Counter-Earth – The Newest Marvel Imprint?

I came upon this idea while reading Steve Englehart‘s fantastic Lost In Space-Time epic, and taking in account the many changes to Marvel Comics during the 80′s, especially during Jim Shooter’s tenure.

If, before the many changes to Marvel characters took place, one could simply inquire, to any neophyte comics enthusiast, or even one not versed at all, very basic questions about said characters, and the standard answers would apply:

Spider-Man? Red and blue costume“;
The Hulk? Green and dumb“;
The Fantastic Four? Big rock guy; stretchy guy; flaming guy; invisible chick“;
Captain America? Steve Rogers, super-soldier“…and the like.

A lot of that changed with the advent of the Beyonder.

SW1

Without his introduction to the 616 Marvel Universe, we would not have had:

SW8

Spider-Man’s black uniform, which became the Venom symbiote;

James Rhodes may have enjoyed a further tenure as Iron Man (he also partook of materials in the chamber that housed the symbiote that eventually compromised the Iron Man armor);

She-Hulk joining the FF when Ben Grimm stayed on the Beyonder’s patchwork planet, due to him shaking off the mental barrier Franklin noticed in FF #245 that stopped him from changing back to his human form (meaning that he never would have left Alicia Masters long enough for her to gravitate to Johnny Storm, which would have been interesting if she still had been exchanged for Lyja the Skrull);

Bruce Banner losing the battle of ascendancy in his control of his alter-ego’s form, and eventually returning to the savage Hulk for some time;

The New Mutants would have never been removed from existence;

Rachel Summers would have not as of yet encountered the M’Kraan Crystal;

Algrim the Dark Elf would have never been turned into Kurse, and WeezieWeezie never would’ve gotten hurt;

The only Doctor Doom in existence would have been Kristoff Venard, implanted with Doom’s memories (The Norm McArthur Doom was still present, but seemed to lack the steadfastness of Kristoff, as evidenced in FF Annual #20)…and so on and so on.

Counter Earth ByrneCounter-Earth was created by Herbert Edgar Wyndham, the High Evolutionary.

Counter Earth Gone At some point, the planet went missing!

If you’ll recall, Counter-Earth was eventually placed by the Beyonders into a museum.

Counter Earth Museum

In that case, this would be an Earth that was NOT visited by the Beyonder. It stands to reason that, when the High Evolutionary created Counter-Earth, that many of the denizens were common to our Earth, along with his New Men. After all, he was familiar with Peter Parker, as Professor Miles Warren was once his assistant.

I would guess that some analogues to our heroes would exist on Counter-Earth, though Heroes Reborn may have touched upon this (the Counter-Earth present here may have been an amalgam of the existing Counter-Earth and Franklin Richards‘  imaginings). However, I believe that the implications haven’t truly been realized.

Anyone want to discuss this further?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Action Comics #18 – Grant Morrison’s Swan Song

action-comics-18-cover

Well, here it is – the last issue of Action Comics penned by the fantastic Grant Morrison.

It was stated that Grant had signed on for six issues of the book – we ended up with three times that number – with extra sized issues at the end, to boot!

Let’s go page by page, and see what this last bit of magic entails:

First, the covers – nice pieces of work by Rags and by Paolo Rivera.

Page one – Brad Anderson really gives us a planet Earth that seems to be suspended in the heavens. Then we get an inset of Metropolis, followed by a shot of a giant Luthor battle suit attacking Super Doomsday – Lex still has a sweet spot for Kal El, as he demands that no one gets to kill Superman but him.

Page two – oops. That plan didn’t work out too well, did it, Lex?

Page three – Krypto is still chained by kryptonite, and SD finds the battlesuit is empty. What?!? Luthor’s still in his cell, controlling the suit via Lex-telepathy circuits (you know he calls them that).

Pages four and five are a double-page spread featuring the book’s title – Superman’s Last Stand – all of the creators’ names are reversed. Vyndktvx sics the Superman Revenge Squad on Clark.

Grant – I’d love a run-down of this current SRS – I know Drekken, Susie, Nimrod and Dr. Xa-Du, but I’m unsure of the rest.

Page six – Supes is having a super-hallucination, courtesy of the SRS-Red chick. He now has a lion’s head and paws, and sees Vyndktvx everywhere, including seven shadow demons.

Page seven is spent taunting Superman, but also gives Superman the genesis of an idea to beat the devil.

Page eight brings us back to the hospital room where Mxyzptlk lays dying, surrounded by Jimmy, Lois and the three core members of the Legion of Super Heroes. I mentioned once before that I don’t feel much for the LoSH, but when Grant writes them, it seems to work out. But who’s that approaching?

We are introduced to Ferlin Nyxly on page nine, who comes in raging about his parenting. Boy, is he in for a rude awakening.

Page ten – the magic trick begins to reveal itself.

Page eleven hits you right in the face – like a custard pie. Wow.

Page twelve is one I’m going to read over and over…there’s some hidden gems in there that I haven’t gotten yet.

Susie isn’t part of the SRS attack on page thirteen – she’s standing aside, when Adam Blake returns. Only Adam isn’t alone…

…because on page fourteen, we are greeted with the return of The Wanderers! I had that first issue – Dave Hoover art, of course. What concept can’t Grant make cool?

Page fifteen sees Krypto released and healed from his poisoning – and what a testament to the love of a dog for his best friend – “he’ll grow a new one”. The Wanderers begin dispatching the SRS easily.

Blake dispatches Dr. Xa-Du on page sixteen. The SRS-Red chick is beheaded, while Drekken switches sides and joins the Wanderers. Now begins the work to defeat Vyndktvx.

Page seventeen brings us our last look at Ferlin, and we get to see Vyndktvx starting to feel the desperation – he pleads for his minions to deliver, despite his failure to deliver on his end of the deal. He thinks he has Clark on the ropes – but this is Superman we’re talking about.

Page eighteen shows that even magic has to follow rules, and there is one basic rule – for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Vyndktvx’s actions creates Superman’s reaction. It’s just that simple. Vyndktvx erred by connecting Superman to every living mind on Earth…

…and Clark will in anchored and strengthened on page nineteen by The Wanderers. Fifth-dimension character stories have been done before, and they mostly seemed to entail the ease at which 5-D beings can traverse our dimension, but here, Grant examines that, and to interfere in the life of a 3-D being entails being mired in everything a 3-D being experiences, and to a 5-D being, it’s akin to walking into a spider’s web, or flypaper, as mentioned by Blake.

Page twenty – Clark works his magic trick on Vyndktvx. Now for some of the fun stuff I saw in this issue – thank you, Rags, for the revelation. If you didn’t see it, I won’t spoil it.

Page twenty-one shows that Clark’s still got it. Of course, Vyndktvx is a sore loser, isn’t he? He sets his SD shell to blow up…

…leaving Clark to pull that trick we first saw in Amazing Spider-Man #33, where Peter lifts that amazing weight and frees himself to save Aunt May – what we see on page twenty-two is what we should have seen at the end of Superman Returns.

Page twenty-three – Vyndktvx is still nursing that hand from AC #14 – ouchie! What’s worse, his SD bomb is going, going…gone.

Pages twenty-four and twenty-five are the end and the beginning of the fairy tale.

We are presented with the beginning of the end of Krypton on page twenty-six.

Here’s where I once again praise the genius of Grant Morrison. On page twenty-seven, we see Superman Red and Superman Blue. Without making it screamingly obvious, he has Brad Walker illustrate the emotion of Superman Red, while showing the cold logic of Superman Blue. And yet, the two mirror each other in every other way. Excellent stuff. This panel alone is why I read comics. of course, Grant isn’t satisfied with just that – Miss Nyxly is alive! But is Superman?

Page twenty-eight show the lasting impression Superman has on everyone.

Page twenty-nine has Susie back with Aunt Lois, and Superman’s best pal is also Clark Kent’s best pal. Talk about wishing on a falling star.

Page thirty – “You should see the other guy.”

Well, we won’t, for at least ninety days, right, Grant?

I’m gonna miss you, brother. Up, up and away!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Comment Posted To The Man Who Killed Spider-Man

http://www.villagevoice.com/2013-01-09/art/the-man-who-killed-spider-man/3/

Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever a spider can…

No, I won’t torture you with that, but I will regale you with my history. I believe my first actual comic ever was Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #34, with the Lizard and his creation, the Iguana.

I grew up a science geek, just like Pete…well, not exactly like Pete. I was already very tall and made lots of friends by my formative years. I wasn’t really shy around girls; in fact, I managed to make friends with the most beautiful girls in school since sixth grade on. Yes – I mean all of your, my dear women friends.

I got an aeronautics kit for Christmas one year – and what a fantastic year that was! The next year, I got a scientific kit, and I may still have the microscope from said kit – no slides, however.

Still, with my scientific acumen, I could imagine being the wall-crawling hero, wisecracks and all. One of the highlights of my life was being invited to the Marvel Comics offices (when they were still located at 287 Park Avenue South) to participate in a round table to discuss the future of comic books – and I got to take a picture with Spider-Man! I still have it, along with my over 15,000 comic collection, which, unfortunately, is languishing in a storage unit in Naples, Florida as we speak. At this point, I’d be interested in either establishing a comic book museum or donating them to a library – if anyone has any ideas along these lines, please write to me at masterkhan69@hotmail.com and let’s see what develops. I do wish to hold on to a couple of books; namely, my copy of Amazing Spider-Man 252 autographed by Stan “The Man” Lee, along with X-Men vs. Micronauts #1, autographed by the great Bill Mantlo, who I just ran into at Jugger Grimrod’s shop back in the 80′s.

As you can see, I’m a real comics buff. There’s something unique to the comics art form that you cannot get anywhere else – in sequential art, you get to control the media. You can study the panel for as long as you like. To use the example of Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons turned a murder mystery into one of the richest examples of what could b done with a blank piece of paper – and gave us something in which each subsequent reading unpeels yet another layer of the onion that is the story of Edward Morgan Blake, who has been murdered before you have opened the cover of the book. Or try out The Coyote Gospel, featuring Buddy Baker, also known as Animal Man, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Charles “Chas” Truog and Doug Hazlewood – if you are a fan of the Warner Brothers family of cartoons, as I am, you’ll delight in the nuances of this story. If you want to start easy, pick up a Sandman trade paperback by Neil Gaiman. If you’ve ever pondered how a utopia forced upon its citizens would work out, look no further than Squadron Supreme, written by the dearly departed Mark Gruenwald, illustrated by Bob Hall, Paul Ryan and the also departed John Buscema, aided by a host of inkers, colorists, letterers and assistants.

I’ve met so many creators – I even had the pleasure of having Walt and Weezie as the special guests at the Science Fiction Club (thanks for the Thor/Beta Ray Bill drawing, Uncle Walt!), and I have a number of books in my collection signed by said creators. I would love to get at a couple of key books – the rest can be up for grabs. Write to me at the above listed address – let’s see what we can do.

Now, I mentioned what many people know as the cream of the crop of the comic book art form, but Spider-Man is an icon. Spider-Man is a voice. Spider-Man could be YOU. Spider-Man could be ME.

That’s what Dan Slott maybe sees in Spider-Man. That’s why he’s having the time of his life chronicling the adventures of Peter Parker…even though he’s not quite Peter Parker right now, right? After all, it’s what’s this article is about.

But Dan has a point – Peter Parker is a scientist; and yet, besides the mostly minor inventions used to tackle separate cases, before joining Horizon Labs, Peter had missed his calling.

Here is why Stan and Steve (Ditko) are great – after 50 years in existence, the formerly Amazing (and now Superior) Spider-Man still has room for growth.

So…to Dan Slott – I hope that the morning you wake up dreading to have to write Spider-Man is indeed far off. Let me say it now – if I run into you at a convention, I’ll owe you a hearty handshake and hope to have some good conversation to offer. Ask Peter David – he got me to caress James Fry’s dreads, and we’re all still pals.

Right, guys?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Grant Morrison’s Still Got It – My Review Of Action Comics 00-12

Final Crisis came and went…and I couldn’t really tell you what the bloody thing was all about, besides cementing the utter bad-assedness of Bruce Wayne once again. Do you all remember Rock Of Ages? Batman survives a meeting with Desaad, beats him and masquerades as Desaad under the very nose of Darkseid, and ultimately sets the stage for his defeat.

I didn’t think he could top that.

Not that he was slacking; after all, he was instrumental in the defeat of the White Martians upon the regrouping of the big guns after the Detroit JLA era. Mark Waid was so enamored of the Batman that he had multiple storylines dedicated to Bruce’s complete owning of the aforementioned aliens; first, he had hypnotized one to become him in order to move behind the scenes, unbeknownst to his team; later, he nearly took them out singlehandedly again when they devised a way to change Earth’s atmosphere.

So, to recap: Bruce Wayne can pretty much whip your fanny.

When Bruce Wayne was struck by Darkseid’s Omega Beams…well, come on – that’s it, right?

Whachoo talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

Now, maybe Grant had gone total obscura on us, with the Batman, R.I.P. storyline, but where else would you see the Black Glove and Bat-Mite in the same book? Regardless, I think a lot of brain cells were fried in the regaling of these storylines.

But remember…this is Batman we’re talking about – he’s supposed to be unfathomable!

Now, let’s go on to another tack.

Grant and Frank Quitely gave us All-Star Superman.

WOW.

What a sweet book. I mean, I have to be honest here…I thought Superman soaked cork before the reboot (and no, this is before I read Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?). He was just too powerful. Moving planets? Traveling back and forth in time at a whim? I felt sorry for the bank robbers. Now, once Crisis On Infinite Earths and the reboot by John Byrne and Marv Wolfman came about, the character of Clark Kent made more sense, though not everything was golden initially. It took Roger Stern, Jerry Ordway and their associated illustrators to fully flesh out the newly-revised Man Of Steel.

When Superman was killed by Doomsday, I was out there on Herald Square, doling out the books like crack to dope fiends. Adventures Of Superman #500 was a different story. Great story, but too much of the same gimmick. I have to mention this as I segue into the new series by Grant for the New 52.

52 was an excellent series by DC. It was the first big weekly series ever done, and the amazing thing was that it kept to that 52-week schedule, yet kept up its quality (well, that’s if you give all of the artists mostly equal footing – but considering the enormity of it all, I was impressed) and told a great story of the disappearance of the Big Three and the emergence of the complement of DC’s heroes to fill that void. We got to see a re-imagining of Infinity Inc., the rise and fall of Black Adam, the coherence of DC’s villain base into a palpable threat, and the purpose of Booster Gold, as well as a coda to Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle. Not to mention, Infinite Crisis

Right after that, we got…Countdown.

I have the first issue signed by Paul Dini…I don’t have any others. It felt too much like it was riding the coattails of 52…but I was wrong.

Countdown tore off the label from the coat and tried to make itself from the ingredients, without realizing that it’s not the parts themselves that make the whole - it’s the sum of the parts. That’s what 52 was.

It’s what Countdown wasn’t.

DC has just re-imagined the DC Universe, along with the inclusion of the Vertigo characters and the Wildstorm Universe, into the New 52. This required Superman to be re-imagiined – and who better than All-Star Superman’s Grant Morrison?

Grant chose Rags Morales, formerly of the fantastic Identity Crisis, as his artist of choice. Remembering his renderings of Superman and Clark Kent in those books, it’s no real surprise why. Rags has an ease with conveying emotion in his art. It was apparent all through Identity Crisis, and it’s apparent throughout this series. Assisting on the art is Gene Ha, whose first work I saw in the excellent Night Man series put out by Malibu/Ultraverse (we were also privy to Kyle Hotz’s first work in that series, as well). Andy Kubert also stepped in for two issues, and we also got some pages from Brad Walker and Ben Oliver.

I have to mention here that I have never cared for the Legion Of Super Heroes.

After saying that, why is it that I find that Alan Moore and Grant Morrison can actually get me to care about these characters to some degree?

It’s kind of like Adam Strange – never had an interest in the character, but after reading Swamp Thing #s 57 and 58, I was compelled by his story…and the funny thing is, half of the issues aren’t even in English!

Have I talked at all about the New 52 Superman?

He’s younger.

He knows about his rocketship.

He has an indestructible cape, now joined with his indestructible bodysuit.

He’s no longer married to Lois Lane.

John Corben once had a relationship with Lois; now, he is joined with a battlesuit composed of…Metal-Zero. He also no longer has a heart.

Braniac is the internet of other worlds.

He’s stronger than a dinosaur’s hide.

He had a new identity as Johnny Clark, the hero firefighter.

Clark’s landlord is from the 5th dimension.

Actually, I am very excited by this, and by the impish figure assembling his Anti-Kryptonian Army. Do you recall Crisis Times Five, in the pages of JLA, guest-starring the JSA? We got the last storyline of Triumph, along with a helping hand by Captain Marvel and a revelation that the Thunderbolt under the control of the various Johnny Thunders is…a genie.

How cool was that?

Grant Morrison has really chowed down on some good shrooms, because he really gets the idea of the higher dimensions. I still need to find my copy of The Ambidextrous Universe by Martin Gardner before he finishes his next storyline. I understand that his last issue is #16.

Maybe they can get Neil Gaiman to sign on?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Boys #64 Review (contains spoilers)

The first two words convey my feeling about the entire issue.

I guess in The Boys’ universe, PearPCs are all the rage.

On route to Dulles, Butcher confers with soon-to-be-ex-Director Rayner, while Wee Hughie checks out footage of some Super-Klansmen. Butcher then explains to Hughie that all he’s ever done was to attempt to prepare Hughie for dealing with the world on realistic terms.

We are then made privy to the information released by The Boys to the public; suffice it to say that the Homelander’s photos are all tinged red. At the end of the montage, we see Vought American Vice President James Stillwell perusing said information, when he perceives someone waiting outside his window.

Several stories from the ground.

He turns to find the Homelander hovering outside his window, bloodied and eyes afire with heat vision.

Very matter-of-factly, Stillwell informs the Homelander that the windows do not fully open; if he wishes to gain access to his office, he can either smash the window or use his heat vision; but whatever his decision, he should do so as soon as possible, for Stillwell says he is suffering the “worst headache of my life.”

Taken aback, the Homelander chooses to smash the window.

We next see some fighter aircraft being armed with some very special missiles.

Stillwell advises his security staff to stand down, which the Homelander terms as “wise”. He then begins gloating in regards to the series of events he has brought about, while Stillwell informs him that he has totally disrupted the carefully laid plans of VA.The Homelander quips about not being part of those plans, and intimates that his replacement is already being grown. He then notes that Stillwell’s heart rate has not fluctuated in the slightest. He remarks, “I’ve finally found a superhuman.”

Whatever failsafe Stillwell has in defense against the Homelander, it surely isn’t a kryptonite ring, eh? After reading this, I’d make the guess that Stillwell IS the failsafe.

At any rate, Stillwell admonishes the Homelander for his utter lack of creativity, stating that he has failed to be impressed by a single thing that the Homelander’s done.

Wow.

The Homelander threatens to murder him; Stillwell threatens to jump and save him the trouble, which once again disarms the Homelander.

Sputtering, the Homelander leaves in a fit of pique, advising Stillwell to “keep watching”. I’m surprised that, when he yelled, it didn’t rupture Stillwell’s eardrums.

We next go to the Pentagon, where VA “supes” are in battle with troops, while Oh Father in confronted by a reporter about charges of pedophilia. He assaults the reporter, breaking his neck, his jaw and dislodging teeth in one blow.

Butcher arrives with Hughie, and receives operational control of the troops. He notices the aerial “supes” holding their position, then discovers that the Homelander has arrived at the White House. Butcher brandishes his crowbar and begins to make his way towards the White House.

Hughie is told not to interfere. Hughie then receives a call from Mother’s Milk; Hughie explains that Butcher is making his way and has disabled all communication. MM then explains that he has seen the file on Black Noir, and that Butcher has no idea of what he is about to face.

Book ends.

This is going to be a long wait for issue #65.

I’ve a really out there idea about the identity of Black Noir – think “Kaine” – I will say no more.

Garth Ennis has failed to disappoint me with a single issue of this series. Russell Braun has really gotten the feel of the characters and I can still feel Darick Robertson’s influence as I read these issues. Tony Avina’s colors are on-point, and Simon Bowland always manages a good flow with the word balloons.

As I just said – it’s going to be a long wait.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

R.I.P., Dwayne McDuffie

Dwayne McDuffie passed away today.

I had the pleasure of meeting him at a convention not long after the creation of Milestone Media, an imprint within DC Comics, of which he was a founder. Dwayne was taller than I was, and I found his facial foliage impressive at the time.

I remember his initial disappointment at my preference to Blood Syndicate over Icon, the title he wrote…but once I mentioned my love of Mark Bright’s artwork, we engaged in some light banter about the comics industry, and all was well with the world.

I remember reading in Dwayne’s Bullpen Pro-File that his greatest unfulfilled dream (at the time of it’s writing) was to write the Fantastic Four. Well, buddy, you did just that, and you did a swell job.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Vin’sComicTalk is now a WordPress blog!

Welcome to WordPress.com. This is the new home of Vin’s Comic Talk!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment