Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How To Prevent A Wedding, The Billy The Kid Way!!

Billy The Kid is sauntering around Mexico, when he bumps into his friend Marguerita de Ruiz. She's on the run because her jerk of a brother is trying to force her to marry the evil Roja, the "Red Devil."

Unfortunately, Billy The Kid sucks as a protector:


Roja is putting the financial screws of Marguerita's brother...

 So he puts the emotional screws on her:

Well, even as spectacular as he is, there's no way that Billy The Kid can fight his way onto that estate alone. So he's got a plan...

 The plan is called, "jump off a cliff and beat the crap out of the Justice Of The Peace!"

 And so Billy dons a disguise...

 And it's time for the wedding! But...

Well, what follows is a fairly unremarkable parade of fisticuffs, gunplay, arson, and a peon revolt. I shan't bore you with the unremarkable details.

But I shall show you that, like most males Billy The Kid is dumb when it comes to women-folk:


From Billy The Kid #80 (1970)

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Bold Fashion Choices--(The Son Of) The Devil Wears Prada?

A bonus pin-up from West Coast Avengers Annual #3 (1988):

Oh, dear. Someone actually thought that was an OK costume for the Son Of Satan?

Oh, that's right, this was the period when Marvel chickened out on the whole "Satan" angle for many of their supernatural heroes. It was no longer Satan that Johnny Blaze had made his deal with, but Mephisto; Daimon Hellstrom wasn't the son of Satan, but the demon Marduk; etc. [there have been many re-retcons and de-retcons since, but all go to great lengths to make sure we know the "actual" Satan wasn't involved...]

And since they couldn't/wouldn't call him Son Of Satan anymore, they called him "Hellstorm." And since bare chests with pentagrams were apparently no longer on the menu, they gave him this abomination of a costume.

Sadly, it wasn't good taste (or coming to their senses) that made the above an unpublished cover. It was just that that was the month of Marvel's stupidest "cover event" ever, when every mag featured just a portrait of one of the books' stars surrounded by a border mural of various Marvel heroes:

Next month, they had no problem featuring the stupid costume (on a pretty stupid cover):

Note as well the lame mini-trident. Insert size jokes here at your discretion.

In a few years they'd relaunch him again, back to the bare chest and pentagram, back to the full-size trident, minus the cape, give him a rad ponytail because it was the 90s...but they kept the "Hellstorm," going so far as to actually change his surname from Hellstrom to Hellstorm:

But no matter how edgy & cool they tried to make him, no one could ever forget that the "son of Satan" once dressed like a circus acrobat carrying a large salad fork:

The only evil there is evil costume design...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Manic 1965 Letters Columns #6--Superior Captain America Team-Up?

Spider-Man and Daredevil are buddies and frequently team-up. But as this letter from Tales Of Suspense #61 (1965) shows, not everyone agreed...

I've got to say that I think George King may have misread the personalities a bit--but it probably wasn't so evident in 1965.

Still, just wait 48 years, George...all 3 will be Avengers together!

Hmm, Major Catastrophe? Anyone got a trademark on that? Hmmm...

Manic 1965 Letters Columns #5--Put The Old Order Back!!

Avengers #16, "The Old Order Changeth," was one of the more important issues in early Marvel history.

But there were some fans who hated it to pieces, as we can see in these letters from Avengers #19 (1965)...

"If any super-hero leaves a team after only a little over a year of issue published, I'd say he doesn't have much stamina!"?? Kid, the Hulk left after only two issues!!

But, as ever, Stan will go to any lengths to satisfy:

Hmm, that would create some crazy collectors items, eh? Or perhaps be the basis of one of a What If? I can't believe they've never done--"What If The Olde Order Never Changethed?"

This guy was even less happy:

"Truly seedy second-rate characters"? Man, I hope you weren't around for the Bendis days. Or this line-up...

Don;t worry, Stan, they got over it...

Manic 1965 Letters Columns #4--Don't Try Bluffing Stan, Or He'll Cut You!

Efforts to make yourself look important could backfire on you, as we see in this letter from Avengers #22 (1965):

Wow. "I have read over 200,000 comics in my life"? He's a "fairly important comic critic"?!? "This is not a threat but just based on the facts"?

You just want to slap him, don't you?

Ah, but don't go trying to boost your rep in front of Stan. He don't put up with no fools:

"You're fibbing--otherwise how are you?"

Check and mate.

Manic 1965 Letters Columns #3--Commies, Not Nazis!

From the letters column in Tales Of Suspense #72 (1965), a statement on realpolitik and the proper subject for comic book stories:

Nazis were "at a new low" in 1965? Say it isn't so!

Of course, this letter could come up again in the post-Cold War era..."Dear editors...the communists are at a new low. Cap should be fighting..."

Perhaps more contentious is George Hagenauers feelings about kid sidekicks. It apparently hurt Captain America's feelings!

Of course, in 2011 DC would adopt George's position on sidekicks, rebooting all of them out of existence (except for seemingly infinite Robins). They even still have a Teen Titans mag where none of them (save Tim Drake) were ever young sidekicks. Sigh...

Manic 1965 Letters Columns #2--Jack Kirby Ain't #$%^!

Because unanimous opinions weren't always unanimous, let us bring you this missive from X-Men #10 (1965):

"No refinement"? "Unpleasing to the discerning comic book fan"?!? Not up to the standards of Don Heck or Dick Ayers?

Oh, Norman...I hope you learned to hide those opinions in the future, lest the weight of received conventional critical wisdom come down on you like a ton of bricks.

Stan is very civil in his response...

Manic 1965 Letters Columns #1--The He-Man Woman Haters Club!

Great moments in gender relations, from the letters page in Avengers #16 (1965):

Yeah, how dare a girl criticize a guy's comic? What is the world coming to??

(Of course, if it was 2013, John Halloran would have called her a "fake geek girl." The more things change...)

But don't worry--Stan has an answer ready!

Marvel didn't care about your gender...they just wanted your money!!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

How Tony Stark Got Rich

So how did he get so rich?

Obviously, smarmy Tony Stark got hawking T-shirts!!
Apparently, the "whole country" was going "T-Shirt Wild" in 1965? This was a thing?

But wait--there's more!

Tony Stark--the original Ron Popeil!

BONUS: Evidence of the fatification of America--

In 1965, the was no call for XL or XXL sizes in super-hero T-shirts!! I guess that leaves me out. Damn you, Tony Stark!!

From Tales Of Suspense #70 (1965)

Poor Little Rich Boy

In case you've been having problems feeling sympathetic towards billionaire playboy philanthropist super-heroes...

"My heart must remain as cold as the armor I wear--forever!"

Boo hoo sob sob wouaaa wouaaa wu wu wouaaaaaaaaaa...

Sorry, lost it there for a minute. Excuse me whilst I wipe away the tears...

From Tales Of Suspense #71 (1965)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Best. Prediction. Ever. (And, Where The Hell Is Rick?)

Let's take the Wayback Machine all the way back to 1965, and to letter column of Tales To Astonish #63:

"We all know that you're going to bring back Bucky..."

Slow applause for John P. Begley of Harlan, Kentucky (do you know Raylan Givens?). You called it, 40 years early!!

The response?

Oh, yes, play it coy, Stan. Marvel was planning this from the beginning, playing the long game, eh?

Still this does bring up the question, Where The Hell Is Rick Jones? Responsible for creation of the Hulk; responsible in part for bringing the Avengers together; partner of Captain America AND Captain Marvel AND Captain Marvel Jr AND ROM; saved THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE during the Kree/Skrull War; world-famous author and rock star; mentored the Runaways. His middle name is Milhouse!!

And yet, despite a Hulk movie and Captain America movie and Avengers movie, no Rick Jones. WTF?

And in the comics? As near as I can tell, since transforming into "A-Bomb" (sigh) and getting entangled with all the silly Hulk stuff, Rick hasn't been seen in Marvel-616 for well nigh unto 2 years. (I'm told he had a cameo in Hunger #1 last week...that merely highlights that Ultimate Rick Jones is getting for more time and attention than the real Rick Jones).

Marvel: Rick Jones. Now. Thank you.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday Night Wistfulness

There are no Friday Night Fights this week. But that shan't stop little old me!!

Let's travel back to 1988, as the majority of Earth's heroes are at death's door, victims of the Dominator metagene bomb.

So all the heroes who aren't metagene-powered are making a last-ditch run to take out the Dominator ships and find a cure...

Oh, yeah, it's on!!

Oh, dear...

Flash-forward to today...sad, that in the nu52, most of the heroes seem to share Guy Gardner's bloodthirsty approach. Sigh...

Guy sets the template for the heroes of the future in Invasion Book Three (1988), by Keith Giffen (plot and breakdowns), Bill Mantlo (script), Bart Sears (pencils) and Pablo Marcos (inks). Phew!!

Now would normally be the time for you to go and vote. But no voting this week. So go and see a movie or something...