I remembered the X-Files comic as covering the Brown Mountain Lights mystery very early in the run. I was wrong. The Brown Mountain Lights were a mystery close to where I grew up in North Carolina. I remembered being really impressed with the issue. Of course, I was a really big fan of The X-Files when this issue was published in 1996. Of course, I studied this issue very intently since I was familiar with the area. I'm going to get into the areas that worked and didn't later on. The appeal for me with this comic was that it was based in the area that I grew up. As a kid, I was infatuated with the paranormal, especially when it was in my figurative back yard. There was the devil's stomping grounds, a ghostly hitchhiker that vanished whenever she got home, and of course, there was the Brown Mountain Lights. I saw them once, but was a little less than impressed.
I’ve been meaning to do this one for a while. First, my pointless boycott of John Byrne’s work got in the way, but now that we’re past that, I think I can review a John Byrne comic that’s out of print. I had actually been hoping for it to be included on DC Universe. They’ve
With a new Legion of Super-Heroes series launching the week that I'm writing this, it seems like a perfect time to revisit one of my favorite Legion stories of all time, Legion Lost. I like it so much that it would be my pick for a Legion film adaptation. I'll come back to that. As the millennium came to a close, Legion of Super-Heroes was in dire need of a new direction. They were referred to as the "Archie Legion" due to the more light-hearted and innocent nature of the stories. Of course, this was stark contrast to the last major new direction for the Legion with the start of the "Five Years Later." This version kept up two series, which probably didn't help in the late 1990s when the tone of comics went darker and grimmer. As the series came to an end, the Legion faced a terrible threat that apparently killed several members.
Erik Larsen went on bender recently posting various covers for ROM: Spaceknight from the 1980s. There were some great covers by artists like Michael Golden, John Byrne, and Bill Sienkiewicz. There was one cover by Frank Miller that was so good, it almost ranks up there as iconic. It's the cover for ROM: Spaceknight #3. Technically, this isn't a comic from the 1980s. It's cover dated February 1980, putting it's release in the holidays of 1979. ROM was marketed as a hi-tech toy for Christmas that year. The comic was meant to be a tie-in. Like most Marvel comic tie-ins of that era, it became something more. Look no further than Micronauts, Dazzler, Star Wars and G.I. Joe for examples of comics that created a following outside of their intentional purpose.
I actually had to look to see if I had already reviewed this issue of Archer & Armstrong. Of all of the original Valiant comics, this one is probably my favorite. It doesn't hurt that it was written and drawn by Barry Windsor-Smith. Early Valiant comics by him are the best of the bunch. I got this because I was diligently following Archer & Armstrong. Eternal Warrior held no interest for me. I felt that he wasn't an interesting character. It seemed like Jim Shooter really had an interest in Gilad, because so much important stuff in Valiant seemed to come from his world. It seems like after Shooter left, the comics went a little more wherever the fans were flocking. Yes, I know its pandering. I'd like to think that the solution isn't just to write what the fans want, but to make a comic better and more interesting along the way. Barry Windsor-Smith made a great comic with Archer & Armstrong, a comic that tied very closely to Eternal Warrior. It tied to it so closely that for the eighth issue, they went double sized to tell a story that involved all of the immortal brothers and counted as an eighth issue for Eternal Warrior as well. On top of it all, it worked in one of the greatest adventure stories in the history of western literature, The Man In The Iron Mask.
There are moments in comics history that simply cannot be believed. Roy Thomas seems to know all of them. He ended up putting half of them into All-Star Squadron. I discovered All-Star Squadron about mid-way through the run. I had to go back and find back issues, which was a little daunting, considering that this was early in my collecting experience. My options for finding back issues were rather limited to a single back-issue comic shop and flea markets. I think that I came across this particular issue a little later, during the comics boom of the early 1990s, when every town had a comic shop, if not several, including sports card stores getting in on the craze. I may have mentioned it in my review of Hansi that There was one in particular that kept me coming back with cheap back issues. It was probably at a shop like this that I got my first copy of this issue, featuring someone calling himself Thor.
Fans my age tend to have a fondness for the hunt and discovery of of back issues in a time before every moderately-sized city had a comic shop. In the part of North Carolina that I grew up in, the big mother-load of back issues were usually flea markets. I would find some gems at the flea market, whether it was the one off the Interstate that coated the family car in dust, or the one just outside of town that had only a few booths. In that last one, the comic seller had a really good selection of back issue Marvel comics. I seem to recall one in particular he had was Avengers #157, which sported a Jack Kirby cover. Of course, at the time. I had no clue who Jack Kirby was. Nevertheless, the cover had all of the Avengers taken out by one foe, and all I could see of him was his boots.
Because I'm drawing a blank on what old comic to read next, let's get back to covering the Legion of Super-Heroes stories that hooked me in the 1980's. When last we left the Legion of this Era, Shadow Lass and Mon-El thwarted Lady Memory on Talok VIII. Five Legionnaires are missing in Limbo and Lightning Lass and Lightning Lord got inadvertently abducted by Zymyr. Like with most of the Baxter series, I read this issue after the fact, probably years after it first came out. I'm also thinking about if I want to stop this around issue twelve, which is about where I took a sabbatical from the Legion. I did that because it was at this point that I couldn't regularly get to a comic shop. I tried to place it where it fell chronologically with Tales of the Legion. While Dream Girl is talking about returning to Earth, Lightning Lass isn't at the group meeting in Tales of the Legion #318. I guess that there was a long sabbatical on Winath at the end of this story.
As I write this, it's a slow news day. I'm already a week ahead on these columns, so it doesn't seem like too much of a stretch to put in yet another one. It seems like forever since I did one of these for an independent comic. Of course, in my mind, Phantom Lady doesn't count. The first thing that came to mind was one of my favorite independent series, Elementals by Bill Willingham, better known for Fables. A lot of what other writers did in the later 1990s and 2000s was done before by Bill Willingham. Do you want a sinister government agency interacting with super-heroes? Willingham did it in Elementals. Do you want super-heroes cursing? Willingham did it in Elementals. Do you want graphic violence in your super-hero comics? Willingham did it in Elementals. Do you want your super-heroes deciding not to act like they're in a comic book? Well, I've got an issue for you.
I had such a good time with my review of Phantom Lady #13 that I decided to review another really old comic. Marvel Unlimited has about 340 comics before 1962 on their service, and one of them happens to be the first appearance of everyone's favorite tree. I'm talking about Groot. This Groot comes from the era of monster comics, where not everything was a Fin Fang Foom or a Groot. Just skimming the list, I've got Monstrollo, Sserpo, Klagg, Moomba, and Kraa. Groot looks to be one of those standard one-issue space monsters wreaking havoc for no apparent reason other than he could. I wanted to see if there was anything in there that resembled the character that we've come to adore.
My fascination with a multiverse hasn't been to the forefront in a while. However, in going back over my coverage of the Multiversity Guidebook, I was really fond of Earth-38. That Earth is based entirely on the series of Elseworlds series Superman & Batman: Generations. The premise of the series is that Superman and Batman debuted in 1939 and aged in real time. Many of their adventures would mirror the stories as they were published. Of course, the fact that the characters and their supporting casts aged meant that some stories wouldn't be the same.
I've wanted to review a Golden Age comic for some time. The problem comes in the fact that during the Golden Age, much of the language of comics, and the techniques that we take for granted were being formed. This was also before the rise of the Comics Code Authority, so creators were trying things out to see what would sell. This is probably where the salacious aspect of Phantom Lady comes into play. Her costume reveals a lot of skin, especially for the 1940s. No doubt this was part of her appeal. Artist Matt Baker was very skilled at designing a cover that emphasized the visual appeal of the character. However, somewhere along the way, her effectiveness as a character came through. She's one of those public domain heroes that always gets noticed, and always has someone bring her back to use, despite DC Comics making use of the character and enforcing their version of the character. Erik Larsen might have been the most recent creator to incorporate her into his comics, but he did so only briefly.