Tagged: Marvel

Dick Ayers: 1924-2014

Dick Ayers

Avengers comics sales history -- five decades, assembled!“Daring” Dick Ayers, an Eisner Award Hall-Of-Famer best known as an inker for Jack Kirby during the 50’s and 60’s during Marvel’s rebirth in the Silver Age, has passed away. He had just turned 90 last week.

Ayers may be best known for inking some of the earliest issues of Fantastic Four, and he was the signature penciler of Marvel’s World War II comic Sgt. Fury And His Howling Commandos. Ayers started as a artist in the 40’s (where he co-created the original Ghost Rider), later teaming up with Kirby in 1959 over at Marvel. Ayers went on to ink scores of Kirby Western and monster stories, including such much-reprinted tales as “I Created The Colossus!” from Tales of Suspense #14, “Goom! The Thing From Planet X!” from Tales of Suspense #15, and the immortal “Fin Fang Foom!” from Strange Tales #89.

As Marvel Comics introduced superheroes in the early 1960s, Ayers inked Kirby on the first appearances of Ant-Man (Tales to Astonish #27 and 35, Jan. and Sept. 1962), Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos (#1-3, May-Sept. 1963), and the revamped Rawhide Kid (beginning with The Rawhide Kid #17, Aug. 1960). He inked Kirby on the second and several subsequent early appearances of Thor (Journey into Mystery #84-89), plus others; on Fantastic Four #6-20  and the spin-off Human Torch solo series in Strange Tales (starting with its debut in issue #101); and Avengers #1. He also inked Steve Ditko on Iron Man, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk, among many many others.

Ayers took over from Kirby as Sgt. Fury penciler with issue #8 (July 1964), beginning a 10-year run that — except for #13 (which he inked over Kirby’s pencils), and five issues by other pencilers – continued virtually unbroken through #120 (with the series running Ayers reprints every-other-issue through most but not all from #79 on).

He was a frequent convention guest in recent years, and was one of the last living creators of the Marvel era. Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

Snarky Synopsis: “Original Sin” #0


Original Sin #0. Written by Mark Waid. Art by Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis, Juan Vlasco, and Justin Ponsor.

It’s that time again. No, not when the swallows return from Capistrano. No, not when Dan DiDio polishes his head in the Shine-O-Ball-O. It’s epic-crossover time, kiddos! Marvelous Mark Waid puts his pen to paper for Original Sin #0, a cosmic odyssey that focuses on the supreme perv of the 616, The Watcher. Ole’ Uatu is destined for a possible dirt nap, and let’s just assume a ton of fallout will occur. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’d clearly have known that… had you been an all powerful, big headed, poorly dressed voyeur. But you’re not, so you’re likely wanting to know how the prequel – such as it were – fares. If I were to bestow upon you a fair and just warning that a major cosmic event is about to occur? You’d be long dead before it comes up concerning this review.

Issue 0 of Original Sin anchors itself with the newest Nova of Earth, Sam Alexander. Waid is quick to establish his voice – cosmic Peter Parker. Simply put, it’s impossible to read through the issue and not be reminded by Marvel’s everyman. As Sam quips, zaps, and stumbles his way through the issue, every smirk that crept to my mouth was adjoined by the feeling I’d been there before. The plot, as it were, is as straight-forward as you might get. Nova, in between telling himself his life story (assuming he doesn’t know he’s a comic character), comes to a great and grand universal mystery: Why does the Watcher watch? This is opposed to Who Watches the Watchmen, which everyone knows already. So, with the innocence of a child, Sammy takes to the moon to ask Uatu if he watches Dateline: To Catch A Predator.


Marc Alan Fishman: I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends

When I made the leap to the other side of the aisle, I did so because I had my brothers from other mothers right next to me. And because of both of them I’ve continued to push myself to do things I honestly didn’t think I’d be capable of. Thanks to Kyle Gnepper, I write this column. (OK, it helps that Mike Gold lets me.) Because of Matt Wright, I’ve gone from gingerly tiptoeing around 12 pages of simple interior art to crashing my way through 18 pages of the most complicated, action-packed work I’ve ever done. It’s because of those friends I smiled at complete strangers and pitched my wares with a steely grin, confident that the product on our li’l eight footer could stand next to anything else on the convention floor, and be considering a quality book.

I made that leap, and figured that the world of independent comic bookery was a lone-wolf business. DC and Marvel, Image, Avatar, Boom, and others – places I’d kill to be a card-carrying employee of – but knowledgable enough to know that it takes them coming to me (and me being worthy of them) that would make that dream come true. And given how cutthroat the industry felt from the outside looking in, I always assumed that the introverted artists holed up in the Alleys were happy to sell you a book, and drown their sorrows at BeerCon when the show ended; alone. Now, after half a decade in the trenches? I know now how very wrong I was.

I started in this business alone with my logo-mates in tow. I type before you now, amongst a veritable community of cohorts – all of whom share in my successes, and console me in my failures. It’s only fitting I take time out to give them their due. My column this morning is an affirmation that the Artist Alley is not a dark and scary place. In fact, it’s the most inclusive and sobering reminder that my dreams are what crush the perception of loneliness I’d anticipated long ago.


Mindy Newell: Columnist Columnizing

Newell Art 140421“Don’t you wish you had a job like mine? All you have to do is think up a certain number of words! Plus, you can repeat words! And they don’t even have to be true!” – Dave Barry

Some thoughts this week reflecting upon my fellow ComicMix columnists’ opinions…

Last week Martha Thomases felt compelled to once again write about the bullshit practice of attacking women who “o-pine” (as Bill O’Reilly says) and dare to speak “truthiness,” as Stephen Colbert puts it, in her column, Criticizing Criticism. Toward the end of the piece Martha wrote about a panel at Washington, D.C.’s Awesome Con (held just this past weekend) that she was planning on attending. The name of the panel was “Part-Time Writer, Full Time World.” All the panelists were women, and apparently they were going to “O-pine” and “speak truthiness” about balancing the demands of a full time job, of being a parent, of having a part-time job – with these women, the “part-time” job is writing – with having time for your personal life, all while keeping a sane thought in your head. She made an excellent point when she pointed out that there were no men on the panel.


To (mostly) quote myself in the “comments” section of Martha’s column:

“As far as the full-time job/parenting/writing/hobby balance thing, it’s not a question of whether or not men don’t do any parenting. I think a lot of men are extremely involved in their kids’ lives these days.

“But what I think what Martha is pointing out is the assumption by the con runners, or at least those who set up this particular panel, that it’s only women who are dealing with this conundrum. Or, to give them the benefit of the doubt, maybe they just wanted to do a “Women in Comics” panel and thought this would be an interesting twist on the subject. Either way, it does seem somewhat sexist–against both sexes for a change!

“The answer, btw – and I feel that I am qualified to answer this conundrum because I was a single parent, and also because I’m now watching Alix and Jeff juggle parenthood, work, and school – is, paraphrasing a certain global sports apparel company:

“‘You just do it’…

“While seeking plenty of help from family, friends, babysitters – and sometimes, if you’re really lucky, an understanding boss or editor.

“And then, when the kids are all grown up and have families of their own, you have the luxury of being a grandmother, and you can just love and spoil the kid and then hand him back when you’re tired or he get’s cranky or it’s just time for you to have some

“And be proud of yourself, because you just ‘did’ it.”

Denny’s and Marc’s columns made me think once again of how Marvel is doing everything right, and how DC is doing everything wrong. As I indicated in last week’s column, Marvel’s creation of a “telefilmverse” has been just brilliant in its adaptation of its comic universe’s history, in its invigoration of old concepts and old heroes, and in the excitement and joy its inventiveness is creating in both old and new fans.

I grew up a total DC geek in its Silver Age. I loved The Legion Of Super-Heroes, Superboy, Green Lantern, Supergirl, and the “Imaginary Stories” of Julie Schwartz’s Superman. In the 80s and early 90s I was hooked on all things Vertigo (Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, Grant Morrison’s Animal Man, to name just a few), Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans, George’s Wonder Woman (even before I co-wrote it), Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen’s Legion Of Super-Heroes (before I was involved), Dan Mishkin, Gary Cohn, and Ernie Colon’s Amethyst, Princess Of Gemworld (ditto), Mike W. Barr and Brian Bolland’s Camelot 3000 (ditto) and many more. Back then DC was a groundbreaker, an innovator, “Bold” and “Brave.”

Today when I think of DC I think of words like moribund, and mired, and morose.

Today, like Marc Alan Fishman, I say, “Make Mine Marvel!”

Paul Kupperberg’s review of  The King Of Comedy http://www.comicmix.com//reviews/2014/04/17/review-king-comedy/ is dead-on. If you haven’t seen this movie, see it.

John Ostrander: Happy, happy, happiest of birthdays! I left you a comment, but I don’t know where it went, because it’s not there now. Just know that I wish you everything you talk about in the column – to live even longer than your paternal grandfather and his continue to bang out comic series and a new novel on a regular basis. I can’t wait to read the new GrimJack series, and that brilliant novel that resides on the New York Times Bestseller list for longer than Harry Potter, Twilight, and The Hunger Games ever did. I want to see Peter David green with envy (just teasing, Peter!) with your success. Hell, I want to see me turn green with envy and choleric with bitterness about your success! And I want you to remember, bro, in the words of that old poet-hipster, James Taylor…

You’ve got a friend.


Marc Alan Fishman: All New or All Now?

Fishman rt 140419Over the last few weeks I’ve made a concerted effort to balance my pull list between DC and Marvel. As I’d been gone from weekly books for a few months, I figured it’d behoove me to give a fighting chance to both of the big boys of comics to impress me. To prove to the self-proclaimed king of snark, that there exists good mainstream cape and cowl rags still on the racks. For those who follow my review column over at MichaelDavisWorld, you’ll probably recognize what I’m about to say. Let me not bury the lead, kiddos: Marvel good. DC bad. DC very, very bad.

Superior Spider-Man. Magneto. Ghost Rider. She Hulk. New Warriors. All books I picked up with half a snicker, save perhaps for Spidey. Launching a full-on series (as in, not a “1 of 6” mini-series like they did back in the day) with venerable B, C, and D listers is not a way to drive insane demand to the local comic retailer, I thought. Each in their own right are good characters, rich with backstory, and plenty of defining moments, don’t get me wrong. And yes, save perhaps for Magneto, all of the aforementioned titles had previously been a thing. Never though, have they been anything that you launch with guns blazing. Then I cracked them open, and gave them a read. And it all made sense. All New Marvel Now? Well, that’s synonymous with taking a risk, telling a good story, and letting characters be unto themselves. It’s a novel concept that was seemingly stamped into oblivion when Image Comics begat Spawn. But I digress.

This is not an object lesson on conceptual trends – mostly because my knowledge base would be bolstered not of first-hand knowledge so much as Wikipedia page entries. This is however, a reckoning with modern day storytelling. Marvel’s Now initiative, as I’ve noted before, seems to be about the slow burn off of older concepts and heavy continuity, and letting rise a phoenix (no, not that Phoenix…) from the ashes… born anew.

She-Hulk has been many a gal in her time. And in a single page splash on her March issue politely nodded to it. And with it, poof! The book continued to be about a bold new modern take on the character. A human (granted, a large, green, shapely human) who has intelligence, emotions, and exists in a world that doesn’t revolve around whatever team she’s seat-filling for her Hulkier cousin.

The New Warriors, reformed now after the last person forgot about their downfall a few epic-crossovers ago, set about finding their inner heroes once more. Largely (again) a team built of newbies, loose-ends, and forgotten morts (looking at you, Speedball…), the relaunch hits a small heart string of my own; harkening back to the innocent-fun of books like The Order, The Defenders (the Fraction-penned ones), and Slingers.

Magneto, yoked with just about the longest rap-sheet of who-could-recite-it-all mythology is given a chance to breathe in his own title. Now, without a Brotherhood, or X-Men yelling at him every panel… his book is a quiet, brooding, sharp bit of work. He’s weaker in his mutant abilities, and that makes him a deadlier man. And anytime a writer can write a Holocaust flashback scene that doesn’t make me feel like they’re shooting for the lowest common denominator? Well, it’s a sign something is being done right.

I could go on, but frankly, just read my individual reviews. The unifying factor that exists across all of these new books is clear to me. Mickey’s stopped cracking the pressure valve so hard. The fact that Marvel’s editors have the wherewithal to produce titles that care more about the individual truths that exist within the character(s) they’re reintroducing is beyond refreshing. Combining young and fresh talent to produce these books – each with an art style that is decidedly a step above house style only adds to the appeal. Ghost Rider’s slick magna-esque art helps feed the hellfire that churns through the LA backdrop. She-Hulk’s retro-chic flat art takes the Hawkeye approach to storytelling. And anyone around the shops in the last year or so, know that ain’t no one bad mouthing that book. The key to all of them being critically praised (by me at least) lies within the fact that each book touches in some way on the lengthy barriers to entry with each titular character, and then takes a nice ninety degree turn and goes it’s own way.

And by comparison, DC releases a book like Aquaman and the Others. A book that pulls a plot from any rote team origin you’ve already read, marries it to artwork that feels like any one of seven or eight other current DC titles, and then has the gall to double back on itself to do literally nothing to set itself apart from what has been done before it. I gave a synopsis of the book itself to my podcasting cohorts, and even they were floored at how unoriginal and awkward it all was. And here, in the New52, where there’s absolutely no chains to previous continuity, the best they could deliver was something that felt like Captain Planet (the bad United Colors of Benetton stuff) smashed with G.I. Joe (the whole evil henchmen and shrouded evil guys trying to unsuccessfully smash and grab artifacts stuff). Sad, really. Especially given the fact that a guy like John Ostrander exists, and would have done something amazing with the concept.

I could go for miles on the contrasts in presentation. I could labor all of you to churn through endless paragraphs going over the economics of it all; how Marvel and DC must keep the publishing alive less for huge profit, and more for idea incubation. I could make impassioned speeches as to how DC should consider the New52 a bust, and start All New Now’ing their way through their rich backlog of characters – letting young and fresh creative teams strip down to the bare-essentials, and enjoy telling singular stories that elevate and celebrate the essence of the characters. I’d probably spend another half page just finding quirky ways to insinuate that Bruce Timm become the EIC, and steer away from the sun. But why bother? If DC doesn’t care… for the while, neither should I.

For now… Make mine Marvel.


Dennis O’Neil: Synergy

To the best of my knowledge, it was only done once before, and that was in 1912, when audiences were treated to a simultaneous telling of one story in two media, film and print.  What Happened to Mary (a statement, not a question) was a serialized movie, the kind that was shown in sections, or chapters, stretched over many weeks, the better to lure customers back to find out what happened next. While what was happening to Mary was appearing on local screens, the a prose version of the same story was running, serialized, in McClure’s Magazine.

Voila!  Synergy, 102 years ago!

My Mary information is sketchy at best, and so I don’t know if the stunt did whatever its perpetrators wanted it to do.  Was it successful?  (A question, not a statement.) I can’t say, but I’d guess not, if only because it doesn’t seem to have been repeated, anywhere, any time.

Until now, that is.  The increasingly vast, Disney-nurtured entertainment enterprise that is Marvel, has given us both Captain America: The Winter Soldier,  which has earned $476 million so far, and it is a long way from the finish line, and an episode in the television series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that tells another part of the same story.  They did it right: you can see either the movie or the video alone, without even knowing of the existence of the other, and get full value.  But see them both and you experience a much fuller version of the story.

The job must have required some thought and effort and the professional yarn spinner in me would like to know exactly what the procedure was.  Outlines?  Flow charts? Computer programs?  What?  Or, oh my gosh, did the writers keep it all in their heads?  Or did the glitches get edited out post-production?

Some mixture of all the above?

The only complaint I have applies only to the movie and its a complaint I’ve offered before.  Hey, guys, ever hear that less is more?  There are so many explosions and other noisy events, and the climactic battles goes on for so long, that sitting there in the dark theater I grew a little weary.  Bang bang and more bang, beyond whatever narrative use could be gotten from all that flash and clash

I wonder: do the creators of superhero movies feel that the explosions are what the audience expects in an era where the ka-blooies of video games may be helping to shape our sensibilities? Do they think that the folk in the seats expect rackety pyrotechnics in massive doses? Or even demand them?  And if so, are they right?  I hope not.

The noise level on the S.H.I.E.L.D. episode was quite reasonable, possibly because television drama has a more modest gunpowder budget than motion pictures.  Score one for the tube.

So, was the experiment a success?  For me, it was, and I’d be happy too see something like it again.  Only maybe a little more quiet?

Dennis O’Neil Wants Credit For Captain America: The Winter Soldier

You probably don’t know this because it almost certainly isn’t in any of the books about the comic book racket and it happened before most you were born — in the neighborhood of 50 years — and even if you’d been there, in the offices of Marvel comics when Marvel was part of a parent company, Magazine Management, you might not have known about it and if you did know about it you might have forgotten by now because we are talking a half-century here, but… I once wrote Captain America and I’m pretty sure I used fewer words than are in this sentence.

And — stand aside now and watch your head — I hereby claim credit for the current, and generally excellent Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a film now playing at a theater near you, unless you live somewhere that is seriously rural.


How Will Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Change After Captain America 2?

If you were part of the audiences that drove Captain America: The Winter Soldier to a record breaking opening weekend, you’re probably asking how is this going to affect Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Marvel has provided us with more teasers…

Nothing will ever be the same for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. following the jaw dropping events of the blockbuster film Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, now in theaters! In the series’ latest episode “Turn, Turn, Turn,” airing Tuesday, April 8th at 8|7c on the ABC Network, Coulson and his team come face–to-face with the Clairvoyant and must deal with the greatest threat of all…one that will hit closer to home more than they’ve ever imagined.

Watch this all-new video today and go behind the scenes to learn how Captain America: The Winter Soldier will change the course of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” stars Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Ming-Na Wen as Agent Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz and Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Jemma Simmons.

REVIEW – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Marvel’s promise that everything will change after Captain America: The Winter Soldier was no understatement.  A solid plot, witty banter, some very surprising returns and couple seeds for future films resulted in what may well be the best Marvel film yet.  Marvel seems dedicated to show that not all comic book movies are the same.  The upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy is clearly set up to be an action comedy, and Winter Soldier is at its heart a political intrigue thriller.  It still carries the hi-tech trappings and gadgets of a superhero story, but it’s a much more grounded film, touching on rather sober topics like dealing with life back home after a term in combat, the eternal questions of how much freedom will people surrender in the name of safety, and the simple question, “Who do you trust?”.  There’s no way to discuss the film without hitting numerous spoilers, so before we do this, does anyone want to get off?  (more…)