Monday, January 31, 2011

'Vikor vs. Conan' sounds like a legal thing...which I could see, honestly.

This was originally going to be a much shorter post: I tried to buy the Masters of the Universe Classics Vikor figure from Mattel's website, and it sold out in about three minutes. The end. Except, it wasn't: with part of their shipment delayed by the weather, they didn't have all of them available the first time; and had to have another go around. I was a first-time user of, but it went just fine. The second time.

I took a ton of pictures of Vikor in package, and they were all terrible.
There are a ton of good, proper, Vikor reviews out there: Infinite Hollywood, Geek News (with Lemonjuice McGee), It's All True, Michael Crawford's, Poe should have one if he hasn't already. So, as usual for around here, we won't be doing a proper review, but just some impressions. Mainly, comparing him to 2007's Marvel Toys/Legendary Heroes Conan!

I was surprised how closely Vikor and Conan matched up in terms of articulation: Conan has a little more, with double-elbows and knees, rocker-ankles, and wrist-hinges. In practice, they're very evenly matched there. Both even have their neck articulation hindered by their hair, but Vikor does have the option of popping his head off and removing his cape. Supposedly. I haven't yet...Vikor's a smidge taller, even allowing for the unremovable helmet; and a bit thicker, particularly in the shoulders.

Now, the downside: from, Vikor is twenty dollars, plus postage. Which was what, ten bucks? And then some tax or something in there, so I believe the total was $31.20. He did arrive really quickly, but even so. Checking my records, I found I bought Conan on Halloween 2007 at Wal-Mart, for $19.45. But, while Vikor came with an axe, a sword, and a shield; Conan came with an axe, a sword, and the Devourer of Souls, Wrarrl. Hell, Wrarrl came with a removable helmet, bag of worms, and a sword.

So, while I am happy to add Vikor to my collection, he all but underlines my misgivings with Mattel's handing of MOTUC. If Vikor was sold in stores, he still might have retailed for fifteen bucks or thereabouts, but without postage; and I have no doubt at all that he'd be a hit with a wider audience. But between the website sales, and the DCUC/MOTUC two-packs (which are running about $35 right now, I believe) I think Mattel has lost faith in the Masters of the Universe reaching a younger audience, especially without a cartoon or movie tie-in; and is content to sell figures to older fans who remember the original show's glory days. And sell them at a bit of a premium price, at that.

That's not to say Vikor isn't a damn good figure: he is, and he's at least the equal of the MT/LH Conan. But Vikor could be more than a figure that was sold online for a couple of days once. In the same vein, while I'm not real up on my Masters of the Universe continuity, I'd love to see Vikor worked in there. Maybe they find him frozen in an iceberg or something...

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Eight random line items!

I haven't done one of these in a while. Of course I'm prepared, what makes you say that?

1. Damnit, I got home and missed UPS. And my dog was at the door looking completely pleased with himself, like he got rid of an intruder. That dog...hopefully, later today I'll have something for next week.

2. I've been watching the Cape...well, sort of: it's been on, while I'm in the room; but I haven't been paying a ton of attention. It seems like a show with Keith David, Vinnie Jones, and a midget should be a little livelier. It's not terrible like late episodes of Heroes, and it seems more enjoyable than V, but both shows need to make some headway somewhere.

Keep in mind, you probably shouldn't listen to me about TV, since everything I've watched lately--the NFL playoffs, Wipeout, the State of the Union address--has been in one ear and out the other. Either they haven't been overly memorable, or I haven't been paying attention. Or both. I'd go with both.

3. I did watch Red, and thought it was OK. I did want to re-read the book, though; I always pictured Patrick Stewart in the Frank Moses role. In the book, Moses' calls to his handler aren't a guy looking for a date; they're an old man's only human contact, and have a certain neediness to them. But, a more straight adaptation would've been a lot grimmer and bloodier; I can't fault their decision to go for a broader audience.

4. I almost hesitate to bring this up, but Hastings has been a treasure-trove of used trades lately. Today, I picked up Michael Moorcock and Walter Simonson's Elric: the Making of a Sorceror, for $3.99. Cheaper than a single issue! (Also, per GCD, the series started in September 2004 and finished August 2006?) Really good so far, even if it again makes me wish there was an Elric figure!

5. I did pick up the new Fantastic Four, having almost made it without seeing the spoiler. My guess was way spoiler, but it's an untypical comic death: no scene of everyone looking sad over the body, for one thing.

6. That last item probably should've been number four. Or number three. Well, too late now.

7. Also got the last issue of ToyFare, and it doesn't seem like they were planning on it being the last issue. More than once captions and articles mention more info coming next month, presumably not to the theoretical Wizard website coming whenever. A big, last-issue finale extravaganza recapping ToyFare's history and legacy, and maybe getting a congratulations or two, well, that would've been nice, but I guess it was not to be. And there's five bucks a month I can spend or crack or something, I guess.

8. The new DCUC figures--the Bane wave, with Jonah Hex and the Creeper--and the Green Lantern figures--well, just getting Kyle there--are nowhere to be found locally, as of yet. Disappointing. With a dearth of figures (for me, anyway) recently, eBay has been tempting as heck; especially since loose Lord of the Rings figures seem perfect as background cast for Bastards of the Universe strips. Which I need to start working on. Have a good weekend!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011

For reference purposes:

I was looking for some custom ROM figures online, since that seems like the only way to get a six or seven-inch scale figure of him. And by itself, "ROM" is a tough name to search for, and then I spent forty minutes of so trying to figure out if ROM had any peripherial vision in those weird headlight eyes, and how to cobble together LED's for them. ROM's head had a little more indentation than I remembered, too.

I do remember from an old ToyFare that back in the pre-Marvel Legends days, ToyBiz had a Dire Wraith drawn up, but it never happened. A shame, since they had a pretty toyetic design, if you will.

Taking a bit of a day here, since I'm expecting some stuff; and I need to clear out some space. Also, I bought the Youngest a Spongebob Squarepants pinball game, and that and Adult Swim's House of Dead Ninjas has been eating up too much of my time, so we'll see what tomorrow comes up with.

From Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #9, first edition, art by Sal Buscema.
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cap never says, "Avengers Assemble! ten."

Some time after the Wal-Mart exclusive Iron Man 2 toys hit the shelves, I lucked into a Mark V figure for a couple bucks. Not a bad figure, and I enjoyed swapping the hands in the pictures for this one. I have to wonder how often this happens to Tony, but I guess his armor is stored in his bones now, so problem solved, I guess.

I did pick up Iron Man #500 last week, and enjoyed the story but didn't like it. That may be worth a longer post later; but my point is I miss the days when Tony Stark wasn't going to be the death of us all, which seems almost a given in that book now.
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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

This is a spoiler for ToyFare #163:

Per Topless Robot and a bunch of other places, ToyFare Magazine ended with the most recent issue. I'm pretty sure Mego Spidey isn't given a big send-off either, but that may be just as well. My copy of #163 is still at the comic shop, and I almost hesitate to get it now; like if I don't, it'll still be going. I don't think I read the first quarterly issues, but I know I've been reading since around #3 or so.

Although it may not have been as good recently, as it was at it's best--the last Twisted ToyFare Theatre I've read was a two-part Masters of the Universe/Inception spoof, that had a few jokes but wasn't great--ToyFare not only gave me a lot of laughs over the years, but you can probably guess that it was pretty influential on the strips I do around here. And as recently as a couple months ago, my oldest nephew found a couple of my issues and loved them; damn near stole them right out from under me.

I'll miss the big checklists of lines like Marvel Legends or DC Direct, and the occasional spotlights of figures that never show up, like the comic book style Watchmen figures. I'll miss the more insane days of the FanFare letters column. And I'll miss word balloons on random figures. Generally, I'll just miss ToyFare, and hope for the best for all its employees.

Oddly, I've had an issue lying next to my computer for a while, since I was going to do a post on the unpainted Shocker Toys pieces previewed some months back, and I wonder if they're ever going to show up either.

And of course, the above isn't the Mego Spidey of so many TTT strips; sadly, he isn't even my childhood one, but a replacement I picked up a few years back. I loved the Megos before Star Wars figures broke it big, and remember taking my Mego Spidey to basketball games as a kid. Pretty obvious where I was headed, then...
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Monday, January 24, 2011

Barbarian king, check; zombies, pirates, check; flying bull...OK, whatever.

Why Kull would want to do that, I have no idea.
I've mentioned this here before, but Conan stories are always more fun than Kull stories. Always. That's not to say that there aren't good Kull stories, far from it. It's just that Conan at least on occasion enjoyed himself, while Kull is a gloomy son of a gun. He probably has reason to be, though.

For one thing, Conan got all the chicks. In every Kull story I've read, his love interests are either killed, or betray him. Or get killed while betraying him, or some variation thereof. Conversely, Kull had better friends, since most of those stories feature Brule the Spear-slayer (who pretty much does what the name says; you don't call Brule when you need jars opened, you call him in when you need things stabbed a lot) and it was much rarer for Conan to keep a sidekick or ally for more than a few issues. Almost all of Kull's stories are of his time as king of Valusia: he became king younger than Conan would (however many years later, Conan and Kull weren't contemporaries...) but that mainly means Kull missed out on over a decade's worth of partying.

Moreover, while Conan's monarchy in Aquilonia seemed to be a benevolent dictatorship; for some reason Valusia had a king and a senate. A senate composed of the landholding rich white guys, who instead of being bought up by special interests, were the special interests. No middlemen here; but they also had no particular love or respect for their barbarian king, and most of them were either dragging their feet against his rule, or semi-secretly plotting against Kull at any given time.
It's no 'Row, Row, Row your boat' but it's catchy.
Which sets the stage for today's comic! From Kull #3, "Dead Men of the Deep." Written by Alan Zelenetz, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Klaus Janson. (With a Michael Golden cover.) A fact-finding cruise of senators (really!) is captured by the pirate Roc, whom Kull remembers. Kull had been a galley slave for him for two years before escaping, and planned on killing the hell out of him before getting sidetracked with all this king business.

Aboard the pirated ship, Kull finds an old friend, Gorn; who had been a slave first in Roc's galley, then in Kull's own Valusian navy. While Kull is glad to see his friend, he's embarrassed to free him by accident, and again laments the official policy of slavery, since he can't get the senate to abolish it. As Kull takes to the sea after Roc, a senator and a priest of the bull-god Anu plot a little regicide. Shortly after setting off, Kull and his ship are attacked by a flying bull. Most people would find that weird, but Kull kills it and is only interested in getting back on track after Roc.
That's mildly terrifying, and not just because I just washed my car...
After a surprise attack on Roc's island stronghold, Kull and his crew discover Roc's main force, and his hostages, are in a secret ice cavern. In fairly short order, Kull plants an axe in Roc's guts, leaving him to sink into the icy waters.
Love the art in this one. Love it.
On the voyage home, the ship enters a strange fog. Zombie fog, courtesy of the priest of Anu again. Overrun, things look grim, until reinforcements arrive in the form of the king's chancellor Tu; who had been following his king at a safe distance the whole time. The plotting senator kills the priest for his failure; and upon his return, Kull again lobbies for the abolishment of slavery. The vote fails unanimously; Kull is disgruntled to realize even the senators he saved voted against him...

This feels like a busy issue, but to be honest, if I had John Buscema and Klaus Janson for art, I would be throwing different crap at them every couple of pages too, just to get them to draw it. This was the third volume of Kull from Marvel, and the letters page notes it's the last issue for 1983. It was on an irregular schedule for a while there, and I want to say some of the issues were double-sized, some standard. I think Marvel wanted to get Kull up to the level of sales of their Conan books, but he never made it, but not for lack of trying. Read more!

Friday, January 21, 2011

"There must be a better way..."

" avoid missing an issue of Savage Sword of Conan!" From the subscription ad in Savage Sword of Conan #34, and the signature reads Steve Adams. I wasn't expecting to see Conan versus a bunch of Howard the Duck-style warriors, but here we are. Local comic and game shop Merlyn's had a ream of Savage Swords at cover price, and I think I showed a little restraint in not pillaging all they had. I settled with a pile about the thickness of your average phone book...

Between that pickup, and a "Three for a dollar" pile from another store called Time Bomb, it almost made up for a slow week of comics for me at the regular Comic Book Shop: a couple cheap books to go with the new issue of B.P.R.D.

Back to the Conans: there was maybe an issue or two that I had previously seen, reprinted in the 80's in Conan Saga, but most were new to me. These were earlier issues than I read as a kid: I know I started around #112. Several were Roy Thomas adaptations of original stories by Robert E. Howard or L. Sprague de Camp; and just from the issues I had there, it struck me how hung up Conan seemed about becoming king, like that was a goal he was very much working towards. In a lot of later issues, although Conan's heard prophecies about his destiny that hint at it, he seems highly doubtful about the prospect. On occasion, he also gets involved in fakeouts, like a land that only has queens and Conan would just be a royal consort, or a dead kingdom, or something.

Also, there were backup features with Solomon Kane, Red Sonja, Kull, and others. I've been interested in Solomon Kane a little since there's a movie adaptation that I don't think has gotten a wide release or DVD yet here. Still, Kane's puritanical ways also make him a bit of a dick; and definitely less fun than Conan. But there's still a few good stories featuring him; and recently there's been a few new novels, with cover art by Mike Mignola. May have to look into that when I finish this pile. (Kane page from "Moon of Skulls, part 2" Written by Don Glut, art by David Wenzel and Bill Wray.)
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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Man, Art Adams can draw mole people...

I'm thinking of the Moloids from the replacement Fantastic Four and the Shrewmanoid from Monkeyman and O'Brien; but this time is with the Challengers of the Unknown, from Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant. ("The Great Unknown!" Story and inks by Karl Kesel, pencils by Art Adams.)

I lucked into a dinged-up quarter copy of that one, a good price for it, since it's a little hit-or-miss. There's a Deadman story with Eduardo Barreto art; then Beast Boy and Wonder Girl solo stories that aren't great. Admittedly, outside of the Teen Titans cartoon, I don't think I've ever liked Beast Boy, and don't even think of him as part of the Doom Patrol, either. Then, a Metal Men story set when Doc Magnus was Veridium--yeah.

Nice art, The Metal Men weren't robots in this one, but copies of Dr. Magnus's dead lab crew; which makes a story with them fighting a giant monster geranium less fun than you'd hope. ("Heart of Tin," written by Tom Peyer, pencils by Scott Kolins, inks by Bob Layton.)

Then there's a nice Walt Simonson and Klaus Janson Apokolips story, and a Legion of Super-Heroes story that's more about Superman than anything. Not the best 80-page special, then, but not the worst either.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My first toy purchase of 2011... a glorified accessory to my Marvel Universe X-Men figures: a G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra Night Raven, a nice approximation of the SR-71 Blackbird; which of course was the X-Men's go-to jet for a bunch of years. (Check out OAFE's review!) Still, it's a nice hunk of toy, and was down to $7.50 at Target!

Mind you, while the X-Jet was modified to carry thirteen or so mutants, the SR-71 usually had a crew of two. But the Warlord was piloting one solo at the start of his book, which we might have to check out soon.

In point of fact, this may not have been my first first buy of the year. I eBayed some stuff like an English "Corinthian" Nightcrawler figure, and a Nightcrawler bean: I keep meaning to gather up all the little random Nightcrawler items I've picked up over the years; like fast food toys from the Phillipines and Australia, and higher-end lead-pewter figurines from Spain and Germany. (I think: keep in mind I'm not cool enough to have travelled and bought them on their home turf, it's mostly eBay.)

Nightcrawler's a good character for collecting, since you can get a nice little pile of stuff if you want; without having to sort through reams of product like you would for a big name like Wolverine or Batman. Well, sooner or later...

Longer strips coming. Soonish.
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"G'nort to gain."

I'm big enough to admit when I'm wrong, but if you had ever told me I would miss G'nort, I'd have laughed in your face. But, even with bits of comic relief like Larfleeze in the book just really feels like there should be something to take the piss out of Green Lantern, since it just seems a bit full of itself.

I think we'll have another short strip later today... Read more!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

I'm just going to be sad today, aren't I?

Ugh. No joy in Mudville today: first, I was actually by the computer, webpage loaded this morning, to try and get Mattel's latest new Masters of the Universe Classics figure. Never had a chance: Vikor sold out in three minutes. (Poe's POA set me up with the initial link, and you can check out the Happy Vikor Day post to see the figure, and some comments from who did and did not get one.) Now, best guess would be that Mattel made enough for the subscribers but not necessarily enough for fans looking for a very Conan-like figure; and it's all but assured that eventually there will be more. Still...not a good start to the day, and looks like Vikor won't be visiting the Bastards anytime soon.

Then, from Comics Alliance, Leaked 'X-Men Destiny' screenshots for the upcoming game, which apparently features a tribal-tattooed mutant character, possibly one of the player characters available, that piles on so much 'cool' that he makes Poochie seem positively restrained. Which wouldn't bother me so much, since I had no real intention of playing said game, but then there was this piece of concept art:
Being dead wasn't enough punishment for Kurt?
You know, I think I hate that hat the most. Sadly, if they made a Nightcrawler figure of this sketch, I would be bound by rule to buy one...

Between that and the death of a thousand cuts of a pretty uninspiring batch of Marvel solicits from Comic Book Resources (Annihilators was the only book I was completely sold on) I'm not feeling that enthusiastic this evening. Tomorrow will be a better day, and to be honest, if these are the worst things to happen to me? I'm getting off pretty damn easy.

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Blue Beetle swiping from Nite Owl, the snake eats its own tail...

Even though I've read a few of the old Steve Ditko Blue Beetle stories, I can't remember if he ever had a winter outfit like Watchmen's Nite Owl. Seems like Ted would, right, but if so he may not have kept it in the Bug: you can see him freezing with the rest of the team in Russia in Justice League #3...

This issue also gives Booster Gold his new, and terrible, armor; his new, and terrible, bionic arm; and the new, and terrible, reveal that Booster had previously always known what would happen to him. It's yet another addition to the character to make him seem like a colossal dick: point-shaving in games he played, being unable or unwilling to stop Sue Dibney or Ted Kord's murders but knowing his own history, and committing fraud more than once to look like a hero. (I always get the feeling, as far as Justice League goes, some writers really like Booster, and some really don't...) Ted comes off pretty well in this one, but Booster had been having a hard time of it for a while already.

Also this issue: the Overmaster...sits! The League-Busters attack, including our old pals Ultraa and Peacekeeper! Or a Peacekeeper, anyway, but Captain Atom kicks their asses pretty handily. Ice goes bad (maybe) and takes over Overmaster's henchmen team, the Cadre! And Wonder Woman appears to be at odds with Captain Atom over the League's plan of attack against Overmaster; but Atom's plan seems to be go in guns blazing, while Diana's oddly reeks of appeasement. Still, this is part four of however many, so who knows.

From Justice League America #90, "Judgment Day, part four: The Shadow of Death" Written by Dan Vado (with co-plotting by Gerry Jones and Mark Waid) pencils by Marc Campos, inks by Ken Branch.
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Monday, January 17, 2011

Poisoning the bullets seems like overkill...more overkill, then.

I might not have time for this cool-ass shot if you were armed!
Even before I watched all those Green Hornet episodes, I've been on kind of an old-school kick lately. It occurred to me how much I would enjoy having "proper" action figures (that is to say, in the 6-inch scale range like Marvel Legends or DCUC) of the Hornet and Kato; and the Lone Ranger and Tonto, the Shadow, the Phantom...

Actually, I'd even be OK with analog versions, your knockoffs or homages or parodies or fakes. In Planetary there were any number of cover versions, from Japanese kaiju monsters to Vertigo Comics entire 80's catalog; but a favorite of mine was Ellis and Cassaday's spin on the Lone Ranger from Planetary #22, "The Torture of William Leather."
I'm not saying I want to get into murder, but man, I would love to enjoy my work a tenth as much as that guy...
William was basically, the evil Human Torch, part of the Four and their vast conspiracy. Planetary frontman Elijah Snow does torture him for info this issue; but we find out his suffering goes back much further. Allowing for the analog versions, William's grandpa was the Lone Ranger, and his dad was the Shadow--or they should have been. Because his 'dad' was always out fighting crime, his mom had an affair with one of of his 'operatives.' Which leads to a lifetime of William feeling cheated of a legacy of coolness, which more than likely would've included superpowers. Which is no excuse for the horrible things we've seen William do in his quest to get and keep power; in one issue, we see him murder a baby Superman-analog in its crib/rocket.

The 'Dead Ranger' of this issue, though, is of course based on the Lone Ranger, but with a twist I love: along with the traditional silver bullets, his were tipped with mercury, a common leaving of silver mines. And of course, poisonous as hell. "People always said the Dead Ranger always shot to wound, but that wounded badmen died of shame. Nobody ever worked out that the bullets were poisoned."

(Actually, I had to re-read this more closely, since I thought the bullets were arsenic, which is also found with silver and in fact is used in small amounts in lead bullets. I have no idea how well a 100% arsenic bullet would hold up for shooting, but it sounds cool.)

The Spider there is based more on the Shadow than the competing pulp hero of the same name, but here he's also one of Planetary and the Authority's "century babies," like Snow or Jenny Sparks: born at midnight on January 1, 1900; those children grew up with powers and some were 'functionally immortal.' Still, the Spider seems to be getting a kick out of shooting those guys, moreso than I'd say the Shadow would.

Of course, if Planetary were to ever get more action figures, I do not want to know what I would do, for a Phantom Cop of Hong Kong figure. From issue #3's "Dead Gunfighters," this would look just beautiful in clear or semi-clear plastic. Ah, if only.

Incidentally, in Green Hornet continuity, Britt Reid was the son of the Lone Ranger's nephew. The connection isn't played up much anymore, for legal reasons...

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Who knows what evil, well, you know.

Not unlike the Green Hornet, I have at best a passing familarity with the Shadow, actually. I liked the 1994 movie with Alex Baldwin, although that may be because I wasn't particularly attached to the character. And I did enjoy what little I've seen of his comics: the Howard Chaykin version, which is probably more Howard Chaykin than Shadow; and the weirdness of the occasional 1987 series story that I've read. The latter series featured art by Bill Sienkiewicz, Kyle Baker, and Marshall Rogers; if you see them.

By contrast, today's book, 1975's the Shadow #10, "The Night of the Killers!" is a more traditional pulp story. Two of the Shadow's operatives stumble across a kidnapping and get shot up a bit; so the Shadow decides it's time he took an interest in the gang. While there's more to it than would appear on the surface, the Shadow picks them apart one by one.

It's funny: even though I never read Chuck Dixon's revival of pulp character the Spider, he had a line that while the Spider was legitimately crazy and enjoyed the hell out of crimefighting (that is to say, shooting the hell out of thugs...) the Shadow always seemed to be putting on an act. Like his laugh was just a part of his plan, and he did always seem to have everything precisely planned out.

Still, when I find something like this in the quarter box, of course I'm going to grab it. "The Night of the Killers!" Written by Denny O'Neil, art by E.R. Cruz.

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Thursday, January 13, 2011

"Blood and Thunder," the end!

Why is murder always Odin's first impulse?
I'm in a bit of a bad mood, since I should be asleep now, but forgot to put my laundry in the drier, so now I have to stay up for a bit. All right then, what do we have to blog quickly? Ooh, Thor #471, the concluding chapter of Blood and Thunder, the nine-part crossover between Thor, Warlock and the Infinity Watch, the Warlock Chronicles, and Silver Surfer. (EDIT: I feel like I've had to go back and correct this fourteen times, but Blood and Thunder was a thirteen-part crossover!) And I forgot I was going to cover another of the Silver Surfer chapters, so now I have to go do that; so I'm getting madder and madder to cover this issue.

"Thor Must Die!" proclaims Odin on the first page, cementing his rep as Marvel's worst dad. Thor is currently trapped in a clear block (courtesy of Thanos, who isn't credited with it here) but is also really crazy. His imaginary girlfriend the Valkyrie (still not the one we usually know...) came to life for a bit, and Odin hasn't been able to cure Thor's insanity. So, the next logical step is to kill him.

The observing Dr. Strange and Adam Warlock suggest maybe Odin could try maybe one other thing first. Adam's forte was the soul, not the mind; but he suggests Thor's sanity is locked away, and Odin's approach should be more like a key, less like a sledgehammer.

Odin enters Thor's mind, to find his son's mental landscape is a giant mountain, with Thor's self-image chained to it. Thor laments his weakness in being unable to break his bonds; but Odin reassures him: he can't break those chains, because they were forged by Odin. Metaphorically...I think. Odin admits tampering with Thor's mind, on more than one occasion; as well as letting others "usurp" Thor's power. I don't know if Odin is referring to Dr. Donald Blake there or not; since I'm still not clear on whether Thor and Blake were two separate personas. Maybe sometimes? Depends on when you ask?

After Odin breaks the chains, Thor wants to get out before she shows up. Odin explains that she's just a figment of his imagination, and can't hurt him. Which sounds good, before the Valkyrie shows up. Pissed. That, and in her brief life, she got a taste for it, and wants it back. She's also a bit of a manifestation of Odin's mucking about and Thor's fighting back against it; and Odin is unwilling to unleash the fury and completely destroy his son's mind.
The Valkyrie's imaginary, but still gets more dialogue than Sif's had in the book in years...

Thor is unwilling to let even the Allfather fight his battles for him, but the Valkyrie points out fighting her could be like lobotomizing himself. Odin asks his son to hold, but Thor smites the Valkyrie out of existence, returning to normal. Thor makes his apologies to Dr. Strange, Sif, and the other gathered heroes; taking a moment to return the Power Gem to Drax the Destroyer. Drax, at the time, was a simple-minded behemoth; and Adam Warlock quickly takes the gem himself for safekeeping. Thor also thanks Thanos, before telling him to get his ass out of Asgard.
'What, no hug?'

The Mighty Thor #471 was Ron Marz's last issue on the book: Roy Thomas would take over the next month, and stay on as regular writer until (after old writer Tom DeFalco had a fill-in) Warren Ellis had his all-too-brief four issue stint. Before William Messner-Loebs could really get going, Thor would end with #502. (We saw that one last month, on "The End" week!) And Thor wouldn't even get a book in Heroes Reborn...which is a pro or a con, depending how you look at it. Not unlike Fantastic Four, for me Thor has always been a book that had some great runs; then long stretches of terribleness.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Well, this would get me to watch:

I suppose I would watch 'Tron Gear' as well, yes.
I started watching BBC America for Dr. Who and Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns, and then ended up watching Top Gear as well. I barely like to drive, and yet I enjoy the hell out of that show.

Like most of you, I imagine; I haven't seen the actual American Top Gear yet. Rumor has it that it's more of a straight car show; without the endearing goofiness of the British original. So far, anyway: I suppose you might have to work your way up to driving to the North Pole or building your own electric car...

Longer strips will return, but this year has been a colossal disappointment for toys so far--yes, not even two weeks in, and I'm calling 2011 all but dead. Well, maybe not, but while I've eBay'd a few things, and put in for my Backyard Legends Prince of Crystal; locally I've found not so much. At least, at any price I'm willing to pay. And yet I keep stumbling into deals on stuff for my Oldest, like a nice markdown on an Undertaker/Batista two-pack. Good for him, bad for me.

I also spent yesterday watching Green Hornet on SyFy; since I'd never seen it before. (I knew of the character, but I only knew the great theme from Kill Bill.) Being the Green Hornet seems like the easiest job in the world, though: "Hey, Kato, can you drive me over to those criminals? And then beat the living crap out of them? Then when we get home, rotate the tires on the Black Beauty, reload my gas gun, and make me a smoothie..." It does seem borderline inhumane to let Kato loose on those thugs, though, and as I type this he just brutalized an innocent security guard. I know I'll probably see the movie at some point, but I'm not sure I'll see it in theatres...maybe.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nightcrawler vs. Judge Dredd...will not be seen today.

Unfortunately, Nightcrawler and the rest of Excalibur (minus the lost Kitty Pryde, who accidentally made her way home early) end up maybe one universe over from Dredd's. Maybe two, since the Marvel Universe already had a perfectly good (or at least, usable...) Dredd analog in Simonson's Justice Peace.

Arriving in a Mega-City One-styled future, complete with "Justicers" and anti-mutant laws, Excalibur has to deal with the law and the mob. As was typical for the Cross-Time Caper stories, there are several analog versions of the team and others: Kit Pryde runs the mob, although she may just be the point for demon sorceress Illyana Rasputin. (Amusingly, Illyana wears Dr. Strange's blue outfit, minus only the cloak.)

A Justicer with the unlikely name of Cadbury turns out to be a human version of Kurt; but there are laws against mutants, and Kurt's facing "genetics modification," then a jail term just for his appearance.

Meggan and Captain Britain end up in the Black Atlantic (at least, that's what Dredd's version was called) the polluted and poison sea. The whole team is forced to fight their way to Illyana, who goes full-on Dark-childe demon mode. Even with Phoenix, the fight is almost lost until the Lord High Justicer and Chief Examining Magistrate arrive: that universe's Captain Britain and his sister, Psylocke.

As everything wraps up, Justicer Bull admits "the law is absolute, but not immutable," and that change may be necessary. Excalibur is given until sunset, to get the hell out of Dodge...

From Excalibur #23, "Here Comes the Judge" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Alan Davis, inks by Paul Neary. Interestingly enough, back in the day in old Judge Dredd stories, mutants were illegal, and were often forcibly exiled from Mega-City One. But in recent years, Dredd has been trying to change that policy: being the way you were born should never be a crime.
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Monday, January 10, 2011

Judge Dredd with a tommy gun, because tommy guns are awesome.

Eagle Comics Judge Dredd #8 was the first Dredd story I ever read, and it was jumping in with both feet. The opener says it's part four of the Cursed Earth, and it is and it isn't. In the original presentation in 2000 AD, this issue was probably about part 16; and a couple of chapters have never been reprinted due to a lawsuit. (Check out the wiki link there, while I lament not having the chance to see Dredd vs. Ronald McDonald...Luckily, Slay, Monstrobot of the Deep! covered that very prog not too long ago!)

When a mutated flu virus (amusingly named "2 T (fru) T," which suggests to me that Mills or Wagner may have been fans of Romero's the Crazies) hits Mega-City Two and turns its victims into violent psychopaths, the Judges of Mega-City One develop an antidote. But with the airfield (no typo, I think MC2 may have only had one drokking airfield...) swarmed and unsafe, the only option is a land journey, across the radioactive wasteland of the Cursed Earth. Judge Dredd takes a few judges, robots, and a perp by the name of Spikes Harvey Rotten. Spikes was a biker and smuggler, familiar with the threats out there, and is conscripted as a guide.

By this point, Dredd and Rotten have picked up an amusing furry alien named Tweak, and made it all the way to Las Vegas, which is almost an oasis of civilization. Well, it is crammed full of gambling and the mob-Judges rule; but Dredd enters the yearly gang-fight for the title of God-Judge. Winning, he turns the city over to the League Against Gambling, and sets out on the final leg of the journey, through Death Valley.

On a brief stop for repairs, Rotten tries to teach Tweak basic math, only to discover the alien is far more intelligent than he let on. He explains that when humans reached his world, he used his precognitive powers to see what would happen if his people made contact with the humans, and saw that it probably wouldn't go well. But then, Tweak's children, and then wife, were captured by the humans, leaving him a terrible choice: tell the humans they are intelligent, and possibly open the door to humans overrunning his planet...or pretend to be dumb animals, and be taken to their terrible homeworld, earth.
I feel like that scientist all day, and I talk to people...

Taken to earth, scientists test the aliens, and while their instruments show them to be vastly intelligent, Tweak and his family continue to play dumb. Really dumb. Eventually, they are sold into slavery; with Tweak's children as pets to a spoiled little girl. Mistreated, they fight back, and Tweak only escapes after his family's death.

Rotten, rather unsympathetically, tries to get mining rights for Tweak's planet; Tweak surprisingly obliges. Dredd wonders why he would go through so much to keep his secret to tell them now: what's stopping Dredd from sending miners to his world? Tweak explains, he trusts Dredd; and Spikes won't be around long enough to tell anyone: he will die in Death Valley.

On day fifteen of their journey, Dredd and company reach Death Valley. Dredd stops to pay his respects to the fallen of the Battle of Armageddon: one hundred thousand Judges and Mega Troopers dead, lost in the final battle against the last President of the United States, "Bad Bob" Booth and his robot armies. (Although it's not spelled out here, the former government was irredeemably corrupt, and had to be replaced with the harsh but fair rule of the Judges.)

Unfortunately, a lot of those robots turn out to still be many that you wonder how the Judges won the previous battle. In short order, it's down to Dredd, Tweak, and Rotten. Make that just Dredd and Tweak.

Dressing Rotten in a spare uniform, Dredd and Tweak both take a package of vaccine, then send Rotten out in style on Dredd's Lawmaster bike, the set-up for that killer Bolland cover. The distraction covers their escape, but now Dredd and Tweak have to cover the last sixty miles through Death Valley, on foot, in three days or the vaccine will go bad. Dredd loses Tweak in a sandstorm...

Judge Dredd #8 ends on a nail-biter; but it would be years before I'd get to read the conclusion: I kept reading Dredd, but that issue kept eluding me. Worse? There was only like seven or eight pages left 'til the end! But I'm still OK with this being my first Dredd read: nothing wrong with starting strong. Written by John Wagner and Pat Mills, art by Mike McMahon, Brian Bolland, and Dave Gibbons.

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Friday, January 07, 2011

Wait, a double-sized chapter...alright, whatever.

What is that troll doing there? They keep turning up...
Previously, as Blood and Thunder thunders on, Thanos encased Thor in a 'time-stasis block.' The next step seems pretty straight-forward: take Thor to Odin, but it doesn't go that well. The Silver Surfer, Warlock and the Infinity Watch, and Dr. Strange arrive on the rainbow bridge Bifrost; but seeing them with Thanos, Odin jumps to the conclusion that they plan on using Thor as a hostage...for some reason, presumably to fill forty pages and justify a die-cut cover.
Granted, this is a fight issue, but that's the only dialog Balder and the Warriors Three get in this crossover.
The forces of Asgard, including Balder and the Warriors Three, attack; and over the course of battle Dr. Strange, Moondragon, and Gamora are knocked out. (Moondragon and Strange in particular, since normally they probably could've stopped the fight cold.) Thanos pulls Maxam (a mysterious addition to the Watch) out of the fighting to take over monitoring Thor's prison; and he and the Surfer face off against Odin. The Surfer goes down early, but Thanos goes several rounds before Sif and Beta Ray Bill break it up. (Early on, Sif had been concerned that taking Thor to Odin might mean her beloved's death: Thor had the "warrior's madness," and may have had to be put down.)
Some of these hits would be outright fatal; but that is a good offensive use for Volstagg.

Odin wonders how his son could've come to such a lowly state, and Warlock, Strange, and the Surfer put it squarely on Odin. Over the years, Odin altered and manipulated Thor's mind many times; but the good news is he might not have true warrior's madness and may be savable. Odin tries it, fails, and proclaims "Thor must die!" within three pages...

As happens time to time in superhero comics, some of the heroes are taken out way too easily this month, in order to keep the issue from being over in three panels; while others (Cough! Thanos!) are maybe a bit over-powered. (Although, Thanos may have had an ace in the hole here that wasn't mentioned...) All-seeing, all-knowing, all-father Odin...screws up like your average mortal, a couple of times as well.
I'd buy an action figure of Lord Abyss, if he came with that bottle...
Also, since I mentioned them last time: in the book's regular plotline, Lord Abyss and his somewhat-oblivious girl Lady Maya, plot against Warlock, with a cool-looking bottle of wine. Uh-huh...well, Abyss seems pretty impressed with it, anyway, but I don't know how that played out.

From Warlock and the Infinity Watch #25, "Raid on Asgard" Written by Jim Starlin, pencils by Angel Medina, inks by Bill Anderson. (Per GCD, the issue itself credits Bob Almond, the regular inker.) Read more!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

"One Guy's Opinion."

Mr. Gardner's opinions are his solely his own and not those of this blog, DC Comics, or America. OK, we weren't really behind this week...but it's funnier this way.

After years of being a colossal jerk (at best) and doing some pretty questionable things Guy Gardner shouldn't be anyone's favorite Green Lantern. And yet...when he returned in Justice League and Crisis on Infinite Earths and was a braindead, right-wing, bully; Guy would loudly and often proclaim he was the greatest Green Lantern. Then Hal died, did the Spectre thing, came back; and now Geoff Johns loudly proclaims Hal's the greatest Green Lantern ever. Repeatedly.

While more GL strips here are inevitable, since I just bought seven and am looking for more; and I'm kind of excited for the movie (even if I'm more of a Thor fan...) I only read the Green Lantern comics occasionally. I just re-read part of the Sinestro War, which was kind of cool; and Green Lantern #55, a fairly recent issue with Lobo.

Pros: the art is pretty good, and so is the color, which has to be tough when every panel "looks like god puked up a rainbow," to paraphrase Lobo there. The Sinestro Corps? Still think that was a great idea, that I'm surprised it took so long to come around. The Red Lanterns aren't as novel, but seem like decent bad guys. I even like seeing Star Sapphire, since she was a pretty big villain when I was reading Green Lantern Corps.

Cons: I'd give you a Star Sapphire Corps, or whatever, but do they need rings and their own Lanterns and whatnot? Does everyone? The blue and indigo rings seem particularly useless to me, and while black and white rings were inevitable, I don't care. Larfleeze, the greedy Orange Lantern, seems mildly entertaining...but didn't he kill a bunch of people? Ditto Sinestro: under some directive from the mysterious White Lantern, Hal was working with Sin in #55, but I know Sinestro blew up Kilowog's homeworld and people back in Green Lantern Corps #218. (Maybe they got better: Kilowog was pretty dead for a while there too, and he's fine.) I don't care if the fate of the universe is on the line, I don't care if God, Ben Kenobi, and the ghost of Tom Landry told Hal to, I would not abide Sinestro roaming around free.

Of course, Sinestro's origin appears to have been altered a bit as well: previously, he had just been a power-mad maniac, and to some extent still is. But now he claims to still believe in the Guardians' dream of an intergalactic peacekeeping force; just a meaner, fear-mongering, lethal-force using, freedom-stomping one. I suspect this is Johns' doing; since he seems to add a tragic element to as many origins as he can: Larfleeze was seemingly a goofy, greedy grub; and he ended his Christmas special crying over his lost family. (Whom I'm guessing he killed.) Dex-starr, the Red Lantern hate cat, is given a tearjerker origin; I was kind of hoping he was just crazy mean.

Anyway, more rambling on this, the next Green Lantern strip...whenever that may be.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Brown is great at this kind of page, I'm telling you...
I mentioned this issue the last time we mentioned Nick Fury: issue #39, part three of the four-part "Cold War of Nick Fury." And this issue was written off as a lie told by Nick Fury: while being questioned by a questionable group of spooks, Fury spins this little yarn, since he knows any real intelligence operatives would know it was baloney. At least, that's how it was spun, which isn't the worst way of fixing continuity.

Working undercover in Vienna in 1953, Fury is on his way to a dead-drop pickup, when another agent gives Fury a new assignment. The other agent goes to the pickup, and is killed in place of Fury; while Fury begins training with a band of specialists, to blow a dam near Pyongyang, North Korea. While bombers would be flying a raid, they were going to blow it from the inside. Fury's team makes it out, but half are killed when their bomb goes off.

Finishing the story, Fury explains the destruction of the dam did a lot of damage to the countryside; between that and a crop failure, "a lot of North Koreans went hungry that year." The spook says America wouldn't target the crops of civilians...Fury does have a pretty big grin in the end, that may hint he was lying and the retraction the next issue was planned, but I'm not sure.

This issue is a dense read, more wordy than the average comic, but not in a bad or overblown way. The art is a little bare-bones, but it does the job. This kind of straight-espionage story can be done with Nick Fury, but I think a bit more flamboyance is expected--there's no flying cars, helicarrier, or babes in this one.

From Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #39, "The Cold War of Nick Fury, part three: A Hunger for Freedom." Written by Eliot Brown and Don Sharp, art by Don Hudson.

Oh, and I found this issue, not at the comic shop, but in the dollar store; bagged with a copy of Jim Lee's X-Men #2. Last time I was there, they had a good batch of Magneto #0, a foil-covered thing; and Infinity War #2, an issue I love.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2011

"The End" Week: Was last week...

And yet, all that's next to my computer right this minute? Last issues that I'll have to save until next year. Had a couple others even half-written, but they'll keep as well.

This is that time of year again where I start working overtime, so for the next day or two, I'll probably be working late. As it's been bitterly cold here, it's not a great loss. But we might dog out a day or two. Like this one!

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