Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Fanholes Toku Thursdays Episode #54: Kamen Rider Zangetsu -Gaim Gaiden

Tony and Derek are back to talk about, you guessed it, Kamen Rider Gaim! This is the third Gaim Gaiden and is also a theatrical stage play!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Justice Not Entirely Dissimilar To Lightning # 10: Thunderbolts # 9 and Tales of Suspense # 52

Mike, Justin and Derek discuss the ninth issue of Thunderbolts, featuring The Black Widow! Then in  the second half of the show we review the very first appearance of Natasha Romanoff in the pages of Tales of Suspense!

Download this episode!

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Mike's Favorite Transformers Comic Covers! (Marvel Edition)

So I did my favorite IDW Transformers comic covers and my favorite Dreamwave/Devil's Due Transformers covers, so that just leaves my favorite Marvel Transformers covers!

Here we go as before, in descending order of release date, my top twenty favorite Marvel TF covers!


20. Transformers: Generation 2 # 8
Art by Derek Yaniger, April 1994

If you know me, you know I love the concept of what I call "Rival Fusion"- where mortal enemies put aside their differences and fight side-by-side (or back-to-back) against a greater threat. This cover beautifully demonstrates that notion and is perhaps one of the first times I ever recognized it as a trope I was a big fan of. The alliance between the Autobots and Decepticons is best exemplified by Optimus Prime and Megatron's cooperation of course, and Derek Yaniger's signature gritty art brings that to life wonderfully here. Now if only he drew the entire actual issue's interiors instead of just the opening five pages...

19. Transformers: Generation 2 # 5
Art by Derek Yaniger, January 1994

Another Yaniger classic, and one that's been homaged at least once in subsequent Transformers comic series. It's the end of the road for Bludgeon at the hands of the all-new, upgraded Megatron, and again... it's kind of a shame Derek Yaniger didn't get to draw that confrontation in the actual comic! Bludgeon's Pretender shell head is his most recognizable visage as a character, and Megatron would even keep it as a trophy in-story after having killed his successor to Decepticon leadership. It's a cool, memorable cover that also could be a real scene in the comic.

18. Transformers: Generation 2 # 1
Art by Derek Yaniger, September 1993

Probably THE most well-known Yaniger cover and it's what initially caught my eye in the comic store where I first bought it as a tender and innocent nine year-old. I had no idea Transformers was coming back in comic form, and the excitement I felt to pull this off the shelf and thumb through its pages is a feeling I can still remember. I actually had the foil variant that opened up into a two-page spread battle scene, but the cover image itself is what seared itself into my mind. Sure, it's completely "EXTREME 90s" in attitude and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for bullet casings to be lodged in Prime's head, but I don't care. The nostalgia goggles are firmly on for this one and Generation 2 in general, really.

17. Transformers # 71 (US)
Art by Andrew Wildman, August 1990

Another iconic image of Optimus Prime as he lays down an Autobot shield and surrenders to Scorponok in the pouring rain. The layout, attitude, and weight of the moment are perfectly captured by Wildman, whose humanizing influence on Transformers artwork cannot be understated. He might have been the first one to have Transformers actually able to "close" their optics like human eyes (although I could be wrong, but he's the one who I first noticed doing it) and it certainly helps the downcast look of Prime here. The notion of Transformers surrendering via playing their badge on the ground would be revisited a few more times in different future series, and with clear reason when you consider how impactful this cover is.

16. Transformers # 70 (US)
Art by Andrew Wildman, July 1990

OH MY GOD. I have that reaction every time I see this one! Truly one of the most disturbing covers for Transformers, for COMIC BOOKS in general I've ever beheld. The fused Megatron/Ratchet monstrosity is one of the more deranged ideas Simon Furman introduced during his run on US Marvel and Wildman sells the CRAP out of it. I remember my mom seeing me read this issue, wrinkling her nose and squinting her eyes, and asking "What is THAT??" upon registering the cover. The notecard that implores the reader to "help thǝm" is just the right amount of absurd to off-set the horror on display here. I love it.

15. Transformers # 67 (US)
Art by Jim Lee, April 1990

It's one of two covers that Jim Lee drew for the Marvel Transformers books, and this is the one I like best (even though the other one has a scantily-clad alien babe on it.) Just a fantastic, evocative image of Galvatron atop an immolated Earth, which of course is rather reflective of the contents of this issue. Set in a horrific future where Galvatron has conquered the planet and hunted the Autobots to near-extinction, the Galvatron seen here will go on to be a regular character in the series right up until its conclusion and this is a great debut for him. Jim Lee was still "making his bones" as a young artist for Marvel at this point, but I've always been a fan of his work and even his earlier stuff is plenty impactful and stylistic.

14. Transformers # 295 (UK)
Art by Stewart Johnson, November 1990

Little out of order here as far as release date goes, but this issue contains a reprint of part of Marvel US # 66, so I'm going with story order instead. Obviously, it's a close-up of Thunderwing's ugly Pretender mug and thus I'm a fan of my favorite Decepticon taking center stage. It also kind of reminds me of the cover of a treasured Spider-Man trade I own collecting stories about another favorite comic book villain of mine (and ironically drawn by Derek Yaniger), so I've got a soft spot for this cover based on that too.

13. Transformers # 261 (UK)
Art by Stephen Baskerville, March 1990

There was always a bit of extra "cheek" in many Marvel UK Transformers covers, with either some clever wordplay, a character addressing the reader, or a straight-up gag. This particular story is a bit of light fun on Simon Furman's part, and the cover is quite reflective of that, capturing the "buddy cop" antics of Prowl and Wheeljack inside. What's interesting is that Stephen Baskerville is credited as having drawn this cover, and while I'm not doubting that, he's more known for his inking work than penciling. Still, he sells the gag effectively here, even if Prowl's eyes might be a bit too big for his head!

12. Transformers # 60 (US)
Art by Jose Delbo and Danny Bulanadi, December 1989

This might have been the first Simon Furman-written Transformers comic I ever owned, and hence was also likely the first time I was properly introduced to Thunderwing and Bludgeon. The cover by the prolific (if very uneven) Jose Delbo is one filled with energy and I'm sure any kids who bought this issue and then bought a Bludgeon toy were disappointed to learn it does not actually include a katana accessory. I really like the angle chosen here and Delbo's not often known for such dynamic or cinematic staging of action, so this really stands out in my mind.

11. Transformers # 230 (UK)
Art by Andrew Wildman, August 1989

Nightbeat's a character Simon Furman really took a liking to and made shine, and his first appearance in comic book form here instantly tells you who he is and what he does. I dunno if it was Furman or Wildman's idea to put Nightbeat in a trenchcoat and fedora, but I love the absurdity of it (and kind of think it looks a bit cool too, actually!) This is obviously one of the most iconic images of Nightbeat, and I actually tried to replicate it with a toy once upon a time...

10. Transformers # 202 (UK)
Art by Andrew Wildman, January 1989

While I actually got to read the NEXT issue (#203) as a kid before the rest of the story, THIS cover is what instantly comes to mind when I think of "Time Wars". Megatron and Galvatron teaming-up was the main selling point of the storyline, and while Time Wars has numerous flaws, their deadly alliance was given its due and then some. Wildman scores again with the staging and poses, and poor Battletrap and Topspin's remains at the bottom there are only a hint of the carnage within and to come in future installments.

9. Transformers # 41 (US)
Art by Jose Delbo and Dave Hunt, February 1988

This issue is one of my personal favorites based on its content, but it's actually the cover that sold me initially. I mean, it's a bit messy, but as a kid all I could think was "LOOK AT ALL THE TOYS!!!" Delbo really tries to cram as many characters as he can in there as virtually ALL the Decepticons and ALL the Autobots have a massive battle on the moon in this issue. Sometimes it kind of looks like he was just tossing in people to fill space though (Why is Red Alert there? Why is he completely colored red? Why is he just chilling in vehicle mode off to the side?) Still, clearly it worked on seven or eight year-old me, because I eagerly snatched it up when I first encountered it in a back issue bin with the second thought "This one's GOTTA be good!" And I was right!

8. Transformers # 133 (UK)
Art by Dave Gibbons, October 1987

Look at that beautiful, crisp, precise image! Dave Gibbons, hot off the tails of "Watchmen", deigned to draw a cover for some rubbish toy comic! Simon Furman must have been beside himself with giddiness, having his hot new character Death's Head drawn by Gibbons at that. I happen to like Death's Head myself, and this is a beautiful rendering of him as he towers menacingly over the beaten Rodimus Prime. I'd say that, on average, the US comic had better original covers than the UK magazine (despite their greater volume of covers), but every so often, you get a gem like this one that blows everything else on either side of the ocean out of the water.

7. Transformers # 31 (US)
Art by Bob Budiansky, April 1987

An infamous issue and one often pointed to when criticizing Bob Budiansky's body of work on Transformers. Fittingly, this cover is also drawn by Budiansky, and... it's pretty good, actually. Quite memorable too, which is why it's on this list. The bile leveled at "Buster Witwicky and the Car Wash of Doom" seems to have mostly abated nowadays and I and many others maintain a certain level of fondness for this campy, but undeniably charming one-off tale. Ratbat was a fairly-important character in the Marvel comics, and he's rarely looked so menacing as he does in this image. Buster Witwicky and his girlfriend Jessie's role in the Marvel comics would taper off fairly soon after this issue, so this is a nice spotlight for them too at least.

6. Transformers # 27 (US)
Art by Herb Trimpe, December 1986

Another personal favorite issue in general, and like US # 41, the cover totally got me to immediately grab for purchase. I mean, it's the Dinobots versus Trypticon... what kid WOULDN'T be excited by that, even if they had no idea who these characters were? It's a bunch of robot dinosaurs fighting an even BIGGER robot dinosaur! If that isn't an effective formula to sell molded plastic to kids, I don't know WHAT is. The up-lit angle immediately draws your attention to Trypticon's size, and the positioning of the Dinobots does well to emphasize his threat too. Trypticon's holding Slag like he's a friggin' TOY, and the others seem barely able to keep up or slow the giant Decepticon down in the least. Their confrontation (and Trypticon's size for that matter) shakes out a bit differently inside the pages of this issue, but the cover at least tells you that the Dinobots have a serious fight on their hands.

5. Transformers # 21 (US)
Art by Herb Trimpe, June 1986

I love the layout of this cover in that the Aerialbots are positioned as the THREAT while the Decepticons take a defensive posture. That's not too far from the truth in the actual story, where the Aerialbots and Superion through action or inaction nearly kill more humans than they attempt to save! Sure, you've got to ignore that whomever colored this cover accidentally left the red off of Fireflight and the Seekers' color layouts are only vaguely correct, but otherwise this is an impressive and dramatic visual debut for the Aerialbots in comic book form. The Aerialbots Over America "headline" over the main title always stuck with me too... I guess that's just the power of alliteration!

4. Transformers # 12 (US)
Art by Herb Trimpe, October 1985

One of the first Transformers comics I ever read and the cover certainly grabs you. Even at my rather young age reading this, I was aware Optimus Prime was the leader of the good guys so why oh why was he shooting at his friends?? I mean, granted, it just kind of looks like he's just heating the water they're in up and scalding their feet or something, but y'know... it still works. Herb Trimpe's something of an unsung hero of the Marvel comic, having drawn some interior art and MANY covers (nearly an entire quarter of the US comic's run!) as has been apparent for the last few entries. The fact that this one is so firmly seared in my mind might merely owe to my own nostalgia, but it remains a striking image nonetheless.

3. Transformers # 6 (US)
Art by Alan Kupperberg, March 1985

Either this issue or the Sunbow episode "Fire in the Sky" was the first bit of Transformers media I was ever exposed to. I'm not sure which one came first, my memory is too cloudy, but I am certain that this issue is definitely what I latched onto the most. I distinctly remember believing for a short time that Shockwave, and not Megatron, was the main bad guy and rightful leader of the Decepticons, and this cover would really have you believe that! Megatron is being blasted, he appears smaller and less-dominant than Shockwave, and the story within kind of reinforces all that. Like with the previous entry, my nostalgia overpoweringly draws me to this image, even if it isn't the MOST memorable image of Shockwave (or Megatron for that matter) there is. It's still a cool image, but I think it probably wouldn't be on many other people's lists of favorites, HOWEVER...

2. Transformers # 5 (US)
Art by Mark "M.D." Bright, February 1985

Well, this one is obvious, right? The most famous image of G1 Shockwave, one of if not THE most famous cover from the Marvel run of Transformers, and probably one of the most famous Transformers images ALTOGETHER. Even casual fans and comic readers who have never even read a Transformers book have probably seen this cover before. I actually received this issue AFTER issue # 6, and I probably even liked it a bit less (not as much action), but the cover was still pretty affecting to me as a kid. I might have even been a little scared of it frankly, cuz DAMN, LOOK at it! Is it any wonder that Shockwave became one of my favorite Transformers characters? What else is there to say?

1. Transformers # 3 (US)
Art by Mike Zeck, September 1984

I got this issue fairly early on in my Transformers and comic book fandom (although not as early as some of the others listed above), and for awhile it was the only installment of the original four-issue mini-series that I owned. Not only does it occupy a place in my heart for Transformers significance, but quite obviously, it also represents one of the first times I was exposed to Spider-Man in comic book form too. In fact, this might be THE first comic in which Spider-Man appears in that I ever owned! My memories of the time are again, cloudy- but I'm reasonably sure I had only ever seen Spider-Man in animated form at this point and was only recently gaining an appreciation for him. When I received actual Spider-Man comics as a gift shortly thereafter, I had already gotten my feet wet with this issue!

It's fairly appropriate that it's Mike Zeck drawing this cover and the black costume, considering his most famous Spider-Man tales feature it. The fact that Megatron is even but temporarily stymied by Spider-Man's webbing can always be held up as a standard of how strong it is supposed to be (you can't cut it with a knife, I don't care HOW Michael Keaton you are!) Even if the Transformers didn't stay long existing in mainstream Marvel continuity, their brief team-up with Spidey was fairly memorable and this cover is the chief artifact of it.

And that's that!



0. Transformers (US) # 58
Art by Jose Delbo, July 1989

This is a frankly bizarre one... I can't tell if it's SUPPOSED to be minimalist, or if it is just lazy and only vaguely reflective of the contents of the issue. Optimus Prime does get angry in this issue, but not to the extent where he turns completely red and randomly gains pupils. It seems almost like Jose Delbo was running late on deadlines, and he or someone else just grabbed an Optimus head he had already drawn and added the expression. Speaking of the expression, why IS Optimus so mad at Spider-Man in the corner there? Is it because Spidey left after issue # 3 and never called the Transformers back? Does Optimus have abandonment issues regarding Spider-Man? Does the madder Optimus get at Spider-Man, the stronger Optimus become? Who can answer these questions? What's going on? When will I know?? Why do I care???



Thanks for reading!