Thursday, January 31, 2013
Here's an outstanding George Perez portrait of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne which served as not one, not two, not three, but four covers for The Avengers in the 90's. This image was divided into quarters and one fourth was showcased each month as a flip cover for The Avengers under the alternate title "Giant-Man". I still remember waiting patiently each month to get the next installment of his Perez classic.
These were done during a surprisingly evocative period in Avengers history, when Bob Harras was the scribe. The Avengers at this time had a compelling story to tell which really made for an exciting and often overlooked period in the history of the team. Below are the original covers.
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
In the modern Marvel Universe the "Age of Ultron" is almost upon us. So lots of folks will be talking about Dr.Pym's nefarious robotic baby. Weighing in on the subject in the latest issue of Alter Ego, Roy Thomas offers up the secrets behind Ultron's creation.
It turns out that Roy was inspired to create a his "indestructible antagonist" for the Mighty Assemblers by an old issue of Captain Video comics which lived in his memory. In that issue we meet "Makino", a robot who has destroyed his own creator and who imagines he can rule all of mankind. Here's a peek.
Makino's toothy maw sure looks familiar. Take a gander at Ultron's debut on the last page of Avengers #54. To read the first part of the story check out this vintage link. To read the rest see this link.
Jarvis in this epic double reveal is the agent of the then unknown Ultron. He would soon turn on the creature who had caused him to betray his employers. Ultron revealed used the Masters of Evil to confront the Avengers, but Ultron's true motivations would be unknown for a few issues. Eventually we meet the Vision and discover that Ultron was the creation of Henry Pym.
A few issues later he returns and the Avengers defeat him at the United Nations of all places.
His enmity for his creator, his loathing for mankind has proven to be a toxic motivation which has kept Ultron one of the most potent Avengers villains for decades.
Here is a short cover gallery of some of his better appearances.
For more details on the creation and evolution of Ultron be sure to check out the next few issues of Alter Ego.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013
This evocative and graceful 1978 Marvel Premiere cover by Dave Cockrum and Joe Sinnott dropped out of nowhere. The saga of Seeker 3000 immediately puts me in the mind of those classic Star Trek adventures, a dynamic captain and his determined and varied crew in a sleek spaceship poised to cruise across the depths of space. That was doubtless intentional.
The actual comic book story by underrated scribe Doug Moench and painfully underrated artist Tom Sutton gives us something a bit stranger still. It's rather high-concept sci-fi. To read the lone Bronze Age adventure of Seeker 3000 check out this link.
In 1998 Marvel decided to finally exploit this lost gem. First they reprinted the story from Marvel Premiere #41 under a new cover by Andrew Currie and Art Nichols, which intentionally evokes the Cockrum original.
This was done to promote the four-issue limited adventure written by Dan Abnett and Ian Edgington. Here is a the complete cover gallery.
Apparently the series never caught on, and these six comics are all that exist of the intriguing universe of Seeker 3000. I've never read the follow up stories, but I suspect they might be found in many a back issue bin. Might be worth the time, or perhaps not.
Monday, January 28, 2013
One of the pivotal moments in Marvel history has to be when the Fab 4 first encountered Sentry #459 at his lonely outpost in Fantastic Four #64.
This issue by the legendary Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott team marked the introduction by name of the Kree.
The "defeat" of the Sentry resulted in the arrival of Ronan the Accuser the very next issue, and eventually triggered the deployment of Captain Mar-Vell to Earth. Captain Marvel himself battled Sentry #459 soon thereafter. Eventually this same Sentry came into conflict with the Avengers a few times, first as part of Ronan the Accuser's tactics in the Kree-Skrull War and later as part of Heavy Metal, a gang of sundry robotic foes. The Sentry even went on to battle the obscure Marvel hero Blackwulf.
What I like about the Sentry is that he is relentlessly loyal to his orders, a force to be reckoned with truly. Here is a cover gallery featuring some of Sentry #459's greatest battles. My feeling is he's still out there waiting for further orders.
Sunday, January 27, 2013
This cover by Jack Kirby and Dan Adkins for the reprint title Marvel Triple Action #29 offers up an action-packed scene featuring Goliath and the rest of the Avengers from that era.
The Kirby cover is a reworking of this scene by Gil Kane which was used as the original cover for Avengers #37 which first featured the story "To Conquer A Colossus!" by Roy Thomas. Kane was doing a host of covers for Marvel at this moment and this image was deemed stronger than the original produced by Don Heck.
Here is that original Don Heck cover, offering up yet a third interpretation of the same scene of Goliath caught in the energetic cords of the Ultroid leader Ixar's robot warrior, his fellow Assemblers rushing to save him.I suspect this cover was rejected because too many of the Avengers have their backs to the reader. Pietro is virtually invisible.
And here's what one fan created by adding color to Heck's artwork, giving us a great look at what might've been had the original cover been used and had gone to press. Beautiful.
Three interpretations of the same cover by three great artists. Take your pick!
Saturday, January 26, 2013
Here's a typical "Marvel Masterwork Pin-up" from the olden days. Marvel produced these little gems now and again, sometimes as premiums in the annuals and elsewhere, but often as page fillers for comics which ran short in some way. This one seems frankly to be the latter. It appeared in Mighty Marvel Western #46. The figures of Kid Colt, Two-Gun Kid, and Rawhide Kid all seem to be drawn by Jack Kirby and inked by Dick Ayers.
The same figures were used on the covers of Mighty Marvel Western as icons, part of the logo beginning with issue sixteen of the comics rather impressive Bronze Age run. But where did these distinctive images first appear. As it turns out all three are not surprisingly from classic Kirby and Ayers covers.
The Kid Colt figure first appeared on the cover of Kid Colt Outlaw #95 from the winter of 1960. Colt is busting out of town, guns blazing as cowboys clamber all over the somewhat off-scale buildings to get a good shot at the infamous Holstein haute-coutured owlhoot.
The Two-Gun Kid image first shows up on the cover of Two-Gun Kid #62 from 1963, imbedded in a wordless thought balloon as the damsel wishes the more heroic masked hero were on the scene to assist the atypically bold and brazen Matt Hawk. Little does she know of course.
The Rawhide Kid drawing first appeared on Rawhide Kid #20 from 1961, and showcases Mrs.Bart's leather-clad little boy facing off against his enemy in the middle of the street as the townsfolk shuffle off to seeming safety. The comment though about the Kid's ability to draw seems off point as his pistol appears already pointed at his opponent.
All comics companies are well practiced at re-purposing artwork, squeezing out the last gram of value from the hard work of their employees. It's always fun to track down these classic images in their original environments.
UPDATE: Here is a vintage 1965 ad which features the very image used in the later pin-up. The original images were apparently assembled for the first time for this merchandise. Thanks for the tip Darkmark.