Friday, September 28, 2012

That...that doesn't seem OK...

I'm thinking Man Bear might've preferred the stun arrow to the...expanding clamp one. Not OK, Green Arrow. From World's Finest Comics #245, "The Man Bear Stalks at Midnight" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by Mike Nasser and Terry Austin.

Little under the weather this week, I'm afraid, and I was hoping to see Dredd 3D in theaters and pick up Avengers on Blu-Ray, so we'll see if I get either of those done.
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Thursday, September 27, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: World's Finest Comics #245!

I always keep an eye out for old World's Finest Comics, since I've been trying to find one I only vaguely remember from when I was like six or so. It was a bigger issue, maybe 80 or 100 pages; and I'm pretty sure it had Vigilante, but I'm not positive. Maybe it was today's issue, maybe not: World's Finest Comics #245, with stories by Bob Haney, Gerry Conway, and Bill Kunkel; art by Curt Swan, Michael Netzer, and Gray Morrow.

The opening story, "Today Mars, Tomorrow the Universe!" touches base with the Martian Manhunter; who visits Hawkman and Hawkwoman, and nearly gets assassinated by a Superman robot with a bomb in it. J'onn has been trying to track down whoever killed R'es Eda on Mars II, and R'es's dying words make it sound like his killer was a member of the Justice League. The Superman robot was sent by N'or Cott, chief of the Martian military; and as Superman and Batman join the investigation, Batman wonders why N'or was trying to kill J'onn instead of bringing him back to Mars II.

Superman and J'onn discover R'es faked his death, to get J'onn out of the way on a wild goose chase, so he could take over. R'es intends to take the Martian army to attack an alien city; but Batman discovers N'or, infected with germs from the city. Honestly, the Martians are like the Kryptonians: every time you meet one not related to J'onn or Superman, they're a total dick.

Next, Green Arrow faces the Man Bear, which reminds me...of a completely inappropriate joke, for some reason.

Black Canary follows up on the same case, namely whoever made that Man Bear thing. Then, a Vigilante story with a surprisingly high body count, and a WWII-era Wonder Woman story.
Darn, that Vigilante one doesn't seem like the one I remember; but I don't think he was in a ton of World's Finest issues.
This issue also comes with a Neal Adams cover, so pretty solid.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

"The lone and level sands (not included.)"

Since we brought it up again last week. The poem "Ozymandias" may need its own tag, since we saw it on posts for Avengers #57, Incredible Hulk #467, and Avengers: The Ultron Imperative.

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The only good use for Cosmic Awareness, would be to avoid Cosmic Awareness...

Some time ago, we checked out an issue where Quasar got cosmic awareness. He was little more than a quantum-ghost at the time, but he did pretty well with it. Better than today's issue! From 2002, Captain Marvel #1 (Volume 4) "Shards" Written by Peter David, art by ChrisCross. This was more like issue #36, but he got another #1...

Rick Jones narrates this issue: he's still bound to the current Captain Marvel, Genis; and one of them is stuck in the Microverse while the other's in the regular universe. And today Rick tells us how Captain Marvel went insane.

Rick explains how "Marv," is and isn't the son of the original CM, Mar-Vell: created by alien genetic manipulation, he's only a few years old, but has all of his "dad's" powers. Including cosmic awareness. That's kind of a hard one to get a handle on, both in and out of story: usually, you could picture it as the character instinctively intuits whatever the plot needs him to know. In this case, Marv uses the power and sees a young boy on earth, offered drugs. Intervening, the pusher turns out to be an alien. Huh.

Rick has to admit that's kind of impressive, but notes Marv didn't seem to believe in a higher power before, yet now was "firmly convinced that the cosmos is a living, breathing entity that's tapped into him and helping him call the shots." Rick then tells Marv the parable of the blind men and the elephant, suggesting maybe God's like an elephant, and we're all blind men. Marv responds, "Why were those men feeling up an elephant? That sounds rather...creepy." Bad touch!

That may be the last moment of clarity for Marv, though; as mid-fight he gets another cosmic awareness flash. Needed elsewhere, Marv incinerates the alien, then races across the world to stop a suicide bomber. Whom we see is having second thoughts, as she realizes a mother and child are in danger. Marv grabs the bomber, who pleads for her life. Disarming the bomb, Marv turns the bomber over to police...where she is promptly murdered, by the mother that had persuaded her not to blow herself up. Rick is aghast, while Marv merely says he knew that might happen, but he had to be somewhere else.
In space, Marv arrives on an alien world and what appears to be the aftermath of a battle. A dying alien asks to be taken home, then dies; and Rick wonders what the point of that is. Marv rages that he doesn't know, but he must be there for a reason: he describes the cosmic awareness as a tapestry, and he can see how all the threads affect each other...and then gets two flashes. The alien Badoon--recurring alien bad guys in books like Guardians of the Galaxy--are attacking a helpless planet; while in the opposite direction, a young alien woman is about to be beaten to death by her boyfriend. Marv can't save both...or take home the first alien's corpse.

Opting for the invasion--needs of the many, of course--Marv stops the Badoon, but the cosmic awareness shows him what could have been: if the young alien woman had survived, her experiences would've made her the greatest peacemaker the universe had ever seen. That revelation would've been enough to break Marv, but he's still getting flashes from across the universe, and can't tell which ones he should or shouldn't act on.

So, cosmic awareness is a massively stupid and unhelpful power: Rick describes Marv's other powers as "like Space Ghost...(but) there's no damn monkey" (You're his monkey, Rick.) and even then he couldn't do anything useful with it. I really liked this issue, David's story and ChrisCross's art; and I'm pretty sure I bought it off the racks new, but I'm really wondering why I didn't keep reading the series regularly!
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Monday, September 24, 2012

We all know there's still lots of characters that I would love to see get a Marvel Legends figure--Quasar, Nighthawk, Jack of Hearts, off the top of my head. But then there are many who I'm not necessarily as fond of, but would look great as figures. Even though I'm not a big fan of the Eternals, I always thought Ikaris would be a distinctive figure. Ditto longtime reserve Avenger Stingray. And what the heck, how about this version of the Scourge, from Thunderbolts #39, "Black Hearts" Written by Fabian Nicieza, pencils by Mark Bagley, inks by Scott Hanna.

Nicieza was the T-Bolts' second writer, after series creator Kurt Busiek, and I think he did a pretty good job of continuing the book's themes: the former villains' quest for redemption (or not, in some cases) and surprises. This issue, Baron Helmut Zemo (former leader of the Thunderbolts, as Citizen V) is attacked in his castle by the mysterious Scourge. The reader is privy to narration from Zemo and Scourge, and while Scourge's doesn't reveal his identity; Zemo's shows the character realizing he's at a crossroads.

Thunderbolts had a tradition of masked figures leading to dramatic reveals--the previous issue revealed the current Citizen V, for example; but readers would have to wait a few more to find Scourge's identity. This issue gives a hint that is both perfectly valid and a red herring: in Zemo's throne room, Scourge is obviously enraged by the display of Bucky's tattered costume. As Zemo realizes Scourge's gimmick of using weapons from deceased super-villains, Scourge defeats and seemingly kills Zemo, with a replica of Captain America's shield. And a big, honking sword.

I'm not sure if this fits entirely with current continuity: towards the end of World War II, the original Baron Zemo launched the rocket that Captain America and Bucky tried to stop, leading to Cap being frozen and Bucky's death. (Until the Winter Soldier story...) The way the costume is displayed, it's strongly implied it's from Bucky's corpse; but I suppose if that had been the case, Zemo would've had his corpse in there too.

Icing on the cake: this was a good issue, but it also was one of Marvel's 100-Page Monsters, with reprints of "the criminal career of Hawkeye!" and Luke Cage versus Erik Josten (aka Goliath, or Atlas) for the name Power Man.
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Friday, September 21, 2012

Anyone says 'autumn' is their favorite season, throw this in their face.

'Ooh, it's so pretty, and the leaves change colors!' Yes. Because they're dead.
Tomorrow's the first day of fall. It's called fall. I don't think I've ever even said the word 'autumn' out loud. 'Course, I did grow up in Montana, where winter can run from September to April...

"Fear is the Name of the Game!" Scripted by Marv Wolfman, pencils by Gene Colan, inks by Tom Palmer. Originally from Tomb of Dracula #15, 1973. Reprinted in Halloween Megazine #1 in 1996--man, I wish those Marvel Megazine reprints had caught on.

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

80-Page Thursday: Avengers: The Ultron Imperative!

Hmm, GCD says this is an 84-pager, but we're going to go ahead with it, since I was going to blog it anyway: from 2001, Avengers: The Ultron Imperative. Written by Kurt Busiek (with Roy Thomas, Roger Stern, and Steve Englehart scripting some) and art by John Paul Leon, Paul Smith, Tom Grummett, John McCrea, Jim Starlin, Pat Olliffe, Jorge Lucas, Klaus Janson, and more.
This probably isn't as well remembered as Busiek's previous Ultron story, "Ultron Unlimited" with George Perez, and Thor smashing in and "Ultron, we would have words with thee" and all. But it does have a ton of good art, robot copies of the Avengers, Ultron's crazy ex Alkhema, the Grim Reaper, and guest-star Hawkeye. (Hawkeye had been mostly written out of the Avengers book to free him up to lead the Thunderbolts; although Busiek would still bring him in three or so times...)

It also features several callbacks to classic Avengers stories, including two to the same page of Avengers #57. Here, Cap and the Vision discuss Percy Bysshe Shelley's poem Ozymandias, which I think we've seen on this blog three times this year. Weird.
I keep this issue together with Avengers #38 through #56, the last stretch of Busiek's run, and probably my favorite run of Avengers ever.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"You Never Forget Your First."

I haven't read the Aquaman issues with "The Others," the proto-League Aquaman belonged to before the JLA. Conversely, I may be the only person to have read the Batman Confidential issues with the Zhuguan, the Chinese team Bruce Wayne worked with before he was even Batman. Of course, those latter issues came out right before the relaunch, so they probably were out of continuity even when they were being published.

Anyway, those issues got me thinking that might be something Aquaman and Batman would have in common, and like them, I wondered if any other Leaguers had a starter team. So, we had a little fun with that.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Featuring torture, bestiality, and corporal punishment; but there's still little worse than hearing about your parents doing it...

Ever since the reins of the character were passed from Jack Kirby to other writers; the Demon has gotten more and more transgressive. At least on the story front. Artwise, the Demon's still yellow and red. Which is probably just as well: we didn't need today's comic turning into an issue of Faust. From 1992, the Demon #19, "The Region Beyond, Part 4: Beyond Love Story" Written by Alan Grant, pencils by Val Semeiks, inks by Randy Elliott.

Jason Blood's mind is trapped in the Demon's body, and to make matters worse, he and his companion Thing (not that Thing!) are still trapped in Hell. Blood pretends to be an amnesiac Etrigan, as they are taken in by Lord Scapegoat, an ex-Lord of Hell, and Etrigan's half-brother! After Scapegoat takes his afternoon's torture, the incongruously hospitable devil mentions wishing Merlin was the brothers could get their revenge on him. Blood gets Scapegoat to tell his story, under the pretense of "refreshing his memory."

Scapegoat begins from the beginning: their father, Lord Belial, was bored one day, and decided to conquer a neighboring kingdom of Hell. But surprisingly, the rival Queen Ran Va Daath and Belial fell in love, or at least lust. Daath did attempt to eat Belial after...well, after, but Belial knocked her out, took her home, and thirteen months later their son was born. Blue. Still, Etrigan recovered.
Etrigan quickly established himself as a pretty rotten kid, even for Hell: insanely mischievous, but able to get away with murder (possibly literally...) because of his dad. After embarrassing him in front of Lucifer, Belial starts torturing Etrigan in the hopes of establishing some discipline. No such luck.
Frustrated, Belial takes his advisors' counsel, and ditches Daath in the Pit of Hell: he felt she spoiled the boy, and thought he could claim Etrigan's behavior drove her away. Etrigan doesn't buy it. A century later, Belial takes a hot second wife, described as a minor goddess from the Middle East. She's a stunner, which makes the birth of his second son a little surprising:
Etrigan set his dad up, casting a glamour-spell on an animal spirit. Even Belial seems skeeved out by this, calling it sacrilege, and he kills his "wife," but can't bring himself to kill his son, Scapegoat. Belial claimed the baby would have power over Etrigan, and would hate and humiliate and rule him. But the good-natured Scapegoat did nothing of the sort, idolizing and loving his big brother. (For his part, Etrigan tortured Scapegoat pretty much the same as everyone else.)

Belial disappeared for some time, but had been on the mortal world, siring a third son: Merlin. And Merlin's main purpose was to tame Etrigan, which he did with the power of the Eternity Book...and a mortal soul. Etrigan tried to sell Scapegoat out, but that gave Merlin an idea: Scapegoat, as his name would imply, was to take the blame for all the sins in hell. (It may be that wasn't his name before.) Merlin then exiled him, and Scapegoat had been there for centuries, obligingly taking his torture for everyone's sins.

Blood keeps it together, but is pretty shaken up. Still, Thing gets him to resume their search for a way out of there: following the Path of Virtue, which looks a lot like Wonder Woman's golden lasso...because she left the Path, on her way out of Hell in her own book! Unfortunately for Blood and Thing, a Golden Knight blocks the path...

Is it wrong to enjoy this issue? Yes. Very much so. And yet I did, even though I hadn't read much else of the Demon's 90's series. Grant seems to be having a lot of fun, and Semeiks as well: his facial expressions tell you the Demon isn't home, as it were. I just got Demon Knights #0 the other day, featuring the current Etrigan/Blood origin which probably renders all of this moot, but I still like both.
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Monday, September 17, 2012

What's on Batman's Mind?

CBR had the DC December solicits up Monday afternoon, and I noticed Greg Capullo's cover for Batman #15. Noticed, maybe not liked. I get what he's going for, but I think it doesn't quite get there: Batman's got the Joker on the brain, yeah, yeah. But the Joker's cramped pose is uncharacteristic and weird. You're trying to show that Batman's steel trap of a mind is obsessing over how to stop the Joker's latest scheme; not the Joker taking a squat in Batman's head...

On the other hand, I think DC knows full well what they're doing with this cover, because I'll be surprised if I'm the first to do this; it's Instant Meme!
Are you tired, baby? 'Cause you been running through my mind all day! (Catwoman image from here!) Ugh, I'm about as smooth as a velcro carpet, sorry.

Where's that damn Alfred with my dinner?

Here's a template, try your own! It was really hard to keep them clean, though...

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Oddly, the idea for this one struck while I was walking to work, and had the Depeche Mode song "Black Celebration" stuck in my head. Which has nothing to do with anything...

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Friday, September 14, 2012

If AvX #11 hasn't been spoiled for you yet, well...

When is a spoiler not a spoiler? When a lot of people forgot the character killed off was still alive...

Go now if you're still trying to keep it a secret, 'kay?

Still, it's been on the New York Daily News and CBR, Topless Robot and elsewhere.

Per Marvel Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso, “He needed to be the casualty in this story. There’s no more oh-sh-- moment that you can bring than having a son killing his father.”

Per writer Brian Bendis, “He was this thing that was just floating around the X-books, with not the same amount of gravitas that he once had. I did point out that he would matter more in death.”

Per Executive Editor Tom Brevoort, “This is about as serious and lasting a death as you’re apt to get in one of these."

Maybe this is one of those things like seeing how the sausage is made, but the behind the scenes comments say more about the death of Professor Xavier than anything in that issue. I don't enjoy a lot of the big Marvel events lately, but I think it might be because they all seem to be written with a very similiar plot beat somebody gave the Marvel Architects a book on Writing for Screenplays 101. At that point in the story, someone had to die to show stakes are high. Professor X died to add some drama, and Marvel felt he was a character they could stand to lose, at least for a while. That's all.

I'm not a huge fan of the Professor, but he deserved better than merely being a cog in the crossover mill. Mixed that metaphor there, sorry. But it's also tough to care about his death, when Marvel doesn't seem to.

Still...sooner or later...

Anyway, couple of things: I'm not entirely sure Bishop or Cable are dead dead in current continuity. I think Forge is, but I didn't dig him up. I thought I had an old Toy Biz Thunderbird somewhere, too...and since this pushed it back, on Monday, a new Aqualad strip! See you then.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Dark Horse Presents #4!

Over the last few months, I've been buying new issues of Dark Horse Presents and marked-down copies of the first few: right now, I think I'm missing #6, so we'll take a quick gander at Dark Horse Presents #4, with stories by Steve Niles, Evan Dorkin, Howard Chaykin, and more; and art by Jill Thompson, Carla Speed McNeil, Ricardo Delgado, and more.

While the serials "Number 13," "Rotten Apple," and "Doc Mendonca and Pizzaboy" didn't grab me; I warmed a bit more to "Criminal Macabre" this time around. "Finder" and "Beasts of Burden" both continue to entertain, and I was curious to see where "Resident Alien" goes: a stranded alien lives in seclusion, disguised as a doctor; but he gets pulled into a police investigation when the town's coroner is murdered...

There's also two one-shot shorts: an "Age of Reptiles" dinosaur story, and "The Protest," about a young boy's childhood in Iran, 1978. Even if you don't know the historical background there, it gets you up to speed quickly, and a lot of the story is going to be common to most kids growing up. DHP so far has been up and down, and this one is definitely up.
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