Tuesday, July 31, 2018

I kinda suspect Nemesis's tightie-whities were added for the American readers.

Still another Quality reprint title: from 1986, Spellbinders #1, featuring stories by Pat Mills and Ken Mennell, and art by Massimo Belardinelli, Kevin O'Neill, Eric Bradbury, and more.

52 pages for a buck and a quarter, which seems like a pretty good deal, but I don't think this had any newsstand distribution so you would've had to have a comic shop around to find it. The first two features reprinted were only a few years old at the time: from 1983, Slaine, "The Beast in the Broch," and from 1984, Nemesis the Warlock, "The Gothic Empire." Neither strip was the first for them, either! Why they started with Slaine's second strip, instead of including his six-page first appearance, I couldn't tell you. Were their earliest appearances reprinted somewhere else, or did they want to hit the ground running? I have no idea.

The Nemesis story guest-stars Ro-Jaws from Ro-Busters and ABC Warriors, serving as Nemesis's valet: woo, shared universe! The last feature is a chapter of "Amadeus Wolf, Stalker of the Supernatural," which I didn't find a lot of information about with a quick search. There was a racehorse named after him though, that once raced another horse named Johnny Alpha, a.k.a. Strontium Dog! Amadeus may have been a retitled feature, though: originally it was "Cursitor Doom" from Smash! Comics. Why the name change? Well, Cursitor.
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Monday, July 30, 2018

The (already checked out) Hodge and the Podge:

1. Huh, I haven't done one of these since two years ago when I went on vacation? Well, I'm on vacation again, and as always the blog will continue to trundle along aimlessly while I'm out. My internet connectivity may be worse than usual this time, but...y'know, I think I'm okay with that. I have a small mountain of stuff to read.

I could've sworn I had more than that. I finished Stephen King's Bazaar of Bad Dreams and Stan Lee's graphic memoir Amazing Fantastic Incredible, and I have a stack of those Marvel digests and a couple of the DC 100-pagers waiting as well. I don't necessarily need to plow through all of it, but now would seem the time.

2. I tweeted these, but didn't put them up here yet:

So this was my most recent arts-n-crafts type project: 3D-printed Mystery Science Theater 3000 Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot from Shapeways! Like many of my little projects, it was fun, but also reached a point where I just wanted it to be done. I had never purchased 3D-printed items before, and it was interesting. One thing I noticed: it's not tooled the same way a plastic model might be, so everything doesn't 'click' together the way you think it ought to. It was also somewhat more expensive than I'd like; both the printing and the paint. I was very specific to get the right colors for them! But my painting is probably not going to get much past the point of 'passable.'

I'm sure we'll see them in the backgrounds of something sooner or later; but usually when I do something like this, that just means a real version is coming any minute now. YOU'RE WELCOME.

3. I don't talk movies very often here, but I got Moviepass a while ago, having decided to enjoy that ride as long as I can before they sink like the proverbial stone. The Wife had it for a bit before she got pissed at them for changing their terms midstream, which they have a few times now: you can only see a movie once, and they can implement a "surge pricing" surcharge at certain times. The latter, in my neck of the woods, is grade-A bullcrap. Maybe opening weekend for some movies, but I got dinged three extra bucks for Ant-Man and the Wasp two weeks after it came out, on a Thursday, for a half-empty showing. I was so mad I went back the next day and bought a ticket for Hotel Transylvania 3 and left. Don't test me, Moviepass.

The Youngest and I did like Ant-Man and the Wasp; and I have seen a few more in theater than I usually would have: Hereditary, Hotel Artemis...I kinda hated Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. I might hate that whole series. Every single one, "Ooh, these dinosaurs are majestic, noble creatures," that then go on to kill a bunch of people. The teaser at the end of this one; I felt like everyone responsible for making those things and letting them loose should be up for war crimes, because people are going to die because of their willful negligence and gross incompetence. Errrg. Look, if you cloned an ankylosaurus--okay, they're my favorite--they'd still be fairly dangerous just due to their size, but you'd have proved you could do it, yay science, and you could stop there without creating dozens of man-eating remorseless killing machines and crapping all over the environment. Man, when is Turok: Dinosaur Hunter getting a movie, put me down for one for that...

Anyway, Moviepass is starting to delineate for me what movies I'll expend the least little effort to go see, and which ones I won't until they end up streaming on Netflix or something. Depending on that effort, I may or may not go see the First Purge this afternoon. I'm kinda doubting it, but maybe. (EDIT: Yeah, I went, it was okay. It dodged at least a couple clichés I thought it would hit, and there's a couple good jumpscares, but I don't think you can shoot plastic explosive and blow it up, and I don't think it would make a fireball, either.) Not unlike the Jurassic World movies, I think Purge films raise a lot more questions than they have any intent of answering. If all crime is legal during the Purge, wouldn't corporations just cash in then? Do all their bribes and illegal dumping and trade violations at once? "Hey, you're federally protected from being fired the rest of the year, but tonight? Yeah, you're fired." Maybe I'll hold out for Jurassic Purge, where you can kill all the dinosaurs you want.

4. I still buy the occasional Star Wars Black figure, although I'll often try to hold out for a deal. Which I did here, but I had wanted the landspeeder, not because of the movie though, but because of Star Wars #31! Luke's got his hat and macrobinoculars right there on the splash page; but later in the issue Luke, the droids, and Han and Chewbacca make a guns-blazing escape from Mos Eisley on the landspeeder...somehow. I mean, Threepio's probably not the quickest getting in, then you have to stow Artoo, and Han has to sit on Chewie's lap? It's like having an El Camino and three friends.

I re-read one of the trade reprints I have of the next issue, and although they're still in the 'speeder, Carmine Infantino cheats like crazy with long shots or framing the panel without everyone in it. Still a favorite couple issues of the old Marvel run, though.

5. Some bad news: per Bleeding Cool, Bongo Comics was putting out their last issue of the Simpsons, #245; and SpongeBob Comics was going on indefinite hiatus as of #85. The Simpsons had been running for 25 years, and my son has been reading SpongeBob for a good seven years. Although Bongo had stopped their Futurama comic a while back, this end still seems sudden; I know they had Free Comic Book Day books just this year.

Along with those, the Transformers titles are ending for an end with Unicron; or at least a substantial reboot. I thought B.P.R.D. was wrapping up as well, but not quite yet; yet it still feels like a lot of my pull list is going away. I know there's a few titles still to come that I'm still looking forward to, like the Mystery Science Theater 3000 comic, and Ann Nocenti's the Seeds. But it still feels like a net loss. We'll just have to see if anything new jumps out later.
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Friday, July 27, 2018

We saw X-Men #-1 about seven years back, and we haven't even looked at another one of those since? Well, better late, and so on and so forth. From 1997, Silver Surfer #-1, "Abduction" Written by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Ron Garney, inks by Bob Wiacek.

The -1 issues were for Marvel's Flashback event, featuring stories set before the events of Fantastic Four #1. Today's book was a favorite, although later issues wouldn't live up to the promise. And this opens up with a soul-searing soliloquy from the master of memorable monologues, Stan Lee himself! Just like X-Men #-1 he's here as a narrator, but also a participant, as he tries to warn us: he just now remembers his abduction! Among others--including nurse Henrietta Lee--Stan had been taken by grey-looking aliens. Chatty even if possibly terrified, Stan explains to Henrietta what's happening, then tries to sell the aliens on a mini-series; before they return Stan and the others to earth. All except Henrietta: in her, they had found what they wanted...

Meanwhile, the Silver Surfer still served as herald to Galactus, finding worlds for his master to drain the energy from. As seen a few times in his history, at this point Galactus was still altering the Surfer's mind, to make him a more tractable servant. Or companion: even though he is the master, it's obvious he admires and cares for the Surfer, very much. Still, Galactus sends the Surfer to investigate a mysterious, possibly familiar, energy surge. The Surfer, disturbingly, also seems to almost remember them, as he finds an energy that seems to alter itself to whatever an observer perceived it as. (That phenomenon may seem familiar to Galactus and the Surfer, since we've seen something like that with Galactus himself!) Onboard the "ship," the Surfer finds the greys experimenting on Henrietta: they command him to leave, but his long-buried conscience compels him to save her. The greys mentally strike out, trying to force him to forget them. (Predating Doctor Who's Silence by some years!)

Henrietta is saved, but blinded by the experience. The Surfer's first impulse, is that he would like to see her 'earth,' but he must return to his master. Using his power cosmic to send her home, the Surfer notes the energy disturbance was now completely gone, and seemingly forgets it; as did Stan, until now. Has the memory returned, for a reason...? Next month, the Surfer and Alicia Masters were still trapped in 1947; it would be a good four months before this plotline would return, but I don't recall it living up to this issue.
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Thursday, July 26, 2018

Why no Buscema covers, I have no idea.

I run into a lot of mini-series where I have three issues out of four, but today I've got one out of three: from 1999, Conan: Death Covered in Gold #1, "Golden Shadows" Written by Roy Thomas, art by John Buscema. Cover by Claudio Castellini.

Set perhaps midway between when Conan was a young adventurer and when he became king, the barbarian has come to Khorala, a city in the middle of a gold rush. This has the unfortunate effect of driving the price of drinks up, but Conan is hired by perhaps the most savvy prospector ever, Silus, who had just found a gold vein and wanted to get hammered and enjoy his newfound wealth without getting claimjumped and murdered. His daughter Marni doesn't approve, until she sees Conan work up close.

The mining town is getting crowded with thugs, gamblers, prostitutes and profiteers; including one Conan knows: Jenna, as a caption helpfully reminds us, from Conan the Barbarian #10 in 1971! It had probably been closer to ten years then twenty-eight since they had last met; and a smirking Conan recalls she had tried to get him killed at the time. He had been pretty taken with her, but was more than a little naïve back then; and Jenna was a conniving, petty, backstabber. She still had the heart of gold they had had forged in Shadizar, but it wasn't because she was sentimental.

Although he protests that he was hired to guard, not dig; Conan ends up down in the mines with Silus. He should've focused on the former: first they're attacked by claim jumpers, then by a slug monster! Silus is dragged away by it, and although Conan hacks the monster in half, it still drags the miner away. Later, deeper in the mines, the monster and its horrible larvae seemingly eat Silus's body, then create a dead-eyed, zombie version of him! Meanwhile, Marni accuses Conan of murdering her father, and feeling responsible, he agrees to mine his claim...while the locals note the entire town would come at him for that gold.

This was John Buscema's last Conan story, and I only have this issue now! Working on fixing that.
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Wednesday, July 25, 2018

"My Protégé."

I didn't buy White Tiger for some time, since you had your choice of getting her or Misty Knight to get the chest piece for the Build-A-Figure Rhino. (Which didn't make a lot of sense, and of course I have two torsos now.) Then a good chunk of the idea for this strip hit, so...a good 60% of the idea was the title, which was from Juliana Hatfield's 2000 album, Juliana's Pony: Total System Failure.

That album and Beautiful Creature were released on the same day, with it being closer to her traditional sound and "Juliana's Pony" being a bit heavier.

Then, the week I did this, on Twitter...sigh, oh, Twitter...there were a veritable ton of responses to somebody--I'm not even sure who the guy was, or if he was supposed to be anyone in particular--saying to the effect of, if you're complaining about unpaid internships, you're not going to make it in the industry anyway. What industry, I don't even know; but all morning long my timeline was peppered with responses with the opposing viewpoint of bite me. (I've never lived anywhere or worked in a field that could get away with that nonsense, as evidenced by my lack of interns here.)
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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

I know I read this issue back in the day, but I'm not sure I had a copy myself; and it occurred to me when I bought this that it's now further removed from the date of its publication than it had been from the hokey Silver Age stories this reboot was supposed to leave behind...from 1987, Superman #9, "To Laugh and Die in Metropolis" and "Metropolis 900 MI" Both stories written and penciled by John Byrne, inks by Karl Kesel.

Aside from the cover, this one's probably more remembered for the second story than the main feature with the Joker. It's basically "Lex Luthor's Indecent Proposal," as Lex propositions a young waitress with a million dollars to come to Metropolis with him for a month. Lex isn't really interested in the waitress, and doesn't even stick around for her decision; this is just to be a dick. Which...was that supposed to be Luthor's main character trait, post-reboot? I thought he was more about getting that respect he thought he deserved, not just simple cruelty.

Anyway, in the main story the Joker takes a vacation to Metropolis, figuring tangling with a "muscle-bound clod like Superman is like taking a vacation!" Of course, he's in jail about a minute later. Byrne was still setting the boundaries of Superman's powers here, as he walks away from a nuclear bomb explosion, point blank; and he corrects "a popular misconception" about his x-ray vision. He can't see through lead, sure, but that just makes it stick out like the proverbial sore thumb.

Re-reading this, the Joker's gimmick here, a Superman android with Joker-gas jets, a remote-controlled hand, and internal nuclear self-destruct; seem a little out of character. More up Toyman's alley. In Batman's comics, if the Joker got his hands on a nuke, it would be a much bigger deal than this issue!

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Monday, July 23, 2018

If you had asked me, I wouldn't have said the last two months have really flown by, but today's the end of the 500 and some episode marathon of Doctor Who on Twitch. When it began, I thought I would maybe check it occasionally, just catch some of the high points. Instead, that stream has been on constantly for me, and sometimes I've watched episodes more than once! Some thoughts as it wraps up:

Before this, I had often said that as a result of watching a lot of Doctor Who as a kid, my suspension of disbelief was really strong; like I couldn't see the strings in anything anymore. But did I watch a lot of Who? Aside from a few serials I know I watched as an adult, I know I had seen maybe the first episode as a special, maybe an episode or two of the Third Doctor, then mostly Tom Baker. And then, only Sarah Jane Smith, Leela, and the second Romana seemed familiar. The next two I maybe saw a couple times back then, if at all; although I know I saw at least a couple with Ace, and those would've been much later. I'm wondering if the PBS station ran the Baker episodes more, and I saw those more than once.

I knew the show had originally been aired Saturdays, a half-hour episode at a time; and I can't imagine watching it like that! I could be misremembering, but I seem to recall watching it in larger chunks, or at least daily episodes. Of course, this marathon would be even bigger servings; and would plow through a season of the show in a few days! Which is how I like to watch it, although I worry I'm not appreciating the work that went into it enough. The cast and crew put years into these silly things, and I watch them over an afternoon. Still, the fact they're watched now is neat, although the missing episodes always irk me. The irony of a show about a time-traveler losing its own history...

The pics here are from the interstitial meme segments Twitch ran between episodes, which meant if you watched a serial straight through you saw them four or five times! And they grew on you, particularly with the chat. Also, it was fun when an episode a bit was taken from would come on, and "he would say the thing!" I believe there were two Tom Baker memes, because his tenure on the show was so long: the second one, which includes him in a silly voice saying "I wouldn't even say no to a salami sandwich!" was the best. I've had more than one since then.

I mentioned before, in watching these, a pattern settled pretty quickly: every time a new Doctor or companion was introduced, I don't think I warmed to them right away, and missed the prior ones. Then in turn when that Doctor or companion came to leave, I would be entirely too attached to them by that point, and resent the new ones...That pattern continued until Tegan: not a favorite. It really didn't seem like she wanted to be on the Tardis, so why was she there? Conversely, I couldn't think of why Peri wanted to be there--she seemed to take a lot of crap from her Doctor, along with the usual running and terror--but I loved her. Hated her departure: she was apparently lobotomized, taken over by an alien slugman, then gunned down by Brian Blessed! That is retconned a few episodes later, in the most halfassed manner possible; basically, "She's OK, folks!" and never seen again. (That was towards the end of the Sixth Doctor, which I thought was far stronger than its reputation indicated, and quite liked Colin Baker's portrayal. But I know there were behind-the-scenes problems, that I don't think were on him.)

Sarah Jane's departure was a tough one: over at Siskoid's Blog of Geekery, in his Who reviews, for Sarah's first episode, 'The Time Warrior,' he refers to her as "the Kitty Pryde of Whodom!" Which is a great line, and staggeringly accurate: for a large number of fans, myself included, she's the first one we saw, the one we remember, the one we compare all the others to. Man, Elizabeth Sladen was the best. After Twitch ran the Fourth Doctor's final episode, perhaps to cheer people back up, they ran the 1981 pilot for K-9 and Company, featuring Sarah and her new K-9 versus a coven of witches. The show wasn't picked up for series, but apparently the next episode was going to be against more witches?...was that a problem then? (And I know I've said, but Siskoid's has been a great source of info during this. That said, I do disagree with him on the K-9 and Company theme, it's awesome. Every companion should do an episode of that before leaving for good...)

Later, companion Adric was written out during "Earthshock." Up to that point, per common consensus he had been somewhat annoying, prone to betrayals or bad ideas, and not particularly well-acted or written. So of course he's given a death scene that is just devastating. It goes a long way towards redeeming the character; maybe too far: you feel bad for not having appreciated him when he was there. Honestly, despite having a terrible costume and some bad writing, I didn't think Adric was anywhere near as awful as his rep led me to believe: he was a kid, prone to dumbness, like a lot of kids, which just makes his death more tragic. Attempting to stop a spaceship from crashing into earth, a Cyberman destroys the console before he can finish, and his last words are, "Now I'll never know if I was right." Still, because the ship had been cast back in time, the crash becomes the event that killed the dinosaurs; which makes me wonder: in Doctor Who continuity, the Silurians were dinosaur-descended bipeds that built a civilization on earth millennia before man evolved, and I wondered if they might not resent the Cybermen for launching a spaceship and a moody teen at them...(Looking it up, the Silurians might have already been in hibernation then, since they did so around the time the moon started orbiting earth!)

Right this second, I'd be hard-pressed to tell you if I watched anything besides Doctor Who the last two months...I even almost caught up to the upcoming season with almost all of Peter Capaldi's Twelfth Doctor. He did 40 episodes over four years, which doesn't seem like enough. The stream didn't run on the weekends, except after a glitch in running the Third Doctor serial "Invasion of the Dinosaurs, they reran the whole thing on a Saturday. I liked it better than the last Jurassic Park movie...

Doctor Who can be incredibly silly: rubber monsters, creeky sets, dodgy effects, so many quarries, plot holes, padded serials where they escape and get captured and escape again, and so forth. And yet. You'd have to ask someone else if it's loved because of that, or in spite of it. For me, it's like seeing the Companions come and go, and remembering your own friends that you were with what seemed like constantly, all the fun and adventures, until one day they were gone, or you were, and looking back at that version of yourself you can barely recognize them. And you wonder how many friends you said goodbye too, or did you pull a Doctor and just ghost instead? I think it's safe to say watching Who can make me a bit melancholy, even though I hate that word.

Ugh, I wish I could get a regeneration. Wearing a bit thin, or rather looking a bit long in the tooth. I would be a terrible Companion, though, since I would make it my mission to absolutely wreck the timeline. Just really get in there and jam it up, good.

Along with a respectable amount of salami, this marathon got me to buy a light-up Tardis for my desk, where it sits next to the Enterprise. Aside from some not-Lego ones, the only other Who figure I have is a K-9 that is six-inch scaled or close. I continue to alternate between being okay with, and kicking myself, for not buying an eleven Doctor set from Hastings before it closed. Still, I think those were five-inch scale, and would seem tiny with Marvel Legends. But would I ever find it dirt cheap again...? Arrgh.

One of the few snags in Twitch's marathon: there were a few holes caused by the estate of Dalek creator Terry Nation, so there weren't any Dalek episodes not written by him. Which meant they had to skip "The Five Doctors," and there's barely a Dalek in that one! Luckily Rifftrax did that one last year. Friday (I think) Twitch started ads for their next marathon: Knight Rider. I...I appreciate the effort, but I think I'm good, thanks.

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Friday, July 20, 2018

Having "Smash" across his chest may have a different connotation nowadays...

We blogged the second appearance of Flag-Smasher some years back, and the character had a lot going for him: his own terrorist organization, ULTIMATUM; thematically perfect costuming and accessories--black and white, like his anti-nationalist viewpoint; and a mace in case that was too subtle. But he would soon hit some setbacks: ULTIMATUM had secretly been sponsored, and largely controlled, by the Red Skull. He and his faceless goons would get forgettable beatings, like faceless goons, in books like Marc Spector: Moon Knight and Ghost Rider. And his message was too often muddied or outright dropped by the wayside, because his violent pursuit of a unified world might not have been real thought out anyway. All of which pales next to his redesign today! From 1999, Captain America '99, "Full Court Press" Written by Joe Casey, pencils by Pablo Raimondi, inks by Walden Wong.

Two cub reporters for the Daily Bugle are put on a story, starting with a suspect's arraignment for a break-in and murder at the United Nations: three men had been attempting to get some information, but their fourth killed a guard and spray-painted "NO MORE DISUNITY--ANTI-NATIONALISM NOW" on a wall. Said fourth man also had an almost negative color scheme, and the word "SMASH" on his chest. After the reporters' initial story is published, they're dismayed when their notes are taken, thinking J.Jonah Jameson was pulling them off it; but confronting JJJ, they meet Captain America! Cap had asked to see the notes, in case there was anything that didn't make print, since "the slogans found on the wall set off some alarm bells for me." Cap's already pretty sure this was Flag-Smasher, but what was he doing...?

The reporters keep on, following leads to the Brand Corporation, which had been a crooked subsidiary of crooked corporation Roxxon. Which is, of course, using Flag-Smasher as a living weapon. A kind of low-end one, though: Smashy didn't have super-strength or anything, and was in fact largely brain-damaged after a long dip in icy waters. But he was controllable with drugs, and it might help that Roxxon's president shares his anti-nationalist views. (I doubt Flag-Smasher would have been as virulently predatory capitalist, though.) Having the two spies involved in the break-in killed, the president sends Flag-Smasher after the one in police custody: I get the feeling the president just liked his new toy and wanted to use it, but it doesn't seem like the best tool for the job there. He also gives an interview with the reporters and is straight-up Monty Burns style evil; but that seemed like he was old and wanted to show these kids how things really worked, like their naiveté or dumbness was just too tiring for him.

Disguised as a prison guard, Cap keeps an eye on the jailed spy; at least long enough to overhear his conversation with the reporters; he's shanked the next day. (They don't use the term "shanked," which seems a missed opportunity: I love it, it's so descriptive.) Since it's down to the reporters word against Roxxon's, they might be in danger, but Cap gives them a pep talk to stick it out. A really long pep talk. JJJ backs them as well, so the Roxxon president sends Flag-Smasher--in a monstrously heavy looking turbine jetpack--to the Bugle to kill them. Cap saves them, after a fair amount of property damage. The implicated president resigns, collecting the usual "golden parachute" severance. At least one of the reporters is a bit crestfallen, but Cap puts him back on track; except I was distracted since I swear that the reporter looked like the pot-smoker from those "Fast Lane" inserts.

This is from that golden age before anyone threw the term "fake news" around; although the president tells Flag-Smasher he "will not tolerate more lies in the press," even though the story was pretty accurate. Not a high point for Flag-Smasher; but I'm not sure he ever got back to his old look: per Wikipedia, he might've been killed, possibly off-panel, by Domino of all people.
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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Admittedly, he doesn't really have enough good villains to kill them off.

I think his Marvel counterpart, the Sub-Mariner, is in the same proverbial boat: Namor never really got his full measure of revenge against Llyra for her murdering Lady Dorma; and Aquaman never really gets revenge on Black Manta for murdering his infant son Arthur, Jr. Does he? From 1992, Aquaman #6, "The End of a Road" Written by Shaun McLaughlin, pencil by Ken Hooper, inks by Bob Dvorak, cover by Kevin Maguire and Bob Dvorak.

Mercy Reef wasn't exactly a tourist spot, even for underwater: as an infant, Aquaman had been left there to die, but was saved by the porpoise Porm. Years later, he would bury his son there. Now, Black Manta has just torpedoed it: he may be trying to pick a fight, but that seems like a bit much, even if he was the one that killed Arthur, Jr. Next, he was leading an army of the mermaid people of Tritonis to attack Poseidonis: they had their own bones to pick, and were totally willing to side with Manta. After hitting Aquaman with "a little something I stole from S.T.A.R. Labs," a surprisingly brutal electrifying headpiece; Manta then hits Poseidonis with another surface-world weapon: fear gas, adapted from the Scarecrow's! All of the Poseidonis's citizens turn on each other, with the exception of one F'ancha: he wasn't local, and also worried how he was going to explain being immune, but he manages to rally the people to help their erstwhile sovereign. (You could almost flip a coin, but as of then Aquaman wasn't the king.)

Iqula, the hero of Tritonis, returns to fight the troops that had sided with Black Manta; mentioning in passing he was probably going to have to overthrow his local monarchy for doing so. That leaves Aquaman free to go at Manta, who wants this fight over just as much as he does. We get a little flashback to a young Manta, that I'm not sure was ever referred to before or since: he was shanghaied as a child (from Baltimore!) and forced to be a cabin boy. It's strongly implied he was molested as well, or else forced to kill to defend himself; but he also had seen Aquaman as a boy, swimming with the porpoises and not helping him a goddamn bit. (He wouldn't have known to help, but you can see why Manta might hold a grudge.) Manta later mentions not being proud of killing Arthur, Jr; but that was his major victory and he had to act like it was the greatest thing he ever did, to own Aquaman. He also taunts Aquaman, that he not only "don't deserve my hatred...you don't deserve a wife and child."

For his part, Aquaman is virtually blind with fury not just over Arthur, Jr; but blaming losing Mera on Manta as well, feeling she left him because he didn't kill Manta. Manta, perhaps rightly, doesn't think that's why she left; distracting Aquaman long enough to stab him with a wicked knife from between the eyes of his helmet! He leaves Aquaman to die, as his Manta-sub is about to fall into a crevice; but Aquaman telepathically commands some "surgeon fish" to cut Manta's air hoses--his stupidly, stupidly exposed air hoses! Seriously, did Aquaman pull those out every time, and if not, why not? His suit filling, Manta sinks, with what could have been a good haiku to go out on, with a little editing: "...so beautiful. The seas consume my hatred. As they consume me..."

Porm comes to see why Aquaman hasn't gotten out of the sub, and he's a wreck, even notwithstanding the massive chest wound. But something worse may be waiting, as a crazed blond face says "Now you're mine!" at the end of the issue. This series was Aquaman's return to a monthly title, in time for his fiftieth anniversary; but wasn't as successful as his next, with Peter David, would be. (Manta would appear in that run, in Aquaman #29; the GCD notes the 'new' Manta debuted in Superboy #20!) On DC's wikia, this stretch of Manta's history isn't even mentioned, and this wasn't even the most hardcore death that entry mentions for him! Unless King Shark biting off his face didn't kill him, I suppose. Also, that entry mentions Manta was autistic, then later cured by Aquaman, but still a villain! Still, not unlike Sinestro or the Joker, Black Manta had long since crossed a line where I'd consider Aquaman killing him justified. Even if it wouldn't stick, and he had to keep doing it...
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Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Is this the last we'll see of Gwenpool? I don't know, yet. I love that Man-Wolf figure, but it's not the best "actor" I have. I do like how Moon Knight seems to be completely chill, down for whatever...
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