Archive for December, 2018

Posted Monday, December 31st, 2018 by Jeff

New Year’s Eve

Cheers, everyone.  Here’s to 2019.

New Year's Eve

Posted Monday, December 31st, 2018 by Barry

Batman (1940) 247

Batman (1940) 247

Batman (1940) 247

Denny O’Neil and Irv Novick turned a hat trick with this, the third of Batman’s Christmas stories, since his return from post CCA crack down and television days. The previous two holiday tales were served up in Batman 219 and 239. For some reason the Dark Knight never celebrated in Detective Comics.

For the 1972 season O’Neal corrals both Christmas and New Year’s with “Merry Christmas…And a Deadly New Year!” The first vignette deals with the capture and subsequent escape of a terrorist who has stolen a deadly virus.

Christmas isn’t very merry as Batman and the Gotham Police Department spend the week prior to New Year’s searching for the vial. The adventure goes down to the wire as Batman finally discovers, and foils, the attempt as the ball drops counting down the end of one year and the beginning of another.

Posted Saturday, December 29th, 2018 by Jeff

Christmas With The Super-Heroes, revisited and recolored

A late Christmas gift scrolled across my Facebook feed today.

If you’re familiar with holiday super hero specials – or are a regular Four Color Holidays reader – you’re likely already aware of 1988’s Christmas With The Super-Heroes #1.  Featuring cover artwork by John Byrne, the issue is known for it’s whimsical display of DC heroes gathered around a Christmas tree.  It’s a favorite among holiday comic fans, myself included.

But how might this cover be presented today, revisited and recolored with modern technology, different sensibilities and an artist’s personal flare?  Scott Dutton recently shared his take, including a breakdown of the process from original artwork to final product.

Be sure to visit Scott’s Catspaw Dynamics at the earliest opportunity, where you’ll find countless more of his comic art recolorations and restorations.

Christmas With The Super-Heroes (1988) 1 (Reconstructed)

 

Posted Friday, December 28th, 2018 by Barry

DC’s Nuclear Winter Special

Rip Hunter, Time Master, plays storyteller to a group of post-apocalyptic survivors sometime in the mid-21st century bent on eating their guest.

DC's Nuclear Winter Special

DC’s Nuclear Winter Special

Of the 10 “cataclysmic carols,” Flash, Super Girl, Firestorm and Green Arrow top the list.

Hunter stalls for time waiting for his time sphere to recharge by relating stories starring the stable of DC characters. This year’s special is hit or miss in wringing emotion from readers.

As stated above, Flash’s “Once and Future,” Super Girl’s “Last Daughters,” Firestorm’s “Last Christmas” and Green Arrow’s “Super Birds of Christmas past, Present and Future” are the headliners.

“Last Christmas” may be the best of that group. Paul Dini is the writer, so no surprise there.

The remainder of the book is taken up by Damion Wayne having assumed the mantle of Batman in “Warmth.”
Superman’s “Memory Hearth” by Steve Orlando is forgettable.

“Where Light Cannot Reach” capitalizes on Aquaman and his silver screen blockbuster that has already taken China by storm.

Surprise guest Kamandi stars in “Northern Lights.”

Finally, Catwoman appears in “Nine Lives.”

Not as memorable as the DC Rebirth Holiday Special. Just nice to see DC continues to offer Christmas comics each year.

Posted Thursday, December 27th, 2018 by Barry

Marvel Team-Up (1972) 79

Finally, some down time devoted to catching up on hauls from the year past.

Pulling from a box of unread issues, I decided to finish what Marvel Team-Up books I’d picked up. As most any collector of any length of time can tell the uninitiated, you tend to give, buy and trade/sell books on a regular basis. Spider-Man titles are no exception.

Marvel Team-Up (1972) 79

Marvel Team-Up (1972) 79

I know I’ve owned issue 79 before. I know I’ve read it before. But, when I cracked the cover and started, I was pleasantly surprised to find this is a Christmas comic book.

Of sorts.

The story takes place Dec. 22, 1978. Chris Claremont is very specific on that. The date is front and center in the opening dialog box. The snow is falling across New York, evening a backdrop as the moon shies behind thick stratus clouds. No colored lights lift the night’s burden. The first few pages are exercises in a Glynis Wein blue period.

Having set the mood, in prose and color, a young John Byrne pencils Spider-Man swinging to the Daily Bugle for the annual Christmas party. A quick change to Peter Parker and the titular character is greeted by Mary Jane and mistletoe.

What romance she wished to rekindle is squashed as Peter is ushered out the door on assignment to cover strange doings up town.

As promised on the cover, Red Sonja guest stars with Spidey making for an odd pairing. Still, the story works. And, as any red blooded American boy from the 1970s can vouch, when you found an appearance of Red Sonja on the spin racks, it was a good week.

Claremont and Byrne, already a team on The Uncanny X-Men, wrap the story up in the industry standard 17 pages leaving the reader fulfilled and satisfied their 40 cents didn’t go to waste.

Posted Wednesday, December 26th, 2018 by Barry

Deadpool (2018) 7

Still out on this one. Of course I’m still out on Skottie Young’s take on Deadpool. Daniel Way is, by far, my favorite of the Merc With the Mouth scribes, though Nick Giovanetti and Paul Scheer made for a talented team on Spider-Man/Deadpool.

“Christmas Missed Us,” takes a page out of Keith Giffen’s Lobo’s Paramilitary Christmas Special. Actually, it takes a huge chunk of pages complete with a contract on Santa and showdown at the North Pole.

This time ‘round, Deadpool is contracted by a very disgruntled contingent of children when the Jolly Fat One fails to make his rounds. Pooling allowances and a healthy response to a hastily gathered “gopayme” account, DP’s fee is rendered.

Young deviates further by saving Santa the ignominy of having sat the season out via his own volition. Instead an evil elf has organized the other elves and rallied them around corrupt corporate-at-large (at least in the Marvel universe) Roxxon.

Deadpool fulfills his obligations and saves Christmas making for a happy ending all the way ‘round.

The 2018 Christmas season was celebrated with a plethora of seasonal covers and stories. Much thanks to both Marvel and DC for their efforts to keep us readers happy.

 

Posted Tuesday, December 25th, 2018 by Barry

Scooby-Doo (1997) 115

Merry Christmas from those “meddling kids” and dog as well as Jeff and I at Four Color Holiday Comics.

Now that paper has been shredded and curiosities sated, it’s time to settle back with a final adventure from Mystery Inc. before the New Year. Just remember, as 2019 dawns so does the 50th anniversary of Scooby-Doo.

That’s 350 in dog years.

Scooby-Doo (1997) 115

Scooby-Doo (1997) 115

Scooby and the gang have appeared in comic book form since 1970, just one year after their CBS network debut. Gold Key rehashed their Saturday morning adventures as reimagined by Phil DeLara, Jack Manning and Warren Tufts for 30 issues.

Charlton picked up the license next publishing 11 issues in 1975. Marvel offered nine issues from 1977 to 1979. The franchise sat idle on the comic book front until 1993 when Harvey Comics reprinted the Charlton years. Archie Comics was next in line printing a meager 21 issues.

By 1995 Warner Bros. and DC Comics were under the same roof and Scooby-Doo found a home where he remains to this day.

Issue 115 contains two stories and a Yeti tutorial.

In “It’s a Wonderful Fright” Shaggy is George Bailey to a Smithsonian of spooks dating to the first season of Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! A reoccurring theme in his dream – and the franchise – brings Shaggy to the realization of who is really behind the Ghost-Face-look-a-like mask and the mystery.

Following Velma’s brief interlude with Tales from the Yeti, the gang take on “Santa’s Evil Elves.”

Another round of costumed crooks attempt to steal food from the mouths of babes. It’s up to Scooby and Mystery Inc. to stop their nefarious plan – with a little help from a (very) old friend.

Let that digest with the turkey and trimmings and enjoy the evening. Another year is about to close, but, as touted above, 2019 will be the year of Scooby-Doo.  Who’d’ve thought a dog named after a Sinatra scat would become such an icon?

Posted Tuesday, December 25th, 2018 by Barry

Batman (1940) 260

Okay, not a Christmas comic book in that there is no Christmas cover, no Christmas stories. Just an original Denny O’Neil/Irv Novick Batman v. Joker tussle. The remainder are reprints dating back to Batman (1940) 16.

What makes this a Christmas comic book – to me – is the fact it was in my stocking Christmas the morning of 1974.

Yeah, I’m that old.

If you’ve read my earlier ramblings, you know my Mom had a routine. Christmas morning you hopped out of bed, brushed teeth and hair, donned suitable clothes and waited for everyone else to do the same. When Mom, Dad and Grandma and Grandpa Winterhalter were seated in the living room, I opened my stockings.

Stuffed among the Lifesaver Holiday box set, Crayola Crayons and miscellaneous merriment was Batman (1940) 260, one of the prized 100-page issues DC published at the time.

Other than the Christmas tabloids DC published under the Limited Collector’s Edition imprint (C-34 and C-43) this comic book is the one I remember most from my stockings. The jarring orange (or whatever color that is) cover with the Joker flipping his deck of cards showing the Caped Crusader in death throws at the reader. Riddler and Robin taunting Batman behind a cell door. Batman atop of giant glass bottle, muscles straining as he tries to free Robin from inside. Alfred and Catwoman’s heads barely rising above the cover bottom.

Batman (1940) 260

Batman (1940) 260

“This One Will Kill You Batman!” is the original story. DC’s hundred pagers followed a formula with the first story being an original one. The remaining tales were reprints from the Golden and Silver ages.

Fans know when a key villain appears, the issue is always better. Certainly no common crook could serve as felonious a foe as the Joker. Already the issue was better than most.

That was followed by “Grade A Crimes!,” originally published in May-April issue of Batman 16. Catwoman was featured in the following story, “The Perfect Crime – Slightly Imperfect!” from Batman 181 of June 1966. “The Case Without a Crime!” was pulled from Detective Comics 112 having first seen light June 1946. “The Pearl of Peril!” was courtesy of Batman 27, February-March 1945 and “The Riddlers’ Prison-Puzzle Problem!” rounded out the book. It was the most recent of the reprints having been published in Detective Comics a scant six years earlier.

I read the issue cover-to-cover several times during that Christmas break. The book stayed with for years until it wasn’t with me. I forget what happened to it to be honest. It just was gone one day. The saddest part is I didn’t notice its passage.

Until one day.

One day I started buying Batman comic books again. Years after I’d first received the book. By that time I was an adult. As much of an adult as I will ever be at least.

Something jogged my memory. Maybe I saw a picture of it. Maybe another issue reminded me. Whatever the reason I realized the issue was gone.

Though I mourned the loss it wasn’t a book I made a priority to replace. I spoke of it at times. One of those occasions was with a dear friend of mine, long since moved, who kept that discussion in mind.

That Christmas Batman 260 became a Christmas comic book again. In the hand-wrapped bundle of comic books he handed me was that issue. The same cover. The same promises of stories to come. The same book in every respect other than it had to be in better shape than my original. That issue had to have been dog eared and ratty from the repeated readings.

It didn’t matter.

Here was my beloved Batman 260. Once again in my hands. Ready to read. Again and again and again.

And, I have read it again and again and again. I’m far more respectful in my handlings now, but enjoy them no less.

So, for everyone enjoying a comic book today, and those who aren’t, Merry Christmas.

Posted Tuesday, December 25th, 2018 by Jeff

Merry Christmas!

Cheer up, Batman.

Artwork by The-Blackcat.

Merry Christmas!

Posted Monday, December 24th, 2018 by Jeff

Peace on Earth…

Settling into Christmas Eve with Marvel Team-Up (1972) #1. Pencils by Ross Andru and inks by Mike Esposito.

Peace on Earth