Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Man, I would so buy a six-inch scale one of these:

Hmm, guess we should mention possible spoilers for the Batman: Under the Red Hood DVD and Batman #641, "Family Reunion, conclusion: Face to Face" Written by Judd Winick, pencils by Doug Mahnke, and inks by Tom Nguyen. By the way, I honestly thought if I searched the GCD by title for "Face to Face," you'd come up with about 80 Batman comics...

I don't know if I was reading the issues as they came out, but I rather prefer the Under the Red Hood DVD to the comics it was adapted from: the DVD has to cut extraneous elements, and has a far more elegant solution for the resurrection of Jason Todd than "Superboy punched reality." It does help that the DVD was maybe the second, third Blu-Ray I ever bought--I haven't built up a massive collection, to be honest.

Upon his return, Jason is shocked that Bruce didn't end the Joker for killing him. After all, Jason would've. Bruce refuses to cross that line, but Jason will, saying Gotham is "evil. And you have to fight her where she lives." Before escaping, Jason leaves Bruce fingerprints, hair, tissue, and blood samples by cutting himself with a Batarang; and after testing Bruce has to concede that it's really Jason. (He'd been fooled with a Clayface in Hush, although Jason had tagged in for part of that fight.)

As we see above, Alfred asks Bruce if the memorial to Jason, his Robin uniform, should be removed. Bruce says no: "This doesn't change anything. It doesn't change anything at all." I haven't read every story since with Jason, but I have the feeling some writers embraced him, and others did not: in some stories, the Batman-trained Jason is scarily competent; in others, he's a sad, pathetic wannabe with dyed hair, scalp problems, and delusions of grandeur.

That said, Jason's memorial has become one of the most recognizable trophies in the Batcave. Personally I'd put it behind the dinosaur and the giant penny but ahead of the Joker card. I was going to do a Batman strip soon, and while I have a silly dinosaur I've used in strips before, and am pretty sure I could print off a Joker card; I'm not sure how big the giant penny should be, and have no idea how to knock out a Robin costume case. I would dearly love a decently priced, DCUC/six-inch scale one--I think a decent one could be made without it being a full-on lucite cube, which might be too expensive. Might shop that around now...a few minutes searching found this, which might be worth giving a try the next time I'm feeling crafty. We'll see...

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Monday, July 30, 2012

That is the weirdest prisoner transport I've ever seen.

...and I don't know about those waist-mounted rockets, either. From 1996, Uncanny Origins #4, "Forged in Fire!" Written by James Felder, pencils by Dave Hoover, inks by Bill Anderson. This was a ninety-nine cent series, and this issue retells the origin of Firelord. Actually, I'm not sure a lot of his story was ever told in one place, before or since.

The world Xandar, home of the Nova Corps, seat of the mighty Xandarian Empire, and blown up like four times since it was introduced. It's also home of the Xandarian Space Academy, where young cadet Pyreus Kril is one of their finest students. An orphan, Pyreus worked his way up from the gutter, because he believed in the Empire's ideals of "loyalty, friendship, and courage," and he idolized the aging hero, Commander Gabriel Lan. Lan, disillusioned and tired, meets Pyreus to see the enthusiasum and idealism he's long since lost; but the two become friends. (Imagine if you could meet Captain Kirk, and become his best pal, and join his crew: Pyreus is living the dream.)

Having his fill of war, Gabriel takes the commission of the Way-Opener; the oldest, smallest ship in the fleet. But, it's an exploratory mission, and he wants the chance to see something new. His four-man crew are burnouts, injured, a cadet that decked the Admiral, and Pyreus, who insists on joining his commander.

In the waning days of the Xandarian Empire, the crew of the Way-Opener explore new worlds and fight Kree, Skrulls, and Tharks; becoming a beacon of inspiration. (Pyreus also hooks up with the cute navigator, which almost seems like an editorial addition: he always seemed really devoted to his commander. Not that there's anything wrong with that...) Still, after three years, Gabriel is still tired of serving the empire, and feels like there must be something more for him.

Then, the Way-Opener encounters a colossal starship, which teleports Gabriel away. Taking command, Pyreus gives chase, realizing his commander's abductor was Galactus; a fact not lost on the Xandarian High Council, who order Pyreus to stand down and not antagonize him. Refusing to abandon Gabriel, Pyreus and the crew give chase, following Galactus by the trail of drained and lifeless planets left in his wake. A burned survivor tells of "an angel of death...the Air-Walker."

Finally reaching their quarry, the Way-Opener is outclassed, and almost immediately destroyed. The crew escapes in a rescue skiff, but Pyreus is teleported to Galactus himself; who offers him a deal: become his new herald, and he will tell him what happened to Gabriel. Pyreus agrees, and is transformed into Firelord; just as Gabriel had become the Air-Walker. Gabriel had served Galactus, until his death; then his soul was put in a robot, which also died. Galactus points out Gabriel killed billions leading him to new planets to consume, and wonders what Firelord now thinks of his friend.

Pyreus refuses to think any less of his friend, calling Galactus a monster that could never understand friendship or loyalty. He may have a point, since Galactus then mind-wipes him a bit (something he did to the Silver Surfer as well, and may or may not have done to Gabriel) to make him a more tractable herald. Firelord would serve as herald for many years--maybe, that doesn't really track since it wasn't that long from when the Surfer broke free. Still, eventually Firelord wanted to be free himself, and after meeting Thor, Galactus agreed to take the Destroyer as herald instead.

Some time later, on a Christmas morning, Thor fought and destroyed a rebuilt Air-Walker robot, just in time for Firelord to miss reuniting with his lost friend. Enraged, he fought Thor, until Thor explained he felled the robot unknowingly. Forgiving Thor, Firelord buries his friend, and takes again to space, the last legacy of the Xandarian Empire. (At the time, anyway.)

Although he had never been a character I really liked, there is nothing about this issue I don't love. Ninety-nine cents, an origin rarely seen, a great animated-style that I wish Marvel would've dabbled in a bit more. Of course, this wasn't even my favorite issue of Uncanny Origins...no, not the Cyclops one. For good measure, you could also find a lot of this series for $1.99 an issue, but with Kurt Busiek's great Untold Tales of Spider-Man!

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Friday, July 27, 2012

The cover really sells this one:

Is that all the retellings of Nightcrawler's origin I could find? Um, maybe; and we did skip some like the Ultimate X-Men version. Still, bits and pieces of it are seen here and there, like, um, here: Classic X-Men #15, "Armageddon Now!" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Terry Austin. Of course, this is a reprint of X-Men #108, but it has an Art Adams cover where Nightcrawler is staked by his teammates.

Still, with that, I'm on vacation! Normal programming resumes...Monday, actually; posts are already set up, I just won't be handy. Have a good week!

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nightcrawler would probably prefer the angry villagers to this one...

Wow, I knew Chuck Austen was, well, reviled is probably the right word; but I didn't think it would go this far: I couldn't even find this issue in the GCD and had to put it in myself! From 2003, X-Men 2 Prequel: Nightcrawler, written by Chuck Austen, art by Karl Kerschl.

This issue blends elements of Nightcrawler's usual continuity--life in the circus, crushing hard on his adopted sister Amanda--with the movies, as Kurt is mind-controlled and captured by Stryker and his anti-mutant forces. Austen does a good job here, painting Kurt as a devout young man who is still a bit of a smartass; as seen when he takes several beatings for daring to pray to humanity's God. (For his part, even Stryker seems to think his men took things too far, and he's a racist murderer.)
I like the art this issue as well, although Nightcrawler doesn't have the scarification/tattoos/markings he had in the movie. Eh, that's fine.

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80-Page Thursdays: Strange Adventures #1! (2011)

By this point, I feel like I should have some kind of formula or equation for how much I like these 80-pagers. What characters are involved, what creators, how many stories are in the issue, how old the issue is, how much I paid for it...The reason I'm wondering about that, is that today's issue doesn't push my buttons as much as I would've expected. From 2011, Strange Adventures #1, featuring stories by Peter Milligan, Paul Cornell, Brian Azzarello, and more; and art by Eduardo Risso, Goran Sudzuka, Denys Cowan, Juan Bobillo, and more. Jeff Lemire, Ross Campbell, and Kevin Colden all write and draw their stories, to boot.

This issue features nine short stories, including two that serve as previews for Saucer Country and Spaceman. DC seems to alternate the Strange Adventures title from DCU science-space heroics, and oddball Vertigo shorts, and this issue is squarely in the Vertigo camp. It does seem a little more mean-spirited and grim than usual, though. (I need to get the last two issues of the 1999 limited, the first two were pretty good.) And Jeff Lemire puts a Vertigo spin on the old DC space character, Ultra the Multi-Alien. In the best Vertigo tradition, it is now a complete downer.

I got this issue for a buck, but it still feels hollow. Not bad, I suppose, but perhaps not to my taste. Peter Milligan's "Partners" is probably my favorite of the lot, but it's not my favorite of his, either.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In case you were having trouble picturing it:

I know I watched the old Fox X-Men cartoon when it originally aired, but I'm not sure I ever forgave it for having Gambit from episode one, then taking three seasons to get to Nightcrawler. The above clip does a good job of the villagers' chase, but the episode really hammers on the point of Nightcrawler's Christianity. It even goes as far to suggest Wolverine finding God, which always seems a bad fit to me: Logan would have a hard time maintaining faith and justifying all the stabbing...

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(Not a) Review: Dinner Jacket Venom!

Sometimes, a figure just comes out of nowhere and grabs your heart. In a good way. In this case, he comes from Toy Biz, a few years back, and China: Dinner Jacket Venom!
OK, that's not the figure's proper name, but it might as well be: although I picked this one up loose on eBay, I had the devil's own time finding any info on him online. Here's a link to a packaged but out-of-stock one: aw, he came with a little helmet to go with his Venom-chopper! Here's one that's in-stock--too rich for my blood, but the cycle is adorkable.

Although I'm going to insist on calling him Dinner Jacket Venom, it's more of a biker jacket, with a raised collar and visible zipper. On mine, I think the right thigh is either mispainted or maybe even the wrong piece--he should apparently have a solid white patch on the inside thigh, and three white marks on the outer thigh. Not a dealbreaker for me. DJ Venom (spinning all-trance every Friday) isn't as muscular as some Venom figures have been--he's not as roided-out as Todd McFarlane used to draw him, then. While he doesn't have some of the traditional Legends articulation--no chest or ankle points--he's got at least fifteen points, including ball-jointed hips, shoulders, and neck.
I think I was comparing this Venom to the current, Flash Thompson version: not really close, no. I don't think even the addition of gunbelts would do it. But for some reason, he just struck me as fun.

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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

At first glance, this looks like a retelling of Nightcrawler's first appearance in Giant-Size X-Men #1. In the next page, Kurt even gives the same "I learn my lessons well!" speech, but it's slightly reworded, since it's out loud, to the angry villagers this time.
In fact, this was another batch of angry visitors, accusing Nightcrawler of having killed a child. The "child" in question, though, was merely a disguise of a monster, that was killed by its brethren for revealing itself; and the monsters in question had been killing children and may have been responsible for Kurt's step-brother going insane, which led to his death at Kurt's hands...

Yeah, this was a pretty big lump of retcon, in Marvel Comics Presents #104, "Male Bonding, part 4: You Know That We Do It Together" Written by Scott Lobdell, pencils by Gene Colan, inks by Al Williamson. In previous versions, Kurt's stepbrother Stefan made Kurt promise if he ever went bad, Kurt would stop him; and Stefan did go bad, committing more than a couple murders. He ended up snapping his neck in Kurt's tail, at which point the villagers found them, and gave chase, leading into Giant-Size.

Kurt fares against the villagers about as well as he did the first time, but luckily he's saved this time by Wolverine. This was their first team-up since Logan and the X-Men supposedly died in Uncanny X-Men #226 (an issue I have, but needed the footnote this issue to remind me) and Kurt's a little pissed about not being let in on the gag.

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Monday, July 23, 2012

No one asked, but about the Dark Knight Rises:

Ooh, spoilers. Obscure points ahead!

Short answer? I really liked it, both by itself but especially as part of a trilogy. But I'm looking forward to more Batman...in a different way.

I don't know how it would be coming in cold, but Nolan's Dark Knight Rises isn't just a great conclusion to his Batman trilogy, the way various plot points and moments come together make it more cohesive than any other movie trilogy I could name. Catwoman and Bane were both great: just about everything that was wrong with them in their other movies, Nolan gets right. (There's another villain briefly in late, that's also great.) While some plot points were a bit telegraphed, there were others that were genuinely surprising to me, even though I went well out of my way to avoid spoilers. Still, a couple of thoughts:

It bothered me that Batman's career was really short: I thought he may have seen a little action after the Dark Knight, but how did he wreck his knee? Running from the cops? Every so often in the comics, Batman and the police force's working relationship goes south, but the motorcycle chase scene really underlined what a pain in the ass it would be to work like that.

The Dent Act seems like something Batman would not be OK with, either. I misheard it and thought it was a thousand mobsters locked up without due process; when I think it was probably "just" without parole; but it was based on a lie, and to me it seems pretty likely that out of that thousand, there has to be someone who doesn't deserve eight years in the joint: I don't think Batman would stand for one innocent person suffering to keep a thousand criminals locked up. Gordon might compromise and choke that one down, but it would hurt.

While it sets up a later point, I didn't like Alfred and Bruce's last conversation. I just can't see either one of them not forgiving the other, for anything; although I figure Alfred had to be taken off the board there.

Weird, it's President Henry Hayes! Guess we know what universe this is the Batman of...

I don't know if this point was made clear, or if I missed it, but the fusion clean-energy project was heavily invested in by Wayne Industries, but was proposed by Miranda Tate. An important distinction, since without that point it really makes Wayne's attempts to improve the world colossal failures across the board. (Let's keep all these weapons safe in our basement...) Did you trust Miranda, at all? I think I knew going in that she wasn't what she seemed, although she did surprise me once or twice.

I didn't have a problem with the character of Blake, but...and big spoiler here: in the end, when Bruce leaves him the cave, did you think, "so what?" Can Blake become a Batman, or another symbol, without that fat Wayne bank backing him up? I suppose there may be some remnants of Tumblers and other gear floating around for him to scavenge--and I was momentarily hoping one of those destroyed Tumblers would spit out a Batpod, too.

But, and keep in mind I really enjoyed all three movies, Nolan's more real-world take on the Batman isn't necessarily the Batman you might have in your head, is it? Personally, my Batman is agile--less Frank Miller, more Marshall Rogers or Alan Davis or Jim Aparo or Norm Breyfogle. Next Batman movie--and we all know it's coming, which I'm fine with--I want a Batman that can move, that isn't armored up to the point that he can't turn his neck. Picture Batman, in the cave, cowl off, training with parallel bars: that shows a level of strength, balance and coordination that I don't think a live-action Batman has brought to play yet.

If I was writing or directing the next Batman--and yeah, no one's asking!--I would keep it away from anything Nolan's done. No origin, everyone knows it. No training montage. Show Bats doing some detective work, for god's sake. Open with a youngish Batman, in his prime, against a super-powered foe or two: someone visually impressive, but not deep enough to build a whole movie around; just to show Batman as someone who has trained and equipped himself to be more than a match for anything. Maybe Blockbuster or Amygdala...

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As usual, this is the week before I go on vacation: there are posts scheduled, although I couldn't tell you what off the top of my head. To get ready to go, we're having another Nightcrawler week. This year, we're checking out retellings of Nightcrawler's origin: it hasn't been retold as many times as Wolverine or most of the other X-Men, even, but in the years since 1975's Giant-Size X-Men #1 it's been touched upon a time or two. In fact, we saw a page from the Len Wein/Dave Cockrum original along with the modernized retelling in X-Men Origins: Nightcrawler.

Today's version is from Uncanny Origins #8, "From Circus Freak to X-Man" Written by Bill Rosemann, art by Mark Campos. While it sticks to the "villagers chasing Kurt" and most of the same dialogue as the original, it also ties into the retcon from Uncanny X-Men Annual #4: the villagers are chasing Kurt, because they found him over the body of his stepbrother. Which gives the villagers slightly more motivation than simply "kill the monster," but also makes it odd that Professor X recruits Kurt without any investigation at all. (Admittedly, there wasn't time, since the Professor had to rescue the team trapped on Krakoa; and reading Kurt's mind he would know Kurt was innocent.)

This is probably my favorite retelling of Nightcrawler's origin, mainly because of Campos's art, but it's also the only place I can think of that most, if not all his continuity is in one place.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Here's something for the ladies. The Korbinite ladies, I guess.

From Silver Surfer #121, "Execution Day" Written by George Perez, pencils by Scot Eaton, inks by Don Hudson. This was the conclusion of a ten, eleven part "Uni-Lord" saga written by Perez; involving the Surfer being split into several pieces and distributed between a batch of aliens. Not great. The Surfer gets himself together, and back to our reality, but also is zapped by a mysterious light...

He's found by his pals Beta Ray Bill and Quasar; the three had been called the Star Masters. I'm not sure by who. Bill had also been redesigned a bit, since in Warren Ellis's brief run on Thor, the World Tree Yggdrasil removed Thor's power from him. It looked like he was going to killed off, but Bill would return with the above costume and modified Stormbreaker hammer. Bill and Thor both had some terrible costumes there for a while.

Re-reading the last couple of years worth of Silver Surfer this afternoon, mostly written by J.M. DeMatteis, with a good stretch of art by Ron Garney. Mostly pretty good. I am mildly curious why I had Big Black Kiss #2 in the same box as a bunch of Silver Surfer and Micronauts...

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Secret Origins 80-Page Giant!

Although it's not indicated in the title or the indica, this is the Young Justice issue: Secret Origins 80-Page Giant #1, featuring stories from Chuck Dixon, Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, and more; with art by Humberto Ramos, Cully Hamner, Amanda Conner, and more.

Secret, a mysterious young girl with gaseous powers, has been observing the heroes of Young Justice since they freed her on their first adventure. At their cave headquarters, she meets the Red Tornado, and they talk about Impulse, Superboy, and Robin; as well as Spoiler, Wonder Girl, and Arrowette.

Keeping with the main, Peter David-written Young Justice book, most of the stories are light and entertaining. Spoiler's origin and then-current status as a soon-to-be teen mom is probably the most weighty; but even that doesn't seem like it will keep her down. Arrowette's origin is also the origin of her mom; a former Olympic archer who tried to take the archer/superhero route of Green Arrow and Speedy...unsuccessfully.

A great 80-pager: I swear, DC knocked out a pretty good batch of them in the late 90's, and next week we might keep that streak rolling with another one. Read more!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

"Mission, like Burma."

Playing with Alfred and Batman this afternoon, waiting for a repairman. And misspelling "council."

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The title's at the end of this one...

Hmm. Goldmember didn't pop up first in the list of movies Michael Caine was known for. (The Oldest was watching the Austin Powers movies last month, and I think I made it through about an hour.) Goldmember isn't the best of the Austin Powers movies, but "Daddy Wasn't There" was a pretty good number.

Dale, of Mr. Morbid's House of Fun fame, hooked me up with the Movie Masters Alfred figure, and thanks again! Now I have someone to do all of Batman's prep work, cooking, and light cleaning! I'll own up to this little confession as well: Dale shipped it UPS, and I'm not home when they come around, nor have I trained that dog to sign for packages yet. So, I called and told them I'd pick it up...then wrote the address down wrong and ended up first on a dirt road in the country, then a gated community, before finally getting to the UPS hub. In fact, I'm not sure I would've found it if I hadn't seen a UPS truck...you can make things a lot more exciting for yourself if you're kind of dumb, man. It was a nice drive, and I ended up going to Toys R Us and everything too.

Although I don't think I've posted any of them yet, I've been scanning some Batcave panels. Someone, not me, needs to set up some kind of online resource for building a DCUC scale Batcave. How big is the giant penny in-scale? Or the dinosaur? Or the Joker card and everything else? I'm still looking into that, but who knows how far I'm going to get on it...actually, I know we'll look more into that, it's scheduled for some other time.

BATMAN: Alfred, I'm going to need complete plans to the Davis Building downtown, ISBN info for every children's riddle book published in 1987, samples of all the major brands of insecticide...and I might need you to take a look at this stab wound. Man, it's a bleeder.

ALFRED: Of course, sir; but there's something I need to tell you first. It's about a secret, one I've kept for far too long.
BATS: Is it about my secret brother? I'm way ahead of you, 'cause I think he's the guy that stabbed me...

ALFRED: No, sir. It's about my son. He found me, and he's here for a visit...
BATS: What? Alfred, I didn't even know you had a son!
ALFRED: Yes, well, I like to keep my personal and private lives separate, sir.

BATS: Uh...ok...
ALFRED: There's something else, sir: he knows you're Batman.
BATS: Wha--how? Did you--!?
ALFRED: No, sir. He's in British intelligence, just like I was. I don't know if he's at my level, but he's no slouch. He's been...touring the cave all afternoon.

AUSTIN: Hey, baby! I think you've got it, wrong, man: you're supposed to build a swinging pad to lure birds, baby; not bats!

AUSTIN: Hey, is that a giant penny? I thought Fat Bastard had the biggest coin slot in the world!

BATS: ...
ALFRED: Yeah, I don't like it anymore than you do.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I know I had these two issues for a reason, but...

The blog's name is Random Happenstance, but it just as well could've been Faulty Headmeat Misfiring, since I'm not positive why I was thinking of these two issues for the same post. I think, on my walk home the other day (sometime in the last three months, since who knows when this'll be posted...) and was thinking about an issue I don't have handy: Justice League International #21, a fun Giffen/DeMatteis/Templeton romp with the team on Apokolips, and the return of Mister Miracle.

I think Mister Miracle is a character I like the idea of, more than any actual issues I've read of his. And I have the Kirby trade, and I've read a bit of his solo books, and some of the Morrison/Seven Soldiers version, and I loved his guest-spot in the last issue of Orion. (That last one will end up in "The End" Week one of these years.) And I think I still have the Steve Rude Mister Miracle Special from 1987 somewhere, too. It's not bad, but Rude's art there isn't as...lush as it was in Nexus. Or as animated as it was from this other book Rude did in 1987: from Comico, Space Ghost #1!

With Mark Evanier co-writing, Willie Blyberg on inks, and painted colors by Ken Steacy (!) Rude drops a love-letter to Hanna-Barbera's cartoon hero that reads like the extra-length episode you always wanted. A mysterious figure frees some of Space Ghost's greatest foes from intergalactic prison, including Zorak, Brak, and the Lurker; and the masked hero is going to have to run the gauntlet. Straight-forward, but super-fun.

Unfortunately, it's also square-bound, so it was a bear to cram in the scanner. Oddly, though, I think I have a spare copy of this bagged up somewhere from my college days; and that just makes me wonder what the distribution and sales were like for it...!

But, since I had been thinking of Mister Miracle, I also thought of this issue, also written by Mark Evanier, as luck would have it: Superman Adventures #42, "Living (Scott) Free" (Art by Neil Voker, inks by Terry Austin.) After a quick retelling of Scott's escape from the orphanage of Granny Goodness and Apokolips itself, we catch up with Mister Miracle trying to drum up publicity with daring escapes...that keep getting interrupted by Superman saving him.

Superman can't figure out why someone would willingly risk their life for nothing, but as Scott describes it as a celebration of freedom. Of course, Granny Goodness gets in on the action, planting a bomb on Scott's rocket-sled trick that will explode if he gets off, or crashes, or if Superman picks it up. Undaunted, Scott opens a boom tube to Apokalips, to "take a faulty product back to the manufacturer!"

This ish also features Big Barda, and some Parademons who use the "Pachydermatological Ray" to cause a ruckus at the circus, and is a lot of fun. Still, that doesn't really explain how my poor brain connected these two comics together, yet here we are.

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Monday, July 16, 2012

From 2003, Marvel Double Shot #2, "The Roots of All Evil" Story and art by Bill Morrison, best known as co-founder of Bongo Comics.
When Loki swears vengeance on Thor (again...) the Enchantress is mildly concerned that he may actually do it someday, so she puts the idea in his head to revisit his roots, as God of Mischief. Inspired, Loki turns to pranksterism, putting hair-removal cream in Thor's helmet. But, after flushing the toilet while the Falcon's in the shower, Loki decides why stop with just Thor?
In short order, Iron Man's armor is filled with fire ants, Cap's shield is vasolined, the Scarlet Witch is dyed scarlet, and more. Unfortunately, Loki didn't take Jarvis into account, or a well-placed inflated sheep's bladder. (The Black Knight would have to "put aside his craving for haggis one more day.")

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Friday, July 13, 2012

A quick one today, so we can all get back to reading SDCC headlines...

I was seriously considering bagging out today, honestly. It's about a hundred degrees here--which I like, but my dog is hot to the touch, so he can't go anywhere. I've got a flat tire I need fixed, my keyboard occasionally refuses to type the letter 'c,' and like I said, everyone still at home is doubtless reading about goings on from San Diego Comic-Con. But, real quickly:

Being cheap, I didn't spring for Mattel's DC subscription, although I had at least a passing interest in the Metron figure. There are reviews out there with some pretty good pictures--Needless Things, It's All True, OAFE.net, a guest review at Poe Ghostal's--and the general consensus is that Metron himself is somewhere between fine and OK, but the chair is all kinds of great. In fact, the Mobius Chair should probably get billing over Metron.

Now, DC Direct also did a Metron figure a year or two back, but without a chair. Which just seems sad: he and his chair are pretty inseparable. You don't see Captain America sold without his shield, or Thor without his hammer, or Professor X without...his chair. (Metron can walk, he's just lazy. And the Mobius Chair can travel the length and breadth of the space-time continuum...) Hastings' website has the DCD Mobius on sale for $4.25 right now, and they also occasionally have sales on shipping as well. I've been wondering if I'm crafty and/or industrious enough to cobble a chair together for him...out of pizza boxes and dog hair, apparently.

This train of thought compelled me to dig up an issue where the Mobius Chair is on panel more than its master: Marvel and DC Present Featuring the Uncanny X-Men and the New Titans #1, "Apokolips...Now" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Walt Simonson, inks by Terry Austin; reprinted in Crossover Classics. Darkseid and Metron make a little tech-swap, so Darkseid can try to harness the power of Dark Phoenix, and Metron can try to breach the Source Wall. Metron seemingly fails immediately, his chair drifting off unattended. But, the chair would be found later by the X-Men and the Titans, who would use it to get back to earth:
I thought I had a different reprint, besides the big trade; I would've also scanned a panel where Cyclops is possessed/inhabited by the Dark Phoenix power, as indicated by the addition of the tasteful emblem and not a red thong. Then again, I also thought the X-Men and the Titans all just piled onto the Mobius Chair for the ride home, all fourteen of them crammed on there like a fat guy on a minibike. Duhr.

What the heck, let's have a quick look at a somewhat different Metron--a lackey of Darkseid, in a dark future--and a different chair; this also features my favorite description of life I've ever heard, and one of my favorite single issues: JLA #14, "Rock of Ages, part five: Twilight of the Gods" Written by Grant Morrison, art by Howard Porter, inks by John Dell. While Wonder Woman gives her life to distract Darkseid, and our timeline's Wally, Kyle, and Aquaman stand around confused; Batman convinces Metron there's something he doesn't know. Metron is intrigued, and is goaded to "narrow the frequencies of my form to an exact simulation of your biology. I can easily become human."
How many splash pages were there in the most recent issue of JLA? This issue just has one, the traditional splash page opening. So good, even if that means there isn't a great big shot of Metron and his chair. Oh, well.

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Silver Age 80-Page Giant #1!

Featuring possibly the biggest cast of any 80-pager we've seen yet, the conclusion to DC's Silver Age fifth-week event: Silver Age 80-Page Giant #1, "S.O.S. to Nowhere!" Written by Mark Waid, art by Eduardo Barreto. As the cover says, "starring 37 super-stars and 9 vile villains!"

The villains in question are the Injustice League (Sinestro, Dr. Light, Chronos, Mr. Element, Felix Faust, Catwoman, Black Manta, the Penguin, and Lex Luthor) who, with the alien villain Agamemno, have stolen the master power battery of the Green Lantern Corps, the Absorbascon, and a jewel from Krypton. Putting them all together, the IL has access to the combined knowledge of the human race, including the JLA's secret identities; and new multicolored power rings. The entire Green Lantern Corps is paralyzed over Rann, and although the JLA is back in their own bodies, they're on the ropes.

Taking their loved ones to safety in Gorilla City, the League's only hope is a mysterious, unknown band of superheroes the Atom and the Challengers of the Unknown saw in Chronos' time-pool. But with the villains new powers are too much for the JLA, even with help from the Teen Titans, Doom Patrol, Batgirl, the Metal Men, Metamorpho, and more. (Notably, Kid Flash and Adam Strange are missing...) J'onn, however, has a last gasp plan, that he can't share with the team since he can only telepathically shield the info in his own mind.

Facing the Injustice League, the JLA is nearly defeated when J'onn arrives with Robby Reed and his H.E.R.O. dial. Using the dial, the League transform into new heroes that the IL isn't prepared for, and beats them. That gives Agamemno the opening to return, but reinforcements arrive in the form of Hawkman--possibly the one we know, possibly not, but he came with a phalanx of Hawk-police and the entire GLC. J'onn removes the Absorbascon and the Kryptonian jewel from Agamemno's device, and the Green Lanterns imprison him in the power battery.

Using the Absorbascon, the collected knowledge is removed from the Injustice League (and Luthor is forced to restore the JLA's reputation in order to stay out of jail) and Deadman reveals that he and Adam Strange used Kid Flash and a zeta-beam, to get to Rann and free the GLC. Young Robby Reed worries the JLA may confiscate the alien hero-dial, but they agree he's earned it.

The issue also features Silver Age style Batman, Wonder Girl, and Super-Turtle stories. I know I've bought this one out of the quarter-bins more than once; and I like this particular event, even though at cover price it would've been one of the more expensive fifth-week events.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Bringdown at the Baxter Building."

I imagine Reed probably has to do a battery of scans every time the Fantastic Four returns from the Negative Zone or deep space or wherever, to make sure they haven't brought anything back, and that they're actually home. It's why I kind of liked the Four Freedoms Plaza building, with the big fours on it. Easier to find.

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