Thursday, April 30, 2020

I made a metric asston of fun of Marvel's ongoing, and seemingly Sisyphean, attempts to put the Inhumans over, often at the expense of the X-Men. But every once in a while I'd read a random issue that had something to it. Like today's book! From 2016, the Uncanny Inhumans #8, "The Torch and the Queen" Written by Charles Soule, pencils by Kev Walker, inks by Scott Hanna. Cover by
Mahmud Asrar, which hadn't been loaded to the GCD until I did it! That's never encouraging...

Attempting to evacuate a burning building, Johnny Storm gets trapped trying to shore up the foundation, and Medusa goes in after him. She manages to keep them from getting squashed, but they both end up trapped. (Although she's doing it with her hair, it's reminiscent of the Hulk holding up the mountain in the original Secret Wars!) Medusa asks Johnny to talk to her, distract her from holding the weight of a collapsing building, but then blurts out that they should stop seeing each other. In flashbacks, we see the start of their new relationship: with Sue and Reed gone after Secret Wars (and Ben may have gone into space as well) Johnny finds himself adrift. As his date goes down spectacularly in flames--literally--Medusa, who happened to be in the same restaurant catching up with She-Hulk, opts to give Johnny some purpose. She needed a liaison between the human world and New Attilan, and Johnny needed something to do. He turns out to be a good choice, and the two have time to get to know each other: while they had known each other for years, she thought of Johnny as that shallow hothead dating her sister; while Johnny saw her as a "cold fish." Her assessment is pretty dead on, but Johnny is starting to realize there's more to her.

Medusa becomes attracted to Johnny, since he doesn't have the weight of the world on his shoulders. Still, after a visit from Crystal, Medusa had thought their relationship would run its course before she returned; and worries that as Queen of the Inhumans, her job was to manipulate everyone: did she have feelings for Johnny, or was she using him? Johnny isn't hurt. He feels like Medusa saved his life, and puts his back into helping lift the building. He knows he can't lift her weight--but he can help make it lighter for her. They embrace as the building crumbles, not to their deaths, but as Crystal saves them! Medusa tries to say it isn't what it looks like, but Johnny confesses " is."

I found myself really pulling for them! Or at least hoping Johnny wouldn't be the one to wreck it. Pretty sure a lot of this one would end up rolled back, sadly. Oddly, I had a couple other issues of this series, which involved Maximus the Mad just living his best life, wrecking crap.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2020


No disrespect to Carol, but Kurt has nothing but respect for his captain, fellow Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars veteran Monica Rambeau! Oh, according to Wikipedia, she's Spectrum now. Not even Doctor or Captain Spectrum...Of course we don't see Kurt and Monica interact in the mini-series; but let's be honest, is that series remembered for character bits or conversation?

There's no way Ellis or Immonen would ever come back for more Nextwave: that just doesn't feel like something they'd do. I'd say Marvel's at least ten years out from anyone else trying to use him; rough estimate based on copyright laws and how long they let Howard the Duck or Elektra lie fallow.

Just like I thought it would be easier to come up with crazy Nextwave sounding nonsense, I had a really hard time trying to come up with a horse's name that sounded like a Kentucky Derby winner. I looked up a list, and most of them were dumb but not memorably dumb?
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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

I have three of the four, so I'm sure I'll find the trade next.

We looked at J for Jenny some time back, and I mentioned I'd be keeping an eye out for Archangels, but instead I found two others! Today we have from 2003, War Story: Condors, written by Garth Ennis, art by Carlos Ezquerra.

This one is set during the third year of the Spanish Civil War, a historical period I remember getting exactly zero coverage in any history classes I've ever taken. (I've never been a history major, but still.) During a battle, four soldiers separated from their units take shelter from the shelling in a foxhole: a German pilot, an Irish fascist, an English socialist, and a Spanish Republican. Without weapons, or knowing which side was even winning, they're left with an uneasy truce; and pass the time with their stories.

The German, growing up in brutal poverty post-World War I, had no desire to become a soldier after his father was left an armless wreck; but takes to flying, something only possible for him in the "new Germany." Apolitical, he turns a blind eye to Hitler and Germany's atrocities, only wanting to fly: to his credit, he does seem to fight as fairly as he could. The Englishman had lost his father in WWI, and swore if he ever went to war, it would be for something good: he takes to Marxism, and finds that being a soldier " not a million miles away from socialism."

The Irishman, a murderous triggerman, might have the most interesting story: he was part of the Irish Brigade, volunteers fighting for the church and against communism. They were not the most effective fighting force in history, and are not remembered fondly. The Spaniard was a survivor of Guernica, when the Luftwaffe bombed the city. Historical accounts vary, but the rendition here is terrifying. He describes the other three as vultures in his country, or condors.

Later that night, when the shelling stops, the men go their separate ways, with the Spaniard noting "I guarantee you this: not one of us has learned a single thing today." They can't even change each others' minds, let alone change the world. Each takes off running...except the Irishman, who grabs a gun and hops back in the hole. Another bad decision in a lifetime full of them. (Ennis has taken the piss out of the Irish many, many times over the course of his career.) The story ends with an accounting of the men's fates, which are about as bleak as you'd expect. This one felt dark, even for Ennis; and also features the 10th Annual Wizard Fan Award ballot, which seems about as out of place as a porn star in a convent.
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Monday, April 27, 2020

If I crash-landed crotch first, I think I'd hold a grudge.

Also, I couldn't say why he's got a face like a terrier, but whatever. From 2016, Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad April Fools' Special #1, "Evil Anonymous" Written by Rob Williams, pencils by Jim Lee and Sean "Cheeks" Galloway; inks by Scott Williams, Sandra Hope, Richard Friend, and Sean "Cheeks" Galloway.

I got this (cheap, of course!) with a big order of comics from Midtown Comics, and I got the more-cartoony Galloway cover. I thought it would be a larf, wacky Harley hijinks, and there are some; but overall it's a bit darker. A bored and depressed Harley wants a change of direction, and gets one delivered to her door in a sequence resembling scenes from the Exorcist. It's a card and a file for "Evil Anonymous," like Alcoholics Anonymous for baddies. Harl wonders if that's why she became, as she puts it, "colorful," to walk like them, talk like them, in order to help them. Hmm, now who's a super-villain that could use her help? Man-Bat is the unlucky first recipient of Harley's "treatment," picked because he didn't look like a happy camper. Jumping on his back as he flies through Gotham, seemingly minding his own business, Harley crashes Man-Bat in an alley: she takes a pretty good bump on the head, but Man-Bat takes a worse one, reverting back to Kirk Langstrom and looking kind of dead. But, he's not a bat anymore, so yay, he's cured!

Probably concussed, as denoted by the art changing from Jim Lee to Sean Galloway, Harl is on the run from the cops and gets a lift from a mysterious--and noticeably large--benefactor. She wakes up, dressed as a psychiatrist, with an office to match. The next patient for Evil Anonymous arrives, Killer Moth, and Harley decides she can combine her two lives, cure super-villains, get a Nobel Peace Prize, then take over as president of the world. Well, it's no more grandiose than any of Lex Luthor's plans, I guess. She doesn't really question where her patients are coming from, until Poison Ivy suggests she not only "needs the bad," someone set this up with her in mind. In turn, Harley sets Killer Moth up with the next of "the Evil Anonymous Twelve Steps," namely helping someone else. Unfortunately for him, the Scarecrow "isn't quite ready to embrace change," but Harl is able to pick up a tank full of fear gas, which she uses on her patients, since she had learned all their secrets, like where their loot was. Kind of a dick move, and one that gets squashed immediately, by the larger-than-life arrival of the Justice League!

Although furious at the "bullies," Harley doesn't stand a chance, and is quickly straitjacketed up by Green Lantern. She does still give Batman a solid headbutt, though. As she loses consciousness, she tries to ask her subconscious inner voice, hey, who did set all this up, anyway? Amanda Waller, of course; who has Harl strapped into a pretty elaborate looking brainwashing set-up. Worse, apparently separate from that, a Joker hallucination advises Harley that she's going to want to get onboard with whatever Waller has planned, it might be a hoot. Was it all a dream? Does it matter? An off-panel member of the Squad (probably Captain Boomerang) chastises Waller for this particularly egregious violation of personal liberties, but Waller needed Harley motivated for what was coming...
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Friday, April 24, 2020

The lead doesn't live up to the cover, but I'm not sure it could.

From 2008, Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #40, "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste" Written by Chris Eliopoulos, art by Scott Koblish; "The Image is the Thing" Written by Joe Carmagna, pencils by Matteo Lolli, inks by Christian Della Vecchi, and a Mini Marvels strip from Chris Giarrusso.

The lead story guest-stars Iron Man, with Pepper and Rhodey cameos; and the bad guy's the Mad Thinker, who may have finally cracked mass-production on his androids: he has three of his Awesome Androids, and the bulletheaded other model seems familiar too. Infiltrating a science exhibition, the Thinker drains Reed's brains to power his supercomputer. Sue and Iron Man talk a big game, but get manhandled by the androids until Reed takes over the computer. The Thinker skips out in the end, since he was broadcasting to a robot duplicate, and Reed reinstalls himself in his body.

Meanwhile, back at the Baxter Building, Ben gets a lecture from an image consultant, since sales are down on Thing merch. To soften his image, Ben has to take a kid in the Big Brother program, and an incredulous Torch bets that Ben loses the kid before the end of the day. Well, of course, they're in the Baxter Building, possibly the most dangerous place for anyone, anywhere, ever. In short order, a giant blob is attacking the city; as Ben tries to reassure his charge that he's not in trouble.

Also this issue: more Skrull tomfoolery from Chris Giarrusso. He's great!

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

We've looked at a ton of action figures from video games I don't play, so how about a comic tie-in from a video game I don't play? From 2015, Batman: Arkham Knight #9, featuring "Suicide Blues, Part 2 of 2" Written by Peter J. Tomasi, pencils by Ig Guara and Viktor Bogdanovic, inks by Julio Ferreira and Richard Friend; and "Burning the Days, part 1 of 2" Written by Tomasi, pencils by Bogdanovic, inks by Friend.

This was the ninth issue of...sigh..."the official prequel to the Arkham Trilogy finale." (Pinches bridge of nose) I swear to god sometimes, comics...So, we're more than midstream on this one, but in the opener, Batman, Deadshot, and a remarkably surly Commissioner Gordon battle a creature that looks like Metamorpho on the cover, but more Clayface-like within. Deadshot's costume is just dire, though. I don't know if he has it in the game and the blame should fall there; but still. The fight goes a little long when Gordon pistol-whips Deadshot before he can help Batman, and later when Deadshot claims to be "on the side of the angels this time!" through his work for Amanda Waller, Gordon isn't having that either and drops him like oil prices. (Too soon?)

After Gordon and Waller have a bit of a territorial-pissing contest (in which he mentions Boomerang was dead) he gets a call to the roof, where Batman has just returned the missing Bruce Wayne! Nightwing had played Batman there, but then has to take off in search of his second stolen motorcycle that month, possibly both courtesy of the mysterious Arkham Knight. Best guess, but wasn't it Jason?

I see what they were going for, but I don't like that Batman-kick panel; that guy just looks confused. In the second story, a year after his escape from Arkham, Calendar Man prepares to make his dramatic return. Batman beats up some of his former henchmen looking for him, and Barbara has a date--with Tim Drake? It's just tacos and a movie, but feels just wrong, and follow my math: it's like a word problem for your homeschooled nerds! Barbara was a few years older than Dick--at least three, arguably more. Dick was maybe five years older than Jason, and Jason was at least two or three years older than Tim. But the video game is its own thing, so whatever.

Back when Hastings closed, I didn't spring for the Dr. Harleen Quinzel/Electocutioner/Talia 3-pack, because they would've been a bit tall. Not quite kicking myself on that one, but if they fell in my lap, I guess...
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Wednesday, April 22, 2020


You ever look back at your life, and see a stretch where you absolutely cannot fathom what you were thinking, what was happening, how? I have at least four I can think of...And I suspect that is what Nextwave feels like for its members. Just...why? It made sense at the time...
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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

For the last few years, I'm pretty sure I've spent more on DC figures, than I have on new DC comics. Now that McFarlane has the license, those numbers might zero out, but I still end up with random issues here and there. Like this one! From 2013, Catwoman #14, "To Skin a Cat" Written by Ann Nocenti, pencils by Rafa Sandoval, inks by Jordi Tarragona.

This is a crossover issue, with the Death of the Family event. What was that one about...23 issues? At like three bucks a pop? ($69. Niiiice.) The one where the Joker's face had fallen off and he was wearing it strapped on with a belt. Oh, and he was going to kill off all of Batman's friends and allies. Does Catwoman qualify? Depends on when you ask, and right this second, not really? The Joker runs Selina through a series of deathtraps and embarrassments, arguing she should spurn Bats, break his heart and make him stronger. His 'jokes' are all on the theme of 'to skin a cat,' like tearing her apart by centrifugal force in a jacked-up carnival ride, or by cheating her at strip poker. Catwoman spends a surprising amount of this issue in various stages of undress; as first her costume is shredded, then Joker gives her a new one that doesn't squeak when she walks, but is booby-trapped with spicy-catnip scented "rigor mortis paint" and what appears to be Bat temporary tattoos.

Even though he has every opportunity to kill Catwoman, the Joker refrains, possibly because he figures she'll hurt Batman more alive in the long run. Catwoman, on the other hand, realizes Joker's the one that loves Batman. In a super-unhealthy way. She also burns him with "you can't even smile. All you can do is unzip your face." And that's...pretty much that? I usually love Nocenti, but she couldn't pull much good out of this crossover.
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Monday, April 20, 2020

Super generic title, but I suppose "Deathbird and Bishop's Space Alternate Future Dance Party Variety Show" wouldn't fit on the cover.

I know they only had one more year of 2000 sounding all futurey, but then why is this set in 2018? Ah, that's probably the least of our worries. From 1999, Team X 2000 #1 "Paradox Lost!" Written by Sean Ruffner and D. G. Chichester (as A. Smithee), pencils by Kevin Lau, inks by Sean Parsons, Marlo Alquiza, and Caleb Salstrom (as Cabin Boy).

We had seen Chichester take his name off an issue of Daredevil some time back, and he does the same here. I thought it started alright, catching up with Bishop and Deathbird, who had been lost in space since getting left behind around Uncanny X-Men #344. Deathbird has some rather evocative dream imagery, which Bishop writes off as space madness, since they've been trapped in a small shuttle for some time. This has led to them becoming somewhat more familiar than Bishop would care for, as he tries to resist her in more ways than one.

After they go through an unexpected Shi'ar jumpgate, then things go off the rails; as they're taken to the futuristic year...2018. An arguably crappier 2018 than the one we actually got, as the Shi'ar have incorporated earth into their new empire, with new empress Alanna Nermani, daughter of Lilandra and Charles Xavier. Your ragtag band of freedom fighters is all that stands between...hmm. Xavier, a lot of heroes, and possibly some people are dead already, so maybe their fight is mostly for revenge? Deathbird defeats her niece in the end, but lets her live, which means peace, somehow. Cable helps Bishop and Deathbird back to their own time, and asks Doctor Doom if they will be on the same side going forward. Doom is too classy to laugh right in his stupid face.

The art here is way more manga-style than usual; probably more so than any since Joe Madureira had left Marvel. And he drew that last one with Bishop and Deathbird, so there's almost some continuity to that. Did Marvel ever really embrace the manga-style? I feel like no, but I could be misremembering...or forgetting books like this.
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Friday, April 17, 2020

I mentioned having this one back when we looked at the second annual, but lucked into a new copy of this one recently. From 1982, ROM Annual #1, featuring "It Came From Beyond the Stars" Written by Bill Mantlo, plot assist by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Pat Broderick--or possibly Jackson Guice? Inks by Mike Gustovich. And "Traitor!" Written by Steven Grant, pencils by Greg LaRocque, inks by Rich Magyar.

I was going to hype up the art on the lead story, which per the GCD may not have been Broderick but instead 'ghosted' by Jackson Guice. Rom faces another alien invader, Stardust; who does suck the life out of some Dire Wraiths for him, but also out of some kids. Rom has to fight Stardust, the locals that are afraid of him, and the Dire Wraiths to save the kids. In kind of a Jesus-like fashion, too: one of the children describes "a great light, and a face so noble, so kind, smiling down on me from a zillion miles away!" I don't know if this is the first mention of the "long, black hair" Rom had as a human. Seriously, he showed up (possibly last?) at Rick Jones's wedding in Incredible Hulk #418, and he looked like a friendlier Conan in a nice suit.

In the back-up story, Rom is betrayed by another Spaceknight, Gloriole--stop laughing! It means 'halo,' you perverts! Actually, there's a bit of clever design there, as he has halo-like rings on his wrists. Gloriole wanted to gain the mystic secrets of the Dire Wraiths in order to fight them, and they wanted Rom in exchange; he realizes his mistake too late. Still, he does get that cool asteroid-grave like Captain Marvel or a dead Legionnaire, so...
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Thursday, April 16, 2020

Turning everything from old Flash comics on its head. Including the readability!

Old Flash comics were somewhat bloodless affairs sometimes; but today's book has buckets of blood! Almost literally! From 2017, Flash #31, "Bloodwork! Finale" Written by Joshua Williamson, art by Neil Googe and Gus Vazquez. (I don't usually scan the covers, but I had to load this Howard Porter variant to the GCD!)

Bloodwork had a very quick turnaround from his first appearances to the Flash TV show, but he's hardly a major baddie in both: on the show, he was the villain for the sixth season but wrapped up before the big Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover. A hemophiliac who experimented with stolen meta-human blood in an attempt to cure himself, Bloodwork was now on a bloody rampage all over Central City. Well, it's bloody in the sense he's shooting tendrils of blood everywhere--it looks more like Carnage than liquid--and bloodless in the sense that he gets wrapped up with nobody killed. In fact, that nearly gets him off, as he claims to be an innocent party, with no evidence.

Luckily, Barry's partner Kristen comes up with the proof, but it's a pyrrhic victory for both of them: Barry's repeated absences and Flash-related disappearances finally catch up to him, as he and Kristen are transferred from the crime lab to Iron Heights crime scene preservation unit. (I have no idea what such a thing would do, or why it's out of a prison.) Kristen is furious, and Barry feels like his failures are catching up to him: his relationship with Iris was gone, things had gone badly with the Reverse-Flash in the future, and he was forced to use the "negative speed force" Thawne had stuck him with. When Wally confronts him watching Iris, Barry offers him the Flash ring, saying if he couldn't control his powers, he couldn't be the Flash anymore. Wally considers that he's been just as messed up, and decides he's going to train Barry to use his new powers, just as Barry trained him. That would kind of make sense if it was the other Wally, this one wouldn't have that level of experience...then again, I guess Flashes would learn quick, huh?

It strikes me that Barry usually seemed--especially in guest-spots or Justice League--like one of the most together, competent, professional heroes out there. Yet his current book ever since the New 52, has it felt like he's a bit of a stumblebum, just careening from one disaster to the next? And I just realized while the TV show got Bloodwork, sure; have they ever had more then three of the Rogues' Gallery at once? The show burned through a lot of them, killing them off here and there, possibly because they didn't want to blow the budget on six or seven guest-stars at once.
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