Saturday, February 26, 2011

Same Story, Different Cover: Pretty Mole Man, Walkin' Down the Street

L: Avengers #12 (January 1965), art by Jack Kirby and Chic Stone
M: Marvel Triple Action #6 (October 1972), art by Sal Buscema and Frank Giacoia R: Avengers Classic #12 (July 2008), art by Art Adams and Laura Martin

(Click picture to pot-belly-size)

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 57

Thor #135
Splash page from Thor #135 (December 1966), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Artie Simek

Friday, February 25, 2011

Because Sometimes You Have to Post Panels of the Severed Hand of Thor Punching a Guy off a Building

Panels from Thor 223 (May 1974), script by Gerry Conway, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Mike Esposito, colors by Petra Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 56

Thor #340
Panels from Thor #340 (February 1984), script, pencils, and inks by Walt Simonson; colors by George Roussos, letters by John Workman

Thursday, February 24, 2011

They'll never kill the thrills we've got burning up to the Crocodile Rock

Hey, remember Steve Austin versus a crocodile?

Sure, that was exciting...and bionic...but pound for pound, moment for moment, croc for croc, it's not as repthrilling as Captain America* versus a crocodile! (*And Bucky.)

As befits America's most vital and powerful secret weapon against the Axis, Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes are naturally deployed to...well, a swamp somewhere in the deep South. Now that's the quicksilver logic and precise military planning that got America ahead in World War II...and, uh, Vietnam.

While this would have been a dandy place for the young Stan Lee to introduce the Golden Age Man-Thing ("Whosoever lives in the 1940s and knows mid-century fear burns at the World War II-era touch of the Golden Age Man-Thing!"), instead Privates Rogers and Barnes wander straight into the lair of a...well, you've probably guessed by now, but check it out for yourself:

Panels from "The Crocodile Strikes!" in Captain America Comics #19 (October 1942), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Al Avison, inks by Syd Shores and George Klein

While the captions are careful to point out that Cap and Bucky are too far away from the croc and its prey to do anything about it, the same Super Soldier serum that turned 4-F Steve Rogers into He-Man Captain America enable him to spy the crocodile strangling a man with his tiny, spindly arms. Dude, you've got massive jaws with the crushing power of two trains...use 'em!

Nearby, in the once-proud but now rundown and ramshackle Killer Crocodile Plantation, once home to the beautiful Southern Belle Crocklett O'Hara (before she ran away with Yankee rascal Rhett Alligator), Cap and Bucky inform the mother of Dick Tracy's criminal nemesis Pruneface that she's going to have to call Easi-Temps to get a replacement crocwrangler. So intent on keeping Steve from prying into her business is Mrs. Pruneface that she not only doesn't notice the bizarre perspective of her side table, but also the severed human hand dangling from the panel above!

Now, you can't chase Captain America away that easily. (Namor, on the other hand, would be halfway to Miami at this point.) Donning their Cap and Bucky costumes which will surely fool the residents of a remote mansion who recently met Steve Rogers and his partner, the Earth-616 Dynamic Duo crosses paths with the Killer Croc again, who attacks pushing over a giant statue of Oprah Winfrey onto him. And then taunting him with laughter. That's one intelligent super-croc! I sense the strange hand of bio-geneticist Arnim Zola, created by Jack Kirby, is behind this whole plot! Yes, yes, of course Arnim Zola debuted in 1977's Captain America #208, you say? Sure, but that only goes to prove just how amazingly awesome Jack Kirby is!

Midnight at the plantation (not to be confused with midnight at the oasis) finds Cap and Bucky standing guard with Blinky, their faithful watchcat, until the alarm is given and Cap springs up from his tiny, tiny armchair! Darting through the electrified panel borders, they arrive just in time to encounter the crocodile attacking with a dagger (jaws, pal, jaws!) as well as yet another horrifyingly racist portrayal of a black man. Oh dear oh dear oh dear oh dear. The "good old days," folks. The "good old days."

From here it's a maddeningly high-paced chase through the mansion's rooms, likely set to the theme from The Benny Hill Show. I'm sorry I had to edit out the three or four pages that featured the crocodile and Cap and Bucky chasing each other in and out out of doorways across and around a single corridor. Luckily for Cap, when the croc emerges from behind the clock and out of the Batcave, there's a banister he can slide down to attack the ravenous reptile. Even luckier: there's not a wooden ball at the bottom of the banister.

Cap and the croc trade witty repartees as they slug it out on top of Mrs. Pruneface's bed. I bet that's the most action that's happened in that bed has had since the Taft administration, am I right, huh huh? Seriously, this thing goes on for another six or seven panels of Cap saying "No, this is your end!" and the croc shouting back, "No, this is your end!" Stan Lee: definitely not being paid by the word.

But watch out! Cap hits the amoral amphibian with his specially patented "sleeper punch," which apparently involves standing with your boots five feet apart. Then Bucky pulls off the rubber mask to reveal it was the plantation's gardener all along, trying to frighten everyone off so he could get himself those secret hidden Confederate jewels! It's only one "And I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for you meddling superheroes!" away from being an episode of Scooby-Doo '42.

He wasn't the first superhero to fight an evil crocodile, and he won't be the last. But you definitely must agree...Captain America fought a evil crocodile..

Play us off, Elton John and the Electric Mayhem!

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 55

Warriors Three #1
Page from Warriors Three #1 (January 2011), script by Bill Willingham, pencils by Neil Edwards, inks by Scott Hanna, colors by Frank Martin, letters by Clayton Cowles

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What's in the box?

What's in the box?

Panels from Justice League of America #62 (May 1968), script by Gardner Fox, pencils by Mike Sekowsky, inks by George Roussos

What's in the box?

What's in the box?

What's in the box?





What, you were expecting Gwyneth Paltrow?

Oh, there she is.

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 54

Marvel Spotlight #30
Panels from Marvel Spotlight #30 (October 1976 ), script by Len Wein, breakdowns by John Buscema, inks by Joe Sinnott, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Joe Rosen

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Presidents in Comic Books #7: Andrew Jackson

It's February again, so you know what that means...time to start up again with my Presidents in Comic Books series, the posts that were so good I had to take a full year off to research them before I continued! Also known as, "I forgot to keep doing them."

Tonight! a solitary but stunning comic book appearance that will definitely delight the good folks who are fans of the popular blog Old Hickory Highlights...America's seventh President, a guy I forgot to do the first time around, Andrew Jackson! Now, you may remember him for reducing the federal deficit to a mere $33,000 (yay!), or who legislated Indian removal, pushing Native Americans out of their land and driving them into the west (boo!), but you won't find him in too many comic books. Sure, you might think he would team up with the Flash on one of the Scarlet Speedster's trips through time, or be the vital clue in a series of mysterious thefts by the Riddler to be cracked by the Batman, or to be the real guy inside the Iron Man armor when both Tony Stark and Iron Man show up at a public benefit for gorgeous Russian ex-spies. But I did find one appearance of Andrew (Mr. Jackson if you're nasty) in superhero comics, and altho' he replaces one of my favorite characters, you've gotta admit he's one of the kick-assingest Prezzes teaming up with a top-name superteam ever:

Page from Wha...Huh? one-shot (2005), script by Mark Millar, pencils and inks by Jim Mahfood, colors by Shaughn Struble, letters by Chris Eliopoulos

There are many famous Presidential quotes:
"You can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time."
"Speak softly and carry a big stick."
Don't forget about
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself."
Not to mention
"Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall."
But to those momentous proclamations we can now add this direct quotation from the mouth of our seventh President, Andrew Jackson:

"It's clobberin' time!"

Not to mention, it'd sure make Marvel Two-in-One a real interestin' comic, right?

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 53

Panel from Thor #294 (April 1980), script by Roy Thomas, pencils by Keith Pollard, inks by Chic Stone, colors by Carl Gafford, letters by Joe Rosen, with special thanks and a giant Asgard-encrusted Bull-Prize to Chris K. for identifying the panel!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Little Cool Things: A Sometimes Snack

No, I don't mean little cool things like me.

(Tho' I am small, and I am awesome.)

No, I'm talking about little cool things in comics. Superhero comic books usually focus on the big: the boistrous, the loud, the bombastic—super-guys getting punched through buildings, massive tidal waves sweeping towards a costal city, asteroids plunging out of the sky, galaxies exploding. But every once in a while you have to stop and eat smell the roses: focus past the spandex unstable-molecule clad supes to the background and spy a small detail placed there by the artist: one that isn't integral to the plot but which is a delightful little bit of stage dressing.

Here's a page from the good old days when Peter Parker, his aunt, and his soon-to-be forgotten wife lived in Avengers Tower in mid-town Manhattan, where Aunt May had a romance with Edwin Jarvis (hopefully before he was replaced by a Skrull) and the bottom of the Civil War crossover market hadn't yet fallen.

Page from I ♥ Marvel: Web of Romance one-shot (April 2006), script by Tom Beland, pencils by Cory Walker, inks by Cliff Rathburn, colors by Matt Milla, letters by Dave Sharpe

Granted, not the most action-heavy of pages (it is a beautiful little love tale between Peter and Mary Jane...ya know, the kind Joe Quesada said didn't make interesting storytelling), but your eye is drawn to the bright red and blue of Spidey and his movement...wait a minute, what is he swinging from in the first panel? The Goodyear Blimp?

Anyway, my point, and I do have one, is the first and only appearance of one of the coolest background props and an item I want to have my very very self:

The Iron Man golden armor cookie jar!

That thing is a cute as a snickerdoodle.

So, what have we learned? To make sure you check the details for the little fun things in comic book panels. Also: that Tony Stark has a cookie jar of himself. That could not be more awesome.

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 52

Thor: The Truth of History
Panels from Thor: The Truth of History one-shot (December 2008), script and pencils by Alan Davis, inks by Mark Farmer, colors by Rob Schwager, letters by Joe Caramagna

Sunday, February 20, 2011

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 51

Thor #278
Panel from Thor #278 (December 1978), script by Roy Thomas, breakdowns by John Buscema, finishes by Chic Stone, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Joe Rosen