Friday, October 30, 2015

1980's Flashback: Warp

I'm going to close out this months outer space theme with another oddity that sort of blends into Halloween in a minor way [*see below].

Warp #1 (Mar.1983)
“Warp!” was originally a science-fiction play created at Chicago in 1971 co-authored by *Stuart Gordon. Gordon later became a film director, writer and producer of popular genre fare such as Re-Animator, From Beyond, Castle Freak, and Dagon, as well as acclaimed episodes from Showtime’s Masters of Horror anthology series. His science fiction films: Robot Jox (1990), and Fortress (1992) have both become cult classics and he co-created Honey, I Shrunk the Kids for Disney Studios.

First Comics published a comic-book version of Warp, which ran 19 issues between March 1983 and February 1985. While other creators eventually worked on the title, the trippiest stuff features in the first nine issues illustrated by Frank Brunner.  David Carson, an everyday bank teller, learns that he is Lord Cumulus, "avenger of the universe". Suddenly transported from an annual employee-awards dinner to the mystical realm Fen-Ra, he finds himself battling for the destiny of the universe against antagonist Prince Chaos. In this world, he encounters the sage Lugulbanda who sends him on his quest aided by the leather-clad Amazon warrior Sargon. They battle Valaria the insect sorceress and Chaos' henchman, the purple ape Symax.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

1980's Flashback: Nexus

Introduced in 1981, Nexus is a combination of the superhero and science fiction genres, set 500 years in the future. The series created by writer Mike Baron and artist Steve Rude has been published by Capital Comics, First Comics, Dark Horse Comics and Rude Dude publications.

Nexus #25 (Oct.1986)
Calling himself Nexus, Horatio Hellpop received vast powers from an alien entity called the Merk to seek out and kill a certain quantity of human mass murderers per "cycle". When a target has been selected, Nexus experiences strong headaches and maddeningly anguishing dreams (whose extremely intense episodes caused physical injuries to Hellpop's body that emulated the dream violence) of his target's victims until he did his duty. Horatio was reluctant to act as the Merk's enforcement tool, but continued seeking out mass murderers to maintain his power and his sanity so that he could defend his homeworld, the lunar refuge of Ylum (a shortening of the word "asylum," thus pronounced "eye-lum"). As Horatio grew up, the Merk first influenced him through apparently imaginary friends named Alph and Beta. However, when Horatio's mother died (becoming lost in the tunnels of the planet), Horatio blamed them for her death and killed them in the first use of his power. Shortly afterward, Horatio began to dream about his father's crimes, causing himself inescapable torment. In this agony, Alph and Beta mysteriously appeared to reveal the duties of Nexus necessary to end the ordeal: the execution of his own father. With considerable personal agony (and unaware that his father was already on the verge of suicide), Horatio carried out the execution.

Monday, October 26, 2015

"All-New, All-Different?"

Marvel Comics is currently utilizing the above header in their latest attempt to force their intellectual properties into something that an aging fanboy (and willing sychophants) will accept for another quarter of a year before they shift things around yet again.

Of course that wording was originally used back in the late bronze age for the classic revamp of the popular Uncanny X-Men by Len Wein, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, John Byrne and many other talented creators. I miss those guys, both the creators and the recognizable team members. At this point, I would be more than willing to sacrifice everything that came later just to get this line-up [pictured, with art by Alex Ross] back in the saddle!!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Asheville Comic Expo (October 24, 2015)

I spent a nice day in Asheville, North Carolina yesterday scoping out the tattoo shops for the best price on a combined design of two images that I'm finally committing to soon, and since the Asheville Comic Expo event was underway; I decided to check that out while I was in town. Among the guests of this small venue one day affair were the legendary artists Mike Grell and Steve "The Dude" Rude. I had seen each man before, but it had been a while, so I picked up a few signatures on a couple of items and also treated myself to a small stack of bronze age gems (and trust me the photos do them no justice; I pinched these images off of the Grand Comics Database). My own hastily acquired copies of Fantastic Four #118, 125 & 128 are spiffy near mint marvels with crisp white pages and the Skull the Slayer #1 looks brand new. The pair of Warlock [7 &8] issues are equally awesome! Thanks to Dave Shankle, who always manages to cut a me sweet deal on things that I horde. I also ate way to much at Early Girl Eatery and Farm Burger, plus drank copious amounts of Turkish tea at Dobra Tea with my daughter, since it's one of her favorite places in town. I much preferred the double-decker coffee bus that we hit while waiting on our brunch reservation at the former restaurant (but all the food joints were great)!

Friday, October 23, 2015

In Memorium: Murphy Anderson

The legendary Murphy Anderson (and native North Carolina resident) has passed away at the age of 89, although few details have been made available. Mr. Anderson had declined appearances due to failing health for some time now. His impact on the world of comics can not be understated. As part of the classic "Swanderson" art team alongside the late Curt Swan, Superman soared to lofty heights in the minds of many old school fans. His lengthy list of credits include: Action Comics; The Atom and Hawkman; The Brave and the Bold; The Flash; Girls' Love Stories, Green Lantern; House of Secrets; Korak; My Greatest Adventure; The Spectre, Strange Adventures, The Witching Hour;  and World's Finest Comics. His career stretched from the golden age into the rise of the comic book specialty shops in the 1980s. Everyone who had the chance to meet him knew that he was a true Southern Gentleman and one of the best representatives of the industry who every walked a convention hall. He was one of the first artists that I ever met, and I am damned glad to have had an opportunity to thank him for thrilling me with his wonderful artwork during my childhood. I still rate his efforts as some of the best visuals in the business, either solo or as part of several classic art teams. The Catacombs extends its sincerest condolences to his family, friends and fans. They just don't make them like Murphy Anderson anymore!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

1970's Flashback: Planet of the Apes

At the height of its cinematic popularity, Marvel Comics released a number of titles and series based upon Planet of the Apes (the longest lasting published under their black & white Curtis Magazines format), which ran for twenty-nine issues from 1974 to 1977. Besides adaptations of all five original films, the magazine featured original Apes stories written by Doug Moench and Gerry Conway and artwork from Mike Esposito, Mike Ploog, George Tuska, and many others. Articles about the making of the five movies and the short-lived spin-off Planet of the Apes television series were a mainstay.

During 1975, Marvel also released “Adventures on the Planet of the Apes” which offered fully colorized versions of their adaptations of the first two films in five or six issue arcs running for a total of 11 issues. The stories from the U.S. editions were also edited and released under the Marvel UK banner for a weekly title lasting 123 issues from 1974 to 1977.
Planet of the Apes #1 (Aug.1974)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

1970's Flashback: The Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (Jan. 1969)
The original Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (Jan. 1969), written by Arnold Drake and penciled by Gene Colan.  Despite that standalone tale, most of the published adventures that set them on the path to later cinematic glory were released in the bronze age in such series as Marvel Two-In-One #4–5 (July–Sept. 1974), Astonishing Tales (April 1975), and Giant Size Defenders #5 and Defenders#26–29 (July–Nov. 1975). In each case, other heroes such as Captain America, the Thing, and the Defenders aid them in their war against the alien Badoon. The Guardians next received their own featured series running through Marvel Presents #3–12 (Feb. 1976 – Aug. 1977). This was followed by another round of guest appearances in Thor Annual #6 (1977), The Avengers #167–177 (Jan.–Nov. 1978) and #181 (March 1979), Ms. Marvel #23, Marvel Team-Up #86 (Oct. 1979), and Marvel Two-in-One #61-#63 & #69 (Nov. 1980).

For all intents and purposes that signaled the end of the inaugural team as well received reboots in the 1990’s (which ran for 62 issues and again in 2008) both reimagined the characters and concept beyond the intrepid band of freedom fighters who comprised the founders: Major Vance Astro, Yondu Udonta, Martinex and Charlie-27 (later joined by the fire-haired Mercurian Nikki and the combined being called Starhawk). The blockbuster 2014 Marvel Studios film [based upon the 2008 comic book series] depicted another team comprised of different Marvel universe characters, with only a cameo version of Yondu presents.

Original Guardians by Alex Ross