Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Thing and The Justice League of America

The Justice League of America has always been my favorite team in comics. So many icons on one team is hard to beat. My favorite era is the one of my youth - the Satellite years. I loved how the writers would have the League discover a threat, break into smaller groups for mini-chapters, and then converge together again for the big finale. As much as I was a fan of the Batman and Superman animated series, I was really hoping for a Justice League counterpart and Warner Brothers answered my prayers perfectly with Justice League and then Justice League Unlimited. The only thing I would have changed about that series would be to have it run longer! I am very glad that the JLA has been featured in a bunch of the direct to DVD animated films. Hopefully there will be more to come so I can get my fix. The current JLA title seems to be in a holding pattern with very few of the big members on the team... Rumor is that Geoff Johns and Jim Lee will be relaunching the title with the big guns back on the team afer the Flashpoint event ends. I hope that pans out because that would make for a memorable run indeed.

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Thing and The Joker

For my money, Batman and the Joker have the best rivalry in all of comics. The fact that they are such polar opposites always makes for a fun story. That said, the Joker can be over-used and his appearances are always more effective when he has been out of the spotlight for a while. I have enjoyed the cinematic versions of the Joker, but neither quite hit the mark perfectly. Nicholson captured the clown prince of crime aspect, but was frankly tool old and chubby for the part. Heath Ledger's performance was great and was able to help me overlook the visual which was very different from any comic book version I had ever seen. One thing that both of the movies got wrong is the Joker's trademark grin... the Joker should be smiling because he is crazy, not because his face is frozen that way!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The Thing and The Inferior Five

I enjoyed the Inferior Five's brief return recently in an issue of J. Michael Straczynski's Brave and the Bold run. They were a comedic superhero group years before such a thing became a common occurrence. I have to admit as a young lad I was a bit mesmerized by Joe Orlando's Dumb Bunny illustrations. Ben Grimm usually provides the laughs in the stories he is involved in, but this is one case where I think he would end up playing the straight man.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Thing and The House of Mystery

I was more of a superhero fan when I was a kid, but my bothers had a bunch of DC's horror comics around and I was definitely intrigued by them. I mostly was drawn to the art, which often seemed to be a notch above the more traditional comics, especially the covers. They always had an unexpecting character just about to face some sort of demon or animated skeleton, and sent shivers down my young spine! The stories were basically morality plays, and you could always count on the villain of the story meeting his grisly just desserts by the tale's end. I like that DC had Cain, the host of The House of Mystery, show up in a few of their mainstream titles once in a blue moon, just to remind the readers that it was one big shared universe. I haven't seen him or his cohorts outside of the Vertigo imprint in years - but hey, Swamp Thing and John Constantine are back in the mainstream DCU, so anything 's possible I guess!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Thing and The Herculoids

A lot of folks got a kick out of my Batman/Herculoids cover, but I thought I should make a MTIO cover featuring the group, as it is an even more appropriate team-up. Heck, they already have one big rocky guy on the team with Igoo, so I figure Ben Grimm would fit right in. Plus both the Herculoids and the Fantastic Four were part of the animatedHanna-Barbera's World of Super-Adventure, so I figure them crossing paths is well overdue!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Thing and The Haunted Tank

For some reason whenever I do these team-ups with The Thing and a WWII hero, it just seems right. Maybe that's because of Ben's military history or his regular Joe personality, I'm not sure. At any rate, this is a pairing I would love to see. The Haunted Tank already has a fantastical element added to the realistic wartime backdrop, so the addition of a man made or rock wouldn't be too much of a stretch, right?

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Thing and The Guardian

I am glad that the Guardian has found somewhat of a second life as a supporting character in the Superman books. Sometimes it can be tough to update golden age characters for a modern audience, but I think having him as the head of security for the Cadmus Project was a good decision. Grant Morrison introduced yet another Guardian as part of his Seven Soldiers event, but that version has not been seen since, so I am unsure of what his status currently is. It was a pleasant surprise to see the Guardian show up in an episode of the animated Young Justice series, as he was one of those DCU characters that never got an appearance on Justice League Unlimited. Hopefully he will return and we can see him in cartoon action once again.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Thing and The Green Lantern Corps

I am eagerly anticipating the upcoming Green Lantern film. I would be happy enough just to finally see a live action Hal Jordan adventure, but what really puts it over the top for me is that director Martin Campbell is going all out and including the entire Green Lantern Corps in the movie. I keep watching the trailers and freeze framing on certain shots to see who I can recognize. The fact that I saw my personal favorite, Chaselon (sentient diamond with robotic limbs and a mohawk - too cool!), in there really blew my mind. The fact that Abin Sur, Tomar Re and Kilowog seem to have important roles pleases me as well. There's an upcoming computer generated Green Lantern series coming up as well, that promises to focus heavily on the Corps. The Green Lantern mythos has the potential to really break out Star Wars-style if the series and film are done well. I enjoyed Thor and Captain America looks fun, but I think Green Lantern will surprise a lot of people and be the superhero film to beat this summer.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Thing and The Greatest American Hero

The Greatest American Hero was a series I made a point to watch regularly when I was a kid. The action and effects are pretty quaint by today's standards, but back then for live action superheroics, it was just about the only thing going. What it lacked in production values, it made up with enjoyable performances by William Katt and Robert Culp. It poked fun at the idea of a man untrained with the abilities that his super-suit gave him, but I never felt like it was looking down at the genre. I am surprised that this property has not been mined for a feature film treatment, as so many series from the 70's and 80's have, but perhaps that's a good thing. This series was a product of it's time and maybe it is best left there.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Creation of a Cover

Something a little different today. Many people have asked me how I make these covers, since I use MS Paint, rather than Photoshop or another program. Here I will take you through the process that I used in creating yesterday's Thing/Goon team-up. Each cover has its own unique challenges, but this will give a basic idea of some of the techniques that I use:

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Thing and The Goon

I have to admit that I haven't yet had a chance to try out The Goon, but I kept getting requests for this team-up so I thought I would give it a try. Reading up on The Goon, it does seem like a series that I would enjoy quite a bit. I really enjoy the artwork by Eric Powell, as I have been a fan of his contributions to Marvel and DC. I also liked the teaser for a possible Goon film, the animation looked great and the characters seem like they stepped right out of the comics. Hopefully, plans for that film will come to fruition, because it looks like a ton of fun.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Thing and The Golden Age Batman

When I decided to make an Annual cover, I felt it was only fitting to go back to Batman, the original host of these pages. The Batman: The Brave and the Bold animated series has rekindled my interest in the classic Batman stories from the 40's and 50's. Sure they could be corny sometimes, but the sheer inventiveness they exhibit easily makes up for that. It's a testament to the strength of the core Batman concept that the character can be interpreted so many different ways, and have each interpretation be as enjoyable as they are.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Thing and The Freedom Fighters

I was sorry to see that the latest Freedom Fighters series was cancelled in under a year. I was enjoying it and hoped it would have found a larger audience. Maybe this is a team best served by a series of mini-series, rather than an ongoing title. I'd love to see some adventures of the original Freedom Fighters as well, there a precious few tales of them while they were in their fighting prime. It's another reason that a DCU series set in the WWII era would be nice, so we could see adventures of the various members of the Freedom Fighters as well as the All-Star Squadron and JSA during their heyday.

The Thing and The Flash (Wally West)

While I was upset that Barry Allen was killed off in Crisis on Infinite Earths, I could not complain with Wally West as his replacement. Instead of a new or recently introduced character as often happens when a hero's identity is passed, the mantle was taken on by someone worthy who had been there all along. Wally had kind of been overshadowed by his New Teen Titans teammates, and here was a chance for him to really shine. While I wasn't crazy abut his characterization in the early issues of his self-titled series, Mark Waid and Geoff Johns later picked up those threads and gave Wally a great arc. He became one of the most well fleshed out characters in the DCU as well as a very fun part of the Justice League animated series. I am happy that Barry Allen is back, but I worry about what this means for Wally, as he has faded from the spotlight in the past few years. Hopefully the reality altering Flashpoint series that has just begun will result in a more prominent role for him going forward.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Thing and The Flash (Jay Garrick)

I am very glad that DC has resisted the urge to try and update Jay Garrick's costume. It's got such a great retro vibe and makes him stand out amongst other heroes. Garrick holds a special place in the DCU as he and Barry Allen were the first characters to introduce the multiple-Earths concept in the classic "Flash of Two Worlds" story. When I first read that tale, the part that blew my young mind was that the original Flash from the soon-to-be-named Earth Two existed as a comic character on Earth One. His printed adventures even inspired Barry to take up the name when he gained his speed powers. That was about the coolest thing ever to me. I also had a tabloid sized reproduction of the Golden Age Flash Comics #1, featuring Garrick's first appearance. It was a great look into the rich history of comics, and made me want to learn more about the early days of the genre.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Thing and The Flash (Barry Allen)

When Barry Allen died in Crisis on Infinite Earths, I was bummed out because I though that the character did not get a fair shake. His title was saddled with the incredibly long "Trial of the Flash" storyline that ultimately led to the cancellation of his series. Perhaps he was considered damaged goods and that was why he was put up on the chopping block. I have to admit that the death was handled well, as he went out very heroically and it spawned many memorable storylines in its wake. A lot of people grumbled when he was brought back a couple of years ago, but I though that the time was right. Decades had passed so it wasn't the kind of instant resurrection that many heroes seem to get. Also, Allen's identity as a police scientist was now very much in vogue with the popularity of the various CSI television shows. Plus, he is one of the few comic book characters who is himself a comic book fan, so you just gotta root for the guy - he's one of us! His profile looks to really take off with DC's Flashpoint event and a movie in the very early planning stages. It took a while, but Barry is back where he belongs as one of DC's Big Five again.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Thing and the Female Furies

Here's another cool group of characters from the inventive mind of Jack Kirby. I always liked their designs, they look like a cross between pro female wrestlers and a hit squad. Lashina is my favorite of the bunch, Kirby gave her a look and attitude that is a perfect blend of sexuality and menace. They've been relegated to comics limbo recently with the rest of the Fourth World characters, but I am sure it is only a matter of time before they return.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Thing and The Fat Fury

OK, I have to admit that I have never read an issue of Herbie, so when I began to get requests for a Fat Fury team-up, I just didn't think it was going to happen. It wasn't until I was reading up on the character that I struck onto a concept that might work. I must say that one of the things I like about creating this blog is that it has caused me to check out a lot of comic book history that I never would have otherwise. Hopefully through my covers I have gotten a few folks to seek out some characters that they are not as familiar with as well.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Thing and The Doom Patrol

While I have followed the Doom Patrol through their various series, I had not read more than a couple of of their original adventures until recently. I picked up the two DC Showcase volumes featuring their first series and I was very glad that I did. Arnold Drake had a great imagination and I really dig the Bruno Premiani artwork. That's one thing I like about DC's Showcase volumes as well as Marvel's Essentials - the black and white artwork really lets the reader appreciate the art, which was often muddied up by early coloring techniques.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Thing and The Demon

The Demon is another great example of the huge impact Kirby had on DC Comics during his time there. He combined the transforming man archetype with sorcery and history to come up with a character unlike any other in the DCU. It's a testament to Kirby's sense of design that The Demon has maintained his original look in the decades since his creation while so many other characters have undergone major overhauls. He's always a fun element to add to stories because of his relationship with his human host Jason Blood, as well as his ever-shifting loyalties to the denizens of the underworld.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Thing and The Crimson Avenger

I first became aware of The Crimson Avenger when he appeared as a member of The Seven Soldiers of Victory when they were brought back in the pages of Justice League of America. I enjoyed him well enough, he struck me as a traditional Batman-type spandex hero. It wasn't until the back-up feature in DC Comics Presents, "Whatever Happened To... The Crimson Avenger?", that I really became a fan. That story of self-sacrifice made me want to seek out other adventures of his, of which there were precious few. When Crisis on Infinite Earths took Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman out of DC's golden age continuity, The Crimson Avenger suddenly became recognized as their first costumed hero, and they began to print some stories featuring him in his early, suit-and domino mask days. DC doesn't do many period pieces these day, but I'd love if they would print some new tales starring Lee Travis in his heydey.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Thing and Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes)

I was among the many Ted Kord fans that was not happy when the Blue Beetle was killed off to kick off a DC Comics crossover. Despite that, I decided to give his replacement, Jaime Reyes, a chance and I have to admit that I do like the character quite a bit. I really loved the look of the new Beetle armor that Cully Hamner designed - it really makes him stand out among the rest of their heroes - and Jaime was written with an appealing personality. I even got a kick out of his appearances on the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon (not so much the recent Smallville appearance - the armor was way too clunky). This new Blue Beetle is definitely a welcome new presence in the DCU. That said, there was no reason he could not have been introduced while still keeping Ted Kord alive as well!

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