Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Supergirl/Wonder Girl 6: Kara can't remember the LSH, but Conner has to remember the Ravers, so...

Now, as is often the case, I'm basing this off memory, and don't have the issues in question right handy; but in the old, pre-Crisis, pre-reboots, Adventure Comics era of the Legion of Super-Heroes, Superboy went to the 30th century on a pretty routine basis. Supergirl later joined the Legion as well, but she was coming to the future, from a period several years after Superboy's visits--Kara didn't become Supergirl until well after Kal-El became Superman.

For example, let's say Superboy was leaving his home time of 1959 to hang out with the Legion in the year 2959. Supergirl could be there in 2959 as well, but she would've come from her home time of 2969 or so. I'm not sure about Supergirl, but Superboy and the Legionnaires were also aging at roughly the same rate: as he became Superman, the Legion became adults as well, and usually that's how they would meet. Rarely, if ever, would the adult Legion run into Superboy, or Superman see the teenage version of the team.

And people wonder why DC needed a Crisis, multiple reboots, etc. More tangents after the break!

Getting to the point: Supergirl had a post-hypnotic suggestion placed on her, not sure by whom exactly, so that when she returned to her time, she wouldn't remember any details of the future that she shouldn't. Like her death, for example. Actually, her death almost makes the suggestion make sense retroactively. But it is a little dicked up that just about everybody else gets to go back and forth in time and not have their memories wiped.

The exception, that's in the same boat as Kara: Hal Jordan, of all people. Early in his career as Green Lantern, the 57th or 58th century (58th, sorry!) abducted Hal a few times, brainwashed him into the identity of Pol Manning, and used him whenever they needed their superhero, putting him back none the wiser on more than one occasion. (I'm not sure how that worked: Hal started to notice he was having memory lapses, blackouts, and investigated and figured out what had been happening to him. But, if they're yanking him through time, shouldn't they just put him back right when they got him? Hal might wonder why he's tired and covered in bruises, but it's Hal, they could've kept that up for years more.)

Eventually, the 58th century Solar Council stopped using Hal, and accidentally got Salaak once, to fight the anthropomorphic squirrel descendants of C'hp...and this is why I won't stand for anyone badmouthing Zero Hour, since that event apparently took out the whole mess. (Hmm. This also means Salaak, of all people, like Peter in Heroes, has a girlfriend that he left in a future that has now been seemingly erased. Like Peter, Salaak isn't about to open that can of worms...)

Again, based off memory, Kara had the post-hypnotic suggestion, but I don't think Clark did. Also, I believe Kara was trusted not to spill the beans about what she knew of Clark's future: "Well, you grow up and become Superman, and Lex Luthor's still a jerk, and that Lana chick is still following you around..."

Previous episodes: one, two, three, four, and five.
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They weren't really 'Secret,' half the people that went won't shut up about it.

I wonder if Jim Rhodes (who was Iron Man at the time) or Monica "Captain Marvel/Photon/???/Leader of goddamn Nextwave" Rambeau ever throw that into conversation. "Well, yes, I was at the Secret Wars..." Effective trump card, or forgettable nonsense? I figure to them, Secret Wars is as Vietnam is to John McCain...

Ironically, while the Falcon wasn't in the Secret Wars miniseries, he would get a figure in the old Secret Wars toyline! Which was only released in Europe, and is rather hard to find. (I don't think Sam even appeared in Secret Wars 2, and that had everyone. The Micronauts were even in it, and they hadn't been on earth for like thirty issues.) In that batch of Europe figures, there was also Iceman and the Constrictor--yeah, I know--and they weren't there either. Neither was Daredevil, and he got a figure too.

I upgraded my cable a bit a while back (although I still dearly wish I could get a la carte cable, with just the specific channels I want...) and have been enjoying the heck out of the Wolverine and the X-Men cartoon. Especially the Nightcrawler episodes, where he gets to do more than he did in the entire runs of previous X-Men cartoons. There's been at least three so far ("X-Calibre," "Greetings from Genosha," and "Hunting Grounds") where Nightcrawler gets to take center stage, and both his powers and his characterization have been on the money.

Previous episodes: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten. Nightcrawler and Falcon have next week off, for a special reminder strip, of an upcoming release you won't want to miss. So...make a reminder for the reminder, or something.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Still not a review: the rest of Walmart's Marvel Legends Nemesis wave:

Even though it may sometimes seem like I buy every action figure within a five mile radius, the reality is quite different: not only do I have to be selective with my purchases, since I'm primarily a brick-and-mortar toy shopper, distribution plays a big part. Sometimes I can't afford to blow my budget on a figure, sometimes I never find a particular toy on the shelves; and sometimes it just doesn't seem like a good deal, like buying one just for a build-a-figure piece.

And then sometimes, it all falls into place: previously we've seen the Wal-Mart exclusive Marvel Legends Nova and Tigra, but then after that Black Bolt and Beast sold out, and I gave up on any chance of putting together Nemesis (Holocaust). But, just like true love and disfiguring accidents, when you least expect it...

The four figures I needed, on clearance, five bucks each. While I might have preferred the red Daredevil or the skull-masked Punisher, I was not about to look that gift horse in the mouth. This also makes Nemesis the first builder I've completed since...DCUC's Metamorpho, back in wave one of that line? Seriously?

Nemesis is a great figure, but a warning: you will break the little peg that holds his clear faceshield/helmet thing on. Just accept it as a given, and move on. Once you reattach it somehow--I'm using the blue adhesive putty I use for everything--you'll be fine, and you'll love him.

Wait, 'love'? Whoa, now hold the phone, Mabel: don't put Nemesis anywhere near your Galactus or Sentinel build-a-figures, unless you want to be sad: while the character shouldn't be as big as either of those two (who could also, in scale, be bigger...) Nemesis is less than about half their size. That's a little unfair, since Nemesis is pretty much in-line or comparable with current build-a-figures like Metamorpho or Gorilla Grodd. (Best guess, Atom-Smasher would be a bit taller but narrower?) And I have to find the old "Dark Nemesis" figure, since while he was a bit small at the time, his gun-hand looked like a gun-hand: ML Nemesis' hand looks like a polyhedron, like he's got a twenty-sided die for a fist. So, not saying Nemesis is terrible, but light won't open from the heavens for him, either, sorry.

You can check out a brief appearance of Nemesis, as Holocaust, here, as he gets bwaam!ed in the face by Thor's hammer. I know I've read more comics with Nemesis, but I'm not sure I still have them. With X-Man, he snuck out of the end of the Age of Apocalypse, and showed up every once in a while as the muscle: Nemesis doesn't seem like a big thinker. He also appears in the Legacy Quest Trilogy novels by Steve Lyons.

Some brief thoughts on the rest: although he wore that costume for about fifteen minutes in continuity, the yellow Daredevil is a nice figure. Ditto the Bradstreet-esque Punisher. The new Beast, though...he's not just a little short on the articulation, he's a little short compared to the old (ML 4, a bazillion years ago) Beast. I know there's been some grousing about Black Bolt's wings, but they didn't bother me; but I haven't really kicked that figure around much yet.

For a solid review, check out this one at It's All True. It's nice to have Marvel Legends back, but I'm waiting for the next one to knock my socks off.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

There was a farm that had a SCREAM, and Woodgod was its name-oh.

OK, that's terrible. But barely after mentioning my surprise at having a comic featuring Woodgod, I get his first two appearances from the quarter box. His debut in Marvel Premiere #31, "Birthday!" is grim, 70's sci-fi: man tampering in God's domain, even with the best of intentions; coupled with man's fear of the unknown, the different, etc. It's not readily apparent that Woodgod's story takes place in the Marvel Universe, at least until his next appearance in Marvel Team-Up #53. That issue is better known for being John Byrne's first work on the X-Men, and there's a kinda sweet two-page spread of Spidey and the X-Men flying home in the (rarely seen since) X-Shuttle, but there's also this:
I'm pretty sure the X-Men eventually get that thing blown up, right?
What is Wolverine doing there, with his fist up by his shoulder, and his claws shorter than his fingers? Well, I've seen Wolvie drawn multiple times with claws far too long to fit in his forearms, so this is at least a pleasant change.

At any rate, the Hulk's showed up at Woodgod's small town of Liberty, New Mexico; shortly after the nerve gas explosion that killed the townspeople and Woodgod's parents. The Hulk decides to claim the pleasantly humanless town for himself, until Woodgod attacks him, still in a rage from his parents' death. Later, the X-Men's Banshee drops Spidey off there, since Peter's acting like a reporter for some reason, and where the "anti-radiation mist" they received the previous issue (Giant-Size Marvel Team-Up #1) protects Spidey from the nerve gas. You know, they should've just said, 'because' and left it at that.

Now that I've run across another batch of Woodgod appearances, I can't stop seeing them: looking up Woodgod at GCD, there were more of them that I had! He appeared in Quasar twice, which is more than I had thought, OK, but he also was in Earth X? Really? More than once? Man, I wasn't going to re-read that one for a while, but it may be coming up...

Maybe I should mention some other series, and see if it magically appears in the quarter boxes now. Like Miracleman. Well, that seems unlikely: even quarter-box condition issues of that would go for a bit. Even though I've seen a lot of scans and recaps and whatnot, I've never read an actual, in hand Miracleman comic. But I do remember seeing the back-issue ads that warned about the issue featuring "graphic depictions of childbirth," and I remember thinking yeah, maybe I'll stick with Solo Avengers or something.

Panels from Marvel Premiere #31, "Birthday!" Conceived and written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Keith Giffen, inks by Klaus Janson. (God, I can't see Keith Giffen's name with that, without picturing Woodgod with the Justice League International: Woodgod going on and on about death and calling it 'scream,' so Beetle thinks he's just a Courtney Cox fan or something, while Guy keeps riding Woodgod to put on some damn pants.) And Marvel Team-Up #53, "Nightmare in New Mexico!" Written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Frank Giacoia. I think I have a reprint of the next issue, which somehow ends with Spider-Man getting his ass launched into space, for the next issue with Warlock. All of which is why Spidey is increasingly reluctant to leave New York City...
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Friday, September 25, 2009

Apparently, Germany was this close to annexing Qward in the big one:

I've mentioned my hapless (and still weaponless!) DCIH Weaponers of Qward here before, and while there's six of them; they're no match for the German soldiers I got on sale! While one is from the Indiana Jones line, the rest are Ultimate Solder XD 1:18 Germans, and were fifty cents a piece. They're probably a touch oversized for G.I. Joes or Marvel Universe figures (and of course the Weaponers are a touch shorter than that) but they aren't too far off.

This whole pile of figures cost me about eleven bucks, but on this thread from the Fwoosh you can check out some far more substantial army builders. Some are so large, I have no idea how the collector got them all to stand at once, to say nothing of what they would've cost. Check it out!
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Thursday, September 24, 2009

This Spider-Clone recap is a lot less painful, if you didn't pay for those comics...

If this gets your blood pressure up, best stop now.
From Spider-Man: 101 Ways to End the Clone Saga, written by Mark Bernardo, pencils by Ben Herrera, inks by Mike Christian. The 1990's Spider-Man editorial crew, writers, and passersby debate and suggest multiple ways to wrap up the Spider-Clone storyline, which had already snowballed out of control.

I dug this issue back up, since over at the ever-entertaining Doomkopf a recent post asked the imminently fair question, who's bright idea was it to revisit the Clone Saga? Not to encourage going back to the well or anything, but there was plenty of other wells to choose from, don't go back to the poisoned water-hole.

My question is: If you go by the theory that all of Spidey’s stories, from 1962 on, are compressed in Marvel time into a sliding timeline of the last ten years or so; then how long was the Clone Saga for Spidey? A year or more? A couple of months? A few weeks? A really hectic afternoon? Keep in mind...I don't really care enough to look up exactly how long the Clone Saga ran for the poor fans that were buying it. (Oh, all right: from October 1994 to December 1996.)

Two more prescient bits from 101 Ways, after the break!

Back in the day, Wizard gave out trophies. Now, they'll probably give you an employee... Glenn Greenberg shoots down a possible resolution, that would also have written Mary Jane Watson-Parker out of the book, on the grounds that she was still pretty popular. (Maybe that should be 'pretty, popular.') That seems to be a problem the Spider-books still reoccurringly struggle with, and arguably have since well before this issue as well: The creators and the fans like MJ, and want her around; but seemingly don't want Peter to be 'tied down.' (Supposedly. I don't think I had a problem with married Spider-Man, but I don't buy enough new Spidey comics to have a vote!)

I want to say Herrera drew a Silver Surfer issue with Mephisto, too...don't hold me to that. And I'm positive someone else must've pointed this out by now: the "Greenberg Gambit," a last ditch attempt at appeasing both the Ben Reilly fans and the Peter Parker hardcore: mysterious villain Scrier was really Mephisto in disguise, who tries to take "Ben's" soul by throwing "Peter" back in time: Peter and Ben were the same person all along, just at different points in the timestream. One editor points out that "seems a little cosmic for Spidey," while continuity expert Peter B. Gillis seemingly undercuts the idea by noting, "If Mephisto is the prince of lies...why should anyone, including the reader, believe him?" Man, wish you'd been in on One More Day, Mr. Gillis...

This is a silly little read, but it may just alleviate a bit of the pain the Clone Saga may have caused you. Plus, if you find a copy, you can check out Tom DeFalco's two word solution, which was at least partially used!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Supergirl/Wonder Girl 5: Just because they can't see your panties, doesn't make you a role model.

I'm pretty sure there's been Superman stories back in the fifties where he gets all fat, and I'm also sure there's been multiple tales of him getting overpowered, with at least a few of those showing Supes hulking out like a steroid victim. But I don't know if Supergirl has gone through the same stories or not. And she had a ton of red Kryptonite stories: where Superman would usually have something weird happen like growing a third eye or an indestructible beard or a hump or something; Kara seemed to turn evil more often than not. (Maybe. I'm probably misremembering, but red Kryptonite did feature in most of her early Legion of Super Heroes appearances.)

The title today is a reference to a recent DC Comics editorial edict about Supergirl getting some nice shorts or something, to cut down on the upskirt panty shots. Great, but that probably could've been handled, hmm, more discretely, maybe? I don't know. It's a stereotype, but I suppose an outfit that a superpowered, parentless, teenage girl would actually wear would be scandalous, at best. Man, I'm glad I have sons...

Previous episodes: one and two and three and four.

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Not everyone has their OHOTMU handy, Kurt.

For the sadly deprived among you, "OHOTMU" is the abbreviation for the Official Handbook Of The Marvel Universe. I love those. Go and look up whether Sam "Falcon" Wilson is a mutant or not, I'll wait...

And I have to wonder if that's a common stereotype in the Marvel Universe, that all mutants have healing factors, or claws, or are Canadian. There used to be a lot more uggos, Morlock-types, obvious mutants who couldn't and probably wouldn't blend in with polite society; but post-"No More Mutants," it seems like the majority of remaining mutants are, well, hot. Even if you haven't read an X-Men book in ten years, I bet you could name ten female mutants, and unless you started with Callisto and Destiny, I bet they all look great in a swimsuit.

I suppose an anti-mutant bigot could hate a hot X-Man, true. But I haven't been reading the X-books that closely, and am not sure how the haters' movement could be on such a big upswing, since humanity outnumbers mutants several million to one. Unless they're all just jealous.

Previous episodes: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight and nine. More on Kurt's powers next week, and Supergirl/Wonder Girl later today!
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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Just like that, Morbius never felt guilty about drinking blood again:

Ironically, both girls are from Buffy/Angel.
I took pictures for this short one last weekend, then had a severe bout of lazy, and didn't finish it up. (Doctor Who marathon on BBC America and NFL opening weekend did not help, either.) Back to work!

I personally prefer my vampires to be monsters. Soulless aberrations. Undead abominations. Get a stick and kill it. That's not to say they can't be intelligent or erudite, but as a rule of thumb, they're the bad guys. Even the exceptions, like Angel or Hannibal King or Cassidy from Preacher, seem to spend a lot of time killing their less-nice brethren. (I'm pretty sure Cass killed a vamp or two in a special...)

So I wasn't a big Anne Rice fan in her heyday, and I'm avoiding Twilight like crazy. Possibly because I've worked my way out of teen angst and into adult malaise; or more likely because once I heard the vampires "sparkle" I wanted no part of that. (My Oldest liked the first book and movie, although I'm sure I annoyed him no end by repeatedly asking "How do you kill the vampires again?")

Which brings us the long way around to Morbius, the Living Vampire. Over at the Hurting, Tim O'Neil referred to Morby as his least favorite Marvel character ever. Which is more than fair: I cheerfully concede, I don't think there's ever been a Morbius comic that's been good.
I haven't read a vampire novel in years: is the dialog any more or less purple than this?
More behind the break!
But the potential...I will steadfastly defend the potential of Morbius. Not because he's a vampire, because he's weak. I've gone over this before, but Morbius is intriguing since despite any good intentions he may have, he always ends up taking the path of least resistance.
Goddamn, that's an ugly panel.

Consider: when he finds out he's dying of a rare blood disease, Morbius never tells his girlfriend Martine; he takes her on a cruise where he's running experiments to try and save himself. Immediately after turning into a living vampire, Morbius drinks his lab assistant's blood; then, revolted at what he's done and the idea that Martine might see him, he throws himself overboard. Later in the series, rather than lose the mortally wounded Martine, Morbius turns her into a vampire. At least, that's how I remember it; somehow, Martine may have ended up a traditional, undead vampire. But the point is, rather than accept her loss, grieve, and get over it; Morbius goes to extreme measures to avoid that, leaving no one happy--he later breaks up with Martine, who by this point is pissed off at Morbius on multiple levels, and killing more people.
Morbius' nose seems to come and go, just like the art teams for this book.
And all of that pales in comparison to his junkie-like addiction to blood. Now that one isn't necessarily Morbius' fault, maybe; but he seems compelled to drink it out of someone's neckhole, rather than rob a bloodbank or take donations or any other means that don't involve an exsanguinated corpse and Morby crying with remorse. I'm not sure how much blood Morbius needs to survive, but perversely, he seems to be able to resist the craving until he hits a point where he's not only going to feed, he's going to suck all the fluids out of the next person he sees, killing them: if he fed a little at a time, he would probably kill a lot less people.

The trouble (or one trouble) with turning Morbius into a movie, is the same problem he had with his own comic: Morbius is the bad guy. He kills people. Yeah, he feels bad about it, and is trying to avoid killing any more, but that doesn't make his victims any less dead. (At the very least, even if Morby doesn't kill his victims, being wrestled to the ground and bit can't be a picnic for them.) To generate sympathy for Morbius, the temptation is to make the villain more horrible; like actual vampires, aliens, or law enforcement/government types that want Morbius for a weapon, for dissection, or just dead. Simon Stroud from the old comics only partially fit that shoe: assigned to the Morbius case, he doesn't believe in vampires or monsters initially. When the evidence comes in, though, he steps up to silver weapons and wooden stakes matter-of-factly. (Even though Morbius isn't specifically vulnerable to those, a silver bullet could kill him just as easily as a lead one.)

I am curious as to if the recent Disney/Marvel deal will be in Morbius' favor; and I would guess that if some other studio had the rights for him, they would have to get on the ball to use them before they lapsed back to Disney. Maybe Disney can improve Marvel's typical track record for hopping on a bandwagon: if Marvel wanted to cash in on Twilight, you could expect a teen Morbius limited series in 2015...

The first two scans are from Morbius #27, written by Lisa Trusiani, pencils by Craig Gilmore, inks by Rick Bryant. The third, from Morbius #32, "The River Runs Red" Written by Lisa Trusiani, pencils by Fabio Laguna, inks by Mike Witherby. It is entirely possible that Trusiani was the only female Marvel writer at the time, 1995; but she was saddled with some of the ugliest art you'll ever find. #32 was the last issue, and judging by the hasty wrapup of a couple plotlines, it seemed to perhaps (somehow) have come suddenly.
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Monday, September 21, 2009

Who's flying the damn ship? Cadets?

What, no lens flares?
Click to magnify!

Now, if you hit up a good online retailer like Big Bad Toy Store, you could probably get the second wave of Playmates Star Trek 3-3/4" figures, which would include the ten additional pieces you would need to complete the previously available Enterprise bridge playset/mat. BBTS has a preorder available here, which may very likely be the only way to go if you're interested: the first wave was heavily stocked. Heavily. To the point that I suspect a lot of retailers aren't going to be jumping up and down at the chance to put more on the shelf; and no doubt the second wave is going to be underordered.

That said, the 3-3/4" figures aren't great. For a dollar each, I'm not complaining (much) but I don't think I'd go in with both feet there. I have seen the bridge set marked down a little so far, but I probably wouldn't pay more than say, five bucks for it: it's a mat with a captain's chair, viewscreen, and a lot of empty spots for the consoles and chairs that come with the figures. A mat. I mean, really: a plastic base that the consoles could attach to; that would be tempting, but a mat? For one thing, there's no way to set up the bridge, then move it.

Wait, I do believe the bridge also comes with a Captain Kirk figure, but you have to buy another one to get the console piece; and I think they're the same yellow-shirt version. (I had forgotten until recently, Kirk doesn't even wear that uniform until the very end of the movie...oh, "spoiler.") Not only is that kind of a burn on customers who are buying up the whole set; but it seems like making the bridge version a more desirable variant possibly would have pushed sales more. Some Kirks in other uniforms are coming in the second wave, but the bridge one could've been battle-damaged or shirtless or something, I don't know.

I must confess, that completed bridge does look moderately sharp in the photos (one more link to BBTS!) but I don't know if I've seen any reviews or anything for it. If interested, I would recommend buying the clearance or marked down figures, and cobbling it together on the cheap; unless you're the anal detail-oriented fan who can't stand the idea of an ops console where the science station should be.

In other news, this weekend the Youngest cracked me one in the face with my Jabba the Hutt action figure. Jabba is hard plastic, not squishy as one might hope, and it bled a little. In the Youngest's defense, he did warn me a couple of times that he was going to "whack daddy." He did get a stern talking to, I can tell you that...
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Friday, September 18, 2009

Your Happenstance panels for today:

Nick should've got the club...
Another day, another flying car that's somehow not Nick Fury's, from Planetary #23, "Percussion" Written by Warren Ellis, art by John Cassaday. This time, it's Fury-homage John Stone, Agent of S.T.O.R.M, which would be both a precursor of Stormwatch, and a homage to Fury's S.H.I.E.L.D. I'm not sure they ever say what S.T.O.R.M. stood for, though.
Elijah knows sometimes you have to burn the village to save it, a weird metaphor for a guy with ice powers, but whatever.
Stone would get a helluva comeuppance later, in Planetary #25, "in from the cold" by Ellis and Cassaday again. While he put up a good fight with gadgets that seemed cribbed from both classic and Ultimate versions of Fury, Stone would eventually receive a thorough and prolonged asswhupping from Jakita Wagner.

Re-read all of Planetary last weekend, to get ready to the last issue, due October 7! Can't wait.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

This is a better answer for the Hawkeye-to-Ronin switch.

Remember, Hawkeye was in the carnival. This is not above him.
Admittedly, it could be anyone under that mask, and I haven't read those Daredevil issues with Echo for a long time; but it's a lot easier to picture a guy in that suit, isn't it? Unless the identity of Ronin is like Captain Universe: "The Hero that could be You!"

OK, I'd prefer to have Clint Barton back as Hawkeye; and have the Ronin suit passed around like a headcold. I'd make the joke that no matter who wears it, they always look like that, whether it's a grown man in peak physical condition, an 8-year-old girl, or a morbidly obese man. Or make it a cheesy-fun game: on every Avengers mission, somebody wears the Ronin outfit; ostensibly for the element of surprise. Maybe you can work it out by process of elimination, or maybe someone unexpected has been called in to fill those shoes. Is it Spider-Man? Quasar? The fifties Captain America? 3-D Man? Who? You wouldn't know until they started using their powers, if any, or by any distinctive speech patterns. (Not everyone gets yellow balloons.)

It's also unsettling to see Clint waving a sword around instead of a bow, but it actually makes sense: back in early Avengers stories, it was established that he was trained in archery by sometimes Avengers foe the Swordsman. Leading to the obvious question, why would the Swordsman train archery? Although I suppose you shouldn't assume he doesn't have other skills and interests, the name hints at a different speciality. So, years later, in Solo Avengers, Hawkeye's archery coach was revealed to be a fat guy named Trick Shot. Yeah, I don't think those were great issues...let's just say the Swordsman cross-trained Clint, 'kay?

This Marvel Universe Ronin figure was $3 at Wal-Mart, not too shabby. The plastic feels different, though. I did pick up a little fistful of cheap stuff yesterday, so more will be up next week.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Supergirl/Wonder Girl 4: It says something when your new girlfriend has the same name...

The quiet (and recently replaced) Batgirl, Cassandra Cain, seems doomed to be one of those female characters seemingly beloved by all but unable to translate that into sales. I never read a ton of books with her, but the idea of her dating the vastly less-competent Conner (still misspelled in the strips, sorry) could be ripe for comedy. Which doesn't seem like her forte, but still.

After being mishandled after the end of her book and then fighting her way back into the role, Cassandra recently passed the Batgirl cowl to Stephanie Brown, formerly the Spoiler, formerly Robin, formerly dead. Steph's death as the result of her trying to run one of Batman's plans without Batman in War Games was retconned into a fake; and that's why Bats never had her costume in the trophy case of the honored dead. Yeah...let's move on, yes?

I don't know if Wonder Girl Cassie knew about Batgirl Cassandra's brief romance with Superboy Conner (there's been like five versions of each of these characters, so you have to use both names...) but she doesn't seem like the type to be cool about it.

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Previous episodes: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and eight.

I think Kurt could give Carter a good fight, but not in a closed space like the apartment. It may seem counter-intuitive to give Hawkman room to fly, but Kurt is going to take more lumps trying to go toe-to-toe there.

And I don't read Justice Society of America regularly, and I'm not sure if Hawkman's even a current member; but I do know they've recently expanded their roster with a number of legacy heroes. Typically, if you're using the same name as a guy that wore a mask and maybe hit a Nazi once, you can get a spot on the team. Probably not a good spot, though: putting aside any actual hierarchy or chain-of-command, figure there's the old guard: the elder Green Lantern, Flash, maybe Hawkman depending on when you ask him. Then, there's a couple relative newcomers, who would certainly be the senior staff on any team not featuring WWII vets; like Power Girl and Mr. Terrific. Then there's everyone else, collectively doomed to be seen as the junior members even if they're on the team for forty years. And they're not gonna be there, for forty years...

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What I'm reading right this second (two weeks ago):

I can't do those LOL cat things.  'I iz Satan kittiez'?  Is that it?
Re-read Bill Sienkiewicz's Stray Toasters this afternoon. While it's definitely not for everyone, my god, the art. I'm pretty sure it's been collected, but I have the Epic Comics issues; and it occurs to me that since those little volumes fit on my bookshelf (my creaking, overloaded bookshelf...) I read it more often than I do, say, Elektra: Assassin. And I'm just about positive I bought both of those from a used bookstore-slash-comic shop in Missoula, MT, for somewhere between dirt and cheap.

At least she walks that thing herself...
Also dirt cheap? A two-issue Flash Gordon story, from Marvel. ("Marvel Select" on the cover.) Written by Mark Schultz, art by Al Williamson; and seemingly published because it was something those two felt like doing. Without having read a lot of the old-school strips, it feels very true to them. Not a bad little read, especially as a palate cleanser after Stray Toasters, eh?

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Of course, Byrne came up with this, because he was already tired of typing 'Kltpzyxm.'

Aw, man, now I miss JB's Big Boys.Even though I've never actually heard it, I still sing the "Big Belly Burger" jingle to my Youngest, usually while tickling his big belly. From The Adventures of Superman #441, "The Tiny Terror of Tinseltown!" In case you can't hold your monitor up to a mirror: Script and plot by John Byrne, pencils and plot by Jerry Ordway, inks by Dennis Janke. This was a Mr. Mxyzptlk issue, the second part of his second post-Crisis appearance.

Although it seems like it should be less work to draw in a more cartoony style, I wonder if it was actually harder. Even though I'm not a huge fan of Mxy's, this is a high point for him. This would also be the first time he would diverge from the classic "make me say my name backwards" rule, into whatever terms he decided on the current visit.

Oh, you smug bastard... This time, after Supes wraps up Mxy's Smurf knock-offs, Mxyzptlk tells Supes he'll go back to the fifth dimension, if Supes can get him to paint his face blue. As Mxy gets ready to go under the stage lights of a game show, he bypasses Superman's obvious trap, to fall victim to the real ruse: color-changing makeup, inspired by a similar device used in the play Finian's Rainbow. Well, duh. Everyone knows that...

Also this issue: subplots with Cat Whatsername (who has a conversation with her young son, who as much as calls her easy to her face), Lois working leads on a Lex Luthor story, the reboot circus mentalist Brainiac (man, did that seem like a misfire), a mysterious girl in a red-and-blue costume in Antarctica, a shadowy figure wrecking up a Lexcorp oil rig, and a cameo appearance from Streaky! At least five pages devoted to future story threads, which seems maybe a page or two on the excessive side; but I think it kept readers coming back, didn't it?

Plus ads for enduring classics like Manhunter! (The John Ostrander/Doug Rice version...well, I liked it.) Action Comics Weekly! (Um...) Aquaman: The Missing Peace! (Didn't even rate a full page? Harsh.) The Wanderers! (DC, just because you still have the Wanderers name, doesn't mean you're obligated to use it. Just a head's up.) And The Killing Joke! (That's more like it. Batman isn't even mentioned in the ad...) Well worth seventy-five cents!
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Friday, September 11, 2009

Wish I remembered how I balanced that...

Just a quick one: I had wanted to set this up for a while, a meeting of the disappointing DCIH Superman (not a great sculpt, not overly poseable, overall super-blah) and the slightly-less disappointing Doomsday from the pre-DC Universe Classics Superman line. Doomsday looks nice, but is just out-of-scale with the DCUC figures; he probably needed to be at least an inch and change taller and wider. So, I thought maybe he'd look better with a smaller Superman...

And I gotta say...not quite. Now Doomsday's too big, isn't he? And without looking at The Death of Superman, just from memory, wasn't Doomsday beefier? Well, worth a try.

In other news, the other day I got another DCIH Weaponer of Qward, bringing my squad total to six. Really need to look into getting the poor guys some weapons...
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Your Happenstance panel for today:

Admittedly, I've done the same, but it's usually because I'm playing Bionic Commando or something.
A quick panel from Scott Lobdell and Alan Davis's Fantastic Four #3, "Happy New Year, Reed Die!" (Inks by Mark Farmer.) Lobdell would stick around for the next issue, credited for story, but with #4 Claremont would start up. I'm not sure why, exactly; Lobdell and Davis were doing pretty well themselves, and why wouldn't Claremont take the reins from the first issue?

Anyway, this issue featuring a pretty good scheme from the newly super-intelligent Super Apes, of 'The Red Ghost and...' The Red Ghost is having problems, though, since he appears to have become as dumb as the Apes have smart; and the Apes' powers all seemingly overlap now. In fact, once Reed defeats them, he worries that the same blending of powers and personalities could happen to himself and the rest of the FF. Which was never brought up again, to the best of my knowledge.

Also this ish: three pages devoted to the partial debut of the next big FF baddie, Crucible! Yeah, no one cares. His big claim to fame would be training with the same monks that helped Doctor Doom burn a mask to his face. I'm sure he'll be as well remembered as the Marquis of Evil or whatever the recent plotline with Doom's mentor was...

And on the last page, setting up next month's double-sized issue with Terminus, Alicia Masters, and the Silver Surfer? The Mole Man, in a towel. Yeah, I'm not scanning that. You're welcome.
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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Who remembers the Torch of Liberty? Show of hands...

I swear, it's like a Crisis retconned him right out. And I'm only half joking!

The Torch of Liberty was John Byrne's Captain America-homage character, appearing in backups in Danger Unlimited and later his own special. The special is pretty light, featuring the Torch and his sidekick Radio Girl facing the menace of Lenin's Ghost in the fifties. I do seem to recall his origin in Danger Unlimited as being a bit more heavy, however; and I might have to see if I still have that series somewhere. (It wasn't bad, even if my main recollection is "obvious Human Torch analog wakes up in the future, forms new team to fight his Doctor Doom." Pretty sure it was better than I'm making it sound, too.)

But the Torch is probably better known to longtime Hellboy readers, as being on the scene when Hellboy was first discovered by Professor Bruttenholm and a division of American soldiers. Later, the Torch would teach Hellboy to shoot (or at least try, he never would be a very good shot in the comics) and gave Hellboy his trademark pistol. Remember, in the first Hellboy series, creator Mike Mignola wasn't sure of his scripting skills, and called in Byrne to help out.

However, I'm not sure if the Torch of Liberty hasn't been retconned out of Hellboy: after all, Mignola wouldn't own that character, and might have to pay for his use. Hellboy has since lost that gun (prior to the Island, off the top of my head) and I don't think the Torch appears in the group shot of Hellboy's birth anymore. (I have to look that one up.) Still, this could just be because as the Hellboy/B.P.R.D. universe progressed, I don't think they had costumed heroes there. (Except in crossovers.)

This reminds me of when Image started, and everyone used each other's characters; partly to give the feel of a big, fully-formed universe; and partly to hype up each other's books. In the original origin of Todd McFarlane's Spawn, Al Simmons was killed by Rob Liefeld's Chapel, of Youngblood. When Liefeld left Image, Chapel was retconned into another character, Jessica Priest. That's the trouble with playing with toys that don't belong to you: eventually, they might ask for them back...

Still, the Torch of Liberty doesn't even have his own Wikipedia page, so I couldn't say for sure why he's on the outs. Probably nothing to it...probably. Panel from The Torch of Liberty Special, story by John Byrne, art by Kieron Dwyer.
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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Supergirl/Wonder Girl 3: Batman never has this problem with the Joker, since he's never funny.

Previous episodes: one and two.

Even though generally DC heroes are supposed to be stoic and all-business in battle, I can't remember the Joker (or the Riddler, the Prankster, or any other allegedly funny villain) ever busting out a line that might conceivably get a chuckle out of the hero. Bizarros, though...that, and I think I'd have a hard time staying mad at Bizarro, and his earnest stupidity. Although, some artists draw him less Silver-age blocky and more zombie-like, which does lessen the charm.

And even though Kara doesn't do a terrible job of Supergirl, I would wager she has received more lectures from Superman, than anyone else has ever, from anyone, in the history of anything.
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Facing the business end of the comfy chair.

I made this strip back in July, so I had sure as hell better be ahead of schedule now...Previous episodes: one, two, three, four, five, six and seven.

Without the mitigating influence of his lovely wife Hawkwoman--who is nowhere to be found yet in my area, along with the rest of that wave--Hawkman can be a bit of a jerk. Usually, it's not as noticeable, since his jerkiness plays against other jerks like Green Arrow. And maces in the house? Didn't his mom ever tell him to take it outside?

(Does Hawkman even have a mom in regular DC continuity? I know his dad played a bigger role in the Hawkworld series, but I can't recall his mom ever being mentioned. And how much would it suck to give birth to this new baby, that's been reincarnated about fifty times? Granted, I don't think he knows anything from the start, but still, it'd have to take off some of that new baby luster.)
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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Sure, "Do Not Panic!" is good advice, it's just a bit redundant is all.

I mean, how often are you told; go ahead, now's a good time to freak out?

Anyway, posting may be a little hit-and-miss for a bit: work is well, working me over more than usual, and I'm trying to take care of a few things at home. Before you think, oh no, how terrible; bear in mind one of the things I'm trying to wrap up is resetting my action figure shelves. Although, that is a two-man job...

So, today we have a good piece of advice from Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, "Do Not Panic!" Originally presented in Strange Tales #95, reprinted in Curse of the Weird #1, and I think I saw that twist ending in an EC Comic earlier, as well.
Well, I guess if it's gonna land right on top of you, then maybe panic.
Did that ever work?  I mean, can you imagine trying to clear the streets by saying 'clear the streets'?

Does this remind anyone else of that old EC one, with the planet of racist robots?  No?  Might just be me.

New strips tomorrow, and we'll see for the rest of the week! Man, it's a short one, I should knock something out...
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Saturday, September 05, 2009

I should apologize to Alan Moore for this one, but I won't.

Shoot, I had this one scheduled, but was supposed to get back in time to retitle and note it. That didn't happen...I think I set it for the wrong day, too.

Anyway, the Comedian and Silk Spectre were $3.99 a piece at Hot Topic; which made them pretty irresistible. I would've preferred Rorschach and Nite Owl, but those could still show up on sale down the road. As is often the case, these two from DC Direct look great but aren't putting the 'action' back in action figures: not a lot of useful articulation there. Still, not too shabby.

And the joke is the pretty obvious one, if you've read Watchmen and end up with those two figures...
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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Oh, I'm sure Egypt loves being compared to a mummy, yeah.

I would guess the Living Mummy's earlier appearances were all in black and white.
Hmm, I wasn't expecting to find an interesting page in Marvel Two-in-One #95. The last year or two of the book was generally done-in-one throwaway stories with the Thing and whoever needed their copyright renewed that month; and was winding down to it's last issue, #100. Of course, this is by no means a modern comic classic: archeologist gone bad Gamal Hassan sends a mystic crown to Alicia, putting her under his power and putting the Thing on the case. Not that it's in the yellow pages or anything, but maybe it would've been easier to find a blind sculptress that isn't the Thing's girlfriend, genius. It's not really clear why exactly he needs a blind artist, either, but Hassan sets her to work finding the Spirit Gem of Nephrus. Well, after dressing Alicia in a pretty skimpy outfit, anyway.
As always, fictional archaeology is way more exciting than the reality.
For some reason, Hassan's "innoculous archaeological dig" has automated rocket launcher defenses.

More after the break!

Eventually, N'kantu, the Living Mummy shows up; the soul of his old enemy Nephrus takes over Hassan, and violence insues. Ben and N'kantu don't fare that well, and in the end Alicia turns the crown on the gem. She plainly says she can't kill Nephrus, but totally does. Hmm. All's well that ends well, except for N'kantu, who's still a shambling mockery of a man unable to even die.

Or sort of unable to die. I mean, really, he's a mummy: he's gotta be flammable as hell. And 90% of his problems would be solved by learning english, or at least some modern language; and by wearing clothes over the bandages. The only other N'kantu appearance I have, was in Captain America #361; but that's exactly what I love about the Marvel Universe: it's stuffed to the gills full of super-heroes, Micronauts, giant Shogun Warriors, Godzilla, and ROM; but still has a place for the old school monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Mummy. And N'kantu actually appeared in Civil War, if you can believe it...

Panels from Marvel Two-in-One #95, "The Power to Live...the Power to Die!..." Scripted by David Anthony Kraft, pencils by Alan Kupperberg, inks by Jon D'agostino.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Supergirl/Wonder Girl 2: Every time she hears, 'can you hear me now?' Kara dies a little inside.

Short one today, but there's longer ones later. It all evens out, promise.
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Make 'em say 'Nth.'

This may be my most featherbrained strip ever! Previous episodes: one, two, three, four, and five, and six.

It would've been nice to have a bigger Stratos for this, but I haven't shelled out for the new Masters of the Universe figures. Come to think of it, I haven't seen Hawkgirl yet, either...
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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

He could have been someone. A Transformer, maybe.

DH would make a great figure, if those fangs don't gouge someone's eyes out.
(EDIT: I wrote this a couple days ago, before Death's Head became a Disney character! Unfortunately, I was working overtime yesterday and couldn't slap together a post on the Marvel-Disney deal. I am waiting with bated breath to see if Oubliette from Marvel Boy will become a Disney princess, though.)

In the comments a couple days back, Chiasaur11 (who needs to leave a link, if he's not already in the sidebar!) mentioned Death's Head, a Marvel character that has gone through a few different versions. Most of whom I'm not familar with: a third version was introduced a couple years ago in Amazing Fantasy, and I recall seeing Death's Head 2.0 in a lot of ads and covers for Marvel's UK books: he looked like a cross between the X-Men's Colossus and Frank Frazetta's Death Dealer. Pretty metal, but it had the reek of trying too hard to be extreme. Especially since the first version was pretty good from the start.
Quiet, Ben, don't queer the deal.
Created by Simon Furman and Geoff Senior, Death's Head was originally intended to be a throwaway bounty hunter character in Marvel's Transformers comic. But they liked the design too much to just use once, and arrangements were made for his first appearance to be in a one page strip so the rights wouldn't revert to Hasbro. A swell idea, that may have cost DH an action figure...

More after the break!
Sad Death's Head.
The character was a time-travelling, robot bounty hunter antihero; which sounds like just throwing together a lot of "kewl" elements. But, Death's Head somehow transcends that, at least in short bursts: he showed up in Marvel Comics Presents, She-Hulk, and probably most famously, Walt Simonson's Fantastic Four. There's something about him, perhaps the interesting design. Especially the face, which is alternately pointy-scary or mugging and comedic. (Like Deadpool or Spider-Man's masks, DH's face probably shouldn't have any change of expression, but artistic license says it does.) And Death's Head talks funny, or at least funny for comics, ending most of his sentences as questions, yes? Like this, huh? Not annoying at all, yes?

I guess Death's Head was a larger character when he was in Transformers, but was shrunk in an issue of Doctor Who. I want to say by the fifth Doctor, but the seventh may have messed with DH a time or two as well. In the prior issue, the Doctor also as much as calls DH a soulless automaton, incapable of learning, at least in terms of personal growth; and tells the uncaring robot that he will just go on forever, doing the same things, over and over and over. Geez, that's a little harsh, Doctor; what did robots ever do to you?...oh, right.

(Actually, that may be not be accurate: how many Dr. Who monsters are bona-fide, 100% non-organic robots? Both the Cybermen and the Daleks have organic components. And I don't know if someone who had K-9 would be so unsympathetic to robots.)

Panels from Death's Head #9, "Clobberin' Time!" Written by Simon Furman, art by Geoff Senior. Cover by Walt Simonson!

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