Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SPLAT Goes The Vision

It's time to plummet into another experiment in

Given how it looks like our friend the Vision is trying to become a regular in this series, we'd probably better summarize what we learned the last time: increasing your mass when you're unable to change your actual size only makes you heavier. Or, put another way:

Our latest experiment in mass begins when Goliath is rendered senseless by a gas grenade attack. Unfortunately, he's left dangling from a high-rise and about to plunge to his death:

But the quick-thinking Vision knows of one way he might survive:

Apparently the Invisible Girl has secretly been tutoring the Vision, because he's under the impression that multiplying his mass will have this effect on a falling form:

But in reality, here are the Vision's options:

  • He can multiply his mass all he wants--but unless he increases his density, he's just going to go *SPLAT* underneath Goliath on impact. And Goliath will still be a goner.
  • If he does increase his density, Goliath will be killed by hitting the super-hard/heavy form of the Vision instead of the street, no matter how much the Vision thinks he's Johnny Bench.

This is just too weird! What's the explanation??

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Yellow Stick Of God

Some of you reading comics during the early 2000s may remember writer Mark Waid's run on Fantastic Four, when the FF were in their "Imaginauts" phase. Valeria Richards... Johnny becoming the CFO of FF, Inc., as well as the herald of Galactus... the sci-fi masthead... the team laying claim to Latveria... the A.I. falling in love with Reed... the trip to Heaven...

Whoa, back up a sec, you say. The what?

A very interesting run, yes. At times an uncomfortable one. The FF were looking rather--cartoonish, for lack of a better word. Almost caricatures of themselves. Far less serious, though far more family-oriented. I found myself drawn into these stories in spite of myself. I wasn't crazy about the action sequences, with Reed's pasta-like stretching and other distractions; the team didn't look in fighting form, if that makes sense. But the relationships between the characters made for enjoyable, if whimsical, reading.

And there was that trip to Heaven, to recover Ben's soul.

And the Fantastic Four's meeting with the Almighty.

Yes, that Almighty.

It's easy to get the impression from all this that the FF had lost their edge. But surprisingly, Waid kept a tight grip on what made these characters work--and when tension and desperate battle conditions were needed, the FF were there in all the ways that mattered, resulting in some fine stories that rank right up there. Yet it's fair to say that these FF issues were very much under the radar--and that's unfortunate.

For instance, the sequence where the FF meet God comes on the tail end of a very good story that cements the bond between Ben and Reed, though it has the team on the verge of tearing itself apart. But when all is said and done, they're given a last leg to their trip that comes as something of a surprise, to say the least:

Are you?

Down, Down, And Away

While scouring New York for a bad guy, the Avengers separate in order to cover more ground. (In which case you'd need, oh, about 7,000 Avengers to even make a dent in a search of all of New York City, but I digress.) During their search, we see a few of the team come across some of their fans--for Yellowjacket, a swarm (get it?) of autograph hounds (who knew that Yellowjacket had a fan base?), and in the case of Goliath, some teeny-boppers making fun of his "get-up."

As for the Vision, exposure to humanity seems to be something he'd like to avoid altogether:

This is one of the coolest Vision sequences, and it's of course visually appealing. But it bugs me for a few reasons. Specifically:

  • The Vision's disdain for humanity. Why wouldn't the Vision make more of an effort to know the people he fights for? Why keep them at a distance? He'll stick his neck out for a total stranger like Red Wolf, and he's obviously capable of feelings--he's also taken the time to grow closer to and trust his fellow Avengers. Why make their cause his own if his heart isn't really in it?
  • This is the typical man-on-the-street? Really? The Vision is one of the world-famous Avengers living in your midst on Fifth Avenue, not the Silver Surfer.
  • "Stop 'im, man!" Uh--what's your problem, guy? You seriously want to take someone into custody for literally walking down a sidewalk? And you're agitated enough about it to the point of calling out to other people to grab him? What if he were walking down a stairwell--would you have a conniption about that? And the first thought to occur to the other guy was to "tackle him"?
    "Why didn't he say anything? Why??" Dude. I want you to stop the next ten people on the street who ignore you, and demand the same answer.  And then, what the heck, tackle them.
  • You know, Vizh, snubbing humans only to end up doing your walking in the sewer isn't exactly improving your situation.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Future Statues Of The Past

This statue was first created in 2004 by the Kucharek brothers, who have done a fair share of Marvel statue designs; but in light of all the "Days Of Future Past" buzz, it seemed appropriate to bring it to light once more.

The statue measures 7.75" x 11" x 11", with the characters of Logan and Kitty Pryde measuring 6.5" and 6" in height, respectively. Now in the hands of third-party sellers, it ranges from $270-$400 in price. Wotta deal!

Just between you and me, I'm hoping ticket prices aren't as inflated.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Fearsome Fury of--The Hellbirds!

Gosh, whatever happened to the pairing of the glamorous Black Widow and her former partner-in-crime, Hawkeye? I'm sure that's something Hawkeye would like to know, after the Widow dumped him (in his Goliath identity) without explanation:

If you're thinking Roy Thomas wrote this scene, bullseye. It wouldn't be the first time Thomas initiated plots that served to veer characters in inexplicable directions for no apparent reason. Eventually, though, Hawkeye would start to put the moves on the Scarlet Witch; but when Wanda would rebuff his advances and instead declare her love for the Vision, it was the straw that broke this marksman's back (as well as his bow):

After his resignation from the Avengers, Hawkeye set out for San Francisco, where he hoped (or, rather, expected) to pick up where he left off with the Widow. Unfortunately, Natasha's new boyfriend would have something to say about that, for all the good it would do him:

And if you think the Hellbirds are sitting this out, have you got another think coming.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Coming Of The Falcon!

With Captain America: The Winter Soldier now having introduced the very cool Falcon, it bears mentioning that the original comic book version of Falc didn't have military training, nor did he get his "wings" until much later. But that doesn't mean the Falcon and Cap didn't become fast friends when they met, or that Falc went into action without knowing how to fight.  On the contrary, he learned from the best--even if, at the time, he didn't know it.

You'll need to train hard to be able to answer this

Marvel Trivia Question

How did Captain America and the Falcon meet?

Once More, The X-Men!

It was mid-1970 when the first X-Men series published its final issue, with the title subsequently taking a nine-month break and then "returning" with a shift to publishing reprints of its earlier stories. "The Strangest Teens Of All!" would staunchly remain on the sales rack, the book published on a bi-monthly basis for another 4½ years until the "new" X-Men team would step in and give the book a well-deserved shot in the arm with brand new stories and more compelling characters.

After the series ended, it might have been an eerie feeling for any readers who still picked up a copy of X-Men from time to time to notice one reprint after another replacing any new original stories on the rack. For at least those who read the final issue, though, the letters page of that issue softened the blow with a special notice:

This is the final issue of THE X-MEN.

At least for the time being. Though Roy and Neal have devoted long hours to recent issues (as have our two fill-in artists)--and though a mountain of mail has assured us that many Marvelites truly enjoy the job they've been doing--the plain truth is that the magazine's sales don't warrant our continuing the title. We feel that the artists and writers involved can better devote their time to other projects, other characters.

And so the X-Men go on the shelf.

We doubt if they'll stay there, though. Our misunderstood mutants, like most of our other heroes, have often seemed to possess a life all their own--and we've got an educated hunch that they'll be zooming into the pages of various Marvel mags in the not-too-distant future. Shed no tears for them, friends; they'll be around.

As for what will replace them--and the couple of other magazines we've discontinued in recent months--well, you know that we've always preferred to spring surprises on you. And we can guarantee that you'll be moved and shaken by some of the things we've got up our collective sleeves.

Mighty Marvel is on the move again--and if you don't believe us, pilgrim, just wait till the dust clears! Excelsior!

You can usually take notices like this with a grain of salt; after all, the Bullpen Bulletins pages had us thinking that Jack Kirby was still a happy Marvel camper and talking up his upcoming projects, even when he had one foot out the door. (Curiously, there was no ITEM! in the Bulletins about the end of the X-Men book--one of Marvel's flagship titles ending its run after 66 issues, and a book which Stan Lee himself began. By contrast, Lee would take the time to explain the cancellation of the Silver Surfer book, after a run of only 18 issues.) Still, it's easy enough to understand the point about poor sales--though the decision to redistribute a title that isn't selling is surely a head-scratcher. And what sort of deal could Marvel offer vendors to place orders for it?

But let's cut to almost thirty years later. It seems like there's no stopping the X-Men juggernaut, with two X-Men regular titles and I don't know how many spinoffs flooding the racks. In the interim, the original X-Men had been relaunched in a new series, though they lasted in the title only a few issues longer than in their original book before they were replaced with a new team (for a second time). Yet, in December of 1999, artist/writer John Byrne would give it one more try, and began a new series where the original X-Men pick up right where they left off:

Anyone want to read about the original X-Men?

(Is this thing on?)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Surfer In A Soapbox

Five months after the end of the original Silver Surfer series, Stan Lee explains (from a "Stan's Soapbox" entry in February, 1971) why the book was cancelled:

(paragraph breaks inserted)

One thing we've always promised to do is level with you. After all, you're both our reader, and our friend--and no one is more deserving of being taken into our confidence.

Therefore, we want to give you the straight scoop as to why the SILVER SURFER is no longer being published. In a nutshell, we had to drop it--'cause it was losing money! But, as you may guess, there's a bit more to the story than that. Actually, the Surfer was one of our biggest successes from the standpoint of reader acceptance. Those who bought it were fanatical about it. The silvery sky-rider became an almost immediate sensation on campuses thruout the free world. Announcers on FM radio stations began to quote from the stories and to read portions of them over the air. The Surfer's philosophical musings were actually discussed in pulpits thruout the nation. Truly, we had succeeded in our goal--we had created a comic book for the older reader, for the more literate, more perceptive, more cognizant fan.

But, in so doing, the Surfer's exploits were too far over the heads of many of our younger readers, and for that reason, we lost a great many sales, since no comic magazine can be financially successful unless it sells to young and old alike. Finally, we realized there were only two choices--drop the magazine, or change the format so that it would be more acceptable to the younger reader. Rather than compromise our own integrity, or be untrue to our own objectives, we have chosen to discontinue the magazine.

Needless to say, your own comments and opinions on this matter will be very much appreciated.


I've posted my own thoughts here and there on the demise of the Surfer's first series, here and there, but did Stan pretty much hit the nail on the head here--or do you feel there was more to it? I'll be interested in hearing your comments and opinions on this matter!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Worthless Dream


Name This Marvel Villain??

The Strangest Teens Of All!

X-Men #66, the last issue of the team's original series before the book would be placed on indefinite hiatus, had a couple of interesting distinctions, artistically speaking. For one, Neal Adams, who had made such an impact on the book for its previous nine issues (with the exception of issue #64, drawn by Don Heck), declined for whatever reason to see the title just one more issue through to its end. But, in his absence, Sal Buscema would step aboard to do his first work on not only the X-Men title, but also (if I'm not mistaken) the X-Men themselves. And, since the story involved the team's battle with the incredible Hulk, we'd also see Buscema's first work with that character. (If you were a subscriber to Foom magazine, you might remember coming across what was technically Buscema's earliest Hulk art--some panels featuring the Hulk which were part of his initial "audition" art submitted for a position at Marvel.) Buscema would of course go on to become the regular artist on the Hulk's own title.

I can only imagine how an Adams-pencilled Hulk/X-Men battle would have looked--but, then as always, Buscema stepped in and delivered more than acceptable work. The ship by this point had already sailed, as far as repeated attempts to present the original X-Men as a viable sales concept--but, looking at this last issue (as well as Adams' prior work), you'd almost believe the book had turned the corner and bounced back, and the X-Men were finally on their way. In this case, though, with no real improvement in making the X-Men compelling in and of themselves, it's more accurate to say that they were finally on their way out. The lives of "The Strangest Teens Of All!" continued to be too strange and uninteresting even for their own readers.

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