Saturday, October 31, 2009

There will be no 'eye' puns in today's Morbius post:

Stupid Morbius-eating tree...
Adventure into Fear with the man called Morbius--the Living Vampire #28 picks up right where the previous issue left off: gliding away after being shot by ex-C.I.A. spook Simon Stroud, Morbius lands in a tree and passes out. Possibly in the front yard, Simon may not have bothered to check, since he's taken Morby's fiance Martine down to the police station; where the cops have captured a female vampire. While Simon still thinks the female vamp is one of Morbius' victims, Martine is still trying to explain his condition doesn't work that way. (And she's right, Morbius isn't contagious.)

And now Police Chief Warner makes a complete left turn, recounting the story of the allegedly haunted house Martine rented, with weird floating eyes. Martine latches onto that as the probable cause of the other vampires, even with nothing resembling evidence; and Stroud goes to check out Old Lady Mason at the nuthouse.

Meanwhile, Morbius wakes up in the tree, and finds his bullet wound has healed. He surmises that the living vampirism has some side effects like tissue regeneration, then remembers Martine, who of course was long gone. Until he sees her going into the cellar.
Old Lady Mason is really regretting that webcam deal...
Martine doesn't answer as Morbius chases her, down to a door that opens onto a blank wall. Enraged and a bit insane, Morbius launches himself at the wall (probably not a good idea, since I think Morby had hollow bones) and flies through it:

Morbius then catches up to 'Martine:'
You know, she could be a DD, but I bet she would still never have to say, 'My eye is up here.'
Meanwhile, Stroud interviews Mrs. Mason, who seems less insane than merely cranky that no one believes her industrial-strength exposition.

Even though this one only has one eye, Morbius wants his Martine, and runs to her; only to go flying through a giant eye. Which leads to water, then more giant eyes, then one-eyed monsters that come out of the eyes...and I'm now convinced writer Doug Moench, artist Frank Robbins, and inker Vince Colletta would have had a hard time passing a drug test this month in 1975.

The monsters say they are from Helleyes, and while Morbius kills them all; the last one says that fighting him was their punishment for trying to warn humanity of their master's coming. The long-winded thing explains that Morbius must kill Helleyes, or hell will spill onto earth, and he must pass through the one eye that will kill him. The rest lead to other hells. Morbius passes through the eye--
Really not comfortable with the low-angle shot here...

Outside the mansion, Stroud rushes in and chases 'Morbius' to the blank door. And about to be squashed by Helleyes, Morbius leaps into the eye on his palm. The wrong eye.

A weird, weird issue; but with some scary imagery, even if it's mostly set-up for the next one. I know I have it, but I have to dig up the conclusion--I think it was reprinted in the nineties, but I'm not positive. These last two were originals, although I didn't get them until a few years ago, from a yard sale. Happy Halloween!
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Friday, October 30, 2009

I would've bought "Son of Say Ten," but I'm a big Orbital fan...

Even though it's not a character I have a lot of affection for, I have to admit the Son of Satan does on occasion bring a rocking visual. The cover of his first issue, for example, is just begging to be painted Frazetta-style on a van, or a death metal album cover circa 1988.
Where bad horses go when they die.
Even though I've seen him in Defenders and in his more-Vertigo styled Hellstrom; I don't know that I've ever seen Daimon use the chariot for anything other than mere transport: Daimon needs to get to Arizona, takes the chariot. Daimon needs to get back to New York, takes the chariot. Sure, that gets you a few panels of flaming-steed action per issue, but there should be more action. Like Daimon fighting a giant Shuma-Gorath rising from the ocean, blasting hellfire out of his trident, the giant squid's terrible eye blasting death at the hero...

More Satan after the break!

So, if I were writing another try at a Son of Satan series, not only would I make the artist do most of the heavy lifting; I also wouldn't try to follow or top the horror aspect of Hellstrom. I couldn't beat Warren Ellis and Leonardo Manco at their own game. Likewise, I would avoid the trap of his earliest issues: fighting with his father, over and least directly.
The Black Knight seems to fall into this as well: a flying horse that may as well be mass transit.
I would have Daimon rebel against his father, of course; like all children. And how would Daimon rebel against the prince of lies and darkness? By becoming a superhero; moreover, by becoming an incredibly clean-cut, pleasant, and noble one. Daimon would still be tormented by his inner darkness, and afraid of what might happen if he let it come out; and would fight that by being the closest thing to Superman the Marvel Universe has ever seen...even with a trident and hell-horses. I'd play him as much squarer than he actually is; but he would be trying to be square. So, if you can picture this barechested wildman, with a trident and flaming steeds, trying to ernestly and unironically give G.I. Joe style PSA's to confused children; that's where I'd take that. He would have a booming, distorted voice, and be channelling 100% pure unleaded evil, to rescue kittens and feed the homeless.

The credits box of this issue proclaims: "Beginning: A new chapter in the ever-changing life of Daimon Hellstrom" and they're on the nose with the ever-changing part. Sometimes, he's the Son of Satan, sometimes the Son of Marduk Kurios, sometime the Son of Satannish (grandson of Dormammu!), and on one memorable occasion, the Son of Stan. (I tried like hell, as it were, to find that one, but I don't have it here!...after I went through about twenty boxes.)

Panels from the Son of Satan #1, "Homecoming!" Written by John Warner, art by Jim Mooney, cover by Gil Kane and Mike Esposito. I probably would've been denied a lifetime of comics, if my mom had seen that cover in 1975. (Actually, Mom probably would've clicked her tongue, then ignored it.) I imagine there are still some who would be offended as hell by it. Which is dumb, since it's not like the Son's pitchforking sinners in the ass or anything. This issue, anyway.

And action figure fans; as you might've guessed, the Son of Satan has never received an action figure. Odds are, you will get one before he does...

And, I screwed up on the title, which was meant to refer to Orbital's song "Satan" and which I mistakenly thought was spelled "Say Ten." For some reason. I know I'm thinking of another song there...(Yeah, Reel Big Fish's "Say Ten," a song I enjoy as an unrepentant carnivore...) Some readers may remember "Satan" from the opening to the movie Spawn, but please don't hold that against it. (I caught Spawn again a while back, and god, it hasn't aged well...) So, here, enjoy "Satan" live from Glastonbury.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

Morbius versus...the C.I.A.?

I've mentioned before that Morbius appeared in the 70's in Fear, or Adventure into Fear, or its full title, Adventure into Fear with the man called Morbius--the Living Vampire. With "the Living Vampire" taking up about two-thirds of that, and the whole thing could've just been called Morbius vs. Freaky Crap. And yet we're starting with an issue light on the freaky crap. Well, too bad!
I am 100% for Halloween costumes that make it into the regular rotation.
From AiFwtmcMtLV #20, "Night of the Vampire-Stalker!" Written by Doug Moench, art by Frank Robbins, inks by D. Fraser.
Granted, it's dank, musty, the cobwebs aren't much to look at, the heater bangs, there's mold, radon, the previous tenant was a smoker...but it'll shape up.
A helpful footnote explains that Morbius and his fiance Martine were reunited in Giant-Size Werewolf #4--the comic being giant-size, not the Werewolf. The footnote does not explain Martine's outfit, which, while rockin', does require explanation. Maybe she just thought it was fitting for her new digs, a dilapidated old house she was able to rent for a song because it was supposedly haunted. (And no surprises, but I'm pretty sure something weird crawled out of the house later in the series...)
'Oh, the meant you were fixing up the lab...and not any other room.  Yeah.'
Martine's been busy, setting up a lab for Morbius to try and cure himself. She's also stolen some plasma for him...wait, does Morbius drink that, or should she have picked up the whole blood? I know on the 90's Spider-Man cartoon standards-and-practices forbid blood-drinking, so plasma was used instead there...
Simon...I'm not sure you realize what you're saying there...
The theft of the plasma sent up a red flag in Washington D.C. and ex-C.I.A. agent Simon Stroud is put on the case. I'm not sure by who, exactly: I didn't think the C.I.A. was supposed to operate on U.S. soil. At any rate, Stroud had recently been hunting the Man-Wolf, but was being moved to the case of five corpses in Boston, found drained of blood, whose bodies were no longer in their coffins...

Meanwhile, the stolen plasma does nothing for Morbius: whether psychological or physiological, the craving for blood is a compulsion; and Morbius doesn't want it out of a bottle...Martine's starting to look pretty good to him, and it's not just the thigh-high boots. When Martine hugs him back, Morbius is able to resist just enough to go looking for other prey. He finds another victim, but is appalled with himself when it's over.
Well, that's pretty harsh, Caption Box.
Meanwhile, as Stroud leaves the police station, he hears a scream, which leads him to another victim, with the telltale fang punctures in his neck. Three days later, Stroud visits the burial site of the victim, to pre-emptively put a stake in his heart. But he then visits Morbius' victim, who was back at home and mostly fine. She hadn't even reported the attack at first, thinking no one would believe her; so she ate a bunch of red meat and got her strength back.

Stroud is suspicious, and continues showing Morbius' photo around town. He then gets a call about dead horses, "riddled with punctures...these nags belong in a player piano!" See, 'cause they've got holes corresponding to those on a player piano reel...what an odd reference.

Back at the house, Morbius awakens to an I.V. in his arm; but tells Martine that it's no good.

Morbius doesn't mention what religion. He may just mean that it doesn't affect him, because he doesn't seem to have a particular faith. Possibly because most faiths wouldn't want him. Frankly, I'm kind of surprised Marvel didn't get an angry phone call from the Nobel Prize Committee, since Morbius' Nobel Prize is mentioned like four times.

Stroud gets a hit showing Martine's photo, and heads out to her rented haunted house, where Morbius is working intently on his cure...until he drops a test tube, and has to lick the spilled plasma like a junkie. Stroud smashes in, throwing a cross at Morbius' feet, which does...nothing. Stroud is pissed that his research was for nothing, but reasons that either way, a stake through his heart should kill him.

Since he's stronger than he looks, Morbius is able to take Stroud's stake away and throw it out a window. Stroud is then down to just shooting him, which is surprisingly effective. Martine rushes to Morbius' aid, blocking Stroud's shot. He threatens to shoot her, but she calls him on it, and Morbius is able to leap out a window and glide away.
Oooooh, the ACLU is gonna hear about this...
Stroud arrests Martine for obstruction, but gets a call in his car: another vampire killing downtown, not fifteen minutes ago, and the cops caught the female vampire. Stroud figures it must be one of Morbius' victims, but Martine defends him: Morbius can't pass on his condition.

You know, I don't think I liked Robbins' art as a kid, but it grew on me here. We might just be able to get one more Morbius issue in on Halloween, but tomorrow, another scary Marvel character, that I don't think has been on this blog before!
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"Wreckered, part two"

Technically, I suppose you wouldn't need an adamantium needle to pierce Wolverine's skin, sure. But the X-Men probably have to be thinking about other possible medical emergencies. We've seen a few times the extreme measures needed to perform surgery on Colossus' metal body, for example. And I would have to bet at least some of the X-Men have to donate blood, to keep frozen in case they get injured and need it back: I wonder if a mutant like Nightcrawler's blood, is mutated to the point it's unusable for anyone else, or likewise if he could take a donation from someone else.

Say, does anyone remember if Angel's blood still heals people? Or has everyone blacked that out of continuity? I would completely understand if that was the case...

And the street name for the Wolverine tranquilizers was doubtless "inspired" by "Totally Awesome Sweet Alabama Liquid Snake" from Metalocalypse. Is their first album still available with the bonus tracks? Need to look into that.

Previous episodes: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, and eleven.
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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Now, Daredevil versus Ghostface, that would be awesome. This? Not so much.

Now you see why he's the Master!
Even though I think I have exactly two issues of Master of Kung-Fu, I know that one of Shang-Chi's storytelling dilemmas is that dated evil Asian Fu Manchu isn't in the public domain yet; which means that ofttimes Shang references his evil dad without being able to say his name. Another problem? Most of his villains get killed pretty quickly, then you have to go through the hassle of resurrecting them. We've seen the Midnight Son here before, brought back as a Silver Surfer antagonist, and there's been multiple Razorfists, but this time, it's Ghostmaker, returning in Daredevil Annual #10. ("Vendettas" Written by Greg Wright, pencils by Kris Renkewitz, inks by Charles Barnett III.)

Luckily for the writers, they had a plot device that would bring Ghostmaker back quickly: resurrection by the evil ninjas of the Hand. Nevermind that stunts like that use up a lot of juice, and the Hand have lost a lot of guys like Kirigi that they should probably bring back before they go down the list of old MOKF bad guys...
Yeah, not a great comic here.
According to the Grand Comics Database, Ghost Maker (or Ghost-Maker, I'm going to stick with Ghostmaker) fought Shang in Master of Kung Fu #110; I had to look that up since there was no footnote. And I can understand why: the recap of Ghostmaker fighting Shang, while trying to kill the Queen of England by seeding clouds with acid rain, sounds pretty good, maybe better than this issue. Unfortunately, GM's plan was foiled by shifting winds, which blew the acid rain his way, and he ended up melted. Not like the Wicked Witch, more like Toht from the end of Raiders.

It's mentioned in passing that Ghostmaker was Russian, but he doesn't look Russian to me anywhere here. And he gets hung up on honor, so he seems like the typical ninja type. Still, cool name. The Snakeroot branch of the Hand bring him back to kill Daredevil and Elektra, before their boss the Beast gets wind of their slip-ups. fix their in-house mistakes, the Snakeroot is hiring outside and delegating it out? Great plan, if you're an 80's cartoon villain: not unlike Cobra Commander or Skeletor, I think they're planning this mission with their only goal being to yell at their flunkies when they inevitably fail.

This story was set right after Daredevil took the armored costume and the identity of Jack Batlin: Matt Murdock was believed dead by the world at large, and was laying pretty low: even Matt's oldest friends like Karen Page, Foggy Nelson, Ben Urich, and the Black Widow thought he was dead. Now, if they had seen Matt in his armored costume, Urich and the Widow would've probably recognized him instantly, but for now, the only person in DD's life is the resurrected Elektra.
A weird thought, since Matt seems to beat up a good portion of New York City on a regular basis.
And Daredevil isn't too sure how he feels about that. Matt had long since worked through his grief at Elektra's death; and now she's back and more of a killer than she was before. With her dark side returned to her, Elektra was whole, and wanted to get back together with Matt, but that may have been more because she didn't have anyone else. You get the feeling she's trying to figure out what to do with herself, just as the writers try to figure out what to do with her, besides piss off Frank Miller.

More after the break, including a melting face!
As Elektra pines, Ghostmaker attacks DD; and Elektra recognizes the stench of the Beast. (Axe?) Ghostmaker can't take them both at the same time, so he flies off, escaping with Elektra's sai. She's noticeably pissed, but Daredevil points out that wasn't hers, it belonged Erynys, the Hand's evil clone-Elektra.
Why Shang-Chi is dressed up like Quick-kick, I couldn't guess.
Meanwhile, Shang-Chi is getting in a little sparring time with Nick Fury, and a suspiciously redheaded agent Woo--ok, somebody screwed up there. Shang is rocking a terrible headband as well; between the interiors and the cover, he appears to have bought his ensemble at the S.H.I.E.L.D. gift shop.

Fury wants to hire Shang-Chi to bring in Elektra, since he doesn't buy that she's on their side. (A reference to the attempt at the time to shoehorn Miller and Sienkiewicz's Elektra: Assassin into continuity.) An Elektra sighting is reported, noting the return of Ghostmaker: Shang admits he didn't personally see GM melt, but he sounds like he's trying to convince himself. He takes the job, but Fury seems to realize Shang's looking to find Ghostmaker.

As Daredevil goes looking for the Snakeroot, Ghostmaker's eyeballing Elektra, but Shang finds him first, throwing down the ceremonial white hankie...
No!  Not...the red tunic!
The coloring is crap this issue.

Elektra considers getting involved, then doesn't. Even with her distraction, Shang is more than a match for Ghostmaker, who is forced to use weapons, then escape. Shang believes GM to be dead, but he's just getting a little lecture from his Snakeroot boss, who's a little upset that they could have Shang-Chi on their backs now.
Yeah, that should be the end of Shang's fighting career there...
Ghostmaker catches up to Daredevil, who's been doing an extensive search of the tunnels under New York City. DD gives him a pretty good fight, but is on the ropes when Shang and Elektra arrive. Foregoing honor again (even though outnumbered) Ghostmaker throws the sai at Shang--which, by these pictures, should be sticking out the other side of him. Shang pulls it out, which probably could've cost him that arm, but he tosses the barbed sai to Elektra, who plants it in Ghostmaker's skull. He melts, again.
Well, that should be the end of that...
Elektra stabbing GM is in silhouette, presumably because it would be too graphic for a Comics-Code approved comic. Or artist fatigue, since the next page? All silhouette, and I guess it gets plumb breezy down in those tunnels, since Elektra's headband and sash are blowing back like there's a 40 mph headwind. Shang's not going to take Elektra in for S.H.I.E.L.D, but he cautions her to stay hidden. While he wasn't about to let S.H.I.E.L.D. have her, Daredevil's a little upset that Elektra can go from calm to killer just like that.

And on the last page, the Snakeroot plan to save Ghostmaker for later, after they purge all his little grudges. Silently, Ghostmaker adds the Snakeroot head Daito to the list...his mask is also wrecked, over the course of the issue, until it covers little except his nose.

I wanted to give this annual an E for Effort, but man...there's multiple coloring errors that are at odds with the dialog. Which isn't great either. I have no idea if Ghostmaker looked something like this before his resurrection, but I doubt it. And Shang-Chi's huge ponytail, like Elektra's sash and headband, blow in the breeze constantly, even inside, or underground. But this issue is indicative of where Daredevil was at the time: lost.
Famously, Paul Verhoeven refused to cut even a second of the crowd-pleasing 'melting-man' scene...and I'm thinking of something else.
Mind you, some of the panels of Ghostmaker melting aren't bad...By the way, didn't Shang-Chi appear a few times in Uncanny X-Men with a ton of tattoos? That were never seen again?

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Probably my favorite Warren Ellis line still:

From Two-Step #1, with art by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti; and set in the far-flung year of...2001? (A joke, the book came out late 2003.)

I remembered the line, but blanked on the title; so I tried Warren Ellis's wikipedia entry, and it wasn't there! Granted, this little three-issue mini from Cliffhanger/Wildstorm isn't one of his major works, but it's still fun. If some people were surprised when Nextwave was as out-loud funny as it was, that's because they missed Two-Step.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing the rest of this week: I had a longer post typed up, but it was mostly moping over not being more excited for Halloween, and why I don't believe in ghost (shows). We'll have something more substantial tomorrow, I'm sure. Read more!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Frank's yanking your chain, Cap.

We'll close out this week the way we opened it, with a panel from Punisher/Captain America: Blood & Glory (#3), written by D.G. Chichester, art by Klaus Janson. Did Moro tribesmen really bind their testicles? Or is that just something they made up to impress outsiders? Or maybe to see if they could get anyone else to try it, then laugh and laugh...

Did anyone remember this series had a guest-appearance from Terror, of Terror, Inc.? Oh, you lie.

Now, there's my problem: all too willing with the condescending advice, when it looks like the real money is in disgusting services. Ah, well.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hey, a review! Playmates Star Trek Bridge Playset

I don't do reviews very often, but I bought the Star Trek bridge set the other day, probably a good what, four months and change after it came out? Well, I suppose the rule is now I have to mention that I purchased this product and did not receive any gifts, services, or fabulous prizes for this. I had only seen one other review for this online, but that may be because it's like reviewing a build-a-figure when you only have the legs.

The bridge begins life in a box with a photo of a more complete, and populated bridge than you get out of the box. Granted, that's the only way to do it, since it's too big to pack showing what's inside. There is a small window showing the enclosed Kirk figure, so you could perhaps give it the once-over for glaring paint errors.

I'm a pretty patient man, but I destroyed the hell out of this box getting everything out, mainly the Kirk. I sincerely doubt you could unpack and repack everything in there; but if you were so inclined as to devote hours to it, I won't stop you.

The set comes with the centerpiece of the bridge, the captain's chair; and the helm and navigation stations. Those two are traditionally where Sulu and Chekov sit.

Kirk takes the big chair easily enough, but it seemed like it's too high. There is a steep dropoff just behind him as well, that I think is a couple of feet in-scale, and seems like a safety hazard.

Much more after the break, and a short cartoon at the end!

Unlike the rest of the bridge pieces (which we'll get to) the seats for the helm and navigation consoles are locked into place. Which is nice, except...Sulu and Chekov can't sit back in the chairs, and reach their stations. My Chekov figure has a sticky leg, and refuses to sit well anyway, but the point remains. There are a few sculpted elements to the console, like the throttle; but it's mostly flat. While there's not really paint, there are a few stickers for the appropriate mass of unlabeled buttons that Sulu and Chekov use. They're nice enough, with no bubbling.

The viewscreen is open, with a printed insert to slide into it. Did it sit so low in the movie? I want to say it should be a little higher off the floor, but I could be confusing it with the original series, or my Mego bridge.

Last are the two "data screens." They are clear, with some info displayed on them. They do serve to divide the bridge a bit, from the main area and the little ancillary stations.

There isn't much sculpt left, since the rest of the playset is...a mat. Since I haven't seen the movie in a bit, I can't say it's the exact color of the Enterprise's floor--for some reason, probably the lens flares, I wanted to say it was whiter. Since the mat is a thin plastic, and comes rolled-up in the box, you will probably have to weigh it down and press it flat to get started.

The viewscreen insert is of the Romulan ship Narada, including some of the little technical pop-ups. Unlike the mat, the insert comes flat and is stiffer, so it slides in and displays well. It's also semi-clear, so it doesn't completely block light. But...the set only comes with one insert, non-reversible. Not to get all old-timer here, but I had the classic Mego bridge, and I had three interchangeable viewscreens, double-sided. Alternative screens would add a ton of play value.

Now, since it's a playset, that means no articulation, right? Well, no. Kirk's chair turns, but doesn't stick: it will spring back to center. Moreover, since the base is a (mostly) flat mat, once you center the captain's chair piece on there, there is nothing holding it in place. Well, technically not 'nothing,' just inertia, gravity, and the force of your will; so it's super-easy to knock it out of whack. And that's the heaviest set piece: the other consoles will shift with a harsh glance.

Other consoles? That's right! To complete your bridge playset, you need to purchase the other figures in Playmates' 3.75 inch line, or at least the ones that come with bridge pieces. In the first wave, Kirk, Spock, Scotty, Pike, Sulu, and Cadets Chekov and McCoy all come with additional chairs and consoles to fill out the set. (Uhura, Nero, and Original Spock come with additional pieces for the transporter room set.)

Got all seven? You're halfway there! The rest will come with the second wave of figures, which I have yet to see in stores.

If you go the distance, you are going to end up with an extra gold-shirted Kirk: the bridge comes with one, but you need the single-packed for the console. Actually, you could get a few more Kirks to boot: the second wave appears to include black-shirted Kirk, survival gear Kirk, and possibly cadet Kirk.

Admittedly, if you were interested in the playset, you were probably interested in at least some of the other figures; since it's pretty rare for only one person to be on the bridge. (Original series episodes "This Side of Paradise" and "The Mark of Gideon" are the exceptions that prove the rule...) It is a little more purchase-intensive than your average build-a-figure; but on the other hand, if you buy one figure they can still sit in their chair and console.

You may consider the included Kirk figure the accessory here. It's not the best likeness in the first wave of figures, but not terrible. Still, it doesn't compare well to a similarly scaled G.I. Joe or Star Wars figure.

Like his single-packed brethren, Kirk comes with a belt (with non-removable communicator) and phaser.

The bridge of the Enterprise is inherently fun; and once you get some consoles it is neat to set them up, move them around, man the stations, and so on.

But right out of the box, I don't know how much fun the lone Kirk and chairs are. Other viewscreens to display would've been great, and it seems a crime that there is no sound effects button here.

Now, here's a crapshoot: If you were to buy the bridge set and the seven figures with bridge accessories, at full retail, it would run you an estimated $74 American. ($25 for the playset, $7 each for the figures.)

Personally? I picked up the bridge, and the majority of the figures, and three spares for additional consoles; for under $35. (Currently, I'm missing Original Spock, but he comes with a transporter piece.) So, if you shop it around, it's more than likely you could pick it up on the cheap. The Oldest and I have discussed possibly "customizing" the spares into other crewmen. With Sharpies.

The mat does seem a bit thin and a bit slick. If you have some weights, perhaps a couple textbooks or such, I'd recommend trying to flatten it right out of the box.

Overall? Well, I don't know if I would've paid more than I did. In fact, no, I wouldn't.

There is probably a perfectly valid reason why not, but a hard plastic base instead of a mat; would've improved this playset by a factor of ten. A hard plastic base, that you could tab or lock the additional set pieces onto? That would've been a hundred times better. (I freely admit, there could be multiple reasons why that wouldn't have worked, even excluding price point.)

I was very disappointed in the lack of additional main viewscreen displays. A generic space one, or incoming Klingons, or asteroids and debris; would've been much appreciated. Ditto a sound button: phaser and photon torpedo fire, an explosion, and done. Seems like a no-brainer. If this scale and price point are more for kids than collectors, you have to hit those marks to put it over the top.

I like that Playmates included a Kirk figure. I don't like that it's the same as the carded one, and that you still need that one for the bridge piece. One should have been a variant of some sort; and even though it's his traditional look, he only wears the gold shirt for about fifteen seconds in the movie. (Oh, it's been out for months, that's not a spoiler.)

Lastly, I'm still seven to ten pieces away from filling all the empty spots. Since I haven't seen the second wave of figures yet, I don't know which comes with what, but two may come with additional data screens; I'd be willing to bet Scotty's little alien sidekick Keenser comes with one. And it looks like the rearmost consoles may be a little different, with a round protuberance. Otherwise, you may be well-advised, to hit clearance aisles for marked down first series figures to fill in those empty spots.

Even after all that, there is still some fun to be had with the Star Trek Bridge Playset. It just that, it could have been better.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Supergirl/Wonder Girl conclusion: Actually calling him "Dickbat" is unbelievably awkward.

The topic of who in the DC Universe knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman has been up for debate for years now, and now that debate can expand into who knows Dick Grayson is Batman. Probably everyone who knew the former, and then some. (For a start, check out Lorendiac's List of same from Comics Should Be Good.)

Part of the debate is, that during the early, good, Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans days, the full roster of Titans seemed to be privy to Batman's identity. Which eventually led to Terra, and Deathstroke, getting the secret. Which probably led to the Batman editors having a cow that Teen Titans was letting the cat out of the bag. Plus, if you are OK with the idea of Danny Chase maybe knowing Bruce Wayne is Batman; you need to sit down and seriously re-evaluate where you are in life.

While I figure Blackest Night is going to be the big crossover while it's ongoing; I'm kind of surprised DC hasn't tried to expand Damian/Robin into some event thing. I know he's appeared in Booster Gold, and is going to be in Batgirl later, but Robin versus the Teen Titans is the obvious one. It sure couldn't hurt that book any...but it may be interesting to see that little brat interact with say, Wonder Woman. Or the returned Superboy, since the Damian/Connor relationship would be a far cry from Connor and Tim's. Or the Secret Six. That kid would be their leader in fifteen minutes.

Of course, I say this, but since Wednesday's Comics and Final Crisis: Escape both ended, the only DC book on my pull list? Warlord.

That's it for this particular series of strips: it was fun, but the girls didn't have enough articulation for a lot of body language. Plus the combination of my crummy lighting and their glossy skintones wasn't great. Previous episodes: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.
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"Wreckered, part one"

The Wrecker has yet to get a proper action figure, either in Marvel Legends or any other line. His cohorts in the Wrecking Crew, Thunderball and soon Piledriver, will get figures in the Marvel Universe scale; so there's every possibility Wrecker and Bulldozer will as well. Piledriver, who very possibly was a congenital moron, comes packed with Hawkeye; since they had a scene together in Secret Wars where Piledriver has the nerve to be surprised when Hawkeye shoots him with a simple, non-trick, pointy arrow. (Hawkeye gives him ample warning beforehand.)

Yeah, I don't like the Wrecking Crew. The closest equivalent I can think of would be DC's Royal Flush Gang: they can put up a good fight, but are far too stupid to ever win, come up with an interesting scheme, or even figure out how they're going to get beat. They're the next step in hired goons, in that they have that super-strength, and expect you to remember their names. The only time they're really interesting, and I'm stretching the definition, is when they're in service to someone else, like Dr. Doom in Secret Wars or Baron Zemo in the Masters of Evil.

Plus, in the Wrecker's old Marvel Universe entry, it points out that the Wrecker at full power could press about 40 tons (versus Thor at the high end of the scale at 100 tons) but when he shares his power with the Crew, they all go to about 10 tons, roughly around Spider-Man's level. Now, sure, there are other factors, and ten tons or none, I wouldn't want to be on the business end of a crowbar; but it always seemed like Thor, or Spidey for that matter, should mop the floor with them easy. (Old school OHOTMU fans may remember the Wrecker's crowbar is the last full entry, in the last first series issue, #15. They may also remember the Wrecker's crowbar isn't as curved as the one I have here, from the Spirit action figure...)

Previous episodes: one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and ten.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I'm only fifty-plus days late on this one:

And now you can't get that image out of your head, either...
I swear, this is the first thing I thought of when Disney purchased Marvel: sure, Disney's getting a library of more than 5,000 Marvel characters, including The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man; but there are a lot of good characters further down the list as well. Or, at least ones with untapped potential, like Morbius, the Blazing Skull, Death's Head, or Woodgod. (Maybe not Woodgod, but can't you just see him happily prancing around with the happy little Disney woodland creatures, until one of them gets killed and Woodgod has to go berserk?)

Somewhere, I saw pointed out that to turn a profit on this deal, Disney would need to see a return of what, over $800,000 per character? More than that, because they're never going to get any cash out of Bloodhawk, the Devourer, and the Raptor. And those are just the lamest ones I've blogged about, you can probably think of others. (Oddly, I keep thinking of lame characters they probably could get some money out of, like the female Dr. Octopus from the Clone Saga: somebody would buy her action figure...)

But I immediately thought of one that probably isn't going to become a Disney Princess: Oubliette from Marvel Boy:
It's not ok to think that's hot, right?
Which is actually kind of a shame: Oubliette (noun: a dungeon with only one opening.) describes herself as "the Lara Croft of evil." She quickly proves to be less evil, more used since birth by her megalomaniac father Dr. Midas. Among other crimes, Midas convinced his daughter she was hideously ugly under her mask (she wasn't) and he seemed to be wearing an old Iron Man suit for some reason.

I haven't been as enamored of Grant Morrison's recent work, but damn, I loved this one. From the trade Marvel Boy, written by Grant Morrison, pencils by J. G. Jones, inks by Sean Parsons. The scan is from issue #6, which I couldn't find for the life of me, and finally just bought a used copy of the trade. Which I wholeheartedly recommend, and I also recommend finding a copy while you can, since I doubt Disney will be keen on reprinting that one.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Captain America's funeral: Heartbreaking. Tragic. And yet really familiar...

So, the other day I re-read Punisher/Captain America: Blood & Glory, a three-issue prestige miniseries from 1992. Klaus Janson's art carries it, but D.G. Chichester turns in a right fine story as well. But one moment--well, more than one, we'll come back to it--stuck with me: the bad guys put together some evidence framing Cap, then get it to the Punisher, so Frank shoots him. (Just like he shot Nick Fury, but in Frank's defense, apparently he can shoot good guys and they'll be OK.) Cap's hurt, but he'll live; but he tells Nick Fury to let him die. As far as anyone knows.

Cap plays dead to go undercover, which lasts about nine pages before he's recognized. He's even recognized out of uniform, more than once. But that scene seemed familiar...
(Picture taken from USA Today, since I couldn't find the issue with the actual funeral.) OK, like Cap's most recent funeral, where he was 100%, absolutely, positively, irrevocably dead. Until he wasn't.

For his funeral in the classic "the strange death of captain america" Cap was faking again, this time to re-establish his secret identity. Which he then kept and fiercely protected, until he didn't. (From Captain America #112, "as reported by Lee-Steranko-Palmer-Simek.")

Now, this time Cap may have been kinda dead: frozen in a block of ice again, this time to buy time for the Red Skull to stop Cap's degenerating Super-Soldier Serum; so the Skull can use Cap in a gambit to claim the Cosmic Cube. And the whole issue reads faster than that last sentence, and I mean that in a good way. (Of course! It's Captain America #445, "Operation: Rebirth, chapter one: Old Soldiers Never Die" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Ron Garney, inks by Scott Koblish.)

This time, Captain America was supposedly killed in an explosion--OK, a really big explosion, a small town blown up by a Nazi suicide cult--but why Cap allowed everyone to believe he was dead isn't really clear, except to get a grim-as-hell miniseries set in South America and then a new first issue out of the deal. (The credit box is right there! But it's from Captain America #50, "Stars & Stripes Forever" Written by Evan Dorkin, art by Kevin Maguire; and I would not have minded at all if they had done a ton more Cap stories.)

Is Cap's grave marker giving the thumbs up?...I'd kinda like that.
OK, now that's a What If? so it doesn't strictly count, but still. From #26, "What If Captain America had been elected president?" Written by Mike W. Barr, art by Herb Trimpe and Mike Esposito.

So, let's see here: we've got funerals from 1968, 1981 (with an asterisk, the What If?) 1992, 1995, 2002, and 2007. And while three of them are completely faked, with Cap's complicity; his friends grieve for real each time. I for one would be pretty damn thrilled to have the Thing as a pallbearer, but I think I'd just be happy to have more than one funeral...

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Thanos must go through a lot of chairs...

Some people like a more firm chair, I guess.
In case you thought I was joking about Thanos and his vendetta against Deadpool, here's the proof, from Deadpool #64, "Funeral for a Freak, part 4 of 4, Deadpoolalooza!" This was the last issue from writers Frank Tieri and Buddy Scalera, penciler Jim Calafiore, and inkers Wong and McKenna; next month Gail Simone and Udon would tear that sucker up. So, #64 isn't the worst Deadpool issue ever, and they do pick the place up when they're done.

Let's look at one more page, from #60, "Deadpool, Agent of Weapon X, part 4: Flatline" Written by Frank Tieri, pencils by Georges Jeanty, inks by Holdredge and Wong. The Weapon X program lures in Deadpool by juicing up his healing factor to insane levels, but after Sabretooth (on orders of the Director) kills Wade's old flame Vanessa, all bets are off: Wade kills Kane, fights through Wild Child and Sauron, before getting to the big boss:
Actually, with darker hair, I think Sabretooth would resemble the movie version...
What is with Sabretooth's fingerless opera gloves there? The fight goes south pretty quickly for Deadpool, as Weapon X deactivates his healing factor, and Pool is melting fast. Shortly thereafter, Pool cuts his own hand off and crams it into Sabretooth's lungs, which sadly doesn't take. Deadpool is then ignobly shot down by the Director, Poochie, and a bunch of goons; the Director then mails Pool's hand and a taunting note to Wolverine. And somehow Weapon X got a series out of this.

Not loving this issue either: Pool's out for vengeance in the traditional (cliche) manner, but doesn't seem especially broken up about Vanessa's death. Like it was just the excuse he needed to go on the warpath. (Maybe Pool gets more emotional in a prior issue, maybe.) At any rate: I think I liked Tieri's run on Iron Man better...
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