As comic book fans, we’ve all had discussions with our friends about who is the greatest superhero of all-time. Who is the strongest? Who is the fastest? Who would win in a fight? These are all popular questions that have been asked and answered time and time again. For that very reason, let’s ask a different one. Let’s try to answer the question: Who is the greatest superhero pet of all-time? #5 Zabu Zabu is the faithful sabretooth tiger companion to Ka-Zar of the Savage Land. Having saved Ka-Zar from a group of bloodthirsty savages when Ka-Zar was a boy, the two have been inseparable ever since. Zabu is the only known sabretooth tiger in existence, and is a cunning hunter with a near human-level intelligence. #4 Krypto the Superdog One of the most well-known super hero pets of all-time is Krypto the Superdog. Krypto was the loyal pet dog of Superman back on Krypton when the Man of Steel was just a toddler named Kal-El. Krypto was launched into space in the same type of rocket that Kal-El was. However, Krpto’s rocket landed on Earth much later. Eventually the two were reunited. This superdog shares the same powers as his human counterpart, making him one of the strongest pets in existence! #3 Ace the Bat-Hound Never one to be outdone by Superman, Batman also once had a loyal four-legged companion of his own in Ace the Bat-Hound. This faithful and fierce German Shepherd was found by Batman and Robin after his owner was kidnapped. The three teamed up and eventually rescued Ace’s owner, John Wilker. The man eventually became too busy to take care of Ace, so he left him to Bruce Wayne. Ever the clever one, Bruce decided Ace could be an asset to the Bat family. Because he wanted to protect his own identity as Batman, Bruce fashioned Ace with a mask of his own which sported the bat-emblem. #2 Throg The story of Throg is a sad one, as he was formerly a human named Simon Walterson. After losing his wife and child, Simon fell into a bad depression, which led him to seek out a witch to help him speak to his wife one last time from the afterlife. Though Simon’s wish was granted, the witch turned him into a frog when he couldn’t pay for her services. Years later, Simon’s fortunes changed yet again, when one day he found a tiny piece of Thor’s hammer. Throg was worthy enough to pick it up, and obtained the powers of the god of Thunder himself! #1 Lockjaw It should come as no surprise that a dog would be at number one. There is no more loyal companion than man’s best friend. What sets the Inhumans’ Lockjaw above the other canines, you may ask? It’s quite simple… Lockjaw has the ability to teleport through dimensions, has super dog strength, and can even predict the future! Plus, he’s royalty. What truly separates Lockjaw from Krypto and Ace though is his staying power. Though his original appearance doesn’t go back quite as far, Lockjaw has maintained a consistent role within the Marvel Universe since 1965!
In keeping with the spirit of Independence Day, let’s take a look back into the patriotic pages of Captain America in the 1990s, where we find the next subject of our forgotten comic book character blog entry. Today we ask: whatever happened to Free Spirit? C-Minus in Physical Education Cathy Webster was your typical college student struggling to make ends meet in the mid-90s. While Cathy was a mostly straight A student, there was one subject bringing her GPA down. Cathy had a C minus in PE. Luckily for Cathy, a friend of one of her professors, Dr. Deirdra Wentworth, was looking for candidates for a performance enhancing exercise involving sleep therapy and subliminal learning tapes. After some convincing from Dr. Wentworth, Cathy agreed to consider the offer. Little did Cathy know that Dr. Wentworth was actually the man-hating supervillain Superia. Once Cathy agreed to take part in the experiment, Superia’s true motives were revealed. The subliminal messaging on the tapes did somehow give Cathy Olympic-level strength and reflexes similar to that of Captain America, but they also hypnotized Cathy into hating all men, something she only discovered after she injured someone badly at a fraternity party. This was all part of Superia’s master plan of creating a superior female army to rule the world. Becoming an Ally of Captain America Once Cathy discovered Superia’s intentions of subjugating her mind by liberating her body, she determined from that point on that she would make her own decisions on how to properly utilize her new-found abilities. Thus, Free Spirit was born. Free Spirit eventually became an ally of Captain America, helping him and Diamondback rescue several kidnapped children from Baron Zemo. As Free Spirit, Cathy went on to assist Captain America in several campaigns against villainous organizations like the Serpent Society, ULTIMATUM, and Aim. She and Jack Flag were both trained by Cap, becoming founding members of a network of computer operatives known as the “Captain America Hotline.” What Became of the Free Spirit? Several years later, Captain America recruited Free Spirit and Jack Flag as part of a Shield operation to take down Hydra. This occurred during the infamous Hydra Cap storyline, in which the Cosmic Cube created an evil version of Steve Rogers. The evil loyal-to-Hydra Rogers pushed Jack Flag out of a moving airplane without a parachute after the latter disobeyed his orders. Free Spirit found Jack’s body and discovered that he had not yet died. Hydra Cap eventually tried to finish the job while Jack lay in a coma. However, before he could do so, Cathy informed Cap that Jack’s family decided to pull the plug. Cathy was last seen grieving for Jack, still oblivious to Hydra Cap’s betrayal.
Thor, the God of Thunder, is one of the most revered heroes in all of the Marvel Universe. With his mighty hammer Mjolnir, he has proven himself worthy on many occasions, and saved the galaxy several times in the process. However, there have been times where Thor has either been deemed unworthy by Mjolnir, or has been unable to wield the weapon for other reasons. Let’s count down the top 5 heroes who have ever stepped up to wield the mighty Mjolnir. #5 Norrin Radd (The Silver Surfer) In an alternate future universe in which King Thanos defeated most of the heroes of the Marvel Universe, Norrin Radd found himself lost in time after Thanos killed his former master, Galactus. Realizing he could not defeat Thanos himself, Radd spent millennia training himself until he was worthy of Mjolnir. He eventually transformed himself into the Fallen One, and battled against King Thanos and his past self. Unfortunately for Radd, two Mad Titans were too much for his new powers. King Thanos ultimately impaled the Fallen One’s head onto the handle of Mjolnir. #4 Eric Masterson (Thunderstrike) Eric Masterson met Thor while working as an architect. After an accident at a construction site, Thor saved Masterson’s life by taking him to the hospital. Little did he know that this chance encounter with the God of Thunder would change his fate forever. Masterson became an ally of Thor until one day, his life hung in the balance once again, due to an attack by the villain Mongoose. During the battle, Masterson actually lifted Mjolnir but was struck with a deadly blast. Thor pleaded with Odin to save Masterson’s life. Odin did so by merging the two of them together. Unfortunately, Masterson ended up sacrificing much in having his life saved, including losing his family. He eventually took on the role of Thor independently, before the Enchantress manipulated him into battle with the former Thor. Once Amora’s manipulations were revealed, Odin ordered the creation of a new weapon for Masterson. Thus, Thunderstrike was born. #3 Beta Ray Bill Beta Ray Bill’s journey to becoming worthy of Mjolnir was born of a misunderstanding between himself and Thor. Bill is a member of an alien race called the Korbinites, who were almost rendered entirely extinct by magic similar to that of Asgard. For this reason, Bill’s sentient ship Skuttlebutt mistook Thor for a threat. During the ensuing battle, Bill separated Thor from Mjolnir, and rendered him unconscious. He then proved himself worthy by lifting the enchanted hammer. After he learned of Bill’s worthiness, Odin pitted him against Thor in a battle to the death in order to decide who shall wield Mjolnir. Bill ultimately won the fight, but decided that Thor was too worthy an opponent to kill. Odin then ordered the same dwarves who created Mjolnir to forge a new magical hammer called Stormbreaker so that Bill could use it to defend his people. #2 Ororo Munroe (Storm) Ororo Munroe, known as the X-Men’s Storm, is one of the most noble mutants in the team’s history. Storm has led the X-Men with honor on many occasions. Perhaps seeing her worthiness is what led Loki to create Stormcaster, a magical hammer similar to Mjolnir, which Loki presented to Storm many years ago. Storm eventually gave up the hammer after learning of Loki’s manipulation. However, she possessed the hammer many years later during the Siege of Asgard. It was during this battle that Storm truly proved her worthiness after she held Mjolnir just long enough to destroy Stormcaster once and for all, proving that Storm is one of the few worthy. #1 Steve Rogers (Captain America) Perhaps nobody can as closely match Thor’s worthiness of Mjolnir than Steve Rogers. In fact, Rogers has lifted Mjolnir on three separate occasions. The most impressive thing about the first time he accomplished the feat was that, at the time, he was deemed unworthy by the US government to wear the Captain America costume or wield the shield. In typical Steve Rogers fashion, he only held the hammer long enough to fight off a group of villains that had incapacitated Thor, immediately handing Mjolnir back to him. Rogers would again wield Mjolnir, albeit in the pages of “What If…? Age of Apocalypse.” After Nathan Summers took over the mantle of Apocalypse in an attempt to undo the damage done by changing history, Rogers responded, “the world doesn’t need another tyrant” before destroying him with Mjolnir. The final occurrence of Steve Rogers wielding Mjolnir was during the Fear Itself storyline. After Thor fell in battle, Steve found Mjolnir. He lifted the hammer and rallied the Avengers to battle against the Serpent.
There are many formidable alien races in the Marvel Universe; the Skrulls, the Kree, and the Shi’ar have all carved out reputations for themselves throughout the galaxy. However, none are more predacious, savage, or evil as the dreaded Brood. These large insect-like aliens have often been compared to demons, both because of their appearance, as well as for the wicked enjoyment they receive from causing the suffering of others. Inspiration/Creation The Brood’s first official appearance was back in Uncanny X-Men #155. According to creating artist Dave Cockrum, the creatures were originally meant to be “miscellaneous alien henchmen,” as Chris Claremont described them in writing the plot for the issue. Cockrum says he simply drew the most horrible looking thing he could possibly think of at the time. What resulted were large brown insect-like creatures with sharp fangs for teeth. Those horrendous creatures went on to become some the most feared villains in the history of Marvel. Origin Originally written as generic henchmen for the villainous Deathbird, the origin and history of the Brood was explored in later issues. Considered the universe’s first natural predators, Brood origin goes back before the emergence of Galactus. They are said to have existed in the Milky Way galaxy since at least 2620 BC. The Brood have infected hundreds of worlds in the galaxy throughout thousands of years. The Brood have a matriarchal society, led by the supreme Empress Brood, who controls the entire hive-mind of the race. She is the leader of the entire species, which consists of several different colonies led by Brood Queens. The queens carry out the will of the Empress Brood. They control their own spawn telepathically, and are capable of implanting embryos into other species. Most of the Brood army consists of slightly smaller insectoids, which were aptly nicknamed “sleazoids” by the X-Men. These drones carry out the Queen’s will without hesitation. History The Brood have proven themselves to be a relentless enemy, having tangled with the X-Men, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Carol Danvers, and the original Captain Marvel. Their earliest known contact was with the Kree Empire, who captured and experimented on them, eventually releasing the Brood upon their sworn enemies, the Shi-ar Empire. The Brood’s first contact with Earth occurred in 2620 B.C. They attempted to invade ancient Egypt, but were repelled by Imhotep, En Sabah Nur (Apocalypse), and Khonshu. The Brood later allied themselves with the Shi’ar defector Deathbird, who tried to use them to remove her sister Lilandra as ruler. The attack was thwarted with the help of the X-Men. However, this left the mutants as mortal enemies of the Brood. The X-Men went on to defend Earth from several more attacks from the ruthless alien race. Legacy An event which would come back to haunt the Brod was their first contact with the Kree Empire. During their experiments, the Kree produced a patriarchal element to be used on the Brood known as the King Egg, which they could use to assert complete control over the entire Brood society. The King Egg produces a mutated Brood King. The King is able take control of the hive-mind. The Kree utilized this Patriarch as their ultimate weapon to destroy the Shi’ar Empire. The King Egg was most recently consumed by Broo, a Brood-mutant hybrid who was allied with the X-Men. After consuming the egg, Broo became the new undisputed King of the Brood.
We are just three issues into the Joker’s very first solo comic book in over four decades! The fact that it has taken so long for the Clown Prince of Crime to get his own series is amazing, considering how he has consistently remained one of the most recognizable comic book villains of all-time. So, what’s the consensus three issues in? Let’s find out as we take a look at The Joker Issue #3! One Bad Day… This one starts out with a bang, as Jim Gordon personally remembers his experience in one of the greatest and most controversial Joker storylines of all-time, “The Killing Joke.” Gordon recalls the embarrassment and humiliation as the Joker attempted to use Gordon to prove to Batman that “one bad day could turn even the most sane person in Gotham insane.” While remembering the events of that fateful night at Amusement Mile, Gordon compares the Joker to the Devil himself, as the insane villain tells Gordon he’s going mad. This recollection of the accounts of that night provides one of the greatest revelations of just how strong a character Jim Gordon is and has always been. Gordon reveals how he never took the Joker seriously before that night and how it used to bother him that Batman prioritized criminals with gimmicks. Gordon admits that his viewpoint was changed that night, though he also indicates that the Joker’s plan ultimately failed. Gordon remained strong in the face of absolute torture because of two reasons. He needed to prove to both his daughter and to Batman that the Joker was wrong. He had to remain a rock for both of them. In this, he succeeded. The story then picks back up in the present as Jim Gordon meets with Cressida of the Court of Owls at an airport. Gordon agrees to go to Belize with the full financial backing of the group, with the intention of killing the Joker after he allegedly blew up half of Arkham Asylum. Unbeknownst to Gordon, his daughter Barbara is keeping tabs on him, as well as the group backing his mission. Old Fashioned Detective Work While in the plane, Jim goes over the difficulty of profiling someone like the Joker in comparison to the average serial killer. He contends that serial killers are usually more specific in their actions. The murders they commit are usually direct statements that can be understood by those who spend enough time on the job. The Joker is far more complex, though, and is a criminal obsessed with the “performance” aspect of his misdeeds. Gordon believes that the Joker bides his time until the next big performance clicks in his twisted mind. Gordon feels that using good old fashioned detective work and following his own gut instincts will provide a clearer picture of where the Joker is hiding. He spends time among the locals listening to the rumors of missing people. He learns of a mysterious private resort up in the mountains, which he decides to investigate. Gordon believes that the search for the Joker will be a long one, and that he may find clues from potential past hideouts. These clues will surely lead him to the Joker’s whereabouts. Unexpected Reunion As Jim knocks on the front door of the first resort on his list, he’s taken completely by surprise as the Joker answers and exclaims, “Jimbo! Is that really you?!” Gordon is shocked at the ease of discovering the Joker’s location so quickly, and after a moment of disbelief, he draws his gun. The Joker isn’t alone, though. A squad of heavily armed troops draw their weapons on Jim as the Joker taunts him. Joker tells Gordon that he arrived just in time. He mentions the fact that someone blew up Arkham Asylum weeks ago. Jim tells the Joker that he knows that he was responsible, to which the Joker responds earnestly, “But… You see, that’s the darnedest thing, Jim. I didn’t.” Joker tells Gordon that someone wanted everyone to think he did it, and now everyone is out to try and kill him. Joker mentions that they’re already on their way up the hill as we see the new Bane and her men approaching. Joker tells Gordon to keep his gun drawn as the battle is about to begin. Overall, this was a phenomenal read. The first four pages alone pull you right into the story, especially if you’ve read “The Killing Joke.” If not, this is a great opportunity to go back and read it. The pace slows down for a while after that, but the intricacy of this story is great. The importance of Jim Gordon’s character to the extended Batman universe is showcased in a fantastic way. Readers can look forward to an action-packed next issue that hopefully includes more interaction between Jim Gordon and the Joker.
The Alien franchise has officially made its debut in the pages of Marvel comics. With promises of all-new stories, along with characters both new and old, anticipation for the series was high. With its debut issue hitting comic shops last month, the wait is over. So how was the big debut? Well, like any true horror classic, this story begins in darkness. The story opens with an unseen colonial marine speaking to someone about his experience facing the xenomorphs. He explains: “The dark I see is a truer shade than just the absence of light. You can’t find it just by clapping your hands over your eyes. Dark like this gets into you, penetrates you, tightens around your skull, presses into your eye sockets until something pops and even the memory of light—even the belief in light—drains away.” Cut away to a full page spread of an army of alien xenomorphs led by a strange feminine alien with a human-like appearance, and we see what is likely a seed of things to come. We find out that the man speaking is Gabriel Cruz, a former colonial marine who had a severe close encounter with the aliens, one which seemingly resulted in the death of his entire team years prior. Cruz is speaking to an android therapist from the infamous Weyland-Yutani corporation, who resembles the “Bishop” model played by Lance Henriksen from the Aliens movie franchise. In just a few short pages, Marvel has already delivered on their promise to blend the old in with the new. Cruz speaks to Bishop about the haunting dreams which followed his near-death experience. As Cruz leaves, it is revealed that he is retiring from the company and moving to Earth. Bishop informs him that the company will transfer his memory files to another Bishop model planet side, where they can continue their conversation. Cruz is given a retirement party, where he is honored by Weyland-Yutani. He reveals that he intends to spend time getting to know his son, Danny. Danny visits his father back on Earth, and it is evident during the conversation that their relationship is strained. Danny despises Weyland-Yutani, and blames them for the death of the rest of his family, including his brother Lucas. The fact that his father still works for the company has driven a wedge between the two. The visit is brief, as Danny’s true intentions were to steal his father’s security clearance card. He speeds away with his girlfriend who appears excited at the data they can obtain from the card. Gabe flashes back to his previous encounter with the aliens, where he and one of his squad mates appear to be in dire straits as a xenomorph approaches them. The memory cuts away to another therapy session with Bishop on Earth. Gabe remarks how he wishes the memory banks of the previous Bishop who was in his squad could have been preserved, as he considered him to be a friend. When asked if Gabe spoke to his son about his “retirement,” we learn that Gabe is not actually retired but is dying of an unknown illness. Bishop tells Gabe that he should try speaking to his son again. As for Danny, we find out that he used his father’s card to infiltrate Epsilon Station with a small group of anti-corporate soldiers, including his girlfriend, Iris. Despite considering themselves the “good guys,” the group shows no remorse after murdering two Weyland-Yutani security guards in a gruesome manner. The group discovers a lab with several alien test subjects. They kill a few scientists before one of them sets off a security alarm. The group shoots two more scientists who fall backwards, breaking the stasis pods containing several face huggers. Danny watches as his squad is attacked by the face huggers, before one leaps directly at him. The image fades to black as his father’s opening words echo again… “Dark like this gets into you, penetrates you, tightens around your skull, presses into your eye sockets until something pops and even the memory of light—even the belief in light—drains away.” This is a fairly solid opening issue for Marvel. The artwork is both dark and realistic, and the story blends in elements of familiarity with the popular movie franchise. There is plenty of intrigue as to what happened to Gabe and Danny’s family, and even more in regards to the details of Gabe’s illness. It seems likely by his flashbacks that Gabe survived a face hugger attack, especially as his words perfectly echo Danny’s apparent fate at the end of the issue. There are certainly some lingering questions to be answered. Is Danny’s fate sealed? Perhaps if Gabe survived a face hugger attack, he may hold the answer to that question. We eagerly await what’s next in Alien #2.
Comic books are known for being over-the-top when it comes to the diverse cast of super-powered villains that serve as the primary antagonists to earth’s mightiest heroes. Their power sets cover a wide range of abilities such as superhuman strength, flight, energy projection, telepathy, magic, immortality, and even God-like status. It is almost impossible to rank all of their abilities, and at times, it can seem a bit ridiculous how overpowered they are. In fact, sometimes a villain’s power set becomes their primary identifying characteristic, which can make for a less interesting character. There is a reason why there are so many non-powered villains that are considered to be the greatest of all-time. Today, we’re narrowing down the top three most dangerous comic book villains without any known super powers. #3 The Red Skull Though the Red Skull has possessed some superhuman abilities at various times, those moments have usually been one-offs that were often achieved through fringe science (such as stealing Professor Charles Xavier’s brain). Throughout most of Johann Schmidt’s history, he’s been merely a man, albeit one who is an evil genius. Having debut in 1941, the Red Skull is one of the most persistent villains of all time, motivated almost exclusively by his hatred for America and its ideals. That hate has allowed him to follow Captain America into the 21st century through use of cloning and scientific experimentation. What the Red Skull lacks in superhuman abilities, he makes up for in pure resolve. #2 Kingpin The Kingpin, aka Wilson Fisk, is perhaps the most physically imposing non-powered villain of all time. Standing 6’7” and weighing 450 lbs, Fisk has gone toe-to-toe with superpowered heroes Spider-Man and Daredevil on a number of occasions. His enemies have often mistaken him for being out of shape due to his massive size. However, most of his body mass is actually muscle. In addition to his impressive strength, Fisk also has a genius-level intellect, is an expert hand-to-hand combatant, and is a master criminal. These skills have allowed him to hide in plain sight, concealing his secret criminal identity, and leaving him multiple steps ahead of his enemies. #1 The Joker Much like the Red Skull, the Joker is one of the most dangerous and persistent villains of all-time, having served as the primary antagonist for Batman since 1940. The Clown Prince of Crime has remained an enigma for over 80 years, as he is one of the few comic book villains whose origin has never been revealed. For simply being a man in a clown suit, the Joker’s body count also dwarfs most other villains. Ironically, Batman’s refusal to kill his enemies has allowed the Joker to add to that count. The Joker’s unwavering dedication to creating chaos, and the fact that his motives are unknown even to Batman, make him the most dangerous non-powered villain of all-time.
There are so many great heroes who have been introduced in the past near-century of comic books. Superheroes like Captain America, Superman, and Batman have maintained their positions of popularity and reverence since their origins. While these icons make it appear easy to stay relevant in consistently changing times, others are not so fortunate. Some, in fact, are never able to reach the higher echelon of “superherodom,” let alone maintain it. There may be no greater example of this than the dismal tale of Dennis Dunphy, aka D-Man. A Promising Career Dennis Dunphy grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where he played college football as a young man. He hoped to play professionally, but he didn’t garner any interest from the NFL. Fortunately for Dunphy, he was approached by the Power Broker, who gave him an opportunity he could not refuse. The Broker, who was trying to recreate the super soldier serum that gave Captain America his abilities, gave Dunphy augmented strength through a dangerous process that would bring about serious complications down the line. The Power Broker gave Dunphy his first big break, hiring him on as a professional wrestler, where he came to be known as “Demolition Dunphy.” This gig was given to him so that he could pay off the debt accrued from the augmentation process. Unbeknownst to Dunphy, the addictive “stabilizing pills” he took were designed to keep him and other augmented people under the control of the Power Broker and his criminal organization. D-Man is Born Dunphy eventually broke away from the Power Broker’s criminal enterprise and teamed with Captain America to bring down the shadowy organization. He donned a brand-new costume that he patterned after his favorite superhero, Daredevil. He called himself “Demolition Man,” but eventually went by just “D-Man.” D-Man went on to assist Steve Rogers on several missions. However, he lost his confidence after taking a beating from the much stronger supervillain, Titania. Following this fight, Dunphy would typically avoid battles with supervillains, even hiding from those he feared would expose his weakness. Dunphy went on to suffer several more losses. In one battle with the “Serpent Society,” he was poisoned by Viper. He was then arrested by the Commission on Superhuman Activities, where he was the victim of inhumane interrogation tactics. These traumatic experiences began to mount for Dunphy, who was eventually presumed dead following an explosion over the ocean. Return & Mental Breakdown D-Man resurfaced later, having survived the incident and spent time living with an Inuit tribe. The psychological effects from his trauma, paired with heart problems brought on by his past addiction to the strength augmenting pills given to him by the Power Broker, would prove too much for Dunphy to handle. It got so bad for Dunphy that, at one point, he found himself living with a group of homeless people in the sewer. Though he was always pure in his intentions as a hero, Dunphy was taken advantage of by several villains due to his fragile mental state. Dennis often had mental breakdowns and reminisced about his time serving as a partner to Captain America. During one of his lower points, he won an Avengers pie eating contest. Perhaps his lowest moment came when he was interviewed by Jessica Jones and Luke Cage to be their daughter’s nanny. Dennis cried during the interview, asking if Captain America ever mentions him anymore. Dennis was later brainwashed into becoming the new “Scourge of the Underworld,” which brought him face-to-face with his former friend and ally, Captain America. His anger toward his former partner almost resulted in Cap’s death, and was only averted after Scourge was fatally shot by Sharon Carter. Resurrection & Later Exploits Dunphy was seemingly killed and resurrected several times, landing many different odd jobs in between. At one point he became a pilot and mechanic for the new Captain America, Sam Wilson. After that, he returned to professional wrestling for a charity event, where he helped stop two criminals from stealing money from the event. More recently, Dennis was a security guard at the Ravencroft Institute for the Criminally Insane. Unfortunately, his bad luck streak hasn’t ended even in recent comics, as he was turned into a vampire during an uprising at the institute. What a life…
A major story event of planetary proportions is being teased for the X-Men! Marvel has promised that the biggest X-Men comic ever will be released this June, and it is set to bring about changes that will rock the X-Men franchise for years to come. The Biggest X-Men Comic Ever! If you are a long-time fan of the X-Men comic book series, chances are you remember the epic masterpiece that was Giant-Size X-Men #1. Published by Marvel back in 1975, this special issue ushered in an entirely new era of the X-Men, presenting a brand-new team, which was formed to rescue the old one. This comic book introduced readers to iconic mutants Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and (for those who weren’t familiar with him from his appearance in Hulk) Wolverine. This comic book served as the biggest and most important issue of the X-Men ever. 46 years later, Marvel promises to top that epic with Planet-Size X #1. The Future of Mutant-Kind is at Stake Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz are inviting readers to the inaugural Hellfire Gala, where the very first team of Krakoan X-Men are set to be revealed to the world. All of mutant-kind has gathered at the new nation of Krakoa. Gone are the days of mutants being an endangered species, as they have now become a global superpower. Now, differing factions of mutants are grasping for power within the nation. Everything is leading up to the night of the Hellfire Gala. Aside from the double-sided one-shot, this humongous event will span 12 different titles with entirely separate original stories that will converge into one singular night. Editor Jordan D. White is promising that Planet-Size X #1 will be the most important issue of the month, and he cites artist Pepe Larraz as the star of the series: “Make no mistake—this is an X-Men book drawn by superstar artist Pepe Larraz. It is absolutely the most important issue of the month.” “Pepe is absolutely the star of the X-line and he is doing the most amazing work of his career. You cannot miss this.” This event will spark the next great chapter in Johnathan Hickman’s current run on the X-Men saga, and promises to reveal the future of all mutant-kind.
Here on our blog section for forgotten comic book characters, we’ve taken a look at some of the most unique and bizarre characters of all time. Let’s just say this next one has a leg up (or several legs up) on the competition. Back during the Silver Age of comics, DC’s Wonder Woman faced off against a creature like no other, The Crimson Centipede. The Crimson Centipede made his debut appearance in Wonder Woman #169 (April 1967) The Origins of the Crimson Centipede This abomination was the creation of the God of War Mars (Ares). After he and Aphrodite had one of their eternal debates on whether anyone could defeat Wonder Woman, Mars sent the Crimson Centipede to Earth in an attempt to embarrass the Amazon Princess. While Wonder Woman was out and about with Steve Trevor, though under the guise of her alter ego, Diana Prince, the pair investigated gun shots coming from a nearby bank. Lo and behold, they found a strange centipede/man hybrid to be the perpetrator. Steve, being the stand-up guy that he is, attempted to stop the Crimson Centipede from getting away. His attempt was unsuccessful though and the Centipede knocked him unconscious. Wonder Woman Battles the Crimson Centipede This distraction did give Diana a chance to make the transformation into Wonder Woman, but her usual efforts at thwarting villains came up short. The Human Centipede showed his lightning quick reflexes by quickly knocking her away with his arms, avoiding her Lasso of Truth, and speeding away with the stolen bag of cash as fast as the wind. Watching from afar, Mars was pleased with his creation, and took the time to gloat to the beautiful Aphrodite. The Goddess of Love didn’t lose confidence though, and she warned Mars that things could go differently during the next confrontation. Doubt Creeps In Onlookers were surprised at Wonder Woman’s quick defeat, and they began to ponder whether she could defeat the creature. They didn’t have to wait long, as the two came to blows once again following another bank robbery. The results were much the same though. In another failed pursuit, Wonder Woman was knocked off of a building by the Centipede. At that point, doubt began to creep in on citizens, Steve, and even Diana herself. The Perfect Criminal As news continued to travel of Wonder Woman’s defeats at the hand of the Crimson Centipede, the villain began to spread his newly attained wealth to the criminal underworld, with the caveat being that the criminals continued to create more crime and chaos. As an emissary of Mars, the Crimson Centipede had no need for money. His only purpose was to humiliate and defeat Wonder Woman, to which Mars continued to take delight in observing. The Final Battle The two arch enemies came into confrontation one final time, and the Crimson Centipede made a grievous error during the battle. While the Centipede had the upper hand against Diana, she became distracted by Steve’s attempted interference. This caused a stray bullet to knock Diana unconscious. Seeing her magical bracelets as a threat, the Centipede removed them from her wrists. This caused Wonder Woman to go into a destructive frenzy, as removing an Amazon’s bracelets releases their unabated strength. The battle ended quickly and the Crimson Centipede was defeated once and for all, causing the God of War to curse Wonder Woman while Aphrodite grinned. The Legacy of the Crimson Centipede This version of the Crimson Centipede was never heard from again, and only appeared in flashbacks of later comic issues. Like many others, the creature’s existence was eventually erased during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, which saw the collapse of the original Multiverse. However, another more monstrous version of the Crimson Centipede was encountered by Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman in the Wonder Woman Steve Trevor Special in August 2017. This hideous creature was also defeated at the hands of the Amazon Princess.
The most efficient hunter of all time is coming to Marvel comics. Move over Kraven, because the Predator is set to begin his hunt in 2021. Marvel announced the arrival of the iconic monster franchise last July, along with Aliens, as well as Aliens vs Predator. These series will feature all-new stories that will include familiar and new characters. Both Aliens and Predator have carved out a huge piece of pop culture over the last 40 years, and Marvel looks to capitalize on a plethora of pre-existing source material. However, they also plan to explore never-before-seen corners of both universes, in an attempt to showcase some of the best stories never told. Predator Hunts the Marvel Universe To celebrate the arrival of the Predator, Marvel is releasing variant covers of several upcoming Marvel comic books. The iconic movie monster will be on the hunt for some of Marvel’s top superheroes in the form of six total variant covers set to be released this May. These awesome covers follow the release of several similarly themed Alien covers announced back in January. Some of the featured comic book heroes in the upcoming variants include Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Woman, Valkyrie, and Miles Morales: Spider-Man. These covers will depict artwork from some of the top talents in the industry including Cory Smith, Superlog, Mattia De Iulis, Juan José Ryp, Chris Sprouse, and Junggeun Yoon. Let’s take a look at the six covers and when they are set to be released! The first release is on May 5th with the variant cover of Amazing Spider-man #65, drawn by Cory Smith. That will be followed up on May 12th with two more variant covers: Fantastic Four #32 by Superlog & Spider-Woman #12 by Juan José Ryp. On May 19th, we get variant covers of both The Mighty Valkyries #2 by Junggeun Yoon & Guardians of the Galaxy #14 by Chris Sprouse. Finally, May 26th sees the release of Miles Morales: Spider-Man #26, with the variant cover by Mattia De Iulis. These variant covers should get the fan base pumped up for what is sure to be a major acquisition for Marvel. With the upcoming release of the Predator into the pages of Marvel comics, we may eventually get to see some epic faceoffs down the line. Imagine the Predator on the hunt for Wolverine. That would be a dream confrontation only previously seen in fan art or the YouTube series Super Power Beatdown! WOLVERINE vs PREDATOR – Super Power Beat Down (Episode 9)
The Avengers have been around for over 57 years now, and they have undergone several lineup changes, as well as hundreds upon hundreds of different members. In that time, they have also been involved in some of the greatest story lines in comic book history. These epic stories have led to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes dominating the big screen for the better part of the last decade. With that in mind, let’s take a look back at some of the top Avengers stories of all time, and examine what they meant to the continued success of the franchise. #10 Cap’s Kooky Quartet The Avengers went through their very first lineup change in Avengers #16. Stan Lee wanted to distance the comic from its DC counterpart, the Justice League. Therefore, Lee removed all the heavy hitters on the team, replacing them with a flawed group of ex-villains and keeping Captain America on as the leader of the team. Hawkeye, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch put their villainous pasts behind them and joined Cap in what would eventually be known as “Cap’s Kooky Quartet.” This foursome lasted for roughly 12 issues, and served as the first real test of whether or not the Avengers would stand the test of time. During this period, the Avengers came up against some major villains, including their first battle against Kang the Conqueror. Hawkeye would go on to be one of the longest enduring members of the team, eventually forming the West Coast Avengers. He was also cast as an original Avenger in the MCU’s Avengers. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver also would be featured in Avengers: Age of Ultron. #9 The Ultimates In 2002, Mark Millar and artist Bryan Hitch came up with the Ultimates, a modern re-telling of the origins of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The 13-issue series featured more mature themes and modernized art work. Bryan Hitch described his art as “widescreen, cinematic compositions,” and expressed an interest in taking the story to the big screen. Nick Fury was even re-designed with his new appearance based of actor Samuel L. Jackson. The Ultimates did end up serving as the primary inspiration for the MCU’s Avengers. Samuel L. Jackson was cast as Nick Fury, and the rest was history. This is a series worth going back to, or reading for the first time. The characters are much more flawed than the classic Earth-616 Avengers. #8 Behold the Vision The introduction of Ultron was one of the most important villain debuts in Marvel comics. Not long after his first appearance, Ultron created the Vision as another weapon to use against the Avengers. His two-part story started in Avengers #57, and served as a precursor to bigger things. Vision turned on Ultron soon after being unleashed upon the Avengers. This story dives deep into Vision’s psyche, exploring his humanity, and his attempts to reject the trauma brought on by the sins of his creator, Ultron. Vision became one of the mainstay members of the Avengers following this story. The traumatic relationship he and Ultron shared also bled into future Avengers comic books, as well as the movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron. #7 Captain America joins the Avengers Perhaps the most important moment in Avengers comic book history was the re-introduction of Captain America in Avengers #4. The character hadn’t been heard of since the 1950’s, and those stories were retconned as being a completely different character. Steve Rogers hadn’t actually officially been seen since 1945, when he was frozen in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Avengers discovered the man out of time, and he eventually became the most important member of the team’s entire history, serving as the heart and soul of the Avengers. In the MCU, Captain America was dubbed The First Avenger, and served as the final piece to the formation of the Avengers, much like he was in the comic books. #6 Ultron Unlimited Ultron is one of the Avengers’ most dangerous enemies, and has been a part of some of the best stories ever told in the publication’s history. In a story told decades after the character’s debut, writer Kurt Busiek added a new level of depth to the character’s history. A dark revelation is made that Ultron’s brain patterns are actually based off of his creator, Hank Pym, making him basically the incarnation of the darkest part of Pym’s brain. The story involved the Avengers facing off against a vast Ultron army. This storyline served as inspiration for the character’s MCU debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron. #5 Kang Dynasty Kang Dynasty is an absolute massive storyline spanning 16 issues, starting in Avengers #41 (Volume 3). Kang arrived on Earth, claiming to be its “protector.” He and his son then launched a massive takeover of the entire planet, including destroying the UN headquarters, and convincing many of Earth’s villains to help him by promising them part ownership of the conquered planet. The Avengers were forced to scatter in order to deal with the growing threat, and Captain America faced off against Kang in an epic final battle. Kang is one of the most well-known Avengers’ villains who has yet to debut in the MCU. Rumors are this is to change soon, as the MCU has plans for introducing the character soon. #4 New Avengers: Breakout While not on this list, Brian Michael Bendis’ Avengers: Disassembled storyline injected new life into the series by destroying the Avengers as we knew them. Several characters were killed or changed forever following this story. What emerged from the chaos was the ‘New Avengers.’ In New Avengers: Breakout, several heroes gathered at the Raft; a maximum-security supervillain prison that had been completely shut down after an attack from Electro. Former Avengers Captain America and Iron Man were joined by a ragtag group of heroes in order to quell the uprising, eventually forming the New Avengers. This story reinvigorated characters such as Spider-Woman and Luke Cage by bringing them into a major storyline that ended up spawning the Civil War,
Throughout the history of Marvel comics, several “what if” moments have occurred, providing readers with a glimpse of how events in the Marvel universe could have played out differently. What if Captain America hadn’t vanished during World War 2? What if Spider-Man had rescued Gwen Stacy? What if Venom had possessed the Punisher? These questions have all been addressed in Marvel’s popular “What If” comic book series. Marvel has also created many great alternate timeline story arcs such as Age of Apocalypse, Marvel Zombies, House of M, and Old Man Logan. These series provided a more in-depth look into what could be in the world of Marvel. Events such as these often spawned off of the death of a major character, the rise of a villain, or some mystical or cosmic interference. Now, Marvel Entertainment has just unveiled a new comic event in which the Avengers never existed, called Heroes Reborn. In this world, Iron Man never built his first suit of armor, Thor never lifted his hammer, and Captain America was never thawed out from ice. Though the Avengers were never formed, supervillains still rose to power. In place of the Avengers, another team of super powered heroes rose to the challenge, the Squadron Supreme of America. In this world, nobody remembers the previous reality, except for one man: Blade. The vampire hunter takes center stage in this story, as he tries to discover what caused this new reality to replace the previous one. On Monday, Marvel Entertainment released the announcement trailer on YouTube: Heroes Reborn Announcement Trailer | Marvel Comics The Wildest Story Ever Put on Paper Heroes Reborn is the brain-child of writer Jason Aaron and artist Ed McGuiness, fresh off of their recent Avengers run. The series will feature familiar, as well as brand-new villains who are opposing the Squadron Supreme. Readers can also expect to find out what many of the ‘would-be’ Avengers are up to in this reality. Jason Aaron shared some of his thoughts on the new comic in a press release from Marvel.com: “Maybe the wildest story I’ve ever put on paper. I got to cut loose on this and release my inner comic-reared child in a really profound way, and together with a cadre of immensely imaginative artists, we built a world that I’m pretty confident in saying is quite unlike any version of the Marvel Universe you’ve seen before.” Aaron talked about how the idea for this story came from the pages of his Avengers run, slowly building up over time. He also shared his excitement for the project, saying “This project really stoked the fires of my love for comics in all the right ways.” New Heroes, Familiar Villains Long-time Marvel fans will certainly recognize the familiar title of this new series. Back in 1996, Marvel debut the controversial Heroes Reborn storyline, in which the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, and Dr. Doom all “died” in the Onslaught: Marvel Universe crossover event. These characters were ‘reborn’ in an all-new universe, completely separate from the mainstream timeline. In this new world, their backstories were altered, and they had no prior memories of their previous life. Whether this new story relates to that one remains to be seen, though Marvel’s history of re-using titles for their major story arcs would indicate this to be an entirely separate and original event. One thing is for sure though, it’s going to be a wild ride. Heroes Reborn is set to launch this May.
We’re all familiar with Marvel’s resident Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange, but Stephen Strange was far from the first magically gifted doctor/sorcerer to grace the pages of Marvel comics. In fact, a certain forgotten “doctor” preceded him by 2 years. This is the story of Dr. Druid, or as he was known as back in 1961, Dr. Droom. *First appearance: Amazing Adventures #1 (June 1961) Dr. Droom: Sorcerer Supreme? Dr. Droom originally appeared way back in Amazing Adventures #1 (June 1961), a whole 5 months before Fantastic Four #1 changed the landscape of comic books forever. Dr. Anthony Ludgate was a graduate from Harvard with a psychology degree who developed an interest in the occult. He was contacted by a sick Tibetan Lama, who was actually the Ancient One searching for a successor as “Sorcerer Supreme.” Though the Ancient One did endow Druid with some magical powers, the good doctor would disappear into obscurity soon after, and Dr. Strange would instead take center stage. From Creation to Inspiration Created by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, Dr. Droom served as somewhat of a rough draft for the eventual Sorcerer Supreme, Dr. Strange. In an interview from 2011 in Alter Ego #104, Lee had this to say of the character: “I always liked [Doctor Droom], but I forgot about him. It was a one-shot thing. And one day while we were trying to think of some new heroes, I thought I’d like to bring back a magician. And I gave him the name Doctor Strange.” Dr. Droom is Reintroduced as Dr. Druid The character disappeared for several years, before being re-introduced to Marvel comics readers as Dr. Druid. He made several guest appearances in books such as The Incredible Hulk, Ghost Rider, and most notably the Avengers. In his first appearance as Dr. Druid, he helped the Hulk battle against Maha Yogi. Retaking Avengers Mansion & Joining the Team Starting in Avengers #276, Druid played a pivotal role in helping the Avengers defeat the Masters of Evil and retake Avengers Mansion. Druid used his psychic powers to break Baron Zemo’s mental control of Blackout, which turned the tide of the battle. For his role in retaking the mansion, Druid was given full membership on the team, becoming a mainstay for almost two years. Betrayal & Banishment to Limbo However, Druid’s time in the spotlight was severely threatened when he was forced by Terminatrix (disguised as Nebula) to mentally manipulate the other Avengers into making him Chairman. After Terminatrix was cast into Limbo, Druid was forced to follow her, as he was still under her control. This attempted takeover of the Avengers almost destroyed the team entirely, and several members stepped down out of guilt, or due to other obligations. Re-emergence & Death Dr. Druid eventually escaped Limbo and regained control of himself. He later took part in the Infinity War at the behest of Dr. Strange, joining with several other users of the mystic arts. Dr. Strange then put Druid in charge of the Secret Defenders for a time. Eventually, Druid finally received his own mini-series entitled “Druid.” The mature content of the series was very dark, and brought Dr. Druid into direct conflict with Daimon Hellstrom, who was the undisputed ruler of Hell at that point. Eventually, Druid’s lust for power got the better of him, and Hellstrom killed him. Though Druid would appear in sporadic comic issues following his death, it has always been in the form of an undead version or ghost of his former self. This makes Dr. Druid one of the few comic book characters whose death has remained permanent for over a decade. The Legacy of Dr. Druid The legacy of Dr. Druid is an interesting one. The character will always remain in the shadow of Dr. Strange despite preceding him by a few years. Stan Lee’s admittance that he forgot about the character before creating Dr. Strange speaks volumes of that. However, Dr. Druid did have a decent run as a member of the Avengers in the 80s, even if it isn’t one that’s remembered particularly fondly. Druid is not totally forgotten though. The Avengers did place a memorial statue of him in the garden of their mansion following his death. He was also briefly “resurrected” during the Chaos War. His son, Sebastion Druid, was also recruited by Nick Fury for his Secret Warriors in order to fight back against the Skrull infiltration during the Secret Invasion storyline.
What a strange and difficult year it has been. There were certainly plenty of high points in the comic world in 2020, but most everything has been overshadowed and marred by fear of the coronavirus. As 2020 comes to an end, it’s important for us to look forward and not backward. 2021 will be a new beginning for everyone. In the spirit of that mindset, today we are looking at 4 things to be excited about in 2021 in the world of comics! #1: Spider-Man Gets Some New Duds Spider-Man is getting a new costume design for 2021, and it’s unlike any previous incarnation. Gone is the classic red and blue garb (as well as the black), and in is a new tech-savvy design that is sure to give the wall-crawler an advantage in his coming battles against the Kingpin of Crime, Wilson Fisk. The modern design features a brand-new color scheme of white, blue, and orange. The new costume was designed in a collaborative effort by artist Dustin Weaver, writer Nick Spencer, and editor Nick Lowe. Weaver talked about the new design in an interview with Marvel.com: “This design was really a collaborative effort between Nick Spencer, Editor Nick Lowe, and I. They reined in the weirder and more tech-y features I was bringing and helped create something that I think is simple and both futuristic and classical,” Weaver says. “I can’t wait to see Patrick Gleason really bring it to life!” The new design can be seen in a variant cover by Weaver of Amazing Spider-Man #62, which comes out in March. #2: The Joker Gets His Own Limited Series The Clown Prince of Crime is getting his very own series in 2021, and we have a feeling it’s going to be no laughing matter. The series will be written by James Tynion IV, and drawn by Guillem March. This marks the first time in 45 years that Batman’s arch-nemesis has received a solo-run in DC comics. The storyline picks up following the events of The Joker War, and according to Tynion IV, Commissioner James Gordan plays a pivotal role in the story: “JOKER is a Horror Noir story by me and @GuillemMarch, and brings my favorite supporting character in the entire Gotham Mythos back to the forefront.” “As much as Joker is a Joker book, Joker is a JIM GORDON book.” Look for this book to hit stands in March. #3: King in Black Saga Continues! Perhaps the biggest comic book storyline in 2020 has been the emergence of Venom as an A-list character in the Marvel Universe. Donny Cates has had a brilliant run writing Venom, and has captured the minds of comic book readers everywhere. Cates has plenty more in store for Eddie Brock, his son Dylan, and the God of Symbiotes in 2021. This brings us to Marvel’s most recent major event, King in Black, which has finally seen the long-awaited debut of Knull, the God of Symbiotes. Created by Ryan Stegman, Knull has already proven himself to be one of the heavy-hitters in Marvel Comics’ enormous gallery of villains. Even the strongest heroes of Earth have fallen before Knull, and his wrath will continue to be felt through 2021. #4: Venom: Let There Be Carnage! Speaking of everyone’s favorite symbiote anti-hero, Venom will also be making waves again on the big screen in 2021, with the release of Venom: Let There Be Carnage. Tom Hardy will reprise his role from the original, and he will come face-to-face with Woody Harrelson, who will portray the psychopathic madman Cletus Kasady, aka Carnage. This is a moment that many fans have long-awaited, as Carnage’s arrival on the big screen has been rumored since the release of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3 back in 2007. Perhaps one interesting “Easter egg” that can be derived from the film’s cast is that Naomie Harris will portray Shriek, a fellow patient at Ravencroft Mental Institution. This is enticing, because Shriek’s biggest role to date in Marvel comics was in the epic Maximum Carnage arc in 1993, where she became Carnage’s “lover.” Could we see seeds of that storyline brought to life in Venom 2? Stay tuned! Venom: Let There be Carnage is scheduled to be released in theatres on June 25th.
You’d Better Watch Out To help celebrate the Christmas spirit, we’re taking a look back at a classic Christmas story told in the pages of Spectacular Spider-Man #112. This Christmas tale has it all: Santa Claus, Spider-Man, a new version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” and armed robbery. Okay, so maybe that last one isn’t very Christmassy. Stay tuned though. There’s a happy ending. Our story begins on Christmas Eve, where a “last minute shopper” steals the perfect Christmas gift and makes his escape from the store. The thief makes his getaway through a back alley while proclaiming: “Macy’s always has such a great selection.” (Surely, Macy’s appreciated the free advertisement this issue provided.) Unfortunately for this thieving Scrooge, Spider-Man happened to be in the neighborhood. After finding himself trapped in the web of Spider-Man, thief Joe Krolik pleads for the wall-crawler to let him go, cooking up a sob story about how he stole the present for his dying mother, whose clavicle is “inoperable.” Spider-Man scoffs at the notion before leaving the scene as the female robbery victim and a police officer arrive. Joe tells the woman the same sob story, and she falls for it, deciding not to press charges. While thanking the young lady for her kindness, the crook takes his leave. She wishes him a Merry Christmas and then realizes he just stole her watch, as the police officer grins in amusement of her naivety. Meanwhile, Peter Parker heads to the lobby of the Daily Bugle looking for work. He runs into Joy Mercado, who kisses him underneath some mistletoe. Joy tells Peter that she can’t stay and chat as she’s working on a story about the string of recent night-time robberies. Feeling that he isn’t needed anywhere, Peter calls his Aunt May, who is distracted when a stove pot begins to boil over. Mistaking her distraction for disinterest, Peter says goodbye and hangs up. He then reaches out to Robbie Robertson, asking what his holiday plans are. Robbie says his son is coming into town, but before he can invite Peter over for Christmas, he is interrupted. Peter leaves disappointed, pondering whether he should just go back home to his dingy apartment. Bad Santa Later, at a local mall, a little boy named Jordan is telling a mall Santa what he wants for Christmas. In a show of the times, he asks for an Optimus Prime action figure and Raiders of the Lost Ark videotape. The boy mentions that his mother (whose name is Bambi) and her roommates (Candi and Randi) recently bought a new VCR. “Santa” seems pleased with this information and asks for the boy’s address, which happens to be in the same apartment building as Peter Parker. (Kids… Never trust a mall Santa.) Peter continues to strike out on finding anyone to spend Christmas with. Harry Osborne is busy dealing with his evil toddler and Mary Jane Watson is taking a bath. Meanwhile, Felicia Hardy calls Peter but quickly hangs up. Felicia is still struggling with her feelings for Peter and decides to go out as the Black Cat again, where she stops a couple thieves from robbing a mink coat store. She briefly contemplates keeping the coats, but in keeping with the holiday spirit, instead donates them to two “bag ladies” warming themselves by a trash can. ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas Peter Parker decides to spend Christmas Eve alone in his apartment with his black suit, which he drapes over a kitchen chair and pours a coke for. (What a sad way to spend Christmas.) Peter falls asleep, unknowing of the robbery about to take place next door. Poor Bambi, Randi, and Candi are being visited by the Bad Santa.This is the best page in the book as we’re treated to a twisted version of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” including a great Tom Selleck reference. Bambi wakes up to find Santa stealing all their Christmas presents. While the deranged Kris Kringle holds Bambi at gun point, Peter’s spider-sense warns him of the danger next door. He quickly puts on his costume and crashes the attempted robbery. Jordan, Candi, and Randi come out of their rooms, and the fake Santa uses the commotion to make his escape to the roof. Once the imposter makes his way to the roof, he is surprised to find the real Santa Claus waiting for him, and he is not amused. Spider-Man follows in hot pursuit, but when he reaches the roof, the imposter is already gone. A Merry Christmas Peter is woken up the next morning by a phone call from Kate Cushing, who tells him the Daily Bugle Santa was found locked in a storage locker. The imposter Santa had taken his place and was giving out presents. When Peter arrives at the Bugle, he asks why the imposter hasn’t been arrested. The police officer on the scene explains that the imposter turned himself in, along with all the stolen loot, and is giving out hand-made toys. The reformed Santa tells Peter that he has changed and asks if he wants to take a picture. To prove his point, he hands Peter a note from the real Santa which reads “Call your aunt! Merry Christmas.” Peter happily spends Christmas morning with his Aunt May, Mary Jane Watson, and her Aunt Anna.
King in Black Looks to The Past for the Future, Sending Comic Collectors Searching for an Obscure 40-Year-Old Comic Book
If you are a comic book fan who hasn’t been living under a rock for the last couple of years, you’re probably familiar with the ongoing Marvel comics crossover event King in Black, which begins with the much-awaited arrival of Knull, the God of all symbiotes. This is the biggest crossover of the year and is the brain child of writer Donny Cates, who has officially made Venom an A-List character in the world of Marvel comics. Everything Cates has worked on for the last several years is finally culminating in this epic crossover, but the seeds of this culmination go back much further than you think. In fact, they go back to a relatively obscure back issue drawn by Steve Ditko 40 years ago. A 40-year-old comic book finds new meaning. That issue is Marvel Spotlight #9, and until recently, you could pick it up in a discount bin at any comic book store. The issue also contains a villain that was, back then, considered inconsequential at best. In the issue, a shadowy villain named Mr. E takes a host in the form of a scientist for NASA. He then infects an entire hospital, turning staff and patients into shadow-like slaves to his own will. Mr. E comes up with an elaborate scheme to kill all life on Earth by turning the sun into a black star, but is ultimately defeated by Captain Universe, who seemingly causes Mr. E to fly directly into the sun and perish. The story utilizes the average comic book “villain of the month” formula that was common for the series in 1980. Nobody ever expected to see Mr. E again. Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black links to the past. Of course, that was before Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black #1 was released last month. Written by Peter David and drawn by Greg Land, the first issue of this series takes place sometime after Peter Parker originally obtained the infamous black symbiote suit. Alistair Smythe is locked up in Ravencroft Institute, when he’s visited by a figure who looks just like his deceased father. The figure reveals that it needs a host to survive, and gives Alistair instructions to create a formula that will make him walk again. Meanwhile, Uatu the Watcher is taken captive by Kang the Conqueror, who attempts to extract knowledge from Uatu’s brain in order to “save the universe.” This backfires after Uatu uses his own power to obtain all of Kang’s knowledge, causing the computer to short circuit and destroy Kang’s ship. Alistair injects himself with the formula he was instructed to make, and becomes the new host for the mysterious entity that visited him. He releases the formula into the ventilation, causing the Ravencroft staff to turn into the same shadow slaves from Marvel Spotlight #9. Spider-Man then comes face to face with Smythe, who reveals himself to be Mr. E, the very same villain last seen 40 years ago. Recognizing the black suit as a symbiote, Mr. E believes him to be an ally. Peter Parker doesn’t yet know anything about the symbiotes, and declares Mr. E as his enemy. A skirmish takes place and eventually the Black Knight gets involved. Before retreating, Mr. E states “Creation moves forward. Uncreation moves backwards” and disappears. In the final pages, Kang is floating in space before being taken in by a wandering ship, which is captained by the Guardians of the Galaxy’s own Rocket Racoon. What does all this mean? So, what does all this mean? Well for starters, Marvel Spotlight #9 just went way up in value. A comic that you could once find in most discount bins has collectors scrambling through their own collections, and comic shop owners searching through their inventory. Ebay sellers are now listing the issue anywhere from $60 to $150 online. Secondly, it means the King in Black comic event may be full of twists and throwbacks that put even the Secret Invasion to shame. Lastly, it means that comic book writers still have plenty of lore to dive into when it comes to obscure characters that have long since been forgotten. Who knows? Maybe one of the subjects of our very own blog series of the same name could become a major player in a future comic book series. Stay tuned!
For the first entry in our new retro comic review blog series, we are taking a look at Avengers #196, which was published in June of 1980. This issue features the first full appearance of Taskmaster, who briefly made a cameo appearance at the end of Avengers #195, having been revealed as the head of a combat training facility infiltrated by the Avengers. The Terrible Toll of The Taskmaster After revealing himself to be the man in charge of the secret supervillain training compound, Taskmaster takes Wasp, Yellowjacket, and Ant Man hostage. In classic fashion for a villain of this era, Taskmaster takes little time in showing off his own abilities. He offers to pay $10,000 to a group of his own henchmen to try and take him down. Naturally, they all fail, only serving to showcase Taskmaster’s photographic muscle memory ability. In the brief skirmish, he mimics moves he learned from watching Captain America, Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Hawkeye. Despite running these supervillain training facilities for years undetected, Taskmaster apparently can’t let an opportunity to show off his own skill be wasted. “It Just Comes Natural” The onlookers are shocked at the amazing display of skill and physical prowess. Wasp questions how Taskmaster could be so adept, to which he replies: “It just comes natural.” At this point, Tasky reveals that from a young age, he developed photographic reflexes which he decided to utilize for financial gains. Though he briefly considered becoming a superhero, he ultimately came to the conclusion that there was more money in crime. Rather than risk jail time as a run-of-the-mill villain, he instead opened up several secretive henchman training facilities. After all, the bad guys have to get their henchmen somewhere. After revealing his origin, Taskmaster next turns his ire on his administrator, Dr. Pernell Solomon, for allowing the Avengers to discover their facility. Though he gives Dr. Solomon an opportunity to defeat him in one-on-one combat, the frail doctor suffers a heart attack and dies. Outside the facility, the rest of the Avengers await any word from Yellowjacket, Ant Man, and Wasp. We get a great sense of the friendship that has developed between Beast and Wonder Man, which even Iron Man seems to be impressed by, having himself experienced the friction of earlier incarnations of the Avengers. Ant Man then sends out several ants as an S.O.S. to let them know they are in trouble. Avengers Assemble! The Avengers burst onto the scene and demand Taskmaster’s surrender. However, the villain sees this as an opportunity to test out some of his trainees. While the Avengers take the fight to the henchmen, Captain America and Iron Man chase down Taskmaster and engage in battle with him. Taskmaster is excited to show off his skills against the very heroes that he has studied for years. He goes blow for blow with Captain America before anticipating Iron Man’s repulsor blast, countering with a disruptor arrow before he can strike. Taskmaster considers taking on all the Avengers in one-on-one combat before retreating instead. The Great Escape As the Avengers finish off the henchmen, Jocasta stalls Taskmaster. Taskmaster has never seen Jocasta before and therefore is unable to anticipate her moves. The rest of the Avengers join in. Just before they can apprehend him, he uses a magnesium flare to make his final escape. The story comes to an end with Captain America expressing his appreciation to Jocasta for preventing Taskmaster from doing any more damage, officially welcoming her to the Avengers. A Worthy Origin Story Overall, this is one of the better supervillain origin issues. Taskmaster being an unseen criminal training instructor is a great way to introduce him to Marvel comics. The story makes sense and it gives a little more depth and explanation as to where some of the front-line henchmen come from. This character introduction also leaves ample opportunity for flashbacks, since it is revealed that Taskmaster has been at this for years.
If you’ve ever been to a comic expo of some kind, chances are you’ve probably bought artwork from one of the vendors, or at the very least, taken the time to observe and appreciate the prints on display above one of their booths. Either way, with the sheer abundance of artists who gather at these events, there’s bound to be a few that caught your eye. Maybe you bought a print of one of your favorite comic book characters from an artist, and it inspired a vision for a custom work of art that you desire. Alternatively, perhaps you’re a fan of a specific artist’s work, but his or her collection doesn’t line up with your own fandom. If either of these are the case, you might consider whether the artist is willing to commission a sketch for you personally. This can be a collaborative and rewarding experience, but also intimidating if you’ve never asked before. Here are some tips for commissioning a sketch from your favorite artist. The first thing you are going to want to do is pick an artist. Now you may already have an artist in mind, which is fine, but artists are very busy people. Clearly, you picked this artist for their talent, and that means they’re probably already in high demand. This means they may already be backed up with work. If you’re lucky, they may put you on a waiting list, but it’s up to you to determine if you’re willing to wait. It may be time to gather a list of other artists that you enjoy. If your first choice is a no-go, it’s time to start researching artists. You can always research artists online. You can do a Google search for artists whose styles catch your eye, check social media platforms, or browse art sites such as deviantart.com. Search for keywords that fit your style, and pick a few that meet your own personal preference. Research the artists you chose and then contact them. Just checking the artist’s website may provide you with answers as to whether they do commission work and how much they charge. The best way to get in touch with them is usually directly through email. When contacting them, be as clear as possible about what you’re looking for. Communication is absolutely key in these situations. Explain to them what kind of work you’d like done. Just as you may decide an artist’s work does not match what you’re looking for, the artist may also decide that what you’re asking for does not match their own specialty. Also, don’t withhold important information on what you’d like done. For instance, don’t tell the artist at the last minute that you are wanting several more characters in your sketch. Do not waste an artist’s time. Whatever you do, don’t waste somebody’s time. If you see that the artist lists a specific fee for commissions on their website and your budget won’t cover it, don’t try to negotiate a lower fee. Always have your budget in mind. If you go into this arrangement lacking tact, this person will not ever want to work with you. Be courteous always. Again, these artists value their time and they do not have to work with you, so please be kind and courteous when discussing business with them. A negative experience does nothing for either of you. On the other hand, having a pleasant exchange may allow you to do business again. Be sure to finish up by discussing all the terms of the contract. Setting clear expectations ensures a positive and professional experience for both parties. Be sure to outline in the contract details such as your full name, as well as the artist’s full name, and the current date. Price, payment method, as well as a time frame should all be included in the contract. Be as clear and concise as possible with your expectations.
The Origins of The Wall If you’re familiar with the site, you have probably read our blog series “Where Are They Now: Forgotten Comic Book Characters.” In searching for the next subject for that series, we stumbled across a unique comic book character. This is a character so obscure, that he only ever appeared in one comic book. Because of the fact that the character never appeared again, this entry is going to be a little different. We are taking a look at quite possibly the strangest, most ludicrous, and most obscure character in comic book history. I’m talking about “The Wall.” *First and only appearance: “Spidey Super Stories #8 (May 1975) Now that sounds like a cool name for a comic book villain, right? One might initially assume to liken this character’s abilities to that of The Blob, Colossus, or maybe Juggernaut. Well… Sort of.. Not exactly… The Wall’s powers are a little bit different. You see, The Wall is literally a wall with legs. A Happy Boy Becomes a Wicked Wall Okay, let’s go back to the beginning. Surely, an origin story will shed some light on this perplexing character. You see, The Wall was once just like any other high school student in the 1970s. In fact, The Wall was born a normal boy by the name of Joshua Waldemeyer (Oh, I see what they did there). Like many students during this era, Josh worked a part-time job in his free time. He worked as a brick layer. Unfortunately for Josh, a very common occurrence in 1970s comic books occurred that would change his life forever; A sudden explosion toppled the brick wall that he and his boss (who for some reason looks like a mad scientist) were working on, burying poor Josh in the rubble. “That blast turned the happy boy into the Wicked Wall!” As the Wall, Josh possessed superhuman abilities. Aside from the fact that he literally turned into a walking brick wall, he also was granted superhuman strength as well as the durability of concrete. Josh was also able to move at a speed far greater than that of a normal brick wall. Choosing a Life of Crime (Trespassing and 2 counts of assault) One quiet day, Peter Parker decided to go to a Mets game while wearing his Spider-Man costume. For some reason, which has never been determined, The Wall decided he wanted to wreck Spidey’s off day. Rather than kidnapping his girlfriend or robbing a bank, the Wall had a much more nefarious scheme in mind. He decided to manipulate the ongoing baseball game by knocking out a player before he could catch a fly ball. This confused the umpire as, after leveling the outfielder, the ball then sailed over The Wall. Technically speaking, this meant the batter hit a home run. The umpire then quickly pulled out his handy baseball rule book, as something of this nature was completely unprecedented. However, before the umpire could make a ruling, The Wicked Wall struck again, knocking the ump to the ground. At this point, everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood Spider-Man got involved, striking The Wall with the full momentum of his spider-strength. This had no effect on the concrete colossus. Spider-Man then used his webbing to ensnare the Wall before the umpire came to and ejected both of them from the game. What Ever Became of The Wall? This story has a happy ending though. It appears that whatever their differences were, Spider-Man and the Wall came to an understanding, as they were last seen sitting outside the stadium on a bench together. Perhaps Spidey talked some sense into Waldemeyer as the Wall never appeared again. Maybe he wasn’t so wicked after all.
Venom Island to Venom Beyond After the events of Venom Island, Donny Cates sets the stage for the biggest Venom story of the character’s history. If there was any concern about this story burning out quickly, it’s been crushed under the weight of the epic new Venom Beyond story arc. At the end of Venom #25, readers were left with a small taste of what was to come for Eddie Brock and his son Dylan. This came in the form of a two-page montage that revealed the arrival of several key characters such as Virus, the God of Symbiotes Knull, the Maker, and an unknown figure bearing a familiar insignia on his chest. Helping Cates to bring this new epic to life are artists Iban Coello, Juan Gedeon and Jesus Aburtov. Venom #26 Starting with Venom #26, Eddie and Dylan’s story picks up some time later. The first page opens with an unknown man running for his life down a back alley as a shadowy figure pursues him. He runs into Eddie Brock, who reveals that he lured the man to him by using his separated Venom symbiote. Brock then bonds with the symbiote and, as Venom, informs the man that he can lie to them or he can live, but not both. Eddie is Hell-bent on finding answers about what is happening to his son Dylan. Apparently, this man gave them the location of just the person they needed. As they make their departure, Venom and Dylan are quietly pursued by the mysterious new character, Virus. They arrive at the location, and Dylan comments that it’s “just some warehouse.” Eddie tells Dylan “Lots of crazy things can be hidden in warehouses.” Inside, they find the Maker building some kind of portal to another universe. Both the Venom symbiote and Dylan warn Eddie that something is wrong. The Maker tells them he’s leaving, and then reveals that he has his own lab-created symbiote. Venom attempts to stop the Maker but is overpowered. Before the fight can continue, Virus bursts through the front door equipped with a Goblin glider and pumpkin bombs. During the attack, Virus screams at Brock for ruining his life and says he’ll kill him and his son. Before Virus can reveal his identity, a stray pumpkin bomb damages the portal, pulling all four of them through. The Maker ends up landing in his home universe which is desolate, while Venom and Dylan end up somewhere unknown. Venom #27 In issue #27, Venom and Dylan attempt to figure out where they are before Virus surprises them with a sneak attack. Eddie pushes Dylan out of the way, before being knocked off of a tall building. The two exchange threats as the symbiote warns Brock that Virus is using anti-symbiote tech. As a battle to the death ensues, the symbiote seems distracted. It tells Eddie that it has never been this close to a hive mind, and it is receiving interference. The symbiote eventually gathers itself, telling Eddie it has learned new abilities. It shows Eddie how to use these new abilities by absorbing the energy from Virus’s cannon and then directing it back at him, seemingly taking Virus out of commission for the time being. Venom returns to the rooftop after sensing Dylan is in danger. There, he finds an alternate version of the Avengers, who appear to be wearing the Venom symbol on their costumes. Captain America orders Eddie to stand down and remove his symbiote. Eddie tells Cap that he knows him, which Cap denies and again orders him to remove the suit. Before they can come to blows, Virus re-emerges, attacking Venom. Captain America orders the Avengers to assemble against Virus while Venom and Dylan sneak away. Virus seemingly destroys Captain America, but then it is revealed that Cap and the rest of the Avengers are made up entirely of symbiotes. Cap reforms and the Avengers take Virus to the Hive, where their leader Codex awaits. Venom and Dylan sneak through the sewers, where they are approached by five dark figures wearing Agent Venom symbiote suits. One approaches and reveals herself to be Anne Weying, Eddie’s deceased wife. Venom #28 In issue #28, Codex approaches a giant lab run by this world’s Dr. Octopus. Inside one of the test tubes is Virus, now separated from his suit but still unrecognizable. Codex asks if the symbiote he ordered to be attached to Virus has bonded yet. Dr. Octopus informs him that the symbiote is strangely apprehensive about bonding with the subject. Codex orders the symbiote be killed if it doesn’t bond. He then begins interrogating Virus, who tells him that he is from another world and chased Eddie Brock and his son through a portal to this one. Codex gets incensed at the name “Brock” and orders Virus to tell him everything. Meanwhile, Anne explains to Eddie that in her world, Eddie Brock committed suicide in the church bell tower after losing his job. Because of this, the Venom symbiote instead bonded with Anne due to her grief and anger, eventually spawning offspring of its own. Anne introduces them to her team of symbiotes, Peter Parker, Wade Wilson, Andi Benton, and Cletus Kasady. Brock immediately questions the addition of Kasady before Parker’s spider-sense warns them of an impending attack. Symbiote versions of Juggernaut, Sabretooth, Omega Red, Wolverine, and the Thing then appear. As the battle intensifies, the heroes make their escape after Wade uses a bomb to blow up himself and Codex’s symbiotes. Back at the Hive, Dr. Octopus reveals to Codex that they have achieved full symbiosis with Virus. Codex orders Doc Ock to release Virus and then asks him to take a new name. The big mystery of Virus’s identity is finally revealed as none other than former Venom host Mac Gargan, The Scorpion. Codex orders Gargan to swear allegiance to him. At the same time, Anne and the other agents take Venom and Dylan back to their home base and introduce them to
If you are a comic book collector, chances are you make a great effort in caring for your collection. Maybe you never plan on selling your collection, but you still want your books to be in as pristine condition as possible. On the other hand, maybe you’ll come to a point where necessity demands a bit of extra cash, so selling some classic comic books might help you out in a financial bind. In the latter’s case, getting the most money out of whatever you’re selling is essential. It is unfortunately still likely that your comic collection may accumulate imperfections over the years, in spite of your vigilance in keeping it well protected. Even with extreme precautions, it’s not uncommon to find warped or wrinkled pages in some of your comics. Of course, you do have options. Assuming your comic book is only warped and not ripped or stained, there are methods to treat crinkled pages. One such option is a technique called comic book pressing. This is a process through which a comic book is flattened out as much as possible. A press uses heat to smooth out any wrinkles or imperfections. This works very well as long as the imperfection hasn’t already broken the color of the pages. More often than not, the results are so good that the book can appear brand new. Comic book pressing is something that is considered to be a professional trade, and as such, the details are considered a trade secret among many people in the comic book industry. This can make it difficult to find exact step-by-step details about the process. So where can you get a comic book pressed? Believe it or not, most book retailers and comic book stores own comic presses. Just ask your local comic retailer for details. Otherwise, there are a plethora of places you can find online that will press comic books. In many cases, collectors would rather learn the process themselves. It is a pain to have to pay every time you need to press a comic, and most collectors have a great amount of them. The good news is, despite being a trade secret among professionals, there are many sources and guides online for DIY pressing. In fact, you can buy a comic press from online retailers such as Amazon. It can be a process to learn, and many will still claim that paying a trained professional is the better route. However, with some simple trial and error, you can learn to be proficient with a comic press. Simply practicing for a while with bargain bin comics is the best way to get better. If you plan on sending your comic books to the CGC to be graded, it is a fantastic idea to get them pressed beforehand. It may make a big difference on the grade they receive. Doing this, and following some of the other tips we’ve covered in our previous blog on selling your comic books, will ensure you receive the most out of your investment.
To the casual collector, reselling old comic books can seem like a daunting process that looks something like this… Step 1: Own a comic book Step 2: List it for sale… somewhere… Step 3: ??? Step 4: Profit. Hopefully. That’s why we’re here to help. By following a few simple guidelines, you can maximize your sale price and get the most money possible from selling your old issues. Ensure your comic book collection is well protected. If you’ve been collecting comic books for a while, you probably already know that it is vital to protect your investment. If you’re planning on selling a collection of comics that are bent, torn, or unprotected, you’re not going to make much of a profit. Fortunately for you, here at Vanguard Comics and Collectibles, we’ve already covered some tips for keeping your comic books in good condition. Another helpful piece of knowledge to have is understanding the concept of the grading scale. In the world of comic books, even the slightest tear or bend can hurt your grade. When you own graded comic books, it is important to understand the grading system. CGC uses a 10-point grading scale when evaluating comics. While we won’t go into immense detail of the grading scale in this blog, there are a few general things you should know about it. For instance, anything at 9.4 or above is considered near-mint. Though 9.2 (NM-) and 9.0 (VF/NM) are still considered near-mint, they are considered on the low end of it. Depending on the comic, a grade of 9.2 can actually see a significant drop in value from that of a 9.4. A comic at 8.0 and above is considered very fine (VF). Anything less than that, and the comic starts to accumulate some minor to severe defects. Decide whether to sell the comics yourself online, or find a reputable vendor who buys comics. If you really want to get the most money out of your comics, selling them online is your best route. This will involve more work of course, but it puts the power in your own hands as far as what you want to gain from your collection. If you go this route, be extremely detailed in your description of what you’re selling. This is also where having graded comics comes in handy, as having them professionally graded takes most of the descriptive legwork away. If, alternatively, you decide to sell your comics directly to a vendor, be sure to find one with a good reputation. When you opt to go this route, you must understand that the vendor’s only priority is to make a profit. They do this for a living and you should never expect to make a huge profit for yourself this way. Usually this route is better reserved for collectors who are hurting for space or are in a hurry to unload their collection. One last tip is to decide whether to sell your comic individually or in a lot. Much like the decision above on how to sell your comics, one of these options (usually) includes more work for a higher profit. If you have comics that are considered key issues or rare, it is usually better to sell them individually, as you will probably garner a higher profit this way. However, if you are selling a specific collection with no major key issues, you might be better suited to sell them all together. One thing you may not want to do, is sell a random assortment of comic books together in one auction. While there’s nothing innately wrong with doing so, most buyers are looking for something specific, and therefore may not wish to buy a mixed collection of Marvel, DC, Image, and the likes.
For this edition of our blog series, “Where Are They Now: Forgotten Comic Book Characters,” we are taking a look at Marvel’s Americop, who made his first appearance in Captain America #428 in June of 1994. As you can probably surmise by the character’s name and the year of origin, Americop was a prototypical 90s representation of a classic character archetype (What a mouthful, huh?). No doubt, he was inspired by popular fictional vigilante police characters such as Robocop and Judge Dredd. Background Former Houston police officer Bartholomew Gallows was a man with a strong sense of justice. After years of trying to play by the rules, Gallows became disillusioned with the justice system’s inability to protect citizens from an increasingly lawless world. It was in that moment that he decided to take matters into his own hands. He immediately resigned from the Houston police force and stepped into the persona of Americop. Americop used his vast experience as a police officer to track down the worst of the worst criminals. Armed with state-of-the-art 1994 police equipment like a nightstick, .45 caliber pistol, Kevlar body armor, and a net gun (for some reason), he often acted as judge, jury, and executioner in cleaning up the streets of Houston. So essentially, he’s a way less cool version of the Punisher. While tracking some missing children, Americop came into contact with Captain America. Naturally, Steve Rogers did not approve of Americop’s methods and the two clashed. Eventually the search led them both to a millionaire’s mansion in New Orleans, where their infighting distracted them long enough to be captured. Americop managed to escape, killing many of the criminals before destroying the helicopter that their leader, Damon Dran, was fleeing in. After that, Americop seemingly disappeared. So, what became of America’s self-appointed top cop? During Marvel’s Civil War, Thunderbolts leader Norman Osborn sent Bullseye and Penance to capture the gruff vigilante Americop in the Thunderbolts One-shot: Desperate Measures in September 2007. In the ensuing battle, Americop was left broken and bleeding, and later paralyzed. Eventually Gallows succumbed to his injuries and died, a sad ending for a man that never really found his bearings as a hero. Americop may have died, but not without leaving a legacy, albeit not one he would have likely appreciated. After his death, his code name and costume were appropriated by Keane Industries for their new private police initiative known as “the Americops.” The initiative became surrounded in controversy however, as many of the members were particularly hostile to certain citizens. They were accused of using excessive force, harassment, and specifically targeting minorities. Eventually, after Hydra took over the United States under the leadership of a brainwashed Captain America who was suffering the effects of becoming a Hydra sleeper agent by the Cosmic Cube Kobic, the Americops became the main police force in the U.S. Once the evil regime was defeated, the Americops were seized by Wolfgang Von Strucker for his own nefarious use. It remains to be seen if the Americops are truly gone for good after they were struck down at the hands of the Daughters of Liberty in Captain America #11 from August, 2019. Only time will tell what the final legacy is for Bartholomew Gallows’ Americop.
Though the series up to this point has had somewhat of a slow build, finally Thor and Galactus come to behold the all-consuming entity known as the Black Winter. However, things may not be as they seem. A New Beginning After taking over as writer after the great Thor run by Jason Aaron, Donny Cates has put his own personal stamp on the series. Though the story has moved at a slow-burn pace at times, Cates has been building to a big reveal. As you might expect, the results are both magnificent and unpredictable. Thor #5 is no exception, as the story ends with a huge twist. A Cosmic New Threat The story opens with Sif and Beta Ray Bill discussing the Black Winter and Thor’s reign as king. They bring into question his actions to this point. Sif questions Thor’s competence as king, while Bill remains more optimistic. From there, things really take off. Galactus and Thor find themselves overwhelmed by the entity known as The Black Winter. Despite their best efforts, the two are no match for the cosmic being. The Black Winter proceeds to focus his attention specifically on Thor. He gets into the thunder God’s mind, and asks if he’d like to know how he dies. Visions of Old Foes To the surprise of Thor, apparitions appear of some of his greatest foes. Seeing the likes of Gorr the God Butcher, Loki, and Fin Fang Foom brought to life by Nic Klein’s beautiful artwork mixed with Matt Wilson’s grainy and naturalistic coloring is a sight to behold. The Black Winter makes reference to how Thor has had several potential deaths, but claims to be the only one who knows how the King of Asgard will truly perish. In spite of his bravado, Thor knows that the entity’s words ring true. As he desperately fights back with all the power of Mjolnir, Thor dares the Black Winter to show him his end. The Big Twist This is where the big twist comes in (spoiler alert!). As Thor and Galactus gather themselves, The Black Winter vows to show Thor the truth. He tells Thor he has not come here to consume his universe. He explains that there are worse threats to the universe than he on the horizon. The Black Winter goes on to say that Galactus has been hiding the truth. He reveals that he is here for only one purpose: to reclaim Galactus, who is actually his Herald. Storytelling at its Finest When it comes to storytelling, one can always count on Donny Cates to put forth a Herculean effort. Many have been critical of the story up to this point, with some even claiming that it fell into far too many tropes. However, Cates has the ability to lure viewers into a false sense of complacency before hitting them with a left hook of “did that just happen?” That’s exactly what occurred in this story. It’s easy for readers to assume the narrative of Thor becoming a Herald of Galactus was just lazy writing, but it was actually integral to the big reveal at the end of this issue. At some point, readers are going to stop doubting Cates. Thus far, his Thor run has been a strange and wonderful ride.
Collecting comic books can be an enjoyable and rewarding hobby. For some, it can be about having as many great stories as possible to read. For others, the thrill of collecting in itself is the driving motivation behind the hobby. Regardless of which categories you fall into as a collector, there is one shared aspect that all collectors must face: How do I ensure my collection is protected and stored properly? Once again, you are in luck because we’ve got you covered with some great tips on bagging and storing your collection. Most everyone knows that after purchasing a comic book, it is of vital importance that you bag and board the book to protect it. However, it’s not as simple as using any old bag and board. Use what’s available to you in the moment of course, but sometimes certain bags can actually do long-term damage to your comic books. There are typically three different types of comic bags: polypropylene, polyethylene, and mylar. Polypropylene is widely considered the worst option, but it is also the cheapest. These bags are fine for short-term storage, but they begin to yellow after a while. Polyethylene is the standard choice, as they last much longer than the polypropylene bags. They are also stronger and don’t let as much light in. They can last up to 8 years, but should be changed sooner. Mylar is extremely durable but also very expensive. It’s made of a much thicker material and can essentially last a lifetime. Mylar should be used for comic books which have significant value. Make sure you also understand which size bag to use depending on the era of the comic book. There are three major eras of comic books with variances in size: The Golden Age (1940s and earlier), Silver Age (1950s–1980s), and the Current Age (1980s–now). The Golden Age bags are the largest at 7 ¾” by 10 ½.” The Silver Age bags are 7 1/3” by 10 ½.” Lastly, the Current Age are 6 7/8” by 10 ½.” This is important to distinguish so that you never try and fit a comic into a bag that’s too small, and that a comic also doesn’t have too much room to slide around. There is one very important piece of knowledge to consider when choosing a comic backing board. Make sure it is acid-free. In the old days of comic storage, any old piece of cardboard was used. We now know that the acidic nature of many of these boards actually can do some serious long-term damage to a comic book stored with it. Aside from that, consider double-boarding your comic books for added protection. Just be careful that this doesn’t make the comic fit too tightly, as that can definitely damage your investment. When it comes to storing your comic books in a box, there are a few options. You can choose the standard cardboard comic box, but make sure the cardboard is acid-free if you do so. The better option is putting them in a plastic box, as it better protects the comics from outside elements. Make sure never to leave a box only partially full, as the comics can shift to one side, causing the cardboard and books themselves to bend. Lastly, be sure to store the box somewhere safe from moisture, sunlight, and extreme temperatures. A basement that is prone to flooding or an attic that reaches high temperatures in the summer are not recommended. It is also recommended that you keep your boxes up off the floor for similar reasons.
So, you’re interested in getting your favorite comic book signed? Before you make this big decision, there may be a few things worth considering. For instance, who is it that you’re planning on getting to sign your comic book? Will the signature increase the value of your book? Should you get a book signed if there is no blank space on the cover? Well, you’re in the right place. Here are a few helpful Dos & Don’ts before moving forward. DO: Make sure to choose carefully whose signature you are getting. A very common mistake people make when getting a signature on a comic book is not being picky enough about whose signature they’re getting to begin with. For instance, don’t be like Dale Doback in “Step Brothers” and get Randy Jackson’s autograph on a samurai sword (or comic book in this case) just because you had the sword (comic book) on you when you bumped into him and he’s “kind of famous.” If you have a comic book written by Donny Cates and the art is done by Tony Moore, you might want one or both of them to autograph it, but it usually doesn’t make sense to get another writer or artist to sign someone else’s book. Basically, make sure the person signing your book has something to do with said book. Of course, there are always exceptions, but it’s a good general rule to follow. DON’T: Assume a signature will add value to your comic book. It is a common misconception to assume that a signature will always add value to your book. Though in most cases this holds true, there are actual instances of signed copies being worth less than non-signed copies. This can happen if the market gets flooded with too many signed copies of a specific book. In these cases, there may be lower supply, and therefore higher demand for the unsigned version. DON’T: Get the cover signed if there is no empty space. If you truly value this comic book, do not have anyone sign over top of the artwork on the comic book cover. The good news is that most anyone you would get to sign your comic is going to know better, especially if they are the artist. Still, don’t insist on ruining your comic book cover. You can instead have them sign the inside of the book. DO: use painter’s tape to frame where you want the signature. If there is a specific part of the cover you want signed, you can cut a window in the bag that holds your book and then tape a frame around it with blue painter’s tape where you want the artist to sign. This is a great way to eliminate any confusion as to where you’d like the signature. DO: Make sure to get the signature authenticated. You can do this a few ways. If you can at the time of signing, get it CGC graded. If you’re at a comic expo, usually you can get a CGC Signature Series witness while you get your signature. They even grade your comic book. This is the only way your autographed book will be 100% authenticated. Otherwise, you may not get the CGC Signature Series yellow label. You can also have your comic authenticated after the signing by way of sending it to CBCS, which has a Verified Signature Program. This is the way to go if you do not have an official witness for the signing as the CBCS has autograph experts who can verify the signature. One final thing to consider when going through the authentication process is whether or not you want to get your comic slabbed. Slabbing is the process where, after the comic is signed, it is encapsulated in an air-tight plastic container. This is great for protecting your investment of course, but sometimes the cost of going through all the trouble outweighs the value of the comic itself. DON’T: Bring a large number of comic books to be signed at a convention. Please don’t bring every comic you own to be signed by one person. It’s bad etiquette. Instead, bring no more than 2 or 3 books. Not only are you taking up that person’s time, but you’re probably holding up a bunch of other fans who came to get something signed. Please always be cognizant of other people. Do: Let the person signing your comic know you appreciate their work. You’ve come this far to have your comic book signed. You clearly enjoy this person’s work. Let them know it! Of course, don’t take up a bunch of their time, but don’t be afraid to let them know what their work means to you in a brief conversation. After initiating a short conversation, you can also ask the artist if they’ll do a ‘remark’ on your cover, which is a small sketch that can add some personality to the signature. Many artists are glad to do it. Everyone likes to be appreciated, and they appreciate you spending your time and money on their work! Don’t: Smudge the signature or remark! Lastly, and this is important: always make sure to handle your book carefully after getting it signed. Even the smallest of smudges can ruin a perfectly good signature if you’re careless. This can potentially lower the grade of your comic book.
Long-time comic book readers know just how overwhelming it can be to choose which comic to read first. Most started with a single comic book that piqued their interest at the time and then started collecting chronologically. For others, a guest-star character grabbed their attention and they migrated to that character’s book. While there has always been a plethora of comic book options, there is little doubt that due to the sheer quantity of comics in publication today, right now is both the greatest and most intimidating time to start reading. Fear not, weary readers, for if you don’t know where to begin, we’re here to give you some tips on how to begin reading in the modern era of comic books! Tip # 1: Don’t be intimidated! First, we need to get one thing out of the way. Do not be intimidated by the continuous stream of re-launches and #1s. After a while, one starts to wonder just how many ways a book can be relaunched as the “All New,” “Newest,” “All-Different,” “Totally-Not-The-Same-Thing-As-Before” version of its predecessor. This is actually great news for you brand-new readers because it’s all new to you no matter where you start! You can jump in at any point and go from there; it truly doesn’t matter where you begin. Tip #2: Check the bargain bin of your local comic shop. If you really have no clue where to start, most comic shops have a large selection of discount comic books. While you can certainly find older comics here, there are usually plenty of newer books to choose from as well. The point is, don’t buy expensive new issues that you know nothing about when you could easily buy 3 or 4 discount books for the same price. Once you know which stories speak to you the most, then you can start collecting the high-end issues. Tip #3: Variety is the spice of life. Use that bargain bin to your advantage and pick up several different titles. Not all comics are created equally. If you like the classic super hero stories, you might start with Superman. If you enjoy flawed heroes with real-world issues, maybe give Spider-Man a try. Also, not all comic books are always as simple as “good guys vs bad guys.” If you don’t believe me, read an X-Men comic. Don’t fall into the trap of being loyal to one specific character, super team, or even comic publisher. Tip #4: Those nice people behind the desk are very friendly and love sharing their knowledge! Rarely have I ventured into a comic book shop and encountered someone working there who doesn’t enjoy what they do. Don’t be afraid to ask these wonderful people for recommendations. They would be more than willing to discuss what’s popular at the time. They also often can point you in the right direction based off of your interest in different genres of books, movies, or television shows. After talking to them a few times, they’ll learn your likes and dislikes and you’ll make some new friends! Tip #5: Don’t be discouraged if you don’t enjoy a specific comic story. The stories in comic books are ever-changing. One minute your favorite superhero is in space fighting for the fate of the Galaxy, the next minute they’re in the streets of Brooklyn fighting a petty thief who stole a suit of armor. On top of that, the writers and artists are always changing. Once you start to recognize their work, you may jump ship to an entirely different book they worked on. The most important tip of all: Just have fun! Getting into the world of reading comics can be a very individual experience or one that you share with friends. Dive in and get lost in a great story. Sooner than you think, you’ll be the one giving recommendations on the best book for new readers to pick up.
Comic books have been a major part of entertainment for over 80 years. In that time period, we’ve been introduced to a plethora of characters that have become household names, such as Superman, Captain America, Batman, Spider-Man, Wonder-Woman, and the Hulk. We’ve also been introduced to some of the greatest villains, like Magneto, the Joker, Dr. Doom, and Lex Luthor. For every great character introduced, we’ve come across some that were less-than-memorable, to say the least. While some of these characters were one-hit wonders who disappeared entirely, others went through more gimmick changes than a failed professional wrestler in the mid-90s. We’ve decided it’s time these characters were given the respect (acknowledgement of existence) they rightfully deserve! This is “Where Are They Now: Forgotten Comic Book Characters.” We’re going to start by looking at the Marvel superhero, “The Human Fly,” who first appeared in his own self-titled series in September of 1977. The Human Fly is a very interesting character, in that he was based off of real-life stuntman (and alleged con man) Rick Rojatt. If you have time to check it out, Rojatt’s story is pretty wild in its own right. The Human Fly, whose real name is… unknown… was born in… some place. Okay, this is getting off to a rough start. So, anyway, some guy was in a car accident in North Carolina. Tragically, the crash killed his family and left “John Doe” in the hospital for weeks. After several surgeries, more than 60% of his bone structure was replaced by steel. Having been informed by doctors that he would be permanently paralyzed, John Doe tirelessly trained his body back to full functionality and beyond. With his newfound bone strength and athletic prowess, he took on the costume and mantle of The Human Fly (not to be confused with the supervillain of the same name). The Fly utilized his new abilities well. He performed at several charity auctions, even playing in a band at a benefit concert. He also thwarted criminals who attempted to rob the events. Though he never gained much notoriety, he did find himself rubbing elbows with some of Marvel’s other heroes such as Spider-Man, Ghost Rider, and White Tiger. Unfortunately for the Human Fly, his comic book was cancelled after issue 19. This coincided with the disappearance of his real-life counterpart following a botched attempt to jump 27 buses. Whether the mob had an insurance policy on Rojatt for just such an occasion remains the subject of rumors to this day. This makes the Human Fly’s legacy a bit complicated. Was he merely a con man, as many claim his counterpart to have been? It’s hard to separate what’s real from what isn’t. Either way, the Human Fly has quite the interesting story. So, where is the Human Fly now? Comics have remained mostly silent since the story was cancelled in 1979. The last known mention of this odd superhero occurred as a brief bio in Marvel Encyclopedia Volume 1: Marvel Knights in 2004. However, despite this character’s mysterious absence from mainstream consciousness, rumors of a Human Fly movie surfaced as recently as 2012. If his strange and real-life-inspired disappearance sets the stage for a good enough comeback story, perhaps someday we’ll hear more from this long-forgotten hero.
Everything has been leading up to this moment. Eddie Brock has come face to face with his long-time nemesis Carnage, and let’s just say they’ve never been closer. Meanwhile, we finally get a glimpse of the true power that Eddie’s son Dylan has been holding in reserve. Venom #25 is packed full of twists and turns that do not disappoint in the slightest. Donny Cates has done a phenomenal job of bringing Venom back to heights that the character hasn’t ascended to in years. With their combined efforts, veteran artists Mark Begley, Andy Owens, and Frank Martin bring this visually stunning, epic confrontation to life. The story begins with Eddie recollecting the events of his life up to this moment, since attaining the Venom symbiote. He is in a dark room, and appears to be speaking to a group of his peers. This goes on for several pages as Eddie reveals a more introspective side of himself, almost as if he is admitting that he can no longer face his demons alone. We see a visual montage of the struggles he’s endured over the last few years. We then get a flash back to the events immediately following Venom #24. After becoming infected by the Carnage symbiote, Eddie is engaged in battle against the Venom symbiote, which has taken the form of a Tyrannosaurus-Rex while being controlled by Eddie’s son Dylan. Having finally tapped into his mysterious symbiotic powers, Dylan attempts to save his father. Dylan does manage to infiltrate the mental prison that Carnage has Eddie locked in, only to have the manifestation of Cletus Cassidy appear and trap Dylan within the cage as well. As Dylan struggles to regain control in the physical world, Carnage mocks Eddie and continues his assault on the “V-Rex.” However, with his father’s words of encouragement ringing in his head, Dylan regains control and manages to destroy the Carnage symbiote. Eddie awakens from the nightmare and is once again reunited with the Venom symbiote.Flash forward to the present, and we find that Eddie has been speaking with Captain America and the Avengers. He tells them about Knull, the God of the symbiotes. He warns them that his “other” senses a looming menace that is both old and new, one which threatens all life. Eddie then questions whether anyone will survive it. A two-page montage accompanies his words. We catch a glimpse of things to come, including the first appearance of Marvel’s newest character “Virus.”This book is an absolute must-have. From beginning to end, the story keeps the reader engaged. Donny Cates is truly one of the top-tier comic writers today. He has taken Venom to a whole new level and has made the character more relevant than he’s been since the 1990s. Cates is especially brilliant in his writing of Eddie Brock himself. Eddie has never before been written with such depth. His introspective monologue in the opening pages was spectacular. It is also exciting to see Dylan finally starting to come into his own with his powers. The cameo of Cletus Cassidy is very impactful, especially the scene where Carnage’s face emerges while Cassidy’s melts away in grotesque fashion. Mark Begley’s art is fantastic, and we get the added bonus of Ryan Stegman doing the final two-page montage at the end. As amazing as this book has been, one can’t help but feel that the best is truly yet to come.
Hear ye! Hear ye! Lords and Ladies from far and wide! You are cordially invited to enter the mystic lands of the “internet,” and to be part of the kingdom of the noble and brave Vanguard Knight! Inspired by his love of collecting manuscripts and figurines, he hath attained a trove of rare treasures that he wishes to distribute to his loyal subjects. Stray from the wicked marketplace of “Evil-bay” and enter the vast trading center within the Vanguard Knight’s castle. There, you will find naught but the greatest collectible manuscripts and trophies throughout the lands. Come now, and you will be granted the blessings of the “Dubbing Ceremony Discount,” which awards thee 25% off thine purchases as a first-time customer. A great sorcerer has predicted that a wealth of treasures will be available very soon The grand opening of Vanguard Comics and Collectibles’ mystical online marketplace shall come to pass in June 2020. Soon thereafter, their first official brick-and-mortar “castle” will open in late 2020, and will be located in Tampa, FL. Additional castles shall open in the near future. The noble Vanguard Knight is more than a mere collector Vanguard Collectibles buys and sells comic books and statues from all lands near and far. The noble Knight aims to provide the lowest and most competitive prices on manuscripts from all comic publishers. He wishes to bestow upon thee many blessings of goodwill: Vanguard’s gallant riders will mount up and deliver comic scrolls directly to local residents of the Tampa village. With modern wizardry, a learned sorcerer will review rare statues and provide new blog content weekly. Along with the “Dubbing Ceremony Discount”, those who sign up for Vanguard Collectible’s “Loyal to the Crown” membership will receive $5 back in points for every $20 spent on the online store. Meet the Vanguard Knight’s loyal retinue Growing up as a young squire in the late 20th century, Sir Matthew Lane of Land O’ Lakes, founder of Vanguard Comics and Collectibles, found himself captivated by comic manuscripts after reading X-Men (1990) #1. Through the years, he became a connoisseur of these treasures and was amazed at the passion, skill, and creativity of artists such as Sir Todd McFarlane, Sir Donny Cates, and Sir Jim Lee. He was vastly impressed by the humility with which they carried themselves, as well as their readiness to help grow the comic industry. “We aim to provide our patrons and lords from all the land with the best prices, wizardry in customer service, fastest shipping, and top dollar for the comics you’d like to sell,” says Sir Lane. “Our goal is to combine both our passion for collecting and business, along with our appreciation for the art of comics.” Sir Lane is gathering a round table of the greatest knights, sorcerers, and website developers in the lands to provide the very best customer service for lords and ladies far and wide. Light a candle, don your favorite reading spectacles, and visit VanguardCollectibles.com for more information. See you soon!