Friday, January 29, 2021

Check out the link, since you may recognize the cover to today's book, from a Marvel house ad. But how is the issue? From 1985, Red Sonja #11, "Buried Alive!" Script and plot by Louise Simonson, plot and pencils by Mary Wilshire, inks by Vince Colletta.
Sonja spends most of this issue buried in an avalanche, unfortunately: it's up to her young companion Kynon to get help, which does involve fighting off a harpy. Most of the rest of the issue is given over to the evil sorceress Vassilisa Iceheart, who actually thinks she has Sonja's heart: previously, her "cavalok" Yuri had supposedly killed her, but he had instead captured Kynon's mother Bran, and had her chained up in the forest and gave the sorceress a deer's heart instead. I feel like I've heard that somewhere before...The handsome Yuri also charms the serving wench Llrissa into bringing Bran food: Llrissa doesn't believe Bran's story, but does suspect Yuri isn't sincere in his desire for her, especially since he's keeping a pretty redhead in a metal bikini chained up in a cave. Llrissa tries to convince Vassilisa that Yuri had made advances on her; which Vassilisa just sees as Llrissa being uppity, and opts to have her thrown into the pit of lost souls. Panicking, Llrissa gets real snitchy, tattling of Yuri's redhead captive, whom Vassilisa assumes is Sonja. That doesn't save Llrissa from the pit, though.
Before being rescued, Sonja has a vision, of the goddess that gave her power after she had been assaulted, many years ago: she was special, so act like it. Or, the vision could be Sonja's dead sorcerer friend Achmal, trying to motivate her to survive. Not unlike Moon Knight and Khonshu, Sonja's relationship with her goddess has been open to interpretation. Sonja's quest would run two more issues, but she would appear in Marvel's assorted Conan titles for years to come: it's still super-weird to me that Dynamite has her now. Read more!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Blogging this for when I inevitably find the next issue.

Which, based on past trends, should be like 4-6 years? The worst part is, I think I have it somewhere...From 2010, the Brave and the Bold #34, "Out of Time, part one of two" Written by J.Michael Straczynski, art by Jesus Saiz. 

 In the 30th century, Lightning Lad returns from a routine patrol of the solar system, to crash his rocket in front of Legion Headquarters. (Which, of course, was shaped like a rocket accident, although Saiz downplays it!) LL had found a rogue, "primordial black hole," making a beeline towards earth. Luckily, it wouldn't get there for a few weeks, so they had time to figure--oh, crap, it's here now! Cosmic Boy decides, their only chance, earth's only chance, was the time bubble...which disappears before they can get in! This time they catch a break, as it seemingly was just on the other side of the room, and write it off as magnetic distortion. Still, going ahead 24 hours, they find earth completely destroyed; which doesn't make a lot of sense to them: they had been to earth's future. The Legion figure they need help from the past; but not Superboy or Superman: they need specific power-sets to destroy a black hole.
In the distant past, the Legion pick up Elasti-girl, Robotman, and Negative Man--the Doom Patrol! They're of course ready to help, once you get past their usual grumbling...and that darn time bubble moved again! Cliff shrugs it off; but their trip to the future is interrupted by technical issues: someone got a pink-and-white fluffball in one of the components. Garth and Imra give Rokk a bit of side-eye, but he denies it being his, even if it matched his colors. Facing the black hole, the plan is for Negative Man and Lightning Lad (with Robotman as a ground!) to zap the black hole and force it to expend enough energy to break up. Cosmic Boy tries to keep a magnetic force-field to keep them all alive; while Cliff grooves on the trippy colors. Unexpectedly, though, Rita watches the controls as a time surge hits them, taking them forward to watch the black hole dissipate. They aren't entirely sure how, but they did it!
The Legion returns the Doom Patrol to the past; where they are greeted by a particularly sour Chief, who describes it as "probably the worst day of my life," which is a strong sentiment from a guy in a wheelchair. What happened to him? And where did the pink fluff come from? Well, the next issue was the last of the series, so I guess we'll get to it eventually. 

 Aside from the odd little time hiccups, this is almost too utilitarian an issue: I feel like there's more to be done with the Legion's bracing optimism and the Doom Patrol's snarkily cheerful fatalism. But the next issue, if you didn't already know, goes in a different direction...
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Wednesday, January 27, 2021


I think Reed is implying, if not outright saying, he thinks H.E.R.B.I.E.'s time is more valuable than Spider-Man's.

I told a friend once that I'd like to have Spider-sense, but he pointed out that without the other powers, to maybe do something about danger, it would be the worst power in the world. Like a screaming warning for something you couldn't avoid. I don't think you need Spider-speed or Spider-strength to get out of every situation, but...

Do Venoms--okay, symbiotes--still have sonics as their Kryptonite? Moreover, because it would probably be boring if Spidey defeated Venom the same way every time, comics writers have to try and re-invent the wheel every time, even if it would make sense for Spidey to beat Venom with the power of metal every time. (See also: every time the Hulk gets cured, then turned back into the Hulk, and that cure is never tried again, even if no reason is given for it not working more than once.) Also, reading that, you should drink every time I say "every time." 

Would Venom-Cap bite a Nazi's head off? I'm going to say yes, but he'd probably chew it up a bit and spit it out. The movie version of Venom may be different, but I don't think he necessarily needs the important vitamins and nutrients in tasty, tasty brains; it was a bit of smack-talk to Spidey that has become a recurring bit. In-continuity, I could be wrong, though.

I have absolutely no idea what Satana is drinking this week. Traditionally, I don't think you chug brandy...

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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

She'll probably sign that for you if you ask nice, Dane!

A history of the Black Knights and the Ebony Blade? This is what happens when you don't get your first pick of research subjects. From 2014, Original Sins #2, featuring "Black Legacy" Written by Frank Tieri, art by Raffaele Ienco, color art by Brad Anderson; "Hidden in Plain Sight, part 2 of 5" Written by Ryan North, art by Ramon Villalobos, color art by Jordan Gibson; and "Before Your Eyes" Story and art by Ty Templeton, colors by Paul Mounts.
I think I've even read at least part of the main Original Sin miniseries, and I know part of the gimmick was the Watcher had been murdered, and his exploding eyes revealed a number of secrets. I'm not sure how far that effect went, since this issue it gets to the Black Knight and Howard the Duck. After a bit of excessive force on a D-grade villain, Dane has holed up in his apartment, as a historian tries to confront him with the increasing likelihood that he was going to succumb to the curse of the Ebony Blade. She knows it has him like a junkie, and probably even knows Dane is considering killing her as they speak. This predates the shortened series Tieri would later write, although I think I like the art better here.
There was a five-part Young Avengers vs. the Hood serial, where I think the kids think they have Hood's number multiple times over the course of it, but he's slipperier than greased grease. And then a all-too-short Howard the Duck story, where even he gets shown an unpleasant truth from the Watcher's eye-splosion: that he might be one of the smartest beings in the universe. Or, at least he could've been. I think Templeton's written Howard more than once, and may have the best handle on the character since Gerber. (I'm not the biggest Howard fan, but I do still like that he's out there.)
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Monday, January 25, 2021

Back when a Superman/Batman fight still had a smidge of novelty.

Only 21 31 years ago! From 1991, Superman Annual #3, "Execution 2001" Written by Dan Jurgens, pencils by Dusty Abell, inks by Terry Austin, John Beatty, Dick Giordano, and Dennis Janke. 

After the initial framing issue (which I don't think I remembered had been written by Archie Goodwin!) this is the first chapter of Waverider's time traveling quest to find the hero who would become the future tyrant Monarch; and he's starting at the top, invisibly reviewing what was going to happen to Superman. The next year or so was looking pretty good for him, as Clark finally marries Lois; but their time together is interrupted by Intergang accidentally detonating a nuke in Metropolis in a blackmail scheme gone awry. Lois (and most of the regular supporting cast) is killed, along with a few million others; and it pretty obviously breaks Superman. He marries Lana--a bounce-back thing, but she doesn't care--and begins a quest to rid the earth of nuclear weapons. Which is the sort of thing the government loves, until he comes for their nukes: in 2001, Superman forces the crew of a nuclear submarine to abandon ship, then sinks it.

President Forrest has had more than enough of "Superman's law," and the news that seven sailors didn't get off the sub in time and died gives him a public relations weapon against him. He also tries to leverage that crime into getting Batman on the case: Bats doesn't believe Forrest, and considers him an opportunist who rode the Metropolis disaster into power. Angrily, Forrest tells him the Justice League would bring Superman down, then...maybe do something about Gotham later too. Back in Smallville, Superman was feeling the heat, but was more concerned with his mom, who was well into Alzheimer's.  Bruce Wayne visits him, and asks about the drowned sailors: Superman maintains the sub was clear. But Supes still refuses to back down, and Bruce notices him call Lana "Mrs. Kent" when he leaves: Lana had also noticed him acting like Superman and Clark were two different people. 

In Washington DC, Tim Drake investigates and finds the dog tags of the drowned would their tags be recovered from a sunken sub? And why would they be in a file? Elsewhere, Superman is confronted by Fire, Booster Gold, and the Martian Manhunter; and is more harsh than usual with them. There are some troubling little things, like his snarky comment to Booster about gambling, a dig at his past; or letting a blast bounce off him and hit Fire. He also leaves the unconscious J'onn in a fire, since he knew his vulnerability to fire had been removed. Physically perhaps, but not psychologically: J'onn has a heart attack and dies, while Superman coldly remarks that he didn't kill him.

With the heroes and the government ramping up their fight against him, Superman has to abandon the farm, and take Ma Kent and Lana to the Fortress of Solitude. The unfamiliar surroundings do not help Ma's health, but while reassuring Lana Superman hears Batman calling him out, to a meeting at "a place in Gotham that's very important to (him.)" It's Crime Alley, and that and Batman's armor are of course direct callbacks to the Dark Knight Returns, but the ensuing fight is drawn more from then-recent Superman continuity: Batman still had Lex Luthor's Kryptonite ring, which Superman had given him for just such an occasion. Supes is able to slap it out of Batman's armored hand, but luckily Robin was there to help out. As Superman dies, Batman wonders who they'll send after him when his time comes.

Waverider isn't thrilled about seeing that, but at least Superman didn't become Monarch? That Batman, though...We actually looked at a bit of that issue years ago; and it would be a couple before Waverider would realize he was seeing possible futures, since Supes and Bats would get a couple annuals in this crossover.

I wouldn't have minded seeing Abell draw more comics; I only have a couple others from him. Read more!

Friday, January 22, 2021

Today, Superman vs. Venoms Marvel's legal department!

OK, they aren't really Venoms; they just really look like them. Venom-adjacent. Also, I think I knew this variant cover with Green Lanterns didn't have anything do to with the actual comic; but Superman wasn't even in the same costume! From 2015, Action Comics #44, "Hard Truth, part four" Written by Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder, art by Aaron Kuder and Howard Porter.
As usual, I'm coming in late here, but this is t-shirt and jeans Superman, and his identity is public here! His powers have also been fading, as shadow monsters keep attacking Metropolis, apparently controlled by the mayor! Announcing herself as "Wrath" (and no relation to the Batman villain, sadly) she throws down with the furious Supes, even though he knows she is feeding on his anger. Elsewhere in Metropolis, angry citizens, seemingly infected by the shadow, turn on the others; although they sound like they were already turning on them, pointing the finger at Superman and his supporters.
When a cop that previously didn't like him now nearly dies defending him, Superman decides not all anger deserves the punishment of Wrath: "...this is righteous." That may be splitting hairs, since it doesn't appear to slow her down any. Laughing, Wrath disappears (after getting clocked with a motorcycle) since she and her shadows were now "ready for the real fight." Elsewhere, Superman's friend Lee is infected with the shadow, but uses it for good, saving people trapped in a burning building. Could she stay in control of it?

The people of Metropolis come together in the aftermath, at least a little. Superman is still hurt that he's not "everyone's friend," but instead of sulking sets out in search of Wrath, who visits a sleazy hotel to meet up with her friends...

Jimmy Olsen is in here, but he's the only traditional supporting cast member present this issue. I'm not sure if that was the status quo for the time, or how long Superman's secret identity was public this time around, but not a bad issue.
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Thursday, January 21, 2021

I was thinking the earlier series never did this, but I guess What If? did on occasion go to multi-part stories, like "Timequake." But I think each chapter of that one was still pretty readable as a single-issue. How is today's book? From 2013, What If? AVX #3, written by Jimmy Palmiotti, pencils by Gerardo Sandoval, inks by Gerardo Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona.

This was part three of four, so it's already a fair piece down the road from how AvX played out before; as Wolverine has "accidentally murdered" Storm and the Phoenix Force now has Hope. With her new ultimate power, she can see the Avengers want to help, but would destroy her if she got out of hand, and she casts the Avengers present from the moon back to earth. Magneto offers to train Hope in the use of her power, but Emma warns the X-Men that Magneto intends to use Hope to wipe out humanity and rebuild with the mutants that back him. Logan appears to be having a bit of a soak during that telepathic conversation, but he may be trying to kill himself. He is interrupted by Iron Man 'rescuing' him, and passes along Professor X's message, reaching out to the Avengers to work together and stop Magneto. Without a lot of consultation, Cap and Iron Man signal the Black Panther for "plan B," nuking Hope!
That of course just pisses her off, but even with his ship thrashed by Magneto, Black Panther opts to go out fighting. Hope is intent on giving humanity a not-so-friendly warning, but first turns on Emma for warning them, shattering her. While the Avengers and X-Men prepare for a last stand, Wolverine approaches Professor X with "a choice." Magneto and Hope, now fully the Phoenix, begin their assault, first destroying earth's communication satellites, then multiple strikes of massive fireballs, taking out multiple monuments, including the Baxter Building! (The FF could have survived, but it's not looking good.)

This was okay, but not as...economic, story-telling wise? As old What If? issues. Like with a bit of narration from the Watcher, this could've been a single 40-page issue. Also, you may or may not be onboard with Magneto's betrayal: does he ever move forward as a character, or does that leopard not change his spots?

I picked this issue up at EntertainMart, but there was a stamp on the backing board from Astro Zombies in Albuquerque! It may have travelled a bit to end up with me.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2021


I wouldn't say I was a fan, but I'm pretty sure I've probably seen Friends all the way through. Which is weird, since there's other series like the Office that I liked better but never bothered to watch all of.

Cap isn't quite going full Cobra Commander with hisssss ssssss-ssssoundsss--quit that! But it's noticeable. I also feel like, in keeping with Krakoa's general acceptance of whatever, Kurt figures maybe Pool and Cap legitimately want to be Venoms. Look, the world is terrible, covering yourself in bitey alien horribleness seems fairly reasonable. Spidey may just be prejudiced against Venoms...

Sat may be teasing Kurt a bit here, but in her story about supervillain girls wanting Captain America, I don't think Diamondback is an outlier. Plus, to mix some metaphors, Cap is basically superhero royalty, and it's probably assumed Avengers membership comes with dating him or something. (It absolutely wouldn't; Cap could be dating Wonder Woman and she'd still have to audition, to show she got in on her own merits, even if it was super obvious.)

Oh, and I almost forgot: "Join Us" is probably definitely from Evil Dead: the Musical! It's completely inappropriate and the Youngest and I have probably listened to it 300 times. Read more!

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Somewhat disappointingly, Superman does not cleave anyone in twain this issue.

I hadn't read this one before, but I usually enjoy a nice annual. This is an odd one, though: from 1984, Superman Annual #10, "The Day the Cheering Stopped!" Written by Elliot S! Maggin, pencils by Curt Swan, inks by Murphy Anderson. Cover by Eduardo Barreto.
This is a bit more grandiose than Superman fans have probably seen recently, beginning with random cheering aliens watching Superman save a distant planet, and ending with Supes rejecting possibly becoming big-g God. There's also a sword with the S-symbol on the hilt, created in the Big Bang, a Jimmy Olsen kidnapping, a space shuttle mission to launch a billionaire into orbit, and a ridiculously obscure Superman villain we've seen on the blog before: King Kosmos! (How? I think this accounts for all his appearances!)
Next year's annual, of course, would be "For the Man that has Everything." It's, um, a little better known. And we've also seen the 1998 Superman Annual #10!
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Monday, January 18, 2021

It's time to once again ask, was this comic next to my scanner because I intended to blog it, or did it just land there? (Or hop up there itself?) From 1994, Avengers #370, "Delta Force" Written by Glenn Herdling, layouts by Geor Isherwood, finishes by Al Milgrom and Tom Yates.
I was expecting Harras and Epting on this one, but they may have taken a couple off after the X-Men Bloodties crossover. The regular plotlines seem to be moving forward, though; and the art is pretty close to the book's usual for the time. Though I did catch one more cartoony expression on Cap, side-eying the Black Knight complaining about the West Coast Avengers disbanding. An injured Sersi, missing an arm, has crash-landed, seemingly from space; in the secret base of the Deviant Kro. How could this have happened? Well, the team deploys to answer a distress call from "Deviant Lemuria," but very quickly is caught flat-footed by Deviant "brain mines." (I'd love to stop saying "Deviant" but probably won't be able to this post!) The Deviant priest is pleased with their haul, although Black Knight and Giant-Man are sent to the arena, since they were plain humans. The Deviants also have brain-mined Varua, of the Young Gods, and she gathers blood from the prisoners for a sacrifice to--something. We don't find out yet, since Sersi is able to fight off the mine, but catches a blast from the "dispersatron." Deviants know, "the only way to slay an Eternal is to completely disintegrate the molecules!" Hurt, Sersi was left with few options: the WCA were gone, her own Eternals didn't trust her; but she had heard Kro was working with the government to integrate Deviants into society. A surprisingly progressive program! That also explains Kro's somewhat unstylish suit. Kro checks the "Delta network" for Deviants that could help them, putting together a crew including a few familiar faces like Ransak, Karkas, and Red Bull! We remember him from Thor #290, but while he was a wrestler in that issue (and another Deviant is a wrestler here) today Red Bull is living a Shazam-style arrangement with an autistic Mexican boy. Kro even tags in his own kids, who can combine to form Tzabaoth! (I had to look that up, since I was pretty sure I knew who the mom was, though she may have used a surrogate?)
Still, when Sersi leads the "Delta Force" to rescue the Avengers, Cap tries to warn Sersi it was a trap: the brain mine hadn't completely released her, but compelled her to gather her team and lead it to the slaughter! (Shades of Giant-Size X-Men #1!) Worse, the blood she had lost had been enough of a sacrifice to bring back Lord Ghaur, and now he had gathered the pieces he needed to conquer the world... I had thought Ghaur had been left dead since Atlantis Attacks, so...surprise! I think this ran only another issue, so I'm not sure that's enough space to give all the Delta Force something to do. Read more!