365 T-shirts - the reasoning

This blog should be sub-titled: a journal of my life in geek.

I get my geek on with things about which I am geeky: comic books, Baseball, Ultimate, science fiction, my favorite bands, books I have read and loved, and Jungian psychology to name some of the most frequently traversed subjects.

I began this project simply as a way to count my T-shirts. I own a lot of T-shirts. But how many do I have? Do I have 365? We shall find out.

When I started this blog, I thought about how each T-shirt means something to me. I bought it for a reason, after all. I set myself the task to post an entry about a new T-shirt every day as a way to simply write something every day, a warm up for writing fiction, which is my passion. Writing is like exercise. Warm ups are good for exercise. But after completing a month of blogging about T-shirts, I have learned that this blog serves as a journal; it documents my life in geek, sort of a tour of my interests in pop culture. The blog serves as a tool for self-inventory, for assessment and analysis of self and the origins of self, for stepping through the process of individuation in catalogues, lists, and ranks.

The blog also made me aware that I have some serious gaps in my T-shirt ownership, and I am in the process of collecting some new T-shirts for several of the great popular culture icons that I truly love. Stay tuned.

I was also a bit surprised that people checked out my blog and continue to check it, read it, and even comment on it. I am very appreciative of this readership. Please feel free to share your thoughts in my comments section. I will respond.

Also, please note that I have moved the original introductory text to the side bar. And now, I present to you the most recent entry of 365 T-shirts: a journal of my life in geek. Thank you for reading.
(Second Update - 1310.24. First Update - 1306.05 Originally Posted - 1304.25.)

Friday, December 27, 2013

T-shirt #281 - Marvel Heroes Various

T-shirt #281 - Marvel Heroes Various

Welcome again to the featured subject of my blog: comic books. I have written about comic books in at least eighty-five [85] of the two hundred and eighty one [281] posts so far posted to this blog, and not surprisingly, I still have more to say.

This is a new shirt that I bought last week at Meijer. This is just the kind of shirt I might never have bought if not for the blog and my main activity, which is writing about comic books.

Though I have written reviews of comic books, lists of favorites, weekly comic lists, and though many of my t-shirts feature comic book art and thus the subject of the blog post is that comic book or character, I have not written specifically about why I love comic books. What about comic books specifically attracts me and allures me, focuses my adoration into a thing so strong its nearly palpable. Though I may not render the full answer to this question today, I will begin to answer the question: why do I love comic books?

But first,boftasese themany of these heroes (or characters as some are villains) can you name? I think my list featured near the end of the blog is accurate, even though the pictures I am featuring do not quite display the shirt's art in a way that can be easily scrutinized in its entirety. I will include close ups of the shirt farther down in today's blog for more easy identification of these characters.

Today's blog is a comic book festival. First, I want to explore the aforementioned question of why I love comic books. I have stacks of comics that have been waiting for review, and though I will not post all of those reviews today, I wish to get started. Obviously, the shirt is part of the subject matter, and there's the weekly comics list (which is very short for this week).


Though I wrote about the following memory yesterday, I am giving it more text time and a better featured spot here in today's content.

As a child, growing up, I always received a stack of comic books on Christmas Eve. My parents were very wise. They knew that I would sleep at best five or six hours, and I would be awake by three or four in the morning and ready, eager, basically coming out of my skin to open my Christmas presents. Their only hope of sleeping until seven a.m. was to let me open a gift of comic books the night before that I could read until the appointed time.

Though I no longer get a gift of comics to open on Christmas Eve, I still reserve special comics to read on Christmas Eve to honor this tradition.

My comic book love is rooted in childhood. My father read comic books to me before bed. My parents encouraged me to purchase my own comic books by structuring my allowance around the cost of comics and taking me to places that sold comic books. And the Christmas Eve box always increased my comic book collection exponentially. So, obviously, reading comic books takes me back to the happiest times of my life, the security of childhood and the certainty of the love of my parents. But there must be more.

If there's a thesis to this section, it would be something like: "though comic books conjure up happy memories of childhood and were encouraged by my parents, my love for the four-color stories extends to a deep affection for episodic fiction, for heroic stories, for fantastic and magical stories, and for a vast, intricate, immensely complicated tapestry of stories, characters, histories, premises, other worlds, and other dimensions."

In the ultimate analysis, comic books are simply a part of my life. I was defending my love of the soap opera The Young and the Restless twice this week. I have been sharing about it purposefully to test the pre-conceptions and assumptions people make about the things of their world. Y&R, as it's known, has been a part of my life since 1974, not as long as comic books (which I started reading in 1966), but long enough that it is a daily part of my life and a cherished part. Ultimately, these things define who we are. They become the familiar sights and sounds of our life's soundtrack and as such become immensely comforting.

Some might argue that by focusing attention on these things born from childhood that we are clinging to the past not growing, not moving on. But how are these affections different than establishing religion early in childhood, establishing a favorite sport to play, or a lifelong avocation, such as fishing? These things are not holding us back; these things are part of who we are. They are our identity. My identity is firmly rooted in popular culture and art experiences more than anything else, though these experiences are always attached to real relationships and love shared with real people, as the art works reflect those relationships and those loves.

I love comic books as an extension of the love I have for the people in my life, first and foremost, my parents. And that's truly FANTASTIC.


Uncanny X-Force

Last week, I dedicated myself to some serious comic book reading during Sunday's Lions game and tackled the FIFTEEN issue backlog of Uncanny X-Force, which I completed though not until nearly ten at night, long after the game ended, and typically past my bedtime. There's nothing like reading many consecutive issues all together. The guys in the comic book store motivated me to grab the trades of the previous run of Uncanny X-Force, and though I have not read all the stuff, I liked the "Dark Angel Saga" very much. So, when Marvel rebooted with Marvel Now, I started buying the issues, and, well, that was fifteen months ago.

These issues hold up very well as one continuous story. Apparently, there are two more issues due in the run before Marvel once again reboots its line (which I must say is growing VERY tedious).

I liked these issues very much because the stories mostly centered on Psylocke (Elizabeth Braddock) who is one of my favorite X-Men, as I shared in T-shirt #218.

Actually, I read the first issue months ago, and then forgot I was buying the comic until it reached issue eight, and then I bought back issues and stashed the comic in my back log until I could catch up. There's nothing like a football game on a lazy Sunday, my typical day for R&R, to pour through a stack of comics in the back log. Maybe I should take pictures of the back log sometime just to provide perspective.

SPOILER ALERT!! If you do not want to know what happens in this comic, stop reading.

In Marvel's recent reboot of Uncanny X-Force, Sam Humphries and Ron Garney (later Adrian Alphona, Dexter Soy, and Ramon Pérez) take over from Rick Remender, Jerome Opena, and Leonardo Manco. The story telling does not suffer. Based on the back story of volume one, the first issue of the reboot starts with a framed story, Betsy Braddock with her psychic knife at the throat of her old nemesis Spiral in a crowded night club. Beautiful art by Ron Garney unfolds the back story leading to this attention-getting splash page as Wolverine kicks Psylocke out of his school and unofficially sends her after a drug cult in L.A. run by Spiral. Storm and Psylocke team up with former Alpha Flight mainstay Puck, forming the core of a new X-Force team. It turns out that Spiral is pretending to sell a drug that is actually the mutant ability of a young girl named Ginny. Meanwhile, Bishop returns from the future, and Fantomex runs through Paris with one third of his brain in the clone body of Cluster. What? That's a lot for one issue, but Humphries handles the writing deftly.

Issue #2 ratchets up the action as Storm, Psylocke, and Puck track Spiral, who has taken off with the girl, only to confront Bishop in a showdown. Bishop has been possessed by a demon bear. He defeats the X-Force and takes the girl.

Stories begin to converge in a smart lattice of plots. The focus of the issues is clearly on Betsy. Issue Three starts with background about the onset of Psylocke's powers as a young woman and more about her relationship with Fantomex (detailed in Uncanny X-Force volume one) that ended in Fantomex having his brain split in three parts and deposited in three clone bodies. Also, Betsy's thirst for vengeance against Spiral who tortured her at the behest of Mojo (lots of X-Men back story) is a continuing theme, especially since Spiral was as much a victim of Mojo as Betsy, and she is trying to change her life and atone for her sins. Meanwhile, Fantomex and Cluster are en route to save Psylocke from Dark Fantomex.

The story becomes further complicated as Betsy ventures into Bishop's mind and discovers that he has been hunting a revenant that hid in his mind to travel back to our present from the far future and sneak out to possess Ginny. Issue five takes place almost wholly in Bishop's mind as Psylocke and Storm learn of his mission to seek out and destroy revenants while Puck and Spiral bond, and in the end Cluster kidnaps Betsy. Issue Six takes place primarily in Betsy's mind as she has a psychic conference with Wolverine, and we learn she absorbed the demon bear, who is now her docile comrade, after healing it while in Bishop's mind.
Still with me?

Betsy and Spiral have their reckoning, and Betsy lets Spiral go; in the end, she agrees to help Cluster rescue Fantomex from Dark Fantomex, also known as Weapon XIII (which is a much more interesting name than "Dark Fantomex"). As the rescue is underway, the story details Betsy's time in Paris with Fantomex and Cluster after the original Fantomex's brain was split in three and deposited in three clones. This time in Betsy's life was alluded to as something she didn't want to discuss in issue one, setting up for the eventual payoff. These issues are the ones I love best as they are all about Psylocke, Elizabeth Braddock. Have I mentioned how she is one of my favorite X-characters? Yeah. So this was great stuff. Issues seven through nine are my favorites of the run so far because of the focus on Betsy and her relationship with all three Fantomexes. Humphries shows excellent sense of how to give a story its final moment, such as the end of issue nine as Betsy flies home after her confrontation with Weapon XIII.  In true comic book fashion, after the final moment with Betsy, the issue ends with the lead in for the next story arc with the culmination of the Revenant Queen story.

Starting with issue ten, the Revenant Queen story is not as strong as the previous work as  Ramon Pérez is no Ron Garney  or Adrian Alphona and Dexter Soy. The art is not bad; it's just a little lacking in some ways, though Ramon Pérez is very good with revenants and with the psychic nightmare blasts of the Revenant Queen's blood poison. The Revenant versions of Storm, Psylocke, and Puck are very well rendered by Ramon Pérez, and Humphries' story telling remains strong. Bishop saves the rest of the team in issue eleven and Spiral returns to help defeat the Revenant Queen in issue twelve. Alphona returns on issue twelve, and the art/story blend sees improvement. Issue twelve features some much needed back story and character development for Spiral and ends with the BIGGEST reveal of the series: the Revenant Queen is really Cassandra Nova, the evil twin of Charles Xavier who died in vitro. (Okay, that's a simplification of Cassandra Nova's origin and identity. So if you want the full story check the link.)

Art duties switch to Phil Briones and Angel Unzueta in issue thirteen as the Uncanny X-Force fights Cassandra Nova, who is attempting to turn the world into a playground, a living Hell, for her horde of demonic revenants. In the final showdown, Nova offers Betsy Braddock her original body in exchange for her allegiance, as Nova needs all the psychics she can get to continue her destruction of the world. Humphries creates a great sign of Cassandra Nova's dominance of the world: once the moon turns completely red with blood, all is lost. Throughout the story, the blood creeps more and more over the moon. But before Psylocke and the team can defeat Cassandra Nova, they are flung into the Underworld. The Demon Bear factors into the resolution of this predicament. To trap the Revenant Queen, a psychic must die. In the end, Psylocke kills her former self, her original body, concluding with the line "I will make my own happiness" as she skewers her former self. Thus, her story line, her angst over being a killer, her desire for a "normal" life, reaches a climax. The Demon Bear is trapped with Cassandra "beyond the veil." But it's not all over yet! The last panel of issue fifteen sets up the next issues as Bishop expresses anger at how his memories were tampered with.

I am glad to be caught up on this excellent story and look forward to the next two issues.

Since I wrote so much about Uncanny X-Force, I am going to stop my reviews now. This is plenty of content.

LISTS OF SUPERHEROES - today's shirt

Image below, left to right starting at the very top: Top Row: The Blob, ?? Hank Pym??/The Original Human Torch, Union Jack, ??Thunderbird??, Hercules. Second Row: Northstar, Atlas, Speedball, Songbird, Radioactive Man, the Hulk, and Deadpool. Third Row: Nick Fury, Stature (Cassie Lang), The Thing, Luke Cage, Silver Surfer, Black Bolt, Jessica Jones??, Falcon, Black Cat.

L-R: Hulkling, Namor, The Human Torch (FF), Sue Storm (Invisible Woman), Spider-Man, Daredevil, Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), Iron Man.
Next Row L-R: Hawkeye (Kate Bishop), Wiccan, Captain America, She-Hulk, and Wolverine.

In the image below, I am stumped on the character in the upper right corner below Falcon and the Black Cat and above Doctor Strange and Nova.
L-R: Spider-Man, Wolverine, Mister Fantastic, Iron Man, Spider-Woman, Doctor Strange, Unknown??, Nova.

L-R in below: Patriot, Sentry, She-Hulk.
Next: NightCrawler, IceMan, Professor X, Cyclops.

Previously named heroes in below, so starting with Punisher, Black Widow, Dagger, Cloak, Sasquatch, and at the very bottom in the white hood: MOONKNIGHT.


It's a very small list this week. No back log at all. I have already read all three of these comics, though I am not reviewing them here today. I am planning another massive comic books and football fest on Sunday. In fact, unlike past days of R&R, I plan to spend nearly all day on the couch with the dog, comic books, and football games. I will have more to report after Sunday.

COMICS FOR 1312.24

Forever Evil #4
Justice League #26
Avengers #024.NOW (Rogue Planet #1)

Bought For Piper: Harley Quinn #0



Here's some covers that have been clogging up my t-shirt blog folder and I just feel like sharing. I am all about sharing comic book art if you haven't noticed. I will try to add useful captions.

A great site for comic book art and reading about comics is PENCIL&INK BLOG. I have added it to my daily feed. FOLLOW. It's worth it. (Unless you don't like comics.)

Adam Strange is DC's SF revision
of John Carter of Mars. He's among my
favorite non-Franchise heroes.

This is a UK edition, but it's still among my favorite covers from
the 1970s. I own it. Though technically, it does not qualify for "oldest" category.
Mike Ploog art but looks a little like Gil Kane.

Another comic I own. Prepare for a Mister Miracle love fest.
I have a shirt. This is Marshall Rodgers. Superb.

Another comic I own. Great Kirby stuff.
I did not follow the New Gods as closely
when the issues came out, but I am a huge fan now.

Jim Starlin's WARLOCK
More to come on possibly my favorite
Marvel non-Franchise hero.

Thank you to Brian Bendis for sharing this via Tumblr
as a Christmas treat.

Starlin on Warlord? Yes.
Looks a lot like Grell.
LOVED this comic.

Mike Ploog - good stuff

Considered a top ten Neal Adams cover,
I don't think I own this one, but I like it.


- chris tower - first published - 1312.27 - 20:03
final publication - 1312.28 - 9:43