This month, Rand Bellavia takes a look at his growing longbox, and reflects on comics released in July 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.

July 1979

Marvel Premiere 50

Like The Last Temptation — Alice’s collaboration with Neil Gaiman (and his 2nd comic book appearance),  which we looked at last month — this comic is really just a four-color ad for an Alice Cooper album, in this case 1978’s From the Inside.

This is pretty much “Alice in Arkham” (but published by Marvel).  Alice breaks the fourth wall, framing events and characters from his concept album about the period of time he spent drying out in an actual asylum.

He tends to pepper his dialogue with not so hidden references to Alice Cooper song titles.

You probably know “Billion Dollar Babies,” but the last track on his Welcome to My Nightmare album was called “Escape.”

This comIc could have been titled “What If Alice Cooper was The Joker?”

 

Comics I Read From July 1979

  • Avengers 188, Annual 9
  • Captain America 238
  • Incredible Hulk 240
  • Iron Man 127
  • Marvel Team-Up 86
  • Uncanny X-Men 126
  • What If? 17

July 1984

Full disclosure:  This month got the best of me, so the column is shorter than it might have been.  If you must know, I was going to write something about Saga of the Swamp Thing 29 here, but time ran out.  If you have access to that issue, check it out.  It’s super creepy and well-written, and the art is astonishing.

Comics I Read From July 1984

  • Alien Legion 3
  • Alpha Flight 15
  • Amazing Spider-Man 257, 258
  • Avengers 248
  • Captain America 298, 299
  • Cerebus 64
  • Conan the King 25
  • Daredevil 212
  • Defenders 136
  • Dreadstar 13
  • Iron Man Annual 7
  • Kull 6
  • Machine Man 2
  • Marvel Super-Hero Secret Wars 7
  • Marvel Team-Up 146
  • New Teen Titans 2
  • Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 95, Annual 4
  • Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner 2, 3
  • Saga of the Swamp Thing 29
  • Six from Sirius 2
  • Super Powers 4
  • Superman 400
  • Thriller 11
  • Uncanny X-Men 186
  • Vigilante 11
  • West Coast Avengers 3
  • What If? 47
  • Zot 5

July 1989

Hawkworld 2

This is a fantastic reimagining by writer/artist Timothy Truman, but is famously hard to reconcile with Hawkman’s long history.  (See Geoff John’s JSA run for a truly noble attempt.)

Following the events of issue one, we find our (hawk)man looking at some hard time:

Katar shares his exile with two others.  One day he stumbles upon one of them creating a (thematically significant) means of escape.

Katar kills the man and is confronted by the island’s other inhabitant:

This twist feels a bit more obvious to me now, but it really worked for me in 1989.

Conveniently, Katar’s prison buddy is prepared to immediately begin Katar’s Jedi training.

By the end of the issue, the old man is dead, and Katar is ready to use his wings to return to Thanagar and kick some ass, third-act style.

 

Other Comics I Read from July 1989

  • Avengers West Coast 50
  • Badger 54
  • Badger Goes Berzerk 3
  • Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children 2
  • Cerebus 124
  • Dr. Fate 9, Annual 1
  • Dreadstar 48
  • Hellblazer 22
  • Incredible Hulk 361
  • Neat Stuff 14
  • Question 29
  • Skreemer
  • Swamp Thing Annual 5
  • Whisper 30

July 1994

Hellblazer 81

In the previous issue, John tried to help an old friend and was beaten up by her pimp.  In response, he hires two goons to “take care of” the pimp, and we open with them earning their money.

I haven’t been in a fistfight since the fifth grade, but I find myself referring to someone having a “face you’d never get tired of hitting” more than you’d think.

Meanwhile, the walls are closing in on poor John, and he finds himself in the last place you might expect, a Catholic church.

Here, Garth Ennis display a profound understanding of John Constantine:  No matter how noble his intentions — or how correct his politics — might be, he’s still a self-centered prick. This sad, introspective Constantine might be new, but it’s not inconsistent with what we know about John.

The priest foolishly steers the conversation to God Almighty.

That’s the nasty John we know and love:  Full of ego and righteous indignation.  Interestingly, he fails to comprehend (on a conscious level, anyway) that the God he is so angry at is similar to his own previous self-assessment.

Then again, Constantine contains multitudes.

Comics I Read from July 1994

  • Amazing Spider-Man 393
  • Animal Man 75
  • Aquaman 1
  • Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight 64
  • Books of Magic 4
  • Cerebus 184
  • Concrete: Killer Smile 1
  • Demon 51
  • Dreadstar 3
  • Flash 94
  • Ghost Rider Annual 2
  • Hellstorm: Prince of Lies 18
  • Incredible Hulk 421
  • Shade the Changing Man 51
  • Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 14
  • Swamp Thing 146
  • Violator 3
  • White Like She 3

July 1999

Promethea 2

Just taking a quick moment to share that I have it on good authority that after John H. Williams III drew this cover, Alan Moore let him know that Marchosias (the wolf god imaged on the cover) wanted Williams to know that he had improperly illustrated Marchosias, and he was upset about it.  (This was Marchosias who was upset, mind you, not Alan Moore.)

Other Comics I Read from July 1999

  • 100 Bullets 2
  • All-Star Comics 80 Page Giant 1
  • Authority 5
  • Avengers 20
  • Avengers Forever 10
  • Captain America 21
  • Cruel and Unusual 1
  • Finals 1
  • Flash 152
  • Flinch 4
  • Hitman 41
  • Hourman 6
  • Grendel: Devi Child 1
  • Jinx: Torso 5
  • JLA 33
  • JSA 2
  • Madman Comics 15
  • Palookaville 13
  • Planetary 5
  • Preacher 53
  • Superman Adventures 35
  • Tom Strong 4
  • Top Ten 1
  • Transmetropolitan 25

July 2004

Ex Machina 2

This issue opens with the mayor of New York City looking at a painting of Abraham Lincoln with a specific (and rather objectionable) two-syllable word that begins with the letter N written across his face.  After a spirited discussion of public arts funding, the (very white) Mayor asks if the artist is Black.

 

Other Comics I Read from July 2004

  • 100 Bullets 51
  • Adventures of Superman 630
  • Astonishing X-Men 3
  • Avengers 500
  • Avengers/Thunderbolts 6
  • Catwoman 33
  • Daredevil 62
  • DC Comics Presents: Batman 1
  • DC Comics Presents: Green Lantern 1
  • DC Comics Presents: Mystery in Space 1
  • DC: The New Frontier 5
  • Eightball 23
  • Fantastic Four 516
  • Flash 212
  • Gotham Central 21
  • Hellblazer 198
  • Human Target 12
  • Identity Crisis 2
  • Incredible Hulk 74
  • JSA 63
  • Losers 14
  • Lucifer 52
  • Marvel Knights Spider-Man 4
  • Palookaville 17
  • Planetary 20
  • Plastic Man 8
  • Powers 1, 2
  • Pro 1
  • Pulse 4
  • Punisher 9
  • Scratch 2
  • Seaguy 3
  • She-Hulk 5
  • Sleeper Season Two 2
  • Spider-Man/Dr. Octopus: Year One 3
  • Superman: Birthright 12
  • Swamp Thing 5
  • Teen Titans 13
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four 9
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 62
  • Walking Dead 10
  • Wolverine 17
  • Wolverine/Punisher 5
  • Wonder Woman 206
  • X-Statix 25
  • Y: The Last Man 24

July 2009

Batman and Robin 2

Grant Morrison continues his multi-title Batman run, launching Batman and Robin with the three-issue “Batman Reborn.” Frank Quitely’s choreography for Robin’s fight with Kushti (conjoined triplets who are acrobats in the Circus of Strange) is pretty much perfect.

I’m a sucker for the way Quitely works sound effects into the illustrations rather than having them added in later by the letterer.

Quitely then he unleashes some of my favorite Batman action shots of all time.

Of course, this Robin is Bruce Wayne’s son Damian, and Dick Grayson (the original Robin) is filling in for Batman during Bruce’s “death.”

[Deep breath]  During Batman RIP, the Black Glove (aka the Devil) told Bruce that the next time he put on his cowl would be his last time, and that turned out to be during Final Crisis, when Darkseid stuck Bruce with his Omega Beams, which caused everyone to assume Bruce was dead when he’d actually been sent back in time, where he had to battle history itself, regaining his memory while he worked his way back to the future in The Return of Bruce Wayne, fighting as Batcaveman, Batpilgrim, Batpirate, Batcowboy, etc.

At any rate, like most couples, Batman and Robin get into a huge fight the moment they get home.

One of great conceits of this version of Batman and Robin is that we have a dark, angry Robin who is completely over-confident and a light-hearted, happy-go-lucky Batman who is unsure of himself.

Of course, Alfred is here to help, no matter who is wearing the cowl.

Dick’s concerns about being Batman go much deeper than his problems with Damian, and — as always — Alfred offers some good counsel.

Alfred, you may recall, was once a stage actor.

Other Comics I Read from July 2009

  • Action Comics 879
  • Amazing Spider-Man 600
  • Astonishing Tales 6
  • Astro City: Dark Ages Book Three 3
  • Avengers: Initiative 26
  • Batman Confidential 31
  • Beta Ray Bill: Godhunter 2
  • Blackest Night 1
  • Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps 1-3
  • Captain America 601
  • Captain America: Reborn 1
  • Chew 2
  • Dark Avengers 7
  • Dark Reign: Fantastic Four 5
  • Dark Reign: Hawkeye 4
  • Dark Reign: Mr. Negative 2
  • Destroyer 4
  • Detective Comics 855
  • Dethklok vs. Goon 1
  • DMZ 43
  • Existence 2.0 1
  • Fantastic Four 569
  • Final Crisis: The Legion of Three Worlds 5
  • Flash: Rebirth 4
  • Greek Street 1
  • Green Lantern 43, 44
  • Green Lantern Corps 38
  • Hellblazer 257
  • Immortal Weapons 1
  • Incognito 6
  • Incredible Hercules 131
  • Invincible 64
  • Invincible Iron Man 15
  • Marvel Zombies 4 5
  • Mighty 6
  • Mighty Avengers 27
  • New Avengers 55
  • Northlanders 19
  • Outsiders 20
  • Phonogram: the Singles Club 4
  • Pixu: The Mark of Evil
  • Scalped 31
  • Seceret Warriors 6
  • Thunderbolts 134
  • Ultimatum 5
  • Ultimates: Spider Man: Requiem 2
  • Uncanny X-Men 513
  • Unknown Soldier 10
  • Walking Dead 63
  • War Machine 8
  • Wednesday Comics 1-4
  • X-Factor 46

July 2014

Ms. Marvel 6

This is probably my favorite issue of Ms. Marvel, and I love me some Ms. Marvel.  The previous issue ended with Kamala’s father informing her that she had to “have a chat” with Sheikh Abdullah, and this issue opens with that dreaded conversation.

The conversation does not go at all the way Kamala imagined.  As with her father in the previous issue, and her brother in the issue before, Kamala is slowly learning that the older men in her life actually care about her well-being.  Sheikh Abdullah’s encourages her desire to help people, and suggests that she seek out someone to help her learn how to better accomplish this goal.

If this were issue 2, that teacher would almost certainly have been Spider-Man, but since this is issue 6, it’s got to be Wolverine.

If that second panel confuses you, Google “Doge meme.”  (Also, thanks for making me feel less old.)  One of the unique and fun aspects of Kamala’s character is that she is a total Marvel fangirl.  It gives her an endearing connection to the reader without crossing over into annoying by becoming too meta.

Kamala is referring to the fact that they both have healing factors.  Logan informs her that his healing factor is currently on the fritz and he is, in fact, injured and dealing with quite a bit of pain at the moment.

But the claws!  Don’t forget the claws.

Other Comics I Read from July 2014

  • Action Comics 33
  • Afterlife With Archie 6
  • All-New Doop 4
  • All-New X-Factor 10
  • Archer and Armstrong 23
  • Avengers 32, 33
  • Batman 33
  • Batman and Robin 33
  • Batman/Superman 12
  • Black Widow 8
  • Brain Boy: The Men from G.E.S.T.A.L.T. 3
  • Captain Marvel 5
  • Chew: Chicken Warrior Poyo 1
  • Cyclops 3
  • Daredevil 0.1, 5, 6
  • Deep Gravity 1
  • Delinquents 1
  • East of West 13, 14
  • Evil Empire 6
  • Fatale 24
  • Field 3
  • Five Weapons 10
  • Goon: Occasion of Revenge 1
  • Grayson 1
  • Great Pacific 16
  • Green Arrow 33
  • Hawkeye 19
  • Iron Patriot 5
  • Justice League 32, 33
  • Lazarus 9
  • Manhattan Projects 22
  • Moon Knight 5
  • New Avengers 21
  • Original Sin 5, 6
  • Outcast 2
  • Punisher 8
  • Rat Queens 7
  • Revival 22
  • Robin Rises: Omega 1
  • Saga 21
  • Satellite Sam 9
  • Secret Avengers 5, 6
  • She-Hulk 6
  • Sheltered 10
  • Sidekick 7
  • Sons of Anarchy 12
  • Southern Bastards 3
  • Spread 1
  • Storm 1
  • Superman 33
  • Supreme: Blue Rose 1
  • Thief of Thieves 22
  • Thor: God of Thunder 24
  • Trees 3
  • United States of Murder Inc. 3
  • Veil 4
  • Velvet 6
  • Walking Dead 129
  • Wicked and the Divine 2
  • Wildfire 2
  • Wonder Woman 33
  • Zero 9

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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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