Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From Captain America #376, "Cross Purposes" Written by Mark Gruenwald, art by Ron Lim and Danny Bulanadi. Like I said before, I had a whole Black Widow week planned, that never came through. Luckily, that means I still had this one squirreled away for just such an occasion.

In case you missed earlier Cap posts from the "Streets of Poison" biweekly summer event, by this point a crack-addled Captain America has already beat Daredevil so badly, DD lost his memory and wandered off. (Actually, DD receives a couple of beatings in this one, leading me to wonder if Gruenwald wasn't a fan...no, I'm pretty sure he was setting up a plotline for the regular Daredevil book.) Now a danger to himself and others, it's time to call in earth's mightiest heroes...or just Black Widow and Diamondback. Yeah, they've got it handled.

Right about here is Diamondback's high point as a character: Gruenwald did a great job of portraying her as someone willing to do anything for Cap, including become a better person. It's too bad that later on (this was maybe halfway through his run on Captain America) Gruenwald seemed stuck on how to use Rachel without moving her and Cap's relationship forward, or even backwards. I don't know if he was getting flak from some front for Cap dating a "villain," or if that was too mature for a pretty kid-friendly book. A later storyline where Diamondback's nearly beaten death by a rival, then becomes a scaredy-bear, isn't great; but it's a darn sight better than just about anything else she's been used in. (With the possible exception of her appearance in Cable/Deadpool, I haven't read that one.)

But as far as the Black Widow goes, unloading her Widow's sting in Cap's face is just another day at the office. She disparaged the sting on the last post, but does she wear those currently or not?
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Monday, September 29, 2008

What's more embarrassing?
Barry uses Hal's ring a lot, doesn't he?
A. Getting utterly spanked by the Penguin, cosmic powers or no.

B. Getting utterly spanked by the Flash, who doesn't even bother to use his own powers to beat you.

C. Getting your power ring or dolphins back from the Flash, who did a damn sight better with them than you did.

D. Trying to make small talk with Arthur and Hal on the way back to the Hall of Justice after utterly showing them up.

E. Still not having internet at home, and being reduced to dredging up who-knows-what out of the draft files? Assuming I didn't already post this in, I dunno, 2007...

Panel from, um, an issue of Super Powers, probably...hopefully, new stuff soon! Read more!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Probably not how to fix the comic industry, but it couldn't hurt.
Has anyone ever opened one of the bagged ones?  My god, it's all true!
From What The--?! #14, "Tangles" Written by Bill Wray, art by Rurik Tyler, gently poking fun at Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man #1.

Doom had completely forgotten about this appearence.
This got me thinking about ol' Todd, something I don't usually do, and it suddenly hit me: Todd McFarlane is the Michael Jackson of comics...without any icky connotations that may bring. Consider: Started small on books like Infinity, Inc., worked his way up to popularity on Amazing Spider-Man, then Spider-Man #1 was his Thriller, a massive hit, never to be completely repeated. This would make Spawn #1 Bad: also a huge hit, but not as huge. And then...long stretches of no output, legal troubles, and making most of their money and headlines in other ventures. (Again, McFarlane's legal troubles are much less distasteful than Michael's.)

And then we've got this panel from Aaron Lopresti, just because it makes me smile.
You know, he's the precursor of the Heap, Swamp Thing, Man-Thing...it's true!  Maybe.
I have no idea how long this post has been in the draft file...July 7, 2007. Huh. Well, still on no-internet mode, so it'll do. Have a good weekend! Read more!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

(Somewhat) Off-topic: Dubious lessons learned from recent TV.

Since I usually watch Prison Break and the Sarah Connors Chronicles, I taped the season premiere of Heroes. Yes, taped. I'm not trendy enough to download it to anything or Tivo or any of that nonsense.

A few words on Prison Break, a show that's come a long way from it's titular premise: while not a great show, it's at least entertaining, and although this isn't as prevalent as it was in prior seasons, you could probably get the general idea if you watch the first and last five minutes of each episode. Seriously, if you've ever felt swamped by a problem that looked way too big for you to ever deal with, watch this show. The brothers Scofield and Burrows, and their merry men, will show you how to break down a mountain of a task into several smaller, seemingly insurmountable tasks, that you can attack in one-hour installments. You may even have trouble with those, but persevere, and you can accomplish your goal, which will then lead to you being thrown into an even worse situation. The long, serial, formula, uphill climb of the characters on this show are a lot like a lot of comics, really. Or Super Mario Brothers: Sorry, but your princess is in another prison!

But Heroes, and I didn't think of this while I was watching it, the subject came up the other day at the Fortress of Fortitude: the heroes of Heroes seem to mess up, drop the ball, screw the pooch, shoot themselves in the foot, and so forth, a lot. A lot, a lot. Like, if anyone had any sense, or used their powers in a reasonable fashion, the show would be if not over, a lot shorter.

Mohinder: Oh no! The untested injection that I had no idea what it would do, is mutating me somehow! How did this happen? (Admittedly, scientists shooting themselves up with their discoveries is a proud comics' tradition, and Mohinder could do a lot worse than turning himself into the Hulk or the Lizard. Man-Thing maybe.)

Nicki, or whoever she is now: Oops! Accidentally froze a guy! Well, I'm sure no one will notice, or come looking for him...

Future Peter: Whoops! Changed my crappy future into something worse! Better change it some more...damnit!

Present Peter: Uh-oh! I look like an escaped prisoner! Better play along, regardless of whether I have my powers or someone else's!

The two "agents" that tried to stop Sylar: Oh noes! The taser isn't working! If only we had something, anything else to try! (Really, they looked at each other like they both thought the other had the bazooka, before Sylar did his point-and-grab power on them.)

Hiro: So bored...if only I had some noble quest, regardless of what danger it might pose for the world...hey, my inheritance! Dad's last wish is not to touch it, but I'm sure it won't get stolen seconds after I open it...hey!

So, Prison Break features characters in a series of Sisyphean tasks, where the goalposts keep moving farther away. Repetitive, but more entertaining than Heroes, where bad decisions and unforced errors seem to keep the plot moving. Moving in a downward spiral towards an inevitable disaster that can only be sped up by the characters' actions, but moving. Sort of. Read more!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

"Chances are, if you got here looking for 'Gorn,' there's a typo involved. And if I'm wrong, but you meant something other than this...don't correct me."

Last week (a couple of last weeks ago now, actually) I lost an eBay auction for an Art Asylum Star Trek Gorn figure (and Khan, and another Kirk, both of which were incidental at best) so I dug out the old Playmates version. He was a pretty good figure for the time, but is obviously a bit short to play with the more current figures. In a bit of a slap to the face, the Gorn captain also came with the cannon Kirk used to beat him.

The particularly hardcore Trek fans may notice the Kirk used here is from the second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." He came with the captain's chair with that weird little desklamp looking thing.

Still on no-internet mode, although maybe I'll get some posts done for later. Or maybe I'll play videogames. No telling, really. Read more!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Originally uploaded by googum
From Black Widow #2 (2004) "Right to a Life, part 2) Written by Richard K. Morgan, layouts by Goran Parlov, finishes by Bill Sienkiewicz. Had this lodged in the flickr too, since I had wanted to do a week of Black Widow. The timing never came out right, since I had thought there was supposed to be a third limited series from this team, but it's been years and it's never materialized.

Really enjoyed both of Morgan's Black Widow limiteds. The only downside to this series is that it, like Fury or the MAX Punisher, isn't part of the mainstream Marvel continuity, no matter how good it is or how much it makes sense. These series take the heroes in directions that would be problematic in keeping them in play in a universe with the Eternals, Fin Fang Foom, and Wolverine. It's mildly disappointing, that this Natasha isn't going to the same one in Bendis' Mighty Avengers, but this Natasha wouldn't support registration or any of that nonsense. (How did the Widow end up on the opposite side of Daredevil?)

Also, I liked that so far, these have been limited series, and they haven't tried to force the square peg of a novelist into the round hole of a monthly schedule. Yeah, you know how well that usually turns out. Morgan also scored points with me for working with a single character (and Fury and Daredevil cameos), rather than hopping with both feet into the toybox and breaking toys right and left...not to point fingers or name names or anything...

I do miss Natasha's short haircut, though...
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Originally uploaded by googum
My internet is still down at home, so after minimal posting this week, I might be down to reruns. Still, I had this in my flickr stuff and had never gotten around to it before, since I had some thoughts about Green Lantern that I never nailed down. Well, no time like the present! The scan is from Green Lantern Corps #217, written by Steve Englehart, art by Joe Staton and Mark Farmer.

I last read Green Lantern regularly when it was Green Lantern Corps, in 1987, probably starting after the 200th issue: Hal Jordan had returned, Guy Gardner was still out there being a complete a-hole, and earth suddenly had a crapload of aliens with power rings roaming about. Even that, and the quagmire Millenium crossover couldn't save it: the book was cancelled with issue #224. That issue sucked: Flodo Span dies, most all Green Lanterns lose their rings, Hal Jordan looks like he's waving the shattered power battery a jaunty goodbye on the cover...I'm going to have to dig up that issue to harsh on it separately.

I like Steve Englehart's work, generally; but the GLC stuff seems really sporadic. Like he'll bring something good, then something bad. He has a good cast going, classic Lanterns Hal, John, Katma, and new greats Kilowog and Salaak. Then he has C'hp, a funny animal-style chipmunk; and Arisia, who's only character trait was that she was underage and really liked Hal. REALLY liked.

Arisia's history and origin and status has been changed several times, but back then, she was very obviously a preteen girl with a crush on Hal. A preteen girl with a power ring, and enough willpower to turn herself into an adult that could date Hal. (This was well before the internet, and Barely Legal magazine; and I'm not sure anyone said boo at the time.) Retcons have changed Arisia's age to older than Hal, but alien, but not statuatory.

Like several old-school GL's through Emerald Twilight and the Kyle Rayner years, I think Arisia was dead, or gone, then back. Salaak and Kilowog were in the same boat; the big K getting a memorable death scene fighting the insane Hal Jordan/Parallax in Twilight, then a less memorable return towards the end of Kyle's tenure. (Seriously, I probably have the issues in question, but have no idea how Kilowog came back.)

Both the last issue of GLC and Emerald Twilight share an intention of changing the focus to a single Green Lantern, instead of a corps of hundreds. Which is completely missing the point, but whatever...but that explains why characters like Arisia, Salaak, and Kilowog had to be lost or killed for a bit: when Kyle first got the ring, he was supposed to be a know-nothing rookie; having three or more friendly aliens there to give him pointers would have undercut that.

Let's talk about Kilowog for a bit: I had kind of forgotten, but he's a bit of a tool in those early appearances. As near as I can recall, the notion of Kilowog as the GLC's drill sargent is a recent addition. When he joins the earth-based Lanterns in #201, he's just kind of there, doesn't really give a reason or seem to have anything better to do, and earth seemed to be a happening spot.

Shortly thereafter, Kilowog goes to Russia, because he's apparently from a non-corrupt communist society. Dumb. He creates the Red Rocket Corps, which is both cool and stupid at the same time: no prime directive for the Green Lanterns, eh? Nothing wrong with giving one faction of warring primates advanced alien technology? Never seen Star Trek, Kilowog? Of course, he's then shocked when the head Soviets turn out to be corrupt. Ass.

Still later, tying into the scan pictured a little, Kilowog reveals that his homeworld was destroyed, but his people were saved on his ring. Yeah...that's the trouble with a series based on a magic wishing ring, isn't it? There's a world within the power ring, it can keep you alive, it can automatically protect you, it can form illusions, it can age you or make you younger; it can do just about any damn thing, just not consistently. Kilowog restores his people, only to have them destroyed not five minutes later by Sinestro and his pet evil sector of space. (Which, I'm almost positive, was from an Alan Moore story, and is probably due for a comeback, if it hasn't already.)

I have a vague feeling that this too has been changed somewhere, and there is a whole planet o' poozers out there somewhere. Partly, because Kilowog rarely seems to act like the last survivor of his race; and mostly because if he was the last one, wouldn't Kilowog have kicked Sinestro's ass inside out by now? Repeatedly? At any rate, the big guy was one of the few GL's to be used in any useful fashion after the disbanding of the Corps: Guy Gardner, who of course still had a ring, would recruit Kilowog as the Justice League's handyman, which would go a long way to making him the big lug we now know and love. (Kilowog, not Guy, although that issue does make Guy a lot less of a one-dimensional buffoon, too...)

Back to the scan: the three new Lanterns there, Flodo Span, Olapet, and Driq; were all pretty much screwed in the last issue of Green Lantern Corps. Then again, just about everything in the closing arc kills it for me: Sinestro, found guilty of so many, many crimes; is put to death by the GLC. But, the Guardians had left a failsafe in the power battery, back when the females of their species left them en masse to become the Zamarons. Fearing what might happen if they succumbed to jealously, the Guardians left a failsafe in the main power battery on Oa, to prevent them or their Green Lanterns from fatally retaliating against their ex-girlfriends' new boys, the male Korugarians...like Sinestro.

There is so, so much wrong with this.

First, admittedly after breaking up with the Smurf-like Guardians of the Universe, anyone might look good; but Sinestro is not a handsome guy, and I have to believe he's a prime example of Korugarian manhood. Second, why the hell would the Guardians even let Sinestro become a GL? It would be like hiring your ex's boyfriend...then being surprised that he's an evil bastard, insult to injury. Lastly, the failsafe could've been avoided if the GL's had simply shot Sinestro, let Kilowog snap his neck, pushed him out an airlock, etc: instead, the GL's "will" him to death with their rings.

The remaining dateless Guardian acts all embarrassed about not mentioning the failsafe that's destroying the power battery, the rings, and the corps; but it still seems like the sort of thing you might wanna write down somewhere. Like maybe a big warning label on the side of the battery. In, let's see, 3600+ languages.

As Green Lantern rings across the galaxy start to go out, Driq is one of the first to go: he had been dead for quite some time at this point, and it was implied that he wasn't still going because of his indomitable Green Lantern willpower, but because his power ring refused to let him go. Which makes me wonder, was Driq recharging his ring, or was it nudging him along? Was Driq even still in there? Is that normal for a power ring? Sadly, we may never know.

Hal and Flodo Span go into the power battery to try to save it. Of course Hal's ring won't quit, he's Hal. But poor Flodo's ring dies, and him with it: turns out he was an "abstract life-form" generated by the ring. The Guardians must be supercool about weird crap like this: this would be like General Motors turning out a car, that drove itself out of the factory and decided to become a cop. We'd call it "Christine" and bazooka it to death, I'm thinking.

Meanwhile, John Stewart fights Goldface. Yay! No, Goldface sucks. Sucks sucks sucks. Hal gets to try to save the universe's number one peace-keeping force, and John has to wrestle an armored guy with a mask that looks like a golden mime. Of course, looking back, this was the start of several years of crapping all over John: loses his ring, loses his wife Katma, gets his ring back, accidentally blows up some planet, he's got Guardian level powers in Mosaic, oops, now he's a Darkstar, then he's paralyzed, then not...DC has characters that went to Vertigo and back that were treated better. Of course, after the Justice League cartoons, John's star has risen.

Ah, who else, as long as I'm rambling? There was Salaak, who is being used to some good effect in the current books, as a crabby administrative type. And Ch'p, the Green Lantern squirrel. Look, Ch'p is either one of those things in comics that you're going to love, or absolutely hate, like MODOK. Remember, in the 80's, MODOK wasn't cool, he was an embarassment. (That's another post, if I ever get back online!) Not unlike MODOK, Ch'p was killed off in particularly ignoble fashion: hit by a truck in Mosiac. Poor Ch'p is also one of the few GL's mentioned here to be killed and stay dead, although in a book like Green Lantern, any alien killed like Ch'p, Katma Tui, or Tomar-Re; can be replaced by another of their species either interchangeably, or as a new character like Soranik Natu.

Woof! I started some of this post years ago, which is why it goes on a bit, but this is what happens when I've got some downtime but can't scan. New strip on Wednesday, but we'll see what, if anything else, we can come up with...
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Friday, September 19, 2008

"90% of any given day in Atlantis:"

A couple weeks ago, a neighbor moved, and had an estate sale. I bought a tackle box, and cleaned it out to use for all my action figure accessories and doodads. There were a few hooks left though, which suggested this one.

The posting this week has been on autopilot: as I write this, my internet's down at home, and might be for a bit! There is a new strip set for Wednesday, and I might be able to pull something out of thin air between now and then. Have a good weekend!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Spear carriers, chair fillers, second bananas, what-have-you." Even though DC Universe Classics is blazing through the roster, there's still some characters that probably aren't going to be remade anytime soon, which leaves the sales racks of DC Direct. I got Wonder Girl and Animal Man for $4.94 a piece a while back, which is more than I've ever spent on either of their comics. I had to wikipedia Donna Troy to get the gist of her multiple origins, and did you know Donna can copy the voice of anyone she's ever heard? That's from an issue of The Brave and the Bold, so who knows if that ever came up again.

I'm a bit more familiar with Buddy, though:

I did have to look up the cover to Justice League Europe #1, since I knew there were more members at the launch than this: I don't have an Elongated Man figure, poor Rocket Red has only had a Justice League Unlimited scale one, and Wonder Woman not only was only on the team for five minutes, I'm waiting on the DCUC version.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Your happenstance panel for today:
Why I love comics, exhibit A.
From Excalibur #103, "Bend Sinister, Reprise" Written by Warren Ellis, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Scott Koblish and Bob Wiacek. This was Warren's last issue, and would've been a good last issue for the series; since the last twenty-two issues are, in comparison, so terrible they'll hurt your feelings. And I don't clamor for trades of stuff I already have very often, but sweet Georgia Brown, I'd love Excalibur trades of the Warren Ellis run.

Oh, and Joss Whedon fans? Ellis wrote a better Kitty Pryde. Suck it. Read more!

Monday, September 15, 2008

It's been said before, many times, many ways, but...

The only golden rule is that Michael Golden rules.

A couple of the things I like about this one:

1. Marvel heroes really are giants. Literally. Are the civilians in the middle less than five feet tall? 'Cause if so, Iron Man and Cap are like seven feet tall. Plus!

2. Ant-man is either really close to the camera, or that ant is friggin' huge.

3. I miss the days when Conan was a de facto Marvel character. Although, it does look like She-Hulk's gonna paste him one.

4. God, the Silver Surfer looks absolutely numb there. (Above the Thing, by Spidey's foot!) Actually, most everyone looks either nonplussed or annoyed. Howard the Duck in particular looks like he's got murder on mind.

From a subscription ad in Marvel Super Special #24: The Dark Crystal. Inks by Terry Austin. Read more!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Man, Superhero Squad figures can be weird sometimes.
I got this two-pack the other day, and while I do like the style of these little figures, it's kind of rare for me to pay full price for them. Still, I've only seen the one set of these two, that I bought, so I'm glad I didn't wait around. I've had something in mind involving these, but I was thinking about getting an Indiana Jones one first; and the upcoming G.I. Joe ones look pretty nice as well.

It may seem odd to some that a mass-murdering psychopath and a mercenary nutjob are being immortalized in plastic toys for little, little kids; but outside of the context of the comics, they can be whatever imagination wants them to be. That, and these figures are primarily purchased by pre-existing fans of the characters, i.e. grown-ups. (In retrospect, that seems kind of obvious: not a lot of five-year-olds take themselves to the toy stores...)

And of course, I already have the Nightcrawler Superhero Squad figure. Plans are unfolding. Heh-heh-heh...

Guff, busy week! We'll see if I can keep up the pace next week! Read more!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"The really insulting thing, is how surprised everyone looks every time Hal makes it to another birthday..."
Focus your willpower to enlarge! Or, y'know, click on them.

Of course Hal reads Playboy and Men's Health: I don't see him as hung up about his clothes enough for GQ or Esquire...

The toys this time: Hal, Bats, Supes, and Aquaman (who is in a tube because I found it lying around and thought it was funny...) are all from the recent DC Universe Classics line. The lines only three waves in, and has hit some of the high notes, but a lot of big names still haven't shown up yet, like Flash or Green Arrow. Man, I thought that old DC Direct Green Arrow figure had held up a little better, but it seems really dated, and that later Flash isn't much better. I don't know where I put the DCUC Red Tornado, either: he didn't end up with any lines, but the old DC Direct one is on the right side of some of the pictures. I've had two of those, and the arms break super-easy, since Reddy seems like he should have a glove swivel and he totally doesn't.

Having Firestorm and Red Tornado there gives it a bit of an old-school Satellite-era League feel, but I'm a little disappointed I didn't have a good Wonder Woman or Black Canary figure for this. Then again, Hal and female friends...that he hasn't or doesn't or refrains from making passes at...probably kind of a short list. Any party with booze and Hal and Ollie? The JLA's liability coverage probably doesn't cover for them to have girls there too.

The "JLA Satellite" is mostly Star Trek bridge stuff, old-school and old: the 'viewscreen' scenes are from the old Mego Bridge, which is being reissued next year and is really tempting; and the console and chair are from Art Asylum's Enterprise line. (Like I mentioned before, Greg the Bunny had a great looking picture using that as a set piece.) Aquaman's tank, which I know he doesn't really need but it's fun, is from a movie Hulk toy. Oh, the helmets, which I'm really hoping I didn't use all of them in the Deadpool/Speed Racer one...crap. Well, the space helmet's from Enterprise again, and the green-yellow one is Rouge Trooper's. (EDIT: Oh, hell, it is not: that's the helmet of Johnny Alpha, Strontium Dog. Cool, but Rouge Trooper's Helm is chattier and cooler...)

I don't know if more's been added lately, but there's a pile of head injury comedy at Sleestak's Green Lantern Head Injury Project. Fanwank just had a GL strip the other day, SallyP is on at least day two of Whack a Lantern Week, and Sea of Green is dishing out beatdowns to GL's too. There's like an 80-page giant of punishment for Green Lanterns this week, so check 'em out. Read more!

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Your happenstance panels for today:
From Bill and Ted's Excellent Comic Book #1, "Party On Dudes!" Written and pencilled by Evan Dorkin, inks by Stephen DeStefano. I have a copy of this somewhere, but I saved this one from the same yard sale I got a Dark Crystal Super Special. I don't know if someone thought they were going to be collector's items someday, they weren't in great shape, but I'll give 'em a good home. Read more!

Monday, September 08, 2008

How many candles would be on Green Lantern's cake?

"Allowing for decompression, Crisis, the time he spent dead and as the Spectre, the time he spent in the future, One Year Later...you may need a separate sheet to show your work."

A little link trail first: we started with a search on Ask Cerebra, which lead to a post on Pretty, Fizzy Paradise that linked to the DC Universe Calendar. All this to find Green Lantern Hal Jordan's birthday, which is actually February 20; but we're not waiting around for that. Wednesday, Green Lantern's birthday. Be here!

Oh, and we'll talk about the set and the toys then, but a quick thanks and heads up to the photostream of Greg the Bunny that reminded me I had one of those set pieces... Read more!

Friday, September 05, 2008

"Cue fight music in three, two, one..."
Of course, in about three seconds, Kirk's gonna wish he had his yellow shirt.
I slapped this together as a joke, but now I have to wonder: Captain James T. Kirk versus Green Lantern Hal "Highball" Jordan? In a fistfight, I gotta say Hal in three rounds, but I figure he'd know he'd been in a fight. And five bucks says both their shirts conveniently rip.

By the by, are pilots encouraged to give themselves callsigns after drinks? 'Cause I'd call "Gin fizz." Read more!

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Ever wonder who would win in a fight: Arnold Schwarzenegger or Orlando Bloom?

What the hell kind of question is that? Oh, I brought it up? Well, we aren't even really close to that one, but we are going to look at Conan versus pirates!

Now, Conan actually spent a good chunk of time when he was younger as a pirate himself, eventually quitting the seagoing life (for the most part) when his love and pirate queen, Belit, was killed. Eventually, Conan became king of Aquilonia and took a wife, and that's where we come in.

I never need to hear about Iron Bone's leather bags again. Thanks. In a seafaring smash-and-grab, the dread pirate Iron Bones and his mottled crew kidnap said wife, Zenobia; planning to get a king's ransom for her. Or something. This is almost a good idea, except they're trying it on Conan, who at this point in his career, has killed more people than death. Really, it would've been common knowledge that Conan killed his way up the ladder to king, right? Maybe you wanna try the queen-napping next door in Ophir or something?
Sullen? Or goth? You make the call! Conan arrives back from another adventure ready to see his wife, only to find out she's seeing her folks off on a state trip. Upon getting the message of her kidnap, he leaves the country to his regents, again. Considering the state of long distance communications in the Hyborian Age is pretty much yelling, they probably ran the show most of the time anyway.

Conan stomps down to the nearest ship he can find, with a squad of cannon-fodder soldiers; and commandeers it. In fact, we don't really see the captain of the ship, he may have opted out of this little pleasure cruise.

Meanwhile, after several of the obligatory tankards of grog, Iron Bones decides to inspect his prize, toying with her until his first mate, the dreamy Nestor, stops him: Later, Nestor chats up the queen: turns out, they were both from Nemedia. The king at the time drove out Zenobia and her parents, while Nestor took to the sea. Zenobia's confident Conan's sailing to her rescue, giving Nestor the perfect shot for a great line: "He'd be a blind fool who wouldn't risk his all for a beauty like Zenobia." Unluckily for him, the tender moment is interrupted by Captain Bones throwing a cheating sailor over the side.

Meanwhile, the crew of the ship Conan's taken has come to the conclusion that he's pirated their craft, which is pretty accurate, honestly. They rise up, and Conan calls it a mutiny, but they're just defending themselves and their ship from the crazy barbarian who's taking them to fight pirates. In the fight that follows, Conan punches a guy off the crow's nest, then dives overboard to try and save one of his own men, which leads to a shark fight. Naturally. Again, King Conan's killed creatures great and small, and doesn't seem to bothered about it:

Conan and his men retake the ship, the surviving sailors put in irons. Shortly thereafter (well, "several days later," but it's on the same page) they find the pirate ship. Iron Bones wants Zenobia tied to the mast, planning on killing her if the deal goes south or the ransom's not in his color or just if he feels like it. Nestor protests, then challenges Bones for the ship.
Zenobia's already getting a little soft on Nestor, and is concerned for the three seconds it takes him to gut Bones. Nestor then unties her, but explains that she belongs to the ship, and her ransom to the crew, so he can't just turn her over to Conan. But fighting for her is OK. Which would also dick the crew out of their ransom, but all right.

Conan arms his crew, including the mutinous sailors, assuring their cooperation by scuttling their own boat: they'll take the pirates' ship, or die. The ships engage, Conan quickly hacking his way to Nestor, who is likewise doing a number on Conan's men.

Sullen? Sleepless? Or really goth? Mentioning you're after his wife, mid-duel, probably wasn't good form, but I guess too late now. Conan rescues his wife, and has the start of a good laugh at the idea that one of those scurvy pirates wanted to keep her for himself. Zenobia strides up to the deck to see:
From King Conan #19, "Bones and a Blade" Written by Alan Zelenetz, pencils by Marc Silvestri, inks by Mike Gustovich. I liked this issue, but the coloring isn't anywhere near as sharp as a more modern comic--but it's more nuanced then the usual four-color frenzy. I'm not a huge Silvestri fan either, since I'm only familiar with some of his X-Men and Cyberforce work and it always seemed to have more lines than it needed to. Still, this doesn't seem as rendered, but that may just mean the inks are overpowering it. Or maybe I'm overthinking very early work from Silvestri just because of the name attached. The art's very Marvel-Conan of its time.

Although Marvel's Conan the Barbarian has been collected at least in part, and Savage Sword of Conan is in the midst of being reprinted (although I'm not sure of the availability, and weren't a lot of those previously reprinted in Conan Saga?) I don't know if anyone's jumping up and down for King Conan/Conan the King to hit the shelves again. I bought the series regularly from #28 until cancellation, but a key factor there was that I distinctly remember it came out bimonthly, towards the start of the month, on a week that was a bit slow release-wise for me. In other words, when it hit the spinner rack, there wasn't anything else I was going to buy, and damned if I wasn't going to buy something.

Conan the King was bimonthly, but counter intuitively, it was more continuity-heavy than either Conan the Barbarian or Savage Sword. So every two months, it was a bit of a chore to try and recall which regent was Prospero and which one was Trocero and what countries were allied with Aquilonia and which against and so forth. And in the other Conan books, he was living free and easy, or rather, mowing down all who opposed him, drinking and wenching and having fun. As king, Conan had responsibilities, a wife, a kid (at least one); and seemed to feel tied down, stifled. The early issues especially, where he usually handed regency over to the aforementioned Prospero and Trocero (yes, Conan does the job of two older men) and ditched out to fight a wizard or stab some guys or whatever. I also think in the original Howard stories, as a king Conan had a beard, but Marvel probably figured nobody would want to read Grampa Conan.

I do wish I still had issue #28, which guest stars an somewhat improbably still-hot Red Sonja. I say "improbably" not because she would've been in at least her late forties (maybe fifties even) by this point in the series, but because she was in her late forties in an imaginary historical age where the average life expectancy was probably like twelve. At the first sight of her, the only "one that got away" in Conan's life, he's ready to ditch the crown, the wife, the whole magilla; to run around with "Son-ya" and play at being a thief again.

Best of my recollection, Sonja not only plays Conan for a sap in her scheme, she also pretty plainly lays out that Conan is not getting in her pants either. (She didn't wear pants, but that's neither here nor there.) It's a little embarrassing, to watch Conan get shot down, and have to swallow his pride and go back to his life. Sad, but it is one of two King Conan issues that I remember well, so there's that at least.

Oh, and the answer to the earlier question: Schwarzenegger wins, but then his wife resents him a little for it...

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

"Yeah, that'd probably be my Green Lantern oath, too."

Got the DC Universe Classics Green Lantern a couple weeks ago, but hadn't had time to take any pictures with him, since I had some bright idea for the lighting that took a bit to set up. (The Oldest had these little colored finger-lights that he got from some school fundraiser for selling candy or something, and of course the green one came in handy.) Great figure, right up there with the DCUC Aquaman.

We already talked about Alan, and I think we've mentioned Jade before, but the Kyle figure is starting to look a little dated. The costume hasn't aged that badly, but Kyle's hair just doesn't seem right. Kilowog, of course, is perfect.

More than ever, though, I wish I had good John Stewart (non-Justice League cartoon figures, of course) and Guy Gardner figures...especially since, I don't think I like Hal as much as I used to. Keep in mind, Hal was the Green Lantern I grew up with, from Challenge of the Super Friends to his own book to Green Lantern Corps...to cancellation, to a hit-and-miss serial in Action Comics Weekly, to a couple of specials where he didn't necessarily come across as heroic, and this is all before Kyle.

Kyle was perfect for Grant Morrison's run on JLA, and while I didn't necessarily agree with Hal's heel turn as Parallax, his redemption in Final Night wouldn't have been a bad spot for him to end. The Spectre days...from what I've read, "misfire" seems like the nice way to put it. Pawning all of Hal's crimes (or retroactively erasing them, like Kilowog's death) onto the evil yellow entity still seems a little cheap to me, but all right.

And now we've got Hal back, but we still have Kyle, the former rookie who's more than earned his spot; and Alan, the elder statesman; and John, the tragic thinker; and Guy...ah, Guy, who used to be a comic relief tough guy cartoon, but now seems a lot more fleshed out than Hal. All of the others, including several of the alien GL's, sometimes seem to be more realized characters than Hal, since he's often used as either the consummate professional superhero, or a skirt-chasing rule-breaking flyboy.

The problem was underlined for me, in, of all places, Booster Gold #1,000,000. For those of you not reading the book, maybe you should, but Booster used to be a shill, a fake: he wanted to be a super hero for the fame, money, and women. Now he's grown up a bit, but is tasked with protecting the time stream, but there's a catch: Booster has to maintain his bad reputation, allow his friends, and the world, to think he's a joke, in order to protect himself from time-travelling attack.

A disgruntled Booster ends up in Vegas fighting the Royal Flush Gang--the super-villain team he first fought in Justice League #4 to gain membership--and isn't having a lot of trouble, when Green Lantern and Green Arrow show up to bail him out. They just happened to be in town, to catch a fight; which just struck me as something really old; and perhaps unintentionally, they come down on Booster a bit like the establishment. Like characters from the sixties. Booster--friggin' Booster Gold has moved forward. Why haven't GL and GA?

Oh, but now Green Lantern has purple lanterns. Yeah, that makes up for any lack of character growth. Sinestro's yellow ringbearers, that's cool; but I don't know if I can care about blue lanterns or zombie lanterns or whatever. Unless they get to the ultraviolet lanterns, who are all absurdly tanned.

A longer Green Lantern-centered strip is in the works, pending some prop and background work. We'll see what I think of him then...

I did do an alternate take for this one, and it's over at my flickr page.

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

"Your happenstance panels for today:"

From Deadpool #35, "Chapter X, Verse Two" Written by Christopher Priest, pencils by Paco Diaz, inks by Andy Smith. As if this scene wasn't enough, this one's got Death captured, Deadpool as a decoy for the Hobgoblin, and then the Frightful Four: the Wingless Wizard, Taskmaster, the Constrictor, and Pool. The Thing guest stars.

I don't think I appreciated this one enough at the time, but the above is still one of my favorite bits. Read more!

Monday, September 01, 2008

"Is...is anyone else seeing this?"

I was setting something else up, and this hit me upside the head. Anyone else see the resemblance between:

Did I just figure out Green Lantern's secret identity or what? The worst part is, both John McCain and Alan Scott are vulnerable to jabs with wooden spears...(that is a terrible joke, that thankfully, only Republican Green Lantern fans will get, Sally, Sea, hope you're voting for Obama!)

McCain photo from the Wife's US Weekly, and Alex Ross did the redesign for the Kingdom Come Green Lantern. Why did Mark Waid and Ross go with Alan Scott instead of Hal, John, Guy, Kyle, Kilowog...? (I know why not Kyle, but...) Read more!