Tag Archives: comic books

Panels of Awesomeness: Spider-Man Annual #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Bryan Edward Hill (Author), Nelson Blake II (Artist), Alitha E. Martinez (Artist), Carlos Lopez (Colorist), Cory Petit (Letterer)

THE SCENE: In his early days as a hero, Miles Morales takes on a Skrull who is impersonating Spider-Man!

WHY IT’S AWESOME: Spider-Man Annual #1 was a welcome read this week, as last month Brian Michael Bendis officially put a bow on the ongoing adventures of Miles Morales. At least for now. My understanding is that a new series is in the works. You’d think there’d have to be, what with the Miles-centered Into the Spider-Verse hitting theaters in December.

In the meantime, most of this annual takes place “years ago,” just as Miles is becoming a hero. The book does a little retcon work here, trying to figure out where our hero was in the main Marvel Universe (as opposed to the Ultimate one, where he debuted) around the time of Secret Invasion. When Miles, Ganke, and their friends are attacked by Skrulls at a party in Soho, Miles is forced to take action. As awful icing on the cake, one of them is impersonating Spider-Man!

The ensuing battle gives us this page…

A bit cliched? Maybe. But when it’s done right, I’m a sucker for stuff like this. It’s important to remember how young Miles is at this point. When we first met him, he was only about 13 or 14. And yet, now he’s facing life or death against a monster. Literally, a monster. So to see him calm himself down, and almost rationalize the situation, is really cool. I love the line, “I can’t do this. But Spider-Man could.”

Then, to top it all off, he delivers a Spidey quip. Not a great one, mind you. But good, considering he’s a terrified teenager in a makeshift Spider-Man costume.

That’s another item to note: Nelson Blake II designed Miles’ makeshift Spidey suit for this outing. I dig it. The shirt is a little on-the-nose for what’s supposed to be a spontaneous costume. But it’s still fun. The goggles even give it a little bit of a Spider-Man Noir vibe.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

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Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt: Eddie Murphy at Ghostbusters HQ

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

The Eddie Murphy/Ghostbusters connection goes back a long way. The irony there is that most people have no idea there’s a connection at all.

Legend has it that while writing early treatments for Ghostbusters, Dan Aykroyd had his eye on Murphy for a co-starring role. This would have been during Murphy’s days on Saturday Night Live. But as the film evolved, and Harold Ramis, Ivan Reitman, and Bill Murray became involved, the idea of Murphy playing a role fell to the wayside.

Some believe Murphy had been pegged for the Winston Zeddemore role, i.e. the everyman who gets to asks the Ghostbusters expository questions. A quote from Harold Ramis is cited in Ghostbusters: The Ultimate Visual History, which ultimately debunks this idea…

“Everyone thought that Winston was written for Eddie Murphy, but Eddie was really only going to costar with Danny is in his original version of the story. I never spoke to Eddie about being in the film.”

Decades later, Dan Schoening would pay a subtle tribute to Murphy in Ghostbusters #2.

Alright, maybe subtle isn’t the right word.

As Ecto-1 does one of its trademark zooms out of the firehouse, it nearly clips Axel Foley, Murphy’s character in Beverly Hills Cop. Foley is conspicuous by his trademark black jacket and muscle car.

Fittingly, both Ghostbusters and Beverly Hills Cop were released in 1984. Both made big bucks, and spawned franchises. *sigh* Sure makes you miss the ’80s, doesn’t it?

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Astonishing Art: Batman ’66 by Kevin Maguire

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

If you’re a comic book fan and you don’t know the name Kevin Maguire, then shame on you. He’s one of the all-time greats, and draws some of the most expressive and flamboyant characters you’ll ever see. He’s perhaps best known for his work on the original Justice League International series, which ties in nicely with what we’re looking at today.

Maguire’s most famous work from JLI, if not his career overall, is the cover for the first issue. You’ve got all your heroes together looking out at the reader, with Guy Gardner drawing focus at the bottom center. Since the issue’s release in 1987, Maguire has done seemingly countless take-offs of this cover. If you see him at a convention, or simply Google him, you’ll see a bunch of different versions with a bunch of different characters. Not just DC characters, either. You’ll see Marvel characters, and even a print dedicated to the various incarnations of Doctor Who. It’s all amazing.

A few years ago, I had the chance to meet Mr. Maguire and purchase a print from him, which is still hanging in my office now. There were no shortage of choices. But this one caught my eye, and is the subject of today’s “Astonishing Art.”

(In the interest of full disclosure, the print I have actually has a white border with black text. But the image itself is the same.)

I picked this Batman ’66 piece not just because of my soft spot for the show, but because of how well Maguire captured the spirit of some of the characters. Look at Robin, for instance. He’s got that gloved fist tucked into his palm, as we so often saw Burt Ward do on-screen. Frank Gorshin’s Riddler looks delightfully manic as always. And then you’ve got Victor Buono’s King Tut, who’s every bit as animated here as he was on the show.

One thing I’ve always been curious about is why Egghead, the Vincent Price character, is the only character other than Batman making eye contact with the viewer. Why him?

And in the Guy Gardner spot? Who else could it be, but Batman himself? I love that pose too. Paired with Robin’s, it makes it seem like the whole group is about to break into a classic WHAP! BIFF! OOF! slugfest.

Man, I miss Adam West…

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Epic Covers: Gotham Knights by Brian Bolland

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

When you hear the name Brian Bolland, especially in the context of Batman’s world, you think of The Killing Joke. That’s understandable. Nearly 30 years later, DC still goes to great lengths to make sure none of us forget it.

But Bolland has revisited the Dark Knight at various points since, usually via cover work. Such was the case in late 1999/2000, when DC called on him to do the covers for their new Batman series, Gotham Knights. Between April of 2000 and January of 2004, almost every issue of Gotham Knights was adorned with a Brian Bolland cover. Thus, Bolland got to cover a lot of ground he likely wouldn’t have otherwise been able to. We saw him draw characters like Nightwing, Huntress, Spoiler, and even Cassandra Cain as Batgirl. While Gotham Knights was essentially a third string series, during that timeframe is boasted some of the best covers in all of comics.

While great many of them would most certainly fit into the “epic” category, I’ve picked my five favorites for this space today.

Issue #18 – Aquaman and the Giant Penny.

Brian Bolland is widely known as the man who drew Barbara Gordon getting shot and paralyzed by the Joker. So when one thinks of his art, the word “funny” doesn’t often come to mind. And yet, here we are.

Gotham Knights #18 is about Batman summoning Aquaman for help retrieving some Batcave artifacts that went underwater after the big earthquake in Cataclysm. Bolland uses this premise to to get a little cutesy with iconic Batcave set piece. Aquaman is a character that gets played for laughs a lot. But what I appreciate about this piece is that it’s not necessarily making fun of Arthur, or using the whole “he talks to fish” bit. Arthur is in on the joke. Bolland doesn’t draw him in a cartoony way, but the combination of the shrug and the expression on his face almost evokes a Looney Tunes vibe. It’s difficult not to smile when you see this thing.

Issue #25 – Batman in Handcuffs.

Most people associated those bladed gauntlets with Batman, and that iconography is what makes this image work.

Gotham Knights #25 tied in with the Bruce Wayne, Murderer? storyline going on at the time, which saw Bruce go to prison. Bolland captured the spirit of that story perfectly by placing Batman in handcuffs. And don’t discount the iconic symbolism of those either. For better or worse, handcuffs are a symbol of American justice. With this relatively tight image, Bolland tells us that Batman is now entrapped within the system he’s supposed to be serving.

Issue #32 – The Grandfather Clock

I wouldn’t call this a famous image. But it’s gotten a decent amount of additional exposure over the years. It’s easy to see why.

While issue #25 took place as the Murderer? storyline was beginning, Gotham Knights #32 was part of the wrap up. It showed us 24 hours in the life of Bruce Wayne/Batman. So it’s fitting that Bolland’s cover show is the grandfather clock, the entrance to the Batcave. The unofficial threshold between billionaire playboy and caped crusader. And you have the great juxtaposition of both identities standing back to back. An awesome cover for an awesome issue.

Issue #43 – Batgirl Debuts

Another piece that got a good amount of play after the fact. Bolland delivers an epic tip-of-the-hat to the classic Carmine Infantino cover for Detective Comics #359 from 1967, Batgirl/Barbara Gordon’s “million dollar debut!” The classic never dies, kids.

There’s a sentimental aspect to this one, of course. Bolland wasn’t very nice to Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke. So for him to render here like this, in her crowning moment, is pretty cool. It’s almost a sense of justice for the character. Though ironically, the issue was more about Jason Todd than Barbara herself.

Issue #45 – Man-Bat’s Close Up

Oddly enough, I remember not liking this one when it came out. It’s so damn gruesome and detailed. Look at the nose. The ears. The fangs.

But of course, that’s the point, isn’t it? There aren’t a lot of epic Man-Bat covers. But this one definitely fits the bill.

This one also has a great Universal monster movie vibe to it. Between the lighting from below, the positioning of the head and neck and the wide-eyed expression, it brings to mind the promotional art for the original Wolfman or Mummy movies.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

 

Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt: Martin Short and…Grandma Winslow???

***Dan Schoening’s art is filled with delightful Easter Eggs and winks. Here at “Dan Schoening Easter Egg Hunt,” we shine a fresh light on things you might have missed the first time around.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

This hidden gem comes to us from 2014’s Ghostbusters #14, and the wedding of Winston Zeddemore. The boys in gray are about to face the heart-wrenching wrath of Tiamat. But in the meantime, Winston has some really interesting wedding guests.

I’ve always remembered this panel because Schoening slipped in, of all people, Rosetta Lenoire. Modern audiences know her best as Grandma Winslow from Family Matters. And low and behold, there she is in her Family Matters get-up. It somehow makes sense, doesn’t it? On the show, her son was Chicago Police Officer Carl Winslow. Carl was, of course, played by Reginald VelJohnson. VelJohnson also had a small speaking role as a prison guard in Ghostbusters. If you know enough to connect the dots, that’s an epic ’80s reference.

Then it was pointed out to me that standing next to her is Frank Eggelhoffer, Martin Short’s character from Father of the Bride. Yeah, I had no idea on that one. Makes me think I need to go back and watch that movie again.

And because we needed another ’90s reference, Schoening threw Roland from Extreme Ghostbusters in as well. Happy to see the team at IDW giving that show some love. Highly underrated, in my view.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Alex Ross on YouTube

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I didn’t even know Alex Ross had an official YouTube channel until just recently. But I stumbled upon it not long ago, and hit the subscribe button. But it was only today that I really got to dive into it and absorb some of the content on there.

If you’ve ever read Mythology: The Art of Alex Ross, which I absolutely adore, you’ll find the channel covers much of the same ground. It’s Ross being interviewed about his creative process, his inspirations, his journey as an artist, etc.

Particularly interesting for yours truly, even as someone already in his 30s, was listening to Ross talk about his early days trying to become a working artist. Whether you’re an artist or not, you can take a lot of what he says and apply it to your craft. I liked this video in particular.

Ross also has a passion for the more classic and iconic versions of these characters, which is very much evident based on how he usually draws them. He also has tremendous insight into who these characters are at their core. Case in point, the vids below.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Panels of Awesomeness: The Walking Dead #162

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

CREATORS: Charlie Adlard (Pencils), Stefano Gaudiano (Inks), Cliff Rathburn (Gray Tones)

THE SCENE: Thousands of zombies plod toward Alexandria.

WHY IT’S AWESOME: The Walking Dead isn’t doin’ much for me these days. They’re shaking up the status quo by introducing a new community and a bunch of new characters. But for yours truly, it’s hard to avoid a sense of “been there, done that.”

This week I got to thinking about the last time the series really wowed me. The above two-page spread from The Walking Dead #162 jumped out almost immediately.

Whether you call them zombies, walkers, roamers, or something else entirely, after all these years it can be pretty easy to take these things for granted. By this point in the series it’s been so long since the outbreak that the characters have, by and large, learned to cope with the presence of the undead in their day-to-day lives. We’ve seen them stabbed, shot, and maimed in so many different ways. At times they almost become an afterthought.

From a story perspective, an easy way to deal with that is to just throw in lots of them. Naturally, The Walking Dead has done this a bunch of times. A big group is usually called a horde. But that word doesn’t quite cut it here, does it? Rick actually sums it up the best…

One of the elements that makes this image so amazing is its depth. It just goes on…and on…and on. We start out with our typical level of gory and shadowy detail in the foreground. Then as we move further into the shot, you can literally count the heads. Until you can’t. It just becomes a blur of decaying flesh and bone.

What seals the deal and really makes this image horrifying is our looker on the left. The backs of a bunch of people’s heads aren’t scary at all. Especially if the threat is moving away from you. But that one straggler is looking out at the reader. He’s looking at you. He sees you. His eyes, dead as they may be, make you a part of the scene. They allow you to feel a piece of that abject terror our heroes do. With one raspy grunt and a turn, he can start a domino effect that can bring that entire ocean of the dead crashing down on you. Note that there’s one walker on the right hand side whose eye we can see just slightly. There’s your second domino.

Ironically, even in an ocean of the dead, it’s still the little things that scare us the most.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.