Sunday, August 17, 2014

Marvel Team Up 146: Spidey Meets Nomad

cover to MTU #146. 1984

I didn't really appreciate Marvel Team-Up during its original run. Then again, I was just starting to read and collect comic books at the time. I did collect Web of Spider-man, Amazing Spider-man and Spectacular Spider-man back in the 80s when I was reading Spider-man fairly regularly but I thought Marvel Team up was not one of the core books and one I could skip.

Flash forward 30 or so years and I pick up issues of Marvel Team up every time I can. For anybody not familiar with Marvel Team-Up, the comic features Spider-Man teaming up with a different Marvel universe hero every issue. I am not sure why the book isn't called "Spidey Team up" or something like that, but be that as it may, it's usually an entertaining read. 

This book comes from the Jim Shooter era of Marvel when he was editing the Marvel books, (roughly 1979-87) an era I remember fondly and I may romanticize due to it coinciding with my formative years of comic book reading.

Just look at that cover! Who could resist picking this book up and finding out who is doing this to Spidey and what the Taskmaster is up to in the story. Unlike most comic book covers, this scene actually occurs withing the book's covers. Cary Burkett's story is pretty good this ish, despite the fact that there is a glaring plot hole. I won't give away the plot but basically taskmaster and a weird but powerful villain named the Black Abbott are recruiting neighborhood gangs for purposes and schemes which are not clearly stated in the story.

Holistically, the entire story is well told bookmarked by the moral transformation of a minor character. There's plenty of action too as Spidey and Nomad (who was Captain American and originally created by Gil Kane, though the identity of Nomad by the time this ish came out was adopted by Cap's partner Bucky) team up to take down the Taskmaster and his client and foil their plans.

Spidey at this point was wearing his post Secret Wars and pre-Venom symbiote black costume and it is always fun to see the symbiote crawling in and out of Peter Parker's body. Artist Greg Larocque does a great job of depicting this and the rest of this comic so I have no complaints about his artwork. 

My gripe is with the plot hole and it's a big one, one segment of the battle has Taskmaster hurling a sonic arrow at Spider-man. As fans of the webcrawler know and as detailed in Web of Spider-man #1 and other books, the sonic attack should have affected the symbiote and Spidey would have been left naked in the middle of the battle! However, this does not happen so it's possible that Brukett was not aware of this drawback from the suit at the time this comic came out. The editors in the Spidey offices failed to catch this.

The rest of the story is OK. I would probably give it 3 out of 5 stars for its entertainment value and that gorgeous cover.

More information:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

DC's Super Powers Mini Series still Holds Up After 30 years

Hello, after almost a year absence, I am bringing the epic loot blog back to life.
Like a phoenix resurrected, this is the one corner of the internet where I look at the comic book gems you can find cheap, if you dare to look.

I am revisiting the DC Super Powers mini series this week because I found a lot of the issues while scouring the back issue bins at the magic warehouse last time I visited.

I picked the comics up right away, knowing both their historical value and their editorial value as well.

I am not going to rehash the significance of this series to both DC and Marvel here, as I am sure there are plenty of sites on the web where you can find that information. To differentiate, this is the first series (3 were produced to coincide with the line of toys made by Kenner) but this is the 1984 original.

Instead of rehashing it's historical significance, I want to look at the series from the point of view of the fanboy and the comic book enthusiast. I started reading comics around this time and my memories are still fresh of this booming period which led to Marvel's "Secret Wars" series later this year.

First off, the interesting thing to note here is that Jack Kirby is credited with the plot. Kirby's style is all over the book and he adorns the first cover which in comparison to other Kirby penciled masterpieces, looks a bit underwhelming.

Joey Cavalieri's script is serviceable if not standard comic book fare. It is cool to see Darkseid's galactic minions take off and recruit Earth's villains, as they give cosmic powers to each villain individually. The plot isn't staggering or Earth shattering, but it serves to set up the story, nothing more, with the big bang ups and heavy action coming in later installments of the book.

What's of interest to most comic book aficionados is Kirby's stamp on the book, from the look of Darkseid's champions to his frenetic style of composition, to the use of his New Gods characters, it is interesting to note the king's influence all over the proceedings. He would go on to pencil later versions of the Super Powers comic books.

Of course, the nostalgia factor is ramped up to 11 with ads found within the book's pages touting DC's coming line that year with titles like Blue Devil and the excellent All Star Squadron by Roy Thomas, Rick Hoberg and Bill Collins, and an ad for Atari's Moon Patrol game occupying the inside back cover slot.

This comic is pure 80's gold at 75 cents cover price. Can't wait to read the rest of the series.

Addtional info:

uploaded to Youtube courtesy of Mai Le

Sunday, June 30, 2013

And Now For the Forgotten Realms

Forgotten Realms No. 17 by DC Comics
Apologies for my long period without updates. Actually work has been relentless of late, but I have managed to read a bit during my free time. I am still in my D&D binge.

When I was a boy I bought almost all the first edition books printed by TSR. 4th edition D&D is more of a tactical battle game played with minis, but I do long for the days spent around the table with my junior high school pals as we played through campaigns of 1st edition.

Well, I have also been tracking D&D comic books. Recently I picked up issues 17-19 of DC's books based on Forgotten Realms. For today's send-me back Sunday I will briefly discuss these precious comics. Boy are they fun!

The protagonist is Priam Agrivar, he is your typical fighter dude, a paladin who fits into the stock character type, hot headed, reigning blows first, tanking all the way, asking questions later. The antagonist is Lord Labelas, a powerful being who apparently has possessed another character, one of good alignment named Vartan. Labelas is a fun villain, he is a god and seems evil or chaotic. It is fun to see him deal with his internal struggel as Vartan is friends with Agrivar and the other characters in the book. There is a ship called the Realms Master which transports the characters from one magical fantasy realm to another.

The cover to issue 17 is very revealing. It is the striking image of Labelas as a puppeteer with the other character rendered as puppets while the evil god tugs at their strings.

This issue culminates with a fantastic battle between Labelas, Minder (a dude who appears to be made of stone) and Agrivar. These stories spring out of the imagination of writer Jeff Grubb, and artist Dave Simons. They are vintage D&D, from the setting of the Forgotten Realms, to the strange creatures the adventurers fight, to the standard D&D races, half-lings, wizards, elves. This one has all the fantasy tropes familiar to most readers, but with a D&D flavor. Fantastic!!!

Issue 19 is titled "Picking up the Pieces" and features a story detailing with the aftermath of Labelas' fight with the adventurers from the previous two issues. There is a guest penciler rendering the heroes, it's Rag Morales, the celebrated comics artist who went on to draw many other memorable DC series. He does a superb job on this comic as well. As a gamer I remember how happy I was reading comics based on characters form "World of Warcraft." I get the same vibe and feelings from reading these classic D&D comics, except it's more old school, and even the wizard spells like magic missile and other familiar D&D elements are incorporated well into the story.

I am going to track down more of these books and read them. I suggest you guys do too, especially if you like fantasy. 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pathfinder No.1 A Rare Gem

Pathfinder No. 1 Aug.2012 cover by Erik Jones

There is no question about it: Dynamite's Pathfinder #1 is definitely intended as a vehicle to mobilize readers toward purchasing and playing the immensely popular table-top RPG by Paizo based on D&D 3.5 rules.

For today's "Throwback Tuesday" we take a look at this intriguing comic which came in multiple cover flavors. The one at right is one of my favorites and also the one I purchased at the back-issue bin. While it's kind of a stretch to call a comic book that is not even a year old a throwback, it does semantically qualify and since I have been in an RPG frame of mind of late, why the heck not??

It was nearly $4 cover price when new and if you paid that for it then you did get a lot of bang for your buck including an entire section of the "Pathfinder Chronicles" which details the setting of Sandpoint, the rustic and prosperous town in which the story is set in. There are some adventure hooks including a setting based on Junk Beach and a nifty one page map detailing all of the setting's places of interest.

It's also cool that the characters in the comic book's story, Seoni the female human sorcerer, Valeros the male human fighter, Ezren the middle-aged human wizard and Merisiel the female elf rogue, are given descriptions in the book along with their backstory and stats, which can easily be transplanted and used by a GM to a table top campaign, which is of course, what Paizo was banking on with this comic book, to drum up more interest for the game.

In spite of this, the story found between the book's cover is pretty darned fun to read. It's pure D&D fantasy stuff of course, a group of adventurers walk into town and are recruited to an adventure dealing with a group of overpowered goblins. Nothing out of the norm here, but there are shades and nuances to the characters within the fantasy tropes. Seoni is the leader of the group "an exotically beautiful Varisian who keeps her emotions tightly bottled and her schemes secret." That's a good way to describe her as there is a maternal aspect to her as well. "I'll keep an eye on the children" she tells the Wizard before a night of reveling and bar brawling at the inn before they head off on an adventure. Ah, there's always an inn in every fantasy adventure is there not?

The comic is beautifully rendered and colored by the artistic chops of Andrew Huerta and Ross Campbell. A good addition to any fantasy lover's collection.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Welcome to Epic Bin. Come back often!

Welcome to Epic Bin Loot. This blog is all about finding the hidden treasures in the bins at the comic book store, a practice dear and near to every comic book reader's heart.

I have a secret location which I visit at least once a month to dig up older comics and books that have been relegated to the discounted bins and boxes.

Once upon a time, I collected comic books and they were fun, and life was good. However, over the course of time life and obligations have intruded into my favorite hobby and thus I was forced to stop collecting or reading comic books.

I love comics, always will but I feel that the reason I stopped collecting them were as follows:

1. They got too expensive. In the case of Marvel Comics, for example, premium titles like Iron Man and Spider-Man go for almost $4 per title. Yikes! When I started collecting comics, many moons ago, they were 60 cents per book. Granted, the quality in pages and production has increased, but I cannot justify blowing $4 or $5 on a book especially when the economy blows and that much will give me a tank of gas. Maybe if the books were good...which brings me to....

2. Today's comics are too predictable or unoriginal in comparison to days gone by. I know this is a highly subjective assessment, you can feel free to disagree with me, but I find that I love the books from yesteryear more than today's which lack originality or are often a vehicle for other mediums like TV shows or movies (You feel me Robert Kirkman?) I mean really do we really need to have 10 Avengers titles now Marvel??

3. It's fun to look and buy comics which I don't normally buy, or even know about, to this end this blog spotlights the quirky and the unusual that can often only be found in the cheap bins! Just because it's cheap doesn't mean it ain't any good. Trust me on this one!

So pull up a chair and come back soon, I will be detailing some of the best nuggets in the comic book world in the days to come, or at least some of the best in the quarter bins. I promise it will be a fun read!!