Archive for comic books

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Original Ghost Rider (1949)

Posted in comic books, Frankenstein, Genres, Halloween, holiday, monsters, pop culture, Western with tags , , , , , , on October 26, 2017 by Paxton

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Everyone knows Ghost Rider. The flaming skull. The Hellcycle. Penance Stare. Hell, just last week I posted a Cavalcade Comics cover featuring the motorcycle riding demon fighting the Headless Horseman.  But did you know that Ghost Rider was originally a supernatural western hero?

Back in 1949, Magazine Enterprises was publishing a western comic called Tim Holt: Cowboy Star of the Movies.  In issue #11, a backup story was introduced featuring the ghostly first appearance of the Ghost Rider.

The story was written by Ray Krank and drawn by Dick Ayers. It told the origin of the Ghost Rider.  Rex Fury, aka the Calico Kid, is ambushed by renegade Indians.  He fights the attacking braves while saying classy things like this:

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It *was* 1949.  Anyway, the Indians’ numbers eventually overcome the Calico Kid and they throw him and his Chinese manservant, Sing-Song (I’m not even joking.  1949, guys.), into the “Devil’s Sink”, a bottomless whirlpool from which no one that has fallen in has ever returned.  Except Rex Fury.  After somehow washing up inside a hidden cave system, Rex decides to come back as the spectral Ghost Rider to fight crime and get the men who sent him to his watery grave.

Ghost Rider would appear in Tim Holt a few more times before, in 1950, getting his own title.

For this new title the character was again drawn by co-creator Dick Ayers. The first issue retold the character’s origin from Tim Holt #11 but with new art and an expanded story. This time they expanded on his time in the Devil’s Sink.  Instead of washing up in a hidden cave system, he enters something like the afterlife, or Purgatory.  While there he learns skills from famous Western heroes like Wild Bill Hickock, Calamity Jane, Kit Carson, etc so he can return to the living and fight evil.  They even give him the suit.

The title was a different type of Western and the Ghost Rider was a different type of Western hero.  The book was essentially a horror title.  The stories pitted our hero against a motley assortment of ghosts, monsters, cursed treasure, witches, and demons.

I’ve read a few issues of this title and there are some fun issues. Ghost Rider even manages to meet another of my AWESOME-tober-fest theme monsters, Frankenstein.  In issue #10.

The character was a big hit for Magazine Enterprises for nearly a decade until the company went bankrupt. In 1967, after the trademark on the character had expired, Marvel Comics released their own almost exact copy of the character in his own title written by Roy Thomas and again drawn by Dick Ayers.

Unfortunately Marvel stripped out all of the horror and supernatural elements and made Ghost Rider a more traditional western gunfighting hero.  Several years later, after Marvel introduced their motorcycle riding demon version of Ghost Rider, they renamed this Western character Phantom Rider.  Phantom Rider would team up with the new Ghost Rider several times for Marvel.

For Halloween a few years ago I did a Cavalcade Comics cover featuring a meet up of the Original Ghost Rider and the New Ghost Rider.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (2014)

Posted in comic books, monsters, pop culture, witches with tags , , , , , , on October 23, 2017 by Paxton

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Here we are, the home stretch of AWESOME-tober-fest 2017. Usually, for the last week run up to Halloween I’ll do what’s called “Greatest Hits” articles where I’ll revisit previous topics I’ve done before like Dracula, werewolves and Frankenstein.  However, this is the 10th year so I thought I’d do something different.  This week, I’m covering things I’ve not yet had a chance to cover for AWESOME-tober-fest.  Things I’ve always wanted to cover.  Things like witches, Bigfoot and the Devil.  So, let’s get started with a topic that I very nearly used the last two years.  Witches.

Today for witches, I decided to cover the Archie horror comic, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.  It’s a sister comic to the popular Afterlife with Archie.  It seems not as many people are talking about this comic plus I believe the CW just announced they are spinning off a show called The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina from their popular Riverdale show.  I haven’t seen Riverdale yet, but from what I read they are adapting this comic for the TV show.  Which really makes me interested to check out Riverdale.

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Anyway, back to the comics. I’ve read the first volume of Afterlife and I liked how they totally re-imagined the Riverdale characters. It was just solidly written, and drawn, so when I saw they were doing the same to Sabrina, I jumped on board.

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This comic is very similar in tone to Afterlife.  It’s dark.  It’s gruesome in parts.  It leans heavily on the witch-y origins of Sabrina, her aunts and her father.  Sabrina is a half witch.  Her father was a warlock and her mother was mortal.  It’s very much a coming of age as she tries to adapt to school with a boyfriend and in her other life as a burgeoning witch.  She’s forced to make several decisions about her life and she has to deal with the gruesome consequences.

I really like it.  It’s different.  It’s interesting.  I’ll be interested to see how the CW adapts this material because from what I can understand they are going with the “witches are real” angle.  I like the comics’ “ancient order of witches” backstory including old world laws and even a Witches’ Council but I find it hard to believe that the CW will lean as heavily on the “witches communing and serving the devil” aspect as the comic does.  That’ll be a delicate dance to do for a young adult TV show.

I don’t think the events in this comic exist within the same universe as Afterlife.  We get appearances in this comic from Betty and Veronica a few times, Archie, Reggie and even Jughead shows up in a quick cameo.  Plus I know Sabrina shows up in Afterlife in at least one issue but I don’t know the context.  So there’s lots of crossover but I think they are separate universes.  One being inspired by the other.

That being said, I can definitely recommend giving this title a try.  Especially if you’ve tried the Afterlife title and like it.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2017: Ghosted by Joshua Williamson (2013)

Posted in comic books, ghosts, monsters, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , on October 9, 2017 by Paxton

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Today I want to talk about a comic book called Ghosted. It was released in early 2013 and was written by Joshua Williamson and drawn by Goran Sudzuka.

Ghosted is about a professional thief, Jackson Winters, who is said to be able to steal anything. During Winters’ previous heist something went horribly wrong, his entire team was killed and he found himself in jail. Winters is busted out of jail by the very wealthy Markus Schreken to do a job. Markus is a collector of all things occult and supernatural. He wants Winters to break into the legendarily haunted and soon to be demolished Trask Mansion to steal a ghost.  Winters reluctantly agrees if he can pick his team.  But amidst doing the job, Winters discovers that several team members have other agendas and Markus’ task may not be as simple as first thought.

The story is rich with atmosphere. The characters are interesting. The plot is super exciting. Twists and turns, revelations, and double crosses.  It always keeps you guessing.  And with the progression of each volume, the stakes and the epicness of the world just increases.  It gets f’n BONKERS by the end.  The series ended on issue #20.  And it’s so much fun.  I definitely recommend this as a read.

I don’t remember how I first found out about Joshua Williamson. I think I’d read about Ghosted online sometime back in 2015. I thought it sounded like a “supernatural Ocean’s 11” and was immediately taken with the idea, so I read the first two trades. Right after this I started reading everything I could find by Joshua Williamson; Nailbiter, Robocop, Birthright. Devoured them all.  Then I eventually finished the series when the final two Ghosted volumes were released.

Williamson is great at darker tone type stories.  Nailbiter is a big recommend.  But if you want another “ghostly” tale from Williamson check out his Disney Kingdoms: The Haunted Mansion four issue series.  It’s pretty great too.



Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

Cavalcade Comics #14 – Kamandi and Thundarr the Barbarian

Posted in cartoons, comic books, nostalgia, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on August 14, 2017 by Paxton

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I’m in full on prep mode for AWESOME-tober-fest 2017 right now. It’ll be my 10th year doing it and I’ll be talking about Ghosts!

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I have a full slate of stuff lined up; books, movies, comics, and cartoons. It should be a lot of fun. I also have, as usual, a monster/Halloween themed Cavalcade Comics cover ready to go. But before we get there, my friends, I have a completely different Cavalcade Comics cover for you.

My good friend and Hellbent for Letterbox co-host Michael May started up a Thundarr the Barbarian podcast called Thundarr Road where they are following the journeys of our favorite barbarian as he traverses his way through the apocalyptic wasteland of future Earth. However, they aren’t doing it in episode order, they are following his journey geographically as if he actually made the journey from future Manhat all the way across the country west. It’s an interesting journey and it’s been fun so far. In the very first episode they had mentioned the similarities to an old 70s Jack Kirby comic called Kamandi and I thought that was a great comparison and it would have been awesome to see these two characters together.  And it’s kismet as Jack Kirby actually did early character designs on the Thundarr cartoon.

So, without further ado, here is the team up between the Jack Kirby Thundarr and Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth.

These guys would totally be post-apocalyptic besties. You could almost imagine that they would have met except Kamandi’s post-apocalyptic world was ruled by hyper intelligent animals and Thundarr’s world is ruled by wizards.

For the Thundarr, Ookla and Princess Ariel in the cover I used one of Kirby’s Thundarr drawings.

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As I said, Kirby was brought on in like 1979-1980 to do character designs for the show.  There are several of these drawings out there.  As you see I had to find an appropriate Sun Sword and add it to Thundarr’s hand.

Kamandi actually comes from Kamandi – The Last Boy on Earth #2 (1973).

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If you look in the background of my cover, some of that stuff comes from Kamandi #1 (1972) as well as Kamandi #2 (1973).

So I hope you enjoyed this cover as much as I enjoyed making it.  And go check out Michael May’s Thundarr Road podcast.  It’s a lot of fun.  And stay tuned for the 10th annual AWESOME-tober-fest Halloween celebration in like a month!

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Angel vs Frankenstein (2009)

Posted in comic books, Frankenstein, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, TV shows, vampires with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 25, 2016 by Paxton

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Back in 2011, when I did Dracula/vampires for my theme, I covered the appearance of Dracula in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  This included several comic book appearances with Buffy and Spike.  So, I thought I should next cover another Buffy character teaming up with another classic monster.  Let’s see if this one fares any better.

In 2009, IDW released a one-shot called Angel vs Frankenstein. It was written and drawn by the great John Byrne.

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The story takes place after Mary Shelley’s novel, which we get a brief recap of in the comic. It also takes place before Angel is cursed by the gypsy to have a soul.  So, after Frankenstein discovers Victor dead in the arctic at the end of Shelley’s novel, he decides to return to his home to claim the right as the last heir of Frankenstein.  However, the monster realizes he can’t do it alone, so the monster hires Angelus to return to Castle Frankenstein with him to help. However, Angelus has different ideas and throws the monster out of the stagecoach and over a cliff.  He then goes to the castle to claim the fortune for himself. But the monster didn’t die, and it makes its way back for his revenge. Queue Frankenstein vs Angelus fight.

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It’s a pretty good story. I like the setup. I love Byrne’s art. I enjoyed reading it. It’s only a one-shot, so it’s short, but Byrne makes the most of it.

Then in 2010, IDW released a sequel called, appropriately, Angel vs Frankenstein II.  This one-shot was also written and drawn by John Byrne.

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This takes place many years after the first comic. Angelus is now just Angel. He’s in America and working as a janitor at a mental hospital. He discovers the monster bound up in a hidden set of rooms in the hospital. Angel tries to sort out the mystery of how the monster got there but when the monster sees Angel, he goes off on a rampage thinking it’s Angelus and Angel has to stop him from tearing apart the city. We also learn a few secrets about the nature of this Frankenstein monster.

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Again, this is a good, if a bit more understated comic story. It’s another one shot, but Byrne makes good use of the characters and his art is great. I like the wrap up of the Frankenstein monster here. I’d definitely recommend these comics to a fan of Angel.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: Asher Cobb from The Sixth Gun

Posted in comic books, Genres, Halloween, holiday, horror, monsters, mummy, pop culture, Western with tags , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2016 by Paxton

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Today I’m going to talk about a specific mummy character from one of my favorite comic series, The Sixth Gun, by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt.
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The comic is a horror western about six cursed pistols and the battle between good and evil to possess the guns and prevent them from destroying and remaking the world. There’s so much stuff running through this comic like gunfighters, undead Civil War generals, dark swamp gods, skinwalkers, black magic, ghosts and a 9 foot tall mummy. It really is worth a read and I can’t recommend it enough. The series as a whole ended this year with issue #50 and I recently did a re-read of the entire series from Book 1 up to the final issue and I loved every bit of it.  The comic really gets deep into its own mythology and I really liked how it ended.

Anyway, the part of this comic I want to discuss today is the aforementioned 9 foot tall mummy. His name is Asher Cobb.

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Asher first shows up in the series in the collected edition Book 3: Bound.  Specifically in the final page of issue #12.

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He shows up out of nowhere and steals the coffin containing the undead corpse of the evil General Hume.  He fights spectacularly for the next issue and a half.  Then, in issue #14, we finally get his origin as told to us by an old carnie.

Asher Cobb was born deformed. He was oversized, which made him an outcast.  To add to that, he also received visions.  Visions of the future.  He was befriended only by a nice girl named Ruth who he fell in love with.  One day he received a terrible vision of Ruth’s death.  So to prevent the death of the girl he loved, he sought out some old witches and made a devil’s bargain to cheat death.  But to do that, he had to endure death.

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Unfortunately Asher was not able to prevent Ruth’s death so he is constantly wandering, driven crazy by his unnaturally long life and the knowledge that he couldn’t prevent Ruth’s death.  He is at first used by the forces of evil as a tool, but Asher would show up much later helping out the good guys and hoping that whomever acquired the guns and remade the world, would also bring back his beloved Ruth.

Asher is a pretty great character, both in the story but also visually.  He is super strong, gets visions of the future and just looks awesome.  He’s just one of the reasons I love this comic.


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2016: A tomb full of mummy covers

Posted in comic books, monsters, mummy, pop culture with tags , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2016 by Paxton

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We’re getting towards the end of my mummy themed weeks.  Next week, the final week of AWESOME-tober-fest, will be my usual “greatest hits” articles where I revisit previous topics in the history of my Halloween celebration.

But, now, let’s continue our slow, creeping walk down mummy lane with a variety of mummy covers for comics and magazines.

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I spoke about this character earlier in the month, so here are two more covers for The Living Mummy’s appearances in Marvel’s Supernatural Thrillers.  (Supernatural Thrillers #7, 1974, John Romita cover, Supernatural Thrillers #11, 1975, Frank Brunner cover)

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Here’s the Living Mummy teaming up with The Thing in a cover by Ron Wilson and Chic Stone (Marvel Two-in-One, 1983).

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The Gold Key Star Trek title even got in on some mummy action. (Star Trek #21, 1973)

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Wonder Woman battling mummies in a cover by Ross Andru (Wonder Woman #161, 1966).

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The Shadow wants in on some of that battling mummies action. Cover by Frank Robbins. (The Shadow #8, 1974).

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I’ve reviewed other Dell comic monster adaptations with Frankenstein, Wolf Man and Dracula.  Here are two covers for Dell’s adaptation of the Universal Mummy movie. Unfortunately Dell didn’t try to turn the mummy into a super hero.

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If you listen to the Nerd Lunch Podcast, you should remember the character of Fantomah. I talked about her on episode 197 where we were modernizing Golden Age comic characters. CT assigned me Fantomah.  Well, Fantomah was rebooted several years after her “wild jungle girl” phase into an adventurer who was descendant of ancient Egyptian royalty.

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Here are two Hammer Horror magazines featuring cover stories on the Hammer mummy movies.  I love that Mummy’s Shroud painted cover on the right.

 


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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.