Thursday, August 31, 2017

80-Page Thursdays: Justice League Quarterly #9!

So the last several 80-pagers have been a bit disappointing, but I have a good feeling about today's: several brand name creators and the return of an obscure villain, in 1992's Justice League Quarterly #9, featuring stories by Mark Waid, Kevin Dooley, Paul Kupperberg, and Elliot S! Maggin; and art by Rod Whigham, Andy Smith, Dusty Abel, Dave Cockrum, and more.

The lead story, "Frenzy," features the return of mad scientist Ira Quimby, a.k.a. I.Q. We've checked out multiple comics with him over the years...yet I'm not sure we've ever bothered to scan him. Which is fine: he usually looks like a somewhat manic stringbean in goggles and jodhpurs, but today he looks like a South American man in an environmental suit. And the suit is for good reason: as the Justice League raids his secret lab in Central America, they are exposed to his newest invention, a toxin that after an hour, turns 1 in 6 people into an uncontrollable homicidal maniac! The team grates on each other as the clock ticks, and not just the usual instigators like Guy or Wally. Waid may cheat just a smidge in the end, but there's also a clever reversal.

Also this issue: a Crimson Fox story, that's about as good as any of her other stories; yet another Power Girl story where she's written as cartoonishly angry; and a Booster Gold story where he recognizes a young girl who would go on to basically save the 21st century with the power of 'capitalism unleashed.' Urg...there's also some leering at an underage girl in that one, and Booster may have destroyed his own timeline, but Dave Cockrum art!

Still, so much better than the last couple of these...and probably better than the next couple we'll get to sometime.
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Wednesday, August 30, 2017


I finished the Netflix/Man-Thing BAF a week or two back, and my favorite of the lot is still Jessica Jones. Possibly because Krysten Ritter was great in Defenders: I wasn't much into the comic version, but her Jessica Jones was a foulmouthed delight.

Sadly, the girls didn't make it back to the "creepy newsstand," since after the summer's heat, I have to re-attach most of the magazines to it! Or I might re-purpose it into something else, but that might take a while.
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Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Is it weird to have to come up with villains for Dracula?

Sure, there was Blade, and Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing; but they were heroes: ofttimes Dracula faced off against evil, perhaps not as great as his, but evil nonetheless. And today's issue throws a disembodied brain in for good measure: from 1974, Tomb of Dracula #20, "The Coming of Doctor Sun" Written by Marv Wolfman, pencils by Gene Colan, inks by Tom Palmer.

High in the Transylvanian Alps, Dracula is on the ropes here: starved for blood and being chased by Frank and Rachel in a helicopter and taking potshots at the vampire with wooden bullets. I'm not sure who's flying said copter, since the weather conditions are bad enough that Dracula can't turn into mist or a bat and fight the wind. Still, he finds shelter in a cave filled with treasure, and the bodies of two treasure hunters; but is disappointed since at least one of the bodies had been poisoned, and Drac can't even drink its blood.

There's a brief interlude for a flashback for Rachel Van Helsing: when she was still a child, Dracula had killed her family, intent on stopping the vampire hunter family line. Quincy Harker had saved Rachel, and then raised her. Meanwhile, in Ireland, "vampire Brand," meets his master, Doctor Sun; while the doctor's men capture Dracula and chain him up with garlic-wrapped chains. Sun had rescued one of Dracula's former lackeys, Clifton Graves, after an explosion on a yacht, and gave him an opportunity for revenge. Which is cut short when Frank and Rachel show up: they're forced to fight Sun's goons, while Graves fights Dracula, and Rachel accidentally shoots Graves in the back with a crossbow! The fight is then cut short, as Frank, Rachel, and Dracula are immobilized by Dr. Sun...who so far, seems like a brain on a TV screen. I didn't scan his appearance in Nova #25, but I was more used to Sun as a brain in a robot casing; I don't think he started out like that, though. Sun wants to duel Dracula for the title, "the throne of the lordship of vampires!" From this issue, I'm not sure he has any motive, other than that having an army of vampires at your command would admittedly be pretty cool...

The treasure cave corpses seem somewhat disconnected from the main plot line here; and it's slightly unclear that Dr. Sun appears in two places at the same time, by tele-conferencing, apparently. Rachel's story could've used a little more space, but she always makes me sad; since she was killed in X-Men Annual #6, which I read years before I ever saw her in Tomb of Dracula.
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Monday, August 28, 2017

How there aren't toys for everyone involved here, seems like an injustice.

I always think I should have more Rom comics than I do; but while I read it occasionally as a kid, the only issues I remember owning were #25 and the first two annuals. So, since I just picked up a spare, let's check out 1983's Rom Annual #2, "To Save a Spaceknight" Written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Ian Akin and Brian Garvey, Spaceknight Squadron created by Richard Konkle, with a Bill Sienkiewicz cover.

This was set before the first issue of the series, some two hundred years ago, as Rom gives chase to the Dire Wraith forces driven from Galador. While many of the sorcerous shape-shifters scatter, Rom hounds their command ship all the way to Wraithworld, and then proceeds to kick the crap out of most of the planet. Between his rage and his Neutralizer, Rom's on a pretty good tear to banish all the Dire Wraiths, but gets hit with a spell that seemingly terrifies him...

After Rom had been missing for a bit, Galador's Prime Director sets the Spaceknight Squadron out to find their missing comrade. They're a hearty bunch, although the distribution of Spaceknight powers seems to be a bit of a crapshoot: Rom got a seemingly inexhaustible death-ray, while the Squadron's Unam gets invisibility. A bit of a knock on invisibility, but in a war against shapechanging wizard monsters, it's a power that doesn't get the skulls cracked. (Technically, Rom's Neutralizer only banished the Wraiths to Limbo; but it still seems like a step up from the average Spaceknight's kit. I don't think any others had one...) Still, in the end it's Unam who is brave enough to face the mesmerized Rom, who had been hypnotized by the Wraiths to see them everywhere. Later, Rom realizes by driving the Wraiths from their homeworld, he may have spread their menace across the galaxy, and resolves to hunt them down...

This year's Hasbro SDCC Revolution exclusive had a Rom figure and a Dire Wraith, but they were 3.75, maybe four inches. I keep hoping they'll get around to a six-inch scale one someday; I might even be tempted if they managed to get out any other Spaceknights for him to team-up with. Also, I don't know if this was intentional, or if I'm just seeing it since I caught Rifftrax Live The Five Doctors last week, but the Prime Director really looks like a British character actor forced into a terrible costume...Moreover, I appreciate Sal Buscema more all the time.
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Friday, August 25, 2017

Remember when being Batman and Robin was fun? It was a fifteen-minute window, about twelve years ago...

Twelve years ago their time, of course. This is nowhere near the first example of this, or probably even the best example; but here we go anyway: from 1998, Detective Comics #725, "At the End of the Day" Written by Chuck Dixon, pencils by William Rosado, inks by Tom Palmer.

This had "Aftershock" on the cover, so it was just after the "Catyclysm," or Bat-Quake storyline; and was ramping up to the big one, "No Man's Land." The devastated Gotham City is in pretty bad shape, and here we see Batman spraying rioters with a turpentine and guano mixture, while Nightwing reminisces about the proverbial good ol' days with him and Bats beating up thugs in an oversized bowling alley. Still, the prospects for Gotham look pretty bleak: criminals still on the loose from the prison collapsing, thousands of citizens leaving daily, and several major corporations opting not to rebuild in town.

Meanwhile, Dick had Bludhaven to watch over, and was considering taking a day job as a cop there, which Batman has reservations regarding. Still, he admits that Dick is better than him, in the sense that his Nightwing identity, and Robin before that, were "an extension of who you are," as opposed to Batman, who was pretty much just Batman. In the end, though, as some criminals try to rob a National Guard truck of weapons, Batman points out that old days or new, they're still busting heads, so there's that. Which seems like Bats trying to put a positive spin on things, either for Dick's benefit or his own.

I think that still exists in the current continuity; the idea that briefly, when Dick was Robin, that Batman and Robin had fun. It didn't last, but hey, at least they had some. I think Jason and Tim's Robin terms were grimdark the whole way...
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Thursday, August 24, 2017

None of those look like Brando...

Today's comic had "Infinite Crisis Crossover" right on the cover; which is a stronger warning label than Mr. Yuk, but it was fifty cents so I bought it anyway. So, it's on me, then. From 2006, Action Comics #836, "Superman, This is Your Life, part two" Written by Joe Kelly, art by Dan Jurgens, Kevin Conrad, Dick Giordano, Ed Benes, Ian Churchill, Phil Jimenez, Tom Denerick, Renato Guedes, Lee Bermejo, and Doug Mahnke.

This issue recaps Superman's continuity alterations, from the earliest versions to Man of Steel up to the more recent Birthright; with narration by an S-shield caption box. I thought the narrator was going to be Superboy-Prime; but it was actually the Earth-2, pre-Crisis Superman. E-2 Supes tells it straight for a while, then inserts himself into the narrative, how he would have done it differently: keeping Batman from distancing himself, stopping Lex Luthor for good with Bats, and not letting Doomsday kill him. Yeah, seems pretty easy to Monday morning quarterback that.

After that one, E-2 Superman takes a harder line: when Dr. Light rapes Sue Dibny, he gives the JLA a third option instead of jail or mind-wiping, banishing Light to the Phantom Zone. Later, Wonder Woman and the League confront him on it, but Supes has his own team ready to defend his decisions, including members of the Elite! Right now he's willing to do anything if he thinks it will save his Lois, but hasn't gone too far...yet. Meanwhile, something happens to Jimmy Olsen, as he seems to fall through different incarnations of himself.

I honestly can't tell from this issue if it "actually happened," or if it was just Old Man Superman's wishful thinking, or grouchy crabbing. Still, it's pretty obvious he's breaking bad here, but will probably recant in the next chapter or something; or regular Supes will show him the error of his ways. The next issue was "One Year Later" with Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns, which sounds halfway decent...
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Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Today, as is often the case for these strips, we swipe--er, pay homage--to a couple of bits from Star Trek. First, the Warlock/Magus switches are a callback to the Original Series episode "The Alternative Factor." It's not the best episode. Somewhat more fondly remembered for hardcore fans, inexplicably, are the dolphins! Even though they're never seen and rarely mentioned. Star Trek: the Next Generation Technical Manual first brought it up, describing a dolphin tank on the Enterprise-D; which was later made canon in "The Perfect Mate." (A much better episode, and the title doesn't refer to said dolphins...) Why exactly there's a dolphin tank onboard is somewhat open to interpretation: some feel there must be a logical, practical reason, and the dolphins may even be part of the crew. I just assumed the ship had everything, like a really big mall...

Also, "grimacing" probably doesn't mean what Pool thinks it does...
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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"Punisher: Armor Wars" might've sold more copies, but would've been a spoiler...

Our title today's a bit of a spoiler, so if you were planning on reading this one from 1990, sorry! Punisher: the Prize, written by Chris Henderson, art by Mike Harris.

This was another of several prestige format Punisher books, on the tailend of his 80's heyday. On the trail of a mysterious arms auction, Frank goes undercover as a mercenary, to work with a pretty young reporter and a former Iron Man supporting character. (Security chief Vincent Martinelli, a deep cut, but nice use of continuity.) The weapon up for bids turns out to be an old Iron Man suit. Really old, a gray one: I wouldn't have thought there were that many of those to lose. There was still at least one floating around in Iron Man #300...

You don't see this very often anymore, but this was from a time when writers at least pretended that Frank might someday work past his loss and find his way to a normal life and wasn't completely dead inside. Looking back, that may have been a pretty brief time...Out of all those prestige format books Marvel did with the Punisher, offhand the only one I remember buying new was Punisher: G-Force, which was from 1992. That heyday lasted longer than I may have thought!

I know some storyline is coming up with Frank in the War Machine armor, which might be a good thing: it feels like his book may have had its moments over the last couple of years, but has overall lost some traction. Maybe a spell in the suit will do him some good.
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Monday, August 21, 2017

Something happens today, right? Don't tell me...

Today's the 2017 total eclipse of the sun, if you live in the United States. Certain parts of the states, I should say: it's not a complete eclipse in my neck of the woods, but it'll be something.

Knocked this one out quicker than usual--and it shows, sorry!--but I haven't had some of those DC Universe Classics figures out for a while. I still have to make a pinhole viewer for myself; slapped one together for my son the other day. Have fun, but be careful, and if you go full Eclipso I don't want to hear it...
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Friday, August 18, 2017

So, to Daredevil, wrestling professionally is just as bad as murder.

Where did he get his law degree again? Well, maybe he's punchy after today's comic! From 1983, Daredevil #200, "Redemption" Written by Denny O'Neil, pencils by William Johnson, inks by Danny Bulanadi (who has inked a ton of comics we've looked at here!) and a cover by John Byrne and Terry Austin.

Bullseye is New York, for his job as the Kingpin's assassin; after having been patched back together with adamantium in Japan. (I'm not sure how much adamantium: I always thought he had the full skeleton like Wolverine, but per the GCD it might've just been his spine.) The Kingpin's willing to give him the position, if he can finish off Daredevil; or he's blowing smoke up Bullseye's ass and figures DD would take out that loose cannon. Conveniently, Bullseye and DD currently share a psychic link; which seems to give them a rudimentary knowledge of where the other is. Matt Murdock returns from Japan, with a broken arm from the previous issues, but is still intent on stopping Bullseye. After a brief visit from Black Widow, and the traditional bar fight, Daredevil tracks Bullseye down to a condemned arena; where Bullseye's been holed up and practicing. Still, although he can't see the posters still up there, Matt realizes he's been there before.

As a young child, Matt visited the arena to see his dad "Battlin' Jack Murdock" fight; but instead finds him...wrestling. Oh, the shame of it all! The ignominy! No wonder Matt wears a mask, he's ashamed to show his face! Seriously, Jack is doing good, honest work to support himself and his son; yet cries and acts like he had to shoot Old Yeller. Anyway, despite fighting one-handed, Daredevil is pretty much able to walk all over Bullseye, except for a slight reversal when he pulls a gun. Since DD had refrained from killing him before, like he wasn't worth it, Bullseye intends to return the favor; except by going on with his murders and letting DD know how he failed to stop him. This gives DD the strength to rally; but the memory of his crying, wrestling dad reminds him to stay true to himself. And Bullseye would go on with his murders, yet somehow this is a win for Daredevil. Hmm.

I want to say I saw this on the spinner racks back in the day, and was confused why the 200th issue wasn't a big, double-sized extravaganza; I think I was conditioned to expect that already.
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Thursday, August 17, 2017

80-Page Thursday: Justice League Quarterly #16!

Previously, it took the combined might of Ty Templeton and Mike Parobeck to get me to like a twelve-page General Glory story; and today we have 80 non-stop pages of him...yikes. From 1994, Justice League Quarterly #16, "Visions of Glory" Written by Paul Kupperberg, art by Vince Giarrano, Rick Stasi, Curt Swan, Khato, Danny Rodriguez, and more.

Guy Gardner makes a brief appearance, visiting General Glory's civilian identity, Joe Jones, in the hospital. As Guy leaves, Joe meets his new roommate, former cop Donovan Wallace, who was paralyzed while saving a child during a shootout. To try and keep Donovan's spirits up--and maybe teach a little something about American perseverance--Joe retells several General Glory comic-book stories, most of which were probably fiction even in-universe; but they can still serve as inspiration. (Double-G had disappeared at the end of WWII, but his comic apparently continued well into the 90's!) We have a 50's style General Glory vs. "Groout, the creature who came from the cracks in the earth!" Then Curt Swan art for a very Silver Age "Moolah Murphy Goes Straight!" followed by a Dark Knight Returns pastiche and a 90's Image-style super-team book.

In the end, Joe remembers what put him in the hospital: after the JLA's last battle against Overmaster, General Glory had said his magic oath backwards and returned to the form of Joe Jones...a 70-year-old man who's heart could no longer take the strain. (GG was a Captain America parody, but also cribbed a little from Captain Marvel; which I always thought was a bridge too far. Pick one!) Joe transfers the mantle to Donovan, giving him the power to be a new vision of Grim-n-Gritty--I mean, General Glory. I'm not sure he was seen again, except per Wikipedia, where he was killed by Vandal Savage's Fourth Reich super-villain team. Which seems unnecessary: if your bad guys are naming themselves after Nazis, you probably don't need to have them kill a parody to establish their badness. This issue was mostly harmless fluff; but that discovery leaves a bad taste.
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017


Hmm. Deadpool debuted in 1991, and Infinity Crusade was 1993, so Pool could have been there! Of course, he wasn't, but someone may remedy that someday. Looking at the crossover issues, it's odd that while mutants appeared in the main series (Rogue, Wolverine, Storm, and even Strong Guy appear on the covers) there weren't any X-title crossovers. Presumably, they had their own things going that year...Aside from a brief cameo on a viewscreen in Infinity Gauntlet, Nightcrawler and the rest of Excalibur don't appear in any of the trilogy.

The "Clowns" issue of Warlock Pool mentions is Strange Tales #181, which has been reprinted a few times. It's a legitimate classic, well worth tracking down. I probably read it sometime in the 90's in Fantasy Masterpieces #11, and maybe had half an idea what was going on.
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