Saturday, August 31, 2013

Time And Time Again!

Kang the Conqueror has established himself over the decades as the number one Avengers villain. I know folks want to elevate Ultron, and that one is a close call. I know some like Thanos, but I don't even consider that a conversation. The one guy who has relentlessly returned from spiraling twists and turns of time itself to battle the Assemblers time and again is Kang, the futuristic dictator armed to the teeth with technology stolen from across the ages. The collection The Avengers: Kang - Time and Time Again puts together some of my absolute favorite Kang tales.

Kang debuted in the eighth issue of The Avengers (not included in this collection). 

This pose by Jack Kirby and Chic Stone from that debut absolutely captures what I find so fascinating about Kang. He is so completely confident and so completely casual in his approach to the Avengers, as if they were truly beneath his notice. Clearly as the saga continued (and frankly became increasingly confusing) he became more and more focused on them, but in the beginning he just wanted to take over the world.

Jack Kirby and Vince Colletta
Kang returns in an infamous issue of Thor, this time bringing along his ever-expanding puppet, The Growing Man. The first battle with the Asgardian is an epic.

Sal Buscema and Sam Grainger
Sal Buscema and Sam Grainger
Sal Buscema and Sam Grainger
Then Roy Thomas has the Growing Man return alongside Kang to kickoff what remains my personal favorite Kang story, the classic trilogy which introduced both the Squadron Supreme and The Invaders, a portentous series of stories indeed. Sal Buscema was still in his early phase here and inked by Sam Grainger, he rarely looked better.

Herb Trimpe

Roy pens another Kang one-shot, a fabulous bit of adventure fantasy which pits the time-traveling baddie against the Hulk and a nigh-forgotten Marvel hero, the Phantom Eagle.

John Buscema and Tom Palmer
John Buscema and Tom Palmer
John Buscema and Tom Palmer

The collection closes out with a really smart trilogy by Roger Stern, John Buscema, and Tom Palmer which puts some really vivid spins on Kang lore. The Growing Man is on hand again as Kang battle the Avengers for sure, but mostly this time seems to war against himself most of all.

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Roots Of The Swamp Thing!

Swamp Thing has become a favorite, at least the original Swamp Thing as envisioned by scribe Len Wein and artist Berni Wrightson. I have never to my memory read any of the later renovations of the character by Alan Moore, and know precious little about them really, save that lots of folks love them. For me though it will always be the rockem' sockem' first run which captured and still holds my imagination.

While I only bought and read one or two original issues of the comic during its run, I've since bought the saga in reprint several times. I'm about to buy it again, this time in a very handsome and highly readable trade title Roots of the Swamp Thing. This volume not only collects the vintage Wein and Wrightson stories, which I own a few times, but includes for the first time the last several stories Wein wrote for new Swamp Thing artist Nestor Redondo.

Redondo was an ideal choice to replace the very atmospheric Wrightson, and while his Swamp Thing lacks the sense of awfulness that Berni infused him with, nonetheless Redondo is able to create a creature who is well served by the stories he finds himself in. I wish DC had included all of the first run so that more of Nestor's great art could be savored.

All Covers Above by Berni Wrightson
Luis Dominguez
Nestor Redondo
Nestor Redondo

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Thursday, August 29, 2013

New Tales Of Asgard!

The classic "Tales of Asgard" were reprinted in a handsome six-issue series boasting some above average covers by penciller Oliver Coipel and inker Mark Morales. Inside it's all Kirby, but these covers do give the characters a modern gloss which might serve well to introduce them to a new audience.

Those covers were all part of this panoramic visual feast. To full enjoy it, you'll have to enlarge, but hold onto your hat. It's a whopper!

And for the encyclopedia-minded here is that same artwork bonded with a handy-dandy key to the all the fantastic Kirby creations in question.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tales Of Asgard!

Tales of Asgard might well be Jack Kirby's most personally distinctive work during his legendary Silver Age tenure at Mighty Marvel. The Fantastic Four was incredible, the run on the lead Thor feature was awe-inspiring, but somehow the humble back-up feature "Tales of Asgard" is the story which connects to The King's highly intoxicating Fourth World work the most directly.For there to be "New Gods" there had to old, and these are them.

One of my nostalgic favorites was the totally awesome Tales of Asgard annual which hit the stands in 1968 collecting the earliest of these epic stories. These vivid tales were again collected up a few years ago and given a new modern gloss, a new coloring which some have objected to. To my eye it seems to give them a freshness which I'm eager to sample. So this year to celebrate the birthday of Jack "King" Kirby, I think I'll order up this handsome collection.

Here's a look at the enticing splash pages featuring inks by the likes of "George Bell" (George Roussos), Paul Reinman, Chic Stone, Don Heck, Bill Everett and Vince Colletta.

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