Friday, March 16, 2012

Quality Comics Hero Profiles

Captain Triumph is created!
From Crack Comics #29 (1943).
Art by Alfred Andriola.
As I've mentioned before, with the Quality Companion still in print, I'm afraid that I have taken a lot of my original content offline, for now. Once the book goes out of print, I may repost it.

BUT I have just posted all of the Quality Character Profiles, albeit in truncated form. The listings of each character's stats, powers and special notes are largely intact, though. That said, there's plenty of things in my online profiles not found in the book, such as new character updates for Blackhawks, the Ray, Madam Fatal, and Von Hammer.

I also plan to continue fleshing out things like Blackhawk and the Spirit in ways that the book did not allow. For updates on these, always check back here.

(By the way, if you purchase it from TwoMorrows, you'll get a digital copy, too.)

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Barker 2000? Who Knew?

Well it's a glad day when I find out I've missed something, really!

A cover by Jack Cole.
Did you know that Quality's "The Barker" made a brief reappearance in 2005 at DC? (Thanks to James Robinson for the tip, BTW.) When I was writing the Quality Companion, I poo-pooed this feature initially, probably because I knew I'd have to read a lot of it and it wasn't a "super-hero" feature, per se. But once I dug in, I was hooked. Only the first two stories were written by Jack Cole, but Klaus Nordling eclipsed those stories and crafted a little world that I couldn't wait to revisit each time. Nordling's "Barker" was a fantastic mix of strange that bordered on super-hero. Many of the characters appeared to have super-powers but were revealed as shysters in the end. Fans clearly liked it too, because it lasted for over five years in National Comics #42–75 (May 1944–Dec. 1949) and The Barker #1-15 (Autumn 1945–Dec. 1949).

This wonderful four-part story by Mike Carey and John Lucas involved a new band of circus freaks led by another Irishman, Kitt Calahan. This was a four-part backup in Detective Comics #801-804, and some of the cast members were familiar.

The scene opened on Colonel Brand's Traditional Family Carnival, with Kieran "Kitt" Calahan (a new first name for the character), Midge, Painted Rose the tattooed contortionist, and Firestone the strong man. Kitt was about to drown his sorrows over the death of their friend, Mitchell Tomjohn the dog-faced boy, who was found dead that day. The police ruled his death an accident and the circus folk were angered when the local authorities refused to investigate further, so they decided to find justice themselves. (Detective #801)

The second Barker, Kitt Calahan ushers his doomed friend, Tomjohn, in to the tent. From Detective Comics #801 (2005). Art by John Lucas.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Stormy Foster in Lost Art from The Shade

A post at Bleeding Cool draws attention to this interesting anomaly from the (non-)pages of James Robinson's The Shade #4. It seems that these three Golden Age heroes—the Flash, Stormy Foster, and the Gay Ghost (identified by Robinson for me)—were removed from the story. The art was recently sold as part of the whole issue's set.

No doubt this has everything to do with DC's reconstruction of its universe to omit the original Justice Society. What's more, their new Earth-2 apparently has little to do with the classic Justice Society's premise or history. One wonders if the page would have remained in the book had Jay Garrick (the Flash) not appeared in it. Only time will tell whether their wartime history has a place on any sort of parallel world.

Art by Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone.
Incidentally, The Shade features a character named Von Hammer who is the great-grandson of Stormy Foster.