Friday, September 18, 2015

Galactus the Vitruvian Man by Kenneth Rocafort

The Ultimates is about to be relaunched soon and I was struck by this cover to issue #2 by series artist Kenneth Rocafort!

Ultimates 2 Galactus cover by Kenneth Rocafort

A cool take on Leonardo da Vinci's The Vitruvian Man! I am very much looking forward to this series. Writer Al Ewing did some interesting work on Mighty Avengers, assembling a team of African American heroes along with Spider-Man, and re-habilitating some older characters that had dropped off the radar. Kenneth Rocafort is one of my favorite artists who has mostly worked with DC Comics New 52 series until now. Rocafort's Twitter page will show you this cool, really small notebook where he does a daily drawing. Rocafort is interested in science fiction / fantasy material, some of these drawings remind me of Heavy Metal in the 1970s/80s. I am excited to see him bring that passion to the Marvel Universe. Nuff Said!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Daredevil and Spider-Man 2099 by Dan Mora

Usually I hate it when classic costumes are redesigned. This piece by artist Dan Mora is a little different.


Daredevil, still in a red costume, but a little more practical than just a big red jumpsuit. You can see this working better in a TV show. DD has a collar, leather wrappings around his wrist / forearms, a cool belt, knee pads. Yet it still stays true to the roots of the Wally Wood costume. I like it a lot!


Spider-Man 2099. Here's one costume that I don't think should be changed, it's fantastic, and Marvel for some reason decided to change it to a white and blue monstrosity - to not confuse readers with Miles Morales? Hard to say. Mora does a great job capturing Spider-Man 2099 in a futuristic setting, and you can still see his costume even though the background buildings are colored with blue tones!

You can find more of Dan Mora on his Deviant Art page. Nuff Said!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Marvel's Star Wars comics are firing on all thrusters

I look forward to reading Marvel's Star Wars and Darth Vader comics every month. They are well written and drawn. The Star Wars comic just had Stuart Immonen come on board as regular artists - man he nails everything - the ships, the hardware, the likenesses of actors (Hamill and Fisher in particular)! 

Darth Vader is even better, the writer Kieron Gillen has devised this great team around Darth, dark mirrors of Indiana Jones, Dr Aprha, and her evil droids Triple Zero and BT-1.

So I am wondering - why am I so crazy about Marvel's Star Wars comics when I never really read the Dark Horse stuff, especially that had some good creators, too. Am I succumbing to the marketing over the new movie? Feeling nostalgic over Marvel's 70s Star Wars comics? Perhaps some of that, but more that I love the talent that Marvel put on this books and tried to coordinate the stories together. Nuff Said!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Santa Cruz Screaming Hand meets Marvel!

Hey True Believers! Here are two of the strangest Marvel related merchandise items I have ever seen!

I came across these while strolling down Pacific Avenue in Santa Cruz, the name of the store was Pacific Wave Surf Shop.  Three skateboards with the classic mastheads for Amazing Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Thor.

The "screaming hand" is a Santa Cruz skateboard icon symbolizing the fear you might feel going down a steep hill on a skateboard! The hand was morphed into the forms of Spidey, Wolvy, and Thor. No, I didn't buy the skateboard, but I have to admit, I wanted to.

After doing some googling I see these are sold online everywhere, and for the truly radical, there is a Venom skateboard! Whoa. Nuff Said!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Elektra Assassin by Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz

This "graphic novel" was originally an eight issue mini-series published by Epic (Marvel's mature reader imprint) back in 1986. At the time I thought it was merely "good" but on later re-readings I think it is revolutionary in terms of the artwork of Bill Sienkiewicz. Sienkiewicz started his career as one of many artists imitating Neal Adams art style and evolved into a truly unique artist doing comics in an impressionistic style. This series was his breakout for that style.


Elecktra was introduced in Frank Miller's Daredevil run. When this series was announced, we were all excited to see what would happen to her after Miller left the series - she was in particularly strange state. As the series got closer to release, we discovered this story would take place in the past, before Elektra re-entered Daredevil's life. How strange! But it was actually much more interesting without being tied down to Matt Murdock. 

Elektra and John Garrett

The first issue is very hallucinogenic, where Elektra is trapped inside a mental hospital. I found this very confusing the first time, on subsequent re-reads it was more clear how she came to be there. It is unique in that the entire narration in this issue is from Elektra herself. In issue 2, this continues until the best supporting character ever comes, along, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent John Garrett, who is the Six Million Dollar Man times 100 with an addiction to alcohol. Then after issue 2, the point of view is entirely Garrett. As if to say that Elektra is such a superhuman force of nature, she's best seen through the eyes of someone else.

You get a lot more insight into Elektra in this series. I do think it pays off better if you re-read Miller's Daredevil run beforehand. We figure out more of the timeline in her early training, how that happened before college, and how she got to the Hand after her father's death. She has many more ninja powers than she ever displayed in Daredevil: killing with her voice, catching bullets, and mind control. You have to wonder how Bullseye ever got the better of her in Daredevil #181, or how Daredevil himself lasted more than a minute. Despite those powers, Elektra isn't invincible, the Beast is able to exploit her weaknesses several times in this story.

Sienkiewicz Elektra splash

The first half of the story takes place in a fictional South American country where Elektra has been dispatched to kill a politician. In doing so she runs across the Beast, yep, a biblical reference there, but someone from the Hand as well. The Beast can jump between bodies so he's hard to kill, and he wants nothing less than to trigger a nuclear apocalypse. Garrett becomes Elektra's pawn in helping to stop him. One of my favorite action sequences involves an underwater fight between Elektra/Garrett and a squad of ninjas and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. The second half of the story shifts to the United States where we get some cameo appearances from Nick Fury.

Having re-read this again I know why no one has been able to write a good Elektra series since 1986. Nobody can write like Frank Miller, period, but also no one can do a Tour de Force art job like Sienkiewicz. Nuff Said!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Steve Rude commissions: Iron Fist, Gwen Stacy, Ronan the Accuser!

Some recent commissions from Steve Rude (the Dude) Facebook page!

Iron Fist, dodging some arrows.

Gwen Stacy shaking it in a go-go discotheque, similar pose / clothes to Mary Jane from a 60s Spider-Man comic.

Ronan the Accuser, looking menacing. Nuff Said!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Farewell, Herb Trimpe!

I was sad to read that Herb Trimpe passed away this week at the age of 75. He will be missed and remembered by most fans as the long time artist of The Incredible Hulk.

I definitely got hooked on the Hulk with Herb Trimpe's run on the series. He drew the monster turned hero in a way that not only conveyed his strength but also his vulnerability. Unlike the modern comics where the Hulk is portrayed as 10 feet tall, the Silver / Bronze Age Hulk was more human-sized (maybe 6-7 feet tall) and definitely more relatable. I think I collected nearly Trimpe's entire run when I was a kid.

Of course one of the best stories featured Jarella, the girl who fell in love with the Hulk in a microscopic sub-universe.

In 2001 I went to Wondercon, when it was still held in Oakland, and Herb was there to show a documentary film made about him and his early career.  There was actual footage of Herb taking the train into New York City to work in the 1960s Marvel Bullpen - I believe we also saw Marie Severin in that, too. It was very thrilling for a long time Marvel fan, yet quite sad, because Trimpe was forced to give up drawing comics in his later years to teach art in high school. I remember him saying that teaching in high school was the hardest thing he had ever done! I sat just behind Erik Larsen, the Savage Dragon creator, who was obviously a big fan of Trimpe - his jaw almost dropped to the floor. It seemed shocking that such a legend in the comics business couldn't make a living drawing anymore.

Trimpe had more versatility in him that just super-hero comics, he was quite good at drawing planes, tanks, and war stories. I bought many issues of War is Hell for his artwork, which later had a continuing series by him. And of course, he did great work on The Phantom Eagle, where he showcased his love of planes.

Herb Trimpe will definitely be missed.  Nuff Said!