Tuesday, February 28, 2017


Sometimes, when a long-standing character finally gets an action figure, even if they've been waiting years for it, collectors can still feel pangs of regret if they don't get a preferred look for said character. A superhero--or heroine--could have dozens of outfits or variations over the years, but only get one plastic incarnation. Ask some fans about "safari jacket" Wonder Man, or '80's Outback/video game Dazzler. Today, we've got the brand new Marvel Legends X-Men Polaris, who features a somewhat modernized version of her best-known costume. And looks positively thrilled about it. Seriously, she seems a bit glum.

I liked Polaris's first X-Factor uniform, but I think the only Marvel Legend in that era's style would be Quicksilver. Probably not finishing that lineup any time soon.

We're referencing an old bit of continuity, from 1976's X-Men #97, when the Shi'ar agent using the alias Eric the Red (which had been previously been used by Cyclops!) abducted and brainwashed Havok and Polaris to fight the X-Men. It's a great fight there, although I'm not sure Eric the Red's storyline was resolved that cleanly.

Also, it took me a bit to balance, but Juggernaut is standing on Wolverine's back in the third picture--but he's blocked by Alex and Lorna!
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Monday, February 27, 2017

Geez, Batman doesn't get all pissy when they light his signal...

Actually, that may not be 100% true. Check out the cover from 1999's Adventures of Superman #565, "The World is My Backyard" Plot by Karl Kesel, dialog by Jerry Ordway, pencils by Tom Grummett, finishes by Denis Rodier.

In totalitarian eastern nation Kota Zamfir, the democratic protesters have a new protector: Superman. Who tells the local despot, there will be free elections in a month, or else. The government, working with Lex Luthor, have noticed Superman appears to now be working 24/7, and Luthor ever-so-innocently asks what their plan will be if Superman starts taking action against the U.S. Of course, he's already planning ahead, having some goons steal a synthetic Kryptonite sample from Professor Hamilton.

While young newbie hero Outburst wonders what his hero Superman is up to, the Man of Steel helps the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit with Captains Cold and Boomerang, who mistakenly thought Supes would be too busy all over the world to watch his hometown. Outburst shows up to help, and Supes idly wonders if he couldn't use more like him before seeing a Superman-signal, lit over the old Daily Planet building. It's Batman and the Justice League, staging an intervention for Supes; although maybe Batman isn't the best choice to ask him when he slept last. Still, Superman isn't not sleeping because he's busy, but because he seems to be having prophesies of disasters. He mostly turns the intervention back on the JLA: maybe he could get some rest, if they stepped it up and helped him more? Martian Manhunter gives Supes a telepathic scan, and finds no outside influence; but the JLA declines to join him: as Wonder Woman puts it, they can't cross the line "from enforcing what is right and just...to deciding what is right and just!"

Although tempted, Batman feels like something is wrong, but also guesses that others will join Superman's crusade...namely Outburst, who had eavesdropped on their conversation. (A conversation that didn't mention any secret identities, but the names Lois and Barry Allen could've been overheard.) The Superman books at the time featured a triangle on the cover with the reading order; this was #9 for 1999, and this storyline would continue at least until #24, with aftereffects going well past that.
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Friday, February 24, 2017

The Comic Book Shop has come through for me a couple times lately, with the Scarlet Witch and the Destroyer; but whenever I get a figure from them, I worry that I'm cherry-picking the case and they'll be left with pegwarmers. (Although I did drop the ball when I picked up Stryfe: I should've got Storm first and had a shot at finishing Jubilee!) Still, that didn't stop me from grabbing the latest DC Multiverse figure, Batgirl!

You can see a bit in the pictures here; she came with a yellow batarang that looks like a chewable vitamin, and a phone. But like a lot of the Mattel DC figures I've purchased over the last year, the articulation is both plentiful yet just short of useful: Batgirl can't hold her phone anywhere near her ear, for instance.

The paint seems pretty good: the belt and her hair could maybe use a little something, but the laces on her boots are nice. Hmm, just now I notice, while I haven't been playing with her long, her hips seem a bit loose? Batgirl isn't bad, but I haven't had a DC figure in recent memory that was as nice as a Marvel Legend figure. Not even close. But they're the same price as Legends, and I find myself wondering if I'll get the rest of this series. I swear they had two Legends of Tomorrow Hawkmen on the rack, and he seemed bland. The Earth-2 Flash (John Wesley Shipp!) and Zoom are probably comparable to the earlier Flash and Reverse Flash: not terrible, but not $40+ worth? And that Dark Knight Returns Joker doesn't do anything for me.

Still, I do kinda want the Jim Gordon Batman. So I can give him a mustache.

And although we've recently completed Sandman, Killer Croc, Abomination, and Space Venom; we're back to a pile of parts in the Build-a-Figure, Collect-and-Connect drawer. I fully intend to put the Warlock pieces I get on eBay, since I only want Dazzler and Polaris, and can live without Colossus, Shatterstar, and Cyclops. It is entirely possible I'll hold out on the off chance of finding the rest cheap. Really cheap. I'm four Guardians (and Star-Lord, who doesn't get a piece!) down from completing Titus, and while another Drax is a hard sell, it could still happen. And building King Shark?...I have to admit, he might carry the lot. I just had a glance at the back of the package, since for some reason I was picturing him as a hammerhead, which strikes me as terrible; glad they didn't go that route.
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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Another unlucky break for Sunfire...

After I picked up the new Sunfire Marvel Legend, I did a bit of checking: first, Sunfire had not come up on the blog very often, although we did see his Age of Apocalypse figure at least once. Also, conveniently, the other day OAFE featured a review of the old, pre-Legends, Toy Biz Sunfire that came with the Giant-Sized X-Men box set. I have it, if not handy, but I noticed something from the Sunfire pictures: the old figures arms and legs were textured, indicating chainmail. Which the new figure maybe could've used; since Hasbro has those parts: Green Goblin and Hobgoblin just used them! Although, a quick image search popped up some pictures from Sunfire's recent stint with the Unity Squad in Uncanny Avengers, where he didn't seem to have the chainmail texturing sometimes seen before, possibly because he would be standing next to Captain America's chainmail shirt.

I noticed that while I was checking the old figure's left hand, which is open-palmed like a slap or a karate chop. Or a wave, as Sunfire left the X-Men immediately after the new team's first mission; which was like leaving a team on the verge of winning championships for several years. In 1998, Sunfire would appear with the new super-team Big Hero Six--but wouldn't go on to appear in their 2014 Disney movie! Man, the guy doesn't seem to catch a break, which might explain why he's such a jerk.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2017


The Jackal figure wasn't even a blip on the radar when I started this plotline, so I can't pretend I had that all planned. Also unplanned: I still haven't found Misty Knight's gun! I would actually have to consider, if I saw another one on the cheap, since the right knee on my figure is wobbly.
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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A lot of episodic TV action or drama shows do this at least as much as comics: if the story features a previously unseen and unmentioned childhood friend/mentor/acquaintance, they are either going to turn out to be the villain, or get killed. Today the latter, but that's better than becoming Hush, right? From 2007, Detective Comics #828, "Sharkbite" Written by Paul Dini, pencils by Don Kramer, inks by Wayne Faucher.

This issue opens with the Riddler unmasking Bruce Wayne...dressed as Zorro at a costume party on a yacht. (The opening is a little lacking, actually; either like it was continued from the previous issue--and I don't think it was--or needed a bit more space.) Although I think he figured out Batman's secret identity in the aforementioned Hush storyline, by this point Riddler had (probably?) forgotten it, and was ostensibly reformed and working as a private investigator. While not a fan, Bruce doesn't mind having the chance to keep an eye on him; as well as watching over a childhood friend, Matthew Atkins. He might've dropped the ball on that one, though, since Matthew went over the side of the yacht, was mauled by sharks before Batman could save him, and dies. While the Riddler proclaims on TV "no signs of foul play," Batman continues investigating, since the bite patterns from the sharks seem off, and Matthew's hand had a incongruous spine from a porcupine fish in it. Looking into Matthew's job as a museum consultant, some troubling red flags arise, including that the Riddler may not have been finished with his investigation, either...

I almost thought I had read this before, in another Paul Dini trade: this story would be reprinted in Death and the City, I was thinking of Private Casebook. Still--and this isn't the only comic guilty of this--it's weird when partygoers come dressed as characters that in-universe would be considered villains, if not murderers. I could maybe see Catwoman being considered a Robin Hood-type hero, but dressing up like Harley or Ivy seems like it would be considered poor taste.
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Monday, February 20, 2017

I can't help but notice Pietro isn't racing to help Dane.

I know I had this issue when it came out, but I can't remember if either I didn't read the conclusion, or if it wasn't very satisfying. Still, today we've got 1992's Avengers #350, "Repercussions" Written by Bob Harras, pencils by Steve Epting, inks by Tom Palmer.

After the Operation: Galactic Storm crossover--OK, I have to take a second here: so that crossover took its name from 1991's Operation Desert Storm, and I'm hoping Marvel doesn't go back to current events for their crossover titles, since I really don't want to see one about fake news or Benghazi or something. Anyway, at the conclusion of that crossover, a splinter group of Avengers killed the Kree's Supreme Intelligence, for its role in the war that cost billions of lives. Some of the Kree were still steamed about that, even if they were in no position to seek revenge. So a former Kree general sees about hiring out the Starjammers! Or at least half of them, Raza and Hepzibah. Hepzibah is more than willing to take two million credits for the death of the Black Knight; but Raza takes a bit more persuading: the Kree offer the whereabouts of his missing son.

Meanwhile, on earth, Professor X and Cyclops were having a conference with the Avengers, regarding the Acolytes: with Magneto believed dead at the time, it was feared they may see his grandaughter Luna an embarrassment, since she was human. Though their relationship had been through ups and downs, her parents Crystal and Quicksilver were united in doing whatever was necessary to protect her. Also at this meeting: former Avenger and former Starjammer (and future Captain Marvel) Carol Danvers, then going by the name Binary. They find the Starjammers' surprise visit a pleasant surprise, although Cyclops has to take his dad Corsair aside to talk "about Maddie and Nathan," which should take them out of the story for about three days.

For his part, Black Knight Dane Whitman was being a broody grump; since he had feelings for Crystal and would've been just fine if her marriage fell apart. He also was having a lot of guilt over the Supreme Intelligence's death, but none of that stops Sersi from making a pass at him. A rather serious pass: she was usually flirty and flighty, but this would start a triangle that would go on for years. Oops, that's a spoiler, especially since Raza seems to have murdered Dane here, and now Hercules was going to avenge his teammate!

Also this issue: a forgettable short with Luna's Inhuman nanny, Marilla (who would be straight-up murdered by Iron Man in the Crossing) and a reprint of Avengers #53, "In Battle Joined" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by John Buscema, inks by George Tuska. I'm having trouble picturing a time when Strawberry Alarm Clock was a timely cultural reference.
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Friday, February 17, 2017

It felt like a couple weeks since any big purchases, and like it was going to be a long dry spell before Toy Fair 2017. So of course a pile shows up this week! First, the complete Sandman wave from Wal-Mart. I suspected I was going to like it, but I love the Spidey 2099! And the Marvel Legends seem to have bumped up their shoulder articulation a notch--it was on the three-pack movie Spider-Man as well, and great range there.

Next, we got the Marvel Select Destroyer from the Comic Book Shop! Whoa, doggie, he's a right hefty piece of plastic! I wasn't going to display it with the included Odin head, but even it has a satisfying weight to it. Then, from Hasbro Toy Shop, the Star Wars Black Princess Leia! Which is apparently sold out there now, maybe; but they had a sale going last I checked.

Then, the price on the DC Multiverse Suicide Squad Katana and Joker dropped on Amazon--crap, they may even be cheaper now! And that got me the final pieces for Killer Croc! Let's see...Katana and Joker were $24, $8 for Captain Boomerang, $5 each for Batman, Harley Quinn, and Deadshot; so a total of $47 for Croc. That's down from the $120 retail it was supposed to be (at $20 a pop) but he feels tiny compared to the Build-a-Figure Sandman!

Granted, Sandman was a closer to full price $133--seven figures! I do rather wish Star Wars Black would consider a Build-a-Figure, Collect-and-Connect. Meanwhile, I did see a couple of the new Guardians of the Galaxy figures the other day: Angela and Yondu. They were full price, but still very tempting; yet I held out since I really wanted the new Star-Lord and Darkhawk. We'll see what we see over the weekend, good luck to those of you looking as well! (Unless you're in my neighborhood, I guess!)

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Even the villains hate them some Nazis.

Another random issue of Thunderbolts? Don't mind if I do! From 2011, Thunderbolts #163, "The Great Escape" Written by Jeff Parker, art by Kev Walker.

During the Fear Itself crossover, while they were supposed to be defending Chicago against the forces of the Red Skull's daughter; several members of the Thunderbolts instead have bailed out, teleporting themselves and their tower away! Luke Cage is left pissed, both at them and himself; for some choices he made that may not have helped the team. Longtime members M.A.C.H. 5 and Songbird agree, but there was plenty of blame to go around: they think if they'd be more encouraging, Fixer might not have turned on them...

Meanwhile, the escapees--Fixer, Moonstone, Mr. Hyde, Boomerang, Centurius, and Satana with a Man-Thing in tow--realize they didn't teleport to New Zealand, but to Austria. Oh, and back in time for good measure, to World War II! The Nazis are fighting mad about the sudden appearance of a "pillbox" in their turf, but the Thunderbolts are more than game for fighting them. Centurius (whom I don't know much about...) points out the dangers of changing history, but the others seem to figure it'll be fine. Until the Invaders Captain America and Namor show up to help! Thinking fast, Moonstone changes her costume to a more 40's style, and introduces herself to Cap as part of "America's newest power squadron," the American Thunderbolts!

Quick thinking on Moonstone's part, but now I wonder how long she'd be able to play goodie-two-shoes with Cap: she was usually too clever for her own good. Also, several of the team, particularly Mr. Hyde, had fought Cap before, and it's tough to picture them keeping it together. There were a few more chapters to this storyline with the Invaders, but these T-Bolts weren't done time-travelling yet...
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Wednesday, February 15, 2017


So the Blame apparently has the magic computer voice, like the Magic Voice on MST3K, or more commonly as seen on Star Trek; or more currently Gideon on Legends of Tomorrow. I'm not sure about the Blame's voice yet, but she doesn't seem quite as helpful.

There is allegedly a rhyme and reason to the course and heading numbers on Star Trek, but in practice they're usually a random string of numbers, like the stardates at the start of an episode.

Nightcrawler's upper range of teleporting is supposed to be maybe three miles in a single shot, mmmmmaybe carrying two people in an emergency. There's a few ways he can cheat that, like going further with a bunch of short jumps instead of one big one; or in his last solo series by using Bamfs as anchors: he could follow anywhere they could 'port, and they could go anywhere. But in recent Marvel continuity he seems to be able to go wherever the plot needs him too...
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Tuesday, February 14, 2017

In the prestige format Alterniverse story--oh, just call it "What If?" and be done with it--The Last Avengers Story, several Avengers are already dead or missing when the story begins. Among them, Thor and Hercules, who disappeared when they went to save Asgard and Olympus. Both gods took a mortal "second" with them, Thor picking the Thing, and Herc taking the Hulk: only the Hulk would return, but he wouldn't be the same afterwards...Still, I thought Peter David nailed the idea that Thor and the Thing would be friends, possibly since neither of them get along with the Hulk...anyway, The Last Avengers Story wouldn't fit in the scanner, so we've got an old one instead: from 1976, Marvel Two-in-One #22, "Touch Not the Hand of Seth!" Story by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Ron Wilson, inks by Pablo Marcos.

Ben spends the bulk of this issue with the Human Torch, getting last month's villain, Blacksun, to the hospital. (A brief aside: I had thought Blacksun, Thomas Lightner, went on to become D-list supervillain Lightmaster, but was mistaken. Instead, Lightner became the Nth Man--unrelated to the Larry Hama title!--then a mystic type on the Squadron Supreme's earth!) At said hospital, Dr. Donald Blake is mid-surgery when Egyptian death-god Seth comes for him, or rather his alter-ego Thor. Ben's always up to help out, but may be regretting it when Seth brings forth his armies of the dead!

I still think Captain America is Thor's favorite mortal, but it's pretty easy to see why he would like Ben, too. This issue's a bit of set-up, may have to do some scans from the conclusion later.

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Monday, February 13, 2017

That really doesn't seem like enough food...

We saw the previous issue a couple months back, and we're not going to get anywhere near all the way through the AvX crossover; but we'll check out another one today: from 2012, Avengers #28, written by Brian Michael Bendis, pencils by Walt Simonson, inks by Scott Hanna.

This was midway through the crossover, when Cyclops, Namor, Emma Frost, Colossus and Magik each had a piece of the Phoenix Force; and things were looking bad for the Avengers. Through the skirmishes with the mutants, the Red Hulk, former general "Thunderbolt" Ross, wonders what he brings to the proverbial table. Is he just a blunt instrument, or does his military experience give him something else to offer? Since Ross decides he can do what Captain America or Wolverine couldn't, maybe; but since he decides to assassinate Cyclops, maybe not.

Changing back to human, Ross infiltrates Utopia Island, but runs into Emma before he can kill Cyclops. Emma's mental powers shut him down, and she nearly forces Ross to slit his own throat before he Hulks out again. Facing the Phoenix Five (and Magneto, for good measure) the Red Hulk is outgunned, but they also know he would be too tough to contain or kill. They settle for sending him back to the Avengers in Wakanda, with a big 'X' carved into his chest. Still, Ross feels like Cyclops and his team just lost, by not killing him.

Since the previous issue featured Protector washing out of the team, I had half-expected this to be Red Hulk's swan song, but he wasn't out yet. Still, if you're asking yourself, what do I have to contribute? and the answer's murder; you may want to reconsider your life choices. Also, Ross's ego must be visible from space; since how could he consider his military experience the equal of Cap's? Ross lost how many campaigns against the Hulk?

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