Friday, March 29, 2019

"Sinister."


A pleasant surprise yesterday: found the new Marvel Legends Nighthawk! Then I was able to find the old Marvel Legends Hyperion! I thought I had set him aside for just this occasion, but nope! Hype was in the same bin he'd been in since his last strip in 2016. Their Squadron Sinister teammate Speed Demon--formerly the Whizzer, when they were together, Speed Demon's his post-group solo work--had somehow weaseled his way into Flash scenes.

I have an idea for their fourth member, possibly kinda-sorta based on the current continuity. Meanwhile, while I saw Living Laser, Citizen V, and quantum whatzit armor Cap yesterday; I didn't bite yet. Probably would've for Hercules, so I'll just have to keep an eye out.


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Thursday, March 28, 2019


I thought this was a different issue, but I had blogged that one already, so it works out. From 1991, Forgotten Realms #23, "Unreal Estate" Written by Jeff Grubb, pencils by Chas Truog, inks by Dave Simons.

The crew of the Realms Master is in bad shape after the end of the Avatar crossover: their ship had been destroyed, for one thing. Since the rules of magic had changed--somewhat literally, with a new edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons--wizard Omen was addled and useless. Golem (and former dwarf) Minder had a new body. Paladin Agrivar's alcoholism had been amplified by an angry god; namely Labelas, the patron of elf cleric Vartan. Labelas had been a colossal prick during the crossover and had nearly taken over Vartan's body, which was a little disillusioning for him. When a random encounter brings them to a band of elves fighting a human merchant caravan; Vartan is somewhat unsurprised to discover Labelas put a lot of spin on the events in Avatar, painting himself (and incidentally, Vartan) has the big heroes of it.

The elves are, somewhat overzealously, defending the ruins of Myth Drannor. The merchants claim to have written permission to travel through there, which halfling Foxy immediately recognizes as a fake. Defensively, the merchant admits he won it in a card game, from a "little person" like Foxy. To calm everyone down, and maybe keep Agrivar from drinking for five minutes, Vartan sends Foxy and Agrivar ahead to investigate the "little person." Who has been hanging out in the Black Cross, a tavern. Okay, there's a few problems with Vartan's plan.

At the Black Cross, Foxy and Agrivar find the "little person," who claims not to be a halfling, but "just one of the many 'little folk' you find anywhere in the Realms. Just trying to survive in a world where everything is bigger than us." It's a pretty obvious play for sympathy, he seems to be doing just fine. Still, he loses his enchanted mug to Agrivar, who thinks he can take him, then proceeds to lose his shirt. The "little person" was a leprechaun, polymorphing the cards as needed. Foxy then challenges him, betting Agrivar's services, and also losing, badly. Still, Foxy had only been stalling, for Minder's arrival. Although Minder would be immune to polymorph (or at least so Foxy claims...) he challenges the leprechaun to a final high card match. That Foxy wins, since he had been cheating, too. In the end, even though he had made mistakes, Agrivar is willing to continue on with his friends, rather than drink himself to death. The small victories.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2019

"Dissolve."


Typically, this is a problem for super-villains, particularly Flash ones: "Hey, I just invented something that will change human history! Better use it to rob banks..." Spider-Man has long been plagued with the notion that nobody would want to pay for an adhesive that dissolves in an hour; and I think Peter David had the idea in Last Avengers Story that he would eventually sell the formula to 3M, maker of Post-It Notes, and cash in. It would be far and away more useful in the field of non-lethal restraints, wouldn't it? People getting webbed up instead of shot; if only. I don't know if there's a legit in-story reason why not, but hopefully mine makes sense.
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Tuesday, March 26, 2019

What about REAL emotions, like vague annoyance? That's the only one I seem to have, anyway.


It's Adam Strange vs. Psycho-Man today--er, no, sorry, that's "The Emotion-Master of Space!" From a coverless Strange Adventures #243, reprinting 1963's Mystery in Space #83, written by Gardner Fox, pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Murphy Anderson.

When Adam zeta-beams to Rann this morning, his girl Alanna and the rest of the people immediately turn on him; which honestly does seem to happen like every other time he goes back there. Adam is able to outfly and outfight them, but then receives a mental message from the real bad guy, a smug green bastard in a ship shaped like what, a sparkplug? Turning his "emotionizer" on Adam, he makes Adam his "friend," unable to lift a hand against him. Then he gets down to the real work, switching his planet and Rann's places, because a platinum-eating space bird was coming. That's Adam's problem now! Also, the planet-swap has made some of the local flora poisonous, as Alanna finds out when her puppy dies. We don't see the puppy, alive or dead, just take their word for it. How Alanna doesn't go all John Wick on those green bastards, I don't know.

Also this issue: "Emperor of the Earth!" From 1961's Strange Tales #131, written by Gardner Fox, art by Murphy Anderson. This is a relatively fun if absolutely boiler-plate standard sci-fi short: a science reporter finds his heirloom "scarlet stickpin diamond" has a duplicate in a pawn shop, and buys it. The two diamonds fit together, and the reporter receives a message from a beautiful girl in the hidden world of "Myorthis." Travelling to Brazil, he meets the griffin-riding Lyra, and has to fight mad scientist Zagor from firing up an ancient machine to change the earth's rotational axis. Once the day is saved, Lyra is free to come to America and marry the reporter, a happy ending...if she wanted to be a housewife, since that was probably the only option for her there! She had a goddamn griffin! Don't give that up...
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Monday, March 25, 2019

I'm a bit behind today, since I was reading Stephen King's the Outsider over the weekend, so just a quick one where Clark Kent seems to fake his death, and not bother to undo it later! From 1973, Action Comics #426, "Master of the Moon Rocks!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Curt Swan, and inks by Murphy Anderson.

Steve Lombard is showing off his new convertible to Clark Kent, when mysterious rocks shear the wing off of a jet liner. In order to get away and change into Superman, Clark "falls" out of the car as it takes a corner, leaving Steve to try and find him. Or his corpse, since that probably wouldn't have done a person much good. Supes saves the plane, as the rocks reach their goal: a mysterious brand that at first glance I thought was a peace symbol.

There are a few clues so you could guess this issue's mystery villain; but I was distracted by the "Anti-Lunar League," a xenophobic cult who believed earth was being tainted by alien material, like the moon rocks brought back by the Apollo missions. It's a very specific fear, and I have to wonder if this was in any way based on real life. What am I saying, if they had Twitter in 1973 the Anti-Lunar League would've had three hundred thousand followers.

The lead Superman story is only ten pages, and doesn't feature the usual denouement where Clark shows back up and gives a sheepish excuse for disappearing. At least Steve makes some effort to rescue Clark...presumably before fleeing to Mexico. Also this issue: Green Arrow in "The Wrong Side of the Tracks!" (Written by Elliot S! Maggin, pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Dick Giordano) and the Human Target in "The Short Walk to Disaster Contract!" (Written by Len Wein, pencils by Dick Giordano.)
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Friday, March 22, 2019

I'm fairly sure this isn't in the next Avengers movie. 90% at least.


It was a race to see which piece would arrive first, and of course they both arrived the same day: we finished the Marvel Legends movie Thanos and SP//DR Build-a-Figures!

Walgreens has had $13.99 Legends for the better part of this month, which led to me hopping on some deals. Actually, I think I bought Cloak and Dagger the week before the sale started, because I'm a moron; then got Elektra, black costume Daredevil, and House of M Spider-Man cheap. The Scarlet Spider cost me, since I had to order from GameStop--that's not a slight on them, I just never saw him in any store. (I never saw the retro card Scarlet Spider with the blond head, either...) The Youngest didn't really like him though, since the design is different than the one from Into the Spider-Verse.

In the course of that, I somehow found an Infinity War Cap still at a Walgreens; which led to getting a Taskmaster from the Comic Book Shop; then to getting a leg off of eBay. All of which feels like a lot of work to build this derpy creep...the head has a terrible, terribly smug expression. Did Dale tell me he looked like Bill Cosby mugging for a pudding pop? Well, I'm gonna blame him, anyway. I liked the previous BAF and the Wal-Mart exclusive Thanos...es better; he needs his little hat!

Maybe this could be in the next movie. I'll be avoiding spoilers for the next month, so don't tell me if I'm right. (I'm not.)

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Are we sure Lady Deathstrike didn't just buy a bike?


Japanese girl, check; cybernetic arms, check; showing a ton of cleavage, you better believe that's a check! But today's character predates Lady Deathstrike by at least several months, depending on how you look at it. From 1982, Ghost Rider #75, "Beware the Steel Wind!" Plot and script by J.M. DeMatteis, plot and pencils by Bob Budiansky, inks by Dave Simons.

A new stunt-biker arrives at the Quentin Carnival: the showy, if cold, Steel Wind. And the carnival doesn't need two bikers, so Johnny Blaze is given the boot: Johnny is shocked, but glumly goes along with it, until his fellow carnies rally around him. Why Quentin takes Steel Wind's side is unclear, but it seems she has some leverage on him. Still, Quentin agrees to a race between her and Johnny to see who stays. Although she cheats with a hidden laser, Johnny is still skillful and resourceful enough to win--except the Ghost Rider, demanding to be let out, interrupts and distracts him at a crucial moment. Defeated, Johnny leaves the carnival, thus beginning Steel Wind's new reign of terrific management...no, that should be reign of terror.

Reporter Cynthia Randolph, who had been travelling with the carnival for a story, does her homework and learns Steel Wind had ridden several other carnivals into the ground; and convinces Johnny to return. This time it's a full-on fight, although Johnny had brought a mirror to defend against the lasers. (Ugh, that's a tired bit; even if it might've worked.) That's no good against flamethrowers, though; so the Ghost Rider steps in, forcing the transformation. Although she gives a good effort, Steel Wind is no match against the supernatural fury of the Rider, who leaves her seemingly burnt out and catatonic. Later, the shadowy Freakmaster realizes his agent has failed, and he may have to take action himself...

Maybe it's the mask or the costume, but I don't think I would've guessed Steel Wind was at all Asian. Still, she predates Yuriko Oyama's first appearance in Daredevil #197; and Yuriko wouldn't become Lady Deathstrike until Alpha Flight #33. The similarities may just be coincidence; although I might've retconned Steel Wind to be a "prototype" for Deathstrike. Further complicating the issue, I think SW's sister also received a cyborg treatment, and was known as "Steel Vengeance" for a time.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

"Throw."


Y'know, in the original "Great Game" story, what will actually happen if Lord Order or Master Chaos wins isn't really spelled out, either. I may be thinking of old Crystar issues: the crystal guys were on Order's side, the lava guys on team Chaos. Trying to get other lords of order in play, the wizard Ogeode tries to make the argument, but gets sidetracked into a discussion about how chaos is part of nature too. It doesn't go over well.

We also, um, gloss over, why Cable or the Black Knight would fight for Dormammu. (Sif and Thor, because Odin's a dick.) I don't think they're hypnotized or anything; maybe Odin's rep is worse than I figured. Or the Knight just wanted to face Kurt in battle; and Cable usually assumes Pool is going to be on the wrong side of whatever.

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

It would be hilarious if it needed more post-production special effects than the rest...


Last week Destin Daniel Cretton was picked to direct Marvel's (upcoming, eventually) Shang-Chi movie--wait, are they going with that as the title, and not Master of Kung Fu? Huh. Well, encouragingly enough, it sounds like they plan on leaning hard into the martial arts side of things--something the Iron Fist show didn't push hard enough, y'ask me. While I'm not a huge fan of the character, I still have some issues here and there, or keep grabbing them from the quarter bins. Like this one! From 1980, Master of Kung Fu #93, "Midnight Wind" Written by Doug Moench, pencils by Mike Zeck, inks by Gene Day.

In Chinatown, Shang and Leiko are enjoying a visit to a used bookstore; so the issue opens with the parable they had read. They don't have much time to dwell on it, as they are soon reunited with their old friend, Black Jack Tarr! Who needs help rescuing a girl from a cult, the Dawning Light. Shang had been around enough by that point to guess Tarr wasn't doing this out of the kindness of his heart: the girl had stolen "tradecraft," papers from the Ministry of Defense. Something was up with the Dawning Light...The magenta robes aren't particularly threatening, although I'd write that off as an artifact of comic book coloring and printing. (White robes would show images from the other side of the page, right? And black robes would be a mess.)

The girl, Mandy Greville, is rescued in fairly short order, but is profoundly ungrateful: it's not yet clear if she was brainwashed, or a "true believer." Even though Tarr had known her since she was a child, she still promises to kill him...Until looking this up in the GCD, I didn't realize this was a three-part story. I'm guessing Mandy doesn't succeed, though.

I always associate this book with a lot of captions; I wonder if that could carry into a film version? Like, Shang's narration never stops, fight scene or no...

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Monday, March 18, 2019

He's bulging with what could be muscles!


Do you really want to pick a fight with a construction worker in the Marvel universe's New York City? I mean, the whole city is probably being rebuilt from some super-hero fight or another all year, 24-7. Guy's probably built like a...and I can't think of a way to finish that sentence without swearing. Well, let's just get into my coverless copy here of Avengers #114, "Night of the Swordsman" Written by Steve Englehart, pencils by Bob Brown, inks by Mike Esposito.

The Scarlet Witch is not in a great mood here; as anti-mutant panic was up, and her brother Quicksilver had basically bagged out, having just married Crystal and gone to live with the Inhumans. Wanda also wasn't sure where her relationship with the Vision was going: although he had recently recovered from injuries (damage?) she takes offense Cap and Iron Man pointing out he was an android, different from them. Storming out of Avengers Mansion, she is accosted by a construction worker, and lets him have it; namely, a hex blast. That doesn't seem to do much, or at least enough; but she gets an assist from Mantis, who leaves his ass unconscious on the street.

Back at the mansion, Cap is a hard case, pointing out Mantis is a security risk. And he's less thrilled to see her bringing the Swordsman! After having betrayed the Avengers multiple times, Swordy had fallen on hard times and hard drinking; before Mantis took an interest in him and turned him around. Cap is unconvinced, but Wanda wants to give him a chance; which I think is less that she believed in him than was sick of Cap and the other guys making all the calls. The other Avengers seemingly agree, offering Swordsman probationary status. Mantis would hang out, but wasn't particularly interested in membership; at least yet.

The Swordsman fights alongside Thor for a few days--fighting no one of any real importance. It might've been nice if that had been seen in Thor's book, but no go. He seems on the verge of going bad while sparring with the Vision and Black Panther, but stays true. Later, when the team sees a news report of Hawkeye (fighting Zzzax with the Hulk!) Swordsman doesn't lavish praise on his former pupil, calling him a grandstander: true, but Cap wonders if maybe Swordy just didn't want Hawkeye around. Cap writes that off as paranoia, although he'd feel differently if he saw Mantis and Swordman summon...the Lion God! Which had attacked the team just two issues prior, although I don't think I'd ever seen him. He had something against the Panther, and promises Mantis and Swordsman "the warm glow of my gratitude!" Could've at least offered a gift card, particularly since Mantis takes down Thor with a surprise neck-strike!

The Avengers are felled quickly, and the Lion God plans on burning the Panther at the stake; before the Swordsman and Mantis hypnotize him with "psychedelic blade-work" and Mantis's dancing! Um...hmm. The Lion God is captured in an adamantium cylinder, for Thor to get rid of him later; as Swordy and Mantis explain she had sensed the Lion God's "malignant force" and knew they couldn't beat him, so set this trap; having no time to warn the suspicious Avengers beforehand. All's swell that ends swell; although Cap still wonders if this was a blind, setting them up for a later betrayal...

I think this was Mantis's second appearance? Like the Lion God, she first appeared in Avengers #112. Englehart really, really liked her. I'm kind of surprised she had an issue off. Oh, and today's title? From Futurama, of course!

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