Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Chris is on Infinite Earths, Year One - Favorite Pieces

The stand-alone version of a Top Ten commemorating the one-year blogiversary of Chris is on Infinite Earths.  This list will be featured at the tail-end of the 01.31.2017 piece.

Batman #416 (February, 1988)
"White Gold and Truth"
Jim Starlin (W) / Jim Aparo (A)
Original Post-Date: November 11, 2016

Very possibly the best issue (new or old) I'd read the entire year.  I'm a sucker for Bat-family dysfunction and this one absolutely brings it.  I'd long written off Jim Starlin as a "cosmic" writer... his late 1980's Batman run has totally changed my mind on that!

Superman #327 (September, 1978)
"Two Can Die as Cheaply as One!"
Cary Bates (W) / Kurt Schaffenberger (A)
Original Post-Date: September 17, 2016

There were two stories in this issue, but it's the back-up that I had the most fun with.  We get a really awesome Mr. & Mrs. Superman story, from which I pulled my "Superman being blown up in his car" image I use on various social media sites.

Tales of the Teen Titans #42 (May, 1984)
"The Eyes of Tara Markov!"
Marv Wolfman (W) / George Perez (A)
Original Post-Date: August 12, 2016

Such an emotion-wrecking good time.  I've said it many times... every time I read The Judas Contract, I always get that hope that eventually Terra's going to "come around".  Of course that's not how things work.  Terra's tale was a difficult but enjoyable one to chronicle here last Summer.

Justice League #1 (May, 1987)
"Born Again"
Giffen/DeMatteis (W) / Kevin Maguire (A)
Original Post-Date: January 1, 2017

This piece was special to me as it was my picking up on a previous failed-blog attempt.  It felt good to actually see this one through.  The issue was also quite fun to discuss.

Superman Meets the Quik Bunny (1987)
"Quik Thinking"
Mike Carlin (W) / Carmine Infantino (A)
Original Post-Date: March 6, 2016

Discussing this book was one of the things that illustrated the potential this blog has.  I have a love of the obscure and "novel" in comics... and it doesn't get much more novel than this!  This issue kinda fell into my lap, and I'm happy I was able to share it.

Batgirl Special #1 (1988)
"The Last Batgirl Story"
Barbara Randall (W) / Barry Kitson (A)
Original Post-Date: January 23, 2017

A very recent entry... but one I had a lot of fun reading and writing about.  It comes from a time in Barbara Gordon history, which up to this point, I didn't even know existed!  Stories like this are part of the reason I started writing about comics.

Wild Dog #2 (October, 1987)
"Blowed Up Real Good!"
Max Collins (W) / Terry Beatty (A)
Original Post-Date: May 17, 2016

Around mid-May I hit my 100th Daily Post... and kinda fell into a bit of burn out.  Writing became a bit of a chore, and I was considering stepping away for a bit.  I felt like I was trying to hard to write for an audience, covering books that I didn't really want to... then along came Wild Dog.  Pure fun!

Ambush Bug Stocking Stuffer #1 (1986)
"I Knew I Shoulda Taken that Left Toyn Back in Albakoyky"
Keith Giffen (W/A)
Original Post-Date: July 7, 2016

Despite the fact that my Christmas entries almost always result in a pretty hefty dip in readership, I still had a blast covering this wacky book.

Angel Love #3 (October, 1986)
Barbara Slate (W/A)
Original Post-Date: August 27, 2016

This was the one issue of Angel Love that eluded me for over a year.  This was another "re-invigoration" issue for me.  I was getting a bit tired of writing, and again... considered stepping away for a little while.  Was lucky to come across this little book which reignited my interest in discussing these silly stories.

Lois Lane #1 (August, 1986)
"When it Rains, God is Crying: Chapters I & II"
Mindy Newell (W) / Gray Morrow (A)
Original Post-Date: February 18, 2016

This was a very interesting book to cover... in light of my own "Secret Origin" which I droned on about for far too long above.  This has to do with missing and abducted children... and Ms. Newell absolutely crushed it with her research.  A pleasure to read and discuss.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Weird Comics History - The Sentry

Below is a depository for Sentry-related research materials for Weird Comics History, Episode 18... click to embiggen.

ABOVE: The first mention of Artie Rosen.  This appeared at the very end of a letters column in Daredevil (vol.2) #9 (July, 1999)

ABOVE: The underrated Rosen passes away from heart failure on January 14, 2000.  From Wizard Magazine #103 (April, 2000).

ABOVE: The widow-Rosen finds some interesting things packed away... From Wizard Magazine #105 (June, 2000)

 ABOVE: The news is out... from Wizard Magazine #116 (May, 2001)

ABOVE: Stan's Scintillating Sentry Scoop lettercolls from the miniseries.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Chris is on Infinite Earths Top 10 Posts - 2016

#1 - DC/Marvel All-Access #3 (1997)
Original Post-Date: 11.02.2016
View Count: 742

This, my most-viewed post of 2016 (which is to say, all-time), definitely owes a great debt of gratitude to the force that is #SuperBlogTeamUp (Magic Edition).  Without the shares and support of my fellow Super-Bloggers, I doubt this post would've received even a quarter of the views it did!

#2 (tie) - Justice League of America #233 (1984)
Original Post-Date: 05.05.2016
View Count: 585

This was my sorta-kinda Cinco de Mayo post where I took a look at our old friend, Vibe.  A lot of fun here... and neat that the story title was Rebirth, in light of the events of the late-Spring/early-Summer.  Many thanks to Justin over at DC in the 80's for sharing this one, along with residual SBTU viewers... which takes us to...

#2 (tie) - Justice League America #52 (1991)
Original Post-Date: 05.04.2016
View Count: 585

This was my first Super-Blog Team-Up offering... and boy was I nervous.  The theme was "Versus" in light of the release of Captain America: Civil War in theaters.  SBTU has definitely been one of my highlights of the year... really dig the camaraderie and the friendships!

#3 - Justice League of America #179 (1980)
Original Post-Date: 04.29.2016
View Count: 521

Another Justice League appearance in the Top Ten!  This one "moved up the charts" thanks to shares from both DC in the 80's and Shag from Firestorm Fan.  Both great sites, well worth your time... though, if you're here, you're probably already aware of them.

#4 - Superman (vol.2) #70 (1992)
Original Post-Date: 10.18.2016
View Count: 492

Here's one that came out of nowhere... I really don't know how it received so many views.  It was part of my October-long #boohauntedblog special event, which was a brother-concept with one of my brother-bloggers, Mike Carlyle over at the Crapbox of Son of Cthulhu.

#5 - Batman #350 (1982)
Original Post-Date: 10.26.2016
View Count: 394

Another oddity for the list... not one I was expecting to break triple-digits.  Maybe folks were scouring the blogosphere for Vampire stories this October?  Anyhoo... great three-part horrory Batman story, well worth checking out!

#6 (tie) - The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans
Original Post-Date: 05.27.2016
View Count: 298

A special review timed to hit when X-Men Apocalypse hit theaters.  A great issue to revisit featuring my two favorite comic book teams.  Big thanks to the Danger Room podcast for sharing this on social media.

#6 (tie) - Christmas with the Super-Heroes #1 (1988)
Original Post-Date: 12.21.2016
View Count: 298

A very recent entry, helped in no short measure by it's inclusion in the Super-Blog Team-Up (Holiday).  My Christmas-themed reviews almost always see a dip in viewership, but this one soared.  This is also my longest post written in 2016, weighing in at over 5,000 words!

#7 - Man of Steel #1 (1986)
Original Post-Date: 04.25.2016
View Count: 296

This was a post I wrote to coincide with a Weird Comics History Segment for the Weird Science DC Comics Podcast.  Reggie and I discussed the time in which Marvel was trying to license the DC characters... leading to John Byrne writing a treatment for "Marvel's Superman".  This post not only reviews the issue, but compares and contrasts it with the original pitch!

#8 (tie) - Justice League of America #224 (1984)
Original Post-Date: 06.07.2016
View Count: 288

I remember writing this piece while suffering the effects of heat stroke!  After spending a few days at Phoenix Comicon... and forgetting to drink any water, I was in a bad way.  While at the Con, I interviewed the writer of this issue, Kurt Busiek!  He, along with DC in the 80's both graciously shared this post on social media.

#8 (tie) - I, Vampire #1 (2011)
Original Post-Date: 10.25.2016
View Count: 288

Another appearance from a #boohauntedblog vampire book!

#9 - Superman vs. the Amazing Spider-Man (1976)
Original Post-Date: 05.09.2016
View Count: 277

This was my 100th Daily Post on the blog, and I wanted to make it a special one.  This was a helluva book to synopsize, and was a lot of fun.  This one received a bunch of traffic from CBR's message boards... likely definitely due to my prolific picture taking more than anything.

#10 - Action Comics #582 (1986)
Original Post-Date: 06.22.2016
View Count: 240

Hmm... wonder how this one got there... a DC Comic posted in June with the word Rebirth on the cover.  Ahem... anyhoo.  Big thanks to Weird Science DC Comics for sharing this bugger (and many others) as well!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The End of Uncanny, Revisited

In light of this week's release of Action Comics #957, I decided to dredge up my thoughts on the (grumble grumble FIRST) renumbering of Uncanny X-Men done back in 2011, post-Schism story line.  Nothing Earth-shattering here, mostly just me kvetching and acting like an old man... but, the point still remains that legacy numbering is important to a great deal of comics fans... and I'm glad that DC Comics is starting to notice that.  This was originally written/posted somewhere in the Fall of 2011... and is sadly and disturbingly wildly out of date.  Never at the time of writing would I imagine in just a few short years we'd be on volume-freaking-four of Uncanny X-Men.

In recognition of this week’s FINAL ISSUE of Uncanny X-Men (#544) I wanted to take a little while to reflect on the passing of the series I’d collected since the late 80’s. When this was announced several months back, we were assured that this wouldn’t be a stunt, or sales trick. There would be a legitimate reason for the re-launch. In a post-Schism Marvel Universe, I’m left wondering exactly how *this* is worth re-numbering a nearly 50 year old title. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Schism. Thought it was a decent enough story... I just don’t think it required restarting the book.

I understand that re-numbering is all the rage right now in light of DC’s New 52… however, Uncanny X-Men (vol.2) #1 will be a direct continuation from Uncanny X-Men (vol.1) #544. No real justifiable reason for a restart. The status quo of the X-Men has changed several times throughout the past five decades, never necessitating a new #1. That said, I’d like to go through the (Uncanny) X-Men run, and point to some other instances wherein I feel a re-numbering would have fit better than Regenesis.

(Uncanny) X-Men #94 (1975) – All-New, All-Different. If we’re discussing places in X-Men history where a re-start would comfortably fit… this is it! Following the introduction of the “All-New” X-Men in Giant-Size #1, their adventures would continue in the main title, which for several years prior had only served as a reprint mag for the original X-Men’s 1960’s stories.

Uncanny X-Men #229 (1988) – Following the Fall of the Mutants cross-over, the X-Men were believed to be dead. In “reality” they had left to rebuild in Australia, leaving the world at large to continue believing their demise. This starts the X-Men “Outback era” which would continue for the next couple of years.

Uncanny X-Men #281 (1991) – In a time when the New Mutants became X-Force, X-Factor shuffled rosters and X-Men (vol.2) was launched, Uncanny still managed to maintain its numbering. Famous for the first real non-Claremont Uncanny issues for quite some time, these stories felt… different than anything that had come before (not necessarily for the better, but still… different).

Uncanny X-Men #322 (1995) – The Age of Apocalypse had just ended, and the already hiatus-ed X-Men titles, including Uncanny were brought back under their original numbering. A relaunch upon the title's return would have fit.

Uncanny X-Men #337 (1996) – In the wake of Marvel’s onslaught (no pun intended) of #1 issues, with Heroes Reborn and influx of new titles (Thunderbolts, Alpha Flight (v.2), Deadpool, etc.) the X-Men titles all kept chugging along at their legacy numbering.

Uncanny X-Men #381 (2000) – The “X-Men Revolution” featured the return of Chris Claremont to the X-Men after nearly a ten-year absence. In addition, this was just around the time the first X-Men movie landed in theaters (in fact issue #384 just three months later featured the new movie logo taking the place of the traditional one for several months). A movie these days often mandates a new volume of a title, to allure and ensnare the non-existent “New Reader”.

There are a few more instances I could argue, however, these are the one's that stand out most to me.

In closing, while I don’t like random re-numberings of comic books especially when we readers are told that there are REAL storyline justifications for it… with the way sales are going right now, I can see why it is done, and done so often. I’m not sure if this is a long-term measure, or if in six-month’s time, Uncanny will be re-re-numbered to #550. Or if in two years, Uncanny will be re-re-numbered in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the X-Men, or if we will have to wait until Uncanny would have reached #600 for a return to traditional numbering… if at all.

The importance of numbering to me is probably quite silly I must admit. As long as the story is good, that’s all that matters, right?
I enjoy collecting high-numbered titles, makes a collector feel as though they're piecing together a puzzle. One of the things that kept me away from DC Comics in the early 1990’s was the fact that titles like Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash and Green Arrow were still only in the double-digits. Characters created several decades prior, to me, should have high numbered, long running volumes. I was wary I’d get invested in any given DC title, only to have it re-started (which, has happened time and time again since.) 

As a collector, I enjoy filling in gaps of my collection. Picking up various old issues of Uncanny X-Men makes me feel as though I’m actually accomplishing something. I know, silly. Right now, picking up early issues of, say, the Avengers aren’t nearly as satisfying as it could be, it feels as though I’m collecting for a dead series.

Cliff Notes version of this entry – Wahhh, wahhh, don’t renumber my comics!

Friday, February 10, 2012

[Comics] Some DC New 52 Thoughts, Six Months Later...

Regardless of the fact that DC Comics is still touting “The New 52!” on the covers of their books, the “New” 52 is now six months old.  In those six months, I had gone from being a fairly completest DC Comics customer, to buying FIVE books with any regularity.  DC Comics is writing for a different audience and good on them, they seem to have found one.  In the past several months, DC has dominated the sales charts in units sold (though, now falling below Marvel in dollar share thanks in no short measure to Marvel’s inflated pricing structure).  My decade and change investment in the publications and characters of DC Comics is over.

Admittedly, I would be tempted to drop the remaining five DC books I have managed to hold on to… my completest nature, however, will not completely allow me a clean break.  The five books I continue to collect are:

Action Comics
Justice League
Justice League International
Teen Titans

            Batman is my pick for strongest title.  It’s no surprise, considering that the Batman titles (along with the Green Lantern books, apparently) kept most of their backstory.  If the “New 52” had not come to pass, this Batman could have easily existed pre-Flashpoint (with a markedly younger version of Commissioner Gordon, admittedly).  Keeping in mind, we are still in the midst of the opening story-arc, whether or not existing Batman characters will be “re-introduced” or “re-origined” in the coming months remains to be seen.

                Action Comics is the title I was most excited for during the lead up to re-launch, and thus far it has struck me as rather underwhelming.  Not bad, by any stretch of the imagination… just not what I expected.  I’m too big a fan of Grant Morrison to outright drop this title, and I would imagine that if anything noteworthy to the DC (n)Universe were to go down, it would happen in either this title or…

                Justice League.  The flagship book for the new DC, has delivered on what it’s promised.  What it’s promised, however, is not really to my liking.  Though, I understand the addition of Cyborg as a founder of the team, for diversity’s sake… I’m still not a fan of it.  I’ve always enjoyed Cyborg as a Titan, who “graduated” into the ranks of the Justice League.  Then again, I’m a bit of a sucker for the “Legacy” methodology to the old DC Universe.  In the last volume of Justice League (of America), the team was comprised primarily of legacy heroes… graduated Teen Titans.  This displayed that there is a hierarchy to DC’s super-hero teams… that a Teen Titan or an Outsider could one day become a member of the vaunted Justice League.  Hell, I’m also a pretty big Martian Manhunter (who Cyborg replaced) fan, so that may be clouding my judgment a bit as well.  Back to the new volume, it feels as though the new backstory is being shoe-horned rather painfully into place.  A handful of issues in and Batman ALREADY shared his secret identity with Green Lantern?  In the book, they’d just barely met… I know, I know, this is not necessarily the Batman I grew up reading, so I cannot use his “existing” pattern of behavior to diagnose his current personality.  It still rubs me the wrong way, however.  This title will likely remain on my pull-list, as I have a nearly complete run of Justice League starting from a couple of years before the original Crisis.

                Justice League International is a bit of a strange one.  Being “launched” out of 2010-2011’s Justice League: Generation Lost maxi-series, this title features most of the characters normally associated with the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League.  However, with this being the re-launched universe, the characters now share no backstory.  The whole purpose, at least to me, for launching this type of title is to play off the character’s existing histories.  Why would anyone care about the dynamic between Booster Gold, Batman and Guy Gardner without being able to reflect on past experience with the characters?  I know it’s unfair of me to say that these characters are being written “out of character” considering we are playing tabula rasa with the whole affair, however, I am having a difficult time reconciling myself to the fact that these are for all intents and purposes NEW characters.

                Teen Titans rounds out my list of keepers… a rather dreadful book, in my opinion.  The only reason I keep this one on my pull-list is, like Justice League, I have a nearly complete run of the Titans dating back to the 1980 Wolfman/Perez “New Teen Titans” run.  That, in addition to the hopes that the title will improve will keep me coming back for at least the foreseeable future.  Again, I need to be careful not to harp on “mischaracterization” of some of my old favorites…

                So, has the DC re-launch been a success?  Undoubtedly.  DC should be applauded for their risky undertaking of turning their existing universe on its ear, and coming out on top (as of this writing).  I do hope that this does not become the precedent for boosting sales throughout the industry. 

Unfortunately, I can see Marvel doing something like this come the Avengers vs. X-Men summer cross-over.  With all the talks of late of the Phoenix returning to earth to make things die, and be reborn… I fear Marvel may be going the re-launch route this coming fall.  If this were to occur, I fear it may be my time to tap out.  If/when this occurs; if DC is anything to go by, it will be a great boon to sales, and fiscally speaking… I cannot think of a reason NOT to do it.  I am rapidly shifting gears here, going into a subject which may be better off a new post… so I will save it, for if and when we get any further details.

Monday, October 24, 2011

[Wrestling] WWE Vengeance 2011

WWE’s Vengeance just wrapped up a few hours back, figured I would give some of my thoughts on the event.

Before I get into the matches, I gotta say… if the WWE *NEVER* mentions twitter again, it’ll be too soon.  I could not care less what WWE buzz-phrase is currently “trending worldwide”.  Instead of worrying about attracting followers and ridiculous made up hash-tags (like #ridiculousmadeuphashtag) concentrate on putting out a regularly-delivering top-quality product.

The show opened with a tag-title bout with Air-Boom defending against… um, Zig-Swag?  Decent match, however, I don’t think I ever need to see Dolph and Kofi in the same ring again.  Air-Boom got the win.  I was hoping Ziggler and Swagger would take this one; they’ve been making everyone they’ve worked with look great.  I don’t see any ceiling for either of them, and I hope to see them both moving up closer to the top of the card.

The second match again featured Dolph Ziggler… this time he was defending the United States title against Zack Ryder.  I know we’re supposed to dig Ryder, I mean, he’s the guy who made himself when WWE couldn’t be bothered.  I just can’t get into the guy, I think his appeal was that he *was* being held back.  Was worried for a bit that he’d beat Dolph and take the title… was very pleased when he didn’t.

The Divas Title match was quite good.  Eve and Beth worked well together, and for a few seconds there I thought Eve was going to win.  I’m glad Beth retained, it took her so long to win it (featuring far too many clean losses to Kelly Kelly), if she dropped it now, it would be tough to rebuild her as a credible threat.

I was shocked to see the HHH/Punk v Miz/Truth match this low on the card.  Considering how the World Title match ended, it becomes a bit clearer.  This was a fun match that showcased all four competitors.  Would have liked to see Miz and Truth look a bit stronger here (especially if this is all building to a Survivor Series elimination match), but for whatever reason, outside of Mark Henry, the WWE seems incapable of booking strong heels.  Was happy to see Kevin Nash return, that jackknife however, looked a bit rough.

Sheamus and Christian was a great match, which allowed Christian far more offense than I feared he’d get.  Really fun match, both men came out of it looking great.  Sheamus hit a wicked looking Brogue Kick on a spearing Christian to win.  Again, a really fun match.

I became otherwise engaged during Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton.  Had to pick a match to miss to handle some laundry… this was the one.  All I know is I heard Orton’s music twice, which was exactly what I expected.  Adding the Intercontinental title to this match would have made it more exciting.  Putting a secondary title on Orton could really improve the belt’s prestige in a time when it really needs it.

Mark Henry is probably my favorite thing in Pro-Wrestling… and he has been since his return to SmackDown!  Pitting him against the Big Show provided an awesome power-match.  This was a great match, featuring an incredible spot.  The ring implosion hasn’t been done in, what 8-9 years?  This was a lot of fun.  I hope this leads to another match in this feud.

Alberto Del Rio *barely* retained the WWE Title against John Cena in a Last Man Standing Match.  Over the past few years, I’d begrudgingly become a John Cena fan… this match, however… Cena was booked far too strong.  It took Alberto Del Rio, Ricardo Rodriguez, The Miz, R-Truth, the backstage interview set, the Vengeance “V”, and a belt shot to keep Cena down for a ten-count… and JUST a ten-count… if this was a “Stay Down for an 11 Count” match, it would probably still be going on.  The bout featured a lot of neat spots, and I’m glad Del Rio retained… just wish he could be booked a bit stronger.

Assuming The Miz and R-Truth running in on this match further builds the big Survivor Series Elimination Tag match (which will feature the in-ring return of The Rock), the attack should have left Cena laying until the show went off the air.  Instead, he got back up and had to take a belt-shot to end the match.  I’m sure Cena can cleanly lose a match, and not lose any fans… all this does is cause the heels to look incredibly ineffectual.  Alberto Del Rio, looked like he’d be the WWE’s next big heel going into 2011… now, he’s on his second dirty WWE title reign, and can only get clean wins over John Morrison… who I think *I* even have a clean win over.

Looking at it this way, Cena on his own is damn-near a Terminator-level beast.  It took four men and several gimmicks to (barely) end this match.  How are we supposed to fear for John Cena and his team of 3-4 partners (including The Rock) against a group of guys that have been booked like geeks over the past several weeks when Cena can just about withstand them all on his own?

Vengeance 2011 was definitely a miss-able show, not terrible… but not necessary.  I’m probably coming off sounding pretty bitter over the whole thing, and I apologize if that’s the case… maybe I need a bit of a break from the product.  It’s been a pretty grating few months of WWE programming; I may just require a small respite.  The good news is the “three pay-per-views in a six-week span” is over.  The upcoming build to Survivor Series should be interesting and I’m looking forward to it.