Monday, November 30, 2020

Although that new Wonder Woman movie is going to be on streaming around Christmas, I don't think Marvel/Disney has scheduled anything for home release. Have they? I could've sworn there was a Black Widow date, but may have imagined that. Anyway, getting ready for Shang-Chi's movie I picked up some cheap but hopefully key issues, starting with this one: from 1981, Master of Kung Fu #100, "Red of Fang and Claw, All Love Lost" Written by Doug Moench, art by Gene Day and Mike Zeck, inking assists by John Beatty and Bob McLeod.
If he hadn't already, Sir Denis Nayland Smith was coming up on a grim anniversary, fifty years of fighting the evil machinations of Fu Manchu: This issue opens with a flashback to 1932, told through his journals. In Cairo, he and his crew risk a trap, for him to meet his love, Fah Lo Suee--the daughter of Fu Manchu. She may have been willing to betray her father, for the "elixer vitae," the immortality serum keeping Fu going. Fu was in Egypt for one of the serum's ingredients, and to recruit new assassins: in a long-buried tomb, he claims it was built for him, but he would never need it. Smith can't bring himself to believe Fu was that old, but...He catches a lot of Fu's induction spiel, which promises immortality after a nice mindwipe and "elimination of the psycho-sexual factor," but doesn't grasp what all he's getting at. Captured after a shoot-out, Smith is on the verge of becoming a brainwashed assassin, when Fah Lo slaps the needle out of Fu's hand; then Smith's crew saves their boss, guns blazing. Fu escapes with his daughter, leaving Smith wondering if she would be punished, or would she stay young while he grew older and older...?
Thirty years later, a young Shang-Chi is visited by his sister, seemingly ageless and beautiful, and her lover. Eavesdropping, Shang hears his father tell Fah Lo it was time for the punishment of her betrayal from three decades back, involving a replacement of something he lost. Some months later, she visits Shang to say goodbye, asking him not to light a candle, and he notices the raspiness of her voice now. Listening unseen again, he hears Fu berate Fah Lo again, for wrecking one of his experiments and loosing it upon the world; something he implies has happened before. Fu also cuts off her serum, as she is much older when Shang sees her next, until she begs to get it back.
In the present, a serial killer again stalks the streets of Whitechapel, and Leiko offers herself as the bait to catch this new Ripper. Recounting his 1932 adventure to Shang, Smith and his crew have figured that Fu knew the original Jack the Ripper, and was using his psychosis in conditioning his assassins: removing that "psycho-sexual factor" would've given him killers that could attack men as well as women. Leiko trails the Ripper and manages to stop him from claiming a victim, but is injured, leading Shang to take up the search. Instead, Shang finds Fu Manchu's Si-Fan assassins, who want the Ripper themselves: Fu was supposedly dead at the time, which may have occurred multiple times over the series. Fighting through them, Shang faces the Ripper in his lair, and realizes he recognizes him: Fah Lo's lover, unaged, if insane. Fah Lo arrives, wanting to save him from Fu Manchu's horrible brainwashing, but can't get through to him and is forced to shoot him. She leaves tearfully, telling Shang to tell Smith she's sorry they couldn't be together, and she really hopes Shang had killed their dad. (Not quite yet! Soon!)

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Friday, November 27, 2020

OK, I really shouldn't come in on the end here.

I consider myself a Moon Knight fan, but there are stretches of his books I haven't read. (Or don't recall, which I suppose is pretty much the same thing!) I hadn't read this crossover with him, either; but that was because I thought he would be more central to it: from 1992, Amazing Spider-Man #358, "Out on a Limb" Written by Al Milgrom, pencils by Mark Bagley, inks by Randy Emberlin.
Hmm, I didn't know this was written by Milgrom: he has so many inking credits, but I didn't know he wrote any. I knew the basic plot and I think it was published every two weeks, but that was about it. Moon Knight's former sidekick, Midnight--actually, that right there is why I'd never read this, I couldn't get past that! You wouldn't give the Punisher a Robin, MK doesn't need one either. Still, I think Midnight pushed himself into the role, when he wasn't ready: believed killed by the Secret Empire, he was taken and made a cyborg, and wanted revenge on his mentor, and Spider-Man and the Punisher, since he felt they left him to die. By this point, his plot was going fairly well: he had taken control of the Secret Empire, alongside his nurse Lynn, who was also a cyborg; and the juiced-up Thunderball. He also had the armored mercenary brothers, the Seekers, one of whom hated super-heroes since his son died trying to imitate the Human Torch. (The footnote references Fantastic Four #342, which was a fill-in during Walt Simonson's run. I think I had a subscription and I'm still not sure I've read that one; but I think the Seeker's kid died in FF #285.)
On the heroic side, along with MK, Punisher, and Spidey; Darkhawk, Night Thrasher, and Nova had joined up: I'm not sure everyone is really given something to do in this issue, but okay. Fighting Lynn and Midnight, Spidey does the ol' webbing in the face bit, and is mildly dismayed when she tears it off, with her face. Midnight also had the Terminator-thing going, but his face had been blown off; he couldn't believe someone would do that voluntarily, but Lynn sees herself as a superior, godlike being now. When he falters, Lynn reveals she still has the "pain-inducer" remote to keep him in line, until Thunderball makes a grab for it, intent on taking over himself. Unwilling to be a slave, Midnight starts blasting the supports, and all three are buried. The heroes grab the unconscious baddies that they can and get out--noticeably, the Punisher and Moon Knight aren't carrying anyone out.
In the aftermath, Night Thrasher gives Punisher the heads-up that the cops were coming, so he could clear out. Spidey tries to comfort Moon Knight, who isn't distraught or anything, but does feel eh, bad. And Thunderball pushes his way out of the wreckage, but exhausted, surrenders: he had dug his way out with Midnight and Lynn's severed arms, crimped together in battle. Of course both would return, because Moon Knight really needs a deeper bench of bad guys. Still, this seemed like a plot that should've been in a Moon Knight title instead of Spider-Man's: imagine if one of Batman's sidekicks went bad, and multiple heroes had to team-up to stop him, and it didn't even rate showing up in his book!

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Thursday, November 26, 2020

It's gonna be easier to watch the MST3K marathon today, that's one thing.

Even if I'm not going anywhere, doing anything, or cooking anything another human being would consider eating--ground turkey, instant mashed potatoes and gravy, all cooked together!--the Dallas Cowboys game is always a traditional part of my Thanksgiving. Even if they're awful. So, so awful. The really sad thing is, their division is so bad, they somehow aren't even out of playoff contention yet; although them getting to the playoffs would be like landing a plane after three of the engines had fallen off and then immediately trying to take off again. From 1995, the Ren & Stimpy Show Special: Sports, written by Joey Cavalieri, breakdowns by Matt Maley and Darren Auck, finishes by Travis Hill, Steve Alexandrov, Wayne A. Murray, Don Hudson, Scott "pond-scum" Elmer, Tim Tuohy, and Ernie Stiner. It's not very good, but I hadn't realized there were multiple Ren & Stimpy Specials: they seemed to mostly be late in the run, seemingly well after their popularity had peaked, but okay. Hope you're all staying safe today, and I'm thankful for you! Read more!

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


Selene is late: I have the Hellfire Club ordered, but I don't know if that's going to be here until March? Actually, my sense of immediate gratification has been taking a bunch of hits, with that, the Sentinel, and a project I'm working on that I probably won't be able to finish until February. Ah, we'll probably either be in lockdown again, or it'll be the middle of winter and the result is the same. It occurs to me that Shiklah, Selene, and Satana have probably all been referred to as "succubus" but aren't connected in any way.

For good measure, a Sugar song that came to mind doing this one. Man, I came to them late, but thought they should be way bigger.

And sadly, that was about as much as Mole Man was going to fit into the WWE Wreckin' Slam Mobile, nor were any girls going to fit in there with him and Ultron. Surprisingly, Mole Man does have some game: I think in current continuity, his illegitimate Deviant kid has overthrown him, like the Molier Man or something.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

No one wants to admit it, but the Sega Game Gear game is the real continuity.

I missed the last film in the theatres, but picked it up on DVD a bit ago and haven't watched it yet; since I know this series has gone the way of Halloween and taken some of the movies seemingly out of its own canon. So, why not read a comic with even more tenuous continuity? From 1995, Terminator 2: Judgment Day: Cybernetic Dawn #1, "Lost and Found" Plot by Mark Paniccia and Gerry Kline and Dan Abnett, script by Dan Abnett, pencils by Rod Whigham, inks by Jack Snider.
There were two Terminator 2 books from Malibu: this one, described as "Present War," and Nuclear Twilight, "Future War." They were four issue mini-series that concluded in a shared #0 issue, because 90's comics. Actually, this appeared to be shortly after Marvel had bought Malibu--or maybe not that shortly; but since I only found both series' first issues in a quarter bin, I'm mildly surprised they lasted to completion.
This is set almost immediately after the movie, with Sarah and John on the run and exhausted. They seek shelter with an old friend, only to learn from his son that he had been murdered by the T-1000 when it was searching for John. Meanwhile, back in L.A. at a certain steel mill, two detectives looking for Sarah are stonewalled by the feds, but learn a familiar looking hand has been recovered by a tech company that had been working with Cyberdyne. An up-and-coming young executive thinks she can use it to continue the work of Miles Dyson; and has put together another unexpected connection: that Sarah Connor wasn't insane, and maybe they should keep an eye on her. That's not for any altruistic reasons, they want to score more robot parts and whatnot. Capitalism, I swear.
While still unsure if they had changed anything, John wonders if altering the future would erase him from the timeline. Still, instead of going to ground they opt to go to Dyson's widow, to tell her what had happened, unaware that more Terminators were even then arriving...The time travel rules in Terminator are a little murky (right, like they're hard-and-fast everywhere else...) but I thought you had to be "covered in flesh" for the trip? Also, changing the timeline does not seem to be instant here; since I think Skynet had made several dozen "last gasp" attempts: every time they're on the verge of losing, they seemingly get another chance, which leads to another, then another...

I had to search the blog for Rod Whigham: I remembered him from G.I. Joe, but he had a run on the first regular Punisher series towards the end. I thought his likeness work was pretty good! Pretty sure they didn't have Schwarzenegger license rights, so those last two are just close-enough guys.
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Monday, November 23, 2020

I'd be kinda mad if I was portrayed as a blonde bombshell on the cover of my one-shot...

Was she a blonde in the old stories? Well, in the main feature of this one she's not: from 2009, Miss America Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1, "Shipyard Sabotage!" Written by Jen Van Meter, art by Andy MacDonald, color art by Nick Filardi.
Alongside her Liberty Legion teammates Blue Diamond and her fiance the Whizzer, Miss America recovers a missing spy from Brain Drain's mind-controlled slaves. The spy had learned the Nazis were targeting the new top-secret U.S.S. Markham, which was almost ready to leave the shipyard. She opts to get the spy back to report, then investigate the shipyard for enemy agents, since she's also cheesed that Whizzer's over-protectiveness is getting on her nerves. Undercover as reporter Maddy Joyce, she joins the female workers scrambling to finish the ship, before flushing out Madame Mauzer and her Ubermadchen: it's girl-on-girls action! Wait, that's not right...
This is a perfectly fun little story, with a lot of Nazi dames punched out: not an equality I'm thrilled to see, but yay? It must also kind of suck when you come up with good names for Ratzi characters that probably won't appear again, or will be reused in something way darker. An odd impression here: Miss America had the 'flying brick' powers like Rogue or Captain Britain, but because she seems more thoughtful, it's like she hovers more, checking out the situation. And her flight doesn't seem as zippy, more leisurely; which might have been to contrast with her contemporary Spitfire of the Invaders. (Or the Whizzer, I guess.) I don't think I had read many stories featuring Miss America before; partly because as the girl on the B-team to the Invaders I don't think she got a lot of face-time; but she was also killed off in 1974's Giant-Size Avengers #1. At one point she may have been believed to be Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch's mother; but no. Read more!

Friday, November 20, 2020

Wait, did they move the whole damn island? Well, it's Marvel, the islands do move around...

It's once again "did I read any comics this week o'clock," so we reach over and grab today's book! From 1997, Marvel Adventures #9, "Invasion" Written by Ralph Macchio, pencils by Andy Kuhn, inks by Harry Candelario.
The cover makes it look like a shrunken Fantastic Four are going to fix the Mole Man's choppers, which sadly doesn't happen today. Also, this story opens saying Monster Isle is in "the Atlantic's Bermuda Triangle." Since when? Maybe this is Monster Isle East or something. The Mole Man is ramping up his scheme to conquer the surface world for his love Kala, who is just fine without it, but Moley wants revenge for years of mistreatment and cruelty. After testing his earthquake weapon and its defenses, Mole Man takes his ultimatums to the United Nations, which, in the best super-villain tradition, argues ineffectually and can't even agree if they're in danger. Ugh, too real.
Reed sends Ben to Monster Isle to destroy the weapon, while he, Sue and Johnny fight the monsters. Ben isn't going to let anything stop him, but is surprised to actually be assisted by Kala, who doesn't want innocents hurt. Moreover, Kala reveals to the Mole Man, she could never have lived on the surface, since she was accustomed to conditions deep underground, and would age rapidly above. Mole Man makes the choice to call off his invasion and go home. He does promise rewards, presumably treats, to his monsters, so you know he's not all bad.
Scanwise we're going heavy on Moley and the monsters today, but that's all right. There isn't reference for a specific issue here, but at least some of this was built off of Marvel Treasury Edition #25.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

I had to look it up, and Prohibition ended in 1933; so most of this series took place maybe a year prior. Most of it, anyway. From 2014, Grendel vs. the Shadow #1-3, story and art by Matt Wagner.

I've only read the Batman/Grendel crossover issues, so I'm not real up on the character; but this was the original Hunter Rose version: a suave, refined criminal; also ruthless and seemingly unstoppable. After helping himself to a mysterious Chinese burial urn, he reads from the scroll within and inadvertently casts himself back to the past; which to Hunter Rose wasn't just a golden age of crime to play in, but also of literacy: he quickly establishes himself in New York's literary scene, with a novel set to be published shortly. Meanwhile, with his usual brutality and knowledge of the future, Grendel begins consolidating the mobs and preparing to diversify away from alcohol and invest in war materials. That might barely be a challenge for him; but the Shadow might be!

For his part, while Grendel may in fact be a more superior breed of criminal than usual, the Shadow is not impressed. He is wrapped up in the case, though, seemingly too busy to notice his longtime agent Margo Lane considering her future with him, as she comes into money with a rich uncle's death. The Shadow manages to take Grendel's weapon but come away with a broken nose as one point; and Grendel eventually realizes he may have been looking at the past through rose-colored glasses.

I don't think I had seen this one before finding all three issues in the quarter bin, but I know Wagner had done some other Shadow work. And while I'm not positive about Hunter Rose's fate, there seems to be more than a bit of foreshadowing for what's already happened to him.

Even though I got this for less than half the price of one issue (!) I like it too much to wedge into the scanner! The page above is from "Dark Horse's website.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2020


Marc may or may not be telling the truth here; but his Jake Lockley persona has snuck around on him before.

Seemingly a million years ago, in our first strips with Satana, she had picked up the ability to grind up evil souls for magic power. Not being particularly motivated to do anything with said power, it's not come up a whole bunch. Would most of Spidey's villains even notice if they had lost their souls? The Goblin types probably not; one like Doc Ock, who has occasionally had outside interests besides being a dick, that would bother him.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2020

This seems like as good a day as any for some Rogue Trooper, and we've randomly picked a winner! From 1989, Rogue Trooper #21/22, written by Gerry Finley-Day, art by Jose Ortiz. 

While the war between the Norts and Southers continued, by the point in the series Rogue's primary mission had shifted to "regening" his dead friends Helm, Bagman, and Gunnar; getting them out of their biochips and into new bodies. To that effect, they had left Nu Earth for the planet Horst, in search of a needed antigen for the procedure, only to discover the Norts and Southers were fighting there as well, through alien proxies: both sides had sent military "advisors" to train the natives to fight each other. (It's not dwelled upon or delved into, but it's entirely possible the alien species didn't like each other beforehand, I suppose.) A Souther advisor explains they picked the wrong aliens, and had been largely outclassed, to the point that the Southers had abandoned the planet. Still, the advisor tells Rogue where he can find the antigen information...or does he?
Rogue and the guys fight their way to another zone of the planet in their search, a "crater sea" full of beached ships and corpses. Finding a small craft, they're making good time, until they come across what could be mines. No such luck! The "Nort Navy" is crablike monsters...that strongly resemble Giger's Alien, but armed! Cornered on a small atoll, they manage to set up a "firing square." While Rogue fights them off with a shovel, and Bagman rolls grenades at them, Gunnar covers two sides, by bouncing bullets off of Helm! It's not all going swimmingly, though; as Bagman has noticed the tide is rising, and they would all be underwater shortly...
I don't know if Rogue Trooper ran constantly in 2000 AD, because it seems to run cliffhanger after cliffhanger after cliffhanger. This one almost literally so!
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Monday, November 16, 2020

I'm mildly surprised there weren't pogs for this. Were there pogs? Ah, I don't know.

When I was a kid, I saved up my Kenner proof-of-purchases and mailed in for the Boba Fett action figure. Many complain about the lack of the rocket-firing feature; but I didn't care, since to me it had been hundreds of years since I had ordered it and I was just glad to have it. Then poor Boba kind of gets clowned in Return of the Jedi. If only this chapter had filled the gap then...From 1996, Shadows of the Empire #1-6, written by John Wagner, pencils by Kilian Plunkett, inks by P. Craig Russell.

I don't know if Shadows of the Empire is fondly remembered; I can't even tell you it's remembered at all. This was a multimedia extravaganza with all the tie-ins you would get with a Star Wars movie, just without the Star Wars movie. It even had a soundtrack CD! There was a novel--written by Steve Perry, which ties in a lot here--toys, the video game. I hopped on a lot of those: I still have Dash Rendar and his ship the Outrider, partially because I crashed them, a lot, playing the game. This was set between Empire and Return, and Dash is not only the replacement Han, he's also the player character: he may be a bit of a knockoff, but I wonder if maybe he would be more fondly remembered if video game technology of the time had allowed for more decision making or sandbox exploring. Dash was written as somewhat more mercenary than Han, a more modern game might have had the opportunity for him to be more of a cad, or blow off missions too dangerous. (The comic also features Jix, an agent of Vader assigned to infiltrate Jabba the Hutt's men and watch for Luke: he could've been in the game for escort-style missions, as he saves Luke more than once from the swoop bike gangs.)

The comic, however, puts a lot of focus on Boba Fett making the trip to Tatooine, to get his big payoff from Jabba the Hutt, for the frozen Han Solo. By the Mandalorian, carbon freezing prisoners seems more commonplace; but here Fett describes him as "a work of art...'Man in Carbonite'--a masterpiece by Darth Vader!" Fett is also chatty here, often talking to Han; as he is repeatedly bushwacked by the other bounty hunters--IG-88, Bossk, Zuckuss, and 4-LOM--as they try to poach the bounty. Apparently nobody likes Dengar, or he knew better...You can feel Boba Fett getting surlier and surlier at Solo, who is safe as houses in his carbonite block, while Fett has to risk his neck and use a spare set of armor as a decoy in his end run to Jabba. (That also doesn't quite align with Mandalorian lore; that armor could've been more of a prize than Solo.) When Jabba tries to dicker on the price, Fett seems like he's ready to kill everyone in the building rather than hear that noise. That repressed rage kind of makes this one of my favorite Star Wars things, and it's just a weird little side trip. Which is usually what I like, actually.

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