Monday, April 30, 2018

I had a brief window where there wasn't a lot of figures on the racks for me and before I paid my taxes, where I was if not flush with cash, I had a bit to spread around. And a bit of it went to Kickstarter. I chipped in just a bit to Rifftrax's 2018 Kickstarter, for the shorts: I'll go see the live shows in the theater. I was thinking I had backed Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett's Section Zero about the same time, but that might have been a bit ago. I have a signed one coming for that, so yay! But I did also just recently back Ron Randall's Trekker: Chapeltown as well.

Randall had been the artist for The Barren Earth, a long running back-up feature in Warlord, before eventually becoming the artist for Warlord itself! Aw, man: checking his name on the blog, he inked a few issues of the Keith Giffen Doom Patrol too. It was mostly on the strength of Barren Earth that I decided to throw in for Trekker, but I knew I had read it before at least in passing in Dark Horse Presents. Then, at a recent toy show, a local seller had a quarter bin with some, so I got Trekker #1-5 (from 1987-88) and the Trekker Color Special from 1989. I'm hoping to hit that box again at the next comic show, since I missed #6, but luckily enough Ron Randall is going to be a guest at the next Lilac City Comicon! (And Mike Grell, which'll be neat!)

And for Trekker itself? A fun little book! Solidly pulpy sci-fi. Mercy St. Clair is a bounty hunter, a Trekker; with the prerequisite tragic past and mildly surly attitude. (But not so tough as to seem indestructible or so mean as to be unlikable.) It's serialized over on Randall's site, give it a look!
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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Supergirl, language!

There's probably a Kryptonian alphabet guide somewhere, but let's just assume she's cursing her cousin out; in today's book! From 1981, Superman #365, "When Kryptonians Clash!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Frank Chiaramonte.

Clark Kent is on vacation, but there's no time off for Superman, as a string of "crises and catastrophes!" has kept Superman going around the clock. Still, even though he was beat, Supes was going to keep a promise to meet up with his cousin Supergirl in New York. Good thing too, since he finds her unconscious and covered in green splotches: the unmistakable signs of Virus-X!

Sorry, I mean the Virus-X from Krypton.

It may have been referred to as Kryptonian leprosy when Superman had it; but since he had it before, he couldn't be infected again and knew how to treat it: with white Kryptonite, which kills plant life!

Leaving Supergirl under an automated treatment, Supes consults his super-computer before dozing off, but is then interrupted by a volcano in Chile. Later, waking up in the Fortress, Supergirl isn't miffed her cousin was gone: she knew what his schedule was like. But she notices his computer still on, with a readout that said Superman was only working at 99.91% efficiency...something I'm not sure I could say I ever have in my life, but that isn't good enough for a Superman!

Supergirl trails Superman for the rest of the day, helping out when she can, or checking his work. Superman launches a rocket full of nuclear waste away from earth, that Supergirl thinks is going to fly into a comet, but it had enough navigation to detour around it. Returning to earth, Superman was going to go to an unveiling for the Superman Museum, but gets diverted by a forest fire; so Supergirl shows in his place--then smashes a giant S-logo!

An alien reports to his boss that his "meta-beam" has worked better on Supergirl than he could've hoped; while Superman wonders if he made a mistake in his diagnosis of Virus X. Supergirl starts a fight, leading Supes back to the Fortress, then zaps him with the "micro-wave beamer," a fancy name for the shrink ray! It's the one they had used to visit Kandor, not as good as Brainiac's shrink ray, but Supergirl had taken the safeties off and was going to shrink him to the size of a sub-atomic particle! Now Atom-sized, Superman stays ahead of the ray and lures her into his Interplanetary Zoo, and gets the "Tridyst Beast from the planet Epsolon" to paralyze Supergirl. Then, Superman does what he realizes he should have from the start: done a little more testing on her condition. The ray Supergirl had been hit with was designed to drive her crazy via "dream-deprivation," but the alien that zapped her comes to confess, then is blown up by remote control! Superman has a pretty good idea on this one, and the "Revenge" in the next issue box is a clue as well.

Also this ish: "Where, oh Where has Superboy Gone?" Which we previously saw, reprinted in Superboy #51! And the Thing page up there we've seen before too, from 1981, Marvel Two-In-One #82, "The Fatal Effects of Virus X!" Written by Tom Defalco, pencils by Ron Wilson, inks by Chic Stone.

(EDIT: Oops, doubled up today! So, have a good weekend!)
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Honestly, the Eye of Truth sounds like the least fun treasure ever.

There's an old Evan Dorkin Milk & Cheese strip where he turns the phrase, "The truth hurts--especially on the business end of a two-by-four!" Travis Morgan would doubtless agree, after today's book: from 1979, Warlord #26, "The Challenge" Written and penciled by Mike Grell, inks by Vince Colletta.

Deimos--on maybe his second return here--is taking in new henchman Chakal, by tearing his wounded arm off! Meanwhile, Travis is on a little quest with the roguish Ashir, currently the "second-greatest thief in all of Skartaris!" Ashir's figuring this next job will put him over the top, hitting a temple for the Eye of Truth. He already has a medallion that's supposed to contain the secret of the temple, and while he doesn't know what that is yet, eh, he'll figure it out.

Ashir is a bit too brash, strolling into harm's way against a dragon guard, but Travis saves him. Inside the temple, at first the jewel appears to have been stolen, but a chatty parrot seems to give them a hint: the medallion seems to be designed to break into pieces, that fit in key-like slots. Travis puts the first one in place, and an apparition of his wife Tara materializes to accuse him of having blood on his hands! Shaken, Travis lets Ashir take the next one, and a brutal vision appears: Ashir had been a prince, but had refused to accept the crown. Next, Travis has to relive the death of his son Joshua (really just a clone, created by Deimos) and then Ashir gets another stark accusation of shirking his responsibilities. (Both Travis and Ashir can see the other's apparitions, and while I don't think they had known each other long, it has to be uncomfortable to watch your new friend just get torn up.)

There's a final piece, and Travis isn't looking forward to it, but does it anyway: this time, his friends Mariah and Machiste join Tara in shoveling on the guilt. Afterwards, having completed the trials, a sphere of light appears: the Eye of Truth may be a metaphorical treasure rather than a literal one, and I for one would be pissed as hell by this point. Ashir accepts that he may have to settle for being the second-best thief, but maybe a first-rate prince; while Travis wishes he could start all over at the beginning...and the parrot offers it to him! His heart's desire, in the Eye of Truth! Morgan enters it, and disappears, just as Chakal shows up for him--with a new cyborg arm from his boss!

Meanwhile, Travis Morgan appears to have been turned into a prehistoric caveman...if I recall correctly, he would relive some of his past lives the next issue, including at least a couple of familiar historical names. I have the Showcase reprint of it, but don't have a copy to blog. Maybe someday--actually, definitely someday! Keeping with blogging an issue or two of Warlord a year, I'm scheduling this for eight months from when I'm writing this, which seems optimistic as hell right now. (I didn't watch it, but the Mayweather/McGregor fight was tonight, if anyone remembers that.) Currently, we've got Warlord posts scheduled to 2024, hope to see you then!
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Wednesday, April 25, 2018


Ugh, I messed up the time on this one! Well, that's okay; I didn't have any commentary set for it either...and I was working on the next chapter last night, so had best get cracking! Swear I was a month ahead at some point...

Oh, but in real Marvel continuity, Moon Knight does know Nightcrawler! Even if they aren't shown together in any of the scans I did for that issue.
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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

I thought there was a McFarlane influence there, which would be fitting.

It took a while, but Batman: Mask of the Phantasm has gotten some of the respect it should've had since 1993. It's at least no longer entirely surprising to call it the best Batman movie; although the Dark Knight has given it some competition since. But it never got a sequel--except this one, I guess. From 1996, The Batman and Robin Adventures Annual #1, "Shadow of the Phantasm" Written by Paul Dini; pencils by Ty Templeton, Dev Madan, Mike Parobeck, and Brandon Kruse; inks by Terry Austin, Rick Burchett, and Ty Templeton.

An opening flashback reminds us of the end of Mask, where Andrea Bennett and the Joker disappear in an explosion at the Joker's hideout at the abandoned World's Fair. With the Joker dazed and at her mercy, Andrea hesitates as she remembers Bruce's words: "What will vengeance solve?" A secondary explosion gives the Joker the chance to escape in the sewers, but Andrea ends her mission of revenge, and leaves Gotham forever. For three years.

Andrea has returned, since she knew someone was trying to kill Bruce Wayne, but he's not particularly open to taking protection or even advice from his ex. She smoke bombs Bruce and escapes, but then tries to catch up with his and Alfred's car outside? But this "Andrea" is really Kitsune, a Japanese assassin who used a holographic projecting crystal to disguise herself and get close to her victims. The grinning, chatty Kitsune helps herself to the champagne in Bruce's limo, and mentions in passing her boss would be happy to see him, "not that it takes much to make him crack a smile." The real Andrea returns to save Bruce, smashing into the limo in her full Phantasm costume.

Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce explains how he had tried to find Andrea after Mask, even going to crooked politician Arthur Reeves for info. He had been gassed by the Joker but had recovered, and wasn't especially keen on seeing Andrea again. Since he had betrayed her father to the mob, she doesn't feel bad about that. She had spent the last few years working as Phantasm, or as "his contact," but when she was offered the contract on Bruce she had to return to help. They don't have much time together, before Kitsune and some goons attack the mansion; but after Bruce takes a dive out a window he realizes they were after Andrea, killing him was just a bonus. Taking care of Alfred, Batman explains he's figured it out.

Although it's hinted the Joker could be behind this, it's a red herring: Andrea finds herself face-to-face with Arthur Reeves, who's face is not looking great. An "allergic reaction" to the Joker's venom had left him with his own permanent grin, which kind of wrecked his chances for public office. He put the contract on Bruce to lure out Andrea, which worked like a charm. Maybe he should've sprung for a hideout instead of just using his apartment, though, since Batman smashes in pretty quickly. Kitsune gives him a bit of trouble using her crystal as a flash, then Arthur unmasks and nearly kills him with Phantasm's scythe. Andrea lures Arthur into charging at the Phantasm, and he gets the mask and cape as he charges over the balcony and falls to his death.

Commissioner Gordon shows up for the wrap-up, and as Kitsune is taken away, expresses a bit of grief for Reeves. His involvement with the mob hadn't been public knowledge, so as far as Gordon knew, this had been a tragic attempt from a disfigured man for revenge against the Phantasm. Batman lets it lie, telling Gordon he never knew the person behind the mask; as Andrea leaves Gotham, and Bruce, again.

This is nice, but feels like an early draft for a sequel: it needs a bit more to live up to the original. Kitsune doesn't really do much for me either, but Reeves going further off the rails feels about right. The Phantasm was originally based at least in part on the Reaper from Batman: Year Two, which opened with Alan Davis for the first issue before Todd McFarlane took over, and I thought some of the art this issue showed more of his touches than usual for the animated-style books. Sadly, this was the last work from Mike Parobeck, who died due to complications from diabetes.
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Monday, April 23, 2018

Can't make a silk purse out of that sow's ear. Or hundred square yards of fabric.

See, 'cause his cape is so big...Look, I don't think they had much to work with. From 1993, Stupid #1, story and art by Hilary Barta, script by Doug Rice.

Barta and Rice had done multiple spoofs for Marvel's What The--?!, and I only just realized Rice also did the 80's Manhunter book with John Ostrander. Today, we've got Stupid--a parody book from Image, although there is a next issue blurb promising full-color 3-D, this may have been the only issue!

Possibly because the early Image characters were on the verge of parody anyway, they may have been tough to make fun of. 26 pages of "Spewn," that's a tough one. Oddly, I haven't read that much Spawn (the Batman crossovers are the only ones I recall paying cash money for) but I want to say there was another one somewhere, where one of the key jokes was the green countdown timer that showed up when he used his powers? I guess Spawn is maybe a year or so away from 300 issues, so maybe there's more material to work with now? All I can think of was ToyFare making fun of how every McFarlane toy had mismatched boots...
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Friday, April 20, 2018

A fill-in wouldn't have been unexpected here, but the plot rolls on.

When we last saw Count Abyss, we saw his origin (and Jim Starlin's last issue on the book!) as Warlock and the Infinity Watch prepared to invade his dimension and rescue the kidnapped Lady Maya. This issue, they meet some new allies, then catch a ton of beatdown, in today's book: from 1994, Warlock and the Infinity Watch #32, "Heart and Soul" Written by Richard Ashford, pencils by Patrick Olliffe, inks by Keith Williams.

Warlock and the Watch run into Darklore and Meer'lyn, whom Warlock had met in Warlock Chronicles #1, where I believe Darklore had made an attempt to swipe the Soul Gem. Which, perhaps not coincidentally, was what Abyss wanted now: although virtually omnipotent from selling his soul to the Zalkor, years without it left him empty and craving one. In the best comic book or horror movie tradition, the Watch split into pairs to attack Abyss's castle and demons, and Abyss wipes the floor with each and every one of them. Warlock is the last to go, as the Soul Gem seemingly cuts the juice on Adam, all the better to jump ship to Abyss...but the issue ends with a quote from John Paul Jones: "I have not yet begun to fight."

I didn't recognize Ashford's name, but a quick search indicated he had been an assistant editor for Marvel: he may have been pulled in in a hurry to serve as interim writer, and does a good enough job keeping the plot going. We'll get to the next issue later, which featured new writer John Arcudi, who would stay on the book until it concluded with #42, with the exception of #36.
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Pros: Indestructible, still has five claws, shiny. Cons: Can no longer get items from top shelf.

This issue had a shiny, foil-embossed cover; and luckily enough it answers a question from the last issue of this series we looked at. From 1993, Guardians of the Galaxy #39, "Skeletal Remains" Written by Michael Gallagher, pencils by Keith West, inks by Steve Montano.

The Guardians both don't have much to do this issue, but are also barely recognizable: Vance Astro was Major Victory and no longer in his spacesuit, Charlie-27 seems less huge and squat and recently had his hair burned off, Talon was still here instead of Yondu or Martinex, etc. Instead, as promised on the cover, most of this issue was the fight between Wolverine's psycho descendant Rancor and Dr. Doom, who had survived to the 31st century by taking up residence in Wolverine's adamantium skeleton! Rancor might not have a chance, except she has the traditional healing factor, and one of Wolverine's claws that she used as an indestructible shiv. She stabs Doom in the eye, then gets him with a power cable, but stupidly doesn't finish the job by shoving the claw into his brain. Doom recovers and tears Rancor up, but then has to flee when the Guardians' Yellowjacket gets too close to his good eye. (This was the former villain Rita Demara, in a new costume to boot.)

(EDIT: I swear I've seen "Spock-ears" used as an insult in another Marvel book, probably against Namor; but I'm not sure why it would be considered an insult. Spock is cool!)

Rita takes Rancor up to the Guardians' ship for medical treatment, but too late remembers about the healing factor. (Would she have known that? I don't know if that was common knowledge, especially when she left the 20th century...) Rancor steals a shuttle and escapes, rescuing her mutant crew to boot; but the Guardians still get to count it as a win, since they've just helped re-establish formal government on earth. The President rattles off several of the terrible events that had happened since the Badoon invasion and occupation; as well as her intention to restore "order, stability and literacy to what remains of these United States!" Those would be worthy goals for any president...Giving the government a little more legitimacy, Major Victory fulfills a promise from early in this series, turning Captain America's shield over to the new president. I kinda feel like Cap would rather he still use it to fight the good fight, rather than leave it to collect dust in the Oval Office; but maybe the shield would serve as a reminder to do the right thing.

Also, that last Guardians issue we checked out had someone on the moon bossing around the Inhumans, that looked like it was probably Loki. Yep! He looks pretty damn crazy here, but he had been working for centuries on breeding Inhumans to help him destroy Thor and Asgard. Which seems like a surprisingly long game for Loki, but okay.
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Wednesday, April 18, 2018


Man, Black Cat is terrible...terrible fun to write, I mean. One or two chapters left on this plot, maybe.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Who knew the future of warfare would be so polite?

Although I haven't watched it regularly in over twenty years, I still dwell on an old Saturday Night Live bit from around the first Gulf War. During a round-table style news discussion show, an army general type ponders how America wants to deploy troops but doesn't want to lose any but invulnerable super-soldiers aren't available. This was some years before drones became more prevalent; which have brought up even more problems; most of which aren't addressed in today's book: from 1992, Farewell to Weapons, story and art by Katsuhiro Otomo, translation by Robert Spaulding, colors by Steve Oliff.

This was a translated reprint of a short story from 1981, a mere year before Otomo's Akira began. Set after a World War IV, a Western squad patrols a city abandoned by Eastern troops; and the power-armored troops run across an automated tank, which the troops call a "Gonk" after the noise it makes. The ensuing battle does not go well for the troops, but when the last soldier's armor is destroyed and he's disarmed, the Gonk has a surprise for him...

I hadn't seen this comic before, although I do have Memories somewhere: it was another Otomo reprint from Epic Comics. There's a pretty good article here that mentions the anime adaptation of Farewell to Arms, Short Peace.

Haven't watched a ton of anime in recent years, but I'll keep an eye out.
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Monday, April 16, 2018

Time for another episode of Jonah Hex, Frontier Detective!

It's not quite a locked-room mystery, but it's close. From 2011, Jonah Hex #68, "Murder in Cottonwood" Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, art by Rafa Garres.

When a murdered body is found in the town of Cottonwood, the townfolk decide if they don't want the town to get a bad reputation, maybe they oughta hang somebody for it. Even if no one saw the killing...maybe a stranger might foot the bill. Unluckily for them, the stranger in question is, of course, Jonah Hex. Who is remarkably nonchalant about being awakened by armed yokels.

Hex calmly asks if they had a sheriff that maybe should be taking care of that sort of thing; and is told they had never needed one before. Hex asks if they would pay for the killer, and when he's offered five hundred dollars, promptly shoots one of the yokels...hey, five hundred bucks is five hundred bucks. The answer may be a bit of a cheat, but makes sense. And five hundred bucks in 1841 would be worth about fourteen grand today: as sometimes happens, I wonder how the hell Hex blew through all that cash!
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