Thursday, May 28, 2015

Amalgam Comics (Amalgam Comics - Marvel Comics / DC Comics)



Amalgam Comics
Amalgam Comics (Marvel Comics / DC Comics)
1996 - 1997

Fans of both DC and Marvel Comics wished for a long time that the two companies would do some form of crossover story arc, and in 1996 that wish was finally fulfilled. During the mini series, Marvel Vs. DC and DC Vs. Marvel the two companies combined their efforts even further when they crossed some of their most famous characters together to create all new persona's. Rather than print their books under their own banners, DC and Marvel developed the all new brand, Amalgam Comics.

Each company developed their own stories and ideas, and featured them in six unique books all numbered as issue one - Not that there were ever any plans to move on to an issue two.

DC's books were;

Amazon - A cross between Wonder Woman and Storm

Assassins - A book featuring numerous combined characters. It's main protagonists were Catsai - A cross between Catwoman and Elektra, and Dare the Terminator - A cross between Deathstroke and Daredevil. Other notable characters included; The Big Question (Riddler / Kingpin), J. Jonah White (Perry White / J. Jonah Jameson), Jimmy Urich (Jimmy Olsen / Ben Urich), Terra-X (Terra / Terrax), Winterstick (Wintergreen / Stick) and Wired (Manhunter / Cable).

Doctor StrangeFate - A book featuring numerous combined characters. It's main protagonist was Doctor StrangeFate - An obvious cross between DC's Doctor Fate and Marvel's Doctor Strange. Other noteable characters included; Abominite (Hellgrammite / Abomination), Jade Nova (Green Lantern / Nova), Myx (Mr. Myxzptlk / Wong), White Witch (Zatanna / Scarlet Witch) and Skulk (Solomon Grundy / Hulk). The Doctor StrangeFate issue is notable as being one of the story arcs reprinted in the collected editions of the DC Vs. Marvel trade paperback due to it being a vital piece to the overall story.

JLX - This was a book which meshed the teams Justice League and X-Men together. As such, there are numerous "main" characters; Angelhawk (Hawkman / Angel), Apollo (Ray / Cyclops), Aqua-Mariner (Aquaman / Sub-Mariner), Canary (Black Canary / Mockingbird), Captain Marvel (DC's Captain Marvel / Marvel's Captain Marvel), Firebird (Fire / Phoenix), Goliath (Oliver Queen / Goliath), Hawkeye (Green Arrow / Hawkeye), Jocasta (Jocasta, Sentinels / Millie the Model), Mercury (Impulse / Quicksilver), Mister X (Martian Manhunter / Professor X), Professor Kang (Professor Zoom / Kang the Conqueror), Runaway (Gypsy / Rogue), Will Magnus (Will Magnus / Bolivar Trask) and Wraith (Obsidian / Gambit).

Legends of Dark Claw - It's probably the most popular book in the entire Amalgam series due to the combination of Batman and Wolverine into Darkclaw. Other notable characters include; Huntress (Huntress / Carol Danvers), Hyena (Joker and Harley Quinn / Sabretooth) and Sparrow (Robin / Jubilation "Jubilee" Lee).

Super-Soldier - It was a combination of both poster children for the American way of the DC and Marvel universes - Superman and Captain America. The roll still belonged to Clark Kent who took on the alternate persona of Super-Soldier. Other characters included; Green Skull (Lex Luthor / Red Skull) and Ultra-Metallo (Metallo / Ultron). Super-Soldier also made an appearance in the JLX book(s).

Marvel's books were;

Bruce Wayne: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. - It's Bruce Wayne meets Nick Fury to become Colonel Bruce Wayne - Okay, it wasn't the most exciting approach to an Amalgam series. Characters in the series included; Baron Zero (Mister Freeze / Baron von Strucker), Black Bat (Batgirl / Black Cat), Deathlok (Jason Todd / Deathlok), Madame Cat (Catwoman / Madame Hydra), Moonwing (Tim Drake / Moon Knight), Sgt. Rock (an Amalgam version of DC's Sgt. Rock) and Nuke (Bane / Nuke).

Bullets and Bracelets - The book featured The Punisher (Steve Trevor / The Punisher) and an Amalgam version of DC's Diana Prince, AKA Wonder Woman as the main protagonists. Other notable characters included; Big Titania (Big Barda / Titania), Bronze Panther (Bronze Tiger / Black Panther), Circle (Circle / Sersi), Granny Harkness (Granny Goodness / Agatha Harkness), Highfather Odin (Highfather / Odin), Scott Free (an Amalgam version of DC's Scott Free), Thanoseid (Darkseid / Thanos) and War Monarch (Monarch / War Machine).

Magneto and the Magnetic Men - This was a book which meshed a group of DC and Marvel characters into an all new team. It featured; Antimony (Platinum / Scarlet Witch), Bismuth (Tin and Snapper Carr / Toad and Rick Jones), Cobalt (Gold and Lucious Fox / Mastermind), Iron (Steel / Iron), Kokoro (Katana / Psylocke), Magneto (Will Magnus / Magneto) and Nickel (Mercury / Quicksilver).

Speed Demon - An obvious Amalgam of The Flash and Ghost Rider. There are actually numerous versions of Speed Demon portrayed in the story. The first features an Amalgam of Golden Age Flash and Phantom Rider. The second, and most predominant is a cross of The Flash and Ghost Rider, and the last is Kid Speed Demon which is a cross between Wally West and Danny Ketch. Other notable characters include; Arrowcaster (Speedy / Nightcaster), Blob (Chunk / Blob), Madman Jordan (Green Lantern / Madman), Merlin (Merlin / Merlyn), Miss Miracle (Mister Miracle / Crystal), Puck (Oberon / Puck), Scarecrow (an Amalgam of Scarecrow from both the DC and Marvel Universe), Siliconman (Plastic Man / Sandman), Etrigan the Demon (Etrigan the Demon / Zarathos), Two-Faced Goblin (Two-Face / Green Goblin) and Uatu the Guardian (Guardians of Oa / Uatu the Watcher).

Spider-Boy - This book features the obvious cross between Spider-Man and Superboy to create Spider-Boy. A fun aspect to the story was that it also featured a Spider Clone Amalgamation of Bizarro and Ben Riley. This was one of the two characters in the story to utilize Bizarro. Other characters included; Bizarnage (Bizzaro / Carnage), "Brooklyn" Barnes (Dan Turpin and Brooklyn / Bucky Barnes), Dr. Curt Connors (an Amalgam of Marvel's Dr. Curtis Connors), "Flash" Thompson (an Amalgam of Marvel's Flash Thompson), Guardian Angel (Guardian / Angel), Insect Queen (Insect Queen / Mary Jane Watson), King Lizard (King Shark / The Lizard), Captain Sam Makoa (an Amalgam of DC's Captain Sam Makoa) and Roxy Leech (an Amalgam of DC's Roxy Leech).

X-Patrol - This team featured numerous "main" characters which included; Beastling (Changeling / Beast), Dial H.U.S.K. (Dial H / Husk), Elastigirl (Elasti-Girl / Domino), Ferro Man (Ferro Lad / Colossus), Niles Cable (The Chief / Cable) and Shatterstarfire (Starfire / Shatterstar).

In 1997, the Amalgam universe was rekindled for a second wave of books - All once again numbered as issue one. Though some characters returned, the books were given different names. Once again each side delivered six different books.

DC's books were;

Bat-Thing - A cross between Man-Bat, Swamp Thing and Man-Thing.

Dark Claw returned in the book Dark Claw Adventures - A take liken to that of the highly popular Batman the Animated Series. Other characters included; Ra's-A-Pocalypse (Ra's Al Ghul / Apocalypse) and Ubuwong (Ubu / Wong). Last but not least, the assassin ninja-robot THX 1138 deserves an honorable mention. The name is an obvious nod to George Lucas.

Generation Hex - An old west based series featuring numerous characters such as; Aurora Trigger (Wayne Trigger / Cinnamon), Black Tom Savage (Wandal Savage / Black Tom Cassidy), Johnny Random (Johnny Thunder / Random), Jono Hex (Jnoah Hex / Chamber), M-Parasiteplate (Parasite / Emplate), Madame Banshee (Madame .44 / Banshee), Marshal "Bat" Trask (Bolivar Trask / Bat Lash), Nightgate (Gateway / Nighthawk), Northstar Trigger (Walter Trigger / Northstar), Pow Wow Boom Boom Smith (Pow Wow Smith / Boom Boom), Retribution (Penance / Firehair), Shaggynaut (Shaggy Man / Juggernaut), Skinhunter (Skin / Scalphunter), Thuderchick (Siryn / Hawk), Thunderhawk (Thunderbird / Tomohawk) and White Whip (Whip / White Queen).

JLX Unleashed - This story added new faces to the JLX team established the prior year. New characters included; Chaos (Spitfire / Havok), Fin Fang Flame (Brimstone / Fin Fang Foom), Iceberg (Ice / Iceman), Iriskani (Iris Allen / Mother Askani), Lord Maxwell Hodge (Maxwell Lord / Cameron Hodge), Mistress Maxima (Maxima / White Queen), Red Vision (Red Tornado / Vision) and Savage Shaw (Vandal Savage / Sebastian Shaw).

Lobo the Duck - Probably the most anticipated stories of the second wave of Amalgam books was Lobo the Duck. Fans expected a funny and violent experience, and were delivered both. The main character is an obvious cross between Howard the Duck and Lobo. Other characters included; Al Forbush (Al / Irving Forbush), Ambush the Lunatik (Ambush Bug / Lunatik), Bevarlene (Darlene / Beverly Switzler), Billie the Millie (Billy the Girl / Millie the Model), Daryl Rutabaga (Jonas Glim / Space Turnip), Doctor Bongface (Scarface / Dr. Bong), Gamorola (Shao-La / Gamora), Godthing (Gawd / Chair Thing), Gold Kidney Lady (Goldstar / Kidney Lady), Imposible Dawg (Dawg / Impossible Man) and Jonas Turnip utilizing Space Turnip again in conjunction with Jonas Glim.

Super-Soldier: Man of War - This book featured the return of Super-Soldier along side numerous new characters such as; American Belle (Liberty Belle / Miss America), Human Lantern (Golden Age Green Lantern / Android Human Torch), Major Zemo (Iron Major / Baron Zemo) and The Whiz (Jay Garrick, the Golden Age Flash / Whizzer).

Marvel's books were;

Challengers of the Fantastic - This take on the Fantastic Four included a large number of characters - Second in size only to Spider-Boy Team-Up, which we'll go into below. Notable characters included; Ace (Ace Morgan / Invisible Woman), Big Gorgon (Big Bear / Gorgon), Bronze Panther (Bronze Tiger / Black Panther), Diablo, the Volcano Man (Diablo / Volcano Man), Doctor Doomsday (Doomsday / Doctor Doom), Drabny the Fixer (Drabny / Fixer), Dream Crystal (Beautiful Dreamer / Crystal), Galctiac (Brainiac / Galactus), June Masters (June Robbins / Alicia Masters), Medusa Moonrider (Mark Moonrider / Medusa), Multi-Master (Multi-Man / Puppet Master), Prof (Prof Haley / Mister Fantastic), Red (Red Ryan / Human Torch), Red Ghost (Red Ghost/ Gorilla City), Rocky (Rocky Davis / Thing), Silver Racer (Black Racer / Silver Surfer), Triserinak (Triton / Karnak) Ultivac the Multi-Robot (Ultra the Multi-Alien / Machine Man and Galactus's Punisher Robot) and Vykin (Vykin the Black / Black Bolt). The book also featured characters developed for the book that were not based on cross overs; Comrade Grodd, Congo-Red, Moon Bo and The Radioactive Kra.

Exciting X-Patrol - This book featured the return of the X-Patrol from the 1996 book. It included new characters such as; Brother Brood (Brother Brood / Brood), Jericho (Jericho / X-Man) and Raveniya Dayspring (Raven / Aliya Dayspring).

Iron Lantern - This book was an obvious combination of Iron Man and Green Lantern. It also featured the alternate persona of Hal Stark (Hal Jordan / Tony Stark). Other notable characters included; Gardner (an Amalgam Guy Gardner from DC Comics), Great White (Shark / Ultimo), Green Guardsman (Green Lantern / Guardsman), Gyrich (an Amalgam Henry Peter Gyrich from Marvel Comics), Happy Kalmaku (Thomas Kalmau / Happy Hogan), H.E.C.T.O.R. (Hector Hammond / M.O.D.O.K.), Madame Sapphire (Star Sapphire / Madam Masque and Pepper Potts), Mandarinestro (Sinestro / Mandarin), Oa the Living Planet (Planet Oa / Ego the Living Planet), Rhomann Sur (Abin Sur / Rhomann Dey), Senator Harrington Ferris (Carl Ferris / Senator Harrington Byrd) and Stewart Rhodes (John Stewart / Jim Rhodes).

The Magnetic Men featuring Magneto - This book featured the return of Magneto and the Magnetic Men alongside new characters such as; Black Vulture (Black Condor / Vulture), Chemodam (Chemo / MODAM), Deathborg (Cyborg / Deathlok), Kultron (Kobra / Ultron), Quasimodox (Vril Dox / Quasimodo), Soniklaw (Sonar / Klaw) and Vance Cosmic (Cosmic Boy / Vance Astro).

Spider-Boy Team-Up - As we mentioned above, the cast of Spider-Boy Team-Up featured a ton of characters; Agamotto Empress (Emerald Empress / Eye of Agamotto), Bouncing Ball (Bouncing Boy / Speedball), Cannonfire (Wildfire / Cannonball), Chameleon (Chameleon Boy / Chameleon), Darkstar (Shadow Lass / Darkstar), Dream Date (Dream Girl / Desting), Fantastic Lad (Elastic Lad / Mister Fantastic), Invisible Girl (Invisible Kid / Invisible Woman), Lady Bug (Shrinking Violet / Wasp), Lectron (Lightning Lad / Electro), Living Colossus (Leviathon / Micro Lad and It! The Living Colossus), Manorb (Mano / Orb), Martinex 5 (Brainiac 5 / Martinex), Mass (Star Boy / Charlie-27), Myriad (Triplicate Girl / Multiple Man), Nucleus (Element Lad / Molecule Man), Paste-Eater Pete (Matter-Eater Lad / Paste Pot Pete), Phantomcat (Phantom Girl / Shadowcat), Phoenetix (Kinetix / Rachel Summers), Psu-Girl (Saturn Girl / Vulture), Shadowstar (Shadow Lass / Starhawk), Sparkler (Light Lass / Dazzler), Spartacus (Persuader / Gladiator), Spider-Boy 2099 (Mig-El Gand and Mon-El / Spider-Man 2099), Sun Lord (Sun Boy / Firelord), Tharlock (Tharlok / Deathlok), Timberwolf By Night (Timber Wolf / Werewolf by Night), Universe Boy (Ultra Boy / Captain Universe), Valinus (Validus / Terminus) and Xcel (XS / Quicksilver).

Thorion of the New Gods - This book was a combination of Marvel's Thor with DC's Orion as the main protagonist. The main antagonist was L'ok D'saad - A combination of Loki and Desaad.

A lot of these books were great reads - Others...Well, you work with what you've got. Let's just say some have good stories, others were just fan service.

Join us next time when we revert back to toys, and take a look at Donkey Kong!

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Richie Rich - The Poor Little Rich Boy (Harvey Comics)



Richie Rich - The Poor Little Rich Boy
Harvey Comics
1960 - 1991

Today we're featuring a guest writer - Jon from The Harvey Mercheum. For obvious reasons, Jon has a little more expertise when it comes to the subject of Richie Rich. As such, it seemed only natural - appropriate if you will - to let him take the helm.







Richie Rich made his first appearance in 1953, as a backup story in Little Dot # 1.  There is some controversy over who created the character.  Possibilities include the founder of Harvey Comics, Alfred Harvey, editor Sid Jacobson and artist Warren Kremer.  Richie continued to make appearances in the Little Dot and Little Lotta comics, but did not get his own title until 1960.  From there, his popularity continued to grow, and more titles were added.  In all, more than 50 Richie Rich titles were published, more than any other comic character before or since.  Publication was suspended from 1982 until 1986, and ceased altogether in 1994.  Ape Entertainment tried to update Richie Rich, and released new comic books from 2011 until 2012.












In addition to comic books and digests, Richie Rich appeared in two different animated cartoons.  The first was produced by Hanna-Barbera, and ran mixed with other cartoon characters from 1980 until 1984.  The second, 1996 Film Roman cartoon only lasted 13 episodes, but was truer to the original character designs.

Two live-action films were also produced.  The first, simply titled “Richie Rich”, was released in 1994.  It was followed by a direct-to-video film titled “Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish” in 1998.
The most recent incarnation of Richie Rich is a live-action television show produced by Netflix in 2015.  The character, backstory, and supporting cast have all been reworked for this show.

So what is the original character design?  Richie Rich is normally depicted as a blond white boy, between 8 and 10 years of age.  He normally wears white shoes, blue shorts, a collared white shirt, a red bow tie and a black jacket.  He is sometimes depicted in the comics wearing a heavier winter jacket over his shorts, or a swimsuit instead of this outfit if he is at a pool or the beach.  There are times when he wears a costume, such as a cowboy outfit, but his regular clothing was so common, it became somewhat of a joke in the comics.











Despite being the richest child in the world, Richie is very down-to-earth, and appreciates the simple things in life.  He likes to use his money to help others whenever possible.  He is not snobbish, and dislikes those he is forced to associate with that are.

Richie Rich stories started with a small group of family and friends.  Over the years, more friends, relatives, staff members and even enemies were added.  Richie also interacted with characters from other Harvey titles, including Casper the Friendly Ghost.  Richie believed his meeting with Casper were all a dream, despite each story ending with evidence to the contrary.









The stories were set in a variety of locations as well.  Many happened within the Rich Mansion, the Rich Estate, or the town in which the Estate was located (Richville).  When Richie leaves Richville, he seems to be somewhere within the United States.  The world is pretty much like our own, with some fictional place names thrown in.

Join us next time when we take a look at Amalgam!

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bone (Cartoon Books / Image Comics)



Bone
Cartoon Books / Image Comics
1991 - 2004

Bone is one of those unique comics that sadly many people just don't give it the time of day that it deserves. Sure, it has a lot of fans, but it's not necessarily "mainstream" in terms of the comic world. Bone just doesn't get the chance to compete with your Spider-Man's, Batman's and Spawn's.

Artist Jeff Smith actually created the character(s) around the age of five, incorporating it into his own self published series in 1991 under the company Cartoon Books. Smith continued to self publish until issue number twenty (with the exception of issue 13.5 which was a Wizard magazine premium).

Despite its simplistic character design, Bone is actually a highly regarded series for its great story arc and character development. The series has received numerous awards and recognition from some of the most famous in the world of comics and cartoons such as Will Eisner and Peter David.






Beginning with issue number 20 in 1995, Smith shifted publication duties to Image comics. Image in turn reprinted issues one through nineteen under their own company banner. It's arguable that this exposure is what really tipped the scales for the character in terms of popularity. Image was the latest and greatest thing coming up in the comic world, and fans were more than happy to purchase any books from them sight unseen.



Bone returned to Cartoon Books with issue number 27, and remained there until the series ended in 2004 with number 55.





The series of Bone has been collected numerous times over in trade paperback, and many fans agree that the simplest and cheapest way to read the entire series is via the one shot Bone The Complete Series. It's relatively reasonably priced between $29.99 and $39.99 (at least as of the time of this writing it is). This collection is presented in black and white - Such as the series was in each issue. There are some collected versions of the series that have been printed in color, and though many fans regard it as a wonderful transition from black and white to color, the purists seek the B&W versions.

Join us next time when we take a look at Richie Rich - The Poor Little Rich Boy!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Flaming Carrot Comics (Dark Horse Comics)



Flaming Carrot Comics
Dark Horse Comics
1984 - 2002

Flaming Carrot was a character created by Bob Burden which appeared in the 1979 Visions number one from Atlanta Fantasy Fair. Burden soon began publishing the book alongside Cerebus creator  Dave Sim under the company, Aardvark-Vanaheim. The series ran from 1984 to 1985 (issues 1 - 5), then switched publishing companies to Renegade Press (1985 to 1987 - issues 6 - 17) who continued the numbering from where the prior publisher had stopped.

Though the character had an avid group of fans, he really didn't blossom into popularity until the late 1980's when Dark Horse Comics picked up the series, and began publishing it from issue eighteen to thirty-one. This gave the books a lot more commercial exposure among comic readers.




The concept of Flaming Carrot is an interesting one. He's not actually a superhero. Instead, he's just an everyday average guy who on a bet decided to read 5,000 comics back to back. This caused him to suffer brain damage, and from thereafter appear only as the Flaming Carrot.


Though issue 31 was technically the last book in the series, Dark Horse published a one-shot entitled Flamnig Carrot & Reid Flemming, World's Toughest Milkman as issue number 32.


While the Flaming Carrot series was pretty solid when it was "on", a lot of times fans got frustrated with story lines that never got completed, and were abandoned. In addition, Burden promised numerous stories and concepts in various letter pages that never came to fruition - Leaving many fans often times feeling strung along (lied to if you will).

Join us next time when we take a look at Bone!

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