Tag Archives: Marvel Comics

70 Aspects of Batman: 34

JOHN ROMITA JR.

From Wikipedia:

John Salvatore Romita, Jr. (born August 17, 1956) is an American comic book artist best known for his extensive work for Marvel Comics from the 1970s to the 2000s.

Romita was born in New York City, the son of John Romita, Sr., co-creator of several notable Spider-Man stories in the 1960s and 1970s.

He began his career at Marvel UK, doing sketches for covers of reprints. His American debut was with a six page story entitled “Chaos at the Coffee Bean!” in The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11 (1977).

Romita’s early popularity began with his run on Iron Man with writer David Michelinie and artist Bob Layton which began in 1978. In the early 1980s, he had his first regular run on the Amazing Spider-Man series and also was the artist for the launch of the Dazzler series. Working with writer Roger Stern on Amazing Spider-Man, he co created the character Hobgoblin. From 1983 to 1986 he had a run on the popular Uncanny X-Men with Dan Green and author Chris Claremont which was well-received. He would return for a second well-received run on Uncanny X-Men in 1993.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Romita enjoyed an extended stint on Daredevil with writer Ann Nocenti and Eisner Award-winning inker Al Williamson, noted for its creation of long-running Daredevil nemesis Typhoid Mary. His work on Daredevil was well-received, with Romita Jr. further refining his style.

Romita later collaborated with Frank Miller on a Daredevil origin story entitled Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, a revisiting of the character’s origin. He worked on a host of Marvel titles during the 1990s, including The Punisher War Zone, the Hulk, the Cable mini-series, The Mighty Thor, a return to Iron Man for the second Armor Wars written by John Byrne, and the Punisher/Batman cross-over. Klaus Janson was a frequent inker.

In the 2000s, Romita had a well-received return to The Amazing Spider-Man with writer J. Michael Straczynski. He drew Marvel’s Wolverine with author Mark Millar as part of the character’s thirtieth-anniversary celebration. In 2004, Romita’s creator-owned project The Gray Area was published by Image Comics. Romita’s art has since appeared in Black Panther, The Sentry and Ultimate Vision, a backup story featured in the Ultimate line, written by author Mark Millar.

In 2006, Romita collaborated with writer Neil Gaiman on the reinterpretation of Jack Kirby‘s The Eternals in the form of a seven-issue limited series. Romita worked with Greg Pak on the five issue main comic of Marvel’s 2007 crossover event, World War Hulk.

In 2008, Romita again returned to Amazing Spider-Man. He is also collaborating once more with Mark Millar, for a creator-owned series, Kick-Ass, published by Marvel’s Icon imprint. The Filming of the Movie: Kick-Ass, began in September 2008. Romita, one of the producers, made his directorial debut by directing an animated flashback sequence in the film.

Romita is the regular artist for Avengers, which relaunched the franchise in May 2010.

John Romita Jr. may be the best pure superhero artist working in comics today. Over the course of his over 30 year career he has worked almost exclusively for Marvel Comics, so any images of characters from other companies by him. Fortunately, in the mid-90s before Marvel and DC became parts of huge conglomerates and were still open to crossovers, Romita Jr. drew a Batman/Punisher one-shot. For a reader used to Romita’s work only appearing in Marvel comics, seeing the denizens of Gotham City drawn in his style creates a certain cognitive dissonance…but once the brain adjusts, it’s a great visual experience. To date, apart from a sketch or two, Romita Jr. hasn’t drawn Batman since, which is a shame as his style has become more stripped down and direct as time’s gone on…kind of like this sketch below, done years after the one-shot:

I love this sequence from Batman/Punisher…it’s a well drawn sequence that flows and says a lot about the characters portrayed in it:

G.

70 Aspects Of Batman: 27

STEVE DITKO

From Wikipedia:

Stephen J. “Steve” Ditko (born November 2, 1927) is an American comic book artist and writer best known as the co-creator of the Marvel Comics heroes Spider-Man & Doctor Strange. Considered a legend by many for his co-creation of some of Marvel’s most iconic characters, Ditko’s post-1960s comics work has had little impact, and by the end of the 1990s he had retired from mainstream publishing. For most of the last few decades, Ditko has maintained a secretive profile, only occasionally self-publishing his Objectivist-inspired comics.

What more can I say about Ditko that I didn’t already here? Well, he drew Batman once, that’s what. As far as I can tell, the only time my favorite Objectivist artist ever drew the Dark Knight Detective was, bizarrely, in the pages of Man-Bat #1, from 1975. An extremely short-lived series (this was the first of only two issues before it was canceled), Man-Bat featured the exploits of Kirk Langstrom, a scientist whose experiments in things led him to become the incredibly-literal titular creature.

The 70s saw Ditko largely acting as a journeyman penciller, drawing varied books for varied publishers while working on his more personal Ayn Rand-inspired work. Hence his work on Man-Bat. Even on work-for-hire like this, Ditko’s quirky style shines through. I love how almost every one of his Batman renderings hides his face in complete shadow apart from his eyes. I don’t think I’ve seen another artist do that before.

Like Jack Kirby, Ditko did a lot of work for DC after leaving Marvel, creating or co-creating characters like The Creeper, Hawk & Dove and Shade, The Changing Man along the way. Also like Kirby, he rarely worked on DC’s most famous icons. So it’s a treat to see his take on Batman, even if it’s just in the form of a few pages in an obscure spin-off

– Greg

Marvel vs Capcom 3 & Bionic Commando Rearmed 2 announced

So Capcom had their “Captivate” (ugh) event recently.  A semi-recent trend is for publishers to hold their own little showcase events, I guess so they don’t get lost in the shuffle of new game announcements at E3, Game Developers’ Conference, Tokyo Game Show, or that one in Germany (whatever it’s called).  Here’s what I care about from Captivate 2010.

Bionic Commando Rearmed 2
This is a sequel to the PS3/X360/PC download game from a couple of years ago.  The original was really good and all the critics liked it.  However, the original’s developer, GRIN (which also developed the crappy 3D Bionic Commando game) has since died.  This one’s being developed by Fatshark, whoever that is (maybe former GRIN employees?). 

Marvel vs. Capcom 3
This is exactly what you think it is.  It’s not coming out for about a year so not a lot to get too excited about right away.  There are a couple of details that jumped out at me, though.
1) The game is being built brand new from the ground up: Wow, remember the old days when Capcom kind of re-used game engines and sprites over and over again in their fighting games?  It seems there’s been a change of philosophy, as Street Fighter IV, Tatsunoko vs. Capcom, and now Marvel vs. Capcom have all used totally distinct game engines and looks.
2) The character designs are being handled by Capcom’s artists: But we’ve seen that.  It’s been done.  Back in the late 90s it was really cool to see Capcom’s take on the Marvel characters because the manga look hadn’t been done to death on Western characters and because, frankly, Marvel was going through a really dry spell art-wise.  In 2010, this is hardly an issue, and even a parttime Marvel/DC hater like myself has to admit that Marvel has a wealth of awesome artists at the moment.  I’m much more interested in seeing Alex Maleev or John Romita Jr. drawing Chun Li and Viewtiful Joe than I am seeing Akiman or his pals draw Wolverine.

National Game Registry 1993: The Punisher

THE PUNISHER
original platform
arcade
developer/publisher
Capcom
key personnel
Akiman (design)
Yoko Shimomura (music)
Isao Abe (music)
Shun Nishigaki (music)

Continuing in Capcom’s Final Fight tradition, The Punisher introduces firearms to the mix and features fancy-pants guest star, Nick Fury. Do you have what it takes to beat and shoot the Kingpin to death? Probably not.

The Punisher was inducted on January 2nd, 2010.

Return to the National Game Registry to view more inductees.

National Game Registry 1992: X-Men

X-MEN
original platform
arcade
developer/publisher
Konami
key personnel
Junya Nakano

Konami continued its beat-em-up co-domination with another licensed release.  Some configurations of the game allowed SIX players to play simultaneously, resulting in a raucous experience (and hopefully a few deaths).

X-Men was inducted on October 21st, 2009.

Return to the National Game Registry to view more inductees.

Marvel Comics Silver Age Challenge: 1962 (and a bit of 1961)

FanFour

(There’s no official point where the Golden Age ended and the Silver Age began. For the purpose of this challenge, I’m using a transition approach. Basically, I’m counting any new characters/series that debut after November of 1962 when Fantastic Four #1 hit newsstands.  Existing series that reflect a Golden Age approach were phased out over the next couple of years and won’t be covered in the Silver Age Challenge.)

FIRST APPEARANCES
Mr. Fantastic
Invisible Girl
Thing
Human Torch (Silver Age version)
Hulk
Spider-Man
Thor
Ant-Man
Dr. Doom
Mole Man

As you can see, a whole lot of famous characters were introduced in 1962 and late 1961.  From a conceptual standpoint, the minds at Marvel were very, very rich at this point.

IncHulk

ONGOING SERIES
Fantastic Four (9 issues)
Incredible Hulk (5 issues)
Journey Into Mystery (starring Thor, 5 isues)
Tales to Astonish (starring Ant-Man, 5 issues)
Strange Tales (starring Human Torch, 3 issues)

The new super heroes began to take over the established anthology titles just a few months after Fantastic Four debuted.  The FF and Hulk stories were 20-25 pages while the anthology lead features were about 10-14 pages.  All of these stories were written by Stan Lee and, incredibly, penciled by Jack Kirby (some of the dialogue was written by Lee’s brother, Larry Lieber).

AmSpid

SPECIALS
Amazing Fantasy #15 (starring Spider-Man)

The only 1961/1962 Marvel super hero comic that wasn’t penciled by Jack Kirby, instead illustrated by Steve Ditko.  Amazing Fantasy was on the ropes but the one-off Spider-Man story was a success, leading to the character’s own series the following year.

JouMyst

REVIEW!!!!!

Okay, let’s be frank: the writing is terrible.  A lot of the concepts are cool but the writing is just fucking wretched.  I think Stan Lee was either afraid of women, hated them, or just hadn’t met any, because their portrayals are disturbingly shallow.  Unlike her Fantastic Four teammates, Susan Storm/Invisible Girl has no apparent interests and spends most of her time daydreaming about the hunky Sub-Mariner.  The women in the Hulk and Thor strips spend most of their time being thoughtless and swooning over the title characters.

Additionally, the solutions to most scenarios are incredibly cheap and often involve powers that the heroes heretofore had never displayed.  Remember the battle at the end of Superman II in which Superman suddenly has the power to create illusion versions of himself, or shoot lasers out of his hands, or to throw the ‘S’ on his chest and have it transform into some kind of cellophane trap?  That’s the kind of crap you get here.  The Human Torch makes “mirages” of items he saw earlier in the day, even though he’s on the top floor of a skyscraper and can’t even see the item he’s somehow making a mirage of.  Thor spins his hammer so fast that it produces “anti-matter”.

TalAst

There are plenty of super simplistic “Free World vs Commies” type politics that can only be described as retarded.  I know that the political atmosphere was quite different back then and comics were under completely unfair scrutiny but it feels like Rush Limbaugh was the political adviser.  The Cuban issue is touched on, presenting Castro as a straight up villain and Batista as a good guy (ugh).

The art is almost always solid but the fact is that is you can’t expect a guy (Jack Kirby) to pencil 40-60 pages a month and have it all be awesome.  It seems like some titles were either higher priorities or just had better inkers, as Fantastic Four and Thor stories seem to have better art than the Hulk stories.  Of interesting note is the constantly-evolving nature of some of the series, especially FF and Hulk.  It seems that Hulk is written and drawn differently each issue.  They just didn’t know what to do with him.

The best series is definitely FF, thanks largely to the hilarious bickerings of Human Torch and THing.  As I read the stories, I keep hoping they will murder each other.  Additionally, the delightfully haughty Sub-Mariner comes by all the time to try to kill the male members and have a shot at raping Invisible Girl.  The weakest series is ol’ Ant Man.  The old bore just shrinks himself down and then engages in run of the mill anti-commie detective work.

GRADE: B-
Pros: strong concepts, solid art
Cons: awful writing, inconsistency

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“1960s Marvel Comics Challenge” aaaaand “A good site for downloading comics”

Yes, I’m taking the 1960s Marvel Comics Challenge.  Don’t be scared if you’re unfamiliar with the challenge because, after all, I invented it.  As Greg Goode can tell you, Marvel’s 1950s output consisted mostly of monster/sci-fi anthologies and western comics.  The success of Fantastic Four #1 in 1961 pushed Marvel in the direction for which they are known today: super heroez.  During the early 1960s, most of the sci-fi and fantasy anthologies introduced new super heroes (Ant-Man, Thor) and reintroduced old, 1940s Marvel characters (Captain America).

So, I recently started reading the ongoing Fantastic Four series (created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for its first 102 issues!) and I recently thought, “Why not spread it out and read the other 1960s Marvel super hero titles?”  After all, most of them feature art by really solid or even spectacular guys like Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Buscema, etc.

Here’s where I’m getting the comics: Comicsworld.

Go to that site immediately! They have a ton of stuff you probably never even realized you wanted to look at. Also, when it comes to guiding my Marvel Comics Challenge, I’m using the site Marvel Comics Database. This great site categorizes releases by year and month so I just look at the month and can read everything as it came out. Sweet, right?!

Most comics are scanned in a .cbr or .cbz format so you need a viewer. I use this one: Coview

So, as I make my way through the challenge I believe I’ll post a “year in review” to rate each year. A’ight? So I’m not going to post any scans or cover shots or anything because I’ll save those for then. BYE.