Friday, February 20, 2015

Discuss: Favorite Comic Book Guest Stars


Karen: I know I have mentioned this, but I'm reading the Sub-Mariner Masterworks, and our friend Triton of the Inhumans guest stars in five different issues! Sure, there aren't a lot of water-breathing super-folk out there to choose from, but he worked well with Subby.  I recall him also hanging out with the Fantastic Four quite a bit in the mid to late 60s (not as much as Crystal, but often enough), and of course he popped up now and again in other books, like the Avengers during the Kree-Skrull War. Of all the Inhumans, other than Blackbolt, Triton was my favorite; it might have been his noble demeanor, his faithfulness, or maybe just that great Jack Kirby design. In any case, he made a great guest star.

Karen: Another guy who fits this category:  Hercules. The lion of Olympus had a couple of great runs as a guest star in Thor -the first time early in the Lee/Kirby era, when he and the thunder god battled Pluto; and then again, in the 70s, when Gerry Conway brought him back to join Thor and his companions. Hercules' jovial, carefree attitude played well off of Thor's more dour nature. And like all good wingmen, he was adept at both getting him into and out of trouble!

Karen: Who are some of your favorite guest star characters?


39 comments:

Humanbelly said...

Very good topic! It'll take a bit of proper mulling, I think. Both of your examples suggest that the type of guest-star we're considering is the hero or character who is familiar, but possibly didn't have an established title all their own (or maybe were trying to establish a title, at least). Otherwise, Spidey in the Bronze Age is pretty much impossible to avoid as a ubiquitous guest star. And don't even get me started on Wolverine-- pretty much post-Bronze up through right now (not my favorite by a long stretch-- but popping up everywhere you look--- I mean, Wolvie as a Guest Star in Power Pack? Really??)

HB

Colin Jones said...

First of all I've got to mention that Thor cover - it was included in the first Thor Treasury Edition and is dated May 1966 so it came out in Feb '66 which is the month I was born. The ultimate guest star must be the Silver Surfer - after the cancellation of his own series he had nothing to do so just popped up everywhere.

Colin Jones said...

Or that's how it seemed :)

Anonymous said...

The Black Widow in Daredevil springs to mind. DD wasn't too well defined as a character at the time, so a regular guest star - well, co-star might be more accurate - really worked well for the book. Even when Miller reworked DD, there was still room for Elektra... although maybe that's crossing over too much into recurring villain territory.

Other than the Widow, the only other support gigs I can recall that got a regular billing on the cover title were the Falcon in Captain America and Green Arrow in Green Lantern. But surely there were others....

-sean

Humanbelly said...

I feel like the Widow, Falcon and GA might fall more under the heading of recurring/supporting cast, rather than guest stars, y'know? Although it's probably a fuzzy line, yes.

Silver Surfer is an excellent call. I also think Dr Doom may be the one villain who achieves "Guest Star/Guest Villain" status-- as I don't think there's a major book he didn't show up in at some point. Well, that I'm familiar with. Did he ever appear in any of Dr Strange's many series?

In fact, Doc Strange had a tendency to pop up in many other titles, although it was often as a cameo, in an Occult Expert capacity.

HB

Edo Bosnar said...

I thought of Hercules as well, and also Black Widow. However, it's funny that you mentioned Namor, because it occurred to me that he was one of my favorite guest stars in the late '70s and early '80s. He tended to pop up in not only the FF, but also in Spider-man, Iron Man and so forth. And as with Hercules, there was always a good chance of some punches traded between him and the main hero before they got down to taking care of the real menace, villain, whatever.

On the DC side, one thing I always liked was when Robin (after he moved out of the Wayne Manor) or Batgirl showed up in any of the Batman titles.

And HB, you're right about Spider-man - besides having a few of his own titles, including a team-up book - being a pretty ubiquitous guest star back in the '70s and '80s. However, it never bothered me in the way Wolverine (or Punisher) did later, for several reasons: 1. at the time he was my favorite character, so I liked seeing him anywhere possible, 2. he was kind of the symbol of Marvel, so it just sort of made sense, 3. it kind of cemented that sense of continuity and community among all of Marvel's titles, and 4. Spidey's just such an affable guy, as opposed to cool 'n' gritty types like Wolverine or Punisher...

Redartz said...

Since HB covered Dr. Strange already (always enjoyed his appearances), how about Man-Thing? Not that his guest shots were that numerous, but the times he did show up were memorable. Not counting his visits to Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-in-One (again, always a good story), he did have a few appearances outside his own short-lived series. My favorite was the excellent Micronauts #7. Great story blending the Micronauts' more sci-fi venue with Manny's earthy/swampy presence. Story by Mantlo, beautiful art by Golden, and Adams cover inks to boot!

Colin Jones said...

Does Rick Jones count ? And Dracula popped up in Dr. Strange and Spider-Man.

Doug said...

Black Widow was a regular guest-star in Iron Man and the Avengers back in the Silver Age.

Shorter storylines that I enjoyed include Luke Cage's brief tenure in the FF and Black Goliath's few issue run in the Champions.

Over at DC, the Creeper turned up every now and again.

Edo, I agree about the appearances of Robin and Batgirl, but I have to admit that it always struck me as odd that they were treated as guests in a book in which they seemed to belong. We could add Man-Bat to this piece of the conversation as well.

Doug

Edo Bosnar said...

Doug, I suppose you're right about Robin and Batgirl, but somehow it just always seemed kind of cool when, especially, the "older, wiser" Robin showed up to help Batman out - it always gave me this sense of "oh, yeah! It's just like old times again!"

Colin, I think Rick Jones counts, but was he really anybody's *favorite* guest star? :P

Anonymous said...

How about Nick Fury, or for that matter, SHIELD in general?

Edo, I'll echo your sentiment about Spidey's guest appearances and the sense of continuity and community. In fact, I would extend that feeling to most superhero guest appearances. In the days before all the mega-events and multiple crossovers, any time I saw a comic with a "guest" hero, I hoped it would be special - and it usually was to me. Now it's just been done to death.

Tom

Anonymous said...

I can see how the Black Widow could be considered as supporting cast, but I'd argue that what makes her different to, say, Foggy Nelson - apart from having a shiny skin tight black costume - is that she had a presence as a character outside the DD book. But yes - probably a fuzzy line.

On the other hand, surely we're looking for something more than just a team up? Like - Luke Cage and Iron Fist (hey - I knew there were other double headers) wasn't necessarily an obvious pairing, but once put together had a chemistry beyond the standard Marvel mix and match.

On the subject of Dr Strange and Dr Doom - that's another combination that might not seem likely on paper but worked really well - the Triumph and Torment book by Roger Stern and Mike Mignola is great. Probably my favourite Marvel team up ever (definitely check it out, HB)

-sean

Rip Jagger said...

I fell in love with the Triton character from his frequent Subby appearances. He had much higher profile than his Inhuman cousins, and such a natural affinity for the Sub-Mariner's environment, that he always worked better there than in the FF.

Though this started in the Silver Age, the Flash and Green Lantern have always been considered friends and seemed to get together in each other's titles regularly, at least once a year it seemed. When Green Arrow came along that seemed to fizzle but not completely.

Another character who might fit the guest-star role is the Deadly Nightshade who often showed up in Captain Atom comics, though they were not a formal team.

Rip Off

Doug said...

Before he, like Wolverine, became so bloated in the 90s the Punisher was a good guest-star in Amazing Spider-Man.

Of course Spidey had some "Marvel Team-Ups" in his own mag, hosting Nightcrawler and Nova.

I liked the Angel/Iceman 2-parter in the Peter Parker mag, as well as the Daredevil appearance (Miller's 1st on the character).

The interesting thing about a mag like the Defenders is that you'd like to say Yellowjacket, Daredevil, or Son of Satan "guested" -- but that was really the point of that book anyway!

Doug

Doug said...

Apologies to Edo, who had mentioned the Punisher above.

I got caught not completely reading today's comments. Demerit!

Doug

david_b said...

Hawkeye..!!

MTU 22, CA&F 179.., and Hulk 166 which led into Clint's Defenders stint. I loved the occasional Avenger drop-in in later Defenders issues, like YJ in ishs 23-25.

Doug said...

David!!

Hawk's CA&F appearance = one of the best rubber mask reveals ever!

Doug

Humanbelly said...

Thank you much for the recommendation, sean. And my mind's eye is kind of anticipating (and liking) the idea of Mike Mignola's art on that kind of story.

I'd forgotten how Man-Thing did indeed have a stretch where he popped up a LOT. Howard the Duck; Incredible Hulk (a couple of times)-- surely a couple of more, yes?

And Dracula showed up in the X-Men! Remember? Kitty's Star of David didn't work on 'im. . . and I think Storm got turned? (Wasn't a high-point in the book, IMHO.)

You know what, though? I think I'm going to go right back up to the mainstream choice above, and declare good ol' reliable Spidey as my official Favorite guest star. And I think that's because he quickly became one of those characters who seemed to write himself. For the most part, almost all of Marvel's writers were able to capably capture his "voice", so it always felt like it really was "Spidey" popping into another book. This was one of the major, MAJOR fails during the Wolverine-Guest era many years later. EVERYONE got to use him, and NOBODY seemed to have ever read how talked before they got their hands on him. So he often just spouted a laundry list of his "tough-guy" catch-phrase cliche's, or he was completely amped-up on attitude w/ no underlying substance, or he even had no idiosyncratic speech mannerisms at all--- just another interchangeable member of the old JLA, as it were.

Say, didn't Supes & Batman go through periods over at DC where they, too, were being used to boost interest in other titles? The oddest one may have been in KAMANDI, where it was actually just Superman's empty uniform that ultimately made the appearance (and yet. . . it was strangely effective. . . )

HB

Dr. Oyola said...

MY favorite Inhuman, Lockjaw, is a recurring guest star in the current Ms. Marvel series (which is amazing, btw - the closest thing to early Spider-Man with a modern sensibility).

Of course, Human Torch whenever he showed up in ASM was always great (and I have a related guest post planned for later this year).

Currently I am collecting every pre-90s appearance of Brother Voodoo, and what I love about it is that whenever he shows up you know things are about to get weird and dark (and probably ZUMEVBIES! are gonna show up)

So that leads to my follow-up question to this post: which are the guest stars whose appearance signaled something serious (or silly and stupid) is about to go down?

Dr Strange is a clear example. . .

P.S. I liked Wolverine with Power Pack. If there is one thing that 90s and later Wolverine got right (and it might be the only thing) was in developing his relationship with kid characters.

Doug said...

We'd be remiss if we didn't mention the JLA/JSA annual team-ups.

There, I did.

Doug

pfgavigan said...

Hiya,

Quick question for Humanbelly, if you're referencing the story where Dracula attacked Storm in regards to Kitty's Star of David being ineffective against the vampire, are you sure?

My vague memories regarding that story, didn't particularly care for the death of one of my favorite Tomb of Dracula characters, was that Dracula was able to ignore the crucifix or cross that she held because she had no faith in them but her Star of David was effective against the Undead.

If I'm wrong I'm wrong and I apologize in advance.

pfgavigan

pfgavigan said...

Hiya

My apologies, source of confusion discovered. Marvel produced a What If comic on that theme with the X-Men becoming vampires with Wolverine as the Lord of the Vampires.

It was a convoluted mess typical of the early 90's Marvel.

Sorry for the speed bump in the comments.

pfgavigan

Edo Bosnar said...

For the record, I really hated the Dracula vs. X-men stories - I just thought mutants and vampires didn't mix.
However, I do recall the details being discussed here: Kitty's Star of David did indeed have an effect on Dracula. He felt a burning sensation on his hand when he grabbed her throat and touched it. What didn't work was when Wolverine formed a cross with his claws, because he wasn't a believer; Nightcrawler, a practicing Catholic, then picked up two pieces of wood and made a cross and this managed to ward off the vampire.

Karen said...

Great comments today. This post started as an ode to Triton and then morphed into a guest star post -that's just the way things work out sometimes! But I always had a fondness for the green Inhuman.

Subby was a fun guest star too -he usually was the source of grief for a book's star. Looking back, there were a lot of covers with Subby throwing down with other guys -Thor, Iron Man (a lot), Daredevil, Spidey -just about anyone!

Silver Surfer is a good choice too, as is Dr. Strange. I think 'over-powered' characters like them are often better as guest stars than as leads -but haven't we had that discussion?

Martinex1 said...

I have to leap on what Edo said earlier about Namor. That guy was everywhere. Invaders, Defenders, an Avengers' stint, Alpha Flight guesting with his wife Marrina, FF appearances, frequently in ASM, in Iron Man more times than I thought, not to mention his own mags, Marvel Team Up, and Two In One. No wonder he's cranky; overtaxed and no recognition as the hardest working king under the sea.

But I always liked when another character in Namor's book showed up....Stingray. I know he is a minor C List Character, but I always thought Walt Newell had more potential and enjoyed his guesting in Avengers, Two in One, etc.

I liked when Scott Lang's Ant Man guest starred in Iron Man and Avengers and Micronauts.

Also, as mentioned Nick Fury popped up often. In the 70's/80's I liked his appearances. Then he just got overused. I preferred when SHIELD was a little more undercover and not into everybody's business.

Redartz said...

Martinex1- looking as you did to 'c'-listers, how about Cloak and Dagger? Mostly asso iated with our Friendly you- know- who, but it seems they had some appearances elsewhere too. There was a good Team-Up Annual with them, the New Mutants and Spidey.

And Sean, that Dr. Strange/ Doom story sounds like a winner. Have to find a copy...

Anonymous said...

Moon Knight used to pop up in different places when he didn't have his own mag; my first introduction to him was in a MTIO story.

At DC, the JLA seemed to get a lot of guest stars: Adam Strange, Phantom Stranger, Black Lightning, Metamorpho, etc.

Mike W.

Humanbelly said...

Cloak & Dagger were also part of the Power Pack Guest Star experience, yep. Man, Marvel tried so hard to make some iteration of that title catch on. . . and it just never really did. Their origin was so convoluted that having them "drop in" on a book as guest stars was a sure indicator that there'd be a long origin explanation that never conveyed well as expository material. . .

HB

Ewan said...

I always loved when the Legion of Super-Heroes showed up, like when they joined the JLA/JSA crossover in JLA 147 and 148. Something about seeing them interact beyond their title or the usual Superman family was always cool to me (like the Brave & Bold team-up they did with Batman as well).

On a lighter note, I like the funny stuff too like David Letterman guesting Avenger 239. Or weird "why would this ever happen" moments like the Badger showing up in Marvel Epic's Coyote series (if anybody else on the planet even remembers that).

J.A. Morris said...

Does Jean DeWolff count as a guest, or a regular member of the "supporting cast."

Mantlo and Milgrom made great use of the Black Cat in SSM.

I enjoyed the Bronze Age Drax whenever he showed up in various books.

Anonymous said...

I love the z-listers

Stingray, Sunfire, and Paladin

also Lockjaw


starfoxxx

J.A. Morris said...

Here's another:

Scott Lang was used nicely in the Bronze Age. His incarnation of Ant-Man made some memorable appearances in Avengers & Iron Man.

Other than the Steranko issues, I was never a big fan of Fury, but count me among the fans of "Nick Fury, guest star."

The Prowler said...

I think this may be shoe horning in an appearance in this category but when Magneto took Xavier's place as head of the Westchester Academy. To me, it was enough of a redefining of his role as well as his character that it just might fit.

And with Triton's first appearance in the Avengers, didn't Clint identify him as the guy who spoke at the UN on Subby's behalf or as his ambassador?

And speaking of the Avengers, I remember Rick Jones went on just about every Avengers caper for a while there. And there was that constant "Will we make him an Avenger with a costume" and "should Rick's status be the same as Wasp's"? I always thought the Wasp was a founding member?

(You took advantage of my trust in you when I was so far away
I saw you holding lots of other guys and now you've got the nerve to say

That you still want me
Well, that's as may be
But you gotta stand trial
Because all the while

I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles
I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles and miles
Oh yeah).

Anonymous said...

The Coyote and Badger...? Suprisingly enough, I do recall both of them. Was more into the original Eclipse Coyote, mainly due to an enthusiasm for Marshall Rogers (although preferred Scorpio Rose - just trying to one-up Ewan there!) Early issues of Badger made me laugh, but suspect they may not hold up too well now...

Can't imagine a crossover really working though - a lot of those 80s indie characters weren't developed enough to hold their own in a team up. Except Cerebus and Flaming Carrot of course...

-sean


Colin Jones said...

In Roman Polanski's film 'The Fearless Vampire Killers' there's a Jewish vampire who's not deterred by a crucifix but reading the other comments he should have been as long as the person holding it had enough faith - which had never occurred to me (or the film-makers).

Colin Bray said...

My call is Jack of Hearts, especially during Mantlo's Iron Man run but other places too. He was a great visual and his powers complemented other heroes really well.

Honourable mention goes to The Impossible Man - always amusing and I treasure his appearance in MTIO #60 for being both funny and touching.

Colin Bray said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Hmmm my fave guesters would have to be Spidey, Hulk and Hercules. Spidey because you know Marvel's flagship character would inevitably be involved in any title; besides, ol' webhead always seemed to add bit of good interaction - add a wisecracking teen superhero and watch him play off the other characters.

Hulk was also one of my faves. Whenever ol' greenskin popped up you know stuff was gonna go down, and not in a quiet way! As for Herc, well like Karen said the Prince of Power also made an impact with his carefree brawling nature.


- Mike 'until Howard the Duck guests on the Punisher' from Trinidad & Tobago.

William said...

I always seemed to buy books when Daredevil would show up. One of my all-time favorite guest appearances was Captain America #234-236, when Cap was being mind-controlled and DD jumped in and saved the day. It was a true classic Marvel superhero vs. superhero battle and subsequent team-up. I loved that one so much that I actually recreated one of the panels for an art project when I was in 9th grade.

If your curious the panel I redrew and enlarged was from Cap #234, page 15, panel 4. (It's a cool shot of DD swinging toward the 'camera' with some buildings behind him). I think I got an 'A'. :)

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