Archive for the ‘Marvel Comics’ Category

Posted Saturday, May 1st, 2021 by Barry

Stan Lee Presents: The Mighty Marvel Comics Strength and Fitness Book (1976)

Obesity is a chronic disease affecting 100-million adults in America. Seeing the need for awareness, Kim Bielak founded National Fitness Day in 2017 to encourage healthier lifestyles. It is observed the first Saturday in May every year.

So dire is the current obesity rate, it ranks above smoking has a health hazard. About 40 percent of all cancers diagnosed in the United States have been associated with excessive weight. People with obesity in the US have higher heath care costs than those of normal weight; 27-percent more for physician visits and outpatient costs, 46-percent more for inpatient costs and 80-percent more for prescription drugs.

Common causes for obesity include genetics, physiological influences, food intake and eating disorders, sedentary lifestyle, weight history, pregnancy, drugs like steroid hormones and drugs used to treat psychiatric conditions.

Long before obesity became an epidemic, Fireside Books, coupled with Marvel, published The Mighty Marvel Comics Strength and Fitness Book. Agile Ann Picardo authored the tome while Jumpin’ Joe Giella illustrated the book.

Basically, it was just a fun book filled with normal exercises, most isometric, to help youngsters feel like they were training like a super hero. Or, training to be a super hero.

Marvel’s stable of heroes provided their own recommendations to help tone.

Stan Lee Presents: The Mighty Marvel Comics Strength and Fitness Book (1976)

Stan Lee Presents: The Mighty Marvel Comics Strength and Fitness Book (1976)

Included was Peter’s Perpendicular Leg Extensions. Instructions were as follows:  1. Lie on the floor leaning on your right elbow, feet straight out. 2. Bend the knee of your left and grab the heel of your left foot with your left hand. 3. Extend your leg straight up. Hold for a few seconds and return to your starting position. Repeat with your right leg.

Bashful’s Brutish Bottom Basher, from the Thing, instructed participants to 1. Sit on floor with your knees bent and grab your ankles 2. Rock back and forth, until you start to feel seasick.

The (J. Jonah) Jameson Roar went something like this: 1. Kneel on the floor with your bottom resting on your heels and your hands on your thighs, palms down. 2. Bend forward, open your eyes as wide as you can, and tense up every muscle in your body 3. Stick your tongue out as far as you can, spread your fingers wide apart and hold tense for a count of 12. 4. Slowly relax, bring your tongue back where it belongs and return to your starting position.

Not sure what good this one did, other than to contribute to premature balding, but Medussa’s instructions for Firey’s Furious Follicle Flourisher: 1. Sit cross legged on the floor and take hold of as much as near the scalp as you can. 2. Pull your hair forward so you can actually feel your scalp move, and then pull backward.

Other heroes contributing were Ghost Rider with his Bizarre Bicycles, the Hulk with Jade-Jaws’ Just-So Sit Ups and Banner’s Bellicose Bench Presses (without a bench), Thor with Goldilocks’ Greatest Isometric Arm Invigorators, Luke Cage’s Super Dude’s Free Squats and Luke’s Lying Down Limb Lifter, Sue Storm – when she was still the Invisible Girl – with The Fantastic One-Two-Three-Four, Captain America and the Falcon’s All-American Give and Take, Human Torch’s The Torchie Twist, Spider-Man’s Little Miss Muffet and Spread-Legged Foot Pull among others.

Some of the above worked in the fight against obesity, but other alternatives include healthy recipes, substituting fries for a salad, walking the stairs rather than taking the elevator, taking the dog for a walk, ordering from the light side of the menu, setting the alarm 20-minutes earlier to allow for some light exercising prior to beginning the day, etc.

Posted Sunday, April 25th, 2021 by Barry

Fantastic Four (1961) 8

The last Sunday of April plays host to International Sculpture Day. To usher in this year’s non-holiday is the celebrated fictional Marvel U artist, Alicia Masters.

Fantastic Four (1961) 8

Fantastic Four (1961) 8

Despite her blindness, Masters became a talented sculptor. Many of her works were modeled after the heroes husband Ben Grimm, aka the Thing, and his fantastic family palled with.

Her disability was caused by her stepfather and supervillain the Puppet Master.

Masters and Grimm enjoyed a rocky romance until the Thing chose to stay on an alien planet following the events of Secret Wars. She fell in love with Johnny Storm, aka, the Human Torch and the two married in Fantastic Four 300.

In true comic book soap opera form, it was later discovered Masters had been replaced by a Skrull prior to her relationship with Storm. Upon her return, Masters found solace with the Silver Surfer.

Returning from her spacefaring days, Masters and Grimm found each other again; this time to marry.

The word “sculpture” originates from the Latin word sculpere, meaning to carve. Today the three-dimensional art form utilizes a variety of materials including wood, stone, metal, and even Legos.

International Sculpture Day debuted in 2015. The day continues to grow in recognition each year.

Posted Tuesday, April 20th, 2021 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 1

It’s been said we all have a twin. April 20 is the day we remember we’re not alone. Today is National Look Alike Day.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 1

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 1

Some times our resemblance is courtesy of nature. Other times its an achieved process. Whichever the case, Marvel’s Chameleon is the emcee.

Dmitri Smerdyakov, aka the Chameleon, first appeared in the back up story of Amazing Spider-Man issue one. The throw-away story had Smerdyakov using the Cold War to fatten his bank account. During the short story his mercenary mission was to steal as many state secrets as possible to ransom to the highest foreign bidder.

His misstep came in impersonating Spider-Man, sending the enemy of the state on extended stay behind prison walls.

The Chameleon would continue to appear throughout the Marvel U fighting such heroes as Daredevil and Iron Man as well as Spider-Man.

He made a career outside the printed world as a mainstay in the animated field. Chameleon first appeared on The Marvel Super Heroes against Iron Man in Cliffs of Doom and opposite the Hulk in Enter the Chameleon.

When Spider-Man returned to Saturday mornings in 1980, Chameleon appeared in the Arsenic and Aunt May episode. He also made an appearance on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

In the 1990s, the Chameleon was a recurring character on the Spider-Man series. Not missing a decade, he returned for The Spectacular Spider-Man and continued onto the 2017 Spider-Man cartoon, voiced by Patton Oswalt.

While Stan Lee and Steve Ditko created our guest host, television reporter Jack Etzel is the originator of National Look Alike Day. A slow news day led to a recurring premise for the future.

Posted Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 by Barry

Howard the Duck (1976) 9

Off-color jokes aside, today is International Beaver Day. To remember, we’re celebrating a duck.

April 7 has been earmarked International Beaver Day to honor Dorothy Richards, the Beaver Woman. For the uninformed, Richards studied beavers at Beaversprite Sanctuary in New York’s Adirondack Mountains for 50 years.

Howard the Duck (1976) 9

Howard the Duck (1976) 9

In the four-color world of six degrees of separation, the beaver and Howard the Duck are one shade away for our purposes.

Issue nine of Howard’s book is the culmination of the 1976 American National Election. The drake’s brief affiliation with his bid for the Presidency lasted through part of issue seven, the Howard the Duck Treasury Edition and issue eight before collapsing with issue nine.

Along the way, creator Steve Gerber envisioned a campaign outside comic books. A Howard the Duck for President pin and poster were both offered for postage and handling to readers. Howard even received several thousand write-in votes that November.

The short campaign trail was littered with naysayers and assassins. Howard’s affiliation with the All-Night Party, an independent group offering a choice other than Democrats or Republicans, ended in scandal.

Following the path of a doctored photo of he and human lady friend Bev Swisher sharing a bathtub, Howard found himself in Canada. The man behind the plot proved to be more of a cybernetic beaver calling himself Le Beaver.  Gerber trolled the depths of bad dreams for his origin, having Pierre Dentifris, the self-proclaimed Canada’s Only Super Patriot, attempt to dam Niagara Falls. U.S. bombers destroyed his plans and body, causing him to construct an exoskeleton of a beaver for himself.

In revenge, Dentifris masterminded Howard’s rise and fall as political candidate. While America waded through the wreckage of the election, Le Beaver would invade allowing Canada to no longer live in America’s shadow.

Since we’re still saluting the stars and stripes, his plan obviously failed.

Issue nine marks Le Beaver’s one and only appearance – to date. Howard continues to reside in the Marvel U, even making a cameo in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Anyway, back to International Beaver Day.

To commemorate, read up on semiaquatic rodents, visit a habitat or just dig this piece of Bronze Age hyperbole and show it the love it deserves.

Posted Tuesday, March 23rd, 2021 by Barry

Marvel Premiere (1972) 35

Both non-holiday and master of ceremonies are lesser knowns today.

For National 3-Day cold-war era homage 3-D Man rides the big float.

Roy Thomas and Jim Craig reached a couple decades back for inspiration from Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. The legendary duo had originally created Captain 3-D as a novelty character for the 1950s. Three-dimensional films were the rage, so, why not?

Marvel Premiere (1972) 35

Marvel Premiere (1972) 35

Move past the Kennedy assassination, Viet Nam War and Watergate to the 1970s for a revival of the decade when almost everyone liked Ike, but loved Lucy. Thomas and Craig set their sites on a character whose strength, speed and durability were transformed three-fold.

3-D Man was the amalgamation of brothers Chuck and Hal Chandler. Test pilot Chuck found himself a captive of the Skrulls. Strange radiation allowed his image to be imprinted on his brother’s glasses after his return to Earth. For a time, Hal could manifest Chuck allowing the two brothers to form a third entity. Eventually the ability faltered and Chuck was relegated to limbo.

All of this either happened or was intimated in Marvel Premieres 35-37.

3-D Man reappeared for Incredible Hulk issues 251 and 252, Contest of Champions 1 and What If..? 9.

He returned to hibernation until Avengers Forever 4 and Avengers 50-58 and Secret Invasion: Skrulls one shot in 2008.

Every March, on the third day of the third week of the third month, National 3-D Day is celebrated. The holiday was founded last year by The Center for Stereoscopic Photography, Art, Cinema and Education.

Posted Saturday, March 20th, 2021 by Barry

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 290

Peter Parker popped “the question” to Mary Jane Watson in Amazing Spider-Man 182.

And, how Four Color Holidays celebrated National Proposal Day last year.

Her answer was a resounding, “no.”

A decade later he asked again. Amazing Spider-Man 290, entitled “The Big Question,” left little for the reader to guess when it first hit comic book shops. David Michelinie and John Romita, Jr., shuffled Spidey around New York and the book as he wrestled with his inner turmoil.

Readers probably knew before Peter what he would be doing by the last page.

The Preserver proved a disposable villain as he introduced the tone of the tome. His plans to stop renovations to Times Square were short lived and the restless titular character moved on.

A visit to Aunt May’s sets Peter down a path to a new life. Deciding to share his travels, the Wall Crawler’s alter ego chooses to ask MJ for her hand in marriage again.

This time with different results.

The marriage would culminate in Amazing Spider-Man annual 21.

National Proposal Day is observed on both the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes, offering equal time to the sexes to ask the question. If a little shy, take the day to confirm your feelings. You can steel your nerves and ask in September when the second equinox rolls around.

The non-holiday was created by John Michael O’Louglin.

Amazing Spider-Man (1963) 290

Posted Friday, February 19th, 2021 by Barry

Night Nurse (1972) 1

Holidays Calendar defines National Caregivers Day as “a holiday that recognizes and honors all of the hard work and dedication that caregivers offer all year round. It’s a day that’s held on the third Friday of each February and helps to honor the millions of caregivers who work all over the world.”

The face we’re putting on the non-holiday is Linda Carter.

Night Nurse (1972) 1

Night Nurse (1972) 1

Not that Linda Carter.

Linda Carter, formerly Linda Carter Student Nurse, who graduated to Night Nurse.

The medical-drama comic book series lasted four issues. Featured were three female roommates – Carter, Georgia Jenkins and Christine Palmer – working the night shift at Metropolitan General Hospital in New York City.

Though the title failed, writer Brian Michael Bendis resurrected Carter in 2004 in Daredevil 58 as a nurse for super heroes. Former roommate Palmer was also given a makeover in Nightcrawler 1.

In 2015, Carter appeared in a one-shot titled Night Nurse. It reprinted all four issues of the original series as well as Daredevil 80.

She was upgraded to a surgeon in the 2016 Doctor Strange feature film, played by Rachel McAdams.

Coincidently (?) enough, National Caregivers Day began in 2015, the same year as the Night Nurse reprint.

To commemorate the day, take time out to thank these hardworking individuals for their dedication and selflessness. To promote on social media, use #NationalCaregiversDay and spread the word.

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 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 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 video game 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