Archive for the ‘Marvel Comics’ Category

Posted Saturday, July 20th, 2019 by Barry

Werewolf by Night (1972) 32

In honor of National Moon Day, today, Four Color Holidays looks at Moon Knight.

Moon Knight first appeared in Werewolf by Night 32, August 1975. He returned in issue 33, then was granted a two-issue solo series in Marvel Spotlight issues 28 and 29. Ironically enough, Marvel Spotlight is where Werewolf by Night got his start.

Werewolf by Night (1972) 32

Werewolf by Night (1972) 32

After a two-year layoff, Moon Knight returned as a guest in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) issues 22 and 23. From there, Moon Knight bounced around appearing in Marvel Two-in-One issue 52. Later he would join the Defenders in issues 47-51.

His final outing before earning his own title came as back up stories in Hulk! (1978) issues 11-15, 17-18 and 20 and Marvel Preview (1975) 21.

Moon Knight received his own series in 1980 under the guidance of Doug Moench and Bill Sienkiewicz. It would last 38 issues and be followed by the Moon Knight – Fist of Khonshu six-issue mini-series in 1985.

The journeyman character would roam the Marvel U until 1989 when he received his second ongoing series, Marc Spector:  Moon Knight. This lasted through 60 issues ending in 1994.

Moon Knight would appear in one-shots and minis over the next 10 years. Not until 2006 would he receive another ongoing title. He would appear off-and-on throughout the remainder of the former decade and this in his own titles finally settling back with the Marvel Legacy numbering system reaching issue 200.

The Moon Knight character is as complicated as his publishing history. First introduced as a mercenary, he would embrace the label. Marc Spector became that personality. After his baptism by violence and moon light, Spector became a hero branching off into Steven Grant, the millionaire playboy who financed Moon Knight’s adventures and Jake Lockley, the cab driving everyman who earned the respect of the common people.

Those split personalities would manifest themselves over the years and become a point of contention with Moon Knight and those involved in his world.

To date, he is one of the few Marvel characters that has not been earmarked for a multi-media offshoot. His personality disorders and moon worship have often been cited as the cause.

National Moon Day is observed annually on June 20 to commemorate the first moon landing in 1969. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first two men to set foot on the moon.

In 1971, President Richard M. Nixon proclaimed National Moon Landing Day on July 20. Richard Christmas rallied to continue the day when no official proclamation followed. Through a letter-writing campaign Christmas persevered and June 20 is recognized by most states in the union.

Posted Saturday, July 13th, 2019 by Barry

Hallmark Holiday ornaments

Posted Thursday, July 4th, 2019 by Barry

Marvel Treasury Special Featuring Captain America’s Bicentennial Battles (1976) 1

As the fireworks color the sky in flashes of brilliant hues and loud retorts let’s remember the King: Jack “King” Kirby.

Kirby’s name is synonymous with comic books. So much so he was one of the original three inductees into the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 1987.

Most will remember Kirby as co-creator of the Marvel Universe. Depending on how you feel ownership should be distributed, he and Stan Lee partnered in the formation of such properties as the Fantastic Four, Hulk, early members of the X-Men, etc.

Prior to working with Lee, Kirby was co-creator on Captain America in 1941.

It’s this creation, whom he partnered with Joe Simon to give life, that Kirby takes on this Bicentennial pilgrimage to the heart of America. All courtesy of an odd guide named simply Mr. Buda.

Through his own eyes and the eyes of those he comes in contact with, Captain America is truly allowed to learn what the nation whose name he boasts really is about. The journey takes the star-spangled hero through time; past, present and future.

Cap becomes entwined with the formation of our nation through struggle and strife. The pain of others is passed on to him. More importantly, so is the hope. The hope for a new way of life.

The journey takes Cap through some of the most turbulent of times including the Revolutionary War, slave trade and World War I. The persecution of the American Indians and great Chicago Fire. In each era Cap was allowed to experience life as it happened.

This tabloid-sized treasury was created after Kirby’s return to Marvel Comics in 1975. Kirby was already working the monthly Captain America comic book at the time.

During this second stay at Marvel, Kirby would dabble in more science fiction-grounded characters and titles. Creations at this time included the Celestials and The Eternals.

By the end of the decade Kirby left Marvel for a second and final time.

The book was originally published under the Marvel Treasury imprint, but as a special. Since then it has been reprinted in the first Captain America omnibus, Essential Captain America trade volume five, King-Size Kirby Slipcase, Marvel Masterworks: Captain America volume 10 and the self-titled trade.

Posted Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019 by Barry

Hulk (1968) 182

What do Hulk 182 and National Eat Your Beans Day have in common?

The most obvious feature of issue 182 is the third appearance of Wolverine. Just one page. Only three panels, but still the official third appearance of the mega popular character.

Yet that’s not what causes Hulk 182 to make the list for July 3. No, it’s another character. One that only appears in this issue:  Cracka-Jack Jackson.

Hulk (1968) 182

Hulk (1968) 182

Well, Cracka-Jack and his meal of choice: beans.

Having failed to capture the Hulk in the previous two issues, Wolverine is dispatched back to headquarters. The Hulk is subdued with gas, but awakens only to escape once more. During his aimless travels, the Hulk discovers Cracka-Jack.

The homeless minstrel welcomes the green-skinned stranger and offers him what is left of dinner, beans.

The Hulk takes a liking to the meal and it becomes his request as the two share their travels until scribe Len Wein amps up the action.

Hulk remembers the meal throughout future issues giving us license to use this book as a commemoration of the day.

National Eat Your Beans Day is described as “a ‘live healthy’ holiday observed on July 3. This day celebrates the bean vegetable in all sizes, shapes and colors. Beans (legumes) are one of the longest-cultivated plants dating back to the early seventh millennium BCE.

Celebrate with a bean-based recipe, but maybe do it alone.

Posted Saturday, June 29th, 2019 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1962) 2

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.

Posted Friday, June 21st, 2019 by Barry

Franklin Richards: Summer Smackdown! (2008)

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.

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.