Saturday, September 15, 2012

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 259

Panel from Batman: Reign of Terror one-shot (December 1998), script by Mike W. Barr, pencils and inks by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, colors by Noelle Giddings, color separations by Todd Klein, letters by Todd Klein

Friday, September 14, 2012

The "S" in SPX stands for "stuffed," right?

I'm off to SPX!

with a tip o' the little stuffed bull to Jaime Hernandez and Ming Doyle for repurposing their artwork

I'll be in Bethesda on Saturday, so if you see me scuttling about underfoot, stop and say "hi hi hi!" (And please dont' step on me. I'm quite small.)

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 258

Panel from "Don't Bogart that Grape...Hand Me the Gas Pump!" in DC Challenge #7 (May 1986), script by Paul Kupperberg, pencils by Joe Staton, inks by Steve Mitchell, colors by Carl Gafford, letters by John Costanza

Today in Comics History, September 14: Guy Gardner's health insurance runs out

from JLA: Classified #6 (DC, June 2005), script by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis, pencils by Kevin Maguire, inks by Joe Rubinstein, colors by David Baron, letters by Bob Lappan

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Professor X Is a Jerk!: Nothing's more fun than flipping off the Reaper

Hey, look! I promised you a sequel to last night's post and I'm actually doing it on the following night (pause for hoopla and jubilation, horns, swanee whistles and kazoos). So, as I was saying, Professor X is dead! (Good.)

Panel from [Uncanny] X-Men #138 (October 1980), co-plot and script by Chris Claremont, co-plot and pencils by John Byrne, inks by Terry Austin, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Tom Orzechowski

As you know, the X-Men were all torn up about this. Literally!

Cover of [Uncanny] X-Men #46 (July 1968), pencils by Don Heck, inks by John Verpoorten (?) or John Tartaglione (?)

But how did the hordes of the M.M.M.S. (Mighty Mutant Maiming Society) out there in Marvel Fandom respond? Well, just the way they always did: by sending cordial, supportive letters!

Letter printed in [Uncanny] X-Men Annual #5 (1980)

Whoops, that was from much later. Here's a real letter reacting to the death of Professor Xavier, Ph.J. (Doctorate of Jerkdom):

Letter printed in [Uncanny] X-Men #46 (July 1968)

Oh, for Pete's sake. Please spare us. Anyway, he is not only merely dead, he is most sincerely dead. (And a jerk.) Say, Roy Thomas, why did you kill off Professor X? Not that we're blaming you.

from The X-Men Companion I (March 1983, Fantagraphics*); Roy Thomas interviewed by Peter Sanderson

Ah, well, that's a good enough reason. The X-Men wasn't selling. Well, since X-Men never doesn't sell well these days, then there is obviously no reason that Marvel would ever need to kill off Professor X today! You're safe, Xavier! (Ya jerk.)

So, about fifty issues and ten years later, by the time that the X-Men franchise had become, as Kurt Wagner would say, über-popular (and yet still only consisted of a single monthly book), we've got this scene:

Panels from [Uncanny] X-Men #129 (January 1980), co-plot and script by Chris Claremont, co-plot and pencils by John Byrne, inks by Terry Austin, colors by Bob Sharen, letters by Tom Orzechowski

Reacting to that scene, here's a letter printed in a few months later in X-Men:

Letter printed in [Uncanny] X-Men #135 (July 1980)

What th--?!? They brought that jerk back? (frantically riffling through my late-sixties X-Mens)

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

Wow, he came back from the dead so hard he's glowing. And, judging from the speed lines around his skull, he's been spending some time in Japan! But can we explain the death and resurrection of Professor Charles Francis Susan Xavier? With a little bit of Marvel magic, that's how!

Now get this: it wasn't Xavier who died! Instead, he went into hiding while another mutant impersonated him at his instruction and then later died! (Jerk.) That mutant was...the Changeling! Well, tho' a jerky move, who can blame Xavier? Who wouldn't wish for Changeling's prolonged and painful death, huh?

Panels from The New Teen Titans v.1 #40 (March 1984); co-plot and script by Marv Wolfman; co-plot and pencils by George Pérez; inks by Romeo Tanghal and George Pérez; colors by Adrienne Roy; letters by Bob Lappan

So, just how much of a (looking in my thesaurus for a synonym to the word jerk so I don't use it too much)...blockhead, dolt, donkey, dope, dunce, fool, idiot, imbecile, jackass, nitwit, numbskull, simpleton, Chuck Xavier? He made Marvel Girl keep the fact that he was substituting the Changeling and faking his death a secret! Wow, that's a lot of responsibility for the unstable mind of Miss Jean Grey. And of course every panel between the death and the return of Xavier supports that plot device, right?

So, remember when they told us this on the cover of #42, the ish where Xavier died?

Yeah, it pretty much was a hoax. Thanks...jerk.

And then, he pretended to die again in the same issue, just to get sympathy.

Luckily, at least one of the X-Men started to speak up about what a jerk Professor Xavier is. And that X-Man is...Cyclops Marvel Girl Beast Angel...Iceman?

Panel from X-Men: The Hidden Years #1 (December 1999); script, pencils, and letters by John Byrne; inks by Tom Palmer; colors by Greg Wright

Anyway, after all that, Professor X probably will start acting nicer again now, right? Dying seems to do that to you. Pleasant and kind, that's our Chuck now!

Or maybe not.

So, once again we have a jerk at the helm of the Xavier's School for Gifted and Gullible Youngsters. Things would not change until many years later, when the X-Men got a pleasant change by installing terrorist and mass-murderer Magneto as the headmaster. Everybody liked him a lot and boy, was he good at helping you drop a new engine block into your car!

In conclusion: Professor Xavier was a jerk who died, then he was a jerk who came back. And I think we can all agree that story was so definitive and classic that Marvel will never try to duplicate its startling success ability to cancel the X-Men comic book, ever again. Professor X will never die!

Depressing, ain't it? But there's a lesson to be learned. Let is never forget...that Professor X is a jerk.

Panel from Uncanny X-Men #443 (Late June 2004), script by Chuck Austen, pencils by Salvador Larroca, inks by Danny Miki, colors by Udon, letters by Rus Wooton

*Yes, Fantagraphics....I know! The mind boggles, don't it?

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 257

Panels from Batman: Gotham After Midnight #3 (September 2008), script by Steve Niles, pencils and inks by Kelley Jones, colors by Michelle Madsen, letters by Pat Brosseau

Today in Comics History, September 13: Commissioner Loeb's Talking Door finally arrives

from Batman #407 (DC, May 1987), script by Frank Miller, pencils and inks by David Mazzucchelli, colors by Richmond Lewis, letters by Todd Klein

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Today in Comics History, September 12, 1972: First meeting of the Justice Club (Green Arrow Catchers)

from "Killer in the Smog!" in Detective Comics #433 (DC, March 1973), script by Frank Robbins, pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Dick Giordano, letters by Ben Oda

Professor X Is a Jerk!: R.I.P. (Really Inhuman, Professor)

Professor X is dead! A dead jerk, mind you. But still: D-E-A-D! And that rhymes with P and that stands for "Professor" and that all means jerk. The fun happens in 1968's way-out, groovy, psycho-jerkular X-Men #42, a story so chilling and shattering that Marvel Comics will never dare try this stunt again. Never, I tell you!

Cover of [Uncanny] X-Men #42 (March 1968), pencils and inks by John Buscema and John Verpoorten [Iceman head]

Well, as we like to say in both the comic book industry and the Mafia's cover-up municipal sanitation businesses: good riddance to bad rubbish. Now, take note of part of that banner at the bottom there:

We'll be comin' back to that later. In the meantime, just how did the late Professor Jerkavier die? I believe he may have been murdered by his own rogue eyebrows, but that's only my opinion.

Panel from [Uncanny] X-Men #42 (March 1968), script by Roy Thomas, pencils by Don Heck, inks by George Tuska, letters by Sam Rosen

Geez! Even when he's dyin', he's being a...well, you know what he is. And he's such a drama queen! Get on with it, Xavier!

And so, with heavy hearts and a dead cueball in their arms, the X-Men step over the boot of Miscolored Captain America and head for the mortuary, where they will be given the choice to burn him, bury him, or dump him.

All history is revisionist (says Dr. Sam Beckett), so it's perhaps not surprising that the X-Men choose to remember their ex-X not as the jerk he was, but as a fine, upstanding sitdowning man. And sure, why wouldn't they, when Professor X had mental powers that could reprogram their brains to not only love him, but also to love the brussels sprouts that he insisted they eat at every meal, all because of his foolish investment during the early sixties in a hydroponic brussels sprout farm? (He also bet that the Mets would sweep the '62 season and that the Beatles assassinated John F. Kennedy.) Why, even the unique opportunity of having a native of the planet Vulcan could not keep the X-Men from being sad at Xavier's burial, and as we all know, Vulcans put the "fun" in "funeral." Also: the "eral."

Panel from [Uncanny] X-Men #43 (April 1968), script by Roy Thomas, pencils by George Tuska, inks by John Tartaglione, letters by Sam Rosen

They're so upset, they can't even riff MST3K-style on the Professor's hilarious "Wacky Video Will" that is projected upon Jean's dressing room table. Oh, wait, so now we're learning that Xavier had a deadly disease from which he died, and it wasn't being squashed by a freakin' monster that did the happy deed. Yeah, I can tell you Exactly what disease Professor X had: you can find it in DSM-1, and it beings with the letter J and ends with the letter K. (And no, it's not jabberwock.)

Then, the X-Men bury him in a miniature Washington Monument, because the Professor was always so fond of that elebaorate and intricate piece of architecture.

Panel from [Uncanny] X-Men #46 (July 1968), script by Gary Friedrich, layouts by Don Heck, pencils by Werner Roth, inks by John Tartaglione, letters by Artie Simek

Well! Case close, end of story, happy endings all around for everybody! Ding dong, the Wicked X is dead! Say, how does the death of America's Top Mutant affect other people aside from the X-Men? Well, we can see nobody else came to the funeral—not the Avengers, not the Fantastic Four, not even Forbush-Man. And yet, everybody went to The Sentry's graveside and old campfire stories about how he was the greatestest Superhero in a million billion worlds. So there, Professor! Could this be true: could nobody 'cept the X-Men mourns him? Fir the answer to that question, let's peep in on Xavier's nobly grudging antagonist, fellow Nazi-kicker and former bestest pal Erik Max Eisenhardt Lehnsherr Magnus Aubrey Magneto!

Panel from [Uncanny] X-Men #43

(Bonus: extra-special value-added Magneto is out of his freakin' skull panel!):

Say, did anyone remember to notify the next-of-kin?

Panels from [Uncanny] X-Men #46


Yep, Professor X is dead, dead, dead, and nobody really minds it, 'coz he's a jerk. We leave the X-Men pining away, mourning their leader, and wishing for ice cream (aw, c'mon, you know they are).

Tomorrow: Part Two of our thrilling examination of the Death of Professor X, an event so unique, startling, and uncanny that it will never happen again in the whole of Marvel Universe history! Never, do you hear me??? Also: we'll continue telling you what a jerk he is. Y'all come back now, y'hear?

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 256

Panels from The Batman of Arkham one-shot (June 2000), script by Alan Grant, pencils and inks by Enrique Alcatena, colors by Noelle Giddings, color separations by Heroic Age, letters by John Costanza

Today in Comics History, September 12: Cobra Bubbles arrives in Commissioner Gordon's office

from Batman #407 (DC, May 1987), script by Frank Miller, pencils and inks by David Mazzucchelli, colors by Richmond Lewis, letters by Todd Klein

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Today in Comics History, September 11, 18XX: I do not have a snarky comment for this one.

from "At the Mercy of Wolf Waco!" in The Rawhide Kid #18 (Marvel/Atlas, October 1960), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Dick Ayers, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek

Today in Comics History, September 11: Giant Batman and Robin leap from Earth to Saturn

from "Young Justice: Common Denominators" in DC Nation Free Comic Book Super Sampler 2012 one-shot (May 2012), script by Kevin Hopps and Greg Weisman, pencils and inks by Christopher Jones, colors by Zak Atkinson, letters by Dezi Sienty

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 255

Panel from Batman: Death Mask #1 (June 2008), script, pencils, and inks by Yoshinori Natsume; translation by Sheldon Drzka; letters by Rob Leigh


from Preacher #5 (DC/Vertigo, August 1995), script by Garth Ennis, pencils and inks by Steve Dillon, colors by Matt Hollingsworth, letters by Clem Robins

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quite possibly the worst magic act ever

Panels from "The Conjurer's Case" in World's Finest Comics #4 (Winter 1942); script, pencils, inks and letters by Henry Boltinoff

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 254

Page from Batgirl v.1 #45 (December 2003), script by Dylan Horrocks, pencils by Rick Leonardi, inks by Jesse Delperdang, colors by Jason Wright, letters by Clem Robins

Today in Comics History: The popular WWII program "Kick a Nazi in the Crotch to Support Our Boys Overseas" is invented

from Armageddon: The Alien Agenda #4 (DC, February 1992), script by Jonathan Peterson, pencils by Dick Giordano, inks by Steve Mitchell, colors by Tom McCraw, letters by Albert DeGuzman