Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Av to Be

December 10th, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Uncanny X-Men #141 (1981)

Here we go with Avalanche’s first appearance, fighting alongside Mystique and her mutant terrorist squad. He had a scene earlier out of costume where he looked completely generic. It was one of those scenes that makes me wonder if it’s a law that whenever a supervillain team is introduced, all the members need to fight each other over something petty while showing off their powers.

“Nobody calls me that! Now I’m going to hypnotize you into thinking you’re a chicken!”

“Hey, leave him alone, ya creep! Eat heat rays!”


Fantastic Four #15 (1963)

Four decades before he’d be wearing a tie and a chalkboard, the Mad Thinker’s Awesome Android was programmed to defeat the Fantastic Four. He failed on many occasions. He’s beaten rather quickly here. After the Android beats down Thing, Reed speaks a bunch of science mumbo jumbo that translates to, “Hey Sue, turn invisible and press the off button.”


Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 (1992)

Jean-Paul Valley’s first appearance doesn’t feature him as Azrael, except for on the cover. His father, unbeknownst to the much-hated hero, holds the Azrael mantle and gets mortally wounded. With the last of his strength, he makes it to his son’s apartment.

I know I should follow this up with a joke about Azrael and the Beatles, but I’m drawing a complete blank here. Anyone?


Journey into Mystery #104 (1964)

Balder, Thor’s best buddy, is first used as a messenger. While Odin’s been hanging out on Earth, Loki has unleashed the monsters Surtur and Skagg. Balder comes to Earth and tells Thor, then later joins in the battle against the two monsters. Odin was too busy using his power to make the entire adventure invisible to everyone in New York.


Batman: Vengeance of Bane (1993)

Bane makes his debut in a long-ass comic about who he is and where he comes from. So there are plenty of images to choose from. I could have gone with him as a baby or growing up in a prison or shivving his fellow prisoners or – if I was angry at you readers – I could show you Bane doing a hostage negotiation while totally in the buff. Instead, let’s go with him when he first puts on his trademark luchador mask.

Later on in the issue, Bane beats up the Three Stooges as a way to intimidate Batman. Really.

I think Bane’s about ripe for a comeback. Don’t you?


Uncanny X-Men #28 (1967)

Hahaha! So is it some kind of old-fashion slur that Irish people are meant to look like orangutans? The story here is that Banshee is committing crimes and… wait. Actually, that panel pretty much sums up the entire issue. Ah, the old days. So simple.


Strange Tales #159 (1967)

Very early in his adventures, Dr. Strange is beating himself up for accidentally unleashing some kind of demon to Earth. While on his way to go smite it, he senses a cluster of magic-users nearby. Figuring he might be able to get some help on his quest, he stops by. Unfortunately, these magic users are releasing their powerful master from a prison constructed by the Ancient One. Strange comes to realize who this is and is not happy.

Nice haircut, Krusty.


Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #5 (1964)

I could easily show a panel of Strucker doing shirtless sword fighting (probably taught to him by Ra’s Al Ghul) or knocking around Nick Fury. But you know what? Fuck that Nazi. This may not be the best look at Strucker, but it’s a good look at Fury rocking hard.

And here I thought Germans loved David Hasselhoff.


Avengers #4 (1964)

This is a bit iffy. Baron Zemo is shown in flashback in Avengers #4, but all we see is the shadow of his fist while he yells something at Cap. The first time we really see him is Avengers #6 (1964), leading the first incarnation of the Masters of Evil.

He later died and for a while Captain America was threatened by Helmut Zero, the original’s son, who later stood on the line of hero and villain harder than most comic characters. But he wasn’t always dressing like his evil father. Here we see him in Captain America and the Falcon #168 (1973).

Stupid cosmic trademark laws. By the end of that issue, Phoenix got knocked into a vat of Adhesive X, beginning his role as the new Zemo. Superheroes always knock villains into vats of nasty liquid but how come they never actually go check to see if they’re dead?


Captain America Comics #1 (1941)

Gee whilikers, Captain! Just because you’re sloppy at hiding your secret doesn’t mean you should force the poor kid into constant danger! All those years of angst over Bucky’s death were a dirty lie. You deserved that Rob Liefeld boob picture, Rogers! Sick monkey.


Showcase #76 (1968)

You know, forget about the rest of the story. All you need are those two panels and you can call it a day.

The attacker didn’t die, if you’re wondering. Bat Lash merely shot the gun out of his hand and acted confused over why this stranger wanted to kill him. The woman he was tongue-wrestling with mentioned that that was her boyfriend. Lash just shrugged and left town.


Batman #139 (1961)

First we have the lesser known Betty Kane Batgirl from the 60’s. She was Kathy Kane’s niece, who Kathy eventually had to adopt. Betty was curious about Kathy always disappearing at night and came to figure out that she was Batwoman. With absolutely no martial arts experience, she sneaks out as Batgirl and is still ten times more useful than Speedy was when he first showed up.

In Detective Comics #359 (1967), they cut right to the chase by starting the story with this image. Barbara intends to surprise her father with this silly attire, but on the way to the Policeman’s Ball, she sees Bruce Wayne being kidnapped by Killer Moth. She ends up in a team-up with Batman and the rest writes itself.

Get used to that chair, Barbara. That’s all I can say.

Huntress became Batgirl for a bit, but we’ll get to her when we get to the H’s. Instead, we go to Batman #567 (1999) where we meet Cassandra Cain. Much like Bane and Azrael, she first appears in a comic solely based on her.

During the events of No Man’s Land, Cassandra works as a courier for Barbara Gordon. She cannot speak due to the way she was raised and we find out in this issue that her father is David Cain. We also get a good look at the assassination she took part in as a little girl and how much she hates her father for it, yet at the same time loves him for everything else.


Detective Comics #27 (1939)

From the beginning, this issue is amazing. It narrates about how Commissioner Gordon is hanging out with his friend Bruce Wayne.

“Well, Commissioner, anything exciting happening these days?”

“Noo… Except this fellow they call the ‘Bat-Man’ puzzles me!” The phone rings and he picks it up. “Hello… What’s that? Lambert, the chemical king… stabbed to death? His son’s finger prints on the knife? …I’ll be right over!”

What brilliant exposition. I think it’s impossible to read that scene without hearing the 1960’s live action Gordon saying the lines.

Criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot. They fear purple kitchen gloves and vertical suplexes. WWE wrestler the Undertaker must’ve stolen those gloves back in the mid-90’s.

Batman’s origin isn’t mentioned here at all. In fact, it isn’t until the last few panels that we even see that he’s really Bruce Wayne.


Detective Comics #267 (1964)

Batman and Robin find the Batcave in total disarray. A voice pipes behind them, but they see nothing.

Bat-Mite explains that he’s a magical being from another dimension who adores Batman and wants to help him fight crime. Batman comes up with an awful excuse for why Bat-Mite shouldn’t join them. Yes, Batman and Robin could have a powerful magic lackey making their jobs easier and saving more lives, but Batman can’t be bothered to have to explain Bat-Mite to other people. Bat-Mite then turns invisible and tries to help out anyway. He screws things up a couple times and makes amends by attacking criminals with a giant Batman statue.

Something was seriously wrong with the 60’s. Bat-Mite’s look hasn’t changed at all over the years, though he hasn’t exactly had many appearances lately.


Tales of Suspense #75 (1966)

Now that is a truly great Lee/Kirby collaboration. Batroc gets in a fight with Captain America and loses, though he does have enough street cred that Cap knows who he is and what his style is when they meet. Cap also punches Batroc so hard in the chest, it gives a “SPLAT!” sound effect. There’s no way that can be healthy.

I have a funny story about Batroc. Shortly after JLA/Avengers came out, I was talking to a huge Batman fan who was really cynically towards anything Marvel. I explain that at one point in the story, Captain America fights Prometheus and wins cleanly. Something that not even Batman has been able to do. This pisses him off.

“It gets better. Who do you think Batman was fighting during this?”

There’s a long pause until he gives me a really disgusted, “It was the French Leaper, wasn’t it?”


The Demon vol. 3 #43 (1994)

We first see Gotham’s greatest demon bartender enjoying a lava hot tub with Etrigan and other demons. Other than screaming “I AM BAYTOR!”, he also apparently enjoys quoting Ren Hoek. Good for him.

For those of you who have never read Hitman, Baytor’s the one on the right. HE IS BAYTOR!


New X-Men #117 (2001)

I really don’t know much of anything about Beak, but people seem to love the guy. He doesn’t have any useful powers other than being a freak, but that doesn’t stop him from being useful. Here we see him training with Beast in the Danger Room. From the images I’ve seen of Beak, this looks to be one of his nastiest appearances.


Uncanny X-Men #1 (1963)

Of all the original X-Men, Beast was easily the most boring. Just a generic-looking big guy that flipped around a lot. Before he would become a more entertaining blue ape thing, he was just a guy sexually harassing Jean Grey.

That’s our Hank! I just noticed that of the original X-Men roster, half of them would go on to evolve into some kind of blue thing.


Doom Patrol #99 (1965)

The Doom Patrol find that their headquarters has been broken into and defaced. They find different animal pieces all over the place and Robotman figures they’ve been attacked by some kind of “eaglephantigerilla”. They capture the culprit and find out just who and what he is.

Probably didn’t expect to see that. Again, they incapacitate the kid and ask him questions. Gar doesn’t explicitly state the reasons behind his actions, but the Chief figures that Gar only wants to prove his worth so he can join this ragtag group of freaks. Some members are against him joining, but agree that since he is an outcast due to his appearance, he probably would fit in with them, at least on a reserve basis. We get a brief look at Gar’s school life as being “that green kid” before he gets pulled into an adventure with the Doom Patrol. Beast Boy (a nickname he absolutely hates) completely carries the fight while the others look like incompetent fools.

Back at headquarters, Beast Boy says that if they ever need his help, they know where to find him. This issue was really an experiment by the writer who wasn’t sure how Beast Boy would be received as a member of the team. A blurb at the end of the issue says that if anyone wants to know Beast Boy’s origin, to send in letters asking for it. Guess it paid off.


Mighty Thor #337 (1983)

This issue is great. Nick Fury and SHIELD get Donald Blake to become Thor and defend them from an unknown alien intruder. Thor causes the spaceship Scuttlebutt to crash and investigates what’s inside. Immediately, he’s strangled by a brown hand and is tossed back. Thor wonders what kind of monster can possibly stand up to him so easily.

The two slug it out for a bit. Thor thinks Beta-Ray is an alien invader and Beta-Ray thinks Thor is some kind of demon. Thor loses his hold on Mjolnir long enough to turn back into Donald Blake, rendering helpless against Beta-Ray. The horse-faced newcomer picks up Blake’s walking stick, smacks it against something and causs it to transform back to Mjolnir. Now in a more powerful, Thor’d up form, Beta-Ray Bill faces SHIELD until an unknowing Odin pulls him into Asgard to help deal with Loki.

In two weeks: Disco God, a futuristic mullet and more Black guys than Showtime at the Apollo.

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11 comments to “Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Av to Be”

  1. Deadshot hung out with prostitutes back in the day, too?

  2. I think Zemo’s debut’s pretty good. He walks along bowing slave’s backs like some super-racist-pervert-dictator, wears bright pink & a crown then throws a tantrum befitting a 3-year old by jumping up and down on a newspaper and his origin is that he got a hood stuck to his face. I don’t think many villains get off to as good a start as that.

    Why are Captain America and Bucky so damn pale? Was colouring too expensive? Cap’s ghost-white face, rosy pink cheeks and wavy blonde hair make him look somewhatless than the epitome of masculinity.

    Incidentally, is there a reason the first Batgirl’s colour scheme matches that of the villain she’s fighting?

    The best thing about Bat-Man’s first appearance is that he seems to be trying to look stern and disapproving rather than intimidating, as though he hoped to make criminals give up out of shame rather than fear. Callously punching some crook into a vat of acid where they must’ve died an absolutely agonising death then saying that it was a fitting end for their kind was another odd highlight.
    The purple gloves do stand out though, they make it look like he went out to fight crime halfway through washing the dishes.

    By the by, does anyone know what DeciMation actually did to Beak? What powers could he have possibly lost?

  3. Aww, no images of Beast’s first appearance in furry blue form?

  4. beak? yeah, he lost he powers. to be precise, he no longer looks like a dead baby bird.

    good stuff gavok.

  5. re: Azrael and Beatles joke:

    Hm. I guess you could say Az would have to Carry That Weight, for one.

    The song Help! works, too.

  6. re: Bat-man origin

    Were comics in colour back then? Or were they retroactively coloured later?

    Concerning Beast, it’s interesting: IN the first few issues, Beast seemed very much like the big ape of the group, hence his bevahour towards Jean. Note his relatively crude speech. It wasn’t until later (issue 7 I think) that he made a 180 and turned into the brains of the outfit, aside from the Professor himself (who was pulling Spide-man/Mr. Fantastic level insane shit back in the day), using words with 10 syllables in them.

  7. American comic books have pretty much always been in color, as far as I know. If they weren’t, it was before superheroes arrived on the scene.

  8. Is Beak Bird-brain of the New Mutants?

  9. I don’t think so, no. Beak’s been depowered, so he can’t be in the new New Mutants, and he’s too new of a character for the old ones.

  10. That’s Baron Mordo’s roughly 208th appearance – I think he turned up in the second or third Dr Strange story with a bit of business involving a candle that must never go out or somesuch. Either that or poisoning the Ancient One again.

  11. So is it some kind of old-fashion slur that Irish people are meant to look like orangutans?

    Seriously late to the party here, but, actually, yeah. Back when the Irish were one of the U.S.’s designated Scapegoat Minorities, many believed due to the pseudo-science of the day that they were a different, more primitive species from Anglo-Saxons and depicted them as more apelike. I’ll let Wikipedia take over –

    “A prominent theme of ethnology in the 19th century alleged by New England racists…was that the Irish and other groups thought to derive from the Celts were somehow related to black people and thus considered inferior. Polygenism was a dominant theory, as was phrenology, and both were employed to ‘prove’ that Irish persons regardless of physical appearance were less developed and more primitive than other ‘races’ of humanity. Punch cartoons portrayed the Irish with protruding or prognathous jaws, claiming they were closer to apes than men.”

    No excuse for any traces of this appearing as recently as 1967, though.