Friday, April 30, 2021

Admittedly, I'd rather be obsessed with a masked blonde than a white whale or gaseous cloud, too.

From 1987, Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #346, reprinting 1986's Legion of Super-Heroes #21, "Obsession" Written by Paul Levitz, pencils by Greg LaRocque, inks by Larry Mahlstedt and Mike DeCarlo. 

The smartest Legionnaire was also often the most-tightly wound one, and Brainiac 5 is the obsessed one this issue, with trying to determine the secret identity of the mysterious, masked Sensor Girl. (A Legionnaire with a secret identity was unheard of; I can't think of another off the top of my head! At least, not one that maintained it for more than a brief story.) In a clandestine meeting near the earth's core in the middle of the night, Brainy brings his concerns to current team leader Element Lad, who still trusts Saturn Girl's recommendation of Sensor Girl. Brainy maintains they have to figure it out, but returns to headquarters with Element Lad; as they leave, alien Legionnaire Quislet arrives, snooping around for fun. (Quislet had been inducted the same time as this suspicious, or a red herring?)
Meanwhile, in space en route to a new prison planet after the destruction of Takron-Galtros, a Legion contingent attempts to put down a prison break of super-powered baddies like Titania, Sun Emperor, and the Fatal Five's Persuader. The breakout was engineered by another of the Five, the Emerald Empress, who is considering a new version of their team, and wondering if Persuader had been pulling his weight. Back on earth, Brainiac 5 uses his computer (or Computo) override to break into Sensor Girl's quarters, to find some clue: there was a hologram, but a hazy one that he couldn't make out; as well as her Legion flight ring! Then, how was she flying...? As in, flying into her quarters, pissed: she removes Brainy's senses, returning them after dumping him outside, then she arrives almost immediately thereafter to pitch in against the Empress. Sensor Girl is even able to stare down the Empress's Emerald Eye, and starts a grudge match with an backhand slap. With the Eye drained, the Empress settles for the tried-and-true Persuader, and leaves, to continue her recruiting drive another day.
As the Legion wraps up the other prisoners, Brainy leaps to a conclusion: Sensor Girl is really his lost love Supergirl, somehow still alive post-Crisis. Nope! It may not seem like a clue, but when Shrinking Violet asks Timber Wolf what he thinks, he's the closest: "Nobody could really do all those weird stunts." (Timber Wolf is my favorite Legionnaire, but he was not usually portrayed as the sharpest of the lot.) There is a fair-play answer, but you would have needed to have some history with the Legion; I don't think I had enough at the time, but still enjoyed the mystery.
Also this issue: "Training Session" Written by Paul Levitz, pencils by Paris Cullins, inks by Gary Martin. Wildfire tries to gauge the bizarre powers of Quislet; which is dumb, Quislet knows he's great! He--it?--also has a novel method of ditching Wildfire as well. Man, I wish we had gotten a little pack-in of him in the DC Universe Classics days; he was another favorite of mine.
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Thursday, April 29, 2021

Sigh. I was going to blog a different book, that was just awful on multiple levels, but it turned out it was written by a known offender, which just sucked the fun out of it. So on to the next book in the pile. From 1983, Team America #11, "Challenges!" Plot by Jim Shooter, script by Tom Defalco, art by Dave Simons. 

The motorcycle racing crew Team America may be winning races, but they are not very team-like internally: among other things, El Lobo is getting a swelled head from his last checkered flag. Ditching out pack-up duties, El Lobo picks up...a very young looking girl, Mary-Michelle, from the back of her parents' car; while on his way to the carnival, since he saw a poster advertising champion rider Johnny Blaze! 

The rest of Team America catches up later, since Johnny's show is pretty impressive. But Team America is being watched, by HYDRA! Co-incidentally, the parents of El Lobo's pickup! The elderly couple maybe hadn't ton anything big for HYDRA, and they "have medical insurance for the first time in their lives." In fact, later we meet HYDRA middle management type, the remarkably chill boss Elsie, who has been researching Team America for the run of the series--and supports a partially disabled husband and two kids! Man, no wonder HYDRA always seems fully staffed. 

While Elsie was still curious about the mysterious Marauder, she gets an order from her higher-ups to eliminate Team America "Visibly and spectacularly!" Team America meets Johnny after his show, with some of the members trying to pretend they weren't impressed. Johnny doesn't care for them either, considering them blowhards and/or narcs, but he seems to sense something about them; possibly that Ghost Rider doesn't care for them either. El Lobo pays a monosyllabic goodbye to Mary-Michelle, who gushes that he's "opened her eyes so much in just a short time!" That night, she packs up and leaves--she says she's nineteen, I guess her parents don't correct her, so--as both Ghost Rider and the Marauder are out riding. 

Ghost Rider wants to know the Marauder's secret--is he a demon, or what? I don't think the Marauder spoke, so he keeps quiet; and Johnny manages to take control and return for a moment to warn him away. The next day, at the Unlimited class racing event (Marvel seemed to have a couple of those, like Unlimited class wrestling) the Rider compels Johnny to go, and manifests mid-race to start tearing up the place, hellbent on confronting the Marauder.

Even the riders of Team America seem surprised by the sudden arrival of the Marauder, who races against the chatty, chatty Ghost Rider. Playing chicken, they collide at 350 MPH, in a massive explosion. Watching the telecast, Elsie is impressed, but then hopes her assault team has the good sense to steer clear of that disaster. They absolutely don't, and HYDRA goons start shooting up the place! Mary-Michelle's dad pulls a hog-leg about the size of a howitzer, gunning for El Lobo. 

Tanks! Helicopters! Jet-packs! It looks an awful lot like an issue of G.I. Joe, except TA is somehow putting up a fight despite not having any guns. The Marauder lassos Ghost Rider with a fallen livewire, and has him on the ropes, but then has to save El Lobo from getting shot in the back. Realizing the Marauder was not "guilty," Ghost Rider turns his attention to HYDRA, stopping their massive assault like three panels? Boo! That could've been given some more space. 

On a bus headed for Phoenix, Mary-Michelle is overjoyed to hear on the radio that no riders were hurt during the speedway battle; while her dad is left crying in the wreckage. Elsie calls her family, knowing she was not going to make it home for dinner..."anymore!" And Team America finds the downed Marauder, who unmasks to be continued!

I know I had the first appearance of Team America, from Captain America #269, but I had never read an issue of their series. This has to be HYDRA's lowest point: I don't think they were getting a lot of play at the time, and remember they took another L in Micronauts #26. Ghost Rider doesn't get used to his full potential here; mostly because they can't just have him walk all over the Marauder. And he should, walk all over the Marauder. The only reason their fight wasn't over in three seconds must have been that he was so happy to have another biker to play with...

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Wednesday, April 28, 2021


Ooh, wordy one this week. 

So this one is probably directly drawn from old Silver Age Superman comics, which often featured Supes casually smashing an asteroid or something heading toward earth before the plot even started, just part of a normal Tuesday for him. Any time Superman gets removed from the timeline, then, the story should be over before it starts! Lex Luthor (or whoever, but probably Lex) goes back in time, stops Kal-El's rocket from getting to earth, or kills him as a kid, whatever; and he would return to a destroyed planet. A destroyed planet probably dozens of times over, for that matter. 

The other one would be around Excalibur #50: Merlyn, for reasons of his own, manipulated the team from day one, to get the right players at the right time to save the multiverse. He's a total dick about it--he expected to lose more of them--but I don't think he ever came back after that? Not in that book, anyway.

Morbius has seen a ton of weird crap, but this is outside his wheelhouse, so he has questions. Remember in Endgame where the Ancient One was fighting the Chitauri during the battle of New York? You don't see Marvel's magic types vs. aliens very often, do you?  Have you ever seen Ghost Rider fight aliens? Probably at some point, just because there's been a ton of GR stories, but still.

I feel like someone has actually done part of this but then backed of; where Kang would go back in time to kill some baby Avenger or another: I absolutely could see him doing it, then feeling bad and erasing it, but definitely doing it. Kang was also going to mention, that the Avengers probably deal with these crises  (plural of crisis! I don't think it looks right either.) with far less collateral damage than he or Doom would have. But Doom had a line about "only dealing with problems once," which sounds Doom-like and ominous, but would also be an outright lie. Everyone there would probably have been "Cough! Richards! Cough!" and that would've derailed things even further...
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Tuesday, April 27, 2021

This maybe could've been more 90's, if Guy Gardner had a plaid shirt tied around his waist.

Also, I buy a ton of random comics mid-crossover, but I figured part six would be the conclusion! Wrongo. From 1995, Hawkman #23, "The Way of the Warrior, part six: Essential Warfare" Written by William Messner-Loebs, pencils by Steve Lieber, inks by Curt Shoultz. Cover by Ron Lim...who, no offense to anyone, I was hoping did the interiors!
After two pages of subplot stuff with metahuman prison the Brig, to ensure Hawkman has problems when he gets home; we get to the meat of this one: on the planet Vuldar, the Tormack Empire has taken over and turned the place into a mine. Wonder Woman, Hawkman, and Probert (Probert?) are fighting the Tormack Shrike fliers, trying to rescue Guy Gardner from the Empress Karine. Who has plans for Guy: this was during his Warrior phase, when he was the last Vuldarian; but the Empress reveals a secret. The Tormackians and Vuldarians were distantly related, and the Tormackians needed to restock the gene pool a bit, and Guy was elected! It's not a Captain Kirk-kind of situation for him, though: Karine looks like Kilowog crossed with a Predator, in drag; and her idea of "foreplay" was massive electric shock!
After capturing a Shrike, Diana, Hawkman, and Probert are able to get through the first lines of defenses; and manage to save Guy from getting molested. Karine escapes, but has sounded a planetwide alert...

This would conclude in Guy Gardner: Warrior #34, which features a Phil Jimenez cover with Lobo on it but not Diana! Maybe he didn't care for Diana's 90's not-WW outfit. I forget where this is in Hawk-continuity--post-Zero Hour? And I know of Guy's Warrior stint, but can't recall how it ended, or how much of that was retconned.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

I didn't get Mr. Hyde built yesterday, but I did go through a box from the last comic book show I went to, and found a book I had been wanting to blog forever! We did actually blog one panel from it back in 2007, since I've had the trade forever, but didn't have one to cram into the scanner. From 1980, Captain America #251, "The Mercenary and the Madman!" Written by Roger Stern, pencils by John Byrne, inks by Joe Rubinstein.
While Cap indulges in a bit of flashback, Mr. Hyde is broken out of prison, by Batroc the Leaper! Well, by Batroc's staff. He is, how you say, très busy, non? Still, he has a lot of overhead costs, what with staff, equipment, his floating barge/secret headquarters, prostitutes; so he's going to need the five million Hyde promised him. Too bad Hyde doesn't have it! While Batroc gets steamed, he can't kick the crap out of him, and Hyde has some scheme cooking to come up with the cash. The next day, Steve Rogers wraps up an all-nighter, and new love interest Bernie Rosenthal makes him some breakfast and grills him for info.
Hyde and Batroc hijack a Roxxon tanker, which could easily explode and destroy most of New York, and Hyde tries to extort a billion dollar ransom from the company. They also demand Cap as a hostage (well, one of them does...) but Cap has a trap laid for them, gassing most of Batroc's men, then is able to slug him into it. Then, it should be a piece of cake to take down Hyde; Cap had done it before--
And Hyde straight-up no-sales that one! You don't see Cap drop the ball like that very often, but Hyde had leveled up since he fought Cap, and beats the stuffing out of him. The issue ends with a dire cliffhanger, with Cap chained to the bow of the tanker, as Hyde is going to ram it into the city! Stern and Byrne's run was a short one, but a great one. Read more!

Friday, April 23, 2021

It looks more like the Wendigo than the Wendigo.

I had the original back in the day, but was glad to get this reprint recently: from 1994, Marvel Tales #285, reprinting 1986's Amazing Spider-Man #277, featuring "The Rules of the Game!" Written by Tom DeFalco, pencils by Ron Frenz, inks by...somebody, it's not on the reprint credits? It was Bob Layton! And "Cry of the Wendigo" Story and art by Charles Vess. 

The lead story was in the middle of the long-running Hobgoblin storyline, as Peter was still reeling at the idea that his old friend Flash Thompson could be the villain. While Mary Jane tries to defend Flash, she's interrupted by a mysterious phone call from Matt Murdock, who warns the line may be tapped, but they had to meet. Peter heads down to a rundown, nondescript rescue mission; and thinks it must be Daredevil's secret headquarters. No...
This was set during "Born Again," the Kingpin's most ambitious attempt to destroy DD yet, after learning his secret identity. Matt had been disbarred, framed for murder, his house blown up, and severely beaten. This was his absolute rock bottom (so far...) but it's tough to say what Peter finds more disconcerting: the utter wreckage of Matt, or that Matt was starting to bounce back up, planning his revenge. He wanted Peter to stay out of it, the Kingpin was his.
So of course Peter changes into Spidey and goes straight over there...goddamnit, Peter, he asked you one thing. Confronting the Kingpin in his office, while Spidey is able to keep him away from his laser-cane and phone, what can he accomplish there? And the Kingpin knows it. Spidey has to settle for pranking him, leaving webbing on his chair.
The second story was the cover feature, and probably more well-remembered: "Cry of the Wendigo," by Charles Vess. Spidey has a nightmare about freezing to death, because he left his window open and a blizzard was coming in. So of course he immediately goes out into, no wonder Aunt May is always so worried about him, I swear. He stumbles across the kidnapping of a little girl, and gives chase as their van tries to escape through Central Park, and it's really coming down out there. The van crashes into a tree, as Spidey takes a header when the ice on the roof shifts. He's able to get the girl, but is probably concussed; and the recovering kidnappers are going to give chase.
Spidey needs to rest, but the little girl warns him, her mother told her, don't fall asleep in the snow, or the Wendigo will get you...who tells their kid that? Geez. After catching another shot to the head, Spidey has to throw down with the kidnappers; a challenge in his current condition. The last kidnapper, legs broken from the crash, pulls a gun on Spidey, who webs it up. When he goes for another piece...
Spidey gets the girl back to her parents and the cops without being seen, so it's tough to say what they make of her story involving both Spidey and the Wendigo. In Marvel-NYC, it seems like something they should at least look into? Peter goes home, safe from the Wendigo, although I don't know if he should just go back to bed with those head injuries. Probably never closed his window, either.

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Like trying to herd cats, except if the cats had their own editors and writers taking them away from you.

There's a lettering mistake on the first page, as what appears to be the old JLA satellite burns up entering the atmosphere; but three pages later Black Canary coldcocks Green Arrow one, so that makes up for it. From 2009, Justice League of America #31, "Welcome to Sundown Town, interlude: Crisis of Confidence" Written by Dwayne McDuffie, pencils by Shane Davis, inks by Sandra Hope.
Dinah could be the author's surrogate in this issue, and probably just as steamed as McDuffie, as after the deaths of the Martian Manhunter and Batman (in other comics...) six Leaguers quit the team by editorial fiat um, I mean, for personal reasons! Ollie gets slugged since he and Hal had gone off and created their own team--remember Cry for Justice? Ugh. Later, probably after venting a bit, Oracle calls that a lack of respect on Ollie and Hal's part: they wouldn't have pulled that with Clark or Bruce. But, Dinah admits that was "barely the tip of the iceberg."
Arsenal leaves the team--I forget what terrible thing had happened to him at this point, besides possibly breaking up with Hawkgirl, and while it seems like he's grieving well enough here, I'm pretty sure he had a relapse coming. Black Lightning had left to take over the Outsiders, one of Batman's final requests--why they had to be separate from the JLA, who knows? Wally confesses, while he promised Wonder Woman he would be more available for the team, that wasn't realistic with problems in Central City and his family. Superman and Wonder Woman have a private remembrance of Batman while sparring in the Fortress of Solitude, then both tell Dinah they will try to be there for the team, but...maybe don't count on it. (WW had "obligations to Themyscira," although I couldn't say what in particular then; while Supes was going to be mired in the dismal New Krypton arc.) When Dinah complains she just lost all the founding members, Supes suggests maybe she should patch things up with Hal; and Dinah contains herself enough not to scream until the Fortress caved in.
Red Tornado hadn't answered her call, Atom was joining Hal's team, and Hawkgirl was somewhere with Hawkman and neither back yet, so Dinah's JLA was down to John Stewart, Vixen, Zatanna, and Dr. Light; who are supportive of her but all snippy with either each other or regarding their former teammates. Perhaps not unreasonably, Dinah throws in the towel, telling them she was disbanding this branch... 

My god, did McDuffie get all the toys taken away from him at once? "Welcome to Sundown Town" would continue until his last issue, JLA #34--without Dinah, but with Milestone's Icon and Hardware! Also, I try to refrain from swearing here, so you'd have to ask me somewhere else what I think of Rich Johnston and Bleeding Cool: "hot garbage" would be the most polite thing I could say. After his work on the Justice League cartoon, McDuffie's run on the comic should've been a can't-miss classic for the ages, but he was never given the tools or the freedom for it to take off. I'm furious at this comic...and just noticed the editor, so now I'm even madder.
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Wednesday, April 21, 2021


I suspect Doom totally has a limo, he just doesn't want to give them a ride... I know Kang guested in the recent Doctor Doom series, but I haven't read all of that to know why. Hopefully, my explanation makes sense, since I think I've figured Kang's long game out, and why he's never time-murdered the Avengers or anything. He's using them the way a gardener would use shears, to trim the topiary of time into the shape he wants it. There was a hint of this in Busiek's run, where Kang mentions multiple horrible possible outcomes for earth, like the Days of Futures Past timeline. We'll probably get more into this. Read more!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

I'm not sure how Sheena's outfit works, but I think she just flashed the crowd.

I guess Tarzan does that a lot, too, though. Loincloths don't seem that secure...From 2016, Lords of the Jungle #3, written by Corinna Bechko, art by Roberto Castro.
This was from Dynamite's Sheena/Tarzan crossover, but I forget if they were usually contemporaries? Dynamite's Sheena reboot was set in the present, so she gets launched from the Amazon back in time to Africa, 1936. Although she quickly befriends Cheetah, Tarzan and Jane aren't home, and she still hadn't met them before this issue! While Jane's kidnappers try to force her to sign over Tarzan's assets, Sheena and Cheetah were able to gain passage to England with a circus, since Sheena was able to keep a captured elephant calm. While their act is spectacular, Sheena has to wonder if this is what any of them should be doing. Cheetah then runs off, but only to greet his bestie, Tarzan! Who's mildly perturbed at the jungle girl's circus posters with his chimp...
After explanations are made, Tarzan explains how he survived getting shot and falling off a bridge the previous issue (because he's Tarzan, duh) then they are accosted by the circus owner, who might have a name but just looks like Oliver Queen on safari. He's mad that Sheena is seeing Tarzan, but perhaps not as a couple, but as a rival circus trying to poach his act! (Well, maybe a bit of the first one, too.) Sheena throws him into a bar table, which may be a kindness, since Tarzan would've probably broken his jaw.
Storming off, Tarzan tracks a "go-between" that facilitated Jane's kidnapping, and forces him to take him to her. Their reunion is short, as they are surrounded by thugs employed by Tarzan's cousin, who has assistance from a leopard-tatted woman with what appears to be a ray gun? To be continued... 

I bought this whole series for cheaper than a single issue's cover price, but it's a fun little adventure. Feel like it would have to be drafty for Sheena in England, though.
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Monday, April 19, 2021

Like a lot of people nowadays, the Hulk can only be mad at one Thing at a time.

The Thing does pretty well here, considering it's not his cartoon. From 2012, Marvel Universe Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #4, "The Contest of Champions!" Written by Christopher Yost, pencils by Chris Jones, inks by Terry Pallot. (Feels like there should be a colon or two in there.)
We join today's Contest already in progress, as the Champion gives the Abomination the business, to show off his skills. But while Thor is up next, the Hulk is preoccupied with his ongoing grudge match with Ben Grimm, who is not helping him focus by calling him a big baby. Raging out, the Hulk breaks free in the middle of the Thor/Champion bout; and the intrigued Grandmaster bets his Infinity Gem against Champion's. Thinking fast, Ben puts the Champion into a bear hug, and the Hulk punches the living crap out of him while trying to beat on Ben. This doesn't strike me as particularly sporting, but nobody there can tell the Hulk otherwise, so...When the Champion yields, the Grandmaster returns the heroes to earth, and Thor worries that he now has two Gems. Meanwhile, the Hulk immediately tears into Ben; cue comedy trombone closer.
Also this issue: "My Dinner with Hydra" Written by Joe Caramagna, pencils by Ramon Baches, inks by Raul Fonts. Hawkeye and Black Widow fight HYDRA over the streets of San Francisco, as Hawkeye tries to get a lunch date with Natasha. Feels like he's out of his league, but shoot your shot, I guess. Read more!