Friday, April 09, 2021

Eee, that got dark in a hurry.

I wish these tribute issues had included not just the cover of the original issue, but the story as well; since I sincerely doubt Green Lantern #31 was this much of a downer. From 2004, DC Comics Presents: Green Lantern #1, featuring "Penny for Your Thoughts, Dollar for Your Destiny!" Written by Brian Azzarello, pencils by Norm Breyfogle, inks by Sal Buscema; and "Feel Something" Written by Martin Pasko, pencils by Scott McDaniel, inks by Andy Owens. Cover by Brian Bolland, in tribute to Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson. 

"Penny for Your Thoughts, Dollar for Your Destiny" starts as a lark, with GL (Hal) in Coast City, selling power rings for a dollar! The JLA arrives in short order, to see what's up--actually, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman arrive, followed in short order by the Flash, who later points out they forgot to pick up Aquaman again. While confused at what Hal's up to, Flash is up for buying a ring, but didn't have a buck on him; so he's shoved out of line by a rather large--and hirsute--'woman.' Although the heroes don't seem to pay a lot of attention to 'her,' that was obviously Gorilla Grodd in drag: Hal captures him, apologizing that "power rings only fit on fingers, not #@%!! dirty paws like yours..." The ring sale was a trick to lure Grodd out, and Hal says he'll buy back the rings he sold next. (Wouldn't all those people have flown off, in different directions? Hal's whole morning is going to be shot.) 

The denouement is a bit off, though: the JLA'ers leave together in the invisible jet, and Superman muses that Hal's power is only limited by his imagination, and he may be the most powerful of them all. Flash counters, we're talking about Hal here; and they all have a hearty laugh, because god Hal's dumb. Batman over-explains the joke, though; leaving them all wondering, what if they had the ring...or if one of them did? It feels a little mean, and not quite right; but Breyfogle's art is great. 

In "Feel Something," Hal isn't selling the rings: Ollie comes to him because a grifter pirates a TV transmission for an ad selling power rings, only $89.99! For, as Ollie puts it, "some hunks of plastic you should only find in a gumball machine." Ollie can't figure out why Hal isn't more pissed off about this, either: he had put the grifter away before, "the sweat shop king of Star City," who probably used slave child labor to make his fake rings. GA and GL catch him at another of his tapings, and Hal has to stop Ollie from beating the grifter to death, although Hal later admits he only stopped him because he might've killed him himself. The grifter reminded Hal too much of his father's abuse; worse, Hal had to use a lot of will to keep his thoughts away from the rage his father taught him. This was a Hal with grey on his temples, which would've been relatively shortly before his heel-turn as Parllax. Also, this particular issue would have been published just two months prior to the last issue of Kyle Rayner's Green Lantern run, and almost feels like the last time DC would be down on Hal Jordan. (Actually, thinking about it; I don't think these were "in-continuity," and that Hal's dad has since been portrayed as the bestest, since Hal is the bestest...)  

The only Julius Schwartz tribute issue left to cover here is the Hawkman issue, which I might have around here somewhere? Someday.
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Thursday, April 08, 2021

"One Thursday in the Baxter Building."

Yet another entry in our "action figures from video games I don't play," we have Pathfinder from Apex Legends! Perhaps because these are a ton of tooling, he's gotten two figures; but the second is a distinct improvement, with the addition of wearable boxing gloves, and a little base to help keep him standing. (That's the white one, the blue was the first one and does not have either.)

For a lotta issues of Fantastic Four and Marvel Two-in-One, the story would start with Ben holding up some cockamamie hunk of machinery, or lifting colossal weights. I don't think you saw it as often in Ben's solo books, or much at all anymore. Feel like Ben still puts away the sandwiches, though.
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Wednesday, April 07, 2021

"Somewhere."

One thing you can always count on with Marvel, is them overextending the hell out of any character that achieves a smidgen of hotness. And Ghost Rider didn't just get secondary titles, he got that whole Midnight Sons line. Darkhold was not a breakout book there, nor was Nightstalkers, and Morbius lasted almost three years. So Morbius had seen the Darkhold pages deal before, but so had Kurt, in X-Men Annual #6

I honestly couldn't recall if I'd ever seen Doctor Doom go for the Darkhold: seems like it would be up his alley, except Doom doesn't have any interest in losing his soul or being bound to Chthon. Although, I did see a recent issue where Doom saw several of the big Marvel universe power objects all gathered up, like the Darkhold, the Infinity Gems, and the Ultimate Nullifer, among others. Doom grabs one, but maybe not the one you'd think! Also, next week, another guest-star, another recent Marvel Legend, but not that character's first, either. 

 I probably miss Jolt Cola more than hypercolor shirts...
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Tuesday, April 06, 2021

Buy this comic or we'll shoot this frog!

This scene doesn't happen in this comic, because even Captain Marvel doesn't speak frog! Literal frog. That wasn't a jab at the French or anything. From 1975, Shazam! #18, "The Celebrated Talking Frog of Blackstone Forest!" Written by Elliot S! Maggin, art by Bob Oksner.
On a camping trip with Billy Batson and some friends, Mr. Tawny is excited to find a talking frog!...that won't talk in front of anyone else. I feel like I've heard this one before... OK, so the frog is a prince that was cursed by a witch--first with immortality, then turned into a frog for spurning her--and only animals can understand him. Luckily for Tawny, he knows about 300 wacky inventors in the Fawcett City area, and he and Billy visit Dr. Kilowatt to measure the frog's intelligence, which is enough to blow up the machine! (Apparently 'chimpanzee' was the highest setting.) The frog is then frog-napped by "Raskolnikov, the foreign agent!" Billy announces his name like he's shown up before, but I couldn't confirm that. Tawny hangs onto a helicopter to save the frog, which, as Captain Marvel explains after saving them, should be a selfless deed to release the prince from the curse. It takes a minute, but it works! He might not be the prettiest prince out there, but hey, it beats eating flies. Maybe.
Somehow Raskolnikov is merely deported, instead of a trip to Gitmo or something. In the next story, "The Coin-Operated Caper!" it's Captain Marvel Jr. vs. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana Jr. (Written by E.Nelson Bridwell, art by Kurt Schaffenberger.) Testing a mind-control device on a banker, Thaddeus then uses it on Freddie Freeman, compelling him to never say his magic words, "Captain Marvel" again! How will he get out of that one...really, really simply.



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Monday, April 05, 2021

Put this issue on your fridge, to remind you not to snack...or use gamma rays.

I thought this was kind of a mean-spirited issue, and the continuity may be a bit iffy, but let's take a gander: from 1985, Incredible Hulk Annual #14, "The Weakness of the Flesh!" Written by John Byrne, art by Sal Buscema.
The Hulk is on his way home--wherever that may be? It's the purple-trunked version, but could still talk in the traditional "Hulk not understand" manner, so he wasn't mindless rage yet? And as he is accosted on the next page, one of his attackers notes it's been months since he was even seen on earth. A very large flying vehicle (bigger than a 747, smaller than the helicarrier?) grabs the Hulk, brings him aboard, and tries to gas him. Here Hulk "knows how (gas) works," having been gassed about 400 times; so he hops above it and tries to punch his way through the roof. He is observed by a woman, and two men; wearing not-S.H.I.E.L.D. jumpsuits; and one of the men is massively obese. Blob level. Grabbing a jetpack, the other man, Professor Kortz, goes in with the Hulk, figuring correctly Hulk would take a swipe at him then fall in the gas.
While the woman, Dr. Kelloway, wants more tests, Kortz thinks they are ready to proceed; and the obese St. Johns wants the procedure. He tells the gassed Hulk that "your prison may be the key to mine!" Kortz takes a sample from the Hulk with a specially-made device, causing the unconscious Hulk to yelp in pain or surprise; which Kelloway feels bad about. She still thinks the risk factor is too high; but St. Johns berates her as a coward, afraid "to seize the unknown by the throat." Kelloway later visits the Hulk, who is awake enough to be alone and afraid. Kortz notices her leaving, and also comes down on her: they apparently had a history, the promising young student, and the older academic who fell for him. The power dynamic has changed, though; and later Kelloway mentions taking the fall for Kortz's mistakes, trying to protect him. Both St. Johns and Kortz sneeringly point out her failings, and that she had lost perhaps several patients, in back-alley abortions! That feels out of nowhere, and out of place.
Meanwhile, Hulk frees himself, and wandering the aircraft finds their earlier experiments, a plethora of mindless gamma monsters. One, with a massive upper body and barely stubs for legs, manages to give Hulk a moment's trouble, nearly choking him out. The monsters are nowhere near as durable as Hulk, though; and dissolve fairly quickly. St. Johns slaps down Kelloway, promising to kill her after his procedure, and gets his gamma treatment. As the Hulk and Kelloway arrive, St. Johns has gone from being massively obese to being massively obese and green, and he kills Kortz. Furious, Kelloway screams that Kortz didn't fail:
Internally hemorrhaging, St. Johns does manage to keep a promise, by falling on Kelloway. As the gamma fat starts to dissolve, the Hulk realizes he's alone again, but is maybe okay with it right now. 

St. Johns mentions this project having cost "billions of dollars and hundreds of lives," and I feel like there had to be cheaper ways to slim down? Even if his problem was glandular or whatever and Nutrisystem wasn't cutting it. But I can absolutely see some rich asshole getting it into their head that gamma was the way to go, and not letting up on that easily. Or accepting that he, the guy with the money, could be wrong...
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Friday, April 02, 2021

In which I try to justify this purchase.

Shoot, I may have to do that several times: I made a hefty, for me, purchase the other day; which started with a ten-dollar figure that hasn't turned up yet, then snowballed into pre-ordering a bunch of stuff I was probably going to get anyway, right? Like the new M.O.D.O.K. and Xenmu/villain Marvel Legends wave. 

And Jar Jar...I don't know. I think I thought he would be fun, or funny, or I would be sorry if I missed getting him. But he wasn't as wacky or happy-go-lucky seeming as I expected. Even the back of the package seems like a dark and foreboding reading before Biography goes to commercial: "A clumsy, well-meaning Gungan outcast on Naboo, Jar-Jar Binks struggled to prove his worth throughout his life." That sounds like he got into drugs, didn't he? 

Be that as it may, while we're here, we may as well justify another purchase: a quick bit with the new Marvel Legends Firestar!
Spidey's right, she doesn't really have fire powers, you know. Just don't mention it to her, or question her on it, or anything.
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Thursday, April 01, 2021

Just under four years to find the conclusion of this one! That's a speedy turnaround for around here! From 1998, Legends of the DC Universe #11, "Folie a Deux, part two" Written by Kelley Puckett, layouts by Terry Dodson, finishes (and cover) by Kevin Nowlan.
This opens with Batgirl getting shot, a few years ahead of schedule, but it's Jim Gordon's nightmare. He resolves to confront Barbara about her secret identity, but instead walks into a bank robbery: thinking she might be in danger, he uncharacteristically goes in guns blazing, but catches a bullet when he's distracted by seemingly seeing Barbara in the hostages. His distraction gives Batgirl the chance, to also uncharacteristically charge in headlong, and she gets knocked out by a desk lamp to the back of the head.
Tied up together, Batgirl tells Gordon she was glad to meet him, and that she would get them out of there. Considering it, Jim decides she could do it, and helps her get free. Using her training from Batman, she is able to defeat the last of the bank robbers, and get Jim to the hospital. But, in having gone into action before he deemed her ready, this meant the end of her training with Batman. Which once again is bullcrap, as we say from Batman's abortive training of Spoiler: girl disobeys once and she's done, while every guy Robin inevitably breaks the rules and gets rewarded for it. Still, when Batman points out if she had been ready, she wouldn't have been distracted by Gordon getting shot, Barbara realizes she wouldn't want to be that 'ready.' She visits her dad in the hospital, with both of them acting completely normal and not bringing up Batgirl at all. 

God, Batman's in this for like a page, and I'm sick of his dickery. The new Batgirl in "No Man's Land" was still a year away, and about 14 years until Barbara was Batgirl again with the New 52. Whether or not Jim knew her secret, well, that one seems to go back and forth.
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