Saturday, July 02, 2016

A Month of... Pancakes! Day 2: Based upon the actual eating habits of Jack Kirby

Panels from Fantastic Four (1961 series) #67 (October 1967); co-plot and script by Stan Lee, co-plot and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Sinnott, letters by Artie Simek

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 184: Foggy Nelson amazes all the attending audience with astounding alliteration

Panels from The Incredible Hulk (1968 series) #279 (January 1983), script by Bill Mantlo, layouts by Mark Gruenwald, finishes by Greg LaRocque, colors by Bob Sharen, letters by Janice Chiang

Friday, July 01, 2016

A Month of... Pancakes! Day 1: When you buy your pancakes, you go home to Skid Row (And happy birthday, Bully!)

Hi hi hi, folks, and welcome to the most wonderful day of the year! No, it's not Christmas...not National Pickle Day (that's November 14), guess again!'s my birthday! This year I am six years old. And that's a very good age to be, I declare on the pages of my eleven-year-old blog.

But even more exciting, today begins a new "A Month of..." feature, and a few days back I decided to throw the decision-making for its subject open to you, the viewer reader! Over thirty thousand of you wrote in on these real blue cards, and if it wasn't real, could I do this? (waggles blue card in my hoof) But I haven't had time to count all those and the mailman is really peeved with me, so I'm just going to take the subject from what my good pals on Twitter voted for (I also counted those of you who voted in the comments).

After a rapid start that pulled "Fastball Specials" as the subject way out in the lead (so quickly that I opened up my electronic folder of saved F.S. images and started sorting through them), a focus near and dear to my heart (and tummy) eventually won: PANCAKES! Or, as Hellboy sez, "pamcakes." Don't worry if your favorite horse didn't cross the finish line first: I actually will do all of these subjects in time over the next few months. That's good news for you, fans of bitchslaps!

Yep, this month, all month: pancakes in comics! That includes flapjacks, griddlecakes, johnnycakes, and especially wheatcakes. If it's round, flat, made of dough, and you can put syrup on it, you'll see it here in July!* * Does not include that time Reed Richards invented a long-playing record out of bread, upon which he recorded "Baby I'm-A Want You."

And who else to kick off the comic blogosphere's first thirty-one day salute to pancakes than comics' first hero (pre-Crisis and post-Flashpoint only): Superman! Take it away, Clark...or should i say...bring 'em over here! (And the butter too, please!)

Panels from "Superman of Skid Row" in Superman (1939 series) #89 (May 1954); pencils and inks by Al Plastino

Yep, that's Superman, short-order cook. Meanwhile, Luthor has kidnapped Lois Lane and destroyed downtown Metropolis, but you just go ahead with your pancake-flippin' and your tricking Jimmy Olsen and your Stamp Day, Superman. And when you're done with that, who doesn't enjoy a dose of super-vandalizing the diner's kitchen? Sure, we all do!

'Round about now The Duke Boys were in a mess o' trouble you're wondering why the most powerful man on Earth is dishing up the blue plate special, right? Well, let's take a look at the splash page for this story. It might not be Superman #89's cover, but I'm guessing that wasn't for lack of trying. Hey, kids! SKID ROW! Kids love Skid Row. Also: this scene does not appear in this comic book!

Nice of J. Edgar Hoover to guest star there.

Turns out there's some corruption/strange doings/Kryptonite going on in Metropolis's Skid Row. This run-down area of America's Greatest City is known in modern-day parlance as Suicide Slum. Now that's a name. It certainly is unbefitting the futuristic, sunny vision you get of Metropolis, Delaware in their extensive, Superman-fixated tourist brochures. Isn't New Jersey's Gotham City a more appropriate place to have a Skid Row/Suicide Slum? My hypothesis: the aliens from Independence Day: Resurgence scooped up Skin Row from Gotham and plopped it down on the south side of Metropolis. And now you know...the rest of the story.

Well, pretty soon Superman susses out that it's the Skid Row...I think we're historically allowed to call them "bums" at this point in history, but let's just say "Skidrowians"...were blackmailed by a crook into operating an elaborate confidence game just to keep themselves in tinned beans, tobaccy, and bindles. (Or is that hoboes?) Thanks to the inspiration of Superman — whose most active role in this story was making ten thousand pancakes — the guys decide to pull themselves up again by their shoestrings and rejoin society by becoming the architects, plumbers, and carpenters that certainly were not needed prior to this point in the post-WWII industrial building society. Also: a guy who used to write short stories, and who now can tell true tales about the sordid life of the downtrodden and beleaguered. Ladies 'n' gennlemen, the DC Universe's first appearance of Mister Gay Talese.

The above is a long way to say "pancakes," and certainly do contact me again by checking back tomorrow for Day Two: Waffles Pancakes!

I have been sent a cease-and-desist album by Atlantic Records stating that I must not defame or disparage any individual or group member of their band Skid Row, and I have consulted by lawyer who has drafted a response of "You guys have too much times on your hands." Actually, Sol, I think that's Styx, not Skid Row.

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 183: J. Jonah Jameson is a real stand-up guy

Let's swing into the second half of our amazing year of the spectacular J. Jonah Jameson by teaming-up, marvelously, with the most ill-advised point-of-sales gimmick since the first issue Archie Comics Digest for Kids Who Are Wailing Uncontrollably in the Supermarket Check-Out Aisle #1. Lead us in with the chin, Peter Parker!

Panels from Spider-Man Team-Up #1 (December 1995), script by Mark Waid and Tom Peyer with special thanks to Scott Lobdell, pencils by Ken Lashley, inks by Vince Russell and Al Milgrom, colors by Tom Smith, color separations by Malibu, letters by Richard Starkings

What the--?! (to quote the title of another goofy nineties comic book series). Just who the Sam Scratch thought it was a good idea to promote the even-then-dying medium of print journalism by hacking down even more trees? This bold strike against the Lorax would never work. I mean, just who would stop and look at the cardboard cut-out of a hated public figure and maybe even have their picture taken with it?

Um. Mea bullpa.

The MAD 1960 2016 calendar for Junky July!

"The MAD 1960 Calendar: July" from MAD #52 (January 1960), script by Larry Siegel, art by David Berg

Thursday, June 30, 2016

A Month of... There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 30: Spread the word around / The rat is leaving town

Panels from Happy Birthday Gnatrat one-shot (1986); script, pencils, inks, and letters by Mark Martin

Based, of course, on this.

Panels from "The Legend of the Batman — Who He Is and How He Came to Be!" in Batman (1940 series) #1 (Spring 1940); script by Bill Finger, pencils and inks by Bob Kane, background inks and letters by Sheldon Moldoff

Which takes us full circle. So we bid farewell to lonely, terrified, tragically scarred Bruce Wayne, and tell him "See ya next year, Bruce!" Hope you'll join us then! Oh wait...there is no Crime Alley! BWAH-HA-HA-HA-HA!

Next month: pancakes are up!

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 182: Ultimate Brush-Off

Panels from Ultimate Spider-Man #155 (May 2011), script by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils and inks by Chris Samnee, colors by Justin Ponsor, letters by Cory Petit

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Month of... There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 29: Wouldja believe this is the only Crime Alley sequence I could find in a MAD parody?

Panels from "Battyman, Begone!" in MAD #255 (July 2005); script by Desmond Devlin, art by Tom Richmond

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 181: Prequel to the Afternoon of a Murder

Panels from "Into the Jaws!" in Spidey Super Stories #16 (April 1976), script by A.J. Hays, pencils and inks by John Romita Sr., letters by Gaspar Saladino

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

A Month of... There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 28: She did the Monster Mash

Panels from "Shikla's Catchjing Up" in Deadpool (2013 series) #45/250 (June 2015); script by Mike Drucker, pencils and inks by J.J. Kirby, colors by Veronica Gandini, letters by Joe Sabino

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 180: Have you ever shot a mouthful of webbing into your boss's mouth while calling long distance? You will.

Panels from Peter Parker: Spider-Man (1999 series) #16 (April 2000), script by Howard Mackie, pencils by John Romita Jr., inks by Scott Hanna, colors by Gregory Wright, letters by Richard Starkings and Troy Peteri

Monday, June 27, 2016

Vote for the subject of next month's "A Month of..."!

Have you ever thought you could decide what I write about? well, as long as you tell me Ben Grimm, you're pretty close on the mark. But in July, I've decided to let you, gentle reader, decide the direction of my thirty-one-day-long extravaganza known as "A Month of...". All you need is a Twitter account and, well, admittedly, a computer. And a mouse. Also: a connection to the internet. Okay, okay, you need a lotta things. But it'll be worth it! Click on over (within the next day) and vote for one of the four following subjects for me to show panels of next month, all next month:

Pancakes! (yes, includes flapjacks, hotcakes, and wheatcakes!)

Fastball Specials!

Bitchslaps! (I'm only allowed to use that word paired up with "slap")

Gwen Stacy Tossin'!

So click here and vote early (because it ends tomorrow afternoon), vote often, and vote sober! And remember: this is a poll, not a no wagering!

A Month of... There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 27: There Is No Hope at Haley's Circus

Let us never forget that June 27, the day after the anniversary of the death of Bruce Wayne's parents on June 26, is the anniversary of the death of Dick Grayson's parents. (See: There Is No Hope at Haley's Circus 2013 and There Is No Hope at Haley's Circus 2014.) And it occurs to me I've never actually shown you good folks the original Death O' the Flying Graysons. It's from, natch, Detective Comics #38, but the panels I'm showing you here are from a slightly recolored reprint in Secret Origins #7. Mainly because I can't get the plastic clamshell open on my copy of 'Tec #38. It's more difficult with hooves.

Panels from "Robin the Boy Wonder" in Detective Comics #38 (April 1940); script by Bill Finger, pencils by Bob Kane, inks and letters by Jerry Robinson; as reprinted in Secret Origins (1973 series) #7 (October-November 1974)

Here's another early version, this time by Dick Sprang, my very favorite Golden Age Batman artist:

Panels from "Dick Grayson, Boy Wonder!" in Batman #32 (December 1945-January 1946); script by Don Cameron, pencils and inks by Dick Sprang, letters by Pat Gordon (?)

And what would a triptych of acrobat-smashin' action be without this retelling of the same scene from my favorite Batman miniseries of all, The Untold Legend of the Batman? Answer: it would be incomplete.

Panels from The Untold Legend of the Batman #2 (August 1980); script by Len Wein, pencils, inks, and letters by Jim Aparo; colors by Glynis Wein/

Dick Grayson, Agent No. 37 of the mysterious organization known as Spyral* — and hey, why isn't he known as Agent No. 38? — has just politely informed me to stop showing you scenes of his parents' death, so let's wrap it up for 2016. Next year: The All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder version! (You're welcome, Mike Sterling!)

* Suspicious Piñatas Yellow and Red Are Laminated

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 179: The Grudge Report

Panels from Amazing Spider-Man (1963 series) #65 (October 1968), script by Stan Lee, layouts by John Romita Sr., finishes by Jim Mooney, colors by Marie Severin, letters by Artie Simek

Sunday, June 26, 2016

A Month of... There Is No Hope in Crime Alley, Night 26: Batman Tortoise All a Lesson

Tonight: June 26, 10:48 PM, Gotham Summer Time, Bruce Wayne's father and mother were brutally murdered in Crime Alley by a criminal who may or may not have been Joe Chill, depending on the version of the story.

So on the anniversary of his parents' death, how does Bruce spend his night?

Hangin' out with an adolescent evolved samurai terrapin.

Cover of Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 (May 2016); pencils and inks by Freddie E. Williams II, colors by Jeremy Colwell

Yep: even in the middle of a crossover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman takes time to show Raphael his tragic origin story. That was actually pretty nice of Bruce, since, as we all know, Raphael is cool but crude.

Panels from Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 (May 2016); script by James Tynion IV, pencils and inks by Freddie E. Williams II, colors by Jeremy Colwell, letters by Tom Napolitano

And hey, remember when I told you to pay attention to Alfred's previous cryptic remarks about the Intimidator suit? It's on June 26 that Batman finally gets a chance to finally take the bedsheet off of it and wear it into battle!

Panels from Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5 (June 2016); script by James Tynion IV, pencils and inks by Freddie E. Williams II, colors by Jeremy Colwell, letters by Tom Napolitano

The Intimidator suit, which of course makes Batman look like, yes, a giant turtle.

Panels from Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #6 (July 2016); script by James Tynion IV, pencils and inks by Freddie E. Williams II, colors by Jeremy Colwell, letters by Tom Napolitano

So, always remember that on one of the anniversaries of the Waynes' death, Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a team-up and it was pretty good. (Seriously, I really liked this series, especially when Shredder and Ra's al-Ghul turned all the Arkham Asylum inmates into anthropomorphic animals. I kids you not.)

In conclusion, heartwarming family scene. Awwwwwww.

Tomorrow! (Yes, tomorrow!) The terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad family death that occurred on the night after the anniversary of Bruce's parents dying! Swing by, won't you?

Today in Comics History, June 26, 1954: J'onn J'onzz lands on Earth

from "It Came Without a Face" in Riot #2 (Marvel/Atlas, June 1954), pencils and inks by Joe Maneely

366 Days with J. Jonah Jameson, Day 178: YOU ARE WRONG

Panel from Peter Parker: Spider-Man (1999 series) #36 (December 2001), script by Paul Jenkins, pencils by Staz Johnson, inks by Wayne Faucher, colors by Transparency Digital, letters by Richard Starkings