Thursday, December 11, 2014

It´s remembering Eric Masterson Thorsday

The year is nearing its end and I haven´t done a post this month yet. I promised to do more about DEATH IN COMICS and because it´s the day named after the norse god of thunder I thought it appropriate to write about one of my favorite periods of the book with the hammer dude.


This is not a test, this is 90s comics. I mean, yes, I´m serious and that´s the Absorbing Man and his faithful sidekick Sparky the Thunder Kid.

Now most when most people hear " Thor " and " Death in Comics " they will immediately think of Walter Simonson´s Thor run - which is still the gold standard - and the first thing that comes to mind is probably the death of Skurge, the Executioner at Gjallerbru. Or maybe the death of Odin ( just one of many in the title ) or Hela´s curse on Thor and his fight with the Midgard Serpent ( issue 382 which wrapped up that particular storyline is one of my favorite Thor issues of all time ) and I will come to that. But as I said Today´s post will be about the period after Walter Simonson left.


Tom DeFalco took over as a writer and Ron Frenz stepped in as regular penciler. Now a lot of people have issues with DeFalco and his time as editor in chief of Marvel but I don´t know enough about that to go into that whole hornet´s nest here and now. And of course there are some comic fans who don´t like his writing to which I only want to say that, well, tastes are different and that´s why there are so many different comic books out there. For some readers his writing is too much soap opera prone but in a dark time, when the Spider - Man books were full of clones he wrote one of the few books that had the old Marvel " House of Ideas " feeling to it, SPIDER - GIRL ( the other good Spider - book being UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER - MAN ). Tom wrote most of Marvel´s parallel universe and I thoroughly enjoyed books like A NEXT, JUGGERNAUT 2, FANTASTIC FIVE or the later mini series like LAST PLANET STANDING.


In GREEN LANTERN, Kyle Rayner was called " The torchbearer " because he was keeping the Green Lantern Corps alive when there were no Green Lanterns. I always found that a bit pompous but for me Tom DeFalco was that guy at Marvel. He wrote classic Marvel comics when no one else was.

So the name Tom DeFalco is not exactly a reason for me to skip books. But back to Thor, Tom DeFalco took over with 383 and like for most people who were reading the book it was the point where I was ready to leave. I mean Walter Simonson had stopped drawing the book with issue 367 and now he wasn´t even writing anymore. He had done his big opus and I guess at this point there was no reason to stick around any longer. Sal Buscema is one of my favorite artists and he did a tremendous job picking up the slack from Simonson but he also was out at this point.


And I would have left the book then - except that issue 383 was an untold story from SECRET WARS, which I read partially in the spanish editions.


And I have to say for me LAS GUERRAS SECRETAS sounds so much better although they only called it that within the stories. The official title that was on the cover of the books was MARVEL SUPERHEROES SECRET WARS.


Now I didn´t get to read the series when it came out in Spain but rather in the form of the cheap collected editions which were just 4 or 5 issues glued together with a carton. They also did SECRET WARS II this way.


Although they packed all the crossovers into the series as well so you could read it in chronological order without having to look for all the tie in issues like with the original american edition. Which I think they also did with the british version at least according to the covers I found online.


Okay, back to the spanish edition of SECRET WARS II. FORUM included all the crossovers which was something I really found wonderful because you got to sample those series that were not published in Spain at that time.

But because they were a part of the SECRET WARS II package to which FORUM had the license many series made their way to Spain even if it was just for one issue in some cases. And those comics were printed on good paper so if I ever get my hands on a copy of the SECRET WARS II omnibus this is the way for me to read those issues that are not included : MICRONAUTS and ROM. Anyway, as longtime readers know I am a big fan of the whole superheroes / villains / crossover / slugfest / hullabaloo ( as my previous posts on SECRET WARS II can attest ) so THOR 383 was right in my ballpark. Also Ron Frenz did the art with Brett Breeding inking, who in my opinion is one of the best inkers in all things metal and shiny.


When I was still a young lad struggling with art whenever I had to ink something metallic my two go - to - guys were Bob Layton and Brett Breeding. So I bought this issue which I liked and the next one I liked even more because it introduced us to Dargo, the Thor of the year 2537.


I like a good time travel story and while I didn´t know it Tom DeFalco was already planting seeds with the mystery of the vanished Thor and Dargo.


Thor 385 was written by Jim Shooter, art by Erik Larsen and inks by Vince Coletta and I think it was one of those stories that were in the shelf.

The policy was to do stories outside of the continuity - or sometimes they did them for the current continuity but for some reason they were not published and got saved for a later date which is when you got those " this happened between issue such and such " captions, more often than not with a new framing sequence. Those stories were put on hold so if the regular artist or writer was falling behind the deadline they could pull them out. Now on one side this was good for Marvel because that way they could make sure their books were always on time. For the readers it was a mixed bag because it interrupted the story that was going on and the art was often hit or miss. The guest artist could be really bad or it could be one of those lucky instances where you discover a new artist and follow him onto more great books. I wonder why comic companies don´t do that anymore. I mean they still have fill - in artists but with the slow speed of some artists you sometimes have three or four different artists on the same issue which in most cases is not very good. I can count the times that happened and all of the artists were really good or at least appropriate for the demands of the story with both hands. And with some books having huge gaps between when issues come out is the rule.

Okay, back to Thor, you know, I´m just realizing that I´m promoting another Thor trade with this whole post. Disney has stopped with the ESSENTIALS and is now doing these EPIC COLLECTION trades instead.


You know the reason behind this is that they found out that they can make more money that way, which is something I don´t want to help promote.

But I have to say that I haven´t seen one of those so I don´t know how the productions values are. On one side I always liked the ESSENTIALS because you can see the inks much better there, a fact that has done wonders for the sales of the TOMB OF DRACULA ESSENTIALS since Gene Colan´s art combined with Tom Palmer´s inks is just beyond words.


On the other side I also like Disney´s hardcovers of old material so if the coloring in the new trades is like that this may be a great way to read it.

The reason why I mention this is that I have the THOR EPIC COLLECTION : WAR OF THE PATHEONS trade in my amazon trolley which collects issue 383 to 400. I´m not sure if I should get it though because I DO have all the issues and I´m much more interested in the issues beyond THOR 400.


There are still a few issues I´m missing in my collection and there are not many trades from that period. There is the BLACK GALAXY SAGA trade and the THUNDERSTRIKE trade but the first one only contains one issue I´m missing and I have all the issues of the second one. Another reason why I´m reluctant with the epic collection is that lately I prefer to get comics in hardcover when they are available. With the two NEW TEEN TITANS omnibuses I have from DC the binding is not that good although it didn´t break like the STAR TREK BY JOHN BYRNE hardcover from IDW. On the other hand all the omnibus books I got from Marvel are excellently bound and from what I read on the internet this goes for all their omnibus editions. So while it´s not likely that Marvel is going to skip hundreds of issues just to do an omnibus of the stuff I want to read I´m not in a hurry to get this Thor trade. Unless it´s in the bargain section of amazon.

So I was still reading Thor and issue 386 introduced another new character who once again would play a greater role further down the line : Leir, the celtic god of lightning. I always liked the mythology of the different pantheons so having a chance to read about the gods of Avalon was cool. I also liked his visuals and that Thor was sporting the Walt Simonson armor ( or was it designed by Sal Buscema ? ) in the issue.


He also wore that battle armor in one of my favorite Thor three - part stories that was collected by Marvel as ALONE AGAINST THE CELESTIALS.


Whenever Thor decides to go up against the Celestials you know that the s - word hits the fan and all kind of crazy things are going to happen.


No matter if it´s Odin shouting : " I can´t kill my son. Not again ! " ( now that was one crazy story )or Mjölnir actually breaking into pieces - when it´s Asgardians against Celestials it´s on, baby, yeah ! Believe that !


Now the guys at Marvel must have felt the same way because in that time there were some trades and collections but very few that only contained three issues of a title. They did the standard six issue trades back then ( stemming from the fact that a lot of mini series came out in the six issue format ) and for them to do an only three issues trade that was special.


I think this was the point were I had become a regular reader without realizing it and in the next issues Thor re - united with the Avengers as Steve Rogers became one of the select few that could lift Thor´s hammer,


teamed up with Spider - Man to fight the Mongoose before the big story of the fight against the serpent god Seth and the egyptian gods started that culminated in the big anniversary issue 400. Brett Breeding slowly did less and less inking on the book with Al Milgrom, Don Heck and TITANS inker Romeo Tanghal pitching in until Joe Sinnot took over with issue 400.


Ron Frenz changed his art a bit so it all looked more like Jack Kirby´s TALES OF ASGARD but I have to admit I didn´t see it at that time. But they wanted to go back to that kind of stories with Thor back in Asgard.      


And with that it´s once again time to come to the end even if I didn´t get to talk that much about Eric Masterson. But don´t surrender or yield to despair my brothers in arms, we will come back to Eric Masterson and Thor - hell, a full on Thor Corps even - when we continue with this topic.

   
For those of you who are just craving for more Thor goodness from that time head on over to MARVEL COMICS IN THE 1980s and check out their posts on THOR 345 - 348 , THOR 383 and THOR 384 . You can also find posts about THOR issue 383 on SUPERMEGAMONKEY`S MARVEL COMICS CHRONOLOGY , SCANS DAILY and BIFF BAM POP ! Kudos to you, guys,

I started Today´s post with a cover of ( Eric Masterson ) Thor and the Absorbing Man so here is an episode from the classic 1966 cartoon with both of them. What I like about this series is that it uses the original drawings as Kirby knocked it out of the ballpark on THE MIGHTY THOR.


Just Yesterday I got the first three THOR ESSENTIALS at a bargain price ( which I may have to give away as a backup Chrsitmas present if the one I ordered does not arrive in time ) and it is all Jack Kirby goodness. Enjoy.



Keeping on with the theme of Thor on tv here´s that terrible Thor outfit from when Thor appeared in THE INCREDIBLE HULK in 1988. And as bad as Thor looked not even the tv people were crazy enough to turn him into a girl. That tells you enough about how stupid that storyline is. OODIIN !



Another Thor / Hulk meeting, this time from the 90s HULK cartoon. That´s another thing that was huge in the 90s, comic cartoon shows.



Both these clips are pretty short so here´s a longer one for all my readers who like longer videos and speak spanish. I hope you liked LA TUMBA DE DRACULA and here´s QUIEN ES PASAJEO NO 11 ? I have to admit that I know nothing abut the movie but it´s from 1986 and the animation looks pretty decent. And yes, the inversed question mark at the beginning is right. In the spanish language you have inversed question marks as well as inversed exclamation marks at the beginning of the sentence so you know before you start reading it instead of finding out what kind of a sentence it is at the end of it. Makes sense, no ? Well, it does to me.



Closing things up for Today is Yaya Han, this time not cosplaying as Chun Li or Power Girl but not in the least less cleavaged at the 2014 San Diego Comic Con. She´s her own character that´s supposed to appear in a comic and I´m not sure if this is connected to George Perez´ SIRENS. 



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