Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What could be more Halloween than a costume? Two costumes?

So I picked up today's issue in a pile of old Superman's, including anniversary issue #400 and nuclear-war cautionary tale #408; and it's closer to Silver Age-silliness than either of those. From 1985, Superman #405, "The Mystery of the Super-Batman!" Written by Craig Boldman, pencils by Alex Saviuk, inks by Karl Kesel.

Lead story on Metropolis GBS News tonight: Superman, stopping a museum heist...while wearing a Batman cowl? No explanation why, at least, not that he gives to anyone; except later Clark Kent makes a quick call to Bruce Wayne. With Bruce out, Clark leaves a message with Alfred, that he would explain later. As much as anyone could explain suddenly growing satyr horns.

While Lana Lang's archaeologist dad showed them some new museum acquisitions, Lana blew on "the Syrinx of Arcadia, golden pipes of Pan; which magically caused Clark to grow horns. Because of course: I have to wonder, if Supes hadn't been there, would Lana's dad have grown horns, or was Supes just susceptible to this kind of thing? As Superman, he then tries to get the Syrinx to figure out how to cure himself, and of course it's being stolen. Grabbing a cowl from a Batman display in his Fortress of Solitude--back then he had displays of all his friends, nothing weird about that--the Super-Batman would stop the robbery, but the pipes recovered were a fake. Clark then has to track the pipes down, while making excuses and covering his horns with a hat or helmet at work. (Shades of Bongo's Radioactive Man there!)

It's total fluff, and Supes treats it that way too: by mid-story, he's less concerned with curing himself, then with scaring a criminal type with his masquerade. Which he doesn't, until he takes off the cowl, because the criminals were just confused before...
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Monday, October 30, 2017

I was kind of hoping this would open with normal-sized Ray breaking this guy's jaw.

This is one of a fistful of older, moderately binged-up books I got in Florida: from 1964, the Atom #11, "Trouble at the Ten-Year Club!" Written by Gardner Fox, pencils by Gil Kane, inks by Murphy Anderson.

At a tenth-anniversary meeting with some other Ivy University graduates, Ray Palmer discovers one, a Jack Archer, had gone on to a ten year Master's program of crime. Breaking into a locked room of exhibits, Archer manhandles two guards easily, then sprints away like an Olympian. Later, he's able to hit the Atom twice, before enlarging him with a magnifying glass, and punching him some more! Still, the Atom quickly realizes there is more--or rather less--here than meets the eye.

Also this issue: "Voyage to Beyond!" (Written by Gardner Fox, pencils by Gil Kane, inks by Sid Greene.) On a cruise across the equator, all of the passengers besides Ray seem to disappear for a moment. Then, during a costume "walk the plank" party, Jean Loring walks Ray off the plank for real, leaving him to die in the south Atlantic! Well, this bit of craziness can't be laid on Jean's head this time; she and the other passengers were replaced by extra-dimensional alien invaders, as happened almost constantly in the sixties in the DC Universe. The Atom chases them away by acting like a "gremlin," making noise, dropping chandeliers on them, and so on.

And for a book about a tiny guy, there was a pretty fair-sized Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation...that actually didn't have any circulation numbers. Huh. Well, there was also a "Christmas In Many Lands!" quiz and "What's the Difference Between..." Maybe those are more educational.

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Friday, October 27, 2017

The cover makes it look like She-Hulk guest-stars with a shotgun.

It's like the Human Torch finally found those green-tinted sunglasses! And a Helicarrier explodes right on the cover, so you know what you're getting! From 1994, Fury #1, written by Barry Dutter, pencils by M.C. Wyman, inks by Chris Ivy and Greg Adams, cover by Lou Harrison.

This came out a year or so after the end of the Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. series, and told the secret origin of the secret organization, including the director prior to Fury, Rick Stoner. I had to look that up, since while a previous director had been mentioned, he was never named or seen. Stoner had been Army Intelligence during World War II, and had met Fury, and not been impressed: he was far more by the book. Post-war, after a team-up with a pre-adamantium Logan to recover a prototype of the Guardian armor, Stoner got the nod for the director's spot, and while he did a good job with the initial set-up, he was killed by a mole, Jake Fury, Nick's brother. Still, it's hard to feel a lot of sympathy for Stoner when he didn't even want the former Howling Commandos on his team.

A ton of old issues are referenced here, like Fantastic Four #21, Sgt. Fury #29, and Strange Tales #135; although it might've been nice if they had been credited in the issue besides an acknowledgement section in the end. There are also scenes that are intended to set up the Deltites/LMD's that brought down S.H.I.E.L.D. in Nick Fury vs. S.H.I.E.L.D. and we see Arnim Zola working on some disgusting thing for it.

I'm not sure why he gave it four breasts, but he's the Bio-Fanatic, I guess.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Told today, about sixty people would have to ignore their phones to get down to a roster of six.

Great, so I've written posts for next week, next month, even a couple years out; and still didn't have anything prepared for today! There's some planning. So why not check out today's book on the fly! From 1988, Avengers Annual #17, "Prometheus Mutans!" Written by Walt Simonson, pencils by Mark Bright, inks by Mike and Valerie Gustovich. (And Mary Shelley and Milton in the opening!)

This probably seems hard to believe, nowadays when there's piles of Avengers comics every month and seemingly everybody and their mom has been on the team; but while the West Coast team existed at the time, there were no active Avengers on the main team! As of Avengers #297, there were no active members: Dr. Druid had disappeared, I think Black Knight was paralyzed by the curse of the Ebony Blade, and Thor and She-Hulk quit in response to Druid's mind control. So no one's on duty to hear the call when the High Evolutionary is about to set off the genetics bomb he had been preparing the length of the Evolutionary War crossover! Literally the call, in this case: seemingly restored android Jocasta breaks away from her captors long enough to make a phone call, and having no one there to field it, the computers send out a call to reserve members.

The members that show are a snapshot of Marvel at that time: Steve Rogers as the Captain, in the black costume that would later go to USAgent. The gray Hulk, the recently returned-to-blue Beast in an uncharacteristically full-body X-Factor uniform, the female Yellowjacket, and Hercules and the Falcon. Together, they manage to stop the Evolutionary, although Jocasta sacrifices herself again, and Hercules is evolved beyond godhood, seemingly out of existence. There's a silent panel where Steve, Beast, and Falcon acknowledge their fallen comrade; that also seems like they're thinking "Well, at least it wasn't Thor." (Herc would be back inside of fifty issues or so, but I have no idea how! No, take that back: H.E. and Hercules would appear in Thor #419 a couple years later.)

Also, a good chunk of the issue is a battle between the Atlanteans and Lemurians: they were tricked into it, so the High Evolutionary could lure them into position to sterilize them! (H.E. had done something similar to the Subterraneans in the first chapter of the crossover.) So Attuma may be shooting blanks now. I don't know if that ever came up again, or if was a factor for next year's Atlantis Attacks annuals, which I'll get around to finishing blogging sometime.

Also this issue: the conclusion of the history of the High Evolutionary, written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Tony DeZuniga. There is some dialog dropping on the last panel there! Huh, this is the first issue of the crossover I've blogged, so no guarantees we'll ever get close to looking at all of that one here. Pretty sure I had all of them once...!
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Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Of course the day after I clear a ton of photo folders out of my hard drive, I notice a word balloon in the first panel pointing at the wrong character. Ugh...

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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Deserve proper figures, yes?

I had to go to Wikipedia for a Marvel Universe checklist, since I stopped keeping up with the 3 3/4 inch figures in 2011 or so. (I think Hasbro changed the name of the line to Marvel Legends to line up the branding with the six inch figures, confusing the issue.) I prefer the larger scale, but the character selection has gone deeper with the smaller figures: you could get both of today's featured characters, they have not turned up as Legends yet. Which kills me...from 1993, the Incomplete Death's Head #11, reprinting Death's Head #10, "The Last Iron Contract!" Written by Simon Furman, art by Bryan Hitch.

We actually looked at the previous issue, good grief, eight years ago? I buy these every time I see them in the quarter bin, but they aren't as plentiful as some. (EDIT: Duhr, I bought at least two more issues of IDH while I was on vacation, and I know I have #12.) After a run-in with the Fantastic Four, Death's Head had been "dumped in 2020 by Reed Richards," and although he was from the year 8162 he found he didn't mind a bit: 2020 was not only more crime-ridden, meaning more work for him; but he had ditched his partner/comic relief Spratt. But 2020 means one thing to long-time Marvel fans: Arno Stark, the Iron Man of 2020! I thought he had first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #20 (a dark story from Priest) but no, he first appeared in the Machine Man limited. Everyone loves the cog-sawtooth shoulder and hip pad design, but he's not Tony's kid like you might have guessed. (Nor an illegitimate kid, also a more than valid guess.) Arno is a "first cousin once removed," which sounds like exactly the kind of relative that comes out of the woodwork when rich Uncle Pennybags bites it, which I think is pretty much how he got the armor.

Anyway, Arno is tricked into fighting DH by Chance, a member of the Dicemen, rich guys arranging super fights and betting on them. Chance breaks one of the Dicemen's rules by using the same contestant twice--they didn't want anything to be traced back to them--and once DH and Arno discover they were being watched, is killed by his butler, a secret Dicemen operative, to protect the group. Although his head is ripped off during the fight, Death's Head doesn't hold a grudge against Arno: they're both too mad about being manipulated. In fact, Death's Head even offers some helpful advice. Classy.

This reprint is set after Death's Head was absorbed into Death's Head II, and has a closing scene with the two conversing seemingly in the latter's head. (Written by Dan Abnett, pencils by Simon Coleby, inks by Niel Bushnell and Tim Perkins.) I'm not sure what is going on in the screens, but it looks like a party! Although that looks like Rocket Raccoon in the last panel, behind what appears to be Conan with a clown nose and party hat, I don't know if that's right--this would've been a few years before RR's revival, and he looks too big to be him. I do see the Jester and the Knave from the Crazy Gang, though!

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Monday, October 23, 2017

I can think of two or three examples, maybe not a trope yet.

I swear this used to come up in old DC comics more often: aliens at war, who would decide that the best way to deal with other aliens would be to launch an entire planet at them. If said planet-to-be-launched is inhabited, so much the better! And it's usually earth. I don't know why. Maybe it's just so throwable. That was the plan in Showcase #100, I could've sworn it was part of the plot in Justice League: Starcrossed, but it comes up in today's book! From 1982, Green Lantern #156, "Judas World!" Written by Mike W. Barr, art by "premiere GL artist" Gil Kane!

The aliens this month plan on using earth as the weapon to destroy the other aliens they're fighting, but they've taken a couple of extra steps: first, disguising themselves as earthlings, the better to infiltrate and plant their planet-moving apparatus. OK, makes sense. I'm not sure why they had to rearrange their planet so the continents looked like earth, though. In fact, that attracts Green Lantern, mostly because at this time, the Guardians had told him to patrol the rest of Sector 2814 and leave earth.

Huh, the aliens had Carol Ferris and Pieface lookalikes...for some reason. With the help of one that opposes the plan, Hal is able to gather up the aliens, and force them into a peace conference with their enemies, who were themselves preparing a friendly little number they called "genocide gas." Hal disposes of that and the planet-moving apparatus, then tells the leaders of both worlds maybe they should fight it out with knives and clubs. A very Star Trek response, but it would've been hilarious if they had taken him up on it. Luckily, like many alien wars, it had gone on long enough that they no longer knew what it had been about, and are amenable to peace. Hal tells them he'll be keeping an eye on them, and stop copying earth, okay?

Yeah, I'm sure re-arranging your continents was a big undertaking, but put 'em back.
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You have to reach level 45 to unlock Danny the Street.

I've wanted to make this for a bit: a Doom Patrol arcade game, based on Babb Tarr's cover to Doom Patrol #1!

But while interesting, Tarr's design wasn't symmetrical, so I tried an old logo and the cover of Doom Patrol Archive #2 for the other side. If it had turned up in my local arcade, I'd have played it! "Level 5, Monsieur Mallah and the Brain; Level 6 the Brotherhood of Dada...the hell?"

Meanwhile, I wrote a bunch of posts recently, but they're all for the end of the year. I also picked up about 32 pounds of comics in Florida a couple weeks back--wait, that number isn't accurate. It includes bags and boards, so it was less than that, and now I'm sad. Heavy as all get out to lug home, though. We'll grab something out of the pile for tomorrow!

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Friday, October 20, 2017

Yay, I found the issue I was missing! Now, where the hell are the rest of them...

I have a ton of limited series missing a single issue. I could probably find another example or two over the years, but I don't often fill in the gaps. Today we do! We glanced at the rest last year, but now we've got 2010's Doomwar #2, written by Jonathan Maberry, pencils by Scot Eaton, inks by Andy Lanning and Robert Campanella. We now join Dr. Doom's takeover of Wakanda, already in progress.

Because it's not like Dr. Doom is going to get killed in this thing, current Black Panther Shuri and currently deposed king T'Challa get to go to murdertown on the Desturi high council: I don't think the Desturi were necessarily collaborators with Doom as much as tribal rivals of T'Challa, but going against the crown is frowned open there. Nightcrawler is somewhat dismayed at the carnage, but keeps his game face on to teleport T'Challa to the vibranium vault; yet they are blocked by Doom. In said vault, Doom is holding a gun on T'Challa's mother's head, but in a perfunctory manner: although Storm is defiant, Doom feels like he's seen all of T'Challa's moves and has already won.

As Shuri continues slaughtering her enemies, Nightcrawler questions her a second time: later, he asks if she wants her regime to be only known for bloodletting. Shuri tells him it couldn't be any other way: Wakanda has had to fight like hell for everything it has, like a panther. Doom faces the vault's final lock, which proclaims "Only through purity unencumbered by pretense may you pass." Storm doesn't think Doom's ever getting through that one, and when T'Challa arrives to confront Doom, Doom orders him to open the vault or Storm dies.

Doom gets a chuckle out of T'Challa's refusal, and releases Storm: he's already emptied the vault.

This was prior to Nightcrawler getting killed off, and while I feel like he has more to do here than any of the X-books of the time; I think it was part of a long stretch where his suggestions were usually reasonable but always unheeded. This issue is also probably the exact moment T'Challa and Storm's marriage collapsed; I don't know if Doom ever faced any consequences for that. It might be fun if Doom, as the Insufferable Iron Man or whatever he is now, had to fend off Storm finally looking to complete her vow to kill him.
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Thursday, October 19, 2017

This was almost an 80-Page Thursdays post, and then I realized while I may have picked up a spare copy, I had already bloggged Justice League Quarterly #12. So instead, we've got the one figure I picked up on my vacation: DC Direct's Legion of Super-Heroes Invisible Kid! (For the love of Rao, do not pay that Amazon price! I got him for almost less than what they were asking for shipping!)

He is, ah, not the most dynamic of DC Direct's figures; but that's fitting in a couple ways: their Legion offerings were done as to resemble their 50's-60's stories, and the character was in-story a bit shy and reserved. Lyle Norg, the original Invisible Kid, would be killed by Validus in Superboy #203; but since there have been multiple reboots since then, he might be alive again. Maybe. Depending on when you ask.

My hodgepodge Legion continues to grow, slowly: Brainiac 5, Saturn Girl, Cosmic Boy, and Ultra Boy are all from DC Direct like Invisible Kid. (I also have their version of Timber Wolf, not pictured here.) DC Direct started stronger: the first series of Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad, and Saturn Girl had stands, flight belts, full-size flight ring replicas, and accessories; later series came with squat! Much later would come Starman (from his appearances in JSA) and a more modern Mon-El from the terrible Superman: New Krypton storyline. (Again, Amazon prices, do not, etc.) Timber Wolf and Matter-Eater Lad are loose figures, purchased from eBay, from Mattel's DC Universe Classics Legion set, which also included Invisible Kid--sort of. There's a blank package in there for him; he's invisible, get it? Doesn't do a lot of good if you open the set, but there you go.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017


Adam was originally created by the mad scientists of the Enclave, so I guessed he would take a dim view of that type, once he had all his marbles back. Also, if you give the new Adam Warlock figure the staff and cape from the old one, it really makes the old one look sad. And I think the old one's neck is a little long, so the cape sits better but he looks off without it.

I'm pretty sure usually, when the Magus or the Goddess, or Adam for that matter, are killed, it's a big cosmic explosion and doesn't leave anything as mundane as a corpse. Wait, I guess there was a body the first time Adam died. Hmm.
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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

That should put me off eating those. It totally doesn't.

I mentioned yesterday I was looking for "in-universe" comics: the comic books that would exist inside a fictional comic book universe. After that, I was searching Hostess parody ads: there were a few I remembered, like the Thunderbolts, Preacher, or Radioactive Man. (I found it on Google, but I posted it? Senile old goat...) But there were some I didn't recall or hadn't seen, like ones for Breaking Bad, Watchmen, and Nexus! But I didn't immediately see this one, from the back cover of 1990's What The--?! #7. Story and art by Marc Siry.

There are a couple bits this issue that still crack me up, including one I'm saving until later in the year--not the terrible Christmas carol parodies. Also, the Alpha Flight story is titled "Awful Flight," it should be "Awful Plight!" C'mon, it's right there! Geez! (Written by Marc McLauren, pencils by Donald Hudson, inks by Jeff Albrecht.)

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Back from vacation, so time to shape up and eat right, the Ben Grimm way!

Well, maybe. From 2000, Marvels Comics: Fantastic Four #1, written by Karl Kesel, art by Paul Smith, Carlos Pacheco, Tom Grummett, Joe Jusko; and above, Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel.

We saw the Spider-Man version years ago: this was from the "Marvels Comics" event, six issues set as what the comics would be like, within the Marvel Universe. (I was searching the other day for "comics within comics" and did not get especially fruitful results!) The FF book would, in-story, be licensed and theoretically feature some input from the Four: I imagine Reed gives detailed notes, while the Thing occasionally belches out the answer to a reader's question or something. The X-Men book was ugly anti-mutant propaganda, Spider-Man (and possibly Daredevil, I didn't read that one) were basically horror comics, and Thor imagines the title character as a science hero unrelated to anything mythological. I seem to recall Peter David wrote the Captain America one as if Rick Jones was writing it and Steve Rogers was the artist--a callback to Mark Gruenwald's run, where Cap freelanced on his own comic! It kind of goes off the rails, though.

This is a fun little issue, with really pretty art; and Kesel had more than a couple short bits with the Fantastic Four that showed he might not be a bad choice if and when the team returns. Hint, hint. I did think there was a Hostess parody ad in here somewhere though: it may be cliche, but still some fun. I did find one of those elsewhere; and we will have more FF in the next week or so.
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Friday, October 13, 2017

Hey, it's time for another exciting episode of young Bruce Wayne's hero, the Gray Ghost! (Takes closer look.) Wait a minute, that's not right at all! This is a very different Gray Ghost, from 2010's Jonah Hex #59, "Riders on the Storm" Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, art by Jordi Bernet. Ugh, Doors reference...

There had been more than a few Gray Ghosts in this series, and most of them didn't survive their first run-in with Hex; but it was a mantle taken by Confederates looking for revenge against their former comrades who they felt "betrayed the southland." After a few pages of catch-up and set-up, the scene shifts to a nondescript Western town, where Jonah Hex rides through--and past--a clumsy ambush: he sees the gunmen, but it's not for him. At the local cantina, he gets the story: an outlaw was going to take out his brother, over a woman. Jonah was there for the outlaw's bounty, and offers to throw in with the brother, but one small hitch: the wanted poster said 'alive.'

Although the outlaw is captured with a minimum of shootout, things get complicated immediately thereafter: a dust-storm blows into town, and the Gray Ghost rides in shooting. Multiple Gray Ghosts, in fact, four in matching masks; versus Hex with a tomahawk. The only one the Ghosts manage to kill, besides themselves, is the brother's woman, and that's by accident. The brother then tries to kill Hex, and while his gun jams, Hex had already thrown the tomahawk that would kill him. And the outlaw had escaped, leaving Hex surrounded by bodies, with nothing to show for it.

Although I found the Batman: the Animated Series Gray Ghost on Wikipedia easily, I didn't see any reference to the Confederate version. Just as well. It's a fitting name, but I don't know if I would've used it there, for fear of associating the good version with this one.
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