Top of the Pile – Week of April 4th 2018

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I thought I might do something a little different and write about some of the comics I am looking forward to reading this week from the new release pile. Let’s get started with the first issue…

The Jetsons #6 (6 of 6)

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Writer – Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist – Pier Brito
Colorist – Paul Mounts
Letterer – Dave Sharpe
Assistant Editor – Michael McCalister
Group Editor – Marie Javins

The Jetsons, like most of the Hanna Barbera comics in the line, has taken cartoon characters created over forty years ago and put them in modern, mature themed situations. Jimmy Palmiotti has updated the Jetson’s family but kept to the basic elements of the original cartoon.  George works for Spacely Sprockets and is a little goofy. His boy, Elroy, is blond and smart. Daughter, Judy, is pretty and a teenager. Jane, his wife, is intelligent and loves her husband. They are still what was once considered the ideal family.

In this series the whole family has been revised in ways to make them more appealing and less one dimensional. George is not some bungling duffus who happens to get by seemingly by sheer luck, but is instead very good at his job and is respected by everyone including his boss, Mr. Spacely. Elroy is a smart, young teenager who takes risks and is in love the Mr. Spacely’s daughter. Judy is not a stereo-typical self-centered teenager, but is instead a young woman dealing with growing up and everything that goes along with that. Jane is not a stay home housewife who loves to shop but is instead an important scientist who is trying to save the world and her family.

Palmiotti has done a nice job of writing a dramatic story without pandering or being too preachy. Pier Brito’s art has been splendid. He has really captured what is familiar about the characters but put his own spin on them.

The fifth issue was very touching and ended with an exciting climax. I am really looking forward to see how Palmiotti wraps it all up. Will it be a satisfying ending making me want more or will it be flat and fizzle out? We’ll see…

Superman #44

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Writers – Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi
Pencils – Doug Mahnke
Inks – Jaime Mendoza and Doug Mahnke
Colors – Wil Quintana
Letters – Rob Leigh
Associate editor – Jessica Chen
Editor – Paul Kaminsk

Peter J. Tomasi’s Superman run has been my favorite of all the DC Rebirth lines. One of the things I have really enjoyed is that Tomasi does not feel like he is writing comics that are meant to be published in six issue trade paperbacks. He is creating stories that feel natural and have appropriate durations. Plenty of story lines have only lasted two issues which to me has been fun and makes it seem like he is getting to tell the stories he wants to tell and how he wants to tell them. I am a little skeptical about what the future holds for Superman and I’ll miss Tomasi on this title when he is finished, but I’ve still got a couple of issues to enjoy before that happens.

This issue is part three of the Bizarro story that Gleason and Tomasi having been writing together. The story has been fun and it is neat to see this fresh take on Bizarro and the rest of the Bizarro family. It is not the final issue in the arc and I am looking forward to see what happens.

Doctor Starr and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #2

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Writer – Jeff lemire
Artist – Max Fiumara
Colorist – Dave Stewart
Letter – Nate Piekos
Assistant editor – Brett Israel
Editor – Daniel Chabon

Black Hammer was created by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston. The story of Black Hammer and characters in the universe has been published in several series at this point. The first storyline, Black Hammer, issues 1 – 13, introduces us to Black Hammer and his allies who are now trapped in an alternate reality. They do not understand how they ended up there and are trying to make the best of things. The series ends in a cliff hanger and has several shocking revelations about the bizarre situation the heros are in. Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil, issues 1-4, was the first spin off and focuses on the Black Hammer’s daughter trying to figure out happened to her father and the other heros. Her investigation leads her to her Dad’s arch enemy Sherlock Frankenstein.

Doctor Starr so far has focused on one of Black Hammer’s allies who apparently did not end up in the other dimension that the rest of the heroes did. The series tells the story of Doctor Starr’s origins as well who the man he is now as he tries to reconnect with his son. Like Sherlock Frankenstein I assume this series will expand the Black Hammer universe and give us clues as to what happened to the characters from the first series.

Doctor Starr is a character that is very similar to the DC Comics character Starman, specifically the Ted Knight version of the character. Both Starman and Doc Starr are scientists, astronomers to be exact, and each of them create devices that they use to become heros. Similar to the James Robinson Starman comic that followed the adventures of Ted Knight’s son, Jack, there is a enjoyable melancholy tone to the series so far.

The Black Hammer story is so much fun that as each new issue comes out I can’t wait to see what new things we learn about these characters and hopefully get closer to discovering what happened to them.

Thanos: The Infinity Siblings (Original Graphic Novel)

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Writer – Jim Starlin
Penciler – Alan Davis
Inker – Mark Farmer
Colorist – Ciane Dusk
Letter – Clayton Cowles
Editor – Sarah Brunstad
Executive Editor – Tom Brevoort

On the eve of the Avengers: Infinity War movie we get the first volume of the follow up to the Thanos Infinity trilogy (Finale, Relativity and Revelation). This is supposedly Starlin’s final series of stories with his creation, the Mad Titan himself, Thanos.

I’ve purposely avoided reading the advance stories and reviews of this comic because I want to go into it fresh. This is something I’ve been looking forward to for several reasons.

The first is that it is Jim Starlin. Like many others he is one of my all time favorites. His cosmic stories involving Captain Marvel, The Silver Surfer, and Thanos are some of the best comics ever published in my opinion.

The second is that this is a “real” graphic novel. It is over sized sized volume containing an original story published for this first time in this format. It is not a fancy collection of previously published stories, that my fiends is a trade paperback, not a graphic novel.

Finally, it is Thanos. Jim Starlin, and others, have done a lot of wonderful things with this character. He’s been a ruthless villain to a reluctant hero. He’s killed the Marvel universe and brought it back. Most recently he’s been brought seemingly to the end only to come back with a vengeance. See the Jeff Lemire (yes, the same guy I just mentioned above) run on Thanos, issues 1-12. Thanos is one of those characters I find it hard not to root for no matter what the situation is. He’s simply an iconic character with his purple grimace and blue and gold armor. Good Thanos stories are always something to look forward to, especially when they are written by someone as talented as the man who created the character, Jim Starlin.

I’ll close this week with a picture of the Thanos piggy bank that watches over me as I write this.

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Mickey Mouse, Corporate Schill

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Recently I went to the NorthEast Comic Com & Collectibles Extravaganza. It was hardly an extravaganza but there were a few comic dealers there and I did come home with a full bag. One of the most interesting things I found was in the dollar bins, a copy of Mickey and Goofy explore the UNIVERSE OF ENERGY, presented by Exxon. This comic was a give away at Walt Disney World’s Epcot Center, I presume at the Universe of Energy pavilion.

 

The Universe of Energy was one of Epcot’s original attractions when the park opened in 1982. The comic has a copyright date on the cover of 1985. It is sixteen pages long and contains a crossword puzzle, the story, a weird summary at the end, and no credits. The comic was produced by the Walt Disney Education Media Company. This comic was similar to other educational comics produced in this era, like Heroes Against Hunger or Teen Titan Drug Awareness. The big difference between this comic and the latter two is that it is corporate propaganda trying to make the reader feel good about fossil fuels, not an aid to make the reader more aware of society’s problems. That doesn’t make it any less of a fun relic that I was pleased to find.

 

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The story starts with Mickey and Goofy entering the Universe of Energy pavilion. They begin in what looks like the actual beginning of the exhibit watching the film presented on the Kinetic Mosaic display. They get a brief history of energy sources used in the United States. From there they get on the ride that takes them through the rest of the exhibit where they learn about where fossil fuels come from.

 

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For the rest of the story, and ride, Mickey explains to Goofy the importance of fossil fuels. They learn where fossil fuels come from, that they will not last forever, and that we must do everything we can in order to find more ways to obtain them. It is in this context that the story progresses and they use their imagination to “visit” oil wells in foreign lands…

 

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… To Arctic Drilling locations in Alaska, where they also learn about the Alaskan Pipeline that runs from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez…

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…To coal mines where they learn that coal is burned to power steam turbines that generate electricity.

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The journey ends back outside the exhibit where we get the lone comment about solar energy when Mickey points out the solar panels that were used to help power the ride. Solar energy is not described as a renewable energy source, instead it is described as something that is expensive and might be available to more people in the future. Let’s not forget that Exxon is producing this, not the Future World of Epcot where the Universe of Energy is located.

 

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The comic concludes with an odd summary page where Mickey tells an exasperated Goofy that he would have to pedal for nine days on his combo tv / exercycle to produce the same amount of energy as one gallon of gasoline. It is Mickey’s way of telling Goofy to not bother with trying other ways to produce energy, just keep burning dead dinosaurs and everything will be fine.

 

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I find it odd that something presented as educational material in the Future World of Disney’s Epcot is not focused on the energy needs of the future. This was around this time when Earth Day, recycling, and discussions of renewable energy sources were becoming mainstream ways of thinking. This comic is certainly a product of its time and the company that sponsored the exhibit. It also provides some interesting insight into the world of corporate propaganda.

 

I’ll wrap up with a photo of a keepsake, for lack of a better word, that this comic reminded me of. When we were kids my mother took my brother and I on a camping trip to Alaska. In five weeks we drove out west, then north to Alaska and back, camping all the way. On that trip I bought a small vial of oil that came from the oil spill created when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker crashed in Prince William Sound. The money from the purchase was supposed to go to the clean up and restoration effort. I still have that vial and have never been able to bring myself to get rid of it.

 

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Comic Book Sets

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I collect comic books for fun. I love to read ‘em. I love to organize ‘em. I love to catalog ‘em. I love putting them in bags to preserve them for future generations. I love trying to decide if I am going to keep all my new 52 comics together or if I am going to put all the Superman comics together. For me these are many of the joys of collecting comics.

There are lots of ways to build a collection; buying off the rack at the local comic shop, buying online, or at a comic convention. There is something very thrilling about being at a show going from dealer to dealer with my notebook searching through back issue bins for issues to fill holes in my collection.

In recent years I have come to really enjoy looking through comic sets. Comic sets are groups of comics that dealers put together to move a bunch of inventory at once. Sets that dealers sell are typically complete series with short runs, or a mini / maxi series. Some dealers pack up complete series that ran for a long time but those can be pretty expensive and not what I’m focused on. Most of the time the comics are not individually bagged and boarded. Instead multiple issues are stuffed into the largest comic bag the dealer has on hand so that they are snug and can be taped together on the outside to keep them all together. Sets are not put together for investment purposes. The condition of the comics is usually pretty good but they certainly are not being sold to eventually be graded.

The sets I’m looking at usually consist 10-20 comics that are being sold for $10-30. Over the last few years I’ve bought quite a few. I look for things that are from the late 70’s to mid 80’s, things I’d like to read. These are some of the sets I’ve picked up recently that I was really pleased to find.

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Squadron Supreme – A Twelve Issue Limited Series
Comics in set – all twelve issues

Creators:

Writer –          Mark Gruenwald
Penciller(s) – Bob Hall 1-5, 8
                          Paul Ryan 6, 9-12
                          John Buscema 7 (breakdowns)
                          Jackson Guice 7 (finisher)
Inker(s) –        John Beatty 1-3
                          Sam De La Rosa 4-6, 8-12
                          Keith Williams 6
Letter –            Janice Chiang 1-5, 7, 10-12
                          John Workman 6
                          Rick Parker 8-9
Colorist –        Christie Scheele 1-4, 6, 12
                          Mark Phillips 4
                          Bob Sharen 5
                          Michael Higgins 7
                          Max Scheele 8-11
Editor –            Ralph Macchio
Editor in Chief – Jim Shooter

The Squadron Supreme limited series was Mark Gruenwald and Marvel’s answer to DCs “Watchmen”. It is a story of heros set in another universe with the Heros dealing with more mature themes. The series starts off during the aftermath of events where the an alien named Overmind has used mind control to take over the President of the United States, who is the alter ego of one of the Squadron. The United States declares war on the rest of the world and Overmind takes over the minds of world leaders.The story picks up with the world in chaos after the Squadron has defeated Overmind. The team decides that they are going to fix all the world’s problems after the damage they have caused.

Interesting fact: Mark Gruenwald was very proud of the series. He passed away in 1996, suddenly. He ashes were later mixed in the ink that was used to print the first trade paperback collection of Squadron Supreme.

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Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew
Comics in set – issues #1-9, 11 and preview from the New Teen Titans #16

Creators:

Writer    Roy Thomas
Penciler – Scott Shaw
Inker –      Bob Smith
Letter –     Todd Klein
Colorist  Carl Gafford
Editor –      Dick Giordano
Co-Creator – Gerry Conway

Captain Carrot, Pig Iron, Fastback, Alley-Kat-Abra, Rubberduck, and Yankee Poodle! Crime fighting Super Animals. In the early eighties DC started printing preview comics for new comic series as free inserts in an existing comic. The first preview comic was “The New Teen Titans” preview published in “DC Comics Presents” #26. “The New Teen Titans” premiered the following month. “Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew” had a preview in “the New Teen Titans” #16.

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The series takes place on an alternate Earth in the DC Multiverse. It features a world of anthropomorphized animals, some with super powers. The Zoo crew are not just animal versions of the Justice League, they are actually quite different. Captain Carrot is a Superman type character but he has to eat a carrot that has been irritated by a meteor fragment in order to use his powers. Rubber Duck is sort of like Aquaman because he is aquatic, but has powers like Plastic Man.

This was something my brother and I had several issues of when we were kids and it is near and dear to my heart. The series ran for 26 issues. In the set I got the first 9 issues, issue 11 and the preview Teen Titans issue for a few bucks. Not a bad hall.

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Night Force
Comics in set – issues # 1-14 and preview issue in The New Teen Titans 26

Creators:

Writer – Marv Wolfman
Artist –   Gene Colan
Inker –   Bob Smith
Letter –   John Costanza
Colorist Michele Wolfman
Editor –   Marv Wolfman
Co-editor – Ross Andru

While I was at the Baltimore Comic-Con 2017 I attended a panel that Mark Evanier and Marv Wolfman did together. The panel was just a conversation between the two creators and the way they worked it was that they interviewed each other. One of the questions that Mr. Evanier asked Marv Wolfman was other than the New Teen Titans what work of his was he most proud of. The answer he gave was “Tomb of Dracula” which he wrote for Marvel comics in the late seventies. Having never read “Tomb of Dracula” I decided then and there that I would start looking for issues.

Fast forward to Rhode Island Comic 2017. I was looking through a dealers set box and I came across “Night Force”. “Night Force” was published by DC and reunited the “Tomb of Dracula” creative team of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colon. By this time I had picked up several issues of Dracula and enjoyed them so I snatched this set up. The set contained all fourteen issues of the series and the preview comic that appeared in “The New Teen Titans”. Teen Titans contained several of these preview comics because it was DC Comics number one selling book and putting the preview comic in it got it front of more readers than any other comic they were publishing at the time.

All in all comics sets are a great way for a dealer to move a bunch of comics at once and for the customer to get something usually pretty fun to read. In this day and age when one of the primary focuses of the industry is on trade paperback collections buying comic sets gives the reader the best of both worlds, reading comics as they were meant to be published and getting a complete story. Convention season is starting up and I’ll certainly be on the look out for some new sets.

Finally I am going to wrap up with a mainstream comic book cover that would never get published today, Night Force #13.

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Seven to Eternity

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“On September 15th, 1981, a boy named Jack Sawyer stood where the water and the land come together, hands in the pockets of his jeans, looking out at the steady Atlantic” – The Talisman – Stephen King and Peter Straub

Have you ever read a story that made you feel amazing?

One of my favorite novels of all time is the “The Talisman” writing by Stephen King and Peter Straub. The story is about a young boy who goes on the adventure of a lifetime in order to save his mother. Along the way he learns that he can travel between our world and another parallel world.  During Jack’s travels he meets good and evil men, he befriends a wolfman, and has horrifying experiences all in his search for the Talisman. When I read the novel for the first time it was an emotional experience.

When Jack starts his journey and “flips” into the parallel world for the first time I felt like I was right there with him. When King or Straub (I always believed it was King) killed off one of Jack’s friends I almost stopped reading right then and there and considered giving up King forever, I was devastated. When Jack finally completes his journey and, spoiler alert, saves his mother, I was overjoyed.

After I finished the first issue of “Seven to Eternity” I was overwhelmed. I could not believe how much drama and adventure was crammed into 22 pages. I could not wait to read the next issue and see what happened next. Now I know that everyone reacts to the stories they read differently. A story that makes me jump up and down might not get the next person out of bed but I cannot help but get excited when thinking or talking about this comic.

Creators
Issue one has the following credits:

Written by  Rick Remender
Drawn by Jerome Opeña
Colored by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by Rus Wooton
Edited by Andrew Robinson
Cover A Jerome Opeña and Matt Hollingsworth (pictured above)

Rick Remender has written many creator owned comics including; Fear Agent, Low and Black Science. While at Marvel he worked on titles such as The Punisher, The Avengers and Uncanny X-Force. He’s also worked on animated films.

Jerome Opeña has done a fair amount of work, much of it with Rick Remender. He worked with Rick on Fear Agent, Strange Girl, Uncanny X-Force and the Punisher.

Synopsis:

The issue starts with a entry from the journal of Adam Osidis. The entry is meant to do some world building and exposition. Adam writes about his family and sets up the central conflict of the story. Adam’s father, Zebadiah, has moved his family away from the civilized world in order to get away from the Mud King – Garils Sulm. Zebadiah would not listen to the generous offer from Garils and tried to warn others to do the same. Apparently Zebadiah was in a minority and he decided to raise his family “a thousand miles away from any other two legged creature”. There are lots of other things hinted at or mentioned that we will learn about as the series progresses, the Mosak, ancient spirits, goblins and war. The story begins with a father and daughter hunting a giant boar. We don’t quite know it yet, but the father is Adam, the writer of the journal. He is coaching his daughter, Katie, through what will hopefully be the kill shot with her bow. Just as she fires Adam coughs up blood causing her to miss. Instead of trying again they alerted to trouble sound back at the farm.

A storm is coming as we meet the rest of the family. Adam’s father, Zebadiah, his wife, Nival, and several other children are watching ominous clouds approach. Suddenly a lightning bolt strikes the barn and Zebadiah and Adam tell everyone to get into a underground shelter.

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Adam and his father get the animals out of the barn as another lightning bolt strikes their house.  Zebadiah appears to have an idea about what’s happening and tells Adam to get his “hammer”. In the meantime Zebadiah says some kind of prayer and his eyes start to glow a blue light, a third eye appears above his head and blue swords made of pure energy appear in his hands. The person apparently responsible for the storm and lighting floats before Zebadiah wearing a helmet that covers his eyes.

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As the battle begins between Zebadiah and the mysterious villain we join Adam in the burning house looking for his “hammer”. The hammer turns out to be a rifle and some very large bullets.  By the time Adam escapes his home, now completely engulfed in flames, Zebadiah is losing the battle. He appears to commit suicide rather than allow the monster attacking him to win. The nameless antagonist gives Adam an ominous warning to “hear his offer” or he will return. Adam mourns his father’s death as everything burns behind him.

After the dead are buried Adam is preparing to leave his family in order to go to the Mud King and prevent any more harm coming to them. Adam tells his daughter Katie to stay and protect the rest of the family and then sets off on his journey. There is some great world building as Adam provides a monologue and we see lots of different landscapes until he reaches his final destination.

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Adam’s trip has not been easy and he is accosted as he enters the city. Apparently his family’s name is well known and not well liked in these parts. A red elf-like woman appears before Adam. They evidently know each other. She is there to take Adam to see  the person he has traveled so far to meet, Garils Sulm. The comic ends with Adam standing before Garils, the man who attacked his family, and an old man groveling at Garils’ feet.

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Final Thoughts:

I’ve already stated that this comic blew me away. The art is spectacular and really suits what promises to be an epic tale. The reader is presented with just enough information to be able to follow the action and still have enough questions to make them want to read further issues. Why does everyone appear to hate the Osidis family? Who is Garils Sulm and what is his offer to Adam? What does hearing his offer even mean and why is it so bad?

For me Adam’s journey is very similar to Jack’s from “The Talisman”. He meets people along the way that help him or try to hinder his quest. There are flashbacks that really flesh out the characters and what their quest really means. One big difference so far is that Mr. Remender has not killed anyone off that made me want to rip the comic to shreds and swear off his work forever.

The issues that have come out so far have been collected in several trade paperbacks. The first two issues we also published in giant sized Artist proof edition. The third and fourth are being released in a similar giant sized edition in January 2018. I bought the first one because the art is amazing and it was reasonably priced at $24.99. I’ll certainly be adding the next one to my collection. If you are into that kind of thing then it is worth picking up.

Overall I think the comic is excellent and would recommend it to anyone. It is always at the top of my pile when a new issue comes out.

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The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior

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My interest in comics featuring licensed properties was recently piqued when I found a copy of Marvel comics “The Dark Crystal” #1 in a dollar bin. This was the first issue of the comic book movie adaptation that was originally released in Marvel Super Special #24. I had no idea the comic existed and was especially pleased to find it. This was followed by finding the four issue mini series complete set of “Starriors”. The “Starriors” mini-series was one of many comics Marvel released based on a toy line and featured beautifully painted covers by Bill Sienkiewicz. Since then I have picked up movie adaptions for “The Last Starfighter” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark” as well as issues of Marvel’s “Shogun Warriors”, “Alf”, “Logan’s Run” and “BattleStar Galactica”

When my brother and I were young we read a lot of Marvel licensed comics, including many from their Star comics line that was aimed at younger kids. One of my earliest comic book memories is of my father reading a copy of “Shogun Warriors” to me in bed. All I really remember about the story is that it involved Combatra and thinking how cool it was that he could split up into different vehicles. Little did my father know that 38 years later I would be looking to add that comic to the collection I had built over lifetime.

There were plenty of other licensed comics that we read when we were young. We were the target audience for Marvel’s “Star Wars” and “G.I. Joe” series both of which we loved because of the movies, toys, and cartoons. We read some “Micronauts” books and we also liked the aforementioned Star line; “Thundercats”, “Alf” and  “Heathcliff” (that was mostly me, my brother’s cartoon cat of choice was Garfield). It was these licensed properties that really got us into comics and caught our eye before we started reading more sophisticated Super-hero and War comics.

This brings my to the subject of this post and what I have learned is that Crystar not a licensed comic. I bought a copy of “The Saga of Crystar, Crystal Warrior”  #1 and I discovered Marvel created Crystar and then licensed the characters to Remco Toys. Jim Shooter, editor in chief, tells the Other Origin of Crystar in an editorial note on the inside cover. He describes the the request from Vice President of publishing, Michael Hobson, to create a top notch fantasy comic. He also details giving the pitch assignment to several top editors; Ralph Macchio, Mark Gruenwald, and John Romita Jr. If you’ve read a Marvel between 1970 and 1990 you ought to recognize these names. The toys were released before the comic, which is why I had always assumed this comic was just another licensed property in the Marvel pantheon.

Creators:

The first issue has the following credits:

Plotter and scripter – Mary Jo Duffy
Penciler – Bret Blevins
Inker – Vinnie Colletta
Letterer – Jim Novak
Colorist – Andy Yanchus
Editor – Ralph Macchio
Editor in chief – Jim Shooter

Concept Creators – Ralph Macchio, Mark Gruenwald, Jim Shooter
Graphic designer – John Romita Jr
Special thanks to – Doug Polumbaum, Bob Harras, Louise Jones

Not mentioned in the credits is the artist who painted the cover, Bob Larkin. As a note the painting on the cover is signed Bob Larkin ‘82. Crystar #1 was published in 1983, cover date May 1.

Mary Jo Duffy is a long time editor and writer for Marvel. In reviewing her credits at comicbookdb.com she was the editor for one of my favorite comics of all time for the first couple of years it was at Marvel, “Sergio Aragones Groo the Wanderer”. She also has done some work at DC and Image, including with Rob Liefeld’s Extreme Studio.

Bret Blevins is prolific artist that has many credits for both Marvel and DC. He started out at Marvel doing movie tie in comics including “The Dark Crystal” and the “The Last Starfighter”. He also has a significant run on “The New Mutants” and “Batman: Shadow of the Bat” (part of the Knightfall story line). In 2016 I brought my copy of “Dark Crystal” #1 to Baltimore comic con to have Bret sign it. I learned in a panel with he and Louise Simonson that it was his first work at Marvel. I’m proud to have several signed comics that are the creators first published works and count this one as one of the favorites in my collection.

Synopsis:

The first issue of Crystar has a $2.00 cover price and is a double size issue with no ads until the last page. The story is about two brothers, Crystar and Moltar, who are the heirs to the throne of Crystalium. Crystalium is a planet that has been ravaged by a war between Order and Chaos. Thanks to the wizard Ogeode and his Prisma Crystal the power of order prevailed and defeated Chaos, bringing peace to Crystalium. It was peace with a price though, Crystar and Moltar’s father, the king, was killed in the war. We pick up the several months after the war has ended and Crystar and Moltar are ready to be named king(s).

The wizard Ogeode has returned warning the brothers and their advisors of a curse that the demon lord Chaos laid on Crystalium. The curse was that another of his servants would come and oppose Order. The brothers do not quite know what to do about this warning and seek the advice of their uncle, Lord Feldspar. Later another wizard appears before the princes, their comrades, and female companions. There is a brilliant flash and the wizard Zardeth tells the princes to send everyone away so that he can make them an offer. With nothing to hide Zardeth explains he is the agent of Chaos that Ogeode just warned the brothers about. He tells them that he is looking for allies in his battle against Order and that he will reward them with power if they join him. He tells the brothers to think about his offer and that he’ll meet them when they have made their decision and then he leaves.

One of the brothers friends, Captain Warbow, decides to follow Zardeth. He tries to kill him, but misses with his crossbow and ends up shooting Zardeth in the eye. Warbow pays the price as Zardeth sends the bolt that took his eye right back at Warbow and strikes him in the eye. When Warbow goes down Zardeth makes him disappear, presumably deceased.

The brothers discuss their options with their uncle. Crystar believes they must side with Ogeode and Order. Moltar believes that they should side with Zardeth in order to prevent him from doing something awful to the people of Crystalium. Arguments ensue and Moltar strikes Feldspar, apparently killing him. Moltar cannot believe what he has done. Crystar doesn’t believe Moltar’s anguish and goes HAM on him. With Crystar’s hands choking the life out of him Moltar grabs a nearby dagger and strikes a mortal blow in his defense.

As the guards come to see what is going on Moltar claims that he is the king now and that he has to explain what has happened to the people. From a balcony Moltar tells the crowds that he has indeed killed his brother but that he has the people’s best interest at heart.  He leads the people who have been convinced to follow him as their king, to Zardeth. While he was explaining the situation to the masses the wizard Ogeode has taken the bodies of Feldspar and Crystar to a room where the prince’s friends grieve for them. The wizard has the Prisma Crystal with him. He makes Crystar’s lifeless body walk into the crystal. He also unleashes a crystal rain on Moltar and his people as they travel to meet Zardeth.

In the painful crystal rain Zardeth ushers Moltar and his people underground to safety. Moltar demands that Zardeth deliver on his promise and the wizard opens the ground beneath everyone and they sink into the magma. Soon after they all emerge from the lava transformed into Magma men and woman. They can feel the power within themselves and wish to exact revenge on Ogeode and the rest of the people of Crystalium who did not follow Moltar. Zardeth provides weapons and lava dragons for them to reign Chaos on Crystalium.

Meanwhile Feldspar has come too and he and Crystar’s friends wonder why it is taking so long for something to happen with the Prisma Crystal. Suddenly a crystal man emerges, it is Crystar! Ogeode explains what happened with Moltar and Zardeth and that they are coming. Crystar’s friends believe that they must become like Crystar in order to help him defend Crystalium and that they too will enter the Prisma Crystal.

itscrystar

We rejoin Moltar and Zardeth’s forces as they are attacking the capital Galax and all those people who did not join him. As they are destroying Galax and its citizens Crystar and his friends come flying in on crystal dragons that Ogeode provided. The people of Galaz are now caught between the army of magma men and women and the Crystal Warriors. Eventually in the battle Moltar and Crystar come face to face. Molter realizes that everything he has done is for naught because his brother did not die. Crystar tells him that because of what Moltar has done they cannot go back to how it was before.

Moltar and Crystar are about to engage in combat, battling to the death, when suddenly another crystal warrior appears using a crossbow to disarm Moltar. Warbow has returned! The people of Galax take up arms with Crystar and the other crystal warriors against Moltar and the molten army. Moltar and his army retreat to heal themselves in the magma that spawned them. Moltar rallies his army and promises that they will not stopping fighting his brother and asks they they follow him.

The story ends with Feldspar coming to Crystar, Warbow and the other crystal warriors. Feldspar is now half crystal and half magma. He explains that he spoke to both wizards and asked for this. He states that he will be neutral in the brothers war. This seems to have an impact on Crystar and he says that if peace it possible with Moltar he will make it happen.

Final Thoughts:

I thought this was a wicked fun story. Since it is a double sized issue there is time to tell the whole story of how the crystal warrior came to be and it sets up what promises to be an epic story of conflict between Order and Chaos. There is good character development and fun action. There are a couple of points that feel like product placement and Jim Shooter even mentions that the people at Remco did have some input on the story. The thing that I enjoyed most about the story is that Moltar does not make his decisions because he is evil, he is not the “bad” brother.

He truly regrets his actions against Feldspar and it was Crystar who almost kills him. He only strikes back at Crystar in his own defense. He takes control of the situation and rallies his people behind him not because he is a power mad king wanting to rule all, he rallies his people behind him in order to protect them from the possible retaliation from the wizard Zardeth and Chaos. He makes each decision from a good place. I find it very interesting to have the protagonist make his decisions not out of malice but instead concern.

The story is well written and is paced well. It does not feel rushed and we really get to know the characters. I thought there was a particularly funny line when the crystal warriors first show up to attack Moltar’s forces. One of the magma men exclaims “Look at them–at their weapons and beasts! They… must be the product of sorcery!” Another magma warrior replies “Imbecile! We’re the product of sorcery!” This kind of wit is present throughout the book and really makes the story that much more enjoyable.

There is also an interesting sub plot that is only hinted at in a couple of panels where Captain Warbow shows quite a bit of interest in one of the servants, Ambara. At the end of the comic Ambara looks up to Crystar with dowey eyes while in the background Warbow looks dejected. I wonder if this will backfire on Crystar in a future issue, hmmm?

warbowsad

The Saga of the Crystal Warrior ran for for 11 issues. I have a couple of them in my collection and will read the rest of the series once I get them all. In doing research for this post I have learned the Crystar does live in the Marvel Universe, the universe containing Earth 616 to be precise. There are also several appearances of other Marvel characters in the series. I know that Nightcrawler is going to show up because he is on the cover of issue #6 and I have that one. I assume that bringing one of the X-men into the story was meant to increase sales. Doctor Strange and Alpha Flight also get into the action.

One last bit of trivia, Michael Golden penciled the cover to issue #8 which contains a skull that I first saw in the video for Danzig’s “Mother”. Apparently Glenn Danzig was a comic reader and swiped the skull image from the comic. He used it as the logo for Samhein and Danzig. Pretty cool if you ask me.

danzigskullissue8

That’s it for now. Thank you for reading if you made it this far. I want to thank my brother for proofreading and editing this. I hope you’ll join me again.

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Welcome

Welcome to Comics Comics Comics…

I’ve had the urge to write about comics for awhile. I’ve thought about keeping a journal, but there is not much difference between a journal and the same thoughts swirling around in my mind. I’ve thought about writing essays that I could send to my brother to read. I came pretty close to doing that but the more I thought about it I also wanted to include a visual element along with my thoughts. Comics are a visual medium after all.

Recently my brother sold his first short story to be published in a quarterly short story journal. He also started writing for a blog that is devoted to the Philadelphia 76’ers. He is an excellent writer and super smart and inspired me to think a little bigger than writing stuff down. I thought I might try a blog and asked his opinion. Right away he said “go for it”. He also gave me some advice on where to get started so here it is.

Comics Comics Comics…

The title of this blog, “Comics Comics Comics..”, is a play on the name of Jay Pritchett’s competitor on the show “Modern Family”, Closets, Closets, Closets!. I find the name of that store hilarious and thought it might be oh so clever to have the name of this site be a take on that store.  

Coming soon…

An actual post about comics.

 

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