Wednesday, January 31, 2018


It occurs to me that there's no way Amy would've known if DH II had stunk or not...
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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Is it weird a guy so into blades is unshaven, or is that my hang-up?

It's tough coming up with Batman villains: not every one is going to be the Joker or Two-Face...or even in the top twenty there. Sometimes you need a filler for crowd scenes, which is where I first saw today's baddie, but here's his first appearance from 1982, Batman #343, "A Dagger So Deadly..." Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by Gene Colan, inks by Klaus Janson.

Batman has other problems today, like the disappearance of Man-Bat, and that Bruce Wayne and the board of directors of the Wayne Foundation have collectively been hypnotized by Poison Ivy into signing over the foundation's assets! Still, when on patrol he comes across a motorcyclist attacking a truck, with a knife, he meets Dagger, who seems to have elevated the protection racket game. To further sell him, really hype him up, Dagger then takes out the Batmobile--with a knife!

Bats has to ditch the Batmobile in the river since he was worried it would explode and endanger bystanders, but goes back later for the knife to examine it. It's a quality weapon, from a Rennington Steel, and Batman visits the factory to check the sales records and maybe see who bought it. Instead, he meets a bitter David Rennington, who, since blade sales were down, decided to expand into crime and became Dagger! With his knives and on his home turf, he gives Bats a hard time for about five pages, which is probably the best turn-out Dagger's ever going to have. Batman even has a laugh that Dagger "just couldn't cut it!" and I have a feeling he kind of needed the win.

I know the first time I saw Dagger was in the classic--and never reprinted in the U.S?--Batman #400, where I think he's one of the many villains that escape from prison or Arkham, but one that opts to not face Batman again right then!

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Can't say I was a huge fan of either, but here we go:

I thought this was closer to the end, even though that wouldn't have made sense: the second modern series of Ghost Rider, the Dan Ketch version, was cancelled in 1998 with #93. Today's book is from 1995, the same year Bone Thugs N Harmony broke big. Why do I bring that up? Well...

From 1995, Ghost Rider: Crossroads, story by Howard Mackie, script by Ivan Velez Jr, pencils by Cary Nord, inks by Bob McLeod, Al Milgrom, Al Williamson, and Mike Witherby. This was a 44-page one-shot with a die-cut cover for $3.95, featuring Dan Ketch and original G.R. Johnny Blaze against the Scarecrow and Blackheart.

Blackheart kidnaps Dan, then comes for Johnny at a roadhouse diner: he tells Johnny that he had killed Mephisto and taken over hell, and was now looking into expansion. He puts the demon Zarathos back into Johnny, making him Ghost Rider again; while Dan is attacked by the Scarecrow, but seemingly ends up at the long-defunct Quentin Carnival, with the dead Barbara Ketch and Roxanne Blaze! Blackheart tells the powerless Dan that he's in his realm, and has a "deal" to take: if he can escape, he can take one thing with him when he goes. Of course, Blackheart made the same deal with Scarecrow, so it's up for grabs to whoever gets there first.

The "new" Ghost Rider is turned loose in a prison, where Blackheart tries to encourage him to murder an unrepentant killer. Dan has to fight Scarecrow, afraid he would bring something terrible back from hell, but the defeated villain says he only wanted an end to the voices in his head, the fear. Still, Blackheart tells Dan he can take one of the girls; Johnny says he can't help with the decision since he's worried he may already be affected by Zarathos. Dan is forced into the only choice he can make:

Blackheart kicks them both out of his hell, claiming they haven't won anything and there are still two dead girls so nyah. Still, as they leave, Dan seems to change without touching the gas cap on his bike, and makes a new bike out of hellfire like the old one used to! I don't know if he kept doing that, or if that was a one-off. Velez would be the regular title's writer from #70 to the end; this issue may have been part of the transition from Mackie to him.
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Friday, January 26, 2018

Those kids might think you're lame 'cause of that thing in your ear, Kyle.

Although, honestly, I'm deaf as a post, so maybe I shouldn't throw any stones. From 1998, Adventures in the DC Universe #11, "No Exit" Written by Steve Vance, pencils by John Delaney, inks by Ron Boyd.

We've looked at this book a couple times before: it was in the same sort of animated style as Batman: the Animated Series, but predating Justice League, and it featured a version of the team closer to the mainstream comic version of the time, including Kyle Rayner. He starts this issue flying high with Wonder Woman, but after injuring a gunman while taking him down, he sinks into despair. Almost literally! Kyle gets sucked into the completely relatable oppressively gloomy realm of Lord Toxxis!

Still, Kyle sent a power ring replica to get Wonder Woman, who finds his real ring but no sign of GL. Diana calls in a consultant: Jason Blood! Who unfortunately doesn't appear as the Demon here, but he does help Diana enter Toxxis's realm. Bad news: she doesn't have powers there either. Still, she's able to rally Kyle and Toxxis's other prisoners to fight their way out of despair, until Toxxis is forced to let Kyle and Diana go. Jason tells them there will always be some prisoners of Toxxis, since "humanity will always know despair." That's not helping my seasonal affective disorder, man...(I kid, I'm not entirely deaf or completely depressed.)
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Thursday, January 25, 2018

There's a Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode--I think it's Cry Wilderness, but don't hold me to that--no, it's Beast of Hollow Mountain!--where onscreen, a fleeing character trips and falls for the umpteenth time, and the guys complain that the movie's way over it's two-falls-per-character limit. I don't know if that's a hard-and-fast rule, or just a guideline, but it's handy. And for no reason, it reminded me of this comic, which uses the "Marvel misunderstanding" character brawl, to move the plot forward, about a dozen times. Let's watch, shall we? From 1980, Marvel Two-in-One #61, "The Coming of Her!" Writen by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Jerry Bingham, inks by Gene Day.

Off of Pier 17 in the East River, dockworkers pull ashore a mysterious pod. They have also seen enough movies to be terrified when something starts to emerge from it, and split; and the mysterious figure makes a beeline to a loft in Soho, home of Alicia Masters, who is on a late date with the Thing. Said mysterious figure is soon revealed to be Her, and Ben takes her sudden arrival as an attack...and is walloped out of the building.

Her didn't mean him any harm, though; she only wanted Alicia's help in finding her counterpart, Him...better known as Adam Warlock! Not really understanding yet, Alicia goes along with Her; leaving Ben to think she's been kidnapped. Her explains she was the second attempt at a perfect being by the scienists of the Enclave (not named here, I don't think) and she wanted to mate with Him to create a perfect race. Alicia had been among the last on earth to see Him...several years back, before he went to Counter-Earth.

Back at the Baxter Building, Ben uses one of Reed's inventions to try and track Her, but he instead gets some unexpected help: Starhawk, from the Guardians of the Galaxy! They had been preparing to return to their own time, when he sensed Her's power surge and went to investigate, but Ben's scan interfered with his. Her gets her own guest-star too, as Moondragon shows up to check her out. (Her attacks MD, but only with "a sphere of containment.") Moondragon has to break the bad news: Adam Warlock was dead, killed fighting Thanos. (And he would stay dead for a good ten years or so!) Her doesn't think death for someone like Warlock, would be the same; and wants to see the body. Alicia wants to go as well, if she can tell Ben she's all right first.

Still, when Ben and Starhawk come flying in, Her reacts first, and slaps both of them around a bit. Alicia tries to yell to Ben that she's okay as she's taken aboard Moondragon's spaceship; but of course she isn't heard, and Ben can't risk throwing a hunk of concrete at the ship. As the ship leaves, Ben has to jump in the river to rescue Starhawk, but is pretty steamed when he gets out...!

90% of the problems this issue could've been avoided by Her using a door, but she was new. Gruenwald would use Her again, years later, in Quasar...and then she'd be used as a villain about every appearance after that. Also, I had thought Ben and Starhawk had fought each other at least a little as well, but nope. So, one fight avoided!
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Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Nakia and the Build-a-Figure Okoye are both really nice figures; and the Black Panther in this series was nicer than I had expected as well. Am I going to be able to flog out this storyline long enough to get the Black Bolt and Namor figures in here somewhere? I didn't think so, but we'll see!
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Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Ah, stupid completionist work ethic!

I think the word "completionist" has become more for videogamers, who might try to complete every side quest and goal of a game. It used to be for comic book readers that had to have every issue or appearance for their collections. Or blog every damn issue of a not-very-good crossover because they had already blogged most of it. Like today's book! From 1993, Thor #469, "Absolute Power" Written by Ron Marz, pencils by M.C. Wyman, inks by Mike DeCarlo.

Man, it's been seven years since I blogged the end of "Blood and Thunder," the nine-part crossover between Thor, Warlock and the Infinity Watch, and Silver Surfer. (EDIT: Ugh, I had it right in that Surfer link, but it was a thirteen-part crossover, not nine!) Thor may have gone insane: he's not only full of berzerker rage, but there's also an imaginary Valkyrie only he can see. Thor had just thrown down with the Surfer and Warlock; and Pip the Troll had hightailed it back to get the Infinity Watch, who are in no particular hurry to go just on Pip's say-so. At least, until Drax remembers his last meeting with Thor, a brutal fight at the tailend of Infinity Crusade. Drax wants a rematch.

The rest of the Watch doesn't leap straight into the fight, although maybe they should have: Moondragon scans Thor with the Mind Gem, and sees the Valkyrie goading him on. She tries to "exorcise" her from Thor's mind; and does, after a fashion: she now appears in the real world!

The Watch isn't done making things worse, either: Drax coughs up his Power Gem, which Thor takes! Onward to the destruction of Asgard! This isn't my favorite art of the crossover, and Thor looks a bit silly with the gem on his forehead at about the helmet line, but it's not awful. Of course, I picked up the other Thor chapter, so we'll get to that later.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

The dimebag of action figures.

There's a scene towards the end of Dr. Strangelove, when, on board Major Kong's B-52, he gets the bad news that the surface-to-air missile that took out their radio (and thus prevented them from hearing the recall codes...) also damaged their fuel tanks. The navigator projects they wouldn't even have enough to make it to their secondary target. Kong complains he didn't come all that way not to bomb something, and asks what's on their way home...

I haven't ridden a bomb...lately, but I do take a similar attitude to buying figures sometimes: you didn't come all that way not to buy anything, right? Best case, that may mean a clearance figure; worst case, you're getting into the dimebag of action figures: blind bags. Sure it's cheap and maybe it'll hold you over, but you really don't know what you're getting and it's not entirely satisfying. What a grim metaphor...

There are a ton of varieties out there, though. I mentioned the Avengers chibis years back, and since then I've picked up most of the DC ones, another Marvel line, and a Star Trek set. They're currently mounted on my work computer, but I made a little graph as to why blind bags suck with the Trek ones: it took me forever to find Captain Kirk.

And there were transporter variants of the characters as well, so that skews the numbers even worse.

Now, while I enjoy coming away from the store with something, I can also be super, super cheap. A lot of the following were bought on deep, deep clearance. I don't think I'd have many of the Marvel 500 if that wasn't the case; although I know I have the Avengers because they were cake toppers my wife grabbed off of somebody's cake! They're little pre-posed numbers, with a bare minimum of paint apps. Luckily for me, they haven't done a lot, if any, with the X-Men (or the Fantastic Four, for that matter) in the ten series Hasbro has put out so far; so I haven't had to drop cash money looking for a Nightcrawler one.

Based on not much, I feel like DC has a stronger blind-bag presence; although that well could be just ones that appeal to me...and are dirt cheap. I have a pile of DC's Mighty Minis figures. Hmm, like some of the Marvel 500 figures, you can get some of them in a set rather than blind-bagged; and there's even a Darkseid build-a-figure for Justice League Action! Which I didn't know about until I had already bought several bags, so I didn't get him. I like the animated style and figure selection better, but there are also series for Batman v. Superman and Justice League. A tip: these figures are bagged in pieces, so it may be tough to narrow it down without practice, but you can usually feel Superman or Batman's cape if you want to avoid getting a ton of Superman or Batman. You're probably still going to, but maybe you can mitigate that a bit.

The last couple of times I've been to Wal-Mart, the pegs haven't had squat: locally, they're drowning in their own Justice League exclusives, and I already bought the Black Panther figures! But the clearance aisle had marked down Marvel and DC Ooshies blind-bags. They are little squishy pencil topper things, not unlike the smaller Squinkies of a few years back. I threw a few in the cart but came up with an alarming amount of doubles. There are sets of those available as well, but to complete a set of 40 you would need to purchase some 4-packs, some 7-packs, and some blind bags. I will not be completing a set of 40.

There are also these not-quite Kinder Eggs I get, either Star Wars or Avengers, from Finders Keepers. I have a number of the little busts living on top of my DVD player. They aren't bad, and hey, you get chocolate with them! Maybe not the fanciest chocolate, but it's something.

And this is just a few of the options out there: Funko has reams of blind-bag and blind-box choices, and there are always the Lego mini-figures. It could be more effort to return empty-handed from the store than not, but I try to restrain myself. That said, I don't know if I buy enough of these little things, that not buying them would add up to a Hot Toys figure or anything. Plus, I think I prefer a bunch of little hits over the course of a year, rather than one big hit...lot of drug metaphors today, not sure what's up with that.
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Friday, January 19, 2018

"United" should maybe be in quotes there.

Huh, when I picked up the first Secret Six miniseries, I missed an issue; but this time I got all six in one shot: from 2005, Villains United #1-6, written by Gail Simone, pencils by Dale Eaglesham, inks by Wade von Grawbadger and Prentis Rollins.

This was a tie-in leading up to Infinite Crisis, a DC event that I don't recall especially fondly. It also springs off of bits from Identity Crisis, which I remember even less fondly; but the villains are, as the title implies, getting united; to form a unified front against the mind-wiping bastards of the Justice League. One bad guy I didn't recognize signs on, "For Light," as in Dr. Light. Even though you'd think there would be so many problems getting anti-authoritarian types like villains working together, but the Secret Society of Super-Villains is not having a lot of potential members decline membership, until Talia and Dr. Psycho get turned down by Catman. Who was, at that time, a joke. In a recent issue of Green Arrow, he had been dragged off, presumably to his death, by Monsieur Mallah; on the blog we've seen him beat by the Freedom Fighters, Manhunter, and G'nort! Simone rehabilitates the hell out of the character, starting here, and quickly.

Although the Secret Six would go on, I don't think the Secret Society continued long after Infinite Crisis, although the politics of the group's elite is interesting. While Luthor and Talia seem intent on running the venture like a business, with Calculator and Deathstroke as willing, if mercenary, partners; Talia does have to play on Black Adam's sense of nobility, and Dr. Psycho seems like the loose cannon of the lot. No spoilers, but there is a traitor in that group as well, although I'm not sure you could guess without having a pretty good memory of the continuity at that time. There's also a big fight in the last issue, where it looked like the Scarecrow might have been among several blown up, but he's a bit too name to be killed here. Unlike the Hyena, yet another Firestorm villain wasted! (Speaking of, he makes a cameo as well.)

I was glad to get this out of the quarter bin last week, but now I'm not sure if I haven't read it before. Better blog it now before I buy it again...Also, I may have snorted at the appearance of Mr. Terrible.
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Thursday, January 18, 2018

A time capsule in multiple senses! Mostly in that I'm crating it back up...

We had a recent Daredevil post, that tied into an old post from way back; and we're doing the same today with the issue after an old team-up...not quite classic: from 1996, Spider-Man Team-Up #4, "Webs of Time" Written by George Perez, art by Steve Geiger and Chris Ivy, Darick Robertson and Andrew Pepoy, Dan Jurgens and Tom Palmer, and Brandon McKinney and Chris Ivy.

This series was from during the Ben Reilly Spider-Man days, which had the virtue of Marvel trying something new that nobody at all wanted. (I think. Maybe people loved it, I don't think so, but I don't recall.) That would probably be a strike against it; two more would be this month's guest-stars, the Avengers! The virtually unrecognizable, 90's Avengers! Mutated Wasp, extreme Hawkeye, shirtless Thor, teenage Iron Man. (It would be a few years before Marvel would have success with shirtless Thor...) Teen Tony gets a lot of page time, as the Avengers are trying to train him up to adult Tony's level, even though his new armor is far more dangerous than his early suits. Tony also has some records delivered, by "dark condiment." Bwah? Oh, it's Pepper Potts! Who is...aggressively hit on by teen Tony. It's borderline.

The plot's a little confusing, with some time-travel flashbacks, people getting aged, a mysterious pyramid, and another Spider-Man! Ben isn't thrilled at the notion of yet another clone out there, but that's not what this is. It has a couple bits that seem unrelated, like the opening; like it maybe needed another draft to settle down. And the bad guy ties in to both Spidey and the current Iron Man storyline, so read out of that context it might be a bit to puzzle through. (Spoiler after the break, if you're curious!) One big selling point: this issue does feature Black Widow punching Henry Peter Gyrich!

(The villain is Kang the Conqueror's Spider-Man robot from Avengers #11! Reactivated after the most recent final battle with Kang, Timeslide; it had been draining time from its victims, to power up a time machine, for his "master," Iron Man! The older Tony had been a pawn of Kang's, so the robot thought it was helping by grabbing the younger one, but it may also think it really is Spider-Man. After Quicksilver beats down Ben, Gyrich immediately realizes he isn't the Spider-Man they were after, because his costume was different: Gyrich forced the Avengers to go after Spidey, but may have wanted to cover up the robot, so he misled them into thinking Spidey had gone bad.)
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