Friday, July 29, 2016

Like a lot of superhero suits, it kinda does look better on a woman.

The armored hero Hardware presumably still exists in DC's New 52 continuity, even if like Static he hasn't been seen for a while. But I have to wonder if his occasional opponent Technique does as well. From 1996, Hardware #39, "Fighting Technique" Written by Jacqueline Ching, pencils by Prentis Rollins, inks by Ande Parks and Mike Decarlo. (Huh, Milestone may have had more female writers at the time than Marvel!)

When Hardware's alter-ego Curtis Metcalf still worked for the corrupt Edwin Alva, he was put on an anti-Hardware project with another brilliant scientist, Tiffany Evans. Although Metcalf dragged his feet, if not outright sabotaged the project; Evans was still able to create the Technique armor, and beat Hardware's ass at least once. Months later, with Metcalf and Alva's daughter Sabrina involved in a battle for the company, Evans confronts Metcalf about his secret identity. In the best superhero tradition, Metcalf denies everything. Sabrina may not have actually known Metcalf was Hardware, but had wound Evans up to attack Metcalf; just happening to be right!

Sabrina plays another card, with a learning algorithm drone, set to destroy all the contested holdings, unless Metcalf gives up his claim. Realizing she's been played, Technique helps Hardware stop the drone, and Hardware asks if they can begin again. But Sabrina is not ready to give up her fight yet...

I feel like I've said this a dozen times on this blog, but man, DC needs to just get all their old Milestone stuff out there on the cheap. Put it in people's hands and get them back on it. By the way, I love this issue's cover by Prentis Rollins, although the detail on Technique's shoulder pads looks like it would be a pain to draw regularly.
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Thursday, July 28, 2016

In hindsight, I'm not sure who's checking Namor out more, Jean or Bobby.

The Professor gets top billing on this title, possibly just to differentiate it from the other eleven books in the X-checklist this month. From 1996, Professor X and the X-Men #7, "Supreme Notions" Written by Fred Schiller, pencils by Nick Gnazzo, inks by Ian Akin.

This book was another of Marvel's 99-cent titles of the time, and was retelling classic Lee/Kirby X-Men stories with more modern art and storytelling. Great idea, except it was 90's art and storytelling. (I'm kidding. A little.) This issue retold 1964's X-Men #6, and featured the Sub-Mariner, who had formed a brief alliance with Magneto. They got along for approximately no pages this issue...

Bonus two-page Magneto character profile spread from Jan Duursema: Professor X's A-V set-up is off the hook, yo.
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Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Today's strip takes a dark turn, then. As usual, continued next week!
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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

We saw Tigra's Avengers Spotlight a bit ago, and today we've got the Black Knight: from 1990, Avengers Spotlight #39, "Cry Crusader!" Written by Roy and Dann Thomas, pencils by Greg Capullo, inks by Tim Dzon.

After stopping a carjacking/robbery in Washington D.C. the Black Knight is surprised to be arrested and accused of a double murder: two thieves hacked to pieces while attempting to rob a church. Although Dane later admits he's not overly protective of his secret identity, he does refuse to be unmasked by invoking "Avengers Status," which one cop doesn't want to honor. (I'm not sure how binding it would be, either.)

The witness to the murders can't positively ID the Knight as the killer, and Dane's associate Victoria Bentley and squire Sean back his alibi. Later, at his castle (!) Dane is visited by a woman who fears her husband is the killer; he was the Thor villain the Crusader. Dane puts together that the Crusader would be going after a visiting Middle Eastern emir, and actually fares rather poorly. The intervention of Crusader's adopted daughter snaps him out of his madness and saves the day, even though he's looking at hard time for the killings.

This is early work from Capullo, but not bad. I don't know if I ever saw the Black Knight with a mask under his helmet before, though: not sure if that was just for this issue, or a recent development like the squire, castle, and supporting cast.
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Monday, July 25, 2016

Even though I haven't read a ton of Grimjack comics, I love the concept of Cynosure, the multi-dimensional city touched by every reality. It gives the writer free reign for anything: dimensions of funny animals, dimensions of monsters, dimensions of giant robots, all in today's comic: from 1987, Grimjack #30, "Blood and Duty" Written by John Ostrander, pencils by Doug Rice, inks by "Screamin' Demons."

This issue touches on a plot point from Dynamo Joe: before the giant robot battlesuits were ready to face the invading Mellenares, other-dimensional mercenaries like Grimjack and his pal Blacjac had been used to fill in the gap. It had also been kept a secret, possibly because the rank-and-file soldier may not have been ready for that kind of knowledge; but when a borrowed warp-drive unit sends the battlesuit Dynamo Joe to Cynosure, Grimjack recognizes it.

Grimjack gets aboard the suit, which landed in a dimension where "high-grade tech acquires low-level sentience," and had been going a little nuts. With some help from Joe's pilots Daro and Pomru, Grimjack is able to get the mech back where it belongs, with the extorted promise to not tell anyone about any of it.

Also this issue: funny animal adventure with "Gwimbear"! Punched into another dimension several issues back, Lord Phaeton has been waiting for a chance for revenge against Grimjack, which may be coming...This issue was featured in a house ad for First Comics, but I only got it recently.
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Friday, July 22, 2016


I picked up a couple lots of old, loose, Toy Biz accessories on eBay; like the flaming axe that came with the first Spider-Man 2099 figure. For some reason. Have a good weekend!
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Thursday, July 21, 2016

"You'll always have the Defenders!" Great, now I'm depressed.

We saw the prior chapter some time back, but today we finally see the Hulk versus his teammates, the Defenders! From 1977, Incredible Hulk #207, "Alone Against the Defenders!" Written by Len Wein, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Joe Staton.

Mourning his lost love, former sub-atomic queen Jarella; the Hulk has smashed up a fair chunk of New York City while waiting for Dr. Strange. Firmly in denial, the Hulk is hoping Strange can bring her back; but their reunion gets off to the wrong foot when Strange has a little too accusatory tone, and the Hulk is a little too mad at the "puny humans." Strange wraps up Hulk with the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak, but that merely traps Hulk in a big red ball that he can hop around in! Strange starts to realize the Hulk needed a friend, but then gets sidetracked into damage control.

Following a young blonde girl from behind, the Hulk hopes she is Jarella, then is enraged when she's not. Nighthawk, Valkyrie, and Red Guardian save the girl and tussle with Hulk for a bit; before Nighthawk gets the Hulk to realize the Defenders are his friends. Regrouping at Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, the Doctor casts out his astral form and checks Jarella's body...and finds that she was truly dead.

Shattered with grief, the Hulk takes it out on the Sanctum, then cries it out with Valkyrie. Finally composing himself, Hulk makes a surprisingly coherent apology, then excuses go somewhere, he no longer cared where.

I don't know if I would've brought back Jarella after Harlan Ellison's story, because once you do, she's pretty obviously doomed. Rather leave her a happy memory--or a torturing one, of Hulk's only moment of contentment.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016


I really, really wanted to get the blood splatter out again, but didn't have time for that kind of mess. Park's Mandroid would've been splattered by Pool getting taken out, but I thought it would be too tough to maintain continuity from shot to shot. It would be too easy to smudge the blood into a big thumbprint between shots...!

Pool will of course recover, but Park? No. Not so much.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

I would absolutely read "Special Giant-Size Antimatter Crisis Party!"

Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's Legion "Threeboot" was inventive, charming, and well-executed; so of course it's been virtually forgotten by DC since it ended in 2009. I'm not sure why, although the "youth in revolt" angle was new and maybe DC wanted to backtrack from it. Still, it added another dimension to the title: if you were a minor, alien or human, fed up with society, you could become a Legionnaire. (It took powers and try-outs to join the core team and get a flight ring.) The core team had been trying to inspire the galaxy with the heroic ideal, with their own actions and the historical record, legends, and old comic books. Some of which may have been more accurate than others; like today's issue! From 2006, Legion of Super-Heroes #15, "Ancient Times" Written by Stuart Moore, pencils by Pat Olliffe, inks by John Livesay.

When the Legion's headquarters is destroyed, a group of young Legionnaires gather in the park, and wonder if their youth rebellion is over. A hooded stranger tries to encourage them, and asks to hear some of the stories that inspired them. One tells of the Legion helping out Earth 1 and 2's Green Lantern and Flash; another of a skirmish with the time-travelling Secret Society of Super-Villains, Captain Comet, and Karate Kid! The third tells of 80's Legionnaires Blok, Sensor Girl, White Witch, and Quislet; who save the Flash during the Crisis on Infinite Earths!

The hooded figure tells the kids it doesn't matter if Flash or Quislet were real, it matters that they inspire us. He then reveals himself to be...a Superboy fan. The rest of the issue is Triplicate Girl answering fan mail, with a surprising guest-star! (Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Adam De Kraker, inks by Rodney Ramos.) This was actually the last issue of the title, sort of, since it would become Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes the next month.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Even though I love Walt Simonson's run on Thor to death, I hardly ever scan anything from it here; honestly, because you don't need me to tell you it's good. Some of the issues before he came on, though, could use a little love. Like today's book! From 1981, Thor #309, "Beware the Bombardiers!" Written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Rick Leonardi, inks by Chic Stone.

That's not the latest model of Batmobile, but rather the rocket-car of the arsonist crew the Bombardiers. They've been knocking down buildings for landlords looking to cash in on their insurance, and have begun to leave a trail of bodies in their wake. After destroying the Savoy Building, the Bombardiers have attracted some attention...because a rocket-car destroying buildings was oh-so-inconspicuous to begin with...and now Detective Blackbyrd, Dr. Donald Blake, and an old man's cat are on the case. The old man died in the Savoy, and the cat hangs out with Blake, not looking for kitty yum-yums, but vengeance!

A quintet of jerks in a rocket-car hardly seems a match for the God of Thunder, so the Bombardiers did have an ace up their sleeves: their car, and the cables they tie Thor up with, are "an alloy of adamantium!" Wait, could you make cables entirely of an unbreakable metal? Wouldn't they be unbendable, then? Maybe that explains how Thor snaps said cables when he gets pissed. The rocket-car is somewhat more of a problem, and Thor even compares it to Ultron...sick burn on you, Ultron.

Still, the car's windows are not unbreakable; as Blackbird is able to shoot them out; then the cat (!) gets in there, and goes for the eyes of the head Bombardier, who gets electrocuted by falling onto a control panel. The rocket-car takes off, and Thor makes sure it doesn't hit anything and saves the avenging cat; whom Thor probably should've adopted, if only to ensure it didn't kill again.

I have little hope of my Wife's cats avenging my death. At this point, I'd be glad if they weren't the cause of it...I had this issue as a kid, and I have to say, I still kind of dig it.

Bonus: I think Phillip Reed of Battlegrip mentioned it on Twitter some time ago, but if you read any Marvel comics the summer of 1981, you probably saw this ad for the game "Attack of the Mutants!" I never saw the game, but if someone made a six-inch scale version of that "brave little robot," I would buy it up in a heartbeat!
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Friday, July 15, 2016

The (Remaindered) Mark of the Man-Wolf!

Although I have a love of Man-Wolf dating back to having his Power Records appearance as a kid, I'm not sure I had any actual comics with Man-Wolf until I was in college! (With the exception of his Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe entry, which was weird for reasons we'll see later...) Which means I may have passed on these two issues on the spinner racks: from 1981, the Savage She-Hulk #13, "Through the Crystal!" Written by David Anthony Kraft, breakdowns by Mike Vosburg, finishes by Frank Springer; and from 1981, Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #3, "Dark Side of the Moon" Written by David Kraft, pencils by Jim Sherman and Alan Weiss, inks by Steve Mitchell.

Back in the day, my grandpa got me a subscription to Star Wars, which I loved. So my little sister wouldn't feel left out, he or my folks got her a sub to...I want to say She-Hulk first, then that got cancelled, then maybe Dennis the Menace, then Spider-Woman? My sister was never a big comic reader, but in her defense She-Hulk's first comic was never very good. (I don't think she had this one; maybe Man-Wolf would've made her a lifelong fan!) Despite a cameo by Valkyrie and Hellcat guest-starring, this issue's more than a bit of a mess even before dragging in the Man-Wolf and his backstory and supporting cast as Star-God. Star-God, you ask? That had been written by Kraft as well, and reads like someone's D&D campaign has gone off the rails, not necessarily in a bad way; as Man-Wolf becomes a swashbuckling space barbarian...It was a cool looking OHOTMU entry though, with art by George Perez!

Oddly, even though Kraft wrote the denouement of the Man-Wolf's story (for the time being...) in the Spectacular Spider-Man Annual, that story doesn't go into the Star-God business at all, the moonstone is treated as a parasite, and John Jameson is once again what Toyfare called "Spider-Man's space werewolf." It's a little more serious than that, since Man-Wolf is a savage monster again here, tearing up NYC. Fortunately, grad student Peter Parker and Dr. Curt "Lizzie" Connors are working on a "bio-magnetic converter" project that would revolutionize medicine, if it wasn't used once and destroyed curing John. (Good luck getting more grant money from J.Jonah Jameson!) Y'know, the cover proclaims "Featuring the startling final fate of Man-Wolf!" and honestly? Not that startling. If he had been trapped in the body of a poodle or something, that would have been something...

The Spidey art isn't a modern classic, but it's good enough. That She-Hulk art, though...I don't think the title was a priority for Marvel at the time. (I think there were a couple Michael Golden covers earlier in the run that were pretty good!) That and She-Hulk had two love interests, one named "Zapper," the other occasional supporting character Richard Rory, a Steve Gerber creation that I just haaaaaaaate. Can't stand him. Oddly, despite having a long-suffering fiance named Kristine, in recent years John was actually married to She-Hulk for a time!

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Thursday, July 14, 2016

If Rebel was picked over me, I'd probably go bad too...

Sometimes, I get back issues super-cheap, guys. Like so cheap that they're worth picking up for a Mike Mignola cover, or so the Youngest can use the backing boards to draw on. Like today's books! From 1994, Will to Power: #2-5, 11-12; written by Randy Stradley, Mike Richardson, Jerry Prosser, and Chris Warner; with art by Warner, Jim Somerville, Brian Apthorp, Mike Manley, Tomm Coker, and more.

It's probably somewhat telling that the Wikipedia entry for Will to Power seems to trail off after the first few issues of the event...this was the second weekly series from Dark Horse for their superhero universe, the optimistically named Comics' Greatest World. Like the first series, this one featured stops in each of CGW's locales, like Arcadia and Golden City; but Will to Power follows their Superman-analog, Titan; as he goes his own way from Golden City, recaps his origin, and slowly goes bad.

Not unlike Malibu's Ultraverse, Dark Horse waded right in trying to create an entire superhero universe; when they might've been better served with just a few characters rather than a flood. Ghost (who doesn't appear in this series, save for an ad on the back cover!) was the breakout star in the comics, while Barb Wire of course had a movie. X and King Tiger have had a couple tries as well, too.
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