On July 30th, 1974, Wolverine made his first full appearance in The Incredible Hulk #181, and comics history was forever changed. For some reason. Somehow, a funny-looking, funny-talking, pint-sized, hairy Canadian, who literally scratches people, became one of the most popular characters in comics. How did the guy with whiskers on his mask become the epitome of toughness?
Created by Len Wein and John Romita, and brought to life by Herb Trimpe, Wolverine could have easily become another throwaway character. With his bright yellow-and-blue costume, he looks at least as ridiculous as every other one-and-done character, save for the arresting hook of those razor-sharp claws.
Legendary writer/editor Len Wein was born on this day in 1948. Over the course of a career that began in 1968, he built a reputation as one of the most reliable and consistent creators the medium has ever seen, and he was one of the first of a generation of creators that set out to work in the comics industry instead of simply treating it as stopgap employment, making the leap from the fan press to major publishers in the late 1960s, alongside contemporaries such as Marv Wolfman and Gerry Conway.
Over the course of his career he's written some of comics' best-loved storylines, created and/or developed a number of the medium's most memorable characters, and been a constant and friendly presence at conventions and fan gatherings, known for his clever plot twists, infectious smile, neatly-trimmed beard, and neatly-turned phrases.
Many of comics’ most popular heroes have been around for decades, and in the case of the big names from the publisher now known as DC Comics, some have been around for a sizable chunk of a century. As these characters passed through the different historical eras known in comics as the Golden Age (the late 1930s through the early 1950s), the Silver Age (the mid 1950s through the late 1960s), the Bronze Age (the early 1970s through the mid 1980s) and on into modern times, they have experienced considerable changes in tone and portrayal that reflect the zeitgeist of the time.
With this feature we’ll help you navigate the very best stories of DC Comics’ most beloved characters decade by decade. This week, we’re taking a look at Wonder Woman.
A more appropriate name for DC Comics' Convergence event, at least the miniseries that will accompany the main series for two months next spring, may be "Nostalgia Trip."
DC has been rolling out titles and creative teams for the 40 planned series week by week. The first batch focused on the publisher's pre-New 52 continuity. The second focused on the 1990s (including WildStorm), and the third seemed to center on the 1980s.
The fourth and final group of miniseries, which DC announced Tuesday, covers a much wider time period: All of DC's pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity. And there's another twist: They all take place on defined and listed alternate Earths which existed before the company's last line-wide reboot in the 1980s.
The Tangent universe is a recurring feature in the third week of titles for DC's spring 2015 Convergence event, cropping up by name in the solcitations for the Flash, Justice League of America, and New Teen Titans two-part minis -- and "tangent" seems like an apt term to describe DC's impenetrable two-month event that offers all the confusion and frustration of a reboot with none of the narrative consequence.
Besides the Tangent universe, the other unifying theme of the third wave of books is that dig into DC's pre-Crisis On Infinite Earths past, with writer Marv Wolfman returning to the New Teen Titans, Len Wein taking another swing at his own creation, Swamp Thing, Diana Prince back in her modish 1968 white jumpsuit, and the return of the mid-80s Detroit Justice League.
There are a lot of great things about the Batman '66 ongoing series, but I think my favorite is how it's been expanding the Dutch-angled, pop-art universe of the original TV show beyond its three-season run. There have been new adventures for the show's roster of special guest villains, new locations, and even new characters in the form of additions like the Arkham Institute's Dr. Holly Quinn and the massive, atomic-powered Bat-Robot.
On top of all that, the not-at-all surprising success of the Batman '66 revival has expanded the universe in one of the most interesting ways by finally giving us one of the biggest missed opportunities in the character's history: A full adaptation of Harlan Ellison's unproduced Two-Face story.
I've known that this story was out there for a while because it always comes up in discussions of great superhero stories that never happened, and finally getting to read it in this week's Batman '66: The Lost Episode was a fantastic experience -- not just because the story itself was fun, but because the way it was presented was amazing.
You probably haven't heard since they haven't really been making a big deal of it, but this year marks the official 75th Anniversary of Marvel Comics. Sort of. It actually marks the 75th anniversary of the publication of Marvel Comics #1, which introduced the world to the Human Torch and paved the way for the company that would eventually become the modern Marvel Comics which really came about in 1961, but you know what? That's a good enough reason for a party.
To that end, this week saw the release of the Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration, an anthology that caught my eye mostly because it features legendary and still hugely popular Batman: The Animated Series co-creator Bruce Timm adapting a Captain America story written by Stan Lee in 1941, and that is definitely something that I want to read. But with 55 pages in the anthology, there's a heck of a lot more in there besides, including the return of Alias by the original creative team of Bendis, Gaydos and Hollingsworth, and essays by comics journalists including our own Andrew Wheeler, making this one of those rare anthologies where it's all pretty good stuff.
On November 19, DC Comics will release Batman '66: The Lost Episode, a bookshelf-format one-shot by writer Len Wein and penciller José Luis Garcia-López -- superhero comics legends, both -- adapting a previously-unknown story that Harlan Ellison wrote for the classic Adam West and Burt Ward TV show: the introduction of Two-Face. The project is a very special companion to DC's popular and critically acclaimed digital-first Batman '66 series. In addition to its prestigious veteran storytellers, the book also features inking by Joe Prado, colors by Alex Sinclair and cover art by Alex Ross, all industry leaders in their disciplines.
At New York Comic Con this past weekend, we had the opportunity to sit down with Wein and discuss the origin of the project, his friendship with Ellison, and the experience of adapting an unfilmed television episode into the comic book format.
Writer Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson's House of Secrets #92 is historic for serving as the 1971 debut of of Swamp Thing, but it's also famous for featuring Louise Simonson as a model. Since then Simonson has had a storied career in comics, working as an editor at Warren Publishing in the '70s and Marvel Comics in the early '80s before shifting into a full time writing career across scores of iconic comics. To celebrate her latest project, writing the six-issue Cartoon Network crossover Super Secret Crisis War!, IDW's releasing an alternate cover for the miniseries' second issue by artist Andy Suriano that pays homage to Wrightson's famous HoS art. Comes July, fans will be able to see what happens when the Powerpuff Girls take Simonson's place and are menaced by the slightly swampy Ben 10 villain Vilgax.
Back before the VHS tape made it possible to watch the movies you wanted when you wanted (as long as Blockbuster had a copy in stock), movie novelizations and comic book adaptations of films were some of the only options fans had when it came to reliving a movie they wanted on-demand. While the majority of these were rightly viewed as cash-ins that let comics companies float on someone else's success, there were the occasional pieces of work that proved to be something more. For example, Marvel's off-model, six-part Star Wars adaptation proved to be so popular in the summer of 1977 that many credit it for helping the company pull out of a fiscal free-fall, even as it acted as a bog-standard 1970s Marvel book in a lot of ways.
Now that we can watch Magic Mike on our phones any time we want, comic adaptations can seem like a quaint throwback. However, some of them are legitimate pieces of comic history in their own right, providing an alternate look at our favorite films even as they gave a few comic creators the chance to play with the medium in a new way. In this piece, we take a look at five of them, including long lost work by Jack Kirby, Jim Steranko, Walt Simonson, Kyle Baker and Bill Sienkiewicz and more.
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