Tag Archives: Marvel

Stan Lee and the Silver Surfer

Last week I wrote about the affect that one of Stan Lee’s most iconic co-creations had on me as a young comic book fan.

This week I wanted to focus instead on a character that impacted me greatly in my teenage years and into adulthood. Although not technically a Stan Lee creation (and in fact the character’s provenance was the source of some controversy), the story of the Silver Surfer is undeniably associated with Stan and is an important part of the writer’s legacy. In tribute, here’s a look at the comic book that brought me closer to Stan Lee’s worldview as seen through the eyes of the lonely sentinel of the spaceways, and gave me a better appreciation of the man who helped make Marvel Comics what it is today.

Silver Surfer

The Silver Surfer #1 (1988)
By eighth grade, I was well and truly entrenched in the Marvel universe, but apart from random issues of 70’s Defenders and summarized tales in Marvel Saga, I didn’t know much about the Silver Surfer until the debut of Steve Englehart’s series  and the release of Joe Satriani’s Surfing with the Alien. Both of those artifacts were gateway drugs into the immersive world of Marvel’s galactic space opera, and I spent many of my high school years moving backwards and forwards into the Jim Starlin and Ron Lim eras, digging on Warlock, Eternity, and all the trippy Infinity Watching and cosmic handholding.

But in 1988, another Silver Surfer hit the stands under Marvel’s Epic imprint, and it felt important enough that, despite its incongruities and lack of adherence to all-important continuity, I was compelled to add it to my weekly pull. It was the first of the two-part “Parable” story by Stan Lee and French artist Moebius.

Continue reading Stan Lee and the Silver Surfer

In Memoriam: Stan Lee 1922-2018

We all know how much Stan Lee meant to the world. There are few figures in the twentieth century that have had as significant an impact on popular culture as had the Forever Face of Marvel Comics. While he modestly downplayed his contributions to society, Stan’s indelible mark on history has given, without question, joy and inspiration to several generations of fans and followers. And will continue to do so for generations to come.

I can’t properly enumerate all the ways in which his enthusiasm, his vision, and his words have influenced me. Without his contributions to the industry, I may never have become the avid devotee of the medium that I am today, and my lifelong Marvel fandom owes everything to his prolific output and creative genius. Stan’s larger-than-life personality is matched by a portfolio of characters that transcend comics, themselves becoming a vital part of our social fabric, and many of whom have meant a great deal to me personally.

So as a small means of tribute, here is the first in a series of reflections on some  of my favorite Stan Lee co-creations, and the related comic book issues that recollect childhood excitement and have earned lasting admiration.

Spider-Man

Amazing Spider-Man #50
It really began for me with Peter Parker. I can’t remember how old I was when I thumbed through my first Spider-Man comic — no more than five for sure — but I do have vivid memories of watching that old syndicated cartoon on a tiny tube television from the floor of my family living room. I had committed the “does whatever a spider can” theme song to memory, and convinced two kindergarten classmates to perform it with me at a school-wide talent show. The only things I remember from that performance is that my two friends didn’t sing a word (boy did they look stupid standing next me, closed-lipped) and my folks didn’t try to talk me out of wearing my Spider-Man Underoos over my corduroys (damn, I must’ve looked cool). Continue reading In Memoriam: Stan Lee 1922-2018

Fresh Start: The First Six Months

Marvel Legacy, we hardly knew ye. 2017’s fall publishing initiative, which kicked off with a best-selling one-shot, was nonetheless ticketed for an overhaul come Thanksgiving of last year, after the controversial firing of then Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, and the promotion of C.B. Cebulski. Marvel’s new EIC wasted little time promising “new beginnings,” and the cynics among us grumbled. Here we go again…

There were still some storylines seeded during the Legacy build-up that were now being hitched to C.B.’s wagon. Jason Aaron’s ancient Avengers saga would be kicking off the fanfare-minimized “Fresh Start,” and the galactic empire of Wakanda, along with the long-awaited return of the Fantastic Four, were not far behind. But it was still a new batch of #1 issues for a near line-wide refresh. Marvel had been pulling this stunt annually; some of these books were up to their fourth series premiere in as many years.

Ostensibly the re-numbering shtick is to gain new readers, a concept to which none of us object. What did draw some concern was whether or not this mid-stream Fresh Start, in the process of trying to build a new audience, would end up sacrificing the creativity and diversity that had been a hallmark of the publisher in recent years. Mindful of everything that we loved about All-New, All-Different, Marvel NOW!, and the recent Legacy, along with what bothered us, the Idle Time focus group reassembled to see what to make of this latest initiative.

Continue reading Fresh Start: The First Six Months

Marvel Studios 10th Anniversary: Ranking the 20 MCU Films

Two thousand eighteen is a monumental anniversary year for comic book movies. Forty years ago Superman: The Movie helped a worldwide audience “believe a man can fly,” upping the ante with groundbreaking cinematic special effects. Twenty years ago, New Line released Blade, and Hollywood, finally, keyed in on the profitability of Marvel’s stable of characters, understanding that superhero flicks not starring Batman or Superman could still draw an audience.

And that of course led to the formation of Marvel Studios which, ten years ago, brought funnybook continuity to the movies with Iron Man, the first entry in Marvel’s wildly successful Cinematic Universe.

With this week’s home video release of Ant-Man & The Wasp, the latest installment in the MCU’s film canon, a team of Idlers assembled to rank all twenty movies, from worst to first. Counting down to our favorite (so far):

20
Thor: The Dark World
(2013)
Tough to sit through, lousy plot to blame more than anything. The sole bright spot might be in the performance of Tom Hiddleston. Loki might be the most underrated character — from his characterization through his development — in the MCU. – MMDG

19
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
This still isn’t good. I’d forgotten that Marvel tried setting up The Leader (I’ll wager Marvel was counting on us forgetting this as well) for some future sequel or tie-in. Worth noting: during the climactic brawl in Harlem, there’s a Michael K. Williams (Omar from The Wire) cameo! Apparently he had a minor part that included some lines, but none of that made the final cut. – MMDG

18
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The first thing people usually mention about this film is Mickey Rourke’s cockatoo, which, uh, isn’t good. We get introduced to ScarJo as Black Widow, Don Cheadle dons the War Machine suit, and Sam Rockwell is pretty entertaining as Justin Hammer, but there is still a major lack of any sort of villain character to make this film stand out. – hltchk Continue reading Marvel Studios 10th Anniversary: Ranking the 20 MCU Films

Black Panther #1

Another “Fresh Start” from the House of Ideas this week and, as with Aaron & McGuiness’s Avengers relaunch, the new Black Panther from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Daniel Acuña addresses teasers previewed in last fall’s Marvel Legacy one-shot. In this case, we had all been scratching our heads regarding that glimpse at a futuristic Panther planet somewhen and somewhere. It was just a single page, but it left us with a host of questions. The first issue of this arc, “The Intergalactic Empire of Wakanda,” answers plenty of them (right away, actually), and it raises quite a few more.

That preview page returns — the first page in this comic — this time with narration explaining that a small group of Wakandans left Earth some two thousand years ago to colonize a planet on the far reaches of the cosmos. Millennia later, these colonists’ warlike tendencies have put them at the center of an empire spanning five galaxies.

So that’s all pretty awesome. And a new mystery immediately comes into focus when T’Challa makes an appearance, with no memory of who he is or how he got there, working as one of the mind-wiped “Nameless” mining slaves. Also… Nakia! And M’Baku! And vague recollections of a certain silver-haired goddess who once shared the king’s bed.

Continue reading Black Panther #1

Four-Color Primer: The Black Panther

This weekend, thousands of moviegoers who watched Captain America: Civil War got their first look at one of Marvel’s most historic characters, the Black Panther. A warrior-king from the fictional African nation of Wakanda, the Black Panther is surprisingly similar to Batman. Though he has strength, speed, and senses that are remarkably enhanced by a magical herb, the Panther relies on his intellect, and a slew of futuristic gadgets to overcome issues of super-villainy, as well as diplomacy. Created by the seminal creative duo of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, and The Black Panther is the first Black super hero with meaningful characterization.

T'Challa 1

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Free Comic Book Day 2016

This year marks the fifteenth anniversary of Free Comic Book Day, easily the best name for a very straightforward attempt at getting folks into comic shops and seeing what all the fuss is about. On the first Saturday of May, a variety of publishers, from big names like Marvel and DC to smaller outfits like Nobrow Press and Th3rd World Studios, partner with shops to offer a wide range of exclusive comics. Some books contain all new material, others are mixtape-style samplers of previously released work, and still others offer extended excerpts from new graphic novels. But the one thing that all these comics have in common is that they’re offered 100% free of charge.

one of the many All Ages titles, DC Super Hero Girls
one of the many All Ages titles, DC Super Hero Girls

While supplies last, obviously. And different stores have different policies limiting the number of giveaways. Check out the FCBD website for details on participating stores and, this Saturday, plan on visiting as many as you can! Most shops plan related events, contests, and other frivolity around FCBD. Drag along your uninitiated friend who loves Firefly but won’t pick up a funnybook and stick that Dark Horse freebie in her hands. Dress the kids up in their favorite superhero t-shirts and load them up with All-Ages books like Image’s Oddly Normal or DC’s Super Hero Girls. That guy in your office who won’t shut up about Enter the Dragon and wants to know if you caught this weekend’s UFC bloodfest? There’s a Bruce Lee treat for him as well.

Like music, movies, and ice cream flavors, there’s a comic book for everyone. Here are the FCBD offerings I’m most excited about, including the Previews solicitation information. Continue reading Free Comic Book Day 2016

All New All Different Marvel – Week 2

Six more All New All Different books hit shelves this week, bringing the total number of new series launches up to ten. Week 2 features two more books from the Spider-verse, and our first official full-length look at two of the Avengers teams.

All New All Different premieres
Captain America: Sam Wilson #1
Guardians of the Galaxy #1
New Avengers #1
Spider-Gwen #1
Spider-Man 2099 #1
Uncanny Avengers #1 Continue reading All New All Different Marvel – Week 2

All New All Different Marvel – Week 1

Marvel’s latest series relaunch is its most ambitious to date, with up to sixty new titles debuting this winter. Unlike similar events in the past, whether it was Heroes Reborn whose issue re-numbering eventually defaulted and resulted in schizophrenic dual-numbered issues, or the more recent Marvel NOW! which seemed to target properties that were developing their own cinema-inspired identities, this year’s All New All Different Marvel bears a few significant differences.

For one, the name is pretty dumb. It doesn’t have the snap of DC’s “New 52” or even the brevity of “Marvel NOW,” but maybe the cumbersome label makes it easier to shed, months down the road, when this new universe has been established as the new normal. Which brings up the second key difference: this time, the relaunch is universal. In the wake of the latest Secret Wars event, bits and pieces of various Marvel realities – some that we are familiar with and some of which are brand new – are coming together to form this new universe. All of the groups are affected: the X-Men books, the Spider-books, and, of course, the Avengers titles.

As we did with the 52 series that comprised DC’s relaunch, a dedicated team of Idle Timers will be reading the first issue of every series under the All New All Marvel banner. We’ll then rank them from worst to best, and share insight from both long-time comics fans and neophytes. Sometimes the best feedback, for a venture designed to hook new readers, comes from folks coming in cold. MH hadn’t even ever heard of Doctor Strange, if you can believe it. Continue reading All New All Different Marvel – Week 1

Jim Starlin and Marvel’s Cosmic Infinite

Not only is today Jim Starlin’s 66th birthday, but this month also marks the 40th anniversary of the release of his game-changing Warlock #9, one of the books that cemented his legacy among some of comics’ all-time greatest creators, and made his name synonymous with Marvel’s cosmic universe.

Warlock #9, "The Infinity Effect"
Warlock #9, “The Infinity Effect”

“The Infinity Effect” became more than just a starting point for Adam Warlock’s adventures with his evil future self; it set the groundwork for arguably the grandest four-color space opera of all time. The saga of the Infinity Gems and the characters linked to those stones – including Thanos, Gamora, and, of course, Warlock – has spun into numerous universe-shattering events and limited series over the last few decades. And, more significantly for even the casual superhero fan, it has become a slowly building central plot point for Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Seeing Thanos slide the Gauntlet onto his purple mitt in the final scene of Age of Ultron might have been the coolest big-screen teaser since seeing Thor’s hammer chilling in the desert.

So to celebrate Starlin’s birthday, and help prep the uninitiated for the coming Infinity blitz, here’s a Top 5 primer on his Marvel cosmic canon. Rather than rank these, they’re being presented chronologically, from the early 70’s right through the present day. Continue reading Jim Starlin and Marvel’s Cosmic Infinite