Hey, Mom! Talking to My Mother #624 - My Oldest - A collection of comic books - part one
So, I am recovering from this terrible virus that caught me in its jaws rather firmly.
Recuperation tactics: rest, fluids, and comic books. (Okay, also Motrin, Chinese Food, and puppies.)
It's not that I just read comic books when I am ill. I read them every day. Rarely does a day go by that I don't read at least one comic book. Today, in recovery, I re-read all the Revival trade paper backs and then read the new one before bed.
Anyway, comics make me feel good. They are part of a comforting world, despite problems I may have with their messages or depictions of people from different cultures or genders. Though, they are improving. I am working on a new post about Spider-Man's recent comment about racist messages in comics, but it's not ready yet, so, since I am a day behind, here's this post.
I have been working on this post for a while. I started collecting bits of the T-shirts blog that featured my oldest comic books (for which I made a category). I thought I could get this all in one post, but as I saw how huge it all grew, I trimmed. And then, I trimmed again to just this five entries: Batman (Detective Comics), the Fantastic Four, Flash, Superman, and Hawkman.
Enjoy. This is show and tell.
I do not remember much about the story, and it would take me a long time to track down the actual issue in all the boxes; the issue itself is almost complete destroyed because it has been read so many times and handled by a small child (me).
It's a Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino issue. I wrote about Infantino during the earliest days of this blog (T-shirt #20) because he passed away. Since this is my first comic book, Infantino was the first comic book artist I knew.
I loved this issue to death, and the nature of this story with its tricky series of traps. A brilliant storyteller, Gardner Fox's work had a profound effect on my own sensibilities and ideas about story telling as a young person.
The Cluemaster is a very silly villain. I mean, why would you want to taunt the super hero trying to catch you by leaving CLUES. Well, unless you're crazy like a loon as most of Batman's villains are.
The again, what do you expect of a former GAME SHOW HOST turned villain.
I would keep an eye on Drew Carey if I were you.
Okay, safe to read here. If it's not entirely clear, I am a huge fan of The Fantastic Four. The transformations of these characters after their trip into space was both exciting and horrifying. Though the dreams of every child comic book reader were filled with the ways in which a serendipitous accident would confer super powers to the dreamer, the story of these four also warned of the dangers. Though Sue, Reed, and Johnny could pass form "normal" when not using their powers, Ben Grimm was forever changed, trapped in that hideous orange rock body. He did not even have the luxury of hiding his monstrosity like the Angel in the X-Men who bound his wings in a special harness worn under regular street clothes or Bruce Banner, who managed times of respite and normalcy, as long as he remained calm, between bouts of being the Hulk. The Thing also established the greatest theme of Marvel Comics' early years, the tragedy and angst of the New Wave of super heroes, more complicated versions of their counterparts from the 1940s and 1950s. Reed Richards carried the guilt of causing his best friend's seemingly irreversible transformation, though they would both seek transformation all the time, a "cure," which may not be the best thing after all (and never was each time they found a way) as Ben Grimm always returned to being the Thing without the chance to pass for normal. Though Reed was tormented by guilt, Ben Grimm's anger and pain were much more of a driving force for the stories of The Fantastic Four for most of the 1960s and 1970s.
My first Fantastic Four comic book made this motif abundantly clear. I started my reading of Fantastic Four in December of 1967 with issue #69. Looking over the next twenty issues or so, I would estimate that The Fantastic Four was definitely my favorite comic book as I have more of those early issues from 1967-1970 than any other comic book.
The Fantastic Four try to fight Ben and subdue him, for his own safety, as the New York police call in the Air Force to take him out.
In a cover that harks back to King Kong, Kirby does some of his best and most dynamic art work and story telling as Jack Kirby was the driving force behind the excellence of The Fantastic Four comic.
Not only did this comic inspire me for its story and compelling art, but it cemented my FF fandom already fueled by the 1967 cartoon (see ad farther below) from Hanna Barbera.
Also, this issue is my first Marvel Comic -- as my first ever comic book was a DC publication -- opened up a whole new world to me of Mighty Marveldom as I began to enjoy the writing of Stan's Soapbox and began drooling over ads for Mighty Marvel T-shirts (see image below). I was entranced by Marveldom and wanted my own No Prize in the Mighty Marvel Manner. I was a REAL FRANTIC ONE from then on.
Examining the run of issues in that time period, this may be one of the few cases, especially at such a young age that I bought the next issue (#70) of a comic (as I rarely bought consecutive issues back then) as well as seven of the next ten issues (72, 74, 76, 77, 78,79, and 80).
In December of 1967, I was five about to turn six years old. I was just learning to read. My father (and sometimes my mother) was still reading to me before bed. Often my choices were comics, often I chose THIS and these other Fantastic Four comics. My world and the world of the comics were the same: they were both all about family, all about having a HOME to share with family. And love. Love for each other, love for family, love for the home and the security it provided.
To the left is Ben's final vow to "get" Richards for his betrayals as this story was continued in the next issue.
Check out this art in the page below (page 12) from issue #69. This is some of Kirby's best work. In fact, I would argue that Kirby's work from issue one of Fantastic Four through when he left the book in issue 102 is the best and most fertile period of the Fantastic Four and some of Kirby's best work in comics. Kirby really begins to hit his stride with issues around #s 20-30, and he begins the most classic period of FF history with issue 48, "The Coming of Galactus," truly establishing the comic by it's subtitle: "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine!" But then, the long story arc starting with issue #68 and moving through the second coming of Galactus, Doctor Doom stories, Ben in space as a prisoner of a War Games despot, culminating in issues with the Frightful Four, the Inhumans, and the mega-battle issue 100 are some of the most amazing work in all of Marvel Comics history!!
I was inspired to select the Flash shirt for today's shirt not only because I love the Flash insignia but also because of the recent death of one of the greatest and most influential of artists who worked on the Silver Age Flash: Carmine Infantino. My friend Charles Skaggs, who writes the blog Damn Good Coffee... and Hot!, wrote an excellent post on the death of Infantino that can be read here:
THE FLASH's Carmine Infantino Passes at 87.
My parents purchased an issue of the Flash for me as one of my earliest comic books. I am including two covers here. I am not sure which issue I owned first, but these are definitely my first two Flash comics. Given that 177 comes before 180, it's likely that the "big head" issue was my first Flash comic, though in the old days some back issues could be found lingering in racks and shelving units at the grocery store or drug store, and it's possible that I was given 180 first or both together. Flash #177 was published in 1968 when I was six years old. I received my first comic in 1966 at the age of four, but that's a story for another time (see above and my description of Detective Comics #351).
I love the Flash because the Flash is cool. I won't render a complete biography replete with descriptions of all the characters to assume the mantle of the Flash. Those who are interested can check the Wikipedia page for the Scarlet Speedster. Wikipedia is actually quite a good source for basic information about things, especially comic book related matters. And OMG! I just found the DC WIKI DATABASE. WOW!! I am having a geek overdose.
It has been a long time since Superman comics graced the top of my stack of comics for the week. I feel this statement deserves explanation, so you know what I mean. Each week, when I bring the new comics home from the comic shop, I put the new comics into the stack of comics that I am currently reading. There are ALWAYS comics already in the stack. I have never cleared out the stack from the previous week, though I do make substantial progress on days when I take time off to relax and read a couple of dozen comics in one lounging. I prioritize comics I want to read IMMEDIATELY first, and these go to the top of the stack. Current faves that go straight to the top of the stack are (in no meaningful order) The Walking Dead, The All New X-Men, The Age of Ultron, Daredevil, Aquaman, Justice League, Fantastic Four, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers, Uncanny Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, Hawkeye, and several more that probably do not leap to mind right now. See? No Superman.
1986 was different. John Byrne's issues graced the top of my stack every week. Not long ago, I enjoyed the run of All-Star Superman. I liked Jim Lee on Superman. I like JMS's run on Superman. And as I have already written in my FreakAngels post #22, I was a big fan of the Team Superman Group-think concept of interlocking issues creating one continuing story of weekly installments despite how many die hard comics fans detested those years (1991-2000ish). Though I do not count Superman even in my top ten of favorite all time heroes, unlike Bill Artis who sells me comics at Fanfare Sports and Entertainment (who is the single biggest Superman fan I know), I do have some Superman love in my deeper past.
Superman #194: "The Death of Lois Lane."
ASIDE: Damn, I love the DC comics Wikia.)
This excellent What If story was a great one to start my Superman reading as a child of five years of age. But most of my fond memories of childhood love of Superman are for Superboy and his adventures with the Legion of Superheroes, a future superhero club that I thought was a really cool concept. I also was very influenced by Alan Moore's Superman stories, especially the one from Superman Annual #11 featuring the classic "For the Man Who Has Everything" story.
This shirt in today's blog entry displays the main image from the Death of Superman storyline in 1992. This story seemed like more of a novelty at the time. These days it seems like crossovers and big events are continuous and overlapping with many running at the same time. Back in 1992, big events seemed less frequent, maybe just once a year, and did not seem redundant. I do not recall the comic companies trying a big death of a main hero event before the Death of Superman. Granted, DC Comics killed the Flash in 1985, but this was hardly a main event with a huge crossover mini-series. Without doing any research, I do not recall any major superhero death event before the huge (and I do mean HUGE) Superman death event in 1992. The story was so pivotal it inspired me to buy the shirt featured here because to that point I did not own a Superman shirt, not even as a kid (unless my parents will tell me differenly).
NOTE: With some quick research, I find that the Death of Robin pre-dates this death of Superman by a couple of years (1988-89):
I must admit that I am one of the few people on the planet who actually liked the 2006 Bryan Singer film, Superman Returns, with the exception of yet what I consider another failed depiction of Lex Luthor despite the acting talents of Kevin Spacey. I am looking forward to the new film by Zack Snyder. I have liked the way DC has tried to make Superman more gritty, though the stories have failed to intrigue me enough to reach the top of the weekly stack; though do not get me wrong, I am reading both Action Comics and Superman each month or eventually when several issues clog up my stack. Maybe, if DC really wants to re-vitalize the character, the company should consider killing him and leaving him dead for 24 years. It worked for the Flash.
- chris tower - 1304.21 - 11:21
T-shirt #49: Hawkman or Wings are Cool
Super-heroes with wings = cool.
The Angel, the Falcon, Dawnstar, Birdman, Man-Bat, Bumblebee, Red Raven, and Stingray among others.
Wings are cooler than big capes, though big capes are a close second (Doctor Strange and Batman being two of the coolest cape-wearers... though some people would add SPAWN to this list).
These loves, like a love for capes, all originate in childhood play. Toys with wings are very cool because flight simulation play is a very natural tendency, especially for boys. Freud linked flight dreams with sex, but then Freud linked everything with sex. There may be something to Freud's theories, but I think they may be outmoded. Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s, I spent a lot of time simulating flight, thinking about flight and even wearing capes. (Big surprise.) I do not consider these cape wearing play times to be based in sex fantasies. These were flight fantasies. I wanted to fly. Besides, the futurists and science fiction writers promised that by 2013 (and possibly much sooner), we would all have our own jet packs and flying cars.
WHERE'S MY DAMN JET PACK?
So, this all brings me to Hawkman. Today, I am wearing my Hawkman shirt, ordered before I started this blog but purchased since the blog began. And though the picture does not represent the color well, it is a very gorgeous golden color, another yellow-gold shirt for spring.
I am not sure that I am ready to make a top ten or top twenty superhero list yet (though this kind of categorization is partly what this blog is all about), but I am ready to make a distinction about my love for certain Silver Age DC heroes. Loving Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman is kind of taken for granted. I really loved the secondary heroes who were featured less often, such as The Flash (T-shirt #20), Deadman (T-shirt #43), The Atom, Adam Strange, Elongated Man, Phantom Stranger, Red Tornado, the Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, and Hawkman.
Part of what makes DC comics confusing for many readers is the mixed up history. For a long time, Marvel was more linear and simplified by comparison, though this is no longer true. Hawkman is a good case study in DC's ongoing continuity entanglements with its characters as there are multiple versions of Hawkman to choose from. The good news is that they all have wings. And wings are cool.
Hawkman started out as Carter Hall debuting in Flash Comics #1 in 1940. American archeologist Carter Hall is the reincarnation of an ancient Egyptian Prince Khufu killed with his consort Chay-Ara (Shiera Sanders, aka Hawkgirl) by the priest Hath-Set.
Later, when DC rebooted its Golden Age characters in the Silver Age in the early 1960s, Hawkman becomes Katar Hol, an imperial prince from the planet Thanagar who becomes a member of the the planet's Hawk-Police that leads him (and his wife/partner, Shayera Thol, aka Hawkgirl and later, more appropriately, Hawkwoman) to earth tracking a Thanagarian criminal. Katar underwent another reboot in 1989 with the prestige series Hawkworld by Timothy Truman, followed by the Hawkman volume 3 series that ran until 1996. DC has once again rebooted Hawkman with the New 52. Hawkman is now just Carter Hall, but it has yet to be established if he is an alien Thanagarian or a reincarnated Egyptian.
My first introduction to Hawkman came in the early issues of Justice League and then Hawkman #24, published in February/March 1968, featuring two stories among my favorites from those early comics: "The Robot Raiders from Planet Midnight" (isn't that the best title ever?) and "The Man Who Grew Wings."
I am reading the current Hawkman comics, even though I am not enjoying them as much as most of the other New 52 titles. Still, Hawkman has wings. And wings are cool.
FINAL NOTE: The toy comes from the excellent series Kingdom Come created by Mark Waid and Alex Ross and published by DC Comics in 1996. According to Wikipedia: "Hawkman: Now a literal 'hawk-man', he has become a guardian of nature, though also referred to as an ecological terrorist. The story does not specify which version of Hawkman this is, apart from "combining the spirit of the old with the otherworldly flesh of the new", which suggests Carter Hall in the body of the post-Zero Hour "Hawkgod". He is killed in the nuclear blast" ("Kingdom Come (comics)," Wikipedia, 2013).
Did I mention that wings are cool?
- chris tower - thinking about flying - 1305.09 - 9:12
One drawing courtesy of Elvin Ching/ ZeroPointFive
Art by Elvin Ching
Posts about my oldest comics to be continued in part two to be posted some time soon...
Reflect and connect.
Have someone give you a kiss, and tell you that I love you.
I miss you so very much, Mom.
Talk to you tomorrow, Mom.
- Days ago = 626 days ago
- Bloggery committed by chris tower - 1703.22 - 10:10
NOTE on time: When I post late, I had been posting at 7:10 a.m. because Google is on Pacific Time, and so this is really 10:10 EDT. However, it still shows up on the blog in Pacific time. So, I am going to start posting at 10:10 a.m. Pacific time, intending this to be 10:10 Eastern time. I know this only matters to me, and to you, Mom. But I am not going back and changing all the 7:10 a.m. times. But I will run this note for a while. Mom, you know that I am posting at 10:10 a.m. often because this is the time of your death.