Friday, March 31, 2017

If you have to move the entire moon to beat Mirror Master, I don't know what you'll do against Darkseid.

My Wife keeps what she calls the "apocalypse closet," where she stocks emergency food like those freeze-dried bucket things. She also keeps regular food in there, but it set a good example for me, since I used to keep maybe a day's worth of food in the house at any given time. I don't have the full-on closet she does, but my pantry does have some back-up to it now. Like a ton of cereal, mostly bought for the prizes. Like today's book! From a box of Lucky Charms, General Mills Presents Justice League #2, "Dark Reflections" Written by Fabian Nicieza, pencils by Rick Leonardi, inks by Bob Wiacek and Scott Hanna.

If you eat a bit of cereal, you might've seen these little giveaway comics; which probably had a better print run than anything you'll find in the comic shop on Wednesday. This was the second of four, but the last one I found, and yeah, I probably have at least two each of the rest. Although they featured a large JL roster (including two Green Lanterns, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz) each issue focused on one of the big names: Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and this issue was Batman. And despite a pretty solid creative team, there's a couple of missteps: one is an extended flashback to Bruce Wayne's childhood, when he has to confess to his mom that he got in a fight at school. (They called him "Richie Rich"!) That wouldn't be so bad, except young Bruce, despite still having parents, pulls a very Batman move by luring his bullies into a trap, then apparently walloping them in the dark. (I'd argue that Bruce was utterly normal before his parents' death; that seemed too competent and too dark there.)

Then, the villain of the piece is Mirror Master. Flash calls him a metahuman, rather than a crook with a gimmick, although Batman refers to him as such. I don't know if that was a New 52 change. MM maneuvers Flash into super-charging his "mirror matrix," and now alternate earth villains are pouring out of reflective surfaces all over the place. Batman, thinking back to his mom's advice, jumps to the solution of removing the mirror villains' need to fight, by removing their reflections, by forcing a solar eclipse to eliminate the daylight? Supes and the GL's move the moon, the reflections disappear, and Flash dismantles the Mirror Master's machine. I can't help but think moving the moon around all willy-nilly probably wasn't a good idea: couldn't the GL's have just blocked the sunlight with their rings? Not as dramatic, I admit.

So much cereal...and I was supposed to be going lower-carb, too. (EDIT: Per the Wife, it's the "'pocalypse closet." She was very insistent I let you know!)

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Wow, automation does cost jobs.

One Replicus takes the job of two mobsters, in today's book: from 1974, Marvel Spectacular #12, reprinting Thor #141, "The Wrath of Replicus!" Written by Stan Lee, pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta.

This issue, mobster Slugger Sykes uses the robot Replicus of mad scientist Chuda (no title, only one name, like Cher) for a crime spree so bad it attracts the attention of Thor. Actually, Dr. Donald Blake had been treating the elderly flower merchant Granny Gardenia, who was Sykes' mother, in a plot that was pretty hackneyed well before this story. Thor has a pretty good slugfest going with Replicus, when Sykes realizes Chuda was actually an alien intent on using an army of Replicuses to take over, and Sykes blows them both up.

Not a great lead story, but the back-up this issue is "The Meaning of Ragnarok!" (Lee/Kirby/Colletta, from Thor #127.) It's only five pages of Ragnaroking goodness, but well worth the price of admission. Now, do I have the conclusion anywhere...yes, in the 2001 Thor #32 100-Page Monster!

Was this the first Ragnarok in Thor? As a back-up? Well, it wouldn't be the last time, anyway.

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017


For the time being anyway, this is the last strip with Misty Knight; partly because her wobbly knee made her a bit of trouble to shoot, partly because it was too crowded. Valkyrie and Thundra are probably around somewhere...

I don't know if Spidey 2099 has run into the Black Cat yet: it's mildly surprising there wasn't a Black Cat 2099, for that matter. Well, Peter David only had a few of those: I remember Vulture and Venom and Green Goblin 2099 from the first series; there may have been some more since then. Anyway, Marvel does seem to be big on punishing for future crimes, if Civil War II is any indication...
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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The real story here, is that deathtrap stretch of highway.

Even though I was 90% positive I had this issue, I still picked up another out of the quarter bin on the strength of the cover. Which is nice, but doesn't cover the holes in this one: from 1978, the Flash #265, "Shift the Earth Goodbye" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Irv Novick, inks by Frank McLaughlin.

There's reference to some previous-issue shenanigans, but suffice to say Barry and Iris are driving to Mount Roanoke for a second honeymoon. Yes, driving: Barry offers to just run them there at super-speed, but Iris wants some time away from the Flash. Which might be understandable, but come on: if a ten-hour drive is boring to you, it must be murder on the Flash. Still, Barry goes along with it, even not telling her about a blowout that would've killed them, if he hadn't changed the tire at super-speed.

Still, Barry then has a sudden impulse, to turn down an unmarked road, to a "far better, more exclusive resort hotel," which they find hidden away: the Hideaway Hotel. Name a bit on the nose there...Although they didn't have reservations, the clerk still acts as if they were expected, but advises the couple "to wear their pendants where they can be seen!" In their room, Barry has to confess to Iris he doesn't know what compelled him to come there, nor does he have any idea what's going on. Taking off as Flash, he backtracks along their route and the surrounding area, looking for whatever couple was expected in their place, and finds them in a car covered by a rockslide. Leaving their bodies in a cave, Flash takes their glowing pendants back to Iris; once they put them on, they are compelled to go downstairs for a group meeting. And as was commonplace for pendant-wearers of the time, they were all aliens.

Head-pendant recaps how they've spent the last 400 days charging a "cosmictron power rod" as part of a plan to momentarily switch their other-dimensional homeworld with earth, so earth will pass through the tail of a comet instead of them. Before Barry can do anything about that, though, the couple from the car wreck show up: protected by "our invisible bio-shields" they were unharmed, but went into a hibernation to build up strength to dig themselves out, and instead woke up in a cave with their jewelry swiped. The alien Cetaceans "de-activate their inviso-auras" (man, lot of bold in here) and expose Barry and Iris as humans. They leave at super-speed, but are then confronted by weapons with invisible triggermen--no, just flying pistols, that Flash takes out in about a page.

Despite sending those after Flash, the Cetaceans weren't bad guys: passing through that comet's tail had given their people immunization against some lethal microbes from space, and they wanted to pass that benefit on to earth. Or so they say: taking them pretty much at their word that this was their plan, or that it would be beneficial to humans at all, Flash super-charges their cosmictrons, earth and Ceta swap places momentarily, and everyone on earth receives a quick vaccination tetanus or something, I guess. Barry and Iris resume their second honeymoon, this time with Flash taking her to Mt. Roanoke at super-speed.

The Cetaceans do drop a reference I like, to the panic over the Martian Manhunter in Justice League of America #144: they probably correctly figured trying to explain their friendly intentions would've been more hassle than it was worth. The immunization is, as far as I know, never brought up again: you could figure it either didn't take, or it worked but humans just never realized. And Iris wanting to have some non-Flash time with Barry is somewhat understandable, but it's not like he was goofing off, either. On the other hand, a lot of situations that the Flash would run off to, could probably be dealt with just as easily later: Captain Cold, robbing a jewelry store? Flash shows up, it turns into a shoot-out. If Flash no-shows, what, Cold gets away with a few rocks, then gets busted later, probably with four other Rogues? Admittedly, that might be less exciting, but still.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Not much of a post today, sorry.

Marvel's Essential line of black and white reprints ended a few years back (2013 per the Wikipedia page) while DC's Showcase Presents is maybe still ongoing? So of course I decided I needed a bunch more of them, after filling up these shelves. Over the weekend, I read Showcase Presents: Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 5, Essential X-Men #5, Essential Spider-Man #10. That's a lot of black-and-white pages!

Since now I'm sweating these drying up on me, I sprung for the Essential Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe first edition--which doesn't seem to be on Amazon, but the Comic Book Shop had one. I still have my original issues from when they came out, but it's a nice collection. Then eBay delivered Essential Captain America #3-4 and Marvel Two-in-One #4; for way cheaper than Amazon. So I'm back to several hundred pages to read again.

Some of these are going to be harder to find than others--I kind of want Marvel Horror, if I can it without paying more than it would be for the original issues. Keeping my eyes open...(EDIT: Note to self: I totally have the Frankenstein Essential somewhere, check more boxes!)

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Friday, March 24, 2017

I've had the collections for Dark Empire and Dark Empire II for years: I didn't buy them new, but from a pawn shop in Missoula probably fairly close to when they were released. But I never found the collection for Empire's End, so the two singles for that stay on my bookshelf with the trades. From 1995, Star Wars: Empire's End #1-2, written by Tom Veitch, art by Jim Baikie.

I always thought it was weird that Marvel's adaptation of Return of the Jedi was only four issues, after Star Wars and Empire had both been six; and likewise I've always wondered why Empire's End was only given two issues to wrap it up, since both Dark Empires were six. It's a slightly bare-bones plot, though, even continuing from the previous series: the reborn Emperor Palpatine was struggling to stay reborn. He was down to his last clone body, and it was starting to disentegrate, and he needed Jedi genetic material for a new one. Moreover, with his new Galaxy Weapon capable of firing hyperspace missiles at any target, he should have the Rebels on the ropes; if not for shoddy workmanship: one missile hits within 50 yards of Han, Leia, and their kids, and doesn't explode! (At the very least, it probably should've caused explosive decompression.)

Several of the Jedis discovered during the first two series are killed off here, although Kam Solusar makes it; possibly because he was named after Dark Empire artist Cam Kennedy. Kind of wish Kennedy had drawn this, just for consistency.
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

It's an "Everything you know is wrong" story, but this was the time to do it.

We've seen a number of Demon appearances here over the years, and in them his level of badness has varied from Chaotic Good to eat-a-baby, full-on Belichick evil. Today the knobs go up to 11. From 1994, the Demon #0, "Zero Hour" Written by Garth Ennis, art by John McCrea. Despite the title and the tie-in, this didn't have much else to do with the crossover...

Jason Blood has just drank an elixir prepared by himself and Merlin, removing the mental blocks Etrigan had placed on Blood. Having eleven centuries of memories suddenly return would probably be bad enough, but eleven centuries of his crimes and sins may be more than his sanity can bear. In the year 560, Jason was a family man, with no interest in the possible fall of Camelot; but Merlin hears his grousing as treason. Likewise, Merlin's half-brother Etrigan has not been a great deal of help against Morgaine Le Fey, and Merlin knows he'll soon be unable to control the ambitious Demon. So, Merlin kills two birds with one stone, trapping Etrigan in Jason; driving both of them completely insane. Jason kills his family, then the Demon murders his entire village; earning them the name Jason-of-the-Blood.

Since Jason had been a good, if cynical, man; Etrigan has work on him to make a good host. He alters Jason's thoughts and memories to make him more amenable; making Jason a willing partner. Using Etrigan's power, Jason quickly amasses a massive fortune; but Etrigan's also making moves to keep advancing in the hierarchy of hell. After the brutal murder of a cardinal, Jason confronts Etrigan, and tells him no more; Etrigan alters his mind again. After more centuries of atrocities, Etrigan and Blood are invited to Hell to see Lucifer. (Described here as "a million miles away from the flake who will eventually quit his post.") Blood asks Lucifer where to go for new experiences and opportunities, and is told simply "west." Blood and Etrigan go to America, and commit about every horrible thing ever done in this country; until in July 1917, at a party Jason almost literally says "hold my beer" and leaves to wrap up the first World War. (Partly because he could, mostly for a million gold sovereigns.)

On August 1, 1917; Jason Blood is moved to save "a regiment of virgins," sad, doomed soldiers; and unleashes the Demon against the Germans. And the Demon even brings back-up, partly because he has advanced in rank to rhymer, partly because he felt Jason's deal didn't really do anything for him. After slaughtering the Germans, he does the same to the English; leaving ten thousand dead in the trenches. Jason loses his mind again, and the Demon is forced to erase his memory, but goes too far: everything from when Merlin joined them is forgotten. Jason believed himself to be a good man, struggling to get separated from Etrigan; piecing together clues over almost eight decades. Now, with Etrigan planning to unleash his son on Glenda and her unborn child, Jason has forced Merlin to show him the truth. (And in truth, Merlin was responsible for much of it!) All that saves Merlin, is that Jason needs Merlin's help to kill Etrigan...!

There was less than a year left of this book, before Ennis and McCrea moved on to Hitman, but I don't think the Jason vs. Etrigan plot ran the whole distance. Still, not unlike Marvel's Ghost Rider, every so often the Demon is portrayed as evil who happens to occasionally take out other evil, but not necessarily good...
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017


I've drawn those halfassed musical notes before, and they're always terrible. For terrible notes possibly, but still.

That Yondu's a nice figure; but would've been improved just a bit with an additional arrow to go in his holster. Still, pretty sweet.
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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Although I loved Ennis and Dillon's first limited series, I almost stopped reading Punisher: MAX after the first story arc, when (spoiler alert!) Frank kills his old partner Microchip for turning on him. I foolishly thought after all their time working together, Frank might give him a pass; but he's not exactly the type to do that, is he? And even if Ennis wasn't strictly bound by continuity, Frank may have still been pissed about this one: from 1995, Punisher #100, "The Cage" Written by Chuck Dixon, pencils by Rod Whigham, inks by Rudy Nebres, Elman Brown, Mike Higgins, Scott Elmer, Mick Gray, Tim Tuohy, and Phil Sheehy.

Feeling Frank was out of control, Microship not only was working with a replacement Punisher, but goes a step further and traps Frank in the basement of an abandoned factory. (Micro had bought it years prior, presumably for use as a hideout or safehouse.) He's also reconstructed, as best he could from old photos, Frank's old house, where he lived with his wife and children before they were murdered. Micro left videotaped messages for Frank, in several locations, since Frank keeps blowing out the screens; but he wants Frank to see his old home movies and remember his family. (I am not positive what Micro thought this was going to do for Frank, but it's pretty apparent he thinks Frank was pretty far gone.)

Meanwhile, Microchip was running support for new, and helmeted, Punisher Carlos "C.C." Cruz; as they made multiple attempts on a surprisingly persistent Punisher foe, mob princess boss Rosalie Carbone. She had been introduced early in the Punisher: War Zone run, and had survived multiple encounters with Frank. Here, even though other mob bosses intended to take her out, she still manages to get out again; while C.C. is pushed off a cruise ship by one of Rosalie's bodyguards. Microchip calls Frank for help, but hears a shotgun blast on the other end...!

Rosalie Carbone was a Frank Dixon creation, with John Romita Jr, and would survive this run of Punisher titles; but would be killed off early in the next series by a guy who knew a little something about taking out characters, former Suicide Squad writer John Ostrander. She had terrible fashion sense, we've seen before, but Rosalie was pretty good about not taking any crap from the other mob bosses, you had to give her that. And along with a really shiny cover, this issue also had the Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation: Paid circulation, actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date; 75,300.
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Monday, March 20, 2017

Shiny covers, unexpected guest-stars, and fridging.

I know I had at least one other shiny Avengers cover from this time, but not sure about this one. I also don't usually scan the covers, but I wanted to see how the shiny came out. From 1993, Avengers #366, "The First Rule!" Written by Bob Harras, pencils by Steve Epting, inks by Tom Palmer.

The lead story continues the plot thread from Operation: Galactic Storm and Avengers #350: seeking vengeance for the death of the Supreme Intelligence, the alien Kree have captured several Avengers, and plan on using a Nega-Bomb to destroy earth. The team's lineup had changed somewhat since #350, with the addition of Deathcry and guest Magdalene, and returning members Giant-Man and Captain America. The back cover wonders, though, if Cap's old-school, non-fatal moral code wasn't outdated. Also, Cap wears an earpiece-mike set-up that seems to be glued to his cowl. Still, he'd be wearing a leather jacket later in the run...

Also this issue: "Swordplay 3" (Or rather, cubed.) Written by Glenn Herdling, pencils by Mike Gustovich, inks and colors by Ariane Lenshoek. Previously, the Black Knight's former squire, Sean Dolan, has taken the cursed Ebony Blade, and become the murdering Blood Wraith. After killing some criminals involved in Tolliver's scavenger hunt, Blood Wraith is crossed by Deadpool, who was also on the hunt. (From the first Deadpool limited series, "The Circle Chase.") The Black Knight gets in there too, for a three-way duel; which ends with former Dr. Strange supporting character Victoria Bentley stabbed and her soul taken by the Ebony Blade. Pool steals the sword, but the Blood Wraith recovers it, yet finds his bloodlust has momentarily been sated by Bentley's death; which keeps him from killing Pool. I know the Blood Wraith would go bad again--with a pretty hefty body count--so Bentley's sacrifice was pretty pointless; except that she may earlier have been positioned as a love interest for the Knight, who was at this point was involved in a love triangle with Sersi and Crystal.
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Friday, March 17, 2017

Admittedly, I do seem to be trying to "Accumulate Them All!"

"Ocean Powers Collection" ad by Gregg Schigiel, from the most recent issue of SpongeBob Comics, #66. May have to upload that cover later...

I never had any Super Powers figures as a kid: I had Superman, Batman, and Robin Mego figures, as well as Star Trek, then Star Wars figures through Empire; then nothing for a few years. Still making up for lost time here...I do remember seeing a Super Powers Green Lantern for sooooo cheap in a Kay-Bee Toys a couple decades back, and stupidly didn't buy one, even if the squirting power ring probably wouldn't have fit even my dainty fingers. And I do have a Super Powers Batmobile, now that I think of it...

Still, DC Universe Classics and the Four Horsemen paid a long tribute to Super Powers, revamping them all. Which is why you got the occasional oddball like Golden Pharaoh or Cyclotron. I've been missing my DCUC figures lately, though; even if I'd need another detolf to display them properly. Something to keep in mind, then; but have a good weekend!
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Thursday, March 16, 2017

As I pick up random comics, a lot of times I note here to pick up the next issue or the conclusion. This time, meh; even if I've got part seven of eight today. From 2006, Detective Comics #820, "Face the Ecaf, part 7 of 8" (I'm pretty sure that's supposed to be "Face the Face," right?) Written by James Robinson, layouts by Leonard Kirk, finishes by Andy Clarke.

We're coming to this one mid-stream, but I do remember this was the big storyline after Infinite Crisis, with Batman returning to action "One Year Later" after leaving Gotham to the care of former Two-Face Harvey Dent. Who has since been framed for murder (including that of the original Ventriloquist and the KGBeast, both jobbed out here) but Bats is working the case, even while he and Robin fight the Scarecrow, and hallucinations of the Thomas Wayne Bat-Man, the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths Earth 2 Robin, and the Earth-Prime Superboy. Batman defeats the Scarecrow, as you might expect; but then trash-talks him, which surprised me.

Batman downplays that as "part of the game," to throw Scarecrow off next time; but it still doesn't sit well with me. He does praise Robin, Tim Drake, for getting past the fear gas and his nightmares so quickly; but Tim shrugs that off: he had lost so much, what was left? Batman does hint at an idea for what Tim could do next; but back at police headquarters, after explaining to Gordon how Dent was framed; Bats takes a moment to speak with a uniformed officer. Explaining he was trying to "undo past wrongs, not make new ones," he tells Officer Harper he knew something about her:

Despite his seeming desire to not make old mistakes, Bats gives her a slightly-nicer version of the "thou shalt have no vigilantes before me/Stay outta Gotham" speech he's given multiple times before. And he almost has a point: just because your grand-uncle was the Guardian or your third cousin was the Red Bee, doesn't mean you're a legacy and should join the Justice Society. It does feel a bit condescending, though.

Then, a Jack Ryder appearance! But only as a talking head on TV, breaking the news of Two-Face's return! Which was a foregone conclusion, wasn't it? Between that and Batman seemingly insuring the Scarecrow would come after him again by rubbing his nose in it, we're finally adding that tag for recidivism! Still, in-story Bats could be justified here: he, and we, know full well Scarecrow is going to get out someday, and Batman may want to make sure Scarecrow comes after him rather than someone that couldn't protect themselves. But overall, this issue didn't sit well with me.
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Wednesday, March 15, 2017


For science! Or, well, for "science." Either way. Pity there's yet to be a High Evolutionary figure; although he'd probably try to show up Jackal and Sinister by making a goat-person or something.

We tried using the Ultimate Batcave for the backgrounds today. It came with a pretty good set of stickers, that would've been easier to put on before putting that thing together. And Jackal is holding an accessory from a lot I bought on eBay, of Star Trek accessories--but a lot of them were over-sized for six-inch figures.
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