Jul 31, 2011

Sal's Sunday Punch #6

Y'know sometimes you need more oomph to your punch. Sometimes you need to really really knock it out of the park. The best way to do that, of course, is to get Sal Buscema to draw the thing. But if you want to really take it over the top there's only one way to do it.

You gotta go for the Double Sal Buscema Punch.

From Captain America #150, written by Gerry Conway, drawn
by Sal Buscema and inked by Tony Mortellaro and John Verpoorten.
So in this story Cap and his sidekick The Falcon fight alongside Batroc the Leaper against an evil doppelganger of The Stranger, who actually wants to die and is trying to get the heroes to kill him. Sorta.

But none of that is important. What's important is that two dudes at once punch the Stranger and he goes flying, flipping over backwards and screaming. Sal Buscema style.

--Andrew S.

Here Comes A New Challenger: Nova

So we've recently learned who the new characters'll be in Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, and they're a pretty solid collection of fan-favorites.  I'm actually not much of a video game guy, but we've had a request to profile the new Marvel characters from Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3, so hey, why not.  They're well-known to comics fans, but they're otherwise pretty obscure - the same could probably be said for the Capcom side, as I've only heard of two of the six.  Anyway, today we'll be starting out with Nova: The Human Rocket!

(Nova #1, written by Marv Wolfman, art by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott)

Jul 28, 2011

Spider-Mannotations: Amazing Spider-Man #666

So, as a Spider-Man fan, I'm pretty jazzed for Spider-Island.  For the uninitiated, it's the first Spider-Man-centric crossover since...well, ever, really.  There have been a ton of crossovers within the Spider-Man books themselves, but never has a Spider-Man storyline bled over into other ongoings (okay, Maximum Clonage crossed over into New Warriors for one issue).  Comics fans love the crossovers, despite claiming they don't, so this'll probably pick up a lot of readers, many of whom haven't been following the book in years, if ever.  But Dan Slott is a continuity maniac (and I mean that in the best possible sense), and he loves to toss in obscure references.  So, as a certified Spider-Manologist (with a minor in Venomonomy), it is my duty to give you the Annotated Spider-Island!

You maniacs!  You...painted it...
(Amazing Spider-Man #666, art by Stefano Caselli)

Let's Review Fear Itself: FF

Cover by Gabrielle Dell'otto

I picked up this comic today, and since we have this blog here I thought I'd review it. Let's see, what can I say about Fear Itself: FF?

It's pointless.

Man, that was a short review. I should probably talk more about it, shouldn't I? The book is written by Cullen Bunn, I've never heard of him, but you can visit his blog here. It's drawn by Tom Grummett and inked by Cory Hamscher and Rick Magyar.

It's a one-shot that ties into the Fear Itself event. Basically Fear Itself goes like this: an ancient Norse god is giving out power hammers to a bunch of dudes and making them evil. One of the dudes happens to be The Thing. So he's evil.

That means he has to fight the FF.

Now that's a formula... for DRAMA!

Jul 25, 2011

There's a Phantom at Your Window.

From "Little Toma", by Lee Falk and
Wilson McCoy. Reprinted in Frew #931A

Have you ever noticed that somtimes comics have themselves little visual motifs. Especially ongoing long-running series. They have these little visual queues or concepts that pop up again and again. I've noticed that.

I've especially noticed it with The Phantom. Sy Barry's punch panels are so iconic that they've been parodied about a million times.

But sometimes there's a less commonly recurring visual motif. Something that comes up every now and then... just often enough for you to notice it as a pattern. For example... the Phantom sure as hell likes peeping in people's windows!

Sal's Sunday Punch #5

Because it's still Sunday somewhere, it's a special COSMIC-POWERED Sal's Sunday Punch!

In 1990's Spectacular Spider-Man #160, written by Gerry Conway with art by Sal Buscema, we're in the middle of Acts of Vengeance, the Marvel event where the villains swapped heroic enemies, in the hopes that, say, if Boomerang couldn't beat Spider-Man, maybe he could beat Hawkeye.  Spoiler: no, he cannot.  Anyway.  Further screwing up the plan is Spider-Man getting crazy-powerful cosmic Captain Universe powers.  See, Captain Universe isn't one guy - there's this powerful energy entity...thing, the Uni-Power, and it gloms onto someone who needs it for some nebulous purpose.  Anyway.  Dr. Doom's noticed this, and he's all about stealing cosmic powers from guys, so he's hauled TESS-1, a super-robot from the '40s, and he's sent it to fight Spider-Man.  See, it was built in case guys like Captain America turned against the government - TESS stands for Total Elimination of Super-Soldiers.


What's important is that there's this robot, and Spider-Man has to punch it really hard.

So hard.

Jul 24, 2011

Let's talk about yuri: Gokujou Drops

A pretty stock dramatic device in basically any form of fiction is the use of recurring motifs at regular intervals, as a means of punctuating the story. If you ever read F. Scott Fitzgerald's "Babylon Revisited" in school, you'd recognize that as drinking. If you're a modern Doctor Who fan, it's running aimlessly about while dramatic music plays. In a Sal Buscema comic, it's someone getting punched so hard they fly towards the reader.

Remember, always read from right to left. This post'll be kind of NSFW.

In Gokujou Drops, it's girl-on-girl groping. Do I have your attention now?

Son of Unstable Molecules: Spidey Super Stories

Orange shirt, brown sweater vest? Yeah,
this is 1974, all right. (From issue #1. Art
by Winslow "Win" Mortimer and Mike
I have very briefly touched on Spidey Super Stories in a previous post. To the uninitiated, the series was a tie-in comic to a 1970s PBS educational program called The Electric Company, which I have never actually seen because it was before my time. To my knowledge, it is mainly known today for starring a very young Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno.

However, one thing I do know about The Electric Company is that it featured Spider-Man as a recurring character in its segments. The catch was that he would not actually speak: instead, comic-style dialogue balloons would appear above him, which the children at home would read. Spidey Super Stories was thus launched to, well, cash in on this new-found media exposure he'd gained, and presumably to get kids into the idea of reading comics (as the stories and dialogue in SSS were much simpler than in the mainstream Spider-books).

Being launched in 1974, though, meant the series was at the whims of '70s fashion trends. Thus, we were treated to the rebirth of Peter Parker's fascination with the sweater vest, and his apparent new-found fondness for yellow and orange.


Action is his reward.

I know what you like.  Don't think I don't see that the top half of the Popular Posts list is all Archie sex metaphors and lesbian harems (and, uh, Alpha Flight).  You want the S-E-X.  Scanner's still broken, so let's see what I've got on my hard drive...

1992's Amazing Spider-Man #357, written by Al Milgrom with art by Mark Bagley and Randy Emberlin, is the penultimate issue of the truly ridiculous Round Robin: The Sidekick's Revenge storyline, which involves the Secret Empire, the Seekers (not Starscream et al, but some goofy Iron Man villains), obligatory '90s guest stars (Darkhawk!  Nova!  Night Thrasher!), and Moon Knight's presumed-dead-but-actually-an-evil-cyborg sidekick Midnight (hence the title, because Moon Knight is kinda like Batman and his sidekick is kinda like oh ho ho my sides).  Anyway, Spider-Man's taking a break from looking for Nova, who got himself captured because he is a dope - but after a little something something, he gets a call from Moon Knight:

Amusingly, the following panel reveals that Moon Knight heard
this entire conversation.  I bet he spent their next teamup snickering under his cowl.
Peter, you dork.  You're lucky she didn't sell your marriage to Mephisto after that.

Jul 23, 2011

Now You're Reading With POWER!

The art improves after the jump. Honestly.
I've been reading comics my entire life. Like everyone who's interested enough in comics to write about them, I've read and thoroughly enjoyed my fair share of superhero books. But really, superhero comics are a small subset of comics as a whole. For the majority of my childhood, aside from that amazing box of crazy 60s and 70s comics I found in the basement, the majority of my new comics came from non-superhero sources. The comics pages in the newspaper—both weekday and sunday—were a constant source of new entertainment, and my school's book club would often provide me with collections of new-to-me Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield and Peanuts. And I'd find other comics in weird places, too, like in the pages of video game magazine Nintendo Power.

In 1992 and 1993, Nintendo Power published "Super Mario Adventures" as a monthly comic feature based loosely on Super Mario World. Looking back on it now, it was clearly a translated kid's manga, but at the time I don't think I or anyone I knew had ever heard the term. Between being a primer on some of manga's best (or at least most recognizable) drawing tropes, the fun screwball pacing that came from being published originally in a weekly magazine, and the treasure trove of Mario fan-pleasing references, it's no surprise that I've come to love this book—it's no masterpiece, but it's pulp entertainment, and that's comics as their purest.

Jul 18, 2011

Let's talk about the Beano

To make it easy on me, all these scans
are from Beano #3348, from 2006. I chose
it completely at random.
Ahh the Beano.

The Beano is an ongoing British comic book that started way back in 1938. It’s not a fart remedy, or an obscure Portuguese band. It’s not an ESPN commentator. It’s not even an Eric Clapton album. Okay, it’s on the album, and some people call it the Beano album, but that’s not what I’m talking about!

Look, the point is – the Beano is a British comic book. In fact it’s THE quintessential British comic book. It’s not the oldest British comic book, it’s not even the oldest book that’s still in print. It is however the longest running weekly comic book of all time. So that’s pretty impressive.

The Beano, like most British comics is an anthology series made up of a bunch of comic strips. Each strip stars a main character, or cast of characters, and generally the title of the strips describe that character and who they are pretty thoroughly.

There’s Dennis the Menace, Biffo the Bear, Minnie the Minx, Rodger the Dodger, Billy Whizz, and… god there’s so many others.

Jul 17, 2011

Sal's Sunday Punch #4

Well it's that time again, so what's say we take a stroll down kick-butt lane with our fine friend Sal Buscema? How about a battle between brothers? Being brothers is great, but there's always a bit of sibling tension. Especially when there's a woman involved.

But what happens when one of the brothers is a photonic man, and the other one is an android? What happens when the woman is a witch who dresses all in sexy, sexy red? Surely any tensions would be resolved rationally -- between friends.

I know, Viz. What kind of BEAST would be
friends wth Wonder Man?
Guess not...

Jul 16, 2011

Let's talk about yuri: Iono the Fanatics

Remember, always read from right to left.
I was actually going to start off this feature with something far more mundane before I got to the really embarassing stuff, but honestly, pretty much nothing I can write about can top Rob pleading for a Cardiac miniseries, so we might as well just jump into the crazy right away. Iono the Fanatics is a comic about the queen of a small country who comes to visit Japan in order to pick up black-haired girls for her giant harem.

Yeah, we're keepin' it classy.


So hey, remember how I was talking about Swarm, and how he successfully tapped into the '70s pop-culture zeitgeist?  Well, today I'm gonna talk about a character who tried to tap into the '90s pop-culture zeitgeist, and...wasn't quite as successful.

From the pages of 1996's Green Goblin #7, Tom DeFalco, Scott McDaniel, and Derek Fisher give you...the Steel Slammer!

Come on and slam, and welcome to the jam.

Jul 12, 2011

Supergirl's greatest costume of all time.

Supergirl's costume is changed all the friggin' time. It's as transient as Lady Gaga. DC just can't seem to find a look they're satisfied with. Unfortunately, they've already passed by the greatest costume they've ever devised. They used it in Adventure Comics #415, laughed at it within the story itself, and then it was never seen again.

And I only know it exists because of a comic scan from Girl-Wonder.org.

Despite the in-universe derision of it, I am in love with it. There's just something that's playful and energetic and utilitarian about it. C'mon, it has pockets! Wearing it, you can see she's excited to be a superhero. Plus it doesn't make her look like a teenage sextoy.

So I had to draw it.

Jul 10, 2011

Hey Maniacs! Here's a Transformers quiz!

So there's this thing in Australia called "Mania". It's a kids' magazine, for kids. It has some comics in it, but it's mostly just a bunch of loosely disguised advertorials for various kids' properties. Here's a great example of one for you... a little Transformers quiz.

"Yaks" is short for "Maniacs". IE: Mania readers. And now you know!
 If you want the answers to the quiz you'll just have to hit the 'read more', because I've blacked them out here! Just be aware that there's a little rant before the answers!

Jul 9, 2011

I felt like writing about Swarm today.

Some villains have to work for greatness.  You might think that a guy with the unlikely name of "Dr. Doom" whose primary motivation is resentment towards his college roommate might be a lame villain, no?  Well, if you would, you'd be a Communist, because Dr. Doom rules.  But some villains just have a great concept - and even if their subsequent adventures don't turn out to be world-shattering epics, they're still cool.  One such villain is Swarm - because he is a Nazi made of bees.

Don't ask how the bees support that cape.  Or, uh, how he has eyes.

UK vs. USA #1: Make Sure It's Formatted

This is gunna be a big, long, rambling one folks. I wanna talk to you about the super interesting topic of comic book formats. So brace yourselves! Just a quick note up front that this article will basically be ignoring newspaper comic strips (and their reprints), and internet comics (and their reprints) just for simplicity's sake.

Can you guess which are the UK and which are the US comics?

So let's talk about the essential difference between American comic books and British comic books. Not the stories or the characters. Not the themes, or style, or tone. Let's talk about the difference in format.

Jul 6, 2011

As promised.

Geez Dan Decarlo, you do make it hard to choose!
This one's for Monzo and Walky!

--Andrew S.

Jul 3, 2011

Sal's Sunday Punch #3

It's a very special Incredibly '90s Sal Buscema Punch!
"It's okay, I guess.  I've been punched harder."
(Spectacular Spider-Man #219, written by Tom DeFalco and Todd DeZago, art by Sal Buscema and Scott Hanna) 
In today's installment, from 1994's Spectacular Spider-Man #219, Spider-Man's been poisoned by the evil avian duo of the Vulture and the Owl (in an amusingly Silver-Agey touch, he was scratched by an actual vulture with poison-soaked talons), and he's teamed with Daredevil to find the cure!  Too bad for him that there is no cure.  And, you know, because it's 1994, Daredevil is wearing an armored costume and keeps insisting that he isn't Matt Murdock because he faked his own death with his Infinity War doppelganger, and the Vulture is wearing an armored costume and is also young, having drained the life energy of Peter Parker's robot spy mom.  Comics, man.

He's Magically Vicious

Despite the Kirby-centric paragraph to the left,
the art here is credited to Dick Ayers. Just FYI.
So it's fair to say that I'm a fan of Jack Kirby. However, I don't think I've read as much of his material as I would like - in terms of collections, I believe I only have The Forever People of his Fourth World books, and a couple trade paperbacks of his '70s Captain America and the Falcon run. So when I saw a reprint of the Joe Simon/Jack Kirby run of The Fly for cheap at a local comic show, I made sure to snatch it up.

The Fly is one of the Archie Adventure Series heroes, published by, yes, Archie Comics. The company actually started out publishing superheroes (under the name MLJ Magazines), but America's Favorite Teenager soon eclipsed his super-brethren in popularity and became the publisher's flagship character.

Where does The Fly figure into this? He's not one of the "Golden Age" heroes of MLJ, for one, having been created by Simon and Kirby in the early 1950s. He became part of their core stable in years to come, though - whenever there was an Archie superhero revival, you'd be sure to see him alongside The Shield and the Black Hood (who did start out in the '40s), even if he was sometimes called Fly-Man.