Wednesday, November 22, 2017

TEX's BACK-ISSUE QUEST Episode 62 (The Punisher)

Hello, fellow Questers!!

    I'm back again to bring the pain, as we talk about one of Marvel's ultimate pain-bringers...The Punisher!!

   2016 was the year that the Punisher made his small screen debut! And it was pretty great! He took on Daredevil in the much-awaited season 2 of Netflix's series of the same name. A few days ago, on November 17, 2017, The Punisher opened a can of whoop-a$$ on Netflix, with the debut of his very own series! 

   Bernthal is reportedly using "Born" and "Punisher MAX" as inspiration for his portrayal on the Punisher. This is good news for fans of the Punisher, as Garth Ennis headed up both series, a writer who, arguably, penned the best Punisher stories ever.

   To mark this exciting occasion, I thought I'd roll out some of The Punisher keys from my collection, for your eyes to see. Sound good? Sweet. Let's pop smoke:

It's Captain America #241, published in 1980. This features the first meeting between Captain America and the Punisher...And boy do they get the fisticuffs done! Frank Miller is on the cover and Frank Springer is on the interiors. 

FUN FACT: Mike Barr screwed the pooch when he wrote this one. While trying to convince the Punisher of the error of his ways, Cap waxes a bit holier-than-thou, telling Castle that he's "never willingly taken a life." Cap's a WWII war-hero. That was the bloodiest war the world has ever seen - you don't get that title without spilling some. Just sayin'.  

This is Marvel Preview Presents #2, published in 1975. In this B&W, non-Comics-Code compliant magazine, The Punisher tries to stop the murder of a politician that will be giving a speech on Wall Street; also, we get the very first telling of the Punisher's origin story showing the horrific murder of his family. While out for a day in the park, the Castle Family stumbles across a mob hit, and are mercilessly gunned down. Only Frank Castle survives.

Here are a couple of pages for you:

Gerry Conway writes and Tony DeZuniga rocks those pencils!

FUN FACT 1: The Punisher didn't exactly catch fire when he was created. He appeared in only 2 solo B&W stories and was basically a guest character in other books until he got his own series in 1986.

FUN FACT 2: This magazine also features the 1st app of Dominic Fortune (which Howard Chaykin created based on a character named Scorpion that he created for the now-defunct ATLAS SEABOARD)! It's true. I can't make this stuff up.

Next up:

Here we have The Amazing Spider-Man #135 - the second-ever full appearance of the Punisher (he had a cameo in #134), and the origin of the Tarantula! Isn't that cover just all kinds of swell?

And of course, I have the most important of them all:

It's Amazing Spider-Man #129, published in 1974, featuring the very 1st appearance of the Punisher and the first appearance of Miles Warren as the Jackal!! This swell cover was done by the hands of greats John Romita and Gil Kane!!

And finally:

Here is The Punisher #1, published in 1986. Written by Steven Grant, and drawn wonderfully by Mike Zeck, this series was in limbo since the early 80s when Grant and Zeck first asked to do it. Marvel wasn't sure about giving a hero that killed in cold blood his own title. What would the kids think? Eventually,
 Marvel published the title, but didn't put much effort in promoting it, and it is no small wonder. This series is hard-boiled. You will see things in this series that Marvel hadn't even dreamed of in that era: suicide, the death of a child, and even a sex scene. Yikes!

And to round it all out, of course, I have the full set:

FUN FACT 3: Issues 1, 3, and 4 had banners above the title stating that this was a four-issue limited series; however, issues 2, and 5 clearly state that this is actually a five-issue limited series. Which was correct? 

FUN FACT 4: It was actually a five-issue limited series. Hurray for production errors. 

That's all for today. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do posting! Comment and let me know if you enjoyed the article and if you're enjoying "The Punisher" on Netflix!

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Saturday, November 18, 2017


Hey all, I've been so busy, gets more difficult as one gets older.
So here are some new pick-ups i have. More on the way before Christmas. Till then, Enjoy!

Paragon Software give'a'way, VF+. January 1989. Surprised by finding this at Supernova, The seller didn't realize how potentially rare it was. Told him after i bought it 😁  

Spectacular Spider-Man #189, VF. November 1992. 2nd Print Gold Hologram. Got this at Supernova as well from the same guy. Again i said: "thanks, that's a 2nd print" What the ...It is" he said. 😎 

Raphael (One Shot), F+. 1985. 1st App: Casey Jones. 4th appearance of the turtles over-all. Picked it up at Supernova.

Regular Show 2017 Special. Variant cover.

Friday, November 17, 2017

TEX'S Back-Issue Quest Episode #61 (The Justice League of America)

Hello fellow Questers!!!

   It's T to tha E to tha X back again on the wheels of steel, with the jams that make you slam and the grooves that make you move!! 

   Finally! Like General Douggie Mac, I have returned! It's been a long time - please forgive me. My wife took a huge promotion, which means more traveling for her, and more single parenting for me, which means lots of late nights with extra-curricular activities, on top of my own late-night teacher activities...But mama did it for me. She kept the home fires a-burning when I was off serving my country for over 11 years, so now it's my turn. I got this.

    It is TIME!!! After years of wishing, and hoping, and praying...the Justice League film has finally arrived!!! I'm beyond stoked! Beyond excited!!! I am ready to rock!! But first...It's time get our Quest on with a few Justice League gems from my collection:

   This is my copy of The Brave and the Bold vol 1, #28, printed in 1960, this is the first major Silver-Age superhero team! That's right - before the Marvel Age, before the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and the Avengers, there was the dawn of justice! This comic features the 1st app of Starro the Conqueror and that crazy teenage superhero super-fan, Snapper Carr!!

Fun Fact: This is not only the first appearance of the Justice League of America, but it is also the very 1st time that Aquaman was ever featured on a cover.

Fun Fact/Flash Fact: The first (shown) chair of the Justice League was none other than the Scarlet Speedster himself...The Flash!!!

    Here is my copy of Justice League of America, vol 1, #1!! This comic is the moment that the JLA leap into their very own long-running title (1960-1987), and it features the first appearance of one of the JLA's most formidable enemies: Despero!!

    The Justice League was originally thought up by prominent comics editor, Julius (Julie) Schwartz in the very late 1950s. He wanted a new team to be an updated version of the Golden Age super force, The Justice Society of America, which was all the rage in the 1940s until superhero popularity began to fade in the latter part of the same decade. Schwartz one again tapped the brilliant Gardner Fox, architect of the Justice Society of America, to develop the new team, along with Golden Age artist, Mike Sekowsky. The result of this tenacious trio of minds was The Justice League of America which debuted in the March 1960 issue of The Brave and the Bold, which sported an amazing cover by a group of professionals including Mike Sekowsy, and the great Murphy Anderson. The new super-team originally consisted of Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Martian Manhunter, The Flash, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan), Batman, and Superman, along with their far-out fan, Snapper Carr. The Justice League battled an alien threat named Starro the Conqueror! This new super-team was a runaway hit - it graced the pages of the next two issues of The Brave and the Bold, and then lept into its own new series, which was without a doubt one of the most successful titles published in the Silver Age

   The Justice League left an indelible mark on comics; however, comics weren't the only media pathway that The Justice League conquered. With the help of renowned animation company, Hanna-Barbera, The Justice League made the leap to television in 1973 as the action-packed, hour-long animates series, "The Super Friends." It only lasted for one season, but returned in 1977, conquering the hearts, minds, and imaginations of kids everywhere, and running until 1986 in several different iterations with a total of 109 episodes:

The first series of "The Super Friends" (1973-1974)

The final series, "The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians"

   FUN FACT: I loved this show.

   FUN FACT: Hanna-Barbera thought that the name, "The Justice League" might not work out too well in the anti-Vietnam War climate that was stirring up national strife. "The Super Friends" fit perfectly for a kids show based on comics - with toned-down violence for younger audiences. Funny thing is...Sometimes they actually called themselves "The Justice League." 

   FUN FACT: There were several members of the Super Friends who had never appeared in comics - these members are thought to be heavy-handed, but well-intentioned, attempts at a more racially diverse team (Apache Chief, Samurai, Black Vulcan and El Dorado):

    Yep, there is no doubt that the Justice League conquered TV with it's amazingly well-done animated show; however, unfortunately, we can't forget the major misstep that Warner Bros. took with this unaired, unforgettable (and some would say, unforgivable) 1997 TV movie/TV Show pilot, The Justice League of America. Here's a clip:

   And then there were those equally horrid late 70s specials:

FUN FACT: Oh, let's be honest. I call them horrid, but to my little kid eyes, those 70s DC and Marvel shows, specials and movies were GREAT!! And so were reruns of the 60s cartoons!

   From comics to cartoons, to TV specials, to TV movies, to big screen hits...All this leads us up to right now: the most important time in comics film history to DC fans for sure...The debut of the "Justice League" starring Gal Gadot, Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher!!! The culmination of nearly 60 years of great stories populated by great, iconic characters! And I, for one, just can't wait to see it tomorrow!!

   That's it for today friends!! Drop me your thoughts and comments on the article and the new Justice League film!!

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Yoga Hosers #1

Yoga Hosers: A Sundance Super Special from Dynamite -

     The two Colleens are a fixture at Winnipeg, Manitoba's Terry Fox Preparatory School. They're closer than sisters - it's been that way ever since Colleen C., kicked little Corey in the 'nads for insulting Collen M. back on their very first day of school as kids. Collen Collette is a tough-as-nails, no-nonsense, go-getter, and Collen McKenzie is all sugar, spice, sweetness, and light; but, together they make quite a team. They are just two teen french-fry-loving, yoga freaks getting it done in school by day, and working for cash in Colleen C.'s dad's convenience store by night, with a little rockin' band on the side, and a slightly psychopathic yoga instructor who believes in world domination through the power of yoga exceptionalism.  What are two put-upon, bored, yoga super-teens to do in wacky Winnipeg, eh? Fight crime. Oh. And Nazis.

    Kevin Smith is back at it again in this prequel (and blatant advertisement) for his comedy flick, "Yoga Hosers" starring his daughter, Harley Quinn Smith, and Lily-Rose Depp, daughter of his good friend, Johnny. As a prequel, Yoga Hosers works. It gives the reader a great introduction to the protagonists and gives us a pretty solid glimpse into their world in Winnipeg. The book is filled with so much of Kevin Smith's classic style of silliness that, if you are a fan (and I am), you'll probably end up really wanting to see the zany film...which has been widely panned. Even so, I'd still like to see if it offers up any of the yucks that the comic did for me. The story is light and airy, with lots of Smith's looney dialogue and hammy wordplay. The story presents itself as all-ages friendly, but there is a bit of Smith's typical crass humor and a sprinkling of foul four-letter words, but nothing too wild. Jeff Quigley's pencils are straightforward and no frills, but he's got an eye for slapstick and silliness that made the book fun to look at. Is this comic going to change the world? No. Does it have an earth-shattering message? Or just a deeper meaning? Nope. It's just a familiar Kevin Smith slice o' life tale with the foolishness cranked up pretty high. I enjoyed this comic - but I'm sure it's not for everyone, and I do not expect any further Yoga Hosers comics to be published, but I might keep buying them if they were, at least for a little while. It's a hard call on this one, so let's do this:

RATING (as a Kevin Smith fan based on classic Smith craziness): 8 out of 10.

RATING (non-biased): 6 out of 10. If you're not a fan of Smith's work, nor his humor, this book will absolutely not be worth the $3.99 you'd pay for it.

If you're so inclined, here's a trailer for the film (it made me laugh):

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Zojaqan #1 and Hi-Fi Fight Club #1 Reviews

Zojaqan #1 from Vault Comics -

    Shannon Kind knows pain and grief. Raised by a loving, but demanding immigrant father, Shannon had high hopes and wide expectations as she ran the race of life. It all culminated in Luther's birth. He was her son, he was her greatest joy but became the source of her greatest pain when his life was unjustly taken. Now, Shannon finds herself suddenly plunged into a new, wonderful, treacherous world, a planet unlike any she has ever known. She'll have to draw on all of her skills, intelligence and pain to survive and thrive in a place where she's both predator and prey. Why is she there, and why does she find herself thrust time after time further into the planet's developing future? What can she teach the evolving life there...And what will they teach her? 

    From Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing comes the epic, Alice-In-Wonderland-type sci-fi tale, Zojaqan. Kelly and Lanzing have created a compelling and riveting protagonist in Shannon Kind - her vibrant inner thought-life is related to the reader through both the captions and art as she tries to survive on a beautiful, but sometimes hostile planet, and as she is thrust from the planet's prehistoric past farther and farther into its future. It's a masterful work of storytelling in which the backstory of the protagonist and the developing story run parallel, with the reader starting a bit confused in the first few pages, discovering both the new planet with the protagonist, and discovering the protagonist too, at the same time. Everything unfolds beautifully, which gave me a slight feeling of confusion, while at the same time gripping me just enough to sink deeper and deeper into the journey with the protagonist. Nathan Gooden lays down some of the most flowing, expressive and sensual pencils I have seen in recent years, topped off by Vittorio Astone's offbeat palette of colors that make Zojaqan impossible to put down. I have a feeling that Zojaqan is going to give us an amazing ride.

RATING: 10 out of 10.

Hi-Fi Fight Club #1 from BOOM! Studios' BOOM! Box imprint -

     Chris is a teen-age tomboy who is the newest employee at the absolute coolest record store in town, Vinyl Mayhem. What makes Vinyl Mayhem so cool? It's the awesome people who work there, people that Chris idolizes for their several unique personality traits - from her boss, Irene, who is just the coolest adult alive, to Kennedy, the walking encyclopedia of music, to Dolores, the resident disinterested Goth girl, to Maggie, a walking ray of sunshine and Chris' secret crush. Although Chris is made to feel welcome, she often still feels like the outsider in a group of people who have known each other for so long. She just wants to fit in...She just wants to be invited to the secret meetings in the stock room at night, like the rest of the girls. However, when Rosie Riot, lead singer of a beloved band goes missing, Irene, Dolores, Kennedy and Maggie spring into action, revealing to Chris a secret that will thrust her into a dangerous new adventure that's sure to include lots of cool music and a whole lot of butt-kicking! Welcome to Vinyl Mayhem where you'll find the best music for your ears, and the hardest fists for your face.

   Penned by Carly Usden, Hi-Fi Fight Club looks to be an "All-Ages" cutesy mash-up of two of the 90's most-beloved films, "Fight Club" and "Empire Records." And it works. Chris is a lovable protagonist - all heart and hormones - who just wants to fit in and be one of the cool kids. Luckily, the cool kids are all pretty neat people who stand up for themselves, and for those who don't know how. Each supporting character comes alive on the page with their own big, quirky personality which makes this book a joy to read. Nina Vakueva's high-energy, high-drama, anime-inspired, cartoony pencils pour on the sweetness and light in High-Fi Fight Club, making Usden's story even more of a blast. Man, do I ever miss the 90s sometimes. Rock on, Carly Usden. Rock on.

RATING: 9 out of 10.

 And I'll leave you with a little Renée Zellwegger - before Jerry Maguire, before Bridget Jones, she rocked out and made me fall head-over-heels for her in...Empire Records! Enjoy!!!

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Friday, August 25, 2017

TEX'S Variants, Autographs and Oddities Episode 6 (Ash Vs The Army of Darkness)


    What ya got ta say?! Hello, fellow QUESTERS!! It's me, T to the E to the X, back again to help put some pep in your step and some glide in your stride, with all that good comic book knowledge that you can't get in any college!

    I hope you're off to a great start for your weekend! Me? I'm ready to chill and get a little R&R before that fun day, Monday, comes back around.

    Today, on this episode of TEX's Variants, Autographs and Oddities, we have a couple of cool items that are a little bit of all three things in the title! Feast your eyes!!

   It's my two copies Ash Vs The Army of Darkness #1! But these aren't just any old first issues, these are two copies of the ultra-rare Ken Haeser REMARK EDITION. What this means is that these are two copies of the Blank Authentix Edition, however, they are hand-sketched and signed by the one and only Ken Haeser, co-creator of The Living Corpse. And, oh, lookie!!

   They came all closed up with some cool Dynamic Forces seals and some even cooler Certificates of Authenticity! SWEET!

   Ash Vs The Army of Darkness comes jam-packed with the same fun, excitement, and absurd dark humor that fans of the "Evil Dead" films, fans like me, have come to love. And no, that DOES NOT include the humorless debacle of 2013, a grave error of a remake of which we shall never speak. Anyway, this time around, our pal, Ash, has found his way back into high school...As a history teacher, no less. He's out to slam some Deadites, and teach the kids how the world really works.


   If you've never seen the "Evil Dead" films, do yourself a favor, and put those on your bucket list. They are too dang good to miss. And if you're a cable subscriber, check out Starz's hit series based on the films, "Ash Vs. The Evil Dead." You can thank me later. Here's a clip:


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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Dread Gods #1 Review

Dread Gods #1 from IDW - 

      In the not-too-distant-future, corporations have finished the long game and toppled all governments to take over the world. They provide food, shelter, and most importantly, entertainment, to the desperate denizens of the planet, Earth - bread and circuses, just like the Roman Empire of old. Carver is one of those denizens; deformed and paralyzed from the waist down, he races through the filthy crowded streets hunting for that which he most desires: a virtual reality cube from the Prometheus Corporation that gives the malnourished and maltreated mob a glimpse into the hallowed heights of Mount Olympus. With this V.R. cube, the people can leave their miserable states behind and walk among the gods, which is exactly what Carver craves. When Carver finally hooks in, he witnesses a battle that rocks the very foundations of Olympus, a battle which ends in the mightiest of the gods seeking help for their plight - help which Carver is determined to give. Has Carver lost his mind? Has he succumbed to the madness of mistaking fiction for fact...Or is there more reality than virtuality to what he sees in the halls of Olympus?

    Dread Gods #1 is an action-heavy sci-fi adventure penned by comics veteran, Ron Marz. In this issue, Marz gives us a look at a bleak, possibly post-apocalyptic future where mankind has traded freedom for the safety provided corporations. Many have long-feared the growing power of multinational corporations, some with their own private military forces. Some believe that theses corporate bodies are only loyal to money and power, not to flags and nations; it has been speculated that the natural endgame for these seemingly sinister corporate entities is to encroach upon the power of sovereign nations by using economic might to subvert national political processes to seize power, and then gain the people's loyalty by stepping in and providing vital essentials. Marz's vision in Dread Gods is a heavy-handed, though jarring, poke at this paranoid fear that may some day become a reality. The people live in such squalor; it is no wonder that they would do anything for a hit of virtual reality - the drug of choice for the downtrodden and the dying. However, even though Tom Raney's pencils are powerful, energetic and often, Kirby-esque, with lavish colors by Nanjan Jamberi, Marz's story is just too bombastic - it's a big idea, with big characters, with no discernible purpose. Zeus rules Olympus. The Olympians love him. Carver loves him. Hades hates him. Okay...Is the protagonist Zeus or Carver? Or is it the "evil" brother, Hades (is Hades a freedom fighter of sorts)? How does Carver hope to help a god in virtual reality? Is he nuts or is there more than meets the eye? There did not seem to be enough oomph in the story to make me care about ANY character on the page, which is a shame in a book so full of big action, big personalities and big potential. Dread Gods #1 lacked so much and ended so abruptly that only an introduction to Marz's world was semi-accomplished, but with no actual purpose for the story in sight...Nor why I should care at all. Dread Gods #1 is a lot of sound and fury that signifies a whole lot of nothing - at least, as far as I can tell. Oh, well. At least Raney's art was worth the cost of admission. 

RATING: 6 out of 10. 

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