Monday, June 30, 2014

In the cartoon, he could learn an object lesson without the deaths of everyone he ever knew...

Per Battlegrip and a buncha other places, Mattel's Masters of the Universe Classics line may be ending after the next subscription year. Maybe? Or maybe rolling into something else, like a movie-based line or a new incarnation. Maybe they just wanted to use that Game of Thrones-styled ad and slogan. But, that means it's as good a time as any to look at another time MOTU was ending: from 1988, Masters of the Universe #12, "Lifetime" Written by George Caragonne, art by Ron Wilson, inks by Danny Bulanadi.

Prince Adam was facing the Clark Kent dilemma: his alter-ego, He-Man, got all the credit; while his friends and family were left to think Adam was a cowardly tool. Man-at-Arms Duncan tries to explain that the secret identity gimmick both kept his loved ones safe and gave them a tactical advantage over Skeletor, but Adam feels it's now a liability: instead of calling for help from Champ Clamp or any of the other heroic masters, everyone always goes crying for He-Man at the slightest emergency. Duncan seems to be proven right, though, when Skeletor attacks them in Duncan's workshop! Tying Adam and Duncan up, Skeletor explains that when He-Man comes to rescue them (don't ask why he doesn't recognize Adam as He-Man: say it's magic) his brainwaves will activate a bomb, that "will blast He-Man into the distant future and out of my hair forever!" Wait, Skeletor has hair? Um, I'm not going to think about that any further.

But, since Adam's brainwaves are the same as He-Man's, the bomb's countdown begins immediately! Getting loose from his bonds, Adam throws his sword into the bomb, short-circuiting it and sending the sword into the future! A pissy Skeletor claims he can't build another one of those, and didn't want to just send Adam's stupid sword into the future, so he'll get revenge on Adam...on some future date. He's busy now. But Skeletor doesn't realize he may have succeeded: by separating Adam from the sword, he can't change into He-Man! Which he didn't want to anyway, but since Duncan can track the sword to the future with his "dimensional early warning system," Adam feels he should recover the sword to return it to the Sorceress at Castle Grayskull.

Of course, when Adam arrives thirty years in the future, it's a totalitarian nightmare ruled by Skeletor, that's made up of equal parts 1984 and the X-Men Days of Future Past. Adam's parents were imprisoned, as was the Sorceress, who sacrifices herself to give Adam a weapon to escape. He finds the resistance, made up of Teela, who had taken the mantle of the Sorceress, an aged Champ Clamp, and Prince Adam. Wait, that would mean the younger Adam either got back to the past, without the Sword of Power and unable to transform into He-Man, or never went! To rally the troops, the younger Adam defaces the grave marker Skeletor put up for He-Man, proclaiming "Skeletor lies!! He-Man Lives!!!"

We may have to come back to the conclusion at some later date, but the story works pretty well so far...except for having two Adams.
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Saturday, June 28, 2014

This is only going to make sense to a couple people, but here goes: my Youngest son has a bit of the autism. He's fairly well functioning now, and is doing very well in school; so I'm pretty pleased with him.

My ex-wife told me, she saw he was going on YouTube, and asked him what he was watching. "Nothing," he said, like every other kid ever. When she pressed him on it...he was watching videos about hand dryers.

Of course, she asked him why, but she remembered he used to be afraid of them. He explained, "if I learn about them, I won't be afraid anymore." And near as I can tell, he's not.

Kid can tell you a lot about dryers now, though. More than you probably expected to ever hear, yeah. This also explains the ads I keep getting, too:

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Friday, June 27, 2014


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Not what I was expecting, but war rarely is, I suppose.

I was excited to find this issue, since I thought it was the only new Sgt. Rock comic DC put out for over ten years in either direction. Actually, there was another special two years after this one--which I have--and they did a series of reprints around then, too. So, from 1992, Sgt. Rock Special #1, and the Walt Simonson cover proclaims "featuring the talents of P.Craig Russell, George Pratt, Michael Golden, Timothy Truman, Ron Wagner, Rags Morales, and a never-before-seen Rock story by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert. There a bit of overhyping there: Russell just brings the title page, Morales a pin-up, and Golden writes his story for Wagner.

Moreover, Truman's story isn't Sgt. Rock, it's Gunner, Sarge, and Pooch of the Losers. Golden and Wagner have a dogfight that's not quite what it seems, and there's also a Sam Glanzman U.S.S. Stevens story that's brutally depressing. George Pratt does a World War I story from the trenches...that's also brutally depressing. Rock's story, then, features a Hollywood actress looking for a G.I. to be the poster boy for war bonds. Yeah, Rock isn't really up for that.

This story does feature the back of Rock's ass, though; and he kills a Nazi soldier while still naked. Maybe that's why this particular story didn't run in 1978.
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Thursday, June 26, 2014


At the local Target stores, over in the section with the Pokemon and baseball cards and whatnot; I kept seeing those little gravity-feed displays of Marvel Avengers vs. X-Men dice. Just the displays, though; the dice were always sold out! So I bought a couple fists-full worth from eBay. How it's played, I couldn't say, but here we are.

Plus, I just like the phrase "crapshoot," even if I don't know the rules for craps off the top of my head, either. (I'm sure the girlfriend could walk me through it!)
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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

"Game Break."

My oldest son had Flappy Bird, back when it was briefly pulled from the market. He probably should've cashed in on that. Still, I could see Flappy MODOK being a big hit, except you probably have to deliver a sledgehammer blow to your phone for each flap!

I know you can buy Star Trek 3-D chess sets, but like Pool and Kurt, I'm a bit vague on the rules. Ditto the Dejarik game board from Star Wars.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Urgh. I may be patient zero today: if you're seeing this, please assume I'm some kind of germ-riddled biohazard, and will be back Wednesday. ('Cause Wednesday's already done!)
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Monday, June 23, 2014

Sorry to miss last Friday, but my sons were with me for a few days; and I fell behind when I started reading the Crossed webcomic "Wish You Were Here." If you start it, it's quite addictive (as well as insanely violent) but it's not quite done yet! I think the next chapter drops Tuesday...By the time this posts, I'll be in the middle of a twelve-hour day; and I'm super-thrilled about it. (I assume you can sense my sarcasm.) Especially since I just got a ton of fun stuff, and no time for it!

First, got a couple more Transformers Toys R Us Kre-O's, Jarugar and Nightbeat. Nightbeat was one I'd wanted, since I don't know much about him, but I understand he's the detective type. Then, Hastings had a $2.99 used sale, all used graphic novels and books! I got the hardback Stephen King 11-22-63, and a pile of trades! So far I've flipped through Marvel Zombies 3 and 4, and G-Man: Learning to Fly.

Also, picked up some figures...that will have to wait until later!

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Come on, four issues is standard, people: Just a Pilgrim.

Garth Ennis was pretty well represented in my comicon haul, with two Hitman trades, and his 2001 series with Carles Esquerra, Just a Pilgrim. Well, most of the series: I found four issues, and didn't realize until the end of the fourth that it was a five-issue series. So frustrating.

Fortunately, I was able to pick up #5 from the Comic Book Shop pretty easily. That issue got dark fast though, and that's for a Garth Ennis book.

The series was set after "the Burn," when the sun expanded, briefly flaring up and burning most of the life and civilization off the planet, and drying the oceans. (In the letter column of #2, Ennis mentions loving the idea of walking the ocean floors after seeing a map of it as a kid.) Survivors loot supplies from shipwrecks, but they're facing stiff competition from pirates and sea creatures mutated by radiation into horrible monsters. Tellingly for this type of apocalyptic story, it wasn't a nuclear disaster or man-made epidemic that caused it, but a natural disaster--an act of God, if you will.

Enter the Pilgrim, who strides into the scene in the finest Clint Eastwood tradition, saving a hapless caravan from pirates. Although the book's narrator, ten-year old Billy, has a serious case of hero-worship from the start; other characters notice he's a little bit off. He's a serious badass made all the more terrifying by seemingly being a little too into the Bible, knowing a little bit too much about cannibalism off the top of his head, and Billy's mom feels like she recognizes him from something, pre-Burn. Turns out, she's right.

The second issue features, as Ennis puts it, "possibly the most dreadful thing I've ever inflicted on a character." Of course, this was several years before he wrote Crossed; so even though it's a horrible fate; it's mostly played for laughs and it's a merry little cakewalk compared to anything in that book. (If you haven't read's like Ennis skimmed a couple issues of the Walking Dead and thought, ah, he could do better. Instead of mere zombies, the infected in the book are still intelligent, cunning, and psychotically driven to every evil thought they've ever had. I haven't read a ton of it, because I enjoy occasionally being able to sleep at night...)

Mind, there are plenty of times reading Ennis that I laugh completely inappropriately...

The third issue is the Pilgrim's origin: he had been a hard-drinking, hard-fighting, tough-as-hell soldier, and a godless heathen. He and his team were flying over the Pacific when their plane went down, leaving them stranded on a liferaft. Eventually, they were forced to resort to cannibalism, and after over a hundred days only he remained. This earned him a psychiatric discharge, which left him in worse mental health, and he continued drinking until one night he ran over a bum. And found him...underdone. Completely around the bend now, he killed and ate over a dozen before being arrested. In prison, a priest was his only visitor, eventually bringing him around to the word of God over the course of several years. (When he compares believing in God and having faith to being in the army and following orders, you can see the word start to take root...)

When the Burn happened, the priest saved him, then died in the fire. The man that would become the Pilgrim takes the priest's cross, red-hot, and scars himself; then begins to do the Lord's work as best he can. Of course, he continues using the skills he had, namely soldiering. After the Pilgrim tells his story to the caravan, they continue on, eventually reaching the wreck of the Titanic. Somewhat uncharitably, he calls it "built with pride in defiance o' the Lord. Doomed from the beginnin'." With the pirates still on their trail, the caravan is faced with a choice: scatter, and hope some manage to escape. Or, as the Pilgrim suggests, making their stand there. Although Billy's father tries to persuade them otherwise, they choose to make a stand.

That's where for me, the book gets really dark: up to that point, it had been, well, if not a lark, in the same vein as classic action stories as Judge Dredd's the Cursed Earth. (Which is somewhat intentional, since he's working with Ezquerra, Dredd's co-creator.) But the Pilgrim does something I couldn't see Dredd or the Punisher or Jesse Custer doing. It didn't ruin the book...but it leaves a bad taste. In another issue's letter column, a writer praises Ennis's attempt to write a character that "truly believes in his faith." I wonder how that writer felt at the end of the series...

This book was the first I've read from Black Bull, Wizard Entertainment's brief foray into comics publishing. It's only briefly mentioned on Wizard Entertainment's Wikipedia page but seemingly trails off, not unlike the line itself. Ennis and Esquerra did have a second limited, Just a Pilgrim: Garden of Eden. Oh, look, that's a four issue one. And Ennis and Ezquerra did two Adventures in the Rifle Brigade mini-series, and they were both three-issues! Could've saved me a bit of running around...

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014


The alien girl here, is actually a Mass Effect 3 Miranda figure, and I don't know if you can tell from the pictures, but her arm just snapped on me. Like a dry wishbone. She's held together with putty in half those shots...I haven't played Mass Effect, but I guess she's some kind of genetically-engineered perfect woman. You know, I'm curious: do you see a lot of genetically engineered perfect men in sci-fi written by women? Hmm.

The alien alien is a Meegan, from the 90's Silver Surfer line. Not a ton of articulation, but not bad looking in a double-ugly way.
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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

What a revoltin' development--no, wait, the opposite.

Ah, did find that Mega Bloks Thing minifigure, to compare to the pseudo-Lego one! Sadly, their parts aren't interchangeable.
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For four bucks, appropriately enough.

Sometimes on eBay, if something's enough of a deal, you really just have to take it. Like these figures! Not-Lego Fantastic Four minifigures! For a buck each, imported from China.

Sue came with a pair of clear lightning pieces, that may have been repurposed from Storm. Ben comes with a little hammer-ax, Johnny has a flame piece, and Reed's stretching powers are represented by a circular saw? They also come with alternate faces, except for poor Ben. I thought I had the old Megablocks Thing minifig around here somewhere, but don't see him handy.

I have to finish up a longer post for later, but it's taking me some time.
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Monday, June 16, 2014

So I watched Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter a couple weeks ago. It's not Hammer Pictures best, but still pretty entertaining; and has a bit of fun with vampires having different variations with different weaknesses. Some vampires were vulnerable to the traditional wooden stake in the heart, while others would laugh that off, but could be killed by hanging, and so forth. On the other hand, I always love it when the cop is all "It couldn't possibly be a werewolf!...but, eh, let's get some silver bullets anyway, why not."

From 1974, House of Mystery #227, "The Carriage Man" Script by Michael Fleisher, art by Alfred Alcala. The werewolf isn't the most unbelievable aspect of this story: wouldn't that horse be completely spooked and take off in a panic? Well, maybe not if this was like the twenty or thirtieth time it's happened, anyway.
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Friday, June 13, 2014

Flaming the same comic twice, as it were.

It took about thirty seconds of Google to find the Flame did appear again a couple times, but I was mildly surprised he appeared twice in the same comic: Thor Annual #18, "The Flame: Rekindled" Written by Ron Marz, art by Tom Raney.

It's a ten-page story, that doesn't really have ten pages worth of plot: after the Flame drags himself out of the hardened lava, Loki is there to offer him a job. The Flame takes back his mask, still believing himself to be hideously ugly, but only wants revenge on Thor. Loki gives him a bit of a "Friend Like Me" number from Aladdin, changing into a dragon, a woman, a monster, and Thor--the way Loki phrases it all is a bit odd.

The Flame, being apparently a bit dim, signs up. What a maroon. And showed up in the next year's annual. Do I have that one? Ah, who cares. I do like Grindberg's art in the first half and Raney's here, but the Flame is a tool.
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

By any other Flame. Er, I mean, name.

We've checked out some of the 1993 Marvel Superstars of Tomorrow annuals. They've all been pretty uniformly terrible, and this one's not as bad as some, but still. From 1993, Thor Annual #18, "Forged in Fire" Written by Ron Marz, pencils by Tom Grindberg, inks by John Nyberg.

In a bar in Asgard, a hooded figure tells a tale of a mighty warrior that once fought Thor. The warrior's origin is a sad one, too: his mother was kidnapped during a raid by the fire demons of Muspelheim. She was raped and gave birth to a half-breed son, who was ostracized and told he was a hideous monster. So hideous, in fact, his dad put him in the traditional metal mask so he wouldn't have to look at his ugly puss. Eventually growing up to be the monster he was told he was, the warrior killed his father, then began a spree of raids, slaughtering entire villages and putting them to the torch.

This would all be fine, except the warrior chose the name "the Flame." And now all I can hear is that horrible Cheap Trick song. Find it on YouTube yourself, I'm not linking to it...In Marz's defense, it does seem like the sort of name a moody, disaffected, murderous teen would pick.

Anyway, Odin puts Thor on the case, and lends him his horse Sleipnir. Actually, Sleipnir's just there so Thor can use him to save a little girl that survived a massacre. And sometime after reading this issue, I read the old Tales of Asgard reprint book, the old Stan Lee/Jack Kirby stories under a kickass Walt Simonson cover, and realized they used to use that plot driver a lot: Odin sees something in one of the Nine Realms, bids Thor go check it out/talk to it/beat its ass, and sixteen pages fill up like magic!

Thor catches up with the Flame, who goes on and on about how horrible his life is and how everyone has to pay. Thor isn't unsympathetic, but calls him a whiner that can't justify his crimes: no matter how much he was abused, once he started killing innocents, he crossed a line. Curious, Thor unmasks the Flame, to find he isn't hideous at all, merely silly-looking; he just looks like an elf with flaming hair. After a battle, the Flame is knocked into lava and of course he's the one telling the story in the bar.

And that was the last anyone ever saw of the Flame. Or was it? Yes. Mostly. Maybe. We'll see tomorrow.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Lunch Break."

I got the newer Marvel Legend Deadpool off eBay a few months back; and was waiting for the right time to bring him in. Of course, I was a few months ahead a while ago. Lazy sod...

In other news, even though I'm trying to eat better, I have to admit I like tofu. With meat. Sometimes two or three kinds of meat and tofu. Is that weird?
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