Friday, June 22, 2018

The cover gives away the cliffhanger, and I think this was too early to do this story, but turns out I'm glad they did when they did. Huh? Oh, let's just look at 1994's Superboy #4, "Superboy: the Animated Series" Written by Karl Kesel, pencils by Tom Grummett and Mike Parobeck, inks by Doug Hazlewood and Ande Parks.
This was early in the series for the new, clone Superboy from Reign of the Supermen; and he was already taking a sick day. While he thought he was just under the weather from "inhaling volcanic gases" and overwork, telepathic D.N.Alien Dubbilex suggests maybe it might be this disease that was attacking clones? But he's shouted down by S.B.'s business manager Rex Leech (what, Funky Flashman wasn't available?) since it's time for cartoons! Namely, an early cut of a pilot for a Superboy cartoon!

The cartoon portions of the issue are of course in the style of Batman: the Animated Series...okay, with a lot less black, but still. And they're done by the Batman Adventures great penciler, Mike Parobeck! This issue would be the same month as Batman Adventures #20.

Superboy's supporting cast has a bone to pick with Rex, though: while he's portrayed as a billionaire philanthropist, Dubbilex is now his telepathic butler; and his daughter Roxy is currently "primordial slime." Although calmer about it, Dubbilex may actually be more upset, since he doesn't recall signing away his likeness rights. Superboy's actually wondering if he's even in the cartoon by the fifteen minute mark or so, but is told that's to build anticipation. And in the cartoon, he does have a cool cave, so there's that.

Superboy's other love interest, reporter Tana Moon, points out that no network would touch that cartoon, as it was far too violent. It may not matter, though, since Superboy has just passed out in the kitchen, and may have stopped breathing...also, from the way he landed, S.B. was very obviously drinking milk out of the carton, while sick. Well, he wasn't quite the hero he would be, at this point.

It seemed way too soon for the cartoon, but it does fit with a huckster like Rex trying to cash in quick. And this way, we got to see Parobeck do it, which works for me. We just saw the Harley Quinn pitch for Catwoman's cartoon, and No Man's Land: the Animated Series some time back, and I could've sworn there were other in-story B:TAS homages as well.

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Thursday, June 21, 2018

80-Page Thursdays: Justice League Quarterly #1!

It's been six months since our last 80-page Thursday--a whole month of Sundays, as Ben Grimm might've said. Today we've got a recent pick-up, that I'm pretty sure I've had at some point; that I've read but still have trouble remembering. Well, maybe this'll help! From 1990, Justice League Quarterly #1, "Corporate Maneuvers (and Leveraged Buyouts)" Written by Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Keith Giffen (layouts) and Chris Sprouse, inks by Bruce Patterson.

Maxwell Lord (long before his heel-turn) has noticed, in the course of observing former JLI member Booster Gold, that public relations "hard case" Claire Montgomery has approached several unknown or obscure superhero types: Gypsy, Vibe's brother Reverb, the recently introduced super-boy scout Maxi-Man, and others. (Including Praxis, who would get a serial in later issues; he amusingly doesn't show up on film...which makes him an odd choice for this particular team.) She's putting together a corporate-sponsored super-hero team; and unlike some previous attempt at that sort of thing, this Conglomerate is sponsored by multiple corporations, including LexCorp, Ferris Air, S.T.A.R. Labs, Stagg Chemicals...and some others I don't recognize. And at least two of those are evil, but okay. They make their first appearance stopping a rogue telekinetic from destroying a chemical plant of one of their sponsors; not realizing he may have been experimented upon there.

Somewhat surprisingly, Booster is the largest gloryhound of the group, but largely plays it straight; and even he gets fed up with being trotted out at parties and ad campaigns. After a coup in a South American country to put a ruler more amenable to corporate interests in power, and a standoff against the JLI; Booster is hoping for a mission he can be proud of, which turns out to be cleaning up a sponsor's oil spill; and he goes off on them to the press. The team's corporate liaison, to in turn 'clean up' after them, turns to longtime Green Lantern bad guy, Hector Hammond, to set up an unfortunate "accident."

There are a few interesting character bits in here, but maybe not enough: on the cover, Gypsy is giving J'onn an epic "Yes, dad" eyeroll; but I don't think they actually interact in the issue! But we know the Conglomerate wouldn't stick around long--at least, not with this lineup. And everyone involved seems really (perhaps willfully) naïve in thinking they can sell out to the man and still do good. (Perhaps slightly less so than it would in the Marvel Universe, where something like this would've been sponsored by Roxxon, Oscorp, Trask Industries...)
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Wednesday, June 20, 2018


I think Gwen referred to Pool's space trip as "dicking around" last week as well; and if I had been a little more on the ball editorially I would've changed the wording for one of them. Drawing a blank as to what right this second, though: I don't usually use "farting around," and "gadding about" doesn't quite fit. Anyway.

Deadpool's "There is a man with a typewriter" was of course from Christopher Priest's run, which I'm not sure gets the love it deserves. It does raise the ever-popular question, just how crazy is Deadpool? It can run from moderately insane, to it being an act or brave front that he puts on to deal with his problems, to multiple levels of brainwashing and/or PTSD. And that's before you get to the third wall breaking. When I play with him, Pool's a well-meaning if completely unhelpful goof with not a lot of impulse control. Which may not be how he's usually portrayed today, but eh, the wheel will spin again, I'm sure.

Pool also acts like he can see italics in the word balloons, but Gwen can definitely see the captions...

Oh, and don't search "X-Men World Tour" because you'll get some Mark Millar Ultimate thing, but back in the early Claremont day travel seemed to be a bigger deal for them than most other superhero teams. Sure, in a Justice League comic team members might go to Easter Island or whatever, but never for long...or with a lot of reference. I remember Steven T. Seagle specifically referencing that he was going to do the tour in his Uncanny X-Men run.
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Tuesday, June 19, 2018

This one didn't feel like snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, it felt like going even more out of your way to lose than that. Like helping load defeat in your own car...From 1985, Warlord #100, "Skartaris Unchained" Written by Michael Fleisher, art by Adam Kubert.

The Skartarans' war with New Atlantis had been running since 1983's Warlord Annual #2 and Warlord #74, but this would be the first issue with new writer Michael Fleisher, so I have to wonder if there was some editorial mandate to change directions. Still, there were elements like the cyclops wizard-king "Cycroth" (previously Cykroth) from previous writer Cary Burkett, so perhaps this was a planned conclusion.

At various points during the war, Travis's forces had included a pirate captain, oversized horned horses, and futuristic weapons; none of which come into play today! Instead, while Travis and Krystovar try to infiltrate New Atlantis; Mariah, Machiste, and Shakira do the same in Shamballah. The former fight past a giant crab, while the latter gain entrance in disguise. Mariah is recognized as "one of the Warlord's wenches!" but they're still able to disable the New Atlanteans' laser cannons. Travis's plan is to face Cycroth directly, but the bard Graemore, Tara's childhood love, follows in an attempt to help and instead is discovered and alerts the guards. Travis and Krystovar are forced to fight through, with Krystovar sacrificing himself so Travis could make it. (Krystovar had been introduced in Warlord Annual #2 as well, so him getting got really feels like they were trying to draw a line under this and close it off...)

Back at the base camp, Travis's daughter Jennifer prepared to help him with a "sorcerous shield to protect him against Cycroth's evil magic!" She's at a disadvantage working from a distance, but her shield keeps Cycroth from being able to kill Travis immediately. As Tara leads her forces to retake their home, Cycroth is forced to draw power from his subjects, sucking their lifeforce into himself, leaving them aged and presumably decrepit, easy prey. Travis catches a mystic blast that knocks out Jennifer--and his shield! And he already emptied his .44 Automag! Luckily, the already mortally wounded Graemore takes a stand against Cycroth, and immediately gets incinerated, but gives Travis the opening to throw his sword through Cycroth's eye. Well, he seemed more concerned about that than it sticking out of the back of his head.

The New Atlanteans are aged to death--or, presumably, to the point where they are easily murdered by the Skartarans they intended to enslave or slaughter. The beast-man Sabretooth--whose design I like better than Marvel's Sabretooth--is the last to go, killed by Machiste. Who seems really proud of it, holding up his decapitated head. How he did it with a mace hand, I'm not sure. But what should be a major triumph is immediately undercut, as Travis rides to the base camp, which is now overgrown and aged--as is Jennifer, now a withered crone!

Which would set up "Morgan's Quest," for the next sixteen issues. They were a little episodic, and hit-or-miss at best; although I have a soft spot for "Bride of Yaug!" We'll see if we get to that one, at least. Reading this has really made me want to sit down and read Cary Burkett's run straight through, though: the sci-fi elements were a little stronger, the dialogue a bit less purple...

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Monday, June 18, 2018

New computer, who dis?

I loved my old computer to death, almost literally. It was pretty rickety towards the end, so it'll be fun to have a new computer that will maybe work LIKE IT'S GODDAMNED SUPPOSED TO! Ahem, sorry.

Getting things set up today, back to work tomorrow!
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Friday, June 15, 2018

It's been eight years, but we're up to chapter 3!

Look, we'll finish "Blood and Thunder" sometime. Maybe. Today we're up to chapter 3, in 1993's The Warlock Chronicles #6, "Aftermath!" Written by Jim Starlin, pencils by Kris Renkewitz, inks by Pat Redding.

We open with Moondragon using the Mind Gem and her own telepathic powers, to try and unlock the memories of the amnesiac Maxam. It's less than successful, although she suspects his mental defenses and his powers were given to him. While Pip is willing to trust Maxam, since he helped out against the Goddess; Gamora is not. She had a vision from the Time Gem, of Maxam standing over Adam Warlock's body. She's willing to kill Maxam rather than take the chance, but Adam is willing to wait and see what happens; which she calls "a grotesque fascination with the man, almost like a death wish!" She may be not wrong...

Shortly thereafter, Maxam and Moondragon watch Drax the Destroyer...blow a mean sax. She recaps a bit of his history (which would be completely alien to his movie fans!) as he used to be her father...before she accidentally killed him, and he was resurrected with brain damage. Moondragon sounds like she's trying to rehearse a conversation she doesn't want to have, and knows isn't going to go well. After a slightly less uncomfortable conversation with Adam, Maxam talks to Pip, who decides to take him to a bar in New York City. A country bar.

Warlock checks out his Orb of Eternity, and sees Thor, and notices something wasn't right. (Namely, the imaginary Valkyrie with him.) Eternity appears to him, and Adam suspects Eternity wants something from him; but Adam wants something as well: he was trying to put superhumans in his debt, so he could call in the favor later. The usually emotionless, often dour Adam seems remarkably smirky about this.

On Monster Island, Gamora is increasingly fed up with everyone just doing whatever, but notices the depressed Drax, who wasn't invited to go with Pip and Maxam. At the country bar, the requisite fight breaks out, and Maxam is surprised at the locals' bigotry: either it wasn't a thing wherever or whenever he was from, or he just didn't remember. Although, it is hinted that he does remember anti-paranormal racism, and may be somewhat uncomfortable with the thought that he could be a mutant. No time for that now though: Adam calls Pip to transport him, into space, where Thor was about to kill the Silver Surfer!

We'll get to the end of this crossover someday! "Blood and Thunder" is collected...but don't, like, go nuts or anything. It's not the worst Marvel crossover I've ever read, but keep in mind I've read some doozies...

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

Maybe if one artist had drawn the whole thing. (The first artist!)

I've mentioned before my love of Batman: Year Two, and how I've always wished Alan Davis had drawn the whole thing, instead of dropping out with no explanation after the first issue and being replaced with Todd McFarlane. Today we've got the conclusion of another retelling of the hero's early days, started by an artist I really liked, then finished by someone else: from 1991, Conan the Barbarian #240, "The End Must Come" Written by "Justin Arthur" (Roy Thomas, per the GCD, and you can tell!) pencils by Gary Hartle, inks by Ricardo Villagran.

This was part nine of "Young Conan," which began in #232 written by Michael Higgins with art by Ron Lim. Lim would only stay on for four issues, though, since I think he was doing a ton of other books at the time as well. And this issue sees Higgins replaced by "Justin Arthur," actually original series writer Roy Thomas, which does not strike me as a show of confidence. The storyline is wrapped up fairly quickly: Conan is returned from the dead, but possessed by a demon, and knocks out his friend Jorrma and his girl Melanie and takes them to be sacrificed. The witch Acegra drops four pages of backstory, about her elaborate plot to wipe out Conan's bloodline before he destroyed her and her demon partner, and how Jorrma had been specifically bred for that purpose. Conan fights off the mind-control and refuses to kill his friend, but when the control switches to Jorrma, he isn't as strong, and accidentally kills Melanie. Jorrma then kills Acegra, and is then killed by the demon Nuraldin, who ages to death without Acegra before he can kill Conan. Conan lays his friends on a funeral pyre, and then rides on to what would be his first issue.

But the last five pages could be seen as a bit of revisionism, or at least an unreliable narrator, as this, and by inference all of "Young Conan," has been the older King Conan telling the story to his son Conn. Conn wants to hear "the Tower of the Elephant" next, but it's bedtime; but he mentions to his mom Zenobia how much he loves his dad's stories, "even if they change a little, every time he tells them." Zenobia asks Conan about that, pointing out some inconsistencies with earlier stories; which is such a Roy Thomas bit he could've signed it.

We've previously blogged one chapter of "Young Conan," but I could stand to re-read it. Or at least see if the Ron Lim issues are as strong as I remember; although I think I might've been disappointed that Conan only appears as a baby in the first chapter. That issue also features a very nice, very Barry Windsor-Smith looking cover; penciled by Michael Higgins...and inked by Jim Lee!
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