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ORIGIN STORY EPISODE FIVE

origin-story-episode-5-website-coverShockwave tries to destroy the world! It’s time for another look at G.I. Joe and the Transformers and this time around, I’m looking at issue #3 of the series, which raises the stakes as Cobra has to ally with G.I. Joe and the Autobots. I also share some memories of Christmas 1986.

Please don’t forget to leave feedback at the Pop Culture Affidavit Facebook page and check out Pop Culture Affidavit for the show notes.

 

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Origin Story Episode Three

origin-story-episode-3-website-coverThirty years ago, I begn collecting comics for the first time. Now, I’m taking you back to those days with “Origin Story,” a comics podcasting miniseries where I will look at all of the comics I bought in 1986-1987 in “real time.”

This time, I step away from Marvel and head over to DC for The Adventures of Superman #424, which marks the beginning of that title in the post-Crisis era.  Does it still hold up after 30 years?  Will I be able to say anything that Michael Bailey and Jeffrey Taylor haven’t already said?  Will I fill out the postcard in the middle of the comic and attempt to win a copy of the Man of Steel special edition hardcover 30 years after the contest expired?  Well, you’ll just have to listen!

Please don’t forget to leave feedback at the Pop Culture Affidavit Facebook page and check out Pop Culture Affidavit for the show notes.

iTunes:  Pop Culture Affidavit

Direct Download

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Here are a couple of extras:

The iconic cover of the comic:

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And the trailer for the Stallone movie Cobra:

Pop Culture Affidavit Episode 65: Cherry-Flavored Pez

Episode 65 Website CoverThirty years ago, Rob Reiner directed the seminal coming-of-age film Stand By Me. To celebrate its anniversary, Michael Bailey and I take a look at the film as well as the Stephen King novella “The Body,” upon which it’s based; as well as the music on its soundtrack. We also discuss why it’s an essential movie for anyone who grew up in the 1980s.

iTunes:  Pop Culture Affidavit

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Stand By Me Poster 2

After the cut are are some of the clips featured in the episode:

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Comics Prehistory: Superman #410

Superman 410As I make my way through these very early days of buying comics, I see more and more how my purchases were influenced by other media.  The two issues of Transformers that I just looked at are prime examples.  Superheroes are another, as much of my early knowledge of the spandex set came from seeing them on television shows such as Super-Friends or Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.  Another source was, occasionally, my dad, who liked Superman and was a fan of the Christopher Reeve films (at least Superman and Superman II).  That, of course, led to my purchasing all four issues of Superman: The Secret Years, and it led to my buying Superman #410.

This was another trip to Amazing Comics, sometime around my birthday in 1985 because while this issue came out that May, I remember seeing this and Superman #411 on the shelves at the same time, so it must have been right before Bob took the comic off of the main shelves and put it on the spinner rack near the door, which is what he did for all of “last month’s comics.”  It was a practice that he held onto for years and while I do have fond memories of comic book spinner racks and would love to own one someday, they do have an odd associate in my mind with comic book leftovers.

Okay, tangent over–or at least point of tangent, which is that my dad took me to the local comic store and said that he thought the cover to Superman #410 looked cool, so I decided to buy it.  Drawn by Klaus Janson, who at that point was known for his work with Frank Miller, the cover is certainly a dramatic one–Clark Kent is walking away from a screen where Superman is saying “I categorically deny the story Clark Kent wrote about in the Daily Planet–it is nothing but a pack of lies!”  If I may criticize it briefly, I will say that Superman does have a bit of a fat face and Clark’s suit looks two sizes too big, but the drama of Superman’s pronouncement and then the cover of the paper saying “CLARK KENT FIRED” was enough to pull me in and still makes me want to read the issue.

Superman Satellite

Superman saves a satellite.  Or does he?

What’s inside is the first of a really great three-part story arc that is one of those excellent late Bronze Age/pre-Crisis Superman stories.  We open with Superman saving a nuclear-powered satellite from falling to earth and blowing up, and then cut to Clark writing about it for the paper.  But the thing is, that satellite resuce never actually happened and once that is discovered, Superman finds himself being forced to deny the story, which gets Clark fired.  Superman, of course, is confused because he knows what he saw and knows what he did, yet when he flies to the place where the satellite fell from orbit, it’s still there.

Is he going nuts?  No.  This is all the machinations of Lex Luthor, who is messing with Superman’s mind from the confines of his lair, and he will just copntinue to do so until the end of issue #413, where he gets away because Brainiac recruits him to join a team of villains in Crisis on Infinite Earths #6 (Superman #413, by the way, is an issue I bought years later because it was an unofficial Crisis crossover).

It is, essentially, everything I wanted a Superman story to be when I was a kid, and exactly what i expect out of this time in the Man of Steel’s career.  Lex has an underground lair with henchmen and is planning supervillainy?  Check.  There’s romantic subplots with Lana and Lois?  Check.  Clark is secondary to Superman?  Check.  Granted, I would come to really love the FCTC-era Superman and I do consider that version to be my favorite iteration of the characters, but the “Oh, this would only happen on pre-Crisis Earth-1” feel of this particular issue is part of its charm.  Plus, it’s just a great setup and doesn’t feel like Cary Bates or Julius Schwartz were burning off stories prior to Alan Moore and then John Byrne.

Even the Curt Swan artwork, which I will admit I am hot and cold on at times, works well here.  Swan is inked by Al Williamson, whom I am most familiar with from Star Wars comics of the era, and his links, though pretty loose at times(although this may be due to the reproduction on the digital comic, which makes some of these old newsprint comics look like they are on baxter paper and it doesn’t always work), give Swan’s artwork more grace and fluidity than I’m used to seeing.  Then again, I’m not the most accurate judge of Swan’s art, considering I don’t have a lot of issues he actually drew.

But honestly, this is one of thosecomics that makes me with I had started collecting earlier than 1987, and that i had been experiencing the ed of the Bronze Age and the beginning of the Modern Age as it happened.  This was still a time when a little kid could pick up books and follow them even if he had little to no sense of continuity.  Although even a sense of continuity could not have helped my next book.

Next up:  Secret Wars II #6

Up, Up, and Away!

While I was preparing my latest installment of “Comics Prehistory,” I realized that my next installment, “Superman: The Secret Years” was a series I wrote about way back in the early days of this blog. In fact, I wrote this entry back on April 17, 2010, a little more than SIX YEARS AGO.

So, enjoy this flashback re-post and I’ll be back in a week or two with the next Comics Prehistory book, Transformers #5.

Pop Culture Affidavit

I honestly don’t remember when I bought my first comic book or what that comic was.  I have vague memories of perusing the magazine rack at Greaves stationary in my hometown and coming home with an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man or Superman.  At some point, I know that I got an issue of the Batman team-up title The Brave and the Bold sometime in the very early 1980s, so that might have been it.  But Superman: The Secret Years #2 was the very first comic book that I remember buying at an actual comic book store.

Amazing Comics, which is on Gillette Avenue in Sayville, NY, opened in the fall of 1984 next to an iron-on T-shirt store named The Special-T, which is where my friends and I procured most of our wardrobe.  I am sure that I was at the Special-T buying a birthday present for…

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Comics Prehistory: Transformers #1

Transformers 1According to Mike’s Amazing World of Marvel Comics, Transformers #1 hit the stands on May 29, 1984.  This would have been around the time that I was finishing up the first grade, and while I can’t exactly recall everything I got for my seventh birthday, I’m pretty sure that in the very least by the time I hit the beginning of second grade, I owned at least one Transformer–and it was probably Huffer.  I was still pretty much unaware of anything related to comic books or comic stores, aside from what I saw in my local stationary stores, so the idea of a Transformers comic book would have completely passed me by.  In fact, I’m pretty sure that it passed by a number of people my age at that point, even if the toys and television show didn’t.

What I do know about acquiring it is that I got this at the same place I got a few comic books in those days of single-digit ages, a birthday party.  At some point in the early 1980s, a parent or two figured out that if you had a dozen kids, mostly boys, at a birthday party and you had to give something away for a goody bag and didn’t want to ply them with candy, spending about $10 on a few Marvel three-packs was a great idea.  And indeed it was.  I walked away from a few birthday parties at the time with a comic book that I read cover to cover several times over, eventually rolling the spines or nearly completely taking the covers off until they eventually disappeared down whatever memory hole your childhood belongings eventually go.  And while the strategy of putting a comic from a three-pack was nearly perfect (a not-so-perfect example will be the penultimate entry in this series of posts), I wasn’t thinking much about the quality of the comics I was getting in 1984.  I was excited to get something better than a ball on a paddle.

Transformers #1 is, as the cover by Bill Sienkewitz tells us, #1 in a four-issue limited series.  I used to love seeing the “… in a four-issue limited series” label on the top of a Marvel comic book in the same way that I loved the colored bar with “4 part mini series” or “12 part maxi series” running along the top of DC’s comics at the same time.  To me, it seemed like there was something special about the comic that I was going to read–plus, it meant that convincing my parents that further comics needed to be purchased was a good idea because a limited series meant it had an end and therefore less of a commitment.

Then again, it’s not like I ever owned any other part of the original limited series that featured the Transformers.  A friend at one point had a copy of issue #4 and let me read it, and I know that issue #3 was one of the more expensive back issues to get a few years later because the black-suited Spider-Man made an appearance (and I believe this has also caused some issue when it comes to the reprints of the series), but I wouldn’t pick up the adventures of my favorite metamorphing toys until the first issue of the ongoing series, which was #5.  And while they will be a big part of the “Origin Story” podcast miniseries, the Transformers comics never had the impact on me the way that G.I. Joe eventually would.

The plot to the issue (which has no story title and was written by Bill Mantlo and Ralph Macchio with art by Frank Springer and Kim DeMulder) is everything you’d expect from a first issue of the era, especially one that is the first chapter of a miniseries–it’s mostly exposition and setup.  We start out on Cybertron, learn the history behind the war between the Autobots and Decepticons, a war that lasted 1,000 years and whose devastation and power sent the planet hurtling off course and its path took it directly toward an asteroid field.  Seeing the danger, Optimus Prime and his Autobots board a spaceship called The Ark and flee the planet.  The Decepticons, who have been spying on their opponents, follow suit, attack The Ark, and Prime steers The Ark toward Earth.  They land and are buried for millennia and eventually the ship’s computer wakes up to find themselves in 20th Century America.  Not distinguishing between opponents, it equips them with the ability to transform into vehicles of that world.

The Decepticons flee the ark and we get a few pages of character identification and Prime summing up how they got their and restating what their mission is.  Meanwhile, in Oregon, Buster and Spike Whitwicky work in their repair shop and Buster eventually comes across Bumblebee and some other Autobots who are doing some recon and exploring the world.  Suddenly, the Decepticons attack and Buster manages to hop into Bumblebee and escape to the garage, where they first hear the car speak, “Help me, please!  I’m dying!”

I suppose I never bought the next issue because by the time I got it, it was already a back issue and Transformers were on the rise, so the price would have been too much.  I suppose I could have asked my parents to purchase the very three-pack that my copy of the book was taken from, but i was interested in getting them to buy me action figures.  It would would take a couple of years for that to change.

Coming Next Month: Superman: The Secret Years

 

In Country: Marvel Comics’ “The ‘Nam” — Episode 65

IC 65 Website CoverWe reach the conclusion to “The Death of Joe Hallen” with “Down So Long …” in The ‘Nam #58, a story written by Chuck Dixon with art by Wayne Vansant and Tony DeZuniga as well as a cover with metallic silver ink by Andy Kubert (it’s about as Nineties as The ‘Nam will get, kids … at least as far as the covers go).  Also in this episode, I wrap up the historical context for the year 1969 with a look at December.

You can download the episode via iTunes or listen directly at the Two True Freaks website

Two True Freaks Presents: In Country iTunes feed

In Country Episode 65 direct link

Nam 58

Also for your reference, here is the New York Times article regarding the draft lottery controversy:

“Statisticians Charge Draft Lottery Was Not Random”

And here is the clip of the Stones at Altamont: