Friday, May 30, 2014

The End of the Fantastic Four?

Over at Bleeding Cool, Rich Johnston has rightly called attention to what seems to be a disturbing trend by Marvel to downplay references to the Fantastic Four in all of the 75th anniversary promotional materials. Johnston suggests that the underlying reason is that Marvel (Disney) may be waging a covert war against Fox, who controls the rights to X-men and Fantastic Four. (Unlike the Sony Spider-man deal, Marvel does not benefit from merchandising in the Fox deal.)

Notice the complete lack of FF and X-men references on the 75th Anniversary poster (and logo)

When was the last time you saw a Marvel promo poster that didn't feature Wolverine? Instead of The Thing and Storm, we have Iron Fist and Ant-man. The inclusion of the Ant-man, Guardian's of the Galaxy characters and Iron Fist is clearly meant to work with their upcoming movies and Netflix show, but some others are a bit harder to explain. (Black Bolt, Ms. Marvel, Nova) --- unless there are upcoming movies for those properties. I think I have heard some mention of an Inhumans movie.

Still, outside of the conspiratorial Hollywood games, is it reasonable to think Marvel might cancel (or at least bench) The Fantastic Four for a while? I think so.

For one thing, the property was just recently, re-relaunched (in the wake of a prominent Marvel Now relaunch) with writer James Robinson. And while Robinson's star status isn't what it used to be during his Starman heyday, he's still a writer with some marquee value. Unfortunately, his turn on Fantastic Four isn't really producing much better sales than Matt Faction's was about a year ago (when it was decided to relaunch the title.) As the number crunchers at ComicsBeat put when reviewing comic sales for April...

No re-order activity and sales continue to drop. Fantastic Four will probably drop to its previous sales low of 28k within a few months...

I don't blame Robinson for this. The list of writers who have worked with the Fantastic Four in some manner over recent years is like a who's who of modern comics:

JM Straczynski
Mark Millar
Matt Faction
Jonathan Hickman
Brian Bendis (Ultimate FF)
Warren Ellis (Ultimate FF)
Grant Morrison (Fantastic Four: 1234)
Hickman's run was the most successful in recent years, but even it lost its momentum towards the end. And Marvel ultimately decided Hickman was too valuable a writer to waste on FF, so they put him on pretty much Avenger title they could think of.

Now, in the past, it would have been unthinkable for Marvel to not publish (what many consider) to be their flagship (spiritually, if not financially) title. However, Disney doesn't really care about that. As I've said several times before, Disney doesn't concern itself with printing its own comics. It licenses many of its successful brands (Donald Duck, The Fairies of Pixie Hollow, The Disney Princesses...) to other publishers.

With Marvel things are different. I suspect Disney takes more objective (harsher) look at failing comic titles than past Marvel Editorial regimes.

I could easily see the combo of no money from movies or merchandising and poor selling comics could definitely resulting in at least a temporary hiatus.

- Jim

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Days Of Future Past Movie Review by Special Guest: Stevie B!

Editor's Note: Today's post is from my friend Stevie B! One of the hosts of Nerds of the Apocalypse podcasts (as well as several other podcasts to which you will find links below.) As I've been unable to see Days of Future Past this weekend, I asked Stevie B to help me out with a review of the movie.
Warning, this review has spoilers, so if you haven't seen it yet, you might want to come back after you have. Now with that disclaimer out of the way, let's see what Stevie thought of the movie. - Jim

My first blog post! Go easy on me! Jim and I decided the best thing to do would be for me to tackle an X-Men: Days of Future past review. I was trying to decide the best way to go about it and I came to the conclusion that it would be best to just do an open forum with some key points and then a final thought. So here I go!

X-Men: DOFP, in my eyes, was Fox’s attempt to put right what once went wrong. They, mostly, succeeded with this.

First, let’s talk story. It had its differences with the classic Claremont and Byrne story, but still kept the fundamental points. There’s a desolate future where only a few X-Men are left and on the run from Sentinels. Some we’ve seen, some we haven’t. Blink, honestly, stole the show for me in the future sequences. I’ll get to her more in a moment. Mystique murders Bolivar Trask alone instead of Senator Kelly with The Brotherhood of Mutants.  Apparently, the newly formed Brotherhood we saw at the end of First Class has already been disbanded and Magneto imprisoned. I did enjoy the use of Trask. It really worked for the story being told but, I also missed Kelly. I think he was underused and killed off too quickly in the first X-men movies. Kitty Pryde still has a lot do with saving the future but, she projects the consciousness of other mutants back in time, not hers. Enter: The Wolverine. Of course, we need him for this movie to be successful!   That was my initial thought as well but, it was great to see The Wolverine from-old mixed with those that are left from First Class. I ended up enjoying that choice over Pryde.

This was a period piece; but not as much as First Class.  Once Wolverine wakes up in the 70’s, I got a big terminator vibe which lasted long enough for it not to be annoying. We, quickly, find Xavier and Beast alone in the mansion. As in the Brotherhood, Xavier’s X-Men, who started in FC, is also in shambles and Xavier is in a very Dark Knight Rises Bruce Wayne like depression. The classic, “I’m drinking my woes away, leave me alone!” kind of way. He is, also, walking and Beast is not blue. This is quickly explained by a serum that Beast created. Of course, the serum allows Xavier to walk but he loses the ability to use his X-Gene.

After this, the movie changed for me. I was expecting to see a “get the band back together movie” but that didn’t happen, and honestly it was a bit refreshing. Wolverine enlists Quicksilver to help break Magneto out of prison, but this is all we see of him. This was his only part of the movie. Which was really disappointing. He ended up being one of my favorite characters in the film.

Magneto, in Magneto fashion, turns on everyone shortly after joining up and it becomes a “how do we convince Mystique to do the right thing” story, while Magneto tries to kill her: His absolute way of stopping the Future events. If she dies, the future sentinels (which are powered by a technology learned from Mystique’s X-gene) can never be built. They are so devastating because they can learn mutants’ ability and use them in battle. The initial assassination was thwarted, but Mystique was still hell bent on revenge killing Trask. She learned about the death of many of the throw away mutants from First Class at his hands. I thought this to be understandable motivation. It worked for me.

With the events that Trask avoided, this convinced the President to push forward his Six Sentinels that he’s already built, that Magneto takes control of simply by injecting metal into them. Trask built them with… well, I don’t remember, but not metal! The movie concludes with a gigantic fight on the lawn of the White House, and the future X-Men fighting the future sentinels. Unfortunately, the White House scenes where my least favorite parts of the movie. I was expecting a huge drag out fight with the Sentinels; instead, Magneto is in control of them using them against humans. This, to me, was more about character than action. Xavier has his powers back. He had a redemption talk with his older self through Wolverine to become the Xavier we all know and love. He’s using his new found old abilities on Mystique who, at the end, sees things his way. She stops Magneto and shows the world that Mutants really can be good! They allow Magneto to leave, which pondered me. He put out a message for other mutants to join him; so hopefully we will the see the development of that later. 

The final scenes were probably the best. Wolverine wakes up in the “new future” where some amazing cameos are made. The best being the return of James Marsden as Cyclops! This says to me, “Sorry about X-Men 3, we will try to do better”. The movie ends with a post credits scene of the upcoming Apocalypse movie which looked really cool. My final thoughts about the story soon, but first, my favorite mutants!

I decided to add this because there really was some impressive new mutants in this movie.

Let’s start with Blink, one of the Future Mutants

Her portal powers where used so well on her own and in unison with the other X-Men! It was a delight to watch.

Then, we have Quicksilver.

When I first saw this getup, I thought the same thing you probably did. WHAT A JOKE! How pleasantly surprised was I to find out that he actually stole the show. He was by far my favorite character in the movie. My only issue is that he wasn’t in more of it. But, honestly, if he was in the rest of the movie wouldn’t have needed to take place. With his power set, he could have easily completed the goals the other cast members struggled so hard with. I really, really hope we see more of him in future movies. There was even a backwards mention of Magneto being his father. Which is something I thought they were going to shy away from in this flick, but it seems they gave us a tease and are shelving it for another time.

I thought it would be fun to do a quick “things I liked and didn’t like” section.

Things I liked:

The future scenes where great. The old cast actually had me reminiscing on the old movies and were, actually, put together really well. The new mutants where all unique and fun. Seeing Bishop, as well, was a delight.

As I said before, Quicksilver was one of the best parts of the movie. I still think it sounds crazy when I say it out loud.

The last ten minutes of the movie, when Wolverine wakes up and is in the new timeline, there was a sense of relief. Everyone is back.  Everyone is fine; and we can finally look forward to something that won’t have anything to do with Last Stand.

Things I didn’t like:

The past sentinels. I didn’t really like their design. I was, also, raised in the nineties so my first introduction to the sentinels was this:

And what I got was this:

This may just me being nitpicky, but I just wasn’t into it.

The final fight in the 70’s portion of the movie was kind of a miss for me, as well. I sort of expected an epic mutant/sentinel showdown (which we did get in the future portion of the movie), but that culminated with all the future mutants being destroyed. I have to be honest, though, my biggest let down from those scenes was Wolverine. He doesn’t have his metal claws in the 70’s, so we have a bone-clawed Wolverine the entire time. So when it comes down to fighting the sentinels, he can’t cut through them. Which is something I was really looking forward to. In this Days of Future Past, wolverine centric movie, he doesn’t tear a sentinel apart with his claws. What?

Final Thought:

Days of Future Past is a step up from what we’ve seen in the past few iterations of the X- movies. I, almost, feel like a full reboot after First Class was planned, but then they decided to mix the universes and kept only the major Characters. This movie was a great way to erase the terrible that has come before it. There were some last stand flashbacks and this movie acted like Origins Wolverine never existed. As do most of us. I really liked this movie: I did not love it. My biggest let down was that Magneto was by himself. I do like the group of out- for- themselves mutants. Some people may take that as a plus, though.  This was not the typical X-men movie. There was no one side of mutants VS the other. Just misguided Mystique and classic destroy- all- humans Magneto. It’s exciting to see where things go from here. The sky is the limit and I think that was the point. We have no idea what has happened in this new timeline.

I’ll end with an analogy with the viewer’s being young Xavier and Fox being the old. Old Xavier, at one point, is able to communicate with young Xavier and asks him to hope again. And just like young Xavier, I am hoping again.

- Stevie B

Thank you Stevie for that excellent review!

You can hear more from Stevie B by checking out out Nerds Of the Apocalypse here:
Stevie B's personal Twitter @stevieb5986
You can also find them on iTunes by searching for Nerds of the apocalypse. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Marvel Reboot - The Perfect Jumping Off Point?

Last weeks news about unique ramifications from a Marvel Avengers event story in 2015 have started rumors that Marvel might engage in a complete reboot of their comics line
This news was met with quite a bit of teeth gnashing and hand wringing by the commenters at Bleeding Cool. The comments tended to run in several categories:
DC 52 Deja Viewers – these were people who feared Marvel’s attempt at a reboot would be as lackluster as DC’s.
…Cause its ended up working out so well for DC
Time To Jumpers – people who would view the reboot as the perfect time to jump off the Marvel bandwagon
Yep. Full reboots are the perfect jumping off point, and a sign that a comic book company just needs to stop publishing and become just an IP farm for their large corporate parent.
~Electric Peter Tork
Doubters and Skeptics – people who don’t think Marvel will reboot
Ending series in about a year and restarting them again or adding diversity to the line-up has been Marvel's M.O. for a while now. That wouldn't be out of the ordinary at all. A full on reboot though? I can't say I expect that will happen.  
Pro Rebooters – people who have faith in a Jonathan Hickman rebooted Marvel Universe
I would not be against a reboot. I used to be and I used to be one of those readers who knocked on DC for having events that were set up for cleaning their continuity. They would usually botch something serious to someone, like say, Hawkman's origin. I have felt that with the rather large number of time-related stories going on at Marvel that they may be gearing towards it.

I feel like if Marvel did it, it would be handled a bit better than DC's New 52. The negative would be the large amount of new number 1's but they would not have the editorial issues that DC did and we would see some characters that normally don't get solo books get that shot. We would have too many X-Men and Avengers titles but that is the nature of the beast.
~ Joshua
What some people have forgotten is that Marvel has already had partial reboot in its history which is remembered as a major failure. I’m talking about Heroes Reborn
At the time, that outsourcing of the Marvel A list characters to the popular Image creators must have looked fantastic on paper, but at best, it was not much more than rehashes of stories we had already scene...

..and at worst it brought us the most infamous Captain America image ever.
So, if Marvel were to actually reboot, how do I think it would be received? Hard to say. Sales wise, initially, the DC 52 reboot was quite successful. However, since then, there has been a lot of bitching and moaning about the quality of the DC line. Albeit, this has less to do with the fact the books have been rebooted and more to do with lax editorial, imo, but I do believe that because this new DC universe seems less official, fans are finding it easier to find fault with comics they would normally roll with. The Forgiveness Factor seems to be waning.

Creatively, it might be a good thing for Marvel, again, on paper. When the Ultimate Universe was announced, there was a lot of promise that we would see writers go in directions that they would not have been able to pursue in the regular Marvel Universe. Some writers (like Mark Millar) delivered on that promise. Others were less adventurous and gave us pretty much what we had seen before with just a few tweaks. (But sales were pretty good initially, so maybe that's what comic fans really want?)

Still, it's hard for me to think that if Marvel were to do a linewide reboot that they wouldn't lose some fans. Comic fans tend to have an obsessive pride of their knowledge various universes - which is why they get so enraged when they think someone is discounting continuity. And while I sort of think Marvel has quietly waved away continuity a long time ago, an outright dismissal might be more than their fanbase could stand.

I don't expect that most readers of this blog have a real dog in this fight, as I expect a lot of you are like me and see current Marvel continuity as a big mess with no connection to the comics you read long ago, still, I'd like to hear what you think...

...would you welcome a Marvel Reboot or would you use it as a time to jump off altogether?

- Jim 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

My List of the Top 75 Marvel Comics

In a recent post I mentioned that Marvel is going to put out an 75th anniversary omnibus with their top 75 comics stories. I also mentioned I would try to guess/propose what I think might be in such an tome.

First, let's get the easy first appearances out of the way:
  1. Amazing Fantasy 15 (first Spider-man)
  2. Fantastic Four 1
  3. Tales of Suspense 39 (first Iron Man)
  4. Avengers 1
  5. Journey into Mystery 83 (first Thor)
  6. X-men 1
  7. Captain America 1 (Golden Age)
  8. Hulk 1
  9. Strange Tales 110 (first Dr. Strange)
  10. Marvel Comics 1 (Golden Age)

Second Tier first appearances (I'm less sure about these)
  1. Daredevil 1
  2. Origin of Dr. Doom (from Fantastic Four Annual 2)
  3. Silver Surfer 1
  4. Fantastic Four 48 (first Galactus)
  5. Sub-Mariner 1 (Golden Age)
  6. Fantastic Four 52 (first Black Panther)
  7. Hulk 181 (first Wolverine)
  8. Fantastic Four 46 (first Black Bolt)
  9. Amazing Spider-Man 14 (first Green Goblin)
  10. Tales of Suspense 57 (first Hawkeye)
  11. Iron Man 55 (first Thanos)
  12. Avengers 4 (return of Captain America)
  13. Spider-man 129 (first Punisher)
  14. Giant-size X-men 1 (first new X-men)
  15. Avengers 55 (first appearance of Ultron)
  16. Spider-man 50 (first appearance of Kingpin)
  17. Spider-man 194 (first appearance of Black Cat)
  18. Amazing Adventures 11 (first Beast)
  19. Captain America 117 (first Falcon)
  20. Tales of Suspense 52 (first Black Widow)
  21. Avengers 16 (Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver join Avengers)
  22. Nova 1
  23. Marvel Spotlight 5 (first Ghost Rider)

Issues with a Death in them:
  1. Amazing Spider-man 121 (death of Gwen Stacy)
  2. X-men 137 (death of Jean Grey)
  3. Daredevil 181 (death of Elektra)
  4. Avengers Annual 7 (death of Adam Warlock. I know he dies in another issue of Warlock, but the annual is a better self contained story.)
  5. Marvel Two-In-One Annual 2 (continuation of the storyline above. With the emphasis on Thanos coming in the movies, this might get in.)

Epic Battles
  1. Fantastic Four 25 (Hulk vs The Thing)
  2. Fantastic Four 26 (Hulk vs The Thing part 2)
  3. Silver Surfer 4 (Silver Surfer vs Thor)
  4. Thor Annual 1 (Thor vs Hercules)
  5. X-men 112 (X-men vs Magneto)
  6. Strange Tales 127 (Dr. Strange vs Dormammu)
  7. Daredevil 7 (Daredevil vs The Sub Mariner)
  8. Spider-man Annual 1 (Sinister Six)
  9. Hulk 171 (Hulk vs Rhino and The Abomination)
  10. Iron Man 150 (Iron Man vs Dr. Doom)

Okay, from hereon out, the list is going to be a bit more idiosyncratic

Classic Bronze Age Comics
  1. Astonishing Tales 25 (first Deathlok)
  2. Werewolf By Night 1
  3. Tomb of Dracula 1
  4. Man-Thing 1
  5. Howard the Duck 1
  6. Eternals 1
  7. Invaders 1
  8. Amazing Spider-Man 86 (revamped Black Widow costume)
  9. Marvel Feature 1 (first Defenders)
  10. Marvel Team Up 74 (Spider-man and SNL)

Socially Relevant Issues
  1. Spider-man 97 (the no comics code drug issue)
  2. Amazing Adventures 31 with Killraven (first interracial kiss)
  3. Alpha Flight 106 (Northstar is Marvel's first openly gay character)
  4. Luke Cage Hero for Hire 1 (first African American superhero)
  5. Ms. Marvel (first Marvel female superheroine to carry her own title)
  6. Iron Man 128 (last in in the Demon In A Bottle saga)

 Notable Creator Highmarks 

(Note, some of these stand on their own better than others which is the nature of Marvel comics sometimes.)
  1. Spider-Man 248 The Kid The Collected Spider-Man (Roger Stern)
  2. Thor 353 The Finale of the Surtur Saga (Walt Simonson)
  3. Fantastic Four 236 Terror in a Tiny Town (John Byrne)
  4. Fantastic Four 285 Hero (John Byrne)
  5. Marvel Team In One 50 - Thing Vs Thing ( John Byrne )
  6. Avengers 177 Those Who Lay Dying (Jim Shooter)
  7. Fantastic Four 51 This Man This Monster (Lee/Kirby)
  8. Spider-man 33 The Final Chapter (Steve Ditko)
  9. Ultimate Spider-Man 111 The Talk (Brian Bendis)
  10. Captain America 175 Before The Dawn (Steve Englehart)
  11. Avengers 58 Even An Android Can Cry (Roy Thomas)

That's my list. What would you add or take off? Is there a favorite of yours that's missing here?
- Jim

Friday, May 16, 2014

Star Trek The Mirror Cracked A Photo Comic

While I don't often recommend/review comics on this blog, I read one last night that I think a lot of readers of this blog would love for several reasons: Star Trek: New Vision #1 The Mirror Cracked by John Byrne

While I'm a big Star Trek TOS fan, I've only been lukewarm on the comic adaptations I've tried. There have been one or two I've enjoyed, but more often than not, I find the comic book adaptations read more like a slow hard science fiction novel instead of a jaunty hour long adventure show. Also, sometimes the artwork suffers (unfairly) by comparison to the television version which can be distracting.

However, legendary comic creator and Star Trek fan John Byrne has started creating new ST comics in a fashion that seems to solves the art problem completely with stories that have the fun pacing of the television show. In what must be a painstaking process, he is taking images (video captures) from the old shows and Photoshopping them into comic panels. Like this:

By doing this, he creates a comic where the characters look exactly like the actors AND has the feel of a comic book (instead of a fumetti which I've always disliked.) The panel by panel feel gives you the pacing and camera angles you expect from a television show.

The Mirror Cracked is actually the second Byrne PhotoNovel. The first one came out late last year and featured a return to the Where No Man Has Gone Before storyline.

And while the technique impressed me with that annual, the story didn't quite grabbed me. Still, I was quite taken with the potential of the format, so I was very eager to read The Mirror Cracked when it came out this week. I don't want to give too much away, but this issue gives us another look at the Mirror, Mirror universe as Bearded Spock must journey to our universe to stop an alliance between evil Kirk and a Klingon Commander named Kor.

As you read the comic, it's hard not to be impressed with the effort Byrne has put into the artwork. I think I read somewhere that it actually takes him MORE time to do a comic this way than to draw it.  What you might not notice is what a fine job he's done with the story and dialogue. Every character sounds pitch perfect and the story moves at a fast clip with several plot twists. The last page even had a vibe like the ending of Trouble of Tribbles which put a nice smile on my face.

I highly recommend this comic if you are a fan of the old show!

- Jim

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Real Origin of Batman?

In the comments section of last weeks post on Bill Finger, Golden Age aficionado Cash Gorman presented this interesting insight into the origins of the Batman comic. Here's what he said:

Considering the first Batman story was lifted in writing AND art from a specific issue of THE SHADOW, I'm thinking that maybe a couple other guys might deserve the credit. But, it shows that if Finger was the main writer on that first issue, he and Kane were working closely together in swiping.

Commissioner James Gordon is the real name of the title character from THE WHISPERER whose nickname is that of another Bill Finger creation, Wildcat.

 The story of Batman being inspired by being surprised by a wayward bat is almost identical to the origin of another pulp hero called The Bat.

The origin of Two-Face is a direct lift of the origin of The Black Bat (as are Batman's finned gloves) despite the two companies almost suing each other over the near simultaneous publication of the first appearance of their respective heroes.

The Joker gas probably came from the 1919 Harry Houdini movie The Master Mystery by Arthur Reeve, a very chilling scene where some scientists are poisoned and laugh themselves to death. Also features an automaton, a literal man of steel also referred to as "a superman"

  -Cash Gorman

Editor's note: While looking for images to accompany Cash's comments, I also discovered that Bob Kane credits the 1930 mystery movie The Bat Whispers as an influence on the character:

Notice how similar the title character's silhouette is to Batman's signature entrance.

What I think this all points to is that Batman was the culmination of  a lot of different pulp era influences distilled and refined into a character who resonated so successfully with readers that he survived long after the pulps faded in popularity. With that in mind, it's fitting that the connection was spiritually acknowledged back in the 70's when Batman met The Shadow:

 - Jim

Friday, May 9, 2014

Marvel 75th Omnibus: What are the best stories?

Marvel has announced that in honor of their 75th anniversary, they are going to put out an omnibus containing their best stories from their long publishing history - but they need your help to do it:

“Marvel’s 75th Anniversary belongs to our fans as much as it does to our creators and everyone behind the scenes,” says Marvel SVP of Sales & Marketing David Gabriel. “From day one, Marvel fans have been an integral and vocal part of making Marvel the company it is today and we want their help in celebrating. The 75th Anniversary Omnibus is the perfect way to celebrate with our marvelous fans.”

You can email (what? yep.) your choices to:

Why they didn't set up a form to properly collect the data is a bit bizarre to me (unless the whole thing is just an attempt to collect email addresses)

Some thoughts strike me on this:

1) If they are really going to let fans vote on this, I suspect this is going to include more modern era dross than is to my taste. The fact that the house ad has a image from Age of Ultron might end up being ominous foreshadowing. I bet will see something from the Civil War era.

2) The omnibus is going to run 1200 pages. At an average of 20 pages a piece, that gives you about 60 stories. The actual announcement on BleedingCool asks readers to submit 75 entries. That might actually be a hard list to fill out. I consider myself to have a pretty good knowledge of Marvel comics and even I sort of wince at the idea of trying to come up with 75 stories.

3) How do you approach such a list? Do you try and build an even sampling from all the top tier/movie characters or do you not worry about that and just pull in anything? Howard the Duck, Man-thing,  Tomb of Dracula should debatably have at least one issue in such a tome, but is that what we will get?

4) A lot of Marvel stories sort of work best as part of an epic storyline (like the first appearance of Galactus in Fantastic Four 48, 49 and 50) How will they handle that? To include complete arcs sort of robs you of 75 different stories.

Still, thinking about it, it sounds like a fun challenge. I'll try to come up with my list and post it here next week.

- Jim

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Does DC need to get lawyered up?

Over on BleedingCool there is an article with a statement from Aletha Finger, granddaughter of Bill Finger, which suggests DC might have to gear up for an upcoming legal battle:

My grandfather has never been properly credited as the co-creator of Batman although was an open secret in the comic book industry and is widely known now. It is now my time to come out of the shadows and speak up and end 75 years of exploitation of my grandfather, whose biggest flaw was his inability to defend his extraordinary talent. Due to what I feel is continued mistreatment of a true artist, I am currently exploring our rights and considering how best to establish the recognition that my grandfather deserves.

For those of you not familiar with Bill Finger contributions to the Batman, check out this image of what Batman would have looked like prior to his input:

image from Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman

The short version is this: Bob Kane hired Bill Finger to write the Batman comic series. During his time on the book, it was Finger who created:
  • Robin
  • Commissioner Gordon
  • The Joker (with co-creator Jerry Robinson)
  • The Riddler (with co-creator Dick Spring)
  • The Penguin (with co-creator Kane)
  • The Scarecrow (with co-creator Kane)
  • Clayface
As you can see, pretty much everything we think of as the Batman mythos was created or co-created by Bill Finger. Yet, while DC is legally obligated to acknowledge Bob Kane as the a creator of Batman, Bill Finger never gets credit on any comics, movies or television shows.

The question I have is what is prompting Aletha Finger to take action now (rather than during the Nolan Batman films which seems like a more natural timing?)

- Jim

Sunday, May 4, 2014

10 Surprising Facts about The Rhino

With the Rhino making his big screen debut this weekend, here are some interesting fun facts about Marvel's one horned wonder:

1. Since his debut in Amazing Spider-man 41, Aleksei Sytsevich aka The Rhino has appeared in 607 publications. (A number which honestly shocked me.)

2. Despite being thought of as a staple in the Spider-man rogues gallery, his appearances in that title during the Bronze Age are very spotty. After his first appearance in ASM 41, he would not appear in that comic until almost 5 years later in ASM 98 (where he wouldn't even rate the cover.)

His next appearance wouldn't be until after the Bronze Age with issue 280.

3. So where was he during the Bronze Age? In the pages of The Incredible Hulk - where he showed up like clockwork every 2 years. Check out the regularity of his appearances in these issues below.

4.  58% of his appearances in Amazing Spider-man took place after 2000. 51% of those have been since 2010.

5. He only appeared in one issue each of Marvel Team-Up (102) and Marvel Two-In-One (98).

6. Conversely, he appears in two Marvel/DC crossover comics:

7. While he came along too late to be a member of the original Sinister Six, he was featured in both Deadly Foes of Spider-man and Lethal Foes of Spider-man:

 8. In a mini-series based off Daniel Keyes' Flowers for Algenon, The Rhino underwent a process to make himself smarter.

9. While he never showed up in the pages of Thor (which is sort of weird in of itself) he did show up in the pages of Thunderstrike.

10. Within the last few years, he reformed and got married.

During this time he was replaced by a newer version of the Rhino (who would not last long.)

And while his last appearance had him getting killed, comics being what they are, I'm sure we will see the Sytsevich version of the character reappearing someday.

- Jim


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