Friday, November 30, 2012

Today, Conan vs. a polar bear. It's that white thing over there...

From a slightly dinged-up copy of Conan the Barbarian #127, "The Snow Haired Woman of the Wastes" Written by J.M. DeMatteis, art by Gil Kane. Not the best issue, but hey, Conan vs. polar bear. And Conan kills Grendel! No, not that one. Or this one...

Small confession: In case you haven't noticed, I've been on blogopilot, lately. Often, I schedule out a week or more's worth of posts, then I'm free to do whatever it is I do around here; checking in only on occasion and usually just to fix typos. Apologies to anyone still reading, and I have no plans on quitting; but sometimes I must admit I'm dogging it out a bit. That may be because sometimes I have a pile of comics, sometimes none; depending on what came out and what I could pick up on the cheap. Oddly, the weekly homemade strips are sometime easier to keep going on the regular; I think I might be scheduled to the end of the year and the Year in Toys.

And today's title is a very, very obscure reference:

I've never seen one of those...

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Dark Horse Presents #12!

I know it's possible, but for my tastes? Man alive, Dark Horse is going to have the devil's own time topping this issue: Dark Horse Presents #12, featuring stories and art from Dean Motter, Evan Dorkin, Carla Speed McNeil, Francesco Francavilla, and more.
Even though their last series wasn't their best, I am always glad to see more Nexus from Mike Baron and Steve Rude. I don't know how many chapters they're going to run, but they're off to a good start, as a mysterious new, and evil, moon suddenly appears over Ylum.
Evan Dorkin's Eltingville Club strips are always hilarious and yet usually slightly depressing, as the obsessive fanboys inevitably end up taking themselves and their hobbies too seriously and too far. This time, it's a zombie walk that predictably goes awry; although I do agree with them in regards to fast zombies...sadly, although there was a Milk & Cheese strip as well, I think this was Dorkin's last DHP for the time being.
Also starting this issue was Dean Motter's Mister X (which I hadn't read before, but another good start) and a John Layman/Sam Kieth Aliens strip, which looks like it's going to be heartbreaking even before the Aliens start eating things. Throw in more Black Beetle, more of the Creep and Finder and Criminal Macabre and a pretty solid Occultist, and it's a great package. I'm just a little sad that no matter how good the next issue is, for me it's not going to be as good as this one; and I wish it was selling better--looks like, per the Beat, it's running a little over 7,000 copies or so right now. Give it a go.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I forget when I did this one, but how much mileage can I get out of that yellow Batman? Uh, well, there was "That Yellow Batman," then "Nokking to Fear," and "Ring Around the Rampage."

And sadly, Sinestro is probably a better boss than the Guardians of the Universe...
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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

This wouldn't work, but it's so cool...

The most recent issue of Uncanny X-Force (#33) continues some plot threads I don't care about, like Daken whining about his daddy issues to Wolverine, the continued attempts to turn the young Apocalypse Evan to the dark side, and Psylocke vs. the Shadow King for the twentieth time. But, the cover promises a scene given short shrift inside, as the Age of Apocalypse Nightcrawler sells out the team for a chance at vengeance against the AoA Blob.

Spoiler behind the break!

The AoA's Nightcrawler's reason for joining X-Force was to hunt down and murder a couple refugees from his world: Iceman, for betraying the X-Men and fleeing; and Blob, for eating Nightcrawler's wife. Literally. (I think Jeph Loeb made the Ultimate universe's Blob a cannibal, and it's carried over.)

Mystique lures Blob to the aquarium (the bad guys have a pretty sweet base, for some reason...and that may or may not have been Mystique!) and Nightcrawler attacks him, but can't stab his way through Blob's skin. Thrown against a glass tank, it shatters, and a shark falls out; which Nightcrawler quickly befriends...!

Nightcrawler teleports the shark inside the Blob's belly, then sits back to watch the shark eat his way out of the Blob. There's no way that should work, at all: Nightcrawler can't really teleport blind like that, and there shouldn't be anywhere near enough room in the Blob for him and the shark. That stunt probably should've just killed all three of them instantly...but it's pretty damn cool.

I think there's only an issue or two left of Remender's X-Force, then Marvel goes from one X-Force I want to read to two I don't...

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Monday, November 26, 2012

The only thing they're usually Defending is their trademark...

Since it's not like they're going to let the name go to waste, every so often Marvel will try to publish a Defenders comic. I think the most recent incarnation is ending with #12; but the Defenders might be a tough sell, since even when there's a clear idea of what the series is about, readers seem to want it to be like the old, random, original series. Except when they don't...

For example, I picked up Defenders #6, #7, and #8 the other day: these were from 2001, with Kurt Busiek and Erik Larsen writing, and Larsen doing most of the art. (Ron Frenz and Al Vey take #8, while Sal Buscema and Al Gordon provide inks on #7 and #6 respectively.) The original four Defenders--Dr. Strange, Namor, the Hulk, and the Silver Surfer--had been cursed by an old foe, Yandroth: against their will, they were often teleported to potentially world-ending catastrophes. Although the Surfer didn't always appear, the other three were getting a little sick of it: Namor was in the middle of trying to reclaim his kingdom from Attuma, Dr. Strange was finding it difficult to concentrate when he could instantly be elsewhere, and the Hulk was not at his smartest at this point.
Joined by their former teammates Nighthawk, Hellcat, and Valkyrie--all of whom are much more enthusiastic about being Defenders than the others--the four struggle to break the curse, but there may be more to it than appeared on the surface. In fact, the plotline would be wrapped up with a different title on the book, the Order: I don't think Larsen did any art for those six issues, and I remember it as being much less comedic.

Defenders #8 also features an unusual cover blurb: "The Worst Comic Ever Produced" from Comics International. Geez, I liked the issues I's a link to an old CBR interview with Busiek, which mentions Larsen leaving for health reasons, but also describes Nighthawk, Hellcat, and Valkyrie pretty much like I did above! I wonder if I read that interview back in 2001...
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Friday, November 23, 2012

(Mostly) Out today, so...

...we'll just take a quick glance at a few panels from Superman #276, "Make Way for Captain Thunder!" Written by Elliot S! Maggin, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Bob Oksner.

When young Willie Fawcett mysteriously and suddenly appears in Metropolis, and finds he seems to have maybe moved twenty years into the future; he uses his magic word and belt buckle to transform into Captain Thunder! Who is inexplicably evil, so he and Superman can fight...
Captain Thunder, of course, is a really, really thinly veiled pastiche of Captain Marvel...or Shazam, if you must. Per the Marvel Family Web, this story was originally intended to be the first DC appearance of Captain Marvel; but may have been scrubbed and CM replaced, to save up for the bigger All-New Collector's Edition Superman vs. Shazam. Which doesn't really explain how "Captain Thunder" is more fun here, fighting the awesome Monster League of Evil, than Captain Marvel would be in years of DC stories. The Monster League deserves a 52-reboot more than "Shazam" does...

Have a good Black Friday! Unless you work retail, in which case I recommend getting all your screaming out now...

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

80-Page Thursdays: Mutants vs. Ultras: First Encounters #1!

Is this Thanksgiving? It's actually the weekend of SDCC as I write this. I'm ahead of schedule, and plan on staying that way! But, figure you probably have other things to do today, and this weekend, so we'll do the laziest 80-Page Thursday post yet: from 1995, Mutants vs. Ultras: First Encounters #1!

Crap, this isn't going to be as lazy as I had thought: at first glance, I thought this issue was actually Battlezones: Dream Team 2 #1, which was a pin-up book pitting the Malibu Ultraverse characters against their new friends from Marvel Comics. Instead, Mutants vs. Ultras reprinted three of the first crossovers of Malibu and Marvel: Prime vs. the Hulk, the Night Man vs. Wolverine, and the Exiles vs. the X-Men. (The Ultraverse's Exiles were different than the reality-hopping Marvel version; although Juggernaut, Reaper, and Sienna Blaze end up doing a stint on the former.)
Although the Ultraverse was a separate reality from the Marvel Universe (think Earth-2, like the old DC multiverse) both Prime and the Night Man got stuck in the 616 for a time. (Well, one Night Man, anyway: he had been duplicated after a run-in with Loki.) They have the typical Marvel misunderstanding punch-ups with the Hulk and Wolverine; while the X-Men are trying to help Professor X find his missing step-brother Juggernaut.

These weren't terrible, in a typical 90's comic way; but certainly not worth the cost--and I don't mean the $6.95 cover price. The originals were sold as collector items: the GCD mentions Night Man vs. Wolverine #0: "This was a mail away comic offered from Marvel and advertised in their comics; The Premium Edition was limited to 30,000 copies and cost $10.00; The Super Premium Edition was limited to 10,000 copies and cost $39.95." I don't know what the other two cost, but I think they were offered in a similiar fashion.

Although Marvel purchased the Ultraverse characters, their creators allegedly had contracts in place that stipulate they get a certain percentage of sales; which make it less profitable for Marvel to use the characters. Plus, it probably follows there would be some complaining if the creators of Prime get a kickback and the creators of the Hulk don't...that said, I'd be surprised if the Ultraverse characters aren't brought back at some point. Like when Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Avengers, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Daredevil and everyone else take a dip in profitability...

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

"Avengers Show."

This one...this one kind of got away from me. Cap, Tony, and Logan snark at each other for way longer than I originally planned. And I feel like a big ol' hypocrite because I hate it when Bendis does exactly that sort of back-and-forth banter in Avengers. (I don't have John Romita Jr. or anyone backing me up, though!)

The Regular Show figures were on sale at Toys R Us, then were never restocked. I ordered them from their website, and the sale and the shipping kind of cancelled each other out. I didn't realize until I had them in hand, they actually are Toys R Us exclusives. (EDIT: Of course, when I went to my local Toys R Us just yesterday, they were completely restocked.)

Jazwares has been doing more than a few cartoon properties that otherwise may have been left without figures; and they don't do a bad job with Mordecai and Rigby. They're both described as "super poseable," although both of their designs make some of the articulation less than useful. I kind of think they could've used the rarely-seen (by me, anyway) moving mouth articulation; and they definitely need footpeg-holes: they both have odd, tiny feet that will make standing them both a challenge.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012

"Delusion for a Dragon Slayer!"

Even though sometimes his cranky nature gets on my nerves, I usually enjoy the work of Harlan Ellison, so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble across "A Tale of Fear by Harlan Ellison--an epic of hate that engulfed two worlds! A Dragon Stalks by Night!" So proclaims the Gil Kane cover of Chamber of Chills #1, but it's not that close to the actual story.

An accident at a demolition site sends a wrecking ball crashing down on passerby Warren Glazer Griffin; who then awakens in another world, on the deck of an old sailing ship, with a talking sword. The sword explains this is Griffin's heaven, or at least his chance at it: if he can live up to his dreams and ethics, sail the ship through the rocky straits, reach the island, and save the girl from the devil.

For the first test, the crew of the ship are shackled in the hold (presumably, to keep from being thrown overboard?) as Griffin steers the ship. Momentarily thrilled by moment, Griffin misses a reef, which guts the ship and drowns his men. Ellison (or the adaptor, Gerry Conway) describes it as losing "through the treachery of his self-esteem."

Shaking it off, Griffin makes his way through the island. Finding a beautiful lagoon, he also finds the woman of all his dreams. Who is apparently seeing the devil the sword mentioned...Griffin is about to learn a lesson, about "the true face of sin," and that it's entirely possible to live a life without committing any crimes...and still not be good.

"Delusion for a Dragon Slayer!" Written by Gerry Conway, art by Syd Shores, adapted from an original story by Harlan Ellison.

Super-long homemade post tomorrow! See you then.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

We saw Malibu Comics Rune giving Conan the hassle some time ago, and Barry Windsor-Smith made the titular vampire look great. Perhaps not surprising, since BWS created Rune. Today, we check out another great artist's take on the character, as Big John Buscema...

...draws Rune like Blastaar in a diaper. Rune had wings in the other half of the book...

From 1995's Rune/Silver Surfer #1, which I recall was hyped up the wazoo by Marvel, Wizard, people yelling on rooftops...Admittedly, some of the excitement is understandable: John Buscema returning to the Silver Surfer was always welcome, and a good hook to get people interested in the crossover between Malibu and Marvel. (Marvel had bought Malibu the year before.)
Hook notwithstanding, it's not very good: Rune's half of the book is very early work from artist Henry Flint, and it shows in parts; but the writing doesn't help either. Thor makes a brief (and off-model) appearance; as do Warlock, Thanos, and the Infinity Watch. The latter are completely jobbed out, as Rune makes off with the Infinity Gems. (Warlock's Soul Gem, always a bit evil, practically jumps at the chance to get with someone who will more readily use it.)

Meanwhile, in his half, the Silver Surfer unwillingly gets an assignment from the Living Tribunal: don't let any space vampire monsters use the Infinity Gems as a unit (the Infinity Gauntlet) and maybe don't let an agent of oblivion get them, either. The Surfer spends most of the story fighting Deathurge, but catches up with Rune in the end; blowing his hand off (or at least burning it) and scattering the Infinity Gems in the Ultraverse. The Surfer is a little worried, but the Tribunal just didn't want the Gauntlet used again, so mission accomplished.

Anyway, this was a $5.95 book, cover price, in 1995; I got it for a quarter. Same year. That should tell you what you need to know about it, actually.

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