Sunday, May 31, 2009

At the Movies: Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation, written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris and directed by McG, is the fourth film in the Terminator series. The film stars Christian Bale as future Resistance leader John Connor and Sam Worthington as cyborg Marcus Wright. The film introduces a younger version of Kyle Reese, the doomed protagonist from the original 1984 film, played by Anton Yelchin (also in theaters as Chekov in Star Trek), as well as depicting the origin of the T-800 Model Terminator (made famous by Arnold Schwarzenegger). Terminator Salvation is set in the year2018, and relates the tale of the long teased war between humanity and Skynet.

Several of the guys over at Ain't It Cool News ripped it a new one, and at best the film has had mixed reviews. Some of this may have stemmed from a widely reported incident onset by actor Christian Bale, but I caught it over the weekend (when Angels and Demons late show was the closed caption version, so I took a pass).

I didn't think that it was too bad. To me Bale doesn't phone in his performance, as I had been led to believe. Sam Worthington is totally cool & awesome in this movie and I am now really looking forward to his role as Perseus in the Clash of the Titans remake. Anton Yelchin is really effective as Kyle Reese, Moon Bloodgood is sexy, but I feel cheated that they cut her topless scene (it had better make the DVD release) and Bryce Howard is even sexy in her rather limited role of Kate.

The effects are plentiful and well done, and it was nice to hear Linda Hamilton's voice over work. Of course, once the word was issued that the Governator would allow his image to be used in the film, anticipation was high for his old T-800 Terminator, and here McG truly delivered. T-800 doesn't show up until near the end, but his appearance is excellent.

I recommend seeing it in the theaters, but I know that a lot of you will wait for the DVD.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Countdown to Heroes Convention (3 weeks)

The annual Heroes Convention kicks off in Charlotte, North Carolina in just three weeks!

A long-time staple of the comic book community, with a current guest list that has swollen to almost 200 hundred industry professionals and exhibitors, this predominantly comic book oriented event holds an appeal for all ages visitors. For a glimpse at the festivities just follow this link:

Missing for the past several years, both Marvel Comics and DC Comics are set to return with large exhibitor booths featuring previews of upcoming titles, portfolio reviews and freebies.

Top artists and writers who are planning on attending include: Mark Bagley, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Frank Cho, Chris Claremont, Matt Fraction, Adam Hughes, David Mack, George Perez and Jeff Smith - and that short list is just the tip of the iceberg.

Plan ahead, book your room, set aside some bucks and then head on down to Dixie and join us for a terrific comics-centric weekend of pure bliss. You'll be glad that you did!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Retro-View: Captain Marvel #43 (Marvel Comics)

Captain Marvel #43 (March 1976) is written by Steve Englehart and illustrated by Al Milgrom, who also drew the front cover, which features a pretty neat battle between Mar-Vell and Drax, but one other terrific creator contributed something to this issue.

The great Bernie Wrightson inked Milgrom's pencils on the cover, and his work really makes that cover image "pop". Coming shortly after Jim Starlin left the series, this pairing of Milgrom & Wrightson sorta evokes the Starlin issues - at least for me.

"Destroy! Destroy" begins with the Captain and his sidekick Rick Jones, taking a ride through space on a robot horse, dont' ask, but needless to say, a situation that continues from the previous issue. Suddenly we are treated to the thought processes of the Kree Supreme Intelligence, who has detected the destruction of both a planet and it's sun, by the android called Drax the Destroyer. It seems that Drax is acting out his rage over Mar-vell's recent defeat of Thanos, the Titanian born Eternal who caused the death of Drax's human body and his rebirth in his new form. Drax was all about revenging himself on the Titan, and now he has a good mad on for Mar-Vell to fill the void.

Well, the Supreme Intelligence takes matters into this own hand and stretches his mental influence across the galaxy cluing the Destroyer into where he can locate Mar-Vell and then his brain waves cause the Captain's metallic steed to buck poor Rick off and forces Marvel to land his "ride" on a nearby alien planetoid.

While there, Mar-Vell and Rick have a few words over the direction their lives have taken and Rick strikes off on his own for some quiet time. Meanwhile, the Destroyer plummets through the atmosphere and is just on the verge of laying a wallop on Mar-Vell, when the Kree Warriors "cosmic awareness" kicks in long enough for him to roll out of the way. After the two heroes engage in the requisite scrape, the Captain thinks that he has knocked Drax out, but then the Destroyer informs Mar-Vell that it is both his blessing and his curse to be virtually invincible.

Before we get to the end of their fight, we are shown how Rick has encountered a mysterious beauty, appearing again from events of the previous issue, and this saucy siren plays coy games in order to coax Rick into doffing his space helmet, and while initially reluctant to do so, Rick gets "teased" just enough to give it a go, when what do you know, off comes the helmet and down goes Rick.

The action skips back to the conclusion of the Mar-Vell and Drax bout, with the Captain getting bodily smashed into several asteroids, and then he is physically tossed back into the planets atmosphere showing the effects of heating up from re-entry. Drax is the winner, by a knockout!

Boy, you would be hard pressed to find something this fun on the stands these days. If you have any interest in this title, issues can easily be found at affordable prices. I bought this one for $3 in a back issue bin. It's condition would grade at fine+, and I would much rather pay three dollars for a cool back issue over anything off the stands today, but that's just me.

Okay, "Gal" Friday Returns! Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde plays Dr. Remy Hadley aka "Thirteen" on the Fox television series, House. In case you may not have heard, she has also recently made it to the top of the soft core food chain by being named #1 on the Maxim Hot 100 list.

That ain't too bad, but even better for those degenerates among us (including yours truly), the very "hot" Megan Fox - Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - recently commented that even she found Olivia intoxicatingly sexy. (Go ahead, take a cold shower as you ponder that scene.)

I'll wait!


Oh! You're back already. Well then, enjoy this image of Ms. Wilde which was taken in 2005 by her husband, Tao Ruspoli.

The man has an eye for beauty, as the photo is very good; of course, he also has the luck of the Irish since he gets to go home to this every night.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Profile Antics: Mike Parobeck

Mike Parobeck died from complications resulting from diabetes in July 1996. He was only 30 years old. I can't believe that it has been that long since he passed away. He was a remarkable talent, with a long future ahead of him.
In his short comic career, he produced some really memorable artwork on such DC Comics titles as El Diablo, The Fly, the 1992 Justice Society of America series and the Elongated Man mini-series. I had issues of all of those books and not only were they very well-done comics, they were also lots and lots of fun.

However, Mike Parobeck gained his greatest fame working on The Batman Adventures, again for DC Comics, which was done in the style of the popular Bruce Timm Batman animated series. Both a critical and commercial success, The Batman Adventures spinoff meshed well with the style established on the cartoon show and helped make the comic more popular than was usual for a cartoon spinoff. His art helped establish Batman Adventures as a fun alternative to the regular Batman comics of the time, which were thought by many to be excessively grim and gritty.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Lo, The Lethal Legion (?)

I just noticed that Marvel Comics has solicited orders for something called Dark Reign: Lethal Legion #1-3 (June - August 2009). After reading the brief description, it appears that they are pulling another old super-villain team out of mothballs for a mini-series tied into their Dark Reign event.

I remember the first version of the Lethal Legion who originally appeared in The Avengers #79 (July 1970). Consisting of Grim Reaper, Swordsman, Power Man, Living Laser and Man-Ape, the Legion initially got the drop on the mighty Avengers, until the Reaper discovered a heretofore unknown connection between the Vision and his deceased brother, Wonder Man. Later on several members of that version of the Legion were tricked by the villain known as Count Nefaria into battling against the Avengers again, solely to allow Nefaria to secretly syphon off their super-powers for himself. The teams lineup has continually changed over the years.

Now, it seems as if villainy is all the rage at Marvel these days, and not just in Dark Reign. There are the Thunderbolts, who were originally the Masters of Evil (another group of Avengers foes), Deadpool, and Dark Reign's own uber-bad guy, Norman Osborn; who has long since outgrown his old Green Goblin shtick and become the Marvel Universe equivalent of Lex Luthor.

I like the various rogues gallery foes for most of Marvels heroes as much as the next guy, but endlessly spinning off so many series for their stable of baddies doesn't leave much room for the classic villains within the pages of the regular titles - does it? I don't know how I feel about this tendency, but I don't think that I really like it. I would much prefer seeing these guys work their dastardly deeds within the pages of the heroes own books.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Who's Who at Dragoncon 2009 (so far)!

Dragon*Con is the largest multi-media, popular culture convention focusing on science fiction and fantasy, gaming, comics, literature, art, music, and film in the US. Dragon*Con 2009 will be held on Labor Day weekend (September 4 - September 7, 2009) in Atlanta, GA.

Since May has about run its course, and to allow all of you geeks an advance "heads up" on which celebrities are currently planning on making the trek down South, take a gander at this assemblage of genre veterans representing such classic, popular TV series & films as: Star Trek, Babylon 5, Battlestar: Galactica, Smallville, Supergirl, The Dukes of Hazzard, Farscape, Twilight, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Starman, Pitch Black, Heroes, X-Men, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Stargate, Hellraiser, The Road Warrior, Buck Rogers, The A-Team, Blade Runner, Fringe, The Terminator, Firefly/Serenity and many, many others.

There will also be a top assortment of science fiction, fantasy, and horror authors, comic book writers and artists, painters, model makers, animators, and so many costumers that you might believe you've fallen into the Twilight Zone .... and more goodies than you will have time to take in.
Come on down to Dixie and join in the fun, and again, you have all summer long to plan your trip (& set aside sufficient funds to cover the tab).
PS: There seems to be quite a bit of female pulchritude up there that I haven't used as "Gal" Friday subjects, so maybe my self-imposed moratorium won't last too long after all. Yummy!

Spawned in the Underground

Yesterday I spent a terrific Saturday afternoon hip-deep in some of the most hilarious, raunchy and funny (& fun) comics that this genre ever produced – albeit way out on the fringe of the medium.

Over the last year, my brother has begun picking up high grade copies of various underground comix and what a horde of antidisestablishmentarianism treasures these things turned out to be! You know, for all the hoopla over mainstream “event” comics, endless weekly comics variations and gimmicked-up alternate covers for aging fan boys with more money than sense; this is the kind of comic stuff that you would think would be on everybody’s “must have” list, but hey, that just leaves more for us who really know better. What was on yesterdays reading list? I thought you would never ask.

Among other x-cellent titles that the Wells brothers wasted an afternoon perusing: Big Ass Comics, Coochie Cootie's Men's Comics, Felch Cumics, The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Slow Death, Snatch, Subvert Comix, Thrilling Murder, Tuff Shit and Zap Comix.

Underground comics (or comix) are small press or self-published comic books that began appearing in the US in the late 1960s. They were closely associated with the underground press and the burgeoning hippie counterculture of the time. The largest center of the “comix” community was San Francisco, but the movement also included artists and publishers in New York, Chicago, Austin, Texas and Vancouver, Canada. Prominent artists (many of whom also acted as editors or publishers) who were associated with this movement, included Vaughn Bode, Robert Crumb, Kim Deitch, Justin Green, Rick Griffin, Jay Lynch, Dan O'Neill, Trina Robbins, Gilbert Shelton, Art Spiegelman, Robert Williams and S. Clay Wilson.

Underground comix reflected the concerns of the 1960s counterculture: experimentation with drug-altered states of mind, rejection of sexual taboos, and ridicule of the establishment. The spelling 'comix' was established to differentiate these publications from mainstream 'comics'. The notion of comic books outside the mainstream was suggested by Harvey Kurtzman when he used the headline "Comics Go Underground" on the newspaper-format cover of Mad #16 (October, 1954).

Most mainstream comics are produced by a team including a writer, a penciler, an inker, a letterer, and an editor, while underground books are typically done by a single person. As it can take very long for a single artist to produce a full-length work, many underground artists contributed shorter works to anthology comic titles. A well-known example is the comic Funny Aminals (1972), edited by Terry Zwigoff with short pieces by Crumb, Griffith, Lynch, Spiegelman and Shary Flenniken.

Underground comix were largely distributed though a network of head shops which also sold underground newspapers, psychedelic posters, and drug paraphernalia. In the mid-1970s, sales of drug paraphernalia was outlawed in many states and the distribution network for these comics (and underground newspapers) dried up. Although many of the underground artists continued to produce work, for all intents and purposes, the underground comix movement is considered to have ended by 1980, to be replaced by a rise in independent, non-Comics Code compliant publishing companies in the 1980s and the resulting increase in acceptance of adult-oriented comic books.

The most popular underground comics have been reprinted many times and can be obtained relatively easily, however many comix were produced in single, small print runs, and are now rare. Records of comix produced are less complete than those for mainstream comics. Jay Kennedy’s, The Official Underground and Newave Comix Price Guide published in 1982, is one of a few relatively complete and authoritative reference volumes on comix.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Gal" Friday is gone, but not forgotten ..... (announcement)!

So, I received a message from the fine folks at Blogger the other day advising me that I hadn't been playing fair in regards to the rules of the game. It seems that they had been contacted by the legal representatives of a fetching young lass that had been profiled on one of my weekly "Gal" Friday! features.

This bodacious young lass (or at least her legal eagles) wasn't pleased that I had posted photos of her on ye olde Catacombs blog. So, I was summarily singled out via threatening language to cease and desist. Like all good zombie drones, I have complied. Both posts which featured the curvaceous gal have already been deleted, never to be seen here in my dusty realm again. I am mulling over the likelyhood of deleting all of the "Gals", but the tears will have to stop flowing before I can bring myself to actually follow through with that sad action.

I haven't decided yet if I am pissed about this or just irritated. There are no charged fees to peruse the editorial ramblings here and besides, her sweet ass appears in many other domain locations and is easily acquired within mere seconds online with a simple image search.

A common phenomenon in the comic book industry is the doctrine of "fair use" which allows artists, both famed and otherwise, to produce convention sketches, commissions and other drawings of famous characters that are in actuality owned, trademarked and copyrighted by some corporate entity or other. You see, it's all about promotion. Unlike these rank and file illustrators who get to charge for their services, in my opinion, when I've posted photos for "Gal" Friday or on any other occasion, it was in the interests of turning my fellow genre fans onto some hottie - often with at least a tertiary connection to the world of comics - helping to promote these ladies too, in a similar manner to which they were already hawking their own "goodies".

Maybe, I'm just wrong in my stance, but the Blogger message left a bad taste in my mouth, so I've decided to kill the "Gal" Friday featurette - for the time being.

It may bounce back again down the road, in another form or whatever else strikes my fancy, but it occurs to me that I may want to read through the blogosphere requirements before proceeding with anything similar. Cindy Lauper taught us all that "girls just wanna have fun", but that was way back in the 1980's and apparently some latter day estrogen harpies do not feel the same way.

If you need a quick fix, check out yesterday's Phantom Lady piece. It's lines on paper (or up on screen), but "cheesecake" goes down the same way.

No matter how ya' slice it!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

From the Dust Bin: The Phantom Lady

Phantom Lady was originally published during the golden age by Quality Comics, however after her creators in the Eisner-Iger shop split up, the character was published over the years by a series of now-defunct comic book companies including Fox Features, Ajax-Farrell, Charlton, I.D.W./Super Comics, and the character is currently "owned" by DC Comics (despite claims that Phantom Lady is in the public domain).

As published in the late 1940s, the busty and scantily-clad Phantom Lady is a notable and controversial example of "good girl art," a style of comic art depicting voluptuous female characters in provocative situations and pin-up poses that contributed to widespread criticism of the mediums effect on children. The character's early adventures were drawn by Arthur Peddy.

Phantom Lady first appeared in Quality's Police Comics #1 (Aug, 1941), an anthology title which also included Plastic Man and the Human Bomb. That appearance established her alter ego as Sandra Knight, the beautiful Washington, D.C. debutante daughter of Senator Henry Knight. One night, Sandra stumbled upon two would-be assassins targeting her father, and stealthily thwarted them with a rolled-up newspaper. Sandra consequently developed a taste for adventure and crime-fighting, and after receiving a "black light ray projector" from a friend named Professor Davis, she adopted the device as a weapon to blind her enemies, or turn herself invisible.

She adopted the identity of Phantom Lady in a costume consisting of a green cape and the equivalent of a one-piece yellow swimsuit. Decades later DC Comics altered details of her origin by explaining her skimpy costume as a deliberate tactic to distract her predominantly male foes.Phantom Lady continued as one of the features in Police Comics through #23.

After Quality stopped publishing Phantom Lady, Iger Studios believed it owned the character and assigned it to Fox Feature Syndicate, a move that would later cause confusion as to who actually owned the character's copyright. The Fox version is better known to contemporary comic fans than the Quality version because of the "good girl art" of Matt Baker. Baker altered her costume by changing the colors to red and blue, substantially revealing her cleavage, and adding a very short skirt. Fox published Phantom Lady only through issue #26 (Apr, 1949), though the character guest starred in All-Top Comics #8-17, also with art by Baker.

Baker's cover for Phantom Lady #17 (Apr, 1949) was reproduced in Seduction of the Innocent, the 1954 book by Dr. Fredric Wertham denouncing what he saw as the morally corrupting effect of comics on children. The cover, which illustrated Phantom Lady attempting to escape from ropes, was presented by Wertham with a caption that read, "Sexual stimulation by combining 'headlights' with the sadist's dream of tying up a woman."

(Illustrations above; top by Terry Dodson, Adam Hughes and Matt Baker and above; right by Dave Stevens).

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

1970's "Avengers" Flashback: Moondragon

Moondragon was created by Bill Everett, Mike Friedrich and George Tuska. A powerful telekinetic, telepath, and martial artist, Moondragon's most notable characteristics are her shaved head, arrogance and a superiority complex. She first appeared in Iron Man #54 (January, 1973).

Heather Douglas was still a girl when her family accidentally happened to see the spaceship of Thanos land; the space villain didn't want any witnesses, so he blew up their car. Heather was thrown clear and survived, but her parents were killed. (She later discovered that her father's reanimated corpse was made into Drax the Destroyer.) She was taken by Thanos' father, Mentor, to his home world, Titan, to be raised by the monks of Shao-Lom. Heather developed her physical body to its full potential, becoming a formidable martial artist. The priests taught Heather various scientific disciplines such as chemistry and genetic engineering; but most significantly, they helped Heather tap into her latent psionic powers, present within all humans. Heather ultimately developed her mental powers far beyond even those of her teachers, so much so that she contacted a powerful entity called The Dragon of the Moon. The Dragon tried to corrupt her, but she fought back, driving the Dragon away. This victory filled her with pride, and she took the name Moondragon as a result. Unknown to Heather, the Dragon subtly continued to influence her on an unconscious level.

Her choice of the name Moondragon caused an uproar amongst the monks of Shao-Lom, to the extent that Mentor had to confront her on the matter. After the confrontation, Moondragon requested to be brought back home. Some time later, Thanos attacked his native Titan, destroying the monastery of the Shao-Lom monks. Moondragon escaped in her spaceship and fled to Earth under the guise of "Madam MacEvil" for the purpose of developing means to combat Thanos; this led to her creation of villains like Angar the Screamer, Ramrod, and the Dark Messiah. In her first appearance, she forced Iron Man to battle Namor, in order to study them. She then revealed her true identity and helped the Avengers in their first confrontation with Thanos.

She also battled Daredevil, and briefly restored Daredevil's sight using her alien pressure point skills, and then they met Captain Mar-Vell. She aided the heroes against Angar, the Dark Messiah, and Terrex. Although she had fallen in love with Daredevil, Moondragon returned to outer space where she aided Captain Mar-Vell, Drax, and the Avengers against Thanos.

Moondragon was one of the three candidates thought to be the "Celestial Madonna" who was prophesied to give birth to a universal savior, but she lost out to Mantis. She then became an adventurer, and joined the Avengers. Moondragon was also present when the Avengers confronted Korvac; her powers allowed her to see into his mind while they fought, and she decided that his goal of saving the universe by ruling it was ultimately noble; so she stayed out of the battle until Korvac committed suicide.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

1970's "Avengers" Flashback: Mantis

Mantis first appeared in Avengers #112 (June 1973). She was created by writer Steve Englehart, who has taken her (albeit in slightly different name and form) through books published by other comic book companies, moving first from Marvel to DC to Eclipse to Image and finally back to Marvel again. Mantis is the half-Vietnamese, half-German daughter of Gustav Brandt (aka Zodiac member, Libra). While in her childhood she was left at the Temple of the Priests of Pama, a splinter sect of the alien Kree. The Kree believed that she might eventually become the Celestial Madonna and ultimately mate with the eldest Cotati on Earth to become the mother of the Celestial Messiah, "the most important being in the universe."

She excelled in her martial arts studies, but when she reached adulthood, she was mind-wiped and sent out into the world to gain life experience. She became a prostitute and barmaid in a Vietnamese bar, where she met the Swordsman and helped him regain his self-respect and then followed him when the former villain reformed and joined the Avengers. She too became an Avengers ally when the Swordsman rejoined the Avengers, and she battled alongside the team as they faced such threats as the Lion God, the Star-Stalker, Thanos and Ultron.

While with the Avengers, Mantis became infatuated with the Vision, and — although she was rejected by the android — she neglected her relationship with the Swordsman. Alongside the Scarlet Witch, she was abducted by Kang the Conqueror and was soon revealed as the true Celestial Madonna, but Mantis sadly witnessed the murder of the Swordsman at the hands of Kang, and it was only then that she proclaimed her own love for the Swordsman as he died in her arms. With the Avengers present, she buried the Swordsman. Mantis soon discovered the true origins of the Kree-Skrull War, the Cotati race, and the Priests of Pama; she formally joined the Avengers and married a Cotati who was occupying the reanimated body of the Swordsman, then she left the Avengers and Earth in order to mate with him.

Monday, May 18, 2009

1970's "Avengers" Flashback: Hellcat

Patsy Walker was created by Ruth Atkinson, and made her first appeared in Miss America Magazine #2 (Nov. 1944), published by Marvel precursor Timely Comics. Patsy was originally the star of a long-running teen romance series.

Later Patsy embarked on a new career in Amazing Adventures (vol. 2) #13 (July 1973). There, she met Hank McCoy, one of the original X-Men, in his alter ego as the Beast. She had become dissatisfied with her married life to Buzz Baxter, and after she aided the injured Beast, Patsy asked for a costume in return, “something with powers, or a serum, or anything”, now wanting to become a superheroine.

Shortly afterward, the Avengers, with Beast and Walker tagging along, invaded the complex of buildings belonging to the Brand Corporation. Now a subsidiary of Roxxon, a multinational conglomerate, Brand was also where Walker's estranged husband, an Air Force colonel, was posted. There they found one of superheroine Greer Grant's spare Cat costumes. Patsy Walker immediately donned the yellow cat-suit and dubbed herself "Hellcat" in The Avengers #144 (Feb. 1976).

Sunday, May 17, 2009

"Humpty Dumpty" (Punch and Judy Comics #1;1944)

Well, you all know the story, and here is a nice, colorful representation of the the old tale taken from Hillman Periodicals kids series, Punch and Judy Comics #1 (1944).

(I guess you really can't make and omelet without breaking a few eggs.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

1970's Flashback: Kull the Destroyer

Kull of Atlantis (or Kull the Conqueror) was originally created by Robert E. Howard in 1929, Howard was also the creator of Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane, and Bran Mak Morn. The character was written as being more introspective than the subsequent Conan, whose first appearance was actually a re-write of a previously rejected Kull story.

Kull was later adapted by Marvel Comics with three Kull series published between 1971 and 1985. Kull also appeared several times in the The Savage Sword of Conan series and the character was the lead in the similar three issue black & white, magazine-sized Kull and the Barbarians. Marvels standard format Kull comic was published sporadically during its existence, and there were in fact no issues published during 1975. However the true heyday of the Kull the Conqueror series were the first ten issues which were written by Roy Thomas, Len Wein or Gerry Conway, and which were very beautifully illustrated by Marie Severin and her brother, John Severin. Ross Andru, Wally Wood and Frank Chiaramonte also contributed some artwork to these issues between January 1971 and September 1973.

Considered cancelled, Kull was later given a new lease on life as Kull the Destroyer, which continued the previous series numbering, in November 1973; the title continued until issue #29 in October 1978. Artists whose work graced the series during this period included Mike Ploog, Ernie Chan, Yong Montano, Rudy Nebres, Ed Hannigan and Alfredo Alcala.

Several characters reoccur throughout the series, of which the best known is Kull’s trusted ally Brule the Spear-slayer (a pre-cataclysmic Pict), First Councilor Tu a trusted administrator (but also a constant reminder of the tradition-bound laws and customs of Valusia), Ka-Nu, the Pictish Ambassador to Valusia and Kull's mortal enemy, the sorcerer Thulsa Doom.

Okay folks, that is the last of my original list of "1970's Flashback" subjects, so if there are any characters or concepts remaining from that decade that I haven't covered, and that anybody would like to see as a Flashback, please let me know. I will be moving on to "1980's Flashbacks" very soon, but there is still time for a few requests [hint].

Friday, May 15, 2009

"Gal" Friday! Elizabeth Mitchell

Lost has finished its superb fifth season by leaving the fates of many of the series regulars up in the air, par for the course for this top-rated and beguiling genre-bending television show.

In as large a cast as Lost has juggled it is particularly hard for any given actor to stand out, and it proves to be even tougher when most of the cast brings their "A" game on a weekly basis. Lost also has been fortunate to feature a strong assortment of female actors since its onset. I would have to say that it has been both entertaining and frustrating seeing what Ms. Mitchell's "Juliet" has gone through in the latter part of this season as her characters love life was knocked for a loop, after rival Kate returned to the island to - in her opinion - throw a monkey wrench into her relationship with bad boy, Sawyer.

Elizabeth Mitchell got the rare opportunity to likely go out on a very heroic high note, if her actions prove to have been truly fatal when Lost returns for its final season this fall. I won't spoil it for you if you Tivo'ed the finale, but needless to say poor "Juliet" pulled a nifty Charlton Heston ala Beneath the Planet of the Apes kind of denouement for her storied character (one of my favorites on the show), so here's to you Elizabeth.

What a way to go, Blondie!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Rayboy's Review: Viking #1 (Image Comics); Angel: Blood & Trenches (IDW)

First of all, I am not the guy to review something like this. I think that there may be quite a few comic readers out there who would appreciate what writer Ivan Brandon and artist Nic Klein have presented in this book.

Viking #1 tells the tale of two well, vikings, and their dog eat dog world. Illustrated in a highbrow, painterly-looking gouache style that stretches the medium in ways similar to some of the Vertigo stuff from DC Comics; Viking still manages to impress even me (who would normally stray far away from this type of offering) in a fetchingly presented format that is slightly largely than a normal sized comic, but not quite a tabloid either.

I give the overall issue a "B" due to a strong script, but despite the nice quality of the art, it's just too - -artsy-fartsy - -for my tastes.


One man band, and comic industry legend, John Byrne demonstrates yet again, that whether or not Marvel or DC want to invite him over to play with their toys; he is just not one to sit around on his laurels.

After turning out several nice Star Trek-related mini-series and one-shots for publisher IDW, Byrne is superbly back in the saddle on the four issue Angel: Blood & Trenches. Based on the Joss Whedon television series, Angel (which spun off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer), B & T takes the immortal vampire, Angel back to the days of World War I for a jaw-droppingly good page turner.

I may not be a particularly good fit to review this series either, but having no real interest in the character beyond the TV series (which I had enjoyed), I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by John Byrne's version of Angel. Reading all of the first three issues in one sitting was a real treat also. Can't wait until that last issue comes out.


These items were loaned to me by my brother David, and I was glad for the chance to check them out. Thanks, David!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Rayboy's Review: Showcase Presents Batman Team-Ups

I’ve been entertaining myself over the last couple of days reading DC Comics truly excellent Showcase Presents: The Brave and the Bold; Batman Team-Ups Vol. 2. This volume reprints original series issue #’s 88 – 108, all written by the talented scribe Bob Haney (with the exception of a single story written by Denny O’Neil), the artwork is provided courtesy of a grand mix of top talents, including Irv Novick, Ross Andru, Nick Cardy, Neal Adams and Bob Brown, before Jim Aparo begins his stellar run on what became one of his signature series.

Rereading these classic tales really is a blast from the past, and yet another reminder that at least once, comic book writers could ably spin an engaging, entertaining and thrilling read – all within the pages of a single issue. These stories don’t tie into one another add infinitum, but having the Dark Knight on hand each month, lends a degree of unstated continuity, even while treating the readers to an eclectic assortment of guest stars such as Wildcat, Green Arrow, Black Canary, the Metal Men, Deadman, Phantom Stranger and the really peculiar pair of the Bat-Squad and The House of Mystery.

I highly encourage everyone who enjoys classic comics, with topnotch writing and artwork to pick these books up and settle down some dark night to relish a fun bit of nostalgia. I could go on and on about how cool this stuff really is, but I’ve got some more reading to do. See ya’ later!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rulah Jungle Goddess in "Labyrinth of Love" (Fox Comics)

This story was originally presented in Rulah Jungle Goddess #24 (March 1949). Our jungle gal encounters an amorous shah, who has been tricked into marrying a Rulah-lookalike by an evil dwarf. along the way to clear her name, Rulah saves a precocious little girl and even has to impersonate her own impostor to get to the bottom of things. Sadly, for all of you animal lovers, there is an unfortunate incident of monkey-cide near the very end of this adventure.

Be advised, that here are panels that contain imagery that could be interpreted today as being "racist", but given the era in which this tale was first published, it is par for the course.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Profile Antics: Frank Thorne

Frank Thorne began his long comic book career drawing romance stories for Standard Comics in 1948. He later drew the King Features newspaper strip, Perry Mason, and Flash Gordon, Jungle Jim and the Green Hornet for Dell Comics, but he perhaps won his most greatest accolades on Marvel Comics Red Sonja series in the 1970's.

Now 78, Thorne has spent the better part of the last thirty years producing cartoons for Playboy magazine. Few can match the cheesecake quality of Frank Thorne these days. He has also created Danger Rangerette for National Lampoon, Ghita of Alizarr — a "sexier" sci-fi-esque version of Red Sonja, and he is the author of several books, including "Drawing Sexy Women," "The Crystal Ballroom" and "Nymph."

He was recently called upon to provide sketching duties for a recent episode of the History Channel's "MonsterQuest" about the Jersey Devil. Thorne still does lots of commission work for Red Sonja, and with film director Robert Rodriguez plans to bring the character back to theaters in an upcoming movie starring Rodriquez girlfriend, Rose McGowan of "Grindhouse" fame, Thorne's legacy is assured, Hollywood has even expressed interest in bringing his character, Ghita to the big screen under her alternate name, "The Girl in the Iron Bikini."

The photo of Frank Thorne is copyrighted by Kathy Johnson of

Friday, May 8, 2009

At the Box Office: Star Trek

Thank you Paramount. Thank you J.J. Abrams. Folks, Star Trek IS everything you’ve read about it.

I was not expecting the film to be so lyrical, for lack of a better term. The creators of this movie, from director Abrams on to several prominent members of the cast, have mentioned that they were not fans of the classic sci-fi series, but you would never know it based on how loving and respectful their new version turned out to be.

Not that this 11th Trek film is slavishly devoted to all that has come before, because this movie rewrites the Trek canon in major ways, and that IS a good thing. Believe me! No the central point of this relaunch/reboot is to establish a brand new status quo, where pretty much anything goes...if this film proves successful enough to earn sequels. If I was an executive at Paramount, given all that Trek has added to the company’s coffers, I couldn’t help but accept that box office be damned; mission accomplished.

Man, what an awesome experience watching this movie was, it is very difficult choosing a favorite from among the cast, but I will add my voice to the jaw-dropping chorus for Karl Urban’s Dr. McCoy. It is absolutely eerie, how he seems to have stepped so fully into the boots of Bones McCoy (nice to finally hear how he got that nickname). Ditto for Simon Pegg as Scotty, whose role doesn’t show up onscreen until later in the movie, but boy did he run with it when he showed up. Zoe Saldana’s Uhura is, damn, damn, damn, effective, and there is also a surprise twist with her character (one of many in this cool picture), that really works well. Anton Yelchin’s Chekov is funny and believable, too. Several secondary characters add tremendous depth with, despite being relegated to slightly more limited parts, but what they do with their screen time was amazing. Bruce Greenwood was an outstanding choice for Captain Pike and the same goes for Ben Cross as Spock’s father, Sarek. There is just too much that could be said for many more of the actors, but before I talk about Kirk and Spock, I have to say that although John Cho is good as Sulu, and he does get to do something pretty neat in the movie, out of the entire cast, Cho’s role is the most minimized.

Chris Pine is outstanding as the young James T. Kirk, and you will be hard pressed to find fault with anything that he does as the new Captain of the Enterprise. Wow, he took William Shatner’s iconic role and just ran with it. I easily bought him as the younger Kirk and that surprised me quite a bit. I doubt that anybody who saw him inthe film, Smokin’Aces, would ever have thought that this was the guy to pull off this tough follow up to a famous sci-fi hero. Well done!

From the moment that Heroes star, Zachary Quinto was announced as the new Spock, I agreed that he LOOKED the part, but he also had a tough act to follow in his iconic role and he made it his own in powerful and understated ways. The fact that both of these guys so successfully pulled this off in the same movie is coin a phrase. I very much look forward to seeing the pair back on screen as two of the most famous action buddies of all time. By now, everybody knows that Leonard Nimoy also reprises his original role of Spock, too. His appearance in the movie is also a revelation, and what becomes of his "older" Spock, took me by complete surprise. I did not expect the resolution that he received, nuff said.

To me, Eric Bana didn’t seem “over the top”, an accusation that appeared in a relative few of the early reviews that I read, but considering that his characters villainous actions led to what has happened to the Trek universe ala J.J. Abrams, the audience simply has to accept that he is the heavy – and for a good reason – with very little to go on. Lucky for me that I read the prequel graphic novel that fills in some of Nero's history. Go seek it out from publisher IDW.

The effects, the score, well gosh darn it everything about Star Trek is spot on, and this is one of those rare movies that will deserve multiple viewings. I hope that Star Trek is a huge hit, because it deserves to be.

"Gal" Friday! Budd Root's Cavewoman

* Sorry for the cover-up on this one guys, but I’m not too sure if this one would pass muster with the “big brother” crowd. Cavewoman has been a guilty pleasure of mine for quite awhile now, and her creator is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet at a convention.

Cavewoman was created by writer-artist Budd Root. Her adventures have been published primarily by Basement Comics, but there have been additional issues released by Caliber Comics and Avatar Press.

Meriem Cooper first appeared in Basement Comics' Cavewoman #1 (Dec. 1993), the first issue of a black-and-white, miniseries that ran six issues. She reappeared in the eight-issue miniseries Cavewoman: Rain (1996-1997) from Caliber Comics; then a one-shot Cavewoman Meets Explorers (1997), jointly published Basement Comics and Explorer Press; the one-shot Jungle Tales of Cavewoman (1998), released in both a standard and a “spicy”, mature-audience edition; Cavewoman: Odyssey #1, the only published issue of a planned five-issue miniseries from Caliber Comics; and other titles through at least 2001.

Currently, Meriem appears in the ongoing series Cavewoman: Pangean Sea and semi-regular mature series Prehistoric Pin-ups and Jungle Tales.

[*If I'm being a "weenie" about this whole thing - speak up - and change my mind. Maybe I'll post the "full" version!]