Welcome back to All For the Wookiee, where we take a look at the recent Star Wars universe offerings from Marvel and pick the most Star Wars-ish moments. It's another jam-packed installment, with two-fers for Star Wars, Kanan and Lando, alongside Darth Vader issue #8. We'll take a look at the highs, the lows, the in-betweens and rate the Star Wars-iness of each moment.
All things considered, Steve Ditko has had a pretty strange career. I mean, he co-created Spider-Man and Dr. Strange and Squirrel Girl, and went solo to create the Question, Blue Beetle, and Shade the Changing Man, and even nowadays, he's still going, quietly producing creator-owned work from a studio in Manhattan. But that stretch in between is where it really gets weird. In the '80s and '90s, he did everything from Mr. A to Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos. And then there was the Missing Man.
In a career that was full of characters so odd that one of them was even called Odd Man --- and he lived up to the name, I assure you --- the Missing Man might have been the weirdest. And as the name implies, it's not what's in the stories that's so weird, it's what's not.
Yesterday, the world of comics was rocked by a true life story that rivaled any cataclysmic event that we have ever seen on the printed page: Ryan North, award-winning comic book writer, was trapped in a hole in a Canadian skate park for almost an hour. Throughout the harrowing experience, North was communicating with the outside world, sharing the drama of the experience with his Twitter followers who, as a community, came together to help North escape his predicament and return to the surface world.
In the aftermath of that experience, I spoke with North about the struggle of escape, how he refused to save himself and leave his loyal companion behind, and how being trapped in a hole can affect all of us --- even the very tall.
It's never the wrong time to read a Jack Kirby comic, but with the King's birthday coming up in two weeks, now is a better time than most. Of course, the big problem there is trying to narrow it down --- Kirby's career did, after all, span six decades and involve some pretty prolific major work --- but really, when you want to read Kirby comics, you want to go for the big stuff.
And there's nothing bigger than Darkseid finally launching his attack on Earth, a battle so titanic that it took the combined forces of the Justice League and their most diabolical villains to repel it. It's the most titanic battle possible, on the grandest, most cosmic scale!
Except for the part where, you know, it doesn't actually happen.
The '90s were a magical time for the world of comic books. Thanks to a massive boom in popularity, readership and, let's be honest here, sales driven by speculators who genuinely believed that copies of Superman #75 were going to pay for an early retirement in a solid gold mansion, the idea of jumping onto superheroes to capture kids' attention bled into plenty of other industries. It became a golden age of PSAs and promo comics, with everything from Christian weightlifters to national parks being cast in superheroic adventures.
That's right, everybody: National Parks. It seems that sometime in the mid-90s, someone decided that the natural grandeur of the Grand Canyon was having a rough time appealing to kids in an age of rap music and Super Nintendos, and that what America's greatest landmark needed was a team of vaguely heroic characters to explain why littering is bad: Chasm and the Eco Squad!
I haven't really watched any of DC's current television offerings, but to be honest, I'm actually pretty impressed with what I've heard. It seems like they're really going for it in a way that Smallville only ever did in its final season, going right to these big, weird superhero stories right out of the gate. I mean, if you'd asked me a year ago, I would've told you that there was no way we were ever going to see a telepathic talking super-gorilla show up on the CW's version of The Flash, and yet, here we are, living in a world where Gorilla Grodd is starring on a live-action TV show.
With that in mind, I'm guessing that we're only one, maybe two seasons away from TV's Green Arrow meeting up with Xeen Arrow, the hundred foot-tall alien Green Arrow from another dimension, a character who may in fact be Jack Kirby's strangest co-creation.
If you've read one Astro Boy story, then the odds are pretty good that it's 1964's "The Greatest Robot On Earth." It's considered to be a high point not only for Astro Boy, but for Osamu Tezuka's career, a massive, sweeping story full of Earth-shattering fight scenes and a villain who, despite his horrible acts, isn't entirely evil. It was even revived as the basis for 2003's Pluto, one of the greatest comics of all time, where Naoki Urasawa retold the story as a murder mystery from an entirely new perspective. It is, by any measure, one of the all time greats.
But let's be real here: Why would anyone ever talk about that comic when the very next volume has a story where Astro Boy fights Lord Satan in an amusement park full of robot deathtraps?
I've written before about how a lot of the fun of reading Golden Age comics is in seeing people who have no idea what they're doing scrambling to figure out the limits of a whole new medium, but if you ever need definitive proof that it was the Wild West back then, just flip through the pages of 1942's Scoop Comics.
It's the home of an early superheroine called Mother Hubbard, and if you haven't heard of her, don't worry. I hadn't either, until I read about her in Jon Morris's League of Regrettable Superheroes, and I think he said it best: "Back then, everyone in a cape and cowl fought a few Nazi masterminds. Only Mother Hubbard confronted a race of gnomes who pried the eyes out of children's heads with a crowbar!"
Now that is how you sell a comic book.
Q: For the holiday, what have been the best appearances of the founding fathers in comics? -- @rj_white
A. There is one story of the dawn of American Independence that comes to mind: The time that Herbie Popnecker teamed up with George Washington's sentient teeth and started up the Revolutionary War.
This week, Boom Studios --- which, in the interest of full disclosure, is a company I've done some writing for --- announced that they'd acquired the rights to Power Rangers with plans to launch a new series sometime this year. It's pretty exciting news, but at the same time, the news about a bunch of teenagers with (shockingly positive) attitudes coming to comics always gets me a little bit down, because it reminds me of one of the biggest missed opportunities in the history of the franchise.
See, this isn't the first time that the Power Rangers have made an attempt at conquering the world of superhero comics, and there was a time when they only made it through one issue with a story that was more notable for the books that it advertised and never came out than what happens in the issue itself. The year was 1996, the comic was Power Rangers Zeo, and the man who had the license... was Rob Liefeld.