Sad News

Apparently, long-time comics writer Len Wein has died at the age of 69. I’ve read a lot of Wein’s stuff over the years and most of it was pretty good. Of course, he’s probably best known for co-creating Swamp Thing and the All New X-Men, but I remember some of his other work fondly: JLA (he’s the one who brought back the Seven Soldiers of Victory); Batman (with some classic villains); Amazing Spider-Man (where he used plenty of classic baddies like Molten Man, Shocker, Hammerhead, Doc Ock, Silvermane and brought in some new ones, like Will o’ the Wisp and the third Green Goblin). He had  fairly long runs on Incredible Hulk, Thor, Deadman (in Adventure), Green Lantern, and wrote all of the first Blue Beetle series. He also wrote the Legends miniseries, which helped redefine the DCU after the Crisis.

I haven’t read all his stuff, but what I have read I generally like. Wein respected history, but wasn’t afraid to give long-established characters new personality traits. I’ll be reviewing his late 70s/early 80s Batman run next year and I’m looking forward to re-reading those issues; I seem to recall liking them. Len Wein will be missed.

Happy New Year!

Happy GulliverOkay, I know it’s not actually a new year calendar-wise, but blog-wise I’ve finished 1977 and I’m ready to move on to 1978. There were some pretty good stories in ’77 and I think ’78 promises to have even more. Here’s a quick preview of what I’ll be covering for 1978. Basically, I’ll be reviewing the same titles as I did for 1977, with a couple of additions.

Batman, Detective, Brave and the Bold: Bats will be facing some classic villains this year, including Joker (in the famous “Laughing Fish” story), Scarecrow, Mad Hatter, and a new, more deadly version of Clayface.

Superman, Action, DC Presents: Supes takes on some heavy hitters like Brainiac, Parasite, Solomon Grundy, and Amazo. I’m adding DC Comics Presents to my reviews. I read it on and off as a kid and always considered it to be “Superman Team-up” much as B&B is “Batman Team-up”. Only four issues came out in ’78, but it became a monthly by the end of the year.

JLA, LSH, All-Star Comics: In JLA we get the end of Englehart’s run and the beginning of Gerry Conway’s long (five and a half years!) unbroken run as writer. Some cool stories too, with the debut of Ultraa, a Dr. Destiny tale, a JSA team-up versus Lord of Time (with some historical guest stars), and Zatanna joining the League. The Legion deals with the Earth War against the Khunds and Dark Circle, and we say goodbye to the JSA, since All-Star is canceled. More on that in a bit.

Flash, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern: As I mentioned in my 1977 preview, none of these comics was ever a big favourite of mine, but they have their good points. Flash will be taking on Black Hand, Golden Glider, and Heat Wave, among others. GL goes on the road and meets some interesting people, and we finally get back to Earth-1 Wonder Woman stories.

Warlord, Jonah Hex, Black Lightning, Firestorm: What can I say about these three? Travis Morgan continues his quest to return to Shamballah (and Tara), Jonah Hex continues trying to clear his name, and Black Lightning continues the fight against Tobias Whale and the 100. Unfortunately, Black Lightning is also canceled this year.

And I decided to add Firestorm to the list too. I’ve never been a huge fan, but this blog is about reading comics that I’m unfamiliar with, so I figured I may as well check those early issues out. When I (someday) get to the early 80s, I’ll be adding that ongoing Firestorm series to my list, so I guess I should read this one first, as it introduces the character, along with important villains like Killer Frost, Multiplex, and Hyena. It’s by Gerry Conway and Al Milgrom, both of whom I generally like, and it’s only five issues, so what the hell.

Why did Firestorm run only five issues? Well, DC was trying to expand in 1978, but they kind of overextended themselves and were undercut by Marvel. That led to the infamous “DC Implosion”, an ironic nickname given in jest at their earlier “DC Explosion” promotion. So, a bunch of titles, including All-Star Comics, Black Lightning, and Firestorm were canceled. Al Milgrom ended up losing his editorial job too, though he kept providing art (including some really good covers). You can tell by the number of reprints that year that things were a bit chaotic behind the scenes at DC. In fact, Detective Comics was actually supposed to be canceled, but was saved at the last minute by merging it with Batman Family. So from Detective #481 (at the end of 1978) through #495, each issue has at least five different stories. Which means more work for me, I guess.

But I enjoyed reviewing the 1977 comics and I’m thinking I’ll like 1978 even more. There are a lot of cool-looking stories coming up, many of which I’ve never read, so I’m really looking forward to checking them out. As you can see, even Gulliver is excited, though I suspect he’s just anxious to see Titano, the Super-Ape. I hope you’ll join us for the 1978 DC comics reviews, starting Friday … it should be a blast!

Thoughts on Iron Fist

I’ve been watching Iron Fist (through Episode 10 so far) and it’s not absolutely horrible like a lot of the reviews seem to be painting it. It’s slow at times, but overall I think it’s pretty good.

The idea of making Danny Rand Asian-American makes sense and I wouldn’t have had a problem with it, but having seen Lewis Tan—who originally wanted to play Iron Fist—as the drunken master in Episode 8, I think he would be perfect as Shang Chi. I don’t know if Marvel has any plans for Shang Chi, but a series with him as the lead, great supporting characters (Leiko Wu, Black Jack , Reston, Shen Kuei), and villains (Pavane, Fah Lo Suee) would be so cool, and Lewis Tan would be spot on as Shang. He’s even British!

Make it happen, Marvel … make it happen.

What’s new with my writing? Glad you asked.

In my first post, I promised this wouldn’t be a writing blog, and it’s not–for the most part. But I will occasionally post something about my ongoing quest to become a published writer. Feel free to skip these posts if you’re not interested.

Actually, there’s not much to report right now; I sent off another ten queries to agents tonight. My first ten garnered nothing–well, five rejections, but nothing good–so I hope this batch gets me some nibbles at least. Wish me luck!

Comics Review Specifics

In my last post, I mentioned I’d be reviewing some DC comics, starting in January 1977 and working my way forward. Today, I’m going to get more detailed about which comics I’ll be looking at. On Monday, I’ll post my first actual reviews. As I mentioned before, I don’t have time to read every DC comic that came out in 1977, nor would I want to; let’s face it, some of them were crap. So I compromised and picked some popular comics, plus a few that I like or have always wanted to read but never got around to.

I’ll be posting comic reviews every Monday and Friday (Wednesdays are for reviews of the TV show Lost Girl). I’ll do at least two comics reviews in each post, sometimes three (or even four, if need be); these won’t be insanely long, page-by-page reviews … there are already plenty of those to be found online. I’ll summarize the storyline of each issue, then afterwards I’ll add a few observations, under the heading of Noticeable Things (a title I took from that old Missing Persons song “Noticeable One … remember the video for that? Man, Dale Bozzio looked like Lady Gaga’s hotter sister). Some reviews may be longer than others, depending on what I have to say, or how complex the story is, or whatever. I’ll also be including some art from each issue. The reviews will be absolutely overflowing with spoilers, of course.

Continue reading “Comics Review Specifics”

What’s this all about?

As I said in my first post, I’ll be reviewing comics month-by-month, starting in January 1977. Why 1977? It’s the earliest I can remember reading comics, so I figured I’d go back to where I started and read some old favourites, as well as check out some stuff I missed the first time around.

Of course, I can’t review every comic that came out in 1977—I just don’t have the time. So, I had to choose where I wanted to focus, and I ultimately decided to go with DC comics. I read DC and Marvel as a kid and I generally like both, though if pushed I’d probably lean slightly toward Marvel—which is why I’m concentrating on DC for these reviews; I’ve already read 90% of Marvel’s Silver/Bronze Age output. Now, a lot of those are great comics, and I wouldn’t mind reading ’em again, but there are lots of DCs out there that I’ve never read, so I figured why not give ’em a shot? Plus there are already a couple of sites that examine Marvel month-by-month: Marvel University and Supermegamonkey’s Marvel Timeline and I don’t think I can compete with them (nor would I want to).

So, I’ll be reviewing DC comics here … not all of them (again, just don’t have the time); I’ll be concentrating on comics that I either read as a kid, would’ve read if I’d known then what I know now, or should’ve read because they’re staples of the genre. In my next post, I’ll go into which comics I’m reviewing, as well as my review style. I hope you’ll join me as I revisit some classic (and not-so-classic) stories, and discover some new gems that I’d previously overlooked.

(And for the non-comics fans out there, I’ll also be doing reviews of TV shows, starting with Lost Girl. Why? Cause it’s a hell of a good show!)

First!

Yeah, I hate it when people shout “First!” in comment sections too. But in my case it’s true. Not only is this my first post, it’s my first blog. I’m a geek from way back, currently trying to become a published writer. You’re probably thinking “Oh God, not another writer chronicling their journey to publication!” Well, you’re in luck. While I may mention my writing from time to time, this blog will mostly be about comics and other geek stuff (because there aren’t nearly enough blogs about THOSE things).

So welcome to the Erudite Gorilla. I recently decided to go back to my comic book roots, which started around 1977, when I was a kid. I’ll be reviewing a number of comics, starting with those that are cover dated January 1977 and working my way (hopefully) through the years. I’ll also be reviewing episodes of the TV show Lost Girl every Wednesday. I hope you’ll join me and add your two cents from time to time. It should be a lot of fun.

And just what (or who) is the Erudite Gorilla? That would be Gulliver, whose face is plastered across the header. He’ll be popping up from time to time (and if comments get too rowdy, I’ll let him moderate … he has a low tolerance for humans, so everyone better behave). But to kick off the blog, Gulliver has a message for everybody:

Merry Ape-mas

MERRY APE-MAS!