Here in Ten Things corner, we’re big fans of playing the name game, whether it’s animal, vegetable, or names shared with publishing concerns. Welcome to Ten Things: Ten Comic Publishers!
Whooshman-Bicarbonate Films, in conjunction with An Amateur Comics Historian and Super DC Collins, Presents:
TEN THINGS: TEN COMIC PUBLISHERS!
10) GOLD KEY
A member of the Peacemakers in the world of Edison Rex, astronaut John Kane was doing a space-walk when he was contacted by some sort of cosmic being and entrusted with a Cosmic Key of great power. After serving as a superhero for some years, he left the Earth in search of a Metaphysical Messiah, traveling with an alien being called Fox Atomic.
He is actually the reason this list exists, as I realized about halfway through reading Edison’s adventures that ALL the recurring supers in the series bear the name of a comics company. The Gold Key line of comics was launched in 1962, when Western Publishing terminated its deal with Dell Comics. Gold Key’s line of licensed properties included cartoon adaptations, movie and TV comics and the superhero adventures of Solar, Turok and Magnus, Robot Fighter.
Originally posing as an A.I., Rudolph Connors founded the Teen Team with other young superhumans, working in concert with the Guardians of the Globe. After that elder team was killed (*coughbyOmni-Mancough*), Robot rebuilt the Guardians from the ground up and finally cloned himself a body to replace his misshapen original form. When last seen, he had officially taken over the Earth and solved all its problems by ruling it with a literal iron fist.
His namesake, Robot Comics, is a digital publisher out of Australia, known for Robot 13 and Erfworld, among others, releasing their comics in mobile formats for Android, iOS and Kindle.
Sporting one of the most common noms de guerre for Superman-alogues, Titan’s first and only appearance was to herald a zombie apocalypse that had to be cleared up by the Metadocs, a team of superhuman care providers. As such, he is there only to posit the question, “What if Superman, but a flesh-eating ghoul monster?”, a premise also behind Marvel Zombies and DCeased.
Titan Comics is a British publisher probably best known for having the Doctor Who franchise since 2013 or so. Their comic book arm is only one part of a larger whole, Titan Publishing Group, which has been around since the early 1980s.
After a frenetic but hazy origin sequence wherein a mad scientist imbued him with a special fire-resistant, lighter-than-air gas during a forest fire, Jim (last name unrevealed) punched evil for four issues circa 1941. One of the Centaur Comics stable of heroes, he shared pages with Man Of War, the Liberty Scouts, and The Undercover Man. He’s glorious in his Golden Age finery, courtesy of artist Martin Filchock.
Comic nerds of a certain age may remember Fireman Press as the company behind Scud, The Disposable Assassin back in the 1990s, star of comics, vidja games, and action figures. At one point, no less a luminary that Oliver Stone was attached to a motion picture adaptation, but that film sadly never happened.
A native of Earth-31916, home to one of many Squadrons Supreme, Arcanna Jones wasn’t magic like her counterparts. Instead, she had a nebulous ability to manipulate quantum reality to cause any effect she wanted, such as flight, hydrokinesis, illusion-casting and other abilities that are absolute indistinguishable from magic in any way at all. It’s the kind of hair-splitting “NOT YOUR FATHER’S COMIC BOOK” nonsense that made the Supreme Power title absolutely unreadable.
Arcana Studios (spelled with one ‘N’, but I dare you to claim you hear a difference when spoken aloud) was founded in the early 2000s and is still publishing today. Arcana even opened an animation division in 2012 to create film and movie adaptations of its various properties.
A powered-armor user circa World War I, real name unrevealed, Dell was a member of Unit Y, an international alliance of superhumans who helped to end the war. They were then stabbed in the back and dissolved by the League of Nations, but their legacy lives on in the form of Unity, thanks to team leader Gilad Anni-Padda, better known as The Eternal Warrior.
At one point, Dell Comics was the best-selling comic company in existence, selling millions of copies each month. In addition to their Four-Color Comics anthology, they held the license for Disney comics, Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera and scores of others. Dell’s one weakness was that they were ONLY the publisher, with most of their material being written and drawn by Western Publishing. As you may remember from our #10, Western launched their own publishing house in 1962, which was the beginning of the end of Dell. They ceased publishing in 1974, with some of their licenses passing over to Western/Gold Key.
Another Centaur Comics hero, like Fire-Man, Ralph Payne was one of the first costumed folk to arrive in the wake of Superman, debuting in September of 1938. He quickly graduated to his own solo book, and is the first bow-and-arrow guy in the pages of comics, predating even Green Arrow, so the guy calling him a “knockoff” over on his Youtube channel is not just wrong, he’s a dipstick. My irritations notwithstanding, The Arrow has been revived a number of times, including Malibu Comics’ Protectors and the pages of Project Superpowers.
Arrow Comics was one of the first publishers of the 1980s’ black-and-white comics boom, putting out a number of books, but probably best remembered for their Wizard of Oz books. They also did something called Spank The Monkey, about a monkey called Spank, but I’m afraid to even search for the title.
3) ACTION LAB
Is this one a cheat? Probably, as Action Lab, the Dog of Wonder is clearly named for his publisher, Action Lab Comics and appeared as the logo mascot for years before getting his own book. When he’s not saving dogs from terrible fates at the hands of stupid humans, Percy lives on the Fenris Estate and leads his team of specialists, the Action Lab League!
He’s a good boy.
Founded in 2010, Action Lab Entertainment publishes a number of books in the Danger Dolls universe, as well as The Consultant, Jupiter Jet, and many other books, but their namesake hero is definitely the fluffiest.
A three-thousand-year-old immortal, the man of many aliases (currently known as Andrew Pendragon) had years of experience and savvy when he is given superhuman might and the ability to fly by a future being called Vandervecken. The leader of The Futurians, his is not only the most Dave Cockrum design ever put to paper, it’s also utterly perfect in every line and must be protected as one of our collective cultural treasures.
His publishing namesake, Avatar Press, made its name in the Bad Girl comics craze of the mid-90s, but has branched out into science fiction, licensed properties and mind-numbing horror books like Crossed. If you’re looking for adult themes, imagery and sometimes the old ultra-violence, an Avatar book may be your jam.
A mysterious warrior with a mysterious mystery past, Extreme (AKA The Extreme Warrior) has no need of a name, only guns. An ally of both Bloodstrike and Brigade, he is the meaty son of a giant laser gun and a bandolier full of pouches and his super-power is best described as “BANG! PEW PEW PEW! KABOOM!”
Interestingly, the Extreme logo seen in that word balloon would later become the official trade dress of Rob Liefeld’s studio, which became the company logo when he left and/or was pushed out at Image Comics. There’s some blurry lines to how Extreme Studios/Awesome Comics/Maximum Press/Awesome Hyperwerks operated and whether they are in fact the same publishing company, but they have a lot in common. Aside from having many of the same Liefeld creations, they were all prone to big relaunches that fizzled within a couple of issues and featured announcements of comics that never materialized.
Once again, this week’s topic, Ten Comic Publishers, is all me, but feel free to follow along @MightyKingCobra to suggest your own! There’s always more Ten Things madness on my Twitter or check out the full Twitter archive here! As with any set of like items, these aren’t meant to be hard and fast or absolutely complete, as there are a couple dozen Masked Marvels out there since 1939. Either way, the comments section is below for just such an emergency, but, as always: Please, no wagering!