Saturday, September 04, 2010

Same Story, Different Cover: This never happened to the other fellow

Strange Tales #142/Nick Fury #18

L: Strange Tales #142 (March 1966), art by Jack Kirby and Mike Esposito
R: Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.* #18 (March 1971), reprinting Strange Tales #142, art by Herb Trimpe and John Severin

(Click picture to helicarrier-size)

*Spiced Ham In Egg Lard Diet

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 247

X-Men Stickers
Beast sticker from X-Men Ultimate Sticker Book (March 2006), written by Alastair Dougall, designed by Mark Richards

Saturday Morning Cartoon: The Hole Idea

Looney Tunes: The Hole Idea (1955), directed By Robert McKimson

Friday, September 03, 2010

Separated at Birth: I can't stop staring in those evil eyes

Get the cameras rolling! We can have a Dazzler movie in theaters in 2011 and she can be in The Avengers in 2012!

Lady Gaga and Dazzler

Earth-616 in the Balance

Remember the time when the man behind the Captain America mask was briefly Al Gore?

All-Winners Comics #21
Panels from All-Winners Comics #21 (Winter 1946-47), script by Otto Binder, pencils by Al Avison, inks by Charles Nicholas

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 246

XM #2
Panel from X-Men #2 (November 1991), co-plot and script by Chris Claremont, co-polt and pencils by Jim Lee, inks by Scott Williams, colors by Joe Rosas, letters by Tom Orzechowski

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Dial "H" for Hydra

Blofeld catBad guys get all the best stuff. The volcano hideouts, the sharks with laser beams, the fluffy lap cat...everything cool. You know, the jet packs, the robot spiders, the space-ship swallowing ocean liners, the ocean-liner swallowing spaceships, the weather machines, the Palm Pilots, the sexy robots, the virulent plagues, and let us not forget the trained chimps. That goes double for all your criminal organizations, too: SMERSH, SPECTRE, THRUSH, KAOS, GALAXY, CHUMP, THEM, HIVE, AIM, RICO, and especially HYDRA. You know, "cut one limb off and two more grow in its place" HYDRA? That's a fearful power but must be really hard to buy them a sweater for Christmas.

It's true: if you can get it in the Evil Sky Mall Catalogue, then HYDRA's got one or two. Who do you think it is who really shopped at Evil Brookstone's and Evil Sharper Image? Evil organizations like HYDRA have got to continually keep up with the (evil) Joneses, so it's likely that more than 93% of their ill-gotten gains from gun-running, dirigible heists, and earthquake extortion goes straight back into R&D. And it's worth every penny. Why, without it, they wouldn't have the betatron bomb...

Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?
Panel from "Sometimes the Good Guys Lose!" in Strange Tales #138 (November 1965), plot and layouts by Jack Kirby, dialogue by Stan Lee, finishes by John Severin, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Sam Rosen

...the overseas fire monitor...

Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?

...the tel-a-larm...

Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?

..and the only true friend that the Supreme Hydra has ever had.

Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?

But none of those things, as amazing, extraordinary, and evil as they are, can hold a flaming stick of dynamite to...


Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?

Because, when you're overseeing a vast criminal empire, you've got a lot on your mind, so why not apply an animal-based mnemonic to your lieutenants? (Just be sure you're up front in line so you don't get dubbed "The Wombat" or head of "The Cicada Division."

HYDRA's Crime Dial allows the Supreme Hydra to contact every division of his vast nefarious staff, with the possible exception of the "flamingo" secretarial pool. Just spin the wheel, venture to buy a vowel, and reach out to touch a fox or a leopard or a beaver! (What? What? What is everyone laughing about? I don't get it.)

Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?

Remember when you were in Cub Scouts and they divided the troops up into animal packs? And you wanted to get picked for the Cougars or the Bears or the Puff Adders? And instead you got stuck in Piglet Squad? Yeah, that's kind of what it's like for the members of "The Mole Squadron" at HYDRA. I picture it as being 30 Rock, but with everybody in green jumpsuits and hoods. Yes, especially Liz Lemon.

Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?
Panel from "The Brave Die Hard!!" in Strange Tales #139 (December 1965), plot and layouts by Jack Kirby, dialogue by Stan Lee, finishes by Joe Sinnott, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek

I suppose HYDRA could have miniaturized this and put it all on a desk with pushbuttons, but hey, if last fiscal year's budget was higher than you expected, you gotta spend the cash on something or you won't get the funding next year. Thus was born the Crime Dial, from which vast troops of tigers can be sent after Nick Fury, brandishing their Sugar Frosted Flakes and telling him how GRRRRRRRREAT! he is.

And so it is why, why they are frequently defeated, HYDRA will never be destroyed for good...because of the Crime Dial. S.H.I.E.L.D.* may have some circular things of their own...

Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?
Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?
Top: Panel from "Who Strikes at—SHIELD?" in Strange Tales #142 (March 1966), plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, dialogue by Stan Lee, inks by Mike Esposito, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek
Bottom: Panel from "The Man for the Job!" in Strange Tales #135 (August 1965), plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, dialogue by Stan Lee, inks by Dick Ayers, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek

But accept no substitutions for the patented HYDRA Crime Wheel, the device so effective it later was seen in Daredevil #121 (albeit not by Daredevil).

Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?
Panel from Daredevil #121 (May 1975), co-plot and script by Tony Isabella, co-plot and pencils by Bob Brown, inks by Vince Colletta, colors by Don Warfield, letters by Karen Mantlo

Oh, and let's not forget HYDRA's diabolical Wheel of Food.

Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?
from Strange Tales #139

More recently, in the pages of Dark Reign: The List: Secret Warriors: One-Shot, the 2009 Eisner Award-winner for "Most Colons in a comic not drawn by Ernie," HYDRA has modernized their organizational wheel. It's clear that in the years between the Crime Dial and this, somebody's been learning Powerpoint.

Star Trek

"The Zodiac Wheel" from Dark Reign: The List: Secret Warriors #1 (December 2009)
Click image to organizational-bloat-size

But, y'know, that can't be the real HYDRA organizational chart, so I went online to the secret hidden website and downloaded their real organizational chart, which I present to you here for the very first time. Enjoy, but don't tell 'em Bully sent you!

Where does HYDRA get those wonderful toys?

*Scheduled Haggis Ingestion Eliminates Lethargy and Diphtheria.

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 245

UXM #297
Panels from Uncanny X-Men #297 (February 1992), script by Scott Lobdell, pencils by Brandon Peterson, inks by Dan Panosian, colors by Marie Javins, letters by Chris Eliopoulos

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

What Have You Done for Me Lately?

Monty Python put it like this...

And Janet Miss Jackson put it like this:

But in the world of comics, when we're asking leading questions like that, we usually put it this way:

GL #76
Panels from Green Lantern/Green Arrow (April 1970), script by Denny O'Neil, pencils and inks by Neal Adams, letters by John Costanza

Look, I hear what you're saying, man, but I think saving the earth from complete extinction events dozens and dozens of times has helped everyone. Even Oprah.

Luckily, in the next panel, Bill Cosby comes in and puts his hands on on each of their shoulders and says "You got to stop with the green and the ring and alien guys who are doin' that thing with the red fire comin' out of their mouths and they're all blarghh with the blood and the gore and the spitting thing, man!" And then they all hold hands sing "C'mon people now, smile on your brother, ev'rybody get together, try and love one another right now..." Then they all have Jell-O™ Pudding Pops, and Speedy never even needs to take drugs, because it's a hap-hap happy happy world! Racial tension solved.

Say, how do they handle that same question a year later over at Marvel?

ASM #96
Panels from Amazing Spider-Man #96 (May 1971), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Gil Kane, inks by John Romita, letters by Artie Simek

In between Mary Jane's nudge-nudge wink-wink sex jokes, Norman Osborn got an idea. An awful idea. The Goblin got a wonderful, awful idea! Granted, it took him the rest of the century to put it into effect, and involved the deaths of thousands, a civil war, a Skrull invasion, and making a bunch of murderers into the Avengers, but hey! He finally took a stand to do something about society's ills, and you've got to hand it to him. On the other hand, have you ever seen his picture on a bubble gum card? How can you say someone is great who's never had his picture on bubble gum cards?

Green Goblin trading card

D'oh! Nevermind.

Naw, actually, the only thing that Norman was inspired to do after that speech was to toss a pumpkin bomb down Randy Robertson's chimney. It wasn't a race was just a do not disrespect the 'Born thing.

No, to get to the proper response to that question we have to skip ahead a few years and look in on that same question being challenged to The Mighty Thor:

Thor #363
Panels from Thor #363 (January 1986), script, pencils and inks by Walt Simonson, colors by Christie Scheele, letters by John Workman

Boo-yah! Now that's an answer to a leading question! When asked what you have done for society, please feel free to crib generously from the words of Messrs. Thor and Simonson. Remember, however, that for maximum effectiveness, allow the living spirit of Death to claw at your face until your normally cheerful grin is covered with festering, disfigured wounds. Hey, we all have to make sacrifices for our art, right?

And just what have you learned from all this, Mr. Green Lantern?

GL v3 #29
Panels from Green Lantern v.3 #29 (Late September 1992), script by Gerard Jones, pencils by M. D. Bright, inks by Romeo Tanghal, colors by Anthony Tollin, letters by Albert De Guzman

So, I think around the superheroes, it's best to not ask them what they've done for you lately. I asked them once, but I think I got away with it.

365 Days with Hank McCoy, Day 244

Avengers #199
Beast (and pals) poses in a house ad for the New X-Men (published in Marvel Comics dated September 1980), art by Dave Cockrum

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Make Mine Animirth!

EDIT on 9/2/10: Boistrous Bully-booster Ralf pointed out in the comments that my original example of Fantastic Four #1 was accompanied by a scan of the indicia...from FF #8. Whoops! Turns out that in the scans on my 44 Years of the Fantastic Four DVD, the original scanner substituted #8's inside front page for #1. So that my example matches my argument, I've now edited my post and switched the original example to X-Men #1, below. The point is the same, only the heroes have changed. (And if anyone has a scan of the real inside cover of FF #1, I'd be most delighted to see it!

Here's a good way to make some extra folding money with a no-risk bar bet. Now, I'm not allowed to go into bars, or bet, and most of my money is in lovely clanky bits of loose change. But you may find this useful to you in the future, the place we are all gonna wind up some day. Actually, since it involves comic books, it's best done at a bar near Comic-Con, because otherwise you're gonna get a guy staring at you saying "Who the &%!# cares?"

It's a very simple challenge. Bet the guy next to you (a buck, ten or twenty, or, if you are a small stuffed bull, some Oreos) that he can't answer this simple, obvious question:

Who was the publisher of X-Men #1?

UXM #1

Sounds like a sure thing for your patsy friend, right? The answer is so obvious he might ask you to clarify it. Go ahead, do it: you're talking about the 1963 first comic book issue of X-Men by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby—not the Claremont/Lee 1991 X-Men #1, not some foreign edition, not something else called X-Men, not the movie, not even the cartoon pilot with an Australian Wolverine and that goofy theme song.

Your pal is going to answer "Marvel Comics."

And that's wrong.

Around this time your friend is gonna sputter and shout and demand that you're wrong. Be big, be generous: offer him a second guess. Aha, he thinks, I know the answer now. And your buddy will now answer "Atlas."

And that's wrong too.

What?!? Are we in some other weird parallel dimension? Are we on an Earth where Hitler won the war and Hermann Hesse created Die Männer der X? Are we on Earth-9602, the Amalgam Universe, where DC and Marvel are smushed together to, Dcrvel, I guess. Is white black? Is up down? Is There Something I Should Know?

Put the poor sap out of his misery. At this point, take the copy of 1963's X-Men #1 out of your back pocket, unroll it, put it on the bar...don't worry about that spilled beer, it'll soak it up just fine...and flip open the front cover. And ask him to read the indicia and tell you just who published X-Men #1.

Marvel Shell Companies

The correct answer, of course, is Canam Publishers Sales Corporation. Hey, it says so right in the indicia, which for years we've all been told is the authoritative guide to the book's correct title, number, cover date, and yeah, looks like the publisher as well. Face front, true believer...Mighty Canam is on the march!

Collect your winnings, avoid the bar fight that's breaking out, duck one of Patrick Swayze's roundhouse kicks, and scuttle away into the night with your bucks in your hoof. Don't forget your UXM've gotta be ready to hit the next bar to make the bet again!

What's happening here, you're asking? Why is Marvel called Canam? Well, to answer that question we need the help of the 3DBB. Mister Whoopie, if you will?

Marvel Shell Companies

Since following this exact path will eventually lead to Tennessee and Chumley being arrested by the FTC and going to the Minnesota Correctional Facility-St. Cloud for ten to fifteen, let's instead answer it the quick way: Shell Corporations. Or, as Wikipedia says:
Shell Corporations (born Shell Corporations Voight; June 4, 1975) is an American actress. She has received an Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards. Corporations promotes humanitarian causes, and is noted for her work with refugees as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). She has been cited as one of the world's most attractive people, as well as the world's "most beautiful" woman, titles for which she has received substantial media attention. (citation needed)
Whoa, Wikipedia, that's not right. Let me refresh the page and try it again.
A shell corporation is a company which serves as a vehicle for business transactions without itself having any significant assets or operations. Shell corporations are not in themselves illegal and they may have legitimate business purposes.
So, in other words, a "doing business as" alternate name for Marvel/Atlas. Why? Well, I dunno, but I'm guessing it was for tax reasons. While shell corporations can be used to hide or launder money so that it's squeaky clean for organized crime, I think it's rather that Marvel's shell company name of Canam could have been for a tax break, or second class mailing purposes, or distribution. (Marvel historians, anyone know for sure?)

Whatever the reason, that's how early books like X-Men #1 and Fantastic Four #1 managed to have Canam Publishers Sales Corporation listed as its publisher.

Now, flip with me to the WIkipedia page on Marvel Comics. It says
Marvel Comics (born Marvel Comics Voight; June 4, 1975) is an American actress. She has received an Academy Award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, and three Golden Globe Awards. Comics promotes humanitarian causes, and is noted for her work with refugees...
Dang you, you dadburn kids! Git the heck off my Wikipedia!

What it really says, in part:
[Martin] Goodman began using the globe logo of Atlas, the newsstand-distribution company he owned, on comics cover-dated November 1951. This united a line put out by the same publisher, staff, and freelancers through 59 shell companies...
Fifty-nine? You mean there wasn't just Canam? Well, no. Let's take a ramble through the indicia (indices? Indiciatisses?) of Marvel and Atlas comics to find out who really published them...and how you can get punched in the face by interrupting fanboys to tell them to stop talking about "The Marvel Universe" because it should really be called something else. Like...

Animated Timely Features Inc.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
Captain Savage #1 (January 1968) and Marvel Collectors Item Classics #1 (1965)

Bard Publishing Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
Patsy Walker #98 (December 1961) and Sgt. Fury #2 (July 1963)

Interstate Publishing Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Super Heroes #98 (October 1966) and Wyatt Earp #2 (August 1958)

Leading Magazine Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
Not Brand Echh #1 (August 1967) and Kid Colt Outlaw #101 (November 1961)

Magazine Management Co.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
The Avengers #60 (January 1969) and Fantastic Four #84 (March 1969)

Non-Pareil Publishing Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Amazing Spider-Man #1 (March 1963)

Official Magazine Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
The Ghost Rider #1 (reprints of the Western comic) (February 1967)

Olympia Publications Inc.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
Daredevil #1 (April 1964) and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D #1 (June 1968)

Vista Publications Inc.!
Marvel Shell Companies
The Avengers #1 (September 1963)

Zenith Books, Inc.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
Fantasy Masterpieces #1 (February 1966) and The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962)

But those are all from the Marvel Age of Comics. Surely in the 1950s, the indicia always read "Atlas Comics," right? After all, the comics themselves reminded you that

Marvel Shell Companies

So, everything from the Atlas Comics Company was published under the Atlas name, right?

Wrong. You really oughta know better. In the Atlas Age, you'll find comics on the drugstore spinner rack published by...

Animirth Comics, Inc!
Marvel Shell Companies
Western Thrillers #3 (January 1955)

Chipiden Publishing Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Strange Tales #1 (June 1951)

Cornell Publishing Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Rawhide Kid #9 (July 1956)

I wonder what Emgee Publications, Inc. meant, huh? If he were still alive, maybe Martin Goodman would let us know.
Marvel Shell Companies
Outlaw Kid #16 (March 1957)

Hercules Publishing Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Two Gun Kid #33 (October 1956)

Hercules Publishing was of course run by the Greek god who we all know better as a member of the Avengers and who recently had his very-nifty comic book cancelled out from underneath him. Of course, he was younger then:

Marvel Shell Companies

Now, if you were gonna publish some comic books geared at young women, you'd probably give it a nice attractive name, like Unicorn Comics, Fuzzy Kitten Corp., or Ponies! Ponies! Ponies! Publishing. Would you, um, call the publishing arm that appeared on your girls' comics…

Male Publishing Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
Millie the Model #1 (April 1964) and Love Romances #96 (November 1961)

Oh well, maybe Atlas and Marvel just didn't have a shell company with a girlie name.

Miss America Publishing Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Tales to Astonish #1 (January 1959)

Medalion Publishing Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Two Gun Western #13 (April 1952)

Warwick Publications, Inc.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Quick Trigger #15 (December 1956)

Western Fiction Publishing Co. Inc!
Marvel Shell Companies
Wild Western #8 (July 1949)

Well, at least post-1961 there was no need to use the Atlas name ever again, right?

Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
Iron Man #1 (May 1968) and Journey into Mystery #83 (first appearance of Thor) (August 1962)

Well, all this shell company fun wrapped up with the books cover dated April 1973. That's the point when the company who Martin Goodman had sold Marvel to changed their name to Cadence Industries. Cadence changed the official of name the overall company Magazine Management Co. guessed it...Marvel Comics Group. From that point they were all published, both on the cover and in the indicia, by Marvel Comics. So when somebody asks you when the Marvel Age began, tell 'em "April '73!"

Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
Fantastic Four #133 (April 1973) and The Avengers #110 (April 1973)

Yep, that must've been the first time a comic was ever officially published by Marvel...d'oh!
Marvel Shell Companies
Two Gun Kid #1 (1948)

Geez, Cable's backstory is less complicated than this.

But by far my favorite shell company that "published" Marvel Comics...the original name of the company that later became Cadence?

Perfect Film and Chemical Corp.!
Marvel Shell Companies
Marvel Shell Companies
The Avengers #59 (December 1968) and Fantastic Four #83 (January 1969)

Curiously, the Kree space-warrior known as Mar-Vell debuted in 1968. I wonder if he knows how closely he came to being named

Marvel Shell Companies

Say, history tells us there were 59 publisher names under Marvel and Atlas, and we've only discovered 25. Get out your long-boxes and help me find more—let me know if you do, and which issues they're in!