Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Raddest Man Alive

I know this is Unofficial Mike-Zeck-Era Master Of Kung Fu Week, but we musn't ignore the contributions of the man who scripted over 100 issues: Doug Moench.

How rad was Moench? Well, at the exact same time he was writing the deep and violent MOKF, he was also writing--

a continuing Godzilla series, wherein Godzilla trashes Las Vegas, and fights the Champions, Fantastic Four, Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D....AND Devil Dinosaur. But wait, there's more!! Because at the EXACT same time, he was also writing--

SHOGUN WARRIORS!! Giant mecha robots battling monsters and other giant robots! And yes, it was set in the Marvel Universe.

Folks, that's versatility.

Man...Godzilla, Rom, Shogun Warriors, Micronauts...the Marvel Universe sure was a fun place back in 1979...

Ad appeared in Master Of Kung Fu #74 (1979).

Games Of Death And Deceit

Sir Denis Nayland Smith and crew are on the run from a rogue faction of MI-6, so they've decided to hole up at his ancestral Scottish castle (hey, it's England--they ALL have ancestral castles!):


Yup, it's still Unofficial Mike-Zeck-Era Master Of Kung Fu Week. This bit of failed quadruple thinking comes from Master Of Kung Fu #73 (1979).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Manic Monday--Shang Chi, Master Of Kung Fu F.A.Q.

Q: What is Shang-Chi's favorite album?

(Google it, lazybones--you want me to do all the work for you?)

Q: What does Shang-Chi think of pizza?

Q: Can Shang-Chi bring the lovin'?

Ladies and gentleman, Comic Code approved lovin'.

Q: What is Shang-Chi's favorite movie?


Q: Who is Black Jack Tarr's favorite artist?

Q: What is the absolute coolest, most influential scene in Master of Kung Fu history?

Well, around here, at least...

All panels from The Hands Of Shang-Chi, Master Of Kung Fu #71, 72 and 75 (1978-1979)...all by Doug Moench, Mike Zeck, and Bruce Patterson.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

You Know Who Doesn't Get Enough Props?

Mike Zeck, that's who doesn 't get enough props. Especially when it comes to Master of Kung Fu.

All too often he gets disregarded as the "guy who came between Paul Gulacy and Gene Day." Which is not only nuts, but way unfair.

Zeck's first real work for Marvel was MOKF #55, when, in his own words, "Marvel needed 22 pages of pencils in a week." After (seemingly constantly) pitching in fill-in issues because Jim Craig simply couldn't come anywhere near meeting a monthly deadline, Zeck was finally offered the job permanently with #71 (he had already been drawing all the issues since #67).

His tenure on MOKF was as versatile as it was underrated, as Shang-Chi and company blithely skipped from back-alley gang fights to cartoonish super-villains to grand sci-fi opuses to vicious kung fu battles...and usually a mix off all of those.

He's better known for his work on the Punisher and Secret Wars and Kraven's Last Hunt, but I come to tell you this--Zeck rocked MOKF hard.

So, this week has become the Unofficial Mike-Zeck-Era Master Of Kung Fu Week. Join us, won't you?

All pencils and inks by Mike Zeck, except the cover to MOKF #97, which was inked by John Beatty

Saturday, March 28, 2009

And Your Little Dog, Too!

Two things I've learned from recent searches that have led people to this blog:

A) People really, really, REALLY cannot spell "cowl."

B) Someone used the phrases "wizard of oz" "pick up lines" to find me, which is so wrong on so many levels.

Then again, for some unfathomable reason Slay Monstrobot came up #1 in that search (thanks, Google!!), so, let's give the people what they want.

"Say, baby, I know where we can get a lot of poppies."
"Are you a good witch, a bad witch, or a really bad witch?"
"Surrender, Dorothy."
"Would you like to see my courage?"
"Care to pet my winged monkey?"
"Those ruby slippers really do reflect up, don't they?"

Man, I'm am so going to Hell...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Friday Night Fights--Why Can't We All Just Get Along Style!!

Only one panel to bring da pain?

Hey, I needed those intestines!!Consider it brought.

Spacebooger, though, wouldn't have needed to use a shield.

Guardian disemboweling Gangbuster is from Superman #27 (1989), brought to us by Roger Stern, Kerry Gammil, and Brett Breeding. Don't worry, kids...Gangbuster got better!!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Houdini Snacks?

This is probably more in Michael May's bailiwick...but I'm reading a biography, and I discover the 17th coolest thing ever:

But you MUST pay the rent!!Harry Houdini versus a robot!!

That's actually a lobby card from a 1920 movie serial starring Houdini, "The Master Mystery." OK, so they weren't very good with titles yet back then...that picture comes from the book The Secret Life of Houdini by William Kalush and Larry Sloman.

Here's an American and a French poster:

This guy would have made 'I, Robot' much better
All robots should have teethSome say that this is the first ever motion picture appearance of a robot, although there seems to be some disagreement. But (SPOILER ALERT for a 90 year old silent film serial) it turns out that it's not really a robot--the bad guy is just dressing up like a robot.

Which, of course, begs the question: If there had never been an on-screen depiction of a robot, how the did villain come up with idea to dress up like a robot? If only Scooby Doo were here to help us...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Watches The Keene Act

One thing that always puzzled me a bit about Watchmen, even back in the day, was the Keene Act.

In the history of the Watchmen's America, in 1977 the police in New York City and Washington DC went on strike, "claiming that costumed adventurers are making their job impossible."

Fact: people in comics demonstrate far more readily than real Americans doAs a result, the federal government rushed through the Keene Act, so "vigilantism is now illegal again, as it was before they altered the laws to accommodate strategically useful talents."

And that's about all that Moore and Gibbons tell us. In this deeply detailed world, one of the most important story elements is really just glossed over, without a lot of explanation or detail.

Let's leave aside the question of federal involvement. After all, both Marvel and DC have, at various times, had the federal government step in and ban heroes...although nothing remotely on the scale of Stamford happens pre-Keene here, not that we know of. And we'll leave aside the issue of why a federal law is being enforced by local cops, and the only captured vigilante is put into a state prison. Where's the FBI? Shouldn't Rorschach be in federal custody?

Perhaps the more important question is, would we really have two cities (or were there more?) worth of police strikes and a massive federal intervention, over the activities of 3 non-powered dudes in masks?

All this mishegas for just 3 people??In 1977, Ozymandias had already been retired for a couple of years. Doc Manhattan and the Comedian are "exempt" from the Keen Act, because they "work entirely for the government."

All we are is dust in the wind, dudes
Serious question--would the Nixon portrayed here have allowed the Shah to be deposed? Would there have been an Iranian hostage crisisWhich means the police strikes, and the vast public hatred of masks, was somehow caused by Nite Owl II, Rorschach, and Silk Spectre II. These are the only heroes (aside from the "exempts") active in 1977, unless there's an awful lot Moore and Gibbons weren't telling us. The entire point of the police strikes and the Keene Act was just to ban 3 people? Really?

The other thing to consider, is why the opposition to heroes? By 1977, masks had been operating for almost 40 years. There was nothing new here. Look at all the newspaper clippings and trophies in the background in the various chapters...masks operated with some level of acclaim and public acceptance. As late as 1962, they're having a "civic banquet" and "in gratitude" awards for Nite Owl I. For four decades masks had been tolerated, and even celebrated.

Gratitude apparently expires in 15 yearsSo why, exactly, did the police suddenly find that masks were "making their job impossible?" There's not even a hint in the comics. During Veidt's mammoth 9,000-page Sorkinesque walk-and-talk exposition in issue 11, he opines that Doc Manhattan "somehow symbolized mankind's problems. As tensions rose, the elevation of costumed heroes became a descent...I foresaw that by the late Seventies, it would reach bottom." But that doesn't really explain a massive police strike. That still seems to beg some sort of precipitating incident, doesn't it? Some mini-Stamford, if you will, some event that lit off the powder keg.

(Before anyone suggests Veidt somehow manipulated events, I'd say that if he had done so, he certainly would have boasted about it in #11, as he brags about every iota of his life and plans. Seriously, the issue is 10,453 pages of self-aggrandizing exposition, a real-momentum killer...just in case you thought Watchmen in graphic novel form was perfect.)

Moore and Gibbons leave us to speculate for ourselves, then. Would the activities of 3 masks be enough to cause every cop to walk off the job?!? How was their job made impossible?

I've got a theory, backed by nothing but speculation. But Rorschach's kidnap case, the one that drove him around the bend, was in 1975. In those 2 years before the strikes, Rorschach was no longer "soft," and would kill many of the crooks he caught. So the police and the public would be confronted with a growing pile of bodies, and gazing into that abyss made them lose sympathy for all the heroes.

Still, there's no real spark, is there? But what if...what if Rorschach had beaten the crap out of, or even killed, an undercover cop, mistaking him for a perp? That would be spark enough, wouldn't it? And while we see Manhattan and the Comedian and Silk Spectre and Nite Owl dealing with the Keen riots, we never see Rorschach there...so we don't get his thoughts on the police strike, or the anarchy, or the causes. Hmmmm...

Just a theory, nothing to back it up. But seriously, can you see anything Nite Owl or Silk Spectre doing being enough to cause a police strike? We can only wonder, because the authors didn't clue us in...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bulletman's Rogue's Gallery

I love lame rogue's galleries, like Aquaman's. But there's something special about the Golden Age, when you got 1,000 pages for a dime, and a character might appear in 3 or 4 different comics each month. Obviously the creators really had to stretch to come up with villains for all those stories.

So I shouldn't be too harsh when it comes to Bulletman's dire enemies. But still...

Taking lessons from Doctor Manhattan, obviouslyCome again?

Follwed by The Pranks of Captain Prank, and...OK, I can't say they're ripping anything off, because this predates DC's Riddler by six years. But couldn't they come up with a more creative title than the Riddle of Dr. Riddle? What else is he going to bring? Tacos?

Let's take a closer look at all the villains in Bulletman #50 (1942).

The lead story has Bulletman and Bulletgirl facing...

So NOT a LebowskiThe Dude. Really. What's his gimmick?

Now let's go bowlingAh, dapperness as a personality defect. Loverly.

Next up, not a joke, not a hoax, not a hallucination:

Gravity control, super strength, flight, heightened intelligence...and we're befuddled by a fat man with a caneYes, they must battle a guy...who is fat.

Again, to be fair, this predates the Kingpin by 2+ decades, and the guy is a pretty nasty piece of work. Click on the following page if you want to see a full size nightmare inducer (he had come across two youths fighting over a sweater):

Wertham was right!!Ewww. It turns out the quarter was coated with a deadly contact poison. Here's a close-up of evil:

Remember--comics today are too grim!!Look kids, comics!!

So Fat Bastard (I mean Fat Fiend) wasn't so lame...but couldn't they have come up with a better name??

Next up, the fellow called out on the cover:

The anti-DudeHe pretty much follow what would become the Riddler's motif--leaving riddles forecasting his next crimes. The big difference between this guy and Edward Nigma? This guy's a stone killer, killing his victims 80% of the time. Plus, the riddles aren't all that good (What has eighteen legs and catches flies in the same story as What has four wheels and flies? When is a door not a door?!? That was lame and cliche even back then...) Also, there's no evidence that this guy actually has a doctorate in Riddleology...

Last up...

I have nothing to say hereYup, another murdering bastard. The Murder Prophet's gimmick was that he forecast his crimes to a local paper so they could build their circulation by beating the other papers...then of course he tried to kill the owner and take over the powerful paper himself (PROTIP: not likely to happen in 2009).

You know, I'm not sure sure whether they ever declared what city Bulletman's adventures took place in, but man, it's a cesspool that makes Gotham City look like Metropolis. It seems like every villain--every one--is a vile murderer, leaving a trail of bodies before our heroes get involved. The stories in this one issue had 21 on-page murders, and "many others" off-screen. Let's see, 50 issues, 20 murders each, plus his adventures in Nickel Comics and Master Comics and America's Greatest Comics...this city should be pretty near de-populated by now!!

Maybe Bulletman's villains weren't so lame after all...a little bit of PR, a different costume and name...they could have been contenders.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Manic Monday--Kadets Of America

For once, I'm absolutely speechless, as I have no idea of what to make of this:

I'm sure it's perfectly innocent...but it sure gives me the heebie-jeebies...

This ad appeared in Plastic Man #64 (1956).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The More Things Change...

For years, we've heard complaints about some artists being terrible at drawing feet. That's nothing new, though. Allow me to present a letter from Fantastic Four #12 (1963):

Even The King wasn't immune from feet fetishists.

I sure hope Tommy Jones of Aberdeen, Maryland wasn't still reading comics in the 1990's...his poor head might have exploded.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Early April Fools??

So, this week at ComicsPRO, Wildstorm announced that the Grant Morrison/Jim Lee run on WildC.A.Ts would be released a graphic novel, which will be solicited "only after it's complete."

They also said that the final issue of Planetary would ship "sometime this year."

Hahahahahaha...oh, wait, they weren't joking?

I'm just a poor corrupt official, but I'd be willing to wager many quatloos against both of those things happening in 2009. Heck, give me good odds and I'd bet that neither would happen.

Some other bloggers out there have wondered about Wildstorm having an identity problem as a brand. Me, I think they've got a perfectly clear identity as the home for unfinished-runs-by-popular-creators-who-are-slower-than-hell-or-else-left-to-do-better-paying-work-for-the-Big-Two (not to mention home for near-infinite-relaunches-of-the-same-five-franchises).

For all the (justified) mockery of the delays for Ultimate Hulk vs.Wolverine, we're now 2 1/2 years since the release of Planetary #26 and Morrison & Lee's WildC.A.T.s vol 4 #1 (although without the same public scorn, for some reason). During which time John Cassaday found plenty of time to draw 10 or so issues of Astonishing X-Men and countless covers, including LOTS of incentive covers for Dynamite and others; and during which time Warren Ellis seems to have a comic coming out every week; and during which time Morrison & Lee have been apparently too busy in high-profile work for DC to actually tell more than 1/6 of their story. Guys, I really love Planetary (WildC.A.T.s not so much)--but it's hard for me to work up any enthusiasm when the creators can't be bothered to finish their story.

That's Wildstorm--it's the comic book version of the Island of Misfit Toys.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Friday Night Fights--Hercules vs. King Arthur Style!!

Maybe, just maybe, you shouldn't piss off someone who is a modern analogue of Hercules:

You must respect the pony tailOuch, babe. And did you have to add insult to injury by swearing?

Of course, Spacebooger would have took that punch without flinching...

Matt Wagner, Matt Wagner, and Matt Wagner brought us the beatdown in Mage: The Hero Defined #15 (1999). Hey, Matt--where the hell is volume three? It's been a decade, dude...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Squid Sighting

Upon further review, the squid is indeed in the Watchmen movie...but you have to look very carefully and quickly.

mmm, Calamari...Well, not the actual fake extradimensional alien telepathic evil squid thingie. But a little hat tip.

In the scene where Doc Manhattan is teleporting the reactor to Veidt's Antarctic fortress, watch the video screen on which we see Veidt. In the background behind Ozymandias, you see his scientists gathered in a gaggle, waiting for the reactor. Behind and above them is a sign, which reads:


Yes, it looks just like that, with the intial letters bold and large. Pretty obvious, but it's only on screen for a second or so (or less)...then the incoming reactor covers it up.

So, yay, squid!!

I wish I had an Antarctic fortress...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tales From The Quarter Bin--Elson's?!?

Sometimes foraging through the quarter bins, you stumble upon something that makes you go "Wha?"

Today it's these oddball collections of DC's that I found:

As you can see, they've got exactly the same cover, except for the background color and the "series" number. They're square bound, with no price marking of any kind.

On the inside? Each one contains three (apparently random) DC issues. In their entirety, original ads and letters pages and all. Series 2 contains Superman #355, Ghosts #96, and JLA #186. Series 3 rocks out with New Teen Titans #3, Secrets of the Haunted House #32, and Wonder Woman #275. Series 5 has Legion of Super-Heroes #271, Green Lantern #136, and Super Friends #40. All of those issues are January 1981.

The inside front and back covers of the collections are blank--just empty white glossy paper, which is kind of freaky, actually.

So what the heck is Elson's? Well, fortunately, we get a little comic story on the back cover of each one:

Yet another ad spun off of the Hostess templateAnd in detail:

Yes, Kurt Cobain started here...Yes, he said "Grunge!"

Yes, please advertise rude, insulting clerks!
Since I've already purchased the comic there, do you really need to do such a hard sell?Ahhh, a chain of airport/hotel newsstands. I suppose a series of repackaged comic books might make sense for them. The GCD tells us
Other 1981 comics repackaged by DC Comics for Elson's Gift and News shops (typically in hotels and transportation hubs). Each comic has the same cover art, but the background colors and the three-issue interiors are different for each book. There is debate whether these are remaindered comics or were printed at the same time as the originals
I've done some small bit of traveling, and I've never even heard of Elson's, so either they are (were?) regional, or they went out of business way back when. It looks like remaindered repackaged comic books weren't enough to save the day.

Still, quite the nifty deal at 25¢. But given the lack of any cover pricing, and the typical evil mark-up at hotel/airport gift shops ($3 for a 12-ounce can of Coke? Are you kidding me, you sadistic thieves?!?!), what do you think these babies retailed for "new?" The three comics individually would have gone for $1.50, so I'm thinking $2.99, at least...

Oh, and the cartoon on the back is "copyright DC Comics," so DC went the extra mile and made the little story of "our hero" for Elson's. Isn't it about time DC brought this guy into mainstream continuity??