Monday, April 30, 2007

Be Sure to Miss!
The Bizarro Legion is far less terrifying than the front cover of this one, believe me.
Guff. Running behind a little already this week, since yesterday I helped the Wife paint the bathroom. She had me do the taping, and said it would be 'totally easy.' Of course, it totally wasn't, and ate up a lot of time I would've spent blogging or taking pictures or, probably, watching the Venture Brothers and sleeping.

Later this week my parents and my sister and her family will be up here, and it's the Oldest Son's birthday; so who knows how timely any of this will be; but down the line we've got my favorite Legion of Super-Heroes origin, the political campaign and debate process with Thor and his friends, more Yellowjacket and the Wasp action/adventure/dysfunction, and maybe a little piece from the third-best run of Deadpool if something works out for that.

Red eye reduction my Aunt Fanny.Pretty sure if the Youngest could talk, he'd ask why the 30th Century is so dated and out of style. From the back cover of The Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #57, by Pat Broderick: his signature's backwards, next to 'Bizzaro' (it's misspelled on the back cover, which is actually sort of fitting!) Cosmic Boy. Read more!

Friday, April 27, 2007

First impressions are important, and that's why Hawkman sucks and Yellowjacket rules.
I swear, this was intended to be one of the first things I used for this blog, and I'm just getting around to it now.
This is why I keep harshing on Hawkman's wings: as near as I can tell, this appearance in All-Star Comics #65 was my first exposure to Hawkman, and he spends most of the issue sans wings, which pretty much reduces him to an older guy in a luchadore mask. Although, he's more composed than I would've thought, losing the one thing that seems to define the character. I sorta expected Carter, Katar, whatever, to curl up in a ball and weep openly.

(Incidentally, thanks to this issue, when I think of Superman, I think of the gray-templed Earth-2 version first; and think of Power Girl and Star-Spangled Kid as the new guard.)
I remember trying to draw that Kirby Krackle as a kid.  It's hard!
Very often, your first impression of a character is going to be how you remember them forever. For example, the first time I saw Hank Pym, Yellowjacket, he was blown up. No, not there, here: Marvel Team-Up #59, "Some Say Spidey Will Die By Fire. ..Some Say By Ice!" Written by Chris Claremont, pencilled by John Byrne, inked by Dave Hunt.

If I may sound like a total geek for just a moment: I would totally wear the Yellowjacket outfit. Especially since that's where the powers are--when exactly did Hank and Jan, the Wasp, 'internalize' their powers? Initially, they used gas to shrink and, um, stingers to sting people, I guess. For the Yellowjacket identity, Hank's put together a grab-bag of powers: control insects, shrinking and growing, flight, bio-electric disruptors. I suspect writers thought the initial gimmicks for the character weren't enough, and added more and more.

Then, since that didn't seem to be working, writers, probably Jim Shooter, started fiddling with the character of Hank Pym. The first appearences of Yellowjacket I read portrayed him as a hardcore science-hero, and an Avenger of renown; a guy who was more comfortable in the lab than with people, but also wasn't above fighting the good fight himself. Then the instability started and the next thing you know, Hank's hitting Jan, taking Paxil, and seems a lot more flawed and incompetant than his teammates, or his confederates Reed Richards and Tony Stark.

Hank's on the comeback trail now, or living on borrowed time. Could go either way.
Much cooler than seeing Cap smack him in the face, or being Reed and Tony's errand boy.
Now, keep in mind that since this is one of the earliest superhero comics I remember reading, I didn't know about Doc Ock, the Green Goblin, or any of Yellowjacket's lameass rouges' gallery. So Equinox totally blew my mind. As the issue sets up, Equinox had previously fought Iceman and the Human Torch to a standstill, because he had both their powers, and a head shaped like Wolverine's mask! I remember making Equinox out of red and white Legos as a kid, and alternating the colors on the top and the bottom.

Equinox does have the unfortunate honor of being yet another comic character that's black, but you can't tell because of his powers or mutation or whatever. But, next time we'll look at the plot, the revenge of the Wasp, and a slightly creepy birthday present from Hank.

Hawkman picture from All-Star Comics #65, "The Master Plan of Vandal Savage" Dialog by Paul Levitz, plot and art by Wally Wood. Read more!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

My toy buying habits lately? All over the map.
Best family portrait ever!
What was more difficult to explain to the kids?

A. Why that girl has a gun for a leg.

B. That Elvis really is dead and that mummies very rarely suck the life out of the elderly. Like hardly ever.

C. The "history" between Yellowjacket and the Wasp.

D. That Captain America will be back. Probably. Eventually.

Bit of a placeholder today, as I'm working on a longer look at Yellowjacket's first appearance, or at least the first comic I have with him, which is better.

Today at the Comic Book Shop, picked up the most recent issue of Wisdom: it's the second-to-last issue, so it's setting the board for the conclusion, but the sales are so bad at this point your comic shop probably isn't even shelving a copy now. Anyway, this issue wasn't as good as the rest of the series, but it probably had to be done. Buy the trade, please.

Out of the quarter box: random recent issues of Legion of Super-Heroes and Marvel Universe; another issue each of limiteds Thor: Blood Oath and Spider-Man/Human Torch (haven't got the whole set of either yet, but working on it); the last two issues of X-Statix; and the terrible Black Panther 2099. Man, I know Kirkman's done good work, but I have not liked his Marvel stuff at all, and that's all I've really read.

So. Tomorrow: Yellowjacket, and the most hardcore villain of 1977! Unless I get distracted. Read more!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Today, it's Kirby-style monsters vs. Image-style inks. No one wins.
I went with the version of this panel without dialog.  'Cause I'm there for you like that.
Sometimes, when trying to explain why I'm so excited for a particular comic (or movie, or show, or whatever) I believe I have been guilty of the sin of hype. I have had friends read books that I swore up and down were better and more exciting than Darth Vader fighting Godzilla with the spirit of Bruce Lee waiting to take on the winner; and come away a little underwhelmed.

Well, no hype this time. No, this is about me falling victim to the windup, only to be crushed when I looked up the delivery.

A couple weeks ago, I lucked into a cheap copy of Marvel Monsters: From the Files of Ulysses Bloodstone and the Monster Hunters, a charming pseudo-reference guide to your...Marvel Monsters, yeah. If you don't know Fin Fang Foom from Groot, then you get the hell off my blog! Close the door behind you!

Oh, just kidding. It's a dense little book though, surprisingly text heavy; although that may have been done to cheap out on art. Elsa Bloodstone pulls together various accounts of giant monsters and weird crap, pieced together from accounts by Reed Richards, Henry Pym, Dr. Druid, and even mentions Nightcrawler vs. the Son of Krakoa. Somewhat disappointingly, it's not written in the same super-ass-kicker British-accented voice she would have in Nextwave. (Admittedly, Elsa's monster-fighting origin in Nextwave was a case of a good joke trumping continuity porn, as it were.)

One case mentioned multiple times in this handbook involved our friend Rorgg, king of the Spider-Men; Grottu, a Blip, the Two-Headed Thing, and Zzutak. And the Fantastic Four. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Based on the description, I was wondering if it was one of the Marvel Monster one-shot issues (like the sublime Fin Fang Four) or something, but it turned out to be Fantastic Four Unlimited #9. Nice Claudio Castellini cover, but I actually had this issue in my basement, and had read before, since I got it out of the quarter bins maybe a couple of months ago. It's not very encouraging that the handbook description was more memorable than the actual issue, is it?
Between that title and the camera squarely focused on Man-Thing's...backside, I'm going to get labeled questionable content.
You'd think I'd remember a title like "The Shape of Things that Came" too, if only to giggle. Written by Roy Thomas, art by Herb Trimpe, inks by Carmen Imperato. None of whom I blame for this: this was from 1994. The Image-ization of comics was in full effect, and I think Trimpe was having his arm twisted to deliver a more "hawt" style of pencils. The issue was also set when Reed was missing, presumed KIA with Doom; and Ant-Man was his replacement. And Wolverine had sliced part of the Thing's face off. Yeah, they were kind of working under a handicap here, and may have been forced to shoehorn the story into continuity; but I'm not sure that excuses the Thing's scars, which look like an afterthought or correction made in the inks.

(It may sound odd now, but Ant-Man replaced Mr. Fantastic for two years. And, back in the day, Reed lost his powers for over two years. I think She-Hulk's term replacing Ben was a little longer than that. Does anyone think the current FF roster with Storm and Black Panther is going to be that long?)

On to the plot: on their way to Soho, the FF run across the Molten Man-Thing (not the swampy, mouthless one, which is just as well for me) stomping down the street. After a brief skirmish, the monster disappears, and the Four are introduced to Frank Johnson, who created the monster with with a magic set of paints, to hype up the grand opening of his Museum of the Monstrous and Strange. Even though the cops are a little suspicious Frank caused the monster; you know, in the Marvel Universe, I don't think this even qualifies as reckless endangerment, possibly not even a disturbance.
You're not invisible, Sue, your eyes are just closed.
Guh. That art's just not good. And I like Herb Trimpe. His Hulk work was steady and straightforward, and his Savage Tales strip was really not too shabby.

Like the monsters in this issue, Frank previously had appeared in one of Marvel's pre-superhero stories, in Frank's case Strange Tales #88 . This is probably like Ashley Simpson talking about her old nose, but all those Kirby/Ditko monster stories are in continuity at Marvel. Sometimes I love that the Punisher exists in the same universe as Zzutak, the thing that shouldn't exist. Still, this whole issue reads better if you've seen at least some of those old stories: I hesitate to call them 'classics,' since while they are endearing, they're formulaic even for comics.

Thomas does give you the bulletpoint recaps: Frank was a fantasy painter given a magic palette of paints by "an Aztec elder obsessed with restoring their ancient empire," that could bring what he painted to life. And monsters would be the first thing to come to mind, huh? You wouldn't want to paint Halle Berry or anything? Either Frank's really devoted to his museum, or, judging from the monsters' color schemes, all the paint he had left was either crayon green or burnt ochre.
The Thing can't really help his name, any more than people named 'Johnson' or 'Woody'...and I can't stop giggling to keep typing.
So, Frank's lured the FF to his museum's opening and to meet his son, Cal. After a brief recap of the monsters, visitors begin to arrive, and Sue elects for the FF to stay. Things go swimmingly, including a Spider-Man cameo where he explains the science of Rorgg to a lost Ant-Man; until Scott sees an Aztec and gets jumped. Even for a superhero, it's not really fair to expect Ant-Man to singlehandedly beat up four or five very large Aztec warriors; but he's embarrassed to be sent running to hide behind the rest of the team.
There's a disclaimer about exactly this on the back of the tickets.
In short order, the head Aztec, Yucoya-Tzin, the "lord who creates," reawakens the monsters, coming as a surprise to hopefully no one there. I'm not sure if the monsters were brought back to life, or merely reanimated somehow, but they all act like their old selves and are generally pissed about being dead or defeated. Using the old trade partners routine, the Four eventually defeat them; but the Aztecs are gone with Frank and Cal.

In Johnson's office, Johnny finds a 'Z' traced into the dust on his desk...oh, that's the least believable thing yet in this issue: I'm a freakin' slob, and I don't have a layer of dust thick enough to leave messages in at my desk. Even my toy shelves don't collect enough dust to leave a message on...although I do feel compelled now to tidy up a bit. Anyway, where do you think the Aztecs are going, Poland?

It's 'Z' for 'Zzutak,' as Yucoya-Tzin forces Frank to reawaken the monster. Don't ask how they got from NYC to the Yucatan Peninsula in the turn of a page, since the FF arrives right behind them. (The FF have a pogo plane and other transport, though...) As the fighting starts, Frank knows the Four could be in trouble, since as a thing brought to 'life' by magic paint, Zzutak doesn't have internal organs or weak spots. He tries to use the paint to bring back the monster he'd previously created to defeat Zzutak, but it was buried too deeply. Frank convinces Scott, who persuades the rest of the team, to let their minds go blank and give the unnamed monster their strength. Poor nameless monster. Still it defeats Zzutak and the two are buried again.

So, the Aztec revival gets put on hold until Apocalypto, I guess. Aside from the occasional cameo or alternate-reality appearance, this would about do it for the Marvel Monsters until the 2005 specials. Even more oddly, the specials, including Fin Fang Four, appear to be in continuity; making it weird to reconcile the Reed Richards that clones Thor and is an apologist for McCarthyism with the one that plays chess with Fin Fang Foom and employs Gorgilla as a window washer. Read more!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

In case you thought Supergirl was mishandled now...well, yeah, probably.
Superman wouldn't have to take that, but it's also extremely unlikely Supes would actually snap and fold that cop into an accordian. Kara at least entertains the notion.
I got The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #11 and #12 out of the quarter bin, and while Gil Kane is awesome, I was kind of wondering how he got away with basically the same cover twice in a row. Looking at GCD, Supergirl didn't have a great 1983 for covers: #7 and #8 both have Supergirl looking down on the action from a distance; and try to imagine the cover for issue #5 drawn by Adam Hughes, or much worse, Michael Turner.
Um, put them in fetish versions of your costume and sell them online? DC Direct may have beat you to it, but still.
The story features Kara, seemingly dead of an exotic radiation poisoning, her body being examined by generic evil organization the Council. Lazy, but what do you expect from a group headed by the Chairman, a guy in a red costume and...a chair. At Marvel, it would've been C.O.U.N.C.I.L. or something...Chronal Omnipresence Union, Northern Canada Independent League. Crap, that sucks. Kara gets upgraded from mostly dead to feeling crappy, barely able to heat-vision a couple of guards during her escape.

The Council sets their Supergirl clones on the trail, all six of them; which sounds impressive, except they didn't have enough "material" and ended up with six twelve-inch tall copies. (I suppose they could've made one clone a fifth larger than the original, or maybe one regular size and a spare twelve-incher...) Since the clones have all her powers and she's currently barely super at all, it doesn't go well for Supergirl; and they smash up a bit of her cousin's Fortress of Solitude.

I did kind of like the last page of the story, where during the wrap up, a recurring (I guess) cop character gives Kara the hassle because he doesn't approve of vigilantes, and she tells him where he can cram it. At the time, I'm pretty sure Superman didn't have to put up with any police blowback. It may be telling that Kara gets lip from the same cops that probably would've kissed the hem of Superman's cape; but it's just as in character that she doesn't take it quietly either.

Lois Lane was the back-up feature for Supergirl at the time, and the back-ups don't have any of the charming insanity of her old solo book. Hell, they don't have any charm at all. Moreover, it seems like DC either put their girl-characters in a ghetto together, or put all their girly eggs in one basket: wouldn't it have been smarter to have Supergirl's back-up feature be, I don't know, the Viking Commando or something, more of a draw to male readers? Then, keep Lois as a backup in Action maybe, to pull more female readers there? Well, like a lot of things I say, that probably sounds reasonable but is completely wrong, and I don't know where these hypothetical girl readers were coming from anyway, and I'm Monday-morning quarterbacking an unsuccessful comic from 1983.

Panels from the Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #12, "Guess Who's about to Die?" Written by Paul Kupperberg, art by Carmine Infantino and Bob Oksner. The title would get downgraded to just Supergirl the next month, saving everyone a lot of typing and confusing the filing. Read more!

Monday, April 23, 2007

If you could go back in time, why not go with a coolass jet?
This would look friggin' great animated. Just sayin'.
Even though I love the quarter books, I'm not adverse to paying through the nose for books I like. And while I love Ken Steacy's Tempus Fugitive, it was definitely love I paid for: $4.95 a pop the first two issues (starting March 1990) and $5.95 the last two, ending July 1991. (For comparison, a Fantastic Four issue next to me dated October 1990 was cover priced $1.25.)

This is one of the first comics I can remember having to buy at the comic shop: before this, comics were plentiful at grocery stores, bookstores, Circle-K, everywhere. At best, for the first two issues at least, I hadda drive 80 miles to get them.
Steacy on Enemy Ace, would be money in the bank.
You may have notice the gap in publication there. I don't think a 15-month wait from start to finish helped the sales any, but I'm also not 100% sure I've ever seen this collected as a trade. Which is too bad: Steacy, a pilot himself, loves to fly and it shows (boo!) in the art; and it's an exciting and occasionally touching book. ("I've known him since he was a boy," still got me when I read it again yesterday.)

Of course, my only other complaint is that this was around the start of the glut of 'prestige' format comics. Fancier coloring, better paper, funky bindings that won't lie flat in a scanner...Everyone wanted to get the next Dark Knight Returns, but went about it like the packaging was the key to the product.

While I don't approve of slapping any old comic into a squarebound format and jacking up the price, I do have to admit the color in Tempus Fugitive still looks great. I also usually have no sympathy for late comics, but I was so grateful to have this series completed I let it slide. In retrospect, I think I may have even enjoyed it more with the long wait: I have read the first two issues many, many times; anxiously waiting to see how it ended.
If you like it, try for a collection, or you could be left hanging like this.
If this looks interesting, shop it around a little. I know I have another copy of issue #1, pulled from some cheap bin somewhere, so it's out there. Well worth a look. Read more!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Plan 4-20, huh? I'm sure this is a completely innocent reference.
Completely innocent. I'm 99% positive.
Um, that's Silvermane, not your grandma there. This is from Daredevil #123, "Holocaust in the Halls of Hydra!" Written by Tony Isabella, art by Bob Brown, inks by Vince Colletta. From 1975, which of course makes this pre-Frank Miller glory days, and possibly even pre-4-20. Whatever that means...
Foggy Nelson, Action D.A.!
Bonus: Foggy Nelson, held hostage by Hydra in their secret base under Shea Stadium, socks a guard, steals a rifle, and shoots out the chain restraining Daredevil and the Black Widow. Hell, yeah. Even though he's often the comedy relief for DD, Mr. Nelson has had stretches of actual competence, and at the end of this issue, Nick Fury repeats his offer of a spot on S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Directorial Council. Foggy declines, since while he can step it up when needed, he also seems like a guy that knows his limitations, and where he's comfortable.

Anyway, in honor of this not-at-all special day, I heartily don't encourage you to do or not do anything that may or may not be legal or medicinal. Yeah, definitely medicinal. Maybe. Read more!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sure, Rorgg will enslave humanity and suck the juices out of our young, but don't expect him to jump up and down about it.
No, not that Spider-Man.  Yes, maybe the one from the Veruca Salt or the Cure songs, I don't know...
That is one glum looking alien. From Journey into Mystery #64, "I Dared to Battle... RORGG, King of the Spider-Men!!" Pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Dick Ayers. Reprinted in Monster Menace #4.

One of the few good things to come of the 90's comic market was that in their mad rush to put out enough comics to cram each other off of the shelves, a lot of companies put out reprint material. So instead of buying expensive back issues, or holding out for fancy archive editions, or getting the mammoth Essential/Showcase phonebooks; I have piles of random-ass flimsy reprints of EC and Marvel (Timely?) monster nonsense.

Pro: these reprints are still mostly dirt cheap, not super hard to find, and are semi-disposable if you want to introduce someone to disturbing horror or goofy monsters. Con: The print and paper quality is spotty, on occasion seemingly worse than the originals. The Marvel reprints in particular have ads and editorial from the 90's; which can cause uncontrollable crying in lab primates. Good luck trying to get any coherent order out of those reprints, since they aren't chronological or anything. And these 90's reprints still have their original dialog, unlike most of the old reprints today. Well, that's either a plus or a minus for you.

If you're comfortable travelling 'everywhere' via something shot out of your rump, then more power to you.
That spider-cop is dope. Not sure who wrote this issue, but I'm pretty sure that's another of those little awesome things Jack Kirby threw in on a whim; like the Silver Surfer. Like Kirby was skimming through the plot for this story, and came to "Rorgg describes his advanced civilization, space travel through webs, fill out a page, etc." and just hopped to the conclusion that advanced societies must as a given have traffic cops. Spider-Cop deserves at least a one-shot, you ask me...
Ah, that's so cute!  They're insecure little monsters.
Although it probably doesn't bring new readers into the fold, I like it when an admittedly obscure character like Rorgg rears his mopey, Eeyore-like head again. Later this week we'll take a look at another Rorgg sighting, but I think the days of such 'comebacks' are gone. After all, if Rorgg here attacked the Mighty Avengers, he'd probably be the most sympathetic character in the book.
Wow, who would've thought a poison that kills everything would work? Read more!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

If these pictures aren't working, please leave a comment and let me know! calling?
Why does Golgoth bother to use a sword? Well, sometimes you don't want to get your hands dirty.
Wow, if you had told me this morning I'd have a Queensr├┐che reference today, I would've outright scoffed. But, while I forgot to pick up Cable and Deadpool today at the comic shop--it would be a regular if it was Agent X and Deadpool--I got Empire #0-6 out of the quarter box.

Seven issues for cheaper than cover price on one, and now I worry that Mark Waid and Barry Kitson are going to show up on my doorstep demanding back pay. Don't feel bad, guys! I got Shockrockets the same way...and now Busiek and Immonen will be joining the mob.

I blazed through the series this evening, while the Wife watched American Idol (and AOL blew the surprise for her, since I'm on Pacific time). I think I've been a fan of the Waid/Kitson team since the stellar (and wrongly, wrongly, retconned) JLA: Year One and the occasional Legion of Super-Heroes. (It's not you, guys: Legion's huge cast has always been hit and miss with me. I don't think I've ever liked Cosmic Boy, even during the Giffen years. Or Lightning Lad, Saturn Girl, Shrinking Violet...I thought 'Micro Lad' was clever, though.)

There's a lot going on in this series, and while it's a complete story; there are a lot of loose ends and red herrings, probably left in case they ever want to do a sequel. For example, the Pranksterlution, which is left vague; or the alluded-to incident in the main villain, Golgoth's past that put him on the path to world domination. Also, upon thinking about it for a minute, it seems like there were more scenes with Golgoth and his daughter Delfi, then scenes of Golgoth being evil. I guess it's a sliding scale of evil, though: Golgoth does things Lex Luthor or Dr. Doom would never be allowed to, but it doesn't seem as evil evil as some scenes from Preacher or even Wanted.

I like Kitson's art, although I wouldn't read Legion back-to-back with Empire, since some of the faces seem very similar: in the last issue, Dess has the same face and hair that would be used for Light Lass. And I need to re-read the whole thing to let it settle in my mind, since as I read it I was thinking Golgoth's plans were both more and less intricate, in different places. It's not quite the magnum opus for Waid and Kitson, but a step in the right direction. Still, a right fine evening read, especially for $1.75, eh? Read more!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Per anecdotal evidence, comics blogging destroys your immune system.
If I was 'non-human,' I suppose I'd announce it every chance I got, too.
This is the second time I've been sick since starting this stupid blog, and I rarely get sick. I can only assume the internet is dissolving my internal organs or giving me SARS or a rash or something. (Yeah, you laugh now, but SARS was like the bird flu of it's day.)

It does bring up a good excuse to post some Marshall Rogers art, though: from Silver Surfer #12 (volume 3, I think he's up to around 7 now) "Sick!" Written by Steve Englehart, pencils and colors by Marshall Rogers, inks by Joe Rubinstein. As most of you probably know, Rogers passed away recently: he may be more remembered for his Batman work, but his Surfer is a close second with me.

Oh, if 'jabbering jumped-up monkey' isn't someone's blog by now, it should be. This was probably the second appearance of the human-eating space pirate Cap'n Reptyl, who would go on to give the Surfer more trouble, kill the Super-Skrull, and turn into a giant dragon-y thing. There's a character arc you don't see in comics anymore. (No points for 'killing' the Super-Skrull, I swear he dies at the end of every story he's in...) Also, Nova--the Frankie Raye Nova, not the Richard Ryder buckethead original--does most of the heavy lifting this issue. The Surfer spends this month either tied down or throwing up. But, I think he's got the right idea about sleep... Read more!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Reed won't call it 'magic dirt,' since Johnny believed him that one time.
Actually, the FF dialog in this one isn't bad.
Much like the Thing in this issue, I think I would hate to get in the middle of a conversation between Tony Stark and Reed Richards. Blah blah blah technobabble blah blah "No, Dr. Doom is my archenemy" blah blah suspend civil liberties and launch the Hulk's ass into space. Blah.

From Iron Man vol. 3, #35, "Power, part three: the Land" Written by Joe Quesade and Frank Tieri, pencils by Alitha Martinez, inks by Rob Hunter. The story opens with four pages of alien flashback being extracted from Iron Man's head. Oooo-kay...

And to top it off, the alien's name? Max Power. Max Power: He's the man, with the name, you'd like to touch...but you mustn't touch...

This was Quesada's last issue, before going on to something or other. Some desk job. Read more!

Friday, April 13, 2007

I don't think even mutants and synthezoids could get me to watch Desperate Housewives, but you never know.
Why is Peter Lorre against mutant/robot love?
During the 80's, the Vision and the Scarlet Witch were farmed out of their long-standing spot in the Avengers (both in the team and the comic) and into a couple limited-series and guest spots, set in Leonia, New Jersey. So, the premise was taking two characters that were fish-out-of-water, to some extent, even among the Avengers; and throwing them into the more stagnant pond of suburbia. I haven't read all of those issues, but in the ones I remember, the normal people react against Wanda and Vizh...there are no good nicknames for the Vision, are there? a stereotypically hateful, suspicious manner; making the good couple stand-ins for any and all sorts of mixed-race, gay, ethnic, or otherwise misunderstood couples.

When else are you going to see Mignola draw the Avengers?
In the dramatic shorthand of the time, the suburbanites were borderline racist xenophobes with little to no other identifying characteristics. They were usually about two torches and a rake away from the angry mob in a Frankenstein movie. (Sam and Max pointed that one out to me, and now I see it all the time.) And those stories were from a time when the middle and upper classes were trying to escape from the problems of the big city by getting to the suburbs and barring shut the doors behind them.

I'm hard pressed to think of any sympathetic normos from the Leonia days. While that keeps the focus and sympathy on the Vision and the Scarlet Witch; it also makes you wonder why they elected to, and continued to, live in a neighborhood that would've burned a cross in their yard if the milk turned sour. (Or, in the Vision's case, if their VCR started blinking 12:00 again.)

While I'm not the hugest fans of the characters or the premise, it just might be interesting to see what would happen if the Vision and the Witch were living in Leonia today. (Or, maybe a better, or at least more trendy suburb.) Nowadays, while there would doubtless still be a few haters, there would be others that would be overly accepting of the celebrities in their midst. Some would be afraid of Ultron or Magneto leveling the town to get at the couple, others might be grateful they were no longer the block's scapegoat. And of course, there would probably be some prurient interest in the couple from bored, jaded housewives and sneaky, creepy husbands.

Would the Vision really swear by Ultron?
Throw in 'family' trouble from the usual suspects, Chaos-magik randomness, and even your Civil War nonsense, and you could almost have something there. The real trick would be to make Wanda and Vision seem like a couple first, since I don't recall that ever happening either. Then making them seem like an interesting couple. Tough trick there, and I'm still not 100% sure that it would be a book for me, but maybe...

How I missed this when I posted all that Mike Mignola stuff, I don't know. From Marvel Super-Heroes, Summer 1992, "The Terror" Written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Mike Mignola, inks by Armando Gil. Read more!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Until he draws that Wonder Woman, Ghost, and Catwoman catfight, this will remain my favorite thing Adam Hughes has ever done.
Oh, I'm lying, this'll still be my favorite.
Some good news and bad news today:

First, I finally had to 'retire' one of my favorite shirts ever: a Graphitti Designs light blue Nightcrawler t-shirt, with the above Adam Hughes art. God, how many years have I had that thing? Long enough to wear holes in both armpits, hence the retirement. I fully concede that I probably should wear more 'big-boy' outfits that match and fit, and less clothing with super-heroes on them. Oh, no, I shouldn't: I'm old, married, and have pretty much lost any interest in what anyone thinks of me.

But, I did get some good news today: the Youngest's MRI came out OK, and while he is still slow as far as talking, he's not missing any vital brain-parts. And hearing that would've been worth trading every comic, action-figure, DVD, and beloved tattered piece of apparel I have.

Spending the rest of this week with the family and the kids, so probably another half-assed post tomorrow before I call it a week. Hell, I have a pretty tall pile of books to pick up, and I'm hoping I can still find the new Yellowjacket and Quicksilver figures tomorrow too; so there'll be more fun later.

From WildC.A.T.s/X-Men: The Modern Age #1, written by James Robinson, art by Adam Hughes, inks by Mark Farmer. Read more!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

They probably should've put Bug into the rotation from here, but still a great, fun issue.
One kid's got therapy, the other basketball, the wife's sick, and my family's here. So, probably no comics today, sorry. We'll be back to the rambling, tangential posts soon enough, promise.

How Marvel, and Keith Giffen, are going to use Bug when I think they've lost the rights to mention the word 'Micronauts,' I don't know. Maybe it's not as strict as all that.

From Bug #1, "Apples and Origins" Story by Todd Dezago, pencils by Derec Aucoin, inks by Rich Faber and Ralph Cabrera. Post-Onslaught, Bug and a pre-Annihilation Alanis...I mean, Annihilus, crash a number of key Marvel moments and origins, necessitating sweeping rewrites of history and Marvel Universe Handbooks. Or something similar. Read more!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

I know I'm alive, but I don't know why.
'I can't feel my hat!  My head must've fallen asleep!'
Like I was complaining just a bit ago: Hawkman's wings aren't real. That doesn't hurt. It's embarrassing and Despero's got a pretty good grip on your neck, but aside from getting feathers all over the Batcave, no real harm done.

Later in the issue, we do see Hawkman flying without the wings, which looks less silly when you don't see the wings right there; and he also smacks Batman about the face and shoulders, with Batman's own grandfather clock. I consider the 'Wake up!' in that panel Hawkman trying to get Batman out of Despero's control, and not a lame clock joke. If it was supposed to be a joke, well, no one expects Hawkman to be the funny one, I suppose.
'Sure, Carter (heh!) I'll give you a lift! (snort!)
I wanted the panel above because Carter looks so sad clutching his broken wings, but it also has one of my least favorite post-Crisis revisions: Superman copping out. I got so fed up with the Byrne-era Supes not being part of the Justice League because he was 'too busy.' He was, but that's not the point. My point is Superman would've tried to help, if he was needed, no matter what.

Actually, the way that could read, is that Superman is simply leaving J'onn holding the bag as to finding new League members, which isn't as bad. And also explains J'onn's glumass expression.

'Seven Hells, Dinah, I'm so cold...hold me.'From JLA #119, "Crisis of Conscience, conclusion" Written by Geoff Johns and Allen Heinberg, pencils by Chris Batista, inks by Mark Farmer. Read more!

Monday, April 09, 2007

I'm not really prepared today: can I let Newsarama and CBR take this one?

As the title may imply, I'm not ready today. And my family is coming up tomorrow, so I'm not sure what the rest of this week is looking like. Of course, I say that a lot, then end up with a huge post about some C-list villain or forgotten plot point.

So, I didn't have any scans ready today. (Yet. Give me a minute, we'll see.) Considerately, Newsarama has a preview of New Avengers #29, featuring the first clash between the freedom fighting/lawbreaking New Avengers and the sellout/law-enforcing Mighty Avengers. (CBR has it too, for good measure, and let's note: written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencilled by Leinil Francis Yu.)

Good god, this looks miserable. Both Bendis and Yu have done stuff I've enjoyed before, but this looks punishing. Not punishing like the Punisher is punishing, punishing like 'make it stop' punishing. Although, it does look like those pages will go for big bucks in the secondary market, eh?

I'm not going to comment on the assorted douchebaggery of Iron Man or anyone else. I'm not going to comment on Spider-Man's Brother Voodoo crack, which is just outright hackery. Or why the issue starts with three pages of Electra/ninja standoff before changing to a different standoff the day before. Or why Black Widow and her guns appear to be vogueing from panel to panel. Or what Luke Cage is doing pointing his fists at the ninjas like he's going to launch a Screw Crusher Punch at them Admittedly, I would totally buy that comic.

No, I was really just curious what the ever-loving hell Iron Fist was doing on Page 6, panel 3. Really, tell me. I'm legitimately curious.

Commenters at Newsarama are already starting to point out some of the WTF aspects of the preview, including some of the points I've got here; but seem to be shouted down or drowned out by Rox/Sux-type posts. Comment here or there if you have any idea.

EDIT: How about one panel from happier times?
Man, Thor was always shouting 'perverted science' at something:  Ultron, Kang, Iron Man...

From Avengers #71, "Endgame!" Reprinted in Marvel Super Action #32. Written by Roy Thomas, art by Sal Buscema, inks by Sam Grainger. This was one, if not my first, Avengers comic. So that's pretty much my dream Avengers roster. Well, them plus Black Widow, Hercules, Quicksilver...and Wonder Man, Ms. Marvel, Tigra...geez, this would be easier just to cut the ones I don't want, so we'll save that for later.

Anyway, I love this panel, especially Wasp and Yellowjacket getting a little sugar in the background... Read more!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

This Sunday, you can either go to church, or spend the day reading Conan.
Face the thing from between the speakers!
Yeah, guess which one I went with. That joke's shamelessly stolen from an old promo for Mystery Science Theatre 3000's Gamera marathon. Which, by the way, I didn't get to see all of, because back in the day, this particular cable provider was running VH1 during the day and Comedy Central starting about 5 PM. Still mad about that, since the rights on the Gamera episodes are up in the air and I never got to see them.

So, I had a particular Conan issue in mind, and of course I couldn't find it. With the possible exception of the Punisher, I have lost more Conan comics than any other: lent out, swiped, or destroyed over more than twenty years. I still occasionally read the new Dark Horse ones, and even though those issues are generally far better than a lot of the later Marvel ones, it's still not the same.

Anyway, Happy Easter, and hopefully all your chocolate bunnies came with ears.
And, another panel not related to Easter at all.
From "Monster of the Monoliths!" and "The Twilight of the Grim Grey God!" Written by Roy Thomas, art by Barry Windsor-Smith. Reprinted in Conan Saga #1 and #7. Read more!

Friday, April 06, 2007

I didn't want to call this post 'Gorilla My Dreams,' but there wasn't much choice.
Seriously, if this book had come out last week, some humorless ass would be throwing a fit.

From Tarzan Annual #1, "Tarzan's First Love" Adapted from Jungle Tales of Tarzan by Edgar Rice Burroughs, written by Roy Thomas, art by John Buscema and Steve Gan.

I'm not a huge Tarzan fan by any means. I remember reading the first book as a kid, and that was pretty much it. I loved (and still do) the John Carter, Warlord of Mars stuff, but Tarzan I could take or leave. It's been years, but the problem may have been the forward or annotation or something pseudo-scholarly to the effect of how in the unlikely event of a child being raised by apes, said child wouldn't grow up to be king of the apes, but would be a shambling shell of a man. A man that would probably not have any qualms about eating apemeat or, um, loving an ape. Wherever I read that, that little tidbit of information, whether true or not, would pretty much hold down my further suspension of disbelief on Tarzan, and kick it in the kidneys.

It would be like rereading A Princess of Mars with a professor giving a running commentary in the other ear about how teleportation is impossible, Mars couldn't support an atmosphere, four-armed creatures are evolutionarily unlikely, etc.

That said, my first thought reading the first story in this issue? I was mildly surprised this was able to get through the old Comics Code, frankly. A man in love with a gorilla almost seems likely to raise more eyebrows today...

Geez, I had braces for like 6 years, and Tarzan has better looking teeth.That, and John Buscema could draw, no doubt about that. Tarzan looks a bit too much like Conan in a couple of panels, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing either.

Comics Should Be Good is in the middle of "Ape-ril," a month long (maybe) look at comics' greatest apes, gorillas, monkeys, baboons, and assorted primates. Want to know a little secret? I hate apes. Hate 'em. Ever since I saw Beneath the Planet of the Apes as a very little kid. I remember sitting there, shell-shocked, as Nova, then Brent, then Taylor, and finally the whole frickin' planet went down; furrow-browed and hating apes with every ounce of my tiny being.

It's yet another reason why the Tim Burton remake was so awful: I was aching to see humans finally rise up against their simian oppressors and at long last kick ape tail...apes don't have tails, do they? Anyway, the humans didn't, the movie sucked, and I really do hate every ape I see. Could be a long month. Read more!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

More of Dr. Light than you probably reasonably expected to see today.
Colonel Sanders, no!
Oh, boy. If yesterday's secret origin of Gorilla Grodd didn't work for you, today's Dr. Light post is going to leave you cold. Mostly because it's not very good. Especially compared to his other Secret Origin, but it may or may not be the worst retcon for the character. Again from DC Super-Stars #14, this time we've got "Let There Be Dr. Light!" Written by Paul Kupperberg, art by Dick Ayers and Jack Abel.

This origin starts with southern dandy/"Phd in optics" Dr. Arthur Light about to test his newest invention: a device that is supposed to 'capture' lightrays from through time and space, so he can view the future. Instead, he turns it on and gets other dimensions. Focus!

"A single twist of a dial and the scene shifts..." to a futuristic looking city, which turns out to be another planet. So, Light can see other dimensions and planets easier than you can change the channel on your VCR, but can he see the future like he planned? No. You suck, Dr. Light!

The machine's focus changes again, to a laboratory, that Light identifies as an optics lab. Wow, that's not coincidental or anything, even for a story like this. Light wants to study the goodies therein, even though he's already invented a machine to view other planets. Not sure what better you think you're going to find, Doc. He accidentally drops a wrench (an 'optics' wrench, no doubt) through the screen, and finds he has also opened a space warp to the alien planet's lab. Light steps through the screen to commence looting.

Light is quickly interrupted by a guard, who yells at him in some alien language, so he grabs what he can and jumps back to earth. The alien planet turns out to be Thanagar, which means out of all the Hawk Police, Katar Hol is about to get up on Light's grill. Since this story takes place before Katar and Shayera came to earth, he's wearing what looks like it was supposed to be an early version of his costume--the little star on the strap really doesn't work, but on the cover of this issue, Katar's wearing green tights and red Robin-booties.

Also, while I'd love to see a return of editorial captions and footnotes, putting them on a hand is just so dumb.

Back on earth, Dr. Light puts on his...Dr. Light costume, which admittedly is a vast improvement over what he was wearing. He uses "solidified light" to blow a hole through his lab. All right, that may have been a little premature, but he's excited, OK? Actually, it does look like he plans on levelling his place of employment, then looting the smouldering wreckage maybe.

By this time, Katar's tapped the energy of the space warp and followed it back to earth. I don't know if that sort of scientific can-do is beyond the reach of the planet that gave us the Absorbascon, Nth Metal belts, and big fake wings; but it seems dicey. Then we get fighty time, with ray blasts and punching and Light tries the old multiple images trick, and while Katar recognizes it has to be the one casting a shadow, he still punches an image. Taking a hit, Hawkman crashes on a roof of a solar research center.
It's two, two, two cliches in one!
Seemingly beaten, Hawkman takes flight again, flying right into a clear line of fire, but it's only a mirror with the wings attached. Flying only with his belt, Katar swoops down but Light warps out, escaping. Katar recovers the stolen tech, and returns to Thanagar, unaware that years later he would make earth his home. And learn to talk to birds. And enjoy swinging a mace.

Actually, I would rather Hawkman cave my skull in with a mace, than lose to the old mirror trick. And I've always thought that it was sort of lame that Hawkman's wings weren't real: that's one of the little things that may not technically have been broken in the regular DC continuity but was 'fixed' in the Justice League cartoon. Don't most people just assume his wings are 'attached'? Otherwise, you could replace Hawkman with a Legion Flight Ring and a two-by-four.

Well, I'm done with this issue, since the Two-Face secret origin is kind of like 'improving' your million-dollar mansion by nailing a ten-dollar birdhouse to the side of it. It also refers to Two-Face's daughter, which is another artifact of continuity I don't think you hear about much anymore. There were also single page text origins of Brainiac and the Shark, which did remind me of another fun issue...which I may have to find later. 'Til next time, don't shoot the mirror. God, I shouldn't even have to say that in this century... Read more!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Now with 75% more tangents!

I'm afraid that's another 'did not meet,' Green Lantern of sector 2814.
This is one of those stories that DC would typically start with a question; perhaps a splash page of Gorilla Grodd stomping on Green Lantern as the narration wonders how this could be, or where's the Flash, or why GL can't take him. Instead, "The Secret Origin of Gorilla Grodd!" opens with Hal getting reamed by his bosses, the Guardians of the Universe. Hal's performance review isn't going very well, as the Guardians accuse him of "unleashing a terrible menace on your home world, Terra!"
Who needs archive editions when you've got Blue Ribbon Digests?
The incident in question was from Green Lantern #1, "Planet of Doomed Men!" and to be fair, I'm not 100% sure Hal knew about the Guardians at that point. A quick re-reading of that issue, revealed that the Guardians hadn't let Hal remember them yet, so he was just taking occasional instructions from his lantern. Hmm. Well, that would probably have been more fun, thinking you're the only one in the universe with a magic ring (and bossy lantern); not just one out of a couple thousand, with bosses and limits and rules and expectations. Phooey.

(Incidently, where are the terrifying Green Lanterns? There's robots, bird-head guys, plants, planets, the occasional amorphous blob, and so on; but where are the crab monsters, the drooling spiders, the Lovecraftian nameless things? I'm sure there's lots of scary, horrible monsters that would be noble and shining members of the Green Lantern Corps, but no, they have to give rings to Ch'p or that easily squishable one that looked like a hummingbird.)

The Guardians roll a clip from GL #1, stating that their recorders picked up Hal's thoughts "as well as the physical action," and based on that, I really really hope for Hal's sake that new Brave and the Bold issue with Supergirl was 'off the clock.' Brrr.

How many sidebars have I had so far? Two? Three? Even for me, that's pretty bad. Anyway, they watch Hal, on the alien world Calor, fight the Dryg; a giant, mohawked, telepathic ape thing. With pointy ears, and no visible genitalia, thank Rao. After an epic five-panel battle, Hal freezes the Dryg, and dumps it at one of the planet's polar regions to stay frozen. (Assuming it was 'frozen like Captain America frozen,' and not 'frozen like the steaks in my freezer frozen.') Then Hal split back for earth to strike out with Carol, again.
'How could I make this any clearer?  Do we need to travel back in time again and watch the giant hand make the universe?'
The Guardians roll back the tape to point out a speck in the distance, which when enlarged and viewed from a completely different angle, turns out to be a gorilla. A helpful, sacrilegious Guardian explains evolution basics for you, and points out that Calor is that much-ballyhooed planet where apes evolved from men. Hal went to a southern elementary school, and is understandably confused.
I know you can't see Walt's dinosaur signature here, I just like this panel.  So there.
(Boo! I'm just on the agnostic side of godless, but can't we all just accept evolution? I have a less hard time believing God created the universe over millions of years, then slowly evolved single-celled organisms into men. Creating the universe in six twenty-four hour days is allegory, not fact. And dinosaur bones don't come from Satan. Like Satan could influence Walt Simonson's signature! Christ...)

Man, this thing's going to go completely off the rails any time now. Deep breath: The Guardians roll footage of the gorilla hightailling it back to his gorilla city...the Gorilla City, as it turns out, home of the Super-Gorillas previously seen in issues of the Flash. Our nameless gorilla reaches his leader Solovar, and outlines an admittedly clever plan to use their mighty brains to tap into Green Lantern's power ring, and move their whole civilization off of the increasingly volcanic Calor.

Hal has a moment to be kind of impressed with himself, towing an entire city through space without knowing it; before the Guardians step all over that.
Shut it!  You're deadweight!
But, during the twenty-minute trip to Earth, our unnamed gorilla declares that since he found their Green Lantern mule and saved all of them, he should be the new leader. Solovar says maybe he should wait for the next election, at which point mystery gorilla decides to invoke the 25th amendment all over Solovar's face. Cue somewhat graceless gorilla fight.
Gee, you'd think having the one cape in the whole society wouldn't be such a big deal.

Hmm, not enough biting or crap-throwing or whatever. Since this fight is during the move to earth, it destabilizes the whole mess, and the city is damaged by "Planetoids--crashing down upon us!" That turns out to be a lucky break, as a falling hunk of debris knocks out the unnamed gorilla, whom we all now know as...Grodd.

Green Lantern had previously fought Grodd, but in the version he knew, Gorilla City had been there for eons. (Hopefully with a better name.) According to the Guardians, that's a load of crap; and the Calorian gorillas made it up because they were afraid of being deported. Yeah, they could get thrown off earth like Superman, the Martian Manhunter, Hawkman and Hawkwoman...

Hal good-naturedly asks if the Guardians want him to forcibly relocate the gorillas, because if not their secret was no skin off his ass. The Guardian tell him there's more: the imprisoned Grodd was able to tap the power ring's energy and free himself. Grodd's next step is to head into the jungle, and send a telepathic message to lure in Green Lantern. That has the added bonus of 'blocking yet another date with Carol.

This should pretty much be a given, now.
(Print out like several hundred of these. Stick them on top of every panel Green Lantern's in, ever. You're welcome.)
'Oh no!  Mssr. Mallah!  I thought you were Congorilla!'
Hidden, Grodd is able to get the ring to make a hammer, but Hal's still able to block it. Grodd then takes the direct approach: announcing himself to GL, then sucker-punching him. The ring won't come off Hal's finger (?) but Grodd is still able to use it's power, which leads to a giant gorilla stomping up a city full of gorillas. Gorillas, gorillas, gorillas. The word's losing all meaning for me, and I may never do that Tarzan post now...

Hal wakes up, his ring presumably having prevented Grodd from punching his head off. He fights the giant Grodd, echoing the fight with the Dryg; then realizes Giant-Grodd is just an energy duplicate. Actually, Hal probably wouldn't have picked up on that if Grodd hadn't jumped up and announced it, leaving himself open to GL's liquid-oxygen attack.
Solovar really isn't anywhere near as nice as everyone thinks.
Solovar thanks Green Lantern for saving the wiping his mind of any memory of it. Since by that time in the current continuity, Gorilla City was known, accepted, and ruined by tourists; the Guardians figured they could let Hal know the rest of the story. Ignoring more mindrape, GL is amused that he fought and beat Grodd before Flash ever heard of him; which probably isn't going to sound as funny to the Flash.

HAL: Hey, Barry, guess what? Turns out, the gorillas in Gorilla City aren't really gorillas! They're gorilla-aliens, and I brought them to earth! Isn't that something?

BARRY: What the hell, man! Grodd killed like forty people in Central City last week! He ate an entire S.W.A.T. team and ripped the face off a nun!

HAL: Um...they were hitchhiker gorilla-aliens?

BARRY: Jesus, Hal! Grodd's controlled my mind before. My mind, Hal. It's like having an 800-pound gorilla squatting down in your friggin' skull. Unpleasant, Hal, unpleasant.

HAL: (softly) I'm sorry, Barry. (hangs head)

BARRY:'s not your fault, Hal. It's ok. (muttering)I swear, I can still taste ape fur.

Other oddities: The gorillas of Calor, while allegedly one of the most advanced societies in the history of ever, never themselves mastered space travel, presumably because they didn't have any monkeys for the test flights. That, or gorilla hair always clogs the instruments.

This story, and the other two in this issue, were pretty much apocryphal even before Crisis and everything. Gorilla City is considered to be homegrown today, which is just as well, otherwise the current Zoom would be directly Hal's fault...
Perhaps some kind of transparent overlay...

Deep breath: From Green Lantern #1, reprinted in DC Blue Ribbon Digest #4, "Planet of the Doomed Men!" Written by John Broome, art by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson.

From Fantastic Four #345, "The Mesozoic Mambo!" Written and drawn by Walt Simonson...although, I didn't find the credits flipping through the issue.

And mainly, from DC Super-Stars Presents #14, "G--as in Guardians, Green Lantern, and Gorilla Grodd!" Written by Bob Rozakis, art by Rich Buckler and Bob Layton. Read more!