March 29, 2006

--Link-- Amazing Web Spidey reviews

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Dustin McNeill is reading an issue of THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN every day, and has been posting about it since #17 and is up to Ditko's last issue, #38 (he'll eventually go back and post on the first sixteen issues). The link is to #38, you can work your way back from that.

http://amazing-web.blogspot.com/2006/03/issue-38-just-guy-named-joe.html

March 26, 2006

Marvel Tales #136 [1982]

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This issue reprints the third Doctor Strange story, "The Return Of The Omnipotent Baron Mordo", from STRANGE TALES #114 [1963]. As the title says, Doc's main rival, Baron Mordo, attacks again, this time luring Doctor Strange to an old castle in London by disguising himself as Lord Bentley, an old and apparently distant friend of Doc (distant enough that Doc didn't know he died a decade before). Mordo traps him in the vapours of a mystic candle, which will end his life if it's allowed to burn out. Ever arrogant Doc refused the Ancient One's offer to help, and instead reaches out to the nearby Victoria Bentley, who has latent mystic powers. Not taken by surprise, Doctor Strange is more than a match for Mordo, who is forced to retreat.

They sure did pack a lot into these early 5-page episodes. Mordo and his arrogance, clearly covering for his innate cowardice, is always nice to see. I thought it was kind of interesting that Victoria was pretty clearly set up to return, though she doesn't until long after Ditko is gone. There seem to be a few mild attempts to create a few supporting characters for Doctor Strange beyond the Ancient One, though none seem to take for the first few years.


March 19, 2006

Machine Man #12 [1979]

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Machine Man was a Jack Kirby creation, cancelled when he left Marvel in 1978. It was revived less than a year later, this time with newly returned to Marvel Steve Ditko drawing and Marv Wolfman writing.

I'm looking forward to reading and re-reading these. A few of them were among my earliest Ditko back issue buys, but I only recently got the last few (they were absurdly expensive in one of those odd comic book marketplace things where books become "hot" for a guest appearance that no one cares about a year later (Jack O'Lantern?), but the price never goes down).

"Where Walk The Gods" is a 17-page story, starting with Machine Man patrolling the streets of New York at night, and getting increasingly disenchanted with humanity. For no well explained reason, his frustrated electrical discharge ends up instantly hyper-evolving five humans, who appear just as Machine Man is about to kill a criminal who shot a young boy's father. A rather odd dialogue on ethics ensues, as the cosmic beings debate whether Machine Man will prevent humanity from reaching its destiny. One amusing anti-Ditko note, when the young boy pleads on MM's behalf he also says of the shooter "there's gotta be a way to help him without hurting him". Oh, Mr. A would be so disappointed...

Actually kind of some ambitious, if unsuccessfully done, ideas in here for a mainstream comic about a robot from 1979. Maybe if there had been a fuller explanation of what exactly happened, or a follow-up of some sort.

Pretty standard Ditko art from the era. Solid, but nothing too eye-opening. In some ways his Machine Man is a bit too visually restrained at times.

Ditko also draws the cover.




"Where Walk The Gods" LG718

March 8, 2006

Captain Glory #1 [1993]

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Topps is yet another short-lived comic book start-up that Ditko was a part of, being one of the artists for their "Kirbyverse" books, featuring character designs by Jack Kirby. Some of the actual comics weren't bad, but I think they were doomed from the start by launching a line that literally needed a flowchart to follow and their insistence on bagging all their comics with trading cards.

Captain Glory was a Kirby design dating back to the New Gods days, originally named Captain Victory until that name was used for someone else.

This issue introduces Keltan, a soldier from 15,000 years in the past, preserved in a pod along with two others as their civilization collapsed in order to help the next civilization survive. He emerges alone in modern day Chicago, unable to understand this new world and running into reporters and police, until he's found by other survivors of his time, determined to conquer the new world.

Ditko draws the 28-page story, written by Roy Thomas. It's some good looking stuff from Ditko, thankfully doing his own inks unlike a lot of his mainstream work from the period.

After this one-shot Ditko also drew the four issues SECRET CITY SAGA that told the rest of the story.


March 1, 2006

Pacific Presents #1 [1982]

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The Missing Man was a character Ditko created in the early 1980s, appearing first as a back-up in CAPTAIN VICTORY, then being one of the two co-features in PACIFIC PRESENTS. I thought the visuals on the character were really nice, but the execution was a bit lacking, with no real background on the character other than that he was troubleshooter Syd Mane, who had an odd gimmick.

"The Queen Bee" is an 18-page adventure written and drawn by Ditko. Mob boss King tries to take over the racket of another mobster, Headman, using the powers of Queen Bee, a singer with a hypnotic voice, who thinks King is helping her find the killer of her lover. With the help of Ma's Detective Agency, Syd is able to find her lover alive, defeat King and reunite the couple.

Like I said, cool visuals for a character with a cool gimmick, but not much of a story, lacking both the pure goofiness and the heavy philosophical musings of Ditko's more interesting creator-owned work.



Ditko also draws the bottom half of the cover, under a Dave Stevens piece for the Rocketeer.

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