If Steve Ditko's only accomplishment in comics had been co-creating Spider-Man, he would still be one of the medium's most famous creators. But that's not all he's done. In the 60-plus years since he started drawing for Key Publications and Atlas --- the company that would become Marvel --- Ditko put an indelible stamp on comic books, while remaining something of a mystery; he's one of comics' most notoriously reclusive creators.
Ditko was born on this day in 1927 --- though judging by his reputation, he probably won't make that big of a deal out of it. He got his start drawing romance and science-fiction comics, but he would find his wheelhouse while working at Charlton, where he drew mystery, science fiction and horror stories.
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.
Comic covers are meant to get their message across in a single striking image, with the implication of movement provided only by the reader's imagination. We see the single frozen moment; our brain tells the story. Yet some talented digital artists have discovered that there's some fun to be had in animating these images and providing just a little more movement to the moment. We've collected some of our favorite examples of animated comic covers from the past few years, from an endlessly recursive Batman to a lolling Hobbes; from a struggling Spider-Man to a spinning Justice League.
Costume design is one of the great strengths of the superhero genre, a way to establish distinctive visual shorthand for a character and reveal key details about concept, purpose, and personality. But which is the best superhero costume of all time? This month, we're asking you to decide, by voting up your favorites and voting down the rest. When we have your votes, we'll compile a list of the greatest super-costumes of all time.
This week we're looking at some quintessential costume designs decade-by-decade, starting with five costumes from the 1960s; the era of the Jean Grey mini dress and the Creeper's flowing mane. These costumes are products of their time, but are they dated, or are they classic?
Costume design is one of the great strengths of the superhero genre, a way to establish distinctive visual shorthand for a character and reveal key details about concept, purpose, and personality. But which is the best superhero costume of all time? This month, we’re asking you to decide, by voting up your favorites and voting down the rest. When we have your votes, we’ll compile a list of the greatest super-costumes of all time.
For day three, it's the magic hour; five of the finest, flashiest, most flamboyant witch-and-wizard costumes in the business, ranging from the Gothic Lolita look of Runaways' Nico Minoru to the fishnet-and-top hat classic stage magician (with fishnets) look of Zatanna --- and not forgetting the weird robes and curlicued collar of Doctor Stephen Strange himself.
Listen: Michel Fiffe's Copra is great. If you've been reading ComicsAlliance for any significant amount of time -- or even if you've just been listening to the Every Story Ever segments on the War Rocket Ajax podcast where we've ranked it above stuff like "Robin Dies At Dawn," JLA: Year One and Grant Morrison's first arc on New X-Men -- then you already know that.
But at the same time, you could be forgiven for thinking that maybe, after that first run of twelve amazing DIY comics, Fiffe might've slipped a bit. After all, it's pretty rare for something to stay that good forever, and now that Fiffe's picking up mainstream work from Marvel in the pages of All New Ultimates and Dynamite with Captain Victory, you'd have a good reason to think that Copra would be on the back burner. But if you did, you would be wrong.
If, for whatever reason, you haven't been reading the second act of Copra, where Fiffe turns his attention to spotlighting individual members of the team, then you're missing out on some of the most amazing comics of the year -- and the latest issue, where Fiffe drops a treatise on and rejection of Randian objectivisim in the form of a story about a superhero sent to an interdimensional prison, is the best of the bunch by far.
Q: We know your favorite anti-heroes, sidekicks, and villains, but who's your favorite minor villain, and why? -- @fizzbang
A: Y'know, the way you phrase that question makes it sound like I've written about everything except who my favorite superhero is, and... that doesn't sound right. I'm a little too lazy to go and look, but it feels like surely at some point in the last 210 columns, I probably would've mentioned that. Oh well, I'm sure I'll probably get to talking about Batman at some point.
Anyway, back to the question. Favorite minor villains? OH MY GOD, IT'S THE ENFORCERS I LOVE THE ENFORCERS SO MUCH LET'S TALK ABOUT FANCY DAN FOR THE NEXT THREE HOURS OH MY GOD.
Describing Stan Lee as "the original genius behind Marvel Comics and most of the superheroes you've ever loved or watched on the big screen" probably isn't doing the 91-year-old comic book veteran any favors as he tries, seemingly, to rehabilitate his reputation for glory-hogging in a wide-ranging conversation to be published in this Friday's new issue of Playboy. Indeed, the (in)famously self-promoting Lee uses the interview to deliberately undermine the public perception -- one he worked hard to create, as recently as last year with his reality show Fangasm -- that he's a tremendously wealthy comic book mogul primarily responsible for the success of some of Marvel Comics' most iconic -- and profitable -- superhero characters.
Q: What is Stan Lee's actual legacy? -- @TheMikeLawrence
A: I don't think there could be a more complicated subject to tackle in a single column than this one, because as an industry and as an art form, I think we all have a lot of complicated feelings about Stan Lee. Depending on who you ask, when you ask them and what he's been up to lately, he's a conniving credit-stealer, a shameless self-promotion machine, a "driven little man who dreams of having it all!!!" and got it by coasting on the hard work of others, or he's a charismatic innovator who got put into that spotlight because he's a natural showman, a smiling ambassador of the medium and everybody's friendly comics grandpa. And it's further complicated because you can't really talk about him without talking about collaborators like Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, either.
That's what makes him hard to talk about, even if you've spent nearly your entire life being aware of him. There's just so much to get through that's filtered through so many angles, and as a result, I genuinely think that he's simultaneously the most overrated and underrated creator of all time.
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