Samstag, 31. Oktober 2009

The scariest comic I ever read

I'm not sure exactly how old I was when I first read What If? v2 #30; I don't believe I bought it new, so I must have been older than nine, but I also don't think it was long after it came out, so I'll ballpark myself around eleven.

As you can see from the cover, it was "two feature length thrillers" asking the question "What if the Fantastic Four's second child had lived?" Comic Vine has Jim Valentino listed as the book's writer and (ironically) current FF artist Dale Eaglesham as penciler, but I'm not sure if they did both stories or, if not, which one they were responsible for. I'm not concerned with the second story for the purposes of this post, as it was a fairly pedestrian yarn about Reed and Sue Richards' daughter becoming some sort of global messiah, but the book's first "thriller" scared the living heck out of me.

The premise of the story, as implied by the question/title, was presenting one possible scenario had the second child of Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman lived. See, while today any FF fan worth their salt knows that Reed and Sue do have two children, Franklin and Valeria, back in 1991, Franklin was the only child of Marvel's First Family, as a second had been lost in childbirth during John Byrne's run on the book due to the mother's exposure to radiation in the Negative Zone (I believe).

Here, with the help of Doctor Octopus, Reed is able to save the baby, a girl, but Sue dies in the process.

The story is told from Franklin's point of view, and right off the bat Valentino (or whoever wrote this) provides an emotionally gut-wrenching account of a little boy losing his mother and having to accept that the person who ostensibly killed her is now a member of his family. That's not even the makings of a horror movie, that's a real-life tragedy that was certainly not typically dealt with in all-ages super hero comics during the 90's, not something I had ever really thought about at my tender age, and a subject I at least remember the creative team handling with impressive care and craft.

However from there creepier elements beyond the norm do begin cropping up as members of the Fantastic Four as well as friends like Alicia Masters are becoming weak and dying and nobody can figure out an explanation why. Franklin is the only one convinced his younger sister has something to do with it, but his father refuses to believe him and his uncles and their super friends humor him but try to explain to him it's only natural to feel threatened by a new sibling (which it is).

There's really no on-panel action or violence for the first two thirds of the story, just personal dynamic drama about your family being thrown into tumult and nobody believing you; it felt more like "Child's Play" or any other thriller designed to terrify kids specifically because it focuses in on your helplessness to save the people you love because you can't get anybody to listen to you.

Again, I can't say for sure that Dale Eaglesham was the artist on this story, but if he was, even at what would have been a formative stage in his career, he was doing some impressive work, as his visuals were a huge part of what made this story so dang eerie. I vividly recall a panel of Franklin walking by the room of an emaciated Johnny Storm who was half-conscious and mumbling as one of the scariest images my young mind had ever processed. This was the Human Torch, a cocky, young character full of life sapped of all that and there wasn't even a bad guy to throw blame to; gripping stuff when you're eleven (or twenty-seven).

Reed basically locks himself in his lab and becomes obsessed with figuring out what had happened to his family at the expense of paying any attention his son, who insisted his sister was to blame, a claim Mister Fantastic refused to hear. This worked because it was a pretty logical extension of Reed's character (how many times has he locked himself in a lab and ignored his family over the years?) and made the next bit even more shocking but weighty when he hauled off and slapped Franklin for daring to hurl these accusations.

Obviously this story played on some pretty realistic fears most kids have: your younger sibling trying to steal your family from you (literally in this case), nobody listening to you, and even a parent who is supposed to be protecting you turning against you in the cruelest of ways. This wasn't alien invaders or monsters from another dimension, it was real stuff that some kids are unfortunate enough to face jacked up with sci fi trappings.

The climax of the story is almost predictable, but no less horrifying, as the youngest Richards does indeed turn out to be a parasitic Negative Zone monster with emotion-altering abilities who turns into a giant green creature after Franklin recruits Doctor Doom of all people as his savior while his father curses at him to his last breath. The beast ends up tearing through both Reed and Doom and trying to come at Franklin, who is able to activate a switch and send her back to where she came from. The story ends with Franklin cradling his dead father's head and wishing somebody would have listened to him.

It was a horror movie in comic book form done to great effect and pulled off with maximum psychological effect. It terrified me so much I gave the comic to my mom and had her hide it from me, never wanting to see it again. I believe when I was in college we were cleaning some area of the house and I found it; I read it again, all my childhood emotions came rushing back, and I threw it out post haste.

It was the scariest comic I ever read.

Freitag, 30. Oktober 2009

Autumn and Fall, Wheelchair Badminton, Squirrel Siblings and loot!

Fall has arrived, and the trees are sending the leaves down in bushels. Which make some kids happy. I am trying to remember that delight of seeing big leaves instead of automatically thinking “Oh no, this means every leaf blower in town will be on my block forever!”

Sound-wise today was extremely noisy. I did not know why as I had a medical appointment. When Cheryl came she said the Coho – the 50 year old tilt back and forth ferry had carried over the Olympic Torch. Not only that, because of the ‘political target’ it could make, the slow moving, waddling Coho Ferry was escorted by the US Coast Guard until Canadian Waters and then by the Canadian Coast Guard. I am not sure what the plan was because the Coho was built back in the days when LARGE amounts of steel was put into ships, enough to make those giant Caddies that go through brick walls seem wimpy. So was a speedboat supposed to hit it with explosives? Because of the Olympics? And would the Coho notice? Or was one of the cars aboard supposed to go off, and then the Coast Guard would what? Shoot all the potential suspects swimming toward the Coast Guard vessel? I am not clear on the logic of most things security related, like why U.S. citizens like Cheryl can come to visit me with a driver’s license but cannot as a CITIZEN of the US return to her country/gated community with one, but MUST have a passport.

Anyway, the torch arrived, and according to Cheryl, the ‘Torch Run’ of the Olympics (which is supposed to be about ‘amateur sports’ and not ‘whoring ourselves to media and corporations’ is the ‘RBC and Coca-Cola Torch Run” – because moving the Olympic Flame certainly can’t be done without sponsorship! So Coke and Royal Bank had been using this as several million in advertising having contests on who would run with the torch, and so the torch was jogged 300 yards, then lights the NEXT person, in order to get all the people in who Coke and RBC sold the spots to. AND then afterward, you can buy the torch you ran with. Surreal. I was about to make a joke about how probably Pepsi is sponsoring the Torch Run in Real World or one of the Virtual Worlds. But then I thought I should check to make sure that isn’t actually happening; since many big brands are now opening shops in virtual worlds (Yes, I realize how insane that last sentence sounded – are you being served in your Nike Virtual World shopping experience by penguins? Who knows? Does someone purple carry the torch with wings?).

Back to reality, after my last blog about heaven help those who try to stop me going to badminton, I got 30 minutes sleep, and then in the rain I rolled to badminton (I am not a political target either!). I ended up in my first game facing the badminton coordinator and one of the other very good players. But I was not daunted! In fact, here you see an early point where I am using one hand to push myself up onto my clothing guard while I reach for the birdie. This caused the wheelchair to tip over, but I HIT the birdie, pushed the floor with my fist and the chair bounced back as I called, “In play, still in play” and we went on to win the point. Most impressive for someone who has a 17% chance when trying to scratch their nose of hitting it.

When serving, the important thing is to serve LOW over the net so they cannot slam it back at you – this was a VERY good serve I managed, and Linda got it. I did confuse them a bit with my serves. And they came back at me and my partner. It was a match to 21 points. We were ahead, then behind then ahead. Here you can see me wheeling past after guarding the front and probably blocking a tipped in birdie, I seem pleased, or in concentration.

While in this shot I am about to send the birdie into the far back corner. The problem is that I can only be so many places, as I have a chair that does not move sideways, and the opponents learn to NOT hit to those places – very vexing. But I still got some hits in, here I moved back to cover my partner while he was serving and hit the responding hit (you can see the birdie at the VERY top of the screen, that bit of yellow) which I hit backhand to boot!
Well I played tough, or honestly by the end I was mentally exhausted and a little confused but I tried hard and we ended up losing 23-22 or 24-22, I am not quite sure, all I know is we were tied 21-21 and so could not finish but kept going. I like close games and this one was close.

After another game I wheeled home and then got too little sleep due to two cement trucks, a crane, two chainsaws and a few other handy noisemakers the next morning starting at 6:56 a.m. Ug.

Remember those two squirrel siblings I told you about. Well here they are. You see one is bounding toward Cheryl, while the other is finding and digging up where the sibling just buried the last peanut. Then, as the squirrel gets the peanut, you can see the other in the background, having found the last peanut is now eating it. Then they move aside so the happy sibling (the poor clueless one who you end up tricking to do your chores) goes around to find a new burying spot while they finish the peanut – then as the sibling bounds off to get another one, they dig that up too. Sad but oh so familiar.

I also got some postcard loot for the postcard project in Hawaii and on orders which finally came in – here is one of the Postcard Books that I have been looking forward to getting and sending out. I used to spend my hours as a youth in the old Pasadena Public Library which looked a lot like this one but a lot bigger (it had lions too outside). There was hard wood everywhere and the old card catalogues, and the information/answer desk where you used to be able to go and ask a librarian a question like, “How many moons does Saturn have?” and they would find the answer for you.

I also got this set of Escher cards which I can send out with little gifts or just as cards while the hand lasts. I like Escher because so much of it seems a metaphor for disability; the way medios think and work and so much in life. What doesn't go round and round in disability land?

Also here are some of the stickers we picked up at a store, I think just outside the Waipio Valley called Honoko. We have already sent out several of them (half?) on the postcards we did last week – about 30+ in number. I liked finding these touches of Hawaii and bringing them to the postcard, because when they are gone, they are gone. And that is the point of a postcard, isn’t it?

For those who are going trick or treating tomorrow, good luck. If you are in doubt whether to go trick or treating this is a little measure I use: If you are carrying a bottle of beer or liquor and take hits from it between houses, or have to put out your cig before asking for candy – you are TOO OLD! Sorry.

Detective Comics #394

Detective Comics #394 (On Sale: October 30, 1969) has a nice cover by Neal Adams.

We begin with Batman in "A Victim's Victim" by Frank Robbins, Bob Brown and Joe Giella. Oh, does this issue continue harming the Batman legend. This is the second of the inane Victim's Incorporated Program (V.I.P.) stories. Picking up from the end of this month's Batman story, Bruce Wayne is confronted in his V.I.P. office by a Native American sporting a gun and an eye-patch, one Dakota Jones, race-car driver. It seems Dakota thinks Bruce Wayne hired someone to shoot him in the eye during the last Gotham Classic Cup Race, so that the car owned by Bruce could win.

I take note here that this month DC put out two comics staring Batman and featuring racing, The big difference is that in The Brave and the Bold both Batman and Bruce Wayne take an active part in the racing, while here Bruce owns the car. Anyway, Bruce and Dakota spar and Bruce wins and figures that someone must be feeding Dakota the idea that Bruce was involved.

Later that night as Batman, Bruce heads for the scene of the crime in one of the stupidest looking Batmobiles of all time. This is some Italian race-car looking thing, with one-way mirrors for windows, diplomatic license plates and an ugly spoiler on top. He thinks this will be less obtrusive than the old Batmobile. World's greatest detective my ass! I digress. At the track Batman determines that the shot must have come from the inside of the track, and since there is no place for a sniper to hide, the shot must have come from Wayne's car.

For some reason, Wayne's car is still at the track and on inspection, Batman finds a shell casing under the floor mat (a race car with a floor mat?). Just then he hears some low lifes, "Chance" Collins and some of his goons, coming, talking about how they convinced Dakota that Bruce had ordered the "hit" on Dakota, not them, who bet heavily on the Wayne car to win. They are back to retrieve the gun from behind the glove compartment of Wayne's car. Batman does see the gun there and hides in the car.

When Collins' men open the car batman attacks them but is overpowered. They tie him up and are going to use the same remote-controlled gun rig that they used to shoot Dakota to kill Batman. Before they can do that though, Dakota arrives and takes out a couple of thugs while Collins slips away in Wayne's race car. Dakota takes after him and Collins crashes the car on the same turn where Dakota was shot. An eye for an eye, as they say.

I can't go forward without mentioning the lack-luster Bob Brown and Joe Giella artwork. Brown didn't seem to be trying very hard (one Batman face is repeated three times) and Giella never was one for thrilling inks.

The back-up story features Robin in "Strike... While the Campus is Hot" by Frank Robbins, Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. The artwork on this one is a night and day reversal of the main story. Gil Kane's pencils are exciting and vibrant, and Murphy Anderson's inks are lush and inviting, smoothing off some of the rough edges of Kane's pencils. The story begins with Batman and Alfred reading a letter from Dick, telling of his first college "bust."

Dick relates how he has found a room in a boarding house with a conveniently-placed drain pipe for Robin to exit and enter and how on his first day on campus he ran into a protest by a group called CTT (Citizens Tomorrow--Today). They seem to be provoking the campus administrators when the dean shows up to say that they will talk with the protesters and tat they will be no police action or interference. This seems to take the wind out of the protesters who appeared gunning for violence. Suddenly police cars appear and the leaders are taken into custody.

However, Dick notices that the cops are phonies and is knocked out and taken as well. At the campus the remaining CTT leaders accuses the school of lying and along with the press head down to police headquarters. Finding no CTT leader there, CTT accuses the police of being in on a massive cover-up. Meanwhile Dick awakens in an old silo and changes into Robin (something about a reversible shirt and hidden pockets that makes little sense, but hey, it's the comics, right?). He finds the "cops" bandaging up the CTT leader. Robin leaps down and starts fighting the leader only to find the "cops" standing on the sidelines watching and smiling.

This story has been reprinted in Showcase Presents: Robin the Boy Wonder Vol. 1 TPB.

Edited by Julius Schwartz.

Fashion: At work

Just a classy look with a little Halloween accent ;)

Fashion: At work

Outfit details:
  • Sweater: Maitreya (Jam Hoody / in Red / worn without the hood)
  • Shirt: Barcode (Collared Undershirt, part of Mom Sweater Orange / FREE Subscribo Gift)
  • Skirt: LeLutka (Solange skirt / in Dark)
  • Tights: Savvy? (Manna Faux-Tights, part of Manna outfit / tinted: R: 219, G: 163, B: 133)
  • Necklace: +plus (Amy Necklace / attached to spine / tinted R: 172, G: 117, B: 84)
  • Brooch: Caol Ila (Pumpkin Brooch 2009 / FREE at the shop)
  • Bag: Bare@Rose (Bellissima 09 / in Brown)
  • Shoes: Redgrave (Boots / in Black-Leather)
  • Lashes: [glow] Studio (Flutter lashes / Madam Butterfly)
  • Hair: (Jasmine / in Timid Brown)
PS. I love this hairstyle, especially the back side!

Jimmy Giegerich covers Tales of Voodoo, Volume 3 #1

Original credit is unknown; Eerie Publications 1970. Jimmy Giegerich's website is here.

Adventure Comics #387

Adventure Comics #387 (On Sale: October 30, 1969) has a Supergirl cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

We begin with Supergirl in "The Wolf-Girl of Stanhope" by Cary Bates and Kurt Schaffenberger. The back-up story is our cover story, "Lex Luthor's Outlaw Nephew" by Leo Dorfman, Winslow Mortimer and Jack Able.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Action Comics #383

Action Comics #383 (On Sale: October 30, 1969) has a Superman cover by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.

We begin with Superman in "The Killer Costume" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan and George Roussos. The back-up story features the Legion of Super-Heroes in "Chameleon Boy's Secret Identity" by E. Nelson Bridwell, Winslow Mortimer and Jack Able. Jim Shooter would be back as Legion writer next issue, but would then leave DC for five years. It was reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 9 HC.

Edited by Mort Weisinger.

Donnerstag, 29. Oktober 2009

28 Comics I Love

The Amazing Screw-On Head by Mike Mignola

Batman...Jesus, too much to say in a post like this, so I'ma just say "Batman" as a title and leave it for later.

Blue Monday by Chynna Clugston

Bone by Jeff Smith

Deadenders by Ed Brubaker & Warren Pleece

Epileptic by David B.

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel

Green Lantern by Ron Marz, Darryl Banks, et al.

Good-Bye, Chunky Rice by Craig Thompson

Grickle by Graham Annable

Impulse by Mark Waid, Humberto Ramos & Wayne Faucher

JLA by Grant Morrison, Howard Porter & John Dell

King of Persia by Walt Holcombe

Madman by Mike & Laura Allred

The New Gods by Jack Kirby

Palooka-ville by Seth

Pappercutter edited by Greg Means

The Paul Series by Michel Rabagliati

Robin by Chuck Dixon, Tom Grummett et al.

The Rocketeer by Dave Stevens

Scott Pilgrim By Bryan Lee O'Malley

Scud: The Disposable Assassin by Rob Schrab

The Shadow by Howard Chaykin, Andy Helfer, Bill Sienkiewicz & Kyle Baker

Sidekicks by J. Torres & Takeshi Miyazawa

Skeleton Key by Andi Watson

Spider-Man 2099 by Peter David, Rick Leonardi, Andrew Wildman, et al.

Starman by James Robinson, Tony Harris, Wade Von Grawbadger, Peter Snejbjerg, et al.

Teenagers From Mars By Rick Spears & Rob G

[NOTE: I should have had this up last week to follow the example set by the much harder working Ben in his whole series which you should go back and re-check out, but it was a weird thing to do. At first I felt like I couldn't find enough comics that I felt as strongly about as the ones I love most on this list...then I found I had way, way too many fucking comics and had to cut way down. I hope no one takes this as a best of all time list (as if anyone really gives a shit what my best of all time would look like) and more as a snapshot of why I'm so juvenile at this age. - KP]


Hey y'all, very sorry for the infrequency/relative lameness of this week's posting, but apparently getting married takes a lot out of you (and your friends). Besides that, I was also out late last night at MarvelFest and am freaking exhausted.

I swear I'm gonna get some sleep this weekend and return to the irreverent discourse on comics, movies and Subway that you live to consume. Until then, here's a medley of covers from random stuff I bought in the 90's!

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