Adoption Month Spotlight: Calista Flockhart!

It’s National Adoption Awareness Month! This year my theme will be famous celebrities who have adopted!

Calista Flockhart!

From Wikipedia:

Calista Kay Flockhart (born November 11, 1964) is an American actress. She is best known for starring as the title character in the legal comedy-drama series Ally McBeal (1997–2002) and Kitty Walker in the drama series Brothers & Sisters (2006–2011). She has also been featured in a number of films, including the comedy film The Birdcage (1996), the romantic comedy film A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999), and the drama film Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her (2000).

Flockhart has won a Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award, and garnered three Emmy Award nominations.

Flockhart

From: https://mom.me/entertainment/4004-celeb-moms-who-have-adopted/item/calista-flockhart/

In 2001, 36 and single, Calista Flockhart decided to become a mom, adopting son Liam, now 10. Naturally, a few months later, she met the love of her life, Harrison Ford, while spilling a drink on him at a party. Already a father of four, Ford embraced Flockhart and her son with open arms. “She’s brought a child back into my home,” Ford told Reader’s Digest in 2009. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to be a part of a child’s growing up, which is always an endless springtime. You see the blossoming and the growing and the nurturing and the payoff.”

(Interesting that an article about Calista Flockhart spends most of its time on Harrison Ford …)

Ironically, Calista has recently been known as playing Cat Grant on the CW’s Supergirl, whose eponymous character was also adopted by Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers (named Fred and Edna Danvers in the comics), an echo of Jonathan and Martha Kent’s adopting of Superman…

See? I can’t get away from comic books no matter how hard I try …

***

frontcover

“Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and how Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped” leads a couple through their days of infertility treatments and adoption. It is told with gentle (and sometimes not-so-gentle) humor from the perspective of a nerdy father and his loving and understanding wife.

Join Mike and Esther as they go through IUIs and IFVs, as they search for an adoption agency, are selected by a birth mother, prepare their house, prepare their family, prepare themselves and wait for their daughter to be born a thousand miles from home.

WINNER: 2015 Reader’s Favorite Book Award Finalist, Non-Fiction Humor

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2015 New York Book Festival!

WINNER: Honorable Mention, 2014 Great Midwest Book Festival

 

Abby’s Road is available at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and at Smashwords.

 

Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

 

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Oh Mighty Isis #1: DC-TV

Isis #1. November 1976.
Cover by: Kurt Schaffenberger
“Scarab – the Man Who Would Destroy!”
Story/Editor: Denny O’Neil; Art: Ric Estrada and Wally Wood

Logo Isis
From DC Wikia:
An ancient Egyptian pyramid is being erected in the town square, as Andrea, Cindy, Rick and Doctor Joshua Barnes, the High School Principal, watch. From the pyramid emerges Scarab, an evil sorcerer who was imprisoned inside. As he uses his magic to capture the others, Andrea transforms herself into The Mighty Isis and saves her friends. Scarab then attacks Isis with a lightning bolt and she deflects it with one of her spells. Scarab takes to the air to get away and Isis follows him. To distract her, Scarab causes an airplane to disintegrate while airborne and Isis has to rescue the passengers. Scarab gets away and Isis returns to the high school to become Andrea.
She is met by Cindy, who asks Andrea about the time she helped in finding a pyramid. Andrea’s mind then wanders back to the time she found the amulet that gave her the powers of Isis. As Andrea looks through magic books to find a way to defeat Scarab, he roams the streets. He uses his telepathy to locate Isis but finds Andrea instead. He uses her to set a trap for Isis by creating a magic aura around her that destroys anyone with magical powers. He sets fire to Andrea’s house, then flies to the White House to capture the President. Meanwhile, Andrea’s pet bird, a crow named Tut, unties the gag in her mouth. Andrea quickly says, “Mighty Isis!” As she is transformed into the Goddess, the aura that surrounded her is destroyed instantly. She commands the fire to go out, then takes to the sky to go after Scarab. On the way to the White House, Isis uses her powers to transport the pyramid to the White House grounds. She creates oak trees to camouflage it. Isis challenges Scarab to face her. As Scarab attacks Isis, she lowers the pyramid and traps him inside. Afterward, Andrea explains to her friends that when Scarab was forced to reenter the pyramid, he would be imprisoned there forever.

***

The text page provides a brief history of the goddess.

***

This comic was on the shelves in July 1976. By this time the TV show Isis was completed her first season. In September, season two, comprising seven new shows, would debut.
A great beginning. The art is wonderful – Wally Wood’s inks dominates Estradas’ pencils – who is himself a great artist – with a very clean and (otherwise) identifiable style.
The story was NOT aimed at children. Adult comic book fans would find the story and art enjoyable, too. Like the TV show, there was a lesson, of sorts, at the end; but it was in the context of character conversation as opposed to Isis speaking directly into the screen (as was done in her first appearance in Shazam #25).
Isis’ incantations are wordy, but never annoying (compared to, say, Zatanna, where one needs a pocket mirror to read her spells). At one point in their battle Scarab calls her “noisome”, which means smelly, not noisy.
I’d bet she smells nice … more flowery and earthy than perfume-y … I don’t know why …

logo

***

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!

DC-TV: Saturday Morning comics…

DC-TV

When most people think of DC television … well … nothing pops into mind.

When most fans of DC comics think of DC television, their minds go to the live-action shows such as Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Gotham, or the upcoming Black Lightning.

Some comics fans may think of excellent animated series like Batman: TAS, Batman Beyond and Justice League Unlimited.

house ad (October 1976)

But for some of us the phrase “DC-TV” takes us back to 1976 and 1977 and four comic books published by DC but put under a different banner (now we would call it an “imprint”): the DC-TV Series of comics!

Logo Superfriends

Superfriends originally aired in 1973 and 1974, lasting only one season. It was revived as a mid-season replacement in 1976 and one version or the other continue to air into the mid-1980s. The comic Superfriends (TV shows are italicized, comics underlined) was published starting November 1976 until August of 1981, lasting 47 issues. The Saturday morning cartoon still being popular, the comic used the DC-TV logo through its entire run.

Logo Shazam

Shazam (Captain Marvel) debuted in September 1974 for two seasons with a third as part of the Shazam/Isis Hour in late 1976 – coinciding with the DC/TV comic books debut. The comic book published its first DC issue in 1973 and was suspended in early 1976 – despite the still-popular TV show. It was revived as a DC-TV comic and lasted for 11 more issues (until June 1978), the last two issues without the DC-TV logo. The comic book lasted longer than the TV show, but to be fair it started before the show as well …

Logo Isis

Isis debuted in September 1975 and lasted for 2 years and 22 episodes. She was never actually given her own program, but linked with Captain Marvel in the Shazam/Isis Hour. Her comic lasted 8 issues until January 1978, lasting longer than the television show – athough the character appeared in animated form in other Filmation shows (such as Freedom Force in 1980).

Logo Kotter

Welcome Back Kotter also debuted in September 1975 and lasted until May of 1979. Its comic lasted ten issues until May 1978. An unpublished story and other features were printed in a tabloid-size special edition.

Rumors abound of negotiations of a MASH comic book. If true, it did not go far.

Shazam #25, with an October 1976 cover date, introduced us not only to Isis, but the DC-TV series. The other three comic books debuted in November 1976, but available on the newsstands (as per the house ad) June, July and August of 1976.

For only the second time in its history, National/DC changed its logo to accommodate this special series of comics. The first issues had a simple DC-TV logo attached to a console television showing us the star of the magazine. This was during their “cigar-band” logo period. When the publisher went back to the logo in the upper-left corner, it added a square-shaped “TV” to its circular starred “DC”.

I’ll review most of the DC-TV line-up in this blog. I’ll stop with Super Friends #13 (July 1978) when it became the last title of the line.

I hope you enjoy the blog series and I look forward to your comments.

***

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 #1: Kirby’s DC leftovers, but great pulpy fun!

Behold!

Bronze age

Kobra # 1, March 1976 (remember the cover date of comics is about three months ahead of the actual publication date, blah blah blah…)

“Fangs of the Kobra” written by Martin Pasko and Jack Kirby, art by Kirby and Pablo Marcus. Editor: Gerry Conway, Inkers: D. Bruce Berry and Pablo Marcos, Colorist: Carl Gafford, Letterer: Ben Oda

Cover by: Ernie Chua (Chan)

Synopsis: (why type it all out when someone else has done it for me?)

(the following paragraph courtesy of ReadComicsOnline):

Deep beneath the streets of Manhattan, assassin-for-hire, Horst Buchner, along with two associates, are ushered through secret tunnels, to keep a prearranged rendezvous with Kobra. At the first sign of insult, Buchner’s men draw on Kobra. Put off by Kobra’s arrogance, Buchner declines his offer of employment, deciding, instead, to rob Kobra of several intriguing artifacts. Still held at gunpoint, Kobra leads Buchner and his gunsels into another chamber, one that holds Kobra’s most unique artifact, the Ovoid. Within the confines of the still shimmering meteoroid, Kobra reveals an enormous alien robot, he calls the Servitor. At Kobra’s command, the Servitor steps forward, then murders Horst and his associates, pummeling them to death with its giant metal fists. Sensing that his brother, Jason Burr, is soon to learn of Kobra’s existence, and whereabouts, Kobra sends the Servitor up to the streets, on a mission to slay Burr. The Servitor leaves a swath of destruction in its path, as it makes its way to Columbia university. Despite opposition from New York’s finest, the Servitor moves inexorably to the student union building. Inside, Lieutenant Perez is interviewing Jason Burr. Just as Perez is about to reveal to Burr the existence and identity of his brother, the Servitor crashes through the wall. Lifting Burr up in one of its gargantuan hands, the Servitor, at Kobra’s command, begins crushing him. Suddenly, Kobra, too, feels the crushing force of the Servitor’s grip compressing his own chest. Realizing that he and Burr share a sympathetic bond, Kobra orders the Servitor to release him. The countermand causes the Servitor to self-destruct…

Jason meets Lt. Perez who tells Jason the secret origin of Kobra …

(from Wikipedia): (Kobra) “… was born part of a set of Siamese twins, but was stolen at birth by the Cult of the Kobra god, since a prophecy claimed he would lead them to rule the world. Under their teaching, he became a dangerous warrior and a sadistic criminal mastermind. He led the cult into using advanced technology to menace the world.  … However, unknown to the cult, he had a psychic link to his twin brother, Jason, who knew nothing of Kobra. As a result, one felt what the other felt, including pain. Because of this, his brother was recruited by an international agency to help them combat Kobra.”

Perez convinces Jason to injure himself (holding his hand over a candle flame. Kobra cannot stand the pain any further and confronts Jason for the first time). Perez and his men try to capture Kobra, who slithers through their trap. The police shoot at the terrorist. “No guns!” shouts Jason to no avail. Were they trying to kill Kobra? IF they do, he will be collateral damage! Kobra escapes unharmed …

***

(from Wikipedia):

(Kobra was) “… created by Jack Kirby for a proposed DC Comics series called King Kobra, the first issue of which was both written and drawn by Kirby (the letter column discussed Infantino and Kirby wanting to do a take on the Corsican Brothers). This first issue then sat in DC inventory for over a year, during which time Kirby left the publisher to return to Marvel Comics.  Eventually the concept was handed over to writer Martin Pasko with orders to make a series out of it. Pasko was unimpressed with King Kobra, feeling it to be a throwaway idea churned out by Kirby as he was preparing to leave DC, and tried to make the best of the assignment by whiting out all of Kirby’s original dialogue, rescripting the issue, and having Pablo Marcos redraw some of the art (and re-)titled simply Kobra. … Pasko later reflected, “I wrote all of Kobra with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek—it was a preposterous exercise dumped in my lap, and it helped pay the rent on a very nice place in the Village.”

Dumped? Even the letter column introducing the comic said the title was “thrown” into Conway’s Corner. It seemed no in at DC gave much of a damn about the comic.

Pasko was correct about this preposterous exercise, but THIS pre-teen loved every issue of it! I still have every issue of the original run. The comic is great fun straight from the pulps – not a caped crime-fighter in sight! It was akin to Dr. Yen Sin or the Mysterious Wu Fang.  DC did something it did not do often – it took a chance! An unknown villain in the lead and an unknown cast! Very shortly it would launch another villain-led comic: the beloved Secret Society of Super-Villains, firmly entrenched in the DC’s superhero world.

Kirby’s art by the mid-1970s was an acquired taste: exaggerated physiologies, gaping mouths, fingers the size of Snickers bars, women whose eyes were set below the center horizontal line of their faces, etc. Marcos did his best redrawing Jason and Perez, but the redo was glaring and obvious. I would have loved cringing at Kirby’s original dialogue, but Pasko did a fine rewrite with what he had (I kept expecting one of the Cobra Cult to say, in Kirby’s typical expositional shorthanded way, “We must obey!”).

Not an auspicious beginning to only the second DC title to headline a villain (The Joker was first by less than a year). Villains starring in comics was a rarity (and was to remain so for the next several years – nowadays it is somewhat common): the Golden Age had its Yellow Claw and the Sub-Mariner (who was more of an anti-hero than an outright villain). The Silver Age, with its Comics Code, was more cautious about villain-led features. Even the House of Ideas itself – Marvel in the Silver Age – only gave Doctor Doom the lead in an anthology without giving him his own title.

The comic got better in later issues … much better …

***

 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!

Adventure Comics #425: a new, less super direction…

Behold!

Bronze age

Adventure Comics #425. January 1973.

Joe Orlando: editor. Mike Kaluta: cover artist.

***

“The Wings of Jealous Gods”

Writer: Lynn Marron; Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Alex Toth

Rodeo showman Chad L. Hammond is in the Himalayas, where he hears rumors of “hawkhorses”. His guides say they are a myth, but he wants to hunt them anyway! In a snow-less grassy valley, he captures a foal and kills its winged mother. His guides accuse him of killing a sacred god and desert him.

While descending with the foal, he is attacked by pegusi, but managed to take the foal (now named “Cloud”) to the US and enters her into the racing circuit until its wings sprout. It wins, often, making Hammond a rich man.

Cloud’s wings begin to grow much to Hammond’s ire – he can’t race it if it has wings! He orders the wings removed. Cloud’s handler (who came with Hammond from the Himalayas) tries to stop Hammond but is killed for his concern over the sacred animal. Hammond sets the barn on fire – hiding the evidence of his murder.

After Cloud’s wings sprouted, Hammond rides the skies – only to be held hostage as Cloud joins the white Pegasus. They make it back to the sacred mountain and drop Hammond into a nest of hungry, sharp-toothed foals!

***

“Prior Warning” Writer: unknown. Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Frank Redondo

Aliens come to earth claiming to be peaceful. They think they are tricking the earthlings and actually plan to attack. But earth attacks them first and drive them off! The aliens have no idea what made the earthlings know they were, in fact, aggressors. Maybe the fact they dressed like Nazis and their leader is a dead ringer for Hitler!

***

“Sword of the Dead” Writer/ Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Gil Kane

Evlig, the renegade knight, slaughters a woman and her children, not knowing it was the family of John the Gaunt, retired champion of the kingdom. John comes out of retirement to hunt down the killer and both fight to the death … and beyond!

***

“Captain Fear”

Writer: Robert Kanigher; Penciler/Inker/Letterer: Alex Nino

A native Carib tribe in Haiti are attacked by Spaniards in search of slaves. Fero, the son of the chief, and others are captured and put to work in the mines. They revolt and escape in a Spanish ship; only to have the ship destroyed in a storm.

Rescued by other pirates, Fero fights for the command of the ship and kills the Asian captain. He renames himself Captain Fear – for that is what he will put in the hearts of every white devil he will meet! This he vows to the cheers of his bloodthirsty crew!

***

In a short letter column Joe Orlando explains the change in the magazine’s format from Supergirl to high adventure: fantasy, science fiction, mystery and/or horror!

***

Until its first cancellation in 1982, Adventure Comics was the oldest continually running comic book on the stands (back when there were stands…). Its first issue was called New Comics dated December 1935 by someone calling themselves National Allied Publications. It changed its title with issue #12 (January 1937) to New Adventure Comics. The “New” was removed in November 1938 and remained that way until its cancellation (although during the Spectre’s run in the early 1970s it was called Weird Adventure Comics, to cash in on the horror trend: Weird Mystery, Weird War, Weird Western, etc.

With its change to New Adventure Comics, it changed formats from humorous stories to action/adventure tales – some stories were written and drawn by future-Superman creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Seigel.

At the dawn of the superhero age Adventure dove right in with the debut of the Sandman with issue #40, Hourman (#48, March 1940), Starman (#61, April, 1941) and Simon & Kirby’s Manhunter (#73, April 1942).

When More Fun Comics changed formats to humor stories, its characters moved to Adventure, including Superboy, as of issue #103 (April 1946).

Issue #247 (April 1958) the Legion of Superheroes debuted. They eventually shared billing with Superboy during their classic run.

They were replaced by a solo Supergirl lead as of issue #381 (June 1969). She starred in the comic until #424 (October 1972). The letter column of her last issue explains she will get her own book but says the editors do not yet know the next issue’s new format. It only says to be back for a “new line-up of fantastic features!”

With #425 Adventure went back 35 years to focus on … well … adventures! Why? A search of the internet does not say specifically, but I can guess. At this point both DC and Marvel were making good money with their non-superhero lines – horror comics weren’t outselling Superman, but by gum the sales figures weren’t bad! With the Legion safely ensconced in Superboy and the Maid of Steel getting her own magazine, maybe it was time to add another non-superhero anthology … perhaps a repository for some not-quite-horror-themed tales …

(For more on Adventure Comics history AFTER issue #425, click here … or watch this blog for future issues!)

***

Captain Fear is the only feature of this short-lived era of Adventure with any legs. He had back-up stories in later issues of Adventure and in the Unknown Soldier.  He is given pages in Who’s Who and the History of the DC Universe.

***

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!

 

 

 

Marvel Novel Series #7: Dr. Strange – Nightmare!

#7: Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts: Nightmare by William Rotsler

The author is a four-time Hugo Award winner for his art and the author of many Star Trek novels as well as the author of the novelizations of the movies Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and Futureworld. He died in 1997. He wrote Marvel Novel #6 And Call my Killer … Modok.

Cover by Bob Larkin, released June 1, 1979; the book is 188 pages long, although the story begins at page 9. Illustrations of Dr. Strange begin each chapter, as was done with #1: The Amazing Spider-Man: Mayhem in Manhattan and #2: The Incredible Hulk: Stalker from the Stars; but as with the two prior books, there is no credit as to who drew them. It may be easy to guess, but I would rather not!

The book is “packaged and edited by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman.”  Len Wein is the co-creator of DC’s Swamp Thing and Marvel’s Wolverine as well as joining him with Nightcrawler, Storm and Colossus as the All-New X-Men. Marv Wolfman is known for his excellent run on Tomb of Dracula. Within a few years of this novel he would write for one of the best comics ever created – Night Force – and co-create the New Teen Titans

For the first time, the paperback contains four pages of ads for other Pocket Books – including a selection of occult books, their Space 1999 series and books by science fiction authors John Jakes, Larry Pournelle, Theodore Sturgeon, AE Van Vogt, Jack Vance, Kate Wilhelm and Jack Williamson.

Gratmens: who knows? As silly as Strange’s incantations are, each name could be a hidden friend or comic book professional. The king of the Hittites or the ancient god-mage of the Nubians could have been an anagram for anyone. Page 81’s Alantripi, an Atlantean Sage seems an obvious gratmen – but a quick internet search reveals nothing…

Some of his common phrases are here: the Hoary Hosts of Hoggarth, the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, the Vapors of Valtorr, and the Yawning Yowls of Jagermeister. Well, I made up that last one. I once joked about Dr. Strange’s Amulet of Amaretto and have never forgotten it. It’s a fun game! Try it! Make one up of your own!

 

This is my favorite book of the series. I love them all, really. Not a stinker in the bunch.  Granted these are not the collected works of Hemingway, but they are all fun superhero fare.

Maybe that’s why I like this one so much; like its protagonist, it is not necessarily a superhero story: it is mystical and magical! There are references to the Necronomicon and the Dreamlands.

The story itself is very Lovecraftian: At least three people in the world are having disturbing nightmares. One is a televangelist, the other an up-and-coming boxer and the third (that the readers know of) is a hitman/assassin.  The evangelist’s wife is concerned: the minister is on the brink of “stardom” and he has not been the same since the nightmares started.

Dr. Strange senses something is indeed wrong and injects himself into the minister’s dreams. There he runs into his old adversary Nightmare, who is planning his most nefarious plan yet to conquer the waking world!

 

Oddly, I was never a huge fan of Dr. Strange’s comic book. I read them and liked them, but they were always read AFTER more standard superhero books. I did not much like magic and mysticism in comics … still don’t: it was never a good fit. In other books, most notably the Defenders, Dr. Strange was limited to blasting the bad guys with energy bolts from his hands – far removed from the incantations in this novel.

Just as odd: superheroes in prose was, to me, nothing more than light reading.  Fun, sure! But as I said; this isn’t exactly Hemingway.

It makes sense that I would enjoy a novel about a supernatural character rather than a super-heroic one.

It is also the easiest book to re-do without the Marvel characters. This could have easily been re-written with a descendent of Randolph Carter or a new creation.  Can you imagine the massive rewrite that And Call my Killer … Modok would have to go through to wipe out Marvel’s presence?

Rotsler did a fine job here. Only a tiny fraction of the cringe-worthy dialogue from his prior Iron Man book (“Me, Modok, he tried to trick!”) is present in Nightmare.

Dr. Strange’s multi-chapter hunt for Clea in the many-doored dreamscape is inspiring.

I read this just before the Dr. Strange movie came out. I couldn’t WAIT and was not disappointed!  You won’t be either.

 

Original Material Copyright 2017 Michael Curry

 

Characters mentioned are copyright their respective holders. Thanks to Marvel Comics and Pocket Books for the use of their images. Cover image was taken by the author.

I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated or credited.

 

Iron Man: and Call my Killer … Modok! Marvel Novel series #6

#6: Iron Man: and Call my Killer … Modok! by William Rotsler.

The author is a four-time Hugo Award winner for his art and the author of many Star Trek novels as well as the author of the novelizations of the movies Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger and Futureworld. He died in 1997.

By now the cover artist signs his work: Bob Larkin, cover artist for many Marvel magazines.

The book is “packaged and edited by Len Wein and Marv Wolfman.”  Len Wein is the co-creator of DC’s Swamp Thing and Marvel’s Wolverine as well as joining him with Nightcrawler, Storm and Colossus as the All-New X-Men. Marv Wolfman is known for his excellent run on Tomb of Dracula. Within a few years of this novel he would write for one of the best comics ever created – Night Force – and co-create the New Teen Titans

Released May 1, 1979; the book is 189 pages long, although the story begins at page 9.

Gratman: Evanier Electronics is mentioned as a business. Mark Evanier? He had no connection to Iron Man and at the time of this paperback, he worked mainly with DC Comics. However, the next book, #7’s Dr. Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts: Nightmare is dedicated to him, so it is likely.

***

AIM (Advanced Idea Mechanics, a science-based terrorist group) attacks Tony Stark during a college lecture. Stark, as Iron Man, fights them off successfully but still sustains some harm to his already-damaged heart. Cue origin recap.

One of the sergeants in charge of the failed kidnapping faced AIM’s mysterious leader (we comic book fans – and those who remember the title of the book – have a pretty solid idea who the leader is). The kidnapping having failed, the leader thinks up another cunning plan – he shall create an army of Iron Man suits!

He activates two of his sleeper agents in Stark International to create a diversion to successfully steal the Iron Man armor blueprints.

Modok tries to sell the blueprints to the highest bidder, but Stark outmaneuvers Modok by auctioning off the Iron Man suit directly. At auction, it is bought by an Arabic businessman. Modok kidnaps the businessman and his suit.

Surprise! The suit is really Iron Man himself! He is defeated by Modok and unmasked as Tony Stark.  Stark is then forced to create a new Iron Man suit for Modok’s #1 henchman.

Meanwhile, Happy and Nick Fury & Shield find Modok’s hiding place and attack. Iron Man and the henchman in the new suit duke it out. Ol’ Shellhead then sets his sights squarely on Modok!

***

The author does an excellent job of juggling the superhero action and the “civilian” moments of Tony Stark, Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts and employees of Stark International – we even read moments with the AIM sleepers and soldiers. It makes the novel more … grown up.

It would have made a nice juxtaposition to show Stark creating the original Iron Man suit in Viet Nam with the new suit he was creating for Modok. It would have put the origin flashback near the end of the book, which may have been a drawback being too close to the big finish.

Speaking of that, twenty pages is spent recapping Iron Man’s origins in the jungles of Viet Nam. It is excellently done! The author tells us how Tony met and hired Happy Hogan in a later 15-page flashback. Modok’s origin takes about five pages. More than 20% of the novel is flashback.

Interestingly, I tried to listen to Tony Stark/Iron Man speak in Robert Downey Jr’s voice but could not. Despite his (deservedly) owning the role in the recent spate of movies, and being able to hear his voice in the recent comic books and animated TV shows (where such an imitation is likely done intentionally), I can’t hear Downey speak these lines. Only when he is Modok’s captive and Stark’s dialogue is more smart-alecky and defiant does the current version of Iron Man seep through.

And the author does a wonderful job, despite the sometimes comic-booky dialogue. It does not happen often, but when it does, it is jarring; especially considering how wonderfully the rest of the dialogue is written.

Examples: “Iron Man swears it!” and (I am not kidding you) “I, Modok, knew at once how he hoped to trick me. Me, Modok, he tried to trick!”

Yoda-speak this reads like does…

 

Original Material Copyright 2016 Michael Curry

 

Characters mentioned are copyright their respective holders. Thanks to Marvel Comics and Pocket Books for the use of their images. Cover image was taken by the author.

I also thank the original creators of all characters mentioned, whether or not they have been properly compensated or credited.