Saturday, November 27, 2010

Comics in Electra Glide in Blue

Electra Glide in Blue, 1973's vehicle for future Baretta star and future murder suspect Robert Blake, is an occasionally brilliant but often hamhanded look at some of the social ills of the early seventies through the eyes of a diminutive Arizona motorcycle policeman who longs to be a detective. Comics seem to pop up with quite a bit of frequency and unfortunately, as is often the case in older movies and some newer ones, are used to characterize the mentally ill and the stupid.

In this scene, a crazy elderly man portrayed by Elisha Cook, the wonderful veteran actor of Maltese Falcon and Shane, among many others, is involved with a scuffle with orderlies at what seems to be a combination nursing home and mental health facilty. Someone is passing out comics and saying something like "Who wanted Batman?", and all these disturbed elderly men are reading comics. In the foreground, Cook and the orderly are literally fighting at each other with rolled up comics.

It's difficult to see any of the comics clearly, but the one being read in the middle ground, as this detail shows...

Is almost certainly this issue:

A nursing home where they casually pass out Kirby FF issues? I can't wait for retirement!

Throughout the movie, we are also subjected to Blake's partner Zipper, a cretinous cop who lives for three things: his motorbike, cracking hippie skulls, and the comics he reads in the shade while pulled over from the highway.

Whatever comic he's reading here as Blake pontificates, we don't get to see the cover, and it looks slightly outsized to me. According to Zipper, it's a Wonder Woman, as he keeps referring to Wondie's "meat and potatoes". And to think the Lynda Carter show was still in the future.

This film's worth a look as it does capture the era of hippies gradually going from a peace and love thing to more of a drug subculture, as portrayed in Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics. In the late sixties, they were dropping out, which meant in the seventies they were just dropped out with nowhere to go, only they knew they hated the fuzz and the pigs hated them. Members of the band Chicago play several of the hippies.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Continued on 2nd Page Following - Before The Force, There Was The Source

I always thought Kirby's depiction of Orion had kind of a Peter Noone thing going on.

Of course, that was only the way his features appeared due to Mother Box altering his appearance from Apokaliptian hideousness. Could be that Mo-Bo has a "teen heartthrob" setting.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

But Don't They Realize Lead is the Only Way To Block Kryptonite?

If you haven't heard yet, a Utah-based company, Vandor, has been ordered to recall DC hero collector glasses after tests commissioned by the Associated Press showed it contained more levels of lead that is deemed safe for children. Therein lies the point of contention, because Vandor says they were marketing the glasses to adult collectors but the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission says no dice, they're kids glasses. I guess I can see their point, though, since kids are always going to like superheroes. So if you bought any of these, hold onto them! They're about to become scarce.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Super Spectacular Regular Sized 100th Post!!!

Here I am at number 100 and it feels pretty darn good. Thanks to my Rogues Gallery of regular followers and to all the very valued drop-ins and drive-bys for giving me a place to yap about that giddiest and ginchiest of all topics, and for all the insightful, thought-provoking, and informative comments. The best people to learn from are those who know more than yourself, so luckily for me, that's practically everybody!

In comic collecting news, I marked the occasion by putting a bid on Justice League of America #100. My League collection is still a bit spotty down at those numbers, but not for long.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stray Thoughts on Tonight's Aquatastic Episode of Smallville!

- There's nothing like making out with your sweetie after blowing something up.
- We definitely got a bit of angry nineties Aquaman.
- Mera's not too hard on the peepers.
- I liked her way of talking, sort of Kirby-esque.
- I really like the effects for Aquaman's swimming, it's nice the makers of the show get that he swims very fast. Even in the Spidey movies they didn't seem to convey that his wallcrawling is supposed to be quite fast and scrambley. As Jeremy Piven said on Entourage, Aquaman is Spider-man underwater. I'm just free associating, but hey, it's Friday.
- Just me or were Justin Hartley's line readings at the beginning quite stiff? He improved a bit as the episode went on. He seems to act better in scenes that are more action oriented.
- "Squidlips" "...we got off on the wrong fin." Oh, that Lois!
- I like the idea that when Aquaman's been depowered by lack of water, getting hit with a splash is almost like a Banner-into-Hulk kind of moment.
- I'm glad we saw Mera's powers in action.
- I like how in Smallville, the return to the farm is always symbolic of a return to peace and happiness, however temporary.
- I feel silly for not seeing the ending coming! At the same time, it was nice to be surprised, I'm glad I usually avoid material on upcoming episodes.
- I have a feeling before the season is over, the line "an eye for an eye" will be uttered.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gold Key Fever!

Is it wrong to shop in the 50 cent bin? Should these bins be eschewed by the "serious" collector? Am I a "serious" collector? Nah, I consider myself more a wacky, slapstick collector.

I dunno, sometimes I find stuff there in better condition than stuff I've paid more for online. Anyway, it serves me well when I know I'm sort of impulse shopping, buying something I'm curious about but that I probably won't want to collect all of. What I'm collecting purposefully right now will probably keep me occupied for the next five to ten years. Also, it's just nice occasionally to actually pay less than a dollar for a comic.

So here's a few things I picked up recently for four bits.

I've heard the name Magnus: Robot Fighter bandied about quite a bit. In fact, unless I'm mistaken there's a revival on right now. It turns out that he's a guy who fights robots - in the future. You can't go wrong. What is it with the name Magnus in comics, anyway?

Well, Star Trek is pretty self-explanatory. It's the comics spinoff of one the greatest TV shows known to science. This issue is rather late in the run, the earlier ones have groovy photo collage covers and are now worth quite a bit as Trek collectibles. I remember when these comics were persona non grata to collectors but times change.

And that is just a cool, crazy cover, what can I say? It's a spaceship that looks like a bat and I want one. One of the things that makes Gold Keys amusing is how everything is presented with deadly seriousness, so even Magnus or Trek reads like a Classics Illustrated. I can remember as a youngster the painted covers deterred me, I think they looked too grown-up. Now they look quite funky to me and I will probably have them out in the comic room for their aesthetic appeal.

For those who don't know, there are more fun covers to look at, and words to read, on Gold Key Comics!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Best Part of Waking Up is Super-Heroes and Super-Gorillas

Wanting something to read during breakfast this morning - I can read comics while eating with little risk of damage to the comic, it's one of my gifts, I grabbed this out of the DC Specials section, perhaps my favouritest section of all.

With my usual banana, toast, and OJ, I enjoyed Superman taking on a Krypton gorilla, The Flash being fooled by Grodd into thinking Grodd had sped up everyone in the city, and Batman and Robin versus a diabolical criminal that wanted to put Batman's brain into a gorilla and pin a series of crimes on him.

I don't advise eating while reading a comic unless you are a trained professional like myself. One of the things to make sure of is that it is about a foot away from where the food is, so the food is between you and the comic, to avoid spillage. Not too far away, or you won't be able to see it. Also, keep a hand clean for page turning. Place the comic on something protective, at least its empty bag and board.

And it happens that my copy of this is unfortunately in about fair/good. Probably don't want to try it with a near mint Detective Comics #27, even with a great set of skills.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bootleg, Not a Bootleg?

I got this baby at a con in 1994 from one of the tables selling figures.

In the small print on the cape, it says, "(copyright symbol) D. C. COMICS 1992 COMICS SPAIN" but I have doubts about how legit it is. Do they write DC as D. C. in Spain, with periods and a space? Well, perhaps they do. But this is certainly not the most exquisitely sculpted figure, as a close-up reveals perhaps some bad facial surgery in Superman's past.

One idiosyncracy is the symbol on the back of the cape. Though I'm fairly certain even comic colourists have made the mistake of putting red in it when it should be all yellow.

Another interesting feature is his gigantic feet, which I must admit do help him balance.

Just for comparison, here's the Crisis Bizarro figure, who actually looks handsomer than this Superman. I just somehow feel the Thing of Steel would like that. Or hate that.

And just for fun, and so you can get a sense of the size of Spanish Possible Bootleg Supes, here he is next to a well-known small wind-up robot. I like how the slats on my JVC boombox make it sorta look like they're on the Death Star. Well, they do to me.

I actually like this figure. I guess I have to say it's the pose, that's some powerful-looking stuff, and he looks all right on a shelf, even if he has a face only Lara and Ma Kent could love.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Continued on 2nd Page Following: Yellow Hot-Pants!

Supergirl's got to use what she's got, to get just what she wants. From The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #9, my contribution to the "things wrongly coloured yellow" field of studies as pioneered here on The Aquaman Shrine. I do prefer the hot pants version of her costume, I'd rather wear shorts than a skirt if I was a girl who was flying, and landing.

Always good to come across the name of my blog during my casual back issue reading. The problem with modern comics is they don't have these handy warnings. I hit a page of ads and I'm lost.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Stray Thoughts on Tonight's Episode of Smallville

- Doozy of an episode.
- Lots of cute women, especially Teri Hatcher and Helen Slater.
- I like that Teri's hair was like it was in the early days of Lois & Clark, which was on the air 15 years ago when the tapes were from. Quincy-dence?
- I was wondering if Clark actually had a VHS around. I guess so.
- Teri Hatcher + Michael Ironside = Erica Durance
- The Smallville version of Desaad is much prettier than the comic version and
- I'm a bit surprised they don't have him wearing a hoody. I miss the greasy maitre d' hairstyle.
- I like Granny Goodness, she's nicely creepy.
- Love the Furies.
- Was that a real trap or was it Clark's bachelor party?
- Tess is not Big Barda but she's...
- QUITE the shock reveal at the end.
- Jor-El is Warlock!

Let us now bask in the glory of Teri Hatcher on the Love Boat, for we all know the early eighties was the absolute highest point of western culture, it's all downhill after that...

Jheri Curl Causes Omnipotence! Plus: Twinkies, Twinkies, Twinkies!

So I'm watching Dark City the other night and trying to figure out who Rufus Sewell reminds me of with his dark jheri curl hairdo and his ability to manipulate all matter. Then it hit me.

Of course, the Beyonder as he appeared in Secret Wars II, minus the white disco suit! Proving once again, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Germans love David Hasselhoff. doesn't disprove it.

In other news, I thought one thing I haven't yet posted is a Hostess ad, and I can't seem to find this one on any places that usually do so, including the estimable Hostess Ads site. So here is my contribution to the ongoing quest to put all Hostess ads online so they will be enjoyed for generations to come until Kamandi happens.

Twinkies. It's what's for dinner.

Now if you'll excuse me, tonight is Teri Hatcher night on Smallville. Yes!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My Recent War Comics Reading: Haunted Tank

While I think comics have a very respectable tradition in war stories, it is generally not my thing. However, I am also always curious about areas of comics I don't know much about and recently purchased Haunted Tank Showcase Vol. 2 new, as it was going at a very affordable price. It turns out the cheap price was probably due to a misprint on one of the pages where a page was printed twice, and then the correction glued on. I learned about the mistake here. , strangely on a Marvel Masterworks board.

While superheroes are just usually more my thing, I definitely recognize the excellence in storytelling with the art of Joe Kubert and Irv Novick, both of whom I always appreciate, and Russ Heath, who is fairly new to me. Robert Kanigher wrote all the stories. I'm quite familiar with him from his brilliantly nutty Metal Men and Wonder Woman. His Haunted Tank tales show how multi-faceted and complex he really was. Likely no story is going to get across what war is really like, but instant and brutal death on both sides of World War II accompany the travels of the Haunted Tank in North Africa. Jeb Stuart, the commander of the tank, receives cryptic warnings about his next battle from the ghost of a civil war general, but are these visions real or is Jeb cracking up? As well as a depiction of the trauma of being in the heat of battle, the reader gets a sense of the weariness and isolation of soldiers.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

When Comic Book Thugs Look Like Charles Bronson Part 4

"Thug" doesn't exactly fit, but I'm going with it. Superboy and the Legion of Superheroes #212, 1975, as Cosmic Boy, "on a break" from his relationship with Night Girl, though clearly still thinking of her, watches what I suppose is Death Wish: The Thousand Year Anniversary Special Edition. His date Sinde seems to like it - a girl who likes action movies might be a keeper, but Rokk is back with Lydda by the end of the story. Of course Lydda actually beats up bad guys on a regular basis, and looks good in her new costume, so I can't really blame the boy, even if having a girlfriend who has superstrength when in the dark might sometimes be problematic.

Monday, November 8, 2010

I Impulsively Bought Essential Hulk Vol. 6 Yesterday...

I was at the book store and looking at perhaps buying something, maybe Superman: Earth One, which, despite some trepidation about potentially ephemeral revisionist versions of characters ("fresh and exciting" one week, expensive bird cage liner the next), I thought might be important for me to read as a lifelong Superman fan. But suddenly, I saw the Hulk book and realized that's what my mood was. It could be that I've been enjoying reading Herb Trimpe's Hulk, the blog, which has reawakened my senses to the appeal of seventies Hulk. I believe this particular volume is slightly past the more significant part of Trimpe's contribution, although he is a contributor on two of the issues - inked by Joe Staton in one case, which certainly interested me. And of course there are other notable artists. Sal Buscema's style, for instance, I recognize instantly, and something about it just says "seventies Marvel".

This is the first Hulk Essentials Volume I've bought. I have a tendency to read series and characters from whatever point interests me, and then put together the saga in my head, perhaps rereading it in order later. I have some eighties and nineties Hulk, and I've read the original 6 issue Silver Age series in the form of a digest I own (which recoloured the originally grey Hulk green). I of course have a fondness for the Jade Giant from the Bixby/Ferrigno show. As I've mentioned before, from a certain age I've been stronger for DC, but I have a fondness for Marvel at its best. I do love Marvel in the seventies. The first reason might be nostalgia, sure, I was a little kid at the time. But my more analytical side says that it appeals to me because the ideas were still fresh, but were now being worked on by a second generation of creators able to unearth some of the potential hinted at in the original work by Stan and the gang, expand on it, broaden it. I will read and enjoy Silver Age Marvel, but also find it tends to blend after a while with a sameness to the histrionics, almost unavoidable due to the scripting and direction of a single brilliant, strong creative personality, aided and abetted by a small group of brilliant, strong talents. So in my mind DC owns the Silver Age partly because of greater variety - having had the advantage of more creators and editors. Sixties DC covers I find endlessly entertaining, Marvel covers of the time are usually not my style and some I find downright bland. Okay, I have to be honest, I like covers that have dilemmas, captions, and exclamation points. I like covers that make it seem absolutely vital I read the comic to find the important information located therein. For me, Marvel did their best at that in the age of the Osmonds.

But though the companies tend to get compared a lot, I sometimes feel with the early days of Marvel it's like comparing The Honeymooners to The Simpsons. Or Gilligan's Island to Lost. Surface similarities but a whole host of reasons why it's not really apt. And in the seventies, of course, the two houses were exchanging talent so much it seems a bit odd to be totally loyal to one. Who would only watch their favourite actor's movies with one studio?

Okay, but about this volume. This era of Hulk I find I am enjoying a lot, as I thought I would. I tend to like comics that are the adventures of an itinerant character who keeps travelling and running into weird stuff. I love Kamandi for that reason, and this is entertaining in the same way, with the added feature of Hulk's incredible strength coupled with his often confused grasp of situations being a great combination to create problems but also provide a visceral, gratifying solution. When the young man at the store was ringing up my purchase, he said, "Essential Hulk Smash!" Exactly!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Teen Titans on Miami Vice

It's always great when two of my favourite things overlap, especially if those two things are rather incongruous and seemingly irreconcilable. In this case, I'm referring to the Teen Titans and Miami Vice, that hallmark of eighties neon noir cool.

Here is a shot from the MV episode "The Fix", airdate March 7, 1986.

Yes, that is none other than Tales of the Teen Titans #60, evident from Trigon's beaming face, displayed in the van of the Vice Squad's surveillance crew of Switek and Zito. There's another comic or mag overlapping it but I can't tell what that is.

I'm almost certain the comic probably was meant to be belonging to Stan Switek, who was the relaxed hipster of the Squad, as evinced in a previous episode, "Made For Each Other", where it was shown he was a die-hard Elvis fan (though of course Crockett's pet alligator was actually named Elvis, which might mean Crockett is the bigger King fan, I suppose).

Here he is sweating it out in the van with Zito. Switek was portrayed by Michael Talbott, a somewhat weighty comedic actor who might have had a more prominent career now in the age of Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, and Zach Whatsisname (though I realize he most resembles Chris Penn in the above pic).

I can definitely see comics being great for passing the time in a surveillance van, though certain detectives get to listen to it all from afar in the cushy, cushy offices of Miami Vice, and have other things to occupy their time such as making their hair look awesome.

Also notable about this episode is that the main villain is...Cosmo Kramer!

Yes, a young, pre-Seinfeld, pre-unfortunate rant, though post-whatever it was with Andy Kaufman on Fridays Michael Richards plays the guy trying to fix fights and get a prominent, basically good but gambling-addicted judge (Bill Russell, in the middle above) in his pocket. The vice gang is tapping the judge's line.

"Levels, Jerry!"

All of this unfortunately comes to a head when the judge decides to blow away Kramer and then himself just as Sonny arrives on the scene. Crockett must hold some kind of record for the amount of people who have shot themselves in front of him.

This episode is also notable for being directed by Dick Miller, star of such Roger Corman b-classics as Bucket of Blood, The Terror, and Little Shop of Horrors, though people who are not as into the b-movie scene will probably remember him from Gremlins and as the gunshop owner that Arnold shoots in The Terminator - "You can't do that!" "Wrong." BLAM!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Continued on 2nd Page Following: Superboy #167

Okay, yes, a super-strong flying baby, sure, fine. I was believing everything until they said that said baby could crash through a window so fast it wouldn't make any noise. What is this, *snicker*, some kind of supernatural windowpane? What about the falling glass? Air friction burnt it up? I expect realism from comics, dagnabbit!

But not really. I want amazing insanity from any Superbaby story, and they generally deliver. And that is one reason I chose this as this week's installment of the regular feature, an appearance of the blog title in a back issue.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Central Canada Comic Con 2010: Costume Contest Pt. 2

Again please excuse the graininess. That top THX 1138 guy had a great and original costume that probably did not offer much visibility. The guy that was Optimus Prime did an amazing job and actually transformed into a truck, using an attachment he brought with him, so I am impressed with the dedication of Transformers fans. I have no idea if Mysterio could see out of his helmet but the outfit is impressive. I have to say I admire people who are willing to walk around all day in these cumbersome things.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Central Canada Comic Con 2010: Costume Contest Pt. 1

I was about a million miles away from the stage so my camera was on super duper zoom, so excuse the graininess. Though I kind of like the blurry pic of the Hobgoblin, almost looks like some hastily snapped candid distance shot from the Marvel Universe that might be on the cover of the Daily Bugle. I'm glad I got the Doom and Sue staredown; they had a great Thing with as well but my camera didn't clear in time for me to get him. And Joker and Harley were a highlight, as they actually serenaded each other with a quick song, it was nicely done.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween! Some Costumes from Central Canada Comic Con 2010

I'll have more stuff in the days ahead including pics from the always-delayed costume contest. I had a pretty good time although I didn't really do the celeb thing this year because the ones I was interested in seemed to be no-shows, or something. There were clearly some organizational issues but on the other hand, there were lots of good costumes and anyway not paying outrageous amounts for autographs left me more money to fill gaps in the collection with the very bountiful back issue and collectible tables.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Boo!perheroes Week, Part 4: Action Comics #415, Superman in "Meet the Metropolis Monster!"

It all begins innocently enough...

I just hate when people hover over me at work! But it turns out Handsome isn't there to wash the windows, he's got another agenda as he bursts into Clark's office and rips open his shirt, and it ain't romance. Soon a no-holds barred superfight is in progress...

Dollface falls back out the window and gets embedded in the ashphalt. I'm going to assume Clark didn't superspeed to rescue him all happened too fast? But anyway, the creature yet lives!

Only it's a comic book. Soon the always copyright-conscious Daily Planet is reporting on events and admitting a similarity of the creature to an established icon.

Later, the monster is seen on a rooftop with an attractive female with him, making like King Kong. Superman uses his super-sniffer to track down the musty smell he caught earlier, except...
Yes, all he finds is a human male lying in an alley next to the title of this blog. The man appears to have a connection to Herman Munster, as he relates that he created the monster and that it has mortally wounded him so he could not stop it. The man dies, even as the monster appears to be rampaging around the city, terrorizing the always self-reliant Metropolis police force. Ah, the days before the SCU.

Superman, meanwhile, has flown the apparent inventor of the monster to his Fortress of Solitude, where he slaps together a Bring People Back To Life Machine, only I think some of the instructions are in Japanese so it might not work. But note the blog title has followed them all the way to the North Pole! I'm everywhere, man!

Supes does some mad scientist stuff, jolting the body back to life, and just then the monster breaks into the Fortress with a CRRAASSSHHHH.

They have another tussle, only now the monster can speak and chastises Superman for allowing the humanoid to escape, because it's the real menace.

At no point is it mentioned that the monster creating a hole in the wall might have helped the
humanoid escape, because now it's flashback time. The waviness around the panel below means flashback, not that you have cataracts. Whew, that's a relief!

You get the gist. It's the old "alternate dimension where monsters are regular people" gag, and this particular monster created an artificial humanoid. In an interesting inversion of the Twilight Zone "Eye of the Beholder" concept, the uggos in that dimension somehow know they are hideous, despite there being no one to compare themselves to...hmm...and so the inventor that Superman has been assuming is a monster on a rampage attempted to create beautiful specimens. He explains that he was unable to explain before, because his vocal cords had not adapted to the earth atmosphere. I have no zinger for that. The logic is sound.

But anyway, somehow due to the way Superman revitalized it, the humanoid is breaking down into giant cells, which are going to multiply and presumably swallow the earth.

But stopping the cell-being is really not too difficult, they're still in the North Pole so all it takes is some freezing. Later, Superman apologizes to the "inventor" for judging him solely based on his appearance (and that he ripped off Clark's clothes upon first meeting him).

Oh, yeah, and the girl the monster had been seen with earlier was actually another of his humanoid creations. I often refer to my friend's wives as their "female humanoid", which may be one reason I don't really have friends. The inventor goes with her back through the dimensional portal, promising he'll create a mate for her. Yeah, that's the first thing I'd do. Well, I think we've all learned an important lesson about tolerance, bringing the dead back to life, and skirting copyright. It's a cool issue, a fun story, and I like the various tributes to the Frankie mythos, even having Superman in the role of mad scientist. It's alive!