Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The overdue Deja Vue from my last post

As you may have noticed there haven´t been a lot of posts in the last few weeks since I didn´t write as much in my kind - of - two - week - vacation as I expected. So much for increasing my posting quota.


But there were some things I had kept off too long - like sleeping or getting rid of a lot of the trash that has piled up on the laptop - so that took priority. Not that things got easier once I had to work again.

Quite the opposite. Sometimes I really think that fate is against me - or at least my mother. I don´t want to say that she´s some kind of evil genius who always tries to spoil my plans for those few days when I don´t have to work. But it can´t be coincidence that every time I´m ready to write a new post or at least relax from the hard work she always finds something for me to do instead. Maybe it´s just me but I absolutely love it when my Mom - or any other member of my family - seems to be unable to notice when I´m doing something. Like when I´m sitting at the laptop doing stuff and she comes in and starts talking and then there´s this super duper important thing that I have to do right now. Because I´m not doing anything right now, or at least nothing important.

And that not only happens when I´m doing stuff you could argue not everybody sees as important. My mother always nags that I have to clean my room more often but the last time I did it there were these important phone calls I had to make and it took a few hours and in the end I didn´t get to finish cleaning my room until a few days later. Like hello ? Or last Wednesday. Since I don´t work on Thursday and Friday that´s practically my weekend so I like to prepare all the stuff I´m going to need the next few days so I don´t have to leave the house. I like to stay at home on my free days and do marathon sessions of watching BONES, THE MENTALIST or - my newest acquisition MISFITS. I like to stay indoors mostly.


So I had stocked up on snacks and ice cream, the fridge was full with cold bottles of beer ( I have now switched from BECKS Green Lemon to what I call " the beer for all old railway workers " BECKS ICE which is lime and mint flavored and a bit sweeter ), I had new seasons of SMALLVILLE, BIG BANG THEORY and BOARDWALK EMPIRE on my desk and my last two comic orders from amazon and one of my online comicshops had just arrived.

I was ready to go for two days of debauchery and comic reading, comic arranging, writing about comics and doing all those things to recharge the batteries when I came home and there was one of the usual catastrophes waiting for me. So in the end I didn´t get to do anything I had planned, the two days came and went super quickly and before I knew it I had to work again and I haven´t had a chance to catch my breath until - well, until Today basically. And since I have to work Tomorrow I can only do a short post. I had intended to do a post about the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY issues of this year because as I mentioned my last comic order from one of my online pulp peddler just arrived last week. I didn´t get to do a post about FREE COMIC BOOK DAY last year but the one I did in 2009 seems to be be pretty popular since it´s at the top of this blogs list of popular posts. Although that may have something to do with the picture of Power Girl having a wardrobe malfunction. They seem to be pretty popular too.

( Here is the link to the picture below by elee0228. But I have to warn my more sensitive readers, there´s some nude stuff in the gallery. Which you can only see if you´re logged in so that can be avoided easily. )


Back to Todays post, in my last post I didn´t get to include the obligatory Deja Vue section which I´m doing now. Since it was all about Superman I thought it only appropiate to do an installment with one of the Man of Steel´s iconic covers and what could be more iconic than the one that started it all. Not only the rise of Superman but the superhero genre which was non existent before ACTION COMIC 1.


Back then Superman was not a allpowerful as he later would become which ultimately lead to such extremes where he could move entire planets.

When he first appeared on the scene he was " only " faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap small buildings in a single bound so lifting a car high over his head was a big deal. And since it was such a huge success he did it again ( although this time without doing any harm to the vehicle because of the passengers involved ) on the cover of SUPERMAN 19.


Here´s another cover, this time setting the whole scene in the future. This was in the DOMINUS storyline when Superman was scattered through four different timelines, one for each Superman title. Happy times, folks.


The image was also used for the anniversary issue of ACTION COMICS 800, although in this case seen from a different perspective.


Alex Ross also took that approach when he did the variant cover 100 issues later on ACTION COMICS 900. I don´t know about you but I liked the fact that the series had been around that long and I always got a kick out of the anniversary issues with the big numbers. But that´s all in the past now thanks to those geniuses with their NEW 52.


Another version by Alex Ross is this one. I´m not sure where it´s from.


Of course it has also been used inside of comics like this splash page of Earth 2 Superman crushing Earth 1 Superman from INFINITE CRISIS 5 by Jerry Ordway ( Which by the way was a much better reboot than the actual one since it was prepared 3 years in advance. Not 3 weeks ! ) .


The last one with Superman lifting the car on the cover is SECRET ORIGINS 1 which also uses the old Justice Society crystal ball schtick.


And our last one with the big guy himself on the cover this time on the receiving end of the car courtesy of Bizarro Number 1. The art is by LOVE & ROCKETS artist Jaime Hernandez and it´s a trade of Silver Age Bizarro.


There also have been other people wearing Superman´s costume - or a variation of it - getting into hijinks with a car like young Superman who then was discovered to be a clone and who took the name of Superboy


a shape shifter from a parallel world who later shared her body with a dead girl got different powers and turned out to be an angel - but not the new main character in FALLEN ANGEL after all probably due to copyright infringement reasons - who for a while took the name of Supergirl


and last but not least ...... I don´t know ? Superstrong weirdlooking Hornguy ? I don´t even know who this guy is or what his story was.


And that´s all for the first part. Next time we will come to the more exotic homages like this one for the spanish fanzine SLUMBERLAND.


As for the next post, with any luck we will get to what I originally wanted to post this time but what I had to cut short in the hopes of savoring the beer buzz before it has totally faded because I´m writing this.

With comic prices being what they are I´m delving into the realm of free comics with the FREE COMIC BOOK issues from 2013 that I was able to get as well as the ones from GRATIS COMIC TAG 2013 to appease my readers in Germany as well as outside. And since that is probably going to take a while and a few posts we will then come to the next best thing, which is comics you can get for a buck. I got some issues from Dark Horse´s ONE FOR ONE line as well as some new ones from IDW´s HUNDRED PENNY PRESS label that I want to go over.

I also wanted to mention the current bargain books from amazon : still at only 57 bucks is the IRON MAN OMNIBUS hardcover by David Micheline, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr which is a steal for a 100 Dollar book. Also still at 43 bucks is the AVENGERS VS X - MEN hardcover which normally goes for 75 Dollars and if you don´t want to invest that much you might want to get the DARK AVENGERS hardcover for 28 bucks which collects the entire series ( except issues 7 and 8 which are included in the UTOPIA collections ) normally priced at 50 Dollars or the AVENGERS BY BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS - HEROIC AGE at 23 bucks, a 40 Dollar hardcover collecting AVENGERS 1 to 6 by John Romita Jr, NEW AVENGERS 1 to 6 by Stuart Immomen and AVENGERS PRIME 1 to 5 by Alan Davis. Lately I really tend to get the collected editions and especially the hardcovers and one of the reasons is that they mostly include all the variant covers.


Todays video is from the SUPER FRIENDS : THE LEGENDARY SUPER POWERS SHOW since most of the post - aside from some whining on my part - is about Superman. I already posted one video of one of the later incarnations with the death of Superman. One of the DVDs my brother brought back from Spain was LO MEJOR DE SUPERMAN which includes episodes from all the different Superman cartoons over the years.

My favorite ones of the bunch have been by far the SUPER FRIENDS and I really would be superhappy if I could find the complete seasons somewhere. I just love that they brought in all the popular characters like Firestorm and I just have to learn more about the ones they made up for the series like like Black Vulcan, Samurai, El Dorado or Apache Chief ( who was the template for Raven Manitou and who is reintroduced to DC continuity through the YOUNG JUSTICE cartoon ). I also love that when they approach Cyborg from the Teen Titans for membership he is totally like " Meh, not interested. " and they con him into joining by pointing out that since he has made a new enemy out of Darkseid he´ll need some serious backup - like the Super Friends. How convenient.

Anyway, this is THE BRIDE OF DARKSEID part 1 which introduces Firestorm. Darkseid seems to have been the go - to bad guy.



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Monday, August 05, 2013

You guessed it : It´s Man of Steel Monday !

I still haven´t seen the MAN OF STEEL movie but since I haven´t yet prepared all the material for the SERPENT CROWN two - parter or the next post about THE PHANTOM I thought I´d use some of the material I have accumulated so far about the Man of Tomorrow.


So this will not be an in depth analysis about the new movie which I wouldn´t do even if I had seen the movie. I like it when people make up their own mind and while I´m not shy to speak my mind - since I get no review copies from either DC or Marvel or any other comic company and so am not biased in any way - I also don´t like to spoil things.

What I will be talking about is how Superman has been portrayed so far and what defines Superman - at least in my humble opinion. Having read the adventures of the most famous alien for more than three decades I think I can offer a bit more insight than some people who pretend to be experts on the subject and only know the NEW 52 Robotech version.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE COSTUME OF TOMORROW ?

As you may have guessed I´m not a big fan of the recent abomination Superman wears in the comics because I don´t think it´s a good idea to put a costume that would probably look better in a movie into a comic. As I don´t think you can take a costume directly from a comic and put it into a movie without it looking awkward or silly in most cases.

There are a few exceptions like most of the original JSA costumes which would look terrific in a movie as the SMALLVILLE episode showed ( no pun intended ) but as much as the people at Warner Bros might think comics and movies can be treated the same that´s not the case. I know that those movie guys want to get rid of the pesky comic artistes because either they think they know better how to handle the franchises or they are embarrassed to work on something connected to comics.


Yes, they like to earn the big bucks with comic movies like AVENGERS or IRON MAN 3 but they really would prefer to do superhero or comic movies that are not connected to comics. And thanks to such disasters like ZOOM or ULTRAVIOLET we all know how that usually ends.

Which nevertheless doesn´t keep those Hollywood bigshot execs from interfering with the movies. I never experienced it myself but I think it must be a really pitiful existence if the only way that you can give your miserable life some kind of value is by screwing up something completely that you don´t understand at all. But back to Superman´s costume.

While it isn´t the worst costume that ever appeared in a Superman movie ( Who still remembers the dreadful Chippendale / Stripper costume from the SUPERMAN RETURNS train wreck ? ) there have been better. I mean, even the costume of the fake Superman in that SNICKERS commercial was better than that one and they couldn´t use anything remotely resembling the original costume - they couldn´t even use the same colors.



The thing I never get is why they don´t use the original costume since it´s one of the most recognizable costumes, one of the best known costumes, hell, it´s one of the most often copied costumes.

It may very well be one of the best costumes ever but they just have to do " their own version " of it or " modernize it " or " come up with one that´s more in touch with Today´s audiences ". Sorry, but that´s not what Superman stands for. He´s not at all about change for change´s sake, always following the newest fad and pandering to the masses. Superman is about certain values that have remained the same through decades because - like Alan Moore so perfectly said in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW - there is a way things ought to be.


And  it´s not like there haven´t been instances where they have used the original costume and it worked great. The first Superman movie I ever saw had the original costume and it worked really well. It had the same costume as in the comics I was reading at that time and it was brilliant.


It really made you believe a man can fly. But more than that it also pulled off the whole thing about nobody recognizing that Clark Kent is Superman because of a pair of glasses. Christopher Reeves just was that good of an actor.

Now in the comics there have been all kinds of explanations for why the whole trick with the glasses works. Of which the worst was that Superman uses some kind of unconscious hypnosis on everybody so they see him as really scrawny and meek ( like he was drawn in the NEW 52 SUPERMAN series ) and he was always vibrating so that nobody could take a picture to see how he looks like. And the most logical was that people don´t think Superman has a secret identity. Because if you can be Superman why would you pretend to be somebody else ? And how could you have a secret identity if there are dozens of fotos of you everywhere ? That Superman fella doesn´t even hide his face behind a mask like most superhero so he just can´t have a secret identity. It´s impossible.

So the whole glasses as an effective disguise can work or not depending on the quality of the writer and how he handles it.


Now coming back to the costume in movie and tv adaptations, there was another series which I really liked that used the original costume.


Of course it didn´t hurt that Teri Hatcher played the part of Lois, making it possible for me for the first time since reading Superman comics to believe that Superman would be interested in somebody like Lois Lane.


Instead of trying to get it on with somebody like Wonder Woman which I always found more logical. I mean, the Lois in the comics was not really the best girlfriend to have as she was always trying to either trick Superman into revealing that he was Clark Kent or - even worse - to marry him. In the 80s when John Byrne revamped the Superman franchise they got rid of that but that doesn´t mean the new Lois was any better. The new version showed clear signs of alpha male syndrome, being more interested in Superman than mild mannered " Smallville " which makes it logical that she never found out they were the same. For that she would have had to look at Clark twice. And for those who don´t believe that the new Lois always went for the alpha male let me remind you that she was together with Lex Luthor before Superman became top dog in Metropolis.


Anyway, THE ADVENTURES OF LOIS AND CLARK is a really great series to watch not only for Superman fans and Teri is just brilliant in it. Although she didn´t do much after it until she moved to the Wisteria Lane as a desperate housewife where she showed that she still got it. Massita !

  
The hot Teri in action :

video
So far all we have been talking about is the costume but I don´t want you to think I´m the only one who goes of in that direction. Here is a great strip by Karl Heitmueller ( courtesy of tencentticker ) that he did for the excellent BACK ISSUE magazine about the various costumes of Superman. I think he really distills the essence of the question here.


WHAT`S RIGHT ABOUT TRUTH, JUSTICE AND THE AMERICAN WAY

Another comic artist who talked about what Superman is all about is Chris Sprouse who did this wonderful Superman splash ( or rather smash ) which I found on a link provided by fellow comicblog MAN OF BRONZE .


Of course a few people wanted to be clever because of the phrase " an alien, who in my mind, couldn’t conceive of why anyone would want to hurt anyone else " and opinionated that basically Superman was like a child because he doesn´t understand that there are people who want to hurt others. Which clearly is not the case. Superman knows that. He just can´t understand why they would do that. And apparently some people have problems understanding this. So here it is in my own words :

There are hundreds of people out there that buy comics drawn by Rob Liefeld although I - for the life of me - can´t conceive there really is anyone willing to spend money on that. Which doesn´t mean that I don´t understand that there are people out there who buy Rob Liefeld comics. I know for a fact that there must be people out there who do it. And lots of them because otherwise he would not get one job offer after another. I know that there are people out there who buy his stuff. I used to buy his stuff myself. But intellectually I really can´t understand why all these people spend their hard earned money on a comic artist who hasn´t improved in the last 20 years and who can´t draw knees. I can´t wrap my head around that. Or that Deadpool has five or four series at the same time while other much better books like THOR THE MIGHTY AVENGER by Roger Langride and Chris Samnee is canceled. Which I just had to mention because amazon.de is offering the new 25 bucks trade that collects the complete series for a measly 12 bucks. I recommend it.


FOR THE FANBOY WHO HAS EVERYTHING

Last but not least I wanted to post a link to a cosplayer that I came across on facebook ( Terry Hooper shared one of her pictures as Ivy, thanks mate ! ) who goes by the name of BelleChere. She was one of the unknown cosplayers on my Top Ten list of Power Girl cosplayers although she also does other costumes like Lady Death, Ms Marvel or Hepzibah.

There is an interview with her as Cosplay Babe of the Month February 2012 on THE COMICS NINJA and you can also visit her blog .

Here is the link to her facebook page where you can find dozens of pics of her in mindblowing costumes from which the following 5 ( and it was really hard to narrow it down to 5 ) are only a small selection :


HOW SUBZERO WOULD END THE POST

And sadly that´s all I have time for Today as it´s already half past three - after midnight. Once again I got a bit sidetracked so I will have to continue this discussion Tomorrow when we - gods of the internet willing - come to all the weird costumes Superman has worn in the comics.


Now with all the stuff about Superman some readers keep asking me about the better one of his two cousins - which is Power Girl. It has been some time since I mentioned her at all and the way the stuff I find about her keeps piling up when I finally catch up it will be a complete and very long post about Power Girl, more Power Girl and nothing but Power Girl. And you can be sure there will be magical cleavage windows everywhere.


Until then here is another sweet picture by Franchesco borrowing a famous cover from Janet Jackson. I really don´t know why he´s not involved in some way with the WORLD´S FINEST comic at the moment since the art on that book is sorely lacking.

 
And speaking of covers, sadly there is no time Today for the new IT`S THAT STRANGE FEELING OF DEJA VUE AGAIN section but there will be definitely one - with Superman covers - in my next post. I promise.

Now, with the videos at the end of the post I´m continuing with full movies, this time it´s a kind of pulpy sci fi flick based on a story by Harlan Ellison that was also adapted as a comic by Richard Corben.


It´s the 1975 movie A BOY AND HIS DOG starring a very young Don Johnson in the lead role.


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Friday, August 02, 2013

Old Jungle Saying : It´s Phantom Friday !

Boy, latelyI seem to do a lot of these theme day posts. So, Yesterday I got all caught up in pulp comic covers and it´s all because of some beautiful THE PHANTOM covers by Sal Velluto I found online.


Now since I am a big fan of Sal Velluto ( just check out his spectacular work on Christopher Priest´s BLACK PANTHER run ) and The Phantom I wondered why I have never seen these before. And as you might have noticed the language on the cover is not english.

I did a little research and apparently Sal Velluto did these covers - as well as some interior art - for the swedish edition of the Phantom comic called FANTOMEN. The publisher of these comics is Eggmont, a publisher who is also active in Germany and other parts of Europe so it might be possible that I can get a hold of these myself.

I will be posting more pictures by Sal Velluto in the near future but as I have to sift through a lot of material for these posts I can only do a short post Today. But don´t be sad, with luck there will be more stuff of this iconic pulp hero coming up and who knows ? Maybe, this month will be PHANTOM MONTH if I manage to do more posts than last month.

THE PHANTOM HAS INSPIRED MANY MEN

One of my new sections is the IT`S THAT OLD FEELING OF DEJA VUE AGAIN section where I post covers that pay homage to iconic comic covers. I always add to that section and try to find interesting examples.

Like with most of the stuff I write I´m only that knowledgeable and I also can make mistakes. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that what I thought of as original iconic covers may have been just paying homage to covers of THE PHANTOM. Like this one below.


The famous panel from AMAZING SPIDER - MAN issue 50 has inspired many covers itself but it seems John Romita incorporated some elements of this cover below of the Ghost Who Walks. Away that is.

 
Or the cover to CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS 7 of which I already did a first installment and which still has a few to go. It is kind of hard to qualify because some covers may be similar but different in the composition


Like this one where there are certain similarities which one may view as coinicidences. And I´m not one to believe in coincidences.


Now you may say that it´s clearly an homage or may be influenced by this cover for BATMAN 156.


But this one was clearly done after this iconic Phantom cover which even has the red shirt on the boy and the beach in the background.


It´s a cover Sal Velluto also came back to.


And that´s not the only famous Robin cover that was derived in some form from The Phantom. Take for instance this rather harmless cover.


There can be no doubt that it was later on used by Jim Aparo - not for any of the actual covers which were done by Mike Mignola but rather - for the collected edition of the famous A DEATH IN THE FAMILY storyline ( if anybody might want to look for it online ) that ran in BATMAN 426 to 429.


This was also later on re - used as a cover for the Phantom series, this time by Paul Ryan who is currently doing the daily Phantom newspaper strip which can be seen here . And here is a link to Paul Ryan´s art website .


Another Batman related cover that drew inspiration from Lee Falk´s jungle hero is the cover for SON OF THE DEMON, a story later picked up on by Grant Morrison for his brilliant BATMAN & ROBIN series.


Here is the corresponding Phantom cover :


And that´s just the tip of the iceberg. There are literally whole generations of artists influenced by The Phantom like Frank Miller



and even Todd McFarlane. They all drew inspiration from the pulp hero.



But that´s not all. In my research I have discovered that a lot of things in comics and pop culture stem directly from the Phantom series like Dick Tracy´s look or Dr. Doom who may have had his first appearance in a Phantom comic.

Sadly I can´t go into all that right now ( yep, once again it´s time to wrap things up ) but there will be more Phantom - centric stuff in the future like more covers, influences on modern pop culture in general or the many women who have crossed the Phantom´s way like Marylin Monroe ( for real ) as well as some totally freaky outfits that can - and WILL - compete with some of the most garish costumes The Bat - Man has worn.

Now, since this post has been all about The Phantom, the video at the end of the post is of course also about The Ghost Who Walks. Since I guess that everybody has seen the movie with Billy Zane which is really better than people say here is a black and white movie from 1943. Enjoy !



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