In Marvel's phenomenally successful (and constantly tardy) Civil War mega-event, Iron Man is the defacto leader of the sinister forces supporting a government registration of superhumans (seen here palling around with the evil Baron Zemo). Despite Marvel's initial claims of a balanced presentation of the two sides, Iron Man is clearly being set up for a switch to the Dark Side as Civil War lurches into its final act.
However, is Iron Man's villainous turn a wildly uncharacteristic demolition of an otherwise sterling hero...or actually the fruition of seeds of evil planted years ago by creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby?
Well, I initially thought it was the first option, assuming that Iron Man was being thrown under the bus to play the part of "Scary Right-Wing Caricature" in writer Mark Millar's pseudo-political puppet show. Now, after coming across these shocking panels from Avengers #7 (1964), I realize that Tony Stark (in addition to being an icky millionaire) is a cigarette smoker!
Don't believe me? Check out the panels in question,
both completely original and unaltered:
Yup. There he is. Tony Stark......supporter of Big Tobacco, casual generator of second-hand smoke, and completely oblivious to the staggering irony of smoking while he "recharges his life-giving chest device"!
Now that I know this shocking secret from Marvel's Silver Age past, it's no wonder Tony Stark became the goose-stepping government stooge he is today!
Courtesy of the awesome Frederator site, someone spotted a pretty amazing cameo on an old episode of Naked City. No, it's not what you're thinking (perverts). Naked City was a popular police drama of the late 50's and early 60's (sort of the Hill Street Blues of its day).
Anyway, so the guy's watching the episode and something on a newsstand in the background jumps out at him. Check out the screen-grab:
(click on the image for a larger view):
That's not only a Spider-Man comic book displayed behind the actors, but the very first appearance of Spider-Man in Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962), hanging there as casually as any other comic book on the stand.
Here's another shot of it nestled behind the reliably sweaty and overwrought Burgess Meredith:
But wait....there's more!. Take another look at the shot of the two actors, then look just to the right of Amazing Fantasy #15. Sharp-eyed fans of Silver Age Marvel Comics will recognize the cover to Journey Into Mystery #83, featuring the first appearance of The Mighty Thor!
I'm sure none of the cast and crew of Naked City would have ever guessed a 24¢ purchase of both titles would net them well over $100,000 in today's collector's market. Maybe that's why Burgess Meredith was sweating so profusely. He somehow knew he was in the presence of comic book history!
As late comic books have become more and more prevalent, comic book professionals seem to have become all the more apathetic toward the depressing trend. Rationalizations like "quality products take time to produce" or that comics "are not gum" are routintely offered up to deflect the growing irritation of retailers and fans alike.
In short, they just don't seem to get it.
However, while looking through the vault of my classic Comic Coverage Institute instructional films, I came across an old favorite that may be able to educate some of today's resposibility-challenged comics pros.
So...dim the lights, pop on that old reel-to-reel movie projector, sit back, and learn.
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, the Vermont Teddy Bear Company seems to be pulling out all the stops to be "the Creative Alternative to Flowers". Customers can choose from a dizzying array of custom-made teddy bears, each with their own theme and meticulously detailed costume.
However, after visiting their site earlier today (for...uh....research, of course), I noted the Vermont Teddy Bear Company seems to have overlooked a potentially huge niche market. That niche market is, of course, comic book fans!
Enough with the Cupid Bears and Pirate Bears!
Instead, wish your Geeky Significant Other a Happy Valentine's Day with
What says "I Love You" more than a cute-n-cuddly Devourer of Worlds?
Part of the appeal of Spider-Man has always been his status as an "everyman" character, a lovable loser we can all identify with at times. Unlike the superheroes who preceded him, he didn't have to pretend to be a nerd.....he was a nerd! As such, Peter Parker's awkward social skills got him into a number of embarrassing situations early in his career, but few were as embarrassing as his ham-handed approach to impressing the ladies.
So, if you're still searching for that Special Someone to spend Valentine's Day with, be sure to completely ignore the advice of:
As part of the special "Tribute to Teen-Agers" issue of The Amazing Spider-Man #8 (1964), Spider-Man and his rival The Human Torch (a.k.a. Johnny Storm) are busy making the local New York "teen scene" (click on the cover for a larger view). It should be noted that this particular story featured a rare collaboration of Marvel "Founding Fathers" Jack Kirby (pencils) and Steve Ditko (inks), bringing an interesting "blended authenticity" to the artwork that neither man would have been able to bring on his own (since Ditko's Fantastic Four and Kirby's solo Spider-Man interpretation had much to be desired).
But I digress.
As the story opens, we see Johnny Storm pulling up and turning heads in his fancy 1964 Corvette Sting Ray, as a nearby Spider-Man marinades in jealousy. As Johnny steps inside to impress the girls with some flame tricks and bathe them in infra-red energy (woah!), Spider-Man decides to join in the fun by weaving a "little" web-bat with his webbing.
I know it, you know it...we all know it. This can't end well.
(click on the panels for a larger view)
As anyone with even a molecule of social aptitude could have predicted, the grotesque web bat didn't go over especially well with the teeny bopper crowd.
Naturally, the hot-headed Human Torch was busting for a fight with Spider-Man, so he chased him to a nearby beach for a duel of flame and web-based tricks. A few pages later, the rest of the Fantastic Four suddenly appeared to convince the tempestuous teenagers to call a truce...which only seemed to make Spider-Man even more ornery.
What's this? Sue Storm making an undeniable pass at Spider-Man? Yes, Sue and Reed Richards were not yet married at this point, but still...Sue's very forward behavior introduced some unexpected controversy (not to mention hotness) to the Silver Age of Marvel Comics.
Sue's slinky moves obviously had a calming effect on Spider-Man, as webhead made a hasty exit...but not before insulting three quarters of the world famous quartet.
However, for the fair Sue Storm, Spider-Man left the ultimate awkward expression of geek-superhero affection: a sticky web valentine in the sand!
Happily, Peter Parker went on to develop a set of reasonably competent social skills, ultimately marrying super-model Mary Jane Watson. Not too bad for a guy who used to think bats and hearts made of webbing were a one-way ticket to Girlsville.
As both DC and Marvel Comics transition from one cosmos-shaking Mega-Event to another, it's important for comics fans everywhere to watch for the warning signs of Mega-Event Derangement Syndrome (or MEDS for short). MEDS symptoms include intense confusion, chronic hyperbole fatigue and a rapidly deflating wallet!
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, put the comic book down and call your doctor!
Remember...the staff here at Comic Coverage cares about you!
"I am the Watcher. For countless millennia, I have observed the birth of worlds, the rise of civilizations and the deaths of galaxies. I see all that is and all that is to come. I can also peer into alternate realities to glimpse what might have been or could possibly be. Worlds where familiar events often have very different outcomes!"
"Take, for example, that fateful moment when a single bat inspired a fully-trained yet unfocused Bruce Wayne to fight crime as The Batman."
"This is the reality that you know, but how might comic book history have changed if the invading bat had triggered a somewhat different reaction?"
One of the most popular segments on the Late Night with Conan O'Brien show is "If They Mated", which imagines what the freakish offspring of tabloid celebrities might look like.
Well, in that same spirit, what would result from the pairing of Santa Claus with a gaudily-dressed Las Vegas Showgirl?
The answer, of course, is
That's right....ODIN! Omnipotent Ruler of Asgard, father of THOR, and owner of the most awe-inspiring collection of extravagant headgear in all the Cosmos!
For his earliest appearances in Journey Into Mystery (Thor's original venue), Odin sported the standard stubby-horned helmet and modest cape one might imagine an ancient Norseman wearing, but once Imagineer Extraordinaire Jack Kirby returned to pencil Thor, the All-Father's wardrobe took a dramatic turn toward the fabulous!
Yes, despite Odin's imposing presense, stoic gravitas, and battle-tested power...the guy knew how to wear an outfit.
Come with me now, and behold the majesty of the Ragnar-Rokkin' Runway!
As most of my gainfully-employed fellow Americans already know, tomorrow (April 17th) is the deadline to file our income taxes with the hated Internal Revenue Service.
Those of us who aren't frantically trying to complete the byzantine paperwork (having filed weeks or even months ago) still have to endure the insipid coverage of TV news stations interviewing sheepish procrastinators at local post offices. In short, it's just not a fun day for anyone.
Take heart, fellow citizens. You're not the only ones who've been bullied and hassled by your bloated, tax-happy government. When it comes to shaking down productive citizens, the IRS is willing to go after just about anyone...even a certain Man of Steel!
Yes, in anticipation of a dreary Tax Day, let's revisit Superman #148 (1961) for the staggering injustice of