BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: Baseball with Galactus in Marvel Adventures Avengers #26

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE! Avengers: Endgame is breaking all of the box office records, so now is as good of a time as any to bring you a Bizarre Baseball Culture look at a truly bizarre Avengers tale: 2008’s Marvel Adventures The Avengers Volume 1 #26, in which baseball helps our heroes save a planet from Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds.

Well, sort of. It’s more of a non-sequitur thrown in to justify this awesome cover:

Image of cover of magazine, featuring Galactus looking down at the Silver Surfer, Hulk and Spider-Man playing baseball.

And… I’m totally fine with that! It is available to read for Marvel Unlimited subscribers here. Head below the jump for more of this piece:

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(Blogathon ’16) CLASSIC CONTINUUM- BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: COSMIC SLAM

This piece from the blog’s archives is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Originally posted Nov. 19, 2013

I’m coming to you from the Auxiliary Headquarters of the Continuum… AKA a Living Room instead of my usual Family Room or Bedroom writing area, due to the great Wi-Fi Crisis of 2013. The reason I have braved such perils is simple: Cosmic Slam. The sequel to Shortstop Squad, and another great epic from the folks at Ultimate Sports Entertainment (AKA “Ultimate Sports Force”). Just as Shortstop Squad brought us late-90s shortstops fighting monsters and aliens, Cosmic Slam does the same with late 1990s sluggers. Jeff Bagwell, Sammy Sosa, David Justice and Mark McGwire all grace the cover, and Gary Sheffield, Bobby Bonilla and Frank Thomas all show up in the story as well.

It also involves Bagwell complaining about missing a fishing trip, Sosa making a corked bat joke, Greg Maddux‘s fastball being insulted, and of course, the making of a baseball bat out of the body of your defeated foes.

No, I’m not joking about the last one. Seriously, that really happens.

So, place your tongue firmly in cheek and go below the jump for Cosmic Slam.

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(Blogathon ’16) CLASSIC CONTINUUM- Bizarre Baseball Culture’s “SHORTSTOP SQUAD”

This piece from the blog’s archives is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

Originally published October 25, 2013

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

In the last years of the 20th century and the first years of the 21st, there existed a company called “Ultimate Sports Force”. It is gone now, existing only in old websites and undeleted news items, but in it’s day, it was a staple advertisement in things like Sports Illustrated for Kids.

What was “Ultimate Sports Force”, you ask?

Ultimate Sports Force was a comic company that made books in which professional athletes were superheroes, that’s what! They had licenses with MLB, NBA, NFL and others, and they made comics that involved them saving the world. And then, like a shooting star across the sky, they were gone.

But, oh, man, the stuff they left behind. I’ve come into possession of many of their great products, and while their quality varies from “surprisingly good” to “OH-DEAR-GOD-KILL-IT-WITH-FIRE”, they all represent a special point in our history, a time when we could think of our sports heroes as actual superheroes, and not individuals who got into arguments, used PEDs, had tumultuous love lives, politics we disagree with or other flaws. No, Ultimate Sports Force was the last Golden Age before we all became so jaded.

Perhaps the crown jewel of Ultimate Sports Force’s non-team-affiliated content was Shortstop Squad. Truly a marvel of the Bizarre Baseball Culture arts, it paid tribute to those that went before and followed in their traditions, as Cal Ripken led his team of Barry Larkin, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez against a fish-monster that basically is meant to be fish-Godzilla.

You may think I’m being sarcastic, and you are probably right, but, well, this is SHORTSTOP SQUAD, so your logic is irrelevant.

After all, just LOOK at this cover:

SHORTSTOPSQUADcover

Your mind is now blown.

So, let’s get started with Shortstop Squad #1 from 1999… after the jump, of course:

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The 50th BIZARRE BASEBALL CULTURE: DC’s greatest heroes and villains… PLAY BASEBALL? (BLOGATHON ’16)

This post is part of the 2016 Baseball Continuum Blogathon For Charity, benefiting the Roswell Park Alliance Foundation. The Roswell Park Alliance Foundation is the charitable arm of Roswell Park Cancer Institute and funds raised will be “put to immediate use to increase the pace from research trials into improved clinical care, to ensure state-of-the-art facilities, and to help improve the quality of life for patients and their families.” Please donate through the Blogathon’s GoFundMe page.

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

What more can be said about DC Super-Stars #10 that has not already been said? Larry Granillo has looked at it, so did internet-based comics fan extraordinaire Chris Sims, a comic book blog ran a whole series on it, SI Kids actually pulled up WPA for the game, and probably plenty of others have also done a look at it.

But… if there is something better suited for the 50th installment of Bizarre Baseball Culture, this site’s signature series, I don’t know what it is. So buckle up, because here we go with DC Super-Stars #10 from 1976… “The Great Super-Star Game!”

superstargamecoverGO BELOW THE JUMP FOR MORE:

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“Fantastic Four” Bizarre Baseball Cultures that are probably way better than the new movie

The new Fantastic Four movie recently came out. It was a total and utter disaster, with a Rotten Tomatoes score that can only be seen with a microscope and a box office performance so pitiful it couldn’t even win it’s week. It’s hardly surprising, really, as A) it was not made by Marvel itself, but rather FOX, which only has the rights to make these movies due to a deal it made way back in the early 1990s when Marvel was in the direst of financial straits, and B) it was trying to turn what is arguably the most optimistic and adventuresome of comic books into a dark and moody techno-thriller. I mean, seriously? SERIOUSLY?!?!?

With luck, this failure will lead to the Fantastic Four and their stable of villains (most notably DOCTOR DOOM) back to the Marvel line, so we can see a real and proper movie featuring the FF, with Doctor Doom done right, and maybe with a Hulk-Thing fight thrown in, too, because after how badly this and the previous movies have hurt the reputation of “Marvel’s First Family”, they’re going to have to go all out to win back the crowd.

But, anyway, enough rambling. Here are the Bizarre Baseball Cultures that featured the Fantastic Four. All of them, no doubt, are better than the current film:

2007’s AAA Baseball Heroes

This Marvel/AAA Baseball crossover is great in that it shows off how the Fantastic Four are basically an ordinary family who happen to go exploring alternate dimensions and fight space-gods in their spare time. I mean, look, they all are at a ballgame together!

 

2007GiveawayComicPage1From what I understand, the latest movie has none of this stuff. And it flopped big time. Coincidence? I think not.

It also has a Hulk-Thing fight and this, the greatest image in the history of art:

Screen Shot 2013-06-18 at 5.53.33 PM2008’s AAA Baseball Heroes

This installment of the Marvel/AAA Baseball didn’t have as much Fantastic Four fun, really only featuring Reed Richards and the Mole-Man (who served as the villain). However, unlike the new movie, it showed the Fantastic Four as part of a large and vibrant universe and as close allies and friends with characters like Iron Man and Spider-Man. Which, if you ask me, instantly makes it better than whatever piece of crap 20th Century Fox just put out.

We also see the Mole Man cry tears of joy, which still makes me laugh for some reason:

And the Mole Man wept...

Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius Super Summer Spectacular

A good, innocent, all-ages comedy comic about Franklin Richards, the eldest son of Reed and Sue Richards, as he tries to cheat in little league by using a Flubber-like explosive substance on his bat to hit some home runs.

It also has this image:

Screen Shot 2013-11-30 at 10.37.50 PMAh, such light-hearted whimsy. If only the new Fantastic Four movie had some of that, maybe it wouldn’t have been called something that “not only scrapes the bottom of the barrel; it knocks out the floor and sucks audiences into a black hole of soul-crushing, coma-inducing dullness.”

That’s something that somebody actually wrote. Go look on Rotten Tomatoes.

Cameos

The FF has also made brief appearances in my run-down of Marvel Universe appearances by Yankee Stadium, and in the Bullseye miniseries. I won’t go in depth on those, as we are forgetting about the unofficial fifth member of the Fantastic Four, their arch-nemesis, the greatest villain in Marvel comics….

DOCTOR DOOM….. who once tried to kidnap Jeff Conine

Okay, this is what Doctor Doom apparently looks like in the new movie:

What. The. Hell. That isn’t Doctor Doom. That’s, like, I dunno, what would happen if evil C3PO had a baby with a Gothic Crash-Test Dummy. Jeez, is it THAT EFFING HARD, FOX?!?! THIS IS WHAT DOOM LOOKS LIKE, IN BATTLE WITH TWO OF HIS GREATEST FOES:

BILLY THE MARLIN and SPIDER-MAN!

MarlinsSpideyCoverI mean, jeez, that’s one of the most iconic things in comic books. It was the partial inspiration for Darth freaking Vader. But, NOOOOOOOO, you have to go make Doom like like a human vacuum cleaner that just got put in the oven for too long.

…Seriously, FOX, give back the rights to Marvel. They’re Disney. They have the money. They have the X-Men television rights you want. For the good of all that is holy. PLEASE!

(ahem)

Anyway, Doctor Doom made one of the most notable appearances in Bizarre Baseball Culture when he went and tried to kidnap Jeff Conine to force him to play for the Latverian national baseball team, only to be foiled by Billy the Marlin and Spider-Man. Truly, words cannot describe the greatness of this story. If Marvel ever gets the rights to Doctor Doom back, the very first thing they should do is make a deal with a Marlins and put into production a adaptation of this, albeit with Giancarlo Stanton taking the Jeff Conine spot.

I mean, look at this brilliance:

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 11.05.15 PMI mean, behold this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-28 at 1.44.38 PMSeriously, this is probably better than that new movie, and the Fantastic Four aren’t even in it!

…So, anyway, that concludes a look back at Fantastic Four appearances in Bizarre Baseball Culture. Keep an eye open in the next few days for the next installment, featuring Popeye the Sailor Man, a known user of performance-enhancing substances (i.e. spinach).

 

Bizarre Baseball Culture: Cal Ripken orders the 2001 Yankees to Save The World

In Bizarre Baseball Culture, I take a look at some of the more unusual places where baseball has reared it’s head in pop culture and fiction.

Wolverine of the X-Men has a habit of appearing in comics he technically isn’t supposed to be in, simply because he’s popular. Well, Cal Ripken is the Wolverine of Baseball Comic Books.  He’s joined forces with Batman, led the Shortstop Squad, and been the subject of a bio-comic. Also, like Wolverine, Cal Ripken seemed to be able to recover from any injury, no matter how severe. But, it’s the first similarity that I’m focusing on, because, in the comic I will be looking at today, Cal Ripken appears in a story about the 2001 New York Yankees being Superheroes.

Let that sink in. The New York Yankees, in a comic that they themselves ordered and gave away, still had Cal Ripken in their comic and had him on the cover too.

YanksCalCover

Entitled “Championship Challenge” and given out September 28, 2001, it stars, as you can see, four of the greatest stars the Yankees had that season. Mariano Rivera! Tino Martinez! Jorge Posada! And, of course, the Once and Future Captain, Derek Jeter himself. But, of course, we also see Cal RIpken on the cover, letting everybody know that the Iron Man will be there! With such Ultimate Sports Force stalwarts as Rick Licht writing and Brian Kong doing the art, this was partially made as part of the Ripken farewell celebration, and it becomes even more obvious when you realize that originally Ripken’s final series would have been at Yankee Stadium if not for the schedule reshuffling that MLB did after the 9/11 attacks.

Anyway, go below the jump to read about the story:

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Bizarre Baseball Culture: Mariners Mojo, in which a baseball team fights a Sasquatch Invasion

Robinson Cano is now a Mariner. I did NOT see that coming. And they paid a ridiculous 240 million dollars for him, which is absurd, especially given the long length of the deal and the fact Cano is already in his thirties.

However, that, along with the fact that the Mariners are apparently not going in hard to get David Price (amongst others), means there is perhaps no better time than now to be remembering how back in 2002 the Mariners saved humanity from a grand Sasquatch Invasion, which is easily one of the ten worst types of invasions to deal with. And they did it in TWO issues! Yeah, some teams would stop with just one issue, but the Mariners released TWO in 2002. That is true devotion to giving the fans what they…. want? And, what’s more, They were available outside of the stadium too, available at local McDonald’s! That way, you wouldn’t even have had to go to the park to get your hands on these comics!

Oh, and yes, it was done by Ultimate Sports Entertainment/Ultimate Sports Force, why do you ask?

Both comics were written by David B. Schwartz, who’s Twitter account calls him a “entertainment lawyer by day, comic book writer by night.” He’s recently been doing things for independent comic companies like Aspen, where he most recently wrote a title called Idolized, if my research is correct. Since he’s a lawyer, I’m going to be extra-careful not to say anything that might cause him to sue me. Thankfully, he does a pretty good job with these comics, given the circumstances that surround comics like this.

Doing the art for the first issue- and the covers of both issues- was Brian Kong. Kong has done a ton of stuff over the years, from comics to cards to recently illustrating a children’s book about how baseball teams got their names. In part two, the art was done by Dennis Calero, a prolific artist who co-created Cowboys and Aliens, which was later very-loosely adapted into a movie, as well as work with DC and Marvel. Like with Schwartz, they do okay given the circumstances.

Anyway….

Go below the jump and let’s get started on the stories themselves:

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