Vertigo Zombies: Hellblazer

Lost in the annals of time due to a rather large dispute with creators at the time was the event known as Vertigo Zombies. DC, who was gaining ground with it’s more artistic but less public friendly books, premiered Vertigo Zombies as a way to get the average comic reader to read Vertigo books pairing the Vertigo book characters with a fight against the undead hordes. Ultimately the normal artists and writers rebelled, for the most part, so Vertigo went out of house to create the books. The normal series creators ended up threatening to sue the company so the issues were never published but they were finished.
Join us this week though as we look at the covers and discuss what never was with Vertigo Zombies.

Vertigo Zombies: Hellblazer

Constantine – British, Sting, smoker. Simple enough. Mind you any supernatural fighting detective is more than prepared to fight the undead mob so Vertigo Zombies: Hellblazer went for a surreal slapstick as the world around Constantine burned to the ground, screamed in pain and joined the shuffling mob. Constantine meanwhile was dealing with a hangover in search for the hair of the dog but he finally broke through his haze enough to deal with the swarm by calling up a friend who cast a spell removing the zombie disease before being consumed by the demon that created it. Ironically this first issue also dealt with the zombie disease as a whole and unfortunately overplayed the lack lack of worries that characters in the Vertigo Universe would have when it came to fighting the undead.

Thing Of The Week: Ghosts In Comics

Ghosts have been an integral part of comics ever since the first appearance of a vigilante murderer named Casper the Ghost in the early 20’s. Due to a retcon and a more famous reboot brought on by the purchase of the title though, Casper is generally seen as a children’s character but stands as the launching point for ghosts in comics.
Many modern heroes follow in the path of Casper the Ghost such as The Deadmens, Jonah Hex, The Specter, and Susan Storm.
The Deadmens was started by Johannes Malkemus, a Russian immigrant who grew up on a dairy farm in South Carolina. Often beset with the vapors, Malkemus wrote and illustrated stories about the Boston Deadmens, a former circus trapeze artist who was killed for getting too close to the truth. With his ability to possess the living and the dead, he fought criminals and the power of the government as Malkemus was a heavily conservative person with little trust in the government. After 2 years of publishing the comic which was sold in a local gas station, Detective Comics purchased the character rights and reinvented the character as Boston Brand, the Deadman. Malkemus went on to drink the $100 he was paid for his character rights in one afternoon and died two days later of alcohol poisoning.
Jonah Hex was created originally as a ghost cowboy during World War 2 when a young man named Stan Ditko began drawing stories of a ghost cowboy who cared so much about justice that he could not allow himself to sleep. Ditko’s stories about Jonah Hex mostly focused on Hex floating through prison walls and punching out criminals who were trying to escape. When Ditko grew bored after 3 issues he packed the books away and left them at home where his parents sold them to Neal Adams who brought the character to the attention of DC offices and established Jonah Hex in All-Star Western.
The Specter is like Deadmans but with more blacksploitation. Literally reread the Deadmens article but with stock characters and you get the idea of the Spectre.
Susan Storm was sort of a ghost. What am I, wikipedia? I don’t know. Wikipedia stuff. Listen, if you don’t know who Susan Storm is, I can’t help you. Gosh.

Know The Staff: Joe Hunter

Since we are still a new magazine with a mostly brand new crew we feel it is our responsibility to introduce ourselves to you, the new readers, so that we can be boiled down to archetypal characters and then placed into your FF7 fanfictions because you can only read about Cloud and Sephiroth banging for so many times.

Nerdcenaries: Greetings Joe Hunter. What is your favorite color?
Joe Hunter: Green, I guess?
N: So, how did you get started drawing?
JH: Uhh… according to my parents I got glasses and just started drawing derpy little not-quite-stick figure Batmans on everything. I was apparently quite smitten with Batman ’66 as a child.
N: Who with a soul wasn’t?
JH: Very true.
N: No, that was actually a question.
JH: Oh. Uhh… Fascists? Shit, I don’t know
N: Works well enough for me. So have you had any official art training?
JH: Art School. Oh Christ, Art School.
N: Is Oh Christ the one where you paint with blood from stigmatas?
JH: Yes. You’re familiar with it?
N: I looked at it but when all I bled was wine they got all quiet and whispery.
JH: Uh-huh…
N: But art school, what was so bad about it?
JH: The atmosphere was just kind of suffocating, especially if you weren’t in Fine Art. And I’m about as far from “fine” as it gets…
N: So now you mostly freelance?
JH: Yup. And do comics and crap.
N: What are some of these comics that you do?
JH: I write and draw Ghostbucket which is a bunch of semi-autobiographical comics alongside whatever else I feel like doing, and I draw another comic called Halfling or something with some guy. It’s a fun story about a bisexual midget detective from New Jersey. He himself isn’t a midget, he investigates midget-on-midget crime.
N: Is it a short comic?
N: Will it be collected as a mini?
N: Will they be used as fuel for a dwarf star?
JH: There’s a line and we’ve clearly crossed it.
N: Now is it true that you terrorize a small countryside because you are, in fact, a kaiju monster?
JH: Yes, but I thought that was going to be our little secret.
N: So is there anything you want to pimp before we go?
JH: I think I did the pimping already…?
N: Pimping for other people?
JH: I don’t know…
strong>N: Awesome! Well thank you for your time Joe.
JH: Thanks.

Secret Convention Items: Zemo Block

Every year hundreds of thousands of people go to comic book conventions and unknown to them, like the fast food joints they eat at while at the cons, there is a secret menu of items. This is Secret Convention Items.

Palette Of Baron Zemos
A Palette Of Baron Zemos Composed Of 2 Zemo Blocks

The Marvel Legends line of toys which began in 2002 has been a staple of toys for the comic fan and collector alike with character from a wide variety of series and even allowing more obscure characters to have a time to shine. Coupled with variant figures and special build a figure series the Legends stand as one of the great toy collections – minus a few figures.
In 2006 the Marvel Legends 14 line was released with figures such as the extremely rare Luke Cage and it’s even rarer variant, the first appearance version of Iron Man and the alwats hella confusing Psylocke. Coupled in with the set though were some less favorable figures – Falcon, Longshot and the turd of the set – Baron Zemo.
These series of toys starting with 9 also contained the build a figure pieces allowing those who purchased all of the figures in the series to create a bigger figure. Some of these like Apocalypse, Galactus, the Sentinel and Giant Man (inexplicably in the same set as Ant Man thereby meaning Ant Man has his own foot) are still sought after pieces.
The problem was somebody believed not only that people would want all of Series 14 of toys, but that they would want a Mojo, the cyber-spider tub of green fat as a reward.
As previously mentioned, the variants were also a popular add-in offering palette swaps of the characters or even fully different cosmetic changes such as Thing with a trenchcoat, Sentry Jesus, ionic Wonder Man and more. The Baron Zemo also had a variant though – a maskless Zemo.
If you are unfamiliar with the history of comics and characters, Baron Helmut Zemo was a Nazi who fought Captain America. In one of their earlier fights, the Nazi was tossed into a vat of boiling glue without his mask resulting in horrific burns which is why he wears a mask. Somebody thought – “You know what my kid wants? A Nazis with a burnt face and no mask. Oh, and we can couple that with the horrific head of Mojo for the best nightmare fodder ever.”
While the completionist and collectors begrudgingly bought the Nazi, mostly the mask on version, thousands of Zemos piled up and were sold in massive blind box toy sales where $400 would get you a cardboard boy of Marvel Legends and other figures, mostly the shitty ones. Eventually collections consolidated and the first Zemo Block was created and recorded for sale in 2007 with 480 Zemos weighing in at a total of 720 pounds and standing at a height of 5 feet high setting the standard for a Zemo Block.
Most conventions actually have a list of Zemo Block holders and their prices (it turns out that you can mention you have a block for sale) that way they can be sure to bring it with them since carrying an extra 720 pounds that might not sell is less of a hassle.
Now prices range anywhere from $700 to $3000 depending on the seller and the show but due to the immense weight for shipping and the shame that comes from owning a Zemo Block, a sign of bad salesmanship, these Blocks are not listed online. Unexpectedly if you find a variant only block, the price circles down to around the $500 -$800 area because melted Nazi faces sell horribly. The variants are seen as an impurity in the collection and cause the price to go down.
Now you might say – what can I do with 480 facially scarred Nazi figures?
I have no idea but since when was collecting based around things making sense?

Join us next week when we discuss the rare Daredevil Batroc bust.

Know The Staff: Dominic Griffin and Jim Bizon

Since we are still a new magazine with a mostly brand new crew we feel it is our responsibility to introduce ourselves to you, the new readers, so that we can be boiled down to archetypal characters and then placed into your FF7 fanfictions because you can only read about Cloud and Sephiroth banging for so many times.

[Since new contributors Dominic Griffin & Jim Bizon live in the same house, separated only by a wall, not unlike Run DMC and Aerosmith, we decided to let them interview each other.]

Jim: What’s up? Have you seen this new AFLAC Commercial?
Dominic: Is it awesome?
J Eh. It isnt Gilbert Gottfried. [long silence] So, who exactly is Dom Griffin?
D: He’s a sort of writer person. Pop culture junkie. Movie nerd. Professional wrestling mark. Likes: Batman, Grant Morrison’s impossibly shiny dome, tacos. Dislikes: Pants, oligarchy, tiny buttons. Why do people call you “The Jimma?”
J: Funny enough, It all started as a typo sometime around 2001 on an ancient Social site called, I just kinda ran with it, Y’know…Like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson.
D: Same thing happened to The Rock. Someone was trying to write a fan letter to Charles S. Dutton, star of television’s ROC, and it ended up in Dwayne’s mailbox. True facts.
J: Not suprising, He strikes me more as a Clancy. So, Comics?
D: They’re great? I learned how to read from old Claremont/Byrne X-Men issues, so comics hold a special place in my heart, nestled carefully between cookies and freedom. You’re an artist. Who are your biggest influences?
J: Jeez. That’s a toughy. I’d honestly say Bruce Timm’s Work on “Batman: The Animated Series” is pretty high on my list, and of Course Jack Kirby, for he is King. But in all honestly, alot of internet artists: Chris Haley, Jay King, Joe Hunter, Deanne Trippe, Olly Moss, Ming Doyle, Jess Fink and Mike Mitchel…they got the fire going under my ass again.
D: I concur, in that I maintain giant crushes on all those you named.
J: So you mentioned Grant Morrison earlier. You’re good with the words, who are some of your revered scribes?
D: The aforementioned bald one. Mark Waid. Warren Ellis. Outside of comics, David Mamet, Charlie Kaufman, Noel Coward, Paul Schrader. Um, Shakespeare. I’m a big fan of anything Chuck Klosterman writes anywhere. SEX, DRUGS, AND COCOA PUFFS changed my twentysomething life. It was like the toilet paper letter from the “prisoner” in V FOR VENDETTA. Like, wow, I am not alone in this depth of geekery.
J: So, I’d say we’ve known each other for a minute?
D: …15 years?
J: Give or take a day or two in the Hyperbolic Time Chamber.
D: …do you want to pimp stuff?
J: Shameless plugs?
D: Yes. That’s what I meant. Not, like, prostitution.
J: It’s not like I need to tell people to follow you or I on Twitter.
D: Yeah, it’s not like people need to know that you and me are on Tumblr.
J: Also, they probably already like Xaiados Studios on the facebooks.
D: …I still have a Friendster*.

*Editor’s note: NO ONE still has a Friendster.**

*Now get me pictures of Spider-Man. – Actual Editor.