Friday, March 30, 2007

"Recent Acquisitions"

Been looking thru a stack o' comics I won from recent on-line auctions. One of the most interesting to me of the bunch is a copy of DC's Unexpected #190 (1979). It reprints the previously unpublished story from Doorway to Nightmare #6 (titled: "Tapestry of Dreams") along with the Mike Kaluta cover (shown above). DTN got caught up along with a slew of other titles in the great DC Implosion in the mid 1970's. Of course, most everyone that knows comics also knows that the artwork that'd been done ended up in those two volumes of photocopies given out to editors/creators they called "Cancelled Comics Cavalcade" 1 & 2 in 1978, but actually quite a bit of that material, some a bit edited, was eventually printed in other DC titles.

This issue of "Unexpected" was published during the time DC was still trying to experiment with what was the best size and price for the then current titles, and it's one of their "$1.00 Giants". I always thought that a really good size and value. Sometimes you got some reprints in those, but still quite a bit of good reading for a buck.

Another "Dollar" comic I got was DC's All-Out War #1, also from 1979. Nothing really unique about this war comic save maybe the (fair looking) Joe Kubert cover. It did have the first app. and origins of some misc. characters (such as "The Viking Commano"), but the only truely savable quality to this comic is the 10 pages of artwork by Jerry Grandenetti.

Other comics in this lot included several early issues of Marvel's The Defenders from the 1972-74 period. 'Couple of these had Gil Kane covers, and app.'s of "The Squadron Supreme, Prof. X and Magneto and The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants". I found a comment in the "hype" box in an early issue interesting as it told of a forthcoming title from Marvel to be called Gothic Thrillers and featuring the Theodore Sturgeon story, "It!". This comic was never published under that name however. Instead it was re-titled Supernatural Thrillers and eventually became the home for the Marvel horror-hero, "The Living Mummy".

The best of The Defenders issues though was an issue the seller had mislisted and was in reality a copy of Marvel Feature #2 (from 1971), which is The Defenders second true appearance. Not only is it one of the last 25 cent Marvel "Giants" published, but also contained an 8 page reprint of "The Sub-Mariner" from the 1950's (from one of the Atlas titles).

Then there was copies of The Avengers #'s 90 & 92 from 1971. Not much there; #92 has a Neal Adams cover (and it's a shame it wasn't 93 since that's an ALL Adams issue). Rounding out this lot's a copy of Spaceman #6 from 1963, published by Dell. Nice "painted-type" cover, but otherwise just a misc. silver-age comic.

Opps! Almost forgot a set of the 1987 DC mini series of "The Phantom Stranger" by Kupperberg/Mignola/Russell. Nice little limited series with great art from the late 1980's.

Got to see "The Ghost Rider" flick a few days back. Nowhere as bad as I figured. I liked the combination of the old western GR with the "Johnny Blaze" version.

Monday, March 26, 2007

"R.I.P.: Marshall Rogers"

Obviously, only the good DO die young. Gone from us now is artist Marshall Rogers, one of the greatest talents to come out of the Bronze Age of comic books.

Rest easy.


Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"R.I.P.: Jay Kennedy"

If you don't know the should.

Jay was a good friend to me, especially back in my hay-days of publishing small press publications. You can read more about this fine person here.

Good-bye, Jay. You left us far too young.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"Vernal Equinox"

"When a small planet enters into a collision course with Earth, giant, starfish-like aliens come to harn the humans. Their appearance causes worldwide panic, making it difficult for them to deliver the message. When they finally do, they commission a scientist to develope a bomb to destroy the planet, but the bomb is stolen by a rogue group who intend to use it for their own purposes."

Or so went the plot of the 1956 Japanese sci-fi flick, "Warning From Space".

So...why the post of a DVD box jacket and the cover the DC The Brave & The Bold #28 (1960)? I think the answer is pretty obvious. I've always wondered where some of the great ideas for various comic book stories came from during the Silver-Age, and I believe that just maybe Mr. Gardner Fox might have seen that B-Movie which inspired him to use such a creature to battle "The Justice League of America" in their first debute adventure. The flick certainly would have had enough time to have reached the states from 1956 to 1960. Maybe one boring weekend day, Mr. Fox decided to take in a movie in the downtown of the Big Apple just to kill some time. Perhaps it was playing on a "double-bill" (as so many flicks as that sort did back then), and afterwards he just sort of stored the idea in the back of his mind for a while. Who know? Maybe I'm way off on that. Just seems like it could have happened.

And, here it is on the first day of Spring...technically speaking. that's tomorrow. You see, Spring doesn't officially begin until around 7:PM CST, so the day's actually towards the night by then. (Welcome, Spring! You're way overdue.)

Bought a new DC comic today, Justice League of America ("speak of the Devil") #6, and noticed a price hike to $3.50 a copy. Wasn't sure if other DC titles were to follow suit, but a friend mentioned they had just done the price increase for that particular issue since it was the conclussion of the first story arc and just the right amount of pages to be reprinted in trade paperback format.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"Happy St. Patrick's Day...& Good-Bye to History"

If Samuel "Shemp Howard" Horwitz was still alive today he'd be...well...he'd be pretty old, actually! "Shemp Howard" was born on this day in 1895, which would make 112 years ago. He was the eldest of the Horwitz brothers.

Of course, he's been dead a good 52 years , and although he's not my favorite of "The Three Stooges" (that going to Larry Fine), still I must admit that I still get a laugh from the one short he made where his uncle had died and he was going to get this big inheritance IF he got married. He calls up all the gals he knows and proposes but none will marry him, save this one somewhat homely girl and the other Stooges make him go thru with it.

Then all of his other female aquaintances find out about the money and ALL of them try to marry him instead, and get into a cat-fight, one of which bangs the preacher over the head with a bird cage or some such thing, and the preacher keeps repeating the phrase, "Hold hands you two lovebirds!" all thru the short.

I know; it's low-brow humor maybe, but still funny none the least.

"Shemp" was one of the original Three Stooges, performing in their first film as well as on stage in the trio, and an amazing 77 Stooge shorts! Before the shorts started production however, he decided to go out on his own and was in several movies, acting alongside such greats as Fatty Arbuckle, W.C. Fields and Abbott & Costello. Jerry ("Curly"), of course, took his place (yet another of the "Howard" brothers), but when Curly got ill, then died in 1946 , Shemp came back in and remained with the group until his death in 1955.

"Happy Birthday, Shemp."

Well I had today off from work and decided to go back down to the local bookstore and take a "want list" with me this time while I thumbed through the back issue comic books on the spin rack. I had noticed last time I was there looking thru them that there was several various modern "Superman" titles, and I have many issues of those on a want list of app.'s of the Matrix "Supergirl", but alas, all of them were a number short or not even close. However, I did buy 8 misc. books, all of which were "Fantastic Four" appearances: 6 misc. issues of Marvel Knights 4 (including a #1 & 2 of that title), plus a first print of FF #348 (an issue with Art Adams artwork and guest app.'s of "The Ghost Rider", the grey-skinned "Hulk", "Spider-man" and "Wolverine"), and a #527 (a Michael Straczynski issue). Some interesting guest app.'s in the MK4's including "Namor" and "The Impossible Man". This'll give me some good reading for later on tonight.

While I was downtown as well, I took a disposable camera with me and took several shots of the old Gorin Store and Owens Hotel locations. It seems that our new mayor, intent on tearing down the old Hotel since the town never got the funds to fix it back up, decided to start using controlled fire and burn down several old houses and is going to burn down the old store as well. Now...this wasn't ever part of any city plan. The store was "fixable", is an antique structure and on the historic register, but he's had people strip down the store of it's alum. siding and gut the insides.

Even in that state of being, the store remains a building of antique beauty. one can now see the original green painted wood and framing. It was built in 1875, making it 132 years old. It's just a shame that it's going to be forever gone soon since it was indeed a repairable structure. As a small child in the Cub Scouts, I'd go there an one old man had it as an army surplus and buy items such as army backpacks and canteens and eating gear (thatI needed on Scout trips). At one time, and originally in fact, it was a grocery store, and it's the oldest grocery store in this town that still remains standing. Needless to say, our new mayor is on nobody's favorite town citizen list.

And, it's "St. Patrick's Day", so Drink Up, All You Irish! Pass along some of that famous Irish Luck to ME ('cause I can always use it)!

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

"Blogger Post #350!"

I was very saddened to hear about the passing of yet another comic book legend this week, Arnold Drake, who by all accounts was getting better after a round with pneumonia. Mr. Drake's work was a large part of my childhood comic memories, particularly on "The Doom Patrol", and this world is just not quite as complete now that he's gone from us. His work shall always be remembered. (And, oddly enough, I had just written him a letter the week before in care of his hospital, thaning him for all the good memories he'd given us. I can only hope that either he got to read it, or that someone read it to him before his passing.)

Also gone from us this week was musician, Brad Delp, lead guitarist and singer of the rock group, "Boston". Perhaps there's many who didn't care for Boston's style or music, but it was a stable for my listening pleasure in the 1970's. I'm especially a fan of the first 2 Boston l.p.'s. Very sad to hear that he was just 55 years old (as I'M 55 as well!)

After a 6 day work week, some 52-1/2 hrs., I finally got today off. This has been a hectic week with my attempts of solely being the one to keep the tool section filled (we carry over 2,000 tools at work), with new items coming in on several different trucks from the owner's buying trip a couple weeks ago on the West Coast. And now we're carrying well over a dozen very large farm implements, of which I have to display at least 3 of out on the parking lot each day to draw attention. Last night when I got in I pretty much collapsed on the couch, didn't feel like even eating dinner, and then laid on the bed for a good hour just trying to get a bit of my strength back. I slept pretty sound last night for a change (as I've been having a little trouble doing that lately). I think I only woke up once from 9:30 PM till 7:30 AM or so, so I got a little rest.

Last weekend I was wanting to go see "300" at the matenee, but had to work both days. I'm going to try to go see it this coming weekend if possible.

This morning I decided to measure the floor space in our living room and see how much decent carpet I had stored in the garage to fit it. This carpet has been stored out there for nearly 6 years now and has a few stained places, but still savable. I measured and cut pieces to fit together the yardage I need, which will be three pieces totalling the area of 14' x 15'. I'll have to have these ironed together before I can lay them, which is one of my vacation projects this year (sometime in either April or perhaps the first week in May).

While in the shop I ran across a bag of posters I'd saved, some of which were probably 25 years old. Looking through them I found 99% of them ruined beyond salvation and had to toss them in the garbage. Either moisture had gotten to them even with plastic around them, or the wasps had decided to use them for material to build nests. I was only able to save two of them: a "Batman & Robin" movie poster (that I'd probably got at Wal-Mart), and a plastic banner-type of "The Jackel" (a Bruce Willis flick). "Why" the wasps didn't get the Clooney Batman one is beyond me (probably because they have good taste, tho' and wouldn't touch one from such a crummy flick); the Willis banner was plastic, so that's why they passed on it. VERY heart-breaking was to discover that the 11" x 17" blow-ups of some Marvel SA comic vovers were destroyed, such as the repro of the Steranko cover to Nick Fury 7 (where he's floating in outer space). Damn insects.

Needed to go downtown this morning as well so I stopped by the local bookstore where a guy keeps a "spin rack" filled with back issues of comics. He'd actually been there recently and restocked, so I picked up 8 different modern comics, mostly DC's. The three most interesting of these were copies of the 1996 Supergirl series by Peter David #76 (I only need three issues of that now to complete a set), Adventures of Superman #559, which was the retro issue made to look like a 1960-70's issue, and Action Comics #826, which was an issue drawn by Churchill and featured an app. of the original "Captain Marvel". About the only new or different comic I've gotten in the mail from any on-line auction wins lately has been a copy of Weird Western Tales #18 (1976/DC), which, of course, is a fairly early app. of "Jonah Hex", but what makes this issue more special is that it's the first full app. of the character (i.e., the first solo Hex comic), and the first issue to display the "large" type Hex logo. Jonah Hex is still a flick I'd like to see someone make; Hollywood needs a decent western these days, and with super-hero and comic book-type flicks still hot, seems like a natural choice.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

"New Comic Book Reviews"

I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but I'm pretty sure it was around the time of the whole "Spider-man Clone Saga"; about when Marvel Comics discontinued such titles as "Captain America", "The Fantastic Four", and "The Avengers", then jump-started them all again with a new numbering. However, I AM sure that wasn't the only reasons I stopped buying newer issues of Marvel Comics.

Yes...DC had done the same with a few of their titles as well, in particular, "Superman", but overall their books just seemed more interesting to me, and their Vertigo line had a lot to play in that.

So these days my preference in comic reading leans 99% towards those characters I first enjoyed as a child: Superman, Batman, Supergirl, and the JLA members.

No wonder that I'm following DC all the way through it's 52 series and enjoying it so much; now only a mere 9 issues to conclude.

In the current issues, #'s 42 & 43, we are treated to the likes of The Elongated Man and discover a twist ending to the whole Ralph Digby attempt to resurrect his dead wife, and we also see that The Animal Man is still around and well (Yah!). Then we get into the "Osiris/Black Adam/ Isis/Marvel Family" deal which finally comes to somewhat of a head AND a shock-ending at the close of #43.

Throw in a couple of 2-pager origin recaps of "The Green Arrow" and "Plastic Man", which makes some fine reading.

And ("ARRRGHHH!!!"), AFTER the "52" series concludes, there will be yet another weekly DC title called, DC Countdown which will last ANOTHER 51 weeks! A countdown to what?? Well, DC won't say, but as usual, they promise that the whole idea of what the DCU represents will be changed.

Then over to the icon himself, "Superman" in the current issues of his premiere title, Action Comics.

Since Geoff Johns & Richard Donner took over the writing with issue #844, this has become one of those must reads for me.

It all begins with a scene of a alien space craft heading towards Earth at the end of #843 (so if you want to grab the WHOLE storyline, I suppose you need to grab one of those as well), which crashes into Metropolis (naturally) for the story to begin to unfold in the following issue. Superman stops the craft before it does too much damage to his adopted town and discovers a child within the craft; a young boy.

Being the "boy scout" that he is, Supes takes the child to the authorities, which is headed by one of the most esoteric of all old silver-age heroes, "Sarge Steel" (originally from the 1960's Charlton Comics line).

Superman leaves the child in Sarge Steel's care and goes about his patrol, promising the boy he'd be there when he woke up. But the next morning, he discovers that the whole facility had been moved without a mention to him and the child gone. Well, of course this pisses off The Man of Steel and he crashes into Steel's H.Q. and demands to know "where's the kid!?!" The issue ends with Superman, as "Clark Kent", showing up at the old homeplace in Kansas with the boy and asking his foster Earth parents, "John and Martha", to tell him "how" they got away with faking the original adoption of himself as a baby, so he could do the same with the child and protect him (not that a Kryptonian child needs a whole lotta protection, but you get the idea).

And into #845, we find that with the aid of his foster-folks (and Batman's ability to get some fake documents), "Clark and Lois" decide to adopt this child themselves and call him "Chris Kent". By that time it's already all over the media and everyone's looking for the "kid from Krypton", including our favorite DC villian, ol' "Lex Luthor", who (naturally) wants to exploit the child for his own evil purposes. So much so that he sends "Bizarro" to get the child.

At the end of this issue, Superman defeats Biz', and most is well, until we find out at the conclussion that this is actually the child of Kryptonian "Phantom Zone" villians, General Zod and Ursa, who along with another of the PZ criminals, Non, have escaped the zone and are now hell-bent on revenge again "the Son of Jor-El" (since Jor-El put them there in the first place.

It's an all-out slug-fest when they go after Supes and the child, with Ursa grabbing Lois, and Zod doing one of the most unexpected of moves by releasing ALL of the PZ criminals at once!

And...Superman's fate?? That'd blow it, folks. BUY the books.

Oh...and we see a couple of cameos of "Mon-El" in #846 (just a note here for you "LOSH" completists).

Adam Kubert carries on a rich legacy of great art with these, too. "52" and "Action" are my personal "Pick of the Week" this time.