Wednesday, February 28, 2007

From Batman: Gotham Adventures #58, "Crazy Talk" Written by Dan Slott, pencils by James Fry, inks by Ty Templeton.

As Scipio would put it, Rhino would be a denominated henchman, and a fairly effective namebrand at that: I don't think Scarface ever expected Rhino to take Batman, but he was always good enough to hold him up, and buy Scarface time. Unfortunately, with a name like 'Rhino," you know you're not getting a rocket scientist, but he was always sweetly loyal to his boss.

Recently in the regular Bat-books, the Ventriloquist and Scarface were 'rugged out,' 'whacked,' 'sleeping with the fishes,' etc. I don't think Rhino was killed, but that makes it even sadder: a lost lonely henchman, mourning the loss of his boss, now nothing but kindling. Moreover, Ventriloquist and Scarface were pretty much the only new Bat-villain in the last what, 15 years? that was worth a toss. You heard me, Bane, you suck. Luckily, they've made memorable appearances in both of the Batman cartoons, so maybe someday...

I've had this post on file for some time, saving it for an occasion when pictures wouldn't today. Since then, Dini introduced a new Ventriloquist with a different take on Scarface, and so far I like where he's going with that. It hews pretty close to Alan Grant's idea of Scarface carved from gallows' wood and supernaturally evil, from a Scarface one-shot with art by Charles Adlard, that I don't have in front of me...

Also, I like the animated Creeper better than the regular version, I think. Funnier, with less baggage. He's appeared in the Justice League Unlimited comic as well, and I hardily recommend both comics. And not just because I wish I had the excuse of being full of Joker venom to wear a speedo and furry boa to fight crime...
Read more!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

As usual, I totally blame Brandon for this one.

Sonuva...we interrupt whatever the hell it was I was doing before. Bitching about Civil War or why Wolverine is a wee little girl compared to the increasingly senile Captain America will keep; but we've got important matters afoot.

Brandon over at Random Panels has been bringing Manly Tales of Manliness this week, and it's been some classic, and non-superhero, stuff. The link is to a John Severin-drawn story, and like pretty near everything he draws, the gawddamn manliness just about wafts off the pages. How to put this, because I know he could do superhero stuff; I seem to recall an old issue or two of Hulk from him: Severin is so good at the western, 'realistic' style, it's almost like he was typecast in it. I don't know much about him as a person, but I picture Severin like Sam Elliott. Or maybe Hank Hill.

To the point: Brandon's link reminded me of my favorite (John) Severin story, from an old issue of the 80's Savage Tales black-and-white magazine; one that would make, if not a full-length feature, a right fine short film. If you had the budget to blow up a locomotive towards the end. And don't even think about using 'special effects,' because computer graphics and westerns mix like peanut butter and malt scotch. But, it was a great little story about an aged cowboy out to avenge his murdered sons. Who were killed by a pre-WWI Kaiser German, who was leading a train robbery. Typing it out, it sounds a lot like "western Die Hard," except I know it predates that by at least a couple of years and probably wasn't a new idea then anyway.

Anyway, after a short look, I found Savage Tales #4, the last issue of that book I bought as a kid. (Oddly enough, it was on top of a box of mostly Captain America.) I don't know if I was spending my cash on something else, or if the features changed, or if maybe the distribution went south; but I don't remember why I didn't have more issues. And either #2 or #3 have the story I'm thinking of. Maybe. Gawddammit. So, today we've got a good chunk of "Pistolero," written by Chuck Dixon, art by John Severin, and I totally blame Brandon for me not being able to find that other one. Grr.

By the way, the rest of that issue? a pre-the 'Nam Doug Murray and Michael Golden "5th to the 1st" story, Herb Trimpe's Skywarriors serial, and a short piece pre-the Crow from James O'Barr. Not bad stuff if you can find it, and I bet a lot of the copies of this issue are read-to-pieces like mine and thus pretty cheap. Good hunting. Read more!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Hey Zemo? You kiss your mom with that mouth? Well, I do!
Oh, I would never let that bagheaded Nazi bastard hear the end of this.
From Captain America: The Medusa Effect #1, written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Rich Buckler and M.C. Wyman, inks by Jim Sanders III and Andrew Pepoy.

That's Captain America, in World War II, kissing Baron Heinrich Zemo's wife. She's the mom of the current Baron Zemo, Helmut, of former Thunderbolts fame. It's too bad Cap is too polite, or not mouthy enough, to rub either Zemo's face in it every single fight from then on. Although, it's probably in poor taste to remind the elder Zemo he can't kiss his wife with a bag on his head...

Getting burned by Captain America is probably like your dad getting a good crack in at your expense: it doesn't happen very often, and when it does, it stings something fierce. I wish Cap was a little mouthier, though, because it would be no end of fun to have Cap completely dog Zemo Senior or Junior every time they show up with the Masters of Evil or make a veiled comment about Bucky.

Of course, again, there's every possibility Cap barely remembers this, either; and not just because he kissed a lotta frauleins in the Big One. (Although, I guess he didn't...) Tomorrow, more World War II shenanigans that 'slipped his mind.' Read more!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Re: Civil War #7
But...but...who will stop Batroc now?

Putting aside how pissed and disappointed I am personally in this whole debacle, and how Millar's ham-fisted metaphor of the American people choosing security over liberty pisses me off even more because there's at least 50% truth to it; does anyone else wonder if maybe Millar and Quesada don't owe Ed Brubaker an apology?

When did the last issue of Captain America come out? How about the last issue where Cap got to do anything? To the best of my recollection, the last two issues were the Red Skull's plot, and Cap in the background as S.H.I.E.L.D. gave Sharon Carter the hassle. It's almost tradition for crossovers to derail the plotlines in the regular book, but taking out the lead character is a bigger monkeywrench than usual.

I'll be the first to admit, I didn't buy Civil War #7: the spoilers at Newsarama, and Civil War in 30 Seconds from the Invincible Super-Blog hit the 'high' notes for me. And I don't want to go off on the fanboy entitlement: these are Marvel's characters, and the writers and editors at Marvel can do what they want to...I mean, with them.

But I totally see why I buy more toys than I do comics lately: when I buy an Iron Man toy, he's not a sellout going back on years of guarding his own secret identity by any means necessary. I buy a Punisher action figure, and he kills criminals, and doesn't murder the Plunderer. (With a name like 'Plunderer,' he's suffered enough!) I buy Captain America, and he stands up for what's right even when it's hard and unpopular.

Since I could complain about this until my typing fingers bleed, let's stop and accentuate the positive: it's over. OK...I am looking forward to Cable & Deadpool, which I've decided to pick up at least on the 'Pool-centric issues. One more issue of Ultimates and I'm done, which is nice. I plan on at least trying an issue or two of Fantastic Four with Dwayne McDuffie writing, and I can't wait for Nightcrawler to return in Ultimate X-Men.

Also, while I'm not sure anything will come of it, I'm kind of looking forward to Brubaker's Uncanny X-Men team to come back from space; to like 90 messages on their answering machines. "Hey guys! Anything happen while we were gone?...really? Clor?"

Ah, well. I remember hating the Crossing and Heroes Reborn when those were coming out, and now I can look back and laugh at them. Right, Cap?
'What, the Red Skull blew up Arkansas? Hey, that's on your watch, Tony.'
"It'll all be over soon" isn't the best mantra ever, but we do what we can. Read more!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Wait, Mark Waid screwed up the continuity? That's like the Pope dicking up mass, or whatever.

From Captain America, Sentinel of Liberty #12, "Brothers in Arms" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Dougie Braithwaite and Anthony Williams, inks by Dan Green and Scott Koblish.

For the last issue of Cap's spin-off anthology, then-current Captain America writer Mark Waid delivered a different, more updated look at the origin of Cap's first partner, Bucky. It's a pretty definitive take on the character, at least until Ed Brubaker's retroactive upgrade/revival of Bucky into "orphan trained by Green Berets to do things that symbol of liberty Cap can't."

(Incidentally, when Bucky's return was first coming out, did anyone think it was going to work? Like even a little? At the very least, I was expecting fakeout, and at worst a longbox full of suck. Brubaker totally made it work, and a round of applause for him, the art crews, and the editorial staff for not laughing him out on his ass for saying 'I wanna bring back Bucky!' And somewhere, Jason Todd/Red Hood should be crying into a pillow...heh, his stupid mask is probably watertight, so I'd love to see that.)

Previously, you could probably be forgiven if your initial impression of Bucky was 'like Captain America's Robin, only less useful.' I always wondered how come Cap gets a shield, while Bucky's out there in the battlefields of World War II with a brightly colored yet non-representational costume and not much else. Other writers, and apparently Bucky himself wondered the same thing, and now you see him packing heat all the time. I don't know if he did in the wartime stories, but I don't remember seeing him with a gun in say, the Lee/Kirby issues, although I admit he might've.
'Yeah, a gun! That'll give me the feeling of invulnerability I need!'
Waid does some nice character work for Bucky, but, and this may be harsh, it's easy when all anyone knows about him is that he died. And Cap screams his name, like a lot. The young James Buchanan Barnes' father was killed in a training incident, and Waid expands on that little nugget of continuity: he died demonstrating parachute techniques, while his son watched, which is probably why 'take your kid to work day' still hasn't caught on with the armed services. Bucky picked up a fear of heights from the incident, which should be exactly the sort of thing that makes a person, oh, not jump onto a moving drone plane full of explosives. Well, that's what makes Bucky a hero, or at least a shining example of America's never-say-die, never-think-things-through attitude. (Or is that Springfield? Eh, same difference.)

Becoming a 'mascot,' or more-or-less ward of the Army, young Bucky, needing to feel useful, worked his way into a position as the camp 'go-to guy.' Or black marketeer. Whatever. After stumbling into Cap's secret identity, Bucky blackmails him to get a job as sidekick, Bucky enjoys the work and is shiftier, more crafty then Cap; which helps to differentiate him from other kid sidekicks and give him something to do in-story that Cap couldn't. But, when asked by Cap how it felt to do a good deed, he says it feels "like I didn't get all my change. What am I, a maroon? I'm not leaving without something."
Wait, is the tide going in or coming out? Oh sh--
Bucky's war chest: I'm almost positive there's a skull in there, somewhere.
Hmm. I'm suddenly suspicious Waid stole this from Superman II. I don't know enough about the army, wartime rules, or war profiteering to say if this is on the up-and-up or not. It's not like Bucky stole his watch or anything...

You know, Bucky, I've got German cash. Big fat wad of Deutschmarks here. You've got a problem.
Also, and maybe this editorial edict has been reversed, but for a couple of years there, were swastikas and Nazi-whatnot verboten over at Marvel? Look, it's not like they were presented in a flattering light, as nine times out of ten it was mid-beatdown from Cap. (The tenth time, the Red Skull swearing vengeance.)

Bucky proves himself as a hero time and again, although I suspect from this story, had he survived and been left to his own devices, he would've ended up more like Booster Gold than Captain America. He would have wanted the fame, the glory, and then the money and the women, all of which leads to Bucky becoming a sellout and probably going out like Elvis by the 70's, which means maybe the metal arm and Soviet brainwashing weren't such a bad deal after all.

(I wish I still drew even a little, because I can picture a bloated, 70's-mustached Bucky, still in costume and domino mask, passed out drunk or dead on a giant round bed full of hookers and blow...and there go my chances of professional comics writing. Meh. Still, it would be a good What If?, a reversal of It's a Wonderful Life, where Cap sees Bucky survive the war only to slander his good name, abuse power, drugs, and himself; maybe even sell state secrets or take dives for payoffs. Kind of like that What If? where Spidey saves Gwen and then everything sucks, except decent. And yeah, I do need to finish reading Brat Pack...)

However, Mark Waid makes a big drop at the end of this story: after getting knocked unconscious by Baron Zemo, Cap and Bucky wake up tied to the drone plane; changed out of their costumes and into ordinary army uniforms. Why? Ostensibly as revenge for the bag-glued-to-his-head thing, so Cap and Bucky would die as "ciphers, unmourned and forgotten." A pretty grim assessment of our troops there, Zemo. Why did he have U.S. army uniforms lying around anyway? Dressing them up in Nazi uniforms would probably made more sense, and caused them more suffering. And looked horrible later. The real reason, though, is because in Avengers #4, when Cap's found in the block of ice, he's wearing the remnants of an Army uniform.

Over his Cap outfit, and his shield on his chest.

In Waid's version, without his shield, Cap goes after Bucky to stop the drone plane. And although the story ends with the last instant of Bucky's life (pre-Brubaker) frozen in time, the drone plane would explode, and Cap would be dumped into the ocean and frozen. Minus his shield, and without his brightly colored costume, which showed poking through the tattered army uniform, I doubt the Eskimos would've fished him out and started worshipping him. Or that the Avengers would've stopped chasing the Sub-Mariner, in order to pull Cap into the sub.
Well, no wonder you fell off the drone Cap, with your shield on your chest...
(with Captain America uniform)
IRON MAN: There's a man outside, in a brightly colored costume!
GIANT-MAN: Let's bring it in!
THOR: Aye, verily!
Putting these two panels together is like watching El Mariachi and Desperado back to back: the same story, but with better production values and prettier actors, minus a certain charm.
(without Cap uniform)
IRON MAN: There's a man outside, in a soldier's uniform. Huh.
WASP: Gross! Don't bring a corpse in here! This sub smells like an oil can full of sweat already!
THOR: Forsooth, by Odin's troth!

Admittedly, Cap's revival has been ret-conned quite a bit, too: I tried re-reading 'Ice' a while back, and the Jae Lee art is pretty but the story doesn't make a lick of sense. And despite what you may occasionally see the *cough* sidebar...Cap was frozen with his mask off. (I knew I should'a bought that Faceoff two pack!) Also, not unlike other seminal events like Batman's parents getting shot, Bucky's death has been shown and re shown, from multiple angles, and any discrepancies could be written off to viewer error. After all, after getting thrown off a plane and frozen for...however many years he was frozen now, I can see how Cap's recollection might vary. In fact, a little later we'll look at how Cap doesn't remember much about WWII, except that Bucky blew up and he's sad.

Regardless, Waid screwed up, although I bet he noticed eventually, but I don't know if it was ever pointed out or brought up. To drop another Simpsons reference, I feel like Milhouse protesting to Bart that Santa's Little Helper did eat his fish: "You tried to say I never had a goldfish, but then why did I have the bowl, Bart? Why did I have the bowl?"

Man, feeling like Milhouse is never a good sign. Let's just say this was a good Bucky story, and maybe even set up him as being able to do things Cap, as a big patriotic symbol, couldn' steal Nazi uniforms, knife a sentry in the back, blow up a sub...
Cap's foiled Zemo's plans dozens of times, and made out with his wife, but it does kind of pale to the sack on the head.
Waid's story also makes a little more sense as far as the drone plane: supposedly, Zemo was going to send the stolen drone plane sent back to Hitler (apparently directly to Hitler, based on all the accounts I remember) where it would be reverse-engineered so Nazi Germany could produce enough drones to bomb England and America. A pretty optimistic plan, since I'm don't think they would've been able to produce enough planes or bombs at that point in the war; but I've never played Axis & Allies, so what do I know?

The drone was launched from an English airfield, supposedly towards Germany, yet Cap ends up dumped in the North Atlantic, which doesn't seem quite right, but I'm not going to Mapquest it right now either. Say either it launched over the ocean and blew up before turning back, or that Cap and Bucky knocked it off course. But the bomb on the drone also varies: sometimes it's internal, like a part of the drone's engine, and sometimes it's a big lump of dynamite Bucky finds right before it goes off.

Killing Cap and Bucky would not only be a feather in Zemo's sack, but it would also be a huge propaganda victory for the Nazis. Hitler would probably want to publicize, if not desecrate the corpses; but it wouldn't work if they were dressed as garden-variety G.I.'s. Sending Cap's shield back only makes sense if the Germans planned on reverse-engineering the metal; but since Zemo's their best scientist, it makes more sense for him to keep it; but then Cap wouldn't have it in Avengers #4.

There's probably more, but I'd have to really dig for it now. I may or may not be out for the rest of the week, so have fun, and keep your sidekick in check, for god's sake...
'Heh...all for Bucky, all for Bucky...'

Hell, before I forget: the Captain America and Avengers panels, the first is from Avengers #4, "Captain America joins the Avengers!" Written by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby. And it's damn expensive, so I just have it reprinted in Avengers Masterworks. The second is from Captain America #251, "The Mercenary and the Madman!" Written by Roger Stern, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Joe Rubinstein. Scanning out of a big thick trade is a pain, but Captain America: War & Remembrance is very much the first Cap trade you should buy. Or a Mark Waid one. Read more!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The post where I compare buying comics to heroin, and probably flog a metaphor into the dirt.

Pictures not scanning today, so we'll have to wait a day or two before we get into Captain America's (and possibly Mark Waid's) increasingly worrying forgetfulness, and why the Winter Soldier had a trunkful of Nazi memorabilia...seriously.

So, what then? Well, one thing I should mention is that I don't respond to comments very often, I very much appreciate them. And the other day, 'bandini2828' had a pretty good one on the topic of buying monthly floppy comics, or not:

Just stop buying comics. Give it a try...enjoy the hell out of your old ones, save some money, and build a model rocket or something in your spare time.

I went six months without buying CDs because I realized I wasn't really enjoying listening to anything as much as I was just used to going to to the record shop every payday.

Go six months without any new comics at won't die, and the world won't end, and it's a safe bet they'll still be around in August.
Plus, the withdrawl will make a great subject for the blog.

Bandini has a point there, as I too eventually fell of the CD habit as well. But my enjoyment of CD's reached a point where I wasn't enjoying them at all. But there's a lot of other things I've given up, some easily, some hard; and I don't want to lose my love of comics like that.

Some of you may be old enough to remember buying comics in grocery stores, which is where I read (and occasionally, purchased) the vast majority of my comics for over a decade. The direct market took a while to get to Montana, but it did eventually, and I remember buying an issue of Jon Sable, Freelance on my first trip to a comic book shop. (I was watching the short-lived TV show at the time. Pretty sure it was around #32.) Of course, by that point I was good and hooked on comics, but this was my first taste of the hard stuff.

There was a Hastings in Great Falls, Montana, that cleared out comics as cheap as forty-nine cents, and that's where I was introduced to Badger, then Nexus. There were at least three shops that regularly sold comics in Missoula when I started college there, and one pretty good shop there when I left. Over the years, I stopped getting comics at grocery or convenience stores, at least not regularly; but I hit a comic shop at least once a week. My collection would grow and grow, and occasionally I'd lend out comics never to be returned, or sell boxes of good comics and crap alike. (I think I miss the crap more, now that I'm blogging...)

And a comic shop has always been there. Some people probably regard the trip to the shop as a necessary evil--the only way to get the books, but all too often meaning a long drive to a dank store full of gaming manuals and crappy lighting and overpriced 90's Image books. Others may think of it as a meaningless ritual: a habit to be broken by switching over to trades, or online shopping, or god forbid, downloading.

But for me it's always been a reason to look forward to Wednesday. Even if I didn't have any new books, like I do this week, unless I somehow convince myself I need another Werewolf by Night revival...what is that, Greg Land? There's always quarter books and action figures or a title I don't buy consistently. (I think I'll get last month's Cable & Deadpool, featuring 'Pool asskicking Taskmaster again.) Maybe that last issue of Scud will finally come out. Who knows? (Is that coming as a single issue, or part of a collection? 'Cause I just need the single issue.)

And six months without new comics and not dying? Not if the last issue of Planetary comes out. Maybe I should just try to be less guilty about not buying crap.

I didn't pound the heroin metaphor as much as I expected, but I'm doing this on the fly and I'm ok with not comparing comic shops to needles...damnit!

For coming all this way, why not a Gene Colan panel?
No, the Subterraneans are the bad guys here. Really, I know it seems hard to believe, but Iron Man was the hero this time.
Sometimes, what I want from comics is pretty simple, really.

From Tales of Suspense #88, reprinted in Marvel Double Feature #5, "Beyond All Rescue!" Written by Stan Lee, pencils by Gene Colan, inks by Frank Giacoia. I don't think I have any long runs of Gene Colan's work, except for the Essential Tomb of Dracula and Nathaniel Dusk (which we'll come back to), but I think I have a ton of his work. I had a really strong image of a Colan-drawn Moon Knight, and was racking my poor brain to remember where I had seen it...duh, Avengers #211. So much for blogging to better remember comics. Read more!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Since we didn't have a babysitter this weekend, we haven't gotten out to see Ghost Rider yet. The report I saw on the news said it had grossed $44 million or so, which isn't a bad sign, but I was hoping to see it before another week of the internet bagging on it. I'm not expecting Shakespeare, and to be honest, if it's shiny and moves fast that's a step up from nine out of ten actual Ghost Rider comics I remember.

Even though I haven't seen the movie yet, the toys are here and there, if you're lucky, and I picked up Caretaker last week.
It's tough to look intimidating with Chief Wiggum's handguns, but Caretaker might pull that off.
Caretaker comes with a removable hat, and a bigass hellfire shotgun thing. Does he have it in the movie, is it a holdover from the 90's Ghost Rider/Blaze comics, or is it just a typical projectile-launching accessory? Again, haven't seen it yet, so your guess is as good as mine. I was positive I had a couple of non-flaming .45's for him, but all I found right away were Chief Wiggums and Lou's from the Simpsons. Eh, close enough.

There's a great review for it over at, which did a pretty good job of selling me on it. The one thing poor 'Taker is missing is a flaming horse to ride on, so I did the best I could for him:
Haven't seen it yet, but I defy you to tell me that wouldn't make the movie better.
...and I have only a vague idea, since I bought him at a garage sale, but I think that's Strider, from the He-Man line? Or maybe not.

Also, my wife's been reading the Secret, from Oprah's show, and thinking all positive, so yesterday she achieved one of her short-term goals and bought a Miniature Pinscher. She named him, 'Sugarpie,' after Anna Nicole Smith's dog. I told you she was a big fan...she also is curious, with Anna and her son dead, what happened to Sugarpie. If Sugarpie is dead, it's a trifecta, Sherlocks. For that matter, a big 'Hi there!' to anyone misdirected here from Google; we talk about comic books here! Wait, come back!
I'm trying to convince my wife he's not a minpin, just a very young regular pinscher that will eventually be bigger than I am.
Tiny dog, which thankfully means tiny poop. The oldest is doing a great job watching and taking care, 'Sugarpie.' The youngest has discovered jealousy, and will hop on anyone's lap if the dog is on it. (Otherwise, he's liking the new dog fine.) And Sam, the bitey dog in the title, seems like an ogre in comparison, but is being nice too.

Now if I can just avoid stepping on the poor, rhinestone-collared bastard... Read more!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

If horse racing is the sport of kings, then surely a very good sport as well.
I swear, I honestly thought I heard 'radiate his shoes!' last night.
No post yesterday, since I took the oldest bowling, and he got to throw an assload of frames. Kid bowled like five full games at least. His arm held up pretty well, but towards the end his hand hurt too much to use the finger holes.

I am mildly surprised, although I've mentioned it a few times, I've never posted anything from Nexus before. Although it's publication history has been a bit erratic, it's been one of my favorite series since I was in high school. Just last year though, I finally got the third issue from Capitol Comics, with the Flexi-record insert. Now if I only had a record player...

I don't know if anyone remembers, but around 1991 or so, First Comics, still the publisher of the bulk of Nexus issues, was going to switch over from monthly floppy comics to quarterly original graphic novels. Or something. There was a distribution problem or licensing, and for one or more reasons it never panned out.
Trust me, the thigh-boots seem weird at first, then eventually you can't picture Nexus without them.
For those of you with an empty spot in your lives where Nexus should be, it's the story of Horatio Hellpop, agent of the alien Merk, given fusionkasting powers to kill mass-murderers. Throw into that telekinetic heads, a vast 25th century Soviet space empire, and one of the best supporting casts ever. And Steve Rude designs, influenced heavy by classic Space Ghost and Star Trek.
By the way, I've been trying to find Point Beer for years.  Thanks a lot, Baron.If you can spring for it, Nexus Archives are reprinting the series in a very sharp hardbound; but if you aren't sure, don't want to go in blind, or are merely cheap; back issues of Nexus Legends should be fairly easy to come by. New issues should be out this year, and should be well worth a try. Ideally, I'd like it if someone could produce a Nexus action figure, too; but no, we'll probably get Badrock and Diehard instead...

Today's panels are from Nexus: Alien Justice #3, "The Split" Written by Mike Baron, pencils by Steve Rude, inks by Gary Martin. Great looking package on that one from Dark Horse, and if you can find it, the back cover on that one is one of Rude's best. Read more!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Starbuck has a posse.No, that's not a typo...oh, get your head outta the gutter.

From Battlestar Galactica #1, written by Roger McKenzie, art by Ernie Colon. Why does Starbuck get a couple cute girls for his pit crew, with his name on their uniforms? Although, if anything ever happens to him, that would have to be extra-depressing for Team Starbuck there.

The Viper scenes were my favorite on the original Galactica, and I remember shamelessly running around the playground as a kid, pretending to be flying. I know I at least skimmed through the Marvel comic as a kid, but I don't think it knocked my socks off.

I also remember admitting to liking the Liefeld Awesome/Maximum/whatever issues from the 90's, but keep in mind I may have been, well, less than clearheaded on that one. Hard to recall how much Rob did for those, but it was a fair amount.

Hopefully tomorrow I'm picking up some more boxes, since my comics are, bluntly, a flarking mess right now. It may take some doing to get straightened out, but between that and a forthcoming upgrade to high-speed, I should be much more efficient on the blogging front. Or maybe much, much less; since I've never watched this 'YouTube' I've heard so much about...

Anyway, have a good weekend, and we'll see what, if anything, I slap up here. Hopefully, at least one good, long, and snappy review next week. Read more!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I just can't picture the Black Widow saying 'caper.' Ever.
Wouldn't Natasha think in Russian?  Maybe it's a translation issue.
From Uncanny X-Men #268, "Madripoor Nights" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Jim Lee, inks by Scott Williams.

I really do like this issue, although it's not very good. Reread it, and it starts to fray at the edges. Give it some more thought, and it just gets dicey. And Jim Lee's art is great, but I think this was around the time he started kind of drawing whatever he wanted to, and Claremont had to script his way around it. I imagine it would be frustrating: the X-Men were his baby for years, and now this new kid wants to draw this or that and gets his way. Makes me wonder if his tendency to, well, overwrite, is a result of wanting to take it back. Or, it may have even started as a way to force seemingly unrelated action shots into a cohesive narrative, but I may be reaching there.

In the opening sequence, set in 1941, rookie Captain America leaps into battle against ninjas. Cap's portrayed as a noob this whole issue, even though this would have been after he traded his triangular shield for his more traditional round one.

The ninjas acknowledge and respect Cap's fighting skill, while kicking his ass inside of four panels. Cap helpfully yells "My back!" when cut: your tax dollars at work there. Logan arrives to help Cap out.

Back in the present, Black Widow is getting her ass beat by ninjas too. One is apparently a line judge for the NFL on the weekends, because he catches her with about twenty yards of chain. Ninja chain, I guess. You know, you don't see that kind of ninja buy-in anymore: it's all too easy to put on your ninja hoodie and tabi boots or whatever, strap on a sword and some throwing stars and call it good. But carrying a good twenty-plus pounds of chain with you all day? That's determinination. And where does he even keep that, wrapped around his torso? You can't just throw it in a gym bag and go, you know. Ninjas today are lazy posers, I swear.

Where was I? Oh, since he wasn't running at full steam at the time, Wolverine has Jubilee and newly-Asian Psylocke help him save the injured Widow.

1941 again, in a bar that would probably be a great tribute to Terry and the Pirates if a. Jim Lee had used any sort of reference or b. the target audience had any idea what that was. Logan harasses Baron Strucker and his Nazi goon, until the midget bar owner Seraph makes him quit it. Why a midget white-haired female bar owner? Uh...seriously, why? Was that in Claremont's script (I'm betting yes) or something Lee just threw on the paper and let Chris figure it out? (Less likely, but not impossible.)

Gah, I really wish Grant Morrison had blown up Madripoor instead of With Genosha.

And, that's all I'm going to harsh on for this issue, partly because more pictures won't load, and partially because if I keep on it I'm going to break any enjoyment I have for this issue. This issue introduced the idea that the Black Widow was a child in WWII, which would have made her about 56, circa the present of 1990. Highly dubious, although Natasha is one of those characters that works best in a certain historical setting.

This would be a good place to discuss the sliding scale of Marvel time, and the weird holes it creates for characters more tied to real world events (like the Punisher and Vietnam, or the Widow and the Cold War), but that's a much bigger issue. Might have some more Black Widow stuff coming, though: I was kind of surprised at how many Black Widow appearances I stumbled across in short order, and I really liked her last two limited series.

I'm still trying to figure out how she ended up on the registration side, though. And Mighty Avengers. Anyone have an answer for that, throw it out there for me, eh? Read more!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Um...good for you, Herc.
Any happier, and that skirt's coming off.

Happy Valentine's Day, I guess...

There's no backgrounds in the above panel, but that's probably just as well, as I figure a good chunk of New York now knows if Hercules prefers boxers or briefs. Boxers or briefs if they're lucky. Herc's toga-skirt-thing is not unlike Supergirl's skirt: uncomfortably short, yet it somehow defends modesty regardless of gravity, motion, or camera angle. And Gilgamesh is rocking a similar look there too. Huh.

The Wife and I are off tonight for a romantic Valentine's Day movie...OK, we're going to go see Hannibal Rising. Yes, I'm quite aware it's probably not very good, but it's tradition. Before we had even met, we had both gone separately to see Hannibal in the theatres; and one of our first times hanging out I brought over Manhunter to watch. Yes, I'm super romantic, why?

Brushing her teeth, Wife points out on the first anniversary of us dating, we saw Red Dragon. What that says about, Happy Valentine's Day, and see you tomorrow!

From Quasar #29, "Having Her Baby" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencilled by Greg Capullo, inked by Harry Candelario. Read more!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Admittedly, not a sequence that showcases Chaykin's dialog skills.

From Midnight Men #2, story and art by Howard Chaykin, letters by John Workman.

This is going to be a little more gloomy than usual, I think, but I'm just 'thinking out loud' a bit to see where it goes. The other day, I went downstairs to get some comics out of my messy, messy basement. Among other things, I re-read Midnight Men, which was part of Marvel's Epic line, and their 'Heavy Hitters' launch. Most of those books are barely remembered now, which isn't to say they were bad, just not classic. And that was during a stretch when Marvel was trying to corner, or rather flood, the market. Indy books like Fish Police or Trouble with Girls were brought up to the big leagues, then promptly sent right back down when the market contracted. Good times.

Although I've been a fan of Howard Chaykin's for years (many, many years, if you count the amount of time I poured over his Star Wars adaptation), a lot of his work I picked up long after it was off the racks and into the back issue boxes: the Shadow, Blackhawk, the American Flagg! issues I've read. I did buy the singles of American Century and Challengers of the Unknown, though, and still think American Century was underrated and doomed--the direct market didn't seem to be the target audience for that one.

But then came Hawkgirl, which, even with Walt Simonson writing, was only OK for me, and I dropped it when I had to cut the budget. I didn't have the same level of distaste or mockery for it that a lot of bloggers/readers seemed to, but it wasn't firing on all cylinders either. I was kinda looking forward to Chaykin's New Avengers fill-in...until I flipped through it. Chaykin has a set style, and he drew Hank Pym in his 'asshole' style. I fell off the Civil War bandwagon pretty quickly...

Running over all that made me think about what I was buying. I dropped some books during a cash drought, and then was gunshy about picking new ones up. For some new limiteds, like Beyond!, Annihiliation, and Agents of Atlas; I decided to try that 'wait for the trade' thing. An idea that only works if you actually pick up the trade in question...we'll see how that goes.

There's other books that I would like to read, or should be reading: Cable & Deadpool, for example, although I would probably only buy the more Deadpool-centric issues. I take a similar approach to Uncanny X-Men, buying only issues with Nightcrawler; despite Brubaker doing an OK job on the Vulcan character, I kinda don't care. I dropped Daredevil before Brubaker picked it up, and now I'm thinking about getting it again. Ditto Criminal.

Over at DC, I've been occasionally reading Detective and Batman again, for what seems like the first time in years...since No Man's Land? No, I read some of that, then fell off entirely during Bruce Wayne: Criminal. The Justice League relaunch hasn't grabbed me, I tried the first issue of Creeper but it didn't take, and I've bought all the first issues of the Authority that I care to, thanks. (I thought Brubaker's Authority started great, lost steam, then broke its leg right before the finish line.)

In recent months, I've read the occasional issue of Legion of Super-Heroes and Catwoman and if I had more comic budget I would buy both more often. I may still try Scalped, since like a lot of Vertigo, it looks interesting and doomed.

I don't buy them consistently, but I seem to enjoy the all-ages Marvel Adventures line or Justice League Unlimited more than the regular universe books. Since they're almost always 'done-in-one,' those comics are more enjoyable because they can't take the scenic route; but then they sometimes don't have the same push to make you buy them every month.

Then, the other publishers...where if I want something, it seems I just buy it, but fortunately most are published on a staggered schedule, like Hellboy/B.P.R.D, Fell, or Warren Ellis' Avatar work. Planetary is almost over...Gah, what else am I reading? I am getting excited for the eventual return of Nexus, one of my favorite comics ever.

Maybe it's just my mood, but looking at the DC and the Marvel solicits this week, and the new figures premiered at the 2007 Toy Fair, and there just didn't seem to be as much stuff I couldn't live without as previous years. I'm having a hard time telling if that's because I'm more discerning with my hard-earned dollars, or if everything just sucks now. Something to consider, once I get my overtime check, since I think I've earned a bit of a splurge. We'll see what I end up with... Read more!

Monday, February 12, 2007

And we're back...
This whole comic is super dark, and I don't know if it's a style choice or a printing mishap.  Maybe both.
Tomorrow. The wife needed the computer, and it was running a bit slow, and I hadda pick up some Nightcrawler stuff on ebay, and I'm almost done with my freakout.

That kid...he waits until he gets a bad diagnosis, or a therapist says he needs work, and then he starts doing something new like use a spoon or hug. I'm still worried about his head, but there's something going on in there. Still waiting for the MRI, and I would love nothing more than some doctor to tell me his delays are from eating paint chips (that's curable, right?) or he's just really lazy.

Should be new comic-related nonsense tomorrow, barring disaster; although I have to admit I was planning on dogging it a bit for Valentine's Day...

From Marvel Mangaverse: Fantastic Four #1, written by Adam Warren, art by Armada: pencils by Keron Grant, inks by Rob Stull, color by Chris Walker. Read more!

Friday, February 09, 2007

Off topic: Out of office.

This afternoon, I was trying to get ahold of my wife, because Anna Nicole died and she was a fan. Has all the DVD's of her dumb show and all. Couldn't get through for hours, but I figured it was just her phone, since it had dropped me a couple of times already that morning.

When I finally reached her, she was bawling. For a moment, I wondered how she had heard about it, but she was really crying. She had been at an assessment for our youngest son. It wasn't good. Not life-threatening, but not good. Like so bad that a diagnosis of autism would be a step up at this point. He still needs to have an MRI, but even best case he's looking at a ton of therapy, occupational, physical, speech.

I called and cancelled the wife's appointments for the afternoon, then called my folks, and she called her sisters. The youngest was beat from tests and therapy, and was taking a nap; while the oldest tried to understand and cheer us up. It was pretty much the darkest afternoon of my life. The wife's terrified that he's never going to talk or be normal or fall in love, he'll always just be that weird retard you see and think only his mom could love him. I've got that and I wonder if this poor kid will ever get to enjoy any of the crap I enjoyed, like cartoons and comics and games; or if he's going to be a giant baby, with us still feeding him and changing his diapers when he's 30.

When the youngest woke up, he had his milk and a bit of cereal he got out of the pantry himself. He won't or can't or doesn't need to ask, when he wants something he either gets it himself or screams. That sinking sensation that this may be as far as your child goes, that this might be his level; well, that feeling trumps out any sort of hope that this might be something he can work through, that it's not as bad as all that, that maybe the therapy will help. It doesn't seem very goddamn likely at this point, but maybe.

Enough. All I can do, is love my son, and help him be the best he can be. Even though my chest feels like a brick's in it, I can't give up on him yet. Not, "I can't because society frowns on giving up on children;" I mean, I just can't see this being the end for him. MRI, therapy, stem cells if it comes to that. Until it's over, it's not over.

Ahem. So, I'll be taking a day or two off from comics, sorry. Not long--I need the outlet, and thinking about what tools Iron Man and Green Arrow are, or how much cooler Blue Beetle is than Batman, or why Morbius is totally underrated; all of that is just the break I need to not explode, but to try again. In the meantime, check the sidebar: Two Guys Buying Comics is back today, I think, and there's lots of other good stuff there. Be back soon. Read more!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Like being sprayed by a fire hose, if you had a fire hose that sprayed feta cheese.
'Ah! Refreshing!'
From Defenders #4, volume 2, "Ride of the Valkyrie" Written by Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen, art by Ron Frenz and Scott Hanna. All suspension of disbelief is shot in the foot when the Sub-Mariner doesn't immediately pummel the Hulk. Or die. Maybe both. Instead, Namor storms (well, flies) off in a huff; to retake Atlantis from Attuma. Again.

My overtime should be done for the time being. I go to work when it's dark, but I was actually off before it got dark again today! After a long couple of weeks, I have time again to walk the dog, play with the kids, exercise, and maybe even read some comics and blog.


I wonder what's on TV?

Just kidding. Later this week, we'll take a look at one of DC Comics most reviled characters rendered by one of their most beloved artists, like Crisis on Infinite Earths only not, and possibly proof Tony Stark was a bit of a dick before all this Civil War nonsense. And a really snarky post about the state of comics today, or at least what I'm reading or not right now. Hopefully with less bad grammar than I've had lately...

EDIT: It occurred to me later, but would the Hulk have bad breath? Or would all that gamma radiation kill all the germs that cause halitosis, body odor, gas? Or would he have gamma-powered stink? Either way, the Hulk's breath and spit up there has to be uncomfortably warm and flemmy and...yuck. Still, if you have a guess, let me know: I would think the gamma radiation would leave the Hulk germ-free, but in terms of the comics it could go either way. Read more!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The awkward intersection of comic logic and movie logic.

I shouldn't even blame Hal Jordan for this one: for this first issue of Green Lantern vs. Aliens, Ron Marz is trying to get the plot from point A (flashback with classic GL Hal) to point B (current timeline with new kid Kyle), using various Green Lanterns.

It is nice to see Hal with a Pro Bowl assortment: Katma, Kilowog, Green Man, Salaak, and Tomar Re. At the time this issue came out, it was pretty much the height of Hal's nostalgia, pre-Spectre, and most of the other Lanterns were dead. (The only exception was Salaak, I think.)
If we're all here, who's guarding the damn universe? Cadets?
With six of the best Green Lanterns (well, five and Tomar Re. Way to save Krypton!) at the top of their game, there shouldn't be any problem wiping the Aliens (xenomorphs, Giger's creations, bugs; whatever you want to call them in story). Except that this is the first issue of four, which means some wrinkle needs to be added.
Here's a helpful tip: if Kilowog and renowned cranky bastard Salaak think you should kill them, he's probably right.
So, Hal defends the Aliens as not evil but just killers; which I don't buy. He convinces the other GL's to go along with his plan without a fight, and they take the Aliens and dump them on Mogo, the planet Green Lantern.

How do Green Lanterns agree on anything? I mean, if willpower is their main attribute, that's going to translate into steadfast stubbornness in some of them, isn't it? If not most.
Hal also left a cooler full of Coors empties, a half eaten sandwich, and some condom wrappers on Mogo. Somewhere, a Green Lantern Indian is crying.
Maybe you should ask Mogo first, if he's interested in having bitey, acid-filled monsters infest him? Granted, the Aliens can't hurt Mogo, but it would have to be like Hal deliberately gave Mogo toenail fungus or something equally gross, unsightly, and contagious. Moreover, suppose someone else, like other GL's, innocent refugees or travellers, pretty much anyone that doesn't lay their eggs in your chest; needed to land on Mogo? (Pretty obviously, that's going to happen in the next issue or so...)

I haven't read the rest of this series, but I know Kyle ends up fighting the Aliens, continuing his proud tradition of cleaning up Hal's messes. I like Hal, but this is just too stupid. Not to be xenophobic, but the Aliens are monsters! Monsters, man! Get a stick and kill it! If your apartment had roaches, you'd kill them, right? Especially giant acid-filled roaches with extra teeth and a drool problem. The only plausible explanation, aside from Hal getting hit in the head a whole lot, is that he watched the Star Trek episode with the Horta 20 minutes before he left the house...

On the bright side, the art in this is crisp and bright, and we've got Green Arrow and Black Canary in a short guest shot. This has been Green Lantern versus Aliens #1, a Dark Horse/DC presentation, written by Ron Marz, pencils by Rick Leonardi, inks by Mike Perkins. Read more!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

I wanted to make a 'bughunt, man, game over!' joke, but I haven't seen Aliens in a while.
Foo. Now I wanna watch Aliens.
From Marvel Knights #6, "Reckoning" Written by Chuck Dixon, pencils by Ed Barreto, inks by Klaus Janson. I skimmed through the first series of that book the other day, and I want to put together the second so I can re-read that. I liked Dixon's better, or maybe just remember it better. Since I haven't read the new Punisher's War Journal yet, these series was the last time I saw the Punisher in the Marvel Universe proper.

This particular issue was a Maximum Security crossover: aliens decide to use earth as a prison, and dump a bunch of dangerous bad guys from Marvel's past there, and Bishop from the X-Men books, for some reason...I read a few of the crossover issues but missed the main series somehow. I may be completely off here, but in my skull Genesis from DC and this hit about the same time, and both derailed the crossover machines for a while. (I'm pretty sure Maximum Security may not have been great, but it had to be better than Genesis. Bet the farm.)

Frank figures he's got a crackhouse, and instead finds an alien monster turning crackheads into zombie slaves. Even though I wouldn't trade the Ennis version for Dixon's, he does have some good lines. And for good measure, Shang-Chi fights Zaran, who's surprisingly bad-ass for someone who used to be in Batroc's Brigade; and Moon Knight buys his way onto the team. (Looking at Moon Knight's current series, you can draw the line from him at the top of his game, rich and getting a bit lazy; to where he starts in 'the Bottom.')

Anyway, not a bad little series, maybe analogous to a Champions series for the year 2000. Keep an eye out, and you might find some issues on the cheap. Read more!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Some 'Ultimate' Ultron; that's not even an A-cup.
Such bony arms and thighs. He should eat more.
Admittedly, the above isn't even my favorite Ultron model; he has a better design in the crotchless Ultron-6...
No snide commentary here, except I really like Sal Buscema's art on this moreso than his later work.
By now most of you have probably seen the solicits for Mighty Avengers #2 and it's female-Ultron cover. (I found it over at Comics And... if you haven't.) And probably like most of you, I thought it was no doubt a borderline moronic idea meant to give Frank Cho two more boobs to draw...

But, I'll admit I could very well be wrong on that.

Consider: there was a discussion a while back at Dance of the Puppets regarding longtime Dr. Who villains the Cybermen. Not to bag on the old show's "special" effects, but the old Cybermen looked like robots made of cardboard boxes, tinfoil, and tubing. Sexless. The new, Cyberwoman? Attractive young woman dressed in tinfoil with a fair amount of exposed skin. Sexy. Why the difference?

OK, yeah, young male demographic. But if you think in terms of the story, that, and a lot of similar nonsense, could be written off as psychological warfare. Previously, when Ultron attacked, he was a pissed off, insect-looking robot; with antennae and that mouth that looked like a can opener. (Or is that just Annihilus?) In such a situation, you or I or the Avengers would go with our first instincts, i.e. Kill it!

But an Ultron that looks like a supermodel, or even just like a human female, could possibly get that second of hesitation that it can exploit. For example, Iron Man may falter, only for a second, before unleashing a full repulsor blast in a face that looks like he should be taking it to dinner. And for a computer mind like Ultron's, that second may be all the time he needs.

This idea might be from the old Alex Ross Terminator: the Burning Earth miniseries, but I haven't read it in maybe what, fifteen years or more? (Holy sod!) Anyway, I'm still not sure I'm going to part with any cash regarding Mighty Avengers, but I'm not going to condemn it without reading it. Today.

From Avengers #68, "...And We Battle for the Earth!" Written by Roy Thomas, art by Sal Buscema. Reprinted in Marvel Super Action #29. Read more!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

No blog today!

Like most people, I'll be watching football today.
I'm sure you could watch soccer without superpowered mutants, but I don't know why.
No, not that kind, the good version!
How did Reed get such a good education at Ben's school? And isn't he a bit older?
So, have a good Super Sunday, and enjoy the game!
Where I'm from, 'moving the pile' has a very different connotation.
Probably tomorrow: insane ramblings about Avengers, new and old. Or something.

Nightcrawler page from Excalibur #96, "Fireback" Written by Warren Ellis, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Bob Wiacek. Fantastic Four panels reprinted in Marvel's Greatest Comics #27, "Calamity on the Campus!" Written by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Chic Stone. Originally from Fantastic Four #35. Read more!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Sometimes, what I want from comics is pretty simple.
That's like twelve skulls cracked in one panel.  Love it.

Squeaking in just under a 'scheduled outage' tonight, so more on this topic tomorrow, sorry. Art from Avengers #69, "Let the Game Begin" Written by Roy Thomas, art by Sal Buscema. Read more!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Time for another pulse-pounding, senses-shattering, action packed Marvel Star Trek panel!
Geez, Spock, it's a pretty standard stunt.
Between watching the revamped original series, the animated box set, and Comics 101's Professor Tipton's announcement of a new comic (and Gold Key recaps!), Star Trek has been on my mind lately. Today's panels are from Marvel's first run of Trek comics; they would try again around 1996. Of course, lots of companies have put out various Star Trek comics: Gold Key, DC, Malibu, you could add IDW and probably Wildstorm to that list as well.

One thing I wonder about those comics: do they appeal to the larger group of Trek fans overall, or just to the smaller subset of Trek fans that are also comic fans? Are the comics profitable, after you factor in licensing dues to Paramount? How much editorial interference is there from Paramount? Is there less now that Trek is kind of at a low ebb? Is a licensed property like this going to be made by fans, as it cuts into the profit margin to bring big-names to the table? I don't want to sound disparaging--I'll probably buy the Klingon language version, for god's sake. I have a big box full of random-ass Star Trek comics spanning the decades, and that brings us to this issue:

Apparently, when a comic's unbagged and moved like 20 times over 26 years, it's not considered GCD-pretty.
Before anyone goes off, "Hey, Frank Miller was mistreating comic book women back then even," let me assure you it totally makes sense in the context of the story. Honest.

Star Trek #5, "The Haunting of the Enterprise!" Written by Mike W. Barr (of Camelot: 3000 and some good Batman stuff), art by Dave Cockrum (Uncanny X-Men, duh, and a fan of Trek) and Klaus Janson (inker of tons of great stuff). No offense to anyone who's worked on Trek before or since, but that's a pretty A-list team. They don't bring the A-game, but even so.

I don't have the previous issue, so we're starting mid-stream: the Enterprise was transporting a prisoner and an ambassador to a planet in Klingon space that wanted to join the Federation. Said ambassador is killed "by a being who appeared to be Dracula," they find a haunted house floating in space, and inside the house? Klingons. As usual here at Random Happenstance, we're just going to hit the ground running and go from there.

The Klingon's "warning shot" kills an Andorian ensign on the first page, and Kirk responds by stunning one of the Klingons, which seems a little tame. Eye for an eye! As a brawl breaks out, McCoy scans the young, amnesiac woman they found in the house; and finds the readings...strange. The Klingons smash a chair over Spock's head and beam out with him.

On the Klingon ship, the Klingon captain explains to Spock that while the Enterprise's crew was expendable, Spock's knowledge of the ship was considered valuable. He also alludes to the secret weapon they are testing, which looks like Professor X in Space. Hmm.
Nice establishing shot, although I'm sad the haunted house looks better maintained than my house.
Back on the Enterprise, Kirk questions their prisoner, the alien Raytag. Raytag had warned them before, but apparently not very strongly. The Klingons then fire phasers to disable the Enterprise's warp drive, then stop. Kirk knows they plan to keep them there, but not why.

McCoy's readings of the amnesiac girl turn up startling results in the computer, but before he can tell anyone, monsters start appearing all over the ship: zombies, demons, the Martian ships from the old movie version of War of the Worlds...

Back on the Klingon ship, Spock calls the captain on his boast of an "all-powerful new weapon." So of course the captain shows him: a thought-enhancer device, and a Federation prisoner attached to it: "He was a horror film archivist and his specialized knowledge proved useful to us. We offered him the honor of serving the Klingon a living weapon!"

...Keep in mind, the Klingons had only recently picked up their updated appearance--bony-browed foreheads and black leather armor. Most of the characteristics associated with them like their sense of honor, ritualized combat, etc. weren't really developed yet; so while this seems like a pretty wacky scheme for them, it wasn't completely out of line from their TV days.

The Klingons had to let the archivist create the image of his dead wife before they could drug him into their control. Then they use his mind to generate the monsters, and they reconstructed a space station to look like a haunted house. Bwuh? Well, in for a penny, I guess. The Klingon captain explains they needed a receptor device to broadcast the monsters, which Spock deduces was implanted in the prisoner Raytag. Kind of a long way to go for that, huh? Spock is left under guard, but convinces the guard the archivist seems ill, and offers to take a look at him.

On the bridge of the Enterprise, as Kirk and security crewmen fire phasers in one of the more sensitive areas of the ship, McCoy says the girl's scan readings are almost identical to the monsters'. Kirk doesn't know about that, and the girl doesn't know anything about it either. Looking at this issue now, it really seems like Kirk is thinking with his crotch...
Damn it Bones!
Spock convinces his guard to let him examine the archivist, which lets him get close enough for a mindmeld. (old-school Trek shortcut #1: when in doubt, go with the mindmeld.) He sends a message to Kirk to "destroy" the girl. Kirk wonders if that was a Klingon trick, but McCoy knows the truth, and phasers her down, instantly waking up the archivist.
What's Klingonese for 'holy crap!'?
The monsters disappear, only to reappear on the Klingon ship, where they commence busting the place up. In the Enterprise brig, Raytag dies of psychic feedback. And Spock knocks out his guard with a nerve pinch, frees the archivist, and escapes with him and the thought-enhancer device. All without breaking a sweat. They beam back to the Enterprise, which then leaves the Klingons to stew in their own mess, and one page for the denouement.

First, what the hell happened in the future to make horror-film archivists both vital parts of society and able to land hot blondes? There's your science-fiction story, because I could buy one or the other...

This story also falls under the old science-fiction saw of a perfectly good secret weapon or master plan, that goes to hell with the use of (or on) the wrong test subject. The secret weapon is then shelved forever, even though it would kick ass if used correctly. (Come to think of it, I was going to harp on this with that Silver Surfer panel from yesterday: When he was imprisoned on earth, every time he managed to get away, he would end up back; but then wouldn't try the same escape again.) Admittedly, this seems like a completely out-of-character plan for the Klingons now--too esoteric high-tech, not hand-on violent or 'honorable.'

Hmm, now I'm in the mood for more Star Trek comics, although I'm not sure I'll blog them out. I did particularly enjoy Marvel's second run, or at least to put this? Less directly-tied-in titles, Early Voyages, with Captain Pike and young Spock and no Archer, and Starfleet Academy, probably the finest comic ever featuring Nog. Still, Marvel's first run had "Spock the Barbarian." Tough act to follow... Read more!