Friday, May 29, 2020

Taking a day, but we learned something!

Randomly taking a day off from work, which doesn't necessitate a day of from blog, yet here we are! Still, we did, also by random chance, find our friend Rattletrap in an episode of Ninja Sentai Kakuranger on Pluto TV's Tokushoutsu! He's really the Black Shogunzord, or Giant Beast General Black Gammer. The chestpiece looks a little different but his little face is unmistakable. Yay!

(Aside: I've mentioned that I watch a lot of Tokushoutsu, and I love it. I do wish I could opt out of some of Pluto TV's ads, since there are a couple for conservative news channels that are repugnant garbage. The amount of right-wing talking points I'm interested in hearing is less than none. You can say I'm in my little echo chamber or whatever; I absolutely do not care.)

I had a nice walk yesterday, and am hoping for the same today: all the best for you, and back Monday!

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Thursday, May 28, 2020

I haven't read the most recent Mister Miracle series, although I've heard it might not be the most upbeat. So today we've got a more cheerful one! From 2012, Batman: the Brave and the Bold #15, "No Exit" Written by Sholly Fisch, pencils by Stewart McKenny, inks by Dan Davis.

Based on the animated series, this team-up opens with Batman conceding Mister Miracle to be the superior escape artist; but he's no slouch himself. They find themselves trapped in a featureless steel room, with no idea how they got there or where they are; but since they have all their gear it's time to start escaping. The heroes run a marathon of trap after trap after trap after trap...even without a lot of breathers, after day seven they may realize something isn't right.

Batman points out his cape was ripped in the first escape but isn't now; not to mention they haven't eaten or slept in all that time. It's all in their heads, courtesy of Dr. Bedlam and Desaad: Bedlam bails shortly after they wake up, while even Desaad is afraid of what Bats could do to him. Darkseid is mildly annoyed the heroes wouldn't break, and takes a shot at them with the Omega Effect, but Mr. Miracle is able to Boom Tube him and Batman back to earth. Batman wonders if Miracle might not be a spark of hope to the Lowlies or Hunger Dogs that witnessed their escape. Yeah, like Darkseid didn't murder the crap out of them immediately. Well, that's kind of a down note.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2020


Hey, I--um, I mean, they--found a cop! One we haven't seen for some time--strike that, we saw this particular officer in 2016 with Misty Knight! We'll put aside how 2016 feels like a happy little memory now...

You absolutely should take the doors off a refrigerator before throwing it away: the worry is that small children might get stuck in it playing hide-and-seek or something. Which seems particularly unlikely as I sit here today, but apparently used to happen often enough that numerous safety films were produced and designed to traumatize kids out of that notion. It would be a bad way to go and horrible for whoever finds the body, but did it happen that often? Apparently, in the fifties. My childhood fridge had a magnetic door, that was surprising that it stayed shut at all; so as a kid I wondered what the fuss was about. But, fridges used to have latches only openable from the outside; or if something were to fall in front of the door and block it...yuck. Take the door off. Somebody on Twitter mentioned, if they made safety movies for COVID like they did for stuff like this; people would social distance right. (Even if you tried this with actors and sets, it would probably involve exposing a fair-sized crew; which I couldn't recommend.)

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Kaine would be like the Player-3 version, but I wouldn't say that to his face.

One of the last comics I picked up before the quarantine was Conan: Battle for the Serpent Crown #2 (which I may have to scan the cover for!) which featured guest-star the Scarlet Spider getting, to use the wrestling parlance, mercilessly jobbed by Conan. (Written by Saladin Ahmed, art by Luke Ross.) Conan's partner Nyla (a deep-cut from Ann Nocenti's Daredevil) hits Scarlet with a flare for the assist; but it's a cheap loss. Kind of feel like the Kaine Scarlet Spider might've done better, though. So let's check out a comic with them! From 2018, Ben Reilly: the Scarlet Spider #22, written by Peter David, art by Will Sliney.

I don't recall all his backstory, but Kaine was a meaner clone of Peter Parker, but was also trying to redeem himself under the Scarlet Spider moniker. He seemed to be doing a better job than Ben, though, since the recap page mentions Ben trying to avoid damnation, so...Kaine also had some bonus powers, like invisibility and maybe bone claws? We don't see those this time, but I seem to recall his figure had them. Trailing a military convoy to a secret base in the suburbs, Kaine is confused, then runs into a guard dog. A two-headed one!

Getting past the dog for the moment, outside a door labeled "work room," Kaine notices a strange smell: cotton candy, specifically from Coney Island. It's a fond memory the clone has from Peter's childhood, but they were in Nevada, why would that smell be there? The smell intensifies inside, as Kaine finds a white room filled with anachronistically-dressed office workers, before he's attacked by the dog again. The workers do not seem particularly bothered or interested, except for one woman who gives him a jab with a spear!

Weakened, Kaine realizes the spear--excuse me, naginata--was poisoned, and accuses her of cheating. Incensed, Nakano knocks Kaine out, but is stopped by her boss, a smiling man in a white suit with a bad haircut. Meanwhile, Ben Reilly takes an Uber, to threaten a little girl? I'd say this is what happens when you miss an issue; but I did have a couple of the issues prior, so I'm not sure what's up with this, except Ben does block the girl's mouth to prevent her using some power. Still, she appears to have the same boss, who introduces himself as Gabriel. The angel Gabriel. A bright light seems to convince Ben; and Gabriel explains he's there as a counter to the forces of evil in the world. He also gives him a vial of his blood, to save a sick girl; and gives him Kaine as well, teleporting them both back to Ben's surprised Uber.

Gabriel's organization was described as the Diogenes Initiative, and it seems pretty obvious there was going to be something more to them. This series had three issues left, so maybe it wrapped that up.
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Monday, May 25, 2020

Am I still confused on this story? Or did the needle land on 'bad'?

Eight years ago, we blogged the first issue of Bruce Jones and Ariel Olivetti's "Darker Than Death", a Legends of the Dark Knight storyline that left me puzzled. Partly because sometimes, if a comic has a mystery, it may be hard to see if it was executed well until the end. (I've told you Identity Crisis hurt me and left me unable to trust!) I am puzzled why this one needed to be five issues, though: LotDK was pretty bad about that for some time, with more than a few serials that might've been stronger if they had been a issue or two shorter. And now I'm wondering if I should blog this one without having the other four issues handy--or if I've even read the third or fourth chapters--but dude, it's been eight years.

The final chapter begins with Batman examining a woman's body on a dock; something that sounds fun if you're not a detective...hey! Bats is kicking himself for his handling of this case: what clues did he miss? He calls Alfred to pick him up, so Bruce Wayne will have an excuse to find the body, but he does hide some evidence from Commissioner Gordon: the empty briefcase, missing the money he had given Lilith Rutledge to cover the ransom for her kidnapped younger sister, Janie. Bruce had slept with Lilith, so he's more personally involved than usual; but Alfred's done some detective work. (Or had it done.) Lilith wasn't Janie's sister, she was her mother. When Lilith's ex-husband died under suspicious circumstances, he left his money to Janie in a trust; a word that Bruce seems to spit out like it was poison.

The bloated body turns out not to be Janie, but her fiancé's butler's daughter. Well, that clears that up. She had also been pregnant, probably courtesy of said fiancé. Later that night, a coffee-buzzed Bruce is furious at himself for losing both the Rutledge sisters (or 'sisters') but when Alfred scolds him not to spill any on the new DSL, Bruce realizes there were only two DSL companies in Gotham, and could trace the kidnappers' call that way. Really...really seems like he should've caught that earlier; but he traces the call to the fiancé's cabin. Which also seems like a likely place to have checked, too. Before Bruce can take off, Commissioner Gordon pays a visit; having pieced enough of the clues together to know Bruce was involved and had tried to pay the ransom. The fiancé had been brought in; but Bruce asks Gordon to give him until morning to produce the kidnappers and clear the fiancé. Gordon figures that's a job for Batman, but it's up to you if he means get to it, or get him on the phone.

At the cabin, Batman makes short work out of the kidnappers, one of whom is feeling just as burned as Batman was: he had worked with Lilith in offing her husband, but had been left holding the bag this time. The goons had been holding Janie, and the whole thing was Lilith's plot: she convinced Janie it was so she wouldn't have to go through with her wedding, to a broke playboy, but was more interested in either latching onto a playboy with money, or getting him to cover a ransom. The confused and frightened Janie doesn't seem to know Lilith wasn't her sister, but did have her cell number. As she enjoys a drive with the top down in Malibu, she gets a call from Bruce, but Lilith already knew he was Batman. She plays at feeling bad for falling for him, claiming that wasn't part of her plan. Bats gives her two pieces of advice: be careful driving in Malibu, the sun can be blinding. Also, it's doubtful she would get far on three hundred dollars of ransom: she had taken the money, wrapped in plastic, from Bruce's case to her own, but only the top bills were real. Appearing in the middle of the road like a terrifying avenger of the night--no, appearing in the road like he wants to get run over like a sack of laundry--

Batman scares Lilith, who throws up her hands like she just doesn't care, while not paying attention to changing road conditions. She goes over a cliff and dies. It's open to interpretation if Batman feels bad about this, or if he busts on down to the wreck to scrub any evidence from the scene.

Now again, I do think I'm missing a chapter; but the "mother is really her sister" feels like it's cribbed from Chinatown, even if it isn't. I also think, well, Batman's the greatest detective in the world, right? He probably should've seen right through Lilith's sister act. I don't know if this plays fair, but they may actually add to the re-read value: on first reading, Bruce is concerned for Lilith and feels like their involvement blinded him to some clues. Re-read it, though, and Bruce knew the whole time, hence the fake ransom. That kind of feels like trying to have it both ways, though.

No R.Kelly references this time, but we do get one from one of the greatest single issues ever: 1989's Sam & Max Freelance Police Special #1, story and art by Steve Purcell. And we finally get to finish 2006's Legends of the Dark Knight #211, "Darker Than Death, part 5 of 5" Story by Bruce Jones, art by Ariel Olivetti.
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Friday, May 22, 2020

Sometimes I'm ahead of things on this blog, and sometimes it's like, did I even read a comic last week? Well, since I was looking at the new "Mar-Vell" figure the other day, why not take a look at a not-especially recent comic with him? Sort of. From 2000, Captain Marvel #11, "Together Again for the First Time!" Written by Peter David, pencils by Jim Starlin, inks by Al Milgrom.

Starlin art is the big draw on this one, since I find myself not in the mood for David's usual shenanigans: Rick Jones acts like a childish lout throughout the issue, the subplot with Marlo and a ghost at her comic shop seems to eat so many pages, and some of the wordplay and callbacks aren't as clever today. But, after an encounter with the Silver Surfer, Genis finds a rip in space and gets sucked into it despite Rick's advice of "hey, maybe don't." In another reality, Mar-Vell has finished his final battle with Thanos, but does the Mad Titan have a final trick up his sleeve? Actually, no: he's bleeding out, but still canny enough to take advantage of any opportunity. Conversely, Mar-Vell seems mad as hell.

Even though rookie Genis had been instructed by veteran Rick on how to avoid a "classic misunderstanding brawl," it takes a while to get Mar-Vell to stand down: Genis explains he died of cancer, which this Mar-Vell had as well, and he wasn't expecting to survive, either. They only have a few moments, before Thanos arrives, looking far different than Genis expected. (I have to wonder who's idea this was; or if Starlin didn't want to draw classic Thanos for whatever reason.) Thanos mocks them both, obliquely, noting they would have to seal off the rift before both universes bled out like him. Mar-Vell embraces his 'son,' telling him he's proud of him. Genis returns to his universe, seals the rift, doesn't explain squat to Rick, and surprises Moondragon with a kiss. (That feels a little invasive now!)

Meanwhile, after sealing his side, Mar-Vell returns home (to Titan?) to die, but it's worse than that: he'll die alone and unremembered, since Thanos had already killed everyone in their galaxy before he was stopped. Mar-Vell had saved the rest of the universe, but they would never know. Still, he's comforted to know someone would remember him. Until he died: Genis was killed off in Thunderbolts #100 of all places. I know I have that, but can't recall it; I'm pretty sure it's not a great end. Also, I re-read this before I posted it (for a change...) and caught a typo, that Mar-Vell died of cancel. I don't think anyone's died of that; not yet anyway...
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Thursday, May 21, 2020

I liked the tagline for the next issue better, but this is handy, so...

I don't read enough detective stories, but I know there are some investigators who pull on a string of clues until the case unravels; and others who might be observant but generally stumble through things and probably get punched in the face or hit over the head a lot. Kate may be headed towards becoming the latter, in today's book! From 2017, Hawkeye #2, "Something Wicked This Way Comes" Written by Kelly Thompson, art by Leonardo Romero.

Kate's fledging detective agency in L.A. may be off to a good start, as she's already bringing in a stalker she refers to as "Creepy McGee," case closed. Maybe not: this would be like Jim Rockford catching the bad guy 15 minutes into an episode: things probably aren't what they seem, there's still time to fill. Although Kate has a ream of threats that had been sent to her client, the stalker doesn't think he sent all of that; a statement possibly backed up by helpful computer lab tech/smitten nerd Quinn. The stalker also had a flyer that Kate had seen on campus, for "T.B.C." Take Back Control, which Kate notes sounds ominous as hell.

With her client missing, and both the stalker and Kate's friend Ramone worried about her, Kate tries to infiltrate a masked meeting of T.B.C. Although creepy, Kate may notice a friend in the crowd, as she spies an ankle holster that she had seen before, on police detective Rivera. (Her eyes are sharp, to pick that up in a crowd in a darkened room!) But her luck turns after that, as she had the old password, and the masks chase her out--and worse, bystanders and passersby seem to be joining the mob after her! The blurb for the next issue proclaims "The hate for Kate escalates!" but I don't think she had wrapped up this case by the end of that one, either. Kate managed to avoid getting punched this issue, but that seems like a fluke.
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