Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
This is the first installment in a new feature where I spotlight changes made to comic book characters that are based on outside media. I’m sure you can think of other examples, so feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to suggest some other examples for future installments.
We begin with the surprisingly late introduction of John Stewart’s marine background into Green Lantern comics.
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This is the latest in a feature where I just share some bit of comic book history that interests me.
With David Letterman retiring a few days ago, there were a lot of features written about Avengers #239, the issue where the Avengers go on Late Night with David Letterman (I wrote about that issue a few years ago). That issue was part of a famous Marvel Comics “event” of late 1983, where the conceit is that all of the issues that month were edited by the assistant editors since all of the editors were away at the San Diego Comic Convention. With their bosses away, the assistants then allowed either funny or out of the ordinary stories to be printed that month (I am not even sure if the assistants actually DID edit the comics, but I suspect that they did). Here we will detail what each Marvel Comic title did that month. Note that there were two types of Assistant Editor’s Month comics that month (cover date of January 1984), comics with the logo for the event (those books tended to be goofier) and comics without the logo (where the assistant editor aspect of the comic was downplayed, often just having one silly page in the issue, or sometimes not even that!).
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In this feature, I examine comic book fights that were particularly notable in the wrong side winning (or at least that the fight wasn’t won the “right” way). This really isn’t a big deal, of course, as it doesn’t really matter if the “wrong” person won a fight. But it’s fun to talk about!
If you want to suggest a fight for future inclusion in this feature, drop me a line at email@example.com. Don’t suggest a fight in the comments!
For this installment, we’re doing something a bit different, as the Abomination got into two back-to-back “wrong” fights with solo members of the West Coast Avengers, Wonder Man and Hawkeye, so I’m featuring them both here.
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Longtime Line it is Drawn artist Bill Walko is doing a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to do a print collection of his excellent webcomic, The Hero Business. I figured I’d have a talk with Bill about the project and the comic.
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First I put up my Jem and the Holograms #2 review up a week early and now I put up this Jem and the Holograms #3 review up a couple of days after the book hit the shelves – I gotta sync up better with #4! – BC One of the most impressive aspects of the Jem series is that Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell are balancing a TON of characters in the story, with a good chunk of them having direct involvement in the over-arching narrative of the series, but without sacrificing much in the way of development of the characters. Not only do we have the good band, the Holograms, the bad band, the Misfits and Rio, the music journalist who is the love interest of Jerrica (the lead singer of the Holograms who is also secretly, through the use of some high-tech holographic technology, also Jem, the PUBLIC lead singer of the Holograms) but now, in this issue, we have two new characters who end up playing a key role in the issue, Clash and Blaze, two groupies for the Misfits. Clash is a fascinating character – she is clearly an extremely capable person, but she is so wrapped up in her low self-esteem and her idolization of the Misfits jerky lead singer, Pizzazz (where she sees all of her self worth), that she ends up putting her skills to use doing cruel stunts to impress someone who clearly doesn’t care about her. You can tell that her heart isn’t really into her actions, except, of course, to the extent that she can impress her hero. Her partner-in-crime, Blaze, only appears at the end to set up the cliffhanger for next issue.
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By the time you read this, we’ll be on the road again. With Julie now established in her new job and our work schedules actually aligned for the first time in about five years, the holiday weekend– all three glorious days of it!– is ours to enjoy as we wis h. As it happens, since I have a printshop delivery that comes with a free hotel stay at the Tokeland, we are taking advantage of our three-day weekend to go to the coast.
But that tale will have to wait. This week I have something else. Continue Reading »
In this feature we examine comic book stories and ideas that were not only abandoned, but also had the stories/plots specifically “overturned” by a later writer (as if they were a legal precedent). Click here for an archive of all the previous editions of The Abandoned An’ Forsaked. Feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any suggestions for future editions of this feature.
Today, based on a suggestion by Tiago Q, we take a look at the retconning of Blade’s powers over the years…
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Welcome to the five hundred and twenty-fourth in a series of examinations of comic book legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the first five hundred (I actually haven’t been able to update it in a while). This week, what comic book writer is responsible for Spider-Man having mechanical web shooters in the most recent Spider-Man films? Did Man of Steel #1 originally have a damaged space shuttle in it soon after the Challenger explosion? Finally, how did Spider-Man REALLY stop the unstoppable Juggernaut?
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There’s been so much chatter and criticism thrown in the way of A-Force prior to its release that I was curious about what I’d find when picking up the first issue. The detractors didn’t bother me (I’m not going to delve into the Jill Lepore thing, because even before I read the comic, it was clear her article is woefully misinformed), and all of the internet noise didn’t shake the very likely probability I would enjoy the book. If I had any concerns at all, it was over the weird-sounding title, so if that was my worst fear, then I had no real fears at all and every expectation I’d fall in love by the end of issue #1.
So, what’s the problem?
It hit me fairly immediately that it’s just not enough story for one issue. I dislike feeling as though I’ve absolutely flown through a comic, especially one I’d been looking forward to for so long and is well-executed. Let me assure you, I am not a fast reader when it comes to comics—I am deliberate in taking my time, making sure I absorb the artwork and enjoy the experience of words plus illustration. Yet I read this book in under a minute.
It’s a four dollar title.
I hate using the word “decompressed,” and really that’s not even fair because this has only been one issue and I have no idea how meaty the remaining parts of the narrative will be, yet … that.
Because again: four dollar book.
I’m going to compare this to another $3.99 book I read immediately following A-Force, which was Silk. I went into Silk with minor expectations—in fact, I wasn’t planning on buying the title at all. What got me to pick it up was my realization that Black Cat is in the first story arc, and I love my Black Cat (even despite her current inexplicable mischaracterization and depressing, far-fetched, unbelievable, utterly contrived turn to villainy). So I bought the first three issues, and wow, we need to talk about this. We need to talk about how funny, adorable, and entertaining this title is, because I’m getting something completely outside of what I signed up for. I came on board for Black Cat, but I’m LOVING Cindy Moon. That’s a little difficult for me to admit, because reading her in her first few issues of Amazing Spider-Man was a turn-off—she didn’t grab me, and I’m just immediately skeptical about introducing yet another love interest for Spider-Man. I was so prepared to hate her, but damn. Under the hands of Robbie Thompson and Stacey Lee—neither of whom I was familiar with prior to this (apparently I’ve been living under a rock, but they’ve swiftly won my heart)—Cindy is smart, witty, likeable, and FUN. What’s more, there’s a good chunk of story in each of her three issues. Her book is fulfilling. It satiated me when I read it, and I was acutely aware of the contrast in how I felt after reading this comic compared to A-Force. And when I noticed they were both priced the same, I felt a little cheated.
Is it reasonable or fair to expect the same quality of content from every book? I could safely argue both yes and no. But all of this had me wondering: are there any books still priced at $2.99? It struck me that I actually haven’t been paying attention, so I did a quick bit of research. Saga, Hawkeye, Lazarus, Ms. Marvel—these are a small sample of some quality, story-packed books you can still buy for three dollars. And when you look at a case as dense as Lazarus—that’s significant substance you’re getting for a short price.
Obviously, I am only scratching the surface of what is a much larger issue here. There are many factors that go into the price point of a book, of which we could dissect the ins and outs for a while. But I thought it worth noting just how different two books of the same cost can hit you as a reader as it relates to the larger issue of a comic books’ worth—the kind of worth that can’t be measured. The kind that rests in our hearts as readers.
A-Force. I still dislike that name, but with more issues on the way, hopefully I won’t dislike the title.
Welcome to our weekly gallery of amazing art by our great collection of artistic talent, all working from YOUR suggestions!
Go follow Comics Should Be Good on Twitter (if you have Twitter, that is – if you don’t, you can go sign up). Here is our Twitter page… http://twitter.com/csbg. And here are the Comics Should Be Good writers who are on Twitter (the links go to the person’s Twitter account) – myself, Greg Hatcher, Chad Nevett, Kelly Thompson, Bill Reed, Greg Burgas and Sonia Harris
I update the blog’s Twitter account updates whenever a new post is put up on the blog, so it’s an easy way to keep up with the blog. In addition, I post new content on the blog’s Twitter account.
Now on to the bit!
So every week, I ask a question here. You reply to it on our Twitter page (just write @csbg with your reply) and our artists will each pick one of your suggestions and I will post their drawings based on your suggestions here every week. So every week you will have a new question and you will see the choices picked from the previous week. Here is an archive of all the previous editions of The Line It Is Drawn!
To qualify, you have to be following us when you reply – so go follow us and then give your answer to the following question/challenge (All suggestions due by 3pm Pacific Friday).
The topic is…
Based on a suggestion by Brendan Tobin, we’re going back to the Golden Age! Pick a modern superhero and our artists will depict said character as if they were a Golden Age comic book character.
Read on for the drawings that came about courtesy of the last question/challenge!
Based on a suggestion by Merk, mash-up a famous rock star with a comic book superhero. Mick Jagger and the Hulk, for instance.
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A few of the artists for last week’s The Line it is Drawn put together high resolution black and white versions of their pieces for coloring purposes for our suggestion-giver last week, 4-year-old Amelia. A number of folks have mentioned in the comments and in e-mails that they’d like to have access to those pages, as well, so I figured I’d give the people what they want, so here they are, including a NEVER-BEFORE-SEEN piece from Nick Perks!
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Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #122-130 (Marvel) by Peter David (#122-123, 128-129), Roger McKenzie (#124), Danny Fingeroth (#125-126), Len Kaminski (#127), Bob Layton (#130), Rich Buckler (#122), Malcolm Davis (#122), Dwayne Turner (#123), Greg Larocque (#124), Jim Mooney (#125), Alan Kupperberg (#126-129), Jim Fern (#130), Mike Esposito (#122), Bob McLeod (#122), Art Nichols (#122-126), Vince Colletta (#125, 130), Nel Yomtov (#122-123, 127), Bob Sharen (#124-125, 128, 130), George Roussos (#126), Julianna Ferriter (#129), Rick Parker, Jim Salicrup
I went back and forth a few times while reading these issues, debating with myself about whether or not it would be better to look at this entire run (meaning every issue of this title from 1987 before the “Kraven’s Last Hunt” crossover*) or if I should simply choose a single issue/storyline and zero in on that. Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man (henceforth referred to as PPSSM) is effectively a collection of Spider-Man short stories, with most of the issues being self-contained one-shots. There is a throughline that connects several of them, but it comes and goes from month to month fairly arbitrarily, separated from itself by stories that have absolutely nothing to do with it and don’t even all take place at the same time. That lack of connective tissue is a big part of why this series leaves me feeling fairly cold, so ultimately I decided it made more sense to look at these nine issues as a whole, because when viewed together they leave a slightly different impression than taken individually. Continue Reading »
The cover theme game works like this: I’ll show you three covers. They all have something in common, whether it be a character, a trait all three characters share, a connection between all three characters, a locale, a trait all three creators share, SOMEthing. And it isn’t something obvious like “They all have prices!” “They all have logos!” “They all feature a man!” “They are all Avengers (who ISN’T?)!” “They’re all dead (who HASN’T been killed off?)!” “They’ve all been cloned (who HASN’T been cloned?)!” “They’re all mutants!” (who ISN’T a mutant?) “They’re all orphans!” (who ISN’T an orphan?) “They’re all legacy heroes” (who ISN’T a legacy hero nowadays?)! “They’re all by the same artist!” (too obvious) etc.
In addition, please note that you must have some familiarity with comic book history to correctly guess these themes. You cannot guess the connective theme just by looking at the covers solely, you must have some knowledge beyond the covers. The connections will ONLY have to do with connections in the actual comic books (so no incidental connections like “they share the same last names of Vice Presidents,” etc. Now, if the three characters were each named Gerald Ford, that’d be another story, as that’d no longer be incidental).
If you come up with an answer that works outside of what I intended, I’ll give you credit (well, provided I think it fits, of course).
One more thing – if there are floating heads on the cover, ignore them! They don’t mean anything! Same thing with corner boxes!
If you think you know the answer, e-mail me at email@example.com. Don’t answer in the comments. This way, people who check in at different times of the day can still get credit for answering it correctly!
Here is an archive of all the past cover theme games, plus their answers. Before each new installment, I’ll post the answers to the previous week’s game.
Good luck and enjoy! Continue Reading »
Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Here is a link to an archive of all the past questions that have been answered so far.
Reader Marijane G. wrote in to ask:
Hi, I’m hoping you can tell me why Franklin Nelson is called Foggy. Thanks!
I can, indeed, Marijane! Read on for the answer!
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It occurs to me that it seems like many comic book covers are homages. Which is fine with me. I have no problem with it. It just made me think, though, how long could I go before I hit a week where NO new comic book was released that had a cover that was an homage to something? Let’s find out! Here is an archive of all the cover homages featured in the streak so far!
Comics Should Be Good accepts review copies. Anything sent to us will (for better or for worse) end up reviewed on the blog. See where to send the review copies.