Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When Bad Ideas Clash!

Not Quicksilver or the Black Knight, specifically, but what's the baddest bad idea on this page?

A. Pietro thinking he can take Dane, after a couple of sword-fighting lessons, and without using his speed?

B. Dane, for thinking fighting his way past Pietro is going to be the way to win back Crystal? (Actually, did Dane ever get that far? I think Sersi blocked him a lot.)

C. Crystal, for thinking she could ever talk anything through with either of those two?

D. Marvel, for thinking Quicksilver could carry his own book?

Well, probably Marvel there, but it wasn't a terrible book. And I like the idea of Pietro and Dane being respected, well-known super-heroes, Avengers of distinction and bravery, who will absolutely try to kill one another if put in the same room for five minutes.

Crystal (and Pietro's sister, the Scarlet Witch) returned from their stretch on the Heroes Reborn world, and to her credit tried to give time to her husband and daughter, but the Black Knight kept pushing to see her, even after the Lady of the Lake advised him to quit it. Even though his charges, the Knights of Wundagore, were currently missing (and captured) Pietro tried to stick with Crystal, which admittedly wasn't going great before Dane showed up. Pietro gives Dane the bum's rush at superspeed, so Dane smashes through a window with his winged horse; and before you can say "domestic disturbance" it's go time!

Since he foolishly tries to fight probably the best swordsman in the world on even terms, Quicksilver doesn't do very well. Although, Dane does clock him one in the face with his shield: strictly speaking, that didn't strike me as chivalrous, since Pietro didn't have one of his own. Regardless of the outcome, Crystal is pretty pissed at both of them, even before the fight wakes up Luna. By the way, how is Luna older than Franklin Richards now? Anyway, Crystal tells both men she loves them, but takes Luna and returns to her family in New Attilan. Don't feel bad, guys: it's not like you lost her to Johnny Storm...or the Sentry...or Ronan the friggin' Accuser...

I'd have to look it up, but I think Crystal had just as long of a tenure in the Avengers as Sersi; but neither is the top of anyone's list of favorites, are they?

From Quicksilver #7, "I Love You, Goodbye" Written by John Ostrander and Joe Edkin, pencils by Ivan Reis, inks by Randy Emberlin. I know Quicksilver and the Black Knight would meet again not too much later in a crossover with Heroes for Hire, but I don't know if they ever buried the hatchet. I kinda prefer to think they didn't...

(Out of office yesterday, but it turned out pretty well. Anyway, I had this one prepped for just such an occasion!)

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Timing, part thirty-nine:

Two more pages, after the bump!

I have no idea who is in that picture. But he's got a Milk and Cheese "Gin Makes a Man Mean!" t-shirt. So should you.

For the picture with Ms. Marvel and Pool's head, I wanted to try to get a Frazetta-style pose for Kurt. It's barely visible, but they're standing on the base that came with the first Marvel Legends Thor.

And Deadpool had his head lopped off, and awkwardly jammed back on, fairly recently in one of the last issues of Cable and Deadpool. Pool's a little worried about brain damage, but not overly so. I suspect the parts of his brain that worried about that were the first to go.

Coming up on the homestretch: more on Thursday! As far as the rest of the week, I have no idea... Read more!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Your Happenstance (Page, Cover) of the Day:

Thundra in action, from Quicksilver #2, "The Wrong Day to Start a New Life!" Written by Tom Peyer, layouts by Rob Haynes, pencils by Casey Jones, inks by Jason Martin. A nice page, although, I'm pretty sure Thundra was in one of the first Fantastic Four comics I ever read--one of the old Perez issues, maybe around FF# 184--I don't have more than a handful of issues with her. I think I may have the issue, and I'm going to guess again, West Coast Avengers #75 or so, probably written by Roy Thomas; that pairs Thundra up with Akron the Imperion. Yeah, the tool with the lightning bolt javelins. Man, Thundra could do better.

I had another writeup and pages from Quicksilver's short-lived solo series, but I guess I haven't posted it yet. Well, it'll turn up.

God, I thought this was the end of the month, but there's still a few days left. Swell. Even though I've been super busy, I did have time to re-read most of this:

Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Empyre, written by Will Murray. Cover by Joe Jusko. Huh, I knew Murray did a ton of Destroyer novels, but he also co-created Squirrel Girl with Steve Ditko! I have a ton of these Marvel novels from around 2000 or so, but haven't bought any recently, so if anyone has a newer one to recommend, let me know. Just based off the few I remember, the covers were better on the older ones...In the meantime, I'm going to finish this, and try to ride out the rest of this month. Wish me luck!
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Timing, part thirty-eight:

What indeed, after the bump!

I had a scene written, where Kurt, stuck in Hoboken and tired from teleporting, calls the apartment and gets Bob, then proceeds to yell at him for several panels. Unfortunately, I had two problems: I couldn't find (and didn't have time to cobble together) an in-scale phone booth. Not that there are phone booths anywhere anymore, but it would've been a good visual, and Clark Kent would probably have been waiting outside.

That, and the scene wasn't funny. Not that a little thing like that has stopped me before, but this time it was easier to cut it than force it.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

This never happens to that other fellow...

Or does it? Well, first off, how many of you would've recognized Namor there, if he hadn't said his name? The red discs on the costume remind me of Ikaris.

But, although the Sub-Mariner and Aquaman seem to share a lot of the same problems--like losing their wives or other family members, and being dethroned repeatedly--the Sub-Mariner seems to get hit with the loss of his ability to breathe underwater more often. I'm not even a big Namor fan, and I'm pretty sure I can think of like two other times it's happened: in his old book, an issue included with his first Marvel Legends figure; and in Super-Villain Team-Up. ("Pretty sure," but if I'm wrong, leave a comment!) I don't think it happens to Aquaman as often, if at all, does it?

Panel from Marvel Team-Up #11 (1998), "Iron Pirates" Written by Glenn Herdling and Tom Peyer, pencils by Javier Salteres, inks by Chris Ivy. The last issue of this incarnation of the series featured Iron Man, Namorita, and Namor punching it out with the Wrecking Crew, who have a good laugh at Namor's expense when they realize he's under that mask. In the end, Vulko--oops, I mean Vashti, injects Namor with a placebo and tells him it's the OX drug the Atlanteans use to breathe air. Namor is cured, but cuts off dealings with the "surface power-brokers...and the helots that work for them."

Also, towards the end, Namorita either steals a page from Aquaman's book, or Topo makes an unauthorized crossover:
And Namorita's blue today, for some reason.
Your call on that one.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nine random line items:

1. Dear alternative radio playlist makers: please remove Soundgarden's "Spoonman" at your earliest convenience. Immediately replace it with "Pretty Noose." That is all.

2. So, it's been a couple of days since the Battlestar Galactica finale...I didn't hate it, no. But I didn't love it, either. (This isn't going to be very spoilery, just my impression, if you're waiting to see it.) More like, I can appreciate what the creators were trying to do, but; and this is probably due more to my personal taste and bias, but: even though my suspension of disbelief can cover the cheesiest of giant Kaiju monsters or the wobbliest of old cardboard sci-fi sets, whenever the hand of God is involved, I have a harder time accepting it. Which is ironic, since sci-fi (and comics) pulls out the deus ex machina rabbit-out-of-a-hat last minute save all the time. And as long as there's a hand's wave of an explanation, I'm fine with that. It might not be completely satisfying, but it sits better with me than, "God's will." That probably says as much about me as it does about Galactica, though. And it may say something that I'm still chewing it over now.

3. I guess the title "Nine Random Line Items" is a bit of a misnomer. They aren't completely random, just things I've been thinking about. If there was an item that was just, say, Pork noodle chowder thrower cannon...that would be closer, I guess.

4. Years ago, I used to work customer service at a Future Shop; before they went under. Think Circuit City, only gone sooner. Not a terrible job, really; since there were a lot of fun people there. But part of my job seemed to be keeping customers away from the computer techs. Now, the customers may very well have had legitimate questions about what was wrong with their computer; but it probably wasn't cost or time-effective to have the techs walk them through it when they should be just fixing it. That, and the techs were terrible with the customers. They were all cool otherwise, but after working on the same problems all day, the techs would be frustrated that any given customer couldn't understand it.

It's not a rational frustration, but I seem to be getting it myself lately. I explain the same things over and over and over some more; and damnit, I'm got it down, why don't you!? Because I haven't talked to you before, because you haven't done this a million times, because this isn't your field of expertise...there's a lot of possible reasons before we get to 'because you're a damn moron' or 'because annoying me is your only purpose on this earth.' And yet the mind goes there straightaway. I'm usually as patient as a zen monk, so I'm trying to write off recent crankiness as weather-related: it's still been too wet to ride in the morning. Soon.

And almost immediately: as I type this, it's snowing lightly. It won't last or stick, but...man.

5. I need a haircut. Badly.

6. It's probably a moot point after the relatively disappointing performance of the movie, but everyone seemed to be getting into those "After Watchmen, what's next?" lists. So, we'll hit that topic far past it's expiration date...now, I loved Preacher and Transmetropolitan (and Planetary, but I'll come back to that one) and would be thrilled to see more people reading those, sure. But I'd recommend for readers post-Watchmen the works of Kyle Baker, starting with Why I Hate Saturn or The Cowboy Wally Show. I realized recently I must've lent out my copy of I Die At Midnight and never got it back, so I reread You Are Here instead. All of Baker's work has great, stylish cartooning; and accessible, engaging characters. You don't need to have read comics for years to read Baker.

Ooh, I should be able to think of more off the top of my head. I think the Garth Ennis/Killian Plunkett Unknown Soldier from Vertigo a few years back would do well there. I think it's the most cinematic work I've seen from Ennis, and I love the art in it, and it's got the murky, ambiguous morality someone coming off Watchmen could be interested in. Howard Chaykin's American Century might pull a few readers as well, if presented right: predating Mad Men by a few years, it was a period piece set in the fifties with Chaykin's traditional eye on loose morals and self-serving heroism. Darn, I need to re-read that one now.

More behind the break!
7. On Planetary, I know there's been some rumblings on when the last issue is going to come out, which would, y'know, be nice. If I was better organized, I would have a specific box for orphaned, unfinished series, where books like Planetary and La Cosa Nostroid would languish with Daredevil: The Target and Sonic Disruptors. Scud, the Disposable Assassin was in such a state until it was finally completed, and then you get not only the conclusion, but it's like getting the old issues back. I loved that series, but knowing (at the time) that it may never be finished really undermined my enjoyment of it. So, I'm looking forward to the end of Planetary, so I can read the old issues again. That makes sense...right?

8. Even though we're quickly approaching some magical digital utopia where everything is available digitally (unless the financial dystopia hits first, and no one can afford houses to keep their computers in...) there's so much stuff that I've lost over the course of years that I'll never be able to replace. I was setting up a new minidisc full of music last night, and was dismayed at how much I don't have. Even though my archaic computer's so full of music it runs like crap, I still don't have every song I can remember having: I wanted the Breeders' "Do You Love Me Now?" and Iron Maiden's "Seventh Son of a Seventh Son" and I didn't have either one. (Good lord, "Seventh Son" was a ten minute song?) Or Prince: I used to have a ton of old Prince stuff, and I think it got stolen years ago. Or the Talking Heads' "Slippery People," from the Stop Making Sense album I haven't seen in years.

My musical tastes are doubtless dated, since when I stopped working in a music store, I stopped being exposed to it on a regular basis. Gah, I think the last CD I bought (he still buys actual CD's! The man's a dinosaur!) was Portishead's last album. Still, although my computer and my minidisc and several boxes are full of music, my head seems to be filled with more. A common problem, I imagine.

Incidentally, am I the last person alive to still use regular headphones, with the hard band? I don't care for the little in-your-ear earbud things.

9. There is no ninth item.

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Overthinking a panel from the comics adaptation of Transformers:

So, just because you're boned doesn't necessarily make it the Autobots' darkest hour: don't think too highly of yourself. Ugh. It's Monday as I type this, the tail end of a spectacularly crappy day. In fact, that may be figurative and literal: I think I stepped in poop and later got some on my hand. On my way home, though, I finally had a second to listen to the old Batman & Robin soundtrack CD. Why would I have the soundtrack to such a terrible movie? Well, I'm a terrible packrat, and a big Underworld fan. ("Moaner," which plays during some awful Robin scene, but don't hold that against it.) I dragged it out to listen to Smashing Pumpkins' "The Beginning is the End is the Beginning," better known as, the song from the Watchmen previews. And there's a line in that, "In your darkest hour..." which in turn reminded me of this, from Marvel's adaptation of Transformers: The Movie. (#3, "The Final Battle!" Adapted by Ralph Macchio, pencil breakdowns by Don Perlin, finishes by Ian Akin and Brian Garvey.)

For those of you not up on your Transformers history, Ultra Magnus (seen above) had a brief tenure as leader of the Autobots; receiving the Matrix of Leadership from the fallen Optimus Prime. He wasn't great at it: Magnus was admittedly a soldier, more of a general than a president. With his back against the wall, though, he tried to open the Matrix, which legend said would light the Autobots' darkest hour. And this wasn't it yet. That would have to be a new low: realizing you, and the Autobots, weren't in the worst fix you'd ever be in. I suppose a glass-half-full person would say, hey, things aren't as bad as all that then, and you always have the Matrix for the ultimate worst-case scenario. You just haven't needed it, yet. Or, the worst-case isn't necessarily you dying; things could sink much further than that...and we're back to glass-mostly-empty there.

What I'm getting it is even when things look bleak, well, they could always be a lot bleaker. But bleak, bleaker, or bleakest is no excuse to give up. After all, I got through Monday, right?

For good measure, here's Ultra Magnus' entry from Transformers Universe #4, although he looks a little more squat there than he should. I haven't bought any Transformers toys in recent memory, but I probably have a couple smaller figures of him. I may have to try and dig one up now.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Timing, part thirty-seven.

Why is Ultron tiny? Continuity!

Only a few chapters left, then I have to think up something else. Uh-oh. The return of tiny Ultron wasn't really planned, since it could've been built up more.

Since I made this strip, the baby mutant has gone on to get a proper name, and maybe age a few years, in the regular Cable book. Dr. Strange is about to be replaced as Sorceror Supreme, Nick Fury 616 has realized S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA were related organizations; and no matter how good I hear that series is, until they reveal those were just fronts for H.A.T.E. and the Beyond Corporation, I'm not biting. Ultimate Nick Fury is still stuck in the Squadron Supreme universe, and Frank is still Frank.
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Friday, March 20, 2009

Your Happenstance panels for today:

From Hulk 2000, "Basic Instinct" Written by Paul Jenkins, art by Mark Texiera with Richard Clark. Guest-starring the Avengers, this is the issue where the Hulk tries to...get with, his cousin, the She-Hulk. Jen of course will have no part of that, but instead of merely being creeped out, she ends up feeling miserable for abandoning him. (Jen also appears in a winsomely wholesome milk ad on the back cover!)

Oh, um, but hey, Iron Man! This wasn't set in the seventies, this was during the surprisingly long stretch in 2000 or so where Tony went back to the old suit, after his current model gained sentience and went bad. It wasn't a bad idea, but I maintain it went on way too long. It was the equivalent of Tony just burning out and showing up for work in a hoodie and baseball cap for a while, just phoning it in.

Still, more nice Texiera art, and that's it for this week!
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Best news I've heard all week!

Awesome news from over at the Beat, of the most violentest, skull-crushing, eye-gouging, lead pipe smashing, capital-M-and-some-umlauts Metal crossover ever: The Goon vs. Deathlok!

Even though I don't read Eric Powell's book regularly, I'm still really looking forward to...wait, what? Dethklok? From Metalocalypse? Shoot. Well, that's still pretty good. I guess.

Actually, that does look like a lot of fun, and put me down for one...although I still think about what might've been.
Points for anyone who i.d.'s the guitar!
Yeah, maybe not.

Say, does anyone actually have any of those Dethklok/Metalocalypse figures? I only started watching it recently, and I think they were a con exclusive or a limited run from Shocker Toys. I'm not in the market for 'em, I was just curious if they were any good, and I'm still waiting for my Scud figure, Shocker.
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Thursday, March 19, 2009

A caption box, a footnote, two thought balloons, and six word balloons.

I count Kitty/Karza and Xavier's balloons as one each...

Yeah, suck it, decompression! Back in the day of four issue miniseries, with three superhero teams, and two writers; no one involved had time to fool around. From X-Men/Micronauts #1, "First Encounter" Written by Chris Claremont and Bill Mantlo, pencils by Butch Guice, inks by Bob Wiacek.

Anyway, we've mentioned Micronauts #37 before here, but this panel's where Nightcrawler finally gets to show the other X-Men he wasn't insane, drunk, and/or lying about the tiny aliens that wrecked the living hell out of the Danger Room. Also, it's already the second time that Professor X would go evil; the first was just for a fill-in, the third was the charm with Onslaught.

I still love this series, even though it's doubtless overwritten to within an inch of its life, it features the New Mutants much more prominently than I care for, and between them both the X-Men and the Micronauts should be able to come up with about a dozen alternate means of shrinking or enlarging themselves. Still all kinds of fun. With the rights for the Micronauts long gone, it'll never be reprinted, but you can find it easily enough. Chop-chop! Read more!

Timing, part thirty-six.

And if all you have is hammers, every problem becomes a nail, eh? I suppose Dr. Strange probably would've had a less-violent solution, but job one is probably "Don't get shot."

Even though I may not be convinced it needed to be a four-part crossover, the Deadpool/Thunderbolts fight does have the bonus of being the first story I'll have read with the all-new Irredeemable Ant-Man. Who still doesn't really look like this one here, but that's fine.

Longer strip on Monday: sometimes, they split up where they split. We'll have another vaguely related panel later today, though...
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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

If Cirque de Soleil wore costumes like this, I'd make less fun:

BTW, opposite this page: an ad for NBC's teen Saturday morning lineup. Yay. One of my favorite pages, from a favorite single issue: Batman: Gotham Adventures #6, "Last Chance" Written by Ty Templeton, pencils by Rick Burchett, inks by Terry Beatty. Even though a pre-dead Boston Brand had appeared in the Batman animated series' continuity before, this issue almost completely covers Deadman's origin and major story arc, finding his killer, the man with the hook.

I like the character a lot, and will usually pick up a Deadman guest appearance or reprint whenever I can, whether it's in Batman, the Spectre, or Legion of Super-Heroes. But I haven't followed as much of his solo stuff, like his appearances in Action Comics Weekly or his Kelley Jones miniseries or even his recent 2001 mini Dead Again and short-lived series. (Come to think of it, I've read most of his 80's miniseries, with art by Garcia-Lopez, I think; but not the last issue. Have I? Now I can't remember if I read it, or saw the ending somewhere.)

Here's a recap page, from Dead Again #1, "The Quick and the Dead" Written by Steve Vance, art by Leonard Kirk and Rick Burchett.

This issue was set during the Crisis of Infinite Earths, as Deadman tries to help the newly departed Flash to his final reward, only to have Flash's soul caged by evil wizard Darius Caldera. I haven't read the rest of the series but Deadman fights Caldera at other key deaths in DC history, specifically Jason Todd, Superman, and Hal Jordan. Considering none of those are currently dead, Boston must've done better than we thought...actually, Marvel ran into this problem, more than once, with the Legion of the Unliving, almost all of whom have at some point moseyed on back to the land of the living.

But then, how many comics have there been, where say, Captain America, at death's door, saw Bucky? Or Batman turned away from his final reward by Jason Todd? Reckon there's got to be a couple, and then it turns out those wacky sidekicks weren't dead at all, which would imply that most of the time when someone about to die sees a loved one, it's a hallucination. Well, that's a downer. Or maybe a warning to drop that particular old cliche. Either or.
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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Recent comics, Mel Brooks references, toys I'm not buying; all over the map today:

In case you missed it last week, X-Men: Manifest Destiny: Nightcrawler came out, and I liked it. Now, over at If Destroyed, Still True there's a more objective review, but this issue strongly exceeded my expectations. Well, that's damning with faint praise, since my expectations--based on the solicit for this issue as "Quitting Time"--were pretty damn low. Lower. I was expecting the whole issue to be moping and flashbacks, possibly set to Boys II Men "It's So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday."

Not a pretty mental picture, huh? Fortunately, writer James Asmus skips a lot of that nonsense: Kurt is out the X-door by page four, on his way to Winzeldorf, Germany, to check out the Nightcrawler Museum. It's a good hook, and the rest of the issue doesn't quite rise to that level, it's still fun. And it's not like Nightcrawler gets center stage in the regular X-books ever.

Last week also had the new issue of Deadpool, which has been a little disappointing:

OK, that's not bad, and I'm sure I'm not the only one that's going to be able to work that line into conversation; but the issue feels a bit stalled. Deadpool's seeking revenge on Norman Osborn, who stole Pool's Skrull info, enabling him to kill the Skrull Queen and become America's sweetheart; more importantly, it cost Pool a huge payday from Nick Fury. So, Pool attacks Avengers Tower, which would be a terrible idea even if the building wasn't closed for remodeling, or Norman was actually there, or if Pool wasn't hallucinating something fierce. Wade fights some remote controlled Green Goblin junk and trips out until the Thunderbolts show up, setting up the crossover in Thunderbolts #130.

There's a couple funny bits, yeah, but a sequence with Norman Osborn as a giant stinkyhead...giant while Pool climbs the beanstalk (actually the elevator shaft, not a metaphor for anything...) goes on for too long, and seems to be killing time until the next chapter. Right this second, it doesn't feel like this needed four parts, and I don't know if I'll pick up the Thunderbolts issues. Disappointing, especially since early issues of Deadpool showed more promise. Or at least cheap, funny gags:
Yeah, anytime you can swipe from Young Frankenstein, you should. For example:
(From The Incredible Hulk Annual #16, "Quality of Mercy" Written by Peter David, pencils by Angel Medina, inks by Larry Mahlstedt. Part Three of "Lifeform," but pretty damn entertaining.)

I just wanted to throw those last two out there, since I don't know if I ever mentioned it before, but Young Frankenstein is one of the first movies I can remember ever seeing in the theatre. While I don't think it scared the hell out of me, ala Homer Simpson; I know it was probably many years before I saw it again and fully realized it was actually a comedy. I was pretty little, yeah.

Nightcrawler panel written by James Asmus, art by Jorge Molina and Adrian Syaf with inks by Victor Olazaba and Vicente Cifuentes. I think Molina did the stronger first end of the book.
Deadpool panels from issues #4 and #8, written by Daniel Way, art by Carlo Barberi (#4 only) and Paco Medina, inks by Juan Vlasco. Minus the big hallucination sequence, I really like the art, but it is going to clash something fierce with the Thunderbolts issues.

Two more Deadpool related notes: in anticipation of Pool's big screen debut in Wolverine: Origins, Marvel is starting to grind out a pretty respectable amount of spinoff and one-shots for Pool. And I still don't know if I'm going to front the money for any of them, although some of them could be perfectly fine. Just not sure yet.

Also, Deadpool gets a new figure in the Wolverine: Origins line. There will doubtless be a crappity movie one, but there's a sharp looking comic one in the three-and-three/quarter inch scale. Check out this link from MWC Toys and see for yourself, since I don't think I'm going to drop $8.44 at Wal-Mart for it. If I see it cheaper, maybe. But until then...
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Monday, March 16, 2009

Timing, part thirty-five.

And, that's how I'd get both Nick Fury's into the regular Marvel Universe. Why not? The Ultimate universe appears to be crashing and burning (with the possible exception of Ultimate Spider-Man, but even that appears to be getting relaunched soon) and it seems dumb to leave Fury-2 (the Samuel Jackson model) in the Squadron Supreme universe, since I don't see that being published much longer either.

Dr. Strange may appear shorter than some of the other characters here, but that's because of his cloak of levitation, which is putting a lot of load on the figure's knees: if this representation was accurate, the cloak would be made of the thickest wool known to man, and weigh about a metric ton non-levitating. That would explain why Strange is so often able to mystically throw it into someone's face and distract them, though.

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Your Happenstance panel for today:

Ah, but it's a big panel, a page and a half from The Atom Special #1, "Shrinking from the Past" Written by Tom Peyer, art by Steve Dillon, of Preacher and Punisher fame.

Ray Palmer isn't doing well: his old friend Professor Hyatt has a ticking clock face stuck to his own face, the usual suspect Chronos is comatose, and Ray himself is tripping something fierce. He's been having visions of those he's lost: Laethwen, his tiny alien girlfriend; Adam Cray, his replacement that was killed in Suicide Squad; and his own father. Oh, and as a bonus, Ray keeps seeing his wife Jean Loring at the moment he first saw her cheat on him. The Atom's just about ready to give up and check out of society...when his friend Norm walks in and sees the visions too. Kind of tough to gaslight someone when there's witnesses, but I love the term "gaslight" as a verb.

Good stuff, even if it's lessened by the fact that years later, Ray finally would shrink himself out of our world, for a couple years after Identity Crisis.

The real world's intruded on blog time a bit this week, but we should be a bit more back on track next week. Might even get to see Watchmen and do my part to save future mature-themed comic book movies, as is apparently my sworn duty that I don't remember swearing to...
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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Timing, part thirty-four.

Dr. Strange's mentor, the Ancient One, was like a thousand years old when he started training Strange. Did AO have any pupils prior to Strange and Baron Mordo, that maybe didn't achieve the rank of Sorceror Supreme? Or did he wait until he was ancient before he even thought about training a replacement?

Strange, then, is the product and caretaker of centuries, if not millenia, of mystic arcana, training, and belief. Cable, even without Sorceror Supreme on his resume, could be seen as the end of that line, since in his future there aren't any mystical beings. I'm not even slightly religious, but you have to figure anyone of any faith would have a hard time with the notion that their faith could be completely forgotten in the future. It's even worse than that for Strange: he was also defending the earth, if not the universe, from any number of horrible extradimensional things. If the post of Sorceror Supreme was vacant, Dormammu or worse could move right in.

So, you can see why Stephen might be a little emotional. But, it's kind of his fault; he really needs to get to training an apprentice or two. Good luck doing that in a manner that doesn't immediately reek of "Barry Lotter." Read more!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hey, Optimus Prime?

Is it OK if I take the day off today?

Thanks, you're a peach.

Out of the office today, but nowhere near as fun as that sounds, sorry. New Timing Thursday, though, and hope your day ran a bit more productive than mine.

Page from Transformers: Generation Two #6, "Tales of Earth, part three" Written by Simon Furman, art by Derek Yaniger. Flint and Hawk of G.I. Joe guest-star, and are kind of umimpressed even before Optimus delivers a rather poor showing. Can't knock it out of the park every time, guys.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Trying to give credit where its due. Maybe.

It's late, I'm tired, I worked overtime, the Oldest has got pinkeye for like the fifth time, and I wanna watch 24. But are we going to dog it out and skip a day? No! Not today, anyway.

I don't know if other comics bloggers hit this wall, but sometimes, when trying to mine a vein of old issues for comedy, I might hit something or have an idea that seems good, but might have been done before. Maybe it's talking about a specific character or issue or scene, or maybe it's a joke that seems funny, but you might have heard before. For example: the cover to Conan the Barbarian #108, I believe by John Buscema and Ernie Chan, the interior art team. Read the blonde's word balloon:

Yes, if only there was something Conan could drop, in order to run faster? I wouldn't be too disparaging of Conan in that situation...

A silly joke, but even though I went with it anyway, I had a vague notion that I had seen that bit somewhere before. Bully? Sims? Perhaps an old issue of Wizard, when they had enough staff to be funny? (Too soon?) I poked around on Ask Cerebra for a bit and still didn't find it, so why not? If anyone has made that joke before, please let me know, and I'd appreciate not feeling senile today.

In the same neck of the woods: I was flipping through the old Red Tornado limited the other day: art by Carmine Infantino, who I knew from Star Wars comics long before I read the Flash, and story by Kurt Busiek, who has gone on to a ton of stuff I've liked. I was going to run the little one-page origin recap of Reddy, since I felt I owed him for giving the poor android slightly less crap than I give Hawkman, or slightly more than Aquaman, to see how the pecking order runs...

Inks by Frank McLaughlin, from Red Tornado #1. Not a bad little series, with some amusing sequences of the Justice League of America, in particular Superman, being utter assholes. For some reason, this is one of maybe half a dozen or more DC mini's that I have three out of four issues of: the Demon (with Matt Wagner), Steve Gerber and Gene Colan's Phantom Zone, Mark Waid's Metamorpho...shoot, I know there's more floating around here somewhere...

Anyway, directly opposite of the above page in his own comic, they still ran Red Tornado's house ad, which wasn't too bad:

Which reminded me of something else, that may or may not have occurred to me before someone else brought it up: in the first series of DC Universe Classics figures, Metamorpho was the "Collect & Connect" build-a-figure, and Red Tornado one of those to be collected. How cool would it have been to get a disassemble-and-reassemble Red Tornado? It would've been a surprisingly comic-accurate action feature, and completely unobtrusive!

I think someone, probably on the message boards, beat me to that idea, although I couldn't say who or where. And it's entirely possible there's a completely reasonable reason why not, too. (It might not cost out compared to Metamorpho, it's too difficult to include the cape in a build-a-figure, it would turn the entire RT figure into a choking hazard...)

So, now I've got an entire post that may or may not be unintentionally plagarized. Huh. On the other hand, I've got a post with Conan and Red Tornado. And at the end of the day, that's something.
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Monday, March 09, 2009

Timing, part thirty-three.

Cable is back! Does this mean "Timing" is nearing an end? You'd think so, but...well, I think we're closer to the end than the beginning, anyway.

I wanted to have a sound effect for Dr. Strange's entrance, but didn't want it to just be "POOF!" And I don't know if Strange should be teleporting in like a Vegas act. There was a long stretch where Strange was every Marvel hero's "on-call" for weird crap. Powers not working? Call Dr. Strange! Teammate turned into a vampire? Call Dr. Strange! Hearing weird voices in your head? Hey, who else are you going to see? That quack Doc Samson? Shaman? As if!

...and now that I've brought it up, maybe I should try to find some. Hell. More on Strange and Cable next time!

Oh, and by the way, um, Strange Tales #169 doesn't exist. Not really, anyway: the title switched over to Dr. Strange there, although I don't think he kept that numbering for long. Read more!

Friday, March 06, 2009

Per Blog Law, here's the obligatory Watchmen post:

Sort of...click to hype-size!

While it's common knowledge amongst comic fans that the Watchmen were at least initially based on the Charlton heroes acquired by DC, I had it in my head that Silk Spectre was based on Charlton's Nightshade, about the only female hero in their roster. Guess she wasn't, or she was more based on characters like Phantom Lady. Whom I just happen to have an action figure of...(From the Beat, a link to a good piece on Charlton's history here)

It also occurs to me that while Blue Beetle seems like everyone's favorite, Captain Atom had a longer run at DC, fifty-seven issues. It would take two BB series to beat that.

Man, I can't wait for the DCUC Blue Beetle, but a new Question would be great. The color scheme, hat-mask, and limited articulation make the DC Direct version a little out of date. The trenchcoat seemed like a good idea at first, but the collar is too thick to fold down and blocked Vic's face. What there is of it, anyway. At any rate, take a moment before heading off to the Watchmen movie to remember not only the work of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons, but the work and the characters that may have inspired them, at least a little.

OK, that's long enough.

(Pool, looking around, Kurt with paper.)
POOL: Weren't we doing something else a second ago?
KURT: I don't know. Between the drinking, and not paying attention to you, I black out most of my days now...

POOL: That isn't good.
KURT: Beats the hell out of having flashbacks all day.
POOL: Touche.

KURT: Anyway, I was gonna go see a movie. You can come, if you aren't one of those people who talks to the movie...
POOL: Can I put M&M's in the popcorn?

KURT: Fine, whatever. Let's see...Well, I guess it's Watchmen or nothing this week...

(Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, the Question, and Phantom Lady smash in.)
KURT: Sonuva!

(Kurt, to Beetle, Cap)
KURT: What the hell is this!?
BB: We're getting the word out to boycott the movie Watchmen!
CAP: It's shameful, the way Hollywood has desecrated the artistic vision of Alan Moore!

KURT: And you're doing this door-to-door?
BB: Hey, we're super-heroes. We have to do things big. What, did you think we were going to blog about it or something?

(Pool, to Question, PL.)
POOL: Hey, there's something familiar about you guys.
QUESTION: Hurm. No, there isn't.

(Question, snaps Pool's finger.)
POOL: No, seriously, I thought I'd seen you guys--OW!
QUESTION: No, you didn't. Rude to point.

POOL: Asshat! You broke my finger!
KURT: You'll heal. Wait--Beetle, Captain Atom, Question--you're the Charlton Heroes! Watchmen was going to be based on you!

BB: That's right! And if Beardy McBrit hadn't queered the deal, that movie would be about us! Licensing, action figures, happy meals! Big bags of cash and international recognition, ####ed right in the ###, for "art"!
CA: Yeah! It could be me up there on that screen, exposing my junk to millions!

(Everyone stares at Captain Atom.)

CA: I mean...cash! Alan Moore dicked us over!

KURT: Look, that's a tough break and all, but it's more than likely Watchmen wouldn't have been, you know, WATCHMEN, if Moore had tried to do it with Peacemaker.

POOL: That's right, Kurt. And just as the movie doesn't take away anything from the book, the book and the Charlton characters are separate entities as well. Regardless of your influence on Watchmen, or vice versa, you are what you are, that is, colossal losers.

(Question breaks another finger.)
QUESTION: HURM. A=A, you=dick.
POOL: OW! Hey, aren't you supposed to be a girl now! And why are you talking like that?

(Question breaks another.)
QUESTION: HURM. AHURM. HKKKK! Oh, man. I've had a cold for weeks. And there's nothing grosser then trying to spit in this mask.

BB: I...I guess we'll just have to face facts: we're never going to be household names. But we can take comfort in the fact that in some small way, we helped inspire one of the greatest graphic novels of all time, and a major work of the last half of the twentieth century.

(Question breaks pool's finger again!)
POOL: Of course, they could never do a sequel to Watchmen, but you guys are still available--GODDAMNIT! I'm helping you now! That one just healed!
CA: Question, no! He's right! Even if we're seen as the knockoffs, we could still get a project!

(BB, CA, Question celebrating.)
BB: Woo! Hollywood!
CA: Yes! Goodbye pants!
QUESTION: Straight to DVD, here we come!

KURT: Great. Nice job, Wade. The sad thing is, it'll probably work.
POOL: Ah, don't be such a bringdown. If it gets them some work, more power to them. What I wanna know is, what you're doing with them...rrrrowr!

(PL snaps Pool's finger!)
POOL: Ouchie!
PL: Yeah, not even if you looked like Ryan Reynolds under there, which I know you don't.
KURT: No, he's right. I thought Silk Spectre was based on Nightshade...

PL: Maybe, but probably not. Still, it's hang out with these losers, or the Freedom Fighters.

KURT: Yow. Wanna go see Watchmen?
PL: Why not. Do you want Junior Mints or Hot Tamales?
KURT: Your choice, as long as you keep breaking Pool's fingers...
POOL: Hey!

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

Arrrrroooo, from the mooooon!

Over at Comics Oughta Be Fun, Bully's got Arrrooo From You going, which is like an archive of classic comic book howls. See a werewolf, and you'll see an Arrrooo before too long.
Boy, try and help a guy out...
See? Just a matter of time now. From Scud, the Disposable Assassin #11, "Neutron Dance: Dimension of Blood, part 2" Written by Mondy Carter and Rob Schrab, "produced" by Peter J. Alberts, "directed" by Rob Schrab.

This issue, in addition to the usual insanity, there's Scud with a werewolf's arm, a werewolf with Scud's arm that evolves into a black hole, the utter(ly unimportant) destruction of the planet Venus, and a spirited discussion about what kind of robot Scud is, as in, not a very good one.

Sweet Magilla Gorilla, I wish this book was on like issue #315 by now. But enough preamble, the AAAARRROOO!

It might not be appropriate for everyone (or little stuffed bulls sometimes!) and it may seem nonsensical to some; but I miss this book, and it's anything-goes feel. Scud has been collected now, and I might have to do another giveaway (after I mail out the last one...) of some dupes sometime. And thanks for reminding me of this one, Bully!

Tomorrow: who wanted Watchmen to be a movie even less than Alan Moore?
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Oh, most people would do a week of vampire books in October, but I pick March. Whatever.

From Badger #44, "Blood Sucker, part two" Written by Mike Baron, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Paul Abrams. I don't have part one, but suffice it to say, Badger, his boss the druid Ham, and pig vampire hunter Senator Bob Kasten fight vampires. Yeah, the Senator is an honest-to-goodness pig, which may be a commentary on a political figure, but also a vampire hunter, and he has a wooden leg, as part of the punchline to a terrible joke, but also because it's handy for a vampire hunter...
A nice nod to the masters there.
Anyway, I don't know if this had became the huge cliche that it eventually would, but Count Victor Velitnikoff mentions that Dracula died in 1978, and now he was king of the vampires. In a lot of vampire fiction, it became the standard for Dracula to either be a myth, misinformation perpetrated by Bram Stoker; or dead, making way for the writer's super-bad new and modern take on vampires.

In the same vein (boo!) later in the issue, Badger tries out holy water in a "battery-operated squirt Uzi," which I remember from 1989 or so; they never worked as well as you'd hope. Victor laughs it off: "I'm a new wave vampire! Do you think a priest praying over a glass of water is going to affect me!"

That may be the worst pick-up line, ever... Victor turns out to be in Madison, Wisconsin; since he's after Badger's therapist, Daisy; since she's still a virgin. (It's not that uncommon, is it? Well, maybe...) While Badger, Ham, and the Senator hunt for Victor, he's putting the moves on Daisy, which goes pretty well until he bites her.

When Badger and Ham show up to rescue Daisy, Ham accidentally turns Daisy into a frog, and is subsequently overcome with grief; leaving Badger to fight Victor on his own. Although in Blade and Buffy we would see vampires exhibit all kinds of martial arts skills, Baron may be one of the first to have a vamp actually mention training:

As a book, Badger could be either pretty straight-faced, or a bit more broad and satirical, depending on how Baron wanted to play it. This is one of the more "funny" issues, and not every bit hits, but more hit than miss for me.
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