Thursday, February 18, 2016

Peter & Frank Do Dallas

Exciting things happen in Dallas all the time which attracts visitors from far and wide.  Celebrities, politicians and dignitaries get the headlines when they visit but for my money nothing beats a pop-in from one of our favorites from the superhero community.  We've seen the State Fair patronized by the X-Men and Spider-Man teaming up with the Cowboys in the past.

Today we're going to take a look at another visit from Spider-Man but this time he brought his wacky pal Frank Castle, the Punisher!

Written by Gerry Conway with art from Sal Buscema, this 1988 story begins with Spidey slapping around some burglars on the Punisher's boat the "Golden Girl."  He's on the hunt for the missing, Bea Arthur loving, vigilante.

We soon see that the Punisher has made it to Texas and is cooling his heels at DFW Airport.  You can tell he's in Texas because there is a guy in the background wearing a cowboy hat:

It turns out that he is being controlled by a mutant (Code Name: "Raymond") who is working for the Spider-Man/Daredevil villain Kingpin.  They have come to the Lone Star State so that the Punisher can kill the infamous Lobo Brothers, who have just made the front page of the now defunct Dallas Times Herald:

Marvel had a long collaboration with the paper including the release of freebie original comics in Sunday additions like the aforementioned X-Men & Spidey comics.

Back in New York, Peter's detection skills were shown up by a local newscast revealing the location of the person he had spent weeks looking for:

So like a true hero, he forgoes the "snuggling" with his super model girlfriend to head south to check in on his man crush.  Remember the superhero code:  "Bros before hoes"

At this point in the Spiderverse, Peter had published a book of his photographs of Spider-Man and so his cover story for traveling was book promotion.  Sadly, upon his arrival, he discovers it's not a big seller in the south.

If it seems like there is a lot of exposition and scenes of traveling in this comic book, don't worry, we skipped over a scene where the Punisher kills a bunch of people at an oil refinery (that was a cover for drugs and money laundry for the Lobo Brothers).  So it's not just arrivals and departures.

Peter blows off his book signing to hunt down the Lobo Brothers hoping to find his lost pal.  Since DFW isn't Manhattan, his usual web slinging travel method wasn't an option and with the lack of a Spider-Mobile, he had to stowaway on a tanker truck:

The Lobos must be doing pretty well to have a mansion on Grapevine Lake.  I guess the drugs pretty much sell themselves.  Once Spidey gets over the walls it doesn't take long to realize all hell has broken loose as he comes upon this scene with the Punisher, "Raymond" (ok, ok, his actual code name is the Persuader), multiple dead bodies and the speedo wearing Lobo Brothers:

Long story short: shots were fired, webs were "thwipped" and speedos were soiled.  After nearly drowning Spider-Man, Frank was able to shake off the bad influence and take care of business.  While the Lobos got away, the Persuader got a center mass lead Valentine from the Punisher thus ending this Texas Team-Up.  After the final page of the story I assume Frank and Pete hit Dealey Plaza, picked up some cowboy hat souvenirs and headed home.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Naranjo Museum of Natural History

An impressive collection of artifacts from millions of years ago, far beneath the Earth's surface, and above the clouds are on display at the Naranjo Museum of Natural History in Lufkin, TX.  He take a look at it in the newest episode of East Texas Explorer:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Best Little Rest Stop in Texas

If you drive around Texas as much as we do you'll find that as the road calls you, so calls the biological necessities of nature.  That 32 ounce cup of coffee is a fickle traveling companion.  So we've had our fair share of pee breaks at gas stations, picnic areas and rest stops.  And if this rest stop isn't the best, it's definitely above even comes with its own promotional pamphlet:

Not too shabs.  It's located near the East Texas town of Jacksonville, TX and is called "Love's Lookout."   The land was formerly owned by a local family (named "Love") and became a rest stop in 2004.  Let's check it out:

After obtaining sweet relief you can check out the Blue Star Memorial marker as well as a common site in nearby Jacksonville:

Over 300 concrete tomatoes are scattered around town.  A lot of towns do something similar by creating a symbol that represents the area's history and heritage and decorating local businesses (like the Hippos of Hutto) with them.  This one is ripe for the picking.  A little further on in and you can see the stop's official Texas State Historical Marker:

The marker reads:

     "On this nine mile long ridge there are two historic lookout points which command a view of 30 to 35 miles. Between this site, with an elevation of 713 ft., and Point Lookout (1/4 mi. NW), lies a narrow valley. An Indian trail and later a pioneer road crossed this valley. The pass became known as McKee's Gap in 1846, after Thomas McKee led a group of Presbyterians here from Tennessee and began the town of Larissa (3.5 mi. nw). Named by McKee's son the Rev. T. N. McKee, the village flourished as the location of Larissa College from the 1850s until the 1870s. Point Lookout was a popular recreational area for citizens of Larissa until the railroad bypassed the town and it declined.     
     Around the turn of the century, John Wesley Love (1858-1925) bought this land and developed a 600-acre peach orchard. Known as Love's Lookout, the scenic point was used for outings by area residents. After Love's death, his family gave 22.22 acres, including the lookout site, to the state for a park. The City of Jacksonville bought 25 adjoining acres and developed both tracts as a WPA project. 
     J. L. Brown (1866-1944) and Jewel Newton Brown (1873-1966), former Larissa residents, gave the city 122 acres next to the park in 1940 in tribute to pioneers of Larissa. (1978)"

 Inside the visitor's center you can find the standard pamphlets and tourist info but also some headlines about the area, including some weddings that were performed here:

But the highlight of the center has to be the framed, autographed photo of legendary Texas actor Burton Gilliam (Blazing Saddles, Back to the Future III):

If all that isn't enough to schedule a pit stop then we'll leave you with the view from the lookout.  It may not be the Grand Canyon but it's a great break from the road: