Friday, January 31, 2014

That never happens to the Batmobile...

Rrr. Car trouble, as in I either need to have it repaired, get a new one, or take it out and have it shot. Well, at least there's options. Back Monday!

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Somewhat more cheesecake than I remembered, but it was a popular book...

Even though the Legion of Super-Heroes currently lacks a book at DC, it was one of their most popular books more than a couple of times. Today's book was from the quarter-bin, but was an important issue at the time, 1986: Legion of Super-Heroes #25, "Revelation" Written by Paul Levitz, art by Greg LaRocque and Mike DeCarlo.

A number of plot threads were coming together this issue: the Emerald Empress was completing her new Fatal Five, with old member Persuader and new hires Caress and Flare...and a mystery member. Brainiac 5 was leading a squad of Legionnaires on the trail of the mysterious Sensor Girl, a masked Legionnaire with unknown powers and motivations. Although she had proved herself more than once, and a masked Legionnaire wasn't without precedent, the team was becoming divided, unsure whether they could trust her, so she quit. But even that was questionable, as some worried she would go renegade. Ultra Boy admits he used his penetra-vision on her (a step up from x-ray vision) and saw only an empty costume.

At the graveyard asteroid Shanghalla, former Fatal Five member Manos attacks, trying to kill a Legionnaire as his "bones," his ticket back to the team. But the trail of Sensor Girl completely disappears, even to the tracker Dawnstar, which may be the final clue Brainiac 5 needed. As another batch of heroes, including Dream Girl and Colossal Boy, face the Fatal Five; Element Lad asks Saturn Girl why she vouched for Sensor Girl at her tryout. Saturn Girl stands by her recommendation, since Sensor Girl "was already a Legionnaire."

Sensor Girl had first appeared not even a year prior, in Legion of Super-Heroes #14, so they didn't keep you in suspense overly long. And the answer made perfect sense, even if you had been a long-term fan or had only been reading the series since the more recent #1 or so.
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Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Still have seen only the barest hint of restock out here--a few more Captain America's, but little else. It doesn't necessarily seem like a Marvel problem exclusively, though; everything seems a little bare. Not sure why.

In other news, the Youngest was dead set on going skating the other day, because he saw a poster at school about it. He was kinda worked up, but I'm not positive he knows how to skate or has been before. I'm taking him this afternoon, unless I can somehow convince him to go bowling instead. Hopefully, some fun somewhere...

(EDIT: Ugh, I count two typos in today's strip. They're going to bug me until I fix them...)

(EDIT AGAIN: There, fixed! Back to the levels of professionalism you expect from this nonsense...)

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ghosts: Superman Annual #10!

Is the death sentence really a deterrent? Not in comics, anyway! From the 1998 Ghosts crossover, Superman Annual #10, "The Death Sentence" Written by Dan Jurgens, layouts by Paul Ryan, finishes by Chris Ivy.

This issue, a criminal sentenced to be executed the next day, pleads his case to Clark Kent, that he didn't shoot a convenience store clerk during a robbery. Or, his argument is more to the effect of, should he die for it? Kent's silence all but announces his distaste for capital punishment, and he starts investigating, just in time to be haunted by the ghosts of the Phantom Zone Criminals! Not the pre-Crisis ones, the ones from the pocket dimension, that Superman executed with Kryptonite. (The Kryptonite in question didn't hurt Superman, since it was from that dimension, not his, DC continuity is hard. Maybe they were right about that New 52 thing, but the story in question was John Byrne and pretty good.)

One piece of evidence is missing in the case: the stolen money, which probably couldn't be more than a couple hundred dollars? Visiting the criminal's family, and his sick son. After sparring with the ghosts again, Superman realizes the baby was playing with toy keys, except they weren't all toys: one was to a bus locker, which held the money. Fighting the ghosts again, Superman throws a chunk of rebar into their midst, just in time for a lightning bolt to "dissipate" them. Killing them again? Destroying their immortal souls? Well, doesn't matter, Clark Kent has to get to the prison in time to plead the killer's case; which the governor defers to a life sentence. It's fitting for a Superman story...even if I don't necessarily agree.

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Monday, January 27, 2014

Some Kreons and some pictures!

I found the third series of Transformers Kre-O Micro-Changers blind-bags at Target for $1.50 each, and bought a few. Not all of them, but enough for a little pile. Still a bit of fun. They seemed to sell out, at least at one location, pretty quickly; and I'm still waiting for "Collection 4" with Rodimus and Cyclonus.

The best part of little figures like this, is that you can do things like build a small army of something like Sharkticons, that would be prohibitively expensive in a larger scale.

I also picked up "Gundam-face" there, Bravenwolf from Ionix's Tenkai Knights. The interesting thing about these little mini-figures, was that they could transform into a Lego-compatible 2X4 block. Why? Um...well, it's still kinda cool.
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Friday, January 24, 2014

Well, it's a better traffic report than usual...

Those little Kre-O Transformers are fun, even if they aren't necessarily strong on the transforming aspect of it. Basically, you probably turn it over, boom, car or jet or whatever, for the most part. Some of them have slightly more complex transformations, involving adding or removing pieces, but still. I bought a few of the blind-bag ones--Springer there was like sixty-seven cents at a K-Mart--and might keep an eye out for the next series.

Actually, I ended up buying a batch of them Thursday afternoon, marked down at Target. I wanted a few to go with the fourth wave, which is hopefully coming out soon, which has Rodimus Prime, or Hot Rod. Whichever. Mostly, because he's pretty entertaining in the Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye comic. We'll come back to that later.

I have bought more than a few blind-bag toys lately. They're like the dimebags of action figures: probably not what you were really looking for, you're not sure what you're actually paying for, but they're cheap so what the hell.

That reminds me I'm behind on logging my toys, though. Partly because it's been mostly eBay of late, and partly my creeping senility. Still, looking forward to a short toy run this afternoon, so have a good weekend!
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Thursday, January 23, 2014

I don't blame Stephen for tagging Namor out of this one...

The other day, I had to go get a plunger from the dollar store; but the trip was made worthwhile by picking up a few two-packs of comics there. Like today's book! From Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #50, "The Heart of Darkness" Written by Len Kaminski, art and shiny cover by Geof Isherwood.

Describing himself as "dispossessed" by his mystic sponsors, Dr. Strange is at his least powerful; just as Dormammu has picked up a ton of power, some extra arms and eyes, and conquered his and Clea's Dark Dimension. To help out, Strange calls in his Defenders: the Hulk, the Silver Surfer, and Namor the Ghost Rider! The latter proves to be a key part of Strange's plan, as he takes Ghost Rider's power and mind into his body, then astral projects into Dormammu!

In the end, Dormammu may be beaten, or he may just have decided the stupid Dark Dimension wasn't worth the hassle. Strange worries Dormammu may be after bigger fish, and to add insult to injury, Strange's beloved Clea has to stay with her home, to help rebuild and defend it. Still, after his friends are gone, an exhausted Strange falls asleep...

That better not be those Westboro Baptist Church jerkholes...I'm curious about the next issue now, actually.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"She's Crafty."

Although I was able to find Superior Spider-Man locally, I shelled out on eBay for Black Cat--rather than wait for the off-chance I might find her, or that the price wouldn't shoot up. She's pretty good! Certainly makes me glad I didn't spring for the prior, and vastly inferior, Marvel Legends version from the Spider-Man box set of a few years back.

On the other hand, I also got another wall base from eBay, from the Marvel Select Black Cat. It's like Deadpool and Nightcrawler's apartment just doubled in size!

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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ghosts: Martian Manhunter Annual #1!

Just from the cover, I'm thinking this one is going to be rougher than the Wonder Woman Annual: with another Bernie Wrightson cover, Martian Manhunter Annual #1, "Heart's Afire" Written by Ty Templeton, art by Ariel Olietti.

Templeton pays lip service to the idea that J'onn J'onzz has a ton of other identities on earth, although I don't know if I see him as a Siberian fur trapper, but that his detective John Jones is still a favorite, like a comfortable suit. His partner Karen Smith is surprised to see him in his office, since he's rarely there, but she's still glad to see him. She obviously likes him, but J'onn plays it off as having "a...thing...about smoking." Their banter is interrupted by a young girl, Rachel, who wants J'onn to investigate her murder. She appears to be shot, then bursts into flames, paralyzing J'onn; but when he looks into the flames he sees his Martian wife and daughter.

J'onn's a little dismayed to notice his car has been towed: he notes he spends a lot of time in other countries, and forgets parking rules from town to town, but is standing under a No Parking sign as he narrates this. At the police station, J'onn uses a trick like Dr. Who's psychic paper: a smiley face on a notepad makes a perfect picture of Rachel, who had been reported missing by her boyfriend six days prior. J'onn asks Karen to follow up a lead while he gets his car--an '87 Chevy Impala--out of impound, but an officer makes a phone call that someone's looking into Rachel's disappearance.

J'onn's poor car is run off the road later, and while he's in no danger, he does see Rachel again in the flames. Catching up to the drivers as the Martian Manhunter, he finds they were put up to it by a cop; and sends them back to the cops to confess under mental coercion. J'onn tries to warn Karen off the case, but she's already at the boyfriend's, who is part of a militia group called the "New Revolution," and she's captured. J'onn disguises himself as an old woman to visit Rachel's roommate, who recalls how much she was looking forward to a camping trip with her boyfriend, even if it was with a bunch of "survivalist weirdos." J'onn allows himself to be captured as well, and is taken before the militia's General Washington, a black man with a somewhat unfortunate hairstyle.

Washington doesn't seem especially broken up over having to kill Rachel--omelets and eggs. She "was not ready to commit to our lifestyle," and the boyfriend calls her a class traitor. The militia plans a bus trip to DC, to murder "every member of the corrupt, slave-owner aristocracy" they can. J'onn decides he's heard enough, and changes to the Manhunter, breaking his handcuffs. Washington expected something like this: "The Justice League are well-known tools of the new world order!" Preparing accordingly, he had a flame-thrower ready, and torches J'onn.

The flames have J'onn on the ropes, seemingly finished, until another blast from the flamethrower appears as his wife and daughter, turning on the shooter, saving him. After that, J'onn takes the militia's information from Washington's mind, and stifles them with no loss of life. Karen is just vivid, though, feeling like J'onn's been laughing at her. Pissed, she lights a cigarette, and Rachel and J'onn's family appear in the flames again, this time to say goodbye.

This is probably the best of the Ghosts annuals so far! Since I'm not real up on the New 52 continuity, I'm not positive if J'onn's family's death is still a big part of his origin. I'd assume so, but can't say. Their deaths were pretty well established, though. That Wonder Woman Annual referred back to a supporting characters death from ten years earlier in 1988, and next week's annual refers to three deaths that same year...
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Friday, January 17, 2014

Better read than Red, I think.

Is there a name for when you should re-read a book you didn't even like that much, just because you think you may have missed something, that may not be there anyway? I felt that way when I finished Hulk No More, a hardcover collection written by Jeph Loeb, with art by Ed McGuinness, Ian Churchill, and Whilce Portacio.

This was one of the books I picked up from Hastings for $2.99 a while back, and I just got around to flipping through it. I mentioned when I got that Red Hulk figure that I hadn't read any Red Hulk comics, so here we go: this contains Hulk #10-18 and #600. These stories all feature the Red Hulk, whose identity was still a secret at the time.

The good: The art is all pretty solid, but Ed McGuinness has a lot of fun in his sections. There's a Defenders reunion of sorts, as the Grandmaster and the Collector play a game, with the Collector picking the Red Hulk and his "Offenders" Tiger Shark, Baron Mordo, and Terrax the Tamer. Later, the Red Hulk puts together another team, with the Punisher, Deadpool, the Crimson Dynamo, and Elektra; three of whom would later join Red Hulk in his Thunderbolts. The Red She-Hulk makes her first appearance in these issues as well, with a couple of red herrings (so to speak!) but in retrospect her and Red Hulk's identities seem obvious. Did anyone guess right at the time?

The bad: The Red Hulk is kind of a dick. Wait, strike "kind of." He's judgmental, mean-spirited, a hypocrite and a cheat and a liar. Previous issues featured Red Hulk punching out the Watcher and beating Thor, and this book features him murdering the Defenders, then cruising around on the Silver Surfer's board with Terrax's ax. It's probably supposed to seem like a "Hell yeah!" moment, but just seems dickish. He also chases Domino around during the second portion of the book, for possibly having seen his true identity, and it very much seems like he's more than willing to murder her to protect his secret.

Also protecting the Red Hulk's secret? Jeph Loeb, since there is a scene where the Red Hulk and his secret identity are in the same place! Shades of Silver Age Superman, it was a S.H.I.E.L.D. Life Model Decoy robot, or some sort of hallucination, and a huge cheat! The Red Hulk also has some sort of boss, and may not be completely responsible for his actions, but other times seems either a loose cannon or completely devoted to his mission. And Doc Samson is turned into the villainous "Bad Doctor." I suspect he went bad just to seem worse than the Red Hulk.

I wasn't entirely impressed with this one, but that may be in part because I find the Red Hulk unlikable. We'll flip through it again some other time...
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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Lex Luthor, Ladykiller!...literally.

When Lex Luthor makes an appearance in an old Superman comics, some readers prefer it when Superman knows Lex is an unrepentant scumbag, evil to his heartless core. Others prefer the Superman that always wants to see the best in everyone, who still thinks Lex could turn it around and redeem himself for his many, many, many, many misdeeds. Today we have both, with some Superdickery on the cover for good measure! From 1980, Action Comics #512, "Luthor's Day of Reckoning!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Frank Chiaramonte.

The story opens with Superman presenting the newest recipient of a Presidential pardon to the press: Lex Luthor!, that is going to haunt him come elections. It may sound unbelievable, but Superman is one to trust but verify: an array of tests to Lex's brain showed him to no longer be evil, and Lex had risked his life to help Supes against Terra-Man...which doesn't sound all that dangerous, but moving on. The press, represented by Jimmy Olsen for some reason, asks what could have caused Luthor's turnaround, but the President says they should hear that from Luthor himself, when the time is right. Which is apparently later that day, as the Daily Planet breaks the story "Luthor to Marry Woman Who Changed His Evil Ways!" So the huckster at the newsstand proclaims, the Planet didn't spring for the usual colossal banner headline, although it's still pretty big.

Yes, Lex has changed his ways over a woman, the likewise bald Angela Blake. Lex had saved her life from the disease called DXS, which cost her her hair, but she assures Lex she would still be in love with him even without that gratitude. While the couple is out for a cruise in Luthor's nuclear-powered speedboat, though, the mob attempts a hit on Luthor, for perceived disloyalty. To evil, I guess. Taking potshots, even with a mortar, at a guy who can build a bulletproof nuclear-powered speedboat, seems like a bad idea. But it's a worse idea if Superman's treating said guy like his best bud. Superman saves Lex and Angela, flies them over to check out the sunset, and agrees to be Lex's best man.

After a private ceremony, with Lois Lane as bridesmaid, the newlyweds have a reception at the GBS Galaxy Building, where Clark Kent makes an appearance while Superman is "on a quick patrol." Angela says it's time the best man kisses the bride, and Superman obliges--but they suddenly disappear, leaving a confused and dumbfounded crowd! Even more oddly, Luthor is hustled out of the building, Secret Service-style, by a pair of men who reveal themselves to be robots, who then gas Lex and make off with him!

Furious, Lex demands to be set free, so he can recover his missing bride, but the robots play him a tape while a mysterious machine "charges" part of Lex's brain. The tape details "Project Angela," and step one: find a woman Lex could brainwash himself into loving. That's a pretty grim eHarmony profile, Lex. Step two: clone her, after implanting a detonator deep in her cellular structure. Step three: dispose of the original girl. Step four: cure the clone of the genetic disease she inherited from the original, which should be a cakewalk, since you're a friggin' genius. Step five: marry said clone, getting Superman into position to kiss her, which would catapult them both out of this universe and into the "secret astral plane" called the "L-Zone!" Which is totally different than the Phantom Zone, even if that's how Lex found it. Patent pending! Once there, Superman's molecules would be so transformed he would never, ever, ever be able to escape; but Lex needed to sneak up on Superman with the perfect weapon, that he would never expect!

The robots show Lex the "intra-spacial viewer," so he can get a gander of the utterly defeated Superman...and instead it's just a clone floating alone in the L-Zone. Which is right about when Superman shows up and starts wrecking the place. Lex is seemingly paralyzed, as Superman casually yet furiously destroys the robots and equipment. Even after all their years of conflict, Superman is almost surprised that Lex was willing to brainwash himself to be good; but not really surprised that Lex would murder--and yes, this was straight-up murder--a terminally-ill girl, before taking the time to study her disease and find a cure.

Superman reveals Lex's brainwashing was too good--it also erased his previous marriage, and there were some suspicious-looking blank spots. He was playing along the whole time, in the hopes that the real Angela might still be alive, then "disappeared" at super-speed before he would've been sucked into the L-Zone. Lex is crushed, though; crying like a little girl, over having lost his love. Or the clone of his love, which could be his love, I guess. Or failing to kill Superman again. Or maybe for having been subjected to that lecture. You decide.
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