Thursday, October 5, 2023

Journey's End


Dear Friends,

With a mixture of sadness and optimism, I would like to bid you all a fond farewell, as I sign off from The Peerless Power of Comics. I've enjoyed contributing to this effort immensely--but essentially, I feel I've accomplished what I set out to do and would like to pivot to other interests and take a breather.

More of an explanation has to do with time constraints, as well as the creative impulse which has played such a large part in putting together this scrapbook of my memories and impressions of the comics I've read over the years.  As you can imagine, maintaining a regular blogging schedule requires working it into your daily/weekly routine, while also taking into consideration the ever-present onus to conceive and bring an idea for a post to fruition.  In the first few years of blogging, brimming with ideas and eagerness, that was all surprisingly manageable; but as I've changed and grown over the years and my priorities have shifted, I've found that creative spark has become something I've had to dig deeper for, rather than simply relying on inspiration that always seemed to flow from my thoughts and through the keyboard almost of its own accord. And so, concerned that the quality I endeavor to bring to the PPC might begin to suffer as a result, I opted to tip my hat and make a gracious exit.  After over eleven years and having produced over 2,400 blog posts, it feels like the correct decision--and combined with the need I feel to reallocate my time to other responsibilities and pursuits, doing so has left me in a positive frame of mind for whatever might be around the corner in my future.

To those of you who have graced these posts with your interest and comments through the years, you've contributed immeasurably to the hopefully welcoming and humorous atmosphere I've attempted to impart--in addition to the thought-provoking back-and-forth which is a necessary component of the PPC, for myself as well as no doubt others who have had the pleasure of reading your thoughts. We are all comics fans, here and throughout this medium--and for each of you, your take on a writer, or a story, or a penciler, inker, or character has brought something different and interesting to the roundtable that we share. I've been known to suggest to some of you that you take a crack at blogging yourself, for however long you care to, and see what direction(s) it takes you in. I, for one, would be eager to see how your own impressions on the subject of comics shape its format and content.

To those visitors who preferred to withhold comment but frequented this forum on a regular basis or even occasionally, thank you for making the PPC reading experience part of your week. Various statistics outlets can give one an idea of how many people frequent your site, where they're located, which post(s) they're reading, etc., but when you blog you nevertheless take a shot in the dark as far as how successfully or even if your content will catch on with people. If you've been a reader here, then your enjoyment of comics gave us something in common, and made you a welcome guest in my book.

Lastly, to Marvel Comics--where do I begin to express my gratitude? Having spent over a decade of my life adapting my memories of your stories to these pages, I found it to be just as rewarding an experience as when I was bringing home a fresh stack of your books from the store, plopping down on the couch or a bed, and eagerly flipping open fresh pages to a Marvel story. (Your staff and assembled talent may have felt a monthly publication schedule was tight, but for we readers it also turned out to be a considerable anticipation-builder.) I came aboard as a reader during the early 1970s, and began to assimilate this wealth of fictional excitement and imagination which took me through high school, college, and beyond, while improving my vocabulary of ten-dollar words in the process. Within the PPC where both stories and talent share the spotlight, I've strived to strike a balance between the appreciation and admiration of a fanboy and the more scrutinizing and discerning eye of a sometime-reviewer, bolstered with healthy doses of humor and wry observation. In short, Marvel and its writers, artists, inkers, colorists, letterers, et al. have played a part in my creativity and drive flourishing through the years, while providing me with so much enjoyment along the way. If a person sees those things reflected within the PPC, it's gratifying to bring an end to the blog on such a note.

As for my immediate future, I'll still be frequenting the PPC behind the scenes (a little tweaking here, a little fine-tuning there), while also maintaining its limited presence on X (fka Twitter).  Once again, my humble thanks to each and every one of you for taking this journey with me, and all the best to you.

Monday, October 2, 2023

The Surfer, The Titan, and the Dethroned


Following the introduction of Champion in the 1982 Marvel Two-In-One Annual, a story that saw him pitting his might against not only the Thing but also a grouping of Marvel's strongest characters, we catch up with the fierce competitor nearly five years later as he travels once more to Earth, having conspired with the Elders of the Universe in (to put it mildly) an ambitious plan to destroy Galactus. Yet for what purpose would he return to our planet? Having already whetted his appetite to compete against Earth's most powerful individuals, what could interest him on a world that Galactus has seemingly abandoned for good?

For the answer, we would have to turn our attention to the Antarctic continent in mid-1987, where the Silver Surfer is having an impromptu encounter with the Fantastic Four--a meeting which would lead to the Surfer finally achieving his freedom from being imprisoned on our world by his former master. Unfortunately, it's the Surfer himself who is being targeted by the Elders--and one Elder in particular, who all but announces his intentions upon landfall.

As we can see, Tryco Slatterus's arrogance as an Elder is intact, treating the Surfer with the same disdain as he would any other figure he would engage in battle with. Yet soon enough he learns what manner of foe he's challenged, at which point he becomes swept up in his fervor to triumph; but the Elders, including Champion, are known to the Surfer, and he responds accordingly.

Witnessing Champion's first loss is rather gratifying for we Earthlings, and particularly for the Thing. Yet Slatterus puts the best face on it he can, remaining in full Elder mode and only providing the Surfer with information he as the victor in their contest is entitled to know.

(A nice touch by artist Marshall Rogers with the breath condensation emitted by the FF members. We can only assume that, until now, they had the Fantasti-Car's rollover windshields in operation, rather than fly what is essentially a convertible through such a frigid climate.)

Inadvertently, of course, Slatterus' refusal to elaborate on just how the Surfer could escape Earth has been the catalyst for the Surfer and the FF putting their heads together to finally succeed in attaining the sky-rider's freedom. (You'll find bits and pieces of the Elders' plans for Galactus in the PPC, but do yourself a favor and read writer Steve Englehart's complete arc to see how it all plays out.)

Three years later in 1990, Champion makes another unfortunate choice in sparring partners--Thanos of Titan, who at this point in time has begun his search for the Infinity Gems (which were still referred to as the "Soul Gems")--one of which, the Power Gem, Champion now wears on his forehead yet remaining ignorant of its capability and only subconsciously drawing upon its energy. As a fighter, Champion has found the ideal world to provide sufficient challenge for his ability as a fighter in perpetuity--and when Thanos issues a suitably blatant challenge of his own as bait to draw his attention, a war such as this world has never seen (or, as we'll learn, shall ever see again) explodes onto an already war-torn planet.