Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Punisher: Armor Wars" might've sold more copies, but would've been a spoiler...

Our title today's a bit of a spoiler, so if you were planning on reading this one from 1990, sorry! Punisher: the Prize, written by Chris Henderson, art by Mike Harris.

This was another of several prestige format Punisher books, on the tailend of his 80's heyday. On the trail of a mysterious arms auction, Frank goes undercover as a mercenary, to work with a pretty young reporter and a former Iron Man supporting character. (Security chief Vincent Martinelli, a deep cut, but nice use of continuity.) The weapon up for bids turns out to be an old Iron Man suit. Really old, a gray one: I wouldn't have thought there were that many of those to lose. There was still at least one floating around in Iron Man #300...

You don't see this very often anymore, but this was from a time when writers at least pretended that Frank might someday work past his loss and find his way to a normal life and wasn't completely dead inside. Looking back, that may have been a pretty brief time...Out of all those prestige format books Marvel did with the Punisher, offhand the only one I remember buying new was Punisher: G-Force, which was from 1992. That heyday lasted longer than I may have thought!

I know some storyline is coming up with Frank in the War Machine armor, which might be a good thing: it feels like his book may have had its moments over the last couple of years, but has overall lost some traction. Maybe a spell in the suit will do him some good.
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Something happens today, right? Don't tell me...


Today's the 2017 total eclipse of the sun, if you live in the United States. Certain parts of the states, I should say: it's not a complete eclipse in my neck of the woods, but it'll be something.

Knocked this one out quicker than usual--and it shows, sorry!--but I haven't had some of those DC Universe Classics figures out for a while. I still have to make a pinhole viewer for myself; slapped one together for my son the other day. Have fun, but be careful, and if you go full Eclipso I don't want to hear it...
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Friday, August 18, 2017

So, to Daredevil, wrestling professionally is just as bad as murder.


Where did he get his law degree again? Well, maybe he's punchy after today's comic! From 1983, Daredevil #200, "Redemption" Written by Denny O'Neil, pencils by William Johnson, inks by Danny Bulanadi (who has inked a ton of comics we've looked at here!) and a cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin.

Bullseye is back...in New York, for his job as the Kingpin's assassin; after having been patched back together with adamantium in Japan. (I'm not sure how much adamantium: I always thought he had the full skeleton like Wolverine, but per the GCD it might've just been his spine.) The Kingpin's willing to give him the position, if he can finish off Daredevil; or he's blowing smoke up Bullseye's ass and figures DD would take out that loose cannon. Conveniently, Bullseye and DD currently share a psychic link; which seems to give them a rudimentary knowledge of where the other is. Matt Murdock returns from Japan, with a broken arm from the previous issues, but is still intent on stopping Bullseye. After a brief visit from Black Widow, and the traditional bar fight, Daredevil tracks Bullseye down to a condemned arena; where Bullseye's been holed up and practicing. Still, although he can't see the posters still up there, Matt realizes he's been there before.

As a young child, Matt visited the arena to see his dad "Battlin' Jack Murdock" fight; but instead finds him...wrestling. Oh, the shame of it all! The ignominy! No wonder Matt wears a mask, he's ashamed to show his face! Seriously, Jack is doing good, honest work to support himself and his son; yet cries and acts like he had to shoot Old Yeller. Anyway, despite fighting one-handed, Daredevil is pretty much able to walk all over Bullseye, except for a slight reversal when he pulls a gun. Since DD had refrained from killing him before, like he wasn't worth it, Bullseye intends to return the favor; except by going on with his murders and letting DD know how he failed to stop him. This gives DD the strength to rally; but the memory of his crying, wrestling dad reminds him to stay true to himself. And Bullseye would go on with his murders, yet somehow this is a win for Daredevil. Hmm.

I want to say I saw this on the spinner racks back in the day, and was confused why the 200th issue wasn't a big, double-sized extravaganza; I think I was conditioned to expect that already.
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

80-Page Thursday: Justice League Quarterly #16!


Previously, it took the combined might of Ty Templeton and Mike Parobeck to get me to like a twelve-page General Glory story; and today we have 80 non-stop pages of him...yikes. From 1994, Justice League Quarterly #16, "Visions of Glory" Written by Paul Kupperberg, art by Vince Giarrano, Rick Stasi, Curt Swan, Khato, Danny Rodriguez, and more.

Guy Gardner makes a brief appearance, visiting General Glory's civilian identity, Joe Jones, in the hospital. As Guy leaves, Joe meets his new roommate, former cop Donovan Wallace, who was paralyzed while saving a child during a shootout. To try and keep Donovan's spirits up--and maybe teach a little something about American perseverance--Joe retells several General Glory comic-book stories, most of which were probably fiction even in-universe; but they can still serve as inspiration. (Double-G had disappeared at the end of WWII, but his comic apparently continued well into the 90's!) We have a 50's style General Glory vs. "Groout, the creature who came from the cracks in the earth!" Then Curt Swan art for a very Silver Age "Moolah Murphy Goes Straight!" followed by a Dark Knight Returns pastiche and a 90's Image-style super-team book.

In the end, Joe remembers what put him in the hospital: after the JLA's last battle against Overmaster, General Glory had said his magic oath backwards and returned to the form of Joe Jones...a 70-year-old man who's heart could no longer take the strain. (GG was a Captain America parody, but also cribbed a little from Captain Marvel; which I always thought was a bridge too far. Pick one!) Joe transfers the mantle to Donovan, giving him the power to be a new vision of Grim-n-Gritty--I mean, General Glory. I'm not sure he was seen again, except per Wikipedia, where he was killed by Vandal Savage's Fourth Reich super-villain team. Which seems unnecessary: if your bad guys are naming themselves after Nazis, you probably don't need to have them kill a parody to establish their badness. This issue was mostly harmless fluff; but that discovery leaves a bad taste.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"Magus."


Hmm. Deadpool debuted in 1991, and Infinity Crusade was 1993, so Pool could have been there! Of course, he wasn't, but someone may remedy that someday. Looking at the crossover issues, it's odd that while mutants appeared in the main series (Rogue, Wolverine, Storm, and even Strong Guy appear on the covers) there weren't any X-title crossovers. Presumably, they had their own things going that year...Aside from a brief cameo on a viewscreen in Infinity Gauntlet, Nightcrawler and the rest of Excalibur don't appear in any of the trilogy.

The "Clowns" issue of Warlock Pool mentions is Strange Tales #181, which has been reprinted a few times. It's a legitimate classic, well worth tracking down. I probably read it sometime in the 90's in Fantasy Masterpieces #11, and maybe had half an idea what was going on.
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Today, a different Captain punching Nazis.


And lions, and cowboys, and aliens, oh my! From 1991-92, Armageddon: the Alien Agenda #2-4, written by Jonathan Peterson, pencils by Mike Netzer, Alan Weiss, and Dick Giordano; inks by Joe Rubinstein and Steve Mitchell.

I re-read the first issue of this mini-series last year, but I thought there was another Captain Atom-led mini-series between this one and Armageddon: Inferno. Nope! It's all piled up here. Nathaniel Adam ends up in Nero's Rome, then DC's wild west, then World War II; thrown forward from prehistoric times by the energy released from the detonator aliens intended to use to collapse earth (and the rest of the solar system) into a wormhole. His powers keep kicking on and off as well, just to keep it from being too easy. Meanwhile, stupid lunkhead dope Monarch works with the aliens, who promise to send him to his correct time if he gets the detonator for them; but that's a lie: travelling back in time would kill him, then the aliens would destroy earth in prehistoric times, so he'd never be born, either! Which either makes the aliens' plan hinge on causing a paradox, or Monarch double-stupid.

While the aliens are able to put Monarch and a few others in suspended animation, to chase down Atom in the 'future,' the rest of them live out their lives, hidden behind a force field that both protects and separates them from the outside world. By the mid-twentieth century, their society seems to have gone a bit mad; partially because they hadn't realized if Monarch was going to have ever succeeded, they would never have existed there. After smashing a concentration camp, Captain Atom catches up with Monarch at a secret Pacific atomic bomb test. In the ensuing scuffle the detonator is shattered, the a-bomb causes a massive tidal wave that swamps the observer ships, and the Captain is thrown forward to the present, 1991! Monarch disappears in the timestream, the aliens are still plotting against Captain Atom, and a caption box promises a new title for him...that didn't seem to happen, but he would go on with the Justice League, Extreme Justice, and L.A.W. Kind of a downward spiral there...

Years later, there would be another miniseries, Captain Atom: Armageddon, where he was sent to the Wildstorm universe for a bit. I haven't read it, but it did set up my favorite post from the old blog Random Panels.
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Monday, August 14, 2017

I should've saved this for the second-to-last week of the year...


For about as long as I've been doing "The End" Week, where I check out the last issue of a comic; Conan the Barbarian #275 has been a grail for me. It's got "The End!" right on the cover, for Crom's sake. And per a quick Google search, it's probably upwards of $35 at the cheapest: before I'd spring for that, I'd probably opt for Dark Horse's reprint volume, Chronicles of Conan volume 34; which would also include today's issue: from 1993, Conan the Barbarian #274, "Demon-Wings over Zamora" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Mike Docherty, inks by Ricardo Villagran.

Conan's band of mercenaries is looking at an unusual downturn in the job market, with what could be a dry spell of peace coming up. Still, Conan doesn't even get the night off, as he is attacked by masked cultists who refer to him as the "god-slayer," and conk him on the noggin and make off with him. (This is a traditional way of changing scenes in Conan, Warlord, any number of comics like it!) Conan wakes up in Shadizar the wicked, chained to an altar, and surrounded by cultists. A not-unfamiliar situation for the barbarian, but this time it was on purpose, rather than by happenstance: the cultists recognized Conan as the one that killed their god, some ten years ago, in Conan the Barbarian #6! (From 1971, and older than even me!) Back in that issue, the 'god' had been a giant bat; this time around it's a relatively large bat-woman...

Although Conan kills several of the cultists and sets their new tower on fire, he can't stop the bat-woman from carrying him off to her cave. He's ready to fight it out, but the bat-woman is somewhat beguiling, and Conan finds himself drawn to her. Or hypnotized, either or. Only the noise of her monstrous, more bat-like children save Conan; and he sets another fire to take them out. (Conan the Arsonist this issue...) Fighting the bat-woman, Conan chokes her out in mid-air and jumps to safety, feeling a moment of pity for her as she crashes and dies.

This might be as close as I get to that last issue; but that regret is mitigated a bit since per the GCD, Conan #275 doesn't even have a proper ending, it's continued in Savage Sword of Conan #218! Which is probably slightly easier and cheaper to find, but still.
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Friday, August 11, 2017

Wait, how do you magnetize aluminum? Stupid useless Google...


We've long since established that if I find a whole limited series in the quarter (or dollar!) bins I'm pretty much obligated to buy it. (Sometimes even not so whole ones, judging by how many I'm missing a single issue of!) But occasionally I'm willing to grab a single; particularly one as promising as today's book! From 1993, Stanley and His Monster #1, "How to Build a Tree Fort" Written and penciled by Phil Foglio, inks by Chuck Fiala. (With Michael Golden inks on the cover, and ink assists from Jim Aparo and Dennis Janke!)

Rambunctious boy (near) genius Stanley and his pet Spot return this issue; 'Spot' actually being a demon exiled from hell for the crime of being too nice. ('Contaminated by goodness' was how Lucifer might have put it.) And they are smack dab in the middle of DC and what would become Vertigo continuity, as angels Duma and Remiel are now in charge of Hell, after Lucifer quit in Sandman #22! The dismayed angels are agog to realize another demon is missing ("Etrigan is bad enough...") when a hellspawn tells them during roll call, without mentioning Spot's goodness.

That bit of serious foreshadowing aside, the rest of the issue is sheer fun, as Stanley finds in the attic "the Heterodyne Boys Big Book of Fun" (which I took as a riff on Huey, Dewey, and Louie's Junior Woodchucks' Guidebook and Reservoir of Inexhaustible Knowledge) containing everything from how to magnetize aluminum to zeppelin plans to how build a tree fort. Hijinks ensue, along with a couple of pretty good dream sequences, before a certain killjoy shuts 'em down...

I'm going to choose to ignore their appearances in Kevin Smith's Green Arrow, so the only other Stanley & His Monster comic I have was their brief origin in Secret Origins #48. I didn't find it on Comixology either, so it's either going to fall into my lap sometime, or I'm never gonna find it...
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Today, an unhinged President raises the threat of nuclear annihilation!...in this comic.


Hoo boy, this felt too on the nose when I picked it up last week; this week it doesn't seem funny at all. Then again, I'm not sure there were a lot of jokes in this one anyway: from 2001, The Adventures of Superman #597, "Rubber Crutch" Written by Joe Casey, art by Derec Aucoin.

This issue, there's more than a little voters' remorse in Smallville, as President Luthor is becoming increasingly erratic, starting with a cross-country campaign tour for his re-election--barely a year into his term! Which is primarily a smoke screen, to get him into position to launch a series of nuclear missiles! Admittedly, this president has an excuse: he's been infected by the Joker, as part of the Last Laugh crossover!

Superman has stop both the nukes, and the Lexbots VP Pete Ross had to send out to bring Luthor in; and Luthor is turned into S.T.A.R. Labs to be cured. Meanwhile, Pete makes another tough choice, and gives the kill order for the Joker...!

Looking over that checklist, the only book I think I bought from the entire crossover was Superboy #93, because it guest-starred the Creeper. I don't recall it being very good, though. No, I probably bought JLA #59, too. I think that was better than this one; but I tapped out of the rest of the storyline. It happens.
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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

"Passenger."


Of course I bring it up then can't find it (although, you might check this pretty image-intensive Comicvine page) but in one of Jim Starlin's more recent books with Warlock, his costume was changed retroactively: as far as anyone else would know, that was the costume he always had. (Mark Gruenwald did something like that in Quasar #18, that was a pretty big plot point later...) I'll keep my eye out, but I ran into a different one when I just checked.

Pool got shot up his last visit to engineering, by a Gremlin! About a year and a half back. This space trip is not wrapping up quickly...honestly, I'm hoping I get to the point where Pool and Kurt can come back, and not believe current events ever happened...

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

He's a shark, he's a shark, he's a shark!


It's hard for me to believe, but it was just a little over a year ago I was breaking my legs trying to get the last piece for Mattel's DC Multiverse Justice Buster, an okay but not mind-blowing Batman robot thing. Today, I was going to call this a wash, but instead decided it was well worth it instead: the DC Multiverse King Shark!

Let's break it down here: back in February, I bought Batgirl from the Comic Book Shop. On two separate trips to Montana, I bought the next four at a Wal-Mart: first Bat-Gordon and TV's Hawkman, then DKR Joker and Jay Garrick. (I am super annoyed that Jay isn't the version played by original TV Flash John Wesley Shipp! Maybe Mattel will give us an alt-head sometime.)

I had to eBay Zoom, although I couldn't tell you why he was the hard one to find. I saw all the rest at retail at least once--obviously, I guess. So I ended up paying just a smidge below retail plus tax per figure, because I didn't pay tax for the four from Montana and they were a hair cheaper there as well. ($126.28 total for the six, but Zoom was $37 of that, shipped.)

Out of those six, Batgirl and Bat-Gordon aren't bad, and Gordon may be even better than I thought, for reasons we'll have to revisit later. Zoom and Jay add a bit of play value to the earlier Flash and Reverse-Flash, and I wish I had a turntable to mount them on, so they could chase each other in circles all day! The Legends of Tomorrow Hawkman is still on my work desk. I'm not sure why, except that I'm messy. DKR Joker still leaves me cold, but I think his head joint is compatible with Masters of the Universe Classics! He may end up with Clawful's head or something...

But King Shark! His elbow articulation is just shy of none, his jeans aren't especially well painted, he can't turn his neck; but I don't care, I love him. His head sculpt is magnificent, and might even be interchangeable with the hammerhead version that came with the Toys R Us exclusive Damian Wayne Robin. (I'm mildly scared to try it: I'm worried it would get stuck, and I prefer the not-hammerhead one.)

Hmm. I had to give this a moment's thought: I mentioned the Justice Buster earlier, and after that I finished Killer Croc. In 2016 I finished the "New 52" Doomsday (now with horns!) but not the Batman v. Superman grapple-hook gun. (Although, pieces of it show up in the background here and there.) Going back over the numbers, Doomsday was only a little over sixty bucks for the six figures to build him. Before those, the last DC "Collect-n-Connect" completed was the second-to-last of them from DCUC, in November 2013, S.T.R.I.P.E. And he might've been a year old by the time I got him. Oh, and we finished Ares earlier too!

I'm already in for one of Mattel's next Collect-n-Connect figures, but have already planned for a little less scrambling. Hopefully soon...


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