Friday, September 30, 2016

These try-outs are mature, well-reasoned, and fair; of course they're less fun.

This issue was near the end of the "Threeboot" era, although it looks pretty close to a traditional Legion story, even without the try-outs. From 2009, Legion of Super-Heroes #48, "Enemy Manifest, part 3: the Edge of Doom" Written by Jim Shooter, pencils by Francis Manapul, inks by John Livesay.

A new planet had appeared in the solar system, which I'm pretty sure was the plot of a Godzilla movie, and the aliens living there may know more than they let on. Suspecting trouble, the Legion decides to boost their roster with the traditional try-outs, although they're only testing four potential members here: Turtle, Sizzle, Night Girl, and Gazelle. The Legion had a ton of members, if they wanted more I don't think less than four at a time is enough.

Along with the new recruits, the Legion also votes on whether or not to reinstate the returning Sun Boy. Interestingly, we see the results of the individual voting here: former lone wolf Timber Wolf votes a flat 'no' across the board, for example. Sun Boy is reinstated, Gazelle is inducted, and the rest are offered spots in the new Legion Reserves.

Short one today, but I'm having scanner trouble. See you next week!
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Thursday, September 29, 2016

Today we continue our sporadic coverage of the Atlantis Attacks crossover, with the third chapter, featuring a guest-star I love to death, used badly; in a trope I somehow associate with the book's regular writer even though he didn't write this one. From 1989, X-Men Annual #13, "Double Cross" Written by Terry Austin, art by Mike Vosburg. Now, Austin's a name you've seen on a ton of X-Men comics, but he was an inker--aside from that link there, I didn't know he had any writing credits.

Set during the X-Men's Australian outback days (which lasted maybe two years, but still seems a definitive era) the story opens with Dazzler about to jump into bed with Wolverine, in a somewhat hammy pass. She is interrupted by Alison--herself!--and the rest of the X-Men, since she's actually Diamondback, from Captain America! By way of explanation, Storm goes through her taped account: rejoining the Serpent Society, DB was on a mission for Ghaur and Llyra, who wanted some mystic artifacts stolen from Mr. Jip. Instead, the somewhat cadaverous and apparently pantsless Jip captured Diamondback, and Dazzler, then swapped their bodies in order to blackmail them into collecting the magic items...that I thought he supposedly had. Hmm...

Splitting into groups and teleported by Gateway, the X-Men fight the Serpent Society in the Savage Land, Ohio, and Iceland; collecting the items. Longshot is believed lost, but upon receipt of the items Mr. Jip restores Diamondback and Dazzler, then returns Longshot to leverage his position. But Jip and the X-Men are double-crossed by Diamondback, who is retrieved by her boss, the teleporting Sidewinder; they had likewise double-crossed the Serpent Society and bilked them of most of their fee. Ghaur and Llyra receive the mystic doodads, and have a chuckle at how humans can be so short-sighted, since they would use them to raise Set and kill them all...while Mr. Jip laments the setback: he had been trying to stop Ghaur and Llyra's plan only because it involved Dagger, and Jip had his own plans for her. Jip also notes their plan may have repercussions for Storm as well...

Even though Austin wrote this, the body-swap aspect feels like regular writer Chris Claremont; and I'm not sure why. I don't know if he used that one that often, but still. I don't think I've read another comic with Mr. Jip, so I don't know if he's used correctly; but Diamondback is a bit out of character here, far more shallow and callow than she had become in Cap. Also this issue: a Jubilee story, written by Claremont under a pseudonym; and another chapter of "The Saga of the Serpent Crown," featuring a cameo from Kull!
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Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Did I buy that refrigerator specifically for this kitchen set? Possibly, I can't remember. Meanwhile, or rather since, the Wife bought her own fridge, since I said she was hogging the old one! She likes having her own stuff, and generally needs the newest bestest available; whereas I'm usually content to slog along with whatever old thing. Moreover, even though we go shopping together, we still buy our own groceries, and don't really share food. (Except for a few dishes like peanut chicken, or the stuff she buys and doesn't like and gives me!)

The Wife also loves the stubbly look, and I may actually be allergic to my own stubble. Seriously, I've rubbed my hand on it, and gotten itchy as hell, not sure what's up with that...
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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

In combating alcoholism or other substance addiction, a traditional twelve-step program involves some degree of faith in a higher power. Alcoholics Anonymous's current wording of the third step is "Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." This can cause some issues with those with different beliefs, like atheists. (A quick Google search and "twelve step program without god" was the fourth search...right above "twelve step programs don't work.") Some people may have a legitimate problem with "surrendering" to a higher Bane, in today's book: from 2006, JSA Classified #18, "The Venom Connection, part 2 of 2" Written by Tony Bedard, pencils by Scott McDaniel, inks by Andy Owens.

The new Hourman, Rick Tyler, had been working with Bane to stop a designer drug epidemic that may have had its roots in the Miraclo formula. Bane claimed to have found notes from the formula's creator, original Hourman Rex Tyler, but he also claimed to have been forced back onto his drug, Venom: both were lies.

Bane double-crosses the Tylers, since his plan all along was to destroy anything related to Venom, saying he'd "rather die than be a slave to that drug again." Rick gets a solid thrashing and his power-gauntlets taken away; while Rex is not afraid of Bane: he had straight-up been killed and brought back multiple times, he wasn't scared of a bully in a luchadore mask.

Unable to finish Rick right away, Bane takes Rex hostage, back to Santa Prisca. Rick follows, with only one power left: his "time vision" that prophecies moments an hour ahead, where he sees Bane throwing him in a cell. Still, it gave him the lay of the land: Bane was going to blow up the abandoned Pena Duro prison where he had grown up, and had rigged the cells to lock and stay locked. Bane rolls all over Rick, and is pissed since he doesn't believe in "overcoming addiction by admitting your weakness..." He wouldn't believe in a "higher power," Bane would be all about gutting it out yourself. Which makes sense, since Bane has never had anyone or anything he could rely on; while Rick can rely on his team and his dad.

Bane throws Rick into a cell, and tells him he can either die in the upcoming explosion, or take some Venom to save his dad...and later die of withdrawals. Rick has outmaneuvered him, though; by grabbing the detonator. Bane uses Rick's gauntlets to hulk-up on Miraclo, but Rick tosses the detonator into the cell Rex was in, then gets Miraclo to Rex, who seems willing to go toe-to-toe with Bane. Rick blows the detonator as Rex runs them out of there, leaving Bane to possibly-but-probably-not get squashed in the explosion. (Even though Pena Duro was abandoned when it was blown up...I'd be mildly surprised if it didn't appear again. Bane's prison seems too good a location to let go.)

So Miraclo seems like a step up from Venom, which is probably super-addictive. Versus the only somewhat addictive Miraclo...Rex may have been less addicted to it, then the rush of "goddamn, I'm a super-hero, let's go!" Rick is admittedly an addict, but it's OK because he's a superhero? And at a glance, I think Bane was back on the Venom five years later in Secret Six #36, if not earlier. But it has to be tough to "let go and let God" when the next writer or editor puts you right back on the stuff!
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Monday, September 26, 2016

I dropped the ball on this one, but no one called me on it in the last four years: we were looking at some of the continuity in Dark Horse's Aliens comics, specifically the return of Ellen Ripley at the end of Nightmare Asylum. I didn't think , or at least wasn't sure, that it was followed up on; turns out it totally was! In 1990's Aliens: Earth War, written by Mark Verheiden, art by Sam Kieth. (With covers by John Bolton.)

Continuity-wise, so far everything has sprung off of Aliens, since Alien 3 was still a couple years out. Hicks and Newt--still Hicks and Newt here, in the original issues, not Wilks and Billie--hadn't seen Ripley in years. They had gone into coldsleep at the end of Aliens, but Ripley was gone when they woke up, and here we see where she went: a second, government ship had been sent to follow-up on LV-426 Acheron. Ripley was intercepted and forced to go back on a "scientific expedition." For good measure, she gets to watch helmet-cam footage of Kane from Alien, in case she was working through any of her survivor's guilt; but she goes along to protect Hicks and Newt.

Somewhat predictably, the second expedition doesn't go any better than the first, but is over right away. Based on the distress call from the derelict ship on LV-426, Ripley discovers the aliens aren't just spreading "like some horrible cancers," they were trying to get back to a Queen Mother. "Why," isn't especially clear; but the aliens were still somewhat mysterious in that fashion. It had been implied that they had some level of telepathy, which also helped make a mess of earth: the planet was infested with aliens, but a lot of people had also lost their minds to the aliens' influence. (To mix a couple genre metaphors, think failing a sanity check as in Call of Cthulhu and going full Renfield.)

Escaping with some soldiers, Ripley had been working on a plan to capture the Queen Mother, take her to earth, and blow them both up. Ripley believes the QM and her drones would both be vulnerable then, and had little reason to care about what happened to earth anyway: the corporation and/or government had betrayed her multiple times already, and referencing a scene deleted from the original theatrical release of Aliens, Ripley's daughter had grown up and died of old age while she had been lost after the first movie.

Events are complicated by broadcasts from earth of a little girl struggling to survive, that reminds Newt of herself; and the terraforming of earth by a third party...This was Dark Horse's maybe fourth or fifth Aliens mini-series, and each had built off the last, but this does feel a little crammed. The continuity would be adjusted a bit afterwards: I think this was the last with Ripley, Hicks, and Newt; the next mini-series was Aliens: Genocide. This was also pretty early work from Sam Keith, who has done more Aliens work since.
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Friday, September 23, 2016

As is often the case, if I can pull a whole mini-series from the quarter bin, I'm kinda obligated to get it; and poor Hastings is almost all quarter bin at this point. Still, just because I got it for under a buck doesn't mean it isn't worth reading, right? From 2013, Hit #1-4, written by Bryce Carlson, art by Vanesa R. Del Rey.

This was set in Los Angeles, 1955; when some factions of the police were fighting crime on its own terms, as in with murder squads. Detective Harvey Slater leads one such team, wiping out mobsters that the law couldn't get otherwise; and seems to be having a pretty good time of it until one bad day:

I've read a middling amount of crime fiction, but it's not a period I seem to see that often in comics. (It reminded me of the movie L.A. Confidential, which I wouldn't mind seeing again now.) Hastings had a pile of assorted Boom! Studios titles in the back issue bins, but so far this was the only one I could find a full run of: doing a quick check, the Midas Flesh was eight issues, the Last Broadcast was seven, but I haven't seen all of either yet.
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Look, you can sort these into order later. Yourself.

The current plan is to slowly, eventually, blog all of Marvel's 1989 annuals, the Atlantis Attacks crossover. So far, in no particular order, we've covered four (and an issue of Quasar that tied into the What If? for this event) but now we hit a chapter I hadn't read: New Mutants Annual #5, "Here Be Monsters" Written by Louise Simonson, pencils by Rob Liefeld, inks by Tim Dzon.

So, I didn't read this one back in the day, because I've never been a fan of the New Mutants: the phrase "ah'm near invulnerable when ah'm blastin'" just makes my jaw clench up, for one thing. (I know I had Cable's first appearance, though; and New Mutants #100...) But this issue also ties into New Mutants #76, which I also hadn't read, guest-starring the Sub-Mariner in a fight for the Horn of Doom. You know, the one Subby blows to summon big, cool monsters, like that one that looks like Moby Dick with feet. (Giganto.) This time around, Ghaur and Llyra send some Deviants to steal the Horn, with they do from Namorita. Because the Deviants resemble some of the New Mutants, and Namorita knows about their recent encounter with Namor, she goes after them, accompanied by super-powered Atlanteans Sharkskin, Eel, and Undertow. Their group name was Surf, which doesn't really make sense: they were underwater all the time, they might see currents, but would they see surf? If they were a DC team, they'd probably get killed in a crossover, but Marvel's allowed Surf to sink into obscurity.

While the required Marvel-misunderstanding brawl rages, Ghaur blows the Horn, drawing a giant, poisonous, squid-monster to destroy Atlantis. Ghaur's sub does take a hit, and the Horn is lost, but he still declares this a pretty good sacrifice to Set. The combined heroes manage to stop the monster by burying it in an undersea trench, but while most of the Atlanteans are saved, the city is (once again) destroyed. This was chapter nine of fourteen, and we've looked at five now...I doubt we'll do this faster than we did with DC's Ghosts annuals, but you never know.
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