Monday, July 15, 2019

Generic Blog Post.


I don't remember my family buying any, but I do remember generic packaging being a fad in the 80's. Instead of a brand name or even store brand, the generic alternatives were in a plain white label, with nutritional information, a bar code, and that was about it. The theory was the generic options would be less expensive, even though they were often produced by the same factories that made the fancier versions. I'm actually hard pressed to remember ever seeing any in hand, honestly. This one I thought was just a joke when I saw it on the Mighty Marvel Checklist, even if it was in the Hype Box! From 1984, Generic Comic Book #1. There aren't credits, but per the GCD it was written by Steve Skeates. Somewhat appropriately, my copy is slightly dented and has an aftermarket price tag on it; but as a direct market book it doesn't have a proper UPC code! I don't know if there were newsstand copies.

The ad copy promises a super hero and a villain, and it does deliver, without a lot of frills. Our nameless hero is a hard-luck case in the vein of Spider-Man, before even getting his powers: while he was engaged and his parents were alive, he wasn't making enough money for his own home or to afford an operation for his comatose little brother. (Can't afford to move out of his parents' or healthcare? I'm surprised this hasn't been repackaged as Millennial Comic Book #1. It's just as tired of a joke.) He even gets mugged on his way home, which leads to him taking out his anger on his beloved Three Mile Island snow globe. He had collected radium-covered glow-in-the-dark trinkets for years, which finally ends up giving him powers now: your standard super-strength, super-speed, and so forth, along with white hair.

At his nondescript office, our hero gets the hassle from his immediate supervisor, who hates him; and a rather forward co-worker. After a check-in with the villain of the piece, the hero goes to Super Hero Suits of Flushing Inc. for a suit, and has to go with the generic white option. He's able to stop a few muggers, but the bad guy's hypno-helmet makes him doubt himself, and he gets knocked out. Regrouping with a plan, the hero finds the bad guy and his thugs robbing his office, and stops them, since he had recorded a little positive affirmation for himself to counter the hypnosis. Things are looking up for our hero...for about three panels. In the Mighty Marvel Manner, he suffers a reversal after that: his boss had set up the robbery, to cover his embezzlement. With him arrested, the hero's supervisor was now running the office, so he could forget that promotion. In utter despair, he realizes he's actually worse off than he was before becoming a super-hero. That's a bit of a down ending, but it's also a quintessential Marvel ending, isn't it? The hero beats the bad guy, finds himself even more screwed: No spoilers, but they even recently ended a movie like that.

I read this thing again to post this, and were there jokes in it? Did they just not land for me? Or was this played largely straight? The bit with the muscles popping had to be a joke...But as far as a lot of the plot and the supporting characters go, you would see versions of them in tons of Marvel (and other) comics, for years. Also, I'm hoping Moon Knight isn't the generic superhero outfit with a couple after-market add-ons and a hood. Another blogger did a pretty good takedown of this one here, so check it out for more scans.
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Friday, July 12, 2019


The cover makes it look like this one's going to be a no-holds-barred, 12-round slobber-knocker of a brawl. In actual fact, it gets four pages; one more than an imaginary story and the same as a subplot about his daughter! From 1987, Captain Atom #5, "The Return of Dr. Spectro" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Pat Broderick, inks by Bob Smith.

Several plotlines are running at once here, not necessarily to collide soon, either: a reporter reads her boss a story from Captain Atom's biography, featuring a battle between him and Dr. Spectro. Supposedly, they had fought many times in the years when the Captain had operated in secret, but that was a cover story cooked up by the government, to more quickly sell the public on their hero. No way that could backfire on them...cleverly, the 'flashback' stories featured the classic Ditko look for the Captain. The reporter wants to find Dr. Spectro and get his side of the story for a tell-all book. Following a lead, she finds the former assistant of the Rainbow Raider, who denies everything, but then seems awfully interested in the advance for the book.

Meanwhile, in his civilian identity, Nathaniel Adam takes his daughter to the carnival: they're getting along fine, even if the age difference is weird. Since Adam was launched forward in time when he got his powers, they were only five years apart now! And his daughter's stepdad was his boss, General Eiling, who calls him back to duty early to appear at an air show. The Captain grins and bears it, but some of the audience isn't impressed; among them Ronnie Raymond, half of Firestorm! When an automated jet seems to go haywire, Ronnie interrupts Professor Stein's lunch in order to leap into action as Firestorm! Completely unnecessarily: the jet was just a demonstration, and Captain Atom stops Firestorm from intervening, then suggests he "lighten up!"

Nathaniel's fellow officer Jeff seems to have realized his secret identity; while the reporter finishes her interview with "Dr. Spectro" only to be told by her editor it was a scam! The "disinformation scandal" was breaking, all of Captain Atom's history was going to be revealed as fake, and the reporter is kicking herself for getting snowed by the Doctor. Only, while he had made the whole thing up from her idea, he now had actual super-villain stuff, and kills the reporter, becoming Dr. Spectro for real...

This reminded me a bit of the first X-Factor stories, when they were pretending to be mutant hunters in order to save mutants: a cover story that's such a whopper of a lie it's hard to believe they could be surprised when it falls apart. And it falls apart quick! Meanwhile, Pat Broderick had done more than a few issues on Fury of Firestorm, so this was a seamless fit there. But Firestorm's status quo might've drastically changed the next time he saw the Captain; we may have to see some other time.
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Thursday, July 11, 2019

80-Page Thursdays: Superman Family #190!


From 1978, Superman Family #190, "The Museum of Eternity" Story idea by Tom DeFalco and E. Nelson Bridwell; written by DeFalco, Bridwell, Gerry Conway, Bob Toomey, Paul Kupperberg, and Jack C. Harris; with art by Jack Abel, Ken Landgraf, Juan Ortiz, Win Mortimer, Kurt Schaffenberger, and more.

This was the last 80-pager for this title, and they went out with a "full-length Superman family novel!" that ran through all the usual features: Krypto, Nightwing and Flamebird, Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane. Oh, and Superman too. Although King Cougar's gang just tried to wack him at the Daily Planet, Jimmy has a bigger story drop in his lap when a call from his dad drops off: his entire hometown of Hartsdale has disappeared! Not due to an entire generation leaving rural America for the promise of better paying jobs and social opportunities in urban areas, literally disappeared. Jimmy suspected Brainiac, but knew he was in "space prison!" Still, after seeing a rabbit hop through a dimensional rip, Jimmy watches an armed alien come through, and can 'hear' him telepathically. The alien takes a shot at him, and Jimmy responds with a pretty impressive kick to the face. Helping himself to the alien's clothes, he investigates the rip and discovers an alien museum, with dozens of habitats stolen from earth. After he overhears the aliens planning a Kryptonian exhibit, Jimmy decides maybe it's time to call in Superman, but is discovered and jumped by the returning first alien. Desperate, Jimmy activates his signal watch, and throws it through the rip.

Meanwhile, Superman watches Lois Lane wave from Kandor: wearing special "gravity boots" to survive the Kryptonian conditions, she was visiting to get an interview with "Golden Age great" TNT. (Looking it up, post-Crisis TNT died in WWII. Possibly several different times...) Hearing Jimmy's watch, Supes investigates the empty site of Hartsdale, finds Jimmy's watch, and wrestles open a shrinking dimensional rip; which takes him to a methane-filled environment filled with angry green locals. Following more rips to different earth settings, Superman starts to wonder if he's being led, as he's weakened by an orange sun habitat. One of the aliens, calling himself "an apprentice curator of the preservers" takes a shot at him; to lure Superman into charging with him into a red sun area--and Superman recognizes the buildings there, from Kandor!

With Kandor enlarged, Lois is by Superman's side shortly, with Nightwing and Flamebird arriving shortly thereafter. But the curators send in a "purifier" robot, for Lois, since she doesn't belong in the Kryptonian exhibit. While the guys get clobbered, Lois figures out how to work her gravity boots like the Atom's weight controls, and is kicking the robot's ass, until it dissolves her boots and she can't even stand up in the higher gravity. Lois gets thrown into a cell next to Jimmy, with a robot getting ready to dissect them both; but Lois fakes being knocked out and kicks out the robot's optics. Chased by the purifier, Lois throws it into a generator, destroying it. Jimmy has information gleaned from the aliens' minds: the captives are exhibits in a cosmic museum, prevented from breaking out by a telepathic mental block. While they try to reach Kandor on a stolen hovercraft, the aliens threaten to retaliate against earth...in forty minutes or so, I guess.

Meanwhile, Krypto has also been captured, and is sent to the Kandor exhibit in a laser cage; which begs the question why cage him inside a bigger cage? Nightwing and Flamebird use their science to get Krypto out, and gear him up: the mental block doesn't affect him, so he can go from exhibit to exhibit. While he can't find the big machine to smash and get everyone out, he does find Jimmy and Lois, who want him to take them back to Kandor. But, in case there weren't enough problems, the Phantom Zone criminals have also been released in Kandor! Flamebird had actually spent some time 'inside,' so his old cellmates are thrilled to see him. While none of them have powers now, the Phantom Zoners want out pretty bad, but unlike Ver-Na, a wanted separatist leader, they don't seem to realize they've left one cage for another. Ver-Na considers it worse than the bottle, and agrees to help. Flamebird faces off against Jax-Ur in single combat to decide it, and while beating him explains how they're stuck.

By now, Superman has realized the aliens have taken all of the survivors of Krypton, except three: Supergirl and her parents, who were returning to the Fortress of Solitude. (Supergirl's mom mentions returning to Kandor, how they could enlarge to come and go I don't know.) Getting a message from a Jimmy Carter-resembling president, Supergirl heads to the Hartsdale site, and re-opens the dimensional rip and enters. Krypto, Lois, and Jimmy stop her just before she enters the Kandor habitat and gets trapped. Still, since there was an opening (to lure her in) Krypto is able to go in and bring Superman over to it. They try to form a chain, but they're only able to pull Superman out. But, with his powers back, Superman is able to help Supergirl bring more over; including some of the criminals. The aliens are no match for multiple powered Kryptonians, and are beaten soundly.

Supergirl points out they can't return cities stolen from the past to the present; there would be massive culture shock, as well as there may be other cities in their place now. Finding an uninhabited earthlike world, she suggests they settle it with the former exhibits, placing them all far enough apart they won't interact right away. And then the recall button (or whatever) is pressed, and everyone is back where they belong: Hartsdale, Kandor, the Phantom Zoners, even Krypto.

I may have to check out the next issue here soon, since I remember the cover for it from a house ad. I don't remember if it was hyping the intro of a Superboy feature, or because the page count was dropping to 64.
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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

"Tow."



It had been a month since the last Pool and Kurt strip? Weird. That may have been because I did a couple that didn't fit in there, and scheduled them for later.

Almost at the end here, the flash on my beloved, and ancient, Canon SD600 died! How will I overexpose things now? Okay, my two settings were pitch black or overexposed. I took a couple pictures with my phone--actually several pictures, before getting a couple passable ones. Technically the phone may be a better camera, I just don't like it as much.

And we left Moon Knight in space with Man-Wolf and Gwenpool about a year ago; so I figured I'd better put him back. I think Man-Wolf and Gwen could be there with him, and they still wouldn't believe him. Or stop trying to medicate him. Gwen and Manny might even help...I actually don't know if I've seen Moon Knight and Daredevil together that often, but I definitely can see DD being sick of his nonsense.

Nighthawk gets called up because they needed a fourth for bridge.


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Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Hey, a recurring villain for Jonah Hex...ooh, maybe not.


On the Fourth of July, I picked up, um, like 120 books from the EntertainMart the next town over. Among them, two issues of Jonah Hex, and luckily they were consecutive issues, since this was a two-parter! From 2009, Jonah Hex #40, "Sawbones: the First Half" and #41 "Sawbones: the Second Half" Both written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by David Michael Beck.

The titular Sawbones is, as his name implies, a Civil War-era surgeon; albeit one that's turned serial killer on purpose as opposed to just accidentally while practicing. When a girl escapes and gives an account to the law, a wanted poster is drawn up that finds its way to Jonah Hex, who had heard tales about a Confederate doctor that put his skills to work torturing prisoners for information or escaped slaves for fun. While some Confederate officers hated him, Jonah has to admit more than a few were glad to work with him, and he had left a pile of bodies in his wake before disappearing. Jonah isn't positive it's the same guy, "but ah'll make sure ta ask him before he dies."

Unluckily for Hex, he rides into a bloodbath that wasn't his doing--for a change. He catches a bullet at the end of a particularly violent vendetta killing that ends with a bar full of people dead and the bar itself on fire. Good thing there's a doctor nearby to fix him up...uh-oh. Finding the wanted poster on him, Sawbones does sew Hex up, then a bit of torture while going on about how much they have in common. Still, Sawbones has to go into town to pick up his new students; so Hex is left bound and gagged, giving him the chance to escape by smashing through a timber with his own body. Badly injured, Hex falls in the river, but gets hung up in the branches of a fallen tree, and is then found by recurring foil/love interest Tallulah Black! Who offers to take Hex to a doctor. He politely declines.

Incidentally, the news of the end of Mad Magazine just broke; so of course the big ad for it in this one depresses the hell out of me. Weirdly, I had just bought an issue recently, with the reprint of Plop! There were also ads for Street Fighter, Dragon Ball Z Halo, and Resident Evil; all of which are still trucking along in one format or another. There was also an Esurance ad for a Star Trek contest--man, Esurance ads used to be everywhere, I had to look up if it was still a thing. And an ad for the Nicholas Cage movie Knowing, which has a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes but Roger Ebert liked it? It also feels like that was the last ad money spent on Nicholas Cage movies, now they just appear...

On to the next issue, and this may be a tough one if you're adverse to dream sequences: seven of the twenty-two pages here are Hex's nightmares, first of being captured by Sawbones. He wakes up with the standard scream, but Tallulah has been taking care of him. Hex is, ahem, grateful.

That puts Hex out for another four days, during which he has a nightmare of Tallulah going after Sawbones and getting herself killed. Hex tells her not to follow him as he goes after Sawbones, and Tallulah agrees: "I reckon ya got to git un-haunted. That's a thing ya need ta do alone." "Damn right." But she does follow him, and has to save Hex agin--er, again--when he's caught spying on Sawbones and his students. Said students are gunned down in short order, and Tallulah shoots Sawbones in the knee--which probably would've blown the leg clean off, but okay. Jonah then tortures the living crap outta Sawbones, admitting he might enjoy this, but he never cut up little girls for fun. Jonah and Tallulah are acting like this is a particularly fun date night, which is somewhat grotesque, but you can't say Sawbones didn't have it coming. Maybe Tallulah should've got cover billing on the second part, though, she does like 90% of the work; and probably for less than half the pay.
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Monday, July 08, 2019

Hey, it's the secret origin of...that thing!


The second chapter of this two-parter has two goals: get the Black Knight back to the 20th century, and continue the secret origin of the Evil Eye!...look, it's Marvel, you know somebody had to be clamoring for it. From 1982, Avengers #226, "An Eye for an Eye" Written by Steven Grant, pencils by Greg LaRocque, inks by Chic Stone.

Previously, Dr. Druid had sent several Avengers back to the dark ages and the other-dimensional Avalon, and he was in a trance at Avengers Mansion, along with the hypnotized Iron Man. One of the Fomor, Bres, was going to kill them, but is stopped by the sudden appearance of Thor and She-Hulk: they had seemingly been disintegrated by the Fomor giant Balor, but actually the spell keeping them in the past was just disrupted; She-Hulk throws Iron Man at Bres to take him out. (Double-checking: we don't see Iron Man regain consciousness--or at all!--the rest of this issue.) Meanwhile, in the past, the Avengers are down to Captain America, the Wasp, and Hawkeye against Balor; so the Black Knight charges into battle on his bat-winged steed (I'm guessing Valinor--Aragon was white with fluffy feathers) against the advice of druid Amergin.

After the Avengers and the Fomor regroup, Amergin almost has time to tell them Thor and She-Hulk weren't dead, when he's interrupted by the next attack and teleports to face Balor alone. It's not as foolhardy as it sounds, though: Amergin plans on sucking Balor's power--and possibly his literal eye, it's tough to say--to power up the Evil Eye, a mystic weapon/doohickus first seen way back in Fantastic Four #54 or so. (Somewhat disturbingly, Balor pleads that he'll be good, if Amergin will let him go.) In the fight, Balor is turned into energy and stored in the Eye, Amergin is mortally wounded, the Fomor are trying to escape to earth and the Avengers are in pursuit, and the Knight ends up sacrificing himself by using the Eye to seal Avalon off. Cap and the others are returned to Avengers Mansion, where Dr. Druid gives them no apology whatsoever for shanghaiing them for this mission, but they're all dismayed by the mystic vision of the Black Knight's corpse.

The vision then shifts to Garrett Castle, though; where the stone remains of the Knight's body reform, Amergin's final gift to him. Even sent him Valinor, too! Hawkeye immediately wants to give the Knight a call, but Druid suggests maybe just let him know you were alive, and hold off on anything else. Presumably leaving it open, if readers demanded it, for the Knight to join the team. Did readers demand it? He would eventually, but is that because they received a ton of mail, or because a couple years later Roger Stern was like, eh, why not? I'm also not certain if the Fomor were destroyed, or just stuck somewhere; and what happened to Bres? Was he sent back to the 12th century or whatever, or 20th century jail? So many questions, most of which can be written off with, "magic," so let it go.
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Friday, July 05, 2019

Our fourth annual Ghost Rider Annual...


...and yet I don't think we've seen a number three yet, they're numbered like Milk & Cheese! From 2008, Ghost Rider Annual #2, "A Town Called Mercy" Written by Simon Spurrier, art by Mark A. Robinson, color art by Raul Trevino.

The helpful recap page brings us a bit more up to speed on the current Ghost Rider status here: Johnny Blaze had discovered Ghost Rider was really a weapon of Heaven, bonded to him by the rogue angel Zadkiel. I'm not sure if Zadkiel's motives were clear, but Blaze wanted revenge for the wreck of his life. This month, Blaze visits the small town of Mercy, Idaho; which has recently become a combination of the Aokigahara "suicide forest" and the Mothman: suicidal people have been drawn there, and their bodies were sometimes found after an "angel" sighting. The town is not especially enthusiastic about the increase in tourism; a deputy tries to warn off Blaze, who doesn't scare, but has a dream about an angel of mercy, then wakes up to see a girl go into the forest. Blaze follows, but is stopped by the deputy, then the sheriff; but hearing a scream Blaze transforms into Ghost Rider: they find the girl, dead; her dying words that something cut her.

Going out hunting for the 'angel,' the sheriff sends the deputy back for ammo when his piece is empty, then asks Blaze if he thinks suicide should be a mortal sin. Blaze defers to answer that, but says he does think the deputy's gun was loaded earlier...and he had seen blood on the sheriff's hands before he got to the dead girl. The sheriff reveals himself to be a frankly terrifying fallen angel--with a very Evangelion design, I thought. The angel very nearly kills Blaze, who is just frustrated that if he dies, Zadkiel would go unpunished. The returning deputy manages to distract the angel enough for the Rider to down it; then it tells its story: a former gatekeeper of Heaven, he did not fight Zadkiel, but was punished for questioning if suicide should be a sin. He felt those who had already suffered enough should be allowed into Heaven, and was cast out for it. The angel had been sending those souls to Heaven, and could've sent Blaze there to face Zadkiel, but he can't if Blaze doesn't fight him: "Otherwise, it's suicide." The scorched angel is no match for the Ghost Rider, and is killed after a short fight.

For good measure, or to eat up space, this one also features a reprint of Ghost Rider #35, "Death Race!" Story and art by Jim Starlin, with additional inks and finishes by Al Milgrom, Mike Nasser, and Steve Leialoha. Ghost Rider has to beat Death, or "Death Ryder," in three races. It's pretty good! Although it was issue #35, for little reason it's set between issues #13 and #14, except that I guess more weird stuff happened earlier in the series. Jesus shows up, have to race Death across the desert, whatever...(Actually, it's because Johnny was a bit more in control at that time.)
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