Saturday, November 20, 2010

One of My Cover Obsessions

Glowing skeletons or skeletons that were on fire have always managed to grab my attention.  This 1977 Amazing Spider-Man cover is just one example.  I loved this issue as a kid.  Dinosaur skeletons and Stegron?  Sign me the hell up.

The mid-to-late '70s covers for this series were always pretty good, but this one really stood out for me, and I wasn't a huge Spider-Man fan.

Another cover that had me grabbing the book is this one from Detective ComicsThis isn't a pure skeleton, but it is close enough.  Comparing the two shows some similar color themes and composition.  The hero, at the mercy of a fiery skeleton seems to be symbolic for the hero's death, which is always a way to catch a potential consumer's eye.  We all know it's a ploy, but you can't help but want to know what the hell is going on.

If you liked flaming skeletons, you couldn't help but be a fan of Ghost Rider.  A flaming skull.  A flaming motorcycle.  If you were male, that was damn cool.  (I imagine a few females liked it to.)  Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider from my youth, was motorcycle stunt rider (cool job) who turned into this flaming skull superhero (cool idea) and fought guys with like the one who had a giant eyeball for a head (not cool at all).

With Ghost Rider you no longer had to wait for your favorite cover to have a flaming skeleton character.  You got it every month in the form of Marvel's own supernatural hero.  Oddly enough, I was a huge Ghost Rider fan.

Most people remember whatever decade they got into comic books as being the best decade in the industry's history.  I got into them in the 1970s, though I would not call that the industry's best.  It was, however, the decade of some of the best freakin' covers.  These flaming skulls and skeletons are just a small part of it.  The covers were more dynamic than anything you see now even.  Don't believe it?  Look at the Ghost Rider cover to the right, and then compare it to the one from the 1990s below this.
It's a passable cover, but it lacks the dynamics of the three previous ones.  Yes, the concept is still kind of cool, but it doesn't scream, "Read me."

We'll never see an era quite like the 1970s when it comes to comic covers again.  And while the concept is still being used, it lacks the excitement these covers had decades ago.  It's a shame, too, because if these covers still had the same visual punch, perhaps there'd be more readers today.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Secret Avengers Revisited

A few posts back I wrote about my disappointment with Marvel's new Secret Avengers title.  One of the things that bothered me, which I don't think I mentioned, was the Nick Fury character.  I couldn't understand why he was acting the way he was in the story as it seemed totally out of place.  Granted, I don't keep up with all the events in the Marvel universe, but it seemed odd.  Issue five cleared all that up and has redeemed the series for me.

Titled "The Secret Life of Max Fury," this stand-alone issue explains (maybe -- you know how these things go) just why Mr. Fury seemed to be acting out of character these past few issues.  In fact, the story goes back about ten years to explain these things.  And while it was no action-packed fisticuff orgy, it was a highly interesting story (which some totally fitting art by David Aja, who is fast becoming one of my favorites) of intrigue and suspense that sets the stage for future stories that seem like they could be incredibly promising.  At this point I'm glad I gave the book a chance, as I get the feeling I would be missing out on some prime Avengers stories had I dropped it.

Of course, everything could go wrong and writer Ed Brubaker could be replaced for some reason and all his storylines handed to an intern.  That would be disaster, but we all know things like that happen in the world of comics.  Hopefully, for the sake of this title's fans, that won't be the case here.