Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Two new figures...or one, an axe, and a head...

I hit Target again for another pair of new Marvel Legends, Hope Summers and the Constrictor! One I was quite looking forward to; the other character was mostly purchased for the Build-a-Figure parts for Terrax, and to make fun of a bit. Can you guess which is which?

The Constrictor is a welcome addition, of course: he was the bad guy in one of the first issues of Captain America I ever read (#228) and spent a brief stint as Deadpool's roommate. (That was first series, #39.) Frank Payne looks a little manic today, but maybe he's just excited to finally have a figure. I hadn't realized he used to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, either; my main memory of the character was him telling the Serpent Society to get bent when they asked him to join, then being one of the few villains to survive a run-in with the vigilante Scourge.

He does have an unnecessary vestigal belt, though; leftover from the Bullseye body he uses. I hesitate to point it out, since once you see it you can't unsee it--I forget what site pointed it out to me, but thanks heaps. It's not a dealbreaker or anything, just a mild flaw.

Hope Summers...arrrgh. I've read maybe one comic with her, part of Second Coming, and you might recall I wasn't overly fond of that one. Even though she's had her own book (that I think is getting cancelled soon) I only see her as a plot point, a MacGuffin. She's less a character than something to chase after or fight over, and she was in Cable, in Second Coming, and probably in the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men.

That said, she's not a terrible figure; although I really haven't given her a lot of time yet, either. Her silly tattered cape is removable, as is her head, hands, and arm guards. (She doesn't have alternate hands or head, they just pop on and off.) Hope comes with a somewhat over-large for her rifle (that came with Forge some time ago) and Terrax's head and axe. I won't put him together until I get Klaw and Iron Man, though--this particular Target store had two of the stealth IM's left and a Klaw, so hopefully I'll finish him up soon. (I probably should get a stealth one, since I don't think I have a single stealth Iron Man; but I have a joke in mind for the plain one...we'll see.)

Terrax's axe is a good sized thing, though. Can't wait to see him all together...
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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sometimes, we blog about comics that are great. Sometimes, about comics that are terrible and fun to pick apart and make fun of. Every so often, we blog about a comic we're honestly confused by, or can't sort out how we feel about. Like today's book! Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #207, "Darker than Death, part one of five" Written by Bruce Jones, art by Ariel Olivetti.

I should mention off the top, I have mixed feelings about the creators. Ariel Olivetti has done a number of books I enjoyed--like the Last Avengers Story, or DC's 2005 Space Ghost--but I thought he had really changed his art style. That's on me, I was actually thinking of Angel Medina. My bad, there; I wasn't even remotely close on that one. Bruce Jones has had a pretty long career, but I mainly remember him for the 2006 Warlord relaunch, which had some good ideas but spiralled in and caught fire by the last issue.

The story opens with an unseen narrator musing about Gotham City, and that intangible something it's missing. "Got the best shows, best food...hands down the best crime." But Gotham doesn't have the music, like New York or San Francisco or L.A. Nobody writes songs about Gotham, since nobody writes songs about hopelessness, utter defeat, or "the inward decay of the soul." That's a clever bit of a cheat: there isn't a lot of musical accompaniment in the medium of comics, so yeah, there wouldn't be a lot of songs there. Except for this one, obviously:

Well...that might be about hopelessness, utter defeat, and/or the inward decay of the soul, maybe.

Of course it's Batman narrating, which is a little unusual since it's odd to hear Batman thinking about music, and it's a little blase for him to be doing so while stopping an attempted robbery-slash-gangrape of a prostitute. But, it's a stiflingly hot summer night in Gotham, and Bats may be just a wee bit burnt out. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce doesn't even get out of costume, to brood with a drink by the fire. Alfred suggests a change of scene: an invitation to an engagement party, thrown by the Billingsworths. That's a suitably fancy-pants sounding name. Bruce says he doesn't even know them, but Alfred pushes him on.

At the Billingsworths, a still-broody Bruce is checking out a painting of a 'woodland nymph,' when he meets the family. The younger Billingsworth, Conrad, can't find his fiance Janie for the announcement; and Bruce volunteers to help find her: "Eight million souls stumbling through a city-wide blackout, and Conrad Billingsworth can't find one fiancee. Moral there somewhere." Bruce's internal monologing is taking a Rorschach-style turn, there; but as he checks out the backyard, he stumbles across an attractive young woman, skinny-dipping in a pond. Somewhat surprisingly, even to himself, Bruce is a bit tongue-tied.

Although he thought the woman was Janie, it's actually her older sister, Lilith. Sterner and less attractive because of it, Janie shows up to yell at her for spoiling her big night. Bruce helps Lilith out of the water, then waits for her to change; politely averting his gaze. Not feeling dressed for the occasion, Lilith asks Bruce for a lift home, and he obliges, having driven himself for a change. (Alfred is as much as Bruce's dad, so imagine a date with your dad driving you...) Things move right along from there.

Bruce sleeps with Lilith pretty quickly, and the narration goes back to that 'darker than death' business. It's kind of about the gloomy silence of Gotham City, metaphorically, I guess; but it also reads like Bruce is going to sleep like a log after this...but the next morning comes all too soon, and with it Conrad, looking for Janie, who's gone missing. Conrad didn't want to go to the cops yet, and when Bruce correctly points out the cops won't look for someone who hasn't been missing 24 hours yet; Lilith gets pissed at both of them and throws them out.
Who says 'bedded,' anyway?

As Batman, Bruce starts investigating, or at least cracking a few skulls looking for leads. He also knows full well it's a bad idea to be personally involved in a case, but presses on nonetheless. Eventually, he calls Lilith, who calls him both 'darling' and 'sweetheart' in two panels, which somehow strikes me as a warning sign; but she's interrupted by a knock at the door and a mysterious package. Bruce screams at her not to open it, and she totally does, and the call drops.

Still as Batman, Bruce races to Lilith's, where he finds her unconscious. The package contained a severed woman's finger, with a large ring...

So, the pros of this issue? Well, I do like the art, even though it's a bit murky and dark in spots; which I suspect is intentional. Jones also brings out a very Bruce Batman--he's a man that dresses up like a bat, not a Batman that occasionaly pretends to be a spoiled playboy. Thus, he's more human than in many an issue, and his depression seems more relatable. He's at a point where beating up the worst scum of the city doesn't do it for him anymore. There's also a bit of ambiguity: Bruce could be looking for a real connection with Lilith, or he could just be having sex with a somewhat-damaged girl.

The cons? There's a subplot page with the Billingworths' help that's a bit clunky and I suspect might be a red herring. Since this is Legends of the Dark Knight and not one of the open-ended Batman books, we're pretty sure from the start Lilith isn't going to be a longer term love interest like Silver St. Cloud or Vesper Fairchild. OK, she doesn't seem a likely candidate for that anyway.

I have the next issue, but not the rest of the five-issue story. I'm keeping my eyes open, though, and giving this one a little more rope, to see how it plays out...
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Monday, February 27, 2012


Couple quick pictures tonight: a couple years back, I wrote a Show and Tell post for Poe's on my childhood hero, a classic red Lego minifigure astronaut. His teammates have been MIA for some years (or, at least not here) but he's finally got a new friend, from Lego Minifigures Series 6. She has a proper gun, too; I have no recollection what the heck his gun originally was...

And a quick one I'd wanted to knock out for a bit: DCUC's Kobra, with the Hasbro Marvel Legends Hydra soldiers. Do they look like suitable soldiers for him, or not?

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In the future, all the crossovers will have exponents or Roman numerals in them.

Sunfire mistakes an older Nate (X-Man) Grey for Cable, in X-Men #98, "First and Last, part 2" Story and art by Alan Davis, script by Terry Kavanagh, inks by Mark Farmer. You never find out what exactly happened during the "Purge of Midnights" or the "Twelve of Power Millenial Disaster," but as Nate mentions, Cable looks like hell now. Like an old version of his head on a metal tinker-toy body. Not a great look.

This story was set in 2099, but a different one than the others, since it's an imaginary mutant-centric world created by Apocalypse to try and trick the Twelve into using their powers to recharge him. Or something. I don't know. Cyclops is presumed dead, possessed by Apocalypse; but Jean stops Cable from killing them, giving Apocalypse and the Living Monolith time to escape.
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Friday, February 24, 2012

This issue features my favorite Silver Surfer cover, but I didn't scan it...

Silver Surfer #41, "Job Hunting" Written by Jim Starlin, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Tom Christopher. Trapped and powerless on Dynamo City, the Silver Surfer is forced to try to find gainful employment, so he can make fifty credits for the exit tax and get out of there. After a long wait in line, a robot interviews the Surfer, who isn't exactly work-force material, and sheepishly admits his last job was Herald to Galactus:

Although he gets a job lugging girders around a construction site, the Surfer is fired when he overheats; his silver skin roasting him. Now a vagrant, he is directed to Tent City, a shantytown home for Dynamo City's underclass. Some are trapped there like the Surfer, but for others this is just a setback on the road to fabulous wealth. (Or not.)

The Surfer meets Zeaklar, an old man who's been stuck in Dynamo City for three years. He explains the underground economy, which pays in food or goods, but never credits; keeping the poor workforce right where the city wants them. Run by the never-seen "Great I," the city is supposedly a masterpiece of free enterprise, where anyone can make it big. In reality, that's propaganda, and the bureaucracy is a never-ending series of hoops to keep the poor jumping through. It's a theme Jim Starlin's used before, and I would love to go with him to say, the DMV. That would be a hoot.

A small urchin tells the Surfer he could sell his dreams, which would be broadcast as entertainment. Then, he could earn the five credits (it was fifty last issue!) and get out, but Zeaklar warns him of the negotiators. Still, the Surfer blurts out his price (200 credits, so he could take 39 people with him) before hearing their offer...

The broadcast doesn't go especially well either, with the Surfer strapped to a chair and mind-probes ripping out his memories to show. It does give Ron Lim five or so pages to run down the Surfer's history, which seems to run from sad to sadder. And then it gets worse: violated and enraged, the Surfer tries to restrain himself until he gets paid. And he gets: two credits.

The Surfer gets roughed up by the guard robots, and thrown out into the street. When he wakes up, even his two credits are gone (it's not like the Surfer had pockets...) and he's left to shuffle back to Shanty Town. Of course, this is merely fiction, and I'm sure none of this would never happen in real life. Uh-huh.

We'll check back with the Silver Surfer next Friday: will his luck improve? Well, it's part three of four, so I'm gonna go out on a limb and say no.

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Thursday, February 23, 2012

80-Page Thursday: Simpsons Comics #50!

Per blog law, we lead with the Hostess ad parody...
The cover calls it "an 80pg Bongo bumper crop!" and who am I to argue? From 2000, Simpsons Comics #50, featuring stories from Chuck Dixon, Gail Simone, Neal Alsip, and more; with art by Hilary Barta, Phil Ortiz, Mike Worley, and more.

I'm not sure if I expected the Simpsons comic to get to their fiftieth issue, but they're within spitting distance of 200 as I type this. It's always fun to see the writers and artists of the comic hit an idea before the show does, like the lead feature, "Wall or Nothing." When the lower Springfield lake is closed by order of Mayor Quimby, events are set in motion that split the city in two; not unlike the episode "A Tale of Two Springfields" that would air a couple of months later!

There's also an Itchy and Scratchy short, a couple of Radioactive Man features (including a Bizarro World-style visit, where the inhabitants are articulate and thoughtful, since RM is a bit thick) and a visit to Bongo Comics courtesy of Gail Simone and Matt 'Tex' Groening!

I don't read it, or the Futurama book every month; but Simpsons Comics is usually a solid read, as is this issue. Wonder if #100 or #150 were 80-pagers...
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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Two new figures!...and fifteen old ones.

Got the new Marvel Legends Steve Rogers and Ghost Rider variants at Target last Friday! A big thanks to, for the tip on getting them before the restock!

It's the second time around for the above gag, check out last time.

These weren't the two I planned on picking up first--I was quite looking forward to the Constrictor and Klaw. Hopefully they'll be next, and it's looking pretty likely I'll get all the parts for Terrax later. Barring disaster...

The clear, 'electro-shield' came with the variant, and I was glad to get it! I think more Secret Avengers posts may be coming soon, though.

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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Today's Cross-No-Ver: Small X-Pectations!

During "The End" week, we saw the last stand of the Micronauts. They got better...well, not all of them. The Micronauts were licensed from Mego, and when that expired, characters like Acroyear and Baron Karza reverted to them. Commander Rann, Marionnette, and Bug were created by Marvel, so they didn't lose the rights to them. Some years later, they returned as "the Microns," in today's actual book: Captain Marvel #6, "It's a Small Universe After All" Written by Peter David, pencils by ChrisCross, inks by Anibal Rodriguez.

Genis, the current Captain Marvel, is searching for Drax in the Negative Zone. Only, as Bug points out to him, it's not the Negative Zone, it's the Microverse. Apparently, the one and only now: previously, there had been several like the Micronaut's molecule-shaped Homeworld, Jarella's world (from the Hulk) or the world of the Psycho-Man. But, after a crisis with Thanos and "the Baron" and their attempt to destroy all the micro-worlds; the Microns and the X-Men defeated them, but "all the micro-realms merged into one."

I don't know if the "Small X-pectations one-shot" joke was from David, or editor Tom Brevoort, but I would've read it. Here, the fake crossover is a good way to establish how things were versus how they will be going forward, and that the Microns were tough before. That and it's a quick jab at comics and marketing.
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Monday, February 20, 2012

It's Green Lantern's birthday!

Really, according to an old DC calendar with that sort of thing, it's Green Lantern's birthday. I don't rerun this one every year, just the years I feel like taking the day off. Click to enlarge!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

As I write this, the Gary Friedrich/Ghost Rider case just broke the news, and suffice to say, I'm super-pissed at Marvel. It's one thing to not give creator credit or any sort of compensation, but it's quite another to shake down an older gentleman with health issues for $17,000. I wouldn't say I was looking forward to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, but I probably would've coughed up to see it in the cheap theatre. Now, I don't want any part of it. We'll see if Marvel, as a faceless corporate entity, does anything to rectify this between now and when this posts; or more likely, if Friedrich has to appeal his case. (Steve Niles has set up to get donations to Mr. Friedrich: there may be more to his case, like Marvel being forced to defend their copyright, but it's still the right thing to help the guy out with a few bucks. And that movie is starting to look a little more tempting...)

But, today we'll start looking at a run of books with a series of lessons that are as true now, as when they were written. From 1990, Silver Surfer #40, "Welcome to Dynamo City" Written by Jim Starlin, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Tom Christopher. We mentioned before that the Surfer believed he had killed Thanos, and this issue opens with him returning the body to Titan. Although they don't say as much, both Thanos's father Mentor and brother Starfox are a bit relieved. Drax doesn't buy it: connected by "cosmic binds," he can feel Thanos laughing. Unfortunately, since his resurrection, Drax was, put politely, brain damaged; so no one believes him. (And nobody runs a DNA test or anything on the corpse...if Eternals have DNA; and the corpse could've been rendered inert matter as well.)

The Surfer takes his leave, resolving to stay vigilant to the possibility of Thanos's return; but is in short order surprised by a robot. It's a process server, from a place called Dynamo City. Thanos had recently become a citizen there, and by law any citizen's death had to be investigated. Although his 'death' was accidental, it was while trying to kill half the universe--literally, half--and the Surfer feels it was justifiable. Still, he has better things to do than go testify somewhere he's never heard of; but the robot mentions Thanos's last will and testament. Intrigued, the Surfer agrees, but warns the robot that he is not bound by Dynamo City's laws, and that trying to restrict him would be "hazardous."

Using a dimensional portal, the Surfer and the robot arrive at the mysterious city, a gigantic domed metropolis in space. The robot recommends Landing Bay #7, as it will have enough room for the Surfer's landing. Before the Surfer can finish asking what that's supposed to mean, his board disappears from under him, and he skids to an undignified crash. The robot explains, what he didn't tell the Surfer, is that Dynamo City is a "omni-energy absorbing complex," sucking in all forms of energy to the city's central battery; and that by law, all power belongs to the government. Most of that just flies right by the Surfer, since he's freaking out a bit, and tries to get back out.

The security robot goons drag him to his court appearance, where a robot judge uses a mind probe to view Thanos's death. While waiting for the robot jury to render a verdict, the Surfer views Thanos's video will. Magnanimously, he leaves all his holdings in the city to the citizens, "whom I owe so much," although he ominously mentions his holdings off-world are under separate contract--a thinly veiled warning. Then, an outright threat, specifically for the Surfer: figuring if he's dead, it was probably the Surfer who got him, and Thanos was not one to let something like that go. He went to great trouble setting this up...
That Thanos-screen panel is statted in six more times that page...
The expression, "kangaroo court" occurs to the Surfer. He thinks the court will find him guilty, then execute him; but he's wrong. The jury finds "Citizen Thanos was involved in a conspiracy to murder half the population of the Milky Way galaxy, a class-A felony under galactic law." No charges are filed against the Surfer, who thinks this is one trap of Thanos's "that failed to snap shut." He's wrong again. Back at the landing bay, a robot stops the Surfer, saying he can't leave until he pays his exit tax, fifty credits. Unable to push his way past them, the Surfer is "trapped, powerless, and unemployed. What next?" Next, my favorite Silver Surfer cover ever, next week!

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Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Bastards up at Poe's!

Since today's 80-pager post was written back in November last year, here's something of more recent vintage: a new Bastards of the Universe up at Poe's! This time, we recap several months of ongoing storylines that you may have missed...or that I may not have gotten around to actually doing. Either or.
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80-Page Thursday: JLA 80-Page Giant #2!

We've hit the other two of the three in this series, so we may as well check out 1999's JLA 80-Page Giant #2, with stories by Christopher Priest, Len Wein, Tom Peyer, and more; and art by Cary Nord, Sal Velluto, David Boller, and more.

Priest had a great closing story in JLA 80-Page Giant #1, and has a great opener here with a Green Arrow/Batman story set early in their careers, as Ollie realizes there may be something more to Bruce Wayne than the vapid playboy facade. When Batman makes an appearance in Star City, Green Arrow comes off as the Bat-fanboy he is: "I'd heard Batman had a car. And a plane. And a CAVE. So guess what? Green Arrow had a car, and a plane, and a cave. And he had about as much use for them as Greenpeace had for Big Oil." Butting into Batman's case, Arrow gets him hurt, but starts to put together Bruce Wayne ditching his date with Batman in town. This story features probably the most dramatic racquetball game ever shown in comics...
I don't think we ever find out why I.Q. and Boomerang are stealing the sand...
Green Arrow also features in the next story, a satellite-era tale from Len Wein and Sal Velluto; and we see the traditional GA/Hawkman rivalry. Actually, 'rivalry' isn't the right term; they just do not like each other. The Atom pairs them up to face I.Q. and Captain Boomerang.

There's a couple of the oddball team-ups that sometimes occur in the League, with Plastic Man and Orion; and Steel, Huntress, PM and Zauriel. Big Barda and Huntress learn some lessons on a spa day with Wonder Woman on Paradise Island; and the Atom gets closer than he'd prefer with Superman when he's forced to hide out inside the Man of Steel. The issue closes revisiting the 853rd Century and Justice Legion A, as the future's Superman gives an invader a warning tour of the solar system.

Another rock-solid DC 80-pager, and both Priest and Peyer should've gotten to do more with the JLA. I like the 80-Page Thursdays, not just for revisiting books like this, but since I prepare a bunch of them at a time. The Cowboys just beat the Seahawks, if you're wondering when this was written...

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It's better to have loved and lost, than been turned into a cyborg and fought alien shapechangers for a couple centuries...

Kickass Michael Golden cover on this one: ROM #10, "Warrior Over Washington!" Written by Bill Mantlo, art by Sal Buscema. After freeing his friends Brandy Clark and Steve Jackson from jail, the Greatest of the Spaceknights leaves for Washington D.C. to try and recover his neutralizer. Brandy and ROM are pretty much in love already at this point, but he leaves her with her 'boyfriend,' since he's tragically given his humanity to become a cyborg.

ROM never had action figure variants, so there was no cheap-and-easy black repaint "stealth" version, so ROM shows up on radar. (Do other flying heroes in the Marvel Universe pop up on radar all the time? Or just the metal ones? I know the Hulk does when it's plot-convenient...) The Air Force launches interceptors, which are no match for ROM, but he gets shot from behind by a Dire Wraith hovercraft and taken captive. Meanwhile, back in Clairton, 'Steve' may be up to something...

For some reason as a kid, I seemed to enjoy ROM, but only read it on double-sized issues or annuals. Weird.

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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

From CBR and elsewhere, I was sad to see John Severin passed away at the age of 90.

I always thought of him as a Western artist, even though he did so much other stuff. In fact, he was still working, having recently done Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever just last year; along with some B.P.R.D. work. Awesome.

My condolences to Mr. Severin's family. He will be missed, but his work will still be enjoyed for years to come.
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"Second Catdate."

Hope you all make someone writhe with jealousy today, Happy Valentines!
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Monday, February 13, 2012

This post cost me $5.50.

I was going to post pictures of these little Zombie Planet toys yesterday, while watching the Walking Dead, but I fell asleep before the new episode. That may or may not be an indicator of the last half-season of the show, I do have to get up pretty damn early. And then my pictures didn't turn out anyway, and then I bought a couple more at lunch, so here we are.

I haven't read the comic, but I usually enjoy the Walking Dead, even if there are a few things that hurt my suspension of disbelief...yes, I can totally accept zombies or walkers or whatever, but don't understand, for example, why the group doesn't move off of Hershel's farm to like the next one down the road. Can't be that hard to clear one out, relatively speaking. And how come the 'walkers' haven't dehydrated into mummies? Anyway, I usually watch it with my Oldest son, but I also usually watch it beforehand to make sure there's nothing too out of line for him to see. We usually discuss what they do wrong; for example, please wear gloves while handling corpses. Or, Shane's tirade at the end of "Pretty Much Dead Already" is correct, but he picks the worst way to go about it.

Back to these little figures, has a right fine review of 'em up, as well as links to get your own. Buy a case! Buy a vending machine! They're fifty cents a pop in my neighborhood, although you may also see them for seventy-five cents, maybe even a buck. I've done pretty well on the assortment, though: I did get an extra cheerleader, but I think that's my only duplicate out of nine tries.

The other dollar went for the girl in the picture above, Ann from the King Kong capsules of a few years back. (I took a picture of one some time ago.) The paint apps may actually be better on the Zombie Planet figures, though.
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Here's hoping I can come up with a better title than "Cross-No-ver."

I've been writing posts and saving them for later--partially in case of emergency, or I get hung up with something, or spring finally comes and I feel like going outside again--or, as is the case with today's issue, I'm trying to create a series of more than two posts.

Anyway, crossover fatigue is today considered passe: general consensus seems to now be, either buy the big crossover events, or don't, but stop complaining about them either way. But here, we'll be looking at some crossovers that I truly believe will stand the test of time. They might not be the biggest or the best known, but these will both stay untarnished in your memories and be immune to future retcons.

Because they never actually happened. Which at the very least, means they saved you a good pile of cash if nothing else. Like today's crossover: Secret Wars III!

Yeah, that never happened. Except "Secret Wars III" is an obvious title; it was used in What The--?! #1 for a Ditko story, and again in Fantastic Four #319, where the Beyonder is turned into a Cosmic Cube or something. This one's better: Deadpool Team-Up #1, or Deadpool/Widdle Wade as I always saw it. Written by James Felder, pencils by Pete Woods, inks by Walden Wong. The cover has the old "Secret Wars II continues in this issue!" corner tag, but mentions III inside.

Set back when he was trying to work for the Kingpin, Pool tries to kill the Beyonder, as the Beyonder tries to pass himself off as the new messiah, Elvis. That already sounds better than most of Secret Wars II; but this is just a four-page opener, set in the past so a Yakuza flunkie can get a sample of Pool's blood for cloning...

Just another joke in a book full of them, but pretty good. Next week: a little crossover about a small matter...

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