Monday, May 17, 2010

Monday Night Murals: There Were Giants in Those Covers

You want a big mural? I'll give you a big mural! Better run out and buy yourself a bigger monitor...or smaller eyes, or a binoculars you can look down the wrong end, or somethin', because Behold! The Millennium Giants!

Millennium Giants

  1. Aquaman #43, art by Jim Calafiore, Mark McKenna, and Patrick Martin
  2. Superman: Man of Steel #78, art by Jon Bogdanove, Dennis Janke, and Patrick Martin
  3. Challengers of the Unknown #15, art by John Paul Leon, Shawn Martinbrough, and Patrick Martin
  4. Teen Titans #19, art by Dan Jurgens, Phil Jimenez, and Patrick Martin
  5. Superman #134, art by Ron Frenz, Joe Rubinstein, and Patrick Martin
  6. Supergirl #20, art by Leonard Kirk, José Marzan, Jr., and Patrick Martin
  7. Steel #50, art by Denys Cowan, Tom Palmer, and Patrick Martin
  8. Adventures of Superman #557, art by Tom Grummett, Denis Rodier, and Patrick Martin
  9. Action Comics #744, art by Stuart Immonen, José Marzan, Jr., and Patrick Martin

(Click picture to Bibbo-size)

In the Superman Family books cover dated April and May 1998, Big Red's (and Big Blue's) nemeses were the Millennium Giants, three big-ass dudes from the Constellation Enormous-7 who came to Earth searching for humanity's biggest cereal. Luckily, we were well-prepared for them:

No, actually, that's not what really happened. Truth is, this was almost exactly the month I dropped getting the Superman titles so all I know is that some big guys came, saw, and got their asses whupped by Supes and Company. If you know, let me know, but let's face it: it's the only DC Universe Event that doesn't have its own page on Wikipedia. I fully expect any moment now to have this page quoted as a primary source.

This is, as you can see, also the era of Electric Superman-Red and Electric Superman-Blue, or, as I like to call them, "the Superman that makes you go what the heck when you're re-reading Grant Morrison's run on JLA." Need more info?...look, it's a complicated story involving Clark taking a bubble bath and Lois accidentally dropping her hair dryer in the bathrub, it isn't important now. What does matter is that it led to two, two two Supes in one! Luckily for DC, no clones were involved and the storyline was over in a few months, not the seventeen years it took to wrap-up a similar story at Marvel.

But, it doesn't matter. I just like the mural: there's something awesomely Kirby-esque about the designs of the giants, the unusual assortment of heroes helping the Super-Squad: Aquaman! (Shouldn't he be fighting in one if the comics on the bottom, under the sea, calling his finny friends to his aid?) Teen Titans! (The crappy ones. No Robin, no Beast Boy, not a single Starfire to be seen.) Challengers of the Unknown! (Except, since we know they're fighting the Millennium Giants, shouldn't they be Challengers of the Known?) And, Shaquille O'Neill!

My favorite part of these interconnecting covers? It's something I never noticed until tonight when I pasted them all together with my little glue pot: you can actually follow the flight paths of the two Supermen! See them zip up from Action to Aquaman, from Steel to Challengers, never once bumping into each other. Now that's precision flying! And, like on this Electric Superman mural, the two super-paths form two giant "S" shields (although you'd have to be inside the comic book to see Blue's that way). Mind you, if I'd designed the cover, I woulda put Supes-Blue flying from top to bottom, but hey, I don't actually know why I'm not working for DC Comics. (Seriously, Mister didio? Call me. I've got a doozy of a Jimmy Olsen pitch to give you.)

That the cover works so well despite the large assortment of pencillers and inkers is thanks to Ron Frenz, who should actually get credit above all the creators I listed below the picture, but I wanted to save his name for a surprise down here. The whole mural is based on Ron's design, followed by each book's cover artist so that each piece of the puzzle falls perfectly into place. It also helps that one man, Patrick Martin, colored every cover, keeping each piece in sync with the others despite different artists. Nice job, Patrick! I suppose it would be trés gauche of me to point out this coloring match-up boo-boo, huh?:

Millennium Giants

Whoops! Superman-Red is burning a little blue at the tips there. Well, let's just chalk that up to a diet of Ma Kent's homemade baked beans and whistle innocently as we look away, because heck, this is a nice piece of mural art. I don't think the Millennium Giants have been back since, but even if they did, DC'd be hard-pressed to give them a better showcase than these nine covers.

Oh! And also, John Constantine helped fight them. I knew I was forgetting someone.


Phillip said...

Chris Sims, Kevin Church, now you? Who doesn't have a Jimmy Olsen pitch?? I can't be rooting for all you guys, so you're gonna hafta split it up, Spidey brain-trust style. I'd but that three times a month, for sure.

Anonymous said...

Taking recommendations for murals? Have you seen the Atlas/Avengers triptych by Ramos? Rich with humor potential . . . .

Bully said...

I have seen it, Hooper, and it's a great one! I'll be getting to it someday, but not immediately.

Unknown said...

Wow! That has to be the best mural yet. And each of the covers was by different pencillers and inkers?!? Sure, you can see it when you zoom in but in the smaller image they all look very similar.

Keep up the great work, Bully.

Tegan O'Neil said...

Wait, Constantine sneaked in here too? I read a large part of the thing but I must have mercifully blocked that part out.

Also, it's sad that the 17 year crack really wasn't a joke at all, since they're just NOW getting around to dealing with some loose ends from the storyline - back by popular demand, I guess, if you have an idiosyncratic definition of "popular demand."