Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Follow the Leader: Episode 84: H.P. Lovecraft!

Martinex1:  Here we go... Follow the Leader! What is in store today?  Jump on and join in!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Short Cuts: Hard to Believe! Successful Comic Concepts that Challenged Your Acceptance!

Martinex1: Recently we have talked about our appreciated seriousness of comic book concepts (as well as the opposite lack thereof).  Today let's consider characters, situations, powers, gadgets, and predicaments that challenged your personal level of acceptance.   The suspension of disbelief is an important aspect of enjoying comic books, but what particularly successful concepts really were on the edge for you?  What "strange" things became relatively accepted in comic books, but you personally never really liked or struggled to appreciate fully.

I want to stick with successful and repeated particulars if possible (because there are just so many weird one-offs), but let's discuss and create a list of the things that just about annoy you enough to make you not buy a comic.

To get us started, here are an array of those types of things that give me pause.

CHARACTERS:   I always marveled that Fin Fang Foom was an accepted and acceptable archenemy of Iron Man.  The dragon always seemed like a stretch for me.  I don't particularly dislike the character, but he does make me scratch my head.   From his name to his pants, the villain is one that when I step back and look at it, he doesn't make a lot of sense.

Similarly, I have really come to enjoy the new Guardians of the Galaxy and the whacky team members.   But there is still something about Groot and Rocket Raccoon that screams "Silver Age Madness!" to me (even through Rocket is from the Bronze Age).   I have to give credit to the modern creators for making this work.  That is good writing and characterization if you can make me care about these characters.   But I still hesitate a bit.

GADGETS AND DEVICES:  I will probably generate a lot of debate and derision in the comments with this one, but I've always thought the Batmobile is just silly.

For some reason, I just cannot put it into the proper perspective.   How does it get built?  Can't it be tracked?   It is something that is so much a part of the Batman mythos, and because of that it actually had slowed my liking of the character.  Again, it seems like a very dated concept to me.

But if you think I am ripping on DC only, I will add that Reed Richard's Ultimate Nullifier is a complete contrivance.  And even certain uses of Spider-Man's webs leave me less than impressed.  
POWERS: Superman's X-Ray and Heat Vision! Ugh! Wonder Woman's Magical Lasso! Huh!
So what do you have to say?  Are there comic book concepts that challenge your acceptance?  And maybe you love them anyway?   Let's get the conversation started! Cheers!


Saturday, July 28, 2018

Be Our Guest Writer: Welcome to My Space ( no,not Myspace)...

Redartz:  Hello, Bronze Age Alumni! We have a treat today, a guest post from our esteemed friend Humanbelly, or HB as we know him. I've been considering a discussion of how we might set up our ideal comic / treasure room for protection and enjoyment; HB beat me to it! His narrative begins below; in Hulk-green type, of course. Many thanks, and a tip of the BitBA cap to you for your contribution; and now, take it away HB!

HB:  Too Much Exposition Dept:    So Teammates. . . Our basement does indeed have a Comic Book Room.   It is exists as eternal proof that I am married to the Best Wife In The World.  When we were house-hunting in the spring of 2000, we came across this place's open-house about an hour after an owner backed-out of the deal to sell us her house in the same neighborhood, leaving our spirits crushed.  Then we happened across this home, which proved to be SO much better and suited to our needs-- though more expensive.   When we got to the mostly-unfinished basement, there was this one finished room that had been claimed as a bedroom by the previous owners' rather difficult teenage son.  And out of nowhere ('cause the idea truly had never occurred to me) HBWife simply said, "This could be your comic book room. . . "

There was a brief out-of-body experience where the astral forms of Dr Strange and Professor X and Deadman clapped me on the back and gave me the high-sign, and then I returned to the mortal plane and muttered a calculatedly none-too-eager, "Well, sure-- that would be kind of nice, actually.  If you don't think we need it for anything more important. . . "--  and that's how we got a Comic Book Room!

Two things developed over the intervening years, though--

1) It very easily turned into a clutter-filled catch-all room-- especially for things like musical instruments and band equip't.  It also was my primary Christmas headquarters, and would get further trashed with every holiday season frenzy.   Keeping it in order always fell low on the ol' priority list.

2)  HUGE development:  It's a basement.  The room already had a musty carpet, which I then covered over with the salvaged carpet from our own old dining room (previous house).  And I never once thought about getting a de-humidifier.  So there's been about 18 years' worth of slowly accumulating dust/mold/mildew at work down there.  The air has been unpleasant for quite sometime, and last year I finally noticed that EVERYTHING had a thin surface film of dust-like mold on it.   Mind you, not the comics themselves, as they're all safely boxed, but the tons of accumulated "stuff" needed to be cleaned-- and in a few cases, pitched.   Beatles posters and some Z-grade cheap Marvel posters were done, period.

And so, that was this summer's early main project.  Clear EVERYTHING out. Get a de-humidifier running non-stop.  Wipe down/dis-infect/ clean every surface and every object.  I pulled up and threw out all of the carpet, and laid VCT tile (troweled adhesive, not self-stick).   Many beloved posters were salvaged, but had a bit of staining, so those were mounted on backing boards, covered w/ salvaged plexiglass (from my scene shop), and I fitted them with quick plain frames.  Then went about re-designing the room configuration into something more welcoming AND more practical.   There are a number of finishing touches to attend to-- but it's already MUCH more the Comic Book Room I'd imagined it to be, lo, those 18 happy years ago--!

Open the door, and there's a peek!   Lighting at the moment is cheap LED bulbs in the ceiling fixtures, so it does lend a bit of a harsh, institutional tone to the photos.  Better fixtures and shades anticipated.  

Looking at the west wall & telephone corner.   SO many old cartoon paperbacks, MAD pocket books, Andre Norton Sci-Fi from my youth; beloved old collection sets; Books about comics, etc, etc, on the shelves.

South wall. The couch was a LONG time ago used furniture purchase.  It contains a fold-out bed that should be banned by the Geneva Convention as a potential crime against humanity.   My youngest sister-in-law was a huge trouper for a few years, and would try to use it as an auxiliary 2nd guest room, and ultimately just slept on the couch itself (which is amazingly comfortable, tbh).  The black trunk-table has a wild anecdote or two attached involving me and HBSon and a Boston commuter rail train. . .    Note the Marvel 25th Anniversary poster from 1986----


Southeast "Hulk" corner (some call it The Shrine, but c'mon-- let's not go overboard. . . )  When first getting the room put together, I did have a bit of an ebay-frenzy looking for cool items to fill it up.  The Hulk Doritos stand-up was a particularly happy find.   But this corner is dominated by sentimental attachment far more than anything like collectibility.  Probably 85% of the Hulk toys and trinkets and "stuff" were given to me throughout my life by friends and family and even just acquaintances who knew how fond I was of the character.   And so they continue to have a place of priority in my heart. . . and in this little museum.   ALSO--  it's great how mounting almost anything under plexiglass and putting it in a frame lends it a sense of gravity and legitimacy--  makes it "important"--!   That shredded piece of purple fabric, framed near the ceiling?   It's my first Hulk t-shirt.  An iron-on transfer my Mom got me from a clothing outlet when I was in 7th grade.   I wore it to DEATH.  Outgrew it, and STILL wore it.   It's perpetually ended up in the rags-box or in the bottom of trunks and boxes. . .and I could never quiiiiite throw it away.  And am now delighted to give it a final position of prominence until it finally does get tossed out by those who proceed me in this mortal plane.   (I've been reading up on some Shakespeare-- preparing for a couple of auditions. . . )

And the north wall, where the storage shelves migrated to.   There are between 30 and 31 long-boxes there (some shorts mixed in)-- my entire personal collection, as well as a small chunk of HBGirl's personal childhood acquisitions that I'm holding onto for her.   And then a flippin' treasure trove of personal memories ranging from my own childhood (the GI Joe "SuperTeam" that I created at one point-- note the capes!) to my kids' (the 30 or so  enthusiastically-used Toy Biz 10" Marvel figures populating that center shelf, and the bound volumes of BLOOM COUNTY that HBGirl adores--), to the lunch-boxes that EVERYONE used at one point or another-- even a begrudging HBWife-- heh--.

And my thought to exit with--  While there are a number of treasures tucked into corners and spots of the room that you don't see here (FOOM poster; framed Avengers poster from the Bomber Jacket era; lots of doodads on the upper shelves, etc),    I've gotten to a happy point in my life where I recognize that the value of all of these trinkets and this stuff is definitely not monetary ('cause, heh, it's not worth a lot o' $$, despite the volume---), but in the fact that it brings me a unique joy--  a zillion little bits of association with happy memories and friends and family.   Items that catch the fancy, and bring a smile.  And other things that represent the thrill of the hunt that comes with being any kind of hobbyist/collector.    It's a cocoon of perpetual nostalgia that continues to move in tandem with the passage of time.   

And now it's mold-free--- whew!!


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Rank and File: The Year's Best Comic Stories, 1973!

Redartz:  Hi gang; ready for another survey of the best that comics have to offer? For today's installment, we go back to 1973, a very impressive comics year indeed. One I missed out on originally, as I was still reading exclusively Archies until 1974. But once I got the collecting bug, I picked up many of these and other gems from '73. 

As always, we make our selections based on books on sale between January and December 1973, cover dated Apr.73  to Mar.74. And now, in no specific order, here are my picks for the year's best:


The Shadow 1- "The Doom Puzzle" by Denny O'Neil and Micheal Kaluta. O'Neil and Kaluta revive the classic pulp character with this striking debut issue.

Marvel Premiere 14- "Sise-Neg Genesis" by Steve Englehart, Frank Brunner and Dick Giordano. The climax to an epic Dr. Strange story, to creation and back. And who knew that it would only get better, soon, in Doc's own title?


Savage Tales 2-  "Red Nails" by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor- Smith. The first half of perhaps the greatest Conan tale of all; a masterpiece. Windsor-Smith's art is a museum piece.


Avengers 117- "Holocaust" by Steve Englehart, Bob Brown and Mike Esposito. Marvel's first big crossover event, and it was a doozy. The first battle between Captain America and Sub-Mariner since the Golden Age, and that's only part of the book.


Plop! 1-  Various content by Sergio Aragones, Steve Skeates, George Evans, Sheldon Mayer, Bernie Wrightson, Frank Robbins and Alfredo Alcala. This wonderfully twisted humor book gets off to a great start with a fine lineup of top creators. Wonder if this book is collected anywhere...


Amazing Spider-man 122- "The Goblin's Last Stand" by Gerry Conway, Gil Kane and John Romita Sr.  So much has been written about this monumental issue, nothing I can say is very novel. But it turned the comics world upside down, and still packs a staggering punch all these years later. Plus, one of Mary Jane Watson's most powerful scenes ever.

Batman 251- "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge" by Denny O'Neil and Neil Adams. An instant classic; one of the best Joker stories in the long history of the Dark Knight. 


Defenders 10- "Breakthrough" by Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema and Frank Bolle. Okay, I know it's part of the Avengers/Defenders war already represented above. But hey, it's a different title, it's Hulk vs. Thor, it's a gargantuan tale, and it's my choice anyway...


Fantastic Four 141- "The End of the Fantastic Four" by Gerry Conway, John Buscema and Joe Sinnott. Man, it was a tough year in Gerry Conway's titles. Nevertheless, this story has enough action and drama for a year's worth of books. Annhilus is always cool, and that ending left me stunned the first time I read it.


Swamp Thing 7- "Night of the Bat" by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. Many issues of this run could have been chosen for this list, but this one is a favorite. Batman by Wrightson is certainly a perk, great story and beautifully moody art. But why did they have to kill the dog? 

Whew, as always, it's a tough call. There was a ton of great material that year; so you probably have some other suggestions to consider. Fair enough, let's hear from you!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Follow the Leader: Episode 83: The Vinyl Revival!

Martinex1: Last week there was a rousing repartee around remakes, reboots, referrals, and regrets thanks to the reasoned request from our regularly recurring responders! What will we get today as we Follow the Leader?

Monday, July 23, 2018

Short Cuts: Films that Floored You from the First !

Redartz:  Good day to one and all! Here's a quick, but fun, topic to mull over on this Monday. What film, or films, have you seen that absolutely KNOCKED YOU OUT from the start? You know how some movies start out slow, and take awhile to build up interest and momentum. Other films grab you by the shirt from the opening scene and never let you go. That's the kind we're looking for today. 

As for your humble host, one such film was "Raiders of the Lost Ark". I can still recall the experience of seeing it for the first time, with a college friend at the mall theater. That opening sequence with the pitfalls, traps, boulders, snakes and arrows had me shellshocked from the start. You can bet I was glued to the seat for the next two hours, and spent the rest of the evening raving about how incredible it was. That initial few minutes still stands as one of the best film beginnings ever. Lucas and Spielberg hit lightning with a hammer...

Now how about you? Any stellar starts, inspiring intros or overpowering openings? Pass the popcorn and let's share... 


Saturday, July 21, 2018

TV Guided: Faves, Raves, Picks, and Pans!

Martinex1: My BitBA partner Redartz regularly updates us on television series and other cultural events from back in the day.  Just a couple of days ago, our frequent commentators HB and Prowler challenged us to name programs we might remake or reboot.  All of that got me thinking about Bronze Age television.  What TV series were "must see" for younger you?  And which programs were "must avoid"?

So please highlight some shows for us that made an impression on you Back in the Bronze Age!  Focus on these specific genres but feel free to comment or expand on the topic as you see fit! Good, bad, excellent, or vomit inducing - comment on television when we just had an antenna and a handful of channels.

1) What was your favorite sitcom?  Which sitcom made your skin crawl?

2) What mystery or detective program rang your bell?  And which really left you cold?'

3) Did you have a favorite variety show?  And which seemed out of touch?

 4) How about action adventure or sci-fi?  There may be some leading contenders but what do you think?

5) How about any honorable mentions?  TV Movies? Mini-series?  What got your attention and what did not?  Share your TV feelings today!  

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Chew the Fat: Heroes from 'the Other Guys'...

Redartz:  Greetings, comics fans! We talk frequently and at length here at BitBA about our favorite heroes, titles, and companies. And mainly those discussions center around The Big Two, Marvel and DC. But those guys certainly don't have a total lock on heroic comics. In the Golden age, of course, there were many companies churning out comics with heroes and heroines, costumed and otherwise.  Indeed, some of those vintage characters ended up being absorbed by Marvel or (more likely) DC, such as Blackhawk and Captain Marvel. 

But we're talking Bronze age, so I'm going to narrow the focus to the Silver and Bronze (I doubt many of us were buying Doll Man or Lady Luck off the stands).  Even with that limitation,there are still many many characters whose adventures were told in beautiful newsprint over those fine eras. Charlton (Hong Kong Phooey, E-Man), Gold Key (Dr. Solar), and even Archie Comics (The Shield, Superteen and Pureheart the Powerful) offered numerous heroic titles. Some of those you will see in our cover cavalcade below. And not to ignore the 80's, when the indies started making some noise: several fine examples from those producers are represented as well (Joshua Quagmire's "Cutey Bunny" was a guilty pleasure of mine). Actually, pretty much every company making comics dipped a toe into the adventure hero pond (with the possible exception of Harvey Comics, unless you count Casper). 

So here's some familiar and not-so-familiar books from 'the other guys'. How many others can you come up with? Did you actually read / collect any of these? Which would you recommend, and which were best left for the dime bin (not even good enough for Marti's Quarter box)?  Have at it, all!

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