Thursday, July 31, 2014

I think there was an announcement a bit ago over which pieces of Star Wars were going to be considered in continuity and which weren't; and I don't remember if Star Wars: the Ewok Adventures made the cut or not. I picked this one up at a pawn shop for maybe a buck, but I haven't watched it yet; not since watching them as a kid in the eighties. I don't remember them as being great, and I know some characters survive the first movie only to die in the opening of the second--shades of Alien 3 there! I'm not sure my son's even watched it yet, since he's big on Lego Star Wars: the Empire Strikes Out, which is admittedly probably more fun.

Since the Youngest is big on Legos now--at least the Star Wars ones, although I got him Lego Batman 2 a bit ago--I thought he might enjoy Toys R Us's free Transformers Kre-O build: a little Grimlock with Optimus Prime rider! I think he enjoyed putting it together, but sadly doesn't have any particular attachment to the character, so it's remained with me.

We looked at one Jim Starlin book that wouldn't fit in the scanner already this week, so today we have Punisher: the Ghosts of Innocents #1, with art by Tom Grindberg and Steve Oliff. During a fairly routine mission, a low-level thug makes an escape that ends up leaving a busload of schoolkids dead, and the Punisher is both wracked with guilt and concussed. He then makes an attempt on the Kingpin that wouldn't be out of place in the last half-hour of an action movie...but this is a two-parter and we all now the Punisher doesn't usually get to finish off the Kingpin, so it doesn't go especially well.
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Wednesday, July 30, 2014


I wanted to see if Black Cat and Satana might not be as fun a pair as Kurt and Pool; so we'll see. Cat's a little less madcap than Deadpool, if a ton more selfish; while Satana shares Kurt's irritation with just about everything. We'll come back to them later, then...
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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I had read a number of these Marvel novels from the nineties, but missed this one when it came out: Fantastic Four: Redemption of the Silver Surfer, written by Michael Jan Friedman. When three-quarters of the FF are lured into the Negative Zone to help Blastaar against the mysterious world-destroyer Prodigion, the Invisible Woman gets the Silver Surfer to help them. As the title suggests, the Surfer sees this as an opportunity to redeem himself for his days as the herald of Galactus, and there's even a love interest for him! Yeah, I don't need to tell you that doesn't go well for him. It usually doesn't.

As in this book! Silver Surfer: Homecoming, written by Jim Starlin, art by Bill Reinhold and Linda Lessmann. The Surfer's homeworld Zenn-La disappears, but it's not a malevolent event for a change: an alien called the Great One offers Zenn-La sanctuary in the universe within his mind, safe from the Kree, Skrull, Galactus, whatever. With the help of the Infinity Watch's Moondragon, the Surfer joins his people and his beloved Shalla-Bal in an eternal paradise...for about eight pages before things go south, and then they go worse than usual. Basically, any time the Silver Surfer has a love interest, you can be pretty sure it's not going to end well: I really liked when he was seeing Alicia from Fantastic Four.

I still don't think I've seen all of Babylon 5, but I happened into a used copy of Babylon 5: the Movie Collection. I'm looking at Martin Sheen in a big latex forehead right now! I really should spring for the fifth season one of these days: over at Blog of Geekery, Siskoid's been covering Babylon 5, and it's a good way to revisit the series and remind yourself to check it out again.
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Vacation week! Or, more stuff that doesn't really fit in the scanner.

Yep, I'm on vacation this week, but we'll take a little time to run down some things that either don't need a full-on write-up, or are too awkward or bound wrong to fit in the scanner.

For starters, John Byrne's photo-novel from last year, Star Trek Annual (2013), "Strange New Worlds" Without going too nuts in the photo manipulation, Byrne delivers a sequel to the classic episode "Where No Man Has Gone Before." It's not bad at all, although I can see how it might not be for everyone: some people are going to think photo-comics look weird.

Chris Roberson's novel X-Men: the Return uses a trope I'm pretty sick of: that humanity was solidly useless without alien intervention. In this case, the alien Kh'thon return to earth, claiming they had been there thousands of years ago, and created the X-gene that gives mutants powers. Still, the bulk of this book is the X-Men versus super-powered aliens and their terrible masters, so that's a point in its favor. It's Psylocke heavy, if that's a plus for you; from her pre-ninja assassin days. I liked it--it was a bit of a throwback to when the X-Men occasionally had adventures and weren't completely overwrought: they're facing what could be the end of the world, but it's not heavy like oppression or racism or anything.

Finally today, I have two Vampire Batman action figures, so why not another Vampire Batman trade? Batman: Vampire collects the three books from Doug Moench, Kelley Jones, John Beatty, and Malcolm Jones III: Red Rain, Bloodstorm, and Crimson Mist. Really need to sit down again with it; since I'm not positive I have or have even read Bloodstorm. Probably maybe? Well, we have it now, so...

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

San Diego Comic-Con has been around longer than I have...

...yet I've still never been! Well, I'm slightly anti-social and a bit too cheap to really enjoy it, I think. Probably not too many quarter bins or loose figures there! But I wonder if I might not go someday. When I'm really old, waving my cane...

As usual, I'm about to go on vacation; but there'll still be some posts next week while I'm gone. Have a good week!

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014


I don't know that the Blame even has impulse engines, or that Deadpool could tell you that, but he just shouts out orders he's heard on Star Trek and Amy does his best to guess what he had in mind.

I was at a loss as to what Pool could be using to pay aliens to fix his ship, and, well, um, adult material was about the only thing I could think of. Although something else came to mind now, I suppose...

Pool's "captain's chair" is from the Silent Screamers Metropolis: Maria figure. I've actually bought that figure three times! Twice for friends, back when I worked at a store carrying that line, then just recently one for myself.

The consoles and chairs are from Playmates Star Trek: Warp Factor series, from 1998 or thereabouts. The figures are a six-inch scale, or so; but not super-detailed or hugely articulated. The accessories, though, aren't bad.

For most sci-fi TV shows and movies, the bridge of the starship is often the most elaborate and detailed set, since it will be used quite a bit. On the other hand, the bridge of a guest-starring or alien often underdeveloped, since producers rarely want to sink too much into a set that may only be in a couple of scenes. There's an old TNG episode, "The Wounded," where the captain of a ship bigger than the Enterprise appears to be commanding his ship from inside a closet...Off the top of my head, I think "The Last Outpost" and other episodes with the Ferengi used a cheat: their visual communication was tightly focused on the speaker's face, not showing any background! Which makes sense: the Ferengi wanted to appear more intimidating, and the tight focus would restrict giving away any information.

On the other hand, I'm watching an episode of Enterprise, "Proving Ground" (with the awesome Jeffrey Combs guest-starring!) and the Andorians' bridge is pretty well built. No chairs, though...

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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

He's a murderer made of corpses, but the worst part is he's presumptuous...

Is it weird that Marvel had a good chunk of success with two-thirds of the Big Three of Monsters, but seemed to consistently miss with the Monster of Frankenstein? Heck, he's kind of upstaged by another werewolf this issue: from 1973, the Monster of Frankenstein #5, "The Monster Walks Among Us!" Written by Gary Friedrich, art by Mike Ploog, inks by John Verpoorten; and opening with a line from John Fogerty...predating it's use in An American Werewolf in London, hmm.

Anyway, the first few issues of the Monster's book had been mostly retelling his origin, fairly faithfully to Shelley's original novel. I think. The Monster may be pictured more closely to what audiences would expect. Now, Frank's making his way out of the arctic, after spending maybe a century frozen; but he crosses paths with a ship, on fire, with a beautiful girl tied to the mast. As he rescues her, he finds a village celebrating her death, and is appalled. Almost as appalled as the girl Lenore is at first sight of Frank. Still, he defends her, even against her own father, who may have been a hero once but now seems convinced she is a devil.

Escaping into the woods, Frank cares for Lenore as best he can, and she seems to appreciate both it and him. (This may be a weird issue: Frank just wants to be loved, but seemingly feels that since he saved the girl, she should be his...) Until, one night--coincidentally the night of the full moon--she disappears, and Frank fears the villagers came for her. Instead, he sees the village guard attacked and killed by a werewolf, and realizes it must've killed Lenore as well. Cue monster fight, which ends when Frank pulls the silver sword of Lenore's father out of a tree and kills the werewolf. No points for guessing it was Lenore. Either feeling the loss of innocence or like a chump, Frank leaves, resuming his quest to murder the last descendant of Victor Frankenstein...that was the sort of thing that kinda made it tough for Frank to be a sympathetic character, then.

The villagers are kind of dickish here, which is pretty common in both old movies and a fair number of old Marvel comics, both the horror ones and every time they chased Nightcrawler around...I kind of think Marvel thought mid-European countries were still a bit, rustic, we'll say.

I thought I had the Essential Monster of Frankenstein collection, but not handy. I think there were a stretch of issues where Frank's vocal cords were severed, bringing him even more in line with the traditional movie interpretation, but also making it easier for the likewise traditional Marvel misunderstanding meet-brawls. Still, the creature had a lot of murders under his belt, too many for a heroic lead; but not in the same way an outright evil character like Dracula would; which is why I think he never quite clicked at Marvel.
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Monday, July 21, 2014

So I'm running a bit behind because I'm getting ready to go on vacation, and then I pick up a comic and realize how behind I am on those, too: from 2008, the Brave and the Bold #13, "American Samuroids" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Jerry Ordway, inks by Scott Koblish and Bob McLeod.

Unfortunate title aside, this issue is a fun throwback to the days when B&B was a Batman team-up book, with Bats joining forces with the Jay Garrick Flash. As Batman investigates a murder, he's attacked by a robot with a samurai sword, that is then taken apart by Jay. Jay's on the scene since the victim was a friend of his, who had been working on "artificial intelligence in chemical form." That research was stolen by T.O. Morrow, who's working with the Penguin! The Riddler paid off the Penguin with an old warehouse, which turned out to be full of old androids Morrow created, and now they're upgrading them with the new A.I. Penquin plans on getting into the "global security business," but they need supplies from Wayne Industries, who won't sell. He's even tried to have Wayne whacked a few times, which for some reason turns out to be surprisingly difficult. Lucky bastard...

Meanwhile, at the Batcave, Jay and Bruce have a discussion about mentoring: Jay also taught several scientists, along with the Flashes that followed him, which surprises Bruce. Bruce then makes himself a target, which draws in the...ugh, samuroids. Jay realizes the A.I. is making the androids more and more difficult to defeat, but the bacteria used for it is vulnerable to antibiotics. As Batman fights them, Jay whips up a batch and neutralizes the lot. They then follow the androids' chemical trail to Morrow's factory; somewhat surprisingly, they then blow it up. Morrow disappears into the timestream, although I'm not sure that's his doing; Batman implies that'll happen to him and it's more of a punishment. In the end, before they're off to new cases, Batman tells Jay how much he respects him.

This is exactly the type of story that probably wouldn't be doable under the New 52, since there isn't the same sense of legacy. And I don't know if T.O. Morrow--who was a workhorse of a villain in old JLA stories--has even appeared yet; or Red Tornado for that matter? And I don't think DC has been giving a lot of work to Jerry Ordway lately, either; but he has a book on the shelves now! He's been contributing art for a Mermaid Man cereal serial in Spongebob Comics! Hope he's having fun, since that story surely is. (Story and some art by Derek Drymon.)
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Thursday, July 17, 2014

I think I like the framing sequence more than the actual stories...

From a dinged-up, almost coverless copy of Giant-Size Chillers #1, possibly written by Len Wein with pencils by Gene Colan and inks by Tom Palmer. This book was a collection of horror stories, a good chunk of 'em from fifties Marvel books. Not bad for the time, if nothing really jumping out and grabbing me. But the framing sequence, well, Colan and Palmer knew scary from their time on Tomb of Dracula, and do a lot with a little.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"Hit It Off."

Over at the Fwoosh's forum discussing Guardians of the Galaxy figures, an enterprising poster under the name Noodlechow posted a Rocket Raccoon figure modified with better joints. It looks pretty cool, although you do need a few donor figures to hack up for parts!

Also, I'm pretty sure that like an American tourist, Groot just repeats things louder and with more inflection, because he secretly thinks everyone should speak his language and that's how to get through to foreign types. "Donde esta la biblioteca?" "!"

Today Deadpool's guns are from an Imaginext Robot figure I have two of; while Rocket's is from the Nightcrawler X-Men Water Wars figure! We looked at the figure some time back, so, um, pretend I showed his squirt crossbow thing there, then.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I kinda like this version of She-Thor better...

Reckon it'll be on about a dozen blogs today, but after seeing the news of a new female Thor, I reached for a random old copy of What If? #10 that I had next to my desk! (From 1978, "What If Jane Foster had found--the Hammer of Thor?" Written by Don Glut, art by Rick Hoberg, inks by Dave Hunt.)

I don't know about this one, if for no other reason than "Thor" isn't a title, it's his name. He could be replaced as the God of Thunder or an Avenger, but taking his name seems a little harsh. And I wonder if Angela is taking the gig, since her back story is ludicrous in-story and out! And some Marvel stuff is really great right now (I'm enjoying Nightcrawler, Silver Surfer, and the rest of Warren Ellis's Moon Knight. God, Moon Knight #5 was so good, guys...) other books like Captain America and now Thor seem to be trying that old 90's tack of replacing the titular hero, at least temporarily.

By the way, if you've never read this old What If?, it's gender-politics are probably a bit dated: since Jane gets the hammer instead, Donald Blake doesn't get the chance to become Thor again, and that was apparently his real identity. After Odin proclaims he now has but one son, Loki; and the Warriors Three all try to pick up Thordis, she gets exiled from Asgard. Meanwhile, Sif gets Donald Blake to man up and rescue her from a pretend drowning, but under Odin's proclamation can't tell Don he's really Thor. Meanwhile, Thordis has been in love with Don, but loses him to Sif. She then loses Mjolnir when Odin gives it back to the restored Thor; but Odin makes Jane a goddess...because he's fallen for her. (And was single in that continuity, so it's OK, even if he's old and beardy.)

Still, that cover by John Buscema makes that outfit work.

(This counts as Friday's post, since I'm behind, but wanted to get this out there!)
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Remember past lives? I don't even remember buying this comic...

...and I'm 90% sure I've read the original Robert E. Howard story as well, but couldn't say when. So we'll blog this comic so we remember it at least: from 1972, Supernatural Thrillers #3, "The Valley of the Worm" Adapted by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, art by Gil Kane, inks by Ernie Chua, aka Ernie Chan.

As James Allison lays dying, he has visions of his more glorious past lives, like the warrior Niord. Who's that, you ask? Only the inspiration for such legends as those of Perseus, Beowulf, St. George, and Siegfried. Niord and his band of Nordic Viking types were moving into a new land, which led to a skirmish with the darker-skinned Picts. (There's more than a few questionable racial issues in the work of Robert E. Howard.) Still, Niord spares a brave Pict by the name of Gorm (after bashing him in the head with a shield) and the two tribes eventually forge a peace. Niord and Gorm become hunting buddies, until Niord's nearly killed by a saber-tooth tiger. Gorm (misspelled Grom on more than a couple panels) repays his friend's kindness by nursing him back to health.

While he recovers, a number of his tribe split off to make their new home in "the Valley of the Broken Stones," which sounds...nice. Gorm tries to warn them, but they laugh him off, so it's their own fault when they get massacred by a monster, "the Dark One." Niord makes a plan to defeat the monster, by first taking out another: the giant serpent Satha. With a deadfall trap, he kills the snake and takes its venom, then goes to the Broken Stones; a ruined, monstrous temple. After killing a hairy, piping thing; Niord battles the monster, a "worm." His poison arrows probably would've done the job, but he tries to finish the wounded monster with his sword, and is smashed to a pulp for his trouble. Still, he dies happy as the temple collapses on the dying worm; and as the narrator dies himself in the present day.

I don't know if this story is "One of the Greatest Monster Epics of All Time!" as the cover proclaims, but not a bad little read. A quick GCD search shows its been reprinted a couple times; but I'm mildly surprised no one else has done a version of it.
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