By Glenn Walker
Hopefully y'all have been following the All Things Fun! Comic Vidcast broadcast live every Wednesday, and if not, get yourself over to its special webpage and enjoy. As I said, it's live every Wednesday morning at 11:30 AM sharp Eastern Standard Time, and available for viewing, as are all the episodes, throughout the week afterwards.
I, along with co-hosts Allison Eckel and Ed Evans, discuss the new comics that come out that day for the week. We like to think we offer our own unique and informative view of the comics world and what's going on within it and around it.
Although, sometimes fifteen to twenty minutes just isn't enough to explain some of the references made during the vidcast, and it certainly isn't anywhere near enough time to justify the vast storehouse of useless comics knowledge spilling out of my head. We've had to do this once before, and hopefully this second edition of Show Notes might help alleviate the pressure on my brain.
Who's Afraid of the Calendar Man?
Stupid name? Maybe, but this is one scary Arkham Asylum baddie in my opinion, which made Allison guffaw on camera. The Joker? Two-Face? The Mad Hatter? Zsasz? Amygdala? Okay, yeah, maybe one or two of those guys are scarier, but I think that the Calendar Man should be right up there with them.
Julian Gregory Day is old school, as he was created by Bill Finger. He was a typical baddie from the old days as he had a catastrophic obsession on which all of his crimes were based. In Day's case, it was the calendar, and holidays. Whereas other Bat-villains have just one modus operandi, the Calendar Man could be a couple dozen different villains, based on any number of different holidays, days of the week, seasons, even made-up Hallmark days. He's like a psychotic Multiplex, each with a separate personality and MO.
Then there's also his chilling appearances in The Long Halloween and its sequel Dark Victory, playing a Hannibal Lector-esque resource to Batman's Clarice Starling. Creepy, and much like Silence of the Lambs, you are left fearing what may happen if he gets out himself. Paper cape or not, the Calendar Man is one very bad dude. Just my opinion, folks, but remember, there are no bad characters, just bad writers.
Ms. Flash and the 5 Star Super-Hero Spectacular
Okay, back in the days when comics cost around four bits, DC also put out super-sized books that featured eighty pages for one whole dollar, the Dollar Comics. Trust the old man here, that was a lot of money at the time, and was a serious output for one comic book. One such book, a one-shot, was 5 Star Super-Hero Spectacular (1977). And spectacular it was, as it featured stories of Batman, Green Lantern, the Atom, Aquaman, and the Flash, each unique compared to the typical stories for those heroes in their regular titles.
The Atom returned to his Silver Age roots and visited Alexander Graham Bell via the Time Pool. Green Lantern, who rarely appeared solo without Green Arrow or in space, did both in his tale here. Batman became the first of the super-heroes to face Kobra, and even vowed at the end that the Justice League would bring him down. Aquaman fought the fire-based one-off villain Sunburst in the desert, and won, baby, water be damned. And the Flash appeared in a retro science tale reminiscent of his Silver Age, packed to the rim with Flash Facts.
It's that last one that concerns us. Patty Spivot, a character who barely appeared in the background of Flash stories at that time, was Barry Allen's lab assistant. She recently, much to this old reader's delight, appeared in Geoff Johns' new Flash series in much the same capacity. She also, in the Flashpoint universe, is the new Hot Pursuit. In the 5 Star Super-Hero Spectacular, a one in a million shot in the dark brings struck brings a flash of lightning to Patty while standing in front of a cabinet of chemicals. Sound familiar? Yep, you bet, she gets super-speed.
Making up a red and yellow lightning bolted costume and calling herself, with very seventies flair, Ms. Flash, Patty starts fighting crime in Central City. Unfortunately disaster strikes whenever she uses her powers. Seems different chemicals in the cabinet formed a different combination of powers, and if she doesn't stop, the city will be destroyed. So, Barry keeps it from happening, revealing that his super-quick mind imagined what might happen in seconds, and he rescued her from the accident. No more Ms. Flash. And no one remembers her but me. And Barry Allen, but Barry remembers everything.
Tony Gordon and the Sino-Supermen
Okay, I have no idea who this recent James Gordon, Jr., guy is who claims to be the Commissioner's second son in the recent Detective Comics (like #875), but I do know of Batgirl's older brother. Keep in mind, I'm old and stubborn, and Junior might be post-Crisis and Tony might be pre-Crisis, but in my mind, Tony is much more interesting.
Barbara Gordon's big brother was always something of an enigma. Rumor had it he had had words with Dad and run away from home, or that he was travelling the world. He was always off-panel. Babs missed him, the Commish missed him, but we never actually saw him. Then came the Sino-Superman. Yeah, yeah, I know, but at least it's not as ethnically insulting as Egg Fu or I Ching, right? (oh no, that'll be another Show Notes column, won't it?)
Then, in the late 1970s, Batgirl received word that not only was her brother missing, but that he might have in fact been a spy and might have been kidnapped by the Communist Chinese government. So the dynamic daredoll (not mine, that's what they actually called Batgirl back then) packed up and went to China to find and rescue her brother, and ran afoul of the Sino-Supermen.
It seems that the Chinese did not believe in fate or destiny or accidents. They believed that America's super-heroes had been created in a lab by our government, and so they had done the same thing. They cooked up their own superheroes in the lab -- with one problem: Once they used their powers, they blowed up real good, just like Penguin's goons in the 1966 Batman movie.
So, over the course of several stories, and after wading through these exploding Sino-Supermen, wearing bad Don Heck mock-ups of the original costumes of Superman, Green Lantern, Firestorm, -- Batgirl rescued her brother. Tony Gordon returned to the DCU just in time to vanish into comic book limbo, where only old folks like me remember him.
That's all for this time. I'm sure there will have to be more explanations of obscure and arcane info that likes to stick in my twisted mind. Maybe next time I'll teach y'all how to pronounce all the 'O' villains in the Justice League's rogues gallery... Until then, tune in Wednesday to the next All Things Fun! Comic Vidcast.