Monthly Archives June 2019

Amazing Spider-Man (1962) 2

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National Camera Day may not be much reason for most to celebrate, but maybe it’ll give you an excuse to re-read some vintage Spider-Man comic books.

Amazing Spider-Man (1962) 2

Amazing Spider-Man (1962) 2

I’ll admit I’ve lost track of the Web Slinger. Calling him a Web Slinger may even date me. I wasn’t around for Amazing Spider-Man issue one, but I’ve been around for a lot of the others over the years. To be honest, I’m not sure where and what is going on with the Spider-Man titles these days.

Amazing Spider-Man 133 is, maybe, the first Spidey I remember reading. Maybe. That or the issue before.

Anyway, by issue 132 or 133 Spider-Man was fairly established. He had a substantial rogues gallery and had been working at the Daily Bugle since issue two.

That’s how we’re shoehorning in the second issue of Amazing Spider-Man for National Camera Day.

At the behest of Jolly J. Jonah Jameson himself, Peter Parker possibly started the selfie craze by photographing himself in action against the Vulture.

That was the beginning of Mr. Parker’s photojournalism career. As a freelancer, Peter was able to keep his aunt in medicine, himself in web fluid and just make the rent payment.

It also introduced an extended cast of characters including his first love, Betty Brant.

To observe National Camera Day, snap a photograph of someone you enjoy. Post photos on social media using #NationalCameraDay.

We suggest you toss in some choice issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Marvel Team-Up and Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man.

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Jingle Belle (2004) 3

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Jingle takes a down-on-its-luck tourist stop and turns it into a money maker.

Father Christmas, also father of Jingle, sends his little girl out, into the world to help some old friends. Bud and Vera Coleman have been keeping the faith since 1962. Santaville is a side-of-the-road tourist spot not seen in decades. The quaint curiosity has outlived its usefulness, but Santa still wants to see it survive.

Jingle Belle (2004) 3

Jingle Belle (2004) 3

Jingle is to investigate and offer her input. After a quick tour she decides the best way to keep up with the times is to turn the tourist trap into a money pit for anyone hoping to get rich quick.

Without her father’s knowledge, Jingle transforms the tourist stop to a gambling mecca. Her efforts are rewarded exponentially as profits pile up. The untold treasures do not go unnoticed and not by her father, but a more sinister presence.

While the first two issues were self-contained, this is the first of a two-part story. Needless to say, author and creator Paul Dini leaves readers hanging at a most inopportune time for Jingle or themselves.

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Jingle Belle (2004) 2

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“Belle’s Beaus” explores the impact Jingle has made on people over the years.

Investigative writer Peter Smith chases a memory from his youth in an attempt to discover the validity of the remembrance. Throughout the story Smith solicits the stories of others with like experiences. All have a similar feel, but each is as elusive as his recollection. Each is grounded in salvation, but as tangible as a wisp of smoke.

When Smith finally confronts his conundrum, he’s still unsure. He decides the matter comes down to faith and leaves it at that.

The second story, “Kiyote Christmas Party,” is a bit more anthropomorphized as Christmas Eve becomes a raucous round up at the local watering hole. The girls show they can take care of their own with the seasonal spirit still provided.

Jingle Belle (2004) 2

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Franklin Richards: Summer Smackdown! (2008)

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Today is the first day of summer. Not a Hallmark holiday – though there probably is a card you can buy – but, a true holiday on my calendar.

Today marks the triumph over another winter. Today is a reaffirmation of what we suffered under layers of clothing in the early days of this year. Today we can sing hosannas in the highest while bathed in the warming rays of another summer.

Franklin Richards: Summer Smackdown! (2008)

Franklin Richards: Summer Smackdown! (2008)

And, what better way to enjoy this day than with the first born of Marvel’s First family, the Fantastic Four?

Granted, this incarnation of Franklin Richards if out-of-continuity. This is not the Franklin born in FF annual six. But, a funner version. This Franklin, paired with the ever-faithful H.E.R.B.I.E., have a Calvin and Hobbes vibe as they adventure through the Marvel U.

This Franklin debuted in his first special, The Fantastic Four Presents Franklin Richards in November of 2005. His next appearance was April of 2006 in Everybody Loves Franklin, more of a Valentine’s Day tribute. From there Franklin became Marvel’s emcee of holidays with his first Super Summer Spectacular and Happy Franksgiving both the same year. Other holiday classics included Monster Mash in 2007, Spring Break and this Summer Smackdown for 2008 and April Fools in 2009.

Franklin hosted the unofficial March Madness holiday in 2007 and Fall Football Fiasco, a prelude to Super Sunday, in 2008. School’s Out is the last of the specials, released in 2009.

Other one-shots include World Be Warned in 2007 and the across-the-Marvel-Universe tie ins:  Not-So-Secret Invasion in July 2008 and It’s Dark Reigning Cats and Dogs in April of 2009.

Each special was broken down into four-to-five-page shorts. Mom, Dad, Uncle Johnny and Ben would make guest appearances as would other members of the Marvel Universe. Marc Steven Sumerak and Chris Eliopoulos handled scripting chores while Eliopoulos also took care of the penciling, inking, coloring and lettering.

Okay, now that you’ve fulfilled your commitment to us at Four Color Holidays, go enjoy this, the longest day of the year. When the sun finally dips below the horizon, maybe break out some Franklin Richards specials and remember what it is to be a kid again.

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Lobo: Infanticide

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Happy Father’s Day.

Not everyone is appreciative of raising a child. Lobo for example. DC’s Main Man has fathered an army of illegitimate children over the years. Due to his reputation the bastard babies have grown to become despised by the other denizens of the universe.

One is fighting back. Daughter Su has inherited her sire’s stones and enlisted a legion of step-brothers and sisters – over 200 – to avenge their shameful situation.

The four-part play is conducted as follows:  a plan is formed, executed and foiled as Lobo shows he’s DC’s best-at-what-he-does.

And, like his mimeographed Marvel mate, what he does isn’t nice.

Father’s Day is purported to have begun as a memorial service for a group of West Virginia miners who died in 1907. Father’s Day is a complement to Mother’s Day, celebrated the third Sunday in June.

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Action Comics (1938) 1

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Today is Superman Day. A day to pay homage to the last son of Krypton and the first super hero.

Superman, aka Kal-El/Clark Kent, was born in the minds of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. When the two failed to crack the newspaper strip field they sold their creation to Detective Comics, Inc.

Action Comics (1938) 1

Action Comics (1938) 1

The first Superman story appeared in Action Comics issue one April 18, 1938. Superman proved popular enough he was given his own self-titled book a year later. That was the same year the Man of Steel finally broke into newspapers with a daily strip.

Superman branched out into other media as well. That included radio with The Adventures of Superman running for 2,088 episodes from 1940 to 1950. In movie theaters the man of tomorrow first appeared in animated form. Fleischer Studios brought Superman to life in nine cartoon shorts while Famous Studios drew another eight.

Superman and the Mole Men was the first live-action film released in 1951. Christopher Reeve would rekindle the romance between fanboy and film in 1978 with the first of four big-budget films.

Superman Returns was released in 2006 with the franchise resurrected most recently in 2013 with Man of Steel. Henry Cavill recreated his Superman for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 and Justice League in 2017.

George Reeves made Superman a household name when he portrayed him on Adventures of Superman airing from 1952-58. Superman would also be played by Dean Cain in Lois & Clark and Tom Welling in Smallville.

The Man of Steel would be represented in animation several more times over the decades. The New Adventures of Superman from 1966 to 1970 and Superman the Animated Series from 1996 to 2000. And, in other DCU-animated series such as Justice League.

Not bad for humble beginnings.

Superman comic books have never been out of publication since he first appeared in 1938. Action Comics 1,000 was published in June of 2018. Superman stood tall and proud for the occasion.

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Not forgotten, Ol’ Chum

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Today is the first anniversary of the passing of Adam West. He will forever be typecast as Batman.

For many he was their first Batman. Their only Batman.

For me he was a Batman. Not my first. That would be Denny O’Neil with either Neal Adams or Irv Novick.

Then reruns of the 1960s The Adventures of Batman and my Mego’s Greatest Super Heroes eight-inch likeness. That and some imagination.

Mr. West and his interpretation would be my third Batman. The one I watched after school on a black-and-white, rabbit-eared television in my bedroom. With two episodes back-to-back. None of this waiting a coupla days to tune to the same Bat-channel at the same Bat-time for a conclusion.

This was during the mid-1970s on UHF channel 20 outta Washington D.C.

In those days camp was what you did in the woods. In those days Batman 1966 was high entertainment. It was bif, bam pow – all with exclamation points.

As time passed and innocence was washed from my eyes I learned another definition for camp. The series became somewhat of an embarrassment. To me. To the industry. To Batman.

By 1989 a Robin had died, Frank Miller christened him the Dark Knight and Tim Burton was taking Batman back to the big screen. This time in a serious manner.

It came and went. As did Batman Returns and the inevitable sequels chasing after fanboys’ money.

These became the embarrassments. The big-budget, effects-laden movies that were to lay the 1966 series to rest.

What happened is many of us grew to appreciate the old again. Accept it for what was and will always be:  fun entertainment. It represented – and still does – a simpler time for most of us. For me it was afternoons with my Mego super heroes and villains. Playing in my bedroom, waiting for the call to supper.

It was – and still is – a piece of our childhood we should cherish.

Watching it now with my son in HD on a huge television screen is different than how I experienced it to begin with. But, Dylan’s different. The times are different.

But, Batman is still Batman. He has as many masks to charm us with as gadgets in his utility belt. Each one is as meaningful as the one before and the one that follows.

Thank you, Mr. West, for wearing one of those masks. One we can enjoy over and over again.

 

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Jingle Belle (2004) 1

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Jingle Belle (2004) 1

Jingle Belle (2004) 1

Jingle Belle attacks the skeptics who say she doesn’t exist.

To do so, she decides on a Christmas special. In the style of the Rankin/Bass stop-motion puppet spectaculars of old. The network likes the idea of a special; just not her vision.

Paul Dini destroys demographics with his version of a seasonal special. He raids the Rankin/Bass treasure trope for the villains while giving George Lucas a sly nod.

“A Very Special Jingle Belle Special” is worth the price of the book alone, but Dini tosses in a follow up that teaches the greedy a lesson.

“Nibble, Nibble” introduces Polly Green, a self-styled suburban witch. Jingle Belle makes a guest appearance to help the youthful witch with family trouble.

Stephanie Gladden takes a page from Phil Folio with her illustrations.

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Punisher Holiday Special (1993) 3

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Punisher Holiday Special (1993) 3

Punisher Holiday Special (1993) 3

Frank Castle’s third and final holiday special hit comic book shops just in time for the 1994 Christmas season.

“Cold Land” and “X-Mas Stalkings” are buffeted by the “Punisher’s Arsenal” and “Punisher War Journal Equipment” pages. Charles Dixon and Dale Eaglesham relate the first story while Mike Lackey and Phil Gosier bat cleanup.

“Cold Land” takes no prisoners as the Punisher attempts to save a boy from the sins of his father.

“X-Mas Stalkings” shows a more psychological thriller side to the book. Charles Quinn has found a fixation at random. His fetish has led to a fantasy life that ruins everyone else’s. When the confrontation comes, Quinn dies for a misunderstanding he created.

Of the three holiday specials, this is the best. A strong finish to 1990s vigilantism.

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Giant Days Where Women Glow and Men Plunder

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A holiday in Australia for the holidays.

Not much here Christmas wise. A decked out tree and some other imagery, but the main thrust of the book is a young man visiting his girlfriend and (barely) surviving a week with her family.

Giant Days Where Women Glow and Men Plunder

Giant Days Where Women Glow and Men Plunder

Ed Gemmel is the victim in this story. A victim of his own hormones and the wilds of Australia. Nina Archer is the object of his affections. Those intentions are tested by her father, brother and rival boys from the next town over.

During his stay Ed must prove his manhood to impress the cast. He finally does as intelligence triumphs over sheer muscle.

I thought long and hard about including this. As mentioned earlier the holidays are just an excuse for the vacation.

The meat of the story is in the interaction with the supporting cast.

Still, I read the book and rather than waste the time spent with an Englishman in a strange land, I thought I’d include it anyway. Take what you want from the review, such as it is, but pick the book up and read it to decide for yourself.

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