Archive for the ‘Marvel Comics’ Category

Posted Thursday, September 29th, 2022 by Barry

Special Marvel Edition Featuring… (1971) 15

At the risk of seeming insensitive, we’re taking today, Confucius Day, and coupling it with the first appearance of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu.

I say, “…not to seem insensitive…” in that I’m using a Bronze-Age fictional Chinese comic book character to represent a revered, real-life Chinese philosopher, poet and politician.

Rest assured; no slight is intended.

Confucius is believed to have been born Sept. 28, 551 BC in the 22nd year of the reign of Emperor Xiang. His birth name was Kong Qiu, but was referred to as Master Kong.

Though his father died when Confucius was three and raised in poverty, the future master became a studious child, excelling in his learnings. At 22, Confucius started his first private school in China. Several of his earliest students became noblemen and political administrators.

Special Marvel Edition Featuring… (1971) 15

In his 50s, Confucius was named his home-town’s Grand Minister of Justice. As his status grew, so did his teachings, first across China and, later, the world.

Confucius’s birthday is also observed as Teacher’s Day in China and Taiwan because Confucius believed in education without discrimination. Confucius disciples came from different social classes, and he accommodated them all.

The philosopher/fighter we defer today is a creation of two Americans as told in the form of a completely American creation. Steve Englehart and Jim Starlin wished to adapt the popular Kung Fu television series of the time into comic book form. After DC Comics turned a deaf ear to their pitch, the duo approached Marvel Comics.

By this time the two wished to create their own martial arts master.

Editor-in-Chief Roy Thomas gave the go ahead with the caveat Marvel’s recently acquired license of Sax Rohmer’s Dr. Fu Manchu be incorporated into the mythos.

Shang-Chi debuted in Special Marvel Edition issue 15. He proved popular enough to make two more appearances in the former reprint book before earning his own title.

With issue 17, Special Marvel Edition became The Hands of Shang-Chi, Maser of Kung Fu. The book would outlast the martial arts fad of the 1970s running to 1983 and issue 125.

Along the way, Shang-Chi would star in four giant-size editions, an annual a Special Collector’s Edition, The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu special one, and make regular appearances in The Deadly Hands of Kung Fu magazine.

The 1980s and early 1990s afforded Shang Chi a much-needed rest, but he would continue to guest in specials and other Marvel character books.

With interest in the Marvel Universe beyond the printed page, Shang-Chi bided his time until his franchise was optioned for the big screen. In anticipation, a new title appeared and he finally debuted in theaters in 2021 in the self-titled Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

The loosely-based retelling of the 1970s four-color martial arts master met with unexpected success at the box office returning over $400 million worldwide.

To commemorate the day, follow the philosophy of the non-holiday’s namesake, but by all means, please explore the world of an underused, under-appreciated character whose story is more than worth telling…it’s worth reading.

Posted Monday, September 26th, 2022 by Barry

Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner (1968) 23

A mascot for an entertainment franchise takes center stage as we celebrate Shamu the Whale Day.

September 26 has been set aside to honor and commemorate the original and subsequent Orcas since.

Shamu became a staple of SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment in the 1960s. The first park was built in 1964 and became known as SeaWorld San Diego followed by a site in Aurora, Ohio, then called SeaWorld Ohio. The advent of Disney World in Florida brought about SeaWorld Orlando in 1973 and SeaWorld San Antonio (Texas) in 1976.

Over time, SeaWorld’s killer whales, or Orcas, became its main attraction. Shamu was the name of the first Orca at the original San Diego site. It has since been adopted for each park and each successor over the years.

Prince Namor, The Sub-Mariner (1968) 23

September 26 was chosen to celebrate all the Shamus though it is based on the day in 1985 and the first surviving baby Shamu.

At least originally.

Shamu the Whale Day is currently more suited for allowing killer whales to live in their native biosphere rather than a created one. Understanding the world around us has become more common rather than adopting and adapting it to suit our needs.

For instance, the original Shamu was captured in 1965. It died in 1971 following an accident during a performance. Today, 37 years ago, marks the first Shamu who survived birth in captivity.

Even SeaWorld announced in 2016 it would no longer breed Orcas in captivity.

To better understand the 50,000 Orcas alive today, people are encouraged to inform themselves and others. This can be done through printed matter, documentaries or lectures.

When done, we recommend turning to Sub-Mariner (1968) issue 23.

Our killer whale was an Atlantean solider in the army of Warlord Krang in his attempts to wrest control of the Atlantean throne from Namor. After the failed attempt, Orka goes into hiding with his master. A psionic amplified belt turns Orka into his namesake and he aids Krang in another attempt at usurping the throne. This ends in failure as well.

Over the years, Orka went from villain to a hero of sorts. After the events of Civil War, he teamed with then current incarnation of Heroes for Hire. He was killed during the series, but resurrected during the Dark Reign storyline and, later, became a member of Namor’s Defenders of the Deep.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the day, remember we are not alone on Earth.

Posted Monday, September 12th, 2022 by Barry

National Video Game Day

Not to be confused with Video Game Day, National Video Game Day is held Sept. 12 each year allowing the armchair enthusiast their day in the sun – so to speak.

Most video game historians consider 1971 the dawn of video games. In 1971 Computer Space was released by Nutting Associates for the commercial market. Pong followed the next year, released for arcades by Atari.

Spider-Man for the Atari 2600

It was also the year Magnavox released the Odyssey video game system. Pong followed suit in 1976 with the home-system release of Pong.

In 1977 Atari unveiled the Atari Video Computer System. The system allowed for individual games to be stored on cartridges which could be interchanged enabling the system to play more than one game.

Not until 1985 did the floodgates open with the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Over the years video games and comic book characters have intermingled. One of the earliest is Spider-Man for the Atari 2600. Marvel’s loveable web head battled the Green Goblin on a paltry 6502 microprocessor with an anemic 128 bytes of RAM on the Stella graphics chip.

The game was released in 1982 by Parker Brothers for the 2600 and Sears clone, the Sears Video Arcade. Spidey webbed his way to the top of high rise while defusing the Goblin’s bombs.

Not exciting by today’s standards, but the game was a success.

As of this writing, the most recent Spider-Man video game is 2018’s action-adventure game by Insomniac Games. The PlayStation 4 exclusive sold 3.3-million units in its first three days of release, earning an estimated $198 million.

So, take time to remember the superhero games that have come before and enjoy a day of vintage or current punch outs and puzzles as your favorite hero tackles their toughest villains.

Posted Thursday, September 8th, 2022 by Barry

Summer Fun with the Marvel Super Heroes (1985)

Summer has about a month of life left on the calendar, so let’s celebrate with the Marvel heroes circa 1985.

Summer Fun with the Marvel Super Heroes (1985) courtesy of mycomicshop.com

This $.99 ready to colorize adventure was written by Suzanne Weyn with art by Steve Geiger and Phil Lord. Participants were invited to “read along” while adding life to the two-dimensional, monochrome 48-page tome. Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man and – surprisingly – Black Cat headline the book.

This is a tamer version of summer fun than the Marvel Illustrated Swimsuit editions published from 1991 to 1995 featuring the curvier heroes and villains frolicking in the sun and surf in swimsuits.

Marvel chose to “imitate” the Sports Illustrated swimsuit editions, even going so far on the first offering as to use font and other features. Future editions would become more independent of the format.

Marvel was not the first to offer a fanboy’s fantasy. Fantagraphics Books published the Amazing Heroes Swimsuit issue beginning in 1987.

The Marvel line offered a theme for each issue. The first outing showcased the MCU during the Super Olympics held in the Savage Land. Subsequent issues placed characters in Wakanda for T’Challa’s engagement party. Issue two took place on Monster Island courtesy of Pip the Troll and the Infinity gems. Swimsuit Special three commemorated the Water Festival of the Inhumans on the Moon and the final installment was designed as a tourism boost for Madripoor.

The books were met with mixed reviews, but remembered. Enough so the title was rumored to be resurrected in 2015 only to be halted in the sketchbook phase. The Marvel Summer Special, aka Marvel Swimsuit Special, was actually solicited only to be cancelled in 2019. Marvel failed to offer a reason for yanking the project.

Whatever your feelings on the books, mainline some more Vitamin D before the days shorten much more.

Posted Friday, September 2nd, 2022 by Barry

Popsicle Comics (2015)

Marvel proves – again – there’s mucho money to be made in cross promotion and advertising.

Popsicle Comics (2015)

The House of Ideas pimped itself out once more in 2015 to co-create Flavor Force Popsicle Comics based on just what the title reads. The comic books featured a trio of factory manufactured flavors fighting evil done the Marvel way. The nine-part mini-series starred Ace Cherry, Popsicle Pete and Mandy Orange fighting against the evil Lord Weathervane.

The comic book was available in comic book stores or Popsicle.com (don’t bother, it’s long gone) or Marvel’s digital platform.

Apparently, this wasn’t the first combination of comics and flavored ice as Marvel and Popsicle teamed in 2003 featuring the frozen likenesses of Spider-Man and the Hulk as well as flying the colors of other Marvel heroes.

All of this to celebrate National Blueberry Popsicle Day. Though the flavor didn’t make the heroic line up of mid 2010’s Marvel merchandising, it does rate its own day.

Why?

‘Cuz someone somewhere decided it should exist.

Popsicles have been around since the 1920s, the frosty fevered dream of 11-year-old Frank Epperson. Young Master Epperson left his fruit drink sitting on the porch one cold night, complete with stirring stick. The next morning, he found it frozen and ready to lick. Epperson dubbed the creation the epsicle. It was changed to popsicle 18 years later.

While today is National Blueberry Popsicle Day, the most popular flavor is cherry. It’s day in the sun is August 26. Sorry we missed that one. Maybe next year.

 

Posted Friday, August 26th, 2022 by Barry

Fantastic Four (1961) 45

For a third year, let’s pause and remember our four-legged friends.

Yes, today is National Dog Appreciation Day. We’ve remembered with two DC greats, Krypto and Ace. This year let’s look at the crosstown competition and celebrate with Lockjaw.

The Inhumans mascot first appeared in the pages of Fantastic Four 45 way back in December of 1965. That’s even before me. His creators were the immortal Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

Lockjaw serves as loyal protector to the Royal Family. His ability to teleport makes him a handy addition to the Inhumans.

Fantastic Four (1961) 45

He would later co-star with fellow pet sidekicks Redwing, Ms. Lion, Zabu, Niels the Cat/Hairball and Throg as a member of the Pet Avengers. The group shared top billing in the four-issue mini series from 2009 of the same name. It proved popular enough, two more minis followed, Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers: Unleashed in 2010 and Avengers vs. the Pet Avengers that same year and overlapping into 2011.

Lockjaw has appeared outside the four-color world, first on the 1978 Fantastic Four animated series in Blastaar, the Living Bomb Burst. He next guested in the 1994 version of the FF in Hopelessly Impossible. He has had recurring appearances on Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. in Inhuman in Nature and Planet Monster part 2.

Spider-Man hosted the hound in Agent Web of the Ultimate Spider-Man (2012) cartoon. He also guest starred on the Guardians of the Galaxy animated series, Crystal Blue Persuasion.

But, enough about our host and more about the day itself.

National Dog Appreciation Day was founded in 2004 by Colleen Paige. To celebrate, adopt a dog, give yours a special treat or simply donate time or money a local animal shelter.

Posted Tuesday, August 9th, 2022 by Barry

Fantastic Four (1961) 123

Quick, name the vice president.

Don’t worry if you can’t. Nearly a third of all Americans have no idea who is one misstep away from the Oval Office.

So, why celebrate the office?

Fantastic Four (1961) 123

Vice presidents do have a purpose. They are second in command. It is their duty to step up if the sitting president dies or resigns while in office.

That’s what National VEEP Day is celebrating. The day commemorates Aug. 9, 1974, when President Richard Milhous Nixon stepped down from the Oval Office and Vice President Gerald Ford was sworn in as the 38th president of the United States of America.

No one is exactly sure when the day began to be commemorated, but its origins stem from Nixon’s resignation.

Nixon was a vice president, serving under President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1953 to 1961. He lost his initial White House bid to President John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential campaign. He sought, and received, the Republican Presidential nomination in 1968, winning with his slogan “Nixon’s the One.”

June 17, 1972, was the beginning of the end of Nixon’s presidency when five men were caught breaking into the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate building in Washington, D.C. The public eventually learned of Nixon’s involvement in the cover up and the president resigned rather than face impeachment.

Due to the time frame in which these events occurred and the relevancy of comic books as a mainstream medium, we can serve up the man who made this non-holiday happen: Richard Nixon.

The comic book we’re holding up as a beacon is Fantastic Four 123. The heroes are caught in their second struggle against Galactus. Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, has hijacked the world eater’s ship threatening to destroy it unless Galactus leaves.

Earth is saved by the Silver Surfer who agrees to become Galactus’ herald again. The two are then dispatched to the Negative Zone.

During the confrontation, Richard Nixon is depicted as the president reminding Reed 1972 is an election year and to settle the matter so life could go on for the voting public.

Nixon had made an appearance one year prior in the Marvel U, this time in Captain America 144.

He and Vice President Spiro Agnew guested in Incredible Hulk 147 in 1972 in addition to the FF’s 123.

Nixon would make one more appearance that year, this time in DC’s From Beyond the Unknown issue 17. As with FF 123, the president would be featured on the cover and interior of the book.

Other authors and artists would dredge up the disgraced president after his departure from the White House.

To observe National VEEP Day, you can dig up some information of the vice presidency or just find the Fantastic Four-story arc 123 belongs to and enjoy yourself more.

Posted Wednesday, August 3rd, 2022 by Barry

Micronauts (1979) 18

Playday is an annual United Kingdom event held the first Wednesday in August designed to keep fun activity alive and well for children.

Mick Conway, Paul Bonel and Kim Holdaway began their campaign in 1986 for a day of play to be recognized. The first events were held in 1987. Those grew to more than a dozen in London by 1989. It became a national event in 1991 and is currently the largest celebration of its kind in Europe.

Playday fare include street parties, festivals and community events of all kinds.

Representing the day is Micronauts issue 18.

Micronauts (1979) 18

The Micronauts return from a two-issue mission guest-starring the Fantastic Four, crash landing in a backyard. They find themselves under the thumb of a child wishing to make up new adventures for the action figures.

Her fun is ended when the mother tears the child away from her play and near destruction of the titular heroes.

The Micronauts began as a Mego toy line in 1976 in the United States, but were put to rest by Kenner’s licensed Star Wars franchise by 1980.

To bolster sales, Marvel began a series of the same title in 1979. It would continue through 1986 with 59 issues printed. Two annuals were also included in the run.

It would become exclusive to comic book shops with issue 38. Other titles going the direct route included Moon Knight and Kazar the Savage.

Overseas, in the UK, Micronauts appeared as a second feature in Star Wars Weekly. It was then moved into the first nine issues of Star Heroes Pocketbook with Battlestar Galactica. Later it was relegated to Future Tense, a reprint anthology.

Marvel dredged a few more dollars from the original material with a five-issue Micronauts Special Edition reprinting issues 1-12.

In 1984, the book was retitled The New Voyages and continued for another 20 issues into 1986.

Image Comics procured the license in 2002 for 11 issues. Devil’s Due Publishing attempted to relaunch the franchise in 2004. It ran three issues.

IDW is the present license holder having published the first issue in 2016.

For those who remember the line of toys from the Me Decade, these might be worth digging out for a nostalgic trip.

If you don’t have the figures or don’t remember, there are many other activities available to recognize the day set aside for play.

Posted Wednesday, July 20th, 2022 by Barry

Marvel Spotlight (1971) 2

Welcome to another National Moon Day.

For a third year we recognize the non-holiday spearheaded by former President Richard M. Nixon in 1971. To date, we have used Marc (Moon Knight) Spector and John (Man Wolf) Jameson as our emcees for the day. This year we call on Jack Russel (I’m sure the pun is intended), aka Werewolf by Night.

The Russel curse was unveiled in Marvel Spotlight issue two. Young Jack learned he was the latest in a long line of lycanthropes. The earliest recorded transformation was in 1795 when the surname was still Russoff.

Marvel Spotlight (1971) 2

Through a convoluted back story, the curse went into remission until ancestor Gregor Russoff opened the Darkhold book and released the family demon once again.

Following the Werewolf’s debut, two more stories were released in Spotlight before he received his own title. Werewolf by Night ran 43 issues.

Most notable of the run is issue 32 marking the first appearance of Moon Knight.

WWBN would play host to a second notable first-appearance with Giant-Size Creatures by Night (1974) issue one. Greer Grant Nelson would make her transformation from Cat to the furry Tigra.

Giant-Size Creatures by Night would be renamed Giant-Size Werewolf by Night for issues two through five.

Following the cancellation of his series, Russell made various guest appearances throughout the MCU. Moon Knight would return the favor with a periodic guest spot. Spider-Woman was another stopover, mainly because the two existed on the west coast together.

He would also appear in West Coast Avengers and Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme and became a supporting character in Morbius: The Living Vampire.

Russell was given his own mini in 1998 that ran six issues. In 2007, Russell earned a one-shot, Legion of Monsters, Werewolf by Night and a four-issue mini-series in 2009, Dead of Night Featuring Werewolf by Night under the Max imprint.

On the small screen Russell has appeared in The Super Hero Squad Show, This Man-Thing, This Monster; Ultimate Spider-Man episodes Blade and The Howling Commandos and Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H. Hulking Commandos.

To celebrate today, read any of the above-mentioned issues, watch any of the above-mentioned animated features and/or really delve into some history of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.

Your choice, but all good ones in our opinion.

Posted Monday, July 11th, 2022 by Barry

Marvel’s Collector’s Edition The Secret of the Power Crown! (1981)

It’s that time of year again, one of my favorite non-holidays. Today is July 11, aka 7-Eleven Day.

Today is the day we celebrate with a free brain freeze courtesy of their signature Slurpee.

Any longtime reader of this page will know my passion for those summer slushies sucked down on a hot mid-year day. We’ve discussed 7-Eleven’s history and partnership with DC and Marvel Comics at length in 2019, 2020 and last year.

This year we continue by looking at their relationship with Marvel Comics and the 1981 The Secret of The Power Crown! Featuring Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk and Spider-Woman for the good guys.

Marvel’s Collector’s Edition The Secret of the Power Crown! (1981)

The Enchantress, Wizard Rhino and Trapster make up the opposition.

This 36-page, full-size free comic book was a promotional collector’s item jam packed with punches, passion and product placement.

Peter Parker and Sue’s idyllic afternoon at the local 7-Eleven is interrupted by someone hijacking the Empire State Building in chapter one’s Mission of Gravity! The Wingless Wizard proves to be the unwitting dupe of the Enchantress who leaves him groveling for continued attention following the deed.

Paste Pot Pete, aka the Trapster, stars in Peril on the Potomac! in chapter two.

Captain America greets fans in front of a 7-Eleven near the Washington Monument. The Trapster as been entrusted to dig up a relic for the Enchantress. Like the previous chapter, Pete is left lonesome as the Asgardian turns her affections to the Rhino and the next chapter.

Spider-Woman stars in Shakedown! Set in sleepy San Francisco, the Rhino goes after artifact number two hidden in Alcatraz. The Hulk leaps in to help, ushering in chapter five, Beauty and the Beast!

As the name suggests, the Hulk falls under Enchantress’ spell, serves up the secret power crown now constructed of the resurfaced pieces and defends his mistress from both the heroes and villains who take umbrage for having been played fools.

After a heated battle, the Enchantress escapes while the bad guys are taken into custody. The heroes rendezvous at, where else, a 7-Eleven before going their separate ways.

To cool down after that red hot review, head down to your local 7-Eleven for that free Slurpee. Remember, things are little different now. To prevent people from taking advantage of the offer, participants will receive one, free coupon for a small Slurpee courtesy of their 7Rewards ap.

So, take it easy on the 95-year-old franchise that started convenience stores.