Daredevil 270, 1989 “BlackHeart!”

The character Daredevil is one that has so many extreme ups and downs since his creation in 1964. The last of the big names to come out of Marvel Comics Silver Age, Matt Murdoch has been all over the place. Hell’s Kitchen is his normal stomping grounds, but he spent a bit of time in San Francisco as well.

In this issue, a new villain is produced, and it’s one that’s even had a prominent role in a film! The spawn of Mephisto, Blackheart, is possibly even more vile than his father. Callously killing anyone that he wants, you get the feeling that if DD and Spider-Man can’t stop him, mankind is in big trouble!

The creative team on this one consists of Ann Nocenti (writer), John Romita jr. (pencils), AL Williamson (inks), Joe Rosen (letters), Christie ‘Max’ Scheele (colors), and Ralph Macchio (editor). That’s a pretty solid line-up with Marvel teetering on the edge of the dark times, and they deliver a solid issue. Nothing spectacular, but a good issue with a team up and first appearance. You’ll notice that Romita jr. hasn’t quite yet developed his now signature style quite yet. There are still some pages/panels that remind you of his father’s work, plus the inker makes a difference in the product as well.

 

 

Advertisements

A Devilish Fascination (in comic books)!

What is it that makes fear so fascinating? People actively go to horror movies, read books, and even visit tourist attractions touting frequent ghostly visits. I’m sure there’s a clinical term for it (isn’t there one for everything these days?), but do most people ask themselves this question? Probably not, but after recently asking it in my mind, I struggled to answer the question. Other than just liking to be scared, is there some psychological reasoning behind this or just one of those unexplained phenomenon?

Why is there a fascination with the devil/demons and fear in general? Is it the same fear that we get from movies we watch even knowing we’re safe in a theater or our home or perhaps because many of us believe he’s/they are very much real? Most people I know personally believe in the devil, demons, etc., and even if you ask a large contingency of people on another continent, I’d bet most either believe or aren’t quite sure what is and isn’t to be feared either in this life or another.

Either way, here’s a quick look at some of the devilish deities from the Marvel and DC universes! I’ll  show some great panels from the likes of Mephisto, Hades, Etrigan, and more! Enjoy (artwork by John Byrne (images 1 & 2) and John Buscema (image 3)- Mephisto, Jack “King” Kirby Etrigan the demon, Bob Hall ChThon and other Elder godsSal Buscema Nightmare) !

 

img387

img389

img390

img391

img392

img393

img394

img395

 

 

Cinema Sunday: Justice League: The New Frontier

newfrontier

Title: Justice League: The New Frontier

Distributor: Warner Bros.

Writers: Darwyn Cooke (original story/Graphic Novel), Stan Berkowitz (screenplay)

Director: David Bullock

Producers: Bruce Timm, Mike Goguen

Starring: David Boreanaz, Brooke Shields, Lucy Lawless, David MacLachlan, Neil Patrick Harris

Released: 2008

MPAA: PG-13

 

I typically only review older films, for the simple fact that is where my greatest interest lies, and I believe film-making as a whole has lost something it will probably never regain from these past decades. After learning of the recent passing of comic book creator, Darwyn Cooke, I felt compelled to review this wonderful film based off of his story.

By the time the story was written, there were of course many origin stories written for these characters, and retcons, reboots, etc., but Cooke not only used elements of all that material, he infused something in the characters using the whirlwind of ideas found in the revolutionary times of the 1960’s. That decade is probably second place in the history of comics (as far as relevancy) to the  Golden Age that birthed Superman (Siegel and Shuster), Batman (Bill Finger and Bob Kane), and Captain America (Jack Kirby and Joe Simon), just to name a few. These pioneers shaped and molded things to come, and most certainly influenced Cooke. Godspeed, Darwyn!

 

dcnewfrontier

The film begins with a monologue, or better yet, a recounting of Earth’s history since before the dawn of man. It shows the age of the dinosaurs, all the way up to the creation of the Atom Bomb (The Manhattan Project). The person speaking is never shown, but calls himself, “The Center,” and speaks as if it’s some kind of elemental force of nature that needs to purify the Earth because of its latest discovery (atomic energy). We then see that this “person” is writing a book called “The Last Story,” and at its conclusion, the writer picks up a revolver and apparently commits suicide.

 

dcnewfrontier1

The following scene shows two pilots, one of them being Hal Jordan (David Boreanaz), flying jet fighters at the conclusion of the Korean War. As the two joke around, suddenly two communist jets attack them, and after Hal causes them to crash into each other, one more appears, and shoots down Jordan. As he lands in hostile territory, he attacked by a communist soldier. He has to kill the enemy soldier, and he apparently never had to kill before, so this traumatized him to the point of having a nervous breakdown or basically, PTSD.

The scene switches to an observatory in Gotham City. A scientist is on his death-bed from a heart attack brought on by an alien (John Jones, voiced by Miguel Ferrer) from Mars that was transported to the planet while the scientist was trying to beam a message to Mars. The alien looks rather scary, but shows absolute compassion for the man, and covers his corpse with a jacket. The alien then assumes the identity of the scientist by shape-changing into his likeness. Meanwhile, a world away in Indo-China, we see Superman (Kyle MacLachlan) flying into a jungle area. He sees an entire village on fire, but then hears someone celebrating. He enters a shack, where Wonder Woman (Lucy Lawless) tells him that the women from the village were captured, while the men and children were murdered. She set the women free and let them kill their oppressors. This doesn’t sit well with Superman but after a heated conversation, she tells him…”there’s the door, spaceman!” He walks out without arguing any further about her methods.

 

newfrontier3

Back in Metropolis, we see the alien that assumed the form of the scientist, as he’s living a somewhat normal life, and that he’s addicted to television. On the roof of the Daily Planet, Superman and Lois Lane (Kyra Sedgwick) are trying to figure out what the “right” thing to do is these days. Over in Las Vegas, Hal Jordan and his friend “Ace” are having a good time, gambling and boozing. They talk briefly about a mission, but quickly get back to having fun. Over in a corner, Iris West is interviewing some Hollywood type sleaze, but shortly after makes a quick phone call to her boyfriend, Barry Allen (the Flash, voiced by Neil Patrick Harris). Suddenly, Captain Cold (James Arnold Taylor) bursts in the casino, and robs the place. Of course, he doesn’t get very far before the Flash shows up to apprehend him though. As he’s all but beaten, a different voice comes out of his mouth, stating that Barry’s “not like the other lesser beings” and that “the Center is coming.”

 

martianmanhunter5

Batman (Jeremy Sisto), Green Lantern, and other heroes are introduced, and we see that it seems as if a cult is rising and taking over the minds of people all over the world. We also see that the martian, has assumed a new identity as a policeman named John Jones. He has a run in with Batman and the two begin to pool their resources to figure out what’s going on. Will they be able to find out the sinister secret of The Center? Will they be able to unite the heroes of the world while the government is becoming increasingly uneasy with super-powered beings running around unchecked? Watch to find out!!!

 

New Frontier 1

 

OK, here are my thoughts:

While I admit I haven’t rad this story yet, if it’s even half as good as the film, it must be incredible. I’ve seen Cooke’s artwork many times, and his style is very good, and not comparable to really anyone else of that caliber. His vision and use of the zeitgeist of the times was absolutely brilliant. The mysterious elements as far as the government and the cult blend together nicely. I wonder if he was influenced by Alan Moore’s Watchmen slightly, as those heroes were under scrutiny from the government and within their own minds.

The animation in this movie is top-notch, and that is to be expected when Bruce Timm is involved. He’s set a high standard for DC animation, I’m not sure anyone can ever top it. Voice director Andrea Romano has been a part of that team (Bruce Timm and company) for a long time, and always does a great job getting quality voice actors for these roles. Stan Berkowitz is another name from the good old days of Batman the Animated Series, where these names all came together to begin molding the DC animated universe into the gem it is now.

Do yourself a favor and buy this DVD/Blu-Ray, there is no way you will be disappointed by the film. It just isn’t possible, because Darwyn Cooke put his heart and soul into this story. Rather than post shots from the film, I’m going to show some of Cooke’s work from the actual comic books themselves.

 

dc-new-frontier

 

 

Click here for the trailer!

Doctor Strange: Season One (HC)

To close out 2014, and my month-long look at Dr. Strange, I thought it would be cool to throw another more recent read out there. As I’ve said before, I’ll try anything Dr. Strange, just because he’s my favorite character, and he’s a good one. So, when I heard Marvel was coming out with all  new material that they were going to release as graphic novels, I had to grab a couple of them! I own the Avengers: Endless Wartime book, but I was really impressed by the Doctor Strange: Season One hardcover that came out in 2012. It’s basically a retelling of the Doc’s origin, but a few slight twists. All the big guns are here; Baron Mordo, Dormammu, The Ancient One, and more!

The story is written by none other than Greg Pak, and if you want to read anything of his definitely check this out, plus “The Incredible Hercules” ongoing from 2008-2010, and a title from Aspen Comics called “Dead Man’s Run.” I’m not sure if the latter was finished (it took quite a while between issues to come out), but it was super cool! Not to be outdone, is an artist that I think it going to be huge sooner than later, (she’s already awesome in my book), Emma Rios (Pretty Deadly)! I first saw her work on a Doctor Strange mini-series from 2010. It was absolutely gorgeous, and I became a fan instantly. Another creator that must be mentioned is Jordie Bellaire. To say that she is one of the top colorists in comics is an understatement, for sure. Just look t the colors in this story, and you will be amazed! Happy New Year!

 

Image (13)

Image (12)

Image (14)

Image (15)

Image (16)

Image (17)

Doctor Strange: From the Marvel Vault #1, 2011 “This Old House”

Contrary to the opinions of some, there a few decent comics books that were published after the 1980’s. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Bronze and Silver Age as a whole, much more than anything that’s come after, but there are some diamonds in  the rough, you just have to find them! Case in point, this 2011 offering from Marvel that features a story that Roger Stern wrote many years before, but it was never published. In this story, we see just how the old Doc took up residence on Bleeker street in NYC! At one time the house was considered haunted, and that’s why no one would live there. It just so happens that the Doc has just returned from doing some traveling, and learned a few tricks of his own!

The story from Roger Stern (plot aid from Joe Edkin) is a great one, and really seems like one that you would’ve read back in the Bronze Age. Artists Neil Vokes (pencils) and Jay Geldhof (inks), give us a spectacular job rendering the Doc, and all the demons inside the house! Not to be outdone is colorist, Lee Loughridge, who adds some eerie tones when needed, but also some bright tones that pop very nicely in the more brightly lit panels. A few really good black & white flashback scenes are the icing on the cake! Throw in an awesome cover by Mario Alberti, and you’ve got a gem that must be sought out by any fan of the Sorcerer Supreme! Enjoy and Merry Christmas!

 

Image (49)

Image (50)

Image (51)

Image (52)

Image (53)

Image (54)

Avengers Spotlight #39, 1990 – “Cry Crusader!”

One of my all-time favorite characters, is none other than the Black Knight! I think it goes back to the Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode where he guest starred. It was a tale featuring the menace of Mordred! Or maybe it’s my love of Arthurian times. Either way, the Black Knight kicks butt! A flying horse, (Valinor), and the Ebony Blade, make him quite a formidable fighter, and he’s proven his worth many times over as a member of the Avengers, or just as a solo hero.

In this awesome issue, the Black Knight gets framed for murder, and he must solve the puzzle of who is committing these murders using a sword, and wearing a cape and armor! With Roy & Dann Thomas writing, Greg Capullo on pencils, Tom Dzon inking, Bob Sharen on colors, and Joe Rosen lettering. An excellent story and solid artwork from a young Capullo (cover by Steve Lightle)! Enjoy!

 
Image (82)

Image (83)

Image (84)

Image (85)

Image (86)

 

DC Comics – Batman #442 (1989)

You know, I seldom buy a comic book that I don’t intend to eventually collect the entire series. First off, I’m a completest, and secondly, in the grand scheme of things, what’s the point if you don’t intend on reading the entire story? Well, recently I bought Batman #442, which falls into that category, and there were a couple of reasons, but mostly because of the George Perez cover. Yes, it’s the first appearance of Tim Drake as Robin, as well, and actually seems to be a good story too.

Plotters, Marv Wolfman and George Perez, pencils by Jim Aparo (one of the best Batman artists of all time in my humble opinion), inker, Mike DeCarlo, letter, John Costanza, and colorist Adrienne Roy (editor Denny O’Neil), bring this great story with the villain, Two-Face! Tim makes the decision to don the mantle of Robin, as he attempts to save Batman and Nightwing from certain death! Enjoy!

 

Image (24)

Image (25)

Image (26)

Image (27)

Image (28)

Image (29)

Mystic Arcana (2007)- Marvel’s Realm of Magic!

Typically, this forum is for me to spotlight something Bronze Age, but this series is something special. In 2007, I saw a book on the shelf at my local comic shop, and the cover of the Black Knight is all that was needed to suck me in. I’m a big fan of Arthurian legend, and the Black Knight has always been one of my favorite Avengers. The concept of the limited series, Mystic Arcana, (of one-shots), was to show some of the magical “highlights” of the Marvel Universe, jumping from Medieval Camelot, to ancient Egypt, and everywhere in-between. Each of the four one-shots featured one of Marvel’s magic based characters. The Black Knight, Magik, Scarlet Witch, and Sister Grimm, all have an arcane adventure in each book of the series.

In addition to those stories, there was a back-up story as well, featuring the Dr. Strange nemesis, Ian McNee. We see the young mage, as he attempts to do the bidding of Oshtur, or so he thinks. By stories end, he’s battled Morgan La Fey, Queen Llyra, Nagala, and so on. These tales were written by David Sexton, and illustrated by Eric Nguyen.

The series of one-shots was littered with talent new and old. Everyone from Roy Thomas, Walt Simonson, Jeff Parker, C.B. Cebulski, Phil Noto, and others, contributed to this great series, and everyone who’s a fan of Marvel’s magical side needs to own this one. Oh, and before I forget, check out these ridiculously awesome covers by Marko Djurdjevic, too! There was also an OHOTMU edition published later too, and it must be mentioned for any and all who covet these volumes of information!

 

Image (6)

Image (7)

Image (8)

Image (9)

Image (11)

 

Marvel’s Unsung Heroes! -Sal Buscema!

When people hear the name ‘Buscema’, they just about always gravitate to John.  Sometimes just at first, and sometimes only, but I’m here to tell you that the other Buscema brother has chops too! Sal Buscema is a gifted artist that never seems to get his due. Well, he’s going to get it today, as I spotlight some of his work right here and now! It doesn’t matter if it was The Avengers, The Defenders, Rom, or even Spider-Man, Sal Buscema put his heart and soul into his work, and that cannot be denied! He and J. M. Dematteis crafted one of the most emotional death scenes in the history of comic books. So, here’s to you, Sal Buscema, as we go forth and spread the word of your awesome work!

 

Image (84)

 

Image (78)

Image (85)

Image (86)

Image (87)

Image (88)

Image (89)

Image

Image (90)

Image (91)

Image (92)

Image (93)

 

Image (94)

Image (95)

Image (96)

 

Image (97)

Image (98)

Super-Spectacular Birthday Post- Werewolf by Night!

It’s no secret to anyone that follows me on Twitter, or is friends with me on Facebook, that I love horror comics. Mostly old school, Bronze Age stuff, but even some of the more recent books as well. So, listen, today is my birthday, and that means I’m going to post some random images of one of my favorite horror characters, Werewolf by Night (Jack Russell)! There have been many artists who’ve lent their talents to this great character, and I’ll try to be as diverse as I can using only my collection as material (as always but yes, I own a lot of black & white reprints, and do search out color shots on the web from time to time for my blog). So here’s to you Jack, may the fleas stay away and the dog biscuits be scrumptious! Enjoy!

Cover by Neal Adams

Cover by Neal Adams

artist- Leonardo manco

artist- Leonardo Manco

artist- Juan Doe

artist- Juan Doe

cover by Patch Zircher

cover by Patch Zircher

artist- Mico Suayan

artist- Mico Suayan

artist- Greg Land

cover by- Greg Land

artist- Don Perlin

artist- Don Perlin

artist- Mike Ploog

artist- Mike Ploog