Welcome to the fifth installment. Took me longer than expected, but a lot of these guys are big names. If you reach the end of the article, Batman will reward you with his greatest quote ever.
New Mutants #87 (1990)
Originally, Cable appears in Uncanny X-Men #201 (1986) as a baby, but I figure it would probably make more sense to show his real introduction. The story begins with a terrorist act by a team of Stryfe’s henchmen in some facility. The only one I actually recognize is Four-Arm. After they leave, a new figure enters through a hole in the wall.
Cable tracks Stryfe’s team on their next mission, where they plan to kidnap a couple kids out of a government facility. He takes the battle to the enemies, but their numbers eventually overwhelm him. He’s left to die and the mutants get away. The issue ends with Cable in military captivity, thinking about how he went at this the wrong way. He’s going to need help.
Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (1972)
The first issue of Cage’s comic shows him as a man in prison, found guilty of a crime he didn’t commit. Granted, even he admits that he’s done a lot of bad stuff, but being a drug dealer isn’t one of them. Carl Lucas keeps to himself for the most part, though is constantly dogged by the antagonistic head guard. The new warden comes in, sees the way Lucas is treated and has that guard demoted.
Lucas is asked to take part in an experiment with Dr. Burstein. Lucas explains to his new friend how he got where he is. Years ago, he used to hang out with a man named Willis Stryker. They both had feelings for a woman Reva and although Willis had her attentions, his paranoia and pettiness got the best of him and he ended up framing Lucas for drug charges. Reva ended up dying thanks to Willis’ behavior and now Lucas just wants to get out of prison and get his revenge.
Lucas takes his chances by agreeing to be a guinea pig in one of Burstein’s experiments, which may get him his freedom. Using some chemicals and machinery he got from Stark Enterprises, Bernstein feels that he might have a way to enhance the human body to the point that it can counter disease and aging. As Lucas goes through with it, the guard from earlier steps in and tries to sabotage the process, hoping it will kill Lucas. Instead, Lucas survives the process and comes out with unbreakable skin. He punches the guard and realizes that he may have actually killed him with his newfound strength. He punches through the wall, makes a run for it and fakes his own death.
Back in civilization, Lucas stops a diner robbery and gets a reward. It gives him the idea of becoming a superhero for hire. He changes his name to Luke Cage, as to reflect how much being in prison sucked.
For the rest of the issue, Luke messes with Diamondback, the new criminal moniker of his old friend Willis. In the next issue, Luke would finally get his revenge… and we’d get a better look at how he came up with that awesome costume.
Batman #567 (1999)
Famed assassin David Cain is first introduced in the same issue as his daughter Cassandra. We see him starting off with an attempt to assassinate Commissioner Gordon.
Cassandra jumps in front of Gordon, which both stops Cain and allows the cops to open fire at him. He escapes with a couple dead cops left behind. Cassandra, having been brought up without speaking, still gets it through to James Gordon and Barbara how she’s related to Cain. Cassandra protects Gordon from her father again later on, this time actually fighting him hand-to-hand.
She uppercuts David and sees her hand stained with blood. She has a flashback to her first and only assassination when she was a child and then screams her first word, as taught to her by Barbara: “STOP!”
David is moved to tears and drops his guns. Suddenly, Gordon busts in and fires. Cassandra dashes forward and tackles her father through the window as to protect him.
I always found it funny that David Cain sort of resembles George Clooney occasionally. Especially since David Cain was responsible for tarnishing Bruce Wayne’s reputation that one time.
Uncanny X-Men #169 (1983)
The story here is about Angel being kidnapped by Sunder of the Morlocks. A rather small X-Men team tracks Angel to the sewers, where after a fight scene, they discover the Morlocks’ leader.
“I am CALLISTO! My brethren have taken the name Morlocks, after H.G. Wells’ rulers of the Netherworld. This is our domain. You visit at your peril and when you address me, you keep a civil tongue in your head – or lose it! As for why Angel’s here – every princess must have a prince and, for me, who more fitting – than the most beautiful man in all the world!”
So, wait. Why didn’t she kidnap David Hasselhoff, then?
Callisto starts cutting apart Angel’s wings so he can’t hurt himself in the tight sewers. The X-Men attack and are overpowered. Callisto knocks Storm out of the air with a slingshot, Colossus can’t take all the Morlocks piling on and Nightcrawler… uh… hm. Yeah, he says he’s going to get Callisto and attacks her. Then there’s no real sign of him and no explanation.
Marvel Graphic Novel #4: The New Mutants (1982)
Sam Gunthrie is first shown as a coal mine worker at age 16. His father has just died of black lung and times are tough for his family. He continues to work, hoping that the life of his siblings could benefit. While in the mine, it begins to collapse and his boss nearly dies. Sam’s powers kick in and he makes the rescue.
This gets the attention of Donald Pierce, who gets Sam to work for him and his goofy-looking henchmen. Lucky for Sam, he doesn’t have to wear a stupid mask like the others. Sam is both naïve and loyal, not understanding that Pierce hates mutants like himself. He catches Wolfsbane sneaking around their headquarters.
Yeah, what the fuck.
Cannonball protects Pierce and helps fight off the other New Mutants – who are there to rescue the mentally-inhibited Xavier. When they’ve won, Cannonball thinks he should just hand the mutants over to the sheriff. When Pierce tells him to kill them all, he turns on his leader and prepares to use his powers. It seems his powers are burned out and Pierce reacts by pulling a gun on him.
Xavier breaks through Pierce’s mental-inhibitor machine and gets the strength to stop him. Pierce is led away by the Black Queen of the Hellfire Club to be punished and Cannonball doesn’t know what to do. A day or so later, he knocks on the door of the mansion, as Xavier has decided to give him a second chance.
Captain America Comics #1 (1941)
We get an introduction to government scientist Professor Reinstein. In front of an audience of his bosses and the like, he tests his super soldier serum on skinny volunteer Steve Rogers. Over a short moment, Rogers begins changing. He stands before Reinstein and the others, now totally ripped. A member of Hitler’s Gestapo reveals himself as a spy and fires at Reinstein. The scientist dies in Rogers’ arms as the spy shoots the vials that contain the only samples of the serum.
He fires on another government official and then his collar is grabbed by a pissed off Rogers. Our hero roid rages on the bad guy and smacks him around until the spy gets up and tries a hasty retreat. He instead stumbles into some wires and dies via electrocution. Cap points out that the weasel deserved it.
Since then, a masked man has been shown helping out the cause for fighting those nasty Nazi scumbuckets. That man is Captain America.
Whoa, good for him. I hear the spy ring gets you +3 stealth.
There are a bunch of other stories in this issue – all starring Captain Not-France, but I’m not going to go into them. Well, that’s not completely true. Once we get to the R’s, we’ll have another go.
Space Adventures #33 (1960)
The omnipotent and unbeatable Dr. Manhattan from Watchmen is known to be based on Captain Atom. Reading this story, it’s no wonder. Captain Atom begins by saving a plane from crashing. On board the plane is a US diplomat, Mr. Haynes, on his way to a major summit. Captain Atom changes back to his alter-ego Captain Adam of the air force and greets the diplomat. In secret, Mr. Haynes admits that the President has informed him that Adam is Captain Atom, but he can keep that little nugget to himself.
Since Adam knows the plane’s crash was via sabotage, he figures that “the enemy” will try something else. What they really mean is “Russians”, but they never explicitly mention the country’s name. Adam disguises himself as Haynes and gets himself kidnapped by bad guys, who give him instructions to recite a speech they wrote for him at the summit. Instead, he stands before the other foreign diplomats and tells them about how he is being blackmailed into lying. When the kidnappers fire their guns, the bullets merely bounce off Captain Atom’s chest. He takes the two away and lets the real Mr. Haynes take care of business.
Captain Atom then discovers from an American spy that they aren’t out of this yet.
Heh. He looks funny.
He proceeds to disarm 100 atomic missiles while shrugging off conventional fire. Once done, he swings back to the summit, whispers into Mr. Haynes’ ear and watches with pride as his boss smugly yells, “BALONEY!” at the Russian speaker’s threats.
Flash #117 (1960)
Rich toymaker W.W. Wiggins knows that boomerangs will be the next big fad among kids. All they need is a mascot to show what kind of tricks you can pull off. Digger Harkness gets an audition and shows that he’s a complete whiz with the boomerang.
What Wiggins doesn’t know is that Digger is himself a career criminal. He commits crimes with his boomerang, but stays out of sight. When Flash eventually catches up to him, he claims innocence and that another guy dressed like Captain Boomerang is behind it all. To prove he’s a real nice guy, he introduces Flash to his old and sick parents. Flash has this nagging feeling that things aren’t right, but leaves Digger alone for the moment. He’s right to think that way, as the two old people are really just some actor friends of Digger’s.
Captain Boomerang knows that Flash will go after him again, so he builds a special “lightning boomerang”. Even though Flash easily dodges it as it’s tossed, it instantly speeds up on the way back and takes him by surprise with a knock to the head. Captain Boomerang ties Flash up to a giant boomerang and tries to send him into space. It doesn’t quite make it and instead heads towards the ocean. Due to reentry and his vibrating molecules (as always), Flash escapes the ropes, runs on the water’s surface, gets his hands on Captain Boomerang and his actor buddies, takes them to the police and then has some dinner with Iris.
On a side note, you should be glad I chose a picture of Boomerang with his hat on. His receding hairline is creepy as hell.
In Identity Crisis #3 (2004), Digger is coaxed by his old friend Calculator to visit his biological son Owen Mercer. Digger, filled with anxiety, waits outside the Mercer residence until Owen walks out, asking if he needs help.
In later issues, Digger would become close with his son and would briefly teach him some boomerang tricks (though Owen’s already a natural). Over time, we’d discover that Melanie Thawne is Owen’s real mother, making him the half-brother to the current Flash Bart Allen. He’d become a villain for a short time until joining the Outsiders, dating Supergirl and being really tense around Robin. He’s a cool character. Glad DC’s trying to push him.
Captain Britain Weekly #1 (1976)
We start off with Captain Britain fighting a villain known as the Reaver. Captain Britain easily defeats the villain’s henchmen and shows plenty of bravado, but inside, he doesn’t understand what the hell is going on. He’s a physicist and now, for reasons he can’t understand, he’s calling himself Captain Britain while outfighting guys who by all rights should be killing him.
He flashes back to earlier that night. Brian Braddock is working at the Darkmoor Research Centre with Dr. Travis. They’re trying to come up with solutions to Earth’s energy problems or some crap. All of the sudden, Reaver and his legion break through the wall and go on a killing rampage. Brian escapes on a motorcycle. On his way to freedom, he’s nearly caught by the bad guys and instead escapes by falling off a cliff like a nimrod. He awakens in front of this bearded spirit, who offers both an amulet and a sword. He also acts like a complete jerk to Brian, despite the fact that he hasn’t done anything wrong.
And that’s it, really. It was weekly, so there were only eight pages. Go figure.
Showcase #8 (1957)
We start off with Captain Cold completing his first major robbery. Everyone in the bank is frozen, so he has no trouble breaking into the vault.
“Ha! There’s plenty of cold cash in there – but I’ll warm the money in my pockets!”
Once Flash shows up, Cold tries blasting him with his ice gun to no effect. Since he can’t win that way, he just uses his gun on the ground, making the Flash slip around. Once Flash gets his bearings, Cold is gone.
We then flashback to see how Leonard Snart would become Captain Cold. Leonard wants to be a criminal, but he needs a way to counter the Flash’s speed powers. He reads a newspaper article about the Flash’s abilities and figures that they probably have more information than they’re making public. He sneaks into the newspaper’s offices and steals more information. He finds that the Flash’s powers can be countered by a cyclotron. He sneaks into a lab to steal one, but something goes wrong and the cyclotron gun he runs off with now has the ability to freeze stuff. Snart decides to go with it and calls himself Captain Cold.
The story takes a turn for the weird here. Cold figures that he needs to amp up his cold gun to take down Flash for good. His experiments fail until he adds liquid helium. Not only does it fire absolute zero blasts, but it causes random mirages to appear. He tries it on Flash and fools him a couple times, but Flash gets wise, runs so fast that it makes it look like there are twelve Flashes and gives Cold a taste of his own medicine.
Strange Adventures #8 (1951)
When Adam Blake is born, a comet whizzes by his home. His father mentions an old wives’ tale that being born when a comet flies by is a sign that you will become a great man. The mother doesn’t believe in that, but as years go by, she begins to change her mind. Adam proves to be far smarter and intuitive than anyone should be. Using a sixth sense he doesn’t understand, he’s able to be an unbeatable football player, top student, juggler, musician and just about anything else he wants. Well, everything except being an average guy.
One day, he saves a girl from falling by slowing down her velocity enough to catch her in time. He seeks out Professor Emory Zackro to help him figure out what’s up. Zackro runs some tests and realizes that Adam is a mutant (yes, this is DC). He is highly evolved and is what human beings should be like hundreds of thousands of years from how. Shortly later, Zackro shows Adam a device that could convert sunlight into gold. While Zackro is gone, Adam makes some adjustments and gets it to work. Some thugs break in and want to use the machine for themselves. Using his mental-based powers, Adam easily overcomes the three goons. He even pulls a Neo and slows down a bullet to the point that it’s harmless.
Zackro laughs at this little incident, as the machine really isn’t worth all that much on a commercial level. The amount of gold it would create in a year would be about $100. Still, he knows that Adam needs to keep his abilities a secret if he wants to use them to help people. The two come up with a secret identity.
Two brilliant men come up with this and neither think to hide his face.
The story ends with Captain Comet running off to stop a giant spinning top that’s appeared out of nowhere in the US. No, really.
Marvel Super-Heroes #12 (1967)
The Kree’s Sentry robot has been destroyed by the Fantastic Four and their warrior Ronan also failed. Now Captain Mar-vell is sent to keep an eye on Earth in the name of the Kree. He’s forced to go alone because Colonel Yon-Rogg has the hots for Mar-vell’s girl Una and wants Mar-vell out of the picture.
Captain Mar-vell thinks to himself about how he’ll be stronger and able to fly when he’s wearing his space suit. Without his helmet, he’ll only be able to survive an hour of Earth’s atmosphere. His first act is to prevent some government guys from testing a rocket.
Since he’s covered in radiation, they have an easy time finding him. He isn’t ready for a fight yet, so he mostly tries to escape. He blinds the attacking soldiers with a black light gun and gets away. Later, he gets a hotel room under the name “Marvel” and gets a message from his commanders that he isn’t to fail in his mission. Mar-vell then begins to mope about how he’s all alone.
Why did they bring this joker back again?
Whiz Comics #2 (1940)
Edit: It seems I got my facts mixed up, thanks to Fawcett’s wacky numbering system. Thanks to Rad McAwesome for the correction.
We see Billy Batson trying to sell newspapers on the street corner. A suspicious man in a trench coat asks why he isn’t in bed, only to be told that Billy doesn’t have one. The mysterious man takes Billy home with him, which I’m sure had some semblance of innocence to it back then, but now reeks of creepy. Luckily, the guy isn’t taking Billy into his rusty, unmarked van, but instead takes him to the cave of Shazam. He, Shazam, is getting on in years and needs someone to help fight for justice.
Using a magical monitor (run by the Clapper, no less), Shazam shows that he knows of Billy’s horrible upbringing. His parents had died and his wicked uncle tossed him out of the house to get the money left in the will. Shazam asks Billy to speak his name.
The next day, Billy is still doing the newsboy thing, selling papers about a mad scientist named Sivana. Two guys buy a copy, making references to Sivana as their boss. Billy watches the two henchmen walk into a hotel, but the doorman won’t let him follow. Billy goes to Sterling Morris at the local radio station to tell him what he’s found. Morris doesn’t believe his nonsense and tells him to leave. Billy makes him promise that if he can get some facts on Sivana, Morris will give him a job.
As Captain Marvel, he jumps into the henchmen’s room in the hotel and has no problem beating the holy hell out of them. Sivana is watching all of this on a monitor and trades some threatening dialogue with Captain Marvel until Marvel smashes up the monitor. He calls up Morris and shows him the truth. Morris gives Billy a job as promised and also promises not to let it be known that Billy beat up these goons himself. That’s right, he doesn’t even know about Captain Marvel. He thinks this little boy just took these guys down with his own bare hands.
CAPTAIN MARVEL JR.
Whiz Comics #25 (1941)
The story here is mainly about Captain Marvel fighting Captain Nazi. Towards the end, Captain Marvel pulls Nazi out of an airplane and uppercuts him into the distance. Captain Nazi lands in a lake, where a young Freddy Freeman (never mentioned by name) and his grandfather are fishing. The grandfather pulls Nazi out of the water, only to be killed for his kindness. Freddy goes at Nazi with his oar, but is smacked into the water. Captain Nazi escapes just as Captain Marvel arrives. Marvel takes the boy to a hospital immediately.
A nurse tells Billy that Freddy will never walk again. Billy feels bad about this and goes to Shazam’s home. He tells Shazam about what has happened and hopes that maybe he could heal the boy. Instead, Shazam has Captain Marvel transfer powers into the crippled Freddy.
Other than some explanations from Captain Marvel, that’s the story. What’s weird is how casual everyone is about the fourth wall. Captain Marvel tells Junior that he has to go into Master Comics to beat up Captain Nazi. What?
Even more confusing, Captain Nazi calls up Hitler long distance just to laugh about how awesome it is to kill a helpless old man and cripple a boy. And they wonder why they lost the war.
Micronauts #8 (1979)
I know so little about the Micronauts that I am all but lost here. From what I understand, the Micronauts are these tiny little robot guys from the Microverse. They hang out with a former astronaut Ray Coffin and his son Steve. The issue here shows their arch-nemesis Baron Karza showing up on Earth in human size, taking on the army. Steve gets to the front lines and gets the guy in charge to listen to his story of what they’re up against.
In the Microverse, this guy named Time Traveler lends some power to Ray Coffin to save them in their darkest hour. Later on, this happens.
The two fight and argue for the issue until Baron Karza escapes back into the Microverse. The Captain Universe powers leave Ray, who embraces his son in triumph.
Amazing Spider-Man #344 (1991)
Cletus Kasady is first shown with Eddie Brock in Riker’s Island. Eddie is shown keeping in shape with hopes of avenging the Venom symbiote, which he believes to be dead. Cletus, meanwhile, is bored out of his mind.
Eddie sure looks fine for a guy who supposedly is dying of cancer. Bullshit retcon.
It isn’t until Amazing Spider-Man #360 (1992) that we get an appearance of Carnage himself. In a one-page aside, Gunny Stein is on his way home from work, when he’s stopped by a stranger.
The Brave and the Bold #28 (1960)
This, the first Justice League story, involves the team fighting Starro the Conqueror. While the various members go off to do their own thing to fight the worldwide threat, we join the Flash as he runs to Happy Harbor. In this town, we meet Snapper Carr, who has just finished working on his lawn. His family shows no reaction to his hard work and instead stares straight ahead. They are hypnotized by one of Starro’s starfish underlings.
Starro’s henchman senses Snapper’s immunity and fires at him. Flash makes the save.
Let me just say that even though I enjoyed Snapper’s role in Young Justice, this issue makes me want to strangle the holy hell out of him. Maybe this will make you understand.
Flash defeats the starfish and takes Snapper with him to help out in the final battle. While Wonder Woman and Martian Manhunter take on Starro, Green Lantern uses his ring to inspect what could possibly make Snapper immune. They find that the lime he was using on the lawn protected him from Starro’s mind control. They then get a bunch of lime, toss it on the giant alien starfish and call it a day. They also allow Snapper membership to the Justice League because back then, comics needed to be really annoying.
Tales of Suspense #75 (1966)
I had to do a little research on Sharon to get a better understanding. Back during the war, Cap was in love with Sharon’s older sister Peggy, though he never actually knew her name. Sharon always admired Peggy’s war stories and became an agent of SHIELD. This is an origin that really, really, really needs a retcon about now.
This is the same story that debuts Batroc. Steve Rogers is walking around New York City when he sees Sharon. He can’t get over how much she looks like Peggy, though Peggy would have to be much older. He sees her carrying a cylinder of something as she bumps into a suspicious guy carrying a similar cylinder. The guy switches them, which is supposed to be a subtle spy move, but Rogers makes a big deal out of it. Sharon tries to calm him down while doing her well-renowned Wade Wilson impression.
The two figure that they’ve never met before, though they feel as if they have. Sharon leaves, eventually attacked by Batroc. Steve changes to Captain America and beats down on the plucky Frenchman. Sharon gets away with Batroc insisting that Cap help him get to her. Cap learns that not only is she a SHIELD agent, but her cylinder got cracked in the struggle and is capable of exploding and killing them all.
Detective Comics #311 (1963)
Tom Blake is a famous cat-catcher; a man who captures lions and tigers to give to the circus. He meets his acquaintance Bruce Wayne and describes how bored he’s become with capturing lions. Bruce also says he’s bored with his life. Another rich guy suggests that the two of them start fighting crime like Batman.
This gives Blake an idea. He thinks about becoming a crime-fighter, but Gotham already has Batman. He’d only be a rival. If he’s going to be Batman’s rival, he’s going to do it in a more exciting way. He’s going to be a villain!
Some time later, Catman appears at a museum exhibit to steal an emerald associated with an Egyptian cat queen. Batman tries to stop him, but Catman makes a clean enough getaway, thanks to his cat-based gimmicks. At a millionaire get-together, someone jokingly suggests that Tom Blake is Catman, which makes Blake smile. He’s such an obvious choice that nobody would seriously think it’s him.
Batman and Robin search for cat-themed places that Catman might try to rob. It seems their choice is wrong, as Catman robs the local club called Cat and Fiddle. Once he gets of the building with his money in hand, he meets up with Batwoman. Catman easily defeats her and expresses his admiration for her beauty.
Batman and Robin show up and scare Catman off. He escapes, but without the loot. From Catman’s little speech in that image, Batman uses it as a clue to discover that Catman is indeed Tom Blake. He and Robin investigate Blake’s home and stumble upon a Catcave. Eventually, the Dynamic Duo finds themselves matched up against Catman on a giant robot cat. Batman easily defeats it by tossing nuts and bolts into its mouth. Catman tries to escape across an underground stream, but loses his footing and seemingly dies in a waterfall.
Robin thinks Catman’s gone for good, but Batman brings up how a cat has nine lives.
Batman #1 (1940)
Batman notices that an old rich lady, Martha Travers, is going to have a party on a yacht. During this, she’ll be wearing a very expensive diamond necklace. This is just asking for trouble, but Batman already has his own case to cover. He sends Robin on it with the promise that he’ll meet up with him later. Dick Grayson works as a steward on the yacht, noticing that just about everyone has it in for the kind, old lady. Most notable is her nephew Denny and his elderly, limping friend Miss Peggs. Dick thinks he’s a pretty nice guy, but another steward informs him that Denny Travers is an asshole.
Dick investigates and finds that Denny is in cahoots with the infamous criminal known only as “The Cat”. Dick is too late to prevent the robbery of Mrs. Travers’ necklace. To make things worse, a boat of crooks comes by to steal the necklace themselves. Dick changes into Robin around the time Batman shows up. Batman disarms all the criminals and allows them to fight Robin. Robin wipes the floor with them until they beg for no more. Batman looks to us, the readers, to explain that criminals are yellow without their guns and shouldn’t be respected.
When returning the stolen loot to Mrs. Travers and her guests, Batman causes the alarm to go off. He sees the elderly Miss Peggs run off far too fast for someone with a limp like hers. Batman also takes a moment to notice how nice her legs are for someone that age. Robin catches Miss Peggs and Batman reveals that she is really The Cat.
Batman gets the necklace back, punches out Denny and has the first of many “star-crossed lover” conversations with Selena. Yes, even in her first appearance, Catwoman tries to seduce Batman, only to be told that they can never be. While Batman won’t join her as a criminal, he does subtly allow her to escape. This peeves Robin to no extent.
In two weeks: The destroyer of Bludhaven, the destroyer of Breakworld and the Justice League counterpart that’s jealous about it.