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From the letter column for Star Spangled War Stories #126 (April-May 1966):
“RK” being “Robert Kanigher,” natch. (Fake letter run to help dissuade similar letters from pouring in, or real reader comment pulled out and used as a lesson in what editors don’t
want to see? No idea.)
From the same issue, an in-house ad that, I can only assume, resulted in the highest sales ever for any issue of Metal Men:
I vote “hotcha.” I mean, who doesn’t
I was going to save these for my next End of Civilization post, but decided I couldn’t wait. Now, I’m not much of a t-shirt wearer, but I think I will make an exception for these fine items, available in the October issue of Previews:
That’s the cover of the new Swamp Thing
#1 by Yanick Paquette, and here is a plain ol’ logo shirt:
…one of which I’ve been awaiting for a long
time. At last, I can finally retire (well, more
retire) this worn-out piece of clothing
• • •
In other news…I picked up five of the new DC #1s this week (minor spoilers ahead):
- Superman #1: lots of stuff crammed into this issue — interesting, but can’t really describe it as “enjoyable” — and the last hope that someone, anyone, could make Superman’s new costume look good is finally dashed…though George Perez comes closest on the cover.
- Aquaman #1: pulls off the nice trick of taking all the criticisms and mockeries aimed at Aquaman over the years and putting them in the mouths of a bunch of folks harassing our fishy friend. Effectively puts reader in position of siding with the hero against all those old jokes, probably a more effective defense than attempts at bad-assifying the character. I wasn’t planning to get this, but picked it up on a whim and, surprisingly, turned out to be one of my favorite relaunches of this whole New 52 hoohar.
- Fury of Firestorm #1: noted just recently that I love the Firestorm character, but I’m not quite sure what I think of this new version. It’s a complete reboot, which seems to be taking things in a slightly different direction, and…I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. I’ll keep reading and see what happens. However, I am not down with reboot Cliff Carmichael…sorry, this is “Superman’s new costume” level of tragedy.
- Green Lantern: New Guardians #1: think this may be the “one Green Lantern title too many” series. I’ve said before that I’ve probably had enough of the different-colored Lantern corps for the time being, so it’s probably not you, baby, it’s me. However, totally judging this from just this one issue, this feels like it’s more suited to a storyline in another GL book rather than a series on its own. Then again, you can probably say that about every GL series beyond the first one.
- Justice League Dark #1: only picked it up because of John Constantine, not expecting much…but turned out to be not half-bad. Still in the “let’s get the band together” part of the story, being only the first issue an’ all, but am looking forward to more. And looking forward to any possible Swamp Thing cameos, but that goes without saying.
Also picked up Love & Rockets #4 by those Jaime and Gilbert cats, which is, as usual, a masterpiece of comics storytelling despite its lack of Swamp Thing. L&R, always recommended.
…If you want reviews of all of last week’s DC #1s, pal Dorian has got you covered.
ad from DC Comics Presents #96 (August 1986)
…A copy of the Dungeons & Dragons-centric magazine The Dragon #1 from 1976:
We carried Dragon
when it was being published, we’ve handled tons of back issues of the mag…hell, even I
bought it for a short time during my brief D&D fling in junior high school. And I’ve seen some pretty early issues of the series cross my path…but never
the first issue. Pretty neat, I think. It’s a bit rough, having had an unfortunate random encounter with some moisture (hopefully
water) at some point in the past, causing some rippling of the pages, though it remains perfectly readable.
It’s in slightly better shape than this other item from the same collection, 1978’s The Arduin Grimoire Vol. 2: Welcome to Skull Tower:
It’s a sourcebook for an early role-playing competitor to D&D, and this particular copy’s cover is so beat and rough that it’s actually detached from the pages within. But the book remains readable, with plenty of detailed charts and elaborate descriptions of gameplay. While I’m not a game-player, I do have a peculiar fascination with reading about
games, and for reading extensive rules systems like these. In fact, the temptation to hang onto this for a while instead of selling it is pretty strong. Alas, it’s gotta go!
…But not until I pull a handful of choice and somewhat out-of-context quotes from the book:
“A DM must be as heartless as one of his monsters if order is to be maintained and fun is to be had for all.”
“Once the people who play in your world realize that you mean business, they will be much more ready to act in a proper manner, and refrain from disruptive and childish temper tantrums.”
“…A man slain by an 8 dice vampire would require 8 hours to transform into one himself. Simple.”
“DICE ROLL: 81-85 HIT LOCATION: The mouth RESULTS: Tongue torn out, 10% chance of drowning in one’s own blood. Permanent coherent voice loss.”
“…For what is stranger, the alien with the blaster or the multi-tonned dragon that breathes fire? Think about it.”
So I finally picked up for myself that Firestorm The Nuclear Man trade paperback DC Comics released several months ago. Normally, I don’t tend to buy reprints of material I already own (my…um, dozen or so versions of House of Secrets #92 notwithstanding), but I was in the mood to read a little somethin’ archival, and Firestorm is one of my favorite superhero series, and the trade’s cover is pretty sharp-looking, and I’d like to have these stories printed on nice white paper.
It’s fun stuff, a little rough around the edges and maybe trying a little too hard to push the Spider-Man formula of “put-upon high schooler is also an awesome superhero,” but still an entertaining read that has aged reasonably well. With a new Firestorm series heading our way this week, it’s nice to look back at where the character began.
For instance, I’d forgotten just how callous Ronnie Raymond (one half of Firestorm’s alter egos) was to Professor Martin Stein (the other half). When merged together as Firestorm, Stein was the disembodied voice who advised Ronnie, who was in control of their physical form. However, when the two would split apart into their civilian identities, Stein wouldn’t remember his time as part of Firestorm, attributing his time-loss to blackouts and such. And, of course, this leads to all kinds of personal and professional problems for Stein, which Ronnie just kind of brushes off with an “ah, well…it sure is great to be a superhero!”
I know this is eventually resolved…in the second Firestorm series from the 1980s, Stein is aware of his dual life, but…I don’t recall exactly when or how this is resolved. It used to be I had these comics pretty much memorized, but it’s finally to the point where it’s been so long since I’ve last read them, they’re almost like new to me again. At least, in terms of specific plot points, since, as I described, I remember general things about the series and characters. Anyway, I thought that was a neat twist for a superhero…not just having two different people squeezed together to form one hero, but by having one of them not remember his superhero life, and the other not have enough of sense of responsibility to realize what he’s doing to his “partner.”
The other aspect of this series that I enjoy is the reversal of the typical “jock versus nerd” conflict, where Raymond (a member of the school’s basketball team) is constantly harassed by Cliff Carmichael, the school brain. I’ve written about Cliff before, and…man, I kinda miss that particular conflict. I seem to recall a time or two where Cliff and Ronnie actually, if briefly, get along, which was a nice touch, adding a little extra dimension to the typical high-school rivalry proceedings. But, like I said in that previous post, Cliff ends up becoming a supervillain or something and it always struck me as an unsatisfying closure to what was a (relatively-speaking) normal adversarial relationship.
But, back to specifically discussing this trade paperback: it also includes a story intended for the original series but never published, save for the copyright-establishing-but-not-intended-for-general-distribution Cancelled Comic Cavalcade. Or, as the trade’s back cover would have it:
Anyway, the story is presented in black and white, and features plot elements that, if my aging and increasingly unreliable memory serves me, were repurposed into the Firestorm back-ups that ran in Flash. (Some of the back-ups are reprinted in this book as well, but not the ones I’m thinking of, it seems.)
Also, the “next issue” blurb at the end of the sorta-unpublished issue #6 promises the appearance of “The Reptile Man.” I was going to say the Reptile Man never did appear, but a quick Googling pulls up this Firestorm Fan Page, which (along with a couple of Al Milgrom’s pages for #7) links to an audio interview with Firestorm cocreator Gerry Conway and states the Reptile Man eventually became Batman villain Killer Croc. Huh. (Also, I would have sworn on a copy of DC Comics’ The Bible treasury edition that Killer Croc predated Firestorm…but nope, first appeared in ’83.)
So that’s a lot of words just to say “I like Firestorm,” but hey, I do. And I’m hoping I’ll enjoy this new series as well. And with any luck we’ll see more Firestorm paperbacks…I think some of Pat Broderick’s best work was on those early issues of Firestorm’s 1980s revival, and I’d like to see that art on paper that isn’t thirty-year-old decaying newsprint, for the sake of my forty-two-year-old decaying eyesight.
from DC Comics Presents #26 (May 1984) by Mark Evanier, Irv Novick & Dennis Jensen
• • •
In other news:
- That Chris Sims, he’s got more free comics for you to read: The Hard Ones, with cowriter Chad Bowers and artist Rusty Shackles, is available right here for free download!
- It’s not often I see Swamp Thing on Yahoo’s front page:
…but hey, there he is.
It’s a story celebrating both Heather Locklear’s 50th birthday, as well as her…colorful film career. It refers to her part in 1989’s Return of the Swamp Thing as “her first awful film role,” and I can only assume that was a typo, and they actually meant “awe-inspiring.”
THE INAPPROPRIATE SEXINESS OF POST-REBOOT NANCY
from The Best of Ernie Bushmiller’s Nancy (1988)
- That prolific Kevin Church cat, along with artist Sandra Lanz, just kicked off their new romance web comic Did You See Me Coming. Get in on the ground floor of a new Agreeable Comics story…”every strip a killer!”
- Speaking of Agreeable Comics, don’t forget to follow the adventures of America’s favorite robot detective, Copernicus Jones, by Matt Wilson and artist of those swell Swamp Thing sketches of mine, Daniel Butler.
- And speaking of both Swamp Thing and Daniel Butler, the former was featured on a t-shirt drawn by the latter for Tribe One (currently on tour with Adam Warrock)!
- And I haven’t linked this strip enough…the fun-for-everyone Troop Infinity by Josh Krach and Sheli Hay!
- And then there’s Awesome Hospital by Chris Sims, Chad Bowers, Matt Digges, and the already-linked Josh Krach, which is always a blast. By the way, Sims is teasing something new. Probably involves kicking.
- Pal Kevin Parks presents…BAT-DOODLE.
from ad in Stanley and His Monster #112 (Oct-Nov 1968)
So, yeah, sorry about that post yesterday. I really meant to keep it short, honest, but, you know, get me talking about Swamp Thing, and look what happens. But at least I do it here, where you all have avenues of escape, and not at the store, where I could possibly corner some poor bastard and discuss Patchwork Man continuity for half an hour.
I answered a couple of questions in yesterday’s comments already, but let me address a couple more here today:
Dwayne the Canoe Guy asks:
“I saw today that Tamga.com is selling a discount subscription to Swamp Thing and recently featured Justice League. Tanga normally discounts boardgames & novelty electronics. Does this discounting indicate that DC is desperate?”
I’d say the fact that DC restarted all their books with new #1s was already a pretty good sign of desperation. But no, offering cheap subscriptions to comics on a discount deal site sounds more like loss-leading promotion than “oh dear God someone please buy our comics.” It’s just another venue to hawk their wares, rather than just pushing their offerings through the usual places.
eee-gah wants to know, in response to my slightly snarky comment about blood ‘n’ guts in DC’s superhero books:
“Has anyone ever complained to you at the shop about the level of gore in a random DC book?”
No, not really “complained” as such. The few people who have noted it usually do so with a sense of…bemusement. Like, “oh, look what DC did THIS time.” But I haven’t had any angry parents stomp into the store and gripe that their precious Little Billy picked up a copy of Teen Titans: Risk – A Call to Arms #1 and was offended by all the violence therein. But I have had a parent complain about Lesbian Batwoman, so I guess I know where the lines are drawn in our neighborhood.
Also…it’s been a while since this happened, but I always like to mention that one mother who complained that the Spider-Man comics her son was reading were “too sexy.” Specifically, the Steve Ditko Spider-Man comics her son was reading in reprints. That’s probably the one and only time that particular complaint was leveled at Ditko’s Spidey.
• • •
Okay, so you’ve read Fake AP Stylebook
, you’ve bought your mandatory three copies per household of the Fake AP Stylebook book Write More Good
, and maybe some of you are following our lonely, lonely Twitter feed The Content Farm
. Now, The Bureau Chiefs
bring you…Fake Pew Research
, featuring improbable statistics for an intractable society.
Anyway, as pal Dave L. so accurately puts it, it’s just another goofy thing we’re doing to make each other laugh, and hopefully it’ll make some of you laugh too.
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