Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Club of Heroes Podcast Episode 56: Anthony Misiano, The Man Who Laughs

Chris and Evan steal an evening with actor/cosplay icon/shaman Anthony Misiano a.k.a. Harley's Joker. Discussion includes his starring role as the Clown Prince of Crime in The Batman Chronicles, his production company Inventive Works, Sean Connery, and Soul Tits.

You can listen to or download the episode HERE!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Club of Heroes Podcast Episode 55: Emotionally Subnormal

After a long hiatus, the podcast returns! We welcome you to Chris and Evan's Masterpiece Theatre as the boys discuss the 2007 film There Will Be Blood and analyze some of Alan Moore's comments about geek culture from The Guardian. Keep an eye on your Teapot Dome!

You can download or listen to the episode HERE!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Colonel's Picks for November 6th, 2013

Greetings from CoH central! It's that time again, where your favorite comic reading Colonel lists his picks for the week. Make haste to your nearest comic book retailer and throw away your hard-earned money. Like I always say, you can't take it with you!

Amazing X-Men #1 (Marvel)

Jason Aaron has been my X-Writer of choice for the last couple of years and now he's in charge of a second monthly title. I'll admit there are quite a few X-Men books on the stands currently, but Aaron's stuff is just too good to pass up. Joining him on the art is the uber-talented Ed McGuiness, whose work is always refreshing and energetic. Their opening arc promises the return of a certain swahbuckling fuzzy elf who hasn't been seen in a bit, so don't blame me if this one reeks of sulfur and brimstone.

Ghost Cop #1 (Antarctic Press)

V.J. Boyd and Chris Dibari's new series about an undead detective doesn't sound like the most original concept in the world, but I'm on board for at least the first issue just to see if they can deliver on the premise of a 21st century "Spirit". Can they do Eisner proud? Let's find out.

Legends of Red Sonja #1 (Dynamite)

Gail Simone's Red Sonja has been hacking and slashing her way into fans' hearts for a few issues, and now a second companion series is on the way. This is an anthology series, featuring work from an all-female writing team. Among the femme fatales attached are the award-winning Nancy Collins and former Bat-scribe Devin Grayson! The ladies are running the show and this Colonel wouldn't have it any other way.

Transformers: Dark Cybertron #1 (IDW)

James Roberts and the incomparable art of Phil Jimenez kick off a crossover between IDW's Transformers titles that sees Shockwave make his bid for power and make strange bedfellows out of usual archfoes Optimus and Megatron. This will be the comic book equivalent of violently smashing your precious Transformers figures together and watches the pieces fly! And c'mon! Phil Jimenez is drawing it!

Protectors Inc. #1 (Image)

What happens to the heroes when the bad guys are gone for good? In this new series by crafty comics veteran J. Michael Straczynski and Gordon Purcell, ther heroes have become franchises and their sponsors keep them on a short leash. When they start getting picked off one by one, it falls on an everyman detective to figure out whodunnit! I'm interested to see if this is simply a Watchmen riff or a story with its own flavor.

And that's the stack for this week folks! Remember to tip your waitress and check out the latest CoH Podcast, where the boys go in-depth about the legendary Martin Goodman! Also, do me a solid and check out Real Men In This Town, another podcast by some friends of ours! Their latest single just dropped and you don't wanna be "that guy" do you?


Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Club of Heroes Podcast Episode 54: Magic Martin and the Red Circle Shell Game

Evan returns! In this episode, the boys talk turkey about the man behind Marvel, Martin Goodman. There's a lot known about Stan and Jack and Steve, but what about the man behind the curtain? Dive into his life from humble beginnings in a hobo camp to becoming the most prolific comic book publisher of the Golden Age!

You can download or listen to the episode HERE!

And that sweet sketch up top of Mr. Goodman is by Drew Friedman. Check out his blog as well.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween Countdown Day 7 - The Fairy Faith (2001)

Theo: You're pretty hard-boiled, Tinkerbell.
Applecore: Call me that name again and you'll be wondering how your bollocks wound up lodged in your windpipe — from below. Just because we don't get to your side of things much anymore doesn't mean we don't know anything. 'If you believe in fairies, clap your hands!' If you believe in fairies, kiss my rosy pink arse is more like it. Now are you going to shut your gob or not?

Greetings my creepy cadre. This film is a unique one.

What is its place in the greater Halloween countdown scheme you ask? It is the only documentary on the list and it isn't necessarily scary nor horrific. What is interesting to me however, is that it is the only documentary that I know of that addresses the phenomena of Fairy belief as it exists today in areas such as Cape Breton, Ireland, and Scotland.

Director John Walker interviews people who believe in Fairies and while he does touch on the subject from a historical and folkloric perspective, the bulk of this film has to do with a modern perspective in the belief in and encounters with Fairies. The Fairy Faith is excellent overview of what role traditional beliefs play in a increasingly homogenous world. If you'd like some Halloween viewing that isn't going to turn your stomach, look no further.


Halloween Countdown Day 8 - The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon (2009)

I was digging through the recesses of the backlog when I rediscovered this lovely short. Filmed in California over the course of 22 days with a budget of a mere $600 dollars, this is one of the most entertaining and well produced fake trailers I have ever seen. Bilingual bonus for the character names Jack Cucchiaio and his arch nemesis, the Ginosaji.

But don't take my word for it. Why not check it out for yourself?


Until next time!

Halloween Countdown Day 9 - Walk Among Us (1982)

There must be some bugs running around my little old head. How could I have a Halloween series without at least once mentioning the Misfits?

The granddaddies of horror punk first got together in 1977 in Lodi, New Jersey. Their first album Walk Among Us was released a mere year before they broke up when lead vocalist and founder Glenn Danzig left to form his own group named (surprise) Danzig.

Y'see, what you've got here is 13 songs in a mere 25 minutes. Listening to this album is like watching every late night B-movie ever produced all at the same time while they're being fast forwarded through your ancient VCR.

Death, mayhem, Martians, zombies, werewolves and vampires. Glenn croons and groans his way through tunes that are catchy, fun, and timeless. The first time you get to hear his 'woaah woaah woaahs' being played over brutally sped up 1950's guitar riffs and the pounding drum work indeed. With a day from Halloween, this record deserves a spin. 

What is that you say? Don't own a copy. Well, good fortune for you! The whole thing is on Youtube.

Until next time.

The Colonel's Picks for October 30th, 2013

This week is what's known as a "fifth" week in the comic book world, so I expected a pretty short list. As it turns out, both the Big Two and a few other publishers made some big news this week, perhaps to attract some All Hollow’s Eve business..? But enough postulating, this Colonel is a reader, not a retailer!

The Fox #1 (Archie)

This was a last second addition to my stack this week, after hearing Dean Haspiel on Word Balloon just yesterday. His take on the photojournalist turned superhero sounded like a breath of fresh air and some much needed levity in a week that see planets exploding and dead Robins returning. Scripting the series with Mr. Haspiel is none other than Mark Waid! Waid's Daredevil is coming to an end soon, but this looks like a neat replacement. The Fox is also an MLJ hero from 1940, so bonus points for keeping a golden age character relevant.

Sandman Overture #1 (DC)

Neil Gaiman returns to the character that made him a household name to sooo many comic book fans. This is a prologue to the Sandman series, explaining how a two-bit warlock was able to imprison Dream in the first place. J.H. Williams II provides the art for this series, and fans of his work on Batwoman already know what a great fit he would be for the world of the Endless.

Damien: Son of Batman #1 (DC)

Damien Wayne quickly turned from message board fodder to a beloved addition to the Batman mythos in Grant Morrison's Batman run. Despite his death in Batman Inc., he appears to be all grown up here. Just how exactly DC plans on bringing him back to star in this miniseries by his co-creator Andy Kubert is beyond me. A parallel Earth? A tale from the Old 52? Who knows?

Saga #15 (Image)

It's been a while since I've checked in with Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples's series. Despite not mentioning every issue in this here column, Saga is always a must-buy. One of the best comics on the racks from two of the best in the business, no doubt. This issue sees our parental protagonists looking a little more lustful than usual.

Cataclysm #0.1 (Marvel)

If an Ultimate Universe fell in the woods and no one was around to hear it, does anybody care? I guess you could say I'm morbidly curious about how Brian Bendis is going to wrap things up for Marvel's once mighty Ultimate line.

Not a bad haul for a fifth week! As always, check this space daily for new rambling about comic book history and be on the lookout for new episode of the CoH Podcast! Also, check out Real Men in This Town, a new podcast by Adam Lopez and Seth Pasahow, allies of the Club of Heroes!



Friday, October 25, 2013

Halloween Countdown Day 10 - Death Jr

Greetings ghouls, this particular Halloween post concerns a comic book that I just don't hear enough about these days, a series by Gary Whitta and illustrated by Ted Naifeh called Death Jr. It is rare that a comic for children can mesh so well with adults too. In fact, this is the very thing that made Pixar so popular in the past, getting in that niche of honesty that appeals to adults and their parents. Without hesitation, I can say that this series is every bit as good as any Pixar movie.

Hysterically funny with sharp observations concerning suburban life comes this tale about DJ (or Death Junior.) making his way through the world as he tries to win his dad's approval and survive middle school. But DJ isn't the kind of kid to let things get him down, even if houseplants and cats have a tendency to die in his wake. Needless to say, bad stuff ensues as DJ finds himself and his buddies opening a mysterious box at a museum exhibit with unusual consequences as DJ and his friends have to save the day.

Gary Whitta handles this story masterfully. As it was produced for the Death Jr video game, this could have been a tossaway rag, but he carefully constructs a modern fable enjoyable to adults and children alike. Ted Niafeh's art compliments Whitta's pose in a manner that reminds me a bit of the visual stylings of early Tim Burton films like Edward Scissorhands particularly in the way it handles real life lessons about difficult subjects while retaining a sense of kooky fun and optimism.

It's the most fun you'll have reliving your middle school years, so why not give it a try? As always, until next time.

Halloween Countdown Day 11 - Halloween Wars

Greetings kiddies, your ol' pal Eerie Evan is back once again. I've got a guilty pleasure this Halloween season, and it's name is the Food Network's Halloween Wars. A bunch of teams consisting of pumpkin carvers, candy pullers and other assorted confectionists duke it out to impress judges with their scariest work. As if this wasn't enough fun, you've got people like Rob Zombie, Tony Todd and Charlaine Harris as guest judges!  


So far, I've looked forward to every episode (compared to most of the stuff on basic cable, this is gold) but there isn't much run time left if you want to check it out. October 27th is the final air time, at 8 central. Trust me, (and why wouldn't you?) if you have any interest in cooking at all you should check it out. I've included a Youtube video below with a few choice cuts, should you be so inclined.

Until next time.


Halloween Countdown Day 12 - Opus Eponymous (2010)

Eerie Evan here with yet another Halloween countdown post. From the frost-bitten lands of Sweden, comes Ghost with their debut album Opus Eponymous. When I first encountered Ghost, it was entirely by chance. They were the opening act of a Mastodon/Opeth double header, and I was more excited about seeing the them rather than Ghost. In fact, I'd never heard of them. I didn't expect much, but boy, was I wrong.

Fog machines basked the stage as dim green lights gave an eerie glow to the set. Papa Emeritus I, dressed like an unholy cardinal swung a thurible as he came onto stage. His nameless flock of ghouls shuffled behind him, heads bowed in piety as organ music piped through the speakers. Silently, without saying a word, they took to their instruments, as Emeritus I approached the microphone stand. "Greetings to the Body of Christ...we are Ghost." Emeritus spoke with a voice that sounded like if Vincent Price and the Cryptkeeper had a love child. The yells of the crowd were silenced as Emeritus raised his hands. A nameless ghoul strummed a power chord off of a guitar, another snapped the snare drum twice.


Emeritus leaned in, addressing the audience. We were hooked. "Let us begin our Ritual." Before I left that evening, I purchased both a Ghost shirt and their album. To make a point, I almost never spend money at concerts beyond buying tickets.



Opus Eponymous
was my first album purchase in years, and it has a solid place in my collection. Visuals aside, they resemble something like Blue Oyster Occult or Mercyful Fate as far as musical comparisons, but that in itself would be limiting. Instead, I'll just say that they resemble the metal of the late 70s or early 80s during the "Satanic Panic" with driving riffs, catchy choruses and even keyboard work. The vocals have an aetheric, unearthly quality to them (appropriate, given their name!), which is a nice change of pace given the either Death Growly or Screamy kinds of vocals that metal tends to pin itself today with the desire for louder and harsher music.

The production is just right as well, as it's not too quite, but neither is it loud. Instead, it is at a happy medium. I was pleasantly surprised in particular when I could hear the bass. Lyrically, the music displays a songwriter's obsession with Satan, which is something that would annoy me if they weren't self-aware of their image. This is what gives Ghost it's undeniable charm. It knows that it is the music that your mom worried about you listening too when you were growing up. This tongue and cheek wink and a nod to that goat footed horned guy is honestly too funny to take with any seriousness.

What would this LP go perfectly with? Well, if you feel like popping in a copy of Castlevania for the NES, this is your soundtrack to slaying Dracula. If you'd like a change of pace from the current metal trends, Ghost is your ticket. An album link lies below. Until next time kiddies.


The Club of Heroes Episode 53: Chris Talks Comics

Chris flies solo in this episode and talks about some comics and books about comics that he's read recently. He's going to talk to himself anyway, so why not record it! Supergods, Strangers in Paradise, Claremont's X-Men, Starlin's Warlock, and more! Evan will be back next episode for more Marvel history.

You can download or listen to the episode HERE!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Colonel's Picks for October 23rd, 2013

Another great week for comics, folks! There are two huge debuts from Image today and some very interesting stuff coming from the Big Two. Plus, a cartoon icon of the last decade finally makes the leap into comics.

Justice League #24 (DC)

"The Justice League is DEAD!" Geoff Johns and his pals in the Crime Syndicate have done the unthinkable. Along with his artistic partner in crime Ivan Reis, this issue focuses on the Syndicate as they divvy up the world and begin phase two of their hostile takeover. This issue promises a confrontation between Shazam baddie Black Adam and the evil Super dude of Earth-3 Ultraman. While the Trinity War and the first issue of Forever Evil left me cold so far, I'm interested to see what Johns and Reis do with the CSA.

Samurai Jack #1 (IDW)

Once a staple of my Saturday morning cartoon diet, Samurai Jack now stars in a brand new series by Skullkicker's Jim Zub and artist Andy Suriano. The series creator, Gennedy Tartakovsky is involved in the comic as well, and should be a proper successor to the cartoon with his oversight. How does one of the most visually stimulating cartoons of the modern era translate to comics books? I'm eager to find out.

Pretty Deadly #1 (Image)

Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios present a Western story that combines Marquez's magical realism with True Grit. This series follows Death's daughter on a mission of retribution. DeConnick's work on Captain Marvel and her previous collaboration with Rios on the Osborn miniseries are solid works and without the restraints of working for merry Marvel, this comic could be something really special.

Velvet #1 (Image)

Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting brought Captain America back to the forefront of the Marvel Universe by injecting the book with lots of wartime and espionage elements. This new series should be right up your alley if their run on Cap captured your imagination. Actually, I'd go out on a limb and say this is going to be a very big deal, so you might be kicking yourself later if you don't get onboard with issue one.

Superior Spider-Man Team Up #5 (Marvel)

As you've probably heard by now, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man isn't quite as friendly these days since having his brain switched with the deadly Doctor Octopus. Doc Ock/Spidey seems to be on the side of the angels for now, but this issue finds our hero assembling a new Sinister Six. That sound you hear may just be the other shoe dropping. Chris Yost writes it, Marco Checchetto draws it, and Paolo Rivera wraps it in a beautiful cover.

Young Avengers #11 (Marvel)

Even if you haven't been following this fantastic series by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, this is a can't-miss issue. I heard on the spoiler grapevine that something very interesting will be happening with a certain Young Loki. Loki is set to star in a new series next year and this should be setting the stage for that, not to mention all the other crazy good stuff that happens in just about every issue of Young Avengers.

And that's a wrap. Six great books to look for plus new issues of Daredevil and Sex Criminals (which have been featured previously in this very column). Stop slacking and run, don't walk, to your LCS of choice and tell 'em the Colonel sent ya! Also, I recommend checking this space daily for Evan Arnold's Halloween Countdown, new episodes of the CoH Podcast, and Chris's irreverent ramblings!



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All-Winners and Not-Quites

In 1939, Marvel Comics #1 introduced The Human Torch and Namor the Sub-Mariner, marking the beginning of the Timely era of comics. With the creation of Captain America a short while later, there formed a trifecta of three mighty super heroes who would storm Nazi-occupied Europe and take the fight to the Axis. The trio of Cap, Torch, and Namor would remain the most popular Timely heroes for the rest of the decade, rivaled only by the mystery men in other publishers' titles. I've talked a little about those three, as well as Joe Simon's Fiery Mask character, in my previous columns. Today, the spotlight falls on some of the lesser characters who co-starred in books like Marvel Mystery Comics, Mystic Comics, and Daring. These characters all had fan bases of their own however, and some would even be revived in the silver age, although sometimes in name only.

Also appearing in the fateful publication of Marvel Comics #1 was the Angel, a powerless and maskless costumed defender of the home front. Created by Paul Gustavon in 1939 and originally envisioned as a pulp character, the Angel was born Thomas Halloway, the son of a prison warden who learns various tricks and trades from the inmates in his father's stead. Angel waged a one man campaign against the foreign saboteur known as the Cat's Paw. He is sometimes aided in his fight by the Mystic Cape of Mercury, that allows him flight, but he would more often ride into battle on his signature motorcycle. Gustavon's Angel is the link between the coming age of super-powered heroes and the mystery men of the past. The Angel is a pulp character at heart and filled that niche quite nicely, remaining Timely's most popular character outside of the the Big Three (Cap, Torch, Namor).
A lesser known heroine of Marvel/Timely's Golden Age is Claire Voyant, the original Black Widow. Her tie to the silver age iteration of the character, Natasha Romanov is in name alone. This Black Widow was a "spiritual medium" who would communicate with the dead and even encounter Satan himself in her adventures. She made a whopping five appearances in the Golden Age, all written and drawn by George Kapitan and Harry Sahle. The first of which was in 1940's Mystic Comics #4, where the narration warns the reader of "the strangest, most terrifying character in action picture magazines!" She is Timely's ultimate femme fatale, and her appearance that of the classic "bad girl" archetype. In her first appearance, she puts a curse on an unsuspecting family at the Devil's request, and is gunned down by the family's sole survivor. After her subsequent journey into Hell and back, she is granted a spider themed costume and an even more frightening set of supernatural gifts. Another leftover from the pulp and horror mags that Martin Goodman loved so much in his early years as a publisher, she never made as big an impact on the Timely readership as her bombastic opening narration promised.

Prior to the Fantastic Four, Stan Lee's most popular superhero creation is The Destroyer, whose adventures he penned with artist Jack Binder. I may be erroneously giving Binder the art credit here, as he and several others including Alex Schomberg all have a claim to the character's earliest episodes. The Destroyer is Keen Marlowe, a journalist trapped behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany. He is placed in a concentration camp and given a mysterious formula by a fellow prisoner that, like Captain America, gives him peak human physical prowess. This story appeared in 1941's Mystic Comics #6, at a time when concentration camps were known of but the scope of the Holocaust had yet to be revealed in full. Nonetheless, it's an interesting origin story in retrospect, as his time in the camp, along with the ghoulish skull-themed costume he would later don, makes him out to be a grittier version of the sparkling and shining Captain America. Also like Cap, The Destroyer fought the Nazis on their own turf from the beginning, reinforcing the Timely heroes’ status as freedom fighters on the front line. Like The Angel, he's one of the more popular characters outside of the trifecta, starring in over one hundred of his own adventures throughout the forties.

Not to be confused with the Quality Comics character of the same name, Miss America was one of the most prominent female superheroes since William Marston's Wonder Woman had struck a vein in 1940. Created by Otto Binder and Al Gabrielle, and featuring a cover by female artist Pauline Loth, she first appeared in 1943's Marvel Mystery Comics #49. By this time, the Timely universe of characters was rolling along quite well, but most of the female characters like Blonde Phantom and Venus had faded in favor of career woman characters like Millie the Model. As a matter of fact, not long after this the entire superhero bubble would burst. Miss America would star in her own spin off series entitled Miss America Comics the very next year (1944), but the superhero strips within were soon relegated to back-up features in favor of romance stories and other genres. Madeline Joyce was a socially aware teenage girl who wanted to help the Allies in any way possible and received an array of super powers from an experimental device that belonged to her wealthy father's scientist friend. Armed with super strength and a patriotically themed costume, she would fight alongside heroes like The Whizzer and Captain America in the All-Winners Squad, a team book akin to the Invaders, but with a larger roster and a wider variety of threats to face.
Last but not least, we have Marvel Boy, a character who would exist in several iterations even within the Golden Age and be revived in the Atlas era. The original Marvel Boy debuted in Daring Mystery Comics #6 in 1940. A lad with the powers of Hercules who dons a costume and joins the fight against tyranny. He was a Simon and Kirby creation, but never really took off, only appearing in two stories. Bob Oksner took a crack at revising the characters origin and playing up his role as a demigod of sorts, but again the strip never exploded onto the scene the way Torch and Namor did. I mention him here because I feel Marvel Boy is a sort of predecessor to Lee and Kirby's Thor in the Silver Age. The Golden Age Marvel Boy represents the ever-present link between superheroes and mythology. The character and named would later has cosmic connotations, as his powers and adventures would later be more science fiction and space-travel based. Despite his namesake, Marvel Boy was never the poster child for Timely, but more likely an attempt to cash in on the good name of Fawcett Comic's Captain Marvel and make a side buck off of confused potential readers.

These are just a few examples, and in the cases of Miss America and The Destroyer, the more popular ones. Next time, I plan to reveal some more obscure characters from the Golden Age, including my favorite oddball hero Marvex the Super Robot, and get into some Timely Bullpen politics. Bet you thought making comic books was all fun and games?


Monday, October 21, 2013

The Club of Heroes Episode 52: Pep & Prehistory

The next phase begins! Evan and Chris explore the history of Marvel, starting in 1939 with the debut of a little publisher called Timely. A collection of rogue writers and artists unlike any the primitive comics world had ever seen lay the foundation for the Marvel universe decades in the future. It's yet another journey into the past with your favorite budding armchair historians!

You can download or listen to the episode right HERE!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Grand Old Flag has fists

The year was 1939. Timely Comics publisher Martin Goodman had a hit on his hands with Carl Burgos' Human Torch character. The blazing android had found a leyline of intersecting pulp and science fiction themes that resonated with fans. Goodman urged Lloyd Jaquet, who at this time was the head of Funnies Inc., a comic book "packager" that supplied original content to publishers who were just dipping their toes in the medium, to create another fire-based hero and hopefully emulate and duplicate the success of the Torch. The talented and always dapper Joe Simon (his father was a tailor after all) was tasked with creating such a character.

Simon was a freelance artist whose illustrations could be found on the Paramount Theatre's production photos and in the pages of True Story magazine. Like many artists of the day, Simon even worked under various pseudonyms like "Gregory Sykes" to diversify his workload without alienating a potential employer. The creators were mystery men themselves, rushing from studio to studio handing off samples and completed works. Never wanting to be pigeon-holed in a single genre, the talented Mr. Simon would drop off a jungle-lord story here and western story there, all the while aspiring to make it big with a syndicated strip like the peerless Milton Caniff had done with Terry and the Pirates.

Jaquet asked and Simon delivered with his first heroic creation, the Fiery Mask. History shows the Fiery Mask would never attain the same popularity and longevity that the Torch had, but it certainly could've. The strip featured the same combination of bombastic heroics and science fiction that gave the Torch series legs, but with an even more tangible element of horror. Somehow, the Fiery Mask's world was bleaker and his adventures quite macabre. The first story follows scientist Jack Castle as he aids the police in investigating a disturbing trend among the city’s homeless; they are being repurposed as brainwashed zombies by a twenty foot tall madman called the Zombie Master. The Master is defeated by Castle's cunning and his own exploding ray device, which in turn gives Jack Castle a seemingly random set of superpowers. Castle dons a literal Fiery Mask and uses his Superman-like abilities and deadly pyrokenesis to fight crime and Nazi Saboteurs in the Golden Age. His control over fire is similar to DC's Green Lantern. The Fiery Mask could've been a contender, but it was not to be in the long run. Much of Simon's early work is in the shadow of Burgos's Human Torch; his Red Raven series faltered as well and was replaced by a Human Torch- dedicated title.

Simon's skill set grew, as did his reputation in the comic book field. Transitioning into 1940, Timely is no longer just a publisher outsourcing to freelance offices like Funnies Inc. for original content. Timely is a comic book entity unto itself now, and Joe Simon becomes their very first editor. Simon's specialty was speaking the artists' language, and along with Goodman's money, they lured away a young prospect who was building a reputation of his own at Fox comics: Jacob Kurtzberg. Kurtzberg is probably better known by his handle, Jack Kirby. The Simon and Kirby collaboration produced something bigger than either man could achieve on his own. Similar to the Fiery Mask and Human Torch, Simon and Kirby would try and re-create the success of another emerging hero type: the star-spangled patriot. Captain America, the ultimate super-soldier, would be the result.

Something about a superhero that is practically wearing a nation's flag has always interested me. Nearly all of the masked heroes and mystery men were American patriots, but none as literal as the Captain. Would-be army Private Steve Rogers was deemed 4F and rejected from basic training. Eager to serve his country by any means possible, he is blasted with vita-rays by the enigmatic Professor Reinstein (later retconned to Erskine) and unleashed on the battlefield with a peak human physique and the brain of a master tactician. Dr. Reinstein's Vita-Rays were a heavenly boon and Steve Rogers was an avenging angel against the tyranny of the emerging Third Reich. Comic book heroes would take up the fight against the Axis even before America herself, and for an industry almost entirely made up of Jewish immigrants and second generation immigrants, it should come as no surprise.

Captain America Comics hit the stands in December 1940, a year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor and was a smash hit, selling nearly a million copies. The very first issue features the good Captain punching Adolf Hitler right in the jaw. Comic books, as usual, were ahead of the curve. Fighting monster and "Zombie Masters" on the home front was getting stale, especially with the biggest super villain in the world rampaging through real life Europe. As I mentioned in my posts about the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner, Captain America would eventually team up with these other heroes on the battlefield. Cap's faithful sidekick Bucky would even lead a team of child soldiers called the Young Allies. Between this coalition and the Justice Society of America over at National (who were prevented from joining the fight overseas due to Hitler arming himself with the Spear of Destiny, but that's a story for another time), the concept of the superhero team was gaining traction and Marvel's shared universe was tighter than ever. It began with a clash between the Torch and Namor, and now the heroes were co-starring in each other’s mags more and more often. This would be the Marvel universe.

There are many other Golden Age heroes and creators who deserve a spotlight like this, and I'll cover a few more before I move on. The Timely era was the heyday of the superhero at this proto-Marvel Comics, but it would run out of steam in the post-war years. Other genres would get their turn in the limelight and a new generation of artists would emerge. The superhero (at least on the Timely/Atlas side) would remain dormant for a spell, until Jack Kirby and Stan Lee would blow the roof off the joint with the Fantastic Four. 

There's also more to say about the Simon and Kirby duo; their clashes with Goodman over royalties, and the clash they would have with each other over who did what on those early issues. Conflicts raged not only on the page, but in the bullpen as well.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

The History of War Comics Playlist

On the next episode of the Club of Heroes podcast, Chris and Evan begin the next phase of their historical exploration of the comic book industry. In the meantime check out their war comics retrospective, spanning the entire spectrum of conflict throughout history. Enjoy!

Part 1: Ground Zero

Part 2: Johnny Got His Gun

Part 3: Only The Dead Have Seen The End

Part 4: Super Green Beret Summer Vacation

Part 5: Too Hot To Handle, Too Cold To Hold

Part 6: A Real Murican Hero

Part 7: The One That Almost Wasn't

Part 8: Fight Terror

Friday, October 18, 2013

Halloween Countdown Day 13 - Tucker & Dale VS Evil (2011)

"It's true Chad, you're half hillbilly."
Welcome to yet another Halloween Countdown post, I'm your host and purveyor of the putrid, Eerie Evan. While this isn't exactly what you'd call a scary movie, it is certainly among the more unique offerings in recent years, and for those of you looking for a healthy dose of gallows humor with your autumnal film watching this season, look no more than this film directed by Eli Craig, appropriated titled Tucker & Dale VS Evil.

This may be the most fun you'll have for Halloween movies, as it takes the convention of the killer rural dwellers that we've seen established in previous movies (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hills Have Eyes, Friday the 13th)and turns the trope on its head. Tucker (Tudyk) and Dale (Labine) are headed up to hang out a fixer-upper-cabin that Tucker purchased for the weekend, while at the same time a bunch of very kill-able (I swear that they're just like ketchup packets) college students head up to vacation at a nearby lake, yadda yadda, some people aren't going to be back for midterms. You've heard this set-up a million times before I'm sure, this is where the movie starts to shine.

When the two groups initially meet, the college students think Tucker and Dale are stereotypical tabaccky spitting woods dwellers, when we've have a previous established scene where it shows that Tucker and Dale are just ordinary people who will soon be unwittingly caught up in a crazy web of accidental deaths, misunderstandings, and bees. BEEEEEES.

One unfortunate visit to the lake with both parties present is enough to convince the college kids that Tucker and Dale are hillbilly psychos who have kidnapped one of their own...of course this is totally, completely, wrong. Our college students take on Tucker and Dale, and in the resulting wackiness ended up killing themselves. Whether they're accidentally tossing themselves into Wood chippers, running into tree limbs, or setting themselves on fire Tucker and Dale are utterly flummoxed by these 20 something year olds killing themselves all over their property.


And when you aren't laughing your head off at the satire of the conventions of the genre or the unfortunate ends of our would-be heroes also works as a demonstration of why we shouldn't be quick to judge people. Mostly because you might end up running into a wood chipper. 

Usually I'd toss in the trailer here, because it ruins the movie I'm not going too. Instead, you'll be able to watch this one on Netflix and I do urge you to check it out, this one is way up there with Army of Darkness as far as horror comedies go. Don't miss it!     

Halloween Countdown Day 14 - Hell No (2013)

Greetings and salutations my fellow fiends, Eerie Evan bringing you yet another Halloween countdown post. Now, I've seen a lot of horror films in my days, but I've never seen something quite like this. I can't describe Hell No and do it justice, so I'll just let the trailer speak for itself.

I can't wait for this one to come out!

Halloween Countdown Day 15 - The Changeling (1980)

"That house is not fit to live in. No one's been able to live in it. It doesn't want people."
Minnie Huxley

You know my fellow fiends, there is nothing quite as unnerving as a good haunted house story. Perhaps because there is such an unsettling quality about a home being violated so blatantly by supernatural elements. We would like to think of our homes as places of rest and retreat from the world, beyond the reproach of spirits or salesman for that matter. This, coupled with themes of loss and despondency is what makes The Changeling one of the most frightening movies I've ever seen.

Make no mistake however, this flick does have its flaws. In particular it suffers from being a relic of the time (70's style pacing, a cheesy line or two, being a little longer than what a modern audience would find palatable) despite all this, I still think it is vastly underrated. The opening is utterly devastating. John Russell (George C. Scott) watches from a phonebooth as his wife and daughter are crushed underneath the wheels of a car after it loses control. Although this scene isn't terribly graphic, it doesn't need to be. It is very clear that this character has lost everything in a freak accident that could happen to anybody.


Unable to cope with the loss of his wife and child, he packs up his bags and moves to a mansion in Seattle. As he slowly starts to put his life back together, teaching music at a nearby college (Seattle U. perhaps?), odd things begin happening. Russell funnels his grief into uncovering what is going on in his new home. He finds a false wall and opens it to find a room within...this film is obscure enough that I won't spoil the rest, but I will say that the twists and turns that this film takes will keep even seasoned horror film goers guessing.


Speaking of grief and despondency, Russell is largely alone throughout this movie. The creaking mansion that he rents out looms over his sense of loss and hopelessness. The atmosphere of the house is thick with an air of melancholy that is only made worse by Russell's despair which is movingly tied together with the film's score. The tragic underpinnings of the music played throughout the film are filled with the undertow of a quiet, unsettling menace.

Don't expect any kind of Poltergeist over-the-top style  hauntings here, but what you can expect is a bunch of really unnerving, unexpected scenes. Like the one where a ball that Russell keeps as a momento of his dead daughter rolls down the stairs.


As per usual, I've included the trailer below. Until next time.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Club of Heroes Podcast Episode 51: Fight Terror

Special guest Matt joins Chris and Evan as they wrap up their discussion on war comics and the impact 9/11 had on the comic book industry. The works of Art Spiegelman, Joe Sacco, Jason Aaron, and Garth Ennis all get a mention. And fasten your seatbelts as Evan recounts the story of Drummer Driver!

You can download or listen to the episode HERE!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Colonel's Picks for October 16th, 2013

The 2013 New York Comic-Con has come and gone, leaving exciting announcments and surprise reveals in its wake for the fan community to chew on heading into next year. Whether it's Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham returning to Marvelman or the upcoming Jim Steranko and Jack Kirby Artist Edition volumes, 2014 is gonna be a kick-ass year for everyone but my wallet. Luckily, the pile this week is pretty thin so maybe I can start saving now. Here's what I'll be checking out today at my LCS of choice!

Imagine Agents #1 (Boom!)

The concept alone makes this new series by Brian Joines and Bachan sound like a winner: one part Men in Black, one part Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, this comic stars the Agents of I.M.A.G.I.N.E. as they try to wrangle out of control imaginary friends from their equally combustable young creators. Boom! has a great track record with kids comics that transcend their intended age group, so if you just want a fun comic, give this one a try.

Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine #1 (Dark Horse)

Dan Jolley and Leonard Kirk revive reformed convict Travis Clevenger for a new action packed romp. The rights to Jolley's creation Bloodhound finally reverted to Jolley from DC last year and now the story can commence without any of that pesky editorial interference or mandatory tie-in issues starring Firestorm. If you like films like Walking Tall, this series is right up your alley. Kirk is a hell of an artist by the way, and was really strutting his stuff on Peter David's X-Factor run until recently.

Star Trek: Khan #1 (IDW)

It's the shocking origin of Khan Noonien Singh presented in the form of a lovely comic book by Mike Johnson, Claudia Balboni, and Paul Shipper. This isn't your daddy's Khan either, this is the sexy new version based visually on actor Benedict Cumberbatch. It's Khan, so I'm sure there will be some Eugenics Wars and some rising to power and all that good stuff.

Letter 44 #1 (Oni Press)

Charles Soule (there's that name again) and Alberto Albequerque blends history, space travel, and West Wing-style intrigue in a new series from Oni Press. President Elect Stephen Blades walks into the oval office on his first day on the job and discovers a letter left by his predecessor revealing the truth behind the U.S.A.'s forays into space travel. Mums the word on extraplanetary affairs like this one, but can President Blades keep a lid on the coming threat from beyond the stars?

And before you return to your regularly scheduled web browsing and forum chattery, be sure to check out Mr. Arnold's Halloween Countdown and Mr. Bearden's Missives on Marvel History. And if audio stimulation is more your bag, then check out the latest CoH Podcast, Episode #51, where the gang takes a look at war comics in the modern era!

"Excelsior!" oops. . . .I meant "Cheers."