Hmm... guess I'll have to dig a little deeper.
I recently bought a graphic novel of of Amazon called Weapon Brown. Published by Death Ray Graphics, it seems that it was previously published as a web comic, but now it is only available in its entirety in hard copy. (Actually, it may be on Comixology, I haven't checked that out--but it's no longer entirely a webcomic.)
The premise is one that didn't grab me right away, which is why I hadn't read it until now. Charlie Brown is now Weapon Brown, the creation of a military unit. With cybernetic body parts, he is now a living weapon. Along with his white and black pit bull, he is roaming a post-apocalyptic Earth.
Just a few chapters into the book, he has come across Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty, and some other members of the Peanuts cast, but they are all grown up and distorted perversions of their funny page-selves. He has also come across Beetle Bailey's world (along with a sex-item Miss Buxley [Bucksley], who--let's face it--has always been one). Of course, Beetle Bailey's world has also been apocalyptic-ized as well. Then, he has entered the world of the Wizard of Id, whose cast is also horrifying versions of themselves, including his cyborg army.
This book is definitely not for everyone. It takes comic strip characters (or very thinly veiled versions of them) and puts them into some really graphic scenes. I'm only about a fifth of the way through it, and if I was easily offended (or if I had a special connection to the characters), I don't think I would be continuing on with it. But I am neither nor, so I am continuing to enjoy it.
MMW DAREDEVIL v4: This is a whole volume of Lee/Colan goodness with a side order of Kirby. What do you get when you combine the dynamism of Jack Kirby with the fluidity of Steve Ditkko? Answer: Gene Colan. Most of the stories in this volume are two-parters: #33-34 feature the Beetle (including his origin), #35-36 features the Trapster, and #37-38 features Dr.Doom, which leads into Fantastic Four #73. (Fantastic Four #73 also guest-stars Thor and a rare Kirby-drawn Spider-Man.)
The volume concludes with the only true three-parter, #39-41, which features the “Unholy Three,” that is the Ani-Men (Bird-Man, Ape-Man and Cat man, minus Frog-Man and now led by the Exterminator rather than the Organizer). The Exterminator supplies them with a time displacement gun, and the volume ends, appropriately enough, with Daredevil faking the death of “Mike Murdoch.”
MMW CAPTAIN MARVEL v4 (#34-46): This is the Steve Englehart volume. Issue #34 is Starlin’s last and Englehart provides only the script. For #35, Englhart plots, Mike Freidrich scripts, and the art is by Alfredo Alcala. Englehart plotted and scripted the next 10 issues (until he left Marvel), with art by new regular artist Al Milgrom starting with #37. Chris Claremont wrote the last issue in this volume (#46).
In #34, Captain Marvel contracts the cancer that will ultimately kill him. (Who here remembers that Nitro was originally a hunchback?) Starlin writes out Rick’s girlfriend, Lou-Ann, and writes in his singing partner “Dandy” Dandridge. I had completely forgotten that Carol Danvers guest-stars in #34-35. Ant-Man and the Wasp help defeat the Living Laser in #35, and #36 succumbed to the “dreaded deadline doom” as Milgrom ramped up his first issue. The fill-in reprinted Mar-Vell’s first appearance (Marvel Super-Heroes #12) with a three-page framing sequence which sets up “The Trial of the Watcher.”
In #37, Cap fights Nimrod (whose super-villain career lasted all of two pages). Nitro, the Living Laser and Nimrod were all flunkies of the “Lunatic Legion” (whom we’ll learn more about next issue), but more interestingly, to stave off boredom while trapped in the Negative Zone, Rick Jones drops a tab of acid, which has a detrimental effect on Mar-Vell, with whom he is linked. Dandy told him it was vitamin C, but it was obvious he didn’t believe her. Even so, how this got through the CCA I have no idea. (Actually, I do.)
#38 reveals the Lunatic Legion to be a faction of blue-skinned Kree based on Earth’s Moon. This, rather than #16 where it actually originated, is the issue I associate with the dominant Kree race being blue-skinned. I should note that #38 follows Avengers #133 (also by Englehart) which reveals the secret of the blue are of the Moon, and although they are referred to as blue in the script, they are actually colored “pink.” Zarek (from 316) also appears. The blue/pink Kree culture clash will continue to be explaored in this title and the Inhumans in the months to come.
“The Trial of the Watcher” in #39 recaps every appearance of Uatu to date. Tony Isabella is credited with “research.” Rick Jones and Mar-Vell are separated in this issue. In #40 they go their separate ways, but ultimately decide to continue as partners. Carol Danvers also appears, and Medic Una’s corpse is reanimated. In #41, cap and Rick travel to Hala, the Kree homeworld. I was surprised to see that the Universal Church of Truth (from Jim Starlin’s Warlock) had set up a chapter there. The Supreme Intelligence reveals that he has been behind everything since the series began, in anticipation of Eon changing Mar-Vell into the Supreme Intelligence’s “perfect adversary.” It doesn’t really make any more sense than any of the S.I.’s other actions up to this point.
Writer Steve Englehart and artist Al Milgrom had agreed to be co-plotters from the beginning of their run, but because they were on opposite coasts, most of the plotting fell to Englehart up until now. The plotting of #42, however, was purposefully shifted to Milgrom this issue, who put more humor into it. The A-plot concerns the Stranger and B-plot is Drax the Destroyer. The setting is sort of “the old west in outer space” and one of the supporting characters, Shabby Dayes, is obviously based on Gabby Hayes. Rick gets a costume and some new powers in this issue.
Drax is aware of Thanos’ resurrection, but is unable t do anything about it, so he takes out his frustration on Captain Marvel in #43. #45 featured one of the Infinity Gems (the Mind Gem, specifically), back when they were all referred to generically as “Soul Gems.” In #46 they return to Earth and begin a new direction.
Although some of the stories in this volume are slightly above average, the volume itself is simply average at best. I’ve got to be honest about that because the story will get very good in a volume or two and I want you to believe me when that happens. This is a natural break point, so next I am going to read some complementary stories in The Inhumans before proceeding on to volume five.
INHUMANS #1-12 (1975): The Inhumans was one of those series I was excited to get in on at the very beginning. My favorite title at the time (The Incredible Hulk) was approaching its 200th issue, and I didn’t foresee a time when I would ever be able to collect them all as backissues. (Little did I dream that I would one day own them in hardcover.) As with every new series I bought back then, I planned to stick with The Inhumans until it reached it’s 200th issue.
The series was written by Doug Moench, and the art (on the first four issues, anyway) was by George Perez. This was definitely the first time I had seen his art. Gill Kane took over the art chores for issues #5-7, Perez returned for #8, and Keith Pollard finished off #10-12. (#9 succumbed to the “Dreaded Deadline Doom.”) I collected only the first nine issues before I left comics (for a year or two) in the mid-70s. I picked up issues #10-12 while in college.
The first issue, which featured Blastaar, seemed tailor made for me; it smacked me over the head with continuity. Luckily (and quite coincidentally) I had by that time already acquired Hulk Annual #1 (featuring the Inhumans) as a backissue, I had read Blastaar’s first appearance in Marvel’s Greatest Comics, and I had a coverless copy (probably reported destroyed) of Marvel Team-Up #18, his most recent appearance. Believe me, when you are 11 years old and read the words “The Somnotherm must rise!” and “The Kaptroids shall hatch from their graves!” it not something you easily forget.
The series got off to a strong start but, even taking the “nostalgia factor” into account, tapered off after that. The first two issues were the two best. It’s a Kree-heavy series with the threat of the “War Between Three Galaxies” smoldering in the background. In issue #6 the great refuge was destroyed, in #7,8 & 10 they went into outer space, in #11 they returned to Earth, and in #12 they fought the Hulk. the title was cancelled at that point, and the dangling plot threads with picked up in Captain Marvel (which I will return to soon).
MMW DAREDEVIL v5 (#42-53): This volume is mostly Stan Lee and Gene Colan, but Barry Smith fills in for art #50-52, and Roy Thomas takes over writing in #51. #42 features “Marvel’s Joker” (and 1950s Captain America villain) the Jester. Speaking of Captain America, the original guest-stars in #43 when a not-in-his-right-mind Daredevil challenges him at an exhibition at Madison Square Garden. Brief aside: I was in an antique mall a few weeks ago, and one of the booths had framed reproductions of various comic book and pulp magazine covers. One of them was the Jack Kirby cover of Daredevil #43. It was $24, but I really don’t have anywhere to hang it.
#44-46 feature a rematch with the Jester, and #47’s story is the celebrated “Brother, Take My Hand!” the story of an African American soldier blinded in the war, told at the height of the Civil Rights movement and the Viet Nam war. It was chosen by Stan Lee for inclusion in Origins of Marvel Comics (actually, it was Son of Origins, I think). Willie Lincoln reminds me a bit of Jack Kirby’s Willie Walker from New Gods (and there is a Dave Lincoln in that series, too).
The villain in #48 is Stiltman, no joke when handled by Lee and Colan. Also, Foggy is elected D.A. in a long-running sub-plot. #49 introduces Starr Saxon and his robot. It is also Gene Colan’s last issue while Stan Lee reassigned him to Avengers for three months. Barry Smith took over for the second part of the robot story in #50. Smith’s early artwork was a little clunky (as he himself has readily admitted), but his potential is certain visible. In #51, Roy Thomas takes over as writer as the robot is defeated and its inventor, Starr Saxon, moves to the forefront. Daredevil is poisoned and Starr Saxon learns Daredevil’s true identity.
When I was in college and reading these issues for the first time, I read #52, also by Roy Thomas and Barry Smith, some time before the other issues in this run as I was tracking down Black Panther appearances at the time. The Panther learns Daredevil’s other identity, but Matt Murdock doesn’t know he knows. Starr Saxon escapes, but we haven’t seen the last of him.
Colan returns in #54 for a recap of Daredevil’s origin story. The last time I endeavored to make my way through all of Daredevil, just a few short years ago, this is where I stopped. I figured this issue would be a good jumping-back-on point when my mood changed, but I decided to start back at the beginning after all. Besides, last time I started with #12 (or The Man Without Fear limited series by Miller and Romita, Jr., actually). In this issue, Daredevil comes to the odd conclusion that his problems are caused, not by his Daredevil identity, but by being Matt Murdock, so he decides to “give up” being Matt Murdock, which is where we’ll pick up next time.
The volume is rounded out by a story from Not Brand Echh #4 which, like the one included in a Captain Marvel volume I recently read, would have fit better in the previous volume, as this one dealt with the time he was masquerading as his own “brother.”
MARVEL COMICS PRESENTS #5: Up until this issue, wolverine had been fighting this demon in 10 year increments. This chapter covers the years 19890-1989 year-by-year in “real time.” In other words, the panel dealing with 1980 showed a scene from a 1980 comic book, the scene from 1981 is from 1981, and so on. How this jibes with “Marvel Time” I have no idea.
The Nightcrawler story is set against the backdrop of the fall of the Berlin wall, but it takes place during the “Cross-Time Caper” so it’s an alternate Berlin Wall. Like many other stories written by Chris Claremont, this one is ultimately pointless.
The third story features Venom. I couldn’t bring myself to finish it.
FLASH #71 – “Year One” Pt. 2: This is a completely different Barry (Flash) Allen than the one I grew up reading about. There’s no reason why his origin shouldn’t be completely different, too. And every reason it should be.
That Daredevil story (or the X-Men story with Blastaar) was Barry (not yet Windsor-) Smith's first work for Marvel, and probably for anybody. He was in his Kirby phase, doing his best to channel the King. By the time he took over Conan he had found himself, and was doing his own thing (which was much better). Also, he has said in interviews that he was trying his best to signal Starr Saxon as the first gay supervillain. Saxon eventually became Machinesmith, who is now written as openly gay. If, you know, a robot can have sexuality.
So, there's that.