Saturday, August 31, 2013

1982 - Acroyear by Art Adams

Found over on the Fans of Arthur Adams Facebook page:

1982 - Art Adams' Indiana Jane

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Magik by J. Scott Campbell

Visit Latveria ... or maybe not

by artist Sean Thornton

John Cassaday’s Avengers #19 Decades Variant Covers

A wonderful way to celebrate 50 years of the Avengers!

1982 - X-Men and the New Teen Titans page 40

Originally published in the X-Men Companion #2.

Byrne's inspiration for Wolverine

A special collaboration with Patrick from Montreal.
In Back Issue #4, John Byrne revealed that a particular actor was an inspiration for his take on Wolverine: "I know Frank [Miller] based his Wolverine heavily on Eastwood. My Wolverine is an actor whose name I don't even know, whose on camera for all of five minutes in a Paul Newman hockey movie called Slap Shot.  (...) he just had the look. He had the crazy eyes. And that's Wolverine needs to have."

The actor's name is Paul D'Amato, and it is amazing to see that he still has some features attributed to Logan even while getting older! (Byrne found the actor's name later and mentioned it on the Byrne Robotics forum). The character he played in Slap Shot is Tim "Dr Hook" McCracken. Take a look at him with his sideburns... And his eyes which had the same intensity that Wolverine had during the famous Byrne/Claremont era.
But this is not all: In The Deer Hunter, he did the famous scene where, as a veteran, he says "Fuck it" to Robert DeNiro at the wedding's bar. The scene itself could have been a classic Logan moment.

In Heaven's Gate (again by director Michael Cimino), you can see him with a full beard in this period movie which take place in the same era of the Origin mini-series.

Finally, on his official website, recent pictures shows him as what could be an "Old Man Logan" !   (or in the Days of Future Past... or the Barry Windsor-Smith pin-up from the back of Wolverine #4).

We salute you, "Dr Hook".

- Patrick


1984 - Anatomy of a cover - ROM #55

Friday, August 23, 2013

Captain America by Walt Simonson

An homage to Steranko's Captain America. Grabbed from The Walt Simonson Appreciation Society Facebook page.

1988 - Anatomy of a cover - Solo Avengers #7

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Off to Day 1 of Fan Expo 2013

Packing up my hardcovers for Mignola and Simsonson. Usually I've only been able to meet Walt Simonson at SDCC, so I've only had him sign the dust jackets for some of his work, so it'll be nice to get him to sign the insides of my hardcovers. Also have a few floppy comics for Louise Simonson to autograph. Looking forward to getting my Rocket Raccoon #1 signed by Mignola!

1982 - The Wolverine Limited Series

Wolverine limited series #1-4
Sept.-Dec. 1982
Writer: Chris Claremont
Artists: Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein

After seeing The Wolverine and being disappointed with its wasted potential, I thought a look back at the source material might cleanse my pallet. The Wolverine was Marvel’s second limited series (put out in tandem with the Hercules: Prince of Power limited series in 1982) and featured the creative talents of the legendary X-Men scribe, Chris Claremont, and a young up-and-comer named Frank Miller.

The first issue kicks off with this classic monologue: “I’m Wolverine. I'm the best there is at what I do. But what I do isn't very nice.”

Logan makes his way to Japan when he’s unable to contact his lover, Mariko Yashida (who first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #118, Feb. 1979). He then blusters his way into talking to Mariko and discovers that she’s been forced to marry because of family obligations and is suffering abuse at the hands of her new husband.

Logan then challenges Mariko’s father and head of the Yashida clan, Lord Shingen. And of course, this is the first issue of a four-issue limited series, so Logan is defeated. What makes that scene so memorable is that Shingen looks down on Logan, refusing to fight him with a steel sword, but rather a wood one because he sees Logan as unworthy. Logan is left defeated and humbled, which is always a great place to tell a story. He picks himself up and his pride thanks to a young ninja named Yukio.

The theme of this limited series is Wolverine struggling to come to grips with his animal, berserker side. Sadly, this thematic element was what was missing from the film. It captured the characters and the setting, but didn’t really have that internal struggle that defined the character of Wolverine for years.

Another complicating factor was the romantic interest, Yukio. While she served as a double-agent for Lord Shingen, she genuinely fell in love with Wolverine and felt that they were kindred spirits. But, Wolverine never really abandons his love for Mariko. In fact, the Logan-Mariko relationship exemplified everything about Wolverine’s transformation. Under a code of honour, Logan restrains the beast that rages within him and his love for Mariko was the perfect symbol for his success.

As the storyline approaches its climax, Wolverine attacks Shingen’s illegal business interests, strategically dismantling his empire and forcing a confrontation. And in that climatic battle, Wolverine asks Lord Shingen if he’s now worthy and Shingen draws the family sword and attacks. Wolverine kills Lord Shingen and expects to have to now face Mariko as she will be honour-bound to take up the fight against Wolverine. However, Mariko does take up the sword, but presents it to Wolverine as his reward for cleansing the Yashida clan of Shingen’s corrupting influence. This stunning decision validated Wolverine’s being and struggle as Mariko accepts him for what he is, having witnesses him at his most savage.

The limited series wraps up with a lead into Uncanny X-Men #172-173, which as they say, is a whole other story and a whole other blog entry. But that last page is wonderful as it shows the wedding announcement for Logan and Mariko and there’s a hand-written note from Wolverine to Nightcrawler: “Hey Elf, Don’t Forget the Beer! –W”

The Wolverine limited series featured the first appearance of Lord Shingen and Yukio. Another interesting bit was that in issue #1, Wolverine mentions that he knows the identity of his father.

I really felt this story was timeless. It’s over 30 years old and still resonates with a lot of great themes and sequences that show Claremont and Miller's fascination with Japanese culture. Joe Rubinstein does a wonderful job inking Miller’s pencils, making them feel uniquely smooth and finished.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Spider-Man by Roger Stern Omnibus on Amazon!

Amazon is advertising a Roger Stern Spider-Man Omnibus for pre-order:

Hardcover: 1248 pages
April 8 2014
Roger Stern (Author), Marv Wolfman (Author), Bill Mantlo (Author), Jan Strnad (Author), Mike Zeck (Illustrator), John Romita (Illustrator), John Byrne (Illustrator), Rick Leonardi (Illustrator)

Looks like this omnibus will collect both Stern's Spectacular Spider-Man and Amazing Spider-Man runs in the early 1980s. This hardcover makes a lot of sense since there's been a bunch of recent Stern Spider-Man TPBs, like the recent "Nothing Can Stop The Juggernaut" and the upcoming Mark of the Tarantula.

1983 - Avengers #227

Avengers #227
January 1983
"Testing ....1...2...3"
Writer: Roger Stern
Artists: Sal Buscema/Brett Breedings 

(Clipped from my Avengers article in Back Issue #56.)

Roger Stern was perhaps the most underrated writer for Marvel Comics during the 1980s. Despite the volume and quality of his work, which included major titles like The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, Captain America, and Doctor Strange, he was considered a superstar, like Chris Claremont, John Byrne, or Frank Miller.

What made Stern’s five-year run on The Avengers so successful and memorable were his characters. Each character had their distinct attitude and direction, as well as flaws, which set them apart from the typical superhero stereotype. Stern understood what it meant to be a hero: being a hero, even at the power levels of the Avengers, required a human connection. It was never about their god-like powers or super-human abilities; it was about their humanity with all of its strengths and weaknesses.

On how he got The Avengers writing assignment, Stern said: “I asked for it. Seriously, The Avengers was the first assignment that I actively sought out at Marvel. Before that, on Doctor Strange, The Incredible Hulk, or The Amazing Spider-Man, an editor had always asked me to write the series. But with The Avengers … well, I'd edited the book for a couple of years, and it had always been one of my favorites. So when I heard that Jim Shooter was going to be stepping down from writing Avengers, I called Mark Gruenwald and tossed my hat in the ring.”

The Avengers #227 kicked off with Stern cleverly using a psychiatrist who was trying to determine Pym’s mental fitness to stand trial, to flashback through Pym's past. Pym recounted his early history as a scientist, his relationship with the Wasp, his career as an Avenger, and his fall from grace. His narrative was compelling and moving and wove together 20 years of convoluted history written by several writers, each with their own take on the character.

At the same time, Stern also focused on the Wasp as the leader and chairwoman of the Avengers, and her struggle to find her place without Hank Pym. Despite being a founding member of the Avengers since way back in 1963, her presence on the team wasn’t anything more than a sidekick, fashion diva, or plot device, usually the damsel in distress. She had always lived in the shadow of Hank Pym and his various superhero incarnations. Her most significant developments as a character seemed to be her exhaustive wardrobe.

“Don't forget, the Wasp was a kid when she first became the Wasp – she was a debutante, just barely twenty – not that much older than, say, Spider-Man. We saw her come of age in the Avengers.”

The Wasp worked around the Avengers government clearance that mandated only seven Avengers by instituting the Avengers-in-Training program. She did so by pulling some strings as the First Lady and she had the same masseur! From Stern’s first issue, he’s already taking her in a new direction and expanding her character. She was confident, driven, and resourceful.

And as impressive as her new attitude was, Stern showed the depth of her personality as she struggled to hold it all together: “Maybe I don’t have Hank around to lean on anymore -- But I can tough it out! I’ll show ‘em... I don’t need him... Don’t need anybody! After all, I’m an Avenger. I’m the leader of the Avengers.”

“At the time, there were a few readers who thought it was crazy to have the Wasp leading the Avengers, but seen in the overall context of her life, it really was a natural development,” recalled Stern. “The Wasp was a founding Avenger, and had been with the team for most of her adult life. She was recently divorced from a troubled marriage, and getting her life back together. At that point in her life, Jan was reinventing herself, looking for new challenges, and taking on new responsibilities.”

Stern also invested time with the other Avengers, especially touching on the newly-rejoined Hawkeye and new member, She-Hulk. Each member was given some face time in which their human vulnerabilities were highlighted. For example, Iron Man regretting having romantically pursued the Wasp as Tony Stark while she didn’t know he was Iron Man.

Stern accomplished all of this in just his first issue!

From the letter page of The Avengers #227, Stern wrote:
“Needless to say, I’m thrilled and honored to be writing the adventures of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes -- but said thrill and honor does not preclude an occasional gulp of insecurity. Like most of you, I’ve been a big fan of Jim Shooter’s tenure on the book and stepping into his size-13 sneakers is not going to be an easy task. Still and all, the Big Guy has charted an impressive course through these waters and he’s left me enough concepts, plot-threads, and ideas for a score of adventures.”


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