Monday, January 28, 2013

How Bill Mantlo Created A Universe

Ok one more posting before February is here. I want to share this which comes from the pages of Amazing Heroes magazine published in December 1981. I think this is really a special story so I posted the article as text so that those who don't speak English, or at least not as a first language can use the translation feature on this blog.

How Bill Mantlo created a universe
How did the Micronauts come to be? Unlike most such merchandising comic books, which are the product of business deals, Micronauts came straight from the creator of the book: Bill Mantlo. "My son had just reduced a mountain of X-Mas presents to disposable rubble," Mantlo wrote in an issue of Comics Journal a few months before the issue came out, "and sat, in the midst of this mess of paper, tearing a group of tiny shiny figurines out of their vacuum sealed packages. The figures seemed to catch the sparkle of the lights from my parents' Christmas tree. They were unlike any toys I had ever seen - and I've run the gamut in my time, from Dodge City to G.I. Joe to the Shogun Warriors. I asked Adam (that's my son's name) if I could see them before they went the way of all plastic and, when he handed them to me, I held in my palm the four basic figures of a new concept in toys called…The Micronauts." Standing there that Christmas morning, Mantlo began to fantasize, to make up the foundation for what would soon become one of Marvel's most popular series. "I envisioned them as small, microscopic even", Mantlo remembered, "inhabiting an other-verse apart from, but conjunctive with ours." Not only did Mantlo create the basic concept for the comic, but he began to consider the possibilities for characterization the characters possessed. "Space Glider seemed to suggest a Reed Richards nobility, an aspect of command, of dignity. Acroyear, faceless, his armor gleaming, a fantastic sword clenched in his coldly metallic hand, seemed to hearken back to a warrior Mr. Spock. For some reason Galactic Warrior seemed insect-like - I can almost hear clicks and whistles and strange scraping interjected into his speech. But Time Traveler…there was a mystery there, glimmerings of cosmic vastness, intimations of knowledge and space and time all having been broken down and reassembled to produce something entirely new… unexplainable…different." If this were you or I, we would just sit and indulge our fantasies for half an hour, perhaps, and then go on to our jobs. But Bill Mantlo's job consists in indulging his fantasies, and he knew he was onto something good. The following week, he walked into Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim shooter's office and told him of his idea; Shooter, interested, got in touch with the manufacturer, Mego. "A month later," Mantlo went on, "we had preliminary photographs of the entire Micronauts line. I was, to say the least, floored. I had already begun extrapolating, based on just the four original figurines, a whole series of concepts. Now here, in front of me, were literally hundreds of additional figures, thousands of new suggested concepts…in effect, a whole world in need of a rationale for being." And thus, a Christmas present resulted in the creation of a whole fictional world- in a comic book that has now accumulated an impressive run of 40 issues and was, because of it's popularity, selected as one of three titles to be sold exclusively on the direct-sales market. Maybe Adam Mantlo deserves a co-creator credit on the book. After all, it was his toys that started it all. 

And lest we not forget that it was not too long after that Bill Mantlo would again create another universe that contained spaceknights, dire wraiths, a Golden Galaxy and a Dark Nebula. Sadly we never got a cross over of these two Mantlo inspired universes as scene in this awesome fan art.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Marvel Age #83 (1989) on 80s licenced properties like Rom, Micronuats & Shogun Warriors

After I got off work last night I found my self in the mood for going to a comic shop. While going through some $1 bins I came across this Marvel Age issue that was published in December of 1989. A little voice inside my head beckoned me to look through it and I came across part 3 of an ongoing article from the previous issues about Marvel Comics of the 80s decade which also included a few paragraphs about licensed properties . . .

This will probably be my last posting for the month but be back here Feb.1st because I've got some great stuff lined up for all you Rom fans and fans in general of Bill Mantlo other creations during his amazing career. In the mean time I'll leave you with this new Dire Wraith sighting. Hat tip to Ptor from the Sanctum blog for the heads up on this. A preview available here:

Monday, January 21, 2013

Bill Mantlo, Sal Buscema and Belinda Glass

I was recently reading a copy of Incredible Hulk#256 (written by Bill Mantlo & penciled by Sal Buscema) for the first time in years and noticed something for the first time in a special dialogue box on page 1. Understandably I'm curious who this Belinda Glass is because this is the first time I'm seeing this name associated with Sabra both in published media as well as among all the Sabra fandom out there. After a little research it turns out she was a singer and the late Mark Gruenwald's first wife. I always liked this Hulk issue and appreciated the writing for putting the Israel/Arab conflict into a more objective context as opposed to the more biased interpretation that has been all to common for years now.
The Marvel Team Up that sadly never was
More recently we've seen her in the X-Men sporting a more conventional military uniform look. Sabra's first appearance was actually in Incredible Hulk #250 (1980) which means most likely the character was conceived around the same time or not too long after ROM spaceknight first hit news stands back in the day. But unlike Rom Sabra was not hampered by any sort of copy right issues an thus has been a regular fixture in the Marvel Universe for over 3 decades now. In that time we've seen her in various different costumes (each one cooler then the last) and going from the "Jew fro" to more of a Pat Benatar kinda hair style.
Belinda Glass
Well as many of you know she's a character that along with Rom I really enjoy and have blogged about more then once on not just this blog but my Suicide Squad blog as well. So Belinda where who ever you are I just wanted to say thanks and make sure that at least a few more people out there know who gave Bill and Sal the inspiration for Marvel's first Jewish super hero. I can't help but wonder if Glass was herself Jewish or just happened to be someone who was very knowledgeable about Israeli culture. Information for Glass on the internet is scant at best but I'm still looking into it so hopefully I may have an update for this posting in the near future.

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Sabra is tough and sharp on the outside but sweet on the inside just like her name sake. Here she is letting my friend take a picture of me next her during my visit to The Western Wall (called The Kotel in Hebrew) at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

New fan art & some random Rom related musings

Rom fan art by Randy Faw
After many months of me pestering him my buddy Randy who lives only a stone's throw away from me finally put this awesome rendering together to shut me up. Now I can move on to getting on his nerves about something else like when is he going to get around to seeing Judge Dredd which is one of my favorite movies from 2012. By the way the DVD had a ton of cool extras.

And now it's time again for a bit of 80s nostalgia. Specifically 1984 which is when Marvel Team-Up Annual #7 was published. In it we get a dire wraith cameo panel as The Collector (an Elder of the Universe) scans the Earth for alien life forms while narrating.

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I gotta say despite having The Torpedo and other Marvel characters I like such as Nova and Paladin that "Defender for a Day" was really lame from what I've read by browsing through the one shot reprinting that came out late 2011. The one panel that had any real action with the Torpedo had him saying "jet thrusters do your thing" as he fires a concusion blast at the Hulk. The there's more weird stuff like more cheesy dialogue mixed in with some not so thinly veiled sexual innuendo.

I'm making an update to this posting as a result of having done some browsing over at Deviant Art tonight. I get the impression it's in part inspired by the DC reboot as well as the false rumors of Rom's return. This is just a thumbnail see the full sized version here:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Joe Sinnot on Rom in Comics Scene Magazine #2 (1982)

 Some of you Rom appearance and reference aficionados will appreciate this Joe Sinnott quote and back issue price guide page I found in Comic Scene Magazine #2 published in March 1982. I found this issue in a discount bin at a comic shop way back in the day around the mid 80s. But I remembered there was something in it Rom related and rare that I wanted to see again so I recently picked it up on ebay.

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I like this early photo of Bill Mantlo. It comes from an article in Amazing Heroes magazine #60 (published in December 1984) on Bill's upcoming work at the time which was Cloak & Dagger, Rocket Raccoon, Sword of The Swashbucklers and The Derangers. The Derangers were a group of super powered individuals (Bedlam, Freakout, Breakdown, Shadow) with some serious mental problems that were supposed to be a new book title. As far as I know that never happened but The Derangers did end up being characters that battled Alpha Flight in issues 53 and 54 both written by Mantlo.

Just seeing this for the first time for some reason even though it's been featured in several places on the internet for a couple of years now. This is a portion of a recovered two page spread that Anthony Vukojevich that was originally done by Fred Hembeck as some sort of Fantastic Four Roast issue one shot. The original Hembeck version had Rom in it but he was left out in the published version. So thank you Anthony for putting Rom back in for your recovered rendition. Be sure to check out all the links on Anthony's page in order to see all the versions of this cover art:

Monday, January 7, 2013

ROM: New convention sketches & a rare micro sized house ad

The portion of the video that shows this guy doing a Rom sketch only lasts for about 6-7 seconds but it's still pretty cool to see this going sketch in action. It comes at exactly 1:40 into the video:

Sketch from Chicago Con from a few back by Wilson Ramos Jr.

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This "micro ad" makes for over half a dozen house ads Marvel had running for Rom through out the 80s. If you look at the far left side you'll see Rom#5 and Micronauts #16. To view the full page:

On a side note here I decided to take renouncing all the Rom related crap that Marvel has come up with in the last few years and new comics in general one step further. This weekend I took my copies of the Annihilators & Avengers Academy (Hybrid) to my local comic shop to trade for credit on back issue comics. As most of you know I've gotten sour on that stuff and felt like it was time to wash my hands of it completely.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rom related alien races, the U.S. govt. & Bill Mantlo's legacy

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 The first half of this posting is something of a continuation of the alien races index posting at the tail end of October last year: The funny thing is unlike the Thuvrians and Clavians the "Hibers" weren't even referred to by any sort of name in the actual Rom issue (their only appearance ever in Marvel comics) they appeared in. The writers for Marvel just came up with this name for the sake of including them in the alien races index it would seem.
The Hibers entry was something I've been meaning to post for a while now but here is something I discovered just very recently in that Marvel Universe#15 (1987) back issue as well. This is an excerpt taken from the front inside cover editorial of a general over view of alien races in the Marvel Universe.

So now it would seem is a good time to share with you all yet another Rom related clip art from Gary Martin Jr. taken from the last two panels of Avengers#243.

As most of you know Avengers 244 and 245 had a Dire Wraith story line which very closely corresponded to recent events in the ROM series. Mr. Sikorsky was the U.S. government's liaison to the Avengers at that time and had replaced Henry Gyrich. Just like Forge and Rom the Avengers couldn't stand Gyrich either he was a real dick head to beings with super powers.

And speaking of dick heads Captain Marvel #6 vol. 3 (2001) was written by Peter David and it seems David might also be a fan of Battlestar Galactica as well as Robocop. Anyways, as far as I'm concerned this issue was largely paying homage to Bill Mantlo since it featured this Rom sculpture in Rick Jone's apartment (also seen in issue1 and 3) along with The Micronauts . . sort of. Thanks again for this clip art too Gary.
You'll notice Acroyer, Biotron, Microtron & are missing along with some of the signature vehicles and accessories they used to feature back in the 80s. The Baron, formally known as Baron Karza is only represented as a familiar silhouette shape in a flash back sequence. Marvel did something similar with Rom in Universe X #3 (2000) You also won't find the name Space Glider used any where and The Micronauts are now simply the Microns. This supports my theory that it was in 2000 that Marvel lost the rights to both Rom and The Micronauts. For a review of the issue and more clip art:


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Cosmic Marvel sagas & what could have been

Let's kick off 2013 by going into the past about 30 years. There's a few ROM spaceknight issues that I think have at least some notoriety as being iconic in the Cosmic Marvel genre of the 80's. No doubt ROM #24 (1981) was one of them with his timely intervention for Xandar during a Skrull invasion which saw at the end of the issue Richard Rider relinquishing his Nova powers and returned to Earth.
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But also, who could forget Galactus and Terrax vs the spaceknights of Galador in Rom 26 and 27!? I dunno what was more awesome the spaceknights taking down Terrax or how Rom ultimately managed to defeat Galactus by out whiting him. But those two epic Rom issues had something of forerunner at the tail end of Dazzler #11. A big thanks to Gary Martin Jr. and Ptor from The Sanctum for sending me the following clip art. And in case you forgot during Terrax's fight with the spaceknights in Rom#26 a Dazzler #11 footnote appeared on page 17.

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 Lately I've been finding in $1 boxes a lot of issues from the 2009 War of Kings saga that saw yet another conflict between the Shiar Imperium and The Kree Star Empire. Pretty epic stuff it had great action, great art and plenty of interstellar politics which I love. It was some of the best Cosmic Marvel adventure I've read since Operation Galactic Storm and The Annihilation Wave. How cool if  War of Kings were to have had Rom (Galador's King) interwoven somewhere in the story line. That's of course assuming Abnett & Lanning would have produced a better narrative for Rom fans then the crap that was The Annihilators.

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The King of Kings by Motorhead: