Saturday, January 09, 2010

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 9

Defenders #125
Panels from The [New] Defenders #125 (November 1983), script by J. M. DeMatteis, pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Kim DeMulder, colors by Christie Scheele, letters by Janice Chiang

Saturday Morning Cartoon: "Time for Timer"

There. We've got that all out of the way. Now, let us never speak of this again.

Friday, January 08, 2010

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 8

UXM #94
Panel from Avengers #201 (November 1980), co-plot by Jim Shooter, co-plot and script by David Michelinie, pencils by George Perez, inks by Dan Green, colors by Ben Sean, letters by John Costanza

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Oh, little Genie, you got so much love

"My name is Bully the Little Stuffed Bull. I was climbing up on the cupboards to get some delicious, yummy cookies, and I fell off and had an accident, and I woke up in 1973. Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time? Whatever's happened, it's like I've landed on a different planet. Now, maybe if I can work out the reason, I can get home."

And I would have a nifty cool '70s theme song, like this!:

TTA #8Oh! Oh! On second thought, that makes me think: rather than traveling back in time from a bonk-bonk on the head, I would rather have a genie. Then I could rub the lamp (with only the best of fine brass polishes, of course!) and make all sortsa wishes! And, the first thing I'd wish for would be a copy of Tales to Astonish #8! "But why," (you're asking me) "Why Santy Claus? Why? Why are you taking our tree?" And that's a very good question if you happen to be Cindy-Lou Who. The rest of you are no doubt asking me "Why do you want a copy of Tales to Astonish #8? And that's another very good question.

Well, not only does TTA #8 feature the astonishing, mind-blowing tale of "The Floating Head"...

The Floating Head

...but also one of the great Jack Kirby-pencilled, Steve Ditko-inked mystery/monster/morality plays with O. Henry-flavored endings of the sort you would always get in Tales to Astonish and other Marvel monster and horror mags like Tales of Suspense and Tales of Bewilderment and Tales of Mild Consternation and Tales of Itchiness: A story entitled—and yes, dashes are included at no extra price—"I — AM — THE — GENIE!". Which me and my genie would probably enjoy reading together, I betcha, and I would wish for some Fritos corn chips and horseradish-bacon dip and a two-liter container of Tahiatian Treat and we'd sit down and read "I — AM — THE — GENIE!"

Panels from "I — AM — THE — GENIE!" in Tales to Astonish #8 (March 1960), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Steve Ditko

Our thrilling tale opens in a perfectly ordinary high-security prison, where Freddie Sykes, your everyday jailbird, relaxes by reading fairy tales and fables. No, your guess is wrong—he's not the young Bill WiIlingham, and this is not the secret origin of Ironwood. Not that I know what that joke means.


So, when he finally makes his parole (no doubt displaying his impressive knowledge of Grimm and Perrault as a plus to outside society), he ain't gonna get a job mopping up the bathrooms at the bus station, oh no no no no no. Instead, he does what so many ex-cons do after getting out of the Big House: he goes on a world-wide archeological quest to investigate, survey, and excavate a genie's lamp! (Wow, this guy's good.)


So naturally, of course, his first wish is for something eminently practical, right? Something useful, like a good working salary, or a nice new suit, or perhaps tickets to see Charlie Daniels down at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds, August 20-29, right? Well, what do you think?


Suddenly! With no regard for the Comics Code Authority or the ability of the parents of Indigo Children to see naughty words in the skies or suggestive symbols on the cases of Disney animated cartoons, the Genie conjures up a freakin' solid gold castle. Now that was his first mistake. Because if it was me, I'd be asking for a solid chocolate castle.


That oughta make anybody happy, huh? Once you got the solid gold castle, that's when fabulous leggy supermodels come rushing your way. So there's no need to ask the Genie for more wishes, you think? Oh, boy, have you got another think comin'!


I think you might be able to spot where this harmless little tale of archaeology and Middle Eastern mythology suddenly took a dark turn:


After wishing for such ultra-practical things as a winged horse and a Nixon victory in '68, Crookie decides it would be fun to make most of the world think the Rapture has arrived by turning the sky pitch black. Well, see, there's your problem. I can have that if I want. It's called "night."


Little know facts about The Silver Age of Comics #219: On his original art, Jack Kirby wrote a note to Steve Ditko in the margins by this panel: "Better buy more ink, Steve...the whole rest of the comic book is completely black panels! Haw! I'm Kirby!" To which to Ditko is known to have responded "Every form has its own meaning. Every man creates his meaning and form and goal. Why is it so important—what others have done? Why does it become sacred by the mere fact of not being your own? Why is anyone and everyone right—so long as it's not yourself? Why does the number of those others take the place of truth? Why is truth made a mere matter of arithmetic--and only of addition at that? Why is everything twisted out of all sense to fit everything else? There must be some reason. I don't know. I've never known it. I'd like to understand."


Right about now the Hubris Express is rollin' into the station, and when Mister Jailbird explains his next plot to the Genie, take just a moment to consider the horrifying consequences when it is granted! The universe as we know it will be destroyed! Life on all planets will perish! The Guns of Navarone will never be made!


POOF! At the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty "Heigh-ho, Genie!" the dirty deed is done! (And pretty inexpensively, too.) Now mankind must cower before the terror of an Evil Genie in his tiny yellow briefs! AIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEE!


Ah hah! The tiny yellow briefs are on the other butt now, mister!


And around that point, Superman and the Green Lanterns rush in the laws of mythology exert their ugly but fair price and slurp Joe Ex-Con into a smelly bottle-prison! No phone! No lights! No motorcars! Not even the soft cushions that Jeannie used to recline on when she was miffed at Major Tony Nelson, and certainly without any cable television. In the words of the Scourge: justice is served!


And so the Genie makes his way out into the world, leaving behind Doll-Man in His Undies for the next unlucky victim to find. Later, that Genie shaved his goatee, got crippled in a mine collapse, and opened a school for gifted children in Salem Center, New York. And now you know...the rest of the story!


And then, years later, Disney bought Marvel so they couldn't be sued for completely ripping off the ending from the comic book.

Oh, and by the'd they ever get rid of that Giant Floating Head?


Oh good, that's all taken care of, then.

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 7

UXM #94
Panels from [Uncanny] X-Men #94 (August 1975), plot by Len Wein, dialogue by Chris Claremont, pencils by Dave Cockrum, inks by Bob McLeod, colors by Phil Rachelson, letters by Tom Orzechowski

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Everything's Connected

Everything's connected:

Everything's connected.
Panel from the "Man-Thing" story in Marvel Comics Presents #3 (Late September 1988), script by Steve Gerber, pencils and inks by Tom Sutton, colors by Petra Scotese, letters by Agustin Mas

(Can't read the small print? Just click any picture to conspiracy-theory-size it!)

It's connected in the DC Universe:

Everything's connected.

It's connected in today's Marvel Universe:

Everything's connected.

This thing goes right up to the highest levels!:

Everything's connected.

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 6

Avengers #181
Panel from Avengers #181 (March 1979), script by David Michelinie, breakdowns by John Byrne, finishes and inks by Gene Day, colors by Françoise Mouly, letters by Elaine Heinl

(Click picture to superball-size)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Hey, J. Jonah Jameson!

...What is that TV show Seinfeld all about, anyway?

UXM #346
UXM #346
UXM #346
UXM #346
Panels from Uncanny X-Men #346 (August 1997), script by Scott Lobdell, pencils by Joe Madureira and Humberto Ramos, inks by Tim Townsend, colors by Steve Buccellato, letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 5

Avengers #137
Panel from The Avengers #178 (December 1978), script by Steve Gerber, breakdowns by Carmine Infantino, finishes and inks by Rudy Nebres, colors by Nel Yomtov, letters by Joe Rosen

Monday, January 04, 2010

Monday Night Murals: You sound like you have changed from red to blue

It's Monday, so you know what that means...a brand-new season of Antiques Roadshow! Tonight, a little stuffed bull brings in a priceless Ming vase to be valued, and



Okay, let's do Monday Night Murals instead.

Action Comics #742/Superman: The Man of Steel #77

L: Action Comics #742 (March 1998), art by Stuart Immonen, Jose Marzan Jr., and Patrick Martin
R: Superman: The Man of Steel #77 (March 1998), art by Jon Bogdanove, Dennis Janke, and Patrick Martin
(Click picture to big red- or big blue-size)

No, you're not seeing double (unless you've been drinking steadily since five PM)—those are two Supermen (Supermans?) flying through the Metropolis sky. Now, many comic book cover murals across a single title or across titles featuring a single hero are saddled with the problem: how can you feature the same lead character on every part of an interlocking mural cover? Well, you could put his head on one cover and his butt on the other (tee hee), or, as in the are of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Deluxe Edition, have Reed Richards' arm stretch across the back and front covers of every volume from M to W. Or, you could just have two versions of your hero, hopefully dramatically color-coded so that you can have, um, just off the top of my little stuffed head: a Green Hulk on one cover and a Red Hulk on the other. But that would be just plain silly.

Superman #162No, this pair o' 1998 covers is a homage to and updating of the classic "Superman Red/Superman Blue" story of 1963 (in Supes #162). The Man o' Steel splits into two, two, two pretty-nearly-identical persons, the same down to every aspect except dress code. You'd logically think they would wind up having a all-out no-punches-pulled battle in a junkyard, but heck no!: This is silver age Supes. Er, Supeses. The pair team up (gosh, that would have been the weirdest issue of DC Comics Presents of them all) to fight war, end crime, stop poverty, get Jack Parr back on the air, and, while they're at it, each one of them marries one of Superman's sweethearts, ending the age-old love battle between Betty and Veronica Lois and Lana. Only one who's unhappy? Lori Lemaris, who gets stuck with "Superman-Green."

The storyline was revisited in '98 when Superman first evolved into a blue-tinted electrical powerhouse, and then eventually split into two separate, warring personalities. It's been a while since I read these issues, but if I remember correctly, Blue was cold and logical, and Red was fiery and gung-ho. Blue planned out his battles, Red charged in without thinking. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's Goofus and Gallant, Last Sons of Krypton.

Superman Red/Superman Blue #1Around about then is the time I stopped reading all the Superman comic books that I'd been following faithfully since 1990: Superman; Action Comics; Superman: The Man of Steel; The Adventures of Superman; Superman: The Man of Tomorrow; Hey Superman, Where Are You?; The Thirteen Ghosts of Superman; The Superman/Batman Comedy/Adventure Hour; Jimmy Olsen: Heckblazer; and The Blazing Guns of Lois Lane, Superman's Girlfriend. The Red/Blue storyline wasn't really the reason; I'm pretty sure the Millennium Giants storyline was. (Even though that had a mural cover, didn't it?) DC dragged the Red/Blue saga on just a tiny bit too long—the whole shebang lasted about than a year, but with four titles a month it seemed like forever. Today I object most of all to having that neon blue Superman appearing in what would otherwise be the primal and definitive portrayals of the Justice League in Grant Morrison's "Rock of Ages" storyline in JLA #10-15. Me? I get out my red and yellow crayons for a classic makeover of those issues. Your milage, and artistic inclinations, may vary.

Anyway, that mural. Despite my lukewarm feelings for the storyline, I do love this pair o' covers. Despite the fact that they're done by two different artist teams, the style meshes perfectly, and there's a wonderful touch that is a hallmark of a clever mural: the detail that isn't apparent until the covers are fitted together. In this case it's the soaring trails of the Supermen which form a red and blue "S" the exact style of the "S" on the temporary Superman logo from this period. As I like to say: way cool.

If you'd like to read the 1963 Superman-Red/Superman-Blue story, you should, nay, must pick up DC's Greatest Imaginary Stories, Volume 1 at your local comic book store or bookstore or by clickin' the Amazon linky-think to the right. It's full of the wackiest, way-outtest DC tales of the multiverse, which Grant Morrison ought to be bringing back any day now. On the other hand, if you want to read the 1998 Superman-Red/Superman-Blue saga, dig in the couch for some change because I'm pretty sure you can pick up most of the issues of the whole dadburn shebang (Action #733-744, Superman #123-135 and Annual #9, The Adventures of Superman #546-557 and Annual #9, Superman: The Man of Steel #68-79 and Annual #6, Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #9-10, and Superman Red/Superman Blue #1) in the quarter box at your local comic store. Also, geez, as long as you're there in the quarter bin, why not pick up the entire runs of Scare Tactics, Power Company and Sovereign Seven?

Or, if you're a Marvel Comics fan, pick up the adventures of Spider-Man-Red-Blue/Spider-Man-Blue-Red:

Spider Super Stories #25

Tell 'em Bully-Red and Bully-Blue sent you.

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 4

Avengers #137
Panels from The Avengers #137 (March 1972), script by Steve Englehart, pencils by George Tuska, inks by Vince Colletta, colors by Phil Rachelson, letters by Charlotte Jetter

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Ten of a Kind: You're the battiest jailbird I ever did see

(More Ten of a Kind here.)

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 3

AA #11
Panel from Amazing Adventures v.2 #11, (the first appearance of the furry Beast, March 1972), script by Gerry Conway, pencils by Tom Sutton, inks by Syd Shores, letters by Sam Rosen