Monday, December 31, 2012

Government Comics!

This time around... we're going way back in time with this Civil Defense "Eat Right to Work and Win" comic, and it features all kinds of King Features characters. Not entirely a comic, but comic strips do play a big role in it!

The Beatles Cartoon, Episode 9!

09-01Yes, it's two Beatles cartoon reviews this month! So, the first segment in this episode is "Little Child," and this one opens with the Fab Four at a Texas Indian Reservation (expect some stereotypes here). Ringo, for some reason, is pulling a donkey (which has a Beatle hair cut) along on a rope, which carries their instruments. They're approached by an Indian chief, who says "How!" and that leads into a whole Abbott and Costello-type bit, with the Beatles saying things like, "How what?" "How who?" "How why?" After a few minutes of this, the chief turns to the viewer and says, "Confusing, isn't it? Of course, I could clear it up by speaking perfect English, but they're tourists and I don't want to disappoint them." He then doffs his headdress to reveal a hat with "Guide" printed on it.

09-02John approaches the Indian and says (in broken English) that they are friends who come a long way to see their people, and the guide (in the same broken English) says he'll show them where they live. He brings them to a bunch of teepees, but Paul's excited about seeing a sign advertising Indian souveniers. John cautions them, saying Indians are excellent salesmen, and don't buy anything they don't want. They all rush to the teepee, and all come out laden with goods -- and then Paul takes the tent away! The chief, with a pile of cash, turns to us and says, "That's a lot of wampum in any language!"

09-03Later, their guide brings them to where some braves are practicing their archery, where the first brave hits the bullseye, the second splits that arrow, and the third splits the second arrow! Ringo asks the guide how they lost, which causes a reaction of surprise! Later, we see two Indian children: one, a girl, is trying to learn archery, but her arrows all fly far from the target; the other, a boy, teases her about it, saying girls can't be hunters and trappers, and tells her to play with her doll. She says, "Oh yeah? We'll see about that!" Back at the Beatles, their guide is showing how they trap game -- and one brave releases a buffalo from a stockade, which charges. The Beatles hide behind their guide. The buffalo runs straight to a rope trap, where it's caught and hung up. 

09-04Back at the Indian girl, she's trying to prove she's as good a trapper as anyone, and prepares her own rope trap when Paul and Paul come along and offer to help her... unaware that she's looped the rope around their own feet! She cuts her rope, and they end up hanging in the air, where they call for help! Ringo and George (and the donkey) come running, but Ringo and George are trapped, too! The girl goes off to find someone to show her accomplishment, and that's when they start performing "Little Child." The donkey and their guide (as well as the other Indians we see) enjoy the performance, and we get a lot of shots of the Beatles upside down.

09-0509-06Finally, the girl returns with the Indian boy, who sees her accomplishment, and says, "You've captured the Beatles!" The girl, apparently unaware that they were the Beatles, faints, and then John says not to shout their name so loud, or they'll attract visitors. Sure enough, a bunch of braves on horseback come charging their way, prompting John to pull out a bugle and blow a cavalry call, which causes the braves to stop (saying, "Oh, no! Don't they ever get tired of winning?") and reverse their charge. Later, having been released, the Beatles say goodbye to their new friends as they prepare to leave on a train, and Ringo looks over at a new totem pole and asks where they found silly-looking faces like that -- of course, the faces on the totem pole are those of the Beatles themselves!

09-07Next, it's singalong time, and John introduces it this time, telling Ringo the song is a real "jump tune," so Ringo shows up dressed as a paratrooper! John suggests Ringo takes a flying leap, and then he jumps off the stage... but then he rises up, as his parachute is on upside down!

The first singalong is "Long Tall Sally," and as the lyrics play, the Beatles dance on a stage. The lyric mishaps are really pretty minor... on one chorus, the screen shows the lyric "Having some fun tonight..." when Paul clearly doesn't seen the word "Having" (or even "Havin'," which is what he's actually singing when he does sing the word - this error happens a few times), and then later, "Oh baby -- yes, now baby" where Paul sang "Yeah" instead of "Yes." And when he does sing "Yeah," they spell it "Ya," and I don't know why.

Anyway, John comes out to introduce the next song, and of course there's the usual criticism of the kids who don't sing along. Ringo's told to decorate the stage so the folks will join in, and Ringo comes out as a WWI soldier with an enlistment poster, which is a gag they already did before.

09-10The second singalong song is "Twist and Shout," and it recycles some footage from the last episode, with the Beatles playing weird artsy guitars and Ringo plays stone carved drums from a museum! There's a pretty silly lyric mishap here... the screen shows the line, "You know you twist your little girl," which is ridiculous in and of itself! John's actually singing, "You know you're (a) twister little girl," or perhaps even "You know you twist-a little girl" (I've seen it rendered both ways in sheet music). And later in that verse, it shows "And let me know you're mine," when the actual lyric is, "And let me know that you're mine." We get some additional recycled footage from that previous episode with the girl artist, too. And at the end of the song, they must've figured John was singing "Well shake it -- shake it -- shake it -- baby now" two times, but the second time he was actually singing, "Well take it -- take it -- take it -- baby now" (no, I'm not showing that one, because I've already got two screen shots for this already). 

09-11The final segment is "I'll Be Back," and this one has the Beatles still in Texas, finishing up a concert where they're performing "Ticket to Ride" on stage for an appreciative crowd. On a stage next to them, a trio of bearded bald guys figure when they play, the kids will forget about the Beatles. They start to play their guitars (playing "Ticket to Ride," too, but having the music distorted), but the crowd responds by throwing eggs and other food at them.

09-12Meanwhile, Ringo is presented with a solid gold guitar with diamonds (because Ringo is the only Beatle without a guitar), which he starts to play, but it sounds like a harp instead of a guitar! The other band see this, and figure if they had the guitar, they'd be the hottest group in Texas! Next, it's autograph time, and the girls rush the stage -- and the bald group figures they'll get autographs, too -- but in the confusion, they steal the guitar! 


Paul's the first to notice it's missing. So, the Beatles get a stagecoach (with an antenna) to search for the stolen guitar, with Ringo driving it. The antenna is supposed to pick up the sound of the guitar, and it isn't long before it does. The rival group's playing it in their hideout, and it sounds great even when they play it! All they need now is a song for it. Outside, the Beatles see this, and Paul gets an idea!

09-14Shortly, the Beatles put Ringo in a minecar at the top of the hill, aimed at the hideout. They let him go, and it rushes down and into the hideout, crashing into the rival band, and Ringo rides out with the guitar, crashing through the other side.... and then, as "I'll Be Back" starts to play, his minecar goes up a small hill, pauses, and starts down again, back the way it came! 

So, the rival band tries to flee the runaway mine car, but Ringo crashes through them... and then goes up another hill, and back down at them again! Next, Ringo's minecar trashes into a rock, sending Ringo and guitar in the air, but the Beatles catch him on their stagecoach! However, they're pursued by the rival band on their own coach, and they throw rocks at the Fab Four! John, Paul and George take their guitars out and use them as bats to hit the rocks back, and all three rocks are on-target. However, this victory is short-lived, as the wheels come off the Beatles' coach, and their horse comes loose. Ringo takes the horse's place and pulls their coach like a rickshaw (I guess the axes roll well enough).

09-16However, Ringo's able to jump (with the stagecoach) over a crevice the the other band's horse balks at, and the rival band is thrown down the crevice, where they end up hung up on a branch sticking out of the cliffside. The leader of the band remarks, "You know, this music business sure is tough!"  Ringo agrees with him!

So, another fun episode, although there were a few things that kind of bugged me -- okay, I'll let the whole Indian stereotype thing go, because honestly, it's no worse than any other show from the 1960s, and probably even the 1970s... besides, the guide in the first episode lets us know this is all an act. Still, the two gags about the Indians not winning were in really poor taste! The last segment suffered only from not naming the rival trio -- could no one come up with a name for them? Okay, I'll name them -- the Dalton Trio. 

It's interesting that, once again, the episode's beginning and ending segments have the Beatles in the same location -- even if one of the singalong songs uses footage from the previous episode. Perhaps there'll be more of the same as we go along?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Dog of the Geek: Ms. Lion!

Ms._Lion_(Earth-8107)_0001Breed: Lhasa Apso

Original Appearances: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (NBC-TV, 1981-1983)

Other Appearances: Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends (Marvel Comics, One-shot)

Biography: Ms. Lion was the pet of Angelica Jones (aka Firestar), a college student at Empire State University. After Firestar, Iceman and Spider-Man worked together to defeat the Beetle, the trio decided to team up permanently, and moved in to May Parker's home. Ms. Lion subsequently became May's pet more than Angelica's. Ms. Lion is aware of the “Spider-Friends”' alter egos.

Powers: None

Group Affiliation: Spider-Friends (if you want to push it)

Miscellaneous: A modern version of Ms. Lion is a male Sheepdog owned by May Parker, without powers, but a founding member of the Pet Avengers... and there's yet another reason I'm glad I'm not reading any new comic books by Marvel!

Comic Reading Library: Kona, Monarch of Jungle Isle #6!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Indexible Hulk #43!

Tales to Astonish 086Issue: Tales to Astonish #86

Title: “The Birth... of the Hulk-Killer!”

Credits: Written by Stan Lee, penciled by John Buscema, inked by Mike Esposito (as Mickey Demeo), lettered by Art Simek.

Supporting Cast: General Ross, Major Talbot, Betty Ross, Rick Jones

Villain: Boomerang, Hulk-Killer Android

Hulk Intelligence: As noted before, not too bright and short-tempered.

Guest-Stars: None

Plot: As the citizens of New York see the Orion Missile getting ever closer, someone actually notices there's someone on it – and that someone is Bruce Banner, who designed the Orion Missile (and leaped onto it as the Hulk before changing). The course can't be changed from the ground (unless, I guess, you have a giant expando-matic robot hidden in the trunk of a convertible, like Gorki did), but it can be done manually, so Bruce pops open a convenient panel that doesn't need to be unlocked, unscrewed, or unbolted, and manual sets the direction-finder so it won't strike the city, but instead crash at sea. Bruce figures at least this will let him die as a man, but the stress causes his pulse to quicken, changing him into the Hulk, who survives the explosion, as well as the shots of the Air Force Jet that had been following the missile. Meanwhile, far away, the Leader's hidden lab has been discovered by the police, and within they find a powerful humanoid robot, designed to beat the Hulk. Within the hour, Ross, Talbot and Betty are brought there, and by nightfall, their top research expert has arrived, and is given the Leader's notes and ordered to make it operational, so it can destroy the Hulk! The research expert succeeds, and the Humanoid, dubbed the Hulk-Killer, starts walking out of the lab, not letting things like walls get in its way. Meanwhile, it's somehow taken this long for the Hulk to swim ashore, where Rick waits, and they hide in a warehouse. Elsewhere, at Boomerang's apartment, the villain is royally ticked off, as the Secret Empire has been smashed (courtesy of the Sub-Mariner), but at least he's learned his weaknesses, and improved his skills and his weapons, and he figures he's now the Hulk's equal, and will be the victor next they clash! Meanwhile, Talbot begins to realize they shouldn't have activated the Humanoid, as it's rampaging in search of the Hulk. But it hasn't found the Hulk, so it ends up battling soldiers instead! Coincidentally (or is it coincidence?), the battle between the Hulk-Killer and the Army ends up reaching the warehouse the Hulk is kiding in, and the Hulk smashes through the wall to engage the Humanoid! But the Humanoid doesn't seem to even feel the Hulk's first blow, and then it smashes the Hulk to the ground, and prepares to finish him off!

Invention Exchange: It's revealed in this issue that Bruce Banner designed the Orion Missile – was this mentioned before? When the heck did he have time to design this, and why was anyone letting him do this kind of work if he was still suspected of being a traitor? I also have to wonder why the Leader never got around to using his Hulk-Killer Humanoid... unless he'd already realized how uncontrollable it would be?

Reprinted In: Marvel Super-Heroes #41, The Incredible Hulk (Pocket Books, 1978), Essential Hulk #1.

Notes: Flexible Marvel Time is on the march here, my friends... Ross and company were in Florida for the test of the Orion Missile, which went off course during its seven minute flight, almost destroying New York, but then going back to the ocean... and somehow, an hour was enough time once it exploded for all the reports to be done, as well as fly Ross and company to the Leader's lab in... New York (when was it ever established the Leader was based out of there?), and then several hours after that, the research dude arrives, and then it's about midnight when he activates the Hulk-Killer... and it's after that time has passed that the Hulk finally swims ashore? I mean, sure the Orion Missile was fast, but it's been established that the Hulk can swim pretty fast when he wants to! A bunch of night-owls, eh?

Cover Redux!

First up this time, it's Amazing Spider-Man #79, and the reprint in Marvel Tales #60 -- and obviously, there's been a major change, replacing Peter Parker with his costumed alter ego (more motion lines are added, too). The Grand Comics Database credits Mike Esposito for making this change. And you know what? It's really a stupid change, in my opinion... but typical of the era. There's already this big Spidey-face blurb right there, plus the logo to tell you it's a Spider-Man book, so why make the change? Especially since J. Jonah Jameson wouldn't be reacting that way to seeing Spider-Man tossed out of a window (unless he was feeling threatened enough himself that he needed Spidey's help, but I don't think the Prowler was that huge a threat to him). Plus, this also puts this square into "This doesn't ever happen in the comic" mode!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Comic Book Ads!

If you thought some of the stuff in the last installment of this series was odd... check out this bunch!
From All True Crime #28, look at that portable typewriter they're selling -- what the heck? There is no way you can convince me that any one could have possibly been able to use that without it breaking... even in my slowest typing days, I would've been faster than this ever could have! The radio advertised below looks kind of neat, though, in a kitschy way.

Cliffhanger! The Vanishing Shadow, Chapter 9!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Toy Spotlight: Big Jim, Part 2!

Continuing the Big Jim stuff, here's the Karate outfit, which it seems to me just about every kid who got a Big Jim also received -- or maybe just the board came with all the Big Jim figures?

Magna-Slide Video Feature!

This time around, we have Thumper (from Bambi), Snow White, and Mickey Mouse!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Fleischer Popeyes: Can You Take It

This is the tenth cartoon in the Popeye series (including the Betty Boop pilot), and this one opens with Popeye walking down the street with Olive, singing his theme song, and Olive giggling. He's walked Olive to where he works, the Bruiser Club (which has a welcome mat, but the word "Welcome" is crossed off of it). He drops her off at the hospital entrance, and starts to walk away, but then he notices the sign: "Bruiser Boys Club. Can you take it? We dare you to join." Well, Popeye mutters about this under his breath for a few seconds, but you know he can't resist, right?

010-02So, in he walks, and the members present are battering each other with giant mallets, kicking each other's chins, and so forth, laughing about it all the time. However, a quick cut to the entrances to the Initiation Room and the Hospital Ward soon make you see that this is not for everyone, as two rough-looking orderlies take one applicant on a stretcher from the first door to the second, followed by another. Popeye's response? "Some fun, eh kid?" and he heads over to the Membership Committee door.

010-03Walking in, he tells Bluto, the club president, that he wants to join. Bluto laughs at the idea, as do his goons, and then asks Bluto if he can take it, and squeezes Popeye's hand. This causes the thumb to expand in response, but nothing Popeye can't shake off. Popeye then grabs Bluto's hand and squeezes, his hand becoming a vise, and causing Bluto to cry out in pain. Bluto doesn't seem that impressed, however. Then he offers Popeye an "El Ropo" cigar, and lights his own (Popeye uses his chin to strike his own match). Bluto sucks his cigar down to ash in a second, and blows the smoke at Popeye, and then Popeye sucks his entire cigar down to ash and blows the smoke out of his eye, causing Bluto to choke!

010-04He tells his boys to put Popeye through the works, and they blindfold him, and start kicking and punching him around, then throwing him through a door marked "1st 2nd 3rd Degre," where Popeye finds himself in a stone hallway (still blindfolded) where two giant rotary saws are spinning. Walking between them, Popeye laughs at the tickling he gets from the saws as the saws are wrecked on his near-invulnerable body. Walking onward, he's buffeted from above and below by mechanical devices, then falls into a hole that sends him down a spiral pipe (that twists Popeye similarly, of course).

010-05Landing, Popeye walks down another stone hallway, where a series of mechanical arms punch him as he walks, but this still doesn't stop him! Then, Popeye enters an elevator whose car is an iron maiden, which closes on him and brings him back to the initiation room.  Bluto pulls the iron maiden out, and rubbing his hands in glee, opens it up, to find that all the knives have been bent out of shape, and Popeye's none the worse for wear!

Bluto's quite mad about this, and tells Popeye (still blindfolded) that they're going to take his picture, but he sets Popeye up in front of a cannon, which is shot at Popeye! The cannon ball bounces off Popeye and back into the cannon (which is destroyed), and Popeye's blindfold comes off, and our hero complains about stomach pains. Bluto picks him up and punches him up to a metal "car" on pulleys, which starts rolling down a rope, and sends Popeye to the hospital ward, where he's dropped into a bed and Olive's there waiting for him. Bluto and the boys laugh.
Olive frets over Popeye, and Popeye moans he's so sick (while hearts burst around him, and he smokes the thermometer to ash). However, when he learns that he's not a member of the Bruiser Boys Club because he can't take it, this gets Popeye's dander up! He gets up out of bed, pulls out his spinach and eats it (we're close to the fanfare here, very close) and of course, this invigorates him, and he leaps back to Bluto and the boys!

010-09010-08Fortunately, they're all standing in a circle, so Popeye just has to sock the first one, and a chain reaction occurs, although the last one knocks Popeye down. Then, Popeye hits in the other direction, but the same thing happens. Then, Popeye hits the floor, sending them flying! Next, Bluto comes after Popeye with a club, but Popeye keeps ducking, and then grabbing the club and bonking Bluto with it. Popeye then proceeds to take all the remaining members on, one at a time, including one who comes after him in a suit of armor (which gets Transformation Punched into a cast iron stove), and then it's Bluto's turn again!

The fight gets into high gear now, as Popeye hits them through walls, and then even gets them in a sort of rope that he swings around like a cowboy doing rope tricks, and then cracks the whip, sending them all flying into beds in the hospital ward.

Then, Popeye goes to the president's desk, and says, "In the name of the Bruiser Boys Club, I call this meeting to order!" and slams the gavel onto the desk -- which not only smashes the desk, it brings the entire building down! Popeye sings, "I'm Popeye the sailor man!" and we iris out.

Now, THIS is what I call a Popeye cartoon! We get a chance to see Popeye's durability demonstrated, we see that he does have a sense of pride, and everyone's in character. Given how much I enjoyed it, I give this one my first ever rating of... FIVE CANS OF SPINACH! Arf arf!

Kirby Kovers!

First up this time around, it's Thor #150... wow, this is really something, isn't it? An apparently dead Thor on the ground, his spirit rising from his body... Hela standing there to claim him, Loki's shade in the background happy as can be... the stuff of legend, eh?