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Old Comics Thread


#342

Finally dug up my old Unlimted X-Men #1 from '93 or so…

Cyclops, Professor X, and Storm are all flying over the Antarctic when Siena Blaze (!) uses her mutant power on the ground for the 3rd time ever in her life, causing the Blackbird to crash.

What follows is a survival tale with the 3 X-Men battling the elements to stay alive, and they are all handicapped in some way or another. Prof X loses his wheelchair, Scott loses his ruby quartz visor, and Ororo is found to have a profound connection with the torn Earth (result of Siena Blazes power).

I rememeber reading this as a kid and thinking Cyclops and Storm hooked up in this scene:

Also, gotta love the casual sexism of Kazaar…


#343

I loved that book. Old school Chris Bachalo rocks!


#344

One more…
I found my very first comic: Wolverine #55


Wolvie and Gambit go to Japan to bail Jubilee out of jail. Once there, trouble finds them.

3 things of note: This is the PERFECT length for his claws:

This joke:

And Sunfire’s badass 90’s costume:


#345

The nostalgia tingles I get just from seeing that Marvel logo in the top left.

Amazing.

Of late I’ve been working through Starlin’s Infinity Gauntlet/War/Crusade - halfway through War at the moment. Not read any of them in full before. Gauntlet was… okay. War is pretty dull so far.

More than anything I’m just huffing the nostalgia fumes - that X-team, those Avengers, etc.


#346

I thought Gauntlet was ok, but not as great as the long build-up to it. After that, the returns just kept on diminishing. Though it was cool at the time seeing those characters (Warlock, Thanos, etc.) brought back after all the intervening years, with hindsight I think they really didn’t need to be.


#347

After all the talk of Todd McFarlane lately, and the recent casting news on the Venom movie, I went back to reread this issue for the umpteenth time a couple of nights ago.

Amazing Spider-Man #300

It still holds up, and it remains probably the high point of the entire David Michelinie/Todd McFarlane run on Amazing Spider-Man, for me.

It’s a double-sized issue that packs in a hugely satisfying complete story that not only introduces Venom and gives him an origin, but also recaps the history of the alien costume all the way back to Secret Wars, and gives us quite a bit in the way of action, with a standout centrepiece fight between Spidey and Venom, before winding things up pretty comprehensively.

At the same time, it touches on pretty much every key aspect of Peter’s life: it presents a fairly major shift in the status quo of the Pete/MJ marriage (with them moving in together to a swanky new apartment, and feeling like a proper adult couple for maybe the first time ever), and we get a nice appearance from Aunt May (showing how important that relationship and bond is for the series), as well as cameos from Harry Osborn, Flash Thompson and Robbie Robertson.

Not bad for a single issue!

(There’s no JJJ though, sadly - maybe the only really disappointing omission.)

From the opening splash page (which picks up from last issue’s cliffhanger of Brock turning up unexpectedly to threaten MJ when Peter is absent), there’s a strong sense of the horror vibe that Michelinie and McFarlane are going for with the character and concept of Venom.

I’ve heard lots of different interpretations of this panel - with people reading in various levels of violence and harassment into Venom’s visit, which occurs off-panel between issues - but whichever way you look at it, it’s clear that MJ is incredibly disturbed by the encounter.

From there, things build nicely, with Michelinie making the most of the expanded page count (I think it’s around 48 pages or so) to calm things down (with Pete reassuring MJ) before gradually working back up to the reveal of Venom, and the conflict with Spidey. There are lots of teases (following on from the glimpses we got in #299 and #298) before we get to see him in full - but in the meantime, there are plenty of cool shots of Spidey to keep us visually interested. After a couple of issues in which McFarlane was a bit more restrained, #300 feels like the first time he really feels comfortable with his style on the character.

There’s also a nice little scene between MJ and Peter before we really get into the action of the issue, which not only shows how the Spider-marriage can be written well, but also gives McFarlane the chance to indulge in a little cheesecake with his glamorous take on Mary Jane (who is living the life of a supermodel at this point in Spidey history).

After a fair amount of build-up, we get to the meat of the issue: the conflict with Venom. The backstory of Secret Wars is recapped quickly and efficiently…

…before Spidey goes to track down the alien costume’s new owner, and immediately gets drawn into a fight with Venom.

Then, in a monologuing scene worthy of The Incredibles, Eddie Brock lays out his life story to Spidey while the hero is incapacitated on the floor.

While it could be a bit of a clunky expository sequence, it’s greatly improved by McFarlane’s art, especially when it comes to depicting the symbiote itself: the “I was joined” panel still stands as a great example (to my mind) of showing how an artist can enhance a simple moment with a bold graphic approach. I love the way the solid black area at the top of the panel reaches down and envelops Brock in such a claustrophobic way.

(Throughout the issue, in fact, there are all sorts of cool little sequences that help to bring the alien nature of the costume to life in a creepy and unexpected way, often with smart use of light and shadow.)

I have to say, I love the more restrained version of Venom that we see here much more than the exaggerated creature he later turned into. It’s much creepier to have the character be a slightly more muscular version of black-costume Spidey with a thin white grin, than it is to make him the Hulk-like beast with a jaw as long as his arm, as he became over the course of subsequent appearances.

Anyway, back to the story - there’s also a decent amount of tension created throughout this info-dump sequence of Venom-origin pages, as Michelinie uses the device of including a single panel at the bottom of each page that shows Spidey’s hand inching closer and closer to the sonic gun that he knows could be the key to harming the symbiote and escaping from Venom. It’s a fairly simple device but it works well - especially when that hope is pulled out from under him at the last minute, and Venom grabs him and knocks him out before he gets the chance.

When he wakes up, he’s webbed to a bell in a church tower (the kind of location that McFarlane would become so fond of later in Spawn), in a classic cliffhanger-style how-is-Spidey-going-to-get-out-of-this-one? moment.

Of course, Spider-Man escapes, and in a perfectly Spider-Man way: by combining an understanding of science (the retracting mechanism of the clapper) with a moment in which he has to draw on all his reserves of energy and willpower to break through Venom’s webbing (OK, it’s not quite the ‘lifting’ sequence from ASM #33, but it’s in that vein), and then use his knowledge of his enemy to finish him off (by using the sound of the bell to disturb the symbiote, and then forcing Venom to run down his depleted reserves of organic webbing until the alien is exhausted).

It’s satisfying, and crucially, makes logical sense given what we know about Venom, giving Peter a win without destroying the idea of Venom as an incredibly powerful and dangerous threat that has been built up over the course of the issue.

Finally, we see Venom packed off to a holding cell (via a neat cameo from The Thing, who uses the FF’s tech to keep the villain subdued - hmmm, I wonder if he’ll be back?), and Peter return home to his wife. Of course, MJ is still so disturbed by the experience of being intimidated by Venom that she asks Pete to make one very significant change to his costumed career - leading to one of the most triumphant last pages in Spider-Man history.

The red-and-blues are back!

Just great.


#348

I’m a bit of a fan of alternate history/elseworlds style stories but surprisingly have never read any of Marvel’s What If? tales.

Are there any particularly good or entertaining issues/runs that I should check out?


#349

In the middle of collecting all of the Giffen-written Ambush Bug issues in existence.
Almost all of these are obviously before my time, but the floppies for the initial Action Comics appearances are interesting in terms of supplemental content.


#350

This one with Rob Liefeld on art.


#351

I loved the early 90s run, the ones which stick in my head are What if The Silver Surfer Never Left Earth? What if the Marvel Heroes lost Atlantis Attacks? and What if the X-Men never left Asgard?


#352

I tend to like the ones that are by the same creative teams as the original stories.

This one is pretty good:

As is this:

I liked this similarly themed issue:

This one was pretty good too (Daredevil seems to have a running theme):

This one was a pretty big deal too:

And this more recent issue features a fantastic Watchmen homage with Dr Doom in the Manhattan role:


#353

Marvel Preview #23: Bizarre Adventures 2

Look at that lineup of talent! Some great names in this 1980 issue, which I bought mainly for the early Frank Miller story, ‘Final Warning’ (written by Lynn Graeme).

It’s a nice little dystopian-future short story (just six pages long) that was most notable for me because it foreshadows the kind of techniques that Miller would later use on some of his most famous projects. Look at this opening page and tell me it doesn’t evoke the layouts that we’d see from him a few years later in Dark Knight Returns:

Or the cinematic ‘zoom’ techniques that he’d use in that book (and others) to great effect:

(Something about that sequence of panels really evokes the death of the Waynes in DKR for me.)

Elsewhere, we get Sin City-esque shots that see Miller lean towards the high-contrast style that would define that series:

And the deployment of the kind of big, bold sound-effects that he would incorporate regularly into his work.

The story is a worthwhile read in its own right - very much a classic twist-ending thriller of a short-story that creates an effective sense of tension and paranoia, mainly through the claustrophobic shot choices and crammed layouts that Miller uses to tell it (which work a little better in the large-size magazine format of Marvel Preview than they might at standard comics size). But with these little hints towards subsequent Miller works it acts as an interesting prototype for later techniques too.

Elsewhere in the issue, there’s quite a bit to enjoy, including a decent Shandra story by Graeme with lovely John Buscema pencils.

There’s also a nice little yarn by Denny O’Neil and Gene Colan, “Annie Mae: A Love Story”, an unusual oddity that includes a fumetti framing sequence about a squabbling couple checking into a hotel (starring none other than Mark Gruenwald!), which sets up the conceit of the boyfriend telling his partner a time-spanning story about a mysterious beauty who appears to men throughout history. It’s a fairly thin concept that seems to exist mainly to give Colan the excuse to draw beautiful women - which isn’t necessarily a bad thing:

Overall, it’s made me wish Marvel still did something like this today to give its creators the chance to experiment a bit and tell stories that might not be suitable for their regular line of comics. I wonder if the interest would be there.


#354

It was one of the things that I liked about the Solo book that DC did as an artist showcase. There were usually some Superhero stories, but there was always the opportunity to stretch the medium a bit and be a bit more experimental.


#355

My LCS has a couple shortboxes of these magazine size type books. I’ve seen a couple of the Marvel Preview ones. I might have to check to see if that one is in there.

I recently picked up a back issue of the Marvel adaptation of Return of the Jedi in that format.


#356

Yes! Solo is a great example of the kind of thing I mean.


#357

I’m still struggling though Crusade now (usually I’m pretty tired by the time I start reading so only manage 10 minutes or so each night) - it’s all just really dull.

Most interesting apart from the nostalgia of seeing things like face-mask Thing and skimpy Sue Storm is the development in Ron Lim’s art over the three series.


#358

I’ve been slogging through my X-Men reread but to be honest haven’t felt the need to write about it. Not that this is in anyway a review in the vein of the other excellent posts by others, it’s more of a ‘catch-up’.

Uncanny X-Men 467 (Claremont/Bachelo)

This is part two of a three parter. In the last issue Rachel is visting her family for some kind of reunion party and is nervous as she doesn’t know how some family members will react to her.

Queue the arrival of a squad of Shi’ar Death Commandos! Oh yeah, one of them is called Sega.

If you’re wondering, the numbers are seconds and go up to 24, which is how long the events of the issue last. As each member of her family gets slaughtered, Rachel recalls a memory of them. It’s pretty dark stuff.

And then at the end, she gets branded!

Uncanny X-men 468 (Claremont/Bachelo)


I’ll let you read the recap.

Rachel confronts her foes and we get the standard civilized chat before the inevitable punch up.

Rachel goes mental on these dudes seemingly hacking the muthers up with reckless abandon.

In a shocking turn of events, the sole surviving member of the Grey family, Granny Grey, slaps Rachel and basically balls her out. Harsh!

The X-Men then show up and the Shi’ar get taken into custody leaving Rachel shaken and devastated. I’m no Claremont fan but this era of this particular run was fairly enjoyable stuff. It helps when Bachelo is turning out great work and by that I mean not too confusing.


#359

Bachalo’s art looks pretty great there.


#360

Uncanny X-Men 469 (Claremont & Tan)

Right, following up from the last arc, the Shi’ar are locked up, sentinels are parked in the Westchester grounds and some dude called Bean is fanning the flames of mutant hating fever. Also, Bishop is acting too cool for school. Does nothing bother this guy? Also,in other scenes he’s actively flirting with Val Cooper, head of O.N.E.

Rachel sees Doc Samson and acts like a dick which she does throughout the issue.

Paige is a world class hacker? Since when?


#361

Ha that is a typical Claremont trait. Adding extra skills and abilities when he feels like it. :smile: