Category Marvel Comics

X-Factor (1986) 27

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Gifts is just that, a gift from Louise and Walter Simonson.

X-Factor (1986) 27

X-Factor (1986) 27

X-Factor – and the mutant population of the Marvel U – are at a crossroads. The X-books are poised to dominate the comic book market. Already they are more popular than flagship titles like the Fantastic Four or Spider-Man.

X-Factor 27 is a lull before the deluge of mutant kind on evereything Marvel. Apocalypse and his four horsemen have been beaten. The X-Men are dead – supposedly. It’s Christmas Eve.

The aftermath of the previous battle is assessed. Many homes have been destroyed and people hospitalized. X-Factor and their mutant charges are no strangers to the bigotry shown them, but neither are they heartless enough to ignore the plight of others.

A majority of New Yorkers are grateful enough to show their appreciation for X-Factor’s sacrifices. A tree and presents flood their new home. But the children understand it is the season of giving and wish to return the bounty to others more needful than themselves.

The story not only offers a transition from one story arc to another, but allows readers a chance to focus on Christmas with the characters. Some of the background stories bleed through, but can be ignored to enjoy a holiday tale.

X-Factor itself began in 1986 with the reunited original X-Men: Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Jean Grey and Ice Man.

Angel, Beast and Ice Men were members of the Defenders when X-Factor launched. The other title was due to be canceled allowing them to return to their original fold.

Their beard against mutant bigotry is to become mutant hunters. The plan is “capture” mutants and teach them how to use their powers. Much like Professor Charles Xavier when he first formed the X-Men.

The title is currently in its fourth incarnation, having launched this year as part of Dawn of X.

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The Punisher Summer Special (1994) 4

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Summer officially ended when the clock tolled at midnight.

Saying goodbye is the final installment of the The Punisher Summer Special. The perennial series ran four years, 1990 to 1994, before Marvel began to feel the industry falter and titles became casualties.

While the book suffered from various writers and artists, issue four made for a worthy swansong.

Don Lomax, a Viet Nam veteran, took a sabbatical from Apple’s Viet Nam Journal to pen the first story, Soiled Legacy. Alberto Saichann gave the story life through his pencils.

Frank Castle, aka Punisher, stumbles upon a poaching ring. Teaming with an African official, the two travel back to the dark continent for justice.

Killing An Afternoon is a welcome Chuck Dixon romp with some dark humor and justice. Frank gives the dentist’s office a worse reputation.

There are still warm days ahead, but the inevitable is coming. Hope the summer was good. It’s a long wait ’till the next one.

Punisher Summer Special (1994) 4

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Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 248

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For a brief time in almost as brief a life, Timothy Harrison is given an opportunity to meet his hero.

Roger Stern writes a doubleheader in this issue, but it’s not “And He Strikes Like a Thunderball” that’s remembered. Cover story and second feature, “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man” is the focus of the book. It also makes a strong case for today’s observance:  National Tackle Kids Cancer Day.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 248

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 248

After reading a column in the Daily Bugle, Peter Parker/Spider-Man is made aware of a fan. While readers won’t learn the real reason for the rare visit till story’s end, we are able to enjoy the wide-eyed innocence of the fan and the bittersweet revelations made by the hero.

With an unprecedented gesture Spider-Man leaves his young fan to face another day. If one is granted. The final panels reveal Timothy has leukemia. His time is short.

Leukemia is the most common type of cancer in children. The American Cancer Society estimates leukemia will claim 22,840 lives this year. About three out of four leukemias among children and teens are acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). Most of the remaining cases are acute myeloid leukemia (AML).

For more information, log onto the ACS Web site.

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Spider-Man Family and His Amazing Friends (2006)

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For those who remember Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends from Saturday mornings, here’s a little love letter. It also helps us celebrate National Video Games Day today as the trio battle Video Man.

Spider-Man Family and His Amazing Friends (2006)

Spider-Man Family and His Amazing Friends (2006)

The issue celebrates the 25th anniversary of the series with cover story “Opposites Attack.” Sean McKeever authors an updated tale of Spider-Man meeting Ice-Man and Firestar. Spidey becomes entangled in a semi-love triangle as envisioned by wife Mary Jane.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was originally broadcast on NBC bridging three seasons. In its first year, Amazing Friends appeared with the 1981 Spider-Man show. In its second season, the series partnered with the Hulk animated series as The Incredible Hulk and Amazing Spider-Man.

The show ran from 1984 to 1986 in re-runs and was dusted off again in the latter part of the 1980s in the 90-minute Marvel Action Universe syndicated series.

Firestar was created for the series. The Human Torch was originally scheduled to appear, but was unavailable due to licensing obligations.

To show appreciation for the non-holiday, participants are recommended to stock up on their favorite creature comforts and post pix on #NationalVideoGamesDay.

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Care Bears (1985) 1

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For the diabetics in the audience make sure your insulin is handy, today is Care Bears Share Your Care Day.

The Care Bears were created as a painting for greeting cards in 1981. By 1983 they had a firm claw hold in merchandising with plush animals. The licensing onslaught was enabled by television specials The Care Bears in the Land Without Feelings and The Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine.

Care Bears (1985) 1

Care Bears (1985) 1

Half-hour advertisements – cartoons – aired from 1985 to 1988. Three movies were also forthcoming.

Care Bear likenesses were plastered on everything from toys to school supplies. That included comic books. Marvel Comics jumped on the gravy train with the Star Comics imprint for 20 issues from 1985 to 1989.

Like all fads, the Care Bears faded from public consciousness until the youth who worshipped came full circle wishing to return to their childhood again. The Care Bears were revived in 1991, again in 2002, 2007, 2012 and, to date, 2019.

To celebrate with these undying denizens of plush cuddliness, “…spread the caring and encourage fans to spread caring, love, friendship, acceptance, fun and happiness to those you love every day.”

Care Bears Share Your Care Day has been recognized as a non-holiday since May of 2015.

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Captain America (1968) 292

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An American Christmas! acts as a backdrop to tie up some loose ends before the original Secret Wars kicked off.

Captain America (1968) 292

Captain America (1968) 292

Steve Rogers/Captain America is haunted by a recurring dream that isn’t a dream. A black crow visits Captain America while Steve goes about his holiday happenings.

Supporting characters receive the spotlight with J.M. DeMatteis moving the story along. The season acts as so much background with snow and Christmas decorations in the periphery.

The Black Crow is dispatched by stories end with the epilog showing the Avengers as they speed toward their destiny with the Beyonder.

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars was a 12-issue mini running from May 1984 to April 1985. The series is most notable for the licensing deal with Kenner and the introduction of Spider-Man’s black costume.

A sequel, published from 1985 to 1986, ran nine issues and spilled over into most of the Marvel Universe in the form of cross overs. While the best-selling comic book of the year, it is also one of the most despised.

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Giant-Size X-Men (1975) 1

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Following up yesterday’s celebration of kindness is today’s day of freedom as man stretched in another dimension and conquered a new frontier. Today is National Ride the Wind Day.

Giant-Size X-Men (1975) 1

Giant-Size X-Men (1975) 1

One of those who truly is a wind rider, at least in the Marvel Universe, is Ororo Munroe, or Storm.

Her ascension to the clouds was born of a natural ability to shape the elements to her whim. When Len Wein and Dave Cockrum introduced Ororo in Giant-Size X-Men issue one, she was as much a mystery to her audience as her teammates. She shed her goddess honorific mistakenly bestowed upon her and became more.

In reality Storm became the first major black female character in comic books. In fiction she was one of the first of the new X-Men soon-to-be-scribe Chris Claremont would catapult to legendary status.

Claremont and Cockrum, later John Byrne, and Cockrum again, laid a literary foundation that became a golden goose for Marvel Comics. The X-Men earned much deserved credit through the 1980s until exploding in the 1990s as a flagship title not only in comic books, but the outside world as well.

Ororo – Storm – belonged to every incarnation of the mutant standard bearers. She would earn another honorific when she married T’Challa, aka Black Panther leader of Wakanda.

Storm has appeared in X-Men, X-Men: Evolution, Wolverine and the X-Men and Marvel Super Hero Squad. Other animated appearances include Black Panther, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, X-Men: Pryde of the X-Men, Spider-Man: The Animated Series and Ultimate Spider-Man.

On the big screen, Storm was in the original X-Men trilogy as well as X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse and Dark Phoenix. She made cameos in X-Men: First Class and Deadpool 2.

It will be harder for us mere mortals to “take to the air” as suggested by National Day Calendar’s site, but we can live vicariously through Ororo in all forms of media.

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X-Men (1963) 1

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With his golden locks and alabaster wings, Warren Worthington III is the logical choice to host National Be An Angel Day.

X-Men (1963) 1

X-Men (1963) 1

First appearing in X-Men 1, Warren was more of an antagonist within the group in the love triangle that included Scott Cyclops Summers and Jean Marvel Girl Grey. This would continue through the book’s run of original stories with issue 66. The book went into a short hiatus only to be revived as a reprint title.

When the original team was ousted – with the exception of Cyclops – in favor of fresh blood, Angel and former X-Men teammate Iceman began anew in California. Their new team, the Champions, didn’t fare well and lasted a mere 17 issues.

Angel would return to the X-Men in guest appearances. Not until X-Factor was he member of a mutant team again. As before, he found himself gone when a new team came onboard in issue 70.

He returned to his original fold with volume two of Uncanny X-Men. He had a home there for most of the 1990s as well as a few team ups in mini-series.

Angel bounced around for a time after the new millennium dawned until finally abandoning the hero business in favor of personal business.

Other incarnations have been present in television, first with the 1966 Saturday morning Marvel Super Heroes animated feature. He appeared in two episodes of Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, but was a prominent player in X-Men: Evolution. He was Archangel in the popular 1990s X-Men Fox cartoon.

Angel was a character in several video games, but only appeared briefly on the big screen.

National Be An Angel Day is the 1993 creation of Howard Feldman to encourage acts of kindness.

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Time is Running Out

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Okay, time ran out.

A long time ago.

January 31, 1986, to be exact.

No matter, this in-house ad is still a time capsule. First of all, this baker’s dozen issues for $6.50 – “only 50-cents an issue” – when on-stand prices were $.65 is amazing. As of this writing, fans are paying at least four bucks a pop for their favorite heroes.

Secondly, the artwork takes us back to a time when the Hobgoblin was still a mystery to most of the Marvel U. First introduced in Amazing Spider-Man 238, March 1983, no one was privy to his private identity for years. It was unveiled in AMS 289.

Not only does it bring back memories of the Hobgoblin, but the Green Goblin, too. The illustration is a homage to Amazing Spider-Man issue 39, the issue that revealed the (original) Goblin was Norman Osborne.

The Hobgoblin is a derivative of the Green Goblin, anyway. He came about when one of the original Goblin’s hideouts was discovered. Guess it’s only fitting the advertisement resurrect one of Marvel’s best covers.

It also showcases the titles published in 1985; from Alpha Flight to X-Men. Special books, at varying prices, included Marvel Age, G.I. Joe, Sectaurs, Elf Quest, Transformers, Groo the Wanderer, Dreadstar, Alien Legion, Swashbucklers, Conan the King, Marvel Saga, Marvel Fanfare and Savage Sword of Conan.

The last book was the last of Marvel’s magazine line that played in the periphery of the 1970s.

Though time has run out for the ad, it doesn’t stop us from turning the hands of time back to relive comic book history.

Time is Running Out - 1985

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Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 204

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Last year we celebrated Black Cat Appreciation Day with Amazing Spider-Man 194 and 195. This year let’s follow the non-holiday up with Felicia Hardy’s second appearance, Amazing Spider-Man 204 and 205.

Using one of her nine lives, Felicia has survived her plunge from Amazing Spider-Man 195. As the Black Cat, she toys with Spider-Man stealing romantically-themed works of art over the next two issues.

It is revealed the thefts were made to complete a shrine Felicia is constructing to her love: Spider-Man.

Amazing Spider-Man 204

Amazing Spider-Man 204

The infatuation would grow throughout the decade, mostly in the issues of Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man. Not only grow, but become mutual.

As history has proved, Peter and Felicia were not meant to be. That fate was reserved for Mary Jane Watson.

Instead, Black Cat would go on to make various guest appearances. In 2002, she received her own mini-series.

Felicia would also co-star with Wolverine in a mini and the follow up in 2011 with a sequel. She was one of the headliners in the 2006-07 Heroes for Hire title.

In 2019 Jed Mackay began scripting her solo series.

Black Cat was introduced to viewers in the 1981 Spider-Man cartoon. She was a major player in several episodes of Spider-Man: The Animated Series. Black Cat was shelved – on television – until The Spectacular Spider-Man and brought back in the 2017 Spider-Man series on Disney XD.

To date she has only appeared as Felicia Hardy in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on the silver screen.

As fans have come to appreciate Spider-Man’s former foe, many of us have come to love Felis catus. The same nocturnal creatures that prowl our homes and yards are celebrated around the world.

However, today has been set aside to acknowledge the ebony-adorned portion of the population. August 17 has been set aside to, according to National Day Calendar Web page, “…to dispel all myths surrounding black cats.”

To observe, consider adopting a black cat.

Black Cat Appreciation Day is not to be confused with National Black Cat Day, Oct. 27.

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