Saturday, June 09, 2012

Toy Spotlight: Aurora Sci-Fi Models!

Hope you're not tired of models being in the spotlight yet!

Aurora did two Land of the Giants models -- one was the diorama seen above (with a much-customized version below)...

...and the other was of the Spindrift, seen above! The Spindrift was continued to be made after the show was off the air.


OK, I'm just going to out-and-out say it: Great cartoon shows are getting cut down too soon in their runs.

Now, I'm specifically referring to cartoons based on comic books right now, because that's pretty much about the only new cartoons I watch anymore. Oh, and I'm going to focus on DC cartoons, because about the only Marvel cartoon that I'm aware of right now is the Super Hero Squad Show, and only 40 episodes of that aired on Cartoon Network (although apparently, 12 more episodes were made and aired on other channels). Oh, and just for the record, the 1967 Spider-Man had 52 episodes.

The various incarnations of Super Friends had 109 episodes (and don't forget, many of those were hour-long episodes).

The original version of the Bruce Timm "Batman" cartoon lasted 85 episodes, and had another 24 episodes as "The New Batman Adventures." So about 109 episodes.

Batman Beyond, which could almost be seen as an extension of that series, lasted 52 episodes.

Superman: The Animated Series had 54 episodes. Heck, the Filmation Superman series had 68 episodes!

Batman: The Brave and the Bold? 65 episodes (although it doesn't even feel like they aired that many).

Justice League had 52 episodes plus 39 episodes of Justice League Unlimited (i.e., 97 episodes).

The Legion of Superheroes TV series, sadly, only had 26 episodes.

Teen Titans had 65 episodes.

So yeah, these days it seems that 65 is the magic number at which they end shows. It doesn't matter how popular they are, they're just going to end them. What's really stupid about this is that often, it's in the final season before there's much merchandising done!

And none of this seems like enough... I know I wanted more of all of the above shows!

OK, let's look at it another way: Every single one of those shows were based on comics that ran for years and years and years, so it wasn't as if there weren't stories to adapt, right?

So, you want to know what torques me off even more about how often these shows get cut off? Let's look at Scooby freaking Doo... between the various shows featuring him (and not including Laff-A-Lympics, mind you), there's been to date a staggering 324 episodes of various Scooby shows, combined! Oh, I know, that's short of the Simpsons' 500 episodes, but that's not aired primarily with kids as the target audience.

I think it's idiotic that the network and studio execs have come up with such an arbitrary number, don't you?

Friday, June 08, 2012

Goverment Comics!

Here's a classic Cold War comic for you to peruse!

The Indexible Hulk #25!

Tales to Astonish 069Issue: Tales to Astonish #69

Title: “Trapped in the Lair of the Leader!”

Credits: Written by Stan Lee, Penciled by Jack Kirby, Inked by Mike Esposito (as Mickey Demeo), Lettered by Art Simek.

Supporting Cast: General Ross, Major Talbot, Rick Jones

Villain: The Leader

Hulk Intelligence: Angry Brute, But Well-Intentioned

Guest-Stars: None

Plot: Gassed by the Leader's Humanoids last issue, the Hulk is the unconscious captive of the Leader! The Humanoids put the limp Hulk into the Leader's ship, which landed on Astra Island to pick him up, while other Humanoids load up the Absorbatron, which will keep anyone safe from nuclear attack. Off the shore of Astra Island, on the deck of a battleship, General Ross sees the Humanoids through binoculars and calls off the test of the Absorbatron, and orders a landing party to investigate. Before they can land, however, the Leader sprays his Humanoids with a special acid gas that instantly dissolves them into nothingness (I guess he didn't want them walking back underwater?). The Leader then leaves with the Hulk and the Absorbatron! Seconds later, the landing party arrives and finds Major Talbot, who fears the worst when he hears that a strange craft just left the island. When it's mentioned that the Hulk was seen on Astra Island, took, Talbot is convinced that Banner and the Hulk are working together. Meanwhile, the Leader's ship arrives at his base, hidden in a mesa in the southwest. The Leader places the Hulk in an airtight chamber, keeping him gassed just enough to keep him out while his instruments scan the Hulk. However, the Hulk's skin is too tough for the Leader's instruments, so he gets different instruments from a lower level. While he's gone, the Hulk turns back into Bruce Banner again, and Bruce awakens instantly (oh, there's some babble about why the gas that knocked out the Hulk doesn't affect Banner, but why quibble?) and sees that the Leader has the Absorbatron. Banner quickly modifies some of the lab equipment to send out a distress signal. Meanwhile, at Ross' base, Ross and Talbot ponder their next move, overheard by Rick Jones. Rick heads to the hidden cave lab, where he discovers the radio there (still working!) receiving Bruce's SOS. Within the hour, Ross, Talbot and a few platoons of soldiers are also following the signal! Inside the Leader's base, the Leader sees that the Hulk is not on the table (Bruce is hiding off to the side), but since the Hulk couldn't have escaped, the Leader decides to pump in a double-strength dose of sleep gas, which somehow causes Bruce to change back into the Hulk! The Hulk breaks out of the cell, and the Leader runs to fetch his molecule ray, which he believes will stop the Hulk, but the best he can do is graze the Hulk. The Hulk, meanwhile, recognizing the Absorbatron, decides to destroy it rather than risk the Leader keeping it. As the Leader escapes on an underground rocket sled, the soldiers invade the base, and assume that the Hulk is responsible for all of this, and they open fire! Rick bursts onto the scene, demanding that they not shoot Bruce, but they won't listen, so Rick breaks free and searches for his friend. But seconds later, Rick finds that the soldiers have already found Bruce (apparently he changed back from the Hulk), and he was fatally shot. Talbot announces that Bruce Banner, the traitor, is dead.

Invention Exchange: The Leader's acid gas and molecular gun (which hits the target with the power of a trillion concentrated molecules).

Reprinted In: Marvel Super-Heroes #32, The Incredible Hulk (Simon and Schuster, 1978), Essential Hulk #1.

Notes: Adapted as episode 14 of the 1966 Hulk animated series. Avengers #17 takes place simultaneously with this issue, as the Avengers (now Cap's Kooky Quartet of Captain America, the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye) are enjoined by Iron Man to seek out the Hulk to get the brute to rejoin the team. This was the last issue of Tales to Astonish that featured Giant-Man with the Hulk, as the following issue Sub-Mariner took over the co-billing. Now, so far as this issue goes... I have a feeling that when Stan and Jack talked about the issue, some of the original details might've gotten a bit confused. Certainly, when the Hulk gets gassed, he tends to change back to Bruce... but there's no reason that Bruce wouldn't have been affected by the gas! And then a second, double-dose of gas not only changes him back to the Hulk and lets the Hulk stay conscious? Still, there was a lot happening in this issue – the Hulk himself barely appears, compared to the Leader!

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

MST3K: Season One, Episode Three!

This time around, the featured movie is "Mad Monster"! In the opening of the show, the Mads are in Deep 13 (as usual), with Larry complaining to Dr. Forrester about when he became a mad scientist, as opposed to just a regular scientist. Forrester then tells his story. They then call Joel and the bots for the invention exchange!

This time, Joel's got a purse for women who are tired of getting their purse snatched! It looks like an ordinary handbag, but when it's opened, it burst into flames -- hell in a handbag! The Mads have come up with an acetylene powered "thunder lizard" (i.e., Godzilla), which advances on plastic army men with actual flames coming out of his mouth!

Next, it's movie sign, and another installment of "Radar Men From the Moon" (which Larry mistakenly refers to as "Rocket Men on the Moon"). Gags told during this include Crow pointing it out stars the same people as last time, Joel and the bots trying to move out of the way of the opening titles at the bottom of the screen, lots of gag references to what the alien weapons might be called (one time it's a "cheese pistol"), Tom complaining about what they didn't show in the last chapter that shows how Commando Cody escaped death, Joel quoting "You'll believe a man can fly," a Ron and Nancy joke when someone says the word "ray-gun" (since, of course, it sounds like "Reagan"), Crow jokes about the mouthpiece on the helmets looking like Groucho's mustache, a joke about Caesar's Palace, Joel jokes about the overacting, during a fight scene Joel tries to tell Commando Cody (who's wearing his helmet) to headbutt his opponent, and Crow pointing out the various obvious Earth items in the lab of the moon aliens.

After the chapter, back in the control room, Tom Servo meets a blender, and he starts flirting with it! Joel then shows up and turns the blender on to finish making his smoothie, and he drinks it -- which of course gets Tom angry at him! Joel finally tells Tom it's a blender, not a girl robot.

madmonster_posterNext, the movie starts! During the first segment, gag topics include the usual making fun of the credits (this time because of the odd angle the credits are presented in), Wile E. Coyote, Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, V-8 Juice, Shemp Howard of the Three Stooges, "Rock-a-Bye Baby," Fred Travelena, Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Asimov, Amish farmers, the Quaker Oats man, Cornelius from "Planet of the Apes," and baldness cures... and that's just in the first two or three minutes of the movie! From there, gags are made based on The Wizard of Oz (a common gag source for MST3K, this time based on the flying monkeys), William S. Burroughs, Gale Gordon (Lucy's boss on the second Lucy show), Col. Potter from M*A*S*H, Republicans, the Pentagon, A Christmas Carol, Of Mice and Men, Judy Garland, The Munsters, Fred Gwynne, Alan Brady from "The Dick Van Dyke Show," Flowers for Algernon, "Planet of the Apes" again, Frosty the Snowman (the TV special), Chuck Wagon Dog Food, Gilligan's Island (another show they liked to make references to a lot), Shirley Temple, Fantastic Voyage, The Beverly Hillbillies (singing a modified version of the theme song, very funny), Whistler's Mother, another Wizard of Oz gag (told you it was a common gag source), Hee Haw, another Gilligan's Island joke, and Ed Sullivan.

madmonster_still3At the second break, the Bots ask Joel if the werewolf in the movie is eating his victims or just mauling them. Joel points out that back then, most violence was implied. Crow asks about the weight gain of werewolves after eating people! Tom asks if the werewolf's human form is a vegetarian, what happens? After a while, the questions get more and more bizarre (like if an animal's been turned into a human being).

madmonster_still1In the second act of the film, gag references include Johnny Cash, Harvey Fierstein, Blondie (or rather, Dagwood), The Far Side, Bayer Aspirin, the Addams Family, the SPCA, Lorenzo Lamas, Cheech & Chong (although you wouldn't know it unless you got the reference), Andy Griffith, Sid Vicious, Green Eggs & Ham and other Dr. Seuss books, Rawhide, James Cagney, Jaws, Ring Around the Roses, Victor Mature, Paula Abdul, another Beverly Hillbillies reference, Tom Waits, and Doonesbury.

In the third break, Joel's swapped the heads of Crow and Tom around! Tom is turned back on first, and isn't happy about it -- and then Crow is reactivated, and makes a reference to "The Incredible Two-Headed Transplant". The two bots argue between each other, Joel trying to calm them down. Suddenly, Tom and Crow start thinking alike, speaking at the same time, making Joel regret this experiment! So Joel turns them off, presumably to swap heads back.

madmonster_still2Third act of the film, and the gags are based on Mel Blanc, Hoyt Axton, wrestling, Art Linkletter and Niagara Adjustable Beds, the Smothers Brothers, Let's Make a Deal, Mystery Date, Frosted Mini-Wheats, "stop, drop and roll" and "duck and cover," and Gone With the Wind.

madmonster_still4After the movie, everybody needs to say a good thing and bad thing to get their RAM chips, but the bots start off making jokes about if when the werewolf dies, do you call a coroner or a veterinarian, and other jokes like that. When Joel threatens not to give them their chips, Gypsy appears, and suddenly, Tom and Crow start to try to earn their chips but then start arguing. They get into some metaphysical discussions about why Joel built Gypsy, and things get odder from there! Finally, Joel asks the Mads what they think, but the Mads are sad because the scientist in the movie died, and Dr. Forrester pushes the button.

So far as the movie itself, it wasn't as bad as last episode's movie, but still, it's not great! Joel and the Bots are in better form now, getting more of a flow of gags than the first two episodes (although by the end of the film, the gags from them are getting fewer and further between). I especially enjoyed the parody version of the Beverly Hillbillies theme! A good running gag during the movie was when a character would just be sitting around silently, Joel would yell out, "Line! Line!"

Comic Book Ads!

Time for another crop of comic book ads to check out!
First up this time around is this back cover ad from Mighty Samson #30 (and many other comics), and I believe this was the second or third of Kenner's ads for this series. Did you know that this was Kenner's first action figure line, ever? I'm not sure who did the artwork for this, but they did a pretty good job of capturing Lee Majors' look (not so great a job at depicting the actual figure, though).

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Kirby Kovers!

First up in this installment of Kirby Kovers, it's Journey into Mystery #107, with Thor meeting the Grey Gargoyle for the first time! I dunno, this doesn't strike me as being up to Jack's usual standards for the era -- Thor is awkwardly positioned, and out of proportion, too (compare his head to his feet). It's definitely Kirby's work, but he must've been having an off day or something.

Cover Redux!

It's time for Cover Redux, and first up, we have the cover to Amazing Spider-Man #135 and the reprint in Marvel Tales #112! Now, looking at these covers side-by-side, it looks as though the two covers differ only in that the original was enlarged slightly, and some of the coloring is different. The expressions on Harry Osborn, Mary Jane Watson, and Liz Allen appear slightly different, but I think that's mostly due to Marvel using a Stat (the musculature on Spidey seems different, too, but I think that's another stat issue).

Monday, June 04, 2012

Monster Stuff!

First thing for you this week are these vintage newspaper ads, mostly for The Ghost of Frankenstein!

CBT: Planet of the Apes Activity Book!

Planet of the Apes Activity Book 0200001
Titled the same, with probably many of the same pictures, but it's a "different" book than last time!

Sunday, June 03, 2012

It Oughtta Be...

bewitched01...a series of trade paperbacks, or maybe even hard covers!
What the heck am I talking about? TV comics. You know, those comic books that were based on TV series, mostly published by Dell or Gold Key, but sometimes also Charlton.

dellgiant41bradybunch01I've had this idea for years and years... start an imprint called "TV Comics" that exists just to collect these books. Oh, I know the majority of them aren't really that great, but on the other hand, some of these books are staying out of my price range, and I'd like to have a chance to read them some day. Plus, most of these shows have fans who are running out of things to collect about them.

fourcolor1040Now, I will admit, some of the comics don't really have enough issues to get an entire volume done (I mean, how many one or two issue series were there, right?), so maybe some would be tossed in as bonuses, or perhaps they could be themed (such as a Filmation collection). I don't think the rights to publish these would be that expensive to get, either -- some may be more expensive than others, sure.

getsmart1But just think about how could it would be if you had a single volume book on your shelf with all of Dell's Monkees or Bewitched comic book. Or maybe just Gold Key's Battle of the Planets. Whatever your favorite TV show of the past was, there may have been a comic series that you've never read.

I think the most likely publisher out there to tackle this would be Dark Horse, so consider this getting your attention, people!
outerlimits01By the same token, I don't know why the heck DC hasn't gotten on the ball and started doing similar reprints of all the Looney Tunes and Hanna-Barbera comics that've been published! There's a market for these things, especially if they can keep the price points decent.

And whoever has the Disney license these days should really step it up there, too!
Like I said, I'd love to have these -- it would be even better if some collections had comics from multiple publishers, just so you could compare them.

Dog of the geek: Seymour!

seymourBreed: Mixed breed

Original Appearances: Futurama episode “Jurassic Bark”

Other Appearances: DVD movie Bender's Big Score

Biography: In New York City, in the year 1997, Philip J. Fry, a pizza delivery guy, found a hungry dog wandering around outside of Panucci's, the pizza store he worked for. Fry befriended the dog, giving him a slice of pizza and naming him Seymour. For two years, Fry and Seymour were inseparable, and Fry even taught Seymour how to bark the song “Walking on Sunshine.” On December 31, 1999, when Fry was accidentally put into suspended animation, Seymour led Fry's family to the cryogenics lab, but they didn't see Fry, so they dragged Seymour away. Seymour waited outside of Panucci's for Fry's return, never giving up hope. Now here's where it gets interesting – in the episode that introduced Seymour, we find out about him because Fry found Seymour's petrified body in the future, and his distant relative, Professor Farnsworth, offers to clone a new Seymour for him. However, when the professor's computer indicated that Seymour lived for 12 years after Fry was frozen, Fry decided to abort the cloning, because he figured that Seymour lived another life with someone else, and wouldn't even remember Fry any more. But we were shown that Seymour never stopped waiting. But as shown in Bender's Big Score, a time clone of Fry stayed in the past for 12 years, and spent time with Seymour, who apparently never knew the difference.

Powers: None

Group Affiliation: None

Miscellaneous: Seymour's devotion to Fry parallels that to Argos, Odysseus' dog. Seymour's full name was actually “Seymour Asses,” apparently. Seymour's voice was provided by Frank Welker.