Wednesday, September 29, 2010

1986 - Anatomy of a Cover - Classic X-Men #1

Updated with more sequential images from Ferran Delgado's blog posting.

A little bit of love for Art Adams and his cover to Classic X-Men #1...

Preliminary cover design
Another preliminary, this time drawn by John Romita Sr.

Recoloured version

Monday, September 27, 2010

1983 - New Mutants

I fondly recall picking up a copy of the New Mutants #1 from a local convenience story in 1983. Unlike reading the X-Men, where I had felt I was always behind, since I was reading starting with issue #168, and that there was a lot to catch up on, this issue was a great launch into the world of mutants.

While the New Mutants had powers, they weren’t your traditional city-patrolling heroes. They were kids and they not only had to deal with controlling their powers, they had to deal with real teenage problems, like crushes, school, and insecurity. Claremont’s writing style was perfectly suited to play up these angles and really hook young readers. And they were a family.

Having been part of that target market in 1983, I can say that this title captured the imagination of that thirteen year old and had me hooked with the first issue and would see me collect the title until it ended at #100.

The New Mutants quickly rose above its label as an X-Men spin-off. The first three issues introduce the new team of mutants through Danielle Moonstar's point of view. She also has the biggest chip on her shoulder. Her constant conflict with Professor X is well used to allow us to learn a bit more about each character.

The biggest difference between the New Mutants and the X-Men is that the New Mutants were still just kids. When the New X-Men were recruited, they were almost adults and had learned to use their powers on their own. However, the New Mutants are raw and talented kids who need to be trained to properly use their powers.

As far as I'm concerned, Bob McLeod has always been an underrated artist who never really had that chance (beyond the New Mutants of course) to distinguish himself as a premiere artist. While Claremont’s style and dialog always worked for me, it was the crisp art of Bob McLeod that drew me into this series. Artist Bob McLeod dropped in to provide some fill-in art for Uncanny X-Men #151 and 152 and was actually offered the position of full-time artist on the title.

From an interview with Adelaide Comics and books (, McLeod expanded:

“Then they liked that job, so they offered me the book; but they said, “You can either do the X-Men or we’ve got a new series we’re starting up called the New Mutants.  It’s up to you, but this is going to be a new series and should be big, so it might be something you’d want to get into instead of the X-Men”, and even though the X-Men was kind of the hot book at the time, New Mutants was something that I could co-create and get in on the ground floor, so to speak, so I chose to do that.”

In an interview with the Comic Book Bin, McLeod had more to say:
“I probably could have had a lot more input, because Chris was very open to suggestions, but at the time, I just wasn't that interested in creating characters. I just wanted to draw. Chris already had the characters basically imagined when I came on board. Chris, Louise and I decided to make the thrust of the book all about the school, so the New Mutants wouldn't just be another super-group like all the others. I pushed to have more females than males in the group, and helped to decide on what costumes they'd wear (we decided to go with a school uniform), and I created the physical look of the characters. In other words, I think Rahne was basically just described by Chris as a redhead. I decided to make her short and full-figured, with bristly wolf-hair, and I came up with her transitional half-wolf look. I made Dani tall and slender and flat chested (at the time, probably the only female in comics with less than a c-cup!). It was my idea to give Sam big ears, etc. We originally envisioned Sunspot as growing huge like the Hulk when he powered up.”

From an interview with Claremont in Comics Collector #2:
“And in a sense, I think that’s perhaps why we created The New Mutants – to do a book where those realities [death and violence] do no so much intrude. To do a book where kids – a younger audience – could read it enjoy it and be scared and excited without having the fundamental pay-off of somebody suffering such an essential trauma as death. It may be that X-Men has developed to a point where it is not a book that appeals to the youngest audiences.”

I was always curious as to why McLeod had left as I had always liked his art. He explains his rationale as follows (taken from

 “The reason I left New Mutants was because it was so far behind schedule.  We got started off on the wrong foot.  It was supposed to be a regular series and then as I was starting to draw the first issue the editor decided to make it a graphic novel.  That was at the same time I was getting married and going on a honeymoon, and so I got behind and just never could catch up after that.  After the first three issues of pencilling I just wasn’t happy with the drawing I was doing because it was so rushed.  I then decided to quit drawing it and start inking it instead, but then that just wasn’t satisfying because I was inking the same penciller every month and Sal Buscema is a very good penciller for what he does, but at that time especially he was just doing a real standard pencilling job, nothing exciting.  So I just wasn’t into it.  Just after a few issues of inking I just decided to try to find something else to do that was a bit more fun and I never kept up with it after that.”

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Marvel Comics of the 1980s Facebook group

Hey there, if you're on Facebook, check out the Marvel Comics of the 1980s group I've created:

I've seen a lot of comments on my pages from all sorts of fans of the Marvel 1980s and thought it would be fun to get us together in such a group where we can have some fun through some lively discussions reminiscing about 1980s comics.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Favorite last pages from the 1980s

These are some of the more memorable last pages that I recall from the Marvel 1980s... looking forward to your comments...

In no particular order...   Alpha Flight #12

Thor #337

Fantastic Four #267

Amazing Spider-Man #238

Uncanny X-Men #177

Captain America #253

Avengers #262

Avengers #277

New Mutants #18

Daredevil #232

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Marvel Comics for December - 1980s goodness


Considered by many to be the greatest run on Thor ever, Walt Simonson's classic tales of the God of Thunder are collected here--completely remastered from the original artwork and newly colored by Steve Oliff! And there are too many timeless tales to count: The Casket of Ancient Winters! The death of Odin! The origins of Asgard! The sacrifice of the Executioner! Thor as a frog! The Mutant Massacre! The curse of Hela! The debut of Thor's body armor! Guest-starring Beta Ray Bill, Nick Fury and the Avengers! Featuring the threats of Fafnir the dragon, Loki, Lorelei, Malekith the Dark Elf, Surtur, Hela, the Titanium Man, Kurse, Zaniac, the Marauders, the Absorbing Man, Fin Fang Foom, the Destroyer and the Midgard Serpent!
Collecting THOR #337-355, #357-369 & #371-382 and BALDER THE BRAVE #1-4.
1192 pages, $125.

Written by BOB LAYTON
Penciled by RON LIM & BOB LAYTON

Hercules has been the champion of the Andromeda galaxy for over 75 years! But when an attempt to save the capitol city of Port Anteris goes awry, the Lion of Olympus is left incapacitated and needing to be looked after by his Olympic offspring. However, with a sinister plot brewing against his son's government and the threat of Galactus looming, Hercules--even in his brain-addled state-- is the galaxy's only hope! It's the long awaited follow-up to Bob Layton's classic Hercules run!
Collecting HERCULES: TWILIGHT OF A GOD #1-4. 96 pages, $14.99.


Written by David Michelinie and Bob Layton
Penciled by Graham Nolan
Back-up story by Rick Remender and Shawn Moll.

Would Tony Stark still be Iron Man...if he wasn't Tony Stark? Twenty years ago, in a college experiment gone bad, the young Stark's mind is transferred to the body of impoverished but brilliant fellow student, Victor von Doom! Blamed for the unsanctioned research, his memory wiped clean, Tony is deported and forced to face life as a disgraced Latverian commoner. Meanwhile, von Doom grows and flourishes in the wealth and privilege of being sole heir to tark Industries. Thus, in separate cauldrons on different sides of the world, both Iron Man and Dr. Doom are forged anew. But who are the men inside the armors...really? Find out in "What If Tony Stark Had Become Dr. Doom?" Plus, What If: The Venom Symbiote Possessed Deadpool -- Part 4!
40 pages, $3.99.

1989 - rec.arts.comics 1980s awards

The Rec.arts.comics Eighties Awards!!
(Originally conducted as part of the 1989 poll.)

Ah, newsgroups. The Facebook of the 1980s. The sample size of voters seems to be around 50 votes or so. While it’s a small sample size, it’s definitely interesting to see the compiled results.

Favorite writer:
Alan Moore.............22
Frank Miller............8
Dave Sim................8
Chris Claremont.........4
Gilbert Hernandez.......2

Tied with 1 vote:
Mark Gruenwald, Phil Foglio, Scott McCloud, Walt Simonson, Roy Thomas, and Matt Wagner.

Favorite artist:
Bill Sienkiewicz.......12
George Perez............4
Dave McKean.............3
John Byrne..............2
Alan Davis..............2
Jaime Hernandez.........2
Kevin Maguire...........2
Steve Rude..............2
Dave Sim................2
John Totleben...........2

Tied with 1 vote:
Sergio Aragones, Stephen Bissette, Brian Bolland, Gerhard, Steve Lightle, Scott McCloud, Todd McFarlane, Frank Miller, Kevin O'Neill, Walter Simonson, Jim Starlin, and Bryan Talbot.

Favorite new character or team:
Jenny (from Zot!).......3
Kitty Pryde.............3

Tied with 1 vote:
Animal Man, John Constantine, Maggie Chascarillo, Cutey Bunney, Damage Control, Dreadstar & Co., Dynamo Joe, Elektra, Grendel (Hunter Rose), The Judge (Cerebus), Justice League International, Marshall Law, Kevin Matchstick, Chester Monroe, Billy Nguyen, Omaha, Torquemada, Stinz, The Tick, Venom, and Watchmen.

Favorite continuing series:
Swamp Thing.............4
Love and Rockets........3

Tied with 1 vote:
Amazing Spider-Man, Akira, Avengers, Concrete, Detective Comics, Dreadstar, Excalibur, Grimjack, Hulk, Legion of Super-Heroes, Lone Wolf and Cub, Miracleman, (Claremont's) New Mutants, Nexus, Omaha the Cat Dancer, Sandman, (Simonson's) Thor, and The Tick.

Favorite limited series:
Dark Knight..................7
V for Vendetta...............5
Crisis on Infinite Earths....4

Tied with 1 vote:
The Adv. of Luther Arkwright, Black Orchid, Dr. Fate, Elektra: Assassin, Elfquest, Fantastic Four vs. X-Men, Kings in Disguise, Kitty Pryde and Wolverine, The Longbow Hunters, Mage: The Hero Discovered, Nausicaa, Stinz, X-Men vs.  Avengers, and Villains and Vigilantes.

Favorite storyline of any series:
American Gothic, from Swamp Thing....4
Born Again, from Daredevil...........4
Church and State, from Cerebus.......4
The Elektra Saga, from Daredevil.....3
High Society, from Cerebus...........3
Quest for the Key, from Zot!.........3
The Asgardian Wars from X-Men and New Mutants........2
Crisis on Infinite Earths............2

Tied with 1 vote:
The Armor Wars, from Iron Man, Batman: Year One, from Batman, The Brood story, from X- Men, Devil's Legacy, from Grendel, A Dream of Flying, from Miracleman, Gothic Empire from Nemesis the Warlock, The Fear from Detective Comics,  The Great Darkness Saga  from Legion of Super-Heroes, Kings in Disguise, Nightcrawler limited series, Miracleman Book 3, Planet Earth from Zot!, The Sin-Eater, from Spectacular Spider-Man, The Spider War from Omega Men, Spider-Woman vs. the Viper, from Spider-Woman, The Surtur Saga, from Thor, The Trial  of Henry Pym from Avengers, The second Trigon story from the New Teen Titans, Vida Loca from Love and Rockets, and Watchmen.

Monday, September 20, 2010

1981 - Captain America

I've already posted on Roger Stern and John Byrne's wonderful, but short run on Captain America. However, I wanted to follow up on the Red Skull trilogy which was planned to start with Captain America #257, but never saw the light of day...

Roger Stern from Stern Talk! (
The short version is that office politics and hassles led to our leaving the series. Next up would have been a Red Skull three-parter. And after that...well, John always wanted to see Cap take on some American Neo-Nazis.
 "Nazis...I hate those guys!" [...]
 Those pages were never scripted, but a plot to all three issues exists...or at least, existed. If a copy is still around, it's buried in my files or a box somewhere.
 A little over five years ago, there was actually some interest in John and me producing all three issues as a special of some sort. But then, other parties at Marvel started screwing John around.
 Still...maybe someday.
 and furthermore:
That was going to be our Red Skull trilogy. After we left Cap, I toyed with the idea of turning the story into a graphic novel. But later writers did some things with the Skull that would have invalidated the story. A couple of years ago, there was some talk of having John and me revisit the story as a special project “ sort of "What if Roger and John hadn’t left Captain America?" But then John started having major creative differences with Marvel. I guess the story will have to remain "The One that Got Away." For now, at least. I never say never.
And one more little tidbit, from Comics Feature #1 where Stern discusses his post issue #255 run: "After the first of next year there will be a two- or three-part story with the Red Skull in which the Skull's real face will be revealed for the first - and last - time. Following that will be stories with Arnim Zola and the Ameridroid."

Thanks to the fine folks at, I have the following unpublished (and unlettered) pages to share with you. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Avengers Under Siege Premiere HC out this Wednesday!

Don't miss this. One of the more powerful story of the 1980s. A Stern and Buscema classic presented in this fabulous hardcover format.

Avengers Under Siege Premiere HC
Written by ROGER STERN 
Penciled by JOHN BUSCEMA 

Home are the heroes, but the villains are waiting for them! Avengers Mansion becomes the site of one of the team's greatest battles when Baron Zemo's Masters of Evil take down Earth's Mightiest Heroes one by one, one seemingly forever! Plus: an odyssey of Avengers, Alpha Flight and Atlantean civil war! Guest-starring Ant-Man, Doctor Druid and Paladin, later of Thunderbolts fame! 

Collecting AVENGERS #270-277. 192 PGS.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Saying Goodbye To Spider-Man...

This wonderful article ( Saying Goodbye To Spider-Man by Matthew H. Kleinertsums, up my feelings about the current "Brand New Day" direction of the Spider-Man titles. Although growing with Spider-Man in the 1970s and 1980s, I too felt betrayed and dropped the title for the first time since putting it on my pull list in 1983... Thankfully I haven't read any of the current One Moment In Time storyline.

1983 - Michael Golden's Dr. Strange Portfolio

While Michael Golden only drew one issue of Dr. Strange (#55) and contributed a couple of covers to the series, this portfolio gives us a tantalizing look at what might have been had he become the regular artist.

Monday, September 13, 2010

1986 – X-Factor

X-Factor - #1-6, Annual #1
February-October 1986
Writer: Bob Layton/Jackson Guice
Art: Jackson Guice/Keith Pollard/Joe Rubinstein/Bob Layton

Unfortunately in late 1985, Jim Shooter approved the X-Factor story line that reunited the original X-Men and would resurrect Jean Grey. The blame for bringing back Jean Grey has passed between John Byrne, Chris Claremont, and Jim Shooter like a hot potato.

Claremont didn't like the idea at all and approached Shooter. However, according to Claremont, Shooter “felt the marketing arguments in favor of resurrecting Jean far outweighed what I felt was the critical damage being done to the canon.”

In an interview with Comic Book Resources, Bob Layton had the following to say about Jean's return:

"I have to give the credit/blame to John Byrne. In the initial premise that Jackson Guice and I submitted, Jean Grey was not part of the group. Mike Carlin, editor at the time, pulled me aside one day and said "Hey, how would you like to have ALL of the original X-Men back?"  Apparently John Byrne had come up with a way to revive her and, of course, why would I refuse to use her?

Was bringing Jean Grey back a mistake? In my opinion, absolutely. There's no question that this was a bad idea, but financially Marvel couldn't pass up the opportunity to make wads of cash. They compromised one of Marvel's greatest story lines to make money."

The biggest casualty in bringing back Jean Grey wasn't Jean, but rather Cyclops. Scott Summers was portrayed rather pathetically in that he abandoned his wife and child to go gallivanting around with an old flame, with whom he avoided mentioning that he was married.

While I have to admit it was fun to see the original X-Men together horsing around, Iceman and Beast hanging out together, and setting up that familiar love triangle between Angel and Cyclops. But, I wonder if they would have been better off setting up Angel with Jean and reuniting Cyclops with his wife?

With that said, the basic idea behind X-Factor was a clever one. Taking advantage of mutant hysteria to locate mutants under the guise of a mutant-hunting organization was solid, especially when they got concern that their goal was fostering more mutant prejudice.

The X-Factor event started in Avengers #263, which had the Avengers come across a mysterious cocoon, and Fantastic Four #286, which freed Jean Grey from the cocoon and realized what the Phoenix entity had done to her.

X-Factor #1 brought together the original X-Men and they decided to form the X-Factor organization under the watchful eye of Cameron Hodge, who would later become a thorn in their side.  Their first story arc had them track down a young pyrokinetic, Rusty Collins. Their second story arc led them into a confrontation with the mysterious Apocalypse and his Alliance of Evil. X-Factor #6 introduced Apocalypse (he did have a brief cameo in the shadows of issue #5) who would go on and become one of the X-Men's deadliest foes.

The creators of X-Factor didn't stay onboard for very long. Creative differences were stated as the reason for Layon's departure, as well as deadline problems, according to Louise Simonson.

Bob Layton stated it was mostly politics, so much so that he was never asked to do any other X-book.

In X-Factor #5's next issue blurb, a special note announces that "creator/writer Bob Layton takes leave of X-Factor". Louise Simonson took the helm as X-Factor's new writer and stay on for several years. Jackson Guice left the book with issue #7.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Top 10 Favorite Marvel Villains Created in the 1980s

Top 10 Favorite Marvel Villains Created in the 1980s

  1. Hobgoblin
  2. Selene
  3. Kurse
  4. Mr. Sinister
  5. Nimrod
  6. Scourge of the Underworld
  7. Venom (The Symbiote)
  8. Belasco
  9. S’ym
  10. Typhoid Mary

Honourable mentions:
  1. Tombstone
  2. Nuke
  3. Malekith
  4. Nasty’rth

Monday, September 6, 2010

Simonson's Thor Omnibus 2011

If you can't tell, I'm really excited for this omnibus. Been lurking through the Marvel forum over at KOBE27 was kind enough to post some scans of the Thor Visionary TPB pages as compared to the originals and I'd thought I share. Apparently the omnibus will use the same colouring...

Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Simonson's Thor and the Fall of the Mutants in Omnibus format in 2011!

Great news for Simonson fans! A 1,100 page Thor Omnibus featuring the works of Walt Simonson will hit the shelves in March 2011

Considered by many to be the greatest run on Thor ever, Walt Simonson's classic tales of the God of Thunder are collected here-completely remastered from the original artwork and newly colored by Steve Oliffe! And there are too many timeless tales to count: The Casket of Ancient Winters! The death of Odin! The origins of Asgard! The sacrifice of the Executioner! Thor as a frog! The Mutant Massacre! Collecting: Thor #337-355, #357-369, #371-382; Balder the Brave #1-4

And, in April 2011, a Fall of the Mutants Omnibus will also be available.


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