Friday, September 25, 2015

It was no Secret War, it was an Armor War !

Like I predicted in my last post to honor Bob Layton´s birthday we get to continue our look on his work on IRON MAN with the ARMOR WARS II story line that reunited him with artist John Romita Jr exactly one year later.

Even if Bob Layton only wrote the first issue - IRON MAN 256 - and then handed the writing reigns over to John Byrne it´s one of John Romita Jr´s best IRON MAN stories so I wanted to include it here. But before we come to that there are some things I have to address first concerning my last Bob Layton birthday post on this and another post where I mentioned this.

I don´t know if you remember this post but I posted links to Andrew Porwitzky´s series of posts on the ARMOR WARS ( or ARMOUR WARS if you read the pocket book from Panini UK ) he did over at SIDEKICKCAST for all those who haven´t read it yet and the rest who want to relive this fantastic story line. Well, I only posted the first three chapters because at that time that was all but in the meantime Andrew has finished the series and if you want to read part 4 , part 5 , part 6 and part 7 use the links.

Now the other thing is that a lot of readers might want to check this out with a more hands - on approach which means they want to get their hands on actual issues but not all of them want to go hunt back issues.

Which I can understand. Under normal circumstances you can find these issues easily in back issue bins since they should not be in high demand.

Those issues are old and even if a lot of people have fond memories of them you should not pay more than a buck an issue. Yes. Under normal circumstances. Now if you read Terry Hooper´s COMIC BITS ONLINE blog which you can find on the blogroll to the right ( which you need to read religiously to get all the trends and movie intel months BEFORE the " big " comic / movie news websites post it as " hot news " ) you know that the comic market is kind of crazy right now and some comic dealers may charge you an arm and a leg for these comics because they are " hot " , " in demand " and because it will surely " be in the next Iron Man movie " - it won´t. They may also try to talk you into the newest dreck Disney paddles as Armor Wars and I can only warn you not to fall for this crap.

Now the cheapest way to read these issues is to get the pocket books from Panini UK but there are only two out from this period collecting DEMON IN A BOTTLE and ARMOUR WARS. If you live in the UK you can get those in comic and book stores, if you live outside the UK you´ll have to get them from amazon or Thalia like me. The format is smaller but at least you don´t have to bear with a sub - par translation. DEMON IN A BOTTLE is also available from Hachette´s Offical Marvel Collection in german but since I already own the IRON MAN by David Micheline, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr Omnibus AND the regular hardcover edition I didn´t buy it so I can´t tell you how good the translation on this one is.

Now besides the pocket books DEMON IN A BOTTLE is available in trade and hardcover in good comic shops and it´s also in THE POWER OF IRON MAN, which is the copy I have. It´s a rather old trade and doesn´t include the covers but if you can´t find it any other version this one is good too.

The next collection is of course DOOMQUEST which collects issues 149, 150, 249 and 250, again in trade and hardcover. The next ones are not listed in many databases and are a bit less sought after. First up is THE MANY ARMORS OF IRON MAN - as the name implies it is centered around the first appearances of Tony Stark´s new armors like the stealth armor, the space armor, the underwater armor or the silver centurion armor.

Therefore the issues included here are a bit hodge podge but to round up your library of the IRON MAN dream team David Micheline, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr it´s a worthy addition. The trade collects issues 47, 142 - 144, 152 - 153, 200 and 218. Some of you may remember that I said I didn´t have issue 200 in my collection but it seems I read it and then forgot. You might also want to check out issue 46 of the third volume of IRON MAN ( which is also numbered as issue 391 of the first volume ) which is a 100 PAGE MONSTER and reprints issues 78, 140 and 141.

If you see a 100 PAGE MONSTER you have to grab it because they always give you a read that´s your moneys worth and there are always issues which are hard to find or haven´t been reprinted before like the last two in this comic which come directly before the ones in THE MANY ARMORS OF IRON MAN. It´s a shame Marvel didn´t make more of these issues.

Speaking of IRON MAN 200 you can also find that issue in the IRON MONGER collection which includes all the issues from number 193.

And now we finally get to ARMOR WARS - well, almost. There exists a ARMOR WARS PROLOGUE book which contains issues 215 to 224 which should be available in trade and hardcover. As is the ARMOR WARS book which has issues 225 to 232. I don´t think there is a collection that falls into the issues between this and the ARMOR WARS II trade / hardcover which contains issues 258 to 266 of IRON MAN but I could be wrong. As I mentioned in my post about the MARVEL VISIONARIES : JOHN ROMITA JR hardcover it reprints the first issue of ARMOR WARS II, IRON MAN 256 as well as issue 128 - which is the last part of DEMON IN A BOTTLE story.

There is also a trade called IRON MAN - ARMOR WARS that does not reprint the classic story - except issue 225 - but rather the IRON MAN & THE ARMOR WARS miniseries by Joe Caramagna and Craig Rousseau. I have no idea about the quality of the work since I have never seen a copy but if you are looking for the classic ARMOR WARS stories this is no it.

And last but not least there is THE DRAGON SEED SAGA paperback with art by Paul Ryan which almost finished up John Byrne´s run on the book. There was a two part story guest starring the Black Widow after this.

Now you might say : " But what about the new Epic Collections from Disney, SUBZERO ? There are four with Iron Man already out and two of them collect stuff from this period of the title. What about them ? " 

Well, if you have read my latest posts you know that I really can not recommend them with a clean conscience. Not because of the quality of the material in them or the quality of the reproduction but more because of the low production quality. 35 bucks is a lot of money for a trade where I have to be afraid of breaking it every time I read it because there is not enough gutter to open it properly. So far I have only three of these trades and all have the same problem. And I don´t think I can say much more on that unless Disney wants to send me some free review copies. So far I have to pay for all my comics out of my own pocket and I´m not willing to chance 35 bucks on a trade that might self destruct from just reading it.

Having said that now that the ESSENTIALS have been canceled the Epic Collections might be without alternative - like Angela Merkel is so proud of saying - so there might be no way around it. At least they picked some stuff that wasn´t reprinted before like issues 158 to 177 in THE ENEMY WITHIN which continues right on from the IRON MAN by David Micheline, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr Omnibus and has Tony Stark´s descend into alcoholism and James Rhodes taking up the mantle of Iron Man. From what I read in reviews people like the material but the collection ends in the middle of the story and with the Epic Collections presenting the series out of order the customers are not too happy about that. Maybe Disney should have bent the rules a bit on this one. There is also STARK WARS - now that Disney has bought Marvel AND Lucasfilms they can go back to using the original title - which has issues 215 to 232, which is from the return of David Micheline and Bob Layton until the end of ARMOR WARS. 

Here Disney clearly does a better job of assembling a package of issues that can be read in one satisfying sitting as it does with the WAR GAMES trade which collects John Byrne´s complete run on the IRON MAN title.

Okay, it doesn´t include issues 256 and 257 but since I already have the first one somewhere else that wouldn´t be a too big of a detriment to buying it. They have even announced DUEL OF IRON which continues the James Rhodes as Iron Man stories from issue 178 to 195 which closes the gap to the IRON MONGER trade. As for the omnibus your best course of action is to buy them at full price at your local comic shop if they have it because the prizes at amazon are between 200 and 250 bucks. Like I said, comic prices at the moment are totally out of touch with reality !

And that´s all for Today. I didn´t get to write that much about the ARMOR WARS II story itself but I had to sleep a few hours because I spent the last night re - working my post about Sabrina Salerno for her birthday this year. Yes, I know that was in March but what can I say ? The night before I had really bad stomach cramps and that´s what I do to relax. So I didn´t really get to celebrate Bob Layton´s birthday Today - even my brother did not let me watch the first IRON MAN movie - but better luck next year.

Only kidding, I hope it doesn´t take me another year until I can continue this. Although with the way things work out around here - who knows ?

Well, what I DO know is that next up is another part of SUBZERO´S EDITION of CASTING THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA MOVIE which this time includes Krista Santoro, Kari Wuhrer and asian all stars Akira Lane, Jasmine Mai and cosplay goddess Yaya Han. The post with 80s porn star Sarah Louise Young should have been next in line but I just put a lot of work into this one by adding a lot of animated GIFs I made by myself so I want to post it as long as the videos from YouTube are still working. 

Now before we come to the video section I want to include Darren´s really extensive review of the IROM MAN omnibus by David Micheline, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr on THE M0VIE BLOG. I don´t think I have posted it before and it is really helpful if you think about buying this.

After his work for Marvel Bob Layton was one of the main founders of VALIANT COMICS who created such great comics like X - O MANOWAR, SHADOWMAN, ARCHER & ARMSTRONG, BLOODSHOT and HARBINGER which have all been resurrected in recent years. This video is from the third anniversary of the original Valiant company and like with CrossGen I think the people involved only knew what they had after it was gone. The best part is Bob Layton´s hair - if you wonder where Moebius´ inspiration for Gary Oldman´s haircut in THE FIFTH ELEMENT movie comes from.

Since this is a birthday post - kind of - a birthday serenade is in order but instead of the usual " Happy birthday to you " song I chose one of my favorite songs. When James Rhodes catches fire in the Iron Man suit he´s on his way back from an outer space station so I thought the RAH Band with their 80s smash hit Clouds Across The Moon might fit the bill.

Since I could not find a good comic related IRON MAN video here´s a BBC comic documentary that I had bookmarked ages ago and almost could not find. THE SECRET OF DRAWING - STORYLINES takes a look at telling a story with pictures in american comics, mangas and political cartoons.

One of Bob Layton most beloved comic series is HERCULES so here is a Hercules movie with the actor who played Marvel´s Hulk in the successful tv series. Now I didn´t know he had done two Hercules movies because I only saw the first one which had sexbomb Sybil Danning as the villain.

Of  course that´s not the Hercules movie you can find on YouTube because you can only find bits and pieces of it like the original trailer from 1983.

Here´s the german Filmvorschau of Herkules - with a k - and while the special effects were state of the art back then they look a bit cheesy now.

When I watched the movie the first time it didn´t bother me that much which might have had something to do with the hot Sybil Danning. I never understood why Lou Ferrigno didn´t like her and went for that boring looking princess instead. Today I know the kind of paycheck that comes with marrying a princess but I would let Sybil have her way with me.

Anyway, here´s the Hercules movie I DID find and since I can´t say much about it I will just quote the very generous guy who posted the trailer :

Wow ! Even without the benefit of Sybil Danning's boobs, this poverty row sequel is quite possibly better than the first " Hercules " movie ! And by " better " of course I mean incalculably worse ! The Amazing Lou Ferrigno - who makes his first appearance here posing in the middle of outer space wearing nothing but disturbingly flesh colored bikini briefs - is once again summoned by Zeus, this time to help locate Zeus's seven lost thunderbolts and thus prevent the Moon from smashing into Earth. ( I didn't get it either. ) Along the way, Hercules must battle ninja - flipping bigfoot creatures, energy men, a tribe of slime people, and an inordinate number of villains possessing the power of cheap animated eye - lasers. During the big finale ( again, in space ) Lou actually turns into a crudely drawn cartoon gorilla ! This is the type of movie where lines like, " Sweet Oracle of Death, help me to reach the little people " are delivered with a deadpan Shakeperean seriousness. In other words, a definite must - see. 

To balance all this out a bit here is the original not bi - sexual classic Hercules with bodybuilding legend Steve Reeves. He owned the role.

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