Tuesday, January 31, 2017

"End of recap!" Four word balloons to fix everything.


From last week--get it now! Deathstroke #11, "Chicago" Written by Priest, pencils by Denys Cowan, inks by Bill Sienkiewicz.

We won't talk about the plot of this issue, except to say it's great! It's really twisty: when you think you know what it is, it moves again. But in passing, Priest fixes the Creeper, reinstating reporter Jack Ryder and his speedo-wearing alter-ego with a minimum of fuss.

I had heard good things about this book up to now, and this may be as much as a fill-in issue--albeit one with a great team! But I wish if not for a full book, that Priest would revisit the Creeper every so often. Maybe as the reporter on the tail of Deathstroke, who couldn't care less...
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Monday, January 30, 2017

Someone on Twitter the other day said, "Every day feels like ten days." I don't think they're wrong, but I also think we've just seen the tip of the iceberg; and if you can take a moment to contact your senator or representative and let them know what you think. (You can find your local reps here.) I'm trying to stay in and not get swamped by the constant stream of garbage from the White House: don't give up.

But since this is a stupid blog about comics and toys, today I'm going to complain that even though every day feels like ten, it's not June yet, so I don't have a Darkhawk figure yet. Which does give us time to look at the only other Darkhawk comic I had handy, which didn't even have his name on it! From 2009, War of Kings: Ascension #3, "The End of All Things" Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, pencils by Wellington Alves, inks by Scott Hanna and Nelson Pereira. There is a nice line effect on the cover, but his head does block a good portion of the title.

Set against the larger backdrop of the latest Kree/Shi'ar War (with Vulcan one side and the Inhumans on the other) Chris Powell had seemingly found some answers about his mysterious Darkhawk armor, when he meets the similarly armored Talon, of the Fraternity of Raptors. Since Chris had been having anger-control issues with his armor, he follows Talon into the Negative Zone, which may have been a mistake: the Fraternity is not only evil, Talon intends to give Chris's armor to his brother, Razor. Chris is cast into the Null Zone, the pocket dimension-slash-operating system of the Darkhawk armors. (Presumably, where the suits go when not in use, for one thing.) Breaking free from his amulet casket, Chris is able to elude the keeper-demons and get to another one, where he meets a Skrull trapped, the living sacrifice powering the suit. (The Darkhawk armors may be as much sorcery as science, and may involve releasing an ancient spirit via a living sacrifice.) The Skrull explains, that Chris's problems may have just been him learning the system, and that he may be able to do more than he thinks.

Meanwhile, in the larger universe, Talon's plans move apace: King Blastaar is given a Cosmic Control Rod, and his marching orders. The Rod has safeguards to keep him in line, since the Fraternity wants him to not attack earth yet, but align with Vulcan and the Shi'ar. Step two in that plan: Razor, in disguise, visits Chandilar, the Shi'ar Throneworld, for an assassination that would take Vulcan out of power? I'm not sure about that, but Chris picks an unfortunate time to retake his armor from Razor: just after Razor had assassinated Empress Lilandra! (A bad time to be yelling "I did it! I did it!") Leaving Chris holding the bag, as Gladiator and Havok are coming right at him.

Having missed the previous issues, I'm not sure what was up with the markings and Christmas tree lights on Chris here. Darkhawk would somehow survive this, and I think his next appearances were in a book we mentioned the other day, Avengers Arena. Which I think he would survive as well, but I'm not sure he's shown up lately. He'll turn up; and his figure will as well.

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Friday, January 27, 2017

This weekend, do something that makes you as happy as this kid.


I don't know if I'll enjoy the Ultimate Batcave as much as that kid; but I'm not certain I'll ever enjoy anything as much as that kid. Said Batcave was marked down to $25 at Wal-Mart, so of course I grabbed it. Even if the Wife doesn't think I have room for it. (Looks around.) Maybe, but that's never stopped me before!

We also got Scarlet Witch from the Comic Book Shop, and completed the Build-a-Figure Abomination! She came with his head, and it has the grossest texture of bumps. We had picked up the rest of the Abomination's series from Amazon, and from there just yesterday also got the DC Multiverse Suicide Squad Captain Boomerang for under eight bucks. Which means I have two-thirds of Killer Croc. More parts in the drawer! Including a couple of Ghostbusters pieces, since Peter and Ray were on clearance with the Batcave; but I haven't got around to opening them yet. The Wife isn't big on toys, but was game for the Collect-and-Connect Ghostbusters logo figure, if I can find Egon and Winston. She may have to settle for the red anti-logo...

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Jonah has two six-guns, should've sent thirteen guys.


The cover proclaims "In old Gotham...Cowls of Evil!" And while one guy there appears to be wearing a klan-type hood, most of the rest there and inside have what appears to be burlap sacks on their heads. That can't be great for visibility, but their odds weren't great anyway, in today's book: from 2011, All-Star Western #2, "Showdown at House Arkham" Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, art by Moritat.

This was early in the New 52 run, with Jonah Hex teamed up with Dr. Amadeus Arkham, the namesake of the famous asylum in Batman comics. A man of science and learning, Arkham was woefully out of his depth during his time with Hex; but stumbled on gamely. This issue, the followers of the Crime Bible come for them, and Hex single-handedly kills an even dozen of them. Still, Hex has a rougher time when he and Arkham try to rescue the police chief from the inner circle of the followers of Cain, on Blackgate Isle.

Also this issue: classic El Diablo, versus zombies! Zombies caused by an Indian (or rather, Native American) curse. This chapter is largely set-up, but with great Jordi Bernet art.

Like a lot of the books I've been blogging lately, I picked up a fistful of All-Star Western when Hastings folded. But I'm not sure you could ever go wrong with cheap Jonah Hex comics.
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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

"Course."


In proper Marvel continuity, is Galactus's worldship untraceable? You might see it coming at your planet, but usually only once it's well too late. I don't think the big alien powers of the M.U. like the Kree, Skrull, or Shi'ar necessarily know where Galactus is headed at any given time: it would subtract from his mystique if they were monitoring him like a hurricane.

I know the Silver Surfer is usually able to find his boss when he needs to, but his tracking abilities and senses have been hyped up more than the other heralds. But it would make sense that they would be able to find their way to Galactus after searching who knows where for planets for him.

Amy being relieved of duty, is pretty typical of sci-fi action, when a subordinate questions his boss enough to get benched, whether they're actually right or not. He does seem pretty cheesed at Deadpool for once, though...
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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Remember when Scott Lang was respectable? No?


Even though the Fantastic Four is broken up and MIA at Marvel right now, you almost can't say it's not for lack of trying. How many times has there been an ancillary FF book, like Fantastic Force, Fantastic Four 2099, or FF? Like today's book! From 2013, FF #1, "Parts of a Hole" Written by Matt Fraction, art by Michael Allred, color art by Laura Allred.

The titular FF here is the Future Foundation, Reed Richard's initiative to raise up the next generation of geniuses. When the Fantastic Four plans a year-long trip outside of the universe, they need adult supervision for the Foundation, even if from their perspective the team will only be gone four minutes. Barring disaster. Reed recently diagnosed himself with a form of cancer, and the trip is an attempt to find a cure. Reed, and later Ben, seem to acknowledge the likelihood of something going wrong.

Each of the team brings in a replacement: Reed picks Ant-Man, Sue gets Medusa, Ben names She-Hulk, and Johnny puts up his girlfriend Darla Deering. We don't see much of her this issue, but she's the girl with pink hair wearing a Thing exo-suit. Since I hadn't seen Darla before, it would be easy to think the worst of Johnny: like he forgot to pick a replacement, and instead just went with whoever he woke up with that morning.

Mostly, we meet the young Foundation students; and Ant-Man struggles with the idea of dealing with kids, since he had recently lost his daughter Stature. She would return (albeit, seemingly younger than she had been with the Young Avengers) but it's jarring to see a mourning Ant-Man in Allred's friendly, cheery style.

Also this issue: Ant-Man works on a "kind of coil" that he wants to use to ride around instead of an ant, which seems like bad branding. Or, if it were any other artist, I'd suspect it being an excuse to avoid drawing ants!
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Monday, January 23, 2017

"We're undercover, didn't you get the memo?"

The next time Marvel Unlimited has a sale or an action figure promo or something, I should probably hop back on it; since there are a number of relatively recent titles that I've read a few issues of, but which would be a pain to try and put together a full run of. Like the recent Morbius book, or Secret Avengers, or today's book: from 2014, Avengers Undercover #6, "Going Native, part one" Written by Dennis Hopeless, art by Timothy Green II, inks by Jason Gorder.

Although there is a connection to the Avengers, I kind of wonder if they couldn't have found a better title for this book, since I think there were a ton of Avengers books on the racks at the time. And this was the sequel/follow-up to another one, Avengers Arena, in which 16 super-powered teens were kidnapped by Arcade and forced to fight to the death in Murderworld. (To be fair, Murderworld does predate both Battle Royale and the Hunger Games, but not Lord of the Flies, which was homaged on a cover as well.) The surviving kids killed Arcade, live on camera, and were then held by S.H.I.E.L.D. until Daimon Hellstrom busted them out, to give them a chance to join Baron Zemo's new Masters of Evil. (Not unlike the government cabinet style of A.I.M.'s ministers in Secret Avengers, Zemo has a city full of super-villains, with Hellstrom, Madame Masque, and Constrictor among his upper echelon.) With the exception of Cammi (who plays it straight and is locked up by the villains) the kids decide to "join" the Masters, to bring them down from the inside. Unfortunately, they didn't get the chance to tell one of their own, Death Locket.

Introduced in Avengers Arena, the cyborg girl called Death Locket was Rebecca Ryker, daughter of Harlan Ryker, who was the villain in old Deathlok comics! After she was injured in an explosion, Harlan used Deathlok technologies to rebuild her. While she wasn't the most gung-ho of the group, Death Locket was starting to come into her own, working with another young villain wannabe, Excavator. Who appeared to be a teenager with a mask and a shovel, but seemed up for it: when the Masters are deployed on A.I.M. Island, he encourages Death Locket to take the shot--on Captain America!

There are a couple nice, fairly subtle callbacks to the classic cover to Captain America #286. Death Locket's teammate (and former Runaway) Chase finally gets through to tell her they were pretending to join the Masters, please do not snipe Captain America. This leads to a scuffle between Excavator and Chase, and Death Locket is forced to choose; and shoots Chase. She's pretty dismayed about that, but she seemed somewhat compliant, like she would follow whoever gave the loudest orders: possibly because she was a teenager and Excavator's praise was the closest she had to positive reinforcement in ever, or did her supervillain dad make her a bit more obedient when she became a cyborg? I think I know where that landed at the end of the series, but I'm not sure she's appeared lately. Still another title to keep an eye out for!
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Friday, January 20, 2017

Not a leg to stand on.

We interrupt our regularly scheduled...whatever I do, to bring you a reminder about sticking to a system. Even if it only makes sense to you...

I blame Dale for this. And OAFE. Both said that the new Iron Fist figure was so great. So I sprung for him on clearance. But hey, then you might as well go all in and finish Dormammu, right? Sure, that means a Dr. Strange variant that's really, really pretty much like one we already have and a slightly underwhelming astral version--does that even glow in the dark? Weak.

Anyway, I ordered Enchantress early-on when this series came out, and picked up Bandersnatch Curlicue--I mean, movie Strange when they hit stores. Mordo and Voodoo were $12 each at Walgreens, and Nico was six-fifty the other day, so that should be all the pieces...hmm, seven. Four here, three in the packages I just bought. (Pause to pick up a box, count the figures in this series, eight.) (Followed immediately by an absurdly loud profanity.)

I've been spoiled a bit of late: the Juggernaut Build-a-Figure, for example, I got with a full case of X-Men Legends. No running around, no buying him piecemeal, put him together same day. Dormammu I didn't think I was going to complete at all, so the chest that came with Enchantress was just thrown in the desk drawer I keep all my Build-a-Figure, Collect-and-Connect orphan parts. (Oddly, it's the same drawer I sock away last issue comics for "The End" posts!) There's a good portion of the Ultra-Humanite in there, a spare Thanos head, Killer Croc pieces that may not match, a Jubilee arm...I worry about sad little homeless BaF pieces that will never be put together. Which I freely admit is ridiculous, but I still do.

The leg that came with the movie version of Dr. Strange wasn't in there, though. And it was killing me. To the point of, I considered several options. One: buy another movie Dr. Strange. Immediately. Two: see if one was on eBay, Buy It Now. Three: start digging through the boxes, containers, and shelves that comprise my collection. This would be a needle in a large, and frankly freezing, garage of a haystack; except I had a vague idea of where it had been before I moved. Which was actually more helpful than you might think: it wasn't the first place (or fifth place) I looked, but I had left the leg in a small bin with some of the figures I had bought the same day as my last Hastings run. Which actually was up in my room.

I don't think of myself as the obsessive sort, but sometimes. If I could have possibly justified it, I would've called in sick and looked until I found that leg. I found it on my lunch break, but then couldn't put it together since now I had to blog about it. But then, the gnawing was gone by that point. Anyway, lesson learned: Build-a-Figure parts need to go where they belong, the drawer. I guess the larger lesson could be, put things in their proper place, but one step at a time here.

And yet...while looking for that leg, I found an accessory and a figure I was going to need for an upcoming strip; a piece that full off my Iron Man wall light; and a toothbrush. (That last one wasn't in with my toys, but still.) Digging around is part of my process, and it's almost always fun...when I find what I was looking for.
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Thursday, January 19, 2017

"Friendly Neighborhood Morbius" doesn't seem to have the right ring.


I was vaguely aware of this book when it came out, but didn't pick up any issues until Hastings' clearance sales. Which means I could be culpable in the title's low sales and subsequent cancellation, but honestly a lot of books I actually pay money for get cancelled too. From 2013, Morbius, the Living Vampire #2, written by Joe Keatinge, art by Richard Elson, color art by Antonio Fabela.

After escaping from prison in a Spidey crossover (around about the start of Superior Spider-Man, I think) Morbius plans on heading to Horizon Labs and curing his condition, and on the advice of a helpful homeless man lays low in the superhero-free neighborhood of Brownsville. The homeless fellow admits the people and the cops aren't exactly making it a great place either; but Morbius pretty quickly runs afoul of the local crime boss, Noah St. Germain. Who straight-up looks like a bad guy from Double Dragon or Final Fight; but in best videogame--or comic--tradition, he's nowhere near the final boss. A mid-80's Spidey villain would turn up around issue #5, although I have no idea if he was the original or a replacement; and there was a new (and previously unmentioned?) big bad behind him.

For his part, Morbius admits he's not a great person, and that he's made bad choices, and will probably make more. He shows slightly more restraint than I'd have expected here, possibly so St. Germain lasts more than three pages. Despite the above, he wasn't quite done yet!...pretty much though, yes. I think this run of Morbius ran about nine issues, but now I suspect finding the last few could be a problem, since the print runs were probably a bit low...

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

"Fauxhold."


Sadly, the panel with the two Hobgoblins, was supposed to have a third one: I still have the previous version from the Spider-Man line of some years back. (We see him in an episode of "Timing," an old series here that got away from me like this one!) I think it would compare pretty favorably with the new Marvel Legends version, and might even have a better glider.

I kind of liked the Baron Mordo figure from Dr. Strange, although he didn't come with his Staff of the Living Tribunal, just a stick. He also seemed like too classy a guy to give Satana a lot of hassle.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

So every year I go on about how my Year in Toys totals could yield some valuable information, and they might have! Namely that nine times out of ten (or eleven) the first figure I buy any given year is from clearance. (One year was an eBay purchase, but our first recorded purchase in the year-end totals was from January 1, 2006; the classic Toy Biz Hulkbuster Iron Man, still a helluva figure.) This year continues the clearance trend, as we start 2017 with the Funko Magic: the Gathering Jace Beleren and Marvel Legends Nico Minoru.

Even though I don't play the game, I did end up with all six of those Magic figures. They were alright; maybe could've done with another paint app or two and some quality control. Jace's face paint is a bit iffy, perhaps reasoning he'd almost always be displayed wearing his hood; but I'm not sure his elbows loosened up to the point that I could move them. Meanwhile, Nico I might've passed on if she hadn't been $6.50; but now I've got what, five of the eight pieces for Dormammu. If I found the two Dr. Strange figures and Iron Fist for that price, I'd probably cave, but haven't yet. And could I do without the shoulder pad piece that came with Iron Fist? Everyone says he's a great figure, but...

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Monday, January 16, 2017

They stretched this story out to two issues...sorry.


The last time we checked out a classic Flash back-issue, I didn't have the next one. Still don't! Nor do I have the next issue after this one: the Flash #252, "Double-Dose of Danger!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Irv Novick, inks by Frank McLaughlin.

This issue guest-stars Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, and his wife Sue, who's looking for the missing sleuth. Sue goes to the Allens for help, even though an editorial footnote points out Sue doesn't know Barry is the Flash here. Ralph was going to stretch his face into a disguise to go undercover and try and infiltrate the criminal Chane Gang, but as he was going to toast his wife with the gingold extract that gave him his powers, he disappeared. After Sue leaves, Barry sheepishly has to explain to Iris he knows how Ralph disappeared: he picked him up on the fly to go after the Chane Gang as they escaped from a bank robbery, on foot. It's a little more effective than you'd think, since the gang members are phantoms, Flash and E-M can't grab them! They quickly deduce 3-D holograms, of course, and catch one with a projection rig in his jacket. So obvious! Except, when they return the money, it's only half-there: who got away with the rest? Elongated Man goes to investigate, and that was the last Flash saw of him.

Flash searches the city, but didn't know Ralph would be in disguise. With a classified ad, Ralph sets up a meet with the Chane Gang: identical twins, both using the holographic projectors. Chane intends to kill to protect his secret, but Ralph twists his gun like taffy? How? The next day, on the news Sue sees Ralph's disguised face in the crowd at the arrival of a supersonic transport; Flash catches the same report, as someone melts the plane, with his "elastic touch!!" Calling himself the Molder, he gives Flash a good fight, but when punched out reverts to Ralph. Then reverts back to the Molder when he recovers, and pounds Flash into jelly! Almost literally, in this case.

It's obvious drinking Gingold while being carried at super-speed didn't do Ralph any favors, but I still want to see how this wraps up! Another next issue to watch out for.
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Could've done with a bigger shelf...


I bought a detolf from Ikea a couple months back, and although the year-end group picture was on the top shelf, I hadn't got around to filling it up yet. But we've remedied that, by filling a shelf with the bulk of my Nightcrawler collection! Or at least a good chunk of it...

It's a bit cramped, and I'd still like to take some time for individual pictures of some of the foreign pieces. That and I think I was actually looking for the faux-Lego one from X-Men: Apocalypse. Did I put that with my other Legos? Well, something to keep an eye out for, then. Still, out early so I can work on next week's strip!
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Thursday, January 12, 2017

Is this a mockbuster, then?


There are few comics that burned as much goodwill with me as DC's Identity Crisis, which ran from August 2004 to February 2005. But right next to it on the racks was today's book, from August to December 2004: Marvel's Identity Disc. Specifically, we've got #2, written by Rob Rodi, pencils by John Higgins, inks by Sandu Florea.

There's a pretty good recap page: claiming to work for fabled super-criminal mastermind Tristram Silver, mystery woman Valeria Merrick brings together Sabretooth, Sandman, Juggernaut, Deadpool, Bullseye, and the Vulture. Using blackmail and threats, she wants them to help her get the fabled Identity Disc, which supposedly contains the secrets of every hero in America. Sandman doesn't buy it, and chafes at the threat to his mom; and Valeria kills him. (Yeah, like Sandman doesn't die every third appearance.) The bulk of this issue is not unlike a typical caper story, with Sabretooth and Vulture doing a smaller job for intel against A.I.M, while Deadpool and Bullseye hit a computer lab for a special decryption key, and Juggernaut watches an A.I.M. installation.

I kind of suspect both Pool and Bullseye are lying here, about their "blackmail stories." It's a little stalker-y even for Deadpool, while I can't imagine Bullseye caring if a dozen syndicates were after him: that's just more targets for him. And is it feasible to blackmail someone with no shame or fear of consequence? Bullseye tries to do a little research on Merrick, but after they hear a Tristram Silver story from a bartender, Bullseye decides he's out, double-crossing the others on his way by stealing the key. And finding pretty quickly he bit off more than he could chew, as Juggernaut and Sabretooth demolish him. (With Pool delivering a kick or three while he's down.) Merrick arrives before any permanent damage is done, taking the key and telling the team the timetable has been moved up...

We've mentioned "mockbusters" before: they usually mean the knock-off films meant to capitalize on a blockbuster film, like Trans-Morphers. Was Identity Disc intended as such, getting sales by confused comic buyers? This is a trifle compared to Identity Crisis, but at least it doesn't try to be more than it is. Namely, a riff on a modern classic crime movie, the name of which I won't mention since it could be considered a spoiler! Although, I think this post on one issue is longer than the Wikipedia entry for the entire series. And even more oddly, the disc was apparently legit! I was betting it was horsecrap at this point.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

"Leftover."


How much is leftover when Galactus eats a planet? In the alternate timeline the Thing created in Marvel Two-In-One #50 and revisited in #100, Galactus had wrecked up the place, but hadn't completely destroyed that earth. And in Secret Wars #9, the heroes stop Galactus from eating the Battleworld, which just drives him to eat his own worldship, in an attempt to build up enough power to take the Beyonder. Reed Richards points out Galactus is still going to eat them, and probably the sun as well...

Galactus has had several heralds, but every once in a while you get an oddball like Stardust. And the timeline for their service is really vague. How long was the Silver Surfer his herald? Years? Centuries? Guys like Air-Walker and Firelord couldn't have been for more than a few years. Probably the same for Terrax and Nova. I know his status changed recently, but I'm not sure Galactus has a herald right now.

Our aliens today are the Bat-Creatures from Batman v. Superman, who got figures even though they're barely in that movie and don't really have any reason to be there anyway. But I thought, if a world was about to be eaten by Galactus, and you could pick up some survivors, in some cases you may not be doing them any favors. Yay, you survived to be a homeless space refugee? Not everyone can find a planet where they have super-powers under a yellow sun, y'know.
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