Into the Longbox…

Into the Longbox… the Fantastic Four!

84453be26be0a83edcbce02c1a0dbfe5_xlNormally, in this series, I go over old, forgotten comics, but today, I want to talk about the Fantastic Four! I’ve mentioned before, that the FF series is my all-time favorite comic book series. I’ve been collecting Fantastic Four since the mid 90’s and nearly have the entire run. I’m only missing about 40 issues, and most of those are in the early 50, as these issues tend to be hard to find and rather pricey. I started collecting FF with issue #394, which I only picked up because it contained a generic animation cell of the Fantastic Four Animated Series. I don’t recall much of the issue, but something about the family dynamic of the team clicked with me, and I was soon going to my local flea market to pick up as many issues as I could.

In no time at all, I was hooked and received a Fantastic Four comic subscription with issue 968b15768f3d19770471e9436d97913c_l#398! I ended my FF subscription at the conclusion of the Heroes Reborn storyline. I still collected and read the title, but now had a local comic store where I could pick it up.

It wasn’t until I got to college, and got a part-time job, that I started the hunt for FF back issues. I got most of my run at a sale a nearby store had run, where for every 20 $1 comics you bought, you got 10 for free. I spent about $80 and got almost everything that I needed, from about issue #200 on to the present. Over the course of several years, I pieced together the rest of my collection, to where it’s at today.

Thing_v2_1_coverartMy favorite member of the team is Benjamin Grimm, the Ever Lovin’, Blue Eyed Thing! I love everything about the character, from his powers to his personality. I love how Stan wrote Ben as a REAL character, with slang and an ‘accent’. While I get that Ben’s curse is to be stuck as the Thing, I do wish that in the modern stories, we could give him the ability to turn on and off his powers, like the rest of the team. I definitely would love to see more Ben Grimm stories!

My favorite FF villain is Doom! He’s the obvious choice, and rightly so, as he is the best villain ever created (with Darkseid a very close second). Doctor Doom has made countless top ten villain lists, so I won’t bore you with his accomplishments or abilities. If you’ve ever picked up a Marvel Comic, you know who Doom is!

Lastly, I’d like to go over some of my favorite FF stories. The FF have been around for over 50 years now, and there are a ton of stories from different writers and artists, and these include tales sent in the prime Marvel Universe and in various other alternate realities. I’m going to list a few, in no particular order!

The Coming of Galactus FF #48-50“The Coming of Galactus!”- In this classic story, we witness the FF take on the giant, planet devouring menace known as Galactus and his herald, the Silver Surfer. (Fantastic Four #48-50).

 

 

 

“Divine Time”– In this adventure, the FF face off against the time altering threat of Ramades, son of Divine Time MK4 #15-18Rama-Tut, a man later known as Kang. It takes three generations of Richards’ to take down this villain. (Marvel Knights 4 #15-18).

 

 

“Unthinkable”- In this storyarc, we see Doctor Doom give up his scientific side and fully embrace his Unthinkable FF #67-70, 500magical heritage and battle the FF using the one thing Reed cannot understand, magic! (Fantastic Four #67-70, 500).

 

 

 

“President Thor”- Seeing the pain that his best friend is in, Reed decides to convince the team to alter history and preventPresident Thor UFF #27-28 them from venturing into the N-Zone. In a new world, one where Thor is President of the United States, everyone on Earth has powers, everyone except Ben Grimm, who just wants to be “normal”. However, when a Skrull ambassador arrives, what at first seems like a bridge of friendship, turns into horror, as the ambassador has an armor that mimics the powers of everyone within 500 yards, and on a world where everyone has powers, this makes this Skrull…Super! However, it’s left of to normal, old Ben Grimm to defeat the Skrulls and rewrite history! (Ultimate Fantastic Four #27-28).

So what can I say, I love the Fantastic Four! I love the comic, the animated series and even the movies from the early 2000’s. I actually can’t wait to see the new movie and I (really) hope it’s good! I’m upset that there isn’t a current Fantastic Four series to collect or any movie memorabilia to get, but I’ll always have the old stuff to keep me entertained and eventually, the FF will go exploring the Marvel Universe once again, and I’ll be along for the ride!

“And when you want to go explore, the number you should have is FOUR.”

– Sandra Boynton

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Into the Longbox…with DC Comics Presents Superman and Fantasy Friends!

DC_Comics_Presents_63DC_Comics_Presents_47Recently, six random issues of DC Comics Presents fell into my hands, even though I was only looking for one particular issue. Each issue can be paired by a theme, so I’ll be going over each pair separately. One of today’s issues was the issue I was looking for, however I wanted to grab them all and add them to my collection, as they feature odd team-ups for Superman.

I’ve already gone over four of the issues I picked up, which you can read here and here.

First, things first…I had no idea that Superman had a team up book! While the title of the series, DC Comics Presents, is unimaginative, it’s a great way to pair DC’s powerhouse with random heroes (or places). To start off, we’ll take a look at DC Comics Presents #63.

In DCP #63, Superman meets a girl from Gemworld, who also happens to be the Princess Amethyst! While battling villains in her own dimension, Amethyst finds herself on Earth where she runs into the Man of Steel. Her villain, the son of Dark Opal, gains power through Kryptonite, which is growing more unstable and ready to explode at any moment. Traveling back to Gemworld, Superman and Amethyst battle the forces of Dark Opal and save both worlds from the magically enhanced Kryptonite.

In DCP #47, Superman is accidentally brought to the world of Eternia by the villain Skeletor. He-Man arrives and the two battle both Skeletor and Beastman, trying to prevent them from entering Castle Grayskull. For a moment, Superman is placed under a spell that turns hims against the Most Powerful Man in the Universe, but he quickly breaks free and the two powerhouses defeat Skeletor and his minion.

DC Comics Presents #47 is the issue I was looking for, when I started hunting down DCPs. I knew that Superman and He-Man had crossed over before, but I’ve never read the issue…until now. First, the Amethyst team-up is fairly good and does a great job of showcasing both Gemworld and Earth. Nothing special or noteworthy happens otherwise. However, in the He-Man team-up, all kinds of odd things happen. First, a lot of the designs that we know about the Masters of the Universe characters are altered, like Prince Adam in blue, Teela is a skirt, the Sorceress looking exactly like the Teela action figure and Man-at-Arms having no facial hair. Also, Adam seems to always have his abilities (he doesn’t do the “I have the Power” thing) but still keeps up the appearance of an alter ego. Other that those changes, most of the characters act like we know them to be. It was fun to see Superman fight and team-up with He-Man, even though it was very brief. All-in-all, I’d say it was a fun issue, that probably introduced the He-Man characters into the comic world, so an interesting He-Man collectable to possess.

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Into the Longbox…with DC Comics Presents Superman and Vertigo Vitals!

DC_Comics_Presents_53DC_Comics_Presents_85Recently, six random issues of DC Comics Presents fell into my hands, even though I was only looking for one particular issue. Each issue can be paired by a theme, so I’ll be going over each pair separately. While today’s issues were not the issue I was looking for, I wanted to grab them and add them to my collection, as they feature odd team-ups for Superman.

I’ve already gone over two of the issue I picked up, which you can read here.

First, things first…I had no idea that Superman had a team up book! While the title of the series, DC Comics Presents, is unimaginative, it’s a great way to pair DC’s powerhouse with random heroes (or places). To start off, we’ll take a look at DC Comics Presents #53.

In DCP #53, it’s Halloween and someone’s turning kids into their Halloween costumes, so when a kid dressed as Superman crashes into Lois Lane’s apartment and kidnaps her, the real Superman quickly follows. When he finally arrives, the child Superman has taken her to the House of Mystery, where the Man of Steel must overcome fears and other-worldly magics to save Lois Lane and rescue the trapped children from the fun-loving Mister Mxyzptlk!?

In DCP #85, Superman is infected by a long thought dead Kryptonian fungus that messes with the Man of Steel’s powers and is ultimately going to kill him. As he leaves Metropolis with the fungus, he starts to hallucinate and crashes into the ‘home’ of Swamp Thing, who uses his powers over plants to stop the fungus and save the Superman’ life!

I’ve never been a big Vertigo fan, but recently became a fan of Swamp Thing under the direction of Scott Snyder. Seeing how the cleaver writers got Superman to interact with a supernatural place and being is pretty incredible and worth reading. The Swamp Thing story is written by Alan Moore, and while I don’t like the man, his work is some of the best in the medium and always worth a read.

So, two more issue down and only two more issue left…who will Superman be teaming up with next!?

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Into the Longbox…with DC Comics Presents Superman and Kirby Creations!

DC_Comics_Presents_12DC_Comics_Presents_61Recently, six random issues of DC Comics Presents fell into my hands, even though I was only looking for one particular issue. Each issue can be paired by a theme, so I’ll be going over each pair separately. While today’s issues were not the issue I was looking for, I wanted to grab them and add them to my collection, as they feature two of my favorite Jack Kirby creations.

First, things first…I had no idea that Superman had a team up book! While the title of the series, DC Comics Presents, is unimaginative, it’s a great way to pair DC’s powerhouse with random heroes. To start things off, I read DC Comics Presents #12, where Superman teams up with Mister Miracle, my favorite hero of all time!

In DCP #12, Mister Miracle is putting on a grand performance, but finds out his rating are low due to the airing of a Superman documentary. Wanting to out-hero Superman in his own city, Mister Miracle follows a suspected member of Intergang back to their hideout. When he learns that they have a device that can take over Superman, he tries to tell the hero, be discovers that he is under the effects of the device. Staging a battle with Superman over who gets to be the hero of Metropolis, Mister Miracle uses the fight to lead Superman to the device and destroy it. Once he’s no longer under the influence of the machine, Mister Miracle tells Superman what’s really going on and the two settle their differences…sort of!

While I enjoyed this issue, the Mister Miracle portrayed here is very different from what I’m used to. Most of what I’ve read is the actual Jack Kirby series and several appearances in more modern DC comics. I like the idea of the entire story taking place in one issue, which sadly you don’t get much of any more. I know Mister Miracle’s a C-rate character and teaming him up with Superman can be hard, but here it’s done nicely.

In DCP #61, OMAC is battling the criminal cadre known as Intercorp. OMAC, who’s really Buddy Blank, comes from a possible future where he is the only one standing between the world and the forces of evil. Buddy gets his powers from a hidden satellite, known as Brother Eye, and becomes OMAC, the One Man Army Corp.  Intercorp has created a robot and plans to send it back in time to kill Buddy ancestor, who’s living in Metropolis at the time, so that OMAC will never be created. When the robot gets sent back in time, OMAC follows. In the present (well the present for when this issue was written), the robot, known as Murdermek, arrives and begins to tear apart Metropolis looking for it’s prey. When the police can’t handle the machine, Superman arrives to try and stop it. After going several rounds with the robot, Superman is joined by OMAC to try and stop the murder machine and prevent OMAC’s future from disappearing.

A great issue in which Superman teams up with a very obscure DC hero! I recent (within the last year) read the O.M.A.C– One Man Army-Corp hardcover collection by Jack Kirby and loved it. Seeing Kirby’s OMAC (as there have been several different versions of the character in the last few years) in action again is great and having him team up with Superman is even better. This issue has it all: superheroes battling giant robots, two heroes fighting over a misunderstanding and all taking place in a single issue. In fact, the only thing missing from this issue is Kirby himself, as I would have loved to see this entire issue rendered in that classic Kirby-style.

Keep watching for my other Into the Longbox…DC Comics Presents Superman!

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Into the Longbox…with the Human Target!

The Human Target is a character I knew nothing about until I saw the Fox TV show which ran for two seasons from 2010-2011. With much research, I discovered that there have been two men to use the moniker, The Human Target.

The first is Fred Venable, who appears in Detective Comics #201 (11-53), by Edmond Hamilton and Sheldon Moldoff. I’ve been unable to find out much about this character, as it seems most of The Human Target stories involve the second character, Christopher Chance.

Christopher Chance, first appears in Action Comics #419 (12-72), and was created by Len Wein and Carmine Infantino. This version of the character, a private investigator and bodyguard who assumes the identities of clients targeted by assassins and other dangerous criminals, has appeared in numerous books published throughout the decades, as well as in two television adaptations. Writer Peter Milligan and the late Edvin Biukovic revived Christopher Chance in 1999, moving the character to DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint for a four-issue limited series. The mini-series was followed by the graphic novel Human Target: Final Cut, as well as an ongoing series lasting 21 issues until its cancellation in 2003. A six-issue limited series was published by DC Comics, based on the Fox TV series. It was released in 2010, during the shows 1st season, and was written by Christopher Chance creator, Len Wein.

My love for this character is directly tied into the Fox TV series. I loved the characters and concept of the show, and wish it had acquired more viewers so that it could have made it past the 2nd season.

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Into the Longbox…with Miss Fury

I love old pulp heroes from the 1930’s-1950’s. I only recently discovered Miss Fury and her adventures, while researching other pulp heroes on the web. I liked the art and the feel of the character and wanted to know more. My friend, LadyB, lent me her hardcover Miss Fury collection, so I could better acquaint myself with this mostly forgotten hero.

Miss Fury debuted on April 6th, 1941 as a Sunday comic strip distributed by the Bell Syndicate, and created by artist Tarpe Mills. Miss Fury was not the first female superhero, but she beat Wonder Woman to the newsstands. Miss Fury has the distinction as being the first female superhero created and drawn by a female cartoonist.

In everyday life, Miss Fury was Marla Drake, a wealthy socialite whose pre-Fury life was so empty, she regarded it as a major crisis when she heard another woman was planning to attend a costume ball in an outfit similar to hers. At the suggestion of her housemaid, Francine, she switched to the panther skin left to her by her uncle, which had previously been worn as a ceremonial robe by an African witch doctor. Oddly enough, it fit perfectly — very, very perfectly. But she never arrived at the party, because she got involved on the way in an adventure with an escaped murderer. Newspaper coverage of the event dubbed the mystery woman “Black Fury”. After a few weeks, she brought her superhero monicker in line with the title of the feature, and became Miss Fury.

The panther skin didn’t confer any noticeable super powers on Marla, but it did conceal her identity. Apparently, tho, it contributed certain intangibles to her outlook, as Miss Fury habitually did things most bored society women would never dream of. Supporting characters included her two confidants (Francine and Cappy, doorman of the building where she occupied a penthouse) and Detective Carey, who was constantly trying to find out who Miss Fury really was, because he wasn’t quite sure which side of the law she was on.

As with most heroes of the time, Miss Fury dealt with problems relating to World War 2. Most of her villains were Germans or Nazi sympathizers, like General Bruno Beitz, Baroness Elsa von Kampf, and Doctor Diman. Miss Fury became so popular with soldiers overseas, they would paint her image onto the sides of their planes.

IDW Publishing recently released a large format, hardcover collection of the original Miss Fury Sunday strips, covering 1944-1949. This is the same collection I borrowed from LadyB and my review of this collection will appear shortly.

A sample of the Miss Fury strip…

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Into the Longbox…with the Dirty Pair

A friend of mine, Faries of Paradise and Faries, reviews video games, defunct tabletop games and anime. This month, he’s doing this event which he has dubbed, “Dirty August”, where he will review the Dirty Pair all month in his Fanservice Fiesta videos. Because of his research and work on this event, he bought several of the Dirty Pair mangas, and let me borrow two of them. I read the original printings of Biohazards and Dangerous Acquaintances by the now defunct, Eclipse Comics. Firstly, for those who don’t know who the Dirty Pair are, let me explain…

Kei and Yuri are two Trouble Consultants for the World Welfare Work Association (3WA), code-named “Lovely Angels”, but known throughout the galaxy as the “Dirty Pair”, a nickname given to them due to their bad luck with their missions, which always seem to end in complete disaster. They are always cleared of any wrongdoing because the extreme damage is never actually their fault (though their mere presence has been known to make things worse). Although outwardly they almost constantly fight and bicker with each other, they are both loyal best friends, always pairing up together to deck anyone that calls them by their “Dirty Pair” nickname.

Kei is the tomboy of the pair, outgoing, loud, and boisterous, and has a passion for cheesecake, large firearms, and bleeding edge mecha and war-tech. Yuri is the more stereotypical retro-feminine of the two, being the more demure, modest, polite, and friendly of the two.

In Biohazards, the Lovely Angels are assigned to Pacifica. Tissue samples and the single surviving brainchip of leading biotechnical engineer Kelvin A. O’Donnell have been stolen by agents of Abraham Streib, a rival industrialist maimed in an accident apparently staged by O’Donnell. Enter the Dirty Pair, who rescue O’Donnell’s brainchip, implanted by Streib in a cuddly Pseudo-Fuzzy. Mission accomplished, but O’Donnell convinces the Angels of Streib’s traffic in illegal bioweapons, and persuades them to help him retrieve his tissue samples so he can regain his humanity. His consciousness transferred to a synthetic warbeast, O’Donnell leads the Pair to Streib’s lab, obliterating most of his cronies — and a sizable section of Pacifica’s capital city. O’Donnell assures the destruction of Streib’s operation, and of Streib himself, but, en route home, is arrested by Pacifica Security for unlawful bioweapons production of his own.

In Dangerous Acquaintances, the Lovely Angels are on vacation on the planet of Rocinante when they spot an old “acquaintance”, Shasti. Kei and Yuri immediately attack Shasti in a drunken rage, but are quickly subdued by the heavily-armed and violent local police as Shasti blends into the crowd. Through a series of flashbacks interwoven though the story, the tale of the betrayal, attempted murder, and humiliation of the (then-rookie) pair by the increasingly psychotic superagent Shasti is told. The Lovely Angels start investigating Shasti’s presence on the planet, and uncover a nest of apparently unconnected plots that all seem to have Shasti as the leader. Revolutionaries, a band of thieves after a collection of priceless antiques, and an experimental one-of-a-kind FTL drive installed in an interstellar liner filled with rich and influential potential hostages: which is Shasti’s real goal and what is simply smokescreen? One thing is clear, though: the Dirty Pair want revenge against Shasti, and not even their reputation will bar the way.

I must admit, I’m not much for anime or manga. There are exceptions, but for the most part, I enjoy traditional super-hero, science fiction or fantasy storytelling. I sometimes think that manga/anime stories get ridiculously crazy or overly convoluted and complex, where I have no idea what’s happening anymore! However, this is not the case with the Dirty Pair. They exist in a cyberpunk-y future setting, where space travel is very prevalent. I like the idea of a territory so large, that the government can’t handle it all, so they contract out police duties to Trouble Consultants, who pick up the slack on outer planets. The science dork in me loves all of the overly science fiction elements in these series’ (clones, brain chips, robots, alien animals, warbeasts, space travel). I found the Lovely Angels to be fun and entertaining. By the first issue I liked them, which is a good sign of a great writer and great developed characters.

To anyone who wants to pick up the Dirty Pair, I can at least recommend these two titles.

Here’s the first of Faries “Dirty August” reviews, Enjoy! (Note: These reviews can sometimes get a little NSFW!)

[blip.tv http://blip.tv/play/AYL_8RYC?p=1 width=”780″ height=”438″]

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Into the Longbox…with Captain Marvel

I absolutely loved the first issue of the new Captain Marvel comic, in fact you can read my review here. I’m working on a traditional ‘Into the Longbox…’, but found this article on Comics Alliance and wanted to share it. This is everything you need to know about the many different Captain Marvels…from Marvel!!

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Into the Longbox… with Hardware

Milestone (and DC) Comics’ Hardware #25

On a recent trip to the Corning Museum of Glass, some friends and I stopped into an antique store (as there are many up in that area) and found $1 comics from the late 80’s and 90’s. I was able to grab a John Carter, Warlord of Mars #2 (by Marvel) and Hardware #25. I grabbed the Hardware because I had fond memories of reading Milestone Comics growing up. I remember going crazy when the Milestone characters crossed over with the Superman family in the Worlds Collide event. I wished to catch up with this character, who seems to have disappeared from continuity.

While I understood what was going on in the issue, it was celebrating Milestone Comics’ 3rd year of publication, and seemed to have a better “pay-off” for those who have read the entire series up to this point. I think the issue was good, it’s writing and art still hold up and Hardware, himself, is a pretty cool character.

Now, without completely going into an ‘I got Issues…’ rant, I think with the New 52 relaunch at DC, they should replace Cyborg, who still feels like a Teen Titan, on the Justice League with Hardware. They’re both into tech, so they fill similar rolls. In fact, the Justice League has always been missing a “Tony Stark/Iron Man” tech guy, here’s your chance to mold Hardware in that direction. I also think Hardware’s darker attitude could provide some  internal conflict on the team.

I REALLY want to see Hardware being used again! While I think he’s Justice League material, he may not be ready for his own series…yet. Maybe a stint in DC Comics Presents, a back-up feature in Justice League or a mini-series could get this character back into the minds of the readers…hell, who knows what he’s capable of.

Also, Wizkids, give us some Milestone Heroclix already! A fast forces pack will do…for now!

And Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment, how about adapting World’s Collide into an animated feature! You could do a Milestone animated anthology, with 6 or so short episodes featuring various Milestone characters. Just saying…

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