Wednesday, May 24, 2017


I'm honestly surprised TV Tropes didn't have a page for "space casino," since we're taking inspiration from several here. Star Trek had more than a couple, especially Deep Space Nine and Quark's, which featured the roulette-like dabo. I don't think we've seen a casino proper in Star Wars movies--yet!--but Han won the Millennium Falcon from Lando in a game of sabacc: Lando was described as a professional gambler in several novels, so you know he visited a few; pity I don't think his Black series figure has come out yet. And the old Marvel comics featured the Wheel, a roulette-wheel shaped space station, where Han and Chewie lost their shirts (figuratively) and ended up in gladiatorial games.

When Pool rattles off the severe consequences of losing, "hocking body parts" was a subtle piece of world-building from early issues of Micronauts. When he killed the royal couple of Homeworld and took over, Baron Karza set up a brutally efficient pyramid scheme of organ transplantation with his Body Banks. While the rich elite could afford to buy new organs, the poor had three choices: gamble for life credits, possibly crapping out and losing limb and life. Join the Dog Soldiers, serve as Baron Karza's stormtroopers, and get the occasional replacement as needed. Or die, and probably get harvested anyway. If I recall correctly, his regime lasted a thousand years. Which always seemed terrifyingly plausible to me...

Slightly less plausible: the casino from the pilot episode of the original Battlestar: Galactica, "Saga of a Star World." Early on in their flight from the Cylons, the Galactica and its "ragtag, fugitive fleet" visit the planet Carillon, which has both supplies and a casino, neither of which they expected to find. The native Ovions had been using the casino to lure humans into becoming food for their larvae. Gross. You can probably find an Ovion action figure on eBay, but that was their only appearance on the show. I'm almost positive there were casinos in the Buck Rogers in the 25th Century TV show--the too on the nose "Vegas in Space." I wonder if any sets or props were re-used there.

Also, I know Babylon 5 had casinos as well, as well as Penn and Teller guest-starring in an episode! A not-very-good episode, but still. Lastly, I hadda ask Dale why the space casino was so prevalent, and he pointed out a lot of these shows feature military types, in particular pilots, who spend as much of their downtime unwinding as possible. He also noted gambling was probably one of the, ahem, less unsavory activities that they might get up to; so we'll leave it at that! And hey, it's our eleventh anniversary! Man, I'm lucky it fell on Wednesday, and I didn't have to knock out another strip...looking back, I think I counted it as the 23rd last year, and that's what I thought it was, of the top of my head, until I looked!
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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

This is one of those things I'm hesitant to clue anyone else in on...

Aside from some robots that appear in tomorrow's strip, I think the last four or five eBay auctions I bid on or won have been for loose accessories. There's been a few for Playmates Star Trek stuff: that line ran for years, and while a lot of the pieces are in oddball colors, they're still nice. There was a Simpsons one--Playmates again!--that I lost, that featured a retro ray gun that I would've loved. And most recently, got a largish box of Marvel accessories!

These two pieces sold it for me--we'll probably see why next week!

I'm pretty sure that's a gamma bomb, but appears to have been glued together. Fine. There's a girder and a frankly huge tommy gun from the Hulk Legends line: the bomb came with Abomination, the girder with the Savage Hulk, the gun with Mr. Fixit--who I have, and who is getting a second gun! There was also what I think is most of the pieces from the 2007 exclusive She-Hulk. I wonder if they'll work with the She-Hulk I have...somewhere.

A spare Nick Fury jetpack, from his first Marvel Legend. Now, to see who it would fit...

Another gun I'd always wanted: Despero's, from the 2009 DCUC Captain Atom! To date, I think Wonder Woman and Artemis are the only figures I got from that series, so I had two of the same leg for Despero, but someone will use his gun at some point. It's Cable-level huge, though. Then, that big Carnage blob-head: I thought that would be a hollow piece, like a mask, but it's solid!

I haven't the foggiest where that Spidey mask originally came from. Searching the Hulk Legends was hard enough; finding that piece seems unlikely with all the Spidey series over the years. Maybe the Marvel Select Spectacular Spider-Man?
Pretty sure I have one of those Wasps somewhere, but I did have the rest of those pieces, even the garbage can from a pre-Legends Toy Biz Spider-Sense Peter Parker! And there's always room for another Cosmic Cube; and I wonder if that Yellowjacket will go in the back of the new Wonder Man figure.
Hey, not bad!

There's some other stuff from that box: a mess of Cap shields, a bunch of those hexagonal bases I like, some axes. Still, I'm hoping I don't end up bidding against any of you later...

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Some time back, we mentioned the Protector, who used to be Marvel Boy, and who I had the action figure of before reading any comics with him in that costume. In the same vein, we saw the Venom: Spaceknight figure briefly here back in February, since I bought it the end of December 2017. His title, Venom: Spaceknight ended with #13 two months prior. I think Eddie Brock even had the symbiote back before the Spaceknight was available; and I have no idea when I got this comic: from 2016, Venom: Spaceknight #6, "Broken Plays, chapter six" Written by Robbie Thompson, art by Ariel Olivetti.

Still in space but solo from the Guardians of the Galaxy, Flash Thompson has been having space adventures, which haven't been going as planned: facing the villain Mercurio, Flash has managed to make an ally out of mercenary Pik Rollo, but Mercurio has taken the Venom symbiote. Flash's narration explains, as a high school football star, and later as a soldier, he specialized in "broken plays," when the plan fails and he has to scramble; but has been trying to change and plan and ask for help when needed. For starters, when Mercurio comes to finish off Flash, the Venom symbiote returns to Flash, all part of their plan. (It also speaks, which I'm not sure I saw much before this series!)

Flash had put together a team of allies, who take apart Mercurio's forces. Mercurio tells Venom they are weaker together, and catches a beating for his backtalk. At the end of the issue, on their ship with their friends (who probably won't be seen again soon) Flash asks the symbiote what it wants to do, and it suggests going forward...but sees its old, tongue-wagging version in a reflection.

Olivetti did the art for DC's Space Ghost a few years back, so it's pretty fitting here.
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Friday, May 19, 2017

We're ever so slightly ahead of schedule here lately, so why not burn a day checking out some of the stuff I've picked up recently? First up: Toys R Us had a sale going on the DC Multiverse Wonder Woman figures, bringing them down to about $13 each. Somewhat disappointingly, the two Wonder Woman figures are the worst of the lot! The hooded WW with the winter fur wrap isn't removable, and I'm sure there's a plain version coming later. As for the Diana figure, Action Figure Barbecue had a review that pointed something out that you won't be able to unsee: she's sculpted wearing open-toed shoes...and her toes are an unpainted, shoe-shaped mass.

Huh, I just pictured Quentin Tarentino vomiting in terror. Weird. Anyway, I'm not sure there's a graceful way to fix that at this scale and price point, but that could bother some more than others. Hippolyta and Steve came out nice, and buy the lot of them and you get the "Collect & Connect" Ares, who is pretty sweet. Huh, just realized Ares gets bare feet, so it is doable, maybe? Overall, not quite Marvel Legends good, but you could get Ares way cheaper than the usual build-a-figure.

Also from Toys R Us: their exclusive Marvel Legends Groot! While not 100% necessary if you have the old build-a-figure, the pack-in baby Groot and potted Groot are fun. I thought I had got him for a couple bucks off as well, but he was about regular ML price.

This next one might be a hair more difficult to pick up: DC Icons Static figure. He had been downgraded a bit, from a more deluxe boxed figure (like their recent Batgirl with motorcycle) to a more standard edition; which meant losing a couple accessories: I think he was originally going to have some lightning effects, alternate hand or two, and a cloth coat. The downgrade should mean a lower price point, so watch that when you shop for him. Still, he does get an alternate head--although I don't think I'll have him without the 'X' hat--and a manhole cover and lightning for him to ride around on. Which would be cool, except the peg on the manhole is too small to keep him securely on there. That's annoying, but the sculpt and paint looks sharp, and it's a character I've wanted a figure of for about ever. And I had an old coat for him from a Marvel Legends Gambit!

Meanwhile, I'm waiting on a box from eBay; which is not coming any faster no matter how many times I refresh the tracking. I'll take a picture when I get it.

A couple months ago, I bought the Wolverine on Blu-Ray, to get a free ticket to Logan. I'm a pretty easy mark for that kind of promotion, it's like getting a free DVD for a movie I was probably going to see anyway. A couple years ago, I got Alien on Blu-Ray to get a ticket for Prometheus; so this week I bought Alien: Resurrection for a ticket to Alien: Covenant. I probably won't be able to go for a week or two, but I haven't seen Resurrection for a few years, either. The back of the case mentions a 2003 special edition; maybe that fixes some of the problems from the original. Couldn't hurt.

God, what CD did I have this on? Some compilation, somewhere...Chris Cornell's death is rough, man. Right now, it looks like suicide; and I just want to put this up here: Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 800-273-8255. There are hard times, but there are reasons to hold on, too. Take care of yourselves.
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Somehow, I heard this story before I read it.

The Comic Book Shop had a pretty great sale last week--although a cynical man might think they were just trying to get my cash before the next local comicon--and I picked up another random Conan back issue, that turned out to have an interesting history: from 1980--sort of--Conan the Barbarian #116, "Crawler in the Mist!" Written by Len Wein ("Aided and abetted" by J.M. DeMatteis), art by John Buscema and Neal Adams!

Crossing the desert of Corinthia, Conan's horse is spooked by a snake that would be massive by any standards other than Conan comics; and Conan is thrown off and then bit. He tries sucking out the poison, then passes out, only to awaken on a camel? Honestly, that's not the weirdest scene transition-slash-place Conan woke up. He had been found unconscious by some traders, and one, the gnarled Rasto, has chained Conan to him as his prisoner, to be sold into slavery. Considering Rasto appears to weigh 90 pounds, and is suffering from "the wasting illness which has twisted his body," that seems optimistic. Conan proceeds to beat the other two slavers, with Rasto, swinging him on the chain! Using a handicapped man as a flail is morally suspect, but they were going to sell him, so...

Conan commandeers the remaining camel, but while being used as a blunt instrument, Rasto lost the key to the shackles. Conan appears to seriously consider lopping off Rasto's hand, but instead opts to allow him to come too, until they find someone to get them out. Riding into the evening, they come across a city; which Rasto wants no part of, believing it to be cursed. While such curses have probably come true ten times out of ten in Conan's experience, he still opts for the city, where the inhabitants are hiding and inhospitable. Possibly because a giant slug is roaming the streets at night!

The creature breaks the chain and takes off with Rasto, and while Conan doesn't owe him anything, he's come to kind of like the little guy. He ends up fighting another, black slug-creature, and crushes it with a pillar. Pretty standard operating procedure for Conan. But Rasto begs Conan not to kill the red slug, since it's really a wizard from another dimension! And Conan had just killed its soulmate, because she never learned to speak human. Harsh. The slugs had been gathering up the sick, aged, and infirm, and taking them to their "land beyond the shimmering veil," where they could live, healthy and young. Conan is so not invited.

When I picked up this issue, I thought Neal Adams was too big of a name for this era of Conan; and I was right! The bulk of this issue was from the 1976 Power Records set Conan the Barbarian: the Crawler in the Mist! I didn't have this one as a kid, but I know I downloaded it from Power Records Plaza, and so can you!
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Wednesday, May 17, 2017


I wonder about that sometimes: even though he has a bona-fide Avengers membership now (which is sure to go up in flames in Secret Empire, but that's neither here nor there) Deadpool used to be a bit shadier. So I wonder if when he beats up a villain and takes them to jail, if Deadpool's still not friendly and chatty with the baddies too. Oh, like anyone at Marvel has fought a villain since Civil War, it's 24-7 hero-on-hero action...that came out wrong.
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

This month in Black Knight; Steve Rogers, Deadpool, and a literal committee do more than our title character...

During one of Marvel's more recent big pushes, this was one of the first books to be cancelled, but that's not necessarily a reflection on its quality. Is it? From 2016, Black Knight #4, "Dark Knight, part four" Written by Frank Tieri, art by Luca Pizzari. (As sometimes happens, I had to upload that cover myself! Marvel should have interns who do that...)

Weirdworld was also getting a big push, with its own title and the Extraordinary X-Men going there for a couple; but here the Black Knight, Dane Whitman, has become king of the New Avalon region. And he's either had to make the tough choices, and deal out some bloody justice; or the Ebony Blade is turning Dane into a bloodthirsty lunatic. Maybe both: thrown in a dungeon by the Avengers Unity Squad (including Deadpool!) Dane is visited by the ghost of original Black Knight "Percy," who seems a lot more bloodthirsty himself here. Still, the citizens of New Avalon rise up--against the Avengers, they want their king back! Eventually, the citizens work out a deal with geezer Steve Rogers (who had been swinging the Blade around for a bit, even as an old man!) where Dane will stay as king, but Steve will take the Blade back to earth. A good compromise leaves everyone mad, but the only one who doesn't like this one is Dane, who seems on the verge of full junkie withdrawals.

I really, really wonder if maybe this wouldn't have done better, if Marvel had solicited it as a mini-series. But they don't seem to want to do that anymore, which is a shame: I think more people would be willing to commit to maybe four or five issues, rather than a full on-going. Now, if anyone stocked that last issue...
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Monday, May 15, 2017

I enjoy the CW's DC Comics shows, but a good 90% of the heroes problems--particularly on Flash--are probably caused by the hero themselves. Which might be why Booster Gold hasn't gotten a show or appeared yet, since he'd probably cause several times more problems than that! From 2008, Booster Gold #4, "He's Gonna Save Every One of Us!" Written by Geoff Johns and Jeff Katz, pencils by Dan Jurgens, finishes by Norm Rapmund.

On the trail of the villain Supernova, Rip Hunter and Booster have an unexpected "fender bender" in the timestream, running into Flash and Kid Flash on their cosmic treadmill! Although Rip doesn't want to mess with the Flashes' timeline, they are headed to Central City...just a few years before the Flash Museum was built, Barry notices. Booster realizes too late the bad guys wouldn't get tracked unless they wanted to be found, and he's right; as Supernova and Rex Hunter reveal themselves!

Although he wears a costume like the Silver Age Time Master did, Rip knows "Rex" is really Jason Goldstein, who had wanted to join Rip's team but also wanted to change history as he saw fit. (Rex had tried to kill Lex Luthor as a child, but Rip points out without Lex, his clone Conner Kent wouldn't be around to save billions...) Rex and Supernova plan on erasing the history of the Justice League, so they can take their place as the heroes; and they just wiped out Flash and Kid Flash, who disappear into nothingness!

Meanwhile, in a couple of subplots, a reporter tracks down Booster's ancestor Daniel, who is forced to try and pass himself off as Booster; and classic Blue Beetle Dan Garrett is interrupted during a mummy fight (!) by someone resembling the modern Beetle...

Rip and Booster figure out the scheme: they're at the night the lightning bolt hit Barry Allen's lab, splashing him with chemicals and turning him into the Flash. By the simple expedient of putting a lightning rod on the roof, they've stopped the Flash and Kid Flash from ever happening. (And probably about four hundred super-villains, but keep that to yourself!) While Rip throws down with Rex, and Skeets battles Supernova's higher-end security droid Maximillion (Black Hole shout-out!) Booster fights the condescending Supernova, who seems to know everything about him. Grabbing his mask, Booster reveals him to be--his dad! Who has an evil-looking scar and dead eye...I think Booster's origin had always mentioned him shaving points for gambling; being pushed into it by his dad may have been a later addition.

Struck by lightning, Supernova disappears, thrown into another time period. Rip beats down Rex for mentioning the name Bonnie, who Rex murdered. A lightning bolt hits the lab, history is reset, and the Flashes return. Booster doesn't consider it a win, though; and wants to get to his real mission: saving Blue Beetle Ted Kord. Rip seems to back down and agree to help, except there's one more little thing they need to fix, another temporal anomaly: Black Canary shouldn't be the current leader of the Justice League. It should be Barbara Gordon. And not as Oracle...but as Batgirl!

A big premise of this series was Booster may no longer have been an incompetent, irresponsible, glory-hound goofball; he had to pretend he was to protect the timeline. Time-travelling villains might go after Superman or Batman's past, but Booster would've been beneath notice. Still, the time-travel shenanigans, a dramatic unmasking, subplots: Booster Gold really should hit the CW again sometime. (He appeared in an episode of Smallville some time back!)
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Friday, May 12, 2017

Bushman has returned from the dead, from having his face torn off, from the dead again; but what of Conquer-Lord? Nothing.

Huh, I was mixing up the names for Bushman and Bushmaster. Which has nothing to do with today's book! From 1976, Marvel Spotlight #29, "The Deadly Gambit of Conquer-Lord!" Written by Doug Moench, art by Don Perlin. With a Kirby/Milgrom cover!

On the splash page of this issue, Moon Knight jumps Conquer-Lord as he takes a shot at the mayor...with a sniper rifle, from about twenty feet away? Well, while Moon Knight manages to save the mayor and get him to call off the manhunt on our hero, C-L takes Marlene hostage. Despite the overcompensating name, Conquer-Lord also has a number of spies all over the city, including one trying to pass himself off as Marc Spector's new valet. (There are a couple dated slurs here...) Marc pretends to get punched out, so he can follow the valet back to his boss; who has trussed up Marlene in a deathtrap over an alligator tank.

At Conquer-Lord's base, Moon Knight has to face the villain on a life-sized chessboard full of gun-toting pieces and exploding squares; which isn't really in line with MK's usual bad guys. Which might be why Conquer-Lord hasn't returned like Bushman or Black Spectre. That and the name...
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Thursday, May 11, 2017

I may have shouted "Go, Kang!" during this issue.

Kang gives the readers what they really want, and wipes the Inhumans out of the timeline, in 2016's Uncanny Inhumans #2, written by Charles Soule, pencils by Steve McNiven, inks by Jay Leisten.

Things are not going Black Bolt's way this issue: he's lost the throne of the Inhumans, he had to give his son Ahura to Kang the Conqueror, and he just returned to New Attilan to find his ex-wife Medusa making out with the Human Torch. Johnny is legitimately concerned that Black Bolt might lose his temper, or loosen his tongue and blow the place up; but Medusa knows while he might not like it, Black Bolt would accept it. Maybe.

That...that wasn't clear at all. I don't think Black Bolt has ever been shown using a standard sign language (io9 mentions, maybe he should) so he may have ruled by charades for all that time. Black Bolt had to turn Ahura over to Kang to save his life, but Kang had since turned Ahura into a weapon, destroying the Inhumans' history. In the Inhumans' council in the present, Beast notices the sudden disappearance of Gorgon, since his recent time-travel experiments (like bringing those young X-Men from the past) had left him able to see those shifts. He had invented defenses against time attack, though; and created a stable bubble around them. Johnny goes to recover some artifacts that might have clues to when Kang was attacking, but he isn't able to save two of their friends. New Inhuman Reader uses his power to take them back to face Kang in Egypt, but he unmasks and reveals himself to be a much older Ahura.

This isn't a terrible issue or anything, but it's easy enough to poke fun of after Marvel's huge, and ongoing, Inhumans push. That and with Marvel's penchant for relaunches and renumbering, I don't know how many third issues of Inhumans are out there. I also recently read an old Fantastic Four annual, where Johnny seemed very protective of then-replacement member Medusa; so them as a couple makes a bit of sense. (A bit, since I don't see it as a long-term thing.) But I can't believe Johnny would change his chest logo from a '4.'
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