Monday, November 28, 2022

By Namor Betrayed!


I had every reason to expect good things from What If #41 from October of 1983 (which happened to hit the stands around my 26th birthday), given that its premise was to take a different approach to the interference of Paul Destine (the man known as Destiny) in the Sub-Mariner's life, and the man's role in the destruction of the realm of Atlantis where Namor's mother (Princess Fen) and grandfather (Emperor Thakorr) met their deaths.

And yet, I was left disappointed on several fronts after reading this forty-page tale, a story which held promise but for much of its content lacked depth (so to speak). Written by Alan Zelenetz (whom you Conan readers may be familiar with), its artists (Marc Silvestri and Mel Candido) turn in pages that provide Zelenetz with ample opportunity to give this story weight and bring its characters to life; instead, you may find that these characters mostly play to type and offer little to compel any investment on the reader's part. For argument's sake, however, there's very little meaningful characterization to draw on at this particular point in time in regard to the Atlanteans, and to Namor, beyond what we were given in Golden Age stories (barring any development provided to Namor in his time with the Invaders). That's not meant to offer an excuse for the bare-bones presentation offered by Zelenetz... nor imply an effort made to provide the story with some measure of authenticity, which admittedly would be a stretch on my part.

Irregardless, we're left to read these characters as presented. Namor here is much like he was in his reappearance in 1962--quick to pass judgment, seeing things only in black and white, a royal Atlantean at his grandfather's beck and call; Byrrah, deceptive and manipulative with an eye on the throne; Krang, ambitious and as much of an opportunist as Byrrah; and the Atlanteans, a fickle people prone to fall in line and believe whatever well-spun lies are delivered to them in a desperate hour. Descriptions which make the grand two-page introduction of Atlantis itself appear to be a facade, and ripe for disaster.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Even More Emissaries Of Evil!


While clearly alliterative, the name of the group of villains who comprised the Emissaries of Evil seemed to come up short--after all, what villain would want to be regarded as an "emissary"? Are they an evildoer, or a messenger? Diplomatic, rather than deadly. "Greetings... we're here to bring you the evil that we harbor toward you" or, closer to the mark, something that indicates they've been sent by someone even more evil: "We come bearing a message from our master: 'Die!' " Yet in comics, alliteration goes a long way when you add an exclamation point--and those who would join the Emissaries club took their role seriously, even though I doubt the "Emissaries of Evil" was a name they could use as a form of intimidation toward those they went after, or even to strike fear into their targets. The Masters of Evil grabbed the really good name in those respects.

There was only one grouping of Emissaries who formed up and operated on their own volition, and that turned out to be the original team (though I'm probably being generous with that noun) from 1967, with Electro getting first billing as the one who gathered them together:

As was the case with the the Sinister Six in the first Amazing Spider-Man Annual, Daredevil would initially battle the Emissaries one by one; but going the ASM Annual one better, the DD issue, as we've seen, would provide a finale where Daredevil faced and battled the entire group. But under what circumstances did other groupings of evil Emissaries stick with that dopey name assemble over the years?

That's our cue to assemble yet another

Marvel Trivia Question

Who made up the ranks of the Emissaries of Evil between the years 1976-1998?

Monday, November 21, 2022

Return Of The Gods!


When my comics collecting had begun to wane after the turn of the century, it was a welcome surprise to see a new volume of Thor appear on the stands in 2007--its third volume (if you're not counting the 1962-66 issues of Journey Into Mystery separately) and of particular interest, with its characters reappearing to chart their own destiny after having at last broken the cycle of Ragnarok and freeing themselves from the specter of doom which, given its perpetrators, had literally shadowed their existence. Initially plotted and written by J. Michael Straczynski, the volume would comprise thirty-five issues that would conclude in a series of crossovers which would see the end of Norman Osborn's rise to power, as well as the return of Steve Rogers to the land of the living.

This new series would have a bumpy ride in terms of its publishing schedule, going back and forth between a monthly and bi-monthly (even tri-monthly) status--in addition to mirroring the fluctuating issue numbering of other titles which resumed their original numbering at a certain point, with Thor taking advantage of its 600th issue by picking up that number after its first twelve issues. Yet it's the initial stories by Straczynski (who would depart the book after fifteen issues) which offer the most promise for the character--as Thor experiences a rebirth after nearly three years (our time) off the stands and, afterward, strives to seek out and return to a state of existence his fellow Asgardians. Yet Thor, himself, would be guided back to life by the last character we would expect--Donald Blake, whose final fate Straczynski glosses over using the essence of wonderment and the unknown, and who will come to play a compelling part in the formative issues of this series.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

These Odds and Ends Approved by Princess Zanda


Recently, I had occasion to go through a lot of graphics files that have been collecting dust over the years--looking them over after so long, clearing out the chaff, that sort of thing. Many of them consisted of content for old blog posts long since completed; some were curated as fodder for framework ideas for either home or office; and there were a few curiosities in the mix that evoked my earliest days of collecting comics memorabilia, a sort of digital "scrapbook" I hadn't even realized I was contributing to. By contrast, however, there were also a few such images that had me wondering just what I'd intended for them, but for whatever reason decided not to pursue or preferred to put on the back burner indefinitely.

Yet there were enough of these to share with Peerless Power readers and perhaps convey the same mixture of nostalgia and curiosity that I still have toward them--a sort of "grab bag" of comics tidbits that will hopefully evoke some thoughts on your part, as well.

We can start off with a montage of Alex Ross renderings that never made it to a wall hanging, but were most suitable for throwing together a desktop wallpaper montage:

(And if you're wondering why there's a Batman/Green Hornet graphic among the Marvel scenes, the only explanation I have is that it was too awesome not to have on my desktop! :) )

Monday, November 14, 2022

The Final Fate of Counter-Earth!


If you were a reader of Bronze Age comics, then you've probably run across a few stories featuring the doomed world of Counter-Earth--a duplicate of our own Earth which was positioned in orbit on the far side of the sun, created with the best of intentions by the High Evolutionary in order to be home to a race of humanity which had none of the violent tendencies of those populating our own world (which is where I suppose the "counter" in its name comes from). Introduced in the origin story of the character who came to be known as (Adam) Warlock, we watched in shock and sadness as one of the Evolutionary's earlier creations, the vengeful Man-Beast, took advantage of the Evolutionary's lapse into a deep sleep after his labors to board the scientist's moonship and unravel his work by introducing the savage traits of our own species to those on the Evolutionary's new world--a world that the Man-Beast now declared "beyond redemption."

With the Evolutionary poised to destroy his work in order to erase the tragedy of a second Earth now a violent mirror of the first, Warlock, a witness to the travesty, offered to do what he could to fight the Man-Beast's influence on this world and prove to the Evolutionary that this race was deserving of life. The bargain was accepted, and Warlock succeeded in at least bringing an end to the Man-Beast. (Or so he believed at the time.)

In the interim, we were treated to several stories in other titles that involved the humans of Counter-Earth--the Hulk having the occasion to encounter that Earth's Bruce Banner, and, later, being helpless to save Warlock from falling into the hands of the Man-Beast and being put to death (or so it seemed). Counter-Earth also found itself vulnerable to a certain world-ravager whom the High Evolutionary met in defiance:

Over the years, we've seen other instances of Counter-Earths take their place in comics lore. If I remember correctly (I wasn't exactly enamored with stories having to do with Onslaught), the "pocket dimension" created by Franklin Richards to shunt those heroes who sacrificed their lives meeting the attack of Onslaught housed a planet that was given the name "Counter-Earth," a world eventually brought into our universe and renamed "Planet Doom" (after the good Doctor) and later visited by the Thunderbolts. In addition, the Evolutionary took another crack at creating another Counter-Earth--this one inhabited by his New Men (though they'd find the Evolutionary less of a benefactor), while at one time even attempting to merge his creation with our own Earth.

But as for the first world to be known as Counter-Earth--well, we did, regrettably, use the word "doomed" in its introduction, to be sure.

Which dooms us to explore yet another

Marvel Trivia Question

What was the fate of the original Counter-Earth?

Thursday, November 10, 2022

"The Heroes and the Holocaust!"


In 1981, Marvel Treasury Edition brought to an end its seven-year series with its "final edition" (so to speak) that featured characters from both Marvel and DC Comics in a whopping 68-page story--long overdue for a presentation in the PPC and, as a real treat for yours truly, one which I'm looking at myself for the first time, having initially passed on it at the counter over forty years ago.

Given the listing of credits, it's no wonder that DC gave its approval to those assigned to the job:

  • Pencils: John Buscema, arguably Marvel's biggest gun on story art at the time;
  • Inks: Nine different artists inking Buscema's backgrounds, with Joe Sinnott handling all of the characters;
  • Letters: Joe Rosen, brother to fellow Marvel letterer Sam Rosen*;
  • Front cover art: John Romita (layouts) and Bob Larkin

*In such stellar creative company, I almost expected to see Sam Rosen's name joining them; but by this point, he'd left Marvel, his final (albeit incomplete) work for the company having been submitted about nine years prior. But I think you'll find that Joe turns in exemplary work on this story.

While on scripting, we have Editor-In-Chief Jim Shooter, with plotting suggestions submitted by Marv Wolfman--though initially different arrangements had been made, as Mr. Shooter explains**:

   "I picked Marv Wolfman to write the book for a number of reasons: he was a marquee name and deservedly so, he was in New York, conveniently, he was absolutely reliable, and most of all because he really, really wanted to do it.
   "Somewhere in the middle of plotting, Marv’s employment agreement expired. We weren’t able to come to terms on a new one. He had an offer from DC, and opted to take it. So, Marvel was obliged to provide another acceptable writer. I was the only Marvel writer who had written both Superman and Spider-Man. I didn’t have a lot of time on my hands, but neither did the other leading candidates. So, I took it on. DC had no objection."

**Condensed for brevity. You can find Shooter's full and fascinating remembrances of this project on his blog, in three parts.

Predictably, there are a number of things to look forward to here, as those of you already familiar with this edition know. For one thing, it's a fine overall story. The beginning lays out its direction with Spider-Man's discovery of suspicious activity; the heat is turned up a bit by out of the ordinary behavior on the part of the incredible Hulk (if one can even use the word "ordinary" in regard to his actions); Superman arrives and begins his own investigation, leading him to the doorstep of the Latverian Embassy and you-know-who; there's the added variable of the man named Parasite, an energy-draining character who had been imprisoned by Superman but becomes aligned with Doom; there is also Wonder Woman's presence, lured by Dr. Doom to New York for some unknown reason; while Spider-Man's own progress in the investigation leads to joining with Superman against both Doom and Parasite.

The key player in leading us through this story's developments, however, would be Doom--whom we come across early on and provides us with the knowledge of an ongoing plan that brings him closer to world domination. This early in Shooter's story we're provided with no specifics as yet; yet the master of menace, and manipulation, will be responsible for a good deal of what you and I will see from this point going forward.

Monday, November 7, 2022

Planet Of The Apes!


Given the admittedly shameless aspect to this post's bait-and-switch title, it's understandable if those of you dropping in on the PPC today were expecting to see something like the following--a concept which is still kicking up steam long after its first film debuted in 1968 and carved a successful franchise that continued to 1973 and beyond which, as of this date, has collectively grossed $2,127.776,430 worldwide. That's a lot of bananas.


Like Lucy van Pelt, who graciously balanced a football on the ground so that Charlie Brown could have the opportunity to run up and kick it--only to snatch it away the moment before his foot made contact, and consequently causing him to spectacularly crash to the ground, flat on his back--we regret to inform you that this post's title refers instead to a similar yet separate subject altogether. Namely:

Have you noticed the number of characters in comics which are based on or actually are, if only in part, simians--e.g., APES?

Yes, it's those characters who beckon us today, not some actors in furry suits who, along with their film crews, raked in over $2 billion at the box office. Who needs 'em? Today, we explore the apes who populate Marvel's Planet Earth. We bring you, instead, Marvel's own...

(With maybe a Beast or two thrown in!)