Thursday, November 30, 2006

You could tell Conan about pants. Go ahead. I'll be over here.
It's a winter wanton wonderland!

I grew up in northern Montana, where it's windy, cold, and generally depressing maybe nine months out of the year. (Maybe not, but close.) Although I don't like winter, or do any winter sports; usually it didn't bother me. In fact, most of the time, I wear shorts. Yeah, I'm that guy.

Now I don't live in Montana anymore, but it's currently 20 degrees here, and I'm wearing about three layers of clothing. And gloves. Not sharp leather gloves, like a businessman or Hannibal Smith or Batman would wear; but ugly green ones that look like a little kid's. My son said they smell like my feet, which is a plus.

I feel old. I used to be able to run the streets of my hometown in December in aquasocks, sprinting through the snow to get to Safeway during lunch to buy twinkies and Savage Sword of Conan. I used to be able to wear a hockey jersey and shorts any given winter day, whether I was staying in, going out, or drunk in a ditch. In fact, I was bitching about it earlier, and my wife pointed out that when she met me, I did wear exactly that. Now I have to wear a fleece thing all day, make the dog lie on my feet during dinner, and sleep in my socks. Death is coming.

Today's panels are from Conan the Barbarian #16, reprinted in Conan Saga #6, "The Frost Giant's Daughter" Based on the Robert E. Howard story, written by Roy Thomas, art by Barry (Windsor) Smith. Did any people in history, ever, roam the snowy hinterlands in just loincloths, with maybe a fur over their shoulders if it was nippy? Or is that just Conan? Read more!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

When considering prospective lackeys, Doom has no need for the 'uggos.'
The choice does seem kinda obvious, doesn't it.

Although most would probably single out hubris as Dr. Doom's fatal flaw, that's only part of it. Doom can't accept that anyone could be his better, true; but he doesn't see anyone as an equal either. There's Doom, and then there's his lackeys. Even those that don't yet know their fate as lackeys will learn under his firm guidance...and I really don't like that sentence. Ah, moving on.

So, I don't know or remember all of Lancer's story: she's the surprised looking woman above with Doom. I'm pretty sure she's a Chris Claremont creation: uber-competent female, with mutant powers, burdening sense of honor, crazy-long fingernails...sounds kinda familiar, doesn't it? Completely loyal to the missing Doom, she spends this series holding Doom's Baxter Building against invaders including a fake Doom, a corps of Iron Men, and the Atlantean army. The last was led by Byraah, so it's not that impressive. Did Attuma call in sick?

But, even though Lancer is strong, fiercely devoted, and resourceful; Doom is simply incapable of seeing her as anything other than a tool. A resource to be used, and if necessary, used up. This is why Doom will always fail: Reed is (or was) able to have equals, teammates, who will fight beside him and never surrender, and in turn Reed would never quit on them. (Insert Civil War snark here.) Even though Lancer would fight for Doom just as hard as Sue or Ben or Johnny would fight for Reed; it's a lot harder to picture a situation where Doom would do the same for her. And Lancer's like the one good henchman Doom's had in, well, about ever.

I do recall Lancer also making an appearance in an X-Men/Dr. Doom novel; where Doom has again altered reality to make himself Emperor of earth, then found the victory hollow, and lost it again as the status quo resets. I'll be honest here: it is a plot I like, even if I know I've seen it five times off the top of my head. (Counting here, and Doom's Counter Earth; similar stories have been Emperor Doom, the Heroes Reborn/Wildstorm Universe mashup, and the first Secret Wars. Probably more if you think about it!)

'Does not explain'? Come on, Doom, that's all you do!

Yeah, that's a lie: Doom is all about having the upper hand, and taking that moment to explain to the lackeys how frickin' brilliant he is; and we all know where that leads...

From Doom #3, "Fight Back to Baxter" Written by Chuck Dixon, art by Leonardo Manco. You may remember Manco's gritty, textured art from Hellstrom, Druid, and I believe the Werewolf by Night revival from a few years back. He also did the sequel to this series, but I like this one better. Need to look up what he's up to know... Read more!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

"...staring out at us with his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes, so help me God, yellow eyes!
You know, I would like a Dr. Doom hoodie. I'm cold.

When I saw this panel, I had to break out A Christmas Story a little earlier than I usually watch it. Unless Doom is delivering his closer to an oncoming car, I really don't know why his eyes would glow like that. Still, since Doom is cooler in this than he had been for some time, we'll let that go. From Doom #1, "Doom without Armor" Written by Chuck Dixon, art by Leonardo Manco.

The issue opens with Doom waking up naked--no mask, no armor, no green cloak and riding hood--in Africa. But not his Africa, the Africa of the Heroes Reborn stories, created by Franklin Richards and orbiting the opposite side of the sun from earth. It's sometimes referred to as Planet Doom, or Counter-Earth; but the later may just be confusing Franklin's duplicate earth with the one the High Evolutionary created, from 70's Warlock and Hulk stories.

Leaving that aside, Dixon wastes no time letting you know Doom is hardcore, as buck-naked and unarmed, he kills a lion in three pages. (Five panels!) So begins Doom's journey back to his Baxter Building, from which he can return to the real Earth, and finish kicking the stuffing out of the Fantastic Four. At least that's how it reads: with Doom as the protagonist, and most of the people he mows down being if not more evil, a less classy evil; you start to think Doom is on his way to finally beating the FF. All he needs is to maintain control of the narration...

The lionskin mask has to be more comfy than his usual metal job. One thing I've wondered: is Doom's mask like Iron Man's, full of sensors and displays and oxygen and so on? Or is it just a metal faceplate, like the old Kirby version? Dixon is taking the 'Doom is a scarred, ugly bastard' approach; and while I usually prefer the 'Doom is barely scarred...on the outside' tack, it's a valid look. At this point, Doom has been reborn, transplanted into a new body, or rebooted so many times; there's no telling.

I also like that Doom kills six slaver/post-apocalypse biker types, without his armor, spells, Doombots, etc. Tony Stark would have had a lot harder time of it, and I can't see him getting past the lion without having to build a trap or a deadfall or catapult to kill it. But, more on von Doom tomorrow, as we look at the Grover Dill to his Scott Farkus. Read more!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thank you, Dave.
I totally wish Nightcrawler was still written like this.  Ultimate Nightcrawler too.

As reported on Newsarama and other sources, Dave Cockrum, longtime artist for Uncanny X-Men and Legion of Super-Heroes, passed away from complications from diabetes the morning of November 26. He was 63.

Although he created other X-characters, Cockrum was the creator of Nightcrawler, my favorite comic character. For the record, I still totally prefer his version, a happy-go-lucky swashbuckler with a penchant for old adventure movies and fun. Uncanny X-Men #149 was probably the first or second X-Men comic I ever read, and that was one of his too.

It's funny, but over Thanksgiving I was reading some old Legion: Grell issues, not Cockrum's. But I was thinking about when I was really little, my family would go into northern Montana to have Thanksgiving with my mom's cousins and family. (Forgive me for not saying exactly where!) And every year, I would read my older cousins' comics like mad: old Superman and Superboy and the Legion issues, comics that charitably were in 'good' condition, but would be the way I would want to read comics for the rest of my life: unbagged, colorful, exciting, and new.

So, I spent a good chunk of my morning (after seeing the news via the Fortress of Fortitude) wondering if I had been reading Cockrum's comics before I even knew it. Thank you, Dave.

From Bizarre Adventures #27, "Show me the Way to Go Home" Plot by Mary Jo Duffy and Bob Layton, script by Mary Jo Duffy, art by Dave Cockrum and Ricardo Villamonte. Read more!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

I can recognize like three styles of car from the last 20 years, but I have my Batmobile preference down pat.

I do like the current trend to draw the Batcave with about a dozen Batmobiles in storage, even if Batman probably wouldn't have a 1940's roadster in the current continuity, or even the 60's TV version. It's just cool, and that's all. And, I suppose it would probably make sense for Batman to have specialized Batmobiles: Dark Knight Returns crowd control tank, 1970's Neal Adam's low-key street crime lab, or my personal favorite, Norm Breyfogle's highend racer.

I was looking for Detective Comics #601, which wasn't the start of the Alan Grant/Norm Breyfogle run, but was their return after the three issue "Blind Justice" storyline. The Batmobile gets challenged to a street race on the first page, and the storyline ends with the Demon giving Batman a peck on the cheek. Yeah, it totally makes sense when you read it, so pick it up.

This all came up since the other day my older son put his allowance towards a Cars Lightning McQueen, while I picked up the Corgi 1990's Batmobile, which totally nails Breyfogle's art, down to the curved spoiler fins. And then we had a forty minute conversation about how the Batmobile would totally smoke Lightning McQueen. My point may have got a little muddled when he didn't know the Mach V, but he's got time to learn. Yeah, some people want to make sure their kids are raised Catholic or Orthodox or whatever; I'm just making sure mine know their nerd roots.

(Don't worry: my wife's totally 'street' or whatever; so the kids will be cool nerds. Cooler than me, anyway...)

From Batman #463, "Spirit of the Beast, part two" Written by Alan Grant, pencils by Norm Breyfogle, inks by Steve Mitchell. Read more!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Let's see: pre-Crisis, post mind-wipes, after Year One, after GL/GA...continuity is hard.
Wayne may be a corporate opressor, but he always has the best grub.

Even putting aside the neat Jim Aparo art, what most sets these panels outside of current DCU continuity?

1. Green Arrow knowing Batman's secret identity, and hanging out with him; without Batman calling him a poser, wannabe, leftist, or mindraper.

2. Bruce Wayne smiling, which has been disallowed by rule since 1985.

3. Ollie eating what appears to be a Twinkie in the second panel. (Maybe that's how they're getting along, Twinkies can do that.)

4. Ollie asking Batman for a favor, without calling him a 'fatcat oppressor of the working class,' or sucking up like a fanboy.

5. Neither has punched the other yet! In fact, they make it the whole issue without fighting like catty little girls! (Gasp!)

One of the smaller retroactive continuity revisions that I don't like is the open acknowledgement that at least when he started, Green Arrow wanted to be Batman really, really badly. Partially, this explains why GA had an Arrowcar, Arrowplane (groan...), and Arrowcave; and kid sidekick Speedy. I don't know who started this, and it can vary depending on the writer from 'hero worship' to "imitation as flattery' to 'full-on man-crush,' but I would avoid pointing out how Green Arrow was a second-rate Batman, unless you really want him to be second-rate.

I admit that this is a tip of the hat to GA's true, knockoff creation; but I wouldn't keep bringing it up. Green Arrow didn't become interesting until he lost his money, grew a goatee, and became a rabblerouser anyway.

In addition, Bruce's comment in the first panel reminded me of watching part of Batman and Robin on TV last week. I remember being so excited to see it in the theatres, and then the sinking feeling I got when Batman shows up at a charity function...ugh.

From Brave and the Bold #160, "Shackles of the Mind!" Written by Cary Burkett, art by Jim Aparo. Read more!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Cap shouts that out no matter who's there: X-Men, Fantastic Four, Lightning Rods, Big Hero Six...

Out of office today, I'm afraid, so please enjoy this nice panel from Avengers/Power Pack Assemble! #4 "Conquered!" Written by Marc Sumerak, art by GuriHiru. I wonder if 'GuriHiru' is a single person, or a studio like Udon (of Street Fighter and Deadpool/Agent X). Regardless, I've liked what I've seen of these Power Pack books, and that's from someone who never, ever read it before. And he manages to sneak Nightcrawler into a fight scene, always a plus.

I mentioned before having seen the Target collections of Power Pack and the Marvel Adventures line, books that traditionally are barely a blip on direct market sales. Here's hoping they've found their audience outside of the usual comic shop, and I encourage you to pick one up with your Christmas shopping. At the very worst, you'll have picked up a harmless little comic you can pass on to a deserving kid somewhere, right?

That said, if the MODOK issue of Marvel Adventures Avengers doesn't sell through the roof, my faith in the blogosphere, man, and God may be utterly shattered... Read more!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Have comics ruined my appreciation of fine art?

Why is it, that instead of this:

I think of this:

Especially when I do this:

Oh, the inanity. Anyway, I just wanted to get that one out there, since I'm thankful for a life I really, really didn't see coming; with a good family, a non-crushing job, and my biggest complaint is usually 'that comic sucked.' And I'm posting today since tomorrow I could very well be asleep, or crying off a Cowboys loss.

Incidentally, I'm going to my wife's parents' for Thanksgiving; and last year I watched the game by myself while the rest of the extended family watched the Tom Cruise War of the Worlds. Savages.

Memo to self: Replace that tiny Crisis #7 thumbnail, as soon as you find your copy of that issue, or is working again. Read more!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Wow, maybe Reed Richards is a super-genius.

Between Civil War and Planet Hulk, Reed seems to be getting dumber and dumber lately: launching the Hulk into space when it's virtually certain he'll come back even more pissed off, building a loose cannon Clone Thor when it's virtually certain Thor will return super pissed off, pissing off Sue when it's a stone lock she'll go running to Namor; not good decisions.

At least, to our eyes. Comic fans are doubtless smarter than the general public (as even the worst of terrible comics today is better than Little Man or Unaccompanied Minors) but how many of us are certified, Wile E. Coyote style super geniuses? Any decision Reed makes that seems utterly retarded to our eyes, is part of a longer game than we can see. And obviously not the result of a writer struggling to put words in the mouth of a character many times smarter than themselves.

Case in point: in the panel above, after Ben is shocked down by the Mole Man, Reed gives the signal to the Invisible Girl for the next attack. All part of a carefully coordinated battle plan, made up on the fly by Mr. Fantastic; and made all the more impressive since the entire Fantastic Four was blinded by the Mole Man's ray, so how in the living hell could Sue see Reed's signal? Because he's that good, damnit. I'll never doubt you again, Reed. Maybe.

For good measure, here's Sue Storm Richards administering a beating to the Mole Man. Pretty sure she and Johnny both make Moley cry this issue, while Ben has to give Reed artificial respiration, which doesn't seem like a fair trade.

From Fantastic Four #89, "The Madness of the Mole Man!" Stan Lee words, Jack Kirby pictures, Joe Sinnott embellishment. Reprinted in Marvel's Greatest Comics #71. Some of this issue was seen in flashback in FF#126, but Johnny seems a lot less like a dick in the original. It's weird to think of Roy Thomas cranking up the dysfunction level of the FF, but there you are. Read more!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Another unpopular opinion: On O.J. Simpson

By now, if you care about such things, you've heard the news about O.J. Simpson's hypothetical tell-all, "If I Did It" being cancelled. While I had no intention of reading it, or reading about it; I am a little disappointed to hear tell of a book being cancelled, or in effect, censored, before it even comes out. (Ideally, I would've liked for it to be released, and then die a slow, lingering, and unread death on the shelves.)

On the other hand, anything Bill O'Reilly and Geraldo Rivera are against, makes me think there might be something to it...

My wife was glad the book and program weren't coming out, as she felt it was inappropriate, and in poor taste. Which it probably is, but that's not my issue. Public opinion is almost unanimous in assuming O.J. did kill Nicole and Ron, and I agree. However, I don't feel so strongly about it that I think double jeopardy should be revoked, like some people seem to lately...

But let's suppose, just for a second, that O.J. didn't do it: he was a moderately successful actor, athlete, public figure; dragged through the mud to such a degree that even his own family will never look at him the same way again. Deals dry up, friends stop calling, the cash flow dries up to a trickle; yet O.J. is accustomed to a certain lifestyle, a lifestyle he couldn't change if he wanted to and still feels he deserves.

But what does he have left? Well, if all of America thinks he did it, why not tell them how? Even if he didn't? O.J. could shout out his innocence on TV, radio, and street corners for the rest of his life; and not get any less guilty in the eyes of the general public. If he's 'guilty,' and has to carry the stigma, why shouldn't he get the rewards of that guilt? O.J. probably wouldn't even need a ghost-writer: all the forensic evidence is right there for the taking. Probably just have to cut and paste the prosecution case into a manuscript, and wait for the checks to come in. It's hard to be hated, reviled, and feared; but a couple more million in the bank take the edge off that pretty quickly.

Hypothetically, of course. After all, the book may never show. Although, rumor has it some of it will be leaked soon. Also, I believe someone in the Goldman family is convinced O.J. has been paid for it already. Yeah, I burned the last of my caring about this about half a paragraph ago. Comic stuff tomorrow.

Today's picture was on the back cover of Detective Comics #497, and I had to look for a whole half-hour to find an O.J. Simpson ad, which is more a testament to the mess I leave lying around than to my sorting skills. Read more!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

I'm pretty sure Kroda was always about the 'sword-handling,' as it were.
Sometimes, you run across something that seems like it would fall under another blog's jurisdiction, like Chris Sims or Blockade Boy. And then you decide to do it anyway. From Thor #266, "...So Falls the Realm Eternal!" Written by Len Wein, art by Walt Simonson and Tony DeZuniga. Yeah, everyone forgets Simonson had a short stint on Thor before he took over and remade the book; but then his art on this one doesn't look like his usual work either. At first glance, I was thinking John Buscema.

And the design work doesn't look like Simonson's either, as in, it kind of reeks. Kroda, pictured above, was one of three plotters allied with Loki. He had one eye and an eyepatch with an overhead strap that makes his head look like...well, to be polite, I'll say it looked like Herr Starr in Preacher. And while keeping your sword there does send a message, it also has to make walking, sitting, and going to the bathroom problematic. At least he had to the restraint to not go with a long sword. Or a broad sword. Or a two-handed sword. You get my point.

For good measure, here's Hogun the Grim administering a merciful, smashing blow to the face of the fleeing Snaykar, who should totally ask for a refund on that helmet. Read more!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wine cellars aren't safe from the Mole Man? What next, parking garages?

From Fantastic Four #128, "Death in a Dark and Lonely Place!" Written and edited by Roy Thomas, art by John Buscema, inks by Joe Sinnott. Other things, besides wine cellars, that the Mole Man has complete access to from his underground kingdom:
1. Subway tokens
2. Pirated cable
3. My comics, since that's the only explanation I can think of for not being able to find that issue of Quasar I was looking for. You made a powerful enemy today, Moley...

This is the conclusion to the Thing's quest to get a cure for blindness from the Mole Man, with a little sidetrip into Moley's upcoming wedding to the above Kala. Kala double-crosses Moley and frees ex-ruler and current man-pretty slave Tyrannus, who promptly double-crosses Kala. All of which makes it extra-anti-climactic when Ben shakes down Moley for the blindness cure he totally doesn't have.

The Fantastic Four manage to escape without the Mole Man's usual parting shot at them, because he's down about being betrayed by his bride-to-be. Or losing his favorite man-slave. Whichever. Read more!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Sick day.

Um, actually I'm not that sick. Not even sick enough to not blog. I just wanted to be the first one to use that one for this, from Moon Knight #6, "The Bottom, Chapter 6" Written by Charlie Huston, pencilled by David Finch, inked by Danny Miki and Crimelab Studios. Y'know, I was thinking this was Moon Knight volume 4; but let's see: the original series, the Fist of Khonshu, the late 80's/early 90's version, this one...and then there's two limited series and at least one one-shot (with Shang-Chi!). So, volume 7?

I'm looking forward to putting all six chapters together and reading "The Bottom" straight through, although I just read and reread #6 because a couple parts were a little unclear, like the above vomiting. Also, Huston's Taskmaster isn't the same guy that was in Gail Simone's Deadpool/Agent X: that Taskmaster was hardcore, if a bit of a douchebag. Of course, Simone's Taskmaster was different than Christopher Priest's, which was different than Joe Kelly' you can't fault Huston for that: Taskmaster's that bad guy with the copycat reflexes, and anything else you need him to do to fit in the plot, whether it's self-esteem issues or a Spice Girls habit or a complete lack of identity.

That last one, which I recall from a Chichester issue of Daredevil back in the day, could explain all of that in continuity: Taskmaster could change personalities almost as quickly as he changes fighting styles...

Back to Huston's Moon Knight, the position on Khonshu--whether he is an actual deity or Spector's delusion--is made pretty clear. Maybe. In the original Doug Moench issues, it seems like Khonshu is no more or less real than anyone else's god, but Spector believes, and his faith gives him power. For someone who's just shy of being a godless heathen, that's an unusual concept, and would be difficult if not impossible to pull off if Spector had been Christian, or even Jewish. I'm not sure where they established he was Jewish, but that's in there somewhere; so one of the few Jewish characters in the Marvel U. gave up his faith to become a mercenary, then worship a statue he found in a desert. Huh.

For other writers, and I'm thinking of Steve Englehart on Moon Knight's tenure on West Coast Avengers, Khonshu was a very real deity, although not one that I recall as making on-panel appearances like Thor or Hercules. Of course, these stories also said Hawkeye travelled back in time and designed the crappy weapons Moon Knight used in the "Fist of Khonshu" issues, so I could take or leave that.

So, is Khonshu real or not? It absolutely depends on who's writing this month. I personally lean towards the not camp, but Spector believes, and for believers, that's what's important. And now the pills I took are starting to take effect, so I'm off to see if I have a vision or something... Read more!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Civil War was right: The Fantastic Four are a bunch of jerks!

Here's a puzzle for you: why is it that today a character's origin might be rehashed and revisited over and over again, when the small pool of today's comic readers already know all that? You can tell the Fantastic Four's origin any number of ways from a myriad of different angles, like the Ultimate version, the Marvel Adventures all-ages version, the recent Joe Casey/Chris Weston First Family mini-series, and the movie continuity. Aside from maybe the movie version, did any of these bring in new readers? Or are they just telling the same old story, perhaps adding a new coat of paint or stripping dated references.

Fantastic Four#126 was not only a retelling of the FF's origin, with maybe a little barnacle scraping duty on the side, but it was also immortalized in a Power Record. (The link should be fixed, and a big thank you to Jason over there again. Check out his other stuff, and see what jumps out!) When I think of the Fantastic Four, these are the voices I hear. Well, OK, the guy from the 90's cartoon did a pretty mean Thing, and I hear Jessica Alba's voice a lot for no reason, but neither here nor there. As usual. Let's just go on: "The Way it Began!" Written and edited by Roy Thomas, art by John Buscema, inks by Joe Sinnott. The letters page notes this is Thomas' first issue as regular writer, after Stan Lee's last (regular) issue.

Perhaps because this is going to be a introspective clipshow of an issue, we start things off with a bang: Ben Grimm and longtime girlfriend Alicia Masters open a door in the Baxter Building, only to discover Doctor Doom standing over the murdered body of Sue Richards, the Invisible Woman. (Wait, she was the Invisible Girl back then. It's been 'Woman' for what, twenty years now, in Byrne's run? So I didn't notice at first.) Enraged, the Thing moves to attack Doom, only to jump right through him. As Ben picks himself out of the wreckage of a wall, Doom and Sue have both faded away.

Mr. Fantastic turns on the light, and explains he had been testing "the new, improved version of my thought-projector helmet" and that he had to concentrate on the most repulsive scene he could imagine. Why, I can't say. I would have thought repulsive scenes would leap to mind more readily and clearly than happy pastoral images, but then again the idea of projecting what's in my head onto a wall for public consumption is mildly terrifying. One stray thought about my Liz Phair fixation, and it definitely wouldn't be Comics Code Approved. This is another one of Reed's inventions that should be worth billions and revolutionize society, but I'm pretty sure most of Reed's money comes from 'kill fees' instead: The television, cable, and movie industries probably cough up even more for the helmet to never see the light of day. (Reed alludes to this in Mark Waid's run, when he gets the FF solvent again by inventing an acne cure, with which he more or less blackmails Revlon or Stridex or something.)

Nonetheless, Reed really needs to lock the lab door, or put up "Genius at Work" signs or something. He lights up his pipe, which is awesome: smoke 'em if you've got 'em, young scientists! Reed also seems to be mocking Ben a little; but then I guess Ben did demolish a wall there.

The Human Torch and Invisible Girl come charging in to see what the crash was, Johnny burning a hole and flying through another section of wall. Sue rips into Johnny for "stirring things up," then lets Reed have the other barrel when he defends Johnny; as they were supposed to be on their way to see Franklin right then. Perhaps forewarned by this scene, Ben takes this moment to tell Alicia that "maybe we should get to know each other a little better" before getting married. Wow. That's crushingly insensitive and ill-timed. The only worse thing I could think of is if Ben saw a slightly overweight woman and told Alicia he didn't think they should marry because she might get fat. In his defense, Sue is raging.

Since Ben made that little suggestion out in public with everyone, Johnny can't resist pitching him some crap, which quickly escalates into blows. Reed tries to separate them, and gets slugged by both. Sue then yells some more: "Are you trying to murder the finest man who ever lived?" Cherish that moment while you cough up your lungs, Reed, because I don't think you'll be hearing that again anytime soon.

Reed defends his teammates again, however, and suggests maybe they all need some time apart. He probably meant separate vacations for him and Sue as well, so he could finish that quantum spacedrive he'd been working on, while Sue would get to change Franklin's diapers and think about the Sub-Mariner. Reed and Sue head out to see Franklin.

Ben makes a crack to Alicia, then regrets using the word "see" to his blind girlfriend. Ben is weirdly sensitive about the damnedest things, I swear. Alicia doesn't mind that, but has too much class to be alternately insulted and condescended to, and excuses herself. Ben complains to Johnny that despite all his power, he can't restore Alicia's vision, and Johnny points out at least Ben has a girlfriend. Johnny's long-term girlfriend Crystal of the Inhumans was stuck back at the Great Refuge, as the Inhumans currently couldn't survive for extended periods in earth's pollution. Johnny flames on and storms out, looking for "someplace where I'm treated like a man--not just a kid with an all-over hotfoot!"

Left alone and feeling like a jerk, Ben decides to distract himself by playing with Reed's thought projector, which shouldn't fit but totally does: "Reed must be more swell-headed than I thought."

(From the record version: "Hey, whadaya know? It fits! Goodie.") Like Reed, he decides to test it on the most "revoltin' thing" he can think of: himself. He sees himself as the lumpy Thing he was in the FF's first issues, then the more common rock-like version, then as he used to look. Stricken by a "sudden urge to see the way it was", Ben starts our flashbacks with a meeting of the four as they plan to steal Reed's experimental 'Pocket Rocket.' Man, I'm glad they don't call it that anymore.

In this version, Reed plans to steal the rocket, which Ben refers to as "some harebrained scheme to beat the rest'a the world into space." Sue calls Ben a coward, and asks if he wants some foreign power to beat America to the moon. Ben responds with a crack about "cleaning up Harlem an' Watts," which is just as dated. This version is as Ben remembers it, at the time; but very much a period piece. The secret base, located "upstate," is described as "the base the Pentagon didn't even tell the boys at Cape Canaveral about!" Space flight as a national defense issue, which seems odd today but was probably very true back then.

"Mebbe if we'd had to wait fer Official Clearance, we might'a Sobered up, and the whole thing never would'a happened..."
Yes, Reed, Ben, and Sue were just hammered when they stole the rocket. And it's obvious Johnny lit one up from time to time.

So, the four are the first in space, which would make Ben's flashback circa March 1961 at the latest. Since that would make them too old, and getting into space isn't as novel anymore, this is usually retconned into testing Reed's experimental warp drive or something. My least favorite alteration was probably the Heroes Reborn version, which I haven't read in years, but I believe involved Galactus or the Silver Surfer irradiating the four somehow...

As the cosmic rays hit, Johnny starts to feel like he was burning up, and Ben feels so heavy he needs to lie down. Since I first heard that line on the record as a kid, I always pictured a little cot in the back of the rocket for that. Reed had installed an automatic pilot, which almost begs the question of why he had to drag Ben in on this, but honestly, it's not a great landing. The team lurches out of the crash, alive, but uncertain as to how the cosmic rays may have affected him. Sue has a terrible line here, since for the whole story she's relegated to either shrewing or complaining: "But Reed--after all your work, your dedication--we failed!" Don't rub his nose in it or anything, Sue. And what's this we business? One of the better changes in the Ultimate continuity is that Sue is just as much a scientific genius as Reed, albeit in different fields; as opposed to being the naggy team mom.

It's a sign of the times, but it struck me that after the rocket crash, the Four have time to talk about what just happened, and maybe get their story straight for the military; which is really not on the ball here. Back in the sixties crashing a rocket was a more private, leisurely affair: today there would be hazmat teams, the military, the press, conspiracy/alien fans, assorted gawkers...

Because there was no time to waste back then (tradewriting!) the cosmic rays start changing them right away: Sue turns invisible, and everyone freaks out a bit. Ben complains some more, and Reed finally gets fed up with it. Reed may have picked the wrong time to stand up for himself, though, as Ben starts changing into the Thing. Since Ben's using the helmet to watch this, that would explain why he looks like the 'normal' Thing (rocky, beetle-browed) here instead of the original lumpy, dinosaur-hide version, even though he pictured that earlier. Narrating, Ben admits: "It ain't pleasant rememberin' how I wuz then--Mr. Bad Temper of 1961--" then, in the flashback:

"Reed, darling, bull!"
Awkward. That must have been one longass ride (or walk) back home after that little outburst. It's often been painfully obvious Ben loves Sue, but that one was more overt than usual.

Johnny calls Reed and Ben monsters, then flames on and takes off, namechecking "that oldtime comic-book hero--the Human Torch!" A very Roy Thomas touch there, but Johnny must have been a hardcore fan, because most people bursting into flames wouldn't think, 'Hey, I saw this in a comic once,' they would think 'Ohnoesjebushelpme.' Except with more swears. In most retellings, it takes longer than two panels for the Torch to have any control of his powers, but even in the old Lee/Kirby issues, Johnny had enough control over his flame to shave Namor, and that was like the third issue.

Reed reasserts control over the group, although Ben steps on what would probably be a long and dry speech: super powers, help humanity, blah blah. Thomas does sneak in a line about telling the government what happened, which is quaintly trusting by today's standards. Most of you can probably see lots of possibilities for stories that would be fleshed out later: I believe First Family had a plot involving the aftermath of the crash and the government, for example.

Ben's mind then wanders to the first "do-badder" the Fantastic Four fought, the Mole Man. Even though Ben was just off-panel for this, he recalls Moley telling Reed and Johnny his origin, which means we're up to a flashback within a flashback. Nice!

Mole Man's motivation for leaving humanity behind, his 'Hell is other people' line, while not new, is uncut on the Power Record's version. Y'know, I would actually watch Ugly Betty if she did this. Moley narrates about washing ashore on Monster Isle (It's actually a peninsula...) and exploring a cavern, not five minutes later from the way it's laid out.

Even hampered by an inferiority complex and hung up about his looks (or lack of same...) the Mole Man was man enough to survive a fall of several hundred feet (as Ben pictures it), then conquer the Moloids and assorted monsters of his "legendary kingdom," while more or less blind and unarmed. Moley could have been a king, a regal presence of nobility, but he can't let go of the pain and cruelty the world gave him. So, he's a revenge-crazed loon. A guy with giant monsters, access to untold treasures both material and scientific, and an army of little yellow servants; should be able to get the respect he desires. Maybe the problem is you, Moley.

For some reason, probably faulty synapses, I keep thinking of Moley now as a disgruntled Pokemon trainer: "I choose you, Groot!"

As the Mole Man concludes his tale, we find Johnny again being insensitive: "What good's it (Moley's kingdom)do you--if you can't see it?" That's a pretty harsh assessment on the lives and achievements of blind people, Johnny. When Johnny says, "Come back with us--maybe we can help you," he doesn't mean "Reed can probably cure your blindness. And you ugliness. Possibly even your shortness." He means, "We can put you in a nice home for the blind. Or the ugly." And yet, he later married Alicia. Fake, Skrull Alicia. Whatever.

Not surprisingly for Ben's flashback, we linger for a moment on Moley then beating the hell out of Johnny with a stick: it demonstrates his powers, and it's fun! He then shows his tunnel map, and how his "mighty minions shall attack--destroy everything that lives above!" Ben decides he's heard enough, and it's time to make the donuts. Except he forgot about the army of monsters. Oh yeah.

You can see some more of the altered lettering there, but I still like that panel. I think it's a bit of a tip of the hat to the cover of Fantastic Four #1. Also, the Mole Man has awesome tiling.

Although they had thought that was the end of the Mole Man, he would return many times. Ben recalls the last time, which apparently involves real estate, and revisits that scene with his pilot light hat:

Sue manages to get Moley's glasses, leaving his over-sensitive eyes blinded; and somehow breaks his blindness ray thingee. The Torch...torches it, so it's never used against them again; and the Mole Man escapes again, blowing up the house in another failed attempt on the FF's lives. Ben wonders why he's been going over all this, then realizes if the Mole Man can cause blindness with a ray, then cure it, he might be able to help Alicia see again.

Ben resolves to get Moley to cure Alicia's blindness, or kick his ass trying; a point he underlines by punching Reed's countertop hard enough to shake the entire Baxter Building. Now that's an invention! I can't even slice cheese on mine...On his way out, Ben runs into the building's landlord, Collins. There's a slight jump there, as Ben was upstairs, then suddenly he's exiting the elevator on the ground floor, but still on the same thought. Collins starts to give Ben the hassle. Unwise.

On the record, it really sounds like Ben is this close to going ape all over Collin's face, and that the Mole Man had better watch his back. Maybe it's the residue of Civil War, but going over this issue I was surprised how angry, abusive, shrill, and insensitive the Fantastic Four was. Just like a real family! I didn't get the conclusion to this until almost thirty years later, so I guess we'll get to that one much, much later. (Spoiler: the Mole Man is no help to Alicia, or any blind people, anywhere. Surprise!) Read more!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Loading, loading everywhere.

Having a hard time getting pictures to load lately, so here's something you could try before I run all over this issue: get the MP3 of the Power Records adaptation of Fantastic Four #126 and check it out, either beforehand, or read along. I personally had this record for years before I got the comic, and I got the Power Records version first. It had some heavily, and sloppily, relettered balloons to fit the audio. Eventually, I found a quarter copy of the original, so we'll be looking at soon as everything loads. Here's hoping.

Another good site for Power Records: Power Records Plaza. I've downloaded a ton there these last two weeks (I have dialup, which means some of the individual downloads have taken more than an hour to come through!), including some I didn't have as a wee little brat. I need to find my reprint of the Conan one, "The Crawler in the Mist," and I'm looking forward to listening to it. A big thanks to both sites, since while I still have most of my old Power Records (and some others), I haven't had a working turntable in twenty years or so. And oh yeah, I have barely a vague idea on how to transfer vinyl to MP3.

(Years ago, when I worked in music, I remember reading an article about just that: I recall it involves playing the record through a digital receiver into the computer and recording in 1:1...or something. The article went on, that the sound quality would be at least as bad as the actual record, maybe a little worse; but that there were computer tools to fix that. After that it kind of trails off, into 'why are you doing this?' territory; but a lot of things like these records are never, ever going to be reissued through normal distribution channels.)

My family, of course, figures I'm insane. Small price to pay. Read more!

Monday, November 13, 2006

X-Force? 130+ issues.
Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book? 13.

As usual, I blame you.

To be honest, I'm not 100% sure I read, or more accurately paid for, the first few issues of Bill and Ted's, or even Fight-Man. I was young and stupid and you're all paying for it, I'm afraid.

So don't buy comics you're going to regret in five or ten years. Buy those books that you know deserve it, that need your support, that will reward you with continued excellence years down the line. Put down that comic you're just buying to keep your run going or out of habit or to bitch about online.

Yeah, you've heard that tune before, which means as you might have guessed, I was running late today. But you got a couple panels from Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book #10, written and drawn by Evan Dorkin, inked by Marie Severin; out of the deal. Look grateful. Read more!

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Cowboys never quit!

From Scud the Disposable Assassin #5, "Corvette Summer" Created, written, and illustrated by Rob Schrab.

Good advice there, particularly since I feel like I've been blogging in my sleep the last couple of days. Lot of home stuff to deal with this week, the last bits of the basement, and some other nonsense. It's all chores that need to be taken care of, but I could care less about, if that makes sense; so I don't want to let extraneous matters prevent me from doing what I actually care about, like play with the kids, exercise, crap out a post...

For those among you who never saw this book, or the game, be sad. Scud was the story of a robot, a disposable assassin, as you might have guessed. Purchased out of a vending machine to take out a lab full of monsters, mid-firefight Scud accidentally saw the warning label on his own back:

Scud Disposable Robot Assassin: Heartbreaker Series 1373

This Unit will Self-Destruct Upon Termination of Target

Realizing he was doomed if he killed his primary target (the monster Scud would later name Jeff, who only spoke in samples of videogames and TV shows) Scud instead shot it's arms and legs off, took it to a hospital, and had it put on life-support. Needing money to keep the monster alive, Scud sought work as a freelance hitman, which led to the Cyborg Mafia, giant linking robots stolen from the Yakuza, the zombies of Voodoo Ben Franklin, werewolves, the true reason for the Rapture, the Four Horsemen, and a lot of comedy.

So, I know I've complained about how Scud and Rob Schrab pretty much vanished off the face of comics, but I keep harping on it because it was a completely unpretentious comic that I really enjoyed. Of course, circa 1994 it was still more or less expected for a comic to come out on some kind of schedule: monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly...whenever the hell you feel like doing it. In that aspect, Schrab may have been a trailbreaker, but if he was still doing it, I'd be happy with an issue a year. After all, I don't give Evan Dorkin or Adrian Tomine any grief, and they make All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder seem timely. Read more!

Friday, November 10, 2006

From Fury #6, "6: The Man Who Loved the War" Written by Garth Ennis, pencils by Darrick Robertson, inks by Jimmy Palmiotti.

How to put this...I have some strong feelings on this topic, and they may seem contradictory, but I am not conflicted on this. Clear?

I do think people have the right to smoke if they want to. A lot of people--no, strike that, I think I've seen more politicians and groups than actual people make a stink about the issue of second-hand smoke; but I personally still feel people should have the right to smoke inside, somewhere. (The 'Smokatorium' of Judge Dredd comes to mind.) Then the issue of non-smoker waitstaff and such working in bars full of smoke comes up...ignoring that a lot of those smoke as well. (Ideally, I'd like the businesses to front the cash for these employees to be protected from secondhand smoke, by diving suits or astronaut gear. At the very least, A.I.M. beekeeper outfits.)

I do think cigarettes and tobacco products should be taxed like crazy, and the money put into a trust for smokers' eventual health problems. (What is it used for now? In this state, I'm not sure.) And those smokers' should have to forfeit some future health care benefits, either public or private. So, I'm all for discouraging smokers, but I won't outright tell them they can't smoke. It's not up to me, or government, or church, or anyone, to take away people's freedom to kill themselves slowly while paying for the privilege. After all, what's the alternative? Isn't tobacco still highly subsidized by the government? And an export? Should it be banned, driven underground like marijuana?

(Before anyone asks, I have had relatives, grandparents, that smoked and died, with deaths that were at least related to smoking.)

Which brings us to the current ban on smoking at Marvel. To me, that shows the defining line between the need for licensable characters to be wholesome enough to be put on sheets and fruit snacks, and the need for those characters to either ring true, or look 'cool.' (Be honest now: was Wolverine cooler when he smoked? Well, maybe because he was written better back then. How about the Thing?) Banning smoking because it's a bad example for the kiddies doesn't make a lot of sense if no kids read these...

I don't get the ban, honestly: can bad guys still smoke? Can the Kingpin still light one up? 'Cause, you know, the kids are dying to imitate a rotund crimelord. Yeah. (Although, watch MTV for 15 minutes, and the Kingpin might seem like a bloody role model.)

So, the long and short of all this babble is while I don't smoke, or want to be around smoke; I think people should have the right to smoke somewhere, and that the fact is people throughout history and fiction (and fictional histories and historical fiction), as well as a lot of real people today, smoke. It's foolish and a little worrying to try to 'sanitize' that fact.

Clear as the air at closing time, back in the day. Which reminds me: I used to live in Missoula, MT, and at one point some forward thinking entrepreneur started a smoke-free bar. It was a very nice bar, and I saw a lot of good small bands there. It also died a dog's death, because after every set, traditionally when everyone would drink, everyone would go out to smoke. Very social, but not a great financial model. I don't know if this is happening now, since I'm too old, and don't drink, smoke, socialize...

Apparently, even the MAX books are smokeless now: I bought Wisdom #1 the other day: it's fun with violence, but Wisdom was an Ellis creation, and smoked like a tire fire. Writer Paul Cornell does have a page, that shows why Wisdom isn't smoking, without being too preachy or snarky about it. Good issue, by the way.

What wasn't great, or at least, didn't take off, was the Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. miniseries written by Howard Chaykin, back in 1995. I haven't read it (which won't stop me!), but I do recall an interview with Chaykin on it, where he mentioned if he had to quit smoking, so did Nick. But I don't recall if that was his idea, editorial mandate, or reader suggested. (The interview was from the late Hero Magazine, one of Wizard's competitors before the 90's comic/collectible crash.) Putting Chaykin on Fury, story and art, and giving him free rein and a little lead time, seems like it should be money in the bank; but what do I know.

Hmm. Now I need to find some old Chaykin, but maybe later. Long Fantastic Four piece coming up soon, so keep your eyes open.

Read more!

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Several gestures you don't see regularly at Marvel:

Fury #1, "1: Be Careful What You Wish For"; Written by Garth Ennis, pencils by Darrick Robertson, inks by Jimmy Palmiotti.

I've only read the first issue of the Boys so far, and was a little disappointed. It's a well made comic, done by two creators whose work I enjoy; but I just didn't love it. Was it because it's unrelentingly mean-spirited? No, that wasn't quite it. For me, it just might be because they've already covered a lot of this ground, and they nailed it with their first Fury miniseries.

Supposedly, at one point there was a Nick Fury movie in the works. A movie movie, not a made for TV one. Also supposedly, George Clooney was 'attached' or interested in playing Fury; but then he read this series, and bagged out. Specifically, the scene where an aggravated Fury orders himself a half-dozen Asian hookers. ("Blondes! No! Asians!")

Whether this is true or not, I now hate George Clooney. Consider yourself off the Christmas card list, franchise wrecker.

My family's here and the furnace was out most of the day. So far this year, my basement has flooded, the drier and the oven both went the way of the dinosaur. So more Fury tomorrow. Barring disaster.

Read more!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It may have been 2099, but Doom beat Luthor to the Oval Office.

And, for your post-election comedown, from Doom 2099 A.D. #30, "American Way" Written by Warren Ellis, art by Pat Broderick and John Nyberg. This was the future Doom--maybe--earlier, John Francis Moore had hinted that he could just think he was Doom, but with Doom's history of erasing memories and switching bodies, there was no way for even 'Doom' to be sure. I missed Moore's last full issue, so I'm not sure if there was a definitive answer there, or if he simply accepted himself: Doom is Doom, and left it at that.

This issue, with a consortium of Wakandan mercenaries, organized hackers, and the Punisher 2099, Doom was taking over the Presidency of the United States from the corporate interests that had stolen it for decades. Interesting, if a little flawed because the "One Nation Under Doom" storyline had different effects in the other books of the shared 2099 universe.

I miss Spider-Man 2099, Ghost Rider 2099, some of the last Punisher 2099 issues, and the Ellis-written Doom 2099. Man, the issues after Warren? Not great. He tries to leave it in a good place to start new stories, but he might have taken Doom too far afield. Of course, I think there were like three writers and even more artists on the last few issues of the book. But towards the end, all the 2099 books lost writers, pencilers, readers, or all of the above. Then again, a lot of the smaller comics universes caved in about the same time: Milestone, the Ultraverse, 2099...

This had occured to me, in something Ellis said about intending Nextwave to be an ongoing that would continue after he left it. Good luck. Doom 2099 and Excalibur both hobbled worse than a three-legged cat after he left them, back in the day. Oh, Excalibur circled the drain for about two years, but those issues are terrible and exist only to take back everything Ellis did with the characters, so they could be rotated back into the proper X-Men books in their usual roles. And while I can think of a couple writers at Marvel that could do a funny comic, it would go to someone else and suck and die. Ah, you didn't need a crystal ball, or me for that matter, to tell you that's exactly what would have happened.

Tired right now, sorry. More later. Read more!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

And now, some election day advice from Batman:

It's good advice no matter what your personal political beliefs may be; whether you find yourself on the winning team, or the opposition party. Two years ago, the country seemed almost split up the middle on just about every issue under the sun. I'm looking forward to seeing what side the coin lands on tomorrow. Be sure to vote!

Since this is primarily a blog about comics, I don't want to get into my political affiliation. Oh, all right: I'm pro-abortion and pro-gun. You figure it out.

Once again, from The Brave and the Bold #184, "The Batman's Last Christmas!" Written by Mike W. Barr, art by Jim Aparo. Read more!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Let me tell all about my best friend...

From Avengers #148, "20,000 Leagues Under Justice!" Written by Steve Englehart, art by George Perez and S. Grainger. In another meeting with the Squadron Supreme, Captain America and Iron Man square up against Green Lantern and Flash analogs Dr. Spectrum and the Whizzer. Wow, that was the best fast guy name they could come up with back then, but considering that 'Kid Flash' is probably the third best one, it does sink pretty quickly there.

I don't think I'm advocating the return to best friend status for Cap and Shellhead, if anyone still refers to Iron Man as Shellhead, but the fact is they did lock horns a fair amount over the years in the Avengers. And while my personal favorite Avengers lineups include them both, there have been lots of occasions where one or neither were on board. The times with neither? Usually not the highlight reel, yet somehow they went with that for the short-lived Avengers a few years back.

In other news, I'm almost finished with that godforsaken basement, which means I might be able to get at the bulk of my comics again. It's a minor inconvenience, but to have an idea for a post, know exactly what issue it's in, and then realize it's buried under three layers of boxes and a disassembled bookshelf...grr. Of course, now I'm going to find that comic and be completely disappointed that it looked better in my mind, but that happens sometimes. Now if I just can get the drywall dust off the action figures... Read more!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Comic book rape victims: Black Cat, Sue Dibney...

Namor the Sub-Mariner?

Even leaving that aside, I got to thinking about it, and would Namor even have any spots that would be vulnerable to a hypodermic? It's mentioned in another panel: the bowery bums get sick of that uppity amnesiac Namor, so they shoot him up full of stolen morphine, give him a a little blanket party, and toss him into the ocean. At this point, it's easier to believe the lost king of Atlantis is living as a homeless man in New York City, then it is to buy a bum stealing morphine and not using it himself.

I'm going to try to articulate what's just armchair comic-book science here, but if Sub-Mariner is capable of surviving under the huge pressure of the ocean floor, wouldn't his body have to be equalized against that pressure? Thus, he couldn't have a weak spot, because if he did, the pressure would crush him at that point.

But, if we grant that a hypodermic pierced Namor's skin, would he then be able to go to the deepest depths like he could before, without losing pressure at the point of the wound and being crushed?

Yeah, another productive afternoon completely shot to hell...I'm giving this a lot of thought, considering the Sub-Mariner's undersea world seems really unworkable: the machines, speech, fish swimming in and out of everything. Aquaman too, although I've seen at least a couple JLA issues acknowledge the lack of light down 20,000 Leagues under the sea, or whatever.

Completely out of context, maybe, from Fantastic Four Unlimited #6, "Pax Atlantea" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Herb Trimpe, inks by LaRosa, Montano, and Imperato. Read more!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

For the 52 readers out there.

I couldn't even guess if the 'Eggfu' reference is an intentional reference to Egg Fu, the old Wonder Woman villain that's currently involved somehow with the weekly series 52. If it was a newer comic, I'd have to say yes, since DC's continuity seems pretty tight lately, especially in regards to 52/One Year Later. This could be a broad generalization, but it seems like DC's editors have a tighter grip on the reins; while over at Marvel the writers are running the show now, and tearing off here and there.

All I know about Egg Fu is what I've seen on the internet, though. Seems an odd choice to bring back, but what I've seen of 52 seems devoted to shining a little light on more obscure parts of the DC Universe. The Skeets thing doesn't sound right, though; especially since I just watched that Justice League Unlimited episode again and hear all of Skeets' lines in Phillip Fry's voice now.

From Secret Origins #50, "The Startling Secret of the Space Museum!" Written by Gerard Jones, pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by George Perez. I have a good batch of this series, although the more I think about it, most of the issues I bought when the series was originally coming out seem to be missing: the Warlord issue, Green Lantern/Poison Ivy, the Ambush Bug issue...

Some of my first comics were the old Marvel Star Wars, so I love those Infantino explosions. It would be quite some time before I ever saw his other work, like Flash. Read more!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Hulk, burned.

Only in comics can you get away with having your story introduced by an evil bug alien. Let's see Buffy or Galactica pull that one off!

From Hulk #100, "Planet Hulk: Alleigance, part 1" Written by Greg Pak, penciled by Carol Pagulayan, inked by Jeffrey Huet. I do like how Pak's taken the Hulk off the Civil War playing field, although I don't like how it makes Mr. Fantastic and Iron Man look like utter every other Marvel comic right now. Nevermind. Pak also scores points by using a few recognizable Marvel aliens like the Brood above, and Korg, one of the Stone Men from Saturn that fought Thor in his first appearance.

(Later writers, particularly of the Marvel Handbook sort, would have to backpedal on the Stone Men's place of origin; as not being originally from Saturn, but having a base there. Or one of Saturn's moons. Whatever. 'Stone Men from Sirius' just doesn't quite fit, does it?)

Let's look at Marvel's solictation real quick:

A special, HULK-sized issue commemorating 100 issues of gamma-irradiated goodness with two big stories:

Planet Hulk, Allegiance, Part 1 — Is he the Sakaarson, destined to save the planet from its greatest enemies, or the Worldbreaker, the legendary destroyer of everything? The HULK continues his epic story on Planet Sakaar. In this issue, the HULK and Caiera the Oldstrong lead their warriors in an all-out battle against the horrifying Spikes.

But even with the Hulk growing stronger, how can he and his warriors prevail against an enemy that consumes and possesses everything it touches? Featuring another shocking development in the story of Miek — and further hints about the identity of the Sakaarson — and the Worldbreaker. Plus, a 12-page back-up featuring the return of one of HULK’s greatest artists, Gary Frank, as someone discovers that the Illuminati were responsible for sending the Hulk into space! Also reprints Incredible Hulk (vol. 1) #152 and #300!
104 PGS./Rated A ...$3.99

Um, well, no, it doesn't: the reprints included are a brief origin sequence from Incredible Hulk #3, then #152 and #153. I had been looking forward to getting to see #300, since I picked up a ton of old Hulk issues out of the quarter boxes, but no #300. Although I hadn't read #153 either, I would have to say I bought this issue based on getting #300. Now that I type it, I don't know how many pages I thought were going to be in this comic, since #300 was a "Special Abnormally Large Size Issue!" Chris Sims does a pretty good review of it, but I wanted my own, damn it.

For the toy fans in the studio audience, photos are starting to show up online of the upcoming Planet Hulk action figure, due early 2007 when Hasbro takes over the Marvel Legends line. Unfortunately, the comics that had previously been packed in with the toys, are being phased out. A shame, since that would have been a pretty big opportunity to get this storyline out to more readers. Anyone that comments "I never read the comics that come with the toys," please know that I'm shaking my fist at you right now. Read more!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

From Avengers Spotlight #28, "Second Thoughts" Written by Dwayne McDuffie, pencils by Dwayne Turner, inks by Chris Ivy. This was an Acts of Vengeance tie-in, the 1990 crossover event where villains tried their luck against heroes they traditionally hadn't fought before. Although the wasp and Wonder Man are the featured Avengers, the story is more about longtime Fantastic Four villain the Mad Thinker, who is approached by the secret planner behind the villains. (Shh! It's Loki, plotting revenge on the Avengers. Like a lot of Marvel bad guys in the 90's, he put on a suit and no one recognized him, although without that big horned helmet, he'd be a tough face to pick out.)

I like the Thinker as a bad guy, but I usually think of him as more weird than evil, since most of the appearances I remember him from are a bit off-key. And of course, he was the creator of the Awesome Android, aka Awesome Andy, now appearing in She-Hulk.

Also, I believe McDuffie is due to start writing Fantastic Four soon, so maybe the Thinker will get a comeback. Of course, who's left for the Four is anyone's guess, but I have faith in him to pull it out of the current spiral. And of course, today's panel is yet another one that would be contradicted in Civil War, as both Wasp and Wonder Man would end up on the pro-registration side.

The more I think about it, the more I miss the old days, when the Grandmaster would pick a bunch of guys, and Death or Thanos or Deep Thought (sorry, the Prime Mover, another chess playing robot, only evil. Eviler.) would get the rest, and everyone would fight. And then you didn't have to worry about making sure everyone's political stance was consistent with past continuity, or hurt feelings and harsh words, or cloned teammates...

Read more!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Random answers!
1. And now the answers to yesterday's post, which is also a sneaky way to get two days worth from a pile of random scans. This first one is from Captain America and the Falcon #164, "Queen of the Werewolves!" Written by Steve Englehart, art by Alan Lee Weiss. What's more surprising: Falcon turning into a werewolf, Falcon turning into a giant werewolf, or Falcon's hair exploding?

2. From Brave and the Bold #119, "Bring Back Killer Krag" featuring Batman and Man-Bat, written by Bob Haney, art by Jim Aparo. This one dates back to when Man-Bat was doing a lot of bounty hunter work. I can accept Batman taking a dose of the Man-Bat serum so they could escape, but unless his cowl and cape are made of unstable molecules, how did his cape and cowl change shape?

3. Moon Knight (first series) #30, "The Moonwraith, Three Sixes, and a Beast" Written by Doug Moench, art by Bill Sienkiewicz. This was Sienkiewicz's last issue on the book, as he felt he'd peaked on issue #26, "Hit It." You can see in the Werewolf shades of how he would draw Wolfsbane when he got to New Mutants, though.

4. From X-Men Annual #6, "Blood Feud!" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Bill Sienkiewicz (again!), inks by Bob Wiacek. Although this is one of my favorite single issues ever, and I've had this since I was a kid, the scan's actually from a coverless copy of X-Men vs. Dracula #1. (I think that had a Chris Sprouse cover, off the top of my head.)

This sequence cemented for me Nightcrawler over Wolverine as the cool X-Men, and not just because my name is a sound effect in the second panel. (Yes, spelled like that. 'Chuk' is a family name. Shut up.) I still think the issue should have ended shortly after that...

5. The Invaders #8, "Union Jack is Back!" Written by Roy Thomas, art by Frank Robbins and Frank Springer. Baron Blood trounces the Invaders with clever/stupid traps, until Union Jack beats him by booby-trapping his own gun. What UJ would've done if the fight had been going better for him, I don't know. I'm guessing, pistolwhip Blood to death.

6. "The Terrible Secret of Negative Man!" From Doom Patrol #87, reprinted in Super-Team Family #8. Written by Arnold Drake, art by Bruno Premiani. I think this story was also reprinted in a DC Digest, but without the big reveal. I have read more of the old Doom Patrol, and little of the Morrison ones, but one of the few recent DC continuity fixes that I've liked has been that all the versions of the Doom Patrol are just as valid. Even the Arcudi and Byrne versions.

And 'Negative Man' may be my favorite super hero name ever. I even cheaped out one Halloween and went out with a bandaged face a la Claude Raines, but I was definitely a Negative Man, tell you what.

7. The most recent panel: B.P.R.D.: the Universal Machine #4, story by Mike Mignola and John Arcudi, art by Guy Davis. The Mignola-verse Wendigo above creeps me out a lot more than the Marvel one.

8. Lastly, we've got Stan Lee and John Buscema, from "Now Strikes the Ghost!" Silver Surfer #8, reprinted in Fantasy Masterpieces #8. I liked that reprint series, because the Silver Surfer stories--the only ones at the time--were backed with Starlin's Adam Warlock. I don't remember though, if the issue was reprinted in full, or cut in half with the above panel. And of course, I have at least two separate reprints that are completely buried. The conclusion may have been reprinted and packed in with the Marvel Legends Silver Surfer figure.

More stuff tomorrow: I have to pick this mess up... Read more!