Sunday, October 25, 2020

Fantastic Four #25 (#670) -- A Review

Hello, dear reader.  It sure has been awhile hasn't it?  (And it's felt even longer.)  Although, my musings and ruminations have been absent from this blog, my thoughts and intentions often come back to the possibility of writing something for this forum from time to time.  I've actually had several posts brewing in my head recently, but alas there's no guarantee I'll ever get to them.  You really have to strike while the iron is hot.  (Does that cliche refer to blacksmithing or pressing your clothes?) 

For example:

  • I started to write a post comparing the Casino Royale novel with the film.  I wrote one paragraph.  Instead, I ended up re-reading the Ian Fleming James Bond novels for the first time in 37 years (since I was 13) and managed to get through Thunderball (the 9th one of the original 14), before getting stalled on The Spy Who Loved Me.  I also read the British comic strip versions afterwards and re-watched the associated films.
  • I'd like to discuss how cover variants have taken over the new comic market, largely surpassing the content of the books themselves.
  • I finished watching the entire series of Dark Shadows (1225 episodes) in just under two years.  I then re-read the two comic series by Dynamite, which I wanted to write about.  One took place immediately after the show finished and the other was a slight reimagining of the classic 1795 storyline.  I love Dark Shadows so much that I immediately started re-watching it from episode one (usually watching at least one a day) and just finished episode 50 yesterday.
  • After I finished Dark Shadows, I decided to pick up my pencil and start drawing again (to fill the "extra" time in my schedule more productively).  I largely gave up drawing in high school and stopped taking classes after 7th grade.  So far progress has been very slow, but my Dick Blick order just arrived, so we'll see how it goes with better supplies.  Actually, that's another reason for writing this blog post (during a sleepless time), since I've been frustrated creatively in the art endeavor, why not supplement it with some writing?

Anyway, enough background, let's get to the issue at hand:

I'm still getting a quite a number of  hardcover or trade paperback collections of classic comic reading material, but I also come home with a large stack of new comics every Wednesday (from the excellent Cosmic Comix).  Too many, truth be told.  As alluded to above, some I get mainly for the covers.  And in a rather new development, if an issue just isn't interesting enough to me, I may not even finish reading it.  So, it's a pretty special issue or series that cuts through the "noise" and stands out as memorable or blog-worthy.

Fantastic Four #25 (#670 in the legacy numbering) is such an issue! 

Writer: Dan Slott

Artist/Color Artist: R.B. Silva & Jesus Aburtov
"There Shall Come A Reckoning" (31 pages): 

Artist/Color Artist: Paco Medina & Marcio Menyz
"Sight Unseen" (8 pages): 

Artist: Will Robson
"Fantastic Forum" (1 page): 

I was super excited when the Fantastic Four came back again a couple of years ago, but I've got to admit, I stopped reading it consistently not long after the wedding of Ben and Alicia (#5).  That didn't mean I stopped buying it though. I either got behind or was just not very interested in the storyline, but I checked in here and there.  But I definitely started reading again for the Empyre tie-in issues, which makes this the fifth consecutive issue in a row. 

I'm interested in going back and reading those issues I skipped, but let me be clear, this particular issue is a great "jumping-on" point for new readers.  Beyond a little background that I'll briefly provide below, you don't need to read anything before this issue (more after the break). 

Sunday, May 10, 2020

LAST DAY


Last Day

What if this was your last day?  How would you live it?

I’ve been thinking about this, because today, 2020 May 10, marks the 50th anniversary of my Daddy’s death.  So yesterday would’ve marked his last full day on earth, 1970 May 09.  He was 31, married, and had three children: a 6-year old boy, a 4.5-year old girl, and another son in the womb soon to be born (me).  I know some details about that last day, which I recounted in my poem from Mother’s Day 10 years ago: http://comicsand.blogspot.com/2010/05/day-to-remember.html. And I asked Mama to write up a character portrait of Daddy, which is just wonderful and will be shared sometime today, if it hasn’t already. But while, thinking about Daddy’s final day of life is the inspiration of this message, it not really about him as you’ll see.



Last Day

What if this was your last day?  Would you accept it?

Just thinking about those two words automatically invokes images from one of my favorite movies, Logan’s Run from 1976.  In that film, in order to keep the population under control living in the sealed domed city, the citizens voluntarily went to Carousel on their 30th birthday.  There they would don hockey/skull masks and white-body suits decorated with red flames, stand in a circle, and raise their blinking red life clocks (crystal palm flowers) to “Identify”.  Then they would float up into the chamber until they exploded in a fiery display while their fellow citizen onlookers shouted, “Renew, Renew!”  Why would anyone do this?  Well, they were taught to believe they would be reborn and just get to live another 30 years of fun and pleasure.  Those that didn’t believe the messaged lie realized that the people were actually going to their deaths.  So in order to live longer than 30, they attempted to flee the city seals, becoming Runners.  The City could not tolerate that sort of independent thinking, which would upset their control and delicate balance, so they enlisted Sandmen to terminate the runners. Logan was a Sandman, but later became a runner.  Anyway, it’s a great movie from story to music to costumes, but again not the real subject.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

10 YEARS AFTER

Well, this is a surprise. 

You may be thinking, "Yeah, you haven't done a blog post in over a year."  Or at least, that's what you were supposed to be thinking. Instead, you're probably saying, "Umm, you posted already today.  What gives?"  You see, the first post sort of just happened. 

Oh, I wrote it, and scheduled it for some distant day, but I totally forgot about it.  I was planning on writing this post for today, which marks the 10th anniversary of my debut appearance as a blogger on Comics And...Other Imaginary Tales. 

Even though the blog has sort of morphed into a private Facebook Group these days, it's still pretty important to me and I routinely go back to the well and resurrect links to old posts I remember writing.  It was a big part of my comic (book-centric) life for a number of years and I enjoyed the creative expression.  Although, I can't imagine how I ever had time to write every week for so long, was ready to take a break, was ready to try again, and now just glad it still exists out there like an old friend. 

Anyway, I loaded up the site this morning, ready to compose something new, and the Ant-Man Marvel Masterworks review was up...brand new today! Foiled by time-travel! Past-me is awfully tricksey.

With today celebrating such a momentous occasion, I wanted to ruminate on the current state of my comic-book reading, collecting, etc.  The hope is that by self-examining my own behaviors and habits, I may arrive at some new conclusions on what to continue doing and what to do next.  After all, I'll be hitting 50 this coming May and I want to be "redeeming the time" well.  While I'm not given to New Years Resolutions, I have been slowly retooling my pull list lately, moving toward some changes. [more after the break -- sorry no photos, but plenty of links]

Marvel Masterworks Ant-Man/Giant-Man Volume 3 -- A Review


As much as I love Marvel Omnibuses, I have to admit that Marvel Masterworks (MMW) is my preferred hardcover of choice these days (a change from 4 years ago), especially now that they're delving into Bronze-Age goodness, both familiar and unfamiliar.  I seem to be getting almost every new edition and when I do skip one, I end up regretting it when it goes out of print (OOP) [Like Luke Cage vol 1 - "sob"].  I also tend to be a completest, which means I'm loathe to begin collecting something that's already started.  Although, sometimes that is unavoidable.  A recent acquisition was MMW Ant-Man/Giant-Man Vol 3, which came out just about 2 months ago.  The fact that I finished it in just about a month (including a week away from it while on vacation) is a testimony to how much I enjoyed it.

It is thought that this is the last of the three volumes in the series.  The first two focused on Hank Pym's adventures from Tales to Astonish (ToA).  I wish I had these now (both are getting pricey) and the Essentials' (phonebook) versions I do have are almost unreadable with the blurry printing and lack of color.  The biggest draw for me was the short-lived Ant-Man solo series presented in Marvel Feature circa 1972-1973.   To my recollection, I had never heard of these stories before (much less read them), thinking that they were old ToA reprints similar to the Human Torch series of the early 70s.  And I was especially ecstatic to learn that the first few stories were drawn by the late, great Herb Trimpe! [more after the break]

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 (2019) -- A Review

Sometimes, you've just got to strike while the iron's hot.  I have several posts in the works from just the idea/desire to a stack of books (already assembled) to be used for reference, but I may never get around to them.  However, I did just read Uncanny X-Men Annual #1 (2019 version) and really enjoyed it.  So, while the enthusiasm is running high, I'll see if I can cobble this together in record time.

First, a confession.  Cyclops is my favorite member of the X-Men.  From the time I acquired those Claremont/Byrne-era back issues, Uncanny X-Men #109 thru 126 (minus #111), from a trade of some sorts [Is that where my Daredevil #3 and #4 went?] with a neighbor, I always liked him best.  Maybe it was because he grew up without a father or because he was having trouble getting the girl he was interested in reciprocate; and I could certainly relate to both.  Besides his costume and powers were cool too!

Although, he was also like the Charlie Brown of the mutant-set.  Dark Phoenix is your girlfriend?!  You finally are connected to the love of your life and you have to lose her right after! Then you find new love, but that's all destroyed when she turns out to be a clone-whatever.  And the dead girl didn't really die like you thought, so you end up ditching your clone-wife! I may not have all the details straight, but things only got worse from there.  He loses his leadership with the X-Men, establishes X-Factor, his son is kidnapped (I think), etc. etc.  And all those soap-operatic events happened in the glorious Copper Age.  Flash-forward to about 6 years ago or so, and he kills Professor X?!  Later he dies himself?!  Everyone hates his guts?!  He dies again! Is it any wonder that I've had trouble consistently reading X-Men since the big relaunch, way back in 1991?

But soon after in late 2012, there was some hope.  All-New X-Men #1 premiered and the original X-Men were brought back from the past to the present to fix all the royally screwed-up stuff going on or at least that was the premise.  I followed the series for a good bit, before dropping off again for some reason.  Hmm, character retcon, perhaps?  Well, recently Marvel decided to send those kids back in time where they belonged in the really entertaining 5-part limited series, Extermination.  Being able to come relatively cold to the current X-Men story line with their way-too-many side characters and totally dig the series was no small feat.  Isn't it ironic how they always talk about how there are so few mutants, but there are actually too many to keep track of and follow? 

The first issue really blew me away. BAM!  Cable is killed...by a younger version of himself.  He actually refers to it as "retiring".  Wow, and best of all was the ending -- Cyclops is BACK -- ALIVE -- and wearing the visor again in a beautiful silver finish.  I definitely had my local comic shop, the stellar Cosmic Comix,  put this Annual in my box since it was a direct continuation... (more after the break [SPOILERS]).


Friday, January 11, 2019

Dark Shadows Beginnings -- A Review



I'm way behind in my new comic reading.  And I'm making slow progress thru some of my more recent hard cover acquisitions.  The reason?  Too much TV (as always).  How can that be when all the CW comic-related shows (including the excellent Riverdale) are on winter hiatus and the Marvel Netflix shows are all but done (sob)?  Amazon Prime.  Or rather, the free streaming shows available on that service.  It all started around Halloween when looking for something spooky to watch, I viewed the Dan Curtis Production of Frankenstein (1973).  It reminded me of Dark Shadows.  I then caught the film-quality version of Dan Curtis' Bram Stoker's Dracula (also 1973) with Jack Palance, who if you believe the internet was the inspiration for Gene Colan's depiction of the character in the Marvel Comic.

After a few more Dan Curtis classics(?) such as a werewolf in LA and a zuni doll from Trilogy of Terror (filled with plenty of jump-scares), I decided to delve back into watching Dark Shadows.  I became a fan of the show over a quarter of a century ago around the time I got married.  It was on the Sci-Fi (now SyFy) Channel (back when it contained good material) where they aired at least two episodes back-to-back, I think around 10:00 am (after the Six Million Dollar Man or Incredible Hulk).  I had seen odd episodes here and there, but this was the first time I recall making a concerted effort to watch the series regularly.  I remember seeing much of the late 1860's story line, where Barnabas' consciousness enters his entombed body during that time and meets the "real" life Quentin (I think to deal with the music-appearing spook version from 1968 [then present day]).

I even got a few books on the series back then celebrating its 25th anniversary, so I read synopses of most of the episodes.  After all, how could anyone watch them all?  Back when MPI was issuing video tape versions, each one was about $30 each and contained a week's worth of shows, meaning only five 22 minute episodes.  That's quite an expense when you understand that there were 1225 episodes!  Enter Amazon Prime.  A search will show you that they have divided the series into 26 "collections" of around 40 episodes each.  As a daily [Gothic-horror] soap-opera (did I forget to mention that?) there were no yearly seasons as we understand them, which means they just broke them up into roughly even chunks that stop whenever, not necessarily at the end of a major story arc.

Picking up roughly where I had left off in the mid-1990's (and possibly later as my older kids remember watching some of the show with me at times - maybe from the library?), I began watching Collection 17, episode 27 (#884 or sequentially #873), which originally aired on 1969 November 13.  This means I was viewing it almost exactly 49 years later!  (The episode numbers don't always add up due to interruptions and them always wanting the Friday episode with the bigger cliff-hanger to be a multiple of 5.)  It was a show that I could watch by myself, when others are watching This is Us or Call the Midwife.  But a funny thing happened.  My 10-year old son, "Manny" (Matthew Jr.) started watching it with me.  He enjoyed it enough that he got upset if I watched it without him (shades of Netflix show viewing with my beloved wife)!  So, I waited, and waited.  Our progress became too slow for my purposes.  I kept watching with him  -- we're currently thru Collection 20, episode 15 (#996 or sequentially #981), which originally aired on 1970 April 20 (nearly a month before my birth!).  We've seen the entire Leviathan story-line and have entered into 1970 Parallel Time.

I didn't like having nothing to watch when he wasn't available (or willing), so I went back to the beginning.  Specifically as it is listed on Amazon -- Dark Shadows Beginnings.  It's a six-part collection that includes the first 206 episodes (thru #209), spanning from 1966 June 27 to 1967 April 14.  All of these precede the first appearance of Barnabas Collins (at least in person).  You may question the need to view the episodes before things "got interesting".  Well, I'm here to tell you (after an extremely long-preamble/warm-up exercise), that there are plenty worth watching.  It's OUTSTANDING!!!

But where to begin...How 'bout the way each episode does:

"My name is Victoria Winters..." 
[more after the break]

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The Reason



December 25, 2018

Yes, I grew this beard for a reason.
You ask, “In honor of the season?”

Ho. Ho. Ho.
Not So!

(Though my belly has begun to shake,
I’m afraid that’s from too much cake.)

It’s my brother’s fault you see…
He was only honest with me.

Now, instead of having the clean shaven chin
Of Burke Devlin or Popeye the Sailor

My skin is more akin
To the incarcerated face of George Taylor!

Remember him?  The famous film-guy,
Who confronted with destroyed Liberty
Knelt in the sand, wet from foaming seas,
And CURSED the human race!

“GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!”

Strange Contrast

Remember Him?  The sinless God-Man,
Who surrendered His will to gain our freedom
Knelt in a garden, sweat as bloody drops,
And BLESSED us by choosing to take our place!

And he said, “Father, if you are willing, let this cup pass from me; however not my will, but yours be done.”

(Yeah, that’s all true
And Jesus can certainly SAVE you)

But if you’ve got to know why,
On the day we sing of the babe that slept with cows.

I’ve just got to say,
I was only covering up my jowls!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!