Superman and John F. Kennedy

superman-jfk

Did you know that today is the birthday of former United States President John F. Kennedy? Did you know that JFK was able to count Superman as one of his close and personal friends?

The first time JFK and Superman got together was back in Action Comics #309. The president helps Superman out of a bind by stepping in to play the role of Clark Kent. The timing of this book was extremely unfortunate, as it came out the week after Kennedy’s assassination and was too far into the printing process to recall the issue.

DC had another Superman/JFK crossover in Superman #170, which was pushed back to spring of 1964 out of respect to the Kennedy family. The story behind it was pretty interesting, and Dial B For Blog explains it in great detail.

Advertisements

New Mutants #99

new-mutants-99-x-men-138-ho

Rob Liefeld’s cover of New Mutants #99 is a homage to X-Men #138.As that much earlier issue was about changes, this issue serves as the beginning of the transition period from the New Mutants to X-Force.

It’s been a rough few months for the New Mutants, and Cable’s leadership of the group is becoming more apparent and causes a lot of discord. As the cover shows, Sunspot leaves the group at the end of the issue. After being informed that his estranged father was murdered, Sunspot is returning to Brazil and Cable is mostly apathetic to this.

That sets up a yelling match between Cable and Cannonball about the direction of the team. Cable sees the New Mutants as soldiers he has to train and develop for an upcoming war, with little regard for the people themselves. Cannonball gets even more upset, when Cable has the same reaction to the news to Rictor’s leaving.

You really get the feeling that there is a huge changing of the guard, both in the make up of the team and in the group’s philosophy. Out of the remaining members you have Cable and Domino, both of whom share this bleaker outlook. Even Boom Boom is buying in on their more hard line approach. And then there is Cannonball, who is begrudgingly hanging on to this group he helped start in the first place.

With Rictor and Sunspot out, the team will need new members. This issue conveniently provides them. Warpath has returned; the Apache reservation he lived on was seemingly destroyed by the Hellfire Club and he wants revenge. Cable promises he will assist in that as long as he’s dedicated to fighting the war to save mutantkind.

On the brightside, this issue is the debut of the cat-powered Feral, who is looking for protection from the Morlocks, and the end features a yet-to-be-revealed Shatterstar popping up in the Danger Room.

 

New Mutants #88

new-mutants-88

By New Mutants  #88, the comic book has Cabelmania running wild. Following up on the last issue, Cable has been captured by the Freedom Force.

Cable has been captured because the government assumes he’s part of the Mutant Liberation Front (afterall, his clone Stryfe is the group’s leader). Freedom Force has offered him his freedom (kind of ironic coming from that group) in exchange for helping them track down the MLF, whom they believe possesses some sort of atomic weaponry (which reminds us a lot of recent geopolitics). Instead, Cable decides that he’s going to break out. In hindsight, there are a couple of lines of dialogue about Cable that are sort of funny, one with government agents alluding to Cable being a legend in the American black ops community and the other about his cybernetic arm being a prosthetic instead of the techno organic virus wreaking havoc on his body. This issue was written by Louise Simonson and drawn by Rob Liefeld, and this part of the book was typical Liefeld.

The other storyline, on the other hand, was pure Simonson. And by that, I mean well written character interactions. The New Mutants return to X-Factor’s ship after an Asgardian adventure. There’s an interesting juxtaposition in how the New Mutants deal with their parents. Cannonball is more than happy to tell his mother about their latest happenings, while Sunspot explains how he goes out of his way to avoid his father. Sunspot’s family dynamic is pretty interesting, as his father’s death sets up a lot of the upcoming New Mutants (and later X-Force) subplots.

There’s another scene that is really funny in hindsight, as Boom Boom tries using a new skimpy dress to seduce Rictor, who in turn is more smitten with Wolfsbane. This is amusing, as almost twenty years later Rictor comes out as being gay. Poor Boom Boom.

New Mutants #61

new-mutants-61This might be one of the most depressing comics I’ve ever read. You wouldn’t know that from the cover that it would be about overcoming feelings of loss.

This takes place during the X-Men crossover Fall of the Mutants. The team is back at the X-Mansion dealing with the recent death of Cypher, which was admittedly their fault. The group had went out on their own, defying the orders of Magneto. At that point, he had been serving as their mentor as Professor X had vanished. There’s a lot of name calling and crying among the group about what had happen. This feeling of grief is only escalated, as they find out that the X-Men are seemingly dead, which Magik takes really hard since among the casualties are her brother Colossus.

Before anyone can completely process what this news, Magneto returns and is irate about Cypher’s death. The rest of the issue is devoted to the characters trying to resolve these feelings about what had happened. Magneto is struggling with the fact that the New Mutants feel no connection to him as their leader. The New Mutants struggle about their role of being teenagers thrust into a really adult situation, having the heavy burden of protecting the world and working to achieve Charles Xavier’s dream of a safer society for man and mutant alike. Unfortunately for them, they have to accept that responsibility, and Magneto has no jurisdiction on that.

This is one of Louise Simonson’s most shining moments as a writer. Each character, from Magneto to Wolfsbane to Magik all are able to express a distinct set of emotions on Cypher’s passing without any rehashing. It’s a great example of how super hero comics can tell a compelling story without having any action whatsoever.

Sub-Mariner #70

sub-mariner-70Keeping with the under the water theme, Sub-Mariner #70 continues the story of Namor trying to find a cure for the bio plague that has been unleashed on the Atlanteans.

It’s revealed that this poison was created by the United States government that can turn animals into wild monsters that they could drop into combat zones. There’s a ridiculous series of panel that shows cute little rabbits being turned into Sweetums-like monsters. Don’t believe me? You can view the page over on Marvel Comics Chronology. Conveniently it’s assumed that there is an antidote to this that can be found among the wreckage of a ship in the Pacific Ocean.

How convenient that our hero–a mermaid of sorts–can find the cure under the water. It would be funny if Namor would have to go somewhere random, like the Sahara Desert or an Arby’s in Passaic County, New Jersey.But no…writer Marv Wolfman set it in the ocean. How imaginative.

So Namor is looking through the wreckage only to be attacked by a group of Men-Fish. Pretty much, the Men-Fish are sea creatures that have been mutated by Doctor Dorcas.There’s that name again. The Men-Fish are pretty silly looking, seemingly more appropriate being member’s of Skeletor’s army of minions. And like minions, Namor is able to dispatch them fairly easily.

WHat Namor didn’t count on was the Men-Fish having a new leader of sort called Pirahna who can be described exactly how his name sounds. And that’s how the issue ends.

Not caring about spoilers, I looked up what happens in the next issue. Namor and Pirahna tussle some more until the Sub-Mariner beats him bloody. That in turns causes a school of piranhas to feed on Pirahna, causing the fishy villain a painful demise, and Namor leaves with the cure. Isn’t that irony!

 

Infinity: Free Comic Book Day Special

infiniteI think this might have been my least favorite of the Free Comic Book Day offerings. Infinite helps to set up the latest big Marvel crossover which involves Thanos. It’s not writer Jonathan Hickman’s fault–I’ve just never really gotten into the super cosmic event stories.

After reading it a few times, I’m still not sure what exactly happened. It was intentionally vague, with Thanos’s forces scouring the galaxy for various tribute and this will lead him to Earth for some sort of cataclysmic encounter with the Avengers (I guess tying into that next movie, at least in theme). As someone who is up on their comics, I had trouble following what was going on. So I can only imagine what someone making their first trip to a comic book store would think after reading this.

On the bright side, Jim Cheung’s art was stellar. But that’s usually a given.

The book also reprinted a back up story from Logan’s Run #6, which had Thanos and Drax the Destroyer battling on an alien planet. The mad Titan winds up destroying the last living plant on the planet in a symbolic gesture that one day he will be back to kill them all. There’s also a super brief excerpt from Warren Ellis’ new Avengers graphic novel, but it was really too short to get any feel for. I’m extremely interested that and have added it to my mental pull list.

The Tick: Free Comic Book Day 2013

Ifree-comic-book-day-tick‘ve always been a fan of the tick. I was instantly hooked on the character by the super cool cartoon series on Fox and wound up spending a lot of time during my middle and high school years tracking down whatever I could find. Remember…this was the mid to late 1990s and the internet was still in its infancy.

So this year’s Free Comic Book Day offering was definitely a treat for me. It featured new stories written by Jeff McClelland. He certainly knows how to put together in the spirit of the original Ben Edlund material. The main feature involves the Tick, his longtime (and long suffering sidekick) Arthur on vacation with several other super heroes. The relaxation comes to a stop when lobster people from the ocean floor start invading the surface. It’s up to an extremely sun-burnt and lobster-looking Arthur to stop the invasion. The other features involve the duo on a deserted island and the Tick attempting to learn about the internet.

This was a great treat for me; it reminded me how fun the character is. There is just something charming about the Tick. He pretty much should be one of the most annoying…if not the annoying characters in comics. But his simpleness just makes him so entertaining. He’s like if Tigger and Sheldon Cooper were merged into a muscle bound blue hero.

I’ll give this a thumbs up. If McClelland is in charge of the character these days, he get’s a double thumbs and a “SPPOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!!!!” battle cry. He gets what a Tick story is supposed to be and I can’t wait to see more material from him.

Worlds of Aspen 2013: Free Comic Book Day

worlds-of-aspen-2013I really like the art of Michael Turner and read a lot of his work and the rest of the Aspen Studios crew during the early 2000s. Part of it was because Turner and the rest of his crew were just so friendly and great to talk with at comic book conventions.

When Michael passed away in 2008, I kind of lost track of what the company was publishing. This year is the publisher’s fifteenth anniversary, so Worlds of Aspen 2013: Free Comic Book Day is an opportunity for them to show off the new Fathom series. Aspen Matthews is back, taking a reporter on a journey under the sea (fortunately without Flounder or Sebastian). Along the way, Aspen recaps all of the previous plot-lines and characters, only to find out that something bad has happened to her longtime nemesis Killian. This pretty much serves as a jump-on point for the next volume of the series.

On the art side, it has really well rendered backgrounds and features some of the best coloring you would see in modern comics. Plus for some reason, every woman is wearing a bikini and the men are overly muscled and scantily clad as well. It’s everything you would expect from an Aspen book.

The rest of the issue shares some information about the other new Aspen series that are coming out this year, all of which feature a lead female character. This approach is very interesting to me, as it seems like a good way to expand their audience to more women. But the fact that these characters are drawn like pin-up models makes me wonder if that will be a turn off women from wanting to read these.

I might give these a try, but the only thing I’m positive is picking up the Fathom series once its in a collected version. They’re much more satisfying to read in a single volume.

Sub-Mariner #67

sub-mariner-67

This might be one of the most iconic Sub-Mariner covers of all time. Issue #67 reveals a brand new costume for Namor–the bad ass version designed by John Romita! In this issue, the Sub-Mariner is back and angrier than usual!

Namor is fighting the evil killer whale Orka and the monstrous She-Beast (who has an incredibly boring name) are battling on the floor of the ocean. The Sub-Mariner’s are attempting to destroy Atlantis yet again. In the ensuing battle, Namor winds up getting thrown into the wreckage of an old US Navy submarine. The impact releases a toxic gas into the water that nearly kills Namor.

The underwater Inhuman Triton finds Namor’s sickly body and brings it to the Fantastic Four for help. It turns out that the chemical has somehow changed Namor’s biological makeup, no longer allowing him to spend extended time outside of water. Luckily for him, Reed Richards is able to put together some moisture delivering clothing to make him a new outfit (that reminds me of something that Gene Simmons would have worn during the seventies) to allow him a little more environmental flexibility.

Then Namor goes, well, Namor. Enraged that he has had suffered the indignity of not allowing to walk on land and the fact that this chemical has caused a plague among the Atlanteans, it’s time for a good ol’ fashioned Namor rampage. He trashes the Fantastic Four’s headquarters and then declares war on the surface world.

The book is pure Namor fun; he gets mad and destroys everything in his path, all the while completely being self-absorbed and unreasonable. And as a Namor collector, I like having the first appearance of this iconic look.

Valiant 2013: Free Comic Book Day Special

valiant-2013Now this was a throwback of sorts to the early 1990s. I’m talking about the days when Wizard magazine pretty much was the guide to comics and such. A publisher called Valiant was all the rage, with it’s mix of new modern characters and the revamped classics Magnus and Turok.

I never really read much from the publisher, save for the stuff that was put in the value comic bundles at dollar stores all through the nineties. The publisher returned in its newest incarnation last summer and the Valiant 2013: Free Comic Book Day special does a pretty good job serving as a starting point for new readers.

It features an excerpt from their big summer crossover Harbringer Wars as well as their other monthly books. In addition, they have creator intervivews. And the art in the Valiant books of 2013 looks a lot better to me than the art of Valiant in 1993.

The purpose of Free Comic Book day offerings is to attract new readers, so I guess I would say this did it’s job. I’m a bit more interested in their Archer and Armstrong series, but that’s more due to me really liking writer Fred Van Lente. So I’ll keep that on my radar but it’s not a must read for me. I’m going to put it out to the rest of you: how are the modern Valiant books?

Super-Villain Team-Up #2

super-villain-team-up-2

Poor Namor.

I love the whole concept of Super-Villain Team-Up so much. The idea of Dr. Doom and Sub-Mariner just teaming up and going on there own adventures just entertains me so much.

On one hand, you have the extremely self centered ruler of Atlantis. And his best friend (well, at least for this story’s purpose) is an egotistical mad scientist with an inferiority complex. It’s like the adventures of Cousins Larry and Balki, especially since Dr. Doom and Balki are eastern Europeans.

The second issue of this series has Namor by his longtime villains Attuma, Tiger Shark and the worst named villain in the history of comic books–Dr. Dorcas. His name is just s ridiculous as it sounds.

It’s up to Dr. Doom to save his bestest friend in the world, using a remote controlled camera masquerading as a fish to find his location. And with some help from Namor’s longtime love interest Betty Dean Prentis, the prince is rescued. During the ensuing facas, poor Betty gets hit fatally by a blast from Dorcas’ laser cannon. And this sets up the next issue, where we assume the Sub-Mariner gets a little savage.

The book is just what you would expect of a Marvel issue from the mid 1970s. It’s a fun story, sublimely over-the-top in all aspects. But what makes the book is the artwork; with a cover by Gil Kane and interior art by Sal Buscema, it’s just full of awesomeness.

So does Betty survive? Or at the very least, does Namor avenge her?

Who knows.

I don’t have Super-Villain Team-Up #3, but I would be happy to review it if one of you doesn’t mind passing it along.

Moon Knight: Fist of Knoshu #1-4

moon-knight

Remember how not too long ago I was professing my love of those early 1980s Moon Knight comics? I read that series’ 1985 follow-up mini-series Moon Knight: Fist of Knoshu and didn’t really enjoy it.

The whole purpose of this was to set up a new status quo and to reboot the character to a certain extent. The character’s origin is still the same; they’ve just added more ties to the Egyptian god Knoshu.

Knoshu’s rival, the deity known as Anubis has selected a new avatar to walk the earth. To combat this, Knoshu’s worshipers have recruited Marc Spector into becoming Moon Knight once again. To help sweeten the deal, the cult arms him with some magical weapons and cast a spell on him gives him supernatural powers tied to the moon.

Moon Knight goes on to stop Anubis’ avatar, but at the cost of alienating his girlfriend Marlene and much of his inner circle by re-donning the costume. But hey, he got some sweet powers out of the deal!

I really liked the previous take on the character, with Moon Knight having a much stronger pulp influence. This more supernatural based version really didn’t do it for me. I mean, I still like the character but in general anything that goes too much into supernatural and even horror genres turns me off. I do have more of the previous series that I want to look at. That said, I’ll recommend this for completion only.

Iron Man 3: Tony Stark’s Last Stand

iron-man-3

This weekend I saw Iron Man 3 which finishes probably the best trilogy in super hero movies. Tony Stark is back and he is a bit of a mess.

Since the events of The Avengers, he has been suffering from severe bouts of anxiety as to his role in being a self-appointed protector of mankind. Things get even more complicated for Stark as he has to fight off a new global terrorist known as the Mandarin, who has struck at him first by attempting to murder Stark’s longtime driver/bodyguard/assistant Happy Hogan and then launching an aerial attack on Stark’s Malibu home.

It turns out that this latest threat to Stark and the world at large is tied to Aldrich Killian and his quasi research company/terrorist group Advanced Idea Mechanics. Unfortunately, no one in the movie version of AIM wears the beloved yellow bee keeper’s suits. Killian is upset that Stark blew him off at a millennial New Year’s Eve event and has spent the last thirteen years perfecting a regenerative healing technology (kind of like Wolverine) that was coincidentally developed by a scientist that Stark had a one night stand with that same night. Unfortunately, this bio-tech called Extremis is extremely volatile and can be used to make explosive soldiers. Not to mention, Killian has kidnapped Stark’s love interest Pepper Potts.

This all leads Stark to face the biggest challenge of his life, stopping both Killian and the Mandarin and rescuing Pepper while not having access to his usual arsenal. Our hero is able to save the day with more than a little help from his friends James Rhodes (sans his War Machine armor) and Pepper (who has gained some extraordinary abilities of her own after becoming infected with Extremis). But the battle that Stark had with himself in overcoming his own fears was much more important than his struggle with Killian and AIM.

I loved how they made the hero seem so vulnerable, but only in his own mind. Yes, he’s Tony Stark, one of the smartest and most successful men on the planet. But in his own mind he was done for. He pulls himself together at the right time to protect what is most important to him. The resulting story is very compelling and isn’t overshadowed by robotic armor and a billion explosions.

Plot aside, there were a lot of other details that I liked. Here they are in no particular order.

  • The movie borrows a lot of concepts from Warren Ellis’ “Extremis” storyline. This gets acknowledged by the filmmakers in a roundabout way, as the movie’s president shares a last name with the writer. 
  • Don Cheadle was awesome as War Machine and I liked how they were able to tie the Iron Patriot armor into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, especially since they don’t have access to the Norman Osborn character.
  • The scenes with Stark hiding out in Tennessee and befriending the kid inventor Harley were really funny and sweet at the same time, with the younger one being more optimistic of Stark’s skills.
  • The Ben Kingsley Mandarin character had an unbelievable plot swerve and was acted so well. If you haven’t seen the film yet or have no interest in it,

What I also liked was how they tied up the loose ends of the movie series. For now it seems like another Robert Downey Jr. Iron Man film may be unlikely, but they smartly found a way that satisfactorily ends the trilogy that can allow Downey to revisit the character or relaunch the franchise with someone else. But until that happens, Iron Man 3 finishes the greatest super hero movie trilogy of all time.

He-Man Starts Wearing Pants

he-man-2013

So after about thirty years, He-Man decided that he’s going to do something that the rest of us have to do: wear pants. DC Comics shared his new look on their blog this today.

This is taken from Ed Benes’ cover for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #4. I’m sure him and the series’ interior artist Pop Mhan (and probably toy maker Mattel) had some input on these new duds. It tones down his barbarian image a lot and has lots of plate armor. The one thing i’m not to keen on this redesign is that it looks like he is still wearing his furry underwear, and the tufts of hair around the shoulders.

So what do you guys think?