Beer: Blue moon – A delicious crispy orange-like beer which goes down super smoothly. Arrived rather early on in the craft beer onslaught here in Ireland, with an orange slice additive gimmick, and has remained a favourite of mine ever since. For this reason, for that feeling of youthful exuberance while drinking it, it seems natural for the mind to wander to some of the more influential moments from my childhood spent reading Marvel comics.
So let’s take a supple of delicious beer and find ourselves, in no particular order, at number 5 where Magneto rips out Wolverine’s skeleton from X-men #25. Sounds painful, more beer required.
5: Magneto rips out wolverine’s skeleton – X-men 25
Written by Fabian Nicieza, Art by Andy Kubert
As will very quickly be noted from this list, the X-men and Spider-man were the big hitters in the 90’s, spurred on by their successful cartoon counterparts. So turning to the comics to see more adventures of my favourite characters was a natural choice. But while the X-men cartoon had some adult themes for sure, it didn’t have a main character’s skeleton being ripped out of his body. Think about that for a second. You’re a kid who goes from watching a very sanitised cartoon for your age group, with quips and bubs and great theme songs, and then you read the comics and Wolverine just got his freaking SKELETON ripped out! Here, it seems, anything can happen.
Now I was not fortunate enough to read this in the original US version, but rather in the collected panini reprints which had a delicious 75 pages of content to enjoy. I remember the image so vividly in my head of magneto, with arm outstretched, turning Logan upside down and yanking his metal out of his body. He wasn’t flinging a metal pole at him or wrapping him up in some stupid steel girder, he was pulling the metal off his skeleton and taking it out via the pours of his skin. This, to the Ross-child brain, was the absolute shit! It was also probably pretty shit for wolverine too. Have a blue moon Logan, you will feel better.
4: Peter Parker is back in, ugh, red – Sensational Spider-man 12
Written by Todd DeZago, Art by Josh Hood
Wow that 90’s Spider-man cartoon was great, right? To this day when I read spider-man comics I still have that spider-voice in my head, and he will always be the preeminent Peter Parker for me. Venom had a cool dual voice thing going on. Mark Hamill was hobgoblin. And MJ was hot in it, with her yellow, perhaps made out of wool, sweatshirt. That’s right, I said it. Blame it on the blue moon.
So was the comic as good when I was a small chap(man)? What was Peter Parker like on the page?
Well, um, he wasn’t Spider-man for a start. No, in the all too infrequent moments when I was able to randomly stumble upon an American comic in a newsagent, that mantle was being held by the plucky blonde once-believed-to-be-a-clone Ben Riley. But then along came issue 12 of sensational Spider-Man which was, for some reason, the only line of American Spider-Man comic that was sometimes there. This issue was momentous for me because it was the first time I had a genuine US comic with the one true Peter Parker Spider-man in it! He was back, he had the old red and blue threads on and he was fighting the Trapster – some weird guy who shot glue called Pete. So not exactly Thanos or Magneto.So what was the moment that was so influential for me? It wasn’t even anything in the comic, it was the cover. Here the Trapster and Spider-man had webbed/glued each other up and it looked ridiculous but it was that comic book magic of bright blues and reds and yellows and it was the original Spider-man back for God’s sake and you guess you could say I was glued to the page! Ahem.
3: The world tastes like chicken – Fantastic Four 12
Written by Jim Lee & Brandon Choi, Art by Ron Lim & Brett Booth
Fantastic four, Iron man and Avengers comics just didn’t exist back in my day. You couldn’t get them in Ireland (read Carlow/Athy) because who cared, they weren’t Spider-man or the X-men. No one gave pause for some guy with the American flag on his chest for the love of god. Look whose laughing now though. But one day, one strange day, I found the fantastic four #12, a double sized issue no less, and it rocked my world.
Not only did it have all of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Nick Fury and the world devouring Galactus in it, but it had deaths. So many deaths. As in the world blew up in the end. Spoilers, spoilers, spoilers. There I am, a bright eyed child, waiting for the X-men to show up and save the day or something. But they didn’t. Galactus ate the world at the end of the issue, Dr. Doom pulled out some time travel doo-hickey at the end and then it was to be continued in Iron man or the avengers or something and I have never, to this day, read the others.
But the sensation that I had reading this, watching heroes fall, fail and something else beginning with F, was amazing. A true page turner, even if the pages were hilariously printed out of order in one section of the book (true story). It was like watching infinity war but never having a conclusion. Which in a way made it somewhat better, I think. And as I think, I must therefore drink.
2: Suicide in the mighty marvel manner – Sensational Spider-man 7
Written by Todd DeZago, Art by Luke Ross
Back to Spider-man and, as stated, when I was young it was Ben Reilly in the threads spinning webs, in the thrwebs one might say. I’m beginning to believe this blue moon is going to my head. So where the cartoon had Hobgoblin and Spider-Man have a glider fight what did the comics have?
Why a suicidal man about to hurl himself off a building of course.
I remember the cover had Spider-Man reaching down to grab a civilian who was reaching up in return, but this was a lie. The man was there to jump off, so he wasn’t reaching out for anyone. The reason this issue stood out and stands out so vividly to both me as a child and still to me now, as a child in an adult body costume, is because there was no action. Dr. Octopus didn’t show up to flail his tentacles, Hobgoblin didn’t land on his glider, Rhino didn’t show up with his horn and what am I even typing anymore.
This was cool to me as a kid, I felt mature reading it. See, I can read literature that doesn’t have explosions in it. Sure it had a helicopter crash but the take away was Ben enlisting the suicidal man’s help in saving the downed copters people-cargo, in the process proving that he was a worthwhile human who had a reason to keep going. Life affirming stuff right? It also goes a long way to explaining my dark sense of humour I guess. Maybe the answer can be found in the bottom of a glass? My current one says “The beer frontier” on the side, does that count?
1: Grim-locked. Transformers Generation 2 – Issue 1
Written by Simon Furman, Art by Derek Yaniger
You didn’t think I would honestly have a list without a Transformers comic on it did you? And not only is it a transformers comic, it’s the ONLY transfomers comic I ever had as a kid! Boy, this was a doozy. Dripping in absolute 90’s extreme-ness, everything was dark and grim(lock) and edgy, which did not sit at all with my childhood expectancy of bright coloured robots with funny voices turning into jets. The cover was a glossy, split, fold out one which was absolutely awesome and it had the tagline, the tagline:
“This is NOT your father’s autobot” plastered on the cover. That’s stuck with me for sheer hilarity and even did so back then. My Dad maintains he never had any Autobots but I digress. What stuck with me was the brutalness of this world compared to the glorious safety of the animated world. Everything seemed covered in rust (heh) and filth and hopelessness which was odd. There was no heroics, as such, merely the laboured necessity of war. Which I guess sounds cool now, but at the time made me want to not read it. All the Autobots looked gritty and grizzled and sour but the fold out cover was awesome.
This whole comic was somewhat of a revelation as it cemented within me what I needed from a comic at the time, dourness and futility and bleakness was tolerable and necessary in parts but this was too much. So in a way the influence that this comic brought was two-fold (zing); the first few pages made me know I didn’t want to read transformers comics as a kid, but conversely left a seed of interest in my mind over how different the Transformers comics were than the cartoon. For anyone who has listened to our podcast, that longer term interest has clearly paid off (Go and read More than Meets the Eye by James Roberts damn it, I’ll wait. I have beer to keep me company).
So there we go! This four pack of blue moon has long ran out and I am done for this first list! The problem with blue moon is in its moreishness, you never feel truly satisfied with what you have drank. Drunk? Dranked? This is however, in alcohol terms, probably a success in terms of future drinking potential, much like the moments described above, most are good not just for their for impact alone but for their longer term potentiality.
Alright there guys, drink up please! Bar’s closed, time to go home.
There was rambling. There was reminiscing. There was thinking. There was drinking.
Till next time, may all your beers be delicious.