Saturday, January 07, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 7: The Avengers: Fightin' Mad at Walls



Panels from Avengers (1998 series) #22 (November 1999), script by Kurt Busiek, pencils by George Pérez, inks by Al Vey, colors by Tom Smith, letters by Richard Starkings

A Month of... Celebrities in Comics, Day 7: And that's the way it is

An atmospheric page featuring long-time CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite, as depicted by Gene Colan. Can you guess what series it's from before you check the credits below?


Panels from Daredevil (1964 series) #70 (November 1970), script by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Gene Colan, inks by Syd Shores, colors by Mimi Gold (?), letters by Sam Rosen

Friday, January 06, 2017

Friday Flashback: All Redheads Look Alike

I think I've figgered out how to get away with calling it a week well before the weekend: with Filling up Fridays: Fine Flashback Fosts Posts, re-presenting some of my favorite Comics Oughta Be Fun! entries that you might not have seen, or would enjoy seeing again! Anyway, because I have to go to bed early, I'm re-presenting a Bully classic originally published on June 21, 2011! (I was six then.)

All redheads look alike. It's true! Here's proof: two absolutely identical-looking photographs placed side-by-side for your confusion:


You might find it hard to believe, but these two photographs are actually of different people! That's not the same person at all, but actually Karen Gillan and Willie Nelson! Or maybe Willie Nelson and Karen Gillan. Let me keep looking at them to see if I can figure that out. Hmmmm.

The redheads of the Marvel Universe all look alike, too! Take gorgeous go-go gal Mary Jane Watson, f'r instance.


Panels from Marvel Team-Up #79 (March 1979), 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

As usual when danger's all about and...evil is in the air, smooth operator Peter Parker ducks his date and slips away to change into his long underwear instead of hanging around with his supermodel girlfriend. Are you beginning to wonder why we idolize Spider-Man? Me too.


Not content to sit on the sidelines while Peter Parker takes photographs of Godzilla versus Iron Man or whatever happens to be going on, vivacious redhead Mary Jane takes the law into her own hands and enters the mysterious haunted museum by herself. I bet the villain is going to be some caretaker wearing a rubber mask, which means that M.J. can be one of those meddling kids. Serves her right for wearing Gwen Stacy's blouse and jacket.


I bet around about now you're wondering where the all-redheads-look-alike bit comes in. Right about now, True bullievers! Hyp-mo-tized Mary Jane grabs a convenient sword from a museum case, setting off the alarms and instigating an INTERPOL worldwide search for the debonair thief of the Pink Panther Diamond. Oh, also, she changes to somebody else. Who could it be? Gold Girl? Loincloth Lass? Yellow Young Woman?


Nope! Curvaceous redhead Mary Jane Watson transforms into curvaceous redhead Red Sonja, complete with explanatory asterisk and buy-it-now box in completely different lettering! What she really needs is a caption explaining how the heck she can wear a bikini made of silver dollars, and why it doesn't jingle when she walks, and what the heck the purpose of those thigh bands are. Red Sonja: the original Rob Liefeld character.


And then Spider-Man...and this is the important part...thinks she looks like Mary Jane. Because Mary Jane often runs around in a metal bikini waving a broadsword and attacking demons. Oh wait, that's just in Peter Parker's fan fiction.


So, there you go. Mary Jane Watson = Red Sonja. It's easy enough to see how they would be confused for each other. One of them causes tigers to hit the jackpot, and the other one cuts the heads of tigers and puts them in a stewpot. Pretty darn close. Which not only means that Sonja looks like Mary Jane, but that she also looks like every other redhead in the Marvel Universe. At least to Wolverine:


Panels from What If? v.2 #16 (August 1990), script by Glenn Herdling, pencils by Gary Kwapisz, inks by Ian Akin and Brian Garvey, colors by Daniel Vozzo, letters by Janice Chiang

Wha...huh?!? What the Sam Scratch is Wolverine doing in the era of Red Sonja? Well, there's a very simple explanation. Here's the backstory:
The year is 1990, and Department H launches the last of Canada's deep space probes. In a freak mishap, Wolverine 3 and its pilot, Captain James "Logan Howlett, are blown out of their trajectory into an orbit which freezes his life support systems, and returns Wolverine to Earth, 500 years previous.
Wait, that doesn't make any sense. Eh, let's just say that The Watcher did it. Anyway, Wolverine's first thought upon seeing Red Sonja is that she's popular American humorist Jean Shepherd, but then he believes her to be Jean Grey, the Girl Who Wouldn't Stay Dead™. Well that makes sen...huh??? The only way you can explain this is that all redheads look alike! Also, for some reason, Sonja thinks Wolverine hosts a late night talk show. (That last sentence satisfies the National Comic Bloggers Association's minimum mandatory requirements for a reference of Conan O'Brien when discussing Conan the Barbarian.)


Completely by coincidence in the same story, Conan the B. is transported to Wolverine's time and place, where he immediately mistakes Jean Grey for Red Sonja! Hah! It's because all redheads look alike! His misapprehension has some slightly unfortunate consequences.


So! End of the universe, everybody! End of the universe.

Before it ends, let's take another look at some Earth-616 proof that all redheads look alike. Jean Grey, completely coincidentally and for no apparent reason at all, happens to look exactly like her own evil clone, Madelyne Pryor! What are the chances of that? Especially since Maddie Pryor is related to revolutionary comedian Richard Pryor.


Cover of Mutant X #20 (June 2000), cover art by Adam Pollina

It's a good thing that when she was first introduced, Chris Claremont Scott Summers remembered to tell us that Madelyne Pryor looked exactly like Jean Grey, since we'd never seen Paul Smith draw Jean Grey yet, and for all we knew it could be a completely different redhead. If it weren't for the fact that (sing it along with me) all redheads look alike!


Panels from Uncanny X=Men #168 (April 1983), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Paul Smith, inks by Bob Wiacek, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Tom Orzechowski

I always thought that Claremont and Company oughta have capitalized on the resemblance of Maddie to Jean up as the best practical joke Scott Summers would ever play. "Hey, everybody, look who's back!" "AIEEEEEEEEEEEE!" "Naw, jus' funnin' ya! Sucker!"



Panels from Uncanny X=Men #173 (September 1983), script by Chris Claremont, pencils by Paul Smith, inks by Bob Wiacek, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Tom Orzechowski

Of course, it was only a matter of time until Jean Grey popped back up from her grave like some redheaded toaster pastry to confront her coincidentally identical genetic clone:


Cover of X-Factor #38 (March 1989), cover art by Walt Simonson

Wow! They sneer alike, they walk alike, and in these two panels they even talk alike!


Panels from X-Factor #38 (February 1989), script by Louise Simonson, pencils by Walt Simonson, inks by Bob Wiacek, colors by Petra Scotese, letters by Joe Rosen

I've deleted the next ten panels which consist of Jean and Maddie repeating "a distorted mirror" again and again until Wolverine stabs them both through the throat. (Oh, how the X-Men and X-Factor all laughed and laughed!) Instead, here's a completely literal and not at all symbolic page in which the Giant Floating Heads of Jean Grey and Maddie Pryor face off in a battle of wits including two senior citizens, their tiny selves, and a naked girl. (Wow, I am loving these special pieces in X-Men Monopoly!)



Of course, in her first appearance, we the readers were thrown off by the miscoloring of Maddie's hair. As she was not a redhead in this cameo, we of course didn't confuse her with anyone else in the Marvel Universe at all.


Panel segment from Avengers Annual #10 (1981), script by Chris Claremont, pencils and colors by Michael Golden, inks by Armando Gil, letters by Joe Rosen

Then she got better and became a redhead, and it was like looking in Jean Grey's mirror! Well, over her shoulder so you could see Jean while you were doing so. Um, if you were angled just right so that you couldn't see yourself in the mirror but you could see Jean just fine. Or maybe even better, it was like looking in Jean Grey's mirror if you were standing next to her while she was looking in at and you are a vampire! So, to sum up, Jubilee agrees with my undeniable proof that all redheads look alike.


Panels from Uncanny X-Men #238 (Late November 1988), script by I think you can guess who by this point, pencils by Marc Silvestri, inks by Dan Green, colors by Glynis Oliver, letters by Tom Orzechowski

All of which leads us full circle. If Mary Jane Watson = Red Sonja = Jean Grey, then we can wrap it up like this:


Panels from Marvel Knights Spider-Man #13 (late November 1988), script by Reginald Hudlin, pencils by Billy Tan, inks by Jonathan Sibal, colors by Ian Hannin, letters by Cory Petit

Wolverine luvvvvvvvvs Mary Jane Watson.

But not to worry! I mean, it's not like Logan has ever, ever made a move on somebody else's girl, right?




In Wolverine's favor, really, he probably just thought he was making out with Mystique or Siryn or Juggernaut. Because all redheads look alike. Isn't that right, Rachel Summers?



365 Days of Defiance, Day 6: Assembly Required




Panels from What If? House of M one-shot (February 2009); script by Brian Reed and Jim McCann; pencils by Paolo Pantalena; inks by Allen Martinez, Victor Olazaba, Danny Miki, Scott Hanna, and Andrew Pepoy; colors Guru eFX, letters by Jeff Powell

A Month of... Celebrities in Comics, Day 6: Herbie, The Love God

Whenever those periodic questions about "who would beat whom?" come up in the superhero community, I always pick one of two possible champions: Bugs Bunny or Herbie Popnecker. They've never, ever been defeated, whether fighting Hitler or Yosemite Sam. But Herbie has a slight edge over the wabbit in at least one area. Bugs may have his attention diverted by a beautiful lady rabbit (or, indeed, a robot or witch dressed as a lady rabbit), but Herbie is the perfect asexual creature. We can only hope one day that he reproduces using mitosis.

That's why it's always surprising to see girls go gaga over the Uncanny Herbie. Why, even Jughead pretty much has only Ethel chasing after him. But it's what happens when the cruel, cruel Mr. Popnecker drags the reluctant Herbie to the movies just to see Frank and Dino. Ni, not Frank Flinstone and Dino the Dinosaur, as A Man Called Flintstone would not be released to the silver screen until 1966. Also: his name isn't Frank, no matter what Wilma says.


Panels from "Herbie, Boy 'Beetle!'" in Herbie #5 (American Comics Group, October-November 1964), script by Richard E. Hughes as Shane O'Shea, pencils and inks by Ogden Whitney, letters by Ed Hamilton

Okay, in between those panels and these next ones a whole lotta weird stuff happens (as it does in Herbie comics) involving a theatre saboteur with a big red clown nose doping up movie popcorn to make you whistle through your ears, and that's not just because of the size of a "large" popcorn being even to feed a family of four over a period of six days. No, let's just skip to Herbie trying to escape a ramaging mob by putting a mop on his head while meanwhile the "Beetles" play their hit song that has all the gals swooning in the aisles and peeing their 1960s capri pants.


Now, even though Ogden Whitney has delivered a near photo-perfect depiction of the actual Beatles, I'm not counting them as today's celebrity of the day as they are clearly a parody named "The Beetles." Over in England, Brian Epstein curses and waves his fist at American Comics Group because he cannot sue them, as they have cunningly disguised their target of tomfoolery so well by changing a vowel.


Oh, and teens come runnin' for the great taste of Herbie Popnecker.


Tracking down the Man with the Red Nose (oh yeah! I already forgot about him!) pop sensation Herbie, now calling himself Eibreh Rekcenpop, crashes (literally! look, it's right there in the sound effects) into the dressing room of Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra, who you can tell are today's guest celebrities because I've put their names in bold. I challenge the idea of Dino and Frankie sharing. a dressing room, as no one single dressing room could possibly contain Frank's mafia connections and Dean's drinks, but comics are sometimes forced to take a storytelling shortcut, so let's give it an official TV Tropes-style handwave and get on with the story.


Frank and Dean immediately snap into action and do what they do best: attacking Herbie. Ouch! That's gotta hurt...well, you know, it looks like invincible Herbie wasn't thrown off by that at all. As Robert Evans might say, the kid stays in the picture ARHGHHH (gets dragged off stage by giant hook)


Herbie has Martin and Sinatra (Marnatra?) lead him to the Man with the Red Nose (oh yeah! That guy!) but they're too intimidated to face off against him themselves. Chickens! Frank Sinatra is a big chicken! Dean Martin goes cluck-cluck-cluck-cluck! Buck buck buck buck buck! (is ushered offtage by a pair of burly goons telling me Mr. Sinatra would like to have a few words with me)


Then Herbie tosses the Man with the Red Nose (oh, don't tell me you've forgotten about him already) into a giant movie theater corn-popper, where he is then sold in giant buckets to the Alt-Right (aka Nazis) protesting Rogue One by buying tickets, entering the theater, buying popcorn, throwing away the popcorn, not going into the movie and going home. That'll show those precious snowflakes! (Precious Snowflakes Figurines™ is actually a registered copyright of Hallmark).


So all's well that ends with a guy being smothered to death in a popcorn popper, and without the moptop wig, Herbie's sexual attractiveness to the opposite sex is transferred back over to Dean and Frank, who spend the next six months in traction after being trampled by teens. Then, Herbie's dad adds yet another folder full of information to the case of Child Services v. Popnecker. Seriously, that guy is so emotionally abusive to his son, Bruce Banner's father looks up at him as a role model.


Look, Mr. Popnecker is just a jerk, that's what I'm saying.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

The Entire Silver Age in One Comics Panel


Panel from "Batman, Robot" in Detective Comics #281 (July 1960), script by Bill Finger, pencils by Sheldon Moldoff, inks by Charles Paris

365 Days of Defiance, Day 5: My Spider-Stubborness is Tingling




Panels from Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #270 (November 1985), script by Tom DeFalco, pencils by Ron Frenz, inks by Bob McLeod, colors by Bob Sharen, letters by Joe Rosen

A Month of... Celebrities in Comics, Day 5: Last Action Heroes

It's opening night at Guy Gardner's Warriors bar, and anybody who's everybody (and his brudder) is at the party, from Ambush Bug to Zatanna! Seriously, check out the guest list! And it's not only superheroes that are attending the literal bash, it's the elite of Hollywood and a trio of very tough guys themselves marvelling at how Guy defenestrated Lobo: Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone! Why, that's at least one and quarter action movie heat right there in those three guys alone!


Panels from Guy Gardner: Warrior #29 (March 1995), script by Beau Smith, pencils by Phil Jimenez, inks by John Stokes and Dan Davis, colors by Gene D'Angelo, letters by Albert DeGuzman

Today in Comics History: Ron Lim draws a building that Fabian Nicieza clearly described as invisible


Panel from Psi-Force #19 (May 1988), script by Fabian Nicieza, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Tony DeZuniga, colors by Greg Wright, letters by Rick Parker

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

If I Ran Timely Comics: Russia's greatest love machine

Hey, let's talk about Rasputin!


Splash page of The [Uncanny] X-Men #140 (December 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

No, no, not that Rasputin. Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, the infamous "Mad Monk" and trusted friend of the family of Nicholas II, last Czar of the Russian Empire! (At least until they reboot it in Russian Empire: Rebirth #1.) Rasputin was famously "unkillable," supposedly surviving several assassination attempts because of his adamantium bones and healing factor. That's why he's a perfect subject to star in his own Marvel/Timely-era comic book story! Remember how huge Rasputin got when they published this story? All the kids in the alleys and on the farms were running around yelling "I am Rasputin! You cannot kill me!" Ah, those were the days, the days of borscht and roses.


Splash panel of "The Mad Monk!" in Amazing Detective Cases #6 (Marvel/Timely, May 1951), script by Carl Wessler, pencils by Pierce Rice, inks by John Tartaglione

Of course this sets up the story for plenty of wholesome pre-code murder attempts! That darn Rasputin, he got away...again!


Naturally, it ends the way it always does: with Rasputin being shot, rolled up in a carpet, and dropped in the ice-freezing Volga River. Eh, that old cliché.


The world never saw the supposedly immortal Rasputin again.

Later in that same comic book, another story ends with death by drowning. Yes, thanks to Stan Lee's canny business sense, May 1951 was drowning month in all the Timely comic books! (See, for example, Patsy Walker #34, where Patsy attempts to get rid of an extra date, with hilarious and waterlogged consequences!)


Final panels of "Death on the River!" in Amazing Detective Cases #6 (Marvel/Timely, May 1951), pencils and inks by Jay Scott Pike

Hmmmmm, that story made me think. Hmmmmmm! Why, if I ran comics, that would give me an idea. An awesome idea. Bully got a wonderful, awesome idea!

So, cracking open the heavy plastic shell of my CGC 9.8 of Amazing Detective Cases #6 and going at the pages with scissors and glue, I've wound up with with this as the final panels of "The Mad Monk," and I think you'll all agree that it's an improvement and that I would be a natural working on the 14th floor of the Empire State Building, working alongside Stan Lee and suggesting maybe a superhero based on a spider might be a rather nifty thing to do.