1. Justice League of America #122, 1975.
We’re all comic fans here, so I’m pretty sure it won’t shock anyone to find out this scene appears nowhere inside the book. The closest we get is the villain of the story thinking he’s caused Aquaman’s death as part of his eeee-vil plan to mess with the Leaguers’ memories and lead them one by one into death-traps. No tombstone, no graveside vigil, no tears, nothing. This kind of bait-and-switch was standard operating procedure back in the day; you did what you had to do to get the kids to plunk down their quarters. And so what if you traumatized some young Aquaman fans by making them think he was (as it were) sleeping with the fishes? Life’s hard; sooner those brats learn that, the better.
“We never even knew who he really was.” Do any of us really know who we are, Batman?
Is it just me, or does anyone else think Green Lantern is drinking from a flask?
2. DC Comics Presents #51, 1982.
Yes, Atom, we feel your pain. The idea of Superman being dead… why, we can’t even begin to imagine how such a thing could be possible. I mean, there’s no way they would put that on a cover if it didn’t turn out to be true, right? This is truly a tragedy of epic proportions, a blow one from which Superman’s true-blue fans will never, ever recov… ooh, free “Masters of the Universe” preview. Gotta check that out.
3. 4Most Comics Vol. 3, No. 4, 1944.
It’s time to “WHAM!” our way back to 1944 with this Golden Age cover starring the heroic Dick Cole, a heroic cadet at the fictional Farr Military Academy who was billed “America’s Number One School Star.” When he wasn’t winning football games, he was chasing evildoers with the help of his buddies and okay fine I hate him already.
Still trying to figure out the order of events in this image. Did Dick punch the guy in the green suit, causing him to fall backwards, and the guy in the blue suit tripped over his partner in crime? Or did Dick slam Blue Suit Guy in the butt with his fist and propel him forward to knock down his criminal cohort? Also, is Dick’s green-and-yellow striped tie regulation apparel for the academy?
Someone needs to revive the Warren Commission to get to the bottom of this.
4. Tales of the Zombie #2, 1973.
Can never go wrong with a piece of art by the great Boris Vallejo. Quoth the Wikipedia regarding the Peruvian-born painter: “Vallejo works almost exclusively in the fantasy and erotica genres… Subjects of his paintings are typically sword and sorcery gods, monsters, and well-muscled male and female barbarians engaged in battle.” Works for me.
“Actual PHOTOS and facts about the WALKING DEAD” — no spoilers, please, I haven’t finished Season 7 yet.
Poor thing, she’ll catch her death of cold being out on the bayou dressed like that. Or at least a nasty bug bite.
5. Timmy the Timid Ghost #4, 1956.
Casper the Friendly Ghost was a big enough star in the middle of the century to attract a few knock-off versions, including Marvel’s Homer the Happy Ghost, ACG’s Spencer Spook and this nervous fellow. Timmy was never what you’d call a hit — a ghost who was scared of everything was a one-note joke that could grate after a while — but his first series ran for 45 issues until 1966. A second series (1967-71) lasted 23 issues, and he appeared for three more issues in 1985 before Charlton went out of business.
I’m still scratching my head over what the joke is here. I’m familiar with the phrase “whistling past the graveyard,” but what’s with the frying pan in the middle of the road? Why does it matter if a presumably immaterial ghost steps in it? Why would someone position tombstones as if they were naturally occurring stones, and why would they say “RIP” on them without any names or dates? Why would a ghost have a “T” on his chest like he was wearing his varsity sweater when he met what I assume was his brutal demise?
6. Secret Romance #1, 1968.
More tombstone tomfoolery from Charlton, this time their romance division. From the internet: “Regina is grieving over the loss of her beau Bob Alder, when a platoon mate of his, Greg Carl, shows up. They get to know each other, pushed by her parents, and eventually fall in love.”
First thought: Typical parents, always pushing the living guys on their daughters. “Let’s face it, dear, they’re all interchangeable, especially when they’re in uniform. Might as well get one that’s breathing.”
Second thought: Not sure what’s so “secret” about this romance, considering she’s sobbing at the guy’s grave in broad daylight. Maybe the secret romance is between her and Greg? Not sure why; Bob’s in no condition to object.
Third thought: You know who else wore a cast in the presence of comely women? Ted Bundy. Just sayin’…
7. I Love You #37, 1961.
Again from the internet: “Lori and Johnny are planning to get married. But when Johnny runs an errand for his friend Tod, his car is hit by a truck and Johnny is killed. Tod tries to console Lori over the following months and eventually declares his love for Lori.” Over the following months, Tod? Not cool, man. Not cool.
Note the military stencil font that’s not quite aligned horizontally with the top and bottom of the tombstone. That’s the sign of a quality stonecarver.
“DYNAMIC! GRIPPING! ACTION!” Yes, we can see that.
Wonder if the guy doing the strangling is one of those “very fine people” we’ve been hearing so much about lately.
9. The Beyond #19, 1953.
What kind of candle-using grave robber comes across a corpse dressed like that and — perhaps thinking it’s worth some scratch down at the lumber shop — removes the stake that was clearly piercing the corpse’s heart? Answer: the bad kind.
Kind of chatty for an ex-corpse, isn’t she?
10. Young Romance #135, 1965.
In “Never Let Go!”, we meet Bonnie Taylor, fearless airline stewardess who falls in love with an Irish ship’s captain. He wants to marry her, but his mother insists they wait a year to make sure what they’re feeling is true love. Exactly one year later, Bonnie returns to their favorite spot, only to find a monument to her love, who was lost at sea.
First thought: what, no letters or telegrams in 1965? They just cut off all contact for a year and assumed that the complete absence of communication would keep the love fire burning?
Second thought: I’m trying to imagine how the discussion about where to put his tombstone went between the mother and the undertaker. “No, we won’t be puttin’ my boy’s memorial in the church cemetery. It’s goin’ right under that big tree by the lighthouse, the spot he promised to meet that young hussy who wasn’t good enough for him. Also, make the tombstone look like a rock so she won’t know what it is until she’s right up close to it. I’ll be in the bushes with my camera to capture the moment.”
11. Challengers of the Unknown #55, 1967.
“Okay, so I’m dead.” I love how Red’s ghost acts so pissed at these guys for mourning his death. “Wotta a bunch of crybabies! Yeah, I’m dead! So what? Reaper’s comin’ for us all, baby! So nut up and get back out there! I spent a lot of time designing those super-cool uniforms and I’ll be damned if you hang them up now!”
12. Men of War #23, 1979.
If you haven’t met this fellow, Ulysses Hazard joined the U.S. Army because he was eager to take the fight to the Nazis, but in a segregated military he was instead assigned to permanent graves detail. Something snapped when his friend was killed in a raid, and (according to his official bio) he “broke into the Pentagon and invaded the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to prove his abilities.” This sounds like a really unwise way to prove yourself to a boss in a place where someone is very likely packing heat. But someone liked his gumption, and so he was re-assigned to be a one-man commando unit and sent to the front under the codename Gravedigger.
Sure, nobody’s surprised by the Nazis forcing a condemned prisoner to dig his own grave, but at least they all chipped in to give him a personalized tombstone. They’re not total jerks about these things.
13. Blackhawk #206, 1965.
This is the kind of cover DC was famous for back in the day, one that plops you in the middle of an unlikely (if not impossible) scene and dares you to figure out how the writer got the characters into this strange situation.
I have no problem believing Blackhawk runs a tight ship, or that he might be “old school” enough about discipline to force his men to dig their own graves.
But what fascinates me is the tombstone. He’s making Chuck dig his own grave; did he also make Chuck chisel his own tombstone at gunpoint? Or does Blackhawk keep a shed full of them out back, each stone bearing the name of a crew member to haul out for special moments like this?
And if that’s the case, does he also have multiple tombstones for each crew member to cover all possible deaths? “HERE LIES CHUCK EXECUTED FOR COWARDICE”… “HERE LIES CHUCK ACCIDENTALLY KILLED BY FRIENDLY FIRE”… “HERE LIES CHUCK EXECUTED FOR TAKING MY SANDWICH FROM THE OFFICE FRIDGE”… “HERE LIES CHUCK WHO WAS SHOT IN RENO BY SOMEONE WHO DID IT JUST TO SEE HIM DIE”…
14. Iron Man #59, 1973.
And here we have another personalized tombstone provided (one assumes) gratis by the antagonist of this story. Mighty nice of Firebrand to shell out for Iron Man’s plot and tombstone like that. Sure, he may be a little cocky counting his chickens before they’re dead, but that’s the kind of confidence you want to see in an up-and-coming super-villain.
Boy, how dumb do you think he would feel if he knew who Iron Man really was? Buying a cemetery plot and tombstone for Tony Stark is like buying a new house for Bill Gates. I’m sure he would be polite enough to thank you for the gesture, but really, what’s the point?
15. The Flintstones #10, 2017.
I really hope the Bedrock gang doesn’t get this broken up every time one of their household appliances expires; that would put a real damper on my enjoyment of the bird-with-long-beak-as-a-record-needle-who-sighs-“it’s a living” gag.
“Hey, Fred, how come we put RIP on the tombstone if no one’s invented Latin yet?”
“Shut up and eat your Fruity Pebbles, Barn.”
16. Top-Notch Comics #18, 1941.
I’m loving the irony of a tombstone used as a murder weapon. Sure makes a lot more sense than using one to tie up whichever expendable orphan sidekick that kid’s supposed to be.
Sure, Guy I’m Making the Logical Assumption Is the Black Hood. Smack them with a shovel. That should work.
Wait… why is a superhero bringing a shovel to a cemetery in the first place? Is this a long-lost Mystery Men prequel?
17. Speed Racer #22, 1989.
From the interwebs: “Racer X’s vision of the future continues, featuring Spritle as a grown man, an injury for Trixie, and an even worse fate for Speed.” Spritle as a grown-up? Eek. Yeah, I’d rather stare at Speed’s tombstone, too.
Huh. “Gregory.” Am I the only one who thought his actual first name all this time was “Speed”…?
18. Belladonna #1, 2004.
From the internet: “Wexford Ireland, 950 AD. Colleen MacGrath’s wedding to Donovan was to unite two powerful Irish families in bliss. Instead, all their hopes and dreams were laid to waste by marauding Vikings. Now a year later, on Samhain, Morrigan the Celtic goddess forces Colleen to rise and claim vengeance as Belladonna!”
Apparently Ireland was a lot warmer in those days.
19. Captain America #17, 1942.
Seems kind of silly to write “HERE LIES BUCKY BURIED ALIVE” on the tombstone, considering how — if things went according to plan — that would only be true for a few hours at best. But that’s the problem with grave-digging ghouls, never planning ahead.
20. Captain America #107, 1968. Speaking of Bucky brand tombstones. “Here Lies Bucky” — yes, there he lies, all right. Requiescat in pace, young hero. Sleeping the sleep of angels, he is. Bereft of life, he rests in peace. He’s kicked the bucket, he’s shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible. THIS. IS. AN. EX-BUCKY!
Yup, really a shame he kicked off long before all us youngsters got the chance to kn— (listens to voice on earpiece) Really? When did that happen? (listens again) Huh. And that’s actually canon in the Marvel universe? (more whispers) More than $700 million in ticket sales? Wowzers… okay, then. But we know for sure Uncle Ben is still taking a dirt nap, right? Right?
“Orgy of Death” — definitely one of those times where it pays to keep reading until the end of the party invitation. I wonder if they held it at the house where horror lives?
Either that gangster dude is really teeny or those tombstones are frickin’ huge. I hope he’s teeny, because the idea of a doll-sized tommy-gun is just too adorable.
(lone cough in the back)
Whoa, tough crowd.