Monday, May 31, 2010

1984 – Avengers #250

Avengers Volume 1 #250
December 1984
Artists: Al Milgrom/Joe Sinnott/Ian Akin/Brian Garvey

I recently received the Avengers: West Coast Avengers Assemble Premiere Hardcover and forgot how much fun Roger Stern and Al Milgrom’s run on the Avengers was. Stern’s run on the Avengers was obviously defined by his collaboration with John Buscema and Tom Palmer, but you can’t discount his early run. The issues are tightly plotted weaving multiple character storylines back and forth. Material from Avengers #239, #243-244, and #246 were pulled into this volume and even with these bits, you can an idea of what Stern was trying to accomplish.

Avengers #250 (included in complete form in this hardcover) was a prime example of Stern and Milgrom’s collaboration. Milgrom’s penciled art is tightly defined by veteran Joe Sinnott’s inks. About halfway through the issue, Ian Akin and Brian Garvey jumped in to ink a dozen or so pages. Their efforts give Milgrom’s art a soft, polish feel and is a treat for the eyes.

This issue takes place shortly after the West Coast Avengers miniseries and has them team-up with the East Coast branch to take on the threat of Maelstrom. In one double-sized issue, this team-up puts most of today’s “events” to shame in how well the characters are handled and how you can have a great, exciting story in 40 pages.

In an interview with George Khoury for, Stern looked back on this run:

The trick was in figuring out which Avengers I could use. Three of them – Cap, Iron Man, and Thor – had their own books and would be unavailable for long stretches of time. Others would be pulled away for months at a time into miniseries. Keeping the right mix of characters was the biggest challenge, but after a while I managed to develop a pretty good working repertory company of heroes.

Al [Milgrom] was always a great idea man, but he was often drawing another book, as well as pulling down a day job as an editor. Because of time constraints, we never got to really collaborate as much as I would have liked.

The West Coast Avengers miniseries was a roaring success and spawned a regular, monthly series. Milgrom moved over from the Mighty Avengers and took on this spin-off title.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Well, it's been just over a year now that I've moved my Marvel 1980s website over to blogger. And by the looks of it, I've found an audience...

So I heartfelt thanks to all of you new and old visitors and followers! It's rewarding to see so many of you enjoying my work. Looking forward to providing you with many more hours of entertainment...

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

1984 - The Last Galactus Story

The Last Galactus Story
Epic Illustrated #28-36 (October 1984 – February 1986)
Writer/Artist: John Byrne
Inker: Terry Austin

Chapter 1: The Shattered Stars
Chapter 2: The Shadows in the Stone
Chapter 3: Return of the Exile
Chapter 4: The Rhyming Robot
Chapter 5: The End of the Earth
Chapter 6: The Hidden Stars
Chapter 7: Tunnel in the Sky
Chapter 8: The Dweller in Darkness
Chapter 9: The Face of the Foe

#          #          #

One of the greatest stories never completed in the Marvel Universe is John Byrne’s Last Galactus Story. Despite having nine chapters published, the story came to an abrupt halt when Epic Illustrated was cancelled because of poor sales. Unfortunately, the story lingered in limbo and with so much change in Marvel continuity, and Byrne has declared it “pretty much dead at this point.”

The Last Galactus Story is a mystery that has Galactus and his herald Nova speeding to the center of the universe to investigate the destruction of several galaxies. There they encounter Ecce, one of the near-omnipotent race of Watchers. Ecce was the Watcher who had witnessed Galactus’ birth.

This story featured some of the more impressive Byrne art of the 1980s. The inks by Terry Austin add just the right amount of style and finish to Byrne’s pencils. Equally, the coloring was rather impressive as well, giving a water-colored feel to the pages.

From an interview with, Byrne provides the ending that might have been:

Galactus battles the Watcher who showed up at the end of the last published chapter. This turns out to be the same Watcher who witnessed the "birth" of Galactus - yes, that was not Uatu - and who has been driven insane by his guilt over all the deaths that have happened because, as he sees it, he did not snuff out the nacent Galactus when he had the chance.

As the two battle, over millennia, the universe basically dies around them. The stars burn out. No "Big Crunch" of everything collapsing back onto itself to be born again. Entropy wins over all. As the universe verges on flickering out of existence, Galactus draws into himself the last shreds of energy, giving him just enough of an edge to defeat the rogue Watcher. But then Galactus and Nova are alone in an empty, endless void. The universe as we know it is gone.

Galactus finally understands what it's all about. What he's been doing all these billions of years. He cracks the seals on his armor, and all the energy he has absorbed spews out of him. He becomes, effectively, the Big Band of the next universe. Nova survives - and herself becomes the "Galactus" of that universe, the cycle beginning once again.

Byrne had even attempted to work with Marvel to blend the story into the “Last” Fantastic Four story. Unfortunately, X-Men – Hidden Years was cancelled and pretty much ended Byrne’s relationship with Marvel.

To read more about Byrne’s unfinished story, jump on over to:

Friday, May 21, 2010

1982 - Hercules House Ad

I'm a huge Bob Layton and love his take on Hercules. Had to share this house ad I found in the pages of What If #34, circa August 1982.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1984 - Secret Wars unpublished art

Here are a few pages of unpublished Mike Zeck art for Secret Wars #3 and #7 I came across. I included the original page for comparison... enjoy

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Marvel Comics - August 2010 Solicitations

Here's the 1980s goodness from Marvel's August 2010 solicitations...

For years, the New Mutants have struggled to hone their powers and teamwork in defense of Charles Xavier's dream of peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants. Now, with the arrival of Cable--a mysterious metal-armed, big-gunned, glowing-eyed man from the future--things will never be same...not for the New Mutants, and not for any mutants! Featuring the threats of Stryfe, Nitro, the Vulture, the Skrulls and Sabretooth! Guest-starring Sunfire and Wolverine! Collecting NEW MUTANTS #86-94 and NEW MUTANTS ANNUAL #5.

Written by LEN WEIN
Penciled by JOHN BUSCEMA
To save the very universe, Thor and the Warriors Three travel through time to stop the deadly Time Twisters! Then, it's off to Costa Verde to face the new threat of Firelord--but when Thor gets mind-controlled, only Jane Foster can save the day! And when Mangog storms the gates of Asgard, Thor must rescue his father Odin from Hela herself! Witness the God of Thunder in some of his earliest battles! Featuring the threats of Ulik, Zarrko the Tomorrow Man and more! Collecting THOR (1962) #242-253.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Shamless plug for Back Issue #40

Just a heads up that Back Issue #40 featuring my Black Cat article hit the shelves of your local comic book store last week...

Now shipping 8 times per year, with 16 color pages each issue! “Cat People” claw their way into BACK ISSUE #40 (84 pages with color, $7.95), as Catwoman’s Bronze Age good kitty/bad kitty conversion is explored, as are the histories of Spider-Man’s love-hate interest Black Cat, Patsy Walker—Hellcat, Vixen, Atlas Comics’ cat-heroes Tiger-Man and Cougar, Marvel’s kung fu-fightin’ White Tiger and the Sons of the Tiger, and comics’ punchiest pussycat, Wildcat! Plus: Thundercats, Josie and the Pussycats, the little-known movie superhero Pumaman, and a bonus beast, the Badger!

With art by and/or commentary from BRIAN BOLLAND, ALAN BRENNERT, ERNIE COLON, GERRY CONWAY, STEVE DITKO, STAN GOLDBERG, PAUL LEVITZ, AL MILGROM, Mystery Science Theater 3000’s MIKE NELSON, KEITH POLLARD, and more. All under a Catwoman cover purrrrfectly produced by JOE STATON and FREDDY LOPEZ, JR.! Edited by MICHAEL EURY.

And here's a sneak peak at my article...
There are villains that you love to hate, villains that are plot-device punching bags, and villains you truly sympathize with. Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat, is one of the latter. Classifying her as a villain is a bit of a misnomer though. While she’s broken the law as a cat burglar, Felicia is more of a self-absorbed rogue than your typical Spider-Man villain. 
Throughout the Spider-Man titles of the 1980s, the Black Cat’s life became intertwined with Spider-Man’s. As with all good characters, she was defined by her weaknesses and flaws and how she dealt with them. Her all-too human side was no better portrayed through her efforts to cope with a variety of psychological issues. To properly understand who the Black Cat is, let’s start at the beginning and explore the forces that shaped her."

So look for it at your local comic book store or you can order it online at:

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What if Byrne hadn't left the Uncanny X-Men

“See, thing was, altho Chris and I worked pretty well together, we were often at odds on who the characters were. As noted, until just a short time before I left the book, he had read no issues of X-MEN other than those produced during the Thomas/Adams run, and so, while I kept trying to maintain the characters as they had been for 60+ issues, he kept trying to turn them into other people. People I largely didn't like.
 And the problem was, no matter what I drew or scribbled in my margin notes, Chris would write the characters and the scenes as he felt moved to do when the pages where in front of him -- often completely changing my or even our original intent for a scene -- and THAT was what was seeing print. So, if the fans were loving the X-Men -- and it seemed they were! -- it was Chris' X-Men they were loving, not mine. I Chris had left instead of me, I very much doubt the book would have proved as popular as it did in the long run.”

Byrne’s last issue was Uncanny X-Men #143, but what if Byrne hadn’t left and stayed on to collaborate with Chris Claremont for a few more years. Well, here is Byrne’s scribbled notes:

Whether you’re a Claremont fan or a Byrne fan, it’s still intriguing to ask what if. It’s interesting to see how Byrne’s plan deviates near the end of the Dark Phoenix storyline. Retelling the story behind the original ending to the Dark Phoenix saga and Jim Shooter is in my queue. I can't help but wonder how they would have brought back the original X-Men team back into the fold.

Further down the list is the Sabretooth storyline which Byrne would have apparently revealed that Sabretooth and Wolverine were actually father and son.

From Fantagraphics' X-MEN COMPANION II (1982), Byrne revealed: 

"In my mind, [Sabretooth] was created [with the intention of making him Wolverine's father]. I don't think Chris originally conceived him that way, but I said, 'Hey, here's another Canadian guy who has a lot of the stuff, so I'll just draw him in such a way that he could be Wolverine's father -- or brother.' I wasn't sure in the early days. I figure Sabretooth is 120 years old.

As I dug around, I came across another tidbit in that Claremont and Cockrum had originally meant to have Wolverine be an evolved creation of the High Evolutionary. Also, apparently Len Wein, Wolverine’s creator had Wolverine at 18 years old and his claws were actually in his gloves and not coming out of his hands.

Monday, May 10, 2010

1982 - Marvel Team-Up Annual #5

Marvel Team-Up King-size Annual #5 - Spider-Man and The Thing, Scarlet Witch, Dr. Strange, Quasar
Writer/Breakdowns: Mark Gruenwald
Artist: Jim Mooney

I fondly recall picking this issue up at the local conveniance store and reading the hell out of it. Rereading it, it still stands as a solid 1980s comic book and a good example of a significant event being told in the pages of one book.

While I enjoyed Jim Mooney's work in the 1970s on Amazing Spider-Man, I felt his output in the 1980s had taken a step back. Perhaps with this issue, it had to more with the stiff poses layed out by Gruenwald's breakdown, who was always more of a writer than artist and would occasionally dabble as an artist (see Hawkeye miniseries).

But, don't get me wrong, the art in this issue still works and in a few places, works very well, particularly with the panel layout and arrangement (see attached page #9).

The story starts with a wonderful hook that just throws you into the story. Gruenwald was no stranger to Quasar as he had co-written the later 1970s Project Pegasus run in Marvel Two-In-One.

The story takes a little while to get going as the heroes are gathered and the backstory of the Serpent Crown is told (as Spidey drives to Project Pegasus with Dr. Strange in the passenger side!). But, from then on, it's a great ride throwing together a bunch of heroes who normally don't team-up together that often.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thoughts on Iron Man 2 (Spoiler Free)

Iron Man 2 was a lot of fun. The first film really set the bar high and this one didn't quite match it, but didn't do it a disservice either... It moved along quite while not hampered by having to tell an origin backstory. I was impressed with Mickey Rourke as he turned out a fine acting job. I also have a whole new appreciation for Scarlet Johansson.

Nice to see some 1980s and 90s writers get some story credits, like John Byrne, Len Kamenski, and Kevin Hapgood.

Make sure you stay through the end credits.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Another round of 1980s Marvel Trivia!

  1. Who killed Rachel Van Helsing (1982)? 
  2. What organization wanted to hire and equip the Punisher during his miniseries (1986)?
  3. Who were wed in Fantastic Four Annual #18 (1984)?
  4. Which eye did Dr. Strange loose in the pages of Strange Tales (1987)?
  5. In which series did Cloak and Dagger debut (1982) and what issue #?
  6. Which Avenger was hyper-evolved and sacrificed himself to take down the High Evolutionary (1988)?
  7. Which romantic interest did both Cyclops and Magneto have in common (1981)?
  8. Which fromer hero did Mockingbird let fall to his death (1987)?


Related Posts with Thumbnails