Today’s Recommended Podcast: 3rd DEGREE BYRNE Ep# 1 AVENGERS 164-166

I stumbled across this relatively recent podcast today. An entire podcast dedicated to the works, the oeuvre, of one of the most influential artists, and later writer/artist, of the 1970s and 1980s… John Byrne.

As a kid of the 70s and 80s, I very much grew up on the artwork and collaborations and stories of John Byrne, so I still hold that work as formative and really ground breaking. And really his body of work remains a large part of the cultural storyboards that power today’s billion dollar comic films.

So this podcast that discusses his work, rather than the politics or quirks or controversy of Byrne the man, I find of great interest.

This 1st episode covers a classic three part story by Jim Shooter (writer), John Byrne(artist) and George Perez (cover artist).

For my money this is, in addition to visuals being borrowed liberally for for the 2nd Marvel Studios AVENGERS film, it is one of the  best Avengers stories.

I’ve sold most of my comics from yesteryear keeping only those that wowed me as a kid, and that still impress me as an adult, books that remain quintessentially the best examples of Superhero Blockbuster action. These 1970s AVENGERS books, 164, 165,166 remain the impetus and heart and idea space for what now 40 years later, have become multi-billion dollar cinematic mythologies… for new generations.

For my money nothing surpasses those three books, and it would be decades before Kurt Busiek in his wonderful 4 part Ultron Story-line in the  AVENGERS (vol III from 1999 – 19,20,21,22) wrote anything as iconic as those three Shooter/Byrne images.  The 90s Busiek/Perez run being very much a homage to those 70s  Shooter/Byrne issues. Shooter and Byrne telling in 3 perfect packed issues, what lesser creators would have ruined by trying to stretch to 4, 5, or 6 issues.

It is no mistake that those two disparate stories were mashed together to make the plot for AVENGERS II AGE OF ULTRON. A movie I liked quite a bit, it is a solid B/B+, but it is not as successful as the two story-lines that inspired it. Whereas the beauty of most of the Marvel Studios output is they are actually superior to the story-lines that inspired them; the movies written to be more sophisticated, and appeal to a very savvy adult audience. The first AVENGERS movie is better than the books that inspired it, as is the 3 CAPTAIN AMERICA movies,  as is the GUARDIAN OF THE GALAXY movies, and the IRON MAN movies (the first two Thor movies, not so much 🙂 ).

Jim Shooter was a boy genius who understood hyperbole and the dream of the mythic and heroic, and arguably there is no better example of that than in AVENGERS 164, 165, and 166. These issues are relatively still very affordable as 1st printings, and recently have been reprinted along with other essential issues in a very affordable collection.

 

You can get the issues here:

 

Avengers Epic Collection: The Final Threat

 

This collection is close to going out of print and covers issues #150 to #166, which is really the very best issues of the run. Pick them up at the link above while they are in stock.

Once you have read them, or if you have already read them, check out the podcast below. I disagree with them on some points but overall an interesting listen, and an interesting idea for a podcast. And I have to thank their podcast for spurring this blog post.

http://twotruefreaks.com/media/podcasts/byrne/rss.xml

 

 

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GRAPHIC NOVEL Round-Up : Bendis’ UNCANNY X-MEN

allnewxmen2
ALL NEW X-MEN VOL 2 HERE TO STAY – Collecting issues 6 to 10 of the series this is an interesting and fun premise for a miniseries, namely have the X-men of the past interact with the present. However for a series, it is a gimmick, an in-joke, that runs the risk of staying around too long, and outliving its sell by date. For the moment Marquez and Immonen art keeps it interesting, but already the premise is getting to feel belabored.

uncanneyxmen1
UNCANNY X-MEN VOL 1 REVOLUTION – Collecting issues 1 to 5 of the series the pluses are a strong, witty and fun script by Brian Michael Bendis, and some gorgeous art by Chris Bacchalo. The weaknesses are the layouts can be lost under muddy finishing/coloring, and a tendency, unsatisfying tendency, to end the very slight collections on a cliffhanger. It is a weakness that both volumes share.

Add to that the outrageous price of $24.99 for only 5 issues ($5 an issue!!!), a hundred thirty plus pages of story and the absence of a complete, standalone story becomes even more insulting.

It is a very petty and miserly and obscene ‘bleed your audience’ policy that Marvel has undertaken here, that does not deserve to be rewarded by purchasing these overpriced volumes. That said, I do feel the writing in these volumes is fun and entertaining and action-packed and worthy of a read if not a buy.

Just be aware that the cliffhanger ending, appropriate for a $3 monthly serialized comic, is wholly inappropriate for an overpriced $25 collected edition ; that you should be able to enjoy on its own without waiting months for the next volume.

GRADE : B-. Until the ending I was enjoying both volumes, but without an ending the volumes are very much like a great parallel bar routine where the athlete fails to stick the landing. Pretty, but ultimately disappointing and forgettable.

And add that exorbitant price point of $25 for 5 issues of material (and yes I realize the trade can be had for a little bit cheaper, but that is still overpriced as well) and it becomes a case of look, do not buy.

Borrow or rent these puppies for a quick read, then move onto something else, that you would not have any problems paying retail for; something you would not mind proudly adding to your bookshelf such as BATWOMAN VOL 1 HYDROLOGY. A book that I have also recently read.

batwomanhydology

DC publishing (the other big comic book company besides Marvel) has their own problems, however producing satisfying collections is generally not one of them.

DC hardcover collections, offer an issue more and two dollars less retail, and offer a contained story, something that Marvel’s new publishing initiative MARVEL NOW may want to take note of.

Marvel writers generally are currently doing good work (far better than their esteemed competition that with few exceptions is self-destructing due to editorial hubris), so to have that sabotaged by ghetto collections… possibly not the route Marvel wants to go.

To try the books and decide for yourself or to hunt them down for less than retail use the below links and this blog earns a couple pennies. If I’ve helped turn you on to something you would have otherwise missed (BATWOMAN HYDROLOGY is a must have for any art lover’s collection. It is exquisite), then please use the links below. Thanks:

All-New X-Men, Vol. 2: Here to Stay

Uncanny X-Men, Vol. 1: Revolution

Batwoman Vol. 1: Hydrology (The New 52)

Batwoman: Elegy

TOP 15 Favorite Comic Book / Superhero Movies!! Updated 2012 list!!


So where does Joss Whedon’s AVENGERS rank on the list of best comic-based movies?

Pretty high actually.

Well here’s my biased list of my 15 favorite Comic based movies. The ones I find… re-watchable.(Only caveat being I tried to list only one film per series, the best film of the series, to leave room for others).And it’s pretty much in order of re-watchability. Which film can I view at anytime because it’s that… good and timeless?

Well it starts with SUPERMAN THE MOVIE, still not just one of the best comic book films, but one of the best… films. My top 5 are movies I can leave on repeat in my house and grow not sick of.

SUPERMAN THE MOVIE
AVENGERS
SPIDERMAN II
BLADE II
300

X2
CAPTAIN AMERICA
THOR
IRON MAN II
WATCHMEN

WANTED
CROW
HANCOCK (horrible title, horrible marketing, horrible poster, saved by a fantastic 2nd half)
DOLPH LUNDGREN PUNISHER (The best of the Punisher Films. Fun, ninja-decimating flick. :))
MATRIX (Has not dated well, but still strong enough to make the list)

And a few honorable mentions, BATMAN (1989), DARK KNIGHT, HISTORY OF VIOLENCE, DARK MAN, UNBREAKABLE. Feel free to suggest any you think I may have missed (me? never! I got all the good ones! :)) in the comments section.

Sponsored by Ebay Store: Deals of the Day!

Favorite AVENGERS Comic Book Covers! Pt 3 of 3: The Years 1977 to 1996

Working on the next MONARCHS OF MAYHEM in-between real life stuff, it’s going to come out tomorrow 14 Mar 2012, just because it’s going to take more hours to get ready. These posts take a LONG time, In the interim enjoy the following:

Podcast of the Day: John’s Old Time Radio Show #9! It’s a great podcast. After listening swing by John’s site leave him some good words and tell him where you heard about him. Thanks! -HT

And wrapping up my favorite AVENGERS covers from the original series, is pretty easy. Because after 1977, with very few exceptions the covers are just uninteresting at best and plain awful at worst. Much like the book itself, it was just stumbling from weakness to weakness.

Here then are the best covers in the last 20+ years of the books original run:

George Perez’s finest AVENGERS cover, and one of the most iconic covers of all time. Would make a great poster! This is the last GREAT A+ Cover of the AVENGERS!


Memorable.


Fun.

It says a lot that the numbers jump over a hundred issues, before I list another cover. And this is gimmicky mess, but it was better than all the previous 100 covers. It just clarifies how bad the book got.


A mercy post.


The last one I could find even something remotely interesting in.

So needless to say you want great AVENGERS covers (and comics) stick to issues #181 and before. At least for the first Volume.

In 1998 creators Kurt Busiek and George Perez would launch a new AVENGERS series that largely just pays homage to the great years of the series, You can look at them almost as a remake of the Jim Shooter and George Perez run, that I mentioned in the previous post. But it’s done well enough by Busiek and Perez to be entertaining in its own right.

And then later would come the Bendis’ years, But that is a story for another installment. 🙂

Revisit the earlier posts here:

PT 1 of 3
PT 2 of 3

Favorite AVENGERS Comic Book Covers! 2nd Decade Pt.A 1973-1977!

Per the previous post, in keeping with the upcoming AVENGERS movie, I’ve decided to cover my favorite AVENGERS comic book covers of all time. And this is part 2:

Okay I had intended to tackle all the great covers in the 2nd decade of AVENGERS comics, however that’s not going to happen, there are just too many great covers. So this post will cover the first five years of the 2nd decade of AVENGERS comics. The years from 1973 to 1977.

Enjoy!

AVENGERS 117- I believe this cover is by Sal Buscema. He was drawing the DEFENDERS and this issue is part of a great AVENGERS/DEFENDERS crossover.

AVENGERS 127- Another great Gil Kane cover.

AVENGERS 131- Fun LEGION OF THE LIVING Frankenstein monster cover is pretty fun. At a guess I’d say this is also a Gil Kane cover.

AVENGERS 134- Gil Kane up to bat again, with this cover featuring the always popular golden age Human Torch.

AVENGERS 136- The floating heads is always a nice touch. And even without Gil Kane signing his work, those elbows at jaunty fighting angles even in repose, screams Gil Kane. 🙂 (turns out the floating heads are done by a different artist, John Romita, and that’s what was making some of these covers hard to call as completely Gil Kane)

AVENGERS 139- Here’s another example, the main drawing with that exagerrated action (somebody gets hit and their knees fly into their chest, and elbows shoot out)is vintage, powerful Gil Kane. But those floating heads are by Spiderman artist John Romita. A favorite comic as a kid, so that may be swaying my appreciation for the cover, which is not Kane’s best. I’m going to have to start grading harder or I’m going to end up listing every cover Gil Kane does. 🙂

AVENGERS 141- There have been many face off covers, this is one of the standout ones. A nice Gil Kane cover, his typical hard angles, lessened a bit, being inked by Jazzy John Romita.

AVENGERS 142- I promise you I’m grading harder, but what can I tell you, 1975 and Gil Kane was just knocking these covers out of the park. Add cowboys to it, or people in normal clothes and Gil was in his element. Notice the difference between this cover and the previous. The inker here was more faithful to Gil Kane’s hard angles and musculature, which I think looks more striking. Great cover.

AVENGERS 145- What?! Do you see this cover? I’m trying to avoid anymore Gil kane covers but that’s like trying not to give the MVP to Michael Jordan when he’s playing. It can’t be done. Great Kane cover, inked by Dan Adkins. Wonderful use of word balloons and typography. Something you don’t see too much in modern comics.

AVENGERS 146- Tell me this cover doesn’t have ‘buy me’ all over it? It’s a great design. However you notice how it’s rounded a bit, inked by Al Milgrom, you lose some of the angularity and power that Kane’s pencils are full of. But even subdued Kane is great.

Don’t worry Gil stops doing covers with this issue, so we should be able to jump ahead a few years before we get any more covers this good right? WRRRRRROOOOONNNGGGGG!! Cause the artist they bring in to replace him on covers is…..

AVENGERS 147-148 Last time he made this list was all the way back in issue #20, Jack the King Kirby is back doing the covers! Definitely with 148! 147 however is attributed to Buckler and Adkins, but what I’m seeing in 147 is Kirby and Milgrom.

So I’m going with my gut and attribute the penciling on both of these to Jack the King Kirby. He’s not as sophisticated as Gil Kane or John Buscema, but there is just so much life and energy in these covers, so much going on, that they are just a joy to a young kid stumbling across these issues in the libraries back issue bins or on newsstands.

And the interiors were done by Steve Englehart and Jim Shooter on scripts and George Perez and John Byrne on pencils, from this point till issue 166, almost twenty issues, they are mostly home-runs. I guess the best way to put it in perspective is… all of the comics I’ve mentioned previously… I’ve sold. This run from 147 to 166, are not for sale. In the age of digital these are the comics that are worth having as paper. 🙂

I won’t list all those covers here are the standouts:

As mentioned 147-148 are great, we bypass 149-150 (these are credited to George Perez, possibly George Perez’s earliest work. Look nothing like his great work now, quite frankly they are not good) and from 151-158 we get great Jack Kirby Covers. The best being the following:

158 being Kirby’s last cover for the AVENGERS and he goes out with one of my favorites of his run!

159 So Kirby leaves or is let go, it’s unclear which, who the heck can they bring in till a new regular cover artist is chosen. Who else but the best? Gil Kane returns, and like he always does… he blows the doors off the place! Look at what he’s doing in this cover. It’s just a clinic on great art. Add to that the interior art by George Perez and story by Jim Shooter and you have… classic defined.

162-163 After a couple lackluster covers, George Perez steps in to knock it out of the park with great covers to match his great interior art.

164-166 There’s a lot of nonsense about great comics out there. Here’s the straight dope… this three part storyline, issues 164-166, is the best AVENGERS storyline. Full stop. With Jim Shooter as writer, George Perez on covers, and John Byrne on interior art, they together created the throwdown for the ages. People like to use the term wide-screen entertainment to define something blockbuster in scope, these three issues from the summer of 1977… were wide-screen entertainment before the term existed. If you own only three Avengers comics… make them these three. Highest recommendation. Now that said, while all three of the covers are at least good, only one is great. This one:

AVENGERS 164- And with that cover the legendary John Byrne created the last great AVENGERS cover of 1977!

Come back next time as we finish off the 2nd decade of AVENGERS comics. the years from 1977-1983, and we also tackle the third decade, the years from 1983 to 1993.

Ya’ll come back now ya here!

p.s. As far as purchasing issues, per my previous post (scroll down) Marvel has the first 30 issues available in their oversized hardcover format they call an omnibus. It’s a good deal. However they don’t have omnibuses out for issues 31-164, so getting these issues is a little more difficult. You would think with Marvel’s AVENGERS movie due out this year they would capitalize on interest and release Omnibuses for most of these early issues. But… Noooooo. So failing that look at the links in the first post and this:

Essential Avengers, Vol. 7 (Marvel Essentials)

Essential Avengers – Volume 8

The above two are black and white collections, which is just about sacrilege, the color being such a part of these issues, but if you can’t afford the original issues, and can’t wait for the expensive hardcovers or omnibuses… they are a cheap way to read a bunch of issues.

Hold the presses!!! Here are some better color options to read these issues:

Avengers: The Coming of the Beast – Avengers (1963) #137-140, #145-146

Avengers: The Serpent Crown – Collecting AVENGERS (1963) #141-144 and #147-149.

Avengers: The Private War of Dr. Doom- contains Avengers 150-156, Annual 6; Super -Villain Team – Up 9

If you do choose to buy, please support this blog by using the links provided. This blog generates a couple dimes from each sale, so you guys using the links is definitely appreciated and definitely necessary to keep the blog going. Thanks!

Favorite AVENGERS Comic Book Covers! The First 10 Years 1963-1973!

Well with the AVENGERS movie on the horizon, I thought a nice posting would be on (come’on you can guess) my favorite AVENGERS comic book covers. And plus it’s a nice look at how typography and art styles change over time.

What typically defines a great cover for me is, is it something I would pay to have as a poster. Surprisingly enough, most covers fail this criteria.

Take a gander at the ones that don’t 🙂 :

AVENGERS 20- While you can make an argument for a lot of the early issues because of nostalgia, this one I think stands out, primarily because of Jack Kirby’s great use of perspective to make for an exciting cover.

AVENGERS 44- This is the next standout issue, by big John Buscema.

AVENGERS 63- Excellent Gene Colan Cover!

Avengers 66- Beautiful John Buscema cover. Dig that crazy perspective. 🙂

AVENGERS 92- I used to own this issue. Early cover art by Neal Adams.

AVENGERS 96- Another great Neal Adams cover.

AVENGERS 99- Another great cover, mixing excellent typography with the artwork of Big John Buscema.

AVENGERS 107- Great Rich Buckler cover.

AVENGERS 110- And cometh Gil Kane. A series known for its great covers and artists, and here was Gil Kane blowing them all out of the water. Decades later and it still remains one of the great covers of all time.

AVENGERS 113- The art isn’t the greatest here, but the typography and storytelling of the scene makes this an attractive and attention getting cover by Rich Buckler and Joe Sinnott.

The Avengers Omnibus, Vol. 1- This collects the first thirty issues of the AVENGERS in a deluxe hardcover format. These tend to sell out quickly.

More omnibuses are not available as of yet, so if you want to get issues 31 to 113, outside of buying individual issues (prohibitively expensive for most of us) the two ways to get the issues are:

I. MASTERWORKS- Masterworks are highquality hardcover (and lately sc) books that collect on average 6 issues on quality, glossy paper. So can be a bit pricey trying to get a lot of issues in that format, so it’s best for just getting specific must have issues.

Such as these:

Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Volume 10 (Marvel Masterworks) Deluxe hardcover edition collecting The Avengers, nos. 89-100. These guys tend to sell out as well, and prices can go up when that happens

Marvel Masterworks: The Avengers Volume 11- This volume of the Avengers Masterworks reprints issue numbers 101-111, and Daredevil #99, from July 1972 to May 1973, Including issue#110 mentioned above

II. DIGITAL COMICS

40 years of the Avengers on DVD Rom- These tend to sell out quickly as well. So pick them up before they sell out and the price goes up

Well that’s all for this installment. Come back next time as we tackle the years from 1973 to 1983!

Odds and Ends and Insulting Ramblings

It will be four years before this day comes again. Odd how that fact does not fill me with confidence in the Julian Calendar system… among other things.

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Language interests me. Possibly because I’m so bad at picking up new languages. It interest me the things that are lost and changed in translation.

The Uncanny X-men in Spanish becomes La Impossible Patrulla X, which does not mean ‘The Uncanny X-Men’. It translates literally into The Impossible Patrol X. Patrulla meaning Patrol, a small detachment of soldiers to secure the safety or peace of a place.

So the X-MEN though translated, is changed in the translation, to PATROL X. A subtle change admitted, but change none the less.

******************

Closing out Black History month, I have to remark I really hate the term African American.

It’s right up there with morons using the term political correctness instead of the word respect.

Just use respect whenever you rant about political correctness, and you’ll realize what the eff you’re really complaining about. Racist bastards.

Now back to African American.

Nationalistic boundaries have no place in an ethnographic designation. It’s been removed from the unifying way it was first broached in the 60s, to a moronic misnomer. What is wrong with Black or Colored or Moor or Nubian or hell even Pan-African, all of which are inclusive terms that define your ethnicity regardless of whether you live in Canada or France or Brazil or China or Honduras or Haiti or Senegal.

How such a stupid term is not only in general parlance, but is on federal forms just goes to show you how poorly most people in America reason. And don’t even get me started on separating Black from Hispanic. What the eff are you talking about? How do you separate blood from blood? Keep your divide and conquer nonsense.

“Just like the Spanish, raping the Black and Indian women and creating Latinos!”— Immortal Technique

If you’re walking around and defining your ethnicity based on your nationality, which may work in homogeneous society but does not work in a heterogeneous society, then you sir and mam… are doing something moronic.

And you may want to stop and think, and scratch out that stupid line on federal forms that says African American, and write instead… “Eff You! I Wont Do What You Tell ME! ” (Yeah, that is from RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE).

Think… better.

It’s the only salvation you have.

.