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Posts Tagged ‘Marv Wolfman

I was catching up on Crisis on Infinite Earths tonight when I noticed this lovely Easter Egg. As a big Trekkie, and a fan of The Wrath of Khan in particular, this panel made me very happy.

It’s worth noting that Marv Wolfman actually wrote the Marvel Super Special comic adaptation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture in 1979 and edited the first 20 issues of DC Comics’ Star Trek from 1984 to 1985 (and doing sporadic color work thereafter) while George Perez did the covers for the first three issues of the DC Comics run.

Speaking of Wolfman and Perez, don’t forget that The New Teen Titans Omnibus Volume 1 is out today! I’m broke, but green with envy over all you who purchase it (insert your own Beast Boy joke here).

Happy readings!

-Jonny

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Even if you’ve never read or seen 2001: A Space Odyssey, chances are pretty good you know about HAL 9000 and his shenanigans. Something you probably didn’t know, however, was that it apparently took place on Earth-616.

“What the hell are you talking about?” asked the entire Internet.

Well, from 1976 to 1982, Marvel would occasionally release comic book adaptations to TV shows and movies written and illustrated by some industry heavyweights under the banner “Marvel Treasury Special.” The first book to carry this banner was the 84-page 2001: A Space Odyssey, written and drawn by Jack Kirby (released a full 8 years after the film’s release).

In December 1976, Kirby began writing a ten-issue limited series also called 2001: A Space Odyssey which expanded on the story a bit. July 1997’s 2001: A Space Odyssey #8, tells the story of Dr. Oliver Broadhurst’s experiments regarding artificial life. After a bunch of his robots suffer existential crises and lash out, General Joeseph Kragg orders him to destroy the whole lot. Unbeknownst to him, fellow scientist Abel Stack has stolen robot X-51 (aka Aaron Stack aka Mister Machine aka Machine Man) and is in the process of removing his self-destruct mechanism when the flip is switched, killing Abel. The military shows up and captures X-51, but he is immediately freed and granted sentience by one of those big monolith things. The rest of the limited series is all about X-51 running away from Kragg’s men, ending in September 1977.

But Kirby wasn’t done yet. April 1978 saw the release of Machine Man #1, continuing the story of X-51 evading Kragg. In issue #4, Earth gets invaded by an alien robot named Ten-For (Kirby loved him some alien invasions) and X-51 jumps in and defeats him. Kragg decides that X-51 isn’t that bad a robot after all and, by the books cancellation with December 1978’s Machine Man #9, they were BFFs.

In April 1979’s Incredible Hulk Vol 1 #234, Hulk’s buddy Trish Star gets kidnapped by a bunch of thugs, one of which is wearing a purple jumpsuit. Since Hulk is a blathering idiot, he immediately sets out to fight X-51 (proving that everything up till now takes place on Earth-616). Incredible Hulk #235-237 are standard “Hulk vs. Hero X” fare (couple issues of fighting and then everybody walks away).

After the conclusion of that storyline, Marvel renewed the Machine Man series under Marv Wolfman and Steve Ditko with August 1979’s Machine Man #10. Dr. Broadhurst attempts to repair the damage caused by Hulk and, in doing so, takes away all of X-51’s offensive weapons. Tom DeFalco took over for Marv Wolfman with issue #15 and immediately started integrating more Marvel characters into the title. The series ended with February 1981’s Machine Man #19 (which was also first appearance of Jack O’Lantern and had a pretty rad Frank Miller cover).

X-51 made a couple other appearances including Marvel Two-In-One #92-93, in which he falls in love with Jacosta juuuust in time for her to get blown up by Ultron. Later, in March 1983’s Invincible Iron Man Vol 1  #168. After Obediah Stane beats Iron Man in the previous issue, Tony Stark has gone back to drinking. Just as Tony reaches shit-faced levels of drunkenness, X-51 shows up to ask for help. Tony’s immediate reaction is suiting up and beating the crap out of X-51.

In January1988’s The Avengers Vol 1 #287, X-51 is told by Fixer that Jacosta will be resurrected if he fights against the Avengers alongside a bunch of other robots. Of course, Fixer is screwing with him, and by issue #290 he’s switched sides. Later, he helps out again in Avengers: West Coast #83 and becomes a reserve member.

Nothing really happens until Cable and Machine Man Annual 1998 and Bastion and Machine Man Annual 1998, in which he helps the X-Men fight Bastion and accidentally ends up full of Sentinel technology. In August 1999’s Uncanny X-Men #371, SHIELD agents capture Machine Man with the intention of using parts of him to create Deathlok. They do, but in X-Men Annual 1999, Red Skull attacks the SHIELD helicarrier housing Machine Man. He saves the day but is seemingly destroyed in the process.

He’s not. In September 1999’s X-51 #1, a federal agent named Jack Kubrick (subtle!) tries to beat the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in recovering X-51’s head. Mystique decapitates Kubrick, but his headless body picks up the head of X-51 and puts it on his own shoulders. He spends the next few issues fighting off the Hellfire Club, learning about his new powers (specifically, self-repairing nanobots), and dealing with the fact that the Sentinel technology gives him the urge to kill mutants. In X-51 #7, X-51 gets blown up in a gas station explosion and, when his nanobots piece him back together, he’s completely purged of Sentinel technology. The series ends with July 2000’s X-51 #12, where the Celestials (another Kirby creation) send down a big black monolith (full circle!) and whisk X-51 off into space.

He next pops up in March 2006’s phenomenal Nextwave: Agents of HATE #1, written by Warren Ellis. It is revealed that the Celestials didn’t actually take too kindly to X-51 (“You are total ☠☠☠☠”), and dump him back on Earth. Upon his return, he develops a cynical attitude towards humans and a taste for beer. joins up with Monica Rambeau, Tabitha Smith, Elsa Bloodstone, and Captain ☠☠☠☠ and battles their former boss, Dirk Anger, and his  Broccoli Men.

In October 2007’s Ms. Marvel Vol 2 #18, he joins her new Initiative team, Operation: Lightning Storm, but that group disbanded in Ms. Marvel Vol 2 #27.

Aside from these appearances, Machine Man has popped up in some non-canon places. Aside from being the main protagonist of both Marvel Zombies 3 and Marvel Zombies 5, he also got a limited series in 1984 written by Tom DeFalco. It took place in an alternate future on Earth-8410 but,despite being extremely boring, was extremely popular.

So, yeah. From 2001: A Space Odyssey to Marvel Zombies. Everything you ever wanted to know about a character you never asked to know anything about.

While some of the adaptations were awesome (the Roy Thomas/Howard Chaykin Star Wars), some were far from it (the Tom DeFalco/Win Mortimer Annie).

How have I never seen this before? DC Challenge seems like it’d be so far up High Five’s alley, I’m pretty sure it has to buy us breakfast in the morning. Check it.

According to legend (or the back pages of issue one, whichever), Len Wein, Gerry Conway, Marv Wolfman, Mark Evanier, Bill Rotsler, and Bill Warren all ended up piss-drunk at some Marvel party at the Executive Hotel during 1983’s San Diego Comic Con. Describing it as a “sauna,” they all retreated to the roof to air out a bit. While up there, Evanier suddenly came up with the idea for a year long round-robin style maxiseries between eleven DC writers and twelve DC artists, announced it, and got the ball rolling. By the time security showed up and kicked them off the roof, Dick Giordano had approved the project and the order of collaborators was set: Evanier, Wein, Doug Moench, Paul Levitz, Mike Barr, Elliot Maggin, Paul Kupperberg, Conway, Roy Thomas, Dan Mishkin, and Marv Wolfman (with Cary Bates) would write while such DC greats as Carmine Infantino, Gil Kane, Dave Gibbons, Giordano, Don Heck, Curt Swan, Keith Giffen, George Perez and others (goddamn!) would tackle the art.

Finally, the rules were established. Each issue would end in a near impossible cliffhanger (or five) that the next author would have to figure out how to fix. The previous author would also get to name the next issue, which would have to tie in at some point. Meanwhile, the two writers couldn’t talk to each other about the project at all. Considering that this book was pretty much a gigantic experimental exercise in comic writing, the authors started getting just plain sadistic trying to fuck each other over with titles such as “If This is Love, Then Why Do My Teeth Hurt?” and “If There’s a Hole in Reality, Is Life a Cosmic Donut?”

Writers could use any characters from the DCU with the exception of any they were writing for at the time. This led to a ton of awesome rarely-used Golden and Silver Age characters popping up such as the Space Cabby, Darwin Jones, Son of Vulcan, and Woozy Winks. Considering that between it’s conception in 1983 and it’s actual release starting in November 1985, that whole Crisis on Infinite Earths thing started making this so non-canon. As a matter of fact, this really kind of helped make DC Challenge a send off to the multiverse.

So, what’s it all about? Well, that’s a bit of a clusterfuck. A race of aliens known as the Moltanians discover that when they die their souls inhabit the bodies of demons in the netherworld. A Moltanian named Bork started the Black Counsel, whose intention was to transport the demons to both Rann and Earth, where the “fabric of reality is much thinner” (thanks to a half-melted Darkseid, apparently). The Guardians of the Universe try their damnedest to prevent it and end up hiring another Moltanian named Kaz to fix everything. Easy enough, right?

Yeah, not really. They try to fix shit by sending a bunch of the heroes to different periods in time where they think they’ll do better. Instead, the Nazis find a spaceship sent back with the Blackhawks and win World War II. Uh, hooray?

As a whole, this book suffers from that old adage “too many cooks in the kitchen.” In theory, yeah, having all these well known writers and artists on one project would be totally awesome! In practice, you get “We Are the World.” In the back of the last issue, DC Challenge‘s Robert Greenberger summed it up when he muses about how “Amazing Heroes says we’re exploitive and Comic’s Journal complains we don’t make any sense.” No shit, it doesn’t make any sense! I mean, how does Aquaman hydrate himself after getting trapped in the middle of the Sahara Desert?

Delicious, delicious vulture juice.

Granted, this book is an interesting (albeit accidental) bookend to the pre-Crisis DCU. Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like the finished product was as glorious as intended by those drunken rooftop comic writers. It does raise the question, though: What would happen if DiDio went ahead and gave the okay to a DC Challenge 2?

Oh, right. “We Are the World 25 for Haiti.”

spiderwoman1I got to open a Christmas present in October this year; Rob picked up Spider-Woman #1 (Volume One, not the new Bendis run) for me at Long Beach Comic Con. (Thanks Rob!) I finally opened it tonight, thinking “This was written in 1978, it’ll be cheesy enough to lovingly mock, right?”

Turns out, not so much. This issue? Kind of great. Dated, yes, but dated by aesthetic rather than absurdity. I’d love to see this book redone, using the same script, with a modern artist against a modern backdrop. But can we keep the cheesy ads? Sometimes I get a little sick of “got milk?” and Honda getting up in my face every few pages.

Gee, I always wanted to be a locksmith!

Gee, I always wanted to be a locksmith!

What really gets me about this is the “Do Real Jobs” line. Really? Just who the hell sponsored this ad? Apparently, someone from New Jersey. Jeezus Marvel, were you so hard up you needed to let the mob buy adspace?

So, basically...make yourself a stoner mobile?

So, basically...make yourself a stoner mobile?

You know; Orange, CA is pretty much the next town over from me. I wonder if these guys are still in business? I think learning how to upholster my Saturn with some sweet velour or something is definitely the best idea I’ve had all week. I wonder if I could fit a disco ball in there…

FREE EXAMINATION!

FREE EXAMINATION!

Yeah, so your poem “Dinos are Awesome” is pure genius, kid. Now, if you’ll just send us $500 we’ll press it onto a record and you’ll be a star in NO TIME! But don’t worry, you can afford it!

SEE?

SEE?

“Loads of mystery & fun?” Actually, kids, this is a great way to meet your favorite superheroes! Just make lots and lots of bills with your super-awesome machine, then start using your REAL DOLLAR BILLS to buy stuff! (Allright, I know it’s just a magic trick, but still! If I were a little kid, I’d totally be thinking, “Oh man! I can turn all my shitty $1 bills into $5 bills! What a great machine!”)

No words.

No words.

Admit it, your mind went there. Pardon me while I go giggle uncontrollably.

When I was a kid comics still had a few ads like these, but by and large mail order scammers have moved onto baiting you over the internet with a THIRTY DAY FREE TRIAL that you’ll end up paying $49.99 a month for. Still, I seem to have given myself an artificial nostalgia for the comic book ads of yore, if for no other reason than the fact that they’re freaking hilarious.

The one thing I wish the Big Two would bring back? Features like this one by Marv Wolfman, who penned the issue. Click on it! I made it big enough for you to read, because it’s fascinating.

Marv Wolfman on Jessica Drew, 1978

Marv Wolfman on Jessica Drew, 1978

Of course, we’ve got the INTARWEBS now, and print is dead and blah blah blah, but there was just something about the fan mail and the columns from the authors and editors that made reading a single issue an experience, you know? Sure, I was only alive for the tail end of that era, but sometimes I wish my comics were a little more interactive offline. BOOM! has some great features in the back of their issues, James Robinson is doing some cool stuff with his essays in Cry for Justice, and of course there’s always DiDio’s “DC Nation” – but overall the industry has gotten away from engaging readers socially in print. Luckily, the trade off is that you get more STORY in any given issue, and I wouldn’t give that up for anything.

You don't even have a BACK!

Except maybe this.


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