The Poster: An Ode to Arthur Adams

When I was a kid, I had this horrible rainbow wall paper covering one side of my room. I hated it. When I turned about 9 years old, I decided I needed cooler stuff on the walls, so what did I do? Of course I started thumb tacking some of my worn off comic covers to the wall. My parents realized my need for an awesome poster, and bought me an Arthur Adams X-Men poster featuring 16 X-Men!

I hung it in the center of one of the blank walls, making it the center piece of my room. I stared at this poster in amazement so many times, it’s almost like I know every inch of it. It had characters I knew and loved like Colossus and Nightcrawler, characters I didn’t know like Psylocke before she switched bodies and Sunfire in his original costume, and then my favorites in some of their best looks like Storm with her Mohawk, the original X-Men in their matching X-Factor uniforms, and Wolverine in the brown suit. The coolest thing to me for some reason in this poster though, is the fact that Havok is missing his legs. The Characters in the foreground are stacked as they stand ready for action, and you can follow everyone’s legs down and find them in the right place. If you look for Havok’s though you won’t find them. Why do I love this so much? No clue. Maybe it’s because of the error itself or maybe because I didn’t even realize it for years because there was so much to absorb about this piece. There are the textures of their clothes, the realistic look of their hair, Facial expressions that capture their personalities, it was the perfect storm of X-Men characters for the time!

Bottom Line, it’s my favorite X-Men piece, and I still have it framed in my apartment to this day. For anyone who hasn’t checked out Arthur Adams’ work, your missing out! He was a big influence for alot of artists that are big today especially Humberto Ramos! Art has been doing comics since waaaay back, and you’re stilling seeing his art today whether you know it or not! To me, He’s right up there with Ditko, the Romitas, and Jim Lee as some of the great lasting extremely talented artists in comics history. He may not come up in conversation as much, but he helped build my love of comics and possibly even yours too. Ok fine, I’ll do you a favor and add some bonus Arthur Adams art below for you to drool over. Your Welcome, and don’t forget the world is ours to make.

-Nick Flair!

For the Love of Deadpool!

I know Deadpool is alittle over-hyped these days, but I’m doing this series of articles to pay homage to all the guys that really have influenced me in comics. No Deadpool himself isn’t truly an inspiration in creating comics, even though he does break the fourth wall quite often, but some of the early creative teams to take him on were really great to me! Let me be absolutely clear, I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT ROB LIEFELD! Even though he technically created the character, he didn’t really become interesting to me 1993.

 

In his first mini series, Deadpool The Circle Chase: Toliver’s Will, he was being written by Fabian Nicieza and drawn by Joe Madureira. Up until this series all we knew was Deadpool was a mercenary with a healing factor and a bit off mentally.  This series really showed new dynamic’s that hadn’t been seen in him, combined them with some kick-ass action, and art from the rising star of the time MAD! In the story, a powerful man in the underworld, Toliver, has died and left a will that leads to the most powerful weapon the world has ever seen. Needless to say every merc in town is in a free-for-all to get that prize! Deadpool even takes on the likes of Black Tom and the Juggernaut in his quest to get it! In the mean time, an old rival of Deadpool’s long thought dead, has been resurfaced. He’s taken Deadpool’s old girlfriend Vanessa, aka Copy Cat, hostage and looks to exact revenge on the merc with a mouth. At the end, the ultimate weapon is revealed to be a Zero unit. A Zero unit, is an android from the future that has the ability to nullify and destroy any weapons within a certain radius of it. in a twist of fate, Deadpool finds himself facing Slayback (His thought dead foe) and trying to save Vanessa. The end result is Zero destroying Slayback, deeming him a weapon, and about to do the same to Deadpool. When Zero goes to do the same to Deadpool, he pleads with the android to let him save his former love by letting her copy his healing factor. Zero allows it stating the potential for Deadpool to become a hero. In that moment a long standing theme for this character was established for the first time. Redemption.

 

The moderate success of the first mini series led to a second, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Ian Churchill. It tied characters from the mainstream X-Men titles, Banshee and Syrin. Working in the relationship between Black Tom, Banshee’s brother and Syrin’s uncle, and the rivalry between Deadpool, the story further built up the popularity of Deadpool. In 1997, he was finally given his first on going series written by Joe Kelly and drawn by the up and coming Ed McGuinness. This, for me, was the bread and butter of Deadpool. The first issue is one of those comics I wore the cover off from reading a thousand times and just marveling at the awesome art! Deadpool is conflicted after finding out the ‘Demolition of an unmanned scientific edifice’ in Antarctica, turns out to be an experimental Gamma facility. Deadpool then nearly kills himself to prevent the entire northern hemisphere from developing ‘The Big C’. Having experienced cancer at it’s worst and leading him to Weapon-X, Deadpool couldn’t bare the thought of others going through what he did. He nearly kills himself swimming in Gamma irradiated fluid to remove the dangerous gamma core, preventing the potential tragedy. Again, potential redemption is a theme of the character. Wade Wilson is constantly walking the line between good guy and bad guy. It’s makes him such an interesting character! He’s influenced along the way by love interests like Siryn and Typhoid Mary, and friends like Blind Al and Weasel. Eventually the series went in different directions and lost some of it’s initial fan base. At one point it was to be cancelled, but fans rallied to support the book and saved! (On multiple occasions actually!)

After flirting with cancellation (and Death for that matter!) Liefield was an ass and got into it with Marvel about his creation of the character, along with Cable and X-Force, so the story changed to Agent-X and was written by Gail Simon initially. It centered around an amnesiac character thought to be Deadpool. After Marvel worked out their woes with Crapheadface (Rob Liefield and some creative difference Gail Simon and the Marvel editors had, she came back to the title, wrapped it up, and everyone moved on. The void left with out Deadpool needed to be filled though, so he was teamed with Cable and the two shared a book and their adventures for a while. The series was initially written by previously successful scribe Fabian Nicieza. There were some stories that focused on one character over the other, but all and all the series wasn’t bad at all. The two had an interesting relationship that blossomed and eventually impacted each other profoundly. We also got some Kick-Ass covers out of Skottie Young! These were teasers as he did not do the interior art of the actual story though. (That always makes me sad to see a great cover, open the book, and have completely different art inside) Eventually, once again, the book was cancelled. Cable had too much going on and just couldn’t hangout with Deadpool anymore. He needed New friends…

Deadpool then was given his own Team-Up book! It numbered it’s first issue at #899 and counted down issues instead of up. It was almost mocking the fact it knew it would be cancelled from the get go…which it was. I won’t lie I only picked up 1 issue of this book. He teamed up with both Johnny Blaze and Dan Ketch, the Ghost Riders. It wasn’t the worst story in the world, but not the best either. Once again, the best part of this series were the Kick-Ass covers, this time by Humberto Ramos!

Time proves over and over again that the world cannot survive without Deadpool though. With the huge event ‘Secret Invasion’ creating waves all over the Marvel Universe, there was an intricate part to be played by the Merc-with-a-Mouth! As the world is being overrun by armies of Super-Skrulls, only Deadpool could truly take on this threat! In issue 1, disguised as a mascot, Deadpool heroically saves a baseball stadium of people from Skrulls. He allows himself to be taken by the enemy forces, and through a series of hi-jinx, ends up with a Skull-Deadpool Clone Squad! It’s revealed at the end he was working for Nick Fury, acquiring important information on how to kill the Skrull Queen and end the invasion. The information is intercepted by Norman Osborn, and leads to Deadpool seeking out revenge on Osborn.

 

He fights through the Thunderbolts to get to Normie, and proves to be a cold sore on Osborn’s lip. He then orders his Dark Hawkeye, aka Bullseye, to take out Deadpool. FINALLY! This book was back on track to getting to some bad-ass Deadpoolness! They go back and forth for three issues with some great action and awesome storytelling by Daniel Way! This series was different than previous because not only did it again brandish great covers, some by the amazing Dave Johnson, but also maintained great interior art! WAY TO GO PACO MEDINA AND CALRO BARBERI!!!!! The series also dove deep into what it’s like to have a healing factor and possibly be immortal. Deadpool came to a point where he was searching for something to drive him in life. He wondered what the point was in living if you could never die. That theme drove him to do some crazy things and search out new adventures. He wound up in space for a while, and tried reclaiming his title as the world’s greatest mercenary. He found his old buddy Weasel and ran a hero scam in Vegas as a pair of armored bodyguards named Roulette and Wildcard! (Deadpool was introduced by Weasel as his Sidekick!It was definitely one of my favorite stories!) In the end, he ended up finding a place with some old friends, and former enemies alike.

 

Joining Wolverine’s assassination squad, Uncanny X-Force, Wade found a kind of family in the group. He was doing good things for the world in bad ways, but was also finding others doing the same. In a way, Deadpool was the heart of this team. His sometimes child like demeanor not only provided comic relief, but at times added his struggle to do the right thing. He wasn’t the only one walking the line between Hero and Villain, and sometimes knowing that can help you make the right choice between the two. Eventually though, in typical Deadpool fashion, he took those who he counted as friends, and used them.

An amalgamation of his discarded body parts had come together to form a new version of Wade. An EVIL version. With the looks of a Frankenstein monster, and the maniacal mind of Deadpool, this mistake of a being met his end while fighting the original. Wait…met his end??? Yes. For good. After being struck with a dart in the neck (Classic!) It was revealed an antidote to Deadpool’s healing factor had been made. It was created for him specifically, and would kill only him. He didn’t let anyone else know that when he found out though, and used others such as Wolverine, Daken, and the Kingpin to acquire it. Deadpool has long flirted with Death, both literally and in his psyche perceiving her to be real and in love with him. This would be his chance to finally find sweet death, and forever be happy with his ‘Love’. The kicker to this story is, he gets the serum, loses his healing factor and can truly die for the first time, but realizes he doesn’t want to die! He then proceeds to go on living and having to learn to be a hero without being careless now that his healing factor is gone. The book is coming to an end soon. Surprised? This time I am because it’s really good! But have no worries, it’s already confirmed that the book will relaunch in the Marvel Now not-a-reboot reboot.

Thank you to everyone listed in this article, everyone who read this article (Both of you), and everyone that continues to inspire me to create comics… EXCEPT ROB LIEFIELD!!!!!

 

-Nick Flair!

Neal Adams Returns to X-Men…Kind of.

The X-Men are legends in the world of comics. Anyone in the world of comics has a favorite X-Men story or character, and many (like myself) even picked an issue up as their first comic. At one time though the Uncanny X-Men were about to be cancelled. It’s at that time the reigns where turned over to Roy Thomas and Neal Adams. The short story is that the book regained popularity and was saved in the long run. (Obviously because its still around today!) Neal went on after that to do great things in comics, most notably his work on Green Lantern/ Green Arrow. If you don’t know about this guy, do yourself a favor and go research his work! I remember having some of the X-Men covers he did up on my wall from a poster magazine I got as a kid. I always loved his stuff! Then he left comics.

The year is now 2012, its been close to 20 years since he’s done much comic work at all, and a good 40 since he’s been on X-Men. Well guess what? He’s back! Kind of… Neal had an idea. He went to editor Nick Lowe with an idea for an X-Men story, but not one set in this decade. He was thinking about a team of X-Men set before the current X-Men even came together! Professor-X does make an appearance, but not the way you’d think. He declines to be part of such a gathering of mutants at this point in his life. So who leads the team? Who else? Wolverine. At this point in his life, with his bone claws and pre-Weapon-X mentality, he sees the need for a group of mutants (Still limited in number in the world)  to gather together. So who does he gather and who does he fight?

 

Let’s start with the names everyone knows: Sabretooth and Magneto. A mercenary for hire, Sabretooth is recruited by Wolverine. Well, less recruited than hired. Magneto is hunting Nazis, quite similar to his portrayal in X-Men: First Class. They  encounter such opposition as a homeless man, secretly a amnesiac Namor the Sub-Mariner, and the earliest versions of sentinels. What has me interested in this title is the names we don’t know. Bomb, Virus, and Meteor. Keep in mind, it’s been years now since we’ve seen real new mutants! The Scarlet Witch spoke those infamous words, ‘No more mutants’, and then we had to wait years for Hope to come around and bring us something new. This is another chance to see some new powers and personalities in the mutant community.

Normally, the opportunity to check out new characters is enough, but through in Neal Adams and Christos Gage? I’m going to check out the first issue for sure. I think its got some cool potential. The real seller for me was hearing these guys talk about it in Charlotte though. There was tangible excitement pouring out of Neal! He even was so bold as to prediction that after the mini series, “You will see the first X-Men in there own title”. Christos Gage described the series as “Dancing between the rain drops”, referring to the story’s time frame and potential for more exploration. Will it live up to the hype Neal Adams has built around it? I’ll be picking it up to find out, why not give it a chance yourself? Look for it in August at your local comic shop!

 

So while I was a Heroes Con, in Charlotte, I spent alot of my time moving from panel to panel. I was hoping to absorb as much wisdom as I could, and get to see some of my favorite creators along the way. Well when I took my seat in the First X-Men panel, featuring legendary artist Neal Adams, and current writer supreme Christos Gage, I got more than I expected in both.