So last week I took some well-deserved shots at Marvel’s self-serving list of their 75 greatest comics, comic storylines, and graphic novels, published in their 75th Anniversary Magazine. Supposedly, the list was voted on by fans. If that’s true, I’m very disappointed in what’s left of Marvel’s fans. Anyway, as promised, here’s my picks for 15 of Marvel’s greatest.
A few of these are just personal favorites. But largely, I feel they represent the building blocks of the Marvel Universe, the foundation of all that came later. The modern creators who dub themselves “architects” (when perhaps they should merely be called “remodelers”) stand on the shoulders of giants. Without these stories below, and many others like them, all the shocking character death, all the sudden moral reversals and changing of heroes to despicable villains, all the experimental water color art and all the boring nine-panel grids of the same two characters in the same positions with the same expressions, could never have seen the light of day. For their highly referential presence would refer back to nothing.
There is no order of importance here. They’re just chronological.
X-Men 12-13 (7/65,9/65) “Who Can Stop the Juggernaut?” Okay, actually its first part was titled simply, “The Origin of Professor X.” Either way, it’s the scariest comic I’ve ever read. Cain Marko is not seen in his mutated form until the last few panels. Instead, like the Alien in Alien, he slowly stalks the mutants throughout the issue while Professor X explains his history and tells the teen heroes just how truly f____d they are. I kid you not, I had nightmares in fourth grade. Continue reading
Recently I happened to come across the Marvel 75th Anniversary Magazine. Reminiscent of “house” fanzines like FOOM or The Amazing World of DC Comics (but slicker and lacking their folksy charm), this all-color celebration of the company’s 75th birthday includes an interview with Marvel founder Stan Lee, a history of how a little company called Timely Comics ultimately became Disney’s Marvel Entertainment, and–disappointingly–a feature titled “The 75 Greatest Marvel Comics of All Time.” This includes cover shots representing, as promised, 75 individual issues, graphic novels or storylines from Marvel’s history. There’s an emblem on it, “Chosen by YOU!” Apparently, Marvel.com allowed its readers to vote.
Apparently, nearly all of Marvel.com’s readers began their comics-reading careers after 1990. The breakdown of time comics selected, by decade, goes like this:
Saturday, this was the thought of the day for me. I awoke to learn that a young man I knew, not a close friend but someone I liked very much, was dying. Indeed, he was dead before I finished my first cup of coffee. I’d known he was sick. I’d known he was in the hospital. I’d just thought, “This is a young, healthy guy, and he’s coming home.”
He didn’t come home. I was… angry. How stupid is that? It’s no one’s fault. Someone catches a rare infection. I assume doctors do everything they can, but, we’re not immortal. What’s the point of getting angry?
Note: Photo may not reflect actual vehicle used on indicated trip.
Would you believe I have three blog posts written, and yet, here I sit on a Tuesday evening with not one post ready to go? I have roughed out three very different essays: a review, a rant and a business / leadership reflection. Having done so, I didn’t sweat last night. Normally, on Monday nights, I finish (or start and finish) my blog while Christian has his Taekwondo class. 2,000 words in an hour. Not hard. And I can spend 20 minutes editing on Tuesday. Last night I thought I was ahead of the game.
Tonight, I looked at my three “roughed out” blogs. Put the emphasis on “rough.” None of these were ready to edit! What was I thinking? Of course, I was thinking about twelve other things–work deadlines, the story I was editing, personal business that needed to be dealt with in the wake of a whirlwind trip to my family home in the mountains…
Note: If you haven’t seen the film, take my word for nothing in here. PLEASE see it and draw your own conclusions. It’s still running in 65 theaters around the country.
Continuing my review of Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt, I wish to pause for a disclaimer and a shout-out. First, the disclaimer: I am speaking frankly about this film because I believe in the project. I respect the passion of the creative team behind it. I understand the obstacles they had to overcome to bring an overwhelmingly popular book to film under the eye of a film industry that largely holds its audience in contempt, and believes that this book is only popular because most of the reading public is too stupid to know what’s good for them. I admire their effort, and I hope it will ultimately pay off.
I don’t want to write this review, but, dammit, I feel obligated.
Actually, I feel torn. One the one hand, I supported this movie financially via Kickstarter. I think very well of the producers and creative team who have, thus far, brought us one excellent film and one pretty good one in this trilogy. Criticizing them in public feels a bit like airing dirty laundry, disloyalty to the cause. And yet… When I see something done poorly, by people who want to do a good job, and I know how it could be done better… I feel like I have to say something. Even though saying something seems to put me in the ranks of the many film critics who will say this movie is a desperate, laughable attempt to bring recognition to a set of lunatic fringe ideas, and that the poor quality of the film is just a testament to how unsound their thinking is.
I happened upon this volume almost by accident. I’ve always been a huge fan of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson’s 1975 – 1977 science fiction series, Space: 1999. I’ve got a bit of a chip on my shoulder about it, in fact, because the show seems to provoke resentment from most corners of Fandom. If you’re a fan over the age of about 35, you remember how it felt to like Star Trek or comic books, back before Fandom became just another cash cow for Hollywood? Before the Marvel Movies conquered the box office? Before The Big Bang Theory? (The show, not the actual theory. Note the italics. Punctuation is key.) Before geek was chic?
Yeah, it was a bad feeling to be a fan in those days. Everyone looked down on you, to include your peers, siblings, teachers, sometimes even your parents! Well, as bad as that felt for, say a Star Trek fan, it was worse for a Space: 1999 fan. Everyone looked down on us, including all other fans! To this day, I’m careful at cons and on panel discussions about mentioning my love of this series, because people actually groan in revulsion.
I suppose it’s appropriate, when reviewing a book by a priest, to open with a confession. Here’s mine: The Search for Maggie Ward made me rethink my status as a confirmed agnostic.
Before, I had not encountered very much gentle Christianity.
I had not encountered clerics, much less a celibate cleric, who had anything to say about sex. Greeley not only had a lot to say about sex, what he had to say was also overwhelmingly positive.
I somehow missed this when it came out in time for Christmas, 2012. In fact, I’m not 100% sure how I stumbled across it last week. Other than their Logan’s Run adaptations a while back, I don’t read too many Bluewater comics, so I doubt it was a house ad. Alas, that’s the nature of the Internet, especially when you’re as ADD as I am. Searching for one thing can lead to something you didn’t expect, which sets you on a mission. In this case, surfing around for something unrelated brought up a stray reference to a Capra tribute done in comic book form, and I had to find out what that was about. So whatever I’d been searching for was forgotten, and I had to jump on ComiXology and buy this.
Frank Capra is one of my heroes. I have a list of four big personal heroes, and a list of, I guess, “others.” Mostly right now the distinction between “big” and “other” is that the “others” are still living, or that their principal body of work falls within my lifetime.
First up, thanks to all of you who sent notes of encouragement after last week’s lengthy discussion of Alzheimer’s. It’s not an easy road to travel, but since when was life ever easy? It’s good to know how many people I have in my corner.
Now on to the blog I started writing two weeks ago, a group of thoughts about a movie I watched even more weeks ago, almost by accident. It’s old. So old that, if you search it on IMDB, it doesn’t even show up on the initial list of possible films, even if you type its exact title. It was made in 1934, and I discovered it because I was watching some films with Joan Bennett on YouTube. (Not a lot of Joan Bennett’s films are available on NetFlix streaming!) I was watching Joan Bennett films because I was reading a biography of the Bennett family, which was recommended by Lara Parker in her latest book, which I reviewed recently. All this discussion of her early film work got me interested in seeing some movies. That’s the way my mind flows. One thing to the next.