Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Eminem's Rap God sample: that's Captain America and the Falcon, from Power Records!

What does Eminem and your average Integr8d Fix have in common? Comic books, man. As a boy, I had two Power Records, a brand that released dramatized versions of comic books on 45 rpm, complete with a book sampling most of the comic's artwork. The first was a stand-alone Superman adventure I think was written by Elliot S! Maggin, where aliens fell to earth in the form of silver-hued bullets. The second one, I only had the record, but it was intense: Captain America and the Falcon confront the mystery of The Phoenix, a man whose thirst for revenge is born from Cap's battles in the world war before his frozen suspension. I didn't get hooked on Eminem's 2013 release "Rap God" until I was putting together a hip hop playlist this September. Not unlike when Anj and I discovered Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre back in college, I was wrestling with an angry mood over someone who cheated me of recording time after I gave up eleven Sundays of my life to give...his initials are B.S., no kidding....BS a bassist for his band's practices, among other favors, at zero recompense. DMX's "X Gonna Give It To You" plays as the background for that hilarious Rick and Morty montage where Rick and his grand daughter Summer train together, lifting weights, bulking up, so they can pummel the Devil and random bullies afterwards. I decided to get in touch with my aggression, so I put on that, "Go To Sleep," then found my way to "Rap God," which soon hooked Angela and I with, as always, those deft, juvenile, utterly slik Eminem cadences. I even looked up "Supersonic" by JJ Fad, a song whose hook I knew from school days. Angela said the case for swiping "Hey Lookin' Boy" wasn't worth nearly what the Chicago band that performs "Hey" is suing for, $25 million, I think, but I pointed out that was a way to get a few thousand listens out of the TMZ crowd, too. But who was that voice? It sounds like some kind of gangster movie serial from your grand parents' day. I couldn't get away from how familiar it seemed. I haven't listened to that Power Record in even more years than it's been since I watched cheerleaders dance to "Super Sonic," while we played the beat from the percussion section. (You don't care about the label "band geek" when you get to put showing off and music together in one go. Besides, how else was I really going to get out of the house back then?). But there he is, Captain America. "Look! I was going to go easy on you..." That's Cap talking to his partner, the Falcon, as he's throwing him off the trail with a ruse, so he can take on The Phoenix vendetta alone. Not very partnerly of you, Winghead. "Something's about to happen, I can feel it!" is Cap thinking to himself. "And if he's as bananas as you say, I'm not taking any chances." That's Captain America referring to Baron Zemo II, referred to in this story as "the Phoenix." Here, since Rick and Morty started this whole thing, maybe you'll get a chuckle out of this pairing of Rick and Eminem. Speaking of the Falcon, Anthony Mackie plays him in the Marvel Cinemaverse, but Mackie also plays Papa Doc in 8 Mile! Eminem's interest in comic books is fairly well-known. I wonder what's the chances he's going to find Integr8d Soul Comics Number One, where one page features a Rap Bot with "a laptop in" his "back pocket"? You can pretty much bet Em had the Cap 45 rpm when he was a kid, because he samples it again for "Groundhog Day." (His lyric "Captain America on It could've been Dr. Dre's idea, too, or maybe even a fresh sampling of old vinyl had simply turned this up and caught their ear. Possibly after it turned up in the huge list of samples used by Jurassic 5 a couple years before? If you want a clinic on sampling, check out the LP, Jurassic Five, classic hip hop group (whose new track "Golden" led the way to the J6's invasion of my hip hop playlist), especially track "Lesson Six (The Lecture)." The song samples 31 completely different recordings...and somewhere in there is the Power Records version of"And A Phoenix Shall Rise!" presented in Captain America and the Falcon #168.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Unity, Mr. Meeseeks, The Eyehole Man, Mr. Poopybuthole and Zanflorp: Weird characters for the win

Ten of my favorite Rick and Morty Characters 10Bird Person I covered this pair in my first post, early this week. 9Squanchy 8* The President of the United States---I bumped the Prez for Beth as my new entry, but Keith David's voice work shines. His stately regard for Rick's world-saving pop song 'Get Schwifty' is hilarious.
7Unity Do opposites attract? Such a generalization---but here, it makes a case study sort of point. Unity is a consciousness that takes over other minds and essentially replaces their will with Unity's will. Rick? Not a collective kind of guy; in fact, he won't even join an organization composed solely of different versions of himself: The Council of Ricks (which is a character in and of itself). Squanchie and Bird Person are pretty much the only grouping Rick tolerates---and after that, his daughter and her family, just barely. The decision to do something for the good of the whole, and in so doing, be a part of something larger than one's self in importance, doesn't come naturally to Rick at the point he meets up with Unity again, after some years. Maybe it's good Rick offers Unity some reflection in the face of these new planet-wide ambitions, but with Unity and a whole planet of marionettes, he's totally irresponsible.
I think Unity gave him some things to think about that do push him to truly become part of his family with Beth, but it's the one move that accomplishes this that ironically takes him away from Beth all over again. 6Zeep Zanflorp Genius of his world---a world made to be Rick's car battery, phone charger, etc. Zeep cuts Rick's power supply by introducing an alternative energy scheme that parallel's Rick's own invention, a way for the people of his microverse to build an economy and culture around generating the energy for which they were secretly created! Zeep's voiced by Stephen Colbert. So many parallels between creator genius and his creation genius, who hears and then sees the irony in repeating a lecture Rick essentially plagiarized from Morty. When they're stranded together in the Teenyverse, they try to out-tinker one another with weaponry invented in the wild. The inescapable conclusion---that Zeep's world's obsolete if Rick can't use it for a battery---gives Rick the win, but you have to imagine we'll hear from Zeep again. 5.Jerry-I kinda thought I'd put the nebbish son-in-law together in one post later with... 4.Summer A character I overlooked until she went to work for the Devil. I, too, now want to know when they're bringing her pink space ship back! So I'll get to Summer and Jerry (and Beth) and their relationships with Rick and Morty on the flipside. It's so interesting in real time that we find ourselves, in the wake of the show's concluded second season, sharing an empathetic point of view with Beth, arguably the most unlikeable character but Rick's favorite- as much as you miss the show, hey, no one could miss him more. I think he left Morty best able to carry on without him, though at first glance, the Federation's quickly-transplanted institutions on Earth solved Jerry's immediate problems of depression and joblessness. 3Mr. Poopy Butthole Here's an interesting character: he seems to have really played some part in the family's adventures, yet he suspiciously first appeared in "Total Rickall," an episode about parasites implanting happy memories so they can continue, with the family's acceptance, to multiply unchecked. The dark but funny reversal where Beth opens fire on Poopy ends that episode, only for his continued, non-parasitic reality to be continued at the season's end. Poopy finishes the episode, the same time as the viewer, then answers the door for pizza with full-on anxiety as to how things will work out for the imprisoned Rick Sanchez. We never see him otherwise. Poopy apparently has a relationship with the family, but he also observes them as a TV show. We've long said our lives were TV shows on Alien Channels. Is he a parallel universe friend, who walked in with actual memories of the family made elsewhere, and if he is, why do they accept him here and now? Remember, we've sat and speculated about a made-up guy named Mr. Poopy Butthole. 2Mr. Meeseeks- Look at Me! This surprise break-out character appears in episode five of season one. It's unclear if he is Rick's creation or if Rick simply made the Meeseeks box through which he requests help from each one. A Meeseeks is always happy to help, but it's best to give him a finite task, like cleaning the cat litter box, for example. A seemingly simple request to help Jerry reduce his golf game by two strokes ends up in a murderous, multiple Meeseeks mission. Why does continued existence in our world cause Mr. Meeseeks pain? Why does it open the door to madness and savagery? I don't know, but he's the most Sesame Street looking-thing I've ever seen take hostages in a restaurant. 1The Eyehole Man This reminds me of Elf With a Gun from Marvel's Defenders. Eyeholes are apparently delicious; Rick says they melt in your mouth. It's important you don't enjoy them in sight of the Eyehole Man, however. As seen on a multiversal television program in Season Two, he's quite jealous of anyone else's eyeholes. He's even wearing a themed costume, complete with megaphone. We've been enjoying some chocolate candies after Halloween and had quite a few laughs about the milk chocolates wrapped as eyes. Somehow we kept bring up The Eyehole Man all day on a long trip, and we really needed a laugh that day---so I'll always have affection for the pure randomness of The Eyehole Man.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Rick & Morty: Science that's more art than science

Science that's more art than science! How today's tall tales are told with Rick and Morty! by C Lue t's fun to think Rick's interdimensional career kicked off about the same time as Reed Richards did as a fictional character in 1961. If Rick's 80 and 54 years have passed, then a breakthrough like the prototypical portal gun by the time he's 26 sounds credible. Super geniuses, particularly in more abstract mathematical fields, physics, etc, that is to say, IQ's over 180 that manifest in anything but the self-destruction of the person in question, tend to have their signature breakthroughs fairly early in life. Many of our most accomplished minds complete their most difficult concentration to a breakthrough of sorts before 35. For skills where supply overwhelms and washes away one's contribution until the right attachment arises, like writing, it's all bullshit, anyway; objectively speaking, critical reflections of your work are possible, and might play part of further creative reflections of it by other artists, but it boils down to how people feel about it and how many people feel it's part of their life for any amount of time, and that will always be more a matter of opinion than science is ideally meant to be. Don't have a heart attack, writers, I do have the conviction that there is a truth to people reading what you write and engaging it with their imaginations, and that is no bs to me. But scientifically speaking, the best you can hope for to judge quality of writing might be the reach of its influence, so...inconclusive, as it needs be. One thing I love about this show: you're reminded there may well be an infinite number of realities and possibilities, some reconfigured into a life you might recognize somewhat as your own, many times over. This also means that the fictional worlds, however well we may execute our description of them, have an existence apart from our own, too. The fun the show has with the most startling and wonderful of theories and experiments done in the real world today has that pitch-perfect level of communication, of simply opening the possibilities to a general audience, in the least didactic of guises. Crude and hip enough to get away with how brilliant it actual is: that's been my opinion of Rick and Morty since the glee of Season One. I'm going to borrow a little behind-the-scenes speak I picked up from an interview with Dan and Justin. The retro-scripted dialogue resembles the “Marvel Method” of Stan Lee's Bullpen era, in that suggestions are given by the incidents in the plot, but the actors choose what to say, how to put it, and only then do artists storyboard and from that blueprint, create the director's vision of the individual cartoon episode. (Lee would offer a plotline suggestion without resolving the method, more like posing the problem for the heroes, and then his artists, heroes in their own right, would figure out how in the alloted number of pages would they solve said problem. Only then would Lee dialogue their depicted solution to his proposed problems of the month, responding, sometimes clashing, but always with as much energy as could be mustered from the inspiration at the core each time would he then give words to the drawn characters. My point is, the made-in-the-moment quality keeps up with the low boredom of threshold in everyone involved. It also sheds the brainy concepts and intelligent character depictions of wordiness, an indulgence always tempting when one discusses a subject that rewards invested intelligence. You've got to be able to appeal to idiots too, Morty. Everyone wants to be entertained. As for the idea of Rick as peer to the other fictional super-minds, I can't resist touting him as the Superman of the *uuuhht century, which urks me because I have my OWN idea for a new Superman of the 21st century, but mine's a triad of characters as one hero and Rick shows up with vomit on his mouth regularly. Dangernauts are at least supposed to live up to the highest moral code possible, but I'll let you see how that works out for yourself in Danger Bot's comics appearances-like the debut in Integr8d Soul Comics Number One, on the drawing board now! With a cat on it, occasionally. There's a devilish glee thinking of writing about Marvel's Tony Stark on a bender with Rick Sanchez, and maybe a Boy Scout Duty follow up where Tony makes a case for giving up the sauce. “Easy for you to say, Mr. I Live in Cliffside California Mansions!” Rick scoffs. More than likely, if it's Cinema Marvelverse Tony, he's probably really screwed up something when Rick and Morty meet him, maybe just maybe before he flips the switch. Mistakes can be a magnificent way to convey and glean information. Dr. Who.He messes around in time AND space. Space has so much to offer: why take chances with time travel? How can you expect the first instance of THAT to go very well? If that rules out Mr. Spock, remember that Mr. Spock's been known to travel to our present day! Who's to say all of Spock's journeys are told? You know those space warps and all. We've seen Rick enjoys sign language greetings, so they will get on fine.You could always do a tribute character (Bird Person via Hawk was actually close to that persona, the alien friend warrior) like our buddy David Anthony Kraft did with Micro Adventures #6, which also carried an homage to my favorite all-time Dynamic Defender, as I like to remember her at her sunny best. Now Patsy Walker is the kind of help Rick would probably take, and around here, we can't help but welcome a Hellcat! We have at least two, heh heh...according to Pops, anyway. Hey, at one point, Hellcat had Devil Slayer's confiscated Shadow Cloak and was going to try using it as a super hero. That cloak sounds like a fertile place for a Rick and Morty intersection of misadventures. Cool, this panel is from Defenders #61, which Mom and Dad got me for Christmas for cover price at the D & L Supply. In other words, I met her at the same time Spider-Man did! Hmm, Spider-Man... Reed Richards---y'know, before I get into Reed, I'm bored! I mean, distracted, and I'm going to give the disruption rein: I'm positing my own super genius character, Dr. Bonnie DeLighte. She's much earlier in her career. We meet her, in fact, accomplishing her first ever feat that is almost certainly beyond the scope of present human capability. At least, no one on Earth's really completed the loop she travels on purpose, and you'll find out what I mean in Integr8d Soul Comics Number One! But look, she's got many natural blessings, heart, and moves going for her and is lots more fun than stuff Professor Richards. She cares about making people smile. That's the struggle my almost autistic hero Reed has: just being a nice normal guy, remembering anything else matters, coming down to Earth...being a family.This super genius knows a thing or two about dropping strange veils that blows apart her polar stereotypes at once, believe you me. This woman, you do not have pegged. It just might be a fun exercise to team the two up Rick Sanchez and Bonnie De Lighte. And why oh why would I not try to get it to Dan and Justin somehow, if I'm going to dream, right? Well, enough of my enthusiasm, my fingers might write a check my fingers can't cash. Braniac-5
I am busted: I know he's a formidable exemplum of genius in science fiction DC, but I've read a fraction as much about him as the other folks I mention, save for Inspe---you'll see. But what I know about Legion of Super Heroes means it's always at least in the 30th century. Rick doesn't do time travel. There's your loop hole. So, that's it for that. On the other hand, in the pilot, Rick DID go to "a future dimension" to get Morty some broken leg serum, though maybe he avoids that so he doesn't have too much fun and lose his portal gun charge. Parallel dimensions, hanging out with the Flash...there's ways, but, you know, good thing Rick and Morty isn't a story engine concerned with making a plan match up like so, because time travel, once it is out of the bag, is either a broken mess or a considerable part of your storyline as you keep your details all moving along in this strange order. He's more likely to be eluding Green Lantern than working with him. Fighting evil alongside the Flash and his friends? Yeah, give me a break. He doesn't have enough black in his union suit, which is much more in the Albert Einstein “I could care” or Bruce Banner “I am going to rip it to shreds probably anyway” mode, lab coat short hand and brown pants handy for handling accidental loads when you meet things you didn't expect and they seem hungry. Let's face it, if he'd showed up in a Lee/Kirby joint around 1967, Rick Sanchez would've turned out to be the super-villain! To give the story heart, Morty would win the FF over, probably with help from Sue Richards, and I could even see the duo and the quartet parting on good terms, albeit mixed reactions.
The trick would be to give the creative side of the story over to the numerous gadgets belonging to Reed and Rick. The Council of Ricks does indeedie sound like a riff on the Council of Reeds from Johnathon Hickman's Marvel Comics run.
Hey, what if Rick found the guy who disappears to die nobly in the Negative Zone in “This Man, This Monster!” from FF#51? Yes, we geekazoids love our shorthand. And no, let's leave at least somebody at Marvel Comics dead.
The way you'd play it these days, it would be one of Reed's cock-ups that Rick happens along to help fix. Only afterwards do they begin to appreciate his skill as an intergalactic crackpot. They also aren't the police of anybody, which is something I really still like about the Fantastic Four and am glad at least in the Civil War Cap movie, there will be no chintzy Reed Richards holding people prisoner in the Negative Zone. Heh, now that would be a hilarious place for him to meet Rick Sanchez: in the middle of the worst Reed storyline you could ask for. I did say, it would be during one of Reed's mistakes, and that would fit the bill. This is what I get for thinking about it! There's also no way Rick didn't meet up with someone from Grant Morrison's Invisibles, either. And how about Heinlein's Lazarus Long? Maybe LL gave Rick the idea behind how to pull off Project: Phoenix, but Rick was younger and less interested in longevity. Then Rick found himself 80 years old in his daughter's garage and got thoughtful about notions of living on.
Finally, let's see Rick and Morty meet Inspector Gadget!
I remember when that was honestly the very best super hero cartoon on TV. How about it, Uncle Gadget? “I'm always on duty!” Penny and Summer could carry an episode thread ably between them. Imagine: lines by female characters that aren't about the male characters. I mean, really unusual, creative stuff!
OK! See, screw a format, I can't even patiently stick with a list of characters, because I don't want to! But we CAN get back to that topic; I've already started a document with observations about Unity, and Beth again, despite the fact that I didn't even list her in my ten favorite characters list. So, I'm more interested in the organic evolution of my thoughts about this funny little show of ours.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Bird Person and Squanchie: Get Together, One More Time (Rick & Morty)

Ten of my favorite Rick and Morty Characters: that sounds fun! Let's kick it off with Rick's best friends. Oh, yeah: spoilers without mercy! 10Bird Person- First of all, at least the version we apparently know now rests in peace! Thanks a lot, “Tammy.” He had some valuable insights into what makes Rick tick, conveyed while showing kindness to Morty. He's got a legendary cool past, implied more than shown; Bird Person added depth to the story in just three appearances. His effort to find a late life mate opens the downfall of a coalition of rebels living outside Federation law. It's such a silly show, but it has an emotional dimension and true personalities, too, which sets the stage, given the constant recurrent danger, for an actual story tragedy. I can't help enjoying it as an adventure show as much as a family sitcom. Bird Person's the first and best of that adventure's heroes to fall. But we never actually saw him in battle. Alas, Bird Person, we hardly knew ye. He instantly reminded me of Hawk from Buck Rogers, which he is, essentially, as much as Rick Sanchez began as a parody of Doc Martin in Back From the Future. Maybe a greenish, middle-aged, somewhat out of condition version of Hawk. A Harmonized Hawk. Funny moment: In "Get Schwifty," Morty recuperates at Bird Person's house and thanks him for the food. “What is it?” he asks. “It is random debris I found in my carpet. I do not know what humans eat.” (I guess he and Rick didn't get together for dinner often?) His fiancee Tammy, dishelved from intercourse, walks in and says, “You know ONE human likes to eat!” Oh, no, hell no, btw, this was not a cartoon made primarily for children. "Is your intention to abandon Rick, using his own portal gun? In bird culture, this is considered a dick move." Bird Person's primary motive for inclusion in each scene is to build Morty's faith in his grandfather Rick. He serves to personalize, humanize, the years of interdimensional encounters that have driven Rick crazy. Inebriated at his wedding, Bird Person tells Beth: “The road your father and I walked together was soaked in blood,” and levels with her there were “numerous atrocities in the name of freedom.” Her disappointment is that she can't steer the conversation to Rick as her father, which is comedic when juxtaposed with what should be shocking and fantastic...and as we'll find out minutes later, it's relevant, too. I'm sorry if Bird Person brought some of you readers here looking for the championship Boston Celtics teammates. 9Squanchie- With the most ambiguous word for a name and an all-purpose verb, this passing homage to Snarf of the Thundercats makes up the third in a trio of close intergalactic friends: Rick, Bird Person, and Squanchie. Along the way, they were in a band called the Flesh Curtains. If it was cool, you can fill in the blanks and say they did it. Too bad he threw away his BFF bracelet during Rick's moody toast to Bird Person and Tammy. He put aside his feelings pretty quickly when the shit went down, though. Squanchie may not look like much in a fight, but he flips the lid on the secret to THAT at the aforementioned wedding. We can only hope he got away to Squanch another day! Beth tries picking up the word; they tell her it's all in the way you say the word, which applies to many words you also wouldn't use. So why not try to appropriate the seemingly-all-purpose word “squanch”? “I squanch my family,” she says the visceral disgust of everyone around. A comedy of manners, Beth touches upon its unseemly implications, as you'll see in episode ten where he and Bird Person first appear. Beth, and her relationship to her long-absent father Rick, is the real heart of the show, according to its creators, Dan (Bird Person) Harmon and voice maestro Justin Roiland. Here's where we see much of why he was gone. What infinitessimal hope is there Beth can ever find a place in his way of life? The conflict wears both masks, comedy and tragedy, so you get the laugh on the fly, and come away with plenty for cogitation.
And this week, if anyone's into it, (and as soon as I posted, I averaged over a hit a minute) I'll be happy to tell you about: 8Unity 7Mr. Meeseeks- I paired these two entries because, as Angela pointed out, he's a kind of collective entity, like Unity. 6Zeep Zanflorp (These three, I'll do together.) 5. Jerry (I originally went with President of the United States. On second thought, my writing's leaning this whole exercise heavily towards Beth. Yes, she's ultra bitchy, but I have discovered I probably have felt the most like her of anyone in my actual life experience. Beth! Least fun of all to watch, the one I relate to best. The horse surgeon of writing, while making Jerry wages. Fortunately for me, I AM married to a goddess!!!)
4 Summer (What DID happen to her pink space ship? Angela wants to know!) 3 Beth (I've decided, to really get Rick's perspective, I had to get on board the BEth train and see her outside of her dysfunctional role of wife and mother.) 2Mr. Poopy Butthole 1The Eyehole Man ...but how much are you going to read at a time, anyway? Later!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

1983 Marvel Comics Group: the Last of the Best is at hand!

My well-documented love for the Marvel Comics Group of 1983 led me to collect all those issues I could find! I started collecting regularly at the end of that year, with Marvel Team-Up #138, then Marvel Tales #170, then Amazing Spider-Man #250 together opening my way into the Marvel Universe of that era!

So: the Sandman goes straight, Roger Stern and John Romita, Jr. with Klaus Janson bring the Hobgoblin mystery to its fever pitch, and Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, from 1965, begin what some call their magnum opus on the title they created together, the Amazing Spider-Man #31---that month's Marvel Tales reprint. (for me: it had really come out in September and might have been the first of these comics I collected at Len's Kwik Shop, two blocks from home.) How cool! Marvel Tales reprinted all fifty of Spider-Man's first issues plus his origin and three annuals. No, the writing didn't feel modern, but I allowed for that: still was I young enough to enjoy the suspense! My friend David's budding collection, rich with X-Men and Spider-Man comics from '83, gave me a sort of weird ten year old's nostalgia for the innocence of the year I was nine,in the arcade games years, Slurpee Cups I never could have that I'd stare at in second hand stores along with lunch boxes and Mego Dolls in years before---glimpses of my heroes. A battered issue with Spider-Man holding a severely wounded Black Cat in Pieta, a showdown with the mysterious Hobgoblin that involved a fiendish switcheroo and the public death of the (wrong!) Hobgoblin---I gave up my lunch money a few times and drank milk only, just to make a deal for a few Amazing Spider-Man comics at cover price. By now we were both well into Secret Wars; I'd soon double the collection I had all the years before. James Rhodes as Iron Man, replacing a debilitated, alcoholic Tony Stark; X-Men body horror and the advent of Paul Smith, taking the team to Japan and bringing us the best Final Cyclops story; romantic intrigue with Felicia Hardy, a.k.a. the Black Cat, with Mary Jane Watson returning on the scene, just as Peter meets swingin' Amy Powell; the end of Ghost Rider and Spider-Woman; Roger Stern's take on the Avengers spotlights the Wasp as a leader and brings aboard new blood like She-Hulk and Starfox while keeping classic secondary characters like Vision and Scarlet Witch around yet reserved for a shocking Secret Wars-era story with deconstructionist tones a couple of years ahead of The Watchmen. This was a great first year for the New Mutants, too.
I particularly loved J.M. DeMatteis on Marvel Team-Up: White Rabbit, android facsimiles of classic authors, a twisted plan to break the mind of Reed Richards, and an unlikely Christmas team-up with the Watcher. The Kree-Skrull War was reprinted in a prestige format mini-series as well! I collected so much of the output of 1983 Marvel over the years. I had a high estimation of 1984, too, with still a couple of years of faithful collecting ahead, picking up something every month. Then, I let it rest for years. In recent times, I've found SuperMegaMonkey, a chronological order of reviews and scans and comments for the entire Marvel story, including the many contradictions. With Fnord's help, I've figured out what I'm missing from that year that's really of the caliber I wanted, and can let the rest wait for whenever. 1. Ka-Zar The Savage Here's a character I didn't much appreciate in a world of flashier heroes. But Bruce Jones figured out an approach that gave Ka-Zar depth you didn't easily find in his more colorful brethren and sisters in print. My wife will love the big cat, Zabu, and also Shana, who is strong in her own right. By 1983, Spider-Man had become a regular supporting character, with interesting scenes for his alter ego as well. I look forward to checking out something written with older readers in mind.
2. Fantastic Four #250-262 I rarely found Fantastic Four on sale in my neighborhood, which is too bad, because this run is probably ranked beside Frank Miller's Daredevil, Walt Simonson's Thor, and Chris Claremont's X-Men as the most definitive of the decade for Marvel. (I personally have to hand it to Stern/ Romita, Jr for moving Peter along a bit into young adulthood and keeping the adventures thrilling!) One Christmas I got #257 I think it was, with Galactus and Nova featured in the first half. In California I got several #240's issues, but while I have Gladiator's initial attack in #249, I've never read the climax to that battle! The Negative Zone stories coming up next seem even cooler, true science fiction explorers rather than crime fighters or even simply reactionary protectors, Reed led the team into Dr. Who-inspired weirdness, in days before the Good Doctor had much cache in America.
The battle with Terrax and the showdown with Galactus seem likely to captivate me. I remember sharing "Terror In A Tiny Town" with Angela on our honeymoon, my second exposure to the early Byrne FF run. I saw some Secret Wars II-era issues but didn't get to collect FF until the brief Roger Stern tenure with John Buscema, so here are probably the most obvious treasures. It seems like I'll enjoy it on one level of wonder, and then come back to the debate and the way it's presented and some would say, stacked, to reward Reed's most unusual decision. 3. Thor #339-350 I have #337 I think and definitely #338, with the premiere of Beta Ray Thor. In this time of replacement Iron Man, Thor's replacement by this cyborg alien is only temporary; the Korbinite Guardian is a hero in his own right, and his need for a civilian identity leads Odin to erase the charm that creates Donald Blake for Thor's persona and puts it on Stormbringer, a hammer made just for Beta Ray Thor. From there, it gets very Norse epic! The Casket of Winters in #345-350 is my primary interest. It's one of, maybe the very first, instance of a story's effects carrying over into other titles, which were also affected by Malekith's weather-bending. Those references do not dictate the entire plot of those other stories, but in a cool way, you can tell the events occur side-by-side in the Marvel Universe. Simonson draws with such energy! shades of Benedict Cumberbatch, it's... 4. Doctor Strange
I love Roger Stern's writing. I wish the ads promising him and Frank Miller on this title had become true. Miller was so good on that Amazing Spider-Man annual in 1980 with Strange and Spidey. But I did get my hands on #55 with Michael Golden! Looks like it just got better.
I have one unconventional story from then where Strange simply faces a guy with a bow and arrow (#66), but it's quite interesting. We get issues here by the awesome Paul Smith! Ah, but these! These are the last of Marvel's original vampire stories, featuring the death of Dracula after a decade of haunting the Marvel Universe. He'd been used in Defenders and X-Men as a villain, but I think Jim Shooter was ready to get rid of the Horror Hangover of the Seventies when he cancelled Ghost Rider and had Stern kill off the Lord of Vampires, and indeed, ALL vampires! I may have overlooked the Hercules Limited Series because it's set in the future, but that sounds fun, too. 5. Alpha Flight #6-8 #12 was where I came aboard, when I read anything at all with Alpha Flight. One dollar WELL spent! My first issue of Alpha Flight! So very nicely drawn. I LOVED this. I enjoyed the choice of colors among all the Flight characters together, very complementary as a whole. Even with no history with Mac, I was drawn into his dilemma at the climax. How awesome/ awful for Heather to walk in right then. Upon reading his first year, I applauded Byrne's ability to make Alpha feel like real people. I am just missing the spotlight on my favorite Alphan, Aurora! I loved reading about her story with brother Northstar in the Official Handbook, but I've never had the privilege of reading those or the Snowbird tale. I like how Byrne also took an unconventional approach, using a rotation of solo stories or pairing off heroes for much of the first year, bringing Alpha Flight together for an epic showdown with Jaxon, Delphine Courtney, and Omega Flight. They really don't spend much time together assembled as a team, so different especially than the claustrophobic X-Men in their mansion together; you might argue, their special training aside, their limitations working together might have led to the tragic end of their first year of printed adventures. John Byrne didn't go into this with a lot of ideas, but this title was one of Marvel's most vibrant! David kept getting his hands on Byrne's titles on trips to town, but I still have a few left unread. I have a very good year of Alpha Flight left to collect, basically.
6. Daredevil #192 Alan Brennert seems to have written only a few comics scripts before going into television, but his Batman stories are often collected in Best of Batman editions. What will reporter Ben Urich do when he's offered a bribe? By this point, he's become the best of Miller's supporting characters especially featured in this era's Daredevil. Ben had no powers, lousy pay, and a dangerous job digging up dirt that revealed to him not only the activities of Wilson Fisk, Kingpin of Crime, but also Matt Murdock's double identity as the secretly-sightless adventurer Daredevil, whos adventures had finally become as dark as Matt's blindness, with a radar-sense of the menace and betrayal on every side.
Fnord called this issue "a hidden gem," an unusual honor given to describe a fill-in issue. A great stand-alone plot was supposedly the key to making a first sale at Marvel. My hope is this will rock my socks off in a way similar to another fill-in, Daredevil #219, "Badlands," by his famous scribe Frank Miller, with art by John Buscema.
I give an honorable mention to the Defenders of that year, but I am holding out first for Peter Gillis' run. I may get the Essentials Volume Seven and collect the changeover from DeMatteis to Gillis. I believe these are from my friend Joseph Braband's favorite years. Maybe then I will know how to write our long standing Defenders-inspired project. I always felt like that was one step away from being an all-original novel anyway! I'll always wonder what he planned for his favorite C-Lister ever, Devil Slayer. That guy is like a D & D Paladin with the ultimate source of hand weapons! He actually appears mostly early in the DeMatteis run; I have most of those issues. But the Gillis run, while it may kind of follow the end of the true classic Defenders made by Thomas and written by Englehart, Gerber, Kraft and company, seems like a foray into unconventional characters and situations more in tune with what I'm doing myself, which is to say, trying out some superheroics without aping the Avengers movies. But I can't say Byrne's Negative Zone stories don't sound like a distant kin, either. Difference being, Anime will have a strong impact on my work, too, as will Giffen/DeMatteis' Justice League International. Otherwise, I am not copying any show's plot as a template and have just enough plot cohesion to both baffle and bedazzle my own self to work on it! What's your favorite comics from 1983?