Monday, July 31, 2017


As is often the case, I'm out this week! But the blog continues to trundle along with posts the rest of the week. Have a good one!
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Friday, July 28, 2017

I got the recent Death's Head II Marvel Legend a couple weeks back, and while he's very nice, once more: I wanted the original! But this comic has both flavors: from 1993, What If...? #54, "What if Minion had not Killed Death's Head?" Written by Simon Furman, art by Geoff Senior.

In the regular continuity, Death's Head was killed by the A.I.M. cyborg Minion (unrelated to the Despicable Me ones!) and his programming absorbed; and DH managed to take over and become Death's Head II. In this story, a damaged Death's Head uses a personal teleporter to escape, and Minion goes on to kill Mr. Fantastic instead!

Minion is then taken over by Baron Strucker the Fifth, and becomes Charnal. (Something similar happened in the regular timeline, as Strucker took Death's Head's body.) With a vendetta against A.I.M, Charnal begins a killing spree that could end life on the planet. A.I.M. scientist Dr. Necker rehires Death's Head, who in turn recruits himself some backup: the surviving Fantastic Four, Luke Cage, Namor, Captain America, and War Machine! DH gives them a bit of a snow job of being "sort of a latter day Avengers," but it's obvious they want revenge for Reed's death.

Charnal is tougher than the heroes expected, though; and the tide turns against them. All are killed by Charnal, with the possible exception of Cap, who is probably blown up when Death's Head finally enters the fight, with a really big gun. Still, it's not looking any better for DH, except he was only playing for time: he goads Charnal into tapping into the minds it had absorbed, in order to give Reed Richards a chance to destroy it from within. Death's Head survives, with the sobering realization...heroism is really, really dumb.

Aw, I can't stay mad at that face. I've been looking for a 3-D printed original Death's Head...head, in Marvel Legends scale; but I swear, every 3-D printing site I've been to lacks any sort of useful search function. Anyway, with that, I'm on vacation! Although as usual, the blog will continue trundling along more or less as it always does. Check out early yourselves, you've earned it!
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Thursday, July 27, 2017

So, if Superboy can't build a robot to beat his ass; I'm guessing God can't make a stone so heavy he can't lift it.

The happenstance is less than random today, as I specifically sought out this one: from 1981, the New Adventures of Superboy #18, "Superboy's Do-It-Yourself Doom!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Kurt Schaffenberger, inks by Dave Hunt.

We saw the previous issue some time back, wherein a speech by Carl "Moosie" Draper badmouthing gives Clark the completely logical idea of building a robot to beat him, just to test himself against it. The robot, Kator, gives Superboy a pretty good fight; then approaches Moosie with a lot of promises that sound like Moosie is about to be lured into a windowless panel van...Meanwhile, Pa Kent is at home, with his finger on the button: usually that's a metaphor, but in this case it's literal! Pa is maintaining a constant vigil over the button that will deactivate Kator, waiting for Superboy's super-ventriloquism signal. On patrol the next day, Superboy may not have noticed his dad hasn't slept or bathed in days, but does notice Moosie giving him a big cheerful wave; right before Kator jumps him and drags Superboy into deep space!

Superboy thinks the change in venue is just Kator protecting Smallville from destruction, but the robot thought it through: their fight is near a comet that recently passed a red sun, and that radiation is quickly reducing Superboy's powers! Thinking quickly, S-B does the unexpected, and dives into the comet's tail, with enough speed to throw himself clear of the radiation before his powers were completely gone. Moreover, Kator is kicked into a sun, and the robot burns up. Home in time for dinner, Pa throws away the button; and Clark's learned his lesson; but we see Moosie hiking out to a cave in the woods, where he finds Kator's fallback plan.

As "Kator the Second," Moosie kidnaps Lana to lure in Superboy. (Superboy wonders who would take "the girl of his dreams" to the deserted football field, and, um...maybe when you're older.) While a bit tubby in his new outfit, Moosie knows he's got an advantage: Superboy is sworn to never take a human life. After some scuffling, Superboy races home to find the button, which isn't in the trash! Worse, Moosie meets him there, Kator having filled him in on Clark's secret identity...except, Pa Kent had fished out the button for Superboy's trophy collection, as a little reminder, and pushes it, cancelling Moosie's powers. And after that, it's a simple matter to rewire his "mind-prober ray" to erase Moosie's memories of the experience; what the hey, Superboy figures why not erase Lana's as well, so she doesn't resent Moosie. (Probably have to erase Lana's dad's memory, and fix their house, too.) What Superboy couldn't suspect--and I didn't catch either--was that Carl "Moosie" Draper would still go on to become a super-villain! He'd grow up to be the Master Jailer: nowhere near as major as the captioning would want you to believe, but I've read an issue or two with him, usually still stalking Lana!
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Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Yeah, I don't get the currency markets either.

I didn't really have the resources to do it, but how would Pool's proposed mutant homeland gone down? Like that ever-popular lead balloon, I imagine. Let's see...since it's not currently inhabited, Pool plants the flag in Antarctica--there may be a small smidge of unclaimed territory there. Using his cash, he's able to convince several select mutants to set up habitation, including Iceman: Pool intends to have him take care of global warming while he's at it, leading to Iceman working himself to the bone. Meanwhile, Pool is losing his mind as the nations of the world do nothing but complain: they don't want anyone settling in Antarctica, even if the mutants weren't welcome anywhere else; they don't want Pool taking the mutants they didn't want and building a super-powered army; they especially don't want Pool getting better press than them...I'd really have to think about it, since it wouldn't be a sustainable plotline.

EDIT: Ah, I mis-filled a word balloon yellow and left one of Pool's blank! Ugh, have to fix that later.
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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Well, I had the previous issue, then didn't recall reading it; pretty sure I had this issue too, but yeah. From 1992, Avengers #351, "Retribution" Written by Bob Harras, pencils by Kevin West, inks by Bud LaRosa.

Continuing from the prior issue, Raza of the Starjammers has apparently fatally stabbed the Black Knight, in retaliation for the Knight's slaying of the Kree's Supreme Intelligence, and to get the whereabouts of the son taken from him years ago. Hercules is about to put Raza's head through a wall to avenge his teammate, but Ch'od stands by his teammate and fights his way out with Raza. The Starjammers' leader Corsair has no idea what's happening, but Hepzibah, wanting the Kree's bounty on the Knight's head, clams up.

With the Starjammers' medic Sikowsky and an Inhuman doctor working on him, the Black Knight's condition is updated from "dead" to "mostly okay," partially because the wounds didn't seem like Raza really wanted the Knight dead. (Sure, he stabbed him, but his heart wasn't really in it!) With Binary, the Avengers catch up to Ch'od and Raza; with Thor being dismayed at having to hurt Ch'od, since he was a likable guy. Raza tells Binary about his missing son, but she explains the medallion the Kree gave him wasn't his son's, but a Kree memory implant device. Or, at least that's the story she's going to give the Avengers: it's a lie, but Carol felt Raza wasn't responsible for the suffering he had endured, or the Kree exploiting it. Meanwhile, Hebzibah seems more than willing to sell out and poison the Knight, but doesn't get the chance. As the Starjammers go back into space, Raza knows he'll have to live with the guilt, the hope of finding his son, and the knowledge that Hebzibah may not be a good person...

A couple other subplots show up here: instead of rejoining the Starjammers in space, Carol opts to stay on earth and reintroduce herself to her family. It would be about six years until she would rejoin the Avengers. Crystal is distraught over the Knight's injuries; and while Pietro was nice enough to get medical help for him, he doesn't seem super worried about him. I'm not sure how estranged Crystal and Pietro were at this point, or if Pietro realized Crystal and Dane had been crushing on each other; but over the years Pietro and Dane really start to hate each other. The Vision, still white and emotionless, has a disturbing emotional reaction: rage. Raza warns the Knight that the Kree weren't going to stop coming after him, although I'm not sure it came up much after that, or if Raza ever found his son.
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Monday, July 24, 2017

Better security than Arkham, anyway.

I'm 100% for destigmatizing mental illness, but sometimes in comics (and video games based on comics) you get the hordes of violent lunatics rioting in the asylum. Like today's book! From 1994, the Spectacular Spider-Man #217, featuring "Power and Responsibility, Part 4 of 4: Higher Ground!" Written by Tom DeFalco, art by Sal Buscema; and "The Double, Part Four: The Burial" Written by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Liam Sharp, inks by Robin Riggs.

This was early in the Clone Saga, with the return of the supposed clone Ben Reilly, coming home to a violent and depressed Peter Parker. Forced to team-up to stop a...y'know, I was going to say 'breakout,' but it's more of a behavioral science experiment, courtesy of Judas Traveller. And his staff, or entourage, or whatever. (One of whom, Scrier, would show up in Silver Surfer later, although it may have been retconned that they didn't have powers, and the whole thing was a scam.) Here, Traveller uses one of his staff, Chakra, to backdate a letter casting doubt on whether or not he was the real Judas Traveller. Y'know, there's being mysterious, and there's being a dick.

Carnage also appears, primarily to be jobbed out; as Peter and Ben team up to whomp on him. Which is fine, Carnage also sucks. (Also this issue: tips for the Maximum Carnage video game!) In the end, Ben is apparently killed in an explosion, but of course escapes unseen: judging from what appears to be a lettering correction, it may have been left open to kill him back off if needed, but there's an ad with his Scarlet Spider costume here so the storyline continued...

This was also a flipbook, with shiny covers on both sides! That were in pretty good shape when I bought it out of the quarter bin, but are curling up like a Frito now. Maybe it's too hot in here...The back-up is a retcon of Amazing Spider-Man #149 from Ben's POV, including waking up in the smokestack that Peter abandoned his corpse in. I know I'd have some hurt feelings after that one. Even the art is somewhat of a retroactive change, as Sharp draws both Spidey's in a modern style, rather than the 70's less-webby and smaller-eyed costumes. (I'm not sure what happened to his red back-spider in the scan above, though.)

Duhr, I thought I had mentioned Ravencroft Asylum Institute before around here: it was a fairly recent addition to the Spidey mythos, and was basically his version of Arkham. It strikes me that Spidey had multiple villains that were pretty obviously insane, but rarely seemed to be treated for it, and were usually thrown in prison if caught. Then again, I think several of his villains have also feigned insanity and escaped, possibly more than once!

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Grudgingly, I admit this would be darker than our current timeline. But only barely.

There are some issues of What If? that are awesome, even inspirational; and then the vast majority read as Worst Case Scenario: the Series. Today's book may not be the earliest example, but may be the epitome: from 1982, What If? #32, "What If...the Avengers had Become the Pawns of Korvac?" Story and layouts by Mark Gruenwald, finished art by Greg LaRocque, with plot input by Peter Sanderson and a small platoon of inkers!

Even though I'm not sure I had read an Avengers comic at that point, I remember seeing the old Bullpen Bulletins page mentioning the conclusion to the Korvac Saga, which ran a then-unprecedented ten (!) issues, from Avengers #167 to #177. And there's a pretty good recap of it here, before things go off the rails.

If Korvac's beloved, Carina, had not shown doubt in him at a crucial moment, Korvac would've gone on to not only destroy the Avengers, but the entire universe! It's kind of a downer. Early in his campaign to universal armageddon, Korvac boxes out Zeus and Odin from avenging their sons, and goes on to close access to the universe from other that Jesus on the bottom there? (No, it's Aquarian. Probably? Damn, that earth is in trouble.)

If you've read a lot of What If? you may remember the brief coda in What If? #43, where after being kicked out of the universe by Korvac, Phoenix, Dr. Strange, and the Silver Surfer return to find it destroyed! Also a downer, but that issue has a Sienkiewicz cover for Conan, trapped in the 20th century! Conan stabs Captain America, but that story's way more uplifting than these two, trust me.

Y'know, I'm always surprised when I see Gruenwald's name for art credits; I always forget he did pencils (or at least layouts) for the first Hawkeye limited. And looking at that last page again, I'm almost positive I read this off of the spinner rack when I was 11!
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

If you wanted the new Dr. Who to look like this, I don't feel bad for you, son.

This was a quarter bin find I had never seen before, and feels like a throwback or a fill-in issue--it's right in the middle of the Detroit League era, with an old artist, and a different writer, although one that had another book on the racks the same month. From 1985, Justice League of America #240, "The Future Ain't What it Used to Be!" Written by Kurt Busiek, pencils by Mike Sekowsky, inks by Tom Mandrake. (Dr. Anomaly co-created by Richard Howell.)

The letters column notes this was a fill-in, written by Busiek in 1984; but you can see a few themes that he would use later (about ten years later!) in Astro City. Two co-workers at S.T.A.R. Labs, who may or may not be becoming a couple, have spotted a mysterious human figure on the "chronal scanner." The scientist is able to see the figure's history; and while the phrase "the fantastic fingers of Fred!" sounds like something a lab geek would say, they shouldn't.

The figure is Dr. Phineas Quayle, from 1932. Deep in the Great Depression, he helps out as best he can, but wonders what a physicist can do to solve it. The expression at the time was "prosperity is just around the corner," and the doctor figures he could invent a time machine, go forward to figure out what solved the Depression, and bring the answer back. (Google "what solved the Depression," and you get the answer World War II; I shudder to think how he would've brought that back.) Building a "telechron," he travels forward to the sixties, and isn't that impressed with a dead president, counter-culture, and super-heroes. Bah! Individualism!

Quayle decides to return to 1932 and try to stop that future from happening, but his machine only functions one-way. Using "modern" technology, he's able to create time weapons, but laments being unable to go back: he also looks into the near-future, and likes that even less. With no other choice now, he decides to get down to fixing the problem...super-heroes. Actually, it could've been anything: video games, women drivers, TV dinners. He would've picked something, blamed it, and fought it to the best of his ability. Of course, he also sees himself as "the only right-thinking American left in this era," which strikes me as troubling: if he was so smart, how come he couldn't fix 1932? Jerk. Calling himself Dr. Anomaly, he decides to start at the top, with Superman himself, and a weapon he can't defend against...since it hadn't been invented yet!

Anomaly uses the teleporter technology from the future's JLA satellite to trap Supes, and quickly follows up with Batman, Aquaman, and Hawkman. The S.T.A.R. scientists realize Anomaly couldn't have wiped out Superman, since he was still in the news regularly, and wonder if they were looking at an alternate timeline. Nope, just impatient: while Anomaly fights Wonder Woman, the Atom, Flash, and Green Lantern; Superman manages to free himself, destroying Anomaly's lab as well. Trapped, he jumps into the timestream, but with no set destination is stuck--until the chronal scanner gives him an out! Freed in 1985, he decides to plan more in his attempts to save the world; but he never appeared again, so maybe he decided eh, good enough. And the scientists head out to dinner, to talk about their own futures...

With the focus on civilians, and a character appearing in different eras, Dr. Anomaly might've been better served as an Astro City villain. Too bad he didn't see that future, eh?
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017


What Deadpool did in his mercenary past, and how much of that he was actually responsible for (and not brainwashed or misled or such) is open to interpretation with each writer. Currently, I think the answer is Pool did horrible crimes while mind-controlled, so while he feels guilty he's also ultimately not responsible for a lot of it. Unless that's changed since I post this.
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Probably not tournament legal, but oh well.

Remember Attacktix? Apparently I didn't as well as all that, since I thought it was "Attackclix" and related to Heroclix. Close! This was Hasbro's attempt to get in on dial-based gaming, with a bit more of an emphasis the action figure end of things: dice weren't even needed, the figures all had either spring-loaded projectiles, or spring-powered swinging weapons. Various series were released in 2005-06 for Star Wars, Transformers, and Marvel. I know I had at least a few of those; but they are probably mostly found at yard sales these days.

Huh, there's an Attacktix wikia. From what I can piece together, maybe only two series of Marvel Attacktix were released, but that doesn't mean they weren't made. Case in point: an "unproduced" Nightcrawler Attacktix!

I think the dials were usually black; the eBay auction mentioned the silver of it specifically. There is a little wheel/clicking mechanism in the dial, which spins to show a number: usually a red or white 10, with a 9 and an 11 in there as well. I'm not sure what that gets you in terms of the game, or if that's even a playable dial or a placeholder. The waist turns, but if it's spring-loaded, it's only barely. Can't get a good swing out of it, but that's all right, since I thought the paint was very nice for something that might've "fallen off the back of a truck," as it were. (There is a stray black line on his right cheek.) Or had some of these been made, then the line was cancelled, and they were just left in storage?

Still, this is virtually tailor-made for me: an "unproduced" collectible that doesn't break the bank. Now, if I could just squeeze some more room into my Nightcrawler display...

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Monday, July 17, 2017

This mini-series spans over thirty years, maybe I'll get the missing issue before that long.

I got the first three issues for less than the price of one at the comic show, then got #5 off the rack at the comic shop, ordered #6, and maybe they can get #4 on back order: from this year, Batman '66 Meets Wonder Woman '77 #1-6, written by Jeff Parker and Marc Andreyko, pencils by David Hahn, inks by Karl Kesel.

The fun thing about the comics based on the classic shows, is that their voice nails that tone perfectly, but is able to do things the shows would never have had the budget for. This story starts in World War II, when a young Bruce Wayne meets Wonder Woman, as she stops R'as al Ghul and some Nazis from stealing a pair of antique books that might contain the secret location of Paradise Island.

There is a little more darkness in this one than you might think, since Batman has retired by 1977, after the deaths of Alfred and the Joker; while Robin has become Nightwing and Batgirl is the new Commissioner Gordon! (A younger, hotter, and far more competent one!) Still, it's not a spoiler to say you can't keep Batman down. And the conclusion hints at a future installment, that I'd love to see.

And I actually did get #4 just yesterday! Now, where did I put these...
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Friday, July 14, 2017

Art Adams, Kevin Maguire, and Ty Templeton on this one? Sold!

And Bizarro? Whoa, I'm already sold, quit selling! From 1990, Superboy #8, "But Am It Art?" Written by John Moore, pencils by Jim Mooney, inks by Art Adams. Cover by Maguire and Templeton.

This series was based on the syndicated TV show that ran four seasons from 1988 to 1992, which was run late night Saturdays in my neck of the woods, so I rarely saw it. Still, even if this wasn't the traditional continuity, with a college-age Clark; it's still a pretty recognizable Superboy. Even though Lana Lang is in this one too, Clark spends a lot of the issue with his co-worker at the Herald, photographer Janelle Cisernos. Unlike Clark, she's not devoted to journalism, just an art student working on the side; but she's observant and does a good job. Good enough to notice Clark's kinda buff, not good enough to notice he's Superboy! Still, when Bizarro returns from space, Janelle gets the idea to use him as part of her art installation. With mixed results: Bizarro is mostly harmless, and kept docile with cartoons, but apt to get riled if they're interrupted.

There is a subplot about Bizarro's instability, and how he might explode; but white Kryptonite stabilized him to the point where he only blows up a little. Bizarro heads out into space to make his own art, while Janelle is a surprise success. "Am over."

Looking at the cover gallery, I feel like I read more of this series than I saw the TV show; and I watch a lotta TV! But I don't think I watched Lois & Clark or even Smallville regularly. Love Supergirl, though.
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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Today, a book I never thought I'd get to read; and...enh. From 1988, Batgirl Special #1, "The Last Batgirl Story" Written by Barbara Randall, pencils by Barry Kitson, inks by Bruce D. Patterson.

This issue is probably best known for being the last Batgirl story before the Killing Joke, but since I'd missed some stories prior I was confused: having nearly been killed by the paid assassin Comorant, Batgirl is more or less retired, until someone is murdered in her library and Comorant's hat is left there. Meanwhile, Barbara's old friend Marcy visits and confronts her over her secret identity; and in Gotham, a new vigilante, Slash, is murdering rapists. In broad daylight, on the streets; but wouldn't that be the best time? No bats then...

I was positive Slash was going to turn out to be Marcy, because that's how that usually works. I think this was Marcy's first appearance, so it's a best friend we've never seen before, although the context seems to imply Marcy made the first Batgirl costume, back when it was just going to be for Barbara's Halloween. Slash had never appeared before; but Comorant had shot Batgirl in Detective Comics #491. Yet Batgirl made more than a few appearances after that, but apparently getting shot affected her more than she let on--or editorial decided to phase her out here.

There's a scene of Barbara using a computer to hack some records, a precursor of her becoming Oracle; but there's also a scene of her checking out all her Batgirl gear...just so she can quit in the end. With the house ad for Killing Joke on the next page. Still, she does take care of her final case; and I don't think Slash, Comorant, or Marcy have appeared since. Oh, and this might have the last mention of her time in Congress; Barbara doesn't say if her re-election bid failed or if she didn't run again.

Overall, the whole issue feels like it's all over the place: you want Batgirl to have agency and rise up to the occasion, but she has to end up retired in the end. She has to be prepared but caught by surprise, brave yet terrified, competent but outmatched. I didn't love this one, but worth a look if it turns up. Oh, and Mike Mignola cover! Pretty iconic there.
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Wednesday, July 12, 2017


Why are we using the Hippolyta figure from the Wonder Woman movie for a banking planet? Because she was handy and I did not have any jokes lined up for Wonder Woman's mom. Also, thanks to watching Starcrash on Mystery Science Theater 3000 about 90 times, I had the idea of an amazon planet stuck in my head. Nine times out of ten there's no reason for it, other than needing a situation for the manly astronauts to teach women how to love; a cliche Starcrash actually dodged.

Banking planets are somewhat more rare in sci-fi: I was thinking of Aargau, from Star Wars #48. Post-Empire Strikes Back, Princess Leia is trying to get funding for some X-wings, Darth Vader is trying to block it; but there's a shell game going on on both sides.
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