Grey Matters


The cosmos aligned once more, several days after the supermoon, to bring me the details of this dispatch. As I wrote earlier this week, Teebore's methodical march through Marvel's X-Men over at Gentlemen of Leisure has reached Oct. 1976's #101 and the start of the Phoenix saga. Just as it did, I happened to come across some related items perfect for a pertinent post — which, you'll be happy to know, will end the annoying alliteration any moment now.


Cover to X-Men #101 © 1976 Marvel Comics. Pencils, Inks:
Dave Cockrum. Letters: Danny Crespi. Text, Colors: Unknown.

I've been organizing articles from throughout my career as a comics journalist for archiving at another website. Many of the pieces come from a weekly newsletter called Comicscrypt that I worked on for Fat Jack's Comicrypt — a small group of superb shops in the Philadelphia area — and, due to the nature of the publication, were a bit more colorful than the restrained writing I did for other venues. No sooner did I reread the above-mentioned introduction of a bold new identity for Jean Grey, the former Marvel Girl — or so the story went at the time, but more on that anon — than I moved around some items in need of filing and uncovered a copy of 1995's X-Men: The Postcard Book, to which I contributed the introduction; that, in turn, reminded me of a Comicscrypt article that I'd recently retyped for this online archive, one responsible for bringing me to the attention of the editor at Running Press in charge of the book at hand.

Stars and Gripes


I already had mixed feelings about NBC's proposed Wonder Woman series, whose pilot is shooting under the auspices of writer and executive producer David E. Kelley. Then Adrienne Palicki was cast. Now we have a photo of her in costume.


Blam's Blog composite of (left to right) Roberto Campus painting, © 2007 the artist; 
Jim Lee sketch, © 2010 DC Comics; and Justin Lubin photo, © 2011 NBC Universal 
Media & Warner Bros Entertainment. Wonder Woman ® DC Comics.

You may assume that the outfit she's wearing is a departure for Diana, if you're not up on your superhero comics, yet as seen above it's actually a hybrid of the character's traditional uniform and one that's been featured in her DC title since early last summer.

X Libris


My pal (and frequent commenter) Austin Gorton, who blogs under the handle Teebore, has been methodically reviewing Marvel's X-Men in a series of posts over at Gentlemen of Leisure. He began with 1963's X-Men #1 and last week reached #101, a landmark for more than just its numbering as Jean Grey evolved into Phoenix. But the entry that I'd been waiting for is the one on X-Men #98.


Cover to X-Men #98 © 1976 and characters TM/® Marvel Comics.
Pencils, Inks: Dave Cockrum. Text, Colors: Unknown. Letters: Dan Crespi.


X-Men #98 is a sort of touchstone for me.

As I wrote in my first real installment of Empaneled — the raison d'être of this blog in its planning stages and much neglected as originally conceived — my earliest purchases of comic books were made at drug stores, 5-&-10s, "sundries" shops, convenience stores, and newsagents (indoor newsstands that sold a wide variety of magazines, cigars, and penny candy). The practice was common to most kids of my era as it was for previous generations, but my childhood also coincided with the rise of the so-called direct market — and within just a couple of years of my early, exponentially increasing comics obsession I was visiting dedicated comic-book stores during family trips to Philadelphia from our small-town New Jersey home. On an early stop at The Comic Vault, which later would become a regular haunt and eventually a place of employment, I was handed a copy of X-Men #98 and told that it was a title to watch.

Not Above a Book...


So tonight's episode of How I Met Your Mother revealed that Ted Mosby has lived his entire life* pronouncing the world "chameleon" not "kuh-meel-yun" but "tchah-mil-ee-on". [*Until 2011, anyway. The show is technically one big flashback, with detours, from 2030.]

I bet that many of us have had similar experiences — even the best-educated. Being an early and voracious reader, in fact, probably makes one more likely to get an erroneous phonetic pronunciation stuck in one's head, oblivious to how it's actually pronounced aloud.

My own memorable equivalent of "chameleon" is the word that I pronounced in my head as "eh-pih-tohm" and realized a bit on the late side was the selfsame word as "uh-pih-tuh-mee".

It's SuperMoon!


Full moons have a hold over me, and not just in a vague gravitational sense.

I get entranced by them — cool silver or fiery gold, low on the horizon or high among the stars, but especially, to echo what I wrote a couple of years ago during a lovely buck moon, when they come as the moon is essentially at perigee, its closest point to Earth in its elliptical orbit. (As I'm sure we all learned once upon a time, neither the orbit of our moon around Earth nor that of Earth around the sun is an exact circle; rather, they are very slight ovals.)

What I've somehow never heard until yesterday, though, is the term "supermoon" — or as Richard Nolle, who coined the term in 1979, writes it, SuperMoon. It was invoked on my local 11 o' clock news broadcast of choice, since today we are enjoying what Nolle calls an extreme supermoon, sending me to Google in a happy moment of Internet connectivity to get the full story.

Green Gallery: Green Ross



cover to Green Lantern: No Fear HC

I should have saved last week's post on Fringe's crimson revision of DC Comics' emerald adventurers for today. Migraines and other obstacles have put the squeeze on this piece. But it's only St. Patrick's Day for 18 hours more at most anywhere on the planet, so in the spirit of my green-themed posts from 2009 and 2010, here's another one.

Nooner in Song




Today's post title is an obscure pun for you Star Trek fans. You're welcome and/or I'm sorry.

Glee last week was in many ways not at its best but at its most — at its most gimmicky, at its most plot-oriented, at its most disposable, at its most thematic, at its most randy, at its most heartfelt, and, as the previous contradictions indicate, at its most all-over-the-place. Case in point: John Stamos on drums while the unlikely members of McKinkley High's celibacy club — Rachel, Quinn, Puck — joined their literally virginal, newlywed guidance counselor Miss Pillsbury to perform one of my favorite songs, Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight".

Reversal Engineering


I really need to write about Fringe more than annually. A couple of friends have been urging me to do periodic if not weekly reviews, but that's almost certainly not in the cards. While I'm hoping to publish at least some thoughts about what's happened on the show since my first major post on it this time last year, soon, right now I just want to finally clear my metaphorical desk of some images that have been on the docket to share for almost that long.



The week after I finally got that series-to-date piece up, Fox aired one of Fringe's best episodes ever — confirming Peter Bishop's origins and blowing the show's mythology wide open. "Peter" was a flashback to 1985, complete with awesomely retro opening credits, showing the Walter Bishop of the standard Fringe universe ("our" universe, or "over here") spying upon the denizens of an alternate universe ("over there") whose history and technology were slightly divergent from the familiar but which was inhabited largely by close counterparts of Fringe's Earth. Later in the season Peter Bishop returned to the alternate universe in the present day, and in Part Two of May's season finale "Over There" we saw some intriguing framed comic-book covers in his room.

No-Spin Zone?


I have more conversations about Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark with folks who don't read comics than with folks inside the hobby and business. Part of that, I suspect, is because I'm not very plugged into the comics world anymore. But part of that is also because the show's talent, spectacle, and travails are intriguing — yet "comics people" already know, in a way that others might not stop to realize, that the show has very little to do with comics at all.


Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark promo poster © 2011 Marvel Entertainment. 

Art & Design: Unknown.

Spider-Man comics, as well as the in-revival Spider-Man movie franchise and general merchandising, will be fine no matter what happens on stage.

Kodak Moments



Photo: Bob D'Amico / ABC & AMPAS © 2011

The Oscars brain-trust supposedly went for a fresher, younger feel by tapping James Franco and Anne Hathaway to host the 83rd annual ceremony. So naturally the big hits in the Kodak Theatre on Sunday night included 62-year-old repeat emcee Billy Crystal, a frisky but stroke-impaired 94-year-old Kirk Douglas, 73-year-old Original Screenplay winner David Seidler, the 1953 avatar of the late Bob Hope, and James Franco's grandmother.

James Franco's Grandmother is my new band name, by the way.