Friday, July 31, 2009

Possibly the last deleted scene from "Timing"?

Hoo, boy. Way back in Timing, part 23; Deadpool had brought several dozen characters out of their proper places in time, by dicking around with the temporal distorter he got from MODOK. This was pretty much an excuse to throw a bunch of toys into a crowd scene, yeah. Hellraiser's Pinhead and Sulley from Monsters, Inc. were there, since I had initially planned a lot more interaction among the displaced refugees: there was going to be an Old Admiral Kirk vs. young Captain Kirk bit as well, but that one dragged on and I couldn't wrap it up. (I also needed McCoy there for one of the jokes, where the Admiral tries to get the doctor to give his younger self a vasectomy right on the spot.)

I bagged those ideas, justifying the cut by figuring that they would kill any forward momentum the narrative had, which wasn't a helluva lot in the first place. Timing had a set ending vaguely in mind when I started, but a lot of those figures were bought after I started, so it definitely wasn't planned out. But Sulley and Pinhead, I wanted them together since I figured they'd have tons in common! Both's raison d'etre is to cause great fear (meaning their Sinestro Corps t-shirts and probably in the mail), both live in shadowy realms connected to ours by mysterious artifacts (the Lament Configuration is a little more dramatic than the bedroom closet, unless you're four), um...both are blue. Ish.

James P. Sullivan, as his little voice chip introduces himself, was initially the Oldest's figure, back when he was an only child. It has long since passed on to the Youngest, who has a pretty good haul of Pixar figures, now that I think about it. (Are there Up figures? Seems unlikely, but...) I know I had to change Sulley's batteries when the Youngest was younger, and seriously bent out of shape when the figure stopped talking.

I was working in a mall when NECA's Pinhead came out--check out Shocka's review from here! I seem to recall there were six figures in the case, the full wave; and get them all and you could make your own Lament Configuration ("evil puzzley box" for non-fans) out of their bases. I bought Pinhead straightaway, which left the rest of the Cenobites lingering on the racks. I bought CD much, much later, marked down to like $2.50. Good idea on the box-building, bad idea on not packing Pinhead maybe a bit heavier.

And this one's way late posting, too: I know full well July has thirty-one days, since my birthday's August 1! Still on vacation, though, so I hope you're having fun as well!
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Your Happenstance page for today:

Meta-commentary from the Mouser, long before we had meta.
I mentioned getting this one a while back: Sword of Sorcery #5, "The Sunken Land" Story by Dennis O'Neil and Fritz Leiber, art by Walt Simonson and Al Milgrom. A fun little Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser story, with what has to be early Simonson art, but you can still catch glimpses of where he's going! Ditto the second feature with Jim Starlin.

Still out, but we'll probably still have more random stuff this week!
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Your Happenstance page for today:

From Excalibur #15, "Technet: Impossible Missions!" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Alan Davis, inks by Paul Neary. Not even midway through the Cross-Time Caper (which was not really a caper, they were lost!) and most of this issue goes to Gatecrasher, her Technet, and Captain Britain's crazy and super-powerful brother Jamie. Long before Exiles or even Sliders, Excalibur keeps going from one bizarre themed alternate world to another, with a brief stopover on their home earth that they accidentally leave and get lost again. Oops.

The Caper had it's moments, but was hindered by issues not pencilled by Davis, and went too long anyway. Davis would return to Excalibur years later as writer and artist, and those issues were even better. Read more!

Well, it's a variant I'd buy.

I don't know if Star Wars: The Clone Wars has reached that point in the storyline yet--in fact, I'm pretty sure it hasn't--but there may be some good stories in the Clone Troopers during the switch from Republic to Empire. During the war, the Clones seemed to enjoy both camaraderie with the Jedis and their clone-brothers, and a bit of self-expression in their helmet and uniform markings. (Which coincidentally would translate into more action figures than just a basic trooper.)

Maybe Order 66 turned that off, and when the Clones killed the Jedi, they also killed their own free will and individuality. Perhaps that turned them into drones as they became the Stormtroopers. Maybe not, though: most of the Stormtroopers didn't seem as...capable, let's say, as the average Clone. I'd guess the Empire eventually ran out of Clones, and started using recruits.

I haven't bought a new Stormtrooper in ages, since it's been a couple of years since I've bought a Star Wars figure. Two of those are Han and Luke in disguise, and one has a plug in his back since he was the "Crowd Control Stormtrooper" and came with a giant leaf-blower looking thing.

I don't know what Moon Knight's clone tag would be. Punchy? I may have a longer strip planned for MK, if I come up with an ending for it, but that's a ways off.
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By 'patrol' I mean, kill time until a fight scene.

Do superheroes still go on patrol? I don't seem to see that very often anymore, but I may not be reading the books where the hero would--Spider-Man probably still does, sure; but I'm momentarily stumped as to who else would. Daredevil, maybe?

Since as a little kid, I listened to the Power Records record of "And a Phoenix shall arise" like a bazillion times (check it here and here; it's split into two posts, but I believe there's a link to the MP3 there as well.) in my head Cap and the Falcon went on rooftop patrol a bazillion times. How much crime did they see that wasn't someone with a grudge against Cap coming to pick a fight? I'm guessing not a ton, and they probably couldn't do that today anyway without being followed by a news helicopter and photographers and gawkers.

Since this is a short one, we'll have another one-panel bit later today.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Your Happenstance page for today:

Entirely too much mustache coming at you from Astonishing Tales #34, featuring Deathlok the Demolisher; "And all the King's Madmen..." Produced, concept, plot and art by Rich Buckler; script by Bill Mantlo and inks by Klaus Janson. The "produced" tag never really caught on for comics, did it? Although, when I think of producers in terms of movies, I usually think "the guy that fronted the money."

I swear, I thought I saw Essential Deathlok in the Marvel solicits, but after a quick search, I either imagined it or saner heads prevailed. The collected Deathlok might not be a modern classic, but hey, it's not like Essential Werewolf by Night or Essential Godzilla are bloody Shakespeare, and I'm sure as hell glad I've got those. A collected Deathlok would be so much easier than trying to track all his appearances down; since I know he also showed up in Marvel Two-In-One and possibly Marvel Team-Up before his showing in Captain America in the eighties.
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Monday, July 27, 2009

They say there's someone out there for everyone, but...

With Grimlock there, that's the Daikū Maryū, or Space Dragon, from Gaiking. Pretty sure it was way bigger, so we're not to scale here. I have an old videotape with the first two episodes of the old Force Five dubs--from a box set of four of said five, omitting Spaceketeers; no great loss. I didn't remember Gaiking as clearly as the others. Grandizer is still my favorite, and Danguard Ace was a bit better than I remembered.

What were these figures called? Heroes of Cybertron, wasn't it? I still have a packaged Megatron one, since I got a silver-finished one off eBay or somewhere. I got the Daikū Maryū as part of a loose set from a local store, with Grandizer, Mazinger, Combattler, and the three versions of Getter Robo. I was completely blanking on the names until I looked it up: it was called Starvengers in America, and there were three jets that combined into a giant robot. Depending on the order they combined, they could form three different robots: Star Dragon, Star Arrow, and Star Poseidon. Even though I don't think they ever even went into space...I still have the VHS for the Getter Robo OVA's from years back. Combattler's the only one I've never seen at all.

Every few years, I go on a giant robot kick. Could be coming back around again.
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Play the Hulk game!

I'm on vacation, so entertain yourselves, damnit! From Super Heroes Puzzles and Games from 1979, a General Mills giveaway. Huh, I totally remember eating cereal to get Marvel stickers, but never saw this thing. And Dr. Doom screams go back 3 spaces!

This also features two-page origins for Spider-Man (minus the death of Uncle Ben), the Hulk, Captain America, and Spider-Woman.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

An empty desk, to match my empty head...

Little secret: I don't mind 'clutter.'
...and with that, I'm out for the next week or so! There will still be posts up, I'll just be nowhere near them. And I'm not 100% sure what I set up, either; but we'll have another new strip on Wednesday, anyway.

How many figures and toys are in my happy little cube? Good question! I haven't done a headcount in a while; even though I'm positive I'd notice if something was missing. There are twenty-two Nightcrawler figures, at last count; ranging from action figures and Heroclix to lead figures to kids' meal toys from around the world. (I wish I was hardcore enough to be able to say, yeah, that Jolibee Nightcrawler toy from the Philippines? Bought it when I was there last, it's all eBay for the imports.)

The Thing, Spider-Man, Dr. Doom and Optimus Prime are all well represented as well. Not shown above, but just to the left of my phone, is the Masterpiece Optimus. Usually, he's giving me the thumbs up I so desperately need at work; but today he's holding Megatron on a minidisc. I don't know why either. At any rate, have a good weekend, and a good next week, and I'll be back soon enough!
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The sudden and violent end of Whiplash's winning streak:

In Iron Man #26, as Tony goes down in flames after fighting Whiplash (on New Year's Eve, 1999!) he thinks he hears a voice say, "Help me, Tony--I'm dying." It's not from a blow to the head, or a relapse: the combination of Whiplash's directed lightning strike, Y2K, and wishing really hard, the armor he was wearing has become sentient.

Show of hands: who thinks that's going to end well? Come to think of it, when was the last time the newborn A.I. was greeted with open arms? These stories always go one of two ways: Artificial intelligence is created, goes evil in about 20 minutes; or A.I. created, is innocent and peaceful and gets burned at the stake by fearful, stupid man.

By this point, the armor has as much as declared his love for Tony; and convinced him to suit up for a test. The armor has seemingly proven trustworthy, since it could've bypassed Jocasta (the robot Avenger, she was currently without a body but had recently been rescued by Stark) and taken off; and Tony figures he can handle it. Either he can override the armor, or he's the only one that would get hurt. Yeah, about that...

As Tony and the armor warm up, Whiplash has already entered Stark airspace. Whiplash has geared up with multiple whip-slinging robotic arms, and is confident as hell. Like we saw, he's had a pretty good showing against Iron Man lately.

But the armor not only predicts all of Whiplash's moves, it remembers Whiplash was the one that hurt it before. It not only takes Whiplash's arms and jets apart, it pummels him for information.
Since the armor is both super-strong, and metal, this is a pretty brutal beating; but my sympathy for Whiplash is diminished a little by the fact that he had picked dozens of fights with Iron Man, and it never occurred to him that something like that could happen? Did he always just count on Iron Man being the good guy that wouldn't really hurt him, no matter what he did? Well, he's right on that count regarding Tony, but the armor was a wild card.

I had to go back and look, since I didn't scan it: I thought there would be a panel of Tony's eyes, trapped behind the Iron Man mask. The armor is more than capable of moving, and at this point, Tony is no more than ballast. As Whiplash says he's only doing this to get his son back, Tony can only watch as the armor murders Whiplash. And not with a dainty, neck-snapping "KR-RRAK!" but with a horrible "SPLURGCH" that implies a squishy brokenness.

Like a child, the armor shakes Whiplash, who won't wake up. Then it more or less shrugs, and drops the body into the ocean. "Oh, well." I do believe that was the last we saw, of Mark Scarlotti.

From Iron Man #28, (2000) "The Mask in the Iron Man, part three" Written by Joe Quesada, art by Sean Chen and Rob Hunter and (in these scans) Alitha Martinez and Rodney Ramos. I think Quesada was doing a pretty solid job of following Kurt Busiek; and I guess his run was only cut short by taking the editor-in-chief position. He did have a tendency to have to keep ramping up the cliffhanger endings: "Tony, your secret identity has been revealed!" "Tony, that was a dream, you've had a heart attack!" "Tony, your armor is alive!" "Tony, your armor is evil!" Quesada wasn't done yet, but I have to wonder how far he would've taken that...

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Iron Man may have underestimated Whiplash a bit:

I hadn't planned on turning this into Whiplash Week, but I ended up with a highlight reel of his gimp mask appearances. He doesn't make too bad of a showing for himself.
If you kill me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize.
Sometimes, if you face the same opponent over and over, whether in basketball or chess or fighting, you can feel pretty strongly that you have their number. That you know every move they've got, and that you've got it over them. Until they step it up. Maybe they pick up a weak spot in their game--like mobility, which Whiplash improves with a flying disc and later boot-jet things--or pick up some new technique--like Whiplash's new arsenal of whips, with varied effects. Or maybe, they just really want to beat you now.

Although one of these was a dream sequence, Iron Man doesn't beat Whiplash in any of these issues. Closest he comes is a draw, and he came out the worse in that one even. Of course, there's still the matter of Whiplash's death, which hopefully I'll get to before I go on vacation.

Panels from Iron Man #11, "Schedule Conflicts" Written by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Sean Chen, inks by Larry Strucker and Eric Cannon; Iron Man #8, "The Hunt" by Busiek, Chen, Cannon and Sean Parsons; Iron Man '99 Annual, "Power Tools" Co-plotted by Busiek, plot and script by Joe Casey, pencils by Terry Shoemaker, inks by Bud LaRosa and Shoemaker; and Iron Man #26, "The Mask in the Iron Man, part one" Written by Joe Quesada, pencils by Chen, inks by Rob Hunter.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

"Deadpool and I?"

Pretty sure Kurt had captions in his last solo book, but he wasn't as excited for them.
Sam really should have the suitcase in these panels.

When I first started the Deadpool and Nightcrawler strips, (back in February 2008? Really?) Cable and Deadpool was still running, but Cable had been gone for a bit. The book was winding down, and it looked like Deadpool might be joining the ranks of Marvel characters without a book of their own; forced to subsist on guest spots or on a team. Like a team would have, the original joke premise here, was that Marvel didn't think Deadpool could maintain sales on his own, and they bussed in Nightcrawler to help. (In the actual comics, I believe they know of each other, and Nightcrawler appears briefly in an early Cable and Deadpool; but I don't think they've ever really interacted. Of course, in the Age of Apocalypse, Kurt did kill Dead Man Wade...)

And now, while I haven't seen the sales numbers for all of them, Deadpool seems to be doing pretty well for himself. An ongoing, a limited, another ongoing, guest-spots in X-Force and versus Shang-Chi coming up...I haven't bought all of them, but rest assured, I will be getting the Shang-Chi one. Deadpool's dance card looks plumb full up, so, why not transfer him out and someone new in? (For now...maybe.)

The Falcon has been appearing here and there recently, usually in the pages of Captain America, but is a bit underused. I thought he was supposed to get his own book after Priest's Captain America and the Falcon ended, but that never materialized. I can see why the book was wrapped: it probably wouldn't have done for Priest and Ed Brubaker to be working at cross purposes, but maybe Marvel should've made the switch to a solo Falcon book midstream.

I'm still getting a handle on Sam Wilson, but Redwing I have pegged. Not unlike Ka-Zar and Zabu, Redwing is a lot like Captain America's shield: Mark Waid made the Zabu/shield comparison, and at the time I thought "what, he catches bullets?" Not quite. When you're watching one, you're not watching the other. If you're covering yourself to keep that big scary bird from clawing your face off, Falcon can waltz right up and punch you a good one. And if Sam's on the ropes, Redwing can swoop in for the assist. They're a tough team. But for our purposes, Redwing is kind of a loud, scary thing; and definitely looks down his beak at you.

So longer strips are back, every Wednesday! Yay! Except some may be longer than others. ...yay? Continued next week!
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Whatever happened to Blacklash?

Marc Scarlotti, a.k.a. Blacklash, a.k.a. Whiplash, returns in the Heroes Return Iron Man #8, "The Hunt" (Written by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Sean Chen, inks by Eric Cannon and Sean Parsons.) Even though he gives the unarmored Tony a good chase, Iron Man is not terribly threatened by his old foe. In fact, he's more curious what's up with the S & M wardrobe (Tony calls 'em like he sees 'em) and the name change. Angrily, Whiplash tells him "There is no Blacklash, tin man. There is no Blacklash--an' there never was!"

Iron Man wonders what happened to Scarlotti, in part because he seems to miss the dependable jobber he used to fight, but he also can tell the man's going through something bad. Whiplash admits his kid was taken away (presumably by social services, although that's not always a safe bet in the Marvel U.) and seems to be throwing himself into his work. With multiple energy whips and a new flying platform, he fights back Iron Man, eventually leaving not because he was beaten, but because he was paid to kill Stark, not Iron Man. (Tony's i.d. was a secret at this time, for the most part: he would receive a savage beating at the end of the issue because of a leak.)
Although Whiplash was a villain almost exclusively to Iron Man--I can't remember personally seeing him show up anywhere else, even during Acts of Vengeance, which seems perfect for that--whatever happened to him happened, in all places, Elektra #5-7, as noted in a editorial box this issue. Aside from Elektra: Assassin I've never been a fan of hers, but it's tempting to track those issues down; if only because I can't imagine Blacklash, Whiplash, either one being any match for Elektra, at all. Which probably explains why he didn't show up in a lot of other comics: wrong skill sets. He wouldn't be a match for the Hulk, Spider-Man or Daredevil would be too fast for him, his whip couldn't crack Cap's shield...
We'll check out another of his appearances at a later date--there weren't many left at this point--but I wonder if more people haven't realized, in the new movie, Rourke's character is named Ivan Danko, not Mark Scarlotti. Is it just a cosmetic change? Or, is it because Danko is really another Iron Man foe, the Crimson Dynamo? Hmm.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

When Whiplash was Blacklash:

From this angle, Spymaster's logo looks like a needle through a ball of yarn...
Both Entertainment Weekly and Topless Robot have run photos from Iron Man 2 of Mickey Rourke in the Whiplash costume. Maybe? Maybe it's a prototype armor for him? No one is sure, yet, although Comic-Con might deliver some more info.

Before we start abusing Whiplash--er, Blacklash's costume, we should note none of these costumes would hold up for the movies. (And the War Machine armor totally will: it's a gunmetal grey Iron Man suit with more guns stuck to it.) Spymaster's yellow-and-blue ensemble is a tad generic, but wouldn't be so bad with a better chest emblem and without that little blue beanie or whatever that is on top of his head. Blizzard's costume is your typical ice-villain's outfit, and every so often gets handed down to a new character that's exactly the same. I like the Beetle's suit, although I prefer when it's bulkier, and he gets saddled with the green-purple color combo that bad guys who fight heroes in blue-and-red get.

But Blacklash--that's what he was called at the time--has an energy whip that can make whatever it hits brittle and shatter it; and a purple cape, green plume, and plunging neckline. Why? Was it supposed to be some dashing, musketeer thing? I don't know. I don't think I've ever seen Blacklash's origin or first appearance. I didn't know his backstory, or motivation, or even his real name. (Even though I know I've read like two different Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe entries for him, I can't remember them.) I don't know if he invented his whip, or bought or stole it, or carved it from an alien meteorite; and I never cared. To me, Blacklash was always just a guy that shows up in Iron Man, usually with two or three other schnooks, to get his ass kicked around page twenty.

Did I say get his ass kicked? That wouldn't always be the case, as we'll see tomorrow. Panel from Iron Man #285, "Ashes to Ashes" Written by Len Kaminski, pencils by Kevin Hopgood, inks by Andrew Pepoy. (Since the issue's still next to my scanner, I just noticed he's Whiplash on the cover, and Blacklash in the issue!) And it's Rhodey in the armor this month: he kicks Blacklash, Blizzard, and Beetle's collective ass in about five panels.
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Yard sales giveth...

How many parents out there have tried their kid's scooter?  OK, where's your scar then?
Well, I guess yard sales don't actually take away. But it was slim pickings this weekend, although that was at least partially because I usually bike around to those, and I blew a tire. As happens. Still, the Oldest has been getting those little mini-skateboards again, so I grabbed that thing for him. Whether he actually wants it remains to be seen...

This week's the San Diego Comic-Con, right? Which means a lot of sites and blogs are going to be all about that; and depending on your point of view, it could be exciting news about upcoming movies, comics, or action figures; or it could be a lot of smoke blown up your ass. I'm personally hoping for some good Marvel Legends news, but that could be a pipe dream, yeah.

I'm getting ready for vacation, too...and I'd be lying if I said I hadn't checked out a bit already. But we'll have more stuff later, including something I planned on doing a while back: a quick look at the terrible costumes, and terrible death, of Whiplash! They'll make a cockatoo seem like a perfectly reasonable accessory. Maybe.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

Your Happenstance Panel for Today:

Next time, suspend time before talking about suspending time...
Since we spent most of the week with this issue, we'll get one more panel out of it. Reprinted in Justice League of America #146, "100 Issues Ago" from Justice League of America #46, "Crisis between Earth-One and Earth-Two!" Written by Gardner Fox, art by Mike Sekowsky and Sid Greene. I read that story in one of the big black-and-white Showcase reprint volumes. It's not great, but it's a pretty good example of how I picture the Spectre.

My first readings of the character were the more...light reprints from Adventure Comics digests. I'm used to seeing the Spectre do weird stunts like stretching, growing as large as a planet, that sort of thing. The instrument-of-god's-wrath, melting criminals like candles stuff is out of place for me. I haven't read new Spectre stuff, except in passing. I remember the JLA issue guest-starring Hal Jordan as the (then) new Spectre, really hammered on the theme of redemption. Hal may have been more suited for stuff like the above; and I don't know much about the new version.

That's it for this week, and have a good weekend!
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sure, the JLA needs Red Tornado and Hawkgirl. They need at least ten active members to get a group rate at the gym.

Continuing with Justice League of America #146, "Inner Mission!" Written by Steve Englehart, art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin.

The second part opens with Superman, Batman, and Green Arrow on their way to Atlantis, to check in with the Atom and Aquaman, who had fought the Construct before. Supes wonders why everyone on the team is "so mule-headed lately," which is weird for me to hear: rather than him being the guy with the team spirit, I'm much more accustomed to Supes begging off or being the first one out the door. Ollie and Bats are less concerned, believing the JLA has spirit, and is just pushing in new directions.

In Atlantis, Atom and Aquaman explain they fought and destroyed the Construct--the first one. This is a new one, which wouldn't know anything the first Construct had learned, but would still be mad for power. The Atom ditches his underwater globe-ship, noting the Construct could be in any machine, and hops between molecules into Ollie's air helmet. Ollie looks a little uncomfortable having Ray that close to his face.
'Personal space, Ray, personal space!'
The five heroes discuss their plans in a darkened war room, with no lights, computers, or other electronic equipment for the Construct to listen in. So, he instead takes over a nearby defense cannon, and opens fire. Aquaman takes it out pretty quickly, and the Atom takes advantage of the moment to use the computer to triangulate the Construct's position.

Meanwhile, in Vermont, the Red Tornado's body starts to walk...robot zombie! More after the break!

Wonder Woman leads her team, Black Canary and the Hawks, to Paradise Island. Hawkman came since he didn't want to be separated from his wife, which from just about anyone else would've been an excuse to get a visit to an island full of hot Amazons, but he means it. WW reminds him "No Man must ever set foot on out sacred ground!!" Which isn't a problem for Hawkman: with his anti-gravity belt, he can just float along, something that probably wouldn't have worked if he had to actually flap his wings. Hey, are the Amazons still doing that? I remember a house ad for Wonder Woman from about the same era, where a batch of Amazons with spears keep a shipwrecked sailor (or something) from dragging himself onto their shores. Meanies...

Shayera (I'm used to spelling it Shiera) takes her husband aside to say maybe he shouldn't have tried to push her JLA membership through. She definitely thinks she should be a member, but doesn't want to divide the JLA on the issue. Katar wants her in, and thinks it's just that no ones fought their stupid non-duplicating powers rule before.
Isn't that more emotion than we usually see here from Wonder Woman?  Or in her own book?
Wonder Woman plans on using the Amazons' Memory Chair, to get to the bottom of her recent amnesia. Canary advises against it, since the Construct could get into that machine, but WW says Paradise Island is protected by defensive shields. That look like big floating playing card backs. While in the chair, the shields heat up, under attack; and in Vermont, Zombie Tornado tries to fly, and falls.

A surprisingly pissed off Wonder Woman remembers the Construct's control, and how it thinks. She had actually been controlled by a second Construct, making this one the third, and she vows, the last. The League regroups to beard the Construct in his lair:
Were there actually computers in the World Trade Center's basement?
The Construct's hideout is found pretty quickly, but the first robot body they find is empty. Left at a loss, Supes advises taking a break, since he has to get to work as Clark Kent. (This was during the GBS broadcast days, when Clark apparently worked an hour a day.) Before they can adjourn, the Red Tornado lurches in, barely.

Having been burned multiple times now, they are skeptical of Reddy's story. Superman, who seems a lot more take-charge than usual, advises Wonder Woman's squad to lock up the android, and takes his guys to Metropolis for dinner. Reddy makes a surprisingly impassioned speech, though, which convinces Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman that he's the real deal. Moreover, he can sense the Construct, who has just left...for the GBS building in Metropolis!
All the ladies in the house love Reddy.
The third Construct has a pretty good scheme going: he's taken over the machines at GBS, and the people, including half the JLA, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen. He announces any humans who feel anger, can be made to feel his anger, and become his slave. Red Tornado, still not at full strength (Hawkman carried him there) has to step up, falls once, but succeeds since the League believes in him.

With what she knows about the Construct now, Wonder Woman sets up "a continuous random-wave pattern in the ether," a broadcast of noise into space to keep another Construct from forming. And the JLA holds an off-panel election, bringing Red Tornado back into the fold, and making Hawkgirl official.
How short is Hawkgirl?  Well, when she's flying at you with a mace, she looks a lot taller...
Not a bad issue, with some of the little character beats I like. Hawkman supporting his wife's membership is probably the coolest thing I can remember him doing, and Hawkgirl deserved it. I liked the Shiera/Mrs. Hawkman version of the character, in part because she just seemed nice. Red Tornado is more "alive" here than I can ever remember seeing him, and Black Canary gets in a nice line, that her and Ollie aren't matching bookends that have to be paired up. (I always have the same feeling about the Vision and Scarlet Witch, or Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne in the Avengers.) While it's weird for me to see Superman seeming to really care about the League, it's also probably strange not to see Batman being the one bossing everyone around. Reading old stories like this, you can really chart where your feelings on the JLA come from. Well, I can, anyway...
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Oh, yeah, I said I'd have another post today...

(sound of shuffling papers, a coffee cup knocked over, and barking.)

No, I'm a little better prepared than that. Sort of. I did a Show and Tell post over at Poe Ghostal's Points of Articulation! It's a tribute to a favorite figure of mine, that I don't think has appeared here yet. It came out better than I had hoped, since Toy Bender's Paul took my first choice, Robocop. Look, I had a photo ready and everything!

Then I started reading old Marvel Robocop comics and got all distracted and here we are. Paul's turned out better, anyway. I do maintain a soft spot for Robo not just because of my love of the character, but because the old-school figure was (probably) the first toy I bought for myself after eight or nine crappy years of "being too old for toys."

Anyway, getting back to thanking Poe: he's a big Hellboy fan, and just finished a huge Show and Tell on figures from the Hellboy comics. (The movies, and the animated style figures, would probably need their own posts!) Since he's a big Hellboy fan, and since I had been looking for an excuse to post this one, here's a Hellboy cameo I had almost forgotten, from Mike Allred's Madman:
I don't know if we ever see Hellboy giving out candy again, but I guess we don't see him not giving it out...
From Madman Comics #5, from Dark Horse in 1995. I miss the old Legend imprint, with the Easter Island head logo from Mike Mignola as well. It would probably be a colossal pain, but there really should be a Hellboy Apocrypha collection, with his crossover appearances like this, and Ghost, the Goon, Starman and Batman, Painkiller Jane, Savage I forgetting any? That would be a solid book. Anyway, thanks again to Poe and Paul!
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Sigh. I keep saying longer strips will return, and they will; but I've got three Wednesday's worth done and wanted to keep that cushion. That and man, there haven't been a ton of new figures out here recently. The new batch of DC Universe Classics is yet to appear, and I was kind of waiting for the DC Direct Manhunter. I still sort of want a Marvel Universe Captain America, or at least an Iron Man. And yet...not much out there. Or I'm being cheap. Or both.

I don't suppose anyone else out there wants to pick up the multi-line 3.75-inch (or thereabouts) comparison challenge for me? Spock and Superman both seem a bit short, but I'm pleased to see Batman looks a bit taller than I had thought. I think he's taller than Supes. There's a Jack Sparrow and a Tron figure in there for no reason...

If I've never mentioned it here, I loved Battle of the Planets as a kid; even if looking back it is probably the most edited, piecemeal hackjob ever made of an anime in getting it kid-friendly and Americanized. I still think of the characters by the American names: Jason is from a DVD box set. Mark, Princess, and Keyop were fairly available in my area, but the second wave with helmeted Jason, Tiny, and Zoltar was nowhere to be found. Really oughta eBay that one of these days. At any rate, Gatchaman is the only G-Force I'll recognize.

And here's something I thought was weird: every once in a while, checking the toy aisles, I'll check out the Wolverine figures in the hopes that they'll finally go on sale. At least a buck or two down would be a lot more tempting, right? I still see the occasional Deadpool figure, like the one pictured here. But not the movie version. Did a chill just go down your spine? The unrecognizable Pool with swords sticking out of his arms is sold out? Maybe? What's up with that? Also, whenever I do a few posts without Wade, I forget what a pain in the ass it is to fill his balloons in with his signature yellow. Probably an easier way to do that...

Maybe, if the day goes well, I'll get another post up. If you're good. And maybe if you're not.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The fifth or sixth triumphant return of the Red Tornado!

Every time I happen to stumble across a cheap copy of an old Justice League of America comic from about issue #100 to #200, of course I grab it immediately. I'm not trying to complete a run or anything, I just like them; and they haven't been so rare that they're hard to come by, yet. And then I end up blogging about them, even when I'm not planning on it. Case in point, today's issue, Justice League of America #146, "Inner Mission!" Written by Steve Englehart, art by Dick Dillin and Frank McLaughlin. And as is often the case, I typed all that...then scanned the splash page with the credits.

I suppose Reddy doesn't say '!' like Bruce Campbell in Army of Darkness. But that would be cool.
In the previous issue, "the adventure of the Soul Carnival," occasional JLA member the Phantom Stranger, "opened the doorway to death" so Superman, Hawkman, and himself could return to the land of the living. OK, but they picked up a bonus member: the returning Red Tornado!

The JLA pretty quickly calls B.S. on that. Batman points out the last time they saw the Tornado, he was blown apart by Nekron; and Superman remembers the last time Reddy came back, it was a plot by T.O. Morrow to destroy the League. Reddy claims his memory isn't clear on what happened to him, or how he returned, but does admit he realizes how lame that sounds. The Phantom Stranger isn't able to tell either--androids apparently being out of his purview--so it's down to, I don't know, twenty questions maybe. Superman asks a series of questions only Red Tornado (or a JLA trivia buff) would know, but trips this Tornado up on one the Real Red Tornado wouldn't know: the real secret origin of the League, which had only been revealed to Green Arrow a few months prior.
Ollie knows the story, but Canary and the Hawks may not. So they have to be feeling left out now.
It does occur to me that instead of smugly telling the fake Tornado that he's wrong, Supes should've just sucker-punched the fake into spare parts. Of course, Supes does seem to be having a little trouble with the Tornado's winds, so I suspect he's not bringing the A-game today. In fact, in a lot of these old JLA stories, I figure Supes is putting about as much effort into those cases, that you would a sudoku puzzle: you don't want to just plow through it, and it's a distraction, not work.

Incidentally, I've never played sudoku. No reason, just had other stuff to do. Like this, and more after the break!

I think Shiera's a little disappointed there...
With a new, angrier voice, the fake Tornado attacks the League, but his body isn't up to the strain, and goes limp, seemingly dead again. Batman and the rest of the League recognize their attacker as the Construct, explaining it to the Stranger: again, android stuff, not his thing. (In fact, a couple pages later, the Phantom Stranger would bag out of the rest of this story.)

Wonder Woman has a strange feeling at the mention of the Construct: in a recent issue, some force took her over, and they still hadn't figured out what was up with that. Stealing focus, Hawkman suggests they're going to need all hands on this one, and his wife Hawkgirl should be given official JLA membership. Perhaps not surprisingly, Superman is a dick about it: I suppose the non-duplication clause was drummed into him back in his Legion of Super-Heroes days.

Before he splits, Phantom Stranger suggests half the team look up those who have fought the Construct before, while the other half follow up with Wonder Woman. And once again, the JLA leaves Red Tornado's body lying around, saying they can give him a burial later. Just like last time you buried him...oops, never mind.

Unnoticed behind them, the Red Tornado's body stirs...

And my computer decided to go all update-happy on me, so more of this issue on Thursday. But like I said, I've done more than a few write-ups for satellite-era JLA stories, so here's some links: most recently, a brief look at Hawkman and Hawkgirl leaving the JLA. For five minutes.

Next, JLA #200, mostly for Brian Bolland's art.

Then, a couple panels from JLA #212, a bit outside, but OK.

This was my first JLA comic, #162, featuring the Shark!

We already mentioned JLA #144, featuring the secret origin of the League, that has been revised and retold multiple times, but this one has Rex the Wonder Dog!

The DC Wikia thing links to this one! JLA #158, featuring Ultraa! Yeah, that didn't deserve an exclaimation point, sorry. Hey, Poison Ivy, Chronos, and the Tattooed Man are there too! People still like them, right?

And my first oneJLA #129, versus Nekron, in "The Earth Dies Screaming!" I like that one, but the posts are back from before I knew anything about setting them up...I may have to fix that.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

This one's pretty geeky, even for me...

I actually tried to do some due diligence on this post: some comics blogger, out there somewhere, had a post referring to the DC Direct Crisis on Infinite Earths Weaponer of Qward figure as the geekiest thing ever. (I was positive it was Mike Sterling on Progressive Ruin, and he did set me straight on the real Nerdiest Object Ever, but he says it wasn't him! And a big thanks to Mike for getting back to me!) The gist of the post was, the amount of time and effort and possibly charts that it would take to explain that figure to a non-comics reader would be extreme. (If you manage to get as far as "anti-matter universe," your listener has the patience of a saint.) Which brings us, to this:
Yeah, this bodes well for later waves.
Pinky there is based off the current look of the Weaponers, and at least gets long pants now. The DC Infinite Heroes version of the Weaponer of Qward is also much smaller, and thus easier to hide than the DC Direct figure. And since I got him for seventy-five cents, well...
Hal's not worried. Not because he's fearless, because, well, these guys.
So, I got five of the little guys, for just about half of what the usual price was for one. I tried to resist, but that's pretty darn cheap for a small army; and I hated the idea of some cheap, uncaring relative picking one up for a hapless child and scraping the sale sticker off the package. For the price, it's tough to be critical, but the fact that the "Weaponer of Qward" doesn't come with a goddamn weapon, is kind of indicative of the care and effort put into this line...
Plus, I thought they were 'Weaponeers.'
There have been later waves in the DCIH line, and supposedly the next batch will have a new articulation model, but I gotta figure that line has got one foot in the grave. I haven't bought any of them for the usual suggested retail price of $6.99, because they completely are not worth that. Even at $4.99, you would still feel like you got stiffed an accessory or something; and even Batman didn't come with a Batarang. I have the feeling that Mattel was totally enthusiastic when DCIH was planned and first coming out, then lost interest; it's going to take a lot of effort to turn it around now.

Also this weekend, a little yard sale goodness: first up, a Transformers figure that I believe was Evac. Maybe. He's in pretty good shape, except he's missing the helicopter blades...
That's a little more down than I was expecting...
Still, not a bad crowd-filler; and he has neat clawed feet...that I cut off on the picture. Also, I got an Iron Man Transformer, the later edition in the War Machine colors, and he was mostly complete:
And it's not even the Hulk's first giant robot! What's up with that?
Not a bad weekend, no. Oh, except for Wolverine. Not the movie itself; but I thought the Youngest would sit through it. Ooh, was I wrong. So, very wrong. Reckon I'm going to just go the DVD route for him for the near future; but the Oldest and I might see if we can go to Star Trek later.
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Friday, July 10, 2009

Your Happenstance page for today:

None of them have ever looked cooler.  Well, except Metamorpho maybe.  He's got the atomic number of cool...
Hey, it's the Doom Patrol!...maybe? Kind of? From the 2002 Doom Patrol #4, "Blink...and it's Gone" Written by John Arcudi and illustrated by Tan Eng Huat. When Robotman and his new team quit their corporate sponsor, they lose the rights to the name, and a new version is formed with former member Beast Boy, recently not dead Metamorpho, the non-rapist Dr. Light, and a strangely wifeless Elongated Man. Seriously, did Sue have the flu or something? Weird to see Ralph without her.

This was a great looking, but not easy reading, comic; which may have played against it. Also, as we find out in #5, Robotman hadn't really been there the whole time, as Cliff finally tries to ask Rex why he's not dead:
Rex is lucky as hell he asked first...
Man, if that sort of thing happened in the X-Men books, there wouldn't be room for anything else. I do like the idea of Metamorpho with the Doom Patrol, which I think was first postulated in that Silver Age event, and came up again in Byrne's Doom Patrol as well. He'd be a good fit, yet bring a little levity to the group.

Anyway, after a moderately terrible week of work, the boys and I are going to X-Men Origins: Wolverine tonight! Have a good weekend!
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Thursday, July 09, 2009

Where Judge Dredd and Brian Bolland part ways:

We'll always have the Cursed Earth...
I was introduced to Judge Dredd around 1986 or so, mostly via the incredible art of Brian Bolland. (Which is both a pro and a con: it's good stuff, but then it took me a while to fully appreciate Mike McMahon and Carlos Ezquerra.) I can remember a copy of White Dwarf (a RPG magazine) that I picked up just for the Bolland cover. The thing of it is, that probably wasn't new art; and Bolland probably hadn't drawn Dredd in a couple of years by that point. Maybe. I've been trying to figure out exactly when Bolland quit drawing Judge Dredd, since I know he went to DC Comics around 1979 or so for Camelot 3000. (EDIT: Actually, Bolland may have been 'discovered' by DC in 1979, Camelot 3000 was a twelve issue 'monthly' miniseries that ran 1982 to 1985. Ouch. Still, he beat Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk.)

This page is from Fleetway/Quality's Judge Dredd #44, and from GCD we find it originally appeared in the "2000 AD 1988 Judge Dredd Annual." (Between the reprints and the numbering of 'progs,' I lose track.) It's easy to see how Bolland could want to do something else after being so closely associated with Dredd; and currently he's probably best known for his cover work for DC, particularly Jack of Fables. I've seen one or two of his experimental Mr. Mamoulian strips, in Negative Burn, which I bought primarily for a new Milk & Cheese strip. Hey, comics anthology editors: I would have bought that Kramer's Ergot thing if it'd had a new Milk & Cheese strip.

(That may not be true, but I would've considered it.)
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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

"No Man Employs the Manhunters."

I would've liked to get at least one more Manhunter for this one, to better give the impression that there were an army of long-necked, frowny-faced robots. I paid $1.20 a piece for these two, marked down from $6.99; which makes me wonder if the new articulation model for DC Infinite Heroes is even going to make it to the shelves. I guess they could always release it online, which seems to be the way the winds are blowing lately.

A questionable history lesson, with the Manhunters, the Transformers, and Galactus; after the break!

For those of you who aren't DC historians: The Manhunters were the first attempt from the Guardians of the Universe (the little blue guys in red smocks, that I still don't have figures of, but could probably sub in Papa Smurf) at a universe-wide peace keeping force. They were androids equipped with stun guns they charged with proto-Green Lanterns, and kept the peace for (at least) thousands of years. Then they went bad, power-mad, and tried to take over. Failing miserably, the androids were abandoned; and the Guardians replaced them with the Green Lantern Corps.

I used to know the ballpark timeline on this: if the universe is like five billion years old, and the Guardians became Guardians four billion years ago...and I could be way off on this, but I swear I thought Steve Englehart marked a lot of their history in billion year increments, with the Manhunters at three and the GLC coming in at two. Two billion years of Green Lanterns? The number staggers the mind a bit to casually throw around, not to mention that would mean the Corps survived all that time yet has been just about demolished two or three times since letting earth men in...

If I was better organized, I could probably figure out the Transformers timeline as well. In the old comics (and again, I'm going off memory here) the war between the Autobots and Decepticons had been going for umpteen billion years, before Optimus Prime and Megatron's crews crashed on earth back in the Paleozoic era or thereabouts. OK, but then when they were finally revived around 1984, not only is the war on Cybertron still going, with people they knew from before they were lost, but Optimus and Megatron are still somehow in charge, aren't they? Shouldn't they have been replaced after going missing, and shouldn't that have been done after maybe a month or so? (Similarly, in the first movie, Megatron was frozen in ice for something like eighty years or so; but when Starscream catches up to him, he still obsequiously defers to his leader as if Megs had just been out for a coffee break. Wouldn't Starscream have taken over during that time?) I think later work has glossed this over a bit, that Prime and Megs were leaders of their respective factions or cells, but the larger Autobot and Decepticon nations continued without them. War aside, you can debate for yourselves why the Transformers as a species aren't much changed in millions of years...

Then there's Galactus, and his heralds. How long was the Silver Surfer's stint as herald? Conservatively, I think it was decades; but it's hard to say. The Zenn-Lavians like Norrin Radd and Shalla Bal appear to be pretty long-lived, but in the classic Stan Lee/John Buscema series, Shalla still looks on the younger side. And she's still pining away for her lost love like he's been gone for a good chunk of time; but maybe not centuries.

On the sliding timescale of Marvel, Galactus arrived on earth and was stopped by the Fantastic Four maybe eight or nine years ago. Since the betrayal of the Surfer, Galactus has had several other heralds: Air-Walker, Firelord, and the Destroyer; all of whom would've had short tenures before Frankie Raye became Nova. If you figure the first visit of Galactus was before Franklin Richards was born, and he was maybe four when Frankie, Galactus was just giving away the power cosmic there for a while.

Of course, none of those happened in the same fictional continuum, outside of my toy pile anyway. I was going to finish up with a couple of Manhunter pages--none from Millenium, the Manhunters' revenge, though: I bought that series as it came out, but have long since lost it. And most of the crossovers. Still, maybe a Manhunter page or two on Friday.

Oh, and the Optimus and Megatron in this strip may look a little different than you're used to: I believe they were both from the Robots in Disguise cartoon. Not the best one; and it was a little more kiddy than a lot of fans were hoping for, but if I remember right it was the first non-Beast Wars Transformers cartoon and toys back on American shelves in years. They've maintained their presence since.

I'm not an expert on that show, though: I remember Skybyte, the flying shark; and one of the "Autobot Brothers" with a somewhat inappropriate love of earth cars. Look it up sometime, if you're curious. Probably still made more sense than the movie, anyway...
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Tuesday, July 07, 2009

I know you haven't patrolled the Mariana Trench lately, Arthur.

I think he fudged that .78%, too.
...or under the Arctic ice shelf, or the Dead Sea...

Aquaman apologists trot this one out every so often, and he even uses it himself here: while Superman or Batman just have to worry about land-based problems, Aquaman has a lot more ground to cover...and I totally wrecked that metaphor. Shoot. The point they make, is that Aquaman's whole beat is all of the world's bodies of water, below or above the surface. This is often invoked as if to suggest that Aquaman personally patrols them all, which is silly: not only would that take forever, but it's not like he's a mall cop making his rounds, is it?

Moreover, every time Superman or Batman has to fight a super-villain that has an underwater base or a sub, they should get to bill Aquaman. Or punch him in the arm really hard. Seriously! If that's Aquaman's jurisdiction, shouldn't he have taken care of, or at least noticed and mentioned, Lex Luthor's undersea hideout or the Penguin's sub or whatever? If Aquaman was doing his job, Batman shouldn't even have to chase bad guys that try to escape via water. And Hawaii. That should be all Aquaman. Yeah.

Overthinking a page from Batman: Gotham Knights #18, "Cavernous" Written by Devin Grayson, pencils by Roger Robinson, inks by John Floyd. Brian Bolland does the cover, and...was that costume a bit of a train wreck? Shell headband, bare midriff, metal hand: it makes me miss the orange shirt.
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Monday, July 06, 2009

Breaking News: Jeff Goldblum not dead!

Man, if Goldblum dies between now and when I post this, that would suck...
In case you missed it, last week there was a batch of celebrity deaths either misreported or outright hoaxed on Twitter. Goldblum's alleged "death" from a fall in New Zealand, was picked up by the Australian media as confirmed by the New Zealand police. Goldblum later appeared on the Colbert Report to rebuke the story. With mixed results.

Goldblum, of course, is best known for starring in The Fly, Independence Day, and Jurassic Park; as well as for his multiple clashes with Mecha-Godzilla.
Hey, wait a minute...
I found that Jeff figure, from Trendmasters' 1996 ID4 line, in a yard sale on the fourth: if there's a better example of that happenstance I'm always on about, I'd love to see it. I also got Mecha-Godzilla there, and some random Beast Wars Transformers.

Wait, do those names all sound like farts? That wasn't intentional...really!
I liked that cartoon, but don't recognize these two; and they may or may not have even appeared on the show. They do look to be more or less complete, and transforming yard-sale rescues like them is like worry beads for me, something to fiddle with while watching TV or waiting for the kids. I need to set up another Transformers display sometime.

Lastly, I picked up this little orphan, and hopefully Diamondrock will forgive me a bit of snark:
D.R, if you have a domestic address and would like this fellow, let me know!A sadly capeless, weaponless, Azrael-Batman. I don't believe I've ever had one before, and I have a pretty good pile of Batmen. Still, I couldn't leave this poor guy behind. Not bad little hauls so far this summer!
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