Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Inhumans by Alan Davis

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Doctor Strange movie poster!

Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger from DK books

Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger 
by Matthew Forbeck (with Alan Cowsill and Daniel Wallace)
200 pages
Release Date – Out now!

The good folks at DK Canada were kind enough to send me a review copy of their latest Marvel book… Captain America The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger! The 200-page hardcover has a nice solid feel to it and the first thing that struck me as I flipped through its pages was the comic book art. The colours and arrangement, especially the two-page spreads, really jump out at you.

The book does a solid job at introducing Marvel’s first Avenger from his inception in 1941 and explores his legacy, equipment, partners, allies, and enemies. The timeline feature did an impressive job breaking down Cap’s history, especially in the last few years as it’s been a tumultuous time for our star-spangled hero. The guide then shifts into a study of each of Captain America’s decades, highlighting storylines and characters. I really enjoyed the Key Issue feature that spotlighted a single issue in each of the decades.

While it’s incredibly difficult to do an indepth look at all of Cap’s 75 years history, I was surprised by the lack of inclusion of two key storylines of the 1980s, the Roger Stern/John Byrne run (although there was a brief mention of Cap running for President) as well as the J.M. DeMatteis/Mike Zeck run. The 1980s section focused on more of the late 80s, while glossing over the much stronger early 1980s content (in my humble opinion, of course). But, to be fair, the book probably cut out a lot of content to fit into the modest 200 pages. DK should investigate doing a guide solely focused on the 1980s (I’ll admit that's a bias request). There’s probably enough history for this character as well as the other Marvel characters to do multiple series of these hardcovers. I’d buy a series of books that focused solely on those key storylines!

Captain America: The Ultimate Guide to the First Avenger is a museum in a box: painstakingly researched, thoughtfully organized, and lavishly decorated with a colourful assortment of comic book art. If you’re getting excited about Captain America: Civil War and want to catch up on the character’s rich history, look no further, this is the guide you need.

1979 - Anatomy of a Cover - Iron Man #123 by Bob Layton

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

1979 - Looking back at ROM #1

ROM #1 – “Arrival!”
December 1979
Writer: Bill Mantlo / Artist: Sal Buscema 

The greatest of the spaceknights was originally introduced as an action figure earlier in 1979 by Parker Brothers. To promote their new electronic action toy, Parker Brothers teamed up with Marvel Comics to produce a ROM comic book. The action figure didn’t sell well and faded into obscurity, but the comic book survived well into the 1980s.

Veteran Marvel writer, Bill Mantlo, was called upon to chronicle ROM's adventures on Earth. He was no stranger to adapting action figures to comic books with the Micronauts still selling well. On ROM, Mantlo’s long-time partner on the Incredible Hulk, Sal Buscema, one of Marvel’s most consistent and reliable artists, joined him as penciler and inker.

The scope of the first issue is impressive. Mantlo had very little to build the story upon as the ROM action figure was a standalone item, no teammates, no villains, no flavor text, just an armful of weapons and gadgets – the Energy Analyzer, the Neutralizer, and the Translator (9-Volt Battery Not Included!).

“Rom is a spaceman doll whose computer memory gives it a disappointingly narrow range of behavior. It breathes heavily (one of its better effects), buzzes, twitters and flashes its lighted eyes, and sounds ominous gongs, one for good and two for evil. The trouble with this Parker Bros. homunculus is that it looks as if it should be able to use its arms and legs like a true robot, and it can’t. Rom will end up among the dust balls under the playroom sofa.”
       - Time magazine
ROM crashlands into the Marvel Universe and makes his way in the heart of a small American city that has been conveniently infiltrated by his shape-shifting nemeses, the Dire Wraiths. Mantlo doesn’t waste any time having the spaceknight leverage his toys to neutralize the Dire Wraiths. However, this neutralization appears like he’s disintegrated human beings and the city goes into a panic. The Dire Wraiths have wormed their way into the city and the country’s power structure and send in the National Guard to deal with this alien threat.

Meanwhile, ROM has befriended a human woman, Brandy Clark, using another one of his toys, the Translator, and tells her his origin in an attempt to persuade her to his cause. Mantlo and Buscema interject a 5-page flashback “The Legend of the Spaceknights!” that introduces the golden age of Galador, the destruction of the Galadorian Armada by the Dire Wraiths, the drastic creation of the spaceknight program, and the climactic battle that routed the Dire Wraiths.

ROM proves to be more than the National Guard can stop, even supplemented by Dire Wraiths technology. However, the battle does nothing for ROM’s reputation and allows the Dire Wraiths to warn their brethren that ROM is on Earth and hunting them down.

Mantlo humanized ROM by changing him from a robot to a human cyborg. The process to transform them into a spaceknight tragically trapped them with their metallic armour. In creating the Dire Wraiths, Mantlo created a worthy adversary that contrasted our protagonist; vicious, sinister, devious, and masters of a dark magic.  I really liked the concept of magic vs technology, but that theme wasn't really used or developed in this issue.


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