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Archive for December, 2011

Famous Fanmail #91 Neil Armstrong

29 Dec

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”!

Fantastic Four #103 (cover date – October 1970) features a surly letter from Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon – and fellow astronauts “Buzz” Aldrin & Michael Collins. Was it really from them? Who knows?!

Fantastic Four letters page with Neil Armstrong

On Ebay: Fantastic Four
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four

 
 

Connecting Covers #11 Captain Marvel/Ms. Marvel

28 Dec

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 variant covers of Ms. Marvel vol. II #25 and Captain Marvel vol. VII #4 connect together to make one image. On the left, we’ve got Ms. Marvel in her current costume carrying Captain Marvel (in his first costume). And, on the right, we’ve got Captain Marvel in his current costume carrying Ms. Marvel (in her first costume). What a nifty sense of balance! Continuing the balancing act, each issue is written by Brian Reed and is a Secret Invasion tie-in.

Ms. Marvel vol. II #25 variant & Captain Marvel vol. VII #4 variant

On Ebay: Ms. Marvel | Captain Marvel
On AtomicAvenue: Ms. Marvel | Captain Marvel

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #91 Ms. Marvel

27 Dec

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.

This Aaron Lopresti zombie variant pays homage to the very first appearance of Ms. Marvel .

Ms. Marvel #1
Ms. Marvel #1
January 1977
John Romita, Sr.
Ms. Marvel vol. II #20 zombie variant
Ms. Marvel vol. II #20
December 2007
Aaron Lopresti

On Ebay: Ms. Marvel
On AtomicAvenue: Ms. Marvel

 

One-Shot At Greatness #91 Iceman and Angel

26 Dec

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!

Iceman and Angel #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: May 2011
Cover Price: $2.99
Writer: Brian Clevinger
Artist: Juan Doe

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Bobby and Warren are on spring break … in New York City … when Goom (the Thing From Planet X! Remember? from Tales of Suspense #15!) rises from the harbor and begins tearing through the Big Apple. Since there’s only two of them going up against a Godzilla-sized monster, their only hope is to delay it long enough for the Fantastic Four or the Avengers to show up. After all, Iceman (a guy that shoots ice) and the Angel (a guy with wings and no other powers) can’t stop the rampaging beast all by themselves … can they?

One of the fun parts of this “First Class” story is that Clevinger allows the characters to use dialogue that pokes fun at stories that will happen in their future. For example, there’s this delightful bit of exchange:

Bobby: You’re not really built for this kind of thing. Y’know what you need? Like, wings made outta knives!
Warren: That’s the single stupidest thing I ever heard. What about my normal wings? Where do they go?
Bobby: They’re still there too.
Warren: Bobby, I can’t have both. Wings don’t work like that.

A clear allusion to Warren’s transformation into Archangel at the hands of Apocalypse. Aside from that, there’s plenty of fun dialogue and the inclusion of a classic Marvel Monster makes for an enjoyable read. I’m really enjoying these “silver age” type stories told with the advantages of today’s storytelling and art. Fans of the original X-books won’t go wrong with this one.

On Ebay: Iceman
On AtomicAvenue: Iceman

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #41

23 Dec

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 #41
Cover Date: January 1990 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Steve Purcell


Wolverine in “Black Shadow, White Shadow” part 4
written by Marv Wolfman
art by John Buscema

Sailing East out of Hong Kong, Wolverine catches a shark to feed himself and his friends. They stop on the shores of China to share a shark-meat meal and his companions (Mai, Hsiao and Ch’un) reveal how the Black Shadow has negatively affected their lives. The Shadow attacked Ch’un’s school and murdered his students. It scorched Hsiao’s farm, leaving his grandparents dead. And, Mai’s husband and child were killed by the creature. After gaining a better understanding of why his new-found friends want to take down the Black Shadow, Wolverine discovers a stampede of horses headed their way.

Wonder Man in “Stardust Miseries” part 4
written by Michael Higgins
art by Javier Saltares

The Enchantress convinces Wonder Man that Iron Man has been manipulating him for years and is not a true friend of his. So, Simon pays a visit to Stark Enterprises to engage Iron Man in battle. During the fight, Wonder Man manages to tear Iron Man’s chestplate from his armor! The Beast saves the day by knocking Wonder Man out with the blast from a Stark weapon but, Wonder Man disappears in a blink before they can do anything to contain him.

Hercules in “All In The Family” conclusion
written by Bob Layton
art by Bob Layton

Hercules carries his son, Arimathes, to the med-alert flyer and discovers that he’s suffering from internal bleeding and burns over 75% of his body. While Arimathes recuperates, Hercules launches an attack against to Layana to avenge his son and keep her from claiming the crown. He captures her and brings her to their son, lying in his hospital bed. And, when faced with the consequences of her bid for power, she breaks down and begs for forgiveness.

Freedom Force in “Forced Fed!
written by Scott Lobdell
art by Dave Cockrum

Freedom Force has been commissioned to rescue Senator Robert Kelly. He’s been captured by SeƱor Muerte, who isn’t fond of Kelly’s bid to shut down his Drug Empire. The rescue is a sore point, considering Kelly’s anti-mutant sentiments – but a job’s a job. Freedom Force (Mystique, Avalanche, the Blob, Pyro, Destiny, and Spiral) wasn’t forewarned of Muerte’s super-powered enforces, the Grip (Napalm, Vice, Windmill, Uzi, and Sprint), but this mutant government task force certainly has enough muscle, powers, and experience to save the day.

Sending Freedom Force to rescue someone who hates their kind was a neat way to prove their dedication to their government role. Hercules’ story ended on a powerful note but I’m still waiting for the Wolverine and Wonder Man stories to get interesting.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Wonder Man | Freedom Force | Hercules
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Wonder Man | Hercules

 

Famous Fanmail #90 Alan Kupperberg

22 Dec

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”!

Alan Kupperberg is a comics creator who’s written fill-in issues for Captain America, Iron Man, and other Marvel titles. He’s also illustrated fill-in issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers, Captain America, the Defenders, Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider and many other Marvel titles. He had some short runs as the artist on titles like the Invaders and Thor and he was the artist on the Ice Man mini-series of the 1980s. He’s the only guy you can hold responsible for the one-shot, Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men. Before his career began in the mid-1970s, he got a letter printed in Fantastic Four #101 (cover date – August 1970). Here, he weighed in the controversy of changing the name to the Fantastic Five to account for Crystal joining the team.

Fantastic Four letters page with Alan Kupperberg

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Alan Kupperberg
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four

 

Connecting Covers #10 Transformers

21 Dec

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 1984, Marvel Comics debuted a Transformers mini-series that proved so popular, they extended it into an ongoing series. One that lasted for 80 issues! Twenty years after it first hit stands, Titan Books (a UK publisher), reprinted this series in fourteen individual collections. Every two collections can be combined to make one image.

Transformers TPB 1 2

On Ebay: Transformers
On AtomicAvenue: Transformers

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #90 Tom Strong

20 Dec

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.

Art Adams re-used his “running forward” cover motif for Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales #1 and 5.

Tom Strong's Terrific Tales #1
Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales #1
January 2002
Art Adams
Tom Strong's Terrific Tales #5
Tom Strong’s Terrific Tales #5
January 2003
Art Adams

On Ebay: Tom Strong
On AtomicAvenue: Tom Strong

 

One-Shot At Greatness #90 Punisher MAX XMAS Special

19 Dec

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!

Punisher MAX X-Mas Special #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February 2009
Cover Price: $3.99
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Roland Boschi

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Don Maranzano has put a hit out on the head of the Chicago mob, Johnny Castellano, and his about-to-be-born son. But, before Maranzano’s boys can do the deed, they’re offed by the Punisher who then leads Castellano and his pregnant wife to a safe spot. In a bid to wipe out the Castellano bloodline, Maranzano ups the ante – $1M bounty on the baby’s head. Meanwhile, the Punisher has led the expecting parents to a nearby stable to deliver the child and, when the hitmen come calling, he puts them down. As the bodies grow cold around them, an innocent child is brought into the world. But, will the Punisher show mercy for a change and let the parents enjoy their new baby boy … or will they be punished for their crimes, too?

There’s a strange dichotomy to this tale – an innocent babe is born amid a flurry of spilled blood but, it’s ultimately delivered into a family of hope. The story creates some clear parallels to Christmas – just as Herod had babies put to death while looking for the newly-born Jesus, Don Maranzano has ordered the death of the Castellano child. There’s a babe born in a stable and, of course, the Punisher dispenses lead (instead of coal) to “naughty” men. The story is rather straight-forward with no real unexpected twists nor any of the dark humor that I’ve come to enjoy from other Punisher stories. In the end, it’s just a story about a ruthless killer killing other ruthless killers in order to protect the innocent people of the world.

* I think it’s worth noting that there is a mature variant cover available for this issue. The picture posted above is the “PG” cover.

On Ebay: Punisher | Jason Aaron
On AtomicAvenue: Punisher

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #40

16 Dec

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 #40
Cover Date: Mid-December 1989 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Marshall Rogers


Wolverine in “Black Shadow, White Shadow” part 3
written by Marv Wolfman
art by John Buscema

Wolverine gets knocked out by a flash of light resulting from the battle between Black Shadow and White Shadow. While he’s unconscious, Wolverine’s brain flashes back to reveal why he came to Hong Kong in the first place: to find the murderer of his friend, Linn. When he comes to, he departs for China with Mai, Hsiao and Ch’un.

Wonder Man in “Stardust Miseries” part 3
written by Michael Higgins
art by Javier Saltares

With Wonder Man going on a rampage, his good friend, the Beast, tries to talk some sense into him. Unfortunately for Hank, Wonder Man’s not quite himself just now – he’s being incited to rage by the Enchantress‘ … er … enchantment. It’s a fact that the Beast deduces when he notices that Wonder Man’s movements seem to be a bit sluggish.

Hercules in “All In The Family” part 2
written by Bob Layton
art by Bob Layton

Layana‘s plan to take back the throne of Wilamean is in full force as her elite Assassins’ Guild (Akooti, Malicon and Viperus) launches an attack on the current king, Arimathes (her son), Hercules (his father) and the Recorder. In the battle, Arimathes is blown up with one of the assassins! Will he survive the blast?

Overmind in “…Anything
written by Scott Lobdell
art by Don Heck

Two government agents warned of a toxic waste leakage near Millwood, New Hampshire – but to no avail. Now that it’s killed the town’s inhabitants, they’ve been sent to investigate – clothed in radiation suits, naturally. To their surprise, they see a healthy rabbit bounding by them. But, do they really see it? Lurking in the shadows is the Overmind, and it appears that he’s using his mental powers to convince them that everything is fine. When, in fact, it’s not. Moving on to the inner parts of the town, they see a functioning society with normal-looking humans. They’re told if they want information, they’re welcome to talk with Mr. Overmind at the schoolhouse. They discover that the Overmind has been using his mental powers to convince the town’s citizens that they’re healthy. He’s also been teaching them the power of positive thinking. But, when the townspeople are confronted with the truth – will they choose to return to their ignorant bliss or accept the desparity of their situation?

In this issue, the Enchantress mentions that she’s adopted her sister’s name (Lorelei) as part of her charade. So, that clears up last week’s curiosity. This anthology’s diversity and far-reaching nature are truly proven when even the Overmind can get a solo feature. And, what a powerful story, it is! Unfortunately, the Wolverine and Wonder Man features continue to be bland. Hercules, on the other hand, is all out action! Too bad he looks ultra-cheesy on this cover, though.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Wonder Man | Overmind | Hercules
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Wonder Man | Hercules