On November 9, 1951, one of the purest superhero comics writers of all time was born: William ‘Bill’ Mantlo. Best known for his work at Marvel, Mantlo was a talent whose persistence, hard work, and knack for character saw him rise up the ranks to take on a succession of Marvel’s most iconic superheroes --- and co-create several new icons in the process.
Doctor Strange is a second-tier character in the Marvel pantheon, but he's making the leap to the big leagues thanks to the latest Marvel Cinematic Universe movie. To help get you up to speed with the character, we've compiled a list of ten of the best Doctor Strange stories ever published. These are the stories that will introduce you to his major foes and his main supporting cast, and get you acquainted with all the many great talents that have worked on the character over the years.
It's Halloween, and I'm celebrating with a special Cast Party featuring Marvel's spooky supergroup, the Legion of Monsters. While the original team was created in the '70s by Bill Mantlo, Frank Robbins, and Steve Gan, I'm mainly drawing inspiration from the more recent Franken-Castle story written by Rick Remender, with art by Tony Moore, Dan Brereton, and more.
ROM: Spaceknight is the definition of a cult-classic series; a sci-fi gem from the era that gave us Tron, Blade Runner and The Empire Strikes Back. ROM’s popularity is also bolstered by his absence from comics pages for several decades, but one fan is paying tribute to the Galadorian Spaceknight in the most capital-R Romantic way possible.
Ahead of the upcoming IDW relaunch as ROM: The Space Knight, Australian poet Adam Ford is writing a poem for each and every issue of the classic Marvel series, including annuals, as part of a series he calls POEM: Spaceknight.
My earliest encounters with transgender characters came in Vertigo comics in the mid-90’s, especially Wanda in Sandman and Coagula in Doom Patrol. Wanda dresses a bit like a drag queen (and dies a tragic death), and Coagula is a sex worker, but they both felt like real people, which is not how I’d ever previously been encouraged to view trans people in any medium. Growing up, reading comics has always played a role in my understanding of my own identity and worldview. I certainly wouldn’t say comics had an effect on my gender, but they definitely affected my understanding of gender.
Recently, I’ve been wanting to look back farther than Wanda and Coagula and the mid-90’s. Amidst recent discussions of trans representation in comics, I’ve found myself thinking about what preceded trans characters in comics, before there was any chance of them existing.
A lot of people fell in love with Rocket Raccoon this summer thanks to the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, so this seems like a great time to pick up some art featuring the movie's angry anthropomorphic star -- and to help out his co-creator Bill Mantlo at the same time.
Mantlo was severely injured when he was hit by a car in 1992, and has needed constant and costly care ever since. The prominence of Rocket Raccoon in Guardians brought welcome attention to Mantlo's condition, and comic artists have stepped up -- in conjunction with Multiversity Comics -- to help fund his care with online auctions of original art featuring Rocket and other Mantlo creations (yes, including ROM Spaceknight). All proceeds will go to the Mantlo family.
A huge number of people turned out to watch James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy this weekend, but one viewer was deservedly treated to a special private viewing. Bill Mantlo, the writer who created Rocket Raccoon with artist Keith Giffen for Marvel in 1976, was visited by Marvel executives and shown the movie at the care facility where he lives.
As we've reported previously in our Guardians Of The Galaxy coverage, Mantlo was the victim of a hit and run accident in 1992 that left him in need ongoing care and rehabilitation. His family has struggled to cover his medical bills, and fellow writer Greg Pak and others have helped solicit donations to support the Mantlo family.
Director James Gunn's Guardians Of The Galaxy is a big gamble for Marvel Studios. It's an unknown quantity even to most comic fans. It's a space opera at a time when non-Lucasfilm space operas don't perform well. It's a movie with a talking raccoon at a time when even Disney princess movies don't have talking animals.
Of course, all of Marvel's movies have been gambles. Iron Man wasn't a household name, despite how we think of the character now. Thor was a sci fi fantasy movie -- what could be worse? Captain America seemed an impossible sell for overseas markets. Bringing those franchises together for Avengers? Insanity. Marvel Studios' safest bet was probably Hulk -- a household name and a proven quantity -- and that's been the studio's weakest performer. So it looks like the big gambles are where Marvel excels. If Guardians Of The Galaxy is the studio's biggest gamble to date, it makes a weird kind of sense that it's also one of the studio's most delightful successes.
The Marvel Unlimited app is a gigantic, messy cache of awesome and terrible old comic books: a library of 13,000 or so back issues of Marvel titles, available on demand for subscribers with tablets or mobile phones. Like any good back-room longbox, it’s disorganized and riddled with gaps, but it’s also full of forgotten and overlooked jewels, as well as a few stone classics. In Marvel Unlimited Edition, Eisner-winning critic Douglas Wolk dives into the Unlimited archive to find its best, oddest and most intriguing comics.
Two spin-offs of Guardians of the Galaxy launch in recent weeks: The Legendary Star-Lord and the already-surprise-hit Rocket Raccoon. Marvel Unlimited's got a fairly thorough, if not quite complete, selection of most of the Guardians' previous appearances, especially the ones in the Annihilation/Annihilation: Conquest/Annihilators sequence. But their prehistory is worth digging into, too, and there's some choice proto-Guardians material in the archive.
Look, I'll admit that I haven't been completely excited about the upcoming Rocket Raccoon series by Skottie Young. Don't get me wrong, I love Bill Mantlo and Keith Giffen's spacefaring guardian as much as the next guy, and I'm pretty sure it's just our signature brand of ComicsAlliance Elitist Hipsterism creeping through that made me a little dismissive since the upswing in popularity that's keyed to this summer's big-budget Guardians of the Galaxy movie, but I just wasn't really into it. And then I found out that the first issue is about space-wrestling.