Wednesday, May 18, 2022

"Quiet."

Tigra has guessed who called Quasar on his Avengers ID--we know who likes to abuse his! But which one are we getting...? Read more!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Looking at his past outfits, yeah, maybe costume design wasn't a speciality.

Sometimes a hero's costume almost has an origin of its own; other times the hero just has one, done deal. Today's series seems to be backfilling this costume's backstory, but it also makes Hawkeye seem about as sharp as a brick arrow: from 2011, Widowmaker #1-4, #1 and #3 written by Jim McCann, pencils by David Lopez, inks by Alvaro Lopez; #2 and 4 written by Duane Swierczynski, pencils by Manuel Garcia, inks by Lorenzo Ruggiero and (#2) Javier BergantiƱo.
I don't know why this series was split the way it was; I'm not sure it works. Hawkeye and Mockingbird are investigating a leaked "kill list" leading to murdered deep cover former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents: I don't think the spy agency was still active, but the agents may have continued their work. Following a tip to Russia, they are joined by Dominic Fortune--described as "seemingly ageless soldier for hire," although I'm not sure he's the original. He has a bit of a dirtbag moustache going now...And of course, the Black Widow shows up, since there are a mess of bodies at a Red Room training facility. The Widow is a step ahead of Clint and Bobbi: the kill list was absolutely a trap for them. Reviewing the Red Room footage, the murderers appear to be Japanese ultra-nationalists Dark Ocean Society, who haven't been seen for years, since their boss was killed.
The investigation is interrupted by the arrival of (some of) the Soviet Super-Soldiers: not the best looking Crimson Dynamo suit. They overpower our heroes, since they're also after Dark Ocean, and their leader...Ronin!
Unsure if that was brought up in the early stories, when Ronin's identity was unknown; or the several people that wore it before today's wearer: "Great suit! Nice lines. It previously belonged to the Japanese Jason Voorhees, but I'm sure that's not problematic at all." That link will also tell you who's the bad guy here; I always forget his real name, or that he's alive, since he wasn't for a long time. His plan wasn't great either. The covers for the series are also split, between Jae Lee and Phil Noto; and they're probably the best part.   Read more!

Monday, May 16, 2022

Maj. General Sheridan should've moved right in and put up his flag.

There's your history lesson for today! Not that Sheridan was unproblematic either, probably, but...anyway, I bought a bunch of ratty old war comics out of the quarter bin, but I don't blog them all at once. Partially because I can only take a little Haunted Tank at a time. From 1979, G.I. Combat #216, "Ghost Squadron" Created and written by Robert Kanigher, art by Sam Glanzman.
The crew of the Haunted Tank is extra gung-ho to kill some Nazis today, because they're competing with another tank for a 10-day leave in Paris. (I was momentarily; they're human beings, not a punch-card for a vacation; but eh, they're Nazis, punch them.) The ghost of General Stuart warns Jeb they weren't going to score there; and they shortly get another assignment: decoy duty. With Panzers coming in, the Haunted Tank is given the job of trying to fool them into thinking there was a whole squadron out there, by running around and being seen and broadcasting on open channels. The crew figures they're pretty dead, even picking up a priest next: the Nazis had shelled his monastery, and he was the only survivor. 

After the Tank is first spotted, Jeb takes down the Confederate banner (yay!) because he knew the enemy would recognize them as the same tank with it. A surprisingly sensitive General Stuart leaves in a huff; and shortly thereafter, the 'priest' is revealed as an SS infiltrator! Wearing his full uniform under his...frock? Habit? Cincture? The Ratzi bastard radios and blows their cover, then goes to turn the crew over at gunpoint, but another double-cross! Jeb had shot him, and wore his...cloak? Mantle? Tunic? to gun down the Panzer crews. Their boss is a little mad about disobeying orders, but they did blow up four tanks, so...As the Tank heads to Paris, they are re-Haunted by the returning General Stuart: "Generals love a winner, Jeb!" Fickle bastard...
I liked the next story more, "The Shell That Won the War!" (Written by Jan Laurie, art by George Evans.) A bored assembly plant worker is told her work is important, but doesn't seem to believe it. While the war rages on, she scrawls "Hitler--drop dead!" on a shell, that eventually makes it all the way to--just outside Berlin? While Hitler rants that he's invincible, Eisenhower gives the counter-intuitive order to cease fire: for political reasons, the Russians were going to capture Berlin, and all other forces should hold positions. But, one surly--and probably deafened--artillery man decides he didn't come all that way not to bomb something, and fires the fateful shell. It explodes near the Brandenburg Gate, rattling a certain bunker, and convincing Hitler the end was near, inspiring his suicide. Ah, you love to see it.
More of this issue later!
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Friday, May 13, 2022

We saw "Thou Shalt Have No Other Batman Before Me!" on Monday, but surprisingly the second feature of World's Finest #255 was just as long! "Nothing But a Man" Written by Elliot S! Maggin, pencils by Trevor von Eeden, inks by Vince Colletta.
The outgoing mayor of Star City, the wheelchair-bound Jack Major; wants Oliver Queen to succeed him. That's maybe the least of the endorsements Ollie's gotten, like Congresswoman Barbara Gordon, Green Lantern, and bags of cash from Bruce Wayne! His opponent seems a well-meaning but easily led shrub, and his handlers push for Ollie to appear on stage at an event, with Green Arrow: Ollie wasn't officially believed to be the archer, but a lot of people had noticed the resemblance. Ollie's campaign manager, Dinah, makes a quick call to Carol Ferris, to get Green Lantern to appear as Green Arrow. Later, Clark Kent announces live for WGBS, as most of the League turns out to stump for Ollie: Supergirl obligingly sits down to duck the word balloons. 

Aquaman makes an announcement that as far as they knew, Ollie was unaware of their endorsements; and election day Ollie votes early but still goes out to see voters. He is then abducted and taken before mobster Thaddeus Cable, who tells Ollie he's going to own him, just like he owned Jack Major. Ollie scoffs, but Cable has...transcripts? Did he get a deal on a stenographer? Still, Ollie recognizes Major's phrases and wording, and is convinced it's legit. He offers a deal, not just to look the other way, but to be an active partner..."when hell freezes over!" Ollie throws some doodad into the fuse box, then switches in the dark. He also gaslights the mobsters a bit: did Ollie change in three seconds, or did Green Arrow get him out the window? Maybe Ollie should take a page from Matt Murdock's book and get a "I'm not Green Arrow" t-shirt.
GA takes the transcripts, which include "the records of every operation since nineteen freaking fifty-five!" Cable calls out the hit order for Ollie and Major, and they try to whack them that night at campaign headquarters...with GA, GL, Black Canary, and Superman in the building. Actually, Supes doesn't even tag in, Ollie had slipped him a tip about the transcripts going to the D.A. Ollie maybe goes too rough on one of the hitters, but is interrupted by Major, who has a massive coronary and dies; before Ollie can confront or forgive him. 

Ollie was possibly losing a close race, and makes a bit of a concession speech before the shootout. Later, Clark Kent calls Ollie, who was exhausted and out, but Dinah answers. Clark thinks Ollie may have actually won the election...but through the mob's fix? And Dinah tells Clark to bury it: after fighting the mob like that, she feels he was safer as Green Arrow than Ollie Queen...and doesn't want him to fall into the same trap Major did. Huh?  A bit of a muddle at the end, there.

I feel like the intention may have been to show how hard it is to buck the political machine; but I also don't buy it since Supergirl's endorsement alone probably should've carried him? DC's heroes were usually more beloved than Marvel's; their word should've carried more weight.
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Thursday, May 12, 2022

Oddly, I bet Claremont's written more comics with Ben Grimm than Natasha Romanoff, but I would've associated him more with the latter. But, of course we get both today! From 1975, Marvel Two-In-One #10, "Is This the Day the World Ends?" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Bob Brown, inks by Klaus Janson.
You could get a lot of thugs into a 70's car, as a batch are hot on the tail of the Black Widow in a car chase through Central Park. On a pleasant walk with Alicia, Ben wonders if they aren't filming another French Connection sequel in town, until Widow's car comes barrelling at him. He tosses Alicia to safety, then gets hit. Groggy from the crash, Natasha tries to get to Ben, but is stunned; and both she and Ben are captured. (Lugging Ben, which seems like a lot of work, one goon explains it's for security: they couldn't risk if Widow got information to him or not.) As they are taken by helicopter, Alicia is left alone and confused in the park.
Ben and Natasha are taken out to a drilling platform in the North Atlantic, home of the Sword of Judgement, self-proclaimed revolutionaries. What are they revolting against? Ah, probably a laundry list of grievances and grudges; nothing we need to get into. They're led by Agamemnon, kind of a terrible name for comics, since it has to be hyphenated in his introduction. Also, as is pretty typical for Black Widow stories, she had known Agamemnon back in the day. The Sword was going to drop a nuke in the hole they had drilled, to create a tsunami that would destroy the east coast of the United States. (I feel like it would destroy some other stuff as well, but that was the primary target.) In a cell together, Ben can't punch his way through a force field, so Natasha starts taking off her top...to get at the hidden S.H.I.E.L.D. weapon she was carrying!
During their escape, a grenade destroys the winch holding the nuke, and Ben has to grab it before it falls. Can he pull it up three miles? If the Widow can keep the goons off his back, sure. In bloodless fashion, she kills a lot of them: dropping somebody off the platform into the Atlantic? Oh, they're dead all right. Natasha tries to appeal to the man Agamemnon used to be, which he thinks means she won't kill him; but Ben cracks the whip with the cable, which...it's hard to tell. It might knock Agamemnon to his death, or it might have dismembered him. Whatever! Ben has a cigar to celebrate his win, a rare one that makes him grateful to be the Thing; and he shares a bottle of champagne with Natasha while waiting for S.H.I.E.L.D. to show up.

I found an old copy the other day, but on the strength of Claremont's name, this one's been reprinted a bunch of times. If your local comic shop has a rack of those True Believers reprints, you could maybe find it now!

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Wednesday, May 11, 2022

"Give."

...so, how is the "summer of Morbius" going? I can't recall if that was a serious bit of hype or a joke, but I don't think Morbius did huge numbers. Checking year-to-date numbers Sunday, it was the number ten movie of 2022; a position I don't see it hanging onto unless COVID surges again or something. I thought it was notable Morbius didn't get a Marvel Legend: the movie Venom did; and the movie had been delayed a bunch of times. If Hasbro had wanted to do one, they would've had time.

I know I'll see the movie sooner or later; I've been waiting for the cheap theatre to get it. Actually, my Youngest was looking forward to it. I saw Multiverse of Madness yesterday, and while I don't want to say any spoiler-stuff, I thought it was neat to have Sam Raimi back doing Sam Raimi-things. Some people complain all the MCU stuff looks the same, but he stretched it a ways. 

Kurt's watch is really Luke Cage's, but it's a callback to an old ToyFare bit where somebody's going on about something, and Mego Spidey's only concern is that Buffy is on later...hoo, that kinda dates those. But ask X-types how long Kurt was in Excalibur, or how long the X-Men were in Australia, or even how old anybody is; and you're probably not going to get anything nailed down. 

Also, some shots I set up, and they collapse immediately, some like that last shot with Morby? Still standing, several days later!
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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

This may fall under that 'rule of three' we mentioned a bit ago with King Conan #25: I have two copies of it nearby, and am pretty sure I have more. Although, like that King Conan, I didn't have this as a kid, either. From 1986, Alpha Flight #32, "Short Story!" Written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by John Bogdanove, inks by Gerry Talaoc. Cover by Mike Mignola.

Puck is dismayed when Heather Hudson shows up for a training session, wearing the uniform of her dead husband Guardian: although the Alphans had accepted her as leader and she'd been doing a good job, recent events had made her feel she had gotten as far as she could without powers or training. Supporting team members Bochs and Jeffries had salvaged the new suit from the impostor "Dark Guardian," Delphine Courteny; and now Heather wanted Puck to train her, make her a warrior. Puck feels inexperience and non-innate powers led to Guardian's death, and Heather was literally coming off a desk job to this; but he had his own problems: reoccurring bouts of unbearable pain, and his long unrequited love for Heather.
The suit's power seems to go to Heather's head, but even after losing her glasses, she's able to think quickly and deactivate her suit to dodge some missiles, and knew Puck would be there to catch her when she fell. He's mildly furious, but she doesn't want to let Alpha Flight go into danger without her. Bocks and Jeffries set Heather up with new glasses, but she now thinks she'll need to find someone else to train her and flies off. Privately, Bocks asks Puck why he won't, and Puck's answer is self-pitying, sexist, ableist...it checks a lot of boxes, and not in a good way. But it may be due in part to his pain, which is finally more than he can bear...or feel like he should bear. A demonic black smoke emerges from him, releasing Razer!
This wasn't quite three years into the series--Puck, and Marrina, were introduced in Alpha Flight #1--and I'm not sure if this was the first we've seen of Puck's origin, or if this all-new: I'm fairly sure it wasn't from his creator, John Byrne, though. Puck was actually in his seventies, and had originally been 6-foot-6. Living as a soldier of fortune and adventurer, he had attempted to steal the Black Blade of Bagdad in 1939, but had instead released the life-stealing demon: slashed with Razer's black blade, Puck had lost six inches of height, related to his life force being stolen. Puck had been around, though, and quickly realizes he could contain Razer inside himself, which works, but at the cost of three feet of height. That did leave him immortal, though. After a brief skirmish with Box, Aurora, and Northstar; Puck has to take Razer back inside him, returning to his shorter stature.

I don't think I love the backfill origin: it really makes Alpha's short hairy guy more like the X-Men's short, hairy guy. There are probably a few things you could do with Puck being around in the past; but I think he was more amoral at that point as well. 
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