RSS
 

Archive for November, 2011

Connecting Covers #9 Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers

30 Nov

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.

The Runaways and the Young Avengers were given a mini-series to explore their part in the Secret Invasion. All three covers by Michael Ryan combine to make one image.

Secret Invasion: Runaways/Young Avengers #1 2 3

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

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #87 Avengers

29 Nov

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.

Avengers #87 revealed the origin of the Black Panther and, years later it’s cover was paid homage by Arthur Suydam’s “zombiefied” cover to Black Panther vol. IV #29.

Avengers #87
Avengers #87
April 1971
John Buscema
Black Panther vol. IV #29
Black Panther vol. IV #29
August 2007
Arthur Suydam

On Ebay: Avengers | Black Panther
On AtomicAvenue: Avengers | Black Panther

 

One-Shot At Greatness #87 Cyclops

28 Nov

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!

Cyclops vol. II #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: May 2011
Cover Price: $2.99
Writer: Lee Black
Artist: Dean Haspiel

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Cyclops‘ latest sulkfest is interrupted by the path of destruction caused by Batroc the Leaper and the Circus of Crime as they race back to report to their new, mysterious leader. Cyclops hops on to a stolen (ok … borrowed) bicycle and tracks down the villains. He quickly dispatches them with his optic blast but can he defeat their boss (spoiler: It’s Baron Zemo XII) without the aid of his fellow X-Men?

If you’re missing the classic version of Cyclops (less cocky and more inexperienced … but still very straight-laced) or you’re just jonesing for some classic “silver-age” style fun, then this is the book for you. Black and Haspiel evoke the early days of Marvel but they execute it with modern storytelling – the best of both worlds! And hey! How about that Roger Cruz cover?

On Ebay: Cyclops
On AtomicAvenue: Cyclops

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #37

25 Nov

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 #37
Cover Date: Late December 1989 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Dave Cockrum


Excalibur in “Having A Wild Weekend” part 7
written by Michael Higgins
art by Erik Larsen

Lockheed and Widget wake to find themselves dressed as Sherlock Holmes and Watson, hot on the trail of a dastardly villain! Meanwhile, Kitty Pryde finds a way to free them and Captain Britain from their confinements AND put the Loonies to sleep using the poppies from one of the prisons. Next up?! Time to take down the mastermind behind all of these … Murderworlds! (Oh, c’mon! You’ve gotta know who it is by now, don’tcha?)

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

Black Panther narrowly escapes being drowned by Elmer Gore and manages to turn the fight around, defeating the mercenary. Finally, he can make his way, unfettered, into the mansion of Anton Pretorius (South African Magistrate of Communications) who is holding the Panther’s long-lost mother, Ramonda. He breaks in through a window to find his mother chained to a bedpost, the object of affection for Pretorius. The secret object, that is. For, surely, interracial love was forbidden in South Africa, at the time. Especially amongst high-ranking officials! Ramonda reveals that the letter she wrote was meant to protect him and that it did not reveal her true feelings. Like any real mother, she longed to be reunited with her son. And, now, with Anton easily defeated, they are!

Devil-Slayer in “To Slay The Devil
written by Dwight Zimmerman
art by Rodney Ramos

Balthazar and a horde of other demons have lured Devil-Slayer into a trap, surrounding him within a night club. As their plot is exposed, he reaches into his shadow cloak and draws … Dragonfang! It’s Valkyrie’s sword – but for him to possess the sword, it must mean that she has died! He puts the thought aside, but, as the battle against a horde of demons continues, he finds his cloak is being controlled by an outside force. It transports him and the horde to the Border of the Land of the Dead where he encounters statues of Valkyrie, the Interloper, Manslaughter and Andromeda (their remains were left behind in New Defenders #152 – the final issue). After dispatching Balthazar and the other demons, Devil-Slayer determines that Dragonfang has transported him to this land to be reunited with its master’s remains.

With this issue, the longest story in MCP history draws to its end. Although, it really only signifies the beginning … the start of the healing process for the Black Panther’s relationship with his mother. At times, this story really seemed to drag on (to be fair, it is 216 pages in total). It expanded scenes that could have been handled in one page, into an 8-page tale. To be fair, it gave McGregor a chance to delve deep into the Panther’s mental-processes and revealed the thought or instincts behind his every move. Aside from being an important part of the Panther’s history, it also served to make the reader aware of how things were in South Africa. It was given the opportunity and allowed plenty of room in the story to show the plight of the black man, worked to death – and the white mercenaries ruling over them. This story was truly a shared feature – the unjust culture of South Africa was exposed and shared the spotlight equally with the Black Panther’s quest to find his mother.

As a continuity-junkie, I was excited to see that the Devil-Slayer story tied in well with the events of the last issue of the Defenders (or, New Defenders, as it was called, then). And, as a Marvel Zombie, I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I didn’t guess the identity of the Loonies’ boss (from the Excalibur feature) until Kitty Pryde called their prisons Murderworld.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Black Panther | Devil-Slayer | Excalibur
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Black Panther | Devil-Slayer | Excalibur

 

Famous Fanmail #86 Tony Isabella

24 Nov

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”!

Tony Isabella is a writer that had his hands on lots of titles from Marvel’s bronze age: Ghost Rider, the Champions, Power Man, Iron Man and Captain America. Here, he pokes fun at Marvel’s past storylines involving identity-swapping. This letter was published in Fantastic Four #77 (cover date – August 1968).

Fantastic Four letters page with Tony Isabella

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Tony Isabella
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four

 

Connecting Covers #8 Exiles

23 Nov

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.

The Exiles’ World Tour storyline finished up in the Heroes Reborn universe. The final two covers can be put side by side – although, I think (story-wise) they’re meant to be put face to face!

Exiles #81 82

On Ebay: Exiles
On AtomicAvenue: Exiles

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #86 Fantastic Four

22 Nov

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.

Fantastic Four #116 was a super-sized issue that saw Doctor Doom aligned with the Fantastic Four. Decades later it was fodder for another Suydam Marvel Zombies homage.

Fantastic Four #116
Fantastic Four #116
November 1971
John Buscema
Black Panther vol. IV #28
Black Panther vol. IV #28
July 2007
Arthur Suydam

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Black Panther
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four | Black Panther

 

One-Shot At Greatness #86 Ultimate Civil War: Spider-Ham

21 Nov

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!

Ultimate Civil War: Spider-Ham #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: March 2007
Cover Price: $2.99
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Mike Wieringo and more

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Spider-Ham goes on a trippy quest to locate his lost thought balloons. On his adventure, he gets caught in the middle of Marvel’s Civil War and then transported into space by Doctor Strange. Afterwards, he’s dropped into the Vietnam War which leads him to a portal that reveals some parallel heroes form his anthropomorphic version of the Marvel Universe including Wolverham, Iron Ham, and more. Doctor Strange scoops him back up and drops him off back to where the story started. And, finally, Spider-Ham finds thought balloons – he steals them from Spider-Rat! No … seriously!

This story was nearly 100% unenjoyable and almost totally incoherent. Its only redeeming quality was when it poked fun at Marvel’s newer policy of never using thought bubbles (and using narrative boxes, instead). There were quite a few pin-ups that were fun to look at by great artists including Skottie Young, Clayton Crain and Ariel Olivetti but not good enough to make up for the lousy story.

On Ebay: Spider-Ham
On AtomicAvenue: Spider-Ham

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #36

18 Nov

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 #36
Cover Date: December 1989 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Bill Sienkiewicz


Excalibur in “Having A Wild Weekend” part 6
written by Michael Higgins
art by Erik Larsen

Phoenix finds herself locked in a world of nothing but fire and flames. And, after a vision of the future-version of Kitty Pryde, she then finds herself in complete darkness. Outside the prisons, Kitty Pryde has reprogrammed one of the Loonies (Sylvester) to free her friend, Phoenix. By the end, nearly all of Excalibur has been freed – all but Captain Britain!


Black Panther in “Panther’s Quest” part 24
written by Don McGregor
art by Gene Colan

With his ankle caught in a trap, the Black Panther is easy prey for Pretorius’ advancing attack dog. The Panther frees himself just as the doberman jumps him. But, the animal is no match for the Warrior King of Wakanda. Advancing on the mansion where his mother is being held, the Panther must now fight his way through Gore, the mercenary.

Hellcat in “Encounter In The Alley Of Death
written by Jack Harris
art by June Brigman

Hellcat stumbles upon some thugs threatening a woman but, she isn’t able to prevent them from shooting her and running away. As she tends to the woman in her dying moments, Hellcat discovers that she was an undercover cop. She uses the cop’s received to lead her back to a pharmaceutical company where Dr. Bartley is developing profitable varieties of street drugs. With her athletic prowess, Hellcat is able to avenge the cop’s death and shut down the drug lab.

The Excalibur and Hellcat features were very bland, this issue I was quite disappointed by the Bill Sienkiewicz cover (and it’s not because I’m not a fan of his work, either). Black Panther’s feature was double-length this time and chock full of action!

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Black Panther | Hellcat | Excalibur
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Black Panther | Hellcat | Excalibur

 

Famous Fanmail #85 Don McGregor

17 Nov

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”!

Don McGregor has written a lot of comics. He’s also written a lot of good comics (an important distinction). Two of his most well-regarded runs were the Killraven features from Amazing Adventures (loosely based on H.G. Wells’ the War of the Worlds) and the Black Panther: Panther’s Rage storyline from Jungle Action. His graphic novel, Sabre: Slow Fade of an Endangered Species was actually published months before Will Eisner’s A Contract With God (which is widely considered “the first graphic novel”) and went on to later become an ongoing series. McGregor also went on to write non-super-hero comics, which was a bold move, at the time. He got a letter published in Fantastic Four #74 (cover date – May 1968).

Fantastic Four letters page with Don McGregor

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Don McGregor
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four