Monday, August 31, 2009

"Glourious Nice Guy"

In case you haven't guessed by title, today's strip involves Quentin Tarantino's new film, Inglourious Basterds, which you should run out and see now if you haven't already. (I don't care if it is Monday morning! Schnell! Mach schnell!) So, for the spoiler-phobic, the strip's behind the break, and click to enlarge when you get there!

Yeah, we're not going for historical accuracy here either...
Turning your face into a Red Skull isn't torture if we classify it as an 'elective procedure.' As in, you elected not to get shot...
The Red Skull, both Baron Zemos, Baron Strucker...Marvel has a pretty good track record of scarifying Nazis too, eh?

As usual, I enjoyed the hell out of Tarentino's latest: Basterds probably won't supplant the first Kill Bill as my favorite of his films, but it's a good one. It's funny: I don't know if I'd ever want to meet Tarentino, for fear of having a bad experience that might put me off his work (maybe he's friendly and swell, but just in case); but I would love to steal his iPod. If he has one, it has to be jam-packed with the coolest songs you've either never heard of, somehow forgotten, or wouldn't have thought to use in that context.

If you don't like Tarentino films, though, let me know in the comments; because I have a blind spot to it. Inglourious Basterds was crazy fun, full of surprises and twists, and it's like three hours long! When I go to the theatres, I don't want to be in-and-out under two hours. I usually get there early for the terrible premovie stuff, of things I have no desire to ever see: there was only one chap in the theatre when I arrived, and I was almost hoping no one else would show. Reminded me of a scene from Preacher, that I was going to look up before this idea came to mind.

The German Soldier is from last year's Indiana Jones line, and not bad, but if you buy one, you kind of need more, right? Unless he's just going to be tied up and beaten...he was purchased specifically for this strip, but I was lucky enough to get him clearanced a bit. (There is a certain chain in my town, that has both the Indiana Jones and 3.75 inch Star Trek figures; pegs of them, still at full price. They aren't going anywhere, if I get a burning need to pay too much for one...) The little artifact the soldier came with, in the little crate he's sitting on in the strip, was a Sankara stone from Temple of Doom. A badly carved, and oversized Sankara stone. If you build a squad of Germans, you're going to be stuck with a mess of those.

Captain America was part of a Secret Wars two-pack with Klaw. Man, I am never gonna come up with a strip for Klaw, but I really wanted Cap and missed the Marvel Universe version the first time. (Here's a rule of thumb for me, OK? If I can get a Nightcrawler figure in a line, either right up front or relatively soon, I'll probably start collecting it. If it doesn't look like he's going to, I very well may skip it. Like the prior smaller-scale Superhero Showdown line.) Cap's not bad, but I am surprisingly being a stickler about the mask and belt, neither of which are quite on-model with his look from that time period, because they're using the mold for a more Ultimates style version.

I did another strip for Cap, that probably won't be posted until October now, but I used putty to hold Cap's shield to his back and give him both hands to gesture with. If Cap's shield is correctly scaled, and I believe it is, there is no way he was able to wear that under his shirt. It would be like wearing a shirt with the hanger still in it. If that hanger was huge, and circular.

And by the way: Ages 25 and Up had a strip of interest this week too. Go! Schnell!
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Then there was the time Reed Richards invented Darth Vader's torture droid:

Reed's either seen too many movies, or not enough.
Reed's tried making cutesy robots before, like H.E.R.B.I.E. He was controlled by the disembodied mind of Dr. Sun, tried to kill the Fantastic Four, and sacrificed his robot ass to save them. Perhaps Reed thought, if he made the robot evil looking, it would turn out good. No prizes for guessing how that turned out.

More from this issue Tuesday!
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Friday, August 28, 2009

Found between the pages of The Best of H.P. Lovecraft:

I have a couple of bookmarks that I use all the time, that I can't find. But when I pulled The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre off my bookshelf, I was surprised to find a number of things crammed into it: there was a boarding pass from 2005, for one thing. Then this:
A classic Toyfare "Big Shots" panel. In fact, I was kind of wondering if this one didn't predate Toyfare and came from Wizard instead.

Then, a newspaper clipping, sort of: it was part of the house ad for Transmetropolitan, probably also from Wizard. I like the idea of the Eskimo stands coming and going, since it reminds me to not give up hope that maybe some of these fast food "institutions" won't be here forever.

I always forget the ending of "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," even though I've read it more than once and saw that Dagon movie a while back. (The movie is a bit of a downer, and lacks the black humor of Re-Animator, which is probably why it wasn't as popular.) In the course of re-reading the book, though, I stuck more stuff in there that I'll find years later when I go back to it: the receipt for renewing my driver's license, for one. I wonder what I'll find in fifty years?

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Hey, action figure fans!

Over at Poe Ghostal's Points of Articulation, Poe is running a contest to win a Masters of the Universe He-Ro figure! If you can write a MOTU-style bio for Poe, you could win!

With postage, the new Masters of the Universe figures run like thirty bucks, so that would be quite a win. I believe you have until the 31st, so hurry!
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In reality, it's synergistic development between R&D and marketing...

In Iron Man #305, Stark International is struggling with the fallout of the reign of Obidiah Stane; who hadn't been above dabbling in weapons technology like Deathlok, or the gamma bomb. Expecting the Hulk to show up and smash up the place, Tony comes prepared:

'It needs an unobtrusive action feature.  Perhaps a voice chip?'
Hmm. Which does come first: the armor, or the action figure? It seems pretty obvious:
How many times can I type 'Hulkbuster' in this post before it loses all meaning?
I had actually planned on doing this one quite some time ago, for a "For Comparison Purposes" post; but got sidetracked when I couldn't find the vacuum-metallized helmet for the old, 90's cartoon Hulkbuster.
Come to Stark World!  Bring the kids! Then I was going to make the point that with the possible exception of some cameo appearances in the back of Tony's armory; I believe this Hulkbuster armor has only really appeared twice. And the first one was the last page of issue #304. I'm pretty sure it's had more action figures, than comic appearances.

(That's in-continuity appearances, mind you: I do believe a Hulkbuster suit like those pictured showed up in Marvel Adventures: Iron Man somewhere.)

It works out all right that this is late, since I got another Hulkbuster figure! Last weekend I picked up a pack of "Handful of Heroes," little eight-pack assortments of little unpainted figures, not unlike green plastic army men (kinda) or Muscle figures. (I never had those, but if you did, yeah, that's what these are like.) Since they aren't blind packed (thank god) I was able to get a Nightcrawler one, and luckily got the Hulkbuster as well. Mild disappointment: the Nightcrawler figure has relatively tiny feet, and mine won't stand by itself. But overall I'll tell you what everyone else probably is: Handful of Heroes isn't terrible, the sculpting is probably as much as you could expect for that scale/pricepoint, perhaps a hair overpriced, cherry-pick the ones you want and hope they go on clearance.

If you poke around over at OAFE.net, they had a cartoon that I was positive used the other Superhero Squad Hulkbuster Iron Man. I found one, "Hulkbuster," but that uses the Mark I Hulkbuster. Tony would bust out a new model--which I vaguely and probably incorrectly recall looking like a power lifter from Aliens--in World War Hulk. I think that one's appeared more times, but don't hold me to that.

Page from Iron Man #305, "Green Politics" Written by Len Kaminski, pencils by Kev Hopgood, inks by Steve Mitchell.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Supergirl/Wonder Girl 1: The one with the set-up.



I blame Professor Zoom.

Or Reverse-Flash, or whatever his name is. Even though I've read a few Flash stories with different versions of him, he's not a character for whom I had any affection. (Why aren't we supposed to put prepositions at the ends of sentences again?) And his figure wasn't amazing, just the standard first-wave DC Infinite Heroes. But he was a buck, so...

How Supergirl and Wonder Girl ended up dragged into this, I'm still not sure. While I'm enjoying the adorable Supergirl strip in Wednesday's Comics, I could not tell you the last time I read a mainstream DC Universe story with her or Wonder Girl. But as I thought about it...I thought they were in an interesting place in the DCU: they were junior members, but not really sidekicks; and even though they were younger they were more than powerful enough to take care of most situations. And as teenaged girls, I figured they would be a bit more brutally honest in their gossip and commentary.

I got their figures in a three-pack, with Superman, for five bucks. They are terrible. The price was the only saving grace. Wonder Girl's logo isn't blurry, that's what it looks like on the toy. Is it supposed to be an abstract gold shape? The girls don't even get the elbow joint other DCIH figures do, so their body language is limited. And even for their scale, the sculpts don't pop. And I'm totally blaming the girls for my failings in photography: they reflect light like no one's business.

And even with all that, I got ten pages of snark about the current DC Universe out of it. The Gotham City Police Department would be like a turtle on its back if faced by a villain like Zoom. (Not that Central City's PD fares any better, true.) After Superboy (Connor) (EDIT: Oops, Conner. Damn.) died in Infinite Crisis, the grieving Cassie went on to join a cult and build an altar for him in 52. Just as weird: then-Robin Tim was trying to clone his best friend in Teen Titans, and Cassie and Tim had an awkward attraction that they couldn't work out.

Connoer would return in Legion of Three Worlds, but now of course Batman's believed dead. Tim isn't buying it, and is currently wearing the Red Robin outfit, since Dick moved Batman's son Damien into the Robin position. Officially, the rationale is that Dick believes Tim can handle himself, while Damien needs watching over; but storywise I'd say Damien brings more tension to the table: Tim's a good soldier, while Damien is a loose cannon, by which I mean borderline sociopath.

While we all know Bruce Wayne is coming back, in-story everyone is being portrayed as if they firmly believe he's dead, except for Tim. Tim is thus supposed to seem unhinged by grief, wild; but we know he's right, even if he's wrong. As Red Robin, he's going to be chasing red herrings until Bruce comes back in a completely unrelated event. I don't think Bruce will be back in the Black Lantern storylines, and while it would be nice if Tim pieced together the clues and was the one to bring his adopted dad back, I don't think that's going to happen.

Wow, I am surprisingly up on my DC continuity, for someone who spends more on DC toys than I do on DC comics...next strip Wednesday!

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At least he can hold the bat...

This has happened to me before. I'm serious!
Previously: with Deadpool appearing in a movie (sort of) and starring in two three monthly and as many other books as Marvel can get him into, editorial transfers in a new roommate for Nightcrawler. Previous episodes: one, two, three, four, and five.

That's Falcon's voice from off-screen in the second panel; longtime comics readers may be able to guess who he's talking to...even though it's a character he's never met, from another company. But it's a character that has a lot in common with Falcon, and I don't want to give it completely away. Of course, when I first made these, Sam had been been around much in the real Marvel comics; but he's starting to turn up again in Captain America and will probably guest in Nomad: Girl without a Country. (Or is that without a Planet? Whatever.)

Longer episodes will be coming, but since these have been shorter lately, we're going to have another strip running concurrently, starting this afternoon! Starring characters never-before-used here...for a reason, but we'll get to that.
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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And today, we have a scan of a checklist. Thrilling!


On the "Green-skin's Grab-bag" letters page for The Incredible Hulk #252, we find a checklist for Marvel's books cover-dated October, 1980. As a kid, this was about when I was starting to branch off into other comics from Star Wars (issue #40 on this checklist, "Part II of The Empire Strikes Back!" even though I know the movie had been out for a while by then) but in looking it over, the only issue I'm positive I had back then? Spider-Woman #31, "Who is...the Hornet?" I had a subscription to Star Wars, and my sister to Spider-Woman, yeah.

But over the years, I've picked up a lot of the books on that list, some right away, some only recently. Thor #300, "Double-sized 300th anniversary spectacular!" I know I had that as a kid, and had read some of the Ring of the Nibelung issues leading up to it. I've since lost that issue, and still only have the vaguest idea what was happening. Um, Thor is playing the part of Siegfried, and the Valkyrie from the Defenders is Brunn Hilda or something; and by #300 the Celestials show up because they're opera fans? I can't decide if I really want to reread those, or if I really don't; but I'm holding out for the Essentials to get there.

Avengers #200 is a little better, but also features Ms. Marvel impregnated by Marcus from Limbo...and later writers would have to run all kinds of game around that one, and would prefer I not mention it at all. Captain America #250 is the classic, "Captain America for President!" Still a good one.

X-Men #138 (Uncanny) had Jean Grey's first funeral, and Cyclops mopes his way through the previous 137 issues history. He doesn't cover the reprints, though...it would be a good enough issue, except thanks to the 90's, every time I see something like this, I hear Boyz 2 Men "It's so hard to say goodbye to yesterday." Thank you, 90's. Thanks heaps.

Defenders #88 is noted as featuring "Lord of the Whales!" (And a different title on the cover) I probably have this one from the quarter boxes, and I want to say it's the Hulk going all Greenpeace upside some whalers' heads. As opposed to Namor doing it, but I kinda get the feeling that while Namor doesn't have any love for the surface-man, he doesn't really give a damn about the whales, either. He's not Aquaman; I don't remember Namor ever talking to whales or riding them around or anything. At first glance, I thought the title was a pun or a knock at Prince Charles, but his wedding wasn't until the next year.

I got Marvel Premiere #56 a couple of months ago: Dominic Fortune, guest-starring a young Dum Dum Dugan! Dum Dum was born with that mustache.

There are eight reprint books on this checklist, ranging from the why? Sgt. Fury #160, reprinting Captain Savage #11; to the hell yes, Fantasy Masterpieces #11, reprinting Lee and Buscema's Silver Surfer #11 and Jim Starlin's Strange Tales #181, Warlock in "1000 Clowns!"

Likewise, there are eight licensed books: Conan (celebrating its tenth anniversary) and Savage Sword, the Micronauts' regular book and an annual, Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Rom.

And What If? #23 is a Hulk tie-in, "What if the Hulk's girlfriend Jarella Lived?" I don't think I've read that one, so I don't know if the Hulk gets a happy ending there, or if that issue is like the "What if Gwen Stacy had lived?" from around the same time, which takes the opinion that while having your girlfriend thrown off a bridge might not be a picnic, it's not the worst possible outcome. Cheery.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Huh, I have a comic with Woodgod. I would not have bet on that.

If the Hulk has that much trouble with radio, the Teen Brigade's twitters are going to boggle him.
Actually, that's not quite true: I'm pretty sure I have an old Marvel Team-Up or reprint of same with Woodgod. Possibly drawn by John Byrne, before he was JOHN BYRNE, y'know? Well, we're looking at a different comic, anyway. The Incredible Hulk #252, "The Changelings!" Script by Bill Mantlo, art by Sal Buscema. I should mention up front, I didn't start paying much attention to the Hulk until Byrne's run; and I had for years an unreasonable dislike of Sal Buscema, because I thought he had replaced Walt Simonson on Thor. (It wasn't like Walt was replaced, he stepped down to writing the book instead of writing and drawing.)
Wait, the Changelings can't be that much stronger than actual animals; so how did they work over Doc Samson so bad?
The story opens with the Hulk (classic, dumb Hulk) arriving at the hunting cabin of General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, to help his friend Rick Jones; and instead finding a savagely beaten Doc Samson on the floor. The 'changelings' came, took Ross and Hulk's friends Betty, Fred, and Rick; and mopped the floor with Samson. Hulk isn't impressed.

Meanwhile, the satyr-like Woodgod and his people take their captives to their hidden village. Woodgod had set out to capture another changeling, Viperus, but took prisoners when Ross shot one of his men. At the village, Leoninus, who couldn't be more evil if he had a Snydely Whiplash mustache, forments dissent against Woodgod, demanding the humans' execution.
'We came from Scream, and to Scream we would return.'  Poor Kevin Williamson.
Woodgod recaps his origin for the humans, involving his 'parents,' who were apparently genetic engineers that also happened to have a barn full of nerve gas. Great double major, there. After the normos and his folks died, eventually Woodgod learned to use their equipment to make the Changelings, all of whom have boring names like Neptunus and Goatus. To be fair, they are animals, so it probably is asking too much for them to come up with names on the level of He-Man bad guys.

Even though it's not my favorite run of Hulk, I do have a good pile of Bill Mantlo's run; and I think this shows up more than a couple times: a secret, often abandoned government base; with weird or dangerous experiments that were probably dangerous enough before the locals got wind of them, formed an angry mob, and shot up the place. (Something similar happened in the last Mantlo issue I looked at here.) As a general rule of thumb in fiction, whenever the angry mob card is played, it's an example of ugly humanity falling victim to its worst prejudices and probably hounding an innocent. Conversely, if the townspeople laugh off the trouble as mere superstition, there's something mind-numbingly terrible out there. Buy your torches and rake-things accordingly.
How did Woodgod make a fish guy that looks like he's 70, is the question.
Back on topic: the Hulk makes his way up to the village, and gets attacked by Neptunus, who looks like General Ross playing the Little Mermaid's dad in the school play. Kinda surprised the Hulk didn't kick his fish-ass extra hard, then. When Hulk arrives at the village, the Changelings are human enough to freak the hell out and attack without asking questions.
Seriously, the Hulk has to introduce the Changelings to the world of pants.
As the fight brews, Siren--not the one from X-Factor, this one's a topless bird-girl--is distracted by Leoninus, who poisons a healing potion, that Woodgod then gives to the wounded Centauron. Meanwhile, the Hulk learns, mess with the bull, you get the horns. Hopefully the horns, since I don't like the way he's...frankly, mounted the Hulk there.

Hulk gets kicked through a wall, to Fred, Betty, and Rick; all of whom are ungrateful dicks, and tell the Hulk he's just making it worse, that they will be freed when Centauron recovers.
You 'thought'? Hey everybody, get a load of 'A Beautiful Mind' here!
Hulk is already pretty steamed, when Thunderbolt Ross wakes up, dazed, but still denouncing the Hulk as "a vicious, murdering monster." (We won't reopen the debate on whether or not the Hulk has a huge bodycount in his wake, thanks.) By the time man-goat, I mean Woodgod, joins the pantsless animal-man pile-on, the Hulk has had enough of this crap, and stomps off. Screw you guys, I'm going home.
Worst petting zoo ever!
Of course, then things really get out of hand: Centauron dies, Leoninus shows up with his own crew of Changelings, and Betty, Rick, and the rest are good and screwed now.
The Hulk was three states away, before he realized he wasn't mad at Betty... I suspect Mantlo, creator of Woodgod, had larger story plans for the character, but I'm not sure he ever took off. I do suspect it's just a matter of time before someone dusts him off for his own MAX book or something, at the very least to keep the copyrights alive. And this is like the second or third comic in the last week or two I've blogged without reading the concluding issues; so I may have to do something about that.
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Dominic Fortune, minus Howard Chaykin...doesn't leave much, honestly.

The other day at the Comic Book Shop, I neglected to pick up a copy of Howard Chaykin's new Dominic Fortune miniseries, either because I was tradewaiting, or because I was already down like four weeks of Wednesday Comics. (Anyone else fall behind like that? Because it kind of takes the edge off a weekly book that way...) I may have to go back for it: reviews over at The Factual Opinion make it sound pretty good.

In the meantime, there's a Dominic Fortune/Captain America story in Marvel Super-Heroes Fall Special #3, "Who Saves the Hero...?" (Written by Danny Fingeroth, pencils by Gary Hartle, inks by Tony Dezuniga.) Maybe it will be just as good...
Somehow, I suspect there's a lotta film of Dom that Cap would not be comfortable watching...
Oh, no. No...not so much, yeah.

As Captain America stops a truck hijacking in New York City--does that happen a lot there? Seriously?--an old man konks a bad guy with a garbage can. Cap almost recognizes the old man, who immediately knows "Stevie."

Decades ago, in the early 1930's, young and asthmatic Stevie Rogers is getting shoved around by four bullies, until local tough Davey Fortunov runs them off. Some years later, Steve catches a newsreel before a movie, and recognizes Davey as crimefighter Dominic Fortune. Multiple things wrong so far: odds of getting usable footage with newsreel cameras as Fortune beats up a Nazi circus, 10-to-1. Odds that Fortune's "two-fisted sweetheart, Sabbath Raven" would be mentioned at all, at least 100-to-1. Odds that fortune would be 'fighting crime' in the traditional sense, even if it was Nazis, several thousand to none.

The piece on Fortune precedes the footage of Nazis stomping across Europe, that inspires Steve to try and enlist in the army. Meanwhile, on the gambling boat Mississippi Queen, Fortune is losing all his cash back to his 'sweetheart' Raven, when he is approached by an army officer introducing himself as Philips. Without a lot of subterfuge or beating around the bush, Philips offers Fortune a chance to try out for a chance to try out the Super-Soldier Serum. Seems like a security risk, but Fortune's up for it.
By 'traditional' I'm pretty sure he means, 'boring.'
While Dr. Erskine begins working up Fortune and the Serum, the overseers of the program debate their test subject. Some like the idea of a Jewish Super-Soldier, as a counter to Hitler's "Master Race" propaganda, but in the end, it comes down to questions over Fortune's character: a gambling, hotheaded, promiscuous troublemaker might be fine for higher office, but not for a symbol of America. When told that he's cut, Fortune tries to storm off, only to be stopped by a pile of soldiers, since Philips refuses to have a top-secret facility compromised.

With Fortune out, the Super-Soldier program begins working on Steve Rogers. Even though he was told not to go back there, Fortune takes Sabbath back to where the army had been hiding him, just to prove to someone that it did happen, and he sees Steve. Right before the Nazis show up.
Always. Make. An. Entrance.
Fortune manages to get Steve clear, but he and Sabbath end up captured. Although he's been told repeatedly that he's vital to national security (much of the Super-Soldier research had been keyed for him specifically) Steve knows he can't be a symbol of America if he leaves them to die, and goes back for them. As is typical for Cap stories written at that time, Steve won't use a gun or kill anyone. He will use a homemade turpentine firebomb and crack Nazis with his T-square, though. Steve frees Fortune, and they manage to beat down the remaining Nazis before the army gets around to arriving.

The rest of Cap's origin then proceeds apace, and Fortune and Sabbath recognize little Stevie Rogers when they see Cap in the newsreels. Fortune briefly wonders what could've been, if he could have become a symbol for America. Sabbath gently points out he probably would've embarrassed himself and the country.

Back in the present, old man Fortune stops another batch of bullies from beating on a little kid, which is a pretty good way to get shot now. Cap, having caught the last hijacker, comes back to talk to Fortune, and they go have a malted. I swear, if you've read any of Chaykin's Dominic Fortune stories (or any Chaykin, period) this reads like someone had to cut until they got a G rating.

Even more than the multiple coincidences in this story, I don't think I care for stories about how Steve Rogers was a brave hero even before he became Cap; since I understood that pre-Super Soldier serum, he was so sickly he probably couldn't stand up without getting winded. That and everytime you retell Cap's origin or events surrounding it, more Nazis show up. It wasn't enough that they got a spy in to kill Erskine, they were up, down, and all around America's most top-secret plan to that time.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Smashy, smashy.

You can tell Thor's not bringing the heat, or his sound effect would cover four panels.
For some reason, I have two copies of Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective #2, and am missing another issue of that limited series. Not that I'm running out to fill that hole in my collection, it's just weird.

It's also weird that War Machine, Thunderstrike, and USAgent get teamed up like their counterparts, the big three Avengers, and it's not like they're the next generation, or anyone is passing the torch or anything. On the other hand, it's not quite like off-brand knockoffs or generic medicine, either...how can I put this? The replacements? They aren't really the second-string, although you have to figure citizens would feel more secure knowing Cap or Iron Man is on the case, rather than their angry, angry, palette-swapped imitators.

Come to think of it, Thunderstrike was often portrayed as vaguely pissed-off all the time as well. Moreso than Thor, at any rate. And Thunderstrike at least looks passably different than Thor in silhouette.

Ravonna does look kind of fetching as Ms. Grandmaster, or Grandmistress, or whatever.
We're getting off-topic, but that's better than trying to piece together the plot for this one. It involves Ravonna, who I remember as Kang's lost love and relatively innocent; except thanks to Marvel's bifurcating time-travel rules, there's multiple versions of her now. Nebula, who claimed to be Thanos' daughter and almost wrecked the Avengers with Dr. Druid (she wrecked the sales anyway) is one version. Immortus, the old man version of Kang, explains to Ravonna there are six intermediary aspects of her, one of whom will go on to great enlightenment, presumably outside of this comic.

This one's also got the Council of Cross-time Kangs, a fun idea that's never had a great story, yet: with a myriad of alternate realities, each timeline or universe has a Kang. Or, sometimes someone or something would kill a Kang and then decide that time-travelling in a purple hat and blue mask would be just kicking, which gives the artist license to go nuts and draw lizardman Kangs, robot Kangs, dinosaur Kangs, whatever. So, all the Kangs get together in a big committee and...really never seem to accomplish anything. Like at all. (Any scene of the Council will remind you of the Galactic Senate scenes in the Star Wars prequels, and the Council is just as ineffective as that august body. Still, the Council actually appeared first.) The Council of Cross-Time Kangs, not unlike fellow Marvel supergroups the Captain Britain or Nova Corps, get exponentially more useless the more members they have.

Rhodey and Eric have gotta figure, with USAgent on their side, odds are they're in the wrong...
Meanwhile, the collected Avengers...fight some garbage robots. Really tough garbage robots, though. Yeah. They talk it out a bit, and cease hostilities until they figure out which group, if not both, is being manipulated. (Cap's group definitely was.) Look, for Marvel heroes, that's a pretty substantial peace accord there.

OK, now I have to see which issues I still have. From Avengers: The Terminatrix Objective #2, "On the Side of the Angels" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Mike Gustovich, inks by LaRosa and Martineck.
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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"A League of their Own"

Apparently, the green screen is down today...


I am so sorry about that title, but it works. Click to enlarge, and more pages after the break!


This strip fell into place since I was trying to come up with a Nova-centric story...and failing miserably. Even with Essential Nova next to me, and a passing familiarity with the character from New Warriors and his later solo book, I had no idea what his current characterization was. I believe his initial personality was supposed to be an inversion of the Peter Parker formula, so Rich was a jock; the somewhat rarely found in fiction jock-that's-not-also-a-bully. (Which made Rich's Flash Thompson analog a nerd, who would attack Rich with brutal, hurtful, words.)

I also recall Nova was after Namorita back in the day, but he seemed like a bit of a hound anyway. And...that was it. Look, I was more of a Quasar fan, all right? And Quasar would've worked better for what I had wanted to do; some Green Lantern Corps fun. Nova and Hal Jordan are slightly too similiar for my original idea, but then I thought, if Nova is a Green Lantern analog...

There were a couple episodes of Justice League Unlimited, ("The Terror Beyond" and "Wake the Dead") where a very Defenders-like batch of characters appears: Hawkgirl, Dr. Fate, Amazo, Aquaman, and Solomon Grundy. And I thought, well, could I put together an analog Justice League? (The Squadron Supreme wouldn't work, they're getting action figures never and ever.) If I come up with something else for this group, I'll come back to it.


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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Iceberg! Right ahead!

You don't need me to tell you that the melting polar ice caps are a major problem for everyone on the planet. Methane release from permafrost, animal habitat loss, drastic changes in the oceans' currents, and sea levels rising to where we would rather they not be; and those are just the possible effects scientists have come up with so far. (I hate that sinking feeling I have that more Americans would be more upset about climate change if scientists said it would cause gay marriages and voting Democrat...)

Still, bad as climate change is going to be for us, it's going to be far worse for inhabitants of the Marvel Universe. They're going to get all the downsides we get, and then some, since every time you see an iceberg in the 616, you can be damn sure something's in it. Probably Captain America, but still.

Why does Namor say, 'take your accursed idol with you,' then throw it into the ocean?
Most of you probably remember Cap was frozen at the end of World War II, to be found some years later by the Avengers. Except, if you wanna be a stickler about the continuity, Cap was frozen multiple times!
Is it standard operating procedure for everyone to bring frozen corpses on board?
In Captain America #17-20 (volume four) "Cap Lives" we see the Capsicle not found by the Avengers in 1964, but by a U-boat full of Nazis. Waking to a world where the Allies couldn't win the war without him, Cap rallies the unpowered Marvel heroes into overthrowing the Red Skull, and ends up thrown back in time by Dr. Doom's time machine. Which was considerate enough to put Cap back where he should be, in a block of ice outside the Avengers' sub. Somehow.

Bzzt!  Cap was frozen without his mask on!  Thaw him out and do it again! Or, perhaps Cap was left on ice by a faction in the United States government, that feared Cap may oppose use of nuclear weapons on Japan. Experimented on by rogue scientists, a Lemurian, and some alien severed hand thing, Cap was eventually discovered by Namor, and thrown back in the drink.
Jae Lee's art is awesome, but I don't know if he knew what was going on here, either. Yeah, let's never speak of that one again.
Iceman's dad would go to epic lengths to avoid child care payments.Here's a happier occasion of Cap getting frostbite: following up on a possible sighting of his lost partner D-Man, Cap accidentally releases a giant icy worm, then ends up swallowed. Cap is rescued by another frozen hero, the forgotten Liberty Legion member (and possibly littlest frost giant) Jack Frost. Jack is forced to sacrifice himself to freeze the worm again, so he's still out there somewhere...

He's a frozen disaster, he's a Demolition Man! ...although D-Man was later freed from an icy prison...so he could live with a bunch of smelly, homeless, forgotten Kirby characters. Yeah, that's much better than waking up in the future. This is pretty much the coolest D-Man will ever be. (Boo!)

But Captain America and his cohorts aren't the only bit of flotsam jetsamming around the Marvel Universe's icebergs! Not by a long shot! For example, there's everyone's favorite short-pants-wearing dragon, Fin Fang Foom!

Frozen for centuries without his trunks, the shrinkage must've been massive.  'Giganticus LeeKirbyus' indeed. Or for the literary types, Frankenstein's Monster!

No one who's ever seen a movie on the Sci-Fi Channel, ever, would think this is a good idea.  Fine, SyFy Channel. Or...the Hulk? Really? OK, whatever...

'Jan, honey, lift up your corner...yes, I know your hands are cold, mine are too...fine, why don't you just wait in the Quinjet then!' I am like this close to grabbing a random Hulk figure and an old milk carton, filling them up with water and throwing them in the fridge...

Really, it made sense in context. And Leela from Futurama? The problem is worse than I had thought! If you can think of any other iceberg-embedded Marvel (or other) characters, let me know! And if you can fix polar ice cap melting, maybe you could get on that, too.

Credits after the break!

First, we've got the classic Avengers #4, "Captain America Joins...the Avengers!" Written by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby, inks by George Roussos. It's been reprinted tons of times, but this is from Avengers Classic #4.

Then, Captain America #17-20 (volume four) "Cap Lives" by writer Dave Gibbons, penciler Lee Weeks, and inker Tom Palmer. It's like a What If that runs four issues, but a drastic improvement from...

Captain America #12-16, (still volume four) "Ice" Written by Chuck Austen, art by Jae Lee. (The cover to #16 was reprinted, minus the cover elements, in the Captain America poster book that came with the series VIII Marvel Legends Ultimate Cap!)

A far more enjoyable story was Captain America #384 (volume one, baby!) "Lair of the Ice Worm" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Danny Bulanadi.

Just as much fun: Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #19, written by Peter David, pencils by Mike Norton, inks by Norman Lee.

It took me forever to find my copy of Book of the Dead #1, reprinting Monster of Frankenstein #1, Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog adapting and expanding on Mary Shelly's Frankenstein.

Then, we've got an Earl Norem cover for Rampaging Hulk #9, and a time-travel tripup from Futurama Comics #19, "The Time Bender Trilogy, part III" Script by Ian Boothby, pencils by John Delaney, inks by Phyllis Novin. Read more!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Review, sort of: Marvel Legends Tigra, Wal-Mart Exclusive


Long before the world ever heard of "Furries," I liked Tigra. Not in a weird way, or anything; that bikini was pretty hot...let's just go on.
'Please stop pretending to be examining my amulet.'
Although I missed her first appearances in books like Giant-Size Creatures #1 and Marvel Chillers, I did catch part of her stint as a hanger-on of the Fantastic Four; then she turned up at Moondragon's Avengers try-outs in Avengers #211.
Yeah, that's a little hypocritical, Hank.
(That last was one of my first Avengers comics as a kid, Avengers #211, "...by Force of Mind!" Written by Jim Shooter, pencils by Gene Colan, inks by Dan Green.)

She would later transfer over to the West Coast Avengers, the first limited series of which was great; then 102 issues ranging from not bad to total suck. Somewhere in there, writers started playing up the cat aspect of her nature, to the point that I wouldn't be surprised if poor Tigra spent an issue coughing up hairballs and playing with yarn.

So, how is her first action figure in nine years? (The last being from the Avengers cartoon in 2000. Man, I bought a lot of those and watched the show, perhaps under the misconception that if I supported it, eventually the cartoon would bring in the big guns, Cap, Iron Man, and Thor full-time. Wrongo.) Well, like Nova, she's got her good points, and her bad. Tigra is cast in orange plastic, saving a ton on orange paint; but the paint she does have is pretty nice, especially on the stripes.
How long will she hold that pose?  Long enough to get this picture.
Her joints are the newer Hasbro style, which means she has less articulation than the older Toy Biz Legends, but there's less breaks in the sculpt, too. I may be spoiled by DCUC, though; since Tigra's hip joints are disappointing: I didn't get enough range out of them to say, put Tigra in a sitting position, and I didn't want to force them. That's too bad, for a character that's supposed to be the agile cat-girl who's usually crouched. As happens nine times out of ten to female figures, Tigra's neck joint is a bit hindered by her hair. And her tail is not a bendy, if you were wondering.
Don't tell me the extra plastic was needed for her tail...I remember being upset when Marvel Legends broke the ten dollar price point, but at $10.44, now Tigra doesn't seem like too bad of a deal: less expensive than a DCUC, only slightly more so than a much smaller Marvel Universe figure. She also comes with the head and shoulders of Nemesis/Holocaust. This is another figure were your final grade may be swayed by your appreciation of the character (or love of cat-girls), but not as much as Nova: I'd have to say Tigra's a solid B. She doesn't have as much articulation as earlier Legends like Black Widow or Ms. Marvel, but she looks better in a neutral pose, particularly her arms. Tigra is noticeably shorter than her fellow Avengers however, but that shouldn't be a deal-breaker.

If and when Hasbro continues the Marvel Legends line, there are only a few Avengers left for my ideal lineup: Quasar, Jack of Hearts, Mockingbird definitely. I wouldn't mind a Triathalon figure even. Read more!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Bound to happen, yeah.


Do falcons growl? Well, Redwing does, anyway.

Even though the effects were a bit dated when it was first aired (by the standards of ILM) I love Blake's 7. The banner (and the 'fake' banner I did a while back) are pretty influenced by its last episode. If you've never seen the show, it's a British sci-fi adventure show with surprisingly grim overtones. The heroes are rebels fighting alone against a galactic empire, the evil Federation. (Making Star Trek fans go 'hey!') Well, the leader, Blake, is a rebel; the rest are mostly criminals fighting less for heroic idealism than their own goals or skins.

Blake's 7 may not be widely remembered here, but it may have been a little more influential than you think, in terms of casting: Blake, the leader of the rebels, disappears at the end of the second season, as the actor opted out of returning to the show. He would eventually return for what would be the final episode, "Blake," which ends with most of the cast gunned down, and the series lead, self-confessed psychopath Avon, surrounded by soldiers, and grinning. Fade to black, as guns fire.

Now, the producers had planned this ending out, so any of the actors who wanted out could be written off. Anyone who signed back on, their character would merely be wounded and would miraculously survive. Pretty clever, huh? Except the show wasn't renewed, making it a remarkably bleak series finale. Which may also have made the show more memorable, honestly...but try to imagine a show like say, Star Trek: The Next Generation continuing if Patrick Stewart quit after season two, or having everyone killed in the end.

There's a lot of remakes and "re-imagings" out there, and a lot of them are completely unneccessary, but Blake's 7? Ripe for it. A good producer could take it a long ways, and if the actors give you any guff? Shoot 'em.

In other news, I'm having computer trouble, so we're running this one early. I had to do a restore, and may have to reload some programs. My brother-in-law is making me a new computer out of some stuff he had lying around, and I'm looking forward to retiring my old one. If it behaves, it'll be retired to the old computer home, used as backup. If not, it'll be retired off a bridge... Read more!