Tag Archives: X-Men

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.

10 YEARS AGO: 2001

MUSIC

The Strokes – Is This It

Weezer – Weezer a.k.a. The Green Album

Gorillaz – Gorillaz

Ryan Adams – Gold

The White Stripes – White Blood Cells

FILM

The Royal Tenenbaums (dir. Wes Anderson)

Ghost World (dir. Terry Zwigoff)

Mulholland Drive (dir. David Lynch)

Donnie Darko (dir. Richard Kelly)

Amelie (dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet)

COMICS

X-Men #114 marks the beginning of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s acclaimed run on the title.

Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again, Frank Miller’s sequel to his massively influential The Dark Knight Returns, begins its serialization.

X-Force #116 marks the beginning of Peter Milligan and Mike Allred’s acclaimed run on the title.

Marvel’s mature readers line Max Comics launches with Alias #1 by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos.

Starman by James Robinson, Tony Harris and Peter Snejbjerg concludes with #80.

TV

The Office premieres on BBC 2, July 9, 2001.

– Greg

20 YEARS AGO: 1991

MUSIC

Primal Scream – Screamadelica

My Bloody Valentine – Loveless

Blur – Leisure

Nirvana – Nevermind

Pixies – Trompe Le Monde

FILM

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (dir. James Cameron)

Silence Of The Lambs (dir. Jonathan Demme)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (dir. Michael Pressman)

Barton Fink (dir. Joel Coen/Ethan Coen)

Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (dir. Peter Hewitt)

COMICS

– “The Hard Goodbye”, Frank Miller’s first Sin City story, begins its serialization in Dark Horse Presents #51.

X-Force #1 by Rob Liefeld & Fabian Nicieza sells 4 million copies, making it one of biggest-selling comics of all time.

Bone by Jeff Smith begins.

X-Men #1 by Chris Claremont & Jim Lee sells 8.1 million copies, making it the biggest-selling single issue from an American publisher, a record it still holds.

Sandman #19 by Neil Gaiman & Charles Vess becomes the first comic to win a World Fantasy Award; it remains the only comic to do so, as the rules for the award were changed soon after to disallow a comic from winning again.

TV

Twin Peaks airs its final episode on June 10, 1991.

– Greg

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.

Your complete guide to Street Fighter (and related Capcom fighting games)

PS – These ALL debuted in the arcade.


1987 Street Fighter
The game that really started it all. It looks great for 1987 with very detailed backgrounds and raw audio. Unfortunately, it plays like shit. The animations are very rigid so you can’t do things like jump and kick when you want to – you jump, hit the kick button and then at a specific point in the sequence your guy kicks. Also, almost every enemy is much stronger and faster than you. I only beat the game by playing very defensively. Only Ryu and Ken are playable. In spite of its shittiness I have grown to like this game.


1991 Street Fighter II: The World Warrior
(plus 4 updates – SFII Champion Edition, SFII Hyper Fighting, Super SFII, Super SFII Turbo)
The importance of this game can’t be overstated. It single-handedly made the fighting genre mainstream and it quite literally kickstarted a short renaissance for the struggling US arcade market. In this game the controls are perfect and you have a large, colorful cast of characters to choose from. This game also began Capcom’s practice of re-releasing a game with some incremental upgrades/improvements.


1993 Saturday Night Slam Masters
What if Street Fighter was a wrestling game? Saturday Night Slam Masters is what! It’s actually a lot more of a wrestling game than a fighting game but it has the Street Fighter look and some special moves.


1994 Super Muscle Bomber
The sequel to Slam Masters and now it’s much more of a traditional fighting but with grappling. The gameplay is actually pretty unique and more difficult to master than most fighters but I’d always choose SFII over it.


1994 Darkstalkers: The Night Warriors
(plus 2 updates: Night Warriors: Darkstalkers’ Revenge, Vampire Savior)
When I first saw this game in a magazine my thought was, “Wow, Capcom is really scared to make a Street Fighter III.” I still feel that this game, which runs on a new engine, was basically a test run for the next Street Fighter. The main difference is that it introduces a cast of horror movie stereotypes that are somehow not overly interesting. This game also introduced Capcom’s new art style and their new arcade hardware: the CPS2. There are 2 “sequels” to this game that are really just updates, each improving on the last. Somehow, this game is just not as fun as a standard SF game but the last version, Vampire Savior aka Darkstalkers 3 really improved the engine to the point that it’s pretty decent.


1994 X-Men: Children of the Atom
Perhaps another test run for the next SF game but this one has more personality than Darkstalkers. I especially like that they chose some rather obscure X-Men characters and ignored some of the regulars. Magneto is damned hard in this game!


1995 Street Fighter Alpha: Warriors’ Dreams
(plus 2 updates: Street Fighter Alpha 2, Street Fighter Alpha 3)
Goddamn, they sure were afraid to make a SFIII! Instead they made this ‘prequel’. In all respects other than story, this is the true sequel to SFII and it’s pretty sweet. The cast is somewhat small but this was corrected in the updates. Street Fighter Alpha 3 really outdoes itself and might be the funnest Capcom fighter.


1995 Marvel Super Heroes
Basically like X-Men but with other Marvel Universe homies thrown in.


1996 X-Men vs. Street Fighter
(plus 1 update: Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter)
This game introduced the whole tag team element to the series and does it very well, with some awesome super moves thrown in to boot. Marvel Super Heroes vs. Street Fighter is just a roster change and reuses backgrounds and even the final boss.


1996 Red Earth
A very bizarre and unique entry in the series. There are only 4 selectable characters plus 8 boss characters. Apparently, this game was meant to take a long time because there is a password feature! The bosses have a whole shitload of life and are very difficult to beat in one life but when you die you can just put in another quarter and pick up where you left off. I have to say this is really lame – beating the game has more to do with how many quarters you have rather than your skill. Still, it plays really well and looks awesome, introducing Capcom’s new hardware, the ill-fated CPS3.


1996 Street Fighter EX
(plus 2 updates Street Fighter EX2, Street Fighter EX3)
SF goes 3D with mixed results. Some characters are still fun to play with but others are sluggish. It’s fun to see things in 3D but the blocky polygons just don’t compare to the excellent sprites in the 2D games. Sorry! PS – Developed by Arika, a company made up of former Capcom developers.


1997 Rival Schools
Capcom makes their own 3D fighter with much better results, featuring a new crazy cast of high school students and teachers, apparently trying to solve a mystery involving kidnappings or something. Whatever! It’s fun and frantic and you can hit a volleyball.


1997 Pocket Fighter
Awwww, it’s little cute versions of the SF cast. A lot of people adore this game but I’m split. It looks great but it’s very random and just too nutty for me to LOOOOOVE.


1997 Street Fighter III: New Generation
(plus 2 updates – SFIII: Second Impact, SFIII: Third Strike)
By the time this came out there were no longer droves of people begging for a SFIII. In spite of a perhaps off-putting cast, it’s a great game and it has extremely advanced animation for a 2D game. The fighting system is deep and has a lot of variety. Didn’t have nearly the exposure of SFII or SF Alpha.


1998 JoJo’s Venture
(plus update: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure)
The sprites look Street Fightery but the fighting is almost all-out wacky. I beat the game and I still couldn’t tell you how this special move works or that whatever works. I’m dizzy.


1998 Marvel vs. Capcom
Apparently, people wanted more of the old CPS2 style games so the SF Alpha/Darkstalkers/Marvel engine was dusted off for this big-ass crossover. Although it looks just like those older games its playing style is its own – it’s insane and wild in a way that makes sense. A very fun game.


1999 Capcom vs SNK: Millennium Fight 2000
The big crossover with the company that made a career out of copying Street Fighter, good ol’ SNK. In spite of the title, this is really a Capcom fighting game that happens to have SNK characters in it. It’s fun but not all that different from SF Alpha and not as innovative as Marvel vs Capcom.


2000 Marvel vs. Capcom 2
This is where the wackiness goes too far and loses me somewhat. For one thing, the big special moves are basically performed with a single button, at the expense of a striking button. And there’s a big cactus guy that was never in a Capcom game or a Marvel comic. I dunno. I don’t hate it but . ..


2000 Capcom vs SNK 2: Mark of the Millennium 2001
Oh, good, more of the same (but not quite an update).


2004 Capcom Fighting Evolution
As you can see, things slowed down in a major way and then some idiot at Capcom had the idea for this game: let’s do a “crossover” between SFII, SFAlpha, SFIII, Darkstalkers, and Red Earth. What do you get? A really uneven game that uses the original sprites from the games mentioned and feels like a real cut and paste job. I don’t think the giant boss characters from Red Earth were ever meant to be playable and I’d say this game confirms that position. Kind of a bad note to end on . . .

THE PRESENT
Street Fighter IV is currently in the later stages of development. It looks pretty fun but seems to be too beholden to SFII. It’s in 3D but the characters a hand-drawn level of detail and the gameplay is 2D. Will it be good? Will it launch 3,000 spin-offs? Time will tell. There is also a more traditional game in the works, Capcom vs Tatsunara. Neat!

CONCLUSION . . .
If a lot of these games look similar it’s because they ARE. The Street Fighter Alpha engine, in particular, was used over and over. I consider the following games to be unique:

Street Fighter
Street Fighter II
Street Fighter Alpha
Street Fighter EX
Street Fighter III
Saturday Night Slam Masters
Red Earth
Pocket Fighter
Rival Schools
JoJo’s Venture
Marvel vs. Capcom

kicknz
Everything else is essentially a roster swap or an update.

The History of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Comics Part I: Mirage Studios (1984-1995)

The TMNT were conceived in 1983 as a tongue-in-cheek joke, primarily as a parody of three comic series that were very popular in the early 1980s. The whole teenage aspect comes from DC Comics’ Teen Titans. The mutant part came from Marvel Comics’ X-Men and the ninja part came courtesy of Marvel’s Daredevil. The turtles part came out of thin air. So basically these two losers, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird were having a very difficult time breaking into the comics industry and it’s easy to see why – their style was really unconventional at a time when there wasn’t a whole lot of variety in comics, let alone alternative publishers to turn to.

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Page 1 of TMNT #1 by Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird (1984)

Eastman & Laird created the TMNT and self-published a 3000 copy run of their new comic, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in 1984. This comic introduced each of the turtles, plus Splinter, Shredder, and the Foot Clan. On a whim, they typed up a press release to announce the comic, which was picked up by the Associated Press for some reason, greatly increasing awareness of the comic. ANYWAY, it was a huge hit in spite of the fact that it was black and white and only available in comic shops (which were not as widespread as they are today). The comic was unique not only because it was black and white but because they filled the white spaces with very detailed and I might say gritty greytones. This became a hallmark of Mirage Studios comics.

So, what started on a whim as a joke became a hit, even though it was for the most part a really big rip-off of Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil. Splinter gets his name from Daredevil’s mentor, Stick. The Foot Clan received their name from Daredevil’s nemesis, The Hand (Clan). They even tied in the TMNT’s origin to Daredevil’s, implying that the same chemical spill that transformed Matt Murdock also mutated the Turtles.

Now it was all a big hit and life had to go on, which it did in 1985 with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2, which introduced April O’Neil, Baxter Stockman, and the Mousers. This issue was also a hit so it all continued, with Eastman and Laird happily toiling away at their comics. They started to do the comic full-time and by 1986 had released several issues, introducing Fugitoid, Casey Jones, the Triceratons, and sharing crossovers with Cerebus and Usagi Yojimbo. Eastman and Laird jumped at any chance to do TMNT short stories, as well, which appeared in anthology titles or as back-up stories in other indie comics.

Eastman & Laird continue the series
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TMNT #6 art by Eastman/Laird TMNT #10 art by Eastman/Laird

In 1985, Palladium Books became the first TMNT licensees, producing a series of RPG books starring the Turtles featuring brand new character art, and sometimes new stories, by Eastman and Laird. Then Playmates Toys came along in 1987 to arrange a toy deal, followed by a deal with Murakami Wolf Swenson to produce a cartoon, followed by a deal with Archie Comics to publish a mainstream, kiddie TMNT comic, then a video game license with Konami and finally the movie license with Golden Harvest and New Line. Eastman and Laird became more involved with making business decisions than with producing comics.

To keep up with all of the licensing requirements, Mirage Studios slowly became a REAL studio, hiring several artists to draw comics, design toys, and create art for shit like TMNT napkins and party favors. The artists typically focused on designing new toy characters. If a character went into production, it could be worth $30,000 – $60,000 for that artist. In their spare time, they worked on the comics, which were now sometimes written but usually just overseen by Eastman and Laird. With some exceptions, the quality of the comics was typically maintained. Unlike mainstream comics, new issues came out when they were good and ready, not held to any schedules. Some of them were of incredibly high quality and oozed the sort of enthusiasm that can only come from independent publications.

Mirage Studios artists take over
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TMNT #17 art by Eric Talbot TMNT #28 art by Jim Lawson TMNT #29 art by A.C. Farley

At some point it seems that most of the Mirage Studios artists didn’t feel like drawing comics and many underground cartoonists were given turns to produce issues, including people like Richard Corben, Mark Martin, Matt Howarth and Rick Veitch. These comics were typically very good and usually had better stories than issues written by Mirage Studios staff members. In 1992, perhaps because the TMNT empire was starting to wind down, Eastman and Laird decided to work on the series again. They wrote and illustrated issue #50 and then wrote the next 12 issues with Mirage Studios veteran Jim Lawson handling the art. They continued to publish specials and one-shots by independent artists.

Underground creators to the fore
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TMNT #35 art by Michael Zulli TMNT #18 pencils by Mark Bode TMNT #23 art by Rick Veitch

In 1993, the series was “cancelled”, though only to give way to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2, which was NOW IN COLOR. This series was written and illustrated by Jim Lawson and features an admittedly aimless and slow plot that ends rather ambiguously. In 1995, Volume 2 was cancelled and Mirage Studios ceased the publication of comics. This was caused by a few factors: 1) the collapse of the TMNT empire 2) the huge comics industry market crash of the 1990s and 3) a flood that ravaged the Mirage Studios offices and printing facility. ‘Twas the end of an era.

Eastman & Laird return plus Volume 2
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TMNT #50 art by Eastman/Laird TMNT #49 pencils by Jim Lawson TMNT Vol.2 #4 art by Jim Lawson

Mirage Studios TMNT Publications Guide:

series
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1-62 (1984-1995)
Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1-7 (1987-1989)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (second series) #1-13 (1993-1995)

mini-series
Turtle Soup #1-4 (1991-1992)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Flaming Carrot Crossover #1-4
Casey Jones: North By Downeast #1-2

specials
Raphael (1985)
Michaelangelo (1985)
Donatello (1986)
Leonardo (1986)
Turtle Soup (1987)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie (1990)
Green-Grey Sponge-Suit Sushi Turtles: The Parody (1990)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret of the Ooze (1991)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Challenges (1991)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Times Pipeline (1992)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Haunted Pizza (1992)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Maltese Turtle (1993)
Casey Jones & Raphael (1994) <aborted mini-series, later published in full by Image Comics>
The Savage Dragon/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1993)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/The Savage Dragon (1995)

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Flaming Carrot art by Jim Lawson Sushi Turtles art by Mark Martin TMNT #33 art by Richard Corben

kicknz

related posts:

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