Monday, November 30, 2009
The above picture is from Hellboy: Seed of Destruction #1, story and art by Mike Mignola, with script assist by John Byrne. The Americans, assisted by Professor Bruttenholm and the Torch of Liberty, discover the baby Hellboy. Now, I was convinced there was an updated version of this picture, which omitted the Torch.
I finally had the chance to do a little research, and found this one from B.P.R.D. 1946 #1, written by Mike Mignola and Joshua Dysart, art by Paul Azaceta.
The Torch is cut off in this one from "The Chained Coffin" (from Dark Horse Presents #100-2, written and illustrated by Mike Mignola) but it does include Byrne's Doc Danger.
Friday, November 27, 2009
And yet, with a little effort, I can find a story where I like Cyclops. I just had to find one where he's not himself:
X-Factor #14, "The Mutant Program!" Written by Louise Simonson, pencils by Walt Simonson, inks by Bob Wiacek.
While the giant Sentinal Master Mold searches for one of the mutant Twelve (a plotline that wouldn't wrap up for something like eleven years) Scott Summers is a wreck. And so is his house, which he just blew up with his optic blasts. After ditching his wife and newborn son to join X-Factor (and reunite with the returned Jean Grey) Scott returns to find all record of them erased, and the house wiped of any traces, save a single baby rattle. The stress of that, coupled with the overall failure of X-Factor (trying to save mutants, while driving up hysteria by posing as mutant hunters, wasn't the best idea ever) has driven Scott a little out of his head. That, and Scott's probably heard so many of Professor X's lectures in his head over the years, that there's still some residue in there.
The cops show up and find the babbling Scott, who perhaps shouldn't have started things by mentioning how nice it was to talk to someone real for a change. Cuffed, Scott incredulously points out those can't hold him; as the imaginary Professor tells him not to blow his cover. The cops also find photos of the same redheaded girl in Scott's wallet, but he explains Jean and Maddie weren't the same at all, even if he was fooled. The cops worry, since back in the morgue, lies a body with red hair...
On their way back to the police station, Master Mold attacks the hell out of them:
The remaining cop gives Scott back his visor, so he can control his optic blasts; and instead of his usual tactical precision, Scott attacks himself as much as the Master Mold. "Xavier's biggest failure...slipped a cog...betrayed my programming..." I don't think any of the other X-Men, even the other originals, had that type of relationship with Professor X. At this point, Scott's devoted most of his life to Xavier's dream, and he knew he wasn't doing the job. He manages to destroy most of the insane Master Mold...
...but not quite! Scott lures the "skuttling mad thing" between a refinery's oil tanks, before getting grabbed. As MM rants about the Twelve, Scott considers simply blowing it and himself apart; but remembers another of Xavier's teachings: "Any clumsy fool can die...what do you take me for, an amateur?" He blasts the hand off, tricks the Master Mold into blasting the tanks, and survives under cover of the hand.
The cop pulls Scott from the wreckage, and lies, that Master Mold destroyed the house. Except now, he has to show Scott something in the morgue...
Meanwhile, back in New York, a court order gives the doctors the okay to perform the surgery to save Warren Worthington III's life...by amputating his wings.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
From Falcon #2, "Legion!" Written by James Owsley (aka Christopher Priest, of Black Panther and Quantum and Woody) with pencils by Mark "Doc" Bright and inks by Gustovich. About to be crushed by a Sentinel, Falcon pushes his mental rapport with Redwing to its limit. This was later retconned in Avengers (per Kurt Busiek, the Sentinel was malfunctioning and wrong) and in Toyfare, of all places. Reprinted from The Best of Twisted Toyfare Theatre volume 2, quite possibly Cyclops' greatest line in anything, ever:
The only time I really like Cyclops, is when he's not himself. I may have more issues like that, though...
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Redwing's grudge against the Sentinel will be explained tomorrow, oddly enough. Think we've got one more episode of this one, before we have shorter strips for the rest of the year.
But, while everything's scheduled, I'm out for the next couple days. Have a good Thanksgiving even if you're not doing anything: I'm going to my sister's, where hopefully somebody watches the Cowboys game...
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I swear, if I see Death as a handyman, I'm gonna be super-pissed at Claremont for putting the idea in my head.
...is apparently a super-strong and kinda rude Chippendales dancer. No, it's actually Death, who tries to teach Phoenix a lesson she's not going to remember anyway. Uh...hmm.
Years later, when Galactus threatened to remove the Phoenix force from Rachel Summers, she too met Death.
Wow, Death has really let himself go...why Rachel sees him as an older handyman, I have no idea. Likewise, I don't know if this is a version of Death only seen by Phoenixes, women of the Grey family, or Claremont characters. I can't imagine Thunderbird or Banshee being happy to see him...
"Flights of Angels" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Mike Collins, inks by Joe Rubinstein; and from Excalibur #25, "Guess who's coming for Phoenix?" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Chris Wozniak, inks by Allen Milgrom.
Monday, November 23, 2009
Mind you, I'm more concerned about "larp Judge Dredd," since live-action role playing the Judges would probably involve a bunch of kids with helmets, badges, and truncheons clubbing the hell out of perps. Pretend clubbing, hopefully.
In Hive, a scientist dying of cancer and a thief put together a scheme to harvest the Aliens' royal jelly from a hive. (In the comics, the jelly is used as a drug with varying effects, the scientist uses it to relive his best memories in a timeless state.) The scientist had previously built an android ant, used to infiltrate and study ant hives and behaviors; and the thief reasons, why not an android Alien?
Although Kelley's art is the big draw, Prosser's story has more than a few surprises; something that's not easy in the Aliens mythos. Usually, there's a cast of several that are going to be picked off bit by bit, but not here. The one downside, and one that comes up in most of Dark Horse's Alien books: in revealing aspects of the Aliens biology and life cycle, they get less and less...alien. And what's true in one mini-series, may not be in the next one.
Plus, anytime there's an educational reference like the above to Diogenes, that's a good sign right there.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
When a death-row inmate on Mercury is broken out of prison, moments before his execution, by a fusionkasting vigilante, blame quickly falls on Nexus. Even though Nexus' mandate is to kill murderers. And his costume is a different color. And, um, other stuff...
The inmate then commences a new murder spree, and Horatio is forced to leave off his archeological dig on Ylum with Sundra, and set out as Nexus again. In his journals, Horatio tries to work out why he continues the Merk's mission: was he bred to kill murderers? Is he a force for justice on this side of death? Or does he just enjoy his work?
Horatio's current sponsor, GQ (another of the Merk's race, but seemingly far more stable and reasonable) asks him to devote his energies elsewhere this time. Horatio senses there is something unspoken there, but is not swayed.
Before Nexus can finish the inmate, he is stopped by his newfound opposite number: Plexus. (If you ask, "Why Plexus?" you might as well ask "Why Nexus?" Because it sounds cool. And somewhat off topic, back in the First comics days, I think editor Rick Oliver had a great column about how First sank a ton of money into subliminal advertisements in grocery stores, then realized their books were direct sales only and not even available there. All they did was drive up sales of some stupid shampoo...)
Nexus and Plexus are too evenly matched, and their prolonged use of fusion power is starting to have adverse affects on the sun and the solar system. Plexus points out that "You don't cure murder with more murder." Nexus argues back that they "can no more cure murder than we can the common cold!" Both have points: while Plexus' accidental release of the inmate led to more murders, when Nexus kills someone, they're dead with no chance of appeal.
Eventually, the two are forced to stop and repair their battlefield, and both sponsors appear: Kimbo for the Plexus, and GQ. Both claim to be the last of their race.
Nexus innocently suggests the sponsors withdraw their power, so the men can settle it man to man...then throws a shard of glass into the inmate's chest, taking away any reason for the fight. (Where Horatio used to be a bit hapless without his powers, over the course of the years he became pretty hardcore.) Plexus accuses Nexus of being a thrill killer, who picks unsympathetic victims and kills with style, but a thrill killer nonetheless. Kimbo and GQ start at it with eyebeams, then both disappear. (I would've preferred a slapping match, it suits them...)
Poor Plexus is left without juice, or a ship, or the sympathy of the casino the inmate had terrorized. Nexus returns home to Sundra and the (seemingly) cheerful insanity of Ylum. Sadly, we haven't (yet) seen Plexus return, nor is it even clear if his powers returned. From Nexus: Executioner's Song #3, "Negative" (or "Plexus") Written by Mike Baron, pencils by Steve Rude, inks by Gary Martin.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Luckily, Nexus has worked out some better working conditions now: instead of suffering through terrible dreams of mass-murderers, now he's working off a list. Today's target: Dexter Qassat, who admits he was a passionate warrior who killed hundreds "who raised no hand against me" during a war for independence; but now lives as a simple farmer. An old man now, Qassat was waiting for his daughters, and Horatio spends the day with him, eventually coming to believe Qassat was "rehabilitated."
Nexus plans to move Qassat down the list, or "work overtime" so his quota is met, but finds the indignant Merk waiting for him on his ship. Horatio maintains Qassat's death would serve no purpose now, and the Merk compromises: finish three other executions instead. Horatio agrees, and the first hit is pretty straight-forward, but the next one...
Is the standing cop Grimjack, also of First Comics? Well, that's the least of my questions: did Nexus kill a baby? A bad baby, but even so? Or did he lobotomize it, which would be worse somehow? Or did he somehow wipe Glom Norr out of the baby? This page also shows why Nexus sometimes didn't enjoy the best of reputations...
From Nexus #79, "Skip Day" Written by Mike Baron, pencils by Hugh Haynes, inks by Randy Clark. This would be the second-to-last First issue...First Comics, that is. And Haynes was the regular artist for the last year or so, but we've got one more artist to check out tomorrow...
Friday, November 20, 2009
From Nexus #32, "The Visit" Written by Mike Baron, guest pencils by Jackson Guice, inks by John Nyberg. I've enjoyed "Butch" Guice's work since Micronauts, so I didn't want to forget this issue; and it was a good place to give Rude a break, since the next issue would be a big one. No spoilers, but...
Thursday, November 19, 2009
I brought V up the other day, but I might've just trailed off because I was still trying to work out how burned I felt by the Prisoner. (Answer: some, and getting more so. A couple episodes still sit in my VCR, and I haven't yet felt the inclination to watch them now.) But what I was trying to get at, was that the burn on V is a little slower than it needs to be. We know the V are lizards, we know they don't have humanity's best intentions in mind, and we know the humans are up a creek; so they don't need to tease it out. It's not friggin' Lost...
So, what are the V up to? It would be interesting if they were building up goodwill, so they could suddenly announce they were there to tell the people the good word of the prophet Xemmu or something. ABC would never have the stones for that: the V would be here to form rape gangs before they get into anything serious. But then again, like I said, I would be just fine with Michael Ironside, or even the actors already on the show, fighting a guerrilla war and blowing crap up. As long as it's not turned into an allegory for 9-11, or Obama's presidency, or even Bush's presidency. (In fact, I could really do without any allegories for anything for a while, with the possible exception of South Park, which gets a pass not merely because it's funny, but because it can do it and get out in twenty-some minutes.)
It's probably hypocritical of me to harp on V for plot holes that I would let slide in any of a number of comics; but there's little things. How many saucers are there, 20-some? And what is that, a peace armada? Is everyone really going to be caught flat-footed when the V are revealed as invading monsters? It'd be kind of nice if the army or some government actually was on the ball and had a contingency plan for when that goes south. And why do the V seemingly spend all their time in those stupid man-suits? Are they really method? Maybe they're cold? Perhaps it's an atavistic evolutionary mechanism, and they were hunters that would camouflage themselves to trick their prey? Maybe I'm having a hard time trying to think of an in-story reason for not blowing the entire show's budget on unconvincing lizard-masks or computer-generated effects.
Damn, I started this post, um, six hours or so ago, then left to do this and that. Well, maybe I'll write about some other show later, but in other news, I splurged and bought myself some gloves today. I kind of had to, my son said my old ones smelled like feet.
...but Luke McDonnell did the art, and Mike Baron the story, for Crossroads #5. A five-issue, prestige format, limited series from First Comics, Crossroads brought together most of First's titles at that time, rotating two or more per issue: Sable, Whisper, Badger, Luther Ironheart (of American Flagg!, Judah Maccabee all appear; Judah also guests here with Dreadstar, Grimjack, and Nexus.
When Vanth Dreadstar crosses over into the pan-dimensional junction Cynosure; the Merk is more than a little upset: he's an insane alien who tasks Nexus to kill mass-murderers, and Vanth destroyed his reality's Milky Way galaxy. (Back in Jim Starlin's Metamorphosis Odyssey, which is like the one chunk of Dreadstar I've never read; but frankly, it didn't come up a lot...) Calling Dreadstar "the Anti-Nexus," the Merk rather forcibly sets the reluctant Nexus on him.
Vanth does have one piece of luck: running across John Gaunt, a.k.a. Grimjack. Gaunt gives Vanth the head's-up on Cynosure's hit-and-miss laws of physics. Determined to track down Dreadstar, Nexus blows up Munden's Bar; and I don't know why it is called that, since it's Grimjack's bar. After that, it's on, and a sidetrip to a no-power dimension later, Nexus gets a good deal of comeuppance.
The whole issue could be subtitled "Honorable men can differ," and in the end Judah, Horatio, and John share a drink at a different bar; with Horatio promising full restitution. But, somewhat differently for a crossover series like this, there would be repercussions in Nexus' home book: this would be the final straw for Horatio, who would quit as Nexus in issue #52.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
(Oh, and the scan's from Marvel's Greatest Comics #67, reprinting "Within This Tortured Land" from Fantastic Four #85; written by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby, inks by Joe Sinnott. This was from the second part of a Prisoner-styled storyline, so it all fits!)
Over at Bleeding Cool, Adi Tantimedh came down pretty hard on the Prisoner remake: "So the credo of the remake is, “I am not a number, but I want to be a member of a nice community that gets along with each other!”" (A little harsh, but his review is a good read, and ties in to another of my favorite utterly misguided adaptations, Judge Dredd.) From that, I was expecting to be completely hate it, but it did have its moments...even as it came up short.
Tantimedh has a valid point about the new Number Six (played by Jim Caviezel) coming across as too vulnerable and scared; although in fairness this version isn't the trained secret agent of the original. But Patrick McGoohan wouldn't have been above decking a few guys to get out of the Village...he probably could've just pushed Ian McKellen's Number Two down and just walked off. Caviezel's Six is amnesiac and confused, and didn't have the original's spy training, or rage to fall back on. Instead of seeming driven to escape, to be free, Remake-Six seems too often like he's willing to just play along and see where things go; whereas McGoohan might have sometimes played the game, he had his own rules. (I haven't watched "Schizoid" yet, so maybe Caviezel cracks some heads in that one, but I doubt it.)
And none of this probably makes sense if you haven't seen the original. Sorry. But you should.
Not unlike the reimagined Battlestar: Galactica, there are some plot holes that come with the territory of trying to update a property in a manner both twisty and surprising; which leaves the writers throwing in plot twists as needed to tweak the viewers' expectations, then trying to force them to make sense in the end. And like B:G, the last episode of the Prisoner has an ending that gets less satisfying the more you think about it. The reason for the larger than the original's supporting cast becomes clear in the end, but also underlines why the original didn't have recurring characters, or friends in the Village: even an innocent friend can be manipulated, or gotten to.
Not to spoil it, but in the end of the remake, Six is a prisoner to his own sense of responsibility, and seems stuck for good. I wanted to be glib and say McGoohan's Six would've blown up a busload of nuns and children to get out of the Village, but that's an exaggeration. At least a slight exaggeration, anyway. Actually, although it would've been considered dirty pool to threaten children back then; it would've been interesting to see McGoohan's Six in that position: he would of course save them, even at the cost of his freedom, but there would be no doubt that this would only be a temporary setback.
Perhaps the moral of the remake is that "freedom" is ultimately a meaningless ideal, since we are all Prisoners of something, more often than not figurative than literal: Prisoners of conscience, of fear, of responsibilities, of guilt. And most of us can't choose to reject every attachment in order to truly be free.
Anyway, V is off to an enjoyable start: I liked the original as a kid, and this version has done a great job of paring off all the cheese. Reckon ABC is kicking themselves now, that there's only one episode left before a long break: seems they hedged when they should've gone all in. The mystery of the aliens is a puzzle, though: it doesn't seem like they're here merely to eat people, like the old show; although I wouldn't mind if that was it.
The other new show I've been watching is Stargate: Universe, and I'm hoping it's going to the program that swings the pendulum of sci-fi TV away from imitating aspects of Battlestar: Galactica, like systematically removing anything resembling 'fun.' But maybe more on that some other time.
Previously, Horatio's lone surviving relative arrived on Ylum, his crazy Uncle Lathe. And he's not, 'gets drunk at family holidays' crazy, Lathe is an insane Luddite who steals Ylum's newest weapon, to try and destroy the Web's black hole/energy generation project, space station Stacy. And even faced with certain death, Stacy isn't too fond of Nexus, since he killed the station's previous head, General Loomis.
Rude had taken some time off in 1987 to work with Doug Wildey on Johnny Quest, then on his Mister Miracle one-shot. But Baron didn't take the time-off: the regular plotlines continued without waiting.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
"Where in the world do the mass murderers come from?" Subtitled "A Tale of the Nexus by a Mike Baron wannabe & Avon." The main feature was written by Bryan J.L. Glass and art by Michael Avon Oeming; Ship of Fools had a run at Caliber, then another at Image, but I'm unsure how many issues total it had, or if it completed its story or was merely cancelled. (It was one of several black and white books Image put out seemingly all at once.)
I haven't had the bridge out for a bit, but then I haven't got any new pieces lately. And even though there's a couple of plot holes and a bit of inexplicably wrong science, the new Star Trek was pretty good. I don't know if I'm going to run out to buy it today, or if I'll be too busy trying to figure out how to make lens flares...that and I don't know which, if any, fancy-pants case/edition I'd want.
As usual, I cram in a batch of toys as if they're all in the same fictional continuum; but you have to figure as soon as the technology is available to build halfway decent robots, people are going to want them to look like R2-D2. I liked the Robot from the Lost in Space remake of a few years back; but then I liked about half of that movie: seemed to spiral off about halfway through, which is too bad.
Captain America does get frozen and wake up in Marvel's 2099 future, in the one-shot Manifest Destiny. I liked that one, but it's 'prestige format' and tough to cram in the scanner. The Batman and Supergirl jokes are just dumb, but they are slightly better figures than Playmate's Star Trek offerings. So far, most of the Marvel Universe figures I've picked up have been better.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Answer after the break!
From Nexus #57, "Trade War" Written by Mike Baron, inks by John Nyberg...
This month, Kitty Pryde, I mean, Sundra Peale fights a demon, Horatio returns to Ylum, and the Merk's latest candidate for the job of Nexus makes his first hit. The Next Nexus introduces himself as Stanislaus Korivitsky, and seems personable enough with Horatio, yet also seems like the Merk has a firmer leash on him.
Give up on the artist yet? Adam Hughes! I swear he must've been twelve when he did this one, back in 1989...
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Which is a damn shame, because this was a pretty good try. The only fault I see with it, is that it was set deep back in the book's continuity: on the return trip to Ylum after Nexus' first public execution on Thuneworld, Horatio has another dream of a mass-murderer, and has to make a little detour. The dream comes a little sooner than Nexus would've preferred, since he was still accompanied by refugees from Thuneworld, including Dave, who would become one of his closest friends.
Nexus arrives on a world ruled by a theocracy, where the ruling class killed thousands of protesters with a drug that caused "sleeplessness without agitation," dooming them to incoherence, then insanity and death. Although he's able to kill the evil religous leader Gigo, Nexus then has to deal with other problems, including the idolation of the people, rival splinter factions, a possible new girlfriend, and the fact that the Gigo won't stay dead...
Even though as a book, Nexus is perhaps best known for the art of co-creator Steve Rude (and rightly so), there have been other artists of note that have done some good work, in some cases early in their career. The list of guest or regular Nexus artists includes Paul Smith, Hugh Haynes, Steve Vietch, Keith Giffen, and more. All this week, we're going to check out some non-Rude Nexus issues; plus on Tuesday, a special homemade strip! Read more!
Friday, November 13, 2009
And that's probably just as well, since I remember actually caring what I wore in the 90's, and still wearing some dumbass outfits. For example, I distinctly remember having an orange, heat-sensitive long sleeve shirt. I looked like goddamn Aquaman, if Aquaman had been a skinny drunk kid with purple hair. Jesus, how I managed to have children, I have no goddamn idea sometimes...Which brings us to today's post, from 1997's X-Man #26!
First up: Nate Grey, rockin' a mesh t-shirt, leather jacket, and some kind of entirely too-tight pants; as he pays a visit to Peter Parker at the Daily Bugle. You don't see Pete with the five o'clock shadow, or the vest, very often:
Then, there's Moira MacTaggert, with her lab-ready scrubs...and Borg eyepiece. That just does not look comfortable, and I have no idea how that stays on her head. Hopefully, not attached to her hairband...
Pete Wisdom usually wore a black suit and tie: that's cool. And he usually wore it for days, smoking, drinking, smoking, eating crappy British food, smoking, and setting things on fire with his powers. Like smokes.
Mind you, I'm not complaining about Kitty's outfit.
Then, we've got Nightcrawler's on-and-off girlfriend Amanda Sefton, who appears to have zip-a-toned her legs; and Kurt in a kilt. Yeah, I have no idea why either; unless he thought maybe he could bring it back or something.
Admittedly, I wish I was brave enough to wear a kilt in everyday situations: I have the legs for it.
From X-Man #26, "Down to Earth" Written by Terry Kavanagh, pencils by Pascual Ferry, inks by Jaime Mendoza and Hack Shack. I remember X-Man as being an enjoyable read back in the day, but after a while, Nate's distrust of everyone he should trust got old. Yes, you lived in the Age of Apocalypse and everything's topsy-turvy here; but after a couple years worth of issues you should start to put it together. Granted, I seemed to recall the X-Men being surprisingly intolerant of Nate: he's not a mutant, he's a dirty mutant from an alternate reality!
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Set in a not-too-distant future, each issue is introduced by Marion Meach, a conniving, glad-handling hustler so sleazy Larry Flint would be ashamed for him. Marion should be on top of the world: his cable network the Salvation Channel is raking it in with trashy bible movies like "Jesus in America" above: "The Greatest Story ever Retold for our times." By throwing money at the Florida gubernatorial election, he got Benny Guevara elected and should have him in his pocket. And Marion just got a sweetheart deal to run a private jail for the state. And there his troubles begin.
Salvation Channel producer Bobbie Flint is on the outs with the network she helped blow up: forced to apologize and resign after an abortion, Bobbie is forced to take a new position, not quite the one the leering Meach wants her in, but close: new warden of the Paradiso Bay State Penitentiary. As Bobbie is hazed by the automated intake system, it quickly becomes obvious that the prison's a brutal, overcrowded, and corrupt nightmare; staffed by a skeleton crew of drug addicts and sadists. She wants the prison shut down, while Marion wants it to turn a profit again.
Bobbie gets the idea to do both:
Setting up pay-per-view events, phone sex banks of female inmates, and the over-the-top ringleader persona of Warden Whiplash, Bobbie's plan to expose the mistreatment of the inmates and the prison's corruption backfires: the expected outrage is virtually nonexistent, while the profits start rolling in for Marion. Even a live execution of an obviously insane woman only makes America roar for more. Meanwhile, Bobbie's estranged and troubled daughter gets herself in trouble following her mom's example...
Somehow, I don't think Cruel and Unusual has ever been collected in trade. Even in Texas. (A brief bit in the fourth issue features a knockoff Texas show that promises to "show 'em how it's done!") It's vulgar, violent, ethically questionable across the board, and still far funnier than it should be. While some may think it goes to far; I'm just glad prison hasn't gone that far yet. 'Yet' being the key modifier there...really, Arizona?
Really should do an all-Vertigo week one of these days...