Thursday, August 31, 2006

Could Ben Grimm outfly Hal Jordan? Does 'Hell' go with 'Yeah'?

And that's why Ben is a better pilot than that prettyboy Jordan at DC: he doesn't need a fancy-nancy ring to do his flying. From Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #4, "His Latest Flame", written by Jeff Parker, pencilled by Juan Santacruz, inked by Raul Fernandez. I got this as part of a collection at Target, clearanced to $1.49; and absolutely worth it, especially as an intro to Jeff Parker, who is currently writing Agents of Atlas.

Here's a thought, that I may have had before, but DC's the New Frontier had a good example of it: the last issue has most of the silver age DC characters that were pilots, together in battle: the Blackhawks, Ace Morgan of the Challengers of the Unknown, Larry "Negative Man" Trainor of the Doom Patrol, Captain Nathaniel "Atom" Adam, and Hal "Headwound" Jordan. Oh, all right, he's Green Lantern and you know it. Lots of pilots, but at the start of the 60's, that was a pimp job.

Over at Marvel, there's fewer pilots, but still Ben Grimm, Carol "Warbird/Binary/Ms. Marvel" Danvers, Jim "War Machine" Rhodes...John "Man-Wolf" Jameson was an astronaut, but he was Captain America's pilot for a stretch of issues, so we'll count him. Not as many, but a good batch.

There's a few careers with a lot of overlap for superheroes, like reporters, or circus performers. Seriously, lots of circus folk: acrobats like Nightwing, Nightcrawler, and Deadman; strongmen like the Blob or the Hulk (from Avengers #1!), performers like Hawkeye and Mr. Miracle and Ghost Rider. Then you've got your general evil circus, whether name brand like the Ringmaster's Circus of Crime; or just cranked out for a story, like Mesmero's circus in X-Men, or the freakshow in Starman. (If you see a freakshow in comics, there will be evil either there or around. Guar-an-teed.)

I swear, I saw R'as Al Ghul with an evil circus once. Maybe that's why the circus is in decline in America: too many evil ones. If I go to the circus, I'd be expecting to see at least a couple super-heroes, an evil/possessed/extorted ringmaster, and/or hypnosis.

And, as expected for me and this site, I can just see the point of all this fading off into the distance back there. What jobs can you think of that have been held by several super-heroes? Doctor? Lawyer? Indian Chief? Hell, there probably have been more than a few of all of those. Try "millionaire playboy" and I bet you could almost run out of fingers.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Reed, you tool.

And I always thought all those times Reed made Ben lug around several tons of Kirbytech machines all day were bad...

From Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #5, "Shortcut", written by Jeff Parker, pencils by Manuel Garcia, inks by Scott Koblish. Just one more, to make up for the, um, 6-post disaster of earlier. Quantity is job #1!

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I'm not advocating this sort of thing, but Kitty totally had that coming.

Besides, Kitty's got like, um, ninja training. Probably walked it right off. Ahem. Hey, I think this is Wolverine's first appearance in this blog! (No, it's not.) Ok, I was probably more excited by the Dr. Bong appearance in this issue, but even so. And I don't know if anyone's ever explained any reason, at all, metatext or otherwise, for Deadpool's yellow word balloons; but I would love to talk with those.

From Deadpool #27, "It's a Barbarian Bunny--Busty Broad Bonanza in my Brainpan--and I'm the only one Invited!" 'Dr. (Joe) Kelly' writing, 'Dr. (Walter) McDaniel' and 'Dr. McFarland' on art. As part of the therapy for his hallucinations, Deadpool needs to talk, and fight, it out. But he needs someone who'll give him a good fight, someone who can take it, possibly someone not completely sane himself: Wolverine. As you can see above, Logan wasn't in a fighty mood when 'Pool catches up with him, so he uses Kitty as a little incentive. Mayhem, comedy, therapy, and stabbing insues.

Dear Marvel,
Despite all my harshing, bitching, and pointing of fingers at Civil War, I've still been very good this year; and I would like Essential Deadpool. All of Joe Kelly's run on the book, plus Baby's First Deadpool Book, Daredevil/Deadpool, Deadpool/Death, and the Deadpool/Widdle Wade special. (The titles may be a little off on those, so look up Deadpool yourself!) Sure, the last issue of his run kind of tanks, but you told Kelly the book was being cancelled, then told him it wasn't after he wrote it and got another job, so I blame you. Oops. Anyway, Essential Deadpool by Christmas, please.
P.S. And Deadpool #0, possibly the best promo comic ever. Cut the issue with Deathtrap if you have to.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

And to think, Diana used to be the secretary...

In the course of this issue, Superman gets asskicked and dumped in the ocean, Flash gets taken out, Green Lantern tags out to stay with his buddy Flash in case this is "the end," Batman seriously doubts in his own abilities; and while I don't have the issue in front of me, I would bet a quarter that Red Tornado gets smacked around a little. It's his job.

Wonder Woman is the only Justice Leaguer in this issue to be consistently competent, heroic, and clear-headed. She shows concern without completely wigging out, and saves Superman here...actually, now that I think about it, it's not like he'd drown, is it? At this point, Supes is either dead or he's not, right? Well, this is probably why I'm not an EMT or anything.

Also, the invisible jet just seems...right, in this panel. Like Diana shouldn't have to fly around under her own power, like that would be beneath her. Maybe. Maybe not, though.

(Having serious photo-posting issues the last day or so. And now that I look at the panel today, it's a bit low-res, but I need to see if anything it'll probably post six times.)

(Edit: The issue was Justice League of America #170, "While a World Lies Burning!" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Frank McLaughlin. And I did manage to get this posted six times this afternoon...suck. More nonsense shortly!)

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Because even a B-list creation of Jack Kirby beats a lot of people's A-game. 'Nuff said.

From the Demon #13, "The Night of the Demon!" Written, drawn, edited by Jack Kirby, lettered and inked by Mike Royer. My copy's coverless and looks like the Demon himself read it, but I'm glad to have it.

In other news, a tag from Dr. Sordid of the Word on the Street! His site is pretty much the only calendar you'll ever need. Go now! I don't know who started this one, but here goes:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your LJ along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
6. Tag five people.

"What's more, it didn't even look scratched. A.I.M. deserved its reputation for excellence, he conceded reluctantly. What was the stupid thing made out of anyway?

"He floated several yards away from the inert torpedo, facing it."

Yeah, I took rule#5 to heart there...I was going to reread Iron Man: the Armor Trap, by Greg Cox, on the beach; but I consider my kids as drowning hazards until they're 28, so probably no beach reading, airport reading, reading reading until then. Still, I quite enjoyed the Marvel novels, and it's a good little Iron Man tale guest-starring War Machine and thankfully without legislation of any kind.

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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Waverider? More like Cockblocker.

Comics have no shortage of alternate reality, possible future, or 'imaginary' stories. Sometimes, they're just a fun look at what could happen; sometimes they're an excuse to messily kill your lead character/golden goose and get away with it. And sometimes they're like watching preseason football: the A-list players sit this one out, and even though a whole lot can happen, it doesn't mean anything in the end. Case in point: Flash Annual #4, "Family Business" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Craig Brasfield, inks by Andrew Pepoy, with a cover by the great Mike Parobeck--with Burchett! I believe this was before Waid's run on the regular Flash book, in fact, before Kingdom Come and every other big thing he's done. This was part of Armageddon 2001, DC's Annual event for 1991. The overlying plot was, in the year 2030, the future was ruled by fallen hero Monarch. A scientist gains time-travel powers, takes the name Waverider, and travels back to 1991 to try to find the hero who would go evil...long story short, it was supposed to be Captain Atom, and ended up being Hawk, of Hawk and Dove. (Yeah, I know. Try not to think about it.) The point is, Waverider would touch a hero, and get a look at their future. And this being the Flash's annual, it was his turn, and Waverider catches up to Wally at Keystone City's Flash Day. Flash is signing autographs, when he is approached by a young woman who introduces herself as Bonnie Blackmon. Since Wally was portrayed as a bit of a horndog back then, he's willing to hear her out, and Waverider touches Flash at that moment. Jump forward to the far-flung future of August 31, 2001: Wally's life has completely changed. He's married to Bonnie, and they have a son David. They live in Flagstaff, Arizona, under the name Edwards, and he hasn't been the Flash for nine years. In short order, David uses his superspeed to save a young girl from being hit by a bus. However, David has inherited Wally's speed but not the aura that protects him from friction and other effects, and is badly hurt. Wally races him to the hospital, but a scar-faced man has seen all of this. Bonnie takes a moment to fill the reader in on the last ten years: While working for Diogenes Industries, she discovered papers proving that she was working for "the biggest syndicate boss in the midwest." With a filing system that couldn't be beat, since she found it in a filing cabinet, in the main office, with a coffee pot on top of it. Diogenes (and I'm not sure why the name, since Diogenes was a philosopher--consult your local library or something!) had the ability to see a person's inner thoughts and secrets at a touch, and with his son was able to build a crime empire. He puts together an army of Flash's enemies (but who doesn't?) but Bonnie and Wally still manage to have him put away. Unfortunately, Diogenes touches them both at the trial, and is able to keep coming after them. On their wedding day, Wally's mother is killed, but no one liked her anyway. Forced into witness protection, Wally retires as the Flash, planning to return, but after the birth of their son, he stays retired. Diogenes still seeks revenge on the Flash, and power for his son. The scar-faced man was Leonard Snart, better known as Captain Cold. With his information, the usual evil plan is put into motion: David kidnapped, old villains set up like bosses in Final Fight, Flash called out of retirement. The villains are each given a secret weapon to steal Flash's speed, and a posthypnotic suggestion to send Flash to the next boss: Weather Wizard, Sloe, Steddy, and Mr. Sprynt, Rainbow Raider, Golden Glider and Chillblaine, and Paradox. Kind of like Spider-Man, it's getting to the point where one villain can't just attack Flash, it has to be like forty. Man, when Weather Wizard is the best villain you can call in, I can see why you call in more guys. I think Waid introduced Sloe, Steddy, Sprynt, Chillblaine, and Paradox here; and Chillblaine's the only one I recall as ever returning, since it's not a bad idea: Glider gives her boytoys her brother's cold gun tech. "This one's number six." By the end of the gauntlet, Wally's speed is drained, and he arrives at Diogene's in plainclothes. Diogenes plans to give his son superspeed, but since he lacks the "right genetic makeup" his son is turned into an ancient corpse, then Diogenes dies himself. Wally's then able to have his speed--and his aura--given to his son. Or, that's how the future could've gone down, if Waverider's touch hadn't distracted Wally. Diogenes' son is able to sweep Bonnie away, either back to work for him or to a shallow grave in the Meadowlands. In the regular continuity, Wally and Bonnie never meet, David is never born, Diogenes is never heard from again, and Waverider's a total blocker.

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08-27-2006 08;54;01PM

Waverider, like the Watchers over at Marvel, apparently never heard of the theory that observing an event can affect that event. After all, he would touch Superman and Batman--who had more than one annual--more than once and get different answers. Also, I'm not sure if there was any coordination, at all, among the creative teams for these annuals. So, you had different futures for different characters in each one, but also the technology of 2001 looks different each annual as well. I don't think any had flying cars, but I didn't read every one.

Overall, Armageddon: 2001 was an interesting idea, with spotty execution. Just like the real future.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Sure, Kyle replaces the whole stupid planet, and you anti-Pluto ingrates don't appreciate it.

From Green Lantern: Our Worlds at War #1, "The Past's Face-Power's Future" Written by Judd Winick, pencils by Dale Eaglesham, inks by Rodney Ramos and Rob Leigh. This wasn't quite the comic I was thinking of: I was pretty sure there was a Superman issue, setting up the Our Worlds at War crossover, where the heroes realize Pluto is missing; and the general reaction is, meh. Just like to the rest of this crossover! This was from August 2001, and I'm not sure how, but I pretty much dodged the OWaW draft from DC Comics. I fished this issue out of a quarter box some time back.

Kyle is musing recent odd events in his superhero career, like the fairy tale queen in JLA and Effigy in his own book; when he gets a call from Superman. So, instead of spending the afternoon with girlfriend/new GL Jade, Kyle has to go replace the missing Pluto. This is one of those science things that seems reasonable enough in comics, but would you really have to replace Pluto if some aliens stole it? Would it mess up gravity and the orbits of the planets if it was gone? I don't really think so, but I admit that's a guess. I'm curious, but I don't want to do the math. Like Captain Kirk: I don't want or need a degree in astrophysics, I just want Spock to tell me, hit the high notes.

(Sidebar: I'm sure someone's pointed this out before, but it just struck me how immature Captain Kirk is, yet we all really want to be him. We all want Spock to take care of our science and math. Taking care of the ship, Scotty. Driving, Sulu. Medical, McCoy. Hell, Kirk doesn't even have to answer the phone or make his own calls, he's got Uhura all over that. All Kirk has to do is give orders, watch the big screen, and bag green women. That's oversimplifying to make a point, and I love Star Trek like kids love Christmas, so just a thought.)

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Thursday, August 24, 2006

See, this is why Batman puts you at the kids' table, Kyle.

To be honest, Kyle looks like he's having a ton of fun: he makes a batch of ring-generated space cowboys to herd "a quarter of an asteroid belt" into a placeholder for Pluto. Wait, I'm not sure where he found the asteroids, but wouldn't moving them from the belt between Mars and Jupiter affect gravity more than the loss of Pluto?

Also, I don't know what those asteroids are made out of, but suppose they were iron ore, or something else that future man might conceivably need? I can picture that exhibit at the Space Museum: "...and, with the loss of a small planet's worth of iron ore, Earth was several space cruisers short, and Antares conquered and held the planet for 300 years. Even today, Green Lanterns are still outlawed on Earth, and the name 'Kyle' is still one of the worst of schoolyard insults."

Anyway, GL also doesn't seem to be working especially hard to move all that rock. But, once done, he doesn't get a lot of time to enjoy his handiwork. The long dead Sinestro calls Kyle out, "Leave before I am forced to remove you." Kyle is suprised: "Surprised at how much you remind me of Mr. Spock. But with a real severe tan."

Of course, the two start in on each other with their rings, and you would think Sinestro would have the handicap: Kyle's ring works on yellow, Hal's didn't. Kyle knows Sinestro's A-list, and wants to show he can beat him, then worry about what he's doing there later. Sinestro thinks Kyle is a poser: "Jordan was a selected member of the Corps! What are you?"

The fight starts to go badly for Kyle, when he realizes Sinestro's energy doesn't feel like ring created constructs. Then Kyle starts to ramp up his power--the start of his initial transformation to Ion--and rallies over Sinestro. Just in time for Superman to tell him to stop. Kyle doesn't buy it, probably because he shouldn't be able to hear Superman talk in space, eh? Or maybe he's just too mad to quit.

Then Ganthet, then-last of the Guardians, shows up to tell Kyle to stop. The fake Superman and presumably fake Sinestro have disappeared, and Ganthet tells Kyle answers will be revealed later, and to go home. With everyone gone, Kyle leaves; unaware that Pluto is still there, tricked out into the new Warworld or something. I don't know who the 'big bad' for this one was, he looks like Brainiac 13. Robot in biker shorts, ooh, scary.

Jade comes home to find Kyle waiting for her, and they talk about what happened out in space. Kyle also shows her that his powers are growing or changing: he reads a closed book on his bookshelf via ring, then creates several Kyle-constructs. He's starting to worry that his power is getting too much, but Jade knows Kyle's just too good to go bad. I never had a problem with Jade: like all-too-many characters, she could be written really well, or completely wrong. But, luckily I was able to find this issue, for a little memorial to Pluto, which will always be a planet, in my heart. Sniff!

Again, I didn't read a lot of Our Worlds at War. I know a lot of characters like Guy Gardner and Aquaman were supposedly killed in it, but got better pretty easily; while others like Hippolyta (Wonder Woman's mom) was killed and stayed dead. (And maybe just her, in this crossover.) DC does that sometimes: killing off characters, figuring no one wants them anymore, then having to backtrack to fix it. Or just ignoring the death entirely. For example, the Mark Shaw Manhunter and the Creeper were both 'killed' in Eclipso: the Manhunter was a sub, and Creeper got better. If you can think of any others, let me know!

(Also, I'm splitting this post between today and the first part 'tomorrow', partly because of the pictures, but also because I may be busy tomorrow. Have a good weekend!)

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Well, Germany's most hated after Hitler, Mengele, the Red Skull, Baron Strucker, the Iron Major...

Thanks again to Jeff for the link to the old record for this issue, an audio adaptation of Captain America and the Falcon #168, "...And a Phoenix Shall Arise!" Written by Roy Thomas and Tony Isabella, art by Sal Buscema, inks by Tartag and Roussos. Oddly, and I could very well be wrong about this but don't have the time to look it up right now, but I'm not sure this has ever been reprinted.

The story opens with Cap and the Falcon on nighttime patrol, and even the narration has to admit, "No less than a baker's dozen of their most harrowing adventures must have begun in just this way..." Cap's on his man-out-of-time bit yet again, a plot point even Stan Lee got tired of. Luckily, our villain obligingly attacks before Cap can eat up more pages on that. The Phoenix (a few years before Jean Grey took up the name!) opens fire with his snazzy death-ray, and gives a standard villain rant about getting his vengeance. Only Cap and Falc have never seen this guy before.

Since Phoenix seems only concerned with killing Cap, Falcon's able to get a shot in, but Phoenix doesn't go down easy. He would've finished Falcon off, except his death-ray ran out of juice, so he escapes, promising a rematch "Perhaps tomorrow!" Now it's Falcon's turn for moping, that he's not pulling his weight as a sidekick. I dunno, Sam: attracting enemy gunfire, check. Getting beat up and endangered, check. Making the hero feel worthwhile by needing his help, double-check. Sounds like an A+ sidekick there.

Cap and Falc are convinced Phoenix is someone they've previously fought, or know somehow. Not Ditko fans, I guess. Cap muses that he had "more arch-enemies than most people have relatives!" then goes through three and stops: the Red Skull, the very dead Baron Zemo, and Solarr. I can see why they'd want to introduce a new villain, because Cap's rouge gallery is looking a little thin here. The next night, Cap meets up with Falcon, then gives him the brush-off, saying he hasn't been any help.

Cap searches the city for the Phoenix, and finally comes across a guy running like hell, after an attack from "some costumed nut." Cap has the victim point him to his attacker, the Phoenix. Cap smashes him, quite literally: sound effect, SMASH! And the Phoenix was a robot decoy. The 'victim' actually was the Phoenix--unmasked, Cap didn't recognize him--and the decoy was full of gas. Man, I totally want a decoy now.

Scene change to Phoenix and his evil warehouse hideout, where he has Cap chained to a table over a vat of boiling Adhesive X. Guh, what a crappy brand name. I mean, it's not like Xerox or Post-it, is it? Maybe something like Stuck-oh or Burnyglue or Thatsnotf***ingoinanywhere. Look, I'm not in advertising, but Adhesive X isn't great. Still, Cap recognizes it as Baron Zemo's invention, but Phoenix is too young to be him. He's his son, Helmut, although he doesn't get a first name this appearance.

Also, since on the sliding scale of Marvel Time, Cap wasn't revived in 1963 but probably more like ten years ago. Which then means Helmut's either pretty old--as in, born before WWII, if he remembers his dad Heinrich getting his mask glued to his head; or he could very well have some technological means of slowing his aging. I suppose Helmut could've been born later, but that would involve Heinrich fathering him with a bag glued to his face...

Phoenix tells Cap about how great his dad was, like the bestest Nazi scientist ever! The elder Baron Zemo had invented a hand-held laser weapon in the 40's, and the aforementioned Adhesive X, a glue that "once applied, nothing could remove it!" While that sounds silly, I suppose if you had a glue so strong you could build tanks using it, that would be something. Something hideously unsafe, yeah, but something.

Since American newspapers called the laser a 'death-ray,' Phoenix notes that 'propaganda' made his father "the most hated man in Germany!" (Yeah, ok, we know you're proud of your dad, but that's just not true.) Zemo had taken to wearing a mask, although I'm not exactly sure how that was going to help. Even in the Marvel U. during WWII, there weren't that many masked Nazis. Couple dozen, tops. The mask pretty much just singled him out for Cap's attention, who ends up smashing a tank of Adhesive X over Zemo, who ends up with his mask glued to his head forever. (From an old Marvel Handbook, I believe Zemo had to be fed intravenously for the rest of his life.) Lashing out at his family, the Baron soon disappeared, and his wife died shortly thereafter, leaving Helmut alone.

Now the continuity is a little dicey here: Phoenix makes a living on his scientific knowledge, until he sees the headlines of Cap's return. Returning to Castle Zemo, he recreates his father's death-ray and Adhesive X. But, the original Baron Zemo was killed shortly after Cap's return, and Phoenix had already been working on his revenge. Busiek would straighten this out a bit in Thunderbolts, as I would've thought they would try to get in touch to get revenge together. Cue "Cat's in the Cradle." Or don't.

Either way, Zemo is about to dump Cap into the Adhesive X, when Falcon and Redwing smash through the skylight that all warehouses have. Sam totally knew Cap was just trying to get him out of harm's way, but with his bird running interference, Falcon's beating Phoenix pretty handily. In fact, the beating is getting so bad, Cap feels bad for the "misguided fool still fighting World War II!" He manages to get loose, and stops the Falcon from further thrashing Zemo.

Phoenix takes this opportunity to try to kill them both with Cap's own shield. I applaud thinking big, but I have no idea how the hell he thought that was going to work. It would be like trying to stop two people by throwing a manhole cover at them: you might get lucky and get one, but even that's pushing it. And he manages to miss Cap and Falcon both, and boomerang it back into himself. Again, no idea: Cap's shield doesn't naturally return or rebound, Cap has to bounce it off things or put a helluva lot of spin on it. But, Zemo goes into the tank of Adhesive X.

Cap starts to try to save Phoenix, but Falcon, quite rightly, stops him. Not a lot of superheroes are going to be able to dive into a boiling vat of unbreakable glue to save a Nazi, but that may be just as well. Cap mopes that, "the big war just claimed another victim," and that his revival also brought back "a whole generation's hatreds--hatreds that should've been left frozen a quarter of a century ago!" Cheer up, Cap: we've got a whole ton of new hatreds now!

This is about as objective as I could be on this comic: thanks to listening to that record so many times, I love it to this day. Probably 15 years after last hearing it, I bought the comic at Red Iguana Comics in Missoula, MT, for a dollar. And today I was able to read it and listen to it at the same time, for the first time. A pretty good day.

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That's like the 27th Ultimate Frisbee fatality this year.

Phoenix tells Cap about how great his dad was, like the bestest Nazi scientist ever! The elder Baron Zemo had invented a hand-held laser weapon in the 40's, and the aforementioned Adhesive X, a glue that "once applied, nothing could remove it!" While that sounds silly, I suppose if you had a glue so strong you could build tanks using it, that would be something. Something hideously unsafe, yeah, but something.

Since American newspapers called the laser a 'death-ray,' Phoenix notes that 'propaganda' made his father "the most hated man in Germany!" (Yeah, ok, we know you're proud of your dad, but that's just not true.) Zemo had taken to wearing a mask, although I'm not exactly sure how that was going to help. Even in the Marvel U. during WWII, there weren't that many masked Nazis. Couple dozen, tops. The mask pretty much just singled him out for Cap's attention, who ends up smashing a tank of Adhesive X over Zemo, who ends up with his mask glued to his head forever. (From an old Marvel Handbook, I believe Zemo had to be fed intravenously for the rest of his life.) Lashing out at his family, the Baron soon disappeared, and his wife died shortly thereafter, leaving Helmut alone.

Now the continuity is a little dicey here: Phoenix makes a living on his scientific knowledge, until he sees the headlines of Cap's return. Returning to Castle Zemo, he recreates his father's death-ray and Adhesive X. But, the original Baron Zemo was killed shortly after Cap's return, and Phoenix had already been working on his revenge. Busiek would straighten this out a bit in Thunderbolts, as I would've thought they would try to get in touch to get revenge together. Cue "Cat's in the Cradle." Or don't.

Either way, Zemo is about to dump Cap into the Adhesive X, when Falcon and Redwing smash through the skylight that all warehouses have. Sam totally knew Cap was just trying to get him out of harm's way, but with his bird running interference, Falcon's beating Phoenix pretty handily. In fact, the beating is getting so bad, Cap feels bad for the "misguided fool still fighting World War II!" He manages to get loose, and stops the Falcon from further thrashing Zemo.

Phoenix takes this opportunity to try to kill them both with Cap's own shield. I applaud thinking big, but I have no idea how the hell he thought that was going to work. It would be like trying to stop two people by throwing a manhole cover at them: you might get lucky and get one, but even that's pushing it. And he manages to miss Cap and Falcon both, and boomerang it back into himself. Again, no idea: Cap's shield doesn't naturally return or rebound, Cap has to bounce it off things or put a helluva lot of spin on it. But, Zemo goes into the tank of Adhesive X.

Cap starts to try to save Phoenix, but Falcon, quite rightly, stops him. Not a lot of superheroes are going to be able to dive into a boiling vat of unbreakable glue to save a Nazi, but that may be just as well. Cap mopes that, "the big war just claimed another victim," and that his revival also brought back "a whole generation's hatreds--hatreds that should've been left frozen a quarter of a century ago!" Cheer up, Cap: we've got a whole ton of new hatreds now!

This is about as objective as I could be on this comic: thanks to listening to that record so many times, I love it to this day. Probably 15 years after last hearing it, I bought the comic at Red Iguana Comics in Missoula, MT, for a dollar. And today I was able to read it and listen to it at the same time, for the first time. A pretty good day.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

See, that's why you have to stick with gamma radiation for the quality mutations...

This scene from Timber Wolf #2 (written and inked by Al Gordon, pencils by Joe Phillips) takes place in a bar called the Gene Pool. Traditionally, there are relatively few mutants in the DC Universe; but there are those that carry the 'metagene,' and have at least the genetic potential to develop super-powers. Unfortunately, there's no telling what could be the catalyst, or 'origin,' for your powers: just because you have the metagene and want to be the Human Torch, doesn't mean you can set yourself on fire. (Mixed companies a bit there, but he's a good example!) I'm not 100% on this one, but I think all this metagene business was established in the Invasion! mini-series, from the Dominators' experiments.

I really liked this limited, a spin-off from Legion of Super-Heroes. If any Legion fans can tell me why it's traditional for the spin-offs to end up in the twentieth century instead of their normal thirtieth, let me know: Karate Kid, Cosmic Boy, Valor, and this one. Timber Wolf was the first Legionnaire whose origin I knew as a kid, and it's not too shabby--his dad really wanted him to have super-powers, so he sent androids to get a rare element. One android made it back, and the dad adopts the last android as a son, then gives his son Brin powers, then dies. The android uses this opportunity to switch, telling the newly-empowered and confused Brin that he was the android, Lone Wolf. Eventually, the Legion straightens the whole thing out, and years later he would join as Timber Wolf. If you ask me, it's a way better origin than 'zapped by lightning monsters' or 'from planet where everyone can eat anything.' Oddly, since this particular look for T-Wolf was about three reboots ago, it looks like the design used for the new cartoon takes a bit from it.

The blond kid with his back to us is Thrust, a superhero name that I can't decide if it's brilliant or horrible. An alien (hybrid?), mouthy, punk; he alludes in his first appearance that "You may have heard of my dad, but that's another story." That's great, but it was never revealed in the series, and I don't think he ever appeared again. Bugged me for years, but recently, someone (probably from Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed at Comics Should be Good or a commenter there!) explained that Lobo was meant to be his dad. Kind of a waste not using Thrust again somewhere, but hey, DC's had a ton of great teenaged characters since then, like Anima and Risk.

Regardless, this was a fun series, that seemed pretty lighthearted even though the Dominators were up to their usual evil, there's a government conspiracy that will probably lead to Earth blowing up in the LOSH future, and T-Wolf is stuck a thousand years in his past. That last one's probably as much fun for him as it would be for you or I to go back to the year 1006: everyone smells, is full of barbaric and stupid ideas, and the pornography is vastly inferior to what you're used to...wait...

The only trouble is, like I said, this was like three reboots ago. There's a Timber Wolf in the new Waid and Kitson Legion, but very different. The Creeper guests in issue 3, and he was just restarted with a new origin too. (Not a bad first issue, but why?) Rao, Lobo's probably been rebooted by now. I imagine this series, like a lot of other books, have been rendered 'continuity orphans' by the various the whole New Earth thing.

But I still have the issues, so this Timber Wolf still has a home here, with Jennifer Morgan and the old Warlord, and the old Creeper series, and any other misfits of continuity that turn up. What favorites of yours have been exiled from New Earth, or any other universe?

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Monday, August 21, 2006

This was pretty much my evening, yeah. Except I insist on a lightsaber spoon.

From Nextwave #7, written by Warren Ellis, art by Stuart Immonen. Nextwave is, of course, love. I know some of you might have reservations or complaints about the treatment or characterization of Captain Marvel or Machine Man, but keep in mind that before this they had sold approximately six comics total between them.

I don't usually post panels from recent comics, but this panel just spoke to me, and it was a good one for a day misspent watching TV. My wife was working on something, and I was watching Prison Break. It's not as good as 24, but it's usually enjoyable...but it seemed dumber than usual today. Watched Vanished as well, and that had bits that seemed like they belonged in an old Detective Comics issue, but I may have to come back to that.

Enough. I'm scanning more nonsense for later this week, so more later. And Jeff, thanks for the Power Records info! I'm looking forward to checking it out soon.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

A plea for help to the Comic Blogosphere!

First of all, a big thanks for the link to When Fangirls Attack! If you stumbled over here from there, on behalf of Male White Corporate Oppressor Comics, welcome aboard! We'll be talking about the new 'Dr. Light vs. the Female Green Lantern Corps' maxi-series today...No, seriously, welcome, and I don't know what's coming up next either. So, I thought I'd take a second to ask for help.

Conveniently, this ad was in the aforementioned issue of DC Presents with Enemy Ace. Since I'm old, I had a record player as a kid; and since my folks are a bit square (Mom, Dad, sorry!) instead of listening to Zeppelin or Foghat or whatever 70's people listened to, I had comic books on record. "The Action 'Comes Alive' as you Read!" To be honest, I probably didn't have a lot of choice. In the town I grew up, there was one radio station, and all I remember besides 'it sucked' was that it seemed to play a lot of Anne Murray.

(No cable, four channels at best, crappy radio, and of course no internet, but you could buy comics at four different locations within walking distance of my house: two grocery stores, a convenience store, and a weird little grocery that always had the black-and-whites like Savage Sword of Conan . Thinking about it, I'm not sure if this is 'progress.' I seriously wonder if you can comics within 80 miles of this town now.)

An old friend of mine once said, if I had listened to Zeppelin as a kid, I would have become a guitar player. So, by that logic, if my parents had gotten me 'real' records, I might have become a rock god instead of a comic blogger.

Mom, Dad, I don't, and can't, thank you enough. Seriously. Probably saved me from a 'career' in prog rock, at least. At best, I'd be a 'guitar hero' playing the county fair circuit...

The above four issues were condensed on one record, and while I didn't have the accompanying comics to read along with, I listened to those stories, without exaggeration, probably hundreds of times. I grew up in northern Montana in the seventies, and for those of you used to deluges of information and media, it would be like living in a sensory deprivation tank. Except that someone keeps tapping on my tank and asking what the hell's wrong with me. Suffice it to say, I had a lot of time to listen to those stories and play with my Legos and my Megos.

Today, I still have that record squirreled away somewhere, and eventually tracked down copies of the adapted comics.(I have the record version of the Fantastic Four one, which was probably edited to match the audio version, and the new lettering looks like it was done with whiteout and a sharpie.) Whenever I read them, my poor brain can still piece together the sound effects, dramatic declarations, and breathless narration. And, to be honest, what I remember of those records is doubtless a bazillion times cooler than what they actually sound like. But that's not good enough! Has anyone seen these, in MP3 format, for download? Anyone?

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Saturday, August 19, 2006

I know Ghost Rider's...punishing this guy, somehow.

A guy with a priest collar yet. Wow, that looks bad. Yay, out-of-context panels! Suffice it to say, that guy was um, evil. And stuff. And not a real priest. And Ghost Rider's not doing anything...icky to him: just burning his soul with hellfire. That's much better!

From Ghost Rider #68, reprinted in The Original Ghost Rider Rides Again #1. "The Curse of Jonathan Blaze!" Written by Roger Stern, art by Bob Budiansky, inks by Josef Rubinstein. This was about the only issue of the old Johnny Blaze Ghost Rider that I got when it was originally coming out. Luckily, it's one of the best ones: a pretty strong retelling of his origin. Johnny is tragic and tortured, and the Ghost Rider seems to really be enjoying punishing evil and being a dick. He was referred to as a 'cursed spirit of vengeance,' but he always seemed to be having more fun busting heads and scorching evildoers than the later versions. Which is probably why the old version is remembered as 'cheesy fun,' and the 90's one is remembered for being 'kewl,' if at all.

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Friday, August 18, 2006

I'm allergic as hell, and I'd want one.

From Warlord #66, "wizardwar' Written by Mike Grell (maybe Sharon Grell), art by Dan Jurgens and Mike DeCarlo. Now Sharon Wright, Mike's ex-wife ghost-wrote a batch of 'his' last issues. I'm not sure I noticed the switch, even re-reading a big box of issues. While I don't have a complete run, I would hazard an opinion: the first 86 or so issues of Warlord are awesome, the rest of the series (which, sadly, I do have most of) not as good.

This issue was my first of the series, and there's virtually no recap. Who is the Warlord? Where'd he get a gun? Who are all these characters? Fortunately, 'Holy crap, that cat is awesome!' covers a multitude of sins. And I like Dan Jurgens artwork in this issue more than on anything else he's ever done, even now. Whether that's from DeCarlo's inks, or that rosy tint of nostalgia that my ophthalmologist is trying to correct, I don't know. But there's action, there's the Evil One, a centaur, a dwarf magician; there's a redhead with a switchblade stiletto in her sword, and there's a werewolf. What more do you people want?

Although I didn't realize it at the time, Jennifer Morgan, the Warlord's daughter, was a relatively new addition to the cast. She had only been Sorceress Supreme for a few months, and I don't think she's even referred to as such in this issue. Still, since this one takes place in ancient Skartaris during the age of the Wizard Kings...yes, I played D&D as a kid, how did you know?...Jennifer does a lot of the heavy lifting this issue. Kinda like if you had a JLA story with Hawkman, Flash, Green Lantern and Superman; but Wonder Woman did 90% of the work: a lot of characters, and some have a moment to shine, some don't.

Since I don't have some of the issues before this one, I don't know exactly why Travis is so cool with his daughter's newfound magic powers. He doesn't baby her or give her orders this issue, and she makes most of the plans. As far as the magic goes, it looks like Jennifer's the boss of that. I like her costume too, but it's a Mike Grell design, so your opinion may vary: if you liked his Legion of Super-Heroes costume designs, then they might work for you. Plus, Skartaris is probably ass-scorchingly hot every day, and everyone shows a ton of skin, male, female, or it. Hell, there's more fabric in my shirt than the Warlord's entire 'costume.'

And even today, when I hear the name Shakira, I don't think "travel-sized Latin-pop bellydancer." I think "Cat-woman-fur bikini." Don't judge me.

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Thursday, August 17, 2006

Replacing these pictures out of flickr is a pain in my ass.
So, since this week I've been ranting about Civil War or wondering why I didn't notice the pantsless Nazi, I've fallen behind in Warlord-related posts. Time to get back on the stick! From Green Arrow #28 (1989), "Siege" Written by Mike Grell, art by Dan Jurgens and Dick Giordano.

This was the second part to guest-star Travis Morgan's return from the lost world of Skartaris. As if twenty years of change wasn't bad enough, everywhere he goes in Seattle people try to kill him, thinking he's Green Arrow. Beating the scoop out of a goon, the Warlord goes to Oliver Queen's castle (I'm not sure why he lives in a castle, or if there were castles in Seattle?) to punch his lights out.

Punching Ollie? Piece of cake. Backtalking Black Canary? Not so much so. Keep in mind, Travis was an Air Force Pilot circa 1971 or thereabouts, so he's not particularly 'enlightened' or politically correct or anything. Still, it is a bit odd, since there were several women--Tara, Shakira, and Mariah--in his own book, that he never would have said that to, or he would've got punched there too.

But it's such a great set-up, it's easy to let go. This issue is pretty handily the best use of the Warlord in the DCU ever, and I also remember around this time being sad that Canary was being pulled out of the 'bwah-ha-ha' Justice League for Green Arrow. After this, I don't think I minded. Of course, the continuity is a little murky on this too: Ollie shoots quite a few people with arrows, and not the boxing-glove kind, the pointy ones. Dinah also guns a few goons down with an Uzi for good measure, so I'm wondering if that's been ret-conned out. Any Birds of Prey fans out there, let me know if there's any issues where Canary makes a big deal about not killing, 'kay?

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Probably my last complaint about Civil War. Today. How I'm wrecking comics, 3

Holy hell, you could get a better resolution picture with a cell phone. A cheap cell phone. Well, I'd rather get the toys instead.

If Civil War came down to Cap and Iron Man punching it out in hundred-foot tall robots: honestly, I'd be a little bit of just fine with that. (And for you Ultimates fans, tell me it doesn't look like Ultimate still-drinking Tony is going to pull out the big gun, a giant Iron Man armor, by the end of volume 2.)

Anyway, while I've had some fun ragging on the plot points and characterization I disagree with in the series; and I know Mike Millar has had health problems, and I don't know how much lead time Steve McNiven was given to crank out the admittedly very nice art: the problem is, like most of the rest of you, I have to go to work for eight hours a day. Whether I want to or not, whether I have other projects that I want to get done, whether I'm tired or bored or want to play Playstation or hung over or kind of sick or uninspired or in a rut or antsy or on tour or any other reason you want to throw out. And while it would be gosh, just super! if I could dog it out and just turn in stuff whenever and the work would go out whenever and all the customers would be happy to have it then...I'm not going to talk specifically about my work, but I'll tell you one thing: that wouldn't fucking happen. And I'm pretty sure it wouldn't at your work either.

Of course, this is just as hypocritical as anything else, since Warren Ellis and Chris Weston--and I'm not sure who exactly was at fault on that one--dogged out Ministry of Space, and I griped, but didn't make a federal case about it. Of course, that was for Image, for themselves, and the last issue of the series; not the midpoint of a huge company-wide crossover, work-for-hire, and hamstringing the bulk of rest of Marvel's schedule.

Also, one of the arguments for running late is that the collected book is going to be a more lasting artifact than the trifling little monthlies. Which is probably true, but...Civil War isn't going to be on the shelves in ten years with Dark Knight Returns or Watchmen. No slander to Millar or McNiven, but it's not.

Enough. For some reason, Garbage is on PBS, and I still love Shirley Manson, despite how my wife glares at me when I watch her. So, I'm gonna watch Shirley, tease my wife a bit, and play with toys. To anyone still upset about this: there's lots of other comics still floating around out there, many of which are cheaper, lots of which are just as or more entertaining. Pick one up.

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Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Civil War late? I've got your back!

(Edit: the other crappity photos I took for this aren't coming through yet! More later, but they aren't exactly magazine quality, OK?)
Yeah, ok, Civil War probably isn't going to end like this. But I was able to knock this nonsense out in an hour...making my deadline! Nyah!
Actually, I'm not too bothered by Civil War running late. I also don't know if I saw the story first at Newsarama or at someone's blog, but the general consensus seems to be: Marvel is going to do whatever it wants to do, and the 'monthly' comic is just a loss-leader to the inevitable trade paperback. The creators will continue to do whatever they want, and the fans may bitch and moan and make a stink (figuratively, I should hope) but they'll still cough up the green in the end.
Brian Hibbs from Savage Critic(s) points out the only ones that really lose (potentially) are the retailers, who could very well be left on the hook for those comics if the fans finally do turn on these late books. He makes some great points over there, except for one: "Even if you have to replace George Perez with Ron Lim."
Oh, Perez is great, but show Lim some love! I really liked his work on, well, about every third Marvel book there for a stretch in the early 90's. He had long runs on Captain America and Silver Surfer, then work on everything from Excalibur to Conan the Barbarian.

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And the real reason Civil War is late:

They realized the 'twist' ending had been done before.

Now show Ron Lim some love, Brian. From Infinity War #2, "Ethereal Revisionism" Written by Jim Starlin, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Alan Milgrom.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Odd associations, from my skull to yours.

I have no idea sometimes how my brain links things together. For instance, whenever I hear the Radiohead song "No Surprises" (from the album The Bends) I think of Enemy Ace. Not sure why. I think of fighter pilots from both sides going up in very flammable planes that were barely safe to fly, let alone fight in; knowing every time they went up it could be their last; while at home a wife and children wait, probably in vain.

"Such a pretty house, and such a pretty garden,
With no alarms and no surprises,
No alarms and no surprises,
No alarms and no surprises please."

I'm pretty sure 99% of the Enemy Ace stories I have are reprints, excluding the George Platt graphic novel, and the Garth Ennis prestige-format issues. So, I don't think I have every Enemy Ace story there is, but that's OK: I've never been disappointed by an Enemy Ace appearance. From his Crisis cameos to Guns of the Dragon, when the Hammer of Hell shows up, it might not be a laugh riot, but it's always good reading. The only downside to that, is that if the solicits say Enemy Ace is going to be guesting in Outsiders or Nightwing, I'd almost be obligated to give it a try. Ugh.

Plus, my son (and wife!) got me the DC Direct Enemy Ace a few years ago, and he still looks cool as hell. Wish I knew what I did with his wolf sidekick/accessory, though.

Anyway, "No Surprises" came up on my minidisc player today, so even though I planned something else, this is what I ended up doing. And then looking for this, I found some other stuff, and so it goes. If any of you have particular (or peculiar) songs for specific comics, let me know.

Today's panels are from "The Devil's General" and was actually uncredited in my copy! Script by Bob Kanigher, art by Joe Kubert, from DC Special Presents...Enemy Ace #26.

Edit: Oh fudd. Trent just pointed out that "No Surprises" is on OK Computer, not the Bends. See kids, this is what's going to happen to you when you listen to all your music on the ipod or the obsolete minidisc: you won't remember what album anything's from. Or, I'm just getting senile. Thanks Trent, and I'm going to check out your blog soon!

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Monday, August 14, 2006

Sidebar: It's weird what I find weird, I guess...
All the henchmen kind of run together, but I guess the Red Skull wouldn't have hired a black guy...
Last Saturday's entry, a little further down here, was actually written around July 4, after I had read a ton of Captain America. But, until the Fortress Keeper (of the superlative Fortress of Fortitude, of course) pointed it out in the comments, the staggering weirdness of two of Marvel's biggest villains, stripping down to their underwear to fight it out, didn't really occur to me. Huh. And traditionally in Marvel Comics, this would be the sort of occasion where a villain would break out their new Evil Armor or whatever. Not strip down to their...well, giant-ass boxers in the Kingpin's case.

I was more hung up on Red Skull's scabby head, but I may also have been distracted by the henchmen above. Frankly, there can't be a lot of perks working for the Kingpin: no dental for Daredevil-related injuries; the very real possibility Kingpin, Bullseye, Typhoid Mary, etc. will kill you as an example of their might; the vague hope of turning state's evidence someday. But, sometimes you get to watch the boss beat up a Nazi or actors dressed up like Spider-Man and the Black Cat; or Daredevil will tell a funny story about breaking Turk's limbs. That's pretty much it.

To be fair, working for the Red Skull would be much, much worse: Cap can bust you up much more than Daredevil; even better chances of being more horribly killed by the Skull, Crossbones, Mother Night, etc; and the possibility of being left on the hook for war crimes. So, the Skull probably lost because of the lack of pep on his side, I guess.

There's probably more jokes to be made about the Kingpin and Red Skull in their underwear, but it's weird how not-weird that seems to I could bike to work, see that, and not even bother to stop...

In other news, Ian Myles Slater pointed out some interesting links discussing the Super Soldier Serum. I'm pretty sure Cap needed some follow-up treatment after the SSS: the Vita-ray treatment, or somesuch; which I don't think most of the other recipents received. Of course, something that could theoretically turn you into the Man-Thing probably isn't going to be fast-tracked for FDA approval, either. Good discussion at the links, so check 'em out!

By the way: Man-Thing may very well be my least-favorite Marvel character. But, we'll save that discussion for another time, since I'm even more off track than usual today. And that's saying something, I think.

And, today's panel was from Captain America #378, "Grand Stand Play!" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Danny Bulanadi. And remember:

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When Captain America burns you, you stay burnt.  It's like getting zinged by your mom, it stings for a long while. Read more!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Emergency or not, ladies; you could finish getting dressed first.
Wait, why am I complaining?
Recently I mocked Power Girl's yellow and white costume, that she wore for a few years in Justice League Europe. Like it was the worst costume she ever wore: that's Kara up there with the red headband.

It's weird to think, to me anyway, that I've been reading about Power Girl for years. One of my first comics that I remember is an All-Star Comics issue with her and the (late, lamented) Star-Spangled Kid. Then she was in Warlord, and Justice League Europe...

Wait, you say, Warlord? Yeah, Warlord. Today's panel is from Warlord #121, "Clouds of War!" Written by Michael Fleisher, art by Art Thibert and Pablo Marcos. I've mentioned the book before, and while it's a series I have a lot of fondness for, it also had a long stretch of not-very-good issues. During that stretch, or maybe during Crisis on Infinite Earth, Travis Morgan got shuffled into the DC Universe proper. Previously, creator Mike Grell said the book took place in a world without super-heroes, but it probably seemed to editorial like a good idea, a way to bring in more readers.

And how could you not bring in readers, with guest stars like Scavenger! Or Power Girl, out of costume, and slogging through her half-assed post-Crisis Arion-Atlantis origin? Or the New Gods...minus Orion, Mr. Miracle, Big Barda. Sweet Christmas, I probably lost readers just recapping that list. Still, Warlord ran for 133 issues, a pretty solid run.

The Warlord still showed up in the DCU, up until his new (terrible) series. He had appearances in Teen Titans (the one with the teenaged Atom, that's been cancelled), Aquaman (not the Sword of... one, the cancelled one before that), and Justice League Task Force (you guessed it, cancelled). I think he's a great character, but tough to work into a superhero universe, and tough to tell stories that are more tailored for him without being repetitive. (Credit to Dan Jurgens, who worked on the original book, and has done Warlord guest-spots more than once.)

I don't know if the new series is a reboot or Hypertime or Superboy punching reality (ugh), but the continuity is quite different. Still, Travis' daughter Jennifer, Sorceress Supreme, had a cameo in Day of Vengeance. Where she was pretty much punk'd. Maybe Jennifer's a continuity orphan like Kara now. They were better friends than Kara and the new Supergirl, but that's not saying much.

Also in Warlord #121: A Darkseid cameo! Like four sub-plots! And Power Girl and Jennifer Morgan fight a purple-pink, one-horned, demon. With a tail. And a 'scepter of power.' I have no comment for any of this.

Coming up later: I left out probably the best Warlord guest spot, which we'll check out soon. And did anyone see the Justice League Unlimited episode with him? Waiting for the DVD's sucks...

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

Honestly, I can't tell which goon has the worse job.

Would you rather...

A. Have to pat down the Kingpin, which really should be a two person job if they want to have this fight in the near future.

B. Touch the scabby face of the Red Skull. Gross!

C. Have to fight a huge-armed, skull-masked sociopath, in Yankee Stadium, while coming down really hard?

Again, from the Streets of Poison storyline in Captain America, written by Mark Gruenwald, art by Ron Lim. The larger storyline was an anti-drug rebuttal: if drugs are so bad, how come Captain America was created by a drug? Probably because there's a difference between the Super-Soldier Serum, and black tar heroin. Mmm...heroin. The SSS is probably more akin to steroids, but Cap's never shown any ill effects attributed to steroids like "roid rage." It's like trying to explain "drugs are bad" without differentiating between a legitimate (if experimental) medical treatment; and something made out of cough syrup and battery acid then purchased in a back alley from a guy with three teeth.

During the course of the storyline, Cap is exposed to large quantities of crack in a warehouse explosion, and the crack latches onto the SSS already in Cap's blood and stays there. So, Cap gets high, and stays high, getting weird, then paranoid and violent. Black Widow, Diamondback, and Daredevil all try to stop the increasingly erratic Cap, for his part, administers a beating on Daredevil so bad that he pretty much beat DD amnesiac. (As mentioned earlier, but we may come back to that) And to subdue him, the Widow has to shoot Cap in the face (!) with her wrist-blaster thingee.

In the last issue, after having the tainted blood removed, a SSS-less Cap has to prove himself by fighting Crossbones. (The Super-Soldier Serum altered Cap's DNA, if I remember correctly, although he needed a blood transfusion at the start of Mark Waid's run too.) Meanwhile, the Red Skull and the Kingpin are going to duke it out, mano a mano, to see who will get custody of the drug trade in New York City. Currently, the Skull is in a cloned copy of Cap's body (but with a scabby head!) and is a seasoned fighter; while the Kingpin is near the top of his game, and built like a sumo. And the guy searching the Skull misses a shield activator on the bottom of the Skull's heel, which creates a ring for them to fight without interference. (That guy: soooo fired.)

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Friday, August 11, 2006

Not the best HR ever.

I had misremembered this sequence, and it's one of my favorite villain bits ever: I had thought the Skull had used the cigarette holder with the "red dust of death" and spit it in the poor accountants face, but he used a cane. Just from the casual meanness of this, even Crossbones looks dismayed. Weird, now that I look at it, Ms. Conrad looks like Peggy Hill.

From the Streets of Poison storyline in Captain America, written by Mark Gruenwald, art by Ron Lim. During this stretch, even though he had a skull face and was trying to bring down the government, the Red Skull was working out of an office building in Washington DC, probably with a hefty turnover in temps.

I also like Crossbones, because he's something you don't usually see in your comic-book super villains: a competent henchman. That's something I don't think I've ever seen for say, Dr. Doom, Lex Luthor, R'as Al Ghul, or the Joker. Skull must have a better interview process.

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Atlas, Bishop, Black Widow, Blizzard, Doc Samson, Fixer, Invisible Woman, Joystick, Mach IV, Micromax, Mr. Fantastic, Ms. Marvel, Radioactive Man, Sabra, She-Hulk, Songbird, Spider-Man, the Thing, Tigra, Wasp, Yellowjacket, Wonder Man.

I feel like I'm being pretty hard on Civil War, considering I'm not devoting a lot of time or cash to reading it. And I don't think the issues involved are necessarily at fault: should super-heroes have the right to a secret identity and relative autonomy? Or should the government have the right to monitor, train, and license super-heroes? Good questions. I just don't think making this a 'Civil War' by arbitrarily assigning characters to a side for the purpose of generating conflict, makes for a good story.

Also, just from looking at the list up there on Iron Man's side (from the Daily Bugle Civil War special) it looks like three are going to be switching sides (or in the case of the Thing, leaving the whole mess). And Micromax, Sabra, and Radioactive Man are from England, Israel, and China, respectively: they would probably be deported if they were against registration, but they aren't citizens so it shouldn't be an issue.

Also, I don't see Black Widow as being pro-registration: are her most recent limited series out-of-continuity?

In a slightly different vein, I was thinking about House of M for a moment earlier today as well: I didn't read the regular series for that right away either,but I was thinking about the waste of the alternate-reality Hulk and Iron Man issues: were the readers clamoring for aboriginine Hulk or Ultimate Robot Fighting Iron Man? I like alternate reality stories, but they should be about how a changed circumstance can affect the choices a character makes: If Batman's parents had been attacked but not killed by a mugger, how would that affect young Bruce Wayne? Would he devote himself to fighting crime, and if so, at the same level that he did as in the Batman's reality? Or would he make a different choice?

Unfortunately, most What If? or Elseworlds or similar stories end up being about how cool it would be if Wolverine was blow'd up, or how Wonder Woman would look as a 17th century French Aristrocrat: a different coat of paint, when what I'm interested in is a change in architecture. If you put Hulk or Iron Man or any character in a radically altered world, show how it's changed the character, and it better be big. Too often, the answer is Hulk will be Hulk, or that Tony Stark is destined to become Iron Man; whether they were born in Atlantis or put into a world where America was never colonized. I'm probably reading too much nature vs. nurture into this, so I'll let it go.

Still, and I don't know if I made this point in Iron Man Week a while back; but I'm not too worried about Tony: his origin and characterization will probably change with the upcoming movie anyway. And if he can survive through the 'Teen Tony' issues, it shouldn't be a problem.

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I'm so not explaining the reference here.

Brandon at Random Panels started this one up, "Bat Blank." Come up with your best one word answer to fill in for Bruce's one word! Come for the blank, stay for the fun! Also, Brandon's lettering technique, which involves cutting, pasting, and possibly carving for all I know; is nigh-unbeatable.

Slightly off-topic: I seem to recall there was a G.I.Joe member named Airtight, who was like a biohazard-specialist soldier, all armored up against gas or chemical warfare. I wonder how many Joes (or Cobras) had names that they had to change when they became, well, suggestive. I'm sure you can think of some...

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Like a reading rainbow, only in little yellow text boxes.

Chris from Two Guys Buying Comics hit me with this, so blame him:

One book that's changed your life:

This'll sound weird, but probably Stephen King's Pet Cematary. Not just because I have my dead pets cremated now, but because that's the first of his books I remember reading, and I've probably read well tens of thousands of pages from him since. And that's a conservative estimate.

And it's a Ramones song, that's why.

One book that you've read more than once:

Oh, lots of books. A lot of stuff I read anymore is pop lit, like King, or licensed fiction novels. Plus, I read pretty quickly anyway, but if I'm enjoying a book, a lot of times I'll tear through it the first time because I'm anxious to see what happens; then maybe savor it a little more the next time around.

I was going to reread some of the Marvel licensed books again on my vacation, but was too busy watching the kids to re-read Captain America: The Great Gold Steal (by Ted White, a fifty-cent novel from 1968) or Iron Man: the Armor Trap (by Greg Cox, from 1995). The last book I definitely remember re-reading was the Dead Zone.

One book that's made me laugh:

For some reason, the first one that came to mind was Illegal Aliens by Nick Pollotta and Phil Foglio. It's been forever since I've read it, but I believe a street gang manages to take over an alien starship and its weapons. Of course they start making demands, and one is for new Star Trek episodes with the original cast, which still makes me laugh. I probably laugh out loud at books more than is normal though.

One book that's made me cry:

Sorry, haven't cried in years. Dead inside. I did have a gutwrenching "oh no" at the end of Stephen King's last Dark Tower book, though.

One book I'd want on a desert island:

Barring something helpful, Haruki Murikami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicles.

One book I wish I'd written:

Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, like Murikami's work, it entertains and I find something new every time I read it.

One book I wish had never been written:

A Confederacy of Dunces. Got it as a present once, but have never been able to read it more than a few chapters in.

One book I've been meaning to read:

Probably Stephen King's The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah, which I somehow missed and read the last book in the series.

Now I feel like I don't read enough book books lately, but with the kids and this blog and comics and this and that, I don't know when I'd read them anyway. There's writers like William Gibson or Murikami or usually Stephenson that I'll always buy stuff from, but they aren't exactly speedy writers.

And this is a contradictory answer, but even though I love serialized comic fiction, I usually can't stand buying novels that are 'Part 6 of 90,' which put me off of a lot of fantasy when I was a kid. Probably just as well on that one. In cases like that, I prefer something like a Conan or Star Trek novel: you pick it up, read it, done. I remember someone lending me Ender's Game, or one of Orson Card's books, and it was ok up to the last ten or so pages, when I realized he wasn't going to end this, this was going to be an interdeterminable series of books. Nuts to that. (Sidebar: the city I currently live in had that as their reading program book a while back, where the idea is to get the whole town to read it. My tax dollars at work...)

Read the Lord of the Rings books as a kid: really didn't like them. I much preferred the Howard Conan books or John Carter, Warlord of Mars. You know, books where things happened? (Let the hatemail commence! I liked the LOTR movies, but the books were a slog.) So I say I don't like the long series of novels, but I don't even remember how many Mars books there were. And King totally has a pass on the series rule too. Basically, I like what I like, and will slag what I don't, and the criteria probably changes depending on when you ask me...

If I could add a question to this, it would probably be: what books have you lent out and never gotten back? That would be a goddamn list...

Phooey. Stop reading this and check out Snow Crash or Wind-Up Bird Chronicles. Or some comics, those are good too...

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From the Getting Lemons, Making Lemonade, Being Told to Dump the Lemonade before getting on the Plane department:
I can't help but notice, Captain Britain was willing to fly in himself during the Inferno crossover...
So, my wife was flying in to a convention today...yeah, not a great day for it. I talked to her a bit ago, and she was in Portland and held up. But, she did find a new US Weekly, so there's some good. Honestly, she loves that magazine. Possibly in the same fashion that I have to have at least some comics fix every week, except US back issues are just sad. Like seeing your 'favorite' 'stars' before the arrests and the weight gain and the lawsuits. Or hyping up movies that you know ended up being failures. And ads for diets and pills before they were discredited or banned: how's that Adkins doing for you?

Anyway, with my wife away, I'm home for a couple days with the kids. While that means a lot less reading other blogs (I have a dialup and it takes too long.) it may mean a lot more blogging. Or at least more comics reading. Or I may just sit around watching old videos as I chase the kids around. Really, there's no telling. I have a Lone Wolf and Cub video around somewhere that I've never watched. The key word in that last sentence is'somewhere.'

This panel was from Excalibur #101, "Quiet." It was the nearest thing offhand that I could think of with a flying or plane reference. Written by young Warren Ellis, pencils by Casey Jones, inks by Tom Simmons. Good aftermath issue: the team returns home after taking care of their own storylines, to find out Professor Xavier's gone mad, turned into Onslaught, and is currently fighting the Avengers, Fantastic Four, and X-Men. Tired, injured, and based out of England, there's not a lot they can do about it. Basically, Excalibur's participation in the Onslaught crossover was watching it on TV, which is a sweet deal there.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

How I'm Wrecking Comics, Part 2: Don't judge me.

I totally needed this. I don't care what anyone says. I absolutely had to have a three-dimensional representation of my favorite comic character, from one of his best stories; that one of my kids will eventually break. Never mind that it cost enough that I could've got two Essentials and a cheap Showcase...wait, really? Damn. Well, I already have my Essential Godzilla, and until DC starts putting stuff like Showcase Presents: the Warlord, or Manhunter, I can hold out. (It occurs to me, between the five or so different versions, there might be just enough for one big Showcase for Manhunter.)

Admittedly, it may not be an iconic piece. Kurt's only gone the pirate look a few times that I can think of: in the first issue of his limited series by creator Dave Cockrum (which is referenced on the box, but not 'on model'), a couple times in the Danger Room in Uncanny and Ultimate X-Men, and a fever dream in his recent Darick Robertson-penciled book. He also realizes pretty quickly (again, in Cockrum's series) that being a pretend pirate is all well and good, but actually attacking a ship, boarding it, and sending all aboard to 'Davy Jone's Locker' is less fun. Even if they're aliens. Still, it's a fun Nightcrawler piece, and I'm glad to have it.

Besides, I got 839 out of 2500! Eat it, 840! Whoo!

A big thanks to the Comic Book Shop, my wife for the birthday present, and my friends Matt and Tori for the gift certificate!

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I can just picture a seven-year-old Bruce Wayne, watching Scooby-Do with a criminology text and counting mistakes.
Ah, for the more innocent days when a character named 'Balloon Buster' didn't elicit howls of laughter and pointing. (Granted, about after about 30 seconds of deep thought I came up with worse names, but still.) Man, I'm probably the only person ever to search GCD for Steve Savage, Balloon Buster, but he did come up with a few hits, including Crisis on Infinite Earths #9. (Making reason #412 why Infinite Crisis is lacking in comparison: no Sgt. Rock, Unknown Soldier, Enemy Ace, Jonah Hex, Warlord, Anthro...)

Today's panels are from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #7, "I Am a Gun." Written by James Robinson, art by Steve Yeowell, flashback sequences by Russ Heath. If this had been an old issue of Brave and the Bold, the logos for Batman and Steve Savage, Balloon Buster would've taken up about a third of the cover. This was the year DC's theme for the annuals was "Pulp Heroes," mixing their regular super-heroes with the traditions of older, pulp adventure magazines and comics; mostly crime, with the occasional dinosaur or sci-fi story.

Through the flashback sequences, Robinson and Heath do a stellar job of making you care about DC's number one WWI pilot that's not Enemy Ace, Steve Savage. The story also makes a nice bookend to previous tales involving Batman and Enemy Ace, without Batman ever meeting either one.

Savage lives up to his name, as he takes revenge on the German deserters that murder his wife-to-be at the closing days of the war. His mantra, "I am a gun!" seems somewhat out of place, almost more like something Enemy Ace would think while another pilot is claimed by the 'killer skies!' Batman notes that the dogfights between Savage and Von Hammer were inconclusive: The Hammer of Hell was a cold, emotionless killer (to my mind, he was a gun), while Savage was a wild, reckless cowboy; as Batman puts it, the two cancelled each other out.

But the Ace had a better nickname. By far.

The only other Balloon Buster stories I've read have been crossovers with Enemy Ace, but it's hard to imagine him as having the depth of character of the Hammer. And that's OK: not everyone is going to be a tortured soul, although Robinson appeared to be working on that.

Back to the comic at hand: Batman is talking to Smitty there, who is about to grab a hostage and set up aerial dogfight hijinks; when Batman should probably just be punching him out. Doofy 'costume' notwithstanding, Smitty had killed his partner by throwing him out a plane prior to this. So, I can't decide if this is 'Batman trying to resolve a situation without breaking anyone's jaw,' or 'Batman sitting on his hands so the plot moves forward.' Still, this is one of the only 'Pulp Heroes' themed annuals I can remember; although I know I've read others, they probably weren't great.

In the conclusion, as one of the mysteries of Steve Savage's life is revealed, Batman at first declines a celebratory glass of wine, but concedes to a drink in Savage's honor. His initial refusal makes him look like he has a Bat-rod up his ass, but Batman drinking is probably one of those things editors nash their teeth over: is he setting a good example for the kidlings if he has a glass? (But, didn't he get smashed after the death of Stephanie Brown? In fairness, I didn't read those: I caught Spoiler's first issue, and her first issue as Robin, but since it was obviously a short-term gig, I didn't stick around for Tim to come back or the end.) I figure Batman probably drinks a bit as part of his Bruce Wayne act, but doesn't get a lot of enjoyment out of it. Good enough, let it go at that. And good issue: if you've enjoyed Robinson's other work, dig this one up.

In other news, I did find my wife the Britney-video-nonsense she was looking for, but since we have a dial-up at home, it was like watching three seconds of video every ten seconds. On occasion, though, that can work to advantage: from I once checked out a 'Greenpeace horror video,' and it took me about ten minutes to watch a 30-second film. Which just made it all the more horrifying: I knew something was going to happen, but what? And when? The jerky, lurching way it moved reminded me of so many horror movies, and made the wait to see what happened almost intolerable, and of course it was a disappointment once the scary part finally moved like a series of still photos on my computer. But during the wait, it was incredible. Which is probably true for a lot of things.

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