Friday, January 31, 2020

Not a "Dark Horse" favorite, this one. (BOO!)

Dark Horse Comics actually reprinted this one in the Chronicles of Conan #27, but we've got a tattered original today: From 1988, Conan the Barbarian #209, "Dark Horse" Plot and script by James (Priest) Owsley, plot and pencils by Val Semeiks, finishes by Alfredo Alcala.

Priest had been the book's regular writer since Conan #172 in 1985, and he was winding down his run here by wrapping up some loose ends. For one, although the Devourer of Souls had been defeated (sort of) around issue #200, his winged horse was still on the loose. Waiting for his master, the horse didn't like people any more than the Devourer did, and was taking it out on anyone that he happened upon. He had also taken over all the local horses into his herd; which puts Conan in a bind when he's ready to ride the hell out of the Kothian city-state Syreb. Although he had friends there, it was time to move on; and his relationship with warrior woman Anneka was over: she had thought Conan had cheated on her with the young former harem girl Sevante and became involved with the prince Kobe. They both felt pretty guilty about that, especially considering Conan had not cheated. Conan doesn't seem to hold a grudge, though.

Forced to face the dark horse if he wanted any steed, Conan gets himself ready for the hunt, and is impressed by the beast's cunning. After a mighty struggle, Conan manages to choke out the horse in mid-air, and is knocked out in the fall, but awakens to discover he earned the horse's respect. He considers the horse just an animal, not a devil, and was going to ride out on him...

...until the local prince's men fill the horse full of arrows! I'm pissed just reading this, so you'd think Conan would be full of murderous rage. Instead, he's merely steamed that he led the poor thing to slaughter, but does have to admit "magical beasts have no place in the world of civilized men." With a new, plain horse; Conan bids his companions farewell, and rides off to new adventures. But he would see one of them shortly...Huh, I thought the next issue was Priest's last, but no, he would be on until #213.
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Thursday, January 30, 2020

That's crazy, everyone knows Black Orchid's origin

Honestly, I'm not sure Black Orchid had a dozen appearances at that point. Did she even appear in Crisis? (Yes!) Well, she's in today's book as well: from 1985, Blue Devil Annual #1, "The Day All Hell Broke Loose" Written by Gary Cohn and Dan Mishkin, pencils by Paris Cullins, inks by Gary Martin and Bill Collins.

Lost and confused, reporter Jack Ryder finds himself being chased by the Man-Bat! Ducking into a mysterious-but-conveniently-open shop, Jack meets both Madame Xanadu, and the Phantom Stranger; who seem to have a little tiff over who has jurisdiction. That doesn't go very far, before Etrigan the Demon also shows up. Meanwhile, in California, Blue Devil is testing some new special effects robots for the upcoming Blue Devil II movie; when of course they start to rampage, courtesy of Felix Faust, who is after something in Dan Cassidy's workshop. BD tries to fight the robots without damaging them--they were $2 million a piece!--before Etrigan shows up to 'help,' smashing them to bits. After a brief encounter with Faust, Etrigan ends up with the bauble he had been looking for, and refers to it as an egg!

Meanwhile, in a cab there, Ryder tells Xanadu his portion of the story: the Creeper and Man-Bat had been taken over by Faust, but changing back into Ryder broke the control. Xanadu and Creeper free Man-Bat, while the Demon is positively drooling at the first egg, which spills out little monsters that he finds delicious. The Stranger gives an enchanted butterfly net to Blue Devil to gather up the creatures; while Xanadu does the same for the Creeper in NYC, but the creatures lump into one big one! Luckily, the Black Orchid arrives to help. Confused, Creeper asks Xanadu about her, and Xanadu dishes the previously unknown origin of the mysterious crimefighter:

The heroes join up in the desert (although, Orchid apparently arrives separately, under her own power) to stop Faust, who takes control of Blue Devil briefly. Black Orchid arrives in time to seemingly drop Faust off a mesa; and BD asks the Stranger about her, so he spills:

Those both seem familiar somehow...After Faust is finally beat, the Creeper suggests maybe they were all there for a reason, and suggests maybe they make the team-up a regular thing. It goes over like the proverbial lead balloon; but the name probably didn't help.

I guess if they had called Justice League Dark "John Constantine's Mystic Punters" that wouldn't have caught on either. Although she would have a few appearances with the Suicide Squad, it would be three more years before Black Orchid would get an origin, courtesy of Neil Gaiman.
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Wednesday, January 29, 2020


Crossbones straight-up no-sale'd his fight with Kurt, about a million posts back! And it likewise feels like a hundred years since I've read a modern comic where a bad guy gets beat up and taken to the cops or whatever. Which wouldn't work all of the time, would it? If you're a thug and get beat up by Daredevil or Spider-Man, wouldn't you just claim they went nuts and beat you up for no reason? Unless a witness testifies, what evidence would they have on you? It wouldn't always work, and you'd probably be held for a while, but still.
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Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Maybe I'm on Twitter too much lately...

After picking up the Alpha Flight box set, I've gone back and picked up of their few cheap back issues. Like today's book, where the leads don't have their traditional looks; but there's another aspect that probably would've got me to pick this up earlier! From 1998, Alpha Flight #10, "Small Sacrifices" Written by Steve Seagle, pencils by Anthony Winn, inks by Aaron Sowd.

You know the old movie cliché, where the girl takes off her glasses and she's beautiful? Heather is rockin' that one today; and it's a little more noticeable since her new Vindicator battlesuit doesn't have a mask. I don't think Puck or Mac wear theirs either this issue; but it takes both of them to hold Heather back (and Puck is, ahem, getting a little close there) from taking out Department H's shady head, General Clarke. The team was just back from a mission--another attempt to recover Wolverine for Canada--and Heather is furious at being given false information. Puck has started to notice memory lapses, since probably the whole team's collective head had been messed with; and Mac isn't even sure what he is. The junior members of the team aren't really sure if Clarke's bad or if Heather just gets worked up over everything: Murmur, Flex, Radius, and Sasquatch. Sasquatch? But isn't he...? No, Dept. H had secretly subbed in the actual Sasquatch of legend; replacing former member Walter Langkoski. (They must've given the team some explanation why Walt, traditionally one of the chattier members, wasn't anymore.)

Heather is packed and ready to quit, Puck's encouragement not withstanding, when they receive an email tip from someone in the ominously named Prometheus Division main lab. Dr. Haddock tells Heather Clarke is out of control, and that she's trying to take control of the department. If only there was somewhere to stash Alpha Flight until the right moment...The rest of the team, including the odd-looking Manbot, come charging in suddenly, since the guards had turned on them (which we don't actually see!) Dr. Haddock leads the team to their hideout...the Prometheus Pit, from the pages of the Micronauts! Still, Haddock is working with Clarke; why did they send the team to the Microverse? Just to get rid of them?

On Homeworld, the team arrives on the jungle segment "Ant Tica" and are greeted by a pair of hooded, shadowy-priest types, and a bunch of insectivord (or insectivorid?) types. While most of Alpha is uncomfortable with bug people, the hoods tell of how Baron Zebek brought civilization to the insectivords...although, the panels tell a very different story than the narration. Since Alpha Flight's arrival was prophesized, they offer to take them to meet Zebek. It takes maybe four panels to guess things aren't right there: Mac notices Zebek is suspiciously young for all the things he had allegedly done; and oh, yeah: all of the bug-people are servants, or gladiators. Radius seems into it, but he was already painted as a lout more than once this issue.

Leaving the gladiator matches in disgust, Heather and the team find Manbot about to be harvested in the Body Banks, while Mac meets cheerful zealots working on a "quarkarion" bomb for Baron Zebek. Mac doesn't figure that sounds good for Canada; but they may have some unexpected help: the last page reveal of the Micronauts! Or, um, the "Champions of the Microverse." Commander Rann, Mari, Bug, and...Dexam? I don't know if I had seen him before or since, so I don't know if that bodes well for him in the next issue! Which would feature more of Baron "Zebek," who is very obviously Karza with the serial numbers filed off. And #12 would feature a Byrne homage cover, as one of Alpha would surely die...Hopefully not Manbot: you don't get a great look at him here, but he seems like he'd fit in more with the Micros than AF.
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Monday, January 27, 2020

OK, pretty good toy haul Friday and Saturday! Starting with the new (She-)Hulk and Shang-Chi!

Next, the Walgreens exclusive Marvel Legends Stepford Cuckoo! I don't think I realized she was out yet; so yay! Three heads and a Cerebro helmet with her. I don't know if I have any plans for her character, but it keeps my string of Walgreens figures going.

Also that haul: this mini-Megatron! Someone had posted notice of these on Twitter, but so far he's the only one I found; and even that was a stroke of luck: his package was alone, on the back corner of a shelf. Very pleased to have him; I love miniature Transformers. Still tempted to buy a full case, though. The Dollar Stores also came through with multiple DC Animated DVDs, like Justice League Action and Batman vs. Robin; and a little Toy Story 4 Forky, because my son finds "Forky Asks a Question" hysterical. I don't know!

Saturday, we hit the next town over, for Doctor Doom! Doom's two per case, but moved pretty quickly here; yet I still feel like he should be more available later. That completes the Super-Skrull, although a warning: his legs were really tough to peg in! Out of the Spider-Man Demogoblin figures, I nearly picked up White Rabbit but haven't yet; and didn't see a single Vulture.

In case all that wasn't enough: I got the most recent Crisis 100-pager, a good stack of dollar comics, a Legion flight ring, a Hot Wheels Batwing, an Iron Man novel I hadn't seen before: that's a haul that's going to be tough to beat!

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Friday, January 24, 2020

For some reason, I was expecting this to be smutty...

Even though I bought it used from EntertainMart, when I got Green Lantern: Intergalactic Lawman it was shrink-wrapped. I was afraid Hal was going to go full-frontal...Anyway, it was okay? I did appreciate how Morrison is completely unafraid to take an idea or plotline another writer would give six issues and burn through it in a few pages. Although, I swear a couple plot points had been done fairly recently even, like the Darkstars or Hal supposedly going renegade.

Another pickup this week that won't really fit in the scanner? Tom Peyer and Chris Giarrusso's Hashtag: Danger. (With Randy Elliott and Andy Troy.)
It's kind of a riff on adventurer-hero types like the Challengers of the Unknown, if they weren't really heroic, mostly hated each other, and were generally thoughtless. So, lots of laughs! It's "Rated P for potty-mouthed adults," which was a bit of a surprise with Chris G.'s art. Give it a try!
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Thursday, January 23, 2020

One of the cool things about the WB's Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover is that--mild spoiler alert--Black Lightning has a seat at the table with...the Super Friends, or whatever their team is going to be, since I sincerely doubt they'll get to use the Justice League name. I think his series still has to act like he couldn't get Flash or Supergirl to help out in Freeland; but it's still far better treatment than this issue! From 1979, Justice League of America #173, "Testing of a Hero!" Written by Gerry Conway, pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Frank McLaughlin. (I don't usually post the cover, but this was a coverless copy; so I need the reminder so I don't grab it again!)

The JLA's Superman, Flash, Green Lantern, and Zatanna join Green Arrow in observing a new hero: Black Lightning! While he's impressive, Flash makes a comment about accepting a "token black" on the team, and Ollie jumps down his throat. Flash explains they shouldn't take him as a token, and he wasn't sure if he agreed with Ollie's assessment of Lightning. Green Lantern defends his old friend as not being himself, since he had lost his wife fairly recently. To settle the issue, Superman suggests they test Lightning; which they set out to do...which is kind of dicked up, but nobody asked.

For his part, Black Lightning is visiting his police contact, Inspector Henderson; who mentions the Metropolis city council was considering an ordinance against vigilantes. (Henderson's a white guy here; he's black on the show.) Perhaps over-optimistically, Lightning laughs that off, since he thinks there's no way they would pass a law that would affect Superman. Still, leaving the police station, he's jumped by ape-woman Primak and the glowing Human Starburst! While he defeats them quickly, the cops give him the hassle as becoming "a target for weirdoes!" But the cops notice something about Primak and the Starburst that you may have already guessed.

While a rat-controlling villain attacks a S.T.A.R. Labs, Black Lightning is himself attacked by the ghostly Trans-Visible Man, who runs circles around him...perhaps literally. Frustrated, Lightning takes it out on his next foe, the Swashbuckler; but stops himself from killing him. Revealing himself as Green Arrow, he apologizes and explains how they tested him; with Zatanna playing against type as Primak, GL as the Human Starburst, and the Flash as the Trans-Visible Man. Although he had passed, Lightning may be less than thrilled, and declines membership, saying he had too much to do in Suicide Slum. Disappointed, the JLA wonders if they would see him again, and they would--the next issue! Then probably next on the cover of Batman and the Outsiders #1, where he would join Batman's new team with another longtime JLA holdout, Metamorpho. They'd both sign eventually.
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Wednesday, January 22, 2020


I know there's an ad, a fairly recent one, that ran on the backs of comics for an Indiana Jones video game, with the tagline "Lucky your fists don't run out of ammo." Or close to that. Unfortunately, I didn't have it handy, but a moment of searching and...

I didn't play that, I wonder if Crossbones did? Have we seen the last of him? Not hardly, but...He's been a somewhat rare figure multiple times: way back in the Red Hulk wave, this movie version in a two-pack with Cap, with the Thunderbolts box set Satana was from. We've seen the Red Hulk one around multiple times over the years; not often enough for him to have his own tag, though. Until maybe now? He's a good villain kind of in the same way Bullseye or the Joker are, in the sense that I hate them and want to see them die. Anyway, he'll have another figure shortly, in the movie Black Widow wave, an updated comic version. I'm betting he outsells Spymaster, but they both look like the gimmies for that batch; with neither requiring anywhere near the amount of tooling the other figures needed.
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Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Buying my Super-Skrull on the installment plan.

Well, at least we have our updated Fantastic Four! I'm sure they're thrilled--

Yeah, Reed's stretchy fingers creep me out too; but if I could put my finger--so to speak--on why...

Hmm. I guess 'sausage fingers' would usually be short and stubby, but I still find the stretchy fingers gross. Is that used more often recently? I'm used to a stretchy-fist punch, and Reed has a stretch-stomp in Contest of Champions that seems pretty effective. That game seems mostly on-point as far as character models too; since I think there were other characters whose appearance in-game indicated a new figure forthcoming.

Speaking of games, the only Spider-Man figures I've seen have been the Gamerverse versions. And several of them, now. I worried that White Rabbit was going to be a pegwarmer, but not yet anyway.

I haven't posted a ton from Preacher, but this was from my first single issue: I picked up the trades up to that point, then read it in singles the rest of the run. From 1997, Preacher #27, "Gunchicks" Written by Garth Ennis, art by Steve Dillon.
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Monday, January 20, 2020

Somehow, the Ghost isn't in this one.

And neither is Iron Man 2020, despite appearances. From 2008, Marvel Adventures: Iron Man #7, "Ghost of a Chance" Written by Fred Van Lente, pencils by Graham Nolan, inks by Victor Olazaba.

Tony bails on this year's Stark International corporate retreat, since he's working on a new subterranean armor; which, oddly enough, also wouldn't really appear here! (EDIT: Honestly, I thought Tony was going to dig his way there...) Rhodey and Pepper are in the Balkans, on their way for a fun weekend of skiing, until a tractor beam pulls their plane into possibly the strictest no-fly zone in the world: Latveria! Dr. Doom contacts Tony by hologram, claiming to have "thwarted your clumsy attempt at industrial espionage" but he will pardon the "spies" if Tony gives up his "cosmic ray decontamination device." Tony has a pretty good idea why Doom wants that, so he has to try something else: can't storm the castle in regular armor, though. Instead, he opts for his new Ghost armor!

Like the more common stealth armor, this version didn't have any weapons; moreover, Ghost didn't even have boot-jets! Tony has to parachute in and sneak around, and discovers Doom keeps his subjects from receiving outside information and on a steady diet of fearmongering propaganda. In the Latverian fake-news reports, the 2020-looking Iron Man is a cruel oppressor of the workers, the tool of "robber baron Tony Stark!" I'm hoping that's fake news, anyway. Tony is nearly discovered by Kristoff--not the boy that Doom would turn into a version of himself, but a Chihuahua? Tony manages to outwit the dog, before Doom finds him, and points out one of his major foes is a woman that can literally turn invisible, so he had kind of put some prep time into that.

Doom puts Iron Man on a somewhat campy show trial, but Tony had his defense all lined up: a secret transmitter, that would start broadcasting western media all over Latveria if anything happened to him. Probably because we're running out of pages, Doom blinks, freeing everyone. Tony still has cartoons and news on every TV in the country, though. Seems like the classy thing to do would be to cancel your threat when you're out of danger, but okay. Also this issue: another Chris Giarrusso Mini-Marvels page! Man, I miss those.
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Friday, January 17, 2020

Fine, I guess I'll just read comics at home then! (Sniff!)

Ah, MST3K Live got snowed out and postponed to February 6! Guess I've got time to read a comic then. Oh, no. From 1978, Invaders #25, "The Power and the Panzers!" Written and edited by Roy Thomas, pencils by Frank Robbins, inks by Frank Springer.

Egyptian archaeologist Dr. Faoul is dead, or so he claims, since he's now the Blue Beetle er, Scarlet Scarab! Wow, I am not letting that bit go. He's kicking the tar out of Namor and the Human Torch, since he's on the side of the Nazis against the hated British. Union Jack and Spitfire both get a little huffy there, with Jack noting the Brits had been in Egypt for over a century. Namor suggests, maybe that's long enough.

As you'd expect, it doesn't take long for the Nazis to show their true colors, as they maybe kill, maybe threaten a pair of survivors in a bombed-out village. That section isn't clear, but while the Scarab turns on the Nazis, he makes it clear he'd fight the Allies too "if they tried to level a peaceful village!" Jack again takes that as a slight, like obviously the British would have a jolly good reason if they had to level said village. Meanwhile, there's more hurt feelings and racism in America, as Bucky tries to get the ailing Toro to Doctor Sabuki, only to find he has been 're-located' to an internment camp. Also, some dick bought his house "for a song."

I had to go back through the covers for this series, since I swore somebody is thrown bodily every cover. Eh, it's maybe 20% or so.

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