part 1

.....After the New Doom Patrol story arc ran in SHOWCASE #'s 94 (08-09/77)- 96 (12/77-01/78) there was surprisingly little editorial comment on it. The first letters regarding it were printed in #96 from Bob Rodi and Rick Taylor (both from Illinois). Editor Paul Levitz responded to Rodi by plugging the upcoming Power Girl feature (which Rodi didn't mention) and responded to Taylor thus:
  • "If the DP go back into their own mag you can count on Robotman and Celsius having a few interesting discussions about the leadership role-- and Bob can look for the manhunt for Capt. Zahl. But we'll be looking for your verdict to determine whether the DP make it on their own."
.....Back when these comics were being published, the direct market was in its infancy and publishing decisions that would be driven by sales were driven almost exclusively by newsstand sales and the letters' page where that above response appeared would have to have been prepared before any unsold copies of the Doom Patrol issues could be returned from dealers, counted and deducted from the numbers shipped out in order to determine approximate real sales figures. Those sales figures would presumably be "your verdict". It was a very different system from the modern direct market in which publishers solicit advanced orders from retailers (generally through distributors), total the orders, round the numbers upwards and print that many. If the advanced orders are unusually low and a publisher has reason to trust the retailers' instincts, a proposed title might not even be printed. The fates of existing ongoing titles are determined by the continued confidence of those whose livelihoods depend on selling them, as with the old newsstand system, except that those fates are now determined before they ship, not three or four months later. Since editor Paul Levitz didn't know in 1977 whether the DP's revival would lead to getting their own title again or being put back on the shelf for the moment, he focused on the next scheduled feature, one which he wrote himself.

.....Tellingly, the next issue, which begins a three-issue Power Girl story arc [SHOWCASE #'s 97 (02/78)- 99 (04/78)] has a letters' page that leads with a letter written in anticipation of the Power Girl feature. (The writer, Allan Palmer of Quebec, was tipped off about their plans by a fanzine article. In keeping with the way future Vertigo characters would turn up on the periphery of DC history in the pre-Crisis years, Palmer suggests that PG's recent out-of-the-blue debut in ALL STAR COMICS could be explained by saying that she had been on Earth-1 fighting crime as Black Orchid, another flying bullet-proof female character whose identity and origin had not yet been revealed. Levitz describes this as "a very plausible suggestion".) A second letter from Bill Dickinson (of MN) is all about the DP but there is no response to it. In fact, none of the editorial 'voice' on the page mentions the DP at all.

.....Issue #98 contains a letter from Kevin Callahan (CA) who intuits much of what should have been explained by DC about the DP arc: that the "Doc" who repaired Cliff's body was Doc Magnus; that the Lt. Cable who appears in all three issues is the same Lt. Matthew Cable from SWAMP THING; and that Cliff's new body, drawn by Joe Staton in all three issues, strongly resembles John Byrne's ROG-3000, a back-up feature in Staton's E-MAN title for Charlton two years earlier. [I go on at length about it in the synopsis post for the John Byrne Period.] The DP is also mentioned in a second letter from Al Schroeder III (TN), but the reply to Callahan is more pertinent:
  • "The Doom Patrol is indeed not dead. While sales figures are not yet in, we're keeping the magnificent misfits in the public eye in SUPER-TEAM FAMILY #16, in which they costar with Supergirl. Watch for it in a few months.-- PL"
.....SHOWCASE #'s 99 (04/78) and 100 (05/78) have no letters' pages and SUPER-TEAM FAMILY #15 (03-04/78) was the last issue of that series. Both titles eventually became casualties of the DC Implosion. There would also be no new Doom Patrol title, at least not for a while, no Power Girl title for a bit longer and no Hawkman title (the next three-issue arc in SHOWCASE after an anniversary story in #100). Yet there were clearly plans in place to continue stories with each cast of characters, even if their outlets turned out to be makeshift. Hawkman, for instance, hadn't carried his own title since the days of the original DOOM PATROL series. When it was cancelled he became a co-star in the Atom's series for its last year and then spent the 1970's merely as a Justice League of America member except for sporadic use as a back-up feature in DETECTIVE COMICS. In the year leading up to his SHOWCASE arc Hawkman took on a greater visibility as a character in his own right, guest starring in SECRET SOCIETY OF SUPER-VILLAINS and SUPER-TEAM FAMILY independent of the JLA. Despite that, after the arc when DC expanded all their standard titles by eight pages (all new material) he became the back-up in DETECTIVE COMICS again and would have been there regularly had the implosion not hit. To save the company's namesake title from cancellation it became the new home of the double-length BATMAN FAMILY Dollar Comic anthology. The Hawkman feature was relocated to its WORLD'S FINEST COMICS counterpart, replacing the Creeper feature (whose planned SHOWCASE issue was never published).

.....Power Girl (whose bizarre connection to the Doom Patrol I'll try to explain in future posts) at least had a natural home with the Justice Society in ALL-STAR COMICS, where she debuted in the same issue that revived the title, #58 (01-02/76). The story was written and edited by Gerry Conway with assistant editor Paul Levitz. Nearly two years later Levitz wrote the earliest stories featuring the Huntress. She had a simultaneous debut in ALL-STAR COMICS #69 (11-12/77) and DC SUPER-STARS #17 (11-12/77), both drawn by Joe Staton, at that point the regular penciller for both ALL-STAR and SHOWCASE. Power Girl and the Huntress seemed a natural pair. Unlike Earth-2's adult Robin, introduced in one of the 1960's annual JLA/JSA crossovers, these two young women were true legacy characters, not contemporary sidekicks who had grown into the roles of the characters from whom they were derived but new original characters succeeding their predecessors. At the time that was unusual in comics. Aside from Lee Falk's ancestral line of Phantoms (the identity was passed from father to son) or Charlton's Ted Kord replacing Dan Garrett as Blue Beetle, there aren't too many obvious examples. From the way Conway introduced Power Girl, its possible that he considered legacy characters to be a potential important theme for a JSA feature, circumventing the question of how much older these revered Golden Age characters can get and still be plausible as super-heroes. Conway began the series with the newly revealed Power Girl, the aforementioned adult Robin and the by-then-adult Star Spangled Kid forming what they called "The Super Squad", to be augmented by original Justice Society members. The name "Super Squad" actually appeared on a banner on the covers below the logo for the first eight issues of the revival, three issues beyond the point where Conway left as writer and editor and was replaced by Levitz, with Joe Orlando as his editor. After that, a large Justice Society logo pushed the series' actual title to a banner across the top and there was no longer any ambiguity about the focus of the series. It was all about the Justice Society and, less obviously, all about All-American Comics.

.....Are you familiar with the "three on a match" concept? When DC had an unexpected hit with Superman in ACTION COMICS in 1938, it took them a while to realize that having that anthology's only costumed character on the cover would spike sales. In 1939 they tried to test the appeal of costumes by trying a cover story on an older better established title, DETECTIVE COMICS, with Batman. That confirmed their popularity and all that remained was to determine whether it was a new, durable genre or merely a fad. To do this, editors Sheldon Mayer and M.C. Gaines, who had arrived from Dell since Superman's debut, were to create a whole stable of super-heroes. Although Superman and Batman were used to promote these new features (and mentioned as "honorary members" of the JSA when making rare cameo turns), they otherwise were kept separate where the actual stories were concerned. Their stories appeared in 'National' titles, but the next wave of characters would be seen in 'All-American' titles, named for Gaines' All-American Publications venture. If super-heroes had turned out to be a fad, the All-American titles could be cancelled without tarnishing the National brand. If they kept selling, National would add more. In 1940 Gaines and Mayer began with FLASH COMICS (an anthology including the debuts of Flash, Hawkman and Johnny Thunder) and ended with the first appearance of the Justice Society in ALL-STAR COMICS #3 (Winter/1940-1941). By the fall of 1941 National had formed its own team, the Seven Soldiers of Victory, also without Superman and Batman. By the late 1940's romance, westerns and horror began crowding out the super-heroes on the newsstands and, since Gaines had already sold back his interest in All-American to create EC Comics, the All-American brand identity disappeared along with most of the Justice Society's members. ALL-STAR COMICS actually wasn't cancelled, it became ALL-STAR WESTERN. Later, STAR SPANGLED COMICS became STAR SPANGLED WAR STORIES. The remaining heroes were consolidated as back-up features in titles whose leads became Batman, Superman or spin-off features like Robin solo stories or Superboy. In the 1980's many of those remaining back-up characters were retroactively assembled in the All-Star Squadron, but back in the 1970's they remained hopelessly obscure to all but a handful of fanatical Golden Age collectors. For a generation of comics fans in the 1970's the Justice Society embodied DC in the Golden Age specifically because they didn't survive past 1951 and were not impacted by the notorious Senate hearings on juvenile delinquency. From 1955 to about 1962 their names were stolen by space age strangers (or so it seemed at the time), but their peers, the Trinity (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman), never went away. The Trinity escaped cancellation, weathered the witch hunts and went to other planets when the trends changed yet again. When the new strangers were explained as living on an alternate Earth, it necessitated there being an alternate Trinity-- one younger, one older. When Conway scripted the new ALL-STAR COMICS the numbering of the western phase of the title (#58 to #119) was ignored, but the stories couldn't reasonably pick up where they left off as easily as the issue numbers did. During the intervening 25 years some sampling of JSA members had been drawn out to join with JLA members for the annual 'Crisis' stories and if readers knew anything about them it was that most of them had retired from adventuring until those crossovers began in 1963. Conway couldn't set new stories in the 1950's with that imminent inactivity threatening to put a damper on things, so he set them in present day Earth-2 with a stand in for Superman (Power Girl, his cousin), a stand in for Batman (the Golden age Robin) and the only full member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory from their generation (Star Spangled Kid-- Wing had long since died and the Golden Age Speedy remained mysteriously absent until Crisis). There was no youth counter part to Wonder Woman (yet). Wonder Girl, after all, was a purely Earth-1 creation, as was Supergirl (the cousin of Earth-1's Superman and the character Power Girl was created to balance in Earth-2's alternate universe). Without a proxy Wonder Woman it wasn't really obvious that he was trying to acknowledge both National and All-American imprints. In a way, it may have been a tip of the hat to the early days of WORLD'S FINEST COMICS when Star Spangled Kid regularly had a feature and Batman and Superman each did as well, but not yet as a team. These younger characters formed a team of their own, a succession to the JSA, but when the Super Squad name dropped by the wayside it became clear that the JSA was to be carried forward, not succeeded. Enter the Huntress.

.....The first new issue of ALL-STAR COMICS gave us a cover of the younger generation of heroes rushing to save the older JSA members, roughly the plot Len Wein used to revive the X-men the previous year. Immediately following her debut, Huntress did the same on the cover of #70 (01-02/78). Since her debut, she took part in each of the annual JLA/JSA 'Crisis' stories until the big one in 1985-1986. At the end of that, she and the Earth-2 Robin became just two of numerous characters who didn't simply die but whose existence had never been part of the new synthesized Earth's history. For many readers (and we can only presume for Levitz) this meant much more than the loss of a beloved character (bad as that may be). It meant a lost opportunity for an Earth-2 counterpart to the concept of the Superman-Batman team. As I mentioned in a paragraph above, Superman and Batman each had features in WORLD'S FINEST COMICS, but weren't scripted as a team until the dawn of the Silver Age, less than a year before the adoption of the Comics' Code Authority. Those stories are generally acknowledged as Earth-1 history. To make the two worlds more closely mirror one another there grew an unspoken assumption that not only did the characters need to be duplicated, but the institutions as well. The Superman-Batman team couldn't really have been recreated in Power Girl and the adult Robin, since Robin's considerably greater experience would put them on an uneven footing. Power Girl and Huntress were both novices with roots to legends and more believably peers. Unfortunately they had only a year from Huntress' debut until the bimonthly ALL-STAR COMICS was cancelled in the DC Implosion. The JSA feature was then incorporated into the Dollar Comics format ADVENTURE COMICS for one more bimonthly year (1979) before being dropped when the title returned to standard length and its first monthly schedule in a decade. Huntress resurfaced in 1980 when DC tried to assuage reader complaints over their most recent price increase (from 40¢ to 50¢) by exchanging eight pages of ads per issue for eight extra pages of story. This made possible a Huntress back-up strip (again by Levitz and Staton) in WONDER WOMAN. Levitz wasted no time in having Power Girl as a guest star but the serial (which far outlasted many of its contemporaries-- most titles eventually just ran longer main features) was a less than ideal venue for building a partnership. They really needed their own feature and Levitz' increasing editorial duties made a now standard 25-page monthly title even less likely to happen than the 17-page bi-monthly title which had been much more common at DC when Power Girl and Huntress were introduced. The Implosion was once thought to have merely delayed such a potential title but that delay lasted until the circumstances of CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS, which made it impossible.

.....Today, of course, there is yet another alternate universe with an entirely new Earth-2 from which a kind of Huntress and a sort of Power Girl have been expunged and stranded in the New 52 Earth in the current WORLD'S FINEST series. Written by Paul Levitz, no less. Thirty-plus years overdue, but close enough. However, it was a much longer and harder road to reach that point than it would appear and the Doom Patrol (" remember Alice, don't you? This is a song about Alice...") got side-swiped in the process. Part 2 should be about what happened to that 1978 Supergirl story when the Implosion hit.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Airing out the summer house

.....So, the moral of the story is "don't use the new Blogger interface"? Assuming that this post indeed posts then it will the first one readers have seen in a while but not the first one I've done in that time. A few here and on my other blogs (the music ones) were typed up and, when I hit 'publish', apparently evaporated. At first, when I tried to read them (to make sure I was controlling the font properly in the new set-up) and they weren't on the home page I wondered if I had posted to the wrong blog by mistake. No such luck. I've been trying to reconstruct them from memory but have scrapped that idea and decided to return to my original concept of documenting and reviewing the Doom Patrol's history. Until I know for certain that the glitches are ironed out I'll be writing from organized notes only, which means things should be informative, albeit drier than usual.

.....As of August 7th the above paragraph still appears as it was saved and this font I am now typing has not been enlarged (something that used to be a common problem when I had to save a post midway through and return to it later-- the continuation would appear in edit mode as a larger and frequently different font, requiring time consuming methods to change it). For the foreseeable future, we might be good to go.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Flex Mentallo vs. Lucy Van Pelt

.....I know that it's off-season to be using football metaphors so soon after the Super Bowl, but the goal posts have been moved again. For those who have just walked in on this movie, you can check the last three blog posts for details. The short recap is that in the fall of 2011 DC Comics announced that they would publish a deluxe hardcover collection of the Flex Mentallo mini-series published under the Vertigo imprint in 1996. This is germane to this blog because the character Flex was created by Grant Morrison for his run on Doom Patrol in the early 1990's. Morrison turned the series' scripting chores over to Rachel Pollack, who wrote all of the issues under the Vertigo imprint. After Doom Patrol was cancelled Morrison wrote the mini-series as a self-contained story. About two years later DC announced that it would republish the story as a paperback, but legal challenges (which DC eventually won) caused plans for the book to be shelved indefinitely. Since then there have been a few sporadic announcements of their intention to finally publish it, all fruitless.

.....Over the past decade, Pollack's run on Doom Patrol has also remained uncollected and out of print (as has the bulk of the Vertigo comics featuring DCU continuity characters), but Morrison's pre-Vertigo run has been entirely reprinted as six paperbacks with the Vertigo logo. The newly announced Flex Mentallo hardcover would also (more logically) be under Vertigo according to its original solicitation last fall. However, the original projected date of publication (February 1st) has been regularly nudged since the new year began. Shortly after my previous post the Diamond Distributors website announced that the release date for direct market outlets had been changed to March 28th, putting it in line with DC's own website. General interest booksellers would sell their copies the following Tuesday (April 3rd). This week the March cancellation announcements were posted on Diamond's website and once again the hardcover escaped the axe, but today when I checked DC's website the direct release date had been changed once again to April 4th. Good grief, Charlie Brown.

.....I suppose that by the middle of next week the Diamond shipping updates will reflect the new date and non-direct retailers will similarly change theirs to April 10th. The question on my mind is whether they will be sent a replacement promotional script. At the moment the sites I checked (Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indigo) all carry the same capsule description, presumably supplied to them by DC. The description mentions that this is a Vertigo series. The sites each name DC as the publisher with the book's 'stats' (cost, length, ISBN #, etc.), which is what they do with all Vertigo trades. "Vertigo" is also how DC first categorized the book on its website where it maintains completely different pages for Vertigo and DCU trades, with each list containing both published and pending titles. At some point after I began tracking it, though, the still unpublished hardcover was removed from the DC website's Vertigo trade page and added to its DCU trade page. The significance of this is that there would be no point in doing this if the character would never see print again in new stories.

.....Grant Morrison's non-Vertigo Doom Patrol comics were reprinted as Vertigo paperbacks when John Byrne began a new Doom Patrol series in 2004. According to Byrne, he was told that the characters were to be newly introduced to the DCU as though they had never existed before, thus the Morrison run would be relegated to a non-continuity Vertigo status. The concensus seems to be that there was more money to be made in movies or animation with the concept than in print, but only if there was no baggage in the backstory. Byrne or no Byrne, they were going to be relaunched to establish any new identity that would more easily transfer to screen. There are accounts from outside of comics fandom that a movie option for the Doom Patrol name was indeed sold to someone, but events of the last five years make it hard to believe that those plans, whatever they were, will ever be realized. During the Giffen run all the previous incarnations of the DP were reintegrated into DC continuity just before the notion of having coherence across an imprint became some kind of taboo at DC. If the Flex hardcover had been originally listed with the DCU trades, then it would have been keeping with the publisher's current trend of just not caring about the distinction. But moving it after the fact was a deliberate act. Why? Why would the continuity status of a character who hasn't had an adventure in fifteen years matter to a company that doesn't maintain any sense of continuity in the books they currently publish? The two opinions I've heard is that Vertigo will be phased out as an imprint or else Flex Mentallo the character will be brought into the DCU, possibly as a supporting character or guest star in an ongoing series. Maybe Morrison and artist Frank Quitely will give him a short story of his own to contribute to DC's annual Christmas anthology, because at the rate the hardcover is going that would be a good way to tie in to its eventual release.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

DP05-BT02 Flex Mentallo trade news 2

.....I've been amending the post on the Flex Mentallo trade solicited last year because the Diamond distributor's website has been posting changes to the announced release date(s). Noting that the first attempt to bring this mini-series into collected form is sometimes memorialized on some web-sites by giving it an April Fools' Day release date, I wondered if there was any significance to the fact that the recently announced shipping changes for this current attempt are edging closer to that date. It might be a coincidence. April Fools' Day doesn't fall on a Wednesday this year, so it can't be exactly the same. And it does make a good graduation gift. So I breathed a sigh of relief when the distributor's cancellation announcements for February last week did not include it. I was encouraged again this week when it did not appear among the shipping changes posted Tuesday. Then something occurred to me.

.....The market gravitation towards trade formats means increasing audiences turn to other information sources besides those tailored to the direct market. I started to investigate this by going to and found this:.....

.....Still a $23 hardcover (and still in color; thank goodness for small blessings these days), but on the company website it's being released on March 28th, not the 21st, which is the most recent date for the direct market. Amazon is expecting it April 3rd, the following Tuesday. That is in keeping with the standard practice with the past decade in which the non-direct (i.e. returnable) market waits for non-returnable copies to sell in the first wave. The really curious part? Amazon acknowledges the title as being under the Vertigo imprint, something that may have little or no meaning for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Chapters, etc. But DC's own website? DC maintains separate lists on separate pages for Vertigo and DCU titles. The new Flex Mentallo trade is listed under DCU. Why? Barnes & Noble also gives the April 3rd date and same ISBN as Amazon but only identifies the publisher by the parent company, DC Comics. (This is a common practice of B&N and many other booksellers not specializing in comics; the same is true of Sandman, Hellblazer, and Preacher titles they carry.) Even so, B&N does mention Vertigo in the product description, identical to the one for Amazon. So, unless one of the two highest profile booksellers in North America is cribbing copy from the other, I'm guessing that their product descriptions of yet-unpublished works were provided by DC themselves. "The Fact Is..." until the book is actually published we may never know if this is a clerical goof or if DC is planning on using Flex in their new, shaky continuity.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

DP09- M01 Figurine Magazine #105, #109 and #116

.....In the most recent Diamond Previews (issue 280, January 2012 for products shipping beginning in March) there is a DP-related product being offered. I hadn't previously covered licensed merchandise or other non-comics paraphernalia but with the series discontinued and Robotman's serial in My Greatest Adventure only half finished, I wanted to note something current before I dive into the older material I've been rereading for review.

.....In the 1990's DC entered into an exclusive direct market distribution deal with Diamond. I don't know if that deal is still in place or even if it has any bearing on this line of merchandise, so it may be available through other venues as well. There is an ongoing series combining original figurines of DC characters with a magazine featuring that character and unique to the package. DC Super-hero Collection Figurine Magazine #105 (cover date TBA) will feature a figurine of Elasti-woman (solicited as 'Elasti-girl'). If the prototype on page 352 is adhered to, she'll have a tiny Bumblebee standing on her expanded palm. Although the comic books being offered at this time are mostly expected to ship in March, this figurine and magazine combination is expected in June, according to Forbidden Planet.

.....Previous DP-related entries include Beast Boy (#49), Metamorpho (#59), Power Girl (#70), and Ambush Bug (#87). Scheduled for forthcoming release in England are Robotman (#109, in July) and Negative Man (#116, in September), no doubt available here soon after. That would mean that within one calendar year the original core team (minus the Chief) will become available.