Friday, April 18, 2014

Batman vs. White Supremacists. That's a Good Friday!

From my last Hastings order, Batman: Dead White, written by John Shirley, with a cover by John Van Fleet. A slightly-past Year One Batman faces the ruthless cunning of White Eyes, who's planning a strike against Washington D.C. Meth, high-powered homemade weapons, corrupt cops, and way more racial slurs than I was expecting. Not from Batman, of course, but it's mildly surprising since you don't see that in the comics. (Do you? Not often, I'd say. Pre-52, anyway...)

It is, of course, immensely satisfying to see Batman beat the stuffing out of white power goons. And the conclusion, where Bats catches up with a low-level crackhead that escaped him a couple of times prior, is great. Well worth the $2.39 it ran me, and Hastings really should be giving me a kickback by now.

I'm in the middle of training at work, and a little fried, but have a good Easter!
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Thursday, April 17, 2014

That's a weird exchange in or out of context...

Even though IDW is killing it with some of their licensed comics, the one seemingly most likely for me to read, is the one that hasn't worked for me yet. Like today's book! From 2013, Star Trek #24, written by Mike Johnson, story consultant Roberto Orci, pencils by Claudia Balboni, inks by Marina Castelvetro.

The "Story so Far" recap under the credits seems to be referring to a different issue, since this one is midway through the Gorn story. And even though the old "Arena" Original Series Gorn is on the cover, the species has been redesigned a couple of times, on Enterprise and for the movie-based video game.

From a previous encounter with them, Kirk is still having nightmares about them; as the Enterprise arrives at Parthenon 559 and discovers the survivors of a Gorn massacre. Having missed the prior issue, I was slightly confused by Kirk mentioning the Gorn entering their galaxy "through the rip in space-time caused by the Helios Device." Kay...whether these Gorn are an advance scout for an invasion or mere stragglers, this time Kirk feels ready for them. So of course, he and his security team are captured inside of five minutes.

Captured, but not killed; since these Gorn aren't part of the invading army. Instead of seeking "nothing but blood, nothing but death," the nicer Gorn look for a different path. Of course, mess with them and they'll cut you up: Spock discovers evidence the human survivors actually started the massacre, and the Gorn were defending themselves.

Kirk places the planet under Federation quarantine: the leader of the miners is pissed, but pretty obviously a jerk. This issue isn't a complete rehash of "Arena" (perhaps the previous one was...) but it does share some points. I kinda wish IDW would forego these sorta kinda remakes of classic episodes and just do new stuff. In the same way I really wish Star Trek Into Darkness had steered clear of Khan. Or at least not coyly denied it until it happened.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Who are the mysterious boarders? Well, one of them is getting a better action figure later this year; but they're both somewhat interchangeable. To me, anyway.

I hopefully didn't entirely swipe the "open mike" bit from the Futurama episode "The Problem with Popplers." The alien Lrrr delivers an ultimatum to earth, then continues with the camera still on...
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Today in Fantastic Four bingo...

The FF goes broke!

Alternate reality versions of the team!


And Arkon the Imperion, for some reason. (D-Bolt? More like D-Bag...) From 1975, Fantastic Four #160, "In One World--and Out the Other!" Story and art by Arkon's creators, Roy Thomas and John Buscema, with inks by Chic Stone.

This is a bit of a muddle, but may have been intended as a mystery to be cleared up in later issues: Alicia is present for an Arkon/Thing fight, except the Thing doesn't seem like himself, and is actually back at the Baxter Building! Retelling the incident, Alicia realizes the Thing in the fight sounded more like Reed than Ben.

Ben contacts the Inhumans, so he can get Lockjaw to help him track across the dimensions, under the guise of "walkies." Lockjaw does drag the Thing through multiple dimensions, and if he's anything like my dog, probably pees every twenty feet. He also chases an interdimensional creature Ben refers to as a "jackrabbit," and I want to say Lockjaw did something similar in the 1994-95 FF cartoon. The creature seems familar, and may be the lasting impact of this issue.
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Monday, April 14, 2014

Ever see Prometheus? The sort-of but-not-really yet-totally-is Alien prequel? It's enjoyable in spots, aggravatingly stupid in others. It's also a couple years old, so no spoiler alert! There's a scene where two pilots, bridge crew guys, obligingly agree to go down with the ship and their captain; rather than making a break for the escape pods. In-movie, it doesn't make a lot of sense, save that they were loyal guys. Viewed from outside though, flying your ship into an alien ship bent on destroying earth and dying in a massive explosion, beats the hell out of trying to escape and getting eaten or worse by some alien monster. Sometimes, an escape route just looks like procrastinating your fate, not avoiding it. Like today's book! The Shadow #20, written by Chris Roberson, art by Giovanni Timpano.

In a Russian gulag, life is cruel and hard enough without seemingly random murders. An old prisoner, who notes the Bolsheviks that sent him to the gulag have since themselves arrived there, receives a mysterious and surprising visitor from his past: the man now mostly known as the Shadow.

Before he was the Shadow, he received his ring, the girasol, from the tsar; and was now on the trail of whoever sent a similar ring (and attached finger) as a message. The prisoner doesn't have the information the Shadow needs, and also recognizes that he was a scary individual even back when he knew him.

Still, the Shadow isn't about to leave a murderer be, and gets the clues he needed from him. Before he leaves, he offers to free the prisoner, and to get him wherever he wanted to go. Surprisingly, the prisoner declines. Death was going to find him, in the gulag, on a beach, wherever he might go. I kind of thought it might be nice to wait for death somewhere where my toes weren't going to freeze and fall off, but I'm not Russian. Or clinically depressed.

Geez, the one time the Shadow tries to do something nice for someone...In the prisoner's defense, though, it's pretty common for the Shadow to do you a solid, then expect like ten solids back. And for people around him to get violently murdered.

Anyway, like a lot of Dynamite Entertainment's books, this one has like three variant covers. Cover price was $3.99, which I don't see happening around here: I got it, and three other issues, ninety-nine cents each at Hastings. Four for the price of one! (Better than that, even: The Shadow Annual 2013 was $4.99.) I did get another book or two in that pile...that I'll have to look around for now.
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Friday, April 11, 2014

"Dragon Skinner" isn't a metaphor for anything. That I know of...

Even though this issue features a nice Mike Grell cover, the debut of new regular series artist Ron Randall, and the always-welcome return of Shakira; there's a few problems, too. From 1986, Warlord #104, "Dragon Skinner" Written by Mike Fleisher, art by Ron Randall.

1. This was four issues into the "Morgan's Quest" storyline: in the final battle against the invading new Atlantean army, as Travis faced the wizard-king Cykroth, his daughter Jennifer used her magic to shield her dad from the wizard's "death-bolts." Travis was able to kill Cykroth, but the wizard had been able to take revenge on Jennifer, turning her into a withered old crone. (That one hurt: that should've been a triumphant moment, instead completely undercut. But it does make a good excuse to get Travis on the road, rather than rebuilding Skartaran society or leading an army.)

Travis gets a consult with another wizard--and instead of going with the grey-bearded Gandalf type, they went with a different stereotype; a lisping, scheming, effete fat ponce; that was a little offensive back in 1985. But he gets the location of the mystical MacGuffin that could cure Jennifer, and takes off after it. #102 featured a quick stop at Travis's crashed SR-71 to pick up more ammo (he says it's his last box there, but always seems to have more!) and has an adventure with an Amazon queen. #103 features a mad scientist whose experiments turn his niece into a tiger, complete with spiky collar like Shakira. (If that had anything to do with her mysterious origins, she won't say!)

The quest is in theory a race against time, since Jennifer is so old she could croak at any moment. In actual fact, it would go on for over another year, until #116! Some of the quest issues are perfectly fun adventures, slightly undermined by the fact that Travis should be moving along a little faster. I want to say several issues end with Travis thinking "Hold on, Jennifer!"

2. Shakira takes offense to a band of dinosaur poachers, who kill a mother allosaurus so they can skin the babies, for use as scroll-sheathes or something. I dunno, less giant terrifying meat-eating monsters roaming around seems like a win to me; but maybe she's just against waste. After Travis chases them off by demonstrating his .44 Automag, the lead skinner gets the bright idea to ambush them later and steal the gun. As a bonus, the skinners catch Shakira, force her into her cat form, and cage her; before shooting Travis in the head.

Even though he wasn't wearing his traditional helmet at the time, Travis is still fine, the bullet having merely creased his skull. It occurs to me he could've saved himself a lot of trouble by just putting the safety on, the skinner would've never figured that out...

3. Three pages of this issue are subplot, and one that would run about as long as the quest: Travis's friends Machiste and Mariah are nearly killed in a coup attempt, and are working their way back to Machiste's throne of Kiro. They go about as roundabout as Travis does on his quest. Although, Machiste has the added impediment of traitors eager to kill him and cash in with the usurpers.

Oddly, the usurpers were white, and so is everyone else in this issue except Machiste: I don't think Kiro was ever depicted as the traditional "black kingdom." It does make him a little conspicuous, since he was a big black guy with a mace for a hand, trying to disguise himself as a monk this issue. (Yeah, I don't think it works!) Meanwhile, said usurpers pay off their assassin (who assumed Machiste and Mariah were dead, but didn't see the bodies since they got away, and subbed in a different corpse) with a bag full of coins and a complimentary free snake! I wasn't sure they gave him any coins, but the wiggling and hissing should've been a clue...

4. Since the poachers stole his gun and his sword, when Travis wakes up he decides he needs a weapon, and pulls the barbed spear out of the dead allosaurus. Just in time for the daddy allosaurus to show up! It stops to check on the kids (which allosauruses may or may not do, who knows) but then tracks Travis quite a ways. Which is easy, when you're carrying a spear covered with the blood of its mate. Travis does not seem to be on his A-game today. Catching up with the poacher, Travis smacks him around and takes back his gun when the allosaurus arrives again. By this point, he's ready to just shoot the thing, but the normally reliable Automag jams. The allosaurus eats the poacher and lets Travis and Shakira go, even though he thinks it's a big stupid lizard, Shakira thinks it understands.

Not the best issue, but not unreadable either. For good measure, the ever popular postal statement of ownership, management, and circulation. Number of copies sold closest to the filing date: 88,462.

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

OK, this week's comics:

I need to sit down and read the whole set, but while the last issue or two picked up, I kind of wonder if maybe this shouldn't have been a four-issue series instead of six. Still, the conclusion of Mad Rupert's Regular Show: Skips is a lot of fun: Skips gets out of his Groundhog Day predicament, but now has to face the menace of the monstrous Destruction Lord. Which is slightly less destructive than Mordecai and Rigby, even on it's best day.

In most crime comics or even movies, the mob planning to hit ten vaults in one night would be a dramatic conclusion; in Lobster Johnson: Get the Lobster #3 it's the midway point, and not the main focus! The cops are intensifying their manhunt for the vigilante Lobster Johnson, his friendly reporter Cindy is starting to get fed up with burying stories, other foes haven't forgotten about him; and Lobster isn't going to take a break or lay low. But he may be pressing his luck too far this time. This may be the best of the Mignola-verse books right now, and B.P.R.D. hasn't been bad lately either. (Story by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, art by Tonci Zonjic, colors by Dave Stewart.)

After the four issue Winged Victory story, Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson are back to stand-alones with Astro City #11, "The Sorcerer's Assistant." The young magician Silver Adept may be "the savior of more living souls than you can possibly imagine," but it's her assistant that has to answer the emails, schedule her appointments, reschedule her appointments, and occasionally save the day herself. Fun, well worth reading.

Lastly, Chris Claremont and Todd Nauck's Nightcrawler #1 is a good start to the series: back from the dead, Kurt's adjusting to the changes he missed--Wolverine has a school, lost his healing factor, and seems to be losing his grip; amongst others. After visiting his adopted sister/occasional girlfriend Amanda, they are attacked by an armored creep calling himself Trimega. The Bamfs are still following Kurt around too, which seems like it doesn't match up with the end of Amazing X-Men, but it's still neat: not reinventing the wheel, but I quite liked it.

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