Friday, March 24, 2017

I've had the collections for Dark Empire and Dark Empire II for years: I didn't buy them new, but from a pawn shop in Missoula probably fairly close to when they were released. But I never found the collection for Empire's End, so the two singles for that stay on my bookshelf with the trades. From 1995, Star Wars: Empire's End #1-2, written by Tom Veitch, art by Jim Baikie.

I always thought it was weird that Marvel's adaptation of Return of the Jedi was only four issues, after Star Wars and Empire had both been six; and likewise I've always wondered why Empire's End was only given two issues to wrap it up, since both Dark Empires were six. It's a slightly bare-bones plot, though, even continuing from the previous series: the reborn Emperor Palpatine was struggling to stay reborn. He was down to his last clone body, and it was starting to disentegrate, and he needed Jedi genetic material for a new one. Moreover, with his new Galaxy Weapon capable of firing hyperspace missiles at any target, he should have the Rebels on the ropes; if not for shoddy workmanship: one missile hits within 50 yards of Han, Leia, and their kids, and doesn't explode! (At the very least, it probably should've caused explosive decompression.)

Several of the Jedis discovered during the first two series are killed off here, although Kam Solusar makes it; possibly because he was named after Dark Empire artist Cam Kennedy. Kind of wish Kennedy had drawn this, just for consistency.
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

It's an "Everything you know is wrong" story, but this was the time to do it.

We've seen a number of Demon appearances here over the years, and in them his level of badness has varied from Chaotic Good to eat-a-baby, full-on Belichick evil. Today the knobs go up to 11. From 1994, the Demon #0, "Zero Hour" Written by Garth Ennis, art by John McCrea. Despite the title and the tie-in, this didn't have much else to do with the crossover...

Jason Blood has just drank an elixir prepared by himself and Merlin, removing the mental blocks Etrigan had placed on Blood. Having eleven centuries of memories suddenly return would probably be bad enough, but eleven centuries of his crimes and sins may be more than his sanity can bear. In the year 560, Jason was a family man, with no interest in the possible fall of Camelot; but Merlin hears his grousing as treason. Likewise, Merlin's half-brother Etrigan has not been a great deal of help against Morgaine Le Fey, and Merlin knows he'll soon be unable to control the ambitious Demon. So, Merlin kills two birds with one stone, trapping Etrigan in Jason; driving both of them completely insane. Jason kills his family, then the Demon murders his entire village; earning them the name Jason-of-the-Blood.

Since Jason had been a good, if cynical, man; Etrigan has work on him to make a good host. He alters Jason's thoughts and memories to make him more amenable; making Jason a willing partner. Using Etrigan's power, Jason quickly amasses a massive fortune; but Etrigan's also making moves to keep advancing in the hierarchy of hell. After the brutal murder of a cardinal, Jason confronts Etrigan, and tells him no more; Etrigan alters his mind again. After more centuries of atrocities, Etrigan and Blood are invited to Hell to see Lucifer. (Described here as "a million miles away from the flake who will eventually quit his post.") Blood asks Lucifer where to go for new experiences and opportunities, and is told simply "west." Blood and Etrigan go to America, and commit about every horrible thing ever done in this country; until in July 1917, at a party Jason almost literally says "hold my beer" and leaves to wrap up the first World War. (Partly because he could, mostly for a million gold sovereigns.)

On August 1, 1917; Jason Blood is moved to save "a regiment of virgins," sad, doomed soldiers; and unleashes the Demon against the Germans. And the Demon even brings back-up, partly because he has advanced in rank to rhymer, partly because he felt Jason's deal didn't really do anything for him. After slaughtering the Germans, he does the same to the English; leaving ten thousand dead in the trenches. Jason loses his mind again, and the Demon is forced to erase his memory, but goes too far: everything from when Merlin joined them is forgotten. Jason believed himself to be a good man, struggling to get separated from Etrigan; piecing together clues over almost eight decades. Now, with Etrigan planning to unleash his son on Glenda and her unborn child, Jason has forced Merlin to show him the truth. (And in truth, Merlin was responsible for much of it!) All that saves Merlin, is that Jason needs Merlin's help to kill Etrigan...!

There was less than a year left of this book, before Ennis and McCrea moved on to Hitman, but I don't think the Jason vs. Etrigan plot ran the whole distance. Still, not unlike Marvel's Ghost Rider, every so often the Demon is portrayed as evil who happens to occasionally take out other evil, but not necessarily good...
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017


I've drawn those halfassed musical notes before, and they're always terrible. For terrible notes possibly, but still.

That Yondu's a nice figure; but would've been improved just a bit with an additional arrow to go in his holster. Still, pretty sweet.
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Although I loved Ennis and Dillon's first limited series, I almost stopped reading Punisher: MAX after the first story arc, when (spoiler alert!) Frank kills his old partner Microchip for turning on him. I foolishly thought after all their time working together, Frank might give him a pass; but he's not exactly the type to do that, is he? And even if Ennis wasn't strictly bound by continuity, Frank may have still been pissed about this one: from 1995, Punisher #100, "The Cage" Written by Chuck Dixon, pencils by Rod Whigham, inks by Rudy Nebres, Elman Brown, Mike Higgins, Scott Elmer, Mick Gray, Tim Tuohy, and Phil Sheehy.

Feeling Frank was out of control, Microship not only was working with a replacement Punisher, but goes a step further and traps Frank in the basement of an abandoned factory. (Micro had bought it years prior, presumably for use as a hideout or safehouse.) He's also reconstructed, as best he could from old photos, Frank's old house, where he lived with his wife and children before they were murdered. Micro left videotaped messages for Frank, in several locations, since Frank keeps blowing out the screens; but he wants Frank to see his old home movies and remember his family. (I am not positive what Micro thought this was going to do for Frank, but it's pretty apparent he thinks Frank was pretty far gone.)

Meanwhile, Microchip was running support for new, and helmeted, Punisher Carlos "C.C." Cruz; as they made multiple attempts on a surprisingly persistent Punisher foe, mob princess boss Rosalie Carbone. She had been introduced early in the Punisher: War Zone run, and had survived multiple encounters with Frank. Here, even though other mob bosses intended to take her out, she still manages to get out again; while C.C. is pushed off a cruise ship by one of Rosalie's bodyguards. Microchip calls Frank for help, but hears a shotgun blast on the other end...!

Rosalie Carbone was a Frank Dixon creation, with John Romita Jr, and would survive this run of Punisher titles; but would be killed off early in the next series by a guy who knew a little something about taking out characters, former Suicide Squad writer John Ostrander. She had terrible fashion sense, we've seen before, but Rosalie was pretty good about not taking any crap from the other mob bosses, you had to give her that. And along with a really shiny cover, this issue also had the Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation: Paid circulation, actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date; 75,300.
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Shiny covers, unexpected guest-stars, and fridging.

I know I had at least one other shiny Avengers cover from this time, but not sure about this one. I also don't usually scan the covers, but I wanted to see how the shiny came out. From 1993, Avengers #366, "The First Rule!" Written by Bob Harras, pencils by Steve Epting, inks by Tom Palmer.

The lead story continues the plot thread from Operation: Galactic Storm and Avengers #350: seeking vengeance for the death of the Supreme Intelligence, the alien Kree have captured several Avengers, and plan on using a Nega-Bomb to destroy earth. The team's lineup had changed somewhat since #350, with the addition of Deathcry and guest Magdalene, and returning members Giant-Man and Captain America. The back cover wonders, though, if Cap's old-school, non-fatal moral code wasn't outdated. Also, Cap wears an earpiece-mike set-up that seems to be glued to his cowl. Still, he'd be wearing a leather jacket later in the run...

Also this issue: "Swordplay 3" (Or rather, cubed.) Written by Glenn Herdling, pencils by Mike Gustovich, inks and colors by Ariane Lenshoek. Previously, the Black Knight's former squire, Sean Dolan, has taken the cursed Ebony Blade, and become the murdering Blood Wraith. After killing some criminals involved in Tolliver's scavenger hunt, Blood Wraith is crossed by Deadpool, who was also on the hunt. (From the first Deadpool limited series, "The Circle Chase.") The Black Knight gets in there too, for a three-way duel; which ends with former Dr. Strange supporting character Victoria Bentley stabbed and her soul taken by the Ebony Blade. Pool steals the sword, but the Blood Wraith recovers it, yet finds his bloodlust has momentarily been sated by Bentley's death; which keeps him from killing Pool. I know the Blood Wraith would go bad again--with a pretty hefty body count--so Bentley's sacrifice was pretty pointless; except that she may earlier have been positioned as a love interest for the Knight, who was at this point was involved in a love triangle with Sersi and Crystal.
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Admittedly, I do seem to be trying to "Accumulate Them All!"

"Ocean Powers Collection" ad by Gregg Schigiel, from the most recent issue of SpongeBob Comics, #66. May have to upload that cover later...

I never had any Super Powers figures as a kid: I had Superman, Batman, and Robin Mego figures, as well as Star Trek, then Star Wars figures through Empire; then nothing for a few years. Still making up for lost time here...I do remember seeing a Super Powers Green Lantern for sooooo cheap in a Kay-Bee Toys a couple decades back, and stupidly didn't buy one, even if the squirting power ring probably wouldn't have fit even my dainty fingers. And I do have a Super Powers Batmobile, now that I think of it...

Still, DC Universe Classics and the Four Horsemen paid a long tribute to Super Powers, revamping them all. Which is why you got the occasional oddball like Golden Pharaoh or Cyclotron. I've been missing my DCUC figures lately, though; even if I'd need another detolf to display them properly. Something to keep in mind, then; but have a good weekend!
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

As I pick up random comics, a lot of times I note here to pick up the next issue or the conclusion. This time, meh; even if I've got part seven of eight today. From 2006, Detective Comics #820, "Face the Ecaf, part 7 of 8" (I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be "Face the Face," right?) Written by James Robinson, layouts by Leonard Kirk, finishes by Andy Clarke.

We're coming to this one mid-stream, but I do remember this was the big storyline after Infinite Crisis, with Batman returning to action "One Year Later" after leaving Gotham to the care of former Two-Face Harvey Dent. Who has since been framed for murder (including that of the original Ventriloquist and the KGBeast, both jobbed out here) but Bats is working the case, even while he and Robin fight the Scarecrow, and hallucinations of the Thomas Wayne Bat-Man, the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Earth 2 Robin, and the Earth-Prime Superboy. Batman defeats the Scarecrow, as you might expect; but then trash-talks him, which surprised me.

Batman downplays that as "part of the game," to throw Scarecrow off next time; but it still doesn't sit well with me. He does praise Robin, Tim Drake, for getting past the fear gas and his nightmares so quickly; but Tim shrugs that off: he had lost so much, what was left? Batman does hint at an idea for what Tim could do next; but back at police headquarters, after explaining to Gordon how Dent was framed; Bats takes a moment to speak with a uniformed officer. Explaining he was trying to "undo past wrongs, not make new ones," he tells Officer Harper he knew something about her:

Despite his seeming desire to not make old mistakes, Bats gives her a slightly-nicer version of the "thou shalt have no vigilantes before me/Stay outta Gotham" speech he's given multiple times before. And he almost has a point: just because your grand-uncle was the Guardian or your third cousin was the Red Bee, doesn't mean you're a legacy and should join the Justice Society. It does feel a bit condescending, though.

Then, a Jack Ryder appearance! But only as a talking head on TV, breaking the news of Two-Face's return! Which was a foregone conclusion, wasn't it? Between that and Batman seemingly insuring the Scarecrow would come after him again by rubbing his nose in it, we're finally adding that tag for recidivism! Still, in-story Bats could be justified here: he, and we, know full well Scarecrow is going to get out someday, and Batman may want to make sure Scarecrow comes after him rather than someone that couldn't protect themselves. But overall, this issue didn't sit well with me.
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