Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Amazing Marcos Martin, Marvel's Newest Superstar

I don't talk about modern comics very much--there's tons of other blogs that do everyday much better than I can.  But I do get a box every month from Discount Comic Book Service, and Amazing Spider-Man is always in there.  I think one of the most talented artists working at Marvel these days is Marcos Martin. 

Marcos Martin Splash Page in Amazing Spider-Man 618

Marcos Martin brings a crazy, kinetic style of energy on Spider-Man that hasn't been seen since the days of Steve Ditko.  Coupled with Dan Slott's high-energy mania, this is a creator marriage made in comic-book heaven.

I was particularly bowled over by the above splash page, where Spidey is standing over a craps table.  The story title and credits are cleverly laid out along the table grid.  A very clever idea!

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 619 cover by Marcos Martin

I really find Martin's innovative use of logos (such as the blood dripping off Spidey's masthead on issue 619) to be very much in the vein of Will Eisner.  Eisner did all kinds of things with the Spirit's logo (or logo-forms as Alan Moore called them) by shooting them with bullet holes and having all kinds of liquids dripping from them.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL 37 cover by Marcos Martin

The cover to the forthcoming Amazing Spider-Man Annual #37 does another twist on the logo, by turning it into a neon sign.  Again, this cover seems very Eisner-like to me, with Spidey and Cap standing on different levels of a building.

You have to dig the old-fashioned shout-out to "Collector's Item Classic" here as well!

Marcos Martin cap70th special page 02

Marcos Martin has also done outstanding work on Dr Strange (The Oath mini-series with Brian K. Vaughan) and the Captain America 70th Anniversary special.  Here's the black and white version of a page where Cap addresses the troops on a WW2 aircraft carrier.

There's a cool interview with Martin over at The Beat by Michel Fiffe.  Like his fellow countryman, Carlos Pacheco, Marcos Martin appears to have respect for the creators who made these characters great.  Nuff Said!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Marvel Age: Alpha Flight, Cloak and Dagger, Micronauts

What was hot during the Marvel Age?  The Marvel Age wasn't an era, it was a comic magazine--Marvel's way of keeping fans informed during the 1980s.  Here are some of the offbeat characters that were showcased.

Marvel Age 6 1983 Rick Leonardi Cloak and Dagger

Cloak and Dagger burst free of supporting character status into their own mini-series in 1983.  I always thought that both Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonardi did some of their best work ever on this title.

I remember buying a really cool Cloak and Dagger poster that Leonardi and Terry Austin drew.  Does anyone have a decent scan of that?  It was a great image and I'd like to feature it here.

Marvel Age 7 1983 Butch Guice X-Men and Micronauts

The Micronauts were red-hot as well, even after Michael Golden left the series.  Jackson "Butch" Guice came along and injected new excitement into the characters.  After the X-Men became popular, it was only natural that Marvel would produce a limited series featuring the two teams getting together.

You have to love Storm's mohawk and biker-girl outfit in this one.  Wolverine's supposed to be front and center, but that mohawk is like a vortex.

I believe Arcturus (Commander) Rann is making a comeback in the current Son of Hulk mini-series.

Marvel Age 2 1983 John Byrne Alpha Flight

Alpha Flight made a big splash in 1983 when it received a solo title, the first Marvel series created, written, and drawn by John Byrne (who started his Fantastic Four run around the same time).  This image was also used as a promotional poster.

Fans were excited--Alpha Flight always gave the X-Men a run for their money, and the series sold well but eventually ran out of steam.  The scene I'll always remember is the conclusion of issue #12, where Vindicator dies trying to disengage the circuitry in his costume.  That was well done, Byrne totally disrupted reader expectations with that one.  Nuff Said!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Paul Smith's Amazing Heroes X-Men Cover

X-Men cover by Paul Smith for Amazing Heroes 12, 1982

This 1982 Amazing Heroes cover by Paul Smith appeared during his spectacular run on X-Men.  Marvel fandom cheered when Smith took over the series—and cried when he left nearly a year later.  In the middle of a double-sized issue of X-Men, no less!  Nuff Said!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Thor Thursday: The Thunder God's 1970s Magazine

When Conan became such a blazing success in Marvel’s magazine line, the editors asked themselves, how else can we capitalize on this trend?  The answer was: give Thor his own black and white magazine and sell it to the barbarian loving hordes. 

Marvel Preview 10 1977 Thor cover painting by Ken Barr

I believe that Marvel was at one point primed to publish a bi-monthly THOR magazine, as I can trace about 3 full length stories commissioned in this format.  This decision must have been reversed and the material appeared in places such as Marvel Preview #10.

Ken Barr’s 1977 cover tries to evoke Conan and Frazetta rather than Jack Kirby, doesn’t it?  I think there was a miscalculation here, that Conan fans would also be interested in Thor.  If you bought this issue expecting to see Thor skewering enemies on a battlefield, there would have been massive disappointment.

Jim Starlin Tony Dezuniga art for Thor in Marvel Preview 10 1977

The interior story by Len Wein opens with an Asgardian bar fight with the Thunder God backed up by the Warriors Three.  Jim Starlin provided the layouts, with finishes by Tony DeZuniga.  The usual hijinks with Loki ensues after a while—the most tired plot of all comicdom.

Marvel had to differentiate this series.  The Thor stories in this format took place before Thor had been merged with Dr. Don Blake—and before he learned any kind of humility.  Perhaps a more interesting series would be called Teen Thor?  Nuff Said!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

John Severin King Kull Pin-Up

John Severin King Kull pinup from Kull and the Barbarians 1, 1975

This John Severin pin-up of King Kull standing by his army appeared in Kull and the Barbarians #1, 1975.  Severin helped launch the King Kull color comic, and most notably worked on the Sgt Fury and Hulk.  Nuff Said!

Update: Comments from my old MT blog...


Great blog! Thanks for the Kull / Conan / Sonja posts -- keep 'em coming!!
A few years back John Severin did a one-shot of Punisher Max with Garth Ennis. The story dealt with Frank Castle's childhood. It was an amazing issue. Art and story were just perfect. It got me into reading Garth Ennis's Punisher run. Just great stuff.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Barry Windsor Smith's Epic Illustrated Covers

Barry Windsor-Smith first bid Marvel adieu in the 1970s after he left the Conan series.  But he returned from time to time, working on special projects, such as his contributions to Epic Illustrated.

Epic Illustrated August 1981 cover by Barry Windsor-Smith

This particular cover for the August 1981 issue, featuring a warrior about to enter a walled city, shows that Smith still retained his mastery over all things sword and sorcery.

Epic Illustrated February 1983 cover by Barry Windsor-Smith

The February 1983 cover depicts an "epic" crash landing in a lush pond and surrounding forest. 

Epic Illustrated was the Marvel Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, edited by the late legendary Archie Goodwin.  While Epic featured occasional stories of Marvel characters like Galactus and the Silver Surfer, it featured independent work by creators.  It was a first for Marvel, to publish stories where creators retained the ownership and copyright.  This paved the way for Goodwin to start the Epic line of comics, where an incredible array of creator-owned comics were published--Dreadstar, Coyote, Moonshadow, Groo, and many others.  Nuff Said!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Silver Surfer Saturday: Moebius Marvel Age Cover

Here’s a 1989 Marvel Age cover by Moebius featuring the Silver Surfer.

Marvel Age 71 1989 Silver Surfer cover by Moebius

This issue promoted the two issue “Silver Surfer Parable” story that Stan Lee and Moebius did together.  It wasn’t very successful story-wise, but seeing Moebius doing his version of Norrin Radd and Galactus was cool.  Nuff Said!

Friday, February 5, 2010

The 1980s Marvel Heroes Fashion Makeover: Grey Hulk, Spider-Man Black Costume, etc.

Every comics company loves to give their heroes a new look from time to time.  During the Shooter-era of the 1980s, the Marvel heroes were re-designed with new looks and costumes.

The new look for the Marvel Heroes in the 80s, 90s

  • Spider-Man: Black costume from Secret Wars, sans the symbiote.
  • Iron Man: Tony Stark designed this red and silver armor in Iron Man #200.
  • Hulk: Grey Hulk from Peter David’s tenure on the series.
  • Thor: Walt Simonson designed this new battle armor and let the Thunder God grow a beard.
  • Captain America: Steve Rogers put on this costume and became a free agent for a while.  Later on, US Agent wore this costume whenever a team needed a third-rate Captain America—like the current Mighty Avengers series.

Were these Marvel makeovers as bad as shoulder pads and mullets?  I liked the Grey Hulk the best out of this lineup.  Nuff Said!

Update: Comments from my old MT blog...


Those were the days! I'm with you on the Grey Hulk but also was a fan of the "Captain."
I'll always have a soft spot for the black Spidey costume: didn't collect comics rigourously, mainly getting the Marvel UK 'Transformers' comic and the odd issue of other series, but that title tended to run other Marvel strips as back-ups. One such strip, taken from the 1986 US 'Amazing Spider-Man' annual, I later learned, showed Spidey coming up against the Iron Man of 2020, and, having only seen Spider-man in the red and blue costume, this cool new look blew me away! At the time, I knew nothing of the origin of the costume, or its alien nature (that said, as that story was printed in 1986, the black costume in it would have been the cloth version anyway), but thought (and still do) that it was aesthetically stunning in its simplicity, the white spider emblem really complimenting the black. We must have had quiet childhoods, because I can remember talking with friends about Spidey's 'new' look: one friend said that the suit was an alien, and I thought he was surely mistaken...

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thor Thursday: Jim Starlin Pin-Up in Glorious Black and White

Thor brings down the thunder and lightning in this 1977 pin-up that appeared in Marvel Preview #10, by Jim Starlin.

Jim Starlin Thor pinup for Marvel Preview 10 1977

Starlin's black and white drawings during this period were unworldly good.

I've run out of steam on Thing Tuesday.  Henceforth, let Thursday now be known as Thor Thursday!  Nuff Said!

Here is an interesting factoid from Marvel fan Klaus Nordby: Heh! Maybe it'll console you to know that the English "Thursday" is etymologically derived from "Thor's day". Here in Norway, it's called "Torsdag" -- for we spell his name "Tor". Our Wednesday is called "Onsdag" -- which is derived from "Odin's day".

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Giant-Size Challenge: Name the Characters in this 1985 Kerry Gammill Marvel Age Cover

Marvel Age Annual #1 from 1985 featured this crowded wraparound cover by Kerry Gammill.

Marvel Age 1985 Annual cover by Kerry Gammill

Virtually all of Marvel's characters from this period are featured here.  Two of the wackiest are the Beyonder (on the right) in his zoot-suit from Secret Wars II and Magneto (in the middle) in his reformed period leading the X-Men.  Whoever designed that stupid new costume for Magneto with the giant "M" on his chest should have consulted Tim Gunn first.

There's one character I can't identify, in-between Colossus and Storm in the middle section.  Who the heck is that?

Can you name all of the rest?  Reply in the comments if you can.  Nuff Said!

Update: Comments from my previous Movable Type blog...


Could it be the Phone Ranger ?
It is the Phone Ranger, you are correct, sir! LOL. I had to look that up. The Phone Ranger was featured inside this issue by Kurt Busiek as a joke.
To be honest I had to look it up too !!! I read a synopsis of that
issue and it mentioned the Lethal Legion which I looked up on the
Marvel Appendix. Love your site. That was my first post but I check
out Giant Size Marvel all the time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

1975 Marvel Convention Poster by John Buscema

This poster by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott for the 1975 Marvel Convention features all the stars of that era.

Marvel Convention 1975 poster by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott

Not only do the big superstars look great, but so do the “B” players (Ka-Zar, Luke Cage Powerman, Shang-Chi, etc) and the Marvel monsters (Ghost Rider, Frankenstein, Dracula, etc).  There are even two licensed characters, Conan and Doc Savage.  What a diverse world the 1975 Marvel Universe was!  Nuff said!

Update: Comments from my previous Movable Type blog...


I've had this large, original convention poster, framed, for many a year.
While not the all-time "best" thing in my collection, it IS special because it's one of the few items that features both; Dr Strange AND Man-Thing (my two big faves).

You are correct, however.
Every character, no matter if "A-list" or "D-list" is drawn dynamically by the late, great John Buscema.
I've had a poster just like this for aprox 20 years except where Buscema/Sinnott's signatures are it says 'The Titans' and their signatures are in the bottom left corner.
Was wondering if anyone can help me put a price to it or point me in the direction of where to get one.