Thursday, December 31, 2009

"The End" Week: Major Bummer #15

Need help with your New Year's resolution?
No, I'm not quitting blogging, why do you ask?
Here's help!
Coincidentally, this is also like 90% of humanity's response tomorrow morning as well.
Resolve to get a full set of Major Bummer! From "Saving Time" Written by John Arcudi, art by Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen. Hell, I don't even have a full batch, and my issues aren't GCD pretty, either. They've been well-read and well-loved, although I can't recall if I bought them new or from those quarter bins. I want to say I started late, but was buying it on sight by the end...

I don't think the name "Major Bummer" is ever used in the issues I've read, but it's the tale of Lou Martin. As issue #3 introduces him:
Either 'VCR repairman' dates this book, or Lou is really really a slacker.
Lou's a slacker's slacker, lazy, aimless, and a shade on the dim side; until he gets super-powers, by accident, from a pair of alien grad students. They had intended to give the powers to Martin Louis, an upstanding member of the community, but didn't realize names are last name first in the phone book...Lou accomplishes about as much with powers as he did without, but is now plagued by wannabe superheroes, incompetent alien menaces, and villains whose powers draw them to Lou. It is, of course, hysterical.

Sadly, sales were never great, and I do have to give DC credit for sticking with it as long as it did. Major Bummer was a creator-owned book, but so far Arcudi and Mahnke haven't taken him anywhere else. Maybe a trade someday, guys.

And with that, have a Happy New Year, and drag your hungover ass to the computer sometime tomorrow for the Year in Toys!
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"The End" Week: Gen13 #77

How awesome is Adam Warren?

So awesome that he got me to read Gen13 on more than one occasion. His Grunge: the Movie arc is a modern classic; but he also had a good run on the last year and a half of the book. Previously, in Gen13 #74, the original team of Caitlin, Bobby, Sarah, Roxy, and Grunge were killed; their bodies used as fuel in a gen-active bomb. Now their powers are destroying the world, and it's up to their friends to put aside their grief and stop it.
It's not only a helluva idea, but there are a ton of great jokes for it as well there.
Luckily, their friends are also gen-actives, and have more interesting powers: Nate is a quadruple amputee with "psychokinetic phantom limbs." Tommy can draw from the strength of those around him, and is very much this team's Grunge. His sister Sadie is like a voodoo doll: hitting her hurts you. And Leslie can turn her traumatic memories into new superpowers.
Grunge isn't dead, it's just sleepy!  Oh, but Grunge the guy is dead.
The bomb that killed Gen13 was intended to "encode a human personality into the Gen-Factor itself." Which, in theory, would mean not just having superpowers, but being made of superpowers. Um, kay...after a skirmish with hyperevolved skin cancer/guard dogs, Nate puts together the nullifer that will disrupt the energy disturbances; a process that involves Nate cutting even more pieces off himself. ("With no arms, it's not like I'm getting much use out of my deltoid muscle, okay?")

Leslie stays behind to keep Nate from sacrificing himself, creating a shield from the memory of first getting the call about Gen13's death. But in the end, they're saved by Caitlin, now transformed into a "small-g god." She smiles as she rises up and disappears, just like this comic: in the letter's page, Adam Warren gives thanks for Wildstorm not cancelling the book back around issue #74, "or even earlier."

I forget how much later it was, but Chris Claremont would try to bring back Gen13 with a thirteen-cent promo issue...and that's all I remember about his run. And I'm pretty sure the original gang has since been brought back, but I don't know how or care, and neither do you. Go read Empowered instead.
You don't see superpowered characters enjoying their powers like that anymore...
Warren is a great idea man, with a knack for dropping expositional dialog with just the right amount of snide parenthetical asides. I've been a little worried since I saw an interview with him that mentioned that he wanted to get out of pencilling and more into just writing; which would be a damn shame. I do still need to do a write-up on the Fantastic Four three-parter he did a while back; and it's still a disappointment he didn't get to do more.

From Gen13 #77, "Dead Friends and Imminent Catastrophe" Written by Adam Warren, art by Kaare Andrews, Rick Mays and Jason Martin, and Adam Warren. (Wildstorm FX did some of the colors, but Warren credits Ryan Kinnairo for helping out his section, which was done on patterned linen-finish cardstock. Which sounds neat.)

One last "The End" post later today! You'll never guess, don't even try, but here's a hint: it's a DC book, that hasn't been brought back to date.
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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"The End" week: Incredible Hulk #474

To be fair, you are mighty ugly, Emil.
Joe Casey drew the short straw when he got the writing assignment for the Incredible Hulk...after Peter David's decade-plus stint. Casey's last issue would be the last of the series, which would be relaunched a month later with John Byrne; but let's look at Incredible Hulk #474, "The Great Astonishment, conclusion: It's All True!" Written by Joe Casey, art by Javier Pulido and Sean Parsons.

The issue opens rather candidly, with Casey himself taking a call from editor Matt Idelson:
Now we know this is fiction: like a freelancer behind schedule is gonna answer the phone.
It's a bit 'man-behind-the-curtain," but it was big of Casey to own up to having trouble wrapping up his storyline and the series.

In-story, Bruce Banner and the alien Qnax are taking fire in their attempt to recover the Ultimate Machine. Following his pet, they catch up with the Watcher (and I don't believe that it's Uatu, but one of his race) who then destroys the Machine; or what they thought was the Machine: the true Ultimate Machine is the core of the Watcher homeworld, and not just the accumulated knowledge of the universe, but also "a house of truth."
I think we've seen Watchers with pets like that before, back in the old Captain Marvel book.
Meanwhile, back on earth, General 'Thunderbolt' Ross faces down the Abomination, who just dropped the bombshell that Betty didn't die from radiation poisoning caused by the Hulk, the Abomination poisoned her.

The Watcher gives a vague warning about the Machine, but Qnax, desperate to save his people, goes in. Banner is equally desperate, but has a more esoteric question: why. Bruce goes in, and has a moment seemingly taken from his childhood.
Brought to you by the letters W, T, and F!
Somehow, after a tussle with an Oscar the Grouch-analog and a gamma bomb explosion, Banner seems to have had an epiphany. Qnax was not as lucky, realizing the elders of his people used him as a pawn in their quest for power. The Watcher then breaks up the planet that he made, since another alien race was attacking it, and returns everyone to where they belong: Qnax to try and bring justice to his people, and Bruce to get the final answers on earth.

Back on earth, the Abomination explains to Ross how he killed Betty by substituting his blood for her, as Emil Blonsky, he had been a pretty good spy, but how the hell a huge, ugly green monster was able to mess with her blood supply without being noticed, I have no idea. He also explains he treated the blood with "undetectable, albeit lethal chemicals," and while Betty's death was regrettable, they had to feel the pain he did over losing his wife Nadia. (Interestingly, Nadia wasn't dead, and eventually Bruce slept with her; hopefully not just for revenge...)

The Hulk arrives in time to start pounding on Abomination, but Ross stops them, and the army surrounds them. Denied his victory, the Abomination leaps away; and Ross grudgingly lets Banner off the hook...if Banner won't let himself off.
I do like Bruce's spacesuit, with the little beacons on the shoulders.
Banner gives Ross the chance to kill him, but Ross declines since Betty loved him too. In the end, Banner is back on the road, with "absolutely no plans," but feeling like his life was "a sphere of chaos" and not wanting anyone too close to him. And Ross visits the cryogenically frozen body of Betty, to take his share of responsibility as well; although Betty knew about the danger of her life with Banner as well, and stayed to the end.

While I did like this issue, it's nowhere near the level of Peter David's last issue, but Casey didn't have the same history with the characters and may not have been given enough time to prep, either: I get the feeling the space adventure with Qnox might've been planned as one issue, with the Abomination/Ross/Hulk confrontation another storyline. A month later, the new Hulk #1 went in the direction Marvel had tried to steer David, more "Hulk Smash" than the book had been in years. I think lower-tier Hulk baddie Tyrannus was responsible for the Hulk's backslide, but I don't recall. Casey's Hulk I remember though.
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Shouldn't the new issue of Blackest Night come out on the winter solstice? Well, I don't schedule the damn things...

Use your willpower to enlarge! Or click them. Not my job to tell you what to do...
Black Hand was one of the first DC Infinite Heroes figures on the shelves, and well before Blackest Night started building up a head of steam; so I believe he was a bit of a pegwarmer. I got mine on the cheap from Big Bad Toy Store, and so could you, if you had a hankerin' to. Black Hand may also be found in some multipacks, and I think you could get a John Stewart DCIH in a six-pack: the one above is from the Justice League cartoon and a Subway kids' meal.

Of course, Blackest Night #6 is about the only game in town today, as far as new comics go. I've read a couple issues, and while I'm not hating it; I'm not pounding down the doors (or hitting the torrent sites...) for it, either. I do hope the rumors and guesswork about the conclusion--Hal Jordan unifies the various emotional spectrums into some kind of White Lantern, which is a really unfortunate name, and defeats Nekron, Black Hand, and/or Death itself with the shining power of his awesomeness--are wrong, since they sound kind of predictable and dumb.

I'd much prefer Hal fight the good fight, with every ounce of his will and determination, but only as a delaying action or diversion. Hal outsmarts them, putting the big bad in position for, I don't know, Sinestro or Larfleeze or Mera to deliver the big finish. (I do like the bigger roles Mera and the Atom have had so far.) But, as hinted in the strip, this series has been pretty straightforward in its Hal-worship, so we'll see.

I'm also especially glad that I recently got my Manhunter (Goodwin/Simonson version) and Creeper figures from DC Direct, since they appear to be going into a Blackest Night frenzy. Well, it's no worse than the Marvel Zombie figures of a year or two back, I guess; so if it sells more power to them. But unless some get clearanced down the line, I doubt I'll end up with any. Or many. I'm just being selfish, since more Blackest Night waves may mean less of other figures; but between DC Direct and DC Universe Classics, I have most of my DC character wishlist, and some I hadn't realized I had wanted. I'll have to give some thought to who I still want to see in plastic, if DCUC makes it to wave 42 or so...

We will have another "The End" post later this morning: a green one, but not GL.
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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"The End" Week: Daredevil #380

I'm writing these well ahead of time, and may change the order before I post 'em, but this is my favorite of these so far: Daredevil #380, "Just One Good Story" Written by D.G. Chichester, pencils by Lee Weeks, and inks by Robert Campanella; dedicated to Archie Goodwin, "for being ever generous in sharing more than a few good stories of his own."

Kevin Smith, Joe Quesada, and Jimmy Palmiotti would relaunch Daredevil with a number one next month; but Chichester and Weeks had both worked on the book before, and it's nice that a crew with some history got to close it out. It was labeled "a tale from Daredevil's past," so they didn't have to worry about continuity, or setting up the next issue. I'm not positive about this, but I think #380 may have been the last done-in-one for, I dunno, the next fifty issues of Daredevil.

A go-between, middlewoman, approaches the Kingpin about creating a terrorist scapegoat, in order to work up support for a Middle-Eastern conflict. With longtime Daredevil foes Bullseye, Bushwacker, and a Hand Ninja (just one? Don't worry, the conservation of ninjutsu is not in effect...) Kingpin frames a Middle Eastern man as a terrorist, while bringing in a huge shipment of weapons. It's up to Matt Murdock to get the scapegoat off the hook in court, while stopping the shipment at Daredevil.

Pretty straight-forward, but the issue is told non-sequentially, and is interspersed with multiple perspectives on Daredevil, as the story is told, retold, and muddled by mobsters, bikers, thugs, and cops. Everyone seems to know the players and that the boat with the guns blew up, but the how is Rashomon-style fuzzy. Amusingly, the press doesn't seem to get the story: in a scene where Ben Urich types diligently on the piece, everyone around him discusses how to leverage the story into landing a better job. Which admittedly is a fair cop for newspaper reporters, yes.

What's sad about this issue is how much more I enjoyed it, than most every issue of Daredevil since. That's not to say there haven't been good issues, but Kevin Smith's reveal of Mysterio as the big bad was awesome at first, then slowly you realize it doesn't make a lick of sense; and all I remember of Bendis' run is grim sameness and the same grimness--I may have to try it again some other time, when I can sit down and read it all at once. And neither Smith nor Bendis seemed particularly interested in the single issue; each comic is just a chapter in a trade coming down the road, which is fine...but I bought them as singles, and they should've stood at least a little as same. Or, maybe it was just nice to see Daredevil win more than a Pyrrhic victory, for a change...
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Monday, December 28, 2009

"The End" Week: Catwoman #82

I have a fair run of Catwoman, which I got from the quarter bins: even though I liked it, I wasn't buying it month to month, and then it was cancelled with issue #82. Yes, I'm part of the problem. And I know DC has since solicited #83 since, for some reason, but we'll go with this one. "Final Jeopardy" Written by Will Pfeifer, pencils by David Lopez, inks by Alvaro Lopez.

Although Batman doesn't seem to be in a playful mood, Catwoman is, stealing his utility belt, playing with the Batmobile alarm, checking his phone log. Not wanting to talk, Selina uses Bats' smoke pellets and takes off, over the roofs of Gotham's East End. She smashes through some hapless gamers' apartment, noting as Batman comes smashing after her that Bruce will doubtless pay for the damages later. She does catch his face switching from Bruce to Batman, and it's running time.

Cornered, Bats does go back to Bruce mode, concerned for Selina; but she remembers "the Batman she met on Planet Crazy," presumably during the Salvation Run crossover. Between that, and feeling like she's being scolded by Bats, Selina's had enough.

Selina fights Batman, not really knowing why, and uses all of the utility belt capsules: "Smoke, tear gas, deoxygenating compounds...something called 'regurgitants.'" Batman walks through them all without as much a sniffle. Caught, Selina kisses Bats, but doesn't seem sure why she does that either. She asks if he ever feels closer to him than after the chase, after the fight; and Bats doesn't have a good answer. Selina says she wouldn't do this, if she still had her daughter Helena--from after One Year Later, Selina had recently given her for adoption to keep her safe.

Batman isn't sure about that.
Selina is forced to admit he's right: if she had really wanted to be with her daughter, she would be. She could've left Gotham and walked away, but she didn't: she's Catwoman.

Batman understands. She gives Bats back his belt, but then proceeds to steal the Batmobile, having stolen the batteries from Batman's remote.

It's a fun issue, and Pfiefer makes the most of a bad situation: I don't think readers really wanted the adventures of Cat-mommy, and likewise no one wants Selina to quit being Catwoman. Eventually, someone else would've got rid of Helena, and adoption was probably the least worst way. But...and this is irrational, and also not Pfiefer's fault, but it seems like a dick move for Selina to have to own up to being all right without her daughter, when it seems like a purely editorial decision. The tables had to be cleared so the next writer could make Selina a cat-worshipping nutso, or a pathological thief, or a prostitute, or a superhero. Selina is forced to admit she can't change, when she never had a chance or a choice.

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

"The End" Week: Fantastic Four #416

No! Hobbes! Damn you, Onslaught!

This one isn't my favorite: I was predisposed to not like Tom DeFalco's stint as writer on Fantastic Four since he took over from Walt Simonson. Even with Paul Ryan on art (I liked him on D.P.7 and Quasar) I didn't care for the issues I read, which included the Invisible Woman's worst costume ever, Alicia Masters as a Skrull, and the surprisingly long alleged deaths of Reed Richards and Dr. Doom. So, at the time, I don't think I had a big problem with the notion of Jim Lee relaunching Fantastic Four #1 in Heroes Reborn. (Even though my memories of Heroes Reborn are vague, at best; I don't think Lee's FF was memorable, or terrible, or memorably terrible.)

DeFalco does get the chance to go out with a bang, with Carlos Pacheco on pencils, in the middle of the Onslaught crossover. The FF, various hangers-on like Ant-Man and replacement Doom Kristoff, and most of the Avengers and X-Men; have gotten their collective ass kicked sideways by Onslaught, who has kidnapped Franklin Richards for good measure. As Franklin tries to use his powers to project images of himself to show them that he's ok; Onslaught twists it into an assault, and psychic copies of the FF's villains begin appearing at Four Freedoms Plaza.
'Hey, Namor: next time, wait until you see a body, before you try to plow my wife, eh?'
Luckily for the Four, their friends have started to show up during the crisis; so Pacheco gets to draw everyone from Alicia Masters and the Puppet Master to the Inhumans to Namor to the man, Doctor Doom. In the end, Reed creates a machine to block the psionic attack, but has to cannibalize the alien machine Ben was using to turn back to human form. True, it's with Ben's blessing, but as usual Ben is stuck a Thing once more. At least DeFalco gets to do that much; usually shafting Ben is the next writer's job.
OK, I like this panel.
In the end, with that victory, the Fantastic Four begin to rally and ready to face Onslaught. The art carries this one quite a ways, although Pacheco is on occasion forced to draw some characters in their unfortunate 90's looks. I'm not going to scan it, but I keep forgetting that Hawkeye's had some costumes that make that Ronin outfit a lot more understandable.

Scans from Fantastic Four #416, "Unfinished Business" Written by Tom DeFalco, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Bob Wiacek.
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Saturday, December 26, 2009

"The End" Week: The Intimates #12

Traditionally, the last week of the year is pretty slack in both new comics releases and the comics blogosphere-thing, but not here at Random-Happenstance! ("The Blog that doesn't care if you're there...") All this week, we'll be looking at last issues of various series, then on the first we'll have the Fourth Annual Year in Toys! Now, some books we're going to look at were Marvel-cancelled, as in cancelled then restarted with a new first issue (in some cases, almost immediately) but we'll start out with a book that was cancelled and stayed cancelled: the Intimates #12, written by Joe Casey, art by Ale Garza and Carlos D'anda.

Casey, Jim Lee, and Giuseppe Camuncoli created the Intimates, and for some reason, I thought Lee did some random panels for this issue. Specifically, the Boss Tempo panels, the comic-within-a-comic that Punch is lamenting the cancellation of. (Lee definitely did on earlier issues.)
There's another panel that likewise references the Dark Knight Returns.
Ostensibly, the Intimates is about young potential superheroes attending a mysterious school called the Seminary; but then again it's really not. I've read most of the series (from the quarter box...) and off the top of my head, am not really sure on the kids' powers. But that wasn't important. Likewise, the Seminary's conspiracy (involving mind-control and bad school food) doesn't really matter either. The book was more about teenage life, fitting in, not fitting in, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of your life, pretending to know what you're doing when you're absolutely clueless, and screwing up a lot.

The Intimates is a poster child for comics' noble failures, or maybe for books doomed from the start: even Jim Lee's name and involvement couldn't keep it going for over a year. Which isn't that surprising: the state of the direct market in late 2005 wasn't that unlike now. If Jim Lee said tomorrow that he had a full year of WildC.A.T.s or Gen13 ready to print, figure there'd be the usual hype for the first issue, then spiralling sales. If that. But if Lee said he was going to draw the next twelve issues of Batman, sometime between now and 2016, the crowd would go wild. The comics reading fanbase, or at least the direct market, just doesn't seem to want anything new.

And I'm probably as guilty of that as anyone, but I'd at least pick it up out of the quarter boxes.

Although the Intimates was seemingly set in the Wildstorm Universe, if there is such a thing, they haven't appeared since: on the info scroll on the second-to-last page, the kids are "Teleported or disentegrated? U-decide!" Maybe someday they'll be back, but I wouldn't bet the farm. There's a bigger write-up of the book at CBR's Comics You Should Own, and as they advise, you should be able to dig it out of the quarter bin easily enough.
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He seems to have the holiday spirit, there...
...has had enough of Christmas for this year.
Suck on that, Fox News!
Happy Boxing Day! Hope your holiday clean-up goes as easily as Batman's there, from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #4, "Shaman, part four" Written by Dennis O'Neal, pencils by Edward Hannigan, inks by John Beatty.
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Friday, December 25, 2009

"How Deadpool Saved Assisted Didn't Wreck Had Christmas:"

As usual, click to unwrap, er, enlarge. Not sure of the setup? The first strip's here.

I think I'm going to run this one every Christmas, until it's a beloved holiday classic. Starting tomorrow: "The End" Week!
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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Seriously offending his three, four fans...

Between work, family, Christmas shopping; blah, blah, blah, I am out this week. Next week? Already done. This week? Writing it off. Except for this, I guess.

Not that things are going that badly, despite my rising levels of aggravation and annoyance: I do have my Christmas shopping done, except for my dad. I don't think he reads this, so I can say I'm probably going to get him some more Bond films; but I have to go dig around, since in past years I've already hit most of the high notes. Can't just give him Goldfinger again, now can I? Heck, I don't think I can give him Goldeneye again. Think I'm into the Timothy Dalton movies, but I did like those...

Anyway, having my shopping "done" just means I'll probably find more stuff for the kids or the nephews. Or myself. The other day, I finally saw DCUC Wave, um, 8? 9? The one that allegedly has Green Arrow and Black Canary...(Thanks to, it's 9) Part of it, anyway: Black Adam, Deadshot, Guardian. All of whom are nice enough, but I don't have a huge attachment to, so I left them on the shelf for the time being.

In particular, I didn't feel that warm fuzzy feeling for Guardian. Later, I thought about it for a moment, and could not definitely think of any comic I had ever read with Guardian in it. (DC's Guardian, anyway; I know I've read the occasional issue of Alpha Flight.) Off the top of my head, I'm positive I have the Secret Origins issue with him, and maybe some Steve Rude-drawn thing, the occasional appearance in the Superman or Superboy books. I'm pretty sure his real name was Jim Harper, his sidekicks were the Newsboy Legion (there's a name destined to age well...maybe the Twitter Tots or something) and he has been cloned at least once. Pfft. Big deal.

The next afternoon...I have to have Guardian. At least three jokes for him came up overnight, some of which might even be funny. For some reason, I imagine Guardian the same way I picture the WildC.A.T.s Spartan: heroic, steadfast, noble...and completely disposable. Every crossover opens with Guardian's brutal death, and closes with the triumphant debut of the new cloned Guardian. Who's exactly the same. Which may be a more scathing rebuttal of crossovers than I had intended. (Blackest Night could've featured several dozen Guardians...)And thanks to bad headmeat wiring, whenever Guardian dies/respawns, I would hear sound effects from the arcade Mario Brothers game...

And it didn't occur to me until some time later...I need him because the name of the company I work for? Guardian. Duhr. Look, when I leave work, I leave work.
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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Who else would have their head wrapped in bandages?

The Invisible Man, Negative Man, early Dr. Doom, any number of aged actors or actresses after another face lift...

This strip has been pushed back a couple of times: I bought Cap there in August. I've mentioned before, I bought a spare (and dirt cheap) DC Infinite Heroes Hush, because I had hoped to put his head on a G.I. Joe for a quick and easy Unknown Soldier, but Hush's head is far to small for that to work. At least this figure is of Hush's best look: in some later appearances, he was drawn with loose strands of bandages hanging off in weird places. For some reason, he may have been shirtless with the trenchcoat, as well. I may have to try and find a scan, it wasn't great.

For at least two years, I've been meaning to do an Unknown Soldier week, and look at the last issue of his original series (with, as mentioned in the strip, Hitler's death) and his two limited series: one with a very 80's Iran-Contra feel from Jim Owlsey (Priest) and the Vertigo series from Garth Ennis. Still haven't done it, though, and I'm not organized enough to schedule something like that for, I don't know, Veteran's Day or Memorial Day or anything.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Have some links! They're almost like content!

Presently, I'm looking down the barrel of; or perhaps by now square hip-deep in, what is going to be a long, drawn-out, and possibly 24-style day. Hopefully without torture, but no promises. So, of course today is also the first real snow of the year...grr.

So, let's have some links! The Comic Book Shop had another one of their great progressive sales on Saturday; which I sadly wasn't able to fully enjoy, since the Youngest threw up in the store. (He warned me that he was "Sick," but I thought he was just sick of waiting for me...) Apologies to them, their customers, and their cleaners...

Still, I did get out with at least one great book, for cheaper than dirt: a copy of the Jonah Hex Spectacular Fall 1978. (Oddly, the very night before I bought that, I had a dream that I was Bat Lash. Sure, I looked sharp, but then I had to kill fifty men in a shootout, using nothing but little Derringers, guns the size of my toenail clippers. Mind you, I could conceivably kill someone with those, and it would be unpleasant for all involved, but we're getting off-topic.) Anyway, Dwayne at Matching Dragoons already did a helluva write-up on that ish and the unfortunate demise of Jonah Hex, so check that out. (I maintain, if you saw his most recent appearance on the Brave and the Bold cartoon, I was hoping Hex's corpse would end up in the Batcave...)

In the meantime, have you donated to Toys for Tots this year yet? I won a ton of great stuff last year from Paul at Toy Bender, and this year they're doing the same at Poe Ghostal's Points of Articulation! Check the link and you might even be able to win a 6" Unmasked Dark Knight Batman! I haven't entered yet (and should recuse myself for having won last year...) since I was hoping the Comic Book Shop would have the 501st Legion dressed as Star Wars characters, like they did last year, but they are closing that location. Which means there's a sale there, if you're in the Spokane Valley area, which is unfortunate in and of itself...

Anyway. New strip tomorrow, and wish me luck for today!
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Monday, December 14, 2009

Quite probably my favorite thought balloon ever:

Admittedly, this would get me to watch more sports-talk shows...
Called out as a criminal and pirate on live TV, Ron realizes things are going to get worse before they get better, in Evan Dorkin's Pirate Corp$! #1. I feel the same way, since this week may be a little sparse, but we definitely have a new strip up on Wednesday. See you then, if not sooner.
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Why is Batman rescuing a sex doll?

I'm not the only one seeing that, right?
From Marvel's Conspiracy to one from DC, from Legends of the Dark Knight #86, "Conspiracy, part one" Written by Doug Moench, pencils by J.H. Williams, inks by Mick Gray. That hand gesture doesn't help matters, either...

Yet another batch fished from the quarter boxes, this one is not my favorite LotDK arc, since I think Moench did a better version of this story (involving bizarre cults and sacrifices, mind-control, bikers, and actors) on Moon Knight, and Williams hadn't yet blossomed into a star. I don't know if he's left the Batwoman feature in Detective Comics yet, but DC had better put some effort into finding his replacement, 'cause he's going to be a tough act to follow there.
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

"Wreckwing, part three"

...and all's well that ends well, or at least with a limb reattached and third-degree burns, anyway.

If my dubious schedule is to be believed, I think Nightcrawler and Falcon are out for the next month or so: Sam and Kurt, and possibly an old favorite, will be back next year. Next Wednesday, we've got maybe my nineteenth-favorite Batman villain; probably followed by a Hellboy strip. And probably after that: a quick look at Blackest Night, which I admit I'm barely reading. (I got two issues from the discount box last month, but then I got a Black Hand figure...)

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

I'd be more surprised to find someone who wasn't part of the Conspiracy, at this point.

This was a two-page spread, afraid I lost a chunk of it in the scanner. Conspiracy from 1998 was a two-issue limited from Marvel, written by Dan Abnett, with painted art by Igor Kordey. It's very much like a summer blockbuster like say, National Treasure or um, Conspiracy Theory; but using all the trappings of the Marvel Universe like S.H.I.E.L.D. flying cars, Thanos' ship Sanctuary, and z-rate Clone Saga villain Spidercide. Oh, and maybe, just maybe, the unrevealed secret origins of the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-Man, and more.

I thought Gormuu and the other giant Atlas monsters were almost common knowledge in the Marvel universe, but not widely spoken of.
After the aforementioned Spidercide destroys a goodly chunk of the Daily Bugle, muckraking reporter Mark Ewing discovers a hidden file. The file was from missing reporter Cliff Garner, who had been investigating a conspiracy he called Control, that involved key men like Bruce Banner, General 'Thunderbolt' Ross, and Henry Pym. Intrigued, Ewing begins following-up but comes up dry, until a mysterious figure gives him more. The identity of the mystery man is never known, although he hints he could be Loki or Mephisto or a disgruntled employee, and he was apparently the last person at Marvel that was allowed to smoke. Which might make him Wolverine...hmm.

In short order, Ewing's apartment and girlfriend are blown up, and Ewing goes on the run. Ewing is then captured and taken to Arizona by Garner...who then turns out to be a Life Model Decoy, an android; and Ewing is left with former General Edward Harrison, formerly of Control. After S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to capture them, Harrison explains the sinister secret of Control, which had it's fingers in the creation of the Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Spider-Man, Project: Wideawake (the government's mutant program, and still a remarkably sinister-sounding name), and many more.

I love Dum-Dum. The hat just makes me feel safe. Or, Harrison may be a psychotic. Abnett does use a much-used Marvel theme of having Dum Dum Dugan show up for the (possible) denouement: using Dum Dum is shorthand for S.H.I.E.L.D. being the good guys; whereas if Nick shows up, things could be ethically grayer. (Plus Dum Dum is more good-natured; if Fury had been the lead in Marvel's Godzilla, Nick'd be wearing a pair of giant lizardskin boots.)

The ending of the book is slightly ambiguous, but Ewing very likely ends up in the end zone of Giants Stadium or part of a bridge or something. God, the mortality rate of Daily Bugle reporters is nothing to sneeze at. There's Ben Urich, you could count Peter Parker; and it's like everyone else's nameplate is a Post-It.

Conspiracy isn't a bad little series, although Ewing is kinda led by the nose from clue to plot point; and it raises more questions than it even tries to answer. On the plus side, the flying car (Smart Stan!) is a great sequence, and that probably was the coolest use of Spidercide in anything, ever. Heck, he even looks action figure worthy there, for a moment.
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Thursday, December 03, 2009

"Project: Other"

At my work this week, and probably for the next four months, I'm on "Project: Other." Which sounds a lot cooler than it actually is, if you were also hoping it would be like Project: Mayhem. All it means is that instead of working with my usual group, I'm shoring up the numbers on another product line. (Is that the correct use of "shoring"? I guess it would take like three seconds to look brace or to prop, yeah, that's right. Thought there was an a in there somewhere.)

The upside is, there is overtime available, and since this isn't really my product, I'm more-or-less off the hook as far as errors go. (I usually have a vague idea what I'm doing, but I won't be chastised for honest mistakes.) The downside? A lot less free time. Usually, I write my homemade strips at work, then every other weekend I try to finish at least two weeks' worth.

Luckily, I had thought my internet was going to be down, so I've scheduled some posts for most of the rest of this year. Which is a little creepy for me, to think that if something happens to me, Random Happenstance will keep trucking along for a while. But we've got the usual homemade strips on Wednesdays and a special week set for after Christmas. Then we'll have the Year in Toys on January 1, and I think that's the fourth annual.

And just 'cause it'll cheer me up later, here's the Youngest on Halloween:
It might not cheer me up that I didn't turn the picture...

We're not going anywhere, we're just busy. And hating it. Back soon!
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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

"Wreckwing, part two"

Chiasaur11 probably wasn't the only one to guess this, but Lockheed would wipe the floor with Redwing; easily cementing his position as team Wolverine-type in the Pet Avengers. (Haven't read that yet, actually, but I'm falling behind on a lot of things.)

Both Lockheed and Redwing would get representation in the Marvel Legends line; Redwing of course with Falcon, and Lockheed with Kitty Pryde. That particular Lockheed sits on the tail of my Nightcrawler figure on my desk at work, a shout-out to the old Dave Cockrum Nightcrawler limited series, and is also probably a bit more in scale than the one I used here. Like the Redwing from the old Avengers animated line, this Lockheed is from a New Mutants wave and came with Illyana Rasputin/Magik. I think both of them had missile-firing action, and that I've lost both their missiles. (And hopefully you can't tell, but one of poor Lockheed's wings is broken and held on with putty in this strip.)
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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Someone should mention, only one Captain America-analog per team...

Hellboy and the Torch of Liberty (and his sidekick, Radio Girl) make a cameo in John Byrne's Danger Unlimited #4, in a flashback to July 15, 1964; the first public appearance of the Danger, Unlimited team. I don't know if the other three members of the Sentinels of Freedom were named, but the blue-masked Commie-Smasher has a great chest emblem.

On recently re-reading the series, I think I liked the flashbacks more than the portions of the story set in the future. The flashbacks have a Fantastic Four meets Jonny Quest feel. The Jimmy Olsen looking kid is Calvin Carson, a.k.a. Thermal, a Human Torch analog with heat and cold powers. Placed in stasis during a final battle in DH's headquarters in 1985, Thermal wakes up in the year 2060, with his memory and powers distorted, and earth controlled by the alien Xlerii.
Unstable molecules or no, that underwear can not be anywhere good...
The rest of the series alternates between Carson trying to piece together his memory, while a new Danger Unlimited forms around him, like Belabet above. (Vile speculation: I suspected Carson's memory problems weren't because of his time in stasis, they were because he was a cloned copy of the original Thermal.)

Of course, Hellboy's own comic would take him far and away from more typical superhero team books, but it is interesting to think of what might have been. I don't know if it's intentional, but Hellboy there reminds me of a Dick Sprang Batman, more friendly and cheerful than most versions that we're used to.

The Torch of Liberty is the backup feature in this series, and as I recollected, his origin was a bit more violent than Cap's. The Torch himself can be more violent as well, since there's a lot more dead Nazis than usual there. Not that that's a bad thing.
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