Friday, April 17, 2015

Forty-eight "When Titans Clash" entries in the GCD; I can't say this is the best one.

Long Island is on the verge of being floated out to see, in the hopes of being conquered and made a sovereign nation; but the Teen Titans still have time for a slapping match. From 1977, Teen Titans #52, "When Titans Clash!" Written by Bob Rozakis, pencils by Don Heck, inks by Bob Smith.

Facing the villains Captain Calamity and Mr. Esper, we have not one but two teams of Titans: a deep roster, but this predates popular members like Cyborg, Starfire, and Raven. Robin's team featured standards like Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, and Aqualad; along with newcomers Bumblebee, the Mal Duncan Guardian, and Harlequin, the "Joker's Daughter." (I don't know much about her, except that she almost definitely wasn't.) The second team's biggest name was probably Beast Boy, or Hawk and Dove; but also included Golden Eagle (not Hawkman), Lilith, Gnarkk (a defrosted caveman type?) and Bat-Girl. That's Bat-Girl with a hyphen, Bette (or Betty) Kane; who would be overshadowed by the Barbara Gordon Batgirl, yet DC still tries to shoehorn her into continuity here and there.

Esper had been stealing power from Lilith for his crimes, like moving Long Island. Wonder Girl stops the teams from fighting, and later knocks out Lilith, severing Esper's link to her. As Aqualad uses whales to move Long Island back where it belongs (even though he only showed up this issue planning on quitting) Robin, Harlequin, and Bat-Girl beat Captain Calamity, and discover he and Mr. Esper were one in the same. In the denouement, Robin explains Esper was probably "a product of Lilith's mental energy," but he doesn't seem to be especially interested in the case after putting him in jail.

Losing a bet, Robin springs for dinner and a picture of the combined Titans, although he may have just wanted one of himself, Bat-Girl, and Wonder Girl...

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

What do Spider-Woman and Bossk have in common?, not much, I'd imagine. Except that I managed to pick up both of them recently. I'm kind of caught up on figures right now, something I wouldn't have bet on considering how much I was sweating getting some of the latest Marvel Legends.

The ankles on the latest Marvel Legends women--Scarlet Witch, Captain Marvel, Hellcat, all of 'em--are giving me fits, though. Still trying to work them out.
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

"Planet Massacre."

Was Hydra ever scary until they took their uniforms off? At the very least, those uniforms made it really easy for Captain America to know who needed to be punched in the face repeatedly. Without the green hoods, movie-Hydra was able to bring down movie-S.H.I.E.L.D. But I suppose a distant planet really isn't the place for causal Friday...

Even though I've been back for a few days, I haven't really posted much new yet. Need to get back to work around here...
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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It seems like a reasonable system, until you're forced into it...

Deserved or not, the Legion of Super-Heroes had a bit of a reputation as jerks, especially during try-outs. Teenagers with super-powers would try to walk-on the team by demonstrating their abilities, usually to be shot down by the cool kids that already made the team. Admittedly, a lot of the try-out kids had powers that were utterly useless, occasionally dangerous, or at the very least unpracticed. (Breathing fire could be a completely legit power, if you don't show up at your audition with a cold and spewing napalm snot...) But what if a batch of kids tried out with better powers? Like today's book! From 1975, Superboy #212, "Last Fight for a Legionnaire" Written by Jim Shooter, art by Mike Grell.

A "would-be hero" leaves the Legion's headquarters after being rejected, and in a fit of rage turns his powers on the statue of the deceased Ferro Lad, launching it into the sky--and then putting it right back, his mind controlled by another reject! He's asked to join five other really built teens to "put the whammy on six Legionnaires!" Meanwhile, on a distant and noticeably unnamed planet, since it would've been a giveaway, a reluctant agent is given the assignment of bringing in a Legionnaire: "His days of freedom are over...even if the entire Legion stands in my way!"

Legionnaires Phantom Girl, Shrinking Violet, Chameleon Boy, Cosmic Boy, and Matter-Eater Lad come running to a telepathic summons from Saturn Girl, but it wasn't from her. Reject Esper Lass summoned them all, her powers stronger than Saturn Girl; and that is the core of the rejects' argument: they were all denied membership due to a Legion by-law that said only one member with a particular power. (Superboy and Supergirl being exceptions, and Mon-El had much of the same powers...) The rejects challenge the team, and their powers are all stronger then the established heroes! With the exceptions of Phantom Lad and Micro Lad, they may just be sexist jerks. Matter-Eater Lad's opponent, Calorie Queen, actually has more powers, since her scientist father gave her super-strength! As strong as three men, which means even if she made the Legion, she still wouldn't even be like the fifth choice to help move a couch; but still impressive.

Superboy breaks up the rejects' attack, showing them the door; but an angry Cosmic Boy tells him to butt out, as he and Chameleon Boy tell the rejects they'll settle this after school tomorrow morning. Supes and Karate Kid stand watch as their friends face the rejects, but the fight begins with Matter-Eater Lad turning tail and running! Running to bite into a flagpole and drop it on Calorie Queen, tying her up with the Legion's glow-in-the-dark flag! The rest of the rejects are beaten by the Legionnaires switching up on them: Chameleon Boy beats Magno Lad, Shrinking Violet clocks Phantom Lad, and so on. The Legion thinks it taught those kids that "Super-Heroes win because of teamwork!" It may have just taught them "Being a jerk works," since several of the rejects would go on to join the Legion of Super-Villains, who seemed to have a far more democratic acceptance policy ("Got super-powers? Wanna be bad? Welcome aboard!") and had several try-out rejects as members...

Before the team can celebrate their victory, the agent comes for...Matter-Eater Lad, who is drafted by his homeworld! Superboy is astonished, since M-E Lad's planet Bismoll didn't even have an army; but the agent explains they draft candidates for political office, and he had been chosen to run for representative. An odd position, since presumably he'd be representing a district he hadn't visited in several years...He would be described as Senator Tenzil Kem later, and would probably end up president; despite having seemingly no interest and less aptitude for politics. As he leaves, Matter-Eater Lad graciously suggests the team look at Calorie Queen again as a potential member, but nothing came of that and the Legion would do without a member that could eat anything for many years. Jerks.

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Some time back, we checked out a Superman comics with some grisly deaths at the hands (or rather, laser-eyes...) of the Parasite. It occurred to me that there were a somewhat surprising number of grotesque kills in those old issues, so let's check out some more! From 1977, Superman #317, "The Killer with the Heart of Steel!" Written by Martin Pasko, art by Curt Swan and Dan Adkins, and a very dramatic cover from Neal Adams!

Inside State Caverns, the cyborg Metallo has defeated Superman, leaving him lying in the fragments of Metallo's shattered Kryptonite heart. Still, he can't hang out to watch Supes die, very busy, stuff to do, schedule to keep; and of course Superman is able to crawl to an underground stream and save himself by being floated away from the Kryptonite. Supes is somewhat at a loss as to what the endgame is here, though: several Skull agents (a super-crime organization) were murdered, their hearts seemingly teleported away and replaced by green-painted rocks--fake Kryptonite! Skull had created Metallo, but the presumed-dead cyborg returned with a vendetta against the organization and a lead mask protecting his identity. Throw in the disappearance of S.T.A.R. Labs scientist Dr. Albert Michaels and his mysterious secret invention, and Superman hadn't put all the puzzle pieces together yet. (That is a nice recap sequence, especially since I haven't read the prior issue!)

On his way back to Metropolis, late at night, Superman sees an armored car, suspiciously made of lead. Stopping the car, he finds two Skull agents, one of whom takes a shot with a bazooka. Superman is dismissive, until the agent explains the missile's warhead is anti-matter! As Superman stops the missile (which he says would have blown up the universe!) Metallo kills the agents using Michaels' invention, a matter-teleportation ray. Metallo wanted revenge on Skull for making him "a half-human monstrosity!" and Michaels had been a secret Skull agent. As Metallo finds Superman had escaped State Caverns, Superman examines the Skull agents' bodies and checks out the armored car: it's full of hundreds of pounds of Kryptonite, formed into ingots like gold bars!

Supes berates himself for not being Batman and figuring this all out yet, since his only clue seems to be that Metallo strikes between 4 and 6 AM. At the WGBS building, Clark Kent's new producer, Martin Korda, gives him the script for that night's newscast, but says the script will have to be updated with the news of the latest deaths. Meeting with Lois Lane, Clark realizes she just filed that story--but Korda knew about it an hour earlier! That, the books on heart transplants and cybernetics, and a chance remark by Lois help him come to the conclusion, or at least leap to a guess.

Later that night, at a secret base under a piano bar, three Skull agents meet at a secret base...with a sweet skull meeting table. These three were all that was left of Skull, although they tend to talk like they were still part of an organization, with larger plans involving Kryptonite falling to earth again...Metallo attacks Skull there, but is quickly met by Superman--which is according to Metallo's plan! Using the teleporter, he steals Superman's heart, replacing it with Kryptonite! As Superman's body turns green, both the just-arriving Lois and Metallo act as if the Kryptonite is what's killing Superman, not shock or his blood leaking into his chest where his heart was. Metallo even jokes no one could put the heart back, since you couldn't perform surgery on an invulnerable body.

Before Metallo can finish murdering the Skull agents, someone melts everyone's guns; then the cops that have surrounded the building follow Superman's instructions...and use their car-radios? Which works, as Metallo collapses, his robotic body seizing up. As Lois cries over Superman's corpse, he gets up and casually asks if he can wipe off the green makeup he put on at super-speed. Using a dead Kandorian's heart (!?) Superman used that speed to give Metallo's a Kryptonian heart and put his Kryptonite one in a lead box, then played dead. Supes had realized Metallo and the teleporter ray both were receiving power broadcasted from a central source, which is why the killings were late at night, and why Metallo had lured Superman to State Caverns: the better to avoid interference from radio and TV. I thought Metallo was running off Kryptonite power, but computers being what they were in the seventies, he may have needed outside operating support broadcast to him--except that doesn't explain how Metallo could've worked at WGBS in his assumed identity of Martin Korda! Metallo needed Lois's notes on Skull to track them down, but seems like bit of a plot hole there.

After Superman explains everything, one of the Skull agents grabs Lois, with his hold-out gun: Dr. Michaels! He escapes using the teleporter, swearing to rebuild Skull...and he would a couple of times, as he would later become the Atomic Skull!

The issue ends with Morgan Edge announcing at a staff meeting that the real Martin Korda had been found, and would be joining the staff after he had recovered. Oh, and Clark's new co-anchor for the six o'clock news would be...Lana Lang! Who called everyone "luv" during this period, and may have spoken with an affected, and fake, accent to hide the fact she was from Smallville like Clark. I don't think she came off especially well then.
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Friday, April 10, 2015

"Uncle Creeper."

I wasn't 100% thrilled with this one--too much tell, not enough show. Probably could've used another draft or six. If I worked with an artist, I'm sure I could give him some exciting, pain-in-the-ass to draw description to work with; but I am more limited here. But, still on vacation, although I should be back in the neighborhood on Monday!
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Thursday, April 09, 2015

"The Savage Sword of Spider-Man (2099)"

I don't know if it's intentional, but I like that Spider-Man 2099 came packed with Hobgoblin's flaming sword: it may be a callback to his first action figure, which came with a big flaming battle axe!
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Got a case of Spider-Man figures last week, but not much time to play with them yet. But Daredevil there isn't bad. He and Hellcat's batons, though...a bit limp.
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