Friday, November 24, 2017

Herb Goes West!

Herb Trimpe was always one of my favorite Bullpen artists and despite his untimely passing some years ago, he still is. Famous for his definitive run on The Incredible Hulk soon after old Jadejaws got his title (for the second time), Trimpe went on to become a Marvel stalwart. He drew series as diverse as Ant-Man, G.I. Joe, Iron Man, Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD, Godzilla, Shogun Warriors and many more.

But one of the things I most remember Trimpe for was his delightful spate of covers for Marvel's western comic reprints of the early Bronze Age. Trimpe had a knack for portraying sprawling scenes of action with a strange ability to keep all the disparate figures in focus. Here's a heaping helping of some Trimpe classic covers. Enjoy!

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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Western Marvel Firsts - Two-Gun Kid!

Marvel was thrumming with energy when they pushed out a revised Two-Gun Kid onto the comic book marketplace. This Kid was a western variation on the superhero tropes which was working so well for the company at that moment -- the revised Rawhide Kid had been a big hit, so the duo of Lee and Kirby tried it again. Greenhorn lawyer Matt Hawk took over the comic with its sixtieth issue.

Before Hawk, there had been Clay Harder introduced way back in 1948. But his kind of western heroics felt somewhat tired compared to the more Kirby-infused energy of this new hero. Coming to the west to bring law and order to the chaos of the wild west, Matt quickly learns he is up against a more vicious foe than he'd anticipated. He runs across old gunslinger Ben Dancer who trains the eager Hawk in the ways of the west and Matt takes on the masked identity of the Two-Gun Kid while keeping his own self hidden behind the milquetoast veneer of the timid lawyer from the east. It was a pretty nifty premise, time-tested and it held its own for several years.

Here are some choice covers featuring the new and improved Two-Gun Kid.

I came to fully appreciate the Two-Gun Kid when Steve Englehart brought him and many other Marvel western stars into a time-twisting Avengers epic. Two-Gun liked the 20th Century and came forward with Hawkeye as his amigo and the two traveled around together for a time. They even had a one-shot adventure together in the one hundredth issue of Marvel Tales. (Check out this Groovy Link for that story and hang around for a Thanksgiving feast while you're at it.)  Eventually he returned to his time, but certainly this proved he was in many ways Marvel's most modern western star.

Only the debut issue of Matt's adventures have been collected as part of Marvel Firsts - The 1960s. I'd buy more if they put them out in a handy format.

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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Alternate Mark Of Kane!

Take this vintage 1969 fanzine Alter Ego cover with typically energetic Gil Kane images surrounding a Marie Severin portrait.

Add one vintage 1963 Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson Green Lantern cover from that classic DC run, in which the artist cleverly bends, if not breaks the Fourth Wall.

And you get the most recent  2017 Alter-Ego pro-zine cover for issue #149 from Roy Thomas and the gang at Twomorrows! Love this one boys. Some books you buy because of the covers. I'd have bought this one anyway, but I'd have bought for the cover too.

And for good measure, here is the interview from that long ago issue of Alter Ego.

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Dojo Classics - Jonah Hex!

Blockbuster is running a special this month, one free movie everyday (if it's not too new). Since I live right next to a Blockbuster, I've been taking advantage of that and yesterday I took a gander at the Jonah Hex movie from last year. It left the theaters so quickly I didn't get a chance to see it, and frankly I'd forgotten about it until I saw it on the racks.

It's sure a short movie, the whole thing like just over eighty minutes long including some lengthy credits. The movie got almost universal pans, but I have to say I found virtues in it.

Josh Brolin is a worthy Hex, his grumbly exterior suits the character well. I read that Thomas Jane wanted the part, and frankly I think he would have been better, at least in looks. He's got a great glare too.

Megan Fox is a lovely girl, but she has almost no part in this movie other than being eye candy. They want to suggest otherwise, but frankly she has little to do and her contributions at the end seem forced.

John Malkovich does one of his usual baddie jobs, but it's become rather typical for him.

Michael Fassbender as the psychotic Burke is interesting and was worthy of more screen time. His demise was easily the most interesting of any of the characters in the movie.

This movie seems to have been a tight flick with the back story melded in to the main plot through flashbacks, but clearly someone thought that wasn't going to be clear enough so they added an odd partially animated "origin" at the beginning which frankly took away from the impact of the movie.
I could almost see where those scenes were supposed to go originally and it would've been best to leave them there. Hex is supposed to be a mystery at first, one that we unravel, but someone didn't have confidence in our ability to do that.

This isn't a great movie by any stretch, but it was entertaining enough with just enough occult and Wild West moments to keep it fresh. You sure can't say it drags, because it is a brisk adventure with some wild violence, for those who must have violence.

I paid nothing to see it, and I didn't feel cheated.

UPDATE: The detail that dates this review is simply that it mentions Blockbuster, a company which died off many years ago now due to the advent of streaming and whatnot. For me the advent of DVDs feels like yesterday, but it's a fast-paced world we live in. As for the movie itself, time has not been kind to Jonah Hex, it's regarded as a dud. I can't disagree, but it's no worse than the dimwitted Lone Ranger we got a few years ago. Why can't Hollywood make a decent western from these kinds of heroes. Jonah Hex could've and should've been a movie on par with the Blade series, a snappy sidebar character with a rich universe in which to play. Missed chance for sure.

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Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Gil Goes West!

Once upon a time Gil "Sugar Lips" Kane was the main cover artist for Marvel Comics. His images dominated the newsstands as he cranked out cover after cover for the "House of Ideas". While not all of them are gems, they are all full of the particular energy Kane could bring to his imagery. He seemed able to find that singular moment when the potential action was at its most compressed.  Something about the westerns though seemed to bring out his best dramatic work as evidenced by this score of covers from that vintage Kane era. Enjoy!

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