A Panel To Kill

Halloween has come and gone.  The windows once adorned with pumpkins and witches are now home to Christmas Trees and Santa- yes they’re trying to skip Thanksgiving again (more to come on a future post)!   Regular readers to my blog know I’m an avid comic book reader and collector.  I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying thousands of stories featuring adventure, action, drama, comedy, and sometimes horror.  I asked a select group of comic book artists, store owners, and fans what the scariest story they’ve ever read was.  Warning, some of these posts reference stories not meant for young readers.

Here is what they said:

Ryan Henry – comic book fan and aspiring creator.

Batman vs The Red Hood !

I don’t think I have read that many but one comes to mind. There is a batman comic where he is lying beaten in an alleyway and people who may or not be there come up to and talk to him. It was scary and creepy at the same time. I don’t remember the comic name, but I think it was from the early 90s







Ilan Strasser – owner Mighty Moose Comics in Bellevue, WA

COMIC classics illustrated war of the worlds
Not to be confused with the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds

Probably the single scariest comic story I’ve ever read was the Classics Illustrated War of the Worlds comic!! Because I was young when I first read it and I was of the generation that grew up on 1950’s sci-fi movies, it seemed very possible to me that it could happen. It was scary as hell for a 10 year old!!


In the Bellevue area? Learn more about Mighty Moose Comics here!





Jan Marc Quisimbing – Comic book artist, writer, and creator 

2 favs: Batman Gothic, art by Klaus Janson and Gotham By Gaslight. Great reads that still give me chills. If you don’t own them, you should. Also Batman The Cult. Great stuff 
King of Hellbatman-the-cult-1Gotham by Gaslight

Jan Marc has created spectacular comics of his own including Pogi Boy and Big Brown Monkey.  For some of his ridiculously creative and awesome art, check his website out here.  If you are in the Sedona area, look for the Janimal around the local art scene and comic book shows.

Scott Hughes – Owner, Highlander Games and Comics in Boonton, NJ and Fat Moose Comics in Whippany, NJ 

When I think of the ‘Scariest’ Comic story, I of course try to think of some story of horror. Perhaps my favorite Eerie or Creepy book. But, when I think of the books that I loved when I was younger, the books that braved the trail of realism, it is hard for me to think of a ‘scarier’ story than Kraven’s Last Hunt. A story that single-handedly changed how Spider-Man was written. It’s haunting imagery, the fear in Mary Jane’s eyes, the desperate actions of Spider-Man, created a dark tone and realism that I had not read before in Amazing Spider-Man. The eventual ending and suicide of an iconic Spidey Villain left me with a sense of loss that, years removed, I can still feel the twangs of.


For info about Highlander Games & Comics click here

For more info on Fat Moose Comics ( my comic book store of choice and a truly great store for all things fun) click here 

“Philtastic” Phil Maenza – That’s me! 🙂

Admitting I’ve never been into horror movies or comics.  As a kid I preferred Godzilla to Jason any day of the week and as an adult I’d watch Pan’s Labyrinth or The Shining before a single episode of The Walking Dead.  I can recall two distinct comic book stories that creeped me out big time.  The first is Scott Snyder’s modern day classic Batman story: The Court of Owls.


The idea of a cultish secret society quietly occupying the dark corners of Gotham City was enough to terrify anyone including Batman himself.  It’s the first time I ever noticed the character was afraid because the master detective who was smart enough to out think criminal minds like the Riddler, Penguin, and Joker was surprised and literally stopped by the shocking finale. In the end it didn’t take a super powered homicidal maniac to scare Batman, it took a group of well off socialites in masks.

The second scariest tale I’ve read wasn’t a complete story it was one single panel.  The first time Marvel’s Ultimate Universe almost ended (not really the universe, just the quality stories (except Ultimate Spidey), the body count was high.  Seminal heroes like Daredevil, Beast, and Nightcrawler met their untimely fate- some off panel.  Although many of the deaths were shocking and unexpected the most gruesome and surprising was the beloved Wasp.    For the first time in my long history or reading comics, I made an audible gasp as I turned the page to see the longtime Avenger half-eaten by the Blob.  The villain was in turn bitten in half by Hank Pym but I’ve never forgotten Ms. Van Dyne’s fate.




What is your scariest memory from either comics or literature?  Let me know and I’ll recap some of the best ones – phil@successphil.com

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an entrepreneur, consumer behavior professional, and lifestyle expert.  His interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like-minded optimists.  The Joker’s appearance during End Game came in at a close third for me. 

My Life As a Gamer

I’ve never had an addictive personality; I can’t stand cigarettes and grew bored of alcohol sometime after college.  For a very long time, however, I was addicted to the pixelated joy of gaming.  The original Nintendo Entertainment System, or NES for short, turns 30 years old this week. I personally haven’t touched a game controller … Read moreMy Life As a Gamer

Don’t Call it a Reboot! Pt2: Marvel’s Secret War

Please note, this is a continuation of my prior post title: Don’t call it a reboot pt 1: DC’s Convergence which you can review by clicking on the hyperlink.


It’s the end of the world as we know it  (SPOILERS)

The Marvel Universe, referred to comic book aficionados as the 616, has come to an end!  Having collided with the Ultimate Universe, resulting in both “realities” being eradicated and mashed into one new reality called Battle World. So just how did all this happen?  Basically, Black Panther discovered the different alternate earths comprising Marvel’s famed Multi-verse ( i e parallel universes) are crashing into each other and destroying their respective realities.  Black Panther alerts the Illuminati, a brain trust of the greatest minds of the Marvel Universe, and eventually the other Avengers but despite all their actions they are unable to stop the incursion of the Ultimate Universe with their own.  Please note, the description I gave is a extreme summary of a plot that unfolded over the course of roughly three years in multiple titles.  If you want the full story, head to your local comic book store and check out “Time Runs Out” story line. If you go this option, be prepared to shell out some serious cash for a collected volume of all the issues which make up the story.

Enter Battle World

As stated above, the only remains of the Multiverse and all of Marvel is a place called Battle World, a mashup of different Marvel stories and realities throughout the company’s history.  Elements of each universe have their own small country on a map, in a very Game of Thrones style world ruled by none other than Dr. Doom.  These nations include themes from story lines such as Planet Hulk, Civil War, Inferno, Armor Wars, and 2099. It seems multiple versions of the same characters are present such as Spider-man (ie Ultimate, Renew your Vows, Spiderverse, etc), Wolverine (ie X-men 92, Age of Apocalypse, Old Man Logan, etc) and a legion of Thors who act as Dr. Doom’s guard, believing he is the messiah.

Why Secret War?

According to various reports, Marvel own 40% of the market with DC a distant second- so why shake things up? Depends who you ask.  The Marvel writing staff insists this ambitious story has been years in development as a means to streamline everything into one universe, which makes sense to a degree.  Marvel has had many convoluted stories retconed over the past few years, this could serve as a literary device to finally straighten things out.  Feral fans insist this is a may of making the comics appear more similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe currently sweeping movie theaters across the world blockbuster after blockbuster, this makes sense to a degree as well.  Merchandise for both the Fantastic Four and X-men have become noticeably less visible over the past couple years as Fox owns the exclusive cinematic rights to each property.  This came to a climax when Marvel and Fox met in court over the use of  the characters, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who have ties to both the X-men and Avengers. Whatever the reason may be, Marvel seems to have a definite plan here, even leaking some exciting post Secret Wars plans.

I’m more positive on Secret Wars than I was at this point during DC’s Convergence because Marvel seems to have some direction and plans this far out they are more than excited to share.  Right off the bat I’m more than happy to see the lineup for the new (or another) Avengers team including Ms. Marvel, Ultimate Spider-man, and Sam Wilson.  If anything is to be saved from the Ultimate Universe, Miles Morales deserves his place in the spotlight and it seems the powers that be agree!


Recently Marvel has announced top talent writer Brian Michael Bendis, known not only for the creation and subsequent destruction of the Ultimate Universe but also the creation of the modern day Avengers, will be assuming writing duties of Iron Man this fall.  Iron Man will be Marvel’s new tent pole title around which this bold new universe will be built around.  This was further backed up by new teaser art showing Iron Man surrounded by other characters who will be at the forefront of Marvel post-Secret Wars including recognizable characters who have been in the background  like Ant-Man, Agent Phil Culson, and various members of the Inhumans as well as Secret Wars refugees Old Man Logan and Bloodwulf ( a character from the 1970s I had to look up myself).  One notable character included in the artwork is X-23 donning a new costume inspired by her mentor, the deceased Wolverine we all miss.  One thinks this may be an attempt to silence anyone insistent Marvel is attempting to “do away” with the X-Men.

Marvel-Post-Secret-Wars-2 Marvel-Post-Secret-Wars









Other exciting observations include members of the Squadron Supreme, Thing in new Guardians inspired attire, Spider-Gwen, Peter Parker, Citizen V, and Dr. Strange wielding a rather nasty looking double edged ax.   Marvel has also stated Maestro, the villainous Hulk from the Future Imperfect story line and the all female Avengers featured in A-Force will also be a prominent part of this new universe.


My Secret Wars Wish List

Just as I did with Convergence, I’m asking posting some things I’d like to see both during and post Secret Wars.

1. Empty out the toy box – With the inclusion of mini-series such as Weird World, Where Monsters Dwell, and 1602 inspired continents it’s apparent Marvel is certainly digging deep for content.  I say while you’re at it lets tap the bottom of the toy chest for the long forgotten characters and stories we thought we’d never see.  I’m talking about bargain bin dwellers such as Cap-Wolf, Brute Force, and the Marvel Knights Angel Punisher.  At the end of the day, why the hell not?


2. Magneto – The Malcom X inspired character is one of the most interesting figures in comic book history not because of the various changes he has been through but because despite these changes he has kept true to his ideals.  There will be various versions of other characters walking around, why not have the present day Magneto collide with his counter parts and less than noble versions.  Why not have the heroic Age of Apocalypse Magneto collide with the character at the height of his villainy from X-Men 92.  Maybe even an entire team of Magneto’s, M-Force?

3. Wolverine – If you read my post on the Death of Wolverine you’ll no doubt know I am a huge fan of the Ol’Canuckle head and was sad to see him go.  He was my favorite character since childhood and has left a huge vacuum in the Marvel Universe.   Many automatically assumed as soon as Secret War was announced this would be the way Logan would rise again.  All this being said, keep him dead. Nuff said.

4. Villains – Marvel has a stable of some of the greatest antagonists in comics- Apocalypse, Kingpin, Kang, Norman Osborn etc.  Although there have been some notable moments in individual titles It feel as if they’ve all taken a backseat to Thanos in the past few years, on a line wide scale.  Even Sabertooth and Venom are heroes right now.  With the inclusion of Maestro this is a good time to bring back the bad.  Let’s see characters like Omega Red, Stryfe, and Mr. Sinister, who has already made an early appearance in Battle World, make a comeback.  The Ultimate universe also some great villains in their stable, Dr. Doom, Green Goblin, and Reed Richards.  I’m curios to see their take on Red Skull, whom will star in his own Battle World title.

5. Don’t be afraid to keep what worked – Marvel hasn’t been afraid to try bold new ideas.  Some like introducing a more diverse superhero (Ms. Marvel, Northstar, Miles Morales, and Flash Thompson) are applauded by the readers and the industry while other moves have been quickly introduced and redacted what didn’t work  (Spider-man: The Other). It’s encouraging to see some of the more recent changes, like a female Thor and a black Captain America, are sticking around.  I love the direction of the most recent volumes of Ms.Marvel, Daredevil, and Silver Surfer.  Would hate to think Secret Wars would bring these stories to an abrupt, screeching halt.

6. No more “baby heroes” – One title during I won’t be picking up is A vs X, why? Skottie Young. Yes his offbeat “baby” style is amusing at times but he’s over exposed.  Style does note always mean substance.

Whatever may happen, I’m sure the House of Ideas has a few surprised up their sleeves.  If not, it can always been undone, hexed away, or redacted in an unusual and contradicting story line.  In the meantime, bring on the changes, the new friends, and the new stories.

Philip A. Maenza aka “Philtastic Phil” is an internet entrepreneur and consumer behavior professional whose interests include art, film, music, stand up comedy, fitness, and comic books. Phil is also a dedicated community volunteer and always open to connecting with like-minded optimists.  Excelsior ! 

My Lent Experiment: Being More Present

I’m going to start off by telling you,I’m far from the most religious person around.Don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe in God and thank him for what I have in my life and the direction I’m headed in but, as my parents will most likely be quick to tell you, I can definitely be … Read moreMy Lent Experiment: Being More Present

Don’t call it a reboot! Pt 1: DC’s Convergence

Both major comic book companies, Marvel and DC, have big cosmic events planned this year that plan to alter their publishing lines forever (or at least until the next big event).  Although both companies have been tight lipped as to what the details of the events are, leaving a small trail of bread crumbs for … Read moreDon’t call it a reboot! Pt 1: DC’s Convergence

Twice A Day Training for Faster Gains! – Guest Blog Spot

This post originally appeared on www.garretthayden.com – he has a lot of good insights and I was really impressed by this article in particular.  Check him out. I asked for his permission prior to posting this.  If you are interested in having me repost and share your content, please feel free to contact me. Twice … Read moreTwice A Day Training for Faster Gains! – Guest Blog Spot

Words Never Said – The Story of Fireflies and Flux


I have a friend I have not seen in a few years. Who or why isn’t important, not to this post at least. I can’t say for sure if I ever will see her again, my heart says maybe my head says probably not. Rather than dwell on uncertainty I choose to make my own future. Let my fate be driven by my actions and thoughts rather than random acts put into motion by others. Still there is a conversation I wish I had with this person a long time ago. Let’s call this person Flux to avoid any further uncomfortable grammar. The rest of the details are irrelevant.

When I met Flux, Flux was very shy especially towards men. Flux had an issue with an abusive man and as a result had a fear of all men, even those in Flux’s family. Overtime Flux and I grew very close. I treated Flux like a member of my family and Flux did the same. One evening we were coming home from a night at the movies. I was in my car and Flux was in another. I didn’t see a “no turn on red” sign and was pulled over. I arrived at Flux’s house about twenty minutes later to find Flux was upset It was obvious Flux had sever separation anxiety and was afraid something had happened to me. A few months later, I was gone from Flux’s life. It wasn’t because of anything either of had done. The reason is irrelevant. I miss Flux a lot to this day and often regret I’m not part of Flux’s life any longer but I know the circumstances which separated us and know I did everything I could. There is one thing I was I had said to Flux. It haunts me now sometimes but I have faith Flux knows this because I have no other choice.

When I was a child and the warmer months were upon us, my sister and I would go outside at dusk and chase fireflies. We would try to trap one to watch their body illuminate before releasing them back into the night. On one occasion we were visiting my Grandmother, as we did weekly, and I had gone outside to catch fireflies. I managed to trap one in a small jar. I ran inside the house excited to show my family my new pet. My aunt and uncle ( brother and sister) sat me down and explained I had to release my firefly. I was only six or seven years old at the time but they explained to me somethings can’t belong to one person. They are there temporarily to appreciate and then are gone. Twenty five years or so later I realized I learned something important about people one summer evening at grandma’s house. People are like fireflies. They come into our life and they may brighten things up for awhile or they may just fly away. What makes them so special is the time we share amazed by their glow, not the time we spend missing their absence.

Flux is a little older now. I hope this is something Flux has come to realize. Every time I miss Flux I think about fireflies and say a quick little prayer hoping Flux is doing well, knowing if we are meant to be in each other’s life again, God will make it so. Until then, Every summer night when I see a firefly glow I will think of Flux and smile. Although I wish I could snuggle up next to Flux and play games like we always used to, I have to settle on this.