Saturday, December 12, 2015

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 346: Shooting at the walls of heartache, bang bang

Hey, it's Leiasaturday! (That's really never gonna become a thing, is it?)

Cover of Star Wars: Empire #20 (May 2004), painted art by Doug Wheatley

And here's the original cover art sans logo and typography!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Today in Comics History, December 11, 2013: Enter Mopee

from Flash: Season Zero #1 (DC, December 2014), story by Andrew Kreisberg, script by Brooke Eikmeier and Katherine Walczak, pencils by Phil Hester, inks by Eric Gapstur, colors by Kelsey Shannon, letters by Deron Bennett

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 345: Heroes on a half-tee

Hey, we can't let this year wind down without yet another one of the

..which I really hope someday becomes a page on TV Tropes, and I become the Trope Namer. Anyway:

Panel from Star Wars #13 (February 2016), script by Jason Aaron, pencils and inks by Mike Deodato, colors by Frank Martin Jr., letters by Chris Eliopoulos

But hey, wait a minute, Doctor Aphra! Are you really wearin' a crop top befitting your position as Darth Vader's chauffeur and general all-around gopher? Let's turn a few pages and look at a couple more panels:

So, I'm guessing the first panel was just a coloring mistake instead of Aphra flaunting her Force-toned abs. Still: skin-tight t-shirts of the Star Wars Universe.

So glad we had this time together

I have been informed that a certain Little Stuffed Bull has sorted out his computer woes and is planning his triumphant return, so it is time for me to bid you all adieu.

Before I trudge on back to Armagideon Time, I would like to thank Bully and his pal John for graciously allowing me to serve as this site's guest host. 

I had a lot of fun doing it, and that's important.  Comics -- like any endeavor involving human beings and money changing hands -- can get pretty icky at times, and those highly visible negative aspects can overshadow what is a pretty amazing medium full of all sorts of talented folks doing incredible work.

For example, funnybooks gave us this...

..and this...

...and this...

...and this...

I'll, uh, let myself out.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

14,078 Days of Star Wars Knock-Off Comics, Day 14,078: (Don) Newtonian Physics

(from "The Star Hunters" in DC Super-Stars #16, Sep-Oct 1977; by David Micheline, Don Newton and Bob Layton)

Forgive me.  I was trying to pick up where the Little Stuffed Bull left off, but I couldn't quite get the hang of it.

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 344: Always something there to remind me

Panels from Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Lost Command #2 (February 2011), script by Haden Blackman, pencils by Rick Leonardi, inks by Daniel Green, colors by Wes Dzioba, letters by Michael Heisler

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 343: It's about ethics in the Star Wars Universe

Panels from Star Wars (1977 Marvel series) #51 (September 1981), script by David Michelinie, pencils by Walt Simonson, inks by Tom Palmer, colors by Don Warfield, letters by John Morelli

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

If it ain't baroque

Andrew Otis Weiss here again, with a guest post guaranteed to make even the most indulgent fashionista cry.

Last time around, I celebrated the Golden Age simplicity of the Black Condor. Today, I'm here to shine a little love on a pair of Bronze Age bookends of the baroque.

Representing DC Comics, we have...

(from Fury of Firestorm #1, June 1982; by Gerry Conway, Pat Broderick & Rodin Rodriguez)

...the furious Firestorm, the Nuclear Man!

Origin: The fusion of a high school jock and a middle aged physicist.

Powers: Flight, blasty-hands, intangibility, matter transmutation.

Costume: Poofy sleeves, blazing noggin, pointy shoulders, sorta symbolic insignia, 1970s McDonalds color scheme.

Archvillain: Killer Frost, the frozen Femme Fatale.

Current status: Check out LEGENDS OF TOMORROW on the New CW!

Meanwhile, over in the mighty Marvel corner, we have:

(from Marvel Premiere #44, October 1978; by Bill Mantlo, Keith Giffen & Rudy Nebres)

...the jaunty Jack of Hearts!

Origin: Got dipped in his poker-loving pa's experimental "Zero Fluid." (Also, his mom turned out to be a space alien.)

Powers: Flight, blasty-hands, super-strength, damage resistance.

Costume: What happens when a Bicycle deck face card joins the SCA.

Archvillain: Hemlock, the assassin who wields heat-seeking explosive garden trowels. (As well as any penciller, inker, or colorist who had to deal with the character.)

Current status: Man, Phase 7 on the Marvel Cinematic Universe is going to be SO RAD.

All kidding aside, I love both these exercises in over-complicated garishness with equal measure. They were the lurid, overwrought products of a lurid, overwrought period in comics history -- one that just so happened to coincide with my childhood obsession with all things gaudy and superheroic. Their confusing powersets and convoluted origins informed my own early attempts at creating superheroes, where "too much" was "never enough" and there was always room for a bit of contra-fashionable flair.

Look, any schmoe can come up with "noble alien champion" or "spider-powered teenager." A truly imaginative child of the late 1970s would never settle for anything less than "um, he's a robot who is also part alien and the son of Zeus and he can fly and spit fire and lift a billion tons and his name is 'Mega-PowerMaster King.'"

Chuckle all you want. My mom said I was "very creative" when she hung the sketch on the family fridge.

Seriously, though: When I embarked on my Great Back Issue Buying Binge during the mid-1990s, Firestorm and Jack of Hearts appearances filled the top half of my wish list. They might be goofy, but it's a goofiness that cuts right to the nostalgic core of my comics fandom.

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 342: Year-end employee evaluations of the Star Wars Universe

Panels from Star Wars: The Force Unleashed graphic novel (August 2008), script by Haden Blackman; pencils and inks by Brian Ching, Bong Dazo, and Wayne Nichols; colors by Michael Atiyeh; letters by Michael Heisler

Monday, December 07, 2015

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 341: Don't mention Skywalker. I mentioned him once but I think I got away with it.

Panels from Star Wars: Vader's Quest #1 (February 1999); script by Darko Macan; pencils, inks, and letters by Dave Gibbons; colors by Angus McKie

A moment of condor

Howdy, folks!  This is your special guest host Andrew Otis Weiss, here to disprove my fun-hating reputation by taking a look at another funnybook character I truly and sincerely love.

This particular fella comes from the dawn of the Golden Age of Superheroes, back when "a dude who can fly" was a bankable concept in and of itself.   If you had that angle locked down, you really didn't need extraneous clutter...

...which in the Black Condor's case included "pants" and "a shirt."

Condor's minimalist choice of fighting togs can be traced back to the character's origins as an avian-themed riff on Tarzan's pulp adventures.   After his archaeologist parents were slain by bandits, the infant mystery-man-to-be was taken in and raised by a colony of "intelligent" condors.  

There the young man learned the language, mysteries, and (presumably) carrion-munching ways of his feathered foster brethren.   Getting the hang of flying was a little bit trickier...

...but nothing that a few panels and some heavy suspension of disbelief couldn't solve.

 Once that was sorted, it only took a little anti-bandit payback, an encounter with a kindly monk, and the assumption of a dead senator's identity to get him back to America and battling Ratzis and gangsters on a monthly basis.

Since those heady logic-optional times, Black Condor has undergone multiple minor retcons and spun off a pair of legacy characters -- all adding additional baggage and superfluous explanations to what was a delightfully uncomplicated concept.

I first encountered the character during the "Crisis on Earth-X" arc in All-Star Squadron, where Roy Thomas and Rick Hoberg attempted to flesh-out the backstory of the Quality Comics alt-corner of DC's multiverse (while offing the Red Bee in the process).  I've since read through Condor's Eisner/Fine-helmed adventures in Crack Comics, which are pretty amazing -- like so many early Golden Age superhero features -- for witnessing the foundations of the genre get hashed out in real-time.

Honestly, though, no story the Black Condor has appeared in can match the Jerry Ordway illustration of that Who's Who entry above.  It perfectly captures the square-jawed, high concept essence of the character in all his elegant pulp-inflected simplicity...

...even with the garish, off-register "Flexographic" printing muddling up Ordway's stellar artwork.  

Sunday, December 06, 2015

365 Days of Star Wars Comics, Day 340: The Man with the Sunn-Childe in His Eyes

Panels from "The Dreams of Cody Sunn-Childe!" in Star Wars (1977 Marvel series) #46 (April 1981), script by "Wally Lombego", pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Tom Palmer, colors by Glynis Wein, letters by Diana Albers

Wally Lombego? Who he? Well, that's a pen name of prolific comics creator J.M. DeMatteis. And you can find the story of how Lucasfilm made him get all Alan Smitheesque, over at his blog here!