Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Hulk Annual #1 - What I Saved

    As I mentioned in a recent post, a few months back I sold three-fourths of my comic collection.

   But there were comics I saved, either out of sentiment, nostalgia or just because I couldn't bear to part with it.

   As I sort through those comics (once filed alphabetically, they're now jumbled up), I hope to write posts like this one, talking about "What I Saved."

   Up first is a comic I kept because of its cover - Hulk Annual #1.

   This is a comic I bought off the newsstand in 1968, and as a reader of The Incredible one's monthly comic, I couldn't resist this cover.

   I attended a talk by Jim Steranko several years back at a comics convention, and he talked about getting the assignment to do this cover - he was told, "We don't care what it is - we just need it fast." 

   So he turned this amazing work out in very short order and turned it in - but apparently the cover was a bit too intense, because they had Marie Severin redo the Hulk's face.

   Still, it was stunning - and the interiors were impressive too! Marie Severin and Syd Shores (with additional inks by "almost the whole blamed Bullpen") provided 51 pages of story, written by Gary Friedrich. 

   It dropped the Hulk into the Great Refuge where he found himself in a Civil War (of sorts) between the Inhumans (and Black Bolt in particular) and the forces of Maximus. So, lots of action, destruction and general mayhem in view.

   Marie's expressive art is always a treat, and if things get a bit rubbery in places, it was hard to complain since you got so much story for a mere quarter!

   I enjoyed (and read) this comic so much that that beautiful cover became detached from the comic. I'm afraid I spoiled the resale value at some point, as I committed the sin of using two small bits of scotch take to reconnect the cover - and hey, it's still hanging on there!

   How could I let this one go? (Obviously, I couldn't.)


Grade: A


Monday, September 13, 2021

Marvel Studios’ Hawkeye - TV Trailer

   Marvel has released the trailer for the new Hawkeye series for Disney+ and it looks like a lot of fun!

   (And we could use something more lighthearted after the zombie episode of What If...?

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - Movie Review


   Back for a quick movie review! 
   My oldest son and I caught the newest Marvel movie - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings - and we both enjoyed it, with a few caveats.

   I've been a fan of the character since I picked up his first appearance in Special Marvel Edition in 1973. 

   Obviously, the film version had to make some changes - so gone is his costume and his "original" father, Fu Manchu, now replaced by a modern (and no longer offensive) version of the classic villain, The Mandarin

   There are lots of things to like about this movie, the most important one being: the actors are all terrific! Simu Liu plays Shang-Chi, and is charismatic, charming and very convincing as an action star. 

   His best friend Katy is played by Awkwafina, a heartfelt and very funny role, and Tony Chiu-Wai Leung is amazing as Xu Wenwu, the master of the ten rings.

   The story follows Shang-Chi, who's trying to build a life for himself - but he's drawn back into conflict with his father (who has an amazing backstory), and to ultimately discover the hidden secrets behind his mother's past - and a force that threatens the world.

   Along the way there are lots of great fighting sequences (those work best when they're done in the "real world" - not via CGI). There's lots of humor and some touching moments, as well.
   The film's only problem is that it tries to pack too much... well, stuff... into the story, especially in the chaos of the final act. (And like any first Marvel movie, there's always some origin-itis to deal with.)

   But it's a great start for the hero and there are plenty of plot threads to continue over into the next film in the series.

   It reminds me a lot of the first Black Panther movie - a film that breaks new ground, broadens the Marvel horizons, and plants many seeds for future stories - and is centered around a hero with amazing potential. 

   I'm also happy to finally learn the proper pronunciation of the hero's name - since 1973 I've been calling him SHANG ("HANG" with an "SHH" in front of it) CHEE, and only now do I find out that it's SHAUNG CHEE. You learn something new every day!


Grade: A-

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Checking In After a Long Break

    So, it's been a while.

   I'm still technically on a break from the increasingly-inaccurately-named "Chuck's Comic of the Day" blog (as I have been for the last six months), but I hope to wrap that up in the near future - but your pal Chuck has been through some major changes since signing off back in February.

   For example: I sold more than half of my (not inconsiderable) collection of comics. I packed up my belongings, sold my house, and my wife and I moved halfway across the country.

   We were originally planning to do this next year, when I retired from my full-time job out there in the real world. We were going to move to a big ol' state where my son, his wife and our two granddaughters live (the name rhymes with Smexas) - but the real world complicated matters.

   The main problem was the rapidly escalating cost of homes in Smexas. At the rate they were rising, a decent home might be out of our price range by next year. 

   So we adjusted our timetable and bought a house now (and sold our previous house in record time - thank you, crazy housing market). That meant moving all our stuff, including way too many boxes of comics. The problem: our former house had a big, dry basement - our new home does not. So something had to give.

   My youngest son is a comics fan, so he walked away with the 10 or so boxes he wanted (with my blessing, of course). A friend had recently sold his collection to a dealer, and he kindly sent that dealer in my direction. The dealer made a very generous offer, and I accepted - two trips later, he had carried off about 80 boxes of comics and magazines and posters. 

   That left me with about 30 boxes of assorted treasures. (I'm considering adjusting the blog to focus on what I saved and why.)

    The move is done, though I'm still sorting through LOTS of boxes of comics and paperbacks and toys and God knows what else.

    And I'm still working, dividing my time between my new home and my old job (which means I'm flying a lot more than usual). 

   And then there's COVID.

   All of that combined made life complicated, so something had to give (several somethings, actually), and this blog was one of them. I do hope to return one day, and I apologize for dropping off the face of the blogosphere so abruptly - but as always, family comes first.

   So bear with me a while longer, and hopefully we'll get back to something resembling normal.

    And here are a couple of "instant" Movie / TV reviews to tide you over:

   "Black Widow" -  Loved it - worth the wait (and a great setup for future installments - or past ones).

   "Loki" - Terrific mini-series, nice and mind-bendy.

   "Free Guy" - Just saw it today - lots of good laughs in there (and one that got a big howl out of me - you'll know it when you see it). The story gets a little wobbly in places, but overall a fun film.

    Chuck out! (For now!)


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

"Invincible #5: “That Actually Hurt” - TV Guest Review

    Stepping back into the Guest Review spot is my pal Billy Hogan, who continues his reviews of the animated series based on the comic book Invincible:

"Invincible Episode #5: “That Actually Hurt”

   It's been a while since I had time to watch the next episode of this series on Amazon Prime Video, but I had taken a week's vacation, so took the time to watch the next episode. I wasn't disappointed.

   Superpowered thug Titan, who can transform into a rock-armored enforcer for criminal boss Machine Head, meets with various people who either threaten Machine Head's territory, or owe him money. The surviving Mauler Twin continues his work in his new lab, with much success.

   Mark Grayson continues to find his place as a superhero, but as the episode progresses, the double life of a hero puts a lot of stress on his relationship with Amber

   Omni-Man continues to train son Mark in superhero tactics, but wife Debbie continues to have suspicions about her husband, especially after finding demon detective's Darkblood's notebook, filled with clues about the crime against the Guardians Of The Globe at the end of the first episode. Eventually she finds a clue that makes her even more suspicious of her husband.

   Atom Eve also has drama, not only at home, but with the Teen Team, causing a lot of upheaval in her own life.

   Robot has a secret meeting where he offers a job opportunity.

   Eventually, Invincible meets a bad guy he first ran into in the first episode, who asks Mark for help to get his family out of a bad situation. Mark has to decide first whether to believe him, and second, should he help him, or should he concentrate on the big picture of protecting the entire planet.

   The episode ends with Invincible and the Teen Team involved in the biggest battle they have yet faced. Writer and co-creator Robert Kirkman crafted a twist ending I didn't see coming that might have major consequences in the future. He was a master at this with the INVINCIBLE comic book series.

   In the comic book's continuity, Titan was a minor villain, but with the animated series, he is taking his toys and playing with them in new and interesting way. The animated series is establishing itself as a strong series, able to stand on its own. It remains faithful to the spirit of the original comic book series, but continues to be its own unique story that brings me back for each episode. Even though I know how the story will develop overall from reading the comic book series, Kirkman and the animation team are playing with the characters in new ways that creates a new story in the Invincible Universe, or the Invincible of another dimension, to borrow a concept from superhero comic books.

   This episode still gets my top grade of a solid "A." This series continues to be for MATURE audiences only. If that's not an issue for you, I continue to recommend it.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Invincible Animated Series: Episode #4: Neil Armstrong, Eat Your Heart Out!

   Welcome back my pal Billy Hogan who continues his reviews of the animated series based on the comic book Invincible:

    The wife of Guardians Of The Globe member Red Rush hires Debbie Grayson, mother of Invincible hero Mark Grayson, to sell her home because she has decided to move back to Moscow. 

   Mark's relationship with Amber continues to develop as he learns how to navigate the superhero problem of having a secret identity.

   When Mark's father Nolan, aka Omni-Man, declines Cecil Stedman's offer of protecting a manned mission to Mars from the Martians, Mark decides to volunteer. His inexperience shows as the astronauts are captured under his nose, and the expedition has to make a hasty retreat from the Red Planet. The question is, did a threat to Earth hitch a ride on the spacecraft.

   While Mark is away, Nolan and Debbie take a brief vacation for some quality time after experiencing the stress of recent events.

   Throughout the episode, demonic detective Damian Darkblood has been continuing his investigation about the events involving the Guardians Of The Globe at the end of the first episode. 

   Cecil Stedman, head of the Global Defense Agency, has been conducting his own investigation, and his suspicions center on one person. But he finds a way to get Damian Darkblood out of his way so that no one or nothing can interfere with Stedman's plans. But Damian made sure his own investigation did not go for naught.

   The surviving Mauler Twin finds a place to build a new lab so he can clone another twin.

   At the end of the episode, we discover a secret about Robot.

   This episode uncovered a few hidden layers of a number of characters, revealing dimensions about them we weren't aware of before. These characters are becoming more complex and intriguing, and makes me want to hurry up and watch the next episode to see how they affect the story. 

   Robert Kirkman, writer and co-creator of the comic book series, is using the comic book series as a foundation for this animated series, but he's not afraid to continue playing with his characters and take them in different directions from the comic book story. That strategy makes the animated series new and fresh, hooking the viewer into staying along for a wild ride.

   It leaves me no choice but to also give this episode a solid A.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Invincible: Episode 3: Who You Calling Ugly? - Guest Review

   Welcome back Billy Hogan with his review of the third episode of the Invincible animated series:

    We begin with a public ceremony honoring the Guardians Of The Globe, followed by a more private one with the families of the Guardians. There Damian Darkblood questions Nolan about the case involving the events involving the heroes at the end of the first episode.

   During the episode, Atom Eve discovers a secret about two of her teammates on the Teen Team.

   After the success the Teen Team had with the Flaxan invasion last episode, Cecil Stedman, head of the Global Defense Agency (GDA) tasks Robot, leader of the Teen Team, with putting together a new group of heroes to become the next Guardians Of The Globe. 

   After a series of auditions, some with humorous results, the heroes chosen along with the Teen Team are Monster Girl (who appears to be a pre-teen girl who can transform into a hulking monster, with an interesting twist to her power), Shrinking Rae (a female hero who can reduce her size), and Black Samson (an early member of the Guardians Of The Globe who left the group when he lost his powers but now wears a special suit that gives him powers).

   Meanwhile, Mark discovers some of the challenges of having a private life while being a superhero, when he begins a relationship with a girl from high school. He has to respond to an emergency alert from Cecil, along with Atom Eve, without revealing his secret identity to his new girlfriend. Invincible and Atom Eve face Doc Seismic at Mount Rushmore.

   The Mauler Twins, who were introduced at the beginning of the first episode, escape their GDA prison with a little inside help. The source of their assistance, when it's revealed, is a surprise. One question I have is how it is able to be hidden from Stedman, but maybe we will learn more details in later episodes. This plot twist is the first major one that significantly differs from the comic book. It shows that co-creator and writer Robert Kirkman continues to play with his concept of Invincible, and not just make what amounts to a “motion comic” of his comic book hero.

   The episode ends with demonic detective Damian Darkblood questioning Debbie about her superhero husband.

   This episode had more humor in it than the previous two. It continues to build an interesting mystery about what is going on with Nolan Grayson aka Omni-Man, as we continue to follow his son Mark's development as a superhero. 

   Nolan continues to give Mark some valuable advice about what it takes to be a hero, both as a public figure and someone with a private life and how to protect it. The ways the animated series differs from the original comic book don't stray from the spirit of the series, but makes readers familiar with the comic book, like me, feel like we're watching an entirely new story.

   I can't wait to see where Robert Kirkman, the creative team of animators, and the vocal cast will take us. 

   Once again this episode deserves a solid A.