Friday, October 25, 2013

Secret Wars II : Black was the new black

Well, for those of you who visited my site Yesterday - or better tried to visit my site - there were some problems with blogger but that´s all sorted out now. I wanted to post more about Flash and Wally West, but seeing as this was also the topic of my last post I wanted to go with something different and in this case it ties into SECRET WARS II.


In the first part of my love letter to SECRET WARS II we already covered that I am one of those people who´d buy the new omnibus edition of that series because I totally loved it. I was just getting into reading american comics in the original version and SECRET WARS II was all over the place.

I don´t mean that this was going into all sorts of directions but quite literally it was all over the place that was the Marvel universe at that time. SECRET WARS II and the Beyonder was popping up in every book and while such a thing might put off some readers I really liked it. You have to know, as I might have mentioned in previous posts, back then I got my american comics at the newsstand at the train station in Stuttgart and following a series was not easy. One month they might have THOR, FANTASTIC FOUR and HULK, the next one NEW MUTANTS, DAREDEVIL or IRON MAN. I went there two, sometimes three times a week to get the new comics but it still could happen that I missed an issue or two.

So when SECRET WARS II was happening I got really excited because here was a big thing that was in a lot of books. And while I didn´t get all books in the right order and without missing issues here and there with this it wasn´t really necessary. I mean it would have been nice but I didn´t care anyway. There were just so many crossover issues that you couldn´t help but get some of them. And while the quality on those issues might be different from title to title each one gave you another nugget of the story. So while you might not get all issues from THOR ( which was still written and drawn by Walter Simonson at that time ) you might get an issue of THOR that was a SECRET WAR II tie in, an issue of FANTASTIC FOUR that crossed over and an issue of NEW MUTANTS that tied in. In fact the chances were better than getting consecutive issues of any given title.


Another thing I really liked about getting into SECRET WARS II was that it was way ahead of what was happening in the german translations so there was a different status quo - which not only meant new team members on most team books but new costumes. So my Spider - Man looked like this


my Captain America ( or rather just The Captain ) looked like this


my Iron Man ( always bucking the trend ) also had new shiny duds


and even the mighty Thor polished up some new and exciting gear.


Although there was another look in the series long before it, that is still much talked about Today. Chugga - rumph, indeed my friends !


How could I ever write about Walter Simonson´s Thor run without mentioning Thor - Frog ? I can´t. Not only is this storyline one of the most beloved story by fans from that time period but it also happens right during SECRET WARS II and in fact totally ties in with that story.


No, it´s no mistake, there´s no SECRET WARS II CONTINUES IN THIS ISSUE sign on the Thor issues since they obviously don´t cross over, nor is it on NEW MUTANTS 38, which might be the reason why it´s not included in the omnibus. And which in my opinion is a huge mistake by Marvel.

I can understand that they left out issue 72 of ROM Spaceknight


 and issue 16 of MICRONAUTS


because those were licensed products and they just don´t have the license for those anymore. I mean, if they tried they probably could arrange something but Nowadays Marvel just doesn´t care anymore.

Which is one of the reasons you won´t see any ROM or MICRONAUTS trades from Marvel anytime soon, even if tose two series are much loved by a lot of fans. If you want to get those issues your best chances are probably in dollar bins. Anyway, back to NEW MUTANTS 38. As I said in my last post, while the core series might not have been exemplary for the high quality standard of Marvel at that time some of the crossovers are. There are some stories in there that really go way and beyond what you would read in comics at that time and - at least for me - NEW MUTANTS 38 is one of those that can proudly stand with the others I mentioned.


Those of you who don´t want to get spoiled and really intend to read a SECRET WARS II crossover, you better skip the next part. For those of you who have read the issue or just don´t care about spoilers or finally just want to know what the hell I´m rambling about, the gist is as follows :

In the previous issue - which IS included in the omnibus - the Beyonder fights against all the New Mutants in a big all out melee, kills them all and then brings them back to life. With their memories of dying still intact. Which is a really horrific expereince for kids of that age so they´re all reeling and acting like zombies ( which doesn´t go over to well at a party with the kids from the local school who think the students from Xavier´s private school are snobs because they are acting cold and emotionless ).

One of those who is especially hard affected is Danielle Moonstar, who is in the stable with her winged horse Brightwind. Yes, back then Marvel had some really tight continuity and for those who want to know, Danielle encounters Brightwind during the New Mutants tenure on Asgard collected in the ASGARDIAN WARS trade. The winged horse was trapped with barb wire and Danielle freed and adopted the horse thus becoming one of the Valkyries of Asgard. Back to our story in NEW MUTANTS 38, while Danielle is really down and just feeling horrible she sees her horse suddenly going down on its knees and actually bowing - before a mere frog, of all things !

Who is not a normal frog at all ( as you have probably guessed by now ) but Thor who has come to give her new hope in her hour of need.


Realizing that the frog is the asgardian god of thunder Danielle tries to go after him as he hops away but she is stopped by her winged horse.

Which is the moment when she understands that Thor didn´t come to her to get some help out of his personal ailment, but rather to give a fellow Valkyrie of the realm support and hopefully boost her morale. It´s this sign of greatness - helping others despite ones own terrible predicament -  that snaps Danielle out of her depression and also shows what a great character Thor is. Not only as a god or a fellow Avenger but as a hero. The message that it is possible to help others even if your own situation is not the best is a really strong one and it´s only part of this story.

You can read more in detail analysis about the issue right here and as I said, in my opinion it´s a big mistake that they didn´t include it in the omnibus. It might not be an integral part of the story but for me it had one of the best moments of the saga. So, if you already have the omnibus or just want to read a good issue that ties into SECRET WARS II go and get a copy of NEW MUTANTS 38. It has my highest recommendation.

IT`S THAT MUTATED FEELING OF DEJA VUE AGAIN

Yes, it´s once again time to wrap things up, but I just can´t finish the post without adding two homage covers to Arthur Adams´ brilliant cover for NEW MUTANTS 38. The first one is from Marvel themselves


and the other one is from Image´s MORNING GLORIES book.


WHEN IS A SPIDER - MAN NOT A SPIDERMAN ?

And one last thing, since we´re on the subject of SECRET WARS II and the new black costume of Spider - Man : issue 15 of AMAZING FANTASY


was hommaged on the cover of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN 252, which presented Peter Parker in his new post Secret Wars costume.


For comparison, here´s the cover for the german version, which - as usual - has a lot more text and also features Spidey in his old threads on the cover to make sure the german readers know that it´s really Marvel´s Spider - Man inside the issue and not somebody else with the same name.


Now you might ask yourself who that might be and why I explicitly mentioned the possibility that it might be somebody else with the same name. I´m glad you asked. If you´re a longtime reader of this blog you might know that I wouldn´t mention it if there wasn´t some point to it so I just will come right out and say that during my preparations for this post I came upon a peculiar cover for a german comic. Is it coincidence ?


It´s an issue of the german anthology comic KOBRA ( I mentioned the series in many previous posts ) that has somebody who is called SPIDERMAN in a similar pose and wearing a black costume to boot.

Now issue 15 of AMAZING FANTASY came out in 1962 and this issue of KOBRA is from 1976 so this could be swiped. But AMAZING SPIDER - MAN 252 came out in May 1984, so this still makes it 8 years that KOBRA features a guy called Spiderman in a black costume on the cover before it happened for real at Marvel Comics. Food for thought my friends, eh ?

CLOSING TIME AND LAST CALLS or WAIT, I GOT ONE MORE !

So, once again it´s time to wrap things up for Today and in our next post - if everything goes according to plan which it almost never does - we will talk more about Spider - Man´s black costume, more Spider - Man in der german comics and why the Submariner was sometimes called Prince Namor on the covers and sometimes Aquarius. Ja, ja. No kidding.


Okay, there´s two more things I have to post before switching off the laptop for Today. The first one is this totally bitching cosplay of Green Lantern Arisia for which I just have to give props. Outstanding job !

It looks lie she just stepped out of the pages of a comicbook to take her usual drink with her fellow Lanterns after a long day of ring - slinging at everybody´s favorite watering hole, Guy Gardner´s WARRIOR bar. 


The other thing is the usual video at the end of the post, and since I have finally gotten around to see it it´s the original US movie launch trailer for DALEK`S INVASION EARTH : 2150 A.D with Peter Cushing as Doctor Who.

For those of you who are new to Who, there are two movies with Peter Cushing as Doctor Who that are not considered canon but are still very much liked by Whovians. The Doctor is not an alien from Galafrey and not a timelord, but rather the inventor of a time machine. It´s a bit strange that Peter Cushing plays Doctor Who after playing Doctor Van Helsing but even if it´s not the real Doctor Who the movie is rather enjoyable.

Those who are well versed in Who´s Doctor Who may recognize the story as an adaption of the serial of the same name - The Dalek invasion of earth - but I have to say that Peter Cushing is a more likable Doctor Who than William Hartnell, and for those who love Wilf from the new Doctor Who ( and who doesn´t ? ) he plays the main character in the movie.


All in all a nice little movie and although it doesn´t really explain a lot about Doctor Who, and the Tardis really does look different ( it still is bigger on the inside ) all you really DO need to know to understand the picture is mentioned : that Doctor Who is a timetraveller who has encountered the Daleks before and that the Daleks are bad news.



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Friday, October 18, 2013

It´s ( not married anymore ) Flash Friday!

I have been busy the last few weeks. More than usual in fact and a lot of that has been due to the fact that I found new episodes of DOCTOR WHO on the internet ( well, new to me but old to most people who may be reading this from the UK ) . The downside has been that I spent way too much time on the internet and still didn´t manage to get new posts done.


The thing is the last time I found episodes of Doctor Who on the interweb I stopped after a while and then the website was gone and I thought that was it. So this time I´m trying to finish this once and for all.

Originally the plan was to see them all until the big 50th anniversary episode is aired in November but the way it´s going I´m lucky if I have them all until then. It´s not like I don´t watch an episode now and then. I have finally seen some episodes with Sylvester McCoy, quite a few with Colin Baker and even one with Peter Davison. So I thought about doing a post about The Doctor but since Today is Friday and I just couldn´t find any appropiate alliteration I´ve decreed this day as Flash Day. I hope it´s not too boring for my readers as I talk again about the Flash of long ago.

One reason why I talk so much about the Flash that used to be is that I don´t read the actual Flash book so if I want to talk about Flash it´s not the Flash how he is now but how he was. You know how it goes :

My name is Wally West and I´m the fastest man alive. I´m The Flash.

At least for me. I know that people always say that your favorite Flash is the one you grew up with. Or any comic book character for that matter. And this may be true for some comic readers. For some. Maybe for all. I don´t know. What I DO know is that for me it was not always the first version of a certain superhero that I saw that was my favorite. Heck, the first Green Lantern I read was Hal Jordan but my favorite was always Guy Gardner. And while the guy running around in red spandex in the first Flash comics I read as a kid was Barry Allen he wasn´t my favorite.


Okay, he wasn´t my favorite but this cover by George Perez is just gorgeous beyond words ( no pun intended ) and since it not only features Firestorm but also the Atomic Skull aren´t you just dying to read it ?

RIDDLE OF THE RUNAWAY COMIC BUDGET

As chance would have it I just got some issues of BACK ISSUE and one of the articles in the SUPERMAN IN THE BRONZE AGE issue is about the Atomic Skull, who was pretty underused pre - crisis. Normally I don´t get many issues of ALTER EGO or BACK ISSUE at the online comic shops I frequent so when I had the chance I ordered four at once. One is the aforementioned SUPERMAN IN THE BRONZE AGE issue,


the one I´m reading right now is the big team up issue while number three is all about the Legion of Super - Heroes in the 70s and 80s.

And speaking about the Legion of Super - Heroes, the fourth one is an oversized issue with a big wraparound cover by Alex Ross recreating Mike Grell´s famous cover for their first solo series. Of course this one is all about the over sized and tabloid sized specials. Right now there are three more issues I found at another online comic shop that I would like to order but I have to slow down a little with buying comics the next weeks.


This month I went a bit overboard because I got some comics rather cheap from the guys at the PANINI FORUM and also from amazon.

I was looking if anybody was selling the second WONDER WOMAN book since my sister really likes the series. It´s one of the few good series left at the New52 and I got her the first one as a Christmas present last year. So I wanted to see if I could get it at a bargain price now that a lot of people are getting out of the rebooted DC universe. Instead I found some of the books I had on my to read list like volume two of Catwoman, the second book of Green Lantern, the first one of Batman & Robin and so on.


So right now I have a huge pile of unread comic trades on my desk which include the complete pre - New52 Batman Incorporated as well as the first one in the new continuity, both volumes of the brilliant Siniestro Corps War ( which I can finally read in its entirety ), the latest issues of comics I got together with the BACK ISSUEs, volume 4 of Showcase presents Superman Family ( which was available at amazon for 8 bucks which is not bad for a 20 Dollar book ) and I´m still waiting for the package to arrive which contains volume two of Swamp Thing and the Hardcover Edition of WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW ?

On top of that I just ordered the third hardcover of ALL NEW X - MEN and the CONTEST OF THE CHAMPIONS from amazon because it was at a real bargain price. Now if I really should manage to read all that there are already the next ones lined up on my amazon list. I´m not sure about AGE OF ULTRON but it´s currently at 48 bucks and I´ll probably wait until it´s at 45 or below which is my normal threshold for 75 Dollar hardcovers. What is a given is the second hardcover volume of LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT : JIM APARO, normally 50 Dollars and currently at 36 EUROS. Another book I´m not sure about is the Daredevil : End of Days 40 Dollar hardcover which is at 22 EUROS right now, which is a hefty discount. But the one that bugs me the most at the moment is another one of those Warren horror comic deluxe reprints by Dark Horse.

CREEPY ARCHIVES VOLUME 16 was at 23 bucks when I wanted to write my last post, then went up to 35 bucks when I did my last post and right now the price is falling again. Those of you who have read one of my earlier posts about those big hefty 50 Dollar beauties are either tired of hearing me rave about them or you want to add another one to your collection.


This one has the usual all - star cast of creators like Alex Toth, Neal Adams, Richard Corben, Wally Wood and Bernie Wrightson lined up inside and if you want to know more you can see some preview pages here .

Like I said before, if you want to give one of those 50 Dollar books a try here is your chance to do it without paying an arm and a leg for it.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE SCARLET SPEEDSTER OF YESTERDAY ?

But back to my favorite Flash that was Wally West, because he made me pick up the book on a regular basis and got me so hooked I never quit.

Well, at least until the beginning of THE REVERSE AGE, like I call Scott Kolins´ tenure on the book. I really don´t like to sound overtly negative but the workings of a superfast superhero and Scott´s especially un - kinetic and rigid art didn´t really gel for me. Sure, the stories by Geoff Johns were still top notch - especially his handling of the rogues - and the covers by Brian Bolland were just mindblowing but the abrupt change from interior artist Angel Unzueta to Scott Kolins just was too much for me.


In my case I was literally reading them and weeping so I quit until the BLITZ story came around and to this day I can´t help myself wondering what a masterpiece this could have been with a different artist.

I even tried to order PANINI´s first print on demand comic that contained the storyline. And I´m saying TRIED here because I never got the copies I ordered. Yes, that´s plural because I wanted to order two copies of the book. For which I got some criticism because there were quite a few people who didn´t quite get why somebody would order more than one copy of a book that had a definite print run, was probably only available through this one time opportunity and which you would not be able to find in even the best comic shops. Go figure. But back to the Flash book.


After a few issues Howard Porter became the new artist and I was once again enjoying the ride up until the end when INFINITE CRISIS f - word - ed everything up with Bart Allen becoming the Flash and getting killed by the Rogues. Ever since I´ve been itching to get back with the speedforce but the new books haven´t piqued my interest as they say nowadays.

Part of that is that writers have historically struggled to make Barry Allen interesting. Now I said it. I know, sacrilege. I don´t care. When I was reading the Bronze Age Flash I remember that it was always more about the guy with the costume and the weird situations he found himself in ( and some of them were pretty weird ) than it was about the guy himself.


The stories were interesting but Barry was always a bore and the single most defining thing he did was dying during Crisis on Infinite Earths.


And to put the cake on that most heroes didn´t even remember exactly how he died or during which crisis it was. They only remembered his great sacrifice and not much else. In short, the two things people knew about the Flash was that he died during CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS and that he was married. Which is something DC seems to be having a problem with ever since their rebranding for marketing´s sake - I mean reboot.

FLASH - THIS WAS YOUR MARRIAGE !

Well, I wasn´t thinking too much about the subject of marriage in the NEW52 - because quite frankly I try to stay away from it as much as possible - but thanks to this post on ComicBits Online I was reminded of the whole negative stance on superhero marriages in comics Today.


Which to me is one of the biggest BS MFs going on in comics. Like somebody once said, people who think your life is less exciting once you are married are either people who are not married or people who should not be married in the first place.When I read Dan Didio say crap like :

" When comics were at their biggest peak, the personal lives of the characters were at their smallest. I don´t want to read a book about a marriage. What I want to read is how people are trying to balance all aspects of their lives. There has to be a sacrifice to being a hero. "

My first reaction is that he doesn´t know the first thing about comics. Okay, not really my first reaction. That would be to throw up. But my second reaction is wondering who put that guy in charge. I mean, even leaving the fact aside that when comics were at their biggest peak most titles had numerous stories in one issue and the stories were six pages long at best, they were printed on cheap pulp paper, cost ten cents and you could buy them at every newsstand ( I wonder if DC is going to bring all that back too ) it´s totally bogus. Because there were marriages even back then. Okay, some of them took place on parallel earths or were just imaginary stories but they wouldn´t have done them if someone at DC wouldn´t have thought that a married superhero is much more interesting than the same superhero who isn´t married. At least in that story.


Back to the whole thing about the peak of comics, if you define their biggest peak at the point were they sold the most issues - okay. Now we all know where the new DC is coming from. It´s all about the Benjamins. But if you talk about the best stories DC did I don´t think anyone would argue their best decade was back then and if you want to go for the best Flash storylines of all times they are not from the Golden Age. Some of my favorites are THE RETURN OF BARRY ALLEN, TERMINAL VELOCITY, DEAD HEAT or CHAIN LIGHTNING and they all came out in the 90s.


When I was reading DC comics as a kid the interesting part was that some heroes were married, like Flash, Hawkman, Aquaman or Elongated Man and others weren´t like Superman, Batman or Green Lantern.

If you were reading a team book like Justice League and all the heroes would have been the same in their civilian identities what would be the point of reading a team book instead of a solo book like Batman or Flash ? It´s just boring when they are too much alike instead of different, where Barry Allen is jealous of Hal Jordan because he has no worries about the wife and surviving to come home. And vice versa Hal Jordan was jeaulous of Barry Allen because he had a settled life with a loving wife and the home with the picket fences and the apple pie he could go home to after saving the world instead of just an empty apartment somewhere.

Heck, the whole dynamic around Flash and Green Lantern´s friendship came from the differences between this happily married guy and this one - night standing bachelor. When it was Green Lantern and Green Arrow it was not only two guys wearing the same colour and expecting people to not confuse them or think they are a couple, but they also were both pining over girls and trying to one - up another. And the big stories about Silver Age Flash involved his marriage in some way like the classic TRIAL OF THE FLASH which is currently available as a SHOWCASE PRESENTS.


Which - funny now that you mention it - is where people can go to read stories that have a Barry Allen who´s not married and which are 8 pages max. And I´m not knocking that. Everybody can read the kind of comics they like. Myself included. As I mentioned I bought SHOWCASE presents SUPERMAN FAMILY volume four, and while it doesn´t include highlights like Jimmy Olsen desecrating old viking burial grounds or traveling to the past with a time bomb it does have other gems like Jimmy Olsen´s transformations into the famous Wolfman, Elastic Lad, Giant Turtle Boy, gaining Superman´s power, traveling to the times of the Wild West without a chance of getting back and shaving his head to impersonate a mobster. I really dig those stories because they crack me up.


To come back to Barry Allen´s death in Crisis on Infinite Earths - and Didio´s comments about sacrifice - I don´t think it would´ve had the same impact if he wasn´t living happily ever after with Iris in the future.

I mean the same scene with a Barry Allen that was single and had nothing to loose - or worse one who was unhappily married and went all good riddance - would have definitely sucked. And this is the end for this part as I´m afraid we must discuss the rest of it in a future installment ( it IS my free day ). The whole marriage thing did get us a bit off topic - as did my pimping for some comics - but I hope we can continue with why Wally West was my favorite Flash some other day. Not in my next post because that will be all about SECRET WARS II ( yes, again ) and why I loved the new costumes for Spider - Man, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor.


For more on the whole anti marriage thing by DC I recommend you go to Graeme McMillan´s IN SICKNESS AND IN COSTUME : SUPERHEROES VS MARRIAGE and DC´S SUPER POWER BREAK UPS OT HE NEW 52 . And if you want to read a superhero series where things are as they should be and superheroes do indeed get married - and also pregnant - without things becoming boring I recommend Thomas F Zahler´s brilliant LOVE AND CAPES series of which the fourth trade is already available.


Also don´t forget to check out those issues of BACK ISSUE or ALTER EGO for more Silver and Bronze Age goodies, they are totally worth it.


Since I mentioned issue 122 of BATMAN Todays video at the end of the post is about the lead story THE MARRIAGE OF BATMAN AND BATWOMAN.

I´m sorry but it´s in french. Apparently there were some comic LPs floating around in Quebec and somebody really used the audio to make this animated version of the comic. I guess Dan Didio read this as a young boy and was so freaked out that he suffered a severe case of marriage phobia which apparently runs rampant to this day.

The reason why I´m posting this is because I think the story is pretty funny because in the end Robin is the one who puts the idea of Bruce Wayne marrying Kathy Kane into Bruce´s head. And because Batman is pretty much a dick in this story, insisting that Batwoman gives up her costumed identity because women belong in the kitchen and she´s so stupid somebody will probably unmask her and then it´s the end of his crime fighting career. Which of course happens because we all know women are stupid. Which makes kinda sense because it´s just a dream that Robin has in the end so it´s probably more about what Robin thinks about women. Man, I have to say, this is what Robin dreams when he is having a wild dream with Batwoman ? Ah, sweet innocence of youth.


But back to stupid women who get unmasked and ruin everything for male heroes. I guess back then it didn´t occur to anybody that Batman might become the one who gets unmasked and then it would also be lights out for Batwoman. But that probably never happened to male heroes back in those days. And I also want to give props to Batwoman for appropiating one of Bruce´s old Batman costumes and sewing it up for use in record time - even if it was a bit tight in certain spots ( I wonder what she meant with that ? ). I guess women were good for something back then, even if it was only sewing. So I hope you enjoy the video and who knows - this attitude towards women in comics is maybe coming back now.

There are two versions of the video on YouTube, one is the original french version which you can find here and the one I posted is also french but with english subtitles. I hope you enjoy THE MARRIAGE OF BATMUN AND BATWOMUN ( that´s not a typo. Just read the subtitles ) !



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Tuesday, October 01, 2013

This was my Secret Wars

I like to have a little variety in the subject matters of my postings so instead of the next part about Bob Layton, Warlord or Storm I think it´s time to start with my often postponed love letter to SECRET WARS II.


This all started with a posting by Terry Hooper on ComicBits Online about Secret Wars on which I commented. You do read his blog religiously ?

There are totally awesome posts about all kind of comics, comic related stuff or pop culture things as well as incredible finds on YouTube every day. I am always so tempted to post some of them here but I want you to check them out on Terry´s blog. He really deserves the traffic.

Anyway, writing the comments I realized that while SECRET WARS was the first big thing at Marvel SECRET WARS II was the first big company wide crossover and I really loved that. No, really. I ate it up with a sponge.

You may have noticed that the picture above is not from the regular american edition of SECRET WARS, rather it´s issue 78 of the french magazine SPIDEY that reprints the first issue of Les Guerres Secretes which asks the question " Qui est le Beyonder ? " Now the reason why I included this cover instead of the regular american cover is that this is a comic I actually have in my comic collection and it may well be that this was the first time I read the first issue of Secret Wars II. Although " read " might be exaggerating it a bit since I bought this comic while I was on a student exchange in France and my french was not that good. It was rather knowing a few words, guessing a few others and trying to find out what it all means. It was more like decrypting for beginners.

Now SPIDEY 78 is a 72 page comic magazine and while the cover shows John Byrne´s cover for SECRET WARS II this is not the lead story. That is X - MEN 65 ( which was long before the book was renamed Uncanny X - Men ) written by Dennis O´Neil which was the last issue by Neal Adams.


Strangely enough the page gutters are colored blue so when you hold the book you can see immediatelly which part is the one with Neal Adams art. But issue 1 of SECRET WARS II is still not the next feature. First up comes a page of which the top half is " Le courrier de Spidey " which is a letters page and the bottom half is the checklist of other magazines published by Editions LUG like NOVA, STRANGE, TITAN or OMBRAX - SAGA.


After that there is a three page text piece accompanied by a full page illustration about " Les Grands Explorateurs - John Hanning Speke ". Then - finally - comes SECRET WARS II issue 1, although billed as " GUERRES SECRETES - 13eme Episode ". Apparently Editions LUG just continued the numbering from issue 12 of Secret Wars much like FORUM did when they published it in spanish. The rest of SPIDEY 78 contains an issue of Power Pack ( of all things ) and another text piece, this time one and a half pages long accompanied by a full page illustration about " Le Lake Palace D`Udaipour - Un hotel de reve dans la Venise Orientale ". The bottom of this page and the following two pages are ads for issues of STRANGE SPEZIAL or STRANGE PRESENTS - LA SAGA DU SURFER D´ARGENT.


So there are all kinds of comics in this issue but I didn´t mind because I got SECRET WARS II issue 1 and also some fantastic art by Neal Adams. I was just happy to get the issue at all at that time and I didn´t care if it was the original version, the french version or the spanish version.  

But that´s how I read most of this series. Like I have mentioned in numerous posts when I started to get into reading american comics I still hadn´t figured out where to get them and so some of my Secret Wars II issues came from the newsstand at the international press at the big railway station in Stuttgart, others I found at the Comicbörse in Stuttgart. I bought some much later at one of the International Comic Salons in Erlangen in back issue bins and some issues I have only read in the spanish version. 


Like the comic above, issue 16 of Las Guerras Secretas, published by FORUM which came out in 1985. The series started with the original twelve issue mini series and then included every crossover issue.

Issue 16 includes UNCANNY X - MEN 196 written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Romita Jr and it´s one of my favorite comics ever. In the issue Professor Xavier hears the following thoughts in one of his lectures at Columbia University : " We´ve got no choice .... he knows who we are, he knows what we did ..... we´ve got to kill him ! "

Because he was mugged and nearly killed a few issues earlier ( issue 192 ) Professor Xavier can´t find out which of the students are involved so the X - Men try to find out who are the killers. The various members are occupied with the usual subplots and while the Beyonder makes two appearances no leads turn up. Kitty Pryde goes to check on the next suspects on the list when things take a turn for the worse.

 
Kitty finds the killers but they get the drop on her and after macing and chloroforming her decide to kill her as well. Rachel Summers, Magneto and Xavier encounter the Beyonder again and this time Rachel mindlinks them so they can see him unadvertingly setting of a mental booby trap Xavier set in an earlier issue. The backlash magnifies Rachel´s psychic energy causing a huge explosion which the killers mistake for their bomb getting off. Now they want to kill Kitty as well and as Rachel finds out she storms the room and knocks out all of them except one who has the bright idea of trying to shoot a telepath from behind. Just brilliant !


It is revealed that the students who want to kill Xavier are the same who attacked him earlier. Since they know that he´s a telepath they think he knows who attacked him and tried to kill him before he snitches.

Rachel wants to kill the guy who tried to shoot her not only because he attacked Xavier and tried to kill Kitty but also because she revealed her hound persona. In the future depicted in DAYS OF FUTURES PAST Rachel was forced to become a mutant hunting slave for the government finding other mutants who were than put into mutant concentration camps and ultimately killed. It´s Rachel´s secret shame, the black spot on her soul that the reader knows but so far her teammates were not aware of this.


Magneto manages to dissuade Rachel from stooping to their level in the end because he´s already been there and knows it´s not worth it ( I don´t want to go into too much detail about the conversation here because there are still readers out there who might not know the issue and I don´t want to take away from that experience unnecessarily ).


The issue has other nice or funny moments like Kitty Pryde trying to smoke one of Wolverine´s notorious stogeys with devastating results


but the main part centers on Rachel and Magneto and questions of morale and proportionality. How can you stop hatred and what can you do with people who are unable or unwilling to learn and accept that people are different ? When is killing justified and what is the price ? Of course the usual topics of racism, bigotry and prejudices also play into the story - as they do in most X - Men or mutant related stories from Marvel at that time - but the center stage is reserved for Rachel and Magneto who shows that there is more to him than most people believed at that time. Which went a big way in showing the X - Men, who were still distrusting him, why Xavier picked him to become headmaster of the school in his stead.


Now while the interaction by the Beyonder is only marginally and he is mostly observing here ( he interacts much more with the X - Men and Rachel in other issues ) it´s still a great story with wonderful art by John Romita Jr and Dan Green, who inked most of the issues of X - Men I read.


Here Magneto started to become the multilayered character he would eventually be known as for a long time - as well as the template that was used to some extent in the movies - even though editorial forces later on kept him constantly flipflopping from good to evil and back ad nausea.


Like I said, this is one of my favorite comics of all time but I´m not sure if I ever read it in the original version. I know I got the spanish FORUM issue but I think I got that long before I even knew what the heck a Secret War is. If memory serves me correctly ( and I´m pretty sure it doesn´t ) I also read one of the BIBLIOTEKA MARVEL volumes that contains the issues but as for the original - it´s a blank state. And that´s one of the reasons why I am one of those guys who would really buy an omnibus hardcover edition of SECRET WARS II. Because while the main story is not that memorable and some of the crossovers are rather unimpressive there are some real gems in there too. Like FANTASTIC FOUR 285 by John Byrne which has one of the most gut - wrenching stories I have ever read.


But that´s a topic for another post as I fear that we have once again reached the end. Before wrapping things up though I wanted to mention that issue 196 of UNCANNY X - MEN was published in the United Kingdom under a different cover with a clearly pasted in head of Rachel Summers.


I want to thank the STARLOGGED blog for providing the cover and you might want to check out their coverage of SECRET WARS II ( part 1 / part 2 ) to learn more about how Secret Wars II was published in the UK.

Also, if you want to read more about Uncanny X - Men issue 196 you can head over to Comics Chronology or read the recap on Rachel Summers com . Pierre Villeneuve at FLASHBACK UNIVERSE has an interesting post about the Omnibus edition of Secret Wars II ( don´t worry, although the name sounds very french - ish it´s written in english ) which you might want to read if you are thinking about buying it. He reveals an extra that alone might be worth the price and makes an interesting point that the books offers a nice overview of what Marvel was publishing at the time from Simonson to John Byrne who really was King of the Hill back then.

If you want to read the giant saga in the single issues format ( good luck with that, mate ) you might want to read this post from Steve Goble at his selftitled blog. Not only because he provides a reading order for those books but also because he lists all the secret cameos by people like Stan Lee or Superman and he has real insight as to why the story might not have worked as good as it could have. Food for thought, my brother.

A bit less favorable about the whole series being collected in a giant omnibus is ONCE UPON A GEEK in a post called SECRET WARS II COLLECTED - THIS IS SO WRONG included for the sake of impartiality.

And - last but not least - I want to thank the guys from Grand Comics Database without whom many of my posts couldn´t be done and who provided the much needed cover gallery for the spanish Secret Wars series as well as for the french Spidey magazine . Kudos to you, guys.


But this doesn´t end our discussion of SECRET WARS II as I´m afraid this is only the beginning. We have still much ground to cover like for example one of the best crossovers ever written by John Byrne on Fantastic Four - which I did mention in this post - as well as some crossovers that are not included in the omnibus. Over 1100 pages and they left stuff out.

My next post will probably be about another topic to keep things interesting which could mean more Warlord, more Storm, more Bob Layton Iron Man or another new and totally surprising topic as is most often the case. But I have to say it really did me a world of good to talk about Marvel like it used to be at the height of their game. Okay, they also did this whole crossover saga only because it was such a big hit and since it was about to be sold to New World Pictures they wanted a sequel. So money grabbing has always been a huge factor in how comics were done. But boy, the comics they DID produce had some real nuggets in them and at least they were done by comic creators instead of studio people who thought they knew how to write comics better than the pros.

Now for the video at the end of the post I couldn´t find a good one about Secret Wars II ( I wonder why that is ) so instead I´m posting one about a cartoon I´m currently watching.It´s the infamous SUPER FRIENDS cartoon.


For someone who did not see the show when it originally aired - or at any other point in time at all - like me it´s really entertaining to watch, especially in the mexican ( argentinian ? ) dubbed version where Batman´s secret identity is Bruno Diaz, Clark Kent´s friends are Luisa Lane, Pedro White and Jaime Olsen and Brainiac is called Cerebro.

I somehow got the seasons mixed up - there are just so many of them - and it´s really hard to watch the Super Friends with the Wonder Twins after seeing Challenge of the Super Friends. Man, compared to Super Friends witht he Wonder Twins Challenge of the Super Friends is really like big opera. There are so many characters - super heroes and villains - and each episode is so grandiose. After watching a documentary about FILMATION founder Lou Scheimer I got really interested in the whole Super Friends thing but I could write a separate post about that.



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