Monday, December 9, 2013
For the most part, both Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-In-One, headlined by Spider-Man and the Thing, respectively, featured one-shot stories that plugged in whatever guest star was going to be paired with them--with a new guest-star and story ready to be inserted in the following issue, and so on--rinse, repeat. For the stories, this meant very abridged adventures--and while many of these were so scarce on plot that they did a disservice to the characters (and, at times, to their readers), some of them were impressive in terms of the depth they were able to give stories which had to be resolved so quickly.
Writer J.M. DeMatteis, who wrote this particular Marvel Team-Up story, always stood out for me in that respect, in this and other titles he scripted (most notably The Defenders). And when a story centers on Christmas Eve (as this one does), where many of the dramatic elements such as despair, or loneliness, or even tragedy have only to be called forth, just about any characters in Spider-Man's world can be adapted to those elements, with Spider-Man (as Peter Parker) within arm's reach to become involved.
The trick, of course, is finding a way to deal in the issue's guest star--and here, where that guest star is the Watcher, the writer has the luxury of inserting him at practically any point, depending on his motivation for becoming involved with Spider-Man's affairs. To say nothing of the hook of the Watcher himself, in a team-up story of all places--a being who normally only appears at pivotal moments in a world's history. What could possibly merit his attention in a situation involving one of Peter Parker's acquaintances?
Sunday, December 8, 2013
If you're an Avengers fan, you're not exactly at a loss when getting into the Avengers spirit for the holidays:
No, no, not THOSE Avengers. Stop being so silly. I'm talking about the more commercially viable Avengers of today. For instance, you could hang an Avengers stocking over your mantel:
And you could stuff it with Avengers-related stocking stuffers, like these adorable Avengers finger puppets:
And for your tree, there are Avengers ornaments:
But for the toy-obsessed among you (and you KNOW who you are), I'm betting you're going to go the Mego route and "assemble" your very own holiday Avengers scene.
Hold on a second--no Jarvis with a tray of egg nog??
I guess he was the logical choice to snap the picture.
I guess he was the logical choice to snap the picture.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
With "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" set to end its Broadway run in January and relocate to Las Vegas, let's take a look at another Marvel project that almost landed on the great white way:
This ad first appeared in Marvel comics published in March of 1985, and you may remember when it made the rounds in blogs and the news when the Spider-Man musical was making headlines in 2011-2012. The only real info available on it comes from an April, 1985 column by Enid Nemy of The New York Times featuring Broadway theatre news:
"Captain America" boasts a hero-sized $4 million budget.
IT'S going to be a big one, if everything works out as befits a musical named "Captain America." Big, in this case, means a budget of $4 million--a lot of money, even for a superhero fighting for the American dream, the flag and the woman he loves.
The superhero will not, in fact, be particularly super when the curtain goes up. The book by Mel Mandel and Norman Sachs (who are also responsible for music and lyrics) has Captain A. going through a mid-life crisis. Fortunately, the action speeds up - his girlfriend, a candidate for President, is captured by terrorists and held hostage at the Lincoln Memorial. That's enough of the plot - when you invest millions, as are Shari Upbin, James Galton and Marvel Comics and some as yet untapped sources, you're entitled to a few secrets.
The plan is to take the production, which will be directed by Philip Rose, out of town this fall and to Broadway toward year's end. John Cullum, Ken Howard, Richard Kiley and Hal Linden are the names being mentioned for our hero, and Linda Lavin and Cloris Leachman are being talked about to play the woman who is obviously going to be rescued from those baddies.
Gosh, did Steve Rogers ever reach mid-life? That would be a prerequisite for having a mid-life crisis, wouldn't it? Apparently, however, there was another crisis with the show that took precedence, as the project quietly fizzled and nothing more was heard or written of it (at least to my knowledge).
Here were the proposed male leads, in order of their mention above:
I have this odd curiosity of wondering which songs they were planning to have "Cap" belt out.
These days, this cover of Spectacular Spider-Man might border on commentary:
Despite its apparent theme, though, this 1985 tale is rather light-hearted for the most part. Written by Peter David, the story mostly deals with Peter Parker's lack of plans to spend Christmas with anyone, cycling through (and thereby catching up with) Peter's various friends who have their own plans and finding Peter becoming more and more dispirited. Where Santa comes in is when one of Peter's neighbors, Bambi, is at Macy's with her son Jordan, and Jordan has an extensive list of wishes for the department store Santa Claus. But this Santa is using all the children in line to make his own wish list:
Santa's intentions for Bambi give the story a darker tone--and, later, Bambi discovers him in her apartment looting their presents on Christmas Eve. Fortunately, Bambi lives in proximity to a guy with spider-sense:
Heh--"leg warmers." It was the '80s, after all.
All the noise wakes up Bambi's other roommates, and the confusion gives "Santa" a chance to bolt. But, as Spidey gives chase, our burglar finds quite the surprise as he reaches the roof:
Spidey has come up empty, but, before you know it, Peter is getting a call to come to the lobby of the "Daily Bugle," which finds its "toys for tots" contributions now overflowing--as well as the Santa-burglar he'd chased, who's now bursting with the Christmas spirit:
Thanks to the genuine Santa, Peter clears up a misunderstanding with his Aunt May and spends Christmas with her, together with Mary Jane Watson and her aunt. As for Jordan, I think Macy's owes the little guy reparations, no?
Friday, December 6, 2013
What would Christmas be without "A Charlie Brown Christmas"? A little less Christmas, that's what. Fortunately, thanks to Chris Giarrusso (illustrious creator of the "mini Marvels"), we can add a little Marvel flavor to that classic Christmas special:
You can almost hear Vince Guaraldi's music, can't you? Viewers of the Charlie Brown special of course know this scene from the gathering for the school Christmas play:
Be sure to check out Chris's site for more comics goodness (and don't miss his hilarious Rob Liefeld parody vid).
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Since we're starting to count down to December 25, how about revisiting some of those memorable Marvel moments where our heroes (and, on occasion, villains) celebrated Christmas?
We might as well start with Marvel's "first family," where Reed seems to interpret the phrase "the gift that keeps on giving" quite literally, to Sue's dismay:
Well, Reed, there's one little flaw in your justification: where do you think all that wrapping paper came from that you happily tore apart in getting to your presents?
And Marvel Girl?
As far as anyone knew, Marvel Girl had met her death on the moon as the Phoenix. Consequently, that rendered any effort to reunite the original team of X-Men moot. Or so you'd think.
Needless to say, money talks--and Marvel seemed to feel the time was right to give the original team a makeover and add to the popularity of the X-Men on the sales rack by giving readers another X-team to purchase. And since the first issue would presumably bring back Jean Grey--the formerly dead Jean Grey--it would already have its foot in the door in terms of readership interest.
Marvel had already reintroduced Jean in the pages of The Avengers and Fantastic Four--but now would come the time when her friends in the X-Men would discover her to be alive. Combine that with a refit of the original team of X-Men--a team which we were assuming wouldn't be dragged down by the tired plots of their first book--and X-Factor showed great promise, indeed.
Though at this point, I think it was safe to say that there was one meeting that was first and foremost on everyone's mind:
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
At first glance, this Iron Man story seems like pretty standard fare, this time with the golden Avenger in battle against the Unicorn:
But it's that curious looking box that can't help but get your attention:
Putting aside for the moment that gaining a growing insight into the character you're following month after month is something you'd expect anyway, what sort of character revelation could this box be referring to? That Stark is a budding control freak? That he may be on his way to a problem with alcohol? That he may have his eye on steering government policy?
Whoa, we're getting way ahead of ourselves. No, what's going on with Iron Man's character has to do with, well, being Iron Man:
Okay, Tony, you've vented and let it all out. Now, how about we get back to the story and...
Okay, GOT IT. You've had it with playing hero. Why shouldn't you chuck the whole thing and enjoy your millions? Understood. Now, let's...
Alright, jeez, fine, so you feel like treating your subordinates like dirt. Now can we just...
Oh, great, now you're shafting the Avengers! Anything else you want to get off your chest??
WAIT a minute! That's another issue that hasn't even happened yet! Let's stick to what's going on here and now, huh? To make a long story short, when the Unicorn attacks Stark's factory looking for Iron Man (and comes up empty, since Stark is currently enjoying drinks with a beautiful date), Happy Hogan decides to try to stop the villain and almost forfeits his life in the process. And when Stark gets word of it, he gets a massive guilt complex and reclaims the Iron Man armor in order to both stop the Unicorn as well as reaffirm his role as both industrialist and hero.
By the way, Mr. Stark would like to make clear that just because he now has a clear conscience as Iron Man, that doesn't mean he's going to stop splurging or toss his little black book. Come on, get serious.
Monday, December 2, 2013
"You only get one chance to make a first impression." -- Fran Drescher
Well, not everyone can be Doctor Doom.
Remember before Matt Murdock got so serious, and he was still the rollickin', swingin', carefree Man Without Fear, Daredevil? Say what you will about that Daredevil's roster of villains--but they were definitely, shall we say, inventive. If I had to dream up a Marvel villain, chances are the last concept that would come to mind would be the Leap-Frog, a novelty toy inventor who thought he could put his talents to better use by designing a "power" for himself that would allow him to get rich fast by pulling heists while easily evading law enforcement. Just look how confident he is on his test flight--er, bounce:
He's certainly running those policemen ragged, so he can probably chalk up his first outing as successful--but if Murdock's reaction to the guy's villain name is any indication, the "Leap-Frog" isn't likely to strike terror into the hearts of New Yorkers.
So the next step is a fearsome costume. Sigh--a costume designed by a man who's a novelty toy inventor. We can probably take a good guess at how ludicrous the final product might turn out to be:
Hey, at least he's got the villain patter down. That has to count for something.
I'll give him this--under cover of darkness, the Leap-Frog looks like he could get away with a heist or two. Though I don't know many looters who fail to take into account alarm systems:
One question I feel compelled to bring up--how does this guy navigate? How does he keep from slamming into walls? How does he kill his momentum? I don't see any brakes on this costume, do you?
Anyway, let's cut to the chase, and find out how Daredevil does against the Leap-Frog. If the match-up is anything like hearing the words "Daredevil vs. the Leap-Frog" out loud, I doubt any of us will be on the edge of our seats:
Wow! Daredevil sure seems confounded by the mighty Leap-Frog. This battle might just make him the Man Without A Fan Base. But let's not count out DD yet. All he or anyone really has to do is to get ahold of the Leap-Frog, and he has a handy tool with which to do just that:
And now that DD knows to keep away from those coiled springs, the Leap-Frog can look forward to more falling than leaping:
Okay, the guy is captured, and his brief life of crime is brought to an end before it could really begin. There's no need to humiliate him at this point, is there? Sorry, Daredevil and the police beg to differ. I mean, they're fishing out a guy in a frog suit from a pond and carting him off to jail--who wants to miss an opportunity like that?
Heh heh, the laugh's going to be on you, coppers. Because you haven't ...
(I can't believe I'm saying this ...)
You haven't seen the last of the Leap-Frog.
I bet everyone there just felt themselves shiver. Or it could just be the onset of warts.