Friday, August 29, 2008

"Post No. 543"

Before I review more comics I have a couple of movie reviews to get out of the way here:

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor(2008; approx. 2 hrs. Brendan Fraser, Maria Bello, John Hannah, Luke Ford; PG-13.

The best of the three flicks so far produced; yes, I think even better than the first one. You wonder how far they can take this series until it dries up, but this time the scene changes from Egypt to China and using ancient Emperors and witches, the "villians" of which is played by fan fave, Jet Li (who pretty much played the part of "Kato" in The Black Mask).

Years have supposingly passed since the second flick and Fraser and wife, Bello, are bored and need an adventure to rejump-start their romance. Their son, now grown and an archeologist himself, discovers an anceint Chinese emperor who was bent on conquering the world until a betrayed witch puts an end to his plans. If he's resurrected, he'll be unstoppable!

Good fight scenes, nice photography and effects, good sound, good story, fun flick! Great to see John Hannah return; shame Rachael Weisz had to be replaced by Bello as she was the one weak part of the story. Still one of the better flicks this year. I give it an "A" rating.

Batman: The Dark Knight (2008; 2+ hours = too damn long;) Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeeman, etc.;PG-13

Don't expect it to be a super-hero flick. No one has learned how to make one of those yet. The late Mr. Ledger might get an Oscar for his performance. I personally don't think he deserves it. He simply wasn't "The Joker", or at least, any aspect or resemblance to any I've ever seen in a Batman comic book. The reason "why" it wasn't a good comic book movie? It ignores comic book facts.

The most important relating to "The Joker" is that this character does NOT have scars making his mouth into a grin. That look comes from his maniatic smile from a thin, angular face of the character. Why can't movie writers accept this? They ignored it with the 1989 Batman movie as well. The Joker's origin is not that complicated. His wife was pregnant and he needed money, so he got involved with some thugs wanting to rob from a chemical plant. His wife begs him not to ruin it for themselves and their to be unborn child. The Joker has a change of heart and tells the thugs he won't go through with their plans. They tell him he'd best do so or harm will come to his loved ones. They convince him it'll be okay as no one will see his face because he'll be wearing a red hood to conceal his features. The Joker agrees to their plans, but Batman knocks him off into a chemical vat. He survivies the fall, but the chemicals turn his skin a chalky-white, his lips a bright ruby red and his hair, green. In the meanwhile, the thugs still kill his pregnant wife. He goes nuts and takes out his woes on all involved. End of origin. No scars, and NO make-up.

The film itself: bad sound, murky fight scenes, hated the "Batman voice", still hate that god awful-looking Batmobile. 30 minutes too long; Harvey Dent ("Two-Face" should not have died.) It's no more than a "C" film to me. Even Nicholson did a better Joker. Hell. Even Cesar Romero with makeup over his lip-warmer was more true to the character of the villian. People will hate me for this review. It's just my opinion. Give Gary Oldman The Oscar for his performance as "Commissioner Gordon" instead, or Michael Caine for "Alfred".

And now I interrupt my regularly scheduled reviews for a word about this presidential campaign.

If anyone deserves an Oscar, it should go to those in charge of organizing both the Dem. & Rep. campaigns this time around, because it is certainly The Greatest American Farce ever perpetrated upon this country and its people.

Stuck we are in a decision between an dictatorship of yet another Republican, or the antics of a Democratic Anti-Christ is simply not a great place for anyone to be located.

Hillary's acceptance of the nomination spee---ummm, that is to say, her recommendation of Obama the other night was one of the biggest grandstands I believe I've ever witnessed, and with a delivery that should be recorded in the records with The Gettysburgh Address (and I thought Bill's crocodile tears were a nice touch).

And now McCain has told us his choice of running mate is Sarah Palin? Does McCain think this is "Dancing With The Stars"?? Doesn't he realize that this choice will be who would replace him if his aging a$$ was to pass away while in office?

Oh well...maybe it doesn't matter since The Mayan Calendar just has 1,500 more days until it runs out. Which may not mean anything...but it did every time before.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"Post No. 542"

REVIEWING: HAWKMAN (DC) #'s 40 thru 49 (2005-2006)

I can see why the history of the DC Comics' Hawkman character is so confusing. Even if you look it up on Wikipedia, you may or may not make any sense of it.

Over the years, and thru DC's myriad number of "Crisis" series, this character has gotten so screwed-up that he wouldn't even make sense if one was to take him all the way back to his Silver-Age roots and start over with Square One in The Brave & The Bold #34 (Feb.-Mar., 1961 issue).

I sat down and read, over a couple of days, a run of the 2002 (?) series, #'s 40 thru 49, and 50 thru 59 (with a title switch over to Hawkgirl with #50), and the writing seemed purposely done do as to confuse (and annoy)anyone who liked the adventures of this hero.

Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmoitti's little foreword on Hawkman (from issue 41) went as follows:

"My name is Carter Hall. I've lived and died many times and led many lives. I was once an Egyptian prince, a samurai, a knight, a gunslinger, an archeologist...The list goes on and on. There was a time when I was trapped between the world of the living and the world of the dead. A place called Arion. Although my soul was lost in that limbo, I was not alone. With me was a police office named Katar Hol from the planet Thanagar, who had come to our world and fought alongside The Justice League. Katar Hol eventually called Earth his home and came to defend it with his life. When Onimarr Synn, "The Sin Eater", threatened to destroy Hol's Home world of Thanagar, I was pulled from "The Well of Souls" by my one true love, the woman who has walked with me through this world a thousand times. Her birthname was Chay-Ara but this time she has been reborn as Kendra Saunders. When I returned, so did my memories of not only every life I've lived, but Katar Hol's memories as well."

A little long, huh?

Any way...issues #'s 40 thru 45 (July '05 thru Nov. '05) dealt with Hawkman apparently being killed by a villian called "The Fadeaway Man", and Hawkgirl being seriously injured. Enter the old former Teen Titan, "The Golden Eagle", who now claims to be the son of Hawkman, and wants to disguise himself as Hawkman to keep the villians on edge. With Hawkgirl's aid, they kill or trap all of the villians that had joined up with The Fadeaway Man, as well as F-A Man himself. Case closed, you say? Just another hero taking up the Hawkman mantle? Wrong.

It happened that The Golden Eagle was feeding everyone a pack of lies and he, himself, was behind the demise of Hawkman. This comes to a boil when he tries to seduce Hawkgirl, only to find---("Taa-Daa"!) The REAL Hawkman returns!

Okay, so..."what-the-hell"....?

This was all just a ploy of Hawkman to bring out the actual villian who had attacked him, and he had his real son (who is the current incarnation of "Dr. Fate") cast a spell of illusion over everyone (including "The Justice Society of America") to believe he was dead.

Hawkman beats the crap outta this wannabe to his mantle, sticks him in a Thanagorian spaceship and sends it off to that planet with evidence in the computer banks showing that The Golden Eagle's actual father was a traitor to that planet, and leaves the justice for them to deal with.

(Confused enuff, yet? Hey! I'm just warming up!)

Because next we move into issue #47 which drops the readers right smack into the middle of the Rann-Thanagar War, as well as the multi-crossovers series of "Infinite Crisis", along with aspects of the OMAC Project. And I won't even attempt to explain all of those; you just need to click onto each of those links to get a summary.

But, in #47 we have Hawkman, Hawkgirl, Adam Strange, Starman (the one from the 80's Adventure Comics series), Captain Comet, and a couple of Green Lanterns all embroiled in a life-and-death battle on Thanagar, which eventually leads to HMan & HGirl's true feelings coming out for one another, and when we get finally to issue #49, this all becomes something of a mute point since between 49 and 50, it's supposed to be "One Year Later" in The DC Universe and we have a title change to Hawkgirl, as well as a new writer and artist on this title.

And to know all of the events that occured during "that year" in the DCU, one would have to read DC's entire "52" series (of which there are 52 issues).

I will say that I'm actually happy that comics today aren't so imposed upon by The Comics Code Authority as there's certain scenes within and on the cover of #48 (shown above) that one simply would not have seen otherwise that worked out well in the story.

Overall, my rating of these issues would be a: :^).

Next: HAWKGIRL #'s 50 thru 59.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Post No. 541"

Well...I finally did something that makes me feel very old today. My wife and I went down to the local courthouse and picked out plot sites for ourselves at the local cemetary. Not that we hope we will use them for another good 30 years, but it's something as we grow older one does have to think about and one less hassle for a family member.

I also got Power of Attorney for mom and got her Living Will and all taken care of, plus stopped by the local Home Health Center to get that started so she'll have someone to keep an eye on her "when" she gets out of the nursing home.

(Sometimes it sucks to be an adult.)

"In other news"..., for my last book I need to finish my enrolement requirements and pledged books to purchase thru the Sci-Fi Book Club, I've order a copy of Jungle Girl TPB (which reprints 1-5). I've heard a lot about that series and have always wanted to read a few of them, and this looked like the easiest and best way to do so.

Had a bid on a large lot (40+ issues) of Marvel's Civil War series, but finally got out-bidded on them. This was something I had a passing interest on, but not enough for me to initally try to collect. Thought that might be an easy way to acquire them as well, but someone simply wanted them more than I did, so...

And, anyway, if I really want to read one of those over-hyped series I'd more than likely look for a full run of DC's Countdown, simply because I'm more of a DC fan these days. I really enjoyed their 52 title, and from what I've read about Countdown it looks like that'd be more up my alley, reading enjoymentwise.

And we finally got some rain here today in S-Central, KY.! The first half-ass decent one in at least a month. I personally haven't mowed either my own yard or my mom's for three weeks or so due to this drought; everything seems dead and brittle even to walk on, and about all I've done to either yard is mulch up some of the dead leaves that are already falling or use the weed-eater on the weeds (which never seem to cease growing even if Earth fell into The Sun). The grass seed I've sown recently has already began coming up and I've been watering it every day so this should help that tremendously. In fact, rain is predicted for on-and-off the next three days. 'Could be a very wet Autumn to make up for the dry Summer.

I have several things to review here soon. Such as the Hawkman/Hawkgirl series from DC (#'s 40 thru 59), and movies: Batman The Dark Knight, the latest Indiana Jones, etc., as time permits and I wade thru it all.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Post No. 540"

Read a run of JLA (DC) #'s 101 thru 109 (September '04 thru February, '05); the previous series to the current one.

#'s 101 thru 106 contained the complete "Pain of the Gods" storyline, and it was very good. Each issue took on an individual JLA member (Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern, J'onn J'onzz, Wonder Woman, & Batman, in that order) and told about some tramatic event in their lives as a super-hero. For instance, Superman allows a new super-hero to take the danger in a collapsing building while he flies the victims to safety, and the building explodes killing said hero, who Supes didn't realize didn't have as much power and invunerability to withstand such. The Flash is rescueing victims from a burning apartment complex, but can't save two children. Wonder Woman is almost killed by a super-villianess she's never met before, and Green Lantern tries to save an abused woman from her husband, only to accidently allow a stalker to kill another woman in the same building, etc. Each of these events leaves the heroes shaken in their abilities to save mankind, and they lean heavily on the other members of the JLA for support. An ongoing story within this is Superman trying to watch out for the son of the hero who lost his life, only to discover the entire family are super-powered beings.

This is one of the better efforts I've read from writer Chuck Austen. I give it a X^D

#'s 107 thru 109 contains half of a story called "The JLA VS. The Crime Syndicate". I can't fully review this due to not having read its entirity, but from the first half I was a little disapointed in writer, Kurt Buseik, perhaps because I've always expected more from him after his Astro City series.

The tale involves the "Crime Syndicate of America" (from "Earth A"? I never could get that straight. The JLA evil counterparts such as "Ultraman", "Owlman", "Johnny Quick" & "Superwoman", who was first introduced around #'s 29 or 30 of the original Justice League series circa 1963-64) coming to our own earth and disgusing themselves as the real JLA. And that's about as far as it read in those three issues. It was "okay", but... From what I read it's a :^)

Ron Garvey did the artwork in all of these issues. Not one of my favorite of comic book artists, but capable.

Not much going on around here today. My wife and I had the day off together and thought about maybe going out of town to some flea markets, but just didn't make it. I had a lousey night's sleep and it was late before we even got up. When we finally did we sat around on the couch for a good hour and a half before we got the enthusiasm just to go down to the local flea market, of which there wasn't anything of interest, then by the nursing home for an hour or more to visit with my mom.

Later on, we took a walk for a mile or better, over to the cemetary where I checked on my dad's grave and removed some weeds from the plot, and we walked around looking at the old stones, some of which dated back into the mid to late 1800's. It's where a large portion of my family is buried, including my brother and his wife, many aunts-uncles-great "whichevers", grandfathers & grandmothers, and my great grandfather who was a sergent in the 29th. Infantry of the Union Army and fought in The Civil War.

Stopped by mom's place and watered her flowers and back home.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"Post No. 539"

Notes on a couple of recent flicks I've seen...
Hancock (2008, Approx: 90 minutes, Will Smith, PG-13) was a real surprize and much better than I figured. This movie is about a disfuctional super being named "John Hancock", whose heart is in the right place, but he has a drinking problem and the public's opinion of him rates from hero to bum. This all changes when he saves the life of a P.R. agent who, with the help of his wife and young son, help turn Hancock's life around and he takes responcibility for his actions and great powers, and make him an acceptable hero to the city. It's not overly sentimental, but enough that the whole family would enjoy it.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008, Approx. 2 hrs., Ron Perlman, PG-13); after two HB flicks I can't think of anyone I'd imagine other than Ron Perlman playing the part of this Mike Mignola character, and, even though it's not an exact adaptation of the style and characteristics portrayed by him in the various comic book series, this is still an excellant flick. Selma Blair who plays "Liz Sherman", is not as whinney this time around and comes across as a strong member of the B.P.R.D..

There's some pretty funny scenes, especially with HB and "Abe Sapien", and the special effects are, as usual, excellant. In this tale, HB & Crew battle an evil faerie prince who is hell-bent on breaking an ancient treaty between faeriedom and humans. In this conflict the B.P.R.D. is aided by the faerie's twin sister, and there's some tender moments between her and Abe. A bit sad at the end, there's a great surpize for HB in store and will make any further installments of this series interesting.

And now...a few more words of clarification on the eBay matter on which I previously posted.

The new rules and regulations from that auction site will begin to take affect towards late October of this year (just a couple of months away). Besides using the option of Paypal (which eBay prefers since they own that site and want their "kickback"), they also will let the sellers use ProPay, debit or any of a variety of credit cards.

When I first began selling on eBay, it was before the higher fees, eBay stores or their owning Paypal. Over the time I've been a registered eBay user (9 years), between what I have personally sold thru them, or what other people have sold for me (on which I paid all of the fees), they've received thousands of dollars. Multiply that times the hundreds of thousands of other "small time" sellers, and they've gotten millions from us.

It was this starting capital which gave eBay the ability to become the multi-corporative giant they are today. But now, we "smaller" sellers feel very betrayed by this company simply because:

1) We don't have a choice in the matter.

2) They didn't ask us IF we wanted these new regulations (in fact, they've never asked us if we wanted ANY of their revived regulations).

I've bought and sold using personal checks and money orders for years. Some of us just do not want to use Paypal. We don't like the idea that if we sell something for $20., all we get is $17. We don't want to rise our starting bids because lower starting bids make items sell better.

3) We want to give our buyers some sort of choice in payment options, and not a demand.

And, yes. If there's another auction site that starts up that we think is worthwhile, many of us will be heading that way.

I feel like there's way too many corporations in this country which makes demands upon us as it is, and when choices are taken away, it sparks from some of the philosophies of fascism and communism.

But...that's just my opinions....and you know what they say about opinions.

Moving right along here---

Went down by the local flea market today. One guy had a dozen or so mid-bronze-age comics, all Marvel. Titles such as Master of Kung Fu, Ms. Marvel, etc. Wanted a buck each for them. Passed on any of them. Not that I don't thing there's certainly "some" bronze-age comics that are worth that to me (for instance, I would have jumped on that era Hulks, Warlocks and some other titles).

Stopped by the nursing home on the way back and visited with mom for a good hour. They've started putting those patches on her wrist now to help relieve some of the arthritic pain. She's doing much better and in high spirits, though bored from her long stay (now three weeks+), and I rolled her outside to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine for quite a while. She really enjoyed that.

I've read just a boo-koo of comics here of late. Many of them from the 2004 period, such as Batman, 'Tecs, Batman Gothic Knights, Aquaman, Hawkman, Ultimate FF, Ultimate Spider-man, and others. No individual opinions on any of these save that everything I read was indeed readable, and some it it outright excellant. I enjoyed the DC stuff, in general, better than the Marvel, especially such titles as Marvel Knights 4 and Ultimate Fantastic Four (but perhaps that's because I've always been a big fan of the "F.F."). One comic in particular that stood out from the stack was Batman Gothic Knights (DC) #54 (08/2004) which contained a modern version of "The Joker's" origin and tied in the aspect of his being "The Red Hood".

I also read most of Volumes 2 & 3 of the Joe Kubert newspaper reprints of "The Green Beret", published by Blackthorne some years ago. Kubert has never disapointed me with his work.

I still have close to 50 comics I need to read before I begin on the Warren Ellis DC-Helix-Vertigo set of Transmetropolitan. Actually, I've already read the two specials as well as the one-shot stories, and just as soon as I wade thru this other stuff, I'll begin one storyline at a time on those.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Post No. 538"

How appropriate that here on my 9th. e-birthday (that is to say, that I registered for eBay 9 years ago to this date), that I'll no longer purchase anything through it because they have initiated the policy that checks and money orders will no longer be allowed to pay for your items through the sellers.

Here is their statement about this new policy, and it's not that I haven't seen this coming for some time now ever since they becgan initiating said policy in foreign countries.

And we all know "why" they've started this policy; it's because they own PayPal, and now they have a monopoly on payments and can charge what will become an ever-growing fee for sellers when they receive payment. This will cause higher starting fees and will be bad for them as well as the buyers.

So it's "Good-bye" for me to eBay until they discover that this new policy is a bunch of crap, and reverse their decision.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Post No. 537"

On the Turner Movie Channel this morning I caught a showing of the 1966 "Man from U.N.C.L.E." flick, The Spy in the Green Hat and it got me to remembering what a fan I was in the early 1960's of the various secret agent/spy craze that abounded at that time.

And this flick, although pretty "tongue-in-cheek", really captured the feeling of the t.v. show of that time, and was filled with just a barrel fun of great old stars (and if you don't believe me, just read that list!), with the UNCLE Agents battling thier greatest of foes, "T.R.U.S.H.", plenty of beautiful women, the always present super-weapon, and even a bunch of aging 20's gangsters who dressed in outfits Kirby could swipe from forever.

The spy-fad has really never gone away. Back in the 60's we had James Bond and the Man from UNCLE, and the GIRL from UNCLE, and Our Man Flint, and scrores of others which over the years has spawned the likes of more Bond flicks, Austin Powers and even a new version of "Get Smart" long past the days of The Cold War.

When it was really big, we found ourselves surrounded by digests and magazines, and paperbacks, and t.v. shows, and movies, and plastic models, etc., etc., and ...Oh THOSE TOYS! Secret Agent guns that did a hundred different things, minature cameras and radios, and, of course, my favorite, the "Sixth Finger", which looked like a really finger one could conceal in the palm of your hand that shot projectiles from the tip! Let's face it. They just don't make toys like that anymore!

And this fad had some really stiff competition as it played out during "The Bat-Craze" of the Adam West/Burt Ward show, but has still survived. For the record, BOTH fads have really survived as today we're still enjoying at least one Summer blockbuster of a super-hero movie. And "why' are they still around? I think perhaps because we associate them in similiar ways, and true at Marvel Comics we have "Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D." who began right during the 60's spy fad, and the feeling that "The Cold War" might begin anew hits us presently when we see where the former U.S.S.R. has invaded Georgia and we think, "Can U.S. involvement be far behind?"

Saturday, August 16, 2008

"Post No. 536"

Okay, Warren're off the hook! Today my regular comic shop had one of its "sidewalk sales days" and with 20% off all items within the store, so in back issues I found copies of Transmetropolitan #'s 25, 26, 31, as well as the TPB collection: Tales of Human Waste.

I really wanted a copy of the Vertigo-DC comic, Winter's Edge #2, which had an odd "Spider Jerusalem" story in it, but with none to be found I opted for this collection which has it along with both of the Transmetropolitan Specials reprinted in it. So now when my set of Transmetropolitan #'s 26 thru 30, 32 thru 60, and the first four volumes of Transmetropolitan TPBs (which reprint issues 1 thru 24) come in, I'll have virtually every one of the stories and I can sit down and read them all in order. (And, I'll probably review all of them, maybe 10 issues at a time, until everyone who reads this blog gets really bored of it.) So, unless you wanna send me originals of the ones I don't have, Mr. Ellis..... (*heh*, again).

And while I was at the comic shop, looking at some really nice old silver age adorning their walls, I was realllllyyy tempted to buy a copy of Weird Science-Fantasy that had the UFO on the cover. Probably will kick myself for not doing so. In fact, I really didn't buy much at all save for the proverbial boards and bags I needed. I did find a copy of Marvel Super-heroes #33 which gives me a straight run of 1 thru 74 complete (#'s 1-11 Fantasy Masterpieces), Supergirl 32 (missed 30 & 31 somehow), copies of the Joe Kubert Tales of the Green Beret newspaper reprints (Vol.'s 2 & 3 , for a buck each), and out of the quarter boxes, Ultimate Spider-man 56-58 (Bendis and Bagley, of course). They had several back issues of DC's The Spirit that I needed, but passed on them. May stop buying that. (I enthusiasm for that title has mostly vanished.)

And before I left to go to the sale, I had a guy come by and give me an estimate on rewiring this old house. We settled on a price and he'll start on it in a couple of weeks. It's something that's really needed doing since we bought this house over 7 years ago. Of course, back at that time we could have gotten it done at about 35% of what current estimates cost had we'd been able to afford it then.

We've also decided to drywall the ceiling in the bathroom rather than put in new ceiling tiles.

And here it is with over half of August over and that just doesn't seem right. Stores are already starting to put out Halloween "stuff". Before long it'll be Labor Day, then Halloween, then Thanksgiving and Christmas, and this year will be shot all to Hell. ("Time do fly".)

Friday, August 15, 2008

"Post No. 535"

And today, a serious note. I urge anyone and everyone, whether you attend comic book conventions or not, to please read the comments on THIS blog site today. This is a very serious matter that should be addressed and corrected for the safety and welfare of all convention attendees immediately. (Thanks!)

Monday, August 11, 2008

"Post No. 534"

*Tsk! Tsk!* I figured at least one person would get the correct answer to yesterday's little "Pop Quiz", but...I guess not. So here now is the answer.

The reason why those two comics from the early 1990's are relevant today is because they both contain interior AND cover artwork by one of the biggest names in the comic book business: BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS!

Yes, that's right! Before his run on such titles as Alias, Sam & Twitch, Ultimate Fantastic Four/Spider-man/Marvel Team-Up, Daredevil, Powers, ("etc., etc."), Bendis was a comic book artist, rather than a writer. Fact is that the pictured issue of The Realm #4 was his last issue for Caliber before moving on to Millennium's H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu (whose first issue was #2 rather than the #3 pictured, but he didn't do the cover for the second issue). And now you know.

So before you pass over those seemingly unimportant alternate press publications sitting there lonely on the rack next to the empty spaces where books published by Marvel, DC, Image and other hot companies occupied, think again and give some of these other guys a chance for a change. You never know what future "big name" writer/artist may be lurking within those pages. For many of the people that are well-known in comic creator circles today, had their start just like Bendis. People like Dale Keown, whose artwork graced the pages of Aircel's Dragonring and Dragonforce, Eric larsen who was in Megaton Publications' comic of the same name,
Mike Baron and Steve Rude who worked for Capitol Publications, and many, many more including people such as Jim Starlin and Frank Miller whose work appeared in fan-zines! Even Mark Evanier will admit to starting out in fan-zines (or does he forget Ah-Choo!?)

And now on to other tidbits...

I read Marvel's Ultimate Fantastic Four #'s 4 thru 9, 11 & 12 over the past couple of days, and although I wasn't a big fan of the way Bendis ("speak of the devil") re-wrote "Peter Parker/Spider-man's" history in the first 12 or so issues of Ultimate Spider-man, I did in fact quite enjoy this first storyline in a re-telling of the origin of The Fantastic Four, as well as Warren Ellis's second storyline giving us a version of the FF's first battle with "Dr. Doom".

There's 4 issues in that run I don't have but--the other issues (plus the recaps of those I missed) filled in enough gaps to make these tales read smooth enough for me to keep continuity.

I fully confess that as a child of the 1950's and 60's, I don't care for change when it comes to my comic book icons. However... I will admit that, at times, it is a necessity to make characters in comic books relate to the larger buying audience, less sales falter and the title becomes discontinued. Yes. I DO miss the idea that Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben no longer took that spaceship up trying to beat the commies, and that gamma rays had no part in the creation of their powers. I miss the various villians such as The Skrulls, The Miracle Man, and Sub-Mariner, who came before Doctor Doom in the original run. I can't say that I care for the idea that Doom has metamorphed into a metal being, or the fact that now he is decended from "The Dracula Clan".

But, 'cha know....?

I've got plenty of issues of that original run (OR reprints of the same) to keep me from missing that which I can read anytime I think it's all too overboard. So my opinion? Didn't care for The Ul.Spidey, but really think the Ul.FF is pret-ty-damn-good. (I wanna read sum more of dem!) X^D

And today I found that I was that much closer to finally completing a run of Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan series. I had previously won the first 4 TPBs (which collect issues 1-24), then I won a run of 27 thru 60 save for issues 25, 26 & 31, and then I won the two specials. So when all of that comes in I'll only need those 3 issues to read the entire series! (And Warren Ellis, since you see all, darn you to heck, you outta just SEND me those 3 issues I need PLUS sign an extra one for all of my trouble of liking your work so much!

(And, finally...)
"The Price Of Gas In France": A thief in Paris planned to steal some Paintings from the Louvre. After careful planning, he got past security, Stole the paintings, and made it safely to his Van. However, he was captured only two blocks away When his van ran out of gas. When asked how he could mastermind such a crime And then make such an obvious error, he replied, 'Monsieur, that is the reason I stole the paintings.' ... I had no Monet ... to buy Degas ... to make the Van Gogh.' . Yes, I've had De Gaulle to tell this to you, and "the reason" I told it is because I figured I had nothing Toulouse.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

"Post No. 533"

As promised for today, here's a special little "Pop Quiz" for all of you comic book "authorities" out there.

Above pictured are two comics published by different independent companies in the early 1990's.

The book on the left is from 1993 by Caliber: The Realm #4.

The book on the right is from 1994 by Millenium: H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu #3.

What relevance do these two comics, published 14-15 years ago, hold for the collector today?

(First one to answer correctly gets my admiration and a E'sJ's "No Prize", and if you don't want to just make a wild guess and redicule yourself yourself in print in front of your fellow readers you can always email me your answer to:, where, if you're wrong, I'LL redicule you myself! *heh!*)

And getting right along to other stuff...

I couldn't figure out why I couldn't find a listing for that Power Records Batman I got yesterday in The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, until a friend told me to look under the Promotional Comics section. Now...correct me here if I'm wrong. I mean, maybe I'm not quite sure of the terminology, but I just don't consider that book as a promotional comic. It's something one bought off a rack and paid full cover price for, and neither a freebie comic, OR one that you had to send in a coupon to obtain. In fact, the only way I could see that being a "promotional" is if the comic came free WITH the enclosed 45 R.P.M. record? Personally I think that Overstreet simply didn't know "where" to put those Power Comic Books & Record Sets and took the easy-way-out by listing it as such. But I'm sure that for every title Power Records produced, there was a comic book title of some sorts to match it and correctly it should have been under that particular title. Geez, in Batman alone there's probably over 100 different additions to the regular series!

Finally read a few issues of Marvel's The Ultimate Fantastic Four all of which were written by either Warren Ellis or Brian Michael Bendis you know that I liked them! A bit too late for me to get into that boat unless I break down and buy issues collected in TPBs (which actually I do have the first two volumes of Spider-man and the first X-men as such). It amazed me that Bendis and Bagley did a whoppin' 110 issues together on the Ul.SP-Man! Geez! What a run!

In that last lot of modern stuff there's a couple of issues of the 2004 Marvel She-Hulk series as well, which I've yet to read but must admit that I admire the covers. Cover artwork has become much more attractive on comic books in the past 10 years or so, don't you think? Or maybe it's just because they finally moved away from the work of so many artists that seemed to have an Image house style, which is something that bored me a lot.

And, finally...

There's a clue to the above "Pop Quiz" hidden here, in this post.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

"Post No. 532"

"The MALA SHAW Story":

Yesterday I mentioned my friend, Mala Shaw, stopping by and I got to thinking that many of the people I've grown up with, especially my fellow comic book collector friends, have heard that name for years but outside of myself and just a few others, none have actually ever met him and some have even asked me what he looks like?

Since Mala was set up at the local flea market this morning I took my digital camera along and snapped this top above photo of him, standing in front of his set up of various old comics, toys, l.p.'s and "what-have-you" collectibles; tall and slim and sporting facial hair which reminds me of "Uncle Sam".

(The bottom photo is of two of the three comic items I purchased from him this morning: Journey Into Mystery w/THOR #120 (Marvel/1965), and Power Book & Record set No.PR-27: Batman/The Joker="Stacked Cards"/1975 complete w/45 RPM).

To tell Mala's story one would have to begin around 70 years ago when he was born right here in Horse Cave, KY. (80 miles South of Louisville and 100 miles North of Nashville, TN.). From an early age Mala had a great love for the comic book and made many friends and fellow collector acquaitances before he moved to Louisville at age 10 (where he's since lived ).

While there as a kid, he continued to buy tons of comic books and had at one time and tremendous amount of Golden and Silver Age rarities including such as a GA Sub-Mariner #1 and a World's Best (Finest) #1, lots of early Barks Uncle Scrooges, Classic Illustrateds and so much more, until hard times hit him in the late 1960's and he was forced to sell his personal collections.

These comics were purchased at a pitance by a local collector (who is a well-known "duck" artist around 1970, who shall remain nameless but I think everyone knows who that is), and for some time Mala got out of the comic book scene. But we all know how that goes. Once collecting and selling comics are in your blood it never goes away, and it wasn't long until he began collecting and dealing with them again.

I personally first heard of Mala in 1970 by the said purchaser of this collection shortly before he actually had a "special day" at his house celebrating the obtaining of these magnificent books and invited many collectors he knew over for a bit of a party, even naming the celebration, Mala Shaw Day. Now that same person is considering either selling or donating these comics to a university museum, and is wanting to call this compilation, "The Mala Shaw Collection".

Although I'd heard the name for years and years, Mala being older than myself by a good 13 years, I was too young to know him when he lived here locally as a kid. No, I didn't meet him until just a while back when he came down here visiting some of his old collector cronies who told him of me, and he stopped by and introduced himself. We've been friends since then and I always find "something" among his stock that I want.

The issue of JIM w/THOR in the above pic is one I recall fondly buying a copy of off the stands in '65 when I was around 14 yrs. old. Kirby and Lee, of course, and one of those issues where Marvel used the "Pop Art Productions" on their corner logo (an experiment that I always hold akin to DC using "Go-Go Checks" on their covers). This tale happened right after several issues which storyline began with issue #116 called: "Trial of the Gods", pitting Thor against his evil half-brother, "Loki" in a contest to see which one was right in the eyes of their father, "Odin". During this contest, Thor breaks a piece off of his magic hammer and takes it then to the steel mills of Pittsburgh, PA. to reweld the piece. It also has a cameo of the second (3rd.?) "Avengers" line-up (the one that began in Avengers V1 #16) and "The Absorbing Man". (The back-up "Tales of Asguard" strip deals with Odin going off on a quest in his magic ship.) All Kirby artwork, and all beautiful!

The Batman Book/Record Set from the mid-1970's has Neal Adams artwork. It would have been neat had they used the voices of Adam West and Burt Ward on that 45 RPM, but it doesn't really sound like either of them. Probably just some studio people, or maybe even those they used on the various animated shows of that time.

The third comic I got today (NOT pictured) was a copy of Batman The Long Halloween #2 (DC/1997), written by Jeph Loeb and artwork by Tim Sale, with Bats fighting "Solomon Grundy".


Friday, August 08, 2008

Post No. 531"

Read a couple of issues of DC's Takion (#'s 5 & 6) from the late 1990's last night. An interesting enough primise attempting to create something new in the Kirby 4th. World when that seems like "holy ground not to be touched" by many writers and I'm sure took some guts to attempt.

#5 gave a review of the origins of "Mr. Miracle" and "Orion" and told how "The High Father" and "Darkseid" traded their sons at birth to keep peace between their two nations. Plus how after Orion killed Darkseid, he resurrected and that was the cause for The High father to create Takion to help pursue their conflict.

But even though it was interesting, still it was rather bland even for a book that was published as late as it was in the last century by DC, and I can certainly see why I never found much interest in it. :^\

The Winter Men (#'s 1-3 & 5) was very good. One of the best of the Wildstorm titles I'd read, all dealing with how the U.S.S.R. had created their own race of super-humans during the "cold war era", and how those people interact with society today in the face of the new Russia. The storyline revolved mostly around the rescue of a young girl, which leads the central character to go to the U.S. and join the Russian mafia undercover tracing leads to her whereabouts, and exactly why certain villians wanted her in the first place. Although there was supposed to be eight issues in this series, only five were produced and the story had been planned to be tied up in a special of sorts that has yet to materialize. But the first five issues read pretty complete and the dialogue is realistic. X^D
Getting right along into some personal thoughts here...

My mother is improving every day even though she's still stuck in the local nursing hom. Still, I know that there she's at least getting the best of care and eating three meals a day and has medical service. Her arm, which she couldn't use at all a couple of weeks ago, is tremendously better. Today she remarked that she could finally touch her face, which just the act of lifting it a short time back was impossible for her to achieve, and she's able to use her fingers a bit on that hand as well. The physical therapy seems to be helping quite a bit and they've even got her up and trying to get some strength back into her legs again, and she's eating most of her meals at the dinning room rather than in bed. She's not "too" bored from lack of company as she's had many friends and family come for visits, and everyone there that's on the staff seems very nice and capable of their various jobs.

After working several days straight I have the next three days off from work, and thus far I've done one job around here my wife asked of me, which was to either move or just eliminate the two scrubs that were next to our large window in the front of the house. I started on this around 11:A.M., and was amazed that I finished up just a little after noon considering what that involved in the process.

First, I tried to trim off the bushes some to round them, and then tried to dig them out with a grubbing hoe. This proved unsuccessful, so the next plan was to just cut them down as far to the ground as possible and see if they could be completely taken up. Using a pick I was able to pry them out by the roots in sections finally, and then I dug a couple of holes on the right side of the house and replanted/watered the larger of the root systems I saved. I raked up all the mess that was left, threw it on a tarp and hauled that to the back of the yard (where I have a brushpile) and swept the area, and voila!, I was done save for putting back up the garden implements. (The replanted roots may or may not take, but if they don't survive I'll just dig those back up again and toss them.)

And yesterday, the Amish guttering guys came to put up two sections of gutter and a drain spout on the right side of the house. I really wish these people wouldn't come when I'm not there because, honestly, my wife doesn't know anything about the best way for such things to be done, and they asked her if it made any difference which way the downspout was positioned, to which she said, naturally, "No", and they put it angeled right back towards the very area I was wanting to put new soil in where it had previously washed out. The angle the workers had it would have sent water right back into that said area, so I had to dig out some elbow pieces of downspout and redo the base to redirect that water away from that, and now I think it will be alright. I plan on filling back in that low ground with new soil and planting grass seed in that barren spot of the yard. (The cost by using the Amish workers was only half or less than a regular contracted worker, BTW.)

And today is Aug. 8th., 2008, which translates to 08-08-08, and as usual, those who play the KY. "Pick 3" lottery bought out those numbers out of superstition. Of course it won't come in, but the lottery has a field day of sales from such things and even has to cut off the seeling of such numbers for liability purposes for the payoffs. I'd have to laugh at those fools wasting their money especially if that 8-8-8 came in tomorrow!

And finally...

My old friend, Mala Shaw, came by for a visit from Louisville today to see if I wanted to buy any stock. He sold me a short box of modern stuff for $20., which actually had some decent reading material in it (as if I didn't already have enuff of dat stuff lying around), but...

Some of the highlights included a copy of the V for Vendetta limited series #1, several early issues of The Ultimate Fantastic Four, several issues of The JLA & The JSA, a Uncanny Tales from the Grave (Marvel) #6 (w/a Ditko reprint) and myriad other titles. There was around 150 books, about 35-40 of which were dups, but still I paid less than .20 for what I wanted.

And for $2. each I bought complete/nearly complete sets of the Batman Returns Movie Cards as well as The Valiant Comics Cards. I'm not a big time card collector, but I thought those pretty neat.

(Thus went a Friday.)

Monday, August 04, 2008

"Post No. 530"

"The Ramblin' Road"...

Which means just that today. This post is about nothing in particular and everything that comes across my mind of events, etc. of the past few weeks.

For the first thought, my mother is somewhat better now since her release from the hospital of a couple weeks back and currently recuperating in the local nursing home in an attempt to build back up her strength, potasium and iron levels, and get her where she can walk around again. I was there today (as I have been every day since her arrival) for a little while, helping her get her bills in order, clean clothing and other essentials of ones everyday life. Whether she'll be able to get back to work again as one of the town's librarians is uncertain due to her frail state, but she's eager to get better and out of there ASAP and return to normal routines. Most all of her friends have already been by to visit with her, and a sister who lives in Indianapolis is coming down next week for a few days.

Since I personally came back from spending a week in the hospital with her, I've been attempting to catch up on "things" around here. Last night I mowed both mom and my yard as well as using the weed eater on it. I've only had a couple of days off since then and I'm cramming as much stuff into those as possible to get everything back in order. Since my return I've actually had time to catch up on a little of my reading as well on various TPBs and comics lying around here.

I read through (finally) that copy of The World of Steve Ditko and found it pretty complete as a review of this man's volume of work since the early 1950's to the late 1990's. It's a well-recommended collection and in its pages one can see the enlightenment of the "enigma wrapped in a riddle" that is Mr. Ditko, in his various styles of artwork, the myriad characters he developed for comic book companies, and his personal understanding of Ayn Rand's professed philosophy. Blake Bell did a fine job collecting and noting this material and for those who are fans of Steve Ditko (as I have always been) I believe you'd enjoy it.

And speaking of Ditko, I read a few issues of his Speedball title he did for Marvel in the late 1980's. Looking back over that I find it not one of his best works. I mean, Speedball was always one of the lesser of the Marvel cast and to me, just an attempt by Ditko to try to create yet another teenage superhero which was doomed from the start to never obtain the popularity of his most famous in Peter Parker/Spider-man. Even so, he's sort of a fun hero and not the worst thing Ditko ever did. In fact, the artwork, while not equal to that he did for Marvel or Charlton, or even DC that preceeded the title, still was better than 75% of what was on the spinner racks back then.

I also read a few issues of the Wildstorm title, Planetary, written by Warren Ellis, and thought the various spin-offs/tributes (what have you) were great! Although this is sort of one of those books where the author attempts to re-write some classic, iconic, comic book characters in his own image, one tends to forget that just because it's written so well. I definately want to read more of these!

Titles I still haven't had time to read yet is a run of DC's Hawkman (2002 series) #'s 40 thru 49/Hawkgirl #'s 50 thru 59, a near full set of Wildstorm's The Winter Men, but these will be the next ones in the stack. Just depends on how much time I have to be able to sit down and enjoy them as I want to rather than being pushed to get to bed early because I still have several days before I get a couple more off from work.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

"Post No. 529"

Digging back into the vast wasteland that I call "my mind", I keep thinking about some of the earliest comic books I ever paid attention to, and more than often, it's always some DC title.
For instance, the above pictured issue of Batman #125 cover dated June, 1959. That means this book was on the stands sometime around April of that year, and it also means that I wasn't even 8 years old yet; an event that would not happen for another 3 months.

My father, I recall, took me down to the local barbershop, more than likely on a Saturday, to get my ritual "burr" (what is commonly called today a buzz cut); a burr haircut wasn't really any sort of fad thing. Most kids my age had them, or the "flat-top"(which was only slightly longer) back then, and it was more of a financial habit of my folks just to save money on cutting my hair so often.

And in this typical 1950's small town barbershop, there was this black shoeshine man, probably in his mid to late 20's (whose name I've been told before but at this moment escapes me). He had this shoeshine stand that sat up a couple of steps from the floor; a wooden chair where patrions (whites only, as was the "norm" in those times) would sit as it put a spit shine of brilliance of their leather footwear.

And on that one day as I sat there covered from the neck down with the white and pin-stripped sheet, gazing at girley calendars on the walls and inhaling the scents of talcum and tonics, I looked at that shoe-shine man taking a break between customers, sitting in his stand, and reading the beforementioned copy of Batman.

It must have been a pretty new issue as my brother bought a LOT of that title back then, but this was one I never saw! Oh, how I craved to read the story of how Batman became a king on another planet, and wondered "how" he got out of this one, seeing his secret identity had been exposed?!?

Well...I never got a copy of that book. In fact, I don't think I've ever had a copy of it over the years, but remember reading the stories it contained somewhere reprinted in either "80 Page Giants" or "Annuals". Too...I've often wondered whatever happened to that shoe-shine man? Did he grow old and die here in this small town? Did he have kids I went to school with? It's "a thing" I want to further research.

Now...the Action Comics #309 (cover dated February, 1964) was a comic book I saw on a spinner rack in Munfordville, KY. (about 12 miles from where I currently live) in The Clark's Drugstore. I had ridden with my mom up there for some unknown reason save that I just wanted to go, and she gave me twelve cents to buy a comic book to escape the boredom of having to wait for her. I looked through the books on the rack and there in front of me was a dream issue (and I don't mean an imaginary tale, but one I just HAD to have) featuring not just Superman, but all of my other Superman family favorites as well.

In fact, according to The Grand Comics Data Base, that issue contained app.'s by ALL of the following characters:

Saturn Girl; Bouncing Boy; Element Lad; Chameleon Boy; Sun Boy; Invisible Kid; Colossal Boy; Lightning Lass; Shrinking Violet (all as the Legion of Super-Heroes); Superman; Lois Lane; Lana Lang; Perry White; Jimmy Olsen; Batman; Robin [Dick Grayson]; Pete Ross; Lori Lemaris; Police Chief Parker; Krypto; Comet the Super-Horse; Streaky the Super-Cat; Super-Monkey; The "Look-Alike" Squad of Kandor; The Jimmy Olsen Fan Club; Martha Kent (statue); Jonathan Kent (statue); Bizarro (statue); Bizarro-Boy (statue); Lex Luthor; Superboy (flashback); Gold Kryptonite; President John F. Kennedy

That's right! Even President John F. Kennedy! This issue just got on the stands a few scant days before the tragic assasination of November 22nd., 1963. It was JFK who disguised himself as "Clark Kent" to help protect Supe's secred I.D., with the thought that, "If you can't trust the president, who can you trust?"

Plus it had "The Legion of Superheroes", "Bizarro" cameos (of a sort), "The Legion of Super Pets", and much more than any Supes' fan of that time period to ever hope for! I bought it in a heartbeat!

A side note to that tale...On the rack at that same time was Marvel's Daredevil #1, which I passed on for the Supes! (And yes, I bought that one the following week!)

And lastly here today...I was going to review that Ditko book, but my good old pal, David Jones (ala "Johnny Bacardi" did a GREAT review of the same just today! (So go and read that puppy!)

Friday, August 01, 2008

"Post No. 528"

REVIEWING: Mouse Guard 1152, by David peterson, 2007 hardcover, Approx. 190 pages, collecting the 2005 "Mouse Guard" series. Archaia Press, $24.95

This is one beautiful package! It's a book that can be enjoyed by one of every age, and, in truth, Peterson has created a mythology that in time could progress to the status of a classic such as the Wind In The Willows, or the various tales of Beatrix Potter.

Set in the mid 1100's, this tells about how mice, IF they had the reasoning abilities of humans, would live and survive in a world where all else is a giant. There they create a guard which protects the mice villages, transports supplies back and forth between those, and perform the various occupations which is necessary for maintaining a civilized community.

In this first collection the story revolves around locating a traitor amoung The Guard with delusions of grandeur, wishing to take over all of mousedom who has taken the name of one of their most legendary heroes, "The Black Axe" (a warrior who trained the original Guard).

The main characters in this are "Kenzie", "Saxon" and "Liean", members of The Guard. These three attempt to locate a merchant which has disapeared along the road to the villiage, only to encounter batles with snakes and crabs (the size of behemoths, to them), and eventually they run into the real "Black Axe" who joins their quest to rid them of the "imposter traitor". They do so after a great battle, but as usual, not with a great price.

It's a finely crafted tale and should be a must read for anyone who enjoys a good fantasy adventure. I couldn't recommend it any higher. X^D

(Coming Soon...a review of Blake Bell's The World of Steve Ditko.)