Thursday, September 30, 2010

I've had a vague notion about doing a Spectre strip, but haven't been able to get it to come together for me, possibly because to be doing anything cool I'd need the Spectre to be giant-sized, and possibly manhandling a planet or something. Or, as it the page above, swallowing a good half dozen Japanese scientists during World War II.

The scientists, perhaps unwisely, had a genetic experimentation base in ostensibly neutral territory; which means the Spectre would be able to get them: during the war, I believe the spell of the Spear of Destiny kept the Spectre and similar heroes from simply ending the war in twenty minutes. But the rest of the Justice Society is a little disturbed by what they witness, and Starman is volunteered by the others to talk to him.

Being both the ghost of a murdered cop and an angel of God's vengeance, the Spectre probably isn't very relatable the best of times, but the war is making him even more grim than usual. He's seriously considering whether the biblical flood perhaps ended too soon, and maybe mankind should be wiped out for something else to inherit the earth.

Starman tries to justify humanity's existence, and the Spectre takes him out to Arizona, a place of happy childhood memories...that now has an internment camp on it. Not exactly helping his case there, but Starman is finally able to show the Spectre that hope survives, even there.

From "P.O.V. A Fable" Writen by Joe Kelly, pencils by Duncan Rouleau, inks by Aaron Sowd. Not a bad little story from All Star Comics 80-Page Giant #1 and probably the last thing I've read with the Spectre. I kind of want to re-read the Kelley Jones Batman story with Spectre and the Joker; even though I remember it as being kind of dumb...

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"They Saved Doom's Face, conclusion!"

I have Marvel Legends, or Fantastic Four movie figures, that I could've used for this strip; except I just got the Marvel Universe versions, and the heads pop off those if you so much as look sternly at them. Doom's new face? It's from an A-Team Lynch figure, and may or may not resemble the actor that played him, Patrick Wilson, who played Nite Owl in Watchmen. Funny how those things loop around sometimes...

I read something, years ago, either a very early blogpost or fairly decent fan-fiction, that made a pretty convincing argument that Dr. Doom would probably be impotent. Doom doubtless wears that armor all the time (we've seen him in bed with it here before!) and touches nothing, and in turn is touched by nothing. Of course, I do recall Doom sleeping with Morgana le Fey sometime in Bendis' Dark Avengers, so maybe that theory's been blown out of the water.

Anyway, the idea for this one may have come from various Two-Face stories where he gets his face fixed...and then in short order wrecks it again, usually of his own free will, or untreated psychosis. In the earliest versions of that plot, sometimes it seems like Batman thinks that's all he would have to do: fix Harvey's face, and they'd be friends again and everything would be back like it was. The scars, of course, go deeper than that; and even if a writer came up with the perfect fix-Harvey's-face story, the end of Two-Face; some later writer would bring him back.

Hell, Doom can't even change his armor, so they're never going to change his face. I liked Walt Simonson and Mike Wieringo's redesigns, but Doom always defaults back to his usual green cloak and grey armor. Well, that's probably all right...
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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Citizen Kang, part four (will make you miss Atlantis Attacks. Or Bloodlines.)

I didn't cut Deathhunt 9000's head off in the scan there.
Last time, after your typical Marvel misunderstanding fight, the combined Fantastic Four and Avengers force faced Kang's Anachronauts; warriors Kang gathered from throughout the timestream. Yeah, they're not great. Among others, there's a Bloodstone, a Black Knight, and a Red Wolf from the past; but none are the ones we've seen before, which begs the question, why?

Since the Anachronauts were ordered to capture the heroes, they opt to throw the fight and hopefully be taken to the still-missing Vision, Captain America, and Thor. The heroes are thrown into a hyper-cube, and Kang drops fifteen hundred words of hard exposition. Then Kang adds the missing heroes to the cube, which is also shrinking six inches per minute and will crush them all shortly. Oh, and Kang promises them three chances to stop him, between 1992 and December 31, 2000.

But, while Kang's been carrying on, the Temptress has snuck up on him, with weapons intended to stab through his force field, which she does. Sadly, she doesn't even get a panel of triumph, since the real Kang traps her in another field: the dead one was yet another of Kang's crosstime counterpart/lieutenants, and one that definitely wasn't paid enough for that. Kang explains this whole endeavor has been less about messing with the heroes, than it was to lure out his female foe, who's killed a number of his men.

Kang uses his future weapons to "strip away all artifice," by which he means get to the Temptress's real identity: Ravonna. We've seen her before, but she's from early in Kang's history (that we know of): she was the queen of a city-state conquered by Kang, and thus subject to death. Kang wanted to spare her, since he already was smitten, but his men then turned on him, and Kang had to enlist the Avengers to help him. Kang's lieutenant took a shot at him, but Ravonna, her heart swayed at last, threw herself in the way and took the bullet, or ray blast or whatever. Dead, or at least mostly, Kang had her put into cryogenic freeze; and would later try to win back her life in a contest with the Grandmaster.

Now, Kang would win that one, but only mostly: the Grandmaster would only give Kang one power, either life for Ravonna or death for the Avengers. After three seconds thought, Kang picks death, reasoning that he'll figure out how to save Ravonna himself later. Yeah, 'cause curing death is gonna be a snap compared to, I don't know, killing the Avengers in their sleep or childhood or something. Kang even fails there, since Grandmaster only gives him power of death over the Avengers, and the Black Knight hadn't joined yet.

What Kang, and we readers, didn't know: cheesed over his loss (even though he managed to completely dick Kang over) the Grandmaster went back later, swiped Ravonna's body and left a copy in her place, and revived her. Pissed over being left for dead, she set out for revenge over Kang's betrayal. And Kang finds that hot. He actually had gone back in time, more than once, and taken other versions of Ravonna as his consort...until they bored him, since they were all more "compliant," and not "his" Ravonna.

Even with the cube still shrinking, Reed's watching this rather intently...guy digs his soaps. Kang offers Ravonna a chance to fight him, she says she'll do him one better and kill him. Kang is digging this. Ravonna armors up, calling herself Terminatrix now...seriously? With a straight face? All right...

Meanwhile, Sersi--the older, present day Sersi; the younger one Cap met in his annual isn't seen again--had disguised herself and taken the place of the Bloodstone-type, and frees the heroes to pummel down the Anachronauts; while the main event goes on. Ravonna calls Kang incompetent, that he should've killed the heroes while he had the chance. But Kang rebuts, that Ravonna still doesn't understand him: he could've killed them, and her, at any time, but he's not in it for slaughter. Kang's future was boring, and he didn't become a conqueror to be bored.

The Avengers and FF watch the fight, which is behind a forcefield. Thor offers to take them down, kind of wanting to be the hero of the game for once, but it goes sour. To save Ravonna, Kang throws himself in front of the hammer, and takes a brutal hit. (Did I say brutal? It looked more embarrassing than anything, like it just pitched Kang on his ass, but he hit his head when he fell.) Ravonna isn't impressed, she feels more cheated than anything. She takes Kang's corpse (or 'corpse,' the Black Knight points out they've seen Kang come back from more convincing deaths than that) and disappears.

And the heroes...pretty much just pack up and go home. Maybe you guys wanna do something about Kang's weird crosstime city, the point of which still escapes me? Nah, even Cap's like, later., Citizen Kang wasn't the best Marvel Annual crossover (although it beats the hell out of 1993's Superstars of Tomorrow Annuals) and wasn't the best Kang story either, although it beat the hell out of the Crossing.

It's funny, but these Annuals did make me look at Kang differently, since a lot of writers only go with his sense of honor, or a power-mad wannabe dictator, or as a ersatz Dr. Doom. (As in Secret Wars or Infinity War.) Kang could conquer earth in twenty minutes if he wanted to, he could go back in time and kill the Avengers as infants, but that's really not what he wants. Kang's really only in the conquering business for the challenge. He could really care less about the actual conquering, as long as the Avengers or whoever put up a good fight. At least, that was Kang, that day.
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Monday, September 27, 2010

Ah, I love it when the quarter bins cough up a book I had forgotten I needed. In this case, Quality Comics Judge Dredd #2. These would be reprints of stories that originally appeared in 2000 AD, but I'm almost positive I read the first half of this issue's tale, in another reprint...a later numbered issue of Dredd, from Quality...huh?

At any rate, it's a great opener: Dredd has gone down into the lawless undercity to find and neutralize the source of the radioactive element Cassidium, the cause of a race of savage werewolves. Hell, yes. I know "Cassidium" was named after the tech-judge who isolated the substance, which is probably the only perk of being a tech-judge; and the werewolves aren't the traditional silver-bullet types, but their bite does transmit werewolfism. (And hey, Bully: this issue's chock full of Arrooo!

"Cry of the Werewolf" Written by John Wagner, art by Steve Dillon. Fun to see a straight action story from Dredd, and it's nice to see early Dillon art.
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Friday, September 24, 2010

OK, this last week:

I don't think I had a single new comic this week; although that's not to say there weren't some books I'd conceivably read if they fell in my lap, even if I wouldn't pay $3.99 for 'em. Still, I got down to the Comic Book Shop since they opened some new Heroclix packs, and I wanted a Nightcrawler. Of course he's a chase, so he ran a bit more; and that costume isn't my favorite, but at least he didn't have the damn priest's collar. (I would've had to sharpie it out...) Plus, he comes with a disc of some kind! Yeah, I don't actually play Heroclix, so I couldn't tell you if he's a good piece or not; but all three of the Nightcrawler pieces for the game are on my desk at work. (Plus Man-Bat and Thor, for some reason.)

I mentioned the other stuff yesterday, but I also picked up Kevin J. Anderson's the Last Days of Krypton a bit ago. Um, at a dollar store, which isn't indicative of quality, but of some vagaries of publishing and over-printing. I'm only a quarter-way through it, and it's already a bit of a downer, since like the Titanic or the Alamo, you already know what's going to happen. That, and I keep waiting for Jor-El to slap Krypto into a rocket...actually, I wonder if Anderson's going to do a callback to Tomar-Re, the Green Lantern that tried to save Krypton. (Or was it Tomar-Tu?) Kinda doubt it, but Rann, Thanagar, and Oa have gotten shout-outs so far.

Oh, the Essential Tales of the Zombie? Not too shabby. There's some great art, primarily from Pablo Marcos, that I can't scan since I can't cram that thing into my scanner, so buy your own, why don't you? And for those of you who are tired of zombies, this is a singular Zombie, and while his origin is in voodoo, it's more about a man trying to find his soul, even though he didn't realize it was missing while he was alive.

Over at Chase Variant, there's been a couple pretty good writeups on the new G.I. Joe Pursuit of Cobra Duke and Spirit Iron-Knife figures, and a pretty convincing argument of a movie they strongly resemble characters from...tempting. And these figures come with the ever-popular metric assload of accessories, enough to make other lines seem like their sold in empty blister packs!

More nonsense, and lazy YouTube whatnot, after the break!

I had the misfortune of catching about ten seconds of Entertainment Tonight, where they were reporting (oh, that should be in quotes) on the outrage over Katy Perry's outfit on Sesame Street. (The Onion's AV Club has it for you, if you must.) Look, I'm not a fan of Katy Perry--I'm old, I only have the vaguest idea who she is--and I'm definitely not a fan of Elmo, but if you're a parent and this gets you worked up, then understand: I hate you, and you are exactly what's wrong with America, and read to your goddamn kids yourself. Maybe she should cover up, perhaps a burqa?

Sigh. Every so often, I think my sense of outrage is dead, or at least really sleepy, and yet here we are.

At any rate, I'm waiting for Fringe to start, so it's time to open some toys! Have a good weekend, and see you soon.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

In the office today, sorry!

Shoot, I actually have a meeting Thursday--that's not a bad thing, I just don't usually have them, and don't usually have to do any prep for them. So instead of blogging, or opening the new G.I. Joe Pursuit of Cobra Dusty and Recondo figures, or finishing reading the Essential Tales of the Zombie, I'm getting ready for that. Yeah...that's fun.

I also have to figure out some kind of snark over DC Comics closing down it's WildStorm imprint. While it sucks that there are probably going to be some staffers now out of a job, the major books from that label like the Authority, Gen13, and WildC.A.T.s have barely been shells of their former selves, and the sales have reflected that. I've seen some commentary that eventually, the big characters from WildStorm would be folded into the DC Universe proper, because that's worked ever so well for the Fawcett characters, the Red Circle characters, the Milestone characters...look, it only really worked with the Charlton heroes, and that was if not luck, a window of opportunity unlikely to open again. Worse, I swear somewhere hinted that Geoff Johns would handle that project, because Geoff Johns makes everything better...feh.

Enough. I have to get ready, and find some clothes that don't look like I slept in them... Read more!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"They Saved Doom's Face, part three!"

What I was wondering as I did this one, was, is Reed Richards a medical doctor? As he mentions, he's been treating Ben for years; but I thought most of Reed's doctorates were in physics and rocket science and building big heavy machinery for the Thing to lug around.

And a tip of the hat to anyone who recognizes Doom's new face, but I'll let you know what figure that's from next time!

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Citizen Kang, part three (is terrible).

Rrr. Fantastic Four Annual #25 has the classic FF, it's got the Avengers, it's got Mark Gruenwald and Herb Trimpe, it's even got Reed Richard's time sled Rosebud II. (Or Rosebud III, II having been introduced and later destroyed in Walt Simonson's classic run.)

And yet it's just awful. There's at least four solid pages of recap, the first two as Dr. Druid and Nebula (or Temptress, as Druid calls her, since she's not the Nebula that said she was the daughter of Thanos) convince the FF to investigate Timely, WI. Then the Black Widow sends the Avengers to search Timely for the missing Vision, Captain America, and Thor; Natasha doesn't go presumably so there's someone left to go after the Avengers when they don't come back. (That and the Avengers here are Sersi, Crystal, Hercules, and Black Knight; all of whom are far more likable in other stories than they were together.) Hey, maybe the Avengers will bust out their world famous battlecry!
Yeah, Cap shut Dane down on using 'Avengers Assemble' right quick.
No...maybe they won't. Both teams go to Timely, investigate a hologram-camouflaged entrance in the mysterious factory, and end up in a future New York complete with Punisher-themed street gangs. Realizing the Avengers could be used as a distraction, Temptress lets herself and Druid be seen, and Black Knight recognizes them from balling up his last stint on the team. And we get six pages of FF/Avengers combat. Notably, Crystal fights her old boyfriend Johnny, and totally has his number: she knows all his tricks, and Johnny is a bit of a whiner about how she left him for Pietro, about a bazillion years ago.
Um, I don't need to about the Thing, Hercules, and pole in the same panel...
I realized a moment ago, I don't think Kang appeared in the Thor Annual at all, and his face only shows up the last page of this one: Kang's new crew, the Anachronauts, show up to round up the heroes. But we'll give them the once over next week, in Avengers Annual #21!

Scans from Fantastic Four Annual #25, "Twice Upon a Time" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Herb Trimpe, inks by Brad Vancata. There's a halfway decent Thing backup from Tom DeFalco and Kirk Jarvinen; more not-great art from Herb Trimpe on a Mantis vs. Moondragon story; and then part three of the history of Kang. Hoo, boy. Did you know Kang lost his original body, after a failed attempt to change the course of World War II using the Hulk? Yeah...y'know, what I can't figure, since it's been threatened before, why Kang doesn't attack the Avengers thirty seconds after his last defeat? There may be a reason...that we'll see next week!

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Who watches the allegorical not-Watchmen?

Taking a bit of a day, since I've got a headache, but from Comics Alliance, we see Grant Morrison is working on "Pax Americana," which I guess is supposed to be a Watchmen-style political allegory, set in the present, and using the original Charlton heroes--Blue Beetle, Captain Atom, and the Question; instead of Nite Owl, Dr. Manhattan, and Rorschach. Interesting...but I feel like I've heard that before...oh, yeah:

I think Grant may be able to bring more to the table than that, but using the Charlton characters just seems arbitrary. Or, more likely, DC (and possibly Morrison himself) don't think a Morrison-written sci-fi political thriller would sell by itself, that it needs to have a Watchmen connection to move copies. And this is coming from someone who's liked more than a couple versions of the Charlton heroes.

Too early to tell, though, of course; and with Frank Quitely art I am positive it'll be worth reading.
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Thursday, September 16, 2010

...and the one where the Werewolf got molested. Sort of.

Sometimes I try to put these scans in context, and then sometimes we just throw them out there. This one's from Marvel's Shadows and Light #3, "Even the Beast Hates!" Written by Jim Starlin, art by Tom Grindberg.

In the bio before the story, Starlin as much as admits not being especially interested in the Werewolf by Night character; he basically wrote an Andrew Dachss story with the Werewolf in it. Well, OK...I had to look it up, since I thought Jack Russell grew up in Transylvania, a locale you don't immediately associate with child molestation. (Actually, Jack was born there, but apparently grew up in California.) I thought Starlin might be taking a bit too much of a liberty with the character, just to liven things up.

(Before I seem like I'm being too harsh on Starlin, among a good chunk of his other work like Dreadstar and Warlock, I did also like his novel Among Madmen.)

Anyway, although Jack and the Werewolf are almost separate entities, they work together after finding the body of a little boy in the woods. With the superior senses of the Werewolf, Jack is able to track the killer down easily, setting him up for a motel room encounter he could never have expected. The Werewolf plays with the killer like the proverbial cat-and-mouse, 'playing' with him instead of merely killing him outright, until the killer takes his only way out.

Grindberg does a great, old horror-style take on the art for this one. It's only a twelve-page story, but not bad; even if it kinda seems like Grindberg really wanted to draw some Werewolf and asked Starlin to grind out a story for him. I don't think Marvel ever had the success with it's black-and-white short story books that DC did (one word: Batman) but this is a damn sight better than the average Marvel Comics Presents short.

This issue also featured a slight, but fun, Keith Giffen Spider-Man story. What the heck, let's go out on a little of that:

This might be it for this week: I'm having a little computer trouble, and had the bright idea of swapping a possibly non-working drive with an old one; which woulda been sharp, if the connections had matched. (There's doubtless a way around that, but I've hit the wall of my knowledge.) Looks like I'll be making a trip to Best Buy or something after work...and if worse comes to worst, Tuesday's Citizen Kang and Wednesday's "They Saved Doom's Face!" are already set up.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"They Saved Doom's Face, part two!"

I was giving this entirely too much thought, but we'll discuss it next week!

Of course, getting Doom's mask off is probably a lot harder than you would think. I think it used to unlock with his royal signet ring, but Doom could have a more technological or even magical means of keeping it on his head. Most of his defenses are doubtless designed to take out anyone trying to unmask him: I suspected Doom may have something in place to blow up himself and his captors, but Doom wouldn't want to 'deprive' the world of Doom.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Citizen Kang, part two, featuring Thor!

Eric likes to test new material on the road.
Thor Annual #17 opens with Thor stuck in tenth-century France, but then backs up a minute: in last week's Captain America Annual, Cap went off to Timely, Wisconsin to find the Vision. Cap never made it back, so Black Widow asks Thor (the Eric Masterson version) to fly out and take a look. So, yeah, at the time the Avengers were being run like Camp Crystal Lake.

Thor finds the weirdly over-wholesome slice of Americana that is Timely, with its far-too-earnest citizenry, and Cap's quinjet. He then investigates the town's factory, trying to get a look at the manager's office, and Thor's lost in time in less than seven pages into this thing. Flying, Thor is able to cover more ground--and get good and lost faster--than Cap. Thor thinks he sees Gilgamesh at some point, but doesn't really care enough to follow up on it, and it very well could be just another overly muscled guy.
Ah, nothing to see here...
Flying towards the futuristic towers Cap had seen before, Thor flies over the Trojan War (Eric remembers that the real Thor had been there, but doesn't see him) before arriving in medieval times. Two armies are about to tear into each other, but instead attack Thor when he tries to get information. Thor breaks it up by bringing down a thunderstorm, but can't really get anywhere, since he can't speak medieval whatever. (I don't know if the original Thor ever had that problem...)
That question mark is shared by everyone reading this thing.
The fighting resumes, and Thor is about to bring down the lightning, when a blast from nowhere knocks him on his ass. It's Prester John, whom Thor recognizes as having once fought the Fantastic Four, and who fortunately for Thor speaks English. (Did he fight the whole FF, or just the Torch?) John had been a knight of King Richard's, wandering after the Crusades and finding Avalon. It was a scientific wonderland, but after the inhabitants died in a plague, John was going to use their "Seat of Survival" to live and on tell future generations about Avalon, when Kang shows up. At first thinking Kang was looking for a team-up, John quickly realizes Kang's just looking for a lackey, and fights him; Kang knocks him through a hole to the year 911 AD, some three hundred years prior to John's own time.

John plans on killing off the Vikings here--who history tells him and Thor would go on to become Normans and conquer England in 1066--and taking over the place. Thor tries to stop him from screwing up the timeline, but a lucky shot (in the face) throws him back and he hits his hammer on the ground twice, turning back into Eric.

And now we're up to this chapter's interlude with Dr. Druid and Nebula, who sadly has put on some armor for her attempt to take over Druid's mind. Druid's upped his game, though, and isn't having it; but Nebula is still able to talk him into looking into Kang's scheme. Oh, and there's some swiped dialog from The Maltese Falcon, which brings to mind one of my main rules for movies, possibly stolen from Siskel & Ebert: there's little I hate more than watching a movie where they're watching a better movie.

Meanwhile, in the tenth century, Eric wakes up tied to a post with the Vikings, as Prester John tells King Charles how it's going to be: Prester's taking over, and is going to turn the place into Avalon, which featured a giant fire salamander for some reason. Getting his bonds in the fire, Eric manages to get free and get his cane to turn back into Thor. Who then beats Prester John in two pages: Mjolnir triggers "another time maelstrom" in John's Evil Eye, launching him out of that era. Eric figures he'll end up whenever he's supposed too, but is more worried about damaging the timestream. He gets the enemies to set aside their differences, which they do by turning against him.

Thor ends up heading towards the futuristic city, but instead ends up in Ellis Island around the early 20th century. For a joke.
Cue sad trombone...
Ugh. Not great: Eric does seem to be having a little more fun with this than Thor would, but no one was clamoring for the return of Prester John. No one. He may be a Lee/Kirby creation, but so is Tomazooma, and I think Toma's actually got more appearances. From Thor Annual #17, "The Hammer, the Cross, and the Eye" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Geof Isherwood, inks by Fred Fredericks. I think I've seen Isherwood's name spelled Geoff more often, he did a stretch of Conan the Barbarian that I liked. Read more!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Evil will always win, because good is teh suck. Also, could I get another rum & coke?

Even though the issue opens with carolers singing "Silent Night," I've had "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" stuck in my head since reading Daredevil #266 again. I hate both carols, yeah.

Christmas issues (that apparently came out in April or May...) were apparently once a tradition for the book. Miller and Mazzucchelli did a right jolly old cover for #229, but Nocenti had Christmas issues for #241, #253, #266 here...and without having the issues in front of me, I'm almost positive there's at least another Christmas for DD in Nocenti's run. Sometime in the issues with Karnak and Gorgon, Number Nine gives out presents or something...

But this one is probably Daredevil at his lowest...maybe. I mean, half the point of writing Daredevil is to make his life utterly miserable, and Ann Nocenti was succeeding: tricked and seduced by Typhoid Mary, Matt had cheated on Karen Page, who leaves him, and for good measure Typhoid gets a batch of DD villains to beat the hell out of him, then drops him off a bridge. Matt is just about dead, manages to fight his way back to life after a vision of Stick, just in time for the X-Men crossover Inferno to dump a ton of demons on New York City. DD spends most of those issues wearing more bandages than costume.

And with that done, and Karen gone...guess it's time for a drink.

A question: has Matt had a beer in Daredevil recently, like in the last couple of years? He's obviously an adult, and you never see him have the kind of drinkin' fun that Tony Stark does in the movies; but it seems like Marvel wants the characters to be more kid-friendly now that no kids read them. If I'm wrong, and DD's been pounding shots in Shadowland, let me know.

This issue was from 1989. Kids could buy it; I must've been in like eighth grade. And it's crushing. It opens with a couple pages of (mostly) happy Christmas scenes, before going into a bar, packed with people with "no family, no friends, no place to spend Christmas?" Yeah, pretty much.

Daredevil isn't very chatty, but the barflies don't seem especially impressed or interested in him: it's pretty obvious he's human wreckage, just like them. The guy on the stool next to him tells an amusing story about leaving his wife, mostly because a game show told him to:

Afterwards, the guy gets up, presumably to take a leak, and someone takes his seat. Someone who appears differently to everyone who looks, but for DD is a strangely attractive woman.

As DD and the woman talk about evil, the rest of the bar continues on, including a fight between two brothers that escalates. The woman kisses DD, who is irresistible even covered in bandages, reeking of smoke, blood, and shame. But Daredevil completely misses a stabbing, that ordinarily he could've stopped with ease. He turns on the 'woman' after she tries to convince him to steal the unattended cash from the bar, and she reveals Mephisto. Who John Romita Jr. would draw the living hell out of, if you'll pardon the expression.

Even though he's already done a pretty solid job of showing DD how weak 'good' is, Mephisto proceeds to tell him all about it to boot, growing to giant-size to further illustrate his point. He dumps DD in the snow outside the bar (and next year, aside from the murder, everyone would just remember something weird happening) where a couple of the barflies offer to help DD to Christmas dinner. At the soup kitchen. And that's the happy ending for this one.

You don't realize it at the time, but this issue sets up a lot of later issues of Daredevil, including his trip to hell. Great, great issue. Daredevil #266, "A Beer with the Devil" Written by Ann Nocenti, pencils and co-plots by John Romita Jr, inks by Al Williamson.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Including a Conan thought balloon, that took me like two hours to set up...

Maybe not that long, but I did have to work on it, for this week's new Bastards of the Universe at Articulated Discussion!

Meanwhile, I'm trying to get back ahead, so I'll be (hopefully) working on more Bastards, while (hopefully) watching division rivals the Giants lose this morning...
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Friday, September 10, 2010

All sorts of things for Friday!

All after the break, since we're starting with a spoiler from Hellboy: the Storm #3, which you damn well should've bought by now, that I called over two years ago! Really! Maybe.

Seriously, there is no good reason for you to not be reading the Hellboy books now. Well, unless you're a filthy trade-waiter, I guess. Over at the Savage Critic, Tucker Stone reads a ton of comics and says, "(the) Hellboy series (is) back on the track of being the most exciting version of serialized comics that is currently available. (Fantastically enough, it’s only competition was the BPRD.)"

Spoiler coming: in Hellboy: the Storm #3, Hellboy is forced to make a deal with Russia's Baba Yaga:

...which leads to not even the biggest surprise (for me) in that issue. (HB's choice for Excalibur--the legendary sword, not my beloved X-team--just floored me.)

But what's this? From the August 11, 2008 post here:

Oh yeah. Safe to say...that was a blind pig finding an acorn, a lucky shot!

Anyway, what else? Right this second, I'm enjoying a pineapple/blueberry/banana/apple/something smoothie: I just got a blender again, for the first time in quite a while, and the novelty hasn't worn off yet. The Vikings/Saints game is on, but I'm only half-watching it. (In fact, I set my smoothie in front of the TV...) I'm a Cowboys fan, so I probably won't pay a lot of attention until Sunday. And The Onion's NFL Team-by-Team Guide entry for the Cowboys made me laugh, since they are incredibly frustrating to watch, and I like them. (Even though I often wonder if anything in Dallas, from the players to the stadium, really deliver the best return for the money.)

I might have to switch over to AMC, which has been running all the Dirty Harry movies. I was positive I had seen them all, and maybe I have...or maybe I've seen Dirty Harry and the Dead Pool like ten times a piece. There were scenes in Magnum Force that I thought were from another movie, and between the dog and the kids, I missed some crucial moments in that one and the Enforcer. By the way, whoever at AMC that had the bright idea of backing their Dirty Harry promos with Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough"? Genius.

For some reason, driving lately, I've been singing Radiohead's "Fake Plastic Trees." Except I have to sing it as if my jaw is wired shut. I have no idea why.
I can never decide if this is supposed to be uplifting, but I strongly suspect, no.

I try to avoid driving as much as possible, so I tend to put a CD in and leave it for a month or more at a time. Last month, and it may go back in, was Burning Airline's Mission: Control. Good stuff.

And then toys: I was just at the store getting some vegetable juice...which I hate, by the way. Well, maybe not hate, but I don't love it; it's a vague nod towards a healthier diet. Unfortunately, I don't love the taste, so I had the bright idea of pepping it up a bit with some South American hot sauce my folks got for me, and the burned spots in my internal organs still haven't healed up. Seriously, when I first tried that stuff, my eyes were streaming water, and all I could mumble with my burning tongue was, "Mom, Dad...why?"

Where was I? Ah, toys. The DCUC Wave 12 Spectre was on sale--the glow in the dark version. I'm not made of stone! And while I'm not a mint-on-card collector, the little skulls on the packaging are nice. Spectre's not a character I have any great affection for, but he looks sharp.

I'm trying to avoid three-and-three-quarter inch figures right now, but I saw the new, classic blue Iron Monger the other day; and the new G.I. Joe Dusty looks great. Will I stay strong? Well, maybe for a bit...

That's it for this week! Have a good weekend!
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Thursday, September 09, 2010

And then there was the time Clark Kent's head exploded on live TV.

And yet the FCC gets all bent out of shape about the occasional 'wardrobe malfunction' or F-bomb. ...except it wasn't Clark Kent, it was a robot. And not even a Superman-robot; just an alien robot scientist who had lost his memory upon transporting to earth and Supes asked him to cover for, Crisis on Infinite Earths couldn't come soon enough, sometimes.

This is towards the tailend of the Silver Age, when a lot of the situations Superman got into probably could've been avoided with a few moments of thought, but his powers always enabled him to snowplow his way to a solution. Other people have probably pointed this out, but "work harder, not smarter" seemed like Superman's mantra, even if he did do a lot of the work in the blink of an eye with his super-speed.

Gee, it would've been nice to grow up in nobel country, as opposed to bat country. While I'm not so much a fan of decompressed storylines, every so often a comic can cram in too much for a single issue. Action Comics #571 has got the aforementioned alien scientist robot, who's trying to save his planet but got amnesia on his trip to earth; a Professor Alice Herman, who creates life in the lab, that then gets all out of hand, but she's too busy getting pissed off about being snubbed by the Nobel Prize committee; oh, and Superman, who almost seems like he's trying to get Clark's identity blown.

(Incidentally, wasn't part of Lex Luthor's silver-age origins, that he created life in the lab? Either that's not all that impressive in a world that has Superman, or Supes will go out of his way to step on that.)

Admittedly, that looks like it was mighty fun to draw. Superman asks his new robot pal to cover for him as Clark, but his interview with a droning city councilman blows. His. Mind. (Sorry.) Supes then has to swoop in, repair his friend, and later stage another news story with Clark demostrating a new android created by Superman; before the robot heads home to save his people. Man, Clark made up an assload of news in some of these comics, but he's never going to get that pundit job now.

Meanwhile, Dr. Herman ends up in ladies' prison...for something. I don't care enough to go back and figure it out, but Supes visits her with a gift: a book, "Winners of the Nobel Prize." Dick...Dr. Herman asks why Supes is being so nice to her, and Supes says self-interest.
Dr. Herman actually stops Supes before he drops any names...
I can just hear Batman: "Oh, yeah, Clark: having your parents murdered before your eyes certainly is a 'disappointment.' Especially compared to losing your hair."

From Action Comics #571, "Mission to Earth!" Written by Elliot S! Maggin, pencils by Alex Saviuk, inks by Dave Hunt. A typically great cover by Brian Bolland, and I thought he had done more Action Comics covers, but he did have a nice Superman one...

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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Guess I have to do this one before they're the Fantastic Three:

"They Saved Doom's Face!" continues next week!

From Blog@Newsarama, there is a link to Emanata's piece on Jonathan Hickman's upcoming Fantastic Four storyline, "The End of the Fantastic." Emanata seems to think the Invisible Woman is a lock to be killed off, and putting aside any annoyance at more "death," Sue does seem like the choice that would offer the most drama. (There's some debate in the comments on who will be killed, or even if the character will "die" or something else to be written out.)

I thought about it, on my walk this afternoon: killing off Reed has been done before, and aside from everyone mourning him, the only (likely) storytelling possibilities are Namor hitting on Sue twenty minutes after the funeral, and the FF have to bring in another scientist-hero to take care of Reed's machines, mind the Negative Zone, keep the lights on, etc. It might be fun to see "Scientist Supreme" Henry Pym have to nut up and do Reed's job...I could see Hickman killing off Reed, since he's been doing some work with him, and it has to be tough to write Reed as working to make the world a better place without getting into ridiculous wish-fulfillment.

If Johnny dies, eh, sad funeral, new member. Ben dying would probably gut the team. But Sue's death...I hate to say this, because I don't want it to be considered "fridge-ing" her, but Sue's death would open possibilities. The first would probably be trying to keep Reed from killing himself. There's an old What If? that suggests that, and I believe it, even if Reed still had two kids to take care of.

Ben would be the pillar of strength for his friends, and Johnny may finally have to grow up and be less of a slackass; but if Reed manages to give suicide a miss, then what? How much would Reed care about "a better world" without Sue? The idea of Reed later dating is weirdly amusing, but what I'd love to see is Reed absolutely convinced Sue would be coming back. While in terms of the Marvel Universe, Reed would be right; but everyone would think Reed is in serious denial, if not outright insane.

Scene: Johnny and Ben, in black suits, for Sue's funeral. Both look terrible. They open the door to Reed's lab...

A clean-shaven, cheerful Reed, in FF uniform and labcoat, enjoys a cup of coffee while working on some project. Ben asks why Reed's not dressed for the funeral, and Reed point-blank says he's not going, Sue will be back. Reed turns back to his work, calmly whistling "We'll Meet Again."

Mmm. That only works, if you can somehow get across what song he's whistling on a comic page. Tough one.

Well, I'm curious to see where Hickman goes with this. Will I cough up the cash? ...maybe.

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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

"Citizen Kang" is a great title, but is that it?

Sigh. I know I had these when they first came out, lost them, then just got them again out of the quarter bins a couple weeks back: Citizen Kang, a four annual crossover with Captain America, Thor, Fantastic Four, and Avengers. We'll take a look at one every Tuesday this month, see how that goes.

The first chapter, "An Epic Adventure," opens with Captain America on the hunt for the Vision, who went missing in Timely, Wisconsin. Well, that's an auspicious-sounding beginning; but the Vision (currently in his white, emotionless version) was doing a check of his internal systems, and found a part labeled as made in Timely. (And somehow never seen before in the multiple times the Vision has been repaired, taken apart, etc.) The Vision predates miniaturization: I believe he means his parts weren't mass-produced, so he shouldn't have anything labeled in him.

Since the Vision disappears after that, Cap investigates; and finds Timely to be a creepy tableau of "Norman-Rockwellish niceness." The factory, Timely Industries, doesn't appear to be operating or to have ever made parts that would go into a synthezoid like the Vision; and the supervisor Mr. Johnson is taking a nap. Not buying it, Cap sneaks up to Johnson's office...

...which opens somewhere, somewhen else: Cap finds a man being beaten by a trio of Stone Men. Moving to help the man, he realizes he recognizes both the Stone Men, who fought Thor in his first appearance, and the man, who is Gilgamesh. At least, that the name Cap knows him as, the so-called "Forgotten One, an Eternal who went by many names through the ages. And when Gilgamesh doesn't speak or understand English, Cap realizes he's in Gilgamesh's time, about 5000 years ago. Gilgamesh is in the middle of a quest (I know little of his story, at least compared to the myth or Marvel versions of Hercules and Thor) and Cap is going to let him go on his way, when he sees futuristic towers in the distance.

Meanwhile, in the present, Dr. Druid is meditating, when he's visited by Nebula. Sigh. So, this predates Druid's demise at the hands of Warren Ellis; and Nebula...errrg. This is the same Nebula that joined the Council of Kangs and mesmerized Druid into betraying the Avengers; who may or may not be the same Nebula that was a space pirate and claimed to be the granddaughter of Thanos. The point is academic now, especially since no one likes either Dr. Druid or Nebula, even though Nebula shows up in a bra. Druid's trying to play it cool, but yeah...

Incidentally, I had the issue mentioned in the footnote there, and it is abominable. Roy Thomas tries with every erg of writing power he can muster, to make Dr. Druid worthwhile, and fails spectacularly.

At this point in Gilgamesh's story, Cap knows he's seriously depressed as he's coming to terms with his mortality. But Cap also knows, Gilgamesh actually is immortal, and will still be alive some millenia later. Gilgamesh tries to get a plant that may grant him immortality, but loses it to a giant snake, and goes on his way glumly. Cap goes on to the mysterious future city with a young Eternal, whom Cap recognizes as Sersi.

Cap mentions feeling like the hero in Kafka's "The Castle," which is a pretty good reference. In the city, Kang has had his prisoner shown around his mighty Chronopolis; but the Vision remains unimpressed. Well, the Vision was emotionally dead at the time, so Kang could probably show him the face of God and not impress him. But I'm pretty sure Chronopolis still sucks a bit...

From Captain America Annual #11, "An Epic Adventure" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Larry Alexander, inks by Kathryn Bolinger. We might look at some of the other features in this issue some other time, but...not great. I'm already wishing I had picked the Terminus Factor instead. I was about to say Cap's annuals are traditionally, pretty bad; but in actual fact, it's just that #11-13 are varying degrees of terrible. The old ones are better. Captain America Annual #5 is one of the first Cap stories I remember, and it's awesome: Gene Colan art, the Constrictor tries to blow up the World Trade Center and that's not even the A-plot.

Next week: Part two of Citizen Kang, Thor Annual #17, "The Hammer, the Cross, and the Eye!"
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Sunday, September 05, 2010

Maybe these'll make up for not accomplishing anything all weekend...

New Bastards of the Universe up at Articulated Discussion! Coming up on the end of the "Evil Bastards" storyline, which should more or less wrap up next weekend.

For a later storyline, I have an idea for a contest, but I need to get some prizes...hmm. I can either dig up some stuff I already have, or hit up eBay...eBay it is! We'll see how it goes...

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Friday, September 03, 2010

An extra Thor panel, a Punisher non-sequitor, and more on Evil Dead: Regeneration.

An extra panel from Thor #460. This may have been artist Bruce Zick's first issue, but I don't like that panel.

Topless Robot had a list mentioning this issue as featuring one of the lamest Punisher villains: Lifeforce, although that was more the name of the crossover. (The Hulk Annual in that crossover was pretty good, though.) This was from Punisher Annual #3, written by Mike Baron, art by Neil (Untamed) Hansen; and I have no idea why Dr. Wertham is mentioned there--there wasn't a character by that name seen that issue. Weird.

So, I mentioned playing Evil Dead: Regeneration, and in some areas Ash has a sidekick, Sam: an unkillable, Deadite, midget. There are stages where you can control Sam, and send him into dangerous areas; or Ash can kick Sam into battle. So, there's an area where you need to start a fire, but can't quite get it with the flamethrower, or the grenade launcher...what to do, what to do...I'm a little dismayed that "set Sam on fire, then punt him" occurred to me really quickly. Feel like that says something about me...

And saw Prince of Persia last night at the cheap theatre. Meh. Technically, it looked nice, with a few scenes obviously intended to abuse 3-D; but nowhere was it as lively or swashbuckling as it should've been. And there were several points in that movie that drop exposition exactly like a videogame cut scene: "Oh no! There's obstacles here, here, and here! If only you could get to point a, b, and then c!" I don't know if that was intentional or not.

I was going to see A-Team even later, but we'll see if I make it, since I'm setting this up, then it's a four-day weekend for me! We'll be back early Tuesday, so have fun and be good until then!
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Thursday, September 02, 2010

Making eight Thor books seem like a good idea, and a bad idea:

The Marvel solicitations of a bit ago, for some month in the future, had a Norse ton of Thor books coming. Seriously, a pile: per Bleeding Cool, eight in November. The idea is, put the issues out then; and then collect them into trades for whenever it is the Thor movie comes out, hypothetically pulling in the dollars of imaginary non-comics readers. Has that ever worked? I mean, did those Iron Man trades bring any new readers into the comics fold? Hell if I know, I'm already obviously not looking anything up for this post...

Still, Marvel's plan makes sense, considering the alternative: reprinting old Thor comics. Now, Marvel probably wants to keep their Thor trade paperback onslaught on-message and relatively close to whatever continuity the movie sets up; and as a book Thor has been all over the place, hither and yon, over the course of its publication since 1966. (Thor was Journey into Mystery before then!) Sometimes Thor has been a relatively straightforward superhero book, sometimes it's had a strong science-fiction feel, and of course it's often gone into the mythological well, with mixed results.

And like most Marvel books, it's had periods of excellence, and it's had "New Eras of Greatness!" that were neither New, Great, or an Era. Like today's book! The Mighty Thor #460, "Fragments" Written by Jim Starlin and Ron Marz, pencils by Bruce Zick, inks by Steve Montano. Thor has finally returned from Mephisto's realm, has finally been separated from Eric Masterson (who has become Thunderstrike and spun off to his own book with creators Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz, who finished their run on the book with #459) and is at long last free to marry the lady Sif. Yeah...about that...

Oh, it's not you, Sif, it's me...I'm not positive when exactly Sif went back to being Thor's main squeeze--sometime during Masterson's tenure as Thor, I guess. But that's part of the problem: Thor was trapped in Masterson's body, or the other way around, but Masterson was in the driver's seat. Thor could only watch Masterson "blunder" his way through his adventures, which he describes as "incessant frustration." So, Thor may have a legitimate issue to work through, but his treatment of Sif is shabby at best and borderline cowardice at worst.

And Thor seems remarkably...whiny, on his stroll through Asgard. He also complains that Sif doesn't understand him; but "what woman ever has?" On cue, Thor turns a corner and meets Valkyrie. Well, a Valkyrie, and not the one we know from the Defenders. (Who had best be finally getting her Marvel Legends action figure this year, by the way.) Thor doesn't recognize her, but this Valkyrie claims to be a recent addition to Odin's fabled shield maidens. She offers Thor a sympathetic ear, before disappearing; leaving Thor to get glasses.

Wait, "Eyes of Fenris" is a bar. A patron thanks Thor for saving the realm from Mephisto, and grumpily Thor explains that wasn't him, it was Masterson. A troll--a real one, not the internet variety, chilling in Asgard for some reason--tells Thor the bar is for warriors, not spectators, and then it's on. Thor is just starting to get into it, when Big Daddy Odin sticks his nose in.

Summoned before the All-Father, Thor confesses his problem: he is no longer sure who he is.

Odin admits that at least some of Thor's problems are his fault; and in fact later we would see how much that was so. But for now, Odin sends Thor on a "respite." Which sounds like "exile" to Thor, but Odin says he wants his son to rest, take a break from duty...and from Asgard. Call it a vacation then, Odin. He sets Thor up with a sailing ship for space, and sends him on his way.

Thor doesn't question his dad, since that would probably get him the belt. He thinks solitude will be just what he needs...when the Valkyrie appears at the bow of Thor's ship.

Starlin and Marz both know their cosmic epics, but this one did not click for me. The idea of Thor no longer knowing himself has merit, but was overdone, making Thor far too moody for my tastes. And I preferred back in Walt Simonson's run, where Sif moved on to seeing Beta Ray Bill, rather than continuing to be Thor's backup girlfriend like she'd been for most of the run of the book.

And the Valkyrie storyline ran for a while! Thor had maybe four Infinity Crusade crossover issues, quite probably because Starlin was writing that, but I think Marz was the solo writer before long. Valkyrie's story wouldn't even start to be wrapped up until #468, part one of Blood and Thunder, a crossover with Silver Surfer and Warlock and the Infinity Watch. And not a great one. Some other time for that...nah.
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