Monday, July 16, 2018

Not everyone shops at the same store, but still.

Our Gwenpool strips will be wrapping up shortly (for now, maybe) but we've got a second to check out a book I didn't think I'd end up with, which is I think her second in-continuity appearance: from 2016, Howard the Duck #2, "Ms. Poole if you're Nasty, part two of three" Written by Christopher Hastings, art by Danilo S. Beyruth.

Right out of the gate, this one starts with a plot point I hate: crime boss Felicia Hardy, the Black Cat. To be fair, she is played as "scary...even in kind of normal, non-cat apparel." Gwenpool stole something from her, so Cat is leaning on Howard to get it back, not realizing Gwen is hiding under Howard's desk right then! To keep from being found, then, Gwen decides she had best shoot Howard...By her rationale, Marvel hadn't published Howard appearances for "months...years at a time," but even if he died he would just come back later. In-universe, she sounds like a nut!

But the fun part of this issue is Gwenpool explaining why she dresses like a "ninja ghost." Recently arrived in the Marvel U, and during a massive fight from a previous Howard volume, Gwen visits "Big Ronnie's Custom Battle Spandex," since, "I've noticed if you're not wearing a mask or're just an extra." Misreading the form Gwen Poole filled out, the tailor thinks she's Gwenpool, but can work with it. And maybe get rid of some pink fabric while she's at it. (She has a point, no one wears pink!)

Super-fun, and while I like the tailor bits, I was mildly disappointed she didn't get her suit from Deadpool's old tailor, whom we saw a couple times back in Priest's run! From 2000, Deadpool #38, "Johnny Handsome, scene one" Written by Priest, pencils by Paco Diaz, inks by Jon Holdredge. Previously, Loki cursed Deadpool with "Thom Cruz's" face, until he seeks his father's forgiveness. Unwilling to let Loki win (and since it wasn't his face) Pool tries multiple times to rearrange said face, "but Loki's magic was pretty foolproof." After a security device doesn't recognize him with his new face and blasts him, Pool goes to visit the tailor that first gave him a suit. (Maybe.) He's a little unreasonable here.

We see that tailor a few times, and I think this was the second. The first time, Deadpool tries a few different looks, before settling on this one; and the costume has a note on the back "Thanks but no thanks, S-M." The last time we see him, he confuses Titania with Thundra and gets his shop wrecked, with Pool again being a dick about it. (Of course, that's "Titania" if you've read that!)

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Friday, July 13, 2018

I won't even pretend I planned to find this, but it's great.

So I mentioned this issue the other day when we checked out the debut of Pork Grind, but this is my favorite Spider-Ham story. Granted, I've maybe read ten, twelve? But still. From 1992, What The--?! #22, featuring "What Goes Up Must Come Down!" Written by Barry Dutter, art by John Costanza.

J.Jonah Jackalope demands pictures of Spider-Ham! Or rather, Dr. Octopussycat, who has a bomb on the top of the Empire State Building! Spider-Ham swings into action, but Doc Ock might have his number this time! Web-swinging and wall-crawling don't get S-H anywhere, but if only there was another way to get to the top of the building...By the way, I'm by no means an original art collector, but I think I would pay folding money for the page above!

Also this issue: "Hazards of Being a Super-Villain!" Written by Roger Brown, art by Rurik Tyler. It's hit and miss, but there's at least a couple good ones! And this issue also had the "Captains Outrageous!" page we saw years back.
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Thursday, July 12, 2018

Maybe it should've been a symbiote, those were trendy then...and maybe now.

This issue is probably best remembered, if at all, as the prime offender of the Ron Frenz Rule of Costume Design, but how is it? Let's see! From 1995, War Machine #19, "Here Be Dragons" Written by Dan Abnett, pencils by Fred Haynes, inks by Johnny Greene. Cover by Jim Calafiore, which actually makes it look more ornate than it does inside!

Jim Rhodes tests out his new, alien armor against the "dragon" mentioned, an alien called a Lictor. (I wonder if maybe they shouldn't have gone with a recognized Marvel alien race, like the Sidri or something; just for a point of reference.) A mysterious, probably alien girl gave him the suit, and apologizes for the Lictor; she thought they'd send something easier. She offers to tell him about it on their drive, after they part ways with Hawkeye, who was on his way to New York for "the Crossing," a not-particularly well remembered Avengers event. Meanwhile, Jim's friend Sheva Joseph goes back in time 25 years unexpectedly; an after-effect of their time-travel trip where Jim lost the old War Machine suit.

The Ron Frenz rule was to the effect that if a costume was over-designed to the point it didn't look right when Frenz drew it, it probably wasn't a great costume. You could probably say the same for any outfit that doesn't translate well to an animated style, too. I don't even know if the "Eidolon Warwear" was the problem, but I don't remember if it was seeded earlier or just out of the blue. I suspect someone, probably in editorial, maybe thought War Machine in that armor was diluting the Iron Man brand or something, but didn't want to just cancel Jim's book outright. This armor would only last six issues, then if I recall Jim would sacrifice it in a nonsense bit in Tales of the Marvel Universe #1, a book best known for an early Thunderbolts appearance.
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Wednesday, July 11, 2018


Poor Amy's scene is on speakerphone this week (a They Might Be Giants reference!) since in changing computers, I didn't have the previously used pics of him at his little console. We'll see him soon enough!

Pool in the third panel is very much wish fulfillment for me: if I could get into space, fly away from just about everything, oh god yes, sign me the hell up. I do want to go more like Dr. Who, or the Enterprise; not like real life where there's physics and crap...

And it's absolutely not my place to say, but the question of Deadpool's bisexuality has come up here and there. Or "bisexuality," since I think it's more alleged than anything that's happened in continuity, right? Like it's kind of talked about but never actually happens. And I've heard complaints that Pool has "trendy" bisexuality, which would be "women + certain hot male celebrities." It's not a thermometer, guys; don't get mad at someone for not being up to your code there...Personally, I figure Pool to be somewhat omnisexual: he feels he's ugly inside and out, and thus thinks he can't afford to be picky.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

90% sure this was my first issue of this book...

I don't think I had the gold-covered reprint of the first four issues at that point, since I think I bought this new. I couldn't be positive, but I'm almost sure I had seen The Man Who Fell to Earth before reading this issue; I wonder if it occurred to me what kind of balls it would take to use that title? From 1995, X-Man #5, "The Man Who Fell to Earth" Written by Jeph Loeb, pencils by Steve Skroce, inks by Bud LaRosa.

X-Man had been the alternate version of Cable for the Age of Apocalypse crossover, in which all of the X-titles had been replaced with darker versions like Gambit and the X-Ternals or Generation Next, but it would be the only one to continue afterwards. The titular X-Man, Nate Grey, was created by Mr. Sinister from genetic material from Cyclops and Jean Grey, I believe in the hopes of creating a weapon to destroy his master Apocalypse. With the help of that universe's Forge, Nate rebelled, and during the final battle (that may or may not have destroyed the AoA earth, depending on when you ask...) he was caught in an explosion that launched him into the mainstream Marvel universe. (He was fighting Holocaust at the time, but that villain wouldn't turn up for a while.) Finding himself in the Swiss Alps, Nate has no idea where he is or what happened, but his telekinetic/telepathic powers still make him incredibly dangerous.

A local helps him, after perhaps a slight telepathic nudge, which also gives Nate the ability to speak the local language. But when he wakes up, he's greeted by...Madelyne Pryor! This would've been Maddy's first appearance in...a good six years, since dying during Inferno in X-Factor #38. Thematically her appearance makes sense; she was created by (this universe's) Mr. Sinister, and was a clone of Nate's "mom," but I don't know how exactly she would've found him. Also, that very much sets the title up as "for" hardcore X-Men fans: if you hadn't been reading the X-books for years, this reveal would mean little. Still, I had been, so I know I stuck with the book for a couple years. (It helps that comics were cheaper then, right?) I know I left eventually since it was taking Nate forever to accept the nicer Marvel U, but looking at it now, he was from a crapsack universe with very little kindness or compassion; so it probably would take him a long time to adjust.
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Monday, July 09, 2018

Way back when I was a teenager, my family and I would be up near Glacier National Park most of the summer, but for my birthday would usually go into Kalispell for a movie. Which means when I was 15, we went to see Howard the, I don't think I've ever watched it since, but I'm pretty sure I don't need to. That was coming at a time where superhero and comic book tie-ins were few and far between, and I so wanted it to be good, and nope. I hadn't read any of his comics at that point either, and while I know some of his history (and that of creator Steve Gerber) I don't have any great attachment to him. But I did get a few cheap ones recently, and this one's got old man Steve Rogers, Daredevil, She-Hulk, Spider-Man, the Savage Land, and Kevin Maguire! Well, that's got to be worth a look, right? From 2016, Howard the Duck #7, written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Kevin Maguire, color art by Joe Quinones and Jordan Gibson.

Incidentally, this was...around Secret Wars, since out of the assortment of HtD's I got in a pile, the numbering is a mess. There is an editorial footnote joke in the very first panel, as head of Parker Industries Peter Parker schmoozes with society types at a party, fishing for info for Howard and She-Hulk. They're trying to track down her missing client, Gary Stark--no relation to Tony, although he almost certainly didn't tell people that. Gary's described as making his bank off of knockoffs and untraceable burner phones, which were used by the mob, so the district attorney's office was after him as well: namely, Matt Murdock! She-Hulk isn't thrilled to see him, but he's there when Peter tells Howard Gary went missing with some other millionaires, on some kind of dinosaur safari. Ergo, the Savage Land. Matt wants to go, but She-Hulk vetoes a blind guy going on that trip, so he says he'll send his pal Daredevil instead. (His secret identity being secret again, for like the eighth time.) Spider-Man, who had asked his friend Peter for help, shows up and figures for a Savage Land trip, "we better ask Grandpa for the car." Enter Steve Rogers! Currently older than dirt, but okay. With Howard and his Skrull um, super-powered assistant Tara, they're on their way by the fifth page.

Stretching to get a look around, Tara gets grabbed by a passing pterodactyl, and my favorite joke of the issue ensues: She-Hulk jumps after her, right into the way of Spidey's web-line. I really don't think She-Hulk has ever warmed to Spider-Man. Howard gives Spidey a sick burn about his "spider-sense" being self-centered, before they find "Savage Park." That seems familiar somehow...Daredevil thinks he hears something and takes off, with She-Hulk right after him, since she didn't want DD beating any info out of her client. DD counters the guy's guilty as hell, and that info could net bigger bad guys. (I think I have the fairly recent 2015 She-Hulk issue with her vs. Matt, defending old man Steve! Their rivalry seems pretty recent, then.)

The bad guy here, Dave, had a plan to use his partner Janice's cybernetic helmets to control dinosaurs for a theme park; but then changed his mind and decided to hold his rich guests for ransom. (Which I'm not sure he ever asked anyone for, but when you're riding a tyrannosaur around you've got other things going.) Dave quite rightly points out this "bunch of city folk in sexy outfits!" might not be the best match against dinosaurs; while Steve tries to use one of the helmets to override Dave's control. Somewhat surprisingly, it fails, possibly because he was old and beat; but Spidey realizes Howard might be able to better connect with the dinosaurs, since birds descended from them. That does the trick, which Howard absolutely takes credit for.

Steve suggests rounding everyone up to head home, but Howard asks, why not stay a bit? Is anyone in a hurry to get back to New York, their crappy jobs, or Deadpool? He might have a point. This was a fun book, although even only two years out from it, it feels like a snapshot of a specific time now gone! Parker Industries and Old Man Cap are long gone, and I know She-Hulk went through some stuff since too. At least Daredevil still has a secret of right this second, I think.

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Friday, July 06, 2018

I never eat those, but a bag sounds delicious now...

So I laughed at least once at the Forbush Man story in What The--?! #14, and there's a much better Spider-Ham story in WT?! #22, but Milk and Cookies and Wolverina were never, ever funny. That said, you might kinda need this issue now! From 1992, What The--?! #20, featuring "Pork for Dinner, Milk and Cookies for Desert!" Written by Barry Dutter, pencils and letters by John Costanza, inks by George Wildman.

This Infinity Wart crossover, featuring Negative Forbush Man. Forget that, we only care about the sensational character find of 1992: Pork Grind! Who...talks like the guy in your office doing their best impression of the worst SNL impression of Arnold Schwarzenegger. They aren't making this easy, I gotta tell you.

Pork Grind only appears for four pages this issue, but I love the name, that just makes it for me. Going with the Schwarzeneggar voice instead parodying Venom's usual shtick--which was fairly well established by that time, I think--feels like a mistake. Maybe they thought it would be too creepy if one cartoon pig was going on and on about eating the brains of another one. OK, that may be a valid concern.

Of course, we're all up in arms, since we're less than a month away from the Marvel Legend Spider-Ham with Pork Grind head! Eek, sold out at Big Bad! There's some mild grousing that S-H could've gotten a bit more articulation, but I'll be glad to have him...and I have a Venom figure waiting to donate his body to Pork Grind!
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