Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Captain's Library: GREEN HORNET "Proof of Treason" Conclusion

Why does Mayoral candidate Wilkes Sherman hire a criminal to bomb the home of nuclear scientist Professor Baldwin?
When the police track down the bomber, an assassin ends his life before he can talk.
The Green Hornet, who had followed the police, trails the murderer back to Sherman, and discovers the politician is a Commie spy!
In addition, he learns Professor Baldwin is a former Communist now working for the US, and the Commies want him brought back behind the Iron Curtain!
When The Green Hornet enters the meeting, the assassin tries to shoot him and is KOed by the Hornet's gas gun.
The Hornet then makes a deal to grab the professor and turn him over to Sherman for $5,000. (It was 1953, remember?) As a free bonus to Sherman, he'll "get rid" of the unconscious murderer (whom he turns over to the police.)
This b/w page was the inside back cover.
Curiously, though both stories in this issue are adaptations of radio episodes, this was published a year after the radio series was cancelled!
Art on both stories is presumed to be by Frank Thorne, but there are influences of several other artists, including Don Heck and Frank Giacoia, so it's possible they performed uncredited penciling and/or inking assists to meet the deadline.
The radio episode of the same name the comic story is derived from aired 10/17/52 during the final season of the show.
It's currently unavailable on mp3 format, but is available on the recently-released Radio Spirits compiliation Green Hornet: Endpoint (which curiously uses the cover of the Hornet's first comic book as it's cover).
The Hornet and Kato didn't appear again in comics until early 1967, when the first issue of their Gold Key series, based on the tv show starring Van Williams and Bruce Lee, was published.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Captain's Library: GREEN HORNET "Proof of Treason" Part 1

Last time we presented The Green Hornet's final Silver Age tale.
This time, here's his final Golden Age tale, the second of two from Dell's Four Color Comics #496, a series of one-off appearances of various characters to test sales potential.
BTW, the story is adapted from a script from the long-running radio show's final season!
Tomorrow: the conclusion of the Golden Age Green Hornet's final battle!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Captain's Holiday Library: CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT "Adventure of the Tokyo Turkey"

NOTE: Contains racial stereotypes common to WWII fiction.
May be NSFW.
 Unlike Christmas-themed stories, there are very few comics tales set on Thanksgiving.
In the 1940s-50s, one of the biggest pop cult phenomena was Captain Midnight!
Books, Comics, Movies, Radio, TV...He was EVERYWHERE!

Created for radio in 1938, the patriotic aviator ran the Secret Squadron, what we today would call a "black ops" team, supported by the government, but functioning outside of cumbersome legalities in dealing with spies, saboteurs, and (after the war) criminals!
Trivia note: the Secret Squadron originally used the code "SS" on their messages, decoders, and uniform patches, but changed it to "SQ" after World War II began to avoid reference to the notorious Nazi SS stormtroopers!
Captain Midnight replaced Little Orphan Annie as the flagship radio show for Ovaltine, carrying on the tradition of issuing mail-in collectible premiums in return for Ovaltine labels and jar seals, taking it to far greater levels than any other radio series in history! (The phrase "Captain Midnight Decoder" became synonymous with mail-in premiums.)
The show ran Monday thru Friday in 15-minute segments, with ongoing storylines running for several months at a time, ending each episode with a cliffhanger and a coded message which required a Captain Midnight Decoder to translate.
A series of Big Little Books, a newspaper comic strip, and two different comic book series quickly followed, as well as a 15-chapter movie serial.
The radio show ended with a bang in 1949, as Cap's archenemy Ivan Shark (an evil aviator) was killed in the final episode! Talk about "closure"!

Ovaltine revived Cap (but not Ivan Shark) in 1954 as a weekly tv series with a heavier science fiction emphasis.
The Captain was now a civilian adventurer operating out of a mountaintop base in the SouthWest US, battling criminals and the occasional Communist spy.
Though only 39 episodes were produced, the show reran continuously in syndication until the mid 1960s.
Trivia note: the syndicated version was retitled Jet Jackson: Flying Commando because Ovaltine owned the "Captain Midnight" trademark and didn't sponsor the reruns!
It became notorious for the fact that every time anyone (male, female or child) spoke the name "Captain Midnight", the new name "Jet Jackson" was dubbed over it by one middle-aged male voice actor! (Apparently, none of the original cast were available!)

Ovaltine continued to use "Captain Midnight" on advertising and occasional tie-in premiums until the late 1990s, when they finally abandoned the trademark.
Since then, he's only been around as part of old radio show collections on cd or mp3...until now!

Moonstone Books recently revived Captain Midnight in NEW comics and prose stories (set in the 1940s)!
Besides his own series, he's also part of a team of other Golden Age aviator-heroes called the Air Fighters!

Captain Midnight's already been part of our collection with six different vintage designs including five classic covers and his stylish logo on a variety of items including t-shirts, hoodies, mugs, messenger bags, and other tchochkes, for almost two years!
In addition, we now have both a Captain Midnight 2012 12-Month Calendar with a dozen dynamic classic comic covers, including the first issue of his 1940s title (featuring the Golden Age Captain Marvel welcoming him), AND an Aviators of the Golden Age of Comics 2012 12-Month Calendar which features Cap AND a number of other Air Fighters characters!
As unique graduation, birthday or Father's Day gifts for collectors of pop culture kitch, you can't go wrong with one of these klassy and kool kollectibles!
For something REALLY special, why not combine one of our Captain Midnight collectibles with one of Moonstone's new Captain Midnight books as a gift set?

A FREE holiday gift to our loyal fans: downloadable mp3s of the Captain Midnight radio show!
BONUS FREE gift: downloadable episode of the Captain Midnight tv show!
(And you don't even have to send us an Ovaltine label!)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Captain's Library: MYSTERIOUS TRAVELER "What Wilbur Saw"

After the one-shot comic published in 1946, the Mysterious Traveler disappeared for a decade... reappear in 1956 in a new, ongoing series.
This new series didn't adapt radio show episodes, as the previous one-shot did.
In fact, when the comic debuted, the radio series had been off the air for almost four years!
But the character was still well-known enough that Charlton thought he would be a name-value host for their new "mystery" book as well as being a "safe" character the new Comics Code Authority wouldn't object to.
By the way, the distinctive art for this story was by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, who would do at least one story or a cover per issue from this tale in #2 to the end of the title's run.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Captain's Library: PLAGUE OF THE ZOMBIES Conclusion

The inhabitants of a Cornish village during the mid-1800s are dying from a mysterious plague.
The local doctor, Peter Thompson sends for outside help from his scientist friend Sir James Forbes, who arrives with his daughter Sylvia.
Sir James and Dr. Thompson disinter the corpses that were recently buried, except all the coffins are empty!
The duo encounter zombies walking near an old, deserted tin mine on the estate of Squire Clive Hamilton, escape, then learn that the squire lived in Haiti for several years and practiced voodoo rituals, as well as black magic!
Later that evening, Squire Hamilton pays Sylvia a visit.
Purposely, Hamilton manages to shatter a wine glass, and Sylvia cuts her finger on one of the sharp edges.
The Squire conceals that piece and then uses his voodoo magic to lure the heroine into venturing in the dark woods near the mine...
This movie was shot back-to-back with another Hammer movie, The Reptile, using the same sets and exteriors as well as some of the other film's cast, including Jacqueline Pierce, who played the female lead in Reptile and the second lead here!
Though the  tale was written for the screen, it was adapted into a novelette published in the second volume of a HTF series called the Hammer Horror Film Omnibus.