Saturday, January 25, 2014

Today in Comic History, January 25, 1759: My heart's in the Highlands, but my feet are in Brooklyn

This post was updated on January 25, 2022.

Hoot mon! 'Tis that time o' year when we dust off the bagpipes, step into our kilts, deep-fry our Mars Bars, defrost the Trader Angus's Ready-in-a-Bag Haggis, and raise a hearty toast of Glenmorangie to Burns!

Panels from "Mr. Burns to the Rescue" in Simpsons One-Shot Wonders: Mr. Burns (June 2013), script by Nathan Kane, pencils by Tone Rodriguez, inks by Andrew Pepoy, colors by Art Villanueva, lLetters by Karen Bates

Wait, wait, no no no, I've made another one of my silly mistakes. Not that Mr. Burns, this Mr. Burns...Robert Burns, born on this day in 1759!

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 25: The Psycho-Man's Murder Machine

There are certain devices we use constantly in our everyday lives whose purpose is completely detectable by their names. A vegetable peeler peels vegetables. A tire pressure gauge gauges tire pressure. A Batmobile mobiles bats. It's all pretty simple, and occasionally a piece of KirbyTech falls under the same criteria: it is, pretty much, what it says on the tin. You don't have to read the user reviews on Amazon for the Ultimate Nullifier to get an idea of what it does. (Nullifies, ultimately.) Such is the case with that device whose name defines its purpose: The Murder Machine.

Panels from Fantastic Four (1961 series) #76 (July 1968), co-plot and script by Stan Lee, co-plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Sinnott, letters by Artie Simek

Friday, January 24, 2014

Today in Comics History, January 24, 1978: Cartoon farmer shakes head, pours bottle of bourbon down drain, resolves to never drink again

from Meta-4 #3 (First, April 1991), script by Stefan Petrucha, pencils by Ian Gibson, inks by Joe Staton, colors by Julia Lacquement, letters by Pat Owsley


Panels from "Wild Week-End in Washington!" in Superman #268 (October 1973), script by Elliot S! Maggin, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Bob Oksner

You've gotta love a matchmaking Batman. Especially one who says "Come on, hey?"

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 24: The Watcher's Evolution Device

I've at last caught up on my missed posts of the past few days (scroll down the blog to see 'em!), and in the spirit of explanation, I'd like to nominate this as the KirbyTech du jour—the very comfortable Bed of Thor, not unlike the bed I've been snuggled up in for the past few days!

Splash page from Thor #128 (May 1966), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Artie Simek

Cool! Thor has a horsie bed! I so want one'a those!

What's that? You're saying that Thor's bed, albeit cool, doesn't count as KirbyTech because it's not mechanical? Awww, pfui! You head on over to Sleepy's The Mattress Professionals and if you can show me one CraftMatic Adjustable Bed that has an Annihilus on top of the headboard, I'll give you my coziest pillow!

Aw right, aw right. Here's a real piece of KirbyTech!

Panel from Fantastic Four #29 (August 1964), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Chic Stone, letters by Artie Simek

So what does this little green device do? Well, when you switch it on by grasping it, it turns yellow. Oh, and it also speeds up your biological evolution. In short, it turns a Flintstone into a Jetson. And that's the simplest of Uatu's gadgets laying around his Casa de Moon. Man, I'd hate to see his can-opener.

So, to conclude:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Well, that'll happen.

Panel from "It Fell from the Flying Saucer!" in Tales to Astonish #31 (May 1962), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Dick Ayers

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 23: The Riddler's Winter Machine

Since we're smack-dab in the middle of snow-bull building season here in New York, let's check in on Gotham City, where it's snow-bat building weather. I'm not too good at those—the wings always fall off. You might expect to find more RobinsonTech or KaneTech in Gotham, but here's a sign that Jack has visited the Town That Law Forgot, as Batman encounters a winter machine so chilling it completely bleaches all the color out of the comic book!

Panel from "Winter's End" in Batman: Black and White (2013 limited series) #2 (December 2013), script by Jeff Lemire, pencils and inks by Alex Niño, letters by Dezi Sienty
(Click picture to giant-rolling-snowball-size)

"Wait a minute," (you're saying), "The Riddler?" Well, yes! He got it from Mr. Freeze (one way or another). Man, that's a cold thing to do.

i don't like to contradict the Dark Knight Detective, but his line of detection and supposition all seems a little...frosty. Distracting the police and Batman from his crime scene is not only unusual for the Riddler, it downright breaks his modus operandi. Riddler doesn't distract, he leaving a riddle that, if solved properly, will point Batman to the scene of the crime. I'd like to imagine that Batman found this question written in the snow no not that way: "What do you get when you cross a snowball and a wolf?"*

And, I'm assuming that when Batman says "the design had Edward Nigma's thumbprints all over it," I hope he was speaking figuratively and not literally. Because if there were thumbprints on that lovely winter-wielding widget, batman better suspect he's cold on the trail. Why? Because The Riddler always wears gloves.

Well, weather whether it was The Riddler or Mr. Freeze or The Penguin or Batman's newest foe, Princess Permafrost, that winter-making machine was pretty cool. Until Batman blew it up.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Technical Difficulties—Please Stand By

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 22: The NYPD's All-Purpose Blaster

Well, whatdayaknow, as Ben Grimm might say. No sooner had I posted last night's look at Kirby-designed armaments for the New York Police Department and posed the musical question "where do they get those wonderful toys?," than I remembered a panel from Fantastic Four which explains it, like Clarissa, all for you. New York's Finest got it from...where else? Mr. Fantastic. Oh, he's always doin' that.

Panel from Fantastic Four (1961 series) #65 (August 1967), co-plot and script by Stan Lee, co-plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Sinnott, letters by Artie Simek

Say, pretty nifty! But...All-Purpose? Hmmm, is it really? Can it make toast? Can it mow the lawn? Can it take your dog out for a walk? Can it rub gum and chew its belly at the same time?

The answer, of course, since it has been designed by Jack Kirby, is yes.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 21: The NYPD's Recoilless Rifles and Shock Missiles

A huge amount of the tales of the Marvel Universe take place in New York City, and as a native New Yorker, Jack Kirby generally portrayed the town so nice they named it twice's non-superhero denizens and workers as realistic as possible: think of say, a taxicab driver who complains when the Thing settles down in the back seat of his hack, or the newstand operator who hassles Spider-Man for hanging upside-down and reading the Daily Bugle. Or, for that matter, Foggy Nelson. Also Jack's policemen were generally pretty much by-the-book square-jawed boys in blue straight out of a 1930s black-and-white movie, with shiny badges, nightsticks, and no weapons more dangerous than handguns.

Then, for absolutely no reason at all, there's these guys:

Panel from Thor #141 (June 1967), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Artie Simek

These members of what seems to be New York's Finest Hunger Dogs never appeared before, and will never appear again, certainly not with their futuristic heavy armor (with groin-guards!), massive Recoilless Rifle and boxes fulla Shock Missiles. Usually in this part we'd have General "Thunderbolt" Ross and his Army men shouldering bazookas, but for some reason Jack (and I'm guessing it's Jack who came up with this rather than Stan) has added some heavy-duty, futuristic cops to battle the biggest superhuman threats to Manhattan, in this case the rampaging robot Replicus.

We don't get to see these police shock troops again, but about nine months later Jack gives the NYPD some futuristic and very definitely non-standard handguns in their battle against the Wrecker:

Panels from Thor #150 (March 1968), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Sam Rosen

A letter-writer in Thor #155 catches this:

Panels from Thor #150 (March 1968), script by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by Sam Rosen

I've deleted it here, but the original printed letter had Len Uricek's full street address. I'm sure the good men and women of the NYPD did not go by his house to have a few words with him about his attitude towards the police, nosiree.

The idea of a police squad specifically formed to battle NYC's superhuman threats and equipped with futuristic armaments is actually a pretty great one. When the concept does appear in the Marvel Universe, it's two decades later and also in the pages of Thor: Code Blue, the NYPD's answer to the Howling Commandos. And it's headed up by Samuel E. Jackson. Eh, like Marvel would ever put Samuel L. Jackson in charge of anything in their universe!

Panels from Thor #426 (November 1990), co-plot and script by Tom DeFalco, co-plot and layouts by Ron Frenz, finishes by Dan Panosian and Joe Sinnott, colors by Mike Rockwitz, letters by Mike Heisler

They're the best there is at what they do, and what they do is stand on some vaguely perspective-breaking checkerboard linoleum.

Today in Comics History, January 21, 1961: The letterer of the "Beans" comic strip has a heart attack

from 100 Bullets #89 (DC/Vertigo, May 2008), script by Brian Azzarello, pencils and inks by Eduardo Risso, colors by Patricia Mulvihill, letters by Clem Robins

Monday, January 20, 2014

Comics News for January 20, 2014

Clark Kent can't remember the title of that Grover book; Time Lord renounces doctorate, begins killing spree; Billy Joel continues to rake in royalties
Top: panel from "The Electronic Ghost of Metropolis!" in Superman (1939 series) #244 (November 1971),
script by Denny O'Neil, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Murphy Anderson
Middle: panel from the Green Arrow story "The Who Zoo Crimes" in World's Finest Comics #31 (November 1947),
pencils and inks by George Papp
Bottom: panel from Feature Films Magazine #1 [Captain China] (March 1950),
pencils and inks by Jack Sparling

Psst, Clark!

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 20: Mister Morgan's Monster

Here he is...Mr. Morgan's Monster! Sort of a cross between the Golem and It! the Living Colossus. Please note the defining characteristic of a Marvel monster: the little orange underpants.

Splash page from "Mister Morgan's Monster" in Strange Tales #99 (August 1962), script by Stan Lee (?), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Dick Ayers

Sunday, January 19, 2014

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 19: Reed Richards's Negative Zone Portal Power Core

Sometimes there's a dual delight to an especially hefty piece of KirbyTech: not only do we get to immerse ourselves in its wondrous mechanics, but we also get to see all-around greatest KirbyTechLifter Ben Grimm hoist it over his head!

Splash panel of Fantastic Four (1961 series) #64 (July 1967), co-plot and script by Stan Lee, co-plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Sinnott, letters by Artie Simek

Of course, strong as Ben is, even he doesn't wanna lollygag around holding it up while Reed and Sue play kissy-face:

Now, a special treat: click on over to the blog of the Kirby-Tastic Kerry Callen (Halo and Sprocket) and see this marvelous mighty machine made to move in the greatest animated gif of our time!. Wow, way cool, Kerry!