Saturday, September 30, 2006

I barely remember what Hawkeye looks like without the mask. Is his hair shaped like that?

So, does he have a big 'H' on his forehead, or what?

This was back in the day; when, with few exceptions, heroes wore their full costumes 24-7. You were either ready for action or in your civilian identity, with none of this unmasking business. At this point, Hawkeye is so gung-ho on this West Coast team-leader thing that he probably sleeps in his costume, and Mockingbird has to keep hers on as well to humor him. And other reasons.

This exchange reminds me of old Spider-Man comics, when he would lift his mask a little to eat a sandwich or cup of coffee, and I wonder how many people saw him do that. Would they be less afraid and untrusting, if they knew he didn't have a spider-jaw under there? Why do I remember him doing that a lot in the 80's, and not so much before or since?

Rhodey has a point: the team at that point was four other people, all of whom were reasonably trustworthy. But revealing his secret has a few problems: besides having to explain what happened to Tony, without breaking Tony's trust; the Avengers might wonder from then on every time Iron Man shows up, which one is it? Tony? Jim? Happy Hogan? How would they know?

A little of that problem resurfaced in Byrne's run: after the Armor Wars, Tony had created a fake identity for the red-and-silver Iron Man, and faked his death. (Hmm. May have to look at that some other time, especially since the forensics seems really shaky, even with a small nuke involved.) After being shot and paralyzed by an insane ex-girlfriend (Iron Man was the first place I saw a stalker, if you can believe that!) Tony uses the armor to walk again. Since he was going to be in the armor anyway, he decides to rejoin the Avengers, and isn't exactly welcomed with open arms, especially since he won't say who he is in there. It seems kind of jerky, but Hank and Jan both seem to just figure it's Tony in there and don't press the issue.

Today's panel is from West Coast Avengers #3, written by Roger Stern, pencils by Bob Hall, inks by Brett Breeding.

Anyway, blogger's not loading pictures right this second, so coming up soon: Hulk! Read more!

Friday, September 29, 2006

No blog today!

It's my wife's birthday today, and we're...doing something! Hopefully something fun, and romantic, and not completely pulled out of my ass. Today's picture is from Marvel Age #32, by Jim Salicrup and Kyle Baker. Go have fun, and come back tomorrow! Read more!

Thursday, September 28, 2006

A random thought...

I haven't had cable in a while, and I don't eat the stuff, but: when there's e coli bacteria on spinach, does the Food Network have emergency updates? Do they have a stinger and theme music for it, and hourly newsbreaks?

God, my head's full of bad wiring... Read more!
All right, 'Iron Man,' if that is your real name...

I think at the time I was reading this, I was vaguely aware of the switch, probably from Secret Wars. I do remember thinking; y'know, I bet Tony could fake that if he wanted...

If he was a total dick, that is. So, there's at least one thing he wouldn't do to protect his identity...

By the time West Coast Avengers started as a regular series, Tony was back in the red-and-silver armor, and Jim was off the team (without any acknowledgement I ever saw) for about 70+ issues. His sidelining continues to astound me, although I suppose if he was returned to his Iron Man/War Machine role, he would either have to toe Stark's Civil War line, or defect to Cap's side. And even for Marvel, it wouldn't make a helluva lot of sense for Tony to give Jim a new armor, since there's a very real chance Jim would use it against him.

I thought one of the (admittedly few) highpoints in the Force Works/Crossing era was that Jim Rhodes rebuilt his friendship with Tony, but was very much his own man and made his own decisions. He may have been Tony's employee for a long time, but Stark wasn't the boss of him. This pretty much fell by the wayside after he lost the armor, and Rhodey was one of the few Avengers that wasn't crammed into the Busiek/Perez relaunch. (He was mentioned as 'out of the business.' I'm trying to remember if he was brought up again when the team was under pressure to enroll more minorities and less mutants; which then brings up the question, did anyone else outside the team know he was black?)

Tigra also comes across better than, well, she ever would again. I thought she was cool in the four issue limited, but since then she's been written as a flighty airhead. Too bad.

From West Coast Avengers #2, "Blanking Out!" Written by Roger Stern, penciled by Bob Hall, inked by Brett Breeding. Read more!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wait, the wall holds together, and it's 'shoddily built'?

Long, long stretches of the regular West Coast Avengers comic were either forgettable, or devoted to fixing obscure continuity, or plain not good. The limited series that preceded it, however, is a nice four-issue set up: the newly married Hawkeye and his wife Mockingbird start up the new expansion team, with longtime Avengers Wonder Man and Iron Man, and relative newcomer Tigra. (Shh! We've secretly replaced Tony Stark with Jim Rhodes! Let's see if anyone notices...)

I just reread the last three issues the other day, and was impressed at how well they hold up. Stern does a great job of character and continuity without bashing anyone over the head with it.

The angle he's lifting the wall seems a little off: I don't know how well that wall would hold together for Simon either. But there's a lot of fun there, as Simon explains to his friend how stunt work has built his confidence while he pounds nails back in with his fists. When he runs out of nails and has to get more, his friend offers to watch his stuff, but Simon points out nobody else could lift it. (In theory, I suppose anyone with a hammer and no sense of self-preservation could pull the nails out and help themselves...)

From West Coast Avengers #2, "Blanking Out!" Written by Roger Stern, pencils by Bob Hall, inks by Brett Breeding. Read more!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Is that...does Viper have a quick release bra?

Somehow, that doesn't seem like the most practical battle outfit, does it? I checked other photos of it, and the clip wasn't for her harness or holster, but no, it's for her bra. It does explain how Viper got married to Wolverine in about fifteen minutes, no it doesn't. And she may have got a good deal on Murderworld with Buy It Now, but Arcade completely dicked her on the postage. Plus, even trapped in a giant pinball, from this angle it looks like Nightcrawler's mesmerized by Viper's giant holographic crotch...

This is from Uncanny X-Men #448, "Guess who's back in town?" from Chris Claremont last stretch on the book, with pencils by Oliver Coipel and inks by Scott Hanna. This issue has pile after pile of Claremont continuity, like unstable molecule evening wear that turns into uniforms, the time Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers saved Queen Elizabeth's life, and Captain Britain's demolished manor mysteriously unblown-up. Yeah, it's not great, no matter how much goodwill you have for the characters. I wouldn't mention it at all, except for that horrible outfit... Read more!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Hawkeye can stay dead. We miss you, Quasar.

From Annihilation: Nova #3, "Safety in Numbers" Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, pencils by Key Walker, inks by Rick Magyar.

Abnett and Lanning work together a lot, and had a good run of Legion a while back, but I associate them with Star Trek: Early Voyages (which was actually Dan Abnett and Ian Edginton). The book was cancelled midstream with #17, with what would have been the start of a four-part storyline. Abnett and Edginton noted they had the plot and story, but weren't going to tell us. At first, that had the reek of sour grapes, although I thought it was cheekily amusing; but then, these guys aren't paid to give away story ideas.

Not to damn with faint praise, but DnA do a good job of Blue Beetle'ing Quasar here: Marvel fandom had a pretty good idea poor Wendell was doomed as soon as they saw him on the solicitations for this issue. But then Gabrielle Dell'Otto makes him look cool as hell on the cover. And DnA don't mock or belittle Quasar, even though he wasn't the most popular character even when he had his own book. (60 issues, kids! By comparison, WildC.A.T.s has had three different series since 1992, and still hasn't had 60 issues total. Also, Grifter sucks.) Quasar's confident, likeable, and kicks some ass, then goes out fighting Annihilus. Here's hoping he'll be back.

But how does Quasar get his hair like that in space? My wife was at a loss for any man-made product that could get that effect; but I must say it has to look better than Nova's. After wearing that bucket all day, his hair has got to be all greasy and blah. This is why Marvel's space characters are traditionally either bald (the Surfer, Drax, Thanos), or rock the 'Firestorm' do. Just so you know.

Plus, over at Comic Book Resources, there's a possible spoiler about the upcoming Quasar limited series! I'm not sure how I feel about it, but may have to give it a try. Read more!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Avengers #179-180: Earth's Least competent Heroes? Coldest Heroes?

Avengers #179 and #180 are a bit of a muddle: there's an assassination attempt on Captain America, there's the angry bird mutant Bloodhawk, there's Talky it's defense, it covers a lot of ground, and has most of the classic line up.

Narf. Starting on the wrong foot here, I was thinking of the Assassin issue, that's the one with the attempt on Cap, and everyone at his bedside in the hospital. This one's got the Stinger, who takes down Black Panther in like three panels. Shh! Don't tell Reginald Hudlin, unless you want to read three months of Black Panther comics explaining how he meant to lose the fight as part of his master plan or something, and how Panther built a stinger when he was six.

I thought by this time, Panther was back as king of Wakanda pretty much full time. Maybe this is his vacation, beating up coffee thieves on the dockside. What year is this...1978. If this had been an 80's comic, it would have been thugs unloading cocaine. As is, the thieves are dressed up in suits for the robbery, and one even blurts out mid-beating "I got a wife and kids--UGG!" A wife and kids with a serious caffeine habit, I guess.

Later, on a rooftop, Panther is attacked by the Stinger, who in three panels uses invisibility, his 'shocking touch!'...which is in fact a ray (?), and his 'scorching sting,' a drugged dart on a cord. Stinger must have sunk all his capital into the gadgets, because his costume is terrible, and the eyeholes on his mask look like a bad Kiss 'homage.' With Panther captured, Stinger takes an Avengers press clipping from his belt...well, that's where I keep all the press clippings I need...and has a little villain laugh for himself.

Meanwhile, at JFK Airport, two crabby passengers take a taxi to the Museum of Natural History. One is rocking the hat/trenchcoat look that only works for supervillains. No one ever notices that half those guys have bright green boots plainly visible, or maybe it's just not good form to point out that little fashion faux pas.

The Avengers are at the Museum already, for a benefit. This must be an old story, from back when you didn't need three different kinds of insurance for that kind of event. Yellowjacket and Vision are in full costume, as they're total stiffs. Scarlet Witch and Wasp are dressed up for the occasion ('since they're girls!' is probably the logic for that one) and Iron Man and Thor are there in their secret identities.
Stinger plans on attacking the Avengers on their way home, since they're usually a little sloppy by that point. No, because "They'll believe the danger has passed!"

The two passengers arrive at the museum, as a museum-type is dropping some exposition about the exhibit on Wanda. Actually, he's probably trying to work up the nerve to suggest she stop by for a drink, and bring her 'toy husband;' but thankfully trenchcoat guy attacks.

(In the Marvel U, trenchcoats are 100% disposable. No one has ever worn one twice, as it's either thrown off to dramatically reveal the costume underneath, or shredded as the hero 'Hulks out.' Conversely, anyone wearing a trenchcoat is completely disguised, regardless of unusual costuming, build, or goddamn giant beak.)

Yes, the Bloodhawk makes his triumphant debut, throwing around museum patrons on his way to retrieve "He who protects!" Honestly, for the time, it's not too bad of a design, except for his chest, which is horrible. Reminds me of the six-breasted dancer from Jabba's palace.

Wasp (who had to shrink down to a bra-panties combo) and Yellowjacket (who covers more skin then an Amish woman) attack first and are swatted away. When Scarlet Witch starts with the hexes, Bloodhawk summons pigeons to help. Look, if there were better birds around, I'm sure he would've got those, but you try and find a giant condor in NYC. On a weeknight.

Bloodhawk is a mouthy foe, as well, telling the Vision to "Spare me your impotent whinings!" Try using that the next time you go to the kid's basketball game.

Bloodhawk actually does pretty well for a minute, but his companion Teacher knows "The Madness has come!" Not 'One Step Beyond' either, Bloodhawk is getting crazier; but by now Thor and Iron Man have shown up to take him down. Teacher tells the Avengers that they came from the island Muara for the totem "He Who Protects." After the fight and the damage, the museum is happy to let the Avengers take the totem, Bloodhawk, and Teacher back to Avengers Mansion to continue the discussion there. Outside, Stinger decides to hold off on his attack. As most of the Avengers fly home, Wanda can be seen running in her evening dress.

Teacher starts the exposition with Bloodhawk's origin: his father was a geneticist...and we can stop right there, because no one in the Marvel Universe even remotely connected to a geneticist has turned out well. Spider-Woman's dad, the High Evolutionary, Arnim Zola, Mr. Sinister: 'geneticist' is Marvel U. shorthand for 'will experiment on whoever's handy.' Bloodhawk didn't even have to be the kid, he could have been the geneticist's paperboy...anyway, they need the totem to protect their island.

At the kitchen door, Jarvis answers a knock, wondering if Black Panther is returning...what, he uses the kitchen entrance? King of an African country can't use the front door? Oooh, boy. Stinger sneaks through invisibly, and security's seeming a little lax today. The Avengers are about to vote on this Bloodhawk business, and Wonder Man and Beast have quietly joined the meeting. Where they were, I can't say, nor why they weren't at the museum. Let's say...drunk. Hey, it's probably the most polite answer a blogger would give there. The vote goes 5 for, 3 against giving them the totem and helping out. Upon losing, Iron Man declares the matter "Ridiculous!" and boot-jets away in a huff.

Thor, Beast, and Vision end up taking Bloodhawk and Teacher in a quinjet. After they leave, Stinger takes down Wasp, Yellowjacket, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, and Jarvis with his sting and his shock. In nine total panels. Jarvis lasts three, which indicates it took longer to beat him then Black Panther or Wonder Man.

The issue ends with the quinjet arriving at Muara just in time to see a giant stone Monolith rise out of the water and lurch to shore. For some reason, what appears to be a ladder falls off the Monolith's head, like kids had been using the inactive monster as a diving board.

That brings us to Avengers #180, the oddly named "Berzerker's Holiday" written by Tom Defalco, pencils by Jim Mooney, inks by Mike Esposito. It starts right where we left off, and Vision and Thor start fighting the big stone monster that I still think looks like a tiki head. Maybe. If you squint, or had a bright orange stone tiki. Bloodhawk freaks out again, steals the totem and takes off. Nowadays, we'd say he had anger management or impulse control issues, back then he just had the madness. Beast goes after him.

Meanwhile, although apparently a day has passed, Iron Man is returning to the mansion, wondering what could be keeping the team that left to the island. Stinger shocks him, explaining his weapon "was designed to penetrate even your armor!" Oh, well, if it was designed to, then sure.

Back at the island, Vision tries that trick where he flies up, makes himself "Diamond hard and immeasurably heavy!" and drops on the monolith, who promptly swats him into orbit. Vision, that trick's worked like once, and it was cool and all, but again, once. Bloodhawk is flying around with the totem, which I think we see for the first time here, and it looks like a manhole cover, or giant quarter. Beast wrestles it away from him, and gets back to Thor, who is being stepped on by the monolith. Thor throws Mjolnir with Beast holding the handle, lifting him to the monolith's head, where he replaces the totem like a coin in a slot. Interesting design choice, monolith. Thor refers to it as "blackest sorcery indeed!" but it got the giant rock monster off of you, didn't it? Returned to lifeless stone, the monolith is then sent via Mjolnir to "the farthest reaches of our galaxy!"

After yet another alien invasion repelled, Bloodhawk is now sane enough to snippily point out there wouldn't have been any trouble if the totem hadn't been removed in the first place. Beast finally lets him have it, pointing out a lot of mutants have it worse. Well, at least that's what he heard. He offers to take Bloodhawk to the X-Men for help, which is both really thoughtful and thoughtless: sure, Professor X might be able to help, but Bloodhawk is going to be the fugliest student there until the Grant Morrison run. That'll help the self esteem and rage issues.

"Meanwhile, at Avengers' Mansion" the Stinger has six captured Avengers chained to the the bondage room, apparently. Let's see, Iron Man and Wonder Man should be strong enough to break their chains, Yellowjacket and Wasp could shrink out, Scarlet Witch could use her hex power, and I guess Black Panther would get loose just by virtue of being the Black Panther. So the Avengers have a room specifically for hanging more than two super-strong or otherwise powered people up, because Stinger couldn't have brought and mounted the cuffs himself, and the wall is a nice unfurnished or decorated white, and looks clean. Who wants to be chained to a dirty, rough wall? Yeah, let's move on.

Stinger's motivation turns out to be merely cash, as he plans to auction off the captured Avengers with starting bids of a million each. Ahead of his time, that one. Probably stick you on the postage, though. He admits to being a speculator, and wrecking the comics Oh, fine: he's mad that playing by the rules never got him rich: "Men like Nixon became rich and powerful, while I struggled with the mortgage payments for my house!" That, and that all his Valiant backstock is now worthless...

Stinger sold everything to buy his weapons from the Tinkerer, and I hope it was spendy, because for being made by the genius that brought us the Big Wheel, these were actually pretty effective. When Vision and Beast arrive, they are knocked out just as fast as the rest of the team, but then Thor hits Stinger in the back with his hammer, which probably should have at least put him in a wheelchair. Thor says he restrained his anger, giving Stinger time to go invisible and crank up the setting on his shocker. Bloodhawk goes to help, and takes the hit meant for Thor.

Sensing that events are about to turn on him, or that it's the second-to-last page, Stinger invisibly makes a break for it; but Beast's "handy mutant metabolism," i.e. the secret healing factor every mutant has when the story needs it; had already woke him up to free the others. Thor creates a storm in the mansion, and the rather embarrassed Avengers beat the tar out of Stinger for bushwhacking them.

Bloodhawk, however, is no more, "The vibratory intensity intended for Thor was far too much for his avian body!" He dies in Teacher's arms, as Beast looks on in respect, and the rest of the Avengers leave for brunch or to sleep this one off. That's cold, man. Cold. Or, I suppose they could be leaving en masse to go to the bathroom after being chained up for 24 hours.

Yeah, tragic. Anyway, Jarvis has brunch ready, so...

I'm usually all for compressed tales like this, because I don't think anyone wants to see the sad tale of Bloodhawk as a twelve part epic (and three parts late...) but this one could maybe have used another issue. Check out the Grand Comics Database, though: these issues, and a Beast fill-in, fell between the Korvac saga and Byrne's start (restart?). Those are remembered to this day. Bloodhawk and Stinger? Not so much. Also, Bloodhawk just happened to live on an island that had a giant stone monolith?

Read more!

Saturday, September 23, 2006

At Marvel, being dead isn't that bad...

Good hours, lots of time to catch up on...reading, and Gwen Stacy's fair game after that Norman Osborn thing. Hawkeye's kind of hoping his boots are back in style when he comes back, and totally avoiding his wife, since he knows he's back in the game soon.

I'm only keeping up with New Avengers in passing, but maybe someone can explain why Hawkeye, dead or alive or back or not, is seemingly so pissed at the team. After all, he did get his own damn self killed without any help from the Avengers. Maybe they didn't put his statue in the park, or they put it behind Mantis or the Forgotten One...

From Avengers #189, "Wings and Arrows" Written by Steven Grant, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Dan Green. More Avengers all next week, unless something shiny grabs my attention. Read more!

Friday, September 22, 2006

How do I keep finding these?
In honor of the new Civil War, more of Tony Stark defending his secret identity, at all costs. Blue blazes, if I'm not careful, 'panels where Tony rebuts super-hero registration' could become my 'panels where Hal Jordan gets hit in the head.' Hmm. I don't want to make this my life's (blog's) mission, but I keep finding them. In maintaining the fiction 'Iron Man is my bodyguard, although we're never seen together,' Tony used to go to extremes that wouldn't have been out of place in a Golden Age DC Comic.

From "Here lies Hidden...the Unspeakable Ultimo!" Written by Stan Lee, pencilled by Adam Austin, inked by Gary Michaels. Reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes! #29. Happy Hogun is recovering from mutating into the Freak, but he's also lying down on the clock, so Tony's giving him a friendly little slap. Recover from trauma on your own time! Read more!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Oh, my, no, children: Thor is awesome. You kids suck.

Seriously, I doubt if there will even be jobs for you at the Nordheim 7-11. And I was talking with one of the Norns the other day, and Timmy's destiny is to be crushed by a frost giant a week from Tuesday. Wait, maybe she said Volstagg. No, definitely a frost giant. Yes. So, anyway, Timmy, you can still take the final, but I'm not grading it...

Asgardians apparently don't go in for that self-esteem training. From Thor #318, "A Kingdom Lost" Written by Doug Moench, art by Gil Kane. The cover features Easter Island-style stone heads growing stubby little legs and about to attack Thor. A goofy image, but there's Loki, Fafnir, and angry stone heads in this one. Maybe not the best Thor comic ever, but it has it's moments.

Anyway, since everything is crammed back into my basement right now, posts will tend to reflect the books that I can reach right now, which may mean more runs of the same characters. What will it be after Thor? Well, I did read a ton of old Avengers recently, so maybe that. Or maybe something else. Read more!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Robin, I know rejection can be difficult to deal with...
You might lash out, or become verbally abusive to those who don't deserve it...

But just be careful not to move too quickly into something you might regret...

Oh, sure Robin: there's probably no clubs, raves, loft parties, or anything like that in Gotham, I'm sure you and Mr. Purple Shirt will have lots of fun at the barn dance. I don't think they need 'psychedelic lighting' either, 'cause the angle of that roof is freaking me out here...

The first two panels are from Batman #330, "Target!" Written by Marv Wolfman, art by Irv Novick and Vince Colletta. Robin's come back from wasting umpteen years at college, and is having trouble working with Batman again. Batman's got his own problems though, as a condemned mobster has put a ten million bounty on his head, if carried out before the mobster is executed. Talia guests, mostly just to run up the tension between Batman and Robin.

The last one is from Super-Team Family #1 and a reprinted Teen Titans story, "Stepping Stones for a Giant Killer!" Written by Mike Friedrich, art by Gil Kane and Wally Wood. Read more!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fairly warned, be thee, says I: it's Talk Like a Pirate Day again! Linked from Comics Oughta Be Fun! Man, Talk Like a Viking Day is never going to take off, is it? Sod, Sleestak of That's My Skull beat me to the viking joke!

Wait, 'sod' isn't pirate talk, either. In sooth, I am more versed in fake-Thor speak. And I don't want to get bogged down in the spelling of 'yar.' (I prefer a simple 'Arr.') And I'm a little disappointed, as I had thought this was later in the year, and I had some other piratey nonsense planned. Well, I suppose pirates don't care if it's their day or not, so it'll keep.

These panels are from a Hostess Ad from Action Comics#488. If you see more scarily garbed pirates, you are a damned liar.

Read more!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Thor Writing Challenge: Sif!
Although it's probably not the biggest (or best!) supporting cast in comics, Thor often had a memorable ensemble of supporting characters, including Beta Ray Bill, Hercules, the Enchantress, and the Warriors Three. I know J. Michael Straczynski probably has the first year of Thor all plotted out and everything, the settings, the characters, and so forth; and I'm not even sure he plans on using her, but here's a challenge for him: Make Sif interesting. If possible.

That could be a tall order. Even Walt Simonson seemed to have a rough time of it, as Hildy, Volstagg's daughter, has more memorable moments in his run. Sif has been Thor's girlfriend/fiance/platonic-comrade-in-arms at various times in the book's run, and often falls victim to the 'show, don't tell' rule. I don't know how many times I've seen her referred to as Thor's 'beloved' or 'betrothed' or 'beknighted' or whatever. But they don't seem to act like a couple. Like, ever. Although, I suppose if a couple had been together since before the dark ages, they very well might not be super demonstrative.

She's also often referred to as one of Asgard's mightiest warriors...for a girl. Sif fights like all hell to be the equal of those she stands with, and...wait, strike that: Sif fights like all hell to be considered the equal of those she stands with. She doesn't seem to have the special status or powers like Thor or Balder, and is often, again, referred to as the cream of the Asgardian crop. But in actual practice, and especially in the older issues; her role in battle is, be ignored until someone underestimates her as 'the girl,' then Sif clobbers him.

Ideally, Sif helps the narrative by creating a dramatic choice for Thor: should he stay in Asgard with his beloved (and his dad, who can't run the place for five minutes without going into the 'Odinsleep') or return to earth, which he loves and which needs him and where most of his comics start? The problem is, Thor always chooses earth, leaving Sif waiting, which she does, until the next run of Thor stories in Asgard. (There have been brief stretches where Sif leaves Asgard with Thor, and flops around like a fish out of water on earth.) There's never any drama to it, since we know full well Thor will be back on earth and kicking ass with the Avengers before too long (unless someone jacks that up, but that's another post), and Sif will be waiting in Asgard with bated breath. Which makes her a bit of a doormat.

Simonson tried to pull an end run around that, by having Sif interested in Beta Ray Bill, a hero as noble and worthy as Thor; except he looked like a horse. Or an orange guy with no ears. But, she was kind of drifting back towards Thor towards the end of his run anyway. Then came Defalco's run, not my favorite, although looking back the replacement Thor wasn't so bad until they saddled him with 'Thunderstrike' and a dangley lightning bolt earring. Meh, maybe not. But Sif was kind-of, sort-of, then not-at-all interested in Eric, and he's getting the brushoff in one of the panels here. (This was also one of those times where Thor and Sif are engaged, but nothing seems to come of it, as far as I know.)

All right, enough grousing about Sif's role (or lack of same) in the past: going forward, how would you make Sif a character worth reading about, instead of a cardboard cutout labelled 'love interest'? I would start by dropping the 'fish' business: Sif has been to earth a bunch of times, she's used to it by now. She doesn't have the same love of earth or it's primitive, stupid inhabitants that Thor does; but she knows how it works. Sif would also not have a secret identity. She knows who she is, and doesn't need or care to cover for anyone else.

Maybe that's why Thor was never able to sell her on staying on earth, because Thor has to be Dr. Blake or whoever, and couldn't have Sif, mighty warrior goddess seen with him. So, she'd have to dress up and pretend to be a nurse, or a mere girl. Kind of demeaning, put like that, and it doesn't sound like as much fun as putting her up at Avengers Mansion, and sending her out on missions. Sif doesn't have, or need, or want, the kind of emotional connection to humanity that would require her to 'Clark Kent' her light under a bushel. But kicking the snot out of Ultron? Try to hold her back. Sif might even be a better Avenger than Thor, since she's full-time, not off 'playing doctor' or whatever Thor does in his off-time.

Short-term, it would also be fun to see Thor react to a newly available Sif. Hercules would hit on her just because he's Hercules and it's his job, and I previously thought it might be a good idea to avoid "Thor's greatest hits," so we would have to see where that went without the traditional Thor-Herc brawl. Actually, I don't think Thor would be uncool to anyone who treated Sif with the proper respect. They would be like an old couple, two people who knew just about everything there was to know about each other, but that aren't together now. Then their relationship could move from there, maybe back together, maybe not.

One last thing? She needs a new costume. Or her Simonson number back. I'm not 100% sure these were the worst costumes she ever had... Read more!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

From April 1991, this might as well be from last week.

From Daredevil #291, written by Ann Nocenti, pencilled by Lee Weeks, and inked by Fred Fredericks. Yeah, I don't think I have anything funny to say about this one. Except that the kid, while having many valid points, comes across as such a paranoid whiner that I just want to shake him and scream "USA! USA!" in his face... Read more!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Where does he get such wonderful toys? From the stockholders.

In Batman Begins, Lucius Fox starts out as more of an R&D guy then the business manager he is in the comics. The equipment that would become Bat-stuff is more experimental, and had already been shelved, as they weren't items that would be profitable to mass produce. Bruce taking them would be roughly equivalent to Steve Jobs going down and taking a beta version of last year's iPod for his personal use; or, rather than an iPod, an item that ended up not being made public, like the iWave personal microwave oven.

In the comics, however, Bruce is stealing from his company. A lot. I'm not sure how much of Wayne Industries or WayneTech or WayneBurger is publicly owned, but if I was a stockholder, even if the returns were great, I'd at least be curious about a missing hundred million dollars. I wonder if Bill Gates or Donald Trump ever get reports like that. Except, they wouldn't have to worry about their secret identities, so if an underling brought up the missing cash, they could just explain that it's for their drill to the center of the earth, or new hair, or whatever. Bruce has to play it off like he's a worthless ponce that just doesn't care.

(Don't try to tell me Gates or Trump could have secret id's: Iron Man's mask could never cover Trump's hair. Although, the hair's probably better protection.)

Some of the stolen items work in the context of Batman as Gotham's protector, but not as well for Batman as Justice Leaguer. Grant Morrison had Batman pulling out all kinds of science in JLA, like his homemade transport tube, or the "Sci-Fi Closet." It makes sense: if Batman had access to New God/Thanagarian/Rann technology, he would totally use it. The trouble is, that way lies Brother Eye...

One of the stolen items was a leased crane, so Batman didn't even steal that one directly. I think he needed it for use with the "subway rocket" Az-Bats got a lot of use out of, sort of a Batmobile that used the tunnels. Fair enough, but did you need to keep it? Saving it in case you decide the giant penny would look better on the other side of the Batcave?

(Aside: Did he get the penny back? There was a story with Aquaman not really helping him in recovering it after the Bat-quake. Bat-quake. Yeah, they actually advertised it as that, I swear. And I did find and flip through that Aquaman story: I could've sworn that penny was heavier than 219 pounds.)

What does that kind of loss do inside of a business? Do the people responsible for tracking it down get fired every year, when another jet turbine or skates that pop out of boots or uniform-concealed taser disappears without a trace? (I know Batman doesn't steal every item he uses, a ton more is probably bought through dummy corporations, like the movie again. But it's fun to harp on a point!) Is Lucious in accounting every day, demanding answers, while Bruce plays dumb and pretends to work on his golf swing?

So, it looks like the next villain in the next big Bat-crossover is going to be the Securities and Exchange Commission...

From Batman: Secret Files and Origins #1, "Lost Pages: How Batman gets his equipment" Written by Chuck Dixon, pencilled by Jim Aparo, inks by Tom Palmer.

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

I guess Super-Sarcasm is a power now, then.

Since when this comic was made, about the only behind the scenes knowledge anyone had about TV news was probably from the Mary Tyler Moore show; so maybe it didn't seem unusual for Clark to routinely ditch in the middle of a broadcast, whether it was interrupted or not. What am I saying? If your town had a local news anchor that routinely ditched out at the start of sports, mumbling something about a microwave pizza he left on, or hookers waiting on the clock; the networks would probably promote them to national. For all I know, Fox News has a dozen guys that do just that, all with their own conservative book deal.

Although, it does seem Clark has driven his producer/director past the point of hiding his drug habit.

Short one today, I'm tired. More fun tomorrow!

Action Comics #488, "Superman Battles Microwave Man!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Frank Chiaramonte. Read more!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Trash everywhere, punks roaming the streets freely, handy bricks and blunt instruments in the streets...great Rao, it's that Challengers of the Unknown/Double Dragon crossover l wanted! Awesome! From Adventures of Superman #508, "The Future is Now!" Written by Karl Kesel, pencils by Barry Kitson, inks by Ray McCarthy.

Karl Kesel is cool, yet often seems to get the shaft: he's also done some Fantastic Four stuff that really shone, just nailing the way they worked as a family. He also did a short run of Daredevil that was leaning more towards the old Stan Lee party-funtime DD, less the brooding-in-the-graveyard Frank Miller version. Over at DC, he did a ton of the new Superboy stories, even some with Hypertime, both of which are never to be spoken of again in the new continuity.

Unfortunately, while he tells interesting stories in a timely fashion, it seems like Kesel is often called in when time is tight, than replaced but another "hot" writer, or rotated out on editorial changes. Disappointing, but he still gets the job done when he comes in. And he loves him some Challengers of the Unknown, having done more than a couple of guest spots, one-shots, and the Amalgam Challengers of the Fantastic.

Somewhere in blogville, somebody was talking about what a great idea the Challengers are, and how it would translate pretty well to movies or TV. And it probably would've, too, if so much of it hadn't already been stolen/appropriated/'homaged'. Their origin, four strangers who meet after walking away from a plane crash, probably wasn't completely new at the time, but would be hard to do now, as new audiences would scream "Lost rip-off!" and leave before the credits started.

There have been several different incarnations or interpretations of the Challs, and while I enjoyed what I saw of the 90's X-Files-style version, it usually comes back to the Kirby jumpsuit guys, and often leaves them in the 50's or 60's. That's OK: they were of their time, and I like the idea of a different era of heroes at DC. (Post JSA, pre-JLA.) And they'll be back: one of the great things about comics, is that characters can turn up whenever and wherever, and you don't have to worry about the actors getting all old, cranky, or dead.

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

This would be almost a "F### Yeah!" moment, except Thor's syntax is a bit unclear there. Read it out loud at work, and you'll see!

Also, the way the last panel is lined up at crotch level, I really hope that when Thor talks about his three hammers, he just means his fists and Mjolnir...

This was right before Roy Thomas started a bunch of business with the High Evolutionary, and the Godpack. And Thor's new costume. Yeah, there's more than one reason everyone always brings up Walt Simonson's Thor run: not only was it a great batch of comics, it's pretty much the best Thor was or ever has been. Even when it was good afterwards, it paled in comparison. And the Godpack? Not so good.

Newsarama had a piece on J.Michael Straczynski taking over Thor, and while some of his recent work hasn't done it for me, some of his ideas here sound interesting. Maybe the way to bring back some of the grandeur and magic of his book is by not doing any of the usual stories for Thor: no fight with Hercules, or the Hulk, or even Loki. (No matter how much we like them!) Keep Thor out of Asgard, the Avengers, space, and mythology. (Don't forget his background in those, though, just don't keep coming back to them for plots!) I don't know if I'd put Thor in Oklahoma, though.

Why not Monte Carlo? For some reason, the idea of Thor trying to do the spy thing appeals to me. Back in Mark Waid's run on Captain America, there was an issue where Cap brings Thor in to smash some Hydra goons, which is just mean, to be honest. The point is, it might not be a bad idea to see Thor outside his usual milieu (ooh, fancy!) but still see that he's Thor there too.

JMS, I'll give you two issues. Better wow me. And Thor being turned into a frog? Probably his finest hour. Believe it.

From Thor Annual #19, "The Flame and the Lightning" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Jerry DeCaire, inks by Romeo Tanghal.

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Monday, September 11, 2006

Riddler's probably made the right choice here: Batman will at worst smack him around a bit and cuff him. The Creeper could leave him wrapped in saran wrap and fish oil, with a bright pink bow and the name 'Susan' tattooed on the back of his neck. There's no telling.

Some bloggers have been a little disappointed in the new Creeper series, and I have to admit, I thought the first issue was only ok. I should keep better track of this, but someone (possibly over at Savage Critic?) was disappointed that the old origin, where the Creeper outfit is made out of leftovers at a costume shop, so Jack Ryder could crash a mobster's costume party, was discarded; and he has a point there.

I personally liked the last Creeper series, which I think lasted like 11 issues, including Creeper #One Million, just to really mess up the numbering. Some of the Creeper's origin was altered slightly, under the notion that Jack probably didn't have that great a grip on reality even before he was pumped full of chemicals. But, the series does a good job of showing Jack and Creeper as two warring sides of a personality, trying to learn to live together. I think this was also the first time the Creeper's red boa, or whatever it is, was shown to be a part of him; in this case, weird little psuedopod things. (In the new series, it's a spiky mane of crazy hair.)

Incidentally, the Creeper comic was to coincide with his intro in the Batman cartoon, which was sharp as a tack: mutated and mental from a dip in the same chemicals that created the Joker (only stronger!), Jack/Creeper ransacks a boutique (Ditko's, I think!) for his 'costume': striped speedos and a boa. He asks a bored clerk, "Is this too much?"

"Not for you, baby."

In this particular issue, Jack is doing an interview at Arkham Asylum, of the Joker. Unconsciously, Creeper realizes something is up, and he and the Joker end up starting a riot and taking over the joint. As Batman shows up, Joker and Creeper turn on each other, choosing up teams of inmates ("Dibs on the guy with the face!") and brawling it out. Creeper reveals that he knew the Asylum was about to blow, but by instigating a riot, he prevented an escape. Batman tells him the next time he sees Creeper in Gotham, a room will be waiting at the asylum.

Makes me nostalgic for the old Brave and Bold days, when Batman would team up with a hero or heroine, and be cool about it. None of that 'my city, my way' business both Bats and Superman seem to have in spades now.

From the Creeper #7, "Madhouse" Written by Len Kaminski, pencils by Shawn Martinbrough, inks by Sal Buscema.

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Sunday, September 10, 2006

There's a lot of redesigns in What If? comics, and most of them just go to show why the original costume works. And, um, that's about it. Read more!

Huh. Looks like a Corona ad. I was going to load more from this page, with a Dr. Doom redesign that looked like liederhosen. I'll add that later.

Anyway, if the Happenstance was Random before, it's probably only going to be moreso from here on out. I lost about 500 comics to flooding: the waterproof stuff was on the other side of the room...still, plenty left, and most of my favorites made it OK. But, I was pretty disorganized before, and had to rebox and move everything out of the basement, so it's not exactly getting any more coherent.

Today, my father-in-law and I started on finishing the basement. With a lot of stuff either wrecked or moved, now seemed like as good a time as any. Unfortunately, most of today was spent dicking around with the nailgun. I'm not super-handy, but I can usually do OK if I have the right tools; otherwise it's like watching a determined but slightly retarded baboon try to start a fire by banging a tire iron and a can of WD-40 together...yeah, not good.

Anyway, I'll try to keep the posting up. More later.

From What If? Volume 2, #64: What if Iron Man Sold Out?

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Friday, September 08, 2006

I swear, I barely cut this page, but it looks like Johnny and Zarathos are like one panel away from the boniest kiss Marvel had ever seen...

This is from the last issue of this series of Ghost Rider, probably because after this scene it was a bit tense and awkward. I don't want to come down on it before it comes out, but would the Ghost Rider movie be better with or without a scene of Nic Cage making out with a CG flaming skull head? Place your bets!

From "The End of the Ghost Rider!" Script by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Bob Budiansky, inks by Dan Bulanadi and Kevin Dzubin. Ghost Rider #81, reprinted in the Original Ghost Rider Rides Again! #7. Sure, I lost like five Marvel Treasury Editions to biohazard water damage, yet I think I still have both of those issues downstairs.

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

If I heard anyone, doesn't matter if it's a pirate, ghost, pirate ghost, whatever; say from behind me that they were 'coming aboard,' I would run like all hell too.

From "The Sinister Lives of Captain Skull!," A Spectre story, story by Gardner Fox, art by Murphy Anderson. Reprinted in an Adventure Comics digest.

Short one today, since I'm still assessing the damage. My Toyfare collection took a pretty big hit, and an old box of Wizard took one for the team. I do remember cursing that Skrull Kill Krew was wrecked, but wasn't that a better idea than it was a comic, really? One of the Black Widow miniseries with Yelena, Blaze of Glory, some of my Static issues...Later I have to go back through my list and note the cover price of everything. We'll see what else was destroyed, and what I'm missing more than others.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

My skull! The helmet does nothing!

From Warlord #48, "Dragon of Ice" Written and illustrated by Mike Grell, inks by Vince Colletta. A fifty-cent issue, with a bonus Arak insert and the return of Claw.

One of the things that the Warlord comic used to do well, that probably couldn't be done as easily today with three-dollar comics, is have a larger quest-storyline, that could be sidetracked into little single-issue stories. (To be fair, this may just read better because I didn't have to wait a month between issues reading this.) In this issue, Travis Morgan and Shakira are trying to find his daughter Jenny, believed to be lost in the Land of Shadow.

On their way, they run across a village. Shakira declares, "Huts of mud and hearts of stone. About what you'd expect in a place where man gathers his numbers." Morgan defends the people, but Shakira points out that they're about to sacrifice a hot blonde to some pagan god or something. Judging from the looks of the villagers, if they're willing to give her up, the village's name is 'Sausagefest.'

In a righteous fury, Morgan caps the head priest, and smites a few of the villagers for good measure. The girl wakes up with a surprisingly comical expression, the dead priest slumped over her. Morgan declares that the girl is now under her protection, and Shakira just sits back smirking and lets the 'sacrifice' clock Morgan in the back of the head. She was a true believer, and regroups the villagers with Morgan lined up to be the new sacrifice to the 'ice dragon.'

Changing into her 'fur coat' cat-form, Shakira gets Morgan's pistol, and ventilates the girl, and some more villagers. Morgan asks how she learned how to do that, and she blows him off: "I've watched you often enough. It's not as hard as you'd have people believe." Freeing him, the remaining villagers flee, as the ice dragon arrives...preceded by the Arak insert. Hey, Ernie Colon art!

Seeing a large shape coming through the ocean fog, Morgan and Shakira are about to split too, but then they see the 'ice dragon' is a viking ship. "These men sailed north and were caught in a winter must have become trapped in a coastal current that kept it returning to this spot, time and again. And each time it came, through all those centuries, someone died here." Morgan overturns the altar, but Shakira points out that won't change anything.

Meanwhile, taken in by medieval butler Faaldren to a castle, Jenny has a creepy interlude involving a bath and a giant handprint...I mention this only because it ties back in to the larger quest, the visual is good and unsettling, and because in its later years, Warlord could on occasion have like four subplots running at once, leaving about ten pages for the main storyline. Worked about as well as you'd think.

So, what have we learned this issue?

A. Vikings are still adding to their death toll to this day, which is actually kind of impressive.

B. Gunplay is fun and easy! Try some today!

C. Saving a hot blonde from human sacrifice doesn't automatically mean you're going to score some nookie. In fact, she may even be in on the whole thing. Better let them sacrifice her, just to be safe.

(In other words, my basement flooded yesterday, and I had to sort out a lot of the damage today. Lots of my comics are in plastic tubs, and even more are on blocks or shelves off the ground, but a lot weren't. Who will blog about the Minx now?

No one. No one will.

More later this week. Wish me luck!)

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

08-28-2006 09;17;35PM, originally uploaded by googum.

Personal crisis today, involving flooding, fecal matter, and a locked bathroom to boot. Come back tomorrow!

From "The Fury of the Freak!" Written by Stan Lee, pencilled by Adam Austin, inked by Gary Michaels. Reprinted in Marvel Super-Heroes! #29.

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Monday, September 04, 2006

Oh, the aliens have about 90 other ways to wreck buildings: they just like the buzzsaw.

Well, it's at least thoughtful of the aliens to attack on a holiday, although it doesn't look good for the tiny cars there...the art in this one's great, but even by golden age standards, the science is just spirals in and catches fire going down. (For example, I'm pretty sure you can't walk on a white dwarf star.) And the buzzsaw's only in a few panels!

Anyway, have a happy holiday. More nonsense later.

From "Secret of the Flying Buzzsaw!" Story by Gardner Fox, art by Russ Heath, reprinted in Super DC Giant Presents Strange Flying Saucers Adventures #27. Whew!

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Sometimes, I wish I could pull out a list, like for Previews, of all the books that came out, say, December 1978; so I could see if, oh, Fantastic Four really was 'The World's Greatest Comic Magazine' for that month. I'm pretty sure World's Finest was often an exaggeration, though.

Today we've got World's Finest #254, "Whom Gods would Destroy!" Story by Bob Haney, art by George Tuska and Vince Colletta. The cover by Jim Aparo shows promise: Sinestro, perennial Green Lantern villain, blasting Superman with his power ring; while Supes exhorts a sweaty-looking Batman to "Wake up...or your nightmare of Sinestro destroying the world will come true!" And then inside, Batman is chasing down a Col. Sander's looking scientist, who babbles like a loon, and Batman blacks out.

This is what we call, 'coming down.' Try to relax.

Batman lies down for a little nappy-nap in what appears to be a cobblestone alley, with loose bricks. Urban renewal was a ways away, I guess. He dreams of Sinestro fighting Superman, which is:
A. Weird.
B. Weird, but not creepy weird, thank God.
C. Geez, I think I've dreamed that, after watching Super Friends and mainlining Quik. I miss college.
D. Probably a vacation, after dreaming about his parents' murders for like 30 years.

The scene shifts entirely to Superman, as Sinestro "has just sent every heavy plate glass window in every skyscraper in Metropolis, USA, tumbling down like a billion guillotines towards the throngs below!" And Superman tells himself, "Get off your Super-butt! Do something--!" I'm probably not qualified to judge, but is it a 'Super-butt'? I hope he refers to everything as super, from super-hands to, that's weird.

At super-speed, Supes smashes all the glass into powder...this is one of those things that Superman 'fixes,' and when I say 'fixes,' I mean 'doesn't outright destroy, but leaves in a seriously precarious state.' Several bloggers pointed out in Infinite Crisis, I believe Supes stops a building from tipping over and rights it, then leaves...leaves an assload of structural damage and shattered foundation. Yes, powdered glass would be safer than billions of razor-sharp shards, but...

Oh, sweet Jeebus. What could be better than powdered glass in your eyes? Why not let your kid play in it! Stick out your tongue and catch it! Officer 'Blazes' has a point: I think several tons of powdered glass would indeed keep the crooks at home for a while.

Sinestro seems confused here. After all, all the times he fought Green Lantern, GL never stopped him from destroying Coast City by destroying it first. He leaves in a Spaceman Spiff-looking rocket, presumably made by his power ring, but who knows at this point. Superman starts taking fistfuls of the 'glass snow,' zapping it with his heat vision, and replacing the windows. You might as well replace "glass snow" with "magic dust" or "lobster farts." Same difference.

Batman wakes up, figuring his 'vision of something crazy happening in Metropolis" up to fatigue. Look, Batman, I once was so hungover, I thought a Godzilla marathon on TNT was on CNN; and even that pales in comparison to this. You're not tired. Get help.

Before he can take in the babbling doctor, a carful of goons show up; but even a tired Batman can take out four or five armed thugs. But, as the chapter ends, a sniper takes aim at Batman's back, following orders to kill the doctor rather than lose him. He also plans on killing Batman, but wouldn't they be able to get the doctor back after shooting Batman? Well, when you have a gun already in hand, it probably wouldn't occur to you.

Oh, Great Rao, I'm only on page 8 of this one...sigh. The sniper fires twice, and Batman goes down, dropping the doctor. In the very next panel, Batman, carrying the doctor again, does a standing high jump of at least six feet straight up and over a fence. "Impossible!" exclaims the sniper, and I'm inclined to agree. Batman explains that he had been wearing a bulletproof vest under his costume: I'll grant him walking off being shot twice, since hey, it's Batman. But that jump, carrying another man and with bruised ribs...look, my suspension of disbelief is strong enough to accept two different kinds of aliens and the rest of the insanity in this story. It's not strong enough to do that carrying the doctor.

Letting that go: Batman takes the doctor back to his Batcave, the seventies one that was under the Wayne Foundation building. Hey, is that one still there? Out of nowhere, Batman thinks that it was risky to bring the doctor, Willard, here, since he
knows Batman and Bruce Wayne are the same man! And, right on top of that bombshell, Batman asks the doctor the whereabouts of the brain of Gorilla Boss Dyke! Willard says, aliens took it.

Now that's good crazy: if we had gotten All-Star Batman from Grant Morrison, we might be close to this territory.

And now comes the infodump: when criminal Boss Dyke was executed, Dr. Willard transplanted his brain into a gorilla, although the art isn't clear if it was normal-sized or giant. Dyke's plan was to capture Batman and steal his body, but he fell to his death, like all giant apes. Seriously. If my brain ended up in King Kong, Donkey Kong, whatever, I wouldn't even stand on top of a chair. This is footnoted to Batman #75, listed on GCD as February-March 1953. It may have been reprinted in one of those gorilla specials DC loves.

More recently, World's Finest#251 to be precise; in a plot involving chlorophyll-stealing aliens, Dyke's brain ended up in Batman's body briefly, before Batman was restored and "Willard escaped with the brain of Gorilla Boss." Well, if he's just a brain in a mason jar, he's not really 'Gorilla' Boss, is he? He's just plain old Boss Dyke. Heh, Boss Dyke in Batman's body. Yet another sentence you thought you'd never see, huh? And let the misdirected traffic roll on in...

Oh, hell with this. Let's go back to Sinestro vs. Superman for a minute. Sinestro is still wrecking Metropolis, and Superman thinks that he could use his 'unlimited willpower' (and 'super-modesty') to overwhelm Sinestro's beam, but that would cause even more destruction. Supes is forced to let up, giving the gloating Sinestro more opportunities for demolition, like cutting a bridge in half.

To save cars thrown into the water, Superman has to first "blow a giant bubble of super-breath", then he locks the cars' bumpers together into a chain that he drags to safety. That's like three panels of super-feats that make super-ventriloquism or super-kiss-make-Lois-forget seem completely reasonable in comparison. I don't know much about fluid dynamics, but I know even four cars welded together wouldn't hold up as a chain. Rrr. Let's go back to Batman.

Batman's right there with us, however: he has another blackout, and again sees Superman and Sinestro fighting. He uses a 'neuroserum' to get Willard coherent enough to talk: apparently tired of hiding out, Willard had taken Boss Dyke's brain for a walk in the park, and aliens stole it, doing a number on Willard's own brain in the process. What...why...ok, give me a second here: why did Willard have the brain with him? Well, maybe he didn't feel anyone else could be trusted with it, and he really needed that sunshine to combat his seasonal affective disorder. OK, but what did he keep the brain in? A baby carriage? A Saks Fifth Avenue bag? A turban on top of his own head?

Investigating the scene of the abduction, or would it be theft at this point? Batman, with Willard in tow, notices a bum with a newspaper over his face, and the headline "Metropolis Beseiged Sinestro Outpowers Superman" Maybe the other words or puncuation were too small or cut off. Bigger fish to fry here: Just like in All-Star Batman, events in Metropolis and Gotham City seem to occuring concurrently, yet with enough time for the print media to report on them.

Batman realizes his flashes are actually happening, just in time to get shot. Again. This time, by a guy on a merry-go-round, which would've been quite the coup, if the would-be killer hadn't just nicked Batman's shoulder, then gotten his skull cracked by a batarang. I think Batman broke out the heavy batarang for this guy, it looks about a foot across. I have no idea, how Batman would've made that throw, hitting a guy ducking down behind a horse (like a cowboy in a good western, the guy had skills!) on a moving carosel. Technically, I don't think we see the carosel is moving, but we don't see a lot of background, and we've only seen four people in this park at all. (That would be Batman, Willard, the bum with the newspaper, and the gunman.)

Batman checks the scorch marks of the 'aliens,' and they show as pure yellow on the spectrum analysis. Uh, all right...he realizes Sinestro staged the aliens with his ring, to confuse the issue. Batman realizes Boss Dyke's brain is connected with the fights in Metropolis, and since that brain was once in Batman's head, residual cells must be causing the flashes.

Back in Metropolis, Sinestro releases radioactive steam from a nuclear plant, which Supes then has to eat; then creates a yellow shield over the city that even Superman couldn't penetrate...and maybe a DC historian could tell me what the hell Green Lantern was up to this month. Batman contacts Superman and sends him into space.

Batman somehow uses his residual-link to give directions ("") and Supes finds Boss Dyke's brain, which Sinestro has enlarged to planet-size, to use as a "reservoir of will to draw on...!"

Despite being forsworn from taking life, Superman treats the brain like a tumor, and x-rays it to death. Then, he punches Sinestro's ass back to the anti-matter dimension of Qward, which isn't an explosion of positive and negative matter, but more of an inconvenience for him by now.

Superman is glad to have the usual problems back again, and Batman notes that with Willard hopelessly insane (but luckily not scarred, which means he won't escape Arkham) and Boss Dyke's brain destroyed, "Superman and I had our hands full on this amazing adventure, but we never even met!" Take that, Seven Soldiers!

Holy hell, there's at least eighteen kinds of crazy in that story. But, there is some charm to it. Where else but in comics, can a mob boss have a story arc that goes from brain-transplanted-into-gorilla, to pawn-in-alien-chrorophyll-theft to brain-grown-to-planet-size-used-as-will-battery? Nowhere, that's where. And everything is summed up nicely, so even if you didn't have all the back issues, or experience with DC's gorilla fixation, they brought you up to speed.

Plus, I bought this issue for a quarter, yet I had to devote several hours to posting about it. And that's just the opening story, there's four other features in there, including Green Arrow blowing up the Arrowcar, and a Ditko Creeper tale. Can't say I didn't get my money's worth.
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Friday, September 01, 2006

Because...Chris Claremont demanded it, apparently; the matchup you never thought you would ever think about possibly maybe seeing: Sue Richards, the Invisible Woman, sparring with Iron Fist. I think this scene was intended to show that Sue is a strong, not-to-be-taken lightly woman, a tough mother. And she is using some of her forcefield powers, to create an invisible bo staff to beat Danny with.

Shortly after this scene, Danny unleashes the Iron Fist on Sue, a punch that could probably knock over my house, knocking her across a room. Using her forcefield, Sue quite literally laughs it off, as a wild ride. Yeah, because if someone took a swipe at me that could've reduced me to a red smear, but missed, that would all be in good fun.

Now, I'm not a kung-fu master (gasp!) but it seems to me, if your sensei or instructor or master can teach you enough to kick his ass in a couple weeks; he's either the best teacher ever, or a bit crap himself. This scene wasn't a bad idea: Sue training herself to be prepared for any situation she might face as a member of the Fantastic Four, that would be a reasonable precaution. (Although, using her force-field powers in such a situation seems like a cheat: would you need to fight someone hand-to-hand, if you could put a forcefield around them? Shouldn't she train without her powers?) Sue getting the skills to slap Iron Fist, probably the number two martial artist in the Marvel Universe? That seems unreasonable, and it makes Fist look like a goober.

Moreover, I'm not the biggest Iron Fist fan ever, but I don't think he would've used "the ultimate expression of his fighting skills," or whatever purple prose is attached to his Iron Fist technique, in a sparring match, with a student. Maybe Sue kept making fun of his slippers, or his sash.

And Danny's sash trails out like four or five feet, at least, in that shot. It wouldn't just be a hazard in combat, he could be killed by an escalator.

I cut it off there, but it looks like She-Hulk, Misty Knight, and Power Man all turned out to check out Fist getting his ass handed to him. And people wonder why he wasn't in the New Avengers.

Chris Claremont (Script), Salvador Larroca (Pencils), Art Thibert (Inks), "April is the Cruelest Month" Fantastic Four #6. (1998)

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