wow, just wow.
wow, just wow.
The comic book world lost a true legend yesterday when Stan Lee died at the age of 95. Lee was a writer, editor, and publisher of Marvel Comics, and he began in the business in 1939 and went on to create or co-create characters like Spider-Man, Black Panther, the X-Men, Thor, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, Daredevil, the Silver Surfer, Doctor Strange and countless more.
My first memory of Stan Lee is from the early 1980’s when he narrated episodes of the animated series “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.” I was pretty young at the time, maybe five or six years old, so I didn’t really understand who Stan Lee was. As far as I knew, he was just some random narrator for the show. Little did I know he created most of the characters that I was watching on Saturday mornings.
This went on for another few years until I began collecting comics. My first few comics just happened to be Spider-Man books, and back then all Marvel Comics began with a little blurb about that book’s particular character and finished with the words “Stan Lee Presents.” It was thanks to these little intros and the regular “Stan’s Soapbox” column that I began to understand the magnitude of Stan Lee’s contributions to comics.
I think one of my favorite things about Stan Lee was how much he loved comics and wanted everyone to read a comic. To me, it always seemed like he was trying to say “The movies are great, but check out the comics too.” That makes complete sense to me, and introducing new people to the world of comics is not a bad idea at all.
A few years ago I was lucky enough to be at a convention where Stan Lee was one of the guests of honor. Although I wasn’t able to meet Stan, I was fortunate to be in the same room with him. The pop the crowd gave him when he took the stage is unlike anything I’ve ever seen or heard before. And I’ve been to football and baseball games, to Wrestlemania, even to the Rolling Stones, and those crows can’t compare to the ovation Stan Lee got that day.
I turned 40 earlier this year and for 30 of those years, I’ve been reading comics with characters created by Stan Lee. His creations taught me right from wrong and about accepting others. Stan’s heroes also kept me going during the loneliest time of my life. There is nothing I can say to Stan Lee other than thank you for the countless hours of entertainment your characters have given me.
Rest in Peace Stan.
Way back in 1992, I spent a good chunk of my summer on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Most days were spent at the beach with my family.
But during one rainy day, the family decided to drive around the island and see what else PEI has to offer. We ended up stopping after lunch when we noticed an old mall.
I say old mall, because this clearly used to be the main mall in the area until the fancier mall was built a few years back. Most of the big name stores were gone, and in their place were locally owned businesses.
I guess you could even say this old mall was more of a flea market, but much cleaner. And to be fair, this place had a lot of cool stuff I would never find at a flea market in the States. Anyways, one of the stores that caught my eye was a used book store that appeared to be a former Hallmark store, or something like that. I say that because all the fixtures were still there, only they now contained a sea of mass market books.
Along the side and backwall of the store, they had all kinds of hardcover books, and interestingly enough, a wide selection of movie scripts (a story for another day). Then I turned the corner, and I saw paradise: an entire isle of comic books.
What made this section even bettwe was the fact that everything I saw was pre 1990. And boy, did I find some hidden gems here. The first comic book I grabbed was Iron Man #174 from 1983. The issue was written by Denny O’Neil, with pencils by Luke McDonnell, and inks by Sam DeLaRosa. In it, Rhodey must keep the extra Iron Man armors out of Stane’s clutches, while Stane faces a mass exodus of employees loyal to Stark.
This wasn’t my first Iron Man book, so I was shocked when I saw Tony Stark was not wearing the armor anymore. His best friend was now Iron Man, and Tony stark had lost his company, his home, and his battle with the bottle. This was a lot of information to take in, but Denny O’Neil did a great job of bringing me up to speed. While reading Iron Man #174, I never felt lost or confused, O’Neil’s story was packed with so much info, that it was as if I’d been reading his run all along.
The art by Luke McDonnell was also key in telling the story. One of my favorite scenes in Iron Man #174 sees a Stark employee walk into Stane’s office, look at him, and simply say “I quit.” The whole scene is told in just four panels and with almost no words.
But this one scene told me everything I needed to know about how Stark’s employees felt about Stane. It’s terrific story telling by McDonnell. and I particularly enjoyed the way he drew the various Iron Man armors. Each looked distinct, yet familiar.
I enjoyed Iron Man #174 so much, that a couple of days later I asked my family if we could go back to the same mall. I wanted to see if there were any other Iron Man issues by O’Neil and McDonnell. Sadly, I only found issue #176.
But I didn’t give up, and over the next couple of years I put together a set of Iron Man #160-200. Shockingly, most came from cheap bins at conventions. But somehow this fit, because Iron Man #174 had only cost me about a dime.
TONY STARK: IRON MAN #1
Written by: Dan Slott
Art by: Valerio Schiti, Edgar Delgado, Joe Caramagna
Edited by: Alanna Smith, Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics
TAKE FLIGHT WITH DAN SLOTT & VALERIO SCHITI! From the cusp of tomorrow’s dreams to the forefront of imagination, one man always soars on the cutting edge of adventure! You know his name. Tony Stark is Iron Man. And Iron Man…is an idea. Always changing. Always evolving. An idea without limit!
Take wing with DAN SLOTT (AMAZING SPIDER-MAN) and VALERIO SCHITI (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY) as they propel the ultimate Self-Made Hero to new heights of inventiveness! Tony Stark is Iron Man. The future is now. Strap in!
Tony Stark is back in the Iron Man suit, and he’s starring in a new title written by Dan Slott, and drawn by Valerio Schiti. I decided to give this book a try mostly out of curiosity. It certainly wasn’t because of Dan Slott, he’s hit or miss with me. But I do enjoy Valetio Schiti’s art quite a bit, so that was a plus. So how was Tony Stark: Iron Man #1?
Pretty sensational actually.
Dan Slott’s take on Tony Stark owes a lot to the way Robert Downey, Jr. plays Stark in the movies, that isn’t abything new I suppose. But I think Slott is the only writer to actually nail this version of Tony Stark in comics. Every time he showed up in issue #1, I kept seeing Downey Jr. delivering the lines, and landing with the jokes.
I also liked how Slott introduced a new supporting cast for Tony. There’s familiar faces like, James Rhodes, Jocasta, and Bethany Cabe, but we also meet newcomer Andy Bhang. He’s an old friend of Tony Stark’s from his college days, and the flashback scenes in this issue were pretty cool. Dan Slott even sets up the new team in a spanking new corporate headquarters in New York.
Somehow, Dan Slott achieved all that in one single issue. That’s a rare thing these days. I mean, had Brian Michael Bendis tried doing the same thing as Slott, it would have taken Bendis at least seven issues, if not more.
Meanwhile, Valerio Schiti’s work is freaking brilliant! Whether he’s drawing a college robotics tournament, or a three-panel page of Fin Fang Foom, Schiti always delivers the goods. His facial expressions were dead on too, especially when Andy Bhang realizes he’s been dealing with a Tony Stark hologram and not the man himself. The art throughout Tony Stark: Iron Man #1 is top-to-bottom incredible, as is the inking and color work.
At the end of the day, Tony Stark: Iron Man #1 had everything that’s been missing from an Iron Man comic for over a decade: humor, action, a clear direction, a great supporting cast, and an unexpected twist. And if that wasn’t enough, this comic even has a giant freaking Iron Man battling Fin Fang Foom. By the way, is it me, or does the giant Iron Man look a lot like Voltron?
Tony Stark: Iron Man #1 score: A
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Ed McGuinness, David Curiel, Mark Morales and Cory Petit
Edited by: Alanna Smith, Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics
Thor Odinson. Steve Rogers. Tony Stark. The Big Three of the Avengers are reunited at last! And just in time to save the world from total annihilation at the hands of their most powerful enemies yet: the 2000-foot-tall space gods known as Celestials.
Behold the coming of the Final Host. Who will answer the call to assemble for a wild new era of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes? Hint: one of them has a flaming skull for a head. And what strange, world-shaking connection exists between the Final Host and Odin’s ancient band of Prehistoric Avengers? less
With Avengers #1, Marvel kicks off their “Fresh Start” initiative. Or as I like to call it, Marvel’s umpteenth relaunch since 2012. Has the House of Ideas finally found a winning formula? Is this the relaunch that will stick? How long can Ed McGuinness maintain a bi-weekly schedule? And more importantly, will the new Avengers title make past issue #30?
Your guess is as good as mine.
All I know for sure is that I really enjoyed Avengers #1. Writer Jason Aaron has a great handle on these characters, particularly Thor, Captain America, and Iron Man. The pages where the three characters reunite over drinks is Marvel at its best. From Cap drinking a Shiley Temple, to Thor out drinking them all, and Tony threatening to leave Cap with Thor’s bar tab, this is exactly what Marvel needs more of!
Jason Aaron goes for a get back to basics approach, and it works. This team comes together organically, it’s not forced on us like countless other Avengers teams have been in the past. Furthermore, Aaron manages to bring readers up on what the main character have been up to over the last couple of years, but without bogging down the main plot.
Meanwhile, the art by Ed McGuinness is spot on. I’ve enjoyed his stuff since I met him at New England comics over 20 years ago when he drew Vampirella. His style never gets old, and I love what he does in this issue with the facial expressions of Tony Stark, and Carol Danvers. I know drawing 18 issues a year is a tall task for any artist, but I hope McGuinness is one of the rotating artists for the first couple of years.
My only complaint about Avengers #1 is that She-Hulk doesn’t get anything to do. Every character is front and center, but for some reason She-Hulk only gets a page to herself. It’s a minor complaint, but seeing how the rest of the team got several pages, ol’ She-Hulkie deserved a little more of the spotlight.
All in all, Avengers #1 was indeed a fresh start, and a highly enjoyable one. The team of Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness is phenomenal, and I hope they have a long run on the title. The only question now is, will Marvel have the balls to stick with this restart?
Avengers #1 score: A-
The biggest opening weekend ever, holy moley that is impressive! Ten years later, and what, nineteen movies now? Marvel is still printing money with every movie they make.
But now that most of the world has seen the monster hit known as “Avengers: Infinity War,” it’s time to look back at the comic books that inspired the latest Marvel Cinematic entry. As usual with this posts, I’m going to be taking a look at a few underrated comic stories starring some of the characters seen in Infinity War.
Before we get to my list, a quick reminder: just like my previous underrated comics posts, this Infinity War comic list features a few stories you may have missed when they first came out. But if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t worry.
These comics are by no means necessary to enjoy “Avengers: Infinity War” in theaters. I should also mention this list is not in any particular order. These are just good comic stories you might enjoy before or after seeing the movie. And away we go:
Avengers #329 (February, 1991)
Ever wanted to see how the Avengers select a new roster? Then you must check out 1991’s Avengers #329.
“Starting Line-up!” was written by Larry Hama, with art by Paul Ryan, and Inks by Tom Palmer. In the story, Earth’s Mightiest Heroes hold a meeting at their headquarters to finally decide on their new roster. After a lot of debate, the new team consists of: Captain America, Quasar, Sersi, She-Hulk, the Black Widow, Thor, and the Vision.
I bought Avengers #329 off the shelf at the New England Comic in Quincy Ma. Although I’d been reading comics for 3-4 years by then, I hadn’t read an Avengers book yet. But there was just something about the cover to #329 that called out to me.
I knew who Captain America was of course, and a few of the other heroes pictured behind him. But some of them where unknown, so I gave the issue a shot, and I’m glad I did.
Easily my favorite moment in Avengers #329 is watching Spider-Man playing pranks of a sleeping Hercules. It’s a silly moment, but oh so funny. And at the end of the day I got to see how the Avengers chose rosters, and what the heroes were like on a rare down time.
Iron Man #26 (March, 2001)
With Iron Man #26, Joe Quesada took over the writing chores with one of the most uniqe Iron Man stories I had rad until then. The art for this issue was handled by Sean Chen and Rob Hunter. Chen was a fantastic artist for Shell head, and he deserves more credit than he gets.
in “THE MASK IN THE IRON MAN” playboy Tony Stark has it all: Unlimited wealth, beautiful women and brilliance beyond compare. Things seem perfect… but are they? Sometimes, the one closest to you can become your deadliest enemy! I could tell you more about this innovative story, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
Warlock and the Infinity Watch #8 (September, 1992)
This issue of Warlock and the Infinity Watch takes place during the Infinity War Crossover. While I’m usually not a big fan of tie-in issues, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #8 actually fits in nicely with the main story in The infinity War mini-series.
“Interlude” was written by Jim Starlin, with art by Tom Raney and Keith Williams. In the issue, The Infinity Watch and Thanos marshal their strength for the final confrontation with the Magus, Adam Warlock’s evil counterpart. Meanwhile, Thanos gets re-acquainted with the Watch and finds that he is not so well liked, especially by Gamora.
The big draw in this issue for me was the art of Tom Raney. He draws a great Thanos that towers over the rest of the Infinity Watch, and his version of Gamora is still my favorite. And if you want to see Raney draw a ton of Marvel heroes, check out the splash page that ends the issue.
Spider-Man #17 (December, 1991)
Want to see Spider-Man get his ass kicked by Thanos?
Here is your chance!
Spider-Man #17 featured the story “No One gets Outta Here Alive!” The issue was written by Ann Nocenti, with art and cover by Rick Leonardi and Al Williamson. In this issue Spider-Man attempts to save the life of a little girl, but he gets killed in the process. Now, in an ominous journey through the afterworld, Spider-Man comes face-to-face with the Mad Titan himself, Thanos, and his dark mistress, Death!
Even though this issue is more “What If” than anything else, it’s still a lot of fun. Plus you really can’t go wrong with anything drawn by Rick Leonardi.
Journey into Mystery #517 (February, 1998)
Years before she became an A-lister, Black Widow rarely got solo adventures. I think by 1998 she’d had a couple of specials, but more the most part she only showed up in other heroe’s books. Then came the day I saw a copy of Journey into Mystery #517 on the comic rack at my local Shaw’s. Ever since, I’ve been a huge fan of Natasha.
This issue was Written by Scott Lobdell, with art and Cover by Randy Green & Rick Ketcham. In it, Lottie relates the story of her involvement with Ebon Flame to Agent Carter. How exactly Black Widow comes into play, you need to read this isseue to find out. And for what it’s worth, Randy Green did an awesome job on the art.
Possible spoilers ahead!!
Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the rest of the Avengers unite to battle their most powerful enemy yet — the evil Thanos (Josh Brolin). The Mad Titan is on a mission to collect all six Infinity Stones that make up the Infinity Gauntlet. When he gains all the stone, Thanos will be able to achieve his dream of wiping out half the population of the universe in order to preserve its precious resources and restore “balance.”
The only thing standing in his way are the Avengers: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), War Machine (Don Cheadle), the Vision (Paul Bettany), the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), and the Falcon (Anthony Mackie).
However, earth’s mightiest heroes may not enough to stop the evil of Thanos and his Black Order. Joining the action are Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Spider-Man (Tom Holland), White Wolf (Sebastian Stan), all the characters from “Black Panther” and “Guardians of the Galaxy” join the cosmic struggle against the greatest threat the Marvel Cinematic Universe has ever seen.
Since I saw “Avengers: Infinity War” this past Friday, I have tried writing this review five or six times. But I threw them all away because the truth is, it’s almost impossible to do write a review without giving something away. One of the reasons for this problem is because Infinity War never lets up. Something happens in this movie from the moment it starts all the way to the post credit scene.
However, that’s also one of the things that I liked best about “Avengers: Infinity War.” This movie was a non-stop thrill ride. This movie is clearly inspired more by the Infinity Gauntlet saga, and several scenes in the movie were straight out of the 1991 Jim Starlin, George Perez, Ron Lim mini series. A few things are different of course, mostly due to Marvel not having the rights to some characters. But the changes worked well I thought.
“Avengers: Infinity War” was also a roller coaster of emotions for me. This is the part where I must mention that Infinity War is the first comic book movie that made me shed a tear. I won’t say why, or which scene caused me to tear up. But let’s just say I wasn’t the only one in the theater who reacted like this. I guess if this movie doesn’t make you feel something, then you’re dead inside.
One of the few complaints I’ve heard about Infinity War is that several characters don’t get much screen time and/or dialogue. The way I see it though, the task of balancing so many characters, in addition to developing Thanos for non comic book readers was a daunting one. But the Russo brothers and the screen writers did an amazing job making Thanos a credible threat and a fully fledged out character. Hell, he’s even a sympathetic at points.
The only problem I had with Infinity War was the constant use of title cards. The film jumps around between different storylines involving different groupings of characters in different locations. whenever the film went to a new place, a giant tile card greeted us. Thing is, we already knew where these characters were headed because of the dialogue in previous scenes, so the title cards were unnecessary.
Further more, some of the shifts in location and tone were jarring at times. At one point we go from what is meant to be a particularly poignant and emotional scene, but it’s soon followed by a change of scenery and a joke. Then again, with so many things going on, and dozens of characters to deal with, this is a minor complaint on my part.
With that said, there is still plenty to enjoy about “Avengers: Infinity War.” This movie is easily in my top 3 favorite Marvel movies. The action never stops and its awesome from start to finish. The stakes were also higher than ever before, and the emotions this film puts you through, were all worth the price of admission.
A tip of the hat to Marvel, the Russo brothers, and the entire cast of “Avengers: Infinity War.” Thank you for making one of the most incredible comic book movies I’ve ever seen.
“Avengers: Infinity War” score: A