Monday, May 31, 2010

June 1976: More Marvel Comics Cover Logos!

Doug: Welcome back to our second of three looks at the cover logos that appeared on our favorite Marvel mags in the summer of 1976. Today, again alphabetically, we'll look at several covers and give our opinions on the fonts, lettering style, and of course the corner boxes.



Doug: Leading off this time is Marvel's flagship title, the Fantastic Four. What we're looking at here is the third logo that appeared on the cover, and debuting in FF #160 (July 1975) and lasting to FF #218 when the original logo returned. This logo is "my" logo, as it was on the covers during most of the time I was buying comics -- until I went on hiatus during my high school years. I really like the font, and I'm a sucker for italics -- as I said last time, it just adds a dynamism to the lettering. I also really like the headshots, even though they are in place of the standard corner box.

Karen: This is where we part ways, Doug! I liked the logo that preceded this one; in fact, after the old Avengers logo, it's probably my favorite. I also loved the old corner box with a charging Bashful Benjy!



Doug: Ghost Rider is the third sort of creepy title we've looked at (following Marvel Chillers and Doctor Strange), and it's no less creepy than those that have come before. Great font choice on "Ghost", and the wispy box that surrounds the lettering is very atmospheric -- they wanted to get a message across and I think they did. Additionally, the more modern look to "Rider" sets us up that maybe this isn't a horror title. And you simply cannot beat the corner box. Great art and it definitely shows the prospective buyer what's in store.

Karen: You're right, visually, the logo and corner box are great. That's sort of how I've always felt about the character too; visually great, but never got drawn in by the stories.


Doug: This is a tricky one to comment on, as it has all of the additional text on it due to the anniversary that was celebrated this issue. But, since I was sticking to a given month, it's what we have to work with. I think one of the more interesting concepts here is the obscuring of the title by artwork and other lettering. If you're not aware, way back when Neal Adams was in the midst of his fantastic collaboration with Roy Thomas on the X-Men, a few of Neal's cover proposals were rejected because art covered the cover logo; management was afraid consumers wouldn't be able to identify the issue. Certainly what we have here isn't all that extreme, but it did jog that memory for me. Anyway, about the only comment I'd make on the logo here is that it's big -- and since the Hulk is an overtly large character I guess that's appropriate. But it really doesn't excite me all that much. Of course my prejudice against this magazine (just never got into it) might be a factor...

Karen: Yeah, fairly unexciting logo. You know, I used to read Hulk regularly as a kid, but really can't recall any great storylines or feel much sense of enthusiasm for the book now. I may have to go back and reread some titles and see how they hold up.

Doug: Ah, the Inhumans. How I wanted to like their book. And how I didn't care for Gil Kane's pencils!! The Perez issues were a blast, but as a kid I was never into Kane's nose upshots. I've learned to appreciate his work now that I'm a "grown-up", but it ruined many a comics-reading experience for me as a waif. I like the corner box art, which I think hearkens back to Jack Kirby. The title, however, is about as uninspired as The Champions.

Karen: Blah. About as much effort was put into that logo as it was making the book a success -that is to say, very little. They never seemed to get a fair shake, although I enjoyed the Roy Thomas/Neal Adams Inhumans stories in Amazing Adventures. And hey - "the most uncanny heroes of all"? Shouldn't that be the X-Men?

Doug: Since the name "Iron Fist" has to do with a fist that is hard as iron and not with iron itself, I'm a little unclear as to why art director John Romita approved a logo that had rivets on it. Works for the next guy, seems sort of dumb here. Killer corner box, though!

Karen: You are absolutely right - that's pretty hilarious now that you point it out!

Doug: One of Marvel's top logos. Ever. It's just perfect.

Doug: Now I hope you don't call me a hypocrite, because there's not a heckuva lot of difference between the Ka-Zar logo and the Inhumans logo just a couple of images above. But this one works great for me. It's the same 3-D view of the lettering, with wording on the left side of the block. But the font is just rugged enough, and the additional coloring at the bottom of the letters gives off a dirty, or rustic, or even vegetation-type of look. This logo does what it's supposed to -- it tells me that this is an adventure book. And help me out -- is Zabu the only animal to get his spot in the corner box in the Silver or Bronze Ages?

Karen: You're not crazy or a hypocrite Doug - I feel the same way about this logo! This one looks like it was carved from stone and has an appropriately primitive feel to it. I think Zabu must have been the only animal to be featured in the corner -I don't recall Redwing or Lockjaw getting their own spots. Maybe some of the western comics might have had horses - but they probably were being ridden.

Doug: This was one of my favorite arcs of the Bronze Age! Beginning in Invaders #5 and running through this issue, the four issues were really fun! This logo, like the Captain America logo we discussed last time, is perfect -- patriotic, the right color scheme, and in spite of the rather bland font it works. Hey, the 1940's were a simpler time and this logo honors that. The Marvel Premiere logo isn't bad, either, but I was glad to see this Liberty Legion story when I was culling covers for this post.

Karen: I'm fond of this one too, for the same reasons as you. I need to replace these issues -they were in the box that disappeared when I was moving years ago.

Doug: I think we remarked last time that some of these logos could be done by any shmoe with a computer and WordArt. This one fits that bill, but you know what? I like it. I think the way the word "Guardians" is arched gives off a protective vibe. And isn't that what these guys (and gal) were all about? Love the corner box, too. Even though it's the same motif as the Dr. Strange art that I didn't like (main character, profile of the right side of the head), this group shot is nice. Yondu's fin is cool! Oh, and the Marvel Presents logo -- meh...

Karen: I like the corner box art (Romita?) but don't care much for the logos themselves.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

More Pieces to My Childhood, Gone

By now everyone probably knows that this weekend we lost two notable actors in Gary Coleman and Dennis Hopper. Rather than get into any sort of biography or litany of their careers, I thought I'd just post a couple of short videos that remind me of these men. Thanks for the memories, guys!

Gary Coleman --




Dennis Hopper --


Friday, May 28, 2010

BAB Two-In-One: Don't be a Skater Hater and Superman, the Jerk

Doug: Hey, I'm back to check out Teen Titans #49, which is cover dated August 1977. The creators were Bob Rozakis on the words with Jose Delbo and Vince Colletta on the visuals. An action-packed Buckler/Abel cover full of heroes and skateboarders draws us into a tale entitled, "Raid of the Rocket-Rollers!"

Doug: So you say, "Hmmm... sounds an awful lot like Marvel's Rocket Racer from the pages of Amazing Spider-Man!" You might be right, were you thinking that, as the Rocket Racer hit the newsstands only a month after this yarn. Coincidence? Well, it's been well-documented that the creators from comics' Big Two often had a beer together -- so who knows? All I know is that skateboards were a huge fad around that time, and I know I got one that summer!

Doug: If you've been following my coverage of the late-Bronze Age revival of Teen Titans, then you know I've been pretty hard on scribe Bob Rozakis. In fairness, I think most of us know that DC's editorial had an oft-heavy hand in story creation. So maybe what's been eating at me isn't all Bob's fault. And with this issue, I tried to approach it not only with that thought in mind, but also with a mind toward what we've all known to be true throughout most of DC's history: they were writing comics for 10-year olds. And, as I read this I tried really hard to put myself back in my bedroom as an 11-year old coming to this story for the first time. And guess what? I liked this story... for what it was.

Doug: I'll start off with a very cool, but impractical, splash page. I recall really loving this image; nevermind the fact that they're about to plunge to the ocean floor with fishbowls on their heads -- no oxygen, no pressure suits of any kind. 10-year olds, 10-year olds... OK, so no one knows what's wrong with Aqualad. Dude's not right, but apparently nothing is wrong with him. Aquaman goes all jerkface on Robin and Kid Flash, and that's about it. Back on land, Gabriel's Horn, the Titans new disco is opening to a large crowd. As I said last time, I'm thinking the term "disco" denotes records and a DJ, not a live band. Oh, wait -- 10-year olds, 10-year olds...

Doug: The evening is rudely disrupted by four guys on skateboards, calling themselves the Rocket-Rollers. They bust up the Titans and the building, then speed off to their hide-out. Turns out they're a bunch of high school/college-aged guys using technology designed by "Bryan the Brain". Seems Bryan's ticked because, due to his eggheadedness, he never got the chicks. So here's his revenge -- take out the cool kids, the Titans. After the initial butt-kicking the Titans regroup, welcome in Mal's lady friend who debuted the previous issue as the Bumblebee, and Mal himself tries out the gaudiest costume this side of Wonder Man's Christmas togs (c. Avengers #161). Another tussle with the Rollers ensues, and it's tilted more in the Titans' favor until two of the Rollers escape. And who should arrive to save the day but Aqualad -- who promptly collapses again.

Doug: The story concludes with Mal switching away from the Hornblower costume (thank the fashion police for that) and back into the Guardian costume he'd worn in issue #44. I forgot to mention that Duela Dent had changed her name from Joker's Daughter to the Harlequin -- it's a lot less clumsy of a moniker. And overall, this was a much better story than the previous two efforts I've reviewed. As I said at the top, while this wasn't great literature, it was tolerable and even a little nostalgic. Much better, Bob!

Karen: Today is a rarity: a double dose of DC! My selection for this round is DC Comics Presents #27, from November 1980. This title was Superman's team-up book, where he routinely encountered other DC heroes. I have to admit, I've never been a Superman fan. He always seemed too powerful, too perfect. When I picked this particular issue up as a teenager lo these many years ago, it was for two reasons: one, the Martian Manhunter was the guest star, and two, the awesome cover by one of my favorite artists, Jim Starlin.

Karen: Unfortunately, the interior art doesn't match up to the cover. Altho
ugh Starlin did the pencils, the inking is attributed to "Quickdraw", whom the Grand Comic Book Database states was Dick Giordano, Frank McLaughlin, "and associates". Although one can still identify the work as Starlin's, based on the overall style and layout, the inks come across as heavy-handed and without subtlety.

Karen: The writer for this story is Len Wein, although I can't help but think that Starlin may have contributed here too, particularly with the creation of the villain, Mongul, who looks a lot like the love child of Darkseid and Thanos! This is Mongul's first appearance in the DCU. He contacts Superman and blackmails him into retrieving a crystal key for him, by threatening the lives of Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Steve Lombard. Steve Lombard? I never knew he was that significant to the Man of Steel. Then again, I never read much Superman!

Karen: Superman heads off to the f
ifth planet in the Cygnus star system to recover the key. There he encounters J'onn J'onzz, the Martian Manhunter, who warns him that the key will give Mongul control over Warworld, a planet-sized war machine (hmm, where has that concept been used before?).

Karen: Now here's the interestin
g part: Superman blows J'onn off! "I'm Superman, remember? So why don't you step aside and just let me handle this? Believe me, I know what I'm doing!" Great Caesar's ghost, what a jerk!
Karen: The usual super-hero fight ensues, but it's no contest - despite all his great powers, the Manhunter is no match for the Kryptonian Kreep! J'onn even resorts to using kryptonite-tipped missiles (!) but Superman uses his super-breath to deflect them before they can reach him. After pounding J'onn into the ground -literally - our Super-Egotist obtains the key and is then met by Mongul, in a gigantic spaceship. Mongul has pulled a Brainiac-like stunt, reducing Supeman's friends to bite-size and placing them into a glass cube. Superman has second thoughts about turning the key over to the hulking Mongul and just as it appears that Mongul will shrink the cube and crush those inside, his control unit suddenly shatters. The captives are freed, but Mongul blasts the supposedly invulnerable Superman and grabs the key. At this point, J'onn J'onzz reveals that it was he who smashed the controls, while invisible. He tries to stop the villain but to no avail. Superman is just about to grab Mongul when he abruptly teleports away, ship and all.

Karen: J'onn gives Superman a well-deserved tongue lashing. "I warned you that you were dealing with forces beyond your comprehension -but you were just too overconfident -too
egotistical -to listen!" A stunned Superman mutters, "I -I thought I could deal with it! After all, I'm Superman...aren't I?"


Karen: I'd never seen Super
man presented in such a manner before. I wish I had some idea of how the character was handled in the 70s and 80s -was he always shown as so supremely (over)confident? It seemed to me like whenever I read him -this would be mostly in Justice League, as I didn't read his main title - he did seem quite assured, but then usually, he was always in the right when he made a decision. This more flawed portrayal was just the sort of thing an old Marvel fan like myself could get into. Sadly, I never got the next issue to see how Supes would make up for his arrogance. Might have to pick that up one of these days.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Tomorrow is Yesterday: The Guardians of the Galaxy!



Defenders #26 (Aug. 1975)
"Savage Time!"
Writer: Steve Gerber
Artists: Sal Buscema, Vince Colletta


Karen: Is there any device more over-used in the science fiction genre than time travel? And yet, is there any device more fun than time travel? And time travel in superhero comics - well, that's like dipping your chocolate in peanut butter!

Doug: And we know that's good!! There are truly so many possibilities. That's why I love the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Kang the Conqueror. I'd also have to say that the arc in the Avengers with the Wild West heroes was a personal fave.

Karen: Same here. That's why Defenders 26 was one of those books I just ate up as a kid. We had superheroes, aliens, spaceships, time travel, a dystopian future - this was pure joy!

Doug: Yep. While I'm using the first Guardians of the Galaxy Premiere Hardcover for my resource here, I did have this arc off the spinner racks as a kid. Really fun story...

Karen: The Guardians of the Galaxy are a group of freedom fighters from a thousand years in the future, who have crashed on Earth circa 19
75. The Defenders are trying to help them, but the presence of one of them -Major Vance Astro - is wreaking havoc with Earth's weather. It seems Astro, who is a one thousand year old astronaut from Earth, also exists as a young boy in this time, and as Dr. Strange explains, the presence of one person in two places at the same time is causing a disruption of the time stream. Now why this would affect weather is beyond me, but who cares, let's roll with it.

Doug: I got nothing... can't eve
n offer a smart alleck comment on the weather. But it was an able plot vehicle. Beats a steady diet of that earthquake at the beginning, I guess. As a kid I recall being fascinated by the notion that Vance Astro could be a child and an adult at the same time in the same story. I guess I don't care for the idea that he'd grow up to become Justice. Now you're bordering on Kang's multiple personalities!

Karen: As it turns out, young Vance Astro has stumbled upon the Guardians' crashed spaceship, The Captain America (Astro is a big Cap fan). As part of the group works to effect repairs, the elder Astro gives little Vance, as well as Dr. Strange and Nighthawk, a history lesson about "his" planet (young Vance is kept in the dark about who the Major is). This must have come right from Gerber's heart, as we are told how the people of Major Astro's world went about destroying their ozone layer, thereby destroying much of their food supply, and causing massive wars to break out. It may be hard to understand today, but when I read this as a youngster, this all sounded incredibly plausible. Much as we worry about climate change today, environmental disaster was a looming menace way back when too.

Doug: I agree. I don't think my students have any idea how, as children their age (now doesn't that make me sound like an old man... "Back when I was your age...") we faced oil shortages and the threat of nuclear disaster or war. Those were troubled times indeed, and you're absolutely right about Gerber. He often if not always punctuated his stories with real life fears and concerns. I do find it humorous, however, to see science fiction that envisions certain events by a certain time. Man, I'm glad 1982 wasn't as bad as fatalist-Gerber saw it! He did write a great line, from Vance Astro late in the book: "No world's future is predestined... only its history is absolute!"

Doug: I love that the Guardians' ship is called The Captain America! And I loved that in the scene when young Vance disembarks the ship with Martinex, Dr. Strange recognizes right away that should a national guardsman accidentally fire and hit little Vance then all of history (really in two timelines) would be irreparably damaged. Great stuff, and a little hard for the mind to wrap around as well! Although long, Vance's "history lesson" was a really good read. Having read all of the Guardians' appearances prior to this one, I must commend Gerber for his presentation in this issue. It was the best by far, and really launched the team into another set of fine guest appearances in the pages of the Avengers.

Karen: Gerber does a nice job tying in another of Marvel's alternate histories by telling how the Martians attacked and were eventually driven back by a mysterious warrior known only as Killraven. After many years
of strife, a united Earth develops genetic engineering that allows humanity to colonize the most inhospitable planets in the solar system. Two other Guardians are members of these sub-species: Martinex, a silicon man from Pluto and the group's resident scientist; and Charlie-27, a massive soldier from space stations orbiting Jupiter. The remaining Guardian, Yondu, is an actual alien, and a master of archery.

Doug: There's a little foreshadowing in the scene where the Federation of Earth is signing the treaty. One of the diplomats is of the same species as Nikki, who will be introduced in a later tale.

Karen: Yes, she would show up when the team got their own series in Marvel Presents. Unfortunately, just as things appear to be going great, the alien Badoon attack Earth and its colonies, killing the vast majority of the population and enslaving the rest. Hence, the formation of the Guardians.

Karen: The team actually first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 in 1969. They sat dormant for five years until Gerber decided to use them in Marvel Two-In-One and then here in Defenders. Our story ends with the two groups joining together on the repaired Captain America, ready to return to the Guardians' time and take on the Badoon invaders.

Doug: I've hyperlinked above to a review of Marvel Super-Heroes #18 that I did on our old blog. It was certainly a strange story by Arnold Drake with som
e far-out art by Gene Colan. Gerber's depiction of the Guardians here is much more to my liking.

Karen: I agree, I'm glad that the team's appearances were modified -it was a definite improvement. The Guardians were able to occupy a unique niche in the Marvel universe, and it was great fun to see them and the Defenders together. This is a well-crafted story that mostly serves as prologue to the next issue, where the real action begins. Sal Buscema does his usual solid work, but I would prefer to see a
different inker on him than Colletta. I don't think his light style was all that suited to Sal's powerful pencils.

Doug: I agree that Sal was quite good, but I actually thought Vinnie did a stellar job. I especially thought he was good in the opening scene with Valkyrie and her "husband". While I agree that Colletta can be too light on the India ink, for me it worked here. I'll give you, though, that Vinnie's feathering didn't look good on Charlie-27 or the Hulk -- big guys need a heavier line.

Karen: Next time around, it's the dazzling debut of Starhawk!

Monday, May 24, 2010

June 1976: Marvel Comics Cover Logos!

Doug: Several weeks ago we spotlighted some of those fabulous corner boxes that appeared on the covers of Marvel Comics in 1972. We thought it might be fun to zoom ahead a few years and look at not only revisions to some of those boxes, but the font, style, and impact of the title logos. So today we'll spotlight about one-third of the books that were cover-dated June of the Bicentennial year (why June? It was the month and year ol' Dougie turned 10!). Without further ado, and in alphabetical order, away we go!!

Doug: The first thing you might notice here is that the days of the quarter comic book are certainly fleeting! Man, was I depressed when I first encountered the price increases that would become all too common in the coming years. I'd gotten in on the tail-end of the 20-cent era, so for my formative comic years, the 25-centers were really all I'd known! You'll also see the familiar Spidey figure in the corner. But what I'd like to ask our faithful readers is a matter of preference: do you like the wide webbing behind the familiar lettering, or the more complex webbing that had appeared on covers in the Silver Age?

Karen: That Spider-Man logo is perfect -one of my all-time favorites! And the webbing is just fine.


Doug: This has always been one of my favorite logos. I love the arrow in the "A", and the slight tilt to the right gives off a real dynamism that is quite appropriate for a team-oriented action title. Of the several different logos that have appeared on the Avengers covers, this one is tops.

Karen: I'm with you Doug -this is my absolute favorite logo! It just promises excitement.


Doug: I'm pretty impartial to this one. It's really no more creative than what anyone with Microsoft Office could turn out using WordArt. I do, however, like the corner box. It reminds me of some of the animated .gifs I've seen on various microheroes sites.


Doug: Now this one... this one is a classic logo. Other than Iron Man's cover logo (which we'll see a bit later), there isn't a more fitting choice of font, color scheme, or dynamism in the lettering than this effort above. The arching letters in Captain America's name give off a sense of power and protection, and the Red, White, and Blue striping is just perfect. The Falcon's logo is no slouch, either. As to the corner boxes, "recently" reimagined by Jack Kirby on his return to the book, I like the Cap figure. I don't really care for the depiction of Sam Wilson, however. While he is certainly battle-ready, I would prefer something that evokes his power of flight.

Karen: Another classic logo. There's a real sense of motion to it, and the red, white and blue- well, that's the perfect touch.


Doug: The font on "Chills" could give one the chills! Good choice -- certainly a bit creepy, and the color change from top to bottom is a nice feature. The corner box is appropriate to what probably lay inside each month -- don't know, as I never got into the horror reprint titles.

Doug: I always liked this quirky title. What a mishmash of characters! The logo and corner box are nothing to speak of, but I did like the roll call above the title -- I thought that emphasized that those people were the Champions.

Karen: What a blah logo! No imagination used on this at all.

Doug: The logo for Conan the Barbarian is really inspired. Not only does the font for "Conan" give off somewhat of a rugged, even prehistoric feel, but the choice to place "the Barbarian" in the sword is just perfect. The corner box with Conan patiently awaiting the dispensing of his next butt-kicking is somewhat plain, but not inappropriate. Solid design on this one.

Karen: Awesome. Evocative of danger and a savage quality.

Doug: I'll say this: "The Man Without Fear" is as important to the above magazine's title as "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine" is to the Fantastic Four. Even though I never say either phrase, those comics would look wrong without the catchphrase. Again, I like the italicized font, as it plays well off the motion of DD in the corner box. This one works, and consequently was used for many years.

Doug: Meh... Although I liked this book (talk about quirky!), the logo doesn't do anything special for me. I did, however, always like the little bubbles on the corner box. In some issues, there were as many as five characters spotlighted. That design evoked memories of the old Legion Roll Calls. I've always wondered why Nighthawk is not pictured with his red cape.

Doug: Lastly (for today), we have the good Doctor, Stephen Strange. The word "Strange" looks like a font that could have been used on one of Marvel's horror reprint titles. It certainly tips the reader that something out of the ordinary, even occult or evil is within these pages. So it's fitting, to be sure. As to the corner box, I don't really care for the profile nor the strange stars and beam. It looks like Doc is shooting some energy out of his eyes -- not a power I'm aware that he ever had or used. Oh, and "Master of the Mystic Arts"? Good tagline, but not required for me like "Man Without Fear" or "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine".

Karen: A suitably creepy logo for the sorceror supreme - or was he just a master of the mystic arts back then?

Saturday, May 22, 2010

BAB Book Review - Rough Justice: The DC Comics Sketches of Alex Ross


Doug: Several weeks ago I mentioned that I wanted a copy of the Alex Ross/Chip Kidd collaboration Rough Justice. I purchased it about a month ago and finally got around to reading it. I was not disappointed.

First of all, this is billed as a sketchbook, and it is just that -- there is no finished artwork in the book. Everything is in varying stages of thought, from thumbnails to marker sketches. There is a little inking and a little wash, but that's as close as it gets to finished. So if you were looking for something akin to Kidd's other Ross volume, Mythology, you'll be disappointed. But, if you want a peek inside Ross's head, his creative process, and some of the pitches he's made to DC over the years, then you've come to the right place!
The prizes of this book are several pages of action figure turns, as well as several pages of Alex Toth-inspired character studies. Next would be several versions of covers as they developed, and some rejected cover proposals. I also enjoyed Ross's commentary on proposed ongoing series that he pitched to the powers-that-be, including a Shazam! series and an Elseworlds tale called Batboy (which would play off of several Silver Age imaginary stories). Ross admits that the rigors of putting out a written and drawn monthly might have been beyond his capabilities. Interestingly, he also admits his frustration with multiple proposals set in the DC Universe being shot down; he claims to have been spoiled by his relative freedom in the "special projects" land in which he usually resides.

I won't spoil much more of this for you -- it's worth a thumb-through at your local Barnes & Noble or Borders, and Amazon.com has a great price. If you're as big a fan as I am, then this will be an essential part of your Alex Ross collection, and your library in general.




Friday, May 21, 2010

BAB Two In One: The Conflicted Kree Captain and the Heat-Miser/Snow Miser Cousins!



Karen: I've always been a fan of Jim Starlin's Captain Marvel work, but I have to confess, I've read very little of the character before Starlin made his mark with him. So today I am looking at Captain Marvel #4 (Aug 1968), a story entitled "The Alien and the Amphibian" by Roy Thomas and Gene Colan.

Karen: This tale takes place when the Kree captain was still wearing his green and white uniform, which I always thought was a a fairly unique color scheme for a superhero. Our good captain is also quite conflicted, as he is still a loyal soldier of the Kree Empire. But his time on Earth has begun to make him doubt his cause. Thomas spends a couple of pages showing the white-haired Mar-Vell wracked with guilt over the fact that newspapers are declaring him a hero, when he knows that "it may one day be my hand which signals the fatal attack upon an unsuspecting sphere."

Karen: Mar-Vell has assumed a dual identity (like most Marvel heroes of the 60s), that of Dr. Walt Lawson, rocket expert, so that he might better
infiltrate the U.S. space defense arena. Operating out of nearby missile base "The Cape" (Canaveral?) Lawson also works with Security Chief Carol Danvers - that's right, the future Ms. Marvel. She's been around a long time baby!

Karen: The military launches a missile full of dangerous bacteria because, well, that's what the military does. Unfortunately, the ruthless Kree commander, Colonel Yon-Rogg, causes it to go crashing down to New York Harbor, where a recently reformed Namor the Sub-Mariner happens to be swimming along.

Karen: The officer
s from the cape, and Dr. Lawson, fly out to the bay. While the military men want to recover the missile and its dangerous cargo, Mar-Vell has been given another mission: prevent the Earth men from disarming the missile, so that millions might be killed. Again, we see Mar-Vell struggle between his growing conscience and his duty to his people.

Karen: Meanwhile, Namor, who has decided to try to be friends with the air-breathers he normally is always trying to wipe out, swims towards the ship carrying the missile bas
e crew. They explain the situation to him and he decides he will find the missile for them. However, he has complications when our alien captain arrives.

Karen: Mar-Vell's situation here is really a nice twist on things: while appearing to be the hero, he is in fact, the bad guy! But he's a reluctant bad guy, one who doesn't want to succeed in his mission. Unfortunately, he's being monitored by Yon-Rogg, so he can't just throw the fight. He does however, manage to manipulate things so that even as he appears to be following orders, he's providing Namor with the means to retrieve the bacteria.

Karen: The fight between
he and Namor is decidedly one-sided, as it should be. Namor is far too powerful for the Captain. Colan's work really captures the futility of Mar-Vell's efforts. His underwater scenes are quite realistic. I've always thought he was one of the best at portraying underwater action. I should also note what a great cover this issue has. It's Colan at his most dynamic.
Karen: Namor does manage to save the day, Mar-Vell still feels conflicted, and Linda Danvers still wonders what Walt Lawson is hiding. It was fun delving into the origins of Captain Marvel, long before he became so cosmic.
Doug: Several months ago I gave a second look at the first issue I own of the 1970's Teen Titans revival. Today we'll take a gander at issue #47, written by Bob Rozakis with art by the team of Bob Brown and Tex Blaisdell. The story is entitled "Trouble -- Which Rhymes With Double!" and was cover dated April 1977.


Doug: I'm sorry to proclaim that Bob Rozakis' writing has not gotten better with age, whether in the short time that transpired between DC's release of issues 45 and 47 or the approximately similar amount of time since I looked at said #45. Wow. What a dumb story, and what poor characterization (and Bob Brown's art was looking an awful lot like Don Heck in some places). Look: I'm going into an unknown situation and I have Robin's leadership, Kid Flash's super speed, Wonder Girl's strength and power of flight, and Speedy's finesse and marksmanship (not to mention all of the trick arrows). I'm going to take my chances against just about anyone, including some heavy hitters I could think of. But instead, our young stalwarts get stymied by two groups led by the younger brothers of the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser...
Doug: Here's the plot -- a gang of thieves is stealing old collectibles (stamps, coins, autographs, etc.) from museums, etc. in both New York City and Gotham City. The Titans, on a hunch from Duela Dent, aka the Joker's Daughter, interrupt the heist in Gotham. They're confronted by Flamesplasher (Worst. Name. Ever.), who has a hose nozzle duct-taped to his wrist that -- you guessed it -- shoots fire; Darklight (who looks strikingly similar to the "new" Dr. Light of the 1980's Justice League), who has powers similar to Shadow Lass; and Sizematic (dressed like Marvel's Silver Samurai), who can grow. As you might expect from a team book, the Titans plunge headlong into battle, never stopping to size up the competition or formulate appropriate match-ups. And, predictably so, they get a good whuppin'.
Doug: The major subplots in the issue are the establishment of a disco on Long Island that is going to double as the team's new HQ. It's called "Gabriel's Horn", named after Mal's weapon that he appropriated back in #45. But, since it's a disco, one might find it a bit odd that the opening night entertainment would be a band and not a DJ. I'm just saying. Another subplot that got real old real fast was Roy Harper's constant doubting of Duela's allegiance to the Titans. Now I'll give you that her choice of garb and nod to a homicidal maniac is curious at the least, but her powers of clairvoyance proved true each time. Lastly, Aqualad's taken ill. The team consults Aquaman, who instructs them to basically soak him in distilled water. Sounds like what you'd do to get the lime out of your iron before you press your pants.

Doug: Yeah, Roy was on a roll and everyone was getting ticked at him. He was looking good, especially when the ol' JD foretold of a heist and the Titans engaged... not the same guys. Nope. Instead of the super-baddies I named above, they got a guy with water on the wrist, a shrinking silver dude, and a mistress of light. Of course Speedy thinks Duela set them up, and blah, blah, blah.

Doug: OK, the good guys win, Mal is feuding with his girlfriend and she's gonna show him, Robin and Joker's Daughter go off on a case and are kidnapped by... Two-Face? Yeah -- Two-Face. To be continued. Unfortunately, I don't have issue #48. However, I do have #49, and in spite of my complaining, I really liked this title as a kid -- so I'm willing to give Embattled Bob Rozakis another chance. See ya next time.
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