Grey Matters


I noted on Sunday that my pal Teebore's methodical march through Marvel's X-Men over at Gentlemen of Leisure has reached Oct. 1976's X-Men #101 and the start of the Phoenix saga.

Dark Phoenix gesturing with energy effect around her
Front of cover to Phoenix #1 © 1984 Marvel Comics. Pencils: John
Byrne. Inks: Terry Austin. Letters: Jack Morelli. Colors: Unknown.


Well, I’ve been organizing material from throughout my career as a comics journalist for archiving at another website and I just happened to come across some items related to that epic.

Many of my early articles 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. They were often, due to the promotional nature of the publication, on the colorful side compared to my other writing. And no sooner had I re-read the aforementioned introduction of a bold new identity for Jean Grey, a.k.a. Marvel Girl — or so the story went at the time, but more on that in a bit — than I moved around a few things in need of filing away to uncover 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 typed up 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 the proposed Wonder Woman series, whose
pilot is shooting under the auspices of writer and executive producer David E. Kelley for NBC. Then Adrienne Palicki was cast. Now we have a promo shot of her in costume.


Figures of Wonder Woman in her familiar garb of bustier and high-rise shorts, in new comics outfit with long dark pants and jacket, and embodied by Adrienne Palicki in shiny, garish costume for TV pilot
Blam's Blog composite of (left to right) Roberto Campus painting, © 2007 the artist; Jim Lee
color sketch, © 2010 DC; and Justin Lubin photo, © 2011 NBC Universal & Warner Bros.


You may assume that the outfit is a departure for Diana, if you're not up on your superhero comics, but 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. It's also hardly the first controversial change of clothes for the enduring soldier of serenity created in 1941 by writer and psychologist William Moulton Marston (under the pen name of Charles Moulton), her look defined for decades by original artist H.G. Peter.

X Libris


My friend (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.

Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and Colossus locking in combat with two giant robots atop a building
Cover to X-Men #98 [digital] © 1976 and elements TM/® Marvel Comics.
Pencils, Inks: Dave Cockrum. Letters: Dan Crespi. Colors: Unknown.


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

As I wrote in my first real installment of Empaneled — this blog's raison d'être 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 day, as it was for previous generations, but my childhood also coincided with the rise of the so-called direct market — and within a couple of years of my early, quickly expanding 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 main character 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!


Silver full moon in a cloudless pitch-black sky

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'd 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 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.

The Green, Green Ross


GL Hal Jordan flying through clouds against a blue sky
cover to Green Lantern: No Fear

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


45 RPM single of 'Afternoon Delight'

Glee last week was in many ways not at its best but at its most — at its most plot-oriented, at its most gimmicky, 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".

No-Spin Zone?


'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' poster

This post is currently down for maintenance.

Kodak Moments


James Franco and Anne Hathaway posing in front of giant replicas of Oscar statuette

The Oscars brain-trust was ostensibly going for a fresher, younger feel in 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.