Thursday, September 30, 2010
I first became acquainted with Daimon Hellstrom through his appearances in The Defenders. He was another good example of the hybrid superhero/horror star that Marvel did so well in the 70's. I was never a huge fan of his costume, but I did really dig the trident, a pretty cool and visually interesting weapon. The Son of Satan went down the gritty serious route in the 90's Hellstorm series which did not appeal to me and I lost track of the character. I know he has made a few guest appearances recently, hopefully he has been in good hands.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
The Six Million Dollar Man was probably the first live action "superhero" show that I ever watched. Like most fans, the bigfoot episode is the one that most strongly stood out to me. I loved the strength/jumping sound effects they used - buppabuppabuppa - but even as a kid is was frustrated that they chose to used slow-motion to indicate super speed. That never made sense to me.
The Six Million Dollar Man was one of the cooler action figures out there. I got a kick out of his bionic eye and flesh that rolled away to reveal circuitry underneath! Cool stuff!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
The Silver Surfer is one of those perfect characters. He has one of the simplest designs and yet it is one of the most effective in all of comics. Then there's his compelling origin and tragic partnership with Galactus. His exile on earth taught him the ways of humanity, lessons that he uses now that he is free to roam the spaceways again.
He is also a character that artists tend to really shine on (no pun intended!) His metallic look has invited different interpretations over the years and with new artists and new coloring techniques. Even in the second Fantastic Four film, which had it's share of problems, the Silver Surfer was excellently realized. Unfortunately the proposed Silver Surfer solo film follow up is no longer happening. Hopefully he will get his chance one day - he could definitely hold a film of his own!
Monday, September 27, 2010
I didn't think that this project would be complete unless I included at least one of the original stars of The Brave and the Bold, from the early issues before the team-ups began. When I was a kid, I would gloss over the reprints of the Silent Knight, Viking Prince, etc. that were included in the 100-Page issues, because I favored the superhero tales. So it was a few years before I came to truly appreciate them, first for the gorgeous artwork that the stories contained and then for the swashbuckling stories. I am glad that DC is making an effort to collect these early stories for current audiences - they certainly deserve to be read anew and not lost to time.
Friday, September 24, 2010
I always loved the Secret Society of Super-Villains from their appearances in their own title as well as Justice League of America and of course the Legion of Doom in the Super Friends Cartoon. I had seen plenty of villain teams before, but this one was made up of the arch-enemies of all of DC's top heroes - each of whom posed a formidable threat on their own! A team so ruthless and powerful that they were nigh unstoppable... if their own interpersonal conflicts would stop getting in the way!
This cover uses an image from one the SSOSV's appearances late in the run of the original Justice League of America series, my favorite storyline featuring them. I also loved how they were used in the Justice league and Justice League Unlimited cartoons. Finally, the Alex Ross/Doug Braithwaite maxi-series Justice in must reading for any SSOSV fans.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
I have already used Hank Pym in his Ant-Man form, but I like this character best when he switches between mini- and mega-sized adventures. Like yesterday's Scarlet Witch, Hank has suffered from a lot of mishandling. Hopefully larger exposure in the upcoming Avengers animated series and motion picture, he will get more of the respect that a founding member of the Marvel Universe deserves. I don't know how big a part he will play in the Avengers film, as I have heard he is in there but no casting announcements yet. We may have to wait for a sequel to really see him (and The Wasp) shine.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Here is one character for whom I feel a great disservice has been done. I used to love the Scarlet Witch and her appearances in The Avengers. I thought her relationship with The Vision was one of the cooler match ups in comics and she had a broader appeal with her ties to the mutant side of the Marvel Universe with Magneto and Quicksilver. In later years, writers seemed to opt to put her through the wringer though - first eliminating her children, then driving her mad hand having her kill fellow Avengers, reshaping the world in her image, and de-mutantizing the planet. The last time I thought I saw her, it turned out to be Loki in disguise. I am not sure of her status now, but I hope some writer can find a way to give her a little respect.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Mr. T was kind of like a superhero when he hit the scene. His larger than life personality and outrageous appearance made him feel like a comic panel come to life. Plus, he had everything that comic characters did - catchy phrases, flashy clothes and appearances on prime time TV, Saturday morning cartoons and cereal boxes - all while dispensing advice to the youth of the day on how to be a team player and upstanding citizen.
I was just watching Rocky III the other day, and he really does do such a great job in that film. I love this YouTube clip that mixes the audio from that with visuals from the Mr. T Cartoon and Super Friends:
Monday, September 20, 2010
The Caption Action action figure must have come out just before my time, because I don't remember ever actually seeing one for sale. I was, however, fascinated by the ads I would see in comics that I would read and thinking that it was a very cool concept. I mean, here was a guy who had the skills to impersonate Batman, Superman, The Phantom, Captain America, Aquaman, Sgt. Fury, The Lone Ranger, and more! even back then I thought it was cool that a character could cross so many company lines! With all of the rights issues involved, its probably something that we will never see the likes of again.
There's a great site featuring Captain Action celebrating his old and new adventures, check it out: http://www.captainactionnow.com/
Friday, September 17, 2010
You have to admire Erik Larsen's commitment to his Savage Dragon title. With all of the changes that Image comics has undergone since its inception, The Savage Dragon has remained a constant, and always by the original creator. These days it is rare when a creator stays on a title for more than a couple of years, so the fact that he has 150+ issues and counting under his belt is pretty amazing. I also like the fact that The Dragon is a character that he came up with when he was just a kid - how many of us would have liked to have taken our childhood superhero creations and bring them to life?
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Rounding out the trilogy of Sandman covers is one of the earliest covers I made, featuring the 70's Jack Kirby version. One thing DC does well is to keep their heroic names alive, whether through legacy characters or by giving the concept a whole new spin. DC went with the latter with The Sandman, and we as readers were treated to multiple cool concepts based on the name and connection to the dreamworld. Of course, The Sandman is currently represented by a legacy character. Sandy Hawkins, the former sidekick to the original Wesley Dodds version, had taken up the mantle and carries the torch in the Justice Society.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I never read an issue of Neal Gaiman's Sandman series until well after it had been collected. I did however read many glowing reviews of the series as well of the many awards it had received. Finally, I had to see what the big fuss was, so I ordered the entire TPB collection and read the series straight through. What a wild ride! It's basically a contemplation on the art of storytelling itself, in all of its forms. The overall arc of Dream and the Endless is interesting and ties the whole epic together, but the real gems are the single issue stories, be they fantastical, humorous, frightening or touching. May favorite one, which still stays with me to this day was from an early issue: The Dream of 1,000 Cats. If you haven't checked out this series, do yourself a treat and do so.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
I was always fascinated with the Justice society when I was a kid and could only read about them in reprints or JLA crossovers. The character that most intrigued me was the Earth-Two Sandman. He had the coolest look - business suit, cape and gas mask! Sheer awesomeness, I felt like if there were such a thing as real superheroes, they might dress like Wesley Dodds. I was not a fan of the the Kirby redesign, which made him look far more generic.
In my later years, I became a fan of the character all over again with the Vertigo Sandman Mystery Theater series. This is an excellent gritty series and features some of the best character work around with Dodds and his flame, Diane Belmont. I highly recommend it.
Here is a sketch of The Sandman by the artist of that series, Guy Davis:
Monday, September 13, 2010
Dave Stevens' amazing ideas, artistic talents and design sense made The Rocketeer one of comic's perfect gems. It's a shame he passed away at such a young age. The period setting and breezy tone was what really made the title stand apart for me, it gave it a great Indiana Jones/serial cliffhanger vibe. I think the Rocketeer helmet is one of comics all-time great pieces of headgear, right up there with Dr. Doom's mask and Dr. Fate's Helmet.
I still love the Joe Johnston-directed Rocketeer film and think it is one of the better comic book adaptations. I am cautiously optimistic that he will show as much fidelity to Captain America, which he is currently helming.
Friday, September 10, 2010
I always liked The Punisher as a guest star in Amazing Spider-Man or Daredevil, but other than his first mini-series he had never interested me with his solo outings. Then Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon came along with the 12-part Welcome Back Frank mini series. I really loved this take and felt that it struck the right balance between violence and dark humor. The ongoing series that followed it by the same creative team had its great moments as well, especially early on - but it is those twelve issues that really define the character for me.
It has been very frustrating to see his attempts at the silver screen, all which have been critical and commercial flops. He seems like one of the easiest characters to translate to film, but somehow something always goes majorly wrong. Unfortunately, I think three strikes and you are out is the rule with comic property chances at crossing over to the movies, so it will probably be a long time before any studio wants to try again. Hopefully Marvel Studios will be the one if that day comes.
Here's a page of Steve Dillon's Punisher work:
Mike Zeck did the Punisher art on this cover - here is a Zeck rough sketch for one of his Batman: Ten Nights of the Beast covers:
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I watched the first Planet of the Apes film recently and it still holds up. It's my favorite Charlton Heston role and I am always impressed by how much emotion Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter were able to portray under such heavy ape makeup. Of course, Nova wasn't too hard on the eyes either. I have vague memories of watching the TV show when I was a kid, and I know I must have liked it because I had a Planet of the Apes Lunch box for a while!
The Tim Burton movie had some nice makeup and visuals but the story just did not do it for me and in the end it was a pale and unnecessary imitation of the original. I understand there is a new film in the works with James Franco titled Rise of the Apes, which is meant to be a prequel. I am a bit wary after the last attempt, but I will still keep an eye on this and hope it can capture some of the old magic again.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
As promised, here is Part Two of the Nexus team up. I really dig Nexus' costume and upon researching a little I was not surprised to see that Steve Rude mentions Alex Toth as an influence when he designed the look of the character. You gotta love his sleek look. Thanks for the info on where to check out his adventures, I've got some reading to do!
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
I am a huge Steve Rude fan, he has one of those timeless styles and a real mastery of light and shadow. I was happy to fulfill this request and as it turns out I couldn't decide which images to use so I made this one a two parter.
Doing the legwork on this one made me want to seek out some Nexus tales. So, what are the essential stories? Are there any TPB's that I should start with?
Here's a Steve Rude page featuring Boomerang from Spider-Man: Lifeline:
Monday, September 6, 2010
The Dark Phoenix Saga for me is and example of comics at their best - art and writing firing on all cylinders, filled with plot twists, high stakes, colorful characters and gut wrenching melodrama. It's too bad the X-Men film franchise only kinda-sorta touched upon that storyline when if done properly it could be one of the most epic comic adaptations ever.
I must say I never paid much attention to Jean Grey in her Marvel Girl persona, it was only when she underwent her Phoenix transformation that she really started to get interesting. I haven't followed the X-titles too closely recently, but I think she is currently dead (again). Comics get a deservedly bad rap for killing off characters only to bring them back from the grave time and again, but I think that complain has to be waived when it comes to The Phoenix - I mean, death and rebirth are part of the whole concept! With that in mind, I hope we see Jean back among the living soon.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Here's the finale of the Phantom trilogy. I was really inspired by this pairing and would love to see a true crossover some day.
I checked out the SyFy Phantom movie which I think is supposed to become an ongoing series. Playing on the generation aspect of the character, a new descendant of Kit Walker is asked to take up the mantle. The show itself wasn't bad, but I felt they made a real misstep with the costume. After a quick scene dissing the classic version, we are introduced to the updated version and it is a monstrosity. I guess I can understand what they were trying to go for, using realistic type battle gear, but it is clunky and ugly - a strange cross between a football uniform and a beekeepers uniform. I hope they tweak it if the show goes to series.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Heres the second part of the Phantom trilogy
I quite like the 1996 Billy Zane Phantom move directed by Simon Wincer. It has its hokey moments but also some very well done swashbuckling action sequences and solid performances (OK, Treat Williams hams it up a bit too much). For years after I first saw it, I was convinced that Zane would make the perfect Bruce Wayne. I even thought they were able to make the costume work. It's too bad it wasn't a bigger hit and did not spawn any sequels. I think one reason for low attendance may have been the unfortunate "Slam Evil!" ad campaign which made the movie look cheesier than it was.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
When I started branching out from DC characters for this project, The Phantom was a no-brainer. Jim Aparo's stellar work on The Phantom's Charlton series was a precursor to his work at DC with Aquaman, The Spectre and of course Batman. This was a team-up definitely ripe for a full Aparo art cover. Once I started looking for ideas, there were just too many cool images to choose from. So, there was only one solution: Three part epic! Part 2 will continue tomorrow!