Cover charges: the Return of the Fantastic Four, or “Marvel is doing WHAT!!?”

I love the Fantastic Four. I was a bigger DC fan through my youth (during the Silver and Bronze Age), but even then, I collected Fantastic Four comics. The first Marvel character I knew was Spider-Man, naturally. That’s probably the character most non-Marvel fans were most familiar with…

As I became a collector I appreciated and became a fan of Thor. Avengers also became a favorite and thanks to reprints and the black-and-white Essentials series I’ve managed to read most of the adventured of the Big Guns (Iron Man, Captain America, etc.).

My daughter says my favorite hero is Thor. For Marvel characters, that is probably true, with Captain America a close second.

But comic-book-wise, as a group dynamic, the Fantastic Four is my favorite. While waiting three weeks on Long Island it was the Essential collections of the FF that helped me pass the time. It was my comfort comic during stressful times.

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After a long legal hiatus, Marvel will resume publishing a Fantastic Four comic starting in August. Why so long? The rumor is Marvel cancelled any FF comic in retaliation for Disney/Marvel not assimilating absorbing attaining the rights to the group cinematically from 20th Century Fox. I suppose the logic was if Marvel nixed any FF comics, the movies would suffer.

Funny how the word “suffer” automatically brings up the 2015 Fantastic Four film. It wasn’t baaad, but it wasn’t good. I liked it better than Uncle Thor’s Goofy House of Wacky Fun (others call it Thor: Ragnarok), but I enjoyed my colonoscopy more than Ragnarok … maybe because I saw Fantastic Four on DVD for free with my pizza order from Marcos and I had to pay to see Ragnarok (which actually cost about the same as my colonoscopy…).

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So as of August 2018 the Fantastic Four will be once again a comic published by Marvel. To celebrate, Marvel is honoring the event in much the same way they have handled the FF over the past decade …

… poorly.

The party line is as follows:

“The Fantastic Four have returned, and what better way to celebrate the homecoming of Sue, Reed, Ben and Johnny than with a collection of variant covers highlighting the different iterations of Marvel’s beloved first family? This August, some of the industry’s most acclaimed creators will bring you the Fantastic Four through the years, highlighting the team during their many different and memorable eras in Marvel Comics!”

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Here are some of the covers … would YOU buy these comics based on these covers?

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This just screams “The new Iron Man comic! I must buy it!”

 

 

 

Now, at least THESE comics feature the star (well, She Hulk WAS also an Avenger) … but again the interior story has nothing to do with the cover…

 

 

Another comic that at least has the star on it. And I must admit this is a GREAT cover! (based on the events of Fantastic Four #347-349 in 1990 or so)

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Here is a sweet variant cover by Chris Sprouse …

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I will probably pick up the new FF comic – at least for a few issues … out of loyalty if nothing else. Let’s hope for good stories and good art …

{sigh}, yeah, me either…

Original material by Michael Curry

 

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Welcome Back Kotter #3, March 1977

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“The Return of Augie Berelli”

Cover: Bob Oksner

Writer: Tony Isabella, Pencils: Ric Estrada & Bob Oksner

Inker: Bob Oksner, Editor: Joe Orlando

A thug visits Kotter and his wife at their home. He warns Kotter that Augie Berelli will be at the school that day and Kotter better be there.

Kotter tells his wife that Berelli, one of the most notorious gangsters in the country, was an original sweathog and a classmate of Kotter’s! In fact, Kotter won the heart of a fair maiden also wooed by Berelli, who swore vengeance!

At school, Kotter is beside himself – he believes Epstein’s note from his mother, takes Horshack seriously and apologizes to Woodman! The Sweathogs offer to help their teacher.

Berelli walks into the classroom and says hello to Kotter and his nephew Vinnie Barbarino.

NEPHEW!!? That’s right, Berelli isn’t here for vengeance, but to thank Kotter for the good job he is doing teaching his nephew.  The Sweathogs are impressed by Berelli’s charm … and wealth!

Kotter reminds his class that Berelli is a criminal, infuriating Barbarino who leaves in a huff.

The FBI approach Kotter and ask him to help catch Berelli. Barbarino hears the conversation and throws a punch at the agent. Kotter agrees to help the FBI in exchange for releasing Vinnie.

The next day, Berelli charges into the classroom to confront Kotter. The FBI get the drop on him, until he takes Kotter hostage. Barbarino tries to intervene and is rewarded with a smack from his uncle. Berelli whispers to Kotter to fight back and catch him. Fumblingly (is that a word?) he finally does so.

It turns out this confrontation was planned by Berelli and the FBI as part of a guilty plea. After Berelli found out Vinnie punched a G-Man, he realized his nephew was going down his path and did not want Vinnie to turn out like him. So, he arranged his capture by Kotter; who has the one thing Berelli does not have – his nephew’s respect.

The last panel shows Vinnie at his classroom desk crying.

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The letter column printed positive review of issue #1, most were thankful the comic was not done in the Binky/Scooter (read Archie) mode of half-page gags and two or three-page stories.

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The art here is still wonderful. The team of Estrada and Oksner work on these characters, although at times there is a lack of background art. Perhaps they were rushed by a dreaded deadline doom (to borrow a phrase from the competition)?

Tony Isabella is a wonderful comic book writer, prose author, comic book historian (1001 Comic Books You Must Read Before You Die and July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic Book Life of Tony Isabella, Volume 1) and is a very nice guy – the creator of Black Lightning, the Champions, Misty Knight and more! Black Lightning is the most recent (and welcome) addition to the current “DC/TV” line on the CW network and Tony’s latest comic book work is Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands at DC.

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Batwoman coming to the CW

From http://wegotthiscovered.com/tv/falls-arrowverse-crossover-introduce-batwoman/, thanks for allowing me to reprint it here!

Batwoman will be part of the DC-CW Universe.

With Gotham ending next season, the CW can slowly assimilate the hometown of the Batman Family (and maybe its gallery of rogues other than Ras Al-Ghul – whose incorporation was one of the highlights of the show!).

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“When Stephen Amell teased that he’d be serving up an announcement this week, I’d assumed it’d have something to do with Arrow moving to a new night, which, as it happens, was confirmed earlier today (it’s relocating to Mondays at 9 pm this fall). But what I didn’t expect was for him to set the internet ablaze.

Believe it or not, none other than Batwoman will be introduced in this fall’s Arrowverse crossover! Marking her historic first appearance in live action, here’s what Amell had to say at The CW’s upfront presentation regarding this momentous occasion:

“We’re incredibly excited to announce that we’ll be doing another crossover event this fall on the CW, and we’ll be introducing a new character. For the very first time appearing, we’ll be fighting alongside Batwoman, which is terrific…

Previously, Bruce Wayne had been name-dropped on Arrow, but there’s no way Batman can make a guest appearance on the show due to Gotham‘s existence. Regardless, being able to secure the services of his cousin, Kate Kane, is one hell of a big deal.

Additionally, CW President Mark Pedowitz had this to offer:

“We are adding the city of Gotham into the Arrowverse. This will be another full-throttled, action-packed event.”

After seeing the heroes of the Arrowverse contend with an immortal, an alien invasion, and Nazis from a parallel Earth in recent years, I’m all for seeing something more grounded this time around, awesome as those other events were. Hopefully more information trickles out of San Diego this July, but journalists and fans alike are no doubt about to begin months of speculating regarding which villains will show up. Stay tuned for more.”

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Even after I savaged the last two seasons of Arrow, I certainly will tune in for more information!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

 

Kobra #4, September 1976

Behold, the Bronze Age!

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“Brother’s Keeper – Brother’s Killer” Written by Martin Pasko, Art by Angel Gabriele. Inker: Lowell Anderson, Colorist: Liz Berube, Letterer: Ben Oda, Editor: Gerry Conway, Assistant Editors: Paul Levitz and Jack C. Harris

Cover by: Joe Kubert

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Synopsis: Kobra leaves his New York headquarters to go to Peru to oversee an archeological dig. There his crew find another Ovoid similar to that found in issue #1. As before, the Ovoid opens and a second Servitor attacks! The blast to Kobra’s arm also causes Jason to flee from his graduate school class. Melissa follows Jason, a synopsis of the comic’s plot is given (“I just met my brother … we have a symbiotic link…”) and Jason questions Melissa about her past relationship with Kobra. Melissa runs out before giving any answers.

Meanwhile, the battle with the Servitor ends in the machine’s dismantling. During the battle it carried a metallic cylinder that spoke to Kobra after the battle. It is an alien from the planet Illandus, who came to retrieve the pod that creates the Servitors.  Kobra takes the Illandian to his New York City lair.

Jason returns to his apartment after a late class to find Randu Singh waiting. After a quick confrontation Randu asks Jason’s help in defeating Kobra – Randu fears Kobra will soon declare war against his native India.

The Illandian reveals its physical form to Kobra – a two-headed four-armed alien that shall soon split in two again. Kobra is intrigued by its duel nervous system and plans to examine the alien to eliminate the link between himself and his brother. They discover the first ovoid has again produced a Servitor. The Illiandian wishes to take his probes and Servitors and return to his home, but Kobra says there are forces on our planet that will stop the alien from doing so.

Well, he IS correct …

And convinces the Illiandian to help Kobra stop him! Kobra’s first victim is Lt. Perez – whose outgoing plane is torn apart by one Servitor and Perez crushed by another! Jason and Randu arrive in the midst of the “Chaos at Gate 57”. Jason confronts his brother.

The Illiandian realizes that it is Kobra who is preventing him/them from retrieving the pod and unleashed a wall of flame at the airport. Jason and Kobra continue to fight over what happened to Melissa – Jason is convinced Kobra is involved in the disappearance.

An ovoid appears around the Servitors and the Illiandian and whisks them back into the alien vessel. Kobra is enraged and strikes Jason now that all his plans have been thwarted – even Project R might be abandoned, he says!

Jason awakes to find the airport in chaos, Perez dead and Kobra long gone (but how, he thinks? Kobra would have been knocked out cold, too!). Perhaps he should seriously consider Randu’s suggestion about making the ultimate sacrifice…

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The letter page explains that the magazine was reprieved from the pending cancellation of #3, but also says its mailbox is almost empty of letters! AND this is the fourth artwork team in as many issues! Bad signs …

This issue had the famous editorial that ran in all the Conway’s Corner magazine:

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Oh how I yearned for a team-up between Kobra and Kamandi!

And as for Jason’s foreboding dread of Kobra being more powerful than he (Jason was knocked out while Kobra escaped). Even when I read this back in 76 my first thought was … “Well, wouldn’t his followers have carried him away … or wouldn’t he still be teleported to his ship…?”

This issue is a nice book-end with issue #1 – explaining some of that storyline while (thankfully) forgetting the super-hero-y aspects of #s 2 & 3. No one was expecting the series to get better.

But it did!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

Agents of Shield Renewed for Sixth Season

The agents will return for another season! ABC has renewed Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD for a sixth season. Unlike the usual 22-episode count, season six will air during the 2018-2019 season with 13 episodes. It remains to be seen if this will be the final season for the superhero drama.

Earlier this year, executive producer Jed Whedon teased that the events of Avengers: Infinity War would “open up a whole new playground” for the show if it received another season. “The thing that we love about what our show has become is, the movies sort of blaze a path. Doctor Strange introduced magic, all of a sudden we could have Ghost Rider on our show. We’re just waiting for that movie to come out, so it can open up a whole new playground for us.”

It seems season six will now give fans the chance to see how the fallout from Infinity War effected the agents. The fifth season finale aired Friday, May 18, which sees Coulson’s life hanging in the balance as General Talbot prepares to tear the earth apart in his quest for more gravitonium.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. stars Clark Gregg, Ming-Na Wen, Chloe Bennet, Henry Simmons, Elizabeth Henstridge, Ian De Caestecker, and Natalia Cordova-Buckley.

Thank you Scoop for allowing me to reprint your article: http://scoop.previewsworld.com/Home/4/1/73/1012?ArticleID=212531

So, the question is … why? Agents of Shield is the unloved stepchild of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and on a constant mission of catching up. It has always reflected the events of the MCU with no reciprocity. None. A ship is about to explode in the atmosphere killing everyone on earth. Why wasn’t Iron Man called in? And as far as I know, the Avengers STILL are unaware of Colson’s survival – the whole reason for their staying together during the last half of the first movie. What would Captain America make of what they did to Colson?

Incorporating the events of Infinity War may make for some interest episodes. But what then?

After an interesting premier season, the next two seasons were abysmal (oh boy, they’re fighting Ward again this week …).

The first few episodes of Agents were everything that was wonderful about the MCU – fun and exciting. The show’s reaction to the events of Captain America Winter Soldier brought back the excitement for a time, as did shows that actually folded into the MCU (Sif’s appearance in “Yes Men” (1st season) and “Who You Really Are” (2nd season)).

Unfortunately, it was followed by two years of tedium … Ward, Inhumans, Ward, more Inhumans, more Ward, “I know there’s still good inside Ward!” Blam blam! “I’m bleeding out – but I know there’s still good inside Ward…”, still more Inhumans, still more Ward, Powers Boothe, and still even more Ward.

Then came Season Four and Ghost Rider. Despite some finally-injected-differences, their ratings were still in the lower mesosphere and have remained there.

I think they are doing the right thing – 13 episodes is enough to tell the tale (actually it is about 12 more than should be needed) and if the ratings are still horrid, Disney will renew it anyway.

Comic book fans should be grateful – if this wasn’t a Marvel show it would be jettisoned in its third week.  Agents of Shield averaged 2.073 million viewers per episode (https://tvseriesfinale.com/tv-show/marvels-agents-shield-season-five-ratings/), abysmal for a network show (the #1 shows bring in 11 million viewers, the #10 show usually brings in 7 million).

Let’s hope the next season is as good as the past two. Enjoy it while we can – they could bring Ward back at any time now…

In the meantime, Season 5 will be available on Netflix as of June 17th.

Original Material 2018 by Michael Curry

Super Friends #3, February, 1977

“The Cosmic Hit Man?”

Cover: Ramona Fradon and Bob Smith

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Ramona Fradon, Inker: Bob Smith

Editor: Dennis O’Neil, Executive Editor: Joe Orlando

As two separate teams, the Super Friends defeat Spectrum and Anti-Man while Wendy and Marvin safely watch from the sidelines. But after their defeat, the villains disappear.

They were captured by Dr. Ihdrom along with a hundred other intergalactic villains. He atomizes all the villains and coalesces them into one being: the World Beater!

World Beater quickly dispatches the Justice League and then appears in the Hall of Justice to battle the Super-Friends. Wonder Woman whisks Wendy, Marvin and Wonder Dog and tells them of her mother’s prophecy (from last issue) that they are earth’s only hope!

World Beater defeats the Super-Friends with ease (we the readers learn that Dr. Ihdrom has been captured and jailed for his murderous crimes) leaving only Wendy, Marvin & Wonderdog.

They come up with a cunning plan: they assume if he has all the super-villains powers, perhaps he also has their weaknesses. They trick World Beater into using Spectrum’s x-ray powers (Anti-Man’s weakness – that is how Superman defeated him in the earlier pages of the story). World Beater is weakened and passes out.

Wendy and Marvin revive the Super-Friends and the Justice Leaguers and receive their thanks.

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The letter column explains why these five heroes were given the job of training their young recruits: through some inventive reimagining of their origins, it is explained that Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman and Aquaman were all trained to be superheroes in their youths. Thus, having been trained as children, they know how to train children.

Ah, yes.

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The story here is still oriented to the younger audience, but still keeps a cosmic scale to it. Plus it guests most of the Justice League, whetting the appetites of the young TV-show fans who picked up the comic to read the adventures of other DC stars!

Ramono Fradon’s art is pitch-perfect for this comic. Her style is easy on the eyes and accessible to young fans who might be overwhelmed by … say … Mike Grell if he did the book. She would have been my pick for the book, too. And Kurt Schaffenberger…

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

The CW Fall 2018-19 Schedule

Changes are coming to our DC-CW shows. Well, at least on the days they are airing.

Originally the DC-CW shows spanned the week, now they are lumped into the first few days.

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All times are Eastern…

SUNDAY
8-9 PM — Supergirl

MONDAY
8-9 PM — DC’S Legends of Tomorrow
9-10 PM — Arrow

TUESDAY
8-9 PM  — The Flash
9-10 PM — Black LIghtning

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My internet trolling has not help me learn why. The ratings for the DC-CW shows are still stellar (for the CW) and all the shows ended up in their top ten.

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!