Signed by Stan Lee

Today, I finally received my X-Men #15 signed by Stan Lee in the mail from CGC. I will definitely do a post about how CGC works and how the process works in the later weeks.

Until then, the glory of my comic:

X-Men #15, signed by Stan Lee

And what it says on the top:

CGC Signature Series
X-Men #15, Marvel Comics, 12/65
Signed by Stan Lee on 08/27/10
Off-white to white pages.

Stan Lee story, Kirby and Ayers cover.
Dick Ayers and Werner Roth art.
Jack Kirby layouts.

1st appearance of Master Mold.
2nd appearance of the Sentinels.
Origin of the Beast.

—–

Keep on Space Truckin’!

Irvin Kershner

Kershner impacted my life in more ways than anyone realizes. My imagination, childhood and lifestyle is based entirely around what this man did for film, especially with The Empire Strikes Back – a movie which literally changed my life. May the Force be with him.

Please see Part One and Part Two of this interview with Kershner, to see what a brilliant man he was.

April 29, 1923 – November 27, 2010

Kershner

Classic Comic Fridays: Fantastic Four #45

Like every Friday, I will review a classic comic from my personal collection. For this week, I managed to find a decent-quality copy of a comic at my local comic store. I absolutely loved the story and art, so I figured that I should review it.

Fantastic Four #45

The comic, if you haven’t read the title already, is Fantastic Four #45 from December of 1965. It’s a classic, and one which was the first appearance of the Inhumans! Yes, Black Bolt, Crystal, Lockjaw, Triton and Karnak all get their first appearance in this early issue of F4. And you better believe that Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were the two on the helm for writing and penciling credits, while Joe Sinnott was on-board for inking. Needless to say, this is a classic comic done by the legendary comic artists which we all revere today, and I’m absolutely excited to have read it and to be reviewing it now.

Titled, “Among Us Hide the Inhumans,” the book opens up with the F4 minus Sue, trapped under rubble. After a battle with Dragon Man, the three were defeated, and Dragon Man kidnapped Sue. Johnny goes after her and confronts Dragon Man. Sue realizes that Dragon Man has child-like mind and tries to get Johnny to stop his attack. However, Johnny uses his Nova Flame power, and knocks out Dragon Man, saving Sue.

After defeat, Sue tames Dragon Man, working with his child-like mind and convincing him that the F4 were just scared and would not actually hurt him. Convinced, the three, Johnny, Sue and Dragon Man, return back to the Baxter Building to meet Reed and Grimm. They all decide to keep Dragon Man in the building for the time being, so they make him a room.

Johnny takes a break and calls his girlfriend, Dorrie Evans. Because of Johnny always putting her second for the Fantastic Four team, she says she already has another date that night and cannot go out. Upset, Johnny goes for a walk and finds some red-haired woman hunkered in an alley. Perturbed by her, Johnny walks in to see what she is doing when all of a sudden a huge gust of wind lifts him up in the air. By the time he drops down, she is gone.

Johnny returns to the Baxter Building to see that the rest of the team are having a tough time trying to get Dragon Man to sleep. Sue ends up sedating him, while Ben reflects hard on himself on how he is a monster, too. Poor Ben.

Air-Jet Cycle

Johnny decides to go back out and hunt for the red-haired woman – which he finds with ease (somehow). However, she tries to escape, stating he wouldn’t understand her world. Johnny then turns on his powers, prompting the woman to realize she may not be alone. Lockjaw appears behind Johnny, somewhat startling him, and takes both him, and the now revealed woman to an underground base under Manhattan.

The woman reveals herself as Crystal, and introduced Johnny to Karnak, followed by Triton and Crystal’s sister, Medusa. Johnny, scared, knowing Medusa was part of the Frightful Four (and meeting in an earlier F4 comic), and Karnak accusing Johnny of tricking Crystal, Johnny panics and escapes, creating a “4” signal in flames in the sky.

The rest of the team join up with Johnny – arriving by the F4’s Air-Jet Cycle (being its first appearance) – and they are attacked by Karnak from behind. Ready to fight, the book ends with Black Bolt literally crashing down onto the scene.

There is definitely a lot going on in this one comic, yet it does not feel rushed. Actually, by the end of the book, I was asking myself, “it’s over already?” Lee’s great dialogue and character development creates a world on its own. Tied in with Kirby’s brilliant art and Sinnott’s inks, the book to me felt ahead of its time. Of course, that was arguably put Marvel ahead of most comic companies. Rich character development mixed with brilliant art.

Black Bolt's First Appearance

The cover of the issue, also done by Kirby and Sinnott, even seems menacing looking. There’s great dread right on the cover. I love Sinnott’s ink on the F4 directly. The Thing’s body is greatly drawn with shading accenting his body. I love it.

Another great thing about this comic – which is outside of the story – is the M.M.M.S., the Merry Marvel Marching Society which Stan Lee invented for Marvel fans. Gone are the times where fans would have pages dedicated to letters, and a box-out for newer members – one even from my home province of Ontario.

Of course, Stan’s Soapbox was placed in the comic as well. In it, he made a prediction too. He said that he knew the Inhumans would take off with a life of their own. He was excited to give the readers their backstories, and was thrilled to continue writing with them.

All-in-all, the book itself was brilliant. Albeit, one moment in the dialogue, Reed snaps at Sue and says to “stop sounding like a wife,” which to me was a shock to see in comics back then. But I mean, that’s how these characters are to develop!

Grade: 10/10

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

What a Wednesday!

This week was an extraordinary week for comics. Especially for me, given most of them were X-related titles.

X-Force, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men Legacy, New Mutants, and Chaos War: Alpha Flight were all on the docket for comics this week. One really screwed up with consistencies in the story, while the other one really disappointed me with art direction.

Unfortunately, they are the two major X-titles: Uncanny and Legacy.

X-Force #2

But first, let me say that X-Force has the best art and nostalgia for any comic I’ve read in a while. There was a particular scene with Archangel and Wolverine going through a secret base of Warren’s. The base is considered the hideout for X-Force, but also a back-up base in case Utopia was ever to fall.
The insides are what counts. Great halls show old pictures of the various X-teams over the decades, plus a room with old costumes, such as Havok’s 60’s-80’s attire, Sunfire’s original helmet, and enemies as statues, such as an eerily stuffed Brood warrior. Essentially, Warren built an X-Museum. It looks glorious. Art with Jerome Opena – win!

But on to the reviews. Both stories were not too bad, it is that I am at my breaking point for comic art and the various cross-over issues. Uncanny X-Men #530 was a comic book with porno. Greg Land’s art is by far, getting to be too much. He is a great artist, and I respect that. However, he has no respect for the characters as it is clearly official that every X-character can produce an O-face at will. The book was physically demeaning to practically every female X-character, while Cyclops and Angel look like they’re ripped out of a cover for a romance novel.

Legacy failed with consistency in story for me. Firstly, did Mr. Mike Carey not get the memo that Magneto has left Utopia? I understand that the previous plot had Magneto in it, and I gave it some grace in terms of letting it catch up with the rest of the stories. But now we’ve started anew again, and Magento’s still here. Then the same day when I pick up Uncanny, Anole is suffering with a massive disease and the flu, yet in Legacy, he’s playing baseball. Doesn’t Colossus want to know where Kitty is? I mean, in Uncanny, she’s off with Frost – but then again, there’s also a flu outbreak. It really cannot connect well, and it’s becoming frustrating.

I, of course, have not even decided to discuss the Generation Hope/X-Men/Vampire storyline at all because I’d be in a real mess then.

Uncanny X-Men #530

Uncanny X-Men #530

But for storyline in each – individually, they do some things very well. Uncanny’s run with Fraction, I believe, needs a breath of fresh air. I know Kieron Gillen is joining the bandwagon, so let’s hope we get some boot-up there. Uncanny’s story with the Sublime Corp creating the original X-Men lineup with test subjects seems very interesting to me. I mean, sure, it could easily be Mimic again, but mixing a “new” mutant team with the X-Men stranded on Utopia definitely leaves a great opening for new possibilities. On top of that, only a few mutants are left outside of Utopia – refused back in due to the sudden pandemic which is affected a lot of mutants. Even Wolverine somehow has caught it.

The X-Men outside of Utopia consist of Angel, Dazzler, Storm, Pixie and a few others – making it a different team with characters who have not necessarily been explored in a long-while. As for figuring out what the Sublime X-team will do to the outsider X-Men – it’ll be an interesting plot.

Unfortunately for Land’s art, I found it detracted a lot of the story. Most particular in the first few pages with Emma completely posing like she is in Playboy, with random angles from behind of just her butt. I find the art great, but also unacceptable. For shame, Land.

Grade: 5/10

X-Men Legacy #242

Here, Mike Carey shows the readers what the X-Men can do to help San Fransisco post-Second Coming. The city is damaged, so Cyclops sends the X-Men to help. Of all mutants, Random is included (which in itself is random). It’ll be interesting to see what he will play in the upcoming arc. Included are also Rogue, Danger, Magneto, Colossus, Psylocke, and the others listed below.

X-Men Legacy #242

In the story Hellion has new hands, and went with the group to help rebuild. However, he is upset with Hope as he feels like he lost his hands for nothing. I find his pain completely understandable, while also feeling his frustration. Yes, Carey has made me feel for Hellion. We’ll see how far that goes.

Another body to help was Omega Sentinel/Karima Shapandar – who is mainly the plot point of the story. Without ruining too much, just remember she was turned into a Omega Sentinel by Bastion during Operation: Zero Tolerance. Also keep in mind that Bastion was the reason for Second Coming and tried to kill Hope Summers.

Oh, and Hope Summers went along to help the city, too.

Epic.

As for art, Paul Davidson both penciled and inked the story, which I always find commendable for any artist to do. No longer are Rogue’s breasts a focal point in Legacy, and the art has been toned-down to normal levels. I do have some complaints with faces, as Hope seems to be a different girl in almost every panel. The final page shows Karima in action with zero expression. Whether intentional or not, I found it dry.

However, I love it when comics try and tackle issues which are usually ignored after a massive battle. And also one that isn’t Damage Control. Add in a BRILLIANT cover by Leinil Yu, and you’re set for a new arc.

Grade: 7/10

Also, check out at Weekly Comic Book Review, Roman Colombo’s reviews of the Messiah series, or what he would like to call, “Messianic X Cycle.” (Just go with it). The reviews are greatly in-depth, and I share a lot of the same views with him. So go over and check them out:
Messiah CompleX, Messiah War, and Second Coming.

Until next time, keep on Space Truckin’!

Try Before You Buy

Hey folks!

Yesterday, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, I was off to Toronto for the ComicCon held at the Convention Center.

Needless to say, I had a great time and fun was presumably had by all.

Numerous vendors set up with fantastic deals for comics of all-sorts. Not to mention, artists such as Jamal Igle from Supergirl, and Alex Milne from Transformers were there. Although I never did introduce myself to them, it was awfully neat to see them sketch out various characters throughout the day. A lot of artists were also offering commissions. However, I opted out.

Xmen66

It was held in a fairly decent-sized room – enough for about three-hundred people to fit in some-what comfortably. I picked up around eighty back-issues, plus some nice rarities, such as She-Hulk #1, and X-Men #66 (the final issue of the series).

But that will bring me to why I titled this blog “lesson learned.”
Without mentioning any names, when I found X-Men #66, it literally was in great condition. The price was a bit steep, but I mean, it was really in great shape. It was in its plastic, boarded, and had stickers on the plastic on the top right. Three stickers were there, going down vertically. One said “Sal Buscema art,” the other, “Last Issue in Series,” and the final one with the price.

Given the quality of the comic and the price (which was pretty much on par with its quality), I decided to purchase it. I went up to the dealer and he told me, “I just got this book recently. It’s a great book (as I’m sure all the dealers say) and I’ll give it to you for a good price.” Needless to say, he gave me the book for half of what the sticker price was. I figured it was a great deal. So I enjoyed the rest of the con.

Getting home, I of course, peeled off the stickers on the plastic. Unbeknown to me though, was that they were covering some “irregularities” on the cover. The top right cover of the book was torn and taped back together by scotch tape. Although it wasn’t too noticeable, it would explain the discount I was given.

Admittedly, had I of known about the damage, I would have still purchased the book. Also, the dealer clearly knew of the problem, and saved himself grief later on by giving me a discount.

What the lesson I learned was is check comics before you buy!

I usually do, however, I have no excuse for this one. I was also lucky to get a “deal” with it – while others may not be so fortunate. So I came up with a few guidelines which others, including myself, should follow.

– Do not hesitate to open up the comic package and look over.

– If you’re nervous about damaging the comic yourself, go ahead and ask the dealer if you can. I’ve been to enough conventions to know that they will be more-than-happy to show you the comic, plus talk about the history of the book.

– Check price guides! A website I have linked on my blog to the right here, Comics Price Guide, is a great source of prices for comics. That is to say, print off a list of what you want, and when you see it, judge the quality for the price. I know I paid the right price for my “damaged” issue of X-Men #66, so I am not too upset about the problem. Regardless, I had a price guide with me to know when a comic was too over-priced.

– Do not just look at one dealer. Often times, you can find the same book of equal or even better quality – cheaper – than where you first saw it. Scour the con grounds first, then buy!

So until then folks, keep on Space Truckin’!

Fall Toronto ComicCon!

Just an fyi, I will be in Toronto this Sunday for the Fall Toronto ComicCon.

There will be TONS of guests there, such as Alex Milne from Transformers (IDW), Jamal Igle from Supergirl (DC), Alvin Lee from Birds of Prey (DC), Ken Steacy, Jim Zubkavich from Skullkickers (Image), and many, many others!

Just to note, Francis Manapul has canceled his appearance (just in case you were using me for your sole source of information).

ComicCon

I’m very excited for this so expect a little update from me next week about the lovely little event held in Toronto.