Monday, January 31, 2022

The "Marvel Celebrates Stan Lee" memorial comic

It's kind of weird that I remember where I was when I learned that Stan Lee had died. I was in downtown Pittsburgh on a cold night, working as an extra on a Seth Rogan movie. I opened a news app on my phone and saw the headline. I thought to myself, "should I tell Seth Rogan?" He was right next to me and I figured that he would probably want to know, but I kept it to myself, which was probably the smart thing to do (I've never spoken to Seth Rogan).

Anyway, after Lee passed, Marvel hosted a memorial of sorts at the New Amsterdam Theatre in New York in early October of 2019, almost a year later. This invite-only event was attended by folks from the comics industry, and of course by different celebrities and other people who worked for Disney in some fashion. It was quite the who's who.

Among the items that attendees received at this celebration was a "Marvel Celebrates Stan Lee" comic book, which I suppose was very fitting. This book was never reprinted and soon became a very sought-after item on the secondary market. In 2019 and '20, it was going for so much that I wrote it off as something that I would never get my hands on, even though, ugh, the Thing was on the cover, standing right on top of the Hulk, no less, along with the rest of the Fantastic Four and many other popular Marvel characters.

I've kept an eye out for the book ever since, though, and a copy appeared on eBay recently for a price that was good enough for that I couldn't pass up. The comic arrived recently, and I thought I'd share a look with all of the many, many people who read this very important comic book blog. Let's take a peek.

Here's the aforementioned cover, with art by Adam Kubert. I don't know if this was repurposed art from something else, but I've never seen it used before. Many of Lee's most famous co-creations join him on the cover. I'm glad that the entire FF made the cut, as they should have.

The inside front cover has the date and location of the event. The cover logo is, of course, a repurposed Spider-Man logo.

The book starts out with an introduction by then-Chief Creative Office Joe Quesada. The book is packed with remembrances from both Marvel and Disney luminaries. 

There are two comic reprints in this issue. The first is the first chapter from 1961's Fantastic Four #1. This was just after Marvel had lifted their self-imposed FF embargo. There's a not-insignificant gap in Marvel's publishing history around this time that lacks most mentions of the team, so including this, the most important book in Marvel's publishing history, in this book was a relief to me.

The cover is reprinted, also, but not the entire first issue.

The book also has a number of images from when Stan was depicted in different comics. Here's one reprinting the cover from What If...? #11. On the other page, we see some pictures of Stan and a message from Marvel Studio's Kevin Feige.

This was an interesting spread. This highlighted some of Stan's career and personal achievements. The 2018 entry remarks, "our hallowed hero embarks on his final adventure."

The other comic reprint is the first chapter from 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man. I thought that they could've also made room for Stan's first published work, a short text piece from an early Captain America Comics.

The book is a nice, thoughtful tribute to Stan Lee that maybe lacks some of the bombast that I might have expected. There certainly was an emphasis on the television and movie side of things that I suppose was inevitable, but those who put this book together thankfully didn't forget the comic book roots of the media empire that Marvel has since become.

The book ends with a 1967 Stan's Soapbox that looks like it was scanned from an original issue.

Here's the inside back cover, with art by Terry Dodson.

This back cover portrait by Phil Noto was used in all of Marvel's tribute books that came out directly after Lee's death, usually with the colors inverted, for some reason.

I'm really glad to get a chance to actually flip through this book. It's a nice memorial for someone who helped make Marvel what it is today - and it doesn't forget the comics. I hope you enjoyed seeing inside, too!

Sunday, January 30, 2022

pictures from the 2021 Comic-Con Special Edition, part 2

 Is it time to look at more pictures from the 2021 version of Comic-Con? It is! These are all from Saturday, the second day of the show.

For a number of obvious reasons, this Special Edition show was much more stripped down than what you would expect from a regular, pre-2020 convention. The banners were even more low-key, with the toucan taking top billing, rather than having the usual Marvel movie franchise as a sponsor.

Black Widow gets set up as doors open.

Here's a Kingdom Come-era Wonder Woman costume!

I was surprised that I didn't see more costumes that incorporated masks at this show. Here's a perfect example of what you could do with a great costume that you happen to be wearing during a pandemic. What a great Shredder!

The huge SDCC banner made its return to the front of the convention center!

I hear that there are a few Toys R Us locations still functioning in Canada. Maybe Geoffrey is starting the long trek.

HBO's Peacemaker show was by far the most popular offsite event, and it's one of the few things that got close to feeling like how things used to at the show.

And true to Comic-Con fashion, this line took forever to get through. I didn't make it on Saturday, but I kept an eye on this site all weekend.

The barbell is a nice touch. I wonder if he could've brought it in during a more normal year?

Sam Wilson's Captain America and Spider-Punk!

If you moved, she shot you, straight up.

Is this War Machine/Punisher mashup canon? Also, look at this War Machine/Punisher mashup's cannon!

Bob and Linda Belcher continue to be a solid middle-aged fan costume, and the masks add another fun element to these.

What...what is this Captain America statue? An anime thing? It looks like an anime thing.

I asked these folks for their pictures because at first I thought it was a weird Planet of the Apes/Gilligan's Island combo. I quickly realized that they were actually dressed as characters from an anime series. It was too late for me to back out. I took the picture.

I went to some panels this year! I usually plan on going to a bunch but then never find the time. This one was about the Comic-Con museum and their new Gene Roddenberry display.

This was the best group costume by far. How did they get 10 people to go to Comic-Con and all dress up? I don't think this could've happened in a regular year. 

These shots are mandatory.

I don't know what "Under the Oak Tree" is, but good on them for getting the strongest man in the world to help out at their booth. Also, it was great to see a big, gaudy Comic-Con display under any circumstances!

Here's another good use of a costume with a mask. Sub Zero here also had a vape pen that he used to blow smoke for pictures, which certainly broke a lot of convention floor rules, but, okay, it did look like he was breathing out frost.

This was a great Adora costume!

It didn't get much busier than this on the show floor, which is of course a wild departure from years past. You can see here that there also wasn't any carpet on the convention floor. I miss the crowds! But it was nice to be able to walk wherever you wanted to on a Saturday.

Here are a couple of space cowboys.

I guess these are also space cowboys?

Toward the end of the day, I went back outside and checked out the Peacemaker display again. In addition to the trailer/obstacle course that was the main attraction, they also had a food truck set up with free food for the whole day. That was quite a throwback! When I arrived, there were maybe 10 people in line, and everyone could get one item from the menu...but you were allowed to get back in line as many times as you wanted to. Did I try everything on the menu? No, but I did all right. The mozzarella sticks were great! 

Peacemaker's sidekick Eagley was on hand, too, complete with a really thick Brooklyn accent. 

Eagley was also available for more formal pictures.

I enjoyed getting to hang out at this offsite for a little while as the show was nearing a close. I was determined to get in to the actual obstacle course the next day.

There were a number of themed tables and chairs set out on the lawn. It was all very laid back. I definitely enjoyed it.

NBC's La Brea also had a small offsite nearby. I have not seen La Brea. I hear it's about falling into a sinkhole and finding a new world inside the earth? Like hollow earth theory stuff? I mean, okay. Anyway, I got my picture in front of the glowing logo, pretending to sink into what I imagine is prehistoric earth for some reason.

The whole thing took about three minutes to get through, if you took your time. You walked past the logo and saw some wreckage, like a stop light and street sign.

And, uh, an ambulance. The folks working the display gave away from branded swag from the back of the ambulance. I got a water bottle and a portable charger.

And there was also a Wooly Mammoth skull? And some mysterious fog. This was a weird event.

I went back in the convention center for an after-hours panel and found this dancing robot just hanging out and having a good time. It's Comic-Con, baby!


I almost never make it into the Marriott Hotel for a regular year of Comic-Con, despite them having some things that I'm interested in. It's just hard to find the time (and it takes so long to wind through the crowds to get there)! This year, though, in the time between the end of the show and my panel, I got to check out some of what they had to offer, including this awesome (and dimly-lit) pinball room. The machines were set up to play for free, and I played for a solid hour before leaving. It was a lot of fun, and something that I miss out on during a normal year. 

Back to the convention center, where I ran into Mr. Nimbus. A shudder to think what it was like walking around shoeless all day.

Up the escalator.

And into the panel room, where I saw this guy casually walking around with a copy of Action Comics #1. Now, is this the 1938 original? Let's not ask so many questions and just believe that it was.

The panel I was so excited about attending was the Dr. Horrible Sing-Along Blog! One of my favorites. There was no after-show karaoke this year, for the standard reasons, but I hope to make in back in 2022 for another round.

The night ended and I took the trolley back to my room. I waited with Magneto and wondered why she couldn't simply pull the trolley to us with her incredible powers. It was a long day for everyone, I guess.

That's it for the middle day of this Comic-Con adventure. There are more pictures to come!