Friday, November 22, 2013

Enter : Die erstaunliche Spinne !

It´s been two weeks since my last post and as usual I have been more than busy. I thought about doing the big announcement for the Christmas contest that I decided to do, despite all the trouble it takes, but let´s continue with where we left things off : namely the german comics with Spider - Man. Or like he was called in Germany DIE SPINNE ( the Spider ).


Now I´m sure I have mentioned it before but - as some readers may know - there is  a british comic character called The Spider, who was published in the british comic magazine Vulcan and in Germany in KOBRA comics.

I´m no comic historian but there must have been a lot of confusion because of translations where both characters were called Spinnenmann. What I DO know is that in the end The Spider ( who began his career as a supervillain and became a superhero later on ) was called Spiderman in Germany and Spider - Man ( who was a superhero of whom the general public thought he was a supervillain thanks to The Daily Bugle ) was called Die Spinne. Much later, when KOBRA wasn´t published in Germany anymore Spidey was called Spider - Man but mostly inside of the comic or somewhere below the title. They put things like " New York´s big superhero Spider - Man called DIE SPINNE " on the cover where the last two words were the big logo since that was the " brand " if you will that people were familiar with. So, yes, there were two different Spidermen published in Germany and eventually both of them dressed in black.

Which brings us back to the original Spider - Man Peter Parker and his black costume during SECRET WARS II. Because, like I said, I mentioned the whole Spider - Man / Spider / Kobra thing already a few times.


I only threw it in here on the slim chance somebody might mention it in the comments or hasn´t read any of my previous posts where I touched on that subject. Okay, back to my last post on SECRET WARS II where I talked about Spider - Man´s new black costume. I said that this was the look of " my Spider - Man " which - as you might guess - lead to some comments so I wanted to clear that up. When I wrote " my Spider - Man " I didn´t mean the first Spider - Man I read as a kid or the Spider - Man I grew up with but I meant the one that was around when I started reading US comics in the original format. I finally was not only able to read them but I also had found a place to buy them and because they were many years ahead of the german publications a lot of things were different. Like the new black costume. Which Spider - Man wore in the first american Spider - Man issue I ever bought, AMAZING SPIDER - MAN 292.

Not that you see much of it on the cover since Spidey is squished by another Spider - Slayer in a long line of unsuccessful Spider - Slayers.

So when I started reading the real, un - translated wallcrawler he had this cool new costume and being the unexperienced comic reader I was back then I thought this costume was around to stay, this was the new look.

I know, this sounds naiive from Todays perspective but back then things like this DID happen. Superman wore a different costume than when he first appeared, Iron Man had gone from a garish grey to a golden and then golden and red armor and Daredevil had changed his first yellow and black costume to a new, all red costume. So things like a superhero changing his threads were not that uncommon. And I really liked the new costume. I thought it was a great look as far as a redefinition of an old costume goes and I was in for the whole ride, I ate the whole saga with the black costume up. It didn´t last forever and eventually they went back to the classic red and blue costume ( although they alternated between the new costume and the classic one for a while ) but I was okay with either one.

Of course when I think of Spider - Man ( and I´m not talking about the train wreck that the current series is ) I DO think back to those first german comics I read and it´s the classic costume. And - as you can see from the first picture on this post - it´s John Romita´s Spider - Man.

Sure, I eventually read all of Steve Ditko´s Spider - Man and I don´t want to take anything away from that. It´s a great period of the title and absolutely mindblowing. But the part I really enjoyed was when John Romita took over the book, the whole thing with Mary Jane´s first appearance, Mary Jane and Gwen Stacy´s rivalry about Peter but most of all Silvermane, Man Mountain Marko and the Stone Tablet Saga.

I always felt that Spider - Man was at his best when he was fighting street level criminals and you just can´t get better street level criminals than in the various GANG WAR storylines involving such classic antagonists like Kingpin, Hammerhead, Silvermane, Man Mountain Marko and Intrigo.

Who the what now ? Yeah, I guess readers outside of Germany are not familiar with that particular villain from the GANG WAR stories since that was the name he had over here. Probably to make him more intriguing ?

INTRIGO was of course Kingpin´s son and in the original version he was called The Schemer which I have to admit does not have the same ring as Intrigo. I´m not saying that´s a good thing or that´s a bad thing.

But this was my comfort zone in regards to Spider - Man if you want to call it that. I loved the whole soap opera schtick of the series. And when I say series I´m refering to the german editions by the Williams Verlag.


Now the Williams Verlag was not the first publisher to publish Spider - Man in Germany. There was another one, the Bildschriftenverlag who published Marvel Comics including Spider - Man under the label of HIT COMICS. A period which I was lucky enough to miss almost completely.

When they did the whole Stone Tablet / Gang War saga in DIE SPINNE the Schemer / Intrigo was called Der Tüftler ( which means the tinkerer a name that was already taken in the proper Marvel universe ) in issue 225

which was changed to Der Täuscher ( the deceiver ) in issue 227.

The initiated german comic reader naturally knows all about this dark period of german comic publishing history but I guess you have to explain this to newer comic readers in Germany as well as to readers outside of Germany. To say that the art in which the Bildschriftenverlag published Marvel Comics in Germany was problematic may be the understanding of the century. From jumping over issues to printing issues out of order to missing pages, rearranged pages, really appalling redrawn covers,

horrible translations of the character´s names like HALK for the Hulk,

Die X - Männer or X - Menschen for the Uncanny X - Men

or Teufelskerl Devil - Man for Daredevil ( what a stroke of genius )

this company did the whole nine yards of publishing horrors possible.

So I was really glad that I came in long after that when the Williams Verlag started publishing the Marvel Comics and you could actually read books in the right order. Which is not to say that everything was perfect and there weren´t some strange translations of names like Doctor Doom who was called Doktor Untergang or Doctor Strange whose name in the german comics was Doktor Seltsam. There were some weird things like covers that were changed or the whole Namor / Submariner / Aquarius thing.


It´s been a while since I read my issues of DAS SAGTE NUFF ( the best german publication about all the minutia detail of the chaos that was the publishing history of the Bildschriften Verlag ) so I´m not sure who came up with the whole thing. Fact is that Namor´s name always changed.

On the cover. Back then comics had back up features but unlike some comics that had special back up series produced for them in the german comics they just took regular series - mostly series that could not sustain their own title - as back ups. And since those series were never intended as back ups they didn´t have the required length which meant either dividing the issues into various parts or just cutting stuff. When the sales on THOR became unprofitable it became the back up in DIE SPINNE but when the series started it was Prinz Namor who filled up the issues.

Or Aquarius. Depending on which day of the week is was apparently. Because there is no discernible method to this. No recognizable pattern.

It may be Prinz Namor on one cover and Aquarius on the next without any rhyme nor reason and I really don´t want to speculate on that.


Now as some of my more regular readers know this is the part where I usually post homages to classic comic covers but in this post I´m posting something a little bit different. Does this cover look familiar to you ?

Now, as you can see this is the cover for DIE SPINNE 1 by the Williams Verlag, which did not include the first issue of the AMAZING SPIDER - MAN but instead contained issue 15 of AMAZING FANTASY, the first appearance of Spider - Man. They continued with the regular series from the second issue onwards which is the reason why the german numbering is not the same as the american numbering unless they had to split an issue.

I´m not sure why they didn´t go with the original cover ( especially since they went with all the following covers ) but maybe they didn´t find it exciting enough to lure in new readers. The left part with Spider - Man is from issue 98 of AMAZING SPIDER - MAN ( minus the Green Goblin )

which finally did appear in its original version more than 8 years later when it was published as issue 99 of the german title DIE SPINNE.

And this brings us once again to the end of Today´s post. There were a few things I wanted to add before putting a bow on it and which will have to wait until I do my next post on DIE SPINNE but all things considered I think this one went really well without going into too many tangents.


I didn´t get to do a lot of posts the last two weeks because I was busy with the classic episodes of DOCTOR WHO. The plan was to finish up with the episodes I´m missing until the big 50th anniversary episode but since that will air Tomorrow ( simultaneously around the world ) I won´t.

Here in Germany FOX is airing the last episodes from the current series followed by THE DAY OF THE DOCTOR which I probably have to suffer in the german dubbing. So I will have to wait some time until I can watch it in the original version by which time I will hopefully have finished with the classic episodes. For those of you who want to bridge the time until the special airs who haven´t already seen it here´s THE NIGHT OF THE DOCTOR, a little mini episode starring Paul McGann. Possible spoilers.

As for my own watching of classic Doctor Who right now I´m finishing with season nine which is in the middle of the Jon Pertwee episodes.

Which means it´s a whole season before I can watch Sarah Jane Smith make her entrance in THE TIME WARRIOR of which I found a making of. Now, with the part of finding all the black and white episodes I´m in the middle of the third season which is where a lot of episodes are missing and you have to watch the animated or reconstructed versions. Bummer.

Before coming to the video at the end of the post I just have to mention that Today is the 55th birthday of movie cult siren Jamie Lee Curtis.

At the beginning of her career Jamie was known for her impressive set of lungs as one of the best known Scream Queens and her appearances in various horror movies like PROM NIGHT or HALLOWEEN. Later on she was known for her impressive set of lungs....but in a different context. To be precisely her 34C - 22 - 34 measurements. When she finally did lose her " Scream Queen " title, it was in exchange for the name " The Body " ( which is also Elle MacPherson's nickname ) thanks to her revealing roles in 1985's PERFECT and TRADING PLACES.

When she went topless she cemented herself a fan base that would last for years. Not only because she decided to disrobe, but because she had a fantastic body, that she was often referred to as "Freeze Frame" ( a nod to all the VCR users' use of the pause button on certain Jamie Lee Curtis scenes ). What is really remarkable about Jamie is that she did her best striptease very late in her career in the Schwarzenegger flick TRUE LIES.

In fact it's so popular that it's almost impossible to find pictures of her that are not stills from that scene.

She even won a poll for best striptease in 2007. Being a horror fan and a fan of movies like HALLOWEEN, THE FOG or PROM NIGHT as well as a fan of Jamie's more sexy performances I couldn't let this opportunity pass to whish her many happy returns. Be sure to check out my MOVIE CULT SIREN JAMIE LEE CURTIS post that I did last year at length and where you can find more pictures and stuff.

But nevertheless, before finishing this I wanted to pimp a comic I just ordered from at a real bargain price to my german readers.

It´s IDW´s STAR TREK - THE JOHN BYRNE COLLECTION hardcover, a 480 plus pages book that has a regular price of 50 Dollars and is available from for less than 20 bucks at the moment. When that thing arrived at my home I almost fell over at one side because it´s so heavy. If you are a fan of Star Trek or John Byrne ( which I am both ) or like me you bought the Doctor McCoy miniseries for yourself but ended up giving it away as a Christmas present this is the book for you. It contains all four miniseries John Byrne did for IDW and two of the trades will already cost you more than this book so if you haven´t already gotten three of them this is your chance. There are 6 copies left but don´t wait too long.

Today I´m putting two videos on the end of the post. It´s been longer than usual since my last post and the first one is really short. It´s an animation of various commissions John Byrne did which I´m putting here to show why I still absolutely love John Byrne´s comics. Check this out.

The second video is the continuation of THE TERROR OF THE SUPER FRIENDS I started in my last post. After I survived the horror of THE PIED PIPER FROM SPACE the next episode ATTACK OF THE VAMPIRE serves up a real blood - curling story and once again scared the whatnot out of me.

In the story none other than Dracula himself wants to achieve world domination by turning people into - zombies. Which doesn´t make a lot of sense since it would be easier if he turned people into vampires. I mean, he´s a vampire so wouldn´t he turn people into vampires to take over the world ? You could argue that it´s a kids show so showing Dracula turning people into zombies by blowing a magical powder on them is not as frightening as having him bite people. But then he could also turn them into vampires by blowing some magical powder on them. It´s not like this stuff is scientifically accurate. And it´s scary however you do it - because it´s vampires for God´s sake ! Once you have crossed that line there´s no paddling back.I mean what´s the thought process behind this ? Oh, we´re going to do vampires but we won´t make them scary because it´s a kids show ? Dude, this is WALKER TEXAS RANGER all over again.

Okay, two last things I want to mention before the clip : first up, since the whole Justice League ( and when I say Justice League I mean Super Friends ) get turned into vampires does that make a Bat - Batman out of Batman or a Batman - Bat ? Or maybe just Vampire - Bat - Man.

And is it a strange coincidence that the zombie version of Superman

looks exactly like the pre - Supergirl Matrix character in Action Comics 644 when she goes crazy and ends up thinking she´s Superman ?

As with the previous SUPER FRIENDS episode I couldn´t find the full video but I think these highlights ( and when I say highlights I mean .... well, I´m not sure. Maybe these are the highlights ) give you a good idea.

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Friday, November 01, 2013

World´s Greatest Comic Artists : Jim Aparo

I know, I said my next post would be more about Spider - Man´s new black costume but since I like to have some variety on this little blog I thought it would be nice to look to the other side of the pond and write about one of the heroes of my childhood : bat artist par excellence Jim Aparo.

And yes, since I´m talking about the comics I read when I was a little tyke we are going to talk about german comics as you can see by the picture of BATMAN TASCHENBUCH ( Batman pocket book ) 9 here above.

Back then I wouldn´t have dreamt of reading the US versions, because I didn´t have the necessary linguistic skills and quite frankly I wouldn´t have had the slightest idea where to get american comics. Not that I felt the need for that. Because back then I wasn´t such a discerning reader and it wasn´t like there was any problem getting comics. Today you need things like comicshop locator if you don´t know where you can get comics or you don´t have a newsstand near where they sell comics. Back then you knew where to get your comics : at the newspaper kiosk, the stationery shop, the drug store, the supermarket or the local mom - and - pop store.

Now while at that time most people thought comics were cheap trash and only for kids there also was a general understanding that IF you wanted to sell comics to kids you had to make them available whereever kids were - or at least an adult who might want to bribe a kid with cheap four colored fun. You could find them next to packs of sherbet powder, candy and Rubbelbilder and other kids stuff. Like I said, I didn´t much care which comic I picked up because on one side I didn´t have an allowance - at least not on a regular basis - and you never knew which comics you could get. It might have been an issue of FIX & FOXY, MV - COMICS, ZACK, KOBRA, SILBERPFEIL, NICK, WASTL, PELEFANT, DIE SPINNE, GRÜNE LEUCHTE, DER ROTE BLITZ or a comic with SUPERMAN or BATMAN.

And I´m saying a comic with SUPERMAN or BATMAN because they were so successful that they appeared in various forms. BATMAN SONDERHEFT

was a special series dedicated entirely to Batman ( and various guest stars ). Previously he appeared in the SUPERMAN / BATMAN comic books - together with Superman - every two weeks, but due to the big demand for Batman he got this new series with four 32 page issues each year. And when I say 32 pages that includes the covers and while the inside cover was often the first page of the comic the last page was always used to promote other DC or horror comics published by the guys at Ehapa.

By the way, for longtime readers of my blog this might be boring, as I have probably gone over this litany various times - like in my COVER STORY series - and there also might be reposts of previously posted covers. But for the sake of new readers who might be surprised to find out that germans also loved their pulp reading I included it in this post.

But back to the various Batman titles Ehapa Verlag put out between 1966 and 1988 : there was BATMAN SUPERBAND, a 84 page album twice a year.

The title was kind of borrowed from the SUPERMAN SUPERBAND ( just to clear up why they weren´t called BATMAN BATBAND ) and I guess Ehapa just wanted to stick with a name readers were already familiar with.

The BATMAN SUPERBAND was continuously published from 1974 to 1986 and in 1981 Ehapa added another album sized Batman publication, the BATMAN SONDERAUSGABE ( Batman Special Edition ) which only had 74 pages and came out once a year from 1981 until it´s last issue in 1985.

But there were readers who couldn´t afford to shell out 5 or 6 Deutsch Marks to buy the albums but who still wanted to read more Batman stuff.

They bought the much cheaper pocket books I already mentioned ( only between 2.50 and 3.60 Deutsch Marks )  which came out every three months, from 1978 to 1988 and which had 100 pages. There also were BATMAN EXTRA pocket books which cost 1 buck more and had 164 pages. The title was added in 1980, ran until 1985 and came out twice a year.

Now the reason why I included this info is not because I get a kick out of listing details of german comic publishing or to impress my readers.

I did it because while Jim Aparo did the interiors for many of those comics the series he was working on like THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD or OUTSIDERS were scattered through the various german Bat titles. On some cases you were lucky, like with the for german readers indispensable BATMAN SUPERBAND 3 which included the complete BATMAN UNTER MORDVERDACHT storyline ( " The Bat Murderer " which originally appeared in Detective Comics issues 444 to 448, one of Jim Aparo´s best works in my opinion ) but in most cases the series ran through all of the above. And not necessarily in the right chronological order either.

The splash page of Detective Comics 446, found on the fabulous blog Diversions of the Groovy Kind which you can find on the blogroll.

Back to the way in which Jim Aparo´s comics were published in Germany there were also some pages missing, covers which were changed and in some cases whole stories were re - written by the german publisher.


Now if you have read my COVER STORY posts ( which I wrote a few years back but which are still included in the " best of " link so there might be readers who have read it ) you already know that very often the speech balloons were omitted from the german covers like in the case of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD issue 192, used for BATMAN EXTRA 7 shown below.

Here is the ( much more dramatic ) original cover.

As you can see, some of the text would be blocked by the much bigger german logo like on the cover of BATMAN TASCHENBUCH 6

where Robin´s - most important - speech balloon is totally covered up.

Here´s another cover that looks different than the original version :

since the Human Target story from THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD 144 was not included in BATMAN TASCHENBUCH 4, and there was a bar code on the cover most of it was cut out including guest star GREEN ARROW.

Now the cover for BATMAN TASCHENBUCH 27 - which features the Outsiders - may look all right on the first superficial glance.

But isn´t there someone important missing from the team´s roster ?

On the cover of BATMAN SONDERHEFT 40 ( an issue I still have in my comic collection ) another Batman was added for german readers

while a lot of the hieroglyphs were blocked or cut of. Maybe they thought the original was too experimental and would scare off too many readers.

BATMAN SONDERHEFT 27 had a speech balloon on the cover but the text was changed and I can only guess why this was deemed necessary.

The original text in the speech balloon, which was " Whatever happened to What´s`ername ? " is changed to " One of us is a killer - but who ? " which may have something to do with the second female member of the group that most people - and in this case the very Metal Men - have forgotten.

In issue 13 of the regular Metal Men series Tin builds himself a female robot because he is lonely who is later called Nameless by the others. In issue 187 of THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD fellow crimefighter Batman teams up with the Metal Men only to discover that they have completely forgotten their teammate. Which makes him throw a fit, one of the things I liked about 80s Batman. When he was pissed he showed it !

Anyway, the whole story revolves about Nameless and what happened to her after she split from the team. They are briefly reunited but only to witness her demise when she sacrifices herself upon which she is christened as Precious by Tin. It´s a touching story but I guess because the Metal Man series was probably not published in german - or at least the issues with Missus Tin - the original text made no sense.

Oh, and for all people who think Alan Moore used the story title for his 1986 classic WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE MAN OF TOMORROW ? :

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ..... was a series that ran as a back up in DC COMICS PRESENTS that would revisit Golden or Silver Age characters or other characters who haven´t been seen for a long time in the DC universe. It´s mentioned in issue 62 of Twomorrow´s BACK ISSUE magazine and there will be a full feature on the series in issue 64.

And on that final note it´s high time to wrap things up. There are a few things I wanted to add but I guess this will have to wait until another post where I will - hopefully - talk less about different covers and much more about Jim Aparo. And we will discuss the case of BATMAN AND THE DISAPPEARING NAZIS. But my next post will be all about DIE SPINNE, like SPIDER - MAN was called in the german versions of the Marvel Comics.

So, as you may have noticed I didn´t make a post on Halloween. While I like to make these posts for special occasions it just didn´t work out.

Not that I would have had anything important to add this year since we still don´t dress up or go trick - or - treating here in Germany. Yes, I have done a few Halloween posts about horror comics before but nothing really urgent this time around. The only thing I regret is that it would have been a perfect opportunity to post more pictures of hot cosplay massitas.

You know, sometimes less really is more. Holy chain mail bikini !


Now while I didn´t participate in the customary Halloween antics I did celebrate the holiday in my own fashion by finally watching the original CREEPSHOW movie which has been on my laptop for untold ages.

I don´t know if it was because of the long wait or because the sequel was so bad but I really enjoyed it more than I expected. Okay, the comic parts were shorter than in the sequel and the animation was not as elaborate but I really liked it. If you haven´t seen it you might want to check it out ( especially if you have seen the awful second and third parts ) but do take a look at the comic adaption which is done by Bernie Wrightson.

Since CREEPSHOW is not on YouTube and I already posted the sequel in full length on another post I wanted to post something else that totally creeped me out : the SUPER FRIENDS episode The Pied Piper from Space.

I´m not kidding. Since I found a few seasons of LOS SUPER AMIGOS on the internet I started to watch an episode before going to bed.They are absolutely hilarious, especially in the mexican version if you have already knocked back a few. Now, somehow I got the different seasons confused so after watching all the episodes of CHALLENGE OF THE SUPER FRIENDS I now have to watch the earlier episodes. Which is like watching SESAME STREET after watching FRINGE. Not really challenging your brain cells if you get my drift. But I was okay with that because after a hard day´s work you need something lighter to cheer you up and make you laugh.

But the last three episodes I watched were really creepy and I´m not sure if they are really for kids. They seriously didn´t help me get any sleep.

I don´t know who wrote these episodes or what his problem was at that time but they are seriously effed up, man. In THE PIED PIPER FROM SPACE there is a mysterious force which controls all kids on earth and makes them board a spaceship to fly to a distant planet where a life of mindless slavery awaits them. And while the plot is really your run of the mill story where the heroes neatly resolve everything at the end of the episode the images of the mind controlled children are really creepy especially with the underlying real world problem of child labour.

And the next two episodes have Dracula himself who turns everybody into vampires and a satellite that turns desert animals into giant monsters.

Anyway, it´s really high time for me to put a bow on this post so I´ll leave you with THE PIED PIPER FROM SPACE. Sadly I couldn´t find the whole episode on YouTube but I think this video with the first 10 minutes gives you a very good idea how scary it is. And this is for kids ? It scares me !

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest