Saturday, January 30, 2016

BAB Classic - Continuity, Part One: Decry it or devotion to it?




This post was originally published on February 5, 2010

Doug: We're re-running this post, as it ties in with a conversation we had about a week ago. There are two other parts in this series if you feel like spelunking.


Doug: I've been reading a few of our esteemed Bronze Age colleagues' blogs, and have noticed repeated aversions to that comic universe foundation known as Continuity. Karen and I would like to toss forth our evaluations and opinions and we certainly welcome comments at the conclusion of this post, which might further this as a discussion.

Doug: I suppose at the root of the problem is that word "universe". Once a creative team and/or editorial staff begins to craft real-life events for the protagonist and his/her supporting cast, things inevitably are set up to become sticky later on. This fictional realm where the title's cast, or as in the case of Marvel and DC (et al.), titles and casts, dwell now has moments frozen in time. This predicament is the main point of separation between the comic strip and the comic book.


Karen: Marvel had the relative luxury of being new to the scene, whereas DC was carrying around baggage from the last 20+ years. Marvel could do whatever they wanted - because as many of those early writers and artists have noted, they never thought these characters would be around so long! Marvel essentially created the comics continuity fever that most of us grew up with, by creating a fully integrated universe. We saw that the characters interacted with each other. Past events would be referenced repeatedly (remember all the footnotes the comics used to have?). Marvel built a sense of reality and history that had rarely been seen outside of such universe-building works like Lord of the Rings.

Doug: It's funny to me, re DC. Of course at some point in this conversation Crisis on Infinite Earths will be brought up, but I'll be quite frank -- I never thought (as a kid) that continuity was anywhere close to a big deal at DC. Marvel, sure -- continued stories, characters and villains crossing over all the time, big events (and I mean pre-1980's big events, like one of the FF's break-ups or an Avengers line-up change -- not the marketing junk)... DCs mostly contained one-and-done stories, and it never seemed like they were referenced later on. Even when villains popped up after a few years' hiatus I couldn't see that the new story built off of anything from before.
Doug: So concerning Marvel, it's hard to imagine that what was once the best thing about The Amazing Spider-Man has become the worst. As soon as Stan Lee and Steve Ditko chose to have Peter Parker graduate from high school (ASM #28), Peter entered our world and was marked by time. Now characters in the Marvel Universe could age. Charles Schultz's Peanuts gang didn't; over at DC Dick Grayson had been ~15 for over 20 years. Spidey was now unequivocally 18, and off to college. So Pete and the rest of the characters began to age, to experience life, and then to die.
Karen: I think Stan Lee had it right when he said the goal for Marvel was the illusion of change. Changes in relationships, powers, costumes - all of these contribute to the feeling of excitement and newness but don't really affect the main character in any significant way. Going with our Spider-Man example, even the death of Gwen was not an event that altered the Spider-Man universe in such a way that the basic core of the character was altered or violated. It did however bring an element of reality heretofore unseen in comics, and allowed the readers, many of whom were probably young men themselves, to relate to and grieve with Peter. But the basic concept of Spider-Man was unchanged.

Doug: Well since you brought it up, perhaps no events are as hallowed in the Bronze Age as the deaths of Gwen Stacy and the Green Goblin in June/July 1973. Both were surprises when they happened, and both carried enough weight that one felt that a chapter had closed in the life of Peter Parker. But then, only 14 months later there was a new Green Goblin, and as 1975 dawned there were hints that there would be a new Gwen Stacy.

Doug: Why? Sales would be the obvious answer. Fixing what many fans felt was a gross injustice? Maybe - but even that quasi-noble gesture oozed potential dollars. And I guess if we use this as a microcosm of the continuity question, we have to dwell for a moment on any publisher's ultimate goal: to turn a profit. In a perfect world, publishers would remain benevolent, always producing magazines within whose pages characters always behaved as we expect them to and change could be unexpected but would remain logical.


Karen: Peter's growth as a character continued as he got a job and got married. Personally I liked the idea that Peter was still growing, although perhaps at a rate of 1 year for every 5 real-time years. I didn't mind him being married -although I do think it was a mistake for Mary Jane to be a super-model. That took Peter out of the everyman role he should rightfully occupy in the Marvel Universe. It would have made much more sense for Mary Jane to be a struggling actress/model. But despite this, by the time the 2000s rolled around, Spidey had a rich history.
Karen: However, that rich history can also be like an anvil around one's neck. New writers may feel constricted by what stories they can tell. And by having any of the characters progress in age, the inevitability of adulthood, old age, and death starts to come into play. You almost have to commit to it fully, ie. have characters age, perhaps much more slowly than in real life, but eventually wind up hanging up their fighting togs and/or passing the mantle to someone else. But is that really what fans want? Can we imagine anyone else besides Peter Parker as Spider-Man? DC has made Dick Grayson the new Batman, but is there any doubt that Bruce Wayne will return to that role?

Doug: No, no doubt at all. By and large, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are untouchable. But one could argue that where it appeared that the entire second-tier of DC characters were allowed to move on with others taking up the mantle of Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, etc., even those changes have been reversed or at least diminished historically by the returns of Barry Allen, Hal Jordan, and Oliver Queen.

Karen: I realize I am primarily a Marvel fan, so I am sure hard-core DC fans would disagree with me, but I saw little personality at all in characters like Hal Jordan or Barry Allen. Many of these DC characters seemed almost interchangeable. I'm honestly surprised there was so much clamor for their return! And so now DC has multiple people running around with the same name. Those seem like characters where the passing of the torch really could (and I think did, particularly with Wally becoming the Flash) revitalize a title. I'm still surprised that Barry was brought back, although I do think that Geoff Johns has managed to give Hal Jordan a personality now.

Karen: But getting back to the limits of continuity - apparently the Marvel writers felt that Spidey's situation, which had been crafted over decades by numerous creators, had become unwieldy. And so we got the biggest cop-out in comics: Brand New Day. It was bad enough that they used this deus ex machina to remove the marriage; but then they went several steps further and also used it to alter his entire history.
Somehow, vast chunks of Spider-Man history were magically removed, so that Marvel could send Peter back to the Coffee Bean and relive his life.

Karen: Brand New Day was a complete disregard of not only continuity, but of Marvel's status as the 'reality-based' comics company. Marvel has always taken pride in the fact that they brought a sense of realism to comics. One might have expected them to end the marriage in a realistic fashion - say by divorce or even death. Instead, they just decided one day to revert the series to about 1975 and not make any effort to actually have it make sense.Doug: I'm very happy to report that my mind was not polluted by any of the Spider-events of the past 12-15 years or so. I got out way back during the second clone saga, which was just a complete train wreck. It was so bad, as was much of what Marvel was producing in the 90's, that one has to wonder exactly what was going on in those editorial meetings. It wasn't creativity -- no, no -- my guess is the VP in charge of marketing was running each and every editorial meeting. All style (and that's debatable) and no substance. Or at least no substance that made sense.

Karen: This is probably the biggest violation of continuity that I am aware of. DC on the other hand, seems to be fond of continually 'ret-conning' their characters' stories, so much so that I don't even know who the original founders of the Justice League are supposed to be now. It seems as if much of John Byrne's revamp of Superman has gone out the window, which I can't say I mind. But for a casual DC reader like myself, the events of all the "Crises" have only made things more confusing than ever. Back before the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, I had a pretty good grasp on the multiverse and who was on what Earth. Now? No idea.

Doug: Sounds like a nice segue to Part Two -- catch ya then, friends!

Friday, January 29, 2016

BAB Classic - Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby

This post was originally published on July 7, 2009

Doug: Almost from the very beginning of the Marvel Age, Marvel Comics began to reprint their Golden and Silver Age material for the benefit of not only a buck, but hopefully with an altruistic eye toward filling in the newer enthusiast. For books like Marvel Tales and Marvel Collector's Item Classics, covers were done with several panes, each showcasing a character or story within. However, as the Marvel line began to expand in the late 1960's, new titles were created for the purpose of keeping material from the seminal days of the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, et al. on the stands. Hence, we saw the rise of titles such as Marvel's Greatest Comics and Marvel Triple Action, respectively.




Doug: Below are some examples of covers that were used on the original titles and on the reprint mags. You'll notice that in some cases the following scenarios were applied (NOTE -- unless otherwise stated, all cover images are from http://www.coverbrowser.com/, and all creator information was obtained from the Grand Comic Book Database, available at http://www.comics.org/) --

  • the cover was reproduced faithfully in form and color
  • the cover was reproduced in form but not in color
  • the cover was redrawn
  • the cover was completely different, but somewhat faithful to the topic within
































Doug: The covers above hold a special place in my heart, particularly the Marvel Triple Action on the right. This was the first issue of the Avengers I ever owned -- it was given to me by a girl whose family was friends with our family. I can almost recall the day she gave it to me; prior to that, I believe I had a copy of a JLA/JSA crossover and a couple of funny animal comics (Mickey Mouse or the Looney Tunes, maybe?).


Doug: As you can see, these covers are basically the same with a few very minor exceptions: the coloring of the floor, color has been added to the floating heads circles, the Cap head in the corner box is larger and a different rendering, there has been a removal of some text from the call-out, and the lowering of the artwork to make room for the larger masthead. In this case, it's my opinion that each of these changes actually improves the look of the cover -- score one for the revamp-guys!

Karen: The reprint does look sharper, but is some of that due to aging on the part of the older comic? In any case, very minimal adjustments were made to that cover.

































Doug: Similarly, the two covers above show only a difference in coloring (with slight size alterations to the call-out graphics), which for me is better on the updated version. Keep in mind, however, that the royal blue uniforms are what the FF was currently wearing when this issue of Marvel's Greatest Comics hit the newsstands.
































Doug: I've always had a slight problem with the John Buscema/George Roussos cover from Avengers #42. Certainly it's not the art -- that is splendid, indeed. It's more the white cover. I know my copy, which isn't in the greatest shape, is yellowed pretty badly. Let's face it, the publishers never intended that the materials would hold up over a 40-year period of love. But overall, Avengers #42 sports one of the many spectacular efforts Big John dispensed throughout his Silver Age tenure on the title. The reprint, however, has some problems.



Doug: We can start with the color scheme. I'd take dingy-white over this black/lavender/purple trainwreck any day. Beyond the color choices, the incredibly large masthead near-necessitated that Buscema's pencils be altered; had the book been allowed to maintain the original artwork, it would either have had to have been shrunken or permitted to obscure the title. It's been documented (specifically in regard to a Neal Adams draft effort of X-Men #56) that Marvel wanted no monkeying around with the titles/logos to their books -- Martin Goodman felt that the book wouldn't sell if people couldn't read the title. So I'm guessing that the only viable option was to redo the Goliath figure. The cover art on the right is a combination of the Buscema/Roussos pencils from Avengers #42, with touch-ups by Ron Wilson (http://www.samcci.com/). It looks to me like the Hawkeye figure was repeated, although tilted to the right with the left leg and chest redone. Whether due to space or style, Wilson drew Goliath's head larger in proportion to the rest of his body than Buscema had -- the result is a much less menacing Hank Pym, in my opinion. Wanda's cape has also been elongated. I'll take the original effort on these two.

Karen: What's amazing to me is how much space the title takes up on the Marvel Triple Action book. That's easily a third of the cover! No wonder the art has a squished look to it. Hands down, the original is superior!
































Doug: Here we have an example of a cover that is near-duplicated from original to reprint version. However, upon closer inspection there is one obvious difference and a few more-subtle changes. Randy Robertson gets the shaft for the UPC code in the corner, and for some inexplicable reason the call-out in the lower right corner is re-formatted. Now, if you look closely you'll notice that all three women on the cover are shown with some type of garment (Was this Code? None of the men are shown with collars, etc.) and the colors on each of them have been changed. Why? No clue, as the color scheme of each cover is virtually the same palette. About the only other difference, and it's even more subtle, is the shrinking of the artwork to accommodate the larger logo as well as the "Marvel's TV Sensation!" call-out.
































Doug: In the above duo, the left side depicts the iconic image of Galactus (FF #49 is the first cover appearance for both Galactus and the Silver Surfer) by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott. On the right is the cover to the reprint of the same story -- this time around the cover is pencilled and inked by Our Pal Sal Buscema. I'm a Sal-fan, but at first glance I really couldn't understand why editorial chose to go away from what many Marvelites might consider to be one of the finest covers of the Silver Age. However, upon doing a little research I think I came to a pretty fundamental answer -- simple cross-marketing among titles. Take a look at the cover to Fantastic Four #122, which is cover dated May 1972; Marvel's Greatest Comics #36 is cover dated July 1972:





Doug: The cover above is by John Buscema and John Romita. The proximity of Galactus to the FF, the frame around the cover art (typical of the 20-cent period in Marvel history), and the general style of the pencils show that Marvel intentionally used Sal's artwork to piggy-back on John's 4-part epic from only a few months earlier. Again, while Kirby/Sinnott had unleashed a classic cover back in 1966, the follow-up effort certainly had its motivations from a dollars standpoint.


Karen: I think this is a good guess on your part Doug. I distinctly remember reading both of these titles when they came out, and it took me some time to understand that one was current and the other was "historical" - or at least that was the way I thought of it as a youngster.





Doug: Here is another example of a reprint where the cover art used was strictly due to the "hotness" of the artist. On the left is the original Marvel Team-Up Annual (1976) with cover art by the original artist of the All-New, All-Different X-Men, Dave Cockrum. However, by the time the Marvel Tales on the right was published, Todd McFarlane was breaking all kinds of sales records with his rendition of Spidey. No wonder, then, that he also got the gig doing covers for Marvel Tales in addition to his work on Amazing Spider-Man in this era. Nevermind that there is absolutely no connection with the more recent cover to the story within. Hmmm... trend developing?

Karen: The Cockrum cover is vastly superior in my opinion. It has a nice clean layout which gives you an idea of what's in the book. As you point out, MacFarlane's cover is simply a pin-up of the characters. I don't know exactly when this trend started but I wish it would go away! The cover should give an idea of the story in the book - something to draw the reader in. X-Men and Spider-Man fighting a giant robot: OK, I'll check it out. X-Men and Spider-Man running: not really all that intriguing.


Doug: So what's the overall evaluation of reprint covers in general? I guess out of sentimentality I'll have to side with the originals. Despite the improved technology that allowed for a richer color palette on the reprints, and in spite of more modern marketing strategies that placed then-hot or -current artists reinterpreting the covers, those new covers sort of disconnected with the original stories. I think for long-time fans, there's that relationship between cover and story that perhaps today's younger readers don't understand. With so many "portrait" covers, a good ol' fashioned cover that makes the reader have that "can't wait!" feeling. Even on a Marvel Triple Action or a Marvel Tales, knowing that what was within was as good as what was on the outside was just a great sense of anticipation.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

BAB Classic: "Cows, Pigs, and Witches! The World is Beset by Devils!" Marvel Team-Up 44


This post was originally published on 12 April 2010.

Marvel Team-Up 44 (April 1976)
"Death in the Year Before Yesterday!"
Bill Mantlo-Sal Buscema/Mike Esposito

Doug: Last chapter, folks... and I'm sorry to say I'm sort of glad. As Karen and I discussed off-site, this little story started out promising -- Spidey, time travel, lots of Avengers, Doc Doom -- should have been good stuff. And while I have fond memories of this as a kid, it is perhaps one story that hasn't held up over time. I think it suffers, maybe even as some superhero movies do these days, of too many characters cavorting around in what became a big mess of a plot. But we'll put a smile on and trudge through.

Karen: Indeed, every so often we come across these books - ones which were far more interesting in our memories than in reality! But let's finish it up.

Doug: We begin on the roof of Avengers Mansion. Moondragon is distracted by her thoughts as Iron Man approaches. I have to say, I really hated Moondragon when I was a kid. This issue of MTU was on the stands the same month as Avengers #146, and of course that was the fill-ins that ran in the middle of the Serpent Crown Affair. If you recall, that was the arc when Moondragon tried to convince Thor that he was above his fellow Assemblers. And what's more, she basically declared herself his equal. Man, I hated that woman.

Karen: I don't think you were alone. I didn't like her either. But of course, I believe that was Steve Englehart's intention when he thrust her on the Avengers. She was that rock in one's shoe, always causing some irritation.

Doug: "Rock in one's shoe" is a great way to put it! So Moondragon succumbs to the same hex bolt that had uprooted Spider-Man back in MTU #41 and is lifted into the timestream, to emerge back in 1692 to find our heroes bound on some gizmo. The Dark Rider is present (still a giant), as is Cotton Mather. The Rider commissions Mather to plunge the Soul Blade into our heroes, which will commence the transfer of their powers/energies to the Rider. Mather hesitates, and that's when Moondragon enters the fray.


Doug: Moondragon zaps the Rider with a mindblast, stunning him. Spidey, Vision, and Wanda awaken to see these new developments, and Doom stuck in some bubble doo-hickey. Spidey and the Vision leap into action to free Doom. While they free ol' Vic, the Rider reverses the mindflow back at Moondragon, who now has to see his origin.

Karen: I thought that was a really strange two page spread, where the heroes are on some altar and Doom is inside a bubble, all very magicky, but the Rider has these mechanical-looking cables coming out of his glove, linking the bubble and altar.

Doug: What was even stranger was the scene where Spidey and the Vision free Doom -- instead of being solid, the bubble peeled back like a... well, like a bubble -- pliable, not solid.

Doug: But wait, there's more! We get to see the Rider's origin as well, and it's... well, to be honest, sort of bland. Wizards, and blah, blah, blah. OK, I've about had enough. This story couldn't get over fast enough. I think, sticking to Bronze Age baddies, that we'd see this sort of thing again shortly with the Sphinx (in the pages of The Man Called Nova and later the Fantastic Four). He was much more interesting with a similar backstory. But, in case you wondered, the good guys gang up on the Rider and eventually Moondragon turns the tide and they blast him out of existence. The story does end on a touching note, as Spidey arrives just too late to save his Puritan friends. I guess I'd forgotten the last scene of the hanging -- while only the victims' feet are shown, it is a bit disturbing.

Karen: Man, you're not kidding. After grinding our way through all the hokum with the Rider, that last page is like a punch to the gut. I'm glad we're done with this one.

Doug: Agreed. This one probably could have been done in 3 1/2 issues, with a lot of the chaff left out. To be honest, some of the Witch Trials scenes became laborious to get through, but it might have been better, more emotional had the scene to the right been set up a bit better. On the one hand we got some really good Sal Buscema art, but on the other we got a Bill Mantlo who seemed to wander the longer this story went on.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Spotlight On... Pick a Creator Day!


In the past, we've discussed many, many creators. Among them are: Barry Windsor-Smith, Chris Claremont, the Filipino masters, Frank Robbins, John Buscema, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Rich Buckler, Sal Buscema, and Steve Englehart. Toss out a few more for conversation today!


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Even a Dog Food Commercial is Epic With Bohemian Rhapsody Playing Behind It



Karen: So the second trailer for DC's Suicide Squad movie came out last week and a lot of folks got very excited about it. But really, was it the movie that got them excited, or the music playing over the footage -in this case, Queen's classic "Bohemian Rhapsody"?

Karen: Seriously, they did a nice job cutting the trailer to that song. It sure felt stimulating. But I have to question whether the excitement generated was really due to the contents of the visuals, or the combination of the visuals with the soaring music. I'll admit upfront that I have pretty much no interest in seeing this film. Maybe it will surprise me and be highly entertaining. But right now, I'm thinking it would be better for me to just keep listening to the classic rock station on Sirius-XM.

Monday, January 25, 2016

BAB Classic: "Before the Awesome Power of the Dark Rider!" Marvel Team-Up 43


This post was originally published on 7 April 2010.


Marvel Team-Up 43 (March 1976)"A Past Gone Mad!"Bill Mantlo-Sal Buscema/Mike Esposito

Doug: Face Front, Marvelites -- it's the penultimate chapter to our little tour through Salem, Mass., circa 1692. When we left off, Doom had arrived on the scene in all his pomposity to face the Dark Rider. Mather falls apart, claiming allegiance to this new "angel of light". While the Dark Rider offers Mather to Doom, Doom backhands ol' Cotton, sending him reeling back toward Spidey and the Vision. It's obvious a face-off is coming!

Karen: I thought it was quite some hyperbole for Doom to say to the Rider that "It was your power that drew me here...power such as even Doom has never known!" considering that Doom had once stolen the power cosmic of the Silver Surfer! But I love the way Sal drew that backhand -whoosh!!

Doug: The Dark Rider reveals that his only interest in Doom and the others of his time is their knowledge of magic. As Spidey and the Vision now move in, the Rider unleashes a cat that had been perched on his shoulder. The cat, like the raven in the previous issue, begins to grow, posing a formidible opponent for our heroes. This scene is a nice two-page spread, where the Rider tells Doom his own origin -- it's a nice recap of the origin tale from way back in FF Annual #2.

Karen: A giant cat. Spidey and the Vision have fought aliens, robots, monsters....yet they are in trouble facing a giant kitty cat. Oh please.

Doug: The bad kitty gets whacked, but by whom? Ah, yes -- the Scarlet Witch has arrived, weakened as she is from her ordeals of the past two issues. Apparently the jig is up (or something), because all of a sudden the Dark Rider flips off his lid, revealing a quite curious look. First off, he sports a Mohawk hair-do. Next, he has shriveled lips like he doesn't have his dentures in, yet has teeth that have been filed to a point (think Dee Snider of Twisted Sister). Lastly, he grows. Really big, he grows.

Karen: This guy reminds me of Necrodamus from Defenders #1, also drawn by Sal.

Doug: Scripter Bill Mantlo cuts us away to a courtroom in Salem, as John Proctor meets his fate. Two pages are devoted to more of the Witch Trials, with the young girls frothing at the mouth and proclaiming "They be witches!" and stuff like that. Even the judge is called out.

Karen: The court room scene, as well as the Salem history lesson in the previous issue, seem over-long. Not all of us are fascinated by this particular point in history the way Mantlo seemed to be!

Doug: Back to the battle, Doom utters one of the greatest lines of his career: "Back! Back, you damnable leech!" Awesome. That is something the Doc would say. Great characterization by Mantlo.

Karen: Yes, Doom constantly referring to himself in the third person was a fitting tribute to his ego.

Doug: During all of this, Wanda is for the most part useless. Spidey and the Vision, as well as Doom, are out-classed. The issue ends with a triumphant, gigantic Dark Rider holding the defeated Doom in his hand as Kong once held Fay Wray. But be optimistic, O Keeper of the Flame -- this yarn's "To Be Continued"!

Friday, January 22, 2016

Suggestions Unboxed - Character Development Possibilities


Doug: Back in October we ran a post requesting ideas from our readers. We promised to run all of those suggestions at some point. While we've covered many of them, it's been a while since some of those thoughts graced our blog. Here's another one:


Martinex1: Here are two suggestions based on character development, both historically and potentially -- 
  • Worst plot developments ever (for me YJ hitting the Wasp) and how you would have changed it.
  • Comic team ups or relationships we would like to see (Beast and Tigra, Commander Rann and the Wasp, Fixer and Ultron). 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

BAB Classic: "Aye, They Be Witches!" Marvel Team-Up 42


This post was originally published on 31 March 2010.


Marvel Team-Up 42 (February 1976)
"Visions of Hate!"
Bill Mantlo-Sal Buscema/Mike Esposito


Doug: Here we go -- part 2 of our four-parter set in Salem, Mass. Salem, Mass. in 1692, that is! We pick it up right where our tale finished, with Spidey, Wanda, and the Vision in the heart of a witch-hunting mob led by a crazed Cotton Mather.

Doug: The mob starts to get nasty, hitting the Vision in the face with a stone. Wanda unleashes a hex against the assailant, in the form of a swarm of locusts. Can there be any doubt now that she (and her companions, too) is a witch? The Vision going intangible and then immediately hard-as-a-diamond doesn't help matters, although it does preserve our heroes lives for a short time. However, Wanda is eventually grazed by a bullet, Spidey is overwhelmed by numbers, and the Vision is knocked out of commission by a power burst from Mather's cross.

Karen:Okay, I really have got to protest how easily Spidey went down to this mob of yahoos. This is a guy who has fought the Lizard, the Rhino, heck, even the Hulk, yet he gets knocked out by a bunch of pitchfork-wielding nuts? This was a case of Mr. Mantlo doing something for his convenience as a writer, not because it actually made sense in the story.


Doug: I'd have to agree with you after you cite those super-baddies. It was contrived, wasn't it?
Doug: When Spidey awakens, he finds himself shackled by the wrists and in a jail cell with other townsfolk. Wanda and the Vision are shackled across the room from him. He has a benefactor in John Proctor, who gives Spidey a lengthy discourse on the goings on in Salem over the past year which have brought them to this point. It's a tale of voodoo, witchcraft, false accuasations, and unfair/unquestioning justice. Spider-Man soon bursts his bounds, frees the Vision, and it's off they go to find out just what the heck is going on.

Karen: So... can we safely say that Bill Mantlo had probably done some reading about the Salem Witch incidents and was fascinated by them? Because we get a heaping three pages of history right in the middle of this story! This really seemed excessive to me.

Doug: I agree with you, as an adult. But, as a child of 10, I thought it added some necessary layers to the story. Let's face it -- you just don't get stuff like that in the 4th grade. Shoot, we were probably still making Pilgrim hats and construction paper Indian headdresses at that point!!


Doug: Spying a bright light in the distance, our two heroes go to investigate. Sneaking over, they see Cotton Mather in conversation with a dark figure atop a black horse, and holding a raven. The man in black identifies himself as the Dark-Rider. The Vision, seeing Mather as the man who hurt Wanda, lashes out at him. The Rider looses his raven against Spidey, and as the Wall-Crawler moves against it, it begins to grow. An eye-blast from the Vision kills it, and it reverts to its original size. As the Rider confronts Spider-Man, the scene is interupted by a new voice -- a voice that belongs to Dr. Doom!

Karen: The Vision seemed a little too emotional here, attacking Mather rather than waiting to find out more details about what's going on. Still, considering that Wanda was injured I can let that one go. The Dark Rider's reference to "people of this time" is a definite clue that he himself is not of that time period. The plot thickens. The appearance of Doom at the end was appropriately dramatic.


Doug: Yeah, you're right. I did a quick re-read on that balloon -- I guess I'd originally glossed over it thinking the Rider was referring to the colonists. But no, Spidey clearly says that "people of this time" means he and Vizh. Spoiling our next post on this story, did you notice in one panel where the Rider's face is partially shown that he has red hair? He sure doesn't look like that in the next two issues.

Doug: Mantlo has crafted a really fun story. The historical setting lends itself to a backdrop of adventure, the characters are fun, and each issue so far has had enough twists and surprise endings to keep the reader on the edge of his/her seat. I'm looking forward to the next issue!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Suggestion Unboxed - Rave On Wednesday!


Doug: Back in October we ran a post requesting ideas from our readers. We promised to run all of those suggestions at some point. While we've covered many of them, it's been a while since some of those thoughts graced our blog. Here's another one:


The Prowler (sheesh - controlling the whole week!): "Rave on Wednesday": What's going on that you really like? Find an awesome "micro brew" line? Great burger? Find a penny with the head up?

 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Suggestion Unboxed - Throw a Tantrum Tuesday!


Doug: Back in October we ran a post requesting ideas from our readers. We promised to run all of those suggestions at some point. While we've covered many of them, it's been a while since some of those thoughts graced our blog. Here's another one: 


The Prowler: "Throw a tantrum Tuesday"-- Find a lot of kids standing in your yard? Still mad about "Maximum Clonage"? Everything you want for Christmas over $200? Still trying to find the Panini Books everybody is raving about? 


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