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Archive for January, 2012

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #96 Jungle Action

31 Jan

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.

Before he was given his own series, the Black Panther took over the lead feature in Jungle Action starting with issue #5. Decades later, the Marvel Knights line relaunched a Black Panther series by Christopher J. Priest that was filled with excellence.

Jungle Action #8
Jungle Action #8
January 1974
Rich Buckler
Black Panther vol. III #17
Black Panther vol. IV #27
April 2000
Sal Velluto

On Ebay: Jungle Action | Black Panther
On AtomicAvenue: Jungle Action | Black Panther

 

One-Shot At Greatness #96 Super Soldier: Man of War

30 Jan

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!

Super Soldier: Man of War #1Publisher: Amalgam Comics
Cover Date: June 1997
Cover Price: $1.95
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Dave Gibbons

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

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

In 1942, Super-Soldier has been given the task of following stolen government equipment that’s being smuggled overseas. But, when the boat he’s on is attacked by Nazi U-Boats, he is distracted with protecting the ship while they make off with the equipment. Meanwhile, Super-Soldier’s pals, Sgt. Rock and his Howling Commandos have been captured by Baron Zemo and his Nazi forces. The very same forces that have stolen the equipment. Fortunately for them, Peggy has infiltrated the Nazi castle, set them free and informed Super-Soldier of their location. The heroes overtake the castle but not before Zemo escapes with the stolen goods. In the last page, Zemo meets with Lex Luthor and reveals that the stolen materials will be used to create a villain that Super-Soldier will not be able to defeat: Ultra-Metallo!

This tale of times past in the Amalgam Universe tells the story behind the creation of Ultra-Metallo (the villain from the first Super-Soldier one-shot). It also introduces the Amalgam version of Nick Fury/Sgt. Rock and features the double-villainy of Zemo and Luthor. Unfortunately, it didn’t really capture my interest as I hoped it would and, Gibbons’ art seems very unfinished – especially when it comes to backgrounds (which are missing or very basic, half of the time). No real surprise there since I wasn’t a big fan of the first one-shot, either.

On Ebay: Amalgam | Mark Waid | Dave Gibbons
On AtomicAvenue: Amalgam Comics

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #46

27 Jan

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 #46
Cover Date: 1990 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Rob Liefeld


Wolverine in “Black Shadow, White Shadow” part 9
written by Marv Wolfman
art by John Buscema

White Shadow realizes that the only way to stop Black Shadow is to kill the mutant native that spawned them both. When Black Shadow interferes, Wolverine decides that it’s up to him to take down the mutant. But, he spawns more Black Shadows to protect himself. Meanwhile, the main Black Shadow has defeated its counterpart. And, as Wolverine is about to deliver the killing blow to the mutant, the Black Shadow has Mai in the same position.

Devil-Slayer in “Lost Souls” part 1
written by Dwight Zimmerman
art by Rodney Ramos

The Flying Dutchman offers Devil-Slayer excellent food and women – and then offers him a deal from Mephisto: power, wealth and women for the price of his soul. Devil-Slayer quickly refuses the deal and the Dutchman departs but not before he reveals that the Slayer’s soul is already lost – all that remains undecided is which underworld ruler will lay possess it. Devil-Slayer is dispatched to a Central American town called Potega which he quickly saves from an attacking squad of mercenaries. The Slayer makes a deal with Father Perone, Potega’s priest, to protect the town in the hopes of redeeming his soul.

Aquarian in “A Gift of Death
written by Fabian Nicieza
art by Hugh Haynes

Aquarian offers comfort to a young woman who’s husband was just killed by her brother. She reveals that her husband was an FBI agent who was going to put her brother away but, she warned her sibling to run before he could be caught. Her brother decided to solve the situation by killing the agent – but, when his escape went sour, he committed suicide, rather than face imprisonment. With the two most important men in her life now dead, Aquarian (the ever-calm, water-walker that bears a striking resemblance to Jesus Christ) must convince her that her life is stll worth living.

Sub-Mariner in “The Eye That Sees
written by Hollis Bright
art by Dell Barras

Namor the Sub-Mariner discovers a humpback whale that has been trapped in a small cove by changing tides. He protects it from the Sabatine Brothers, by crashing their whaling boat. But, weeks later, when the Sub-Mariner has moved on, Manny Sabatine decides to exact his revenge on the whale and now it’s up to a young, animal-lover to save the whale.

Liefeld’s created a vicious-looking Wolverine cover here – just a short while before he launched Image Comics with several other big artists. The Sub-Mariner’s story got a bit eco-preachy and has a Free Willie vibe to it. The Aquarian features seems very random – especially since I can’t place any other important appearances in other books at the time. The same goes for Devil-Slayer but I’m interested to see where his soul-redeeming storyline is going.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Devil-Slayer | Aquarian | Sub-Mariner
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Devil-Slayer | Sub-Mariner

 

Famous Fanmail #95 Jim Rohn

26 Jan

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”!

Jim Rohn is an indy creator best known for the Holo Brothers. He got a letter printed in Fantastic Four #134 (cover date – May 1973), praising John Buscema’s art.

Fantastic Four letters page with Jim Rohn

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Jim Rohn
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four

 

Connecting Covers #14 Doctor Strange

25 Jan

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.

Tony Harris‘ covers to Marvel Knights’ Doctor Strange series connect to form one image.

Doctor Strange: Flight of Bones #2 & 3

On Ebay: Doctor Strange
On AtomicAvenue: Doctor Strange

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #95 Avengers

24 Jan

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.

For decades, Spider-Man was barely associated with the Avengers and crossovers between the two properties were special events. Now, of course, that line between them has become blurred ever since the New Avengers and Marvel’s Civil War. In 1990, Avengers #314 kicked off a five part space-adventure story that brought Spidey along for the ride. The cover to Dark Avengers #12 bears a noticeable similarity to that issue.

Avengers #314
Avengers #314
February 1990
Paul Ryan
Dark Avengers #12
Dark Avengers #12
February 2010
Mike Deodato

On Ebay: Avengers
On AtomicAvenue: Avengers

 

One-Shot At Greatness #95 Thor: Wolves of the North

23 Jan

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!

Thor: Wolves of the North #1Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: February 2011
Cover Price: $3.99
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Mike Perkins

*Warning! Plot Spoilers Below*

Hela has formed an alliance with Skald (one of the greater demon kings) in a bid to conquer Asgard. Their forces are marching across the Earth on their journey to the borders of Asgard, wreaking havok. Thor has just been dispatched to attack the army’s rear guard, and has landed in Redhangir – where the viking leader Thorvald has just been slain in battle by Skald, leaving his daughter Einar in charge. She provides Thor with a lock of her hair to serve as his anchor to Midgard.

When Hela discovers Thor’s presence, she sends some of her forces to kill Einar, which would sever his link to Earth. But, she surprises the Norse Queen of Hel by killing her captors, giving Thor plenty of time to defeat Skald and the rest of the invading troops.

Mike Carey has crafted a neat story that’s part of Thor’s long, storied ancient history. It pre-dates his return to Earth in Marvel’s Silver Age, which allows it to play to the strengths of being a barbarian/fantasy/ancient myth story. Plenty of savage battles to be had here with great artwork by Mike Perkins – and not one super hero, in sight. This is the type of story that fits the character well and I wouldn’t mind reading more!

On Ebay: Thor | Mike Carey
On AtomicAvenue: Thor

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #45

20 Jan

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 #45
Cover Date: 1990 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Kevin O’Neill


Wolverine in “Black Shadow, White Shadow” part 8
written by Marv Wolfman
art by John Buscema

Soon after Black Shadow emerged from the obese native’s chest (and subsequently began attacking Wolverine), the White Shadow also entered the temple through the same portal as his polar opposite. White Shadow explains that both creatures are manifestations of the obese mutant – forever engaged in a conflict that must end with the other’s death.

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

As the Enchantress‘ machine begins to suck the life energies out of the Wasp, Hank Pym, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America, it transfers their power to Wonder Man. But, his newfound strength creates an awareness that breaks the Enchantress’ spell over him. Wielding Mjolnir (the hammer of Thor!), he defeats the villainness and frees his fellow Avengers before they are completely drained!

Hulk in “the Main Event
written by Peter David
art by Herb Trimpe

The Incredible Hulk challenges Hulk Hogan - the winner gets to keep the name “Hulk”!

Shooting Star in “Bang Bang, Shoot Shoot
written by Robert Campanella
art by Jose Delbo

At a county fair in Texas, a carnival sharp shooter named Black Billy challenges Shooting Star (of the Rangers, Texas’ very own super-hero team) to a shoot out. But, when she bests him, he doesn’t take it too well – and he kidnaps a bus full of little girls to lure her into a trap. Now, Shooting Star will have to summon up her sharp-shooting skills to take out Billy’s gang and free the children.

After a number of mediocre issues, this one reminds me of the fun this series can be. In a quick story by Peter David, the Incredible Hulk takes on Hulk Hogan! I’m sure this was the fodder for fan fiction and speculation for years – but it’s fun to see it acknowledged in continuity. After all, the Incredible Hulk debuted in 1963 – Hulk Hogan in 1977. So, if it’s a question of “Who Came First?” then the Green Goliath takes the cake. This issue answers the question: “Who’s the strongest?” And, as if that wasn’t neat enough – Wonder Man wields the hammer of Thor in this issue. A feat that has not been accomplished by most of Marvel’s characters (aside from Captain America and a few others).

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Wonder Man | Shooting Star | Hulk
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Wonder Man | Hulk

 

Famous Fanmail #94 Chuck Dixon

19 Jan

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”!

Chuck Dixon‘s footprint on the world of comics is Hulk-sized. He’s had extensive runs on Batman, Punisher, Alien Legion, and Airboy. He’s also had his hands in lots of other titles including playing a significant role in the development of the Crossgen Universe. He got a letter printed in Fantastic Four #131 (cover date – February 1973). In the letter, he reveals that he was about to quit reading Marvel Comics but, Fantastic Four #127 convinced him otherwise.

Fantastic Four letters page with Chuck Dixon

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Chuck Dixon
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four

 

Connecting Covers #13 Predator Cold War

18 Jan

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.

United States and Soviet forces are united against a common threat in this four issue mini series written by Mark Verheiden. All four covers to Predator: Cold War combine nicely to create one image illustrating the Predator’s fighting prowess. You can click on the picture below to enlarge it.

Predator: Cold War #1 2 3 4

On Ebay: Predator
On AtomicAvenue: Predator