Friday, November 30, 2012

Fire Burn, And Cauldron Bubble!

This is one weird cover. I don't reckon who the artist is, but clearly this British reprint comic featuring the adventures of The Avengers and Conan the Barbarian suggests that the two franchises hook up for an exceedingly creepy crossover. At least that's what this truly bizarre cover suggests. Shades of Arkon the Magnificent!

And while we're on this subject. Here is a trio of covers which show an odd voyeuristic connection between the Marvel Universe and the Hyborian Age. 

The GCD suggests these covers might be the work of either Bob Hall or Keith Pollard. It's not clear.

Rip Off

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Web And The Flame!

The Amazing Spider-Man and The Human Torch have long been amigos in the Marvel Universe. The two teen heroes were simultaneously rivals and comrades. They were were rivals in that they were both ego-driven heroes who didn't necessarily shy from public attention.

One was a public hero, his face and name well known, part of a team mostly trusted by the community and well known for having saved folks far and wide from harm. The other was an infamous masked vigilante who was the target of a focused media attack and who was grudgingly accepted by the authorities for the good he accomplished. They were alike and they were different.

They were both young men, both misunderstood in their minds by the larger adult community which sometimes branded them rash and reckless. Whatever the reason, Johnny Storm and Peter Parker seemed to find a connection, one which would flicker through out the early years of the burgeoning Marvel Universe.

Below is a cover gallery of most of those meetings, presented in chronological order. As the years pass, the Torch's star dims somewhat, but Spidey's burns brighter and brighter.

March 1963

September 1963

September 1963

December 1963

January 1964

October 1964

December 1964

February 1965

Summer 1965

November 1967

February 1968

April 1965

October 1969

In 1972 the two heroes were joined "permanently" in the pages of Marvel's new comic "Marvel Team-Up". The first three issues of the comics featured the duo. With the fourth issue the Torch gave way, and the book became largely a Spidey team up vehicle. The Torch did get the starring  gig  several times a year, but that eventually fell to the wayside.

March 1972

May 1972

July 1972

June 1973

November 1975

December 1976

I close out this gallery with this bicentennial year comic. Spidey and the Torch would co-star on other covers, but with the Marvel Universe having grown and filled with heroes, their special bond would become less and less prominent and of less significance for the fans. It didn't make it less special though.

Rip Off

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Monster Unleashed!

In the early summer of 1968 one of the most iconic images of the Incredible Hulk burst into our shared consciousness. Marie Severin and Frank Giacoia, then the regular art team on the Hulk created the cover above. The Hulk, seen here in his powerful but somewhat handsome phase which Severin ushered in, reaches menacingly toward the reader, bits and pieces of the street and sidewalk crumbling about his emerald shoulders. The Hulk here famously has only four toes on his Gamma-spawned gunnboat, a clear oversight by the art team as well as editorial. Most likely in the speed of production this detail was just plain missed, but any true believer can conjure all manner of No-Prize winning excuses for it. It doesn't take away from the raw power of the image in the least.

Here's a look at this classic pose in the raw.

It's a cover that has been used time and again for reprint efforts, even serving as the cover for the second Essentials volume of the Hulk's adventures.

The very next month gave us this sky-high brawl between Jadejaws and his arch-foe in these two comics, the Missing Link. The Link is a mutated Neanderthal caveman, dug up by a foreign power and overwhelmed by radiation from a nuclear blast. He was contaminated undergoing a constant metamorphosis, becoming more and more dangerous. The Missing Link was dropped into the heart of New York City by the Soviet version of S.H.I.E.L.D. and immediately started busting up the place in conflict in the Hulk. He was a man, out of time and lost. He was used as a living weapon, but turns on his masters and destroys them and himself.

He would turn up again a few years later in the Hulk, living in Appalachia, having recovered as do almost all comic book characters. Now he was a man out of time, but a man of peace, though tragically doomed. The Link will always be a fave villain, a baddie who really wasn't all that bad.

Herb Trimpe and John Romita

Rip Off

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Wrecker!

Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta
This might sound strange given all the world-beating foes that Thor has faced over the decades, one of my favorites of his rogues gallery is The Wrecker. The Wrecker was a mere thug named Dirk Garthwaite, a burglar who uses a crowbar to commit his crimes, and who accidentally gets imbued with some Asgardian power during a robbery.

(Note: Apparently John Romita and John Verpoorten did some alterations on the three figures at the bottom of this cover according to the GCD.)

Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta

The Wrecker very quickly turns his influx of power to his advantage and ends up in a brutal struggle with the Son of Odin. He actually defeats Thor in their first meeting, dropping a building on him. But The Destroyer shows up and knocks The Wrecker for a loop.

Jack Kirby and Bill Everett

 The Wrecker doesn't return until many moons later. He and Thor tee off again, this time their battle reaches a conclusion and Thor does indeed emerge victorious. But it's a very hard-won victory.

When next we see The Wrecker he is not alone. He has shared his magical might with some fellow prisoners giving birth to The Wrecking Crew.  The crew consists of The Wrecker, Thunderball, Pile-Driver, and Bulldozer. The Wrecking Crew would become a Marvel baddie mainstay, debuting in the pages of The Defenders, but showing up in a multitude of Marvel Comics for many many years. They supplied the raw power for many a grouping including a later incarnation of the Masters of Evil and notably during Marvel's first Secret Wars.

Sal Buscema and Dan Green

The Wrecker has proven to be a sturdy villain.

Rip Off

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Adventures Of Tintin!

My only "Black Friday" purchase was a copy of The Adventures of Tintin which I found cheap at Target. I never got around to seeing this in the theater and as it turned out that was a blessing for two reasons.

One reason is that the "camera work", the blend of motion capture they used to "film" this movie and the lush special effects made me somewhat dizzy in places as the spinning point of view was really a coaster ride at times. It's impressive, very impressive in a major action sequence toward the end of the flick,but  it was a tad annoying early on.

The second reason was that my daughters watched this delightful movie with me. It's the first movie all three of us have watched in years, and certainly the last all three of liked. They enjoyed it, found the characters clever and the action sufficient for their tastes.

I do think the story begins a bit coldly, with not enough set up, and after a bit of explanation by me my girls were plugged into the action nicely. But a typical viewer needed a bit more explanation early in the movie to establish the characters of Tintin and Snowy. It's not revealed that he's a reporter for quite a while, so his motivations seem odd at first. Also some of the faces seem a bit too weird at times, the translation from the abstract of the original art to the more realistic not completely successful in places. 

Captain Haddock was a favorite with all of us. The balance between humor and adventure was nicely handled all the way through, with enough deadly moments to make the action sting. The sweep of the story was excellent, growing as the plot unfolded. The range of settings was remarkable, and did not disappoint. The transitions between scenes were often downright brilliant.

All in all a dandy movie. I hear they might do more, and that's something to look forward to. Perhaps my girls and I can enjoy those too eventually.

Rip Off

Sam's Strip!

Sam's Strip by Jerry Dumas and Mort Walker is a gem. This 1961 comic strip is remarkable in that it's utter and complete meta-fiction. It's a comic strip about comic strips, self-referential and fourth-wall breaking in the extreme. Sam's Strip (you see the delightful first comic strip below) is famous now for featuring the non-authorized guest appearances of other comic strip characters such as Popeye, Dick Tracy, Little Orhpan Annie, Krazy Kat, The Yellow Kid, Snuffy Smith, the Peanuts gang, and many others. Here's a link which features several of the strips.

To read more about the origins of the strip read this by Jerry Dumas and this by Mort Walker. The Fantagrpahics collection is a typically solid production from them, very readable. The strip just lasted a few years finding critical acclaim but not much audience, and as far as I can tell all of the strips are  here. I found my at Half-Price Books for small money, perhaps you can do the same.

Highly recommended.

Rip Off