Sunday, November 30, 2014

Collecting Comic Places

This month saw the release of Guardians of the Galaxy #21, a much-anticipated story set in the home planet of the Venom symbiote. This story inspired me to think back on the first appearance of Venom’s home planet, which appears to have been The Amazing Spider-Man Super Special #1 (1995). This comic is dirt cheap as its guide value is $4 for a near mint minus (9.2) copy. As I thought about this comic, I noticed that we often overlook the first appearances of important comic places. The key issues that grab all the attention and dollars are first appearance of characters (hello, Amazing Fantasy #15!), number one issues, origin issues, death issues, and the first issues of major storylines. I feel that this is a mistake because there are many undervalued gems among issues featuring the first appearance of places. Here are three comic places that are undervalued and overlooked by collectors.

1. Batman #258

This issue features the first appearance of Arkham Asylum (well, it was originally called “Arkham Hospital” in this issue). A near mint minus (9.2) copy has a value of $120 in the Overstreet Guide, which is cheap for such a significant comic.  Read More >>

Monday, October 27, 2014

Top 5 Comic Book Stories for Hallowe'en

It's almost Hallowe'en, so here are my top 5 comic book stories that have a Hallowe'en theme...

5. Batman, "The Last Arkham" (Batman Shadow of the Bat 1-4). Great story featuring Jeremiah Arkham, and Batman fighting the inmates of Arkham Asylum

4. After-life with Archie #s 1-3. The first 3 issues of this Zombie Apocalypse Archie series will show the Archie gang like you've never seen them before, including a menacing zombie Jughead.

3. Amazing Spider-Man issue #s 293 and 294, "Kraven's Last Hunt".  This story-line is incredibly macabre and twisted, with Kraven wanting to bury Spider-Man once and for all, and ends with Kraven's suicide in #294.

2. Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth graphic novel. This is one of the best Arkham Asylum stories ever written, and it features Grant Morrison's writing at his best and creepy sexual pathologies in some of the Arkham villains.

1. Amazing Spider-Man #122. There is something very Hallowe'en when it involves the Green Goblin in his Final Appearance. The Goblin has killed Gwen Stacey in issue #121, and he gets killed off in issue #122. Certainly, other Goblins take his place as villains, but nobody comes close to the villainy of the original Green Goblin.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Reviewing the Legendary Star-Lord Series

Many readers of this website have already seen the new Guardians of the Galaxy (GOTG) movie. According to box office returns, GOTG is the highest grossing movie this year, which is really impressive because GOTG pulled in more viewers than the other big superhero movies such as Captain America: the Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past. GOTG also sold more movie tickets than non super-hero blockbusters such as Godzilla and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Marvel has achieved some enviable success. This movie has so many interesting elements, and they include a motley cast of interesting characters, an intriguing plot, vast cosmic vistas, and parallels and homages to Star Wars add to the movie’s appeal.  As the GOTG franchise has become such a runaway success, it’s not surprising that Marvel would take advantage of Guardians’ popularity by launching new GOTG comic book titles.  Read more >>

Friday, August 22, 2014

My Favourite Photos of Comic Book Creators

In the past few years, Vancouver comic conventions have seen some amazing comic book talents walk through their convention halls. My highlight was finally seeing Stan Lee in person at the 2013 Vancouver FanExpo.  Here are some photos of my favourite comic book creators, all at Vancouver FanExpo.  They include some photos of comic book legends Stan Lee, Len Wein (creator of Wolverine and the new X-Men), and Neal Adams.

Stan "the Man" Lee

Stan Lee walking through the convention floor

Len Wein

Neal Adams

Saturday, June 28, 2014

A Soccer Player Named Hulk

So I've been happily watching the 2014 World Cup on tv.  Today I was watching an elimination game between Brazil and Chile, and I noticed that there is a Brazilian soccer player named "Hulk".  I checked on wikipedia and it turns out that he is Givanildo Vieira de Souza and he is called Hulk not because of his size, but because of his facial resemblance to Lou Ferrigno.  I love the fact that a lot of the Brazilian footballers just go by their first names, and in my fan-boy opinion, "Hulk" is definitely the coolest name on the squad.

"Kinder-Surprise toy Hulk smash
Kinder-Surprise toy Loki just like in Avengers movie!"

Monday, May 19, 2014

Fantastic Four Reboot Movie: It Better Be Good

OK, so Josh Trank is doing a Fantastic Four reboot movie that will be a modern update, based on the “Ultimate Fantastic Four" comic.  I definitely have a different opinion about how an FF reboot should be done.

As most of you know, a director named Bernd Eichinger really wrecked the FF movie franchiese by making three awful Fantastic Four movies including the awful B movie from the early 1990s, the first big budget Fantastic Four movie (2005) and its sequel, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007).

Please let the next FF movie be as good as these comics.

I want this FF movie to be done right, so two years ago, when I first heard that Josh Trank would be directing the FF reboot movie and I wrote him an email to explain how I think a Fantastic Four reboot should be done. I felt that an FF reboot movie would only succeed if it went back to the 1960's and tap that "Silver Age" vibe from the Jack Kirby and Stan Lee stories. Here is the email that I wrote to Mr. Trank:

Hello Mr. Trank, 

I am very interested in providing input for the screenplay for your forthcoming Fantastic Four reboot movie.  Since the last two F.F. movies (with Ioan Gruffudd, Jessica Alba, etc.) were terrible, my idea is that a proper  F.F. movie can only be achieved by getting back to the F.F.'s historical roots in the 1960s.  We need to return  to the artwork, stories, and original spirit of Stan Lee's and Jack Kirby's early F.F. comic book stories. 

The characters of Reed Richards, Susan Storm, Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm need to be explored in-depth.  The movie should be set in the 1960s with a retro vibe, and "Mad Men" type wardrobes, just as X-men First Class was very successful in capturing the original 1960s essence of the X-men comic book and characters.  Also, completely different actors need to be used for this new F.F. movie.

The story should be set with a space exploration theme.  Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) is the  consummate scientist. His stretching powers reflect his own personality: he is constantly stretching, straining, and yearning for the stars and he is always trying to advance humankind through scientific invention. 

In your movie, Sue Storm is a woman who could be shown as a woman coming of age in a man's world in the 1960s. She is literally "invisible" to the male-dominated world of space exploration in the 1960s but when she gains her powers, she learns to become more assertive.  Yet, she should still be shown as vulnerable in a male-dominated world of ultra-strong male superheroes, but she battles and fights for her place just as women fought for
their rights in the 1960s. 

A great movie scene could show Susan Storm struggling with her mother's advice to be a dutiful wife ("let a man take care of things", etc.). Another great movie scene would be Sue Storm secretly taking part in a community meeting of women's rights activists despite her mother's misgivings. 

I love the fact that each F.F. member has powers that reflect his/her own personality.  So, in addition to the in-depth character portrayal of the Invisible Girl, the other F.F. members—Mr. Fantastic, the Thing and the Human Torch—should also be characters with a lot of depth. 

The villains of the movie could be the shape-shifting Skrulls, and this would keep with the theme of  the1960s space race and space exploration, and it can also hearken back to Fantastic Four # 2.  Superhero costumes should not be used or kept to a minimum, and this would also reflect the stories from the first two issues of the F.F., when they still didn't have their costumes.  The plot could involve the Skrulls trying to conquer the world by using their shape-shifting powers and alien technology.  Another possible space storyline could involve the Kree and their creation, the Inhumans, but I think the Skrulls would make more compelling movie villains than the Kree.  Another option could be making a movie around the Negative Zone and Annihilus as he would also make a great movie villain.

I sent this e-mail to Mr. Trank back in 2012 and it looks like my ideas won't get used. These are just my own ideas for bringing the F.F. back to life and I feel satisfied that this type of story would work on the silver screen.

Movie Villains with Poor Comic Book Values

It’s funny how Comic Con season can disrupt a relaxing summer day. It was a nice summer day back in July, 2013, and I was reading a book and enjoying the summer breeze blowing in from the window.  Then, my tranquility was shattered because I went to the computer and read the news from the San Diego Comic Con, which also took place on the same day.  Joss Whedon had just announced that Ultron would appear as the main villain in the Avengers movie sequel.  Like some frantic stock trader with insider information, I swung into action. I desperately phoned a few comic dealers in an effort to snag some copies of Avengers # 55 (the first full appearance of Ultron) for cheap. It took about a day to hear a back from them about the comics, and when they did call me back, the ink had already dried on the new price tags that they had slapped on the polybags.  I think one dealer wanted $300 for a very fine copy of #55 so I passed on it.

In thinking back on this moment, I’m writing today to advise you not to hastily buy a supervillain’s comic just because that villain will be appearing in the next Hollywood blockbuster. Read more >>

Monday, April 21, 2014

Highlights from Fan Expo Vancouver 2014

I had an excellent time at last weekend's Fan Expo Vancouver 2014. I attended the first two days of the show and I saw a lot of cool costumes.  Fan Expo is so diverse because it brings together cosplayers, pop culture fans, sci-fi buffs, gamers, comic book lovers, so it's amazing to see all that enthusiasm and creativity all in one convention hall. I caught a glimpse of Tony Moore, the creator of the Walking Dead, and I saw a few other celebrities as well. Here are some images from this year's Fan Expo...