Friday, February 21, 2020

Tsop Eslupmi Rehtona Tey.

I have not been keeping up on DC books--although I need to get that issue of Young Justice guest-starring Warlord--but has Bart Allen been rolled back to Impulse? His runs--so to speak--as Flash and Kid Flash did not seem to take, possibly because DC seems steadfastly opposed to any legacy heroes moving up the ladder; but also because Impulse just works. There's also piles of material waiting to be mined teaming him up with some poor sap--um, lucky hero, every month. Editorial should consider a DC Comics Presents style book for him--or Brave and the Bold, if you wanted Bart to ask which one he was every month. But, today from his old book. from 1996, Impulse #17, "Quicker than the Eye" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Humberto Ramos, inks by Wayne Faucher.

Bart's mentor Max Mercury is always trying to teach him patience, often by dragging his own feet; but he might have a treat for him today: a backstage visit to Zatanna! Whose regular assistant is out, so why not use Bart? Although Zat seems to know Max's secret, she doesn't seem to realize Bart is Impulse, and Max can't explain in public. Despite having a handle on talking backwards, Bart is terrible onstage, with a frustrated Zatanna eventually blurting out "Trab--teg tsol! (EDITOR: Read Zatanna's magic spells backwards!) Bart disappears, possibly the first successful trick of the evening, so he shouldn't read too much into the thunderous applause it gets.

Bart appears in the mystic land of Kroz, which he treats like a videogame and largely walks all over its assorted dangers like giants, mummies, and Chun-Li types. Having followed him, Zatanna is having less luck, since her magic isn't working there. Or, at least it only works on Bart, but he's still able to defeat the final boss and recover the mystic power doodad; which he uses to make a pile of videogames, dress up Max as a maid, and summon dozens of rabbits for Zat before she takes it away and sends them home. The doodad doesn't work back on earth, but Bart graciously thanks Zatanna for the 'game' and offers to help clean up; she politely declines, figuring Max was waiting for him...

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Thursday, February 20, 2020

Way better than that "MARTHA!? WHY DID YOU SAY THAT NAME!?" business.

I may have read more Ghost comics than Shadow comics when this came out; but there may have been more issues of Ghost than Shadow had at that point. (No. Not even close. Super wrong.) From 1995, Ghost and the Shadow, written by Doug Moench, pencils by H. M. Baker, inks by Bernard Kolle.

It's going to be a run on .45 ammo in Arcadia, after a commando team storms a Tibetan monastery, killing the monks and stealing a large jade idol. A message is sent to the aged Harry Vincent, who then revives Lamont Cranston from suspended animation. Cranston is momentary taken aback that his old operative is so old, and then his other assistants had "passed on," including Margo Lane. The message reads, "Tulpa Arcadia," and the Shadow is on his way; after a momentary joke about where that city is. The Shadow blows up a couple people before we even get to his guest-star, Ghost, and her sister Margo: the commandos attack and kidnap Margo, leaving a message to lure her to a sleazy Club Hell.

Ghost is nearly trapped in a jade net--jade was her Kryptonite, she couldn't pass through it--but the Shadow saves her, and gives her the exposition; without eyeballing the heroine like every other man she had run across in her book. Ghost goes along with him, to rescue Margo; the name striking a chord with the Shadow. He doesn't get all Batman v. Superman about it, though. Margo is freed and the bad guys killed off, although with less shot in the face than I'd expect from either character.

This feels like it was maybe hoping for a modern Shadow relaunch, set in the present, which would've been fine: 40's or 90's, he would've been blazing away with those .45's either way. I'll have to get to the Ghost/Hellboy crossover sometime as well.
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Wednesday, February 19, 2020


Moon Knight does that fireman carry very well! But he won't have to for much longer. Not because they're getting rid of Crossbones, though. Next time!

Citizen V was a recent clearance purchase, and I may have been just as excited as Kurt to realize he had the same sword! He doesn't have the same wrist hinge that Kurt has for fencing, though--does he? No, in fact, his is even hindered a bit by his wrist wraps.
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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Is he even called "Death-Man" in this issue?

Over the course of seven hundred years doing this blog, we've looked a bit at Thor comics from before Walt Simonson rebuild the book, and we've seen a few from before Frank Miller did the same for Daredevil. The latter seeming like a longer stretch now: from 1976, Daredevil #130, "Look Out, DD--Here Comes the Death-Man!" Written and edited by Marv Wolfman, pencils by Bob Brown, inks by Klaus Janson.

Daredevil is racing across New York City, but not to stop a crime; he's late for the opening of his new legal clinic, the Storefront. He's so late, he's stripping off his DD-costume mid-swing! There's something for the ladies, although I really thought Matt would have more stylish shorts. Matt gives a business card to his longtime partner Foggy, who is a bit distracted since he's getting crushed in the polls. (He was trying to get re-elected as district attorney; and I gotta ask: has that ever been a super-big deal in NYC? It got so much page time you'd think he was running for Jesus.) Also at the little party: Matt's current girlfriend Heather Glenn, and Foggy's possibly underage sister Candace; both of whom seem more than willing to stab the other to bang Matt.

Meanwhile, somebody--or somebodies--keep burying chicken heads in Central Park. Yep, it's a voodoo story; with the skeleton-man Brother Zed telling a young widow if she can't come up with the cash, she's going to have to come up with a better sacrifice than a chicken; like her son.

More interestingly, that night Foggy Nelson appears on live TV, with a list of why he was unworthy of re-election--but Foggy was at home, watching the broadcast! And that's burying the lead: the prior story was the shocking return of both John and Robert Kennedy, as well as allegations that a past president had been kidnapped and replaced! But back to the district attorney race. Actually, no, it would barely come up the rest of this one: DD hears the voodoo cultists after they bury the kid up to his neck. Brother Zed makes a little Daredevil-effigy voodoo doll right quick, and uses it to cast a spell that kills DD in moments!

Yeah, no. DD was playing possum, all the better to hear all of Brother Zed's plan. Which wasn't much, it's pretty basic voodoo extortion. He is at a loss as to how DD resisted his hypnotic trance, but a scoffing DD isn't about to tell him. This was a rare, clean win for DD; especially since only he could've avoided Brother Zed's hypnosis: (tapping forehead gif) can't hypnotize a blind guy. The next morning, back at the Storefront, a sad Foggy shuffles in, having lost the election, to beg for a job. Matt tells him, he should've looked at the card he gave him yesterday: it already had Foggy's name on it. Matt was trying to make a friendly gesture, that Foggy would always be his partner, but it could also be read as 'yeah, I totally knew you were gonna lose, loser.'

Per the GCD, this was the first issue with a UPC barcode; and the Marvel Value a chunk of the Hulk's hair?
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Monday, February 17, 2020

If I was writing Batman and had to introduce a new villain, I sure as fun wouldn't let my editor overhype it, since that would just kill it stone dead. "Introducing Batman's most bizarre foe!" is too much. From 1978, Batman #303, "Batman's Great Identity Switch!" Written by David Vern [as David V. Reed] pencils by John Calnan, inks by Dick Giordano.

Yeah, the villain, the "Dodo Man" is a little thin: at the Gotham City Museum of Natural History, he's disguised himself as a caveman to hide in one of the exhibits and rob the place later. Batman nearly has him, but catches a stone to the side of his head, and then things get weird. Spying the Bat-Signal outside, Batman leaps into action and changes into Bruce Wayne! Confused, Commissioner Gordon recognizes him as Batman, just disguised as Bruce Wayne, for some reason. He gives Bruce a tip about a criminal coming out of hiding at a gambling den, whom Bruce kicks the crap out of before heading back to Wayne Tower for the night. (You remember that one, with the tree in the middle of it?) Alfred wonders why Bruce's suit is all torn up, and realizes he had been fighting crime "in his real identity." Bruce argues Batman is just as real as Bruce Wayne, and doesn't see what the problem is.

Alfred has an idea what the problem is, the next morning when Bruce comes out for breakfast, in full Batman costume. Somehow, the lump on his head has derailed his usual processes. Alfred consults with a doctor, without naming any names, and checks Batman's case notes about the Dodo Man...who "compulsively steals anything having to do with the extinct dodo bird." His M.O. was to immediately try again if foiled, which gives Alfred an idea. Meanwhile, Batman is getting a lot of attention out in the daytime; which hinders him from trying to go about a normal day. Still, he's excited to go into action again, following one of his bugs to the dodo exhibit in the museum, which apparently is enough to trigger him to change costumes. Beating up the Dodo Man, Batman swings home, as Alfred drives Bruce Wayne's car home: Alfred had planted the bug, to give Batman a nudge.

Not great. But the back-up story might be something: an Unsolved Case of the Batman, "If Justice Be Served" Written by Denny O'Neil, pencils by Michael Golden, inks by Jack Abel. Um, no, it's kind of a grim one too: Bruce is playing tennis with the older Angus McKame in 107 degree heat, and Angus has a heart attack and dies. That night, in the terrible neighborhood the wealthy Angus inexplicably lived in, Batman ponders the rumor that Angus kept a wall safe full of cash, as he finds reporter Marty Rail sprinting away from a seven-foot tall man. But Batman made the wrong choice: the bigger man was Buzzy, Angus's kid; and Marty had taken off. Angus had robbed the safe, but only taken documents showing Angus was a wanted criminal fifty years ago in Death Valley. Buzzy tries to stop Angus and gets shot, but manages to shove the dirty reporter out a window. Batman's 0-for-3 here, but let's the documents be taken away by the wind, leaving Angus's reputation as a decent man untouched.

Also, if I had to come up with a new Batman villain, on the, Knockoff! He's cribbed gimmicks and weapons from every bad guy in Gotham, from Mr. Freeze to the Ten-Eyed Man! So he's not just causing trouble, and the bad guys are after him too, he's also a forensic nightmare...
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Friday, February 14, 2020

Oh, Zabu's in this one.

Anyone else do this: you run across a couple books in the quarter bin, maybe tangentially related, or from around the same timeframe, and you figure they were maybe from the same collection so you had best keep them together like two old friends?, just me? Huh. Anyway, from 1972, Astonishing Tales #10, "To End in Flames!" Written by Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway, pencils by Barry (Windsor-)Smith, inks by Sal Buscema.

Ka-Zar, Zabu, and marooned stranger Paul are separated after fighting an ichthyosaur in the Savage Land's mysterious "Lost Lake" area; with Ka-Zar getting captured by German-accented men and Zabu and Paul hassled by Brits. While they try to rope up Zabu, Paul is reunited with his girl, Barbara, who tells him their leaders are "old men--ancient! and Paul--they're still fighting World War II!" The German leader--complete with monocle!--tells Ka-Zar his U-boat was hit while sinking an English destroyer, and the survivors from both ships took mates, had kids, and had been continuing the war for the last three decades. (I don't know how their "mates" felt about that, or about being taken for that matter; and wouldn't there be a long lull before the kids were old enough to do anything?)

Wait, it's even worse than it sounds! The German and British survivors are in direct contact with each other: they have a meeting to try and figure where Ka-Zar came from, and worry he might spill that the war was over, ending their power over their kids! Ka-Zar is caged up next to a "smilodectes" they had been saving for a while to keep the kids from exploring the caves, and the German and British leader launch their final, all-out attacks...why, exactly? Because it wouldn't be fair to all the soldiers that died if their kids didn't die too? Goddamn boomers. (Technically, WWII veterans wouldn't be 'boomers,' their kids would be. Any that survive this probably return to the Savage Land forty years later to try and frack it or something.)

Ka-Zar manages to get the kids' attention, and point out to them how pointless their fight is: none of them have any particular grudge with each other, which makes me wonder how much fighting they did before this. Still, the German and British leaders, virtually hand in hand, are going to throw a bomb into the volcano on the island, blowing up everyone, possibly the entire Savage Land! Again...why, exactly? They hate their kids and nature? Sure sound like boomers...They give a half-assed explanation about their little war giving their kids something to fight for, and "man cannot survive without war," but before they can knock out any more horsecrap clich├ęs Zabu stops them from dropping the bomb in volcano by knocking them both in. Zabu nearly goes in himself, but Ka-Zar pulls him out; and goes on to his next adventure with Paul and Barbara--and looking it up, 'Barbara' wouldn't have her full name revealed for a few more issues: she's Bobbi Morse, who would later become Mockingbird! Paul went on to...I dunno, an early grave?

Ka-Zar, at this point, did not have good diction; but Zabu as always is the best. I know I still have the old Toy Biz Ka-Zar and Zabu, and Zabu still holds up. Kinda wish Hasbro would knock out a new set, though; the Marvel Legends set with Shanna is stupid-expensive.
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Thursday, February 13, 2020

"Ride the Savage Land"? This doesn't even have Zabu, what the hell...

I know this book ran reprints for a long time, but this issue hadn't been reprinted stateside? Hmm, from later than I would've thought, too: from 1971, Rawhide Kid #85, "Ride the Savage Land!" Written and drawn by Larry Lieber, inks by John Tartaglione.

Although he was a known "owlhoot," the Rawhide Kid is able to get honest work riding shotgun for a stage. Grateful for the chance, Rawhide likes his boss, who is excited for the return of his son from schooling back east. The son, Tom, is an uppity snob; but he's not the biggest problem, as the stage gets robbed: the robbers had an inside man, posing as a passenger, who takes Tom hostage. Tom's sniveling gets the stage driver killed when he goes for his gun, and Rawhide and Tom are left tied up and horseless in the middle of nowhere. Once they get loose, Rawhide has no choice but to go after the robbers, since he figures if he didn't bring them in, folks would jump to the conclusion he was in on it.

Rawhide tries to cash in on his bad reputation and join the gang in order to take it down, but they aren't as dumb as he thought. Still, when Tom finally sacks up, they're able to turn the tables. I'm guessing the bad guy would be played by, I don't know, Jack Elam probably.
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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

"Kicking Guy."

What does Batroc have common with Quentin Tare--nope, not going there. Are Batroc's feet all calloused and rough, or does he baby them? Hmm. Either way, I would not care to be on the receiving end of them.
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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

I knew I remembered a scene from an issue of Dazzler, but I thought it was from the first one. Nope! From 1981, Dazzler #2, "Where Demons Fear to Dwell!" Written by Tom DeFalco, pencils by John Romita Jr, inks by Alfredo Alcala. (Pages 3, 11-13 are from an uncredited Walt Simonson! Page 12 is very much his, that got me to look that up!)

I think I conflated the first and second issues, since I thought this whole story was part of the premiere. Dazzler had outsung the Enchantress for a headlining gig at the disco Numero Uno, but was starting to feel a bit of stage fright. Still, her fans were excited to see her--namely the Thing and the Torch, the Avengers, the X-Men, and Spider-Man! It's a pretty good turnout, although the Enchantress comes back for her revenge, aging Dazzler decades in seconds! Only a frantic light-blast at the disco ball saves her. The assorted heroes get changed out of their party clothes to help out, as the Enchantress summons a pile of demons to help her.

Enchantress seems to be on the verge of summoning some giant ugly that will give her even more power, with only Dazzler close enough to stop her. Which she does. Still, it's an empty victory for her, as the disco is trashed, and she's worried she'll never get another gig when that might happen again. Still, a music publisher had liked her show, and gives her a card for an interview with an agent. The Avengers give her a lift in a quinjet, and they and the other heroes cajole the agent into giving Dazzler a chance. She gets signed...but would face Doctor Doom next month!

Yeah, so I didn't remember any of that. The only scene that made an impression? Steve Rogers getting ready to go out--and wearing his shield under his suit jacket! Even with Cap's shoulders, that would ruin the lines of his outfit.
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Monday, February 10, 2020

"Sounds like Superman is in trouble!...but, I'm already going the other way, so..."

I don't recall if Brave and the Bold ever did this, but Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-in-One used to sometimes and it would drive me up the wall. Today, Superman's team-up book pulls that stunt: from 1979, DC Comics Presents #6, "The Fantastic Fall of Green Lantern!" Written by Paul Levitz, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Francisco Chiaramonte.

A press club awards dinner honoring Clark Kent and Lois Lane is marred by Clark falling over like a clod again; but if he hadn't, several people would probably have been killed by the crash-landing Green Lantern! Superman had heard him coming, and feigned clumsiness to keep everyone out of harm's way. Barely conscious, GL gives his ring to Clark, who gets his own outfit! Lois is pretty quick to ask why, the implication being Clark shouldn't be trusted with a stapler, but 'Superman' arrives to help Clark out and take the ring. That's a projection created by the power ring, which explains what happened: Green Lantern had gotten the stuffing kicked out of him, by none other than Star Sapphire!

Sapphire had faced Supes before--in Superman #261, which I'd love to read--and isn't intimidated. She's able to get the power ring away from him in short order; then teleports away to abduct Hal, in order to learn him some manners so he'll be a proper consort for her, and she can become queen of the Zamorans! Which was contingent on getting Hal, for some reason? Supes is able to intercept Sapphire's ship on the way to Zamora, but doesn't realize he's being watched, by the Weaponers of Qward! Fighting Sapphire, Superman is able to recover the power ring; but is then zapped simultaneously by her and an unseen Weaponer, knocking him out momentarily. Even unconscious, Supes is still trying to use the ring to get the Star Sapphire gem off of Carol Ferris, but doesn't have enough will...still, that's pretty impressive.

Hal recovers the ring, since he can control it when close enough; and explains a little about how Sapphire is giving him such a hard time: he loves Carol, who doesn't want him as GL; and she is tempting as Star Sapphire--crazy/evil is hot--but that would mean the end of his Green Lantern career. GL revives Superman, who is able to get the gem and turn her back into Carol, and she passes out. Hal confesses to Superman, part of him wanted to lose to her; and takes Carol back to Coast City. As he takes off, Superman wonders how she was able to affect him so strongly, and the Weaponer strikes again! He claims his "Q-Energy" bolts could kill even be continued, next month, with a different hero: Red Tornado! Ugh, I know GL took off in a hurry, but the Weaponer hit him with a friggin' thunderbolt, he maybe should've heard that. I never like it when the team-up stories continue, with a different guest-star. If the first guest-star stays on for the second part as well, that's fine; but when they ditch out it just strikes me as rude.
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Friday, February 07, 2020

Let's see how many subplots are going against Blue Beetle this month!

The month in question being July 1987, of course: Blue Beetle #14, "The Phantom of Pago Island!" Written by Len Wein, pencils by Paris Cullins, inks by Dell Barras, plot assist by R.J.M. Lofficier.

We open with the last crossover's guest-stars, the Teen Titans, helping to repair Beetle's airship, the Bug. They had faced off against new (and all-but-forgotten) super-group the Hybrid, which had been created by the insane Mento. (That dick!) Ted Kord's friend and employee Curt Calhoun had been abducted after an industrial accident and became the Colossus-looking Prometheus; Ted swears to find and save him from the Hybrid; he would not, they wouldn't appear again in this series. (That wasn't the same Prometheus from JLA.) With no leads, Ted returns to his Chicago base, and reaffirms his vow to continue the legacy of the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett.

Meanwhile, Detective Maxwell Fisher is following the loose ends of that legacy, back to Pago Island in the Atlantic; intent on finding the truth behind Garrett's disappearance. His chartered boat is capsized, then something begins killing off the sailors one by one. Back at Kord Inc, Ted's second-in-command (and terrible, terrible love interest) Melody reads him the riot act for never being around, neglecting his duties, and missing a date. (She probably has a point, but I don't think we see the two of them happy with each other once in this series!) In France, a pharmaceutical company that had been trying to blackmail a Kord employee for a secret compound prepares to unleash a new villain, Catalyst. Another friend of Ted's, Murray Takamoto, is fired from S.T.A.R. Labs. In frustration with not being able to help his friend, Ted decides to hit up the cops for info on a missing girl that had been kidnapped under Melody's nose: the footnote points out she became a member of Hybrid, but doesn't mention which one, and Ted didn't know. Seeing the map on Fisher's desk, he realizes where he went, and that it could spell the end of his secret identity.

After a quick recap of his origin--and I don't think it was the first of the series by any means, either--Ted flies out to Pago, and finds a dying sailor, who screams to keep the beast away. Ted wonders what menace his uncle Jarvis left behind, and he finds Fisher fighting it: it's hardly a beast, it's killer robot Carapax, the Indestructible Man! The name's kind of a misnomer on both fronts; and while it's a pretty impressive robot for fighting Beetle; it also looks like Superman's going to crunch up six of them before scowling at Lex Luthor.

OK, so the Hybrid, the Beetle legacy (which would come up again in #18) and Fisher's vendetta, woes with work and Melody, Catalyst, and Murray; I'm not counting Carapax since I guess that's the main plot? Six subplots, and I know not all of them would be wrapped up before Beetle's last issue, #24.
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Thursday, February 06, 2020

His love interest was the bad guy? That never happens...oh, wait. Yes, it does.

Actually, both of his love interests might be acting up today. From 2009, Batman: Gotham After Midnight #11, written by Steve Niles, art by Kelley Jones.

This is the penultimate issue of this limited series, and the title has a double meaning: not just the city late at night, but the main villain of the piece is called Midnight. He wears a mask--hopefully that's a mask!--that looks like a horrible skull with long hair on the sides and bald on top, and also appears to have no nose? By this point in the story, Midnight had killed several people, including a cop Bats had been interested in; and controlled several villains to do his bidding: Man-Bat, Catwoman, Killer Croc, the Scarecrow, and Axeman. Axeman? I thought he might have been created for this series, but apparently he was from an old issue of Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter and Niles also used him in his Creeper reboot. (I'm fairly sure I have a quarter-bin copy of that, I'll have to keep an eye out.)

Midnight had juiced up the villains somehow, but Batman had figured out how to break the control and their augmentation; but they still fight him because they still hate him. Scarecrow seemed to be working closely with Midnight, having created a new toxin that causes not fear but hallucinations. For his trouble, Scarecrow seemingly gets his face caved in; and he, Man-Bat, Croc, and Axeman are captured. After pausing to try and get the toxin out of his system, Batman follows Midnight to a local landmark, the Van Tassel family windmill, dating back to 1761. Midnight wanted this fight, and still had the edge, as Batman hallucinates a vision of the late detective April. 'April' turns out to be Catwoman, there to get payback for Midnight controlling her, and she starts a fire that would burn down the windmill in minutes!

Catwoman then splits, leaving Batman forced to try and save Midnight, who catches alight--and unmasks to reveal April? Another hallucination...or is it? Midnight seems to burn more than the windmill, but refuses Batman's aid, saying all of Gotham should burn. "In the end, it's just tough love, Batman. I wonder if you have the heart for it?"

I haven't read all of this one, and I don't think it's as out there as Batman: Unseen, but Kelley Jones, man.
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