Saturday, September 30, 2023

Dominic Fortune in “The Messiah in the Saddle Resolution” in Marvel Super Action #1 January 1976


Story and art by Howard Chaykin (reprinted Marvel Preview #20 Winter 1980)

Another black and white magazine and another early Punisher story as well as Bobbi Morse’s first superhero identity The Huntress (apparently before her second costumed adventure a certain Bat-daughter snaffled the codename so Bobbi then became Mockingbird)

We are treated to a Chaykin Pin up of Fortune, The Punisher and the Huntress.

This is a clever story, washed up silent movie star Noble Flagg has returned to Hollywood to save the city from sin.  Flagg, apparently, can call down the wrath of God as Earthquakes hit brothels, casinos and drug dens.  But Dom recognises his adviser from back East as Olga Cimaglia, who he ratted on to save his own neck, causing him to move to Los Angeles for his health.  We also discover that Dominic Fortune isn’t his real name but rather David Fortunov.

Turns out Flagg has an Earthquake machine and he is just eliminating the competition so Olga can take over the West Coast action.  There are double crosses and even after getting paid Fortune is still broke.

I love a good earthquake machine and this is a clever use of one.  And we get a little of Dom’s history here as well.

In Marvel Preview #20 we are promised a new story to appear soon.  So that will be my next story covered but before that there were new stories that appear in the Hulk! Magazine.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Dominic Fortune in “The Power Broker Resolution!” In Marvel Preview #2 June 1975


Script by Len Wein and art by Howard Chaykin (reprinted Marvel Preview #20 Winter 1980)

As I pointed out in my last post, this appears to have been published after The Scorpion #2 and before #3.  It’s a black and white 12 page story so I imagine that Chaykin was able to turn it out fairly quickly. 

Marvel Preview was a Black & White magazine.  This issue also features the first Punisher solo story and an interview with Don Pendleton.  I originally bought my copy for the Pendleton interview and discovered the other joys inside including a Chaykin pinup of The Punisher and Dominic Fortune.

This story was reprinted in issue #20 along with the second Fortune story and foreword and introductions by Chaykin talking about the creation of Dominic Fortune and these stories.  As Dom appears on the cover of that issue, I’ve used it here.

Chaykin tells us that he was annoyed by [now defunct company] pulling the switcheroo on him and that he visited the Marvel offices in the hopes of getting work.  Apparently, there was a bit of that going around at the time.  Chaykin basically ambushes Marv Wolfman and Len Wein and pitches something similar to The Scorpion (which was more in spirit of Doc Savage, The Shadow) but more in the lighter vein of The Spirit and Plastic Man.  Making for more a laid back West Coast hero that the East Coast serious hero.  See Dominic Fortune is nothing like The Scorpion aside from them both being heroes in the 1930s.  (Actually now I want a crossover between the two.)

Fortune is a gambler, who lives on a gambling ship “The Mississippi Queen” and is up to his eyeballs in debt to Sabbath Raven, his girlfriend and owner of the casino in question.

Dom takes jobs only to pay off his debts, in many ways Dominic Fortune feels like a 1930s version of Travis McGee who had debuted just over a decade earlier. 

The story opens with a potential client coming to see Dom.  She is the ex-wife of Jacob Einhorn, a multi-millionaire who owes his ex-wife $250000.  Einhorn is also the owner of publishing empire and extremely private, with his estate Skycliff guarded with landmines.

Our man Fortune has a plan and Raven flies him in on an autogyro.  Dom then leaps off with wing-kites and glides into the estate.  Of course, a wind gust nearly sends Dom to his doom but he survives only to discover that Einhorn is collaborating with the Japanese aiding them with intelligence and propaganda.  Dom realises that Einhorn wants to profit off a second World War a full three years before Pearl Harbour. 

There is a fight as the Japanese realise that there is an intruder who knows about Einhorn’s activities.  And Fortune has to pull out every trick in the book to come out alive.  While Einhorn is taken out by his allies, Fortune is able to retrieve the money owed to his client.

I have to say Chaykin’s art really sings in Black and White with the action flowing beautifully.  There’s a certain irony that Chaykin was kicked off of The Scorpion in an effort to make the character more like Marvel and Chaykin not only turns around and sells a version of the character to Marvel but also gets it into print before the Marvelised version.

This is a great adventure and I am looking forward to more.

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.