Wednesday, July 29, 2015


I wrote this strip over a month ago, and finished it July 7; but the new Spider-Man Legends Infinite Kraven the Hunter may be out by now...and while he doubtless outclasses this old Kraven, I think some collectors are going to miss this crazy bastard. I wanted to give him a sendoff, but how would Kraven the Hunter get to space? You could probably guess if you really thought about it: I cheat a little, and a non-Marvel character guests next time!

Also this week: Deadpool continues a running gag that I think has so far gone the entire length of the Stars My Aggravation...every episode we see Pool with a gun, it's a different one than the last time.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

A warning: I was going to say this issue gets dark, quickly; but it pretty much starts from there and goes deeper. From 1985, Incredible Hulk #312, "Monster" Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Mike Mignola and Gerry Talaoc, with a cover from Mignola and Bill Sienkiewicz.

I mentioned wanting this issue almost a year ago when we checked out #310, and I thought this would be in the same vein, a bit of a laugher: the mindless, savage Hulk, still trapped in the extradimensional Crossroads; his only companions the manifestations of his mind. Namely Glow, Goblin, and Guardian. They might be symptoms of bigger psychological problems, but seemed mostly played for comedy; or so Mantlo would have someone to dialog besides the Hulk's inarticulate growling. Here, we see their secret origins, along with the birth of Bruce Banner. His father, Brian, seems an almost-stereotypical drunk at first, in the waiting room as his wife delivers; but he wonders if his research in atomic radiation might not have altered his genes somehow. The term mutant isn't thrown around for a bit, but Brian goes with another m-word: "Monster."

Bruce's mother Rebecca is attentive and doting, and Bruce associates her with a star-shaped mobile over his crib: the inspiration for Glow. Brian resents Bruce taking Rebecca's attention away from him, and tries to monopolize her, leaving Bruce with an uncaring nanny, who Bruce sees as a Goblin. His beloved doll, however, protects him, his Guardian. At four years old, Bruce snuck down Christmas morning and opened one of his presents: an erector set, which the young genius took to immediately. Seeing his son's handiwork, instead of pride, Brian is convinced Bruce is a "freak" and the radiation altered his son's mind. Rebecca defends Bruce and is struck, as is Bruce.

The scene jumps ahead to Bruce's high school days, where he's a hard-working student...that would make Peter Parker seem like Mr. Popular. He's also being raised by his aunt, since Brian had killed Rebecca. Brian had been declared "temporarily insane," and released; giving him the opportunity to assault Bruce at Rebecca's grave. He proclaims that he will expose Bruce as a mutant, but Bruce doesn't care, his father's already done enough.

Next, at GammaDesert Base, Bruce is welcomed by Betty Ross, and sees the same Glow in her that he did in his mom. They talk about his old doll, Guardian, before its arm is torn by General Thunderbolt Ross, in one of his most horrible appearances ever: Ross both praises Brian Banner as a "real man," even defending him after Bruce flat-out tells Ross he was a murderer. Ross also starts referring to Banner as a "milksop" not thirty seconds after meeting him, but his opinion had probably been formed long before.

In the present at the Crossroads, Guardian, Goblin, and Glow discuss how they've done everything they could to help the Hulk and Bruce; and now Bruce is going to have "t'come out from hidin' inside the Hulk an' reclaim his life again!" Which is why the Beyonder finds Bruce a complete wreck at the end of the issue, and resolves to help him...Along with the mandatory Secret Wars II crossover, Mantlo, Mignola, and Talaoc (who sound like Silver Age monsters in a classic Marvel story!) would only have one more issue on Incredible Hulk. During a crossover with Alpha Flight, they would trade titles permanently with John Byrne! Byrne would only stay for six issues, though; Mignola would stay with Alpha Flight for four issues (maybe five, he penciled part of #47) and Mantlo until #67.
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Monday, July 27, 2015

I want to say this has four times as many villains as usual...

The cover proclaims "3 Villains so mighty it takes 19 heroes to fight them in the..." Giant Justice League of America #148, "Crisis in Triplicate!" Written by Martin Pasko (with an assist from Paul Levitz), art by Dick Dillin, ink by Frank McLaughlin.

And they don't even count the Legion's bad guy Mordru! He started the plot the previous issue, bringing the JLA to the 30th century, in order to rediscover the mystic artifacts the Wheel, the Jar, and the Bell. They had been onboard the JLA's satellite, but lost when it was destroyed after the 20th century. (This was written in 1977, the Satellite would be destroyed in Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985.) Mordru releases the Demons Three--Abnegazar, Rath, and Ghast--who promptly turn on him, and hypnotize some of the Legion of Super-Heroes to put Mordru's giant spirit-form back in his imprisoned body. Which would be a problem, since Green Arrow and Black Canary were trapped in Mordru's beard--no, Mordru's hourglass necklace, sorry. That sounds better.

Still, despite being together for centuries, the Demons Three are torn on what to do now: Abnegazar has tired of constantly fighting humanity, and just wants to live in peace in the 30th century. Rath wants to pillage and conquer the future; and Ghast wants to go old-school and completely destroy it, as it was in the "before-time." But their powers may not work on each other, so they decide to battle via proxies, champions. Abby gets the Legion (or a few members) while Rath gets the Justice Society and Ghast gets the Justice League. Each team is hypnotized in a different way, and throw down for most of the rest of the issue; with GA and Canary rescued since Ghast realizes his team was down a couple guys.

Wildfire and Superman pick up their rivalry from when Supes was a boy, Dr. Fate is reduced to just a mask (or possibly just a head) for a bit, Batman takes a rough-looking sucker-punch from Chameleon Boy. Still, Ghast hadn't hypnotized his guys hard enough, and Power Girl was able to resist the hypnosis entirely, so by throwing some fights they convince the Demons to attack each other directly again, and Ghast destroys the other two.

Dr. Fate had already put Ghast's defeat into motion, though; by absorbing the magic of the other two demons, and using it to recreate Ghast's prison...the JLA satellite! Which may or may not still be orbiting 22,300 miles above earth today! the 30th century. Give or take some reboots. This is like the fifth JLA/JSA crossover issue I've bought where I don't have the prior chapter, and I think I still have another where I only have part one!

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Friday, July 24, 2015

I didn't set out to get all Madcap's early appearances, but here we are.

Today, safety lessons your mom should've taught you! The definition of "'sponsible"! And how long it takes two super-powered children to realize someone's not right in the head, in 1988's Power Pack #34, "Child's Play" Written by Howard Mackie, art by Larry Alexander and Louis Williams, inks by Tony DeZuniga.

Katie, the youngest of the Power Pack, is bored out of her mind, and gets in trouble for trying to pull a practical joke on her older brother Jack. Meanwhile, at Four Freedoms Plaza, the visiting Franklin Richards is likewise bored, and gets in trouble for trying to pull a practical joke on the Human Torch, and nearly getting disintegrated in his father's lab. Franklin's age and power levels seem to vary wildly, but today he seemed younger than usual, and had the power to appear elsewhere in a "dream form," so he visits Katie. Together, they catch an episode of the Madcap Mystery Hour!

Presumably the show was public access, but I could see it catching on. Katie and Franklin decide Madcap would be a fun guy to hang out with, and with their powers they're able to find him for a visit. And Madcap's game for running around with super-powered children, since he's crazy. Madcap sticks his head in a garbage truck, squashing it and his hat flat, but both recover: Madcap has a healing factor, I'm not sure what the hat's excuse is...Madcap tells the kids the pursuit of fun is the only thing that matters, and gets them all sticks to play pirate. The kids point out their respective moms told them not to run with sticks, lest they poke an eye out, so naturally...

When Madcap turns his insanity power on the crowds, the kids have to try to keep anyone from getting hurt. Katie has to swipe a Porky Pig-like mask, to protect her identity, as Madcap interferes with a bank robbery. But the kids both learn responsibility...from the example of someone utterly without it.

I think there have been a few stories with an aged-up Power Pack: getting most of them up to tweenage, maybe? And Alex has shown up in Fantastic Four in recent years. Still, if this issue had been written today, it probably would've featured Deadpool in Madcap's role...even though there are probably laws in place to keep Pool away from kids.
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Thursday, July 23, 2015

"Patent Pym'ing."

Question: In regular Marvel continuity, how many people have stolen Hank Pym's tech? Not used or borrowed; straight-up jacked? I'm pretty sure Hawkeye started that ball rolling when he helped himself to Hank's serum to become Goliath. Bill Foster got the Pym particle formula when he worked with Hank, but I don't know if he had permission to use it as Black Goliath. Eric Josten, the mercenary known as Power Man, Goliath, or Atlas; he definitely stole it; as did Ant-Men Scott Lang and Eric O'Grady. Rita DeMara stole the Yellowjacket uniform and used it as a member of the Masters of Evil and then as a Guardian of the Galaxy...before being horribly murdered. Stature got her powers from stealing Pym particles from her dad Scott, and Tom Foster stole it from Avengers Mansion.

It seems like Pym's work is swiped, a lot--I mean, how often is Iron Man armor stolen? (The tech on occasion, but full-on armor?) Anyway, still haven't seen Ant-Man, and don't know if I'll be able to get in this weekend. Still, found a Walgreen's exclusive Ant-Man/Black Ant, at like the sixth Walgreens I checked.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I wrote this strip about the same time composer James Horner died: although probably best known for Titanic and being at least partially responsible for "My Heart Will Go On," he did the scores for Star Trek II and III. And then he got big and didn't cost out for those anymore...I've had the Star Trek II CD for years, and however many times you think I might've listened to it...go ahead and multiply that by like a million.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Quick one today, since I spent the weekend doing some cleaning and rearranging; including moving my computer and scanner. Still works, so here's one from Secret Origins #31, "The Secret Origin of the Justice Society of America" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Michael Bair, inks by Bob Downs.

Early in WWII, before America had even entered the war, President Roosevelt asks the Flash and Green Lantern to stop Hitler's invasion of England. They get their asses beat by Nazi robot "the Murder Machine," but Dr. Fate realizes what has happened and summons Hourman to help him save the heroes and stop the Valkyries Hitler unleashed with the Spear of Destiny! When that fight also goes badly, Fate brings in more help: the Sandman, Hawkman, the Atom, and the big gun he didn't think would come, the Spectre! Who destroys a Nazi fleet singlehandedly, because although he was a ghost, the Spectre was still an American, damn it. (He may hint at it a little there, but the Spectre's attachment to humanity would erode over time: here, he more or less as human as he would ever be.)

Roy Thomas explains in an editorial at the end of the issue, that this story was to both revamp Paul Levitz's 1977 origin for the JSA, and adjust it for the Crisis, since Batman and Superman were no longer ever members of the JSA. Which was somewhat problematic, since in the original, Supes saves Roosevelt from a Valkyrie's spear. Here, although the Atom is stabbed trying to protect the President, Roosevelt is mortally wounded, and the Spectre has to bring him back from the a cost.
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