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Archive for April, 2012

Guide To Marvel Two-In-One #7 the Thing & Valkyrie

30 Apr

Marvel Two-In-One launched in 1974, teaming the Thing with a different hero each month. This guide will tell you everything you wanted to know about the series – and more!

Marvel Two-In-One #7Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: January 1975
Cover Price: 25¢
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artist: Sal Buscema

WHO stars in this issue?

the Thing - Benjamin J. Grimm was bombarded by cosmic rays in a space exploration flight, alongside three friends. The cosmic rays gave each of them different powers, and they formed the Fantastic Four. Ben underwent the most physical change of the foursome: his skin mutated into orange rock and, as a result, he gained super-strength.

Valkyrie- the strongest of all Valkyrior (a group of Asgardians warrior goddesses who bring the worthy fallen warriors to Valhalla, the land of the honored dead). At this time in Marvel continuity, the Valkyrie had possessed the body of Barbara Denton and joined the super-hero team, the Defenders.

WHAT happens?

After the events of last issue, Doctor Strange suggests the Thing venture to Cobbler’s Roost, Vermont to find Valkyrie. Meanwhile, Strange intends to find the derelict, Alvin Denton, who was present at last issue’s subway event – for his destiny may need to be tended to, as well (see last week’s post, if you’re confused).

Before he can reach his destination, the Thing is ambushed by the Enchantress and Skurge the Executioner (who have already captured Alvin Denton). The villainness reveals that it was she, disguised as Valkyrie, who took the harmonica. But, she cannot yet harness its power until the course of Destiny, which was altered by last issue’s events, has been put right. Once Destiny’s will has been worked out, the villains intend to utilize the harmonica’s power to seize control of Asgard. So, they take their leave (with the harmonica), to allow Destiny to play through – their captives now freed.



Alvin asks the Thing to go to Cobbler’s Roost, for he has a bad feeling that his daughter is in danger. And, when they find her, the Thing discovers that his daughter is Barbara Denton – the woman who is possessed by the Valkyrie’s spirit. As he rushes to embrace her, it quickly becomes apparent that Valkyrie does not recognize the man – even though he fathered the body she now possesses. With this sad reunion completed, the Executioner and the Enchantress reveal themselves – taking enjoyment from the heartbreak. Desperate to fix the situation, Alvin yanks the harmonica from her clutches and blows into it.

Immediately, the world is destroyed and only those five nearest the harmonica are still left in existence. The Thing and Valkyrie move quickly to stop the Executioner and the Enchantress from grabbing the powerful instrument. Whoever gains control of it will have the power to set everything right – but if the villains get it, they can recreate the world without the heroes (or other heroes like Thor, the Avengers and the Defenders). In the final battle, the heroes narrowly defeat the Asgardian renegades and the Thing uses the harmonica to put everything back the way it was. But, it is a hollow victory – for Alvin’s heart gave out during all the excitement. Valkyrie’s last remaining link with humanity has now been severed.

WHERE does the story take place?

Most of the events of this issue take place in Cobbeler’s Roost, Vermont – the hometown of Barbara Denton.

WHEN do the Enchantress & Executioner next appear?

They next appear in the Defenders #20 (cover date: February 1975), as Valkyrie continues her quest to unlock her own identity. Doctor Strange and the Thing can also be found in that issue.



WHY is Valkyrie the guest-lead?

The very next month, Steve Gerber took over as writer of the Defenders so this was a fun attempt at getting more people interested in that book.

HOW was it?

This was certainly a neat way of turning MTIO fans into potential Defenders fan. Or, at least getting them interested enough to pick up the first issue of Gerber’s run on that title. But, it was a strange story. It was very much about Valkyrie, although she doesn’t actually do all that much in the issue. On the other hand, a most of the action is focused on the Thing but, he doesn’t get any character development. As for the stakes, they’re sky high! Essentially, the entire planet is destroyed – and then neatly put back into place just five pages later. Ahhhhh the days before comics were decompressed into six-issue storylines.



Note: This issue’s letters column features commentary on Marvel Two-In-One #5. Additionally, this comic includes Marvel Value Stamp #45 (Mantis).

On Ebay: Marvel Two-In-One | the Thing | Valkyrie
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Two-In-One | the Thing | Valkyrie

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #59

27 Apr

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 #59
Cover Date: 1990 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Brad Vancata


Wolverine in “On The Road” part 6
written by Michael Higgins
art by Dave Ross

The mysterious Wolverine imposter reveals to the Hulk that he is … Calvin Rankin! That’s the Mimic, for those of you in the dark. He recounts his life as the Mimic – from the development of his powers, to joining the X-Men, to his near-death at the Hulk‘s hands. And, finally, his story leads to his regeneration by absorbing Wolverine’s powers. He surmises that his new, permanent state is a result of absorbing Wolverine’s powers in combination with the Hulk’s gamma radiation. And, as his story concludes, Wolverine finally catches up with them.

Werewolf in “Children of the Beast” conclusion
written by Len Kaminski
art by James Fry

In the Silver Dagger‘s raid on the Braineaters, his strike force (the Sword of the Lord) destroys the werewolf pack with silver bullets. Enraged by the senseless death of the werewolves, the Werewolf by Night takes on Silver Dagger, himself. Biting him in the neck! Normally, this would infect the victim with lycanthropy but, now that Jack Russell is in control, he can control the passing. And, he decides not to infect Silver Dagger … but, the Sword of the Lord doesn’t realize this. So, assuming Dagger has been infected – they turn on their former leader! Meanwhile, Jack Russell rides off into the night with a new purpose in life: find others who have been touched by the paranormal and help them adjust.

Sub-Mariner in “Neptune’s Eye” conclusion
written by Robert Denatale
art by Mike Collins

Namor and Sandra emerge from Neptune’s Eye and return to their base, to discover it has been ravaged! Venturing further, they find Sandra’s comrades have fled into a sub-aquatic rover that is surrounded by creatures from the Eye. It seems that the closer the old man gets to death, the more frenzied the creatures become. They blame humans for his impending death but, their rage is quelled when Namor displays the amulet to them and recites his incantation. The old man’s embrace of his destiny inspires Namor to get over the death of his beloved Marrina.

Punisher in “the Real Thing
written by Marcus McLauren
art by Dan Reed

Mr. Ling sets the Punisher up by having him follow a false trail in order to unleash his men on the elusive vigilante. He even enlists a young boy to enter the scene to distract the Punisher. The Punisher must work through all of Ling’s enforcers and save the boy, before the mobster can kill him (after all, Ling can’t have any loose ends that point back to him, can he?).

The Wolverine/Hulk story has now revealed the mystery villain: the Mimic. This story marks his return to the Marvel Universe since his supposed death in the Incredible Hulk #161 (cover date: March 1973). As Werewolf By Night’s story concludes, it sets up a new direction for the character. It could have led to a very interesting ongoing series, with Jack Russell helping out other Marvel Monsters – but, alas, it wasn’t to be (although, he’ll return in future issues of MCP). My hopes for the Namor feature to be about exploring an unknown undersea world have been dashed. In the end, it was more about getting over the death of Marrina than finding a new locale. Punisher’s 8-page story was absolutely forgettable but the art was decent for the time.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Werewolf | Sub-Mariner | Punisher
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Werewolf | Sub-Mariner | Punisher

 

Famous Fanmail #108 John Byrne

26 Apr

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”!

In the letters pages of Fantastic Four #242 (cover date: May 1982), John Byrne decides that if you’re going to be outdone when writing a Marvel comic – it’s best to be outdone by Stan “the Man” Lee, himself.

Fantastic Four letters page with John Byrne

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | John Byrne
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four

 

Connecting Covers #21 Transformers

25 Apr

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 3 4

On Ebay: Transformers
On AtomicAvenue: Transformers

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #108 Mystery In Space

24 Apr

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.

Fan-Favorite artist, Alex Ross, pays tribute to a “silver age” Mystery In Space cover.

Mystery in Space #82
Mystery in Space #82
March 1963
Carmine Infantino
DC Comics Presents: Mystery in Space #1
DC Comics Presents: Mystery in Space #1
September 2004
Alex Ross

On Ebay: Mystery In Space
On AtomicAvenue: Mystery In Space

 

Guide to Marvel Two-In-One #6 the Thing & Doctor Strange

23 Apr

Marvel Two-In-One launched in 1974, teaming the Thing with a different hero each month. This guide will tell you everything you wanted to know about the series – and more!

Marvel Two-In-One #6Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: November 1974
Cover Price: 25¢
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artist: George Tuska

WHO stars in this issue?

the Thing - Benjamin J. Grimm was bombarded by cosmic rays in a space exploration flight, alongside three friends. The cosmic rays gave each of them different powers, and they formed the Fantastic Four. Ben underwent the most physical change of the foursome: his skin mutated into orange rock and, as a result, he gained super-strength.

Doctor Strange- former surgeon, Stephen Strange, is Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme – the Master of the Mystic Arts.

WHAT happens?

In the subway beneath Manhattan, a young girl’s harmonica is snatched from her by a heckler and she’s pushed into the path of an oncoming train. As Stephen Strange prepares to leap to her rescue, she begs of him to save the harmonica instead – he heeds her please, and grabs the instrument even though it means her very life. As the train collides with her body, she explodes into a dazzling light display – the multi-colored sparks seep into everyone there, including Strange and his beloved Clea. The two swiftly return to his Sanctum Sanctorum, where he hopes to unlock the mysteries of the harmonica with the name Celestia engraved on it.

Later that night, the Thing gets a call from Mrs. Coogan from Yancy Street. She requests his help because her grandson, Duff, is acting peculiar (he was the one who pushed the girl at the station). And, since Ben remembers her being like a second mother, he responds quickly – meeting them at her third floor apartment.



Meanwhile, Doctor Strange uses the Eye of Agamotto to discern the truth of the girl and the harmonica. It is revealed that the girl is a manifestation of Destiny. Each person in the subway has now affected their own destiny by the way they responded to her prersence. The mystery of the harmonica, however, remains. With this new knowledge, Doctor Strange decides that he needs to locate all the people that were in the subway, at that time, in order to redirect the courses of their lives so they are not destroyed.

Eventually, Doctor Strange makes his way to Yancey Street where he discovers the Thing. After swapping stories, they discover they’re both investigating the same incident. Fortunately for Duff Coogan, both heroes are in the vicinity when he’s attacked by a magically-created giant rat! The rat is a living symbol of Duff’s despair – he feels defeated by life. But, once Strange convinces the youth that he can control his life and eventually make his way out of the slum he lives in, the rat evaporates into nothingness.



When Strange and the Thing return to the Sanctum Sanctorum to uncover the mystery of the harmonica, Clea reveals it’s gone! While they were fighting the giant rat, Valkyrie of the Defenders came by to take it – strangely enough, she claimed that Strange had sent her to get it. But, how could he have instructed her to do so when he was pre-occupied in Yancey Street?

WHERE does the story take place?

This adventures takes us around New York City from the subways beneath Manhattan’s lower East side to the Baxter Building in Midtown Manhattan. From Doctor Strange’s Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village to the Thing’s old neighborhood, Yancey Street.

WHEN does the harmonica next appear?

The mystery of the harmonica will be addressed in the very next issue of Marvel Two-In-One.



WHY is Doctor Strange the guest-lead?

That’s a good question! I don’t see any ulterior motive as to why Doctor Strange appeared in this issue – perhaps Gerber just really wanted to use the character. Gerber wasn’t writing the character’s main title at the time and although Doctor Strange’s solo title had just started in 1974, it wasn’t a new feature (he starred in Marvel Premiere until he proved popular enough to get his own title).

HOW was it?

This was a neat story that certainly played to the strengths of Doctor Strange’s mythos much more than it did the Thing’s. It was a thinly veiled attempt to inspire the reader to believe that, at any point, we can change the shape of our destiny. With a little positive thought, we can achieve great things with our lives. Fortunately, Gerber’s talent ensured that it didn’t come across as preachy and he also set up some interest for the very next issue – where the mystery of the harmonica is to be investigated further.



Note: This issue’s letters column features commentary on Marvel Two-In-One #4. Additionally, this comic includes Marvel Value Stamp #47 (Green Goblin).

On Ebay: Marvel Two-In-One | the Thing | Doctor Strange
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Two-In-One | the Thing | Doctor Strange

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #58

20 Apr

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 #58
Cover Date: 1990 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Dave Cockrum


Wolverine in “On The Road” part 5
written by Michael Higgins
art by Dave Ross

After a big battle between the Hulk and the imposter Wolverine, the copycat retreats and the gray behemoth is able to release the hostages. Later, the Hulk catches up with the villain and discovers his true identity – but is shocked by it, because he’s supposed to be dead!

Werewolf in “Children of the Beast” part 5
written by Len Kaminski
art by Jim Fry

Bloody and beaten from his fight with the Braineaters, Werewolf By Night finds the nearest hole and crawls in to rest. And, as his body recuperates, his alter ego’s spirit has an out of body experience. Or is that in body experience? His consciousness and the wolf’s come to an agreement. Instead of this constant warring, they come together – Fusion. The Werewolf emerges from the desert cave healed and complete – for the first time! The Braineaters return for round two but, in a surprise attack, all of the werewolves are gunned down by the Silver Dagger and his strike force – the Sword of the Lord.

Sub-Mariner in “Neptune’s Eye” part 2
written by Robert Denatale
art by Mike Collins

Inside Neptune’s Eye, Namor and Sandra discover an underwater pocket of air – although “pocket” indicates a small area … but this is like a whole new world! After a minor disagreement separates them, an old man appears and grabs Namor’s attention. The mysterious man reveals he’s dying and the sea is reacting in turmoil – as are the strange creatures that reside in Neptune’s Eye. He gives Namor an amulet that is intended to serve as a sign to the humans to depart from the Eye – to keep them safe from it.

Iron Man in “Neutralizing Effects
written by Steve Ditko with Hollis Bright
art by Steve Ditko

After a guard fell asleep on the job, Iron Man was dispatched to a research lab to make sure it was still secure. But, an armored thief has broken in, overpowered Iron Man, and stolen the top-secret Energizing Module. Since knowledge of the Module was limited to a handful of people, Tony Stark suspects a traitor in his company so he charges Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan with the task of outing the turncoat. When Pepper turns up a lead, Iron Man jumps in to investigate and finds the villain (who he’s taken to calling the Neutralizer). Using his new technology, Iron Man is able to counteract the Neutralizer’s armor and reveal his true identity – someone on the Stark board!

The Wolverine/Hulk feature plays to its strengths in this issue: battle and mystery. Just who is this mystery copycat villain? Hopefully it’s revealed soon. This new merger of man and beast presents some interesting opportunities for character growth – assuming the werewolf will survive the attack by the Silver Dagger! The old man in the Namor story has caught my interest – I hope they’ll delve into who he is in the next issue. And, finally, I was prepared to be totally turned off by Ditko’s Iron Man story but it was actually fun in a “Silver Age” way – it even takes place early on in Iron Man’s career (he’s in his Mark II armor).

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Werewolf | Sub-Mariner | Iron Man
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Werewolf | Sub-Mariner | Iron Man

 

Famous Fanmail #107 Cat Yronwode

19 Apr

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”!

In the 1980s, Catherine Yronwode served as Editor-in-Chief of Eclipse Comics. Her tenure as EIC brought forth such notable works as Alan Moore’s Miracleman, Dave Stevens’ the Rocketeer and Scott McCloud’s Zot! After Eclipse went bankrupt, she worked in Claypool Comics’ production department. She got a letter printed in Fantastic Four #207 (cover date: June 1979), pointing out the delicate balance Marvel should maintain between utilizing their continuity and expanding into new territory.

Fantastic Four letters page with Cat Yronwode

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Cat Yronwode
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four

 

Connecting Covers #20 Nadesico

18 Apr

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.

CPM Manga’s Nadesico has a few covers that connect together. Here’s one set.

Nadesico #24 25

On Ebay: Nadesico
On AtomicAvenue: Nadesico

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #107 Justice League

17 Apr

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.

Acclaimed author, Harlan Ellison, wrote a story in this 2004 issue – the cover of which pays tribute to a “Silver Age” JLA comic. It also includes an obituary for Julius Schwartz written by Alan Moore.

Justice League of America #53
Justice League of America #53
May 1967
Mike Sekowsky
DC Comics Presents: Justice League of America #1
DC Comics Presents: Justice League of America #1
October 2004
Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez

On Ebay: Justice League
On AtomicAvenue: Justice League