Uncanny X-Men, Part 11: Storm, the FF and Phoenix in John Byrne’s The Hidden Years

Sunday, May 24th, 2020 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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Welcome to my 11th installment of my epic rereading of the X-Men, starting in 1963. I say that like it’s a big thing I’ve done, but to put things in perspective, I’ve done 10 posts before this and I haven’t even gotten to Giant-Sized X-Men #1 yet! Partly for that reason and partly because there are some swings and some misses in X-Men: The Hidden Years, and I really want to get back to the Bronze Age appearances of the X-Men.

Let me start with some of the negatives with X-Men: The Hidden Years. I don’t start here to scare anyone off. I think the things that don’t work are generalized problems with this series and are also certainly not fatal. X-Men: The Hidden Years was in fact selling well and was only cancelled at 22 issues because Marvel saw it had too many X-Men books at the same time and needed to cut one.

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Rogue Blades Author: How Robert E. Howard (and Glenn Lord) Changed My Life

Friday, May 15th, 2020 | Posted by Ty Johnston

The following is an an excerpt from Roy Thomas’ essay for the upcoming book from the Rogue Blades Foundation, Robert E. Howard Changed My Life.

I’ve told this story so many time by now that I figure everybody who would want to know it is tired of it already, but I can’t make up new facts just because I have to write a new article, can I? Well, maybe there’ll be a few twists in my tale this time, because I want to tell it a little bit more from the angle of Robert E. Howard (1906-1936) and Glenn Lord (1931-2011).

Robert E. Howard came first, but just barely.

I had, to the best of my memory, never heard of Robert E. Howard — or of Conan or any of the other Howard characters — when the Lancer Books paperback Conan the Adventurer appeared on the racks in 1966, some months after I started working for Stan Lee at Marvel Comics. Well, truth to tell, he was mentioned in a couple of paragraphs in my fan/friend Richard A. Lupoff’s 1965 book Edgar Rice Burroughs: Master of Adventures as one of the literary heroes inspired, at least in part, by Tarzan of the Apes… but that part of Dick’s study slipped right past me, leaving no imprint on my mind. When I saw the first Conan paperback, my eyes were drawn — as they were meant to be — by Frank Frazetta’s stunningly savage cover. I bought that book as I’d been buying others of an ERB ilk, pastiches of Burroughs by Otis Adelbert Kline, Gardner Fox, Lin Carter, whomever. I didn’t always actually read those pastiches, but I kept a little collection of them on a shelf in my apartment. One day I might get around to them.

castle of blood brunner the bounty hunter Rage of the Behemoth

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Uncanny X-Men, Part 10: John Byrne’s The Hidden Years #1-4

Saturday, April 25th, 2020 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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Holy cow! We’re into double digits of my reread of the X-Men story that began in 1963. I include a full set of links to the post series at the bottom of this post. As we saw last time, some later creators have had some fun in writing stories that fit into those empty years between 1970 and 1975 when X-Men was just a reprint title. One of the most famous is John Byrne’s 1999-2001 series X-Men: The Hidden Years. 

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Rogue Blades Author: My New Friend Agnes

Friday, April 17th, 2020 | Posted by Ty Johnston

Howard changed my lifeBelow is an excerpt from comic book artist and writer Becky Cloonan’s essay  for the upcoming book, Robert E. Howard Changed My Life, from publisher Rogue Blades Foundation.

Ah, comic books! The great escape. Arguably (and don’t tell my partner this) my One True Love. Drawing comic books has been my dream since I read my first issue, a Silver Surfer Annual from 1988. Granted, I wasn’t a very good artist back then, but I drew every day, determined to improve myself no matter how long it took. New York City had changed me, true—but even with my new-found interests, music, philosophies, and friends, my love for drawing was still paramount. I still maintained the childhood dream that making comic books would one day be my only job.

Nearly twenty years have passed since then, and somewhere along the way that dream came true. I still draw every day, and with the same determination to improve myself. Surprisingly, I love it now as much as I did back then. I suppose there is the pressure of turning your hobby into your career, but that’s a whole different essay.

I still love drawing, but its purpose has changed. Little by little though, the more I relied on comics for my income, the less of an escape they became. There’s nothing to fear in my past anymore, and because it can’t hurt me I’m free to draw purely for the love of the thing. I had learned to fill in the cracks left behind from childhood in other ways. In the last few years I grew my hair back out; now I wear it long, like I did when I was young. And I’m still drawing comic books.

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Uncanny X-Men, Part 9: Filling in the Corners of the Original X-Men with Savage Hulk #1-4

Saturday, March 28th, 2020 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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Welcome to the 9th episode of my reread of the vast X-Men story that began in 1963. The X-Men series stopped putting out original stories in early 1970, due primarily to low sales; it was a reprint magazine from issues #67–93, cover dated December 1970 to April 1975, until the beginning of the Claremont and Cockrum run in issue #94.

I’m going to go through their early Bronze Age appearances in coming blog posts, but for story continuity purposes, I’m also reading issues created in contemporary times but fitting into that 5-year dead period, like I covered for the original X-Men in X-Men: First Class.

So this time I read the 2014 series Savage Hulk, by writer/penciller Alan Davis, inker Mark Farmer and colorist Matt Hollingsworth. If this is the first of these posts you’ve seen, you can find my previous ones at the links below.

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Uncanny X-Men Part 8, Issues 59-66: The Savage Land and the End of the Silver Age X-Men

Saturday, March 14th, 2020 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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This is a gigantic milestone! This is the 8th episode in my reread of the X-Men run. It covers from #59, the height of the Roy Thomas-Neal Adams run, to #66, the end of original X-Men stories, which hit the stands on March 10th, 1970. The end of the X-Men’s ongoing stories coincides with the end of the Silver Age and the beginning of the Bronze.

The Silver Age X-Men, as a distinctly 1960s phenomenon reached their peak with some of the Arnold Drake stories with some interesting experimentation under Steranko’s art. The arrival of Neal Adams feels much more like it belongs in the Bronze Age. Both the art and the story complexity (under Roy Thomas) feels like it’s breaking creative ground that the best of the 1970s will follow.

The merry mutants’ uneven momentum had carried them for 7 years, but even a spectacular finish couldn’t save the series from its failure to come into focus. We’re going to talk today about that end.

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Uncanny X-Men: Part 7, Issues #54-58 – Havok and Neal Adams

Saturday, February 29th, 2020 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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I was super-tempted to pause my blogging about my X-Men reread to complain about my reread of another classic, but I opted for the high road and am glad I did, because this was a fun post to think through. And, for those of you still with me, we’re almost at the end of the original X-Men! So pull up a chair for the 7th installment of my reread of the X-Men.

In this post, I want to look at issues #54-58 (March, 1969 – July, 1969), a run that contains two major Silver Age milestones. The first is the introduction of Alex Summer, the mutant brother of Scott Summers. Alex will eventually join the X-Men as their 7th member. The second is equally exciting – the beginning of Neal Adams’ brief but spectacular run. The team-up of Roy Thomas and Neal Adams marks the beginning of the zenith of the original team, outshining the Kirby-Lee issues and sitting comfortably at the same table as many of the great Claremont-Byrne stories.

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Call for Backers! Mary Shelley Presents Four Horror Stories by Victorian Women

Sunday, February 23rd, 2020 | Posted by Emily Mah

Trade PBGaskellEveryone’s heard of Frankenstein, and most people also know its author, Mary Shelley, but on the 200th anniversary of that novel’s publication, Kymera Press is doing something very, very cool. Mary Shelley Presents is a graphic novel series about other Victorian women horror writers. These women were famous in their own day, but their legacies have faded over time. Now, with the help of Kickstarter, Kymera press seeks to assemble the multiple stories of this series into one trade paperback that they will then bring to life — okay, okay… I’ll hold off on any other Frankenstein metaphors…

Instead, let me introduce Debbie Daughetee, owner of Kymera Press, and have her tell the story of this book in her own words. Then head on over to Kickstarter to support the trade paperback edition!

Emily Mah: Mary Shelly is a beloved matriarch of horror and this book looks so gorgeous. Can you give us some background on how it came to be?

Debbie Daughetee: Nancy Holder and I have been wanting to work together for a long time. So when the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein loomed, I talked to Nancy about doing something to celebrate it. Neither of us wanted to revisit Frankenstein as it’s been done to death in comics. Finally, we had the thought to have Mary Shelley and her creature introduce horror stories written by Victorian Women.

Mary Shelley and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, did much for women’s rights and for women writers. It was a natural fit with Kymera Press’ mission statement of supporting women in comics. These Victorian women were as famous in their time as Charles Dickens and Bram Stoker, and yet most people haven’t heard of them. Resurrecting their voices is a fun and interesting adventure for us.

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Uncanny X-Men Part 6: Issues #49-53: Reunion and Family and Steranko

Saturday, February 15th, 2020 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

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Holy mutants, Batman! We’ve reached week 12, episode 6 of the great X-Men reread! This is an exciting run, because we get to experience the first of two  moments of major artistic experimentation in the Silver Age X-Men, as well as the first real addition to the X-Men’s roster since issue #1. This blog post will only cover the 4-issue Daughter of Magneto saga and a stand-alone issue with an FF villain (so October, 1968 to March 1969), but I think we’re getting to periods where it’s worth slowing down to experience the art and writing more slowly.

If this it the first of these posts that you noticed, my can find my previous ones here:

  • Part I: X-Men #1 (Nov, 1963) to X-Men #20 (May, 1966)
  • Part II: Early X-Men guest appearances (1964-1965), X-Men #21-23 (1966), and X-Men: First Class Volume I (2006)
  • Part IIIX-Men: First Class, Volume II (2007)
  • Part IVX-Men #24-39: The Middle Years of the Original Team
  • Part VUncanny X-Men, Part 5 – Issues #40-48: Death and Separation

We left the X-Men at the end of issue #48, having been split up for two issues and still mourning their deceased professor. By the time issue #49 rolled around, we readers were ready to see the gang back together. Their reunion feels like a big deal not just because they’re together again, but because of the cover art and the new story.

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Goth Chick News: The Crazy Reality of The Show

Thursday, February 6th, 2020 | Posted by Sue Granquist

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A whole 22 years has passed since we marveled at reality TV taken to the extreme via The Truman Show, and my, my, my weren’t we naïve back then? I mean, we were still almost 10 years from the train wreck that would be Keeping Up with the Karadashians, and even 4 years from the first Bachelor episode. Though we had by then voyeuristically tuned into The Real World, it would seem downright pedestrian when compared to what came later in the form of Temptation Island and Survivor. Today, I can’t come up with an accurate count of how many total reality television programs are currently airing, but several sources list at least 15 as ‘must see TV’ so the number must be well into the double-digits. And each year, audiences demand edgier, more titillating, more graphic content until we arrive at…

The Show.

It was a simple idea. Take a man, lock him in a room and film him slowly go mad. That man was Johnny Teevee and he’s been locked away for six years.

But, as Johnny’s antics become more predictable, ratings start to drop, and his producer is forced to go to extreme lengths to keep things entertaining.

It might be cruel, it might be immoral — but it makes good TV.

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