I liked this book a bit better than Deadpool #1, but Deadpool really isn’t my guy. This (very talky) tale revolves around Deadpool trying to win Spider-Man’s trust by involving him in a confrontation with Dormmamu. Spidey and Deadpool spend a lot of time arguing and getting in each other’s way. Things explode. Joe Kelly’s script doesn’t spare the snark, and the art from Ed McGuinness and Mark Morales is crisp and expressive, but the visual resolution of some of the book’s action sequences wasn’t always clear — I had to look at Hydro-Man’s final panel for five minutes before I figured it out, and I’m still not completely certain how the first skirmish with Dormammu’s minions played out. The creators are going for an odd couple thing here with Deadpool and Spidey — a kind of anti-Team-Up book, with Deadpool playing the needy one, and Spider-Man just wanting to get the hell out of there. I sympathize! More interesting to me was the book’s bonus reprint of Vision #1, a book I truly enjoyed. It is good to see Marvel attaching Vision to a top-selling Deadpool book — hopefully it gets that series some more readers.
Approachability For New Readers
No better or worse than most of these Marvel reboots. A familiar face in Spider-Man does give guys like me — who are new(ish) to Deadpool — something to hang on to.
Read more about the Avengers at Longbox Graveyard
Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.
The cover of the perpetually tongue-in-cheek Deadpool #1 sarcastically declares itself “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine,” and it might as well claim that title, given that the poor Fantastic Four are nowhere to be found in this latest Marvel reboot. But this issue didn’t live up to the claim for me, mostly because I didn’t know what the heck was going on. All my information about Deadpool is second-hand — I’ve never read a Deadpool comic before — and I know little more about the character now than I did before I cracked the cover of this issue. The cover showed a riotously popular Deadpool signing autographs in the middle of his own Times Square parade, but the book didn’t really connect back to that image. Instead, there are a whole bunch of Deadpools working together (and one of them appears to be Foolkiller!). Deadpool is now an Avenger, and he’s financing the team through his merchandising and his superheroic contract work. Writer Gerry Duggan offered some good dialogue and a couple nice gags (particularly involving Deadpool’s appropriation of the Heroes For Hire monicker), and artist Mike Hawthorne provided good visual storytelling and action, but I wasn’t charmed.
Approachability For New Readers
Not great. We’ve got the time jump since the reboot, a lot of characters running around, and nothing sketched in about our hero, his powers, or his past. You can leap in and figure it out as you go, but the book felt like it was missing a scorecard.
No, I’m out. Not because of any quality problems with the book so much as because I feel like I’m not part of this club.
Read more about the Avengers at Longbox Graveyard
Read more capsule reviews of Marvel’s All-New All-Different rolling reboot.
Longbox Graveyard goes to the dogs with this Top 10 List of the greatest comic book super-dogs of all time!
It’s Super-Blog Team-Up time again! Super-Blog Team-Up is a loose collection of comic book blogs and podcasts that come together several times a year to opine on a common topic. In the past, we’ve tackled superheroes calling it quits, ret-cons, bad guys, team-ups, and alternative time lines. This time, we’re offering Top 10 Lists — a subject near and dear to my heart!
My past Top 10 lists have been (mostly) serious … or as serious as things get in funnybooks. I’ve listed my Top 10 Captain America Villains, Top 10 DC Comics Characters, Top 10 Marvel Comics Characters, Top 10 Superhero Lairs, and many more. With the Longbox Graveyard Super-Animal Showdown recently drawn to a close, this Super-Blog Team-Up seemed the ideal opportunity to add the Top 10 Super-Dogs to my roll of honor!
Before we get to the list, a few ground rules.
First, I am interested only in characters that appeared first or primarily in comic books. Animation is a whole ‘nother business … so you won’t find characters like Underdog or Dynomutt here. While some of these characters would also appear in animation, they are first and foremost comic-book dogs. Get it? Got it? Good!
Second, this list is heavily biased by the Bronze and Silver Age superhero sensibilities of Longbox Graveyard. Most (but not all) of these mutts are traditional comic book canines that have been around for decades, and all but one of my pooches hails from the comic book “Big Two” publishers. My apologies to all the contemporary, hip, indie comics hounds that I have unfairly consigned to the dog house!
Third, there is no third rule … aside from the restriction that David Letterman used to offer when introducing his nightly Top Ten — “Please, no wagering!”
Without further ado, and in reverse order (to help preserve the suspense, natch), here’s the Longbox Graveyard Top 10 Super-Dogs!
The list leads with an honorable mention for DC’s Space Canine Patrol Agents!
A product of DC’s wonderfully unhinged Silver Age, the Space Canine Patrol Agents (SCPA) were a kind of all-dog counterpart to the Legion of Super-Heroes. First appearing in Superboy #131, the group included a dog you know — Krypto — and a whole bunch of C-list canines, like Tusky Husky, Prophetic Pup, and Chameleon Collie. Close your eyes and you can imagine this lot opening their meetings with their sacred oath — “Big dog, big dog, bow wow wow! We’ll stop evil, now now now!”
I can’t begin to parse through the SCPA membership for this list, so they all get in with an honorable mention (and one member of the crew will shortly get much more than that). For more on the too-weird-not-to-be-true SCPA, head on over to the indispensable Dial B For Blog, which has enough vintage SCPA art to get your tail wagging!
Wilson was an alternate-universe mutt experimented upon for cosmetics testing. With the experiment deemed a failure, poor Wilson was thrown away … only to rise as Dogpool!
Animal testing for the cosmetics industry? On dogs? Now, there’s some true villainy!
Dogpool appeared in an astonishing 29 issues of various Deadpool comics (if Comic Vine is to believed), which either says something about the staying power of this character, or the vacuous nature of Deadpool books! Fingers are crossed that Dogpool gets some spotlight time when Deadpool comes to the silver screen in his 2016 movie debut!
Did you know that the Punisher had a dog? And did you know that this dog was so tough, even the Punisher couldn’t kill him? Meet Max!
Max was totally off my radar until Dean Compton — frequent Longbox Graveyard guest columnist, host of The Unspoken Decade, and the world’s biggest Punisher fan — convinced me that Max deserved a place in the Round of 32 in last month’s Super-Animal Showdown.
Max is a savage Rottweiler who guards the Punisher’s safe house. He was wounded in the line of duty — so badly wounded that the Punisher put him down with a knife. But wait! So outraged was fan reaction to Max’s death that a retcon later established that hard-hearted Punisher actually performed some kind of surgery on Max and saved his life!
And so there you have it … Max, the dog even the Punisher couldn’t kill!
(And let’s not be exploiting any more poor Rottweilers to guard our safe houses, OK?)
As near as I can tell, Destructo only appeared once — in 1961’s Superboy #92 — but if you’re Lex Luthor’s dog, and you wear a Jolly Roger cape, you’ve got to make the list …
Gaining super powers by a run-in with young Lex Luthor’s time machine, Destructo went on a rampage, impersonating Krypto and ruining the Dog of Steel’s good name! This adventure alone was enough to earn Destructo the title of Krypto’s arch-enemy … this is one super-dog overdue for a comeback!
The honor of being the sole non-DC or Marvel comics dog in my top ten goes to Archie’s loyal dog, Vegas!
If we were just talking about the classic, canonical, Riverdale version of Archie’s pet, he likely wouldn’t make this list … but Vegas’ stand-out appearance in the zombie-infested Afterlife With Archie was emotional and unforgettable. I reviewed that surprisingly impactful series here — and I don’t want to give too much away about Vegas, in case you haven’t yet read Archie’s excellent undead adventure — but this image should give you an idea of why Vegas rates the seventh spot on my list!
Now, this is pure cool. A Soviet space dog that drifted off course, mutated into a super-intelligent psychic that projects his thoughts with a stereotypical Russian accent, still wears his CCCP space suit, and serves as security chief on the space station the Guardians of the Galaxy calls home? Damn, it’s all I can do not to make Cosmo #1 on my list!
I just about leapt out of my seat when Cosmo made a cameo appearance in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, as one of the many captors of the dread Collector. When the Collector’s headquarters went boom, I turned to my son and said, “If Cosmo bought it, I’m walking out!” Fortunately, a quick shot showed Cosmo trotting to safety, and so the dream is alive that we will see Cosmo facing down his frenemy, Rocket Raccoon, in the inevitable Guardians of the Galaxy sequel!
#5 Pizza Dog
Also known as Lucky, Pizza Dog is the lovable mutt that Hawkeye rescues from the Russian mob in his recent breakout series by Matt Fraction and David Aja.
Lucky becomes a memorable supporting character in the series, and even stars in the brilliant issue #11 of the run, a book that told the kind of story that comics do better than any other dramatic form — a story related from Lucky’s point of view, using only the senses and sensibilities of a single and extraordinary dog. A great story about a great character, from a team at the top of their form (and good enough to snag an Eisner, too!)
#4 Rex The Wonder-Dog
We need to fire up the Wayback Machine for the #4 hound on our list …
Debuting in 1952’s The Adventures of Rex The Wonder Dog, and appearing in DC adventures right up into the 21st century, Rex would have a serious pedigree even if his early adventures hadn’t been created by comics legends Robert Kanigher and Alex Toth! Rex’s forty-six issue run through the 1950s benefitted from some terrific Gil Kane covers, too.
A kind of canine Captain America, Rex was a German Shepherd in the U.S. Army’s K-9 Corps who received a super-soldier serum injection, serving in World War II and Korea before becoming a crime-fighter, battling aliens and dinosaurs, and fighting alongside the future Justice League of America. A wonder dog, indeed!
#3 Ace the Bat-Hound
Ace hasn’t the resume of Rex the Wonder-Dog, but he gets on the podium of our Super-Dog Top 10 because … Batman!
Because nothing that works in comics isn’t worth over-doing, Ace’s appearance was a foregone conclusion when Krypto took the comics world by storm in 1955. A scant four month’s later, Superboy’s dog was joined by Batman’s hound, Ace, in the DC universe of super-animal stars!
Ace never caught on like Krypto, but c’mon. He wears a Batman mask, and he hangs around the Batcave. Ace is awesome just walking into the room …
The surprise winner of the Longbox Graveyard Super-Animal Showdown rates the penultimate position on our list!
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and making his first appearance in 1965’s Fantastic Four #45, Lockjaw is the unforgettable teleporting super-dog of the weird and wonderful Inhumans. That alone would ensure that Lockjaw made this list, but the four-footed Inhuman has had a long and surprisingly successful second act to his career, first headlining his own book in Lockjaw and the Pet Avengers, and then playing a supporting role in the new fan favorite Ms. Marvel series.
Fifty years after he was born, it seems that Lockjaw is still a pup. Respect!
And respect is what it’s all about for the #1 entry on the Super-Dog Top 10.
It’s Krypto, of course!
C’mon, who else could it be? Krypto is the sine qua non of dogs in capes!
First appearing in Adventure Comics #210 in 1955, Krypto was an instant hit as Superboy’s pet. The pilot of Jor-El’s prototype rocket that would eventually bring baby Superman to Earth, Krypto was knocked off course and reached our planet later than baby Kal-El, but still in plenty of time to partner with Superboy in many of his Silver Age Adventures, and even becoming leader of the Legion of Super-Pets!
Lockjaw may have (narrowly) defeated Krypto in their recent showdown, but in the long view of history, there’s only one possible Top Dog when it comes to super-pets. All hail Krypto, the greatest Super-Dog of them all!
That will do it for my Top 10 Super-Dogs. Please share your thoughts in the comments section, below! And also take a look at the many other fine Top 10 Lists on offer from my fellow Super-Blog Team-Up colleagues:
- Super-Hero Satellite: Top 10 DC Comics Titles That Ended Before Their Time
- Idol Head of Diablou: Top 10 Most Important Martian Manhunter Villains
- Marvel Superheroes Podcast: Top 10 Avengers (An Age Of Ultron Tie-In)
- Too Dangerous For A Girl: Top 10 Worst Super-Heroic Hairstyles
- Chasing Amazing: Top 10 Favorite Moments Of The “Chase”
- Fantastiverse: Top 10 Avengers Greatest Super Battles
- Mystery V-Log: Top 10 Avengers Covers
- In My Not So Humble Opinion: Top 10 Avengers Sketches
- The Unspoken Decade: Top 10 Avengers Moments
- Flodos Page: Top 10 Green Lantern Ring-Slings … That Don’t Appear In Modern Continuity
- Between The Pages: Top 10 Wackiest DC Comics Covers
- BronzeAge Babies: The Top 10 Bronze Age Characters (x2!)
- Legion of Super-Bloggers: Legion Who’s Who Top 10
- Vic Sage via The Retroist: Top 10 Comic Character Deaths
- I’m The Gun: The 10 Best All-Star Squadron Covers
Thanks for reading! And if you are ready to make room for a super-dog in your own home and heart, remember that there are thousands of awesome shelter dogs looking for a good home! Please visit my friends at Adopt-A-Pet.com to find your new best friend!
NEXT MONTH: #148 Longbox Soapbox
Longbox Graveyard is firmly rooted in the past, but I do sometimes read current comics — even better, I have friends who are making current comics! My secret identity as a video game creator and comic book writer has brought me into contact with dozens of talented artists and writers through the years, and I am at loss to explain why I haven’t interviewed one before now!
To inaugurate my new, semi-irregular Longbox Graveyard “Interviews” category, I’m delighted to introduce artist Billy King. I’ve known Billy for a decade, and we worked together on video games like Darkwatch and The Bourne Conspiracy. More recently, Billy has been a frequent reader and supporter of Longbox Graveyard, and he and I have even been cooking up a special project for the blog, about which more at the end of Billy’s interview!
it’s Billy King!
LBG: Give us your thumbnail history, Billy!
BILLY: I have been a Visual Development/Concept Artist for the last fourteen years, working in the video game industry exclusively. I was the former Concept Lead for High Moon Studios under Activision on their last two projects: Transformers: Dark of the Moon and Marvel’s Deadpool.
Billy’s concept art for recent Deadpool video game
Currently, I am a freelance visual development artist, illustrator and graphic designer for several clients. Since this is a comics blog, I suppose it’s most interesting that I am the cover artist on Airwolf for Lion Forge Comics.
LBG: How did you first get into comics?
BILLY: My first comic I ever read was Web of Spiderman #8. I was eight years old and just moved to Boston from a small town in New York. On a bonding trip, my Step-Dad brought me to a comic store in Cambridge around 1988. He told me I could pick anything in the store and, of course, pointed to the 50 cent bin. I went straight for the black-suit Spiderman taped to the front of the longbox. I got bit by my own radioactive ‘comic bug’ that day. However, until I read Uncanny X-Men #234 (the brood story line with Marc Silvestri), I was all over the place with collecting. X-Men became my comic of choice and where I started collecting comics as a serious hobby. Thank goodness for lunch money … sorry Mom.
LBG: Did any of those comics influence your own development as an artist?
BILLY: I’m a product of late ‘80s-‘90s comics, so I was all about the art. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would go back and read Alan Moore, Frank Miller, etc. to really appreciate the writers and the medium as a whole. Some artists that inspired me at the time were Marc Silvestri, Jim Lee, John Byrne; during the Image days J. Scott Campbell, Joe Mad, Greg Capullo, and Todd McFarlane snuck in as influences. As I got older, though, Dave Cockrum and Neil Adams as well as Bernie Wrightson and countless other greats (Charles Vess and Frank Miller) moved to the top of the lists … but I’m still a huge fan of Marc Silvestri and Greg Capullo.
Airwolf by Billy King!
LBG: Let’s talk a bit about your comics work. How do you go about creating a cover?
BILLY: On Airwolf, I receive an email from my editor with what the story line is for that book or arc. Sometimes he gives me the whole comic, but even when that isn’t possible, I can usually break down from his synopsis what’s important for a cool cover. It’s usually Airwolf running away from or attacking a baddie aircraft, which is an awesome challenge. In recent issues, I have been looking at paintings of WWII planes and battles to get inspired. I’m now trying to get that kind of feel into the covers.
Next I will do some quick layouts (either on paper or right in Photoshop) and mail them off to my editor, Shannon Denton. Once they are approved, I’ll take the thumbnail and blow it up and start drawing/painting right over it using Photoshop.
I start differently on each cover though. Sometimes I draw the whole thing out — sometimes I just start painting with color and big strokes. Sometimes the foreground aircraft goes first, sometimes I start with the background. Shannon gives me a lot of room to explore, which I appreciate. I’m still perfecting the most productive and efficient process. It’s definitely different than the studio work I’ve done over the last ten-plus years.
LBG: Any special challenges in working on a digital-only comic?
BILLY: Airwolf is (at the moment) a Kindle only digital-comic. The challenge was making a Kindle spec’d composition also work with a standard comic size (for the Amazon thumbnail and potential print). I didn’t want to have key elements cropped out of the Kindle version (which was the important section of the cover).
A potential pitfall would be missiles and gun fire coming from off screen. Which is what happened on Airwolf #1 (below). The bottom half of the image looks like a solid composed piece but the top added looks like an after thought and disjointed. My Bad.
I decided to keep designing the covers to primarily work for the Kindle, of course. I’d use the Kindle section as the center for the full image and just extend the ‘plate’ up and down. To fill in the space, I’d add interesting yet superfluous extras to either the top or the bottom of the piece. They could be cropped to the Kindle specs without hurting the standard-comic composition. Easy, right? Took me four issues to figure it out! (See above).
LBG: What’s coming up for you next?
My time is pretty jammed packed at the moment with all sorts of work that I can’t get into right now (like some games concept work) — lots of cool stuff. I look forward to scratching my comic itch with Airwolf covers for the foreseeable future. Shannon Denton, my editor, is awesome and I enjoy working with him.
Speaking of Shannon, he also has his own imprint called Actionopolis, and I’ve done a couple covers for him over there as well. The most recent one is for a book named Battery: The Arrival. I had a lot of fun on this one and, of course, he gave me a lot of room to play.
I’m also working on an experimental web-comic called WarChief for … (drumroll) … Longbox Graveyard! The editor for that one though … huge pain. I take six months to paint nine panels and he’s supper supportive? How dare he. We thought it would be fun to start some creator-owned web comics under the Longbox Graveyard header. Apparently, I take forever … but it is coming! I have one panel finished and the rest laid out!
WarChief sneak preview, by Billy King and Paul O’Connor!
LBG: I’m sure it will be worth the wait, Billy! And I’d never expect you to work on our little experiment when paying work is demanding your time. That you’ve been too busy for WarChief is a happy problem to have!
Thanks to Billy for his candid answers and awesome art! For more of Billy’s work, be sure to check his site, and follow his Twitter and Instagram feeds, too … and in the fullness of time, you’ll see the fruit of his WarChief labors on this very blog!