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The Fantastic Four Meet the Beatles

on Tue, 05/19/2015 - 00:00

In November 1961, Marvel Comics premiered The Fantastic Four, a new type of superhero comic that was more grounded in reality than its predecessors with as much emphasis on the personal lives of the main protagonists as their world-saving exploits. The Fantastic Four likewise launched the beginnings of the Marvel Universe, with Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor and Spider-Man joining the fray in the immediate years to follow. On February 9, 1964, meanwhile, the Beatles made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show, ushering Beatlemania into the United States and helping to define the ensuing decade as much as anyone else. Thirteen months later—in March 1965—these twin Pop Culture icons collided when the Human Torch and Thing came face-to-face with John, Paul, George and Ringo in issue 130 of Strange Tales.

Or at least they came close to meeting the Beatles. In true screwball-comedy fashion, the Fantastic Two kept getting sidetracked on their way to a concert by the Fab Four, circumventing traffic jams and hunting down a trio of criminals at an amusement park instead. The adventure begins innocently enough, with Ben “Thing” Grimm and Johnny “Human Torch” Storm being instructed by Reed Richards to finish repairs on a “blasted cornball thingamajig”—in Thing’s words—while he and Sue “Invisible Girl” Storm attend a conference at City Hall. With more bickering than teamwork, Thing and the Human Torch cause further damage to the device they are supposed to be fixing before receiving a phone call from girlfriends Doris Evans and Alicia Masters. Doris and Alicia had been out shopping when they not only discovered that the Beatles would be performing that evening but scored four tickets to the sold-out show as well.

Tonight on David Letterman: The Avengers!

on Sun, 05/17/2015 - 00:00

Over the course of a 33-year career as a late night talk show host, David Letterman has interviewed a plethora of comic book superheroes. From Batman alter-ego Michael Keaton, Catwoman Anne Hathaway, through the entire cast of The Avengers—including Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson—both Late Night with David Letterman on NBC and Late Show with David Letterman on CBS has witnessed a multitude of appearances by the actors and actresses who have brought the DC and Marvel Universes to life on the big screen. While that list of special guests is impressive, however, it pales compared to the actual superheroes that made their way to NBC Studios in 1984 for their own appearance with David Letterman.

The visit takes place in issue 239 of The Avengers comic book series—subtitled “Late Night of the Super-Stars with David Letterman”—with Hawkeye, Wonder Man, Black Widow, the Beast and Black Panther all on hand at 30 Rockefeller Center. It is explained early in the issue that Captain America and Thor were busy with “personal matters,” while other members of the superhero team were on the West Coast dealing with a “mysterious phenomena.” Even with the absence of these heavyweights, Late Night with David Letterman was still an evening to remember, with a supervillain attack that not only had the Avengers initially on their heels but even featured Letterman himself getting into the act by whacking the culprit on the head with a giant doorknob.

From Pittsburgh to Seattle and Places In Between

on Sun, 04/12/2015 - 00:00

Pittsburgh is blessed with a multitude of small conventions that focus on practically every aspect of Geek Culture imaginable. Steel City Con in Monroeville is held three times a year, for instance, with a focus on Pop Culture. Science fiction literature fans have Confluence, while aficionados of Japanese Pop Culture have Tekko. Horror fans have Horror Realm and Monster Bash, while the Living Dead Festival caters to zombies. PIX: The Pittsburgh Indy Comix Expo puts the spotlight on comic books, while Anthrocon is geared towards Furries and fans of animation. Barely a month goes by in any given calendar year without some sort of con, giving Pittsburgh a vibrant scene for both Geeks and non-Geeks alike.

Despite the abundance of options in the area, part of me has always wanted to check out similar scenes in other locales across the country. Truth is, it’s been a long time since I’ve been outside of the Three Rivers, and 2015 seemed like as good of a time as any. Starting in January, I travelled to Salt Lake City, Cleveland and Seattle for major conventions, and if you go back to late July 2014, Las Vegas can also be added into the mix. It was a varied assortment of cons, from Creation Entertainment’s Official Star Trek Convention in Vegas to a newer con in Salt Lake, a Wizard World in Cleveland to one of the most respected national comic cons in Seattle. While the basic aspects of each convention were more or less the same, each experience was also different, offering unique spins on the Pop Culture explosion that has erupted in the Twenty First Century.