Wednesday, January 14, 2015

" What´s my name, owlhoots ? " Wednesday

It´s SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE WEDNESDAY and it´s about time to talk about something I have mentioned before once or twice but I haven´t really done a post about it : the OGR or Original Ghost Rider if you want.


In the early days of the western United States, a masked man rode the plains, searching for truth and justice. Return with us to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Spectre ! The Ghost Rider rides again !

Now there are probably some readers who have no idea what I´m talking about since to their knowledge the original Ghost Rider is a motorcycle riding ex - stunt driver, a skeleton clad in leather with a fiery skull.


Yes, that cowboy with the white get up appeared in some Marvel comics but wasn´t his name something like the Night Rider or Phantom Rider ?


To answer with a Walterism : Yes. And no. You see, as usual things are not so easy and I think I should address this conundrum since it ties in with one of the most read Avenger stories out there : THE SERPENT CROWN.

Depending on when you read the story and in which format the character we are talking about might have gone by any of those three names. Now if he was just an old western comic character who just had one last Hurrah in this story it might be just nit picking on my part. But the truth is that he did appear in more than one story and one will be especially remembered since it took place in the pages of WEST COAST AVENGERS and the consequences of it had a huge impact on Hawkeye´s better half.


And since we´re on the subject of comics and changing names I should probably mention that the title of WEST COAST AVENGERS was changed to AVENGERS WEST COAST when someone at Marvel realized that if the name of the comic begins with an " a " instead of a " w " it´s nearer at the top at newsstands which happen to put their goods in alphabetical order.

IN THE BEGINNING : COWBOYS AND INDIANS AND RIDING GHOSTS

The whole story is a bit complicated so instead of going into the Serpent Crown story ( I still hope to do a few separate posts on this comic ) or the stories in WEST COAST AVENGERS ( which I still haven´t read since I´m not sure about buying the second Omnibus ) which might be confusing I think it´s best to start at the beginning. Which does not begin at Marvel Comics at all but rather at a comic company called Magazine Enterprises.

 
Magazine Enterprises was a comic book company that lasted from 1943 to 1958, and published western, humor, crime, adventure, and children's comics. It was founded by Vin Sullivan, an editor at Columbia Comics and before that the editor at National Allied Publications, which became DC Comics. Magazine Enterprises' characters include the jungle goddess Cave Girl, drawn by Bob Powell, and the funny animal hero Hot Dog, created by cartoonist George Crenshaw ( unrelated to the Archie Comics character ).


The company's superhero characters were the Avenger, created by writer Gardner Fox and artist Dick Ayers in THE AVENGER 1 ( March 1955 ), with Bob Powell drawing the character's three subsequent issues and all four covers and the aptly named Strong Man, an unmasked, super - strong hero in a jungle - print circus strongman outfit. The Avenger was one of the very few traditional, costumed superheroes created during the period before superheroes' revival in the Silver Age of Comics, beginning 1956.


Among the company's publications were licensed film and TV comics with Jimmy Durante, Dick Powell and the television series THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, starring Richard Greene. Additionally, LITTLE MISS SUBEAM COMICS starred the blond, pig - tailed mascot of Sunbeam Bread.


Since the copyright to Magazine Enterprises' comics were not renewed, they fell into the public domain in accordance with copyright laws at the time. Beginning in the 1980s, AC Comics issued reprint titles of Magazine Enterprises material, along with those of other defunct publishers of that era. As well, AC revived the Avenger as a guest star in FEMFORCE 19 ( 1989, no cover date ), then creating a new series. Ghost Rider reprints appeared in 1999 with the character renamed the Haunted Horseman.


The first Ghost Rider, Rex Fury was created by writer Ray Krank and artist Dick Ayers for editor Vincent Sullivan in issue 11 of TIM HOLT in 1949.

Oddly enough there were no supernatural elements in the first version of his origin story published in TIM HOLT 11 but that was changed in the retold version that appeared in THE GHOST RIDER 1 ( thanks to Britt Reid at the WESTERN COMICS ADVENTURES blog for providing information ).


To make things even more complicated Rex Fury originally had a different secret identity than the Ghost Rider. He was known as the Calico Kid. Rex would pretend to be a mild mannered and wimpy traveling salesman, but he would change into the Calico Kid and become a colorfully dressed hero. He was assisted by a young Chinese boy named Sing Song whom he had saved from being framed for murder. His black horse was named Ebony, but he later got a white horse named Spectre after becoming Ghost Rider.

Federal marshal Rex Fury wore a white outfit covered with phosphorus and a cape that had phosphorescent on one side and black on the other.

Rex used the black side of the cape to cover parts of his body to give the illusion that he was merely a floating head or a pair of hands. To further the illusion, he wielded a black lariat and a black bullwhip so that he could appear to grab things at a distance, and even his twin six - guns and his horse, Spectre, glowed in the dark. He battled many foes who, like him, were not truly supernatural at all, such as an impostor of Frankenstein´s Monster and the Harpy, as well as others who were the real deal, such as werewolves and vampires. While the character never crossed over with anyone, his mask inspired the Avenger to put on a costume.


Dick Ayers later worked for Marvel and after the copyright for the original Ghost Rider had elapsed writers Roy Thomas and Gary Friedrich came up with Marvel´s new non - horror western character that debuted in 1967.


I couldn´t find any information on if and how much Dick Ayers might have been involved in bringing this new version to life - apart from also being the artist on the first incarnation of the Ghost Rider -  so it might have been totally his idea or somebody at Marvel had read all those western horror comics because there are quite a few guys with similar names appearing in Marvel comics like the Avengers aquatic member Stingray.


In any case, neither the first Ghost Rider nor the second one were really horror characters and like his predecessor Marvel´s version used the old Scooby Doo schtick of faking supernatural powers with special effects.


Since I´m not really a specialist on the subject of old Marvel western comics I am not sure when he left this gimmick behind but I know that when he appeared in the Serpent Crown story with Kid Colt, Rawhide Kid and the Two Gun Kid he was just a straight forward western character.


Man, there were really a lot of " Kids " around in old Marvel westerns. I wonder if this qualifies as child labor. Back to the western Ghost Rider.

As unbelievable as it sounds to Today´s young comic readers there was a time when western was the most popular genre in movies, tv, pulp novels or comics. I don´t know how sales numbers were but some of the books like RAWHIDE KID were even published in Germany as RAUHFELL KID.


Anyway, when the popularity of western comics died out Marvel´s western heroes faded into the forgetfulness of comic limbo until writer Steve Englehart and artist George Perez brought them back in AVENGERS 142.


Yep, that´s the Iron Man armor with the nose. Suck it up, fanboy ! For those who don´t know the story ( I would question if there really are comic fans out there who are not aware of this story but there are a lot of new readers who have come in after watching the movies so let´s pretend that there are for the sake of argument ) I don´t want to spoil too much but the Avengers travel to the Wild West days where they encounter the western heroes we all know ..... or think we know.


As you can see they all had their old names except the Ghost Rider who now went under the name of Night Rider although the reason for that has to wait until our next SPIRITS OF VENGEANCE WEDNESDAY post. I hate to leave you hanging like this but it´s once again time to wrap things up.

THE USUAL RESEARCH LINKS AND ONE SURPRISING PECOS BILL COVER

Today´s post required quite a lot more research than I expected which is one of the reasons why I had to cut it short. For more on Ghost Rider artist Dick Ayers check out the interview by Roy Thomas from ALTER EGO volume 3 issue 10 and there´s also a remembrance of Dick Ayers , who died in 2014 by Cliff Galbraith on 13TH DIMENSION. People complain that I´m always linking the same websites but I just want to give kudos to the people who help me make the posts. It´s not my fault that the info is found on the same sites. Today´s sorces include BRONZE AGE BABIES who cover AVENGERS issue 142 as well as the rest of the Serpent Crown Saga.


You can also find entries on that story on SUPER MEGA MONKEY`S MARVEL COMICS CHRONOLOGY and AVENGERS THEN TO NOW . Kudos to all !

Before coming to the video section I just have to post this cover because the cowboy has the same hairdo as a certain Hansrudi Wäscher hero.


Because Today´s post was all about westerns the first video I want to include is from the tv series WESTERN VON GESTERN ( Yesterday´s Western ) which is where I got my regular western fix as a little kid.



For the first music video I wanted to include another TRUCK STOP video but since I don´t like to repeat myself here´s a very popular Schlager song from my youth : Gitte with I want a cowboy for a husband.



When I think about western I think about cowboys and colts and the colt I immediately associate with that is of course stuntman / bounty hunter Colt Seavers. I wanted to include the FALL GUY DOCUMENTARY but the embedding has been disabled so you´ll have to use the link to watch it.

AND NOW THE PART WHERE I GO OVERBOARD WITH MARKIE POST

In any case, I only wanted to have an excuse to mention 80s sexbomb Markie Post because I want to get the POP CULTURE TV SIREN - MARKIE POST post higher on my TOP TEN POST list. It´s right at the bottom. Markie Post played bail bonds contractor Terri Michaels on FALL GUY and public defender Christine Sullivan on the NBC sitcom NIGHT COURT.


At the beginning she played a minor role on FALL GUY but one of the producers must have realized what a waste it is to have somebody like Markie on the cast without letting her " show what her Mama gave her ".


So she got more involved in the stories where she stole the scene from Heather Thomas as soon as she donned a bikini ( mainly in Season 3 ), like in this scene from the " Inside, Outside " Season 3 episode 8.



The series had everything a good tv show needed : a cool main character, car chases, fisticuffs, explosions, shooting, monkeys, dangerous stunts, a lot of celebrity guest stars and the hot hardbody of Heather Thomas.


She played stunt body double ( and what a body it was ) Jody and her job was to keep the male viewers hooked by providing eye candy. She was in all episodes except for an episode in the first season. Yes, fan service is not as new as some people might want you to think and Heather Thomas mainly got the part because of her absolutely amazing bikini figure.


It took a few episodes before she could strut her stuff but once the tv guys got a taste of Heather it happened more often and the famous blue bikini scene was quickly added to the new intro of the second season.


For generations of adolescent young boys the only highlight of the week was the short moment during the intro of FALL GUY where sexbomb Heather Thomas appeared in her famous blue bikini ( if she - or later on Markie Post, or both of them - didn´t wear a bikini in the episode ).



Jody Banks was the reason guys watched THE FALL GUY - and the guest stars although when I first saw the show I didn´t know most of them.


But back to Heather Thomas . Thanks to her absolutely stunning 37 ( ! ) - 23 - 32 measurements and the exposure in THE FALL GUY she became a famous pin up model with posters in every boy's bedroom from that time.


She even replaced pin up goddess Raquel Welch on the number one spot.


Careerwise Heather just didn't manage to cash in on her popularity with her mostly male audience because she didn't want to use her hardbody to succeed. So the high points of her career were her parts in THE FALL GUY and the screwball comedy ZAPPED where she showed her lingerie.

Anyway, after a few episodes another hot babe appeared on FALL GUY : Markie Post whod was just as hot in a bikini as Heather if not hotter.


Really, if I would have had to pic only one of the two at that time I don´t know who I would have chosen. Anyway, you can read much more about Markie Post, Heather Thomas, Elvira, Kathleen Kinmont and bounty hunters on tv in the full post. Now click that link and let´s get it up.


AND WE ARE BACK TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAM

Last but not least here´s the 2002 remake of swedish techno / folk / bluegrass band REDNEX . The group was very popular in Germany in the 90s although I have to say that I really started to like the band when new front woman Julie Anne Tulley a.k.a. Scarlett joined their line up.


Wikipedia says they´re mostly known for the hit song " Cotton Eye Joe " in 1994. Although extremely popular in Germany, where the band holds the record of most total weeks ( 25 ) at No.1 on the German singles chart over the past 30 years - scoring such hits as " Old Pop in an Oak ", " The Spirit of the Hawk ” and " Wish You Were Here " - " Cotton Eye Joe " remains Rednex's sole hit in the United States. Now the real reason the Rednex are so popular in Germany is Scarlett and her bouncing action.


They had another front woman with big boobs before ( a blonde ) but they really became most popular when Scarlett joined in 2001. Because they did a lot of live gigs on tv and Scarlett really knows how to shake it. She always puts some extra effort on making her boobies bounce as they often just jump up and down to the music. In one show ( I think it was called APRES SKI HITS ) Scarlett´s huge breasts where jumping up and down so wild they almost came up to her chin. And in this instance the cameraguy even filmed it which almost never happens on german tv.



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