Thursday, January 24, 2019

Forgotten Heroes: Enchanted Dagger

I'll admit that I was struggling to find a good Golden Age comic character for my "E" entry, which delayed my posts. Fox Feature's Eagle was my first choice but I could not find a good mini for conversion.

So instead, I'm stuck with the Enchanted Dagger. Enchanted Dagger made a few appearances in 1941 and has pretty much disappeared. A hero named for his weapon is not a bad thing, necessarily. There’s a great tradition there: Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Katana and many more. But Enchanted Dagger?  

According to the Public Domain Super Heroes fandom page, the Enchanted Dagger was created by comic legend George Tuska. The character’s first appearance was in Yankee Comics #1 (cover dated September 1941) and ran all four issues that title. Chesler was a small publisher, sometimes just a studio that packaged comics for bigger publishers , and its titles never ran for very long. Other than a handful of reprints, that was it for the Enchanted Dagger. 

Still, in four appearances, he managed to have three different costumes. In his origin story, he wore a red tunic and yellow tights. In the third issue, he wore a green body suit and domino mask not unlike the Riddler. In his last appearance, the suit’s color changed to red. 

The Enchanted Dagger miniature started out as a Nightwing Heroclix. The red costume was the easiest to produce. A little trimming of the gloves and boots  and turning his fighting stick into a dagger was all this conversion required. In the future, I’ll do a post on how I strip the paint on Heroclix. One word answer: acetone. 

The Enchanted Dagger certainly has a unique origin story. Roger Chalmer's father Harry once saved the life of an African chieftain. He promised to give Harry a magic dagger one day but Harry never returned. Years later, his son Roger did, and as luck would have it, he arrived in time to help the chieftain fight an enemy tribe. Roger was given the magic dagger, which can paralyze enemies, force them to tell the truth and cannot be used against its true owner. 

Enchanted Dagger in Pulp Alley: 

Enchanted Dagger

Paralyzer, Mesmerize, Quick Witted

League: As a superhero with a Terror ability, the Enchanted Dagger is worth five slots in a league. That leaves five more for possible sidekicks, followers or league perks. 

Enchanted Dagger at the Digital Comics Museum 

Monday, January 21, 2019

Real Life Pulp Characters: Nicholas Roerich

This man was a bearded Russian mystic involved with politics and various Russian intrigues. One might think I am talking about Rasputin.

Not so fast. He was also a painter, explorer and writer and was nominated several times for the Nobel Peace Prize in the 1930s.

Definitely not Rasputin, because he sounds like a good guy? Possibly, but he also once claimed to be a reincarnated Dalai Lama and supposedly tried to mount a hostile takeover of Tibet in 1923.

The early 20th century is filled with a number of individuals whose lives sound like something from pulps and adventure fiction. Nicholas Roerich is one such person. Born in 1874 in Russia, he grew up in an educated and artistic family. Like many people with an intellectual bent in those days, he absorbed the spiritualist movement and developed an interest in eastern philosophy.

One of the most intriguing elements of his biography was his ability to move through different countries and different regimes with surprising ease. He left Russia after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. And while personally hostile to that regime's brutality, he seems to have maintained cordial and useful contacts in the Soviet Union. He also counted prominent British, Indian and Americans as his friends, namely Vice President Henry Wallace.

A further connection Roerich connection to the pulps is his name gets dropped in Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness. The doomed narrator compared the strange city in the Antarctic to one of

Here is my depiction of Roerich with some Tibetan bodyguards. Roerich is from Bob Murch's Pulp Figures and the Tibetans are from Copplestone's Back of Beyond range. On my Pulp Alley page, I have some stats for putting him into a game.

Further Reading:

Red Shambala by Andrei Znamenski - an excellent history of the Soviet Union's attempts to continue the Great Game in Central Asia against the British in the twenties and thirties.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Forgotten Heroes: Doctor Frost

Two of my previous forgotten heroes, Airboy and Cat-Man, should hardly be called forgotten. Both have been revived in modern times, and their influence, though not significant, is still noticeable. The same cannot be said of Doctor Frost. First appearing in Prize Comics #7 (Sept 1940), his feature ran for 27 subsequent issues. Though never given a cover, his stories were fairly strong and the art, by Ben Thompson, was a notch or two above what was often found in the smaller publishers. He is, as far as I can tell, the first hero with ice powers. And his costume has many of the features of later characters - Captain Cold, Justice League's Ice and the LSH's Polar Boy. 

A scanned copy of the origin in issue #7 is not currently available, but it is recapped in later issues. The man who would become Doctor Frost was found as an infant, the only survivor of a shipwreck in the Arctic, by a Professor Carlson. His powers were possibly naturally acquired, as some stories allude to these abilities being found among some people of the north. Most of his stories were set at sea, a natural fit for his ice powers. This, along with his general appearance, reminds one of early Aquaman. However, Doctor Frost predates Aquaman by about a year.

Like most of the early golden age comic heroes, his enemies were mostly conventional baddies: gangsters, saboteurs and Axis agents. In one issue (Prize Comics #24), Doctor Frost and the book's other heroes (Black Owl, Yank and Doodle, Green Lama and General and Corporal) teamed up to fight a modern incarnation of Frankenstein. 

I thought of using an Aquaman 'clix for my starting point, but a nameless Heroclix villain (I forgot the name) with an ice effect on his arm seemed a better fit. Unfortunately, he was bald, but this was easily fixed. Doctor Frost's hair and shoulder bands were done in green putty. 

Doctor Frost can be found in Prize Comics at the Digital Comics Museum 
My Pulp Alley entry for Doctor Frost is now on the Pulp Alley page linked at the top of the blog