Saturday, May 21, 2011

Same Rapture, Different Cover: I Want to Break Free

L: Fantastic Four #59 (February 1967), cover art by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott
R: Marvel Triple Action #3 (June 1972), cover art by Gil Kane and Vince Colletta

(Click picture to armageddisize)

Rapture of the Warriors Three, Day 141

Sometimes there's nothing to feel
Sometimes there's nothing to hold

Panel from Thor #128 (May 1966), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Sam Rosen

Sometimes there's no time to run away
Sometimes you just feel so old

The times it hurts when you cry
The times it hurts just to breathe

And then it all seems like there's no one left
And all you want is to sleep

Fight fight fight
Just push it away
Fight fight fight
Just push until it breaks
Fight fight fight
Don't cry at the pain
Fight fight fight
Or watch yourself burn again

Panel from Thor #351 (January 1985), script, pencils, and inks by Walt Simonson; colors by Christie Scheele; letters by John Workman

Fight fight fight
Don't howl like a dog
Fight fight
Just fill up the sky
Fight fight fight
Fight til you drop
Fight fight fight
And never never
Never stop

Superheroes Shamelessly Shilling Stuff Saturday: Elektra Locks

Panels from Master Lock Presents the Incredible Hulk one-shot (August 2003), script by Robin Laws, pencils by M. D. Bright, inks by Rick Perrotta, colors by Transparency Digital, letters by Randy Gentile and Dave Sharpe

Catch you on the flip side

Friday, May 20, 2011

It was at that moment that Count Dooku realized the Clone War was not going as well as he had hoped

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 140

Page from Thor #266 (December 1977), script by Len Wein, breakdowns by Walt Simonson, finishes by Tony DeZuniga, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Joe Rosen

Eight Arms to Hold You: Octopus Week, Day 5

Panel from "The Octopus Man" in Adventure Comics #259 (April 1959), pencils and inks by Ramona Fradon

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The 5,000 Hats of Jack Kirby: Jack's Favorite Customer

If you've ever been in a restaurant, diner, eatery or hash-house, take some time to look at the walls. No, past the chili splashed there because I was really, really hungry—look for a wall full of signed celebrity headshot photos given to the manager of the establishment singing the praises of its famous dishes like the Ritz Hotel's Peach Melba, the Waldorf Astoria's Waldorf Salad, Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans' Oysters Rockefeller, or Brooklyn's own Mr. Falafel's Little Stuffed Gyro.

You'll find the same sort of photos at bars ("Great drinks! — Dean Martin"), tailors ("Best suit I ever wore! — Tony Stark"), and even dry cleaners ("Thanks for getting out the bloodstains — Alfred Hitchcock").

But step inside The 5,000 Hats of Jack Kirby...

...and you'll only find one celebrity headshot on the wall, from Jack's most faithful and famous client:

Yes, Jack's number one customer is the All-Father, Lord of Asgard, Old One-Eye himself, Odin. Odin's been a patron of The 5,000 Hats of Jack Kirby for going on two or three mythological ages now, and the story goes that when Odin walks into the shop, Jack himself gets up from his drawing table to shake his hand and wait on the All-Father himself. Meanwhile, Roz takes Odin's ravens Hugin and Munin out back to the alley so they can get themselves some rats.

Legend has it that the different hats personally designed by Jack Kirby for Odin number into infinity, as Odin himself, like Jennifer Lopez, never wears the same outfit twice.

So speculation still continues: when you take into account all the fabulous headgear doffed by Lord Odin, should it be the 5,000 Hats of Jack Kirby or the Five Billion? Nobody knows except the King and the All-Father themselves, and they're not talking. We only have the clue from that episode of MTV Cribs where Thor showed off his dad's haberdashery closet, revealing it to be even so very much larger on the inside that The Doctor got a little jealous and stamped his foot, and pouted for a few weeks, just like Rose had taught him.

Let's take a look at Wotan's wimples now, shall we?


Here's a modest and demure little number Jack whipped up for Odin sometime in between Frost Giant War I and Frost Giant War II. This classic toque combines elements of primal design of the gods of the ancient Mayans and Aztecs (Mrs. Odin had them over for dinner on Wednesday nights, generally right before bowling) and the galactic legend of that renowned, nay, infamous asparagus-cooker, the Phoenix. The fact that on the morning he designed the hat, Jack had for breakfast a bowl of Kellogg's Corn Flakes, is probably mere coincidence.


Even before he lost one eye in that unfortunate incident of Loki's gag telescope, Odin enjoyed surveying far and wide beyond the boundaries of Asgard, tended by Heimdall, the Guardian of the Rainbow Bridge, and the Asgardian Border Patrol seeking to keep out all those illegal immigrant trolls intent on taking away good honest Asgardian jobs like boar-cooking, ax-making, and mopping up after Volstagg. Not only did he watch events occurring on Asgard, but also Alfheim, Jotenheim, Vanaheim, Anaheim, Narnia, Middle-Earth, Oz, Shangri-La, Gor (shh, don't tell Frigga) and Metropolis of the 31st Century, from where he got the inspiration for this dandy edifice hat from the clubhouse of a bunch of super-powered teens.


Odin's many activities and hobbies also include reading the myriad of books found in the Magnificent Library of Asgard and the slightly less magnificent Book-Cart of Svartalfheim, or purchased for a few fine pigs from his local branch of Balder and Noble. Here, Odin enjoys the signed, limited edition of Bossypants, which only goes to show: he's not just ruler of Asgard, he's got great taste in comedy.


Here, Odin pauses for a moment from picking wallpaper for the Rec Room to show Thor and Natalie Portman a magnificently designed helmet-and-armor combination. Jack designed this after watching a few episodes of Transformers, so not only does it look like a bird, but the armor and helmet fold up and transform Odin into a mechanical flying falcon, able to soar the highest skies of Asgard, to pierce the untouchable boundaries of the Nine Worlds, and to fly over Olympus to drop loogies on Zeus and Hercules.


During the Great Horned Helmet Craze that was all the rage throughout most of the fourteenth century, Loki looked to be an easy winner with his patented "You'll poke your eyes out" horned chapeau. Then Odin brought out the big guns. You can't best Odin, and the sons of the All-Father learned a valuable lesson that day. Then they all went to get iced-cream in Niffleheim, and play putt-putt golf until Loki got sick and threw up on the tenth hole.


Next year in Asgard was pretty much the same thing over again.


On the usual occasions when he and Frigga would have an argument, Odin would pack his old Troll War army bag and go stomping off to Don Blake's apartment in Manhattan, which required a more subtle hat designed by Jack to appear normal among the humans of Midgard. (He still could keep Pop-Tarts in it, though.) Odin slept on Blake's couch and persuaded Thor to take him at nights to singles bars, but all was well after Jane Foster arranged a blind date for Odin which turned out to be Frigga, and they danced to their favorite love song from their wedding reception and all was well, except for Loki's B-plot of refusing to move his car to the other side of the street for alternate parking. Heh heh heh! That's our Loki!


In the winter, every year, Odin offered to take Thor ice fishing with him and Fandral's dad and Volstagg's dad, but Thor preferred staying home and playing Grand Theft Asgard for hours at a time. "That boy of mine won't amount to anything," sighed Odin to his comrades as they huddled around the fishing hole in the ice on the frigid Sea of Fear, kept warm in his Kirby-designed combination polar fleece hat and bathmat. "Eh, don't fret, Odin," said Volstagg Sr., slapping him on the back. "My boy's going to grow up to be a skinny little twig. Won't eat a thing you put in front of him."

"I think my son's gay," confessed Fandral Sr. quietly.


Odin, as Snorri Sturlson, the ancient Norse myths, and the songs of the bards tell us, never missed an episode of CSI: Miami, so his instruction to Kirby to create him a hat that was also a television (with adjustable aerial antennae) was fairly understandable, even though the lightning storms, especially when Thor was just going into puberty, usually interfered with decent reception. On the same trip he also picked up this rather unusual mystical glove with transformation and regenerative powers. Picking up his clothes from the floor soon after his return from Midgard, Frigga enquired where her husband had obtained the strange gauntlet. "Oh, just some police officer," Odin said quickly. "Sar...Sal Pezzini in NYPD homicide. We were in 'Nam together."

That's only a handful (or headful, if you're The Lernaean Hydra) of Odin's hats designed and created for him by one of the few mortals he had the highest of regard for, Jack Kirby. (Also, for some reason, comedian/actor Jamie Foxx.) Everyone in Asgard knew Odin's hats were special and dear to him, and Loki and Thor were often warned that the hats not to be touched or taken from Odin's wardrobe, under penalty of a severe All-Father-Spanking. In his later years, however, Mrs. Odin began to sneak several of the infrequently worn hats into jumble sales and charity shops. "He's got so many of them," she complained, "he'll never even notice. Why, he hasn't worn this one since he fought Mangog, The Sum Total of the Hatred of a Billion Billion Beings." That's why, occasionally you'll find one of Odin's hats on Midgard, in a garage sale or flea market—check the price and act casual, because usually the dealer doesn't know what he's got there, and you can get away with it for fifty bucks and double your money on eBay the next day.

And occasionally—not often—you'll even see a mere mortal wearing one of Odin's castoff Jack Kirby hats.


365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 139

Panel from Thor #162 (March 1969), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Sam Rosen

Eight Arms to Hold You: Octopus Week, Day 4

Panel from "Deep Sea Lair of the Murdering Octopus*" in Human Torch #36 (April 1954), pencils and inks by Bob Powell

*You can't say you didn't get what was advertised.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Maybe he should change his name to "Murder-Man."

I can't think of too many superhero origins that involve the protagonist actively murdering his animal totem, can you?

And then I read Tiger-Man #1.

Panel from Tiger-Man #1 (Atlas/Seaboard, April 1975), script by Gabriel Levy; pencils and inks by Ernie Colon, with Leroy lettering

It was all in a fit of adrenaline-fueled rage brought on by a dangerous experimental serum. Yeah, he killed a tiger. So what?!


Um...well, at least that should end this horrible cycle of murderous violence, right?

And he did, too!

Tiger-Man! Giving kids of the mid-seventies a brand-new hero...with the super-power of murder! Thanks, Atlas/Seaboard!

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 138

Panels from Tales to Astonish #101 (March 1968), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Marie Severin, inks by Frank Giacoia, letters by Sam Rosen

Eight Arms to Hold You: Octopus Week, Day 3

Panel from Sea Devils #1 (September-October 1961), script by Robert Kanigher, pencils and inks by Russ Heath

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Bully's Classics Illustrated: Macbeth

The World's Finest Literature retold by a little stuffed bull, with a Happy Ending™ always guaranteed!

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 137

Panels from Thor #371 (September 1986), script by Walt Simonson, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Bret Blevins, colors by Christie Scheele, letters by John Workman, Jr.

Eight Arms to Hold You: Octopus Week, Day 2

Panel from Four Color #360 (November-December 1951), art and letters by John Carey

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Zen of Batman: Greed

from Batman "Marsha's Scheme of Diamonds" (November 24, 1966), written by Stanford Sherman

365 Days with the Warriors Three, Day 136

Page from Thor #601 (June 2009), script by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils by Marko Djurdjevic, inks by Danny Miki, colors by Paul Mounts, letters by Chris Eliopoulos

Eight Arms to Hold You: Octopus Week, Day 1

The Mid-Day Matinee this week, all week: Eight Arms to Hold You! So, sit back, put up your feet...and the other pair...and the other pair...and that last pair...and enjoy Octopus Week! Remember: no squid will be admitted after the strike of noon on each day!

Panels from "Inside the Tunnel" in World of Fantasy #2 (July 1956), art by Al WIlliamson

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ten Fourteen of a Kind and Today in Comics History, May 15: It seems the artichoke is steamed

On this very day in 1856, 155 years ago, long before me or you were born (well, me at least), was born L. Frank Baum, the very first (but never the last) Royal Historian of Oz. Presenting the premiere Oz adventure in 1900 with the classic The Wizard of Oz, Baum produced 14 Oz novels plus several dozen other books, poems, stories, and plays, as well as becoming a movie studio owner, producer, and screenwriter. You may never have heard of Gerald Winston Bey, Louise Merrick, Elizabeth De Graf, and Patsy Doyle, Phil and Phoebe Daring, King Bud, Rob Joslyn, or Prince Zingle, all characters from his non-Oz books—but you probably know Dorothy Gale, her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry, the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion, the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda, the Good Witch, and the humbug Wizard of Oz. You might not know the Gump, Professor Wogglebug, the Hungry Tiger, Tik-Tok, the Woozy, Button-Bright, the Nome King, the Frogman, Cap'n Bill and Trot, Bungle the Glass Cat, Scraps the Patchwork Girl, the Shaggy Man, Billina the Hen, or Professor H. M. Woggle-Bug, T.E.—all characters created by Baum in later Oz novels, among some of the great fantasy characters of childrens' literature. Baum wrote fourteen Oz books (other authors continue the series from 1920 through today)—set's celebrate Baum's Oziversary with a Ten of a Kind that features fourteen comic book covers referencing, celebrating, or homaging that magical, rectangular, five-colored country called Oz.

Whoa, wait just one yellow-bricked minute there! I haven't ever seen a Marvel Treasury version of Ozma of Oz...and neither have you? It was never published, although it was advertised in Marvel's adaptation of the second Oz book, The Land of Oz:

This book, sadly, belongs, like Jack Kirby's The New Gods #12-300, 'Mazing Man #13-50, NextWave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #13-200, The All-New Atom #26-1,000,000, or Thor the Mighty Avenger #9-12, to the Pantheon of Comics Cancelled Before Their Time. You can find the story behind the cancellation of the fully-completed Ozma of Oz in an Oz discussion forum with contributions by good Bully-Pal Eric Gjovaag and some authoritative discussion by Oz scholar, artist, and writer Eric Shanower.

What? You want more Oz-related comic booky goodness? Well, then check your common sense and canon at the door (don't lose your claim ticket!) and cast your peepers at the The World's Greatest Super Friends stranded on "The Planet of Oz"!

The World's Greatest Super Friends "The Planet of Oz" (November 10, 1979), written by Jeffrey Scott

Oooooooookay. Anyway, Happy Birthday to the very first Royal Historian of Oz, Mr. L. Frank Baum! And may your journeys always end with a happy return home!

Want more posts about Oz? Sure, we all do! See this one about Captain Carrot in Oz. And here's a page of Eric Shanower's Oz-Pastiches of famous comic book illustrators! And wouldja believe...Ben Grimm in Oz?

(More Ten of a Kind here.)