Thursday, October 30, 2014

Scary Posts of Halloweens Past

In honor of the Halloween, here are several links to posts from over the years that fit the season well:

Sympathy for the Devil: A Bronze Age Spotlight by Trey Causey

Marvel Monster Makeovers


Ten Lesser Know Bronze Age Monsters

Is Frankenstein in Public Domain?

Have a happy Halloween!

- Jim

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Secret Origin of Secret Wars?

Bleeding Cool has a nice retrospective on Marvel's Secret Wars, which had me wondering what exactly was Jim Shooter's inspiration for that story? It's well know among comic historians that the series was written to support a Mattel toyline...

...but I don't ever recall reading where Jim Shooter came up with the idea for the series. Thinking about the series and Shooter's previous work, here are some other places where we see some of the concepts that appeared in Secret Wars.

First, The Legion of Superheroes - there are a number of stories which are similar to Secret Wars, including:

The Super-Stalag of Space

In this story, the Legionnaires find themselves trapped in an unescapable super-hero prison camp, very much like how the Marvel heroes are trapped on the Beyonder's man-made world. Also like Secret Wars, death is used to heighten the dramatic tension of the story.

The Menace of Beast Boy

Like Secret Wars, this story has the Legionnaires trapped and forced to fight one another. The interesting thing about this story, is that while in the Marvel Universe, superhero vs superhero battles were common place, they were rarely seen in the DC Universe during the Silver Age. Even during the Bronze Age, DC lagged far behind Marvel in this plot device. 

Another interesting idea from Secret Wars was how the story was introduced to readers. What Marvel did was in all of their regular monthly comics, they had a weird cosmic bubble appear in Central Park. Heroes would go into the bubble and then come out altered in some way with a reference to some mysterious adventure. For instance, the Hulk went into the cosmic bubble and then returned with a broken leg.

That sort of glimpse into an untold story was pretty novel at the time and really hooked readers on the series in advance. In many ways, it was similar to the Adult Legionnaires story from Adventure Comics which showed Superman walking through a memorial to fallen heroes.

The last story element that may have come from the LoSH was the Beyonder himself. As he was presented, he was an omnipotent being who dwarfed the powers of the assembled heroes. This could have been an extension of the Legion's most feared foe, Mordru. may have just been a lingering idea in Shooter's mind after his Avenger's storyline where another being with such power threatened the universe: Michael (Korvac)

We may never know for certain, but knowing Jim Shooter's relationship with the Legion of Superheroes, it's hard to imagine the stories above didn't play some role in the formation of the Secret Wars saga.

- Jim

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pat Broderick back at DC

From Bleeding Cool comes this news that warms my Bronze Age heart: Pat Broderick is returning to DC. What the project is hasn't been announced, but hopefully it will be something that suits his art. I've been a fan of his art style since I first encountered it in the pages of What-If 19.

What I liked about this comic was that at the time, in other titles, Spider-man was being drawn with a more standard superhero build, losing his original teenage lankiness, Broderick drew him with a angular, agile frame. In many ways, Broderick's style harkened back to the original feel that Steve Ditko had on the comic. Check out this fight scene between celebrity Peter Parker and his Judo instructors in What-If 19.

 While Broderick got to work on a number of Marvel titles, including one of my favorites, The Micronauts, where he really got to shine was at DC when he worked on Firestorm.

 He was also responsible for helping relaunch Captain Atom

Probably his most famous work at DC was his time on the Legion of Super-heroes where he and fellow ex-Marvel artist Keith Giffen helped usher in the Great Darkness Saga:

 One of my favorites from this time period was his work on the non-Superhero comic: The Lords of the Ultra-Realm.

 Also, while at DC he co-created the Creature Commandos...

...I've always liked the idea of this group, and you would probably have guessed that if you've seen the Flashback Universe comic: The League of Monsters  In many ways, Pierre's art often reminds me of Broderick's style. Check out the faces on the cover of our Saturn Knight comic. Amanita's face in particular has a very Broderick angularity to it.

While it's probably too much to hope for, wouldn't a Creatures Commandos movie seem like a no lose proposition in this era of super-heroic blockbusters? I wonder if Broderick is going to be working on a new Creature Commandos limited series? Whatever it is, I'm looking forward to seeing it.

- Jim

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Daredevil, Civil War and Wonder Woman's Origin

Here's a catch all post on some of the news that came out last week about comics in movies and television and what I think about the news.

First up: The Netflix Daredevil show was previewed at NYCC. Judging by what some of the people who saw the preview are saying, most came away saying they liked what they saw. Unfortunately, the rest of us outside of NYCC only get this image of the new Daredevil costume:

Which sort of reminds me of the Daredevil costume from The Trial of the Incredible Hulk television movie.

And while this costume probably won't please some people, if I've learned anything from Arrow, it's that the costume does not make the show. I was originally turned off by the boring ninja looking costume used on Arrow, so much so that I completely passed on checking the show out during the first season. It wasn't until StevieB and my Father-In-Law recommended the show to me that I watched a few episodes and discovered how good it was.

Also, Ben Affleck's costume in the Daredevil movie was quite true to the comics version and that movie was pretty bad.

Next up comes the news that Captain America 3 (and Avengers 3?) may follow the Civil War storyline.

On paper, this sounds like a no lose scenario. Civil War was perhaps Marvel's most successful event comic of all time and many Marvel movie fans seem to ask for anytime Marvel movies get discussed anywhere. (A bit like how that one drunk guy constantly yells Play Crazy Train at Black Sabbath reunion concerts.)

Here's the thing - the whole premise of Civil War was the superhero registration act which would require heroes to reveal their secret identities to the government. One of the bigger story points in Civil War was the revealing of Spider-man's identity.

So, how would that work in the MCU where no hero actually has a secret identity? I suppose they can find some other reason to divide along party lines, but without the motivation of keeping secret their identities, I'm not sure the us/them plot works as well. (And let's not kid ourselves - the original Civil War storyline was a bit contrived as it was.)

Finally, Blstr has a quote from one of the producers on the Batman v Superman movie about Wonder Woman's background in the movie:

"She's a demigod. Her father was Zeus."

Why this may be significant is that up until now, there was speculation that Wonder Woman (and all Amazons) were going to be descendents of a lost colony of Kryptonians. That they may be going with a more traditional origin with greek gods also suggests something about the world Superman and Batman exist in.

Then again, Zeus could have been a Kryptonian and the term demigod could be getting used liberally here.

Ultimately, I don't think Mom and Pop America  care about her origin. It was never a major concern of the television appearances or the DC animated features. By and large, I think most non-comic book people just see her as sort of a generic female action hero.

Which is how we get stuff like this:

Just like Thor, Wonder Woman _exists_ and that's all most people need to really know to enjoy a Summer Blockbuster.

- Jim

Friday, October 10, 2014

A Secret Wars without The X-men or Fantastic Four?

From Bleeding Cool: Marvel Announces a Secret Wars event for 2015. Written by current Avengers scribe Jonathan Hickman, the series will run for 12 issues.

I believe anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis probably saw this coming. It was only a matter of time before the constant need for new events was eventually resulted in revisiting the Secret Wars brand.

What's most interesting about this event is if you examine the cover, you don't see a single X-men or member of the Fantastic Four.

Most people are chalking this up to the unspoken edict against promoting the characters which are licensed to Fox movie studios. Others are saying the event is Avengers-centric, so showing the X-men or Fantastic Four wouldn't make sense.

Considering that the verbiage about the event sounds like a marketing pitch to a toy company, it's a bit hard to believe that the exclusion of the X-men is solely for storytelling reasons. Check out how the event is announced in USA Today:

Marvel announced Thursday night at New York Comic Con that the new company-wide Secret Wars comic — written by Avengers scribe Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Esad Ribic — will not only affect the entire publishing side when it debuts in the spring but boasts a story that crosses over to digital platforms, introduces new consumer products from various licensees and will work in a synergistic fashion across the Marvel brand.

While I can't say for sure what the motivation is for excluding the X-men, doesn't it  sound a bit rediculous to have such an event, tie it in with consumer products (ie: Toys) and NOT include Wolverine? (How will ever get a new Wolverine figure with his Secret Shield?)

- Jim

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Monkey Talk Episode 1 - Thoughts on Future's End and Original Sin

I mentioned something special last week and here it is - my debut appearance on the Monkey Talk Podcast! In the video below, you'll see me, StevieB and Trex from Nerds Of The Apocalypse and Jeff (the owner of Punk Monkey Comics) as we discuss DC's Future's End Event Month and Marvel's Original Sin.

For many of you, this is probably going to be your first time actually seeing what I really look like, and with that said, I want you to kindly remember this is my first appearance on a podcast, so my performance is a bit green here. :)

If you've been following this blog for a while, you'll know my opinion of Original Sin. However, I haven't said much about DC's Future's End here on the FBU, so you might be interested in my thoughts on that. Of particular note, if you want to cut to the chase, skip to the 1:10:21 mark on the video to see what I had to say about the Grayson Future's End issue.

Of the issues that came out during the Future's End month, it's not only the best, it's possibly the best self contained comic to come out this year!  I'm not alone in recognizing this issue is something special. I strongly encourage you to check it out.


- Jim

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Fantastic Four vs Dick Tracy

Over at Vulture, Miles Teller, one of the stars of the new Fantastic Four movie is quoted as saying:

 All those actors were a lot older, their characters were in different places. The tone of this film is completely different: We don’t have Michael Chiklis in a big Styrofoam thing, and I think that [a more grounded approach] is what people are into — X-Men: First Class is doing that. You’re dealing with these characters but you’re making them real people in how they exist day-to-day. People wanted it to be taken more seriously than the kind of Dick Tracy, kitschy, overly comic-book world.

Referencing Dick Tracy? Is that the plan? To somehow use the (debatable) diminished reputation of a comic strip (not even a comic book) movie from 1990 to justify the rather unorthodox approach the Fantastic Four movie seems to be taking?

And he says, people don't want a kitschy, overly comic-book world?  Was he in a coma all August?
To me, Teller's statement sounds like the sort of thing he heard from someone else. Given that he was only 3 when the Dick Tracy movie came out, I doubt he has firm memories of how it was received at the time. I would more likely point towards Fox executives as the original source of the comment as they may be using similar statements to deflect questions about their creative decisions. 

I'm starting to think Fox realizes they have a bit of a train wreck on their hands and they are getting worried. Remember, the Fantastic Four movie is coming out in June 2015. The production has been finished since August. So where are the teaser trailer or promo images for the movie? A google image search reveals only one image and it's a leaked piece of post production.

Well, the moment of truth is coming up soon. When the Super Bowl airs in America, it will be up to Fox to have a teaser or trailer ready by then. If they don't, it's going to look very bad. I would go so far as to say if we don't see a trailer during the Super Bowl, that Fox may be considering scrapping the project altogether.

Stay tuned for further developments. :)

- Jim


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