The Second Annual 30 Second Recap Contest!

So long, 2007! It’s been rad!

Yes, in preparations for the Invincible Super-Blog’s Third Awesomeversary, I’m taking the next week off, but to commemorate the occasion, I’m going all out with another end-of-year contest, where you can win Fabulous Prizes!*

That’s right, folks: last year’s contest was so fun that I’m bringing it back, so break out the stick figures and make your own 30 Second Recap of a comic book storyline, in the same vein as my utterly shameless summaries of Infinite Crisis and Civil War!

The rules are simple:

 

1. They don’t necessarily have to be crayon drawings, but some artistic work is necessary..

I’d prefer them to be hand-drawn, but if you don’t have a scanner and knocking something out in MSPaint is more your speed, feel free. Using panel scans or any other published artwork is right out. Lettering can be done by computer or by hand–although obviously, it oughtta be legible–and you can find plenty of free comic book lettering fonts available for download at Nate Piekos’s Blambot website. Use of Comic Sans will be grounds for immediate disqualification.

 

2. Entries can be posted on your own blog, website or reliable image hosting service and linked to in the comments section of this post or, if you don’t have the hosting or just want them to be a surprise, sent to me directly using the email address in the sidebar. Rest assured, I will read and post everything I recieve, so if you’re going to email them to me, try to keep the file size manageable, and make sure to put something like “30 Second Recap Contest” in the subject line.

 

3. Entries should contain no more than eight to ten panels. Brevity is the soul of wit.

 

4. What you choose to recap is up to you and recent stories are fine, but please, don’t do anything that hasn’t actually finished yet. It’s tempting, I know, especially given the inherent comedy of scenes like this…

 

 

…but I’m sure you’ll be able to get through.

Spoilers, of course, will be the order of the day around here once I post these.

 

5. Not only does the art for your entry not have to be good, but by all rights, it should appear hastily done and pretty low-quality. Take as much time with it as you want, but if you can’t get Batroc’s legs to work quite right, don’t sweat it. What matters is that it’s fun.

 

6. There was apparently a little confusion about this one, but just for the record the story you recap doesn’t have to be from the past year. Newer stuff is always fresh on the mind, but if you’ve got a funny idea for Watchmen in ten panels, then go for it.

 

7. Since the ISB’s Third Awesomeversary is Sunday, January 6, the deadline for entries will be Saturday, January 5 at midnight EST. Of course, getting them in earlier will give me more time to look at ‘em, but that ought to give me enough time to deal with down-to-the-wire entries. Especially now that I’ve actually looked at a calendar to come up with that date.

 

And that’s all there is to it! So what do you get if you win?

Well, I’ll be sending you probably just some comics I have laying around an amazing prize package containing:

 

A signed copy of Prism’s 2007 LGBT Guide to Comics, containing three magazine-style quizzes I contributed that you can’t find anywhere else!

A signed copy of the 2007 ISB HeroesCon Special, containing an all-new chapter of The Chronicles of Solomon Stone: Book One: Enter: Solomon: Stone Me Deadly, featuring illustrations by Dave Campbell! And as a bonus, I’ll be including a (terrible) sketch on the back of a character of your choice!

A signed copy of the script for my upcoming FlashBack Universe comic, “So Falls The World!”

And whatever else I can scrounge up and shove in a box to distract you guys from the fact that I’ll be playing Mario Galaxy for the next week instead of writing jokes about ROM.

Now get to it, and I’ll see you next year!

 


 

* – Prizes will not be fabulous or amazing. Although there is a slight chance that they will contain the unfathomably awesome WILD DOG!

Maximum Clonage: The Thrilling Conclusion

And now, your Spidey Super Stories Moment of Joy for tonight: the final chapter of the spine-tingling saga of Spidey vs. Webby:

 

 

 

 

 

Thus, Everything Works Out Okay.

 

And I’ll be honest with you here, folks: That entire series was just an excuse to get to the panel where Dr. Doom shouts “WEBBY! WEBBY-TWO! COME HELP ME!” as that is clearly the finest dialogue the character has ever spoken.

And I can prove it.

With maths.

 


 

BONUS FEATURE: Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of Doom!

 

 

Fan-tastic!

The Mellow Jazz of the Daily Planet

As you probably noticed if you wandered into a comic book store today, the new stuff doesn’t actually come in until tomorrow, which means that the normal Thursday night reviews aren’t exactly forthcoming tonight.

Instead, and you’ll pardon me if this is a little self-indulgent, but why don’t we take a look at another album from my prodigious collection of vintage vinyl?

 

 

Ah yes. Who can forget that magical summer when a budding cub reporter took some time off to record the soulful songs that would rock the charts and capture the spirit of a generation, with hits like “Small-Time Kandor,” “My Blues,” “Watchin’ All The Signals,” and of course, the peppy dance tune “Chief!”

Which track was your favorite?

Christmas Spectacular: A Very Kirby Christmas!

It probably goes without saying, but given that I try to update the ISB every day, I rarely have any idea what I’m going to be writing about until I actually sit down to do it. Tonight, though, things are a little different.

Yes, with Christmas Eve finally upon us and the magic of the season in full swing, it’s time for something that I’ve been planning on covering since December 26th of last year. Ladies and gentlemen, prepare yourselves for all-out awesome, because tonight belongs to…

 

 

THE SEAL MEN’S WAR ON SANTA CLAUS!

 

…by Michael Fleisher and–wait for it–Jack Kirby.

Originally created to be the story in 1976′s Sandman #7, this one was shelved when the series was canceled and eventually saw print six years later as part of the all-Christmas Best of DC Digest #22, and while that issue predates my own birth by about eight months, I think it’s safe to say that this comic was made for the ISB.

I mean, just look at that opening panel: It’s a Christmas comics starring Santa Claus where someone’s punching out an animal while being menaced by bears, and it’s drawn by Jack Kirby. With the exception of a car battery, that’s everything I like about comics all thrown into one!

So here’s how it all happens: It all starts on Christmas Eve morning, when young Jed’s sent out into a blizzard by his reasonably horrible guardians so that he can try to get a contribution to the Christmas fund from alleged miser Titus Gottrox. As it turns out, though, Gottrox–who at first appears to be a villain in the classic tradition of Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life–isn’t all that bad of a guy, and once Jed explains his position…

 

 

…Gottrox offers to donate a cool million bucks to the charity on the condition that Jed proves the existence of Santa Claus before midnight.

Despite the fact that Gottrox is pretty confident that Jed won’t be able to deliver–although he mentions as an aside that he’ll make some sort of contribution anyway–the fact that Jed’s so eager to run off and return with the proof spooks his nephew Rodney, who resolves to follow Jed and keep him from endangering his future inheritance.

Jed, however, has a bit of an ice up his sleeve to ward off any of Rodney’s shenanigans, and with one toot of his magic whistle, the Sandman appears to help out!

 

 

And this, for the record, is where it starts to get crazy.

So, fortunately for Jed, the Sandman and Santa are pals “from way back,” and one quick trip through the ejector tube sends them straight for the North Polar region of the Dream Stream, where the Nightmare Wizard loans them a flying sled, and seriously, you guys? That’s the craziest sentence I’ve ever typed.

 

 

Meanwhile, Rodney stumbles across Jed’s whistle and uses it to trick the Sandman’s dimwitted sidekicks, the aptly named Brute and Glob, into helping him follow. Owing to the fact that he’s almost devoured by the Nightmare Wizard’s man-eating tree Samantha, however, he’s unable to catch up with them before they finally reach Santa’s workshop.

And that’s probably for the best, considering that Jed and the Sandman are immediately set upon by highly aggressive, hammer-toting elves, who are a bit on edge because–get ready for it–Santa has been kidnapped by the Seal Men.

Clearly, this aggression cannot stand, and after deciding that they are in fact bad enough dudes to save Santa Claus, Jed and the Sandman set off to the land of the Seal Men, where they’re promptly bonked on the head and thrown into a dungeon. It’s pretty much exactly what they expected to happen, so once they find Santa, the Sandman quickly melts the wall with his magic whistle.

Just how the Sandman’s magic whistle melts the wall is never satisfactorily explained, but honestly, if we’re going to start nitpicking here, we’ll never get anywhere with this one.

Oh, and as it turns out, Santa’s kind of a jerk:

 

 

…but I think we can chalk that up to his extended imprisonment. Regardless, he quickly gets back to his jolly old self once he gets the opportunity to out his aggression on his captors:

 

 

 

Of course, seeing as it’s Santa we’re talking about, he’s happier talking his problems out than fighting over them, and the reason for their aggression is finally revealed after the Sandman just comes right out and asks the Seal Men “What’s wrong with you people, anyway?! Why are you so determined to sabotage Christmas?”

They’re mad, of course, because they’ve been denied a Merry Christmas, thanks to a series of truly horrible gifts:

 

 

I think we can all sympathize.

Of course, as Jed points out, it’s all just a misunderstanding, and when you’re dealing with an operation designed to deliver toys to every child in the world in one night, these little mix-ups are bound to happen. Santa promises to correct the problem and exchange the gifts, the Seal Men promise not to be so mean anymore, and everyone resolves to have the Merriest Christmas their little hearts will allow.

Well, everyone except Rodney that is, who’s holding Mrs. Claus at gunpoint back at the workshop, but since it takes the Sandman and Santa all of three panels to deal with that little threat, I think we’re safe skipping right over it. Besides, we’ve got to get back to the original point which, if you’ll remember, was proving Santa’s existence to Old Mr. Gottrox! And what better way to do that than with a visit from the Big Guy himself?

 

 

And remember he does! Thus, Jed gets the million for charity, the Seal Men get their presents sorted out, Gottrox gets to fly Santa’s sleigh…

 

 

…the Sandman gets one last issue before he’s kicked back to cancellation, and, perhaps most importantly, we all get exactly the kind of Christmas special you’d expect from the man who brought us all those wonderful stories and horrible dreams.

And really, aren’t those what Christmas is all about?

 

 

Christmas Special: Yes, Virginia!

Since this is our third Christmas here on the ISB, it’s probably become pretty apparent that I’ve got something of a soft spot for holiday specials. In fact, along with Abe Lincoln covers, Christmas comics are one of the few things that I’ll actually go out of my way to collect regardless of quality, which is why I’m the proud owner of both Dan Fraga’s Santa the Barbarian and the bottomlessly awful Warrior Christmas Special, by the ex-pro wrestler / lunatic of the same name.

But it’s not all bad, and it’s in that spirit that tonight, I’m throwing the spotlight onto what is, without question, my favorite Christmas comic of all time.

Is it the best holiday special? Well, that’s still up for debate, and for sheer beautiful storytelling, you’d be hard-pressed to beat Alan Brennert and Dick Giordano’s “Should Auld Acquaintance Be Forgot,” starring Deadman, from 1988′s Christmas With the Super-Heroes #2, which never fails to bring a tear to the eye on its annual reading. It’s fantastic, and if you don’t already own it, well, there’s still a couple of days left to experience it at the proper time of year.

But it’s not my favorite, and if this one’s not the best, it’s certainly a close second.

 

Coming from the pages of 2005′s Marvel Holiday Special–reprinted for your convenience in handy digest format–this story isn’t just my favorite Christmas comic, it’s my favorite Jeff Parker comic. And considering that that guy knocked out Agents of Atlas AND the best Avengers story ever in the same year, that’s saying something.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you…

 

 

YES, VIRGINIA, THERE IS A SANTRON!

 

And with a title like that, how could it not be awesome?

So here’s the rundown: It’s the Avengers’ annual Christmas party, and seeing as it takes place between the start of New Avengers and the beginning of Civil War, everybody who’s anybody (plus the eternal hanger-on that is Wonder Man) is in the house. Specifically, it’s Dr. Strange’s house, and despite the fact that everyone and their manservant are being total jerks to Greg “Gravity” Willis…

 

 

…the party’s in full swing, complete with radio-controlled mistletoe steered over Spider-Woman’s head so that she’s obligated by holiday tradition to make out with every single male member of the team in turn.

 

 

Man. Remember back when Iron Man used his powers for petty mischief and good-natured sexual harassment, before he embraced crypto-fascism as a means to solve his problems? Ah, the good ol’ days.

Also awesome: Luke Cage’s (Sweet) Christmas Sweater. Nothing more need be said about its wondrous majesty.

Meanwhile, across town, there’s a young woman named Virgie Hanlon–an electronics genius who had been emotionally traumatized when she was eight by classmates who told her there was no such thing as Santa Claus–has just finished working on a project of her own that will keep other children from experiencing such a horrible fate:

 

 

ROBOT SANTA.

 

And right there is the moment this comic officially becomes awesome. But it only gets better from there.

Unfortunately, once Virgie activates her ersatz Kris Kringle, there’s a slight bug in the programming that she didn’t anticipate:

 

 

Thus, Robot Santa, complete with rocket-sled and holographic reindeer, sets off to kill the Avengers. This story could stop right here and be in the top ten holiday comics of all time, but Parker and Brown still have seventeen pages to rock.

Needless to say, it doesn’t take long for the cybernetic Father Christmas to track the Avengers down to the Sanctum Sanctorum and start blasting everyone with a neural disruptor, which is slightly more severe than getting a lump of coal in your sock. Of course, once Wolverine shows up to stab Santa Claus with his adamantium claws–thus proving that Canada holds nothing sacred–the truth is finally revealed, and the fact that we all probably figured it out from the story title alone doesn’t keep it from being awesome:

 

 

For you see, Santa… is actually Ultron, the megalomaniacal robot bent on genocide that has somehow yet to get Hank Pym booted out of the Avengers once and for all.

Thus, the Avengers throw down with their deadliest enemy in Dr. Strange’s living room–all while Aunt May is baking in the next room with Mary Jane and Jessica Jones–until Spider-Man figures out Santron’s one secret weakness…

 

 

…and once again, the day is saved… with SCIENCE!

Under normal circumstances, the story would end there, but once the heroes figure out what Virgie Hanlon was doing with one of Ultron’s bodies in the first place, they find her, stop her from turning herself into the police, and bring her to the party. And that’s where this story truly becomes great

Virgie’s pretty bummed out by the fact that she was brainwashed by an evil robot that took advantage of her childlike faith in Santa Claus, and ask if the Avengers think she’s nuts for holding onto the idea for so many years. And what follows is a sequence that, well, you probably oughtta just read for yourselves:

 

(Click for larger images)

 

 

Oh man. You guys’ll have to excuse me for a minute, it’s… uh… a little dusty in here.

(Sniff)

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Friday Night Fun: The Revenge of Calamity James!

With the unstoppable Devourer of Funk taking a two-week break from Friday Night Fights and only three shopping days ’til Christmas, maybe it’s time to turn away from the punching and have a little fun!

 

 

 

 

 

Calamity’s fun with the year’s most hard-to-find console–and judging by a similar scene in Irredeemable Ant-Man, the semi-official game system of Marvel Comics–can be found in The Order #4, by Matt Fraction and Barry Kitson.