Obscure DC Characters: S

 

Marschall Saber and Henry Cannon

Marschall Saber and Henry Cannon had a passion for murder ... and each other. Clad in a green uniform, the red-haired Saber was an expert marksman, an assassin for a New York City mobster named Leibowitz. Cannon hid his Moe Howard haircut in a dark blue body suit, offset by a yellow robe, gloves and boots and was a blade master in the service of the Rinaldi Mob.

Early in 1984, the men decided a career move was in order and each murdered the other's boss. They did so on the orders of a woman within the District Attorney's office who vowed to consolidate Manhattan's gangs under her control. Saber had thrown down his rifle almost without a fight when he encountered the Vigilante while Cannon simply surrendered to the police. They did so knowing that D.A. Marcia King would "put in an application for both assassins with the Government Witness Relocation Program" and set them free.

Appalled that the duo was literally getting away with murder, the Vigilante raided their apartment and quickly found himself outmatched. Brought down by successive knife and bullet wounds, the Vigilante might well have been shot to death by Saber had it not been for the intervention of another concerned citizen — the Electrocutioner. Arriving on the scene, the police found three unconscious gunmen — the Vigilante and the electrocuted but still breathing Cannon and Saber (VIGILANTE #5, by Marv Wolfman, Keith Pollard and Romeo Tanghal.).

In a rather ludicrous scene, the couple escaped the hospital after Cannon threw a lightweight plastic knife at Captain Arthur Hall. Instead of falling to the ground as it would have in the real world, the knife slashed Hall's throat (#7). The assassins took their services to the West Coast. Itt was at their Malibu beach house that they accepted a contract to kill the Vigilante (#35).

By now, the mantle of the Vigilante had passed from Adrian Chase to Alan Welles to Dave Winston. Despite his unfamiliarity with the duo, Winston held his own and managed to get a shot off at Saber, wounding him seriously enough for Cannon to abandon the battle and flee. In the course of the conflict, the men had revealed their client's Long Island address and, with Saber recovered, they raced to the scene to salvage their reputation. In the end, Vigilante manuevered them into striking each other: Saber took a blade to the shoulder and Cannon was felled by a bullet in the abdomen (1986's VIGILANTE ANNUAL #2, by Paul Kupperberg, Ross Andru and Tony DeZuniga, with edits by Wolfman).

Cannon and Saber were slated to return in 1989's MANHUNTER #10, which would have introduced a gay supporting cast member named Vince Nuncioin into the series. As described by co-writer John Ostrander in AMAZING HEROES #145, "Mark Shaw was cellmates with him in prison. In prison, as on the streets, if you need something, he'll arrange it." According to AH #157, the episode had "already scared a couple of artists off" and, with MANHUNTER's cancellation in early 1990, the story's completion became a moot point.

Cannon and Saber's WHO'S WHO entry was in issue #26 of the original series in 1987.

Samson

Alter Ego: Samson, alias Mighty Youth, alias Merrio
Occupation: (as Mighty Youth and Samson) Hero, (as Merrio) Court jester
Known Relatives: Unnamed family members
Group Affiliation: None
Base of Operations: 10th century BC Greece (Earth-One)
First Appearance: Adventure Comics #257 (February 1959)
Height: ~6 ft. 4 in.
Weight: ~260 lbs.
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Black

History: The biblical Samson was born circa 1090 BC, to the Israeli tribe of Dan, in a region adjacent to the Philistine territory. Samson was a man of great strength, a Nazirite consecrated to God who, for religious reasons, had never cut his hair. In fact, he believed his strength derived from his devotion to God, and that if his hair were ever cut, his strength would leave him. He was one of the last Judges to lead Israel, a duty he performed for some 20 years.

Samson's downfall came when he fell in love with a woman named Delilah, from the Valley of Sorek. The rulers of the Philistines went to Delilah and offered her a small fortune in silver if she could learn the secret of their enemy's great strength. With this knowledge, they would overpower Samson and subdue him. Delilah's first three attempts at learning his secret were unsuccessful but, after nagging him day after day, claiming he would tell her if he truly loved her, Samson relented and confided in her. Delilah sent word to the rulers of the Philistines, who soon arrived with the silver they had promised her. Delilah then put Samson to sleep on her lap, and called a man to shave off the braids of Samson's hair. Samson awoke from his sleep, finding his enemies around him, but he quickly learned that his mighty strength had left him. The Philistines seized Samson, gouged out his eyes, and took him down to Gaza, where he was imprisoned.

Some time later, the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to their god Dagon, and to celebrate the capture of their enemy. They brought Samson out to the temple to entertain them, not mindful that his hair was beginning to grow back. The temple was crowded with many people, and all the rulers of the Philistines were there. Samson instructed the lad who held his hand to position him where he could feel the pillars that supported the temple, so that he might lean against them. Samson prayed to God to strengthen him just once more, so that he might get revenge on the Philistines. He then reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Samson pushed with all his strength, bringing the temple down upon himself and on all the people in it. Samson's family retrieved his body and brought him back home to be buried.

The Greek hero known as Samson was not the biblical hero described above. Evidence suggests however that he could be his grandson or grandnephew. It is very possible that, when the first Samson was captured, some of his family fled to Greece, where they settled. So what then is known of this hero named Samson who battled evil 3000 years ago?

Samson's first contact with the 20th century comes during his teen years. Jimmy Olsen is contacted by a man named Kasmir, who convinces Jimmy that he is a time policeman from the future. Kasmir tells Jimmy, who is an honorary member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, that the Legion have detailed him to assist Jimmy on a vital mission into the past. He brings Jimmy to the Legion time bubble, and offers to allow him to take the controls. Kasmir instructs Jimmy to take them about 3000 years into the past, where he will explain their mission. Once there, Kasmir draws a heat-blaster gun. He tells Jimmy he is really a criminal from the future, who escaped and stole the time bubble. The complex controls stumped him, but luckily the automatic controls were set for the late 20th century. Kasmir figured that Jimmy, being an honorary Legionnaire, would know how to operate the device. He fires the heat-blaster, but Jimmy dodges the beam, which hits the time bubble instead. This, in turn, sets fire to an adjacent pile of logs. A teen arrives, saying it took him all morning to cut that timber. Jimmy, who has spent time in this period before, understands the youth's language. He is amazed when the teen easily kayos Kasmir with one punch.

Jimmy asks the teen what his name is and why he is wearing a turban. The teen responds that it is his business, that a wise man had warned him to keep his real name secret or his enemies would destroy him and his parents. He introduces himself instead as Mighty Youth. Jimmy explains that he is from the future, and asks Mighty Youth's help in hiding the time bubble. The teen brings Jimmy and the time bubble to a secret room within the walls of the city. He then lends his stranded guest some clothes and gets him a job with a shepherd. After a hard day's work, Jimmy comes up with an idea to make more money, but ends up being arrested instead. Later, his new friend rips the bars out of the dungeon wall. Mighty Youth's turban is knocked off, revealing his long black hair underneath. Given the time period, the long hair, and the teen's strength, Jimmy concludes he must be Samson. Mighty Youth admits that Jimmy is correct, but tells him that a Seer had foretold that he would have a giant's strength only as long as he never cut his hair. Kasmir overhears this secret and devises a plan.

As Mighty Youth and Jimmy pass a small shop, the lovely Delilah comes out and stops them. Mighty Youth tells her he is in a hurry and cannot stay. Although Delilah admits she finds him very attractive, Mighty Youth says he has no time for romance. Jimmy, incorrectly believing this is the biblical Samson, reflects on how Delilah will someday cause Samson's downfall. Later, as they sleep, Kasmir attempts to cut off Samson's hair. Superman arrives just in time, having followed the time bubble's locator signal. Kasmir throws a vibro-grenade, whose vibrations begin to shake the place apart. Superman braces himself against the columns to protect his friends. However, at that very moment, the guards arrive to arrest Jimmy. Superman tells his friends to go, while he pushes down the supporting columns. The whole city wall topples, preventing the guards from following. Jimmy introduces Samson to Superman. Superman notes to himself that he has already met Samson as a grown man. Superman then flies Jimmy and Kasmir back to their proper eras.

After reaching adulthood, Samson abandons the Mighty Youth identity. He continues combating evil under his real name. In the years that follow, Samson meets and befriends Hercules, another hero of his own era. They eventually find themselves under the rule of King Zarl. Zarl is a greedy miser, who taxes his people into poverty so he can increase his royal fortune. Zarl forces Samson and Hercules into being the royal guards at his treasure cave, day and night. They are unable to appear elsewhere to aid others, except in disguise, hence they adopt secret identities. Samson becomes Merrio, a court jester, while Hercules becomes Tarkus, a stablehand. They begin to secretly distribute the King's fortune to the poor. To keep Zarl from entering the cave and finding the jewels missing, they make up a supernatural tale of the Avenger, who they claim has taken over the cave. They tell the King that even their great strength cannot defeat the powerful spirit. The King informs the heroes that he will keep their families as hostages until they think of a way to defeat the Avenger. If they fail, both Samson and Hercules will be executed.

Desperately, the duo consult their friend, the Seer, who peers into the future with his crystal-ball. They observe the exploits of Superboy, who they soon learn is invulnerable. Believing he has an elixir which could bestow invulnerability on them, the Seer casts a magic spell which transports the two heroes into the future. The spell also apparently gives them both the ability to speak modern English. 12-year-old Clark Kent attends a sideshow at the Smallville County Fair, starring Hercules and Samson. Clark soon learns that they are not actors, and later confronts them as Superboy. The two heroes try to learn the secret of the invulnerability elixir, but soon realize that no such potion exists. Their only hope is for Superboy to return to the past with them. The magic spell will soon wear off, so Samson and Hercules blackmail Superboy into coming with them, threatening to reveal his secret identity if he doesn't. They hurry to a predetermined hilltop, where the sunset draws them all back into the past. They then explain the situation to Superboy in more detail, who says he will try to think of some way to save them both from execution.

Samson and Hercules don their secret identities and head to the royal arena, where a big show is scheduled for King Zarl's entertainment. Superboy is forced to reveal himself when a stray war club almost strikes the kind Queen. Zarl believes that Superboy can defy the Avenger and tells him that, if he succeeds, it will save Hercules and Samson from execution. The two disguised heroes hurry back to the cave, so that they are there when the King arrives. When Superboy attempts to enter the cave, he is thrown out by the magic of the Avenger. Suspicious, the King insists on seeing the cave for himself, with the three strongmen as his bodyguards. Suddenly, the Avenger appears! Neither the heroes nor the King's soldiers can defeat the supernatural menace. The Avenger soon chases off the King, telling him the jewels are lost to him forever. Superboy then reveals to his allies that the Avenger is really Krypto, his Super-Dog, who he had summoned from the future. Superboy had supplied the Avenger's voice with his super-ventriloquism. Superboy and Krypto then fly back to their own time, leaving Samson and Hercules to free their families.

Some time later, Samson finds himself drawn one more time into the future. When Lana Lang breathes in the scent of a weird tropical plant, called the hate flower, she develops a deep hatred of Superboy. Using a magic mask from the supernatural section of the Smallville Museum, she summons various people from the past. The magic of the mask compels those summoned into doing whatever Lana commands. At one point, she calls upon Hercules, Samson, and Atlas. She commands them to destroy the Smallville Scientific Institute, then sees to it that the destruction is blamed on Superboy. After the deed is carried out, the three heroes are returned to their own eras. Eventually, Lana is cured by her father, Superboy, and Krypto.

Weapons and Powers: Samson possesses tremendous strength and stamina. Like his namesake, Samson loses his extraordinary power whenever his long hair is cut.

Comments: The Samson depicted in ACTION COMICS #279, an imaginary story, was seen battling the Philistines, and may well have been the biblical hero described above. The version shown in SUPERMAN'S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE #19 must have been a dream based on a number of discrepancies. Most glaring is the fact that the adventure took place in Rome, a thousand years after Samson's other exploits. Another is the method of time-travel, caused by the fumes of a strange hallucinogenic plant. Finally, Lois had the ability to understand and speak the native tongue. It is likely that she had learned earlier from Superman that Samson used the cover of Merrio as a secret identity, something she incorporated into her dream.

  • Samson (Earth-One, 10th century BC) : Adventure Comics #257 (Feb 1959), Superboy [first series] #110 (Jan 1964), Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #79 (Sep 1964)
  • Samson (Earth-One, Jimmy Olsen's dream) : Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #16 (Oct 1956)
  • Samson (Earth-One, criminal in disguise) : Superman [first series] #112 (Mar 1957)
  • Samson (Earth-One, Lois Lane's dream) : Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane #19 (Aug 1960)
  • Samson (Imaginary Tale of Earth-One) : Action Comics #279 (Aug 1961)
  • Samson (Earth-One, Lightning Man in disguise) : Superman [first series] #155 (Aug 1962)
  • Samson (Parallel Earth) : Action Comics #320 (Jan 1965)

Sandman II

In the 1970s Joe Simon and Jack Kirby — the legendary collaborative team who produced so many wonderfully imaginative Sandman stories in the 1940s — teamed up once more to create a NEW Sandman for the 1970s. This new Sandman was written in a very whimsical way. He was intended to actually be THE Sandman parents told their children about when they asked why there was "sand" in their eyes when they woke up. He was the eternal, immortal Sandman, and he protected children (although we only saw him actually protect TWO children, Jed and a little girl who was the daughter of a scientist) from hideous nightmare monsters.

The Sandman had two nightmare monsters as sometime-helpers/nuisances, called Brute and Glob (you can imagine what they looked like from the names). And actually, the two lead characters in Monsters, Inc. looked suspiciously a LOT like them... hmmmmm...

Anyway, the character lasted for six issues (although the first issue was originally intended to be a one-shot, stand-alone), and the final seventh issue — co-starring Santa Claus himself — was published first in CANCELLED COMICS CAVALCADE #2, and then for the general public in a Christmas issue of BEST OF DC DIGEST #22. The series was definitely intended for children.

The character languished in limbo from the mid-1970s on to about 1983, when Roy Thomas brought him back in WONDER WOMAN #300. In this issue, Thomas retconned the character (he did that kind of thing a lot, actually) to now be a human scientist who had originally worked at UCLA and was an expert on dreams. As he explains in his secret origin flashback to Wonder Woman, his real name was Dr. Garrett Sanford, and one day, when the President of the USA, no less, was in a coma that no doctors could get him out of, Dr. Sanford was sent for from Washington due to his expertise in dreams and nightmares. He was brought to a top-secret base where the President was being held, and was supplied with all this Kirby-like equipment which could actually propel him into the Dream Dimension itself. He was dressed in a specially-designed uniform and took the plunge. In the Dream Dimension he found the President's astral form being clutched by a huge nightmare monster, whom he fought, saving the Prez and bringing him back to consciousness. Unfortunately for Sanford, he was now stuck in the Dream Dimension, and he could only leave it for one hour with the use of his special whistle (don't ask). The government people sent in the rest of the equipment for Sanford, who took up residence in the Dream Dimension and began calling himself the Sandman.

This retroactive continuity leaves much to be desired, in my opinion, however, and doesn't address too many questions raised from a re-reading of the series.

Anyway, in WONDER WOMAN #300, Sanford is shown to be somewhat obsessed with Wonder Woman, watching her as she dreamed. As a nightmare monster came to attack her, he protected her, but to his dismay she reacted as any woman would react to a stalker, at least at first. The Sandman helped WW against the nightmare monster a few times that issue, but he never appeared in the series again. I guess he felt rebuffed.

He appeared shortly afterwards in JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA ANNUAL #1, where he assisted the JLA in defeating Dr. Destiny, who also had powers over dreams. The Sandman was made an honorary member of the JLA, but this detail has been almost completely forgotten by everyone, it seems, except me.

When this Sandman next appeared, it was sadly only in a flashback, where it was revealed that he had gone crazy and committed suicide!!! This was around INFINITY INC #49 or so, and was written by Roy Thomas once again (surprise, surprise).

Now, I've enjoyed most of what Roy Thomas has written, but I really hate his take on the 70s Sandman. I thought he took a character straight from legend and the imagination and reduced him to just another guy in tights with superpowers. There could have been SO much more done with the character if he had been kept as the "eternal, immortal Sandman" rather than been changed into the former Dr. Garrett Sanford. Anyway, what's done is done, and Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN has already proven the potential in an "eternal, immortal (Endless?) Sandman" character... but I thought I'd point out that he WASN'T the first to do so. Simon and Kirby did it first.

Anyway, back to INFINITY INC. One of the founders of Infinity Inc, the Silver Scarab (Hector Hall), had already been turned into a villain and killed off in an earlier storyline, but apparently Hector Hall's untarnished soul was still out there somewhere. Well, Brute and Glob (remember those two?) ended up going fishing one day and caught Hector Hall's soul. And since the LAST Sandman had been alive when he became the Sandman, causing him to be driven slowly insane because of it, it only made sense for the NEXT Sandman to be dead already. Hector Hall's soul was placed into Dr. Garrett Sanford's body, which was itself remolded somehow to look just like Hec's old body. Then he began stalking Hippolyta (Lyta) Trevor, alias Fury, his ex-girlfriend (sounds kinda... familiar, don't it?), who was pregnant with his baby. He was found out soon enough though, and he explained that he didn't want to show his face because he could only leave the Dream Dimension for an hour at a time and thus couldn't be a good husband for Lyta, letting her believe he was still dead but looking in on her and the unborn baby from time to time. Well, Lyta pooh-poohed this and said she'd be happy living in the Dream Dimension with him, since she wasn't bound by any "one hour rule".

Hector and Lyta got married in INFINITY INC #50 (after battling some fairy tale monsters, of course) and settled into newlywed bliss in the Dream Dimension.

The Hector Hall Sandman was next seen, for the last time, in Neil Gaiman's SANDMAN series, where it was shown that, even after two years or so, Lyta Trevor Hall was STILL pregnant and the baby wasn't coming out any time soon. Hector Hall was seen galavanting and palling around with Jed, the original Sandman's pal. Well, it was revealed that the whole Dream Dimension, the Dream Stream, and everything there, was all in Jed Walker's mind. In fact, it was also revealed that Brute and Glob had originally been servants of Morpheus, the true Sandman, and they created their own little "The Dreaming" in this boy's mind due to his special abilities. They got this bozo Sanford to stand in as their own made-up Sandman, and then after he committed suicide picked up a dead soul for the next one.

Well, Hector Hall as the Sandman picked up Morpheus, who Brute and Glob said was just another nightmare monster, and when he went to confront him like any red-blooded superhero would, Morpheus saw this "little ghost" and returned him to the dead, to Lyta's dismay. Morpheus also saw that Lyta was carrying a child who had been carried in the womb for a long time in the Dreaming. He was special, and later on he returned after Lyta gave birth to him in the real world and named him "Daniel".

Now, due to the machinations of Morpheus/Dream's brother-sister Desire, with the assistance of Loki and Puck, Daniel Hall appeared to be killed, and Lyta Hall appealed to the Furies to go after his killer. They couldn't do anything, however, until they realized that Dream had spilled his own family's blood by killing his son Orpheus. That his son had asked him to do this didn't matter, all that mattered was that the Furies avenged those who killed family blood. Thus, Lyta Hall, as Fury, was responsible for the Sandman's death, although it was really the Witches Three, alias the Furies, alias the Fates, who killed him.

Daniel Hall then became the new Dream (Sandman), inheriting all the memories of the former Dream.

Santa Claus

Believe it or not, this year's trio of appearances were the first that Mister Kringle has made in current DCU continuity. Here's where he appeared prior to that (and I haven't included all the appearances by guys in Santa Claus outfits):

SANTA CLAUS (Earth-Two):

  • Action Comics #105
  • Superman's Christmas Adventure

SANTA CLAUS (Earth-R):

  • All New Collectors' Edition #C-53
  • The Best of DC #4
  • Limited Collectors' Edition #C-33, C-42
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1) #1-12 (1950 to 1961); (2) C-50
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer Annual #1 (1962)

SANTA CLAUS (Earth-S):

  • Shazam! #11

SANTA CLAUS (Kriss Kringle; Earth-One):

  • The Best of DC #22
  • DC Comics Presents #67
  • DC Special Series #21
  • House of Mystery #191 (behind the scenes)
  • Limited Collectors' Edition #C-34

SANTA CLAUS (variants):

  • Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer #1
  • The Best of DC #58
  • DCU Holiday Bash II
  • FREEDOM FIGHTERS #7.
  • House of Mystery #257
  • LOBO PARAMILITARY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, retold in LOBO #0
  • JLA #60
  • SPECTRE v.3 #12
  • Time Warp #3

Sgt. Gorilla

Star Spangled War Stories [2nd series] #126
"You Can't Pin A Medal On A Gorilla"

Paraphrased from an article by Scott Shaw, a CBR staff writer

Marine Corporal Pinky Donovan and his pet gorilla Charlie entertain the U.S. troops fighting in World War II by performing in USO shows. The duo are split up when Pinky is called back to active service. They are unexpectedly reunited when Charlie saves Pinky during a beach assault against the Japanese forces. When the gorilla continues to aid Pinky and his men, their Commanding Officer becomes so irritated that he busts Pinky down to the rank of Private. However, when Charlie later plays a pivotal role in neutralizing the enemy, he is decorated with a mock medal and given the honorary title of "Sgt. Gorilla".

Sgt. Rock

Franklin John Rock was no stranger to death even before he joined the army. His father, Sgt. John Michael Rock, had been killed by a snipers bullet in France during World War One while his stepfather, John Anderson, perished during a mine cave-in. Even a surrogate father that Frank had come to admire while working at a Pittsburgh steel mill had met an untimely death.

Sgt. Rock's complex family tree comes by way of creator Robert Kanigher, who added new (and often conflicting) branches throughout the characters original 29 year run (1959s OUR ARMY AT WAR #81 to 1988s SGT. ROCK #422). Rock's father was variously described as having died in a mine cave-in (OAAW #231), in World War I (#275 and 419) or in a Pittsburgh steel mill (#347). Robin Snyder (in a letter mistakenly attributed in #353 to Mike Tiefenbacher)suggested that one of the deaths occurred to Rock's stepfather and his existence was confirmed in #400. As things currently stand, it was father John Rock who died in combat and stepfather John Anderson who perished in a cave-in. The third death, as theorized above, probably occurred to a father figure that Frank Rock worked with at the steel mill.

Of Rock's other siblings, Ann was confined to a mental institution (#400), Eddie died in a motorcycle accident (#231), Josh was killed in a plunge off the Golden Gate Bridge while training to be a paratrooper (#158), Larry was left a vegetable after his WWII injuries and was cared for by his sister Amy (#421). Bill was in the Marines (#141) and hopefully escaped the family curse. ("Saving Sgt. Rock", anyone?) Issue #347 had Rock mistakenly recall Josh's death as having occurred to Bill. (Rock's WHO'S WHO entry mentioned a fifth brother, Mickey (also deceased), and failed to note Amy, Ann, Bill and Josh.)

Further flashbacks would establish Rock as a graduate of Pennsylvanias Hillside High School, where he was a far better athlete than scholar. After John Andersons death, Frank tried to support the family as a prizefighter but soon took a more secure position at a Pittsburgh steel mill.

Rocks days at the steel mill had been established in the introductory OAAW #81 but his origin wasnt detailed in depth until 1963s SHOWCASE #45. This account had him gaining his Sergeants stripes after the 1944 D-Day invasion. The backstory would later be revised to establish that Frank had enlisted on December 8, 1941. Frank left behind a girlfriend named Mary Walsh, who sent him a Dear John letter in OAAW #175. Rocks only serious love interest during the war was French Resistance fighter Mademoiselle Marie, who crossed paths with Frank in (among others) OAAW #115, 140, 294, BRAVE & BOLD #52, DC SUPER-STARS #15, SGT. ROCK ANNUAL #2 and SGT. ROCK #412 and 421.

Rock routinely turned down offers to be promoted further, gaining the nickname of the General of Sergeants in OAAW #256. That issue, incidentally, launched a serial in which Frank saw action in the Pacific apart from Easy Company and ended up lost at sea and stranded on a desolate island (#257-260). Upon his return to the European Theater and the death of his replacement, Sgt. Decker, Rock took his proper place in Easy Company once more (#262).

In 1965, a member of the Rock family briefly staked out a claim on the Japanese end of World War Two, with Franks brother Lieutenant Larry Rock fighting on Bataan with the Marines. Kanigher and Irv Novicks Fighting Devil Dog survived a mere four issues in OUR FIGHTING FORCES (#95-98) before being bumped for the contemporary adventures of Captain Phil Hunter in Vietnam. After follow-up appearances in 1966s CAPT. STORM #13 and 1977s UNKNOWN SOLDIER #205-207 (a solo trilogy written by Steve Skeates), Larry was killed in 1982s SGT. ROCK ANNUAL #2. Kanigher later changed his mind and had Franks sibling return as an invalid in SGT. ROCK #421, the penultimate issue.

Although readers often joked that Sgt. Rock and Easy seemed to possess a super-human capacity for survival, Kanighers only overt concession to the booming popularity of super-heroes and super-villains was a Nazi officer with an iron hand. The Iron Major (Franz von?)debuted in OAAW #158 (1965), returning in #165, 251-253, BRAVE & BOLD #162, SGT. ROCK #342, 345, 359 and SGT. ROCK ANNUAL #2 & 4. After a final bow two issues before the end of the series (SR #420), the Iron Major returned as a ghost in the present-day WAR OF THE GODS #4 and HAWK AND DOVE ANNUAL #1.

Kanigher had established Franks post-war survival in OAAW #168, wherein he had Rock visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, and Bob Haney picked up on that fact in THE BRAVE & THE BOLD. In issue #84, hed had Rock and Easy cross paths with Bruce (Batman) Wayne during the war (in an episode obviously set on Earth-Two) and followed up with a present-day sequel in B&B #96. In that one, Bruce arrived at the United States Embassy in South America and was introduced to our Military Attache and Chief of Embassy Security ... Sergeant Rock, U.S. Army. Two subsequent present-day episodes found Rock tracking a Satanic figure that he believed was Adolf Hitler (B&B #108) and an Easy Company ghost that hed been ordered to execute at the Battle of the Bulge (B&B #117). In the bizarre B&B #124, Bob Haney and Jim Aparo actually guest-starred as Rock and Batman trailed a terrorist organization called the 1000.

In World War Two flashbacks, Rock crossed paths with Earth-Twos Batman once more (B&B #162) as well as Wonder Woman (WORLDS FINEST #248-249) and a time-displaced Superman (DC COMICS PRESENTS #10). BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #2 and WORLDS FINEST #300 placed Easy Company in the European nation of Markovia, also seen in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS #3-5. Rock was also tossed into cross-time affairs such as 1978s SHOWCASE #100 and 1992s ARMAGEDDON: INFERNO #2 and 4.

All of the super-hero crossovers were more than Kanigher could take. In the letter columns of 1978s SGT. ROCK #316 and 323 and 1980s SR #347 and 348, he announced that his hero had not lived past 1945, blunting most of Haneys BRAVE & BOLD episodes if nothing else. It is inevitable and wholly in character that neither Rock nor Easy survived the closing days of the war, he proclaimed.

Apprised of the fact that Bob Haney had written the first two Sgt. Rock stories in OAAW #81 and 82 (with art by Ross Andru & Mike Esposito and Mort Drucker, respectively), Kanigher retroactively declared the first episode that hed written (OAAW #83s Joe Kubert-illustrated The Rock and The Wall) as Rocks true debut. A number of fans have argued passionately on Kanighers behalf, accurately citing numerous Rock prototypes that appeared in the four years leading up to issue #83 and noting that the character in #81 is called Sgt. Rocky. In the end, though, popular opinion seems to have fallen in favor of the Kanigher-edited Rock of Easy as being the inaugural episode and it was OAAW #81 that was recently selected by DC as a Millennium Edition.

SGT. ROCK ended in mid-1988 with issue #422 (the ironically-titled Rehearsal For Death with Joe, Andy and Adam Kubert collaborating on the art and color) but was revived almost immediately as a reprint series for a 21-issue issue run from 1988-1991. A pair of brand-new SGT. ROCK SPECIALs were published in 1992 and 1994. Chuck Dixon followed up the latters Battle of the Bulge theme with a second Rock story set in that period as part of Christmas 1997s DCU HOLIDAY BASH II. Six months after SGT. ROCK #422, Rick Veitch had penned an unusual Sgt. Rock episode for SWAMP THING #82, set on May 1, 1945. It seemed that Frank had survived the war in Europe though whether he and Easy were shipped to the Pacific remains undocumented.

The modern successors to Easy Company had first appeared in BRAVE & BOLD #108 and 117 (the latter also checking in on some of the surviving WW2 vets) and returned during DCs 1988 Invasion! sequence with a role in FIRESTORM #80 and STARMAN (first series) #5. The legendary sergeants fate would not even be hinted at in the modern DC Universe — until General Rock reappeared in 2001s SUPERMAN #166.

The closest that Kanigher ever came to a last Easy story was in 1987s Sons of Easy, an Andy Kubert-illustrated two-parter in SGT. ROCK #417-418. In a prophetic dream, Frank found himself and Easy surviving both World War Two and the Korean War only to have their offspring perish in a veritable bloodbath in 1968-era Vietnam. Profoundly shaken, Frank confessed to Horace Bulldozer Canfield that the nightmare wasso bad — I can still taste it.

What could be worse than this war?

Maybe its not learnin a lesson from this killin, Bulldozer, I dont know. I dont remember. Maybe its just as well. Maybe there are some dreams were lucky not to remember. This is our war. The one were stuck with. The one weve gotta fight to a finish. Lets go — Easy!

Scarab I

Scarab was an evil magician that terrorized Egypt 3000 years ago. He was captured and imprisoned in a pyramid, where it was believed he would remain forever. In the late 20th century, archeologists moved the pyramid, enabling the magician to escape. The heroine known as Isis was able to trick Scarab in becoming trapped in the pyramid once again. This time his imprisonment would be permanent.

  • ISIS #1 (Oct-Nov 1976)

The Scarab II

Written by Richard Meyer

In October of 1941, Louis Sendak found the amulet known as Scarabeus that transformed him into Scarab. Scarabeus had been one of many things brought by his father from journeys he took behind a green door in their family home, a door which would only open for certain, unspecified reasons. The door was a pathway into the Labyrinth, a place that was also known as The Subtle Realms. As Scarab, Louis had the power of flight, was incredibly strong and somewhat invulnerable, and had many other mystical powers as well.

Scarab fought many criminals and eccentric super-villains, including Shabbez Jekk (the Overlord of Tharn who stole Manhattan's shadow) and the Loom of Despair (which wove the smoke of the ovens in Auschwitz into black weltschmerz). He also worked with several mystery-men and super-heroes of the time period, including Doctor Fate and Sargon the Sorcerer (with whom he faced off against Doktor Vortex and the Quote). He had also joined a team of second-tier "mystery men" in Chicago known as the Seven Shadows.

Scarab also assisted the Justice Society of America on at least one occasion during this time period. Johnny Sorrow had kidnapped Sandy the Golden Boy and murdered the Seven Shadows. Sorrow himself had been a small-time crook with big ideas until Sandy damaged the Subspace Prototype device that he had been wearing in a battle between Sorrow and the JSA. Sorrow was cast into the Subtle Realms, ruled by the King of Tears. The denizens fashioned a mask to contain his radically altered form and sent him back into the real world to help bring about the arrival of the King of Tears. Sorrow blamed Sandy for his transformation and for the death of his wife (she had accidentally seen his transformed face and died). Scarab and the JSA (Hawkman, Hawkgirl, the Flash, Green Lantern, Sandman, and the Spectre) arrived to thwart Sorrow's schemes. Sorrow escaped, but the Spectre captured the King of Tears, transforming him into actual tears that he asked the Justice Society to guard.

In 1944, after Louis had recovered from a debilitating event that had him unconscious for six months, the door opened and his wife Eleanor was pulled into the world behind it. Eleanor was trapped in the hallways and doorways for the next forty years, until a being known as the Sicari found the door and went through and attacked Eleanor. After a long retirement from being Scarab, Louis was forced to once again call upon the Scarabeus to save his wife's life, though she ended up being in a coma.

While contemplating what to do and how to help his wife, Louis encountered the Phantom Stranger, who reminded him that the scarab was the sacred animal form of Khepri, the rebirth deity seen as the dung beetle by the Egyptians. Khepri was the creative form of the god Ra, and was the god of resurrection and renewal. Once Louis accepted his own mortality and limitations, the Scarabeus renewed him, transforming him into a young man again. His powers as Scarab were increased as well, and included a sort of 360-degree vision.

Scarab next investigated the mysterious events in the town of Whitehaven, North Carolina. There was a mass suicide by all the men in town (except one injured man who hadn't been able to walk) and all the women were partaking in regular orgies with each other, and every female in town was pregnant by an unknown means. Scarab discovered that the "unknown means" was the demon known as the Rathorach, who had come to the town to spawn and die.

Louis next searched for Jeff Coogan, the son of an old friend who suddenly went missing. He was located, now being one of the deformed and tortured prisoners of Colouris, the Sacred Vivisector. Scarab defeated Colouris and his people, the Lillot, in the world known as the Secret Garden. He was not able to save Jeff, who sacrificed his life so that Scarab could stop Colouris.

Eleanor started to produce ethereal tendrils from her body that eventually took physical form as a gigantic chrysalis. As his concern for his wife and what to do about her grew, Louis threw himself into his work as Scarab, encountering Mr. Chigley and His Zoo of Shame, Ernest Breedlove (the world's sexiest man, who was raped to death by a deck of tarot cards), the Phantom Barber, and the Electric Fetus Machine. Louis was summoned to London after the Russians from the Institute of Brains tested the Scream Over Hiroshima over that city, causing untold physical and psychic destruction. Psychic Hilda Routledge told Louis that his wife was coming back, and explained much that was going on with the Scream and how it could seriously damage the veil between the astral and physical planes. After poltergeists injured Hilda, Scarab went into the schism directly into the heart of the Scream in Russia, where it was created by the young men known as the Gloryboys (q.v.). A renegade Russian general unleashed the Scream on the entire world before Scarab could stop him, and untold numbers of strange and unreal things began to happen all over the world on both the real and astral planes. This caused Bobby Dazzler and Benedict Creed of the Cosmic Coincidence Control Center to step in to stop prevent the Scream from destroying the world. Scarab, however, was not able to assist them, as he had discovered that his wife's chrysalis had opened and he went to be with the lifeform that emerged from it. The effects of the Scream eventually died out and Creed and Dazzler (who was killed by his exposure to possible futures that the Scream could've brought into being) were able to fix things and seemingly make nearly everyone forget what had happened by imprinting a new reality framework upon the world-mind.

Louis Sendak's final appearance was as a prisoner in his own home, at the hands of Johnny Sorrow. The villain was planning to exact his vengeance on Scarab, the JSA, and the world by using Sendak as a vessel to release the King of Tears. Sorrow injected Sendak with the tears that the Spectre had cried during their first encounter. Sendak was "overwritten" with the essence of the King of Tears, and according to Johnny Sorrow the old man ceased to exist. His body virtually exploded (as did the Labyrinth), releasing essence of the Subtle Realms into our own universe. Louis Sendak was presumably killed during the experience (no further mention was made of him in that particular story), even after the JSA had again managed to defeat the King of Tears.

Appearances:

  • Scarab #1-8
  • JSA #1-4, 16-17

Scarth

Scarth was a musclebound guy in a techno-tanktop with a spiked blond crewcut and an Aryan sense of superiority. "NOTHING can hurt me if I see it COMING," he boasted. "It's a reflex. It's a gift." Armed with an assortment of weapons, he was the chief enforcer for Necrodyne Industries, a sinister corporation run by the wizened Mr. Dunwich. Initially, Scarth's primary focus was the recapture of the immortal man named Incarnate (in Steven Grant and Vince Giarrano's MANHUNTER (1994 series) #3, 5) but Chase "Manhunter" Lawlor quickly became a secondary target. The first bout went to Lawlor when he knocked Scarth off a skyscraper. Climbing out of a deep crater, the bloodied Scarth vowed that the next time would be different (#4).

In issue #8, Scarth succeeded in capturing Manhunter by blasting him from behind. Lawlor escaped in short order, pulling his mask over Scarth's face so that he couldn't react to his blows. The final conflict devastated Necrodyne, with Dunwich himself slain by Incarnate. Lawlor used one of Scarth's own weapons (a flash gun) to blind the villain and then proceeded to beat him to a pulp. As he was carried off, Scarth was informed by the obsequious Mister Jaffey that "by the time you wake up again, I'll be RUNNING Necrodyne. And YOU we'll REBUILD, better than ever. I have a whole BUNCH of improvements in mind" (#9).

Secret Agent Woman

April 30, 1940: At 3 P.M. yesterday, an attack by a fanatical easterner on the President was attempted. G-Men have been called in.

The assassination attempt on Franklin Roosevelt had, in fact, been the third strike on a world leader in the span of little more than a month. Manhattan socialite Carter Hall was mulling on the events of the day while attending a concert when he suddenly found himself in the midst of the mystery.

A young blonde in the crowded hallway suddenly found herself attacked by a glassy-eyed man from the Middle East wielding a nasty-looking blade. Hall swung into action, decking the would-be assassin and, displaying his knowledge of antiquities, identifying the weapon as a khanjur. Impressed by her rescuers scholarship, the woman slipped a card into his pocket:

IONE CRAIG
PLAZA MANOR

A hand written invitation added: Why not call tonight?

After piquing Carters interest with the card, Ione insisted that he not get further mixed up in this terrible affair!Identifying herself as a federal agent, she revealed that she was headed for Araby to invesigate the revival of the 11th Century Sect of Assassins. Even now they plan a world-wide murder plot to kill those in authority in all countries and set up their own rulers.

Predictably, the young womans protests only encouraged Carter Hall to follow her, flying behind her ship from New York to Cairo. Head in hand, Ione seemed to dread her mission. I wish I had someone to turn to ...

On cue, the Hawkman landed on her hotel room balcony and introduced himself as her bodyguard. Ione immediately pulled out a map to Alamut, the so-called City of Assassins and asked the Hawk to confirm its location while she arranged for an air raid.

While Hawkman infiltrated Alamut, Ione was kidnapped by the Sect and brought to the city in chains. Raiding the meal hall, the Hawk snatched a scimitar and dived into the wave of assassins fighting, were told, with the power of ten men. Flinging the F.B.I. agent over his shoulder, Hawkman wrapped up the mission by bringing down the leader of the Sect with his slingshot. The deadly missile flys (sic) true and Hassan Ibn Sabah sinks to the floor ... dead.

Gardner Fox and Sheldon Moldoff picked up in FLASH COMICS #6 where theyd left off in #5. Observing that my wings are not working properly, Hawkman was forced to land with Ione in the middle of the desert. Without the F.B.I. agents additional weight, the Hawk briefly took to the sky again to determine their whereabouts. Predictably, Ione was gone when he returned, abducted this time by slavers.

A rescue attempt went awry and, with his wings unreliable, Hawkman was taken prisoner, too. A fellow captive identified himself as Major Brent, the only survivor of an army unit decimated by Sheba, the self-described Queen of the Desert.

Finally solving his flight problem (Ah. The adjustor fan needs a minor correction.), Hawkman escaped, roused the nearby army battalion and returned in time to rescue Brent and Ione from serving as the main course for lions in Shebas arena. With all of the Desert Queens forces watching the festivities, her army was caught off when the calvarys tanks rolled in. The woman whod vowed to free Araby from the hated white people found herself a prisoner of the men she despised.

With FLASH #7, Carters fiancee Shiera Sanders was back in her proper role as the strips female lead. Ione Craig never appeared again and, given the fact that she spent most of the two issues in chains and cheesecake shots, one might well assume that she was drummed out of the F.B.I. Or, to play devils advocate, rather than speculate on Ione Craigs lack of qualifications for the job, maybe we should be asking just how gullible Carter Hall really was.

Consider the facts. Carter met an agent of the F.B.I. who ...

... was assigned to seek out a cult but was unfamiliar with their weapon of choice.

... revealed her status as an operative to a stranger and provided him with details on her mission — while encouraging him not to get involved.

... didnt question either Hawkmans subsequent offer of help or his familiarity with the case.

... seemed incapable of defending herself against a succession of attackers.

Carter himself wondered, If they know Ione Craig is a secret agent, why send her to Araby? The assassins will only kill her. Rather than following through on the suspicious chain of events, he allowed his male defense mechanisms to kick in.

In the largely uncharted territory of the mystery-man, Carter and Shiera still had much to learn about keeping a secret. In the Hawkmans second case, Shiera had gone so far as to reveal his true name to terrorist Alexander the Great — and arrange a meal with the madman in the hope of negotiating a settlement! Alexander, who had threatened to crush the entire eastern seaboard, was captured by the Hawk and left for the authorities (FLASH COMICS #2). One can only imagine what he told them.

A month later, Carter himself revealed his secrets to a quintet of kidnapped scientists, including college pal Dick Blendon. The grateful men assured Hawkman that theyd keep the truth to themselves (FLASH COMICS #3). But did they?

Another point of curiosity was the unusual malfunction of Hawkmans wings while flying across the desert with Ione. Up to that point, the only man with the technology to ground the Hawk was Alexander, whod demonstrated the effects of his mass-enhancing ray in FLASH #2. Were the wings actually weakened by an out-of-synch fan, as Hawkman believed, or was Ione secretly disabling them with a device derived from Alexanders weapon so that the hero would discover Shebas army?

Its a matter of record that, by November of 1940, the F.B.I. had files on Hawkman and several of his contemporaries. Further, the agency regarded them as trustworthy enough to solicit their aid in spearheading an assault against Nazi Germany (DC SPECIAL #29). On November 26, J. Edgar Hoover himself requested that Hawkman and the newly-minted Justice Society of America track down Fritz Klaver and his ring of saboteurs (ALL-STAR COMICS #4).

In any event, the Silver Age Hawkman crossed paths with government agents himself in 1965 when he went up against C.A.W. in HAWKMAN #10. The C.I.A. agent known only as Blondie was everything that Ione Craig was not — observant, resourceful and more than capable of holding her own in a fight. And she should have been. When the case was over, she unmasked herself as Shayera Thal. Hawkgirl had tried to put one over on her husband but hed known it was her all along. Theres just no fooling those extraterrestrial police detectives.

The Separated Man

The Separated Man had been an alter-ego assumed by Professor Brian Holmes in Midville. the scientist had devised a method of transforming himself into a molecular giant that could separate and control (from a distance) its various body parts. Unfortunately, the process also turned him evil (or at least made him completely unable to control himself), and he went on a rampage through Midville until he was stopped and imprisoned. His son Tommy was elected "teen mayor for a day", which coincided with a reappearance of the Separated Man, as a giant hand began ripping the roofs off of houses. the townspeople believed that Tommy was behind it, to gain vengeance on the town for imprisoning his father. the boy pleaded his innocence, and called in the Teen Titans to help clear himself and stop the new menaces.

Kid Flash, Robin, Aqualad, and Wonder Girl arrived to help Tommy, who had also almost been stomped to death by the giant hand (along with his girlfriend Martha). As he finished detailing the history of the Separated Man to the Titans, two giant feet began treading toward the clubhouse, one of which had Tommy's father clinging to the ankle. Wonder Girl's magic lasso "tripped" the monster feet, which took off running away with Professor Holmes still clinging to the side of one. Tommy told them that since his father was in his human form on the foot, he couldn't actually be this Separated Man. the Titans and all the kids headed for Midville, where the giant hand was still causing a lot of damage. Robin, Wonder Girl, and the teens lassoed the hand and pulled it out of town with the combined force of all of their motor scooters.

As the hand was pulled out of town, a giant eyeball appeared over the town and started crying tears of flame. Holmes also showed up in town, much to the chagrin of the Mayor. Kid Flash used his super-speed to put out the fire and drive the eye away, and brought Holmes out to where the hand was tied down. Holmes explained that he hadn't unleashed the Separated Man, but rather his former cellmate, Jake Trask, had done so after watching Holmes work on his formula in prison (he was trying to devise one which did not have the criminal tendencies his original one did). He had also devised an anti-serum to transform the Separated Man back to normal. Unfortunately, Trask overheard their plans with a laughably giant ear hidden behind a rock outcropping. the teenagers turned on their transistor radios real loud and deafened the ear with the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand", which then fled the area. Wonder Girl flew after the ear, only to find the giant eye watching her. the mouth caught up to her and screamed with such a gale force that she was blown away. She managed to plug the mouth with a billboard and continued her search for the rest of the Separated Man. Kid Flash came upon the feet crushing a forest and tried to chase them, but got caught in a bog. Aqualad also could find no sign of the creature at sea. Holmes let Robin know that, in case anything happened to him, his old laboratory was in the abandoned lighthouse on the beach, a fact that was also overheard by the ear of the Separated Man. the ear fled, and Robin told everyone to meet him at the beach.

A complete Separated Man appeared at the beach, tossing boats at Tommy and Martha as they waited for the others, but soon gave up and waded out to the lighthouse. the teenagers surfed after him, propelled by a wall of water created by Aqualad and a bunch of whales. Wonder Girl lassoed the Separated Man's hand as he drew back to swat the kids who were ramming him with their surfboards, but found that even she could not halt the creature's progress. the Separated Man rose out of the water and onto a pier as Robin and Holmes arrived. Holmes told the Boy Wonder that he had given the creature a false tip, since the Laboratory wasn't really at the lighthouse. the pier collapsed, knocking Holmes out (though Aqualad and a manta ray managed to save everyone from any serious harm).

While the creature's attentions were focused on Wonder Girl, who was trying to tie its giant arms together, Robin dove in the water and rammed a giant needle directly into the Separated Man's heart. the serum forced Trask to revert back to normal. Holmes went peacefully back to his cell to finish out his term, and the authorities apprehended Trask.

Appearances:

  • The Brave and the Bold #60 (Jun-Jul 1965)

The Shadow

Written by <candiduscorvus>

I know a lot about this guy. For one, he paved the way for 'dark' heroes like Batman. Originally a pulp hero from the late 30's all the way through the 40's, DC did a comic series with Denny O'Neil as the editor and Mike Kaluta doing the art in the 70's. Then when the 80's came around (86 roughly until 89) a succession of other SHADOW comics by DC were published, done by Andy Helfer and Howard Chaykin. Then in the early 90's there was a series called THE SHADOW STRIKES!, done by Gerard Jones.

What I'm looking for are links between the Shadow and other DC heroes. In the 70's we had two BATMAN issues (#253 and #259) which featured the Shadow as a supporting character, and I've run across a note that in BATMAN #336 it was mentioned that the Shadow had 'retired'. The Avenger shows up in some of the 70's O'Neil/Kaluta SHADOW series, and I know Doc Savage (another name some people could kick around for quite a while) was featured in a few issues of THE SHADOW STRIKES!. Unfortunately, the Avenger and Doc Savage are also pulp heroes which DC decided to work into their comics for a few issues each.

I have run across some tantalizing and encouraging hints that the DC version of the Shadow found his training in Shamballa (anyone familiar with WARLORD comics should recognize the reference), but I haven't been able to actually get my mitts on any of the 80's series which make this claim. In fact, short of finding a lot of hints and clues, digging up any comic history of the Shadow regarding DC makes me feel much like the Shadow himself with all the detective work involved!

I would be most appreciative if anyone has any idea of what I'm talking about and would come forth with some more information. I'm in the process of obtaining some old SHADOW comics of the Chaykin series and Helfer series, but I'd like to be able to put together a big unifying picture of one of the key inspirations for the Batman.

Comments

The problem with finding any relevant links with the DC Universe, outside of the BATMAN issues, is that the Shadow isn't really a DC character - he's a Conde Nast Publications character. Other than Batman, I think the only interaction that the Shadow had was with The Avenger and Doc Savage, again both Conde Nast characters. You're sort of looking at the same situation as with the Archie/Impact heroes, in that the company that owns the heroes just licensed them to DC, apparently with the proviso that the characters not lose their particular uniqueness and join the DC Universe.

I've always kind of thought that the appearances of the Shadow in BATMAN were done just for their promotional value ... it was in DC's interest to get the Shadow back in the public eye so that his own comic would sell better. I doubt anyone really considered them canon, especially the second one with the changes that were made to Batman's history to accommodate the Shadow's appearance in the story.

As for the SHADOW series themselves, I'd stick with the original Kaluta/Redondo series myself. The Chaykin stuff was interesting for the first story arc, but it didn't interest me enough to keep reading (you can get the first storyline in the BLOOD AND JUDGMENT trade paperback). I only glanced at a few of the Helfer comics, so I can't really give much of an opinion on them other than to say they didn't interest me either. Helfer's a pretty good writer on most anything, though, so don't let my opinion on that prejudice you.

Shadowstryke

"A week ago I saw my family ripped to pieces in front of me. Only I survived. Now, whenever I use my powers, I can't forget they were brought by the death of my parents, my brothers and my sister. It makes me crazy sometimes."

The summer of 1993 saw a wave of terror pass over the United States as a group of alien parasites spread out on a campaign of death. A certain percentage of their victims survived the encounters, which activated their bodies' metagenes and unleashed strange new powers within them. For the young man speaking above, survival came at a terrible price.

The darkness in Shadowstryke's soul was mirrored in the power he received. He could now project jagged rays of shadow energy from his hands. Garbed in dark purple and gray, Shadowstryke hid his face behind a mask whose sunken eyes and nose and sewn-shut mouth suggested a skull. Seeking revenge against the parasites, he joined with other so-called "New Bloods" Krag and Slingshot and formed an alliance with Justice League America (JUSTICE LEAGUE AMERICA ANNUAL #7, by William Messner-Loebs and Greg LaRocque).

Eventually, nearly all of the New Bloods came together to crush the parasites' monstrous offspring. As Shadowstryke fired his shadow-bolts at the creature, the bursts united with the energy-blasts of Mongrel to create a truly formidable combination that sent the monster reeling (BLOODBATH #2). Shadowstryke has not been seen since that bloody summer.

Shahn-Zi

Shahn-Zi was a Chinese myth come to life as Gotham City's Chinatown was celebrating the Year of the Bat. the Lord of the Yellow River created a force field around the Chinatown area and revealed his plans to regenerate himself, using Mayor Bill Loo's son Danny as his receptacle. Shahn-Zi's power also attracted the attention of the visiting Jim Corrigan, and his alter-ego the Spectre. the Astral Avenger and the Batman battled Shahn-Zi, and the River Lord had nearly destroyed the Spectre when the Batman found and destroyed the source of his power, a model water wheel using water from the Yellow River of China.

Years later, Shahn-Zi appeared at yet another New Year's celebration in Chinatown, though this time Bill's son Danny was presiding over the festivities. This time, the combined strength of Batman and Jason Blood (also known as Etrigan the Demon) was barely able to stop the Lord of the Yellow River from taking over the city (and Etrigan needed to get special help from his master Merlin in order to defeat him).

Appearances:

  • The Brave and the Bold #75, 137

Shark Wilson

"Shark" Wilson was a man known for his distinctive features, among them his flat nose, upturned lip and lantern jaw that inspired his nickname. Then, too, there was "that long scar down his right cheek," only the most conspicuous evidence that a long life of crime had left on his body. Appropriately for a hood named Shark, he was brought to justice by Aquaman and sentenced to "an island prison fortress."

In mid-1954, Wilson decided that he'd had enough of the prison routine and made his escape, laughing at the ludicrous story that the guards told about the beach, where the sand was "believed to have magic powers that'll turn you into a fish." Wilson got a face full of the sand when he hit the ground, then rose unsteadily to his feet. "Must've been shaken up bad by that high jump."

By the time Aquaman arrived on the scene, Wilson had vanished. The Sea King was astonished to find a shark swimming offshore with the same facial features as the escaped convict. Aquaman had always scoffed at the legend of magic sands but the shark's uncanny display of human cunning concerned him. In rapid succession, the shark repelled several of Aquaman's sea allies. He manipulated two octopi into tying themselves in knots, bent the nose of a swordfish and even gathered other sharks to take on the hero.

Aquaman concluded "that shark has the brains to defeat any well-known fish ... so I'll bring up a couple of denizens of the deep never before seen by man or shark." A group of "monster boxing shrimp" beat off the renegade sharks while Aquaman sent a giant blowfish against the ringleader. "As the shark attacks, the blowfish inflates itself to three times its normal size. And at the same time, deadly poisoned spikes project out from its body. The spikes break off like arrows, sticking in the shark's body and poisoning it."

The mortally wounded shark thrashed about in agony and Aquaman prepared to "mercifully destroy it before it kills anyone." The desperate creature swam towards the beach, literally blinking out of sight before the Aquatic Avenger's eyes. On shore, a search party found the unconscious "Shark" Wilson even as a baffled guard insisted that he'd searched the location earlier and come up empty-handed (ADVENTURE COMICS #203, art by Ramona Fradon).

Aquaman never learned quite what had happened to "the shark with the human brain" but he was destined to face more Sharks in the future. "Shark" Norton, a virtual twin of Wilson, was later jailed by Aquaman and, when he made his escape in 1959, attempted to evade the Sea King by committing robberies on land (ADVENTURE #267).

Further in the future, Aquaman would meet the reversal on Wilson, a tiger shark who'd been transformed by radiation into a man. As Karshon, the Shark was responsible for stripping Aquaman of his Atlantean crown in 1976 (ADVENTURE #443-444, 446-448).

Still, the events of that 1954 day lingered in his mind. "What about it?", Aquaman asked the reader. "Was that shark I fought simply the shrewdest shark that ever lived? ... Or was it Shark Wilson, who returned to his normal self after the shark body died? What do YOU think?"

Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle wrote and published a total of 60 Holmes adventures between 1887 and 1927. The first novel was entitled "A Study In Scarlet".

Sherlock Holmes was born William Sherlock Scott Holmes on January 6th, 1854. He had at least one brother, Mycroft Holmes, who was seven years his senior. Some sources also suggest the existence of another brother, Sherrinford.

Holmes entered Christ Church College at Oxford in 1872, having spent the previous summer in a class taught by Professor James Moriarty, a man who would later return as his greatest nemesis. While attending the university, Holmes investigated and solved the first case of his career.

After leaving Oxford in 1877, Holmes settled in London on Montague Street and embarked on his career as a consulting detective.

In January 1881, the first meeting of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson occurred in the chemistry lab at St. Bartholomew's Hospital, where Holmes was conducting experiments. Both realized they were in need of a roommate and, soon afterward, Holmes and Watson moved into a London apartment at 221B Baker Street.

On May 4th, 1891, Sherlock Holmes was reported dead by his partner, Dr. Watson. An apparent battle to the death had ensued between Holmes and the infamous Professor Moriarty, that resulted in both men tumbling over a cliff at Reichenbach Falls, Switzerland, to a watery grave in the chasm below.

For the next three years, Watson was led to believe that his friend was dead. Only the detective's brother, Mycroft, knew that he was actually alive. During that period, Holmes traveled about as a Norwegian named John Sigerson. Holmes had used his disappearance as a cover to allow him to defeat three criminals who were intent on killing him.

Holmes returned to his London practice in 1894, continuing his investigations until 1903, when he retired to the Sussex Downs.

(Note: In "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", Sherlock Holmes was still believed dead when the League was formed in 1898.)

A run through on Sherlock Holmes in the DC Universe

Sherlock Holmes of Earth-One:

  • ACTION #283 (magically created Holmes duplicate)
  • SHERLOCK HOLMES #1
  • SUPERBOY #110
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #572
  • ECLIPSO #8
  • JOKER #6 (an actor named Clive Sigerson poses as Holmes)
  • WORLD'S FINEST #279 (Earth-S)

Sherlock Holmes of Earth-Four:

  • ALL NEW BAFFLING ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES #1-2

Sherlock Holmes of Earth-B:

  • DC SPECIAL SERIES #8

Sherlock Holmes of Earth-Quality:

  • HIT COMICS #29
  • KID ETERNITY #4,8,10

Sherlock Holmes of Earth-S:

  • CAPTAIN MARVEL, JR. #2
  • WORLD'S FINEST COMICS #279

Various Alternate Realities/Futures:

  • JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE ANNUAL #2
  • HELLBLAZER #23
  • KINGDOME COME #2

Sherlock Holmes Post-Crisis:

  • DETECTIVE COMICS #572
  • ECLIPSO #7-8

Sierra Smith

Sierra Smith, assisted by the lovely Nan, was a 1940s detective in the Western U.S. He appeared in DALE EVANS #1-19, 21-23 and DETECTIVE #206. James Robinson mentioned his detective prowess in the recent STARMAN #18.

Silken Spider

Talking of obscure characters, I'm suprised no-one's mentioned those loser villainesses from Poison Ivy's first appearance, y'know the Silken Spider and co.!

Silver Fog

Created by 46-year-old Harlan Ellison of Sherman Oaks, CA, the Silver Fog was one of the earliest villains to appear in Marv Wolfman and Carmine Infantino's 1980 "Dial 'H' For Hero" revival. Basically, Sam Toth was a scientist who tested a particle accelerator on himself and transformed himself into ... a silver fog. With great effort, he could regain solid form but he was quickly beginning to fade away. Toth turned to crime to find a cure, a development that brought him into contact with Chris King (as Captain Electron), whose energy powers unwittingly cured the grateful Toth (ADVENTURE COMICS #479).

Toth's assistant, Edward Arling, later used the same technology to become the second Silver Fog but quickly became disgusted with life as a super-villain when he found himself in competition with the Gentleman Ghost and I.Q. and opposed by the Teen Titans (NEW TEEN TITANS (second series) #40).

Arling's son, Nelson, adapted the concept for himself, creating a being of living fog that was manipulated by a control box. The third Silver Fog was defeated by Impulse (IMPULSE #51).

The Sino-Supermen

Not really characters. They were more of a type of character that debuted in Batman Family no. 19, sometime in the early-1980s and appeared only twice.

First the backstory: in the pre-Crisis DC, Commissioner Gordon had a grown son who became a spy in Red China. He managed to escape the Chinese and get back to the States but apparently, the Chinese were so vengeful that Gordon's son felt it was too dangerous to come out in the open and so he remained in hiding in the US, not even telling his father or his sister, Barbara Gordon, Batgirl, where he was.

Incidentally, Barbara Gordon was a congresswoman at the time, something that everyone seems to have forgotten. She used her government contacts to try and find out what happened to her brother and this eventually brought her into conflict with the Sino-Supermen.

The Sino-Supermen were super-powered agents, created by Beijing. As Batgirl is later told by an intelligence agent, the Chinese refuse to believe that Superman, the Flash and all the other superheroes were created by accident and believe that they were secret products of the US government. The US, for its part, encourages such thinking, perhaps because they want the Chinese to waste their resources trying to come out with their own superheroes.

The Chinese superbeings (who included women), were pretty much crude knock-offs of American heroes like Superman, Supergirl, Flash, Green Lantern and Batman, but with one glaring defect. Just a few seconds after they used their powers, these guys would BLOW UP. Despite this virtual death sentence, none of the Sino-Supermen ever displayed anything beyond a fanatical devotion to duty.

They never got much of a chance to show off any characterization at all. Their appearances would go like this: Imitation Superman knocks open a wall., glows ominously, then explodes. Imitation Green Lantern blasts a crowd of cops, glows ominously and then explodes. Most of these suicide superbeings never got any lines.

Eventually Batgirl finds out what happened to her brother. As for the Sino-Supermen, they are never heard of again. Their few appearances are likely no longer in continuity as Commissioner Gordon's grown son has been retconned away. Still if anyone needs some heavies for a story set in China, those low-cost labs can probably mass produce these guys by the thousands.

An odd fact I remember about the Sino-Supermen...that they felt that the U.S. had used their technology after their first encounter with Batgirl and created Firestorm (that, at the time, Firestorm was a new hero...and he showed up just after Batgirl encounted them for the first time...)

The Sino-Supermen appeared in:

  • BATMAN FAMILY #19 (August-September 1978)
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #481 (December 1978-January 1979)
  • DETECTIVE COMICS #482 (February-March 1979)

The Siren Sisterhood

(or the Heroes of the Microcosmos, take your pick.)

They appeared in a three-part JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA story, issues #213-216 circa 1983 that put the JLA in a sword-and-sorcery setting. Gerry Conway was the writer, Don Heck, the artist. The Sisterhood were not so much a super-group as a team of resistance fighters and only a small handful were ever identified.

The story starts with the Atom, Ray Palmer suffering a nervous breakdown because of some professional reverses. Jean, his wife, goes to his old friend Hawkman for help but Ray is too far gone. Cackling like a madman, he uses some sort of machine to send himself into some sub-atomic world. A group of less powerful JLA members (Batman, Black Canary, Green Arrow, Red Tornado and Hawkman) shrink themselves and go after him. But in the transition, they suffer some form of amnesia. They land in some medieval world, remembering that they have some common objective but not sure what it is.

They soon encounter a hooded woman who introduces herself as "the Wanderer" and who fills them in on the history of the world. The planet is ruled by the tyranny of Goltha, a baddie who usurped the throne and killed the rightful ruler. With an army of ogre-like creatures and his daughter, the Black Princess, Kass'andre, Goltha crushes all opposition and keeps the JLA on the run. It is later revealed that decades earlier, Goltha managed to seize power by enslaving a powerful giant that fell from the sky. Three guesses who the giant was. (It is later explained that there is some sort of time anomly between the sub-atomic world and the normal universe.)

Eventually, after falling into the hands of Kass'andre, both the JLA and the Wanderer are rescued by members of a female monastic/guerrilla group calling itself the Siren Sisterhood. The Wanderer reveals she is Krystal Kaa, the true heir to the throne and both the JLA (who slowly regain their memories) and the Sisterhood agree to help her fight Goltha and free the enslaved Atom.

However discord soon breaks out in the two camps. The ambitious Kass'andre decides not to wait to inherit the throne and begins plotting against her father. The JLA and Krystal Kaa disagree on how to handle the Atom. The Leaguers want to free him but Krystal Kaa believes he can be sacrificed in the fight to free her kingdom. All sides come together in one big battle in the palace courtyard. Kass'andre kills her father and declares herself the new ruler. The Atom is turned loose and the JLA and the Sisterhood fight over how to handle him. But before things deteriorate further, Green Arrow calls out Ray Palmer's name, snapping the Atom from his trance. Kass'andre tries to kill Krystal Kaa with a ray blast from a gem she has implanted in one of her eyes but it is reflected back and kills the Black Princess instead.

Krystal Kaa regains the throne, the League and the Sisterhood shake hands just before the JLA returns to the normal world for a tearful reunion between Ray and Jean.

The main members of the Sisterhood are:

Krystal Kaa: platinum-haired princess with an attitude. She had a magic staff with a power gem at the end that could be used for energy bursts. She also had a glove with a gem that emitted similar energy bursts. These weapons were passed down from her royal ancestors.

Sister Light: robed woman who could generate blinding light.

Twigg: plant-woman who could "stretch" her arms and legs. Had a measure of super-strength.

Mother Moon: a matronly woman with healing powers.

Mule: the sole male member of the sisterhood. He was a huge, bestial creature, covered with blue fur. He had great strength and savagery but was like a puppy to Sister Light.

No origin was given for most of the Sisterhood although it is implied that they were freaks of nature. (Oooooh! Mutants!) There were assorted robed women and armoured female fighters in the Sisterhood as well but the reader learns little about them.

The whole story was rather confusing and I got the impression that it was not well-thought out and that certain elements of the story were abruptly changed before publication. At one point in the story, Sister Light tells a group of soldiers, "you think I am helpless because I am unmarried?" WTF?!

The League look out of place in the story and the threats never seem very menacing. And the Sisterhood themselves are pretty forgettable despite Conway's attempts to make them strong, sympathetic characters. Even Don Heck's skill in drawing beautiful women seems to have waned in these stories as none of the Sisterhood look very striking. If anything, the story reminds one of the tepid sword and sorcery cartoons of Hanna-Barbara ('Galtar and the Golden Lance' anyone?) in the 1970s.

The whole story arc was badly timed. Just as it finished, the AMETHYST mini-series came out, also dealing with a princess from another world, trying to regain her throne using gem magic. And then there was the Atom who is shown being reunited with his loving wife in the JLA and who next pops up becoming estranged from his wife and heading out to his own sword and sorcery miniseries in "Sword of the Atom."

As far as I know, the Siren Sisterhood never appeared again. I can't say anyone missed them.

Sizematic Twins

Henchmen of Two-Face from TEEN TITANS (1st series) #47 (Apr 77). One of them could shrink, the other could grow. They worked with two other criminal twin couples called the Flamesplasher Twins and The Darklight Twins. One Sizematic later became a member of the Secret Society of Super-Villains.

On the second Tuesday in January of 1977, twin robberies were carried out on the United States' eastern seaboard. In New York City, the theft of a collection of rare stamps went off without a hitch. In Gotham, where duplicates of those stamps were on display at a local exhibition, an identical trio of thieves had to work a little harder. The Teen Titans — Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and newcomer The Joker's Daughter — were on the scene, drawn there by JD's unexplained "mental link with whomever planned the caper."

The villainous trios, each wearing thematically appropriate pointy tiaras, were:

  • The Flamesplashers, one twin had water-based powers and the other fire-based; the "flamer" sprayed fire from a nozzle attached to his left forearm. The mustachioed rogue wore a blue costume with orange gloves and boots, a red cape as well as a red-orange flame-like tiara/headpiece.

  • The Sizematics, one Size-a-Matic twin could grow, the other shrink; the "grower" was a rough and tumble muscleman in silver armor with a red and white bullseye on his chest. He could enlarge to roughly triple his normal height.

  • The Darklights, one Darklight twin had the power to emit blinding light, the other clouds of dense black vapor; the "darkie" girl had a blue costume, accented with white gloves, boots, cape and tiara.

The battle did not go well for the Titans. Robin was swatted into unconsciousness by the giant Sizematic, Kid Flash collapsed after exhausting himself trying to spin Flamesplasher's fire away from him and Wonder Girl and the Joker's Daughter unwittingly knocked one another out when they entered Darklight's field of blackness in search of the villainess.

A rematch proved just as embrarrassing, with a second batch of Titans heading into battle expecting one set of villains and getting another. Flamesplasher doused Speedy with a concussive blast of water fired from a nozzle on his RIGHT wrist, Sizematic shrank to Doll Man dimensions to evade Aqualad and Darklight exploded in a burst of white light that blinded Mal Duncan.

The collective Titans finally got their act together at the New York Historical Society, where each set of twins had been spotted. Having clogged the fire-wielding Flamesplasher's nozzle with a foam arrow, Speedy followed up by using an icicle-arrow to freeze the water-boy's spray to his twin's arm. The force building up in the watery Flamesplasher's jammed arm unit sent him into a virtual seizure that shook both him and his captive brother through a display window.

Meanwhile, Mal used a slingshot to throw the tiny Sizematic into the chin of his big brother and Kid Flash tricked the Darklight doubles into fighting themselves while Wonder Girl stood back and watched("They pulled this stunt on ME — so I'm returning the favor."). — TEEN TITANS #47(by the twin Bobs — Rozakis and Brown — and inker Tex Blaisdell)

Elsewhere, The Joker's Daughter and Robin had found the mastermind behind the crimes — or rather, he had found them. Two-Face — the alleged father of Duela (Joker's Daughter) Dent — had orchestrated the thefts of the antiquities and their doubles as part of a figurative coin flip that he intended to be the ultimate arbiter of whether he should be good or evil.

At 2:22 PM Eastern Standard Time, NYC and Gotham would be struck with nuclear missiles. "Half the loot is stashed in New York, the other half in Gotham. Thus — when my bombs blow up both cities, if more originals survive the blast, I'll become an honest citizen. If it's the phony duplicates, I'll devote my life to crime." No wonder Two-Face was in Arkham Asylum.

Suffice it to say, the pair of Titans escaped, each nuclear strike was averted by a team of teen heroes and Two-Face was captured (TT #48, by Rozakis, Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta). Left unexplained was the "mental link" between Two-Face and his "daughter." One might speculate that the Darklights were low-level psionics (Hinted by the first Darklight's comment that she could "cloud your minds — as well as your bodies") and that they were, perhaps inadvertantly, leaking details of the crimes to Duela Dent. Given the uncharacteristically amateurish performance of the Titans' founders, one might also argue that they were mentally inhibiting the heroes as well.

The twin bandits languished in prison until late in the spring of 1978 when each of the male sets returned. The Flamesplashers struck at the Gabriel's Horn discotheque, headquarters of the now-disbanded Teen Titans. Mal Duncan (as the Guardian) held his own until the fiery member of the twosome pointed his nozzle at the head of Mal's fiancee Karen Beecher. The watery Flamesplasher demanded that the Guardian help them commit a new series of robberies or forfeit Karen's life.

As the rogue escorted Mal outside, they came face-to-face with Jimmy Olsen and the Newsboy Legion, who'd hoped to find information on Jim Harper, the original Guardian. While the Newsboys tackled one of the twins outside — "Hey, Soggy! DRY UP!" — Jimmy surprised the other inside the disco and freed Karen (SUPERMAN FAMILY #191, by Tom DeFalco, Kurt Schaffenberger and Tex Blaisdell).

Elsewhere, the Sizematic Twins had been recruited by the Secret Society of Super-Villains as part of the Silver Ghost's plan to destroy the Freedom Fighters (SSOSV #15, by Rozakis, Mike Vosburg and Bob Smith). In the never-published SSOSV #16 and 17 (whose contents saw print only in an in-house set of xeroxes called CANCELLED COMIC CAVALCADE), the Freedom Fighters' forces were split and Uncle Sam and Doll Man faced Copperhead and Sizematic alone in Sun City, Florida.

Doll Man imagined that he could outwit the giant Sizematic by shrinking but he reckoned without the existence of the villain's tiny twin, who handed him a solid punch. In the end, the six-inch Freedom Fighter was no match for the duo. The entire Secret Society, writer Bob Rozakis assures us, was finally defeated by the FF before the heroes left Earth-One for their native Earth-X.

Skragg the Super Sniper

Arthur T. Sommar ("Ted" to his friends) had a wife, three kids, went to church in Larchmont, sat on the Board of Directors of four corporations and was always kind to children, the cleaning lady and small dogs. And was a homicidal maniac. He suddenly went off the edge and killed his wife Midge with his briefcase, and then just started walking, ending up in Manhattan, in the midst of a battle between the Freedom Fighters (who were invisible due to the effects of a device created by Doll Man that utilized the powers of the Ray and Phantom Lady) since they were on the lam from the authorities) and a gang of masked bank robbers on roller skates using sports equipment.

This scene was being observed by Kylor and Nimak, two "Boy Scouts" from the anti-matter universe of Qward. Wanting to help the "noble thieves," Nimak decided to give them a "straser" or strafing laser unit. An unearthly beam of energy shot down and struck Sommar, which began to melt and mutate him. His briefcase became a flying laser platform, and his skin turned green, which his hands disappeared, being replaced by laser barrels. He immediately fly upwards into the air and fired upon the heroes, knocking them all down with such force that Uncle Sam though the Human Bomb had done it.

Uncle Sam, The Human Bomb, and the Black Condor headed out to the source of the blast. They found the newly-created Skragg taking target practice, blasting the Rockefeller Center from 25 blocks away, and quickly discovered that he was able to see them as well. A brief battle ensued and Skragg was defeated and taken back to the Freedom Fighters' hideout. Skragg had returned to his normal personalitiy and was shocked to find he had no hands. Uncle Sam began reading him his rights, and he asked for his obligatory telephone call.

Unfortunately, the annoying voice of the telephone operator sent Skragg back into his homicidal mode, and in his new Skragg personality. He summoned his laser platform and flew off to the World Trade Center. Skragg attacked the Human Bomb with a new mode of attack, using a vibrating ray that stopped his heart (but he was able to counteract it with his own explosive energy). The Ray and Doll Man temporarily blinded Skragg while the Human Bomb touched the laser platform. The concussion sent Skragg off the side of the Tower and, not having any hands, was unable to grab onto anything. The Ray attempted to grab him, but his hand became immaterial for a moment, a side effect of the invisibility device.

They later discovered that the buildings that Skragg had attacked or destroyed all contained one of the corporations that Ted Sommar was a director of the board on. Uncle Sam figured that they hadn't seen the last of Skragg (though why, I don't know, since they had just seen him plunge to his death).

Appearances: Freedom Fighters #3

Sky Dogs

L.B. Kellogg and Tom Mandrake's Sky Dogs were led by Captain Geoffrey Hawke, Mullah Ka Kwaja and Ndemba, pirates who travelled aboard a flying ship called the Moonjammer and preyed on brigands who looted the innocent. The secret of the craft's flight came from the magician Mullah Ka Kwaja. Princess Zelaleddin launched the Sky Dogs on a quest for the Seven Jewels of Power, which were also sought by the infamous Captain Kidd. Waiting in the wings for one of the pirates to collect all seven gems was the evil sorcerer Melin (NEW TALENT SHOWCASE #1 and 2).

The Sky Pirate

Miles Lydecker was a scientific genius who graduated from Metropolis Poly-Technic at the age of 19. His specialty was hypersonics, and he devised a way to use hypersonic vibration to lift and move things. the U.S. Government wanted to use his research for weapon development, so Lydecker went underground with his research, working for "the cause" as a member of the Merry Men, a secret organization protesting the military-industrial complex. To prove what they could do, the Merry Men used one of Lydecker's devices to destroy an empty airplane, and later stage a series of daring airplane robberies, in which Lydecker jumped out of the plane with the money and no parachute, relying instead on his unique technology. the media began calling him the "Sky Pirate", which his associate Lawrence Carbo believed was good, since it gave the authorities a figure to latch onto so their other activities could be more effective. After awhile though, Carbo told him that he would have to leave the country to get the heat off the organization, so in 1970, Lydecker took a plane to Chile and continued his research in a village in the Andes.

Twenty years later, Lydecker had still believed his sacrifice was for "the cause", until he happened upon a magazine that had been used as packing material. It proclaimed Lawrence Carbo to be a wealthy yuppie who apparently had the Midas touch with his projects. Lydecker returned to the U.S. to get his vengeance on his former "friends", resuming his identity of the Sky Pirate, though this time adopting a costume as well, and a special vehicle and weapons to fit the persona. He used his hypersonic devices to break into Carbo's Philadelphia skyscraper and install a time-release destruct device that would destroy all of the data in his computer system unless he was paid a million dollars within twelve hours.

The Sky Pirate didn't know that, for some reason, the use of his hypersonic devices somehow affected the fledgling super-hero known as the Black Condor, who had a sensitivity to the vibration that caused him extreme pain. He tracked the erstwhile villain down to the skyscraper, where his questions about what was going on were ignored by the Sky Pirate. When he tried to get answers from him, the Sky Pirate shot him with one of his hypersonic discs and turned it on, forcing the Condor to fall from the sky. the Condor was able to make it to the river, where the water muffled the vibrations and he was able to remove the device. Meanwhile, Lydecker called Carbo to make arrangements for the payoff (not realizing that Carbo was planning to have him killed after he turned over the codes to the device on the computer) and returned to his hotel room. the Black Condor was inside waiting for him, but wasn't going to take him to the authorities, since he felt that what the Sky Pirate was doing was his own personal business. the Condor did however trail him to the meeting place, just in case things got out of hand.

Lydecker met his old friend Ariel on the roof, and Carbo burst onto the scene as well, with an assassin in a helicopter gunning for Lydecker. Carbo claimed that he was fighting the system on the inside, but still ordered his man to shoot when Lydecker scoffed at him. the assassin's shot went wild and struck Ariel. the Condor swooped in and disarmed the assassin and the pilot, while the Sky Pirate attacked and knocked out Carbo. the Condor found that Ariel was still alive, and flew her to a nearby hospital, but not before cautioning Lydecker on not doing anything to Carbo he would regret later.

The Sky Pirate tied Carbo to the top of the flagpole on Independence Hall, and Carbo's computers began transmitting information that left him in a world of trouble. the Sky Pirate himself disappeared completely.

Appearances:

  • Black Condor #2 (Jul 1992) - #3 (Aug 1992)

Slam Bradley

Written by Rich Meyer

Slam Bradley was one of the many comic book creations of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the men responsible for Superman. Superman had already been designed at the time they created Slam, but they were holding out to sell the character to a newspaper syndicate.

Slam debuted in the first issue of DETECTIVE COMICS, back in 1937. His first adventure introduced him, his partner, Shorty Morgan, and the general lean of his adventures: Fights, fights and more fights. Slam was a man of action...the splash page of his first adventure describes him as an "ace freelance sleuth, fighter and adventurer", and had him using a man as a club to hit another man! That first story had him fighting an "inscrutable Oriental" menace, obviously much influenced by the works of Sax Rohmer (in fact, a few years later DC Comics would serialize a Fu Manchu novel in the pages of Detective Comics). The "Oriental" villain was apparently very popular back in the late thirties, since two different stories in that pivotal first issue featured a Chinese mastermind as the bad guy. I'm sure they were all good fun back then, but the stories tend to have a racially offensive appearance nowadays, with many depictions being barely recognizable as human.

Times change and one must look at such things in terms of the era they were created in. Slam Bradley himself became much more of a dilettante in later issues, though he did still love a good brawl and had a hair-trigger temper. Slam and Shorty worked with the police, Federal investigators, fire departments and many other law enforcement officials and agencies. The pair had all sorts of adventures, from their initial foray into Chinatown, to tracking down a condemned murderer in Switzerland, to saving a small crippled boy from a building on fire from arson. Slam Bradley lasted in DETECTIVE COMICS until issue #152, giving him a rather respectable run for a non-costumed hero, even in the Golden Age.

Slam Bradley seemed destined for creative oblivion until 1981, when he was brought back into DETECTIVE COMICS for the anniversary 500th issue. His story in this issue, "The Too Many Cooks Caper" was a great homage to the many features and the hundreds of mystery stories that had appeared in the legendary title since 1937. Slam joined such deductive luminaries as Roy Raymond, TV Detective, Jason Bard, Christopher Chance (The Human Target), Pow-Wow Smith, Captain Mark Compass, and Mysto, Magician-Detective to solve the mystery of the apparent murder of their fellow detective Archie Evergreen. Slam was much more of a typical hard-boiled, Sam Spade-like detective in this issue, with a lot of native intelligence and his yen for violence (subdued though that may be because of his age).

The Slam Bradley feature in that special issue apparently got enough accolades so that the writers remembered him, and got Slam a major part in the next anniversary issue of DETECTIVE COMICS #572, which commemorated the comic's fifty year existence. This time, Slam joined forces with four of the DC Universe's greatest detectives: The Batman, Robin, The Elongated Man and Sherlock Holmes, to solve a mystery and a murder plot that spanned a century. Slam has to attempt to solve the murder of his partner Shorty at the same time. This has to be one of the best and most fun stories to have ever appeared in Detective Comics featuring a multitude of talented artists (including Alan Davis, Carmine Infantino and Nestor Redondo). Slam's characterization as a gumshoe was of a man being much more thoughtful, but still never swaying when the need to take action presented itself. "Mellower" is the term I can best use to describe Slam, and the young Robin (the late Jason Todd, Batman's second partner) was quite taken with Slam's style. Slam even stood down the Batman...a feat that few men would probably have the nerve to even try.

Recently …

Slam Bradley appeared in more backups in DETECTIVE COMICS, and in ACTION COMICS and SUPERMAN in the 90s. It may have been descendant; he was young, had inherited his father's resemblence to Superman, and was once mistaken for Clark Kent. Also, Slam an older relative, Biff Bradley from GUNS OF THE DRAGON.

Bradley's face resembled that of Superman (as did Seagle and Shuster creation Doctor Occult). He wore the same suits that every early comics plain-clothes hero wore.

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