Saturday, March 06, 2010

Separated at Birth: Talk to the hand

Flash #163/Dc Comics Presents The Flash #1

L: Flash #163 (August 1966), art by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella
R: DC Comics Presents The Flash one-shot (October 2004), art by Alex Ross

(Click picture to fourth-wall-size)

Now actually, that's really a kind of a cheat "Separated," isn't it? And not just because I prefer the Carmine Infantino hand to the Alex Ross hand. No, it's because the second cover comes from a set of eight DC Comics released in 2004 to salute Julius Schwartz, and each featured a homage to a former great cover of a comic Julie had worked on. In other words...yeah, that's an easy Separated at Birth.

But no, the one I really wanted to show you today is this:
Fred Hembeck

Panel from "Hembeck's Page" in Marvel Age #28 (July 1985), by Fred Hembeck

Click panel to see Fred's entire comic strip

Yes, who else besides the frankly marvelous Fred Hembeck could sneak in a homage to a DC book...inside a Marvel book? And click here to see Fred's inside story of the Fred Hembeck Destroys the Marvel Universe book!

We here at "Separated at Birth" salute you, Fred, with a special, swirly-kneed Bull-Prize!

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 65

"Bullpen Bits" #48 (printed in Marvel Comics cover-dated June 2000), by Chris Giarrusso

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Was (Not Was): "Spy in the House of Love"

"Spy in the House of Love" (1988) by Was (Not Was),
using cartoon footage from the 1943 Fleischer Studios Superman cartoon "Secret Agent":

Friday, March 05, 2010

Cause and Effect

Yesterday, 7 PM:

I am a New Avenger

Today, 12:30 AM:

Daily Bugle

Today, 11:00 AM:

From the desk of Johnny Storm

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 64

X-Men #65
Panel from The [Uncanny] X-Men #65 (February 1970), script by Denny O'Neil, pencils by Neal Adams, inks by Tom Palmer, letters by Jean Simek

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Things Namor Doesn't Say Anymore

Think of Namor, The Sub-Mariner, and you think of this:

Namor Kisses

Oh yes, he's the Sue Storm-kissin'est guy there ever was. (And that includes Reed!) But when I think of Namor, I think of long-winded, multi-paragraph, boistrously hubristic speeches that, since they're underwater, should all sound like this—(blub blub blub blub blub)—but which, thanks to the excellent translation skills of Stan Lee, actually sound like this:

Tales of Suspense #71

You know, it just occurred to me: if Subbie wasn't destined for a life in Atlantean politics (aside from that free year trekking around Europe after college, you gotta take after your dad, you know), he might have become a nifty-keen Shakespearean actor. Can't you just picture Namor McKenzie spouting elegant Shakespearean lines like
So many mermaids, tended her i' the eyes,
And made their bends adornings: at the helm
A seeming mermaid steers: the silken tackle
Swell with the touches of those flower-soft hands,
That yarely frame the office.
The ambitious ocean swell and rage and foam,
To be exalted with the threatening clouds:
not to mention
Swum ashore, man, like a duck: I can swim like a
duck, I'll be sworn.
Of course, first he'd have to put on a shirt.

But in his youth, Namor hadn't yet developed the swirly and purpled prose he spouts out regularly in the post-Silver Age. Why, in the pages of The Invaders he was all about punching Ratzis in the snoot so hard they would have to swim back to Uncle Adolf with their torschlusspaniks between their legs. But even further back in his youth, Young Namie liked to speak that hepcat swingin' slang that all the kids were into and that exasperated their parents, whether fish or fowl. So let's wind the clock back, peer through Uatu's magic spyglass of voyeurism, and check in on the young, uncultured Namor as we listen to

Things Namor Doesn't Say Anymore!

Now, I'm not saying Namor wasn't friendly and outgoing...
Marvel Mystery Comics #20

...but sometimes, like every moody young kid, he could get pretty annoyingly emo:
Marvel Mystery Comics #19

Yes, Namor would regularly annoy his elders with his jargon that he picked up on the surface world.
Marvel Mystery Comics #19

Atlantean scholars are unsure where Namor picked up this contemporary slang, but it may have come from his love of hanging around the surface world, taking part in illegal boxing matches, building up your collection of rare antique dinglehoppers while singing songs about how much you'd rather be on the surface, and possibly reading Janet Evanovich mysteries:
Marvel Mystery Comics #20

Why, I bet half the time he didn't even know what he was saying. At least...I hope not.
Marvel Mystery Comics #21

Still, you can't deny the obvious: these days, Namor never says anything like this:
Marvel Mystery Comics #20

So in case you want a gentler, friendly, more hip Namor, all you have to do is look back to the Golden Age, where the Son of the Sea nlocution was so unrecognizable you'd never guess he was the same half-man/half-fish he is today, back in those days when he never exhibited the signs of his later arrogance and pomposity...
Marvel Mystery Comics #30

Well, mostly.

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 63

X-Factor #31
Panels from X-Factor #31 (August 1988), script by Louise Simonson, pencils by Walt Simonson, inks by Bob Wiacek, colors by Greg Wright, letters by Joe Rosen

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Also, if you caught your arm in a radial saw, soon you would be in love.

One of the great things about Captain America comic books is that you know you;'re going to get a patriotic and level-headed look at the problems that plague America today, like, say Red Skulls, or masked barons, or stepping in some dog poop. poop?

Cap #281 title=
Panel from Captain America #281 (May 1983), script by J. M. DeMatteis, pencils by Mike Zeck, inks by John Beatty, colors by Bob Sharen, letters by Diana Albers

So your dad taught you it's good luck to go stepping around in dog poop, huh, Steve? Clearly this is some revisionist history of the 1930s that Studs Terkel has told us nothing about. On the other hand, it does explain that long run in the 1970s when the magazine was renamed Captain America/Lockjaw Team-Up.

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 62

AXM #18
Panels from Astonishing X-Men #18 (December 2006), script by Joss Whedon, pencils and inks by John Cassaday, colors by Laura Martin, letters by Chris Eliopoulos

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Kermit the Frog, Motivational Speaker

Key to SuccessBorn in a humble swamp, top sales and marketing genius Kermit T. Frog began his career selling the magazine Frog's Life door-to-door when he was only a tadpole. Graduating from Harvard Business School and serving his country overseas in the war in Vietnam, Kermit returned to the US to work for Merrill Lynch for four years as a securities consultant. A self-taught top salesman, Kermit rose to the pinnacle of Wall Street and soon formed his own worldwide firm of investment consultants. He made his first million dollars not long afterwards. The rest, as you know, is history.

Tree of SuccessKermit's taken time out of his busy schedule to come speak today on the subject of "never giving up," the theme of his four bestselling business and inspirational books, his weekly cable television and radio shows, and the series of globally successful audiotapes and CDs. Acknowledged as one of the leading figures not only in world business and banking but also in the self-help field, Kermit speaks at over two hundred seminars like this one every year, inspiring you to reach for the top, to never give up, to go for the gold and the glory that comes with boldly stepping into life...The Kermit Way.

Kermit of SuccessLadies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to America's most popular self-help and financial advice guru, the frog who never gives up, and who will teach you how to bring that same never-say-die attitude to your own business and personal life. Author of There's No "I" in "I Give Up" and What's That Over There? Success? Let's Drive There Right Now!, the frog who will tell you what to do and how to avoid failure......Mister Kermit the Frog, Motivational Speaker!

Marvel Comics Super Special #32
Panels from Marvel Comics Super Special #32: The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), script by Stan Kay, pencils by Dean Yeagle, inks by Jacqueline Roettcher, colors by Andy Yanchus, letters by Jim Novak

Join us next time when Kermit the Frog, Motivational Speaker, says:

Marvel Comics Super Special #32

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 61

Untold Tales of Spidey #21

But then later...

Untold Tales of Spidey #21
Panels from Untold Tales of Spider-Man #21 (May 1997), script by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Pat Olliffe, inks by Al Williamson, colors by Steve Mattsson, letters by Richard Starkings

Monday, March 01, 2010

Monday Night Murals: Throw them hands up and show some love/And I welcome you to Detroit City

JLA Annual #2When you think of great superhero teams, there are some big names that come to mind. The Avengers. The X-Men. The Green Lanterns! The Fantastic Four! The Defenders! The Great Lakes Avengers! WildC.A.T.S.! Kickers, Inc.! The Thor Corps! The Smurfs! Gen13! Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew! Wait, wait, surely that's wrong there, sorry. Nobody thinks of WildC.A.T.S. as a great superhero team.

But each and every one of 'em owes a debt of gratitude and perhaps a monetary kickback or two to the premier superhero team of the Silver Age, the high-powered assemblage that inspired them all: The Justice League of America! And when you think of the Justice League of America, a lot of people think of Super Friends. And when you think of Super Friends, a lot of people think of the opening narration, done by Ted Baxter on one of his days off from frustrating Mary and Murray and Lou: "In the great Hall of the Justice League...there are assembled the world's four greatest heroes...created from the cosmic legends of the universe! Vibe!...Vixen!...Steel!...Gypsy!"

Justice League Detroit

Ah, yes. The team nicknamed Justice League Detroit: because even DC Comics didn't want these guys in one of their fictionopolises. Nowadays there's an air of fond nostalgia around these Motor City mustangs, but they seemed to have been created to fulfill a "throw everything against the wall and try to be a new X-Men" idea...a gap that DC spent most of the eighties trying to fill. Give or take a Dale Gunn or two, there's not an awful lot memorable about the JLD era of the JLA.

Although...they did kick off their run with a pretty cool four-part cover mural:

JLA #233-236

Justice League of America #233-236 (December 1984-March 1985), art by Chuck Patton and Dick Giordano

(Click picture to Built-Ford-Tough-a-size)

Whoa, you certainly can't say that cover isn't full of colorful characters and lots of action. And, floating heads. In fact, each of the four new members of the JLA appears twice on these series of covers: once on their "spotlight" cover and on one other issue as a fine floating head. And I think we all know how painful that can be.

I like these interlocking covers and remember them a lot better than the stories inside. Sure, there's some inherent goofiness in the image, especially when you realize that Steel is the only thing holding that big-ass chunk of chocolate cake slab of stone up. I like the dynamism of the whole piece, with lots of implied action and movement, even though Vibe is the only shown shown to be actually attacking someone. In fact, he's tossin' his specially patented vibe-rays at that thug so hard he gets knocked straight into the next issue. That's not only strong, that's metafictional.

The JLD didn't hang around long. Although they made it through the Crisis on Infinite Earths, where characters much more popular than they were eaten like popcorn by the Anti-Monitor, the guy who makes it impossible for you to see what's happening on your computer screen, half of them were dead by the time Legends rolled around, the other half on the run. A brand new series just called Justice League was right around the corner, and it wouldn't be long until every kid in America was running around declaring "Bwah-ha-ha-ha!" and "One punch! One punch!" and "Kooey Kooey Kooey!" Ah, those were happy days.

Guest-star bits and references to the four new characters of the Detroit era would pop up here and there in the DCU for the next several years, but my favorite recent appearance was in the Justice League Unlimited TV cartoon series, which put Orin's Quirky Quadrumvirate in the background of a lot of episodes, although Vixen had a running subplot romance and the others did get more face time in the accompanying comic book based on the series. Here's the last moments of the final episode of JLU, with each of the Justice Leaguers rushing towards us. In a clever moment of fanboy fancy, the heroes are grouped thematically: sprinting together in packs are members originating with the Justice Society, characters created by Steve Ditko, the JLI-era heroes, Ollie and Dinah, and of course, all together now...Justice League Detroit:

Nowadays, tho', you don't see a whole lotta references to the Detroit League, with the exception of Vixen. She's made quite a comeback for herself these days with her own miniseries and a prominent role in the brand-new, reborn JLA. Hmmmm, why is Vixen is getting all the attention, huh? I mean, Vixen!?! Gimme two good reasons why Vix..


Oh. Ohhhhh. Okay.

Want to "read more about" the Justice League of Detroit? Check your local library, or better yet, head on over to BitterAndrew's Armagideon Time for a Detroit-Rockin' survey of the JLD era! Tell 'im Bully sent ya!

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 60

MTU #90
Panel from Marvel Team-Up #90 (February 1980), script by Steven Grant, breakdowns by Mike Vosburg, finishes and inks by Bob McLeod, colors by George Roussos, letters by John Costanza

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ten of a Kind: Widescreen

Okay, okay, so the last one is kind of a cheat. But then again, so was this:

Well, just in case you want a real tenth sideway comic cover, here's one of my favorites:

Not only is the entire story in FF #252 sideways, but also, four issues later, the letters column commenting on the ish is, too:

FF #256 LOC

Now that's widescreen.

(More Ten of a Kind here.)

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 59

Avengers #190
Panels from Avengers #190 (December 1979), plot by Roger Stern, script by Steven Grant, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Dan Green, colors by Bob Sharen, letters by John Costanza