Two, Count ‘Em, Two Nazi Robot T-Rexes

Wednesday, June 13th, 2018 | Posted by Steve Carper

Hangman-Comics-4-Fall-1942-p1-small

We’re back in the wild, ineffable chaos of the comic book in its infancy. Superman had debuted in 1938, an instant smash. The audience clearly wanted more Supermen, but what did that mean? The 1938 Superman barely resembles today’s omnipotent cosmic hero. He couldn’t fly, couldn’t see through objects, couldn’t move at super-speed, couldn’t freeze objects with his breath, couldn’t emit beams from his eyes, couldn’t survive in space. These gaping holes in his resume gave competitors openings to try to beat Superman at his own game.

Maurice Coyne, Louis Silberkleit, and John L. Goldwater, all veterans of the pulp magazine world though none was yet 40, yoked their first initials together to form MLJ Comics in 1939, launching four titles in four months: Blue Ribbon Comics, Top Notch Comics, Pep Comics, and Zip Comics, which would introduce Steel Sterling, the literal man of steel – a cyborg, though, not a robot. MLJ floundered at first. Blue Ribbon #1 started with Rang-A-Tang, the wonder dog, Dan Hastings, fighting the Mexidians on Mars, and Buck Stacey, young range detective.

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Goth Chick News: A New Horror Comic to Chill Your Summer

Thursday, June 7th, 2018 | Posted by Sue Granquist

Cold Spots issue 1-smallWhen I wasn’t sneaking in front of the TV in the wee hours to watch B&W horror classics on the local public station, I was hiding Tales from the Crypt between my mattresses. Much to my parents’ dismay, I was never much into Barbie or the myriad fan-girl magazines of the time, but spent my allowance doing my best to scare the snot out of myself.

Horror comics were easy-to-manage contraband and I became a fan for life, which is why it was particularly exciting when my friends over at Image Comics sent an early notice about their new offering launching later this summer.

Cullen Bunn (RegressionHarrow County) and Mark Torres (Zombies vs. Robots: Undercity) unleash psychological terror, the undead, and a supernaturally bitter cold in a spine-tingling new series, Cold Spots.

Ten years ago, Dan Kerr turned his back on his wife and unborn daughter. Now, both mother and child have gone missing, and Dan must face cosmic terrors to find them again. He soon finds that ghosts stir when his estranged daughter is near. And as the dead grow restless, the cold deepens in… Cold Spots.

“The idea of a sudden drop in temperature accompanying the manifestation of spirits has always fascinated me,” said Bunn. “With Cold Spots, I couple that idea with a tale of very personal loss and dread. As the dead surround Dan and his missing child, the cold takes on a deadly, terrifying ‘life’ of its own.”

Cold Spots #1 (Diamond Code JUN180044) hits stores on Wednesday, August 22nd.

Are you a horror comic fan? What’s your favorite? Post a comment or drop a line to sue@blackgate.com.


A Fresh Look at X-Men Continuity: Ed Piskor’s Grand Design

Saturday, May 26th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

XMEN Grand Design-small Classic X-Men 8-small

When I started collecting X-Men comics in 1981, there was one universe. There had never been a Marvel reboot, and DC had only had one — the 1956-1958 transition from the Golden Age to the Silver Age. By the time I left comics in the early 1990s, DC had brought us through the second major reboot in history, the classic and brilliant Crisis on Infinite Earths.

However, Marvel still hadn’t really messed up its continuity, although the reprint title X-Men Classics was retconning a number of elements into the early Claremont-Cockrum-Byrne stories.

By the time I came back to comics almost 15 years later, I was bewildered by the X-Men and didn’t know where to pick up. The Age of Apocalypse had happened in an alternate universe as far as I could tell, and while the Onslaught event had apparently killed everyone, they were somehow back in time for there to be not just a few dozen or a few hundred mutants, but over a million.

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Who Is Mysterio? The Early Days of the Spider-Man Villain with the Fishbowl on His Head

Saturday, May 26th, 2018 | Posted by Ryan Harvey

mysterio-entrance-panel-amazing-spider-man-issue-13

News dropped on Monday that actor Jake Gyllenhaal will likely play the part of Mysterio in the sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, whatever it’s called. (Spider-Man: Back from the Ashes would work.) Gyllenhaal is an excellent choice to play a whole range of Spidey villains — the actor’s earned trust on that front thanks to his performance in Nightcrawler. But the real news for me is Mysterio, regardless of who’s putting on the mesh green outfit with eye-brooch accessories. He’s a Spider-Man villain overdue for the big screen treatment.

(Oh, and we now know for certain that Michael Keaton will return as the Vulture, probably to stoke the fires about the Sinister Six getting together. Bokeem Woodbine’s Shocker is still alive, and it looks like Scorpion is in play as well. Only two more slots to fill! Maybe Kraven the Hunter and … The Kangaroo? I hope it’s the Kangaroo.)

So who is this Mysterio bloke? Short version: he’s a special effects wizard who decided to go into a life of crime and put a fishbowl on his head. Because comic books. He doesn’t have superpowers, but he can put on a helluva light and illusion show and he specializes in reality-bending tricks and mind games, making him an ideal movie bad guy.

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The Poison Apple: What do The Watchmen, Sandman, Frankenstein, Dracula, H.P. Lovecraft and Sherlock Holmes have in Common?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018 | Posted by Elizabeth Crowens

Leslie Klinger in Sherlock mode

Leslie Klinger in Sherlock mode

An Interview with Leslie S. Klinger

Crowens: What drew you to the Victorian era? That seems to be the common thread for most of your books except for your annotated graphic novels.

Klinger: When I was young, I was a big science fiction reader. In my second year of law school, my girlfriend bought me a copy of the William S. Baring-Gould Annotated Sherlock Holmes. I was hooked. Like most people, I probably read one or two stories as a kid, paid little attention to them, and wasn’t really interested in mysteries. Then I started reading this, and I enjoyed the footnotes — the idea that there was this scholarship. One of my responses to the Baring-Gould edition was a weird one: Some day when I’m old and retired, maybe I’ll be the person who will update it. I became immersed and decided I was going to become a Sherlockian.

In 1976, there was a classified ad in the Baker Street Journal placed by somebody selling his collection of 300 books, a real collection, not like the junk I’d been buying. It was very expensive… like thirty-five hundred dollars. I talked it over with my wife. For that time that was a lot of money. She said, “You’re the kind of person who should be a collector. Go for it.”

Suddenly I had the core of a really good collection and became known in some small circles as a nut about Sherlock Holmes. I started giving talks about Sherlock Holmes, and I got invited to a dinner at the BSI back in 70s. It was one of those bucket list things where I never thought about it again. In 1995 a friend arranged for another invitation. I went to the dinner, and I haven’t missed one since then.

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Birthday Reviews: Gregory Frost’s “Farewell, My Rocketeer”

Sunday, May 13th, 2018 | Posted by Steven H Silver

Cover by Jay Bone

Cover by Jay Bone

Gregory Frost was born on May 13, 1951.

Gregory Frost’s novelette “Madonna of the Maquiladora” was nominated for the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, the James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. Frost has also been nominated for the International Horror Guild Award and World Fantasy Award for his novel Fitcher’s Brides. His Shadowbridge and Lord Tophet jointly were nominated for the Tiptree, and “How Meersh the Bedeviler Lost His Toes” was nominated for the Sturgeon. He also received a Bram Stoker nomination for the story “No Others Are Genuine.” Several of his stories have been collected in Attack of the Jazz Giants and Other Stories, published by Golden Gryphon in 2011.

Cliff Secord’s career as the Rocketeer, a 1930s style pulp hero who is a pilot in his daily life, but secretly has access to a jet pack, has been chronicled in a series of comics and one film. In 2014 several authors were invited to add to his legend with prose stories, one of whom, Gregory Frost, contributed “Farewell, My Rocketeer,” a lost treasure story set in the American Southwest. The shared world anthology The Rocketeer Jet-Pack Adventures was edited by Jeff Conner and Tom Waltz. “Farewell, My Rocketeer” story has not been reprinted.

Secord gets involved in the treasure hunt when he lands at a small airstrip and diner which has been taken over by a disparate group of villains who are seeking gold based on an old treasure map. To save himself and the staff of the diner, who have been taken hostage, Secord agrees to pilot the group’s plane to help them find the treasure after their pilot dies, even though he realizes his own usefulness to the villains will end as soon as he lands them back at the diner, theoretically with the gold.

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Tripping on the Void: An Interview with Plaid Klaus of Image’s Void Trip

Saturday, May 12th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

Void Trip 1 alternate-small

This May, Image Comics will be collecting the five issues of Void Trip, by Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus. I took advantage of the chance to interview Plaid. Here’s the description for Void Trip:

Meet Ana and Gabe — the last two humans left alive in the galaxy. They’re low on fuel, they’re low on food, and they’re low on psychedelic space froot, but they’re still determined to make it to the promised land: hippy-paradise super-planet Euphoria. VOID TRIP is the story of their journey, the friends and enemies they made along the way, and how the universe responded to those who dared to live freely within it. “VOID TRIP aims to answer the question: ‘how can we be free in a universe that will always course-correct to limit us?’” said O’Sullivan. “This isn’t your typical adventure comic, with violence as the solution to every conflict. It’s a road trip story. Its main concern is exploring the human condition. It’s Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson meets Herman Melville and Cormac McCarthy. Expect laughter, tears, and existential dread in equal measure.”

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Last Chance to Win a Copy of Watchmen: The Annotated Edition from DC Comics

Wednesday, May 9th, 2018 | Posted by John ONeill

The Annotated Watchmen Leslie S Klinger-small

Ack! Time is running out for you to win a copy of Watchmen: The Annotated Edition courtesy of DC Comics. And trust us, you really want this book.  It’s the definitive edition of the seminal graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, a retrospective edition of the story that landed on Time magazine’s 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

In Watchmen: The Annotated Edition, Leslie S. Klinger looks at each of the series’ twelve issues in detail, moving page by page and panel by panel, and drawing on critical and scholastic commentary, interviews with Dave Gibbons, and previously unseen original source material. Read Derek Kunsken’s review, and an interview with Leslie S. Klinger, here.

How do you enter? Simplicity itself. Just submit a one-sentence email explaining what you think is the most influential element of Moore and Gibbon’s Watchmen series. The most compelling entry — as selected by Derek Kunsken — will receive a free copy of Watchmen: The Annotated Edition, complements of DC Comics.

How hard is that? One submission per person, please. Winners will be contacted by e-mail, so use a real e-mail address maybe. All submissions must be sent to john@blackgate.com, with the subject line Watchmen: The Annotated Edition, or something obvious like that so I don’t randomly delete it.

All entries become the property of New Epoch Press. No purchase necessary. Must be 12 or older. The judge’s decision (capricious as it may be) is final. Sorry, US only. Not valid where prohibited by law. Eat your vegetables.


Win a Copy of The Annotated Watchmen by DC Comics

Saturday, April 28th, 2018 | Posted by Derek Kunsken

The Annotated Watchmen Leslie S Klinger-small

I don’t think DC’s 1985 Watchmen needs a whole bunch of introduction (or any). As both a reader and a writer, I’ve read, re-read, analyzed, watched other people analyze, and blogged about the seminal work by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

DC Comics has released a retrospective edition of the story that landed on Time magazine’s 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In Watchmen: The Annotated Edition, Leslie S. Klinger looks at each of the series’ twelve issues in detail, moving page by page and panel by panel. Klinger drew on critical and scholastic commentary, interviews with Dave Gibbons, and previously unseen original source material.

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The Secret Origin of Ultron

Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 | Posted by Steve Carper

Avenges-67-August-1969-cover

With the entire world counting down to an imminent and inevitable event that may shake the entire world and light up Twitter like nothing previous – no, not a Trump impeachment, but the premiere of Avengers: Infinity War – an Avengers robot column may be the only thing to soothe and distract the hordes long enough for the rest of us to stock up on survival gear, water, and dark chocolate.

For that I need to go back one movie to Avengers: Age of Ultron. Every good comic historian knows the origin of Ultron. He’s introduced in the pulsating pages of Avengers #55 (August 1968) as Ultron-5 and his back story is laid out in delectable detail in Avengers #58 (November 1968). Some indefinite time in the past Hank Pym – Ant Man, Giant Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, pick one – was noodling around in his workshop tinkering with “a crude but workable robot .. A faltering step on the path to synthetic life!” For reasons never explained, the robot turns itself on and its brain evolves from infant to adult in a matter of magnificent moments, giving it more daddy issues than all the Miss Golden Globes titlests combined. He, now definitely a gendered he, blanks Hank’s memory while he spends time off-page continually upgrading his body so that when readers get their first glimpse he introduces himself as Ultron-5.

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