Sunday, August 31, 2014

Ten of a Kind: It wasn't a rock

Hey, why is it that any time cartoonists and comic book artists draw live lobsters, they still color ‘em red, instead of green? (They don’t turn red until you boil ‘em so you can eat their delicious, delicious flesh.) And interestingly enough (if’n you’re into that thing), somebody at Western Comics/Gold Key musta noticed, because when they eventually reprinted that Moby Duck comic, they color-corrected the lobsters!:

The only covers in the Ten of a Kind above that don’t actually violate this rule are 2000 AD (which is in black-and-white), Archie (which doesn’t show a lobster) and Marvel’s Fallen Angels, which shows two lobsters: one green and one blue. The green lobster is Bill the Cyborg Lobster

Pages from Fallen Angels #8 (November 1987), script by Jo Duffy, pencils by Joe Staton, inks my Tony DeZuniga, colors by Petra Scotese, letters by Bill Oakley
(Click picture to LobsterFest-size)

…and the blue one is Don the Mutant Lobster, who I think really oughta be on the teaching staff at the Jean Grey Academy. Marvel Comics: unfair to 1980s miniseries lobsters! Still, we can thrill to the fact that they were considered worthy of an entry in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe! Now that's comic book validation!

from Marvel Pets Handbook one-shot (August 2009), art by Kerry Gammill
(Click picture to 1989-Deluxe-Edition-size)

(More Ten of a Kind here.)

Batman's Great Escapes Month, Day 31: Batman says goodbye

Panels from Batman: The Dark Knight (November 2011 New 52 series) #17 (April 2013), script by Gregg Hurwitz, pencils and inks by Ethan Van Sciver, colors by Hi-Fi, letters by Dezi Sienty

Special End-of-the-Month Bonus Links!: Check out these riffs on Batman's Great Escapes by the titanic Ty Templeton and the devilish David "Dumbing of Age" Willis!

But sadly, this feature now has to disappear into the dark (k)night. What's in store for September, you ask? Could it be a month full of...Professor X's Shiny Bald Head?!?*


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Today in Comics History: Choose Your Own Ad-venger

The date: August 30! The year: 1992! And you have your choice of two possible earths: the one where the world blew up and killed everybody...

Panel from Avengers (1963 series) #355 (Late October 1992), script by Bob Harras, pencils by Steve Epting, inks by Tom Palmer, colors by Tom Palmer, letters by Bill Oakley

...or you could pick the one with the newfangled version of Avengers Mansion, the one that looks like the Contemporary Hotel at Walt Disney World!

Yep, the 1990s Avengers Mansion: the architecture that makes today's Avengers Tower look like a masterpiece of Frank Lloyd Gehry artisanship. And it's the reality where all the Avengers wore leather jackets.

Uh...I think I'll take the global apocalypse, please.

Psylocke Psaturday: The X-Position Agenda

Psylocke's next appearance is in 1990's annual, and hoo boy, is is eminently skippable.

Panels from "The Fundamental Thing" in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 (1990), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Mark Heike, inks by Geof Isherwood, colors by Nelson Yomtov, letters by Michael Heisler

This is the period when the X-Men have been dispersed and scattered in groups around the world, so every few issues follows another X-Man or three. Wolverine, Jubilee, and Psylocke are working their way across Asia, but they can't escape that year's X-Men/New Mutants/X-Factor/Fantastic Four Annual crossover "Days of Future Present," which, despite riffing on the title of one of the greatest X-Men stories and one of the greatest X-Men movies is...can I say it? It's not very good.. Most of the four issues involve the adult Franklin Richards, possibly from the future, who the heck knows?...skipping around and cameo-crashing in everybody's annual. Why is it I love the kid Franklin Richards and loathe the adult one? Ah, if o0nly he had crossed over into the 1990 Punisher Annual.

Wolvie, Jubie, and Psychie don't even appear in the lead story of X-Men Annual #14 (which, to be fair, has some fairly lovely Art Adams artwork whose continuity is marred by an uneven roulette wheel of assorted inkers) but in a back-up which serves a duel purpose of slightly tying into the main story and Wolverine recounting the history of the X-Men, both the Original Fab Five and the All-New, All-Different, in extremely text-heavy, caption box-crowded flashback panels:

(Never mind that the same recap concept had been done much, much better in UXM #138):

Panel from "You Must Remember This" in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 (1990); script by Chris Claremont; pencils by Art Adams; inks by Dan Green, Bob Wiacek, Al Milgrom, Art Thibert, and/or Steve Mancuse; colors by Brad Vancata, letters by Tom Orzechowski

Wolvie doesn't even stop telling the tale to the skeptical Jubilee and the vaguely disinterested Psylocke when Franklin Richards and Rachel "I'm the Phoenix With the Spikes on Her Costume" Summers visit Wolverine to remind him to tie this story into the Annual's main plot.

Special guest appearance by Baby Cable oh geez just kill me now

Oh, and Jubilee and Phoenix have a catfight. Jubilee versus Phoenix. Let's just think about that for a while. Which one of those combatants do you think is more likely to wind up in a pile of flash-fried ashes?

So there ya go: X-Men Annual #14. It had Pyslocke in it but not very much. In fact, there was more real estate taken up by word balloons than by Ms. Betsy Braddock. Oh, and collector/fanboys? First appearance of Gambit.

Panel from "You Must Remember This" in Uncanny X-Men Annual #14 (1990); script by Chris Claremont; pencils by Art Adams; inks by Dan Green, Bob Wiacek, Al Milgrom, Art Thibert, and/or Steve Mancuse; colors by Brad Vancata, letters by Tom Orzechowski

So be sure that you bag and board this turkey, folks!

Batman's Great Escapes Month, Day 30: Nobody expects Batman not being a jerk

Panels from Detective Comics #871 (January 2011), script by Scott Snyder, pencils and inks by Jock, colors by David Baron, letters by Jared K. Fletcher

Friday, August 29, 2014

Name Those Kirby Eyes: Behold, The Answers!

Here's the answers to last night's Name Those Kirby Eyes pop quiz!

1. The Falcon (from Captain America #200)

2. Mister Machine/Machine Man (from 2001 #10)

3. Professor X (from X-Men #1)

4. Silver Surfer (from The Silver Surfer 1978 graphic novel)

5. Captain America (from Captain America Annual #4)

6. Galactus (from The Silver Surfer 1978 graphic novel)

7. Zuras (from The Eternals #10)

8. Granny Goodness (from Mister Miracle #18)

9. Sultin the Lion Man (from Kamandi #8)

10. The High Evolutionary (from Thor #134)

11. Morgan Edge (from Jimmy Olsen #133)

12. Kobra (from Kobra #1)

13. Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic (from Fantastic Four #76)

14. Odin (from Thor #172)

15. Tana Nile (from Thor #130)

16. The Recorder (from Thor #161)

17. Black Panther (from Black Panther #12)

18. Destroyer Duck (from Destroyer Duck #1)

19. Dave Bowman (from the 2001 tabloid special)

20. Fin Fang Foom (from Strange Tales #89)

How many did you get right?

Today in Comics History: The ghost of Tim Caldwell is disappointed that a visit to his graveside has turned into a soap opera

Panels from Swamp Thing (1985 series series) #41 (October 1985), script by Alan Moore, pencils by Stephen R. Bissette, inks by Alfredo Alcala, colors by Tatjana Wood, letters by John Costanza

Batman's Great Escapes Month, Day 29: Next panel: Batman disappears

Panels from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #125 (January 2000), script by Greg Rucka, pencils by Rick Burchett, inks by James Hodgkins, colors by Klaus Janson, color separations by Wildstorm FX, letters by Willie Schubert

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jack! (Name Those Kirby Eyes!)

In every country of the free world (and a few on Apokolips), we celebrate today Jack Kirby's Birthday! Happy birthday, King! Please read some Kirby Komics today! Yes, even Silver Star counts!

One of Kirby's most powerful visual techniques is the EXTREME! CLOSE! UP! which zooms directly into the face of the featured character so that virtually all you see are the eyes! everybody loves Jack Kirby Eyes! Except if it's Superman, in which case it Al Plastino Eyes! Which is not as exciting at all.

I'd love to see an entire Kirby comic book illustrated using this technique.

But! How well do you know your Kirby Eyes? That's not a rhetorical question, incidentally. Below are twenty close-up panels rack-focusing right into the powerful pupils and iridescent irises of twenty different Kirby characters. Can you identify them all? (I've deleted all text in the word balloons and captions to avoid giving away clues through dialogue, and also just to be a stinker.) Press the button that says "Click Here to Read More!" right below this paragraph and get ready to have your brain puzzled. Some are easy, some are more challenging, and none of them are as easy as the three above! (Leave your answers in the comments.) On your mark...get set...wait, hold on while I get some nachos...okay, go! Name Those Kirby Eyes! (Please: no cheating by consulting the Encyclopedia Kirbyana.)

Among the many, many reasons I love Jack Kirby:

...three-quarter views of Ben Grimm laughing.

Panel from Fantastic Four #68 (November 1967), co-plot and script by Stan Lee, co-plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Sinnott, letters by Artie Simek

Happy Birthday, Jack!

Today in Comics History: The Tubes begin recording their new album

Panel from Swamp Thing (1985 series series) #41 (October 1985), script by Alan Moore, pencils by Stephen R. Bissette, inks by Alfredo Alcala, colors by Tatjana Wood, letters by John Costanza