Thursday, June 30, 2011

This would get me to buy Marvel Universe figures again:

Over the last couple months, I've restrained from buying any 3 3/4 inch figures, like Star Wars, G.I. Joe, or Marvel Universe. Partly because I prefer the vaguely six-inch scale of Marvel Universe and DCUC, and partly to cheap out from buying the same characters multiple times. But, a couple of well-placed accessories would get me back on the Marvel Universe bandwagon...

This page is from Incredible Hercules #136, "Thorcules versus Hercuthor!" Written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente, pencils by Reilly Brown, inks by Nelson DeCastro. For reasons too complicated to go into, Hercules is disguised as Thor, which forces Thor to play along and dress up as Herc. The two face off in a match that "Thor" is supposed to lose, but it turns into a real fight in short order...maybe. Hilarity ensues.

Great issue, and one that would make a great comic two-pack for Thor and Hercules, if a couple of accessories were thrown in: alternate heads for "Thorcules" and "Hercuthor." Oh, and Mjolnir and Herc's mace, of course. (Despite appearances, both are using their traditional weapons, disguised...somehow.) The heads pop off the Marvel Universe figures I have, at the drop of a hat, and that would be a lot of fun.
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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Still More Doom Idol."

Over at Poe Ghostal's, along with a new Bastards of the Universe strip, there's another call for questions for Mattel. I swear I'm not the only one waiting for them to make an Elasti-Woman figure and complete the Doom Patrol. (I know some might want the Chief, but I'd survive; and you know how I feel about Mento.) I'm betting, best case, Rita's being pushed back so they can knock out some reboot/update figures. Yay, high collars!...or not.

But, we've got a few of these stocked up, so the Doom Patrol will probably have another tryout next week. Maybe even someone who wouldn't mind being on the team!

Does anyone remember an old Who's Who issue (probably the 1987 update #3) where the Creeper was featured as a Justice League member? As Jack Ryder, he was seen a few times before guesting in Justice League #6, but I didn't get the feeling they were offering him a spot. Which is just as well: the Creeper+the 'bwah-ha-ha!' League, would have been several steps over the top.
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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Strong enough for a man...I'm not finishing this joke.

This is why I hate to go outside too.
Another day, another oddball comic from the quarter bins. This time, we've got Lady Deadpool #1, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised." Written by Mary H.K. Choi, art by Ken Lashley, with inks by Tim Townsend and Andrew Hennessy.'s an odd one, alright. Thirty seconds of research at the Beat to check the sales numbers showed sales of 24,910; but it wasn't marketed specifically as a tie-in to Deadpool or Deadpool Corps or Deadpool Team-Up. It was part of the Women of Marvel series of one-shots; and sold pretty well for those.
See, our Deadpool prefers the salty snacks.  See the difference?
But Wanda Wilson, the alternate-reality version of Deadpool--and I would've sworn it was Wilma Wilson, but whatever--is just strange, even in comparison to Wade. She's as insane as the Deadpool we know, and shares the multiple caption boxes for the voices in her head. Wanda's also weirdly stalkerish, obsessed with sex and TV and junk food, and in this appearance anyway, has a face like "scabby hamburger."

Her reality, however, is slightly-more crapsack than ours: as the evil suit explains, since America doesn't manufacture anything or do anything besides watch TV, they can't even afford that anymore since there's no ad revenue. And with no TV comes rioting, and with rioting comes "Che," an unemployed actor turned 'revolutionary.' Wanda falls for the pretty-boy, and follows her around as a bodyguard, until Che is captured as a terrorist by Captain America...for reasons that don't really make a lot of sense, except this Cap is fighting for corporate interests and is a bit of a jerkass. (The various Deadpool books seem to do a number on Cap at every opportunity, and this one follows suit.)
Oh, that's inappropriate.
No spoiler, but it doesn't really end well for anyone involved; but Wanda's healing factor will keep her going. I don't know if this book is for anyone who wasn't already a Deadpool fan, but if you are, there you go.

Of course, I'd love a Marvel Legends Lady Deadpool, with the rest of the Corps: Dogpool, Kidpool, and Headpool. If you can't have fun with that bunch of knuckleheads...
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Monday, June 27, 2011

Not a review: DC Direct Mon-El!

It happens sometimes: you're strapped for cash, haven't had time to make the rounds, or just don't come across anything you're gung-ho to buy; and the next thing you know, it's been over a month since you've bought a figure in the stores. So, when I traded some yard sale books for credit at Hastings, I picked up the DC Direct Superman: New Krypton Mon-El.

I mentioned picking up the last part of War of the Supermen some time ago, and hated the snot out of it. I think I can maybe finally articulate my hate, now: while I understand that in long-term superhero comics, sometimes the status quo has to be reset, if you do it with casualties in the high six figures in a Superman comic, you're doing it wrong. And with all those dead, it's just about nobody we know, so who cares? And Superman had Supergirl, Superboy, Steel, Steel's daughter Steel, Jimmy Olsen, Mon-El, Nightwing and Flamebird, the Justice League and most of the superheroes on earth; and still lost thousands...utter crap. It was being swept under the rug before the DC Reboot for J. Michael Straczynski's run.

Which might explain why I found the Superman: New Krypton figures marked down to $9.99; and Hastings seemed to have received a couple sets of them. (And some of the later Blackest Night waves, oddly.) I got Mon-El to go with my small pile of Legion of Super-Heroes figures, even though his uniform doesn't quite match.
c Yeah, I thought Mon-El's cape-discs were a little bigger, and that his suit was usually closer to a darker red. But even putting aside the source material, this isn't DC Direct's best offering; it's DCD dogging it out just to get something on the shelves. I don't expect the articulation to be as good as DC Universe Classics, but Mon-El's elbows, for example, are just about useless. The neck is a ball with almost no range, so he can't look up or get into a flying pose. And the head sculpt reminds me of Taylor Lautner, which is just unfortunate.

I was going to take a close up of Mon-El, but...meh. (This whole post was pretty much on the fly, yeah.) So, not a great figure. I might have to see if I can get a Blue Lantern Saint Walker or a JSA Sand next time, to see if DC Direct pulled those together.

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If I hadn't looked it up, I would have thought Gullivar Jones was a knockoff of John Carter, Warlord of Mars. In fact, Edwin Lester Arnold's Gullivar predated Edgar Rice Burrough's Carter by six years. And yet, I hadn't even heard of him before picking up Creatures on the Loose #21, "Two Worlds to Win!" Written by George Alec Effinger, art by Gray Morrow; with a nice Steranko cover.

Although Gullivar seems to be stronger on Mars, just as John Carter was; he wasn't as popular. Burroughs and Carter would go on for eleven novels, but this would be the last for Arnold and Gullivar. Per the wiki, Gullivar was a little more hapless than Carter, who was kicking ass within 20 minutes of arrival, and Carter got the girl to boot. Marvel's adaptation makes Gullivar seem just as tough as Carter, though...but of course Carter would later get a Marvel comic, and this would be the last shot for Gullivar.

If the Asylum hadn't already done a John Carter movie, I'd bet they, or some studio, would get the bright idea of a Gullivar movie to block or compete or knock-off the upcoming big-budget film. As it John Carter public-domain? Maybe you don't have to settle for Gullivar, then.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Ducking out early this week. Have a good weekend!
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Thursday, June 23, 2011

The dramatic reveal is he's exactly who you would expect:

One of the DC reboot books that I'm looking forward to trying is Demon Knights. Written by Paul Cornell, who has done some good stuff in the past (I liked Wisdom a few years back) and the book features the Demon and is set around the time of Camelot. Thanks to a smattering of comics like Iron Man #150, Camelot 3000, and Shining Knight or Silent Knight--and the movie Excalibur, of course--I have this image of Camelot as a magical land, where men were free, the motto was not 'might makes right' but 'might for right.' And the whole place was constantly on the verge of being burned down and taken over by demons and whatnot.

Case in point, today's book, from another company: Black Knight #1. Written by Tom DeFalco, pencils by Ron Frenz, and inks by Sal Buscema.

Originally presented digitally, this was a big retcon for the character: Sir Richard of Scandia was one of King Arthur's bravest knights, but his brother Percy was a useless fop. Still, the two brothers were very close, the best of friends. When Merlin sends Richard on a secret mission to retrieve the Ebony Blade (here called 'Chaos the Doombringer,' and described as all the evil removed from Excalibur) Percy tags along, even though he is no fighter. Merlin wants to keep the blade from falling into the hands of Modred, who has sent a pile of his best half witted thugs out to find it.

Eventually, Percy takes the sword to save his brother, but falls under the curse of the sword, becoming a blood-mad berserker, refusing to relinquish the sword. Modred's men attack Percy, thinking him Richard; and Percy gives a good account of himself until struck from behind. Enraged, Richard takes up the sword, and kills most of Modred's men, and the inevitable demon to rise up from that sort of thing.

Although Merlin advises Richard to surrender the Ebony Blade himself, Richard refuses, vowing to wield it for king and country. Richard also takes his brother's identity, in his honor, and uses the Black Knight guise to fight for Camelot. And here's the retcon, since Sir Percival was always the Black Knight previously; I don't think there had ever been a mention of a twin before. It's also a little less inspiring, to boot: the brother that always kicked ass...survived to keep kicking ass; as opposed to the poncy brother having to man up to the task.

This was part of a pile of books from the quarter-bin; OK, fifty-cent bin. Probably going to have a few more of those this week.
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

This should be three times louder than the surrounding posts.

I leave BBC America on a lot, and I guess the Brits think Americans are a poxy, zit-covered lot, since ProActiv ads are on all the time. And they are always far louder than whatever was actually on.

I was going to drop the DC reboot thing for the time being; but it's like your tongue poking the spot a missing tooth was, irresistible. But, I was also thinking that Marvel seems to do a better job of retcons or reboots than DC--just polishing things up a bit, like updating the Fantastic Four from first into space or changing whatever war Tony Stark was injured in. And if there's a bit of continuity that isn't working or they would prefer removed, Marvel just resolves to never speak of it again. Marvel is more situational with their continuity, too: it's there if they need it, and they'll leave it lie if they don't. I mentioned some time back an old Iron Man issue where Tony's old friend/rival/villain dredges up all kinds of embarrassment, like the Crossing or the time Tony faked his death. (That last one was actually really good, but embarrassing for Tony in context.)

Whereas DC, on the other hand, has to make a big thing of it, like Crisis or Zero Hour or something. And then devote years of side project stuff like Secret Origins and Year Ones to patching together the current status quo. I sort of wish DC would just make everyone look younger, and call it a day. Everything would still be there somewhere, but we're not going to bring it up constantly. Or, in some cases, at all, ever.

On the other hand, while Grant Morrison has done all right with the situational approach to continuity in Batman, bringing up issues that hadn't been thought of for years; could you imagine trying to write Teen Titans that way? Um, no.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

If I had been more on the ball, I probably would've bought this issue new: the Brave and the Bold #26, featuring the Spectre and Xombi. I knew B&B had done a few issues of Milestone/DC team-ups, which I'd usually be interested in, except they seemed...perfunctory. Like DC was just throwing them out there so they could say, hey, Milestone, we tried. But, this issue does feature some nice Scott Hampton art, and is written by Xombi's regular writer and co-creator, John Rozum.

This was the Crispus Allen Spectre, and I haven't read a lot of stories with him; but as is typical for the character, he has a lot of weird restrictions and rules. After killing serial killer Ray Walker, typically the Spectre's job is done. Only this time, Walker's ghost continues, killing vampires and other ghosts. The Spectre goes to a higher authority, not necessarily God or the Presence or Rama Kushna or anything though. Like his immediate supervisor, or Assistant God or something. Anyway, the Spectre is more or less told Walker is out of his jurisdiction now.

Meanwhile, David Kim, the unkillable Xombi, is having trouble sleeping. I do believe this is the first time we see his fiance Dalila, who has been mentioned the whole run of his book, but never seen. Maybe? Maybe we briefly see her the last issue, but I'm not sure about that. One issue mentions that David was having a hard time telling her about the reams of weird crap that had happened to him, since he knew she did not take surprises well. Why? Dalila's last boyfriend was only dating her because they were the same size...that story does not end well. Interestingly, and I could be wrong on this too, but I get the feeling all of Xombi's stories to date take place in a relatively short period, perhaps only a month or so.

David's associate, Julian Parker--think a slightly friendlier yet sketchier John Constantine--gets him on the case, as they check out a vampire corpse. Rozum points out vampires don't get a lot of calcium in their diet, and thus have brittle bones; and the vampires also openly envy Xombi for being invulnerable, immortal, and without vampire frailities. David tells them it's not that great.

After a seance, Walker eats another ghost, but is stymied by David: he can't kill him, but the Xombi can't stop a ghost either. Later, Parker summons the Spectre, and they try to get him to finish the job he started. He wants to, even if he acts put out at being summoned like he was a genie. David goes alone to stop Walker from killing the girl that the Spectre saved, and stalls him until the Spectre kills Walker. I kind of like the last page, where David and Crispus have a little talk about who they are and where they're going.

Not as good as a regular issue of Xombi, but not bad at all.
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Monday, June 20, 2011

The X-Men vs. Magneto greatest hits, that's a good use of a time machine...

Yeah, I'm sick of spoilers too.
In 1998, Marvel did a batch of team-up annuals, often with odd pairings. X-Man/Hulk. Deadpool/Death. (One of the few older Deadpool issues I don't have!) Machine Man/Bastion. Alpha Flight/Inhumans. Even Generation X/Dracula, and more. And the issue in today's post, X-Men/Dr. Doom, "Doom Quest" Written by Jorge Gonzalez, pencils by Aaron Loprestri (misspelled Lopestri), inks by Art Thibert and Jaime Mendoza.

In pseudo-Neal Adams style.
While some of the 98's were one-shots intended just to get some mileage out of two great tastes that don't usually go together, some (particularly the Deadpool and Machine Man ones) were meant to move the character's plot forward a bit. But this issue is just an excuse for Loprestri to draw an X-Men vs. Magneto retrospective. With Dr. Doom in the backgrounds...

But Loprestri may have missed a touch that cover artist Dusty Abell got: he draws Doom with the more monk-styled outfit he wore in Fantastic Four #5, Doom's first appearance in the Marvel Universe, as well as when Doom had his time machine. Reed and the FF would take Doom's, although presumably Doom could build another...although he never seemed to get as much use out of it as all that. Loprestri draws Doom in a more traditional outfit, but while the monk look would be a signifier of the time, it was also ugly as hell.

Anyway, with white-haired geezer Seer as his guide--and it's never really made clear if he's a mutant, or a magician, or other--Doom has the bright idea of using Seer's visions of a powerful future mutant named Onslaught. Thinking about how he might be able to harness his power, Doom realizes there's something familiar about Onslaught: he vaguely resembles Magneto, who Doom had just seen on TV in Mag's failed attempt to take over Santo Marco in X-Men #4.

Doom decides to take Seer on a magical mystery tour, using his time machine to follow Magneto's history until he finds out how to exploit Onslaught's power. Which conveniently takes us through his best appearances in X-Men, mostly in the order in which they were published, even though that involves an accidental hop to the Days of Futures Past...where Magneto was already dead, oops.

Skipping around some more, Doom eventually sees the genesis of Onslaught, during Professor Xavier's shutdown of Magneto's mind after he pulled Wolverine's adamantium out of his bones. A "dark mass" at the center of Magneto's astral avatar reaches out and leaves something in Professor X that would grow into Onslaught. (This kind of reminds me of the Hal Jordan/Parallax thing in Green Lantern; another over-complicated mess.) In an amusing moment, Doom, who's watched a good chunk of the X-Men's history by now, is more concerned about how the hell Jean Grey is alive again...

Still, even the nascent Onslaught ends up being too powerful, and Doom ends up with nothing for his trouble, except knowledge, which is power. Except a future Magneto straight-out tells Doom that Onslaught kills him: Doom would be sacrificed with the heroes to stop the monster, and Doom (and Thor) wouldn't return right away from the Heroes Reborn world. Doom apparently forget that, years later when it finally happened. On the brighter side, this isn't a bad little clipshow of an issue, and there's always something to a Dr. Doom issue where he doesn't yell "Richards!" even once...

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Green Lantern opens today...

...but I don't think I'll be going until at least Sunday. Early reviews may not be...glowing, as it were; but you probably should have different expectations from the Dark Knight than you should for this. I do want to keep my eyes open and see if they recommend springing for the 3D or not, though.

And the Hulkbot isn't a Green Lantern figure, but fit in fairly well. I would love to have scaled stickers, of GL rings and logos, to 'deputize' other figures. There may be some available from, a branch of, which usually makes replacement stickers for Transformers. May have to look into that; and of course I haven't picked up any of the Movie Masters figures yet either. Later for that, too.
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

To get ready for the Green Lantern movie, here's...

...Booster Gold with a power ring?

Longtime Booster fans know he has a stolen flight ring, but he takes a GL ring for a joyride in Legion of Super-Heroes in the 31st Century #19, "Booster" Written by J. Torres, pencils by Alex Serra, inks by John Stanisci.

Based on the Legion animated series--where, sadly, Booster and Skeets only had a brief cameo in the first episode--the team pursues a gang of thieves called the Scavengers and gets an unlikely assist from a new hero, glory hound Booster Gold. While the Legionnaires argue about whether Booster is a true hero or a big jerk, Brainiac 5 knows something but remains silent.

Booster is working on a time sphere, while the Scavengers are shaking Booster down for his father's gambling debts. (As opposed to Booster's point shaving in his regular continuity.) When the Legion arrives to break up the gang, the Scavengers' leader hijacks the time sphere and flees. At Skeets' suggestion, Booster uses an antique Green Lantern ring from the museum to give chase. With the ring, Booster would become the 21st century's greatest hero--
Take it to Oa for a refund, Booster!
--oops, maybe not. You can see the Scavenger about to try Green Arrow's weapons against Booster; which works about as well as you'd guess.

In the 31st century, the Legion wonders if Booster stopped the Scavenger, or if he even found him; but is more curious as to why Brainiac 5 knowingly let Booster steal his weapons and a Legion flight ring. But Superman realizes that this is destiny:
Oh, no, Supes for Booster, that seems a fair trade...
Oddly, the time travel aspects of this seem to be overly confusing for the other Legionnaires.

I wish I had issue #15 now as well, since it guest-starred Impulse! In the comics, I think Booster's from the 25th century, but Impulse actually is from the 30th-31st century like the Legion; and in Bart's earliest appearances he mentions having one friend in the virtual reality world he grew up in: Brainy, who really isn't anywhere near as fond of him.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Still on the DC reboot, but elsewhere:

New Bastards of the Universe at Poe Ghostal's Points of Articulation! "Reboot, Reuse, and Recycle." My kids leave the TV on Nick too much, so I know that title's an altered version of the recycling song from iCarly. I'm secure enough in myself to cop to that...

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"Fish out of...everything."

I got the Minion figure from Megamind before seeing the movie--which wasn't bad, although I think Despicable Me was better. He's not super-poseable, though. Like, at all.

Short one today, with maybe something else coming in a bit...
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hulk vs. Thor, round 419.

Fans of the Hulk and Thor usually enjoy their periodic throw-downs, even though there is almost never a definitive victor. Not only would a clear winner potentially alienate fans of the losing character; but it could ruin a long-standing event. (Conversely, while Hulk/Thing fights are just as welcome, the Thing gets beat a lot.) Usually, Thor loses his hammer and turns into Blake, or the two have to team up to fight the real foe, or Thor has to leave the fight to protect bystanders. In fact, two of those happen this issue; the Incredible Hulk #255, "Thunder Under the East River!" Written by Bill Mantlo, pictures by Sal Buscema.

The Hulk tries to forget his trouble and lose himself in New York City, which even ol' Greenskin admits probably isn't a good idea, but he kind of figures there'll be trouble wherever he goes. The cops try to stop him, but Hulk wanders away from a tear-gas barrage, to spend a night at the Little Red Lighthouse. Waking up as Banner, he tries to get out of the city before Hulking out again, but changes back when he nearly gets hit by a train.

Cue Thor, who, as Dr. Donald Blake, had been treating nearby homeless patients. The Hulk seems fairly content simply scaring people off, but when Thor shows up, there's someone to punch. And throw cops at:


The fight eventually makes its way to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, where the Hulk throws a car at Thor and damages the roof. As Thor holds up the roof, Hulk tries to pick up Mjolnir...something he's failed at multiple times before, but the Hulk wasn't a genius back then, all right?

Thor turns back into Dr. Blake, and Mjolnir into his walking stick. Blake tries to convince Hulk of the danger, to get his stick back, and explains that Thor is inside him just as Banner is inside the Hulk. Which the Hulk finds laughable: while he hates Banner, at the time Hulk didn't accept that he and Banner were one in the same. In fact, Hulk leaves Blake alone, because he reasons that Thor must hate Blake the same way he hates Banner; and leaving Thor trapped inside Blake would really fix his wagon. Regaining his hammer, Thor holds the tunnel up so the bystanders can escape, but the Hulk has already left, hopping a boat to "the Promised Land!" His next issue was set in Israel, and I think was the start of a Hulk world tour.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

I like this page, but couldn't tell you who that was...

...without going back to the issue in question: the Mighty Marvel Western #9. Crap, that doesn't help either! All right, it's the Two-Gun Kid, from "Moose Morgan, Gunman at Large!" Written by Stan Lee, art by Jack Kirby.

Even though I've read more than a few of 'em, off the top of my head I couldn't tell you the difference between the three mainstays of Marvel's western stable; the Rawhide Kid, the Two-Gun Kid, and Kid Colt. They're a bit more interchangeable than DC's western heroes like Jonah Hex and Bat Lash; to the point that if without looking I told you which ones wore a mask and which had the spotted vest, I'd just be guessing.

But this story wasn't too bad: Kid Colt, Outlaw; in "The Chain Gang of Pecos Pass!" (Written by Stan Lee, art by Jack Keller.) After an incompetent bounty hunter tries to bring in Kid Colt and fails miserably, the bounty hunter's sister tells the Kid that they were going to use the bounty on him, to pay for an operation for their sick mother. Maybe that was a new story at the time, since that's the only excuse the Kid has for falling for that one...

Kid Colt gets thrown on the chain gang, with several bad guys he had already put away earlier in the series. (Since the Marvel westerns were pretty G-rated, they could have more recurring villains than say, Jonah Hex.) He has to stay alive long enough to escape, fight his way past the Scorpion (not that one), Dr. Danger, and Bull Barton; and give the bounty hunter and his sister their comeuppance. All in eighteen pages.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

WildC.A.T.s? How the hell is that typed? S.H.I.E.L.D. is easier to keep typing...

As someone who wasn't a big Image/Wildstorm fan, my first thought when I saw Grifter and Voodoo were getting new DC number ones...was there go a couple of wasted slots. But that's not really fair: the WildC.A.T.s characters may not be to my taste, but that's not to say they couldn't possibly be used in good comics. And, on further thought, while I don't plan on running out and buying them, I have enjoyed just about every comic I've seen with Grifter and Voodoo! Weird...

First up, they, and the Wildstorm Universe, guested in the thirteenth issues of Marvel's Heroes Reborn books. Which reminds me, I need Spartan and Voodoo and heck, even Zealot figures. (I don't know Zealot's backstory, but she should just be slotted in as an Amazon. Her warlike nature would make Wonder Woman's peaceful mission stand out more...)

I'm pretty sure it's somewhat intentional, but Spartan is hysterical to me. He's the robot teammate, like the Vision in the Avengers or Red Tornado in the JLA; except Spartan is treated as completely disposable. That, and it's pretty obvious that Voodoo (and the Scarlet Witch in the crossover!) are using him as a sex toy. Which would be a bit creepy if the genders were flipped, but here it makes me laugh, for some reason.

Anyway, the WildC.A.T.s also crossed over with the X-Men, in a four-part series that I only read the issue that had Nightcrawler in it. (I know Warren Ellis wrote the fourth issue, but I've read enough Days of Futures Past X-crap over the years without actively hunting it down...) And Warblade comes across well here: while he looks like an EXTREME version of Wolverine, Warblade is nowhere near that into it, and seems like he'd be more than happy to go home and watch TV.

Then there's the JLA/WildC.A.T.s crossover, written by Grant Morrison. The heroes fight the Lord of Time, Superman is electric blue and Majestic looks more heroic, Grifter and Batman contrast methods, and Void trips Kyle right out. Another solid issue. And, although I recall most of that series as being about the Youngblood or Cyberforce characters, the WildC.A.T.s are in the Image superhero crossover Shattered Image as well.

What I like about the WildC.A.T.'s, even without reading a lot of their comics, is that the characters are archetypes--there's your Punisher-type, your Wonder Woman character, your Wolverine homage--but they're archetypes you can break. I have several issues from the quarter bins of Wildcats 3.0, and they are pretty far afield from where those characters started. (So far afield that there's been a reboot, even before whatever Grifter's DCU status is...) In theory, you should be able to do things story-wise with Grifter, that you couldn't do with Batman, since you don't have the burden of seventy years of continuity and fan expectations and licensing restrictions and so on. In theory, of course. After all, Grifter and the WildC.A.T.s are nearly twenty years old. We'll see if it pans out...
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Thursday, June 09, 2011

DC Relaunch/Retcon/Retread thoughts:

Sooooo...this is the big one. But first, some thoughts on DC's other in-comic changes.

Now, everyone has their own tastes, which means everyone has their own things that they would like to see in DC's new 52 number one issues. I personally would love to see Doom Patrol (previously cancelled five or six times), Warlord (cancelled three times and a miniseries), the Creeper (cancelled three times and a Vertigo mini where he was a French chick?), the Vic Sage Question (Um, once, then a quarterly, a limited, and other stuff), and the Ted Kord Blue Beetle (geez, I think Ted got cancelled a couple times at Charlton...). Maybe it's just me, and maybe those characters didn't set the sales charts on fire before, but why the hell not? DC's rolling back the odometer on a bunch of other stuff, and they're giving another shot to Firestorm (cancelled four times?), Captain Atom (one prior series and a mini, but he gets the shaft every big event they can shaft him in: Armageddon: 2001, Kingdom Come, Countdown: Arena...), Grifter (at least twice solo), and Hawkman (yeah, you tell me).

That's why I'm a little disappointed in some of DC's choices for new number ones. (So far, there's still a few left to be revealed.) A lot of these have had books before, and I'm not sure they'll do any better this time around. I wish all the best to Resurrection Man (28 issues), OMAC (depends what OMAC you mean...) and Aquaman (guh) but trotting them out like they're going to save comics this time around is just dumb.

Now, they were a few that were surprising choices, and by surprising I mean baffling. Mr. Terrific gets his first first issue ever, and that name's been around for over 70 years. I, Vampire is another interesting choice: I know that was a J. M. DeMatteis scripted series running in House of Mystery in 1982-83. Of course, now it looks like Twilight: the Anime, and if I'm the first person to make that joke I'll eat an issue of it.

Then there's Batgirl. Man, this is a tough one. There's no denying that Gail Simone is probably the best choice for the book, and is legitimately excited to be writing Barbara Gordon. But, she's back as Batgirl, not Oracle...and apparently, no longer in a wheelchair. (Jill Pantozzi has a great piece at Newsarama on this.)

Now, comics have a tradition of bringing characters back from the dead, of rebooting them, taking them back to their root; and yeah, Professor X has been in and out of his wheelchair more than a couple times. But...Barbara getting to walk again doesn't feel right, really. Like she shouldn't get out...unless everyone else does, too.

And Barbara as Batgirl has the unfortunate consequence of displacing Stephanie, who displaced Cassandra: I think Bully's suggestion of Batgirl, Inc. may have been the right track...and J. Caleb Mozzocco of Everyday is Like Wednesday pointed out that with Batwoman (who is newer, and possibly younger?) and Barbara both in costume, that's two red-haired Bat-femmes tearing about concurrently.

But, that is going to be the trouble with an undertaking like this: someone's favorite character is always going to be left out, altered, short-changed, or otherwise burned. Some have noticed the absence of Tim Drake as Red Robin, so far. Some would prefer Damien be removed--if Batman's being made a little younger, when did he have him? There's the possibility Lois and Clark will get the Mary Jane/Peter "One More Day" treatment. And that's just the big ones.

DC did get people talking, that much is true. Even if a lot of that talk is "...why?" or "...really?" Still, it's a start.

One last thing: I don't know about bringing Grifter, Voodoo, and possibly the whole Wildstorm Universe into the DC Universe; since they already have folded in Charlton, Quality, Milestone, maybe Red Circle and the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and who all else in there. Hell, I'd rather they gave one of those slots to a Milestone book, anyway.
(EDIT: And of course, since writing this, Red Robin is going to be in Teen Titans, which looks...yeah; and Static will be back.)

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

"My Greatest Disappointment."

I knocked this strip out on Thursday while watching Rodan. But, per blog law (said blog law from the law blog of Bob Loblaw...) we're expected to discuss DC's new post-Flashpoint reboot plans. Even if it's all vile speculation, and I'm not a retailer, so I'm only guessing how DC's planned day-and-date digital distribution plan is going to work. (Check out the updated list of the 52 books at Bleeding Cool!)

If I'm honest, the first thing I thought of when DC announced all this, was that all the heroes would be WB-ized younger, edgier versions, like the 200th episode of Stargate feared. No, not the bit with the puppets...

Now, some are worried that day-and-date is going to be a nail in the coffin of comic shops. That may depend on the pricing of the downloads; but good comic shops rarely exclusively sell comics: they usually feature games, cards, t-shirts, action figures, and so forth. Some shops might be hurt by losing sales to downloads, but others will have diversified into other revenue streams, and better weather the storm, 'kay? (There is a question of whether DC is dicking over comic shops, which I can't answer. Maybe? On the other hand, if comic shops and the direct market were doing a bang-up job of selling comics, DC wouldn't have to do this, would they?)

Over at Comics Alliance, David Brothers' had a piece on 'Do you own your digital comics?' I personally would be reluctant to pay $3.99...$2.99...hell, even ninety-nine cents for a download that I can't save, can't transfer, and/or can only read on certain machines. The analogy is, if you buy an MP3 online, you can save it to your hard drive, burn it to a CD, transfer it to your iPod, whatever. With a comic, you're paying for the right to read it under certain conditions and usually online. Really, check out the digital comics articles over there; it seems like a bit of a mess yet, and the pricing for something you don't really have.

To completely armchair quarterback DC's digital plan, here's what I would do: I wouldn't throw 52 books out at once, for one damn thing. Thirty, tops. But, I would keep the "hold the line at $2.99" but shorten the main features in most books while adding 7-8 page backups. (I probably would keep, say Batman and Justice League full-length, if not longer...) I don't think the market will support throwing Captain Atom, Firestorm, Justice League Dark, among others, into the field all at once. I'm not sure how well received the recent back-ups were received (I enjoyed Metal Men in Doom Patrol, for one.) but DC has a tradition of such: it's a good way to try out new things, and to build your audience. Come for Superman, stay for Frankenstein or something.

I would also throw DC's digital pricing plan--same day as the comic in stores, $2.99; a month later it drops to $1.99--right out the window. Forget the how of this; but I would price books at thirty cents a download--but you only get to keep them or get access to them for thirty days. At thirty cents a pop, you might need to sell more, but do you think that will be a problem? Really? People will be far more apt to try out a new book, which gives that much more opportunity to hook a new reader on the comics habit. Moreover, when the issue expires after thirty days, some readers will want to spring for it again later, if they want to read several issues at once.

There's other things I'd fiddle with, on the digital end: the $.30 downloads would be bare-bones, no backups; with a more "special edition" version with backups and extra features like backmatter, script, or even uninked pencils. (All of which would be relatively inexpensive to add, by the by.) The backups could be collected later, say three or four parts at a time. I would offer sales as well, but not for the best-sellers like the top forty books, but the next forty. That way, the mid-tier books get a bit more push, until they work their way up, stirring up the chart.

But, so comics shops aren't left out, DC should offer discounts and coupons going both ways: purchase four downloads, get a markdown coupon for a proper comic. Purchase two comics, get a free download of some other book. Go nuts. Mix it up some, since I don't think DC has gone far enough, on this issue anyway.

By the way, My Greatest Adventure #1 is on the schedule of new #1's, and it would be a bit of a slap in the face if it didn't at least guest the Doom Patrol. (The Doom Patrol first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80.) And "Doom Idol" strips will return, as Robotman and Negative Man still haven't found a replacement for Elasti-woman...

Are we done with this? Not yet! More later, on the books!
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Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Form Voltron! Wait, that's not right...

That page had stuck in my head, and for some reason it reminded me of the lion pilots forming that I look at it again, yeah, not really close. From Marvel's Star Wars #99, "Touch of the Goddess" Written by Jo Duffy, layouts by Ron Frenz, inks and finishes by Sam de la Rosa.

This was near the end of Marvel's run on the book, but was still touching on a couple of plot points from issue #79 on up: the plot macguffin of two alien statues, Lando's attempt at besmirching an old foe's name completely backfiring, and Luke and Han going up against an isolationist government and the Alliance to save Lando. It's not a bad issue, although the inks aren't as smooth as when Tom Palmer was on the book; and Han has an old friend show up (Bey, the one-eyed guy in the last panel) that of course is a bad guy, as is every previously unseen old friend that shows up in comics. (I remember there was also a problem with an issue with Bey run out of order, possibly so the double-sized issue #100 would hit right.)

I saw somewhere, someone mention that an ongoing plot point in the later Marvel Star Wars books was that Luke, Leia, and Han were doubtless rock stars after blowing up the second Death Star, and pretty easily could've put themselves in power as a new Empire; but they were too good to really notice or too nice to take advantage. It's not a bad notion, but it loses a little weight when they're always right. (Star Trek totally has the same problem: Kirk is a renegade, a maverick who routinely disobeys orders and is almost always right to do so...)
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Monday, June 06, 2011

This is the most cheery Doom Patrol ever, and they're still kinda messed up.

Later, we'll probably have to take a look at DC's 52 new #1's/digital day-and-date plan, but My Greatest Adventure #1 is on the schedule of new #1's, and it would be a bit of a slap in the face if it didn't at least guest the Doom Patrol. (The Doom Patrol first appeared in My Greatest Adventure #80.)

This isn't from that, though; it's from Teen Titans Go! #28, "Surprises" Written by J. Torres, pencils by Todd Nauck, inks by Lary Stucker. The Doom Patrol hangs out with the animated Teen Titans and tells stories of young Beast Boy, as they get ready for his surprise party. Robin is a little surprised to hear Mento's tale of using Beast Boy as bait to trap the Brotherhood of Evil, but he shouldn't be, since Mento is a colossal asshole.

Robotman's story tells of a young and inquisitive Beast Boy taking toys and appliances apart, before stepping up to larger machines; but Negative Man remembers the times Beast Boy saved the team. Rita, aka Elasti-girl, BB's adoptive mom, tells the sweetest story though, of his childhood bedtime stories:

The Doom Patrol were going to get figures in Bandai's Teen Titans line, but it was cancelled before they could. Later, they would get a set in the Justice League Unlimited style, and we've seen Negative Man and Robotman here more than once, Elasti-woman still hasn't got a DCUC figure, normal or giant-sized.

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Friday, June 03, 2011

I'm not even sure why Charles and Erik were friends, here.

Well, here's a lucky happenstance: X-Men: First Class opens today, and against all odds, it might not be too bad. Seriously, when it was first announced, it really looked like they were trying to cram too much in there; but it might work out.

I didn't want my only word on the subject to be just me bitching about Azazel (who will be fine in the movie if they only use him for color and teleporting; and don't go near his backstory) so it was lucky I found this issue when going through a pile of X-Men comics. (I swear I was looking for something in particular, and now I wonder what it was...)

X-Men #-1, "I Had a Dream" Written by Scott Lobdell, pencils by Carlos Pacheco, inks by Art Thibert. This was part of Marvel's Flashback month, featuring stories set in the pasts of their heroes. (And yet another scheme to jack up the numbers in your comic collection: zero issues, .1's, -1's, 1/2's, renumbering after renumbering...) I remember the Daredevil issue was pretty good, some of the Spidey ones weren't bad, and the Deadpool minus one was jarringly dark and bitter compared to the regular book. And this issue?

Um, fillerific. The first page of this issue is the last page of the previous issue, since this was breaking up the regular storyline; which is going to happen sometimes in these events. There's also three pages of Stan Lee as a character, setting up the flashbacks and having some fun--it has to be fun to write Stan Lee.

But the rest of the issue is Charles Xavier, before he formed the X-Men, having a meeting with Magneto, who's got an asteroid base and recently recruited Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch for his upcoming Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. (At the time, Pietro and Wanda don't know Magneto is their dad; and Magneto probably doesn't either.) All this would be well and good, except we've seen this before, and they're having their meeting at Auschwitz. Magneto is there in remembrance, but Charles shows to try and talk him out of going all Hitler on the humans.
I'm going to assume Mags isn't giving Charles a backrub there...
Magneto, for his part, not only refuses to meet Xavier in the middle and maybe not kill all humans; he also berates him for being handicapped. As they prepare to leave, both Mags and Charles say they should probably kill and/or lobotomize the other, but they won't. Today...

So: good art, fun Stan Lee bits; but you've seen this story before. By the way, Amelia Voght is in this issue too, another of Xavier's retconned girlfriends; to try and talk Charles into bagging out of his mutant crusade and teleport him around. Check out Comics, Everybody for the romantic history of Professor X...if you dare.
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Thursday, June 02, 2011

It's a madhouse...a madhouse! Literally, a madhouse.

The Spokane Comicon was a couple weeks back, and I'm still reading out of a pile of books I got there. I didn't make my goal of a hundred quarter-books, no, but I did get a good start. And for some reason, I have a few issues that I think I picked up by accident: I believe I paid for this issue, Secrets of Sinister House #11 and a few seventies issues of Shazam!, in my haste to get Thor #299-300.

Ghosts or House of Mystery are better known, but DC's stable of ghost/monster/mystery books ran for years and years. You're probably more familiar with DC's Vertigo horror books, but the company has a pretty long tradition of scary stuff. Well, not EC Comics scary, but still.

"Bedlam" Written by John Jacobson from a story idea by Robert Kanigher, pencils and inks by Alex Nino; "The Monster of Death Island" Written by Maxene Fabe, pencils and inks by Ruben Yandoc [as Rubeny].

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