Welcome to the weblog of the writers and artists of Ferret Press (a publisher of fine comix) and PANEL (a Columbus, Ohio comic creators collaborative.) Here you will find our musings on comics, art, the creative process, politics, the web, and life.
You've heard of Wonder Woman, Wonder Man, and several different Wonder Girls, but you've never heard of Wonder Boy. That's because he kind of sucks.
This story comes to us from "Jerry Iger's Famous Features," a collection of strips from the old Iger shop, reprinted in 1984. Toonopedia says he has some kind of super-strength, but he displays no powers here. This story doesn't reveal much about Wonder Boy, other than he hangs out with a scientist and his daughter and he has the worst costume this side of Looker.
Here he is using an attempted murder to take the scientist's daughter for a romantic boat ride:
In this scene, a hood throws a bomb, and Wonder Boy decides not to try to defuse it. Or rescue the target of the bomb. He just kind of saves his own skin.
Here he is defusing dynamite, but not bothering to chase the crook who threw it. It takes how long to defuse dynamite? Five seconds? This boy has a lot of quit in him.
And now we see him winning a fight by pretending to be defeated. Ri-i-ight. "Pretending."
That costume is killing me. Did he get it at Fashion Bug, or what?
I don’t know why, but I keep finding myself going back to the Odis Merritt blog every so often, trying to make some sort of sense out of it. For the life of me, I still can’t figure if it’s the world’s most underrated parody, the first ever blogging-via-online-translation, or some sort of way-over-my-head performance art. But I’m simply fascinated! And not just by the incomprihensible, broken English, but by the seemingly random, unrelated topics posted:
Odis Merritt on the geopolitical complexities of the Middle East:
"Persia, Zion, and a futurity battle - It is only a affair of clip before the tinderbox that is named the Mideast explodes, and when it makes hap. The existence will see a warfare unlike any other."
Odis Merritt on the benefits of health insurance and home equity loans:
" My Mum Wont to Say, 'Prevention Is Better Than Remedy ' - Because many Americans make n't hold wellness insurance, utilise equity loans in the event of an sickness or hurt is a great mode to avoid debt."
Odis Merritt on the post-9/11 existential angst:
"Belike the last clip was 9/11 but people justly spoke about braveness as something we hold and cowardice as something they holded."
And then there are the "related links" at the bottom of most posts. For example, the post about "Courageousness and Cowardliness" offers the related links "Zac Efron sexy pictures" and "College Park Georgia real estate".
Lovely, surreal stuff. This is why the Internets was invented!
Ok, I know posting anything from Rob Liefeld is like shooting fish in a barrel, but you knew at least one of these weekend crossover posts would have to involve him. Submitted for your disdain, Violator vs. Badrock:
Apparently featuring Purple Electric Tape Lady (TM), she of the world's smallest waist and hands and largest helium balloon boobs.
But you know the best part of this book? It was written by...wait for it...
Sure, any fan-voted top 10 or 50 or 70 list is going to be entirely subjective, but I can't stop shaking my head at the dungheap presented by Marvel's latest poll as the best of their best. My own list may be as relative as anyone else's, but I wanted to throw out for consideration a list of books that didn't appear anywhere on Marvel's ranking. According to the present-day fans to whom the company panders, none of the books pictured-- landmark issues or groundbreaking series' which were completely overlooked-- are as good as Ultimate Hulk vs. Wolverine, three issues of Civil War, two issues of Secret Invasion, or the January 2009 issue of Dark Avengers #1.
Marvel's Top 70 Comic Ever countdown has concluded; Amazing Fantasy #15 takes the top spot, no big surprise. A few other observations:
1)25 of the top 70 books were published in the last five years. We are truly living in my third golden age and I simply didn't realize it.
2) 11 of the top 70 books are written by Brian Bendis. Strangely, they all form a single story which would take a good writer four issues to tell.
3) I obviously didn't appreciate Civil War as much as I should have; 3 issues of that 8 issue series made the list. What was wrong with the other five?
4) # of comics published between 1967 and 1982 appearing on the list that do not have "X-" or "Spider-" in the title: 1. Incredible Hulk 181, first full appearance of... Wolverine.
5) The only comics from before 1990 that appear on the list are the obvious milestone issues; first issues or first appearances/deaths of characters-- with the exception of X-Men #27, pictured above. Maybe Roy Thomas stuffed the ballot box, I don't know; I'll have to consult my DVD-Roms to see what the big deal is here...
Hitting the shelves this week is the 3rd issue of my Terminator Salvation movie prequel series:
"In the African country of Niger, Bem's plan to take out the uranium mine depends on the outcome of his face-off against a lone T-600. In Detroit, Michigan, Resistance leader Elena Maric's forces launch their all-out assault on the Terminator factories. But Skynet is not without its resources, and even the mysterious package airdropped in the middle of the desert may not be enough to turn the tide of operation Sand in the Gears in favor of the humans."
Well, ok, we're a day late, so it's more like Character Thursday. So sue us.
Tony Goins, he of Leave Geo-Force Alone! fame, picked this week's character. Yes, it's Geo-Force. Surprise, surprise. Says Tony: "I decided to go a little Project Rooftop on him. For some reason, I've always thought his costume should be lederhosen-inspired."
Anybody try this out? The software is crazy affordable ($50-$300 for EX 3) and is designed purely for creating comics. Includes various greytones, and creates word balloons which is a selling point for me alone. I might like lettering on the computer more if I had an easier way than drawing all the word balloons out in Illustrator.
I love *Borders but the news has become progressively grim. The cd/dvd section contracting. Now rumors of nonpayment on orders. This saddens me. Granted I could never afford what they've always charged for dvd's and cd's. The day the store on Kenny & Henderson closes will really bum me out. Don't know what it is about Barnes & Noble but Borders always appeared to have more selection across the board. * Borders is one of the bigger buyers of graphic novels and manga. More so than Barnes & Noble from what folks have told me. Eeeep.
Referring back to Marvel's top 70 issues countdown, I was astonished at some of the selections that rank higher than #24, Fantastic Four #1 by Lee/Kirby. That was before discovering that this book is so good it appears twice on their top 70 countdown-- as #24 and #9. This book is so good it gets two mentions? That's right, I guess.
What doesn't make sense is any Liefeld book appearing, but this one in particular I have problems with. The "Heroes Reborn" Avengers reboot, quite possibly the worst comic in my personal experience, appears at #18. As I've said: Rob Liefeld is one of today's most influential artists, to my everlasting regret.
*well, someone corrected Marvel's website; The Lee/Kirby Avengers #1 has taken the #18 spot instead of the Liefeld issue; I wonder who got those two comics confused... Also, Hulk #1 has taken the #9 spot in place of the second appearance of FF #1, which means New Avengers #1 is still "more better" than the FF's first appearance. Strangely, as noted in the previous post, several numbers are skipped through the countdown for no apparent reason.
This is a series I missed when it was first published. Having almost entirely given up on new comics, I’m finding there are plenty of gems from yesteryear that I didn’t have the allowance for or that simply didn’t make it to the shelves of the Groveport Pharmacy. Cruising the “bronze age comics” category on eBay, I expect it will be many years before I run out of books to discover for the first time. In the case of Master of Kung Fu, this was a book which was over my head when I first encountered it, being one of a number of non-superhero books with an adult slant which Marvel was launching during their “Phase 2” period in order to expand their readership (the version I briefly saw was the Moench/Zeck model). I’ve recently discovered this little gem thanks to the guest appearance of another old favorite, Man-Thing, in this issue which is Shang-Chi’s fifth appearance in a comic book.
How can issue 19 of the series be the fifth appearance of the title character, you ask? The series was originally called Special Marvel Edition, and featured (if I am not misinformed) old superhero reprint material until Master of Kung Fu debuted in issue 15; the character was a hit, and the title became The Hands of Shang-Chi, Master of Kung Fu with issue number 17. Imagine that! No passing up a high-numbered issue because you didn’t “get in on the ground floor”; the biggest draw to an issue on the stands was the cover and the promise of story within! If you did get an issue #1, the story was still likely continued from the anthology title the character had previously appeared in (Iron Man, Sub-Mariner, Werewolf By Night, to name a few). The numbers were totally irrelevant except for organizing a stack of your favorite books. Must have been nice. My 11th issue of the Dave Gibbons Doctor Who reprint series became “Series 2, #1”, Dark Horse’s Conan series has inexplicably reverted to a first issue even though it originally promised a continuous narrative of the character’s life, Captain America has seen at least four 1st issues in the last decade… but good luck finding (silver age) Captain America #’s 1-99, Hulk 7-100, Thor 1-82... or Master of Kung Fu 1-14. The necessity of a completist mentality didn’t come into play at all, not fostered by the demands of the audience or the marketing strategy of the publishers. How strange. How, dare I say, accessible.
Back to MOKF: Allegedly Marvel had gained the rights to Fu Manchu and related characters at the same time as securing rights for a comic series based on David Carradine’s Kung Fu TV show. Someone had the notion to meld the two concepts together, giving us Shang-Chi, who discovers one day that the father he revered is actually the greatest force for evil on Earth, so he splits from the family temple to walk the Earth helping people-- like Julius from Pulp Fiction-- and battling against his father’s plots. This issue opens with a couple of Fu Manchu’s assassins chasing Shang Chi into the Florida everglades, where waits a shambling, barely sentient pile of mud and moss not quite known for his kung fu skills. Our hero is already tripping before he even sees Man-Thing, thanks to an assassin’s poison his body is fighting, so the encounter goes about as badly a conceivably possible.
Luckily, there happens to be a fellow Asian philosopher traveling through the swamp-- one who bears a striking resemblance to David Carradine. This stranger rescues Shang-Chi and even makes sure the Man-Thing is uninjured, before binding our protagonist’s wounds and helping him sort through the conflicting emotions he is dealing with since his peaceful philosophy has been thrown into doubt by the conflict with his father. We even get a TV show-style flashback to young Shang-Chi’s youth in the monastery, wherein we learn that artist Paul Gulacy might have encountered Steranko at some point early in his career.
(Gulacy is inked by Al Milgrom here; I was surprised to see both of these gentlemen’s careers stretch back to 1974.)
The assassins catch up to the pair, but Shang-Chi has not only rested, but also become more philosophically strengthened, which of course provides the edge here. Worse for the villains, the David Carradine look-alike points out that the bravado they display is founded in fear-- always a bad thing when the Man-Thing is lurking nearby. Martial arts once again prove useless against a walking compost heap, and we’re treated to a double page spread of burning bodies (I’d better not have to explain that).
Steve Englehart wrote this, as well as just about everything else for Marvel in the 70’s, reinforcing my belief that the guy could spin gold from straw until he went horribly astray a decade later (but for Dara’s sake, we won’t go into that…). He and Shang-Chi leave us with some final philosophizing regarding the use of violence for us to chew on after we have put the book down.
Ok, this weekend I'm going to do something a little different: a crossover that I actually enjoyed:
Wait, say what? Patrulla-X? Oh, right, this book:
This 4-issue limited series, courtesy of Roger Stern, Marc Silvestri, and Joe Rubinstein, had all the action, drama, and 4-color goodness a Young Dara was looking for. Here's a synopsis: "The Avengers try and avert disaster as a giant meteor crashes to Earth; Another meteor falls and Magneto realizes it is a remnant of Asteroid M so he leaves the X-Men behind to see if he can salvage any of his old stuff; The Avengers and Soviet Super-Soldiers figure it out as well and move to intercept him."
Although not a strict Silvestri fan, the comic itself left such a strong impression on Young Dara that we picked it as one of two book covers (the other being Art Adam's cover for X-Men: Heroes for Hope) to recreate as part of his sophomore year high school art class assignment. Behold the magnificence of a young artist at work, capturing every nuance of Silvestri's work, right down to the flat pancake faces on She-Hulk and Rogue:
Alas, Young Dara's artistic career was cut short by a tragic racquetball accident. But at least he still has his old sketchbooks...and his memories.
OK, so I saw the Watchmen movie over the weekend and I gotta say: It met my expectations.
I have two advantages going to see the Watchmen movie: 1. Low expectations and 2. I don't hold Watchmen in the same reverence that some folks do.
Watchmen, for me, has always been "easy to admire, hard to love." I don't believe literally everything Alan Moore writes is brilliant -- he was going to have Captain Marvel doing it with Mary Marvel, for crying out loud. The moment that really allowed me to unclench was when I realized that half the clunky dialog in the flick is straight out of the book.
So after that sacrilege, a few random thoughts:
1. I didn't miss the people at the newsstand as much as I thought I would. *
2. Flipping back through the book, I forgot how often Moore really does cut to Nixon. The additional Nixon scenes didn't bother me.
3. The book Dr. Manhattan is more emotive than the movie version. Advantage: movie.
4. I didn't miss the pirate bits, either. *
5. Ozymandius disappears for large portions of the movie, and his scenes are pretty truncated. Advantage: book.
6. Carla Gugino seemed to have walked in from another movie. But still -- Carla Gugino. Advantage: movie.
7. Movie Dr. Manhattan is a "show-er," not a "grow-er," and his digital schlong swung around a lot. Still, if I ever recreate my physical form through sheer force of will, I will make myself hung like a horse.
8. The non-squid ending makes slightly more sense to me. Advantage: movie.
9. A lot of the lines sounded funny when spoken aloud, especially those given to the Comedian. Advantage: book.
10. The book spends a lot more time making Nite Owl II look pathetic. Push.
11. The comedian's old-man makeup didn't hold up in those closeups. Advantage: book.
12. The ending of the movie kind of drags on a bit, but it does that in the book, too. Push.
* My personal opinion. I understand this is a dealbreaker for some people, and I respect that.
Craig's post below on the Top 70 Marvel Comics (and its accompanying discussion) raises some interesting points. What's a "best" comic?
As Matt points out, there are two ways to measure "best" -- what's most popular, and what most conforms to an abstract concept of quality. I think in comics this is conflated further with a third concept: "what would most appeal to new readers." These three concepts are related but separate.
Let me illustrate the point with an example from chapter-book publishing. Here is a "good" chapter book:
And here is a chapter book that "attracts new readers:"
I haven't read Twilight, so I can't say it's "bad." I doubt it's as "good" as Crime and Punishment, but my main point is that it has some extra quality that attracts new readers.
When we talk about comics, I think we tend to conflate our ideas of "good" with what would "attract new readers." This is a fallacy. I personally think deconstructive comics are terrible, but I can't be sure that they also turn off new readers. Kids are pretty into irony these days; so maybe they really want more superhero satire. What's bad for me may not be bad for the industry as a whole.
Craig's post shows that new people have entered the hobby in the last 5-10 years, and they've liked what they've found. Indeed, the hobby would be in bad shape if there were no popular comics from the last 5-10 years.
The X-factor, as Craig points out, is distribution. It could be that today's comics are designed to attract the kind of people who wouldn't mind going in to a comic shop, but would be forbidding to an outside audience. It may also be that today's comics are the best we can get, considering the distribution we have.
So setting aside the concepts of "good" and "bad" comics, how do we define a comic that would "attract new readers?" I think it would require some market research, if only a comparison to current popular cartoons and video games.
I'm not really coming to a conclusion here. I think that's a subject for another post. I'm still trying to define the questions.
As part of their 70th anniversary celebration, Marvel conducted a poll through their website to have fans vote on the 70 best Marvel comics ever published. The fans have spoken... and 50% of the books revealed thus far have been published within the last five years.
44 issues have been unveiled thus far, with 22 of them having been published since 2004. For some reason, the web page shows 25-70 but excludes #32 and #33, so there might be a couple more. Most of these seem to be written by Brian Bendis.
Now that Dara has named his recent MMGTA title (Punisher/Batman), I can post my favorite panels from that book. It wasn't a terribly great story, but it builds up to what I think is the coolest scene ever involving either character:
These panels say a bazillion things about both title characters. Too bad the rest of the book is kinda tepid.
New longish Dave McKean interview here. Heavy on the art which is always a good thing. I was happy to find out that Dark Horse is reprinting Pictures that Tick. I missed out on that in hardcover. 2009 is shaping up to be a good year with reprints. I'm also looking forward to the Torpedo collection (IDW) and the just announced Tardi stuff from Fantagraphics. Now if they would just reprint Corto Maltese and Moebius, I'd be one happy bastard.
So I was looking for reviews of my Terminator Salvation series (remember the book's title, it comes into play below), and came across what may very well be the most fantastic review of any of my works, ever. I'm not sure if this person's blog is:
a) filtered through a translation tool b) written in broken English on purpose c) truly a best attempt at writing in a foreign language (English) d) all of the above
Regardless, feast your eyes upon this:
"Exterminator # 2 Redemption ( IDW comics ) author: Dara Naraghi Art: Alan Robinson
This is simply program bad, rushed narration and hie art. Belike essay to wallop this together prior to the flick release ( Exterminator Redemption ) since the mirthful is a prequel to the flick. Relieve your money."
I now have two new favorite phrases: "Belike essay" and "Relieve your money"!
If you are a comics creator, then you are eligible to nominate the best comics published last year for the 2009 Harvey Awards. As such, please consider nominating my graphic novel LIFELIKE (published by IDW Publishing) in one or more of the following eligible categories:
Best Graphic Album of Previously Published Work
Best Single Issue or Story
You can download an electronic ballot here and e-mail in in by the deadline of MARCH 27. Thanks!
If you want to save time, simply skip to the 19:45 mark to see Spidey battle the armored lizard monster using his flying car that transforms into a giant fighting robot (the car is called "Marveller").
Wow. Thing is, the 90's clone story was still worse than this.
I think the first comic I bought might have been this one or maybe it was an All Star Squadron. It's hard to recall as my first exposure to comics wasn't this particular issue. It was my cousins feeding me their leftovers from their collections.
They had some impressive stuff Forget which one had quite a few early X-men and some Fantastic Four Kirby. I would get the scraps. Beat up books with no covers or ones barely hanging on. Earliest memory is drawing from a copy of Brave and the Bold? There was no cover. It was either Neal Adams or some copycat.
Batman was by far my favorite but I took what I could get. I loved comics but I hated chores more. All I wanted to do was stay up in my room and draw. That's it.
I’ve had this one on deck for a while; since I want to return to the bronze age for a couple posts before starting the anniversary month theme I’ve been planning (which Dara pointed out is fast approaching), and since it’s been a pretty busy day here on the web log anyway, I’ll go ahead and wrap up my 2nd Golden Age theme.
This one might surprise someone almost as much as the earlier Cable entry. Now I’m throwing a book by one of the founders of Image Comics onto my list. Check off another sign of the end times…
The Defenders (vol. 2) #1
This series came along in 2001, marking the closing days of my personal 2nd Golden Age. It was doomed to fail from the start; being published at a time when comic readers were starting to take things far too seriously, a comic book series whose characters were portrayed in a comedic tone wasn’t going to last long when the audience was being trimmed down to a core group unable to look at the material with a nod and a wink. This series lasted twelve issues before being morphed into a new series which was dark and moody, then withered and died completely. Too bad. I’d compare this effort to the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Justice League, which flourished a decade previous while everything went grim n’ gritty around it.
Hey, did Dr. Strange just say…? HELL YES!
Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen must have had a blast with this book. It’s filled with all sorts of affectionate references to classic Marvel material delivered in an atmosphere of pure fun. The single-minded simplicity of the Hulk is mined for comedy like he’s a giant, surly Leslie Nielsen, while the Sub-Mariner acts as his straight man and foil. Doctor Strange and the Silver Surfer trade off the superior-minded role of a Charles Winchester III, viewing their teammates with exasperated contempt. Imagine the overly serious, Alex Ross-loving comic fan of today picking up a book like this and reacting in horror when his spandex clad, magic ring-bearing crime fighters aren’t taken with stone-faced seriousness. This book was like an ice-cold enema to the people who were about to ruin comics for me.
I’m not a fan of Larsen’s art; his full-length vertical panels and bizarre one point perspective make my head hurt, and no matter how many layers of depth he tries to pile onto a composition, they still seem flat to me. That said, I can appreciate his cartoony approach and his frequent attempts to evoke The King, and I’ve inferred from the little of his work that I’ve seen that his long boxes and mine might have a lot of material in common. He’s also credited as co-writer for this series, so I imagine he’s got more going for him than I know.
The story: Patsy (Hellcat) Walker accidentally helps the original Defenders villain, a wizard named Yandroth, to capture the living personification of Gaea. He uses her power to summon a gazillion classic Marvel monsters to rampage all over the globe so he can destroy the world (Why? Who cares?). Hellcat escapes the wizard and calls former teammate Kyle (Nighthawk) Richmond for help. The Avengers and FF and everyone else are all busy fighting monster outbreaks in their own backyards, so Richmond turns to the mystic he keeps in his employ for help in assembling the original Defenders to combat the source of the threat.
The four core members are pissed off at being reunited, but manage to stomp Yandroth’s plans anyway. As the wizard lay dying, he sees the quartet squabbling; realizing how much they hate each other, he curses them with his dying breath so that in times of danger they will be drawn together against their will, forever inseparable. A simple setup for the 12 issues of splendor which followed.
What tone did this series take, and how was it taken by most readers? The blurb below from the banner of a later issue says it all:
I say again, too bad. My 2nd Golden Age came to a close when this series folded.
Unlike Andy, I can't claim a rich pedigree for my first purchase. It was an early issue of West Coast Avengers, probably this one:
Rode my bike down Kenney Road to a small mom-and-pop convenience store that's long, long gone. I have no idea what enticed me to pick up WCA off the spinner rack, instead of any of the other comics, but I did. And the rest is history!
I count myself lucky to have been introduced to comics with one by Mr. James Steranko. If only a reprint, my first purchase was a Lee/Steranko classic. MARVEL SUPER-ACTION #13 reprinted the now-legendary Captain America #111 with Cap, Bucky barnes, Viper, Hydra - the whole 9 yards. It features some of the most innovative storytelling work I've ever seen in a Marvel comic, EVER.
Having argued that my 2nd Golden Age isn’t about Roy Thomas’ “rule of 12”, I’ll now present a post about… the artist I’ve been following since the fourth grade.
This one was tough to choose, for a good reason: my favorite artist was in the midst of a creative peak during these few years I‘ve labeled my personal 2nd golden age. It may be painful to see John Byrne’s work turning up in wrestling magazines today, but during this stretch of years he proved he’s still got the same touch that made his time on the FF or Superman so enjoyable. He had a stellar run on his own X-Men book, Hidden Years (chronicling the time that passed in the Marvel universe while the X-Men series had gone into reprint in the early 1970’s), and produced a near-perfect comic with his Batman/Captain America crossover. But my favorite from this time, and among my favorite of all his works, was the mini series that spun out of that crossover: Superman/Batman: Generations.
The concept behind this “Elseworlds” series was that there was no “comic time”, and the characters age naturally from the days when they were first introduced in the late 1930‘s. Superman’s alien nature and super powers make him nigh-immortal, and a later chapter shows an aged Bruce Wayne taking a dip into the Lazarus Pit, so both characters have a presence throughout the series. With them, however, we get a decades-spanning family saga that reads like Giant with superpowers. Bruce Wayne passes the mantle of Batman to Dick Grayson, who takes on Bruce Wayne jr. as his Robin, who becomes Batman when Dick Grayson is killed by the Joker, and is engaged to Kara Kent, son of Clark and Lois and sister to the tragic Joel. Through the decades we see Lex Luthor lurking in the background, plotting against both families.
Byrne adds another temporal device to the series, altering his writing and drawing style to mimic the tone of the decades he represents in each chapter, moving in ten-year segments. The title characters are both brutal vigilantes in the 1939 chapter, but soften their rough ages over the decades before growing into forms more familiar to a modern reader. The most jarring (in a good way) example is the second book, whose first chapter is set in 1959 and uses a Jimmy Olson adventure to segue into a Bat-Mite/Mr. Mxyzptlk story, then moves on to 1969 filled with topical references to Viet Nam and the murder of Batman II.
The 1979/1989 issue is the one that is set during the time Byrne himself was a major player at Marvel and DC, so on some level it reads like a regular John Byrne comic. This is the issue where all the plot threads come together and it’s all kinds of awesome, so I’m focusing on this one anyway.
Superman/Batman: Generations #3
The wedding of the century is about to go on, but nobody knows about it since everyone involved has secret identities. Batman III and Supergirl (Bruce Wayne jr. and Kara Kent) are set to get hitched just as soon as they get back from fighting Brainiac in deep space. The father of the groom is missing the ceremony because, unbeknownst to everyone else, he’s been captured by Ra’s Al Ghul (another device used in the story is that characters are introduced during the time period they originally appeared in, so Bruce Wayne is already an old guy when he meets Ra’s), but reformed smoker Lois Lane has battled her cancer long and hard enough to have lived to be present at the ceremony. Unfortunately, there are a couple wedding crashers as well.
Earlier chapters showed Lois Lane being exposed to gold Kryptonite by Lex Luthor and the Joker, causing her unborn son to be stripped of any powers he may have inherited from his father. Later, their daughter Kara is born very much her father’s daughter, not as super-powered but with strengths characterized as “half of infinity is still infinity.” Their son Joel is kept in the dark about Dad’s night job and sis’ talents, but Luthor comes to him when the boy is ten years old and exposes the family secrets, having deduced Clark’s identity himself long ago. Joel becomes driven over the edge trying to compensate for his perceived weaknesses and the assumed betrayal of his family; he enlists during the Viet Nam war, leads his unit to slaughter a village of civilians, and is presumed dead when his men turn on him to stop his brutality.
So it is that the wedding is interrupted by a familiar green-and-purple armored figure who starts blowing everyone to kingdom come, exposing the true nature of the Kent family. With Clark incapacitated by a dose of Kryptonite radiation, Kara takes off after the figure as it flies away, only to discover it is her brother; rescued by a villager who took him in when he was left for dead, further brainwashed and newly empowered by Luthor, he has returned for revenge against his family. And gets it.
But there’s a catch: the serum Luthor provided Joel to give him powers kills him by the end of the day; add to that Luthor, disguised all along as the Kent’s doctor, snaps Lois’ neck as the helpless Clark watches, and Luthor has managed to kill Superman’s entire family in a single day… save for an infant presented to Clark and Bruce jr., Joel’s son born by the villager who rescued him; the child would be raised by Wayne and assume the role of Nightwing in twenty years’ time.
The next chapter skips ahead to 1989, where our heroes have become all grim n’ gritty. Batman III sports an armor that looks like something Image comics might have published, while Superman has been cornered into murdering Luthor, his crime telecast around the globe as it happened, thus making him a wanted fugitive. Batman breaks into the underground vault where President Hal Jordan keeps a sample of kryptonite stored in the event Kal-el ever goes rogue and races to confront him at the fortress of solitude, where after a struggle he discovers Luthor’s final revenge: having been exposed to gold kryptonite during the final meeting with Luthor (now revealed to be an even older villain called the Ultra-Humanite), Superman is now a powerless mortal. Supes agrees to stand trial for his crime, but his human condition and well-earned enmity of criminals worldwide makes putting him in with a general prison population impossible. He volunteers to accept an alternative punishment, and the issue closes with him consigned to the Phantom Zone for a ten-year sentence. The next issue’s concluding chapters pick up in 1999, followed by a flashback to 1929 where we see the two patriarchs meet as teenagers.
This series was followed by two equally excellent others: Generations 2, whose primary purpose is to flesh out the other characters populating this alternate universe, and Generations 3, which stretches the timeline far into the future in a war against Darkseid. All three are some of the best material Byrne has produced in his career
The first comic I bought was one of these two, but most likely the first one:
The Detective Comics issue, if I recall, I bought at a Lawson's convenience store either in Zanesville or Dresden. It's the fourth part of four, so I sent away to Mile High Comics for the rest of the saga. That makes it also the first back issue I acquired.
I bought this particular issue of Batman at Harts, which was a regional department store (kind of like a Hills or a Heck's). It was attached to a Big Bear, so I could go look at toys and comics while Mom got groceries. I've never heard of a Harts outside of Zanesville in the 1970s and 1980s.
It's part one of two, and in it he fights a new villain called the Crimesmith. The Crimesmith arranged crimes for other criminals, and made them spontaneously combust if they squealed. In a twist, the Crimesmith was a woman. It's nothing special, but it was enough to get me hooked.
Looking at the Batman gallery on the Grand Comics Database, I realize that I just barely missed a lot of legendary storylines: Death in the Family, 10 Nights of the Beast, Batman: Year One. I think I started reading comics about three years too late.
I think this might be the one for me. Although it could have been the next issue starring Arcade. I have since purchased this comic three or four other times.
I lived in Holland from the ages of 5 to 9 (78-82), and my parents would take us to the American Book Center on a regular basis. Usually we'd be able to pick out one or two comics. I was a Spidey guy (Amazing and sometimes the new book, Spectacular), my brother got the Hulk, and my dad read the Avengers. No X-Men in our house until my brother started reading it in the late 80s.
The distribution wasn't great overseas, so it was often hit or miss as to what we'd be able to get. I remember searching for Amazing Spider-Man #200 and having relatives in Ohio look for it for me. It wasn't until I was a teenager that I finally read that anniversary issue.
I was a few years away from being able to purchase them myself, but there were always several lying around the house thanks to an older brother. I think this is the earliest I recall; either that or a Herb Trimpe Hulk.
The Word on the Street blog takes a look at the classic (and not so classic) lineups of the Avengers team throughout the decades.
"Late 80s (Thor, The Captain, Mister Fantastic, Invisible Girl, Gilgamesh)
Oh my. An awkward time for the book: Stern had gone, replaced by Walt Simonson, who, while a fine, fine writer, was not a good fit for the Avengers. The idea of recruiting half of the Fantastic Four to the team just does not sit right, and whatever Simonson may have intended to do with Gilgamesh, we never got to find out..."
That was right around the time I stopped reading The Avengers as well. Coming off of Roger Stern's great run, it was hard to get interested in a team half made up of Fantastic Four characters (my least favorite Marvel team) and no-personality ones like Gilgamesh. What the heck was Simonson thinking?