Thursday, February 28, 2019

I say "big fat cheat," but it's kind of the opposite.

Last year we checked out one of my favorite classic Thor issues, which featured Walt Simonson art years before he took over the book again. Today we've got another of his early ones: from 1977, Thor #263, "Holocaust and Homecoming!" Written by Len Wein, breakdowns by Walt Simonson, inks by Tony DeZuniga. Cover by John Buscema and Joe Sinnott, but it promises help that's a big fat cheat!

Odin is dead, his lifeforce drained and monsterized by the alien "Soul-Survivors." You can see a bit of what would be Surtur's redesign there, I think. Things look pretty bad: not only are Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three no match for Odin's stolen power, but with the All-Father dead, the enchantments powering Mjolnir are no more: it no longer returns to Thor's hand.

A surprising hero rises to save the day, though: Volstagg, the Voluminous! Who has developed zap-power, somehow: Odin slipped his power to him the previous issue. That's the cheat I mentioned: there is no way that shadow on the cover is Volstagg's, it's far too svelte! Most light can't escape the surface of Volstagg...The Soul-Survivors are defeated, I guess: they seem to just drift out of the story. Odin is revived and drifts off into the Odin-sleep, as Thor and company return him to find Loki upon the throne, with the Enchantress and Executioner beside him! Or in front. Whatever.
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Wednesday, February 27, 2019


Yeah, I definitely think Kurt could take the Knight. I'm not sure he could take Deadpool, though; except in terms of finesse: Pool's technique might involve less defense (if any?) since he can take stab wounds.

I hesitated to do this one, since the Black Knight is already on bad terms with another mutant, Quicksilver. I want to say the love quadrangle with those two, Pietro's wife Crystal, and Sersi; ran longer than that Proctor storyline, and I'm not sure any of them ended up together.

This may be the third time we mention "Grandmaster rules," in reference to his classic match-up battles. Which I don't think I've blogged a lot of, actually. I'd love to have a classic comic action figure of him--as opposed to the delightfully unhinged Jeff Goldblum version from Thor: Ragnarok--since he usually seemed to have the juice to carry out his threats and make those fights happen. Admittedly, he may not be the most dynamic figure; a blue grandpa in a smock...better throw in some accessories there.

Most of this strip, and the last three in this storyline, were knocked out playoff weekend, as my Cowboys lost badly to the Rams. Last road playoff victory was like 1992, which ugh. Wonder if I have time to get another one done...
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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A black envelope is fine for a wedding invite, but for a comic cover?

I've been scratching my head trying to recall if I read this issue, let alone the rest of the crossover. I know I had been reading Darkhold at least a bit...From 1993, Morbius #12, "The Bait" Written by Gregory Wright, pencils by Ron Wagner, inks by Mike Witherby.

Hmm, I think I had fallen off Darkhold by this point, the "Midnight Massacre" crossover with Nightstalkers, Ghost Rider, and the Ghost Rider spin-off Spirits of Vengeance. The cover gimmick was a black parchment "envelope," like the Darkhold pages were doled out in; since Blade had taken a page from it to become Switchblade. (Ugh...) In a mad crusade against the supernatural, he had killed John Blaze, Hannibal King, and Victoria Montesi (from the Darkhold book) as well as Modred the Mystic and Demogoblin. (The heroes weren't in any particular hurry to avenge those last two.) Switchblade absorbed their respective powers, and became more powerful with each kill.

Morbius gets a phone call warning from the other heroes, but has his own problems. Infected with demonic "Lilin" blood, Morby was in even less control than usual, but still pulls himself together to go to work in the morning. He may have some help, though: guest-star Jack Russell, Werewolf by Night! He had achieved a modicum of control over his dark nature, and wanted to help Morbius with his. They're attacked by Switchblade, who seemingly kills Jack with a pumpkin bomb, then nails Morbius to the wall! Morby being a "living" vampire, he doesn't turn into dust or anything; moreover, with the "human" no more, the Lilin side takes over, oozing like liquid and killing a bum to regain its strength. It attacks Switchblade again, and it goes even worse: Morbius is reduced to a charred skeleton.

In what appears to be the afterlife, Morbius is greeted by his lost love Martine...who welcomes him to the "bowels of the netherworld!" That doesn't sound great...Switchblade's story would be wrapped up in Spirits of Vengeance #13, where I'd guess everyone he killed was brought back. Except maybe Morby, who might've had to fight it out himself, judging by the next cover.
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Monday, February 25, 2019

Me so happy!

I'm going to do us all a favor and not write this whole post in Bizarro-speak; but last week I got the Walgreens exclusive DC Multiverse Bizarro! He's a handsome fellow...dresses better than I do, too.

Bizarro comes with alternate hands, his "Bizarro #1" medallion, a removable cape, and a suit jacket and glasses for his disguise as "Kent Clark." That's a fair amount of accessories for this line, but there's no "Collect-n-Connect" piece or anything. Which is fine. Except for the alternate hands, Bizarro can wear all the accessories at once, which makes his terrible disguise look even sadder.

I had to go back through my records, since I didn't recall if I had a previous Bizarro figure. But we saw the comic he came with years ago--back when action figures came with comics! And the old Bizarro came with a tire we've seen before as well. But holy cow, the old one is thicker in the chest! I wondered if he might've been based on Eric Powell's art in Return to Bizarro World, he predates that story by a year.

Regardless, this Bizarro's got more of a Silver Age feel, and he's great. I found him while looking for the Marvel Legends Mystique, but if you see him first he's worth getting as well.

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Friday, February 22, 2019

The Flash has one of the best rogues' galleries in comics: the first half of this issue features the Pied Piper, a perfectly fine villain, but well down the depth chart for the Flash. So it is slightly odd to see him up against another hero's bad guys, the Atomic Skull from Superman! Who himself is further down Superman's depth chart. From 1981, the Flash #293, featuring "Pied Piper's Paradox Peril!" Written by Gerry Conway, art by Don Heck; and "The Fastest Deadliest Man Alive!" Written by Gerry Conway, breakdowns by George Perez, finishes by Rodin Rodriguez.

Running on the water below "Superman's Island," an anti-grav prison for the Man of Steel's most dangerous foes, Flash sets off a sonic boom and worries he may have accidentally damaged it. Investigating, he finds one prisoner got loose: Dr. Albert Michaels, better known as the Atomic Skull! (They do a similar intro for him twice here! Getting that name recognition out.) He zaps Flash with one of his "brain-blasts," then tells Barry he's going to get enough radium to crank up his blasts so they'll affect Superman. The Flash should be dead of radiation poisoning long before that. Using internal vibrations to slow the damage...somehow...Flash knows he needs help, specifically that of Firestorm, the Nuclear Man!

Speeding through New York and leaving a glowing message in his wake, Flash is able to get Firestorm's attention, and he absorbs the radiation...and gets hammered. This might be specific to A-Skull's radiation, since we've seen a ton of stories since where Firestorm is consigned to hazmat clean-up duties, and I don't think we've ever seen him act like he was hitting the sauce. Meanwhile, in Colorado...wait, this has been about half an hour. The Skull flew, apparently via little belt-jets like Wonder Man used to wear, from Metropolis, wherever that is, to Colorado, in under thirty minutes? I didn't think he was invulnerable or anything; wouldn't that speed shred his face right off? Er, what's left of his face, anyway.

While the Flash is able to get Firestorm to Colorado, F-S is still too drunk to be helpful. Flash has to taunt him into taking a shot at him, then ducking out of the way so Atomic Skull gets zapped. With the radiation out of his system, Firestorm is back to normal, but wonders if he shouldn't be mad at Flash for something. We've only seen a few times where Barry had been rude or snippy; it's not impossible, but it's usually surprising.
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Thursday, February 21, 2019


Short bonus this week! Since this one came out short. We may see more of Cat's "magnum opus" later, though...

We saw it a few times in the Year in Toys post, but it's the Disney Toybox Spider-Mobile. Which was $25 when I got it, and now,'s a bit more. David on Twitter pretty much convinced me to get it, then to touch up the webs!
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Wednesday, February 20, 2019


Although the new Black Knight is a much stronger figure, the Ebony Blade that came with the older version is much nicer. Perhaps a shade too ornate, but it's also stiffer.

I looked up Proctor for this post, though; he was the big bad for a seemingly indeterminable stretch of issues. Perhaps coincidentally, that was roughly around the same time Hyperstorm was the villain in Fantastic Four: both were allegedly stronger than any villain those teams had faced before; had long and complicated schemes that ran for ever; and I don't think either has ever returned. Proctor was an alternate-universe version of the Black Knight; although I'm not sure he was ever named as Dane Whitman. I didn't love his plot, either: if I kill all of something in the multiverse (in this case, his former lover, Sersi) then power. Sure, it worked in the One with Jet Li; but if there's an infinite number of multiverses you would never be able to do it.

The idea of the tournaments the Knight mentions, is from the X-Men novel Soul Killer, written by Richard Lee Byers. I have a stack of these Marvel novels, but this one's a favorite, since it features the X-Men and Excalibur against Belasco and Dracula! Early on, Kurt competes in a fencing tournament; and I always wondered how he would do against Dane Whitman. Dane seems a little snooty here, though.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

I feel like Alan Davis was given a memo, "Draw Star-Lord more like Chris Pratt." I wonder if that's still the case, or if they're like no, draw Star-Lord like whoever now...From 2017, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mother Entropy #1, written by Jim Starlin, pencils by Alan Davis, inks by Mark Farmer.

Weirdly, while I think Knowhere cop Dietz is based on John C. Reilly as Nova Corpsman Rhomman Dey; I only see a little Zoe Saldana in Davis's Gamora. His Groot is great, though: super-expressive. This mini-series leans heavily in the movie characterizations along with the looks: the team has saved the universe, or at least a planet or two, more than once; but they're also broke, irresponsible, and prone to questionable decisions. To make some quick cash, Drax was selling his blood, to be used as a drug, until Gamora shut that down.

On the verge of cutting and running out; the Guardians get a job offer from the cops, to transport a creepy alien monk and his "Mother Stone" home. The monk tells them, their holy scripture says no more than five people can be around the stone at any given time, or something terrible and unspecified will happen. Gamora and Peter are both "whatever" to that, but the monk dies shortly thereafter of a heart attack, leaving them worried how that delivery was going to go. But they don't have time to worry, as Pip the Troll teleports in to steal it! Drax and Gamora know him, even if it's left at that: their time with the Infinity Watch, for example, is not gone into. For that matter, Pip is still able to teleport, even though he hadn't had the Space Stone in years.

Still, there's no time to dwell on that either, as five Guardians plus one troll make six, and the Mother Stone does...something.

This was a little five issue mini, which came out around about the same time as the second movie. I got it on the cheap, but just about anything Alan Davis is worth checking out. In fact, I had to check to make sure I hadn't blogged it yet!
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Monday, February 18, 2019

If you check the cover, those kids are loving Superman catching a beating.

Last year we saw Pete Ross's son Jonathan on the verge of death unless Superman shared his secret identity with him; and I was surprised as hell to see him again in today's book, although I shouldn't have been. From 1976, Superman #304, "The Parasite's Prism of Peril!" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Bob Oksner.

Jon seems to be enjoying some time as Superman's new pal, like a much younger Jimmy Olsen. Here, a visit to S.T.A.R. Labs goes awry as a super-laser nearly kills him and Dr. Klyburn: they're saved by Supes, but then an after-burst bounces off him and hits both of them. Still, it doesn't seem to do anything...yet.

The villain this month is the Parasite, who's back with some new jewelry: a "prism of power" he can use to drain Superman's power at a distance. He doesn't realize, though, that stray beams of light through the prism are transferring power elsewhere, like to the occasional hapless bystander or Jon and Klyburn, who then rampage. Eventually, he realizes he's losing power and cuts them off, but Supes is able to grab the prism, and the Parasite explodes. He'd be back.

So would Jon, at least a few more times: his DC wiki article mentions him meeting Mr. Mxyzptlk, for one thing. But I remembered he would appear in an issue of DC Comics Presents that was reprinted in the digest Best of DC #66. Wonder if I have that one still...
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Friday, February 15, 2019

If this was her first cover to say "Spoiler Alert" I'll eat this comic.

Since we saw the Spoiler last week, why not end this one with a quarter book I hadn't read yet: from 2015, Catwoman #42, "Gathered From All Sides" Written by Genevieve Valentine, art by David Messina, colors by Lee Loughridge.

This was in the middle of Selina's stint as a crime boss, head of the Falcone family; and she was also searching for any clues to the missing Batman. I don't know where he was either; this time I think he had disappeared in Batman Eternal. The editorial footnote mentions Spoiler had been Catwoman's prisoner--for some reason--in Batman Eternal #43, and she's still a little sore about it here. She's also no match for Catwoman, but she may have attracted the interest of a new trainer.

I think this storyline would run to Catwoman #46, which probably ended her crime boss days, I'm guessing. I wonder if Spoiler was in that one.
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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Save me, Space Cabbie!

It's "The End," but not the last issue, if you follow. From 1992, Legion of Super-Heroes #38, "Requiem" Plot and breakdowns by Keith Giffen, dialogue and story assist by Tom and Mary Bierbaum, pencils and story assist by Jason Pearson, inks by Karl Story.

A little over halfway through the run of the "Five Years Later" Legion, and earth was in pretty bad shape: the Dominators had infiltrated and taken over the government, and were only recently defeated after a long and bloody struggle. They had detonated hundreds of "power-spheres," killing thousands and leaving the rest without power; and the moon had previously been destroyed in a crossover with Superman. (Incidentally, not unlike when I posted that one, there is a ton of snow here now!) But there was a new, old factor: 24th century earth science had created tons of a toxic waste called "proton jelly," which had been sealed up and buried for centuries, until the Dominators used them to keep their genetic experiments. When a "renegade resistance fighter" sets off the chambers self-destruct, it dumps the proton jelly into the earth, dooming it.

I always forget the resistance fighter bit: I think that and the proton jelly were to put the blame for earth's demise on earth, not the Doms. Even two Brainiac 5's can't solve the problem: there was the supposed original, and the younger version from the Dominators' SW6 batch. And that's about all the Legion gets to do for the rest of this one, as 102 cities are launched to safety. 95 would make it to link up to form the artificial New Earth, and take refuge in the "Bgztl Buffer Region," home of Phantom Girl, who would be MIA for almost all of this series. (Both PG's fate and the SW6 question would be wrapped up in the "End of an Era" crossover, just before the Zero Hour reboot.)

This issue might get a bit of a bump in the price guides, since it features a cameo from Death; as upwards of two billion die when earth explodes. Is this the darkest moment in the "Five Years Later" Legion? By quantity, maybe. The tie-in/spin-off book Legionnaires was just a couple of months away, focusing mostly on the younger team; and I think both books would be somewhat more upbeat going forward. And this was Keith Giffen's last issue as "creative director," although he still penciled the next one!
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