Americomics Special #1 (August, 1983)
“Sentinels of Justice”
Plot & Story – Dan St. John
Script & Art – Greg Guler
Backgrounds – Matt Feazell
Colorist – Bill Fugate
Cover Price: $2.00
Welcome friends to our humble home’s TWO YEAR BLOGGIVERSARY!
What’s more… it’s also a day in which I get to share blog posts from my friends in what is a sorta-kinda Super-Blog Team-Up. It’s not the real thing, of course… you may remember, we all died last time around… but, close enough!
I was initially planning on either forgoing or at least putting off taking part in this go-round… until I sez to myself, “Self, Super-Blog Team-Up is some of the funnest days of the year” So, why not celebrate both our anniversary here… and take the opportunity to take part in a project with my pals?
So, that’s just what we’re gonna do.
The (definitely not) Super-Blog theme this time around is putting together a “dream” version of a superhero team… Justice League, Avengers… whateva ya want.
Since that’s the theme… and at the end of this post I’m going to throw together a version of the Justice League, I figured I’d discuss another time when a team was “thrown together”. In the interim between Charlton Comics going out of business… and DC Comics taking ownership of the Action Heroes line… Blue Beetle, Captain Atom and the gang took a brief stop at… Americomics. Ameri-what?
Glad you asked! Reggie and I actually discussed this when we did our two-part Weird Comics History on Charlton Comics… if’n you’re interested, give ’em a listen!
And, yeah… we’re kinda “cheating” the system here in talking about a book that isn’t published by DC Comics… but, way I look at it… it’s close enough! In the past we discussed Wildstorm properties while they were still under the Image Comics umbrella… so, we’ll think of it like that.*
*he says, pretending he won’t lose sleep over this.
We open in Hub City where Vic Sage is delivering the news on his nightly broadcast. Looks like there’d been a string of tech-related crimes of late… and the thieves have been identified as members of the terrorist organization known as the “Madmen”. Little on the nose, but we’ll allow it. We shift scenes to the baddies’ secret lair where they are being instructed by… the Manipulator. Wow, these names you guys! Staying with the Manipulator for a bit, we see him deliver his plans to steal a solar battery to a conference table full of… well, dudes. Of note, he looks to be doing so in front of a portrait of Tom Selleck.
In an odd bit, the Manipulator then… removes his hood/helmet thing, revealing him to be…………….. nobody we’d recognize. Nobody I recognize anyway. He’s just a blonde dude they refer to as J.B.
We next shift to the… uh, Beetlecave, where Ted Kord is brought up to speed on Dr. Rockwell’s solar battery… he plans to attend its unveiling… however, he receives a call from Captain Fisher and has to “suit up” for duty. The Sentinels of Justice are needed!
Fast-forward to Police Headquarters where Beetle meets up with Captain Atom… and eventually Nightshade and the Question. They are given a presentation from Dr. Rockwell about how they’re going to lure the Madmen out when they present the solar battery.
And so, the next evening, Nate and Eve attend the Rockwell gala in their civvies while Beetle and Question monitor the situation from outside. Suddenly, a hover tank comes roll… er, hovering down the street. It’s the Madmen, natch! Led by the Manipulator, they bust in and cause all sorts of mayhem.
What follows is like a dozen pages of fighting. Really not much to say about it… it’s a fight scene. Captain Atom eventually gets the better of the Manipulator… which only causes ol’ J.B. to announce a ten-million dollar bounty on his head… and that, as you might imagine paints quite the target on Nate. Well, it might have… if more than one of the Madmen heard him.
Eventually, the Manipulator calls in his “ace in the hole”… the Banshee! Boy oh boy… what a geek.
The Banshee nails Ted with a stun-bolt… and the Madman known as Ironarms (I think) continues to work on procuring that ten-mill bounty. Unfortunately for him, Nightshade sneaks up behind him and smashes him with the solar battery. Not sure why this caused him any more distress than had she hit him with a cinder block… but, we’ll allow it for “science” sake.
From here, things really start for fall apart for the baddies. The Madman known as “Icer” holds Dr. Rockwell aloft… and threatens to kill him, however at the last moment he throws the Doc at the Sentinels and escapes.
The police arrive and begin making arrests… and Captain Atom attempts to track down those who got away (including the Manipulator). He comes up empty… which only proves the point that the Sentinels of Justice will always be needed.
We conclude with an epilog(ue), in which we learn that the Manipulator (who must have escaped at some point) is being… manipulated by a shadowy man with but one goal… Destroy the Sentinels of Justice! If by “destroy”, he means make it so this comic never comes out again… well, then mission accomplished pal, cuz this is all she wrote!
Well… as far as “milestone” issues go, this was a bit underwhelming.
We’ll try and be brief, because really… there isn’t all that much to say. This was a very old-school comic book… and it feels like it would’ve been something of a relic even back in 1983. There’s odd uses of science… a group of terrorists who call themselves “Madmen”, thereby just accepting that they are, in fact, evil… and over half the thing is comprised of an overlong fight scene.
What I’ll give it is… it’s heart. There’s a real feeling of love for these Charlton Action Heroes here. This feels very much like a passion-project, and not… whateverthehell The L.A.W. would be twenty or so years later. This feels almost like a fan-fiction… and I mean that in the best possible way. This is as though me and a group of friends got together in high school and created a full-color homage to our favorite comics characters. Pushing that a bit further… I couldn’t help but smile when I saw a credit for “backgrounds”. That definitely brought me back to drawing and writing comics as a kid… we’d always try and “stick” someone on backgrounds… because nobody wanted to (or could, really) draw them!
Overall… kind of a dud, but not bad. I wouldn’t tell you not to pick this up should you come across it. Quite the opposite! If you’re a fan of any of the Charlton Action Heroes… or just comics history in general, I’d definitely urge you to grab this one. It’s an interesting piece of history… and the kind of thing we just don’t see anymore (and probably never will). By the way, this series didn’t continue not because of our shadowy friend up there, but because, DC Comics bought the characters shortly after this one came out. Unless… Paul Levitz was the shadowy man! Record scratch…
Now… with the comic out of the way, I can get all sappy like I usually do when I come to a milestone post. Two years ago today… I started a blog. I wrote about one of my favorite comics of all-time in Tales of the Teen Titans #55… I did so because, well… I was facing some horrible writers block, and couldn’t bring myself to complete a certain forensics assignment… I went into detail about this in my first anniversary post.
I still remember sitting there after publishing… hitting the “refresh” button on my stats page to see if anybody somehow wandered across my words of wisdom… and that weird feeling several hours later when somebody had! I’ve since gotten over all that… nowadays, I only check like every five minutes or so… kidding, my time is now spent hitting refresh on the Chris and Reggie Podbean page. Ahem. Forget I said anything.
As always, I want to thank everyone for reading… for interacting… for inviting me onto your sites and shows… for inviting me into your eyes and ears… in the, ya know, least creepy way possible of course.
A huge thanks to our great friend Justin over at DC in the 80’s, who… put together an amazingly touching piece discussing this very blog. I encourage everyone to head over and check it out… and while you’re there, do some poking around… lots of great stuff there… some even written by yours truly. I’ve already read his piece like a dozen times… and I still can’t get over it. It’s truly one of the nicest things anyone’s ever done for me… and despite my rambling, I actually cannot put into words how much it means to me. So, I’ll leave it with… THANK YOU, JUSTIN.
Whew… what say we leave the sappiness there, and press forward into some fun CioIE stats! Whoo-hoo, everybody loves stats! And, of course… if you scroll passed the (incredibly interesting) stats, you’ll find my “Dream” Justice League.
Thanks again for reading… and sticking with me!
Two-Year Anniversary Chart:
Not gonna lie, being kind of a mark for stats… I’ve been itching to put this together for quite some time. In looking at it now, I gotta say… that’s pretty much exactly how I imagined it’d look!
We have some pretty big spikes in the late 1980’s… which I definitely saw coming, with a sort of steadiness throughout the 1990’s, before spiking again around 2008… lotsa “Nebulous Interim” Superman and Justice Society of America (Volume 3) in there. It’s probably why Geoff Johns sits atop my “most talked about” comic creators with… holy cow, eighty-two books! Speaking of which…
Top Ten Creators (by post count):
1. Geoff Johns (82)
2. Dan Jurgens (40)
3. Marv Wolfman (38)
4. Curt Swan, Gerry Conway & Keith Giffen (29)
5. George Perez (27)
6. Cary Bates (24)
7. Jim Aparo & John Byrne (19)
8. Bob Rozakis & Jerry Ordway (18)
9. Dale Eaglesham & Joe Staton (17)
10. Denny O’Neil (16)
(Not the) Letters Page & Pin-Ups:
A “Dream” Justice League:
So, we’re going to place our Justice League on Infinite Earths in the aftermath of Infinite Crisis… this way, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman are completely off the table. Now, we’re not “trinity-less”, however… we’re going to start with one of our own.
I don’t know about anybody else, but whether they’re Travelling Hard or Crying for Justice, I’ve always seen Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Green Arrow, and Black Canary as a secondary trinity. They’ll pull together in the absence of the “big three”… knowing there’s a need for a Justice League… but not knowing fully where all the “pieces” have landed. They know that, at the very least… they can trust one another. They plan to work as equals… however, it’s basically understood that Dinah’s running the show.
After a few adventures, they realize the size of the task before them, and the shoes they’re going to need to fill… and so, they open up recruitment. Their first “get” is Stargirl… who in between stints with the Justice Society, is… like really bored maaaaaaan. The only action she’d seen of late was tending to a smoke alarm in the girls’ bathroom at school… which was set off courtesy of the cigarette smoke of Freefall.
In honor of the WildStorm Universe receiving a multiversal designation (Earth-50), Roxy will become part of our team. She will mostly serve as a foil for Courtney… a girl she sees as “perfect”, just like her own half-sister Caitlin (Fairchild). Roxy will also be a really fun thorn in the side for Ollie… I’m already picturing her thumbing her nose at his chili.
In say… issue #4 of our new series, the JLA is called to Beverly Hills where it appears that a cult of poodle-skirted teen-agers have taken over the town. Upon investigation, our team is led to a diner where they’ve been playing the same record over and over again… a pretty hip record, if you catch my drift, cats and kittens. The proprietor of the diner claims to have found the record in his storage room. Upon turning off the turn-table, the teen-agers return to “normal”… for better or worse.
Courtney heads to city hall and learns that this diner was built on the ruins of a… malt shoppe back in the late 1960’s. Ollie and Hal begin to poke around… and discover an industrial freezer buried several feet underground. Upon excavation… they find a frozen man inside a block of frozen malted. When it thaws we see that this is our next team member, Super-Hip! Super-Hip will be our team’s “fish out of water” character, not unlike Captain America when he was unfrozen. Super-Hip, of course, is the alter-ego of Bob Hope’s nephew. I can see him having no idea of “current year” social mores… leading to some very interesting situations with Courtney and Roxy.
Some time passes and the League is contacted by… Arkham Asylum. Seems there’s a fella there making a lot of racket… a fella who now occupies the Psycho Pirate’s old padded cell. We are in the aftermath of a Crisis… so, it’s only fitting. They head over to check it out… and find a man in the fetal position repeating over and over “they don’t want me… nobody wants me… they don’t want me… nobody wants me”. Turns out, this is… Access! I know what you’re thinking, “what a loser”… annnnnd, you’re right! But, he’s important for what’s to come. Access is in Arkham due to overwhelming depression… he’s a man who can travel between worlds, but can call neither of them home. Because, as he says… nobody wants him.
This leads us to our final team member… and, while it’s a bit of a stretch… I think it’s pretty fun. Now, what our team is lacking is, quite frankly, a powerhouse. We don’t really have someone on the level of Superman or Wonder Woman… so, let’s get one. As the League tends to Access, a man they feel is completely delusional… he demonstrates his powers… sending the entire team to the Marvel Universe.
They arrive on 616 Earth just as… Galactus is about to devour it! Our team just barely ekes out a victory… Access proves his worth by illustrating that there is a multiverse of planets out there to be “eaten”… and the purple giant, either falls asleep or heads off in search. Whichever makes more sense at the time. Anyhoo, when everything seems cool, our League is attacked by, Galactus’ herald… the Silver Surfer.
We can have a bit of meta-commentary here… maybe a shot of the Daily Bugle where they joke about the Surfer rejoining Galactus from time to time… maybe a gag about there not being a Fantastic Four to save the day. Really just me being pithy… let’s edit that out.
Anyhoo, our League is able to bring the Surfer back to his senses, and he realizes that no matter how far he strays, he’ll always be pulled back under Galactus’ control. And so, he decides to accompany our team back to the DC Universe where he can serve as the “cosmically powered” Justice League member.
And so… I present to you the Justice League on Infinite Earths!
Thanks for playing along, this was a lot of fun. Just below, you can see what the rest of the Super-Bloggers had to say!
(Definitely not) Super-Blog Team-Up Continues: