Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Covering The Covers part 2

So, last time out in my look at famous comic covers and the subsequent homages/pastiches/rip offs, I looked at a couple of famous Superman and Spider-Man covers. This time out, my focus is on one group, and one group only, the ever Uncanny X-Men. Let's start with possibly the most famous X-Men cover of all time. Unlike many (though not all) characters, it isn't there first appearance. Arguably, and with apologies to the famous Jack Kirby pencilled X-Men #1 from 1963, you'd have to look at the 1975 relaunch, and Giant-Size X-Men #1.

This iconic cover, featuring the All New, All Different team bursting through the cover to the surprise of the original X-Men, has been riffed on many times, often by the X-Men themselves, be it to promote a line-up change, as in Uncanny X-Men #254

Or X-Men #70.

One striking version of the cover was used for X-Men: Deadly Genesis issue #1, which went back to Giant-Size X-Men #1 and showed us that, maybe, not everything was what we thought it was.

The X-Men aren't the only team of mutants in the Marvel universe though, and sometimes, some of their lesser known fellows want to get in on the act. Witness this cover from Excalibur #45 featuring the N-Men.

Or X-Statix, the team once known as X-Force, in their own Giant-Size relaunch.

Even DC wanted a piece of the X-Pie, with Justice League Europe #35.

Once again, as with Amazing Spider-Man issue #50, one of my favourite takes on it is back with Marvel themselves, choosing to subvert the image for What If... #35.

Of course, there are piss takes too, from Futurama Comics #8,

Or PVP issue #0.

Hell, even the X-Men themselves wanted a go with X-Men #46.

But what about the aforementioned X-Men #1?

Just because it's maybe not as iconic as Giant-Size X-Men #1, doesn't mean it hasn't been referenced it's fair share of times, by the second generation of X-Men on the cover of Classic X-Men #12,

By the Fantastic Four on the cover of Marvel Knights 4 #24,

By Excalibur (again) from The Mighty Thor #427,

And even the Autobots from this New York Comic Con exclusive cover to Transformers #12.

One of the all time classic X-Men covers is the one from Uncanny X-Man #141, which was part one of the classic Days Of Future Past storyline.

This iconic cover has been riffed on by the New X-Men in issue #26 of their own comic.

In researching this blog, I also came across this image. Apologies, but I couldn't locate where it was from. Still, this guy needs no introduction, right?

There are, of course, further piss takes, such as Alpha Flight #9 (which also riffed on the title, being Days Of Future Present, Past Participle part 1).

And, if we're talking piss taking, then there's one guy who's bound to have an appearance at least once an entry in this series of blogs. Yep, here's Deadpool #7.

My favourite take on Uncanny X-Men #141 though? It has to be this wonderful, and most unexpected, version from Star Wars Insider #7.

To be continued...

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Covering the Covers part 1

We all like covers, right? Not all of them, obviously, some of them are shit. Still, there's some pretty good ones out there. But can you cover a cover? Of course you can. You all know I'm talking about comics, right? Yep, some of the all time classic covers have, for want of a better word, been covered on other comics over the years.

Call it a homage, a spoof, a blatant rip-off, whatever you like, it's been done again and again, and sometimes to quite wonderful effect. Here's some examples.

We all know this image, right?

Yep, it's only Action Comics #1, from 1938, featuring the first appearance of Superman. Pretty cool, huh? It's an iconic image, with the Man of Steel stopping some crooks by lifting their car over his head and trashing it. It immediately lets you know who Superman is, and just looks awesome. It's been riffed on a few times, including once in a much later issue of Action Comics itself. Action Comics is DC's second longest running title (after Detective Comics), and Superman has been the star for the vast majority of that time. For a long while, the comic was billed as Superman in Action Comics. Then Supes only went and got himself killed by Doomsday during 1992's Death of Superman storyline. During the Funeral For A Friend story arc which followed, Action Comics was given over to Supergirl. Her first issue as the title star was celebrated thusly...

Other Superman comics have riffed on Action Comics #1 too. Remember when Mr Majestic started appearing in Superman's books? Here's the cover to Superman #201 from 2004.

Then there's this fun take from 2000's Tales of the Bizarro World #9.

Hell, it was even featured in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns movie.

Of course, many other characters have played on Action Comics #1 iconic status including, bizarrely, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in this cover from season 8, issue #32, which even features a Joss Whedon cameo.

However, my favourite take on the Action Comics #1 cover, aside from the original? Has to be 1988's Amazing Spider-Man issue #305.

Speaking of Spider-Man, his own first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 features a pretty iconic cover, huh?

Besides Spidey himself covering the cover in Amazing Spider-Man #252 to introduce his new black costume,

Or in Stan Lee Meets The Amazing Spider-Man,

Or even in Marvel Zombies issue #1,

There are a few other characters who've had a crack at it. Here's Hardcase #24.

Spidey's alternate reality daughter, May Parker, let her dad join her for this homage from Amazing Spider-Girl #0.

And then of course, there's Deadpool, who took his own crack at it in Deadpool #11.

Deadpool was given a second chance, on the cover of Deadpool: Suicide Kings issue #4, but after the last time, they weren't leaving him unsupervised.

Of course, there's every chance that the cover to Amazing Fantasy #15 is itself a homage. Look at this cover to Detective Comics issue #27, featuring the first appearance of Batman. Look familiar?

There's another Spider-Man cover which I want to touch on briefly. Remember the classic Amazing Spider-Man #50, in which Peter Parker gave up being Spider-Man?

Well, this has been done several times since, including Howard the Duck #19,

And Bartman #4.

My personal favourite though? This elegantly simple reversal from Amazing Spider-Man #392.

To be continued...

Friday, 11 February 2011

Who's Your Billentine? You Are, Dumbass

So, St. Valentine's Day is almost upon us once again. I shall not be celebrating it, once again. I could go into why, could go into how I don't need reminding this will be my twenty-ninth February fourteenth as a single man out of twenty-nine, could discuss how it's a crock of shit as if you really love someone, you don't need one day a year set aside to show it, could go on at length how I'm still incredibly bitter and cynical when it comes to love thanks to what that hateful bitch did to me and how I hope she... Um... *achem*... I could even once more point out that it's actually a celebration of wolf fucking, or... Well, something along those lines.

I'm not gonna do that though. Two reasons. Reason the first, I think I've kinda drained the well on that the last few years. Reason the second, I just don't care any more. Seriously, I'm even bored of being pissed of with Valentines. What good does it do? I just get depressed, start drinking, order a takeaway and watch a film, probably one involving many explosions and as little in the way of romance as is humanly possible.

So, what's this blog about then? An alternative. Two years ago, my good friend, co-writer on Stiffs, former housemate and ex-closest-thing-to-a-girlfriend-Paddy-has, one Drew Davies, and I decided that, as single people, we deserved a day dedicated to our good, single, lonely, cynical and desperately pathetic selves. We deserved presents too. Why not? So that's what we did. February fourteenth may be for the loved up and sickly types, but February fifteenth? We've claimed that. February fifteenth has become St. Bill's Day.

St. Bill's Day is the day when all those who don't want to celebrate Valentines, for whatever reason, be you single or otherwise, can celebrate themselves. How do you celebrate? Simple. You have a day for you. You buy yourself a present. Forget the card, that would be weird, but definitely spend some money on something you want. You'll know it's a gift you're going to keep, 'cos who knows you better than you? My St. Bill's Day routine usually consists of present, alcohol, takeaway and a film, probably one involving many explosions and as little in the way of romance as is humanly possible. Yes, it sounds a lot like my Valentines Day, but it's more fun. Plus, present!

There are only two rules when it comes to St. Bill's Day. Rule one, you can't celebrate it if you're doing the Valentines thing the day before. That would completely miss the point. Rule two, whatever you do, do it for you. Be selfish. Just celebrate the most person awesome you know. You're your own Billentine. How can it go wrong?

You may be saying to yourself now "okay, that's good, I like it. I'm definitely celebrating St. Bill's Day this year. But, why St. Bill? Who is St. Bill?"

Well, Drew and I needed a name for the day. I can't take credit for this, it was Drew's idea. Why not name it after the cynic all other cynics aspire to be? A man who told the truth, and made it damn funny, and is, sadly, no longer with us? Thus, St. Bill's Day, named for the legend that is Bill Hicks.

So, Monday morning, when other people are making the rest of us want to vomit with mind-numbing displays of affection and *shudders* love, just ignore it. Then, on Tuesday, stick two fingers up at those simpering morons and just do something fun!

If you want to join me for my alcohol/takeaway/DVD combo, you're welcome to do so. Just let me know.

And now, to finish this blog, I'm going to share a story I once wrote when I was tasked with writing a story about love. I think we can all empathise.


"I love you Darling. Happy Valentines day." said Eric to Debbie. It was sickening.

So thank God that at just that moment, ninjas jumped down and killed both of them. There was blood everywhere, and some organs were strewn about the place as well. There was an eyeball left in the goldfish bowl, I swear, an actual eyeball! Entrails draped the sofa. And the drapes. I think even the ninjas were surprised at what a mess they made, but then it's hard to tell through those masks. Still, it was a horrible site!

Poor Jerry, when he walked in, he had such a fright. Jerry’s not even in this story, but he heard a noise and decided to come and see what was going on. Boy, did he regret that! As soon as he saw the carnage before him, and the bloody ninjas (that's ninjas covered in blood, not me being exasperated at the ninjas. I think they're great!), he legged it, and who could blame him?

For their part, the ninjas vanished in a cloud of smoke. Where they went, nobody knows. Where do ninjas go when they do that thing with the smoke pellets anyway? Do you think there's a magical Ninjaland, where they ride the big wheel, the carousel and the roller coaster, and the ground is fluffy, like a lovely cloud, and they gorge themselves on marshmallow and candy? Sounds fun doesn’t it. I bet they’re happy there. I hope so. I like to think they're happy, because if ninjas can't be happy, then what hope is there for the rest of us?

Hey, wow, love is an anagram of vole. Huh. Who knew?

The End.