Here’s The Trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy Volume 3!


To be honest, I’ve been a little bit bored with the MCU lately.  I mean, the Spider-Man films were fun and WandaVision was certainly better than I was expecting it to be but, for the most part, it’s been hard to shake the feeling that, post-Endgame, the MCU has lost a bit of its spark.  Endgame was such a logical place to stop that everything that’s come after it has felt a bit superfluous.

Still, if anyone can respark my interest in the MCU, it would be James Gunn and the Guardians of the Galaxy.  And, fortunately, they’ve got a new film coming out next year!  Here’s the trailer, which seems to promise that the Guardians will continue to poke subtle fun at the conventions of the MCU while also using those conventions to their advantage.

At the very least, it should have a good soundtrack.

 

Great Moments in Comic Book History #31: Tomb of Dracula #43


In Tomb of Dracula #43 (April, 1976), a reporter named Paul Butterworth discovered the existence of not only Dracula but also the people (like Blade, Frank Drake, and Rachel Van Helsing) who were trying to stop his reign of terror.

Paul thought it would make a good story but he knew he needed proof so, when he met Dracula, he was sure to take a few photographs.  The joke was on Paul because vampires can’t be photographed!  When Paul’s editor sees the blank photos, he demotes Paul to doing the helpful hints column.

Not a bad story.  Tomb of Dracula was always at its best when it brought in “normal” characters and allowed them to interact with Dracula and the vampire hunters.  Paul Butterworth never made another appearance but he was still a part of the series’ overall mythology.

However, the thing that made this issue great was the cover.  Illustrated by Bernie Wrightson, this cover may not have much to do with the story but it perfectly captures the feel of Tomb of Dracula.

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
  24. Captain America Quits
  25. Spider-Man Meets The Fantastic Four
  26. Spider-Man Teams Up With Batman For The Last Time
  27. The Skrulls Are Here
  28. Iron Man Meets Thanos and Drax The Destroyer
  29. A Vampire Stalks The Night
  30. Swamp Thing Makes His First Cover Appearance

Great Moments In Comic Book History #29: A Vampire Stalks The Night


Now that we are halfway to October, I decided to share my personal favorite cover from The Tomb of Dracula.

The Tomb of Dracula was a comic book that ran for 70 issues, from 1972 to 1979. It was published by Marvel and it’s generally considered to be one of the best of the horror comics. It was also the first comic book to feature the character of Blade, who was later brought to life by Wesley Snipes in one of the first successful films to be based on a Marvel comic.

I’m a Tomb of Dracula fan and a collector. I’ve got nearly every issue of Tomb of Dracula and it’s companion magazine, Dracula Lives. Below is my favorite cover:

Great Moments In Comic Book History #28: Iron Man Meets Thanos and Drax The Destroyer


50 years ago, in Iron Man #55, both Drax the Destroyer and Thanos made their first appearances.

Iron Man #55 opens with Drax the Destroyer being held prisoner on Thanos’s mobile prison planet.  This Drax is far different from the Drax who became famous as a result of being a part of the MCU.  This Drax is a former Earthling who was killed by Thanos but then resurrected and given one mission, to kill Thanos.  There’s nothing funny, not even unintentionally, about his Drax.  Knowing that Drax will not stop until he has destroyed him, Thanos has chained Drax up and spends his spare time taunting him.  Just because Thanos is evil, that doesn’t make him smart.

Drax sends out a mental message to Iron Man, despite the fact that he and Iron Man have never met.  Tony Stark agrees to help Drax because Drax’s messages are so powerful that Tony can’t even attend a business meeting.  After suiting up as Iron Man, Stark flies out to Thanos’s prison planet.  Along the way, Drax tells him the abbreviated details of Thanos’s origin and Thanos’s love of death.

Iron Man’s fist meeting with Thanos is not particularly auspicious.

Thanos thinks so little of Iron Man that he assigns the moronic aliens known as the Blood Brothers to battle Iron Man.  Iron Man is able to free Drax, the Blood Brothers are easily defeated, and Thanos makes a hasty retreat.  Drax thanks Iron Man, shakes his hand, and then heads after Thanos.  And I suppose Iron Man gets back to Earth somehow.

Thanos and Drax were created by Jim Starlin, who wasn’t even Iron Man’s regular writer.  When the planned story for Iron Man #55 ended up running behind schedule, Starlin was assigned to create a filler story.  Thanos and Drax were both characters that Starlin had invented for a planned-but-never-written sci-fi epic in college.  Starlin reused them and their origins in Iron Man #55.

Though thrown together at the last minute, Iron Man #55 predicted the future of Marvel in a way that, even at the time, few realized.  When Starlin took over Captain Marvel, he reused both Drax and Thanos and crafted an epic space opera that was later reused during phase one of the MCU.  For all the credit that was given to Kevin Feige, the Russo brothers, Stan Lee, and countless others, the MCU owes much of its success to Jim Starlin.

And it all began with Iron Man #55 running behind schedule.

IRON MAN #55 (October, 1972)
Writer: Jim Starlin/Mike Friedrich
Penciler: Jim Starlin
Inker: Mike Esposito
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Roy Thomas

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
  24. Captain America Quits
  25. Spider-Man Meets The Fantastic Four
  26. Spider-Man Teams Up With Batman For The Last Time
  27. The Skrulls Are Here

Great Moments In Comic Book History #27: The Skrulls Are Here


Just a few months after introducing themselves to the world, the Fantastic Four appear to be on a crime rampage!  The Thing swims out to an oil rig and knocks it over with one punch.  The Human Torch melts a memorial.  The Invisible Girl steals jewelry.  And when New York suffers a huge blackout, witnesses report seeing an arm stretching it’s way into a powerplant and flipping the off switch!

The Fantastic Four claim that they’re innocent and it turns out that they are.  Four shape-shifting aliens, known as the Skrulls, have traveled to Earth and are pretending to be the Fantastic Four so that the government will turn on them and it will be easier for the Skrulls to take over the planet.  Fortunately, Mr. Fantastic figures out what’s going on.  Not only does he fool the Skrull commanders by showing them back issues of Journey Into Mystery and Strange Tales and saying that they’re actual newspapers about the monsters that exist on earth but he also hypnotizes three of the Skrulls on Earth and convinces them that they are cows.

I’ve always liked the Skrulls and it’s always bothered me that they seemed to lose almost every war that they got involved in.  How could the Kree defeat the Skrulls?  And was it necessary to add insult to injury by having Galactus eat their homeworld?  The Skrulls just could not catch a break and I think that’s one reason why they’ve always been popular.  With their ability to change their shape and adopt the powers of the heroes that they’re imitating, the Skrulls should have been unstoppable.  They should have conquered this planet a long time ago.  But the Skrulls, for all of their powers, could just never seem to get it together.  To paraphrase Uncle Ben, with great power comes truly rotten luck.

Fantastic Four #2 was not only the first appearance of the Skrulls but it was also the first instance of a Marvel super hero team thwarting an invasion of Earth.  (Eventually, Earth being invaded would become a monthly occurrence in the Marvel Universe.)  The issue also introduced a major Marvel theme.  The Fantastic Four may have saved the world from Mole Man just a few weeks before the Skrulls arrived but it didn’t take long for the general public to turn on them.  It was a lesson that would later also be learned by Spider-Man and the X-Men.  The general public is extremely fickle when it comes to its super heroes.

And it all started with four shape-shifters coming to Earth.  The Skrulls may never win but Marvel still owes much to them.

Fantastic Four Vol. 1 No. 2

(September, 1962)

“The Fantastic Four Meets The Skrulls From Outer Space”

Script: Stan Lee
Pencils: Jack Kirby
Inks: George Klein
Letters: John Duffy

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
  24. Captain America Quits
  25. Spider-Man Meets The Fantastic Four
  26. Spider-Man Teams Up With Batman For The Last Time

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!