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Star Trek (DC Comics, 1984) #39-40 – The Return of Mudd (Review)

The first Star Trek pilot, The Cage, was produced in 1964. To celebrate its fiftieth anniversary, this December we are reviewing the second season of the original Star Trek show. You can check out our first season reviews here. Check back daily for the latest review.

By its nature, Star Trek had very few recurring guest stars – outside of recurring extras and the supporting senior staff.

Star Trek was a prime-time science-fiction show in the sixties. As such, it was strongly episodic. More than that, it was a show that included its stated goal – “to explore strange new worlds” – in a narration over the opening credits. As such, the show did not tend to bring back too many recurring characters. Gene L. Coon had tried to introduce a recurring foil for Kirk in the second season, but Robert Justman had vetoed the reappearance of Kor in A Private Little War and Coon would depart before he could follow through on plans to make Koloth a recurring adversary.

Our man Mudd...

Our man Mudd…

Of course, this has not stopped Star Trek fans from seizing on various one-shot characters from the three seasons of the original Star Trek. Despite only appearing in Errand of Mercy, Kor has become a frequently recurring character in the Star Trek mythos. Gary Seven has spun off from Assignment: Earth into a string of novels and comics. Christopher Pike only appeared with Kirk in one single story, but there is a huge amount of literature dedicated to him. Still, this means that the elements which do recur are given a bit more weight.

Klingons, Romulans and Vulcans are a vital part of the Star Trek mythos. Khan Noonien Singh only appeared in Space Seed and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but his memory haunts the franchise to the point where he was revived for Star Trek Into Darkness. Harry Mudd has the distinction of being the only non-crewmember to recur within the original run of eighty episodes. So it is no surprise that Harry Mudd has become one of the most frequently recurring guest stars in the history of the franchise.

Kirk meets quirky...

Kirk meets quirky…

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Spider-Man vs. Wolverine (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of The Wolverine later in the month, we’re taking a look at some classic X-Men and Wolverine comics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday here. I’m also writing a series of reviews of the classic X-Men television show at comicbuzz every weekday, so feel free to check those out.

Well, at least it’s honest. Spider-Man vs. Wolverine doesn’t promise a superhero team-up so much as a comic book bust-up. Many comic crossovers open with two characters throwing down, perhaps playing to the geekish fanboy fascination with the idea that “my hero can beat your hero.”

Such brawls are so common that Marvel’s recent span of blockbuster events has been based around the idea of heroes fighting one another. Civil War pitted Captain America against Iron Man. Secret Invasion saw heroes fighting aliens impersonating heroes. Siege was about heroes defeating supervillain imposters. Avengers vs. X-Men… well, exactly what it says on the tin.

So the title of Spider-Man vs. Wolverine is refreshing frank, opening acknowledging this tendency and going so far as to make it the centrepiece of the book.

"So, um, when does the team-up start?"

“So, um, when does the team-up start?”

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Star Trek (Gold Key) #56 – No Time Like the Past (Review)

To celebrate the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness this month, we’ll be running through the first season of the classic Star Trek all this month. Check back daily to get ready to boldly go. It’s only logical.

We’ll be supplementing our coverage of the episodes with some additional materials – mainly novels and comics and films. This is one such entry.

It’s remarkable to think that Star Trek was kept alive in the decade between the airing of The Turnabout Intruder and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The most popular television show to air in the 1968 and 1969 season was Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, a show that was apparently lucky to receive two “best of” DVD collections in the early part of the last decade, collecting a grand total of eight of the 140 episodes. Given that Star Trek didn’t even rank among the twenty highest rated shows of that broadcast season, it’s incredible that the show endured for so long.

To be fair, there is a lot of material which fills the gap between the last episode of the live action television show and the first feature film. There was Star Trek: The Animated Series, perhaps the most high-profile release. There were a few novels, even if the tie-in line wouldn’t necessarily take off until the eighties. And there were the comic books, produced by Gold Key, notable as perhaps the largest publisher of non-superhero comics in the seventies.

These comics weren’t classics. It’s hard to argue that they are essential additions to the mythos, or that anybody would miss anything be ignoring them entirely. However, there’s a weird pulpy sci-fi charm to these stories that makes them interesting, even when you would wonder whether the artist or writer had actually watched any episodes of the show they were apparently adapting.

Trippy!

Trippy!

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DC Comics Classics Library: Roots of the Swamp Thing (Review)

Sometimes a creator leaves such a massive impression on a character that it’s almost hard to believe that the character ever existed before the writer in question began their run. Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing is one such run, a modern day comic book classic which still reads as one of the best continuous runs by an author on any serial publication, ever. However, despite the fact that Alan Moore effectively defined the monster, Swamp Thing actually enjoyed a long publication history even before Moore began writing the title.

Roots of the Swamp Thing only collects the first thirteen issues of the first Swamp Thing title, but it’s enough to get a flavour for the title under Len Wein and artist Bernie Wrightson. While it still remains in the shadow of an author who took over later, it’s not a bad monster book in its own right. It still struggles a bit to find its own identity, but there’s some interesting ideas – and it’s easy enough to find some of the ideas Moore would develop to great success gestating between the lines.

It’s alive!

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Legends of the Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Dark Knight Rises, July is “Batman month” here at the m0vie blog. Check back daily for comics, movies and television reviews and discussion of the Caped Crusader.

I do appreciate these nice hardcover collections that DC are putting out, collecting the work of iconic artists on iconic characters. There have been a number of Legends of the Dark Knight and Tales of the Batman collections, and DC will soon be publishing an Adventures of Superman: Gil Kane collection. So it is great to have pretty much all of Marshall Rogers’ work on Batman collected in one nicely-sized hardcover for the reader to digest, especially considering the monumental impact that some of his work has had on the character and his mythology. That said, there are unfortunately some production issues with the hardcover that take away from the experience of having all these stories released in a high-quality format in one place.

Na na na na na na na… Batman!

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Chris Claremont & Frank Miller’s Wolverine (Review/Retrospective)

With our month looking at Avengers comics officially over, we thought it might be fun to dig into that other iconic Marvel property, the X-Men. Join us for a month of X-Men related reviews and discussion.

It’s almost hard to believe that Wolverine only earned his first solo miniseries in 1982. The character had first appeared as a foe in The Incredible Hulk in 1974, and was coopted in the X-Men with Len Wein’s Giant-Sized X-Men #1 a year later. During Chris Claremont’s celebrated Uncanny X-Men run, Wolverine emerged a hugely popular character. In fact, I think you could make the argument that Wolverine and Storm were the central protagonists of Claremont’s epic X-Men run. Still, given how ubiquitous the character has become in recent years, it’s impressive that it took so long for him to get a solo adventure. The four-part Wolverine miniseries, written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Frank Miller, is generally regarded as one of the best miniseries that Marvel ever produced, and I think that it provided a lot of the momentum and characterisation that would sustain the character over three more decades of solo appearances.

Get some…

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X-Men by Jim Lee and Chris Claremont (and Marc Silvestri) Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Review/Retrospective)

With our month looking at Avengers comics officially over, we thought it might be fun to dig into that other iconic Marvel property, the X-Men. Join us for a month of X-Men related reviews and discussion.

If the nineties could be said to belong to any particular comic book franchise, they belonged to the X-Men. Marvel has done a great job collecting classic X-Men storylines in oversized hardcover, already having more than half of Chris Claremont’s very long run available in the format. Reading his work collected here, I find myself frequently conflicted – I can’t decide whether the writer was one of the best long-form storytellers in the medium, or whether he was writing by the seat of his pants. A lot of the threads he ties together might not wrap up satisfactory, but his overarching stories suggest an incredible amount of planning. As the author led the Uncanny X-Men into the nineties, the title seems almost in chaos, but the most carefully organised chaos imaginable.

We all have our crosses to bear…

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X-Men: Inferno – Excalibur (Review/Retrospective)

With our month looking at Avengers comics officially over, we thought it might be fun to dig into that other iconic Marvel property, the X-Men. Join us for a month of X-Men related reviews and discussion.

This weekend, we’re taking a look at one or two of the smaller Inferno crossovers. These issues are collected in the crossovers companion book.

It’s actually quite impressive to think of the mythology-building that Chris Claremont was responsible during his incredible run on Uncanny X-Men. The X-Men had, of course, been confined to reprints for years before Len Wein revived the concept in Giant-Sized X-Men #1, but Claremont guided Marvel’s merry mutants to the heights of success. I think it’s entirely appropriate that the first issue in his last arc, X-Men #1, remains the biggest-selling comic book of all time – cementing Claremont’s impact.

Even though many people would argue the X-Men only really exploded during the speculation bubble of the nineties, it’s remarkable just how much Claremont and his collaborators were expanding the line. By the end of the eighties, Uncanny X-Men had accumulated several satellite books. Of those, Claremont had the pleasure of working with renowned artist Bill Sienkiewicz on New Mutants, while Excalibur paired the scribe with Alan Davis, one of the most respected artists in the business.

What possessed them to come to New York?

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Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory: The Bulleteer (Review/Retrospective)

December is “Grant Morrison month” here at the m0vie blog, as we take the month to consider and reflect on one of the most critically acclaimed (and polarising) authors working in the medium. We’ve got a special treat for you this week, which is “Seven Soldiers Week”, so check back each day for a review of one of the Seven Soldier miniseries that Morrison put together.

There’s a whole class of people in hospital wards, Mrs. Harrower, people who’d do just about anything to hang out with the skintight crowd. They expose themselves to radioactive materials or drink home-made potions… They interact with venomous insects and dangerous animals in the expectation of receiving some totem power.

There’s not a lot of sympathy among medical staff who have to clean up the mess.

The Bulleteer is a wonderful deconstruction of the superhero world we see so often reflected in the comics of Marvel and DC. These characters were created decades ago, in a different world. Writing elsewhere last year, I wondered if the very concept of a secret identity is outdated, a genre convention which doesn’t reflect the modern world. Clark Kent is a modest cover for Superman, a creation which afford him the opportunity to pretend to be normal, a humble camouflage that seemed perfectly quaint in the thirties. These days, I wonder if people would even bother. After all, in this era of instant celebrity and reality television, with the entire world aspiring to become “special”, why would you ever want to be normal?

What happens when the shine comes off?

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