marvel comics

Well, it’s definitely a fuller week for my pull list.   Here are my highlights:

 

dec120180Green Arrow # 17

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Jeff Lermire

Artist: Andrea Sorrentino

It’s new direction for everybody’s favorite emerald archer spearheaded by a new creative team, Jeff Lermire and Andrea Sorrentino.  I’ve been a fan of Lermire’s work since his run Superboy in the pre-New 52 universe.  I’m a big Green Arrow fan and really haven’t cared for the direction of the character since Judd Winick’s run so I’m looking forward to what Lermire can do.  I’m guessing we’ll start seeing the comic move more in line with WB’s “Arrow”.

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dec120297Swamp Thing #17

Publisher: DC Comics

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Yanick Paquette

It’s been awhile coming, but I’m guessing it will be worth the wait.  Scott Snyder is bringing the Rotworld storyline to a close and odds are no one will make it out unscathed.   Scott Snyder is currently one of the best in the business and this series is well worth your time.

 

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dec120982Red Team #1

Publisher: Dynamite

Writer: Garth Ennis

Artist: Craig Cermak

It’s no secret that Garth Ennis is one of my all time favorite writer, so I give basically anything he writes a shot.  Red Team follows the NYPD’s elite anti-Narcotics unit, they’ve been highly successful but a new case threatens to push them to their limits and likely beyond .  Given Ennis’ penchant for well-written ultra-violence eccentric characters, this title has a pretty good shot at snagging a permanent spot on my already crowded pull list.

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thumbnailDaredevil: End of Days #5 (of 8)

Publisher: Marvel

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist:  Klaus Janson

Daredevil was the book that catapulted Brian Michael Bendis into the spotlight at Marvel and his epic run  elevated Daredevil back to Frank Miller levels both in terms of character work and popularity.  If you are a fan of either Bendis (and his more existential, gritty work) or of Daredevil, then this book is one you need to check out.

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dec120622New Avengers #3

Publisher: Marvel

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Steve Epting

I’ve been a fan of Hickman’s work so far on the main Avenger’s book, but for money, New Avengers has been the stronger and more focused read.  This issue sees the Illuminati venture out to bring together the Infinity Gems.  The character work and dynamics so far have been superb and no one writes the Black Panther better than Hickman.

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nov120715Secret Avengers #37

Publisher: Marvel

Writer: Rick Remender

Artist: Matteo Scalera

Rick Remender’s last issue and the conclusion of “The Rise of the Descendants”.  ’Nuff said.

 

 

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dec121268Shadowman #4

Publisher: Valiant

Writer: Justin Jordan

Artist: Patrick Zircher

Shadowman is probably my favorite series in the current Valiant line.  In the last issue, Jack has finally, if tragically, accepted the mantle of Shadowman and now all bets are off.  This issue promises a showdown between Shadowman and Twist.  This is a great series and definitely merits some attention.

 

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There you go.  My picks for the books you should check out this week.

Did I miss something?  Do you disagree with one of the picks? Do you agree with the picks?

Sound off below!

I’m gonna be honest with you, folks.  I’m not really sure how I feel about Superior Spiderman and you know, I don’t think Dan Slott is either.  I mean, in and of itself, it’s an intriguing idea.  Peter Parker’s biggest and most brilliant villain, in a final assault, hijacks Spiderman’s body and his life.  In a last ditch effort to snatch some form of victory from the apparent defeat, Peter Parker forces Doc Ock to experience all the tragedies and milestones that shaped Parker’s life thereby giving Doc Ock some insight into the overarching concept of “with great power, comes great responsibility” and leading Doc Ock (in an assuredly misguided, misanthropic fashion) to become a superior hero and, indeed, a Superior Spiderman.

There’s a lot of potential there.  But, there are more than a couple of problems and that’s what I’m going to talk about right now.  Are you ready?  Of course you are or you wouldn’t be reading this.  Am I right?

Ok, problem-as-I-see-it number one: we weren’t given time to mourn the death of Peter Parker.

Peter Parker died in Doc Ock’s body at the conclusion of issue 700.  It was realistically understood by most comics fans that Peter Parker would eventually be back from the dead (See Batman, Captain America, Jean Grey like 17 separate times…).  However, given the cultural significance, and general love for Peter Parker, we as fans deserved some time to come to terms with Parker being “dead”.  In fact, I would argue the story needed some time and space with Peter Parker 100% out of the picture.  Instead, Dan Slott brings Peter Parker back in ghost form at the END of Superior Spiderman NUMBER ONE.  No lag time, no teasing.  Just BOOM! Ghost Pete proclaiming his intent to return.

This leads directly to problem number two.  Spiderman and the character of Peter Parker is known for his wit, quick banter and general humor.  It’s Pete’s thing and reader’s expect it.  The obvious downside is that Otto Octavius is not so good with the funny.  The immediate reintroduction of Peter, and his incessant, though often humorous, monologueing  in this issue leads me to wonder if this is going to be Slott’s way to bring that Peter Parker comic relief we all expect?  Clearly, I don’t know.  But, the question is there and I’m not sure that’s good for the book.

These problems aside, it’s a competently written comic.  Dan Slott is a solid writer, so there are some good moments (Spidey-Ock saying out loud that “Everything is proceeding according to plan!” or his robot henchman).  Moreover, the one benefit to the introduction of Pete’s ghost is Slott’s use of ghost-Pete as a mouthpiece for the reader.  Slott is hanging a lampshade on all the various inconsistencies and problems that fans have been clamoring about (for instance the fact that no one seems to notice that Spidey-Ock is NOTHING like Peter).

I guess, on the whole, it’s a solid issue with a caveat here and there.  I’d say it’s worth a look, but Slott has taken out some of the potential impact and suspense by making Peter’s inevitable return so immediately evident.  Like I said, I’m not quite certain how I feel about Superior Spiderman, but I do plan to keep reading…

I-Don’t-Know-How-To-Score-This/10

(P.S.  Intrepid Spidey Fans, can someone please tell me if they recall a SINGLE time that Spiderman or Peter Parker EVER said the words “It’s Crazy-Town Banana-Pants!”  We here at Shortbox Podcast have a collection of Stan Lee No-Prizes in a closet at Adam Russell’s place that we’d be willing to part with if someone can answer that)

Sound off below!

Well, guys, it’s looking like an oddly light week for my pull list.  Here are the top three books I’m looking forward to…

 

Hawkeye #7

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: Matt Fraction

Artist: David Aja

It’s a great series and Matt Fraction is donating his royalties to Hurricane Sandy Victims.  ’Nuff Said.

 

 

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Avengers #4

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Adam Kubert

Hickman is a big ideas guy and its clear he’s got a lot of ambition for the flagship Avengers title.  This issue promises the secret origin of Hyperion.  It’s almost a guarantee that Hickman will find some way to work the various multiverse versions of Hyperion in and odds are this will have a huge impact on the series in later issues.

 

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Superior Spiderman #2

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer: Dan Slott

Artist: Ryan Stegman

*SPOILER ALERT*

I’m curious to see where Slott is going with this series.  I’m definitely concerned that he’s overplayed his hand with the introduction of Ghost Pete at the end of #1.  We all knew Peter Parker would be coming back, I just figured Slott would let all of us Spidey-fans squirm for awhile.  But, Dan Slott has done an outstanding job with Spiderman since Big Time so he gets some leeway here (not to mention that Spidey-Ock has potential for some good stories).  I should also mention that I’ve had a fairly serious geek crush on Steve Wacker since his work at DC and I definitely rank him as one of the best editors in the business (just look at the stable of books he’s worked on…)

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Alright, those are the issues that I think are worth your time and cash.

If you’ve got a book this week you think deserves some attention, let us know.

Sound off below!

Authors: Phil Hester, David Hine, Ian Edginton and Matz.

Artists: Frazer Irving, Chris Burnham, Lee Moder and Hugo Petrus.

“Days Missing” is a graphic novel that was published in 2010. After reading it I am excited to say that I will be trying to find the rest of the series. This book is written by several different authors and illustrated by several different illustrators. It was published by Archaia and Rodenberry, yep Eugene Rodenberry. What caught my eye at first was the book had a foreword written by Warren Ellis, and anything Ellis writes, I read.

“Day Missing” is the story about The Steward. This character can bend and warp time to help humanity in case of a global or catastrophic disaster. The Steward has been around since the dawn of time. He has taken the load of leading humanity through ups and downs of survival. The Steward can fold time and erase catastrophic events with the hope of fixing the event so humanity does not go extinct.

The Steward spends his time lying in wait in a giant library of human events, existing outside of time. He quietly guides humanity through various events, some of which could have led to the destruction of humanity. He can only time travel for 24 hours at a time, so he must take careful precautions each time he comes to an event as he only has a limited time.

Events such as the Swanzi Flu and just how deadly it would have been had they not found a vaccine. The Steward was there and helped the doctors find a vaccine for the disease. The Steward then wrestles with the monster Frankenstein and the repercussions if man did find a way to bring the living dead back to life. The third chapter has The Steward stopping the discovery of space and time travel as a precaution to the end of time and space completely. Not every choice is as clear cut though as he has to try and stop Hernando Cortez in the fourth chapter from dying at the hands of the Aztecs. This in turn though leads to the destruction of the Aztec Empire. The final chapter is about the creation of intelligent life through nanotechnology and it takes every bit of effort from The Steward to fix this day.

This book was surprisingly good. I had no expectations going into reading it and came out hooked. The end of the story has a great cliff hanger and I cannot wait to find more of The Steward’s adventures. Go check it out, it well worth it.

Avengers #3 is a curious book.  It’s solid read to be sure, but despite the overall strong writing and plotting it has a flaw or two that could go either way.  That is to say, these flaws could either prove to be early cracks in an otherwise stellar book or simply the unavoidable result of reading a long-form narrative in a serialized format.  At the moment, and given what I know of Jonathan Hickman, I lean pretty heavily toward the latter.

Let’s get the problems out of the way first.  First of all, an issue that is meant to be the concluding issue of the initial arc really reads as more a transition to the larger story.  On some levels this is to be expected, particularly with a writer like Hickman who’s known for meticulous plotting and an eye for the long game.  On an issue to issue basis however, it can give off an anti-climactic feeling that this issue just barely skirt.

Secondly, and potentially more problematic, there has been very little, if any characterization of the larger cast. On one hand, this is unfortunate because Hickman has shown an incredibly deft and economical hand in his characterization of the major players (i.e. Captain American, Iron Man, Wolverine and Spiderman, Thor in particular).  On the other hand, there has been zero characterization for characters like Hyperion, Shang-Chi, and Smasher.  Now again, it’s entirely plausible, even probable, that Hickman will rectify this in later issues.  For this particular entry though, it does add to the anticlimactic vibe this issue flirts with because we have no reason to care about most of the players.

So, those maybe-not-so-minor blemishes aside, how does this issue stack up? As well as you’d expect if you’ve been reading series.

We pick up right where #2 left off.  Cap and the newly expanded Avengers are heading to Mars to take down Ex Nihilo and Aleph.  Oddly, it’s never exactly explained how Cap, Shang-Chi, Falcon and all the other non-god, non-Iron Suit wearing Avengers are breathing.  I guess we should assume Ex Nihilo has terraformed?  Anyway…the expected battle ensues with great moments all around (I particularly enjoyed Shang-Chi kung fu-ing Aleph’s leg off).  Perhaps most interesting is the introduction of the current Captain Universe and a little taste of the scale of power we could be dealing with here.  Hickman always works on an epic scale, but if terraforming Mars, flexing the muscles of a cosmic entity, and creating a new form of life is where he’s starting?  Well, you can’t help but be intrigued about where the man intends to end up…

Hickman is bringing a truly grand feel and a majesty to the Avengers mythos.  Three issues in, and this already feels like the kind of epic run we’re going to be debating and talking about for a long time to come.  This feels like a benchmark.  In fact, for the first time that I can recall, Marvel, to paraphrase Cap, is starting to feel like an Avengers world and that’s a good thing.

“It was the Spark that started the Fire — A Legend that grew in the telling.”  Indeed.

8/10

 

Keith’s List O’ Awesome!

Well, here we are.  Another week means another Wednesday and another Wednesday means a new batch comics for us intrepid readers.  So, without any further ado…here’s a short list of the books I think merit your cash this week:

Cobra Vol. 2 #21 

IDW Publishing

Writer: Mike Costa

Artist: Antonio Fuso

Oktober Ends!  The final confrontation between the Joes and the Oktober Guard hits its sure to be brutal conclusion as COBRA bears down on both teams.  This issue is sure to have far reaching consequences for the Joe’s black ops unit.  _________________________________________________________

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Secret History of the Foot Clan #2(of 4)

IDW Publishing

Writer: Erik Burnham

Artist: Mateus Santolouco

Issue #2 of this promising look into the history of the Foot Clan in IDW’s revamp of the TMNT franchise.  Readers of the main TMNT book will know that IDW, Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz have added some pretty intriguing wrinkles to the TMNT origin and this series, by longtime Ghostbusters scribe Erik Burnham, leads us further into history of the Foot Clan and the ultimate corruption of Oruku Saki.  A must read for TMNT fans.

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Harbinger # 8 

Valiant Entertainment

Writer: Joshua D.M. Dysart

Valiant keeps moving us towards the Harbinger Wars and pulling together Peter Stanchek’s Renegades.  This series has been powerful so far and Dysart definitely isn’t afraid to pull punches.  This week the recruitment drive kicks it up a notch with the introduction of Torque.

 

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Young Avengers #1

Marvel Comics 

Writer: Keiron Gillen

Artist: Jamie McKelvie

Thank Odin, Keiron Gillen will still be giving the world a healthy dose of everyone’s favorite mischievous ne’er-do-well, Kid Loki.  For those of you who missed out on Gillen’s excruciatingly awesome run on Journey Into Mystery, this is your chance to jump in and right that particular wrong.  Pulling together characters from the previous Young Avengers, as well as a new face or two from Vengeance, this is a book that should merit a spot on everbody’s pull list.  After all, as the solicitation put it, “It’s the book that knows Hyperbole is the BEST! THING! EVER!”

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Avengers #3 

Marvel Comics 

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Jerome Opena

Occasionally, you pick up a book and you just know from the opening pages that you’re reading something special.  That’s  the case with Hickman’s opening salvo on the Avengers.  Hickman has brought a majestic, mythological feel that this book has been sorely lacking in recent years.  Do yourself a favor and grab this comic.  It’s grand, high concept storytelling as only a select few can provide.  We may not always know where Jonathan Hickman is taking us, but it’s always a hell of a ride.

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Winter Soldier #3

Marvel Comics

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Butch Guice

Ed Brubaker officially ends his incredible tenure at Marvel Comics and his absolutely brilliant redefinition of the Captain America mythos, and perhaps most importantly of Bucky Barnes.   Brubaker was one of the most consistent and talented writers in Marvel’s stable over the last decade and it’s a sad day to see him move on.  On the upside, it’s a guarantee that he’ll finish strong.

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Uncanny Avengers #3

Marvel Comics

Writer: Rick Remender

Artist: John Cassaday

It’s a Rick Remender book drawn by John Cassaday.  ’Nuff said.

 

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So, there you go.  If you think we missed anything or if you just agree with the picks or something cool happened today…sound off below.

I’ll come clean up front…I’ve never been a fan of the Hulk. There I said it.

Maybe I should clarify and say that I’ve never been a fan of the Hulk in practice.  That is to say, I’ve never been able to maintain interest in an ongoing Hulk series.  I mean, I’ve tried.  Seriously, I have.  I like the concept of the Hulk, I like the Hulk in movies and cartoons (I still guffaw when I think of the infamous “Puny God.” Scene in Avengers).  But, the comics – well, they’ve just never done it for me.

And then Marvel NOW!

You ask me what about Marvel NOW! brought my attention to the big green guy?  Well, five words actually.  Five words in one of Marvel’s teasers caught my eye – Mark Waid and Leinil Yu.  The way I figured, if Mark Waid – he of Daredevil fame and the man I would argue wrote one of the most perfectly crafted 12 issue arcs in all of comics with his reboot of the Legion of Superheroes – if that guy couldn’t put a spin on the Hulk that got my attention?  Well, odds were that it was never going to happen.  And Leinil Yu was simply icing on the cake.

And you know what, Mr. Waid pulled it off.  I’m hooked and thus, here we are at Indestructible Hulk #3.

So, a quick recap for those of you who haven’t read the series to this point.  Bruce Banner has finally come to terms with the distinct possibility that he cannot, at present time at least, rid himself of the Hulk.  Moreover, he’s wasted his Tony Stark-Reed Richards-T’Challa level intellect for YEARS trying to do just that.  So to make a long story short, Banner approaches SHIELD and says “Listen, guys, you give me a lab and some world class geeks and I’ll have you rolling in cool, world changing stuff.  And as an added bonus, when I Hulk out you just point me at the bad guys like a great big green WMD, then come in and get me once the clean-up starts.  It’s a win-win.”  SHIELD eventually says “A-Ok” with a few caveats and our series is off.

Issue #3 picks up with Mariah Hill finishing up the interviews for Banner’s geek squad, which seems to be a pretty eclectic bunch to say the least.  Meanwhile, SHIELD agents elsewhere are setting the Hulk loose on AIM compound through a pretty clever bait and switch.  The proceeding pages are filled with panel to panel wanton destruction as the Hulk clears the AIM facility.  The opening represents a great setup for things to come as each of prospective character for Banner’s lab team is given just enough space and eccentricity to intrigue the reader.  Be it the mad scientistish type, the ones who want to learn from Banner, or the one who seems to have a potential Hulk fetish – it should be an interesting mix.

But, thanks in no small part to the art of Leinil Yu and the coloring Sunny Cho, it’s the Hulk pages that really shine.  I’m going out on a limb and saying right now that no one has ever the drawn the Hulk better than Leinil Yu is right now.  Yu’s Hulk is dynamic and appears astonishingly powerful.  Moreover, this Hulk looks positively menacing, his face often a growl draped in shadow with sinew, vein, and muscle seemingly ready to burst.   I feel like one thing that artists and writers often overlook is the devastating speed the Hulk is capable of.  Yu plays with perspective and blurs and muddles his usually tight lines to give a sense of acceleration and burst in the Hulks movements.  And, of course, Yu’s pencils are perfectly accentuated by the palette Sunny Cho has put together for the series.  This is the most powerful creature on Earth and the physics behind his movement should be terrifying and awesome to behold.  Yu makes that so.  Hulk is a force of nature – here we believe that.

Hulk Smash…

So far, for me, the books only downside is Banner himself who was engaging in his appearance in the first issue but ever since seems fairly unlikable.  Perhaps he doesn’t need to be.  We’ll see.

On a final note, this issue had the funniest final page of the week in my opinion with the introduction of “R.O.B” SHIELD’s “Recording Observation Bot”.  Banner wasn’t particularly pleased with good ol’ R.O.B. and apparently neither is the Hulk.  The last two panels literally made me laugh out loud.

Sound off below…

9/10

…And So Enters the Amazing Spider-Man

Stan Lee – Editor

Gerry Conway – Writer

Gene Colan – Artist

Cover Price $0.15  (Purchase Price $4.00)

This comic is a perfect example of a Marvel Comic.  This issue hits every Marvel note of the period.  We’ll start with the cover and it’s great use of the Daredevil red to give the cover just enough pop against the mostly light blue background.  The cover artwork is an entire Marvel story itself.  Three heroes; two locked in battle and one in need of help.  A pair of mighty Marvel alliterations and a glorious bottom banner listing the guest stars completes the cover.  Color, action, and bombast all crammed into one panel that made me frantic to find out what is going on.  Sal Buscema hit a home run with this cover.

Once inside the comic I am treated to Gene Colan at his best.  Gene delivers the great NY skylines with our heroes swooping and tumbling through the gaps and over the rooftops.  Heroes are given a few pages to stretch out and whine to themselves.  Against the artwork Gerry Conway channels his best Stan Lee to layer in dialog that could’ve come straight out of a Romance comic.  All three heroes (Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Sub-Mariner) are coping with some sort of romantic loss and heaps of self-doubt.  It’s this juxtaposition of sappy dialog and sweeping visuals that defined Marvel comics.  Inside the inner dialogs we, the reader, get glimpses into our heroes’ mind and heart that no one else ever does.  That’s the hook.  Everyone knows Superman, only I really know Spider-Man and Daredevil.  Marvel manages to make the reader feel connected to the stories instead of being only an observer.

 

Once our heroes meet up they of course fight each other.  An outside force has arrived and confused the heroes and public.  During the hero battles each character is also fighting themselves on the inside.  For these stories to work you can’t break the panels too often and so Marvel used the top half of pages 12-13 to keep the story going unbroken and allow for some advertising space.  I found this less distracting then I thought it might be.  It seemed to me that more time and attention was spent on pacing and page breaks in the page layouts here than I see in many of today’s comics and the series of splash pages that mascaraed as storytelling.

Of course there are some groaners in this book too.  It is over 40 years old so not everything holds up.  The mystery that brings the heroes together is a golden tear dropped energy portal.  It hovers and scares people until it opens and a mystery woman appears from inside.  Then Spidey and Daredevil both climb inside and disappear.  The story felt proto-Beyonder and the hovering “teardrop” looks too much like a floating vagina for my taste.  This of course led to all the wrong associations with the plot points and visuals on the page.  The issue finally ends on a sad and lonely note, the unanswered/missed phone call followed by Next: Beware the Bull!  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  One other nit pick, when did Mary Jane Watson ever have blonde hair?

In the end for $4.00, the cost of a current comic, I was treated to a slice of Marvel history.  This issue also contained Bullpen Bulletins and a Stan Lee Soapbox that discussed word balloon use on comic covers, interesting stuff considering the cover of this book.  The letter page started with a very detailed critique that named names and made recommendations for changes by a J.A. Salicrup, is this a young Jim Salicrup?  Jim started as an intern and then worked his way up editor at Marvel in the 80’s and 90’s.   I’ve spent more money and gotten less enjoyment from more comics than I care to list but this bronze aged gem delivered extra innings for the same price.

My Stan Lee moment came at a Wizard World Chicago in 2000 or 2001. I heard he was going to be there and dug around in my moms attic and came up with a 70s classic Romita Spider-Man poster I had picked up somewhere in the early 80s. I took it along with me and when I got in line for the signing, I was about 25 people past the “This is the End of the Line” sign.

I decided to stick it out and wait. They were flying people through so fast I think 50 people after me must have made it too. I shook his hand, thanked him for my childhood and had him sign it “Excelsior!”

My favorite Stan Lee story is when he accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2011 Harvey Award Banquet in Baltimore.

2011 comic books marvel

He totally fooled the crowd by walking up to the stage looking like a feeble old man guided by his lady nursemaid. Once he reached the stage though, he transformed into a younger man by standing up straight and tall, then strutting across the stage with that girl on his arm like she was his date. He launched into a hilarious acceptance speech where he poked fun at a few other award recipients and had everyone in the room laughing. After all these years, he’s still got it!

Here’s a video from that night (sorry for the quality).