Thursday, November 30, 2017

Admittedly, it's not a name that rolls off the tongue.

When I found these in the dollar bin, I thought they were just another attempt to cash in on the sword-and-sorcery, barbarian comics of the seventies. Or a clever way to burn off some Conan the Barbarian fill-in issues, by changing some of the names, hair color, etc. Imagine my surprise at finding out this guy could've been Conan!

From 1973, Creatures on the Loose #23, "Where Broods the Demon!" Written by George Effinger, pencils by Val Mayerik, inks by Vince Colletta; Creatures on the Loose #24, "Red Swords, Black Wings!" Written by George Alec Effinger, pencils by Val Mayerik, inks by Vince Colletta; Creatures on the Loose #25, "The Wizard of Lemuria!" Written by George Effinger and Tony Isabella, pencils by Val Mayerik, inks by Vince Colletta; and from 1974, Creatures on the Loose #27, "In the Crypts of Yamath!" Written by Gardner Fox, pencils by Val Mayerick, inks by Vicente Alcazar.

Per the Wikipedia page for Conan comics, Roy Thomas mentions thinking Marvel wouldn't be able to get the rights for Conan, so he was trying to get Lin Carter's character Thongor instead. When they hit a delay with Carter's agent, Thomas went after Conan again, and this time got him. He mentions that he offered more than was approved for Conan, so then the book's first choice of artists, John Buscema, was priced out; and they had to go with a more budget choice: Barry Windsor-Smith! It becomes a "What If" scenario: if Thongor had been published first instead of Conan, would it have been drawn by Buscema? Would Thomas have still written it, and would it have taken off?

That's actually a bit more interesting to think about than these actual comics, really. And I've mentioned before, when looking at some Warlord issues he inked, that I usually didn't have a problem with Vince Colletta, but his issues seem less polished than #27 with Vicente Alcazar inks. (Or maybe Mayerick's art was coming together, but I think the former.) Thongor himself seems fairly Conan-like, although a bit more willing to associate with wizards; and his world had at least some airships that would be reminiscent of John Carter of Mars. His epithets aren't as well-formed as Conan's either; since he calls out to the nineteen gods, the "seven gods of Zangabal!" his sire "Thumitar," and "Gorm!" all in the space of a single issue!

I hadn't seen these comics before, but I had read the title before and after this! Some years back, we looked at Creatures on the Loose #21 with John Carter precursor Gullivar Jones. Thongor would continue until Creatures on the Loose #29, then the title would be taken over by Man-Wolf.
Read more!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


The Badoon are awful lizardy things, worse than the skin-covered Nazi analogs from V or our pal the Gorn from Star Trek; but they did have a largish robot called "The Monster of Badoon!" that they trotted out every so often. I'm almost sure we see one in Silver Surfer #2, where their invisible invasion is thwarted by the Surfer while he pisses and moans about being stuck on earth. Hey, I'm none too keen on it either, but do you hear me complaining? do? Constantly? All right, then.

The Badoon also appear in X-Men Annual #5, although I can't in good conscience recommend a book with a title like "Ou, La La--Badoon!" The Fantastic Four and Arkon guest star as well, but that issue may be best remembered for Nightcrawler trying to explain "Thou shalt not kill" to Wolverine. It's a little preachy and doesn't land and no one cares since the Badoon are mean, horrible monsters. Does that make it OK to wipe them out? When they're invading, maybe...

Read more!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Like having the same fever dream twice.

Maybe more than that, since I think I have another reprint of this one! Originally from 1969's Brave and the Bold #82, today's scans are from Best of the Brave and the Bold #3, but I also had the black-and-white reprint volume Batman: the Frightened City! "The Sleepwalker from the Sea!" Written by Bob Haney, art by Neal Adams. So I know I've read it more than once, and it still barely makes any sense.

To begin, Batman sees a man following a girl on the Gotham waterfront, when the girl leaps into a pickup car, and the man is shot with a speargun by a man in full scuba gear! The car swings back to get something the diver takes off the man, and while Batman is able to get the driver to swerve into a pole, he's then stopped by a super-strong blond man, then shot in the shoulder by the scuba diver. Falling into the ocean, Bats is saved by the blond man, who he thinks was Aquaman, even if he's not sure later. While getting medical attention and reviewing with Commissioner Gordon, Batman retrieves a golden medallion of a kraken from the murdered man...even though we saw it stolen earlier, how did it get there? I've read these first five pages a dozen times now, did I miss something? Well, it's not important, Bruce has a date!

Actually, two dates: Bruce breaks one with redhead Honor, to go out with model Ailsa: he's pretty sold on her, but may be barking up the wrong tree, since she's only interested in Bruce's investment in the waterfront project. She also has another one of those kraken medallions, then pulls a gun on Bruce when confronted, and judo throws him off a balcony! Bruce manages to save himself, then follows Ailsa to her boss, and lover, "millionaire ship fleet owner" Orm Marius. Orm, Orm...who do we know named Orm, besides no one ever? Oh yeah, the Ocean Master! Ailsa had painted a nice portrait of him, in full costume, which Orm has to take a knife to because she apparently didn't grasp the concept of "secret identity." Bruce confronts Orm and Ailsa, and while Orm knows Bruce can't prove squat, he still sics his zombie-like lackey on him: none other than Aquaman! Aquaman takes Bruce back down to the waterfront, to murder him in a giant piledriver. Or "murder" him: Aquaman wasn't really going to kill him, but when Orm sees them Bruce has to throw them both over the side, so Orm thinks they were killed.

This was an early appearance for Ocean Master, so his origin and grudge against Aquaman are recapped; and this was also set during a pretty good storyline in Aquaman as he searched for the missing Mera. It would almost be a side quest; yeah, it's completely irrelevant. Stopping what he thought was a poacher, Aquaman accidentally kills a marine biologist, then Orm tells his brother he's just as bad as he is, which seems to put Aquaman into a fugue state controlled by Orm. Batman doesn't believe that Aquaman would murder anyone, though, and has Aquaman drugged and brainwashed to straighten him back out! But--what--huh? First, Bats doesn't seem to look into the possible murder either way. He also has the aforementioned Honor play Mera in Aquaman's drug trip-slash-vision. Honor then tells Batman, tell Bruce Wayne she's through with him.

He's a little stung by that. While Aquaman is instantly back to normal after this little play, he demands Orm not be harmed when they stop him; Commissioner Gordon, who had been playing the marine biologist, gives his tactical squad orders to shoot to kill, even though I'm still not sure there was any proof Orm had done anything at this point.

The only person successfully shot, or brought in, in this one turns out to be Ailsa, who declines Batman's offer of getting Bruce Wayne to speak on her behalf: while Orm betrayed her, she was alive with him, but willing to pay for her "foolishness." Batman strikes out again! That the Frightened City reprint I mentioned was all Haney/Adams Brave and the Bold stories, and I think they all read like you were expecting to take a drink of lukewarm coffee and instead get a steaming swig of peyote tea. Seriously, I don't think I can make it through the whole thing in one sitting. The Best of the Brave and the Bold reprint has somewhat more vanilla Viking Prince, Golden Gladiator, and Robin Hood stories; all with nice art and slightly less baffling nonsense.

Slightly less. (Originally from 1956's Brave and the Bold #6, "The Battle of the Kites!" Written by Bob Haney, art by Joe Kubert.)
Read more!

Monday, November 27, 2017

There's a Judge Dredd ad on the back of this one, but I think it's coincidence.

Star Trek's Prime Directive prevents the Starfleet crew from interfering with the development of a less-advanced culture, even with good intentions. It also often insures a problem won't be solved before the first commercial break, or in this case, three pages in. From 1995, Star Trek #76, "Prisoners" Written by Kevin J. Ryan, pencils by Rachel Ketchum, inks by Mark Heike.

Set prior to "Where No Man Has Gone Before," Kirk, Spock, and Gary Mitchell beam down to the planet Tendar. And are immediately thrown in jail, even though they had been invited, and the world wanted to join the Federation. The Tendarians had a brutal set of laws, no system for trial or appeal, and kept about 7% of the population permanently incarcerated, mostly to keep the other 93% in line. (A warden describes trials as a "staggering waste of resources," and rehabilitation impossible; so...) The landing party seems be being made an example of; and while the Tendarian ambassador assures Scotty they could beam down more people, as long as they obeyed the laws, Scotty's pretty sure that's crap.

Attempting to break Captain Kirk, the warden has Spock beaten; but he's tougher than he looks, and feigns weakness until they have the opportunity to escape. Beaming up with the warden as a prisoner, Kirk then has the ambassador transported aboard as well, and charged with kidnapping, wrongful imprisonment, etc. He knows they would be sent back home fairly quickly, but it might teach them a lesson; and plans to report to the Federation to have the planet declared off-limits--"Solitary confinement, if you will."

A single-issue story, which doesn't leave a lot of space to explore different aspects: Gary is somewhat underused, mostly just as the foil to Spock, which would usually be McCoy's role. There's also a brief scene with a trustee-prisoner, who seems completely institutionalized and unable to even consider freedom. And while work duties were mentioned, the resource logistics of keeping that many people locked up...well, I don't want to use the phrase "prison-industrial complex," but here we are. I was also thinking of the Iso-cubes from Judge Dredd, but these cells may have actually been nicer. Not by much, but still.
Read more!

Friday, November 24, 2017

I watched Netflix's Punisher over the weekend, and liked it; even though it feels strange that Frank doesn't seem to be at war with criminals at this point. Also, I saw someone complain that he wasn't full-on the PUNISHER yet. In the comics, if you gave the average criminal the choice between cancer or the Punisher, most would choose cancer, since you have a chance fighting it. As we see in today's book! From this year, Foolkiller #4-5, written by Max Bemis, pencils by Dalibor Talajic, inks by Jose Marzan Jr. Cover by Dave Johnson, which I should put on the GCD later!

I thought this series was part of a Deadpool push, along with Deadpool and the Mercs for Money and Solo, but I'm not sure they all came out at the same time. Honestly, it was part of way too many books hitting the racks at the same time, and I might not have noticed it if I hadn't lucked into the first four issues for a buck each. Finding the last one was a bother, though; but my local Comic Book Shop fixed me up there. There's other options these days, of course, but how annoying would it be to have four comics and have to read the conclusion digital? Still, this series was both slept on, and way better than it had to be.

Greg Salinger was the second Foolkiller in regular Marvel continuity, and was in pretty good shape after his stint with Deadpool's Mercs: he had a loving girlfriend, and a good job working for S.H.I.E.L.D. Now a psychotherapist working with super-powered villains to rehabilitate them or extract info from them, he has a bit of a relapse to his murderous vigilante days and starts killing the bad guys he can't make better. You might think S.H.I.E.L.D. would frown upon that, and they might, since Greg wasn't really working for S.H.I.E.L.D! Throw in the return of 90's Foolkiller Kurt Gerhardt and a gratuitous guest spot mental health day with Deadpool, and he's got a lot on his plate.

In the final issue--and I don't know if this was meant to be an ongoing or not; but if not I wish Marvel would just call it a limited series. Easier to go all in if it's only going to be four or five issues...anyway, after a somewhat anticlimactic fight with Gerhardt, Greg faces the man behind the curtain. Or the guy wearing a curtain, the Hood! I'm not even positive he had his titular hood, since he says it was "healing from being #@%$ up pretty much beyond repair," he may just have a curtain over his head. Still, despite having no powers and little staff, the Hood still had one card to play against Greg, and it was a doozy: either work with him as "the ultimate villain-therapist to the stars," or the Hood's snitch will drop Greg's name to the Punisher.

Greg takes a third option, "a taste of my own medicine," and checks himself into Ravencroft Asylum. While he's able to help himself and even others, he worries he still has a reckoning coming...I liked this series more than I would've expected, especially the Deadpool appearance and the Punisher cameo. Well worth flipping through, if you can get that last issue!
Read more!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Wouldn't mind a red Venompool, down the line.

The temptation is, to tell you all not to be thankful for anything, ever, since everything sucks and eventually everyone disappoints. Sure, probably; but every once in a while there are cheap comics and exclusive figures, or the two together! From earlier this year, Deadpool: Back in Black #2-5, written by Cullen Bunn, art by Salva Espin. And from GameStop, the Marvel Legends Deadpool: Back in Black action figure!

I remember seeing this solicited and being mildly disappointed it didn't feature the Marvel Contest of Champions Venompool, who was larger and red...and probably would've required a bit more sculpting and tooling. The BiB is mostly clever reuse, like the symbiote tentacles from Agent Venom, claw hands from the Ben Reilly Spider-Man, and I think an alternate head from Superior Venom. (If you can pick the latter out in the photo linked there. S-V is surprisingly spendy on Amazon as of right now; and it's always interesting how some figures are, and some aren't, even if produced equally with Build-a-Figure parts for a common character. Could be a lot of one-armed Rhinos out there, but I digress.)

This mini-series is set after 1985's Web of Spider-Man #1, a good six years prior to Deadpool's first appearance in New Mutants #98! But it's part of the joke, shared with Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars, that Pool was there for the 80's, and everyone including you the reader either didn't notice, or forgot, or blocked that trauma out. It's a running joke that may trace its roots back to Deadpool Team-Up #1! But this does tie back into Deadpool's Secret Secret Wars, as Pool reunites with the Klyntar symbiote that would later become half of Venom. After being rejected by Spider-Man, the symbiote finds a new and more receptive host in Deadpool; although it could be that Pool doesn't realize how much the symbiote is influencing him.

The whole thing fits in-continuity, although there is a sequence with Spider-Man, where he's knocked out as to not see either Pool or the symbiote. And he's not the only guest-star, since there's appearances by Power Pack, the Black Cat, Kraven the Hunter, and Obnoxio the Clown! Particularly in the second issue, there are also a ton of editorial footnotes referencing books that didn't happen, some of which sound pretty good.

It's not an essential figure or an essential mini-series, but both are completely fun, and if you can, grab 'em.
Read more!

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


The late Mr. Hardy's will scheme probably didn't take the Punisher shooting the place up into account, but I suppose the best plans leave a bit of room for the unexpected. In my head, Felicia is just shy of Tony Stark (on a good day) rich; except she mostly steals for the thrill, and hasn't really put any time or effort into the massive amount of money laundering she'd have to do to really start spending it. Conversely, Jessica Jones is consistently just shy of destitute, but almost always has enough change for a cheap bottle of something. That's because her friends, neighbors, etc. often arrange for her to conveniently "find" enough cash in her couch cushions, so she has just enough sauce to keep from being really mean...
Read more!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sometimes, the numbers just do not come out.

I don't think we have any scans of him, but I have a soft-spot for lower tier Fantastic Four baddie the Mad Thinker. He had a fun turnout in New Warriors #3, and in Amazing Spider-Man #242 (although the Awesome Android on the cover wasn't the Awesome Android!) but I like his almost no-show in today's book: from 1977, Fantastic Four #183, "Battleground: the Baxter Building!" Written by Bill Mantlo, pencils by Sal Buscema, inks by Joe Sinnott. (Marvel had used that exact same title just four years prior, in FF #130!)

The Mad Thinker is in a cheerful mood today, since his plan is running like clockwork: Reed Richards (currently powerless), the Thing, and the Human Torch were all trapped in the Negative Zone. The Invisible Woman should be dead by now, since she was just thrown out a window; and the Thinker's Android should be securing the building so the Thinker can help himself to Reed's inventions. But while the Thinker's numbers may crunch out, there are some more variables: Sue is saved by the Impossible Man, who then refuses to join her, Thundra, and Tigra in storming the Baxter Building, since it wasn't fun. The Brute--the monstrous Reed Richards of Counter-Earth, currently evil--had some regret over throwing Sue out the window, but not so much that he didn't turn the building's defenses on them.

Meanwhile, in the Negative Zone, Annihilus explains to the guys how he discovered the Mad Thinker's android (from FF #71, which features a cover similar to this month's!) floating in the Zone, and turned it into his "loyal Scavenger!" for Fantastic Four Annual #6. After Annihilus was defeated in FF #141, the "loyal" Scavenger helped himself to his boss's Cosmic Control Rod, and digivolved into a third form...a big beardy monster, for some reason. ("He came to life. Good for him.") There is actually a somewhat tragic element to Annihilus, even though he's a horrible monster: he's terrified of death, and most everything he does is in search of immortality. He had taken the android because he wanted a servant that wouldn't betray him, so of course it stole his immortality. Reed works out a deal, though: give them a ride back to the Negative Zone portal, and he would return the Rod once they take it away from the android.

So, by the time the Thinker leisurely strolls into Reed's lab...the numbers have distinctly not worked out as expected. There's at least two people there he didn't plan for at all, and I'd guess the odds of his android growing a beard weren't taken into account. The Thinker straight ghosts on that one. Meanwhile, the android is defeated when the Rod is yanked out of it, and the Brute--now "good" since his concussion had worn off--takes the Rod through the Negative Zone for Annihilus, to redeem himself. But remember, there's no shame in bailing on a plan that's not working; sometimes there's just no sense in riding it out. This was a pretty good issue, but the next one--with a two-thirds different creative team--is even better.

Read more!

Monday, November 20, 2017

This is like the sixth time, I really should know whodunit by now.

We blogged Detective Comics #627 a couple years back: that issue featured four different versions of Batman's first appearance in "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate." Since then, I knew it had been retold again, in Detective Comics #27, but I had forgotten it was retold in part in today's book! From 1986, Secret Origins #6, written by Roy Thomas, pencils and colors by Marshall Rogers, inks by Terry Austin.

In chronological order, this would've probably been the third retelling of "Chemical Syndicate," taking nine pages of the twenty-three here for the Golden Age Batman's origin. (At least that I know of; although I'd guess there would be at least a few panels devoted to it in Untold Legend of the Batman.) I think Thomas keeps a lot of later influences out: Bruce Wayne's training appears to be completely domestic, without the foreign combat training that was usually prevalent, and a somewhat surprising focus on acting. Also, no Alfred! Bruce uses a disguise to order a costume made, which I think was pretty traditional for classic DC heroes: the hero would get one at the costume shop or their mom would make it or something. Sewing was for girls, at least until some kid made his own.

At some point we'll probably get around to Detective Comics #27, although offhand I don't recall it being great. That one's 15 pages with Bryan Hitch art, which would usually be something, but still...well, it's around somewhere.
Read more!