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Archive for May, 2011

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #61 Avengers

31 May

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.

The Secret Invasion tie-ins were filled with classic cover swipes.

Avengers #213
Avengers #213
November 1981
Bob Hall
Mighty Avengers #15
Mighty Avengers #15
August 2008
Marko Djurdjevic

On Ebay: Avengers | Secret Invasion
On AtomicAvenue: Avengers | Secret Invasion

 

One-Shot At Greatness #61 Avengers Assemble

30 May

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!

Mavel Mangaverse: Avengers Assemble! #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 2002
Cover Price: $2.25
Writer: Ken Siu-Chong
Artist: UDON

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

With the threat of the Hulk (see Marvel Mangaverse: Eternity Twilight) looming large, Tony Stark decides to unleash his greatest weapon. It’s a force so powerful that he’s even kept the secret from his Avengers, lest the villain, Apocalypse, would discover its existence. But, the Hulk’s destruction now outweighs the danger of Apocalypse, so Stark has given the location of the “Iron Avengers” to his team (Captain America, Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, Vision). But, just as Tony feared, Apocalypse does learn of the weapons’ location, and he dispatches his team of villains to secure the “Iron Avengers” Mech Vehicles. However, the Avengers make short work of Apocalypse’s team (Sinister, White Queen, Juggernaut, and Archangel). They say that if you want something done right, then you should do it yourself, so Apocalypse, himself, takes on the Avengers. But, the Iron Avengers utilize their super-secret ability to combine into a giant mech-warrior (think Voltron) and they manage to defeat their arch-nemesis. Next up? The Hulk!

This one-shot fits right between the Marvel Mangaverse bookend one-shots, and takes the phrase “Avengers Assemble!” to a whole new level. It’s a standard action-adventure romp with little room for character development but the upside is getting a look at all these newly redesigned characters. It’s fun to see them all through a manga-inspired lens. My biggest complaint is that putting super-heroes in mech-suits kind of defeats the purpose and fun of these heroes having super-powers.

On Ebay: Mangaverse | UDON
On AtomicAvenue: Mangaverse

 

Minimate Spotlight #54

28 May

and now a word from our sponsor….

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #10

27 May

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 #10
Cover Date: Early January 1989 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Mike Harris


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

 
In this final chapter, Tyger Tiger and Wolverine are engaged in final battle with Roche. Wolverine takes a shotgun blast to the chest and in a vengeful rage, the Tyger beheads Roche. She leaves Logan – assuming he’s been killed – and takes over as Madripoor’s crimelord. Days later, Wolverine (all healed up now!) meets with the Tyger, at the Princess Bar, to let her know that if she crosses the line and becomes an “evil crimelord” that he’ll be there to take her down – just as Roche was.

Man-Thing in “Elements of Terror” part 10
written by Steve Gerber
art by Tom Sutton

 
The freshly mutated Colonel Choate seems to have still retained his higher-brain functions even though his body has become grossly distorted. He intends to bring other Super Soldier mutates to Moscow, to destroy “the very heart of evil in the world”.

Machine Man in “Meets the F.F.
written by Steve Ditko with Mike Rockwitz
art by Steve Ditko

 
A klunky looking robot wants Machine Man‘s advanced body for his own! But, you can bet our hero, aka Aaron Stack, isn’t going to let that happen without a fight.

Colossus in “God’s Country” part 1
written by Ann Nocenti
art by Rick Leonardi

 
Colossus is torn between two worlds: the suppressive Russian culture that he was raised in and the exploitative American one he now lives in. And, while contemplating these differences in a local park, he stumbles upon an American family picnicking. And, while he observes them from a distance, the boy wanders off into the woods where he’s witness to a man being bound and beaten by several others.

The Wolverine story asked an interesting question. Clearly Roche was an evil “crimelord” but, could his successor, Tyger Tiger, rule over Madripoor’s criminal underbelly but still keep her hands relatively clean? In addition, this tale debuted Wolverine’s Madripoor identity, Patch (characterized by the eyepatch he wears there).

The Machine Man story was very bland (as was most of Ditko’s run on Machine Man , as I recall) but, the Colossus feature seems like it’ll focus on some great characterization.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Man-Thing | Machine Man | Colossus
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Man-Thing | Machine Man | Colossus

 

Famous Fanmail #60 Todd McFarlane

26 May

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”!

If you don’t know who Todd McFarlane is … then you probably aren’t into comics. He revolutionized Spider-Man’s look in the late 1980s, launched a mega-selling Spider-Man #1, created Spawn and launched a popular toy manufacturer. He got a letter published in Superman#366 (cover date – December 1981), at the age of 20.

Superman letters page with Todd McFarlane

On Ebay: Superman | Todd McFarlane
On AtomicAvenue: Superman

 

Celebrity Cameos #19 Blues Brothers

25 May

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 X-Factor Annual #4, the Blue Brothers embark on an investigation to uncover the truth behind the events of the X-Men crossover, Inferno.

On Ebay: X-Factor
On AtomicAvenue: X-Factor

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #60 Thor

24 May

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.

The Super-Skrull is mainly a Fantastic Four villain but, on special occasions, other heroes get pitted against him. Even cooler than the Doom swipe is the swipe featured in the Hellboy movie. In the film, they show a Hellboy comic (that was never actually published) and it features a cover swipe of this very issue, illustrated by Mike Mignola.

Thor #142
Thor #142
July 1967
Jack Kirby
Doom 2099 #24
Doom 2099 #24
December 1994
Pat Broderick

On Ebay: Thor | Doom 2099
On AtomicAvenue: Thor | Doom 2099

 

One-Shot At Greatness #60 Challengers of the Fantastic

23 May

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!

Challengers of the Fantastic #1Publisher: Amalgam Comics
Cover Date: June 1997
Cover Price: $1.95
Writer: Karl Kesel
Artist: Tom Grummett

When the DC and Marvel Universes merged in Marvel vs DC, a new one was created: the Amalgam Universe. This one-shot combined Man-Bat with Man-Thing.

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Four adventurers who survived a space shuttle crash landing decided to band together to be the world’s great death-cheaters, the Challengers of the Fantastic! Now, a crisis threatens their world and Uatu, the Guardian has approached them to warn them of their impending doom. The Silver Racer heralds the coming of Galactiac, who is preparing to consume all of the life forces of planet Earth. Only the Challengers of the Fantastic will be able to stop the world-eater … but his defeat will come with a steep price: the death of a Challenger!

In this issue, Kesel puts a different, DC spin on one of the Fantastic Four’s most classic storylines. There are plenty of similar story elements incorporated with a new element. For example, Galactiac mutates Ben Grimm into his Thing form and there’s a Punisher reference worked in (a nod to one of Galactus’ enforcers). Again, John Storm is called away by Uatu with a fun word play that mentions the Ultimate Nullifier. Doctor Doomsday is seen posessing the power of the Silver Racer and, so on and so forth. Grummett’s art is in classic-FF style … and to be honest, with all this said, it doesn’t seem like there’s much left to be taken from the Challengers mythos. Which is fine with me, as I’m a Marvel fan through and through.

On Ebay: Amalgam | Karl Kesel | Tom Grummett
On AtomicAvenue: Amalgam Comics

 

Minimate Spotlight #53 Darkclaw

21 May

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.

Several weeks ago, I showcased one of my more recent attempts at creating a custom Minimate. This week, I’m putting the focus on the custom work of another artist with an image of a hand-made Darkclaw Minimate.

This masterpiece was made by Fujis (of Minimate Headquarters fame), and expertly recreates the Amalgam of Wolverine and Batman into Minimate form.
Since all of the characters in the Amalgam Universe share a license between Marvel Comics and DC Comics, getting through the red tape in order to produce toys of those properties would be a logistical nightmare. So if you want to see a Minimate of a character like Darkclaw, your only realistic bet is to create (or commission) a custom.

And as far as custom Minimates go, I’d have to say that this one matches whatever a professional company could produce! 

Behind the Image:

Since Fujis did such a standup job creating this custom, I wanted to go a bit overboard in how I produced the image that showcased his work.
I set the ‘mate on top of a toy building, arranged some red lighting, took the photo, and then went nuts adding effects (namely the sky and the fog) in photoshop.

On Ebay: Amalgam, Darkclaw

On AtomicAvenue: Amalgam, Darkclaw

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #9

20 May

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 #9
Cover Date: Late December 1988 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Brian Murray


Wolverine in “Save the Tiger” part 9
written by Chris Claremont
art by John Buscema with Klaus Janson

 
In this penultimate chapter, Wolverine and Razorfist battle to the death! (Death? heh heh … this is comics, people – so you can be assured that Razorfist eventually pops up alive somewhere.) And, while that’s going on, the Tyger (Jessan Hoan) takes on the Inquisitor and Sapphire Styx. Next up? Roche!

Man-Thing in “Elements of Terror” part 9
written by Steve Gerber
art by Tom Sutton

 
The raid on the cultist base in Florida continues and the Man-Thing takes a missile – right to the chest! And now, all that’s left is his head. In Northern California, the mutated Senator Wycombe (who I guess we’re now calling Railsback) is raging against the prison he’s in. And, finally, Colonel Jody Choate prepares to be injected with the same defective Super Soldier Serum that has infected Wycombe.

Cloak in “In The Dark
written by Marc McLaurin
art by Tony Salmons

 
Cloak volunteers to save a girl that’s fallen down a well. But, when he gets there, he discovers she’s surrounded by the Molemen! He immediately attacks them only to later learn that they were trying to help her, as well. Moments later, a flash flood threatens to kill them all but Cloak envelopes them all and transports them to safety. The experience leaves him with a lot to ponder about what makes a “monster”.

el Aguila in “Piece of Cake!
written by Scott Lobdell
art by Larry Alexander

 
El Aguila returns to his home village in Spain to free it from the evil influence of el Conquistador. But, he quickly discovers that he’s outmatched in brute strength. He’ll have to utilize his intellect and bio-blast powers to free his town.

The two single-issue features included here are a great representation of how they can be done right … and wrong. El Aguila’s story is all action-oriented and does little else but spotlight a lesser-exposed Marvel hero. Cloak’s story, on the other hand, is all about creating a character moment – allowing for character (and reader) introspection.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Man-Thing | Cloak and Dagger | el Aguila
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Man-Thing | Cloak