Walking On Thin Ice

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It’s another typical day for Patsy Walker, typical at least until she became a super-heroine and all sorts of nasty things occurred.

From Nellie The Nurse #14 (Timely, August 1948), here’s “Pop Rates His Skates.” The story and art are not credited.

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Steve Englehart, the guy who put Patsy into the Hellcat outfit waaaay back in the 1970s, once opined that a good deal of the character’s teen shenanigans are in continuity. If so, Hedy definitely remains Patsy’s top antagonist throughout the decades. The woman’s even more devious that Daimon Hellstrom!

Man’s Best Friend

Although The Curse Of Shazam isn’t a series I plan on purchasing, your humble host has tried to refrain from joining the chorus  - an admittedly small one, I must add – of outraged Captain Marvel fans decrying the wholesale reconstruction of a beloved Golden Age character.

After numerous failed attempts to revive a once-thriving creation that DC itself once put out of business, it seemed inevitable that the company would one day throw the baby out with the bathwater and rebuild the Big Red Cheese – errrrr, I mean “Shazam” – from scratch to better fit the needs of a modern comic book universe and its continuity-crazed fans.

To be frank, despite the noble attempts of such creators as Jerry Ordway and Jeff Smith, the classic Captain Marvel never really seemed to click with modern readers at any rate. I first discovered the Marvel Family during DC’s first revival in the ‘70s, and found myself far more captivated by the Golden Age reprints included in the comics than anything devised the creative teams of that period.

The gentle humor, quietly detailed characterization and old-fashioned thrills of the Fawcett era belong to an earlier age that seemingly can’t be recaptured by writers and artists – no matter how talented – in the 21st century.

So why not rename the character Shazam? The real Captain Marvel and family flew into the sunset back in 1953 anyway.

The following story is a nice example of how Golden Age Cap stories often dug a bit deeper than one would expect from a series featuring talking tigers and evil alien worms. I can’t imagine a tale like this playing to the far older and cynical audience comics are directed toward these days, but it remains affecting all the same.

From Captain Marvel Adventures # 38 (Fawcett, August 1944), here’s “The Man Nobody Loved” by writer Otto Binder and artist Pete Costanza.

*Sniff*

The Quiet One

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Key Publications was known for publishing horror titles that could “out EC” EC Comics, but the following story offers a bit more depth than the typical pre-Code gore fest.

That’s not to say that a tale entitled “I Killed Mary” approaches Hitchcock’s “Vertigo” as an exemplar of psychological horror. It’s just a bit … different.

This six-page twisted treat originally appeared in Weird Mysteries #8 (Key Publications, January 1954). The story was pencilled by Sal Trapani and inked by S. Finocchiaro.

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Yes, I know the anonymous writer of today’s story misspelled “squeamish.”

Just The Facts

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The story you’re about to read was ripped off from Dragnet. Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty, in this case the small, Golden Age publishing house known as “Sterling.”

(If that was, in fact, its real name …)

The art in the following hard-boiled drama was provided by Mike Sekowsky, who later left an indelible mark upon DC’s crazy Silver Age titles.

“Death Is The Payoff” – what a great title for a crime story – originally appeared in The Informer #2 (Sterling, June 1954).

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Cold As Ice

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Count on Blackhawk to find skimpily dressed femme fatales in the least likely of places, such as the frozen arctic!

The following story originally appeared in Blackhawk #37 (Quality Comics, February 1951). The story is uncredited, but the Grand Comics Database guesses the art was drawn by Bill Quackenbush.

As is the case with just about every Golden Age Blackhawk story featuring Chop Chop, the comic contains more than its share of offensive racist stereotypes. While it isn’t my intention to condone such ignorance, I don’t wish to censor a very real – if unpleasant – part of our cultural heritage.

I wish we were beyond such nonsense in the 21st century, but recent media coverage of Jeremy Lin unfortunately illustrates we haven’t advanced as a society as much as we’d like to believe.

With that in mind, here’s “Aurora, Queen Of The Arctic.”

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