Monday, January 31, 2011

1982 - Neal Adams X-Men portfolio

Unfortunately, this plate was the only finished one for the scheduled X-Men portfolio by Neal Adams. Apparently, it was supposed to have six plates published through S.Q. Productions.

1985 - Marvel Graphic Novel 017 - The Revenge of the Living Monolith

Marvel Graphic Novel 017 - The Revenge of the Living Monolith
Writer: David Michelinie
Artists: Marc Silvestri/Geof Isherwood

I’ve always loved the title of the graphic novel as it has a fun 1950s feel to it. And its bold cover showcasing the might of the Living Monolith as he crushes one of the Twin Towers with people fleeing about like scattering ants.

The idea for this graphic novel apparently came from Jim Owsley “I wanna do ‘The Monster That Trashed New York”, something on a big scale, like those old ‘50s monster movies. We’re gonna call it - are ya ready for this? ‘The Revenge of the Living Monolith!’”

As with any great fiction, a sympathetic character is a great way to make readers care about your story. In this graphic novel, Michelinie makes the villain, Ahmet Abdol, the mutant better known as the Living Monolith, a wonderfully sympathetic character and the way the story is constructed, Ahmet is the protagonist. Leveraging mutant hysteria and tragedy, you feel totally justified for Ahmet as he assumes the mantle of the Living Pharaoh and makes his latest bid for power.

His daughter Fayah betrays her father and turns to the Fantastic Four to help stop her father’s latest mad scheme. However, to spoil things, it’s a ruse meant to help the Living Pharaoh capture the Fantastic Four. Using the cosmic energy stored in the cells of the Fantastic Four, the Living Monolith transforms himself into the massive giant known as the Living Monolith. The She-Hulk (at that time a member of the FF) gathers a handful of heroes to take on the Living Monolith

This wonderful 80-page story reads like a cross between a James Bond movie and the Fantastic Four. With a lot of great action scenes and great twists and turns that keep you flipping pages. Michelinie adeptly handles all these classic Marvel characters like Spider-Man and Captain America amid all of that action.

The art and colours are absolutely stunning and keep in mind this is from 1985 when comics were printed on paper that was barely above newsprint in terms of quality. The inks by Geof Isherwood are also worthy of note, giving the finished product a Bernie Wrightson feel to it. And the lettering by several of Marvel’s finest of the 1980s, like Joe Rosen, Rick Parker, and John Morelli, is also worthy of some praise especially the way it complements the action in the panels.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

1986 - Dark Pheonix poster by Rick Leonardi

Found this beautiful black and white poster of the Dark Phoenix by Rick Leonardi and Terry Austin in the pages of Comic Feature Presents. Would love to see a better scan (and in colour) of this print. Anyone out there actually pick this up in 1986?

1986 - The Great God Giant War

Snagged from Simonson's Official Facebook page:

"The God Giant War - Pen and Ink with Colors by Steve Oliff.

This was a double page spread published originally in the Marvel Age Annual (I presume for 1986). I have the original color version posted over in my Walter's Drawings Gallery. The Annual was essentially a promotional magazine for Marvel to preview upcoming events for the following year.

I never did the complete story; I left Thor before I could tell the tale. This double page spread is the only drawing I did based on the God Giant War. I always liked it and was sorry I was never able to do the story that went with it.

This is a newly colored version that will part of the bonus material to be including in Marvel's upcoming Thor Omnibus."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

1987 - The Mighty Thor #384

The Mighty Thor #384 - “Who Shall Be Worthy?”
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artists: Ron Frenz/Brett Breeding

I felt I had to follow up my last blog post with a look at the second fill-in issue by DeFalco and Frenz. Issues #383 and #385 would convince editor Ralph Macchio that this team would be worthy indeed to take the reins of the Mighty Thor on a permanent basis.

What’s so good about it? It’s a self-contained, one issue story with an impressive scope. I wish Marvel’s fill-ins were half as good as this one! The inking skills of Brett Breedings are a pleasure to behold and give Frenz’s art that much more of a smooth John Buscema feel. And cleaver, solid story telling.

The story idea plays upon the magic spell on Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, as only someone who could be worthy could wield it, as the side of the hammer carries the inscription: "Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor”. Leveraging the idea by Stan Lee, obviously based on the Arthurian Legend (Sword in the Stone, not to mention Mjolnir is made of a mystical stone), DeFalco tells this tale of The Once and Future Thor.

In the future, an underground cult forms around believing in the eventual return of Thor to help free them from the oppression of the Corporation. When Loki takes an interest in stamping out the cult, one of its members, Dargo, reaches for Mjolnir and proves to be worthy. The fun twist is that Dargo plays the reluctant hero, but is uninterested in being worshiped and is frustrated by the people’s blind faith and their inaction. He chooses to return Mjolnir to its rightful owner, as Thor seems to be trapped somewhere having fallen pray to Loki’s machinations, and hopes that his actions as Thor prove to inspire people to take action, to prove themselves worthy.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

1987 - The Mighty Thor #383

The Mighty Thor #383
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artists: Ron Frenz/Brett Breeding

While they may have followed Simonson’s memorable run, Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz had the longest run on The Mighty Thor of any creative team spanning from 1987 until 1993.

Hot off their success on Amazing Spider-Man, their fast-paced and entertaining storytelling demonstrated what a serial comic could really accomplish with a sense of energy and momentum. While not as ground-breaking or revolutionary as Simonson’s run, their run was an obvious crowd-pleaser. Their brand of storytelling had a strong retro-1960s feel with Tom DeFalco channeling Stan Lee with snappy dialog and epic storylines and Ron Frenz was paying homage to Jack Kirby and John Buscema.

This issue was the first of two fill-ins they would do before taking on the title full-time with  #386.

In the space of a mere 22 pages, they craft a fine story, an untold tale of the Secret Wars. Yet, this story might carry the banner of the Mighty Thor, it’s really about the Enchantress and the forbidden love she has for Thor. She pines about how she was weak and didn’t seize the chance to stand with Thor when she could have and won his love.

The backgrounds are a bit sparse, but keep in mind that this was a fill-in issue under probably a tight deadline.

Monday, January 24, 2011

1983-85 - Romita Jr. Sketches

Came across these early and lovely convention sketches by John Romita Jr. circa 1983-85.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Marvel Masterwork #151 - Uncanny X-Men

As you might know, the Marvel Masterworks hold a rather special place in my heart and while they usual reprint silver and bronze age comics, this month's volume start reprinting some of the post-Byrne X-Men (circa 1981) with Dave Cockrum returning to the title. Marvel Masterworks #151 hits the comic books stores this Wednesday.

From the official Marvel Comics solicitations:

It's a lucky seventh volume chock full of memorable X-Men moments by the classic creator combo of Claremont and Cockrum! First up, Kitty's leaving the School For Gifted Youngsters. Her new academic destination? The Massachusetts Academy, run by none other than Emma Frost, the Hellfire Club's White Queen – setting up the inevitable showdown between the X-Men and Sebastian Shaw's minions, with a classic, no-holds-barred, Storm/Emma catfight in the clouds!

Next, it's the immortal "Kitty's Fairy Tale," a storybook fantasy that introduced Kitty's loyal pet dragon, the lovable Lockheed! Then, the first half of the all-time great "Brood Saga," with four-issues of space operatics starring the Starjammers, the Shi'Ar, and those disgusting parasites from beyond the outer limits, the Brood!

Topping off this marvelous mutant Masterworks is the return of Rogue and Mystique's Evil Mutants and the coming of Dracula in a tale only Bill Sienkiewicz could draw! Throw in a double-sized annual team-up with the X-Men and Fantastic Four combining forces against the Badoon, and, just because we love ya, Avengers Annual #10, featuring the first appearance of Rogue and her pivotal meeting with Ms. Marvel, and this is indeed the most masterful way to start off a blockbuster new year of Marvel Masterworks!
This volume collects Uncanny X-Men#151-159, X-Men Annual #5, and Avengers Annual #10.

Here's a preview of the art...

Here's some Brent Anderson.
And a beautiful two-page spread by Dave Cockrum.
And a stunning page by Bill Sienkiewicz in his Neal Adams homage days.

1985 - Bill Sienkiewicz's cover to the trade paperback collection of the Dark Phoenix

'Nuff Said.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

1986 - Whatever happened to Steve Englehart’s run on Daredevil?

Steve Englehart was scheduled to become the ongoing writer on Daredevil shortly after the Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli run.

From an interview with

“[Daredevil] had undergone his crisis of conscience. Theoretically, he'd become a better person for it...but I'm suspicious of easy conversions. Either way, he had to bring what he'd learned back into the world. I wanted to get him out of the narrow confines he'd fallen into (short-order cook in a small NYC neighborhood)--make him work with other people in a "new" environment (that he'd once enjoyed), in a situation (highly visible superhero--that he'd once enjoyed but now didn't)--and see how those challenges affected the very different man he'd become.

“But also, the Black Widow would have joined the WCA, and they'd have been based in the town where he and she had been happy. Bottom line, I was angling toward DD being with Natasha at work, and Matt being with Karen at home, and seeing what happened. Living in two very different worlds with two very different women...”

Unfortunately, during the fill-ins issues before Englehart would start he run, Ann Nocenti had brought Daredevil and the Black Widow back together in a different way that he wanted.

And from
“Frank Miller had concluded his run on this book and I was supposed to take over after three fill-in issues. But in that interim, an editor [Ann Nocenti] took it for herself, so this is it for me. I did an all-black splash page to indicate DD's POV, and a few other fun things, but since all the plotlines I set up went to waste I put my "John Harkness" pseudonym on it.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Marvel Comics Solicitations - April 2011 - 1980s Goodness

ACTS OF VENGEANCE CROSSOVERS OMNIBUSThe Acts of Vengeance are here, and no hero is left untouched! Witness some of the most unexpected battles of all time! Wolverine vs. Tiger Shark! Dr. Strange vs. Hobgoblin! The Punisher vs. Dr. Doom! Daredevil vs. Ultron! Power Pack vs. Typhoid Mary! And while the Fantastic Four fight against the passing of a Super Hero Registration Act, Psylocke is changed forever at the hands of Mojo!

Collecting FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #334-336; WOLVERINE (1988) #19-20; DR. STRANGE, SORCEROR SUPREME (1988) #11-13; INCREDIBLE HULK (1968) #363; PUNISHER (1987) #28-29; PUNISHER WAR JOURNAL (1988) #12-13; MARC SPECTOR: MOON KNIGHT (1989) #8-10; DAREDEVIL (1964) #275-276; POWER PACK (1984) #53; ALPHA FLIGHT (1983) #79-80; NEW MUTANTS (1983) #84-86; UNCANNY X-MEN #256-258; X-FACTOR (1986) #49-50; DAMAGE CONTROL (1989) #1-4; and WEB OF SPIDER-MAN #64-65.
752 PGS./Rated T+ ...$99.99


Visionary artist Barry Windsor-Smith takes on the Uncanny X-Men as Storm and Forge find themselves trapped on a primitive paradise world with no hope of escape! Spiral and Lady Deathstrike target Wolverine for death! And Dazzler is hunted by the Marauders, with only the X-Men to save her! Plus: The original X-Men go toe-to-toe against Blastaar, deadly menace from the Negative Zone, in Windsor-Smith first Marvel Masterwork!

Collecting UNCANNY X-MEN #53, #186, #198, #205 and #214. 152 PGS./$24.99

Written by PETER DAVID

First the gun muzzle flashed before her, and then her life did. Who killed Jean DeWolff? Witness the web-slinger’s race against time and death as a shotgun-wielding maniac carves a path of destruction through New York City in one of Spider-Man’s most acclaimed, gripping and gritty adventures! Aided by Daredevil and police Det. Stan Carter, the wall-crawler must track down the madman known only as the Sin-Eater, who is determined to purge the city of sin. His cure, however, is murder. And his first victim is a close friend of Spider-Man’s: police Capt. Jean DeWolff, cut down in the prime of her life. Now, the Sin-Eater’s killing spree has taken on a new, personal meaning for Spider-Man — and when the wall-crawler finally catches up with the Sin-Eater, Spidey may not be able to check his own fury and rage. In capturing the Sin-Eater, will Spider-Man become as great a danger as that which he pursues?

Collecting PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (1976) #107-110 and #134-136.168 PGS./$24.99

Written and Penciled by JOHN BYRNE

From SAVAGE to SENSATIONAL! With John Byrne at the helm, witness She-Hulk go where no super hero has gone before: right through the fourth wall! Vs. Spider-Man! Beheaded! Against the wrath of Dr. Bong! Alongside Santa Claus! On her own Star Truck! Hosting a Golden Age guest star! Featuring the Wasp, Mr. Fantastic and Razorback!

Collecting SENSATIONAL SHE-HULK #1-8 and material from MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS (1988) #18. 200 PGS./$24.99

1983 - John Byrne's stunning output

In 1983, John Byrne was writing, penciling, and inking 12 issues and the covers of Alpha Flight, writing, penciling, and inking 12 issues and the covers of The Fantastic Four, and writing 12 issues of The Thing.

From an interview in Amazing Heroes #22, Byrne shrugged off the heavy workload: 
“The way my schedule is structured right now, I can produce 60 pages of art a month.”

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1982 - Marvel Comics Ad by Golden and Austin

Found this lovely Marvel Ad in the pages of the Comics Feature. It was drawn by Michael Golden and inked by Terry Austin.

1985 - Whatever happened to the Sandman limited series?

Whatever happened to the Sandman limited series? Okay, most of you probably didn’t even know there was a Sandman limited series in plan circa 1985.

I came across the following piece in an issue of Amazing Heroes or Comics Feature (can’t for the life of me find it again). But, it’s a Mike Zeck Sandman panel apparently as a promo for an upcoming miniseries sometime in 1985-86.

However, the piece never saw print until 1990 in the pages of the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #24. It was a 12-page backup story that beefed up those thick annuals. The story focused on Sandman’s attempt to reform, which would later come to fruition in a few years with him actually joining the Avengers. Unfortunately, Zeck only did this first part. The story thread was picked up and completed in Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #10 by writer Tony Isabella and artist Ross Andru. This second part was a disappointment and all it really did was adequately wrap up the storyline and set the stage for Sandman's rise to a hero.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Simonson's Thor Omnibus - A Preview

Looks like Rich Johnston from got a preview of same of the pages from the upcoming Thor Omnibus. And I thought I'd "borrow" the images and commentary to let my readers enjoy the preview as well. The colours are absolutely beautiful. Sooooo looking forward to get my filthy little fingers on this incredible book.

The Thor Omnibus - Walt Simonson with its 1192 pages collects Thor #337-355, 357-369, 371-382 as well as Balder the Brave #1-4.

Thor 340 Splash Page. 10 x 15. 1983. Color by Olyoptics.

As pretty much everybody hereabouts knows by now, Marvel Comics is reissuing my run on Thor from the 80s in an Omnibus volume, with new coloring by Steve Oliff and his crew.

    Marvel has been kind enough to let me see some of the pages and post this one for your delectation. I, for one, am delighted by what I have seen.

Thor 353. Page 2 and 3. And the next to last word balloon of the page is one of my personal favorites. What a smart-ass!   Thor 380. Pages 2 & 3.

    A double page spread so it’s a little small here, but still looks pretty cool. IMHO.

    Probably the trickiest part of drawing this issue of Thor was managing the problem of scale. I always seem to be giving myself stories to draw matchng foes of rather different sizes, so I’m always wrestling with that problem…. How do you show enough of the big guy without making the little guy so small as to be invisible? Or the little guy big enough so that you still see more than the tip of the big guy’s shoe, metaphorically speaking. That’s one of several reasons I eventually decided to draw this issue as I did, as a series of splash pages. It gave me more room to maneuver, particularly when the bad guy was big enough to encircle the world and the good guy was the size of a man.

    Remind me to quit doing that.

Thor Omnibus Cover, round 1. Color by Dave Stewart.

This drawing was done a couple of years back as part of a benefit and then used on the cover of Liberty Comics No 1, the second printing, to benefit the Legal Defense Fund. Dave colored it for that cover.

Thor Omnibus Cover, round 2. 1984. Color by Olyoptics. This was the cover for Thor 350, recolored by Steve Oliff.

Friday, January 14, 2011

1982 - Bob McLeod's original pencils from the New Mutants Graphic Novel

From the pages of Amazing Heroes #16. I'll let McLeod's beautiful pencilled art speak for itself.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1985 - January calendar

From Marvel Age #26:

1985 - Marvel Top Ten for January

Here were the direct sales ranking of Marvel titles (from Marvel Age #27):

  1. Uncanny X-Men #193
  2. Web of Spider-Man #2
  3. Alpha Flight #22
  4. New Mutant #27
  5. Amazing Spider-Man #264
  6. Fantastic Four #278
  7. Thor #355
  8. Avengers #255
  9. Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #102
  10. G.I. Joe #35

1985 - It's Genetic cartoon from Marvel Age #31

Featuring art by Kyle Baker.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cliff Chang's Uncanny X-Men

Had to share this beautiful piece of art from Cliff Chang. He captures the look and feel of the 1980s X-Men quiet well. Note the New Mutants in the background.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1988 - Silver Surfer: Parable

Silver Surfer: Parable
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Moebius

Silver Surfer: Parable was first published in the 4-colour comic book format (a special request by Moebius) as a two-part miniseries and then as a deluxe hardcover in December 1988. More recently, it’s been reprinted in a trade paperback in 1998.

This story came about when Stan Lee and Moebius met at the 1988 San Diego Comic Convention and had lunch. Stan proposed a stand-alone story and Moebius jumped at the opportunity.

About writing this story, Stan said in a interview in Marvel Age #71:
“They were very easy to write ... though ironically, they took about three times longer to write than normal -- I was such a nervous wreck about doing justice to the work!”

A starving Galactus returns to Earth, but is well aware of his vow not to consume the planet. However, he sets himself up as a God and tries to steer them towards self-destruction. A TV evangelist is more than happy to take up his cause and preaches Galactus’ message in hopes of setting himself up as his prophet.

The Silver Surfer, who had hoped to leave the human race behind to its self-inflicted misery, cannot sit back while all this is happens and takes action against Galactus.

About the story, Moebius had this to say in the Afterword of the Hardcover version:
“I found the story wonderful. It’s full of personal and philosophical considerations which I think are very, very interesting. It’s obviously something very close to Stan’s heart. It’s not all pretty and nice and shallow, like a lot of the usual super-hero stories. In fact, I found it a rather sad and dark story, but at the same time, it is cast in a different light.”

Stan Lee returns the Silver Surfer to his brooding, philosophical self, spending his time contemplating humans and their place in the universe. The Silver Surfer is a great vehicle as he serves as a unique observer of human kind, forcing us to look at ourselves in unique ways. While the dialog has the trademark Stan Lee-isms, the themes of Silver Surfer’s loneliness and frustration with human kind are wonderfully evoked. The story is simple enough and yet is surprisingly effective and thought provoking. What’s nice as well as, is that it’s just the Silver Surfer and no other super heroes.

Moebius adds a bit of Kirby-ese flair to his art work. His fluid art gives a real futuristic feel to the story. His bold colours and fine detailed line work are powerful as they are unique. Interestingly, he wanted to use the limited palette of the newsprint colour comics and saw it as a challenge to bring about the feelings and mood he wanted.

Moebius also chose to do the lettering, but I found his style to be distracting ad its legibility was a bit difficult. His take on it was simple and I can appreciate what he’s saying: “I don’t really understand how an artist can entrust something that is that important to a fired hand, no matter how good he may be. To me, it’s monstrous to have an important part of the look of page determined by an outsider.”

Seek out either the trade paperback or the hardcover as the issues’ poor paper quality really does the art and colour a disservice.

Here’s a sample of Moebius’ rough breakdowns from Stan’s plot. Moebius got a real kick out of using the Marvel Method to put this book together.

 And here's an unpublished page:


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