Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

 Merry Christmas!

While these Holiday Grab-Bag Treasury issues were part of the 1970s, I loved getting and reading these over the holiday!

Hope you all have a great holiday and see you all in the New Year!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Marvel Solicitations for March 2011 - 1980s goodness

Written by ROGER STERN

Dr. Strange, the Master of the Mystic Arts, starts his day by curing a mystically cursed sword and ends it by overthrowing a dimensional dictator! The Sorcerer Supreme faces threats on cruise ships, military bases and alien planets — seeking to restore the cosmic balance! And as the origins of the Dark Dimension stand revealed, Strange’s true love, Clea, heads the rebellion against her evil mother, Umar! Featuring the Black Knight and the Beyonder! Collecting DR. STRANGE (1974) #68-74. 168 PGS...$24.99


When Steve Rogers refuses to become a government operative, he’s stripped of his uniform, title and shield — and a new Captain America is born! John Walker, the former Superpatriot and future USAgent — along with sidekick Bucky, the future Battle Star — does his best to fill the big shoes Rogers left behind. But can he take the pressure, especially after his parents are caught in the crossfire? And Rogers dons a new costume as the Captain! Featuring the Falcon, Iron Man, the Taskmaster, Freedom Force, the Horsemen of Apocalypse and the Serpent Society! Collecting CAPTAIN AMERICA #332-350 and IRON MAN #228.
520 PGS./Rated A ...$39.99

- Really wish this one was a hardcover...

Written by JOHN BYRNE
Penciled by RON WILSON

It’s Ben Grimm — the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing— on his own for the first time, and he’s clobberin’ everything in sight! The Inhumans! Wonder Man! She-Hulk! Spider-Man! The Fantastic Four! The Yancy Street Gang! The Puppet Master! And the uncanny Goody Two-Shoes! Plus: The Thing proposes marriage, and it's not to Alicia Masters! Collecting THING(1983) #1-10.
232 PGS./Rated A ...$24.99

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Back Issue! Magazine #46 - Greatest Stories Never Told

Check out the the free preview of BACK ISSUE Magazine #46, featuring looks at some of the Greatest Comic Book Stories Never Told, including John Byrne's "Last Galactus Story", Star*Reach's adult Batman series, and Eclipse's unreleased Miracleman Triumphant!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Ho Ho Ho - Christmas in the Marvel 1980s

November 1981 - Uncanny X-Men #143
Uncanny X-Men #143
Chris Claremont/John Byrne/Terry Austin
This issue spotlighted Kitty Pryde as she was left on her own in the mansion over the Christmas holidays (as she Jewish). While the story paralleled the movie Alien (1979) with its similar monster and premise, it did successfully employ its cinematic devices, like the heart-pounding climax and the shock ending. The story showcased Kitty's resolve and resourcefulness as she faced such a deadly situation and showed us that she had the wherewithal to be an X-Man.

March 1986 - Spectacular Spider-Man #112
Peter David/Mark Beachum/Pat Redding
A rather insignificant issue that has Spidey come across a Santa Claus burglar and an apparent appearance by the Jolly Old Elf himself. This issue however does have a rather interesting page of MJ in the bathtub and running around in a towel.

May 1989 - Marvel Comics Presents #18
There were two Christmas-theme stories in this issue. One was a fun little She-Hulk romp by John Byrne that it rather fun and hyped up her 1989 ongoing series. The other was an off-beat tale starring the Fantastic Four’s mailman Willie Lumpkin in a twisted version of the Christmas Carol.

Any other Christmas-themed issues I’m missing?

Monday, December 6, 2010

John Byrne's Alpha Flight

Some love for John Byrne's Alpha Flight.

Even though Byrne didn't like his run on this title, as a Canadian kid who loved his run on the X-Men, I really enjoyed those first 13 issues:

"Alpha Flight was never much fun. The characters were created merely to survive a fight with the X-Men, and I never thought about them having their own title. When Marvel finally cajoled me into doing Alpha Flight, I realized how incredibly two-dimensional they were, and spend some twenty-eight issues trying to find ways to correct this fault. Nothing really sang for me. If I have any regrets, it would probably be that I did the book at all! It was not a good time for me."

Cover to Alpha Flight #13 (Funeral for Guardian)

Neat jam piece with Mike Mignola.

A house ad teasing with the idea that Wolverine would leave the X-Men to lead
Alpha Flight after Guardian's death.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

1981 - The Avengers

Avengers #203-214

1981 was a rather forgettable year for the Mighty Avengers as the title struggled to find any direction amid the shuffling of creative teams.

David Michelinie, who had served as writer for almost two years, and fan-favorite George Perez left the title as of #203 and #202 respectively. For the remainder of the year, six writers and five artists would work on the title, with none of them really getting an opportunity for any lengthy runs, except for Gene Colan. Issues #204 and #205 featured the Avengers taking on the Golden Age villain, Yellow Claw.

Issues #207-208 were disappointing fill-ins that pitted the Avengers against a cliche villain, the Shadow Lord, and featured Bob Budiansky and Danny Fingeroth as writers. Issue #209 marks a changing point in the Beast's life that would see him leave the Avengers and eventually join the Defenders (this issue was written by Defenders writer J.M. DeMatteis). Issue #210 had the Avengers battle The Weathermen. There aren’t enough sighs to sum up that story.

However, the silver lining in this brooding cloud is Colan’s art which really shines despite the title’s inconsistency.

Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter decided to personally step in and assume the permanent writing chores for issue #211. Issue #211 stands out as the best of the year and features a line-up change, which limits the team to six members. Yellowjacket is reintroduced and Tigra is added back to the line-up. The new roster is Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Tigra, Yellowjacket, and Wasp.

During his first mission upon returning to the lineup in issue #212, Yellowjacket maliciously harms the antagonist who had already surrendered. The following issue had Yellowjacket court marshaled, but he then conceives of a ludicrous plan to restore his standing as an Avenger. The plan, of course, backfires and Pym is booted off the team. Issue #213 featured Hank Pym at the height of his depression and madness and he vents his anger on the Wasp, striking her.

I never liked this storyline and always felt that Hank Pym was one of those heroes that writers always picked on. It really wasn’t until Englehart and Byrne in the West Coast Avengers, where Hank Pym really began to rise to his potential.

Issue #214 finished up the year (thankfully) and has the Avengers go after the Ghost Rider. It’s a pretty silly battle that has most of the Avengers heavyweights (Cap, Thor, Iron Man) needed to take him down.

Monday, November 29, 2010

1984 – Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange #63-68
Writer(s): Carl Potts, Ann Nocenti, Roger Stern
Artist(s): Carl Potts, Tony Salmons, Paul Smith, Steve Leialoha, and Terry Austin

The bi-monthly Doctor Strange title was quite good in the mid-1980s and in particular in 1983 through to 1985.

Carl Potts took a break from his editing chores to write and draw issue #63, “Cry of the Spirit”. He delivered a decent story, although it’s a bit predictable and should have avoided the cliché ending. The art was good, except for a few rough panels and the overuse of shadows.

Ann Nocenti stepped up to the bat as guest writer for Dr. Strange #64, “Art Rage”, and was joined by Tony Salmons, put out a great issue. This story was well-paced and pleasant to read. Nocenti’s Strange seems a bit out of character and not his usual stern and serious self. His lighter side is a nice change and worked well with the story. Tony Salmons art usually doesn’t appeal to me as his penciled art always seemed incomplete and looked like he tried to finish the art through his inks. I did, however, really like his work this issue. Strange’s facial expressions and  the variety and shapes of his panels all worked well.

Roger Stern returned in issue #65, “Charlatan”, as the regular writer and was joined by Paul Smith, who had recently drawn the Uncanny X-Men. Smith immediately delivered with a wonderful splash page. He inked his own art in this issue and it isn’t as sharp and clean as Terry Austin's inks (who inked issue #66).

Stern penned one of my favorite Dr. Strange story in issue #66, “The Chosen One”. In this issue, Dr. Strange helped the monks of an Eastern holy order find their reincarnated master. Their master is reincarnated in the body of an American golf greens keeper and of course, this reincarnation caught the monks off guard. One of them attempts to kill him to remove the taint of Western culture, but the master revealed that his Western influence was the precise purpose of this incarnation.

Terry Austin’s thin line inks did a marvelous job complementing Paul Smith’s detailed penciled art. Stern captured Strange’s character and showed us why he’s one of Marvel’s best writers in the 1980s. Stern’s Doctor Strange is composed, intelligent, and carries himself with an air of humble authority. Smith and Austin also did an incredible job on the detailed backgrounds this issue. An all-around outstanding issue.

Steve Leialoha stepped in as guest artist for issue #67, “Private Eyes”. I find Leialoha’s art awkward in the same way I find Carmine Infantino’s art awkward. Leialoha’s work tends to become more distorted when he inks his own art, like in this issue. Dr. Strange helps out private investigator Hannibal King to track down and stop and attempt by the Cult of the Darkhold to bring in an extra-dimensional vampire to Earth. Roger Stern’s script and plot are good, but the art just didn’t complement the story.

The Dr. Strange that I identify with stands at the edge of the mystical world as the Earth’s sorcerer supreme and keeps things in order. In issue #68, “Sword and Sorcery”, Dr. Strange makes a house call at Castle Garett to check up on Dane Whitman, the Black Knight, who has been restored to life in the 20th century (see Avengers #226). 

Unfortunately, the Ebony Blade's curse catches up with him and overrides his reasoning. Dr. Strange battles Dane and manages to exorcise the Ebony Blade's bloodlust curse. Once again, Smith’s pencil art and Austin’s inks are spectacular. ‘Nuff Said! Stern, through the Avengers and this issue, puts Dane Whitman’s life back together. The Black Knight rejoins the Avengers in Avengers #251. And not to be missed was Doctor Strange #69 featuring a great team up of Doctor Strange and the Black Knight that lead into the Dark Dimension storyline that would keep Strange busy for the next year.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Shameless Plug - Back Issue! #45

Forgot to plug Back Issue! #45 which should have hit your local comic book shelves last week! It has my Cloak and Dagger article.

Download a free preview here:

Back Issue! #45
84 pages - November 2010

Now shipping 8 times a year, with 16 color pages each issue! In BACK ISSUE #45 (84 pages with 16-page COLOR section, $7.95), we feature “Odd Couples,” headlined by an in-depth look at DENNY O’NEIL and NEAL ADAMS’ award-winning, groundbreaking Green Lantern/Green Arrow—plus an examination of the real-life events that inspired these relevant stories. The unusual pairing of one of Marvel’s hottest writers of the ’70s with DC’s Justice League of America is explored in an exclusive interview with STEVE ENGLEHART.

Also: Daredevil and Black Widow, Power Man and Iron Fist, Vision and Scarlet Witch, Cloak and Dagger, and… Aquaman and Deadman (?!). With art by and/or commentary from TERRY AUSTIN, GENE COLAN, GERRY CONWAY, DENYS COWAN, DICK DILLIN, RICHARD HOWELL, RICK LEONARDI, STEVE SKEATES, and more. And a glorious recreation of the cover of Green Lantern #76 by NEAL ADAMS! Edited by MICHAEL EURY.

Mavel Solicitations for February 2011 - 1980s goodness

Hey, I'm back for a quick post. Doing well with NaNoWriMo already hit my 50,000, so I'm keeping going and seeing how far I can get.

Meanwhile, here's some fun 1980s stuff coming out in February 2011:

Hawkeye! His wife, Mockingbird! Wonder Man! Tigra! Iron Man! When the Avengers set up shop in California, there’s no shortage of enemies waiting to destroy them — from Kraven the Hunter to Morbius the Living Vampire to a war between Ultrons! Plus: It’s the most complicated family tree this side of Cyclops when the Vision marries the Scarlet Witch, and the Grim Reaper wants revenge! Guest-starring Hank Pym, the Wasp and the Thing! Collecting WEST COAST AVENGERS (1985) #1-9 and VISION & THE SCARLET WITCH (1985) #1-2.
296 PGS./$34.99

The X-Men and Alpha Flight have always had Wolverine in common, even when fighting over who should keep him! But when the stakes get high, these two teams of iconic heroes can set aside their differences and join forces to save the world! See Marvel’s mutants and Canada’s greatest heroes join forces against Loki, Sentinels, Hydra and Wendigo! Collecting X-MEN & ALPHA FLIGHT (1985) #1-2; X-MEN/ALPHA FLIGHT (1998) #1-2; and X-MEN (1963) #109, #120-121 and #139-140.
280 PGS./$34.99

Friday, October 22, 2010

Taking a sabbatical...

I've taken on the NaNoWriMo challenge for November.

What's NaNoWrimo? Go here.

So I'll need to pump out just under 2,000 words a day starting on November 1 and running until the end of November in hopes of writing 50,000 words. I'm trying to clear all my commitments for the month and posting this blog is one of them.

I will be back here posting more fun 1980s content in early December.

I also need to clear some time before November gets here to sort out a rough story outline and sketch up some characters. So, this post will be my last until early December.

Take care and see you all in just over a month!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

1987 - Silver Surfer

Silver Surfer #1-6
July – December 1987
Writer: Steve Englehart
Artist: Marshall Rogers

While I enjoyed Stan Lee/John Buscema’s Silver Surfer series of the late 60s, I always felt the character was restrained and repetitive. The Silver Surfer belonged to space and by preventing him from getting back to it, the character lost his magic. Twenty years after his first ongoing series, the Silver Surfer got another ongoing series.

“It began when Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter asked me to do a SURFER book. I was pleased to be asked, but remembered that the character had been reserved for Editor Emeritus Stan Lee. Jim was clear in his response: the current Powers That Be had decided the Surfer could make the company money, and should.

So, if I were going to do the Surfer, I wanted to get him off Earth. He had been trapped here, denied the vastness of space, since his first epic in FF #48-50, and I felt that situation had long outlived its interest. For one thing, despite everyone's affection for the character and some good people giving it their all, he had never sold. The Surfer seemed like he ought to be great, but he wasn't. Nevertheless, I was told he had to stay on Earth.

So I wrote a #1 issue, and plotted two more, under that restriction. But I kept bugging Jim, and all of a sudden, for whatever reason, I got my way. The Surfer could fly free. That first issue was shelved and I started over with a new #1. That "earthbound" first issue later appeared as an "imaginary story" in Marvel Fanfare [Marvel Fanfare #51 with art by John Buscema].

In an interview with Englehart from Comic Feature #56:
“At that point it was going to be a 12-issue limited series taking place right before a graphic album that Stan and Keith Pollard were doing which would have gotten the Surfer off the Earth. My 12-part series with John Buscema would have been the last 12 adventures of the Surfer on Earth.”

There were delays and editorial issues that forced Buscema got frustrated with those delays and took on assignments on The Avengers and The Fantastic Four. That Stan Lee and Keith Pollard graphic novel was finally published in 1990.

Rather than having the Surfer mope around the globe and long for his long-lost love Shalla Bal, writer Steve Englehart freed the Silver Surfer from his Earthly prison in the first double-sized issue.

Englehart did a wonderful job juggling several main plot threads in the first six issues: the start of a new Kree/Skrull war; the Elders' conspiracy against Galactus; the Surfer's inability to resume his relationship with Shalla Bal; and the re-introduction of one of Englehart's favorite creations Mantis.

Marshall Rogers provided the coloured art as well as the series' pencils. Unfortunately, his colours seemed a bit unaturally bright with an almost highlighter colour feel. Tempering this criticism with the general poor quality of colouring during the 80s, this is a minor complaint. His pencils, however weren't as spectacular as his previous efforts on Batman and Dr. Strange.

Their Silver Surfer run balances the legacy of this character’s rich past while expanding his future. No longer confined to being a supporting character, Englehart established the Silver Surfer as a solid, lead character, a cosmic player.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Marvel January 2011 soliciations - 1980s goodness

Only one book of note...



The body count rises higher than ever as the X-Men and their allies face war on every front! The original X-Men have formed X-Factor, and they come up against their deadliest challenge yet in Apocalypse and his Horsemen, including the all-new Archangel! The New Mutants lose one of their own! And after the Marauders slaughter the Morlocks, they take on the X-Men — and the survivors will be asked to sacrifice themselves to stop the evil Adversary! Featuring tie-ins starring Captain America, Daredevil, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four and Power Pack! Collecting NEW MUTANTS (1983) #55-61, UNCANNY X-MEN #220-227, X-FACTOR (1986) #18-26, CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #339, DAREDEVIL (1964) #252, FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #312, INCREDIBLE HULK (1968) #336-337 & #340 and POWER PACK (1984) #35.
824 PGS./Rated A ...$99.99

Monday, October 18, 2010

Octobers in the Marvel 1980s

Here’s a breakdown by year of new or ending series that occurred in October.

    October     DRAGONSLAYER 2-issue miniseries
    October     JAMES BOND: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY 2-issue miniseries

    October     ANNIE 2-issue miniseries
    October     BLADE RUNNER 2-issue miniseries
    October     CONAN THE BARBARIAN MOVIE SPECIAL 2-issue miniseries

    October     CLOAK AND DAGGER 4-issue miniseries
    October     CRAZY MAGAZINE ends (#94)
    October     STAR WARS: RETURN OF THE JEDI 4-issue miniseries

    October     CRASH RYAN 4-issue miniseries
    October     DOCTOBEROR WHO begins
    October     KA-ZAR THE SAVAGE ends (#34)
    October     MACHINE MAN (second series) 4-issue miniseries
    October     MICRONAUTS (second series) begins
    October     THE LAST STARFIGHTER 3-issue miniseries
    October     U.S. 1 ends (#12)
    October     WHAT IF? ends (#47)

    October     THE ETERNALS (second series) 12-issue miniseries
    October     VISION AND THE SCARLET WITCH (second series) 12-issue miniseries
    October     WEST COAST AVENGERS (second series) begins

    October     G.I. JOE SPECIAL MISSIONS begins
    October     POPPLES begins
    October     STAR BRAND begins

    October     ALIEN LEGION (second series) begins
    October     CODENAME: SPITFIRE ends (#13)
    October     MARSHAL LAW begins
    October     MOEBIUS begins

    October     EXCALIBUR begins
    October     STRANGE TALES (second series) ends (#19)
    October     THE LIGHT AND DARKNESS WAR 6-issue miniseries
    October     X-TERMINATORS 4-issue miniseries

    October     QUASAR begins
    October     SHADOWMASTERS 4-issue miniseries
    October     ST. GEORGE ends (#8)
    October     THE PUNISHER MAGAZINE begins

Saturday, October 16, 2010

RIP Simon MacCorkindale

Simon MacCorkindale, probably most known on the 80s TV series Falcon Crest, died young at 58 due to cancer. I fondly remember him as the star of Manimal (another Glen A. Larson production) , an action/adventure series that only ran 8 episodes. Rest in Peace...

Friday, October 15, 2010

More Paul Smith Love and a beautiful colour sketch by Byrne, Austin, and Oliff

Not much to say other than enjoy...

Cleaned up version of the cover to Amazing Heroes #12.

A 1986 colour sketch by John Byrne, Terry Austin, and Steve Oliff.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

1987 – Moebius – The Airtight Garage

Moebius’ The Airtight Garage was volume #3 in a series of graphic novels published by Marvel Comics under their imprint, Epic Comics. This series of graphic novels reprinted Moebius’ work from the late 1970s with a translation from French to English done by Jean-Marc Lofficier.

For the 1980s, these graphic novels had a hefty price of $12.95US/$16.95 which put them out of my financial reach back then.

Apparently, The Airtight Garage took Jean “Moebius” Giraud four years to write and draw. This graphic novel presents the story in colour, which Moebius insisted either be done by himself or by assistants under his direct supervision. It also features a new translation which apparently corrected a few story inconsistencies.

Despite being popularly known as The Airtight Garage, a more accurate translation of the title is “The Garage Hermetic of Lewis Camelian”.

From Moebius’ introduction:
“With The Garage, it all started like that. I drew the first two pages with the feeling of making up a big joke, a complete mystery, something that could not possibly lead anywhere. And yet, at the same time, I was trying to create something that captured a feeling of joy and fantasy that I felt inside me, almost as if I was remembering the incomplete part of a dream.”

While I had difficult time with the story and the story-telling techniques, what kept me turning the pages was the art. Stunningly beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe Moebius’ work. Incredibly rich panels, stunning linework, and layouts with spectacular sci-fi fantasy scenes and technology. His detailed art work is balanced with simple caricatures that draw attention to themselves as your eye scans the panel. The colour work is beautifully done as well considering the technology of the mid-1980s.

I found the story difficult to follow and can honestly said I didn’t get it. The art is breathtaking, but the overall package didn’t work for me. The material felt very foreign and I’m bilingual in French! I can’t help but wonder what my 16 year-old self would have thought about the comic in 1987. He’d probably have been bummed out after dishing out $17 on this. 

An interesting homage to Will Eisner:


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