Monday, September 18, 2023

The Scorpion #3 Night of the Golden Fuhrer


Atlas- Seaboard Written by Gabriel Levy and illustrated by Jim Craig  July 1975

The third and final issue of The Scorpion, like most of the Atlas line many of characters had revamp to make them more (Marvel) superheroes.  Chaykin left the title and a new creative team took over the title. – Now I had intended to cover all the stories in publication order but I thought that certain stories are better being talked about together, so all the Scorpion stories together and then the initial three Dominic Fortune stories.  Interestingly, the first Fortune story was published in between issues 2 & 3 of the Scorpion.

The story opens in 1943 with Moro Frost fighting in World War Two, his plane is shot down and explodes leaving no body and only his dog tags.  And as we all know, if there’s no body they’re not dead.

The story then opens in 1975 (the present) and there is a new Scorpion fighting crime.  He is David Harper editor of the Daily Times who wears a spandex suit with a lovely blue and orange colour scheme.  A mixture of The Green Hornet and Spiderman or Daredevil.  It’s left in the air if Harper is a new identity for Moro Frost or just the bearer of the Scorpion legacy.  (I have my own theories on that but that’s for my concluding article/timeline.  There is a line that this Scorpion had heard Nazi rhetoric 30 years earlier and didn’t buy it then)

The adventure proper opens with Rabbi Akibah and his daughter Sara attacked by neo-Nazis lead by the Golden Fuhrer – a Nazi in a gold mask.

The Nazis leave Sara behind warning her to keep her mouth shut.  She immediately calls the police and tells her employer David Harper.  Harper sends her home so he can investigate as The Scorpion.

There’s an odd bit where The Scorpion climbs out the window only to discover that there is no ledge and he has to use his wrist grappling hook.

Sara returns home so the Nazi can kidnap her for leverage on her father.  (Seriously Nazis take the girl in the first place – she can’t call the police if you had taken her in the first place and her father would have been more cooperative)

We discover that the Rabbi is a Jewish Mystic who in World War Two summoned the Golem of Prague to fight against the Nazis.  These neo Nazis think he can resurrect their dead leaders from World War Two but he summons the Golem that he kept in his basement (it is suggested that he built a new golem in the opening).  The Golem bursts out of the Akibah house as the Scorpion arrives.  The Scorpion fights the Golem but the Golem creates a psychic link to show where the Rabbi and his daughter are being kept.

The Scorpion then follows the Golem and the pair attack the Nazis.  The Scorpion ties up several of the henchmen as the Golem attacks the Golden Fuhrer.  The Scorpion tries to save the Fuhrer but is unsuccessful and the Golem smashes a sewerage tank flooding the building and only The Scorpion, Sara and her father escape (that we know of).

It’s not a bad story and after the first two stories is a change of pace.  It’s an action packed story but The Scorpion is now fighting intolerance in all its forms – it comes across a little preachy.  If it was published today some would call it woke or SJW but that part of the story isn’t overpowering.

The redesign of the Scorpion’s costume is okay but what is the point of that colour scheme? 

Maybe with more stories, I would have warmed to this version of the character more but that was not to be.  Atlas folded soon after and we pick up our story over in Marvel.

Monday, September 11, 2023

The Scorpion #2 The Devil Doll Commission


Atlas- Seaboard Written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin  May 1975

The second story starts with The Scorpion being hired by the wife of a missing financier with rumours of voodoo and black magic.  Frost is about to refuse the case when he is attacked by a lion.  A lion who returns to human form after death.

Intrigued The Scorpion begins his investigation and discovers that the missing financier has no history prior to 1930 the same time a Chicago gangster died in an accident.  The Scorpion finds the man dead seemingly of a heart attack in a locked room.  But the discovery of a voodoo doll suggests murder.

Ruby discovers that the gangster’s partner is in town and that the widow is the only person who can access the Panamanian bank accounts where the money was hidden. Our villains kidnap Ruby thinking she is the widow and kill the voodoo priestess.

The Scorpion finds the dying priestess who tells him that she expected the double cross and set up a couple of hexes to get her revenge from the grave.  The Scorpion races to rescue Ruby from the first hex, a spell on a pet lion cub to turn him into a giant raging beast.

Stopping the beast and narrowly avoiding being shot to death, the Scorpion is informed that the dead man’s body has disappeared from the morgue.  Realising that the second hex has made a zombie to kill his wife, the Scorpion races across town to prevent the death of his client.

The zombie is unstoppable and the Scorpion blows up the house. The story ends with the Scorpion telling reporters he’s not waiving his fee.

The cover image of zombies attacking Ruby doesn’t appear in the story, with only the one zombie attacking the widow not Ruby and that Zombie looks nothing like those on the cover.

Again it’s another high action story, with the Scorpion racing around town investigating and saving people from the voodoo hexes.

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

The Scorpion #1


Atlas- Seaboard Written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin  Feb 1975

The Scorpion is a man known as Moro Frost – at least that’s what he is known circa 1938,  before that he was known by several names ranging from the  American Civil War until the end of World War One. 

JC Clellan Lowe – a balloonist for the Union Army

Virgil Torrent – special envoy to President Teddy Roosevelt

Ben Turck – mercenary flying for Villa against Pershing

Michael Christy - flying for Lafayette Escadrille in 1917-1918.

But those aren’t really important perhaps had Chaykin stayed with the series and had it lasted longer this back story would have been used more.

The Scorpion is a fun character, he’s aviation based troubleshooter.  The story starts when Moro Frost and his companion Ruby Bishop witness a plane crash.  The owner of the airline recognises The Scorpion and hires him to investigate the mysterious series of unexplained crashes that have happened recently. 

We discover that it is a shipping magnate who as hired two henchmen to target the planes with a sonic weapon that kills the pilots and then destroys the engine with no sign of foul play.

The Scorpion takes one of the runs for the airlines but as an ace pilot he is able to out manoeuvre the villain’s plane and shoot them out of the sky.

The magnate once hearing the Scorpion is involved wants no further part in the caper but the two henchmen are upset that the Scorpion shot them down and destroyed the sonic weapon.  They kill the magnate and kidnap Ruby Bishop.

Frost fights with the saboteurs and rescues Ruby.  The bad guys try to fly off and bomb the airfield to kill Frost.  Frost chases them on his motorcycle and shoots the plane out of the sky.

It’s a good start, The Scorpion has a strong reputation that he is recognised several times and commands a high price.  His vest is lined with chain mail making it a good shield but and nasty weapon.  He has a cool look and story is exciting with a lot of action.

The idea that Moro Frost is immortal isn’t really played with in the story, in the fight with the bad guys we are told that he is tough but he doesn’t sustain enough damage to highlight that he may be immortal.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

The Saga of Dominic Fortune

Over the years, I've followed many, many characters - most of whom have a distinctly pulp flavor.  I could rattle them off for hours.  

Sometimes the character is new or simply new to me.  Other times I will rediscover a character that I had forgotten about or was only able to find one or two issues back in the day.  With the internet, expanding that collection or reacquiring books, movies or comics from the past is a lot easier.  

It's the latter case with Dominic Fortune, many years ago in the last century I picked up Web of Spiderman #10 

Who was this Dominic Fortune?  I must have bought this when it came out at the newsagent.  It didn't stay in the collection for one of the moves and I don't recall being aware that there were more adventures of Dominic Fortune.  I remember him using a roll of dimes or quarters as knuckledusters.

A few weeks back something reminded me of Dominic Fortune, and I started down the rabbit hole.  My wallet was less than happy with me, but I eventually managed to acquire the complete adventures of Dominic Fortune. More than that, Fortune was created by Howard Chaykin, and Chaykin had a test run for Fortune with Scorpion for Atlas Comics.  Chaykin drew the first two issues before the powers that be decided to make the series more superhero for the third and final issue.

So over the next few weeks, I will be looking at the three issues of the Scorpion and the Adventures of Dominic Fortune.  I will look at each individual story whether it be told as a short in an anthology, a single issue or a run of several issues and will do this in more or less publication order.
Come back next week for the first thrilling adventure of The Scorpion.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

I'm on Superhero Cinephiles

 I've been a long time fan of the Superhero Cinephiles podcast.  Created by Derrick Ferguson and Perry Constantine, it's a fun podcast like eavesdropping on two old friends talking about superhero movies, which you basically are.

After Derrick's passing, it was unclear how the podcast would continue if at all.  But Perry decided to continue with a series of co-hosts.  He put out the call and I answered to talk about Black Scorpion and Black Mask two of my favourite New Pulp superhero movies of the 1990s. We discussed these movies, the franchises they both spawned and how they connect to both Batman and The Green Hornet.

Have a listen to my episodes at or wherever you listen to podcast and check out the other episodes.  

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Comic Shop Haul January 2022

Ok I'm going to get back into Blogging especially since I stopped about a year ago. My local comic shop Comics Etc has a new service Comics Etc Direct. Each month you preorder the comics three months ahead and the comics and books come in at the end of that month. So I figured I might as well cover my purchases here. I may go back and do some of the older and relevant stuff that ties into the new stuff as well. With a new wave of the COVIDS sweeping the nation, it wasn't until the other day I got to pick up the January delivery. King of Spies #2 by Mark Millar and Matteo Scalera (Image/Netflix) - I've not read much of Millar's work for the Big Two but I've enjoyed many of his idependant works, Kick-Ass, Hit-Girl, Prodigy and The Secret Service. The latter was the basis for the Kingsman movies (I just saw the prequel The King's Man which I should review here). Like The Secret Service, King of Spies is a spy comic. The former asks what if James Bond picked and trained a lower class lad as his replacement. King of Spies is basically what if the Pierce Brosnan version of James Bond (with a little of Timothy Dalton) had retired and found out that he had six months to live? What would he do? In this case we get Roland King, who decides that he will use his licence to kill to take out the scumbags that the service wouldn't let him tackle while he was on the job. that pretty much sums up the first issue where Roland gets his diagnisis and kills a Russian Oligarch, who was rude to the waitress at his club. We see Roland tackling several of his targets in some nice action pieces killing a former President of the United States and two former British Prime Ministers - Millar doesn't say who they are but drops enough clues to make an educated guess and we get the death of Prince Ewan a son of the Queen who will never go to trial - I mean I can't even think of who that might refer to..... Now killing off such high profile targets is a bit awkward for the service and they recall Atticus King, Roland's son from his latest job to kill his father. Atticus hires a couple of drug kingpins that Roland left for dead with missing limbs (as seen in a flashback at the start of the issue). So we're left on the cliffhanger that Atticus and the druglords will be clasing with Roland in the next issue. I quite like this series. I'll cheerfully be watching the Netflix adapatation when it comes out. I like the idea of seeing an older "Bond" going sod it I'm going to take down the guys I wasn't allowed to touch. This feels like a companion piece to The Secret Service and I wouldn't be surprised if a connection is revealed down the track. Moonstone Triple Threat (Moonstone Books) So this was nice slim little anthology of three pulp short stories. The first story is The Lone Ranger: The Quest of the Golden Serpent by James Reasoner. Reasoner is a veteran western/pulp writer and this is a solid Lone Ranger tale. The Lone Ranger and Tonto find a young woman being hunted by several hardcases. They rescue her and she explains that she is hunting the Golden Serpent of the title, which has a clue to a lost treasure. Naturally, The Lone Ranger and Tonto offer to help her and they help her interpret a map she has found. Like all good treasure hunts, the rival treasure hunters oare hot on their trail and we get several shoot outs before the heroes find the treasure. This is a nice solid story and I enjoyed it. Next is a Johnny Fade in Deadtown story "Deadtown Rhumba" by Nancy Holder and Alan Philipson. I was lucky enough to meet Nancy and Alan at a convention as Nancy and I had both had stories in "Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Was Not" and all three of us have stories in the follow up anthology Dracula Unfanged. Johnny Fade is a crooked LA Homocide detective, who after dying finds himself in Deadtown, a kind of Purgatory, where shady characters go before they move to either Heaven or Hell and it's more likely to be the latter. Johnny is tryng to figure out just what Deadtown is and how it works as well as being summoned back to the land of the living by wealthy heiresses and actresses to help them with their problems. This is a fun story with an interesting premise, the idea of a dark noirish purgatory full of badguys and femme fatales with a seedy detective trying to figure out what is happening. I'd like to see more of this world and there are a number ways this could go and I'm curious to see where future installments go. The final story is a Gladiator and Golden Amazon story "Ghosts of War" by Mike Bullock. So this will have a bit of backstory. Gladiator by Philip Wylie is a novel I've never read but is well known in superhero circles as a likely inspiration for Superman (Wylie threatened to sue Schuster who says he never read the book). A quick summary Hugo Danner's father experimented on him in the womb injecting him with a serum that makes him the early Superman (or a stronger version Captain America), Danner is invulnerable to bullets, super speed and able to leap great buildings in a single bound (so no flying, x-ray or heat vision). He spends much of the novel having to hide his powers (I wonder if Zack Snyder had read the novel) Danner has been adapted into comics a few times including The Young All-Stars by Roy Thomas where we discover that he is the father to Thomas' golden age Superman stand in Iron Munro. There have been a couple of comic adaptations of the novel one for Marvel Preview #9 as Man-God and a four issue miniseries Legend written by Howard Chaykin. The novel published in 1930 ends with Danner killed by a lightning strike during an archaeology expedition. The Golden Amazon is a character who appeared in 28 different stories by John Russell Fearn. Technically there are two different Golden Amazons. The first four stories are about Violet Ray who crashes on Venus as a baby and she grows up as a superhuman (a little bit of Burroughs and pinch of Superman). Fearn then revamped the character in 1945 (sort of like the Golden Age and Silver Age Green Lanterns or the Flash or the Atom) so the Golden Amazon is now Violet Ray Brant who was the subject of a glandular experiement as a baby which gives her increased strength and intellegence. She creates an atomic problem and fakes her death at the end of the first story before fighting menaces to the Earth and then exploring the universe in later stories. This story is the latter version. Ghosts of War is set just after World War II and it makes sense why Danner and Brandt are paired together with their similar origins. Brandt hears of a Nazi experiment to recreate the process that created her and after a random encounter with Hugo Danner (who survived the lightning strike at the end of his book apparently) teams with him to find and destroy the lab. The pair are joined by one of Bullock's own creations Death Angel (who has appeared in a couple of other Moonstone Books) and battle a German supersoldier Stahlkrieger. The trio of heroes are successful and defeat the Nazi before destroying the lab. The story ends with the possibility that Danner and Brandt may team up again.

Saturday, January 2, 2021

Veritas;The Quest (2003)13 Episodes

  Recently, in one of those recommendation links -  you know “you like The Mummy you may like Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones" type of thing, Veritas The Quest came up. I had vague recollections of this show when it came out back in 2003,  I assume that it was 2004 that it came to Australia and it promptly went to the genre wasteland of 2am airings. I may have taped some episodes – I know I definitely taped episode 7 but I couldn’t tell you much more, but I had fond memories. So I went looking for the show – there’s no official DVD release and it doesn’t appear to be on any streaming services that I can access.  I thought I might be able to find a few clips on youtube but blow me down if the entire series is there. And it was really enjoyable. The story focuses on Nikko Zond, a high school student who has been in boarding school after the death of his mother 10 years ago.  He gets expelled from his 17th school and his father Solomon Zond takes him to be home schooled by graduate student Juliet Droil, while Solomon works as a freelance archaeologist for the Veritas Foundation. Solomon’s team consists of bodyguard Victor Siminou, research assistants Calvin Banks and Maggie Hayes.  As you can imagine Nikko and Juliet quickly join the team (although it’s unclear if Juliet was already part of the team who drew the short straw or hired as the tutor and got roped into the team). I have to say the cast really impressed me. Ryan Merriman as Nikko I’d seen him previously in The Pretender as young Jarrod and Jarrod’s clone.  Alex Carter as Solomon -  Carter’s been in a lot of stuff but he was a detective on CSI I hadn’t seen Cynthia Martells (Maggie) in anything else. Eric Balfour as Calvin had also been in Haven. Colbie Smothers as Juliet – I’d completely forgotten that she had been in this before How I met your Mother, Agent Maria Hill in the MCU and as Dex in Stumptown. And the big gun at the time Arnold Vosloo as Vincent – the Mummy himself and the second Darkman, In my research I also found that the series creators Patrick Massett and John Zinman had also worked on Lara Croft Tomb Raider as screen writers. Oh yeah this was a great series with some serious action adventure credentials. The show originally aired on ABC but was cancelled after four episodes – the entire season later aired on the Syfy Channel (which was the source of the you tube episodes) The show has a bit of Jonny Quest vibe as the Veritas team travel the world with a nice mythos being built around it – that’s one of the more frustrating things I felt the show was really just starting to hit its stride with some interesting hints about what might happen in the next season.  We discover that there is a rival group DORNA that are also seeking the same artefacts with the hint that 2012 was going to be significant as several artefacts hint that there will either be the end of the world or the dawn of a new age.  Episode 7 has the team finding an Incan mummy and Vincent says “Mummies, nothing but trouble” which I do remember from back in the day had they done more like that (A later episode Nikko makes a crack that there’s always a Mummy popping up as Vincent comes in the room. )  Perhaps more of that type of meta-humour and commentary would have helped early on. I loved this show and was disappointed to see it didn’t continue,  the team works well together, there’s a nice arc for the series trying to stop the end of the world, a mystery of what happened to Nikko’s mother.  The artefacts are interesting and varied.  The characters work well off each other, Calvin and Nikko have a nice sibling rivalry going on, which plays out nicely in episode 7 as we see the pair competing to impress the ladies but as soon as they are called into action work together as a well oiled team.  While Nikko could have been annoying, I found that they balanced his character out well and he never got to the point where I was wanting to yell “shut up Nikko” at the screen.  His relationship with his father plays out nicely, with their plans for father and son time are frequently interrupted by new adventures. Look it costs nothing to check out the series on youtube It’s an enjoyable action adventure romp.