Thee Comic Column #128: Let’s Talk About Joss Whedon’s Avengers

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-PosterWell, I suppose it’s a bit of a no-brainer that I would be writing about Avengers: Age of Ultron today as pretty much any card-carrying geek on the interwebs is sure to feel the call to do so. That said, I want to talk about something beside plot points or how great everybody’s performances were; the effects; and juxtapositions between this and the Brian Michael Bendis comic story by the same name which just so happens to be VERY different. No, I don’t want to talk about any of that. What I really want to talk about is how Joss Whedon essentially brought a Chris Claremont comic from the 80s to life.

Thee Comic Column #98: Bill Sienkiewicz’s Stray Toasters

Stray ToastersIt’s 1988 and I’m 12 years old. While out running errands with my mother in Worth, IL I get her to stop at Heroland Comics on 111th. This is a regular routine for us at this point. I’m always spending my meager allowance on comics, and as I’ve talked about often in these pages the limits on my funds ($5 a week? maybe $10?) dictates that I buy my essentials and then very carefully screen for any other purchases. This is why there’s a lot of series from the 80’s that I have arcs from but did not follow religiously. It’s also why some of the prestige format books that were rocking the comics world at the time remained out of my grasp for several years still. Bill Sienkiewicz’s Stray Toasters was definitely one of those latter –  although I don’t think it ever found the audience that Dark Knight Returns or Watchmen did. Stray Toasters is an anomaly among the ambitious, groundbreaking books of the late 80’s and unlike the aforementioned classics one that I looked through very carefully from the relative safety of the shelves; Stray Toasters was a book that genuinely scared me. Not, “Oh no, this is scary”, but “What the hell is this? Why does that man have a toaster for a head – or perhaps why does that toaster have a man’s body – and why is it killing that woman? My twelve year old mind, reared as it was on the relative sophistication of Larry Hama’s GIJOE and Chris Claremont’s Uncanny X-Men just had no capacity to process what the hell this was.

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