Saturday, August 1, 2020

Forgotten Heroes A to Z: Jane Martin

For some time, I've wanted to spotlight a female hero who was not a sidekick or spin-off of a male hero. I missed my chance to do the Black Cat (she's coming later, though) so the letter J gave me several options - there was Jane Drake, girl detective, and Jill Trent, the science sleuth. Joan Mason, though the girlfriend and sometimes sidekick of the Blue Beetle, was the star of her own backup feature. However, for sheer longevity as a golden age character, it was hard to beat Jane Martin. Jane Martin appeared in over 100 issues of Fiction House's Wings Comics as the star of her own feature, starting in September of 1940.

Like many, golden age female heroes not named Wonder Woman, publishers had a bit of trouble figuring out what to do with her. In her initial appearances, she was dressed as a superhero, but was really more of an adventuring war nurse. Later, she dropped the bright costume, and worked as a pilot and spy. After the war, she was a reporter for the Daily Star. 

For the Jane Martin figure, I wanted her in the early superhero costume - otherwise, any number of female pilot or resistance fighter figure could fit her. This is a combination of the DC Heroclix the Looker (body) and Powergirl (head). A little putty modified the pants and cape. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Forgotten Heroes A to Z: Ibis the Invincible

There was a time when magician heroes were a staple of the comic book genre. This probably owes itself to numerous factors such as occult detectives in the pulp magazine and the success of Mandrake the Magician in the newspaper comic strips. My own theory about the popularity of the magician character in the first half of the twentieth century fiction lies almost entirely with Harry Houdini. 

Ibis the Invincible, from Fawcett Comics, was created by Bob Kingett and first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940). Dovetailing with another early twentieth century fascination, Egyptology by way of the Tutankhamen discovery, Ibis was a prince of Egypt revived in the modern era. With his beloved, Taia, who was also from the ancient era, Ibis the Invincible fought evil wizards, common criminals and (of course) Nazis. DC acquired Ibis as part of the Fawcett acquisition, and while he has never become the player in the DC Universe that Captain Marvel has become, he has made a number of modern appearances and served as the inspiration for a rebooted character. 


Getting Ibis into miniature form was not a difficult enterprise. He generally appeared in a variety of modern (for the 40s) clothing with only a red turban to distinguish himself. Here, I took a Harvey Dent 'clix and added a head from Sargon the Sorcerer. Unfortunately, this miniature does address one of the problems with a great many Heroclix figures. While there is some really good sculpting and poses in the Heroclix line, the soft plastic obscures many of the facial details. On top of that, I use acetone to remove the thick paint from the figures and to free up some of the details. But leave it in the acetone just a few minutes too long, and it will dissolve the plastic of the figure itself. 

Below, Ibis with Taia, from a figure simply labelled "Witch." 

That wraps up my month in the Forgotten Heroes challenge, having completed the letters F through I in golden age comic characters. There may be a bit of a break until I get to J, which will hopefully be my first solo (non-sidekick) female hero in the alphabet of forgotten heroes. 

Thursday, June 25, 2020

A Study in Red and Yellow

Before moving on to the next character in the Forgotten Hero alphabet, here are a few Heroclix repaints. 

My original intention was just the golden age Human Torch. After finishing the Fiery Mask and the original Black Widow, I've been wanting to add to my collection of World War 2 era Marvel characters. The other figures got a trip to the front of the painting queue since they shared the same color scheme. 

I don't usually collect modern age comic characters, but it was fairly unlikely that this Iron Man body could be used in a golden age conversion project. 

The Shining Knight from the Justice League Unlimited set. Look for him to show up in a group post on the Seven Soldiers of Victory in the future. 

Captain Marvel, in the Alex Ross pose

And finally, the golden age Human Torch. I'm thinking of running an Invaders vs. Justice Society game in homage to the classic JLA vs. Avengers stories. 

Next time, the forgotten "I" hero - and his girlfriend. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Forgotten Heroes A to Z: The Hangman

Before the Punisher, there was the Hangman. Of course, before the both of them was Batman, and before Batman was the Shadow. I can keep going, but pulp and adventure fiction has a long tradition of heroes whose definition of justice doesn't always mean putting criminals behind bars.

The Hangman first appeared in Pep Comics #17 (July 1941), published by MLJ Comics, a forerunner of Archie Comics. The Hangman's story begins with the Comet. Chemist John Dickering gave himself super powers of flight and eye beams through a chemical he injected into his body. In Pep Comics #17, the Comet was gunned down by a criminal, a tragedy witnessed by his brother Bob. Vowing vengeance, Bob became the Hangman and tracked down the murderer. 

Unlike his brother Bob, the Hangman had no superpowers, but he was a skilled fighter and used a hangman's noose silhouette symbol to strike fear into his targets. He never seemed to outright kill criminals, but drove them to confess out of fear or accidentally die due to their panic. 

In some stories, the Hangman barely appears, showing up later in the story to deal justice to a hapless murderer. In some respects, the Hangman points the way to the pre-code crime books by EC. 


For the Hangman miniature, I started with a Red Guardian Heroclix, and added a cape and a rope belt. 

Though the heroic brothers never had a chance to work together, here they are side by side. The Comet was a much earlier project, an easy repaint of a Cyclops 'clix. 

The Hangman and Comet's golden age comics are in the public domain can be found at the Digital Comics Museum. Next time, a magician and his assistant. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Forgotten Heroes: The Green Lama

With appearances in pulps, comics and radio, as well as a series of novels in recent years, the Green Lama shouldn't really count as forgotten. Nonetheless, it's hard to argue that this triple-threat pulp hero has had the same impact and lasting appeal as the Shadow and Doc Savage. Like the Shadow, he was trained in mystic ways of the Orient. Again like the Shadow, he had a double secret identity - in addition to his real name of Jethro Dumont (Lamont Cranston?), he also worked under the identity of the Reverend Dr. Pali. Unlike the Shadow, the Green Lama was true to his Buddhist nature and generally preferred subtle and non-lethal approaches to crime fighting. 

The creator of the Green Lama, Kendall Foster Crossen, maintained ownership of the character and licensed him to comic and radio producers. At Prize Comics, the Green Lama appeared as a feature in Prize Comics #7-34 (December 1940 through September 1943). In these appearances, he was a mystically inclined crimefighter, whose feats were astounding but not superhuman. 

The Green Lama returned to comics in 1945 for an eight issue run by Spark Publications. In this run, he was more of a superhero than the Shadow ever was, displaying such powers as flight, super strength and conjuring abilities. 

For the Green Lama, I have two figures each based on his Prize Comics appearances and his later solo book. 

This is a rather ubiquitous 'clix figure, showing up as a cultist and the Darkseid minion Desaad. It was more of repaint than a conversion, but nonetheless, it's spot on for his early pulp and comic depictions. 

For his superhero period, I added a hood to a Spiderman villain and came up with this. A bit sinister for Jethro, but passable.

The Green Lama was briefly in a super-group, when the Prize Comics heroes teamed up to bring down Frankenstein in issue #24. 

Pictured below are Doctor Frost, Black Owl, Bulldog Denny, Yank (of Yank and Doodle) and the Green Lama. Apologies to the General, Corporal and Doodle for not 

All of the comics referenced above are in the public domain and available at the Digital Comics Museum. Please visit and support. Next time in my golden age alphabet, the "H" hero is from MLJ, and the "I" from Fawcett. 

Friday, June 12, 2020

Black Widow aka Claire Voyant

While working on the Fiery Mask for my forgotten Golden Age Heroes A to Z project, I took time for an extra figure from Marvel's The Twelve, the Black Widow. 

The tradition of updating or redoing golden age heroes did not begin or end with DC, though DC's silver age explosion of the Flash, Green Lantern and others is the most well known. Before Natasha Romanoff's Black Widow, Timely/Marvel had another Black Widow. 

First appearing in Mystic Comics #4 (August 1940), Claire Voyant was a psychic who predicted a man's death - for reasons even she does not understand. After he dies in a car accident, his distraught family kills Claire. Finding herself in Hell, Claire is given the power to kill with a touch and is sent back to Earth with the mission to send evil souls to hell - dark stuff for an eighty year old comic book. 

Despite being the first superpowered female character of the golden age, she made only a few more appearances in various Timely Comics before fading away. Her dark origins and powers could hardly compare to more inspiring characters as World War 2 loomed ahead.  Her 2008 relaunch in The Twelve left her in a position for adventures in the modern era. 


For a character with so few appearances, she had numerous costume variations, but I preferred the original.  I started with Tarot from the Hellions (Giant Size X-Men figure #21) and added a cape from the Prowler.  

Forgotten Heroes G, H and I are all completed and will be posted over the next couple of weeks. After that, more from the Twelve.


Saturday, June 6, 2020

Forgotten Heroes: Fiery Mask

After letting this blog languish for a while, I was inspired by Carrion Crowe's Forgotten Hero challenge to return to the world of golden age superheroes.

At his suggestion, I created a figure for the Fiery Mask from the Timely/Marvel stable of heroes.  First appearing in January of 1940 (Daring Mystery Comics #1), the Fiery Mask was a superhero with flame powers who fought a variety of weird villains (zombies, demons) before fading into obscurity.

The character was revived in J. Michael Straczynski's Watchman-esque 2008 miniseries The Twelve. The Fiery Mask, along with eleven other Timely heroes were brought into the modern era thanks to Nazi science. As the 40s heroes struggle to fit into the present, one of them harbors a secret that turns murderous. Definitely worth reading.

In the Heroclix line, a few of Marvel's golden age characters have been produced - mostly those associated with Captain America and the Invaders, but no Fiery Mask. Like many golden age heroes, there were various inconsistencies of costuming - red mask, yellow mask, sleeves, no sleeves, gun, mace. I decided to go with the depiction from the Twelve - it's a bit pulpier and the gun is irrelevant with fire powers. Starting with a Superman variation figure, I added putty for the riding pants and grabbed a mace from a fantasy weapons sprue.

Not a bad addition to the collection. Before moving onto G ("om-mani-padme-hum" is a clue), I'm throwing out a bonus figure from the Twelve in a couple of days.