Category Archives: Stan Lee

Stan Lee: The Man Behind Marvel – Reviewed by Richard Kirwin


I’m old enough to remember Stan’s Soapbox and to have the Origins of and Son of Origins of Marvel trades on my shelf. I’ve known Stan Lee as the mastermind of my favourite comic universe my whole life. His trademark wit and that infectious grin have both been synonymous in my mind with the Marvel Universe since long before “The Man” started popping up twice a year in his Marvel Cinematic Universe cameos. To me, Stan Lee has always been as much a character as his creations, a larger than life fictional version of himself, not the very real and, dare I say, uncanny creative mind presented in fantastic detail by Bob Batchelor in his extensively researched biography: Stan Lee, the Man Behind Marvel.

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#Kirby100: BBP! Celebrates The King Jack Kirby All Summer Long

Jack Kirby.

His artistry was, and remains, so innovative and influential in the comic book zeitgeist that the industry named awards after him. Heck, they even named a visual image after him: the affectionately known, “Kirby Krackle.”

How pervasive is writer and artist Jack Kirby in pop culture?

You can scan the litany of comic book characters that the man created or co-created and you’d be certain to find dozens that are your favourites. From the globally renowned Captain America, Avengers, Fantastic Four and X-Men series of characters, to the populace’s burgeoning awareness of Darkseid and Black Panther, to the more niche creations of Kamandi, Etrigan the Demon and Destroyer Duck. With Kirby, the list of great characters goes on and on and on.

Without him, pop culture and comic books wouldn’t be at all what we know it to be today.

This August marks the 100th birthday of Jack Kirby and we here at Biff Bam Pop! mean to celebrate that auspicious centennial with a plethora of written accolades all summer long!

This is your cordial invitation to our #Kirby100 party!

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Biff Bam Pop’s Holiday Gift Guide 2014: STILL MORE BIG Hardcover Comic Book Collections

Jack Kirby AEA few days ago, we posted the first part of our 2014 Gift Guide’s “BIG Hardcover Comic Book Collection” which you can find by either scrolling down the Biff Bam Pop! main page or by clicking here.

Those were some big books that require some degree of heavy lifting. But they’re not the only ones that would make fantastic gifts this year!

Follow me after the jump and I’ll detail a few more awesome tomes released earlier this year that any comic book, comic book historian or comic book art lover – would absolutely love to have their hands on!

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FAN EXPO Canada 2014: An Event Agenda

Fan Expo Canada logoRejoice! FAN EXPO Canada is back, T-Dot (resident and visiting) peeps!

What’s “T-Dot”, you ask? Well, that’s just me shouting out the glorious city of Toronto with my best urban inflection. FAN EXPO Canada, of course, is the third largest pop culture event in North America, a worthy happening for any lover of comic books, sci-fi, horror, anime or gaming.

Now entering its 20th year (you’re all grown up!), and boasting over 1000 exhibitors over 750,000 square feet comprised of both the north and south buildings that make up the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, FAN EXPO Canada expects to host well over 100.000 fans.

If you plan to be one of them over the next four days, follow me after the jump for a highlight list of some exciting events on a schedule brimming full of exciting events!

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The History Of A Universe – Marvel Comics: The Untold Story Reviewed

Otto Von Bismark is renowned to have said that people who respect the law and like sausage should never watch either being made.

After reading Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, I think we can add comics to that list.

I’m fairly familiar with comics history.  I’m a fan of the subject, and was around for a number of sequences outlined in this history.  But Howe’s book gathers the entire history of Marvel for one engaging ride.

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Fan Expo Canada 2012 Preview

fan expo 2012Fan Expo 2012
is about to hit Toronto and for the weekend of August 23-26th, nerds will rule. This marks the 18th year of Fan Expo and probably the 3 or 4th time I’ve attended… going to comics, sci fi, horror, anime, gaming conferences steels you against the extremes of fandom.

I expect this to be another crazy, cosplay filled, celebrity spotting type of conference; certainly nothing out of the ordinary for Fan Expo.

For a quick look at what’s in store and schedule hilights, read on.

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The Amazing Spider-Man Pregame: Beware the Lizard!

In just a matter of days the world will finally get to see the cinematic version of one of Spider-Man’s most dangerous foes, the Lizard. What some might not know is that the Lizard, much like Two-Face to Batman, is also one of the web-slinger’s closest friends and allies. Who is the Lizard? How did he come to be? And what might we expect on the big screen in The Amazing Spider-Man?

The Origin of the Lizard

The Lizard, also known as Dr. Curt Connors, first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #6 waaay back in 1963, in a tale called “Face to Face with… The Lizard!” Gotta love them Marvel Age exclamation marks. Yeah, he showed up early in Spidey’s career, in his first year of web-swinging, created by the legendary team of writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko. He was probably the fourth or fifth (it’s subjective, do the Tinkerer and/or Doctor Doom really count?) of Spider-Man’s major classic foes to be introduced. This is the real thing, baby.
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March Madness – Inside Kang the Conqueror

Kang the Conqueror is the archenemy of the Avengers. A case could be made for Ultron because his vengeance is personal, being an indirect member of the Avengers family. And there have been too many iterations of the Masters of Evil for any one group to qualify. But Kang is always there, lurking in the shadows of time itself waiting to strike. He fits perfectly in the theme of the month here at Biff Bam Pop! as Kang is quite mad. It’s that madness that makes him such an impossible and unpredictable foe.

The Avengers’ Greatest Enemy

Madness isn’t the only thing he’s got going for himself in the super-villain category. Kang is one of the few baddies who has won. That’s right, he’s defeated the Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in combat, more than once. Kang has even conquered the entire planet Earth while it’s been under the Avengers’ watch.

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Still The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine? Andy Burns On Hickman and Eaglesham’s Fantastic Four

If you’re looking for an economical and space saving way to read your comic books, I highly recommend utilizing the Marvel and DC apps for your iPad or iPhone. It’s a very solid way of experimenting with titles you may not normally pick up and the comics look great on the screen (especially the iPad).

Recently Marvel’s taken to having 99 cent sales on their App on Mondays; over the holidays leading into the new year they actually upped the ante and did sales three or four days in a row. This first set of issues they offered up and which I didnt think twice about grabbing was the first nine issues of the recent Jonathan Hickman/Dale Eaglesham run on Fantastic Four, picking up right after the completed series of stories that Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch crafted (I wrote about thosehere).

The nine issues (570-579) are divided up into a 3 issue arc, 2 relative standalone issues (one of which features a birthday party for Franklin Richards, complete with a Spider-Man guest appearance), and then a final four part arc that sets up a series of new challenges that the FF will have to face in the future. This makes for some very user friendly and fun reading, which keeps in tone with what Millar and Hitch had achieved previously on their run. The family dynamic between Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman, the Human Torch and The Thing is always strong, as is a sense of awe about the grandiose adventures they undertake (trips to alternate universes, below the cities, under the oceans and even to the moon). That’s always been one of the key things that have made the Fantastic Four the legendary characters they are – at the heart of it all, the FF aren’t simply superheroes fighting to save the world; they’re explorers, seeking out new life forms and new civilizations, boldly going…well, you get it. In Hickman and Eaglesham’s run, new cultures and kingdoms are key to the stories.

As I mentioned, family is also a key component to Fantastic Four, and the Richards kids, 7 year-old Franklin and 3 year-old Valeria both play strong parts throughout the stories in question. These kids aren’t shoehorned into the title at all; in fact, they’re playing essential roles in plot development. Of particular note is just how frighteningly intelligent Valeria is painted to be; I’d be surprised if this isn’t foreshadowing of some grand character plans for the future. And I bet they won’t all be good.

Jonathan Hickman, one of the brightest voices working in the Marvel Universe the last few years, has a firm grasp on what makes the FF work and his writing is a lot of fun. I have to admit that some of the sci-fi/techno-speak did get a little longwinded a few times (Issue 578, the third part of the Prime Elements, to be more specific), but that’s really a rare criticism in an overall entertaining run of stories. Meanwhile, Dale Eaglesham’s art is one of the best reasons to check out these stories. While his style doesn’t ape or emulate the great Jack Kirby’s defining work on the series, Eaglesham has a simpler style of drawing these characters that does recall the best of King Kirby. While I’m no art critic, there’s a sense of fun throughout the run that draws you in and makes reading the Fantastic Four effortless.

With appearances by The Inhumans, The Celestials, The Mole Man (and even a brief Galactus cameo), Hickman and Eaglesham have a strong connection to the Fantastic Four of the past, but they also manage to do some great, new storytelling. If you’ve ever loved the FF or are interested in giving the title a shot, there’s probably no better place to start than here. You can grab Issues 570-579 either in two trade paperbacks or via the Marvel App today.

The Bad And The Good Of Fan Expo 2010

Well, it’s the end of August, which means that Fan Expo 2010 has come and gone. However, what’s been a yearly pilgrimage for myself and some other Biff Bam Poppers for some time wasn’t the clear cut success it has been in the past. Here’s a brief rundown on what worked and what didn’t at what has become one of the biggest conventions in North America.


LINING UP: First off – the lines to get into the Metro Toronto Convention Centre’s North Building on Fan Expo Day 1 were absolutely ridiculous and unwarranted. Deluxe pass holders were promised early admission (2pm) but the line that went around the building guaranteed that that wasn’t going to happen. And it didn’t. Long line-ups may make for a great visual on the news and throughout the industry, but for those fans that ponied up their cash early, this was pure case of screwing the customer. Day 2 was apparently worse for those coming just for the day. With “record” crowds allegedly onhand, thousands were stuck outside the venue while movement between the floors was body to body, hot and uncomfortable, and a legitimate fire hazard. It’s to be expected that moving on the convention floor to the various booths is going to be a sticky situation with the gathered throngs, but getting into the venue needs to be revisited for next year. It was such an unpleasant experience that, combined with the next criticism, I made the decision to skip out on Day 3 of the show. Organizers did try to make up for things by extended yesterday’s show hours, but I’m not sure that would completely quell people’s frustrations.

WHERE WERE THE DEALS? This has nothing to do with the organizers and more to do with what you expect when you go to a convention like Fan Expo. Me, I’m looking for deals. I want to walk in and buy my books at an exceptional discount. This year, 20% and 30% off US cover just wasn’t going to cut it for me. Sadly, this meant I really didn’t come away with anything particularly exciting. It also meant I was going to come home and purchase the books I didn’t get off of for the best price that’s out there. I’m all for supporting the industry, but as a guy with a family and a mortgage, I’m also into watching my wallet.

SAN DIEGO SPOILS IT FOR THE REST OF US: I don’t know about you, but with all of the hype that came out of this years San Diego geek gathering, this years Fan Expo left me pretty cold. Sure, there was a big Tron booth and the Alien pod display for the upcoming Blu-Ray release, but where was our Avengers panel? Where was Ryan Reynolds espousing the virtues of next year’s Green Lantern film? I know that Fan Expo has not been the place for those sorts of events in the past, but seeing as how much it’s grown over the last few years, and considering the emphasis put on San Diego just a few weeks ago, it’s hard not feeling as though this year’s show lacked real buzz.

SHATNER ON SUNDAY ONLY: This had to be one of the biggest let downs for me of the entire convention. The fact that William Shatner was only going to be in attendance for one day. That meant longer line-ups if I wanted to even contemplate meeting him for a picture or autograph. And since he wouldn’t be there until Day 3, nobody knew what sort of fees he would be charging (I later heard it was $80 for a picture or autograph – in the words of a great Totontonian? “Cha, right!!”). Another reason I chose to take a pass on Sunday.


ROGERS WIRELESS TICKETING: Full disclosure – it’s through being a Rogers employee that I pay my bills, but that fact has nothing to do with my kudos. As a subscriber, I decided to save the service charges and buy my Fan Expo ticket wirelessly (I also had an interest in this newfangled technology). Well, as it turns out, those of us who purchased tickets via Rogers Wireless wound up getting a phone call and email informing us that we could enter the convention via the Premium ticket holder line-up, thus saving me hours of waiting to get inside. This was a huge and totally unexpected bonus. If I attend next year’s show, this is my guaranteed method of ticket purchase.

THE STAN LEE VIP EXPERIENCE:For old school comic book fans, the biggest guest of the year was Marvel legend Stan Lee. And it was clear by the massive lines for every signing and photo-op that there were thousands of folks eager to meet the man who created Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man, The X-Men, Silver Surfer and so many more. Luckily, myself and my compatriots acted quick and early and purchased the expensive Stan Lee VIP Experience months ago. This meant no waiting in lines for pictures or autographs. Instead, out VIP pass brought us to the front of line for those events, saving us considerable time and angst. It also meant that we had some nice moments with the legend himself. Stan The Man told BBP contributor JP he was a great model during their picture together; he smiled and told me “I’m proud of you” when I mentioned I had Spidey tattooed on my shoulder; meanwhile our art contributor Denny co-ordinated a nice group shot of the three of us together with Stan at the VIP meet and greet reception that occurred on Friday night (with free food to boot). While there may have been some serious screw-ups for the everyday pass holders, the Fan Expo big wigs made sure that everyone who paid the big bucks to schmooze with Stan got their money’s worth.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Rather than trying to hustle for interviews, this year I attended Fan Expo as a fan. And as a fan, I walked away with the realization that I was no longer interested in long line-ups to meet celebs (not that I ever was much, but I have waited a while to meet certain creators and would have liked to shake Captain Kirk’s hand). Because I’m at least 4 or 5 months off of my comic reading because I like to wait for trades to come out, I wasn’t interested in attending panels that would either spoil stories or use a lot of hyperbole to generate interest in the next big events (Spider-Man’s world will never be the same?Where have I heard that before?). And because of budget and responsibility I was working with a “what do I need” mentality rather than a “what do I want” one, which took a bit of the thrill out of shopping. I guess that’s why it’s called growing up.

However, I did meet Stan Lee in the company of two of closest compadres, to which I say any disappointments do pale in comparison. And if my Fan Expo days are coming to a close as I’m left feeling as though they are, it’s nice to know that I at least got to meet the man who taught me that with great power comes great responsibility.

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