Archive for the ‘Marvel Comics’ Category

Posted Thursday, April 27th, 2023 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1962) 140

National Administrative Professionals’ Day has a pedigree stemming from U.S. Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer from way back in 1952.

Sawyer proclaimed June, though a month, National Secretary’s Day with June 4 set aside as the official day of celebration. With the new millennium, the name was changed to a more gender-, politically correct-friendly observance of Administrative Professionals Day and moved to April.

Today was designed to recognize the efforts put forth by the otherwise unsung heroes of the office. It recognizes the work of secretaries, administrative assistants, receptionists as well as offering umbrella coverage to all administrative support professionals.

Celebrate by rewarding those mentioned above with more than their paycheck. Some suggestions include flowers, gift certificates, gift baskets, candy or lunch.

Putting a face to the day is Gloria Grant.

Amazing Spider-Man (1962) 141

Ms. Grant first graced the pages of Amazing Spider-Man 140 as Peter Parker’s neighbor. Her initial appearance is little more than five Ross Andru panels barely hinting at the role should would soon attain in the title.

With her modeling career on hold and needing work, Peter was able to find her employment at the Daily Bugle during Betty Brant/Leed’s honeymoon.

Grant would become more than just a supporting character when she fell in love with gangster Eduardo Lobo. The romance came to an end when she accidently shot Lobo while aiming at Spider-Man.

Later, she helped Spidey and a government agent capture voodoo witch Calypso. Her involvement with boss J. Jonah Jameson and the Spider-Man titles would end when she left JJJ’s mayoral staff after he was elected as mayor of Manhattan.

For those in the work setting with administrative professionals, mark the day on your calendar. Those on the other side the desk, don’t for forget to drop a hint just in case.

Just remember, National Boss’s Day is Oct. 15.

Posted Saturday, April 1st, 2023 by Barry

Fantastic Four Presents: Franklin Richards Son of a Genius April Fools! (2016)

Here’s a quick reminder: today is April 1st. April Fool’s Day.

This is not joke.

April Fools has been celebrated for centuries, but its origins are guessed work. One of the more fascinating involves France changing from the Gregorian Calendar to the Julian. The change meant New Year’s Day moved from April 1 to January 1. Many failed to recognize the switch and celebrated through the last week of March. Those who did were labeled as victims of a hoax or joke.

Whatever its origin, the day became recognized in Britain in the 18th century. The commemoration spread to Scotland soon after.

Today April Fools Day is widely recognized worldwide.

To celebrate our prankster is Reed and Sue Richards’ little boy, Franklin, in his 2016 April Fools special.

In Sick Day, Franklin fails to study for his math test. To avoid taking the quiz, he raids his father’s infectious disease lab. Finding a jar marked “flu,” Franklin decides a sick day is in order to avoid taking the test. What he fails to realize is this flu is no ordinary virus, but the Pandorian strain capable of rendering him purple, growing sentient acne and finally dissolving to a green puddle of vocal ooze.

His saving grace is the fact it only lasts 24 minutes.

Fantastic Four Presents: Franklin Richards Son of a Genius April Fools! (2016)

Restored to health, Franklin realizes he still has to attend school and take his test.

Brain Game is a one-page gag allowing Franklin’s father, Reed Richards, to co-star.

School nemesis Kristoff attempts to foil Franklin’s hard work in Diorama Dilemma! with a gimmicked Gummy Bear. The plot backfires, literally, giving Marvel’s first family’s first offspring a night off without homework.

Lockjaw joins H.E.R.B.I.E. and Franklin in Roswell Rescue!  The trio team up for a little alien investigation in 1947 and some retcon history.

H.E.R.B.I.E.’s thrown under the bus in Whodunnit?!

The finale is the holiday tale, April Fools Fiasco!

Franklin gets carried away with his father and Uncle Johnny during some April first Tom foolery. He’s relieved and miffed to find he’s not the only one who can play the game.

Spring is on the horizon, but there’s still some gloom in the air, so shake it off with a joke or two, but keep them clean and fun.

Posted Wednesday, March 8th, 2023 by Barry

Fantastic Four (1961) 176

“To write is human; to edit is divine,” Stephen King.

Again, for the Four Color Holidays veteran, you’ll remember really is a National Proofreading Day. Last year we celebrated with The Marvel No-Prize Book.

If case you’re a newbie, National Proofreading Day was created by Judy Beaver in 2011 in memory of her mother, Flo. Much like Sheldon Cooper (Big Bang Theory) she was a person who relished correcting others mistakes. To commemorate, daughter Judy chose March 8 to mark the day with her mother’s birthday.

Fantastic Four (1961) 176

Proofreading may take a backseat in today’s world of texting where punctuation and abbreviating words is common practice.

It shouldn’t.

There is still a place for proofreading. To those of you who have read more than one of these missives. To those of you who still like to crack open a book or read the news or a magazine. Mistakes can be ugly. They can be confusing.

In 1962, NASA lost contact and control with Mariner 1. It blew up 293 seconds after launch. It is believed a missed hyphen in the guidance code was the cause. A mistake that could have been caught by proofreading.

Anyway, enough with the boring stuff.

Today’s representation of the non-holiday is Fantastic Four (1961) issue 176 showcasing the then editor-in-chief of Marvel himself Stan the Man Lee.

While Stan is no stranger to typos, again, see The Marvel No-Prize Book, he was head honcho, even starting out as a proofreader at Marvel originally.

Plus, he was co-creator of the book’s guest star, the Impossible Man. In addition, half the Marvel Bullpen make cameos. Included with Stan are Jack King Kirby, George Perez, Roy Thomas, Joe Sinnott, John Verpoorten, Marv Wolfman, Archie Goodwin, Gerry Conway and Marie Severin.

Thomas, Wolfman and Goodwin were all former editors themselves.

The Impossible Man takes a tour of the Marvel offices after returning to Earth in the aptly named Improbable as it May Seem – The Impossible Man is Back in Town!

His unauthorized visit turns into a siege of sorts as Impossible Man decides he wants to be immortalized in the four-color Marvel Universe. Using his morphing ability and the illustrations of heroes and their tools of the trade, Impossible Man terrorizes the bullpen until Stan promises him his own comic book.

It may not have been published until 1991 with the Impossible Man Summer Vacation Spectacular 1.

Hopefully this reads well and there are no misspellings or miscues with the punctuation. But, if there’s a post where it would be appropriate, this would be the one.

Posted Monday, January 9th, 2023 by Barry

The Incredible Hulk (1968) 183

For the Four Color Holiday faithful – if there are any – January 9 may sound familiar. We’ve been here before, first with Electro. Then, the following year we returned with Electro. And, again, in 2022 with Black Lightning.

To clarify, follow the links and see what we mean.

For the non-initiated, January 9 is National Static Electricity Day.

Spidey’s original and ultimate villains served their purpose to inaugurate today on the site. Now we’re ready to turn up the juice and showcase a new emcee, Zzzax.

Zzzax is an accident of pure electricity who can absorb and discharge powerful currents of electricity. His size and strength are determined by the amount of electrical current he currently has absorbed.

The Incredible Hulk (1968) 183

Since the brain is composed of electrical impulses – and creators Steve Englehart and Herb Trimpe wanted a dues ex machina of sorts – Zzzax can drain brain energy and claim the personality of the victim for a short period of time.

While originally a one-and-done character, Zzzax would return periodically in not only the Hulk’s titles, but to battle Luke Cage in his book, the West Coast Avengers and guest in Secret Wars II.

Zzzax would not remain rooted to the comic book universe, but appear on The Incredible Hulk animated series in the 1990s with a return in The Super Hero Squad Show series episode A Brat Walks Among Us. He would also appear on The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Avengers Assemble.

With the master of ceremonies introduced, its time to deal with the mechanics of the day. Static electricity is an imbalance of electrical charges on or within a material. The charge remains until one of two things happens; it’s able to move in the form of a current, or it’s able to be electrically discharged. This is different from current electricity that flows from one place to another through conductors or wiring.

To keep the shocking effects of the season to a minimum, use a humidifier in the winter and treat your carpet and use dryer sheets for upholstery.

While doing so, remember, static electricity can be used to temporarily power a light bulb. Vigorously rub a balloon on your hair for two minutes then hold a light bulb to the balloon.

Repeat until finished with Hulk 183. Or, your hair starts to fall out.

Posted Wednesday, January 4th, 2023 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 210

Welcome back for the second celebration of World Braille Day.

World Braille Day is held Jan. 4 each year recognizing the importance of braille as a way to communicate. The day reflects the birthday of its creator Louis Braille.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 210

Our host for the day is Cassandra Webb, aka Madam Web. Her first appearance predates National Braille Day by 39 years using the cover-dated Amazing Spider-Man 210.

The elderly clairvoyant and precognitive mutant suffers from myasthenia gravis leaving she attached to a life-giving chair resembling a spider web.

When Denny O’Neil and John Romita, Jr., first envisioned her, she was little more than an enigma helping Spider-Man with her visions. She proved popular enough after her inaugural appearance, and returned in Amazing Spider-Man 216 to help stop an assassination plot.

She was firmly entrenched in the Marvel Comic Universe by the two-part Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut in issues 229 and 230. During the short story arc, Spider-Man attempts to save Madam Web from the Juggernaut as he stomps through town.

In the end he finds he cannot and Web nearly kills her when the villain disconnects Web from her life support system.

Madam Web continues to live in the MCU making periodic appearances.

Outside of the printed page she guest-starred in Spider-Man: the Animated Series. She was voiced by Joan Lee, wife of Stan Lee.

For more information on the non-holiday, please refer to last year’s post with Deadpool’s Blind Al.

Posted Saturday, December 31st, 2022 by Barry

Fantastic Four (1960) 133

Amidst the crush of humanity in Times Square the Fantastic Four relate their tussled lives in soliloquy to themselves as they wait for the ball to drop. It’s New Year’s Eve in New York City and the fabled trio are trying to celebrate the event.


Fantastic Four (1960) 133 page one

Trying to ‘cuz the team is minus a founding member. More importantly the family is missing two members.

Susan Richards, the Invisible Girl, has left both team and family due to differences between she and husband Reed. Included in her departure is their son, Franklin.

Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, is forlorn over the loss of love Crystal as played out over previous issues.

Finally, Ben Grimm, the Thing, is torturing himself about his ability to be the man his girlfriend, Alicia Masters deserves.

Time is stopped as new Frightful Four member Thundra appears literally holding back the hands of time on the clock and interrupting their musings. As the crowd stares, she issues a challenge to Ben, demanding he meet her in battle in three days. To ensure he comes, she kidnaps Alicia.

The battle is anti-climatic as Reed cheats Thundra of her believed victory by turning Ben human. Faced with the having defeated a mere man, the seven-foot siren takes her leave. Alicia is released and the team moves on to their next adventure in issue 134, A Dragon Stalks the Skies!

Fantastic Four (1960) 133

Not the most satisfying of stories, but still a Bronze Age treat courtesy of Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Ramona Fradon and Joe Sinnott.

Time’s Square has been the focal point for a good portion of the United States as they ring in the New Year. The event has been held since 1907.The ball drop is reminiscent of the time balls used to help ship navigators verify the setting of their marine chronometers.

Bandleader Guy Lombardo and his band The Royal Canadians served as the original entertainment beginning in 1929. In 1956 they moved from radio to television, performing Auld Lang Syne at midnight.

Following Lombardo’s death Dick Clark became the new Father Time serving as New Year’s host for 32 years. A stroke sidelined Clark and morning talk show host Regis Philbin stepped in for 2005. Since then, Ryan Seacrest has emceed the television spectacle.

However, you celebrate, do it safely and responsibly so you and others will see the New Year through.

Have a happy one from Jeff and Barry.

Posted Friday, December 23rd, 2022 by Barry

Spider-Man, Fire-Star and Iceman at the Dallas Ballet Nutcracker (1983)

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was in its third and final season when Marvel and the Dallas Times Herald teamed again for this mash up of Texas transgression.

Peter Parker and Bobby Drake have accompanied their soon-to-be former team mate, Angelica Jones, to her new home in Dallas, Texas.

While there, the trio decide to take in the Nutcracker as performed by the Dallas Ballet. Peter’s Spidey sense jangles as the three stand outside the theater. Investigating, they soon discover the nefarious plot to disrupt the performance by stealing the props.

Spider-Man, Fire-Star and Iceman at the Dallas Ballet Nutcracker (1983)

Daddy Longlegs, a mercifully one-and-done villain, is found to be responsible. His plan is dismantled by the threesome leaving Daddy Longlegs high and dry on an ice pillar.

Peter, Bobby and Angelica attend the performance which is spelled out by writer Jim Salicrup and illustrated by Jim Mooney.

This teaming of Marvel and the Dallas Times Herald was the last. Already they two had collaborated with a back-to-school edition (Pipeline Peril) and Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders- special (Southwest Showdown) featuring Spidey and the Hulk, Web Head and the Dallas Cowboys (Danger in Dallas) and Spider-Man on his own against the Kingpin (Christmas in Dallas).

The Dallas Times Herald suspended publications in 1991, officially closing its doors December 8 of that year.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends aired from 1981 to 1983 on NBC Saturday mornings. It would continue in reruns for another two years.

In its second season, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends accompanied the Hulk cartoon billed as The Incredible Hulk and the Amazing Spider-Man. Stan Lee began narrating during the second year.

Season one featured 13 episodes, while season two only aired three – each featuring the origin of the three heroes – and the third and final season showcased eight new shows.

Amazing Friends became the launching pad for new mutant Angelica, known as Firestorm. She would debut in comic continuity in Uncanny X-Men 193 in 1985 followed by a four-issue mini-series.

Prior, a Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends one-shot was released in 1981. The book loosely adapted The Triumph of the Green Goblin animated episode. It is not considered part of the canonical legend.

The series opened the original MCU featuring an unprecedented cast of co- and guest stars including the Black Knight, the X-Men, Loki, Shocker, Shanna the She-Devil, Beetle, Mysterio, Red Skull, Thor, Magneto, Juggernaut, Sunfire, Captain America, Daredevil, Hulk, Iron Man, Namor, Doctor Strange, Dr. Doom, Chameleon, Electro, Green Goblin, Kingpin, Doctor Octopus and the Scorpion.

The Red Skull episode has been deleted from the Disney+ schedule due to the portrayal of Nazi swastikas and the phrase “Heil Hitler.”

The idea of Amazing Friends would be resurrected throughout the next few decades. In Spider-Man Family: Amazing Friends (2006) issue one, a back up story, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Co-Workers, was included for the 25th anniversary of the animated series.

Brian Michael Bendis gave the series a nod in Ultimate Spider-Man. The cover of issue 118 paired Spidey, Iceman and Firestorm. Rather than Angelica, Bendis used cast member Liz Allan.

So, unless a traditionalist, give the Nutcracker a pass and relax with some animated Marvel goodness.

Posted Saturday, November 26th, 2022 by Barry

Spider-Man Drakes Cakes Mini Comics Series 1 (1993)

So many holidays, so much food.

Coming on the heels of Thanksgiving and just in time for the confectionary crush of Christmas time is National Cake Day.

Cake originates from the Viking kake. While the word has remained relatively the same, the end result has differed. Originally, cake was a flat bread with a regular shape flipped to ensure both sides were baked evenly.

The first ever birthday cake dates back before 1785. The term referred to a cake gifted for a birthday.

It wasn’t until the 19th century cake became what we know it as today. Cakes could then be baked with extra refined white flour and baking powder instead of yeast. Buttercream frostings began replacing boiled icings with fruit toppings.

A history of National Cake Day is not as easy to find. All we know is its as good a (non) holiday as any. Better than others in that National Cake Day allows celebrants an excuse to enjoy a sweet pleasure they may have avoided that day.

Our comic book representation for the day is the four-issue mini offered by Drakes Cakes in 1993 starring a line up Marvels’ finest – and most popular at the time.

Drake’s Cakes are named after founder Newman E. Drake who started the company in 1896 in New York.

The National Biscuit Company, better known now as Nobisco, bought out the Drake bakery and referred to the bakery as the N.E. Drake Baking Co. The Drake’s Famous Loaf Cakes continued to sell under the brand name until 1902. The Drake Baking Company was dissolved in 1903.

Drake reestablished his business as the Drake Brothers Company in 1903 and had expanded to a five-story bakery in 1913.

The company remained a family business until 1998 when Interstate Bakeries Corporation purchased the brand. Drakes became part of a Bakeries line that included Hostess.

Hostess Brands Inc., formerly Interstate Bakeries, filed for bankruptcy in 2012. In April of 2013, McKee Foods purchased the Drake’s brand for $27.5 million, reintroducing the company’s top selling items the same year.

Amid the shuffling of ownership, Drake partnered with Marvel Comics to publish four mini-comic books (3”x5” and 16-pages long) featuring Spider-Man, Hulk, Silver Surfer, Jubilee and Wolverine. Together they faced off against the Rhino, Sabretooth, Juggernaut and Doctor Doom.

Titles included Spider-Man: Carnage on Campus, Wolverine: Danger on the Docks, Hulk: Mayhem at the Mount and Silver Surfer: Lunacy in Latveria.

Unlike many of the other promotional giveaways, these were free of product placement. Only the last page touted the remaining comic books in the series, courtesy of Drakes Snack Cakes! A one-page add for the product was featured on the back cover.

Posted Monday, November 21st, 2022 by Barry

Hanna-Barbera TV Stars (1978) 1

Sixty-nine years after the fact, the United Nations general assembly declared November 21 World Television Day.

Invented in 1927, television became the primary medium for influencing public opinion in the 1950s. In 2013, 79 percent of the world’s households owned a television set.

In between, 1996, the UN chose to recognize the driving force of television by giving the invention its own day. To commemorate, the UN held the first World Television Forum. Media figures discussed the growing significance of television in the rapidly changing world. The UN recognized the device could bring awareness of events on a global basis in real time.

To recognize the day, we’re offering the Hanna-Barbera TV Stars comic book.

Hanna-Barbera were the darlings of Saturday morning television. Anyone growing up in the late 1960s through the 1970s and the Golden Age of Saturday morning television knows the brand.

It’s only fitting they partner with the comic book publishing powerhouse, Marvel, to offer a four-color format of their programming empire.

Hanna-Barbera TV Stars (1978) 1

The first of four bi-monthly comic books is cover dated August 1978. Featured are Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels and The Great Grape Ape.

Captain Caveman aired on ABC from 1977 through 1980. The animated mystery comedy bore more than a passing resemblance to another H-B creation, Scooby-Doo.

The premise involved a prehistoric caveman found by the Teen Angels, Brenda, Dee-Dee and Taffy. Together they traveled solving mysteries.

The Great Grape Ape debuted in 1975 as part of H-B’s ABC line up. Grape Ape was a 40-foot, purple gorilla who repeated his name over and over. Partnered with his furry friend, Beegle Beagle, the two inadvertently caused trouble, they had to fix before the animated short’s end.

In this first issue one, neither character deviates from their modus operandi.

Captain Caveman and his trio of Charlie’s Angels knock offs solve the case of the missing ships in The Shipping Magnet.

The Great Grape Ape and Beagly appear in The Big Meal Deal. The pair partner to raise $5 for an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Subsequent issues featured, The C.B. Bears, Undercover Elephant, the Herculoids, Dynomutt, Space Ghost, Clue Club and Top Cat.

To celebrate today, track down these blasts from the past or share a favorite television moment, hum your favorite show’s theme or binge on that show that takes you back.

Posted Friday, November 18th, 2022 by Barry

Strange Tales (1951) 159

Scorpio is the zodiac sign for people born between October 23 and November 22.

Scorpio is also the fictional Jacob “Jake” Fury, younger brother to the equally fictional Nicholas Joseph “Nick” Fury.

But, today is real enough. Today is Married to a Scorpio Support Day.

Strange Tales (1951) 159

Participants may celebrate by sharing stories, guidance and support to those married to Scorpios. Based on the astrological designation, Scorpios can have intense traits, be manipulative, experience intense mood swings and be impulsive.

Today astrology has its supporters and dissenters. Prior to the rise of science and technology, the art of divining by the stars was taken far more seriously. Astrology began in the third millennium B.C. in Western Europe. By the 13th century, astrology was a part of medical treatment. By the 1500s in Europe, physicians were legally mandated to determine the moon’s position before performing some medical procedures.

As science came to the forefront by the 17th century, astronomy began to lose popularity. It would not regain popularity again until the 20th century as newspapers began supplying horoscopes and zodiac signs.

The Scorpio of our choice wouldn’t appear until August, 1967, when comic book maverick Jim Steranko debuted the character in Strange Tales (1951) 159. In the Scorpio story line, a younger sibling rebelled against his brother becoming a terrorist and spy.

Adopting the Scorpio persona, Jake fought his famous brother eventually infiltrating S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick returned the favor imitating his brother in the Scorpio guise.

Jake would later commit suicide.

However, as with comic book characters, it was later learned Jake’s suicide was a ruse.

Others would take on the Scorpio mantel including Nick’s illegitimate son, Mikel Fury. Keeping it in the family, Jacob’s grandson Vernon Fury would become another version of Scorpio.

As for the day itself, those participating in supporting Scorpio’s spouses should remember the zodiac symbol in question enjoys alone time as well as feeling they have a safety net in others.

Other signs compatible with Scorpios include Cancer, Pisces, Taurus and Capricorn.