Wednesday, July 31, 2019


I don't think we're going to see Rom-Con--I didn't see any Rom figures in the Toy Fair pictures, last week as I write this. But the idea of Spaceknight LARPing got me. Or a mini-series of retro Deadpool guest-spots, like him teaming up with ROM, the Micronauts, a proper Hostess ad, and so forth. The legal would be a nightmare, though.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

When they say "let your freak flag fly," that's not what they meant.

Actually, I kind of dig it! From 1986, Adventures of the Outsiders #33, "A Tiny, Deadly War!" Written and edited by Mike W. Barr, art by Alan Davis.

It's day one for the Outsiders without Batman, and they've got a tough one lined up: Geo-Force's homeland Markovia is under attack, by Baron Bedlam, the Masters of Disaster, and the Soviet army. Somewhat surprisingly, it's the Masters that give them the most trouble today: Windfall's air powers notice Metamorpho sneaking into camp as gas, and once he's frozen it's all downhill from there. She also has a bond with Halo: neither of them want to hurt the other, but Windfall was browbeat by her sister, New-Wave.

While the Outsiders are captured, their friend (and future member) Looker has a psychic flash, and leaves her fretting husband to come help. And bad guy the Bad Samaritan tries to investigate what Baron Bedlam's game is exactly, and learns...he's got Hitler in a tube! I doubt the Soviets are real keen on that either; so he's doubtless in for a kicking. Maybe: looking it up, it was building up to AotO #36, "Sympathy for the Fuhrer!" Not at all.

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Monday, July 29, 2019

I'm out this week, over the hills and far away; but before I go let's double-down on a pair of books I quite liked, then absolutely hated where they went. From 1998, Green Lantern #107, "The Choice" Written by Ron Marz, pencils by Jeff Johnson and Chris Batista; inks by Bob Wiacek and John Lowe; and from 2004, Robin #126, "A Life More Ordinary" Written by Bill Willingham, art by Damion Scott.

After a young Hal Jordan returned to the past, Kyle Rayner realizes he left him a present: a copy of his power ring. The Green Lantern Corps was all but defunct at that time, and Kyle sees this as a chance to rebuild it by going out into space and doling out some rings. Still, he needs someone to keep an eye on earth while he's gone, so at Warriors he asks earth's (then) surviving GL's if they want the job: Alan Scott, John Stewart, and Guy Gardner. Surprisingly, all three decline for reasons of their own; leaving Kyle to wonder if he should give it to Wally or Connor, but the obvious choice is almost literally under his nose: his girlfriend and former super-hero Jade, Jenny Hayden!

Jenny as much as laughs off not being Kyle's first choice for the ring...but she probably should've been. She was probably more experienced than he was at that point. After a test run with the ring, when Kyle starts another fight with super-strong bruiser Sledge, Jenny distracts him by...being distracting. Although the couple is sad at having to be apart at this stage in their relationship, they both know Jenny had this. And she did! While Kyle was in space she took over the book, but would lose her ring in #112. And she'd later break up with Kyle and die, although she'd be back; but I don't think she's turned up in the New 52. Some wonder if she would, since in the new continuity her dad Alan is gay: he could still have kids, sure, but it seems less likely he'd pass on powers maybe.

We have another replacement hero in this issue of Robin: Stephanie Brown, the Spoiler. Tim Drake was retired, the result of a promise made to his dad. Steph intends to continue as Spoiler, until she sees Tim kissing another girl: it wasn't Tim's idea, but Steph doesn't see that, of course. Hurt and confused, she does the only logical thing: she sews up a homemade Robin outfit and breaks into the Batcave. And somewhat surprisingly: Batman accepts!

Alfred takes Bats aside to ask if he's lost his damn mind: giving his former Robin's girlfriend his job seems like it could be seen as a slap in the face. Alfred's pretty sure this might be a ploy to try and leverage Tim back into the fold. And Bats had disparaged Spoiler's amateur status before; but suggests while she might not be a natural, she had determination. He gives his new partner another variation of the "my way or the highway" speech Batman gave a lot, to the effect of the first time she disobeys an order will be the last. It takes a couple issues for that Chekhov's gun to fire: in #128, Batman and Robin face Scarab, an armored assassin that had been murdering teenagers that met the description and possible skill-set of Robin. Seeing Steph in the costume, Scarab jumps to the conclusion that she must have succeeded and killed the previous Robin! Although Steph manages to plant a tracer on Scarab, when Batman is blinded by white phosphorus she breaks orders and charges in...and is promptly captured, used as a hostage for Scarab to escape. True to his word, Batman fires Steph, telling her the security locks will be changed when she leaves, and he didn't expect to see her out there as Spoiler, either.

(Bats tells her there's no shame in not measuring up, which is what passes for an encouraging word from him; and also: this is grade-A bullcrap, since disobeying orders was virtually in the Robin job description. See how many issues with Dick or Jason or even Tim you can read before they disobey Bats. Still, I think this was in the middle of a particularly dickish time for Batman and he may have been largely insufferable for a while.)

Spoiler would return...immediately, in the not-especially-well-regarded War Games crossover, which would conclude with her death. Or maybe it was faked? There was some backlash on that one, but it would still be a bit before Steph would take the Batgirl title. Which she would later lose as well, in the New 52; but at least she could be Spoiler again.

Both of these were fairly standard, replace the hero for a bit-style stories. You get to show someone learning the ropes, to underline what big heroic shoes need to be filled, maybe get some new dynamics to play with; then bring back the original to great acclaim. How many times have you seen it? Captain America replaced by the future USAgent; Batman replaced by Azrael or Dick Grayson; Superman replaced by the Reign of the Supermen; you could probably name a dozen more. Yet most of those took more than three or five issues! And the replacements weren't usually killed off right after, either. I've mentioned before that DC's writers at the time seemed to be at a bit of a loss for what to do with Spoiler, like she was a carry-over from the 50's Batwoman/Batgirl plots: a dizzy dame playing where she oughtn't. Jenny maybe fares worse, since I'm not sure she's given a motive stronger than 'girlfriend' here. These issues had some promise, that absolutely wasn't fulfilled.
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Friday, July 26, 2019

One of the few legitimate complaints from when Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis revitalized Justice League in 1987, was that Blue Beetle and later Booster Gold were treated as incompetent jokes. Although they both had their own titles (up until around Millennium in '88) where they would get to be the hero, there wasn't a lot of continuity between them, or if any it was only one way, from JL down. Admittedly, you wouldn't expect a jokester like Beetle to casually mention, "Oh, had to kill my mentor this weekend. NBD." From 1987, Blue Beetle #18, "...And Death Shall Have No Dominion!" Written by Len Wein, with thanks to R.J.M. Lofficier, art by Paris Cullins.

The original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett, has returned, and is on a somewhat uncharacteristic rampage through Chicago; in search of the "thief that stole my good name!" If you recall Ted's origin, though, it began with Dan's death: Ted had gone to his old archeology professor and friend for help finding his lost uncle Jarvis. Jarvis was less missing and more creating an army of robots to conquer the world, and Dan had to change into his alter-ego Blue Beetle to stop him, but was mortally injured. Dan makes Ted swear to carry on for him--perhaps intending him to use the mystic scarab that gave him powers, but it was lost; leaving Ted to do the best he could with training and tech. Ted questions how great of a job he was doing, but doesn't believe this could be Dan, acting like this.

Outclassed by Dan's powers--super-strength, flight, lightning blasts!--Ted does his best to keep ahead of him. When Dan smashes the viewport of his Bug airship, Ted gets mad, and starts to fight back. He also realizes the powers came from the scarab, knocks it out of Dan's hand, and grabs it. The scarab then tries to take Ted over, who fights it; but Dan continues to kick the tar out of him, as well as the cops that show up. A telepath--released from S.T.A.R. Labs, and a plotline for another day--reaches out to Dan, showing him the hero he used to be. Dan turns against the scarab, which changes, showing a true form like an eyeball with tentacles. The scarab explodes, but Dan is done for, after asking Ted to swear to carry on for him again.

The wandering telepath is a bit out of place, but that unusual point foregoes the common way this would've played out: Ted doesn't reveal himself to Dan, not even at the end! It does kind of undermine his win, though; not that he would've enjoyed this one. And I thought the classic Dan Garrett Beetle was public domain, like the Daredevil now known as the Death-Defying 'Devil: the former Shocker Toys, GBJR Toys, was going to make figures of them both before the cash dried up. I don't know if that means anybody could do it now, though...
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Thursday, July 25, 2019

Several years back, we mentioned Starlog #60, which was a pretty great issue, really! 1982 was a banner year for sci-fi movies, and they crammed as much as they could into their sixth anniversary issue. Along with a feature on John Carpenter's the Thing, there was also the concluding chapter of John W. Campbell's Who Goes There? which was the original story the Thing movies were based on. I read that long before I saw either film version, I'm pretty sure. But I hadn't seen this version until much, much later!

From 1976, Starstream #1, "Who Goes There?" Adapted by Arnold Drake, art by Jack Abel. Also this issue: "Dominus" Written by Jack Williamson and Barington J. Bayley, adapted by Arnold Drake, art by Giorgio Cambiotti and Alberto Giolitti. "The Last Guinea-Pig!" Written by Joan Hunter Holly, adapted by Arnold Drake (as G. Cruz-Santos) and art by Frank Bolle. "Rabbits to the Moon" Written by Raymond C. Banks, adapted by Steve Skeates, art by Jack Sparling. "The Music of Minox" Written by Howard Goldsmith, adapted by Paul S. Newman, art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. "Shaka" Written by Chad Oliver, adapted by Ed Summer, art by Adolfo Buylla.

I picked the four issues of this series out of my local shop's quarter bin sometime back, and am still wondering what their plan was. Per the GCD, Whitman was Western Publishing's non-returnable titles. They had a plethora of sci-fi books under their Gold Key arm, and this may have been an attempt to take a slightly more upscale branch of that market, adapting classic science fiction short stories. Or, with a couple exceptions, maybe adapting these old stories was cheaper than writing new ones! Some of these stories may have been less 'classic' than 'vintage' or just 'old,' and I'm guessing it wasn't the most diverse line-up of writers ever. (There were a couple stories by women, which would've been what passed for progressive at the time.) I also suspect "Who Goes There?" would've been slightly more expensive, but more of a coup to get. The other issues featured Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, and Larry Niven; or at least those were the big names to me.

"Rabbits to the Moon" is a bit of nonsense, and "The Music of Minox" wouldn't be notable except for the early work from the great Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. The rest might not be amazing but they're at least interesting. I wish I had the time I did as a kid, to plow through sci-fi books at the library; but I don't know if authors and stories like these are still there for the picking...
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Wednesday, July 24, 2019


Yay, new camera! I'm...not loving it yet, since it's not responding exactly like my old one. With a little work I should be over-exposing everything again soon enough.

Between the camera and poor Felicia's hair, we kind of pushed through to the ending of this little storyline. And I wanted to wrap the Black Cat plotline up, since she's got her own comic right now. I tried the first issue, and it wasn't bad, and I think she had a job in her second issue at Dr. Strange's Sanctum. I might have to keep an eye out for that.
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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

This is the fifth of eight DC Comics Presents Julie Schwartz tribute issues that we've looked at, but after Atlantis Attacks that feels like real progress! So far we've blogged Adam Strange's, the Atom's, Superman's and the Flash's. Today we've got from 2004, DC Comics Presents: Batman #1, featuring "Batman of Two Worlds" Written by Geoff Johns, pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Joe Giella; and "The Ratings War!" Written by Len Wein, art by Andy Kuhn; with an Adam Hughes cover homage to Carmine Infantino's Batman #183. (The classic cover features a Batman '66 style logo on the TV; the modern one has the logo from the then-current the Batman cartoon.)

I was kind of prepared not to like Geoff Johns's opening story, since it featured what felt like modern excess: actors portraying Batman and Robin at each other's throats, with 'Batman' the prime suspect when 'Robin' is found dead on a rooftop. Tim is mildly traumatized but not so much as to not work the case, and goes to the autopsy; while Batman interviews his counterpart, who has been taken into custody but curiously not unmasked. (Unmasking him could be a violation of his civil rights!) Batman is curious why the two actors had once been so close but had fallen out; but there's more to it then that. In fact, it's a nice twist I won't spoil here, so nyaah!

Len Wein's story is pretty good as well: a low-rated TV station has a breakout hit with "The Adventures of Batman and Robin," a new show created with live footage of the Dynamic Duo in action. Batman kind of hates the show undermining his mystique--well, that and the narration. And that it's suspicious someone has been on the spot to videotape them so often: nowadays I suppose it would be a YouTube show pasted together from cell phone cameras. There's a nice twist here as well, so just go find this one. The first story was reprinted in a Carmine Infantino trade, but I'm not sure if most of the rest of the Julie Schwartz tribute issues have been reprinted. If they were packaged with the original issues the covers were taken from, it would be worth getting.

Hmm. Just realized I don't think I have the Green Lantern one of these. Have to keep an eye out.
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Monday, July 22, 2019

Almost forgot about this one! (BOO!)

A couple months ago, we may have disparaged the Forgotten One's finest hour by suggesting no one read that, so of course I did have a copy in my garage! From 1977, the Eternals #13, "Astronauts" Written, drawn and edited by Jack Kirby; inks and letters by Mike Royer.

That title could apply to a few here: the Deviants are sending up some of their guys, in a massive bomb-ship, on a suicide mission to blow up the Celestials. General Kro wonders if they aren't blowing their wad too soon, but is overruled by their leader, Great Tode. Meanwhile, in America, the humans have sent a shuttle up, to take pictures of the Celestial mothership. And in the Eternals' Olympia, Sprite is suddenly regretting volunteering to stay behind on monitor duty. The rest of the Eternals were forming the Uni-Mind, except for one other: the lonely and nameless Forgetten One!

F-O had once been a mighty champion, known by many names throughout history, but Sprite says he was banished for his pride. But maybe a selfless act could make amends, and besides, "if Zuras is absent--his edict is absent." Altering some molecules here and there, Sprite sets him up with a spacesuit and a ship, and sends him to stop the Deviants.

The American astronauts are confused as hell: they have no idea what's up with the Celestial ship...or the ship coming after it...or the third ship coming after the second. The Celestial "One Above All" has a surprisingly expedient solution: "The crews are in the wrong ships..." The Deviants are moved over to the shuttle, and take a shot at the Americans before they're sent to the Forgotten One's ship. And the Forgotten One is sent to the Deviant ship, which he detonates early in a massive fireball. The Deviants, unfamiliar with the shuttle's controls, finish at least one part of their suicide mission by crashing into the ocean; and the Americans wonder how they're going to explain returning in a different ship than they left in! Well, it may be a nicer ship, but all their photos were gone as well. And lastly, as we saw before, the Celestials recover the Forgotten One, since he had lived up to his heroic legend.

I went through a ton of boxes this weekend, and this was just one of the many, many random comics I found to blog. From one disorganized pile to another...

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Friday, July 19, 2019

Is Atlantis done attacking? As done as it's gonna be...

So we started blogging Atlantis Attacks annuals June 2015, so it took me over four years to re-purchase or gather them all up; and yet this last one to go I actually had two of in my garage. At least two of...From 1989, Avengers West Coast Annual #4, "Gather Now Ye Seven Brides!" Story and pencils by John Byrne, inks by Terry Austin.

Because I've gone in absolutely no order, this is chapter twelve of fifteen: I think there was a New Mutants regular issue and a Marvel Comics Presents in there as well, but we're just focusing on the annuals and I don't think I ever had the other two. The Deviant Ghaur has gathered up and mesmerized seven unwilling brides for Set: She-Hulk, Andromeda, Dagger, the Scarlet Witch, Jean Grey, the Invisible Woman, and the believed-dead-at-the-time Storm. (This was during the Outback era for the X-Men, who appeared in the third chapter, but wouldn't appear again in this story. I don't think Storm was abducted that issue, but they didn't exactly help get her back, either! And I don't know if this was mandated by Claremont or X-Men editorial, but every time someone sees her, they're like "That looks like Storm--but she's dead!") Ghaur is annoyed to discover that Dagger was currently blind, which may be another setback: since the humans somehow refrained from slaughtering the Atlanteans, his blood sacrifice to bring back Set didn't go through. But there may be a workaround.

While the Avengers and the Thing meet and try to work out their next move, Ghaur sends the ladies on a fetch-quest for the mystic doo-dads he needs. They are all acting as themselves, except they have to obey Ghaur's orders, whether they like it or not. (And they don't!) A passing ship sees She-Hulk wrestling a giant squid thing, and calls in the Avengers. Iron Man is surprised when She-Hulk clocks him one, and has to stun her; later she rages trying to return to Ghaur. The Avengers opt to let her go, to lead them to Ghaur, which works: they fight their way through Ghaur's loyal Deviants and some of the brides, while Ghaur frantically tries to use the items and the other brides' powers to resurrect Set. Wonder Man destroys one of the doo-dads before it's fully charged, but thinking fast Ghaur has the Scarlet Witch use her probability-altering powers on it, so it would work. Beast makes a goal-line stand, trying to cram an iron gauntlet into the works, but too late! Set is reborn! Things look pretty bad for our heroes, and I'm not sure they would improve the next chapter, either. I know I threatened "you can sort them into order yourself," but here goes:

1. Silver Surfer Annual #2
2. Iron Man Annual #10
3. X-Men Annual #13
4. Amazing Spider-Man Annual #23
5. Punisher Annual #2
6. Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #9
7. Daredevil Annual #4 (It's really #5!)
8. Avengers Annual #18
9. New Mutants Annual #5
10. X-Factor Annual #4
11. Web of Spider-Man Annual #5
Twelve is this one, silly.
13. Thor Annual #14
14. Fantastic Four Annual #22

Also this issue: Wasp and She-Hulk rate the Avengers' hunks! A USAgent story, tying into last year's Evolutionary War annuals. A Firebird story, with some lunkhead Atlanteans trying to conquer the desert. And a Squadron Supreme-centric chapter of "The Saga of the Serpent Crown" that details the events just prior to their limited series.
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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Along with waiting super-impatiently for the new Nightcrawler figure--like, so impatiently. Imagine waiting in line at the DMV while on your third day quitting smoking and on hold with your mortgage lender, that's how cranky I am. Come to think of it, I have to go do two of those three things...But, I also ordered the Beta Ray Bill and Guardian figures. The Guardian looks like quite an upgrade from the old one, which I don't have; Bill maybe a little less so--the old one was great. I may have to get the new Spider-Woman as well, then I'd have most of today's book! From 2007, Omega Flight #1-5, "Alpha to Omega" Written by Michael Avon Oeming, art by Scott Kolins, colors by Brian Reber.

Hmm, technically, in this series Spider-Woman was using the name Arachne; and we saw her get roped into this previously in Ms. Marvel. This was set during "the Initiative," when all good little super-heroes had to be registered under Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Tony Stark. The plot comes from an unintended consequence of registration: unregistered super-humans were fleeing into Canada and causing trouble, including the Wrecking Crew. And the Canadian government decided they needed a new response team, since Alpha Flight was mostly currently dead: Sasquatch and Talisman may have been the only survivors at the time. While Sasquatch is guilted into taking the reins of a new team, it's too soon for Talisman...until Sasquatch gets beaten and captured by the Wrecking Crew.

Arachne and USAgent are loaners from America, since Canada thought this was largely America's fault. The current "Guardian" wasn't Canadian either, he was Michael Pointer, a mutant that had absorbed a ton of energy after the Scarlet Witch's "No More Mutants" and had been controlled and used to kill Alpha Flight. Or at least some of AF; looking at Pointer's wiki entry Snowbird had survived as well. Still, he had killed Talisman's dad Shaman, so she's not especially keen to work with him. As the Wrecking Crew unleash some demons, another hero arrives, although he wouldn't really join the team; most of them didn't even seem to learn his name: Beta Ray Bill! The demons were the same that attacked his people years ago, so he's ready to stomp the hell out of them.

So I mentioned the other day getting a whole bunch of comics from Entertainmart: I thought I grabbed this, but I got it when I went back to get long boxes. Mildly surprising, since I'll usually jump right away to get an entire limited series in one go, especially for cheaper than the cost of a single issue! This was a fun little series, but by the time it's all set up, it's over; and not much if any of it was followed up again. Pointer may have spent a bit as Guardian or Vindicator, but that might be it. A shame, since there was potential: issue after issue of USAgent complaining about Canadian life while being slowly won over by it. Arachne's daughter loving and excelling at Canadian school. The Canadian government struggling to convince heroes to join a super-hero program with a higher mortality rate than the Suicide Squad. And so on...(A Yukon Jack is mentioned, with Sasquatch noting time-travel had done his head in; but until looking him up I thought that was a joke!)

Another thought: given the glamour shot of 'Daisy' fighting USAgent, I wonder if this had gone to series, if she might not have eventually become a team member: Alpha Flight had a solid tradition of turning minor villains into heroes.
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