Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Be to Bl

December 30th, 2006 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sorry for being a week late. The holidays drained me faster than a three-way with Rogue and Parasite. …Please pretend I didn’t just say that.


Secret Wars II #1 (1985)

We start out with another iffy entry. The Beyonder was present during the first Secret Wars. That’s obvious. It’s just that at no point did he actually appear. That didn’t happen until the horrifying sequel. We know him for his silly disco outfit, but that wasn’t what he originally showed up in.

I like it. We see him talking with the Molecule Man, who tries to explain things to him in a way that is admirably calm and casual. Molecule Man and Volcana send Beyonder on his way as he takes a more subtle form on his quest for experience. This form is of Molecule Man himself. He proceeds to turn a desk into apples, turns a fat television writer into a super-villain and then turns invisible and follows Captain America around for the hell of it.


Incredible Hulk #169 (1973)

Bi-Beast’s first appearance comes up in a weird story where Betty has transformed into this green bird demon called the Harpy. She and the Hulk are too deep in their violent, close-minded, green personas to realize who the other really is. Betty became the Harpy because of MODOK and all of them end up in some kind of cloud city (no Lando) and meet Bi-Beast.

Bi-Beast wins when the thin air makes Hulk revert to Banner. Bi-Beast is the last of some kind of race of bird people or something that I… Listen, this is a story about a giant head with tiny limbs and a two-headed Brock Lesner with one neck. It doesn’t have to make sense. The only reason I decided to cover the guy was so I could post this gag from Twisted Toy Theater.

The issue ends with Bruce finding a way to revert Betty back to her human form. The framing and cropping of the panels after this obviously point out that she’s supposed to be naked and the final panels show the floor crumbling as the two begin to freefall. Curious, I checked the next issue to find Betty suddenly wearing a torn dress in mid-air. Oh, you wacky Silver Age, Comics Code and dude writing yourself in a corner.


Adventures of Superman #428 (1987)

Superman, looking for information, goes to Suicide Slums and enters a rather seedy bar. There he meets the man who I regard as my favorite Superman supporting character. Suck it, Jimmy.

On the next page, Bibbo apologizes and shows his respect for how tough Superman is by offering him a drink. Though Superman ignores him, Bibbo would later become one of Superman’s most memorable fans.

Interesting thing I read is that at one time, Bibbo denounced his admiration of Superman in transition to Lobo, who had recently brawled with the Man of Steel. I find this pretty amusing, considering Brad Garrett voiced both Bibbo and Lobo on the Superman animated series with little vocal difference.


Mister Miracle #4 (1971)

Big Barda, the amazon hotty of Apokalips, doesn’t look so good when drawn by Jack Kirby. She first shows up to visit her old friend and love interest Scott Free, only to find Oberon.

Hearing that Scott is off fighting Doctor Bedlam, Barda leaves, believing that Scott is doomed. She doesn’t realize that Mr. Miracle has already won that battle. Instead, she joins him in a different challenge, against a bunch of civilians hypnotized into trying to kill Scott. Scott considers her a good friend at first, but by the end of the story, when Barda is casually walking around the house in a bikini-looking outfit, Scott and Oberon finally see her in a different light.

“Whoever made that gal wear a uniform should be horse-whipped!”


Uncanny X-Men #282 (1991)

Trevor Fitzroy, time traveler and all-around ass, comes to the present and battles the X-Men. He controls some Sentinels, but they prove worthless. He continues to use his powers to create time rifts to bring in more opponents for the X-Men. Finally, Fitzroy’s arch-nemesis catches up with him.

Had I been following the series at that time, I do believe I would be officially pumped. I would only be able to speculate what the hell was going on, but I’d still know that angry, facially-scarred, time-traveling black dudes with mullets are not something you take lightly.


Superboy #68 (1958)

Bizarro’s always been 50% comedy that tries to cover up the 50% tragedy. The first incarnation of Bizarro was definitely on the tragic side. Superboy visits his friend Professor Dalton, who has invented a cloning ray. The two experiment by trying to clone radium and jewelry, but the invention is a dud. While it does create matter, the end results are far from perfect. Dalton slips and accidentally hits Superboy with the ray. On the floor, they find an unmoving clone of Superboy. Dalton doesn’t think of it as being alive, so he figures they’ll just throw him away later.

Bizarro tries to make friends with people, but they all run and scream because he’s a retarded mutant. Even Superboy, rather than reason with his clone, tries to destroy him. Once shunned by Martha Kent, Bizarro falls into a deep depression until meeting a young girl Melissa who doesn’t seem too horrified by his appearance. Instead, she compliments him on his kind voice. Bizarro, now with a friend, feels optimistic. Like usual Bizarro stories, his inability to control himself causes more headaches for Smallville and pushes Superboy’s resolve to kill him. The prick.

Bizarro sees Melissa fall into an obvious puddle and comes to realize that the only reason she’s been so kind to him is because she’s blind. Bizarro loses all hope and allows Superboy to blow him up. The explosion causes Melissa to regain her sight. Whether or not Bizarro planned that is up in the air.

No backwards-speak, if you’re wondering.


Marvel Family #1 (1945)

Captain Marvel wasn’t the first errand boy for Shazam. Long ago, back in ancient Egypt, Teth Adam was given the abilities of several Egyptian gods. The power soon corrupted him and Shazam had no choice but to send him light years away. 5,000 years pass and Black Adam makes his return to Earth.

I tell you. The more things change…

A big brawl with Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. ends when Captain Marvel tricks Adam into saying “Shazam”. This reverts him to his human form and kills him via suddenly aging 5,000 years. So, in essence, Captain Marvel was pulling that kind of shit decades before Miracle Man.


Fantastic Four #45 (1965)

Johnny Storm comes across Crystal, who is really secretive about herself until finding out that Johnny also has powers. She brings him to meet the other Inhumans, though Johnny has already met a couple. Via previous adventures, he has bad blood between Medusa and Gorgon. Things escalate and the rest of the Fantastic Four are brought in, while the Inhumans make a couple mentions of a leader named Black Bolt. Reed warns the others that they should be careful as they don’t truly know what they’re up against.

The secret is that his middle name is Francine. That doesn’t come up in continuity very often.


Flash Comics #86 (1947)

Dinah Drake makes her first appearance by seducing the nutty Johnny Thunder.

In this amusing little story, Black Canary is shown to be a criminal that only steals from other criminals. She, Johnny and Johnny’s genie Thunderbolt take on “Socks” Slade, who… “Socks” Slade. Sorry, I just can’t get over that. The story ends with Johnny infatuated with the blond bombshell and Thunderbolt yelling at him about how tired he is of seeing superheroes falling in love with hot villainesses.

This is where it gets tricky. An Earth-2 version of Dinah joined the Justice League in the pages of Justice League of America #75 (1969). Somehow she accidentally causes the creation of evil Justice League doubles. Like so.

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, this story was retconned so that this was really Dinah Lance, the original’s daughter. I guess. I have a hard time keeping the old Crisis retcons straight. I’m just going to leave this entry here. The more I read about the Black Canary history, the more brain matter leaks from my ears.


Amazing Spider-Man #194 (1979)

Black Cat’s first appearance is what you’d expect. She’s a thief and Spider-Man’s trying to catch her. Though I guess the part where Spider-Man shoves his foot up Black Cat’s ass isn’t exactly expected. In only her first appearance, we already get a little hint at their destined romance.

Every time Spider-Man tries to catch her, she causes bad luck to get in his way. This includes the end of the issue, where a prison wall collapses onto Spider-Man and the new villainess rubs it in.


Avengers #47 (1967)

Here we’re dealing with the main Black Knight. There’s a legacy with him and those with the same mantle, but I don’t really care. Dane Whitman appears in this issue, thinking about his uncle, who used the Black Knight guise for evil. It isn’t until the next issue that we finally see Whitman in his new costume.

Rather than try to prove his worth, he instead decides to seek out the Avengers so they can help rescue Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch from Magneto’s clutches. Hawkeye, being Hawkeye, reacts at Black Knight by launching an arrow. Things go badly from here. Once everyone’s calmed down, Black Knight tells them where Pietro and Wanda are. Unfortunately, Magneto’s already left and took his prisoners with him. Black Knight asks to help stop him, but Hank Pym asks him to sit it out since they don’t know anything about him. Black Knight gets offended and leaves the three to face Magneto alone.


Black Lightning #1 (1977)

Black Lightning, the Superfriend that never was, appeared in his own series before being introduced anywhere else. Jefferson Pierce returns to his old neighborhood to find the criminal syndicate The 100 taking control. He tries to fight back and it ends with the death of a young friend of his. With the help of a tailor and a belt that gives him electric powers, he gets his revenge as Black Lightning.

That afro is part of the mask, by the way. That gets a laugh and head-shake out of me.

I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to Black Lightning, courtesy of comedian and SNL host Sinbad.

“Eat some lightning bolts, CHUMP!”


Aquaman #35 (1967)

Though this issue is Black Manta’s first appearance, he and Aquaman don’t act like it. The two make it seem like they’ve been at each other’s throats for years. Black Manta rides his underwater vessel towards Atlantis in order to poison the water and make the area unlivable. Aquaman simply stops this by injecting all of his people with a serum that makes them able to breathe air. Of course!

Aquaman then gets into an adventure against his half-brother the Ocean Master. Since Aquababy saves Ocean Master’s life, the villain feels he owes it to save Aquaman from Black Manta’s next murder attempt.

Black Manta’s always had the unfortunate fate of being an Aquaman villain. Considering his neat appearance and cool-as-ice voice from Superfriends, that’s a shame.


Batman #386 (1985)

“Crazier than the Joker! Deadlier than Ra’s al Ghul! Introducing a villain for the ‘80s! BLACK MASK!”

The issue goes over Black Mask’s origin, showing him as being Bruce Wayne gone horribly wrong. His life is filled with trauma that reaches a peak when he runs the family business into the ground by going ahead with an experimental make-up product rather than fully test it first. He would later use that make-up to bond an ebony mask to his face and start a reign of terror as the Black Mask.

While this is indeed his first appearance, I can’t help but think that they were trying to incorporate False Face from the old 1960’s Batman show into the comics. There’s also a bit later in the comic that is obviously based on that Twilight Zone episode, “The Masks”.


Fantastic Four #52 (1966)

I always expected that Black Panther’s first showing would be one of those cliché stories where the Fantastic Four would wander into Wakanda peacefully and get attacked for intruding. Not the case here. Instead, the Wakanda government gives Reed Richards a sweet new plane in exchange for coming to Wakanda, meeting Chief T’Challa and taking part in a ceremonial hunt. The Fantastic Four and Wyatt Wingfoot (or as I call him, Wyatt the Blandest Comic Character to Ever Exist) take him up on the offer.

I’m sure you can guess the invitation’s real meaning.

Oof. Those kicks can in no way be hurting Johnny and Ben enough to warrant that kind of self-inflicted pain. Black Panther uses a bunch of contingencies to take apart the Fantastic Four one at a time. When it seems like he’s going to defeat Reed, the others come back to team up on him. Wyatt Wingfoot (or as I call him, Super Snore) had released them all from their prisons, showing that Black Panther spent all his time planning against the superheroes and none planning against the ordinary guy. The issue ends with a cliffhanger, where T’Challa is about to explain his actions.


Action Comics #23 (1940)

Kind of an odd choice to put on the list, but Jon Valor, the Black Pirate, had a fantastic role in Starman. I didn’t even realize he was an established character until coming across him in the DC Encyclopedia.

The story here is pretty short. A pirate crew kills a boat full of people. There’s one woman left to kill. The Black Pirate swings his way down.

Despite the odds, he fights off a bunch of pirates, though declares that he only wants to swashbuckle their captain. Before he can, the damsel in distress jumps into the water to escape. Valor tries to go after her, but finds nothing. He swims to a nearby island and camps out while the pirates dock.

Reading this gives me Watchmen flashbacks. We’ll revisit this issue of Action Comics later. A certain major villain also debuted here.


New Gods #3 (1971)

The issue here has surprisingly little to do with Orion, despite he being the main character and this being so early on. The Black Racer stalks Lightray through space and has him cornered. All of the sudden, the Black Racer vanishes. Metron has saved Lightray at the last second by teleporting Black Racer away with a boom tube.

Black Racer ends up on Earth and feels that it is because of destiny. Some members of Intergang shoot down a man on the streets. They discover a man in a window, Willie Walker. Walker, a Vietnam vet, is in almost a vegetative state. Since he did see the shooting, the criminal Suger-Man decides to put him out of his misery. The Black Racer stops him from firing and lets Suger-Man escape. The Racer believes that destiny has called for Walker to become the new Black Racer. He gives his power to Walker and reduces himself to dust. Walker, now able to walk and talk, puts on the Black Racer’s armor and understands what he has become.

Those were the days. These days, you leave a pair of skis laying around the sidewalk for a minute, you get them stolen. Even if you have the Club.

The new Black Racer proceeds to hunt down and kill Suger-Man. He returns to his bed to rest, reverting to his vegetative Willie Walker appearance so nobody suspects a thing.

Speaking of black dudes with ridiculous appearances…


Strange Tales #173 (1974)

Brother Voodoo is going around, trying to find his kidnapped girlfriend Loralee. She was taken after Voodoo got the snot kicked out of him by some guys in blue robes. He tracks them down and gets the snot rekicked out of him. He awakens to find Loralee alive, but perhaps not for long. Voodoo sees his new foe step forward.

Then he probably proceeded to laugh his ass off. Then Black Talon probably fell over because those feet cannot be easy to walk on.


Uncanny X-Men #99 (1976)

Black Tom is yet another character who didn’t make a full appearance first time around. As we see, he’s obscured by the rain and perspective. Two issues later, he would make his first full appearance, with Juggernaut in tow. Why they felt the need to make him so mysterious is beyond me. We already knew that he was Banshee’s cousin. The only surprise to come out of his first true appearance was the revelation that he has a beard.


Tales of Suspense #52 (1964)

Black Widow is one of two agents sent by the commies to go take care of Iron Man. Her partner, a rather large guy by the name of Boris, is given the mission to steal the Crimson Dynamo armor, currently in the possession of Stark. When Natasha first sees who’s she’s up against, she thinks, “Hmm… That Anthony Stark is handsome as well as wealthy! He will make an interesting assignment for the Black Widow!”

I know hindsight is 20/20, but it’s hard to read this and wonder how people were surprised by Natasha’s actions in Ultimates.

Black Widow does indeed turn on Iron Man, but Iron Man’s helped by Anton Vanko, the original Crimson Dynamo. Anton destroys the new Crimson Dynamo; an act that ends his own life in the process. In the confusion, Black Widow sneaks off. Tony Stark decides it would be a waste of time to chase her down. After all, where can she go? She can either pay for her crimes of failure or go on the run. The last we see is Black Widow sadly walking the streets in an attempt to escape punishment.

In two weeks: Ladies from Nextwave, drunken cops and the Laurel and Hardy of the Justice League.

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5 comments to “Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Be to Bl”

  1. I think I’ve seen the story where Bibbo pals around with Lobo. If I remember correctly, Lobo gets told by some aliens in a bar that he’s not hard enough to kick in Superman. Lobo takes offence, and heads off to Earth to prove them wrong. He bumps into Bibbo in a pub, the two of them have a drunken argument, then Lobo takes Bibbo along with him when he heads over to the Fortress of Solitude and batters Superman. I think Supes fakes his death or something to get out of it.

    Black Adam looks like some skinny, peevish janitor in his first appearance, quite a far cry from the regal super-hunk monarch he is today. Still, I like the sound of his debut, especially the idea of him being teleported so far away that it took him 5000 years to return, and the way that the Marvels took him down.
    I’ve also got a soft-spot for evil-twin type villains anyway.

  2. What the crap kind of sleeper is Canary applying there? Especially one that makes you immediately slip into unconsciousness?

    It looks like some kind of W Vulcan Nerve Pinch, to go puroreso about it.

    And the Boris and Natasha and Moose and Squirrel jokes just write themselves!

  3. Holy crap. I didn’t even make that connection.

  4. That Black Adam clip brought to light how back in the day, several old villians look just like superfriends Sinestro. (aka Evil Spock.) Guess that the look is just a popular badguy archtype of the times.

  5. […] Deadshot’s Tophat and Other Beginnings: Be to Bl – Gavok from 4thletter! continues his look at heroes and villains “before they were stars.” This entry includes such luminaries as Big Barda, Bishop, Black Adam, Black Canary, Black Lightning, Black Panther, and Black Racer to name a few (from 4thletter!) […]