Saturday, June 26, 2010

Separated at Birth: He ain't heavy; he's my Batman

Batman: Death in the Family/Robin #175

L: Batman: A Death in the Family trade paperback (1989), art by Jim Aparo
R: Robin #175 (August 2008), art by Freddie E. Williams II and Guy Major

(Click picture to 1-900-size)

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 177

Avengers #141
Splash page from Avengers #141 (November 1975), script by Steve Englehart, pencils by George Perez, inks by Vince Colletta, colors by Janice Cohen, letters by Tom Orzechowski

Saturday Morning Cartoon: "Nowhere Man"

"Nowhere Man" from Yellow Submarine (1968), directed by George Dunning

The Beatles "Nowhere Man" (1966), directed by Jack Stokes

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Pity the Fool Who Don't Know It's Clobberin' Time

Hey, kids, it's the great long-lost A-Team/Fantastic Four team-up!

A-Team #2
Splash page from The A-Team #2 (April 1984), script by Jim Salicrup, pencils by Jim Mooney, inks by Joe Giella, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by L. P. Gregory

You may well note a lack of stretching, fire, and invisibility in this page, not to mention a complete absence of the sheer awesomeness that is Ben Grimm. That's because...look closer...the team-up is actually really just H. M. "Howling Mad" Murdock reading an issue of the Fantastic Four comic book that he obviously borrowed from his brother Matt:

A-Team #2

Hey, you can actually tell exactly which issue Murdock's reading: FF #264!

FF #264
Fantastic Four #264 (April 1984), art by John Byrne

There's something not quite right about that comic book Murdock's holding, though...hmmm...oh, I know! On the real comic book, there's an ad for the video game "Frogger" on the back, not for "Cash Prizes." (Which woulda made a great name for a 1980s private detective played by Lee Horsley, right?)

A-Team #2

Hmmm, let's see...there, I fixed it!

A-Team #2

I think that covers everything for tonight, don't you think? Oh wait...just one more thing:

Cash Prizes: P.I.

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 176

UXM #9
Panels from [Uncanny] X-Men #9 (January 1965), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Chic Stone, letters by Sam Rosen

Thursday, June 24, 2010

You say you've seen seven wonders and your bird is green

Pop quiz, Bully-Boosters! Cast your baby blues on two panels below from The Incredible Hulk #127. The story is scripted by Rascally Roy Thomas, but (here's your quiz question)...who should get a co-writing credit for this scene?

Hulk #127
Panels from Incredible Hulk #127 (May 1970), script by Roy Thomas, pencils and inks by Herb Trimpe, letters by Sam Rosen

Need time to think about it? Of course? You've got exactly thirty seconds...the precise time it takes to play the Final Jeopardy theme! Click on the "play" button and put your thinking cap on, Bull-ke-teers!

Time's up, contestants...let's see what you wagered! And more important, let's see the clue you oughta have noticed:

Hulk #127

Give up? Awwww, I bet you're gonna facepalm yourself when you read the answer. Suppose I paraphrase the speech bubble above as...
He blew his mind out in a car
He didn't notice that the lights had changed
A crowd of people stood and stared
They'd seen his face before
Nobody was really sure
If he was from the House of Lords
That's right...that's from The Beatles' "A Day in the Life," written by Lennon/McCartney, but that part was by the one and only John Lennon. Who shoulda got a writing credit alongside Roy Thomas, don't you think?

So be aware: meaner and greener Hulks have been sighted within the vicinity of this blog. There's only one way to go out. How's that, you ask? Singing!

Hulk and John

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 175

Defenders #149
Panel from [The New] Defenders #149 (November 1985), script by Peter Gillis, pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Art Nichols and Dell Barras, colors by Michele Wrightson, letters by Janice Chiang

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Image Comics

What's this? (in my best William Dozier voice) Denizens of the Larval Universe (aka Earth-8311) running through Marvel-Earth (aka our old familiar Earth-616)? In the words of Dick Martin (of Earth-1967)...You bet your sweet bippy!

Image Inducers!
Image Inducers!
Image Inducers!
Image Inducers!

Holy ham and grits! That's Spider-Ham and Ducktor Doom running around Emma Frost's Massachusetts Academy for Gifted Youngsters and Leather Corsets! The cover stars of Peter Porker, The Spectacular Spider-Ham #1:

Image Inducer

The High-Swinging Hog and the Canned Canard?!? What the Sam Scratch are they doing here?

Well, I guess we'll never know.

In the meantime...witness the marvel of the age...the Image Inducer!

Image Inducer

Originally designed by Professor Xavier (who, as we all know, has a master's degree in holography) and built by Tony Stark in one of his few sober weekends of that period, the image inducer projects a three-dimensional holographic disguise around the bearer. It's sort of the walking and talking equivalent of a chameleon, or The Amazing Chan Clan's transforming van.

Professor X gave the image inducer to Nightcrawler, the superhero with the power of one million earthworms a teleporting demon, so that Kurt could disguise his fuzzy blue devilism appearance when out among the "norms." Don't wanna scare the humans, now!

Except that Kurt, as shown above in Uncanny X-Men #101, tended to use the image inducer more frequently to just have fun. And, of course, indulge in his obsession with 1930s movies.

A mutant swashbuckler at heart long before he turned into a depressed ex-Catholic priest and then a dead ex-man, Nightcrawler's favorite human disguise was Errol Flynn, star of the silver's screen's greatest adventure movies. And why not? After all, it was a great way for Herr Wagner to pick up chicks, as in this scene from Uncanny X-Men #98:

Image Inducer

In fact, the image inducer was pretty much Nightcrawler's excuse to ogle girls freely. It's like staring at a pretty girl from behind sunglasses. Enough, at least, for Xavier to complain about Kurt's use of the I.I.:

Image Inducer

It wasn't long before Kurt figured out that the image inducer could be used not only as a disguise in civilian society and a handy aid in girl-watching, but also as an essential fighting tool against super-villains. Here, in Uncanny X-Men #107, he befuddles the baddies by projecting the image of a giant monster from a Dr. Seuss book. Right about there if he could see how his creation was being used, I'm sure Tony Stark would be rubbing his eyes and dropping his half-empty bottle of rich Kentucky bourbon into the trash and swearing "Never again."

Image Inducer

Here's Kurt in UXM #101 pulling the wool over the eyes of Juggernaut and "Black" "Tom" "Cassidy" by transforming himself into the image of a hopping, vaulting, taunting Professor Charles Xavier. It's as if Chuck had been bitten by that radioactive spider, isn't it?

Image Inducer

The trouble, story-wise, with the image inducer is it becomes just too powerful and a superhuman power in and of itself. By the time Kurt's using it to disguise the entire team of X-Men (in a continuity implant page from Classic X-Men #9), its use has become a little ridiculous and a deus ex starkia that can be pretty much used to get out of any situation.

Image Inducer

That's why one of my favorite Classic X-Men back-up stories (new shorts set in the period of the reprinted main story, also written by Chris Claremont) is from Classic X-Men #4. Yes, it's the one where Wolverine shames Kurt into dropping the use of the image inducer:

Image Inducer
Image Inducer

And so, we don't see Nightcrawler using the image inducer again. (Except for maybe that one hot date on Saturday.) That doesn't sit well with post-return-from-his-space-wedding-to-hippie-space-chick-Lilandra-Neramani Charles Xavier, as shown in this panel from Uncanny #130. But then again, as we should remember from this period, PROFESSOR XAVIER IS A JERK!

Image Inducer

So, by the time of Jean Grey's first annual memorial funeral (UXM #138), rather than attending the service disguised as Errol Flynn, Kurt hangs out in a tree instead. Way to honor the dead and then reborn and then dying again, Kurt.

Image Inducer

But wait! There's another blue and furry guy attending Jean's fifteenth-to-last-rites, and he has to rely on a rubber mask that was apparently added to the script so late that Tom Orzechowski didn't even to get letter its explanation...of course we mean the man and mutant of the year, Hank McCoy!

Image Inducer

Hank adopts the Image Inducer; unlike Nightcrawler, he usually uses it to appear as his younger, pre-fuzzy self (here in Adjectiveless X-Men #4):

Image Inducer

It's a useful way for the Beast to fit in among society, although judging from the romantic attraction women had to him in when he was in the Avengers...why? Still, even today (UXM #488), it's as essential to Henry McCoy as a cell phone, his iPod, and his slide rule:

Image Inducer

Which is not to say that Hank doesn't have any fun with the image inducer, as in this sequence from Wolverine #163: Hank and Logan are on the run from the law and have to travel incognito. Which is a perfect excuse to play the part of a true fugitive:

Image Inducer
Image Inducer

Of course, Hank can't resist ribbing the man who will cut your heart out with his knuckles a little more:

Image Inducer

Of course, Hank is a pal to all dumb animals, and he's absolutely willing to share the image inducer with his fellow blue heroes (Uncanny #297), in between head noogies:

Image Inducer

It's funny how many blue X-Men there are. That includes not only the time Bobby turned down the hot water in Scott's shower, but also bio-re-engineered Angel, turned from the whitest white man alive to the only Blue Angel you don't get a crowd out to see perform aerobatic maneuvers. So it's lucky that here (X-Men #31) he can go out in public with an image inducer and keep his natural skin tone. Now, if only they could get one for Psylocke so she wouldn't look like she'd been dipped in molten metal by Auric Goldfinger:

Image Inducer

Why, it's easier to make a list of which X-Man doesn't use an image inducer some time or another. Here's Wolverine, enjoying a little too much projecting the appearance of Sage (UXM #449). Well, Wolvie does have heightened perceptions...makes sense he'd enjoy being a girl.

Image Inducer

Kitty Pryde: cheating at being a ninja. Not so much a ninja, more a big cheatypants. Cheater Kitty. Cheater. Cheaty-Kitty! (from Kitty Pryde: The Time She Cheated at Being a Ninja #5, aka Shadows & Flame):

Image Inducer

The image inducer: for those times when it's absolutely positively too difficult to actually put on a ninja costume.

It's not just X-Men who use an image inducer either, no no no no. (No.) Here's itty-bitty Hank Pym, star of stage and microscope, using an image inducer to make Avengers butler Jarvis look like a Skrull. Why? For the kicks, man, for the kicks. (Mighty Avengers #25)

Image Inducer

Even Norman Nogoodnik Osborn (and his evil sidekick Dark Beast) hop on the image inducer bandwagon in Dark Avengers #7, where he uses one to disguise Professor Xavier's cell so Emma Frost only sees a storage room within. Huh. Well, at that point, it's not so much an image inducer, right? Really just more of a regular ordinary hologram. Way to think outside the box, Normie. No wonder Spider-Man punched you so hard that your head came off in Siege #4. Well, in my version, at least.

Image Inducer

Which of course, brings us back, full circle-like, to Spider-Ham and Ducktor Doom, on the loose in the pages of Generation X #52:

Image Inducer

Oh, yeah, that. How'd that happen?

Image Inducer

Why, it was Artie and Leech all along, aided by an image inducer from that paragon of goodness and light, Emma Frost! (Please ignore her prostitute past.). Flash back earlier in the issue where Emma gave the two little mutants image inducers so they could leave the attic of the Massachusetts Academy and go out and about in society...why, that's the same thing that Professor X designed it for in the first place!

Image Inducer

So, that's the history of the image inducer, copyright 1976 Stark International. Of course, that's well before we all had image inducers to make us look and appear different and more attractive to people outside our inner circle. Today, we just call that the internet.

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 174

DD #155
from Daredevil #155 (Marvel, November 1978), script by Roger McKenzie, pencils by Frank Robbins, inks by Frank Springer, colors by Bob Sharen, letters by Denise Wohl

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

“This was my finest shower!”

You and I are used to seeing Winston Churchill like this:

But I'm your wildest've never seen Churchill like this:

All_Star Squadron #10
All_Star Squadron #10
All_Star Squadron #10
All_Star Squadron #10
Panels from All-Star Squadron #10 (June 1982), script by Roy Thomas, pencils by Adrian Gonzales, inks by Jerry Ordway, colors by Carl Gafford, letters by Ben Oda

Yes, it's Winston Churchill wearing nothing but a towel and a cigar. You've seen can't unsee it!

When you've finished shuddering, let me remind you that there's a bright side to everything. What the Sam Scratch could be the silver lining to this, you wonder? Well, that it wasn't

Margaret Thatcher

So, in the words of one of his greatest wartime posters:

Chuchill Poster

Bonus: Churchill raps!: