Great Moments In Comic Book History #24: Captain America Quits


Captain America #332 (August, 1987) opens with Captain America, the living symbol of the USA, being summoned to the Pentagon.  A group of faceless bureaucrats known as The Commission tell Captain America that it is time for him to become an official agent of the U.S. Government.  They argue that Steve Rogers would not even be Captain America if he hadn’t enlisted in the armed forces and been injected with the super soldier formula.  It’s time for Steve Rogers to stop acting as a free agent and serve his government.  And, if Steve can’t do that, the Commission can find someone to take his place, someone who understands the importance of following orders.  Maybe even someone like the Super-Patriot, who is busy fighting a group of terrorists while Steve is at the meeting.

Steve thinks it over and then does the only thing that his conscience will allow.

He quits.

Of course, this wasn’t the first time that Steve Rogers quit being Captain America.  In the 1970s, he was so disillusioned to discover that the President was a part of a secret conspiracy that he resigned his commission and briefly called himself The Captain.  Eventually, he returned to being Captain America, just as he would do the second time that he quit.  After The Commission named recruited Super Patriot to carry the shield, Steve didn’t have much choice but to take it back.

Still, this moment defined what Steve Rogers was all about.  He wasn’t about serving the government or enforcing anyone’s particular policy.  He was about America and the ideals that he felt it should stand for.  And if that meant defying his government, that’s what he would do.

It was a great moment.

Captain America Vol. 1#332 (August, 1987)

“The Choice”

  • Writer — Mark Gruenwald
    Penciler — Tom Morgan
    Inker — Bob McLeod
    Colorist — Ken Feduniewicz
    Letterer — Diana Albers
    Editor — Don Daley

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York
  19. NFL SuperPro is Here!
  20. Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window
  21. Captain America For President
  22. Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man
  23. J. Jonah Jameson Is Elected Mayor of New York City

Miniseries Review: Moon Knight (dir by Mohamed Diab and Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson)


No sooner had Ryan posted his essay about whether or not comic book companies like Marvel or DC actually need readers anymore then I came over here to type up my review of Moon Knight.

Why is that relevant?  Well, Moon Knight is a 6-episode miniseries based on a character who made his debut in the pages of Marvel comics.  The character has a loyal following of readers but the Disney miniseries has introduced him to a whole new group of people, many of whom have never even held a comic book, let alone read one.  I’m one of those people.  If not for the miniseries, I wouldn’t have the slightest idea who Moon Knight is because, for the most part, I’ve never been a comic book reader.  I would have to imagine that if I was a comic book reader, it would bug the Hell out of me that people who have never read a comic book are now suddenly acting as if they’re experts on all of the various costumed characters who have been published by Marvel and DC over the past few decades.  I can remember how upset I was when everyone suddenly decided that they were an expert on Dario Argento and Italian horror just because they had read some lame article on the remake of SuspiriaNo, I wanted to say, you haven’t done the work!

Unfortunately, that’s the way of the world now.  With the current pop cultural dominance of the MCU and the DCEU, everyone’s a super hero fan regardless of whether or not they’ve ever read a comic book.  And, with the explosion of social media over the past decade, everyone is now in a position to present themselves as being an expert regardless of whether they’re tweeting their own thoughts or just plagiarizing what they’ve read on Wikipedia.  It doesn’t matter whether the topic is politics, television, history, science, religion, or comic books.  Everyone now claims to be an expert and, as the old saying goes, when everyone’s an expert, no one’s an expert.  Again, if that annoys the Hell out of you, I sympathize.

Perhaps you can take some consolation in the fact that, even though I watched all six episode of Moon Knight today, I hardly feel like an expert as far as the character is concerned.  For the most part, I enjoyed Moon Knight but I would be lying if I said that I was always able to follow what was going on.  Oscar Isaac plays Marc Spector, a mercenary who is mortally wounded in Egypt but who is revived by Khonshu (voiced by F. Murray Abraham), the Egyptian God of the Moon, who tasks Spector with protecting humanity from evil or something like that.  Sometimes, however, Spector becomes Steven Grant, a mild-mannered and neurotic Brit who works in a museum gift shop and who is haunted by strange dreams.  When Grant discovers that he’s actually Spector, this leads to him meeting Spector’s wife, Layla (May Calamawy) and also having to battle Arthur Harrow (Ethan Hawke), a fanatical cult leader who is trying to get his hands on ancient scarab that will …. let him do stuff, I guess.  Harrow’s evil, Moon Knight’s good, and I guess that’s all we really need to know.  Moon Knight is basically a typical MCU “let’s all fight over the artifact” story, with the main twist being that all of the Gods are Egyptian instead of Norse and the hero has dissociative identity disorder and might actually very well be a patient at psychiatric hospital.  

With all that in mind, Moon Knight is actually pretty entertaining.  It’s biggest strength, not surprisingly, is Oscar Isaac, who appears to be having a ball playing several different versions of the same character.  When he’s Marc Spector, he gets to play at being a grim and serious action hero.  When he’s Steve Grant, he gets to play a comedic bumbler who gets the chance to prove that he’s stronger and more capable than anyone gave him credit for.  Isaac does a good job with both roles and the show is at its best when it’s just Isaac arguing with himself.  Playing a villain in an MCU production is often a thankless task but Hawke’s brings the right edge of fanaticism to Arthur Harrow and F. Murray Abraham voices Khonshu with the just the right combination of righteous indignation and weary frustration.  The show makes good use of its Egyptian setting and the fourth and fifth episodes are enjoyably surreal as they delve into the corners of Spector’s mind.

Unfortunately, the show’s conclusion leaves a bit to be desired.  After all that build-up, it all pretty much leads to a standard MCU street battle and the possibility of more Moon Knight action in the future.  That said, I enjoyed the show for what it was.  Turn off your mind, relax, and float across the Duat, as the old saying goes.

Great Moments In Comic Book History #23: J. Jonah Jameson Is Elected Mayor of New York City


In 2009, the crusading newspaper publisher, J. Jonah Jameson, was elected Mayor of New York City. At least, that’s what happened in Amazing Spider-Man #591.

It didn’t turn out well, of course.  Mayor Jameson spent too much time obsession on Spider-Man and not enough time fixing the subways. He was bombastic, stubborn, and refused to admit when he was wrong.  That shouldn’t have taken anyone by surprise.  New Yorkers knew what they were getting when they voted for him but they elected him anyway. Of course, in 2009, the idea of a buffoon like J. Jonah Jameson ever holding a major political office seemed like a fantasy. Today, Jonah would fit right in with the majority of the people in Washington.

As mayor, Jameson ended up getting manipulated by both Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin.  It’s no wonder that Mayor Jameson failed to even finish his first term before having to resign.

He was still better than De Blasio, though.

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York
  19. NFL SuperPro is Here!
  20. Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window
  21. Captain America For President
  22. Alex Ross Captures Spider-Man

Here’s The Teaser For Thor: Love and Thunder


Thor is one of the more remarkable success stories of the MCU.

He started out as the kind of boring super hero whose origin didn’t make much sense and who felt a bit out-of-place with the other Avengers.  (It was always funny to him how quickly they all were to accept the fact that Norse mythology was based on reality.)  But, thanks to director Taika Waititi and actor Chris Hemsworth, he’s been transformed into one of the most beloved characters in the MCU.  Waititi and Hemsworth both realized Thor was a ludicrous character and the best way to handle that would be to embrace the silliness of it all.

That was the approach that they took with Thor: Ragnarok and it appears to be the same approach they’ll be taking with Thor: Love and Thunder.  And, of course, Chris Pratt and the Guardians of the Galaxy are the perfect people to help them do that!

Here’s the teaser for Thor: Love and Thunder!

Here’s The Trailer for Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness


It’s Super Bowl Sunday, and that means we should be seeing a lot of ads for a lot of films. I’ll do my best to keep up with them here at the site!

Here is the new trailer for Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness!

Great Moments In Comic Book History #20: Kickers Inc. Comes To The World Outside Your Window


“The world outside your window!”

That’s how the Marvel described it’s new line of comic books, New Universe, is 1986.  The brainchild of Jim Shooter, New Universe was launched to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Marvel.  Consisting of 8 titles that were specifically advertised as not being a part of the regular Marvel universe, New Universe was advertised as featuring heroes who existed in the real world and who dealt with real world issues.  The plots would be realistic.  There would be no aliens or superhuman technology.  The superheroes would have powers but they would react to them in the same way that normal people would.  The stories would play out in real time, with a month passing from issue to issue.  It was the world outside your window!  According to Marvel: The Untold Story by Sean Howe, no one other than Jim Shooter thought New Universe was a good idea and, as Shooter became more and more obsessed with the New Universe, artists like John Byrne grew to resent Shooter’s focus on it.

Among the New Universe titles released in 1986, there was Kickers, Inc.  According to Kickers, Inc., the world outside your window featured a football team called The New York Smashers whose top players, after retiring from football, became a crime-fighting group called Kickers, Inc.  They were led by Mr. Magnificent, who had super strength as the result of super technology (and who, therefore, featured two things that Jim Shooter said would not be present in the New Universe titles) and who became a hero after his brother was killed by gangsters who were tying to pressure Magnificent into throwing the Super Bowl.  That may not sound much like the world outside your window but, of course, Kickers, Inc. was not originally created with New Universe in mind.  Kickers, Inc. was originally envisioned as being a regular Marvel series but when Shooter learned about it, he insisted that it be modified into a New Universe title.  Creator Tom DeFalco wasn’t interested in doing a realistic comic book series about superpowered football players and he left the book after only a 3 issues.

Like almost all of the New Universe titles, Kickers, Inc. was canceled after just 12 issues.  It turned out that comic book readers, many of whom used comics to take a break from the real world, didn’t have much interest in super heroes existing in the world outside their window.  Strangely, the promise that new popular Marvel characters would appear in the New Universe books didn’t bring readers over.  (Again according to Sean Howe’s book, John Byrne and several other artists celebrated the death of the New Universe by gathering in Byrne’s backyard and setting a pile of New Universe books on fire.)  The New Universe debacle led to Jim Shooter leaving Marvel but, despite it all, the New Universe and its characters have occasionally been revived over the years and the idea of exploring how the real world would react to the presence of super heroes is one that has run through not the MCU but instead the Snyderverse.

Kickers, Inc. may not have been a success but at least it gives us some idea of what may lay in store for whichever team loses the Super Bowl this year.  The losing players may not leave with a super bowl championship but they may gain an entirely new career opportunity.

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York
  19. NFL SuperPro is Here!

Not So Great Moments In Comic Book History #19: NFL SuperPro Is Here!


Behold, the one Marvel super hero who will never get his own movie or even a show on Disney Plus!  Behold, NFL SuperPro!

He went from sacking quarterback to tackling crime!  That tells you all you really need to know about NFL SuperPro.  His real name was Phil Grayson.  He dreamed of being a football star until he was sidelined by a knee injury.  Working as a sports reporter, Phil one day interviewed an eccentric fan who revealed that he specialized in making special football uniforms that would turn the players into superheroes.  At that very moment, a group of burglars broke into the fan’s home.  They stole all of the fan’s memorabilia (and later set it all on fire) but, for some reason, ignored all of the super costumes on display.  The fan ended up dead but Phil Grayson ended up with a uniform and, thanks to a chemical spill, super strength!

It may sound like a parody but it was actually a very real comic book and, due to guest appearances from both Spider-Man and Captain America, NFL SuperPro was very much a part of the Marvel universe.  Marvel, back in the days when the company was always just a few months away from bankruptcy, partnered with the NFL to develop NFL SuperPro. The NFL wanted to reach news fans.  Marvel needed money.

Fabian Nicieza, who wrote the first five issues of NFL SuperPro, said that he only worked on the book because the NFL agreed to give him free tickets to all the games.  The NFL thought they would be getting some new fans.  Marvel thought they’d be getting some NFL money.  Instead, they both got years of ridicule that lasted far beyond the end of NFL SuperPro’s series.

NFL SuperPro ran for 12 issues, from 1991 all the way to 1992.  He fought a collection of villains who were all related to football.  His main enemy was a crime boss called Sanction and let’s just say that the Kingpin wasn’t losing any sleep over losing his status as Marvel’s main criminal mastermind.  NFL SuperPro also faced off against a time traveling assassin named, you got it, Instant Replay!  And then there was Quickkick, a villain who used to be a placekicker!  In one issue, NFL SuperPro fought a gang of Hopi criminals and the reaction from representatives of the Hopi Tribe was so fiercely negative that the issue itself was recalled.  That’s probably not what the NFL had in mind when it came to attracting new fans.

Along with that controversy, NFL SuperPro did not last because it wasn’t very good and an early 90s comic book reader was probably the least likely person to idolize someone who was essentially a jock.  In fact, as a character, NFL Superpro has not appeared since 1992, which is a little amazing when you consider that Marvel still occasionally trots out U.S. Trucker for a guest appearance or two.  It is tempting to think that Marvel is embarrassed by NFL SuperPro but his absence probably has more to do with NFL copyright issues.  And the NFL definitely was embarrassed.

As much as Marvel has tried to memoryhole the character, NFL SuperPro has not been forgotten.  He may never appear in a film but he will live on as long as collectors and fans debate who was the worst Marvel hero of all time.

Previous Great Moments In Comic Book History:

  1. Winchester Before Winchester: Swamp Thing Vol. 2 #45 “Ghost Dance” 
  2. The Avengers Appear on David Letterman
  3. Crisis on Campus
  4. “Even in Death”
  5. The Debut of Man-Wolf in Amazing Spider-Man
  6. Spider-Man Meets The Monster Maker
  7. Conan The Barbarian Visits Times Square
  8. Dracula Joins The Marvel Universe
  9. The Death of Dr. Druid
  10. To All A Good Night
  11. Zombie!
  12. The First Appearance of Ghost Rider
  13. The First Appearance of Werewolf By Night
  14. Captain America Punches Hitler
  15. Spider-Man No More!
  16. Alex Ross Captures Galactus
  17. Spider-Man And The Dallas Cowboys Battle The Circus of Crime
  18. Goliath Towers Over New York

Here’s The Trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home


I haven’t really been that excited about the MCU lately. Infinity War was such a big film that, to me, it felt like the proper ending point for the whole story. Everything that follows has been a bit anti-climatic. That said, I do like the Spider-Man films and I do hope that Marvel will eventually make a movie about the low-budget European version of Spider-Man, Night Monkey.

Here’s the trailer for Spider-Man: No Way Home.

Great Moments In Comic Book History: The First Appearance on Ghost Rider


Marvel Spotlight was a comic books that existed so Marvel could introduce new characters and showcase heroes who were being considered for a full time series.  Think of it as being the Marvel equivalent of pilot season.  In August, 1972, Marvel Spotlight #5 introduced the world to Johnny Blaze, the motorcyclist who once made a deal with the devil.  Johnny Blaze was better known as Ghost Rider!

While riding through Manhattan on his motorcycle, Johnny spots two criminals committing a murder.  He wants nothing to do with it and tries to drive away.  The two criminals follow him and corner him in an alley.  And then this happens:

The rest of the story is simple.  Ghost Rider makes flames emerge from the ground.  The criminals, who are named Clyde and Dingbat, run away.  How does one criminal end up named Clyde while the the other has to settle for Dingbat?  The rest of the issue is a flashback, telling how stuntman Johnny Blaze sold his soul to Satan (later revealed to be a disguise of frequent villain Mephisto) in order to save the life of his cancer-stricken stepfather Crash Simpson.  Though Crash survives the cancer, he still dies when he attempts a dangerous stunt.  Satan still wants Johnny’s soul but is vanquished by Roxanne, Crash’s daughter who is pure of soul and has been reading up on occult practices. However, every night, Johnny is transformed into Ghost Rider.

It’s nothing complicated but, from such humble beginnings, legends are born!

Marvel Spotlight Vol.1 Issue 5 (August, 1972)