Feb 282015
 
Writer: Jason Latour
Artists: Robbi Rodriguez and Rico RenziMARVEL

by Michael Brown

Hey there, Bulleteers, and welcome back to another Four-Color Bullet! Allow me to offer sincere apologies for the lack of the Bullet for the last couple of weeks. I hail from the state of Tennessee, and we were caught in the grip of a major ice storm that knocked electricity out across the entire state. I was out for a week, myself, leaving me unable to do much comic book reading or reviews. But I am back now, and we will proceed with the 4CB Hit List.

From Marvel this week, Darth Vader continues to deal with the fallout from the destruction of the Emperor’s expensive battle station, in Star Wars: Darth Vader #2; Spider-Verse reaches its epilogue as the Spiders return to their respective universes, and Peter has one last clash with a Superior foe, in Amazing Spider-Man #15; terrorists have taken over the Sanctum Sanctorum while Dr. Strange is away, leaving agent Phil Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D., along with Spider-Man, to take back Strange’s abode, in S.H.I.E.L.D. #3.

From DC this week, the penultimate chapter of the Joker’s horrifying return, in Batman #39; Barry Allen is trapped in the Speed Force while an imposter wreaks havoc in his absence, in The Flash #39.

From IDW, it’s Attack on Technodrome Part Three, as Leonardo and the gang engage Krang’s forces on Burnow Island, while Splinter and the Mutanimals take on Karai and the Foot, in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #43.

 

Gwen Stacy, Spider-Woman, in her own series. And it’s everything you wanted it to be.

Writer: Jason Latour Artists: Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi MARVEL

Writer: Jason Latour
Artists: Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi
MARVEL

This is an example of how the fans can sway the powers-that-be. When Gwen Stacy first appeared in Edge of Spider-Verse #2, fan outcry was huge. They loved her and wanted more. Gwen Stacy’s gorgeous costume started showing up in cosplay videos all over the Intarwebs, and with her appearance in Spider-Verse, she only increased in popularity.

So, we get Gwen Stacy back. Okay, yeah, it’s Gwen from an alternate universe, but since having a full-on resurrection of her would be absolutely unacceptable, since it’s such a pivotal point in Peter’s life, this is truly the next best thing. Writer Jason Latour has given us a new Gwen. Not the Gwen we knew, necessarily, but it is her, and we get to meet her for the first time.

And her world is a little different, too, being in an alternate universe. George Stacy is alive, Peter Parker is dead, Ben Grimm is an NYPD officer, Frank Castle is a detective, and the cool just keeps on comin’. The art team of Robbi Rodriguez and Rico Renzi give the book its own feel, and their work on her costume is awesome. Easily one of the best costumes in comics today, pretty much proving that sometimes, less is more. And I’ve always been a fan of the old What If …? stories, and this could easily come right out of it. It even has an Exiles kind of vibe. And I was huge Exiles fan.

This is just a great book and I have a feeling it’s going to do big things. If you haven’t read it yet, I highly recommend that you do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That wraps Four-Color Bullet for this week. Email and comment if you so desire. I like mail.

It’s a great time to be a comics fan. See ya next week!

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Feb 102015
 
Amazing Spider-Man 3 Movie

by station manager Gene Turnbow

spider-manSony Pictures Entertainment and Marvel Studios announced today that Sony is bringing Marvel into the amazing world of Spider-Man.

Andrew Garfield isn’t going to be playing Spider-Man moving forward. Whoever the new actor will be will play the iconic web slinger in a Marvel Studios film, then star in a new Sony movie in 2017. The franchise is the most successful in Sony Pictures history, worth a staggering $4 billion, so it shouldn’t surprise anybody that they’ve picked out a release date before they have an actor – or a script. The new Spider-Man movie will be co-produced by Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios, and Amy Pascal, formerly co-chairman of Sony Pictures.

Yes, that Amy Pascal. She had to resign from Sony Pictures five or six days ago. It had a great deal to do with racist remarks and other bizarre statements she’d put in company email that came to light after the contents of the studio’s email server had been leaked in December of 2014 by hackers. She’s still on the Sony lot, though, and still doing major business with the studio. She oversaw the launch of the Spider-Man franchise at Sony 13 years ago, and she’s not about to walk away from that. Sony will keep on financing and distributing the Spider-Man movies. They have a huge financial stake in them, and Amy Pascal is intimately tied to them.

Marvel and Sony Pictures are also exploring opportunities to integrate characters from the MCU into future Spider-Man films. Up till now it’s been problematic, due to the fractured licensing of characters from the Marvel comic book universe. Feige and Pascal are primarily responsible for orchestrating this deal, and frankly nobody knows the franchise better at this point than Pascal does.

Marvel Studios, Sony Pictures and Disney all had to agree to it. Each studio’s head honcho made public statements for the press releases about how great it was that it was possible to forge the deal. Bob Iger of The Walt Disney Company, Michael Lynton of Sony Pictures and Kevin Feige of Marvel Studios all made gushing statements for the press release on Marvel.com.

Bob Iger, Chairman and CEO, The Walt Disney Company said: “Spider-Man is one of Marvel’s great characters, beloved around the world. We’re thrilled to work with Sony Pictures to bring the iconic web-slinger into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which opens up fantastic new opportunities for storytelling and franchise building.”

“We always want to collaborate with the best and most successful filmmakers to grow our franchises and develop our characters. Marvel, Kevin Feige and Amy, who helped orchestrate this deal, are the perfect team to help produce the next chapter of Spider-Man,” said Michael Lynton, Chairman and CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “This is the right decision for the franchise, for our business, for Marvel, and for the fans.”

“Sony Pictures and Marvel Studios share a love for the characters in the Spider-Man universe and have a long, successful history of working together. This new level of collaboration is the perfect way to take Peter Parker’s story into the future,” added Doug Belgrad, president, Sony Pictures Entertainment Motion Picture Group.

“I am thrilled to team with my friends at Sony Pictures along with Amy Pascal to produce the next Spider-Man movie,” said Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige. “Amy has been deeply involved in the realization on film of one of the world’s most beloved characters. Marvel’s involvement will hopefully deliver the creative continuity and authenticity that fans demand from the MCU. I am equally excited for the opportunity to have Spider-Man appear in the MCU, something which both we at Marvel, and fans alike, have been looking forward to for years.”

As a consequence of the new deal, the Marvel Studios release schedule is almost completely rewritten. Thor: Ragnarok will now release almost  four months later than originally planned, moving to November 3, 2017 (from July 28). That bumps Black Panther eight months, from November 3 to July 6, 2018. Captain Marvel gets bumped in turn to November 2, 2018 and that moves Inhumans all the way to July 12, 2019. The two-part Avengers: Infinity War, meanwhile, remains set for release May 4, 2018 and May 3, 2019.

Notice here that Marvel had released its schedule for the next seven years at San Diego Comic-Con in 2014, and already the old schedule is out the window. It’s been less than six months. What we are watching is corporate entities maneuvering at high altitude. Don’t get overly excited about release schedule changes, folks. It’s going to happen, and they need to be flexible enough to allow for the next Great New Thing.

About Sony Pictures Entertainment

Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE) is a subsidiary of Sony Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE’s global operations encompass motion picture production, acquisition and distribution; television production, acquisition and distribution; television networks; digital content creation and distribution; operation of studio facilities; and development of new entertainment products, services and technologies. For additional information, go to www.sonypictures.com.

About Marvel Entertainment

Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of more than 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy-five years.  Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing.  For more information visit marvel.com. © 2015 MARVEL

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Jan 302015
 
Writers: Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz
Artists: Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado
IDW PUBLISHING

Four-Color Bullet

Welcome to this week’s Four-Color Bullet, now coming at you on Fridays, since Thursday has become New Comic Day for digital titles. I want to make sure everything is covered for you, my comic book-obsessed, Four-Color fans. You Bulleteers.

This week from DC, Batman #38 brings Part Four of Endgame. The Joker is back, and fun time is over; The Multiversity Guidebook details each of the 52 worlds in the Multiverse in DC’s Multiversity event; Barry Allen is trapped in the Speed Force, while the all-new, all murderous Flash takes his place in Central City, in The Flash #38.

From Marvel this week, a new round of adventures for the Avengers Unity Squad begins in Uncanny Avengers #1; Peter Parker’s new job as guidance counselor at the Jean Grey Academy is off to a rocky start. His students are captured by Sauron and Stegron, Staten Island is in danger of being colonized by the Savage Land, and Shark Girl may be a traitor. All this, and a pteranodon/stegosaurus/shark love triangle, in Spider-Man and the X-Men #2; Spider-Verse continues as Miguel O’Hara and Lady Spider head to Lady Spider’s steampunk Earth, fleeing the Inheritors. But Doctor Octopus and The Six Men of Sinistry are waiting for them, in Spider-Man 2099 #8.

And from BOOM! Studios, Jack Burton, now the new leader of the Lords of Death, and Wang Chi return to San Francisco Chinatown to rescue Miao Yin and Egg Shen from Lo Pan, and put an end to Lo Pan and acolyte Qiang Yu’s magical foolishness. But someone will pay the ultimate price to rid the world of Lo Pan’s evil for good, in Big Trouble in Little China #8.

 

Epic team-up concludes: Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on defense, running out of time

Writers: Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz Artists: Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado IDW PUBLISHING

Writers: Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz
Artists: Dan Schoening and Luis Antonio Delgado
IDW PUBLISHING

The TMNT/Ghostbusters crossover has been nothing but fun since the get-go. And while it may sound ridiculous, it has been far from it. Ghostbusters writer Erik Burnham and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles writer Tom Waltz have teamed up to bring fans the ’80s crossover to end all ’80s crossovers. Knowing that this was the final issue of this titanic turtle team up made me sad, because now … there’s no more Ghostbusters awesomeness. But at least the writers ended it with a bang.

The comedy that has been present throughout was here as well, but nothing that made me laugh out loud. Plenty of chuckles, smirks, and chortles, but no hearty guffaws. But both teams merged and reacted with each other well, and I expected nothing less.

The action scenes, drawn by Dan Schoening Luis Antonio Delgado, also Ghostbusters alumni, were gorgeous. Everything is beautifully animated with a cinematic feel. While the Ghostbusters are focused on fighting our villain with unlicensed nuclear accelerators and other tech, they never engage in any fisticuffs. Leo and the gang, however, are providing ninja action at every turn. And while you won’t see the Ghostbusters use any of the Turtles’ weapons, the Turtles do get a chance to suit up in Ghostbusters gear. Donatello wore a proton pack last issue, in fact.

Chi-You, the series’ villain, is sadly kind of one-dimensional, but Burnham gives him enough juice to provide an action-packed finale that gets everybody involved. Burnham and Waltz have created a villain able to plague both the superior-tech Ghostbusters, and the up-close-and-personal ninja fighting of the TMNT.

With all that said, this issue isn’t going to WOW you. There’s no big shocker ending or jaw-dropping twist. Nothing to make you go “Oooooo” or have you scratching your head at the meaning of the universe. It’s just good, solid fun and the final issue of an ’80s romp, and the farewell to a comic series I thoroughly enjoyed. Here’s hoping IDW brings them back for another crossover. It just begs to be done.

And that concludes Four-Color Bullet for this week. Email and comment if you choose. Correspondence is always welcome.

It’s going to be a great year for comics fans.

Catch you guys next week!

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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-