Friday, June 28, 2019

That's quite the insult, there.

We looked at the previous issue last year or so, and Dale mentioned the secret of Hyperstorm's parentage...which I'm not sure I knew! Way to spoil a comic from 1996, bro! Fantastic Four #409, "Supreme Be My Power!" Script and plot by Tom DeFalco, pencils and plot by Paul Ryan, inks by Dan Bulanadi.

The smug Hyperstorm alludes to it this issue, taunting the Invisible Woman, that "hyperspace is not the only bond we share!" It wouldn't be completely spelled out here, but he was an alternate future's son of Franklin Richards and Rachel Summers, which both explains a lot of his powers, and means the 'relatives' section of his file should be a mile longer: Cyclops would be his grandfather. Or, at least, an alternate version of Cyclops. So, post-Days of Futures Past, Hyperstorm went on to not only conquer the hell out of earth, but apparently his entire universe. Good for him. That doesn't explain why he's messing around with his grandparents and extended family in the past, or why he had the same sort of lackey structure as Doctor Doom: would he have normal human henchmen, or wouldn't he prefer all mutants? Maybe he felt threatened by them, or maybe after the Sentinels and all there weren't a lot of mutants left. In which case I don't know if I'd feel bad that Hyperstorm treated his underlings like Doom would, as disposable cogs.

Doctor Doom tries the old steal-the-power-cosmic bit again here; and why not? It usually works. Reed even helps, since at this point he'd rather Doom have ultimate power than Hyperstorm, which I'm not entirely sure felt earned. Doom respectfully declines Reed's assistance, by which I mean takes a potshot at him and rants; and Hyperstorm recovers. He even claims he set Doom up and knew exactly what he would do, and sends Doom back to his own time to suck on his failure. Then, facing the reunited Fantastic Four, plus Namor, the Skrull Lyja, faux-Doom Kristoff, and Reed's dad/time-travelling warlord/know-it-all Nathan; Hyperstorm...heals Ben's face? It had been janked up by Wolverine in FF #374 in 1993, so a while back. Hyperstorm wants Ben's own reflection to taunt him with his power; or maybe Paul Ryan was tired of drawing scarface Ben, or maybe they knew they were headed towards an end: during the Onslaught crossover, the book's last issue would be #416. But this wasn't the end of Hyperstorm's story! He gloats a bit, then sends everyone home. I think he would get got in #414, but possibly off-panel: he and Galactus get sucked into something, and while Galactus would appear again, Hyperstorm has not.

Years ago we blogged Spider-Man Team-Up #3, which would've been shortly after this issue; which makes it seem like a longer window than just six months or so. In fact, Reed would apparently ditch the beard fairly quickly.
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Thursday, June 27, 2019

80-Page Thursdays: Amazing Spider-Man #800!

Recently, to complete the Kingpin Build-a-Figure, I picked up the Red Goblin and Symbiote Spider-Man figures: I got them entirely for the Kingpin parts, but at least I did have a comic they were from! From 2018, Amazing Spider-Man #800, "Go Down Swinging, conclusion" Written by Dan Slott, pencils by Nick Bradshaw, Humberto Ramos, Giusepe Camuncoli, Stuart Immonen, and Marcos Martin; inks by Victor Olazaba, Cam Smith, and Wade von Grawbadger; color art by Edgar Delgado, Java Tartaglia, and Muntsa Vicente.

Very unusually for an 80-pager, this was one story, no back-ups, not 10 8-page stories--seriously, I would have to go a ways back through the tag to find one...oh, maybe this Robin 80-pager. Anyway. This was also wrapping up writer Dan Slott's long tenure on the book, ten years worth. And it was part four of four, pulling out all the stops for a final battle between Norman Osborn with the Carnage symbiote, versus Spidey wearing Venom again. That's not the only support Spidey has: he has other friends there to help him, but most of them are knocked out by the start of this one. We mentioned the Spidey and Goblin figures from this one, but there's another guest-star getting an action figure soon, even if he's not around to enjoy it!

Even without the prior issues, or really reading Amazing regularly for years, this was a strong single issue. If you look it up on the GCD, there was also about a million variant covers, so I don't think it would be too tough to find.
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Wednesday, June 26, 2019


The Casket of Ancient Winters, the Wand of Watoomb, and the Zodiac Key were all part of the SDCC 2016 exclusive Collector's Vault set, which wasn't Marvel Legends-scaled, except for these accessories? (The figures were all Marvel Universe 3 3/4" scale.) Which we got from eBay last month or so. Felicia mentioned having the Casket back in December, but I won't pretend I had planned this. I think the Casket is even a bit oversized for Legends: in old Thor issues it could probably be held in one hand. The Wand is about right, and I was glad to get it, since it's pivotal to the Dr. Strange team-up in the glorious Marvel Treasury Edition #22!

The Zodiac Key was a bit crap, though.
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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Between the comicon, a very good yard sale from some local fans, and the usual piles of stuff I pick up; I have...piles of stuff floating around right now. Which leaves me at somewhat of a loss where I picked up the first three issues of this one; but the Comic Book Shop fixed me up with the concluding three issues: from 2016-2018, Shipwreck #1-6, written by Warren Ellis, pencils by Phil Hester, inks by Eric Gapstur, colors by Mark Englert, letters by Marshall Dillon. Aftershock gives them all cover credits!

I know I've read a couple other titles from Aftershock Comics, but don't know much about them, save that this seems like the sort of thing that would've been published at Vertigo before it went under. (Has Vertigo officially gone? I did see discussion to the effect that the imprint's actually a drain on sales these days...) Actually, it's a bit esoteric for Vertigo, and a bit less big concept than usual for Ellis: this is more impressionistic, almost abstract. The first issue in particular reminds me of the opening of Stephen King's the Gunslinger: "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." A sad-looking man with a bandaged arm seems to have a dream of drowning at sea, before waking up by a road, with a seeming murder of crows guiding his way. At a dilapidated old diner, he meets "an inspector," who tells him his name is Dr. Jonathan Shipwright, who "died in a shipwreck. The strangest shipwreck that ever was: a boat run aground after voyaging from another planet."

Shipwright is mildly confused, but recalls a few things, namely that his mission had been sabotaged by "that bastard Isham." Which gives him a goal, and possibly the motivation to keep from being killed by the diner's chef, who seems to have some unusual notions about "nutritional fitness." (The chef is one of several characters in the series that seem like stock Ellis: an entertaining possible lunatic with an interesting outlook on life that may approach monomania.) The inspector leaves a note for Shipwright: "There is a rescue mission." It would be a few more issues before we understand what most, if not all, of it means.

I lucked into all six issues pretty quickly, but I'd absolutely recommend the trade; especially since looking at the GCD, this ran from October 2016 to June 2018! That seems excessive...
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Monday, June 24, 2019

Huh, I posted on Warlord #26 a while back, but skipped the dedicated subscription ad! I thought it was neat.
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It's nice when I find a fun series that I slept on, but I always feel bad for not supporting it earlier. Still, it's probably pretty findable if you're interested: from 2018, Future Quest Presents #6, "Son of Birdman" Written by Phil Hester, art by Steve Rude.

I know I've seen Mentok the Mind-Taker on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law multiple times, but can't recall if I'd ever seen him as the baddie on the classic Hanna-Barbera Birdman cartoon. Today's book is based on the latter and played straight, with Mentok given a bit of tragic back-story: thanks to his telepathy, the world will just not shut up, which explains his motivation to bring to earth the "fleshless god" to destroy everything.

This version of Birdman is classically heroic, although he may not have always been: he had been a somewhat selfish archaeologist before getting "the essence of Ra," and didn't remember every detail of his past. Like having a son! Who has been in a coma, and his mom working with Mentok, who had been using her despair to power the fleshless god's summoning. Using his powers, Birdman is able to rouse his son temporarily from his coma; even Mentok is a little disappointed it didn't stick. The issue ends with Birdman at gunpoint, about to be killed by the mom at Mentok's orders, but there were twists yet to come.

I don't think Birdman's sidekick/partner Avenger appears this issue: they shared a telepathic link, and Avenger was pretty amusing. I got eleven of the twelve issues for Future Quest Presents, and they were all pretty solid. Plus, I won't usually encourage variant covers, but with Steve Rude, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Jill Thompson variants; that's not bad.
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Friday, June 21, 2019

Everybody must get stoned!

I don't think I appreciated this one enough when it came out, since I don't think I had as many by him then, but it's nice to see him get a plot credit as well. From 1984, Conan the Barbarian #159, "Cauldron of the Doomed!" Plot and art by John Buscema, dialogue by Michael Fleisher.

We open with Conan doing a bit of pit-fighting: it wasn't uncommon for him to be forced into that sort of thing, but this time Conan was a voluntary participant, in to pick up a bit of coin. Local noblewoman Marielle de Bruvahr takes an interest in him, faking a twisted ankle to 'meet-cute' the barbarian and invite him to dinner. At her estate, she shows off her statue collection, sculpted herself. Despite a few warning signs, like when she's about to whip a serving girl for spilling wine, Conan still has drinks with Marielle, an "exquisite example of the vinter's art," that's drugged as hell. Now a mindless slave, Conan is turned into a simpering ponce for a page: it's pretty funny, really.

When the wine starts to wear off, Marielle orders more for him, then notices the serving girl trying to slip Conan the plain, undrugged stuff. Sending the girl to be whipped, Marielle re-dopes Conan, then takes him to the basement, where he'll be dipped in a vat and turned to stone! (Somehow. Chemical, magical, concrete, whatever.) The serving girl, walking off multiple lashes, arrives in time to save Conan, with a sweet knife toss: everyone knows a steak knife embedded in your arm snaps you out of drugged wine. Conan has to kill Marielle's men to get out of there, most of them going into the stone dip; while the girl decks Marielle. Surprisingly, she doesn't go into the dip, but the girl and Conan escape, as Marielle seethes like Veronica after Archie messes up a date. Seems like a bit more retribution was warranted, but okay.

Also this issue: a Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation: Paid circulation, actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date; 426,733.
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Thursday, June 20, 2019

80-Page Thursdays: DC's Beach Blanket Bad Guys Summer Special #1!

I got this at a yard sale last week, and it's a million degrees out as I type this, so perfect timing! From 2018, DC's Beach Blanket Bad Guys Summer Special #1, featuring stories by Lee Bermejo, Jeff Loveness, Paul Dini, Tim Seeley, and more; and art by Gabriel Hardman, Minkyu Jung, Max Raynor, John Paul Leon, and more.

Ten summer-themed stories with DC's villains, are there more hits than misses this time? "Worst Finest" isn't a great start: is that supposed to be that Batman Who Laughs, or just the Joker with a cowl? Whatever, it's him versus Bizarro in a charmless story. In "Help," Lex Luthor gets roadside assistance from a guy with a Superman tattoo, and asks him why. He asks in a foaming-at-the-mouth kind of way; which Supes-tattoo either doesn't notice or is too polite to mention. Enh. "Close Shave" features Mister Freeze and his giant robot taking issue with a shaved ice truck's unauthorized use of his likeness: hasn't Freeze murdered a ton of people? That'd put me in the mood for a frosty treat! Okay.

"False Idols" is interesting; a young archeologist petitions Cheetah to share her power, but she may instead grant a different favor. Not bad. Black Manta stars in "Icy Embrace," where his true colors are rarely far from the surface. Okay. On the run, Giganta accidently returns to her hometown in "Giganta Strong," which goes about like you'd figure. Still, not the worst one here. Flash tries to understand Grodd's motives and reach out to him in "Cruel Summer," and it feels like a variation of the 'Martha' scene from Batman v. Superman. Grodd lets Barry know he's drawn the wrong conclusion here...a bit forced, but not bad? Next, Deathstroke takes a job from a young girl in "Dog Days of Summer." He tries to teach her an object lesson that really doesn't come out. Good!

"Perfect Gentleman" is a young Penguin story: surprise, he was a dick then, too! Okay. Lastly, it's the Crime Syndicate in "Independence." The team celebrates the Fourth of July their way, with bastardry and murder attempts. They're unlikeable dicks, but there is an amusing angle I hadn't seen before with Volthoom (the ring) controlling Hal/Power Ring. Okay!

I feel like I liked this one more than the Nuclear Winter special? It's slightly more cheerful, or maybe I'm just a summer guy. Harley Quinn's on the cover of this one too, but not on the inside again!
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Wednesday, June 19, 2019


I couldn't be positive Old Man Logan was a Fox News viewer--okay, probably not, unless there's some loyalty to the parent company for the films! But he's definitely in the "fall asleep with the TV on full blast" demographic.

I don't think the school is currently present, but Jubilee, Blink, and Caliban were probably never there at the same time. They were all in the same wave and purchased around the same time, though. Jubilee made the cut probably for this strip, because I could definitely see her being the one to accidentally-on purpose say something snarky and set Gambit off. And I'll admit, aside from "recently married" I have no idea what Gambit's current status is. I didn't think he and Rogue got sucked into the Age of X-Man crossover, but I haven't exactly checked, either.
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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Today's book has a plot point that might've worked when it came out, but I'm not sure does now: from 1980, Warlord #38, "The Shape of Things Gone By" Story and art by Mike Grell, inks by Vince Colletta.

Tooling around on his winged horse Firewing (which we saw some time back, he would lose next month, in Warlord #39!) Travis Morgan and Shakira travel far enough to see the terminator between Skartaris and the outer world. In fact, they can even see the outer world's sun; before they see a small boat from the surface world, under attack by the proverbial sea serpent! Travis literally leaps into action, stabbing it through the brain with the enchanted Hellfire Sword; then meets the survivors of the boat: Pat Chambers and Jennifer Morgan!

Jennifer's mother had been killed in a car accident, so Travis had sent her to live with an aunt, since "the Air Force was no life for a little girl." Travis had gone to Vietnam, and was later shot down and ended up in Skartaris; while a ten-year-old Jennifer was told her father was KIA...until three years ago, when a report came back that Travis had defected to the Russians! (A mis-reporting of a brief, and accidental, return to the surface in Warlord #6.) Jennifer is understandably upset to find her dad cavorting "around like some savage in a loincloth!" with an additional bit of side eye for Shakira.

Chambers has a bit more explanation: former CIA man Stryker had attempted to kill Travis and failed, but told anyone who would listen about Skartaris. A professor from Travis's trip to Russia approached Jennifer with information, and Chambers had arranged the expedition, but he and Jennifer were all that was left. Meanwhile, a sullen Shakira, who doesn't speak English, is getting tired of all the "monkey chatter."

Later, when the locals attack, Travis drives them off, but suggests Chambers get his Uzi. The locals return in greater numbers, since they think they're facing pirates; but are stopped by the sudden appearance of an old friend of Travis's, Aton. Who had been a young boy when Travis last saw him, but was now a full-grown adult! Time in Skartaris was occasionally localized, passing differently in different areas. (This wasn't seen often after this, I don't think.) Aton vouches for Travis, and Jennifer is cheered up a bit to see her dad hailed as a hero; although Travis still has to admit his mistakes to her.

Before they leave, Travis confronts Chambers: his gun, an Uzi, was at the time only used by the Israeli Army or the Secret Service. (That may not necessarily be true: per Wikipedia's Uzi entry, the Netherlands and Belgium were among several using it around that time. It would've been a somewhat exotic weapon to Travis, though.) Chambers was the latter, a friend of Stryker's out for revenge, but he had fallen in love with Jennifer on the trip. Shakira had the drop on Chambers if he had tried anything, anyway. Chambers and Jennifer set sail for the surface world, planning on telling the world Stryker had been wrong, Travis Morgan was dead, and there was no such place as Skartaris. In what was either a bit of commentary on current events, or foreshadowing for a much later story, Jennifer describes the surface world as "dying," but she wouldn't necessarily return there, either...

I had a battery-powered Uzi squirt gun in the mid-80's, and I associate the gun with that decade. Interesting to learn it was around long before that!
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Monday, June 17, 2019

He probably goes on like that...

Caved the other day, and bought the other five figures I needed to build the Kingpin! (I had bought Silver Sable earlier.) I'm 90% sure I'm cribbing the Kingpin's speech from the Simpsons Fat Tony, but couldn't say if that's a reference to something else itself.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Aw, I was hoping Tex drew this one.

Still, he wasn't the only selling point here: from 2000, Legends of the DC Universe #30-#32, "The 18th Letter" Written by Christopher Priest, pencils by Pablo Raimondi and Karl Waller, inks by Mark McKenna and Jason Baumgartner, covers by Mark Texeira.

An ethnic war is probably complicated enough, but as Wonder Woman tries to stop this one more and more tangles appear. World War II heroine Fury returns, claiming to be Diana's sister. The head of one of the factions, General Lysander, offers a truce: he'll stop the war, if Diana will spend the night with him. Not like that, although that's what everyone thinks, including seemingly her JLA teammate Superman. Batman also makes an appearance to offer some counsel and behind-the-scenes help; but also to underline a theme of this story: if Wonder Woman's primary mission was to teach man's world about peace, it did not seem to be taking root. (Bats, for example, had known Diana for years, but was still a crabby, distrustful bastard.)

Moreover, 'Lysander' isn't what he seems, and had organized this entire war just to get close to Diana: he's really Alcmaeon, a deep-cut from Greek mythology. Accounts vary, but they seem to agree he had committed matricide and possibly polygamy; he's portrayed as supposedly charming but I don't know if I see it. (I feel like the research for this one would've been a lot tougher than the Google search I just did, though.) Similarly, Fury had a mission and a purpose and a completely unrelated insanity. This wasn't bad at all, but just didn't quite make it to really good.

Still, there's a very nice Lois and Clark line in the second chapter, and while momentarily it seemed like Superman is possessed or something in the third, it may just be he's possessive. There's a germ of an idea there: Supes tries to be supportive but can't trust Diana's decision, while Batman may completely disagree with everything but he'll still back her play. At least that's how I read it this evening: Priest leaves enough grey that you could feel differently reading it later, which isn't nothing.
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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Sure, it's an Alien riff, but that monster...

High body count, check; no back-up, check; man is the real monster, check. But the execution is nicely done, and since I just read a crummy Iron Man comic now I want to read a good one: from 1988, Iron Man #237, "Star Hunter!" Plot and script by David Michelinie, layouts by Jackson Guice, finishes by Bob Layton.

This was a single-issue story, but some of the main plotlines were still moving along: Tony fires his legal head for mishandling the Armor Wars lawsuit. Tony is pissed he took a settlement, since Iron Man technically wasn't a Stark employee at the time...even though Tony actually was the 'Iron Man' committing those crimes. I'm not sure how mad he should be; but he's given an out: the government approaches him to have the 'new' Iron Man investigate a "deep orbit space lab" they had lost contact with. They'll drop the lawsuits against Stark, and (nudge) bring pressure to have civilian ones dropped as well. I wonder if that seemed as shady back then as it does now. Still, Tony knows how the game is played, and says he'll "check Iron Man's schedule."

One quick hop to the Koontz space station--and that's not an ominous name--Tony finds the place wrecked up and everyone dead, since their experiment--a genetically engineered "satellite killer" monster--had escaped. In fact, it had even escaped that station, and made its way to the Stark Enterprises space station! Which had largely been shut down since around Iron Man #216 or so, when A.I.M. released a deadly virus there: it lay dormant in the vacuum of space, but would revive in an oxygen atmosphere. Tony finds the creature napping in his offline reactor core, living off the minimal radiation there. It was also created to be laser and bullet resistant, as well as having claws that could damage Tony's best armor to date; so after a brief encounter, Tony decides this is really the government's problem. Except the creature isn't ready for him to go just yet...

I'm not sure I still have the next couple issues against the Ghost--with guest villains Blacklash, Boomerang, and Blizzard, who were like the Washington Generals of this run. The art really clicked on this one, though, in a way I don't think it would again for a while.
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