Thursday, March 31, 2011

Azazel, week five! I take a "Draco" shaped bullet for you...

Shakespeare can't be thrilled by this.
Another Thursday, another chapter of "The Draco," until my penance is complete. From Uncanny X-Men #433, "The Draco, part five." Written by Chuck Austen, art by Philip Tan. This issue returns to the Polaris subplot from part three, and nurse Annie realizes her son Carter is missing. (For the last three months worth of issues, which unintentionally makes Annie look like a terrible mom.) He stowed along with the X-Men that went looking for the missing Kurt, and is currently in Azazel's dungeon with Husk, Jubilee, Havok, and the severed head of Iceman. Currently psychic (Carter's powers seemed to come and go, and I'm not positive he actually was a mutant) Carter can hear Iceman complain he doesn't have enough moisture to reform his body. Oh, and Havok sucks for stealing two consecutive girlfriends from him. (Maybe not consecutive, but if you're still mad about something like that, chances are you don't get a lot of action.) Havok offers to help Iceman reconstitute himself, since he had a lot to drink on the flight there...and this is why Uncanny X-Men hasn't been Marvel's flagship title for the last ten years or so.

Meanwhile, in the other ongoing subplot, Alpha Flight fights Juggernaut; which is made rather confusing since Northstar arrived with Juggernaut and is on his side; while Sasquatch is wearing a big, dumb-looking suit of armor with a helmet like Juggernaut's. I had considered going back through and counting how many pages total in "The Draco" actually are "The Draco," and how many are the Juggernaut or Polaris subplots; but I'll be damned if I'm going back through these now...
Isn't that Havok in that panel?  No, he's still in the dungeon.
Back at my dinner with Azazel, Angel is pissed over the archeology professor's death--I'm not sure he had a name, though--and Jillian keeps hitting on Kurt, which is inappropriate considering the situation and that they are almost certainly related. (Doesn't matter, since I don't think we see her again after this scene.) Talking through it, Kurt realizes if Azazel is 'Satan,' it's not really in the biblical sense, but Azazel is a mutant from biblical times.

Azazel says yes, explaining that he was 'cast out' by 'angels,' another group of mutants. He asks our Angel what he knows of his lineage, and Angel clams up, so Azazel gives him to one of his men for torture. Logan is stabbed through the back and pinned, and Azazel helpfully suggests removing his arms at the shoulder joint and then cauterizing the stumps. But, Azazel points out, Logan may be the only toy they get for "the next twenty or more years."

Later, Kiwi Black, Abyss, and Kurt have an almost friendly expository chat with Azazel; rather out of place considering Kurt's friends are probably being tortured right then. Kiwi, who has been the stolic, silent warrior-type so far here; had failed in guarding the dimensional gateway. Although, Kiwi doesn't act like that was his idea either; so Azazel refers him to torture too. Now with two sons left, Azazel explains how the X-Men destroyed the dimensional gateway--somehow, since I don't seem to recall them really doing anything this whole story--and this dimension is the same one that Kurt teleports through and Abyss sucks stuff into. That doesn't really track, either, since we saw Abyss spit Mystique out two chapters back, she wasn't already there. Azazel can see our world, but can't get back, until he breeds another batch of teleporters to poke a hole through as a group.

Meanwhile, Professor X, Polaris, and nurse Annie arrive on the Isla des Demonas. The Professor can't sense them, but Polaris can feel a "spatial rip" and pokes it with her magnetic powers so they can see Azazel and Kurt's conversation. Azazel explains that Kurt's stepmom Margali opened the portal once, and that he totally hit that, but alone none of them can get through without some help from the earth side. Which Polaris is doing, opening a hole in be concluded!

I'm pretty sure this is the issue that broke the suspension of disbelief for Paul O'Brien of the X-Axis into a million pieces: if Azazel was able to get through before, how did he end up back? And he was able to get back to earth to father a batch of kids, so why can't he get back now? Azazel mentions seeing satellite photos of earth; but how? (That could possibly be justified by him looking through at earth, but if he can see earth at will to that detail, he should be able to figure something out.) It could be lampshaded that Azazel needs a bunch of teleporter kids to open a big enough hole to get his whole army through, but it looked like he had an army there for the first fight, and he's still acting like he can't get through. Where did Azazel's army go, anyway?

This issue sucks. The art sucks, the story sucks, the ongoing storyline sucks, the subplots suck, and the characterization sucks. Suuuuuuuuuuuuck. Worst of all, Austen and Tan were both capable of better work; they just needed an editor to crack them on the knuckles and make them do it again. There might have been a germ of a good idea in there at some point, but the execution just failed. One more to go, then I'm going to deny this storyline ever existed, a point Marvel Comics and I seem to agree far.

Oh, and Azazel in X-Men: First Class, the movie? I'd bet he's there for a few minutes of teleportation action, like Nightcrawler's kickass opener in X2, and that's that. Just a guess.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

"Drinks for everyone!"

Dale from Mr. Morbid's House of Fun asked me what I used for drinks in my posts, and that struck me as a good excuse to be lazy as usual chance to be educational for a change! A great source of beer for your figures: McFarlane's Strange Brew figures from a few years back. I got them just for the accessories, and Bob and Doug McKenzie came with a pile: chairs, a cooler, a camp stove and food, a 'Great White North' backdrop, and beer, beer, beer. Longneck and short bottles, and cardboard cases. I know I gave a friend the figures, but they weren't bad; I just had what I needed. Another quick fix: Playmates Simpsons figures! Homer, Moe, and Barney, among others, will come with a nice frosty mug: it may be a little cartoony for your tastes, but it works. I know the jug's from Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel; but I'm at a loss for the moment as to who had the flask. Pretty sure it's from the Simpsons... There's others, some of which I'll have to try and find another time. And of course, if you have a modicum of craft in you, you may be able to knock out your own: I used to have a couple homemade bottles, cobbled together from old ads. For some reason, perennial Hulk villain the Gremlin had a bottle of MD 20/20 for several years, but trust me, if you looked like him you'd drink too. Read more!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Apparently, 80's Marvel wanted you to blow stuff up.

Where the hell are they?  Tatooine? So, last week we mentioned Mysterio faking a fire with flour, which you absolutely still shouldn't try at home. And today, we have another example of Marvel Comics all-but-encouraging you to blow crap up with common household products: from G.I. Joe Special Missions #13, "Washout" Written by Larry Hama, pencils by Herb Trimpe, inks by Andy Mushynsky. On a mission in "Trucial Abysmia," Joe veterans Dusty and Outback are on a mission with "probational" new Joes Lightfoot and Mangler. Spotted by a chance patrol, the mission goes south quickly, and the team is captured. Under torture, Lightfoot gives up the mission objectives: an American weapons cache, leftover from the previous regime. As a corrupt political officer makes for the cache, his captain refuses to execute the Joes, and instead leaves them in the desert with a single canteen, to make it to safety. Instead, they push on to destroy the cache; unarmed, without explosives, provisions, or transport... I'm going on a watchlist now, aren't I? Lightfoot has to cobble together an explosive device to take out the cache, which should maybe be easier than he makes it sound here, since the political officer mentioned there were sidewinder missiles in there. But there's a bit of drama, some helpful desert survival tips from Dusty (that you probably also shouldn't try...) and a good, solid issue. Just keep it under your hat. Read more!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Easily mistakable for classic Conan:

It's Barry Windsor-Smith, artist of Marvel's first Conan the Barbarian comics (and a ton of other stuff) but this time on story and art, for 1995's Conan vs. Rune.

Possibly because I recently re-read Smith and Roy Thomas's adaptation of "Red Nails," the story and the art here reminded me of that one: travelling through the Turanian desert, Conan approaches a camp, only to find it deserted. Spying a jewel, the usually canny barbarian is lured into a trap, set by the alien vampire Rune, who has already eaten most of the local populace. (Rune's killed them all, he just hasn't eaten all of them yet...)

I don't know all of Rune's story, even though I think I have a couple issues of Curse of Rune since I like the Kyle Hotz art. Rune's power level varied wildly, though: along with this brawl with Conan, he also fought Venom, Adam Warlock, and the Silver Surfer. Not in any particular order, either...

No offense to the colorist, but man, I bet this'd look great in black-and-white. Story and art by Barry Windsor-Smith, with ink assist by Alex Bialy.
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Shortlist: Why writers should do research.

He was a mystery writer that became a mystery man to research a book. Oh, and help people and fight Nazis and junk. From DC Comics All-Star Squadron and the Golden Age, the Tarantula!

Mystery writer Jonathan Law happened to see the Golden Age Sandman in action, which gave him the idea to give costumed vigilantism a try. Putting together a costume, suction cups for climbing walls, and a cable-shooting web gun; Law took the identity of the Tarantula. He would become a member of the wartime All-Star Squadron, and unlike a goodly portion of DC's Golden Age characters, Law would get old and eventually die in the pages of Nightwing. (Maybe. Even that was left open...)

The Tarantula's never had a huge presence in comics, but it's a cool costume and a good hook. I just picture him at the All-Star Squadron meetings taking insane amounts of notes, then having to make up some lame reason why.

Scans from All-Star Squadron #66, "The Origin of Tarantula," written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Alan Kupperburg, inks by Tony DeZunga; and Nightwing #40, "The Devil Dies at Dawn!" Written by Chuck Dixon, art by Scott McDaniel and Hector Collazo.

Oddly, it's been kind of a slow year for figures (for me, anyway) so far; I think I've written more of these Shortlists than I've bought figures. Well, maybe not, but it's close. Maybe I will cave on a couple figures I need to complete a Build-a-Figure...

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Azazel, week four! The things I do for you people...

This counts as a birthday and a Christmas present: Uncanny X-Men #432, "The Draco, part four." Written by Chuck Austen, art by Philip Tan. The narration spills the beans on where the X-Men are, as you've probably guessed: Azazel's dimension. He's been trying to use his words to rein in his men, without a lot of success, as they continue fighting the X-Men. With the exception of Jillian, who appears to be hitting on the still-pantsless Nightcrawler. Azazel finally has to use a big lightning-special-effect to stop the brawl; but says the portal to earth is closed and he's tired, so how's about dinner later? He 'invites' Kiwi Black, Abyss, and some people we actually recognize:

Azazel suggests throwing the rest in "the tombs," or whatever. Then, six pages of Juggernaut and Northstar showing up to visit fishboy Sammy Pare, and realizing he's being abused. The mom frantically scrambles to find a beeper that I think is supposed to look like a maple leaf but looks like the Image Comics 'i' wearing a headdress.

At dinner, Azazel wants to speak to the team's leader, and Kurt says something wishy-washy about "Can't we all just be equals?" Angel instead cuts to the chase and asks who Azazel thinks he is, and he straight-up tells them:
That panel of Azazel? Good. That last panel of Mystique? Not good.
Azazel cops to being the daddy for Kiwi Black, Abyss, and several others. He explains that his telepath Ginniyeh prevents lies in her presence, and goes on to explain that he saved Kurt after Mystique threw him off a waterfall as a baby, and gave him to "an old friend." Kurt is appalled that Margali knows Azazel and lied about how she found him. Still, Kurt should know his stepmom is a little sketchier than he had believed; as she was up to some shady business in Excalibur and some stories Austen wrote.

Angel tries to bring the conversation back to who Azazel is, and this time, Azazel says Satan. The archeology professor calls bull, and is killed for his trouble. Azazel advises against anyone else calling him a liar at his own dinner table; which admittedly does seem fair.

Meanwhile, Alpha Flight shows up to protect a child abuser, in case you thought Bendis killing them off off-panel was the worst thing to ever happen to them. Actually, if they weren't in Canada and Northstar didn't call them that, you wouldn't recognize them as Alpha Flight at all, since there's only three of them, they didn't bring Puck, and they're wearing terrible battle armor. Even Sasquatch.

Whatever Azazel did in the two-page spread of him shooting lightning, he is never seen doing again. Nor is it explained how he was holding the portal open, or why he and his crew (most of whom I'm not going to bother typing the names of) weren't waiting and ready when it opened. I had thought "the Draco," if that is the group name of Azazel's crew, were mostly his children; but some may merely be other mutants, possibly also from biblical times. I get that feeling since Azazel talks to some of them like they were drinking buddies, not family; and the whole lot seem rather undisciplined.

Almost chapter next week!

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Super-Monitor Duty."

Ah...children are the future.
Future of my mothersmurfing ulcer...
I've been enjoying the new Young Justice cartoon, and one interesting bit in that series has been how Superman is completely uncomfortable with the idea of being a mentor or father figure to his clone, Superboy. Admittedly, his discomfort is not entirely unreasonable; but I think the Superman of the comics wouldn't have been taken aback for more than a moment, before warmly accepting Superboy.

Of course, the downside to Superman's characterization there is that between Young Justice and Superman Returns, Supes really seems like a deadbeat dad... Read more!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Yeah, I totally tried that at home.

Throw the flour, or non-dairy creamer, or other powder in the air in a fine cloud; and light it with a match.  It'll go fooomph!  Please don't do this, for the love of god.
My mom doesn't read my blog, and should especially not read today's entry. Especially since she used to say "Play with fire, wet the bed," which none of my friends had ever heard before and thought was the funniest damn thing ever. But I had to try this out, with non-dairy creamer, which is surprisingly flammable if you do it right. (I did have enough sense to try it outside, so I didn't burn my house down...)

Mysterio shows kids the way to fake a surprise fire, in Questprobe #2 of all places. Also this issue: a pretty good recap of the then-current Spider-Man storylines, some nonsense related to a game you're never going to play, and some really subtle product placement:

I of course mean the kid referring to a Spaldeen brand ball.

Oddly, this is about the most effective I've ever seen Mysterio be; unless you count him giving Daredevil the what-for, which I don't. Here, he knocks out a quick, and surprisingly brutal trick:
I thought Mysterio maybe could've poisoned the needles Spidey mentions, but that would've triggered his Spider-sense.
From Questprobe #2, "Mysterio Times Two!" Written and pencilled by Al Milgrom, inks by Jim Mooney.

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Kull's relationship status? Single. And probably gonna stay that way...

The last time we did a post on Robert E. Howard's Kull the Conqueror (or, at least, Marvel's rendition of him) we mentioned Kull didn't have Conan's luck with the ladies. For example, in "The Blood of Kings," Kull meets the love of his life in an arranged royal marriage, only to lose her on their wedding day. She was stabbed to death by a werewolf, then Kull had to stab her again when she came back as a werewolf...and that still went better than Kull's next attempt at dating.

Attending a royal wedding with his advisor Tu and sidekick Brule the Spear-slayer; Kull is almost enjoying himself. Then the Atlantean contingent arrives, including Ku-var, "a man legendary for cruelty," and a smoking hot babe, Iraina.
Big John Buscema, just killing it.
More after the break!

Tu drops the exposition; that Iraina was of a rival tribe, but sold out her people to Ku-var. Later that evening, as a sparring tournament goes on, Kull picks Brule as his champion. Ku-var picks Iraina as Brule's opponent, but Brule refuses to fight a woman. Even a woman that cuts him. Repeatedly. Humiliated, Brule sulks off; and one of Ku-var's slaves approaches Kull. It's Ram-os, shaman of Kull's old tribe, and he warns Kull of Iraina.

Returning home to Valusia, Kull gets back to the work of king; but Brule plans on quitting. Kull tries to talk him out of it, when a torn and bleeding Ram-os stumbles in. He tells of Ku-var's return to his kingdom, and how Ku-var had decided it was time to take his relationship with Iraina to the next level. It didn't go as well as he might have hoped:
Admittedly, that's a hell of an entrance.
Ram-os says Iraina killed most, if not all of Ku-var's men, and now has an army of women. Kull has a pretty good laugh about that, but Ram-os warns that Iraina has the same totem as Kull, the tiger. Iraina's army proves to be quite effective, especially since the women can turn into tigers, and they maul several opposing armies, as Kull inexplicably sees in his nightmares; but they leave no living witnesses.
This reminds me of the illustrations in the old Conan paperbacks, for some reason.
A traitorous nobleman (like nine out of ten noblemen in Kull stories) approaches Iraina, to arrange a meeting between her and Kull. Before the meet, Brule follows Ram-os out to a ceremony with Iraina's army. Afterwards, Brule catches the old man, who drops some backstory: years ago, he predicted a child would be born during the full moon, and would grow up to rule the whole continent. The chief at the time wasn't having that, and ordered any children born at the time sacrificed to the tigers. One child, of course, was Kull, who would be raised by the tigers for some years; the other was Iraina, who Ram-os raised on black magic and tiger milk. While Kull would meet Ram-os later, he would end up leaving the tribe; and Iraina would eventually become a complete psycho, but maybe a ruling psycho.
John Buscema should've painted that on a van, or an album cover. That tiger is pissed...
Iraina and Kull are twins, and convinced only one can rule, Ram-os had been sending Kull the nightmares. Brule goes to warn his king of not only the danger, but also that he's about to try and bust a move on his sister. Kull is regretting not implementing any leash laws as he's attacked by Iraina's tiger; but Brule arrives in time to help kill her pet. Wait, not pet, mate. This just gets more awkward...

As Iraina's tiger army blitzes the city, Kull is forced to fight his sister to the death. Snapping her neck, Iraina's tiger army turns back into women (and Kull's army thankfully doesn't simply murder them at that point) and Ram-os explains it was always Kull's destiny to rule, the old shaman dying without Iraina's vitality to keep him going. The tale ends, as many Kull stories do, with a gloomy, sullen Kull on his throne; which is fair enough considering this one.

From Kull the Conqueror #1, "Eye of the Tigress" Written by Bruce Jones and April Campbell, pencils by John Buscema, inks by Bob Wiacek and Dan Green. This was Kull volume three, cover-dated May 1983. And I'm absolutely sure this had nothing at all to do with the title, from the year prior:


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Friday, March 18, 2011

Shortlist: He's Marvel's, not Moon Knight!

Nighthawk! Shown here in a badly retouched version of Erik Larsen's Defenders #5 cover.

I don't know if everyone likes his costume, especially the little wings on the mask, but I love the old-school, proper superhero look of it. Originally the bad guy Batman-analogue in the Squadron Sinister, Kyle Richmond would have a long and usually punishing trek to becoming a superhero. At various times, he's been a fake pretending to be a hero, a Defender, paralyzed by day, dead, stuck in hell, back alive with precognitive visions from Mephisto, and a Defender again. And all of that is before we even consider the various Squadron Supreme versions or the replacement Nighthawk. As such, his high and low points are subject to taste.

Kyle had a modified costume in his 1998 limited series, which was fine there, but lacks the charm of the jetpack-and-laser equipped cape he usually sports. Besides, it had a utility belt, even though I don't think he's ever been seen using one. (I have the same quibble for Captain America, for that matter.) Panel from The Order #2, "It's Our World" Written by Jo Duffy and Kurt Busiek, pencils by Chris Batista, inks by Dan Panosian.

Nighthawk's pretending to be a hero, while running a protection racket for crooks...which may have been a new plot then, but it's iffy. Heck, I do kinda like his old-school outfit, from when Kyle was still a bad guy, in this scan from "Quoth the Nighthawk, 'Nevermore!'" Originally from Daredevil #62, written by Roy Thomas, art by Gene Colan, inks by Syd Shores. And getting him would help fill out the Defenders roster on your action figure shelves. 'Course, then you'd absolutely need a Hellcat...but considering they haven't had a proper Defenders team in years, a Marvel Legends two-pack of Nighthawk and Hellcat seems like a longshot. Pity, since I think they look cool enough to sell even without a major comics presence. Maybe someday.

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Azazel, week three! Maybe he appears this issue...

And Jubilee gets another checkmark on her list of 'X-Men I've seen naked.'
Sigh. I was watching the Losers while I wrote these posts, and now it's over...and I still have four issues to go. You know, I often regret my decision to avoid swearing on my blog, because this seems like the time for it. We're up to "The Draco, part three" from Uncanny X-Men #431, written by Chuck Austen, art Philip Tan.

After a traumatizing little flashback with Polaris--she found out Magneto was her father, and went to Genosha to confront him just in time to arrive when the island was destroyed, as seen in New X-Men--the X-Men find themselves somewhere else. Warren has Iceman's head, but thinks Bobby's dead, even though he's still blinking and trying to talk. Nightcrawler is himself again, although the faceless nobodies he was linked to in the teleport circle thing are dead. (Or, at least most of them.) In fact, wasn't there an army of demony-types last time? Well, they're gone and won't come up again, so leave it.

Angel offers to cut Kurt free, as the other mutant's hand has melted to Kurt's. (Why the Angel has a sword...again, I'm not going to dwell on it.)

And Azazel finally appears! He admits he should've anticipated that the X-Men might have seen and followed Kurt, but doesn't appear especially worried about it. One of his crew calls Angel a "Cheyarafim," but Azazel corrects him, Angel is too young to be whatever that is. Angel offers to use his healing blood on Kurt's hands, because at the time, that's what Warren's blood did; but it burns Kurt. Jillian, a female Nightcrawler-type with wings, screams "Death to all angels!" and it's on...after nine more pages of subplots with Sammy Pare, Juggernaut, and Polaris.
It was mentioned that Mystique was sucked into Abyss, but not what issue, so...
As fighty-time ensues, Azazel tries to regain control of his crew; and Jubilee asks Abyss, the noseless blue kid from the first chapter of this, what, if anything, he can do. Abyss says he can open up holes that suck stuff in. Where does it go? He admits he doesn't know, he never got anything back. He tries it, but starts spitting stuff back out, like his neighbor's dog (alive? Hard to tell.) and Mystique. (Obviously alive, despite being trapped in whatever for however long without food or water, because everyone loves Mystique.)

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Twenty zombie books on the market...but the best of them is back!

Rabbi Sinnowitz hates Brother Voodoo.  And Robert Kirkman.  They know why.
From Xombi #17, "Hidden Cities, Chapter 1: Prophecies" Written by John Rozum, art by J.J. Birch. We've run this page before here, and it's from the old series, but Xombi is back! Returning writer and creator John Rozum and new artist Fraser Irving bring back the unkillable David Kim and throw him back in the weird end; and it's a damn good issue.

I do wish DC Comics would give this book a bit more of a push; maybe by getting reprints of the old series out there. I also really, really encourage you to give Xombi a try, if for nothing else, I'm tired of books I like getting cancelled. My pull list reads like a graveyard...

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"More Doom Idol."

I wasn't sure if I was going to do another Doom Idol, but then I remembered poor Steel. I think I'm confusing Citizen Steel and the Steel that died in the Justice League Detroit: Steel was a cyborg, with metal bones; while his grandfather had some augmentation as well, but the current Citizen Steel was a metahuman with steel-hard skin and muscles. Doesn't matter; by any other name, Steel is so dead he's alive. Just like the previous two models, he is a lock to be killed in some stupid future crossover, anniversary event, or maybe crossing the street. Why not in the Doom Patrol, then?

By the way, be sure to check out Cliff's drink on the table...

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hey, remember M-Tech? Oh, you do not.

Not one of Marvel's most popular attempts at a line of books, no; although to be fair, it wasn't the least popular, either. That's faint praise, just saying it wasn't bad enough to be memorable; and neither Deathlok (not featuring the traditional zombie-like cyborg we know) nor Warlock (not the Adam Warlock version) nor today's book lasted long: X-51, featuring Machine Man.

I had a full run of this at some point, although it only lasted a mere twelve issues. I do believe the sales were remarkably poor, considering Machine Man was coming out of crossovers with the X-Men and Cable; and the book featured guest appearances from the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and Mystique, the Vision and the Avengers, and the X-Men. That said, poor X-51 spent a good chunk of his first eight or nine issues controlled by Bastion's Prime Sentinel/Zero Tolerance programming nonsense, which was trying to turn him into a mutant-killer. Worse, his redesign/makeover didn't do him any favors, either: Aaron looked less advanced than he had under Jack Kirby, more like a purple Robocop with no helmet. (This may have been intentional: give him a scary and intimidating design while he turns heel, then a dramatic and heroic redesign when he turns back.
Here, Nightcrawler saves Jubilee, but don't let that put you off the comic...
Through most of the series, Special Agent Jack Kubrick tries to piece together X-51's story; Jack's name being a nod to his creator Jack Kirby and 2001 director Stanley Kubrick. (Remember, whether you call him Mr. Machine, Machine Man, Aaron Stack, or X-51, he first appeared in 2001 #8.) HAL is also name-checked this issue, X-51 #8, "Aftermath" Written by Karl Bollers, art by Joe Bennett and Bob Wiacek. Falling under control of the Sentinel programming, X-51 fights the X-Men, in a story that I believe takes place concurrently with the Apocalypse: the Twelve storyline. This squad, having rescued Wolverine from his role as the Horseman Death, wandered around the outskirts of the rest of that storyline doing their own thing, which I like.

X-51 would get another new look, closer to his old, before the end of the series; but he was also one of the narrators in Earth X at the time, with a completely different look. There, he was transparent and inhuman; and later still he would get probably his most popular design, in Nextwave. Sometimes, these things take a few tries.
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Monday, March 14, 2011

You'd think superheroes would be a more helpful lot, but nooooo.

You know how in ye olden comics, whenever Spider-Man (or whoever) was in over his head, and he'd try to get the Avengers or the Fantastic Four for help, and they were conveniently out of town? (Because it was Spidey's comic, and he was going to have to man up and deal with the problem himself.)

Yeah, comics don't do that anymore. Now, when the main characters go to other heroes for help, it's so the other heroes can be snarky douchebags and not help, at all, ever. (Again, forcing the main characters to do it alone, which makes sense dramatically.) Case in point: the latest issue of Doom Patrol, #20. "With Friends Like These..." Written by Keith Giffen, with art by Matthew Clark, Ron Randall, Scott Clark, Jose Luis, Scott McDaniel, Art Thibert, John Livesay, and Dave Beaty.

Deported from their base on Oolong Island (home of a ton of the DCU's mad scientists) and blacklisted as possible terrorists; the Doom Patrol looks for a little help from the Justice League, Beast Boy of the Teen Titans, and Batman. All of whom completely punk out.

Beast Boy would be OK with Rita staying, but can't speak for the rest of the Teen Titans--whoever they are, these days. Now, I will defend Robotman's visit to the Justice League going bad, as he is turned away by Congorilla. Seriously, Congorilla. If I'm in enough trouble that I need the Justice League, at the very least I expect a Green Lantern or a Hawkperson. Maybe Aquaman, if I'm within a hundred miles of the coast. Hell, I'd be just fine with Blue Beetle or Booster Gold, but if a talking gorilla shows up, I'm gonna be pissed. Given Cliff's history with Mallah, his request "Could I talk to somebody...not a gorilla?" seems completely reasonable.

Batman--and I'm assuming it was Dick, from Larry's description ("When did (Batman) stop looking like Clint Eastwood?") punking out is out of character, though. Bats says he doesn't want any heat following the DP and hitting Gotham; which would make sense if Batman thought his jurisdiction ended at the city limits. ("Go to Metropolis, that's somebody else's problem...") Especially given all the Batman, Inc. nonsense going on; you would think Larry, Cliff, and Rita would be given black costumes and utility belts...

I honestly thought Batman was going to drive Larry to the county line and tell him, "Stay out of Gotham, Hush."

In terms of storytelling value, the Doom Patrol not getting any help (from the heroes, anyway...) is a valid choice: sure, they could cry for Superman to help them every issue, but that wouldn't be a very good comic. Well, at least not a good Doom Patrol comic, anyway. I don't mind the Doom Patrol not getting help, but I do mind everyone not helping. Still, a solid issue, and I encourage you to pick it and the last two up while you still can.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Shortlist: She-Devil with no action figure?

Back in Marvel Toys first wave of Legendary Heroes, they made a Witchblade figure, even though she had her own line of figures from Moore Toys. But since Conan would get a figure later from Marvel Toys, I can not figure out why they went with Witchblade instead of Red Sonja.
It's not like Sonja is any less covered than Witchblade...well, maybe. And between the Brigette Nielsen movie version, the possibly-maybe upcoming new movie, and various other incarnations; I concede the rights for making an action figure of everyone's favorite chainmail-bikini wearing barbarian might be a tangle.
Although the later outfit (around the 80's, I think, shown here from the Official Handbook of the Conan Universe) doesn't look bad there, it would probably be a terrible idea to do a Red Sonja figure in anything other than said chainmail bikini; at least at first. It's her most iconic and lasting look, plain and simple. That said, there has been a variation or two, as seen in this oddball Frank Thorne story from Savage Sword of Conan #29.

Not to repeat rumors, but I did read somewhere that Shocker Toys was possibly hinting at giving Red Sonja her action figure due. But I don't think any announcement has been made or prototypes shown; and it's all too likely the prospect of movie licensing is holding her up. In the meantime, Mattel's Masters of the Universe Classics line is going to beat Sonja to the bikini-barbarian punch with Battleground Teela. That looks like it's going to be a sharp figure, but here's hoping Red Sonja sees the action figure aisle someday.

First scan from Dynamite's Red Sonja #0, written by Michael Avon Oeming with Mike Carey, art by Mel Rubi.
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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Azazel, week two! Maybe we find out why this arc is called "the Draco."

I don't know why Wolvie is doing a CSI-style 'Yeeeeah!' in that last panel.
Continuing our proof there is no God--I mean, our look at Azazel, in "The Draco"! Uncanny X-Men #430, "The Draco, part two." Written by Chuck Austen, art by Philip Tan.

Aaaaaand, this is gonna be a quick one, since the subplots take up the bulk of this issue, and I don't care. Mutant fishboy Sammy had become friends with Juggernaut and nurse Annie's son Carter, but was pulled from the Xavier Institute by his parents. Mostly so his dad could beat on him for being a mutant, perhaps not realizing his son's new friends...who I think were mentioned to him. So, the dad actually knows Sammy is tight with Juggernaut, yet still gives him the hassle, which is a firm commitment to his racism.

'Xorn' makes an appearance, showing up to help work on Polaris's mind (which I don't think he does, he makes snippy comments and leaves) and accuse Annie of anti-mutant racism. Carter, who has psychic powers now, stowed away with the X-Men and watches the team try to pull Kurt out. It doesn't go well.

Apparently, there's an army of demony-types, while Kurt and the other teleporters are locked in a circle. Iceman is hit with an exploding arrow and blows up. Husk can't break Kurt's grip and is hit from behind, and Angel freaks out a bit, since he'd been sleeping with the much younger Paige Guthrie. In a flash of light, they all disappear, leaving a huge hole. To be continued...? Only because I'm writing these all at once.

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

"Doom Idol."

A bit of fun today, although it's also a bitter rant about not (at least yet) getting a figure of Rita, Elasti-Woman. (Of course, if and when she ever does come out, expect a bitter rant about having to buy all the figures to get the parts to build her...)

Metamorpho has hung out with the Doom Patrol on a couple of occasions at least: during the Silver Age event and later in John Byrne's run on the book. The figure I used wasn't the Collect-and-Connect DCUC one, but the older DC Direct model. Which has more of a cheery, Silver Age feel, so yeah.

Like I've mentioned, for me the Doom Patrol is Larry, Cliff, and Rita; and any other member is just a guest or a temp. Would I feel differently if I read (or re-read) Grant Morrison's version, or Arcudi's, or Byrne's? But it sure as heck couldn't hurt sales if the Doom Patrol maybe added an established DC character (i.e. someone with their own fans...) into the lineup, even for a bit. That said, if they did try to add a female character, most of DC's heroines would be bigger names than the Patrol, and they'd be demoted to "...and the" status. I don't know how, say, Catwoman and the Doom Patrol would work, but I gotta say, I'd try it.
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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Dues. Paying the dues...

Before finally hitting it big with the Secret Six, Catman went through a long stretch as a joke, an embarassment. He was made to look like a jackass in Green Arrow and it looked like angry French gorilla Monsieur Mallah was going to kill him; but that would go on Catman's highlight reel before today's page: from Green Lantern 80-Page Giant #1, "Whatever Happened to G'Nort?" Written by Ty Templeton, pencils by John Lowe, inks by John Lowe.

This isn't a red-letter day for G'Nort, either: after Emerald Twilight, power rings stopped working, and G'Nort was not only stuck on earth, homeless and broke, but he was also losing control of his impulses and acting like a big, doofy dog. Chasing cars, sleeping in alleys, sniffing butts...

That doesn't make a helluva lot of sense, since G'Nort was an alien...although, maybe his whole race was like that? Or maybe earth's atmosphere and conditions affected his species? Or maybe G'Nort was just a bit off.

Oddly, G'Nort's defeated Catman and Black Hand, before either got big.

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Well, here's a cheery little page for Monday morning.

From Doom Patrol #1, written by Paul Kupperberg, pencils by Steve Lightle, inks by Gary Martin. Barring any appearances in Crisis or anything, I think this was the first Doom Patrol comic I ever read. And it does a pretty good job of recapping the first two versions of the team: the original and better-known with Elasti-girl, Negative Man, and Robotman; and version 2.0 with Celsius, Tempest, Negative Woman, and an uglier model of Robotman.

Fortunately, by this issue Cliff was back to his usual look. Celsius, who had claimed to be the wife of the Chief, Niles Caulder; reforms part of the team after finding the wreckage of his wheelchair. The original foursome sacrificed themselves to save a small town; with Robotman being salvaged and rebuilt later; but Celsius believed her husband survived as well. (The island is described as being in the Caribbean this issue, I believe most versions put it as being off Newfoundland or something.)

Surveying the area underwater, Cliff finds Rita's body...which seems to put the lie to a C.I.A. agent's claim to Negative Woman that "we searched that area with tweezers," if they didn't find the Chief's wheelchair or Rita's giant corpse...

The Doom Patrol makes the Suicide Squad look like longterm employment: among other members, Celsius, Negative Woman, and Tempest are all dead; and appeared as Black Lanterns. Still, with few exceptions, the team to me is Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-girl. I do wonder if they could add an established DC hero, though...
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Friday, March 04, 2011

Shortlist: No, not the one from the Incredibles...

Today's Shortlist candidate is one I was expecting to see, but hasn't turned up yet, and the name confusion with the Incredibles Elastigirl isn't helping: the Doom Patrol's Elasti-Woman, formerly Elasti-girl.
Man, I hate Mento even without his dumb helmet...
I love her current costume, and not merely because she's giving her ex Mento the heave-ho in it. Look, a fifty-foot tall woman probably might prefer not to wear a short skirt, right? Mind you, I'm not complaining...

In the original Doom Patrol stories, Rita Farr was an actress, who was exposed to strange gases and gained the ability to shrink and grow at will. She was the least freakish of her teammates (Robotman and Negative Man) but her identity was public, which may have made her feel more of an outcast than them. When the Doom Patrol sacrificed themselves to save a small town, Robotman and Negative Man would both return, while Rita was dead for many years, returning in Infinite Crisis and John Byrne's reboot.

Rita isn't front and center here, but it's a nice short of the old-school Patrol.
In Doom Patrol #13, "I'm Still Rita," the secret of her resurrection is revealed: the Chief, Niles Caulder, grew (or regrew) her from a piece of her skull and protoplasm. Like the rest of her teammates, she now struggles with the notion of how much of herself is really her. I picked up that issue last week, and enjoyed the hell out of it.

Unfortunately, although I just added Doom Patrol to my pull list; the book is scheduled to end with issue #22. Worse, although she did get a figure in the Justice League Unlimited line, Rita hasn't yet joined Robotman and Negative Man in the DC Universe Classics. While I have to figure most fans would prefer to have a Collect-and-Connect, I would be just as happy to have her regular-sized. While she can shrink, she doesn't seem to do that much anymore; and the DP has added old-school Teen Titan Bumblebee as a member. A plain Elasti-woman with a pack-in Bumblebee would be ideal for me.

Scans from Doom Patrol #13 and #6, "Negative Incentive" Written by Keith Giffen, art by Matthew Clark and Ron Randall, inks by John Livesay.
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