Tuesday, January 17, 2017

So every year I go on about how my Year in Toys totals could yield some valuable information, and they might have! Namely that nine times out of ten (or eleven) the first figure I buy any given year is from clearance. (One year was an eBay purchase, but our first recorded purchase in the year-end totals was from January 1, 2006; the classic Toy Biz Hulkbuster Iron Man, still a helluva figure.) This year continues the clearance trend, as we start 2017 with the Funko Magic: the Gathering Jace Beleren and Marvel Legends Nico Minoru.

Even though I don't play the game, I did end up with all six of those Magic figures. They were alright; maybe could've done with another paint app or two and some quality control. Jace's face paint is a bit iffy, perhaps reasoning he'd almost always be displayed wearing his hood; but I'm not sure his elbows loosened up to the point that I could move them. Meanwhile, Nico I might've passed on if she hadn't been $6.50; but now I've got what, five of the eight pieces for Dormammu. If I found the two Dr. Strange figures and Iron Fist for that price, I'd probably cave, but haven't yet. And could I do without the shoulder pad piece that came with Iron Fist? Everyone says he's a great figure, but...

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Monday, January 16, 2017

They stretched this story out to two issues...sorry.

The last time we checked out a classic Flash back-issue, I didn't have the next one. Still don't! Nor do I have the next issue after this one: the Flash #252, "Double-Dose of Danger!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Irv Novick, inks by Frank McLaughlin.

This issue guest-stars Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, and his wife Sue, who's looking for the missing sleuth. Sue goes to the Allens for help, even though an editorial footnote points out Sue doesn't know Barry is the Flash here. Ralph was going to stretch his face into a disguise to go undercover and try and infiltrate the criminal Chane Gang, but as he was going to toast his wife with the gingold extract that gave him his powers, he disappeared. After Sue leaves, Barry sheepishly has to explain to Iris he knows how Ralph disappeared: he picked him up on the fly to go after the Chane Gang as they escaped from a bank robbery, on foot. It's a little more effective than you'd think, since the gang members are phantoms, Flash and E-M can't grab them! They quickly deduce 3-D holograms, of course, and catch one with a projection rig in his jacket. So obvious! Except, when they return the money, it's only half-there: who got away with the rest? Elongated Man goes to investigate, and that was the last Flash saw of him.

Flash searches the city, but didn't know Ralph would be in disguise. With a classified ad, Ralph sets up a meet with the Chane Gang: identical twins, both using the holographic projectors. Chane intends to kill to protect his secret, but Ralph twists his gun like taffy? How? The next day, on the news Sue sees Ralph's disguised face in the crowd at the arrival of a supersonic transport; Flash catches the same report, as someone melts the plane, with his "elastic touch!!" Calling himself the Molder, he gives Flash a good fight, but when punched out reverts to Ralph. Then reverts back to the Molder when he recovers, and pounds Flash into jelly! Almost literally, in this case.

It's obvious drinking Gingold while being carried at super-speed didn't do Ralph any favors, but I still want to see how this wraps up! Another next issue to watch out for.
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Could've done with a bigger shelf...

I bought a detolf from Ikea a couple months back, and although the year-end group picture was on the top shelf, I hadn't got around to filling it up yet. But we've remedied that, by filling a shelf with the bulk of my Nightcrawler collection! Or at least a good chunk of it...

It's a bit cramped, and I'd still like to take some time for individual pictures of some of the foreign pieces. That and I think I was actually looking for the faux-Lego one from X-Men: Apocalypse. Did I put that with my other Legos? Well, something to keep an eye out for, then. Still, out early so I can work on next week's strip!
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Is this a mockbuster, then?

There are few comics that burned as much goodwill with me as DC's Identity Crisis, which ran from August 2004 to February 2005. But right next to it on the racks was today's book, from August to December 2004: Marvel's Identity Disc. Specifically, we've got #2, written by Rob Rodi, pencils by John Higgins, inks by Sandu Florea.

There's a pretty good recap page: claiming to work for fabled super-criminal mastermind Tristram Silver, mystery woman Valeria Merrick brings together Sabretooth, Sandman, Juggernaut, Deadpool, Bullseye, and the Vulture. Using blackmail and threats, she wants them to help her get the fabled Identity Disc, which supposedly contains the secrets of every hero in America. Sandman doesn't buy it, and chafes at the threat to his mom; and Valeria kills him. (Yeah, like Sandman doesn't die every third appearance.) The bulk of this issue is not unlike a typical caper story, with Sabretooth and Vulture doing a smaller job for intel against A.I.M, while Deadpool and Bullseye hit a computer lab for a special decryption key, and Juggernaut watches an A.I.M. installation.

I kind of suspect both Pool and Bullseye are lying here, about their "blackmail stories." It's a little stalker-y even for Deadpool, while I can't imagine Bullseye caring if a dozen syndicates were after him: that's just more targets for him. And is it feasible to blackmail someone with no shame or fear of consequence? Bullseye tries to do a little research on Merrick, but after they hear a Tristram Silver story from a bartender, Bullseye decides he's out, double-crossing the others on his way by stealing the key. And finding pretty quickly he bit off more than he could chew, as Juggernaut and Sabretooth demolish him. (With Pool delivering a kick or three while he's down.) Merrick arrives before any permanent damage is done, taking the key and telling the team the timetable has been moved up...

We've mentioned "mockbusters" before: they usually mean the knock-off films meant to capitalize on a blockbuster film, like Trans-Morphers. Was Identity Disc intended as such, getting sales by confused comic buyers? This is a trifle compared to Identity Crisis, but at least it doesn't try to be more than it is. Namely, a riff on a modern classic crime movie, the name of which I won't mention since it could be considered a spoiler! Although, I think this post on one issue is longer than the Wikipedia entry for the entire series. And even more oddly, the disc was apparently legit! I was betting it was horsecrap at this point.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017


How much is leftover when Galactus eats a planet? In the alternate timeline the Thing created in Marvel Two-In-One #50 and revisited in #100, Galactus had wrecked up the place, but hadn't completely destroyed that earth. And in Secret Wars #9, the heroes stop Galactus from eating the Battleworld, which just drives him to eat his own worldship, in an attempt to build up enough power to take the Beyonder. Reed Richards points out Galactus is still going to eat them, and probably the sun as well...

Galactus has had several heralds, but every once in a while you get an oddball like Stardust. And the timeline for their service is really vague. How long was the Silver Surfer his herald? Years? Centuries? Guys like Air-Walker and Firelord couldn't have been for more than a few years. Probably the same for Terrax and Nova. I know his status changed recently, but I'm not sure Galactus has a herald right now.

Our aliens today are the Bat-Creatures from Batman v. Superman, who got figures even though they're barely in that movie and don't really have any reason to be there anyway. But I thought, if a world was about to be eaten by Galactus, and you could pick up some survivors, in some cases you may not be doing them any favors. Yay, you survived to be a homeless space refugee? Not everyone can find a planet where they have super-powers under a yellow sun, y'know.
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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Today, Superboy meets the first troll, learns the wrong lessons, and maybe enjoys taking a beating too much.

From 1981, The New Adventures of Superboy #17, "To Fight the Unbeatable Foe!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Kurt Schaffenberger, inks by Dave Hunt.

The story opens with Superboy opening a pocket of magma, to keep it from building up pressure and causing an earthquake. He then melts, since that wasn't Superboy, but rather one of his robots: the Superboy-robot had done a good job analyzing and handling the situation, but without Superboy's invulnerable skin was in bad shape, and Superboy has to heat-vision it "out of its 'misery'!" Changing back into Clark Kent, he attends his Speech 301 class, where Carl "Moosie" Draper delivers what he thinks will be a scathing rebuttal to the Boy of Steel: How do they know if he's a good hero? What do they have to compare him against? Had Superboy even faced a super-villain at that point in his career? If the answer is no, which it is, Superboy sucks and we should all hate him, thank you and good night.

Lana Lang rips Moosie a new one afterwards: another guy jealous of Superboy and trying to tear him down. But Clark wonders if maybe there wasn't a point in there somewhere, and has an idea. Step one: use his mind-prober ray to dig up some memories of his early childhood on Krypton. (Pre-Crisis, Superboy was what, a toddler before he was launched to earth? Which doesn't explain some of that Superbaby stuff.) Watching Jor-El work on a robot (the super-teacher Jor-El built for him!) Superboy is able to vastly increase his robot-building skills, and plans a new model that will be his equal...It occurs to me Superboy could use his mind-prober ray to bask in the time he had with his parents, but nah, let's watch dad build a robot jerkhole.

The next day, at one of Smallville's seemingly weekly Superboy Days, a new caped figure arrives instead: Kator. Confronting the Boy of Steel, while the Kents and Lana worry; Moosie hopes Kator will knock Superboy down a peg or three. In fact, I wonder if his class wasn't half-full of jealous guys (and maybe the occasional girl) who hated Superboy for blocking their chances with Lana. Their largely imaginary chances, I'm sure; but looking at this through today's eyes it's easy to picture that getting ugly.

Kator seems more than a match for Superboy, who isn't too bent out of shape about it: of course he built him. While his parents are understandably upset that he's unleashed a potential menace on Smallville, just to have something to prove himself against; Superboy has thought ahead and created a fail-safe to turn off Kator, which he gives to his dad. (And which I think Kator steals the next evening...) The next day, while Clark is on a walk with Lana, Kator delivers a message--two, in fact. One to Superboy, that he'll soon be replaced; the other to Moosie, a promise that his dreams will soon come true...!

I think a good percentage of Superboy comics have a panel like that one of Clark thinking; thinking "Hmmmm...did I just make a terrible mistake?" Also, out of context, that last panel would look a lot different. I don't know why exactly Moosie assumes, if Superboy gets his ass kicked, Lana will automatically dump him and fall into Moosie's arms. I also don't have the next issue, have to keep an eye out for that; although this issue has a better cover.
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Monday, January 09, 2017

They're together to get back at Daredevil. Both of them.

I just had to search for ten minutes, because I was positive I blogged the last issue of this run for "The End" week at some point, but no dice. Well, this one's got a great cover, let's go with it: from 2013, Thunderbolts #7, "Direct Action" Written by Daniel Way, art by Phil Noto, cover by Julian Totino Tedesco.

After some hiccups, the first mission of Red Hulk's new Thunderbolts was a success; there was now some fallout to deal with. The intelligence community is scrambling for an explanation of who wiped out a bunch of previously unknown terrorists who had a previously unsuspected new superweapon; and Captain America is approached to see if he would take credit for it. Cap declines.

Nice page there. Meanwhile, in the T-Bolts' stolen sub, tensions are mounting, among other things: the Punisher and Elektra are hooking up, although neither will admit to any kind of emotional involvement, because there may literally be no emotional involvement. A jealous Deadpool is considering killing Punisher, even though Elektra wants less than nothing to do with him. And Agent Venom has learned some of Red Hulk's lies, and proposes a mutiny. While the confused (and recently resurrected by Ross) Red Leader doesn't think he's been lied to, Deadpool proposes forcing the truth out of the Red Hulk. Elektra questions this plan.

After beating down the entire team, Red Hulk changes back into former-General Ross, to explain: they're on the trail of modified gamma bombs. Ross knows the middlemen who traffic in weapons, who coincidentally are being confronted with the gamma buyer, who has turned the g-bombs into power sources for modified Crimson Dynamo suits!

I'm sure I read and enjoyed this whole run on Marvel Unlimited, but like most Thunderbolts series, I still have random issues here and there. I don't think either Elektra or the Punisher would rub their, um, "relationship" in Daredevil's face; that's not like either of them. Regardless of how funny that might be...
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