Tuesday, May 21, 2024

While I often pick up random issues of Marvel Comics Presents to blog later; this one I picked up because it had an interesting cover. One of them, anyway: the Vengeance/War Machine cover is almost interchangeable with the next issue's cover! I wasn't expecting the stories within to be...kind of grotty? From 1994, Marvel Comics Presents #167.
Strangely enough, once again we blogged the next issue some time back, but I didn't even scan a page of the conclusion to the Spider-Woman serial? This issue is the second of three parts, and I think it wraps up pretty quickly in the next one, but this chapter is deeply creepy, as Julia Carpenter drives to pick up her daughter, while her stalker makes the same drive to kill her, shooting her in front of her daughter. She doesn't seem to have a secret identity anymore, so this happens immediately? Julia also has a completely human reaction to a gun in her face; that a guy super-hero would never ever have in a comic; and I think the stalker's face isn't shown the whole serial, to make the point that it could be anyone, but seems like its making him more than he was...I don't like this one. "The Great American Mall Shoot-Out, part 2 of 3," written by Nel Yomtov, pencils by John Czop, inks by Tim Dzon.
I don't know if he did any other comic work, but Paul Johnson did the cover I liked, and art for a Man-Thing serial: "Behold, the Man, conclusion" Written by Simon Jowlett, art by Paul Johnson. The Man-Thing rampages through the characters of a blocked writer, a writer named...Ted Sallis? Ted seemingly breaks through the illusion, returning to the reality of being a mindless swamp monster. Pyrrhic victory there.
"Old-Time Religion" sets up a War Machine vs. Vengeance fight, as a televangelist stirs up bad feelings, and gangs based on War Machine and Vengeance tear up Los Angeles. The "Revengers" are described as "wanting vengeance for the riots that swept L.A." which makes me think they might be kinda racist? Vengeance tries to talk them down, which fails miserably; although I'm not sure a Ghost Rider-type like that ever even tried talking things through before, but of course War Machine isn't interested in listening, either. (Written by Chris Cooper, breakdowns by Reggie Jones, finishes by Fred Harper.)
Lastly, the conclusion of a Turbo two-parter, guest-starring the Pantheon: they wanted to see if whoever wearing the Turbo-suit could be trusted with it, and while they don't think the guy Mike could, they're more impressed with the girl, Mickey. She was so much better at it, and still improving; while I think Mike would later be revealed to be a Dire Wraith or something. ("Cutting Class," written by Evan Skolnick, pencils by Guy Dorian, inks by John Stokes.) Read more!

Monday, May 20, 2024

The Watcher is here; in his traditional role as hype man.

Not to disparage the writers or letterers, but the preview for this issue, without word balloons, was more fun; because it really made it look like Kurt was mmmmmaybe pretending to be more hurt than he was, so Psylocke wouid hold him. Oh, the pain! From 2006, Uncanny X-Men #473, "Family Lies! The First Foursaken, part 2 of 3" Plot by Chris Claremont, script by Tony Bedard, pencils by Roger Cruz, inks by Victor Olazaba.
This was nearing the end of Claremont's third, and final, run on Uncanny; which I had mostly enjoyed but had maybe been spinning its wheels for a bit. Kurt's squad, with Psylocke, Rachel, Bishop and...ugh...Cannonball; up against the very, very hyped-up Jamie Braddock. The Watcher appears--and allows himself to be seen, before dropping a bunch of exposition, which feels like they're really trying to sell Jamie as a dangerous, unstoppable force of nature, and nah. Jamie also has a posse, his old crew of bad kids and hangers-on, that have powers too; and they all have very Claremont British names like "Godfrey Calthrop," and I'm kind of hoping Chris named them after brats he knew in school. There's a big sky beam, which I guess would've been novel back then and hadn't appeared in like 90 movies yet? (Watch a bunch of Honest Trailers and drink every time there's a sky beam!) There's ghostly salamanders that can pull someone's spirit out of their body; and there's another Claremont standard, as Kurt realizes Jamie has made Psylocke invisible to his old crew, so she can stop them? But everyone gets sucked into a vortex in the end...There's a blurb for "Loose Ends!" next issue, but the letters page is already hyping up #475 and new writer Ed Brubaker. (Enh...)
Also, this was back when Nightcrawler had pretty strict limitations to his powers, that seem to have completely fallen by the wayside in the years since? There's an episode of X-MEN '97, where Cyclops says "Kurt can teleport us (from the mansion) to Muir Island," and I blurted out "HE'S NOT A ####ING BUS, SCOTT." Read more!

Friday, May 17, 2024

There's next year's Halloween costume right there!


This story made me wonder if the Beagle Boys had acheived folk-hero status in Duckberg, as dressing up like a burglar doesn't seem to raise any eyebrows. Then again, I don't think I've ever seen a devil costume outside of an old Three Stooges. From 1990, Walt Disney's Donald Duck Adventures #7, "It's in the Bag!" Story and art by William Van Horn.
A not-so-friendly bet goes predictably awry, as Donald bets the nephews he could get scads more candy then them at Halloween. The boys scoff that Donald couldn't lug a pound of candy around without collapsing from exhaustion, and it's on: Donald throws on a handy devil suit, from when he was a tamale salesman in La Jolla...are we sure this isn't Daredevil's secret origin? Donald gets 'trick' repeatedly, from locals who think he's too old to be trick-or-treating. When outright theft fails, Donald is forced to change tactics, and tries to hit up the upper-crust section of town...where a burglar is already making the scene! A fun one, where Donald comes up on top in the end.
Another burglar strikes, in "Bedtime Spooks," then it's first aid vs. archaeology in "Duck-ankhamen," where the boys tape Donald up like a mummy to get their Junior Woodchuck badges-slash-shut him up for five seconds. Donald then falls into a dig, proving a local professor's pet theory about a connection between ancient Egypt and Duckberg...somehow. The details are still fuzzy, but a mummy's pretty good proof, right? And the safety pin, why, that's been around for...thousands of years...Someone is so fired. (Dialogue by Bob Foster, art by Vicar.) Read more!

Thursday, May 16, 2024

80-Page Thursdays: House of Mystery #252!

I'm slightly swamped with real-world concerns--nothing earth-shaking, just time-consuming and/or labor-intensive--but we haven't had an 80-pager here since January, and that feels long enough. Also, the framing device for this issue reminds me of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, so there's that! From 1977, House of Mystery #252, featuring stories by Paul Kupperberg, Sergio Aragonés, David Michelinie, and others; and art by Aragonés, Frank Redondo, Frank Robbins, John Calnan, and others. Cover by Neal Adams!
The House plays a big role this month, as a construction crew has orders to demolish the condemned structure. Slob of a supervisor 'Ralph' (or, at least he's wearing Ralph's helmet!) tells Cain he can take it up with the city, but orders were orders. Cain warns him, he's not the first to trifle with the House, and it's not gone well for others before him. Case in point, the opening story, "The Devil Strikes at My Old Kentucky Home!" A pair of investors buy an delapidated old house to turn into a 'haunted' amusement park; but one is getting a serious bad vibe from the place and can't convince his partner, even when creepies and crawlies start appearing. A mysterious stranger--that's obviously Cain, his silhouette is as distinctive as Batman's!--warns the fraidy-cat partner, while the other one ends up falling out a window. The house--which is of course the capital-H House--is sold at a loss to movie producers, who are scared off immediately by the seemingly self-appointed caretaker, Cain.
"The House Called Blefestry" has a mysterious title and some tight art by Alfredo Alcala; but also reads like several pages fell out of the script. Then, in "The Man Who Saw Tomorrow!" a baron tortures an alchemist for his secret to predicting the future, despite warnings. If you believed the guy could predict the future, maybe you should've listened? Next, A Bucket of Blood--er, "Markham's Masterpiece." Frustrated janitor Markham wants to be a great artist, but lacks time, training, resources, talent...few strikes against him. Then, he saves an old lady from getting hit by a bus, and she gifts him one of her chrome statues. When a museum bigwig sees it later, he thinks maybe Markham's got something after all, and wants to arrange a show; so he befriends the old woman and gets her to give him more and more statues. It's going great, until she sees his feature in the paper, with her statues: well, probably just a mistake, she can clear that right up--yeah, you know what Markham's going to do next, right? Later, Markham is out of her work, and tries her secret workroom; which I kind of doubt was going to go well for him even before the old lady's ghost shows up. Markham would've probably lost both his thumbs if she had let him try his hand at her machines.
"Grim Choice!" is like a horse-racing version of Stephen King's classic "Survivor Type," as a tycoon is disappointed on a buying trip in Argentina, until he spots a suspiciously-fast horse headed for the dog-food factory: the horse had only been caught because it wouldn't leave its mom, and might've had a strong pedigree. The tycoon has visions of the winners' circle; but when their plane goes down in the Andes, he's forced to first kill the other survivors, to keep them from eating the horse, then kill the horse when they run out of hay, then eat the horse to survive until rescue. Yeesh. Of course, no happy ending, which isn't exactly fair play, but oh well. In "Mankillers" a wizard shames a band of barbarians into supporting his campaign to slay some Amazons and take their gold: short, and no sale! Then, back to another House: the House of Secrets! Who is thrilled they're getting rid of that eyesore across the street, the House of Mystery; at least until Joe Orlando and Jenette Kahn show up with big plans to expand, and move Cain and his staff in! HoS spends most of the story giving Abel the business; Orlando and Kahn don't much notice, but aren't thrilled with the new locale anyway.
Meanwhile, Ralph hasn't been swayed by Cain's stories, so now it was time for Destiny to step in--the hooded horror host, that is--with another tale, "From Beyond the Grave!" Nice Alex Nino art here, as an old woman laments her lost fiancé, killed on their wedding day, fifty years ago. When the city workers tell her they have to move his grave, they promise not to disturb him; but she asks if she can have him, for one night...You know, I'm pretty soft-hearted. An old lady crying, hell, I'd probably cave too, even if there's obviously no way anything good was gonna happen there. Even Destiny can't deter Ralph, and the wrecking ball swings for the House...which simply dodges it. That puts the workers off, leaving Cain and Destiny to the House, which might be a bit of a mess: contents may have shifted there. 

Also this issue: another USPS Statement of Ownership. Average number of copies sold during preceding 12 months (total paid circulation): 124,000. Actual number sold for issue nearest filing date (total paid circulation): 87,583.
Read more!

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

"List."

I'm not sure if I have a copy of it handy, but Crystar #3 guest-stars Doctor Strange, as some of the Crystal Warriors end up at the Sanctum Sanctorum; which gets title billing! ("The Sanctum Sanctorum of Doctor Strange!") There's a neat little piece of worldbuilding, as one mentions Strange's library is filled with more books than he thought were in the whole of Crystalium; as they seemed to have a lot of crystals growing but not a lot of trees. So, they would probably be interested in trading for notebooks and pens, among other stuff.

I don't necessarily want to see a Frank Castle vs. Weirdworld book; I just like the idea that he's still out there. Probably blowing up orcs or something. Marvel was maybe trying to push Weirdworld around the same time they were really pushing the Inhumans, and neither really took? They're both still out there; just not as big as they tried to make them. 
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Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Ah, got my Mojo rising after all!

I was really sweating this last Friday, when the tracking said the last piece for Mojo would be delivered before six or nine or whatever, and the package was in Ohio. (My location isn't exactly secret, but spoiler alert: it ain't Ohio!) Of course, it would turn up Monday, and at long last we've got a Mojo! Counting from the first piece, it took me 17 years, 6 months, and 29 days to complete him. Previously, it took me seven and a half years to finish Giant-Man, and four years and change for Red Hulk. Man, I'm hoping I don't have those Totally Awesome Hulk parts in the drawer for anywhere near that long. 

I swear I saw TWO complete Mojo's for sale at the toy show last Saturday. Mr. Morbid asked me how I did there, and I almost sent him this:
...which feels like me wearing the action-figure equivalent of a dunce cap.
Does THIS answer your question?
That aside, it was actually a pretty good show! And like I do every toy show, I ended up buying way more comics than toys. I just do, OK? I did get Avalanche cheap, but you should get him cheap: until you've got a solid Brotherhood of Evil Mutants going, you need him for what? Nothing! Then we got Spat and Grovel...do I know which is which? The girl's Spat, right? Huh, and Grovel can talk? I wouldn't have bet on that. Both of their Marvel Wiki entries point out their creators, Scott Lobdell and Joe Madureira, seemingly went out of their way to make them as unmarketable as action figures as goddamn possible; which Toy Biz seemed to take as a challenge. A challenge they would fail; their figures were clogging up KB Toys for years: ironically, they were part of a three figure series called "Marvel's Most Wanted," with X-Man and Blink, who actually sold. Spat and Grovel haven't appeared in comics in well over 20 years, but some action figure fans will remember them like an old acquaintance they used to see all the time. (Weird, I think we've brought up KB pegwarmers twice in the last week; yet they did far, far less damage than Bain Capital...) Anyway, the guy selling them had originally intended to use Grovel in a Jabba's palace display; and I bought them because maybe they'll go with Ka-Zar and Zabu here in a bit. (I'm probably gonna have to order a case there rather than chance it; the Cable figure already seems like it's going to be a pain in the ass to find, and Zabu missing a leg would break my tender heart...)


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Monday, May 13, 2024

The cover has a hint, but it would've been a deep cut in 1995.

I grabbed a random issue of this the other day, since I could kind of place when it was from by the cover (and the big OverPower ad on the back) but had no other knowledge of it going in. And it references another title I had mmmmmmaybe vaguely heard of? From 1995, Nocturne #2, "Through the Looking Glass" Written by Dan Abnett, pencils by Rafael (Jose) Fonteriz, inks by John Stokes.
In the first issue, young documentarian Gray Poldark discovers that his pulp radio hero Night Raven had actually been real, and had hidden clues to his secret lair in his broadcasts...and his initials. N.R. for "Noise Reduction"! He follows the clues to an underground lair, and discovers a strange costume, far more advanced than the science of Night Raven's time could have produced. He then finds himself in battle with the undead Joker-like zombie Suture; but that was only a probable future, projected by the suit, called Nocturne. Trying the suit again, Gray is taken on a virtual visit to the past, right before the decrepit Night Raven died, in 1951. Gray isn't sold on taking up N.R.'s crusade, but is told it was going to happen, and that the suit could show him past or future to help. Also, your next test should be starting right about...now!
In the present, with the lair flooding, Gray puts on the suit and barely escapes, aided by a mysterious woman, who introduces herself as Mischief. That...that is a costume, all right. Night Raven had asked her to check on whoever got the suit, and she would still be around to do so, since she was a vampire. In spite of himself, Gray is pretty much onboard by this point, and rushes to rescue the kidnapped (and older than dirt) assistant to Night Raven; but then has to face Suture, for real...
If you're a big Alan Moore fan, you might recognize the original vigilante Night Raven, since Moore did a few stories with him; and he had been co-created by future V for Vendetta artist David Lloyd. (Weirdly, I just read that again the other day!) Nocturne isn't set in the Marvel Universe proper; and Night Raven has maybe shown up a few times since, like a cameo in the Twelve; because for some fans this would've felt like starting the story with like Batman or the Shadow dying and some new kid from nowhere getting the name. (I was going to say the Phantom, but that was actually built into that one!) I wanted to say Nocturne had a bit of a Batman Beyond feel, with a young newbie taking up a heroic mantle largely with the help of a tricked-out suit; but this would've predated Beyond by like four years! I also thought this would've been from one of Marvel's periodic attempts to flood the market, but man, checking Mike's, there were a ton of books out that month! Read more!