RSS
 

Archive for May, 2012

Famous Fanmail #113 Beau Smith

31 May

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”!

Beau Smith has written Guy Gardner, the Black Terror, Wynonna Earp and many other comics over the past twenty years. He also served as IDW’s vice president of sales and marketing. He got a letter printed in Fantastic Four #271 (cover date – October 1984), thanking John Byrne for approaching the loss of the Fantastic Four’s second child with taste and the proper amount of gravitas.

Fantastic Four letters page with Beau Smith

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Beau Smith
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four

 

Connecting Covers #25 Wonder Man

30 May

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 the 1990s comic boom, Marvel was handing out solo series to just about anyone they could. Nightwatch, Blackwulf, Blaze, Blade – the list goes on and on. One of the more successful of these new series followed an Avenger: Wonder Man. In celebration of the two year mark, the writer (Gerard Jones) cooked up a storyline called “Hidden Depth” that gave the character some new powers. However, the story has been retconned since – implying that a lot of the developments here were all just lies created by Mephisto.

Wonder Man #22 23 24 25

On Ebay: Wonder Man
On AtomicAvenue: Wonder Man

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #113

29 May

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.

Reform School Girl was one of the highlights of Dr. Wertham’s attack on comic books: Seduction of the Innocent. The last issue of Milton Knight’s Midnite the Rebel Skunk pays homage to that now-classic cover.

Reform School Girl #1
Reform School Girl #1
1951
photo cover
Midnite the Rebel Skunk #3
Midnite the Rebel Skunk #3
March 1987
Milton Knight

On Ebay: Reform School | Midnite
On AtomicAvenue: Reform School | Midnite

 

Guide to Marvel Two-In-One #11 the Thing & the Golem

28 May

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 #11Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: September 1975
Cover Price: 25¢
Writer: Roy Thomas with Bill Mantlo (script)
Artist: Bob Brown

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.

the Golem - a statue of living stone that was made in the sixteenth century. In recent years, it has been reanimated by the spirit of Professor Abraham Adamson. As long as it maintains contact with the Earth, its power and strength will be continuously renewed.

WHAT happens?

The Thing and Alicia Masters have decided to take a vacation to Disneyworld in Florida. On the way, they hear a special radio announcement – a tidal wall has been resurrected, separating San Pedro University from the rest of St. Petersburg, Florida. The Thing hops the train into that very same city where he overhears a report of a stone monster on the loose and wreaking havoc!

At the University, Jason Adamson (the nephew of Abraham Adamson) deduces that the Golem is back in action because he is threatened by the tidal barrier. He then assumes that the demon lord Kaballa has finally gained control of the Golem – his goal is to use the Golem to rule the Earth.



Meanwhile, in the heart of St. Petersburg, the Thing and the Golem have come face to rocky face! We’re treated to four consecutive pages of battle. An eerie battle – as the Golem maintains a creepy silence amid his destruction. During the fight, the word “Emeth” appears on the Golem’s forehead and images flash into the Thing’s mind. Despite being controlled by Kaballa, the spirit of Adamson within the Golem is reaching out to the Thing - letting him know that there are people at San Pedro University that can stop him.

But, how to reach the University? A tall task now that there is a large body of water separating it from the rest of the city. The quick-thinking Thing starts throwing the debris from the Golem’s rampage into the water – creating a bridge that eventually lets him get to the University. With the bridge completed, Jason, Rebecca (his sister), and Wayne (her fiancee) run towards the Golem. And, as they near the stony creature inhabited by their uncle’s spirit, his love for them enables him to overpower that of Kaballa. He has regained control of the Golem! Sensing his imminent defeat, Kaballa retreats – vowing to return for the Golem later. Now that his loved ones are no longer in danger, the Golem reverts back into an unmoving statue.



WHERE does the story take place?

This story takes place in St. Petersburg, Florida – home of the fictional San Pedro University.

WHEN does the villain next appear?

Kaballa, Overlord of Demon-Ruin, next appears in the Rampaging Hulk #6 (cover date: December 1977), wherein he sends one of his minions against Ulysses Bloodstone.

WHY is the Golem the guest-lead?

The Golem is surely the strangest choice of co-stars this book has had – but his appearance here is most probably linked to this issue’s writer: Roy Thomas. You see, taking inspiration from Jewish folklore, Roy Thomas introduced the Golem into the Marvel Universe in the Incredible Hulk #134. That was in 1970 – four years later, the Golem was given his very own feature in Strange Tales #174, 176 & 177 – I guess it didn’t sell well enough to warrant more than three books. Those issues weren’t written by Roy Thomas – although he was the editor on them. With his character back in the limelight, it seems Thomas wanted to have another go at it. But, since it was clear the Golem couldn’t hold his own solo feature – the next best thing would be to make him a co-lead.



HOW was it?

It’s kind of hard for a mute stone being controlled by a demon lord to maintain an interesting tale by himself – so it’s quite apparent why the Thing is needed for this story. And, while I’m sure I’d appreciate the story more if I had read the Strange Tales issues, the Golem just doesn’t do much for me here. The villain, Kaballa, is also a lame-o who’s only seen a few more times over the next forty years of Marvel continuity. The cover promises the “End of a Legend!” – except, I don’t know that there’s much truth to that. Clearly, the legend isn’t the Thing – he’s seen again next issue. Kaballa is hardly legendary and, besides, he does return (as noted above). So, I suppose “legend” refers to the Golem, especially considering its place in Jewish folklore. However, it’s really not an ending – more like a hiatus, for it will be reanimated as soon as those kids are in danger again. Ah well – may it never be said that Marvel covers aren’t hyperbolic. By the way, Golem fans can find him in issues of the Hood and Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos.

On the plus side, it seems Alicia Masters is becoming more of a supporting character – which she should be, as the girlfriend of the lead character. And, there’s a fun bit as the Thing reacts to news reports of a rampaging rock monster. But, I’m still left confused about one part… When we first see the Golem, it’s inert inside a University lab with Jason Adamson. The next thing we know, a tidal barrier is erected around the school and the formerly inert Golem is now somehow on the other side of the wall – while Jason is still in the University. How did this motionless statue get all the way on the other side of the wall of water?!



Note: This issue’s letters column features commentary on Marvel Two-In-One #9 (one of the letters is from writer, Robert Rodi).

Point of Curiousity - anyone else find it interesting that the Golem (Google: “[in Jewish legend] A clay figure brought to life by magic”) is battling Kaballa (Google: “The ancient Jewish tradition of mystical interpretation of the Bible, first transmitted orally and using esoteric methods”)?

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

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #63

25 May

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 #63
Cover Date: 1990 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Bret Blevins


Wolverine in “Sign of the Beast” conclusion
written by Dwight Zimmerman
art by Paul Ryan

Sheik and his crew discover Archie Corrigan’s ripped up shirt on a bloody patch of ground and assume Wolverine has killed him. Left with their only other captive, Tyger Tiger, they continue to march through the jungle towards civilization. But, as they proceed, Wolverine begins picking off the assassins one by one. First Barrett … then Rhys … followed by the twins: Stump & Scarface. Finally, after Dumas runs off, Sheik is quickly defeated by Wolverine. Tyger Tiger has been freed from captivity and their friend, Archie reveals that he’s fine, too. His death was just a ruse to frighten the assassins.

Poison in “Vandals of the Heart” part 4
written by Steve Gerber
art by Cindy Martin

We’re introduced to Ferdinand “Foxy” Pertierra – an assassin who has just gunned down Weldon Leek. Meanwhile, Trinity Joe is warned that Foxy is going to be sent to kill him next, on orders from the Slug.

Scarlet Witch in “Separate Lives” conclusion
written by Richard Howell
art by Richard Howell

Thanks to the assistance of her ancestor, Red Lucy, the Scarlet Witch‘s spirit has returned to her own time but she’s dismayed to find that her astral form hasn’t automatically merged with her physical body. She seeks out the Past Master‘s apartment and discovers he’s trapped her body within a mystical shield that keeps her spirit out. Summoning her mutant hex powers, she launches an attack on Past Master that causes him to dissipate the mystic shield – allowing her to merge with her body! But, by the time she’s re-acclimated herself to physical existence, the Past Master has made his escape.

Thor in “Horse Blood
written by Len Kaminski
art by Don Heck

Thousands of years ago, a sixteen year old girl called out for help – her people consumed by a plague of darkness. In response, Thor descended upon the Earth – but not in time to keep her from being captured by the dark beings. As he entered the village, he discovered half of them had been turned into vampires! But, they are easily defeated – for a vampire burns at the touch of that which it worships … and Thor was indeed worshipped by the Norse people. However, there is a vampire amongst them that does not worship the Norse gods – one that claims he’s been known by many names through the ages: Baal (in Babylonia), Croatoan (in America) and Varnae (in Atlantis). In the Marvel Universe, he is often considered the first vampire – predating Dracula. The battle raged on into the night but Thor devised a plan to defeat the Lord of Vampires. Using his enchanted hammer, Thor opened a whirling vortex in the very fabrice of outer space, itself. Through the vortex, he was able to summon the pure light from the very surface of our sun – for no lesser light seemed to have an effect on Varnae. Forseeing his death, Varnae took his leave – rather than succumb to oblivion delivered by the sun’s rays. With the villain gone, Thor then turned the sun’s light on the Norse people – utterly destroying all of those who had succumbed to the vampiric curse. Well, almost all … 121 were left alive but they soon left their colony on the island of Roanoke, Virginia in search for their dark lord. The only thing they left behind? “Croatoan” carved into a tree…

The Wolverine tale was a quick rumble in the jungle episode that features him struggling with his bestial side but I think it’s easily topped by Blevins incredible front cover. How cool does Wolverine look there?! Poison’s feature was all set up and no pay off. The Past Master was quite a lame concept for a mystical villain – I’m happy to see this adventure over and done with. The Thor story was a very neat battle: the Norse God of Thunder vs the First Vampire! And, the icing on the top of that cake was the attempt to explain the mystery of the 121 missing English settlers from Roanoke, Virginia.

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Scarlet Witch | Thor
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Scarlet Witch | Thor

 

Famous Fanmail #112 Stan Lee

24 May

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”!

No other writer has written the adventures of the Fantastic Four longer than Stan Lee. After creating the characters, he was the writer for 10 years! His run saw the creation of nearly every major villain the team has faced including Doctor Doom, Annihilus, Diablo, Blastaar, and Galactus! With this in mind, his letter from Fantastic Four #270 (cover date – September 1984), is very high praise. Or, at the very least, extremely hyperbolic – something else he’s well-known for. In this momentous issue, She-Hulk replaced the Thing on the team.

Fantastic Four letters page with Stan Lee

On Ebay: Fantastic Four | Stan Lee
On AtomicAvenue: Fantastic Four

 

Connecting Covers #24 Transformers

23 May

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 9 & 10

On Ebay: Transformers
On AtomicAvenue: Transformers

 

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #112

22 May

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.

Both of these books were written by Garth Ennis, so it’s clear this is more of a fun homage than a swipe.

Preacher TPB 1
Preacher TPB 1
1996
Glenn Fabry
Dicks #3
Dicks #3
August 1997
John McCrea

On Ebay: Preacher | Dicks
On AtomicAvenue: Preacher | Dicks

 

Guide To Marvel Two-In-One #10 the Thing & Black Widow

21 May

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 #10Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: July 1975
Cover Price: 25¢
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artist: Bob Brown

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.

Black Widow - Natasha Romanoff is a Russian spy that defected to the United States. She has no super-powers, but is well-trained and often armed with high-tech weaponry, including her “Widow’s Bite” wristlets.

WHAT happens?

On a high-speed car chase through a New York City park, the Black Widow crashes into the Thing. When she gets out to check on him, she’s subdued by her pursuers, the Sword of Judgement – revolutionaries intent on avenging the exploited peoples of the world. The two heroes are captured by the terrorist group and brought to their base of operations in the Atlantic Ocean. They meet with the terrorist leader, Agamemnon, who reveals their plan (dubbed Operation: Poseidon) to drop the world’s most powerful thermo-nuclear device into the depths of the ocean. When it is triggered, it will unleash a radioactive 1000′ tsunami upon the United States of America.



After he leaves the prisoners alone, the Black Widow reveals that Agamemnon was a past lover of hers named Andrei Rostov. She unzips her costume to reveal organic weaponry that was hidden beneath her back body mold and the gadgets assist them in breaking free! In their battle against the Sword of Judgement, the cable securing the bomb snaps, dropping it into the ocean. But, the Thing manages to grab hold of it before it plunges too far. He is now tasked with bringing the bomb back to the surface while the Widow has to buy him time to do so, by taking on the Sword. As the hours pass, the Black Widow manages to defeat their army of one hundred members – leaving only Agamemnon. Their battle is quite evenly matched – until the Thing (who has, by now, secured the bomb) intervenes and defeats the terrorist.



WHERE does the story take place?

The bulk of the action takes place in the base of operations for the Sword of Judgement. It’s located over 2,000 kilometers off the coast of New York – in the Northern part of the Atlantic Ocean.

WHEN do the villains next appear?

The Sword of Judgement doesn’t make an appearance for another 35 years! The next time they’re seen is in Darkstar and the Winter Guard #2, where they attack St. Petersburg.



WHY is Black Widow the guest-lead?

A few months earlier, Chris Claremont (the writer of this issue) had scripted a Gerber-plotted issue of Daredevil (#117 – January 1975). At that time, the Black Widow was a prominent guest-star in the series so, it’s possible that Claremont’s brief encounter with the character gave him a taste that left him wanting more.



HOW was it?

It was a fun team-up with incredibly high stakes – but the coincidental way the Thing is brought into the story irks me a bit. This is much more of a Black Widow story, so fans of her hers should really enjoy it. Not only does it reveal one of her past lovers but it also shows off her weaponry and incredible fighting abilities (she takes down 100 men by herself!). Lest you think she gets all the spotlight, we are treated to some heart-warming introspection by the Thing, a Mazel Tov cheer (he is Jewish, after all) and an appearance by his girlfriend, Alicia Masters. Which is nice, because she wasn’t in many of the earlier issues – strange, considering she’s so closely linked to the title’s main character.



Note: This issue’s letters column features commentary on Marvel Two-In-One #8 (one of the letters is from writer, Robert Rodi).

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

 

Guide to Marvel Comics Presents #62

18 May

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 #62
Cover Date: 1990 | Cover Price: $1.25 | Cover Artist: Paul Ryan


Wolverine in “Sign of the Beast” part 1
written by Dwight Zimmerman
art by Paul Ryan

In the wilds of Madripoor, Wolverine challenges a pack of dogs hunting a deer. In the skies above, a low-flying airplane zooms by. Logan recognizes the plane – it’s owned by his friend Archie Corrigan. Inside, Archie and Tyger Tiger are being held prisoner by Sheik and his crew (Stump, Rhys, Barrett, Dumas and Scarface). The prisoners are going to be brought to Sheik’s master – Abdul Alhazred. A scuffle breaks out and the airplane is brought crashing down but, everyone survives. Lost in his bloodlust, Wolverine makes his way to the crash sight, grabs Archie and flees into the jungle. Is he in control of himself? Has he rescued his friend or taken him away to be the latest victim of his animal nature?

Poison in “Vandals of the Heart” part 3
written by Steve Gerber
art by Cindy Martin

At the Slug‘s behest, a gunman is sent to threaten Trinity Joe into leaving Sally alone. Poison happens upon the scene and takes the merc down. With his trust earned, she gets to hear Trinity Joe’s story. About how he was offered a great banking job. How he was fired when he couldn’t, in good conscience, continue working on one of the bank’s biggest accounts for it belonged to Ulysses X. Luggman and the money coming in seemed suspicious (to say the least). About how his wife Sally left him when his financial surety took a dive. And, how his assistant, Dallas Kerr, took his job … and his girl.

Scarlet Witch in “Separate Lives” part 3
written by Richard Howell
art by Richard Howell

Red Lucy seeks out Valmoora the Seeress to free her of the Scarlet Witch’s inhabiting spirit. After collecting her payment (a handful of jeweles), Valmoora offer her assistance but first, Red Lucy will need the Stones of Merlin to complete the spell that will return Wanda’s spirit.

Soon after, Red Lucy and her crew lead a raid on the Earl of Darwell‘s castle – for that is where the Stones are held. Within the castle, she is separated from her men from a fiery blaze summoned by the Earl’s demon protector. Harnessing Wanda’s mutant hex power, Lucy is able to defeat the demon. He stands revealed as a charlatan – not a demon at all but, rather, the Earl of Darnell, himself! Lucy grabs the Stones of Merlin and returns to Valmoora, who aids in sending Wanda’s spirit back to her proper time period. The knowledge of her future descendants inspires Lucy to call an end to her pirating ways … and her crew seeks out a new captain (the editor’s note implies that these are the same pirates seen in Fantastic Four #5 – that makes their soon-to-be-new captain Blackbeard [Ben Grimm - it's another time-travel story]).


Deathlok in “Test Run
written by Dwayne McDuffie with Gregory Wright
art by Jackson Guice

At Cybertek Weapons, Harlan Ryker introduces Mr. Burr to Deathlok - a super-soldier cyborg piloted by one of the country’s greatest fighting men, Colonel John Kelly. In his latest test, Deathlok is armed with a paintgun and set against twelve top mercenaries brandishing real guns. An internal struggle between Kelly’s brain and the computer causes the programming to fry the brain. And, when Deathlok runs out of paint ammo, his computer switches over to a lethal weapon. It seems that Cybertek has a few “kinks” to iron out with their Deathlok program as they begin to discuss finding a new brain for the cyborg.

This Wolverine story already seems better than the previous one – will he win out over his animal instincts? In the Poison feature, the Slugg gets a bit of a spotlight – showcasing his vile nature. It’s also rewarding to learn of Trinity Joe’s back story. Tying the Scarlet Witch feature into a classic silver age Fantastic Four issue was an easy way to get me more interested in the story. And, finally, this issue’s main importance comes from its final feature: the first appearance of Deathlok (the John Kelly version who later becomes Siege). Months later, the same writing team started up the Deathlok ongoing series and debuted another version of Deathlok (manned by Michael Collins’ brain). This story serves as a neat prelude to that series (which I’d recommend giving a read).

On Ebay: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Scarlet Witch | Deathlok
On AtomicAvenue: Marvel Comics Presents | Wolverine | Scarlet Witch | Deathlok