Friday, January 18, 2019

Wouldn't a solid silver crossbow bolt be pretty heavy and fly like crap?

Well, I'm sure there's a reason for it. From 1979, Warlord #22, "The Beast in the Tower!" Written and penciled by Mike Grell, inks by Vince Colletta.

Travis is at a low point this month: in the previous issue he defeated Deimos again, but seemingly at the cost of his son's life. (Not really; Deimos had a clone made.) Without his wife or his companions, Travis is drinking abusively in a bar in the terminator area of Skartaris: that's a section of perpetual twilight instead of eternal daylight, and probably easier to drink your problems away in. An old seer offers to read his palm, and Travis drunkenly tells him he knows his future. He's not completely wasted, though, as he's able to fight off some bandits outside the tavern, with the help of a mysterious girl, who saves him by killing one with a silver crossbow bolt.

Immediately after, the girl is captured by soldiers, and locked in a tower before Travis can intervene. Shooting his way in, he finds the tower bigger on the inside, but enh, that probably wasn't even the weirdest thing he saw today. He's attacked by a giant snake that gives him two pages of hassle--with four pages of ads between them, which made it seem like a tougher fight--then the remaining soldiers, before encountering...whatever this thing is!

Pinned, Travis stabs the beast with the crossbow bolt he picked up earlier, killing it. Of course, it reverts into the girl, and he realizes she was a werewolf...of some sort. (Not the last he'd meet in the series; nor the first if you count the Snowbeast from Warlord #9.) The old seer explains she was his daughter, and this had been a ruse to set Travis up to save her.

This issue would be a return to single issue stories for a bit, and this might've been a start of pulling Travis out of depression. Maybe. I'm going to read the next issue in a moment, even if I won't post about it for years...
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Thursday, January 17, 2019

Am I going to find the missing issue of this series?

We blogged the first issue of this series a couple months back, but a recent action figure pickup made me give this conclusion another look: from 1997, Imperial Guard #3, "A Mad God Awakens!" Written by Brian Augustyn, pencils by Chuck Wojtkiewicz, inks by Ray Snyder; and dedicated to the memory of Mark Gruenwald.

I had thought the Kree Commando may have been a conscript to the Imperial Guard, but he may have been a volunteer. Or obeying the voice in his head. Still, while his time on the Guard has impressed him of their heroism; as they face Kree convicts on earth, the mysterious voice seemingly abandons him. It may have found a new sucker: perennial hanger-on and second banana Rick Jones, who is being offered the chance to become a hero.

The Kree convicts plan on blowing "nega-energy" all over earth, which their leader thinks will get them both revenge on the Avengers and domain over what's left of the Kree. Rick is given power, which he is able to use to help, but then weakens after taking too much radiation. Gladiator braves it to throw the sabotaged reactor into space, but is then so weakened he will fall into earth's atmosphere and die. Commando saves him, and they return in time for the power to be sucked out of Rick--into the returned Supreme Intelligence! Which isn't a surprise, it's on the cover.

S-I offers Commando a spot at his right hand, but Commando can't get past how it sacrificed 90 percent of the Kree in the hopes of restarting their evolution. The Intelligence leaves, but Commando has earned his place on the Imperial Guard, even if I don't think he would be seen again. And Rick Jones, powerless again, has to comfort himself with the thought that he helped save the world here, as he slinks back to his wife. I'm not sure the Guard would be seen again until maybe Grant Morrison's run, with Smasher?

I picked up the Captain Marvel movie Yon-Rogg a week or so ago; and he has some of the Kree design elements that Commando does: the blaster-gauntlets, the fin helmet, the green. The starburst logo on the figure is stronger, though. Can't wait to see that movie...
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Wednesday, January 16, 2019


Although I got a bunch done this weekend, the Black Cat/Satana strip needed paint, and I somehow managed to avoid going anywhere this weekend. Soon...

So "Nova" here was Mephisto the whole time, a callback to Nova's alleged return from the dead in Silver Surfer #97 or so, she would be revealed as Mephisto in #99. It's a toss-up which figure, the old Toy Biz Nova or the Marvel Select Mephisto, was a less expressive 'actor' for me. Mephisto's joints were stiff in the shoulders and loose in the hips; and I know he would be a bother to replace if anything gave out on him. (Over $200 in package on eBay right this second; he was $13 when I got him!)

Oh, and the flame effects here and last week's strip; they're from Ghost Rider's motorcycle!
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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

I was going to swear this happens more often in DC comics: where the exact same accident happens to give someone else the exact same powers. Oh, like there haven't been forty people bitten by radioactive spiders at Marvel. Anyway, today we've got Killer Frost's first appearance, from 1978, Firestorm #3, "Kiss Not the Lips of Killer Frost!" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by Al Milgrom, inks by Bob Mcleod.

This was Firestorm's first series, which was cut short by the DC Implosion at Firestorm #5, although he would go on as a back-up feature in Flash before eventually getting another shot in 1982 with Fury of Firestorm. Despite the shortness of this run, along with an origin issue and a terrible (and very Spider-Man influenced) supporting cast, three of his main villains were introduced before the end: Multiplex, Hyena, and probably the best known, Killer Frost. Here, Dr. Crystal Frost was a nuclear engineer, but also a woman in a very male-dominated field. Finding other men "boring, patronizing, and aggressive," she had developed a crush on Dr. Stein when she was his student. Stein didn't reciprocate, though: he had thought Frost had been almost psychotically withdrawn, and had tried to draw her out, but she may have taken it the wrong way. So that's where her head's at when a freak refrigeration accident freezes every molecule in her body! That may be a bit of poetic license there, but okay.

Since this was their third issue, we're still getting to know Professor Stein and Ronnie Raymond: since Stein had been unconscious during the accident that created Firestorm, he would only remember being Firestorm when he was. Every time he and Ronnie separated, Stein thought he had just had a blackout, and after like the fourth one he was starting to worry. Ronnie seems to feel a little bad about that, but not so bad that he won't dump Stein on the wrong end of town, just so Firestorm can hassle Ronnie's bully Cliff Carmichael. (It was supposed to be a reversal of traditional roles: Ronnie was a jock, getting put down by the brainier Carmichael. I was pretty sure he became a super-villain, and sure enough. He was even killed in Suicide Squad, like 93% of Firestorm's villains!)

With two characters making up Firestorm, that freed up the writer to put either one in danger, then they had to pull the other one out of whatever they were doing to help. Yay, drama! They usually weren't sitting around reading or in the bathroom or something. Freezing under Killer Frost's kiss, Stein initiates the change, causing Ronnie to have to ditch in the middle of a basketball game. Since Ronnie was in the driver's seat with Firestorm, he didn't initially struggle, until he realized Frost was freezing him! (His flaming hair appears to go flat when he's an ice cube!) It's a five-page fight, which, like a lot of Firestorm's fights, is probably five pages longer than it should've gone, but he was still figuring out his powers and what worked and what didn't. They also work out Frost's powers are slightly different than the usual ice-powered characters: she didn't make things cold directly, she sucked heat out of things. Putting her in a freezer leaves her powerless, which is sad, except she did kill like half a dozen people already.

Looking it up: it was the second Killer Frost in Crisis on Infinite Earths; I remember her having a scene or two in there.
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Monday, January 14, 2019

Say what you will about Batroc, he is inclusive...

The last Spider-Man/Captain America team-up we checked out tied into Spidey's current continuity quite a bit; this time was more on Cap's side: from 1976, Marvel Team-Up #52, "Danger: Demon on a Rampage!" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Mike Esposito.

A demon appears through a strange portal, arriving in the middle of a New York City street; it's shortly followed by the Falcon, his girlfriend Leila, Texas Jack, then a bunch of mentally ill extradimensional refugees, then finally Captain America! Where did they come from? The end of Captain America #203, a Jack Kirby issue involving the Night People and a standoff against demons. Cap doesn't really have time to recap anything, since Falcon was still brainwashed and crazy; the cops were rounding up the "madmen," and one patrolman is already blaming Spider-Man for this mess. The demon is seemingly forgotten, and wanders down an alley near the penthouse hideout of none other than Batroc the Leaper! Calling it "le diable," Batroc befriends it quickly. Enh, it could do worse.

Almost immediately thereafter, Batroc and Diable hit a S.H.I.E.L.D. transport, hoping to make off with some "trans-uranium." Cap was already in the area, and Spidey shows up shortly, cue four page fight. Le Diable begins glowing at the end of it, though; which Cap finds troubling even if Batroc thinks he's just trying to scare him. The poor monster fights his way onto a ferry, struggling to find a way a dimension Cap may have already blown up. Together Cap and Spidey blow up Diable as well, with Spidey having at least the decency to feel kind of bad about it.

Later, as Peter Parker gets his aunt from the hospital (and Mary Jane needles him) he sees a moping Cap, and wonders what it would be like to be an adored hero like him, with no his internal monologue goes on and on about his problems. Cap is seemingly still worried about the Falcon, who might've been okay by their next issue, so maybe Peter has a point.
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Friday, January 11, 2019

Oh, yeah: Coulson got wild. No doubt.

Eleven days into the new year, and action figure wise, we've got three guys in suits. I have to admit, I didn't see that coming. But, here's the young Nick Fury from the Captain Marvel wave; Everett Ross from the two-pack with unmasked Killmonger; and the Riddler from the lower-range Batman: Missions line. The Riddler came with a hat and cane; the cane's not bad, and probably goes the furthest towards making him look like the Riddler. Still, he was a mere $6.50 from Fred Meyer; Ross and Killmonger were $20 from Target. I was curious if Killmonger's head would work on Fury's body; not especially well?

From certain angles, maybe.
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Thursday, January 10, 2019

I was certain I had read this before, but picked up another copy since I thought it was the last issue; I may have been wrong on both counts. From 2004, Iron Man #87/432, "The Singularity, part 2" Written by Mark Ricketts, pencils by Tony Harris, inks by Tom Feister and Charles Wallace.

The cover has a big banner for "Disassembled," even if it's blocked by Iron Man's head; and while that isn't as big a warning sign as say, Infinite Crisis or Mr. Yuk, it's gotta be up there. Tony had recently become Secretary of Defense, but the new direction Bendis was taking the Avengers would crap all over that; in fact, it would be a new writer for the last four issues of the series. (Moreover, that stretch of issues is probably only remembered for the ones with covers by Adi Granov, which seemed very influential to the movie look.) Tony seemed to be going off the rails, verbally berating the Latverian ambassador; and Iron Man has just murdered the Stark Industries board of directors! Pepper Potts narrowly survives: she had been late due to a problem with the art department. And Tony's long-suffering girlfriend--from #4 of this series!--had realized Tony had meant to propose to her, and was going to his house to say yes.

There's a flashback and some congressional testimony next, but Tony is oblivious to the current situation since he's in an isolation chamber. This was perhaps post-Disassembled, since he mentions Scott Lang's death; but Tony seems more concerned about either a possible health problem, or nanotechnology. Still, he's willing to come out of isolation for Rumiko--just in time to see her murdered by Iron Man! Tony doesn't get long to mourn, since "Iron Man" has him by the head--to be continued! Two more issue of this storyline, and I have no idea (or no recollection) who the bad guy was, or if I read them: it's entirely possible I had stopped reading the book when the Secretary of Defense plot was dropped. I also think that was the last time I read Iron Man regularly. And poor Rumiko's death feels less like a "fridging" than an editorial mandate to clean house. Like that makes it better.
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