Friday, 8 February 2008

KickAss Splash...

When it comes to comics nothing is more awesome than a killer splash page. Now I know that artists these days have got chops and can splash it up with the best of them but when it comes to splash pages to get the really good stuff - you gotta go old school.

I was reading some old Marvels recently when I came across Marvel Two-In-One #10 and this little gem really jumped out at me:That's pretty sweet! One of the toughest things to pull off in comic-book art is car chases. They rarely ever come out looking as dynamic and exciting as they should. This is one of those rare exceptions. These guys totally nailed it.

I could gush about the awesomeness of the splash page for a whole post but the story beyond the splash page is pretty nice too.

Marvel Two-In-One as a book had a kinda klunky premise. Every issue they'd have to dream up some reason or other for the main hero of the book (usually the Thing) to run into whatever other hero he was gonna fight/team-up with this issue.

That being said Marvel Two-In-One nine times out of ten would give you a great little done in one story and usually some B-list super-villain scoring some serious face time. Being a sucker for B-list super-villains they had me at hello.

What this issue lacks in B-List super-villains it more than makes up for with bumbling terrorists 'the Sword of Judgement'. These clowns plan to drop a thermo-nuclear bomb into the sea in hopes of causing a radioactive tidal wave that will wipe out the eastern seaboard.Why they don't just drop their thermo-nuclear bomb on the eastern seaboard I'm not entirely sure. Maybe they just really like to wear their water wings.

Anyway, their plot contains one fatal flaw. Their boss used to date slinky, sexy Russian super-spy Natasha Romanova aka the Black Widow who inevitably shows up to throw a leather-clad spanner in her ex-honey's works. Coincidentally while being chased by her ex-boyfriend's goons she almost runs over the Thing and Alicia Masters in her fancy sports car - oh the serendipity!

With the klunky meeting behind us we get to sit back and enjoy the Widow and the Thing engaging in some good old fashioned bad-guy-ass kicking! In the ensuing ass-kickery though the enormous thermo-nuclear bomb accidentally gets knocked into the sea. Whoops! Now Ben has to haul the frickin' thing back up with his bare hands before it reaches it's trigger depth and blows them all to smithereens. With Benjy out of the fight it's up to Black Widow to single-handedly take down an army of lover-boy's crazy henchmen!That's a great moment. A heroic conundrum of Stan Lee-esque proportions. Moments like these are why we read comics - am I right people!

Incidentally this issue also has an A-Team-style escape. Of course unlike Hannibal and the boys the Widow doesn't need to be locked up in a barn full of power tools to pull a Houdini. She packs a whole ACME escape kit under her fake back skin.

I'm not kidding check it out:Woo-Hoo!! A sleazy cossack striptease of Howard Stern-esque proportions. Moments like these are why we read comics - am I right people?

But that splash! That splash! Lord have mercy!!!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Oh Say Can You See....

Captain America #344 comes from the fantastic Mark Gruenwald run of the late 80s/early 90s. This issue contains one of the main reasons why Gruenwalds run is so beloved (by me anyway). That snaky bad guys.

You betcha. There's nothing I like better than a good snaky bad guy (except maybe a monkey themed bad guy of course but that's another post).

Mark Gruenwald is the picasso of snaky bad guys. He introduced the decidely silly Serpent Society and during the course of his run turned them into - - well who am I kidding they're still decidedly silly, one of them's called Puff Adder for crying out loud! Anyway he used them a lot and I loved it.

How can you not love the Serpent Society? I mean look at them! Here's Cobra, Sidewinder and *snicker* Boomslang whomping the shit out of some unsuspecting citizens and generally having a merry old time of it.Those guys rule! The costumes, the dialogue, the thinnly veiled hatred for one another. This is the very foundation legendary bad guy teams are built on!

Anyway, I'm wandering off topic here, this isn't a post about the awesomeness that is the Serpent Society. I'm here to talk about the quality snake-related moment that occurs in this issue that doesn't involve the Serpent Society.

Okay, so a bizarre epidemic is sweeping Washington turning the citizenry into weird, scaly, reptile-folk. The cause of the madness is the sultry, green-haired vixen of the snaky set Viper who is using the chaos as a cover for an attack on the White House!

Even though in those days the government had stripped Cap of his classic flag-covered duds the Sentinel of Liberty is not about to let some pinko-commie, snake chick wack the big man! So he pulls on his drab, dark coloured fake Cap suit, grabs his cheap, knock-off shield and heads off to protect the prez.So he got there a little late and the President is a snake-man himself that's hardly Cap's fault those skin-tight all in one costumes are a bugger to get into!

Ever the patriot Cap tries to fight off the snaky-prez without hurting him. Even after he strips down to his tighty whities and tries to give Cap the mother of all hickeys!

Then the snaky-prez takes it too far:Sure you can try to bite him, you can spit at him - hell you can claim you've been replaced by dimension-hopping troll and pop him one in the kisser and Cap will still turn the other cheek. What you don't do is hit him in the bonce with Old Glory!

That kind of thing gets him all steamed!

It's no surprise that scant seconds after this heinous flag bashing Cap has the prez defeated and unconscious in a puddle of his own sweat and the villainous Viper all wrapped up for the Feds.

Such is the beauty of Mark Gruenwald's Captain America. It's cover to cover super-heroics, patriotism, snaky bad guys and half-naked presidents.

It almost makes me want to stand up and salute.