Saturday, July 25, 2015

Marvel Visionaries - Chris Claremont part 1

In my last post about the Marvel Visionaries hardcovers I wrote that it took me five hours to get all the necessary pictures for the post. Well, that was super fast compared to this post because it took me ten days.

That doesn´t mean that I was working non - stop on preparing the stuff for the post the last ten days. There are many other things I did as well.

Like working on my JLA casting posts which I do inbetween normal posts. I usually work on them late at night when I can´t sleep because of the heat and in those cases I really put a lot of sweat into them because I do nothing but. It´s really insane how hot it gets. It used to be that the heat didn´t bother me as much since I always said the hotter the better. But I don´t know what it is now, if it´s the age finally catching up to me or if it´s my health faltering these last months but on some days I don´t get anything done. I can´t sleep all night long, during the day I´m trying to get some sleep but sometimes the neighbours are very loud doing some construction or what not and I can´t catch a wink. Every other day I have physio and on the days I don´t I´m too wiped out to do much of anything.

And so on some days the computer stays off and on some days I just don´t have the brain capacity to work on a real post so I fidget with my JLA posts. Which means I write some stuff, read it a few days later, erase it again because it was not safe for work, add a few pictures, add some more stuff, put up the videos that go into the post, write the text for the videos, now the post is much too long so it has to be split up, then I have to split up the videos, add some new ones, rearrange a post because it was all asian girls, put up header pictures for all posts, look for some comic relevant things I can add, write the intro and repeat it all again.

So I´m not working on one post, I´m kind of working on all of them at the same time which means I can pick the one I´m in the mood for. Maybe one day I want to work on the Janet Jackson post or the post with Akira Lane, the next time I just want to work on the videos while the next time I try to finish the posts where the main text pieces are already done and I only have to go over the video section and the comic book related intro.

There are also days when I am looking for material for my next post and with this post it was because I wanted to do it right. When I write a post the normal procedure is that I look what kind of pictures I already have on the laptop, then I do a quick search for reference on the internet or look for more pictures as the need arises. But I quickly realized that this time that was not going to do it because if I had started looking for stuff while writing the post it would have taken me those ten days to finish the post.

Because there were just a few pictures I had before and when you really want to pimp this book ( which I´m mostly doing for my german readers since you can still get it at for 16 EUROS ) you have to show some of the amazing art of the high caliber artists Chris Claremont has worked with during his career like the incredible Barry Windsor Smith. 

Or the often underrated Alan Davis. I can´t for the life of me understand why he is not a superstar artist or why EXCALIBUR was so neglected by fans. Maybe it really was ahead of its time with it´s combination of funny yet serious mutant mayhem and character driven epic adventure stories.

Or how about Bill Sienkiewicz on NEW MUTANTS ? I have to admit I wasn´t his biggest fan when he started out because I thought he was just lazy scribbling all over the place and when I started reading NEW MUTANTS they had already gone to various fill in artists followed by Butch Guice who at that time still went by Jackson Guice. But come on, you have to show a little something something of his artistic genius in a book review, right ?

So I waited with this post until I felt I have enough material together to do it properly and any extra stuff I need I´ll just have to do it on the fly.

Like I said in my last post about the Marvel Visionaries hardcover books these posts are not me trying to pimp Marvel or Disney. The way they are going about right now you can´t even recognize the characters anymore. I´m writing the posts because I think that these books have an excellent comic value for money ratio and if Disney would be doing them right now they would probably go for much more than thirty bucks. And at sixteen bucks that´s an even sweeter deal. Also like I mentioned in the other post most of the guys who jump the comic bandwagon just to be cool may know who Stan Lee is and maybe Jack Kirby but have no idea who Chris Claremont is. But you can be sure that once they find out these books are going to demand the same astronomic prices the omnibus hardcovers are going for right now. So you better buy them while you can afford them.

Like with the MARVEL VISIONARIES - JOHN ROMITA JR book these are all reprints and I have read most of the stories in some form or another but there are also a few I haven´t read before. If you are only interested in the Disney NOW universe this is probably not the right book for you. It also is not very suited to give you a lot of background information since it contains stories from many series divided by decades in some cases. But if you want a nice collection of some of Chris Claremont´s best and best known stories for your bookshelf to take out now and then it delivers.

In the last Marvel Visionaries post I went back and forth with the stories but here I´ll do them in the order they are printed in the book because that shows you not only an evolution in Chris Claremont as a writer but also the evolution in the x - universe which is a big part of this. As I have no insider at Marvel I don´t know for sure why these stories were picked but that hasn´t stopped me from speculating before. It´s really hard to know but on the other side it doesn´t really matter because are there really any bad Chris Claremont stories from this period ? What I do know is that a lot of the stories are standalone issues or at least issues that can be read without knowing other stories, there are a lot of fan favorite stories in here and stories that are not reprinted anywhere else. And there are no stories that will pop up in any other Marvel Visionary books.

The first story is DAREDEVIL 102 and as far as I can tell it was included because it was Chris Claremont´s first issue writing for Marvel Comics.

It´s the next issue when things get interesting, MARVEL FANFARE 11, where the combo of Chris Claremont and John Byrne first teamed up. 

Which is one of the reasons why this book might get up in price : it´s got Star Lord in it and ever since the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXIES movie everything with the Guardians or Star Lord in it sells like hot cupcakes.

And this story not only has the original Star Lord in the cool costume - not the Grifter rip off with the facemask he wore in the movie - but it also is his origin story. I read this first in the german edition of Ehapa´s DIE GROSSEN PHANTASTIC COMICS but I could swear the comic was in color.

I have no idea why they chose to print the black and white version - if they wanted to stick to the original or they didn´t have the color version and this is the one comic missing in Ralp Macchio´s Marvel collection - but it is kind of a violent break in the book since the rest is in color.

The next issue is IRON FIST 14 where the creative team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne went next to work their combined magic.

If you can trust the internet gossip - and we all know how accurate that is - there´s an Iron Fist series in the works which together with the Netflix Daredevil series and the Luke Cage series will culminate in an Heroes for Hire series which is another reason why this book might rise in value.

As for the story itself, no disrespecting Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction and David Aja but Chris Claremont´s and John Byrne´s IRON FIST series is a thing of beauty. Chris really grabs you with that second person narrative and nobody draws kung fu fighting like John. If you want to do yourself a favor you got to get the ESSENTIAL or MARVEL MASTERWORKS of this.

IRON FIST 14 is one of the most reprinted comics - it even had a Marvel Milestone edition - because it´s the first appearance of Sabretooth. Who was created by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. In the story Daniel Rand ( who is not a teenager like in the terrible ULTIMATE SPIDER - MAN cartoon which just shamelessly tries to pander to the non comic reading masses ) and Coleen Wing are on the run, get caught in a blizzard and a snowblind Iron Fist has to go up against Sabretooth which means he can´t use his Iron First power. Which is basically what the readers were waiting for in each issue. You knew that it was just a matter of time before Daniel opened a can of whup ass on his opponents by summoning his chi — the essence of his spirit and strength, channeling its raw power down into his arm, into his hand until that hand becomes LIKE UNTO A THING OF IRON.

Which brings us to UNCANNY X - MEN issue 137, the death of Jean Grey. Can you make a book about Chris Claremont and NOT include this ? His run on the book with John Byrne is still the gold standard, the best stories are The Dark Phoenix Saga and Days of Future Past and the best issue from that is the death of Jean Grey issue. Even the covers are so iconic that both will be featured in upcoming DEJA VUE posts. Now they could have chosen to reprint the original version from PHOENIX - THE UNTOLD STORY ( if you don´t know what this is I covered it in this post ) but I guess they wanted to stay with the version everybody knows and loves.

I don´t want to comment too much on the issue because I still hope I can do a DEATH IN COMICS : THE DEATH OF JEAN GREY post on of these days but this one has it all. You have the band coming together one more time in a battle against the Legion of Super - Heroes ( which the Shi´Ar´s Imperial Guard basically is ) for the life of one of their beloved members.

The epic battle takes place in the blue area of the moon which leads to Wolverine paying a visit to the Watcher´s crib, you have fastball specials on the moon and Jean Grey making the ultimate sacrifice in the end. It still holds up - even after Jean Grey´s death had been retconned by John Byrne - and there´s a reason why it´s THE classic Uncanny X - Men story. 

Let´s continue. With our next issue in the book we leave the confines of the x - men universe, or better said we go to the point where it connects with the Avengers universe in the famous AVENGERS ANNUAL number 10.

Why is it famous ? For three things. First up it´s the debut of Rogue who went on to become on of the most popular X - Men members. So this also raises the value of this collection for geek speculators. Originally she was slated to debut in MS MARVEL 25 but the series was cancelled so she first appeared in AVENGERS ANNUAL 10. That´s just one of the things I can´t understand. MS MARVEL 24 was finished and MS MARVEL 25 was half done but they decided to cancel it with issue 23. It´s the same crap as with Jack Kirby´s KAMANDI series that was cancelled although there was one more finished issue to be published. Anyway, in 1992 Marvel DID publish the final issues of MS MARVEL in MARVEL SUPER HEROES 10 and 11 and you can check out some of the pages in SCANS DAILY post on the history of Mystique´s and Ms Marvel which fills you in on the events leading up to Rogue absorbing Carol Danvers powers, personality and memories and leaving her basically a braindead vegetable. Which is reason number 2.

AVENGERS ANNUAL 10 is where this pivotal moment happens - not only in Rogue´s life but also in the life of Carol Danvers - that leads to everything that followed like her gaining new super powers and adopting the persona of Binary. As well as hanging with the X - Men for a while before becoming a members of the Starjammers and her long journey to becoming human again and finally returning to the Avengers active roster under the name of Warbird during the AVENGERS series by Kurt Busiek and George Perez.

Kurt Busiek picked up on the clusterf AVENGERS 200 in LIVE KREE OR DIE ! and later on she met another version of Marcus in THE KANG DYNASTY. 

Can you also hear the comic geek chique cash register go KA - CHINK ?

Last but not least AVENGERS ANNUAL 10 is Chris Claremont Sticking Up for Ms. Marvel as the guys from CBR put it so eloquently in their Meta Messages post that also goes over the events of AVENGERS 200 where Ms. Marvel gave birth to the guy who had impregnated her - time travel can be tricky - and the Avengers´ reaction to this was to sent her off with him to another dimension basically to be raped without much consideration.

If this infamous story is new to you ( right now the comic bandwagon hopping hipsters are probably having an orgasm ) check out the link above and you can read the final pages of AVENGERS ANNUAL 10 - which has absolutely gorgeous artwork by Michael Golden - on SCANS DAILY .

And with this I´m ending this post since it would get too long otherwise. Next up is another JLA casting post that oddly enough touches on Frank Miller´s SIN CITY and afterwards we will return to MARVEL VISIONARIES - CHRIS CLAREMONT where we may talk about Frank Miller on the first Wolverine series but definitely about Bill Sienkiewicz on NEW MUTANTS, Barry Windsor Smith on UNCANNY X - MEN and Alan Davis on EXCALIBUR.

Before wrapping up I have to mention two posts, CBR´s Top Five Most Heroic X - Men Deaths which includes the death of Jean Grey and MARVEL COMICS OF THE 80s post on John Byrne´s AVENGERS WEST COAST .

I´m starting Today´s video section with two videos that I should have posted in my DAYS OF FUTURE PAST post but didn´t want to insert after the fact, the first one explains everything you need to know about it.

The second one goes over the two issues that make up the story.

Our next one is an interview with the master himself from THE DRAWN WORD TV where he talks about - among other stuff - writing the X - MEN.

I had to compromise with Today´s cartoon video as it seems that you either have a video with no huge border around OR good quality on YouTube. But you can´t have both. So I opted for better quality and hope you don´t mind the giant border on part one of THE PHOENIX SAGA.

Last but not least here is the trailer for the newest Bond movie which I lifted off Terry Hopper´s COMICBITS ONLINE blog. I made the mistake of watching it and was so psyched I had to re watch SKYFALL. Be warned !

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

No comments: