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Archive for May, 2011

Famous Fanmail #59 Popeye

19 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”!

Popeye the Sailor debuted in E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre on December 19, 1919. 62 years later, he got a letter published in Superman#366 (cover date – December 1981). Seems strange, doesn’t it? A cartoon/comic strip character getting a letter published? Well … yeah! So, what’s the story behind it all? I’m glad you asked.

You see, in 1973, comics writer Cary Bates created Captain Strong, DC’s version of Popeye, essentially allowing DC’s heroes to interact with Popeye the Sailor … or a reasonable facsimile, at least. And, what Popeye is referring to, in this letter, is his (Captain Strong’s) team-up with the “Man of Steel” in Superman #361.

Superman letters page with Popeye the Sailor

On Ebay: Superman | Popeye
On AtomicAvenue: Superman

 

Celebrity Cameos #18 Mayor Ed Koch

18 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!

After Avengers Mansion was destroyed, Tony Stark and the team donated the land to New York City. Mayor Ed Koch was there to extend his hand in appreciation in X-Factor #32.

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

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #59 Thor

17 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.

Beta Ray Bill‘s debut has been swiped a few times. In #451, it was done as an homage, bringing an important, new character (Bloodaxe) to the forefront. Later, in Thunderstrike, when the titular character gained control of Bloodaxe’s weapon, it corrupted the hero – leading to his death.

Thor #337
Thor #337
November 1983
Walter Simonson
Thor #451
Thor #451
September 1992
Ron Frenz
Thunderstrike #23
Thunderstrike #23
August 1995
Ron Frenz

On Ebay: Thor
On AtomicAvenue: Thor

 

One-Shot At Greatness #59 Black Knight

16 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!

Black Knight vol. III #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: January 2010
Cover Price: $3.99
Writer: Todd DeFalco
Artist: Ron Frenz

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Merlin discovers that Modred intends to locate the ebony blade, Chaos the Doombringer (the evil twin sword to mighty Excalibur), in an attempt to overthrow King Arthur and take the throne of Camelot. And so, the legendary wizard recruits Richard of Scandia to find the ebony blade first – and destroy it. Richard’s twin brother Percy, the minstrel, decides to come along on the quest and the two are met with witches, vampire bats, zombies and other dangers on their journey.

After securing the ebony blade, the twins bring it back to Scandia, where Merlin commands them to destroy it. However, now wielding the blade, Percy finds himself strongly influenced by its evil and he decides to hold on to it for a while. Later, while walking through a darkened alley, he’s attacked by Modred’s men, attempting to steal the sword for their master. Richard and Merlin arrive at the battle … but, not soon enough to stop Percy from being slain. The surviving twin takes up the ebony blade and manages to defeat the evil forces. Afterwards, Richard decides to implement a ruse where he will pretend to be his slain brother, Percy. And, brandishing the ebony blade (against Merlin’s wishes), he vows to use it to protect King Arthur and his throne.

Holy retcon, Batman! Sooooooooooo, the original Black Knight (who had his own series in 1955; of which, this issue is a prequel to) was not really Sir Percy of Scandia … but his warrior brother?! Wow! That’s quite a change made to a story that was published well over 50 years ago. Retcon aside, it’s a fun adventure story with great, classic-style art by Frenz that fits the tale (and its prequel status) perfectly. There’s a lot of story told here and it adds an interesting twist to a very early part of Marvel’s history.

On Ebay: Black Knight | Tom DeFalco | Ron Frenz
On AtomicAvenue: Black Knight

 

Minimate Spotlight #52 Thor Movie

14 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.

Well, the Thor movie is out and rocking the box office. I think that garners one last look at the Thor Moviemates, don’t you? ;)

We’ve spent a few weeks looking at various Minimate offerings based on the film’s portrayal of the main characters, which Art Asylum took great care in producing. It was tough narrowing down which figures to do features on, since just about all of them were extremely well made.
In the end, I decided to showcase the most prominently fantastic looking releases (leaving out Civilian Thor, Jane Foster, and Agent Coulson, among others) … and so, to wrap up our 4 week-long spotlight on the Thor Moviemates, here is none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Thor’s super powerful daddy: Odin.

Behind the Image:

Here’s my first Thor Moviemate image that isn’t a straight-forward-photograph. I actually tried doing this as a non-photoshopped project, but I couldn’t get it to work right. So in the end, I placed Odin on a sheet of yellow construction paper, took a pic, and then superimposed it onto the background image, which I pulled off the internet. It took like 5 minutes ;)

On Ebay: Thor
On AtomicAvenue: Thor

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #8

13 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 #8
Cover Date: Early December 1988 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Charles Vess


Wolverine in “Save the Tiger” part 8
written by Chris Claremont
art by John Buscema with Klaus Janson

 
Wolverine and the Tyger invade Roche’s stronghold to rescue O’Donnell. The Tiger takes on Sapphire Styx while Wolverine comes face to face with Razorfist!

Man-Thing in “Elements of Terror” part 8
written by Steve Gerber
art by Tom Sutton

 
As the assault on Marea’s den continues, the Man-Thing lunges into action, destroying the attacking commando unit. And, over in California, the mutated experiment formerly known as Senator Wycombe rages against the metal prison he’s locked within.

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

 
In this concluding chapter, Shang-Chi has his final showdown against Argus, the terrorist leader who claims to have killed Leiko Wu. Our hero comes out the victor but, not before Argus infects him with a chemical agent that will eventually kill him. With the villain beaten, Shang-Chi discovers that Leiko Wu is still alive – the story of her death was no doubt intended to throw off Shang-Chi’s mental state.

Iron Man in “One Day At A Time
written by Sholly Fisch
art by Javier Saltares and Chris Ivy

 
Tony Stark explains to his AA meeting how he’s used the principles he’s learned. He tells them that he created a problem and then used his AA lessons and support to devise a way to solve it, instead of just giving up. Now, what the other AA members don’t realize is that Tony Stark is actually Iron Man. The problem he created was accidentally summoning Zzzax but, he didn’t give in to the energy-based villain. Instead, he devised a way to short circuit the electrical monster.

This issue marks the first conclusion of one of MCP’s multiple part storylines. The Shang-Chi story provided a powerful impetus for bringing the Master of Kung Fu out of retirement. Not only did he save his former flame’s life but, he took down a terrorist organization (with the help of the Cat and other friends). It also established a new (although, mostly familiar) status quo for our hero – the “new” part is that he’s now infected with a chemical agent that will supposedly kill him within a year. Fortunately, his next appearance in Master of Kung Fu: Bleeding Black, addressed the issue of the slow-acting poison.

As for the Iron Man story, I’ve got to say that I’m typically fond of stories like this – where the narration is similar to what’s actually going on but, still vastly different (or at least, not fully developed, intentionally). And, from a Marvel history point of view, this story is quite important as it establishes the separation of General “Thunderbolt” Ross from Zzzax (which was initiated in Incredible Hulk #327).

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

 

Famous Fanmail #58 Michael T. Gilbert

12 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”!

Michael T. Gilbert is best known for his reimagined hero (and now the more prominent version), Doc Stearn … Mr. Monster! But, before that he was an indy comic creator known for his creation, the Wraith (a parody of Will Eisner’s the Spirit). It was at this time in his life that he got a letter published in Cerebus the Aardvark #5 (cover date – August 1978). He also included a sketch pairing the Wraith with Cerebus.

Cerebus the Aardvark letters page with Michael T. Gilbert

On Ebay: Cerebus | Michael T. Gilbert
On AtomicAvenue: Cerebus

 

Celebrity Cameos #17 President Reagan

11 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!

Through Apocalypse‘s video monitoring screen, we are witness to President Ronald Reagan signing the Mutant Registration Act into law in X-Factor #25.

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

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #58 Thor

10 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.

It may seem strange but, the first comic titled Thor was issue #126 (not #1!). You see, he first debuted in Journey Into Mystery #83 and continued to be the main feature in that title until it was officially renamed Thor in 1966. This book featured a battle with the Olympian demi-god, Hercules and has gone on to be homaged many times over the following years.

Thor #126
Thor #126
March 1966
Jack Kirby
Thor #338
Thor #338
December 1983
Walter Simonson
Thor #429
Thor #429
February 1991
Ron Frenz
Thor #458
Thor #458
January 1993
Ron Frenz
Thunderstrike #10
Thunderstrike #10
July 1994
Ron Frenz
Hero Squared vol. II #4
Hero Squared vol. II #4
November 2006
Joe Abraham
Incredible Hercules #113
Incredible Hercules #113
February 2008
Art Adams
Avengers vol. IV #5 Super Hero Squad Variant
Avengers vol. IV #5 Super Hero Squad Variant
November 2010
 

On Ebay: Thor
On AtomicAvenue: Thor

 

One-Shot At Greatness #58 Thunderbolts from the Vault

09 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!

Thunderbolts: From the Marvel Vault #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: June 2011
Cover Price: $2.99
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Derec Aucoin

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

This tale takes during Nicieza’s original run on the Thunderbolts, after Scourge’s identity was revealed to be Jack Monroe (aka Nomad). Utilizing his image inducer, Jack hits the road to learn about the past of some Thunderbolt members from their friends, families, neighbors, etc. As he progresses from town to town, he uncovers some interesting insight into the motivation and history of Songbird, Moonstone, Atlas and Mach-IV. Afterwards, he meets up with Rock Python (another villain-gone-straight) and he encourages him to stay on the straight and narrow path.

As a Thunderbolts fan, it was fun for me to see this “lost tale”. At first, it took me a while to get into the groove of things (after all, I hadn’t read this run in nearly 10 years!) but, once I did it was great to experience some unseen insight into these characters I had once followed. It also set up a new angle for Jack Monroe as a nomad wandering from town to town, helping villains redeem themselves. Unfortunately, this direction was never followed up on but, it’s a cool look into what might have been.

On Ebay: Thunderbolts | Fabian Nicieza | Derec Aucoin
On AtomicAvenue: Thunderbolts