Saturday, October 10, 2015

From daring devils to fantastic foursomes

I know, usually I do these mash up posts where I throw in everything but the kitchen sink on the weekend but I was busy de - cluttering my laptop. And sleeping. Sleeping is so important. So here are a few things I wanted to add to my last posts and I´m starting with the man without fear.

Going through the DAREDEVIL issues for the research on my last post I came across some covers by really high profile guest artists during the Mazuchelli period. John Byrne did the covers for issues 200, 201 and 203

Mike Zeck provides the cover art for DAREDEVIL issue 210 

Barry Windor Smith´s cover for issue 217 features a pin up of Daredevil and the Black Widow as well as a new logo that really doesn´t work for me

and issue 224 has even a cover by longtime Iron Man co - writer and inker Bob Layton, probably because it features the Iron Man villain Sunturion.

So on my next visit to the Sammlerecke comic shop in Esslingen I will see if I can find some of these issues either in the used comics section or down in the catacombs, maybe they have some worthwhile content.


And speaking about worthwhile content some readers might think I was a bit too harsh on the DAREDEVIL issues 346 to 362 but when I put issue 363 in the bag with the other issues I pulled them all out again and for some perverse reason actually gave them another read through and man, I was being nice when I called those issues bad. When you talk about bad 90s - over - the - top - grim - and - gritty comics this is one of the shining examples of that period. I know that I said not all comics during the 90s were bad but boy, when they were bad they really went the whole nine yards. These issues are abysmal. It gets a bit better once Gary Nord comes aboard but still - they don´t know what to do with the character.

Which is one of the reasons I´m enjoying the current DAREDEVIL run by Mark Waid ( and therefore soon ending DAREDEVIL run since Disney obviously hates me ) . He GETS Daredevil. It´s as simple as that.

In my last post I mentioned that out of a crazy impulse I ordered a dozen ESSENTIALS from amazon ( I blame my notorious lack of sleep and an ice cream intoxication for that ) and one of them is ESSENTIAL AVENGERS 5 which contains the issues from the AVENGER / DEFENDERS CLASH classic.

Yes, back then the story was called the AVENGERS / DEFENDERS CLASH but later when comic book wars became so popular everything SECRET, from KREE / SKRULL to INFINITY was called a war it became known as the AVENGERS / DEFENDERS WAR. Anyway, since I also own the hardcover with said story I leafed through that after reading it in the ESSENTIAL format. And I have to say as awesome as it is to be able to see the artwork in black and white it DOES look better - and read better - in color.

Especially on team books with many colorfully garbed characters the color really helps not getting lost. So while I really like the ESSENTIALS and hope to one day own the complete set there are some stories where springing for the extra dollar that the hardcover edition costs is worth it.

Anyway, one thing the hardcover has and the ESSENTIAL doesn´t is an introduction. I have mentioned a few times that one of the reasons why I buy the BIBLIOTECA MARVEL pocket books is that they have introductions and other articles about the issues in it, the creative team, the comic industry at the moment and so on explaining very well what´s so special about the issues you are going to read. The ESSENTIALS have none of that but maybe that´s the price we have to pay to keep these phone books under 20 dollars. In any case, the introduction in the hardcover by Steve Englehart - which he probably wrote for the 2007 trade paperback reprinting the story - stresses that back when it originally came out in 1973 Marvel GOT it. I don´t think that there was a particular reason in 2007 to think there was more behind mentioning that fact so often - maybe something that had to do with the comic industry at that time or the things going on behind the scenes at Marvel - but when you read the introduction now it really makes you hang down your head in shame. 

Because right now Disney definitely doesn´t get it and - coming back to the Daredevil issues I discussed in my last post Marvel didn´t get it then.

Or else they wouldn´t have tried to sell DAREDEVIL as part of the MARVEL EDGE line because that meant a heavier price tag. Normal comics cost 1.50 dollars around that time ( which right now makes you want to dive into the back issue bins because compared to Today´s comics it is dirt cheap ) and the MARVEL EDGE books went for 1.95. They also had better paper quality than the regular books but what good is it if the story and art are not up to par ? And as much as I love Shawn McManus and one day hope to be able to read his entire DOCTOR FATE run from the 80s he´s not a good fit for a superhero comic. The proportions seem out of whack, Daredevil looks like a deformed muscle freak on steroids and it´s just not the right environment. Back to the increased price tag I don´t think it really helps with a book that´s floundering and I guess that´s one of the reasons they went back to the cheaper paper and the 1.50 dollar price.

One last thing about Daredevil : I really enjoyed issue 354 which featured a team up between Matt Murdock and the Spider - Man of that period ( which explains the ugly Spider - Man logo on the cover ). Especially funny is the part where Matt Murdock and Ben Reilly compare notes, since one of them just faked his death and came back to life while the other found out he´s the real Spider - Man while his clone has been fighting crime for the last decades. The interaction between those two - who really have one of the longest buddy buddy relationships in the Marvel universe at least until now - is likewise entertaining. If you find these constant retcons and redos as unnecessary as me you will probably get a kick out of this issue.

By the way, I wasn´t kidding when I offered the german FALL FROM GRACE trade HÖLLENFAHRT as a No Prize. For postage reasons this is only for my german readers but if you think you need this in your collection just send me an e - mail with your direction .... and of course that you want that trade otherwise I have no idea what you want.


In another post I put up some of the strange Fantastic Four covers from Mejico and Spain especially some that were pasted together from various panels. Well, here in Germany the Williams Verlag did the same whenever they could not fit an entire issue of FANTASTIC FOUR into an issue of DIE FANTASTISCHEN VIER. I already posted the cover to DIE FANTASTISCHEN VIER 112 in my first post about the Overmind Saga but here are a few more. As with DIE SPINNE, they did one cover for the german issue 1

as well as issue number 4 ( with Daredevil fighting Electro as a back up )

and issue number 15 against Doktor Unheil, like Doctor Doom was called.

When I started reading comics naturally I read most of them in the german translation and while I find some of the german names better than the american originals - especially with the Legion of Super - Heroes - names like GRÜNE LATERNE or DER ROTE BLITZ are exceptions. There are some horrible translations like Doktor Seltsam for Doctor Strange.

I´m not sure if this was around the time the Stanley Kubrik movie Doctor Strangelove was in german cinemas because that was also translated as Doktor Seltsam. In any case the editorial staff of Williams, the MMT ( Mächtige Marvel Team or Mighty Marvel Team ) was not happy with some character´s german names so they decided to go with the original names.

Which brings us full circle because there will be more Fantastic Four posts in the future based on my new Fantastic Four MARVEL MASTERWORKS.

I already mentioned that I mainly bought one of the hardcovers because it contains FANTASTIC FOUR issue 51, THIS MAN .... THIS MONSTER ! but what I didn´t mention is that after I read it I wasn´t sure if I should put it in the Fantastic Four section or in the Avengers section of my new comic book shelf. You see, back in those halycon days the Marvel universe was really interwoven between all the different series and when people say that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby laid out the entire foundation of the Marvel universe in FANTASTIC FOUR they are right. You see, not only is the origin story of .... but that would be telling. Let´s just say that the subtitle for that volume of the MARVEL MASTERWORKS could as easily have been SECRET ORIGINS OF THE AVENGERS and leave the rest to another post.

Another reason to re - visit the Fantastic Four comics I read as a kid is that I just recently bought the newest edition of Hachette´s Official Marvel Collection which are issues 44 to 51 and FF annual number 3.

The book is titled GALACTUS and for some reason they have managed to miscolour the big kahuna Galactus in almost every panel. And it´s not like he´s an unknown character and nobody knows what Galactus´ colours are supposed to be. Also the quality of annual 3 is really bad. They probably didn´t have a good source material for this but apart from this snafu any issues from the first 100 Fantastic Four issues or so are worth collecting.

To close up things for Today here are some Deja Vue covers from the iconic Fantastic Four issue number 49, IF THIS BE DOOMSDAY ! which include WHAT IF ? 41 ( What if ... the Avengers had fought Galactus ? )

the painted spansih cover for the issue from Ediciones Vertice


the cover for the spanish BIBLIOTECA MARVEL edition from FORUM

and Arthur Suydam´s version for the neverending MARVEL ZOMBIES book.

I´m sure there must be more out there, like SONIC THE HEDGHOG 104, ROBOLACTUS or this commission by OtisFrampton that replaces comics First Family with Star Wars characters but I want to leave it at those four. I also have the german, british and italian covers but since they are pretty much the original covers I´m saving them for another occassion.


And with that we are already kneedeep in the link section : for more of that old Deja Vue feeling go to COMIC BOOK RESOURCES which has 159 homage covers in this post , the COVERED blog has more than 1000 cover homages by the likes of Steve Rude and Arthur Adams ( including FF 49 ) and Dan Greenfield at 13TH DIMENSION has posted the 13 best variant covers for the new DARK KNIGHT III : THE MASTER RACE ..... so far.

DIVERSIONS OF THE GROOVY KIND has too many interesting posts to link them all. Man, I just can´t keep up with old Groove so here is a whole bunch : John Byrne was one of the most prolific artists on Fantastic Four, the Thing´s team up book MARVEL TWO - IN - ONE as well as Spider - Man´s team up book MARVEL TEAM - UP ( as well as everything in - between ) so if you want to read entire issues he was so gracious to post MARVEL TWO - IN - ONE 43 and MARVEL TWO - IN - ONE 53 which are both part of Mark Gruenwald´s brilliant PROJECT PEGASUS SAGA. I did write a post on that classic but I will have to revisit it one of these days.

More John Byrne goodness can be found in MARVEL TEAM - UP 53 and 54 , featuring the Hulk and Woodgod, MARVEL TEAM - UP 68 , which features the Man - Thing, GHOST RIDER 20 , a team up with Daredevil, TIGRA 6 and from Charlton Comics EMERGENCY 1 , SPACE : 1999 ( or MONDBASIS ALPHA EINS how it was called in Germany ) issues 3 , 4 , 5 and 6 and last but not least DOOMSDAY + 1 issues 1 , 2 , 3 , 4 and 5 . And speaking about Doom´s Day, Day 198 of COMIC BOOK RESOURCES A Year of Cool Comics series spotlights John Byrne´s Fantastic Four issue 258 which is a great Doctor Doom solo story, kind of those " A Day in the life " stories.

As always much thanks and kudos to all the people working tirelessly to make these posts which in turn help me make my posts. Which brings us to the video section of this post. I mentioned SPACE : 1999 so here´s an episode from MONDBASIS ALPHA 1 - Der Todesplanet ( Planet of Death ).

We continue with Doctor Who, this one is a rare behind the scenes look at how the 25th anniversary story SILVER NEMESIS was made from script to finish. According to the description this was never released on DVD.

Halloween is coming up at the end of this month and many websites are doing countdown posts. I would like to do something similar but as this is rather a weekly blog than a daily blog I don´t think this would work so well. Instead I will be posting some videos that are appropriate for Halloween in the next posts until Halloween - and probably beyond - because I have just too many of them. Our first one is the Hammer Studios production TWINS OF EVIL from 1971 which has the twins Madelaine and Mary Collinson in the lead role who also happened to be playmates. The movie is interesting in that the witch hunters under the leadership of Peter Cushing and worse than the vampires they hunt.

Here is another german tv series I like to watch ( and which can currently be seen on reruns on german tv ) GRAF YOSTER GIBT SICH DIE EHRE. The series is about the exploits of Count Yoster ( Lukas Amann ), a writer of crime stories and his valet Johann ( played by film icon Wolfgang Völz ).

He has appeared on Doctor Who and his paintings are in the GRAF YOSTER episode so here´s a video about Vincent van Gogh.

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