Friday, February 26, 2021

It's kind of less "versus" than "babysits" this time around...

I usually read the first Batman vs. Predator maybe once a year, but I hadn't gotten to this one: from 2007, Superman and Batman versus Aliens and Predator, written by Mark Schultz, art by Ariel Olivetti. 

By this point, I think there had been three BvsP series, Superman vs. Predator, both of them separately versus Aliens, and a JLA vs. Predator; so Supes and Bats are kind of "ugh, these guys." A volcano in the Andes is about to blow, but it's also secretly the home to a tribe of Predators that had crashed on earth during the ice age, and hating cold they set up shop in the volcano. These Preds are kind of throwbacks: while they still have the ship and the weapons, they do not appear to have completely fetishized the ritual of hunting like the other ones we've seen. Don't read too much into their anthropology, though, the Preds still had an Alien hive, for weekend hunting or whatever. Maybe they were milking them, I don't know. 

With a paranoid government agency throwing a fit about it, Supes and Bats (and Lois, who is delightfully chill with her husband's weird work friend) get the Predators and the Aliens into the Fortress of Solitude, so they can get them on their way back home. Somewhat predictably, none of them co-operate in the slightest. Batman may have lost a bit of patience here: he tells Supes at one point, he's sworn never to take a human life. He may be snarking a little, but that may be a dick thing to say to Superman with his wife right there. Superman, who claims to have maybe lost a step a couple times here, is largely on top of things; freezing the xenomorph eggs for transport: he doesn't like them, but feels they must play a part in the grand scheme of the universe. Or something. I respectfully disagree; but they get the job done. And with Ariel Olivetti art, it's a pretty book: I got it on a buy one/get one deal, I wonder what the other book was...
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Thursday, February 25, 2021

Sure you're lost and confused, but it could be worse. Did I mention the lizard-men?

I'm not 100% sure there was a good reason for this one, but let's see what we get out of it: from 2020, Young Justice #13, "Warlords, part 1" Written by Brian Michael Bendis and David Walker, art by Michael Avon Oeming, Mike Grell, and John Timms.
So I think this incarnation of the title was bringing back some of the original Young Justice, namely Impulse and Conner-Superboy and possibly Cassie-Wonder Girl, even if they didn't fit in continuity and maybe hadn't been used in this form since the New 52 started; along with a good number of new or new-ish teen heroes: Jinny Hex, Teen Lantern, Amythest, the Wonder Twins, the Dial H kids, and Bendis's new Naomi. Oh, and Tim Drake was "Drake" this issue; that got thrown into the memory hole pretty quickly: he's his usual Robin-y self, just with a horrible brown-ish costume. Even though collectively they're more than a bit uncertain, they still want to rescue Conner from S.T.A.R. Labs. (As an older Superman reader, I will never get used to S.T.A.R. being used for evil.)
One problem: Conner's not there, he's entered the lost world of the Warlord! He's also more than at the end of his rope, so a surprisingly sensitive Travis tries to give him a bit of a pep talk, which gives us a chance for some absolutely gorgeous Mike Grell art. Travis thought he was lost when he landed in Skartaris, but that's where he really found himself: in a very Bendis bit, he confesses occassionally wondering where he would've ended up back on earth, like a department store manager or something. They are then interrupted by "the Green Manaleeshi," who appears to have a Kryptonite sword. (Callback to Warlord's Justice League Unlimited episode, where Kryptonite played a part.) I don't think we've seen him before, but Travis is already sick of him.
As the Young Justice team flies to Nevada, in somewhat terrifying fashion; Drake contacts Impulse, who of course is already there, but with the second part of their plan: more Young Justice! Aqualad, Spoiler, Arrowette, and Sideways! OK, I admit I hadda look the last two up. (I've seen Arrowette before, but wasn't sure what name she was using now.) 

I think I read something somewhere wondering exactly why Conner ends up in Skartaris, like it may not have fit in the narrative but Bendis wanted some Warlord, so crammed it in with everything else. Sometimes that might annoy me, but today I think I'm good with it! The other thing I noticed was Cassie seeming to slip into Wonder Woman's more formal speech patterns, possibly to fill that role for the team and rally them, since the new kids appeared to have a collected three days of experience. And classic Warlord! If Travis isn't going to have his own book, this is how I like to picture him: just kicking back, relatively speaking, living his life with all his crew.
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Wednesday, February 24, 2021


So, a large part of this one is my confusion over the current spider-naming when they're all together, especially since Miles seems to usually be labelled as "Miles Morales" on the packaging for his figures, doesn't he? Miles deserves to be Spider-Man, and it's not usually confusing unless he and Peter and a bunch of guys that don't know them are all there. Morbius probably has to keep track of sixteen different Ghost Riders and such, so he should be able to get this faster; but like Spidey I have been part of far too many conversations that just go off the rails. 

I read at least part of the recent Avengers "Age of Khonshu" storyline (one issue has the Alex Ross Ghost Rider cover, which I didn't need but absolutely shelled out for) wherein both Moon Knight and his god both go off the rails, fight the Avengers, and get shut down. I think part of their motivation for extreme measures is to fight Mephisto or something, but Aaron's Khonshu is also a much needier one than we've seen before: he seems to still be put out that he was invited to join the prehistoric Avengers. I'm not sure I love any of that; and like Hickman Aaron seems to be intent on trying to make Star Brand happen. Just--just don't. I liked the way it was used in Quasar, and that would've been a perfectly fine place to leave it. At any rate, even if he messed up and his god was out of it, I think Marc would shrug that off as an oopsie and get back to the business of beating up thugs and so forth, street level mayhem.

 How does Kurt know Falcon? Because Sam was a recurring character for a bit in our strips, up to when Kurt was killed off in the comics back in 2010! Ooh, the old Toy Biz Falcon there. We got a movie one in 2016 and Captain America Sam late the same year, but I don't think they have appeared much.
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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

All right, I may be overthinking some of this, but some recent pickups:
The Walgreens streak continues, with the new Silver Surfer figure with Mjolnir. I have not read those issues, but I do believe that's for future-Thanos-fighting. Is he absolutely necessary? Not really, but he's nice. I would've almost preferred the Keeper look from Valentino's Guardians of the Galaxy, where future Surfer was still silver but also had Quasar's quantum bands--and Hasbro did just announce a Walgreen-exclusive Quasar, coming after their Nova later this year. 

Also: Fortnite's 8-Ball! Pretty nice figure, although the jointed hands continue to be somewhat annoying. Still haven't played the game, but I could probably be persuaded for the upcoming Kit and Midas figures. (I kind of want Midas for a custom, which I rarely do; but it would involve swapping out those hands anyway, so...)
I really wanted this Hot Wheels "hover pram" Grogu/the Child/Baby Yoda vehicle, but was surprised how close it was in scale to the Star Wars Black figure. Neat.
Every time I get all the pieces for a Build-a-Figure, I take a picture of them before putting it together. If I was smart, I'd have put all those pictures in the same folder...
I really feel like I caved on this one: I bought the Gamerverse Atmosphere Iron Man and Stealth Captain America, just because I got a bee in my bonnet to finish Joe Fixit. Who could really have used alternate hands, but okay. Atmosphere is an okay armor, with an alternate unmasked head that's closer to Adam Pally than Tony Stark. (Go watch Iron Man 3 again.) I just took the leg out of Stealth, then put a Spider-Man figure from a Kinder egg and a five dollar bill, and that will go to Toys for Tots towards the end of the year: that struck me as a cheat, but some kid would probably enjoy him more than I would, but they probably wouldn't be able to build Fixit, right? If I see him on the pegs somewhere in January 2022, then I know it didn't work... 

The Hand Ninja, well, it was the first one I'd seen in the wild, so I had to, right?  Due to the Conservation of Ninjutsu, he's probably a bad-ass; if your Stilt-Man is three feet tall your ninjas are weaksauce...I still haven't seen a Gwen/Spider-Ham figure, though; and it seems like the Peter Parker and Frogman figures might be building up a bit?

Coming up next: I guess the House of X figures are soon, and...meh? I'll probably get Moira and whatever the Omega Sentinel girl is. I'm probably all in on the villains wave so I can build Xemnu, even though I'm not super-loving the whole line-up. Hood as a yelling d-bag seems about right for him, and Arcade seems well put together; but Dormammu I was fine with the BaF version, I don't really need the A.I.M. Scientist Supreme unless I wanted to put together an army of them. (And I don't, I just like Amy!) I feel like I've bought more than enough Red Skull figures over the years, I don't have any attachment to Lady Deathstrike, and that Doom is event specific and awful: it gives the impression of a bare torso, which would be weirdly showy for him, like wearing Destro's v-neck and medallion or something. I'd have preferred Doom 2099, or Walt Simonson's sadly forgotten look for him. But I don't think I can pass on Xemnu, so...

I could conceivably talk myself into or out of a couple of Mezco One:12 figures: Christopher Reeve movie Superman, or Morbius. They also announced a Fantastic Four, that looks like it's going to be a set; and I've already seen people trying to puzzle out how to just get the Thing. Good luck! The One:12 stuff, if you think you maybe might want it; honestly, bite the bullet. Odds of the price going down later aren't good, and the availability could dry up in a snap. Worst case, you're probably going to recoup a lot of your costs if you decide to sell down the line. I think. None of anything I ever say should be considered "advice."
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Monday, February 22, 2021

I don't talk about current comics enough--well, I guess we mentioned the current Star Trek series a bit ago--but here's another recent book I'm now down for, even as it gets sucked into a crossover: from 2021, Daredevil #26, "The Black Kitchen" Written by Chip Zdarsky, art by Marco Checchetto and Mike Hawthorne, inks by Adriano Di Benedetto. 

Matt, as Daredevil, was currently in prison; on a two-year bid for manslaughter. Elektra had wanted him to break out and join her in creating the Fist, to finally crush the Hand once and for all: Matt declines, thinking she had to earn his trust. Somewhat grudgingly, Elektra decides to do just that, making an absolutely stylin' costume for herself, and protecting Hell's Kitchen as Daredevil. She almost certainly has some ulterior motives--I think if they form the Fist, one of them is prophesized to die, and she may want to make sure it's her--but there's a massive sense of "I'll show him" here. Even though she feels it's largely pointless, as when she stops a gunrunner from doing business in the Kitchen: she doesn't really care what he does elsewhere, but also thinks turning him over to the cops would just be more corruption.
Speaking of corruption, Wilson Fisk is still mayor, now with Typhoid Mary as his head of security. (I don't know how long that's been the case: it feels like rolling back a bit of development for Typhoid, but it also sort of works?) Wearing her hair up, and her face half-painted, with a couple swords on her back...that could just read as 'formal superhero wear' to the people of New York. Fisk's right-hand man Wesley is there as well...I thought he was killed off in the last run; but there was a long dream sequence in there, so maybe not. But, none of our characters are prepared for today's nonsense, an invasion of Venoms! Fisk seems unwilling to leave Typhoid as she holds off the Venoms, then is engulfed. In the prison, Matt misses his soundproof room, since he can hear everything in the prison (...ew) and tries to warn the guards of the symbiote intruder, since he knows that's out of their league. And in a bar, hiding out from the invasion, a stepmom steps in to stop her underage daughter getting hit on, and gets slapped for her trouble. The daughter changes her tune when the stepmom gets creepily Venomed, and tries to make her one too. Elektra steps in to save the daughter, mentally complaining that "Matt's life is a horror show. His city is a horror show." Even though she doesn't think much of the situation or the daughter, feeling Matt's judgement, Elektra absolutely refuses to let anything happen to her. Which may be put to the test, when a Venomed Typhoid Mary shows up.
For good measure, in prison, Matt is Venomed as well, with Knull imploring him to join them. Venomdevil isn't as good a design as the Infinity War Doppelganger-DD, sorry.
The people of NYC already seem to know there's a new DD here; I was expecting a few issues of the cops wondering why billy-club beatings were down, but stabbings way up. A comic shop guy suggested this was the first real development for Elektra in who knows how long; but I just love the notion of her trying to pound the square peg into the round hole: can Elektra use her skill set to do a Daredevil's job? Does she want to, really? She often seems to be asking herself, "What would Matt do?...something stupid." I would be legitimately surprised not if Elektra saves the daughter, but if that sparks any sort of warm feelings in her. Also, while I'm sure Matt opting for prison makes sense in a big-picture, protecting other heroes and the law way; it pretty obviously also makes sense for his colossal martyr complex; which I believe Elektra even calls him on, for the good that does her.

That and her costume is great; Marvel Legend soon, please.
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Friday, February 19, 2021

Ah, I'm dumb: even though this says "Fall of the Mutants" right on the cover, I was thinking Mutant Massacre. Well, maybe I've finally read all of Fall of the Mutants, then. From 1988, Power Pack #35, "Life or Death!" Written by Louise Simonson, pencils by Jon Bogdanove, inks by Hilary Barta.
The older Power kids are grounded today, leaving the phone and the TV under the thumb of the youngest, Katie; who leaves them watching "Goo-Gams." No relation! Their dad calls from a business trip, with their mom on her way home on the subway, when a blackout hits. After some shenanigans and squabbling looking for the flashlight and radio, they learn this is no ordinary blackout, it's the work of the Four Horsemen of Apocalypse. (As we previously saw in Daredevil #252, and Incredible Hulk #340 was a tie-in as well.) Since she wasn't grounded, and she knew what route their mom took, Katie uses her lightspeed powers (the rainbow-flying ones) and takes off to look for her. In the subways, the Horseman Pestilence is making people sick, and Katie tries to lure her away from the subway cars. Giving chase, Pestilence manages to touch Katie, but then flies into a wall. Sick, Katie takes the exit to the surface, and lands in a dumpster: Pestilence follows but doesn't see her.
Back home, the rest of the Powers wish they could have stopped Katie, then see the arrival of Apocalypse's massive Ship. That prompts them to break their grounding and head out, and they send a power-ball signal, which Katie sees. Reunited, the kids knew how to heal themselves from an earlier visit to Snarkworld (I thought this was Snarkworld...) but then have to save people from debris, caused by Ship colliding with buildings. They see Marvel Girl and Cyclops trying to stop the antenna from the Empire State Building from falling, and Pestilence going after them. Julie knocks her off her horse, and Katie tries to save Pestilence from falling, but gets sick again in the attempt. Pestilence both falls and a good chunk of the antenna lands on her; and Katie is still sad she wasn't able to save the mean old woman. Marvel Girl tries to comfort her; maybe she wanted to die. Doubtful, but it's a polite thing to say after a try like that.
As Cyclops and Marvel Girl take the fight to Apocalypse, Power Pack might get the tougher job of keeping the Ship from crashing into the Statue of Liberty. They succeed, and see X-Factor victorious: they also hear a news report about X-Factor's previous mutant-hunting secret identities, which confuses them, too. (Relax, that never made any sense to anyone.) Racing home, they arrive as their mom returns, from having gone looking for them: Katie admits she went out first, and the rest had to come looking for her, but mom is too glad they're all safe.

Man, Power Pack kind of had a rep of being a 'kiddie' book, but it was pretty solid sometimes. This one holds up!

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Thursday, February 18, 2021

The last Two-Face appearance we looked at was his last full one before the New 52; at least he gets co-billing this issue! From 2014, Batman and Robin Two-Face #28, "The Big Burn: Inferno" Written by Peter J. Tomasi, pencils and inks by Patrick Gleason, additional inks by Mick Gray. This was during the stretch when Damian was dead, so different characters got cover billing even if the actual title of the book didn't change. 

As usual, we're coming in mid-story here: Batman is racing to save Harvey Dent, before he's murdered on live TV by masked "benefactors" with a "vested interest in keeping (Gotham) safe and secure..." Bats gives his prisoner Erin McKillen the option to do the right thing, but she's obviously stalling, so he has to figure out the undisclosed location himself, ejecting her from the Batmobile. The benefactors light up the witness stand around Two-Face with flamethrowers, but Batman arrives in time to save him and return his coin; which Two-Face chalks up to guilt over Erin escaping after murdering Harvey's wife Gilda. (She had been believed dead before! And possibly more than once.) Batman tries to reach out to his friend, the Harvey he knew, asking him to "channel the pain" into something good; Two-Face shouts back "Like you did, Bruce?" That shuts him up for a minute.
While giving a somewhat hokey speech about the edge of the coin--too "meet in the middle" for my tastes now--Batman manages to give them an opening, which Two-Face exploits by helping himself to a flamethrower and lighting up his assailants. After Batman turns the sprinkler system back on to save them, Two-Face again chides him: "Always putting out fires, Batman--"
More after the break. WARNING: Suicide.
There's a brief flashback, to the younger Bruce introducing Gilda to Harvey: perhaps cleverly, aside from a reflection, Harvey is only shown in profile from one side or the other during it. Two-Face runs into Commissioner Gordon on his way out, and shoots him, then gives him the coin toss--which gets stuck on its edge in the mud--then steals a police motorcycle and escapes. Batman has to stop Gordon's bleeding, so it's a clean getaway. Or is it? Later, in prison, Erin McKillen gives an inspirational speech to her fellow women prisoners, a variation of the "two wolves inside me" story; while Two-Face returns home, gets cleaned up, and puts a gun to his head while looking at a picture of his wife. He tells her he feels lucky today, and pulls the trigger before his coin stops spinning.
I'm used to Batman villains routinely escaping certain death, but this one feels different. Still retcon-able, but...yeah. After Vigilante #50 I would not have bet on this one; but it's also a bit crap: Two-Face is obviously going to return. Some people who attempt suicide do not

If you're considering suicide, don't. Call 1-800-273-8255. We need you.
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Wednesday, February 17, 2021


Let's see...looking it up, Amazing Spider-Man #252 was May 1984, so it is coming up on 40 years. Not there yet, though.

Gwen and Miles are both somewhat bratty this time around, which is probably the symbiotes' influence. Probably. They could just be tired of 'Dad' and his somewhat overbearing overprotectiveness. Since I've only read the Spider-books very sparingly since "One More Day," I'm not sure what they call each other when all three are there, but others who don't know their secret identities are present as well. 'Dad,' 'Junior,' and 'Missy'? I am willing to bet I'm wrong on this one. I know (from the recent OAFE review) Gwen lost her powers recently, and got them back with a different kind of symbiote than the tradtional Venom.
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Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Love Bill Sienkiewicz, but never liked those kids.

So I'm not sure I had actually read this one all the way through before: from 1984, the New Mutants #20, "Badlands" Written by Chris Claremont, art by Bill Sienkiewicz. 

This was the conclusion to the "Demon Bear" saga, with Dani Moonstar already hospitalized by the titular bear that killed her parents when she was a child. As doctors struggle to save her life, the New Mutants fight to defend their teammate, but get sucked into the bear's realm, an America untouched by the white man. The bear's captives, supporting characters Officer Corsi and Nurse Friedlander, are transformed into demons; and the kids fight hard but have no idea what they're doing. There is also an alarming amount of suspicion and in-fighting: Magma figures they'll probably have to kill Corsi and Friedlander to save themselves, while Roberto thinks maybe they shouldn't go there first thing. Rahne and Sam both seem to have a fair amount of distrust for demon sorceress Illyana, who doesn't trust herself much either. Her Soulsword does the trick, though, eventually killing the bear and freeing them all, including Dani's lost parents for good measure.  (Not 'freed' as in to go to heaven or whatever, as usually happens in this sort of thing, but back to regular life, apparently the same age they were when they disappeared.)

With the help of the Morlock healer Storm brings in, Dani is saved from death and paralysis, although she's probably looking at some painful rehab, and is reunited with her folks. Corsi and Friedlander are alive as well, although they were still "red Indians," as Rahne indelicately puts it, and might probably remain so. (They would: Corsi would make appearances in Uncanny and Generation X, while Friedlander would later be killed by Frenzy. No, not that one.)

This issue is more of Sienkiewicz moving to the next level after his Moon Knight days, and is just incredible. Even not really liking the New Mutants, I have to appreciate this. 
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Monday, February 15, 2021

I probably could've taken this comic apart for better scans, it wouldn't have hurt it any.

Back in the second year of this blog we saw a later Batman/Mister Miracle team-up from Brave and the Bold, and today I just so happen to have an earlier one. Sure it's beat to hell, but that just means it's been loved! From 1974, The Brave and the Bold #112, featuring "The Impossible Escape" Written by Bob Haney, art by Jim Aparo. 

This was a hundred-pager, but it's sadly lost the cover and a few pages, so I don't get to see the conclusion of Batman and Green Lantern's team-up against the Time Commander, or the first few pages of this one. And since it's Bob Haney, we could've already missed an alien invasion, a South American coup, three visits from Morgana the kissing bandit, and the astonishing return of Jim Brown.
We meet Batman and Commissioner Gordon, fighting invaders to an Egyptian tomb moved stone-by-stone to Gotham, already in progress. (An aside here, possibly for my own reference: I have seen the phrase "stone-by-stone" dropped casually in a number of comics, usually to justify why there would be a Transylvanian-looking castle in New Jersey or something, but while it sounds like a massive undertaking it did happen on occasion! Pretty good article here.) The invaders are probably mummies, guessing by how hard they were to kill; then there's a legend about the location of another tomb, of Atun, Egypt's first pharaoh, who allegedly possessed the secret of immortality. Supposedly the secret was lost, but the ancient Egyptians had been imitating it after him, packing their tombs with "food and things the dead would need." Throw in territorial beef between the museum curator and an Egyptian cop: the former claims the tomb was bought legitimately, the latter rebukes that. 

Then, we get Mister Miracle, in another daring escape from the Eiffel Tower in a lightning storm...and then some more missing pages. Reading Haney is sometimes like reading comics blackout drunk, but I can't put that on him! Batman and Miracle are both in Egypt by page 8, albeit separately: Batman on camel with a guide, Miracle in a helicopter with a "gorgeous girl...(who) challenged my ego!" Pretty obvious she challenged Miracle to get into the lost tomb, although how she avoided Big Barda folding her into an envelope may be a more impressive escape. Miracle uses his anti-gravity discs to escape with the unfazed girl, then begin exploring the tomb; as Batman's guide turns on him, then collapses, and Batman begins investigating the tomb from the water. He had followed a bat-shaped clue, because of course he did.

Ooh, not a great scan there. Miracle and the girl, Ingrid, find the unaged pharaoh Atun in the tomb, where he announces he had returned seeking his people. Ingrid innocently asks about the secret of eternal life; when Atun says it's in his scepter, she grabs it and tries to yeet out of there, only to get herself and Miracle into a series of traps. Ingrid couldn't be more obviously evil if she had a mustache to twirl, but she also blurts out "by my master's life" as an exclamation, which seems totally normal. When Miracle says they've found the way out, she turns on him, and manages to get herself killed by one of her bullets ricocheting back at her. Miracle had lied, to get her to tip her hand, but finds his way to another "mummy case," containing...we don't get to see, as Atun returns, demanding his scepter; but Miracle defeats him and unmasks him as Batman! Unmasked, even, although he doesn't seem to mind: his costume had been in the sarcophagus. Feels like they stepped on the reveal there. Bats had been controlled by Atun's helmet...for reasons. I'm not missing a page here, I'm just not 100% on the why. 

Batman and Mr. Miracle are chased through the tomb by a weird beam, but manage to get to a small alien ship and escape. Outside, as the tomb is swallowed by avalanche and flooding, the ship and the scepter disintegrate, leaving no proof of anything. A few days later, Ingrid's boss, who apparently caused a lot of the ruckus searching for the secret to immortality, dies of old age; as the alien Atun is told by a tribunal of some kind that we know you love earth, but those primates couldn't handle immortality, and Atun agrees, never to return. Well, it's an efficient wrap-up, you have to give it that.

We may look at some of the reprinted features later, but that Time Commander story was from Brave and the Bold #59, and he somehow thinks sending GL to yesterday and Bats to tomorrow will somehow let him win today? It seems like a lot wrong with that idea.
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