Ross! Krueger! Dynamite! "SUPERPOWERS!"
Alex Ross and Jim Krueger Unite for Dynamite's Golden Age epic, "Superpowers." Dynamite publisher NIck Barrucci spoke to CBR News about the project three years in the making.
As someone with a soft spot for a number of public domain Golden Age characters, this is a treat.
Now, let's see if I can identify the characters on the cover...
First Row: The Claw, Green Lama, The Face, The Owl[?]
Second Row: Black Terror, The Scarab [?], Pyroman
Third Row: The Flame, GA Daredevil, Miss Masque, The Arrow, Samson (in fairness, it took the interview at Newsarama for me to figure out that last one)
Last edited by Strannik; 07-18-2007 at 05:45 PM.
now is this going to be painted because i remember ross saying his next project might be pencilled and inked book...i like some of those characters so i'll probably get it
Nice work Strannik.
I love these characters, so I'll definitely check this out.
Never heard of a single one of those characters, but I think it sounds interesting.
Well, let's see if we can do something about that...
Originally Posted by bushboy
(Lev Gleason Publications)
The Claw was an offspring of a Chinese man named Mei Ting and Zola, a reclusive Chinese woman who (for some reason) had large fangs she tried to conceal at all costs. Even when he was just a baby, the Claw was so horrible that his parents jumped off the cliff soon after he was born. The local villagers decided to raise the child. He got his name from the large talons on his arms. As he grew up, the Claw became a terror, brutalizing other children and adults alike. He ended up imprisoned in Tibet. There he grew stronger and larger each day until he reached 100 feet. Breaking out and slaying his captors, he discovered that he could control his height, becoming human-sized or gigantic at will. He also discovered an ability to shoot flames from his mouth and shoot lightning out of his fingertips.
By the late 1930s, the Claw set himself up as a "God of Hate." Surrounded by a cadre of loyal followers, he became determined to conquer America. He was went up against various American adventurers before he, along with his followers, finally invaded United States. They were confronted by the original, Golden Age Daredevil who, in spite of having no super-powers, managed to stop the invaders single-handedly.
After his defeat, the Claw teamed up with Hitler. This led to one of the more unusual team-ups in comic book history, as all characters that appeared in Silver Streak Comics (the title where the Claw appeared) teamed up to stop the combined forces of the Claw and Hitler. The reason why this team-up was so bizarre was that a few of the characters came from different time periods (Lance Hale was from 22nd century, while Pirate Prince was from the 17th). No explanation was offered as to how those characters got to the 1940s and the characters in the story just took the whole thing for granted. As I said, bizarre.
After the above defeat, the Claw went up against the Ghost, a non-powered aviator hero who nonetheless managed to hold up admirably against his super-natural enemy. The Ghost even comes close to killing him on several occasions. In 1945, Daredevil and the Claw faced off one last time, with appearantly fatal results for the later. However, subsequent stories revealed that he survived, only to wind up being exiled into space, where he briefly menaced Rocky X, a space hero/FBI agent. That was his last Golden Age appearance.
AC Comics revived the Claw along with a number of other Lev Gleason Publications. The character is still part of their universe, though he hasn't been seen lately.
For more information, click here.
Golden Age Daredevil
(Lev Gleason Publications)
The original Daredevil is one of the several Golden Age characters to have the dubious distinction of having not one, but two origins. In his first origin, he was Bart Hill, son of a famous inventor. When he was a child, his parents were ruthlessly murdered. The young boy was tortured and branded with a boomerang-shaped hot iron. The traumatic experience left him mute and fixated with boomerangs. He swore to avenge his parents and trained himself to become a skillful fighter. And, because of his fixation, he became incredibly skilled with boomerangs.
In his second origin, he was still Bart Hill and his parents were still dead, but in this case, he was adopted by the Aborigines, who trained him to be a great warrior. In this origin, his costume was actually a tribal outfit. And, perhaps even more notably, he was never mute.
The two origins were presented almost a year apart. I suppose it wouldn't be that hard to reconcile them, provided the writer is willing to sacrifice a few details in the process.
In any case, Daredevil fought a number of criminals and super-villains, including the Claw and Hitler. He teamed up with his fellow heroes on a few occasions. As years went on, he gained a group of sidekicks/assistants known as Little Wise Guys - former members of a kid street gang that Daredevil took under his wing. As the tastes of the reading public changed, Little Wise Guys became more and more prominent, until eventually, Daredevil vanished completely.
AC Comics revived Golden Age Daredevil, along with other Lev Gleason characters, changing his name to "Reddevil" for obvious trademark reasons. He hasn't been used much since.
(Columbia Comic Corporation)
Tony Trent was a radio newscaster. Sick of all the crimes he had to report, he concocted the crime-fighting identity of The Face - a hero with a mask so frightful it would terrify any criminal that gazed upon it. For a few years, he fought crime both as the crusading radio newscaster and as The Face. At some point during World War II, he decided to relinquish his costumed identity and join the army. Since then, he appeared as the Face a few times (mostly in flashback adventures), but, for the most part, he was a non-costumed adventurer. The end of the war didn't change that.
Before and after the war, he was assisted by his secretary, Babs Walsh, who is remarkable as far as female assistants go for:
a) Falling in love with Tony Trent rather then the Face (usually during the Golden Age, it was the other way around)
b) Figuring out Tony Trent's identity all on her lonesome (even if the way that happened was just a touch contrived).
The Face was briefly revived back in the 80s by Ace Comics. The company didn't last very long, making the revival short-lived.
To see a few samples of The Face's Golden Age adventures, click here and here
The Black Terror was a drug store owner named Bob Benton. While experimenting with "formic ether vapors", he had an accident with gave him super-powers. He became Black Terror and used his powers to fight all sorts of criminals, saboteurs and other villains. He was assisted by his young friend, Tim Roland, who worked as a delivery boy for the pharmacy. Tim wore the same costume as Black Terror. He may or may not have had the same powers as his mentor (the sources can't seem to agree on this one). And, in a trend that was depressingly common among Golden Age sidekicks, he didn't adopt a codename, choosing instead to go by his given name while in costume.
Black Terror had super-strength and a certain degree of invulnerability. As it was often the case with less prominent Golden Age characters, his powers were rather inconsistent between appearances.
In a bit of a curious trivia, his skull-and-crossbones logo was inspired by a bottle of medical poison Bob Benton saw shortly after the accident.
Out of all the characters featured in Superpowers, Black Terror had the most modern-day revivals. Eclipse Comics, AC Comics and Alan More's America's Best Comics imprint all had their own versions. Strictly speaking, the first version was more of a revamp then a revival. In AC version, Black Terror became a villain known as The Terrorist, while in ABC version, Black Terror became a computer program known as Terror 2000 that eventually went from creepy to downright psychotic. Let us hope this revival would have a gentler fate in store for this hero.
To see some samples of original Black Terror stories, click here and here
More to come...
Last edited by Strannik; 07-22-2007 at 06:25 PM.
Reason: Because, alas, typos happen
I like the concept but I'm a little wary concerning Alex Ross' involvement. He's a great artist who has a profound respect for the history of comics, but I'm not too fond of his heavy-handed attempts at the deification of superheroes. It was great in Kingdom Come, but it's become increasingly tedious with Earth X and Justice. The other thing that bothers me after reading the Newsarama interview is that he keeps referring to the characters in terms of DC/Marvel analogues. Granted, there aren't very many unique superhero archetypes out there outside of those established by the Big Two but I'm hoping this won't turn out to be just a case of him using these public domain characters as stand-ins for his favourite Superfriends.
Still, it'll be worth it just to see his (and Kreuger's) work alongside Ennis' and Robertson's decidedly irreverent and iconoclastic The Boys.
This sounds like a winner to me. I love the idea. I love the "forgotten" characters. The Black Terror & The 'Devil. Two of my favorites from the Golden Age that were overshadowed by the Big Guys (Superman, Namor, Capt Marvel,etc). There were so many characters created during the 40's - many were just awful but some deserve to be remembered...
Please tell me that typo isn't an accident.
Originally Posted by Strannik
Originally Posted by Jeff Brady
If only it wasn't an accident. If only it wasn't...
*hurries to change it*
I think it's hilarious; most of my coworkers are Chinese, so I hear it all the time. And since the character you were describing is also Chinese, well, my brain went into funny mode. No harm done, really.
Originally Posted by Strannik
Continued from previous bio post...
Pyroman was an electrical engineering student named Dick Martin. He was framed for murder and wound up sentenced to death, which, at the time, meant the electric chair. To most people, that sort of thing would be fatal, but Dick Martin not only absorbed all the voltage generated by the chair, but got electricity-based superpowers in the process. Apperantly, all the time he spent working around electricity changed him, making him a walking battery with limitless storage capacity. He used his newfound powers to clear his name. As Pyroman, he went on to fight crime, supervillains and foreign menaces most superheroes of his era tended to fight.
As mentioned before, in spite of his name, Pyroman's powers had nothing to do with fire. He could shoot deadly bolts of electricity, create forcefields and fly.
Pyroman was revived by AC Comics in the early 90s, but he hasn't really been used since his initial appearance. Like most other Nedor characters, he was revived in Terra Obscura. The second mini retroactively gave him a Golden Age sidekick - Pyrogirl.
For more information on Pyroman, click here. For a sample of his Golden Age adventures, click here
Another Nedor character. In the grand scheme of thing, Miss Masque wasn't really that notable - she was created in 1946, when superhero comics were in decline, and she wasn't terribly popular. And, unlike another Nedor female superhero, Woman in Red, she wasn't even historically significant. Yet, in spite of that, she is one of the more frequently featured revived Nedor heroes.
As far as origins go, Miss Masque belonged to the ever-so popular (during Golden Age) "bored playboy/socialite becomes a masked crime-fighter for kicks" category. Her civilian identity was Diane Adams. She had no powers, but she was a reasonably good fighter and she carried a gun.
AC Comics revived Miss Masque in the early 90s. She was among the more prominent Nedor revivals, She joined Femforce, the all-female superhero team those adventures form the bulk of AC Comics' publishing output. Even after she left the team, she remained a prominent character, guest-starting in Femforce and other AC titles, as well as starring in her own mini-series.
AC Comics altered Miss Masque's origin. In AC Universe, Diane Adams was a Canadian socialite. She came to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. She bought a stunning red-caped costume for the party, but as she discovered upon arrival, she forgot to bring the mask. Desperate for a substitute, she rushed to curio shop on Bourbon Street. The shop owner offered her a strange domino mask. He told her that the mask was possessed by a "spirit of justice", but Adams was in too much of a hurry to care. When the party is interrupted by robbers, Adams stops the crime and finds herself strangely satisfied by the experience. She decides to make crime fighting her full-time occupation.
Terra Obscura revival stayed closer to the original origin, moving it to pre-WWII years. The revival also gave Miss Masque an upgrade of sorts - instead of simply being a competent fighter with a gun, she became a master of eight martial arts. In Terra Obscura continuity, she married Tim Ronald, Black Terror's one-time sidekick. However, the relationship didn't last, as the couple split up after Diane found herself falling for Carol Carter, daughter of the original Fighting Yank. In the second series, it was revealed that she and Black Terror had a relationship at one point (The second mini-series also implied that Black Terror and Tim used to have a sexual relationship, but that's neither here nor there).
For more information about Miss Masque, click here. For a sample of her Golden Age adventures, click here.
Last edited by Strannik; 07-24-2007 at 01:34 PM.
Resurrecting the thread in effort to avoid needless duplication.
There is a brand new Superpowers-related interview on Newsarama, complete with lots of preview images. So, to continue the spot-a-public-domain-hero game, let's see if we can identify some more cast members.
First battle shot
(From top to bottom)
First Row: [unknown], The Claw, Mighty Man [?], [unknown], The Owl, Boy King and his Golem.
Second Row: Airman, [unknown], [unknown]
Third Row: Captain Battle, American Crusader, [unknown] .
Fourth Row: Tim/Kid Terror, Black Terror, Blue Bolt [?], Catman, Amazing Man, Man O'Metal, Nightro, GA Daredevil, Man of War, Samson.
First Row: Samson, Pyroman, Green Lama, Doctor Frost [?], Strongman [?]
Second Row:David (Samson's teen sidekick), Tim/Kid Terror, GA Daredevil, Pyroman, The Face
Third Row: Black Terror, Flame Girl.
With Backs Against the "Camera": Fighting Yank, Sparky (a short-lived sidekick of GA Blue Beetle), GA Blue Beetle
Last edited by Strannik; 10-30-2007 at 11:33 AM.
Is the Phantom in this book too? It looks like him in those pencilled scenes except for the chainmail. I hope this book is good. I don't really like comics with Alex Ross covers but no Alex Ross art inside.
BUT I like the redesigns and any comic with the golden age Daredevil, I have to buy.
I think the guy you're referring to is supposed to be Golden Age Blue Beetle (though he'll probably be renamed in Superpowers to avoid trademark violation). Of course, I never would've thought he'd be used at all, since Charlton bought the character before he lapsed. Of course, they completely revamped him a few years later, so it could be argued that the original version lapsed into public domain by the virtue of disuse. This should really be explored further.
Originally Posted by TROUBLEZ
Phantom, btw, hasn't lapsed into public domain. Furthermore, Moonstone holds the comic book license at the moment, so Alex Ross and/or Dynamite Entertainment couldn't have used him anyway.