Sep 28, 2011

Who Watches the Nightwatch Part 2: Failure to Launch

February, 1993.  In the past few months, several of Marvel Comics' top talents have fled the company to form Image Comics, and their new creator-owned books are selling like hotcakes.  Without Lee, McFarlane, and Liefeld, Marvel is reeling.  It's time for something new.  Something bold.  Something that would be exactly like that book McFarlane is writing, Prawn or something.  Get me Terry Kavanagh.

Man, they missed a perfectly good opportunity for him to say his own logo there!  I love it when guys do that.

Sep 21, 2011


The art of the classic comic book cover is dying. It may, in fact, already be dead.

This might be a case of me being old before my time, but I feel that a strong comic book cover should sell you on the events that are going to transpire within the book it is attached to. It should not be a generic image of a single character standing there looking cool. That is not a good cover - that is a pin-up, and it does nothing to tell you about the story except that the character on the cover might be in it, a fact which is itself not even guaranteed.

In this letter column piece from DC's Secret Origins #40, then-editor Mark Waid discusses what went into making a classic DC Comics cover, describing what elements Silver Age editors knew would entice kiddies to give up their dimes.

This is knowledge, I feel, that has become lost over the years. Maybe, with the state of comics being what they are, and the tendency to "write for the trade", covers have lost their importance as sales tools. However, I still feel that covers are an important part of the craft of comic-making, and that the knowledge in this article needs to be passed on - even if, ironically, I didn't think artist Bill Wray's cover for this issue was actually very good.

(That is probably not in fact irony.)

Sep 18, 2011

Sal's Sunday Punch #11

It's a special pugilistic Sal's Sunday Punch!  It's 1995, and Peter Parker is accused of murder most foul!  (Unsurprisingly, the murder was committed by one of Peter's clones.)  And even though he's Peter's friend, Bugle reporter Ben Urich has to look into Parker's past.  As written by Titanic Tom DeFalco, penciled by Our Pal Sal Buscema, and inked by...uh, Ginormous Jimmy Palmiotti in Spectacular Spider-Man #225, Ben interviews Peter's high school principal about a little boxing match between Parker and his nemesis Flash Thompson...

It's the eye of the spider, it's the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of our rival...
What a jab!  Now, this is a flashback to Amazing Spider-Man #8, written by Stan "The Man" Lee and drawn by Sturdy Steve Ditko.  Let's see how the original stacks up...

Prediction: pain.
Well, Sal's rendition was more dynamic, but on the other hand, I love that goofy Ditko expression on Flash's face.  Let's call this one a draw.

Sep 17, 2011

Spider-Island Spider-Mannotations Supplemental - Who the Hell is the Gwen Stacy Clone?

If you're reading this blog, you probably know who Gwen Stacy is.  Spider-Man's girlfriend, pulled off the tricky hairband/go-go boots combo, father killed during Spider-Man/Doc Ock battle, later chucked off a bridge, source of constant guilt.  Pretty straightforward.  (I could also talk about the kids she had with Norman Osborn, but that's a conversation for another day - or preferably, never.)

But what about her clone?  She recently appeared in current Spider-crossover Spider-Island, only to be promptly killed off.  If you aren't a longtime reader, you probably weren't quite sure who she was, why she was still around, or why she was called "Joyce Delaney".  But that's why I'm here.  I'm a living fount of Spider-Man minutia, and I'm going to share it with you whether you like it or not.  So sit back and relax as I tell the terrible tale of the Gwen Stacy clone!  Also, you better make yourself a sandwich or something.  This could take a while.

Yeah, you better get used to saying that, Spidey.
(Amazing Spider-Man #144, art by Ross Andru)

Sep 15, 2011

It Came From The Dollar Bin: Generation X Underground Special

Full disclosure: I'm cheating this week. I picked this book up at retail, but as it fits the bill for the kind of books I'm featuring in this series, I'm using it anyway.

Mention the 90s to a comic book fan and the first thing that usually comes to mind is supermuscled, superviolent superheros. Though the decade is best known for Rob Liefeld and his over-the-top friends at Image, the popularity of "alternative" culture outside of comics also fed the independent comics scene. Black and white art was a sign of street cred. Unlike the counterculture comix of the 60s and 70s, indy comics of the 80s and 90s were primarily created by fans of mainstream comics. When a writer or artist who made their name doing a black-and-white book published by a small-press publisher like Oni or Slave Labor Graphics got an offer to write for one of the Big Two they usually jumped at the chance.

This week I introduce to you the results of one of those pairings, one of the least likely books to come out of Marvel Comics: Jim Mahfood's Generation X Underground Special.

Sep 9, 2011

Spider-Mannotations: Spider-Island: Avengers #1, Spider-Island: I Love New York City #1

Spider-Island rolls on, and so do the Spider-Mannotations!  Let's get it on.

Spider-Island: Avengers #1

"For the last time, Hawkeye, I don't know 'Rainbow Connection'."
(art by Leinil Francis Yu)

Sep 8, 2011

Let's talk about heterosexuality: A Bride's Story

I don't want to do a full review right now, because only one volume out of three has been released thus far, but I will tell you this: buy this comic right god damned now. I can guarantee it's the best romance you'll read this year. Seriously.

Sep 6, 2011

Advertainment: Kryptonite Rocks!

Rocks were apparently a thing in the '70s. I don't know this first-hand, because I was negative four in 1978, but I have heard stories of pet rocks here and there - most of them along the lines of "wait, seriously, rocks?". So, what happens when an inexplicable fad meets a seminal icon of pop culture?

Yes, friends! Kryptonite rocks! Merchandise that combines the excitement of pet rocks with the implied promise of giving Superman a slow, agonizing death! They glow in the dark! It's KRYPTONASTIC, and I DON'T EVEN KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS!

What makes this particular ad even better is that I scanned it out of a Marvel comic, though I can no longer remember what one it was. I guess if a comic publisher would take money from the guys selling x-ray specs, they'd take it from anybody...

Sep 5, 2011

Phantom at the Window -- The Thuggees.

If you were ever to try and study the core elements that make up a Phantom story, or at least an old Lee Falk/Wilson McCoy Phantom story, I don't think you'd ever need to go further than The Thuggees. It's a story from 1949/1950, when Falk had really gotten his writing down, and knew exactly what he was doing with the character.

The tension from strip to strip is amazing. The art is flying at an almost unreasonable pace, and the whole thing is... well... it's seriously worth reading.

I got my copy in Frew #1234, but it's since been reprinted in #1496. I might need to pick up that issue too, because I think there may be some stuff missing from the #1234 printing. Oh well, even with what I think is a slightly incomplete copy of the story, why don't we have ourselves a nice hard look at a classic long-running Phantom story?

Sep 4, 2011

Sal's Sunday Punch #10

So there's not an enormous amount to say about Incredible Hulk #246. It was written by Bill Mantlo and drawn by Sal Buscema. It's about Hulk trying to recover the body of his dead love, Jarella... and it ends with a trapped-in-the-Microverse cliffhanger, with Hulk trying to return Jarella's body to its rightful resting place.

The best complement to a Sal Buscema Punch -- a Bill Mantlo Yelp.

There's some fighting between the Mandroid and the Hulk (in this case, the Mandroid is Glenn Talbot, a long-time Hulk rival for the affections of Betty Banner). There's some fighting between Captain Marvel and the Hulk, and Captain Marvel even ends up siding with the big green and helping him.

Really the most important part of this issue is page 19. And since I pasted the entire damn thing in up above, you can see why. It is glorious.

--Andrew S.
(Also, the sound effects are hilarious... you got that bit right? I didn't need to explain it, right?)

Sep 3, 2011

Archie Metaphors: Sex and Al Hartley.

Steamy as always, Al!
Okay, so it's about time I came back to this subject. You know how in Archie comics kissing basically means the same thing as sex? Of course you do. I already did an article about it! If you haven't read that article go there, then come on back.

So kissing = sex in the universe of Archie comics. But what does that mean for the work of Al Hartley? As we know, Hartley wrote a series of official comics about Archie for Christian publisher Spire Comics... wait, why do we know? Well because I already told you. That's right, here at 80 Page Giant we believe in having continuity between our articles! We are a comics blog, after all.

So you've got those two elements. Wholesome Christian comics and kisses that are basically a metaphor for sex. How do you reconcile the two? Did Al Hartley realise that kissing was the same thing as sex? Maybe, in his ignorance he didn't realise about the metaphor, and there was some hilarious results?

Let's find out!

Sep 2, 2011

Spider-Mannotations: Amazing Spider-Man #668, Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1

It's that time again, web-heads - time for me to overanalyze this week's Spider-Island tie-ins!  This week, we've got part two of Spider-Island proper in Amazing Spider-Man #668, and a new tie-in launches with Spider-Island: Deadly Hands of Kung Fu #1!

Amazing Spider-Man #668

Blue hoodie, visible web-shooters...Scarlet Spider homage?
(art by Humberto Ramos)

Sep 1, 2011

It Came From The Dollar Bin: Action Force #17

Andrew Sorohan already went on at length about the formatting differences between US and UK comics, so I'll skip any explanations along those lines and go straight to the meat of this week's featured find.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen: It's a story about how Quick Kick from Action Force G.I. Joe totally learned to fight from Shang-Chi, Master of Grant Morrison.