Saturday, November 10, 2012

Today in Comics History: John Marais has four small Cokes from the hotel minibar

Panel from Fairest #7 (November 2012), script by Lilah Sturges; pencils, inks and colors by Shawn McManus; letters by Todd Klein

Same Story, Different Cover: Workin' on our knight moves

Left: Tales of Suspense v.1 #73 (January 1966), pencils by Gene Colan, inks by Jack Abel, letters by Sam Rosen
Right: Marvel Super-Heroes #28 (October 1970), pencils by Marie Severin, inks by Bill Everett, letters by Sam Rosen

(Click picture to paladin-size)

Today in Comics History: Jon Osterman finally gets up the nerve

Panel from Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1 (October 2012), script by J. Michael Straczynski, pencils and inks by Adam Hughes, colors by Laura Martin, letters by Steve Wands

Today in Comics History: Best episode of Kitchen Nightmares ever

Panel from Watchmen #4 (December 1986), script by Alan Moore; pencils, inks and letters by Dave Gibbons; colors by John Higgins

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 315

Panel from "Guided Tour: The Batcave" in Batman Secret Files #1 (October 1997), script and pencils by Graham Nolan, inks by Bob McLeod, colors by Tom McCraw, letters by Albert DeGuzman

More Cow/Bull Month, Day 10: Ghost Rider begins to regret eating all those cheeseburgers

Panel from The Champions #11 (February 1977), script by Bill Mantlo, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Bob Layton, colors by Don Warfield, letters by Bruce Patterson

Friday, November 09, 2012

James Bond Lives Down Our Street

Happy James Bond Day! That is, of course, because the twenty-third 007 movie, Skyfall, premiered today in the US. I was of course there to see it at the afternoon matinee, and wow, what a thrill ride it is! I'm honor-bond by the code of the British Ministry of Spoilers not to reveal the startling beginning, middle or ending to you, but I will let you know Daniel Craig says this in the movie:

But so much for good James Bond adventures...let's focus on one of 007's...shall we say...lesser cases, and it may not be totally new to you, as I covered it in one of my most popular posts ever, Fifteen Things You Never Knew About James Bond. It's from one of those absolutely insane Indian Bond comic books, and it goes a little something like adventure Ian Fleming probably would have titled something lyrical like The Golden Dragons or Misfortune Comes Alone but this comic book creators have called...

from James Bond: Chinese Riddle (1988), creators unknown, published by Everest Publications/SP Ramanathan, Madras, India

Yes, everything looks eminently Chinese about that cover.

It opens just like every James Bond adventure ever...if you ignore the thrilling, exciting, edge-of-your-seat stunt-stuffed (please do not attempt to say that three times fast) pre-credits opening...with 007 meeting M at MI-6 headquarters. M kindly points out where China is on the map in case Bond, and indeed the audience, didn't know. And now we do! China is there.

Something secret is going on, and by gosh, Her Majesty's Secret Service doesn't like that! Me, I'd just suggest they get the News of the World to bug some phones, but instead, James Bond will go to China and relieve himself. (Wait, what?)

Bond hops on an airplane without noticing where it is going! Luckily it's heading in the right direction. Hey, why isn't he flying in first class up front? Do you suppose he got the middle seat between a fat tourist and a crying baby? Do you think he got a choice of beef or chicken? What was the in-flight movie? I bet it was Tin Cup. It's always Tin Cup. Bond loves Kevin Costner.

Immediately upon checking into his hotel, a big strong guy comes and starts to wreck the place! Really, it's Bond's own fault for asking for the "Wrecking Suite" when he checked in.

...and, it just pretty much goes on like that for a whole page. Guy walks into Bond's room, wrecks the place, walks out. Bond stands back and watches him do it. Oh no! He even wrecked the minibar and everything in it! That will cost Bond approximately £78,000 in smashed honey-roasted peanuts and four-ounce cans of Coke.

Enter the sexy Chinese room service attendant! And Bond doesn't even make one move to seduce her! She, of course, isn't thrown or startling by the extensive damage to the room, as this hotel is regularly host to the Who and the Rolling Stones.

Later, she shows up again as a fellow secret agent! Great disguise!

Then, some of that patented James Bond double-entendre dialogue occurs.

What's-er-name flies 007 to the mysterious island of the evil Dr. Saviz! (Trust me on this one.) Bond is still not certain whether to trust her. In a Bond movie or novel this would be an excellent chance for him to seduce her now...

...instead, he takes a nap. Who's playing Bond in this version? Sean Connery in 2012? Luckily, they are only turning. They are not crashing.

Then, they crash.

ACTION SEQUENCE! For a panel, at least.

Bond and Tsu-Chai (oh, that's her name!) are taken captive by the evil Dr. Saviz, who is building killer robots. Bond, as usual, after seeing the robot explode into gears and electronics and being told he is a robot, asks the logical question: "Is he a robot?" Fast on the uptake, our Bond is.

It isn't a 007 story without a long pause for the villain to explain his deadly and devious evil plot, which in this case seems to involve making soldiers be robots so that no one need truly die during warfare and...hey, wait, he's a great benefactor towards mankind! He has not thought out his evil plan very well. Perhaps this is why S.P.E.C.T.R.E.* rejected his evil application for evil membership.

Time for James Percival Bond to snap into action, to stop this terrible plot against all the nations of the free world and save Britain from the terrible threat of...oh, wait, the robots are blowing up by themselves.

It's Tsu-Chai! Sheblew up the robots. Or, in other words, James Bond has done nothing in this adventure. I sure hope the story doesn't try to tell us that he saved the world.


Movie James Bond ends a film in bed with a woman. Indian comic book James bond winds up being shipped back to London in the cargo hold of a 747.

Roll credits, recue Top Ten theme tune, display JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN FOR YOUR VINDALOO ONLY.

And hey, here he is returning already! Naw, I just can't resist the following two panels that perfectly sum up Indian comic book James Bond. In the first panel, 007 poses as a journalist and phones up a glamorous actress to try and gain her confidence, using a false and not-all-together-convincing name...

from James Bond: Death of a Spy (1988), creators unknown, published by Everest Publications/SP Ramanathan, Madras, India

And in the very next panel, she calls Bond by his real name. THE WORLD'S GREATEST SECRET AGENT, ladies and gentlemen!

That, ladies and gentlemen, is Indian comic book James Bond...perhaps the greatest Bond of them all. Nobody** does it better! Play us off, Indian James Bond Theme!

*Society for the Protection of Evil Conquerors, Thugs, Really-Bad-Guys and Evil-No-Goodniks

**Actually, almost everybody does it better.

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 314

Panels from Batman: The Lost Years #1 (January 1998), script by Hillary Bader, pencils by Bo Hampton, inks by Terry Beatty, colors by Lee Loughridge, letters by Tim Harkins

More Cow/Bull Month, Day 9: Cow is beginning to wish she'd stayed in Wisconsin

Panel from Dark Reign: The List: Hulk one-shot (December 2009), script by Greg Pak, pencils and inks by Ben Oliver, colors by Veronica Gandin, letters by Simon Bowland

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Today in Comics History: Batman enjoys doing pencil puzzlers

Panels from "The Vampire of Steel" in World's Finest Comics #249 (February-March 1978), script by Bob Haney, pencils by Kurt Schaffenberger, inks by Tex Blaisdell, colors by Michele Wolfman, letters by Ben Oda

Q: How do you make Veronica Lodge mad?


Panels from Cheryl Blossom Special #1 (1995), script and pencils by Dan Parent, inks by Mike Esposito, colors by Barry Grossman, letters by Bill Yoshida

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 313

Panel from "Death Strikes at Midnight and Three" in DC Special Series #15 (Summer 1978), script by Denny O'Neil, pencils and inks by Marshall Rogers

More Cow/Bull Month, Day 8: In other news, Mrs. Dish and her children were cruelly abandoned by her husband

Panels from "The Case of the Mother Goose Mystery" in World's Finest Comics #83 (July-August 1956), script by Bill Finger, pencils by Dick Sprang, inks by Stan Kaye

Today in Comics History, November 8: Judy has the dream about the unicycling clowns and the giant mice with the ham sausages again

cover of Weird War Tales v.1 #2 (DC, November 1971), pencils and inks by Joe Kubert, letters by Gaspar Saladino

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

I don't have a post for you tonight... here is a Batman tortilla chip.

from Batman Collected, photograph by Geoff Spear (November 1996)

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 312

House ad from Detective Comics #438 (December 1973-January 1974)

More Cow/Bull Month, Day 7: Steers come runnin' for the great taste of opium

Panel from American Century #24 (July 2003), script by Howard Chaykin and David Tischman, pencils and inks by John Severin, colors by Sheri Van Valkenburgh and Jamison, letters by John Costanza

Today in Comics History: Laika objects to her dumb nickname

Panel from Super 8, contained inside Batman Beyond #6 (August 2011), and here's the credits for that thing mainly because I refuse to type out the words "creative consultant" that many times

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

What's in love is now in debt on your birth certificate

Gosh! Since you ask so nicely, Mister Trump, here you go!

Panels from Web of Spider-Man v.1 #19 (October 1986), script by David Michelinie, pencils by Marc Silvestri, inks by Bob McLeod, colors by Nel Yomtov, letters by Rick Parker

There you go! He's an American citizen, so please stop "bugging" him. (Haw!)

Comics News for November 6, 2012

Don't be like Ambush Bug!

Panels from Ambush Bug Nothing Special one-shot (September 1992); plot and pencils by Keith Giffen, script by Robert Loren Fleming; inks by Al Gordon; colors by Anthony Tollin; letters by John Costanza

366 Days with Alfred Pennyworth, Day 311

Two-page pin-up from Detective Comics #607 (Late October 1989), painted art by Norm Breyfogle

More Cow/Bull Month, Day 6: Cows should not wear lipstick

Panels from "George Washington's Teeth!" in Herbie #8 (March 1965), script by Shane O'Shea, pencils and inks by Ogden Whitney, letters by Ed Hamilton

Monday, November 05, 2012

Nothing you could say can tear me away from my Guy

Hullo folks hullo! And especial greetings to all the people in the UK who are tonight carousing in the streets and burning things in huge piles! To you, I say...Seriously, folks, stop rioting! You missed your window of opportunity in 2011. Oh, and also there are people out celebrating Guy Fawkes Night, an English annual tradition of which I mainly know about thanks to More About Paddington (and why is that book out of print, HarperCollins? Shame, shame, shame!) Of course, I'm 100% behind any holiday which involves me going around to all the homes near my London abode of Bullingham Mansions...

...and getting pennies from people for the Guy. Hoorah!

Now, when you are a comic book fan and you think about Guy Fawkes, you probably think of this fella:

Panel from V for Vendetta #1 (September 1988), script by Alan Moore, pencils and inks by David Lloyd, colors by David Lloyd and Siobhan Dodds, letters by Jenny O'Connor

But actually I was thinking of a tale where national monuments of England don't get blown up, thanks to the helping hands of Superman!

Splash panel from "The Revenge That Took Three Hundred Years" in Superman #79 (November-December 1952), script by Alvin Schwartz, pencils and inks by Al Plastino

Of course, if you've ever been in London at this time of year you'll know how fictional this picture is because whether it's AM or PM, it's always dark at five o'clock. Also, I ask yet again: where do you find a green suit? The answer is clear: at a Savile Row tailor, perhaps the one distracted by those four rowdy mop-tops playing that loud "rock and roll" music on the rooftop across the way.

As we join our Superman adventure already in progress, things are going explodingly across England, as it does her at "Oxford College," not to be confused with any specific college at Oxford University. Boom! Plus: a clew!

Boom! goes the Earl of Wingate's manor (here's hoping the staff and the Earl's famous, prizewinning pig the Dutchess of Wingate were not in residence at the time) and the National Museum Project Birthplace is also attacked! On the grounds of each site of destruction is a cleverly worded warning, handily in the same handwriting not only as each other but as the story's captions! No wonder the letterer didn't get a credit on this story...he's a mad bomber!

A call goes out for the greatest investigator of Scotland Yard! Call Inspector Roderick Alleyn Commander George Gideon Assistant Commissioner Sir Ronald Vallance Detective Claud Eustace Teal Inspector Lestrade Lady Molly Robertson-Kirk DCI Jane Tennison Chief Inspector Neddie Seagoon Dim of the Yard Inspector Erskine Hawkins, Scotland Yard's only detective!

Derby-behatted, mustached Inspector Hawkins, like all British detectives, has many eccentric habits, altho' there's very little panel space devoted to them. I like to pretend he raises rare breeds of hamsters, has a flat in an abandoned London Underground Station, and enjoys cosplaying Thompson and Thomson.

Hawkins must solve the case in order to have a perfect record and win the prestigious and fictional Standish Award, given for not deducing Superman's identity! (Previous winners include Lex Luthor and Lois Lane, but this is an award that Muhammad Ali did not win!) That's why Hawkins is keeping a close eye on American correspondent Clark Kent! Luckily, as Clark knows, Hawkins is easily distracted by shiny, sparkling objects, not unlike your household kitten.

Londoners who lived through the Blitz are therefore not at all surprised to see a cyclone and a rainstorm drench Big Ben, putting out what must have been a Mission: Impossible-style burning fuse. Hooray for Superman? Say, where is the British version of Superman, Mildly Astonishing Man, doing during all of this? (Answer: Having his tea.)

In the days before the internet, Inspector Hawkins must personally call at the Weather Bureau to find out the facts behind the cyclone! And Superman must inconspicuously hang on the ledge outside the window where everyone can see him instead of just listening in with his super-hearing! Yes, it's an age without the world wide web, where fanboys can't write in and complain about Superman's action!

In a rare instance of accuracy, London Bridge is portrayed correctly and not as it usually is, as its down-the-river neighbo(u)r Tower Bridge. However, Superman's telescope-vision should have spotted what my little button eyes can see from the same panel: that the cars are driving on the right hand side of the road, rather than the left, which is right. I mean correct.

Pretty sharp-eyed of me, huh, readers? Now let's test your detecto-vision: can you see what's wrong in the first panel below? Ignore that cherry-red police automobile in the second panel, though. While you're looking at that first panel, I'll sum up the others: BOAT GONNA SINK!

Give up? Of course you don't, because you spotted it immediately: that newspaper's price should not read 5¢...England doesn't use the cent sign! (Five pence would have been expressed as 5d.)

You may also notice that the phone box Clark sneaks away into is A) not painted red B) with windows C) as large as a house and D) is not completely covered in naughty postcards ads.

Superman saves the day by cutting off an enormous iceberg with a convenient found piece of whalebone—too bad Superman doesnn't have super-hard fingernails or is able to shatter ice with his hands, huh?—and by plopping it into the sea right in the ship's path. Ummm, hate to tell you Superman, but as far as history tells us, that's not the way to save a ship, that's the proven way to sink a ship. Wow, no wonder Jack Dawson drowned and Kylie Minogue had to become an angel.

By detecting the anachronism in that newspaper earlier, you've proven yourself so smart that you could solve the case of the latter-day Guy Fawkes. So how about it? Just as Inspector Hawkins can solve the case from the clues, so to can you. I've shown you everything you need to solve the case. So, a they say on the telly: Match wits with Inspector Hawkins...and see if you can find out...whodunit!

Answer: it was the only suspect in the whole case. Why? Because he didn't have Wikipedia to look up the year that Guy Fawkes's original plot occurred (1605, not 1609, you illiterate crook!).

The question of why Hawkins didn't nab Roddy Greene the exact instant he made that "1609" mistake is left for conjecture and possibly Hawkins's disciplinary hearing. The only thing that matters is the same thing that matters at the end of every Superman story from the Silver Age: nobody knows Clark is Superman! Or, as the old poem goes:

Remember remember, the fifth of November
And that Brits use the penny, not cent
And please don't speak obscenity, about Superman's identity
Because he's just plain old Clark Kent.