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Archive for June, 2011

Famous Fanmail #65 Damage Control

30 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”!

When New York’s super-heroes and villains destroy the city during their battles, Damage Control cleans up the mess. But, even these guys couldn’t stop Mighty Mouse’s book from being canceled. As a marketing ploy, they got a letter published in Mighty Mouse#10 (cover date – July 1991). When this was published, their third series was already on its second issue.

Mighty Mouse letters page with Damage Control

On Ebay: Mighty Mouse | Damage Control
On AtomicAvenue: Mighty Mouse | Damage Control

 

Connecting Covers #1 Spider-Man

29 Jun

A fun aspect of comic books is that sometimes their covers combine to make an even larger image. Here’s a look at some connecting covers.

In this Secret Wars II tie-in story, the Beyonder turns an entire building into solid gold! Naturally, if this much gold hit the open market, it would dramatically increase supply. And, without a matched increase in demand, it would destroy the world’s economy. In order to clean up the mess, the U.S. Government seeks the assistance of …. the Kingpin?!

Spider-Man Secret Wars gold building

On Ebay: Spider-Man
On AtomicAvenue: Spider-Man

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #65 Avengers

28 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.

The Secret Invasion tie-ins were filled with classic cover swipes. This one looks to a bronze age Avengers story guest-starring Captain Marvel.

Avengers #89
Avengers #89
June 1971
Sal Buscema
Mighty Avengers #19
Mighty Avengers #19
December 2008
Marko Djurdjevic

On Ebay: Avengers | Ant-Man | Secret Invasion
On AtomicAvenue: Avengers | Secret Invasion | Tales to Astonish

 

One-Shot At Greatness #65 Mangaverse: FF

27 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!

Mavel Mangaverse: Fantastic Four #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 2002
Cover Price: $2.25
Writer: Adam Warren
Artist: Keron Grant

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

The Baxter Building’s Metatalent team (including Assistant Director Agatha Harkness, Technician Alicia Masters and Acting Director Reed Richards) has detected an invading alien lifeform. They’ve codenamed it Annihilus and dispatched their field unit against it. Using their Metatalent Augmentation Suits, they attack the alien individually. Jonatha Storm destroys the alien first using her superheated gases and plasmas but Annihilus is somehow instantly reconstituted and defeats her. The same goes for Sioux Storm and her invisible force fields and then for Benjamin (pronounced Ben-Ya-Meen) Grimm and his armature made up of rocky materials. Finally, Reed uses his intelligence to figure out a way to finally destroy the alien lifeform.

As a Fantastic Four story, this book is just terrible. There’s no family interconnection to be had. The characters are totally unrelatable: Jonatha is impulsive. Sioux’s an introvert. Benjamin lacks the confidence he’s known for and Reed is a jerk. As for the villain, the once-great Annihilus is reduced to a mute, motivation-less invading alien. The manga-inspired art is pretty nice but even then, the color palette is just too dark for a Fantastic Four book. The only thing I really enjoyed was the character interviews that gave each FF member a chance to analyze the other. That part was fun but, if you’re an FF fan, I’d stay far away from this one. Adam Warren fans, on the other hand, might dig it!

On Ebay: Mangaverse | Adam Warren
On AtomicAvenue: Mangaverse

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #14

24 Jun

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 #14
Cover Date: Early March 1989 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Javier Saltares


Colossus in “God’s Country” part 5
written by Ann Nocenti
art by Rick Leonardi

 
Colossus captures one of the attackers and brings her back into the house. She reveals that they call themselves the Cold Warriors - and she’s named Number Six. The Cold Warriors are a team of cybernetically-enhanced C.I.A. agents charged with keeping America free of terrorists. She noted that her leader, Alexander, has a strong fear of the media and since they saw a secret murder in the park, the Cold Warriors have been sent to wipe out all witnesses. Number Six says that she sympathizes with Colossus and the family. She reveals secrets and details about the Cold Warriors – enough to bring them down within the necessary 5 hour window. But, if Colossus is going to go into battle against them, he’ll have to trust Number Six with the family’s safety.

Black Panther in “Panther’s Quest” part 2
written by Don McGregor
art by Gene Colan

 
In whispered conversation, Patrick Slade demands money from the Black Panther in exchange for information about his long-lost mother, Ramonda. Tempting the Panther to produce the cash, Slade offers tidbits and warnings that he won’t like what he’s about to hear. And, while his mind wandered and contemplated all the scenarios of reuniting with his mother, the Panther was caught unawares by an advancing troop of mercs.

Speedball in “the Feathered Felon
written by Steve Ditko with Jo Duffy
art by Steve Ditko

 
The Feathered Felon steals important documents from D.A. Justin Baldwin and it’s up to his son, Speedball, to recover them!

Nomad in “Angel in the Snow
written by Fabian Nicieza
art by Larry Alexander

 
When Nomad discovers one of his informants is dead, he sets out to avenge her death by taking down her killer, Umberto Safilios, el Corazon del Cuchillo. But, before he gets the chance, he learns that this drug-runner has some ties to the government. And, the government looks after its own.

Wow! This cover art features a strangely proportioned Colossus!

The Speedball feature was done by the same team that was behind his ongoing series, which was being published at the same time this issue hit the stands. And, it fits in flawlessly with the rest of that series. Although, it should be noted that I don’t mean it as a compliment. This 8-page feature suffers from the same problems that ailed the series: uninteresting villains, no character development, plotting that would fit well in an Archie comic or 1970s Saturday morning cartoon, and artwork that looks like Ditko hasn’t progressed from his 1960s work (not to mention many panels don’t even have backgrounds!).

On a positive note, McGregor’s Black Panther story features some excellent soul-searching on the Panther’s behalf. The Colossus story is really picking up speed and Nicieza’s Nomad was great! It starts off with a pulpish feel and ends with a grating government conspiracy. One that may be a little more likely than we’d care to admit.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Colossus | Black Panther | Speedball | Nomad
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Colossus | Black Panther | Speedball | Nomad

 

Famous Fanmail #64 Bill and Ted

23 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”!

B.S. Preston, Esquire and T. “T.” Logan have had some Excellent and Bogus Adventures. You might know them better from their 1989 film as Bill and Ted. Interestingly enough, as a marketing ploy, they got a letter published in Mighty Mouse#10 (cover date – July 1991). Their series, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Comic Book, debuted in December, later that year. Interestingly enough, rumor has it that the original writer has completed the script to a third Bill and Ted film as of April 2011.

Keen observers will notice that our time-traveling pals, Bill and Ted, have dated this letter August of 1992 even though it was published in July of 1991.

Mighty Mouse letters page with Bill & Ted

On Ebay: Mighty Mouse | Bill and Ted
On AtomicAvenue: Mighty Mouse | Bill and Ted

 

Before They Were Comic Book Stars #11 Grant Morrison

22 Jun

Not every comic writer or artist starts at the top, working on books like Batman or X-Men. In fact, most don’t even start at Marvel or DC. Here’s a look at some work by comic book creators … before they were stars.

Near Myths #3 by Grant MorrisonGrant Morrison has written important and critically acclaimed runs on Animal Man, Doom Patrol, JLA, the X-Men as well as many others. He’s had notable creator-owned works including the Invisibles, WE3 and Zenith.

And, even though he’s well-known for his American comics work, his first published work was in the British anthology mag, Near Myths, in 1978. It also featured Bryan Talbot’s Luther Arkwright and work by Brian Lumley. Morrison’s contributions for this anthology include: Time Is A Four Lettered Word, Gideon Stargrave and Checkmate Man. It should be noted that not only is Morrison the writer for these features but, he’s also the artist!

On Ebay: Grant Morrison
On AtomicAvenue: Near Myths

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #64 Avengers

21 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.

The Secret Invasion tie-ins were filled with classic cover swipes. This cover takes its cue from the first appearance of Nick Fury as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. For that matter, it’s also the first appearance of S.H.I.E.L.D. BUT, it’s not the first appearance of Nick Fury. He debuted in his Sgt. Fury title (set during WWII) back in 1963.

Strange Tales #135
Strange Tales #135
August 1965
Jack Kirby
Mighty Avengers #18
Mighty Avengers #18
November 2008
Marko Djurdjevic

On Ebay: Avengers | Nick Fury | Secret Invasion
On AtomicAvenue: Avengers | Secret Invasion | Strange Tales | Nick Fury

 

One-Shot At Greatness #64 Dark Claw Adventures

20 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!

Dark Claw Adventures #1Publisher: Amalgam Comics
Cover Date: June 1997
Cover Price: $1.95
Writer: Ty Templeton
Artist: Templeton with Rick Burchett

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

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

After two years, Lady Talia (mix of Talia and Lady Deathstrike) has come face to face with the man who killer her father (Ra’s-A-Pocalypse). Interestingly enough, the man who killer her father is Dark Claw, her former lover. And, similarly, he has dreamed of coming face to face with the man who killed his father, as well. Now that she has him at her mercy, Talia must decide if getting revenge will be worth becoming a murderer.

The art style perfectly mimics the critically-acclaimed 1990s Batman cartoon series and the story delivers an interesting twist, considering both main characters are trying to come to terms with the same problem: what would happen if they met their father’s killer? This added importance of characterization puts this one-shot well above the previous Dark Claw comic from the year before.

On Ebay: Amalgam | Ty Templeton
On AtomicAvenue: Amalgam Comics

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #13

17 Jun

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 #13
Cover Date: Late February 1989 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Gene Colan


Colossus in “God’s Country” part 4
written by Ann Nocenti
art by Rick Leonardi

 
As Colossus is holed up in Bruce’s house with his family, their neighbors come out to start rumors about what’s going on in their home. Inside, Bruce (a Vietnam Vet) and Colossus (a former Soviet) debate the difference in rights offered by Russia and the USA. Come nightfall, the super-powered assailants from earlier in the story have launched an attack on the house.

Black Panther in “Panther’s Quest” part 1
written by Don McGregor
art by Gene Colan

 
A rumor has brought the Black Panther to South Africa. A rumor important enough for him to break international laws and sneak into another African country that probably wouldn’t recognize his authority as King of Wakanda. Inside, he meets with Patrick Slade, a seemingly unscrupulous man who’s offering more information for a price. The rumor? The Panther’s mother, Ramonda, (who he hasn’t seen since he was three) is alive!

Mr. Fantastic and the Invisible Woman in
Reed’s on the Roof and We Can’t Get Him Down
written by Chris Henderson
art by Mike Harris

 
Mr. Fantastic has lured a meteor to his home in the suburbs and damaged his roof. Now, he’s got to fill the role of suburban husband and fix the hole but, while he’s up there, he misteps and ends up hanging off the edge of the roof. Now, this would be no problem for Mr. Fantastic but, he’s got a secret identity to maintain. Soooooooooooooo … it’s the Invisible Woman to the rescue!

Shanna the She-Devil in “A Tooth For A Tooth
written by Bruce Jones
art by Bruce Jones

 
Philip Milford has taken his wife on an African Safari to hunt some wild game. Unfortunately for her, her continued annoyance is soon silenced by his rifle. He radios in to Nairobi Station to explain how a lion attacked his wife and in the struggle, she was accidentally shot. So, the station dispatches Shanna to look into the situation. Will her knowledge of Africa uncover the true murderer?

This issue launches MCP’s most ambitious storyline: Panther’s Quest. It’s 25 chapters and I get the feeling that the amount of space it’s given will allow it plenty of time to effectively strike some emotional chords. Continuing in that theme is the Colossus feature, which is successfully reaching for some interesting comparisons of political and governmental systems.

The Fantastic Four story takes place during one of my favorite eras of the team: when the Thing (in his “Pineapple Thing” form) was the leader and Reed & Sue left for the suburbs. What I’d forgotten was that they actually established secret identities (funny concept: the FF being able to hide their faces … considering they’re celebrities in the Marvel Universe, this would really be near-impossible). However, despite the ridiculous concept of them with secret IDs, it provided the basis for this fun story that I’m sure married men and women will appreciate all the more.

Shanna’s story was a little bland, anti-climatic and far-reaching (the “conservation” message wasn’t given enough room to bloom in only eight pages) but it had some nice-looking art.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Colossus | Black Panther | Fantastic Four | Shanna
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Colossus | Black Panther | Fantastic Four | Shanna