Friday Funny Pages: Nick Fury’s Favorite Shirt


Christ!  This week has really flown by.  Yard work, cleaning up old toys, and dressing as a viking (don’t ask) have really made time fly as it were.  Here it is, Friday already and time for another Friday Funny Pages!  Todays panel comes to us all the way from the 1960’s and Strange Tales #151.  This was the first issue for a young up and coming comic book artist named Jim Steranko!  Based on layouts by Jack Kirby and written by Stan Lee this issue was of course destined for greatest.  Jim Steranko would later go on to take over both the drawing and writing credits for the book, making Nick Fury into what he is today (Samuel L. Jackson?).

When I was searching through my comics for fodder for this segment this particular panel made me chuckle.  Out of context you see Nick Fury waking up after apparently being captured by HYDRA, and the first thing that springs to mind is “I needed them clothes!”  Not the fact that he’s trapped, captured, and surrounded by bad guys.  Though I guess the security deposit on a tux is pretty astronomical.  That’s exactly why James Bond doesn’t rent his tuxedos.

Anyway, of course the real reason he needed his clothes was due to the fact that they were lined with SHIELD crafted spy gear to assist him on his mission and without them he was going to have to rely on his wits to see the mission through, that is if he ever makes it out of HYDRAS glass box of death!  Will he?  Won’t he?  You’ll have to read the issue to find you!

Till next time dear readers!

That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: The Words You Thought You’d Never Read

This needs no explanation as to why I chose it for this weeks panel, and because I’m feeling lazy today I will offer none!  Bonus points to anyone who can tell me where this comes from, leave me a comment if you think you know the answer.

I’ll give you a hint, it was drawn by Steve Buscema.

That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: You Look Faaaabulous!

First off let me say happy April Fool’s Day!  Today is the day you can go out into the world and start punching people in the face or kicking them in the groin and as long as you yell “April Fools!” afterward it’s all okay, right?

Anyway, now let’s take a look at the great, great pair of panels we have here today.  This of course comes from the late, great Jack Kirby drawing one of the earliest Fantastic Four adventures.  What I find so hilarious about these panels is that in the first image he has just come up with this idea to make Alicia (his step-daughter) a doppelganger for the incapacitated Invisible Girl and mere “Minutes Later” he has been able to put together an FF uniform and a convincing blonde wig!  This of course implies that the Puppet Master’s mastery is not limited to puppets, but that he is also a master stylist and fashion designer as well!  If this super villain schtick doesn’t work out for you PM, you should think about opening a salon in Soho, those are very trendy at the moment.  Just saying, think it about it you sassy bitch! 

(Though it might help to cut back on the creep face while you have those scissors in your hands.)

That is all!

Friday Funny Pages: Of Course


     I have some really great panels coming up in this series, from a wide range of comic books and I have found that it is hard to choose which one to show when Friday morning comes around.  I chose this one this week because it features the Silver Surfer, a favorite character of mine and comes from one of the classic, if not campy, early Marvel events the Avengers/Defenders War.  Brought to you by Steve Englehart and Bob Brown the story is simple and reminiscent of many other Avengers tales.  In this crossover spectacle Loki teams up with Dormammu and under competing false pretenses tricks both super hero teams into gathering the components of a device known as the Evil Eye which will allow Dormammu to expand his Dark Dimension and overtake our plane of existance.

     This panel stuck out at me for several reasons.  First the way the Silver Surfer is portrayed with that odd, goofy expression of surprise.  Normally the Surfer is a very stoic, almost Spock-like character and he seems to only be drawn with the most extreme facial expressions in the pages of the comics.  If he’s not blank faced and neutral he’s either completely mopy and sad or shocked and horrified.  Here we of course have the latter.  Second are just the snippets of dialogue in this panel, it just exemplifies the ridiculous situations inheirent in comic book stories.  This panel deals with the Silver Surfer having no luck trying to find one of the parts of the Evil Eye on some remote island, until one of the natives asks if he is their volcano god.  Bingo!  Volcano!  This leads to an awesome battle between the Silver Surfer and the Vision, representing the Defenders and the Avengers respectively,  inside the crater of a volcano.  Which of course could have all been avoided had the ol’ Silver Surfer just checked the volcano, as anyone would do when searching for a mystic weapon of mass destruction.  Duh.

My Pop Culture Ups and Downs

So as I sit here today miserable from my stochastic allergies which have decided to strike, I think about some of the current trends in some of my favorite realms of geekdom, namely the Star Wars universe and Marvel comics.  There are some great things happening, which I am very excited about, as well as some things that I’m not at all happy about and which in fact slightly infuriate me.

First let’s talk about the good.  Star Wars.  My favorite sci-fi universe in film, television, and comics.  I can not get enough Star Wars, and thankfully things are on a major upswing for us loyal Lucasites.  There of course was a great deal of grumbling during the prequel years, some of it justified I will admit.  However one thing I will argue is that Uncle George is not the money hungry tyrant some fans make him out to be.  From everything I can tell he is an excitable story-teller who has a plethora of yarns to spin in the epic universe he has created, and he enjoys pushing the boundaries of film making especially in the special effects department.  Has George Lucas in the past pushed progress too much to the overall detriment of story?  Perhaps.  But that’s not what I’m getting at, the point I am making is that I believe George Lucas’ true strong suit lies in the production aspects of his projects, not in the directing chair.  His ability to guide the design and art teams that bring his projects to life is phenomenal, he has a vision and he is able to get that across.  He puts out great ideas and places the right people in charge to bring it about, with a guiding hand that does far more good from a distance, with all due respect to him. 

Well anyway such is the case with The Clone Wars series.  This show has been very surprising, and continues to bring out the best of the Star Wars universe even as it continues to expand the epic sci-fi landscape.  Initially I was rather upset by the continued riffing on the whole Clone Wars aspect of the movies.  I thought the Tartakovsky Clone Wars was great, and was a little peeved they were going to more or less do away with the events of that series in order to create this CGI weekly cartoon.  I was also a little annoyed that Lucas wasn’t focusing on the long-awaited live action Star Wars show which is to take place between Episode III and IV.  All that being said the Clone Wars is awesome.  Not only have the storylines continued to evolve and experiment with different genres and aspects of the Star Wars universe, but the animation and art of the show has really grown more detailed.  The characters have evolved and have gradually come closer to their appearances in Revenge of the Sith.  And of course everyone is interested to know just what will become of young Ahsoka Tano, apprentice of Anakin Skywalker.  Surely there isn’t enough time between Episodes II and III to fully train the padawan into a full Jedi Knight?  Mysteries abound.

At the same time however mysteries are being revealed.  In the second half of this third season of the Clone Wars (which I have yet to see any episodes of, I’m waiting for the DVDs) we will get two cameos from two major Star Wars personalities.  First in an upcoming two-part storyline we will run into Captain Tarkin, yes that Tarkin, future Grand Moff and head of the Death Star, Wilhuff Tarkin.  Then in the multi part season finale Ahsoka runs into everyones favorite wookiee, Chewbacca.  Frankly I think Chewie’s uncanny ability to have run-ins with major players in the galaxy at key moments is a bit overplayed, and though I am more eagerly anticipating the added screen time of Tarkin, this wookiee cameo is also a welcome one.  Anything that ties the prequels closer together with the original movies is ok in my eyes.  The love and breadth of understanding director Dave Filoni and his team have for the Star Wars universe is immense and I have respected their ability to interpret the galaxy far, far, away as they tell their new and exciting stories.

Captain Tarkin as he appears in the Clone Wars


Now onto the bad . . . .

Marvel comics, my first loyalty when it comes to comic books, seems to be losing some of their foresight when it comes to storytelling and strategizing for future book sales.  They recently snuffed the Human Torch, bringing the Fantastic Four down to three.  This attracted a small amount of media attention, but nowhere near the amount when Captain America was killed off.  Without pause I thought this was a stunt, pure and simple.  Captain America’s death was something special, quite epic, and with a great amount of expert buildup to the event as executed by the awesome Ed Brubaker.  I couldn’t even tell you who’s witting FF at the moment.  Granted I have been out of comics for a while, due to monetary restraints, but the point is this came out of left field.  There was no previous buzz about the current Fantastic Four story arc, no tremendous waves of fans flocking to the series like Brubaker brought back to Cap.  A stunt pure and simple.  Now I know that these stunts are expected regular occurences in comics, I get it, and some times they even work and make for a good superhero tale, but I think not here.  Here’s how I see it.  FF sales were slumping.  Sue Storm died in a one-shot alternate universe issue recently, so can’t kill her, too expected.  Thing died in the Straczynski run of FF, so can’t kill him again.  No one cares enough about Mr. Fantastic (except me, love that character), so “Hey!  Let’s kill the Human Torch!  Ok sure.”  Blamo, team shattering event that will change the FF forever (aka sell a few books.)  But wait that’s not all!  What do we do when a new book is introduced OR when an old book is slumping?  That’s right send in Spider-Man!  Just a few days after Johnny’s death Marvel announced Spider-Man would be rounding out the FF (which now stands for “Future Foundation?”)

Now Marvel tells us this death will bring about some good, exciting new storylines dealing with the ramifications of the Human Torches death.  They try to convince us this isn’t a stunt, but rather a needed sacrifice in order to tell great stories.  Ah, bullshit.  Stunt!  Stunt I say!  And here’s the proof!

Yeah that’s right Marvel clearly and loudly declares that they intend to kill more major characters in the coming months, all in the name of sales . . . . er, I mean, story telling and the creative process!  

Things like this work for creating storylines in team books like the X-Men.  When Jean Grey died there was a great deal to write about with that scenario.  But unlike the X-Men, the Fantastic Four is not a team, they are a family.  The comic is based on a static roster of four characters who the readers have come to enjoy and expect to see when you read the Fantastic Four.  Characters in team books, come and go all the time.  The Avengers are always knighting new members into their ranks, Chuck Xavier is replacing X-Men left and right.  The Fantastic Four however, is the Fantastic Four, and is not the same without the Invisible Woman, Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch.  The Fantastic Four don’t need stunts, they need good stories, and good adventures.  When I see something along these lines happen to a book such as this, I simply shake my head and think “Lazy writing.”  It’s always easier to take a chainsaw to a piece of wood then a pocket knife, but with the knife you can take your time and carve something cool to look at.

And PS they have just shown the first pictures of the FF + Spider-Man’s new costumes.  Awful.  That is all!

Ugh . . . .