Posted Friday, February 5th, 2021 by Barry

Daredevil (1964) 168

It’s no accident National Wear Red Day is celebrated in February. American Heart Month goes all 28 days – 29 when an election is brewing – and Feb. 14 is Valentine’s Day; maybe most associated with the heart – and red.

National Wear Red Day is celebrated the first Friday in February. Wearing of the scarlet color is to bring attention to heart disease awareness as the leading cause of death for Americans.

Rather than Jeff or I donning some embarrassing adult diapers with curly wigs, we’ll recall a bittersweet romance rekindled and snuffed by revenge.

As evidenced from the comic book cover today, Daredevil and Elektra are our sweethearts.

Daredevil (1964) 168

Stan Lee, Bill Everett and, to some extent, Jack Kirby, created the Man Without Fear. He debuted in his own title cover dated April 1964. Alter ego Matt Murdock would continue to star in his own book, but the character never advanced beyond minor status in the Marvel Universe.

That is until up and coming writer/artist Frank Miller, already penciling the book, settled into the driver’s seat.

For the first time in existence, Daredevil was cool. He was sleek and sexy.

To compliment the hero, Miller gave him a mate. Not just any woman, but a former lover from Murdock’s college days: Elektra Natchios.

The ill-fated romance died on the vine when she and her father, Hugo Kostas Natchios, were kidnapped by terrorists. Hugo was killed in a botched attempt to rescue both.

Elektra left shortly after.

When Matt is reunited with her in issue 168, she has become an assassin for the Kingpin. Her weapon of choice is a pair of sai. She and Daredevil become lovers – again – only to die on the ends of her own weapons at the hands of Bullseye in issue 181.

Elektra proved a fan favorite and was soon brought back – to life. Since then, she has starred and guest starred throughout the Marvel U. In 2005 Jennifer Garner portrayed her in a self-titled movie as a sequel to the Daredevil movie from 2003. A decade later, Elektra played a major role in Netflix’s season two of Daredevil.

Miller’s muse for the Greek national is based on myths by Sophocles and Euripides. The character’s vengeful soul mirrors Miller’s creation. All live on in their own tragedies of others makings.

Don’t let this day go by without doing something to remember the tragedies that can become our own without proper care. Work the red; be a symbol of prevention rather than a statistic.

Posted Monday, February 1st, 2021 by Barry

Captain America (1968) 163

Since Eve took some bad advice in Eden snakes have been reviled. Feared. Hunted.

Today they may show their faces. Today they may slither forth from their dens. Today they may bask in the sun – if there is any. Today is their day. Today is National Serpent Day.

Captain America (1968) 163

Captain America (1968) 163

To celebrate, National Day Calendar suggests you go to the zoo and commune with these scaly counterparts you share this Earth with. There are over 3,000 different breeds from four inches in length to J. Lo’s nightmare in Anaconda.

Three of those make up our ambassadors:  Viper, Eel and Cobra. The three original members of the Serpent Squad who first appeared in Captain America 163.

Wait, is an Eel a snake? And, is Viper just a generic term? Just work with us, please.

Cap and Falcon made short work of the new team. They were followed by a second incarnation who were defeated by Captain America’s alter ego Nomad. The team consisted of Madam Hydra as the new Viper and Princess Python in addition to Eel and Cobra.

The Serpent Squad shed its skin once more, this time to battle the Thing and Stingray in Marvel-Two-In-One 64. The latest team consisted of Sidewinder, Anaconda, Black Mamba and Death Adder.

Other squads included Copperhead, Fer-de-Lance, Puff Adder and Black Racer, all normally trounced by Cap.

If you insist on recognizing the real thing, you are encouraged to post with #NationalSerpentDay. That’s what Jeff would do.

Me?

I’d prefer to flip some four-color pages as Cap and company open a can of whup asp (ouch).

I don’t normally do this, but I do – highly – recommend Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (1976) 46. It’s just Spidey and Cobra, but I always enjoyed that issue.

Posted Sunday, January 31st, 2021 by Barry

Celebrate the Holidays!!!

Marvel implored readers to “Celebrate the Holidays!!! with Marvel’s ‘”same as last year’s’ 42-Cent per issue prices!” in 1984.

A clunky looking Iron Man dressed in metal overcoat and Santa cap carries a bag of toys for this in-house ad. Participants could have a 13-issue subscription for a mere $5.50, a savings of 18 cents per issue or 30 percent.

Offer expires Jan. 31, 1985

Hurry, the offer expired Jan. 31, 1985.

Titles to choose from included Alpha Flight to X-Men. This was a time when only the original title and New Mutants were on the stands. Spider-Man had four including Amazing, Marvel Tales, Marvel Team-Up and Peter Parker. Barbarians Conan and Kull still had their books and LucasFilm had yet to remove Star Wars from the stands.

Special titles included Marvel Age, Conan the King, Marvel Fanfare, Savage Sword of Conan, Dreadstar, Alien Legion and Dr. Who before he became a household name in America.

Subscribers could even give the gift of Marvel Comics by adding titles and names and addresses of friends. Though no mention is made, Marvel probably wanted an additional $5.50 for each subscription.

Only the patient need apply. In small print subscribers were warned to wait 10 weeks for delivery.

Posted Wednesday, January 27th, 2021 by Barry

Maus (1980-1991)

January 27 is the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust, also known as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Though those numbers are thinning, their stories should never be forgotten.

Spiegelman has captured one of those in his Pulitzer Prize winning Maus.

The account is to comic books what Schindler’s List is to movies.

Art Spiegelman released his father’s pain over an 11-year period – serialized in the pages of Raw – a legacy of humanized suffering. The tale does more than relate a first-hand account of Jewish life under Nazi rule; it offers Spiegelman a chance to understand and connect with his father as he was never able to growing up.

Readers begin the journey in 1978, but soon are transported to pre-war Czestochwa, Poland. Papa Spiegelman, Vladek, paints a backdrop of normalcy that paves a path to Auschwitz.

Neither elder or young Spiegelman shy from the horrors learned or passed on.

Vladek’s story was later collected in two volumes and has been lauded by the National Book Critics Circle, American Jewish Committee, Christian Testimony, Angoulemem International Comics Festival Awards, Urhunden Prize, Max & Mortiz Prize, Eisner Award, Harvey Award, Los Angeles Times and with a Pulitzer Prize.

Maus: A Survivor’s Tale is a monument to the victims who died within the concentration camps and those who died after. One is Art’s mother who committed suicide when he was 20.

It is estimated six million Jews were murdered under the Nazi regime.

Maus Books I and II

 

Posted Sunday, January 24th, 2021 by Barry

M.G.M’s Tom and Jerry’s Winter Fun (1952) 3

Christmas may be over, but Winter isn’t. Here’s a tome that lives up to its name, Dell giant, with 96 pages of stories, puzzles and games.

Tom and Jerry are the headliners with an opening tale of holiday hijinks. Tom wants a tree. Tom has one dollar. Christmas trees cost five dollars. This dilemma is how to multiply his single into five ones.

Jerry and nephew are happy to help, but not appreciated. Each faction’s conniving only brings ruin to both sides. Neither are able to solve the math problem and find themselves at square one 12 pages later.

M.G.M’s stable of animated actors comprise the remainder of the book as they contend with the coldest season of the year.

With the bulk of winter still ahead, Jeff and I encourage readers to curl up with their phone, tablet or laptop and review Four Color Holidays. It’s a shameless plug, but who cares. After all, there’s still 58 days till the first day of Spring.

 

Tom & Jerry's Winter Fun (1952) #3

Posted Monday, January 18th, 2021 by Barry

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Martin Luther King Jr, Jan. 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968), was born in Atlanta, GA. In 39 years of life, King became a symbol for peaceful rebellion. Marches and boycotts provided a resounding message across the southern portion of the United States, causing change in America as a whole.

On Oct. 14, 1964, King received the Nobel Peace Prize. Shortly after, his influence began to wane among those he strove to help.

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Great Civil Rights Leader (Capstone Graphic Library)

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Great Civil Rights Leader (Capstone Graphic Library)

By the end of his life, King’s ambitions had grown to include opposition to poverty, the Vietnam War and capitalism. Some of his stands alienated him against President Lyndon Baines Johnson who had been a powerful ally to King and his cause.

King’s final crusade was to back the black sanitary public works employees in Memphis, TN. The evening prior to his assassination, King gave his prophetic “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech. In it, King spoke against those who had made threats against his life preaching, “I’m not fearing any man.”

In less than 24 hours King was shot dead by James Earl Ray.

His dream continues to live on. In the speech’s most famous passage King shared, “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

“I have a dream today.

“I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

“I have a dream today.”

He is remembered today, though his dream still eludes believers.

Posted Monday, January 18th, 2021 by Barry

Winnie the Pooh (1977) 1

Oh, bother, it’s Monday. Maybe celebrating with a cuddly, stuffed bear will raise spirits since today is National Winnie the Pooh Day.

January 18 remembers Pooh’s creator, A.A. Milne’s birthday through his most famous creation.

Winnie the Pooh (1977) 1

Winnie the Pooh (1977) 1

Pooh became a beloved children’s book that became a franchise. Much of the success of Pooh comes courtesy of Walt Disney who licensed Pooh Bear in 1961.

Milne’s stories have been translated into over 50 languages and are considered classics. Disney’s adaptation consisted of five theatrical shorts:  Winnie the Pooh and the Honey Tree (1966), Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day (1968), Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too (1974), Winnie the Pooh Discovers the Seasons (1981) and Winnie the Pooh and a Day for Eeyore (1982). Theatrical feature films included The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (1977), The Tigger Movie (2000), Piglet’s Big Movie (2003), Pooh’s Heffalump Movie (2005), Winnie the Pooh (2011) and Christopher Robin (2018).

Pooh starred in five different television series beginning in 1983 and continuing through 2014. He also shared his name with television holiday specials for Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day and Thanksgiving.

Dell played host to Pooh for 33 issues beginning in 1977, predating the Winnie the Pooh comic strip by a year and a half. The comic book series ran until 1984.

Dark Horse Comics released a collection of reprints featuring the strips Sunday pages, 365 Days with Winnie the Pooh.

To celebrate, grab a pot of honey, read the books or whatever makes you feel Pool-like.

Posted Saturday, January 16th, 2021 by Barry

X-Men (1963) 166

For whatever reason, today is National Appreciate a Dragon Day.

Normally the backgrounds of these non-holidays are easy to find. Some are just plain goofy in origin, but there is a beginning.

National Appreciate a Dragon Day seems to be shrouded in some mystery as the day seems to float through the various pages of the calendar based on what people wish to associate dragons with.

For those at Cornell University, it’s occurs the Friday before Spring Break. First-year architecture students create a giant likeness of a winged lizard and parade it around campus.

Dragon Day is celebrated by some on the 26th of November.

X-Men (1963) 166

X-Men (1963) 166

We’re recognizing it today: January 16.

With Lockheed as our official mascot this year.

That would be Kitty Pryde’s pet first mentioned in Uncanny X-Men 153 in Kitty’s Fairy Tale. For more information, look to our celebration of National Tell a Fairy Tale Day.

Today we’ll focus on Lockheed’s first canonical appearance.

This takes place in the final story arc of the Bronze-Age X-Men’s run. The cat-sized dragon-like extraterrestrial bonds with the teenage mutant and helps save the team.

Lockheed has been associated with Kitty since.

This is really a stellar swansong to the “new” X-Men’s early adventures. Their return to Earth is met by the New Mutants and the beginning of multi-mutant titles that continue to flourish today.

Forget Game of Thrones and the magical Pete and enjoy an old school adventure. Grab whatever comfort food or drink – or both – you need and spend a wintery day warming to a story of a girl and her dragon.

Posted Tuesday, January 12th, 2021 by Barry

Flash (1959) 110

All you red-headed step children can enjoy the next 24 hours ‘cuz today is Kiss a Ginger Day.

Our official ambassador is Wally West, nephew of Iris West/Allen.

Young Master West first appeared in Flash 110. Aunt Iris had promised a meeting with the youth’s idol, the Flash. Courted by Barry Allen, the request was not hard to fulfill.

By chance or mathematics, Wally was bathed in a similar chemical concoction as the Flash, gaining his own fleet-footed powers. Flash bestowed his protégé with a smaller version of his red togs and made the boy his sometime sidekick.

Flash (1959) 110

Flash (1959) 110

Kid Flash would receive a different costume in Flash 135 and later join the junior justice league, better known as the Teen Titans. The Titans originally included Kid Flash, Robin, Wonder Girl and Aqualad.  Green Arrow clone Speedy would guest star.

When Barry Allen appeared to die during Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally West became a reluctant heir apparent as DC regrouped. His series lasted 247 issues.

When DC rebooted once again with The New 52, Walley West was erased from memory and Barry Allen given back the red suit.

He was reintroduced during DC Rebirth. Readers learned Wally had been trapped in the Speed Force for 10 years.

Some more stuff happened, but with the state of comic books, it’s hard to follow. Maybe it’ best to remember the ginger-haired boy of the Silver age who became the jokester of the Bronze Age. His legacy as part of the speedsters is cemented among the DC faithful.

To observe Kiss A Ginger Day, find your favorite red head and plant a big wet one on ‘em. If you don’t know any and don’t want to risk a restraining order – or worse – just find a back issue with Wally as Kid Flash or the Flash.

Derek Forgie founded Kiss a Ginger Day in 2009.

Posted Saturday, January 9th, 2021 by Barry

Ultimate Spider-Man (2000) 12

Today is National Static Electricity Day.

This year we’re shaking things up a bit. Instead of using Spider-Man’s arch nemesis Electro like we did last year, we’re using Spider-Man’s arch nemesis Electro; more specifically Ultimate Spider-Man’s arch nemesis Ultimate Electro.

Personally, I didn’t wanna like Ultimate Spider-Man. I stayed away from the title. Finally, I played the 2005 Ultimate Spider-Man video game. On the GameCube. Still an underrated system.

But, I digress.

I played this game and fell in love with it. The mechanics and the storyline, it was so different from the previous PlayStation offerings.

I had to know more about this character.

What better way than to go to the source material?

Most people would say they read them. I devoured them.

Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley were the perfect team. Their reimagining was just what we needed for the new millennium.

Rather than belabor a life twice lived, Bendis chose to remove Peter Parker from the Ultimate Universe by issue 200.

Oh, wait, we’re supposed to be talking about Electro. Okay, Electro was updated with bioengineered powers. His green and yellow suit was replaced. He continued to lose to Spider-Man.

As for the day, static electricity is observed for its unbalanced positive and negative electron charges.

Rather than discuss how to produce your own zap, the annoying tingle can be avoided by allowing for more humidity in the house during the dry days of winter. Moisturizing skin is another deterrent as is wearing natural fibers.

Beyond boning up on Electro, original or Ultimate, the day can be celebrated by exploring the ways static electricity is created. Have fun with that one.

 

Ultimate Spider-Man 12