Report what comic books you have read today--and tell us a little something about it while you're here!

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My main thought about Ditko was that he couldn't design costumes worth a damn.  I always wondered how much input he had into designing Spider-Man's costume. If it was all him, it was the only costume he ever designed that I ever liked much.

I read two books this week:

The Joker: 80 Years of the Clown Prince of Crime was better than I expected. DC has had a habit of dropping the text from their reprint books lately, which disappoints me greatly. I love context, especially of stuff I wasn't alive for. This book has a bunch of essays, each one leading into a Joker "era."

I don't necessarily agree with how they break down these eras, but that's half the fun of reading them. And I appreciate their effort to think Joker through and apply these frames to his long history.

This approach even made me appreciate the Silver/Bronze/modern stories, which I usually skip in books of this nature. I generally read just the pre-1961 stories, which I haven't read before, instead of the Silver-to-present ones, which I have. But this book re-framed those later stories, challenging me to argue their framing or accept a new insight that I had missed. That is my kinda fun, because I am weird.

I also read PS ArtBooks' Pre-Code Classics: Space Adventures, which collects issues #11-15 of the first series. Yes, Charlton had two series called Space Adventures, but arranged it so there was an unbroken numbering. That attention to detail is pretty unusual for Charlton. Maybe it was just luck.

The first series ran 22 issues 1952-56, then changed its name/format to War at Sea. Two years later Space Adventures returned, with issue #23, which seemed like a continuation of the first series, but was actually picking up the numbering and second-class mailing permit of Nyoka the Jungle Girl. (The original numbering, and second-class mailing permit, having continued with War at Sea.) 

The second Space Adventures ran until issue #59 in 1964, and I do hope PS ArtBooks continues with the series. It's not great SF, but it's got some decent journeymen working on it, especially in the writing department, and despite the archaic conventions and bad science (rocket ships, life on every planet, aliens that speak English, etc.), there is a certain charm.

And yes, two issues had stories featuring Blue Beetle and his girlfriend Joan Mason. Jeff of Earth-J warned me about these four stories, saying I shouldn't get my hopes up. I didn't, but I was disappointed anyway -- because they were reprints from the Fox series, which I have already read.

But the timing is interesting, because the Space Adventures Beetle came out in Nov/Dec 1954 and Janueary 1955, and then the character jumped to his own title later, beginning in February 1955. Most of what was in Blue Beetle #18-21 (all in 1955, the numbering picked up from The Thing) was reprint also, but a new story popped up here and there, where Dick Giordano may have been involved. So I must regard his appearances in Space Adventures to be a try-out.

Later issues of Space Adventures starred other features, notably "Rocky Jones, Space Ranger," which apparently was a TV show in the '50s.

The Beetle didn't reappear until a five issue series in 1964-65 (with new numbering), and his surname changed to Garrett (with two Ts). He also changed vocations, from cop to archaeologist. Garrett got five more issues in 1965-66, Blue Beetle #50-54, with the numbering picked up from Unusual Tales. (I can't tell you how confusing Charlton numbering was to the Li'l Capn.) Garrett's next appearance was his last, in the first installment of Ditko's "Blue Beetle" strip in the back of Captain Atom, a strip which launched into its own title in 1967. That was the fourth Charlton book named Blue Beetle, and it ran exactly five issues like the first three.

So I wasn't thrilled by re-reading reprints I'd already read. But I was thrilled to see Blue Beetle at all. When I read public domain comics on the various online sites, many times the issues are incomplete because characters still under copyright somewhere are excised. So to see Blue Beetle NOT excised makes me hope for the rest of his 1950s and early 1960s adventures reprinted by PS ArtBooks.

By the same token, this gives me hope of seeing 1950s/early 1960s adventures of Captain Atom, Judomaster, the Fightin' Five, Son of Vulcan, Sarge Steel/Secret Agent, Thunderbolt, Peacemaker and more. DC Comics is never going to reprint this stuff, and I understand some of it has outside ownership (Peter Cannon), but I'd love to see PS ArtBooks give it a whirl.

(Yes, I'm aware that DC reprinted a bunch of Charlton "Action Hero" stuff in Archives form, which I own. But I owned most of those issues in floppy already, since it was basically the final Captain Atom series, Ditko's Blue Beetle and The Question, the A-list characters which I had already collected. What I don't have are some of the B- and C-level characters, like Sarge Steel, Fightin' Five and Judomaster. My Peacemaker, Son of Vulcan and Thunderbolt runs are pretty spotty, too. DC has never gotten around to reprinting those old stories, and I don't expect they ever will.)

I thought that the Ted Kord Blue Beetle costume was pretty good.

The Baron said:

My main thought about Ditko was that he couldn't design costumes worth a damn.  I always wondered how much input he had into designing Spider-Man's costume. If it was all him, it was the only costume he ever designed that I ever liked much.

Was that him? Yeah, that's not too bad,

Richard Willis said:

I thought that the Ted Kord Blue Beetle costume was pretty good.

The Baron said:

My main thought about Ditko was that he couldn't design costumes worth a damn.  I always wondered how much input he had into designing Spider-Man's costume. If it was all him, it was the only costume he ever designed that I ever liked much.

I always thought that the Hawk and the Dove's costumes were pretty striking and I loved Ditko's Starman from Adventure Comics.

The Baron said:

Was that him? Yeah, that's not too bad,

Richard Willis said:

I thought that the Ted Kord Blue Beetle costume was pretty good.

The Baron said:

My main thought about Ditko was that he couldn't design costumes worth a damn.  I always wondered how much input he had into designing Spider-Man's costume. If it was all him, it was the only costume he ever designed that I ever liked much.

On Mind-Grabber Man: I didn't know about his reappearance in Seven Soldiers: The Bulleteer #3. i can't promise to run right out and buy it, but I'll keep it in mind.

On Ditko and Compromise:

"I never compromise when I know I'm right."

"Then when do you compromise?"

Sometimes both sides are right, though points of view may differ.

On Ditko and Costume Design: His Blue Beetle was pretty good. I liked some of his absctrct costume concepts (the Missing Man, the Mocker, etc.) Static was probably his last good standard super-hero one. there are probabl;y a few others I'll think of later.

I recall a person who used to post here once saying that Marvel should have let Ditko write and draw Amazing Spider-Man then he wouldn't have left. And that it was his right as Spidey's "true" creator. And Stan Lee did nothing, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

My thughts: if they did that, the book would have been cancelled eventually, Ditko still would have left and Spider-Man would have be revived later. But he would have lost a lot of his momentum.

About the Blue Beetle/Dan Garrett,  I have extensive notes for a "Mystery of Suspense" entry on the subject of him going from a police officer to an archeologist. There was a hint or two in my "Summit in Gorilla City" series.

On 80th Anniversary Issues: I've pretty much dropped these. I had been buying both periodical (because I couldn't wait) and collected (because I wanted the HC and all the covers) editions, but going forward I'll probably give the HCs a pass, too (especially if they're dropping features). I'm out of shelf space, anyway.

On PSArtbooks: I didn't realize those stories were reprints. I have read very few Dan Garrett Blue Beetle stories. Your post gives me more information than a (non-existent) PSArtbook intro. It's the kind of post I would hardcopy and keep in the book in lieu of introduction, but I no longer have access to a printer. Drat!

On Ditko's Costumes: Whoops. I see Richard already weighed in on Blue Beetle. (This is also me trying to figure out a way to post without having access to Word.) I'll agree, too, with Philip about Starman (and Hawk & Dove, too).

One of the theories I've heard* is that Ditko saw Peter Parker's life as a story arc/limited series, not unlike many series today. Peter's triumph at the end of the three-part Master Planner story was supposedly the end of the story.

*Which of course doesn't make it true

Philip Portelli said:

I recall a person who used to post here once saying that Marvel should have let Ditko write and draw Amazing Spider-Man then he wouldn't have left. And that it was his right as Spidey's "true" creator. And Stan Lee did nothing, etc., etc., ad infinitum.

My thughts: if they did that, the book would have been cancelled eventually, Ditko still would have left and Spider-Man would have be revived later. But he would have lost a lot of his momentum.

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