Krypto-Knight Comics

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Would the Real Jack Kirby Please Stand Up?

Decades ago there was a game show on television called, To Tell The Truth, in which contestants questioned a panel of 3 individuals to try and determine which of the 3 was the real person they all claimed to be.  At the end of it all, the game show host would say..."Would the real [person's name] please stand up?"  Then the real person would stand up and they contestants who guessed correctly won a prize. 

Today, it is not uncommon for an individual to want credit for the work that he or she has done on a project.  In a sense, we all want to make some sort of name for ourselves and leave our mark on society.  However, it is not uncommon for artistic individuals to use a pseudonym, or a pen name, in place of their real name.  A few writers still do this today.  Among comic book artists and writers this was popular as well.  For example, Stanley Martin Lieber (who actually appeared on the aforementioned game show twice) is more affectionately known as Stan Lee.  The same is true for "The King" of comicdom Jacob Kurtzberg, or Jack Kirby. 

What were some pen names used by Jack Kirby?  There is a long list!  Jack Curtiss, Curt Davis, Fred Sande, Ted Grey, Teddy, Charles Nicholas and eventually he settled on the pen name Jack Kirby because it reminded him of the actor James Cagney.  The first work that ever featured the "Jack Kirby" pen name was Blue Bolt #5, a work he and Joe Simon produced for Fox Feature Syndicate.  Eventually Jack Kirby and Joe Simon created in late 1940 Captain America which they convinced Timely Comics to produce.  Today Timely Comics is better known as Marvel Entertainment.

I have often thought of operating under a pseudonym myself but not sure what I would use.  I enjoy my own name because if it's originality.  Whether I will ever be as famous as Jack Kirby is doubtful.  Until such time, if it ever occurs, I will continue to enjoy the rich artwork left behind by "The King" for us all to marvel over.  Jack Kirby died February 6, 1994 in Thousand Oaks, California, at the age of 76.

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Uncanny X-Men #341 - Cannonball vs Gladiator

Sometimes a story just hits you the right way.  After reading it you look inward and say, 'WOW!  I loved that story."  Those are the kind of stories we all want, right?  They are the kind that make you want to talk about it, to call your best friend and see if he or she felt the same.  When you appreciate something you cannot help but want to talk about it even years later.  Uncanny X-Men #341 was one of those issues for me. 

As a whole, the story was okay.  However, there is an aspect in this issue that I have always loved and that is the battle that takes place between Cannonball and the Shi'ar Champion and leader of the Imperial Guard, Gladiator.  Gladiator is one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe having only been defeated by Thor.  Gladiator's power and abilities mirror that of Superman's, if not stronger.  However, in this issue of Uncanny X-Men, the former New Mutants member Cannonball finds himself pitted against this powerful foe.  It's that battle aspect of t his story that I love so much and the characterization of Cannonball!  Why?

Sam Guthrie, aka Cannonball, has always been one to doubt his abilities and his place among mutantkind.  In this issue, however, we see his confidence level at its highest by showing a willingness to take on the powerful Gladiator.  In this battle we see Cannonball's real strength comes, not from his mutant abilities, but in thinking his way through the battle as a mature hero would.  While Cannonball does not defeat Gladiator, he does not lose either and stands toe to toe with him.  We also see, thanks to writer Scott Lobdell, the potential that Cannonball has to be a powerful hero, both in mutant ability and in thinking ability.  My favorite scene in the comic is when Gladiator tries to punch Cannonball from Earth into the Sun and fails.  The scene and dialogue that follow are great! 

Cannonball: "So tell me pardner...was that your best shot?"
Gladiator: "But..but that was my most powerful blow! live?  That's not possible...!"

In the end when Gladiator sends the X-Men to help Lilandra he does not send Cannonball saying that it would be an insult to send a child into such a battle.  How insulting!  Cannonball just held his own with one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe and he cannot go with the rest of the X-Men because he is a child?  I highly disagree.  Cannonball has the makings of not only being a great X-Man but a leader as well.  I only hope we get to see more stores like this with Cannonball sometime in the future. 

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Casting Call - The Black Panther

Sometimes I like to think about who could play a certain comic book character on the movie screen.  One way I do this is by thinking backwards.  In other words, as I watch TV or movies I think, "What superhero does that actor/actress remind me of?"  Sometimes the answer is no one but on other occasions it becomes very clear.  Some actors are just born to play certain roles.  Christopher Reeve was born to be Superman.  Patrick Stewart is Professor X.  Hugh Jackman brought Wolverine to life (although too tall we accepted him).  Robert Downey, Jr. was awesome as Tony Stark.  Recently I decided who I think would be perfect for the role of T'Challa, the King of the African Country Wakanda.  We affectionately know him as The Black Panther, Honorary Avenger.

Who would I cast as the Black Panther?  Christopher Judge 

Who is Christopher Judge?  He is best know for his role on Stargate SG-1 and associated shows as Teal'c, the Jaffa alien who helps the ISO's Stargate program defeat the Goa'uld from ruling the galaxy as gods.  However, Judge has other credits to his name as well, some of which have ties to popular comic book characters.  In 2003, he was the voice of Zodak in 5 episodes of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  He also provide the voice for Magneto in the animated series X-Men: Evolution.  In other years he has appeared in episodes of MacGyver, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Andromeda, Sirens and Action Man.  Bird On A Wire, A Dog's Breakfast and Personal Effects are some of just a few of the many movie appearances he has had.

I like Judge for the role of Black Panther for several reasons.  He has the build being muscular and firm.  He has the look in his face that differentiates him from actors like Denzel Washington or Wesley Snipes, some who have been mentioned or rumored to be in such a role.  He also has the look as if he could be from another country because he is part African and part Cherokee.  He definitely has the voice of one who commands others,  injects fear and displays confidence. Finally, he has the size. At 6'-3" it is clear he is not a short man.  He has proven his ability to show a physical prowess, and his fairly solemn role as Teal'c, a character whose very demeanor commands respect, is similar in nature to that of the Black Panther.  Much like Patrick Stewart or Christopher Reeve, I believe he was born to play the Black Panther.

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"Faster Than A Streak of Lightning!" What?!

"Faster than a streak of lightning, more powerful than the pounding surf, mightier than a roaring hurricane, the amazing stranger from the planet Krypto, Superman!"  Do these words sound familiar?  Sort of!  We are all more familiar with a different set of words describing Earth's mightiest hero.  Yet the words above were penned by the same man who penned "faster than a speeding bullet",  Jay Morton. 

Jay Morton, who may not be familiar to us, was a writer and artist that worked on projects that are much more familiar, such as Felix the Cat, Betty Boop, Popeye and of course our favorite, Superman.  Morton worked with Fleischer Studios on 25 of the animated superman films until the 1940's when he left and became the publisher of newspapers and trade papers in Florida.  It was during his time with Fleischer Studios that he coined the phrase above in describing Superman.  He later reworked it and came up the line we all know today...

"Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Look! Up in the sky!  It's a bird; it's a plane; no it's...Superman!"

Morton's film credits include Superman (1941), Terror On The Midway (1942), Showdown (1942), Destruction, Inc. (1942), The Mummy Strikes (1943), Jungle Drums (1943), The Underground World (1943), and The Adventures of Superman TV series (1952).  He was also appeared as Stinky in "Our Gang", the little rich kid who ended up on the wrong side of the pranks by the "Little Rascals". 

Not only was Jay Morton a writer and artist, but a sculptor as well.  In the entrance of the courthouse in Westchester, Virginia, is an 8 foot bronze sculptor of Admiral Richard E. Byrd, the famous explorer of Antarctica.  Westchester is the home town of Admiral Byrd and the statue was erected by Jay Morton.

What is most fascinating about Jay Morton, however, is that his wealth was not as a result of his work in film and animation but from invention.  After cutting his foot on an old style drinking can pop-tab while walking on the beach, he invented the current style tab that stays attached to the can.  His invention (U.S. Patent No. 5,062,542)  made him extremely wealthy!

On September 6, 2003, Jay Morton died in Charlotte, NC, from a brain aneurysm at the age of 92. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Aquaman: Underrated and Unappreciated

In November 1941, a new superhero was born on the pages of More Fun Comics #73...Aquaman!  This character, created by Paul Norris and Mort Weisinger, has had his origins changed and retold more times than most characters in any comic book universe.  He is a character that has been undervalued, under appreciated and under done.  Why do we so preach?

Aquaman has been written as the rightful King of the Atlantis and Lord of the Ocean.  That being the case, then Aquaman is royalty and should therefore be viewed as such.  His realm would include an area for more larger than any human government on land and, of course, more dimensional.  His power and control over the underwater creatures could be used in very unique ways for the defense of the ocean and the whole planet.  Imagine the possibilities that could come from understanding the the instinctive thoughts of those creatures, some of which are the biggest creatures on Earth.  The stories that could be told!

When you consider that there are depths of the oceans that create such pressure that man made machines are needed to explore it, machines that require immense amounts of internal pressure and dense materials, it is truly a powerful man that has the ability to endure such depths.  At such depths where sunlight fails to reach, powerful eyesight would be necessary in order to focus and see. Therefore, anyone who could withstand such depths should be able to have some sort of telescopic vision and focus.  The density and strength required to survive would make one's power rival, at the very least, that of Superman's, especially when on land  How is it, then, that such a being with the kind of power to withstand the depths of the ocean and the ability to telepathically control sea life could lose his hand to some piranhas?  It is as ridiculous as Superman being beaten by Doomsday. 

The long haired, shirtless one-handed Aquaman appears more like a rebel biker than a royal king and superhero.  As a founding member of the Justice League, Aquaman should be portrayed as a powerful, moral and respected ruler and hero.  His abilities and possibilities have been underrated and ignored.  In the 1990's, Erik Larsen tried to take the character in a direction as the one described here but due to creative differences he did not stay on the book for very long and this legendary hero faded once again into the background. 

Aquaman is a man, a hero, that could come to play a vital role in the DC Universe.  He could come to have the kind of power and influence that Tony Stark/Iron Man came to have in the Marvel Universe but with a more positive atmosphere.  DC should get away from the angry rebellious attitude of Aquaman as it is too similar to that of Namor the Sub-Mariner.  I would love to write an ongoing Aquaman series, but unfortunately I have not been asked.  He certainly has this comic lover's respect.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The First Modern Comic Book

Comic books have grown into a very popular hobby and industry.  The money comic book companies have made and the interest in superheroes is ever increasing.  Modern movies with awesome computer graphics and special effects have made it possible to see our favorite heroes come to life.  There is a certain feeling one gets seeing Christopher Reeve stretch out his arm in motion and the big red "S" flay across the screen, or the excitement when we see Spider-Man swing through the steel hallways of New York City!  Superheroes have become a big part of life and entertainment and have always provided us with an escape at times when it was needed most.  So how did it all begin?  What was the first modern comic book and when was it printed?

The first modern comic book was an experiment, as most things are in the beginning, and was called "Funnies On Parade".  It was produced in 1933 by Eastern Color Press and was created when the company decided to find a way to make better use of their presses.  They came up with the idea of creating a 9 x 12 inch, 8 page book by folding the pages in half.  It essentially produced what we call today the comic book.  It was literally a book of comics and featured reprints of the comic strips that appeared in the newspapers. They gave it away for FREE.  It became so popular that they began charging $0.10 the following year and the modern comic book industry began.  In fact, just 5 years later, the comic book industries most popular and well-known superhero would be born when Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created an alien from outserspace that would be Earth's mightiest champion.  He would appear in Action Comics #1 and was called...Superman! 

Thursday, January 21, 2010

What The?!

In 1988, Marvel began a comic series called What The?!  It was a comical parody of the superheroes in various comic universes and actually quite hilarious.  While they have no real book value, play no key roles in character development and do not appear on any comic book want list, their humor and audacity cannot be ignored.  They are "comic books" in the true form of what "comic book" means...they are designed to make us laugh.  Characters such as Spider-Ham, Raven, Wulveream, The Pulverizer, Superbman, Fantastical Four are among some of these spoof characters.  Wolverine seemed to be a more popular character to spoof in this series.  It lasted until 1992 with 26 total issues being written.  We may never see a CGC copy (are there any) sell for high value on auction but at least they gave us something to laugh at!

Recently I was witness to an event that made me say, What The?!  It was a somewhat funny incident but highlights the stupidity of some people; people that should appear in such a series.  I was standing in line at a convenient store and the young woman in front of me was wearing an American Cancer Society t-shirt.  What drew my attention to this was the fact that when she got to the counter she had a few items to pay for (I do not remember what they were) and she asked for a pack of Marlboro Lights 100's.  How is it someone can wear a t-shirt promoting a non-profit organization that works to fight against cancer while at the same time buy the #1 cause of cancer in the United States?  Am I the only one who sees the humor and stupidity in this?  I could not help but think...What The?!

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Daredevil #1 CGC 9.2 Sells for $10,800 On ComicLink

The all-star cast of the Daredevil movie could not save it from being a bad movie.  It's a shame, too, because Daredevil is such a popular character among Marvel fans.  Fortunately the bad movie has not affected the loyalty of fans nor the popularity of The Man Without Fear.

To prove this fact, ComicLink recently auctioned a Daredevil #1 with a CGC grade of 9.2 with off-white to white pages.  Any collector would love to have a copy of this and if I have to explain why then, simply put, you are not a collector.  For what amount did this book finally sell?  With 15 seconds left on the auction the bid went from $6500 to $7450.  Then with only 2 seconds left, the final bid came in at $10,800.  Not only a beautiful book but a beautiful price, especially for the seller. 

My favorite Daredevil story was "Guardian Devil" written by Kevin Smith and drawn by Joe Quesada.  (I have a couple of issues signed by Joe Quesada.  View them here.)  The story forces Matt Murdock, DD, to protect a baby that he is led to believe will be either a Messiah or an Antichrist.  In the process he struggles with the death of  love interest Karen Page who was killed by DD's archenemy, Bullseye.  In the end, there is a surprise villain behind it all, one that no reader expected.  This storyline began the Marvel Knights series and revived the the popularity of Daredevil.

What's your favorite Daredevil story?
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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Justice League: Crisis On Two Earths Coming In February

February 23, 2010 is the scheduled release date for the upcoming animated film featuring the Justice League against their mirror team from another Earth, the Crime Syndicate.   We hope it proves to be an exciting film as we all have been waiting in anticipation for its release.  Newsarama has a clip on its website highlighting the action between the 2 groups.  Take a look and let us know what you think. 

View The Film Clip Here

What other videos are you hoping to see?

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Who Is Your Favorite Superhero?

What a great question for discussion.  I cannot wait to hear from the rest of you.  Certainly there are a lot of favorites out there such as Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Wolverine, Green Lantern, Captain America, Iron Man and more.  The subject of  favorite Comic Book hero is quite sensitive to some.  In conversations and in listening to conversations I have found that some are quite opinionated over who is the best, the most powerful, who would beat whom on any given day.  The latter has been the theme of some storylines like The Hulk vs Wolverine, JLA vs The Avengers, Hulk vs Thing, Batman vs Superman, etc.  Of course we know it's all in fun and that is an aspect of what makes comic books fun, at least for me.  I love the characters, the stories and the possibilities.  So who is my favorite superhero?

When I was a teenager and began reading comics I quickly became a Batman fan.  I had Batman painted on my wall and had all sorts of Batman memorabilia and collectibles, some of which I still own.  I loved Batman because he is dark.  He is human.  He is a guy just like the rest of us.  He has no superpowers, no alien strength, no power ring, no genetic alterations, no super serum or any of that stuff.  He is just a rich guy who has the money to fund his heroism.  Batman is believable because we can all see ourselves doing what he does, if we had the money and the training.  What makes Batman even more special is that he is a genius an avid student.  He thinks his way through things and plans well in advance for all the possibilities.  He can examine another's weakness and then exploit if necessary.  Let's face it, Batman is just plain cool!

For that same reason I became a Green Arrow fan.  He, like Batman, is believable and is just a normal guy.  He believes in what he does, works to perfect his talent and has the bankroll to back it up.  Plus, who doesn't like green and archery.  Most of us as kids, especially guys, enjoyed the fantasy and medieval worlds in which archery played a big role.  Robin Hood easily comes to mind.  Some of us may have even had a bow of some kind with which we played.  It was possible to be Green Arrow and certainly he is still a fan favorite today.  Let's face it, Green Arrow is just cool!

As I got older, however, my favorite hero changed.  I began to be more involved in comics and my appreciation grew far beyond the story and character development.  I began to appreciate the history of comic books and their role as a fantastic pastime.  I dislike the fact that too many comic books today have become too violent and graphic.  Blood and gore are not necessary to tell a great story.  What bothers me even more is the fact that some of this extreme violence has spilled over even into the stories of  iconic characters.  It simply is not necessary.  I am more of a traditionalist.  I love the history, the art and the hobby of comics.  A hero is one who not only sacrifices himself for the benefit of others but fights to keep himself pure despite what goes on around him and the pressure to be more like an ever growing violent world.  It's for these reasons and others that my favorite superhero is the first superhero of our modern era.  My favorite superhero is...Superman!

Superman represents a wholesome purity.  He was the first of all the superheroes and it was his character that really began all of what we know today.  Superman does not kill, he values life and he works to build up mankind rather than tear it down further.  He accepts his responsibility as a champion of justice.  His very nature is iconic even among other superheroes.  He is respected and his judgment trusted.  He is one who is willing to sacrifice himself for the benefit of the rest, even for those who fail to appreciate him.  I think Alex Ross's depiction of him in Kingdom Come helps drive this idea home.  Although he does not have all the answers, he acknowledges that he has a responsibility to humankind and metahumankind.  One to protect, the other to train.  In the end it's his own love for humanity that wins.

Although not all of the Superman stories written through the years have been great, in fact some I despise, Superman is a hero on which others depend.  He is a stabilizer in storylines and in the industry.  DC Comics has a huge responsibility to take care of this character and that for which he represents.  There is no other character like Superman, at least not in the comic book world.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Who Should Play Steve Rogers in The First Avenger: Captain America?

Casting for any movie, much less a comic book movie, is a challenge.  Finding the right actor to capture an established character is not always as easy, although sometimes it's a given, such as Patrick Stewart for Professor X.  Choosing the right person for Captain America is like choosing who to play the Superman or Anakin Skywalker.  It has to be the right person and looks are not the only factor.  For example, what would Steve Rogers voice sound like?  Will he be built enough?  Is he physically up to the challenge?  Is he believable?

Sometimes an unknown actor is the best choice (Brandon Routh or Hugh Jackman come to mind for their roles).  In other circumstances a popular actor turns out to be perfect (Robert Downey, Jr or Liam Neeson).  With that in mind we have to ask, who could be Steve Rogers, Captain America?

I am not a casting director but I have my opinion as I am sure do many of you .  I have heard some say Brad Pitt, but I respectfully and strongly disagree with this choice.  Brad Pitt is as much Captain America as I am.  He was great in Oceans 11, 12, 13, Legends of the Fall and Benjamin Button, but CAP he ain't.  James Van Der Beek has also been suggested but I don't think his voice or acting style is commanding enough.  Aaron Eckhart?  Maybe.  I could foresee him in this role, but at the same time I think he is too old.  He has the voice, the look and a commanding presence but he shows his age.  If he were a few years younger it might work.  So who could do it?  Here is my opinion.

Major William Lennox, from Transformers, or at least the actor who played him, Josh Duhamel.    Why do I like him?  After watching Transformers I became convinced of his ability to play a commanding role, especially in battle.  Captain America first appeared during World War II and fought the Nazi's.  Therefore, it would only make sense that any actor would have to be able to show leadership in difficult situations.  Making that believable is key.  Josh Duhamel demonstrated he can do that.  He is younger and has the attitude, acting and ability to bring Captain America to life.  Feel free to agree or disagree with me.  In fact, who would you choose?

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Thor Movie Underway!!!

To see comic book characters come alive on the Big Screen has been an exciting thing for comic book fans the world over.  With the creation of new and innovative tools used in the movie industry, the realism of super powers is unbelievable.  With this in mind, many fans of the Marvel Comics Universe have been pleased with such films as Spider-Man, X-Men, Iron Man and others.  Added to this is the fact that Marvel has taken on a more direct role in controlling what goes on in these movie productions and we, as fans, have seen the benefit.  Therefore, it is with great excitement and anticipation that we await the upcoming production of one of Marvel's mightiest heroes, Thor. has reported that shooting on this film has begun and includes an all-star cast including Anthony Hopkins as Odin himself.  Other actors include Renee Russo as Frigga, Ray Stevenson as Volstagg, Jamie Alexander as Sif, Tadanobu Asano as Hogan, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Josh Dallas as Fandrall and many others.  The Mighty Thor will be portrayed by Chris Hemworth as he battles against his evil brother Loki, portrayed by Tom Hiddleston.  With hope we hope all the actors, especially our main ones, will capture the essence of the characters and truly bring them to life on the movie screen.

While the overall plot has been laid out for us (you can read it here), it's the special effects that many are anticipating and other visual aspects of the film.  Powerful lightning strikes, deafening thunderclaps, the power of Mjolnir, Thor's might hammer, being hurled as it's power is unleashed, the superhuman strength of the thunder god being impressively displayed.  It's what fans want and we want it believable.  The days of crappy screenplays, poor special effects, stupid dialog and too much deviation from the original storyline should be things of the past.  Whether that proves true or not will have to wait and be seen.  Until then, this loyal blogger will be waiting see one of Marvel's most powerful heroes come to life.

Until next time...
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