Panel from Fantastic Four #375 (April 1993), co-plot and script by Tom DeFalco , co-plot and pencils by Paul Ryan, inks by Danny Bulanadi, colors by Gina Going, letters by Jack Morelli and Rick Parker
(Click picture to Ace bandage-size)
Panels from Thing: Freakshow #1 (August 2002), script by Geoff Johns, pencils by Scott Kolins, inks by Andy Lanning, colors by David Self, letters by Randy Gentile
Click picture to Butterball-size. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
The FF become a quartet of jive turkeys (literally!) in this panel from Franklin Richards: Happy Franksgiving one-shot (January 2007), script by Marc Sumerak, pencils, inks, and letters by Chris Eliopoulos, colors by Brad Anderson
It's Tuesday night, and you know what that means...everyone in America is watching the new smash hit TV thriller, V, in which a British freedom fighter rallies against the tyrannical rule of British lizard people in the shape of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Tonight's special guest: Amy Winehouse! Is she human...or lizard...or both? [SPOILER ALERT: Lizard.] For the rest of you, however, there's Tuesday Nighty Tighty-Whities, the incisive and all-encompassing survey of superheroes in their underwear!
Tonight: he's seven-foot-five, five hundred pounds of solid Soviet stainless steel...the Moscovite mutant we all call...um...(glancing at my copy of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe Deluxe Edition #3)...Colossus! And as you can see here, the Communist Crusher couldn't get enough days off from Professor Xavier's Academy for the Genetically Overactive to stand in line at GUM to buy pajamas, so he sleeps in...you guessed it...his Fruit of the Looms!
Panels from [Uncanny] X-Men #137 (September 1980), co-plot and script by Chris Claremont, co-plot and pencils by John Byrne, inks by Terry Austin, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Tom Orzechowski. Hey, how much of a fanbull does it make me that I knew by heart and I didn't have to look up the creator credits on this ish?
Ta-da! Changing into a strongman giant made of organic steel certainly beats my morning routine, which consists of two and a half sit-ups and then a chocolate Pop-Tart for breakfast. But hey, how does Peter Rasputin keep his underwear from ripping to shreds when he changes from teenager to titanium? Well, two answers to that pressing question, actually...
Panel from Fantastic Four v.3 #63 (January 2003), script by Mark Waid, pencils by Mike Wieringo, inks by Karl Kesel, colors by Paul Mounts, letters by Richard Starkings and Albert Deschesne
Ask any fanboy who invented unstable molecules, the miracle fabric that stretches, resists burning, turns invisible and splashes back grape juice spills, and you'll hear the dead-certain answer "Reed Richards!" Which only goes to show you, you're dead wrong. (If you were a contestant on QI, you'd be Alan Davies and that big board on the back would be flashing your wrong answer while the buzzer blares away.) Mr. Fantastic didn't invent unstable molecules, he discovered thempassage through the cosmic rays on that fateful journey back in 1961 about ten years or so ago turns the FF's crew jumpsuits into that hyperactive fabric with the give and pull that allows Ben Grimm to go out in public without showing everyone his rock collection. So I betcha Colossus has undies made out of unstable molecules. We already know that lots of superheroes get their unstable costumes from Reed, but technically, they "lease" them from Fantastic Four, Inc...the technology is still too expensive, even for Reed, to mass-produce unstable swimsuits, no matter how many times Namor asks him. We do know that the X-Men Mk. II's uniforms are made of unstable molecules...remember, for example, how Storm used to transform her street clothes into her fighting costume by sending an electrical spark through it? And how Cyclops's yellow booties would turn into pirate galoshes every time that Dave Cockrum came back near the strip? It's all unstable molecules...my friend...and yours!
But that's only one answer to the sartorial conundrum of why Peter Rasputin ain't bustin' out all over when he changes into Colossus in his y-fronts. For the No-Prize, here's
The Comics Code Authority: protecting you from Peter Rasputin's area since 1954.
Hey, a letter just landed with a "you've got mail" in the Comics Oughta Be Fun! emailbox, so let's take a look. Hmmm, it's from a Miss "K. Pryde" of "Deerfield Illinois" and she asks, "can we look again at Colossus in his underwear? You know, just one last peek?"
I'll do you better than that, Ms. P, here's an all-new, all-different, all-uncannily peek at the Colossus from Earth-9112, a world where everyone looks pretty much the same but they're more Flexographically-colored...from the original version of X-Men #137 before Jim Shooter twiddled his fingers into it (and, let's face it, made it a better story):
Panels from Phoenix: The Untold Story one-shot (April 1984), words and pictures and yadda yadda yadda by the same guys I listed from memory above, okay?
Phoenix: The Untold Story was a special comic that reprinted Claremont and Byrne's original story, ending with the Jean Grey living. The art is the same as X-Men #137 until the last handful of pages, but the dialogue's substantially different throughout, as you can see here. It's an interesting alternative story, but again, I still prefer the original, even with more Claremont verbiage per square inch than the special.
So, there you have it...superheroes in their underwear, digressions into the worlds of Amy Winehouse, the Fantastic Four, and the scary, scary place that is the creative mind of Chris Claremont. Who says this isn't the Mighty Bully Age of extra content in a blog post?
Eh, never mind. I know the only real reason you stopped by here tonight: Colossus in his underwear...
Partial panel from [Uncanny] X-Men #131 (March 1980), by you know the drill by now.
Are there any three words more beloved by comic book fans than To Be Continued? (Well, maybe "Batman versus monkeys".) There's nothing quite like the thrill of a well-written cliffhanger that leaves you eagerly panting for the next month's issue, hangin' around Pop's Sodium Shop with your quarter in yoru hot little hand, bugging the soda jerks about when the new comics will be in. ("Are they in yet?" "No." "Are they in yet?" "No." Are they in yet?" "Get outta here, kid!") After all, how else will you find out whether Spider-Man will escape the fangs of the Hungry Hungry Hippo, or if Superman will manage to foil Lois's plan to crush the universe under her Jimmy Choos? Why, with a month-long wait like that...maybe they might die! (Probably not.)
My point...and I do have one...is that sometimes it's not merely the story that's to be continued but also the cover of the comic book. Welcome to the very first installment of Monday Night Murals, the new Bully-feature that spotlights, once a week, and prob'bly on Mondays (if not, then see you on Muesdays or Mhursdays), multiple comic book covers that form a single image when put together. Why, it's like a giant jigsaw puzzle, except without weird jaggedy edges, and you have to wait a month between putting down each piece!
Except for this one! I wanna start with one of my favorite mural-covers, a quartet of DC comics from 1988 tying into "Week 4" of the big Millennium crossover, the line-wide event that gave us those superstars of the DC Universe, The New Guardians! That popular supergroup defined DC for the eighties and consisted of...um...er, the Floronic Man was one of them, right?...everybody remembers the flamboyant gay guy, don't they?...and then there was...er...well, hey, the Eskimo guy with the really racist nickname! He was in it, wasn't he? And, hmm, Snapper Carr, and Alfred Pennyworth, and Rick Jones, and Tawny Kitaen.
At the time, I thought it was pretty cool that Millennium coincided with the Harmonic Convergence, but what impresses me now is a convergence of a different sort: the four-comic mural formed by the Week Four crossover between Captain Atom, Firestorm, Batman, the Suicide Squad, and the Spectre...and I think it would go something like this:
L-R: Captain Atom #11, Suicide Squad #9, Detective Comics #582, The Spectre #10, art by Jerry Bingham (January 1988)
(Click picture to millenni-size)
I've matched 'em up as best I can so that you can see all four comics have their characters approaching, ready to team up at the drop of a cowl. (Fittingly, Batman's gonna get there first.) For a few moments when I was putting them together tonight I nearly had my little stuffed brain blown by the mistaken thought that The Spectre would connect with Captain Atom, turning it into a ring of adventure! It doesn't, although I bet if Jerry Bingham thought about it, he woulda done so.
I like this DC mural not merely because it combines four different comic titles into one picture (most murals occur within a single title), but that it's the pictorial definition of the storyline: it's a crossover waiting to happen. Long after I've forgotten the plot of these books and of Millennium (and I think it may be best forgotten), I look fondly on these four covers...laid out on the floor in a row so I can gaze at 'em.
Next week: another exciting comic book mural! Which one will it be? I don't know yet! (But it'll be a cool one.) As they say in the comic books, kids...to be continued!