Friday, May 30, 2008

In Memorium: Harvey Korman

The Great Gazoo has passed away as the result of complications from a ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm he had suffered four months previously.

Emmy Award & Golden globe Award-winning Actor Harvey Korman, struggled for years to break into show business, but once he did he became a comedic mainstay for many decades starting with "The Danny Kaye Show" before moving onto his immortal run on "The Carol Burnett Show" where he spent the next ten years.

Korman also appeared on the big screen in the Mel Brooks classic Blazing Saddles, among other roles. I fondly remember his voice work on the prime-time family cartoon series, The Flintstones in the 1960's where in addition to occasionally providing other background character voices, his unmistakable nasal twang emanated from the otherworldly imp, The Great Gazoo.

"Gal" Friday! Miss November 1984

Well, I typically found myself in a tough spot again today. "Gal" Friday is actually never easy for me. There are just so many lovelies who need to be pointed out to all of you desperate, depraved voyeurs. But here in the Catacombs we break a tie by flipping a coin and here is the lass who won out over a hot genre chick who will be returning to TV screens this fall.

Playmates! Ya' gotta love 'em and everybody has a favorite. Mine is the absolutely stunning Miss November 1984, Roberta Vasquez. From the first time that I saw her in another Playboy photo layout, prior to her selection as one of Hef's monthly Bunnies, she was "it" for me. I was single at the time and a horny military serviceman to boot, so in all likelyhood I would really have shot somebody to get a crack at this Hispanic hottie.

Think about these stats: Height - 5 ft. 8 inches, Weight - 125 lbs, Bust - 40D, Waist - 25 inches, Hips - 36 inches.

And at age 45, Roberta is still smoking hot. Her first Playboy pictorial also pointed out the awesome fact that she was a former California State Police Officer. I would really like to show you a more "revealing" photo of her, but while I play it coy from time-to-time here in the Catacombs, its best to avoid full nudity. That doesn't prevent any of you from "Googling" Ms. Vasquez and trust me, you'll be glad that you did.

Now, I've gotta go take a really cold shower and polish my set of handcuffs.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gone, but not forgotten: Babylon 5

"In the year 2258, it is ten years after the Earth-Minbari War. Commander Jeffrey Sinclair takes command of a giant five-mile-long cylindrical space station, orbiting a planet in neutral space. At a crossroads of interstellar commerce and diplomacy, Cmdr Sinclair (and his successor, Captain John Sheridan) must try to establish peace and prosperity between various interstellar empires, all the while fighting forces from within the Earth Alliance. It is a precarious command, particularly given that sabotage led to the destruction of Babylon stations 1, 2, & 3 and 4 vanished without a trace."

Babylon 5 ended its five season run in 1998 - TEN YEARS AGO - and secured its place as one of the best science fiction drama series ever to grace the airwaves. B5 really paved the way for better episodic genre shows like Farscape, Heroes and the current incarnation of Battlestar: Galactica.

Two storied attempts at spin-off shows, Crusade and Legend of the Rangers, met with less success, but 2007 saw the release of the popular direct-to-DVD Babylon 5: The Lost Tales which reunited a handful of the series stars. It remains to be seen if more "Lost Tales" are forthcoming.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Watchmen Photo Teaser

The producers of the 2009 film adaptation of Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons DC Comics classic Watchmen have released a teaser photo of the in-comic precursor to the series main characters, The Minutemen of 1940. To me, only actress Carla Gugino is recognizable as the earlier version of "Silk Spectre"; the other actors may only be extras.

In my opinion, some of the costumes look a little amateurish, but overall they do reflect how the Minutemen appeared in the limited flashback sequences in which they were used in the original series. It remains to be seen how this type of thing is actually incorporated into the highly anticipated film.

(Left-to-Right) Silhouette, Mothman, Dollar Bill, Nite Owl, Captain Metropolis, Silk Spectre, Hooded Justice (and kneeling in front) The Comedian.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

All-New, All-Different X-Men, X-tra: Thunderbird

The ultimate also-ran and short time member of the "Second Genesis" group of X-Men gathered together in Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975), John Proudstar was created by writer Len Wein and artist Dave Cockrum.

Proudstar was born on an Apache reservation in Camp Verde, Arizona. As a teenager, Proudstar developed the mutant abilities of superhuman senses (enabling him to be a highly adept tracker), strength (enough to rend the metal 'skin' of a jet with his bare hands), speed (he was fast enough to outrun a buffalo, but potentially much faster), stamina, and durability.

John was drafted into the United States Marine Corps during the Vietnam War and earned the rank of Corporal, but after he returned home, he was unhappy and listless. It was at this point that Proudstar was reluctantly recruited by Professor Charles Xavier to join his new X-men and he assumed the codename “Thunderbird".

After successfully completing his first mission with the X-Men, Thunderbird turned out to be volatile and ill-mannered and he constantly disrupted the team's synchronization. Thunderbird often found himself going head to head with Cyclops, the designated leader of the X-Men. His attitude never wavered, and this ultimately led to Thunderbird’s untimely end on the teams second mission.

During a confrontation with the super-villain Count Nefaria, Proudstar leaped onto an airplane that was carrying the fleeing Nefaria. Despite the urging of his teammate Banshee, Thunderbird refused to get off the plane, stating that he would show them that he was a true Apache warrior. However, the plane soon exploded, killing Proudstar. Count Nefaria was later revealed to have survived the crash, but even in death Thunderbird's legacy carries on. His younger brother, Warpath (James Proudstar), has similar powers, although to a much greater degree, and he is also an X-Man.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Review: The Twelve #5 (Marvel Comics)

I didn't read this one until the Memorial Day weekend, and just as I've suspected (and reported with each passing issues review) this issue of The Twelve is mainly just more of the same. The characters, the writing, the artwork are all the same as before, with a tiny bit more story development than last issue. I hesitate to use the word plot, because thus far I'm not sure that there actually is a plot to this one. A cover blurb of "Twelve Mystery Men from the 1940's Return" plastered across the cover of each issue would pretty much sum up everything that has occurred since the first issue. And we are almost halfway through the twelve issues of The Twelve.


I am really getting more of a kick out of reading the other available reviews of this series each month than I ever expected. The IGN reviewer says that, "I love reading the book and not really caring what direction JMS takes it, since the book's plot flows in such a way that we are able to move in and out of 6 or 7 different plot lines and at this point in the book, feel comfortable that everything is going to get dealt with in due time." He then adds, "Granted, it is still not clear what the "larger story" in all this is," before going on to overly praise the book as a new classic. Probably out of all the reviews that I've read, Cash Gorman is the only one that mirrors my own thoughts. See his comments at Hero Goggles, in my links section!

Straczynski produced one of my favorite television series of all time in Babylon 5, but I am seriously beginning to wonder if the guy didn't cut his writing teeth on endless years worth of soap operas. He takes the serialized nature of comics far too literally, because he drags stuff out to the point of excess. At the same time, JMS makes guys like Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Stan Lee and other real Marvel Comics writers look like Faulkner or Hemingway. Any of these former/older Marvel guys, could have done what Straczynski has done in 120+ pages in a tenth of that and still treated us to some slam-bang super heroics - plus at least pointed us in the direction that we are supposed to be going. At this point, there is no reason to expect anything different from Straczynski's remaining 130+ pages.

That brings up another point, within this series it's been reiterated more than once, that these heroes are supposed to represent a better ideal of heroism [in the wake of the recent Marvel Universe Civil War ramifications] but as presented by JMS, these revived heroes from the golden age have more hang-ups, prejudices, sexual fetishes and phobias than virtually any other spandex hero in the Marvel Universe proper.
And what's up with that?

Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Well, Indiana Jones definitely returned to theaters last Thursday. My plans to take in the picture on opening night fell through, so I didn't view it until Friday night. I really enjoyed the movie.

I admit to feeling a slight degree of trepidation before the opening credits rolled, largely because of the mixed reviews that Indy 4 had been garnering, but here is what I liked:

1) The Cold War setting, with Soviets in place of Nazis, worked equally as well as the German villains often did in the earlier Indy films.
2) The casting was much better than many reviewers indicated. Blanchett, Broadbent, Winstone, Hurt AND Shia LaBeouf were terrific additions to the Indiana Jones mythos and they all turned in standout performances. Plus, it was great to finally see Karen Allen back with Harrison Ford after all these years.

3) I'm not delving into plot issues in order to avoid spoilers, but the "supernatural" elements in this movie, while certainly different from the previous three films, DID NOT detract from this movie, DID NOT render it hokey in any way, and DID NOT seem any more far-fetched than the Biblical stuff that was used by Lucas & Spielberg in the older movies.

I felt like Crystal Skull was a very worthy follow-up to the original trilogy and I certainly do hope that we get another Jones film .... sooner rather than later. Although he was in fine form here, Harrison Ford isn't getting any younger.

The critical nitpickers online who took this film to task for, let's see: Psychic-stuff related to Blanchett's Agent Spalko character, they way over-exaggerated how much of this was actually incorporated into the movie. They also made way too much out of age-related jokes that were directed at Ford within the movie. It really wasn't at a level that would have been noticed, unless you were nitpicking for instance. And the CGI-stuff. Yeah, it was there, but I don't see that it mattered that much. This kind of thing was impossible to do in the earlier Indiana Jones movies, but again, this DID NOT detract from the movie.

I go to films like this one for fun, nostalgia and escapism and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull delivered all three. In spades!

Friday, May 23, 2008

All-New, All-Different X-Men, X-tra: Sunfire

I occasionally miss the "All-New, All-Different X-Men", so from time-to-time over the next couple of weeks, I'm going to profile these seminal 1970's superstars, who radically transformed Marvel Comics for all time. My nostalgia is driven by the sad fact that we will NEVER see this grouping of characters together again within the pages of the same book for a monthly run .... and that just SUCKS!

Sunfire (Shiro Yoshida) first appeared in X-Men #64 (January 1970) by writer Roy Thomas and artist Don Heck. He is a temperamental and arrogant mutant who can generate superheated solar plasma and fly. Shiro's mother had suffered radiation poisoning due to exposure to the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. As a result of his mothers death, he grew to hate the United States and later attacked the U.S. Capitol, where he battled against the original X-Men. After this incident, Sunfire continued to have some presence within the greater Marvel Universe.

Professor Xavier ultimately recruited Sunfire to join a new team of X-Men to rescue his original team from Krakoa, the Living Island in Giant-Sized X-Men #1. Sunfire accompanied the fledgling X-Men on this mission, but then immediately resigned from the team before he ever actually received official membership. This was mainly due to his own personal arrogance and his irrational temper, but Sunfire was not really suited for teamwork. Despite being only very briefly a member of the X-Men, Shiro has maintained limited ties to the team ever since.

In my opinion, Sunfire is almost unrecognizable as the same character these days. (Above; left) several of Sunfire's pre-X-Men apps. & character illustrations for this & subsequent "X-Men X-tra's" by Bob McLeod.

"Gal" Friday! Pin-Up Homage

Courtesy of Vanity Fair:

Vanity Fair magazine is famous for extravagant and interesting photo work, and in 2006, they changed their Vanities concept page by featuring promising young actresses in what they call a '50's style pin-up photo shoot, reminiscent of the work of Alberto Vargas.
(Clockwise; left-to-right) Isla Fisher, Wedding Crashers. Hayden Panettiere, Heroes. Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Grindhouse & Sky High. Rachael Taylor, Transformers.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

From the Dust Bin: Mekano

It's no secret that I have a fondness for the old Better/Standard/Nedor heroes published by Ned Pines during the golden age of comics. Here is a rather obscure character who made a single appearance in Wonder Comics #1 (May 1944).

Mekano was a giant robot invented and controlled by young scientist Bill Foster [not to be confused with Marvels African-American Bill Foster/Black Goliath from the 1970's]. Foster used Mekano to fight against crime and the Nazi's; or at least he would have had they continued after their lone adventure.

The two-page spread (above) was sent to me a couple of years ago by my pal Copper, and is the only part of the origin story that I've ever seen of Nedor's resident robot. Enjoy!

1970's Flashback: Devil Dinosaur

Written and illustrated by Jack "King" Kirby, Devil Dinosaur #1 (Apr. 1978) ran for nine issues. Devil Dinosaur and his proto-human/ape-like friend, Moon-Boy, are natives of "Dinosaur World".

The young Devil Dinosaur was nearly burned to death by a tribe of Killer-Folk, hostile beings native to his planet, but he was rescued by Moon-Boy, a young member of a rival tribe, the Small-Folk. Exposure to the Killer-Folk's fire activated a mutation in the dinosaur which gave him powers greater than others of his species and turned his skin from olive green to flame red. Devil Dinosaur is fiercely loyal to his constant companion Moon-Boy and seems more intelligent than the average dinosaur (as they are portrayed in the comic). Devil Dinosaur also encounters extraterrestrials, and is briefly transported to Earth via magic before returning to his home world. Devil encountered Godzilla, when S.H.I.E.L.D. shrunk Godzilla using Pym Particles and attempted to teleport him via a time machine into the prehistoric past. However, Godzilla's radiation distorted the time machine so that he was transported to Dinosaur World instead. While there, he briefly united with Moon-Boy and Devil against a common foe before being pulled back to the future, and Devil also battled against the Incredible Hulk when he was hurled into the past by a group of Celestials.

Devil Dinosaur despite often being a source of ridicule in some corners of the comics community, does pop up from time to time, and he could even make a surprise appearance in the current "Secret Invasion" crossover, having previously fought a renegade Skrull who fled to Devil's planet and used his shape shifting abilities to impersonate the late leader of the Killer-Folk, Seven Scars.

Stranger things have happened!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

1970's Flashback: Weird War Tales

DC Comics Weird War Tales was an unconventional war-themed title with supernatural overtones which ran for 12 years beginning in 1971 and lasted for 124 issues.

The anthology series bounced from one genre to another; science fiction, mystery, horror and suspense. The series was hosted by the embodiment of Death, though he tended to dress up in a different military-style uniform each issue. In the latter issues of Weird War, several recurring characters were featured: Creature Commandos, G.I. Robot and a revival of "The War That Time Forgot" premise from Star Spangled War Stories.

A bit kitschy, and unusual, but it was great place for stories of robot soldiers, ghosts, the undead, and other paranormal characters from different eras of time .... and they really don't make 'em like this anymore.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

That Man With the Whip Is Back

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is due in theaters at the end of the week, so for all of you who are anxiously awaiting the return of Harrison Ford in his signature role, here are three photos to whet your appetite.
(Left) Ford in transition on set, and smoking a fine stogie. (Above; left) Shia LaBeauf is introduced as Mutt Williams. (Above; right) Cate Blanchett is the beautiful & deadly villainous Soviet Agent Spalko.
Despite a few early mixed reviews for the film, the sources that I trust have assured me that a fine Indy 4 viewing experience awaits. Enjoy!

Friday, May 16, 2008

1970's Flashback: Morbius the Living Vampire

Morbius the Living Vampire first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #101 (October 1971), as an effort by Stan Lee to get around the longtime ban by the Comics Code Authority on using vampires. Writer Roy Thomas and artist Gil Kane created Morbius, as a living man who is given vampiric abilities via scientific means, and not the supernatural ones that were prohibited by the Code. Kane was further instructed to avoid Gothic fashion elements and design a costume for Morbius that was akin to what any other Marvel super-villain would wear, and he specifically chose the red and blue primary colors which were the staple hues from Spider-Man to Superman. In part because of the success of Morbius, the Comic Code was liberalized on the subject of vampires and other horror characters several months later, allowing Marvel and other publishers to use actual vampires such as Dracula.

Morbius also became the main feature of Marvel's bi-monthly Adventure into Fear anthology series from issues #20-31 (1972-1975). Michael Morbius was a Nobel Prize-winning biochemist, who had attempted to cure himself of a rare blood disease with an experimental treatment involving vampire bats and electroshock therapy. However, he instead became afflicted with a far worse condition that mimicked the powers and blood thirst of legendary vampirism. Morbius now had to digest blood in order to survive and had a strong aversion to light. He gained the ability to fly, as well as superhuman strength and healing abilities. His appearance became hideous—his canine teeth extended into fangs, his nose flattened to appear more like a bat's, and his skin became chalk-white. He also gained the ability to turn others into similar "living vampires" by biting them. Though he managed at one point to cure himself of his pseudo-vampirism(while retaining a thirst for blood), he eventually reverted back to his altered form.
Guys, head over to the links section and hop on over to The Horror Of It All and also to Pappy's Golden Age Comics for two other timeless vampire tales from the days of yore. You'll be glad that you did.

"Gal" Friday(s)! That Old Black Magic ....

Since I've mentioned that I had been feeling a little under the weather lately, and with the sad news of comic book legend Will Elder's passing, I though that it might reassure some of you folks that I am rebounding from my recent bout of spring flu.

As you can see, even here in the Catacombs, a couple of hotties can really help a guy rally from behind. When word went out that I had been feeling a bit stiff, these cute comics fans quickly prostrated themselves in a valiant effort to revive me. To my credit, I advised the young ladies that while I was feeling somewhat shaky, that all I really needed to do was to get something straight between us, before they administered their own unique form of healing prowess.

Well let me tell you, once they got their tender hands on me, I soon felt much more inflated than I had previously. I definitely rose to the occasion!

In Memorium: Will Elder

Courtesy of Newsarama:

Will Elder, the successful cartoonist and commercial illustrator whose work helped launch MAD Magazine, died Thursday morning, May 15th, 2008 at the age of 86.
Born Wolf William Eisenberg in the Bronx, New York, Elder changed his name after returning from World War II. During his time of service, Elder was part of the map-making team that was instrumental in the invasion of Normandy.

When Harvey Kurtzman launched MAD Magazine in 1952, he hired Elder along with Wally Wood, Jim Severin, and Jack Davis to produce content for the first issues.

“Willie Elder was one of the funniest artists to ever work for MAD. He created visual feasts with dozens of background gags layered into every MAD story he illustrated,” says John Ficarra, Editor of MAD Magazine, “He called these gags “chicken fat.” Willie’s “anything goes” art style set the tone for the entire magazine and created a look that endures to this day.”

“Willie’s passing saddens all of us here at MAD,” says Sam Viviano, MAD Magazine Art Director, “Everyone who has attempted to draw a funny picture over the course of the last fifty or sixty years owes an enormous debt to Willie, who taught us all how to do it — and no one has ever done it better than he did.”

In addition to his work on MAD, Elder also co-created Little Annie Fanny.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

From the Dust Bin: Marvel Team-Up #36 & #37

Yep! Following up on yesterdays Man-Wolf Flashback, it seems that John Jameson's furry alter ego may have met up with Marvel's spiffy 1970's version of Frankenstein's Monster, when both horror icons faced off against the Amazing Spider-Man in his groovy spin-off book, Marvel Team-Up.
In Marvel Team-Up issues #36 & #37 (Aug. & Sept. 1975), what appears to be a two-parter, unfolds with Spidey and Frankie up against the dreaded Monster-Maker, who also encountered the mysterious Man-Wolf, when he joined into the fray during the following issue. I've included a couple of panels which reveal the nefarious villains ultimate goal of syphoning off powers from all three of the "heroes" in order to create his own monster army to avenge his perceived mistreatment at the hands of a cruel world. Darn it! I hate it when that happens too.

I had plenty of Team-Up issues, back in the day, but I never had either of these issues. I do think that I may have to add them to my current want list, which is growing exponentially as the convention season gets underway. Damn, I may need to take on a part-time job in order to afford these gems.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A pre-emptive non-review of Guardians of the Galaxy #1

The Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (vol.1, Jan. 1969) and then made numerous guest appearances throughout the Marvel Universe before enjoying a ten issue run of their own in Marvel Presents.

20th century astronaut, Major Vance Astro spends a thousand years travelling to Alpha Centauri in
suspended animation, arriving in the 31st century only to discover that mankind has colonized the stars during his long sleep and that the Earth’s solar system has been conquered by the alien race known as the Badoon. Vance joins up with three other displaced persons: Martinex T’Naga, a crystalline being from Pluto, Captain Charlie-27, a dense-gravity soldier from Jupiter and Yondu Udonta, a noble, blue-skinned savage from Beta Centauri IV.

They are bound by the fact that each is apparently the last of their kind due to the Badoon invasion, later during the course of the war against the Badoon, two other members are recruited – Starhawk and Nikki. The Guardians fight alongside Captain America, the Thing, the Defenders, Thor and the Avengers through a series of time-traveling adventures.

Now some dim-bulb currently at the top of the Marvel food chain has tossed together (sorta like a weird space salad) an eclectic grouping of cosmic-spawned characters in the wake of the company’s Annihilation: Conquest event. Sadly, somebody there also gets paid way too much money to approve crap like this, so we are getting: Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer, Gamora, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Star-Lord and a new female Quasar as – you guessed it – “The Guardians of the Galaxy”. None of whom would be recognizable to long-time readers (except Rocket; it's pretty hard to mess up a raccoon). Detailing the visual changes that have gone on with the other characters would prove exhausting.

Yes. It does sound like a bogus reunion of the old Infinity Watch, with a few extras. Yes. Marvel has fallen very far from the tree yet again. No. This doesn’t make Jim Valentino’s god-awful 1990’s Guardians series look any better. Yes. Bullshit like this really is bad for you.

1970's Flashback: Man-Wolf

John Jameson is the son of J. Jonah Jameson, the irascible, gruff publisher of the Daily Bugle. Initially an astronaut, he was first seen (Amazing Spider-Man #1; Mar. 1963) being saved by Spider-Man when his craft malfunctioned on re-entry, something that did nothing to endear the wall-crawler to his father.

On a later mission, Jameson was infected with spores that gave him super-strength, but strained his body and mind. He was forced to wear a strength-restraining "Jupiter suit" and battled Spider-Man at his father's urging before recovering. While he was on the moon, Jameson found the mystical Godstone, an other-dimensional ruby which he wore as a pendant. The jewel soon grafted itself to his throat and extended tendrils through his body. Moonlight activated the gem, which transformed him into the lycanthropic Man-Wolf, and he fought Spider-Man in this bestial form. The ruby was removed by Spider-Man.

Some time after that, the ruby was reattached to John by Morbius, the Living Vampire who used Man-Wolf as a pawn so Morbius could find a cure for himself. Man-Wolf was again thwarted by Spider-Man.

Later, he was transported to the dimension known as Other Realm, from which the ruby originated and the source of the radiation that transforms John into the Man-Wolf. It was revealed that the ruby was created by the dying Stargod to pass on his powers. While on Earth Jameson could only partially transform, resulting in his berserk behavior. While in the Other Realm he could fully transform, resulting in retention of his human consciousness while in lupine form. He took up the mantle of Stargod, and acted as champion of the Other Realm, and gained new powers such as telepathy and energy manipulation. He fought his foes with a sword, dagger and longbow in this incarnation. Afterward, he opted to return to Earth, resulting in him losing the ability to fully transform, and the loss of all memories of being the Stargod. He later allowed himself to be subjected to a procedure that removed the ruby, restoring normalcy for some time.

Man-Wolf has Super strength, agility, speed and has large sharp claws resembling an arctic wolf. When in the Other Realm as Stargod, he can speak telepathically, manipulate energies and uses a broadsword, dagger and bow & arrow. Jameson first appeared as Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man # 124 (Sept. 1973).

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Want List

I am hoping for a little luck in my back issue box search during the summer convention season.

Dragoncon in Atlanta, GA has become less and less comics oriented over the past decade (so I've blown it off), but the Heroes Convention in Charlotte, NC, is still a terrific "all-comics" show which I never miss. Other than a few single day weekend comics shows in my region, which can be somewhat disappointing or an unexpected treasure trove, that's about the size of my expected search area. I never purchased any of the first issues that are shown here: Ghost Rider #1, The Champions #1, The Micronauts #1 or The Savage She-Hulk #1. I had other early issues of the first three titles, but never bought any issues of the She-Hulk's first series, so I've added these to my current "want list".

I do hope for the best available condition that I can afford, but I have no intention of enriching some eager comics peddler beyond the point of fiscal prudence. In short, I'm looking for a bargain!

And no turtle shells, please. If you want to slab your stuff, bully for you, but I loathe the whole concept of the Comics Guarantee Corporation. A fool and his money, as far as I'm concerned!

And eBay has also become problematical, I've burned out on it - I guess. I'll let you know how successful I am at tracking down these bronze age gems as the convention season unfolds.

Friday, May 9, 2008

A Non-Review of Avengers/Invaders #1

Yes. That's right. Non-review. I'm not gonna buy the book or read it.

Because I picked it up and flipped through it yesterday at the local comic shop. Nothing about the book grabbed me the least little bit, and since I'm probably among the target audience, I just assume that something should grab me enough to commit to the series.

By target audience, I only mean that I was a young fan of the original Invaders series in the 1970's, and I do still linger around the fringe of the hobby. Alex Ross covers & plotting, Jim Krueger scripting, Steve Sadowski art, I like these guys, so what was it about Avengers/Invaders that didn't appeal to me.

Largely it was the huge letdown that I experienced with Sadowski's interior art. I don't know what went wrong with his usual nice work, but be it dreaded deadline doom or simple carelessness, the issue looked rushed, crummy even, and way too dark in the blacks. I went back and checked an earlier online preview of some of these very same pages and there was a big difference in translation to the actual printed page. So that's it, folks! I'm out.

If you wanna give this series a try, you have my blessings, but Marvel has saved me some money, 'cause I am giving Avengers/Invaders a wide pass.

Maybe someday the Liberty Legion will fare better.

"Gal" Friday(s) just keep on "Dancing"

"Dancing With The Stars" is a guilty pleasure of mine!

Not so much for the has-been performers who appear there to shake a leg, or the plethora of sports figures (whose fan base keeps them alive from one week to the next, talented dancer or not).

No for me it's the delicious assortment of fetching female dancers who sadly get paired up all too often with real schmuck male stars who can barely walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, let alone swirl across the ballroom floor.

So here is a a big heads up to four of my faves: Karina Smirnoff (who really got cheated out of a well-earned win with partner Mario Lopez a couple of years ago). Emmett Smith of the NFL (who along with his partner, Cheryl Burke) beat them out, is one of those sports guys whose fans overly supported him beyond his actual dancing abilities. Cheryl winning back-to-back trophies was the only positive note on that sorry occasion.

Edyta Silwinska and another back-to-back trophy winner, Julianne Hough, round out my favorite dancing queens from the ABC series.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

71 years ago: The Hindenburg

On this date in 1937, during its second year of service, the German zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg went up in flames and was destroyed while landing at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in Manchester Township, New Jersey, U.S., on 6 May 1937. Thirty-six people died in the accident, which was widely reported by film, photography and radio media.

The disaster is well recorded because of the extraordinary extent of newsreel coverage and photographs, as well as Herbert Morrison's recorded, on-the-scene, eyewitness radio report from the landing field. Heavy publicity about the first transatlantic passenger flight of the year by Zeppelin to the U.S. attracted a large number of journalists to the landing. (The airship had already made one round trip from Germany to Brazil that year.) Morrison's recording was not broadcast until the next day. Parts of his report were later dubbed onto the newsreel footage, giving the impression to many modern viewers, more accustomed to live television reporting, that the words and film were recorded together intentionally. Morrison's broadcast remains one of the most famous in history. His plaintive words, "Oh, the humanity!" resonate with the impact of the disaster, and have been widely used in culture. Part of its poignancy is due to its being recorded at a slightly slower speed to the disk, so when played back at normal speed seeming to be at a faster delivery and higher pitch; when corrected, his account is less frantic sounding, though still impassioned.

Spectacular movie footage and Morrison's passionate recording of the Hindenburg fire shattered public and industry faith in airships and marked the end of the giant passenger-carrying dirigibles. Also contributing to the Zeppelins' downfall was the arrival of international passenger aeroplane travel and Pan American Airlines. Aircraft regularly crossed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans much faster than the 130 km/h (80 mph) of the Hindenburg. The one advantage that the Hindenburg had over aircraft was the comfort it afforded its passengers, much like that of an ocean liner.

Many theories exist for what caused the disaster, ranging from sabotage, static sparks, lightning, incendiary paint, structural failure and the hydrogen fuel that it used. Regardless of the reason, the Hindenburg disaster has entered the popular lexicon of the 20th century and remains a seminal historic event.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Movie Review: Iron Man

There is no need for spoiler warnings as I'm not going into anything specific in regards to director Jon Favreau's adaptation of Marvel Comics Iron Man.

Before I proceed, I will say that Favreau superbly updates Shellhead's Cold War/Vietnam era/Chinese Communist origin and places it into the current "War on Terror" setting of Afghanistan. It translates extraordinarily well! Favreau has also found a very cool way of incorporating long time supporting character, Jarvis, who went from being solely Tony Stark's personal butler to shepherding the entire mighty Avengers for many decades in the comics. There are also nice nods to other "fanboy" elements from said comics.

Now, let me warn you about one thing ..... those of you who have strong nostalgic allegiances to other superhero movies should head into Iron Man forearmed. This film puts virtually every previous comic book superhero film to shame. It sets the bar very, very high for future superhero film adaptations.

Yes. It's that good, and it primarily is for one fairly simple reason - Marvel Entertainment and Jon Favreau WANTED to make an IRON MAN movie - and then went out and did just that. Spectacularly!

Everything that you would expect to see as a fan, and want to be included in the film, is there. The performances are spot on. Robert Downey, Jr is a fine actor, but he really breathes life into the role of playboy/millionaire/genius Tony Stark and then he just kicks ass as Iron Man. Gwyneth Paltrow is not simply eye candy here, she inhabits her role splendidly, as does Terence Howard and the awe-inspiring Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane.

I would be shocked if this movie is not one of the very top box office earners of the year, even with Indiana Jones, The Dark Knight, The Incredible Hulk and well, really anything else that's due to hit theaters for the remainder of the year.

Like Stan Lee always says, "Nuff Said!" Get in line now and enjoy an incredi - - - NO - - - an "Invincible" movie experience. You'll leave the theater saying, 'Wow' they've finally made a superhero movie worthy of the name.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Reminder - Free Comics available tomorrow ....

These and many other fine comics publications will be waiting for you [FREE] tomorrow at your local comic book shop for "Free Comic Book Day".

Fun reading, festive atmosphere, nerds with their comics groove on, ah, the joys of springtime in America.

See you out and about on Saturday folks! And remember to say 'thank you'.

"Gal" Friday! Fan Girls-a-go-go ....

Summer convention season is currently heating up so expect to see some interesting costumes paraded around the show floors at many of these comic book shindigs. Nubile young lasses and buff he-men will conspire to win you over with their largely, self-created costumed interpretations of diverse four color legends.

Being a lech, of course my faves are the chicks who opt to flash a little skin when acting out the roles of their fantasy femmes.
(Above) are a few examples of what you might see strutting around eliciting cold sweats from young fanboys and older degenerates alike. A web interpretation of what a "Hooter's" restaurant gal would look like in a typical pulp-inspired t-shirt, two unidentified hotties as Wonder Girl and Supergirl, and a couple of glimpses at famed costume queen Ruby Rocket done up as Phoenix of the X-Men.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Reviewing the review of DC Universe #0

Matt Brady's Newsarama site is a wonderful resource for comics-related news and information, and he enthusiastically loves his work (and the hobby). I truly tip my hat to him.

But Matt's description of this weeks DC Universe #0 as "a brilliant trailer, a sharply conceived bit of pop candy that’s designed to stoke the fires of fandom" left me all alone out here - - - I guess. After back-to-back year long weekly series from DC, and dozens of spin-off series that tied into the whole "52"/ "Countdown" mess, AND with even more to come; I am beyond burned out on all things DCU at the moment.

You see, Matt goes on to say that DCU #0 is "essentially a collection of glimpses at the various and sundry stories that piggy-back off of Final Crisis" and that it's "absolutely ground-level stuff. It’s a bull-by-the-horns admission that while decades of continuity can be confusing, here’s what you need to get right into the story. And it works."


Confusing glimpses do not a story make .... even at 50 cents. Yeah, it's a great deal all right, and I bought it, but Free Comic Book Day is coming up in three days, folks. For no more than DC Universe #0 was, I can't help but wonder why DC just didn't make this their FCBD offering. A glorified trailer for more ring-around-the-rosy-pablum-to-come would seemingly have fit the bill for that fan-oriented event.

I'm honestly trying not to be a nitpicker here, but I have grown tired of the marketing machine of the the "Big Two" (DC & Marvel) endlessly spinning out such fare for the willing gerbils who simply don't mind spinning pointlessly around in a cage.

As for the media spoiled reveal at the end of the thing, well all I can say is welcome back Barry. I hope that you can stick around this time.