Archive for December, 2021

Posted Friday, December 31st, 2021 by Barry

Zombie Tramp New Year’s Eve Special (2016) 1

It’s New Year’s Eve and a girls gotta eat.

Tarnishing the tradition of the Time Square’s ball drop, Zombie Tramp and friend make a pact to share a special meal. The caveat is, both want their dinner served rare.

The story is biting and the humor risqué. Along the way, New Year’s Eve is revealed to be a farce. Don’t let the PG-13 rating the title would receive deter you from giving it a read.

Zombie Tramp is really Janey Belle. She was created by Dan Mendoza in 2009. Action Lab Comics picked the character up for a 13-issue run. She was moved to Action Lab’s Danger Zone imprint and continues to see print on a regular basis.

Her origins begin as a high-class hooker in Hollywood. She ran afoul of a client and was eaten by his zombie son.

Janey has appeared in three other specials including Christmas, Easter and Valentine’s Day.

Happy New Year’s everyone.

Posted Tuesday, December 28th, 2021 by Barry

Scooby-Doo (1997) 43

It’s another holiday mystery for the Scooby and the gang in Nutcracker Not-So-Sweet.

Agnes DeMillions needs help to save the Geoffrey Ballet Company’s rendition of A Christmas Carol. The ghost of the Nutcracker is threatening one of the stars of the show, Rudolfo Kaspenov.

Scooby-Doo (1997) 43

Scooby-Doo (1997) 43

Matters come to a head opening night when the Nutcracker ghost strikes in front of packed auditorium. Some trickery and trusty trap by Fred bring the villain to justice while Daphne dances in a dream come true.

The Nutcracker and the Mouse was written by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816. The Prussian author’s tale is a whimsical, and fictional, account off Marie Stahlbaum’s favorite toy, a nutcracker. It comes to life to defeat the evil mouse king then takes the girl to a magical kingdom.

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Russian composer, and Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, choreographers, translated the story into a ballet based on Alexandre Dumas’s adaptation.

A Christmas Carol is a novella by Charles Dickens. It was originally published in 1843. Though released December 19, all copies were sold out by Christmas Eve. Maybe the greatest legacy of the story is the use of the term Merry Christmas. Having been vocalized as early as 1534, Dicken’s usage cemented it in Victorian vernacular. It has been continued ever since.

The second feature, Mascot Madness, take the gang back to school to foil a ghost dead set on keeping tradition alive.

Scooby-Doo and the gang have been a part of the four-color world since 1970, a year after they were unveiled on Saturday morning television. The original series would last 30 issues, published by Gold Key Comics.

March of Comics would feature the gang in four issues beginning in 1971 in issue 356. They would appear once a year until issue 391 in 1974.

Charlton Comics picked up the license from Gold Key in 1975 with an 11-issue run with Scooby-Doo…Where Are You! Marvel Comics would publish nine issues entitled Scooby-Doo from 1977 to 1979. With the animated Saturday morning feature Scooby’s Laff-A-Lympics, they would showcase the Great Dane in 13 issues of Laff-A-Lympics from 1978 to 1979.

Harvey Comics tackled the franchise next with a few issues reprinting stories originally run during the Charlton years. The exception would be Hanna-Barbera Presents All New Comics in 1993, a one-shot.

Archie Comics added Scooby to its stable of characters from 1995 to 1997.

DC is currently Scooby’s wrangler having taken possession of the license in 1997. The titular Scooby-Doo is currently the longest-running comic featuring the gang.

Cartoon Network Presents ran 24 issues with a Scooby and Scrappy-Doo story in each book.

Scooby-Doo! Team-Up lasted 50 issues before it was shut down, 2013 to 2019.

Scooby Apocalypse ran 36 issues, 2016 to 2019.

The most recent incarnation is The Batman & Scooby-Doo Mysteries debuting this year.

Posted Saturday, December 25th, 2021 by Barry

The Joker Bronze Age Omnibus (2019)

Anyone who knows me or has read much on the Web site knows Christmas and Batman are symbiotic. For me, at least.

Growing up, Batman was my favorite hero. Not Adam West. Nothing against the dearly departed, but I learned to love Batman from the source material.

Batman was a grinning goof of Golden Age reprints or the soon-to-be christened Dark Knight living in the shadows of the Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams era I grew up with. Toss in some Carmine Infantino with the new look and they were my Batman.

And, who is the Batman’s greatest villain?

His rogue’s gallery is only rivaled by the Flash’s or Spider-Man’s. This is a fanboy’s dream argument; who has the best rogue’s gallery?

That’s for another time and forum.

For our purposes, let’s talk about the Joker.

Ah, yes, the Joker. That evil clown to scare children. A psychopath to scare the adults.

Plus, he’s Batman’s oldest recurring nemesis.

It just all fits.

So, to give me an omnibus of Batman’s greatest villain during the Bronze age in which I discovered both and it’s one of the best comic related Christmas presents ever.

Thank you, Jeff.

Looking at this, people are gonna ask what the Joker omnibus has to do with Christmas. It’s not a Christmas comic book nor does it contain even one holiday story.

No, it’s a Christmas gift.

Much like the Batman issue 260 I droned on about in 2018, this is a gift that will always be associated with Christmas.

When I first learned of the omnibus, I wasn’t sure if it was worth $99.99 to me. There are so many good stories, but I have all but Justice League of America (1960) 77, Wonder Woman (1942) 280-283 and the unpublished The Joker issue 10.

The unpublished issue was tempting, but I just couldn’t justify a Benjamin for that one comic book.

I do love that series. I bought several when the first hit the stands in the mid-1970s and finished the series sometime in the late 1990s.

Just looking at the other issues, included is Batman 251 with the rebirth of the killing Joker. Detective Comics issues 475 and 476 is the Laughing Fish story. Brave and the Bold (1955) 111 is one of the first Batman/Joker stories I ever read and has one of my favorite Batmobiles.

And, so many, many more stories.

This is a treasure in so many ways. I’ve loved the excuse to re-read these classics. As much as I’ve enjoyed reading the new material. My greatest pleasure, snuggled under the covers, my wife tucked beside me and cats warming my legs; has been the unpublished Joker story. It may be continued and I’ll never know the ending, but to have an unread Bronze Age Joker story is a rare treat that will probably never be repeated.

So, thank you, again Jeff, for this gem of a gift. Amid the year of Covid and lack of guests, it shone as bright as my super hero Christmas tree in 2020.

Posted Friday, December 24th, 2021 by Barry

Zombie World Home for the Holidays (1997)

“When there’s no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth.”

So sayeth zombie master George Romero from his second foray into the world of walking corpses, Dawn of the Dead.

It’s also been said, “There’s no place like home for the holidays.”

Zombie World Home for the Holidays (1997)

Zombie World Home for the Holidays (1997)

Both quotes ring true for Gordon Rennie and Gary Erskine’s zombie holiday.

Greg Mathieson and wife are spending Christmas Eve in Connecticut with his family.

The Mathiesons are old money. First class on the Mayflower type of money. The patriarch continues to live in the family homestead built shortly after the dust settled after the first Thanksgiving.

It’s a family tradition for “the clan” to gather on the holiest of eves. Greg and wife are some of the stragglers, but not the last. That slot is reserved for cousin Carol who babbles a tall tale about the dead eating the living.

Her story is dismissed until Dan Rather confirms it on the evening news.

As if on cue, the town cemetery comes (un)alive as the past begin to claw their way back to the surface. Chief among them is papa Methuselah Jeremiah Mathieson. At last count he was the first among the 234 Mathiesons interred there.

And, now they want to come home.

When an Alamo stand fails, the family really are all together – for the first time.

Rennie is a Scottish comic book writer best known for White Trash: Moronic Inferno and strips in the English 2000 A.D. He has also penned several novels in the Warhammer Fantasy line.

Fellow Scottie, Erskine, penciled the story. His resume includes Knights of Pendragon and Warheads for Marvel UK, work on 2000 AD, Star Wars titles for Dark Horse, several collaborations with Garth Ennis and Justice Society of America.

Hope you Christmas Eve is less eventful, but never let your guard down too much.

Posted Thursday, December 23rd, 2021 by Barry

Cracked (1958) 243

Cracked finished out 1988 with Santa, Baby New Year’s and Father Time on the cover-dated March 1989 issue.

Receiving top billing was a parody of the ensemble western Young Guns entitled Young Buns. Guns starred Emilio Estevez, Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Charlie Sheen, Dermot Mulroney, Casey Siemasko, Terence Stamp, Terry O’Quinn, Brian Keith and Jack Palance.

The film received mixed reviews and is generally forgotten.

A seasonal His Jolly Jolly Jolly…is Not Just Idle Folly! rhetorical rhyme follows Santa through an updated version of a Night Before Christmas.

Vic Bianco and Wally Dickens Brogan followed the one-page wonder with an updated, television version of Scrooge called Screwge. Pop culture icons of the day dot the pages as Dickens’ Christmas Carol is trampled.

Cracked (1958) 243

Cracked (1958) 243

Skipping ahead, Form and Function Scopes Out Santa!

Santa’s gear is broken down this two-page spread.

A few pages later John Severin pokes fun at the big guy in a one-page In-Santa-Ty offering up a few one panel jokes at Mr. Claus’ expense.

Cultural action hero of the 1980s, Sly Stallone, was featured in his Rambo persona in Sly Stalloon’s Greatest Xmas Hits!

No word play was off limits as readers were beat over the head with song titles like The Little Bomber Boy, Nuclear Winter Wonderland, Do You Fear What I Fear, Twas the Night Before Doomsday, Joy to the War! I Saw a Commie Kissing Santa Clause and the list goes on. All available on record, cassette, 8-Track tape or CD (Compact Disc).

Not really.

It’s a Wonderful Life is recast in It’s a Wonderful Laff.

Chevy Chase is George Barley, John Belushi is the angel Clarence, Cher is Mary and New York Mayor Ed Koch is tossed in for what writer Tony Frank thought would be a laugh. The parody plays out like the source material without the charm.

The original It’s a Wonderful Life was released in 1946 starring James Stewart and directed by Frank Capra. It was based on the short story, The Greatest Gift by Phillip Van Doren.

It’s a Wonderful Life was a box office disaster when released. The film earned eternal life when it fell into public domain and was picked up by fledging television stations during the medium’s infancy. It has since been lauded as one of the greatest films of all time.

In 1990, the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress added it to its archives.

Posted Wednesday, December 22nd, 2021 by Barry

Crazy (1973) 16

The third time really wasn’t the charm for Marvel Comics.

Still under the Atlas Comics moniker in 1953, the Marvel Comics to come published Crazy as a comic book. It lasted seven issues.

Crazy (1973) 16

Crazy (1973) 16

Now under Marvel Comics, the company attempted to dust off material from its now defunct Not Branch Echh title with a second four-color offering. This one only lasted two issues before it, too, was canned.

The third titular Crazy was done as a black-and-white magazine in an attempt to ride the coattails of the uber popular MAD Magazine and lesser clone, Cracked. Crazy as a magazine would last 10 years and 94 issues.

Issue 16 featured its nebbish mascot holding up a line of angry children as he spewed his wish list to Santa. The cover was trumpeted as a “special Xmas Rated Issue.”

The lone holiday feature was the Movie Monsters’ Christmas Lists featuring the wants and wishes of Dracula, the Mummy, King Kong, The Werewolf, the Creature (from the Black Lagoon), Godzilla, Doctor Frankenstein and the Invisible Man. All were compiled by Michael Pelowski.

The remainder of the book featured the standard fare such as a twist on Marriage Vows, Carsick Child, Spinoffs of Jaws, etc.

The main feature was penned by Len Herman and rendered by Marie Severin as they took on Good Times in Gook Times.

Good Times began as a popular prime time sitcom developed by executive producer Norman Lear. It aired on CBS from 1974 to 1979 featuring a black family of five living in the projects of Chicago trying to make a living.

James “J.J.” Evans Jr. became a break out hit and the series soon devolved to one liners from the skeletal star as his catch phrase, “Dyno-mite,” was shoe-horned into each episode.

Severin was just one of the industry legends who contributed to the magazine. Others included Stan Lee, Will Eisner, Vaughn Bode, Harvey Kutzman, Mike Ploog, Basil Wolverton and Mike Carlin. Marvel mainstays Roy Thomas and Marv Wolfman would take turns editing the publication.

Posted Tuesday, December 21st, 2021 by Barry

Winter Soldier Winter Kills (2007) 1

The one constant in comic books was the death of Captain America’s sidekick, James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes.

That was until 2005 when writer Ed Brubaker returned the youth from the dead by explaining he had been knocked unconscious, found by the Russians and trained to kill.

To maintain his youthful appearance and abilities, Bucky has been kept in cryogenic stasis between missions. Much like he was found by General Vasily Karpov and crew of the Russian submarine.

Winter Soldier Winter Kills (2007) 1

Winter Soldier Winter Kills (2007) 1

Captain America helped Bucky regain his lost memories, but the former sidekick remains elusive to his former friend.

In Winter Kills, Bucky is given the opportunity to enjoy Christmas for the first time in 63 years. His festivities are cut short when Nick Fury asks him to wrangle the Young Avengers in their pursuit of Hydra.

Bucky is able to herd them to a victory with enough time to relive past wounds at the gravesides of Jack Munroe and Toro.

Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, Bucky first appeared in Captain America Comics issue one. He would accompany Captain America throughout World War II.

When super heroes became passe in the late 1940s and early 1950s, both Cap and Bucky faded from the spin racks and memories…until Stan Lee revived Captain America in the early 1960s in Avengers issue four.

Bucky would appear in flashbacks in Tales of Suspense during the Sixties. It was in the title readers learned of his fate at the end of the war.

In the 1970s, Rick Jones would don the blue and red costume and play second fiddle to Cap for a time.

Winter Solider has become a major force in the Marvel Universe, even making the break to the silver screen as played by Sebastian Stan.

Posted Monday, December 20th, 2021 by Barry

MAD (1952) 132

Holiday wishes from MAD Magazine herald a new regime in the White House and a new era as the publication matures.

Lester Krauss is responsible for the simple cover; mascot Alfred E. Neuman reflected in a red ornament.

Only two features reflect the season. Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men is a three-page photo spread spoofing world leaders, personalities and enemies making nice for the holidays. Featured are Richard Nixon, Edward Kennedy, Dr. Timothy Leary, Rev. Billy Graham, Gen. William Westmoreland, Gamel Abdul Nasser, Golda Meir, Mao tse-Tung, Chaing Kai-shek, Jacqueline Kennedy, Jacqueline Susanne, Muhammed Ali, Tom Smothers, Dick Smothers, Hugh Hefner, Pope Paul VI, William F. Buckley, Stokley Carmichael and George Wallace.

The second is The Month Before Christmas. Frank Jacobs teamed with Don Martin for their version of Clement Clark Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas with a current-day consumerism bent.

MAD (1952) 132

MAD (1952) 132

More topical subjects included Nixon’s the One; a single-page gag predicting the next eight-years with Tricky Dick at the helm. If anyone had known what would happen… Ronnie Nathan and Jack Rickard handled the jab.

Sergio Aragones presented his look at protests and demonstrations over a four-page spread.

Fellow Mad man Al Jaffee presented a one-page What New Trend is Destroying a Time-Honored Theater Art?

Also on board for the issue were Larry Siegel and Mort Drucker with The Academy Awards Show We’d Like to See. The talented Drucker lampooned Dustin Hoffman, Joseph Cotton, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Raquel Welch, Vanessa Redgrave, Ali McGraw, Warren Beatty, Lee Marvin and James Coburn. Addressed were new categories based upon the current sexual mores portrayed in films.

Dave Berg took five pages to present The Lighter Side of Birthdays.

Antonio Prohias checked in with two Spy vs. Spy features.

The remainder of the issue spotlighted slapstick and one-offs in the usual manner that kept the magazine at the forefront of modern culture for decades, finally becoming an icon.

Posted Saturday, December 18th, 2021 by Barry

Klaus and the Life & Times of Joe Christmas (2019) 1

Hold it up like a centerfold and you have Grant Morrison’s advent calendar-style Christmas greeting for 2019.

Based on BOOM! Studio’s bio, Klaus is, “a myth. He’s a legend. He’s loved worldwide by children and adults alike…but does anyone truly know the origins of Santa Claus? Set in a dark fantastic past of myth and magic, Klaus tells the origin story of Santa Claus. It’s a tale of one man and his wolf against a totalitarian state and the ancient evil that sustains it.”

Klaus and the Life & Times of Joe Christmas was just the latest installment that includes Klaus & the Witch of Winter one shot, Klaus & the Crying Snowman, and Klaus and the Crisis in Xmasville.

Klaus and the Life & Times of Joe Christmas (2019) 1

Klaus and the Life & Times of Joe Christmas (2019) 1

This story is a countdown to Christmas chronicling the regression in age of Klaus. Turn the book on its side and flip to count down to the 25th.

Morrison began Klaus’ adventures in 2015 with Dan Mora and Ed Dukeshire. Their vision was to retell the story of Santa Claus as superhero story.

The Scottish comic book writer and playwright may be better known for his work with the mainstream companies. Morrison was part of DC’s “British invasion” working on titles such as Animal Man, Doom Patrol, Batman, JLA, All-Star Superman, Green Lantern, The Invisibles and more.

In 2016 Morrison began a two-year reign as editor-in-chief of Heavy Metal magazine. After abdicating the position, he returned to the DC Universe where, with Liam Sharp, the pair started a new book with a new look at Green Lantern.

Currently Morrison is working on a novella.

Posted Wednesday, December 15th, 2021 by Barry

World of Archie Double Digest (2014) 45

Archie, Betty and Veronica welcome readers from the cover with this November 11 release date for the 2014 Christmas season.

Kicking off the season is The Christmas App, six pages of story centered around one of the latest fads of the day. Resident genius Dilton works up an ap for Archie so he can buy the right present for Veronica.

It’s puppy love in Be Kind to Animals, but pain for Mr. Lodge when he hurts his back.

Miss Grundy stays with Betty after an apartment fire in Home is Where My Heart Is.

Santa is under scrutiny in Santa Confidential when Betty’s babysitting job turns into a Q&A.

Archie fails to make any points with Veronica when he’s late picking her up for a Christmas Dance in Late Wait.

Fred is upset over the cost of the Christmas list in List Assist.

The book is fleshed out with reprints before picking up where the season left off in Archie’s Christmas Photo Album. The two-page spread offers random, candid shots of Archie and the gang.

 Santa’s Choice is a tale of cosplay; Archie in a Santa suit and Betty as a chimney.

Reggie, Archie and Mr. Weatherbee use Christmas lights to send a message to Riverdale.

Bringing the book to a close is The Elf Who Stole Christmas starring Reggie. He impersonates an elf and tries to steal the holiday.

Archie Comics began as M.L.J. Magazines, Inc., in 1939. In the beginning it was primarily a superhero company. It wasn’t until 1941 that the Archie prototype first appeared first appearing in Pep Comics issue 22 – and never looked back.

World of Archie Double Digest (2014) 45