Thursday, June 30, 2016

I guess Kurt drew Maggie's name outta there...

The Comic Book Shop was out of the Skottie Young variant cover, but I bought one anyway...and then found and bought the variant at Hastings! I don't mind supporting both stores, but I hate that buying two copies gives Marvel too much credit for this one! From last week or so, Civil War II: X-Men #1, written by Cullen Bunn, art by Andrea Broccardo.

The Skottie Young cover is on the wall above my desk now, since drawing names out of a hat makes as much sense as any other reason for the X-Men, or any of Marvel's other heroes, to end up on whatever side they do in these Civil War books. Today, in scenic Dubai...where everyone appears to be speaking English...the Terrigen Mists are coming in, which will cause more humans to become Inhumans, but also sterilize and kill mutants. A group of rich mutants are prepared with an airtight tower, but aren't prepared for gatecrashers: Magneto and his X-Men, who bring in the city's poor mutants to save them. Unfortunately, no one prepared for Prime Sentinels, cyborgs who infiltrated disguised as waitstaff. The Sentinels blow out the windows, leaving the collected mutants vulnerable, but they are saved by the arrival of Storm and her X-Men.

Storm's team had gotten the head's-up from the Inhumans' newest game-changer, Ulysses. Described as being able to "profile the future," his warning saved Magneto and his team; but Mags does not seem especially grateful. In fact, he immediately sees Ulysses as "another weapon in (the Inhumans') arsenal." While Psylocke seems to be trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, and maybe even see Ulysses as a person; the issue ends with Nightcrawler approaching Magneto, seemingly in agreement! I'm curious as to how Bunn will play that out; but I really don't care for his current costume and long hair.

I'm also not sure how many mutants there are supposed to be, or prime Sentinels for that matter. That's kind of been a staple since the Mutant Massacre days: mutants are supposed to be at least somewhat rare, yet kind of get killed off by the dozens in titles like this...
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Wednesday, June 29, 2016


We haven't seen Amy for a while, but rest assured, he's been at his post! Namely because I can't strike the bridge set; it's too complicated to reset.

Occasionally in sci-fi movies (Event Horizon springs to mind, since I just watched it again recently. Love it.) you'll see nods to what actual space flight is probably like now: carefully monitored and regulated, with comm checks and announcements. Star Trek sometimes does that sort of thing; Star Wars probably never does. Dayton is probably a bit of a blowhard, and makes his announcements to feel like a big shot...
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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Love this book so much I crammed it in the scanner. Well, a spare copy, anyway.

Today, a book I genuinely love, and one that I think has influenced me a great deal, for good or ill. From 1988, Nexus #50, written by Mike Baron, art by Steve Rude.

This 52-page issue wrapped up a number of storylines, including the six-part Badger crossover...y'know, that wasn't really a crossover as much as a guest-spot. Nexus, Judah, and Badger have returned to the mysterious Bowl-Shaped World to enlist the help of its creator, Ashram. The manta-like alien could manipulate black holes and suns, but had been overthrown by the tyrant Sklar. Sklar, for his part, is overthrown and fried early on this issue; and the weakened Ashram plans to reach into our universe to drain power from a star...but Nexus has an idea.

In our universe, the black hole/gravity well project at space station Stacy is nearing implosion, which would probably destroy earth's entire solar system. Mars, for its part, seems unperturbed, but does postpone the execution of the mass murderer Kreed. (Kreed was one of Nexus's closest friends, yet he and Sinclair had gone kill-crazy trying to cross names off Nexus's list of mass murderers.) As panic grows, and refugees swarm to the now-swamped haven of Ylum; Nexus and Ashram plan to save both Ashram's sun and the gravity well. But first, Ashram wants to tell Nexus how he finds Ylum:

"But Ylum's a mess! Housing shortages! Overcrowding! Crime!"

"Au contraire, Nexus. It is a most exciting experiment in democracy...even taking into account those Ylumites who don't understand democracy...who have no hope of ever comprehending democracy..."

I've mentioned that exchange before, I've always liked it. Again, I'm not sure that this was Baron or Rude's intent, but I've always felt like it meant that Ylum is great because it's trying to work with people that don't understand democracy, don't wanna understand democracy, and may never understand democracy. And I've always really liked that idea. It makes me feel like used properly, a democratic society will eventually wear down extremists, tyrants, and opportunists. It's a hopeful line, that even though it seems like no one gets along and everyone is filled with generations of hate, eventually people will work it out. I don't know if either Baron or Rude would agree with me on that now, though. Hell, I don't know if I agree with me now, but it still makes me hopeful.

Ashram sends our heroes--and tinpot used-car salesman and chiseller Honest Crocus--back through the black hole, where Judah and Nexus are able to use their fusionkasting abilities to help stabilize Ashram's sun and the black hole, saving both. (Badger is sucked back through the black hole, presumably back to his own book! Judah and Nexus aren't terribly broken up, perhaps expecting such to happen, or perhaps six issues is a long time to spend with Badger.) Having saved the solar system, Nexus lobbies for greater acceptance of his world Ylum, as well as commuting Kreed's sentence. Kreed begs to differ, that saving him sends the wrong message: Nexus argues some people would always say such, Kreed argues back that with his death...they would say it less. With a final farewell, Kreed dies, apparently willing himself to do so.

Although Ylum and the rest of the universe seem to celebrate him, and Horatio is glad to be back with Sundra, he claims he is through being Nexus. His boss, the alien Merk, can "find another sucker." Sundra worries that it seems the Loomis sisters, daughters of one of Nexus's victims, find a tank not unlike the one that gave Nexus his powers, on neighboring Headworld...and one of Horatio's daughters, Scarlett, has a terrifying vision of a man with "a long scar running down his left eye..." That would be Grimjack, who with Dreadstar would face Nexus in the Crossroads crossover.

While several new plots were being warmed up there, this issue felt a lot more like an ending than a beginning. Co-creator Steve Rude would be drawing the Next Nexus mini-series, while Paul Smith drew the main title for four issues--and you could do a lot worse than Paul Smith! Rude would return with #58, but would only stay until #60, then not return until the series' relaunch with Dark Horse and Nexus: the Origin.

Also this issue: a glimpse into Baron and Rude's process. Baron gives Rude rough layouts and dialog, with the caveat "Remember to forget my layouts!" I love that! I've been working off that idea for years now: if I had a proper artist, I would have them go nuts on my stupid panel layouts...

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Seriously, DC, reprint this, get it on Comixology, cash in today.

If this is Monday, there should be about 133 days until the U.S. presidential election...and it's already pretty ugly. Hell, it was ugly six months ago, we've crossed into grotesque, and it would be a class-one miracle if it somehow improved between now and then. It's polarizing, mean-spirited, hateful, and depending on who you listen to, probably includes a few secret agendas. Like today's comic, except the comic is funnier: from 1992, the Demon #27, "Political Asylum, part 2: 'Etrigan, he's our man, if he can't do it, no one can!'" Written by Dwayne McDuffie, pencils by Val Semeiks, inks by Bob Smith and Denis Rodier.

Before picking this up, I had no idea McDuffie, or anyone else, had written for this series except Alan Grant and Garth Ennis. In the second issue of this four-parter, the Demon Etrigan begins his presidential campaign in earnest. Running as a Republican, he announces his run in "recession-plagued Detroit" (the more things change, huh?) and denies accusations of being a hoax; although the press and general public so far don't seem to think he's actually from hell. President Bush--the first one--declines to comment, although Quayle mangles a quote in support of his boss.

Jason Blood had agreed to the Demon's request to run, although his friends Randu, Glenda, and Harry (currently a seat cushion, after a sojourn in hell) aren't sure what Etrigan's game is. His speech writer, Patty Nonage, seems committed to her candidate; and Etrigan's book is on top of the best seller lists...even though it's a 32-page picture book for $12.95, titled "America Rules." (Noted right-winger Guy Gardner likes it!) He even has campaign managers, although I'm not sure where they came from: did Etrigan hire them, or did they just show up to run the campaign? Not like one just runs itself, does it? They are concerned about handling Etrigan after he sets Sam Donaldson on fire, a little, but that gives him 16 more points in the polls. Perfect time to crash a debate!

Some of this year's prospective candidates weren't great, but the primaries in 1992 had David Duke and Pat Buchanan, and they weren't exactly prize pigs either. Somewhat surprisingly, these aren't close-enough, not-quite versions of those guys--McDuffie uses Duke and Buchanan, although he doesn't exactly paint either in a flattering light. Outside their debate appears to be nothing but Klansmen, neo-Nazis, and cops; although the cops are primarily to keep Etrigan out. No chance. Beating up the Klansmen and the Nazis before sitting on Buchanan and Duke, Etrigan rises to within 10 points of Bush. Glenda asks Jason if this hasn't gone too far, but Jason is sticking to his end of the deal, reasoning the Demon couldn't possibly win: he wasn't a U.S. citizen! I thought Blood was going to say Etrigan wasn't born in America, and that may be a plot point later; here, Nonage catches the tailend of that conversation and Blood's transformation.

Still, not everything is going Etrigan's way: at a rally, an assassin takes a shot at him, hitting him in the eye! Which just pisses him off. Etrigan is about to tear his would-be assassin apart, when he's stopped by...Superman!

Let's see, outsider candidate, oddly-colored, talks a lot of trash and sloganeering, incites violence...well, I suppose Etrigan actually causes most of the violence, he's a little more hands-on. We'll see if we find the next chapters, hopefully within the next 133 days!
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Friday, June 24, 2016

I kind of thought this would be one of those "I hit you, you hit the ground" fights.

From 1994, G.I. Joe #150, "Slam Dance in the Cyber Castle!" Written by Larry Hama, pencils by Phil Gosier, inks by Crusher Wallace. The cover proclaims "The Battle You demanded...Snake-Eyes vs. Cobra Commander!" If readers were demanding it, they must have been ready to see Snake-Eyes beat Cobra Commander's mask in, since the Commander was by no means a match for the Joes' premier commando. By this point, Snake-Eyes was like Conan, or full-prep time Batman: pretty much unstoppable.

Still, CC has done his best to level the playing field, by which I mean stack the deck in his favor: Storm Shadow tries a run at him, and gets utterly crushed by the combination of "Dr. Mindbender's Cyber-Space Matrix" and the Commander's new, improved, sword-proof battle armor. (He had another armored suit earlier in the series, this one looks like he's wearing his old hood and uniform over it.) The matrix used holograms and real traps, while the new armor was packed with weapons...yeah, Snake-Eyes still rolls over that without breaking stride.

On the other hand, Dr. Mindbender has had time to brainwash Cobra Commander's son Billy, Storm Shadow, and the Baroness; putting them all on Cobra's side again; the next issue blurb implies Snake-Eyes might not have such an easy time with them! Also, Snake-Eyes spends much of this issue--and possibly the rest of the series--without his iconic mask. His face was scarred up, but not like Jonah Hex level or Deadpool or anything, so I could see why not try a bit without it; but the mask was cooler. There were five issues left from Marvel, and I'm thinking the distribution from here out might make those tough to stumble across.

Bonus: this issue also featured some pin-ups, including one you may have seen, a Sal Buscema one of Cobra Commander kicking a dog.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

I feel like someone in the X-editorial offices was listening to SERIOUS metal in 2001.

Dan Abnett and his old writing partner Andy Lanning are guys whose names I've seen on a number of books over the years: not to the point where I'm signing up in advance for their work, but I usually enjoy whatever I get from them. And they have a pretty massive list of credits, like Annihilation: Nova, Legion of Super-Heroes or old Punisher comics or a pretty great issue of Creeper or Star Trek: Early Voyages. Today, they've got my favorite character, in a weird place, figuratively and literally; in 2001's X-Men: Magik #3, "The Fall of Hades" Written by Abnett and Lanning, art by Liam McCormack Sharp.

Previously, Magik had been Illyana Rasputin, and well, she is again today as well. But she was de-powered, de-aged, and then dead for some time in between; and I suspect Marvel didn't want the trademark on the name to go without a fight. They could've made longtime supporting character Stevie Hunter the new Magik if they'd wanted probably wouldn't have made any more or less sense, honestly. Instead, longtime supporting character Amanda Sefton gets the title, the Soulsword, the stewardship of Limbo. (Not the same Limbo Rom's neutralizer sent the Dire Wraiths...although I don't know why.) The little origin box mentions "Black Sun," which was a pretty dire crossover from 2000; guess D&A got the task of seeing what they could do with it.

This was during the stretch where Nightcrawler was training to be a priest (a plotline I hate with all the bile in my heart) so why not put him in a leather vest so he can hang out with his ex in hell? Or hell-adjacent Limbo, I suppose. Y'know, it was probably better than whatever they had him doing in the regular X-titles, so I'd just go with it. Most of this issue was Amanda rescuing Mephisto from being destroyed by the same unnameable force that had already destroyed Muspelheim, as well as Dormammu and Nightmare's realms. All of Marvel's assorted hells had been splintered off into their own long ago; and to fight the newcomers, Amanda gets them to agree to unite. One big, happy, hell; as it were. But this may have played into the enemy's hands, as Kurt discovers one of Amanda's aides had been replaced by longtime supporting demon S'ym! If you don't recognize the name, S'ym was one of Illyana's main demons, played a big part in Inferno, and checks a box for X-Men fans.

The art is...interesting. This had to be pretty early going for some of the computer stuff that's going on here. And now I need to find my copies so I can see how this ended. Amanda would no longer be Magik well before she was killed in Claremont's Nightcrawler since Illyana's taken the name back, but I still like Amanda better.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016


That's brief as in briefing, not brief as in short; today's strip is wordy as hell.

I really, really wanted to swipe some proper art for the Rigellian ship, but held off. Pity. There's a Carmine Infantino bulk cruiser from an obscure Star Wars comic that might have worked.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

I don't know why Simon is rocking the Cable/Longshot one glowy eye, though.

Even though I think the first two issues were stronger than the rest of the series, Infinity War remains one of my favorite Marvel crossovers. So much so, that I'm still picking up tie-in issues for it twenty-some years later; albeit out of the severely discounted bin. From 1992, Wonder Man #14, "Infinite Memory" Written by Gerard Jones, pencils by Jeff Johnson, inks by Dan Panosian.

One of the things I love about the Infinity War tie-ins, is seeing the events from the main series through the lens of the hero of the tie-in. Before this issue, I could barely have confirmed Wonder Man was in Infinity War--I actually had to go back through the tag, and sure enough, he's in the background or the group shots more than once. But I definitely didn't think he did much more than throw a punch or two, and yeah, in the main story he probably didn't. Here, though, we see what those punches, and the whole experience, meant for Simon Williams. More than you'd think!

Along with being a long-time Avenger with powers near the level of Thor or Hercules, Simon Williams also wanted to be an actor in Hollywood. Which makes it seem like he was acting the role of invulnerable flying brick--in the regular title, Wonder Man seemed fine--while up close in this issue the cracks are far more apparent. His ionic powers had been erratic, seemingly affected by his moods, which were also erratic. Simon also seemed to wonder (so to speak) if he was still human, or something less, since gaining his powers and returning from the dead; while at the same time feeling all-too-human remorse over his past. His encounter with an Infinity Doppelganger earlier has him questioning, is he really Simon Williams, or just energy in his shape pretending to be human?

Simon even drags Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, away to ask her about it. In a panicked, dickish fashion.

Somehow, the next panel isn't Wanda bitch-slapping Simon; but I kind of have the feeling she was less a character in this series than a crush-object, a goal. This was Simon's title, not hers.

With the bulk of the crossover moving along without him, all Simon can do is resolve to settle things with the Magus and his Doppelganger. Elsewhere, a group of people exposed to ionic energy are starting to come together; a subplot that I know would come back years later in Kurt Busiek's Avengers. This wasn't my favorite IW crossover--and how weird would that be, if it had been, so many years later? But there was more going on with Wonder Man than you would guess at first glance.

An unexpected bonus: Lorna Dane, Polaris, in her X-Factor uniform from my favorite run of that character: when she seemed settled and ready for full-time super-heroing, without being mind-controlled or obsessed with Havok or bulimic or any other nonsense. I wouldn't have considered that she and Simon would be on a first-name basis, unless they were introduced during this event. Simon has a moment of guilt when he worries how he would feel if Warlock killed Lorna, or Storm, or Wanda...they aren't exactly helpless little flowers, man. It would be fun to write Simon being interested in Lorna, then finding out her relation to Wanda: that would generate some drama, I think.
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Monday, June 20, 2016

Got this issue (or another copy of it!) for 12 cents, and even on that sliding's still not very good. From 1991, Avengers Annual #20, "A Storm in Subterranea part 1: Of Moles and Mutates" Story by Roy and Dann Thomas, pencils by Kevin West, inks by Fred Fredericks.

This issue's lineup of Avengers seems odd to me, like it was the roster for about 20 minutes in the 90's: maybe it was longer, but I don't recollect seeing this particular grouping again! It's also surprisingly overpowered for an Avengers roster. Hercules had even been powered down at that point, but the Eternal Sersi more than makes up for that. There was also Quasar, in his masked costume: if you read his comic, that outfit was a retroactive addition to the timeline; but it was also pretty short-lived. There's the (white, emotionless) Vision; She-Hulk, probationary members Sandman and Rage; and Captain America and Black Widow. And the Widow has a white costume, for some reason. (Coloring failure? I thought her outfit at the time was more dark grey in the coloring of the era.)

This was the kickoff for Subterranean Wars, and tries to set up Brutus as the big-bad, since he has the usual underground rulers Tyrannus, Grotesk, and the Mole Man on the run. Instead, the effect is more like "Oooh, someone scared the Mole Man? Why, they must be hardcore!" Actually, as far as guys living underground, Moley seems pretty reasonable: after getting trounced repeatedly trying to take over the world, he's somewhat resigned to keeping his little Moloid subjects and assorted Kirby monsters safe. He's certainly more personable than Tyrannus or Grotesk. (That might even be Grotesk II, I think the original died hassling the original X-Men?)

While Cap and Widow tag out, ostensibly to get the Fantastic Four in on this thing (Spoiler: they don't!) the rest of the Avengers are somehow captured, where they would spend most of the rest of this crossover. Previously, we saw Namor was about to try and get them, but got sidetracked. Oof, we're actually over halfway through this thing: we took a peek at the Hulk's chapter years ago, without mentioning Subterranean Wars at all...time to update the tags!
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Friday, June 17, 2016

He used to do friendly little Speedball stories, before Ellis and Ennis got ahold of him.

From 1993, New Warriors Annual #3, "Tough Choices" Story and art by Darick Robertson, inks by Ian Akin. In the lead story, Speedball exclaims how great it is to have more control over his powers, and not just be bouncing around "like a complete feeb!" That way lies Penance, you know...I rather prefer Speedball as well-meaning yet somewhat hapless, so it's weird to see him as somewhat competent; but that would get rolled back eventually.

Robertson would go on to do Transmetropolitan, the Boys, and Ballistic; so this is pretty early work for him. In "Tough Choices" Speedball has to stand up to a bully without blowing his secret identity, which means turning the other cheek no matter how much he'd rather not. In the next year's annual's back-up, he seems to have given up on that, and resolves to give his bully an Speedball!

From 1994, New Warriors Annual #4, "Two Sides" Written by Robertson, pencils by Stephen (J. B.) Jones, inks by Ron Boyd. Following his bully home, Speedball eventually realizes his bully lives in the bad end of town, and is getting a heaping helping of abuse from his father. I think Speedball's still considering beating his ass until he sees him bawling.

Just recently acquiring these again (EDIT: these two might have been new to me...) I read both these annuals and one of their appearances in the Kings of Pain crossover; all three had a ton of guest-stars. And the Warriors were a fair-sized team, so they were crowded books!
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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ah, nothing like a satisfying conclusion. No, I mean nothing like a satisfying conclusion.

I had actually intended to re-read this series one of these days; but found a cheap copy of the last one. And now I can't remember if this was intended as a mini-series from the start, or if the writing was on the wall and the bloom off the rose by this point...From 2003, Battle of the Planets #12, "Destroy All Monsters, part 2" Written by Munier Sharrieff, pencils by Wilson Tortosa, cover and art direction by Alex Ross.

This was of course based on the classic cartoon, which was a dubbed and edited version of the original Japanese Kagaku Ninja Tai Gatchaman. Five teenaged ninjas with bird costumes and individualized weapons and vehicles are earth's only real line of defense against the invading alien Galactor. That's breaking it down to its most basic elements, but the series is still much beloved to this day by old men who watched it in the 70's fans and influenced numerous other series: any Power Rangers thing you see with five team members probably descended from here.

The title page proclaims "The Explosive Conclusion!" and there is a good chunk of action to be had here; but there's also a lot of open plot threads. More than just leaving the door open for a sequel, like followup was all but certain. And yet I think this was about it, and I'm not sure why: it may have gotten the ball rolling for more profitable DVD sales (I bought the box set with Jason figure advertised in the back!) or the license cost may have been more than Top Cow was willing to pay. I didn't think this was a bad little series, since I fall squarely into the target audience for it, but wish there was a bit more closure here.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Some cuts had to be made this time: I had thought Black Cat might've been afraid to go to Xavier's school, for fear of getting mind-zapped by the Professor; but Cat stealing from/being stolen from by Gambit struck me as funny. Then I wanted Sat and Cat to make fun of Gambit for a bit, but it was a tangent, not unlike this.

I forget what Xavier's is actually called today, for that matter: I know the school has spent a little time in Limbo, but the building still looks closer to how it did when Logan was headmaster. Does it still repair itself? Or did that go away in Joss Whedon's run with Danger? Ah, let's pretend it still does, because that's the only way to explain how the school is often seen good as new immediately after being destroyed...well, I guess not the only way, if you've seen X-Men: Apocalypse...
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