Peace, Rob

Collecting comics is mostly a solitary thing.

Comics'n'More Store

Sure, the Internet makes it easy to discuss comics with fellow aficionados but offline?

The movies and TV series based on comics have made being a collector more socially acceptable but it’s not like you can have a deep conversation with most people about Bendis or how DC would be a better company if you ran it.

The main offline outlet for regularly discussing this thing we love with like-minded people is the local comics shop. Not only is it a place to meet other fans but the best owners and staff — to my mind — are those who know their store is a social hub and spare time to engage their customers in conversation about the medium.

For the past 18 years, Rob Charpentier, the owner of Comics’N’More, was who I had those conversations with nearly every week.

We sometimes discussed running a small business (something we also had in common) as well as the issues that Life presents us all.

But mostly we talked about comics. While there were times he was cynical, he never lost his love for them.

Others have talked better than I can about the kind of man he was and the kind of example he set. He was a leader in the community — contributing and doing what he felt he could to help. Everyone considered him their friend and he was.

Rob died recently and collecting comics has become that much more lonely without my friend to talk to.

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Theakston’s Kirby Photocopies Misappropriated by Kirby Museum

(From my friend, Mark Luebker’s FaceBook feed…)

Friends, if you’ve ever read a Marvel Comic or seen a Marvel Comics movie, please share this.

Greg Theakston is a friend of mine and is getting a raw deal.

He loaned an irreplaceable collection of photocopies he received from his friend and mentor, the late Jack Kirby–one of two or three people who legitimately can be described as the creators of Marvel Comics–to a guy who runs the online Jack Kirby Museum so those copies could be scanned.

Greg recently asked when the copies would be returned, and now the guy refuses to return them, claiming Greg’s loan was a gift.

Greg Theakston's Kirby Photocopies Misappropriated by Kirby Museum

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Savage Hulk and X-Men bundled

A Cool Bonus from Marvel Digital

the cover to Savage Hulk #1 by Alan Davis X-Men #66 the prequel to Savage Hulk #1

I bought Savage Hulk #1 partially because Alan Davis is a guaranteed good read but also because it guest-starred the X-Men set just after their original run — a favourite era and a favourite team (I’m a sucker for the originals).

I recommend this comic but what was really cool was what happened when I redeemed the comic on .

In addition to getting the digital copy of this issue, Marvel also included a copy of X-Men #66 — the 1960’s issue that, in continuity, immediately precedes Savage Hulk #1.

I had never read this issue before so it was new to me. Couple that with there was no indication that the issue was included with registering, this was a very cool surprise from Marvel.

I wonder if they’ve done this with any other of their comics?

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Who Named Franklin Richards?


From the letters page of Fantastic Four 87 (first series):

Dear Stan and Jack,

In FF #83, on page 11, you show Sue Richards trying to decide on a name for her baby. Perhaps I can help. Look back to FF #32, “Death of a Hero”, where Sue’s and Johnny’s father has been kidnapped by the Skrulls. When he is returned to them, he has been mined to kill anyone who comes near him. Rather than do that, he falls to the floor, taking the full force of the blast. What I’m getting at in a kind of round-about way is: why not name the baby “Franklin” after Dr. Franklin Storm?

Sgt. Michael L. Kuhne, Kuhne, AF 19820744, P.O.B 12000
Kessler AFB, Miss. 39534

Franklin Richards… Franklin Richards… you’re right, sarge; it does have a kind of distinguished ring about it. It really is about time we started thinking of the baby’s name… we’ll just haveta see what everybody else thinks before the climatic christening!

Was this the inspiration for the character’s name? The name is kinda obvious in hindsight but this may have been the suggestion that started the ball rolling. I’m willing to give it to the sarge.

Albeit, the character didn’t get named until issue #94 but rule of thumb says 5 months lead time between when something would happen in the market and when a reaction could happen in publication. There’s 7 issues lead time here. Enough time for some deliberation?

I’m still willing to give the credit to Sarge.

Here’s another bit of trivia: what is Franklin Richards middle name?

—answer —

Benjamin. Named after his uncle, natch.

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The Secret Society of Super-Villains
— Why It’s Great

“I propose we remain a team — a secret society of the super-villain elite!”
— Manhunter

The Secret Society of Super-Villains

The 70’s were a good time to be a criminal.

Where popular media in the 1930’s saw a fascination in crime, comics in the 1970’s saw crime’s renaissance as a genre.

Marvel experimented with two different Dr. Doom series and when monsters became a fad, two series were launched starring Spider-Man villains — Morbius and Man-Wolf.

DC launched The Joker, Man-Bat and Kobra into their own series. But DC hit jackpot, IMHO, when they launched the “Anti-Justice League”… The Secret Society of Super-Villains.

Part of what made the series interesting was, much like The Defenders, they were a sort-of “non-team” — the members and guest stars changed nearly every issue. Also like the Defenders but moreso, the way DC’s editorial fiefdom worked, the SSOSV had to rely on very few “marquee” characters. But that just made things that much more interesting.

Another part was that the book’s direction changed several times as the Society’s fortunes (and creative teams) changed, creating a roller coaster ride of plot turns.

The original idea was simple: a legion of villains are gathered together by Darkseid to work as his agents. But conflicts ensue amongst themselves and against Darkseid — culminating in the seeming end of the team and the death of one of their members.

Then former member, Captain Comet, became the star of the book. Each issue, he would team up with a different hero to take on the villains.

During this time, the Society became “villains for hire”, and in the process, steal back the spotlight in their own book. And then the pace really picks up.

The frequency of the book goes from bi-monthly to 8 times a year (both of which were common publishing schedules at the time — frequency being an indication of sales), they got a double-sized special and crossed-over with other books.

Then things changed again.

As to be expected, the reason many of the villains stayed with the team wasn’t just money but as a stepping stone to their own secret “Master Plans”.

When one of the villains’ plans work out, the next stage of those plans is begun and a new team forms.

The new team journey to Earth-2 but with an unplanned detour to Earth-3 where they have to fight the Crime Syndicate. Continuing to Earth-2, they take on the Justice Society — capturing Dr. Mid-Nite and The Atom.

Back on Earth-1, former members arrive at headquarters and form a new team of villains for hire. Two teams simultaneously. Awesome.

Or it would have been. The book was cancelled suddenly and it was many months before DC confirmed to the readers that it had been cancelled (this was another artifact of the times — comics distribution could be spotty so I was never sure if I missed an issue or if a given book was cancelled).

There were little obscure gems that floated out there such as the 16th and unfinished 17th issue, published in Cancelled Comics Calvacade (only 35 copies made) or the original first issue, published in Amazing World of DC (available by mail order only). A script for the 18th issue exists but it looks like it will never see daylight. A finished first issue for a spin-off Grodd series exists but was never published.

Much later, in a sleepy issue of JLA, just when the reader is past bored — abruptly the Society is back from Earth-2 and have taken over the JLA satellite. This was their last hurrah but they went out on a high note.

Other teams with the same name later appeared but it was never the same in my mind. The craziness, the flawed characters (DC was still the home of the perfect, unconflicted heroes for the most part), the unusual set-ups of plot.

I understand that there were a lot of challenges for the people putting out this book but it didn’t read that way at the time. It was an odd book but I loved it. I think a lot of other people did too.

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