Friday, April 11, 2014

Like a book out of hell - fan the flame

I know you expected something special for the 8th anniversary post but I had everything already lined up for this post so instead we´re going to continue with our look at the X - MEN : INFERNO crossover books.

I still haven´t found the time to re - read the hardcover collection I got from amazon but I did read the next ones we are going to talk about - AVENGERS and FANTASTIC FOUR - as they came out back in the day.


Now before we get to the meat and bones of the post I wanted to mention that one of the reasons why I decided to delve into the netherrealm of old 80s Marvel crossovers is that the INFERNO storyline was never published in german - at least the main part with the X - Men and all the important mutants. That´s right, here in Germany one of the most important sagas ( where resolution of plot points which have been dangling for decades is concerned ) was deemed not important enough to be published. Condor was publishing Marvel Comics around the time and while the X - Men had two formats they stopped just before that with the floppies at issue 16

and with the much dreaded pocket books at issue 21 which still was in the period when John Romita Jr was penciling the book as you can see.

With other titles like FANTASTIC FOUR, AVENGERS or the SPIDER - MAN books they were further ahead the publishing schedule so german readers got some of the crossovers but not the main story which was a bit weird.

Although not as weird as when Panini started publishing the X - Men again and the entire mutant landscape was different. I mean, they not only skipped INFERNO but also MUTANT MASSACRE, FALL OF THE MUTANTS also everything by Jim Lee and began right before AGE OF APOCALYPSE.

Which is one of my favorite alternate reality X - Men stories and not only because Joe Madureiras was really firing on all cylinders then. It was a really cool story and one of the few instances where the fans prevailed over the comic critics who have downtalked this event since day one. But I still think it would have been better if the guys at Panini would have gone back a bit further than that when they brought the X - Men back.

So for german readers there were huge chunks of x - continuity missing and while some were published later on INFERNO wasn´t among them.

And I really have no idea because I tried - very unsuccessfully - for years the get german publisher Panini to release it. But the answers were always the same. Either the quality of the art wasn´t there ( yeah, who would pay money for such hacks like Marc Silvestri, Walter Simonson or Brett Blevins ) or nothing important happened ( like the resolution to the whole Madelyne Pryor thing, who she really was, what became of her, what the deal was with Scott Summer´s baby, you know, the one who becomes Cable later on, hello the entire Cable backstory ? etc, etc ) or they just didn´t want to do it. I have talked to a few german comic readers who bought the INFERNO hardcover when I pimped it on my blog way back when amazon offered it at a real bargain price or who opted for the ESSENTIAL version. They were all numbstruck by the sheer amount of absolutely important things for the x - teams that happen. Most of them can´t understand why it was never released in Germany and neither can I.

But that´s not what I wanted to discuss in this post since the mysteries behind german comic book publishing have baffled the wise ones ( as well as those with simple common sense ) for centuries. Coming back to the pocket books by Condor all german readers love ( not really ) I want to point out that it hasn´t been easy to find out which parts of the INFERNO crossovers have been published in Germany. Which should be easy, right ?

Just look for the ones that have the corresponding covers from the US issues and that´s that. Well, it´s not as simple. You see, some of the pocket books really did have the same covers as the original version.

On others they didn´t even bother with the original covers and just took some images from the comic to make their own cover, oh the humanity !

And sometimes they redid the cover so extensively that it´s almost unrecognizable. Here is the cover to SPECTACULAR SPIDER - MAN 148

and this is what was left after the guys at Condor had their way with it :

They look like two totally unrelated covers if it weren´t for the identical tombstones. Everything else was taken out from the original cover and they filled it up with other stuff like Hawkeye fighting some villain. Oy.

Which might have been the back up story, because back then they used anything they could get their hands on to fill those 48 pages. Another reason why they made their own cover may have been that they thought the original cover was too scary for german readers. Also you don´t want to land on the Index of Writings Harmful to Young Persons, which happens very quickly here in Germany so most publishers exercise a form of self censorship before they can get censored. Germans are big on censorship.

But back to the INFERNO storyline and how it was published in Germany. While the main story is still unpublished here to this very day big parts of the crossovers did see the light of day in various scattered publications. Unfortunately most of it was in the form of pocket books where you could not see much of the art and the text was cut to 30 percent of the original content - at least. So even if you have read the german version it´s still worth getting the omnibus to finally see the art in good reproduction and to be able to read the story in its entirety. Not to mention the parts that we never got in Germany like the issues of EXCALIBUR or POWER PACK.


Now, when we last left the Avengers - there were no Avengers ! Jarvis had his solo action ( or was about to get some ), the Avengers were still very much disbanded and out of business while Steve Rogers a.k.a The Captain just jumped into the brawl to get his hands on a few demon delinquents.

Like I already said in my last post about the INFERNO CROSSOVERS, the very nature of the Avengers dictates that they redefine themselves from time to time by splitting up, changing their roster or even ceasing to exist for short periods of time. But you always know that the Avengers will be back to fight those foes no single superhero can withstand.

So it´s no big surprise that issue 299 starts immediately sowing the seeds for what shall be one of the shortest teams of Avengers. Because two of the members never make it beyond issue 300. I´m talking about Reed and Sue Richards who return to the Fantastic Four as soon as the crisis with Franklin is averted. Which I found a brilliant way to bring in Marvel´s first family : the demons are abducting babies and who is the most powerful infant in the Marvel universe ? Franklin Richards. Although he´s not abducted by demons ( at least not at first ) but by Nanny and the Orphan Maker, two villains who are not really popular with the Marvel readership.

And speaking about guys who weren´t popular I don´t think many Avenger readers remember the horny guy Walt Simonson introduced in this issue. What was his name again ? Oh yes, Gilgamesh ( I had to look it up ).

He was one of the Eternals who had been absent so long from Earth that everybody had forgotten about him. Which was why he was called The Forgotten One and we have Reed to thank for naming him Gilgamesh.

Gilgamesh has never gotten much fans and he´s always on the list of most insignificant Avengers members or The Top Ten Avengers who will never make it to the Big Leagues . It´s not only the name that gets associated with one of the worst CGI movies it´s also having one of the ugliest costumes ever. And then there´s all the pathos surrounding him. I think the only ones who could make such a character work would be Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis if they used the angle that people would keep forgetting him, a gimmick they already employed to great effect in the METAL MEN back up series which ran in Keith Giffen´s DOOM PATROL.

They had a new member called Copper and they always forgot about her. They either forgot her completely or forgot where she was supposed to be or what she said and sometimes even her name. The series was just full of brilliant ideas and I have to say I´m a little pissed that I bought all the issues of DOOM PATROL to read it - only to learn later on that the Metal Man parts were released as part of the DC COMICS PRESENTS line.

Which is a really great reprint line if you want to get your hands on a big chunk of reading material cheap. They have Mark Farmer´s and Alan Davis´ SUPERBOY`S LEGION, issues of SUPERMAN ADVENTURES, THE KENTS, LEGION OF SUPER - HEROES and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents.

There´s even an issue which contains the first 4 issues of Gene Colan´s and Marv Wolfman´s NIGHT FORCE series which I just had to get as a Gene Colan fan. Another series I have to look for in Erlangen. Sigh.

In any case, you just have to check out METAL MEN by Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis and Kevin Maguire. I hate to say it but the series is only half as hilarious without his pencils. I´m not kidding, there are some parts done by guest artists and they are not as good as the real deal. This book has my highest recommendation and at eight bucks it doesn´t cost the world.

And I´m afraid that´s all we have time for Today. I thought this would be a quick post to write because I already had all the pictures I needed and then I go into all this other stuff that wasn´t scheduled. Just typical.

Anyway, we´ll have to continue with the INFERNO CROSSOVERS in the next part where we will talk more about the Avengers, their new roster with the horny guy and issue 300, which was a Big 64 Page Spectacular.

So that was the post for the big 8th year anniversary of this blog. I thought it would be more about the Inferno issues instead of german cover crimes, the Metal Men and Night Force but that´s how it goes.

Last year I didn´t get to write a post on the anniversary - in fact I didn´t manage to write the whole month of April - so I don´t know how the stats compare to last year. What I DO know is that I finally managed to crack the 1,000 clicks per day bar ( twice already ) and that I also just went over 750,000 page views. Also I think that the quality as well as the regularity of my posts have improved. Or at least haven´t deteriorated which isn´t too bad either. I just wish I could have enjoyed it more.

Okay, enough with the self centered BS, here are the usual links which this time are all over the place - just like this post. A DISPENSABLE LIST OF COMIC READS has Recommended Reads : Metal Man for all those who don´t know where to begin reading ( they also recommend The Brave and the Bold 187 which I mentioned in my last Jim Aparo post ) and there´s another review at the G33K Life blog. At least I think that´s the name. I also want to mention THE RAGING FANBOY blog where I found the bit with Doc Magnus and Platinum. SCANS DAILY has a post on Night Force 8 , that provided the cover I posted here and RAGGED CLAWS NETWORK has a post with scans from issue 4 . The post covers the announcement of a NIGHT FORCE trade in 2011 that was pushed back to 2012 and hasn´t been heard of since. At least to my knowledge. What´s up with that DC ?

Since a lot of Todays post has been about german comics I want to pimp a new german comic show on YouTube. The name is Geekplauze and my brother made me aware of it. Man, if he continues with this I would have to pay him royalties if I earned any money with this. Of course I picked the video about the controversy of Power Girl´s missing boob window.

So I didn´t manage to do my 450th post on the big anniversary but I think with any luck I can still do something special for that occasion. It´s only two posts away and I already have something in mind although it depends on my latest order from amazon arriving on time. For now I want to thank my readers for the last 8 years, I hope you had fun reading my ramblings and here´s the promised video from Comicplauze with some graphic novel reviews and - most important - Power Girl and her boob window. Enjoy !

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

1 comment:

Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

Hey, man -DO NOT mess with the Big G (or Gilgamesh). I read the Gilgamesh epic at school and he's been a favourite since -he even cameos in Return of the Gods! It looks like the Marvel artists TRIED -very loosely at that- to get an Assyro-Babylonian outfit as was fitting but really had no idea what that looked like! The horned helmet...oy. NOT Assyro-Babylonian. I like this post because it involves the Avengers and brings back memories of things I've forgotten and once I find the box with those later Avenger issues no one'll see me for a week!
Keep up the fun postings -and I still like some of those German comic covers!