Thursday, July 26, 2012

Guardians of the Galaxy : my secret origin

I know this was supposed to be the second part of my long awaited Erlangen comic convention travellog of which I wrote the first part at the beginning of last month. And if I want to get more than one post finished this month I should really get a move on.

But before we get to my - far too short - adventures in Erlangen there´s a bit of old business from my last Erlangen entry to tie up. I mentioned it in the comments but I´m not sure if everybody reads those so here is a small correction I have to make.

I wrote that the original Guardians of the Galaxy ( or OG for short ) made their first appearance in the KORVAC SAGA which is not true. Esteemed blogger Terry Hooper - Scharf, who writes the really brilliant COMICBITS ONLINE blog which you should follow with near religious devotion, reminded me that the Korvac Saga was not the first appearance of the Guardians of the Galaxy. That was in 1969 in issue 18 of MARVEL SUPER - HEROES, an anthology series that offered reprinted stories as well as new content and the story was drawn by none other than Gene Colan who also did the cover. Since I don´t have the issue I can´t tell you more about it but for those who are interested in it Jason Sacks at Comics Bulletin has written an in - depth article about the Origin of the Guardians of the Galaxy that pretty much covers it all.

What I really meant was that the first time I encountered the Guardians of the Galaxy was the KORVAC SAGA. Although I´m not talking about issue 167 of AVENGERS but rather issue 3 of LOS VENGADORES, published in April 1983 and which boldly exclaimed ¡ LLEGAN ..... LOS GUARDIANES DE LAS GALAXIAS !

That´s just so typically spanish, always one - upping those malditos gringos. Instead of the Guardians of the Galaxy it´s Guardians of the Galaxies - plural. Because we don´t start with just one little galaxy, we guard them all. And for 95 measly Pesetas. Ah, the good old days when you were comparing exchange rates for your Deutschmarks to see where you could get the most Pesetas out of it. I wonder if the people in Spain right now are happy they gave up the Peseta in favor of the Euro.

But let´s not open up that particular can of worms. Back them the summer days just seemed endless, as the days never seem to end when you´re young, and I grabbed as many comics I could get. Which wasn´t that hard at first since there was so much stuff out there I didn´t know but later on it got more difficult as I read more and more comics in the original version. Although I´m not complaining since I probably wouldn´t have tried ANIMAL MAN on one of my holiday trips without this.

Issue 3 of LOS VENGADORES had beautiful George Perez art in it and back in those days I got all the good Marvel and DC comics from Spain.

German issues were waaay behind and most of the cool series weren´t even published. So every year I couldn´t wait to get to Spain for a few weeks of good food, uncut movies, good tv shows and the best of comics.

I also made lots of tapes from spanish tv shows that had hot singers like Sabrina Salerno, Thalia, Marlene Mourreau, Carmen Russo or Mar Saura´s unforgettably sexy live wardrobe malfunction on VERANO NOCHE.

In fact there were a few of those on spanish tv like the one that shot Sabrina Salerno into superstardom all over Europe except Germany. It was on New Year´s of 1988 where she performed " Hot Girl " and couldn´t control her boobs - they popped out of her top showing a lot of nipplage.

Normally I only was in Spain during the summer, but for some strange reason in 1988 I managed to spend Christmas and New Year´s Eve at home. Maybe it was fate. In any case, I always tried to get as much loot as I could - so to speak - and the rest of the year I lived of everything I brought over from Spain. Which really hasn´t changed that much in the years that have passed since. I mean the number of good comics that are published in Germany have increased drastically and thanks to comic conventions and the availibility of reasonably priced hardcovers via amazon or other internet outlets my comic library of non - spanish comics has grown quite a bit.

But comparing the range of different genres, the variety of titles, the quality of national comics and the value for money ratio Spain clearly wins. In Germany comic prices are just way too high and the market caters almost exclusively to collectors with an absolute lack of cheap, affordable good comics for the average reader like the DC SHOWCASE, MARVEL ESSENTIALS, BIBLIOTECA MARVEL or CLASSICOS DC lines. I mean, every time I´m on vacation you can read all about the superior spanish editions on this very blog and apart from that Spain is also at least 10 years ahead.

We had DRAGON BALL 20 years before the first comic or tv episode even made it´s way to Germany. And even then they had to censor certain scenes from the tv series to make it adequate for german tv audiences.

One of the censored scenes of the german version, which plays a big part in the following relationship between Yamcha and Bulma. And yes, the whole episode didn´t make any sense without it.

Spain is always ahead of Germany in trends and comics that are translated from foreign countries. Which was one of the reasons why I never paid any mind to all the people in the german comic market who first said the Manga explosion would destroy the german comic market and then panicked that the sudden oversaturation with Mangas would do the same. Because this happened in Spain ten years earlier and it was not the end of the comic industry. It was just a new branch that grew quick because people were all excited and had to have all and which later shrank due to the usual survival of the fittest.

And as one last aside of this survival of the fittest does not mean that the best comic series survive. It is a common misconception that in times of downsizing and readers losing interest only the best comics are left. Or that only the best comics are published in other countries. That is wrong. The comics that survive are mostly the ones that are the most compatible with the masses and are pushed the most by advertising. Or do you really think BEYBLADE, POKEMON or BAKUGAN are the best Mangas out there ?

Back to LOS VENGADORES, this is where I first saw the art of George Perez, Pablo Marcos or John Byrne. Reading spanish comics was like a trip in the Tardis because you always felt you had been thrown forward in time several decades. There were issues to crossovers you never heard of like this SECRET WARS II X - MEN tie - in drawn by John Romita Jr which I think I bought a few times in the meantime. But it is one of the best single issue stories I ever read.

I had never read about this new X - Men team before and the first SECRET WARS series hadn´t even come out in Germany !

And some series were only published in those dreadful Condor poketbooks like ALPHA FLIGHT and to this day the two spanish volumes that collect the first 12 issues of that series are one of my prized possessions. I know that they have been reprinted by Marvel a few years back, but unless there is a high quality hardcover edition released someday I don´t feel the need to substitute my spanish volumes. You can still read it without problems and to tell the truth ...... doesn´t RONDADOR NOCTURNO or LOBEZNO sound way cooler than NIGHTCRAWLER and WOLVERINE ?

Speaking about the spanish comics from that time period I DID just recently order the new IN SEARCH FOR GALACTUS hardcover from amazon although I DO have some of the issues in the spanish version.

I might get rid of them after reading the original but one of the reasons for ordering the hardcover was that the issues I have are only part of the story and I´d like to read it from beginning to end. The issues I have are - probably - the first issues John Byrne did on the title before he started his most famous run and they all have inks by the great Joe Sinnott. The more I read of the FF title the more I appreciate his inks that can give even the most varied artists a kind of " house look " something many modern comic series are lacking.

The hardcover contains 11 issues which is a pretty big chunk ( Fantastic Four 204 - 214 ) and since I bought it from one of the sellers at amazon I´m getting it at a really low price. So far I have had luck by the books I ordered this way from amazon so let´s see if the streak continues. I have to say I have gotten quite a few of Marvel´s premiere hardcover editions and so far all have been great. Even THE OVERTHROW OF DOOM about which I wasn´t sure about is now one of my favorites because I hadn´t previously read most of the issues. So apart from the outcome of the story and the first issue everything in this collection was brandnew to me.

But coming back to the Guardians of the Galaxy - you know, the whole post started with them - as most comic readers at that time I didn´t get to read their exploits in chronological order. The Korvac Saga was Marvel´s final big push to integrate characters like the Guardians and Two Gun Kid into the proper Marvel universe but it was the first story I read which was in 1983.

Before that the Guardians had already appeared in The Mighty Thor Annual 6 which had been published in Germany in issue 9 of MARVEL COMIC - STARS in 1982 and either I completely blanked on it, or I bought it after reading the Korvac Saga. Or I only read the spanish edition years later. I´m not sure if I ever got my hands on the german edition.

What I did buy ( and I know this because I have it in front of me right now ) is MARVEL - COMIC - SONDERHEFT issue 28 which reprints MARVEL TWO IN ONE 4 and 5 in which Ben Grimm teams up with Captain America and the Guardians.

Wundarr is also in this issue but I´m not sure if I knew who he was since only part of the PROJECT PEGASUS storyline had been published in Germany. The cover is a real mixed up mess because while the rest of the Fantastic Four appear in the issue they are not part of the big fight and Susan Storm who is featured has been replaced on the team by Medusa. And Spider - Man doesn´t appear at all but back then they slapped him on as many covers as they could because that sold comics.

According to my internet sources Marvel - COMIC - Sonderheft 28 ( the comic part of the title is really printed in capital letters ) was published in Oktober 1986 more than 3 years after LOS VENGADORES issue 3 came out and I probably read it around that time.

And that is why for me the first appearance of The Guardians of the Galaxy was in the Korvac Saga. I could have written a lot more about those spanish George Perez Avengers issues but once again time has run out fot Today and I have to wrap things up. And we didn´t get to talk about Erlangen at all. Again.

As usual here are the internet resources I used and without whom making this post would have been impossible. Or it would all be be just lots of speculation without any facts or pictures. Tanks mates, couldn´t have done it without you.

Condor Marvel Comic Sonderheft publishing dates / issue list with covers

Condor Marvel Comic Stars publishing dates / issue list with covers

LOS VENGADORES cover gallery from Grand Comic Database

My last two end - of - the - post videos were from comic cartoon shows but right now I have started watching THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD since they had all the DVDs at 5 EUROS each at amazon which is at least half of what they usually go for.

The only bummer is that there is on collection box and you have to get 6 single volumes. But at least you get the spanish dubbing beginning with volume 4 and while his original voice is very grim and gritty his spanish voice is much more suave and rogue - ish, if that´s a word.

I have finished watching the second season of JUSTICE LEAGUE after I realized it hadn´t been shown in Germany so far and I still haven´t found a place where I could buy them. There are also all episodes of the new GREEN LANTERN ANIMATED series waiting for me but now that I have started with THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD I will finish it before starting anything new. So all these are good cartoon show but I already featured them and there is nothing new I could add at the moment.

And since this blog has been sorely lacking in Doctor Who related content since my - still unfinished - post about things to do while waiting for the next season to start here´s something new to help you through the Who - less period.

It´s the almost one hour long 40th anniversary documentary THE STORY OF DOCTOR WHO which my brother found on YouTube and he told me about it. It was first broadcast in 2003 and you can probably download it somewhere easily if you don´t like to watch things on the computer.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

Now these killings seem to be starting up again, and Wolverine might be our primary suspect.


Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

I need to read this again later but I have to say that I am surprised that Germany does not cater for the Marvel Essentials (and DC Showcase?) books as these are regular good sellers. I've all the Essential Avengers from vol.1-8 and I'm looking forward to the next volume. I do have batches of complete runs of Avengers (I started buying over 40 years ago but things are lost or stolen!)but when you see the black and white art minus the colour you realise just how good those artists were and they used pencils, pens, brushes and paper NOT computers to draw! I was reading through volume 8 and just stopped at one page (it was 0320 hrs)and said out loud "oh wow. That is sooo ***** good!"
I'm old so talk to myself a lot -the Cat and Dog ignore me after 2300 hrs.
I never saw the Condor pocket books but I have a few of their regular sized Marvels -and an Avengers that is A4 format oddly. Interpart Masters of The Universe and a couple badly battered Williams' Racher -they just give me a warm fuzzy feeling (which is either fond memories or I'm having a stroke).
Up until the 1980s UK distribution was hit-or-miss so I did catch up with some Avengers, X-Men -from Condor "Das Schicksal Des Phoenix" drawn by Byrne.
I think our generation is going to be the last that knows the joy of a holiday abroad to pick up comics, or a trip for the day and finding an issue you've not seen -even the joy of actually HOLDING that comic in your hands. Everything is now distributed or available via legal, but mainly illegal, download sites.
It's why i love this blog -it shows how similar comickers lives were despite living in different countries!
Keep on blogging!!!!

Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

SUBZERO said...

It´s one of the big mysteries why they don´t have a SHOWCASE or ESSENTIAL line in Germany since they showed that if you make cheap comics available to the general public ( like the Comicbibliothek from FAZ and BILD newspapers ) they will buy it. But those are just the things nobody understands, it´s something like the unspoken rule that comic companies must keep their print runs secret.

I don´t know if I mentioned it on the blog but there was an AVENGERS ESSENTIAL where I still could see the colored version of the pages in my mind when I saw the cover. It was one of the first John Buscema issues I read - thanks to an uncle who was a G I - and it just blew my mind. The Vision was in it and he hadn´t even had his debut in Germany !

Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

Hah! When I was a kid at weekends I got pocket money. Not much because my grand parents were not well off. However, there were two newsagents I visited for comics and Plastacine. I walked into the one furthest away and saw The Avengers and I bought it. Got it home and there was Hawkeye (he was a Villain???), some guy called The Black Panther and...The Vision?? Who the blinking heck were these people? And WHY was Dr Strange wearing a blue face mask?? And The Black Knight???? AAAGH! My poor kid mind raced -had I gone into a parallel world??
Our UK black and white reprints of US Marvel had not gotten up to the Vision or the Panther joining the Avengers let alone Hawkeye (I did catch up thanks to Alan Class reprints).
That first 'new' Avengers was nr 61 -"Some Say The World Will end In Fire..Some Say In Ice" (Essentials v.3).
It was for this reason -that great sense of wide-eyed "WHAAAT?"- that I liked to write and draw team comics with a changing roster of characters (you'll never ever see more in one of my books than in Return of the Gods!
Sadly, those years of delight at picking up a copy of The Avengers or Dr Strange or even the FF are long gone but I still have vivid memories.
If I could achieve that "wow" effect in kids with my books I'd be happy.