Vinyl Diving: Tom Dickie & The Desires: Competition

tomdickie_competitionThe second in my reporting on Vinyl Diving with my turntable owning friends. Find #1 was St. Paul, and find #2 was Tom Dickie & the Desires, Competition.

Information on St. Paul was there to be found, if one dug just a little.

Tom Dickie. Not so much.

Whatever happened to Mr. Dickie?

Can I do better than the above information?

It was rock, kind of generic, not bad at all, but not that memorable.

As of 2011, he was filmed making music in Boston still, not the band, the city.

Sadly, no real web presence.

Would I venture out to see him? Perhaps.

Should you venture out to find your own copy of this album.

Perhaps.

 

The Captain America We Need

When Spring arrives, I try and regularly scour local listings for garage sales in the hopes that some day I will have to run across someone selling old RPGs and Comics. I have come close several times, and far more often find offers advertising comic books. Too often, the books are overpriced, or remnants of the speculative-heavy 1990s. But I always love flipping through the possibilities.

187962_1041582_1044Today is Free Comic Book Day. Go out to your FLCBS and pick up some free comics. Some companies do special issues just for FCBD, others do reprints, and others are companies and comics you might never have known existed: “There is a Keyser Soze comic?!?”

Marvel usually puts out a special zero issue tying into their next big event. It’s savvy. This year, of course, they are promoting Secret Empire, the Cap-Hydra story.

Captain-America-black-costume-and-shield-h1Spoilers were released ahead of FCBD, find those, or pick up your free copy and revel in the stunning reveal.

Secret Empire continues to draw lots of attention, most of it bad. This is not the book our current political clime needs is my reaction. Captain America has been many things, and worn many mantles, he rejected the government and donned a black costume, he was a wolf, he was a Nomad.

He has never had a mullet though.

superman-mullet-wonder-wonder-woman

When i find comics at garage sales, I often give in and buy some based solely on the cover, because this is what used to make comics awesome.

16f45d76e472641a16735836279b2f7bI recently picked up Captain America 267, because without even reading, I knew, this was the Captain America we needed.

Probably.

Or maybe he has been Hydra all this time, after-all, he is taking on Everyman.

Would my $2 be a worthwhile investment? The comic came boarded and bagged, so I had to wait until I was home safely to see what was between the covers.

The year was 1982 for the story titled “The Man Who Made A Difference.”

IMG_07761First impression: Mike Zeck is a woefully under-rated artist. Look at the cap, almost cartoonish, but larger-than-life.

But look closer, there is a real charm to these pencils:

IMG_07771

The text and dialogue is by DeMatteis, it is classic Marvel- bordering on silly, grand and sparse at the same time.

Onto the story:

A student protestor spits on Cap, upset about Cap’s version of the American Dream. Tigra and Cap make a cameo. Cap is spit-on again by a different angry young man.

The villain, Everyman, represents “America’s most silent majority,” those living in poverty, and challenges Captain America to a duel at the Statue of Liberty. However, in this Marvelous tale, which hits many ideals from a 70s comic, there is more, or rather less, to the villain than meets the eye, and sure enough, Cap, who worried for the safety of those protesting against him, saves the day, and after that, makes a speech as timely today as it was 35 years ago.

Not only is today’s Cap an agent of Hydra, where is his tumbling, and his motorcycle, and pirate boots, and the teenagers obsessed with dating him?

Do not take my tone to be ironic or sarcastic, truly, this was not a comic worthy or inclusion into any “all-time greatest single issues” list, but it was solid storytelling, and a reminder of what Captain America, and more importantly what comics can be.

Plus, Daredevil takes on Baby Face Johnny in a Hostess ad and there is an awesome D&D on the back cover!

And, I think Everyman really misunderstood the American people if he believed that his bizarre costume and electrified rapier would make him a hero of the people.

Back Issue Bin: X-Men/Teen Titans

Back Issue Bin: Marvel and DC Present The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans, 1982 (W- Chris Claremont, A- Walt Simonson)

imageThe year was 1982. The hottest title at Marvel was Uncanny X-Men, which had been drawn by John Byrne and written by Chris Claremont. Byrne had left in 1981, succeeded by Dave Cockrum. The hottest title at DC was The New Teen Titans, written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez.

The Titans were dealing with all sorts of teenage angst as well as supervillainous threats, while the X-Men had that whole Phoenix thing to deal with. Both titles were capturing the imagination, emptying the pockets, and competing for the attentions of comicbook loving fans everywhere!

So, when these two teams teamed-up for the 4th intercompany crossover it was big news! It would be akin to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones holding a concert together and backing each other up. Or, so as to not date myself, it would be like Jay-Z marrying Beyonce.

The artists for this epic crossover was Walt Simonson had done some work for both companies but was not yet the legend he is today, his Thor run was still a year away.

But, Claremont was the regular X-Men writer. Would it have been awesome to see Perez or Byrne or Cockrum do the book? Yes, but then, that also would have given an advantage to one company over another. As much as I love Byrne’s Marvel output, I would have loved to have seen Perez tackle this book!

Kitty Pryde had only been introduced two years prior, and although she isn’t necessarily a key player here, her character is still defined by being young and swooning over boys and crushing on Piotr. Fortunately, there is nothing as bizarre or creepy as in her Micronauts crossover.

Before I touch on the content, the first thing I noticed was the Marvel house ad on the inside cover .

The image of Kitty is tiny, and truly, I have no idea what “Marvel Comics is Power” means. DC’s house ad at the back of the book makes far more sense “DC Is On the Move!”

Onto the content. If I were to ask you, for either universe to name two teams who would be likely to have to deal with Darkseid and the New Gods, would either team immediately come to mind? Would either team come to mind after listing 10 other teams? Twenty other teams? I would bet the answer would be no.

However, that is the focus of this issue.

And, Claremont makes it work.

I have no idea about the inner workings of either editorial staff, but I might speculate that both companies offered up pitches for a story, and that Claremont’s won.

It involves the Phoenix force, a force so universally deadly and powerful that Starfire knows of and is terrified by it.

This gimmick to tie the two teams together worked very well. Claremont did his homework!

As with all Back Issue Bins, I do not want to give too much away, but if you can find this oversized issue, pick it up!

Back Issue Bin: X-Men and the Micronauts

X-Men and the Micronauts-4 Issue Miniseries (1984, Writers: Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo; Art: Butch Guice)

So, comicbook characters are sometimes treated like real people, with their appearances in other books being highly promoted and a cause for excitement. Of course, these are not real people, and they can make an appearance any time editorial decides it is the right thing to do. For a while, Spider-Man was the go to guy for titles, appearing in Godzilla and The Champions, as well as having his own Marvel Team-Up book. Then, the X-Men arrived. An appearance by an X-Man was reason to celebrate, The Avengers were your father’s team, the X-Men were cool and hip. They fought famine in Africa, crossed over with the Teen Titans, and finally, Claremont and Mantlo teamed up for an X-Men and Micronauts crossover!

For historical perspective, this was when Kitty Pryde was Ariel with her awesome green and brown costume.

The Micronauts were a Marvel property that long out-lasted the toy line they spun off from, and as recently pointed out characters from the Micronauts corner of the universe have remained in the Marvel U, from Bug in the Guardians of the Galaxy (the second most recent iteration) to Baron Karza showing up in the Avengers (although not named).

So, the reasons for the two teams pairing up is typical heavy handed comic book stuff.

But, man oh man, does the writing have some big plot holes and contrivances: Kitty is mind swapped with Karza (not the last time that Kitty has been mind controlled, though in a nice nod to why this happened, it is shown that Kitty needs to practice her psychic shields), but while Karza talks through Kitty’s body and no one is suspicious, Kitty still speaks as Karza it seems. Mind-swapping is a big part of the plot of this series, and at no point as a reader do we not say “but why doesn’t character X just say something?!”

So, aside from era appropriate hammy writing, what reason is there to pick this up? It is a great primer to the Micronauts, whose character designs are top-notch. And, there is some surprisingly mature sexual content, both in regards to Marionette and the very young Kitty Pryde, all of which is off-putting and creepy.

It’s an odd series, but for fans of either the X-Men or Micronauts is worth picking up, if only to get some exciting, long forgotten backstory on both teams, as well as appearances by the New Mutants.