Dec 292014
 
Stan Lee, 92 years old today.
Stan Lee, 92 years old today.

The hopefully immortal Stan Lee.

by Gene Turnbow, station manager

It’s official as of yesterday: Stan Lee is 92. The icon of comics is still with us and still busy making new projects in film, games and of course, comic books. It’s hard to overstate the importance of this man to comic books and the entertainment industry as a whole. He has created hundreds of our favorite characters, and written the archetypal stories that define the art of comics as it stands today.

Born in New York City on December 28, 1922, Stan Lee went on to work for Timely Comics, the company that would eventually become Marvel Comics. With artist Jack Kirby, Lee launched the superhero team the Fantastic Four in 1961, and went on to create dozens of the most iconic heroes in comics, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, The Hulk, and Thor.

He rose to being Marvel’s editor-in-chief in 1972, and used that position to put together some of the finest creative teams the world of comics has ever seen. His biggest talent seems to be putting people together who go on to create the amazing, the astounding, and the enthralling – and he’s still doing it.

Lee is Chairman Emeritus of Marvel, as well as a member of the Editorial Board of Marvel Comics. He is currently currently the Chairman and Chief Creative Officer of POW! Entertainment, a multimedia entertainment company based in Beverly Hills, CA, which he founded with production partner Gill Champion and business affairs partner the late Arthur Lieberman. POW! is busy creating new characters and stories in areas including publishing, film, TV, reality, stage, documentary, and multimedia.

Lee just keeps moving relentlessly forward, and his joy and enthusiasm for his creative work seem to keep him energized and inspired. Keep the flame alive, Stan. We’re really looking forward to that big 100-year anniversary tabletop edition in eight years.

- 30 -

Dec 252014
 
SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT

Four-Color Bullet

It’s the Four-Color Bullet Christmas Special!

Starring Superman! Batman! Spider-Man! Hellboy! The X-Men! The Justice League of America! Santa Claus! And More!

Welcome to The Four-Color Bullet Christmas Special, Kryptonics! Usually, Four-Color Bullet is where I review my comic book picks of the week. But naturally I had to have a Christmas Special! I have in my big red sack of goodies what I think are the top 12 Christmas comic books stories of all time. We begin with one Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man.

12) The Spectacular Spider-Man #112: “You Never Make a Sound” (Marvel, 1986)

Spec Spider-Man 112

Writer Peter David crafted this Christmas tale about a Macy’s-employed Santa Claus who is asking visiting children for their addresses with the intent of robbing their houses. And Dark St. Nick’s next victim is none other than Peter’s neighbor Bambi and her son Jordan.

Santa breaks into Bambi’s apartment, gun in hand and looting the place, when Bambi surprises him. Peter’s Spider-Sense goes off, alerting him to the danger. He changes into Spider-Man and crashes into Bambi’s window to stop the sinister Santa.

Santa leads Spidey on a merry chase to the roof, but when Santa gets there, he runs smack into another red-boot-wearing individual. The real Santa Claus! And he’s not very jolly. And when Spidey gets to the roof, Dirty Santa is nowhere to be found.

The next day, Peter gets a call from Kathryn Cushing saying to go down to the office, and the burglar is there handing out presents. But not the things he stole. Those items were in a corner, and he was giving out homemade wooden toys and stuffed animals. And he even confessed to all the burglaries. Then he gives Peter a message, saying it was given to him by a friend of Peter’s, to prove he’s changed his ways. The message reads “Call your Aunt! Merry Xmas!” And the next thing we see is Peter spending a nice Christmas Day with his Aunt May, Mary Jane and Aunt Anna Watson, who is visiting from Florida.

 

11) Batman #239: “Silent Night, Deadly Night” (DC Comics, 1972)

SILENT NIGHT DEADLY NIGHT

Writer Denny O’Neil and vastly underestimated penciler Irv Novick brought us this tale about Batman being on the hunt for a guy who has been robbing Santa Clauses for a few weeks. Naturally, the Darknight Detective catches up with the pilferer, only to have him beg for mercy, claiming that he’s only been robbing to support himself and his niece, Betsy, because his previous employer shafted him. Batman will not be swayed, however, telling the crook that he’s a strong man and able to work to support themselves.

The crook gets a momentary drop on Batman and knocks him unconscious by smashing a lamp over his head. When Batman comes to, he is “stuck” taking care of the man’s niece while he pursues the crook in a blinding snowstorm.

The crook, who we now know is named Tim, arrives at the home of toymaker Richard Lee Evans, for whom Tim once worked. Tim demands that Evans give him the money he’s still owed, threatening to kill him.

Meanwhile, Batman and Betsy find themselves lost in the Gotham woods during the snowstorm. Batman is afraid that Tim will kill Evans before he can find him, leaving Betsy with no one to care for her. Wishing for a miracle, Batman is surprised, along with Betsy, to hear bells. They track the sound to a lone sleigh with a horse attached and they use it to make their way to Evans’ home, where Tim refused to kill Evans, instead saving his life after having a heart attack.

All ends well as everyone gathers at the hospital to wrap up the story, until Batman notices the horse and sleigh have mysteriously vanished. Briefly, Batman wonders who they belonged to, until he looks up at the night sky, noticing a bright star in the heavens. and confidently realizes who was responsible.

 

10) Super Star Holiday Special : Wanted: Santa Claus– Dead or Alive (DC Comics, 1980)

HOLIDAY SPECIAL

Denny O’Neil teamed up with the legendary Frank Miller, who did the penciling on this short story about a contract out on Santa. And it wouldn’t be the first time poor Santa would be the target of a hitman.

In this particular story, on Christmas Eve, Batman confronts mobster Matty Lasko, asking him why he’s arranged to have a boat in Gotham Harbor that night. After a quick scuffle with Lasko and his goons, Batman learns the boat is for an ex-con named Boomer Katz.

He then goes undercover to find out Katz’s current location and learns that he’s working as a department store Santa Claus. Batman concludes that Katz must be doing this as a way of pulling an inside job robbery, and sure enough his hunch is right.

That is, until the Christmas spirit overtakes Katz who then refuses to commit the robbery. His co-conspirators aren’t having it, and force him at gunpoint to let them into the store. Batman arrives and ambushes the goons, one of whom escapes with Katz. It ends on what is supposed to be a Dickens-esque note whereby a shining star from a Nativity scene reveals the location of the henchman  just in time for Batman to get the drop on him and save Katz’s life.

 

9) Superman #64: “Metropolis Mailbag” (DC Comics, 1991)

METROPOLIS MAILBAG

The Man of Steel makes the Christmas list in this story by writer/penciler Dan Jurgens. Much like with Santa Claus, people around the world write letters to Superman throughout the year, asking for his help. And also like Santa, Superman does what he can every Christmas. Some letters range from the silly, like being asked to squeeze coal into diamonds and send them to the letter writer, to the heartbreaking, being asked by a young boy to cure his father’s brain tumor, to the hopeful, where Superman is asked by a Holocaust survivor to find her sister who she discovered is still alive.

Superman does what he can, even enlisting Bruce Wayne’s help to spread a little Christmas cheer. Easily one of the best Superman stories ever written, in addition to being a fine Christmas story.

 

 

8) Uncanny X-Men #230: “‘Twas the Night …” (Marvel, 1988)

TWAS THE NIGHT The merry mutants join the festivities at number eight in the countdown. To set up the story, the world believes the X-Men are dead, since their “deaths” were broadcast all over television and the media during a fight with a cosmic entity in Dallas, Texas. In reality, the team is holed up in the Australian Outback headquarters of an evil band of cyborg marauders called the Reavers.

While exploring their new digs, the X-Men find a treasure trove of goodies that the Reavers have stolen. Longshot, who can read the history of an object when he touches it, demonstrates his ability to his teammates by reading some of the trinkets. With the help of an aborigine known as Gateway, who has the ability to open a portal to anywhere on the globe, the X-Men decide to spend the night returning the stolen goods to their rightful owners. But the team has been so distracted by recent events, they’ve forgotten that the night they’ve chosen … is Christmas!

This was from the Chris Claremont era of Uncanny X-Men, from which many good stories came. While this particular plotline of their fake deaths and hiding out in Australia wasn’t my favorite, this was a good issue, and a nice break from the apocalyptic story arc that was currently going on.

 

7) Hellboy Christmas Special #1: “A Christmas Underground”  (Dark Horse Comics, 1997)

HELLBOY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL

Even Hellboy gets wrapped up in Christmas cheer. This story by Mike Mignola opens with Hellboy being summoned to a old castle where an old woman lost her daughter years ago. Now, the old woman herself is dying, and she asks for Hellboy’s assistance. The woman, who thinks Hellboy is “Father Christmas” asks him to get an heirloom in a small box from the mantlepiece to give to her daughter, who, the woman insists, visits her sometimes.

Hellboy agrees to the woman’s request. He goes to the Underground, finds the woman’s daughter Annie, and gives her the box. Annie opens the box and screams when she sees it contains a crucifix, and it is then that Hellboy realizes that she is being held captive. An army of demons arrives to dispatch Hellboy, and what follows is a beautifully drawn confrontation between Hellboy and the “prince” who holds Annie’s soul captive.

Aided by the power of Christmas Eve, Hellboy comes out on top, frees Annie, and the daughter visits her mother. One final battle occurs between Hellboy and the forces of darkness, then both mother and daughter are at peace. The usual Mike Mignola awesomeness in a really good Christmas story.

 

6) JLA #60: “Merry Christmas, Justice League– Now, DIE!” (DC Comics, 2001)

JLA 60

Mark Waid’s final issue of 2001’s JLA recounts a tale told by Plastic Man to his best pal Woozy’s nephew. To help the young man sleep in anticipation of Santa, Plas tells him of the time that Santa joined the League.

It’s a cute tale of how the demonic Neron decides to muck about with Christmas by giving the kids their presents early, and each present having a dark twist. The JLA and Santa intervene, but the League is turned to coal, and Santa is forced to fight Neron alone. And fight he does.

What happens next is a hilarious and brilliant depiction of an angry, superheroic Santa taking on Neron and his forces for the survival of Christmas. Cliff Rathburn and Paul Neary did an amazing job on artwork. If Waid wanted a great story to go out on, he got it with this one.

 

 

5) Marvel Team-Up #1: “Have Yourself a Sandman Little Christmas” (Marvel, 1971)

MARVEL TEAMUP CHRISTMAS

While it’s odd for the first issue of a series to be a holiday issue, the first issue of this long-running series certainly was. Peter is on the beach getting pics of the Polar Bear club for the Daily Bugle’s Christmas Eve edition when Sandman shows up. The police try to apprehend him, but since he can sand his way out of the cuffs, they don’t succeed.

Peter heads after Sandman, but runs into the Human Torch, whom he enlists to help nail the villain. After a battle on the George Washington Bridge, the duo is captured, bound, and tossed over the side into the water. After some quick thinking by Spidey, the Torch saves their bacon.

Our heroes locate Sandman, who is visiting his dying mother in a nursing home, a thing he says he does every year. Sandman begs Spidey and the Torch for five minutes to see his mother, and then he’ll give himself up. They agree, which causes both of them to think about their respective families and how important they are to them.

And we end it with a gorgeous final panel drawn by Ross Andru, where our heroes go their separate ways, with the Human Torch writing in the sky, “Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men.” A great Christmas addition, written by the legendary Roy Thomas.

 

4) Arak: Son of Thunder #22: “Siege of a Time-Lost City” (DC Comics, 1983)

ARAK CHRISTMAS

Arak, Valda and Satyricus have been taken prisoner pending a public execution in White Cathay. But with the help of Brunello, Master Thief of Africa, the trio are soon free to once again attempt to rescue Malagigi from the clutches of Angelica. That’s not going to be easy when outside the city is being besieged by Tartars, and inside the city is in open revolt … and if that weren’t enough, Haakan of Ultima Thule finally arrives on the scene!

While not a Christmas issue, per se, I picked this as part of the countdown because of one scene. In a brief passage, we learn that a Nestorian priest traveling through time joins three Persian kings who are following the star over Bethlehem. When he reaches the manger outside the inn, the baby Jesus heals him. I always thought that was kinda neat.

 

 

 

3) Hitman #22: The Santa Contract (DC Comics, 1998)

HITMAN CHRISTMAS

It’s a Hitman for the holidays, as Tommy and Natt are hired to take out a crazed, radioactive super-villain rampaging through Gotham on Christmas Eve dressed as Santa. It was also picked as number 93 on Wizard Magazine‘s list of 100 Best Single Issue Comic Books Since You Were Born.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2) Uncanny X-Men #143: “Demon” (Marvel, 1981)

X-MEN CHRISTMAS

The second X-Men entry on the Top 12 list is an offbeat tale, and the final issue of the acclaimed Chris Claremont/John Byrne/Terry Austin run. It’s Christmas Eve but all of the X-Men are busy and they leave Kitty Pryde behind at the mansion alone to mind things while they’re gone.

Later, the mansion is attacked by a N’garai demon. Kitty tries to escape and phases through floor and walls but the demon is relentless. She lures it into the Danger Room, but it trashes every single weapon that the room throws at it.

Finally, Kitty escapes into the Hangar and manages to fry the demon with the Blackbird’s afterburners. Later, the X-Men return with Kitty’s parents as a surprise, and they are all proud of how well she handled the situation. And, on a personal note, this was the first comic I ever read. It’s kinda important.

 

 

And now, the Number One Christmas Story of All Time as picked by yours truly!

DRUM ROLL PLEASE!

1) DC Comics Presents #67: “Twas the Fright Before Christmas” (DC Comics, 1984)

SUPERMAN AND SANTA CLAUS

My pick for the best Christmas story ever is this little gem starring Superman in a fantastic and fun team-up with Santa Claus.

Timmy Dickens holds up a sidewalk Santa Claus with a dart gun. Superman finds that the boy is under a powerful hypnotic suggestion. Carrying Dickens to his Fortress of Solitude, Superman uses alien technology to break the boy’s trance. Timmy reveals that he had raided the closet where his parents stored all of his Christmas gifts. Upon firing the dart gun, there had been a flash. Dickens remembers nothing after that. Superman hypnotizes Dickens to unlock his lost memories.

A tape recording on the gun instructed Dickens to rob the sidewalk Santa Claus, then deliver the loot to a local Big Shott Toy Store. Superman realizes that his old foe, the Toy Man is the culprit behind the crime. Superman is heading back to Metropolis, carrying Dickens home, when the toy space craft in Dickens’ hand emits a beam of energy, directly into Superman’s face. The Man of Steel plummets to the Earth like a stone, just managing to twist his body enough to absorb all the impact and keeping Dickens from injury.

In the deep snow, Dickens tries and fails to revive the fallen Man of Steel. The pair are discovered by a half dozen elves, who carry the unconscious Superman to safety. Meanwhile, the Toy Man has monitored the entire affair from his hidden lair in Metropolis.

Superman awakens in the abode of Santa Claus. Unable to believe the evidence before their very eyes, the Man of Steel and Dickens, are taken on a tour of Santa’s workshop. Santa Claus, it appears, is keeping an eye of the Toy Man.

Despite the modernization of the workshop, Santa Claus bemoans the loss of the simpler times, when his elves cobbled together wooden soldiers and rocking horses. Superman, too, becomes nostalgic for his own early childhood toys, specifically a Kryptonian holo-toy, capable of generating images directly from Superman’s mind.

Santa Claus gathers his giant sack of toys and mounts up for his Christmas deliveries. Superman tries to make it back to civilization under his own steam, but still suffers from the effects of the Toy Man’s weapon. Once again plummeting from the sky, Superman lands in Santa’s sleigh, where he stays for the remainder of the journey. Superman and Santa arrive at the Toy Man’s hideout, Superman entering through the chimney, taking the Toy Man by surprise. The Toy Man counters with an army of weaponized toys. Santa Claus provides support with his own army of weaponized toys. Still suffering the after-effects of the Toy Man’s little space ship weapon, Superman finds he’s hard pressed in the fight against the Toy Man’s diabolical toys.

Santa Claus’ toys provide the respite Superman needs to finally triumph over the Toy Man’s automated forces. The Toy Man levels a toy gun, powered by white dwarf star matter, at the Man of Steel. Santa Claus scatters marbles across the floor, causing the Toy Man to lose his balance. The errant shot from the Toy Man’s weapon hits one of his robot soldiers, instead of Superman. The mechanized monster plummets through the shop floor, its momentum carrying it to the Earth’s core. Superman uses his heat vision to melt the Toy Man’s gun.

With the Toy Man defeated, Superman uncovers a list of customers who have unwittingly purchased deadly toys from the Toy Man’s stores. With Santa Claus’ aid, Superman covers the entire continent, darting in and out of one home after another, replacing the Toy Man’s gimmicked gifts with harmless replicas from Santa Claus’ bag. Superman is just about to return Dickens to his home, when the little starship toy once again blasts the Man of Steel into unconsciousness.

Superman awakens in the North Pole, with Dickens standing over him. The whole adventure with Santa Claus was nothing more than a dream. Superman carries Dickens back home. Reaching into the secret cape pocket for his civilian clothes, Superman finds his long lost Kryptonian holo-toy. Activating the device, Superman finds a Christmas message from Santa Claus.

Written by E. Nelson Bridwell, I absolutely love this story and I read it every Christmas. The clean, gorgeous art from the one and only Jose-Luis Garcia-Lopez is a definite bonus.

And that, gang, is it. Thanks for checking out The Four-Color Bullet Christmas Special.  As always, as with the weekly column, email or comment on these picks, and feel free to add your own.

Merry Christmas, peace on earth, and good will toward men.

See you next week!

 -30-

 

Oct 252014
 
fourColorBullet1

fourColorBullet1

Welcome to another week of Four-Color Bullet, the only comic book review column that kicks butt and doesn’t need the Super-Soldier Serum to do it. As you may have noticed, it’s Saturday, and the best comic book review column in the Multiverse will be coming to you on Saturday instead of Thursday for the next four weeks. So bear with me, and we’ll back to our regularly scheduled day soon. The reason for the move is classified, but stay tuned to Krypton Radio for hints as to my whereabouts.

And now  … COMICS!

On the DC comics side of the fence, catastrophe strikes Arkham Asylum, and the inmates have to be housed somewhere else, plunging Batman into an eerie murder mystery, in the first issue of Arkham Manor; Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke kicks off his new solo book by being hunted by someone who may have the skills to actually bring him down, in Deathstroke #1; and after an amnesia-stricken Power Girl crashes into Coney Island from space, it’s Harley Quinn to the rescue, and she’s only too happy to remind PG that they are best friends, and a crime-fighting team, in Harley Quinn #11.

From Marvel this week, the hate hits the fan as Axis continues with its third issue; X-23 reflects on the life and death of the man who gave her purpose, in Wolverine: The Logan Legacy #2; and Kamala Khan a.k.a. the new Ms. Marvel helps Spider-Man take on a powerful and angry Kree warrior, and a backup story features Mayday Parker in a fight unlike anything she’s ever been in before, as Spider-Verse inches closer, in Amazing Spider-Man #8.

From IDW, Mulder and Scully’s investigation of an abortion clinic bombing leads them to a teenage girl who claims to talk to God, but whose actions are far from heavenly, in Part Two of Immaculate, in The X-Files Season 10 #17; and Cow and Chicken join the multi-dimensional cartoon fracas known as the Super Secret Crisis War, in Cartoon Network: Super Secret Crisis War!: Cow and Chicken #1.

 

The most famous enemies of the paranormal have just been killed on live television. Their kids are next.

Writer: Jacob Semahn Artist: Jorge Corona Colorist: Gabriel Cassata IMAGE

Writer: Jacob Semahn
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorist: Gabriel Cassata
IMAGE

So let’s say that your parents are famous hunters of the paranormal, in a world where the paranormal is known and feared. And let’s say that you’re watching your famous parents live on television as they’re working on a case. Then, let’s just say that you watch your parents get killed on live TV by the beasties they’re hunting. And then the beasties come for you. That’s the premise behind Image’s new horror comic, The Goners. Zoe and Josiah Latimer are watching their famous parents in action when they’re killed on live television. Now, with the most powerful paranormal hunters out of the way, the things that go bump in the night are targeting their children.

This first issue by Jacob Semahn and Jorge Corona is all about mystery, intrigue, and thrills as we see the kids try to survive, and we the readers are wondering what the heck just happened. Was it in inside job? Did someone set the Latimers up? There are a lot of questions and few answers by the time we get to the end of the issue, leaving us waiting for next month.

Artist Jorge Corona and his colorist comrade Gabriel Cassata provide some great visuals, and is probably the best part about the book. It’s got a Saturday morning vibe that seems to work well in this story of kids, creepy creatures, and spellslinging/powers.

Not much bad to say, except the book moves quickly, and you have a brief instant to get emotionally attached to the characters before all heck breaks loose.

Image just keeps churning out hits, and this one I’ll keep checking on. It’s obvious that Semahn has a story to tell about the end of the Latimer family and what happens next in the vacuum, and he wants to tell it. This is definitely one to watch.

 

Something strange in the neighborhood. Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters! And the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Writers: Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz Artists: Charles Paul Wilson III, Cory Smith, and Dan Schoening. Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado and Ronda Patterson IDW

Writers: Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz
Artists: Charles Paul Wilson III, Cory Smith, and Dan Schoening.
Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado and Ronda Patterson
IDW

Finally. Two of the most popular franchises of the ’80s are teaming up. Erik Burnham of Ghostbusters (which sadly ended its series, a fact I’m still lamenting) and Tom Waltz of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are collaborating to bring readers the team-up of the millennium. Well … at least for me. But this first issue was still really good and worth the wait. As most team-ups tend to be, this isn’t a day-in-the-life story. Both sides are just doing something on a Saturday morning, then, team-up occurs. It feels more like a TMNT story because what’s going on in the current series has a lot to do with what happens here, but not so much that you have to be a reader of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to get it. It’s very easy and accessible for new readers, thanks to a well-done introduction that gives you all the info you need.

It also happens to be drawn by three different art teams: something I usually can’t stand. But as a friend of mine and I were discussing earlier, it works well in this case because each creative team deals with a different time, dimension, etc. Charles Paul Wilson III handles the first five pages, which is our  dark and spooky intro that takes place in ancient Japan; Cory Smith and Ronda Patterson take the next four, which takes place in the New York of the Turtles; and finally, Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado, who impressed me every month with their work on the Ghostbusters ongoing, handle the last 10 pages, after the Turtles end up in the Ghostbusters’ New York and do some ghostbusting of a different sort.

Everybody gets time in this issue, from Venkman and crew on the job, to Leo and the gang doing their thing, until the end when the awesome happens.

Burnham and Waltz have done amazing jobs on their respective titles, and to see them come together for the first time for this crossover is nothing short of exciting. I had very high expectations coming into it, and I was not disappointed. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to see where this could be nothing more than a chance to make money with flashing dollar signs in the eyes of all concerned. But once you read it, or if you’re reading (or have read, in the case of Ghostbusters) either of the titles, you’re going to see how much the writers and artists care about the characters they’re writing about. While it’s very satisfying if you’ve been following along with either series, new fans will be able to read with minimal being-in-the-dark. This was my pick of the week. Seriously. You’re going to love it.

And that wraps Four-Color Bullet for this week. Don’t forget to find it on Saturdays for the next three weeks, then we’re back on Thursday. Thanks for checking in!

It’s a great time to be a comics fan. Really. It is. Did you see that Avengers 2: Age of Ultron trailer? See? It is.

See ya next Saturday!

-30-

 

 

 

 

Oct 202014
 
ultimateLairsFeatureImage

Okay, you’ve been bitten by that spider, rocketed to Earth as an infant from a dying planet, built your iron suit powered by a fusion reactor embedded in your chest, or decided to spent your billions getting all dark and gothy and talking like you have throat cancer. Now what? You’re going to need a place to live. There are any number of different superhero lairs to choose from. One of them will surely suit your personal temperament and your superhero persona.

You can go humble or big, public or secret, high-tech or ancient pantheon. The choice is yours. What kind of lair would you choose? Can’t make up your mind? This handy visual guide, The Ultimate List of Superhero Lairs, may help you make that all-important decision. Note the figures of the famous heroes in the various lairs showing appropriateness and likelihood of use in each case. We’re sure you’ll find the secret lair of your dreams!

the-ultimate-list-of-superhero-lairs

And before you ask, no, we weren’t paid to run this article; we did this voluntarily. We just thought it was an insane idea for a company that makes window dressings to go all superhero on us like this. It’s an unlikely idea, and we salute the creative thinking of Terrys Blinds of the U.K. and thank them for going to the trouble to add to the universe of cool geeky things for the rest of us to enjoy.

- 30 -

Oct 092014
 
fourColorBullet1

fourColorBullet1

Welcome to another Four-Color Bullet. I am proud to say that we are the only comic-book review column not responsible for the destruction of an entire universe. So let’s talk about comics.

From Marvel, it’s time for yet another company-wide event as the Avengers and the X-Men team up again, this time to take down the Red Skull, armed with Xavier’s brain, in Axis #1;  Ms. Marvel teams up with the Amazing Spider-Man, and the Spider-Verse event draws near, in The Amazing Spider-Man #7; and it’s Halloween in Brooklyn, and the bad guys are dressing up as good guys and Hawkeye and Deadpool team up to stop the mess, in Hawkeye and Deadpool #1.

From DC this week,  it’s the beginning of the end of Earth 2 in Earth 2: World’s End #1; Klarion the Witchboy is bored and Earth is his new playground, in Klarion #1; and a new era of Batgirl begins, in Batgirl #35.

And Jack Burton’s quest to save Wang Chi may be over, but Lo Pan still has his eyes on Miao Yin, in Big Trouble in Little China #5 by BOOM! Studios.

 

Joshua Williamson: Writer Andrei Bressan: Artist IMAGE COMICS

Joshua Williamson: Writer
Andrei Bressan: Artist
IMAGE COMICS

Only one comic this week made it this far, but it’s a doozy. Joshua Williamson has another smash hit on his hands with Birthright. After Ghosted, and Nailbiter, how much more can this guy top himself? It seems like everything Image has put out lately is becoming a favorite, but that’s just the quality of Image Comics.

Birthright #1 starts out as a missing-child story. Williamson brilliantly depicts the emotional turmoil of a family losing their child. Desperate fathers, grieving mothers, and the destruction of a family. We see some time pass, and how this family copes with the loss of a child. And then the crazy comes. Honestly, I think the less you know about this comic, the better. Just when you think you know where the story is taking you, it throws a sack over your head, spins you around 40 times, then pushes you down a hill. Now, twists happen all the time in comics, and they’re getting so frequent that comics readers are getting kind of cynical. This month’s issue of DC’s Batman throws a big twist at you.

But Williamson pulls this one off smashingly. And even if the twist doesn’t impress you, that last page will have you screaming and looking for the rest of the comic, and you’re going to get angry when you realize you have to wait until next month. As if this book couldn’t get better, you’re hit with the amazing art of Andrei Bressan. Artists have the tough job, especially with a first issue, of establishing the looks of the characters when you first meet them. Bressan does it like a pro.

I have nothing negative to say about this book. Nothing. It’s a fun first issue that throws you a curve and has you gasping for the next issue. Loved it. Go get it. And in 10 years, you can hold up your first issue proudly.

And this wraps a very short Four-Color Bullet. Always feel free to email or comment on anything. Anything at all.

It’s a great time to be a comics fan. See you next Thursday!

-30-

Sep 242014
 
4046583-02

by Michael Brown, staff writer

4046583-02Spider-Man has fought many foes in his storied career, but never one so baffling as being banned from a library.

After his science-fiction novel-for-television known as Babylon 5 had ended, J. Michael Straczynski had decided to give comics a go. He started Joe’s Comics, an imprint of Top Cow, that produced noteworthy titles like Midnight Nation, written by Straczynski, and his epic superhero series, Rising Stars.  Marvel Comics took notice and recruited him, signing him to an exclusive contract beginning with a run on Amazing Spider-Man that lasted from 2001 to 2007, with the legendary John Romita, Jr as artist.

Straczynski took the Spider-Man mythos into an entirely new direction by suggesting the spider that bit Peter sought him out, and was actually Peter’s totem. Straczynski would craft some memorable tales during his ASM tenure, making Peter an inner-city high school teacher, and revealing in an unpopular retcon, that, before she died, Gwen Stacy had an affair with Norman “The Green Goblin” Osborn and had his twin children. But Straczynski also penned a heartbreaking love letter to fans after the 9/11 attacks. Sporting an all-black cover, Amazing Spider-Man #36 dealt with the attacks through the eyes of Marvel’s heroes and villains, and was narrated by Spidey.

Issue #36 was later collected, along with issues 37-39, into a trade paperback titled Revelations. This collection of Straczynski’s run included, in addition to the 9/11 issue, a “silent issue” in which there was no dialogue, Peter revealing his identity to Aunt May, and a touching story in which Peter tries to win back Mary Jane, who is separated from him.

In 2009, a parent in Millard, Nebraska challenged its elementary school library on its inclusion of Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations on its shelves after her six-year-old son checked it out and brought it home.

“My son looked at this and goes, ‘Ohhhh!’,” said Physha Svendsen.

Svendsen went straight to her ABC News affiliate, claiming the book is not age-appropriate for Norris Elementary students and wants it removed from the library, citing “sexual undertones.” Svendsen said that some of the illustrations included “a woman wearing a bikini and a short skirt.”  The offending pictures have been presented in this article for your judgment.

Donna Helvering, head librarian for the Millard School District, said the library has a thorough selection process that the book had passed, and that it was in demand by other students. Beyond the selection process, the library also has a strong review policy. According to the school’s policy, parents can file complaints and the school is required to form a committee to evaluate the complaint and make a consensus determination to retain or ban the book within 30 days. This measure was not strong enough for Svendsen who told the media she plans, “to hold on to the book that her son brought home while the review process takes place.” Svendsen’s decision to keep the book goes against library policy and could be construed as stealing.

This reporter, however, acting on a hunch, found Norris Elementary’s website and discovered that the school library keeps an online catalog of its books. A search yesterday. September 23, 2014, showed that the library still has a copy of Amazing Spider-Man: Revelations, although its status is listed as “out for repairs.”

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