In my world, March came in like a tiger to celebrate the "Year of the Tiger." Today's tiger-themed cover is Fight Comics #86 [Fiction House; January 1954] showcasing Tigerman, "The One-Man Atom Squad!" Our two-fisted hero was a super-spy whose adventures first appeared in Rangers Comics. The Grand Comics Database [www.comics.org] lists Bill Benulis as the (tentative) penciler of this cover with Jack Abel on the inks.
There are two Tigerman stories in this issue, both reprinted from Rangers and both drawn by George Evans. Between these tales are two more Rangers reprints: a Sky Rangers adventure drawn by Charles Sultan and the Ruben Moreira-drawn "The Legion of the Lost." Even as the Fiction House comics were reaching the ends of their long runs, so were the adventure hero anthologies that had been a mainstay of the comics industry.
I've always wanted to write an anthology comic book like those published by Fiction House; it's even on my long "bucket list" of things I want to write. Maybe this will be the year that happens since the motto of the "Year of the Tiger" is:
Moving right along...
Though I've written about them in the past, revisiting my pal Anthony Tollin's Sanctum Books series of pulp adventure reprints - The Shadow, Doc Savage, The Avenger, and The Whisperer - is always fun. Each book collects a pair of classic novels, restored to their original form and complete with their original illustrations, for a mere $12.95 each, and then adds informative articles and cool short stories to the mix. In the case of several newly-reprinted Doc Savage novels, Tollin has used manuscript restorations that add as much as 7000 never-before-published words to the stories. That's about 15% more story than in either the original pulps of the 1960s Bantam paperback reprints.
Readers of this column are already familiar with Doc Savage, The Shadow, and The Avenger, all of whom have had their adventures adapted to comic books. Less known is The Whisperer.
The Whisperer is Police Commissioner James Gordon...and now you know where Batman co-creator Bill Finger got the name for the only other cast member to appear in the Dark Knight's first story. Gordon fights especially cunning or violent criminals by posing as a criminal mastermind. The Whisperer is a quirky character, not as well written as the other Sanctum heroes, but he's the one I would most like to write myself.
Gordon is short, bad-tempered, feisty, two-fisted, and totally dismissive of authority. Heck, I could not only write this guy, I could be him. I'm just saying.
Tollin and consulting editor Will Murray are well aware of the many connections between the heroes of pulp adventure and those of the comic books. Many of their Sanctum volumes feature articles on those connections.
Murray's "Intermission" in Doc Savage #27: "Murder Mirage" & "The Other World" reveals that the Laurence Donovan-written "Murder Mirage" [January, 1936] was "literally adapted" by Jerry Siegel for a Superman story in Action Comics #30 [November, 1940] and that Siegel took a later Doc Savage adventure by Donovan - "He Could Stop The World" - and turned it into the lead story for Superman #8 [February-March, 1941].
In Doc Savage #28: "The Vanisher" & "The Metal Master", Murray examines the influence of Doc Savage on Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in their creation of the Fantastic Four and other Marvel super-heroes and super-villains. That volume also features two weeks of the Doc Savage newspaper strip created by Dave Cockrum and Mark Hanerfeld in 1979 and the moving "Doc Savage, Dave Cockrum, and Me" by Paty Cockrum, Dave's widow.
The Shadow #28: "Master of Death" & "The Rackets King" has a previously unpublished story by Gibson. "The Purple Girasol" was written concurrently with Gibson's earliest Shadow novels. He took the hypnotic gem from that tale and added it to the Shadow's crime-fighting arsenal. To commemorate the publication of this important story, Tollin commissioned new illustrations by popular comics artist Eduardo Barreto.
The Shadow #29: The Shadow's Rival & The Devil Master is a Batman fan's delight as both Gibson novels foreshadow elements of future Batman comic books. The former was utilized by Edmond Hamilton for "The Crime Predictor" [Batman #77; June-July, 1953] while giant props such as those found in the latter novel were frequently used by Bill Finger in his Bat-scripts of the 1940s through the 1960s. You can be assured future Sanctum volumes will feature the source material for other comics doppelgangers.
Not every story reprinted by Sanctum books is first-rate, but all of them are, at the very least, interesting. Throw in all of those spiffy special features and the bargain price of just $12.95 per volume and, simply put, you have one of the very best buys in adventure fiction.
Sanctum Books earn the full five out of five Tonys.
You can order them directed from the publisher at:
This is the e-mail I sent to my representatives in Congress: Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressman John Boccieri. Both of them are Democrats. My other Senator is George Voinovich, who has been called a RINO (Republican In Name Only) by the extreme right, but who is still Republican enough that he doesn't serve the citizens of Ohio particularly well.
Here's what I wrote:
I just watched the latest bit of Republican TV spot garbage, the ad in which they tried to describe reconciliation a process they used 16 times as "special rules." The ad concluded by saying voters should contact you, presumably to speak out against the current health care bill.
I voted for you because I don't think Republicans have any interest in anyone other than the rich and the powerful. The eight years of Bush II crippled this country, morally and economically. I'll make this simple.
If you don't vote in favor of our President's health care bill, I won't be voting for you again.
If the Democrats can't nut up and start doing the things that we elected them to do, it's time to bite the bullet and start voting for third parties that will. Yeah, it will take longer to effect the change we need, probably decades, but I will no longer support a Democratic Party that lets itself become Republican Lite.
I'll let you know if I get responses.
Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
Please send material you would like me to review to: