The Clash at the Stash

Hey, we’re back, and just in time to help you celebrate your love….for comics!  Happy Valentine’s Day.

You missed us, right? 

We are jazzed to be headlining AMC’s awesome unscripted TV lineup on Thursday nights, though I gotta be honest–I miss our pals The Walking Dead and The Talking Dead.  

First off, let me state for the record that Nate “Rock” Quarry is one of the most interesting and genuine people you’ll ever meet.  His back story is amazing. His strict religious upbringing kept him from enjoying practically anything in life.  The amount of courage it took for him to break away from such ingrained beliefs is astounding.  

At the age of 24, with no sports or fighting background, he decided that he wanted to be a mixed martial arts fighter.  From what he told me, the training was brutal and painful and the first two years the only thing he really learned was how to get his ass kicked.

With perseverance and extreme dedication he went on to become one of the UFC’s top fighters.  And, he carved out a life for himself and his daughter.  It was truly an honor to meet and get to know Nate.

Now on to the swag!

Ming certainly took a shine to our third grade teacher but what Walt truly liked was the Juggernaut statue.  Sculpted by Randy Bowen and the Shiflett Brothers, this enormous piece originally retailed for $200 and was limited to 2,500 pieces.  

A little bit of backstory about the Juggernaut. He was indeed the stepbrother of Professor Charles Xavier and bullied Charles relentlessly during their childhood. 

Cain Marco (Juggernaut’s real name) would go on to fight in the Korean war alongside his stepbrother.  It was there that he and Charles found a cave that housed the ruby of Cyttorak–a mystical gemstone which granted immense physical power to whomever touched it.  Cain overpowered Charles in his lust for the gem’s power, and Juggernaut was born.  

Unfortunately for him, he was trapped in that mountain thanks to a good bit of North Korean shelling and was stranded there for a decade.  Eventually, he dug his way out.  

Embittered against Xavier for what he took for abandonment, he sought out Professor X and his X-Men, hell-bent on revenge.  It was a nice piece and Walt got it for a good price.

Second up is the Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76.  This book was groundbreaking for more than one reason.  First, it teamed Denny O’Neill with rising superstar artist Neal Adams.  O’Neill would go on to not only write but edit the entire Batman family of books.  He was also responsible for orchestrating the fan-based decision of whether or not DC Comics would kill off Jason Todd (Robin #2).

Neal Adams’ legendary career continues to this day, with noteworthy accomplishments such as: Batman Odyssey; a run on X-Men that introduced Cyclops’ brother, Havok (Alex Summers); and Batman Brave and the Bold.  

Secondly, it gave DC a moral conscience as far as their characters go.  Before this, Marvel Comics was the go-to company for social relevance in their stories.  In this issue specifically, O’Neill and Adams ratcheted up the drama, bringing together the cosmic crusader Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and the street-level hero, Green Arrow (Oliver Queen).  

Oliver opens Hal’s eyes to the consequences of political corruption in our governing system.  Especially its effects on the ‘common’ man.  No conclusions are reached in the book but the reader is forced to confront some pretty uncomfortable issues.

Finally, Nate’s book, Zombie Cage Fighter.  As a comic book fan, I have a certain amount of reservation when it comes to indy comics.  There are a lot of people out there with really compelling stories to tell, but lack the resources to produce truly professional work.  

I am happy to say that Nate’s book is the exception to the rule.  Co-written by Blair Butler, it’s a very good book.  Nate’s story is one that I believe should be told and the fact that it has zombies in it….BONUS!  It’s clever.  It’s touching.  It’s action-packed.  In other words, it has heart. The art also stands out–Starwalt does good work.

And now, about the fight…..I think Kevin got a raw deal.  Maybe Nate can set up a rematch?

That’s it for this week, folks.  Don’t forget to follow Comic Book Men on Twitter @ComicBookMenAMC and on Facebook for the latest news about Comic Book Men and other cool AMCTV news.

And there you go.

My Big Fat Geek Wedding

First off let’s get the obvious out of the way:  Yes, Ming and I lost the bet.  Our punishment, re-enacting Fantastic Four Annual #3, the wedding of Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) and Susan Storm (the Invisible Girl), was not one of Ming or my more glorious moments.  Despite my aggravation and obvious frustration at losing the bet, it actually ended up being a lot of fun.  Ming is one hell of a sport – at least I got to wear pants…

Now, on to the Comics!

In the first transaction, Anthony the cigar store owner brought in five long boxes.  With dreams of fortune and glory in his head he asked for $5,000 for his “treasures”. Unfortunately for Anthony, his comics were bagged, but not boarded or sealed and they REEKED of tobacco from years of storage in the basement of his store.  Let this be a lesson to the new or newly restored collector:  board and bag your comics.  Store them away from direct light, excessive heat or cold, and VERY IMPORTANT, away from tobacco.  Tar and nicotine residue will ruin your comics.

Even though his collection had been rendered mostly worthless due to poor storage conditions, there were a few bright spots:

Invincible Ironman #55.  This book introduced a villain named Thanos, who most recently shot into the spotlight due to the Avengers movie franchise. In fact, Thanos was most often an antagonist of Captain Mar-Vell and Adam Warlock, Thanos only fought the Avengers once or twice in his thirty-odd year history.  When he found himself at odds with the Avengers, it was directly due to one of the aforementioned heroes.

Geek Note #1:  Thanos so respected his worthy opponent, Mar-Vell, that he helped guide Mar-Vell’s spirit into the afterlife after the hero succumbed to cancer.  This may be my favorite scene ever written by Jim Starlin.  You can read it in the graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel.

My other favorite keeper in Anthony’s collection was a stack of Frank Miller’s Daredevil.  Miller started drawing Daredevil with issue #158 and brought what was a second-rate character to prominence as a top-tier Marvel hero.  He re-established him as a guardian of the people, a street-level hero much in the vein of Batman and Green Arrow over at DC comics.  Roger MacKenzie teamed with Miller as the writer.

Geek Note #2:  Kevin Smith wrote best-selling stories starring all three of these characters — heroic in the most classic sense of the term and certainly in spite of their very real, all-too-human baggage.

Next up, Amazing Spider-Man #129.  This is the first appearance of The Punisher.  If you watched last season of Comic Book Men, you will remember that I hate The Punisher as a character.  He crosses the line and stops being a hero the minute he pulls the trigger and kills the bad guy.  It’s not that I don’t sympathize…the mafia rubs out my family, I might have some serious issues with anger management and revenge, too. But you can’t call him a hero, and to call him an anti-hero is also giving him too much credit in my opinion.

However, Punisher is a very popular character, so much so, that at one time he had four, monthly comic titles.  And Walt’s got something when he points out that any guy who can strike terror while wearing white go-go boots has got some serious balls.

The gentleman who bought it was not only a nice guy, but a stereo-type-breaking dude– an art therapist.  Just goes to prove that the medium of comic books has a wider reach than simply guys who frequent The Android’s Dungeon.

Our trip to Bodnar’s Auction saw us bringing back the last of our cool items this epsiode:  X-Men #94, Giant Size X-Men #1, an incomplete Flea Circus game, and a piece of original art from the comic strip, Abbie and Slats, by Raeburn Van Buren.  Too bad the Flea Circus was missing some parts or we would have won the wager and we could all have been treated to Bryan Johnson wearing the virginal white gown.

Even novice collectors understand the importance of Giant Size X-Men #1 — the first international team of mutants under the X-Men aegis.  However, they may not realize that X-Men #94 was the first NON-reprint book in close to three years and that the X-title was on the precipice of being cancelled.

Geek Note #3:  Marvel stopped producing new stories for the X-Men with issue #66 and reprinted older comics as issues #67 – #93.

Finally, a couple of special things that made me smile through my anger when filming the wedding scene.  One, did you notice the ring I slipped on my blushing bride’s finger?  Yes, indeed, that is a Legion flight ring — MY Legion flight ring, in fact.

That bouquet of flowers that Ming tossed out to the cheering crowd as we rode off into the sunset?  That was a copy of X-Men #1 by Jim Lee.  And the guy who caught it?  None other than Jeff Silverman, our own Sunday Jeff.

That wraps it up for now.  I’ll be back with more next week, folks.

And there you go.