Archive for the ‘Marvel Comics’ Category

Posted Sunday, May 12th, 2019 by Barry

A Year of Marvels May 01

Okay, not sure about a lot of the details on this other than from the standard release published ad nauseum on Web sites.

In 2016 it looks as if Marvel released a series of monthly one-shots under its Marvel Digital Comics imprint. Since then it has been released in hardcopy as a trade paperback.

Based on release info, artists celebrated a holiday each month throughout the year. In May, readers received a – pun intended – monstrous Mother’s Day tale.

A Year of Marvels May 01

A Year of Marvels May 01

X-23 cum Wolverine teams with She-Hulk tackling sister Wendigoes sired by Mother Monster. Her real name.

Mother Monster experimented with cannibalism to craft her (wo)man made monsters. Success was elusive until she was able to feed her “daughters” authentic Wendigo meat. The combination of human and Wendigo flesh created a hybrid pair.

With She-Hulk and X-23/Wolverine captured, Mother Monster tried to transfer their powers to the man-made Wendigoes. X-23/Wolverine is able to nullify Monster Mother’s machination and earn the respect of She-Hulk.

Dennis Culver scripted the story with Geoffo and Leonardo Romero fleshing out the visuals. Overall the story is a nice piece harkening back to the original – and first appearance – of Wolverine and the Hulk. If you have to ask what issue that was, you shouldn’t be reading this.

A fun romp for Mother’s Day.

Posted Saturday, May 4th, 2019 by Barry

May the Fourth be With You

No, May 4 is not a recognized holiday. I don’t even think there are any greeting cards available – yet.

It’s just a matter of time. With Big Bang Theory memorializing it May 1, 2014, in The Proton Transmogrification episode, it must be an important day.

And, May 4 is important. Not only is it officially Star Wars Day and Free Comic Book Day this year, it is also my birthday. A day I celebrate in a variety of forms from just hanging at the house to venturing out for Free Comic Book Day.

So, focusing on the Star Wars Day aspect let’s talk old school Star Wars comic books. The Marvel years. From 1977 to 1986. The ones that filled in holes when fans had to wait three years to see the next installment. When nothing else was available but the Holiday Special and spin-off novelizations.

These are the issues that gave us Jaxxon, a near-mythical rabbit in a space jumpsuit and green complexion. The comic books where Jabba was introduced as a bipedal humanoid with a walrus look. The ones where Luke returned to Tatooine and hijacked a Sandcrawler.

Those are the two issues I’d like to focus on this year.

Issues 31 and 32; Return to Tatooine! and The Jawa Express. Maybe my favorite story arc from the original series.

I don’t know why. Both hit spin racks in the latter part of 1979. Maybe I was just ready for the release of Empire. It had been so long since Star Wars first appeared in theaters. Even re-releases weren’t enough. We had to see where the franchise was going. What was going to happen to Luke, Han, Leia and others.

These two issues just seemed to sum up the era. Having been separated for several issues, Luke, Han, Leia and gang did regroup. On Tatooine of all places.

Together they run afoul of Orman Tagge who is attempting to build another weapon as devastating as the Death Star. As stated a couple of paragraphs above, the heroes go so far as to hijack a Sandcrawler. It’s ludacris and indicative of the times, but so satisfying for old-school fans. It’s a dip in the legendary Lazarus pit to renew the soul.

If you haven’t read these stories or it’s been a while, dig ‘em out. Show ‘em the love they deserve.

Posted Sunday, April 7th, 2019 by Barry

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

Comic book shops were common place by the beginning of the 1990s, but original graphic novels and trade paperbacks were not.

The Might Marvel holiday Wish List, sporting a caroling Spidey, Hulk and Cap, was a festive gift guide for the comic book fan. What could be simpler? Make a check beside the corresponding title, hand it to the gift giver and wait for Christmas morning.

Looking back at this pre-internet solicitation reminds me of how far the industry has come. Of course I forget this is 30 years ago.

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

The year 1990 doesn’t seem that long ago. Saying 30 years does.

Anyway, 30-years ago trades and collections were not the norm. Marvel had its high-end Masterworks and DC its Archive editions. Those were available in most comic book shops and retail book chains. They were just pricey for the day.

Trades were much more reasonable, but still a novelty. That’s why it’s so odd looking at the ad paper and seeing so few story arcs collected.

Readers must also remember this was a time when stories were written from beginning to end with no worries about how they would fit in a trade.

As much as I love Neil Gaiman and Sandman, I blame the wordsmith for the advent of trade-length story arcs. He invented the four- to six-issue story arc with a few one-and-dones in between that seem to have become the industry standard for trades.

So, sit back and check out the Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List – in full – courtesy ComicBookDaily.com. It’s a nostalgic look at the not-so-distant past.

Posted Thursday, April 4th, 2019 by Barry

Marvel Holiday Special (2005)

Marvel recycled the cover and stories for its Marvel Holiday Special trade, but the original 2005 one-shot was all original.

Marvel Holiday Special (2005)

Marvel Holiday Special (2005)

Shaenon K. Garrity serves up a jaunty pre-Christmas tale with shades of Citizen Kane. The Fantastic Four and Namor celebrate the holiday to satisfy an aggrieved Moleman’s childhood fancy in “Moleman’s Christmas.”

The disgruntled youth’s misgiving-theme is continued in “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santatron.” Spider-Man swings in late for the annual Avenger’s Christmas party. An unexpected – and unwanted – guest arrives in a Tannenbaum trimmed Trojan horse. Heroes prove their mettle as they circumvent the intrusion with a confederate confection.

Marvel’s holiday season comes to a close with “Christmas Day in Manhattan.” A rhythmic recital has the Fantastic Four saving another holiday from a poor-intentioned father. Their mercy provides presents for the innocents.

This 2005 edition is a worthy addition to any collector’s repository. A goodly portion of the Marvel U appears in either leading rolls or in cameos. The stories are heartwarming without being saccharine and the feeling of the season is almost tangible.

Posted Saturday, March 23rd, 2019 by Barry

Punisher MAX X-Mas Special 1

Frank Castle can’t stop the Massacre of Innocents, but does save the life of one in “And on Earth Peace, Good Will Toward Men.” Don Maranzano is the King Herod in this Christmas passion play.

The Castellano family is about to sire another heir to the criminal empire. Maranzano wishes to halt the birth and orders the slaughter of all children in the birth ward. The intended one not yet born, Baby Castellano escapes the carnage.

The story takes an even more Biblical turn when the Punisher hides the parents-to-be at a race track stable. Would be attackers are thwarted once more and the baby is given a chance at a normal life.

The X-MAX title hit comic book shops for the 2008 season.

The Punisher was first introduced in Amazing Spider-Man 129. He was created by Gerry Conway, John Romita, Sr and Ross Andru. The MAX imprint was launched by Marvel in 2001 and aimed at adult readers. That said, Punisher MAX X-Mas Special 1 is not for the faint of heart.

Posted Thursday, February 7th, 2019 by Barry

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

DC beat Marvel to the holiday punch with the first of the Christmas specials beginning in 1974.

The Marvel Treasury Special was released Nov. 26 of that year on the heels of DC’s Limited Collector’s Edition (C-34) that hit newsstands Nov. 7.

Whereas DC had decades of material to draw from, Marvel had a little over 10-years worth of stories to plumb.

Naturally “Have Yourself a Sandman Little Christmas!” led the list.

It was a reprint from Marvel Team-Up issue one starring Spider-Man and the Human Torch battling Sandman. A sappy story that brought out the season in both heroes who allowed Sandman to visit his mother on Christmas Eve.  The good deed does not go unpunished leading both heroes to a continuation of the story in issue two.

The remainder of the book is what the title promised:  a grab-bag.

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

Marvel Treasury Special (1974)

In “Mortal Combat with…Sub-Mariner” is reprinted from Daredevil issue seven. Namor makes land fall to seek out Matt Murdock to serve as his lawyer. The sea prince wishes to sue the surface world for its exploitation of the other three quarters of the Earth.  Murdock’s alter ego is called upon when he refuses to take the case.

Black Widow stars in the next story taken from Amazing Adventures (1970) issue five. An unremarkable story. Maybe the most noteworthy of the book is Neal Adam’s assumption of penciling chores on the Inhuman’s story.

Fantastic Four issues 25 and 26, a two-part tale, finish out the book. The Thing and Hulk go toe-to-toe in issue 25 with the Avengers guest starring in the second part.

Far from the holiday specials to come in the 1990s, but at least setting a precedence for the company.

Posted Monday, January 28th, 2019 by Barry

Season’s Beatings (2019) 1

Here’s one that slipped past me last Christmas.

At first glance, not much to write home about. “Pete & Miles in Off Duty,” is no Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. Only the best incarnation of all the silver screen Spider-Mans by the way. No, “Pete & Miles in Off Duty” is, well, not sure how to describe it.

Confusing?

In a way.

Lifeless?

Yeah, you could say that.

In short it’s just not good.

Now, “Nuts and Bots” is a different story. Literally. Squirrel Girl and Doc Doom. C’mon. That’s a match up. Not a heavy weight title bout, but still way more entertaining than midget wrestling.

Finally, Squirrel Girl is getting a little respect. She deserves it. Her own title and some guest appearances. Good stuff.

What I haven’t mentioned about the holiday special is the Deadpool framing sequence. Deadpool is our emcee for the show. In a Saturday Night Live or old Muppet Show twist, Deadpool is brought forward from behind-the-scenes allowing Squirrel Girl to interact with him.

The two go toe-to-toe, not with fisticuffs or weapons, but in a far more deadly verbal one-on-one.

Finally, “Holi-La-La-Days” continues to make amends for a slow start. Deadpool steps out of the framing sequence to help move the story to a satisfying conclusion with Hawkeye playing detective.

A worthy addition to anyone’s holiday collection.

Posted Saturday, January 26th, 2019 by Barry

Wolverine: Flies to a Spider

Wolverine: Flies to a Spider reads more like a grindhouse movie than a New Year’s Eve celebration.

Logan takes on small town corruption to avenge the death of an innocent.

The more I think about it, the more I appreciate the book. The more it reminds me of those 1970s drive-in classics. The more it feels right.

Right for the character.

Gregg Hurwitz does a good job unsheathing the claws. Jerome Opena does an equally good job in rendering those claws.

Chris Claremont gave Logan his catch phrase in the 1982 Wolverine mini-series, “I’m the best at what I do. And, what I do isn’t very nice.”

None of Flies to a Spider is nice. Just satisfying.

Wolverine: Flies to a Spider

Posted Thursday, January 17th, 2019 by Barry

Daredevil (1964) 253

Daredevil (1964) 253

Daredevil (1964) 253

The only person to cause Daredevil more grief than the Kingpin is Frank Miller.

For 23 issues Miller penned and penciled a path through love and loss. Those were arguably two of the most riveting years of Daredevil’s life. Miller took a second-tier, blind hero and catapulted him to the levels of A-list, flagship characters like Spider-Man and Hulk.

In addition, Miller added to the pantheon of Marvel mythos by creating Electra Natchios. A former lover of Matt Murdock, Elektra returned to steal and break Murdock’s heart. Miller eventually brought the relationship to a tragic end having Bullseye murder her.

So popular was the character, the powers to be at Marvel refused to allow her a restful repose.

Issue 253 is a continuation of the Kingpin’s crusade to crush Murdock and his alter ego in “Merry Christmas, Kingpin.” It began in Miller’s original treatment of the character and escalated in the epic Born Again story arc that marked Miller’s return as scribe to DD. This time it’s Ann Nocenti and John Romita, Jr., in the driver’s seat.

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.