Tag Archives: Jack Kirby

Fantastic Four Finale?

It was confirmed at this year’s New York Comic Con that the Fantastic Four will be coming to an end in early 2015. This has been met with less fanfare than, say, the death of Wolverine storyline or Thor’s gender reassignment. But, in certain shadowy corners of the internet, there is a select group of people bellowing “I told you so!” as loudly as they can. (more…)

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Stan. Lee. ‘Nuff Said.

I can think of no better way to begin my next 100 columns than by making an announcement. Firstly, I am married. That is not the announcement. My birthday is about a month away. That is also not the announcement. My wife purchased an early birthday present for me. This is the announcement. That birthday present is going to a meet and greet with Stan Lee during FanExpo in Toronto next week.

No, not Stan Lee the dentist from San Jose (http://www.yelp.ca/biz/stanley-lee-dds-san-jose). Stanley Martin Lieber. Stan “The Man” Lee. The creator or co-creator of Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The X-Men, Daredevil, Stripperella, The Hulk, The Avengers, and hundreds of others. The creative force behind some of the biggest superhero comics ever made.

He may be the closest thing to a personal hero that I have, and I have always wanted to meet him. Last year, I finally saw him in person when he did a panel at FanExpo and I thought that was as good as it would get for me. Now, not only do I get to exchange pleasantries with him, I’ll get to take a picture with him and get something autographed by him. I’m so giddy I could puke!

Now I just need to figure out what I’m going to wear. I’ve got a few Marvel t-shirts, but I’m not sure any of them would be entirely appropriate. Should I wear the one with Captain America yelling that the letter on his head doesn’t stand for France? Or an old cracked and faded Punisher one? I think I’m going to have to splurge and get something new. A simple Fantastic Four logo, maybe. Perhaps something with art by Jack Kirby, his most famous collaborator. This is the sort of quandary that could keep a man up all night.

The other thing is the autograph. At first I thought about getting one of my more recent books signed by him. The first issue of Ravage 2099, one of the last ongoing titles that Stan actually wrote. Or, Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Shazam, where Stan collaborated with Gary Frank to make a new version of Captain Marvel. Or, Stan Lee Meets Spider-Man, where Stan wrote what it would be like if he actually met his creation.

But, then I figured that wouldn’t be good enough. None of those issues really MEAN anything to me. They were fun reads, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It has to be something special. I could shell out for an old Silver Age Marvel comic, but that could be pricey and hard to track down. Better yet, I know a guy who has some classic Stan Lee comics – My Dad.

Dad was definitely a guiding force in my burgeoning interest in comic books. He and my Mom bought me trades, and he would let me read some of the less cherished issues from his collection. He would take me to the store and would patiently wait as I examined everything on the rack. What better way to repay him than to get an issue that meant something to him growing up and have it signed by the writer?

So, True Believers, in a couple of weeks I’ll have a shiny new picture of me and Stan Lee to share with you. You may need to prepare yourselves. I know I will!

Graham Becksted is rarely this sentimental. 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 82nd follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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Superman Rebuttal

This week, I would like to present a retort to Mr. Jones’ column from a couple of weeks ago.  In it, he asserted that Superman is devoid of character and is not deserving of starring in serialized fiction.  For the record, I’m not a huge fan of Superman in general.  I find him too overpowered, and a little too boyscouty.  But, there are some indisputable facts that can be used to defend Supes from Mr. Jones’ onslaught.

Firstly, and most notably, Superman comics have been in print uninterrupted since 1938 when Action Comics #1 was released.  At various times, he has also been featured in Superman, Man Of Steel, Man Of Tomorrow, Justice Society, World’s Finest, Justice League, Legion Of Superheroes, Superboy, Superman/Batman, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, and Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane.  Amongst others.  For a while, Action Comics was even published on a weekly basis.  There were other times when there were four in continuity Superman solo-titles released a month.  On top of that, he had various team commitments, cameos, and out of continuity appearances. I would like to think that after almost 75 years and well over a thousand issues that he would have developed a character of some sort.

Now, let’s take a look at the roster of people who have written Superman at one time or another.  It’s almost impossible to name an important figure in comics who hasn’t done a Superman story.  Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Neal Adams, Mark Millar, Grant Morrison, Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Bryan Hitch, Frank Quitely, and Greg Rucka have all written a Superman story or two in their day. Some of the most respected names in comics and out have taken the Man of Tomorrow for a spin – Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Jeph Loeb, J. Michael Strazcynski, Brad Meltzer, and Richard Donner.  On top of all that, even Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, two creators who couldn’t be more associated with Marvel, have done Superman stories.  I can’t imagine all of these people working on the character if there was nothing there but a blank slate.  He must offer something to intrigue them.

Matt is right when he says that he is the prototypical superhero.  Every other superhero owes a debt to him as they are all reflections of him from Captain Marvel to Lobo.  But, that does not necessarily mean that he’s got a personality.  The fact is every creator brings their own spice to the Superman mix.  There are a few constants, though.  He represents the idealized middle-American, white-bread, country boy.  He believes in equality, and freedom, and saving as many people as possible.  He tends to not use his powers for personal gain, as evidenced by the fact that he doesn’t rob banks or constantly win the lottery.  On the other hand, he has won Pulitzer prizes for his interviews with himself.  He’s also a good leader, and an inspiration to other heroes.  He’s the whole reason the Legion Of Super Heroes exists!

As evidence for all of this, I shall present some storylines that I’ve read that I think exemplify his personality.  First off, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Superman For All Seasons.  This is a retelling of his coming of age, kind of like Smallville.  It’s about him coming to grips with his powers, and the responsibility that comes with them.  Next, the other extreme, The Death Of Superman by Dan Jurgens, Louise Simonson and a crap load of others.  This is Superman fighting a guy to the death to protect his adopted home simply because it’s the right thing to do.  There’s a great moment where he is getting interviewed, and certain members of the studio audience are criticizing him.  During a commercial break he leaves because he’s needed in the fight against Doomsday.  Even when he’s not very popular, he still goes out to fight the good fight.  And lastly, the awesome Alan Moore story “For The Man Who Has Everything”.  One of Superman’s enemies, Mongul, hooks Superman into this alien plant thing that makes him imagine he’s living the life he wishes he had in his heart of hearts.  That life turns out to be as just a regular joe back on Krypton.  It’s a pretty cool story, especially when Superman breaks loose of the plant’s control.

So, I rest my case.  Superman, while not being the most intriguing character ever created, is definitely worthy of our respect and is a pretty prime example of a good character.

Now that his work here is done, Graham Becksted is going to put his glasses on and slip into the background.  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 59th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.

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