In this episode we’ll take a look back at Marvel Team-Up #74 that hit the spinner racks on July 25, 1978.
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This week I made a return trip to The Newsstand at Mike’s Amazing World of Comics to revisit the comics I bought (and missed out on) in February 1981. Comic book collecting was a big part of my life up to my late teens, and while I can’t remember a time in which my brother and I weren’t buying comic books, it really does amaze me as to how many books we missed out on back then. So here’s a look back at our purchases 35 years ago this month:
Jonah Hex #48
“The Vulture Creek Massacre” – written by Michael Fleisher, penciled by Dick Ayers, inked by Tony DeZuniga
“Devil’s Power” – Written by Ted Skimmer, penciled by Ross Andru, inked by Tony DeZuniga
Moon Knight #7
“The Moon Kings” – written by Doug Moench, penciled by Bill Sienkiewicz, inked by Klaus Janson
“And a Child Shall Deceive Them” – written by Bill Mantlo, penciled by Sal Buscema, inked by Al Milgrom
Star Wars #47
“Droid World” – Written by Archie Goodwin, penciled by Carmine Infantino, inked by Gene Day
Uncanny X-Men #145
“Kidnapped” – Written by Chris Claremont, penciled by Dave Cockrum, inked by Josef Rubinstein
Five comic books purchased that month (cover dated May 1981) for a total of $2.50 ($6.52 today adjusted for inflation). Jonah Hex #48 is one of only two issues of that title in our collection (the first was #45), and that purchase was most likely based on Tony DeZuniga’s amazing cover. I’m not sure why we didn’t stick with the title, but it’s now on my list to hunt for at the next comic con I attend. Moench and Sinkiewicz’s run on Moon Knight was by far one of my favorites of that era, and by the time the powerful cover for Moon Knight #7 hit the spinner rack that month, we were already hooked on the title. We had purchased Rom sporadically over the first ten issues of the run, but seeing Rom and the X-Men on the cover of issue #18 drawn by two of my favorite artists (if only Frank Miller and Terry Austin had collaborated more!) made this a must have. By February 1981 I was probably a bigger fan of the Star Wars comics than the films (that changed once we got cable TV and Star Wars: A New Hope played about 50 times a month), and those books were my introduction to the art of the great Carmine Infantino. But the Uncanny X-Men was by far my favorite title throughout the 80’s, in part due to Dave Cockrum’s second run on the book which began with issue #145. While I loved the stories from Claremont, Byrne and Austin’s run, it was Claremont and Cockrum’s stories that got me emotionally invested in the characters.
“The Kingpin Must Die!” – Written and penciled by Frank Miller, inked by Klaus Janson
Iron Man #146
“Blacklash – And the Burning” – Written by David Michelinie, penciled by John Romita Jr., inked by Bob Layton
Two more rare misses for titles that were consistent purchases for us back then, though I did recently pick up a copy of Daredevil #170 at a comic con recently. Iron Man #146 was one of only two issues we missed during the Michelinie/Romita Jr./Layton run.
This week I decided to take another trip down comic book memory lane via the Newsstand Time Machine at Mike’s Amazing World of Comics and look up which comics we had bought (and missed out on) during a particular month of our prime collecting years of the late 70’s to mid 80’s. Rather than using my usual 30 year benchmark I picked a year at random and decided on a look back at the comics that went on sale in April 1981. I narrowed it down to the following purchases:
Moon Knight #9
Written by Doug Moench, art by Bill Sienkiewicz
The Uncanny X-Men #147
Written by Chris Claremont, art by Dave Cockrum and Josef Rubinstein
What If #27
Written by Mary Jo Duffy, art by Jerry Bingham and John Stuart
Iron Man #148
Written by David Michelinie, art by John Romita Jr. and Bob Layton
Star Wars #49
Written by Mike W. Barr, art by Walter Simonson and Tom Palmer
Not surprisingly, our purchases (totalling $2.75) were entirely Marvel. But I am surprised at how few comics we bought off the spinner rack that month. I wasn’t reading Amazing Spider-Man or Captain America at that point, though those titles and Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man would soon be consistent purchases. Of the issues listed above, What If? #27 was and still is a particular favorite (see my earlier post revisiting this issue). Each of these issues were part of memorable runs that I still reach into the old box o’ comics to read time and again, particularly Claremont/Cockrum/Rubinstein’s run on Uncanny X-Men. I’ll still take these stories over most of the comics published today.
Fantastic Four #232
Story and art by John Byrne
Written by Frank Miller, art by Frank Miller and Klaus Janson
These two missed issues were a surprise to me. Byrne’s run on FF and Miller/Janson’s on Daredevil are still favorites of mine from that era, and I’m still not sure why we hadn’t picked up these two issues off the spinner rack back in April 1981 or as back issues over the last 30 odd years (I finally read FF #232 in its original form in IDW’s John Byrne Artist Edition). They’re now high on my list of books to seek out and buy at the New York based conventions this year, along with several other titles available that month such as Amazing Spider-Man, Captain America, New Teen Titans, Jonah Hex and Warlord.
When I cut back significantly on buying comics over the last year, I wondered if that was pretty much the end of collecting for me. But discovering what I missed out on over the years has lit the fire in me to keep collecting (even if they are primarily back issues), complete runs started way back when, and start a few more along the way.
Based on the strength of Iron Man 3’s performance last weekend, grossing $170 million domestic and $680 million worldwide, moviegoers and critics that predicted (and in some cases hoped for) the decline of the comic book movie will be disappointed.
For a guy that grew up in an era that didn’t have that many comic book movies released, and with many of those that were released not measuring up to their respective source material, it feels like we’re finally living in a Golden Age of comic book movies and I’m hoping there’s no end in sight.
Sometimes my comic book fandom interfered with my ability to enjoy a comic book film on its own merits. I used to be a staunch believer that a comic book movie had to be as close to the printed source material as possible, but I’ve had a change of perspective over the last couple of years. When the first wave of comic book movies was released, my complaints usually began with the changes made to the superhero costumes. (Wolverine’s yellow costume wasn’t cinematic enough? Then use the brown costume!) But over a time, a personal caveat like Captain America’s costume deviating from the classic Joe Simon/Jack Kirby design was overshadowed by my pure enjoyment of a film. Now I accept the need to balance respect for the source material (particularly the characters and their origins) with the new ideas filmmakers can bring to the franchise. Rather than seeing the film version as a verbatim representation of the comic book, I now go into each film wanting to see it as a new adventure for the characters.
With the latest influx of comic book related films summer has now become my favorite time of year for moviegoing, and this summer’s lineup of releases has me planning my trips to the multiplex.
Here’s a look at the upcoming comic book films for Summer 2013:
Man of Steel
Release Date: June 14
Directed by Zac Snyder; Screenplay by David Goyer
Starring Henry Cavill (Superman/Clark Kent), Michael Shannon (General Zod), Amy Adams (Lois Lane), Russell Crowe (Jor-El), Kevin Costner (Jonathan Kent), Diane Lane (Martha Kent)
See the trailer here.
Man of Steel is the summer 2013 film I was looking forward to the most. Back in ’06 the trailer for Superman Returns, complete with a voice over by Marlon Brando from 1978’s Superman: The Movie, made me think that Bryan Singer had taken the first step in reigniting the Superman franchise. Unfortunately the trailer was better than the film, which was little more than a re-hashing of Lex Luthor’s scheme from Richard Donner’s Superman. This time around, everything about the trailer for Man of Steel has me wanting to see this film. While it is a reboot, it has elements from both Superman: The Movie (the origin story) and Superman II (General Zod). The tone is a little darker than I expected but the cast, from Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent and Michael Shannon as General Zod, looks fantastic. Christopher Reeve instinctively comes to mind when I think of the role of Clark Kent/Superman, but I’m looking forward to seeing Henry Cavill’s take on Superman/Clark Kent.
Release Date: July 19
Directed by Dean Parisot; Written by Jon Hoeber and Erich Hoeber; Based on the comic book by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner
Starring Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Helen Mirren, Mary Louise Parker, Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones
See the trailer here.
I hadn’t read Warren Ellis’ and Cully Hamner’s comic book mini-series prior to seeing Red in 2010. The film wasn’t on my radar at the time and I rented it because I thought it would be a fun movie. It ended up as one of my favorite films that year, and Red 2 is one of the films I’m looking forward to the most this summer. Willis, Malkovich and Helen Mirren played well against each other in the first action comedy, and from the looks of the trailer Red 2 is cranking up the firepower with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Byung-hun Lee.
Release Date: July 26
Directed by James Mangold; Screenplay by Mark Bomback
Starring Hugh Jackman (Logan/Wolverine), Will Yun Lee (Silver Samurai), Svetlana Khodchenkova (Viper), Hiroyuki Sanada (Shingen Yashida), Tao Okamoto (Mariko Yashida)
See the trailer here.
Wolverine. Japan. Silver Samurai. ‘Nuff said. Watching the trailer for The Wolverine brought me back to the early 80’s and Marvel Comics’ four-part Wolverine mini-series by Chris Claremont, Frank Miller and Joe Rubinstein and Uncanny X-Men #172 and #173 by Claremont, Paul Smith and Bob Wiacek. Silver Samurai is one of the more under-utilized villains of the Marvel Universe in my opinion and his appearance vs. Wolverine in Uncanny X-Men 173 (September 1983) is one of my favorite hero/villain match ups of the 80’s.
Release Date: August 16
Written and directed by Jeff Wadlow; Starring Aaron Tayl0r-Johnson, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonathan Mintz-Plasse, and Jim Carrey
August’s Kick-Ass 2 brings back Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s teen heroes. Like Red, the first Kick-Ass was another unexpected surprise for me when it was released in 2010. Red Mist (Mintz-Plasse) is back for revenge as The MotherF***er, and Jim Carrey’s Col. Stars and Stripes joins Kick-Ass and Hit Girl in this adrenaline fueled sequel.
This looks like a good summer for comic book films with a good balance between superheroes and action comedy, but it’s only a primer for 2014 and the upcoming releases of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and X-Men: Days of Future Past. Luckily the release of Thor: The Dark World on November 8th will hold us over until then.