Last year, Discount Comic Book Service had a special promotion: if you bought a copy of Marvel's MODOK: Reign Delay one-shot by Ryan Dunlavey, you'd get a free sketch card by Mister Dunlavey! Heckuva deal! thought I (in my Minnesota accent)! The comic arrived and I loved itit made #35 on my Fun Fifty of 2009and I pretty much promptly forgot about the free sketch card. DCBS sent out a notice that they were still being worked on and were forthcoming, but again they slipped my mind until I got a package this week and opened it to find, surprise, surprise, the best sketch card I could have hoped for:
Kismet, co-incidence, or cosmic fate, I can't even begin to guess how, out of the hundreds of cards Ryan Dunlavey did, that the one with The Beast wound up in my fuzzy little hooves. Short of a lucky fairy godfather at DCBS looking over me and intentionally putting this one aside for me, I'd say it's just one of those wonderful serendipitous events that as I'm doing 365 Days of Hank McCoy, this happens.
Hank looks like he's read something a little worrisome there. Maybe he's just had his basic ideas challenged by a particularly brain-blasting section of one of his favorite books...but, y'know, I think maybe he may have just got to the part of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire where Voldemort blasts Cedric. Hank may be a big brain and all, but he's sensitive like that.
There's a heckuva lotta wonderful sketches in there. And no, you can't buy 'em...they've all gone to lucky people and little stuffed animals like me! But...and this is the important part...you can commission Ryan to do a sketch card or other artwork right here! Go ahead, what are you waitin' for?
Thanks, Mister Dunlavey, for a very cool ninety-ninth Beast of the year!
Oh, Matt Murdock, in a town that has 24/7 cable station NY1, why do you rely upon newspapers so much to get your hearsay and scuttlebutt of the crime comings and goings in Manhattan? Y'know, there's lots of alternatives to rubbing your hypersensitive fingers all over those filthy, ink-smudged rags like The New York Daily News, The New York Post, Metro and of course, The Daily Bugle, the only newspaper in the country whose slogan is "Curse you, Spider-Man!" He may be very good at rubbing his fingers over a newspaper and picking up the minuscule impressions left by those mighty presses upon flimsy wood pulp, but I still bet he has troubles reading Cathy. How can we explain Counselor Murdock's fondness for a dying industry in today's bold new information age, when he could be reading the news by rubbing his fingers all over his computer monitor? Well, that last one can be explained by Foggy's troublesome online porn addiction, but otherwise, where's the attraction to a newspaper, DD?
Maybe it's the fact that in the Big Apple, newspapers seem to love running headline stories about guys in red spandex with horns:
...but look out, DD! Just like an issue of Marvel-Team Up with Some Guy Who Turns Out to Eventually Be a Villain, you never know when the press is going to turn on you like a rabid dog!
Well, can you blame 'em? After all, a picture is worth a thousand words...even if it has been turned into the paper by "El Photoshoppo," the villain who can put Queen Elizabeth's head on Madonna's body!
Yes, Daredevil and newspapers have a strange and beautiful relationship...
Most of all, DD finds newspapers useful in his never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the seeing-eye dog's way...a good fish-wrapper is a crimefighter's greatest tool in combatting crooks:
But fear not for the defeated costumed crook, dear reader...instead, weep for the poor innocent 1970s Marvel comics caught battered and torn in the fight!
Yes, around Daredevil and his reckless Gladiator-tossing ways, all periodicals shiver in fear, especially comic books like Nova! And...um...Celam!
That's why Daredevil always champions newspapers and other popular methods of news dissemination:
After all, as we can see through the eyes of Elektra Nachos Natchios in this panel of Daredevil's Girlfriend, Elektra #6, newspapers tell us all sorts of amazing and interesting things, right up until the point where the typesetter has a heart attack!
Yes, in Elektra's world, newspapers fight illiteracy by featuring only a few words on each page plus lots and lots of easy-on-the-eyes white space.
Ya know, whoever wrote the headline Los Angeles Hit By Bad Weather...well, I just hope he got nominated for a Pulitzer.
Yes, after having her brain scooped out and replaced with special magic ninja foam, Elektra finds it easy to read newspapers with the classified section, business news, and London fax numbers all on the same page. Well, at least it makes more sense than Dilbert:
That's why in the Marvel Universe, the motto of the Los Angeles Times is Gotta dog? We'll advertise it in 128 point type!
So now you know all about the newspapers in DD's world and how they help out him and his little lady friend-and-psychopathic assassin-for-hire Ellie N. in their chosen careers as costumed vigilantes in a world they never made. Why, just about the only thing that frustrates Daredevil about being blind is that he can't fully appreciate everything they print in a newspaper:
But don't spare Matt Murdock any tears over that...why, he's got that problem solved with a subscription to his favorite Braille magazine:
Hank McCoy of Earth-295, aka the Dark Beast from the Age of Apocalypse, in a panel from X-Men: Alpha one-shot (February 1995), plot by Scott Lobdell, script by Mark Waid, pencils by Roger Cruz and Steve Epting, inks by Tim Townsend and Dan Panosian, colors by Steve Buccellato and Electric Crayon, letters by Richard Starkings
Last week, you may remember, yours little stuffed truly showed you the first fifteen issues of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Deluxe Edition and how they interlocked to form a really really long mural. But hey! (you're no doubt saying)...the first fifteen issues? How many more were there? Why, just like any good Marvel series, the fun doesn't stop when you reach the last page, because there's issues #16 through 20 to look at now, but this is a little more solemn occasion. Please dress reverently in black and stand quietly to one side as I usher in...
No, no, no, that's not what I meant, man. (Altho' it is groovy.) I mean the 1985 Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe: Book of the Dead Deluxe Edition...in other words, this:
Front and back covers of The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #16-20 (June 1987-February 1988), art by Keith Pollard and Joe Rubinstein
Click once, then again, to Big Sleep-size
Lined up, the covers of Marvel's classic index and history of all the characters who had bit the bullet, kicked the bucket, and became ex-Marvelites is not quite as long as last week's mural but it's twice as dead! (Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!, in my little stuffed Vincent Price voice.) And like the first 15 issues of the series, #16 through 20 interconnect into one long muralin fact penciller Keith Pollard has provided a solid wedge of overlap on the right and left of each issue to allow you to piece the rest-in-peaces together. Well, very nearly. There's a very small handful of mismatched images:
...but for the most part most elements on each cover edge line up closely enough that you can make a big long mural o' death. In fact...unlike the first fifteen issues, which had a distinct image break six issues into the series, I believe that Pollard was attempting to make this mural completely circular. Here's the right hand edge of #20 matched up with the beginning of #16:
Although the matchup between 20 and 16 are less perfect that the other issues, look at the position of the tree and how it...well, sorta connects, as shown in this close-up:
Sure, there's only half a mausoleum there, but maybe that's where Two-Face is buried. Whoops, wrong universe. Speaking of which, although the Marvel Universe doesn't have its version of DC's Shanghalla, it does seem to have dumped everybody in the same stretch of the Greenwood Cemetery, just off the beltway in Westchester County. Visit the gift shop and pick up lovely souvenirs spoons featuring the face of Uncle Ben, or a Colonel Glenn Talbot beer mug, or the Jean Grey-brand cigarette lighter ("This flame never dies!").
After that you may reverently wander through the soft green hills and thoughtfully examine the gravestones of all those who have passed away, who have shuffled off this mortal coil, who are pushing up daisies, who are dead, dead, dead and can never come back and never return to the Marvel Universe. Characters like
The Dead Skull!
Yes, none of these characters will ever be seen again because they are finally and truly dead! Characters like
General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross!
...oh, I guess he came back and died again. You know, as Oscar Wilde (spotlight in issue #17 featuring his battles against Iron Man) once said: "To lose one life may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."
So you see, despite its cool status as a mural, the official Book of the Dead for Earth-616 contains much that is aprocryphal, if not outright incorrect. For example, why oh why, would they list this beloved character as deceased?:
Panel from Civil War: X-Men #3 (November 2006), script by David Hine, pencils by Yanick Paquette and Aaron Lopresti; inks by Serge LaPointe and Jay Leisten; colors by Stephane Peru, letters by Rus Wooton