Incredible moments in Comics part II – the Death of Captain Marvel (Jim Starlin 1982)

There are few times that comic books / graphic novels have the power to move me to tears, but in the last week I have been greatly affected by 2 pieces of work from the 1980s. The second title I want to share with you closes the circle that began with me discussing the Miracleman Birth. The second title is the acclaimed ‘The Death of Captain Marvel’, by Jim Starlin (who writes and illustrates). This is famous for being regarded as the first Graphic Novel, and is not daunted by being the first in the genre. It sets a standard that only the very best titles have surpassed (ie those that are rapidly becoming ‘canon’ such as ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ and ‘Watchmen’). It is important to remember that this title did not start off as a comic book, like ‘Dark Knight’ or ‘Watchmen’. The importance of this storyline meant that a book format was to do the subject matter justice.

The story concerns the Death of Captain Marvel, a well known figure in the Marvel Universe, as he struggles with an adversary, the terrible and terminal ‘blackend’, that cannot be defeated like the generic ‘bad guy’ of traditional comic tales.

As the disease begins to take hold of this noble Kree Warrior, there is reflection on his life as those from his past, friend and foe alike, come to pay their respects and pay tribute. This is a meditation on love and loss, on the merits of a life lived as a noble and good person, on dealing with regret and the vagaries of chance, the lottery of life and the precious resource of time.

As the story solemnly and inexorably reaches the finale there is a change of tone and the book evolves and transforms into the most triumphant vindication of spirit and love for life that I find the story transcends its superhero basis and becomes something unique and moving. It leaves you both drained and exhilarated. It leaves you glad you spent the time reading this dignified and moving piece of fiction.

Again, like the Birth of Miraclemans Daughter (see here) I shed tears, and felt incredibly moved by the book.

If you can bear the basic graphical style of Jim Starlin and occasionally stilted action scenes, this is really worth sticking with, and one Marvel title that has a soul and an all embracing understanding of the vitality of life and the raging against the dying of the light.

For more about Captain Marvel, see here and here

For more about Jim Starlin, who also helmed the infamous Batman storyline ‘Death in the Family’, see here

For more about The Death of Captain Marvel, see here

Incredible moments in Comics part I – the Birth of ‘Winter’ (Miracleman, by Alan Moore 1986)

There are few times that comic books / graphic novels have the power to move me to tears, but in the last week I have been greatly affected by 2 pieces of work from the 1980s. By nothing more than coincidence, they have as their central storyline the big themes – birth and death. Also, by coincidence, the names of the central characters are the subject of controversy, and although that controversy is beyond the scope of this article, I can recommend the links at the end of this post as further reading. Finally, a further similarity they share is the fact that both central characters have, at some point, had very similar names.

The first comic moment I want to share with you regards a comic first, the graphic portrayal of a birth. This depiction of the safe arrival of Miraclemans daughter, Winter, in the acclaimed ‘Miracleman’ series, written by the acclaimed Northamptonian, Alan Moore, is unflinching in its honesty. Although there were several artists who worked on the title over several years, including the brilliant British artist Alan Davis, it was Rick Veitch who illustrated the infamous scenes of the childs birth. Although Veitch, in my opinion, was a less detailed and skilled artist than the likes of Davis, he really comes into his own with the simplicity and beauty of childbirth, with the panels containing the graphic scenes of the baby emerging from the womb being sympathetically aligned with the Mother and Fathers experience of labour. Both Mother and Father (aka Miracleman) are calm and in control, and the genuine sense of emotion, relief and triumph that Veitch conveys in his art perfectly captures a unique and intimate moment between the parents and the newborn.

I shed a tear. I felt privy to a precious and intimate event.

If you can, I strongly recommend that you try and track down the Miracleman books – despite the title being currently out of print, it is out there, if you know where to look………

For more about Miracleman, see here

For more about Alan Moore, see here

For moe about Alan Davis, see here

For more about Rick Veitch, see here

Finally, there is a Miracleman companion book, available as a Google Book;

http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=FDVJZGoHcboC&pg=PA1979&lpg=PA1979&dq=miracleman+9++birth+scene&source=web&ots=6loJxVNTWE&sig=u95KpJE6z0x8PtUSAmapWVsc5Kk&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPT25,M1

Joe Kinnear and the best football press conference ever (2008)

Joe Kinnear, the former Wimbledon and Nottigham Forest football manager is currently the ‘interim’ in charge at troubled Premiership club Newcastle United. I do not normally blog about football, but this is just so priceless that I am compelled to – what follows is a link to the Guardian article that has the (edited) transcript of Kinnears first press conference in his new role (please note that there is VERY STRONG LANGUAGE used in this article);

http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2008/oct/03/newcastleunited.premierleague

Kinnear, as I have mentioned, was in charge of Nottingham Forest, but felt the club had not moved on from the legacy of the magnificent Brian Clough (who I have posted about in previous months);

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/mikenorrish/blog/2008/10/03/joe_kinnears_crowing_has_nasty_echoes_for_flailing_nottingham_forest_

and, mirroring the chaotic press conference, the events unfolding at Newcastle are as bizarre as Kinnears outburst;

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/premier_league/newcastle/article4842979.ece

By the way, if you should want to listen to Kinnears broadside toward the press, it is here, but be warned it contains VERY STRONG LANGUAGE, so much so that I have to use UPPER CASE to convey the severity of the language used…..

http://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/football/2008/10/02/audio-joe-kinnear-swears-an-amazing-52-times-in-a-five-minute-rant-at-the-daily-mirror-115875-20767990/

More Manager/Media spats;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/blog/2008/oct/02
/manchesterunited.chelsea

Post Apocalypse IX – The UK 4 Minute Warning Radio Broadcast and British Government plans in the event of a Nuclear Strike (1970’s)

Not a lot to say about this – very, very unsettling, even with nearly 20 years of time between us and the end of the cold war and the treat of M.A.D. The threat of Nuclear War was a nagging, but distant threat at a time when I was aware of the consequences of such an event. The British Governments plans for coping with the aftermath of a Nuclear Strike on the UK are revealed in the following BBC broadcast;

BBC radio report on, amongst other things, Peter Donaldson’s prerecorded radio message in the event of a nuclear strike

This is the transcript from the broadcast;

“This is the wartime broadcasting service. This country has been attacked by nuclear weapons. Communications has been severely disrupted and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your house. Remember, there’s nothing to be gained by by trying to get away. By leaving your house you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger. If you leave, you might find yourselves without food, without water, without accommodations, and without protection. We shall be on the air every hour, on the hour. Stay tuned to this wavelength but switch your radios off now to save batteries. That is the end of this broadcast.”

More resources;

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4565880.stm

http://conelrad.com/newswire.php?id=P241

http://www.guardian.co.uk/culture/2008/oct/03/radio.nuclear

Note – for those who don’t know MAD is an acronym for the phrase Mutually Assured Destruction;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_assured_destruction