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Archive for June, 2010

Glow in the Dark Comics #5 Perg

30 Jun

During the speculator boom in the 1990s comic book market, publishers enhanced comic covers to increase sales. These gimmicks included shiny foil, holograms and even pop-ups! But, one of the coolest enhancements was the glow in the dark cover. Let’s shed some light on the subject, shall we?

Perg #1 glow in the dark variantPublisher: Lightning Comics
Cover Date: October 1993
Cover Price: $3.50
Cover Artist: Saltares

Perg was one of three titles that launched the Lightning Comics line in 1993. It told the story of a corrupt policeman who was killed by the very citizens he was charged to protect in the 1800s. Perg rose the next day as a spirit for good with the ability to rid people of their evil.

The title only lasted for eight issues but it’s importance in the comic industry spans far beyond that. Lightning Comics debuted Hellina in this series and she went on to have over twenty solo series and one-shots!

On Ebay: Perg

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed! #13 Christine

29 Jun

After looking at hundreds of comic book covers, it becomes quickly apparent that not every cover is 100% original. Whether done intentionally or even underhandedly, there’s something about uncovering these “swipes” that adds a new element of fun to reading and collecting comics.

2004′s Ghostbusters: Legion sold well enough to warrant a second printing. And, to mark that issue, it was printed with an all-new cover. This one paid homage to the movie, Christine (which was based on the Stephen King novel), by depicting the Ghostbusters’ Ecto-1 in the same pose as the 1958 Plymouth Fury in the Christine movie poster. Curiously enough, there is an ad in the back of Ghostbusters: Legion #3 for a die cast replica of that very same car!

Christine Movie Poster
Christine movie poster
1983
Ghostbusters: Legion #1 second printing
Ghostbusters: Legion #1 (2nd print)
2004

On Ebay: Ghostbusters

 

One-Shot at Greatness #13 the Remnants

28 Jun

Because publishers want you to buy their product every month, comics are typically serial in nature. However, occasionally (and more often nowadays than ever before) publishers launch a comic title that is only meant to last for one issue. While ongoing series often have multiple chances to hook in new readers, the comics highlighted in this ongoing investigations only had One-Shot At Greatness!

Heroes Reborn: the RemnantsPublisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: January 2000
Cover Price: $1.99
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

In 1996, Marvel’s non-mutant super-heroes (the Avengers and Fantastic Four) were seemingly killed in a battle against Onslaught (a hybrid of Professor X and Magneto) but, actually, they were transported to an “imaginary world” created by Franklin Richards. The heroes’ lives and stories were reborn there, told slightly differently but utizlizing a lot of familiarity at the same time. A year later, the heroes returned back to the mainstream Marvel Universe … leaving the “Heroes Reborn” alternate world hero-less. In 2000, Marvel launched a series of one-shots that focused on characters found on the “Heroes Reborn” world.

With no one left to defend the innocent and good people of this world, a group of five would-be heroes answered the call to super-hero-dom!

    Mant - a janitor who now wears Hank Pym’s Ant-Man suit
    Miss Thing - killed Wolverine and is now armed with his remains
    Panther Cub - the son of a Wakandan valet … wearing an oversized Black Panther costume
    Amazo-Maxi-Woman - the Super-Adaptoid has gained sentience … and a female form
    Sterling - the residual energies from the Silver Surfer … in a human form

 
Their mission, as assigned by S.H.I.E.L.D., is to take down a dangerous villain who has killed their best officers and stolen the helicarrier. This villain happens to be the very same man who united these five heroes into a team … the merc with a mouth, Deadpool (who was previously the Swordsman from the “Heroes Reborn” Avengers team)! So, the team storms the Helicarrier and fights their way to him in the Control Room. In a long-winded explanation, Deadpool explains how he went from a civic-minded super-hero to an overweight, crazy villain. Before the Remnants can even take their mentor down, he escapes on one of a dozen missiles aimed at the moon. Every bit as crazy as he is in the mainstream MU.

Now, I’m a fan of lame/obscure heroes and villains. I run the Great Lakes Avengers website, after all … but this team took lame to a whole new level. Remnants was an extremely appropriate choice for the team name … unfortunately that doesn’t redeem the rest of the book. We don’t even get to see any final battle at the end! The villain just beats a hasty retreat. And, the story’s not the only thing to pick on … Ethan Van Sciver’s art is inconsistent here, too. Some pages look great (page 6) and others look awful (page 17)… almost as if another artist was brought in. What makes this book a hidden gem is that it’s a little-known book featuring Deadpool … written by Joe Kelly (perhaps the most well-regarded ‘Pool writer). But, unfortunately it’s still not enough to make this team of losers appealing.

On Ebay: Heroes Reborn | Joe Kelly | Ethan Van Sciver

 

Minimate Spotlight #8 Superman

26 Jun

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

Though they weren’t the first company to license their characters to Art Asylum’s Minimates line, Marvel Comics was the first major comic book company to support AA, starting back in 2003. One year (and 6 waves) later, DC Comics decided to get into the game as well. Since they didn’t want their products to get lost in the shuffle, they decided to up the ante and do one better than Marvel, and so their deal with Art Asylum saw the introduction of the C3 concept (which stands for “Create, Construct, Customize“).

C3 brought Minimates one step closer to Legos, since the whole idea behind the concept was that Minimates were no longer just figures, but now they were figures that came with building block sets that were “compatible with other popular building block systems”. It was a viable marketing idea, but the problem is that Minimates were never intended to be compatible with (or compared to) Legos. As a result of this move to introduce building blocks to accompany the figures, the battle that Art Asylum had been fighting to not have their products looked at as just another “Lego knock off” took a major hit. The real unfortunate thing about this concept wasn’t the quality of the product, but rather it’s execution. Mega Blox has become a formidable competitor to Legos, if only because they have been around long enough to make a name for themselves and acquire decent licenses. C3, however, only lasted for 2 short waves, which effectively killed any chances of people taking it seriously. Still, in those 2 waves, we were given many well known (and well designed) DC characters in Minimate form.

But DC wasn’t done with the Minimate scene after C3 went under. In 2007, they signed another contract with Art Asylum, and with this new deal, they took a different approach.
The C3 line was based off of the success of the Bruce Timm helmed Justice League cartoon series, and so all of the initial DC Minimates were designed from the cartoon. For DC’s second Minimate venture, they tried appealing to a less mainstream market, with all of their designs being focused on the more serious look of the comic books.

DC’s second foray into the Minimate market had more longevity than the C3 venture, but unfortunately this approach didn’t last either. Before this line was discontinued, however, DC was gracious enough to give fans 8 waves of DC Minimates (no longer packaged with the C3 block system). The first wave saw the rerelease of Superman, in a less cartoony look. This week’s image shows the “C3 wave” version of Superman (left) standing next to the regular “DC wave” version (right):

Behind the Image:

This was pretty straight forward. I photographed the two Minimates standing next to each other against an unlit black background, and then superimposed the red “S” symbol behind them via photoshop.

On Ebay: Superman

 

Retro-Read #12 Marvel Age: Spider-Man

25 Jun

With years spent reading single issues here and there, juggling storylines of dozens of titles, I decided it was time to find a better way to read comics. So, it was off to the back issue bins armed with the longest want list you’ve ever seen! Putting together series after series and reading them in their complete goodness, I was reborn as the Retro-Reader!

Publisher: Marvel Comics
Number of Issues: 20
First Issue: May 2004 ($2.25)
Last Issue: March 2005 ($2.25)
Writer: Daniel Quantz, Todd Dezago, Mike Raicht
Artist: Mark Brooks, Jonboy Meyers, Michael O’Hare, Patrick Scherberger, Logan Lubera, Valentine DeLandro, Derec Aucoin, Shane Davis, Jamal Igle, Gus Vasquez

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

I can’t imagine that anyone reading this post doesn’t know the story of Spider-Man … but, just in case, here goes: High school nerd and social outcast, Peter Parker, is bitten by a radioactive spider, giving him the ability to stick to walls, a “spider-sense” for danger, super-strength and speed. Using the lesson his Uncle Ben taught him “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” he dons a costume, invents web-shooters and fights crime in the city.

Vulture. Doctor Octopus. Sandman. the Lizard. Electro. Mysterio. Green Goblin. Kraven the Hunter. All classic villains that have stood the test of time … and we get to experience Spider-Man’s first encounters with them re-scripted with all-new artwork! Peter Parker has to juggle all these villains while maintaining the highest GPA in school and struggling to make money to help his Aunt May pay the mortgage and health care bills. But, things are looking up! He manages to get a job taking photographs of himself as Spider-Man for J. Jonah Jameson of the Daily Bugle newspaper. There’s even a cute secretary named Betty Brant there that, amazingly enough, seems to be developing a crush on Peter … and now Liz, at school, is talking to him, as well. But, it can’t be all good news … he’s still looked down on by many of his classmates, especially the jock, Flash Thompson who seems to be after Liz, himself. But, that’s the fun of Spider-Man – experiencing the highs and the lows with this relatable character.

The Bad: I’ve already experienced these stories from the first time around, so the “surprises” that a new reader would discover aren’t so surprising.

the Good: This series takes the original classics created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and updates them for a new generation. The script is fresh and reflects the way people actually talk today. The artwork is superb and enhanced by it’s brilliant coloring! These issues completely adapt the original 21 issues of the Amazing Spider-Man, great reads that laid the foundation for one of the most enduring comic book characters.

The Verdict: This is a wonderful way to experience (or re-experience) the early adventures of Spider-Man. The stories capture the high energy and fun and are a perfect reminder of what has made Spider-Man such a beloved character.

On Ebay: Spider-Man | Marvel Age | Todd Dezago

 
 

Famous Fanmail #12 Pete Von Sholly

24 Jun

You may not be surprised to learn that most people in the comic business grew up reading comic books. However, you might be interested in knowing what they were reading. Here’s a look at “Famous Fanmail”!

Pete Von Sholly has written and illustrated a few comics through the years. His credits range from Zero (an underground book from the 1970s) to some stories in Dark Horse Presents in 2000. The bulk of his professional work is storyboard/design for movies. His IMDB profile lists over 50 works including Nightmare on Elm Street 4, the Mask, Mars Attacks, and the Cat in the Hat. Prior to all that, he got a letter printed in Thor #131 (cover date – August 1966)

Thor letters page with Pete Von Sholly

On Ebay: Thor | Pete Von Sholly

 

Celebrity Cameos #3 Chris Farley

23 Jun

Some of the best parts of movies like Old School and Zombieland are their unexpected celebrity cameos. The same thing happens in comics, every once in a while. Here’s a look at another Celebrity Cameo!

In the 1990s, the “bad girl” genre of comics exploded and publishers like Chaos! Comics, High Impact and Lightning Comics sprang up to take advantage of its popularity. Another such company was London Night Studios, publisher of Razor, Strike and Poizon.

The cover of the second issue of Poizon: Cadillacs and Green Tomatoes displays the title character in a police line-up alongside basketballer Dennis Rodman (in drag), shock-jockey Howard Stern and comedian Chris Farley (who was still alive at the time of publication).

On Ebay: Poizon

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #12 Mid Ohio Con Program

22 Jun

After looking at hundreds of comic book covers, it becomes quickly apparent that not every cover is 100% original. Whether done intentionally or even underhandedly, there’s something about uncovering these “swipes” that adds a new element of fun to reading and collecting comics.

Many comic book conventions have informative program guides to let you know what’s going on there. And, oftentimes, larger conventions will hire professional comics artist to provide new artwork for the guide’s cover (and sometimes interiors). In this case, the Mid Ohio Con got John Byrne to draw a large group of Marvel super-heroes … and then got Chris Giarrusso to swipe the image in his very own ‘Mini-Marvels’ style.

Mid Ohio Con 2008 front cover
Mid Ohio Con 2008 Program
John Byrne
Mid Ohio Con 2008 backcover
Mid Ohio Con 2008 Program
Chris Giarrusso

On Ebay: John Byrne | Chris Giarrusso

 

One-Shot at Greatness #12 Bruce Wayne, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

21 Jun

Because publishers want you to buy their product every month, comics are typically serial in nature. However, occasionally (and more often nowadays than ever before) publishers launch a comic title that is only meant to last for one issue. While ongoing series often have multiple chances to hook in new readers, the comics highlighted in this ongoing investigations only had One-Shot At Greatness!

Bruce Wayne, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.Publisher: Amalgam Comics
Cover Date: April 1996
Cover Price: $1.95
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Cary Nord

When the DC and Marvel Universes merged in Marvel vs DC, a new one was created: the Amalgam Universe. This one-shot invisioned Bruce Wayne (Batman’s alter ego) as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

In this tale, the Green Skull is deposed as ruler of Hydra by his daughter and her lackeys. Meanwhile, against Nick Fury’s orders, the loose cannon S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Bruce Wayne, has an assault against Hydra planned. In the invasion, both sides learn that the Skull’s last move was to set in motion a doomsday device that can’t be stopped. And, as it goes off in the last page, the question begging to be asked is “how far-reaching are its effects; and can our heroes possibly survive it?”

This is a quick, action action action read. Lots of cool characters thrown in on both sides of the book. The heroes have got Bruce Wayne, Nick Fury, Sgt. Rock, Moonwing (Moon Knight/Nightwing) and Huntress (Barbara Gordon). On the eeeeeeeeevil side we’ve got the Green Skull, Madam Hydra (Selina Luthor), a Mr. Freeze/Baron Strucker combo, a Nuke/Bane combo and Deathlok (the brought-back-from-the-dead Jason Todd cyborg). I wasn’t overly impressed with Nord’s art here but, long-time comic fans are sure to appreciate the amount of combo characters created here. And, even though it’s extremely action-oriented, the story hints at a lot of characterization, as well … including a romance between Wayne and Huntress … and the circumstances that led to Jason Todd’s death. The last page ends on a cliffhanger that’d make me want to read the next issue, which qualifies it as a success in my book.

On Ebay: Amalgam | Chuck Dixon | Cary Nord
On AtomicAvenue: Amalgam Comics

 

Minimate Spotlight #7 Salaak

19 Jun

Action figures have long been a perfect compliment to comic books, since every kid (or kid at heart) has that natural desire to act out adventures with their favorite heroes off the drawn page. Every so often, a unique style of figure comes along that breaks the mold, so to speak. Each Saturday, Donny B will be showcasing various offerings from Art Asylum’s take on the ‘block figure’, with a weekly spotlight on Minimates.

The upcoming Green Lantern movie is gaining steam, and Ryan Reynolds’ portrayal of DC’s lead GL (Hal Jordan) is causing a buzz. But Hal Jordan isn’t the only character in DC Comics’ library to hold the title of Green Lantern. In fact, you may be more familiar with John Stewart or Kyle Rayner, and the list doesn’t end with human Green Lanterns protecting Earth. The Green Lantern Corps stretches across the universe, boasting members from countless alien races. One such member is the four-armed Slyggiarian known as Salaak.

Art Asylum has flexed their artistic muscles many times over the years, crafting unique looks for certain characters that are very distinct, yet still clearly identifiable as Minimates. This is no exception – in fact, some argue that this one Minimate is AA’s best offering in the “non-traditional Minimate” category.

Behind the Image:

 I love playing around with Lighting. To achieve the look of this image, I used a traditional lamp, along with smaller blue and yellow lights to illuminate Salaak. For the background, I used one lamp with a green tinted bulb on a crumpled up black sheet (to give it an unusual texture). Simple, but effective.

On Ebay: Green Lantern