Monday, September 24, 2018

Quasar just lost his earth privileges, but no, let's make it all about you, USAgent...

I didn't buy this in 2001, but I suppose it would've just made me mad then: Maximum Security #3, "Whatever the Cost!" Written by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Jerry Ordway, inks by Will Blyberg, Paul Ryan, and Mark McKenna.

This wasn't as big a crossover as some: after the Dangerous Planet one-shot, it was three issues and sixteen tie-ins. Offhand, I only recall one of the X-Men ones, featuring the return of Cerise from Alan Davis's Excalibur; except it was set in the middle of that stretch where Nightcrawler was going to be a priest and blech. Ooh, wait: the Marvel Knights tie-in was the Punisher vs. an alien, that was a bit of all right. Anyway, the gist was, the various races of the universe decide maybe earth is too dangerous to just leave alone, and they opt to turn the planet into a prison, dumping all sorts of past alien bad guys on earth!

The whole thing is revealed to be a plot by the believed-dead Supreme Intelligence, involving trapping Ego the Living Planet on earth and draining his power to give to Ronan the Accuser. Actually, at least part of that plan seems to work, with the Kree seemingly moving against several worlds to return to power; but that plot is left open as the Avengers in space are recalled home by the current team leader...USAgent?

It's the riot-cop costume, not my favorite. He mentions federal authority there, but that only seems to apply like every other time for the team...USAgent was actually the viewpoint character for most of this series, having found some of the first alien prisoners; and Busiek walks a line between making him sympathetic (it's his case, after all) and as much of a dick as usual. He defends Quasar until he's able to absorb the essence of Ego and de-power Ronan; but instead of shaking Cap's hand in the end, he throws a little hissy fit about the silent majority that pisses any goodwill away.

Quasar had to leave earth to keep Ego in check, and I'm not sure if that was ever explained before he was killed off in Annihilation. Professor X also returned here, he had only been in space with the mutant Skrulls since Uncanny #379, not even a year.

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Friday, September 21, 2018

Maybe I should have a tag for books I buy out of the quarter bin, even though I know damn well I have them lying around somewhere. Like today's book! From 1993, Captain America #419, "Television Blind" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Rik Levins, inks by Danny Bulanadi.

The Red Skull had been willing to give Viper a chance--"a person, I thought, whose evil was within striking distance of my own!" But has come to realize their partnership might not have the same goals: the Skull wants to create a new world order, Viper just wants everything to burn. Forced to stop her schemes from wrecking his, the Skull hires Silver Sable to bring her in. While Sable didn't know who hired her, Captain America does, and has his eyes on the bigger picture.

With former sidekick Battlestar, Sable agrees to a compromise with Cap: dropping Viper off on a butte in the southwest, as agreed by her unseen employer; but bugging Viper's uniform. The Red Skull doesn't go in person, of course, and why should he, since he's got some goon in the old Iron Monger armor for that! Teleconferencing in, the Skull is mildly annoyed that Viper has wasted ten million dollars of his, but she claims to have something really big going. What it is, she won't say, until the Iron Monger breaks her leg! Even then, she won't give up all the details; but she is then rescued by her crew, the Fangs! One of whom, the mutant Slither, I think Viper had been keeping as a pet since #344 or so, and that's an issue we really still need to get to! Another appears to be another new goon in an old armor: Razorblade looks a lot like the old Porcupine suit...

The Fangs take out faux-Iron Monger, and Silver Sable asks Cap if they want to check if IM is still alive, or maybe go on with saving the country. I think she's mocking him a bit. With Battlestar, they make fairly short work of the Fangs at their base, with Cap taking out their transmitter tower with one of their own bazookas. Viper has a somewhat sad moment when she thinks she's finally won, before her power goes out.

Gruenwald had a ten-year run on Captain America, and this was around year eight. It's not bad, but it's not his peak work, either. Levins wasn't my favorite of the pencilers during that run, but he may have done a solid batch of issues. (Man, I miss Kieron Dwyer…)

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

I almost considered giving DC's Convergence a tag, then I got pissed off at it again, it'll stay under the tag "crossover debris." Was there a point to that whole thing, besides buying time for DC's move to California? I know they maybe tried a spinoff or two, but Telos only ran six issues, less than the crossover itself! And there were no consequences to anything--even less so than usual for comics. I bitched and bitched about Travis Morgan dying in Convergence #5, and the Warlord returned in Trinity #18 this year! (Wait, I'm not complaining about him coming back.) And all the fights between Elseworlds or old continuity versions of characters, seemed utterly pointless. Even if, say, the Gotham by Gaslight or Red Rain Batmen lost, do you seriously think we're never going to see them again? Or a book like today's, with two continuities I'd like to see return, that haven't been seen since! From 2015, Convergence: Blue Beetle #2, "Legion of Doom!" Written by Scott Lobdell, art by Yishan Li.

(By the way, I rarely like variant covers, but I absolutely hate the "design variants" for this event. They not only seem really pretentious, but also meant like 80 covers to order and sort through!)

This was the pre-Crisis, classic Charlton versions of Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and the Question; defending their Hub City...against the post-Zero Hour Legion of Super-Heroes. That's a tough draw, not just because they're seriously outnumbered, but only Atom actually had any powers. Still, they have one advantage: even fighting to defend their future Metropolis, the Legion wasn't by nature killers. While the Question and Atom scuffle with the team, Beetle--having already hacked the Legions' rings for info--works out a plan: Sensor, Saturn Girl, and Kid Quantum create the illusion that Hub City is destroyed, giving Telos a 'winner.'

I don't know if anyone here showed up for the last issue of Convergence--38 covers for 9 issues, including a #0. Ugh...But I do like that somewhere out there in the Multiverse, these guys are all still out there. Pity Beetle is too old to talk his way onto the Legion, though...
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Wednesday, September 19, 2018


The Silver Surfer's 1998 Fox animated series only lasted one season, but had three series of Toy Biz figures! Two of which were five-inch figures, not unlike their usual pre-Marvel Legends offerings; while one was a six-inch scale. The Surfer from that was very nice for the time, and I also immediately bought the original classic Beta Ray Bill! (Who I say is 1997 in that link, which might be wrong?) I wouldn't get the other two six-inchers for some years, the Meegan Alien, and just recently Nova! Who, between the vac-metallizing and the outdated articulation, might not be the most expressive character we've ever had here; but we'll see.

I just recently got the brand new Walgreens exclusive Silver Surfer, and he's easily the best of the what, four Marvel Legends he's received to date! There was the Toy Biz series 5 that came with Howard the Duck; the 2007 Ronan/Fantastic Four series; and the 2008 Silver Savage/Red Hulk series. And I got another of the old 1998 Surfers on eBay with this Nova! I should see about hanging him from the ceiling or something.
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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

If anybody asks, Spidey always had a tail. Or boobs. Or wore six layers of costume...

From 2008, Spider-Man: Brand New Day--Extra #1, "The Spartacus Gambit" Written by Marc Guggenheim, art by Marcos Martin.

Set "Several weeks from now," the story opens in a courtroom, as Spider-Man, his arm in a sling, is charged with murder in the second and multiple counts of assault and obstruction! Since I think this was released before whatever Spidey allegedly did, I don't know what it is, but it's looking bad. Luckily, Spidey's got Matt Murdock on the case, but things are complicated further by a lawyer filing regarding a civil case against Spidey, a motion to have him unmasked!

The legal arguments sound reasonably close to realistic, or at least Law and Order; but the civil suit lawyer makes an analogy comparing a masked vigilante to a car: if you got hit by a car, you'd have the right to run the plates and see who owned it, so if you get hit by a vigilante...Surprisingly, Matt agrees, at least to the analogy, and requests a recess. The next day, Matt hands Spidey a law book, suggesting he may have to study up; but that he might be able to take care of the civil suit. Inside the courtroom, the judge is more than a little steamed at Matt's latest stunt: a courtroom full of Spider-Men, some swinging and climbing about!

The multiple Spideys let Matt argue, the burden of proof in the civil suit would be on the plaintiff, and they would have to show who was in the suit on the day of the incident. Unmasking the Spider-Man on trial here would prove nothing. The civil suit is dismissed, but without prejudice; the judge leaving it open if they could prove what Spidey did it. But she goes on to deny bail for the defendant here. Spidey isn't thrilled, but is grateful for what Matt has already done, as well as curious where the other Spider-Men came from. He's really, really hoping it wasn't clones; and hey, they weren't!

I see Ronin there, who I guess might've been Hawkeye then? Looks like he's wearing a Spidey-suit over his own stupid outfit. The Black Cat was another of the faux-Spideys, and had also broken into an evidence locker to get his web-shooters. Iron Fist had used one during the courtroom demonstration, while the other is inside the cut-out law book. It's not really clear who each Spidey was, but only Arana and Nightcrawler could actually crawl on walls. Actually, I'm assuming Arana could, and maybe the Cat? Which probably works, since they may be less convincing up close! Meanwhile, this story arc, "Character Assassination," would begin in Spider-Man #584: the next issue box says #582, but that was the conclusion of a Molten Man story; the next issue was the Obama cover. Just reading a recap of Character Assassination it sounds pretty complicated, though.
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Monday, September 17, 2018

Getting their money's worth out of that sword mold.

Some recent pick-ups: Marvel Legends Psylocke, Typhoid Mary, and Lady Deadpool. All of whom come with the same sword, which isn't new to any of them, it's been used for more than a couple Deadpool figures.

Also, we should acknowledge Hasbro rectified a long-standing injustice, with the release of Spider-Ham!

I know some were bitching about the lack of articulation below the waist for Spider-Ham, but there is precedent.
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Friday, September 14, 2018

I've always enjoyed Bongo Comics when I get them, and I had heard good things about this run. And it is just savage. From 1994, Radioactive Man #679 (#5) "Who Washes the Washmen's Infinite Secrets of Legendary Crossover Knight Wars?" Script and layouts by Steve Vance, finishes by Tim Bavington, additional inks by Bill Morrison.

Radioactive Man, of course, is Bart Simpson's favorite superhero; and the book is in the signature Matt Groening style. This was the fifth issue of six, but it's numbered like it had been running since the 1950's. Although the cover, proclaiming the impending death of a "second banana," is more of a Silver Age look; this particular issue is more eighties, taking the absolute piss out of hallowed classics Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, and Batman: Year One. You'll recognize the bits, but Vance also does a nice job skewering the politics of that era.

It may help that Radioactive Man himself is a bit dim, even for someone with a lightning-bolt shaped hunk of metal lodged in his head. (His secret identity, Claude Kane, was doomed to never appear hatless; even though hats were well out of fashion by this point!) Along with blindly supporting President Reagan, he's also not thrilled to see his alternate-earth counterparts; although I do like the designations "Beta-Earth" and "Substitute Earth"! The second bananas set up some Crisis and Legends bits as well.

I won't tell which second banana doesn't make it, although Radioactive Man even suggests they'll probably be back someday. Meanwhile, I know I need to get the very McFarlane-looking #1000, but I also think I have some other Radioactive Man comics around somewhere...

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