Ah yeah.....We're finally back with another old time comic review that'll make the fanboys and girlies swoon with glee!
Today we're talking about a comic that started off the best possible way it could and then we'll see why the light was extinguished so quickly and the book cancelled after only 25 issues.
It's the character that Marvel Comics seems to not like at all anymore. He has legions of fans and we still can't get this guy back...I'm talking about Richard Rider, The Human Rocket: NOVA!
Cover dated Sept. 1976, Nova first appeared to the masses. Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by John Buscema and iks by Joe Sinnott, this comic was a masterpiece of talent and ideas.
Richard Rider was a bit like Peter Parker, except he wasn't a science geek and had a girlfriend. But, he was still bullied and always struggled to do well in school. There was even a faint similarity to the Archie gang. He had an odd best friend named "Caps" and a redheaded girlfriend named Ginger. (Not a blonde or brunette) bullied by a guy that could've doubled as Reggie Mantle and they even went to a malt shop called "Uncle Fudge".
Rich got his powers from a dying alien that transferred his powers to him before he died. Rich soon found out that there was a whole "Nova Corps" and he now had the powers of a Nova Prime. (It worked for DC and Hal Jordan).
I really hate to give an issue by issue play, so I'll just say that this book had action, drama, and a lot of cool villains to boot.
In fact, in Nova #3, we're introduced to a character that really made me glad he didn't exist in real life. Diamondhead!
And there were other guys too....baddies like the Condor, Powerhouse, the Sandman, Blackout. Lot's of badguys to leer against.
But, If any villain could be called Nova's prime bad guy, it would have been the Sphinx. He's the age old wizard that changed his staff into a snake and threw it at Moses in the Bible. After being exiled for losing to Moses, he wandered the desert until he found the KA Stone. It made him immortal and gave him an ton of power. His problem, though, was that he was tired of living forever and wanted to die. Nothing worked, but he knew of a legend that the secret would be in a random persons mind. which happened to be good ol' Nova. Nova would've given him the info from his subconscious, but it would've wiped his mind clean and that would've sucked for Nova. The whole situation reminds me of Farscape and Scorpius trying to get the wormhole knowledge from John Crighton. (Nova came first, btw)
Nova was such a fun book for the first year or so. While Marv Wolfman wrote the series for the whole run, John only lasted 2 issues before handing the pencil duties to his brother Sal! Being a huge fan of Sal's, I was good with it. Tom Palmer inked a lot of Sal's issues too, and that just made it even cooler in my eyes. And....coupled with the fact that Kirby himself drew a few of the covers was icing on the cake.
The comic didn't take it self too seriously, either. In issue 5, Nova got word that Marvel Comics was wanting to do a comic about him. It was a really cool tie in to Fantastic Four #176 when the Impossible Man trashed the Marvel offices. (Remember, back then, Marvel had a little thing called "continuity". Strange, right?)
At any rate....Nova was a great, fun, action packed comic that really brought you back to the glory days of old Marvel.
Unfortunately, issue 14 was Sal's last issue and the penciling chores went to none other than.....Carmine Infantino!
Now, any comic fan knows that Carmine was a huge name. He was one of the main artists for DC way back when, and was the original artist for the Flash! He was a great tremendous artistic force in comics. I can't respect him enough for all that he dd. BUT.....Nova just wasn't Carmine's coup de grace (See, French stuff. This is nothing if not a classy blog). The mood of the comic became darker. The designs weren't as fun...everything just kinda lost momentum.
Unfortunately, it was the beginning of the end for good ol' Richard Rider and his gang. The final story arc had Nova teaming up with a couple of lesser known heroes and some villains to go into space to help save the planet Xandar from being conquered by the Skrulls.
I remember thinking that this big battle may be really epic and was looking forward to it when, in issue 25 on the last page, we find out that Nova has been cancelled and the cliffhanger ending would be followed up with in the pages of the Fantastic Four. I was ticked. As a kid, I didn't have time to hope a story would be finished in some unknown future time. Luckily, Marvel followed through on their promise and it did continue in the FF. So we get a conclusion (sort of) for Nova's grand storyline.
On a sidenote.... we didn't get Nova's final bit of that storyline until years later in the pages of ROM.
Of course, there's plenty more of Rich Riders story. Fans of the New Warriors saw him finally come back to Earth. And then there's the Annihilation Storyline...but that's another review.
I know it almost sounds like I didn't like this book, but I did. The first 14 issues were an A+, while the remainder was a solid C.
25 issues...a little over 2 years of storytelling. I suggest going out and getting these. There's actually a Marvel Essentials collecting the whole thing, so if you're a fan of those, you can get the whole thing even cheaper. But, go....read....enjoy. Because, in my opinion, even for the worst issues of the series, they just don't make comics like this anymore!
Every so often, I like to post some ramblings and musing about my favorite comics that you should be reading. There are so many comics out there that some folks won't give a second thought to because it's not from a movie or X-Men or Batman...whatever the case may be.
But....ol' Dann the dilapidated is here to help!
The next piece of comicbook excellence comes from 1979 and the incredible minds of writer Bill Mantlo and artist supreme, Sal Buscema. It's one of my favorite comics ever and it's the most requested character for me to draw. I give unto you my friends....ROM the Spaceknight!!
I can't say enough about this comic. Based on a rather lame toy at the time, ROM ran for a mindboggling 75 issues. No one thought the comic would last that long, but thanks to Mr. Mantlo's excellent storytelling, the book just kept drawing in more and more readers.
The story of ROM goes like this: There was an evil, nastybad race of aliens called the Dire Wraiths, and they were wanting to subjugate the entire star system...'cause that's what bad guys do.... and the only guys standing in their way was this decent, advanced race from the planet of Galador. Knowing that the Dire Wraiths were pretty rotten, the Galadorians took their best and strongest (after they volunteered) and turned them into cyborg warriors called the Spaceknights. Each one had a different power and stood only for what was right and for justice. Kinda like the knights of the Round table in a sci-fi sorta way. After being totally beaten by the Spaceknights, the Dire wraiths spread out across the cosmos to hide, recoup and start over conquering the system. There were two sets of Wraiths. The males were scientifically advanced while the females were sorcerous and magical...and both sets could change their shape into another person. which makes them being undercover, infiltrating other planets, pretty scary in their own right. After the war, all the spaceknights split up to search and banish all the remaining Wraiths to limbo. Which is where Issue #1 comes in. We see Rom landing on good old Terra Firma in a small town called Clairton in West Virginia. He eventually runs into a few of the Wraiths under the guise of the townsfolk. They look like your normal everyday humans. and, unfortunately, only ROM's analyzer let's him know that the disguised humans are really the bad guys. To every one else, Rom is blasting friendly towns people and randomly killing them...when all he is actually doing is banishing them to Limbo. There lies the confusion and the meat of the plot. Rom is trying to save us from the Dire wraiths, but everyone else thinks he's just a murdering robot.
I can't go into every story line here, but the basic idea is that Rom is trying to save our planet from the Dire Wraiths taking over. Over the course of the comic, he meets a lot of regular Marvel Universe characters. He was definitely a part of the regular continuity!
The comic had appearances by: Doctor Strange, Jack of Hearts, Powerman and Iron Fist, the Fantastic Four, Alpha Flight, the X-Men, Ant-Man, the Torpedo, Nova and even Galactus! There were more, but with stars like those, you know there was a great load of fun in the stories!
Not only did the comic have Marvelous guests, the list of Artists that did the covers was just as impressive. Guys like Frank Miller, Al Milgrom, Mike Zeck, John Byrne, Ed Hannigan, Bob Layton, Bill Seinkevich, Michael Golden, P. Craig Russel and Steve Ditko all graced the covers at one time or another.
For the interior art, we were blessed with the masterful renderings of our pal Sal Buscema for the majority of the series. Sal's work was spectacular on this book and it's one of the reasons I've been so influenced by him as an artist. The man is more talented than 20 artists at a time. He started inking his own work, but eventually, the inking chores went to inker supreme Joe Sinnott ( cue the squeals) Joe made EVERYTHING look good. As time went on Joe left and was replaced with the inking team of Ian akin and Brian Garvey. They were a little heavy handed for my tastes, but good overall. As all good things must come to an end, Mr. Buscema left the book for other projects and, with a brief issue or 2 drawn by Mark Bright, we were given the penciling stylings of Spiderman co-creator Steve Ditko! While I am always a fan of sturdy Steve, this was at a time when Mr. Ditko's art was lacking something...it was if he wasn't really too interested in drawing comics and was just doing what he could to get a paycheck. From what I've read, Steve eventually just did super rough layouts and almost no details at all. P. Craig Russell was the inker and he wound up doing a majority of the work.
Overall, this comic has/had an incredible amount of artistic talent gracing the pages, but the one constant throughout the whole series, the one huge source of continuity for the story, was writer Bill Mantlo! Back in the day, you couldn't find a comic that he hadn't had a hand in...he wrote ROM, the Hulk, Micronauts and so many more. In fact, he was the guy that created everyone's favorite alien bandit, Rocket Racoon! Regretably, many years ago, Bill was involved in a hit and run and he suffered severe brain damage....bringing a close to his writing career. His talent is sorely missed
Enter the Primitive World of KONG The Untamed!
1975 saw a lot of comics from DC. The company did a major push to put anything and everything on the spinner racks. Basically, it was a time where companies would throw an idea on the wall and hoped it stuck.
Lasting only 5 issues, Kong the Untamed was a product of Joe Orlando, Alfredo Alcala and writer Jack Oleck.
Joe was an extremely prolific writer/editor in those days. The man had a million ideas and I think he tried them all at one time or another. The story of Kong was a sad one.The setting was millions of years ago when man was just getting to be a little more than your basic caveman. The first issue starts with Kong's mother ATTU about to give birth to him. Attu was a kind "witch" that worshipped the moon, while his dad was your basic jerkwad caveman tribal leader named Trog. He was a creep that believed he was the "greatest ruler the tribe will ever have" kinda guy.
Now, back in the day, everyone had black or brown hair...anything else was just weird. A bad sign. Super unlucky. Not a good thing to be a blonde in one million BC.
Guess what color hair Kong had?
Which, as you might guess, made everyone hate Kong...especially Trog. Why? Because of the prophecy that said a "yellow haired man will usurp Trog's rule".
Eventually Kong and his mother get kicked out of the tribe and they're forced to live on their own for many years. After a lot of hardship, Kong grows into a teenager and Trog decides, like any good dad, that his son needs to die to protect his rule. Evading Trog, having a few adventures here and there, Kong meets up with the beast man Guart! Guart eventually becomes a traveling companion to Kong but only after Kong's mother is killed by Trog & his tribe of creeps. Towards the end of the issue, Kong vows revenge!
Throughout the first 3 issues, Kong is plagued by the always present threat of Trog and his tribe trying to capture and kill him.
Issues 4 and 5 take a slight turn as dinosaurs are introduced. We also meet Rolen and Sharra, a nice young caveman couple that are constantly in fear of Sharra's mother Jelenna, another moon witch that really hates men.
The last 2 issues also have some pretty disturbing death scenes for something from the 70's. A pretty gruesome burning at the stake kind of thing really bothered me for some reason.
There is a rumor that I can't seem to find out if it's true or not, but I've heard that Kong is a direct decendant of another DC caveman character Anthro. If anyone knows anything about that, I'd really like to know for sure.
All in all, Kong the Untamed was a pretty standard fare caveman comic, but it did have some good moments too.
As stated earlier, Joe Orlando created and edited this 5 issue adventure, but the real treat is the fantastic artwork by one of the industry's finest, Alfredo Alcala. For me, I always remembered Alcala inking John Buscema's Conan from Marvel, but this comic was visually a treat.....
Until issue #4.
Alcala left to pursue other projects, so enter new penciler, Tony Caravana and inker, Jo Ingente. While neither are bad artists their art styles just didn't seem to mesh with the primitive semi-dinosaur land. So, like so many of the 70's Implosion comics from DC, a new art team came in on ish. 5...David Wenzel and Bill Draut. If the previous team didn't mesh with the landscape, this one destroyed it. Again...the artists were talented enough, but it was like having Steve Ditko illustrate a Bernie Wrightson horror story...it just didn't work.
Speaking of Mr. Wrightson, one of the bigger draws for Kong was that his art graced the first two issues covers. Really good looking stuff!
And so, with issue #5, Kong's story ends. It really wasn't a bad story as I truly believe if the book had been given a decent chance and a suitable art team, this book could have been a much bigger comic.
I've always had a soft spot for DC's Implosion era comics. Maybe the collector in me saw the fact that there weren't too many comics to find and buy so I was more apt to jump on them.
So if you're looking for something a little different, a little quirky, and fairly easy to find at conventions, then give Kong a try....you just may like it!
Huzzah, It's been a while effendi's!
The past few months have been pretty busy with getting the final awesome, jaw dropping issue of that explosive hero Starbomb out and put to bed. Writing, penciling and inking a 48 page special takes time. Which is why todays review is about DC comics' longest running 12 issue limited series "Camelot 3000"!
Camelot 3000 was cover dated December 1982. It was a limited "Maxi-Series". Meaning it was to only run 12 issues and was slated to be a monthly comic.
Written by Mike W. Barr and drawn by Brian Bolland, this comic was seriously GOOD! Early '80's Bolland was a total treat to see. Try finding an entire one issue comic with his art in it now is almost impossible. This comic also showcased the inks of Bruce D. Patterson for the first half and the second half went to inker X-traordinare Terry Austin! I was as surprised as everyone else that Popeye wasn't drawn into the book.
This series is exactly what it seems. It's the year 3000 in England and Earth has been over run with nasty, reptilian like aliens and there doesn't seem to be any hope left for mankind....until the main character Tom Prentiss, runs across an old crypt which houses the man that legend says will arise one day and reunite England in her most dire times.
After awakening King Arthur, the two go on to find Merlin. Merlin gives Arthur the details of what he has to do to save the planet and Tom finds himself in a futuristic version of "The Once and Future King".
This story deals a lot with reincarnation. Along with King Arthur coming back, Merlin is able to awaken 6 reincarnated souls to help Arthur as the new Knights of the (slightly smaller) Round Table!
Guinivere has returned, as has Lancelot, Galahad, Gawain, Percival, Kay and Sir Tristan.
Guinivere is an American Commander of the Allied Resistance, Lancelot is a French Billionaire, Galahad is a Japanese warrior and Gawain is from South Africa. The remaining 2, Percival and Tristan, find that reincarnation may not be so hot, as Percival is an "undesirable" and has been transformed into a 7 foot tall, mute monstrosity with near super human strength, and Sir Tristan is now "Lady" Tristan...not something a knight of old wants to find himself as.
Basically, it's a "Save the world from Aliens" story, with the Arthurian legends as a background. Looking back at it though... I'd say it's simply the second chapter of the classic, "Once and Future King". It is very true to the source material and if Sir Thomas Malory was alive today, (Or then), I think he would've dug it!
As the story progress', we find out the aliens aren't the only danger here. Morgain Le Fay is back as well...and if you've read any of the old King Arthur tales, you'd know that that spells trouble!
This comic was kinda groundbreaking (at least, for American comics) on a few different levels.
First, there was a slight hint of nudity throughout the book. Just look at Morgain Le Fay's outfit and you can guess where a lot of it came from. The comic also featured the first "girl kissing girl" scene that I'd come across in a comic.
Lot's of graphic violence is in the comic as well....but it's no where near the stuff you'd see in today' comics. Everything was mostly hinted at....this wasn't the Authority!
The biggest thing about this comic though, was the time it took to get this made! Like I said earlier, issue 1 was dated Dec. 1982. Issues 2,3,4 and 5 went along smoothly...then, the scheduling of the comic just went nuts! #5 was released in April and #6 came out in July. #7 was in August, so we all thought, "Yay, the wait is over!" Boy, were we wrong. Between August 1983 and April 1985, issues 8-12 were released. Nowadays, when the young kids get all mad and stuff that All Star Batman is a month late or The newest Avengers comic was postponed till the following week, I just look back and let those whippersnappers know we waited a whole 2 and a half YEARS for issue 12 to come out! And we liked it!!
But I guess that's history now, because YOU, o' frantic reader, can run out and get all these 12 gems of Arthurian goodness in a trip to the back issue bin. It's the comic version of waiting till your favorite show goes on Netflix!
I just re-read all 12 issues and I can honestly say...if you like a great story with superb characterization that keeps with the spirit of all the legends that came before it, along with eye popping Brian Freakin' Bolland artwork....you'll love this run!
Originally, the books cost $1.00, and later $1.25. You may pay the same or slightly more for the back issues, but it's well worth it! Go out now...support your local comic book store and buy these issues!
Welcome friends and fanatics, to my first ever unabashed blog of news, notes and nostalgic musings!