Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bone (Cartoon Books / Image Comics)



Bone
Cartoon Books / Image Comics
1991 - 2004

Bone is one of those unique comics that sadly many people just don't give it the time of day that it deserves. Sure, it has a lot of fans, but it's not necessarily "mainstream" in terms of the comic world. Bone just doesn't get the chance to compete with your Spider-Man's, Batman's and Spawn's.

Artist Jeff Smith actually created the character(s) around the age of five, incorporating it into his own self published series in 1991 under the company Cartoon Books. Smith continued to self publish until issue number twenty (with the exception of issue 13.5 which was a Wizard magazine premium).

Despite its simplistic character design, Bone is actually a highly regarded series for its great story arc and character development. The series has received numerous awards and recognition from some of the most famous in the world of comics and cartoons such as Will Eisner and Peter David.






Beginning with issue number 20 in 1995, Smith shifted publication duties to Image comics. Image in turn reprinted issues one through nineteen under their own company banner. It's arguable that this exposure is what really tipped the scales for the character in terms of popularity. Image was the latest and greatest thing coming up in the comic world, and fans were more than happy to purchase any books from them sight unseen.



Bone returned to Cartoon Books with issue number 27, and remained there until the series ended in 2004 with number 55.





The series of Bone has been collected numerous times over in trade paperback, and many fans agree that the simplest and cheapest way to read the entire series is via the one shot Bone The Complete Series. It's relatively reasonably priced between $29.99 and $39.99 (at least as of the time of this writing it is). This collection is presented in black and white - Such as the series was in each issue. There are some collected versions of the series that have been printed in color, and though many fans regard it as a wonderful transition from black and white to color, the purists seek the B&W versions.

Join us next time when we take a look at Richie Rich - The Poor Little Rich Boy!

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Flaming Carrot Comics (Dark Horse Comics)



Flaming Carrot Comics
Dark Horse Comics
1984 - 2002

Flaming Carrot was a character created by Bob Burden which appeared in the 1979 Visions number one from Atlanta Fantasy Fair. Burden soon began publishing the book alongside Cerebus creator  Dave Sim under the company, Aardvark-Vanaheim. The series ran from 1984 to 1985 (issues 1 - 5), then switched publishing companies to Renegade Press (1985 to 1987 - issues 6 - 17) who continued the numbering from where the prior publisher had stopped.

Though the character had an avid group of fans, he really didn't blossom into popularity until the late 1980's when Dark Horse Comics picked up the series, and began publishing it from issue eighteen to thirty-one. This gave the books a lot more commercial exposure among comic readers.




The concept of Flaming Carrot is an interesting one. He's not actually a superhero. Instead, he's just an everyday average guy who on a bet decided to read 5,000 comics back to back. This caused him to suffer brain damage, and from thereafter appear only as the Flaming Carrot.


Though issue 31 was technically the last book in the series, Dark Horse published a one-shot entitled Flamnig Carrot & Reid Flemming, World's Toughest Milkman as issue number 32.


While the Flaming Carrot series was pretty solid when it was "on", a lot of times fans got frustrated with story lines that never got completed, and were abandoned. In addition, Burden promised numerous stories and concepts in various letter pages that never came to fruition - Leaving many fans often times feeling strung along (lied to if you will).

Join us next time when we take a look at Bone!

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

Masters of the Universe (Star Comics)



Masters of the Universe
Star Comics
1986 - 1988

Star Comics doesn't often times get the love that it deserves from the comic book community. It was a great subdivision of Marvel Comics which focused mainly on delivering titles to kids - Often times based on the latest and greatest animated cartoon/action figure line. As such, pretty much every title developed in the 80's featured a handful of issues before kids and the brand were off to something new. This often times didn't leave a lot of room for deep character building or massive story arcs, but it did however scratch that itch for kids in between the hours that the shows weren't airing.

Masters of the Universe was a thirteen issue series produced between 1986 and 1988. Because the original action figures had miniature comics packaged in with them (originally produced by DC Comics and later by Mattel directly), many fans consider this particular series to be volume 2.



The scripts for the majority of the series were penned by Mike Carlin (issues 1 - 8) with writer George Caragonne taking the helm for the final 3rd of the title (issues 9 - 13). As for the artists, many names were attached to the project such as (but not limited to); Ron Wilson, Dennis Janke and Danny Bulanadi.

Side Note - We love how issue thirteen showcases Skeletor on the cover based on (but not identical to) his film adaptation garb.


 In November of 1987, Star Comics incorporated a movie adaptation of the film which was released in theaters in August of that same year. Star took many liberties with the story, first and foremost shrinking it down to just fifty pages. They then changed certain events, and altered the ending which included Man-At-Arms returning from the lower level of Grayskull with an American flag and NASA flag dated July 10, 2221 - Eluding that the inhabitants of Eternia first came from the USA.

Many fans argure that the comic adaptation of the movie is far superior to the movie itself. Though personally we enjoy both, and still to this day have a guilty pleasure of watching the movie.


Also notable to the story was that the artwork for the characters was not totally based on the movie. In fact, only Gwildor, Blade and Beast Man were depicted as their film renditions. All the other characters were based on their Filmation look.

Sadly for fans, Star Comics stopped producing Masters of the Universe comics in 1988. Though there have been a handful of He-Man related titles that have trickled out in the industry since then, unfortunately it hasn't been many - The most recent being DC Comic's 2012/2013 digital print of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

Join us next time when we take a look at Flaming Carrot Comics!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series 12 and Beyond!



This update has been a long time coming, so we apologize to our readers who have been checking back for any bit of information regarding the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line.

So far 2015 has had a bit of a slow start. Folks are still waiting to get their hands on Serpent Karai - Which to date has only been seen on ebay from Australian sellers. As such, it's difficult to gauge if these are legit items from Playmates, or carefully crafted fakes. If you're one of the folks who bought from an overseas seller, let us know.

(Photo to the left shows Serpent Karai and Monkey Brains)

In addition to Karai, we're also still waiting to get our hands on the two additional Turtles from the Head Droppin' series - Michelangelo and Raphael. It's really an odd play on Playmates Toys part to release just two of the four Turtles. Though we've reached out to the company for an ETA on them, we've had no response back to date.

***UPDATE***

Playmates Toys has responded to our inquiry, but it's potentially bad news for folks who were looking to complete their Head Droppin' sets;

"Looks like Karia Serpent just showed up in stock and should ship to the retail stores within a month. I am sorry but it takes a while to get from warehouse to distribution center and then to the retail stores. The only head dropping figures I see are Leo and Don. The other two have not come out yet."

So there you have it. Karai should be out next month, but as for the other two Head Droppin' Turtles, time will tell. We'll keep you posted on what we hear.


Head Droppin' Raphael*Head Droppin' Michelangelo

For those of you that tracked down Stockman Fly and Turflytle, you may have noticed that for the first production run that there was no updated catalog packed in with the figures. Instead, it was the catalog from the prior wave of figures. This was rather disappointing as we were eager to see some new production photos of upcoming items. While we have a few images now, it's not many in terms of the massive haul that Playmates brought with them to Toy Fair.

(Photo to the right is Dark Dream Beaver and Dire Dream Beaver)

We've had the photos of Dark and Dire Dream Beaver for a while, as well as the Savage Mikey one below. New to the bunch are Muckman, Attila the Frog and Napoleon Bonafrog.


 Savage Mikey*Muckman

 Attila the Frog*Napoleon Bonafrog

Pizza Thrower*T-Rawket

Fortunately for Turtle fans, the fun doesn't stop there. Playmates Toys has released a massive list of upcoming items for 2015 which include;

Leonardo – “L” on Belt
Michelangelo – “M” on Belt
Donatello – “D” on Belt
Raphael – “R” on Belt

These Turtles are nothing new from what we've already seen released in series one with the exception that each of their belts will now have the respective first letter of their names printed on them.

Playmates Toys will also be producing an all new sub series - Dimension X. It isn't confirmed yet if all of these figures will be included in the sub series or the regular series - Suffice to say that they have all been announced, and prototypes shown at Toy Fair.

Mutant Shredder Two-Pack
Fugitoid (Dimension X Sub Series)
Dimension X Leonardo
Dimension X Michelangelo
Dimension X Donatello
Dimension X Raphael
Kraang Prime

The below are a handful of other figures from the basic line to expect;

Dr. Cluckingsworth, Ice Cream Kitty and Spike Three-Pack
Mondo Gecko
Savatini Romero

Playmates Toys will also be continuing their Mutations sub series with the following inclusions;

Beebop (Mutations)
Rocksteady (Mutations)
Casey Jones (Mutations)
Stockman Fly (Mutations)
Rahzar (Mutations)
Dogpound (Mutations)
Leatherhead (Mutations)

Last, but not least, a new sub series entitled Mix and Match Battle Shell will be making its way to store shelves. The premise is essentially that each Turtle will have a massive array of accessories that can be swapped between each other to make even larger ones.


Mix and Match Battle Shell Leonardo (Ariel Flyer)
Mix and Match Battle Shell Michelangelo
Mix and Match Battle Shell Donatello
Mix and Match Battle Shell Raphael (Ground Pounder)

With the exception of the two vehicles shown above in the last picture, only a handful of vehicles have been announced. Hopefully there are more in the works.

Slamboni with Casey Jones (Unmasked)
Mutations Turtle Turbo Charger

For those fans of playsets, you'll be happy to know that two large ones are in the works. The first is a 24 inch Leonard that transforms into a playset. The second is the already released Secret Sewer Playset with an updated chip board / backdrop, and a new feature that includes sound effects.

It's a bold move to re-release the Secret Sewer Playset because Playmates is essentially testing to see if parents will buy the same toy twice - It will be interesting to see and find out considering the price point of the original is already at $100.00. How much more it will cost with sound effects is yet to be seen.

24 Inch Leonardo Transforming Playset
Secret Sewer Lair (with Updated Chip Board, Dimension X Portal and Sound Effects)

We still haven't seen or heard of any updates on the Pop Up Pizza Shredder's Secret Lair Playset. Hopefully that item wasn't cancelled.

Overall though - It's going to be a pretty great year for Turtle fans.

We'll keep you posted on any future news we hear. For a look at all the prior Nickelodeon TMNT waves, click "HERE".

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Monday, May 11, 2015

The Crow (Caliber Press)



The Crow
Caliber Press
1989

Many people know about The Crow via the 1994 Miramax Film which featured the final performance of actor Brandon Lee. However, while the majority of these folks know it's based on a comic book series, most of said majority has never read it.

The Crow, or Eric Draven - respectively,  made his first appearance on the back cover of the Caliber Press series, Dead World number ten as an advertisement for the characters upcoming mini series. It was the first peak that the world would get at this mysterious painted figure, but certainly not the last.

(Artwork for the photo above by Camus Altamirano.)

 Advertisement for The Crow on the Back of Dead World Issue 10


The four issue mini series launched in February of 1989, wrapping up in May of that same year. In the story, Eric and Shelly are driving down a highway when their car breaks down. Unfortunately they soon find themselves the victims of a biker gang intent on raping the young woman, and killing both of them.

A year later, Eric rises from the dead to take his vengeance on his murderers, and extract justice for he and Shelly's deaths. Each volume had a single title name which included; Despair, Irony, Fear and Pain.


Though there are strong resemblances to the original mini series and 1994 film, don't be fooled - These are two very different stories when compared. The comic book is much more violent, and features a tighter story that focuses mainly on revenge/vengeance. As a result, there's not a whole lot of character building. Despite this, the original mini series is an incredible story, and a definite must read for fans of The Crow, or gritty tales in general.

It's worth noting that the story was originally intended to be a five issue arc. Sadly the 5th book,  Death, didn't go to press until the reprinted collection published by Tundra Press in 1992. Also check out A Caliber Christmas which was published in 1989. This particular book featured a story where Eric reflects back on happier times with Shelly. It's not necessary to the overall story, but it does offer a little more character building - Which was lacking in the original mini series.

Since the original mini series, The Crow has been published many times over. However, none of these new stories retells the tale of Eric, nor does he get mentioned. Instead, each one features an all new avatar - Though most follow the same premise of vengeance/revenge for a murder victim returned from the dead.

Join us next time when we take a look at Masters of the Universe!

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Infinity Gauntlet...And Its Related Titles (Marvel Comics)



The Thanos Quest
The Infinity Gauntlet
The Infinity War
The Infinity Crusade
Marvel Comics
1990 - 1993

Whether you love them or hate them, crossover stories are a great way for comic book companies to produce a massive story line that encompasses their entire universe. It not only helps bring all the characters together, but it also allows for deeper stories.

It showcases a major event that impacts all the characters, and does away with that often times confined feeling that major events in a single series leave. In other words, everyone is aware of this event, and it impacts their story moving forward as opposed to say a single event that only impacts one character, and their own story moving forward.

...Okay, it's also an easy way to sell books that readers otherwise wouldn't invest in just so they can keep up with the entire story.

The Infinity Gauntlet is an amazing mini series which was released between July and December of 1991. It stands alone as a six issue mini series, and for the most part, readers need not look to other books for a well contained story - Though several lead in, encompassing and aftermath stories were produced in such series as Silver Surfer, Quasar, Cloak and Dagger, Doctor Strange, Hulk, Spider-Man and a few others. However, one can read just the six issues which fall under the main title, and still walk away with a very thorough story that is told from start to end. The add in titles do just that, they add to the story, they don't hinder it if you don't read them.

Obviously to get the full representation of the story, one should try to track down all the individual titles that encompass the full crossover, but again, this is not necessary.

The Infinity Gauntlet starts in the pages of Silver Surfer number 34 - volume 3, and continues through issue number 38 of that same volume. It features the rebirth/resurrection of Thanos by Death herself. Though the Surfer tries to oppose and prevent this from happening, he fails.

This leads to the events of The Thanos Quest.


The Thanos Quest is the first big piece of the story arc puzzle, and is in itself its own mini series of just two issues. The story unfolds as Thanos learns about the true power of the Infinity Gems, and convinces Death to let him seek them out - Which (without spoiling the actual story) he does.

The lead up to The Infinity Gauntlet continues in Quasar number 24 and concludes in Cloak and Dagger number 18, which also features Ghost Rider and Spider-Man.

This brings us finally to the story itself;


As we said above, The Infinity Guantlet is a six issue mini series, and it essentially comes down to everyone (okay not everyone, but a good amount of heroes) vs. Thanos to stop him from destroying every universe in every galaxy - Killing everyone in the process. Why kill everyone? The short end of it is that Thanos's motivation was to give Death a gift of love that nobody else could - I.E. Kill everyone. Yes, folks - The Infinity Gauntlet is a love story.

While the six issues unfolded, there were several main events that occurred in other Marvel titles. However most of these events involved bringing those characters into the story arc of the main books. Those issues included Silver Surfer numbers 51 through 59, Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme number 31 through 35, Hulk numbers 383 through 385, Quasar number 26 and 27, Sleepwalker numbers 6 and 7, and Spider-Man number 17.

Though the story concluded in issue six of The Infinity Gauntlet, there were a few aftermath crossovers that hit newsstands. These included Silver Surfer number 60, the new series - Warlock and the Infinity watch number 1 and Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme number 36. The story would later have an alternate take in the pages of What If?.

All seemed well in regards to the Infinity Gems until 1992's The Infinity War. When Adam Warlock took posession of the Infinity Gauntlet, he sacraficed both his good and evil side to become a logical being. However there was a consiquence to this action. His evil side recreates the persona of his foe the Magnus who desires conquest and revenge against Warlock. What better way than to take control of the Gauntlet himself?

There was no real crossover lead in to The Infinity War as all of this began building in the pages of the afformentioned Warlock and the Infinity Watch between issues 2 and 6.


One of the great features of The Infinity War books was that each of the six featured a fantastic trifold cover. This meant each issue featured an amazing cover which encompassed a whole bunch of characters.



During its six issue run, there were many crossover titles which became a part of the main story. Much like those involved in The Infinity Gauntlet series, this was more so a way to explain how the characters became involved in the fight. For those not really interested in the "how" aspect of it all can still get a rather enjoyable story from the mini series itself.

The issues involved in the main story line were; Warlock and the Infinity Watch numbers 7 through 10, Alpha Flight issues 110 through 112, Fantastic Four issues 366 through 370, Guardians of the Galaxy numbers 27 through 29, Marc Spector: Moon Knight issues 41 through 44, Marvel Comics Presents numbers 108 through 111, New Warriors number 27, Nomad number 7, Quasar issues 38 through 40, Silver Sable and the Wild Pack numbers 4 and 5, Silver Surfer issues 67 through 69, Sleepwalker number 18, Spider-Man number 24 and Wonder Man issues 13 and 14.

The series even saw a parody story published in the pages of What The..?! number 20. For those unfamiliar with this great title, you can check out our post on it "HERE".

The final installment to this particular arc of stories was The Infinity Crusade, and honestly, we don't get this one at all. Here's why; Much as the story of The Infinity War surrounds the premise of Adam Warlock's evil side - The Magnus, the Crusade storyline surrounds the premise of his good side..Doing evil things. Kind of defeats the purpose of a good side.


Yes, Adam's good side, AKA The Goddess has decided to steal the five cosmic containment units collected by The Magnus, and uses them in addition to the twenty-five other she finds to create the Cosmic Egg. With the egg, she builds the planet Paradise Omega, and then uses the egg to kidnap citizens (or heroes) of Earth, and uses them to fight in her army.

Is everyone as lost as we are? Why would a good side of someone steal something, then kidnap people for an army? Right? I mean, are we the only ones who read this and were like, "Really? That's all you could come up with?"

Anyway...

The main story took place in not only the six issues of The Infinity Crusade, but also in the pages of warlock and the Infinity Watch numbers 18 through 22 and The Warlock Chronicles numbers 1 through 5. This also made it the only book in the entire Infinity "series" which really required you to read all the aforementioned tie in titles related to it to get the whole story. So really it wasn't so much a six issue mini series as it was a sixteen issue mini series.

Of course tie in stories were also present in other books which could be read to get an even more in depth understanding as to how those kidnapped were brought into the story - As well as why. Those issues included; Alpha Flight 122 through 124, Avengers West Coast 96 and 97, Cage number 17, Darkhawk 30 and 31, Deathlok 28 and 29, Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme 54 through 56, Iron Man issue 295, Marc Spector: Moon Knight number 57, Silver Sable and the Wild Pack 16 and 17, Silver Surfer issues 83 through 85, Thor numbers 463 through 467 and Web of Spider-Man numbers 104 through 106.

Thus wrapped up the 1990's Infinity Saga. If we may offer up an opinion on the matter, it would be that The Infinity Gauntlet issues 1 through 6 are really the heart of this saga, and as we said above you could really read just that and come away with a very solid story.

Join us next time when we take a look at The Crow!

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Monday, May 4, 2015

Star Wars: Dark Empire (Trilogy) (Dark Horse Comics)



Star Wars: Dark Empire
Star Wars: Dark Empire II
Star Wars: Empire's End
1991 - 1995
Dark Horse Comics

Being that it's May 4th (May the 4th be with you by the way), it seemed appropriate to start our comic book month off with one of the most well received Star Wars titles in comic history - Dark Empire.

Whether you like them or hate them, series in the (somewhat) now defunct expanded universe helped to keep the franchise afloat through the 1990's when little people seemed to care about Star Wars. It introduced more characters, locations and vehicles than we could probably ever mention, and hooked fans as it drew them into a much larger world.

One of the stories that paved the way for this was the Dark Horse Comics title, Dark Empire. When first released the series took off in popularity, making it difficult to track down the first few issues which sold out across the world. The book quickly became an easy cash grab on secondary markets, and was put into a second print run.

The premise of the story surrounded the resurrection of the Emperor in a clone body, which as the series continued to unfold in its subsequent sequels, we found him doing this multiple times. It also took Luke Skywalker down the path of the Dark Side, pitting him against his sister in a final duel. It also featured a subplot which showcased the struggling Rebel Alliance as they fought against the Empire's new machines, World Devestators.

Featuring familiar faces from the Star Wars Trilogy all slightly aged, it was a fan's dream come true, and a fantastic six issue mini series to boot. The series concluded in October of 1992.

Though it could have ended there, Dark Horse Comics revisited Dark Empire in its sequel series, Dark Empire II in 1994. This new story picked up where the last left off as the Rebels now have the Empire in full retreat. Luke Skywalker is focused on rebuilding the Jedi, but still struggles with his grip of the Dark Side.


Despite selling almost as quickly as the prior series, Dark Empire II failed to hook fans such as the original had. What didn't help the story was that yet again it leaned heavily on the return of the Emperor...Again.

By the time Dark Empire II was in production, Dark Horse Comics was pretty much determined to make a Trilogy out of the series. However, unlike the first two installments, the last didn't have the name Dark Empire in the title.

Once again the Empire has their hands on a weapon with enough power to destroy a plant...Unfortunately for Leia Organa Solo, they're pointing it directly at her. Rather than focus his attention on destroying planets, the now rapidly aging/dying Emperor is focused on destroying the future of the Jedi by killing her children. The fate of Leia and her children all depended on Luke Skywalker being able to protect his sister.

The story comes to a head with the ultimate sacrifice of Empatojayos Brand as he binds his soul with Palpatine's in an effort to save young Anakin Solo from the Emperor's attempts to posses him. This sees the final end of Emperor Palpatine...Maybe.

These days the entire story has been collected many times over in graphic novels, so one doesn't need to track down all fourteen of these (somewhat) hard to find issues. Though we know at this point Disney has deemed almost all of the fictional writings based on Star Wars to be non-canonical, this is still a fantastic read.

Join us next time when we take a look at The Infinity Gauntlet!

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