Tuesday, March 31, 2020

I guess it could've been another Tragg. Maybe it was a common name.

Gold Key comics were often like...a panel van with a bitchin' Frazetta airbrushed on the side...that smelled like mushrooms inside. Actually, this one isn't too bad! From 1975, Tales of Sword and Sorcery Dagar the Invincible #11, "It Lurks By Moonlight" No credits within, but per the GCD story by Don Glut, art by Jesse Santos. You would be forgiven for just calling this book "Dagar," but it had that long-ass title in the indica.

Dagar was Gold Key's barbarian hero, because every company needed one. At least one: this issue actually features a so-rare-I-didn't-think-it-existed bit of cross-title continuity with Gold Key's other barbarian hero, Tragg and the Sky Gods. Glut and Santos had created both Tragg and Dagar, and established the Neanderthal-times Tragg as an ancestor of the sword-and-sorcery era Dagar. I could've sworn I read a Tragg issue lately: I feel like he was a thoughtful guy for his time, while Dagar is a bit of a grumpy brute. In fact, in flashback this issue we see Tragg inventing a primitive mini-Stonehenge calendar. Which a blobby monster takes up residence in later, and the local peasantry create a cult around it and make yearly sacrifices to it. The head cultist isn't thrilled about the sacrifices, but worries if they don't the monster will rise up and eat them all. Yeah, he says he isn't thrilled, but when you make culty little outfits with hoods...

Not terrible, but I don't know what Dagar's hook was supposed to be, to try and differentiate him from other barbarian comics. I mean, Tragg had some sci-fi flavor, and Dagar had...? Ah, well. Sometimes vanilla still hits the spot.
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Monday, March 30, 2020

Somebody betrays the Silver Surfer? I'm sorry, that just does not happen.

If she had been presented as more of a love interest, then yeah, kind of a given; but he was maybe taken at the time: from 1998, Silver Surfer #1/2, "Suddenly...Sympira!" Story by Tom DeFalco, pencils by Ariel Olivetti, inks by Pier Brito.

The GCD notes this story takes place between "story pages 20-22 of Silver Surfer (Marvel, 1987 series) #138." Um, okay. I have no current recollection of that one, so I don't know if it had to be slotted in there because of events at the end of the issue, but it's hardly required reading. The Surfer may be trying to seem his usual cool, detached self; but "his casual demeanor is a colossal sham!" The believed-dead Ben Grimm had returned from the Heroes Reborn universe, and the Surfer didn't know what that meant for his relationship with Alicia Masters. He had done the right thing, and given them time to themselves to figure it out; and was of course regretting that decision with every fiber of his being. Still, so often that's how you know you did the right thing, because it sucks and you hate it.

Luckily, space is distracting! The Surfer senses a mysterious psychic cry, and finds a bizarre, slimy cocoon within the corona of a distant sun. Rescuing it, he meets the exotic Sympira, an alien scientist who had tried to save her homeworld from a nova with a "solar enervator," buying time for her people to escape. When the star finally blew, she tried to escape in a pod that put her in suspended animation; so she didn't know if her people had escaped, or even how long it had been. Still, the whole incident had given her cosmic-like powers, so that's neat, huh? Sympira and the Surfer explore, searching, and talking; as the Surfer tells her of the foes he had recently faced (not a memorable bunch, excluding the Joker-looking Mephisto) and his feelings for Alicia.

Finding the world her people were to colonize, Sympira is immediately attacked: while it had been centuries, they still remembered her as the Great Destroyer. Not because she had failed, because she had succeeded: she had caused the nova, to give herself powers. That did seem a little convenient, but it's also something that happens in these comics! Sympira admits--with a really out of place "Oookay, so maybe I did go a little overboard"--that she sacrificed her world and a lot of its inhabitants, but now she could build them a better future. A noble and pure goal, much more so than the Surfer; who had caused untold destruction with Galactus, and in Sympira's eyes he could be doing more for earth than just pining over Alicia. It almost feels like she hit a nerve, like he might hesitate, but no: saving a child, the Surfer knows Sympira doesn't deserve her power, and takes it away. He leaves her to face justice at the hands of her people, which might be a straight lynching right there, but he heads back to see Alicia again.

I thought this one was a little slight...but, thinking about it, that's probably the right thing to do for one of those Wizard mail-in books. You don't want to have a vital piece of storyline in one of those; it isn't fair to everyone not reading Wizard at the time. Although, it feels like everyone was reading Wizard back then; this #1/2 could have better circulation than the Surfer's regular comic at the time! I got this copy from a dollar bin, although it has a tag for being seven bucks at some point. I really don't think I mailed in for them very often, but I have picked up more than a few over the years.
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Friday, March 27, 2020

This isn't even on Disney+, what the hell...

I know a lot of people are probably inside right now and some may feel like they've watched everything on Disney+, but hopefully that's an exaggeration. Actually, everyone probably watches the same stuff and doesn't go that deeply into it. Prior to release, it seemed like Disney was throwing reams of stuff on there no one remembered or ever heard of, but they didn't completely empty the vault: I searched for this a minute ago, and no dice. From 1964, Walt Disney's A Tiger Walks, per the GCD no story credit, art by Warren Tufts.

This was a movie adaption of a 1964 film with Brian Keith and Vera Miles, based on a 1961 novel by Ian Niall. I can't say on the other two, but the comic features surprisingly little tiger! A circus truck containing tigers makes a stop in the "small back-country village of Scotia" with a flat tire. While waiting for a replacement, one of the tiger's handlers decides to prove he's not afraid of the cat by poking it, and the tiger gets out. Although the sheriff's daughter is cornered by the tiger, it doesn't attack, but does escape into the hills. The mean handler grabs a shotgun from a local and gives chase, perhaps not hearing said local's warning that he had fired the only shot, which probably saves the tiger and dooms the handler.

The sheriff was in the middle of a surprisingly contentious re-election campaign, with the governor trying to push him out and install his own man. They disagree about how to handle the tiger, the issue made worse by the daughter appearing on TV in favor of trying to save it. Her pleas serve as an unintended fundraiser for the tiger, with viewers mailing in cash to go towards "a nice zoo instead of a cage." That...that's still a cage, albeit probably better conditions and more humane. Maybe not what some might see as ideal, but for the time I think "don't immediately kill it" would have been an extremely liberal viewpoint. The governor sends in the national guard, to wander around in the fog looking for it, which results in a character actor getting shot. The likenesses aren't amazing in this one, but got close enough for Arthur Hunnicutt to get that "I've seen him in other stuff" feeling.

Not wanting to let his little girl down, the sheriff goes in with a tranquilizer dart to capture the tiger, even though the national guard had been trying to herd it with mortar fire. The tiger is captured and reunited with its cubs in what looks like a very nice zoo...for the sixties...and the sheriff wins election by a landslide, so all's swell that ends swell. I feel like Disney made about 14 films a year in the sixties and early seventies with nature themes not unlike this one, and when I was younger they would just destroy me. I would've bawled my goddamn head off if I thought the tiger was gonna get hurt. Fortunately, now I'm a man, older, wiser, deader inside...
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Thursday, March 26, 2020

I hadn't read it before, but I got almost an entire run of Batman: Death and the Maidens from...where did I get that? Comic show? I had been sitting on it for a bit, and finally got around to reading it...and was a bit disappointed. Klaus Janson does a helluva job: it took me a long time to get him. He did a Star Wars Annual in 1983 I don't think I appreciated at the time. But, I've heard it said, everything you remember liking about Frank Miller's Daredevil? Yeah, that was Klaus Janson. Anyway, story-wise, Death and the Maidens I think introduces Nyssa al Ghul, who seems reasonable for maybe 30 seconds before becoming a complete psycho. Batman spends a good chunk of the series talking to, or hallucinating talking to, his dead parents; who are genuinely nonplussed by his career choices. Sure, they probably wanted him to be a doctor, or happy, or not basically living in a cave; but they are resolutely not impressed. And it pretty much breaks Ra's al Ghul for me, as he worked with Hitler during World War II. He didn't have anything against the Jews, or gypsies, or anyone else the Nazis put in camps; but he wanted to wipe out huge chunks of humanity and hadda start somewhere. And here we cross the line into "not fun at all," and I don't want to read another comic with Ra's, unless it involves him getting punched in the dick and set on fire.

Which doesn't happen in today's book: from 2014, Batman and Ra's al Ghul #32, "The Hunt for Robin: Dark of the Son" Written by Peter J. Tomasi, pencils by Patrick Gleason, inks by Mick Gray.

This wasn't the 32nd issue in Bats and Ra's's wacky adventures: Damian Wayne had been killed in 2013's Batman Incorporated #8, which I wouldn't have known if not for a spoiler-filled editorial at the end of the issue. With Robin gone since issue #18, it had been "Batman and" whoever since, but that was almost over. Batman and Frankenstein face off against R'as al Ghul in Nanda Parbat, where R'as intends to use a special pit and a Macguffin crystal to bring Damian (and maybe Talia?) back to life. Or turn them into soulless monsters. Eh, either or.

Batman actually has Damian's little coffin--and it has little bat-ears, for some reason--but can't clear out in time. Ra's tells him, stand in the way of bringing back his grandson, and he'll go after Alfred, "your bat disciples," Gotham, everyone. Batman counters: touch my son's body again, I'll kill you for good. Frankenstein offers to just cut Ra's in half for him, but this is long past personal now. It doesn't go the distance, though: Batman is seemingly on the verge of gouging Ra's's eyes out of his skull, when they're interrupted by the sudden appearance of a boom tube! Well, yeah, I guess those would always be sudden, wouldn't they. It's a delegation from Apokolips, led by...Glorious Godfrey? He looks more like Vermin Vunderbar here, with a military fetish uniform.

This was ramping up to a Robin-returns event, but not terrible. Could've done with more Ra's-getting-punched action, though.
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Wednesday, March 25, 2020


Hopefully, Dirk Anger's "Secret Murderteam" seems familiar somehow. I would be the worst choice in the world to write it, but I actually have a pitch for a Typhoid Mary series, but we'll have to wait on that.

In current Marvel comic continuity, I don't think there is a S.H.I.E.L.D. Or maybe it's trying to be really secret. It's not at all intentional, but that would tie into current events, wouldn't it? Like some asshole declined to rebuild or fund it, or diverted the funds somewhere. I've mentioned this regarding the Hulkbuster equipment; but there is probably story potential in the military-industrial complex and the gold rush something like S.H.I.E.L.D. would be for them.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

I didn't mail in for them very often, but Wizard used to have a side hustle of #0 issues, or #1/2, or whatever: buy the magazine, mail in three bucks or so for a 'collectable' about 30,000 other people ordered. Other times, though, the #0 issues weren't mail in but more of a promo, included with the magazine, which I believe this one is: from 1999, X-51 #0, "A Mere Technicality" Written by Michael Higgins and Karl Bollers, pencils by Pascual Ferry, inks by Andrew Pepoy.

This was intended to hype up the upcoming series, the return of Machine Man after...I wanna say his last appearance was Iron Man Annual #11 in 1990, but he probably appeared in the background of something like West Coast Avengers or an eight-pager in Marvel Comics Presents. It's not hyped up or anything, but this would be the last appearance (for some time, anyway) of his traditional look: in his first issue, he would get a new look that resembled Robocop without his facemask/helmet, but retaining some purple highlights. It didn't catch on.

Anyway, this issue, while apparently enjoying a snifter of brandy the size of her head with her boss, Tessa recaps Machine Man's history to Sebastian Shaw. Shaw is after him because a signal that seemed to indicate he was made with his technology, and he wants to figure out how he got it. Tessa rolls the footage of some Hellfire Club goons--in their beloved, classic outfits--trying to bring the robot down and failing. Shaw intends to reclaim his tech, but seems more offended at his identity of Aaron Stack. This all seems like a perfectly reasonable set-up for the series...except, for the life of me, I can't recall if Shaw or Tessa appear in it? Maybe they farmed the job out to Mystique and her Brotherhood, since they would appear the first two issues.
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Monday, March 23, 2020


I wouldn't usually do two in a row, but this one's topical! Do not take any coronavirus info from these guys, stay home and stay safe!

Spider-Man would totally start a podcast while quarantined--can he even afford Netflix? Or internet? Would he be in an unrealistically large but accurately crappy apartment with nothing? Seriously, he's broke all the time, and the way writers crap on him the only food he's going to have is unfrosted shredded wheat, and the milk in the fridge will be a week bad already.

In proper continuity, I'm sure all these guys know or know of each other, but have never teamed up specifically. I'm sure they have a message board or something to badmouth Spidey and plan schemes. I made the below to outline my characterization for them, which is probably not 100% accurate, but close enough.

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Friday, March 20, 2020


Sadly, I don't have enough set pieces to make an Old Country Buffet for Shocker, Molten Man, and the rest to demolish. I think it's Old Country Buffet in this neck of the woods; as opposed to say Golden Corral. Ah, I say that, and it very well could be a Golden Corral I'm driving past all the time. There was one that was closed the next town over, which I think was more the result of the landlords trying to play hardball, than the citizens eating it out of business. I think. You know, I don't have a lick of evidence either way.

Last time Shocker said they were going to pick up White Rabbit, and I hadn't yet but have since. We'll have to see if I have another strip with these guys later...
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Thursday, March 19, 2020

Really should invest in a welcome wagon at this point.

Duhr. I was thinking Klaw had pulled this one before, but I was thinking of Batroc. Still, all sorts show up on earth and just team up with whoever. Like today's book! From 1993, Fantastic Four #377, "If This Be War--!" Story and plot by Tom DeFalco, pencils and plot by Paul Ryan, inks by Dan Bulanadi.

This issue feels a bit frantic, with a number of plots colliding at once. Franklin Richards had been taken to the future by his grandfather (and possible Kang) Nathaniel, only to return seconds later as a battle-hardened teenager, having spent years fighting in a sci-fi future. Susan is furious, and doesn't believe him; while Reed has to acknowledge the possibility; and Franklin glumly realizes his folks are just like he remembers them: at each other's throats. Ben is the most stable of the team at the moment, and he was wearing that bucket helmet to keep his Wolverine-slashed face together. Johnny was in jail, for burning down Empire State University in #371; which is noted with a bit of glee by Klaw.

Klaw is in town to hassle the Torch and the FF, but he just happens to be there when Huntara, Warrior Princess of Elsewhen, arrives out of nowhere intent on destroying the four. Which four is unclear: she could be after the Beatles for all we find out here; but Klaw convinces her to team-up against the FF just like that. Meanwhile, in orbit, Paibok the Power Skrull and Devos the Devastator are also watching the Torch and preparing to attack. We get a couple pages for the origin of Devos, a quick check on pregnant Skrull Lyja, about three panels of reconciliation between Reed and Sue, and then--deep breath:

Ben still doesn't trust former She-Thing/current Ms. Marvel Sharon Ventura after he got cured by Dr. Doom, who is sending a probe from Latveria in search of beings of power...to probably klonk over the head with a lead pipe and steal said power. J.Jonah Jameson and Peter Parker are outside the Torch's trial, and while JJJ is tickled pink to see a "costumed freak! get his, he may have a mild stroke when Silver Sable hands him her bill for bringing Johnny in, then going after Venom. The Sandman's also there with Silver, in solidarity with Ben Grimm; and of course Matt Murdock is Johnny's attorney. Was She-Hulk busy? Well, they probably didn't want two green girls in the same scene; as Lyja throws a lot of glare at "pretty lady" Bridget O'Neil, whose life Johnny had saved before burning down ESU. As Matt begins his opening argument, Paibok and Devos smash in one end of the courtroom--Matt thinks they're trying to provoke the Torch into doing something rash and ruining his case, but they don't seem like legal scholars, they just want to kill them. Klaw and Huntara smash in the other side of the courthouse; ready to face "the Four who must be destroyed!"

I think I've seen Huntara in a fight scene or two later, but I don't think I have the slightest idea what her deal was, or if the Fantastic Four actually was the Four she was looking for. But she wasn't even the most interesting alien barbarian princess-type the team knew; she was no Thundra.
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Wednesday, March 18, 2020


This was a great excuse to re-read Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen's classic Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. I have the singles; the trades seem a little spendy now, unless your local shop happens to have one handy. Likewise, the Nick Fury Marvel Legend with the Dirk Anger head will run you a bit now: we got him back in July 2016, and he's had the Dirk Anger head on pretty much ever since. I don't recall if we ever used him in a strip until now, so we'll see how it goes...

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