Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #1

Black Terror

This one caught my eye as a child in the pages of the Overstreet Guide and initial feeling of 'Wow' has never worn off. The perfect example of a costume being far greater than the character.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #2

Batman (Norm Breyfogle version)

I have to include my favourite character. I grew up a child of the Adams/Aparo/Novick era and love the blue & grey, sleek Batman. In many ways, my Batman is the Jim Aparo version. That said, when I first started reading the Breyfogle drawn issues in high school, I fell in love with how he gave the cape a personality of its own.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #3

Union Jack

With apologies to Captain America, The Shield, Captain Canuck and any other hero who tried to incorporate a flag into their costumes, the Union Jack costume is by far the coolest (IMHO). This design jumped out at my as a kid and got me to hand over my dimes and nickels for Invaders comics. It simple, yet perfect.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #4

Spider-Man (Silver and Bronze Age versions)

I'm not going to get into a Ditko vs. Romita debate here but all I can say is that a little bit of my inner child died when the black costume was introduced.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #5

Mon-El (Classic version)

There are a lot of good hero designs within the LOSH, but Mon-El's has always stood out. I really like its overall regal vibe.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #6

Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond - Defenders version)

Of all of the bird-based costumes, Nighthawk's is my favourite. I have always like the wing design and the colour scheme is timeless.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #7

The Avenger (Magazine Enterprises)

Man, do I ever love Bob Powell! This is a great design from the 50s and it bridges the gap between pulpy heroes of the 40s (check out that holster!) and the sleek heroes of the 60s like Daredevil (Alter Hero did a nice homage to this cover with DD) and The Atom. All in all, it really works for me.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #8

Supergirl (Bronze Age)

I don't think I'll have many female costumes on my list, but I just couldn't bump this one. Considering how many different costume ideas were sent into the editors from fans (was that 1969?), I am very, very happy they landed on this one. It's colourful, cute and quite unique. For me, Supergirl died the minute they put a headband on her.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #9

The Fly

This Simon/Kirby creation is the perfect combination of Pulp and Sci-Fi. I dig the colour scheme, the firearm, the goggles and the realistic wings.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #10

Havok (original design)

I first encountered Havok in a Hulk Treasury and just loved his look. I'm not sure if it was great for getting through doorways but it certainly helped Mr. Summers make a grand entrance.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #11


Another, classic and simple choice from me (you'll likely notice that's a theme). The costume suits the character and the character suits the costume. Still looking good all these decades later.

Favourite Super-Hero Designs #12

Blonde Phantom

Simple, Sexy and Pulpy. I am not the kind of guy who really goes for GGA but I think Syd Shores' Blonde Phantom design is beyond cool.

Top 12 Favourite Super-Hero Designs

Every year, the Classic Comics group at Comic Book Resources does a top 12 of a specified category. The most recent theme was Super-Hero Designs. I thought I would post my choices here for posterity.

Here's the criteria I used:

1. I gave it all about 5 minutes' thought
2. The design had to be one that immediately caught my attention
3. The design had to be unique, or at least not too derivative
4. In many cases, the design would be more important or even better than the actual character

Top 12 list to follow.

Single Issue Hall of Fame: Star Wars #28

Although I'd love to say that the Star Wars series published by Marvel was indeed Marvelous, it ran pretty hot and cold. I still don't think that Infantino was a good fit, but I have pretty much made piece with his work on the series. This is one of the issues with the great Gene Day working over Infantino breakdowns, and that works quite well. Why do I think this particular issue is such a great one. Well, the title of the story is "Whatever Happened to Jabba the Hut?". Remember those days before Return of the Jedi, when the only version of Jabba that we knew that that whiskered green fellow we met in the Chaykin-drawn adaptation? Well, he returns here and I think I am more of a fan of a mobile Jabba. This is a very small scale story, with Han and Chewie trapped in cave by Jabba's gang. Some terrifying insects pose both a thread and a chance to escape. There is some terrific character building as the camaraderie between our two heroes is evident. The intensity of the climax, and the nastiness of the bugs, is more than you expect from comics of the era. Thrown in some humour and a comeuppance for Mr. Hut (note the single 't' at the time) and you'd got a nice little gem.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Charlton Notebook: Ghostly Haunts #42

Here's a rather strong entry in the field of mid-70s Charlton horror books. The lead story is rather unique, as it features a crossover between Winnie the Witch and the Coffins from Midnight Tales. While Professor Coffin and his niece Arachne have never been favourites of mine (their stories are a bit too silly), it is not every day you sees member of the Charlton Universe interact. The middle story is very strong, with a terrific Twilight Zone ending demonstrating that crime does not pay. It was drawn by Sururi Gumen, an artist better known for his work for Cracked magazine. The finale is a Nicola Cuti/Don Newton collaboration.This one is solid, but nothing spectacular. Newton's artwork is wonderfully moody, but the story is a bit dull. Overall, an above average offering from the fine folks in Derby.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Reprint This! The Fly

The Impact line of comics was introduced the summer after I graduate from high school. I read a small handful of them at the time, but for some reason assumed they were targeted at a younger crowd and largely ignored them. As I have aged, I have learned to appreciate the simple things in life. Mike Parobeck's artwork is something that falls beautifully into the category or simple things that I have grown to love. This series is 17 issues (and 1 annual) of high energy Parobeck pencils that work very nicely with the Len Strazewski scripts. The series seems to be going for a 'early Lee/Ditko Spider-Man' vibe and, overall, it works quite well. From an early 90s perspective, it is a nice piece of counter programming, contrasting with the grim and grittiness that was prevalent at the time. I have been finding back issues in the 50 cent bin at a local shop, but I think a simple, affordable trade would look nice on my shelf.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hidden Gems: The All-New Batman: Brave and the Bold #14

I was plowing through a TPB of this newish B&B series I got for my kids and I was absolutely blown away by this particular issue. The original Brave and the Bold is my all-time favourite series and the animated series is pure gold. All members of my family love it. I have always liked the Ragman character and his interactions with Batman here are wonderful. This story centers around Chanukah and writer Sholly Fisch does a superb job of condensing the Chanukah story into a page or two - the perfect way to give a child an introduction to the history of the holiday. In the end, however, the story is about more than a local synagogue. It is about the importance of community and finding value in what is around you. It is a great message, delivered in a very subtle and heartfelt manner. The opening gag with the trio of colour-based foes isn't half bad, either. Don't mistake this for a kid's comic. It is one you will be happy to have in your collection.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Add It To My Want List: World Around Us #35

This is the penultimate issue to this rather intriguing published by Gilberton. I do not own a single issue of World Around Us, but I figure that this is a great place to start. Why? Well, it is about spies so that's pretty cool. It is about spies in 1961, so that's even cooler. What else? Well, how about 6 pages of artwork by the team of Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers? I have seen one sample from this book and, while it may not be the most dynamic art produced by that duo, it is still early 60s Kirby so I'm keen to own it. As a bonus, there's a lot of artwork by the great George Evans, who was near the height of his powers at this time. I also really dig the mixed media cover. All in all, there's more than enough here to get me salivating. If I ever spy a copy of it, I'll be sure to grab it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Gil Kane Cover of the Month: Sgt. Fury #100

If you look at Gil Kane's cover output throughout his career, you'll notice a relative dearth of covers from the war genre. That's not to say he could not produce a solid war cover, but the jobs tended to be assigned to the likes of Joe Kubert and John Severin. I would be interested to hear if Kane enjoyed war stuff or if his preference was to focus on superheroes and westerns. The cover to Sgt. Fury #100 is a terrific example of the inventiveness of Kane's cover design. It has a great 'split' design that we often see above and beneath the water's surface. This time, however, Kane is playing around with time. John Romita makes sure that ever fold in the clothing is accentuated. His inks work very well over Kane here and I'll be sure to keep my eye out for other GK/JR works to feature down the road.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Kids' Corner: Sonic the Hedgehog Archives #0

Truth be told, the last video game I played with any regularity was Contra. I am by no means a gamer and tend to steer clear of any video game adaptations as they tend to be quite weak. I had heard, over the years, that the Sonic comic book was quite good and a 20+ year run for the ongoing series speaks to its popularity. My son is starting to become interested in video games and Sonic, so it seems like a good opportunity to take the comic book series out for a test drive. These early stories are written by Michael Gallagher and drawn by Scott Shaw! My son devoured this volume, and handed it over to me. What did I find? I found a main character who shared traits with Lee/Ditko's Spider-Man, adding clever quips throughout the action sequences. I found a well conceived universe, strong character designs and enough pop culture references to keep a parent happy. Sonic has a bit of attitude but it never gets rude or snarky. The package is great, as four issues are compiled at a decent price and its a good size for keeping on a bookshelf. All in all, it was a lot of fun and I look forward to reading future volumes with my kids.

Monday, April 07, 2014

You've Been Warned: Marvel Presents #8

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know that I have absolutely no problem with reprints. I want to read as many great comic stories as possible and, if a reprint is the most affordable way to accomplish that goal, so be it. Here's the thing, though. I absolutely hate the bait and switch. During the mid-70s, Marvel had a tough time getting their creators to hand in their work on time, hence the "Dreaded Deadline Doom". I understand. Things happen. What annoys me, however, is when Marvel decided to drop reprint material into the middle of an ongoing series with nary an announcement. If you were to buy this comic on the basis of the cover alone, you'd the that the Silver Surfer was making an appearance with the Guardians. In the future, no less. Cool. Well, that's not quite what happens. It fact, what you get is a lame framing sequence and a partial reprint from Silver Surfer #2. Huh? Would I have been happy with what I got for my three dimes back then? Probably not, especially since Fantasy Masterpieces was just a few years away. Honestly, I'd be fine if it said 'Reprinting a classic" or "An encore presentation", but this stuff really bugs me. I'll be featuring more of this on here down the road.