Sunday, December 22, 2013

Book review: Marvel Masterworks: Iron Fist Volume 1

Well, this is another kinda "accidental" purchase, as in I forgot I bid on the dang thing on eBay one late night. Color me surprised when I saw the notice saying I won something. But like yesterday's Young Marvelman Classic situation, this was a nice oversight.

Iron Fist was my introduction to to the world of martial arts, in the sense I had never read a martial arts comic (like Master of Kung Fu) or seen a chop-socky flick (like Master of the Flying Guillotine) before I picked up my copy of Marvel Premiere #15 at Gene's Superette in Amherst, Wisconsin. Even then I could tell the story had a golden age feel, but I hadn't known about Amazing Man back then.  I really enjoyed that first issue, but the problem I had was that I never got to read the rest of the origin story.

Back then, in Wisconsin, comics and magazines were distributed via this orange-yellow cube truck that hit the various grocery stores and drugstores during the week. You never knew what was going to turn up in this week's selection, and if you weren't there on a Thursday, you might never know. The next time I saw Iron Fist was in an issue of Marvel Team-Up with Spider-Man (an issue that I think really should have been in the collection) and then in the first issue of his own comic, fighting Iron Man. I found that one nearly a year later at Hal's Red Owl in nearby Stevens Point. I hadn't seen hide nor hair of the Marvel Premiere title in that period. That was always the problem of being a comic book fan living in the boonies.

Anyway, this book finally allowed me to read all those missing issues. The stories hold up over the decades that have passed. The artwork is great, by such stalwarts as Gil Kane, Dick Giordano, Pat Broderick, Larry Hama, and of course, John Byrne. Byrne and Chris Claremont did their first work together in this title, just prior to their innovative run on Uncanny X-Men.

The series really shows how good comics in the seventies could be, with strong characters and concepts. The only thing I noticed is that, like a lot of the lower-tier Marvel titles, it had a virtual carousel of writers for that Marvel Premiere outing. The series luckily kept the consistency of the first few issues under Roy Thomas' watch for the entire run.

This really wasn't a series that I would've thought would get a Marvel Masterworks treatment. I kind of guess that the allure of the early Claremont/Byrne collaboration was enough to push it to the forefront. Personally, I hope they also consider giving Luke Cage, Hero for Hire/Power Man the requisite fancification; I like the two Essentials books, but sweet Christmas, Luke deserves the full-color shebang, too.

Marvel Masterworks: Iron Fist Volume 1 is a good read and a nice look back at when Marvel was really beginning to fire on all cylinders. Any Marvel fan might want to give it a go.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Book review: Young Marvelman Classic Volume 1

This was not a book I was thinking I'd read. Sure, I bought it off Amazon, but I had tried to buy MARVELMAN CLASSICS vol. 1, and got sent this instead. Well, at least it's still Mick Anglo's take on the Marvel Family, post-DC copyright lawsuit win. (By the way, the seller, FunFoodandFashion on Amazon, made everything right, and will be getting my return business.)

The art and the stories in this hardcover are actually pretty good. The British comic book always seemed a tad different than their US counterpart to me. I'm thinking because they always seemed to come out every week rather than every month like we're used to - they always seemed a little hurried. Up until the sixties, they had a definite golden age minimalism about them. If you're looking at the cover and expecting that kind of artwork on the inside, I'd go buy some Rob Liefeld if I were you. Always better to be disappointed by something you know is gonna suck beforehand.

The stories in this book are no hokier than C.C. Beck's Captain Marvel tales were: Simple, straight-forward, a lot of action, and a bit of pleasant goofiness. One thing I found odd is that the stories appear to be set in a vaguely US city rather than a British one. Maybe Mick Anglo was using ideas that were in the final Marvel Family stories and kept that aspect? I don't know, and I suppose it doesn't really matter. They're solid comic book stories.

I think of the three artists in represented in this book, George Parlett has the style I like best - very stark, with fine detail. It reminds me of the comic book art in the A-Ha video "Take on Me" for some reason. The other two artists, James Bleach and Frank Daniels, aren't quite as refined, but all are very enjoyable to look at.

This book is ALL black and white on newsprint stock, with the exception of a full color section at the end that features the original covers on glossy paper. If you like comic books in general, I don't think that's going to bother you too much, if it wasn't for the price tag. I wouldn't pay the $35 cover price for these though; there are plenty on Amazon and eBay for considerably less.

This was an unexpected jaunt into an area of comic books I'm a little unfamiliar with, so I'll have to say I enjoyed Young Marvelman Classics Vol. 1. I'll be looking out for inexpensive copies of the rest of the series, and the rest of the Marvelman reprints.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Movie review: Star Trek Into Dullness

I finally got around to watching Star Trek Into Darkness, and I have to say it's probably the worst Star Trek movie I've seen. Even worse than The Final Frontier or The Search for Spock or even Nemesis.

It's just simply a bad movie. There's far too much retreading plot elements from the first movie, and it's so unbelievable that they could remake Wrath of Khan to begin with ... of course, that's about all Hollywood can do nowadays is remake movies.

Did there need to be another major skydive in this movie, too? And while I love Leonard Nimoy, the first thing Alternate Spock does is check with his Real Universe older self and have him break his code against revealing the future (or at least the future as it should've been). Wow, Kirk gets demoted, again? Surprise, surprise. Oh, and of course Kirk had to be shown in bed with alien wenches again, right? And those fucking lens flares! I wonder if McCoy's main job on the ship is optometrist.

There were too many things in this movie that just made no sense. If people can beam over intergalactic distances, why bother with starships? Even Scotty's pissed off about them using his Transwarp equation for that.

Oh, and Khan's blood doesn't just heal people; it can raise the dead. Well, I guess there's no need to worry about the Klingons now. We can just resurrect anyone they kill. The third movie's gonna be might dull. Apparently Carol Marcus will be in her skivvies for most of that film to keep peoples' attention.

Let's poke around and find the good things in Into Dullness:  Karl Urban as Dr. McCoy,  who I swear is channeling the late DeForest Kelley he's so spot on. Simon Pegg was good as Scotty as well. Peter Weller's performance was excellent but completely wasted. The special effects were okay; typically overblown as most "blockbuster"/"tent-pole" movies are nowadays. There comes a point when there's almost TOO much going on in a scene for anyone to comprehend what they should be following for the sake of the story.

Then there's Khan, with the now-officially over-exposed Benedict Cumberbatch. He's great in Sherlock. Hell, he's now more Sherlock than Rathbone and Brett in some quarters (not mine). But he's no Ricardo Montalban when it comes to Khan. He's just too smarmy and there's no warmth in his performance. Montalban's Khan was a complete bastard, but you felt other emotions in him as well. Cumberbatch's Khan is just too superhuman living weapon and nothing else. The exact opposite of Chris Pine's Kirk.

The only real way this movie could've saved itself would've been for Kirk to have remained dead. That would've been a good impetus for any future movies in the series - find a Captain who's not a complete jerk. Chris Pine's adolescent performance makes you wish Bill Shatner would stop by and slap some sense into him. He may have been a ham at times, but at least Shatner could play a goddamn captain. All Pine is portraying is a drunk, sex-crazed, young punk.

If I had to rate this movie with some fanciful ratings system, it would get maybe One Phaser Bank out of however many the Enterprise may have now. A complete letdown on so many levels, it isn't even funny.

However, this is:


Now available on

The Monster Quiz Book 

By Rich Meyer

In paperback and e-book!

Godzilla, Frankenstein, Rodan, the Blob, Bigfoot ... they're all monsters you may encounter in the Monster Quiz Book! 500 questions and answers about monsters of all kinds: Giant kaiju, man-made creatures, monsters of legend, beasts of myth, movie-spawned horrors and even a few you might encounter in real-life! Hours of family-friendly fun with this quiz book!

Monday, September 16, 2013

A lost comic book gem: Sue and Sally Smith: Flying Nurses!

I've read a lot of comic books over the years and I've pretty much read every single genre that's been available on a regular newsstand. One of the more odder ones, at least to me, is the nurse comic. There's been a number of them over the years, usually rather short-lived. The notable exception is Timely/Marvel's Nellie the Nurse, more of a humor/teen-oriented book, that lasted 36 issues. Most nurse comics were variants on the romance genre, many being spawned from those selfsame titles.

Charlton Comics seemed to have a corner on this little market in the sixties. Cynthia Doyle Nurse in Love, Nurse Betsy Crane, Registered Nurse, Three Nurses (and the relationships in the corollary "doctor" titles, like Young Doctor Brent and The Young Doctors), along with the series I'm talking about today, Sue and Sally Smith: Flying Nurses.

Sally and Sue are nurses in the Emergency Corps, working out of Morse Medical Center in the United States. They're highly-trained individuals; besides being nurses, they are also expert parachutists, as most of the stories in the series seem to involve them parachuting in to some place fairly inaccessible by any other means. No reason is given why a doctor couldn't jump down to these places with them. Unfortunately, before I got this one, there were no issues of this series available on the internet, so I have no idea about our heroines' history or background. From this story, it's obvious that they have the general "Peace Corps" mentality of the era for those wanting to help the disadvantaged and underprivileged in other countries. Luckily, they don't try to bash you over the head with jingoism while carrying out their duties.

This series has become my new "holy grail" of comics, as I am now duty-bound to find all seven issues now. I just acquired the final issue of the series, #54, today off of eBay, and have scanned it up for your perusal.

I believe the cover is by Dick Giordano, inking himself.  The interior artwork is obviously inked by Vinnie Colletta.  "Joltin'" Joe Sinnott also provided pencils for this series earlier on, and he may have also done the pencils for this, but it's hard to tell with Colletta's inking. 

This one goes out to my pals, colleagues and general crazies over at the Charlton Arrow on Facebook! Enjoy!

Story #1: The penultimate tale of our two adventurous nurses: 


Someone who did this page was only working for the five bucks a page Charlton allegedly paid. I mean, couldn't those sound effects have been a bit more stylish?

 Story #2, the final tale of Sue and Sally Smith. 

I'm only posting the stories featuring the stars of the comic here. This issue also contained the requisite bits of filler: A four-page story about a girl who liked classical music but didn't care for "the Twist" her little brother enjoyed, the standard two-page text feature to meet postal requirements ("Planet Plague"), and a one-page examination of "Wilderness Scout" Kit Carson, which has been featured in a few Charlton issues over the years. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Killers - the comic book!

In the spirit of Charlton Comics' David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman, and Partridge Family titles from the early seventies, here comes: The Killers!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Not Quite the Avengers #100

I've been posting these on Facebook lately, so I thought I'd post a couple here. Just a little Photoshop work to pass the time as I procrastinate doing actual stuff that might be useful.

First up, two versions of The Avengers #100:

The Avengers meet the Avengers.

And, apparently a little later, the other Avengers assemble!

Hard to work this one up effectively, since there are so few pictures, color or otherwise, available of John Steed's first three associates (David Keel, Martin King and Venus Smith). 

That's all for today, folks! Hope you enjoyed 'em!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Now that's what they call Rock: The Zombies in Concert

My wife and I just got back from one of the single best concerts I've ever had the privilege to see: The Zombies at Penn's Peak, outside of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania.

As is usual with Penn's Peak, the opening act Et tu Bruce was a bit of a letdown, no matter the line-up (featuring the son of original Zombie Chris White). Their music was interesting, but I really couldn't define what sort of style they were going for. And there was this woman named Jo providing back-up vocals that really dragged the performance down with a lack of personality. She did play the cowbell masterfully in the final number, I will admit.

The Zombies played a variety of songs from their original albums, solo work and their newest album, Breathe In, Breathe Out. They did all their big hits, naturally, along with a vibrant set that showcased the fifty years of history the band encompasses.

The legendary Odessey and Oracle album was represented quite well, as "A Rose for Emily", "Care of Cell 44", "I Want Her, She Wants Me" and, of course, "Time of the Season" were performed in as a suite of songs.

I'd have to say the highlight of the concert for me were Colin Blunstone's performance of "Old and Wise", a song he sang on the Alan Parsons Project album Eye in the Sky. Most people know that the Project was primarily a studio creation, having only performed live in its original incarnation once. To hear one of their songs, and such a poignant, beautiful tune as it is, performed live brought a tear to my eye.

Rod Argent's hit (with the band Argent) "Hold Your Head Up" got the crowd on its feet (though really, most of the band's songs did that). He even made a point to explain that the chorus was indeed "Hold Your Head Up, Woman", no matter what nearly every lyrics engine tells you.

The final two songs were again special: One of the Zombies' hardest-to-find songs, "Just Out of Reach" was played; This song was one of two featured in the Otto Preminger movie Bunny Lake is Missing, a classic thriller/whodunit with Lawrence Olivier, Kier Dullea and Carol Lynley. (My thanks to Jon Pike for intriguing me enough about this film back in our college days to make me hunt it down.) The concert closed with, of all things, a George Gershwin song from 1936. "Summertime" had been intended as the first Zombies single way back when, but was shelved for "She's Not There". A classy number to end a very classy, professional and obviously fun concert for audience and band members alike.

No pictures this time around, since I thought I'd try the camera in my new TracFone. Unfortunately, the camera in a new TracFone sucks for actually taking photos. Luckily, it's cheap for what we use it for. Y'know, as a phone.

Next week, we're raring to go for the Happy Together Tour, which features Chuck Negron (of Three Dog Night), Gary Puckett, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Mark Lindsay (of Paul Revere and the Raiders), the Union Gap Band, and the Turtles, complete with Flo and Eddie!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kneel Before Zon!

One of the new big things that a lot of the fear-mongers have focused up lately is the fact that Amazon, on their forums and in e-mails, have stated that a reader doesn't have to read a book in order to review it. As if there weren't already far too many things the Evil 'Zon was doing to stick and twist the knives into the backs of independent authors.

Well, it's true. And that's a fact that's not just true for Amazon. It is a fact for ANY review, ANYWHERE. How do you prove someone read a book? Should they have to take a test on what they read? Y'know, like we often had to do in grade school. Well, at least my classes did. That and book reports. Oh wait, a book report is kind of a review, too, isn't it? With a lot more spoilers we actually expect.

At least Amazon has a differentiation between verified sales and people just wandering to the site after <shudder> reading the book at a library. I guess those folks shouldn't have the ability to leave a review in a perfect world. Bad enough those cheap bastiches didn't buy the book to begin with right? Oh crap, I think my Overdrive loan is almost up! I better go check...

Nope, still got a week. Anyway, if the people are upfront and honest by saying "Well, I didn't read this book, but I am making this comment because <insert reason here>" or "I read the preview and it didn't inspire me to read the rest. This is why <insert reason here>", I don't see the problem. It is an honest evaluation of their feelings on the book in question, and why they are making that particular statement at that particular time.

Authors have got to remember one thing: Reviews are NOT for authors. Reviews are for other people - potential readers, potential users, potential customers. They are paeans to quality or warnings for dreck. Some folks make them humorous, some detailed and sophisticated, some just emulate Frankenstein with a "Book good! or "Book bad!" Most potential customers know how to take what is written in reviews with a grain of salt.

If I see a book with nothing but five-star reviews, that smells of yesterday's fish. If I see fifty five-star, a smattering of two- to four-stars, and six one-star, then I can actually gauge what's going on in a book. There's at least a few people who weren't reviewing out of some sort of obligation or agenda.

No one likes everything, and consequently, everything is not liked by everyone. If an author can't understand that fact, they would be better off in another, less criticism-driven profession. Everyone's got a book in them, they say. But not everyone has the skills to get that book out to the masses properly. It's a sad truth; not every writer out there now should necessarily be a writer. I think You've got to have a few chops in order to get the job done. I think everyone should at least try once, but to make sure you have your head and ego about you before you make that decision to hit the publish button.  If you don't, you are just opening yourself up for disappointment.

One way to avoid bad reviews is to write better. Forget the politics, forget the bullshit and WRITE! It's a great thing to learn by doing and it won't cost you a bloody cent!  Rather than wasting your time worrying about bad reviews (or bad reviews that the Evil Zon is foisting upon you, of course), try perfecting your craft a bit more and then try publishing crap that doesn't have a bloody agenda beyond entertaining, informing or selling books! That's what you're doing this for, isn't it?

I've gotten bad reviews. I've left bad reviews. I've gotten glowing reviews and left the same. I've gotten some reviews from people who obviously didn't read my book. Oh, it cut me so deeply to the heart. Not.  Guess what? I don't let it get to me. Why? Because in the long run, it's not all that important a thing. I could get all bitter and vindictive, but then when would I find the time to be a proper smart ass and wiseacre?   That's a word that really needs to come back into common usage. Along with the name "Gertrude." It's a fine name. It's got character. I had a chicken with that name when I was a lad.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Pros and Cons of Facebooking (with apologies to Roger Waters).

There are some days when you realize, even on the small scale of Facebook, what kind of people there are in the world. There are those misguided to the point of evil, and those who are more than willing to go to bat for what's right.

Things start weird sometimes. I think deep down, people usually have good intentions; people want to help others. It's part of being social creatures, even if it's just the virtual sociability of the internet. Someone asks what they think is a legitimate question or concern. Someone posts an opinion on a situation. Other people chime in with answers and additional information. Often times, a question gets answered or a problem gets solved. Everyone gets happy and moves on with their lives.

But there are those who don't really want any real help or advice. What they post is the only position on a topic that they care to embrace. An opposing view is anathema. Pointing out a flaw in their view of the topic is a cause for outrage. Logical thought? That goes out the window, as the individual feels obligated to mount a major defense against all those who would dare to shake the foundations of their worldview.

The details are never important. Vengeance must be theirs! There is a sense of justice to be assuaged, and it can only be done through righteousness! But ... that righteous furor must not be traced back to them. Oh, no. That would look bad on them. So let's allow some imaginary friends to come into play. Revenge and a clean slate! No one will know! They will be getting over on the whole world, not just those pitiful fools who dared to challenge them with things as untoward as facts. Only then can they sleep at night.

A group of my Facebook friends, all authors or reviewers, were unfortunately put in this sort of situation this week. The details of the offense aren't important; needless to say we tried to give someone some clarity on what could end up being a litigious point. What happened afterward is also not that important, other than to say everyone who attempted to provide that clarity was mercilessly insulted and defamed by a fake account of the individual.

What is important is that, unlike said individual, real friends came to each other's defense, getting nearly all of the libelous posts removed from Facebook, while providing succor and support to each other. Many of us are real serious about our art. Many of us just goof around. Many of us are mixtures of both ends of that spectrum. But ALL of us came together to offer support to those defamed by this malicious attack.

And that will probably make the individual in question even more annoyed and self-righteous. Unlike that person, we all had real people to offer that support. Not a figment of their imagination defending them. But good people.

To those people, I give my undying thanks. They know who was drawn into this miasma for no reason, and helped me solve the problem.

To the individual who did this, actually, you also have my thanks. I knew I had good friends on Facebook, but it takes an incident like this to truly appreciate the etheric tendrils that link folks together. Unlike you, we have each other's backs. I feel nothing but pity for you, stuck in your tiny world of hate. Best of luck to you on your future endeavors, and I hope you find something that will soothe whatever ails you inside.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Flash Fiction: Meta-Lovecraft.

“No!” screamed James. “That chant is for certain to bring forth one of the Old Ones!”

James tossed the knife into the chest of the necromancer, hoping to forestall the inevitable. But he knew it was too late. James noticed a black form oozing into existence in front of the gateway and his blood turned cold.

A strange feeling came over Bob as he finished typing, a strange, sick reverberation that got to his very bones.

“Hah!” He said out loud triumphantly. “If that can make me feel creepy just by typing it, it’s gonna knock the socks off my readers!”

He clicked “Save” with his mouse and leaned back in his chair. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw it. Black and glistening, it filled the doorway to his room. His eyes had little time to focus as the blackness surged forward. It knocked him off his chair and he was completely enveloped by the cool moistness. Almost immediately, the pain began - searing, burning pain, as if acid was burning through his clothes, his skin, his eyes, his throat.

It was quick, as death’s go, but he felt every nanosecond of it. And as his body dissolved and even his fear was absorbed by the blackness, his last thought was: “This would’ve been a great ending for the book!”

Rich looked at the screen and sighed. Another flash fiction story finished, he sighed to himself. Rich grabbed his Mountain Dew and turned, only to face the blackn

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Flash Fiction: The cost of a virtual easement in the funny papers.

“Okay, this is what happens,” George said with an evil gleam in his eye. “First, I make a long razor slice from the back of your neck down to your butt. Then I peel off all of your skin like a suit.”

George smiled a little more. “Next, I cover you in rubber cement. After that, I roll you in broken glass."

George offhandedly added, "And then I shake three drops of tabasco on your backside." George thought for a moment. "Oh, what the heck, I'll squeeze a lemon and add some salt there, too."

“Then it’s time to pull that skin suit back on.” George said triumphantly. “Then it's time for a short trip, as I push you down the cellar steps.”

George's eyes narrowed. "Do you understand now, boys?"

The boys just looked at George with a shocked glazed over their eyes.

After a few seconds, Dennis slowly turned to Joey and whispered “Gee, maybe we shouldn’t cut across Mr. Wilson's yard anymore, huh?”

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: Fun with Reid Fleming

Reid Fleming: The World's Toughest Milkman was my initial foray into the world of alternative and underground comic books. David Boswell's characters, originally presented in Heartbreak Comics, were collected in a single issue in the early eighties. Reid Fleming resonated with me for some reason ... I guess back in those days I liked the ol' ultraviolence, since I did read Wolverine, and the sarcasm and parody helped things along quite well. Fun with Reid Fleming reprints all of Reid's adventures (at least all the ones I know about). 

The story is simple: Reid's a milkman, and he doesn't care too much about his job. He's a veritable Everyman for anyone who's been stuck in the boring drudgery of the modern rat race. Reid gives free rein to our Everyman and all of our inclinations to not take any shit from the people who confront us. Change your milk order at the last minute and Reid will piss in your flower garden. Insult his unique hairstyle, and he will chase your car down on foot and put a lit cigarette in your gas tank.  And woe and be tide you if you are Reid's boss. His supervisor, Mr. Crabbe, gets the brunt of Reid's anger. Crabbe's already got a lot against him, being mistaken for a twin of the Frankenstein Monster. Somehow, kindly milk company owner Mr. Clock puts up with Reid's shenanigans, though he's also not afraid to butt both Reid and Crabbe's heads together when necessary. 

Reid Fleming lives his own hedonistic way, and the highlight of his daily life is watching his favorite TV show, The Dangers of Ivan, about a spy who doesn't even let death stop him. The existential story often parallels Reid's own life. 

The only woman in Reid's life, besides irate customers that is, is Lena, an actress who is both drawn and repulsed by the dairy delivery technician. Fellow milkman Cooper is Reid's only friend, though he's often napping his way through most of Reid's exploits. 

Fun with Reid Fleming reprints Reid Fleming: The World's Toughest Milkman, and the four-issue Rogues to Riches storyline. David Boswell's intricate pen-and-ink work is a beauty to behold, with some of the finest cross-hatching you will see ... and never overblown like an Image Comic.

This Eclipse Books volume is definitely a book worth looking out for on Amazon or eBay, and is usually relatively inexpensive (under $10 USD). It's a small little world, but it's funny and engrossing and shows you that super-heroes were once not not the only things in comic books.


Volume 4
By Rich Meyer

Here we go again with another foray into comic book trivia! This time around, there are 500 questions (and answers) about the X-Men, Batman, Spider-Man, Harvey Comics (including Casper and Richie Rich), the Justice League of America, the Fantastic Four, the Mighty Crusaders, the Tick, DC Comics' legendary Showcase Presents, and Dell Publishing's Four Color Comics series. 


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Out of the Dollar Box: 1984's Iceman limited series

I thought I'd try something a little different and look at a comic book limited series that you can probably find in your Local Comic Shop's (LCS) dollar box, or slush pile, or whatever they might call it. The first Iceman limited series was published in 1984.

This was from the period where Iceman was a member of the Defenders, or rather the New Defenders, since only Valkyrie and Gargoyle were around from the original non-team.

This story starts as a mundane little tale with Bobby Drake (Iceman) returning to his parents' house for his father's retirement party. Naturally, his parents aren't all that keen on him using his powers or being a super-hero, preferring he take the quiet life of an accountant.

The story progresses with Bobby instantly falling in love with the new girl next door, who is not what she seems. Iceman ends up back in 1940, where he meets his own parents, and battles a near-cosmic entity known as Oblivion, a being way out of Iceman's weight class.

J.M. DeMatteis (of Justice League/Justice League International fame) handled the script while Alan Kupperberg and Mike Gustovich did the interior artwork. Mike Zeck and John Beatty provided the covers. So creatively, this is a well-made eighties story. Nothing out of the ordinary really, but a good, fun comic book with a lot of action, some angst and a touch of humor. This isn't Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns, so dispel those illusions. It's a nice afternoon's diversion.

Iceman has been a character I liked in the past, being a fan of the original X-Men when I was growing up. There haven't been many opportunities to see him outside of team books like The Champions and The New Defenders, other than an issue of Marvel Team-Up and a Marvel Two-in-One, so this was a treat in that aspect. He was still very much the kid of the X-Men, and a veritable Peter Parker when it comes to his non-super personal life. But this story does show that he has a lot of inner strength and maturity when it counts.

The closest you'll come to this kind of characterization on Bobby Drake now is probably in the Ultimate Comics universe, as Iceman has gone through loads of changes over the intervening years. Considering a lot of the continuity before the Marvel Now era, this little series is a refreshing change of pace.


By Rich Meyer

If you counted Daffy Duck, Woody Woodpecker, Scooby Doo and Space Ghost among your friends when you were a kid, then THE CARTOON TRIVIA QUIZ BOOK is just right for you! This quiz book e-book is filled with questions on cartoon characters and shows from the past century of animated fun! If you fondly remember the Road Runner or Birdman, you will definitely enjoy taking this trip down memory lane!


Friday, May 24, 2013

Movie Review: Reptilicus (1961)

Believe me, this poster is the best thing about the film.
Thought we'd go end this week with another great bad movie. Reptilicus is one of the very few Danish monster movies that made it big. I think it's also one of the only Danish monster movies, period.

It's also two-movies for the price of one. Sort of. There is a Danish and American version of Reptilicus, sort of like there's Godzilla Raids Again and Gigantis the Fire Monster, or two decidedly different versions of Varan the Unbelievable. Poul Bong directed the original Danish movie, and then Sid Pink came in and re-dubbed and redid a lot of the scenes, changing quite a bit of it to make it more palatable to US audiences. I've seen both versions of the movie.

The basic plot is that a mining engineer in Lapland happens across a frozen segment of a giant reptile's tail. Taking it back to an aquarium in Copenhagen, a series of accidents cause the tail to thaw and regenerate into a giant, serpent-like creature, which proceeds to go on a rampage across Denmark. The creature's regenerative abilities pose a stickler of a problem, until the military finally bazookas an overdose of poison into Reptilicus' mouth.

The original version of the movie features a lot of things missing from the one readily available today: A romantic sub-plot, a song-and-dance number, and a lot of mediocre special effects. The scenes of Reptilicus flying were cut, as they were not up to the standards of even sixties' bad movie special effects. There's a particularly horrid effect in which the monster eats a farmer. The farmer is depicted by what appears to be a crayon animation on a piece of paper. No, I am not kidding - that's exactly what it looked like.

Sid Pink's version removes all that stuff, and gives the creature a corrosive, poisonous slime that he spits all over the place. The effect isn't very good, but it is better than some of the originals. It doesn't help that the monster is a marionette to begin with, with a lacking design right up there with the bird in The Giant Claw.

Sid Pink, as genre fans are probably aware, was responsible for some great b-movies, like the first 3-D movie Bwana Devil, and The Angry Red Planet. I think his best film is 1953's The Twonky, with Hans Conried. I have to get around to reviewing that one soon. He's one of those filmmakers I have to respect, as one of the even-then dying breed that could get movies done cheaply and profitably. Nowadays we only have The Asylum for those sort of things.

Surprisingly, Sid's also the man who discovered Dustin Hoffman. Go figure.

Reptilicus is available (or at least was available) as part of the M-G-M Presents Midnite Movie collection. They probably should have did a double feature of it with a movie like Journey to the 7th Planet, another Sid Pink flick that shares some cast members. It's still a fun waste of an hour and half as a solo act, especially if you're a bad monster movie fan.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

This Week on Goodreads

Well, since I can't seem to get the doohickey that automatically posts my Goodreads reviews here to work, I'm taking a post to list all the ones I've done so far this week, for the books I managed to finish reading.

Showcase Presents: Green Lantern Vol. 4Showcase Presents: Green Lantern Vol. 4 by Dennis O'Neil
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This volume of Showcase Presents Green Lantern while featuring some great artwork from Gil Kane (including one story inked by the late, great Wally Wood), Dick Dillin and Mike Sekowsky, has some of the lamest sixties' stories. This was the low period in DC Comics (well, one of them, anyway) between the Go-Go checked covers and the relevant period that started when Neal Adams took over the art on Green Lantern/Green Arrow (and Denny O'Neil was given more of a free rein with the story content) with what would have been the next issue after the last reprinted in this book.

The book's description is a bit off as well. The only real member of GL's rogue's gallery that appears is Hector Hammond, who at the time was both big-headed and paralyzed. The Lamplighter makes one of his only appearances, and there's a guy who can control Hal Jordan's Power Ring by the force of his own will whenever Hal's actually using it. There's a couple tales that follow the stale-even-then storyline of an alien who comes to Earth/inept guy with powers, is able to beat up GL almost by accident, and then is used by a group of criminals. The Fantastic Four did this kind of tale best with the original Impossible Man and "Infant Terrible" stories, and it doesn't work all that well here.

At least this book wasn't labelled "Essential" or anything like that, so no advertising laws were broken.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Mayhem in Manhattan (Marvel Novel Series, #1)The Amazing Spider-Man: Mayhem in Manhattan by Len Wein
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first Spider-Man novel isn't too bad. It captures the flavor of the seventies Spider-Man comics to a tee. You can see this story in your head, played out over two or three issues.

Unlike a lot of these sorts of initial adaptations, it doesn't spend a lot of time going over Spidey's origin; Wein and Wolfman seem to understand that if you're buying a Spider-Man novel, you already know a bit about the character.

The story is fast-paced, and even though an astute reader will know who the Master Planner is by the middle of Chapter One, you don't really care; it's not that kind of book.

It isn't the first Marvel Comics' novel, though. Just an FYI, the first one was The Avengers Battle the Earth Wrecker, back in 1967. It was the first book in the short-lived (eleven official entries) Marvel Novel Series.

Essential Fantastic Four, Vol. 2Essential Fantastic Four, Vol. 2 by Stan Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good volume of Marvel Essentials, with Jack Kirby just starting to hit his stride on the book. This one covers Fantastic Four #21-40, along with a couple of stories from annuals. The only downside is that the Spidey-Torch tale from the Strange Tales Annual is reprinted from the actual comic and not the original black-and-white artwork. Highlights include Dragon Man, Diablo, the Frightful Four, Daredevil, and Dr. Strange.

How to Survive an Amazon Forum Troll Attack: a Writer's GuideHow to Survive an Amazon Forum Troll Attack: a Writer's Guide by Michele Foal
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

At the risk of joining the subject matter, this is a one-joke, five-minute read. And it doesn't help that the first instance of said joke is misspelled. I can see what the author is trying to do, buy for maybe two chuckles, it falls on it's face.

Doctor Who: The BodysnatchersDoctor Who: The Bodysnatchers by Mark Morris
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Good story featuring the Eighth Doctor and his companion Sam. This one is set in the same Victorian London as The Talons of Weng-Chiang, and features a character from that story. A good afternoon read for any Whovian.

Essential Iron Man, Vol. 1Essential Iron Man, Vol. 1 by Stan Lee Don Heck, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The first volume in the Essential Iron Man series naturally features Shellhead's first appearances in Marvel Comics' Tales of Suspense.

These are some fun stories, even if a lot of them are somewhat forgettable. Iron Man battles a villain called Doctor Strange, a giant caveman robot and a mess o' Commies before getting into with his soon-to-be Rogues' Gallery: Crimson Dynamo, the Melter, the Mandarin, Mr. Doll ... okay, so even then, not all of them were classics. Captain America, the Angel (and the original X-Men) and Hawkeye the Archer (when he was a bad guy) also show up in these pages.

The artwork is a sixties' dream: Don Heck, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko all take turns at the helm, with Ditko re-designing Iron Man's golden armor into the red-and-yellow suit he was most associated with for the next 25 years.

While there are, as I mentioned, a lot of stories that read like filler, is actually is an "Essential" volume for once, for both fans of the Golden Avenger and Marvel Comics in general.

She-Hulk, Vol. 1: Single Green FemaleShe-Hulk, Vol. 1: Single Green Female by Dan Slott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first trade paperback reprinting Dan Slott's She-Hulk is a good intro to both the character and the Marvel Universe, or at least the back side of it. She-Hulk (Jennifer Walters) moves out of Avengers Mansion and joins a law firm specializing in super-hero law. There are plenty of cameos by Marvel Universe denizens, including the Thing and Dr. Strange, and of course, everybody's favorite neighborhood web-slinger. This is one of the few comic book series of the past twenty years that actually seems to remember that Marvel had a history and rich background characters before the nineties.

She-Hulk, Vol. 2: Superhuman LawShe-Hulk, Vol. 2: Superhuman Law by Dan Slott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The second trade of Dan Slott's She-Hulk is just as good as the first, featuring Jennifer Walter's first court case with her new law firm, along with having to watch over young miscreant Southpaw and work as a magistrate for the Living Tribunal (who needs to get some pants). She manages to beat the Champion of the Universe, but old enemy Titania shows up to deal her some bad cards. A great series worth a read by any comic fan!

She-Hulk, Vol. 3: Time TrialsShe-Hulk, Vol. 3: Time Trials by Dan Slott
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This volume of the She-Hulk trade paperbacks features the first five issues of the 2005 series, again written by Dan Slott. Titania's rampage has left emotional scars on Jennifer, and she now has to use a device to transform into her alter-ego. Timely Plaza is being rebuilt, but a mysterious new CEO has plans that don't necessarily coincide with everyone else's, as the first starts handling cases for super-villains as well as heroes. Another fun storyline worth reading.

Showcase Presents: DC Comics Presents: Superman Team-UpsShowcase Presents: DC Comics Presents: Superman Team-Ups by Len Wein
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

DC Comics Presents was a team-up comic that ran for nearly 100 issues starting in the late eighties. This Showcase Presents volume reprints the first 26 issues.

There are some fun stories here! First of all, you've got at least six stories each featuring artwork by comic legends Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Joe Staton, and Dick Dillin. Curt Swan, Jim Starlin and Rich Buckler also provide artwork. The stories have some continuity, with considerably more continued (if somewhat tenuously) stories than your usual team-up book. Three stories are linked by Superman's battle with best friend Pete Ross, over Ross's son, fated to become a warlord for a distant planet. Superman time-travels to with the Flash and Sgt. Rock, doesn't quite help Swamp Thing against Solomon Grundy, and literally moves the planet in an adventure with Adam Strange.

This is nearly 500-pages of good, bronze age stories. Highly recommended!

The Ultimates: Against All EnemiesThe Ultimates: Against All Enemies by Alex Irvine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book reads a lot more like an issue of the Ultimates than the previous book by Michael Jan Friedman did. For the most part, the Ultimates just don't get along very well. Even Captain America is lacking in trust in this one. The Chitauri are back, working several angles to get their revenge and destroy the "virus" that is humanity.

This one was fairly well-written by Irvine, who appears to do mostly genre books and novelizations. If you are a Marvel or Ultimate Comics fan, you'll probably want to give this one a try. It more accessible for the average reader as well.

The Ultimates: Against All EnemiesThe Ultimates: Against All Enemies by Alex Irvine
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book reads a lot more like an issue of the Ultimates than the previous book by Michael Jan Friedman did. For the most part, the Ultimates just don't get along very well. Even Captain America is lacking in trust in this one. The Chitauri are back, working several angles to get their revenge and destroy the "virus" that is humanity.

This one was fairly well-written by Irvine, who appears to do mostly genre books and novelizations. If you are a Marvel or Ultimate Comics fan, you'll probably want to give this one a try. It more accessible for the average reader as well.

God Speaks by His Spirit to the Coming StormGod Speaks by His Spirit to the Coming Storm by Anthony Alan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

If you're big into theology, you might enjoy this book. There's a discussion (with "divine commentary") on the Book of Ezekiel, and a third of the book is devoted to a series of adages that are supported by scripture and bible teachings.

The book is more Sunday school than anything else - trying to drive home points through repetition. There are also instances of misogynism and blatant isolationism (where the interpretation of the "good book" is told as people should stay away from other cultures).

I only picked this one up as part of a review project on a website. It is interesting from some points of view, but it is also poorly formatted in a sort of an outline/Top Ten list style that while separating the points, doesn't lend well to casual reading.

Essential Marvel Two-in-One, Vol. 3Essential Marvel Two-in-One, Vol. 3 by Mark Gruenwald
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good volume in the Essentials series, featuring some excellent stories from MTIO. The Project Pegasus saga is reprinted here, as is the Serpent Crown and Maelstrom storylines. Great artwork by Ron Wilson, Gene Day, John Byrne. and George Perez abounds.

THE AVENGERS Battle the Earth-WreckerTHE AVENGERS Battle the Earth-Wrecker by Otto Binder
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

While this was the first Marvel Comics novel adaptation and was written by a sci-fi legend (and comic book) writer like Otto Binder, it certainly doesn't read like one. This tale would've been dated the day it was published. So much effort seems to have been spent making the Avengers' banter try to be natural and unforced, the rest of the novel suffers (and the banter comes off hackneyed anyway).

Instead of using Kang, the obvious choice, we get Karzz, a similarly high tech tyrant from the future with no real Elam and a predilection for being a polyglot. The mediocre painted cover also shows characters not in the story. This is definitely not worth paying an exorbitant ebay price to obtain; Otto's dead, so find the pdf file that is making the rounds of the net.

View all my Goodreads reviews


By Rich Meyer

Indulge yourself in nostalgia for the old days of holding the rabbit ears in bizarre positions to get what you wanted from that glowing eye in your living room! Bewitched, Car 54, Mr. Belvedere, Jack Benny, Ellen, Rocky Jones, Quark, WKRP, Sherlock Holmes, Roy Rogers, Donna Reed, SCTV, Dobie Gillis, Mr. Ed, the Prisoner and Patty Duke are just some of classics you'll find in this e-book quiz book!