Friday, December 15, 2017

The Hulk Must Die!

The second Hulk Epic collection dubbed "The Hulk Must Die" collects nearly all of the Hulk's appearances in Tales to Astonish. After the Hulk debuted soon after the Fantastic Four, his series sputtered after a mere six issues. But too powerful to be contained he became the consummate guest star appearing several times in the aforementioned Fantastic Four and becoming (briefly) a member of The Avengers and then almost immediately their antagonist.  His saga sprawled across several comics, including even the Amazing Spider-Man and eventually eventually even Tales to Astonish where he battled Giant-Man. This was a weird house warming though as the Hulk took up residence in Tales to Astonish in issue sixty. He'd never leave the title, instead eventually taking over its venerable numbering and making it his own for many decades.

But it begins with Steve Ditko who drew the last issue of the Hulk's original series and takes up the mantle of artist here. After Ditko leaves, Kirby returns in a manner of speaking eventually just offering up breakdowns for other artists to complete. Then come incredible talents like Bill Everett, trying to rekindle his career in the Marvel Age of Comics, and Gil Kane looking for new places to ply his trade after some success at DC. The saga of the Hulk continues...or perhaps it's better to say it is "Hulkinued"!

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Day In The Anti-Life - Female Fury!

As the father to two daughters the coming matriarchy does not frighten me. The litany of allegations of sexual harassment which are dominating the headlines in the wake of the Hollywood and now Washington D.C. scandals are the beginning of the end of the control of our society by men. It will take many many years, but I foresee a time when women will at long last take command of a world which has nearly for all the history of time marginalized them. The rise of women as a potent force has been evident for some time, but for whatever reason it has remained a potential rather than a reality. It appears that things are about the start changing. The reason is simple -- the rise of Trump!

Women now see that the exceedingly slow, but mildly steady progress they have witnessed over the last century is on the verge of being stopped by the election and perverse celebration of a man who is a self-confessed sexual abuser. The very real possibility that the command over their own bodies which women gained under Roe Vs. Wade so long ago now stands a not unrealistic possibility of being overturned. The rejection of the loathsome, mysogynistic, and racist Roy Moore says it all, a man who held women in utter disdain points the way forward to a time when women will rule the day.

When women gain command of the levers of power expect men to whine and whine most pitifully. For nearly the whole of modern history the white male has been ascendant. Now that is about to come to an end, as demographic changes and laws and expectations which truly single out equality are becoming increasingly the norm of society. The election of Trump was a last-ditch howl of contempt by white men (and those white women who fail to see the danger to themselves) about keeping a clutch on the power which has been slipping away for decades. Trump has populated his administration with rich white men (almost exclusively) despite a country which is in the aggregate none of those things. The rejection of Moore suggests a dramatic turn of events.

In recent years I have asked my high school classes what they thought might happen if Congress were composed of fifty percent women and fifty percent men, as opposed to the current situation which hovers beneath twenty percent and eighty percent respectively, and I was somewhat dismayed by the reaction of some of them. They actually thought a fifty-fifty split gave women an unfair advantage which makes no sense whatsoever. But upon reflection, I realized that it was a fundamental recognition that women were more competent than men at governance and that allowing women half of the pot was in effect giving them defacto control because of their superiority. The truth is glaring. Women are on the verge of taking charge of matters, and it's high time.

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Someday Funnies!

I am very behind on this one! The Someday Funnies, first put together during the 70's is a look back on the 1960's. It was a failed project for several decades until at long last in 2011 it was finally published by Abrams. It's an oddity, and the fact I got  hold of it for about twice the price of a modern comic, makes very comfortable in accepting it for what it is and not frustrated at what it's not. The lure for me was simply the presence of heretofore unseen artwork by Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Russ Heath, Dick Giordano, Herb Trimpe, Barry Smith, C.C. Beck and many more. Alongside these stalwarts are lots of Underground artists as well as oddball contributors like Federico Fellini of all people.

The contributions range from one page to two pages to sometimes three pages as we get observations, anecdotes, satires, and commentaries about different aspects of the decade which brought us Pop Art, the Beatles, Civil Rights legislation, the Vietnam War, the space race, the Pepsi Generation and much much more.

The comments are on the wry side for certain, often showcasing the contrast between the ideals of the decade and the reality of life in the United States and beyond. The collection received some criticism because the man behind the project, Michael Chochette insisted that each contributing artist leave space in their compositions for his own additions, which usually is a small cartoon image of Chochette commenting in some fashion on the message of the presentation. It's a bit of an oddity, reminding me a bit of the Mystery Science Theater gag of having commentators critique moves as they play in real time. It didn't mind these intrusions as they are just part of the presentation and intentional. It changes the way we read the stories and does serve as a binder for the entire collection.

But it's the artwork which is going to make this collection worth the price of admission. Some of it is beautifully done and that which isn't immediately lovely can be fascinating. The title does it justice, this kind of a Sunday comics supplement, not for the week, but for the decade. A time capsule in more ways than one as a voice from the 70's comments on work which attempts to comment on the 60's, produced and presented for the first time in the 21st century. Curious and curiouser.

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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Many Escapes Of Mister Miracle!

Since the fall of the Fourth World saga by Jack "King" Kirby, DC has seen fit to revive these vivid and compelling characters time and time again. Most recently, they have revived the "Super Escape Artist" yet again. I haven't sampled that comic, nor to be honest have I tried many of the revivals. But it speaks to the lasting power of Kirby's creations that they just won't go away, that they are seen as somehow still viable in a modern day.  Here are some glimpses of revivals past of Mister Miracle, who seems able to escape repeated cancellation with relative ease.

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Get Off My Porch #1 - Nothing For Money!

My advanced age is showing. Apparently now when the kids play Monopoly they don't use cash. No more nifty tray full of colorful faux money to fritter around with as the game of imaginary real estate domination trundles along. No, now you use a debit card and a little ATM to exchange money and maintain estimates of value.  For more check out this story.

Really !?!

I'm way too old. I'm going to lie down now and remember the golden days or yore when games were games and men were men. This has been the first in an irregular series from a grouchy old fart who at times finds the world around him bewildering and strange. More as it develops.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

King Strong!

I was tumbling around the vast terrain which is the internet and stumbled across the ad above. The vintage George Wilson artwork featuring "The Eighth Wonder of the World" for the vintage Gold Key adaptation from 1968, jumped out at me immediately. I don't know if the folks at Maxitile, a siding and roofing materials manufacturer knew of the origin of this artwork, but certainly the folks who made the ad knew. Here is where I found it.

I was immediately reminded how the mighty Kong has been used in ads through the decades, most famously in the Volkswagen commercial from the early 70's.

Poor Kong -- how far the mighty have fallen. Great artwork by Wilson though, even after all these years.

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Challengers Of The Unknown - Year Two!

The Challengers of the Unknown got their own title, a successful couple of runs in Showcase to their credit. the powers that be at DC knew they had a winner. Four men living on borrowed time battling the weirdest menaces imaginable. Ace Morgan, the brave and bold test pilot; Rocky Davis, a brash boxing champ; Prof Haley, resourceful and savvy scientist; and Red Ryan, a cocky but capable daredevil. These four men along with late recruit June Walker, a notable scientist in her own right, confronted bizarre menaces from outer space, inner space, and the crime-rich streets of America and beyond. They are globe-trotters supreme, able to jet across the world to see what adventure was next on the roster.

In their debut issue the team confronts an evil scientist named Tagorian who has massive lab hidden in a mountain uses his equipment to snatch impossible creatures and machines from other dimensions. Then they find themselves captured by an enormous alien who turns out to be a kid looking for  some intriguing playthings. With the second issue June pretends to be a traitor to save the other Challengers from themselves as they face the threat of a weird beast from the depths of the Earth. Then they face another evil scientist, this named Mycroft who is able to conjure beasts from myth and the imagination to battle the team. In the third issue they battle against hoods who steal the magical mirror of Kregon the Sorcerer and face off against a magical giant and a magical giant bird. Then an experiment gone wrong exposes Rocky to deadly radiation in space that makes able to throw fire, frost, lightning, turn invisible, grow to great heights, and more. The fourth issue takes the team across time as the confront a villain named Tiko who has brought men from ancient Greece and Egypt to steal. The team travels to the ancient worlds of Greece and Egypt to find their foe and end up eventually in the far future of the year 3000. They barely escape but as always find a way to live longer on their borrowed time.

Most of these stories were written by Jack Kirby and feature the inks of Marvin Stein. The fourth issue introduces the sleek inks of Wally Wood and the Challs never looked better. If the stories feel familiar, it's because the Fantastic Four would have similar adventures. It's clear that Kirby had a great deal of input on the early FF stories as he cribs from himself regularly.

More to come next week as we wrap up with the third year of the Challengers, the final by Jack "King" Kirby.

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