Category Big Bang Comic News

BB Chronological 28: BB #12 – Enter the Savage Dragon!

People often ask what my favorite issue of Big Bang Comics is and I tell them that it’s too much like picking your favorite child. But the truth is that there are a few that I am extremely proudest of (issues of Big Bang that is, not children) and Big Bang #12 is one of them.

BB #12 was the first part of a three issue arc guest starring Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon, sending old finhead on a wild trip through BB comics history. Erik was (and is) a good friend from my Megaton Comics days and I’ve always loved his work. It was gratifying that he liked Big Bang and was instrumental in taking us to Image Comics. It was even nicer that he let us play with his characters.

The story continued in #s 14 & 18 and featured a Who’s Who of the top BB artists: Bill Fugate, Jeff Weigel, Chris Ecker, Dave Zimmermann, Mark Lewis, John Thompson, Joe Cooper, Darren Goodhart , Shawn Van Briesen and many more, not to mention covers by Rich Buckler and Dave Cockrum on the later issues.

It also gave me a chance introduce the Pantheon of Heroes, my homage to DC’s Legion of Super Heroes, showcasing four different eras of the team.

The cover to Big Bang #12 was penciled and inked by David Zimmermann, except for the Dragon who was penciled and inked by Erik Larsen. The cover and logo were homages to the Justice League, and to this day I get the biggest kick out of the Blitz’s “spit take” as Dragon appears.

It pains me to say that it didn’t occur to me to ask if Erik would like to do the same on the following two covers, or even contribute to the modern sections of the story. Sorry Erik. I just didn’t want to bother such a busy guy. Years later, we were talking about reprinting the whole thing as a trade paperback and Erik was thinking about redrawing the Dragon on every page!

The story opens at a meeting of The Society of Evil Minds – Dr. Binana, Cortex, Baron Brain, Grandfather Clock, the Wicked Worms, Dr. Nirvana – as they plot to use an invention of Grandfather Clock’s to collect monsters from across time to defeat their enemies – starting with Mighty Man – in 1963. Binana’s own invention lets them see a newscast of the Savage Dragon defeating Mighty Man in 1997, so they send the invention to bring Dragon back to their time in 1963.

Cut to 1997 where Dragon is battling Mighty Man, who is under the control of Horde, (the future version of Mr. Mind). Dragon has nearly defeated MM/Horde when a bomb appears out of thin air. Dragon leaps to cover and/or dismantle it but it blows up, sending him through time.

Back to 1963 where the Society of Evil Minds is waiting for him and orders him to kill Mighty Man. Dragon tells them that he’s a cop and they’re all under arrest. Grandfather Clock uses the controller to send Dragon back to where he came from – but the controller is damaged by the blast, sending Dragon on a journey through time and Big Bang Comics history.

Dragon reappears in 1965 where The Round Table of AmericaUltiman, Mr. Martian, Blitz, Atomic Sub, Hummingbird, Beacon, Knight Watchman and Mike Merlin help him stop a dam from collapsing. Dragon attempts to beat up Mr. Martian (because Mars Attacked Earth and Image Comics in 1996). The bomb goes off again, sending Dragon on his way. Ultiman and Blitz pursue him through the time stream but lose him.

Dragon’s arrival in 1945 causes a house fire. Dr Weird arrives, takes notes on the timebomb and attempts to go with Dragon to the future to find eternal peace, but time traveller Simon Ward is repulsed: he must serve his time in the past.

Now Dragon ends up in the future, 2965 where he briefly interrupts a cattle call of heroes trying to join the Pantheon of Heroes. He is rejected because the bomb is a mechanical device and members must have super powers of their own.

The bomb goes off, sending him back to Midway City in 1962 where he helps Knight Watchman and Kid Galahad stop Grandfather Clock, a year before Clock built the timebomb. Clock eagerly inspects Dragon’s device before the bomb detonates, sending Dragon to – –

1985. Ultiman is married, retired and living in his Rocky Mountain fortress. Powers faded, he supervises a a team of super powered robots to do his heroing, while living blissfully with his wife Arlene and the toddler daughter Christie. Kelly is nonplussed and tells Dragon that he and Venus have already helped him out in the 1970s, and that Dragon just hasn’t gotten there yet. The timebomb goes off again- –

– sending Dragon to 1972, where Dr. Weird & Knight Watchman are waiting for him. It seems that Dragon’s journey through history is weakening the time stream and they want to prevent a catastrophic event. They break into Grandfather Clock’s place to try to find a controller for the bomb. There they find two Grandfather Clocks – both in shock after running into each other.

They ship one Clock back to his own time and take the other to the hospital, and send Dragon on his way back to the day after he was trapped by the timebomb so he won’t run into himself.

The issue was plotted by myself and Chris Ecker and I scripted the whole thing. The art for the chapters was provided by:

1963Society of Evil Minds: art: Bill Fugate

1997 – Savage Dragon vs Horde: pencils: Joe Cooper • inks: Billy Hodge

1963 – Society of Evil Minds: art: Bill Fugate

1965 – Round Table of America: art: David Zimmermann

1945 – Dr. Weird: pencils: Mark Lewis • inks: Patrick Tuller

2965 – Pantheon of Super-Heroes: art: Jeff Weigel

1962 – Knight Watchman: pencils: Chris Ecker • inks: Jim Brozman

1985? – Ultiman: art: Jeff Weigel

1972 – Knight Watchman & Dr. Weird: art: Shawn Van Briesen

And that was it for Big Bang #12. It was a 32 page comic with b&w interiors and was published by Image Comics in 1997. While it feels like the story was more or less complete, we knew that it would continue if BB #14.

Gary Carlson

12/5/2017

Big Bang Comics and all related characters are © and TM Gary S. Carlson and Chris Ecker. Dr. Weird is © and TM Gary S. Carlson and Edward DeGeorge. Savage Dragon and all related characters are © and TM Erik Larsen.

Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store:

http://bigbangcomics.com/products-page/comic-books/image-comics/

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Recommended Reading: Dan Reed’s Dimensioneer

Submitted for your approval:

Attention, all you Big Bangers – – the Dimensioneer is back!

The cosmic hero, who debuted in Big Bang Comics #’s 20 through 22 has returned in a fantastic mini-series published by Xomics. The Dimensioneer is a labor of love by the long-time comics pro Dan Reed, written-illustrated-lettered-and-colored by the veteran of Marvel, DC, Charlton, Image, AmeriComics as well as my own Megaton and Big Bang.

Unlike many of the Big Bang characters, the Dimensioneer is not an homage to any particular hero. He is more like an embodiment of the Silver and Bronze Age of Marvel Comics – a flawed character with a great rogues gallery featuring Dr. Insect, the Outrageous Animator, the Better Half, and master vampire Victor Vargos.

And that doesn’t even include the dark gods Maltavic and Zaltavar, or their master Ch’thulu, who is known on Earth as Satan. Or the Dimensioneer’s pals like the Great Pyramid and Bob Barricade.

Dan Reed has been previewing the stories on his website for a while now. Check them out at

http://dimensioneer.com. (While you’re there, check out the Fabulous Funnies pages for my old Nero comic strip).

The first three issues of the Dimensioneer are available right now in a limited print run of of 50 copies, and will be the only ones that have “First Printing” in the indicia, and they come with a free button!! Be a Dimensioneer! Send your $20 via Paypal to thedimensioneer@gmail.com to get all three “first printing” issues, and go through the dimensional portal to action and adventure!

After this initial print run, all subsequent copies of the books will all be labelled POD EDITION, available through Indy Planet at http://www.indyplanet.us/product/151845/ as either print-on-demand or digital downloads.

After the events in Dimensioneer #s 1 through 6, the adventures will continue in the pages of Xomics. For now, if you like exciting, fun comics then the Dimensioneer is for you! Check it out and order today! You will be glad that you did.

Gary Carlson

10/18/2017

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BB Chronological 27: BB #11 – a 70s Vibe!

Big Bang Comics #11 was published in June 1997 but the issue itself has the feel of a mid-1970s issue of DC’s Detective Comics. The lead story features the Knight Watchman, followed by a solo adventure of his former sidekick (don’t call me Kid) Galahad, now a college student at Memorial University, and the final story details the return of the Golden Age manhunter known as The Absolute!

The Knight Watchman stars in The Radical Return Of Faulty Towers, which was plotted by artist Dan Reed, and scripted by me. The main villain is F. Roark Towers, a brilliant architect who went mad when one of his creations collapsed and decided to destroy all of them.

Now an occupant at the Wertham Asylum for the Criminally Insane, he discovers that fellow inmate Chester Katz, aka the infamous Cheshire Cat had stolen and sold one of his recent blueprints and that the new building is set to open the next day. Towers breaks free to destroy the “stolen” structure.

Towers, decked out in a fancy costume with a jetpack sets demolition charges throughout the building. Luckily, the Knight Watchman is on the job and rescues the dishonest owners of the structure in his Flying Shield, and Towers is captured, thanks to the interference of the wacky Cheshire Cat.

One of my favorite things about this story is that we get to see the Watchman in his real identity as fashion designer Reid Randall, prepping a line of women’s clothes for a fashion show with his mother, Ma Randall.

Next up is Galahad, the former Kid Whiz in The Library Looter. Written by Terrance Griep, Jr., the story details a treasure hunt on the campus where college freshman Jerry (Galahad) Randall is enrolled. It seems the founder of the college left a hidden treasure somewhere and everyone from students to a biker gang are trashing the campus trying to find it. Luckily, Galahad is on hand to help keep the peace and to apprehend the villainous librarian who is out to find and keep the treasure.

This is one of my favorite Big Bang tales of all time, for no other reason than than the art by David Zimmermann (with inks by Jim Brozman) is so wonderfully close to Irv Novick’s style. I think I’ve mentioned before that Chris Ecker and I started doing Knight Watchman and Ultiman as fun Golden Age back-ups, but some submissions from Mr. Zimmermann led me to believe that we could pull off ghosting all eras. In fact, one of Dave’s earlier pieces, a Knight Watchman pin-up from two years earlier, again ably inked by Jim Brozman.

Thanks again, Dave. If only Big Bang had been making money. Just imagine the fantastic stuff we could have done with Dave, Jeff Weigel, Bill Fugate, Ben Torres, Chris Ecker and the others.

Speaking of fantastic stuff, the final tale in BB #11 stars The AbsoluteHe’s The Last Word In Justice! Written by Daniel Wilson with art by Darren Goodhart, it’s a wonderful homage/pastiche/tribute to Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson’s Manhunter stories from Detective Comics. The story introduces readers to the Absolute, a Golden Age hero and Axis fighter who had been kidnapped from his hidden Himalayan fortress in Nepal by a criminal organization to steal his secrets. The tale has twists and turns; both the art and story are a love letter to Archie & Walt. Even better, the Absolute returned a few issues later.

Next time: Big Bang Comics #12 – – part one of the Savage Dragon crossover!

Gary Carlson

9/5/2017

Big Bang Comics, Knight Watchman, Galahad and related characters are © and TM Gary S. Carlson and Chris Ecker. The Absolute and related characters are © and TM Darren Goodhart and Daniel Wilson. Faulty Towers is © and TM Daniel Reed.

Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store:

http://bigbangcomics.com/products-page/comic-books/image-comics/

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BB Chronological 26: BB #10 – Turtle Power Manga!

May of 1997 was a pretty great time for me. Big Bang Comics was still chugging away at Image Comics, where I was currently writing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for Erik Larsen’s Highbrow imprint. Plus we were getting set to issue the Knight Watchman: Graveyard Shift mini-series which had begun in our waning days at Caliber Press but had never been concluded. All was well. And it all intersected in May 1997 with a sort of crossover between Big Bang #10 and TMNT #9.

I had asked for and received permission to guest star the Knight Watchman in the pages of TMNT. Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were also kind enough to let the turtles appear in the pages of Big Bang. Thanks again, guys.

A little background here. TMNT began life as a parody of a number of comics of the early 1980s, including Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil and Ronin. The Foot Clan was a play on the evil ninja gang the Hand. Et cetera. Our upcoming Knight Watchman: Graveyard Shift books were done as an homage to Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and Sin City titles.

Ben Torres, the artist on KW: Graveyard Shift kicked things off with the wrap-around cover for BB #10 featuring Galahad, Splinter and the Foot Clan, with the Watchman looking on. It’s one of my all time favorite BB covers. What can I say – – Robin was my favorite character growing up and Kid Galahad was my homage to my hero. And I love Ben’s artwork!

The story itself was told in the style of Frank Miller’s Daredevil work and set in the 1980s. No longer a kid, Galahad was grown up, married and tracking down a mysterious hired killer named the Headhunter who had murdered a friend of his. His search led him to a cheap motel room in New York City. Bursting in, he faces off against an unfazed Japanese crime lord that turns out to be a master of ninjitsu. Galahad uses a taser on him, only to discover that he wasn’t the Headhunter. A woman that Galahad had presumed to be a prostitute was.

Their fight is epic, and takes them out to the street where they are surrounded by an army of ninjas – – the Foot Clan. Their leader, and Headhunter’s latest target was Oraku Saki, also known as the Shredder. In the melee, she escapes and Galahad is overwhelmed and dumped in a sewer to drown. Instead, he was found by four very young turtles and their master, Splinter, who patches up the White Knight, provides an antidote for the poisoned arrows in his back and sends him on his way.

Galahad follows a trail of dead ninja to Foot Clan HQ, where Shredder has subdued Headhunter by breaking her fingers and severing the tendons in her hand. Galahad insists on taking her in as his prisoner, but underestimates Headhunter again and she escapes.

The story was penciled by Clarence Burk and inked by Jim Brozman and has a nice 80s Frank Miller feel, especially the interior shots with backgrounds lit by venetian blinds. I have always been especially proud of the TMNT segment with its extensive zipatones to give that section a murky feel.

Just for the record, Headhunter was a tip of the hat to the first comics story that Chris Ecker and I had worked on. A villain by that name starred in the Crusader/Sentinel story from Megaton #1.

The Crusader later morphed into the Knight Watchman which led to the creation of Big Bang Comics. Also, there’s nothing in this story that spells it out, but my intention was that Headhunter would have been Pimiko’s mother over in our TMNT continuity.

Switching over to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #9 which takes place 10 or 15 years later, Leonardo has arrived in Midway City, where a “bat plague” is changing normal citizens into bat creatures. Leo figures correctly that the plague is being passed on by his Master Splinter, who had been mutated into a giant bat by synthetic mutagen.

In Midway City, Leo runs into Galahad, who has assumed the Knight Watchman identity. They track down the bats’ HQ and release a gas bomb containing the antidote to the rabies which Splinter has passed on to his followers. We had a lot of fun with the bat imagery in a KW story with pencils by Frank Fosco, inks by Andrew Pepoy, and letters by Chris Eliopoulos. Cover inks were by the boss, Erik Larsen.

Back in BB #10, another Knight Watchman story appeared. It was a real departure for us, in that it was very influenced by the Japanese manga comics. Chris Ecker and I had met a 15 year old artist at a St. Louis Comic Convention the year before. His name was Chris “Skippy” Samnee and we were knocked out by his talent and enthusiasm. He reminded us of another young guy we’d worked with ten years earlier named Rob Liefeld.

Knight Watchmanga was plotted by Chris and Chris that day. Chris Samnee drew it up soon after and I dialogued it. The story took place in Japan, where the commercial airplane that Reid and Jerry Randall were riding in crash lands in a city.

I believe it was Chris’ first published comics work. His style evolved into a more mainstream style, and he drew another story for BB a while later in the Whiz Kids Special. Then it was off to Marvel Comics and the big time for Chris Samnee, although I still tend to think of him as Skippy, and have a folder full of fun drawings and sketches by him.

Next up in Big Bang #10 was Speed Queen’s Strange Revenge, a two page prose piece by Terrance Griep, Jr. starring the Golden Age Blitz. In it, the Blitz and his girl friend confront Boss Nero, who has been stealing uranium. It was Nero who had shot Louise Darnell years earlier, necessitating a blood transfusion from the Blitz that turned Louise into the Maid of Motion.

Featuring spot illustrations by Shawn Van Briesen, the Blitz kept side-tracking Speed Queen, fearing that she might seek revenge on Nero. Instead, he is amazed when she thanks him for changing and improving her life.

The last feature in BB #10 was a preview of the upcoming comic book The Invincibles by Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler. Rich was a favorite of mine, having watched him progress from some Robin back-up stories to the Avengers and eventually creating Deathlok. Rich had done a 3 pager for Big Bang #4 and was doing a cover for the upcoming Savage Dragon/Big Bang storyline and it was fun to be able to be able to do him a favor. It was a fun book – – well worth tracking down.

Gary Carlson

7/10/2017

Big Bang Comics and related characters are © and TM Gary S. Carlson and Chris Ecker. TMNT and related characters are © and TM Viacom International, created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. The Invincibles are © and TM Roy Thomas and Rich Buckler. Koichi Kanzaki is © and TM by Chris Samnee.

Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store:

http://bigbangcomics.com/products-page/comic-books/image-comics/

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Have A Happy 4th!

Have a safe and happy 4rth of July. Here’s one of our more patriotic heroes – Miss Firecracker! The top piece was penciled by Mike Worley and inked by Jeff Austin. The star was a drop in for the cover of Big Bang Presents #1 by Mark Lewis, where the above pin-up appeared. Mike W and I were working on a Miss F story that was unfortunately never finished. Finally, a pin-up Mark did a while back for his very fun website – http://marklewisdraws.com/ – check it out!

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BB Chronological 25: BB #9 – Sphinx! Blitz! Sub! Doc W!

BB #9 was the third “non-traditional” issue of Big Bang Comics in a row. By that I mean that it was another issue without a regular BB character featured on the cover or the inside of the book. Erik Larsen’s Mighty Man had starred on the cover of #7 which also contained Shanghai Breeze and the monster story I Met Oogur From Outer Space before the Knight Watchman showed up. Issue #8 had been cover to cover Mister U.S. – a non Big Bang character (although definitely the BB style treatment).

A brand new character, Jeff Weigel’s the Sphinx was the star of Big Bang #9, on the front cover and the lead-off story. Jeff had drawn the Ultiman/Knight Watchman team-up back in BB #3, and I wrote a bit about meeting him six blogs back in BB Chronological #19. The first art samples Jeff had shown me were two complete Sphinx issues, which blew me away. He offered them for sale in an ad back in #3, but both were later printed as future issues of Big Bang.

This time around, Jeff wrote a brand new 8 pager, Deeds of the Doomsayer to introduce the Sphinx to BB readers. Being a winged character, we figured that he fit right into the Big Bang continuity as a Hawkman-ish character.

The Sphinx was Peter Chefren, originally from a parallel Earth where ancient Egypt had conquered the globe and was now searching for other worlds to conquer. Chefren used his advanced science and technology to block his people from tracing him and locating this Earth, as well as becoming a super-hero and humanitarian. However, a madman known as the Doomsayer developed a teleportation device to kidnap criminals from death row, that also opens a portal to the Sphinx’s home world.

Jeff’s writing is as wonderful as his art and he became a mainstay of the Big Bang Gang. In fact, he was the cover artist for Big Bang Universe #3, published by AC Comics, which is on sale right now and recently became the artist on the Sunday Phantom comic strip from King Features Syndicate.

The other three heroes featured in BB #9 were long time Big Bang characters that had already appeared a number of times: the Blitz, the Atomic Sub, and Dr. Weird.

First up was an awesome adventure of the World’s Fastest Human – – the Blitz! The Amazing Menace of Pain Glass was plotted and drawn by Dan Reed, with additional dialoguing by myself. Dan Reed was one of the first artists I had worked with back in Megaton #1 in the early 1980s. He had gone on to do a bunch of work for Marvel UK and others. By this time in 1997, he had been self publishing his own titles, New World Order and Retro-Dead and we had recently worked together on my Berzerker comic at Caliber Press.

Dan’s work is always fun, and this little story is one of my favorites from over 25 years of Big Bang Comics. Scientist Elmer Payne was buried beneath molten radioactive glass and transformed into a being of living glass. Adopting the name Pain Glass, he naturally turned to a life of crime. While the art doesn’t scream Carmine Infantino at me, Dan captures the essence of the Silver Age Flash stories in a way I can only dream of.

Dan Reed was back a few issues later with a Knight Watchman story before creating the Dimensioneer, which has become his life work. If you want to have some real fun, check out his website at http://dimensioneer.com. While you’re there, check out my old Nero comic strip in the Fabulous Funnies section.

Next up is the Atomic Sub in The Four SeaHorsemen of the Apocalypse. This is the same character that was known as the Human Sub back in the Golden Age. This tale is set in the early Silver Age and features his young granddaughter Moray before she became a hero and joined the Whiz Kids and Bubbles the Sea Monkey.

The script, written by Bud Hanzel, features a team of underwater explorers who discover an Atlantean treasure chest. Unfortunately, it contains pendants that transform the four companions into the aquatic versions of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – War, Death, Famine and Pestilence. It’s up to Noah Talbot, aka the Atomic Sub to save the day.

The story was penciled by Stephanie Sanderson (Heike), with inks by Mike Matthew and letters by Susan Dorne. I have always loved Stephanie’s art and it’s a shame we didn’t get more work her way at Big Bang. She had her own wonderful style but at that point we were trying hard to ghost specific styles and the loss was definitely ours. Sorry Steph.

The final story starred Dr. Weird and actually was a reprint from the 1960s. Written by by Raymond Miller, with art by Landon Chesney, The Slaves of the She Beast originally appeared in an issue of Star-Studded Comics. The she beast in the title is a werewolf, who has been kept chained and enslaved by her husband for forty years and now seeks her revenge.

Dr. Weird was also present on the inside front cover in an illustration by David Zimmermann. Once again, I misspelled his name as Zimmerman, leaving out the second N. I don’t know how many times I actually did it but I felt pretty stupid when Dave eventually pointed it out to me. Sorry again for that, Dave.

Finally, the outside back cover featured the sort of crossover between two books I was writing at Image in those days – – the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #9 and Big Bang Comics #10. More on those in the next installment of The BANG! See you then.

Gary Carlson

6/28/2017

Big Bang Comics and related characters are © and TM Gary S. Carlson and Chris Ecker. Dr. Weird was created by Howard Keltner and is © and TM Gary S. Carlson and Edward DeGeorge. The Sphinx and related characters are © and TM Jeff Weigel.

Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store: http://bigbangcomics.com/products-page/comic-books/image-comics/

The Sphinx trade paperback by Jeff Weigel is available from Pulp 2.0 at Amazon.com for $8.99 at: https://www.amazon.com/Sphinx-Big-Bang-Comics-Collection/dp/1490316825/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1498673827&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Sphinx+-+Jeff+Weigel

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In Stores Now! Big Bang Universe #3 from AC Comics!

Big Bang Universe 3

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BB Chronological 24: BB #8 – Mr. U.S. 50 Forgotten Years!

Hello Big Bangers – – Gary Carlson here! The focus this time is on Big Bang Comics #8 starring Mister U.S., published by Image Comics in January of 1997. The issue was written by Nat Gertler, penciled by Mark Lewis and inked by Jeff Meyer.

For my own recollections of how the issue came to be, you’ll just have to read my “Gary’s Graffiti” column that ran in the issue. It also contains Mark’s character design from 1992. I had nothing to do with the creation of any of this material. Nat and Mark were creating it at about the same time that Chris Ecker and I were working on the first Knight Watchman story.

Mister U.S. was fun stuff, and they were mining the same material that we were. Mark Lewis became a major cog in the Big Bang Machine and a very good friend of mine. It was a no-brainer to publish this material as an issue of Big Bang.

The patriotic Mister U.S. only appeared one more time in Big Bang, in a parody of a Hostess ad that ran on the back cover to the Giant Ultiman Special. He did make two uncredited cameo pop-ins, on the back cover to BB #27 in one of Andrew Sheppard’s beautiful paintings, and in the Whiz Kids chapter of the Savage Dragon three parter. (This was the “missing chapter” which finally ran in BB #33, courtesy of artist Darren Goodhart). See if you can locate Mister U.S. in those two pages toward the end of this post.

Nat Gertler kindly volunteered to write up the full story behind the issue and the character, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Mark Lewis dug out the color roughs for all the alternate era covers which are presented here for the first time. Some are visible on the wrap-around cover to BB #8 above, but most aren’t. I dropped on the logo and sub-titles as they originally appeared in the issue itself.

Now, I leave you in the capable hands of Mr. Gertler. Take it away, Nat:

“The Mister U.S. issue of Big Bang Comics is my greatest personal example of failing my way up the chain.

I’d been doing a fair amount of writing for Entity Comics and their Parody Press imprint, and that imprint was built on a rickety base. Much of their effort was putting out parodies of other comics, and they thought that the best time to strike was just when that comic was getting the most possible attention – which means, when it was first released.

In order to release the parody in the same month as the first issue of what was being parodied, that meant creating the parody before the target was released, which meant in most cases we could only base it on whatever amount of concept and sample art had been made available. That is not the route to a good parody. It also meant that retailers had to order the book before they knew how people had reacted to the thing being parodied, which does not seem to be a way to encourage high orders. You’re taking a little risk that the core book itself would be of interest, but it’s a much bigger risk to hope that people will be interested in a parody of that thing.

Because of that uncertainty, a lot of the parody books got low orders… too low, in the publisher’s view, to bother publishing. Which meant that a fair portion of what was created wasn’t being released… and it seemed a waste to put much effort into something that was likely never going to be seen. While there are a couple items that I am proud of from my Parody Press days, that batch also contains much of my worst writing. (Alas, it wasn’t the crappiest ones that failed to see print.)

So when I was asked to write a parody of 1963, the then-not-yet-released Silver Age tribute from Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch, and fellow talents, I rebelled somewhat. There was no way that I could address what those talented folks were doing in more than just a hideously shallow way. But maybe I could tackle the idea of doing retro comics… and maybe I could send up the entire history of the superhero form in doing so. And thus was born something with the awkward title of 1968 Plus Or Minus 25 Years. Take one hero, tell his origin six times, as it would have been told at six different points during comics history, and show how the illusion of consistent characters was subsumed under whatever was going on in comics and culture at the moment.

Parody Press ran with the concept. If we were going to do six periods, we should have six different covers! That way, people would buy six comics to have them all! This left me with the question “who the heck wants to order six copies of a parody book?”

The answer was, of course, no one. With the orders for the book split up over six different publications, none of them sold well enough to hit the level at which Parody Press printed things. So we failed… but we failed upward one step. Artist Mark Lewis, whom I had not selected and whom I’d never worked with before (but believe me, I found excuses to work with him again since!) had delivered such a lovely set of visual pastiches of the various eras that it would be a shame for it to go to waste. So the work was solicited again, only this time without the burden of being a parody of something else. It was it’s own fake history project, Mister U.S.: Fifty Forgotten Years, which much better suited it. And it only had one cover (although if memory serves, it was an “enhanced” cover in some form – with an enhanced price to match.) And yet again, it did not sell enough.

So yet again, we failed forward. The publisher of Parody Press had introduced Gary to some of Mark’s work, and unsurprisingly Gary had glommed onto Mark for Big Bang, using his same strength a period pastiche that had made Mister U.S. so good. He showed the Mister U.S. work to Big Bangster Gary Carlson, who fortunately a) liked the work and b) was eager to keep Big Bang on schedule. Having a whole issue already in the can would help that greatly. So even though it was not part of the Big Bang Universe, the book ended up as an issue of Big Bang, with a new cover that integrated the original six covers. That meant that instead of being published by the tiny and failing Parody Press, the comic came from the juggernaut Image Comics.

Writing this project was difficult in ways, but fun. I had to nail each of the periods as well as I could. I had to make it funny, but while there are a few gags within the stories, the main base of the humor is actually in-between the stories, seeing how this character had been mutilated and mauled over the years to fit in with the trend of the moment. The use of a patriotic superhero (in the tradition of Captain America and The Shield) gave us some of the angles on that. As US allies from World War II became our enemies in the Cold War, the stories changed in concert.

The Golden Age story could be perfectly blunt. The early Silver Age material had to have that hero-as-a-loser motif from what Stan & Jack & Steve were serving up in those days. The later Silver Age version was about the influence of television, with comics trying to capture what the Batman TV series had done to comic book concepts, with some Man From UNCLE thrown in there for good measure. And we had to have a gorilla.

The Bronze Age tale drew its inspiration from the Marvel writings of such writers as Englehart and Gerber, with a hearty dose of Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’s work on Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and with Adams being the key inspiration for the art. The naming of the bigoted sheriff as “B. Gott” may seem over-the-top, but I was drawing directly from my old friend/mentor Gerber naming a Man-Thing character “F.A. Schist”.

The 1980s version was the hardest to write, but also the most fulfilling. If you want to fake being Alan Moore, you have to really pay attention to detail. Moore was someone I took very seriously, even compiling Moore bibliographies for an APA (that’s a fanzine of sort, kids) (and a fanzine is a magazine put together by and for fans) back in the days before such information was easy to track down. I knew that I had to get things right, and suggest a larger world than what we were seeing. Using the Watchmen 9-panel grid as a Hollywood Squares was fun, in part because I had to make sure that the game flowed properly, with the position in the game going along with the orders that the panels were read. Despite the silly aspect of that page, I thought for a long time that I could do a series Mister U.S. miniseries in that style and including that sequence; it would’ve been good.

The gear-shift going from that to the all-surface, no-substance 1990s version was of course very purposeful; I wasn’t going for the average material from each era, but for the extreme. It was a gear shift for Mark as well. He realized that aping Dave Gibbons’s Watchmen style meant you couldn’t cheat a scene; your scene details had to be precise and rendered in each panel. For the 1990s material, though, it was much more loose, anything goes, and could be drawn quickly. There was one hang-up though, and it was my fault: I’d given a set of panels for the two-page spread that didn’t work when laying out. This was one of those problems that proved to be an opportunity. We hit upon the idea of having it so that you had to rotate the book in the middle of the page, to give a little slap at some of the flashier artists who were putting sideways two-page spreads in the midst of the book, which I thought pulled the reader out of the reading experience.

This was not, we were happy to say, the end of Mister U.S. He was included in the Big Bang Universe (with permission obtained – cough, cough – after the fact) in one of the later issues of the series. But we were fine with that, because Mark and I had come to a realization: having created a character whose sole reason for existence was to show how he had been abused by various creators over the years, we could lend him out for other people to use without worrying about what they might do with him. Normally, when one loans out characters for crossovers or guest appearances, one wants to monitor carefully what is being done with them, to prevent misuse… but almost nothing counts as misuse where Mister U.S. is concerned. Kill him off? No problem! So if anyone wants to borrow Mister U.S. for any comic book story, we say okay, so long as they promise us a few copies, a proper credit, and it’s not an adults-only book. This has so far lead to his appearing in everything from other hero comics to a psychology text book.

Having given permission to others to abuse him, I felt free to do so myself. Mister U.S. was a recurring character in Licensable Bear™, my licensing-oriented humor series. There, he was treated as a never-quite-prime-time hero, desperate for recognition and the marketing success that would accompany it. I even killed him off once… but don’t worry, he got better. And Mark and I do have another small Mister U.S. project planned, should the ever-busy Mark ever have the time again! And I do have a few other short Mister US pieces, should I ever find the artist and place for them. (With luck, we’ll get it something out for the fictional 75th anniversary of our fictional character.)”

Nat Gertler

Thanks Nat. Mister U.S. Is welcome back any time. The next BANG! blog will feature Big Bang #9, starring another welcome “visiter” to the BB universe – – The Sphinx by Jeff Weigel. (You know – – the guy that’s currently drawing the Sunday Phantom comic strip?).

See you all soon.

Gary Carlson

6/1//2017

Mr. U.S. and related characters are © and TM Nat Gertler and Mark Lewis. Savage Dragon is © and TM Erik Larsen. Big Bang Comics and related characters are © and TM Gary S. Carlson and Chris Ecker.

Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store:

http://bigbangcomics.com/products-page/comic-books/image-comics/

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BB Chronological 23: BB #7 – Back in Black… and White

Big Bang Comics #7, published in December 1996 by Image Comics, was a bit of a departure from our previous issues. Up to this point, Big Bangs had a decidedly DC Comicsy feel to them. This latest issue, however, was more in the Marvel vein.

Part of the reason for our DC bent is that I was a National Periodical Publications guy during the 1960s, the Avengers being the only Marvel book that fit into my elementary school budget. Superman, Batman, Teen Titans and the Legion of Superheroes were my mainstays. They were the books I read and wanted to write some day. When DC threw out its continuity after Crisis On Infinite Earths in the mid 1980s, I went ahead and wrote those stories through Big Bang.

Also, by the time we convinced a publisher to take a chance on our “retro” book, Alan Moore’s 1963 came along and was already mining the 1960 Marvel territory so we stayed out of his way for a while. However, our plan all along was to create homages and pastiches of all eras of comic book heroes and creators’ styles, and BB #7 was pretty much our first step in this direction.

The cover and main story featured Erik Larsen’s Mighty Man. We had already done a story or two of the World’s Mightiest Man a la C.C. Beck’s Captain Marvel. The real Cap had disappeared from comic books for 20 years – DC sued Fawcett Publications for copyright infringement of Superman and they ceased publication in the 1950s – only to be brought back into print by DC in the 1970s.

During that lapse, Marvel Comics trademarked the name Captain Marvel for a new character. DC has since marketed and recently rebranded theirs under the Shazam monicker. DC’s 1970s reboot was drawn by C.C. Beck and later Kurt Shaffenberger, the same guys who had drawn the character in the 40s and 50s.

Writer/artist Jim Starlin was one of my favorite comics creators from the 1970s onward, especially his runs on Captain Marvel (and Warlock). Jim’s work was full of cosmic concepts of God, Death, Suicide and Infinity, and so we based our latest version of Mighty Man on Starlin’s Captain Marvel work.

The cover blurb on BB #7 declared THE MOST COSMIC BATTLE OF ALL TIME!!! MIGHTY MAN VS. MIGHTY MAN! The story itself was titled Ominous Reprieve and as written by Terrance Griep, Jr., a despot from the distant future travels back through time to steal the power from Bobby Berman in the 1970s. Most of the conflict takes place in a cosmic void called The Warp, a vacuum between seconds where both can duke it out, each as Mighty Man.

The art and front cover were by one of my favorite Big Bang artists, Darren Goodhart, and his love for Starlin’s work shines bright. It’s full of skulls, and close-ups and twisting realities. The gorgeous inks were by Mike Matthew.

“Ominous Reprieve” was remastered in 2015, relettered by Adam Pruett and colored by Erik Larsen himself, and printed in Savage Dragon #’s 205 and 206, along with a new pin-up/cover by Darren. The art I’ve reprinted here is from this latest version of the story.

Oh. Did I mention that Big Bang #7 was printed in black & white. No color interiors. It was a cost saving move. You can read all about it in my “Gary’s Graffiti” column from the inside front cover of the issue.

Next up was The Assassination Run starring Shanghai Breeze, making his only Big Bang appearance. Written and penciled by Stan Timmons, with inks by Mike Matthew and letters by John Thompson, the story had the look and feel of a Marvel comic to me and this was the first issue it seemed to fit in style wise. More of an anti-hero, Shanghai Breeze, wearing a powersuit, tracked down a hijacker who had executed a plane full of victims. Shanghai killed the bad guy, snapping his neck, unaware that the hijacker’s young son was in the room. The kid shoots Breeze, vowing to track him down and kill him when he is older.

I Met Oogur From Outer Space was a tip of the hat to the late 50s/early 60s Marvel Monster stories. Written by Carl Gafford and drawn by Frank Fosco, it was a short tale about John. Q. Nebbish, a loser who never got respect from anybody during his lifetime. When a spaceship piloted by a large alien shows up, demanding a volunteer to return to his planet to be eaten by their Emperor or the Earth will be blown up, Nebbish volunteers, to everyone else’s delight. There’s a nice twist ending, where Nebbish survives as the last man from Earth. Inks were by James Daly, with letters by Susan Dorne.

Finally, something familiar arrived for the longtime Big Bang fan: a classic Knight Watchman story, The Ghost Robbers Of The Wax Museum. In it, a series of robberies in Midway City are apparently committed by exhibits from the Rogues Gallery of the local wax museum.

Jesse James, Blackbeard, Attila the Hun and Adolph Hitler all commit crimes that lead the Knight Watchman to the museum to find the rubber-faced Mr. Mask, now dressed as Jack the Ripper, laying in wait to kill his arch-enemy. The Watchman manages to stop the villain with the aid of the “World’s Greatest Detective” – the mirror in the Sherlock Holmes exhibit. Ghost Robbers was written and drawn by Watchman creator Chris “Tom King” Ecker and inked by Jim Brozman.

And that was the end of the issue, except for a back cover ad for the next issue, Mister U.S.: – 50 Forgotten Years! More info on that one next time.

See you then.

Gary Carlson

5/24/2017

Mighty Man and all characters are © and TM Erik Larsen. Oogur is © and TM Carl Gafford. Shanghai Breeze is © and TM Stan Timmons. Big Bang Comics and Knight Watchman are © and TM Gary S. Carlson and Chris Ecker.

Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store:

http://bigbangcomics.com/products-page/comic-books/image-comics/

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BB Chronological 22: BB #6 – The Criss-Cross Crisis Returns

Big Bang Comics #6 was not a dream, not a hoax and not an imaginary story. It was worse – depending on your point of view – it was a reprint!

That’s right. BB #6 was a reprint of our third issue from the Caliber Press mini-series two years earlier, from 1994. The ad for the issue on the last page of BB #5 said “The Most Requested Big Bang Story of All Time Is Here!” That was probably true at the time.

The story in question, The Criss-Cross Crisis was certainly the most important one we had done to date. It established the Golden and Silver Age continuities on Earths A and B as co-existing 20 years apart. It brought Thunder Girl from the 1940s to the 1960s universe, introduced the Whiz Kids, the junior sidekicks of the Round Table of America, and it contained the death of a major character, the Atomic Sub.

It was the only issue from the Caliber run that had completely sold out. We didn’t even have any comp copies left to sell to fans requesting back issues, now that we had a higher visibility at Image Comics. Oh yeah, it also had a great cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

Plus, we had the negatives to print from, saving us the 4 to 5 thousand dollars that we were spending on color separations per issue that we weren’t recouping. We knew that this was to be our last issue with color interiors for a while, so reprinting it made sense.

I’ve already talked about the Caliber issue in an earlier blog (you can read all about it here: big-bang-chronological-pt-12). This time around, we only had to slightly recolor the front cover and slap the Image logo onto it, and come up with new inside front and back covers and a new outside back cover.

As part of the new IFC, I printed a copy of Curt Swan’s original pencils. You can find that, and Chris Ecker’s original layout sketch in the previous blog. A letter column went on the IBC, and an ad for the all-new Big Bang #7 starring Mighty Man went on the back cover. The story itself was 32 pages and reprinted exactly as before from the original negatives. Easy as pie.

I don’t recall anybody complaining about the reprint. I just thumbed through the letter columns for the following 3 or 4 issues and didn’t see any carping in those, so I can only hope everyone enjoyed it as much as we did.

My favorite part of this issue was getting to create the Whiz Kids, our homage to the Teen Titans. I still love seeing the panel in which Cyclone says “Gee Moray, your baby whale is one groovy taxi!”

Since I told the background story about this one previously, I’m just going to let the artwork by penciler Steve Adams and inker Jim Brozman speak for itself.

Thanks for reading.

Gary Carlson

4/20/2017

Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store:

http://bigbangcomics.com/products-page/comic-books/image-comics/

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