This month, Rand Bellavia takes a look at his growing longbox, and reflects on comics released in June in 1979, 1984, 1989, 1994, 1999, 2004, 2009, and 2014! Rand Bellavia is back to share his fond memories of decades of comic collecting and reading in this month’s Random Access Memory.


June 1979

Avengers 187

So Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, whose real names are Wanda and Pietro, meet their “real” father, whose (as far as I know, only) name is Django Maximoff.  Django calls Wanda and Pietro by their “real” names, Ana and Mateo.  He’s wrong about that.  And, as it turns out later, he isn’t their real (or even “real”) father.  Oh yeah, and Wanda is possessed by an elder god, whose real name is Chthon.*

*How to Know You are the Villain of the Story 1:  Your name has four consonants in a row.

Immediately before having a heart attack, Django reveals that the wooden doll of Wanda he’s been carrying in his breast pocket for nearly 20 issues has become animated and given the power of speech.

As luck would have it, Quicksilver’s thoughts pick up Django’s exposition right where he left off, giving us an entirely reasonable BAS (Bronze Age Science) explanation for how this all came to be.

Lacking other options, Pietro grabs his sister’s soul and points it at Chthon.

If you hold hands and think clean thoughts, you too can defeat an elder god.  The lack of cynicism on display here is admirable. This sort of prescriptive storytelling is what superhero stories are made for.

The Avengers’ combined will/souls/love causes the Wanda doll and the Chthon Wanda to swap places.  Then Pietro (quick like a bunny) hurls the Chthon doll onto Mount Wundagore, and the Wanda Wanda hexes a massive rock slide onto the unsuspecting piece of wood.**

**How to Know You are the Villain of the Story 2:  When confronted with your imminent demise, your last word is a prolonged shouting of your own name.  Extra points if you hold out the only vowel and fail to enunciate the final consonant.

Comics I Read From June 1979

  • Captain America 237
  • Cerebus 10
  • Iron Man 126
  • Uncanny X-Men 125

June 1984

Saga of the Swamp Thing 28

Anyone out there watching the new Swamp Thing show on DC Universe?  Against all odds, they found a way to film Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol run, and it looks like they’re going to try to film Alan Moore’s seminal Swamp Thing run.  Exhibit A:  Here’s the promo image they’re running for the second episode:

I’m sure you all know this by now, but it looks like Swamp Thing has already been cancelled.  I’m writing this in the past, so while you folks in the future have known about this for a few weeks, for me it just happened in the time between when I wrote that last paragraph and this one.  They can’t take the comic away from us, though.

This is one of two issues from Moore’s run that was illustrated by Shawn McManus, who is probably most known for illustrating Sandman’s A Game of You arc.  The art is fantastic, if you can get past the notion that it is much more cartoony than the Bissette/Totleben issues that surround it.

“The Burial” functions as a coda to “The Anatomy Lesson” as well as a recap of Swamp Thing original origin story — though, because this is Alan Moore, the recap is much more clever and organic than it needs to be.

Of course Holland doesn’t wake up in time, and Swamp Thing has to watch him die horribly.  Holland falls into the Swamp, and the Swamp Thing emerges (which is kind of how he got his name).  But this “new” Swamp Thing from the past is somehow aware of the “old” Swamp Thing in the present.  (Neither are aware of the Swamp Thing television show from the future, that was cancelled in the past, but that I’m just finding out about here in the present.)

Past Swamp Thing silently points to the swamp water from which he emerged, and disappears.  Having learned that he is not Alec Holland, Present Swamp Thing knows what to do.

It’s a nice touch that Past and Present Swamp Thing work together to honor the man that they once thought they were.

 

Comics I Read From June 1984

  • Alpha Flight 14
  • Avengers 247
  • Cerebus 63
  • Coyote 7
  • Daredevil 211
  • Defenders 135
  • Dreadstar 12
  • Ka-Zar 34
  • Machine Man 1
  • Mage 3
  • Marvel Fanfare 16
  • Marvel Super-Hero Secret Wars 6
  • Marvel Team-Up 145, Annual 7
  • Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 94
  • Six from Sirius 1
  • Super Powers 3
  • Thriller 10
  • Uncanny X-Men 185
  • Vigilante 10
  • West Coast Avengers 2
  • Zot 4

June 1989

Animal Man 14

If you don’t already know, Not Very Brightly Colored Man, who appears mysteriously throughout Grant Morrison’s Animal Man run — with no seeming connection to the story or other characters — turns out to be Grant Morrison.  These pages are really fun to reread, but they were pretty strange the first time through.

Honestly, I don’t recall my reaction to this page at the time — I probably just skipped over it, assuming (correctly, as it turned out) that it would eventually make sense.

Meanwhile, Animal Man’s son plays with a ouija board (clearly marked for your protection).

And his daughter knows all about Stranger Danger.

As Ellen is telling Buddy about Maxine’s encounter, they both see the same man standing outside their house.  Buddy confronts him.

Buddy learns nothing.  But we see a familiar series of numbers.

 

All of this makes perfect much later in the story, when Buddy “borrows” a time machine and haunts his past life.  (And I, for one, would love to see a team-up book with Past Swamp Thing and Future Animal Man.)

All right.  If you must know, 9/27 is the date of a tragic event that Future Buddy was hoping to prevent.

Doom Patrol 25

Shortly after beginning his run on Doom Patrol, Grant Morrison published an essay in the letters column that mentioned that he planned to make extensive use of his dream journal while writing the book.  Something tells me that this is one of those pages.

 

Also, when people talk about how Grant Morrison is just weird for weirdness sake, this is probably the sort of page they’re talking about.  I unabashedly love all things Grant Morrison, so don’t necessarily agree with them, but I’m not going to pretend that I have no idea what they might possibly be talking about. 

Other Comics I Read from June 1989

  • Animal Man 13
  • Badger 52, 53
  • Badger Goes Berzerk 2
  • Cerebus 123
  • Dr. Fate 8
  • Doom Patrol 24
  • Dreadstar 47
  • Green Arrow Annual 2
  • Havok/Wolverine: Meltdown 3
  • Hawkworld 1
  • Hellblazer 21
  • Incredible Hulk 360
  • Question 28
  • Sandman 7, 8
  • Sinners
  • Skreemer 3
  • Whisper 29
  • Yummy Fur 16

June 1994 

Alice Cooper: The Last Temptation 1

This comic tie-in (written by Neil Gaiman and co-plotted with Alice Cooper) was first released as a free comic packaged with the initial pressing of Cooper’s Last Temptation CD.  It was the first release of what was meant to be a mighty new Marvel Music imprint, that never really amounted to much.  (There was a very cool KRS-One comic/cassette package with story and art by Kyle Baker, but I don’t recall anything else.)

Two more issues were eventually released and the series has been collected many many times, with an alarming amount of coloring options.  This issue has been released with the work of three different colorists, and was once even collected in black and white.

Here’s the first page, as colored by John Kalisz.

Issues two and three were colored by Bernie Mireault, so he recolored the first issue for the initial collection, presumably so the hues matches throughout the book.  Note the completely different palette in play.

Finally, here we have the “remastered” coloring of the current digital version, by David Curiel.

As you can see, this brings a whole new meaning to the word “remastering,” as it looks nothing like John Kalisz’ original work, and even less like Bernie Mireault’s recoloring.

It should also be noted that while Curiel’s page is a digitization, Mirealt’s page is a photocopy from the original collection (so not as good image quality as the digitization), and Kalisz’s page is a photocopy from the original comic (which had a more porous paper quality, so didn’t photocopy as well).

Now let’s take a look at one of the issues’ double page spreads.

Here we have Kalisz’s work:

Bernie Mireault’s take is pretty different:

Mirealt’s colors seems less real.  There’s no clear light source and the single red tone, while striking, seems out of place in such a dark environment.

Curiel’s work on these pages seems much more like a remastering, as you can see traces of both Kalisz and Mireault’s work.

The light work (light source from behind the figure and the stage spotlight) is taken directly from Kalisz’s pages, but the darkness on the lower right (where the rats are) seems more in line with Mireault’s version.

Coloring matters, people.

Comics I Read from June 1994

  • Amazing Spider-Man 392
  • Animal Man 74
  • Books of Magic 3
  • Break the Chain
  • Cerebus 183
  • Demon 50
  • Flash 93
  • Hellblazer 80
  • Hellboy: Seeds of Destruction 4
  • Hellstorm: Prince of Lies 17
  • Incredible Hulk 420, Annual 20
  • Madman Comics 2
  • Maxx 9
  • Sandman 62
  • Shade the Changing Man 50
  • Swamp Thing 145
  • Vertigo Voices: Dr. Occult 1
  • Violator 2
  • White Like She 2

June 1999

Preacher 52

Glenn Fabry’s original cover for this issue “didn’t work out.”  Not sure if that means he didn’t like it or it was damaged or what, but the cover you’re looking at was produced by Fabry in an absurdly short period of time.  It’s certainly looser than his other Preacher covers, but it still works.

The issue tells a story from Tulip and Amy’s past.  While attending their first college party, Tulip begins to suspect that someone put something into Amy’s drink.

When Tulip returns, she finds Amy unconscious in a room with four guys preparing to assault her.  She gets a gun from her truck.

Guns are dangerous and fun and scary and exciting and horrible and wonderful and they can kill your father or save your best friend.

Garth Ennis isn’t trying to win an argument here.  He’s simply presenting the emotional reality of two characters he loves, and giving us one of the most honest conversations about guns I have ever read.

Other Comics I Read from June 1999

  • 100 Bullets 1
  • Authority 4
  • Avengers 19
  • Avengers Forever 9
  • Batman 568
  • Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight 120
  • Batman: Shadow of the Bat 88
  • Captain America 20
  • Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty 12
  • Cruel and Unusual 3
  • DC One Million 80 Page Giant 1
  • Detective Comics 735
  • Flash 151
  • Flinch 3
  • Hellblazer 140
  • Hitman 40
  • Hourman 5
  • Invisibles 8
  • JLA 32
  • JSA 1
  • Kurt Busiek’s Astro City 18
  • Louis Reil 1
  • Madman Comics 14
  • Mage: The Hero Defined 13
  • Plastic Man Special 1
  • Promethea 1
  • Scene of the Crime 4
  • Starman 56
  • Superman Adventures 34
  • Tom Strong 3
  • Transmetropolitan 24

June 2004

Ex Machina 1

Over a decade later I’m not sure how I feel about how Ex Machina ended, but it came out of the blocks in an engaging manner.  Like most of Brian K. Vaughan’s work, the concepts are unique, the plot and characters are solid, and the dialog is fantastic.  If you think you’d enjoy the West Wing with magical realism, here’s your new favorite comic.

We open on Mitchell Hundred, the Mayor of New York, who is about to be assassinated.

Taking a page from Preacher, Hundred has the ability to “speak” to machinery.  (Luckily, guns speak American English.)  In the ensuing confusion, Hundred’s bodyguard whisks him into a waiting limo and off they go.

After flashing all the way back to Hundred’s origin story, we see him in the more recent past, as New York’s first real-life super-hero:

We learn that since becoming Mayor, Hundred has given up the life of a costumed hero, but not everyone associated with his super-heroic past has accepted that.

And we learn the easiest way to get elected Mayor of New York in 2002.

 

Other Comics I Read from June 2004

  • 100 Bullets 50
  • Adventures of Superman 629
  • Astonishing X-Men 2
  • Authority: More Kev 2
  • Avengers 84
  • Avengers/Thunderbolts 5
  • Batman: Death and the Maidens 9
  • Catwoman 32
  • Daredevil 61
  • Fantastic Four 514, 515
  • Flash 211
  • Global Frequency 12
  • Goon 7
  • Gotham Central 20
  • Hellblazer 197
  • Human Target 11
  • Identity Crisis 1
  • Incredible Hulk 73
  • Invincible 14
  • JSA 62
  • Losers 13
  • Lucifer 51
  • Marvel Knights Spider-Man 3
  • Plastic Man 7
  • Punisher 7, 8
  • Runaways 16
  • Scratch 1
  • Seaguy 2
  • She-Hulk 4
  • Sleeper Season Two 1
  • Spider-Man/Dr. Octopus: Year One 1, 2
  • Superman: Birthright 11
  • Swamp Thing 4
  • Teen Titans 12
  • Thor 80, 81
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four 7, 8
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 60, 61
  • Walking Dead 9
  • Wanted 4
  • Wolverine 16
  • Wolverine/Punisher 4
  • Wonder Woman 205
  • X-Statix 24
  • Y: The Last Man 23

June 2009

Chew 1

Rarely have art style, story, and narrative voice come together so perfectly in comics as they do in John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew.

That’s a pretty crazy — and pretty wonderful — hook for a story.  But this is only the tiniest tip of the insane idea iceberg.

The idea here is that Tony can solve any murder simply by eating a part of the victim and observing what happened to them. Kind of like the plot of Pushing Daisies but a lot more gross.

Just as Tony’s about to get fired, we meet Savoy, a man of substantial stature, girth, appetites, and vocabulary:

Yes, the FDA.  Did I mention that a big part of Tony’s job is tracking down folks buying and selling black market chicken?  (Did I mention that chicken is illegal because of bird flu?  Did I mention that Tony’s brother is a celebrity chef who buys a lot of black market chicken?)

Other Comics I Read from June 2009

  • Action Comics 878, Annual 12
  • Astonishing Tales 5
  • Astonishing X-Men 30
  • Astro City: Dark Ages Book Three 2
  • Avengers: Initiative 25
  • Batman and Robin 1
  • Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter 1
  • Captain America 600
  • Daredevil 119
  • Dark Avengers 5, 6
  • Dark Avengers/Uncanny X-Men: Utopia 1
  • Dark Reign: Fantastic Four 4
  • Dark Reign: Hawkeye 3
  • Dark Reign: Mr. Negative 1
  • Destroyer 3
  • Detective Comics 854
  • DMZ 42
  • Ex Machina 43
  • Fantastic Four 567, 568
  • Flash: Rebirth 3
  • Green Lantern 42
  • Green Lantern Corps 37
  • Hellblazer 256
  • Incredible Hercules 130
  • Invincible 63
  • Invincible Iron Man 14
  • Marvel Zombies 4 3
  • Mighty 5
  • Mighty Avengers 26
  • New Avengers 54
  • Northlanders 18
  • Outsiders 19
  • Phonogram: the Singles Club 3
  • Red Mass for Mars 3
  • Scalped 30
  • Seaguy: Slaves of Mickey Eye 3
  • Seceret Warriors 5
  • Skaar: Son of Hulk 11, 12
  • Thor 602. Trial of Thor
  • Thunderbolts 133
  • Ultimatum 4
  • Ultimates: Spider Man: Requiem 1
  • Uncanny X-Men 511, 512
  • Unknown Soldier 9
  • Walking Dead 62
  • War Machine 7
  • Wolverine 74
  • Wolverine: Weapon X 3
  • X-Factor 44, 45

June 2014

Ms. Marvel 5

Ms. Marvel was a joy from issue one, page one, but this conversation between Kamala and her father was when I knew I was in love.

This sort of Peter Parker/Aunt May conversation is ground that Marvel has gone over many times, but G. Willow Wilson manages to find a lot of fertile soil.  This father’s ability to honestly speak his fears to his daughter is shocking.  And demonstrates the trust that he has in — and the respect that he has for — her.

The success of this comic created a lot of talk about representation in comics, and while I don’t expect to see anyone at a convention sporting Abu cosplay, a kind and loving Muslim father is a welcome addition to the Marvel Universe.

But he’s still a father.

And if you thought that this confrontation didn’t go the way you expected, wait until Kamala speaks with Shiekh Abdullah.

Other Comics I Read from June 2014

  • Action Comics 32
  • Adventures of Superman 14
  • All-New Doop 3
  • All-New X-Factor 9
  • American Vampire: Second Cycle 4
  • Archer and Armstrong 21
  • Avengers 31
  • Batman 32
  • Batman and Robin 32
  • Batman/Superman 12
  • Bloodshot and HARD Corps 23
  • Black Widow 7
  • Brain Boy: The Men from G.E.S.T.A.L.T. 2
  • Captain Marvel 4
  • Chew 42
  • Cyclops 2
  • Daredevil 4
  • Deadly Class 6
  • Dream Police 2, 3
  • Edgar Allen Poe’s Morella and the Murders in the Rue Morgue
  • Fatale 23
  • Five Weapons 9
  • Goon: One for the Road
  • Great Pacific 15
  • Green Arrow 32
  • Hulk 4
  • Invincible 112
  • Iron Man 27, 28
  • Iron Patriot 4
  • Justice League 31
  • Manhattan Projects 21
  • Minimum Wage 6
  • Moon Knight 4
  • MPH 2
  • New Avengers 19, 20
  • One Hit Wonder 3
  • Original Sin 3, 3.1, 4
  • Outcast 1
  • Punisher 6
  • Revenge 4
  • Revival 21
  • Saga 20
  • Secret Avengers 4
  • Sex Criminals 6
  • Shadowman: End Times 3
  • She-Hulk 5
  • Shutter 3
  • Starlight 4
  • Superior Foes of Spider-Man 12
  • Superman 32
  • Superman/Wonder Woman 9
  • Thor: God of Thunder 23
  • Trees 2
  • United States of Murder Inc. 2
  • Unity 8
  • Walking Dead 128
  • Wildfire 1
  • Wonder Woman 32

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About Author

Rand Bellavia is half of the Filk Pop Nerd Rock band Ookla the Mok. They’ve been playing at science fiction and comic book conventions since 1994. Their clever, media-savvy lyrics, catchy melodies, and accessible power-pop sound have made them a cult-sensation with nerds everywhere. With song titles like Super Powers, Welcome to the Con, Arthur Curry, Kang the Conqueror, and Stop Talking About Comic Books or I’ll Kill You, it’s easy to see why. Rand and Ookla the Mok have won four Pegasus Awards, and the 2014 Logan Award for Outstanding Original Comedy Song. Ookla the Mok had the most requested song on Dr. Demento in 2012 (“Tantric Yoda”) and 2013 (“Mwahaha”). Rand co-wrote the theme song for the Disney cartoon Fillmore, and his vocals are the first thing you hear on Gym Class Heroes’ Top Five hit “Cupid’s Chokehold.” In his secret identity, Rand is the Director of the Montante Library at D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York. He has lectured and presented at international conferences on the subject of comics and libraries. Rand is like the Internet, except he smells nice.

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