Sunday, November 30, 2014
There is much ballyhoo about the forthcoming demise of the "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine". Personally I'm not much buying it, as with any fictional concept the members of the Fantastic Four can abide quite nicely in the calm of hiatus awaiting the moment for an even more ballyhooed return. Lord knows that comic book characters these days get killed month in and month out, so merely slaying the team within a fictional framework might not get the free publicity bang the powers at Marvel desire. But cancelling their "flagship title" seems to have done the trick.
I haven't followed the FF for many years now, pretty much since Marvel cancelled the original run of the comic to replace it with a cavalcade of reboots and revivals. In a modern comic book environment when books are rebooted every other year, getting the news that the venerable FF has been cancelled seems oddly moot. They've been cancelled already, a few times, but they always return. And they will again.
There seems to be lots of intrigue in this announcement, as if the "House of Mouse" overlords who now own the "House of Ideas" are manipulating the secondary rights of the FF to limit the ability of the current film-rights owners to garner a rich bounty. By making the the FF seem less profitable, it might shake the characters loose for reassignment back within the bulwark of the vast and all-consuming engine which is Disney.
For my money it all seems to be a battle of the behemoths, two vast enterprises finagling the last erg of profit from the ideas of truly creative men who came before them. It all seems like a war which I care about far less than I'd imagine they'd hope.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
In The Martian War by Kevin J. Anderson we get to look behind the scenes, a secret history of sorts, as H.G.Wells along with a bevvy of more and less famous and some infamous colleagues wage a secret conflict against the notorious Martians.
Anderson introduces us to a young H.G. Wells and his paramour Jane Robbins, a bright and beautiful former student who plays a major role in the adventure. Along with the scientist-philosopher T.H. Huxley these two end up on an impossible odyssey away from Earth and venture to the Moon and later to Mars itself. Meanwhile Percival Lowell and his collaborator Dr.Moreau explore the nature of Martians on this very Earth.
I am loathe to say too much about this sprawling adventure which has wonderful pace and a delightfully playful style. I don't want to ruin the surprises which abound. We get to meet face to face many of the vintage Wells characters from stories as widespread First Men in the Moon, The Food of the Gods, The Invisible Man, and more besides.
You won't regret tagging along on this wild and wacky misadventure as we find out what really happened so long ago when Martians and men met for the first and last time.
Friday, November 28, 2014
War of the Worlds - Global Dispatches is an utterly fabulous collection of true yarns by a host of dandy sci-fi writers which has a single wonderful conceit. What if the Martian Invasion described so memorably by H.G.Wells had spread across the globe and what would have been the reaction of various significant literary and historical figures to that event?
The answer is this book, filled with just-the-right-sized stories purportedly by and or about the likes of Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, Jack London, Emily Dickinson, Jules Verne, Leo Tolstoy, Albert Einstein, Joseph Conrad, and H.P. Lovecraft.
The anthology originally came out in 1996 and I grabbed up a copy then, but recently I found it again having been reprinted by Titan Books and it was even more fun this time.
The stories are at times light-hearted, at times intense, at times revealing, but always entertaining. Even the least of them is fascinating in the offbeat picture it paints of the Martians, which are almost always presented consistent with the original novel .
Favorite moments are the stories in which Twain connives to get some profit from the Martians, in which the Martians display their amorous side in Paris, and in which we learn how the Martians are really quite nimble if only in the frozen North. The funniest story for me was when the Martians run up against some tough as nails cowboys in the American Southwest. Needless to say the invaders are less successful in a country where firearms are more plentiful and the will to use them downright gleeful.
This one gets my highest recommendation. It's an absolute hoot and a half.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
|Gil Kane and Dave Cockrum|
In 1976 Marvel Comics was publishing a number of new adaptations of a host of classic tales and soon enough War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells was picked to be a part of the run. Dave Cockrum apparently was given the nod to design the tripods for this one though the story itself was written by Chris Claremont and drawn by Yong Montano and Dino Castrillo, two of the reliable cadre of Philipino artists who powered through Bronze Age comics.
Below is a glimpse of two of the better splash pages.
Here's a nice peek at Dave Cockrum's own work and his design for the Martians and their awesome war machines.
Marvel adapted three other Wells stories.
To read Marvel's The War of the Worlds in all its glory check out this very Groovy link.
Wednesday, November 26, 2014
The War of the Worlds has been adapted to virtually every medium, but few as memorable as the vintage Classics Illustrated rendition by writer Harry Miller and artist Lou Cameron. The cover is without doubt one of the best in the whole of the Classics Illustrated run.
Cameron does his own distinctive interpretation of the invaders, creating a robust variation on the tripods. These have a slightly modern flavor to them.
And this issue of Classics Illustrated is unique to my experience in that in addition to several full-page images it has a center two-page spread, which must've been quite awesome in the early 50's when such tour de forces were quite rare save for Simon and Kirby.
The story by Wells has been simplified for comic use here and perhaps some of the horror stripped out for the benefit of the young target audience. The infamous Black Smoke is not evident as the invaders just plow ahead with highly visible heat rays. Also gone are the red weeds which create such a weird atmosphere in the latter stages of the story. Otherwise the tale stays true to the general structure of the Wells original.
This one has been reprinted by Jack Lake Productions who have the Classic Illustrated right these days. The asking price is steep, but for the War of the Worlds completist necessary, though I personally have this one as well as a rough copy of the original for less money.
Classics Illustrated adapted five of the Wells novels, but War of the Worlds was easily the most successful. Here is a glimpse at the others.
To read the Classics Illustrated War of the Worlds in some of its majesty check out this link.