Tag Archives: Comic Books

FIFTEENTH CENTURY BLOCK BOOKS

antichristBlock Books from centuries ago were a form of illustrated storytelling, most often associated with religious topics. Naturally in a period of limited literacy the graven woodblock picture- stories made theological tales even more popular with the masses. In approximately 1455 – 1480 these “proto- comic books” addressed the Antichrist and the End Times.

These particular block books depicted the Antichrist being born “unnaturally” through a caesarean section with a demon serving as midwife. The block book Antichrist is a rare blonde depiction of this figure and he is shown getting an early education in black magic and in sexual depravity, just like Harry Potter. (I’m kidding! … Unless you count slash fiction) Continue reading

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JUSTICE SOCIETY REVIEWS: LINKS

Wonder Woman and HawkgirlThank you to readers who reminded me that I did not follow up my examination of the World War Two-era Justice Society of America stories with my usual collection of links. I always did that after similar items like The Celestial Madonna Saga, Panther’s Rage, The Kree-Skrull War and most recently Adam Warlock’s encounter with the Magus, Thanos and Gamora.

In addition to examining these WWII stories I added detailed ways that I would have script-doctored them for a more sophisticated age.

All Star 3THE FIRST MEETING OF THE JUSTICE SOCIETY OF AMERICA (December 1940)

Gathered together for the very first time, the JSA members each share an introductory story about themselves (braggarts). The government informs them it has a vital mission for them in the next issue.

My Revision: Since it’s their first meeting I would have had the JSA – including the original female Red Tornado – recount their origin stories to each other. CLICK HERE  

All Star 4FOR AMERICA AND DEMOCRACY (March 1941)

The government sics the Justice Society of America on the Greyshirts, a Nazi-sympathizing group sabotaging America’s industries in case the U.S. enters the war.

My Revision: I had the heroes acting as a team, not on individual missions and once again used the female Red Tornado instead of the awful Johnny Thunder. CLICK HERE

All-Star 5THE MYSTERIOUS MISTER X (June 1941)

A masked man calling himself Mister X organizes America’s criminals into guilds and unions to make them more efficient.

My Revision: I had the JSA acting as a team in 3 adventures against Mister X and used the Red Tornado again instead of Johnny “Jar Jar” Thunder. Plus I used Hawkgirl instead of Hawkman. CLICK HERE Continue reading

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ADAM WARLOCK: THE MAGUS, PART SIX

magus on throneBalladeer’s Blog’s examination of another old, old, OLD Marvel Comics hit continues. This one was written AND drawn by Jim Starlin. (The overrated and over-praised Alan Moore only writes, doesn’t draw.) 

FOR PART ONE PLUS A RECAP OF ADAM WARLOCK’S FICTIONAL HISTORY CLICK HERE

Magus 6PART SIX

Warlock #10 (December 1975)

Title: THE REDEMPTION PRINCIPLE

NOTE: This installment of The Magus features what the late Stan Lee might have called “the senses-shattering ORIGIN of GAMORA!!!”

Synopsis: We are rapidly approaching the final installment of Jim Starlin’s masterful hybrid of Young Adult Science Fiction and superhero story. Recapping last issue’s mind-boggling developments regarding Adam Warlock and his vile future self the Magus would require several hundred words, thus blocking the dramatic flow, so I will simply pepper in relevant details as needed.

Adam WarlockWe pick up right where we left off last time: Room #7, Sub-Level 2 of the Sacred Palace, headquarters of the Magus’ galaxy-spanning Universal Church of Truth. The Magus, that Church’s self-proclaimed god, not only defeated Warlock and Pip the Troll but also thwarted Gamora’s attempt to kill him with her God-Slayer Knife.

Gamora’s mysterious (to 1975 readers) master turned out to be Thanos, not as dead as the Avengers thought he was at the end of the Thanos War in July of 1974. Thanos teleported himself to Gamora’s side to continue trying to prevent the Magus (a potential rival) from ever existing (see the previous installment).

GamoraThe Magus had left Room #7, Sub-Level 2 after defeating Adam, Gamora and Pip, and thus is not aware that Thanos is involved. With Gamora’s interference having already altered the Magus’ past as he remembered experiencing it as Adam Warlock, the mad “deity” sent a legion of his Black Knights of the Church to attack the survivors in Room #7, Sub-Level 2 to prevent any further significant changes. Continue reading

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ADAM WARLOCK: THE MAGUS PART TWO

Adam WarlockWith the superhero movie season already upon us Balladeer’s Blog’s examination of another old, old, OLD Marvel Comics hit continues. This one was written AND drawn by Jim Starlin.

FOR PART ONE PLUS A RECAP OF ADAM WARLOCK’S FICTIONAL HISTORY CLICK HERE

Magus Part TwoPART TWO

Strange Tales #179 (April 1975)

Title: DEATH SHIP

Synopsis: The previous chapter ended with Adam Warlock being smacked around by the superior power of the Magus, the god worshipped by the interstellar Universal Church of Truth. It developed that the Magus could not kill Adam because, somehow, Warlock and the Magus were actually one and the same being. Killing Warlock would be the same as killing himself. 

Adam (powerful enough to fly through space under his own power at faster than light speeds) set off for the faraway galaxy that is the seat of power of the thousand worlds ruled by the Universal Church of Truth. That lies roughly 12 galaxies away from the Milky Way so this long, long journey is taking Warlock into parts of space never before depicted in the Marvel Comics universe of the time. 

Our hero is determined to free the worlds enslaved by the Magus, destroy his “Church” and slay the Magus himself … even if it means that he (Adam) will die as well. 

AutolycusAfter his clash with Warlock last time around the Magus has alerted his empire’s starships to be on the lookout for any sign of our hero. The first vessel to come across Adam is the spaceship called The Great Divide, commanded by the blue-skinned Captain Autolycus of the Black Knights of the Church (more on them shortly).

Warlock can tell the ship is a Church craft because of the insignia on its hull: the main church symbol (the high-tech cross-ankh that Adam was crucified on back on Counter-Earth) as well as cocoons, lightning bolts and assorted bee-hives. All of them connected to Warlock’s strange existence thus far and therefore tantalizing reminders that he and the Magus are one and the same being somehow.  

Adam is powerful enough to single-handedly take on an entire starship and the battle is on. Unfortunately our hero loses the dogfight, is knocked out by blasts from the spacecraft and is hauled in as a prisoner.   Continue reading

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ADAM WARLOCK, THANOS, GAMORA AND DRAX

Magus 1Balladeer’s Blog takes a look at the turning point story for Adam Warlock, a Marvel Comics character … and therefore probably destined to become a pop culture demi-god like almost every other Marvel figure thrown at the screen. (He was already an Easter Egg in their Cinematic Universe)

Marvel Comics characters, their film rights spread across multiple studios, have been at the center of seemingly countless movies in recent decades as well as plenty of television shows, both broadcast and cable. Flops like Howard the Duck and Ben Affleck’s Daredevil are cultural touchstones for cinematic failure. Marvel’s vampire slayer Blade, introduced in the 1970s, succeeded in three motion pictures AND a television series long before the Black Panther was adapted for the screen.

The X-Men, Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and others have appeared in multiple films. Even less popular Marvel figures like the Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man have been money-makers. Hell, even Groot, originally introduced as a rampaging monster in NINETEEN SIXTY has become nearly iconic despite having the most limited vocabulary this side of “Hulk will smash!”

(Yes, Groot – like Fin Fang Foom, Patsy Walker and the zombie Simon Garth – came even before the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man!).  

All of which is my roundabout way of getting back to ADAM WARLOCK, another lesser-known Marvel character who will probably become a household name before you know it. Adam had the very FIRST encounter with GAMORA. He fought THANOS in multiple storylines dating back to the 1970s, sometimes alongside DRAX and THE AVENGERS. Continue reading

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JUSTICE SOCIETY 24: ALIEN INVASION

Mister TerrificBalladeer’s Blog’s examination of the Justice Society’s World War Two-era stories continues. FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE 

I will review the original issue and then detail how I would “script-doctor” the story for modern audiences.

All Star 26ALL STAR COMICS #26 (Fall 1945)

Title: MYSTERY OF THE METAL MENACE

Heroes: FLASH (Original), JOHNNY THUNDER, THE ATOM (Original), DOCTOR MIDNITE, WONDER WOMAN (Original), GREEN LANTERN (Original), HAWKMAN (Original)

Villains: THE METAL BEINGS OF JUPITER 

flashSynopsis: The Justice Society members are assembled at their Philadelphia headquarters because of the disappearance of scientist Herbert Crawford. Crawford had fallen into disrepute recently over his claims that a spaceship from Jupiter was headed for the Earth with hostile intentions.

Around the world that spacecraft is spotted as it distributes beings of living metal which proceed to run amok. The JSA battle the Metal Men as they not only devour all manner of precious metals like gold and silver but also eat iron railroad lines, copper out of telephone cables and so on.   Continue reading

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JUSTICE SOCIETY 23: THE FORGOTTEN CRIME

HawkgirlBalladeer’s Blog’s examination of the Justice Society’s World War Two-era stories continues. FOR PART ONE CLICK HERE 

I will review the original issue and then detail how I would “script-doctor” the story for modern audiences.

All Star 25ALL STAR COMICS #25 (Summer 1945)

Title: THE FORGOTTEN CRIME

Heroes: FLASH (Original), DOCTOR MIDNITE, GREEN LANTERN (Original), WONDER WOMAN (Original), JOHNNY THUNDER, THE ATOM (Original), HAWKMAN (Original)

Villains: THE HOODED MAN, BIG HUNK ADAMS AND HENGAST KIMBALL THE OIL BARON

WildcatSynopsis: At their Philadelphia headquarters the Justice Society of America encounter an amnesiac man who insists he somehow knows that Rob Victor, a man convicted of murdering wealthy Timothy Kimball years earlier, is really innocent.

The JSA members look into this and are secretly followed by a Hooded Man who often seems to be interfering with their investigation of this old crime involving one of America’s wealthiest families.

Crimelord Big Hunk Adams and his gang try to thwart the Justice Society as well. Adams’ involvement thoroughly baffles the Justice Society members. Continue reading

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