Saturday, May 26, 2018

Earths Seen in the Crisis

Earth-1: The Silver Age. Justice League, Superman II, Flash II (Barry Allen). Largely identical in history to the real world. Almost all post-Golden Age comics through the Crisis took place here, beginning between 1945 (first appearance of Superboy) and 1955 (first appearance of the Martian Manhunter). First defined in Flash v1#123 (1961), first named in JLA v1#21 (1963).
Earth-2: The Golden Age. Justice Society, Superman I, Flash I (Jay Garrick). Largely identical in history to the real world up through the mid-70s, at which point minor differences creep in (such as South Africa becoming free decades early). Only a few post-Golden Age comics were ever set there, notably Infinity Inc., the second run of All-Star Comics, and All-Star Squadron. "Defined" and "named" info same as for E1.
Earth-4: Charlton Comics. Captain Atom, Blue Beetle. First DC appearance and named in Crisis #1.
Earth-S: Fawcett Comics. Captain Marvel (Billy Batson). First appearance in Whiz Comics #2 (1940), first DC appearance in Shazam! #1 (1973), first named in JLA v1#135 (1976).
Earth-X: Quality Comics. Freedom Fighters, Uncle Sam, the Ray. Noteworthy in that World War II continues into the 1970s. First DC appearance and named in JLA v1#107 (1973).
Earth-3: "Reversed" Earth. Crime Syndicate, Ultraman, Johnny Quick II. First suggested in JLA v1#22, first appeared in JLA v1#29, destroyed in Crisis #1.
Earth-5: Proposed name for the world seen only on pages 2 and 3 of Crisis #1. No apparent superheroes. (Note: The real reason there is no explicitly-named Earth-5 is that "5" and "S" look too much alike, particularly when hand-lettered, so that number was skipped.)
Earth-6: "A cosmic anomaly." Lady Quark, Lord Volt, Princess Fern. Only appearance in Crisis #4.
Earth-K: The name given to the future timeline of Earth-1 which Kamandi inhabited, to distinguish it from the "real" timeline which led to the Legion of Super-Heroes. First appearance in Kamandi #1, last appearance in Crisis #4. (Technically an alternate timeline, not an alternate universe.)
Qward: The antimatter universe which contains the planet Qward is usually called "Qward" itself. It is the home of the Anti-Monitor. First appearance in Green Lantern #2 (1960).
Earth-Prime: In theory, the "real world". In actuality, merely a variant Earth with very few superbeings, in which most DC Comics characters are just comic book characters. Devastated by nuclear war in the late 80s. First appearance in Flash v1#179 (1968), named in JLA v1#123 (1975). Destroyed circa Crisis #10. (Does not technically appear in Crisis, but is referred to.)
Earth-Omega: Proposed name for Pariah's home universe, the first one destroyed by the anti-matter wave. Only appearance in flashback in Crisis #7.
Earth-Sigma: Proposed name for the post-Crisis, pre-Zero Hour universe. "Sigma" for "the sum of what came before". Merger of Earths 1, 2, 4, S, and X, with characters from at least 2 others present. First appeared in Crisis #11, destroyed in Zero Hour #1.
Earth-D: The Earth that appears in - and is destroyed in - Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths (1998). It features an ethnically diverse range of heroes, and is rumored to be what Wolfman thought the DC Universe should have been like after the Crisis.

Secret Origin: Silent Knight

Friday, May 25, 2018

History Of Star Wars Toys by James Whitbrook

via io9:When Star Wars released in 1977, the face of science fiction in popular culture was changed forever — but a year later, the movie helped transform the toy industry as well. Since then, Star Wars and the toys it inspired have been forever linked, a story that can just as easily be told through figures as it can the films.
An Unexpected Alliance: When George Lucas and 20th Century Fox were trying to market Star Wars, they planned for something almost entirely unprecedented at the time — a marketing deluge, and a full scale licensing project that would see t-shirts, posters, lunchboxes and yes, toys, covered in the movie’s characters, hit shelves. In a move that, in hindsight, was incredibly shrewd, Lucas negotiated with Fox to take the bulk of revenue from merchandise sales, with neither side believing that the movie’s tepid response before release could lead to much in terms of profit. The lukewarm reaction spread to licensees too. Lucasfilm and Fox first offered the Mego Corporation — whose 8” licensed dolls of DC superheroes, Star Trek and more had made them one of the most powerful toy makers of the 1970’s — the deal to create Star Wars dolls, but the company passed, unimpressed by the movie. After attempting to shop the license around to other toy makers, in 1976 it fell to Kenner, then a subsidiary of General Mills. Kenner President Bernie Loomis saw an opportunity to make good toys with the license (especially in the then relatively new space of 3.75” scaled action figures, cheaper to produce than the larger toys), but expected Star Wars to be a fleeting venture for the company. Little did anyone involved know how wrong they would be.
The Early Bird Gets The Gift Certificate: Star Wars released in May 1977 to rapturous approval, becoming an overnight sensation — and kids didn’t just want to see the movie; they wanted toys. Kenner were caught flat-footed at the demand, finding that they wouldn’t even have figures out for the lucrative Christmas period of that year. To do nothing would have meant losing out on millions of dollars. So they made a decision that was, by all accounts at the time, completely ludicrous: They sold people an empty box. The Early Bird Certificate was a box containing a cardboard display stand featuring the characters from the film, stickers, and a certificate for kids to mail away to Kenner to receive four figures in 1978: Luke Skywalker, R2-D2, Princess Leia and Chewbacca. The box was savaged by the media, and although sales were poor, the move kept Star Wars figures in the public’s mind, ready for their 1978 release.
Your First Step Into A Larger World: When the Star Wars line first hit in 1978, any damage that criticism of the Early Bird Certificate could have done was wiped out almost instantaneously. Joined by another eight figures, and with playsets and vehicles following later in the year, Kenner’s toyline was a smash success, making over $100 million in its first year alone — with demand often outstripping supply. Kenner’s toy line became the icon of the new era of 3.75” figures. The following year, the company capitalised on the announcement of a sequel, The Empire Strikes Back, with another mail-away campaign: one that proved to be far more controversial than the Early Bird Cerificate. In the new promotion, kids could mail four proofs of purchase from any Star Wars figure and get a sneak peek of a new Empire toy, the mysterious bounty hunter Boba Fett, who had made his first appearance the year prior in the infamously atrocious Star Wars Holiday Special. The figure came with a heavily advertised rocket-firing jetpack feature, but shortly before Boba Fett went to market, a rash of health-and-safety fears caused Kenner to make a late decision to glue the rocket into the backpack securely. Kenner has always maintained that they never released a rocket-firing Fett into the wild, but several such figures (as well as early production prototypes) have made their way into the hands of collectors over the years, making it one of the most valuable Star Wars toys ever made, selling for upwards of $2000 when one appears at auction.

By the release of Return of the Jedi, the line had expanded to contain 79 figures, with oodles of playsets, vehicles and creatures released. But without movies to support them, sales slowly began to dwindle. Kenner attempted to offset the decline with brief lines based on the animated Droids and Ewok cartoons, the first non-movie Star Wars toys ever made, but it was too late. In 1985, after 250 million Star Wars figures had been shipped over the world, Kenner ended the toyline. Plans were even made for a spinoff line the following year, The Epic Continues, featuring new characters based on a storyline created by Kenner in an attempt to reignite interest in the toys, but Lucasfilm rejected the move. For now, Star Wars as a toyline was over.

Classic Trailer Friday: Dead Zone