Friday, October 30, 2020

With that lead-in, kind of have to post this today.

I always think I have more Defenders issues than I actually do; even though #119 was the only one I bought off the racks. (Actually, I'm not even positive about that; maybe I got it in a trade or something.) I thought I had bought almost the whole run out of the quarter bins; but I didn't get that many. And I know I've had the last issue of the series around, waiting to blogged for "The End" week, and I just can't bring myself to plow through it. But, let's try this issue from the bins: from 1982, Defenders #103, "The Haunting of Christiansboro!" Written by J. M. DeMatteis, pencils by Don Perlin, inks by Joe Sinnott.

We open with something not always seen in this title: Defenders giving a crap about a teammate and showing honest concern for their welfare, as Clea and Devil-Slayer track down the Gargoyle, who had taken off a week prior. Then, a scene that I had seen before--I had to check I hadn't blogged this one already! Hellcat recovers her magical shadow-cloak in the ruins of her house, but is surprised when a young child comes out of it, having accidentally fallen in a few issues prior. (That kid had to have been missing a couple days; his explanation to his parents would've been a joy to hear.) Disenchanted with the thing, Patsy folds it in upon itself and out of this world. Summoning the Defenders, Clea tells her she never needed that thing; but then interrupts Kyle Richmond in the middle of a tax investigation: he blurts out he's no longer a Defender, get lost; which is confusing to everyone in the room who didn't see Clea. Still, Kyle gets off with just having to pay $767 grand in back taxes; but his celebration is short-lived, as a grinning government goon from another previous issue tells Kyle that he got him off easy.

Back at Dr. Strange's house, the Gargoyle recaps his origin a bit: short answer, he had been an old man before making a deal with demons to save his small town, but in double-crossing them he was trapped as the Gargoyle. Valkyrie suggests he needs to go home, and the lot of them teleport to Christiansboro...which they find deserted. (They also leave just before the arrival of the Beast, who would have to wait an issue or two.) Splitting up to investigate, Hellcat meets "Simple" Joe, who tells her about "the hauntin'," which drove the rest of the townsfolk away. As the creepy fog intensifies, the Gargoyle sees the ghost of his brother, who died when they were children, then his mother; as Clea and Valkyrie are surrounded by ghosts downtown and Devil-Slayer finds a little girl that is of course eeeeeevil. This isn't a simple haunting, though: it's Null, the Living Darkness! Who we've actually seen on the blog before, but his origin story is much darker than that panel would indicate: long ago, a race of angelic beings that lived on the moon searched the universe for truth, a reason for being; not finding it, the race killed themselves, and their collective despair survived as Null.

While the Gargoyle is driven to attempt suicide over how he feels he failed his family, Null gives him something to fight, and he nearly sacrifices his own life-force to stop the monster. Dying, he's visited again by the ghosts of his family, who want him to bury the past, move forward, and live. I think he would be a lot more upbeat going forward--not quite to the Beast's level of coping, but close--but I never understood why he was so bent out of shape to save his town. Having grown up in a small town, I didn't think there was any one person whose job that was, or who would care. Also, I'm probably wrong, but I feel like the Defenders faced horrible manifestations of negative emotions all the time. The Elf with a Gun was probably one...

I'm off today, all the better to watch horror movies! Have a safe, happy Halloween!
Read more!

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The blank stares of children, bleary demands for coffee, one-horse town; this comic hits closer to home than I'd like.

Ren & Stimpy's "Hokey Halloween Horror!" issue is responsible for my nom de alias, as it were; but is there any fun to be had with a much later Halloween issue? From 1996 (!) the Ren & Stimpy Show #40, featuring "Breakfast of Idiots" Written by Terry Collins, pencils by Darren Auck, inks by Gary Fields; and "The Legend of Sleazy Hollow" Plot by Scott Benson, script by John Lewie, pencils by Jeff Jarka, inks by Don Hudson.

In the opening story, some shifty thugs leave a barrel of toxic waste at the Hoek homestead, which Stimpy mistakes for the barrel of maple syrup he ordered. Honest mistake, right? This being a comic, the toxic waste gives them both beefcake strength, including for lucky Ren "shoulders!" Unfortunately, the effect doesn't last long enough for Ren to get a proper reign of terror going...or does he?

The second story is of course a riff on the Headless Horseman, interspersed with Ren and Stimpy trying to teach a classroom full of bratty English clods. Children are the future my ass...when their only question is, how long will it be before you get killed like the last 17 teachers, Ren hatches a plot to show them up, which naturally leads to riding Stimpy though the forest at night. (It was the horse's day off, in that one-horse town!) Neither story is as good as issue #8, but okay.

Ren seems to allude to the book's cancellation on the last page, but it would run to later in the year with issue #44. A much longer run than I expected! For comparison, Marvel's Beavis & Butthead lasted 28, I can't offhand think of any other licensed humor titles from around then with a better run. Not saying there isn't though, so shout out if I blanked on one. Read more!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020


I had to look up Red Goblin to double-check; I picked him up for the Kingpin BaF piece. I certainly didn't think I'd ever use him in a strip, but here we are!

How many people live below New York City in the Marvel Universe? I feel like I'm missing some. I'm also 90% sure there were non-mutant Morlocks, but those guys were probably left out in the cold.

Moon Knight seems to get Mary, in any of her personas, doesn't he? The result of them working through their shared condition...or something else? Abstrakt had tipped him between episodes a ways back, but he still seems tuned in to her.

I don't always hear Kurt's German accent in my head, but this time hopefully a bit, as he goes with his serious voice: that would probably be Liam O'Brien's Nightcrawler from the late, lamented Wolverine and the X-Men.
Read more!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

I'm not used to him being bigger than, say, a really angry beach ball.

I'm more of a Street Fighter fan than a Mortal Kombat one, but I've always wanted the game to have every playable character from every game in the series. (Also, I wouldn't mind a proper numbering system, instead Hyper Alpha Turbo or whatever.) If a character was in there once, they're in for life! Maybe they get nerfed at some point, but I want the selection screen to be massive. I think it would add something to the competitive nature of the matches, if half the time you were struggling to remember your opponent's name, yet alone special moves. Oh, and the Darkstalkers, X-Men: Children of the Atom, and Marvel Super Heroes characters should be included as well; which would mean the return of someone from today's book! From 1992, Conan the Barbarian #260, "The Second Coming of Shuma-Gorath!" Written by Roy Thomas, pencils by Mike Docherty, inks by Ricardo Villagrán.

As prophesized by numerous sources, Shuma-Gorath has returned to the Hyperborean Age, summoned by Kulan Gath (who's currently the bad guy in Savage Avengers) and his bride, Vammatar, "witch queen of Hyperborea." Wait, I can accept monstrous eldrich horror from beyond time, but I can't accept Kulan Gath getting any. They may have betrayed each other centuries ago, but darn it, the feelings were still there, and they worked well together. Besides the alternative was losing control of Shuma and it eating their souls. If they ever had control. They didn't.

Meanwhile, Conan and his companions find the iron-bound books that were used, in a bygone age, to summon the god Crom to banish Shuma-Gorath: Conan notes if Crom answered men's prayers that day, that was about the last time he would ever deign to. When Shuma turns on Kulan and Vammatar, they try to use their respective magic to fight back, and are seemingly incinerated. Not really having another play, Conan manages to block a blast from Shuma with the books, then Shuma tries to bribe the barbarian into giving the books up. Instead, Conan throws the books into a storm, where they are struck by lightning, and Shuma-Gorath is gone. How? Conan explains, maybe Crom imprisoned the demon again; or maybe you should ask a shaman or something, how the hell would he know? Well, it's a fair answer.

Read more!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Callback! It's taken years, but we finally have our Player-2 Avengers team; or if you prefer, the boys from The Terminatrix Objective. War Machine has gotten more than a couple figures since our 'callback' picture, and USAgent could do with an upgrade, but today we've got the brand-new Thunderstrike!

I don't know if the screaming head suits him, although it reminds me of Quasar #48, possibly because that's one of the only issues with him I had when they were coming out. I could be wrong, but does his head look like Triple H? Along with his titular mace, Thunderstrike also came with a BaF Mr. Fixit head and an alternate left fist; but his regular left is a perfect drinking hand! Not sure he has any up-down neck movement, though.

Read more!

Friday, October 23, 2020

Was his outfit leather? I read those issues but don't recall.

I sprung for the recent Venom bundle from Gamestop, and got a pretty good deal; but I had assumed they would all come together. In fact, since I ordered that retro Spidey as well, I've got three different packages for my order so far; but I'm still waiting for Carnage and Phage to complete Venompool. Who was pretty much why I ordered this set, but okay.

A head's up: Morbius's hair is surprisingly pokey! I can't recall if he's rocked this look since the 90's, though; with his raggedly cape-shawl thing. I also don't know if the "Venomized" Miles or Ghost-Spider have appeared in the comics as such. The Venomized Captain America may be out shortly, a Wal-Mart exclusive: he doesn't seem 100% necessary, but maybe. I do seem to have a pile of Venom-related figures, more than I could account for just in getting Build-a-Figure pieces. I did also get the movie Venom, but haven't opened him yet. We'll see.

Read more!

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Geez, I was gonna say he's still in the top ten worst billionaires, but I'm not even positive about that.

Hmm, it's been over four years since I've blogged any Simon Stagg appearances? Admittedly, the antics of an amoral, horrible tycoon douchebag are far less amusing nowadays. I'm not even sure Stagg will even seem as bad anymore, since that bar has been raised. Then again, Stagg actually had money...usually. From 1973, World's Finest #220, "Tears of an Element Man!" Written by Bob Haney, art by J.C. (John Calnan.)

When Sapphire is kidnapped and they send a ransom note for $5 million (over 30 million in today-money!) Rex more-or-less has to shame daddy Simon into paying, even though he actually had that in cash, on hand! Rex offers to make the drop, but Simon argues they would be on the lookout for an Element Man-trap, and does it himself. And...nothing. After almost 24 hours, Rex has to shake the drop location out of Simon, then tracks the kidnappers to a cement works, where he is first shot then trapped in concrete. Neither of which slow Metamorpho down much! But he's already too late!

Sapphire is dead, killed since Simon paid the ransom in counterfeit money! The kidnappers had given her a lethal injection; but not unlike a fairy tale, Rex's kiss--and his tears--bring Sapphire back. Simon tries to backpedal, that he didn't know the money was bogus, but come on. Traditionally, this would be where I would say Simon Stagg is the wooooooorst, but again, we've probably all seen worse, haven't we?

For some reason, I was just stricken with the urge to see the presumably immortal Metamorpho (or, rather, killed and revived dozens of times) in the 31st century with the Legion of Super-Heroes; pitting their faux-future slang against his hip patter...

Read more!

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


This was a ridiculously silly one to set up; and I think I went to the store and realized I had left it up at home. I was suddenly stricken with the idea of how weird it would look if anything happened to me and they found that in my house...

You may have seen this trap before: probably from the Chairface Chippendale episode of the Tick! The live action versions were fun, but tough to beat the original.

Read more!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

This may be a 2000 AD blog from here on out.

Sorry, I don't make the rules...what, I do? Anyway, I got a pile of comics from Midtown Comics, like 85 books for 90 bucks! There were a couple Nightcrawler variant covers, but everything else was probably under a buck: a Kelley Jones mini-series I hadn't seen before, most of the manga Grey, a couple last issues, a few IDW reprints, and a mountain of mid-grade Fleetway/Quality reprint books! Big chunks of Rogue Trooper, Judge Anderson, and the occasional Dredd himself: from 1988, Judge Dredd 21/22, reprinting 1977's 2000 AD #20, "The Comic Pusher!" Written by John Wagner, art by Mike McMahon. (Ooh, that prog had the first appearance of Shako!)

Dredd's informant Max Normal puts the law on the tail of one of Mega-City One's "lowest forms of crime," a comics ring! Get kids hooked young, then jack the price up, presumably forcing them into crime to fund their habit. Sounds familiar--I mean, how, um, horrible. The comic book guys put up a fight, but are gunned down by Dredd. Still, reviewing the microfilm comics, even the Justice Department has to respect how valuable they are, namely old progs of 2000 AD! Wait, was this an ad? Man, there oughta be a law.

Per the GCD, the odd numbering on this one was because they got out of sync between the British and American reprints, and they had to rejigger it to get back in line, although Americans may have missed two months of reprints? We was robbed! We'll see how it goes when I hit other issues, but this particular issue the paper and print quality wasn't as grotty as I remember these reprints sometimes being. Although, admittedly, my standards are probably kind of low; and I'd rather have a ton of cheap reprints than fancy paper, color, and so forth.

Read more!

Monday, October 19, 2020

I tell myself that like every morning, too.

The other day at the Comic Book Shop, I got a pile of books before they made it to the quarter bins! Starting with this one: from 1973, World's Finest #220, "Let No Man Write My Epitaph" Written by Bob Haney, pencils by Dick Dillin, inks by Murphy Anderson, cover by Nick Cardy.

Aw, this was the second of a two-parter? Wait a minute...I have absolutely no recollection of the lead feature, but I've blogged the previous issue! The Metamorpho back-up feature, anyway. The lead story features Supes and Bats in search of El Monstro, a Swamp Thing-like brute who's giving Nazi gold to the peasants and may be Carlotta Esteban, a nude girl! How could I forget something like that? Well, Haney stories hit me like watching low-grade horror movies with a hangover, I may black out occasionally.

Carlotta can't stay in human form long, but monster-form is better for revenge anyway. Batman feels that; but Superman says her revenge is illegal, and she's not supposed to have that gold, either. They split up to continue searching for the downed U-boat; but Bats had already found it, and wanted Supes out of his way while he "saved El Monstro from herself!" Supes wasn't fooled, and heads to where Batman had been looking. Meanwhile, cruel landlord Don Ernesto and his lawyer tell the peasants that they can't buy their land with illegal gold, but they can pay him "a modest rental" by working in the mines! Or get murdered, if they want to get uppity. Batman saves a peasant, but is then held at gunpoint by the lawyer on horseback! El Monstro saves Batman, who then goes to Ernesto's hacienda, which had previously been the Esteban estate before Ernesto had Carlotta framed for her father's murder. Oh, and "she masqueraded as a boy all her life," for...reasons? (At a guess, to dodge getting married to Ernesto?)

In the attic, is a colossal painting of Carlotta, in her male disguise, and in a fetching dress: Batman seems impressed. El Monstro agrees, she was pretty smokin' back in the day. Bats tries to get her to give up the quest for vengeance, because everyone knows that's just for boys--no, because killing Ernesto would make her the bad guy. She clobbers Batman, then smashes through to Ernesto, as his lawyer either falls or jumps out the window. Ernesto flees to his old mine, with El Monstro and Batman giving chase; then tries to start a landslide to kill them, but falls in himself as well. Ernesto is killed, and El Monstro gathers the battered Batman and heads back to the sub, which Superman has found--but he gets hit with depth charges from the local government, "atomizing" the sub and the treasure. Um, no...Earlier in the story, Supes noticed diesel fuel on Bats to catch him in a lie; here a bomber sneaks up on him.

A government copter also hits El Monstro with defoliant--they seem pretty on top of things, why were Supes and Bats there again? Bats can only...throw his bat-rope in frustration, as Carlotta, seemingly mortally wounded, plunges into the water and "vanishes...dissolves...forever!" Forever forever? Swampy-sludge monsters have a way of coming back, but apparently that was that. Not a great showing, guys. Haven't got to the Metamorpho back-up yet, maybe later this week for that.

Read more!

Friday, October 16, 2020

I have never seen anyone in one of those "Anti-Bat" shirts; running from a monster or otherwise.

I needed to research something, so had to dig this one out of the garage; and I noticed a big-ass hole in the wall out there! Like somebody shot a hole in it. Hopefully not taking any shots at this one: from 1990, Avengers West Coast #54, "The Troubled Earth" Story and art by John Byrne, inks by Paul Ryan.

This would be the second of three Acts of Vengeance tie-in issues for the book; as previously the U-Foes had attacked the team from out of nowhere; and now the Mole Man is tearing up Los Angeles. Or, his monster is, in this case Giganto! Best known from the cover of Fantastic Four #1, it may not have had a name before now. Also, it apparently weighs less than 85 tons, since Iron Man is able to pick it up!

While Wonder Man and the android Human Torch backtrack down Giganto's tunnel and encounter the Mole Man--who is confused as to why this Torch doesn't sound like the "witless stripling" he's used to--Hank Pym and the Wasp are bringing the catatonic Scarlet Witch home when their quinjet runs into another of Moley's monsters: Tricephalous! Kirby's version of Ghidorah, although Tricephalous was also from FF #1 in 1961, predating Ghidorah by three years. Anyway, the flying dragon destroys the quinjet, which inexplicably doesn't crash, saved by a mysterious magnetic field...Also inexplicably, Pym thinks said field is somehow related to Tricephalous; but I suppose he's concentrating, since he shrinks it "to the size of a sparrow!" Pretty cool, actually.

The Mole Man thinks he's getting revenge for the Avengers attacking his Monster Island; although a brief interlude with Magneto and the mysterious "lackey" make it apparent that he's been fooled. To convince him, Wonder Man lets Moley blast him a few times; although I doubt Simon was in any danger, it still convinces the Mole Man to withdraw. Still, after multiple attacks from different foes, the Avengers have started to realize something was up.
Read more!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

As usual, if I find an entire series in the quarter bin, I'm pretty much obligated to get it. Today we found nine issues out of ten, which is a good start. From 2015, Lady Killer #2-5, story by Jamie S. Rich and Joëlle Jones, art by Joëlle Jones, colors by Laura Allred; and from 2016, Lady Killer 2 #1-5, story and art by Joëlle Jones, colors by Michelle Madsen.

I had seen ads for this one in the Hellboy books but hadn't tried it before: set in the 50's, charming suburban housewife Josie Schuller is a loving wife and mother, and as you might've guessed from the title, a hardened killer for hire. While she's put in 15 solid years with "the company," and looks like she could easily continue for 15 more; she still has to put up with her overly familiar handler Ward, and her bad boss, Stenholm. Stenholm sets her up for failure, and gives Peck the job of killing her. Peck protests, but goes along with it. Meanwhile, Josie gives it a try, but can't bring herself to kill a kid probably the same age as her kids; which means Peck has to take her out...You've probably guessed, but Josie's husband is blissfully unaware of his wife's secret life; he does make a comment in the last issue about "pride of accomplishment" that made me want to smack him.

No spoilers, but Josie does survive for another series, trying to build her own clientele in Florida while keeping her mother-in-law from blowing the whistle on her. While she approaches situations with her usual aplomb, the problem of body disposal is becoming an issue, until she's approached by old school killer Irving, who suggests a partnership. But there are others who want Josie's services, and Irving may be hiding more secrets. The second limited ends on a cliffhanger, but I don't know if she is scheduled to return anytime soon.

Still, Dark Horse has a fairly solid track record of properties being turned into movies or TV shows; this would be a solid one. Like a stabbier Mad Men...I hope that doesn't sound dismissive; I've never actually seen Mad Men. I'd rather watch this.

Read more!