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Archive for March, 2011

Celebrity Cameos #15 Elvis Presley

30 Mar

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!

American Flagg vol. II #10 features a character that’s a mix between an Elvis Presley impersonator and a Catholic bishop. The cover includes even Elvis photos!

On Ebay: American Flagg
On AtomicAvenue: American Flagg

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #52 Fantastic Four

29 Mar

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.

Thor takes on a mystery villain in this homage to the Fantastic Four‘s first battle with the Hulk. Mystery villain? Oh, who am I kidding. This book is over 20 years old … It’s Annihilus! That adds another little twist to the reasoning behind it all since Annihilus debuted in Fantastic Four Annual #6.

Fantastic Four #12
Fantastic Four #12
March 1963
Jack Kirby
Thor #404
Thor #404
June 1989
Ron Frenz

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Thor
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four | Thor

 

One-Shot At Greatness #52 Curse of the Mutants – Blade

28 Mar

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!

X-Men: Curse of the Mutants - Blade #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 2010
Cover Price: $3.99
Writer: Dwayne Swierczynski
Artist: Tim Green

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Blade discovers that Xarus (the son of Dracula) has killed Dracula and is now slaughtering every vampire slayer! In an attempt to stop the new lord of vampires, Blade assembles a team of twelve remaining slayers to take on Xarus and his army of vampires. Unfortunately, for our heroes, they’re outnumbered by at least 8 to 1 and the only one to make it out alive is Blade. Afterwards, the “daywalker” moves to San Francisco because he fears Xarus’ next move is to convert an army of mutants into vampires.

This was kind of an inconsequential addition to the Curse of the Mutants storyline. Yeah, a bunch of characters got killed off – but were they important? Nope. In fact, I don’t remember seeing them in any of the other previous Blade series (and there have been five of them). So, they may have even been created just for this story – which certainly didn’t have enough room to make us care about eleven of them. Our main hero made it out alive – that’s what really matters to anyone reading this book. And, we know the villain’s next target – the X-Men (although if you’ve been reading any X-book recently, you probably already knew that). And, finally – while the cover looks excellent – the interior art leaves a lot to be desired … especially for a regular-sized comic priced at $3.99.

On Ebay: Curse of the Mutants | Blade | Dwayne Swierczynski
On AtomicAvenue: Blade

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #1

25 Mar

Marvel Comics Presents launched in 1988 as an ad-free anthology showcasing four eight-page features, stuffed inside a wrap-around cover. This guide will tell you everything you wanted to know about the series – and more!


Marvel Comics Presents #1
Cover Date: Early September 1988 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Walter Simonson


Wolverine in “Save the Tiger” part 1
written by Chris Claremont
art by John Buscema with Klaus Janson

 
Logan (Wolverine in plainclothes) wanders into Madripoor’s Princess Bar in the middle of a brawl and rescues some patrons including O’Donnell and Sapphire. A man named Dave Chapel sent Logan to find O’Donnell because he can help Logan find the Tiger. However, upon mentioning Chapel’s name, tension returns to the bar as everyone pulls their weapon out against Logan. His inquiry seems odd – especially knowing that “Chapel’s dead”!

Man-Thing in “Elements of Terror” part 1
written by Steve Gerber
art by Tom Sutton

 
A failed genetic experiment is loose in the Everglades – emitting plenty of negative emotions due to its now-malformed body. The empathic Man-Thing is drawn to the strong emotions and ends the creature’s life. Later, Zahner and Monteiro (the creature’s careless handlers) bid farewell to their boss, General Steel, after confirming the experimental creature’s death. Soon after, they’re attacked by a second experiment! Their fear draws the Man-Thing to the scene and they make their escape as the two monsters battle it out. Yet again, the Man-Thing emerges as the victor – but this time, it seems to be physically affected by contact with the creature.


Master of Kung Fu in “Crossing Lines” part 1
written by Doug Moench
art by Tom Grindberg with Dave Cockrum

 
Shang-Chi emerges out of retirement – feeling his time as a fisherman had been a waste. He puts himself out in the public eye as bait and discovers that there is still a bounty on his head. Even though his time in retirement has slowed him down, he still manages to defeat two of the assassins sent after him – although it takes more effort out of him than he would have hoped. The third assassin leads him on a chase that brings him to Oriental Expediters, Ltd where he is reuinted with his first love, Leiko Wu, as well as his former companions Black Jack Tarr and Clive Reston. The band is back together!

Silver Surfer in “Fear Itself
by Al Milgrom
 

 
Unsatisfied with feasting on the common fears of basic lifeforms, the alien Fear-Eater goes in search of unique creatures with unique fears. He targets the Silver Surfer with a barrage of mental conjurations intended to foster intense fear in the heart of the cosmic-powered hero. But, time and time again, the Silver Surfer proves his heroic mental state by overcoming each fear-inducing illustion and driving the Fear-Eater off in search of weaker prey.

The four characters that kicked off the first issue are certainly interesting choices especially since there’s not a Spider-Man feature to be seen! It’s hard to imagine, but at the time, Wolverine had never even had his own ongoing title (it launched a month later). The Man-Thing had rarely been seen since his second ongoing title was cancelled in 1981 – although, I imagine the reunion of the muck-monster with beloved writer, Steve Gerber, was cause for much fanboy jubilation. Likewise, bringing back the Master of Kung Fu by long-time writer, Doug Moench, was sure to make plenty of Shang-Chi fans happy since his last issue was published in 1983. Finally, the Silver Surfer was the only character featured in this issue that actually had his own ongoing title (it launched in 1987, a year earlier).

Note: The credits on the inside front cover mix up the creators of the Man-Thing and Master of Kung Fu features.

Note from the Finance Department: When this issue ($.0285/page) was published, other comics cost 75¢ for 22 pages of story ($.0341/page). So, even though this comic cost 25¢ more than the average comic, it’s price per page was actually 16% cheaper.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Man-Thing | Shang-Chi | Silver Surfer
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Man-Thing | Master of Kung Fu | Silver Surfer

 

Famous Fanmail #51 Beau Smith

24 Mar

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”!

Beau Smith has written Guy Gardner, the Black Terror, Wynonna Earp and many other comics over the past twenty years. He also served as IDW’s vice president of sales and marketing. He got a letter printed in Coyote #12 (cover date – May 1985), continuing his praises of the Djinn back-up feature.

Coyote letters page with Beau Smith

On Ebay: Coyote | Beau Smith
On AtomicAvenue: Coyote

 
 

Celebrity Cameos #14 Geraldo Rivera

23 Mar

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!

Geraldo Rivera can be seen prominently feature on the cover of Count Duckula #8 [August 1989]. Inside the book, they poke fun at his much-hyped The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults that fell far short of expectations.

On Ebay: Count Duckula
On AtomicAvenue: Count Duckula

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #51 New Mutants

22 Mar

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.

New X-Men ripped off the graveyard concept of a New Mutants comic published 20 years earlier.

New Mutants #38
New Mutants #38
April 1986
Art Adams
New X-Men vol. II #27
New X-Men vol. II #27
August 2006
Paco Medina

On Ebay: New Mutants | New X-Men
On AtomicAvenue: New Mutants | New X-Men

 

One-Shot At Greatness #51 Legacy of Evil

21 Mar

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!

Spider-Man: Legacy of Evil #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 1996
Cover Price: $3.95
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Mark Texeira

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Three Green Goblinettes kidnap young Norman Osborn (the original Green Goblin’s grandson) right in front of his mother (Liz Osborn), reporter Ben Urich, and Spider-Man. The silent villains left a telepathic message with Liz: they inted to bestow the Green Goblin legacy upon young Norman. As the issue progresses, Spider-Man, Liz, Ben and the Molten Man (Liz’s step-brother) track down old leads and shake down informants in an attempt to locate where the Goblinettes have taken the young boy. The heroes finally find the boy and are able to rescue his moments before he’s exposed to the formula that will warp him into the latest Green Goblin.

This is a beautifully painted Spider-Man tale that does a wonderful job of analyzing the past history of the Green Goblins – and even their spin-offs. It also moves the Goblin story forward – if even just a bit. After all, the Green Goblin persona is indeed one of the more prominent familial legacies in the Marvel Universe. Of course, a lot of this tale is kind of a moot point now that both Norman and Harry Osborn are back but, at the time this was published, they were both assumed dead for the long-haul. The end reveal of who was behind the Goblinettes was a bit of a letdown … although, at the time, there weren’t many other people that it could have been. I suppose the most lasting part of this story was that it showed the beginning of Ben Urich’s book that exposed the Green Goblin’s true identity to the world. This book has showed up quite a bit in Marvel continuity and it’s interesting to note that it got its start from this one-shot.

On Ebay: Spider-Man | Kurt Busiek | Mark Texeira
On AtomicAvenue: Spider-Man

 

Minimate Spotlight #44 Yuriko Aran

19 Mar

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.

Have you ever wanted a toy of a character that hasn’t been made? It happens all the time. Maybe a certain character is just too obscure for a company to justify the production cost. Maybe it’s tied up in red tape and will never see the light of day. Or maybe it’s something you created in your own mind.
It’s inevitable that any and every toy line will always be missing characters that some fan somewhere is dying to own.

So what is a collector to do?
The more creative ones turn to customizing. It’s an age-old tradition, where a fan takes a toy and tweaks it in some way.

Being an avid Minimate collector, I’ve obtained a modest number of custom ‘mates and occasionally even tried my hand at producing my own creations. It’s not an easy endeavor, and any amateur who can pump out a professional looking toy has earned my respect 1,000 fold.

This week’s image is my most recent custom, which is an amalgam of Lady Deathstrike (Yuriko Oyama) and Samus Aran (of the Metroid game series). I made it as part of a contest to design an ‘alternate universe’ version of any pre-existing Minimate. You can check the backstory here.

Behind the Image:

This is a straight up photograph – the wall is a mini diorama made specifically for use with Minimates (purchased from Luke’s Toy Store, though it is currently discontinued) and the fancy sky was thrown in via photoshop. I was tempted to digitally clean up some of the less-than-professional looking details on the Minimate itself, but I ended up opting to leave it as-is.

On Ebay: Lady Deathstrike
On AtomicAvenue: Wolverine

 

Retro-Read #50 Conspiracy

18 Mar

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: 2
First Issue: February 1998 ($2.99)
Last Issue: March 1998 ($2.99)
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Igor Kordey

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

A freak accident at the Daily Bugle leads Mark Ewing to discover files that lead open the door to a conspiracy theory that could be connected to the origins of nearly every Marvel super hero and villain. The theory suggests that a group called Control was secretly put together with members including Howard Stark, Bolivar Trask, General “Thunderbolt” Ross, and others. It purports that Control put together events that led to the “accidental” creation of the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Ant-Man, Iron Man, etc!

Ewing’s investigation leads him to bases and hideaways previously used by the Hulk, Thanos and others. Admittedly, the theory does sound too far-reaching. How could all of these events (created by all manner of experiments with unknown technology and forces) be controlled by one small group? Well, if there’s no truth to the concept … then why is S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to kill him?

The Bad: A series like this leaves you with a strong desire for a follow-up. A desire that will never be fulfilled.

the Good: Igor Kordey’s paintings are absolutely beautiful. He utilizes an excellent understanding of lighting and shadows.

The Verdict: What a great read! It’s told in a somewhat pulpish style and it touches base with a LOT of characters from the Marvel Universe. The theory laid out is an interesting one – was the creation of the Marvel Universe orchestrated by a small group of powerful people? This is no random shot in the dark, here. No! Abnett reaches deep into Marvel continuity and is able to proffer some interesting concepts that makes the claim plausible. And, lest you think it’s just two issues of conspiracy theories, the story also takes you on quite an adventure as the investigation unfolds. It’s a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat thriller and I want more!

On Ebay: Conspiracy | Dan Abnett | Igor Kordey
On AtomicAvenue: Conspiracy