Thursday, January 31, 2013

80-Page Thursday: Dark Horse Presents #16!

The previous issue was like 88+pages, but this one looks to be right about 80 even: Dark Horse Presents #16, featuring stories by Phil Stanford, John Layman, Nate Cosby, and more; and art by Tony Akins, Sam Kieth, Patric Reynolds, Evan Shaner, and more.
Ten stories this issue, and I liked Cosby and Shaner's "Buddy Cops," Richard Corben's "Edgar Allen Poe's Berenice," Layman and Kieth's "Aliens: Inhuman Condition," and Carla Speed McNeil's "Finder." But out of the six remaining, four of them were still not bad: maybe I wouldn't have bought them on their own, but were fine as part of the anthology package. (Palmiotti and Gray's "The Deep Sea" is a pretty good start, but I didn't think later issues capitalized on it.)
Not bad at all, but this issue didn't have any of the features the previous issues had that I really liked, like Nexus or Evan Dorkin strips. Still worthwhile even if it's not knocking it out of the park, although as usual I wonder how long the series will be around. So enjoy it now!

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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

"Don't ask to see the Creeper Cave. Just don't."

The set took me forever on this one! We got some of the set dressing from Iron-Cow Productions, like the Joker card. The Robin costume is from the Custom Coalition. The Batcave deep in back is from the Animated Series, a little undersized, but good for the background. The dinosaur is from the Jurassic Park Jr. Playskool line; and that still unidentified 70's looking robot was behind it.

I like the idea of the Outsiders, probably more than any actual story I've seen with them. And I love the notion of Batman using guys like Creeper and the Question as legmen, running down clues that Bats can't take the time to track down.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Green Arrow is down; earth's really doomed this time...

I mentioned this one last week: DC Comics Presents Annual #2, "The Last Secret Identity" Story by Elliot S! Maggin, pencils by Keith Pollard, inks by Mike DeCarlo. Time-travelling/other-dimensional tyrant King Kosmos (ugh...) throws down the gauntlet, knocking out Superman and most of the Justice League of America! Two panels later, the Batmobile goes over a bridge with an unconscious Batman and Robin...(OK, maybe not.)

Only the intervention of the mysterious Superwoman saves the day...well, actually Superman still does a lot of the heavy lifting. Anyway, I thought the above costume would match the DC Direct figure we saw last week, and like I said, wrongo.

Still, the old Superwoman was upbeat and hopeful and inspiring; three things DC has seemingly been running full-tilt away from as fast as they can. The Kristin Wells Superwoman was from a future that wasn't a post-apocalyptic wreck and didn't come back in time to change anything; she was just visiting out of academic curiosity and got sucked into events. I'd far prefer her to any other versions...except keep the new costume, yeah.

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Monday, January 28, 2013

This month, Nexus subcontracts some jobs...

Ever been at a job you hated so much, but couldn't quit; so you decided to try to get someone else to do your work for you? Well, Nexus may have had a bad experience outsourcing, but he's getting a little tired of killing mass-murderers himself. Hence, from Nexus #41, "The Experiment" Written by Mike Baron, pencils by Steve Rude, inks by John Nyberg.

Nexus dreams of four murders on an industrial planet named Clockwork: a child murderer, a slaver, a religious assassin, and a psychotic. Starting with the child murderer, Nexus starts a series of dominoes to take out all four. Tailing the assassin, he finds the killer's target, a bride-to-be. The psychotic wants to kill a priest, so Nexus points him towards the upcoming wedding. Posing as ex-military police, he then warns the slaver of an assassin trailing her. Then, he points the child murderer at a prospective victim...
At the wedding, Nexus convinces the priest to let him take his place, then plays dead as the assassin "kills" him and takes the priest's outfit. Before he can kill his target at the wedding, the psychotic murders him with an axe, then runs out of the church, where the slaver kills him with an arrow, before she's grabbed by the child murderer. Planning to torture her on film (the slaver looked younger than she was...) the murderer gets overly excited and kills her. Nexus takes out the last one himself, describing it as a pleasure.
Man, considering Nexus had "fusion-kasting" powers (think Space Ghost with death beams) and telepathy, Clockwork seemed like way more work than just outright killing those four. Still, at this point in the series, Nexus was burning out on murder (even righteous murder) and wouldn't get his groove back for some time.
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Friday, January 25, 2013

Man without a Country...or a razor, apparently.

Hmm. I thought I needed this issue for "The End" Week, but jumped the gun a bit: despite "To All Things an Ending" on the cover, Captain America #453 wasn't the last issue of the series, #454 was. #453 was the conclusion to "Man Without a Country," though: "Executive Action" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Pino Rinaldi and Ron Garney, inks by Scott Koblish.

Framed for treason by Machinesmith, Cap has been exiled from America, but he and Sharon Carter are still the only hope for a crashing S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier. (Yeah, that never happens.) Make that Sharon: Cap leaves her to it, as he plays a last card to get back to America and save President Clinton.
Sharon suspects she may not see Cap again for another five years, but manages to hack the helicarrier's system and get it back online. (Surprisingly, she mentions learning from S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Jasper Sitwell, the Punisher's tech support Microchip, and...Ultron?) Meanwhile, Cap literally plays a card: his deactivated Avengers ID, which he uses to gain access to Latveria! Dr. Doom grants Cap an audience, and Cap convinces him that global thermonuclear war would be bad for Latveria.

Machinesmith's a human consciousness in a robot body, and as he explains during his attack on the president, he can control machines easily but can in a pinch read the electrical impulses of the human brain. Like he did to gain secrets to frame Cap, and how he just did to get the activation codes for nuclear missiles. Unfortunately for Machinesmith, when it looks like he's won, Captain America returns! With a knockoff costume and shield courtesy of Doom. Cap mops up Machinesmith's drones, then when he tries to transfer to the nuclear launch "football," Cap throws it in the fire.
The issue ends with a sheepish Clinton apologizing to an exonerated Cap, as he returns his shield. A solid issue, that was perhaps overpraised at the time since the Heroes Reborn Rob Liefeld relaunch was coming up...but still damn good.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

80-Page Thursdays: Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #1!

We looked at the second issue of this some time ago, but today we've got a recent find: from 1998, Legends of the DC Universe 80-Page Giant #1, featuring stories from John Francis Moore, Andrew Helfer, Marv Wolfman, Dan Jurgens, and more; with art by Paul Guinan, Bob McLeod, George Perez, Todd Nauck, and more.

With a framing story featuring the short-lived heroic version of Chronos, this issue's a grab-bag of classic DC heroes. James Robinson, Dave Gibbons, and Sal Buscema revisit the original Doom Patrol in "Lights, Camera, and Too Much Action" Elasti-Girl gets another invitation to return to Hollywood, and the rest of the team join her: predictably for them, there's aliens, monsters, and robots involved.
Bill Mumy, Peter David, Steve Ditko and Kevin Nowlan take the Spectre to "The Depths of Despair!" Jim Corrigan's dating a Titanic survivor, but the Spectre gets involved when she confesses to murdering her sister. (She didn't, but the Spectre doesn't butt out, either.)

Hawkman and Hawkgirl have stool pigeon trouble--no, with actual pigeons. Which gets worse when the Manhawks come back. Raven revisits the secret origin of the Teen Titans, which is mostly about how miserable the individual Titans seem to be before the first issue. Rip Hunter travels haphazardly through time, while the Linear Men try to keep him from destroying history and/or dying.
And Steven Grant, Mike Zeck, and James Pascoe present "Puzzle of the Phantom Spaceman" as Adam Strange is zeta-beamed to Rann, but finds himself invisible and intangible when he arrives. And there's a mad scientist who kidnaps Alanna, but those happen pretty regularly. Finally, a good 80-pager again! Grab it if you see it.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"The (Recurring) Mystery of Superwoman."

Until I took five seconds to check, I thought the look of this Superwoman figure would be interchangeable with the Kristin Wells one from 1983 DC Comics Presents Annual #2. Wrongo. Anyway, the name "Superwoman" is one DC has, like Manhunter, that they keep trying to make happen every few years.

Although I didn't get around to picking her up before, Action Figure Nexus had a sale that convinced me to grab her; along with the Justice League Unlimited Superman with Kandor. We'll talk about Kandor more later. For now, we'll just look at this DC Direct Superwoman, from the New Krypton line. I didn't read it, but that storyline was the lead-in to War of the Supermen, and what I read of that one was total crap. It took a batch of old favorites, like Superwoman, Mon-El, Kandor, and I think Zod; then surgically excised anything resembling "fun."

That wave of figures also included Mon-El, as we saw some time ago; and he was a bit half-assed. Sadly, Superwoman shares a lot in common with him: an interesting look, but woefully lacking in articulation. Neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, knees. Nine points. That might've been acceptable in 2000 or earlier, but this was a 2010 figure. (There's a review here that may be a little less harsh.)

The hood is removable, so you can vary her look a bit; but that's about it. Still...I do like the look. Just don't expect a ton out of her. I still need to dig up the old DCP annual with the old Superwoman, for comparison purchases. And we'll come back to Kandor at a later date.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Writer's Block vs. MPD:

I re-read an old favorite the other day, as research for something I had already finished...from 1998, The Creeper #9, "Writer's Block" Written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, art by regular artists Shawn Martinbrough and Sal Buscema, with John Paul Leon, Phil Nester and Ande Parks, and J.H. Williams and Mick Gray. I wonder if this one might've sold better if the guest artists had been hyped up...

Even with all his research completed, a pot of coffee, a Corona typewriter that no professional writer should've been using even in the 90's, and a hard deadline; Jack Ryder has a brutal case of writer's block. Unable to get into his actual story, Jack decides to play around with something else, to get the creative ball rolling, and tries his hand at a fairy tale. But using his imagination may open the door to his alter ego, the Creeper...

Jack wasn't quite full on multiple-personality disorder at the time; but close. He and the Creeper were somewhat antagonistic at the time, and the Creeper persona intrudes on everything Jack tries to write, like a noir detective story.

Increasingly frustrated, and apparently grinding through several reams of paper; Jack tries a horror story. An embittered ghost writer, furious over years of abuse and neglect from his Hollywood big-shot boss; snaps and murders him. After disposing of the body, the writer thrills at the chance to write something for himself, but finds his boss has come back for him...
After that EC Comics style nightmare, Jack finds the apartment full of scraps of paper, insane scribbling...and the article he was supposed to be writing all along, finished. The Creeper may be insane, but Jack admits he's the spark he needs. But he resolves to block that out.

Really enjoyed this series, although I think I came back to it just in time for it's premature cancellation. I may have to take a look at the last issue sometime. Maybe it should've been a Vertigo title back in the day--the opening of this one has a trashed living room that's pretty PG, and Spider Jerusalem would've done it up right.

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Monday, January 21, 2013

I'm a little dismayed how long this one took me:

Although I had been reading the series in 2010, I missed The Thanos Imperative #4. I had just been grabbing the series of the rack instead of preordering it, and that issue sold out when I wasn't looking. About a year and a half later, I found a copy of #4 on a markdown display at a Hastings. Great. Then it took me another six months or so to find the other five issues. And a couple of days to take the time to read the whole series...
While the "big guns" of Beta Ray Bill, the Silver Surfer, Ronan the Accuser, Gladiator, Nova, and Quasar tear up the invaders from the Cancerverse; things are still looking dire. In said Cancerverse, Drax the Destroyer lost it and murdered Thanos, who may have been their one chance to stop the invasion.

As usual, Death doesn't take for Thanos: recreated in an invulnerable, unkillable form, Thanos returns and he isn't thrilled about it. Realizing he may now never die, and his "love" Death betrayed him, Thanos goes more berserk than normal. Unstable from the lifeforce of the Cancerverse, Drax tries to kill Thanos again, and is blown apart. Star-Lord and the remaining Guardians of the Galaxy are trapped between the Cancerverse's Revengers and Thanos...

From The Thanos Imperative #4, written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, art by Miguel Sepulveda. I've been wondering if Marvel didn't shaft Abnett and Lanning a bit: they work on the Marvel space books for years, then as soon as a Guardians of the Galaxy movie is announced, Brian Bendis gets it? I could be wrong and maybe D&A were done with their Marvel work, but I wonder...

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Back when a secret identity was SECRET. Sort of.

Love that panel, from Avengers West Coast #51, "I Sing of Arms and Heroes" Story and art by John Byrne, inks by Mike Machlan.

After the first "Armor Wars," the Avenger known as Iron Man was dead, as far as the general public was concerned. Only a select few, including West Coast Avengers Wonder Man, Wasp, and Hank Pym; knew Tony Stark had been Iron Man and didn't in fact die. But when the "new" Iron Man arrives, he won't say if he's Stark or not.

Meanwhile, Tony had been shot in the spine by a stalker ex, and paralyzed. Although his hair still looked great. He was using his armor as an exoskeleton, so he could still move as Iron Man; and if he was going to spend more time in his armor, he wanted to make the most of it and do some Avengers duty. The Avengers there at the time don't call Tony on it right yet, but they know. Tony also slips and mentions what happened to this issue's villain Master Pandemonium the last time he was seen, when that would've been the "previous" Iron Man there.

Much as I like this one, it seems so dated since Tony seemingly hasn't given a rat's ass about having a secret identity for years. I also don't know if Tony ever caught any crap when the Avengers found out it was him all along, either.

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Thursday, January 17, 2013

80-Page Thursday: Spider-Man Universe #4!

Am I nearing the bottom of the barrel of my 80-pagers? Hmm…well, maybe. Although, usually something will turn up later, so we continue to shove on: from 2000, Spider-Man Universe #4, featuring stories from Rurik Tyler and Howard Mackie, and art from John Romita Jr, John Byrne, and Tyler.

Spider-Man Universe was one of several reprint books Marvel tried out: for $4.99, you got three full issues. Since it only ran seven issues, I'm guessing it didn't take off; but I can't say if that was due to the packaging, or the somewhat lackluster state of Spidey at the time.
"Blackout, part 2" was reprinted from Webspinners: Tales of Spider-Man #16, and was the conclusion of Rurik Tyler's Spidey vs. Vulture tale. It's not bad; and it does feature Spidey unmasking to settle down a scared kid, just like the most recent movie. (I couldn't even guess if here was the first place we ever see that, though.) I did have the feeling that Marvel had planned for Webspinners to be their answer to Legends of the Dark Knight, with brand-name creators telling Spidey stories from whatever era they wanted. So was Spider-Man's Tangled Web, but neither would run anywhere near as long as LOTDK.

Mackie and Byrne's "Coming Home" (from Amazing Spider-Man #16) was in the middle of a plotline where Mary Jane was lost, presumed dead in a plane crash. The then-married Peter didn't believe it, and was still looking for her. He had already been on one wild goose chase to Latveria, and now returned to find himself evicted, fired, and fighting old Iron Man villain the Ghost. Maybe not in that order, and Ghost may not have gotten really interesting until he was in Thunderbolts. This issue also guest-starred Cassandra Locke, from Byrne's Marvel: the Lost Generation series. Haven't read that one, and I'm not even sure it was ever collected.
Finally, Mackie and JRJR deliver "Cliche," from Peter Parker: Spider-Man #16. (From an idea by A.A. Ward.) With MJ still missing, Spidey is getting a little fed up with his lot in life: punch super-villains, get hassled by the cops, generally broke and/or sick all the time, wash rinse repeat. It's hard to say if this is Spidey's frustration, or Mackie's; as Spidey is hassled by a lame batch of unknown villains, fights Venom and the Sandman at the Daily Bugle, and briefly contemplates quitting. Still, even if Spider-Man comics are so repetitive even Spidey's started to notice, I'd avoid shining any light on that factoid, even for a joke or lampshade hanging...

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Over at, Rorschach went on sale yesterday, the first figure in Club Black Freighter. No telling if he sold out or not, as I type this the weekend before. (EDIT: Rorschach sold out by or around 2 PST.) Of course, my Rorschach was loose and without his grappling-hook gun and VHS-style case, but oh well.

I couldn't imagine DC trying to bring Rorschach into the DC Universe proper; but I wanted to play with the figure. It does cause me no end of distress that Rorschach has appeared in more comics lately than either the Vic Sage Question or the Creeper...

By the way, the first panel is a very specific lettering homage; possibly rendered moot since I can't nail down the font, but see if it rings a bell.

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