Tuesday, July 23, 2019

This is the fifth of eight DC Comics Presents Julie Schwartz tribute issues that we've looked at, but after Atlantis Attacks that feels like real progress! So far we've blogged Adam Strange's, the Atom's, Superman's and the Flash's. Today we've got from 2004, DC Comics Presents: Batman #1, featuring "Batman of Two Worlds" Written by Geoff Johns, pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Joe Giella; and "The Ratings War!" Written by Len Wein, art by Andy Kuhn; with an Adam Hughes cover homage to Carmine Infantino's Batman #183. (The classic cover features a Batman '66 style logo on the TV; the modern one has the logo from the then-current the Batman cartoon.)

I was kind of prepared not to like Geoff Johns's opening story, since it featured what felt like modern excess: actors portraying Batman and Robin at each other's throats, with 'Batman' the prime suspect when 'Robin' is found dead on a rooftop. Tim is mildly traumatized but not so much as to not work the case, and goes to the autopsy; while Batman interviews his counterpart, who has been taken into custody but curiously not unmasked. (Unmasking him could be a violation of his civil rights!) Batman is curious why the two actors had once been so close but had fallen out; but there's more to it then that. In fact, it's a nice twist I won't spoil here, so nyaah!

Len Wein's story is pretty good as well: a low-rated TV station has a breakout hit with "The Adventures of Batman and Robin," a new show created with live footage of the Dynamic Duo in action. Batman kind of hates the show undermining his mystique--well, that and the narration. And that it's suspicious someone has been on the spot to videotape them so often: nowadays I suppose it would be a YouTube show pasted together from cell phone cameras. There's a nice twist here as well, so just go find this one. The first story was reprinted in a Carmine Infantino trade, but I'm not sure if most of the rest of the Julie Schwartz tribute issues have been reprinted. If they were packaged with the original issues the covers were taken from, it would be worth getting.

Hmm. Just realized I don't think I have the Green Lantern one of these. Have to keep an eye out.
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Monday, July 22, 2019

Almost forgot about this one! (BOO!)

A couple months ago, we may have disparaged the Forgotten One's finest hour by suggesting no one read that, so of course I did have a copy in my garage! From 1977, the Eternals #13, "Astronauts" Written, drawn and edited by Jack Kirby; inks and letters by Mike Royer.

That title could apply to a few here: the Deviants are sending up some of their guys, in a massive bomb-ship, on a suicide mission to blow up the Celestials. General Kro wonders if they aren't blowing their wad too soon, but is overruled by their leader, Great Tode. Meanwhile, in America, the humans have sent a shuttle up, to take pictures of the Celestial mothership. And in the Eternals' Olympia, Sprite is suddenly regretting volunteering to stay behind on monitor duty. The rest of the Eternals were forming the Uni-Mind, except for one other: the lonely and nameless Forgetten One!

F-O had once been a mighty champion, known by many names throughout history, but Sprite says he was banished for his pride. But maybe a selfless act could make amends, and besides, "if Zuras is absent--his edict is absent." Altering some molecules here and there, Sprite sets him up with a spacesuit and a ship, and sends him to stop the Deviants.

The American astronauts are confused as hell: they have no idea what's up with the Celestial ship...or the ship coming after it...or the third ship coming after the second. The Celestial "One Above All" has a surprisingly expedient solution: "The crews are in the wrong ships..." The Deviants are moved over to the shuttle, and take a shot at the Americans before they're sent to the Forgotten One's ship. And the Forgotten One is sent to the Deviant ship, which he detonates early in a massive fireball. The Deviants, unfamiliar with the shuttle's controls, finish at least one part of their suicide mission by crashing into the ocean; and the Americans wonder how they're going to explain returning in a different ship than they left in! Well, it may be a nicer ship, but all their photos were gone as well. And lastly, as we saw before, the Celestials recover the Forgotten One, since he had lived up to his heroic legend.

I went through a ton of boxes this weekend, and this was just one of the many, many random comics I found to blog. From one disorganized pile to another...

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Is Atlantis done attacking? As done as it's gonna be...

So we started blogging Atlantis Attacks annuals June 2015, so it took me over four years to re-purchase or gather them all up; and yet this last one to go I actually had two of in my garage. At least two of...From 1989, Avengers West Coast Annual #4, "Gather Now Ye Seven Brides!" Story and pencils by John Byrne, inks by Terry Austin.

Because I've gone in absolutely no order, this is chapter twelve of fifteen: I think there was a New Mutants regular issue and a Marvel Comics Presents in there as well, but we're just focusing on the annuals and I don't think I ever had the other two. The Deviant Ghaur has gathered up and mesmerized seven unwilling brides for Set: She-Hulk, Andromeda, Dagger, the Scarlet Witch, Jean Grey, the Invisible Woman, and the believed-dead-at-the-time Storm. (This was during the Outback era for the X-Men, who appeared in the third chapter, but wouldn't appear again in this story. I don't think Storm was abducted that issue, but they didn't exactly help get her back, either! And I don't know if this was mandated by Claremont or X-Men editorial, but every time someone sees her, they're like "That looks like Storm--but she's dead!") Ghaur is annoyed to discover that Dagger was currently blind, which may be another setback: since the humans somehow refrained from slaughtering the Atlanteans, his blood sacrifice to bring back Set didn't go through. But there may be a workaround.

While the Avengers and the Thing meet and try to work out their next move, Ghaur sends the ladies on a fetch-quest for the mystic doo-dads he needs. They are all acting as themselves, except they have to obey Ghaur's orders, whether they like it or not. (And they don't!) A passing ship sees She-Hulk wrestling a giant squid thing, and calls in the Avengers. Iron Man is surprised when She-Hulk clocks him one, and has to stun her; later she rages trying to return to Ghaur. The Avengers opt to let her go, to lead them to Ghaur, which works: they fight their way through Ghaur's loyal Deviants and some of the brides, while Ghaur frantically tries to use the items and the other brides' powers to resurrect Set. Wonder Man destroys one of the doo-dads before it's fully charged, but thinking fast Ghaur has the Scarlet Witch use her probability-altering powers on it, so it would work. Beast makes a goal-line stand, trying to cram an iron gauntlet into the works, but too late! Set is reborn! Things look pretty bad for our heroes, and I'm not sure they would improve the next chapter, either. I know I threatened "you can sort them into order yourself," but here goes:

1. Silver Surfer Annual #2
2. Iron Man Annual #10
3. X-Men Annual #13
4. Amazing Spider-Man Annual #23
5. Punisher Annual #2
6. Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #9
7. Daredevil Annual #4 (It's really #5!)
8. Avengers Annual #18
9. New Mutants Annual #5
10. X-Factor Annual #4
11. Web of Spider-Man Annual #5
Twelve is this one, silly.
13. Thor Annual #14
14. Fantastic Four Annual #22

Also this issue: Wasp and She-Hulk rate the Avengers' hunks! A USAgent story, tying into last year's Evolutionary War annuals. A Firebird story, with some lunkhead Atlanteans trying to conquer the desert. And a Squadron Supreme-centric chapter of "The Saga of the Serpent Crown" that details the events just prior to their limited series.
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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Along with waiting super-impatiently for the new Nightcrawler figure--like, so impatiently. Imagine waiting in line at the DMV while on your third day quitting smoking and on hold with your mortgage lender, that's how cranky I am. Come to think of it, I have to go do two of those three things...But, I also ordered the Beta Ray Bill and Guardian figures. The Guardian looks like quite an upgrade from the old one, which I don't have; Bill maybe a little less so--the old one was great. I may have to get the new Spider-Woman as well, then I'd have most of today's book! From 2007, Omega Flight #1-5, "Alpha to Omega" Written by Michael Avon Oeming, art by Scott Kolins, colors by Brian Reber.

Hmm, technically, in this series Spider-Woman was using the name Arachne; and we saw her get roped into this previously in Ms. Marvel. This was set during "the Initiative," when all good little super-heroes had to be registered under Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony Stark. The plot comes from an unintended consequence of registration: unregistered super-humans were fleeing into Canada and causing trouble, including the Wrecking Crew. And the Canadian government decided they needed a new response team, since Alpha Flight was mostly currently dead: Sasquatch and Talisman may have been the only survivors at the time. While Sasquatch is guilted into taking the reins of a new team, it's too soon for Talisman...until Sasquatch gets beaten and captured by the Wrecking Crew.

Arachne and USAgent are loaners from America, since Canada thought this was largely America's fault. The current "Guardian" wasn't Canadian either, he was Michael Pointer, a mutant that had absorbed a ton of energy after the Scarlet Witch's "No More Mutants" and had been controlled and used to kill Alpha Flight. Or at least some of AF; looking at Pointer's wiki entry Snowbird had survived as well. Still, he had killed Talisman's dad Shaman, so she's not especially keen to work with him. As the Wrecking Crew unleash some demons, another hero arrives, although he wouldn't really join the team; most of them didn't even seem to learn his name: Beta Ray Bill! The demons were the same that attacked his people years ago, so he's ready to stomp the hell out of them.

So I mentioned the other day getting a whole bunch of comics from Entertainmart: I thought I grabbed this, but I got it when I went back to get long boxes. Mildly surprising, since I'll usually jump right away to get an entire limited series in one go, especially for cheaper than the cost of a single issue! This was a fun little series, but by the time it's all set up, it's over; and not much if any of it was followed up again. Pointer may have spent a bit as Guardian or Vindicator, but that might be it. A shame, since there was potential: issue after issue of USAgent complaining about Canadian life while being slowly won over by it. Arachne's daughter loving and excelling at Canadian school. The Canadian government struggling to convince heroes to join a super-hero program with a higher mortality rate than the Suicide Squad. And so on...(A Yukon Jack is mentioned, with Sasquatch noting time-travel had done his head in; but until looking him up I thought that was a joke!)

Another thought: given the glamour shot of 'Daisy' fighting USAgent, I wonder if this had gone to series, if she might not have eventually become a team member: Alpha Flight had a solid tradition of turning minor villains into heroes.
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Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Do they still write Rogue and Gambit's accents out phonetically? I kind of hope not. Also, is Rogue invulnerable anymore? No, right? That deadfall might leave a mark, then; but as Gambit mentioned the Danger Room is largely nerfed for safety.

I ordered a new camera (not through Amazon, screw Prime Day) and will hopefully get it in time to finish the last chapter of this one before I go on vacation! If not, we have some other strips; but I don't want to leave this hanging.
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Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The cover's kind of a spoiler, but I think readers were ready for this one to end...

I feel like someone will probably be able to mention three or four I'm forgetting (or haven't read...) but who was the last breakout villain in the Superman books? I'm going with Doomsday and the Cyborg Superman, since it feels like they're both trotted out all the time; but remember Conduit? He got an action figure, y'know! That may be still on a peg near you...From 1995, Action Comics #711, "Home and the Hollow Heart!" Written by David Michelinie, pencils by Jackson Guice, inks by Denis Rodier.

Conduit was probably doomed from the get-go, since his origin hinged on knowing Clark Kent was Superman: without any follow-up research, I think he was a high-school rival who pieced it together, then became resentful that he was using his powers in football. Clark argues he didn't even have his powers then, but Kenny's not having that; besides, he's got a bunch of daddy issues too. By this point, Clark, his parents, and Lois were all believed dead; but Lois had been separated from the Kents, who had gone into hiding, so they didn't know she was alive. This final battle was set at a fake Smallville, built somewhere in the Dakotas, with an army of robotic citizens that loved Kenny and hated Clark. (I don't know if Conduit built his robot minions himself, or bought them from Toyman or somebody. He apparently had some kind of spy syndicate, so had the resources for it. Traditionally, if you have that kind of money to burn you buy supercars or cocaine or something, but in the DCU...) Facing off at the stadium (packed with replicas of Kenny's dad) Superman realizes there's no talking him out of it, and opts to take off his shirt (and associated emblem) so they can face each other as "just Clark and Kenny." No heat vision, no kryptonite blasts. That lasts about three punches...

Thrown into (and smashing) a robot at the concession stand, Supes realizes they were hard-wired, and tears the power cable out of the ground. Cramming it into Conduit, he overloads and then burns out. Did Superman just kill that guy? Eh, Kenny probably could've stopped sucking down the power if he hadn't been so dead-set on killing Supes. I don't think Superman had to spend as many issues cleaning up this mess--rebuilding his secret identity, finding Lois, covering up evidence--as it took to get here, but it might be close. It probably would've been easy enough to bring him back, or have someone else take up the mantle, but to date no one's bothered.
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Monday, July 15, 2019

Generic Blog Post.

I don't remember my family buying any, but I do remember generic packaging being a fad in the 80's. Instead of a brand name or even store brand, the generic alternatives were in a plain white label, with nutritional information, a bar code, and that was about it. The theory was the generic options would be less expensive, even though they were often produced by the same factories that made the fancier versions. I'm actually hard pressed to remember ever seeing any in hand, honestly. This one I thought was just a joke when I saw it on the Mighty Marvel Checklist, even if it was in the Hype Box! From 1984, Generic Comic Book #1. There aren't credits, but per the GCD it was written by Steve Skeates. Somewhat appropriately, my copy is slightly dented and has an aftermarket price tag on it; but as a direct market book it doesn't have a proper UPC code! I don't know if there were newsstand copies.

The ad copy promises a super hero and a villain, and it does deliver, without a lot of frills. Our nameless hero is a hard-luck case in the vein of Spider-Man, before even getting his powers: while he was engaged and his parents were alive, he wasn't making enough money for his own home or to afford an operation for his comatose little brother. (Can't afford to move out of his parents' or healthcare? I'm surprised this hasn't been repackaged as Millennial Comic Book #1. It's just as tired of a joke.) He even gets mugged on his way home, which leads to him taking out his anger on his beloved Three Mile Island snow globe. He had collected radium-covered glow-in-the-dark trinkets for years, which finally ends up giving him powers now: your standard super-strength, super-speed, and so forth, along with white hair.

At his nondescript office, our hero gets the hassle from his immediate supervisor, who hates him; and a rather forward co-worker. After a check-in with the villain of the piece, the hero goes to Super Hero Suits of Flushing Inc. for a suit, and has to go with the generic white option. He's able to stop a few muggers, but the bad guy's hypno-helmet makes him doubt himself, and he gets knocked out. Regrouping with a plan, the hero finds the bad guy and his thugs robbing his office, and stops them, since he had recorded a little positive affirmation for himself to counter the hypnosis. Things are looking up for our hero...for about three panels. In the Mighty Marvel Manner, he suffers a reversal after that: his boss had set up the robbery, to cover his embezzlement. With him arrested, the hero's supervisor was now running the office, so he could forget that promotion. In utter despair, he realizes he's actually worse off than he was before becoming a super-hero. That's a bit of a down ending, but it's also a quintessential Marvel ending, isn't it? The hero beats the bad guy, finds himself even more screwed: No spoilers, but they even recently ended a movie like that.

I read this thing again to post this, and were there jokes in it? Did they just not land for me? Or was this played largely straight? The bit with the muscles popping had to be a joke...But as far as a lot of the plot and the supporting characters go, you would see versions of them in tons of Marvel (and other) comics, for years. Also, I'm hoping Moon Knight isn't the generic superhero outfit with a couple after-market add-ons and a hood. Another blogger did a pretty good takedown of this one here, so check it out for more scans.
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Friday, July 12, 2019

The cover makes it look like this one's going to be a no-holds-barred, 12-round slobber-knocker of a brawl. In actual fact, it gets four pages; one more than an imaginary story and the same as a subplot about his daughter! From 1987, Captain Atom #5, "The Return of Dr. Spectro" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Pat Broderick, inks by Bob Smith.

Several plotlines are running at once here, not necessarily to collide soon, either: a reporter reads her boss a story from Captain Atom's biography, featuring a battle between him and Dr. Spectro. Supposedly, they had fought many times in the years when the Captain had operated in secret, but that was a cover story cooked up by the government, to more quickly sell the public on their hero. No way that could backfire on them...cleverly, the 'flashback' stories featured the classic Ditko look for the Captain. The reporter wants to find Dr. Spectro and get his side of the story for a tell-all book. Following a lead, she finds the former assistant of the Rainbow Raider, who denies everything, but then seems awfully interested in the advance for the book.

Meanwhile, in his civilian identity, Nathaniel Adam takes his daughter to the carnival: they're getting along fine, even if the age difference is weird. Since Adam was launched forward in time when he got his powers, they were only five years apart now! And his daughter's stepdad was his boss, General Eiling, who calls him back to duty early to appear at an air show. The Captain grins and bears it, but some of the audience isn't impressed; among them Ronnie Raymond, half of Firestorm! When an automated jet seems to go haywire, Ronnie interrupts Professor Stein's lunch in order to leap into action as Firestorm! Completely unnecessarily: the jet was just a demonstration, and Captain Atom stops Firestorm from intervening, then suggests he "lighten up!"

Nathaniel's fellow officer Jeff seems to have realized his secret identity; while the reporter finishes her interview with "Dr. Spectro" only to be told by her editor it was a scam! The "disinformation scandal" was breaking, all of Captain Atom's history was going to be revealed as fake, and the reporter is kicking herself for getting snowed by the Doctor. Only, while he had made the whole thing up from her idea, he now had actual super-villain stuff, and kills the reporter, becoming Dr. Spectro for real...

This reminded me a bit of the first X-Factor stories, when they were pretending to be mutant hunters in order to save mutants: a cover story that's such a whopper of a lie it's hard to believe they could be surprised when it falls apart. And it falls apart quick! Meanwhile, Pat Broderick had done more than a few issues on Fury of Firestorm, so this was a seamless fit there. But Firestorm's status quo might've drastically changed the next time he saw the Captain; we may have to see some other time.
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Thursday, July 11, 2019

80-Page Thursdays: Superman Family #190!

From 1978, Superman Family #190, "The Museum of Eternity" Story idea by Tom DeFalco and E. Nelson Bridwell; written by DeFalco, Bridwell, Gerry Conway, Bob Toomey, Paul Kupperberg, and Jack C. Harris; with art by Jack Abel, Ken Landgraf, Juan Ortiz, Win Mortimer, Kurt Schaffenberger, and more.

This was the last 80-pager for this title, and they went out with a "full-length Superman family novel!" that ran through all the usual features: Krypto, Nightwing and Flamebird, Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane. Oh, and Superman too. Although King Cougar's gang just tried to wack him at the Daily Planet, Jimmy has a bigger story drop in his lap when a call from his dad drops off: his entire hometown of Hartsdale has disappeared! Not due to an entire generation leaving rural America for the promise of better paying jobs and social opportunities in urban areas, literally disappeared. Jimmy suspected Brainiac, but knew he was in "space prison!" Still, after seeing a rabbit hop through a dimensional rip, Jimmy watches an armed alien come through, and can 'hear' him telepathically. The alien takes a shot at him, and Jimmy responds with a pretty impressive kick to the face. Helping himself to the alien's clothes, he investigates the rip and discovers an alien museum, with dozens of habitats stolen from earth. After he overhears the aliens planning a Kryptonian exhibit, Jimmy decides maybe it's time to call in Superman, but is discovered and jumped by the returning first alien. Desperate, Jimmy activates his signal watch, and throws it through the rip.

Meanwhile, Superman watches Lois Lane wave from Kandor: wearing special "gravity boots" to survive the Kryptonian conditions, she was visiting to get an interview with "Golden Age great" TNT. (Looking it up, post-Crisis TNT died in WWII. Possibly several different times...) Hearing Jimmy's watch, Supes investigates the empty site of Hartsdale, finds Jimmy's watch, and wrestles open a shrinking dimensional rip; which takes him to a methane-filled environment filled with angry green locals. Following more rips to different earth settings, Superman starts to wonder if he's being led, as he's weakened by an orange sun habitat. One of the aliens, calling himself "an apprentice curator of the preservers" takes a shot at him; to lure Superman into charging with him into a red sun area--and Superman recognizes the buildings there, from Kandor!

With Kandor enlarged, Lois is by Superman's side shortly, with Nightwing and Flamebird arriving shortly thereafter. But the curators send in a "purifier" robot, for Lois, since she doesn't belong in the Kryptonian exhibit. While the guys get clobbered, Lois figures out how to work her gravity boots like the Atom's weight controls, and is kicking the robot's ass, until it dissolves her boots and she can't even stand up in the higher gravity. Lois gets thrown into a cell next to Jimmy, with a robot getting ready to dissect them both; but Lois fakes being knocked out and kicks out the robot's optics. Chased by the purifier, Lois throws it into a generator, destroying it. Jimmy has information gleaned from the aliens' minds: the captives are exhibits in a cosmic museum, prevented from breaking out by a telepathic mental block. While they try to reach Kandor on a stolen hovercraft, the aliens threaten to retaliate against earth...in forty minutes or so, I guess.

Meanwhile, Krypto has also been captured, and is sent to the Kandor exhibit in a laser cage; which begs the question why cage him inside a bigger cage? Nightwing and Flamebird use their science to get Krypto out, and gear him up: the mental block doesn't affect him, so he can go from exhibit to exhibit. While he can't find the big machine to smash and get everyone out, he does find Jimmy and Lois, who want him to take them back to Kandor. But, in case there weren't enough problems, the Phantom Zone criminals have also been released in Kandor! Flamebird had actually spent some time 'inside,' so his old cellmates are thrilled to see him. While none of them have powers now, the Phantom Zoners want out pretty bad, but unlike Ver-Na, a wanted separatist leader, they don't seem to realize they've left one cage for another. Ver-Na considers it worse than the bottle, and agrees to help. Flamebird faces off against Jax-Ur in single combat to decide it, and while beating him explains how they're stuck.

By now, Superman has realized the aliens have taken all of the survivors of Krypton, except three: Supergirl and her parents, who were returning to the Fortress of Solitude. (Supergirl's mom mentions returning to Kandor, how they could enlarge to come and go I don't know.) Getting a message from a Jimmy Carter-resembling president, Supergirl heads to the Hartsdale site, and re-opens the dimensional rip and enters. Krypto, Lois, and Jimmy stop her just before she enters the Kandor habitat and gets trapped. Still, since there was an opening (to lure her in) Krypto is able to go in and bring Superman over to it. They try to form a chain, but they're only able to pull Superman out. But, with his powers back, Superman is able to help Supergirl bring more over; including some of the criminals. The aliens are no match for multiple powered Kryptonians, and are beaten soundly.

Supergirl points out they can't return cities stolen from the past to the present; there would be massive culture shock, as well as there may be other cities in their place now. Finding an uninhabited earthlike world, she suggests they settle it with the former exhibits, placing them all far enough apart they won't interact right away. And then the recall button (or whatever) is pressed, and everyone is back where they belong: Hartsdale, Kandor, the Phantom Zoners, even Krypto.

I may have to check out the next issue here soon, since I remember the cover for it from a house ad. I don't remember if it was hyping the intro of a Superboy feature, or because the page count was dropping to 64.
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Wednesday, July 10, 2019


It had been a month since the last Pool and Kurt strip? Weird. That may have been because I did a couple that didn't fit in there, and scheduled them for later.

Almost at the end here, the flash on my beloved, and ancient, Canon SD600 died! How will I overexpose things now? Okay, my two settings were pitch black or overexposed. I took a couple pictures with my phone--actually several pictures, before getting a couple passable ones. Technically the phone may be a better camera, I just don't like it as much.

And we left Moon Knight in space with Man-Wolf and Gwenpool about a year ago; so I figured I'd better put him back. I think Man-Wolf and Gwen could be there with him, and they still wouldn't believe him. Or stop trying to medicate him. Gwen and Manny might even help...I actually don't know if I've seen Moon Knight and Daredevil together that often, but I definitely can see DD being sick of his nonsense.

Nighthawk gets called up because they needed a fourth for bridge.

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