Wednesday, September 30, 2020


Did I steal this plot from Fleabag? I haven't seen it, but I believe there's a character called only "the priest" that the lead um, crushes on, in an uncomfortable way. Read more!

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

If you ask me--and you probably shouldn't--comics numbering really went to hell when they changed it for the annuals. Amazing Spider-Man Annual ended with #28 in 1994, the next one would be Amazing Spider-Man '96 two years later. I thought DC had gone with that year-numbering for a while, but instead they went a bit intermittant with theirs. Both of them have probably reset more than once by now, but I think letting the numbering run would've given more of a sense of continuity. Even if the continuity had been jettisoned. Where was I going with this? To a Warlord Annual, apparently! From 1986, Warlord Annual #5, "The Uxmal Encounter" Written by Michael Fleisher, art by Adam Kubert. (All the art, pencils, inks, colors, letters! You don't see that anymore.) Cover by Mike Grell.
In scenic Uxmal, a remarkably tackily-dressed tourist is surprised, and abducted, by what might be an Mayan warrior. Pre-internet, I wonder if it was tough to put together artistic references for something like this. I mean, that outfit is an abomination...anyway, a week later, in sunny Skartaris, Travis takes a brief ride while Shakira puts breakfast together, and is promptly ambushed by "Mayans--?! On flying platforms?!!" Which is weird even for Skartaris, although how Travis recognized them as Mayans is anybody's guess. Travis gets zapped with a ray-gun and captured, taken to a surprisingly robust Mayan city. Even flying overhead, he can spy the tourist's loud shirt, as he catches a bit of the lash in a work gang. Although they had lived in Skartaris for probably generations, the Mayans were just now finishing their tunnel to the surface, for...reasons, I'm sure. After a massive word-balloon/exposition dump (I shouldn't throw any stones, but my god) the head priest-type activates a type of solid holographic projection that Travis recognizes from early issues; this time as Kukulkan, with the tourist as a possible human sacrifice.
Travis has to get his arms, tied behind his back, over his head; which looks painful as all get out. He succeeds, partially because an overseer snags him with a whip and inadverantly helps him. After a brawl, Travis manages to get a ray-gun, and shoots the priest's staff, causing "Kukulkan" to vanish. Travis tells him he could've just as easily shot him between the eyes, but the priest still has the numbers, and tells him if he can survive "the path of penance" anything he might ask for will be his. Travis doubts that, but didn't have much choice if he wanted to save the tourist; but should've trusted his gut: the priest is full of crap, Travis is jumped, and lobbed into a well. The head priest and overseer gloss that over with the rank-and-file Mayans, covering each other; but they seem to be putting something over on them. Back in Uxmal, the cops are still looking for missing tourists, and suspect "Columbian" drug traffickers got them. They are then shot up by the flying platform Mayans: a copter gets a few of them, but is lasered down eventually.
Down in the well, Travis is stuck until someone lowers him a rope: the overseer, who wants the secret of the head priest's staff. The head priest then shows up, pissed at the potential double-cross, and they tear into each other; obviously a grudge match. Travis bails and gets the tourist, but is surprised that the head priest was the winner, and still after them. Stealing a flying platform, they head up the tunnel, although they do laser some rocks down upon their pursuers. On the surface world, the CIA and KGB both peak their ears up at the reports of laser weapons in Uxmal, and send operatives; while Travis swears the tourist to secrecy and sets him on the road to safety. Travis is flying on the platform and considering how to get explosives, when he gets shot down by the CIA. Look, he fit the description, OK?
Probably concussed even with his helmet, Travis is then drugged up and questioned. While he doesn't give them anything, the CIA does find something interesting: he's one of theirs, USAF Lt. Col. Travis Morgan, presumed KIA for maybe ten years, now considered a possible turncoat or defector. Head spook Redmond is only given 24 hours to figure out what's going on, or he's fired; so he has agent Carolyn pretend to free him, to get him to Air Force intelligence, but just to give him some rope. They escape in an F-15; a development greeted with interest by the KGB as "game plan Janus." Travis and Carolyn quickly find the Mayan air force equivalent, now in plane-like fighters instead of just the platforms. Unfortunately, the Mayans were not well trained, nor had they, as Travis notes, "invented the parachute." With missiles and an experimental sonic weapon, he shoots down the lot; but is then threatened with a hypodermic by Carolyn, a Russian double-agent! Travis ejects her, then just manages to land the jet. He's still not out of the woods as the jet is about to catch fire, and the Mayan priest is waiting to blast him if he comes out.

Launching the drogue chute, Travis knocks the priest off the cliff; then repairs the priest's flier enough to get back to Skartaris and Shakira: it's unclear how long he was gone, exactly, but time is sketchy in Skartaris anyway. Meanwhile, the CIA and KGB still don't have all the pieces, but Carolyn manages to keep herself out of the gulag since she could maybe still get the sonic weapon, and Redmond swears to keep following this story. I think he would get to Skartaris eventually, but would be turned into a monster for his trouble. Well, that'll happen, yeah. Read more!

Monday, September 28, 2020

"Commendations for all of the landing party. And not engineering."

Do I have alt-text back?
I didn't read all of Marvel's first Star Trek series when it came out, although I remember having the Marvel Illustrated Books reprint of three issues. (Good god, don't pay that for it.) The stories weren't always great, but there were good bits here and there, which I may have lumped into one solid story in my memory. From 1981, Star Trek #11, "...Like a Woman Scorned!" Written by Martin Pasko, breakdowns by Joe Brozowski, finishes by Tom Palmer.

It's an evocotive opener, as a landing party dies of Berthold ray exposure, a callback to classic episode "This Side of Paradise." Kirk and the crew are watching that horribleness, to re-familiarize themselves with the radiation's effects, since they have to recover a colony that's on the verge of being exposed to it. Who would build anything anywhere that could happen? Why would you live there? Well, it would be a good place to get away from everyone, since this colony is headed by a Dr. Wentworth, his clinic of "anti-apologists." Bones considers Wentworth a con man; Spock explains he treats his patients to live without guilt, through a philosophy of "enlightened self-interest." Sounds like dicks, but we'll see! And Scotty is uncharacteristically mopey; and we see why when Wentworth's pretty assistant Andrea Manning beams up: he doesn't seem thrilled to see an ex.
Wentworth starts in on the crew quick, pushing them to if not think for themselves, to look out for number one and do what they want to do...with a little nudging. More troublingly, Scotty is repeatedly attacked, by manifestations of weird Scottish folklore crap! Hey, looking it up, Black Annis is a real thing! Well, not real, I guess; you know what I mean.
The security guys wore pads and helmets now, rather than the old redshirts, but are still treated as utterly disposable. By this point, Wentworth has encouraged the crew to mutiny and take the Enterprise to a nice planet rather than a dumb Starbase; and Andrea is getting drunk.
I kinda think that's more than then-Doctor Chapel got to do, in the movie or this entire series. Scotty had some trouble with the dames before--Andrea name-drops his former flames Carolyn Palamas and Mira Romaine, before angrily passing out. The Scottish crap stops when she does, and Kirk, Spock, and McCoy start to put it together. There's still a phaser shootout on the bridge and the Enterprise vs. the Loch Ness Monster; but neither are that great, sorry.

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Friday, September 25, 2020

It takes four, five guys, to beat Terra-Man this month? C'mon.

A massively chewed-up quarter bin copy today: from 1977, Action Comics #470, "Even Superman Must Die Sometime!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Tex Blasdell.

The issue begins with a Superman costume being thrown away--traditionally, the costume goes in a garbage can. Or eBay. Superman actor Gregory Reed throws his costume off a cliff, since he's out of a job: Superman had just been killed, gunned down by Terra-Man! Back in Metropolis, the Planet staff is taking it pretty hard, especially since T-M is leisurely moseying--er, flying--around town. But while he had put a force-field around the city to keep everyone else out, that doesn't stop the Flash from getting through and attempting to "even the score." The strangely quiet Terra-Man launches Flash speeding backwards: no one's sure quite how, since he had a vast repertoire of alien tricks and gadgets. Green Lantern then joins Flash, as an alien saucer arrives over the city; and we're treated to a couple possible clues as a beat cop repeatedly gives a bum the hassle.

Things are even more complicated: Superman wasn't dead at all (duh) but had somehow been transformed to look like Terra-Man! The alien saucer belongs to the brother of the alien pirate who gave T-M his knowledge and gear, then was killed by him: in fairness, I think the pirate had abducted Terra-Man, so he wasn't exactly an innocent there. Supes realizes Terra-Man's scheme, to get him killed in his place. Meanwhile, Gregory stares at his latex Superman mask--he looked pretty close to Supes, I don't know why the mask would be necessary--and fantasizes about taking the alien saucer down with Superman's powers. Which is exactly what happens, then Terra-Man shows up to for-real kill Superman this time--which prompts the beat cop to unmask, since he was the real Terra-Man hiding out! Flash and GL had helped Gregory take out the saucer as "Superman," then still looking like Terra-Man, the real Superman had confronted him to draw out the "Cosmic Cowboy."

There are way too many unmaskings this issue; I can only hope Lois kisses the real one in the end!

Ren & Stimpy panels from the Ren & Stimpy Show #5, "Commander Höek and Cadet Stimpy vs. the Croco-Men from Planet Zed!" Written by Croco-Dan Slott, art by Croco-Mike Kazaleh. A surprising amount of Ren & Stimpy jokes I remember are from the comic.

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Thursday, September 24, 2020

He's trying to play it as mysterious, but it comes off as the minimum contractually allowed appearance.

Also, as is so often the case, a guy's superhero outfit once again looks better on a girl, in today's book! From 1996, Doc Samson #3, "Copycats" Plot by Dan Slott, script by Evan Skolnick, pencils by Roberto Flores and Andrew Wildman, inks by Brad Vancata and Ralph Cabrera.

The gamma-powered shrink Doc Samson, is on the trail of gamma-powered serial killer Patchwork, accompanied by gamma-powered new girl Geiger. While Patchwork was abducting and murdering women to steal body parts to build his "perfect woman," Geiger could copy the powers and "mindsets" of other gamma-types. Watching her imitate him, Samson wonders if he should have embraced the super-hero mentality more, since she sells it pretty well. They do not do especially well against Patchwork, since they don't know what the hospitalized Jennifer Walters has realized: Patchwork can steal gamma-power. Samson tries to end the fight quickly, but then fears he may have killed the monster, just like he feels he killed the Punisher, back in his first issue after Double Edge.

After Patchwork kills another girl and escapes, Doc Samson throws in the towel, and takes a cab to the airport. He's stopped by a sniper blowing out the cab's tire: the Punisher! Or a fake, Samson assumes, since he wouldn't know about Frank faking his demise. Man, Frank's ponytail is long here, he's got longer hair than Samson! Frank is laying down the hard truths here: he didn't think he was the best choice to take down Patchwork, Samson was. Now doubting his sanity along with everything else, Samson gets a phone call from Kyle Barker, whose life he had saved in an earlier issue, and who of course is Patchwork.

Really feels like Frank phoned this one in; but look, I could see him not wanting to be around Samson much. It's like he received gamma-powered overthinking along with the hair...I don't know if she survived, or kept her powers, but I already kind of like Geiger better than the doctor.
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Wednesday, September 23, 2020


Where did I see that...I want to say Dave Chappelle, but that can't be right--no, it was! If you have a shotgun to defend your home, you load it bird shot, buck shot, bird shot, buck shot, buck shot, buck shot.

So, if you've got three bullets that will maybe kill Wolverine, and a bunch that will just piss him off; how do you load for that? If you're looking to catch him by surprise, you have to load your good ones up front, right? Or, honestly, I feel like the first shot is just to get him to turn around, to come at you, then pop pop pop? I haven't seen Logan in a bit, so I'm a bit iffy on if this would even kill Wolvie. So the bullets could penetrate his skull and rattle around in there until his brain leaked out his ears, but wouldn't he just heal up from even that? Like he could be walking around with those slugs just lodged up in him: he'd be messed up for a bit, sure; but he'd probably mostly recover? I don't know.

I was fairly sure I had the first appearance of "Bloody" Mary; although I can't recall if it was any good. Maybe I'll check the garage later. I think she was more into guns than Typhoid? Need different hands for her, too.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

I was happy to find a Question story I hadn't read in the quarter bin; even if it comes with an Eradicator and a Primal Force/Claw story. From 1995, Showcase '95 #3, featuring "Homecoming" Written by Dennis O'Neil, art by Rick Burchett; "Reunions" Written by Steven T. Seagle, pencils by Shannon Londin-Gallant, inks by Tom Simmons; and "No Mercy!" Written by Karl Kesel, pencils by Greg LaRocque, insk by Stan Woch.

The Eradicator story is set during his post-Return of Superman status, where what remained of the Kryptonian artifact was now inhabited by S.T.A.R. scientist Dr. David Connor: he had been trying to finish studying it before he died of cancer, but ended up projecting his consciousness into it. Unfortunately, shades of Robocop here, this now estranged him from his wife and kids; the latter of which were threatened today by terrorists trying to extort super-powers out of S.T.A.R. Labs. Even with David in the mix, he still acts like the Eradicator, merciless and harsh; but is shamed by his own kids as "all you do is hurt people." Eradicator would be part of the Outsiders for a brief stretch, where this may or may not have been followed up on.

I know I've read an issue or two of Primal Force, but was not as familiar with their version of Claw as the earlier, fantasy character. One of his teammates asked why he was avoiding the cops in Hong Kong, triggering a flashback, but he's not going to own up to anything right yet.

The Question story is, as expected, the best of the lot; with the surprise of Rick Burchett on art. I knew him mainly from Batman Adventures, so this was like Question: the Animated Series. Vic Sage returns to Hub City, to visit the orphanage where he had been a foundling. As he remembers catching whacks from a nun's ruler after a tattletale rats him out for tracking in mud; said tattletale has returned for his own reckoning: he hated that the nun had scared him as a kid, making him a "pukey teacher's pet." As the Question, Vic beats him down and saves the nun; but it's hardly as satisfying for him as he would've hoped.
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Monday, September 21, 2020

Just like the other day with Frankenstein, I would've sworn I had Essential Marvel Horror as well. (In fact, recently I bought another Essential X-Men I already had, and had to take that back in...) So we have the original instead of the reprint today, even if I'm still scratching my head. From 1979, Marvel Team-Up #81, "Last Rites" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Mike Vosburg, inks by Steve Leialoha.

In the previous issue, Doctor Strange got turned into a werewolf; so this month it's up to Spidey and Satana to save him. (With Strange's love and last month's guest-star Clea left to sit there and look concerned.) The GCD's recap is short and to the point: "Satana helps rescue Dr. Strange, but she loses her life in the process." Poor Sat hadn't made a ton of appearances at that point, and Claremont may have written a lot of them, including her Marvel Premiere issue, but I wonder. Damien: Omen II would've come and gone the year before; and looking it up Marvel's Tomb of Dracula was about to wrap up: I suspect editorial was putting a lot of the horror stuff out to pasture. It would not have a heavy presence in the 80's there.

I honestly thought her horns were real for most of this issue, and that maybe they disappeared when she died? But now I'm thinking it was just a hat. A terrible hat. That can't be comfortable...
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Friday, September 18, 2020

This one fixes what seemed like an error earlier, take my word for it.

I think I've mentioned before, I have a box of comics up at my parents' house that I probably re-read every year, which accounts for my annual re-read of Capwolf. But one of the other books in that pile is Captain Atom #20, guest-starring Blue Beetle. The Captain lies to BB's face there, presenting his bogus "covert casebook," a secret file of his adventures with the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garrett; together against the fictional Dr. Spectro. Although Beetle seemingly warms up to the Captain then, you don't realize at the time that he's playing along and knows it's a ruse: in that issue, Garrett has the Bug...

...but in today's book, it's revealed that wasn't an error on the creators' part, but a mistake on the Captain's government handlers' part in creating his cover story: Garrett could fly, he didn't have the Bug, Ted Kord had to build that himself! Catching the Captain in "a bald-faced lie," Beetle opts to let him keep digging.

While Beetle's pal Booster is in on this because he's Beetle's pal, he doesn't seem to trust Captain Atom either. Yet, it's Mister Miracle that brings evidence to their little investigation: he had scanned him with his Mother Box previously, and realized his silver coating was not from earth, which made his rocket-accident origin story unbelievable. All three have decided Captain Atom has to go; although they decide they can't go to Max Lord, since they figure he probably knew. I don't know why they didn't get Batman, except that would feel like tattling, and this gives them something to do.

Meanwhile, as USAF intelligence Major "Cameron Scott," the Captain has a new boss that he already likes better than General Eiling. He's put on the trail of whoever murdered a former North Vietnamese general, and realizes some of the names on the killer's list are known to him from his own court-martial in the 60's. Later trailing the suspect, the killer turns the tables on him, and recognizes him as his real identity, Nathaniel Adam. Captain Atom had fought the killer, in a suit of armor, in a previous issue; but their scuffle here is interrupted by Mister Miracle, who shuts him down with a massive electric shock, then nearly slaps Adam's fake name out of his mouth. I'm not sure I've ever seen Scott that steamed! Still, Adam can't let Miracle take the killer in, since he needs the clues to prove his innocence. Miracle agrees, if Adam will come clean, and he has to face his three angry teammates...

For years I thought Blue Beetle had been hoodwinked, or they had botched the Dan Garrett continuity that predated coming to DC, but it's cool to see they were playing a longer game! From 1989, Captain Atom #26, "Captain Atom: Exposed!" Written by Cary Bates, co-plotted by Greg Weisman, pencils by Pat Broderick, inks by Bob Smith.
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Thursday, September 17, 2020

I swear I have the Essential Frankenstein somewhere, not on my shelf of those. But when I randomly come across one of these, I probably have to grab it. From 1974, the Frankenstein Monster #9, "The Vampire Killers!" Written by Gary Friedrich, pencils by John Buscema, inks by John Verpoorten.

Aw, this one's missing a few pages: the Angry Villagers Local #237 have Frank trussed up and are burning him at the stake, but that has unfortunately left their town open for Dracula to swoop in and put the bite to a woman or two. The Monster had been on the verge of giving up, but hearing the sound of someone else suffering inspires him to keep fighting, to save anyone from the torments he had lived through. The mob is completely ineffectual against Dracula--maybe you should've brought more than one crossbow, or at least not called your shot ahead of time--as well as against a newly driven Frankenstein.

While Dracula is coffin shopping, Frank returns to the cave Drac came from, and finds sultry villager Carmen waiting for him. Even Frank isn't convinced she's into him; she's there for his blood, having been turned by Dracula. Her attack paralyzes Frankenstein's vocal cords; I don't think he would be able to talk for the rest of his series and beyond. Frank stakes Carmen, which irritates Dracula more than anything: he obviously had no feelings for her, but how dare that thing take away something of his? Dracula has the Monster on the ropes for most of their brief fight, until the Monster manages to get him into the sunlight, form the cross, and stake him. (I sincerely doubt the Monster believed in God, so the cross shouldn't have worked; but the sunlight may have done the damage needed.)

Frankenstein is left with "only the bitter bile of revenge," and Carmen's memory; but isn't left with any time to consider it, as he is greeted by Vincent Frankenstein! We're not sure of his deal yet, but that's pretty ballsy to march himself up to a cave that had two vampires and the Monster. Well, I bet Vincent either didn't believe in vampires, or didn't believe they would dare threaten a Frankenstein.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2020


I don't think Kurt had met Reese--well, maybe briefly in Uncanny #152, but that might've been Cole?--or Skullbuster, the first times they came around. I think they've been killed and brought back more than once, not unlike the way the old Marauders used to be, and I almost feel like Mr. Sinister was in on that as well.

Kurt's story about Mystique could be true, or something he heard, or complete bullcrap to keep them talking. Honestly, that wouldn't even make the top ten worst things she's ever done, to Kurt, personally. Although, she made at least one appearance in these strips, some twelve years back! Our production values may have not changed in that time...And we also saw the actual Daken: Dark Wolverine issues guest-starring Moon Knight a while ago as well.
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