Tag Archives: Captain Marvel
The newest comic book store in Toronto offers an experience that is totally unique. Have you ever bought one of those surprise bags at a convenience store? I used to love those as a kid. They’d have candy and maybe a little toy, but you never knew what you were going to get. Kensington Comics is like that in store form.
As the name might imply, it’s in the middle of Kensington Market in downtown Toronto. It’s on the second floor of a building, and it’s a little hard to find but there’s signage if you’re looking for it. George the owner is always there and is extremely friendly and helpful. The store is essentially two smallish rooms and one hallway. But, the walls are covered floor to ceiling in comics. The downside (and half the fun) is that they’re in no particular order. Every day, George brings in 1 to 10 long boxes of comics, then grabs handfuls and puts them wherever there’s room.
The signs say they’re a buck each, but every time I’ve been in they’ve been 50 cents apiece. With prices like that you can afford to indulge in whatever grabs your fancy. For instance, as you may or may not know, I’m a huge Captain Marvel fan. So far, I haven’t found any of the classic issues from the Golden Age that I’m truly interested in and, while it’s possible, I’m not really expecting to. But, I have found a bunch of issues from a mid-90s series called The Power Of Shazam! It’s not great, but I’m willing to try anything with the big red cheese in it.
I also stumbled across a Superboy Elseworld’s story that got my nostalgia senses tingling. It’s got all the hallmarks of classic 90s attempts at coolness. Superboy has a long ponytail, a bandana, ripped jeans, an earring and fingerless gloves. He and the rest of the Justice League have leather jackets, and Wonder Woman is wearing spandex bicycle shorts for some reason. It’s so lame it circles back around to being cool. Something that I’d forgotten about the copy I used to have is that it’s the second part of a two-part story. So, now I have to go back and see if I can find part one!
In that same vein of 90s nostalgia, I also picked up the first issues of Ravage 2099 and Fantastic Four 2099. Marvel once asked, what will our superheroes be doing in the year 2099? By and large, the answer to that question is, “Sucking hard.” And these issues are no exception. The thing that sets Ravage apart is that it was Stan Lee’s last attempt at writing a serious ongoing series for Marvel. So that at least makes it a fun little curiosity.
For many years, I got every issue of Wizard magazine that came out. This store has allowed me to find some of the comics they featured that I always wanted to check out. I picked up some Gen 13 issues, and The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas special. I also grabbed what might be Marvel’s most absurd comic book – Brute Force. It’s about a team of animals in robo suits who are trying to save the environment. The cover has a Dolphin running on land with an uzi. What’s not to like!?
I think my best find to date there has been the first 14 issues of the Kyle Baker written and drawn Plastic Man series. It was something I’d never really been looking for, but when you find 14 issues of a series in a row it’s hard to say no. I’ve only read the first issue so far, but I can’t wait to read more. I defy you to look at one of these covers and not want to read more.
So, if you’re in Toronto and have a few hours to kill I highly suggest you check this place out.
Graham Becksted is a small business whore. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles, the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 73rd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
I don’t want to make this the Captain Marvel Grumbles, but I can’t let Billy Batson’s first full issue in the New 52 pass by unmentioned. JLA #0 is the first issue of the New 52 that I’ve purchased since this podcast. The reason being this amazing Gary Frank cover:
Before I go any further, let me recap: Captain Marvel was a superhero created in the 40s who, for a time, was more popular than Superman. Eventually, because of lawsuits and societal pressures, Fawcett Comics stopped publishing his books. The entire line was bought by DC who did nothing with the characters for decades. Marvel created their own Captain Marvel to secure the trademark, so when DC did start publishing the OG Cap the comic had to be called Shazam. (…which is the magic word that Billy Batson says to transform into Captain Marvel.)
So, with that out of the way, let’s get to this reboot of the once beloved character. My one word review is: awful. It strips all of the fun and joy out of the character and pumps him full of 80s era angst and grit. Sure, in the original he was an orphan. But, he didn’t seem to give a hoot about it. In his first appearance, he gets a job as a roving reporter on the radio by scamming/charming the station’s owner. His main villain is Dr. Sivana, a mad scientist who’s pretty terrible at being a bad guy.
This new version of the hero is more of a dick than Dr. Sivana ever was. When the wizard Shazam brings him to his underground home he just bitches at him. This is a guy who wants to give him super powers and all he can say is, “Listen, Chester, that stuff might work like candy on six-year-olds, but you come any closer and I’ll knock out the last of your teeth.”
That’s right. He said Chester. As an insult. Seriously. And it actually gets worse from there. His first act as a superhero is to trash a random guy’s car, knock a mugger through a car, and then take money from the woman he saved. Now, I understand that people want more realism from their superheroes these days. You can see the seams on all the DC character’s costumes now. Green Lantern hits on Wonder Woman the first time he sees her. Batman spent an issue doing his taxes. But, Captain Marvel is not that kind of character.
First off, other (better) writers have done gritty Captain Marvel-style stories. Alan Moore did it with his run on Britain’s Marvelman. More recently, Mark Millar did it in his mini-series Superior. The thing that would actually make Captain Marvel interesting again is a return to his roots. There are very few superhero comics these days that have the unbridled silliness that set the Captain apart in the first place.
Let me give you an example of the kind of storytelling they were doing back then. This is a page from Whiz Comics #3.
In the span of three panels, a poorly disguised Dr. Sivana refuses to let Billy Batson boy reporter on to his rocket ship to Venus, and then launches the rocket with him and Billy on board with barely any explanation at all. Then they land on Venus and get attacked by a Venusian dragon. It’s like one of those dreams where you are in one place, and then for no reason at all you’re in a completely different one. In the dream it makes sense, but when you wake up it’s baffling.
THAT is what Captain Marvel should be. THAT is what made him so popular in the 40s. When you get away from that core innocence and weirdness, he becomes as generic and boring as Justice League #0.
Graham Becksted is way too into Captain Marvel. He is also the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 70th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
Last week I spent the entire blog talking about the parts of Fan Expo that really burned my balls. This week, I’m going to talk about the part that brings me back year after year: buying stuff. This year in particular was a banner year for me. I got something that, to me at least, is absolutely amazing. But, I’ll save that for the end.
Years ago, a friend of mine picked up Preacher in Trade Paperback and leant it to me. It is Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon at their absolute best. It’s a fantastic 66 issue run of sacrilegious goodness. In the most basic terms, it’s about an ex-preacher who gets the voice of God meaning he can make people do whatever he says. He uses it sparingly, ‘cause, you know, he’s a decent guy. He and his girlfriend Tulip and an Irish vampire they meet on their travels go on a road trip across America. That’s it in a nutshell and it might sound a little simplistic but it’s good comics!
I managed to get the first volume in hardcover a few years ago and I’ve been trying to get the rest for a good price ever since. At the con I found vols. 2 and 3, and I got vol. 4 shortly after. So, I’ve almost go the whole kit and caboodle now and I plan on rereading it as soon as I do. You can borrow them when I’m done.
In Brian Cronin’s latest book about comics (http://www.amazon.com/Does-Batman-Carry-Shark-Repellent/dp/0452297842/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346724821&sr=8-1&keywords=brian+cronin), Zeb Wells discussed Peter David’s run on The Hulk in pretty glowing terms. (Zeb Wells is a funny comic writer who is in the midst of a pretty solid run on Avenging Spider-Man.) I’ve always liked Peter David but I haven’t read much of his Hulk stuff even though he’s considered one of the definitive voices on the character. I guess I’ve just never been much of a Hulk guy. But, Wells turned me. David wrote around 150 issues of Hulk, and now I’ve got about 23 of them. I think that’s a pretty good sampling. I’m sure I’ll let you know what I think. In the meantime, check out Peter David’s work. If you’re reading this, chances are he’s written something you’d be interested in. (Star Trek, Spider-Man, Babylon 5, Space Cases, etc.)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #24
My quest for a complete run of the Archie Comics Ninja Turtles comics continues. This year, I only found one issue I needed at a reasonable price. There were a few places selling issues for as much as $100, but so long as I can find them for a buck or two I figure I’ll stick to that. With this issue I now have a pretty solid run of 1-36 with a few small gaps. It’s getting harder though. I’m pretty sure I’ve exhausted all of the stores in Toronto, and I might have to start trekking to other towns.
This is a series by Mark Waid and Peter Krause (no, not the guy from Six Feet Under) that I don’t know too much about. It’s a spin on the Superman story where the hero turns evil. It has a sister series called Incorruptible, which is about a bad guy that turns good. Normally I’m bit wishy washy on Waid, but I’ve just heard so many great things that I had to check it out. It’s another one of those things where I’ll get back to you when I’ve finished it.
As I may have mentioned, Shazam/Captain Marvel is my latest comic book crush. I hate calling him Shazam, but that’s what legal wrangling has lead us. At this con I got three more items for my collection. A hardcover collection of a four issue mini-series called Shazam! The Monster Society Of Evil by Jeff Smith, the beloved creator of the epic comic book series Bone. A red t-shirt with the iconic Captain Marvel lightning bolt. Finally, the crème de la crème, Shazam Archives vol. 1. This reprint of the first batch of Captain Marvel comics is out of print, and filled with amazing art and stories. It’s the first of four and easily the hardest to find. It’s currently selling for $156 on Amazon.com. I managed to find it for $25. I almost passed out when I saw the price and I entered into a state of euphoria when I got it into my sweaty little hands (don’t worry, it was in plastic wrap.)
That’s it for another Fan Expo. I’m sure I’ll be writing about it again next year.
Graham Becksted spent way too much money at Fan Expo. Surprise, surprise. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 71st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
I’m having a bit of a hard time this week. The last few days almost all I’ve been doing is reading obsessively about the aftermath of the Colorado shooting. So, I’m going to start off with some thoughts on that and then some quick hits on more trivial things.
Since I’m sure everyone reading this is already aware of what happened, I’m going to recap what we currently know about the situation so that there is some context in the unlikely event that anyone wants to read this in the distant future. A man wearing body armor walked in to a crowded midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises and opened fire into the crowd with several guns that he brought with him. He was arrested by his car and then somehow the police became aware that his apartment was rigged with bombs. Luckily, those were defused without any further loss of life. In the theatre though, 12 people were killed and another 58 were injured.
There are still so many questions left to be answered. So far, it appears to be a motiveless crime. The accused killer was a PhD student and didn’t appear to have any radical causes or passions. That, to me anyway, is one of the things that makes this so scary. If he was obviously crazy, or a religious zealot then I could make some sense of this. It could be rationalized. So far, it’s just senseless.
For comparison sake, the Norwegian douche who shot up that island had an agenda. He was a right-wing loser who wanted to get rid of immigrants and stuff. Now that we know what he wanted, it’s easy to make sure he doesn’t get it. He hasn’t changed anything in Norway, except he’s going to spend a long time in jail. He is pathetic and has devalued his removed any legitimacy that his movement might have had.
The gentleman in Colorado, at least so far, seems to have just wanted to kill and cause chaos. If that’s the case, then his mission has already been accomplished. I hope I’m wrong. I hope he can be mocked and belittled as easily as the Norwegian. Personally, I think that’s the best way to deter these sorts of attacks. These guys want to be feared. They want to be thought of as monsters, and made into more than what they are. If that isn’t accomplished – if we can continue living our lives as we did before – potential copycats will only see the futility of their efforts.
All right, that’s all I want to say about that for now. Let’s move on to the trivial business of my day to day life.
I’ve developed a very real love for Captain Marvel. Not the Marvel version, or even The DC version. I’m all about the OG Fawcett Comics take on the character. A little boy who can turn into a big super-man. DC has the rights to all of those stories, and to the character as he currently stands, and I hate what they are doing in both instances. The original stories have only been reprinted, as far as I know, in super expensive and out of print hardcover archive editions. I would love to read those stories, but I can’t get my hands on them. Why hold them back? What do they get by not having those out available for purchase? In the present, they are making the character dark and gritty. This is a guy with a talking tiger sidekick. Put Grant Morrison on him and let’s see what craziness he can come up with a la All Star Superman!
I guess that’s it for this week. A bit of my trivial, pop-culture, grumbly escapism as an antidote for the horrors of reality. See you next week when there will, hopefully, be more grumbles than horrors.
Graham Becksted is still just Graham Becksted. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 69th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
It was recently announced that there’s going to be a pilot for a Green Arrow live-action TV series. In all likelihood, it’ll probably end up like that much maligned Wonder Woman pilot – relegated to the bootleg stalls of comic conventions. But why?
Superhero comics would seem to be just about the perfect source material for TV shows. They’re already serialized and they all end on a cliff hanger. There’s a built-in audience, and a whole bunch of marketing tie-ins. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some very successful examples – three immediately spring to mind the Adam West Batman, the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman, and Smallville. But the first two were unabashedly campy and probably would not fly on network TV today. I haven’t seen much Smallville, but I know they steered away from the tried and true parts of the comic book continuity for years and years. And, when superheroes did start showing up on the show they’re costumes were pretty ridiculous.
Also, there were many many years between these successes. Batman ended in 1969 and Wonder Woman started in 1975. Smallville started in 2001, almost thirty years later. (I can’t think of any other successful live action superhero shows, but if you can let me know.) There have been other attempts, but none that I would call a success.
Green Hornet – 1 season, 26 episodes. The Flash – 1 season, 22 episodes. Birds of Prey – 1 season, 14 episodes. Justice League – 1 pilot.
Ok, so I thought of a couple more successes. The Incredible Hulk and Lois and Clark. So, that puts us at about one success a decade. I mean, considering the source material, it shouldn’t be this hard. Allow me to present some easy, totally, like, nothing-but-net ideas.
Batman, but in a smallville-ish way. Have a young (early twenties) Bruce Wayne learning to be Batman in Gotham. Very Batman: Year One. Not too many supervillains, at least not at first. Concentrate on drug dealers, and gangsters. The supporting cast could be Alfred, Lieutenant Jim Gordon, and D.A. Harvey Dent. Follow in the realistic style of the Christopher Nolan movies, and your set! I would watch that every week! I mean, A-Plots would be Batman kicking ass, and the B-Plots could be Bruce navigating the Wayne corporation.
Punisher. I really don’t think I even need to say more. Again, it would be kind of gritty, but have more War Journal style narration. Again, more gangsters than supervillains, but I think it would be cool. Every episode, he should get his ass kicked and then come back and win in the last ten minutes. I’m cheating a little with this one since Marvel actually is producing a Punisher TV series. I just hope they have learned their lesson from the three Punisher movies.
Finally, how about something a little lighter. Captain Marvel (although, I guess they’d have to call it Shazam or something ‘cause of the copyright issues.) A little boy turns into a Superman-eque superhero, but retains his boyish mind and personality. It would be like Super Big! He also has a fantastic assortment of bizarre supervillains – like a super intelligent caterpillar and a weird bald doctor
Maybe I’m crazy, but I think those are some pretty solid ideas for TV shows. And, I don’t think they’d be too expensive or difficult to make either. (Okay, maybe Captain Marvel could be a little expensive but I think it would be worth it.) What do you think? Do I have something here?
Graham Becksted’s a future TV executive so you should be nice to him. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 51st follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.