Hello everybody. It’s great to be back working on the BANG! Blog. It’s been about 15 months since my last Big Bang Chronological post, and I apologize for the delay. Unfortunately, after fighting a long sickness through 2020, it turned out to be a hard-to-detect cancer in my small bowel. That led to surgery, and a long hospital stay and rehab. I am currently doing fine, getting to the end of my chemotherapy and am finally able to work at my computer for short periods of time.
As I’ve mentioned before, BIG BANG COMICS #24 and #27 are two of my own personal favorite issues that we ever produced, and are based on Jim Steranko’s History of Comics. Like part one in BB #24, this issue details the fake history of a fake comic book company, it’s characters and creators in a fake comics industry, stretching from 1938 through the 1970s. We’ve written an updated “modern” third issue that we hope to publish one of these days.
Part one in BB #24 detailed the “history” of Big Bang’s main characters: Ultiman, Knight Watchman, the Badge, Thunder Girl and Dr. Weird. You can read all about it and see some fun pictures in installment #44 of this blog. This issue carries on the tradition, using art, covers and sketches that had been done over the years by the Big Bang Gang of artists. For the most part we made it all up, although we did base our fake creators on many of the real guys.
The Big Bang History of Comics Volume 2 was originally published in October 1999 by Image Comics. While I wrote a lot of it and edited the issue, a ton of artists contributed, as well as writers including Jerry Acerno, Edward DeGeorge, Lyle Dodd, Chris Ecker, Terrance Griep Jr., Bud Hanzel, Mark Lewis, Terry Pavlett, Mark Shirmer and Jeff Weigel who joined in making up the phony histories of themselves and their characters. Thanks to all of them.
With Big Bang Comics, we knew that we’d never be able to tell all of the retro stories that we’d like. Sales were never that great. Issues like this gave us the opportunity to tell some of those tales, and are full of great art never used anywhere else. The issue featured gorgeous front and back cover paintings by Andrew Sheppard, featuring many of the Big Bang characters.
Big Bang #27 kicks off with a chapter about Venus, Goddess of Love and Laughter titled “Love Comes Calling – For Goddess Sake”. It details her career in the 1940s battling criminals and Nazis, and leads into the 1950s where her book became Venus’ Tales of Love and War. Here she adopted the alias of Vanessa DeMille, an army nurse in the Korean War, helping to heal soldiers’ wounds and souls, as well as fighting enemy soldiers. Eventually, Venus’ popularity faded and she became merely the hostess of the book, introducing the stories.
The next chapter, “More Stars Than Hollywood” details the secondary Big Bang characters of the Golden Age, individually and as the team, the Knights of Justice: the Beacon, Blitz and Speed Queen, Dr. Stellar, Vita-Man, the Mighty Hummingbird and U.S. Angel.
“Hits And Misses – Good Girls, Bad Girls, Great Art” features the company’s Femme Fatale heroines. There are lots of fun stories and art by Jerry Acerno about his delightful Shadow Lady character. This leads to BlueBird, Zhantika – Princess of the Jungle, Masker, and Astra the Rocket Girl. Most of these fake covers only appeared here in this issue.
Next comes “Back To The Drawing Board,” which details Big Bang in the 1950s, where Ultiman creators Jimmy Ziegler and Joe Schuler regain control of not only their character, but the entire company. The chapter shows how some characters were updated during this period. Noah Talbot was the Atomic Sub, a scientist whose brain was transferred into a robot body. Unfortunately, it’s fake blood – hydroglycerine – could only draw oxygen from water not air. The Sub battled criminals and enemies aided by his pal, Bubbles the Sea Monkey. Enemies included the Ancient Mariner, ruler of an age-old underseas civilization that joined with the Axis during WW2, and the Blue Blaze, who was the ruler of Fire Island. After being seemingly destroyed by the Ancient Mariner in the early 1950s, Talbot’s android body rebuilt itself and he returned as the modernized Atomic Sub.
Another robot hero from the 1940s who was reborn in the ’50s was Robo-Hood. Then, an alien from the planet Mars named Ch’kk KK’xx arrived on Earth during that same time frame. Assuming the name Chuck Cox, the immigrant pledged to serve America as Mr. Martian! Also during the 50s, five pesky teenagers from another dimension arrived on Earth, followed by an angry dimensional cop who shot and killed them. Their bodies melted into the earth and they bonded with minerals there. They were resurrected as the Element Men: Neon, Helium, Titanium, Nickel and Granite.
This chapter continues with the updates of three characters from the 1940s who were reborn and became major Big Bang stars in the late 1950s and 1960s. The Beacon, Blitz and Hummingbird are featured here, starring in fantastic covers that makes me wish we had been able to tell all those stories.
Next up is the chapter titled “The Best and the Brightest,” taking the company and it’s heroes into the 1960s. The Round Table of America is born, assembled by then President John F. Kennedy to protect America. Ultiman and the Knight Watchman were joined by the Blitz, Beacon, Atomic Sub, Hummingbird, and Mr. Martian in case Russia or Cuba attacked. Venus, Robo-Hood and Ms. Merlin eventually became part of the team, as did Jeff Weigel’s The Sphinx. Peter Chefren was an alien from another dimension who loved the American spirit, becoming a self-made billionaire who used his alien technology to battle criminals – and prevent his own people from attacking.
The chapter, and the issue, ends with an update of Venus into the 60s and early 70s. That’s all, folks!
Back issues for most Big Bang’s are available for purchase for $3 at our back issue store:
Big Bang Comics and all related characters are © and TM Gary Carlson and Chris Ecker. Shadow Lady is © and TM Jerry Acerno. Blue Bird is © and TM Brian Petersen and Terry Pavlet. The Sphinx is © and TM Jeff Weigel. Zhantika is © and TM Lyle Dodd and Mark Lewis. Masker is © and TM Phil Cable. The Mineral Men are © and TM by Daniel Reed.