This month, Rand Bellavia takes a look at his growing longbox, and reflects on comics released in August 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005, 2010, and 2015!

Rand Bellavia is back to share his fond memories of decades of comic collecting and reading in this month’s Random Access Memory.

August 1980

Avengers 201

The main story in this issue was the set up for a two-part Ultron story (adapted from a Jim Shooter prose story first published in 1979’s “The Marvel Superheroes”).  But — as the cover indicates — the main attraction here is the back-up story starring Jarvis.  Honestly, who need Ultron when we open with <gasp> Jarvis’s mother paying him a visit?  (And you thought Jarvis was old and boring.)

Jarvis has no trouble finding the bully in question, and the confrontation goes pretty much as expected.

Jarvis is more shocked by his neighbors’ lack of courage than Bruiser’s cruelty.

So Jarvis confronts his enemy yet again, this time resorting to fisticuffs.

Realizing he might actually have a fight on his hands, Bruiser pulls a knife, which Jarvis refers to as “a base and cowardly act.”

Bruiser lunges at Jarvis, and…

Comics I Read From August 1980

  • Amazing Spider-Man 210
  • Captain America 251
  • Cerebus 19
  • Daredevil 167
  • Epic Illustrated 3
  • Hulk 23
  • Marvel Team-Up 99, Annual 3
  • Moon Knight 1
  • New Teen Titans 1
  • Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 48
  • Uncanny X-Men 139

August 1985

Cerebus 77

Told almost entirely without dialog, this issue You Will Believe an Aardvark Can Dream.

Writer/artist Dave Sim has recently started working with background illustrator Gerhard, and this issue really shows him off with a ton of fantastic (in all senses of the word) imagery.

Cerebus dreams of floating chess pieces.

And the moon, where he will have a very important conversation in about 30 issues.

Cerebus wakes up and empties his bladder.

True story:  This goes on for four page.

This same year, Chester Brown, another great Canadian comic book creator, told a similar joke in an early issue of Yummy Fur (in half the pages).

Not sure which was the chicken and which the egg, but Brown actually managed to tie his toilet humor to the plot of his story, so I guess he wins?

Around this time creator/writer/artist Dave Sim announced that Cerebus would run 300 issues, telling one continuous story.  The next issue blurb was a pretty solid joke about how Sim planned on stretching Cerebus’ story that many issues.

This was a good month for Dave Sim enthusiasts, as Cerebus also made a rare color appearance in Marvel’s Epic Illustrated 32.

It was a good place for Sim to show off his painting skills while introducing Epic‘s fans to Cerebus.

Sim also teased the future of Cerebus, making it clear that the priestly robes Cerebus wore in this month’s issue weren’t just dream logic.

We never did get to see Samurai Cerebus, however.

 

Comics I Read From August 1985

  • Alien Encounters 20
  • Amazing Spider-Man Annual 19
  • American Flagg 27
  • Avengers 261
  • Coyote 14
  • Crisis on Infinite Earths 8, 9
  • Daredevil 225
  • Defenders 149
  • Iron Man 200
  • Marvel Fanfare 23
  • Moon Knight 5
  • Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man 108
  • Secret Wars II 5
  • Solomon Kane 2
  • Super Powers 3
  • Swamp Thing 42
  • Uncanny X-Men 199
  • Vigilante 23
  • Web of Spider-Man 9
  • West Coast Avengers 3

 

August 1990

Doom Patrol 37

By this time in Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol run, it would have to take a special kind of strange to stick out from the “normal” strange.  And… well, check this out:

This page of these wonderfully odd-looking dudes talking about “geomancers,” “ultraquists,” and “anathematicians” is how we begin this story.  Oh, and Rhea Jones is out of her coma, and looking like this:

If case you need to be told, was in a coma when Morrison took over the book, and the last time was saw her she had a face and she was not in need of ruby quartz earmuffs.  And I’m reasonably certain she did not have a huge eye on her chest.  (She had her shirt on the whole time, so I can’t make any promises.)

Our heroes follow Rhea to the circus, and guess what?

Nothing good ever happens when you split up to search a secondary location.  Ten minutes, got it?

Rebis, Jane, and Cliff encounter predictably odd attractions that conveniently map to their power sets.  But just as we’re in danger of learning something:

And we come full circle as the Doom Patrol meets whoever these guys are.

Pretty sure this was the first time a genuine unedited curse word appeared in a mainstream DC comic.

Other Comics I Read from August 1990

  • Animal Man 28
  • Atlantis Chronicles 7
  • Cerebus 137
  • Dreadstar 61
  • Hellblazer 34
  • Incredible Hulk 374
  • Sandman 20
  • Shade the Changing Man 4
  • Spider-Man 3

August 1995

Captain America 444

Mark Waid’s storied history of writing Captain America begins with this issue.  Waid took over the book following Cap’s “death,” so this issue doesn’t feature Captain America, but it is about Captain America.

The Avengers haven’t told the world that Cap is dead yet, and boy is there egg on their faces when terrorists take the President hostage and have only one demand.

The government liaison is a guy name McElroy who I don’t think I’ve seen before or since.  At any rate, he gets a face full from the Avengers, including Hercules.

Quicksilver is convinced that Cap isn’t really dead and that he’ll show up any second, but the government doesn’t share his optimism, so they send out an agent dressed as Cap.  His shield is pretty transparently not the real deal, and the terrorists notice.  Cue fight scene.

It’s a shame that Hawkeye wasn’t on the team for this issue.  It’s not so much that I don’t believe that Quicksilver would feel this way, but a speedster is in no real peril from this sort of sneak attack.

Cap?

Cap manages to inspire McElroy from beyond the grave.

When the dust settles, Black Widow decides that the Avengers need to come clean.

Then Waid kindly refuses to make us wait a month before putting us out of our misery.

Dork 3

Evan Dorkin earns his crown as the King of Generation X with this issue.

This issue is packed with far too many jokes (and words) per page, most of them at the expense of anyone who was in their 20s in the early 90s.

And it’s not just the stoner/faux-hippies that get abuse.  Rave culture gets theirs, as well.

And no self-loathing Evan Dorkin comic is complete without some comics about comics.

Comics I Read from August 1995

  • Amazing Spider-Man 406
  • Batman: Manbat 1
  • Cerebus 197
  • Daredevil 345
  • Dark Horse Presents 100
  • Doctor Strange 82
  • Egypt 3
  • Flash 106
  • Goddess 5
  • Hellblazer 94
  • Incredible Hulk 434
  • Invisibles 13
  • Kurt Busiek’s Astro City 1
  • Mask 7
  • Preacher 7
  • Shade the Changing Man 64
  • Skrull Kill Krew 2
  • Spider-Man: The Lost Years 3
  • Starman 12
  • Swamp Thing 159
  • Thor 491
  • Ultrafoce/Avengers 1
  • Untold Tales of Spider-Man 2
  • Wildcats 22
  • X-Men ’95 1

August 2000

Preacher 66

Preacher comes to an end, cheekily on the 66th issue.  At the end of the previous issue Starr killed Jesse right after Cassidy was disintegrated by the sun, then Tulip killed Starr.  Luckily, there is quite literally a God in this machine.

There’s some great character stuff with Jesse and Tulip.  They get their happy ending, literally riding into the sunset.  Preacher started out as a religious farce, which turned out to be about body horror, which turned out to be a romance comic.  But, it turns out, Preacher actually turned out to be the story of Cassidy’s redemption.

Jesse finds a note in his jacket and realizes that Cassidy’s sucker-punch had a purpose other than keeping Jesse down long enough for Cassidy to watch the sun rise.

We learn the details of the conversation Cassidy had with God, which fills in some story gaps, including how Jesse managed to come back from the dead after he no longer had Genesis in him.

And of course Cassidy had a plan for his own resurrection, as well.

Starr stays dead.

What Cassidy didn’t know was that while he was scheming with God, Jesse was scheming with the Saint of Killers.  So when God arrived back in Heaven, finally safe from the threat of Genesis, he found the Saint sitting on the Throne of God, armed with guns that never miss.

After all that plot is dispensed with, we return to Cassidy.

Watching the sun set (and showing his non-vampiric eyes for good measure) makes it clear that God brought Cassidy back as a normal human.  Then we get one of the best call-backs in the history of comics, as Cassidy takes Jesse up on his final challenge.

Other Comics I Read from August 2000

  • 100 Bullets 15
  • Adventures of the Rifle Brigade 1
  • Authority 18
  • Avengers 33
  • Avengers Infinity 2
  • Batman 582
  • Batman: Dark Victory 11
  • Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood 5
  • Batman: Ego
  • DC 2000 2
  • Detective Comics 749
  • Flash 165
  • Green Lantern: Circle of Fire 1, 2
  • Green Lantern/Adam Strange
  • Green Lantern/Atom
  • Hellblazer 153
  • Hellblazer Special: Bad Blood 2
  • Hellspawn 1
  • Hitman 54
  • Hourman 19
  • Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of the Authority 3
  • JLA 46
  • JSA 15, Annual 1
  • Legends of the DC Universe 33
  • Lucifer 5
  • Madman Comics 17
  • Marvel Boy 3
  • Powers 4
  • Promethea 10
  • Punisher 7
  • Sam and Twitch 13
  • Sentry 2
  • Shock Rockets 5
  • Starman 70
  • Thunderbolts 43
  • Top 10 9
  • Transmetropolitan 37
  • Wonder Woman 161

August 2005

Wha… Huh?

What If Some of the Biggest Name in Comics Told Some Intentionally Terrible Jokes?

Brian Michael Bendis is responsible for the best gag.

Some context:  Around this time, DC published a series called Just Imagine…, where Stan Lee rewrote the origin stories of the most famous DC heroes (with titles like “Just Imagine Stan Lee’s Batman”).  Also, Bendis was getting some grief for his reimagining of classic Spider-Man stories in Ultimate Spider-Man.

After a few more pages, we get this:

Bendis also gives us this gag, which (like so many sweaty comic industry jokes) is saved by making fun of Mark Millar.

Somehow they got Brian K. Vaughan to contribute to this thing.

Vaughan also provides this premise.

I include this here not because it’s particularly funny, but because rereading this made me realize that this was probably the subconscious inspiration for a comedy bit I wrote in 2012 for Ookla the Mok vs. Evil:

Galactus Intolerant

Galactus: [moaning in pain]Mrs. G: You sound terrible, Galen.
Galactus: I feel terrible, Honey.
Mrs. G: Do you think it was someone you ate?
Galactus: [most horrible sound we can manage to record]Mrs. G: Oh my.
Galactus: I like M-Class planets, but they don’t like me!
Mrs. G: (sighs) I’ll get the Galact-Aid.

Huckster Voice-over: Do you suffer from embarrassing continents? Asteroid flare-ups? Do gas giants give you giant gas? Is your name Galactus: Devourer of Worlds? Then you need Galact-Aid. Four out of five Celestials agree that only Galact-Aid can “Ultimately Nullify” your planetary indigestion.

Mellow Voice-over: Side effects may include Sentient Liver, Sudden Total Bowel Evacuation, Supplemental Appendix, Charlton Intestine, Jacob’s Bladder, Kidney Poitier, Charlie Spleen, and Restless Skin Syndrome. If your Helmet Prongs appear inflamed, consult your Watcher immediately. If The Elders of the Universe appear, consult Reed Richards.

Mrs. G: Looks like the Galact-Aid worked!
Galactus: And thanks to Galact-Aid, I can enjoy all the magma I like with no discomfort.
Mrs. G: [So, what would you like for dinner tonight?] Galactus: I was thinking of sending Norrin out to get us a nice ethnic planet.
Mrs. G: Oh, Galen!

We ended up not recording it, as the album transitioned from a comedy album (with bits and skits in-between the songs) to a more traditional rock album.  And now you get to enjoy it.

Other Comics I Read from August 2005

  • 100 Bullets 63
  • Adventures of Superman 643
  • Amazing Spider-Man 523
  • Astro City: The Dark Age Book One 3
  • Authority: Revolution 11
  • Battle Pope 2
  • Captain America 9, 10
  • Daredevil 76
  • Ex Machina 14
  • Flash 225
  • Gotham Central 34
  • Green Lantern 4
  • Hellblazer 211
  • House of M 5, 6
  • Hulk: Destruction 2
  • Incredible Hulk 85
  • Invincible 25
  • Iron Man 4
  • Iron Man: House of M 2
  • Jack Cross 1
  • JLA 117
  • JLA: Classified 11
  • JSA 76
  • JSA: Classified 2
  • Losers 27
  • Lucifer 65
  • OMAC Project 5
  • Outsiders 27
  • Powers 12
  • Punisher 24
  • Runaways 7
  • Seven Soldiers: Klarion the Witchboy 3
  • Seven Soldiers: White Knight 4
  • Seven Soldiers: Zatanna 3
  • Silent Dragon 2
  • Spider-Man: House of M 3
  • Swamp Thing 18
  • Ultimate Fantastic Four 22, Annual 1
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 81, Annual 1
  • Ultimate X-Men 62, Annual 1
  • Ultimates Annual 1
  • Walking Dead 21
  • Wolverine 31
  • Wonder Woman 220
  • Y: The Last Man 36
  • Young Avengers 7

August 2010

Wolverine: Weapon X 16

Jason Aaron ends his first major run on Wolverine with this wonderful tribute to Nightcrawler, who had recently “died” during the Second Coming crossover.  (Aaron was not responsible for Nightcrawler’s death, but he was the writer who found a way to bring him back three years later in Amazing X-Men.)

Kurt and Logan were close friends, but they never saw to eye-to-eye on matters of faith.  We get a lot of flashbacks to flesh out their relationship.  Here they are on the day they met:

…and shortly following the death of Jean Grey:

It’s a nice touch that Kurt’s faith drives him not to preach at or judge Logan but rather compels him to console his friend.  Kurt believes in a loving creator, but still thinks that the work is its own reward.

Back in the present, Logan learns that Kurt’s will includes a strange request.

Getting the piano to its destination is not an easy task for Logan.

Understandably, Logan needs a minute.  Later, he and the priest talk about Kurt.

Apparently Kurt liked to plan ahead.

Logan has been in enough fights to know when he’s beaten.

Other Comics I Read from August 2010

  • Avengers 4
  • Avengers Academy 3
  • Avengers Prime 2
  • Batman 702
  • Brightest Day 7, 8
  • Captain America 608, 609
  • Captain America: Forever Allies 1
  • Casanova 2
  • Chew 13
  • Daredevil 509
  • Daredevil: Black and White
  • Daytripper 9
  • DMZ 56
  • DV8: Gods and Monsters 5
  • Ex Machina 50
  • Fantastic Four 582
  • Filthy Rich
  • Fogtown
  • Greek Street 14
  • Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors 1
  • Hellblazer 270
  • Heroic Age: Prince of Power 4
  • Incredible Hulk 611
  • Invincible 74
  • Invincible Iron Man 29
  • Iron Man: Legacy 5
  • Light 5
  • Morning Glories 1
  • New Avengers 3
  • Northlanders 31
  • Punisher Max: Happy Ending
  • Red Mass for Mars 4
  • Science Dog Special
  • Secret Avengers 4
  • Secret Warriors 18, 19
  • Shadowland 2
  • Shadowland: Power Man 1
  • SHIELD 3
  • Spider-Man/Fantastic Four 2
  • Steve Rogers: Super-Soldier 2
  • Superman 702
  • Superman/Batman 75
  • Superman: Secret Origin 6
  • Sweet Tooth 12
  • Thor 613
  • Thor: The Mighty Avenger 3
  • Thor: The Rage of Thor
  • True Story Swear to God 13
  • Ultimate Comics Avengers 12, 13
  • Ultimate Mystery 2
  • Ultimate Spider-Man 13
  • Uncanny X-Men 527
  • Unknown Soldier 23
  • Walking Dead 76
  • X-Factor 208

August 2015

Prez 3

One of my favorite aspects of Mark Russell’s Prez update was his recasting of Boss Smiley as Jeff Bezos.  Those unfamiliar with the original 70s Prez would be forgiven for assuming that Smiley was made up by Russell as a sly reference to Amazon’s logo.  Either way, Russell has some remarkably insightful observations about Amazon.

And of course, if time is your commodity, the only way to demonstrate how much you value your customer’s time is to value to the time of your workers much less.

This issue we also meet a brooding Dan Harmon type.  Here he deconstructs the Smurfs for his daughter:

Pretty much every page of this comic holds at least one brilliant social or political observation.  Here our hero points out the cost of our freedom.

Our young president’s awareness of her own privilege (and how little she did to earn it) allows her to see the big picture.

Other Comics I Read from August 2015

  • A-Force 3
  • Action Comics 43
  • Airboy 3
  • All-Star Section Eight 3
  • Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows 3, 4
  • American Vampire: Second Cycle 9
  • Archie 2
  • Batman/Superman 23
  • Bloodshot Reborn 5
  • Book of Death: The Fall of Ninjak
  • Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier 10
  • Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps 3
  • Cyborg 2
  • Dead Drop 4
  • Deadly Class 15
  • Descender 6
  • Dream Police 7
  • East of West 20
  • Eltingville Club 2
  • Fade Out 8
  • Fight Club 2  4
  • Fox 5
  • Grayson 11
  • Groot 3
  • Guardians of Knowhere 2, 3
  • Howard the Duck 5
  • Howard the Human 1
  • Injection 4
  • Invincible 122
  • Ivar Timewalker 8
  • Jupiter’s Circle 5
  • Justice League 43
  • Kaptara 4
  • Lando 2, 3
  • Lazarus 18
  • Mantle 4
  • Midnighter 3
  • Minimum Wage: So Many Bad Decisions 4
  • Ms. Marvel 17
  • Ninak 6
  • Ody-C 6
  • Old Man Logan 4
  • Omega Men 3
  • Outcast 11
  • Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl 1
  • Postal 6
  • Rebels 5
  • Revival 32
  • Secret Wars 5
  • SHIELD 9
  • Spread 9
  • Starve 3
  • Superman/Wonder Woman 20
  • They’re Not Like Us 7
  • Thief of Thieves 30
  • Trees 12
  • Ultimate End 4
  • Velvet 11
  • Walking Dead 145
  • We Stand on Guard 2
  • Weirdworld 3
  • Where Monsters Dwell 4
  • Wolf 2
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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.

2 Comments

  1. That Avengers story was probably the first I read featuring full team of them (did read Secret Wars before it though). Great stuff as always, thank you!

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