Monday, September 16, 2019

If you had Rock Python gets an action figure before Jack Monroe, congrats.

I don't know what you win, but congrats. Also this issue: Henry Gyrich gets told off! Secret history of the T-Bolts! And Jack cross-dresses, sort of! From 2011, Thunderbolts: From the Marvel Vault #1, "The Penance" Written by Fabian Nicieza, art by Derec Aucoin.

This was published in 2011, but was a fill-in issue from 2001 that laid in the drawer so long that Nomad/Scourge/Jack Monroe had been dead for six years, since Captain America #7 in 2005. Nicieza diplomatically notes the death was well-handled, "but ultimately, I didn't like seeing a character I had such a strong emotional investment in get killed off at all, much less in the way he did." Monroe's death may have stepped on this issue, and I'm not sure his stint as a brainwashed Scourge was even brought up there; but here he had just recently been freed, and was wondering what to do next. Although he left the Scourge gear behind, Jack kept one thing: an image inducer, which he uses here to pass himself off as a hot babe, in order to facilitate hitchhiking. Actually, the hot babe turns out to be Songbird, as Jack visits her hometown trailer park, looking for answers as to how she grew into a hero coming from there. The answers aren't really forthcoming, although he does have time to beat up her mom's abusive new man.

In Chicago, Jack disguises himself as Moonstone to visit an old colleague of hers, who knows she could never trust her manipulations. In Colorado, at the site of a murder he committed as Scourge, Jack talks to a cop about Abe Jenkins, who had become a good guy. In Wisconsin he visits the graves of Erik 'Atlas' Josten's family, and gets a surprising insight to him from a high school coach: was he a good guy or a bad guy?

Next, in Washington D.C. Jack visits Henry Gyrich, in the guise of his assistant, to rub his nose in it: Gyrich had also been mind-controlled into the Scourge thing, but some of the ideas had been his. Still, reading his own file, Jack doesn't think he can put all the blame on Gyrich, either. Finally, in St. Louis, Jack starts a fight with an old foe, Rock Python--they had thrown down way back in Captain America #342 or so--who is working as a bank guard to case an adamantium vault next door. Or is he really working as a guard, going legit? Jack says he can't get Python arrested for thinking about crime, but can ask him not to; and Python seemingly obliges. Jack may have found a new calling, redeeming villains, by punching them really hard.

As I write this, I haven't bought Rock Python, because c'mon, I was pretty sure I could get him at a markdown later. Still, he seems to be selling okay! I wasn't planning on completing the Build-a-Figure Hulk, but maybe some are.
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Friday, September 13, 2019

It's "Enemy Mine," but with Gorgon he supposed to be Sun Boy or Wildfire?

Oh, and the Hulk's space kid, I guess? From 2009, War of Kings: Savage World of Skaar #1, "The Enemy of My Enemy" Written by Christos N. Gage, pencils by Graham Nolan and Reilly Brown, inks by Nelson DeCastro.

The "War of Kings" was raging, and I have to admit I've read just about none of this crossover. I did read the start of the Vulcan storyline in Uncanny X-Men, but may have skipped or blacked out large portions of it. His mother, Katherine Summers, had been taken by the Shi'ar emperor, and I'm pretty sure the Shi'ar crapped all over the young Vulcan until he developed powers, then the shoe was on the other foot. Currently the new emperor, Vulcan was now at war with the Kree, which were then ruled by Black Bolt and the Inhumans. Vulcan had sent his Imperial Guard at the Inhuman royal family, attempting to kill them at the wedding of Crystal and Ronan the Accuser (I wonder if she'll take his last name...) with Starbolt nearly setting her on fire. Starbolt was marked for death by the Inhumans, and Gorgon is just itching to kill him. So much so, that neither pays much attention to the wormhole they were investigating, and both ships end up sucked in.

Crashing on an unknown planet, the battle continues until interrupted by what appears to be a stampede of feral robots. With both of their ships and men gone, Starbolt wonders if they should keep fighting, but Gorgon is more than willing to. The fight is observed by Skaar and the verbose Old Sam, who chides Skaar for abusing the "old power" and attracting the attention of two warring empires who would love to have that power themselves. Skaar doesn't intend for them to tell anyone about anything. Launching a good-sized chunk of rock at them, Skaar separates Starbolt and Gorgon, and figures they won't survive the night.

With the temperature dropping, Gorgon is cold and hungry, but still figures he's better off: Lockjaw should find him eventually. Starbolt is worse off than Gorgon assumed, though: he needed energy to maintain himself; and thought he might've found it in a magma pit before a monster comes out of it. Gorgon offers to save him, if he'll surrender; having no other way off the planet, Starbolt agrees "...but for the remainder of our time on this world...we are allies." Once teamed-up, the two realize they have a bit in common, and a grudging respect. Still, when they come across a devastated field, an old woman tells him it was the son of the Hulk, and Gorgon realizes they may be in deep. Which doesn't stop either of them from mouthing off when Skaar tells them to leave and never come back. (Whatever Skaar did apparently also caused the wormhole to flare up, bringing them there in the first place.)

Even working together they're no match for Skaar, but Lockjaw saves them at the last second. At the Inhuman Royal Palace though, Starbolt grabs Luna as a hostage: Gorgon calls dishonor on that, but Starbolt points out the Inhumans slaughtered Shi'ar troops without provocation. Lockjaw is smart enough to teleport Starbolt, Luna, and Gorgon to the Shi'ar Throneworld, where Gorgon is able to grab Luna back to safety. Still, both Vulcan and Black Bolt are intrigued by this "Sakaar" and the old power...which I'm not sure either of them did anything about, but okay. I don't know a helluva lot about Skaar either, even though I know I have another few comics with him floating about.
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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Sometimes I'll have a comic set aside so I can blog it later, for some reason or another. This one apparently because you needed to see the Punisher tell someone, "rave on." From 1994, Punisher #96, "Raving Beauty" Written by Richard Rainey, art by Isaac M. Del Rivero.

"Raving Beauty" is the moniker the tabloid press gives Cheryl, a young would-be starlet who was taken in by the mob and pushed into sleazy movies, drugs, and prostitution. Revenge gave her motivation to recover, and she's killed her way up the criminal ladder far enough to attract retaliation. Fortunately, the Punisher is in San Francisco on vacation, laying low since he was presumed dead; but he's more than willing to team-up with Cheryl. Refreshingly, Frank doesn't try to talk her out of anything, or condescend to her either: she may be a talented amateur compared to him, but he understands her drive.

Together with a reporter that had been following Cheryl like Jack McGee tailed the Hulk, they kill the mobsters that first hurt her. Cheryl wonders what to do with her life afterward, and Frank suggests "rave on." Not settle down or walk away or be happy or anything, go ahead and keep murdering criminals, it's fine. I'm pretty sure this was a fill-in, so we didn't see her again, but I wonder how many times Frank has encouraged that sort of thing...
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Wednesday, September 11, 2019


Don't worry, Kurt's optimism should start getting good and squashed next week...
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Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Along with the conclusion to the Black Knight two-parter, I got this one, the conclusion to the Spider-Woman two-parter, at the last comicon. With all the set-up out of the way, how will this one roll? Um...into several pages of recap. From 1984, Avengers #241, "Dark Angel!" Written by Roger Stern, with story consultant Ann Nocenti, breakdowns by Al Milgrom, finishes by Joe Sinnott and Andy Mushinsky.

Jessica Drew is still in a coma, with her spirit trapped in the astral plane; and the Avengers are trying to save her, with the help of Dr. Strange, the Shroud, and the not-entirely-forgiven Dr. Pym. Morgan Le Fey makes a mystic appearance, to tell the collected heroes to step off, she's going to return to the physical world in Jessica's body. Since no one gets to stepping, Morgan then attacks; as Dr. Strange puts it, "she's unleashed some of the very substance of the astral plane into the physical world!" (By the way, I haven't watched Runaways yet, but casting Elizabeth Hurley as Morgan le Fey is nice work.) Strange is occupied keeping Jessica alive, so it's up to the Avengers, since this is their book and all. With the Shroud's darkness covering them, they attempt to take the fight to Morgan, with not a lot of success: she makes a giant body for herself, the better to throw She-Hulk around.

Meanwhile, the astral body of the sorcerer Magnus wakes up, and realizes he sent Jessica into a trap. Dr. Strange was using the light of the Eye of Agamotto as a lifeline, for Jessica to follow to her body, but she was losing strength. Magnus tells his origin: he and Morgan used to be a thing, until she went from insanely hating the king to full-on Darkhold evil, and when he stole the Darkhold from her she killed him while he was astral projecting, leaving him a bodiless spirit, that eventually worked up enough strength to occasionally return to earth, as he did in Spider-Woman #13. Magnus fell in love with Jessica, but also felt guilty for setting her against Morgan, and sacrifices himself to save her. Jessica returns to her body, much to the joy of Dr. Pym, who really didn't do much, but needed a win.

Furious over losing a perfectly good potential body, Morgan threatens to take She-Hulk's instead, but is stopped by Dr. Strange, since he no longer had to divide his attention. She swears vengeance on him as the Avengers escape. Dr. Pym does have to give Jessica the bad news: her spider-powers were gone. Still, she's undeterred, planning on continuing her private detective career. Of course, that wasn't the last we saw of her, and her powers weren't even all gone at that point: I remember her return in Wolverine, I think she still had her wall-climbing powers then. Which she thought of as kind of dumb without the other powers, but still. I don't think much else from this one comes up, except it would be great if Magnus was the great love of her life, and Jessica was always going on and on about her dead wizard-ghost boyfriend with the Friar Tuck haircut...

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Monday, September 09, 2019

Ooh, there may be some morning-after regret there.

Recently at the comic shop, I asked if they had magazine-sized long boxes. They told me no, because they'd weigh a metric asston. I laughed, then went home and filled a box with Savage Swords that's so heavy now I think Conan could've used it to push over on and kill something in an issue there. But I had this issue still out; I wonder why? From 1983, Savage Sword of Conan #94, "Death Dwarves of Stygia!" Written by Michael Fleisher, art and cover by Val Mayerik, inks by Vince Colletta. Some previous owner may have done some "spot-reds" here, we'll see if we scan any...

Conan had been escorting a friend's girl on a sea voyage, when the sailors decide to abduct her and toss Conan overboard. Swimming a mere "thirty leagues or so" after them, Conan catches up with them on an island and kills the sailors, then they manage to get shipwrecked on another island. That may be the doing of the enchantress Kiriandra, who had been exiled for years, and now wants Conan to murder her former master, Stygian wizard Parmek Da'an. To leverage Conan into it, she transfers Conan's unnamed friend's life-force into a sluglike monster, then sleeps with him. Look, she'd been on that island for a while. Kiriandra sends Conan on his way with an amulet to protect him from being possessed by Da'an.

In Stygia, the king's gambling losses are cutting into his popularity; to the point some citizens are going to cut into him; but Conan intervenes and gets offered a job with the elite guard. Still, tradition says the number of the elite has to remain constant, so he'll have to fight for a spot. (It's entirely possible the king is just too cheap to spring for another guard, that would cut into dwarf-betting money.) Conan gets the job, but Parmek Da'an is already on the move, presenting his three dwarven fighters to the king, then later possessing the king's vizier to murder him. Conan intervenes and Da'an returns to his body, leaving the vizier screaming his innocence as he's dragged off to be impaled. Realizing the barbarian could be a problem, Da'an next possesses the queen and takes her to Conan's bedchamber. This isn't well received by anyone, and Conan is dragged to the dungeon.

This has been just a little diversion for Da'an, who's planning to take the throne. His three dwarves form a larger fighter, "a jinn," who carves up the elite guards. He then takes over the king, and has his real body safely put in his room. The queen frees Conan, who is not impressed by the jinn. They might've given him more of a fight as three dwarves. Da'an tries to possess Conan, but the amulet does its job, and returning to his own body he finds a knife in his chest, and dissolves into nothing.

Conan returns to Kiriandra's island, and finds it seemingly less magical, if infested with cave-ape looking "ghouls." After that fight, Conan finds his friend's girl locked up: he's realized 'Kiriandra' was really the slug monster, given human form by Da'an, but that spell died with him. The slug seemingly implores Conan to kill it, but he declines, taking the girl and leaving. Wait, Conan slept with a slug...luckily, he's not especially given to introspection; he might never feel clean again.
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Friday, September 06, 2019

I was supposed to be sorting some books, but of course I stopped to read this one, and it had about the last person I'd expect to be testifying before Congress, so...from 1985, Incredible Hulk #305, "Fancy Meeting You Here!" Written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Gerry Talaoc.

It's Doctor Stephen Strange, in a sharp but very restrained suit, testifying before a "secret Senate select committee," to explain how he had banished the mindless Hulk from earth. The opinions seem a bit split: sure the Hulk was dangerous, but is it legal or even ethical to banish someone without due process? Strange explains the Hulk had been his friend, and was sent to a Crossroads dimension in the hopes that he could find peace. One senator offers, millions of dollars and man-hours had been spent fighting the Hulk, so good riddance; but I can't help suspect that senator must not have the big military contractors backing him: I still maintain there were probably a lot of defense companies and such raking in the government pork to build Hulkbuster equipment. At the end of his testimony, a Senator Price tries to offer comforting words to Strange, that inadvertently seem super-ominous: "I want an intelligent inquiry into our position with super-beings. Not an inquisition--and certainly not a witch-hunt!"

The rest of this issue is the mindless Hulk fighting his old foes...the U-Foes. Ironclad mentions how Bruce Banner interfered with their attempt to use cosmic rays to gain powers, ala the Fantastic Four, turning them "inta freaks!" There was a pretty good chance of that happening best-case, wasn't there? Still, while they may have ended up freakier than the FF, that seems to have translated into making them tougher to kill, which they need here: with the help of the alien Puffball Collective, the Hulk fights each U-Foe into a world seemingly designed to thwart their powers. Ironclad doesn't have much luck on a quicksand world, for example; and X-Ray is less threatening in a world where monsters eat radioactivity. The Hulk's made a friend, which means it is probably going to die, betray him then die, or be otherwise lost, in the next three issues or so. (Yep!)

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