On the heels of the United States elections, not to mention the November 11th commemoration of Veteran's Day, I thought it would be fitting to run a patriotic Cover to Cover column I originally wrote this past summer for Independence Day. Enjoy....and God Bless our veterans!
Ever since the birth of the United States in 1776, its people have devised countless ways to express their patriotism. Some of these expressions are noble and dignified…
…while others…not so much.
Similarly, comic book covers have a long history of patriotic sentiment, with many of them easily qualifying as “noble and dignified”...
…while other covers…..well, let’s just say they fall into an entirelydifferent category.
As great as the more noble covers are, I wanted to dig a little deeper to find patriotic covers that stray off the beaten path. In other words, covers that better represented the endearingly surreal world of superhero comics.
The Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern continue the grand tradition of whimsical Golden Age covers by joining forces against a hapless turkey. Judging from the turkey's determined look, he's not going down without a fight.
Comics Calvacade #18 (1947)
Despite the turkey's fighting spirit, the trio accomplished their grim task, as you can see from the Justice Society of America meeting later that day.
A slightly "enhanced" All Star Comics #3 (1940)
Have a Happy Thanksgiving...and "thanks" for stopping by!
While jotting a few things down for a Christmas wish list, it occured to me that we comic book/sci-fi/fantasy geek types are a difficult lot to shop for. Who among us hasn't gotten the bewildered look, the Mr. Spock eyebrow-raise, or the exasperated "Where the heck am I going to find THAT?" question from confused friends and family?
Yes, we are particular. Yes, we like maddeningly obscure stuff. In short, Christmas shopping for us is a major world-class drag. I admit it. It's in this spirit of clarity and contrition that I offer this cartoon:
UPDATE: Want this cartoon on a shirt or some other cool stuff? Click here to visit my Geek Christmas Cafepress store. There's not too many days left for you to get your gifts by Christmas time, so check it out today!
The power of American pop culture has worked its delightfully skewed magic upon a whole host of traditions and institutions. Transforming the transcendent to tacky and the solemn to silly, holidays like Christmas have become the venue of Norelco-driving Santas, caroling Star Wars characters and prancing Victoria’s Secret models. It’s within this surreal alternate universe that even comic book superheroes gather to celebrate Christmas (or its generic equivalent “the holidays”) in their own inimitable style.
One of the earliest examples appeared on Comic Cavalcade #9 (1944), where Flash, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern are either leaving presents for a deserving child….or stealing them!
“When, what to my wondering eyes should appear, But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer, With a little old driver, so lively and quick, I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.”
–The Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore
Conspicuously missing from last week’s survey of Christmas covers was Santa Claus, the beloved harbinger of Christmas whose mythic stature easily outranks the relative “rookie” folklore status of the superhero. Yet, despite Santa’s towering legend, his appearances with superheroes have always felt natural, as if he lived only a few blocks away in the public’s collective imagination.
This is especially true of his appearances in simpler, less cynical times…such as the cover of Comic Cavalcade #5 (1943), where a Jabba The Hutt-sized Santa laughs it up with Green Lantern, the Flash and Wonder Woman (the permanent stars of the title). Though they couldn’t come from more disparate backgrounds, Santa and the colorfully costumed threesome just seem right together, don’t they?
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.
The Happiness and Heartaches of Superhero Romance!
When it comes to matters of love and romance, only the Immortal Bard can say it best. No, not William Shakespeare, but the late, great Barry White.
Take it away, Barry:
(click "play" to hear Barry's dulcet tones)
Now that the deep-voiced crooner has set the proper mood, it’s time to pour some wine, pull up a bearskin rug and swoon over some superhero romance covers.
Although comic book covers are normally the place for heated battles, villainous schemes or zany transformations, they’ve also been known to feature the occasional romantic interlude…as Cupid’s arrows compel busy crime fighters to take a break and experience the finer things in life.
Uh…thanks again, Barry….but I can take it from here.
Our first love connection harkens back to the melodramatic romance comics of decades past. Captain America #44 (2001) finds the two lovebirds secretly fretting over their relationship. Cap/Steve wonders if the lovely Connie Ferrari will accept him for who he is, while Connie can't decide which identity she's really in love with. And why Cap is only wearing half a mask.