Saturday, July 15, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 196: No, Mister Bond, I expect you to defy

Panels from Licence to Kill graphic novel (Eclipse, June 1989); script by Richard Ashford; breakdowns by Mike Grell; finishes by Chuck Austen, Tom Yeates, and Stan Woch; colors by Sam Parsons, Sally Parsons, Mel Johnson, and Reuben Rude; letters by Wayne Truman

Friday, July 14, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 195 and Today in Comics History, July 14, 1941: Cheese-Eating Resistance Guerillas

from "The True Story of Jean Hopper, V-Agent 13" in V...- Comics #1 (Fox, January 1942), pencils and inks by John Owen

Thursday, July 13, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 194: What's left in your arms when the static clears?

Tomorrow Woman! She's the woman of! As featured in a comic book of yesterday.

Panels from JLA #5 (May 1997), script by Grant Morrison, pencils by Howard Porter, inks by John Dell, colors by Pat Garrahy, color separations by Heroic Age, letters by Ken Lopez

She's the first new recruit to the all-new, all-iconic Justice League, which only goes to prove: you didn't have to be on Super Friends to join the JLA. What her teammates don't know and we, the omniscient, all-powerful, and devilishly handsome audience know, is that Tomorrow Woman is a robot. An evil robot created and programmed by T. O. Morrow and Professor Ivo, charter members of the League of Evil Scientists Whose Names End in the Syllable "Oh"! She's been designed to betray and destroy the JLA from within their creamy, nougaty center.

But — you guessed it — Tomorrow Woman the robot is more human than some humans, partly because she's been programmed to evolve by proud father T.O. Morrow, but also because she's been hanging around with Superman and Wonder Woman and Green Lantern and all those other good guys and with all that goodness and heroism, it just plain rubs off on her. Meanwhile, on the island of Doctor Morrow, he's kind of proud of his surrogate daughter.

The moment of truth: a tense mission where, as it does in all issues of Grant Morrison's JLA, the fate of the earth rests upon the actions of the Justice League. So this would be a dandy time for her to do the big splodey-thing and kill off the JLA, the greatest heroes of this world! And Wally West.

Of course, as happens in stories like this, Tomorrow Woman sacrifices herself to save humanity (and Wally), and despite the failure to destroy the JLA, T.O. Morrow is actually kind of happy to see her evolve. Happier=, certainly, than when Batman bursts into their HQ and beats him and Ivo to a pulp, but allow the poor guy a moment of triumph as we shed a non-snythitic tear for Tomorrow Woman, the greatest Justice Leaguer we never remember.

NEVER FORGET TOMORROW WOMAN. Also, never forget, so that we might never repeat, Electric Blue Superman.

Thus finishes the finest JLA robot-becomes-human story, made even finer by the fact it doesn't contain Red Tornado.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 193: And now the shock surprise ending of Secret Empire

Panels from The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (March 2015 series) #5 (July 2015), squript by Ryan North, pencils and inks by Erica Henderson, colors by Rico Renzi and Erica Henderson, letters by Clayton Cowles

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 192: Hey OMAC, who's your favorite '80s singing duo?

Panels from OMAC (1974 series) #3 (January-February 1975), script and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks and letters by D. Bruce Berry, colors by Jerry Serpe

Monday, July 10, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 191: Wonder Woman jumps kicks the shark

Panels from Wonder Woman (1942 series) #156 (August 1965), script by Robert Kanigher, pencils by Ross Andru, inks by Mike Esposito, letters by Gaspar Saladino

Sunday, July 09, 2017

365 Days of Defiance, Day 190: Doctors are strange when you're a stranger

Doctor Strange #3 (1974) boldly features (and apologizes for) a case of the Dreaded Deadline Doom, where, a handful of issues into the (bi-monthly) series, artist (and co-plotter) Frank Brunner couldn't get in the art on time. Today, they'd just postpone the issue another month or two and make us wait for it. Not in those days! The standard modus operandering of 1970s Marvel was to print a fill-in inventory story if the schedule was interrupted in any way — or, frequently, a reprint of an older issue. In those days, at least, if you couldn't hunt down back issues, the only chance you had to see the original stories was reading a reprint, but that's got to be a disappointment when you pick up a new issue.

Still, you can't say that Marvel didn't give us good reprints. (Go ahead: it's actually physically impossible to say that, right?) Most of the issue is a reprint of Doc's big-ass battle with Dormammu (yo mammu!) with classic Ditko art, and that story contains this vitally important debut of Doc's paramour Clea and a definite Declaration of Defiance!

Panel from Doctor Strange (1974 series) #3 (September 1974), reprinted from "Duel with the Dread Dormammu!" in Strange Tales (1951 series) #127 (December 1964); plot, pencils, and inks by Steve Ditko; dialogue by Stan Lee, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Sam Rosen

...and it's got a page and a half wrap-around bookend by Brunner which ends with this bold bravado:

Panels from "Amidst the Madness" in Doctor Strange (1974 series) #3 (September 1974), script by Steve Englehart, pencils by Frank Brunner, inks by Alan Weiss, colors by Jan Brunner, letters by Tom Orzechowski

After that it's even pretty easy to forgive Frank Brunner for missing #3's deadline, because here's the sort of art he created for issue #4:

Page from "Amidst the Madness" in Doctor Strange (1974 series) #4 (October 1974), co-plot and script by Steve Englehart, co-plot and pencils by Frank Brunner, inks by Dick Giordano and Bob Wiacek, colors by Linda Lessman, letters by Tom Orzechowski


Here's the bad news: obviously Brunner couldn't keep up with the schedule, because issue #5 is his last. He's replaced by Gene Colan, and '70s Colan is about as appropriate for Doc Strange as cookies are for your little stuffed truly.

Letter page segment from Doctor Strange (1974 series) #5 (December 1974)

Sadly, I don't think the Englehart/Brunner Fu Manchu project ever materialized, but Frank continued to do artwork for Marvel on Howard the Duck, Conan, and others, and co-created the classic First Comics series Warp. I've always felt we never got enough of Brunner's stunning art, but his work on Doctor Strange for Marvel Premiere #11-14 and Doctor Strange #1-5 are stone cold classic. Here's to you, Frank!