Thoughts on online comics archives

[I clicked on the “add new post” link on my BBn dashboard and the site didn’t react. It just sat there, motionless. It woke up after a second click. I guess it wasn’t expecting to ever be used again.]

Marvel Comics has a great online service called Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, which allows users to read thousands of back issues for a monthly fee. It’s awesome, but I’m a DC guy these days, and I just don’t get why DC Comics hasn’t done it yet. If they did, I’d sign up in a second. (more…)

Legendary Comic Book Heroes

As I think I’ve made abundantly clear on this site, I collect action figures. I started doing so as a wee tyke, beginning with a little plastic totem of Mighty Mouse, then on into He-Man, Star Wars and the original Transformers and finally Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. After TMNT, I had a brief period where I read comics and bought a few figures; then a Transformers renaissance in which I produced a fan fiction novel; and then the money that had been previously funneled into action figures was redirected to Magic: the Gathering for most of my high school career.

In my freshman year of college, for whatever reason, I started buying action figures again. At the time it didn’t seem that strange to me–after all, I’d been buying toys all my life–but in retrospect, that was obviously a turning point. I had become an adult (more or less), but I still wanted toys. And yes, I’ve had a few of the more grown-up toys over the years, such as videogames and Ipods and PCs and such, but I still spend a good amount of my income on little plastic men.

Why? I have no idea.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that the epic storylines I created with my toys back in the day were my earliest attempts at writing, and even today I think the way I write is largely a form of play. With that idea in mind, I eventually came up with my idea of the perfect action figure line. (more…)

Savage Dragon/Hellboy


In my question to own any and all comic appearances of Hellboy, I finally picked up a copy of Savage Dragon/Hellboy, which collects two issues of Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon comic featuring a guest appearance by the wielder of the Right Hand of Doom.

Quick history lesson: In 1992, when the post-Batman comic book boom was at its peak, a number of Marvel Comics’ most popular artists left to start a new company called Image Comics. While Image’s fortunes have waxed and waned over the years (they currently publish the bestselling Walking Dead), two original Image titles have continued ever since those early days: Todd McFarlane’s Spawn and Erik Larsen’s Savage Dragon.

The Dragon is a green-skinned, super-strong fellow with a big green fin on his head and an (until recently) unknown origin. He appeared in a blaze of fire with no memory of his past and was recruited to fight (supervillainous) crime by the US government.

Hellboy is a red-skinned, super-strong fellow with filed-down horns on his head and an (until recently) unknown origin. He appeared in a blaze of fire with no knowledge of his past and was recruited to fight (supernatural) crime by the US government.


Hellboy: Blood & Iron

Well, I’ve gone two weeks without writing a videogame-related post. There’s a reason for that—about two weeks ago, I sort of lost interest in gaming. Burned out, I guess, after four or five months of hardcore videogame obsession. It’s happened to me before; I well remember how obsessively I played Diablo in summer 1997, only to stop abruptly in late August and then I was never able to enjoy the game again.

I think a lot of people go through phases like this. And if the right game came along, I’d probably get into it. As of right now, though, the only games I’ve been interested in have been Super Smash Brothers Brawl and Konami’s Hellboy.

Speaking of Hellboy, I finally watched the second animated flick, Blood & Iron, last week. While I enjoyed the first film, Sword of Storms, Iron is a definite improvement. Where Storms had Hellboy wandering around the world of Japanese folklore, the new film brings the big red lug back to his roots, having him battle vampires and werewolves in a haunted house. The story is loosely based on the legend of Elizabeth Bathory.

Spider-Man 3

Twenty things I learned while watching Spider-man 3 (spoilers!):

The Walking Dead

The Walking DeadI seem to have an uncanny knack for getting into fads just as they’re hitting their peak, and often about to begin a decline. Case in point: zombies. I’m not sure exactly when the current zombie craze began, but starting with 28 Days Later… in 2002 there’s been quite a run of zombie mania. There was the remake of Dawn of the Dead in 2004 as well as Shaun of the Dead, followed by the return of the founder of the zombie film, George A. Romero, with Land of the Dead in 2005. The Resident Evil flicks in 2002 and 2004 also featured zombies, and zombies have been quite active in videogames of late, from the aforementioned Resident to the quirky Stubbs the Zombie and the recent megahit Dead Rising.

But nowhere is the zombie love more evident than comics. A quick glance through the racks at any comic store will reveal an astounding number of zombie-related publications. Most of these are independent, but even Marvel Comics ran a popular miniseries titled Marvel Zombies, which takes place in an alternate universe where all your favorite superheroes have become flesh-eating zombies.

Wolverine (brown costume)

NOTE: Originally published under the name “Poe Ghostal” on OAFE on 10/5/04.

I can trace my awareness of the X-Men comics—and by extension, the mutant superhero called Wolverine—to its original source: an advertisement in the back of a comic book. The ad featured a “cool” kid—you knew he was cool because he was wearing a denim jacket and sunglasses—holding some X-Men trading cards, I believe. Far more effective than the kid himself was the tagline above him: “It’s a good bet the kid’s favorite MUTANTS ain’t TURTLES.”

bring it on

Now, at the time, I was a hardcore acolyte of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fad. However, I was also dimly aware that the Turtles—with their cartoony, anthropomorphic toy line and surfer-lite catchphrases—were perhaps targeted toward an audience that was a bit younger than I was at the time.

Thus, this sunglasses-wearing kid threatened me. The ad tapped the core of my adolescent insecurity—dear God, was I worshipping the wrong mutants? While I would say advertisements have never worked particularly well on me (the only thing ads have ever done for me is made me aware of when things I might want, such as new action figures or films, will be available), this one, I have to admit, succeeded in spectacular fashion.

“Gotham by Gaslight” Batman action figure

Though on occasion I’ve gone through a period of interest in comic books, I wouldn’t classify myself as a superhero fan. I do love Hellboy, but I don’t really consider him a superhero per se. At times I’ve enjoyed reading the X-Men and whatnot, but if there’s a superhero I really appreciate, it’s Batman.

There are countless Batman stories out there, and toy company DC Direct (DCD) has worked hard to give us a figure from each one of them. But one of my favorite Batman stories is Gotham by Gaslight (1989), the first Elseworlds story (the brand was applied retroactively). Gaslight places the Batman story in the late Victorian era, with Batman tracking Jack the Ripper, who’s now running loose in Gotham.

Singer answers the Lois pregnancy question

Newsarama managed to ask Bryan Singer the $10K question: since Clark erased Lois’s memory of sleeping together in Superman II, does she not know how she got pregnant? Here’s Singer’s response:

NRAMA: After he gave up his powers in Superman II, Lois and Superman slept together. I’m going to assume that that’s when he got her pregnant…

BS: Possibly.

NRAMA: Then he gives her the kiss, which made her forget that they even slept together. Was the pregnancy a mystery for her?

BS: I ignored that part. I just assumed she remembered sleeping with him.

So there you go. Just ignore that part! But wait—does that mean Lois knows Clark is Superman? I guess you should ignore that too.

The rest of the interview is primarily Singer stating his opinion that poor marketing is the reason for Superman Returns‘s relatively unimpressive box office numbers.

Hellboy 2 lives

Even the most casual reader of this blog probably knows I’m a big fan of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy. The comic is one of the best out there, and the film, directed by Guillermo Del Toro, is my favorite comic book film.

So it was with great pleasure that I read that Hellboy 2, whose future had been in doubt after Revolution Studios announced it would be closing its doors in October 2007, has been picked up by Universal Studios—the company that passed on the first film years ago.

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