Archive for March, 2013

Welcome back Satellite Subscribers, it has truly been too long. Strap yourself in for this one heroes as this week we push the Satellite to a Galaxy far Far Away. We will be going back to a time great time in our history when men were men and Star Wars was Star Wars. George Lucas was still within his the realm of sanity and the Star wars Prequels did not exist. We had Han Solo, Princess Leia, C3-P0, R2-D2, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and or course Luke Skywalker! Thats all we knew and that was good enough for us. Outside of a few novels, and an ill advised Holiday Special,  Star Wars was what you saw in the three films. The expanded Universe had not taken off however one company dared tackle the untouchable Star Wars Universe…Marvel Comics. Marvel for many years would take us on a authentic journey through the Star Wars Universe and introduce us to hundreds of new and exciting characters. Enough talking about this..I am punching in the coordinates next stop..The Marvel Star Wars Universe.

Transmission Date: March 20 2013:

In 1977 Marvel Comic Group with the irrepressible Stan Lee at the helm acquired the rights to the Star Wars comic book property. This was considered a big coup at the time as Marvel had been struggling for a definitive cash cow and unbeknownst to them at the time Star Wars would become a huge global success the likes of which had not been seen at the time. Marvels sales on the books followed suit and Marvel had a big hit on their hands.

One thing that Marvel accomplished during their run on the book was opening up the world of the existing characters. We were shown that what we saw on the big screen was only a fraction of the possibilities to universes to explore. The original 6 issues of the comic series covered the Star Wars movie and was the official adaptation and truth be told it was horrible. The covers were decent enough with the cover of Star wars number one being iconic to the comics industry.

The interior art was sloppy, cluttered, poorly colored and the characters were almost indistinguishable. Roy Thomas paired with Howard Chaykin (Art) to do the initial Movie Adaptation. However unlike today where we have plenty of material at their disposal Chakin and Thomas had a script and poster and some T-shirts to use as source material for their work. Thus mistakes were made. On the cover alone Luke and Obi Wan both sport Sith red light sabres. Han Solo looks bright as a Orange galactic smuggler, and the Princess looks smashing in her lovely purple? ceremonial alliance dress?

The original six issues captured a full adaption of the original Star Wars film. It did a decent enough job storyline wise and even included scenes that were on the cutting room floor by the time the movie made it to the big screen. The famous Luke and Biggs scene on tatooine was included in the first issue featured above.

Issue 7 marked the first original story by Roy Thomas and Howard Chaykin. This time it featured a Han Solo story as he attempts to take his reward money for helping the rebels destroy the Death Star to go back and pay off his gambling debts to Jabba The Hut.

Marvel made sure to add their own footprint on the Star wars Universe and while keeping the focus on the main characters they added new characters to the universe. Issue 8 opened up and introduced a whole group of support characters to assist Han Solo and Chewbacca help a moisture farmer protect his farm from space thugs. The situation is dire and Solo himself hires the services of six other space warriors to help him in the cause. Marvel created a mixed bag of Star Wars style characters in the form of a Green Rabbit named Jaxxon, as well as a senior citizen who claims to be a Jedi Knight named Don-Wan Kihotay, and wields a pink light sabre? It was interesting the choices the creators made when adding new characters to the Star wars universe. It was painfully obvious that we did not have much in the way of Star Wars continuity to pull from as I suspect these types of characters would not have made the cut in today’s Star wars universe.

Marvel decidedly cut its own path telling not only current stores that occurred after Star Wars but they also took chances with prequel material long before Phantom Menace stumbled into theaters years later. Issue 17 deal with the back story of Luke Skywalker and his best friend Biggs Darklighter. For the first time we would see Luke in action before the events of Star wars as Luke and Biggs encounter Sand people and have to fight their way home. This is only alluded to in the Star wars movies when Luke mentions shooting wamp rats back home and mentioning Beggars Canyon. This is one of my personal favorite issues.

We would actually flash back to the clone wars era in issue 24 and again learn some valuable prequel information. Marvel really did a great job offering back story to these characters basing their ideas solely off one film at the time. This time in the issue Silent Drifting, Obi Wan relaxes on a Pleasure Cruiser only to run headlong into a space pirate attack. Obi Wan is decidedly older that what we know about his age in the newer prequels.

Marvels characters expanded on the Star Wars universe and there were somany to mention there are a few that I will mention that are worth checking out. One such character was a Bounty Hunter who Hunted our heroes and was later revealed to be a Cyborg with a heart of gold. This character was know as The Hunter and would appear in several issues.

In the wake of Return of The Jedi Marvel would also create such controversial characters like the New Dark Lord HERSELF..Shira Elan Colla Brie, aka Lumiya. A Rebel infiltrator and potential love interest for Luke, Shira’s character was a complex one and evolved very well in the comics. Luke believed he make have caused her death as she was posing as part of a rebel alliance member. Shira would go on to become the awesome new Dark Lord, Lumiya and would battle Luke and Leia on numerous occasions.

Marvel would do two very good looking adaptions of Empire Strikes Back and Return Of The Jedi. Both books boasted awesome art work by Al Williamson and Carlos Garzon and were very faithful to the original source material.

After the original trilogy ended the comic book itself maintained some very strong story lines. Issue 81 featured Boba Fett who was devoured by the mighty Sarlacc Pit in Return of The jedi was revived to great fan fare for one more battle against Han Solo on Tatooine on board a Jawa Sandcrawler. This particular issue is of note as it features the best cover art work on an issue of Star wars ever made.

At this time Star wars was at the height of its popularity and after the final movie fans clamored for more. George Lucas and his crew pushed two made for TV EWOK movies and two Star Wars animated Series, Droids and Ewoks. Marvel jumping on the craze had created a kid friendly line which incorporated a combination of new Harvey Comics style characters like Royal Roy and Planet Terry with established TV cartoon properties such as Star Wars, ThunderCats, Heathcliff and He-Man. The new imprint line was called STAR comics and it boasted two new Star wars titles Droids and Ewoks. Both series were short lived and the STAR imprint itself was in trouble. The regular Star Wars monthly began to slowly show its age. Without a cartoon series or the hope of any new movies the franchise began to loose steam with the comic buying public. Fading story lines and a creative shuffle which saw a very scaled back art style the book looked to be in serious trouble. The series now helmed by Cynthia Martin (Pencils) and Mary Jo Duffy (Writer) took a new almost feminine approach to the book with more love interest stories, horrible characters like Knife who was a wanna be Jedi who looked like he belonged to 80s band The Doctor and The Medics, my Star Wars comic I loved so much was doomed. Creators like Roy Thomas, Al Williamson, Gil Kane and many others worked so had to make the title a success only to see it painfully decline in quality was difficult to watch as a fan.

As it was Star wars ended with issue 107 with a whimper. The cover shown above still irritates me as a fan. I remember being sad seeing it on the shelf of one of our local convenience stores and being the last issue on the shelves. I bought it that day but a part of me and my passion for comic book collecting changed that day. This was a book I had grown up with and loved and now it was gone. This series was one of the best of its kind as it was bigger than it was meant to be. Many books that started as and adaptation of a Licensed property did not grow to become its own entity.  The Marvel Comics Star Wars Universe was a cool experience as a comic book fan which in my opinion has not been duplicated. With Disney buying the rights to the Star wars Franchise and also owning Marvel Comics there suddenly is a possibility that the Marvel Star Wars Universe may live on again..hope this is just the beginning!

Transmission Ended

I urge you to check out the fine folks over at http://www.rebelscum.com/ who have archived all of the Marvel Star Wars comic book cover images. It is a real treat to visit their site and I recommend it highly!

If you have enjoyed this post and would like to discuss it further contact me directly on Twitter @charlton_hero and join the discussion using #SuperHeroSatellite.

Now heroes..we are leaving this galaxy..strap yourself in we are going home..

Transmission Date: March 4 2013

This is not a typical post today..this marks an important event in my life..after many years I up and quit my job..this is my story..

There comes a time when change comes calling..

14 years is a long time to be working anywhere. I just finished a run of that length at my most recent job. As with any job it has its ups and downs. In sales some times the downs outweigh the ups as with my last job. We all have had times when we are unappreciated, overworked and generally taken advantage of. What do most of us do? We put up with it. We go to work with people that we like who are in the same boat as us and we can relate to each others misery. Then you have those people at work you generally cannot stand and force a smile and a laugh at times to keep the peace. My workplace was full of all of these types.

We indeed DO have a problem..

Work sucks at the best of times..but sometimes its those annoyances that drive you to the door. I am sure everyone pictured what you would do if one day you could speak your mind..just let loose and not get fired. For once you could tell that boss what you think..tell that customer to stick it..tell the needy guy one desk over to do his own FN work and stop bothering me with your crap cause I got enough of my own. Politics sometimes is the biggest cancer at the workplace. When the powers that be have a agenda sometimes everyone including the company itself suffers. If you had just one chance..If I had my Vince Russo moment..I could tell em whats up!

A funny thing happened to me though. After years of sending out a casual resume and getting no response, the exact moment I had reached my limit at work was the exact time someone actually wrote me back. Somewhere out there in the divine universe someone actually at a parallel moment in time read my resume and responded to it! It was as if fate himself was screaming out to me saying “Its time!”

Walking out those doors are never easy..but always cathartic!

Let rewind the tape 4 months. A new Boss arrived at my workplace and “Changed ” things. Years prior we had two of the best managers running our particular store now their work was deemed unacceptable and our new boss was going to “Fix” all the issues at the store. It was the same thing as a meteor striking the earth. Suddenly we were under a microscope. Our work was not up to par in her mind. Yep things were a changing. This particular boss had no clue how to deal with people. In fact not only did her demands upset the staff but all of management as well. It became a full blown game of us vs. her and it was painful. The company stepped in to bring peace but the writing was on the wall. After her supposed discipline she was given the keys to the corvette and was on a mission to run us all over with it for selling her down the river. It was like my life had become a John Cougar Mellencamp song…we had indeed fought authority and yes..authority always wins.

So life at work officially became hell. I had to do something. The New Boss was mounting an offense, and the backlash against us from her discipline was slow and methodical. She began to nitpick details she could trip you up with. Yes revenge would be sweet for her. However being one step ahead of this I managed to dot every “i” and cross every “T”. Yep I went into self preservation mode. I turned to my last line of defense as my co -workers were being “disciplined” one after the other for “Performance”. This would not be me. My computer at home would become a my nuclear missile. I jumped on that bad boy for two days in a row and pumped out as many resumes as humanly conceivable, I was at war and I would be victorious. Unlike previous attempts it seemed divine intervention was at work as this time I actually attracted an audience. One thing however, it didnt pay enough. Bummer. The other job I wouldnt be caught dead working in. Two strikes. The third came and I actually got an interview! Could this be it!

So the interview came..the person doing the interview was so completely an utterly full of shit it was impossible to concentrate on the interview. I declined. So there it was, after three possible roads out of hell and I choose none. I was a defeated man. I went back to that store with my head down ready to be put to sleep. Hours later a phone call came in for me..It was my wife calling me to tell me that I had received a phone call about a job from a certain company and they wanted me to call them back immediately. I could not express the feelings of that one moment. Could it be true? Will they pay enough? Would it be a reputable company? Everything was perfect. I went through a lengthly interview process and it was a hit out of the park home run. I landed that baby!

That’s right..I nailed that interview…soooooo good. Now what do I do about my current job?

There was one hang up to the entire thing..it didnt start for another three months!!?? I still had to go to work in torment and try to survive for three months. I became fearless. I marched into work with authority and openly voiced any damn thing I wanted to voice. If there was something I thought she was doing wrong..I was there to let her know. I pissed her off and you know what it was cathartic. Things changed though..she either knew something was up and backed off or she genuinely found the maturity to properly deal with things and became human..to that I say..

Some people you will miss after leaving work..others..well..not so much!

So the only thing left to do was decide how to quit. Would I go out in a reign of verbal bullets. Would I dismantle the boss with sign language and throw the middle finger in the air! Everything crossed my mind. Yes they were about to take this job and shove it!

Maybe thats not the way..hmm. Wait Batman walked away from the “Two Bit” Justice League and join the Outsiders which is essentially what I was doing..maybe that was the way..

Heck..if Batman can quit the Justice League..surely I can make a change!!

Before anymore fireworks at work and before I did anything stupid I was transferred to another store. Probably for the better. Now I would be working with another boss that I had encountered 9 years prior who I hated equally as well..but something happened. Times change and even some people. I began enjoying work again..all the while a lingering feeling that this was only temporary and I would be leaving anyways. Somethings were brewing they were cancelling managers holidays for the summer months apparently a renovation was set to upgrade the store to get ready for the competitor (Of which I secretly now worked for!) The company had started the year of accountability where everyone’s jobs were no longer safe. I was leaving at the right time. When all these dates were coming up I could not help but smile and think..

How about that!! I QUIT!!

Admittedly despite the change in company direction, the new workplace was actually very cool. The staff were amazingly hard workers for small wages. I truly admired some of their work. I was motivated for the first time in months..I wanted to do a great job and do my best. I had a great review from a particular audit of my area.I had an amazing visit from home office of my areas. I was on top. So how did I go out? With a thank you and a hand shake. Even got a “Rehire Recommended” on my exit interview. I left with dignity intact, having never been “Disciplined” in 14 years of work. I was not quitting at the bottom of my time with the company I was leaving at the top of my game and it felt great…and on my own terms.

My last hurrah was the writing a resignation letter. What could I say that was ME? At work every piece of correspondence I would send I would attach “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility” at the end. My world was about comic books and I was a proud comic book fan. Bold as some might say. So on my way out I wanted to stress that they had overlooked my talents and that my talents would indeed make a difference… for the competition..anyways..here is my letter as it was sent. The names and company have been blocked obviously..but you get the point..

My actual Resignation Letter. The names have been blocked basically so I dont get sued..LOL

End Transmission..

P.S. So it was done after 14 years I was officially out of the company that provided for my family for so many years. I keep in perspective not to begrudge the company for the last 6 months as I have very much enjoyed my job and the people I worked with for the most part. Now I have a whole new journey in front of me…weird. Oh one more video for the road which actually sums up how good I feel at this point. Stay positive and positive things will follow..I am slowly learning that this is not just a saying but a fact…cross your fingers for me.

If you have enjoyed this blog and would like to contact me directly tweet me on twitter at @charlton_hero and join the conversation using #superherosatellite

Satellite activate. Welcome back Satellite Subscribers. Grab your sword and shield heroes as we are about to go waaaaay back in time to one of my fondest memories as a comic book kid. Comic book ads were always a sense of wonder for me and I scanned some of the ads more than some of the comics that they housed. One set of ads that always haunted me were TSRs Roleplaying game ads for the classic game Dungeons and Dragons. I played D&D twice in my life officially with actual gamers. The other times I do not count as the individuals I played with had no idea how to role play. This set of ads drew me in like the Death Star tractor beam, but I have never had them all in front of me at one time to actually read the story beginning to end. Thanks to the folks over at Crunchy Dice website (crunchydice.blogspot.ca/) who so lovingly preserved these ads. So if you have always wanted to read these things from start to finish in chronological order..the time is now. Seat belts secure..lets go back in time.

Transmission date: March 2 2013:

The first ad was admittedly a little rough. The art would improve in later ads but this is the official first appearance of Grimslade the Magician, Indel the Elf, and Valerius the Warrior as they use their cunning to defeat a slime monster and a castle full of green slime.

No questions the group is joined by Saren literally out of no where as poor Indel the Elf is devoured by the dripping green slime. Luckily the healing Cleric powers of Saren saves our Elven friend from certain doom! You never know when you will need a random Healer in your group!

That silly Elf Indel has gone missing clearly still dazed by his slime experience while the others run into a wave of Goblins who do not stand a chance against Grimslade the magician. Beginning to wonder does Valerius actually do anything with that sword? Hmmm. Mean while we see Indel fall into a pit only to go face to face with a Red Dragon! Easter egg: Check out Indels red lipstick as he falls. Hmmm.

Our mace wielding female healer Saren, apparently has abilities not only to heal but to see through doors and picks up Indels location long enough for the noble Valerius to burst through the heavy wooden door to stop the certain doom of Indel at the hands of the Red Dragon. The Dragon sees Valerius is sporting the Great Sword Naril and backs off. The group celebrates their victory as they round up Indel and head out of the slime, goblin and dragon filled castle to relax in the warmth of Gavins inn. The first adventure comes to a close. The art at this point has improved significantly and their use of panel layouts and even the lettering are up to standard by this time!

Forget relaxation our band of Dungeon thrill seekers are remembering how they came together after they were introduced by Grimslades Mentor Grindel, a fellow magician. We see some backstory with student and mentor as Grindel predicts Grimslade will one day be a great Wizard and shows how he bestowed on him the Fabulous Heart of Mekron. With all their memories set aside for the evening the group is suddenly visited by the ghost of Grindel. But what does this mean for our group?

The group deciding that they need to help their old friend Grindel after their ghostly visit at Gavins Inn set out to find Grindel and get him out of trouble. However in the dark forest has someone or something guarding it. Werewolves! The group is suddenly attacked and it looks like Indel and Saren are in some trouble! The art by this point was good enough to be in an indy book. The characters look more defined and all the way around the board we have us a good series.

Honestly I have never seen this particular ad before so this is actually my first read of this one. Loving it too! Anyways back to the story. The powerful Werewolf Oakthorn and his companion are handily defeated by the girl Saren and Elf Indel by simply moving out of the way casting a spell and slashing at them unsuccessfully! The Werewolves are run off and the group is alive no thanks to Grimslade and the powerful do nothing warrior Valerius. But wait what is that up ahead..as they move carefully through the Blackswamp of Lobella, Grimslade spots the Mountains of Ash..can Grindel be there? Spoiler alert. No!

Apparently Evil forces are at work in the mountains and suddenly….AVALANCHE!! Saren the female healer is down..possible exhausted dodging those pesky Werewolves. Never fear Valerius, who is well rested at this point carries her to safety. The situation is grim and Indel the Elf is not even in the picture, maybe buried in the Avalanche. Grimslade opens up a Dimensional door using his magic scroll and whisks the company to an ancient castle where they remain to this day as the series of ads came to a grinding halt unresolved.

So ends the series and this Satellite Transmission I just wish someone out there who has some artistic ability would publish at least one more page to wrap this story up! Any takers? Ill even publish it on the Superhero Satellite. So our mission ends again heroes with fond memories of reading stacks of books and just wishing I had some extra cash to order these wonderful items from the back of the comics. Till next time, The Charlton Hero has other worlds to save.

If you have enjoyed this blog post feel free to leave a comment as I will reply to them all. If you want to contact me directly catch me on Twitter as @charlton_hero, or join the conversation using #SuperHeroSatellite

Transmission Ended.