Friday, August 31, 2007

AWtC Weekly: 08/31/07




Nothing this week, since I'm off to Arizona for the Labor Day weekend. I plan to visit Atomic Comics while I'm out there, and I look forward to seeing the new interior. Atomic's Mesa store was the store that got demolished about a year ago when some fool drove into the front of the store, hitting the water main for the entire building, thus soaking their entire stock. That sucked, but they recovered, so I'll be stopping in to see the new look.

AWtC Weekly is moving to Mondays, starting on Monday, Sept 10. Peace out, y'all.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Dan Clowes' Playful Obsession

Click images to enlarge


With all the Richie Rich talk around here lately, I was reminded of this hilarious Dan Clowes strip from early in his career. Before he got all high falutin' and "went Hollywood", Clowes turned out some wonderful short humor strips in the first dozen issues of Eightball. From the pages of Eightball # 5 (1991), enjoy Playful Obsession:



I just read "The Death Ray" the other day, and it was brilliant -a complex puzzle of a story- but I miss the pop-eyed, sweat-flinging frenetic cartooniness in this early work. Sure, its important to grow an' mature in your work, but I sure would like to see Clowes just be "zany" again, if only for a change of pace. Of course, we all get older and our tastes change so maybe he just needs to do whatever moves him. Whatever the case, I'm glad we got the early Eightball work at all. "Playful Obsession" and most of the early Eightball humor shorts are retouched, recolored and reprinted in Twentieth Century Eightball, a volume I can't recommend highly enough.





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Monday, August 27, 2007

Richie Rich is a Creepy Little Bastard

Troubled teens from broken homes are known to act out in violent and destructive ways, but the disturbed offspring of the mega rich and ultra famous operate at whole different levels of crazy. Paris Hilton and her ilk are only the tip of the iceberg. Little spoken of, seldom seen are the megamanialoaded teen set of Beverly hills, the poster boy for whom is Richie Rich, the deeply, deeply disturbed Poor Little Rich Boy.



Unlike typical Billionaire offspring, Richie Rich doesn't run around drunk driving and exposing his genitals, instead, he luxuriates in his obscene wealth in frightening, obsessive fashion. Here, for example, we see Richie engaging in "cutting" behavior in his own unique way:

Seemingly defiant of the very laws of physics and nature themselves, Richie's dollar designs are actually the result of hours upon hours of obsessive hand trimming. And when Cadbury was finally, finally done, Richie would pose with the lawnmower, as the exhausted butler propped himself up in the background. Alarmingly self-absorbed, Richie pours countless billions of his family's wealth into customizing everyday objects into Solid Gold Custom Dollar Sign versions of those same everyday objects:





His fetishistic, controlling behavior usually frightens away the few children who can be bribed to play with this most spoiled of rich brats:



Still, in his craven, shallow way he needs friends, cultivating only the poorest of the poor, relishing their pop-eyed gawping as they behold the vast, vast mounds of cash he "accidentally" leaves lying around:



His money mania even extends to his spiritual life, and his pagan worship of the evil money-god Mammon is well known to the Skull and Bones set:



Finally, at day's end, the richest boy in the world unwinds by watching all of his friends via carefully placed surveillance equipment. No expense is spared in this ultimate violation:




Truly, Richie Rich is a creepy, creepy little bastard.





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Friday, August 24, 2007

AWtC Weekly: 08/24/07

SPOILER WARNING: This is the "current events and gossip" part of our presentation. New comics, comics news, and gossip can and will be discussed. Don't freak out, but we got SPOILERS, baby. Heavy, heavy SPOILERS.




Nothing too eye-popping this week, so I figured I'd let Captain Marvel Jr. sock it to ya.


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Lately, it seems that Spider-Man’s life couldn’t get much worse. Luckily, this is comics, where we can just magically reboot the timeline if things get too gunked-up. I’m predicting that “One More Day” builds on a glimpse of his future self that Spider-Man got in Amazing Spider-Man #500 a couple of years back. In that story, Spidey got a guided tour of his future and his past, courtesy of Doctor Strange. Future Spider-Man was a hunted fugitive, who gave Present-day Spidey some cryptic clues of events to come, so I’m guessing that’s Future Spidey’s hand on the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #545. I’m not a fan of the magic reset button, but it does seem that J. M. Straczynski has been building to this since day one, so at least it doesn’t just come out of left field. We’ll probably see all the major developments of the last few years undone, like his unmasking, Aunt May’s knowledge of the secret, maybe all of that “The Other” stuff, and of course, the marriage.









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New Comics this Week:

Batman #668
Batman’s reunion with the League of Heroes continues, as another one bites the dust. Everyone is working at top form here, making for a great, memorable tale.

Blue Beetle #18
Blue Beetle gets to meet some peers in this issue, and his pals get some time in the spotlight. It’s nice to see a modern book integrate a group of operatives into the main hero’s life, hearkening back to the pulps.

Spirit #9
Another solid issue. Gonna miss Darwyn Cooke after he leaves.

Amazing Spider-Man#543
Back in black draws to a close with no questions answered and a miserable sense of despair. This arc has really dragged on, and if the point was to make us long for simpler, happier stories, well, mission accomplished. Bring on the magic reset button!

Thunderbolts #116
I get a perverse sense of amusement at the way Warren Ellis just keeps upping the crazy ante on Robbie Baldwin. “A walking pile of scabs with legs sticking out” heh heh.

Strangers In Paradise Vol 19 Ever After TPB
Stick a fork in it, 'tis done. Now I need to get caught up on the last few trades, so I can read this concluding chapter.



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Again With the Comics Eagerly Awaits:


Brave and the Bold #8 features the great George Perez drawing one of my favorite DC teams, the Doom Patrol, as they team up with the Flash. Perez has never had much opportunity to draw the misfit team, so this is a rare treat.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Blood Curdling Horror of…Richie Rich?!?

As hard as it may be to believe, Richie Rich was huge when I was growing up. If you think Batman and Spider-Man are bad with the spin-offs, consider that at the height of Richie’s popularity Harvey Comics were publishing well over twenty monthly titles devoted to the Poor Little Rich Boy, not to mention digests and anthology titles. My main exposure to Richie Rich was through a childhood friend whose mother wouldn’t let him read superhero comics but would allow the wholesome antics of the Harvey gang and Spire Christian Comics.

Well, mostly wholesome anyway. As a kid, I regarded the Harveys as “baby comics” and didn’t seek them out myself, but when I was visiting my friend, those were all that was available, so that’s what we read. Richie Rich, Casper and the rest had the same sort of bland, cookie cutter stories from issue to issue, and most have long since vacated my memory…all but one. As I mentioned, the sheer volume of Richie Rich comics published at the time was astonishing, so I will probably never know which issue held the SCARIEST, FREAKIEST most MIND-BLASTING Richie Rich story I’ve ever seen, but its branded in my memory to this day.

The story involved a monster serum of some sort, maybe invented by Professor Keenbean, and a Jekyll/Hyde transformation for the titular billionaire boy. Somehow, Richie got ahold of this formula and had it with him when he got…kidnapped maybe? Anyway, a crook was threatening him, and he terrified the guy into immediate submission by taking the formula, which led to the ORIGINAL EXTREME MAKEOVER:

Now, that’s just my own drawing from a 25-plus year old memory of a comic book I didn’t even own, but I distinctly remember an all-too-horrific, grotesquely deformed lumpen head dangling at the end of Richie’s lolling, distended neck, all stacked atop his "normal" body. It was pretty alarming, especially in an otherwise antiseptic Harvey book. Looking back, I’m pretty sure it must have been the work of the versatile and prolific master cartoonist Ernie Colon, who has drawn a ton of Richie Rich comics as well as a bevy of horror stories in his long career. Maybe he mixed up his Richie Rich and Tales of the Unexpected assignments that month. So basically, picture what I drew drawn well by Ernie Colon, and that's what I saw.

To this day, I have no idea which Richie Rich comic this bizarre tale appeared in. Maybe in the Richie Rich Profit$ issue whose cover I posted above, though it doesn’t look familiar, and I don’t remember anything happening to Richie’s father. As I recall, the cover was one of thousands that featured the standard money gag - you know, like Richie Rich is eating a hamburger, only the "hamburger" is a giant silver coin, the "lettuce" is money, and the "bun" is sculpted from gold, something like that. Which served only to make Monster Richie’s appearance all the more unexpectedly traumatic. If you have any clues about this story, or if you have a similar story of “horror amidst the innocence” like this one, please share in the comments!






Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dragonshade is STILL Waiting!

FOOM, Marvel's in-house fan magazine of the 1970's, is a fascinating look back at an earlier time in comics fandom. Before the Internet, magazines and newsletters were pretty much it for comics news. From FOOM #16 (1976) comes an impassioned plea from writer Don McGregor to spread the word about Dragonshade, slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Deadly Hands of Kung Fu.


Click pages to enlarge



The Department of InFOOMation for this issue reveals that the latest Deadly Hands of Kung Fu would have been #10, and a quick stop over at the Deadly Hands of Kung Fu GCD entry reveals, that no, Dragonshade never appeared in those or any pages.

In fact, -yikes- Don Mc Gregor is editor of DHoKF for issues #10 and 11, then Archie Goodwin took over, and Mc Gregor's name disappeared from the credits. That ain't right. Marvel politics, man.

This isn't really the sort of book I seek out, mind you, but it looks no worse than a lot of the chop sockey stuff that was out at the time. Looks like Dragonshade had a lot of the same sort of weaponry and trappings that became huge just a few years later, when comics went ninja-happy. Just ahead of his time, I suppose.




Super '70's Bonus: Marvel Hype of Yesteryear:


Friday, August 17, 2007

The Fly and the Black Hood in: Vow Kapow!








What are we... are we playing can you top this?
...
Oooo-kay...I THE FLY DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT NEITHER THREATS, NOR BRIBES, NOR BULLETS, NOR ZOMBIES, NOR ROBOTS, NOR DRACULAS, NOR DEATH ITSELF, SHALL KEEP ME FROM FULFILLING MY SACRED VOW…TO ERASE CRIME FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH!!






I THE BLACK HOOD DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT NEITHER THREATS, NOR BRIBES, NOR BULLETS, NOR ZOMBIES, NOR ROBOTS, NOR DRACULAS, NOR THE DEVIL, NOR NAZI DINOSAURS, NOR NINJAS, NOR AN EVIL ME FROM A PARALLEL UNIVERSE, NOR SOMEBODY TRAVELING BACK IN TIME TO STRANGLE ME IN MY CRIB BEFORE I’M BORN, NOR DEATH ITSELF, SHALL KEEP ME FROM FULFILLING MY SACRED VOW…TO ERASE CRIME FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH!!





Look Hood, what's your problem? Do you have to keep topping me? Dude, we're on the same team, right? We're both dedicated to fighting crime - so dedicated in fact, that we each wrote separate but eerily familiar vows to crush crime! Look, you know I'm on board with this "erase crime" gig. Seriously, fuck crime, am I right?!? What d'you say, pal? Truce?





MOTHERFUCKER! I THE BLACK HOOD DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT NEITHER THREATS, NOR BRIBES, NOR BULLETS, NOR ZOMBIES, NOR ROBOTS, NOR DRACULAS, NOR THE DEVIL, NOR NAZI DINOSAURS, NOR NINJAS, NOR AN EVIL ME FROM A PARALLEL UNIVERSE, NOR SOMEBODY TRAVELING BACK IN TIME TO STRANGLE ME IN MY CRIB BEFORE I’M BORN, NOR SNIVELING PUNK-ASS PIPSQUEAK SOFT-ON-CRIME TEAM-MATES, NOR DEATH ITSELF, SHALL KEEP ME FROM FULFILLING MY SACRED VOW…TO ERASE CRIME FROM THE FACE OF THE EARTH!! I WILL DESTROY CRIME!! CHOP OFF MY ARMS AND LEGS! I DARE YOU!! MY LIMBLESS TORSO WILL STILL FLOP FORTH, POWERED BY SHEER HATE AND WRATH, CONTINUING MY INEXORABLE CRUSADE TO ERASE! CRIME! FROM! THE! FACE! OF! THE!! EARTH!!!!





Enough! You win! Tell you what, I'm gonna go and specifically not erase crime from the face of the Earth now, okay? I'll leave that to you, big guy. Forget my phone number! Gotta go!





And, inevitably...

Oh, those wacky Mighty Crusaders!








Click here for more Fly Fun.


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Thursday, August 16, 2007

AWtC Weekly: 08/17/07

SPOILER WARNING: This is the "current events and gossip" part of our presentation. New comics, comics news, and gossip can and will be discussed. Don't freak out, but we got SPOILERS, baby. Heavy, heavy SPOILERS.



Again With the Comics: Rocking your face with Truth Bombs for almost fifteen months.

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New Comics This Week:

Nexus: Space Opera #1
Not a new comic this week, but still in stores, I wanted to plug the hizzle out of this book while I still can. Simply put, I cannot recommend Nexus highly enough. The long-running title returns after a ten year hiatus, and I'd like it to not be another ten years before the next installment. If you were worried, Mike Baron and Steve Rude have still got "it", and they ramp up the tension big time, with the birth of Nexus' son and some major civil unrest on Ylum. Great, great stuff.



Booster Gold #1
I've been a Booster booster since his solo series in the '80s, so I'm glad to see him back in action. This issue provided some great moments with a more mature, focused Booster seemingly ready to meet his destiny as one of The Greats, before having the rug yanked unceremoniously from under his feet. He's a better hero than I, because I would have probably gone ahead and joined the JLA. Hey, it was only Hal Jordan, so...no big loss. So now Booster has to be the greatest hero of all, and no one can know about it-quite a conundrum for such a vain character, and a time-travel setup rife with possibilities.



Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man:
Well, if they're going to push the reset button and un-reveal Spidey's secret (as I suspect) at least they published this story first. I've been waiting for a showdown between unmasked Peter and J. Jonah Jameson, and this issue delivered. Jameson is really a fascinating character in the right hands, and Peter David shows an understanding of what makes the blustery publisher tick.


Flash #231:
Wally and his family have a sort of Incredibles thing going on here, which is not bad at all. The family scenario is new enough that Mark Waid's return doesn't seem redundant.

Planet of the Vampires #1 and #2
A world gone mad! Six astronauts return to Earth and find it ruled by vampires!

Also out this week: The plot thickens and a starling deception is revealed in Super-Villain Team Up : MODOK's 11 #2, the outgoing writer leaves a mess for the next guy in Justice League of America #12, Army@Love #6 continues the sexy, cynical tale of motivation and morale in a near-future Army, Captain America remains dead and Falcon gets crispy in Captain America #29, the Book of Destiny saga concludes in Brave and the Bold #6, Trickster and Piper get itchy in Countdown#37, and Jimmy gets a new Pal in Action #854.


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I'm still stunned by the death of Mike Wieringo. Taken far, far too soon. Ugh - what a world, where toxic cretins thrive and prosper, while this guy trying to work out, stay in shape, and eat right gets struck down early.


Rest in peace, 'Ringo, you'll be missed.






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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Batman and The Club of Heroes

It's officially unanimous: everyone loved Batman #667. And why not? with a gripping story by Grant Morrison and eye-popping art by J.H. Williams III, this issue may be the best of Morrison's run yet. First he reintroduced some of Batman's craziest adventures into continuity via the Black Casebook, now the mad Scot has brought back The International Club of Heroes:


Click images to enlarge

After going through the vast Again With the Comics archives, I've found part of a reprint of the second Club of Heroes story from World's Finest #89 (1957), recycling characters who first appeared as the Batmen of All Nations in Detective Comics #215 (1955).



Here we see heroes being summoned from all over the world to Metropolis:


Once in America, they are honored with an unexpected gift:

Yes, Batman and Superman are too noble and/or humble to assume leadership of the club, leaving the chairmanship up in the air. The other heroes are also reluctant to grab the glory for themselves:

As all of this is going on, a mysterious new hero, Lightning Man, has shown up in Metropolis, appearing to upstage Superman. Superman, meanwhile, is having blackouts just prior to each Lightning Man appearance. It's painfully obvious that Superman is Lightning Man, but my coverless copy of World's Finest #179 is tore up from the floor up, so I'm missing the last few pages of this story. I'm gonna go out on a limb and predict that Lightning Man was elected chairman of the club, while Batman and Superman both retired and faded into obscurity.

Further research indicates that Wingman first appeared in Batman #65 (1951), and Chief Man-of-Bats first appeared in Batman #86 (1954).

Friday, August 10, 2007

AWTC Weekly: 08/10/07

SPOILER WARNING: This is the "current events and gossip" part of our presentation. New comics, comics news, and gossip can and will be discussed. Don't freak out, but we got SPOILERS, baby. Heavy, heavy SPOILERS.

This turned into Batman week without me even planning it, so enjoy a favorite Batman cover, featuring the Dark Knight finally getting his priorities straight. Pretty slow week for new comics, but it gave me a chance to take a good look at Batman#667. Let's do this t'ing.


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Great Minds Dept: Remember a few months back when I wouldn't shut up about that cross-time Fantastic Four/Doctor Strange/West coast Avengers story? Bully over at Comics Oughta Be Fun is currently covering the same stories, complete with a nice shout-out to yours truly. He was concerned about the duplication, but this is one story that bears examining with multiple viewpoints. I'm enjoying his look at these stories, as I enjoy most of his posts. You've seen the old stuffed man's point of view, now check out a little stuffed bull's look at the whackiest time-travel story in comics!




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New Comics This Week:




Batman #667
Grant Morrison has a gift for wringing the best ideas from the silliest old stories, and he does it again here with an appearance of the International Club Of Heroes. An uncomfortable reunion turns into a locked island murder mystery as the multinational detectives are being picked off one by one. J.H. Williams III turns in an outstanding art job, as well, an artist who keeps getting better and better.





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It occurred to me earlier today that now that the Wildstorm Universe has been thoroughly integrated into the DC Universe, isn't it about time for a big, ugly public falling out between Wildstorm and DC? Isn't that how these things usually go? It wasn't that long ago that Wildstorm was in bed with Marvel, and that didn't last. If nothing else, a Wildstorm defection would give DC an excellent excuse to publish another crossover. Crisis on Earth-50, anyone?



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Again With the Comics Eagerly Awaits:

The Next Issue Project is the latest of several upcoming projects that revive moribund Golden Age public domain Superheroes. Image Comics Publisher Erik Larsen promises the "next issues" of various long-forgotten comics, with stories done in the Golden Age style by contemporary creators.



See you next week. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.