Monday, May 31, 2021

This issue just hits differently now. Or misses differently.

For starters, I know I'm not the only one that sees that cover and always wishes this issue featured the Question instead. From 1997, Batman #542, "Faceless, part one: Murdicide" Written by Doug Moench, pencils by Kelley Jones, inks by John Beatty. Hey, Doug Moench already used that title for an issue of Aztec Ace!
It may have taken a few years worth of issues, but in Gotham-time, Batman feels he has fully recovered from Bane breaking his back. But while he felt Batman was at the top of his game, where was Bruce Wayne? Even if Bruce was only a mask for the Batman, he still knew he didn't have the balance right, like an actor alternating between living in and overplaying a role. His time with Vesper Fairchild may put him back on his game, if he wants to keep up with the "glib radio host." He does have a line I didn't scan there, that I kind of hate; that finding his balance as Bruce would be "a lie which is somehow true..." (OK, that part's fine.) "As elusive as the Joker...but equally worth the chase." What? Maybe don't use serial killers in casual metaphors, Bats. "This is going to be as hard as catching the Joker, but just as important!" "Um, the Joker killed 37 people the last time he was out; but no, I'm sure rebuilding your fake rep is the same priority on our to-do list, sure."
Meanwhile, postal carrier Joseph Zedno gets the axe, his supervisor giving him two weeks notice, citing too many complaints about undelivered mail. It's not immediately clear if that was Zedno's fault, but as we follow him on his route, he begins the already-dated process of going postal, getting more and more irritable at his stops that ignore him or hassle him. Back at his house...there's a lot of undelivered mail, okay, it's his fault. Zedno is also cut, but considers himself a nobody, faceless...despite the tattoo that says "Some body," and all I can hear looking at that is Smash Mouth. (I'm definitely not a tattoo guy, but if you ever see Manhunter: the killer had a colossal dragon tattoo, that would've been exotic and expensive in the 80's; and old-hat frat work by the millenium. Faceless's ink was probably not especially innovative when he came out.) Between Cliff Clavin and the postal-stereotype, it feels like postal workers were on the low end of respectability; and would take a long time for them to get back. Yet the term 'going postal' feels barely earned: they averaged like two a year? There's waaaaaay more school shootings. 

Faceless begins a murder spree along his postal route (which, come on, even the cops in Gotham should be able to puzzle that one out...well, you'd think. Actually, in real life that would probably still take the cops a while, and they'd probably either arrest the wrong guy, or arrest the right guy then let him go, or something) disguising himself like a punk-rocker type to murder him. That's his M.O, to dress up as a caricature of the victim, then steal their faces, possibly as trophies...or masks. He leaves messages written in the victims' blood, but did plan ahead and coat his fingertips in nail polish to cover his prints. (Would that beat DNA? Would that be a test even for Batman in 1997?) Faceless also's not really a mistake, it feels like hubris; sending photos to Commissioner Gordon and Batman. How many rookie killers in Gotham have pulled that one? "Ha, ha, can't catch me--Batman! How did you find me?" Later on his route, he bumps into Vesper, and considers putting her on his list, but no: she wasn't on his route. This florist, though...
Also, Robin makes a rare-for-this-run appearance this issue...I'm not sure he was a favorite for either Moench or Jones, and Jones draws him like Aunt Harriet. I distinctly recall a friend outright guffawing at that page.
Oh, no, Batman is cancelled! Well, bound to happen, I suppose. This is a lesser-effort in this run, but I almost think it's intentional? While we aren't digging deeply into poor Vesper Fairchild here, I suspect using a, frankly, lesser villain here may have been done to give her a moment to shine, not overshadowed by a bigger name bad guy.
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Friday, May 28, 2021

If you felt tremors, well, last night was date night...

On the cover of this one, while clutching Hyperion for a big kiss, Thundra is also clutching her big mace-chain thing, like she was going to need it sooner rather than later...y'know, that's their private business, I won't speculate. From 2016, Hyperion #5, written by Chuck Wendig, art by Ario Anindito, color art by Romulo Fajardo Jr. Cover by Elizabeth Torque.
While I'm familiar with Squadron Supreme or Sinister versions of Hyperion, the current Marvel universe one isn't as well known to me; although I believe he served a stretch on Jonathan Hickman's Avengers. In this short series--one of like ninety Marvel shoved onto a weakened market at the same time, like Red Wolf, Black Knight, and I think a bunch of Guardians of the Galaxy solo books--the Superman-esque hero was struggling to figure out his place in that world, and had saved a young runaway and her dog from her crime boss stalker/possible father "Junior" and his evil carnival and its captured pet alien. In gratitude, the girl called Doll wants to help Hype get some action. Whatever his tastes might be...
Doll sets him up for speed dating, and while there are willing prospects, Hyperion thinks it's a bad idea, and he would be better off alone. On his way back to his truck, his brooding keeps him from noticing Thundra until she's right on top of him. Figuratively first, then literally. They had been glancing at each other in the Squadron, and she had left Arkon--yay, he sucks!--so why not?
After a session on top of a small town's water tower--oh, no way that thing was durable enough for that--Thundra urges her to let Doll handle herself, and get down to giving her some daughters. Oh, and she had passed the destroyed carnival and noticed someone pulling themselves from the wreckage: Junior. Hyperion realizes he would go after Doll, and he and Thundra go get some information from Junior's skeezy mind-controlling carnie, Big Bally. Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Doll and her dog are Iron Man! Who's looking for "the hyper-powered war criminal," so that probably wasn't going to be a friendly chat.
I pulled two issues of this out of the dollar bin recently, but I suspect the distribution for that last issue was a bit less, even with Iron Man catching a beating on the cover. Read more!

Thursday, May 27, 2021

This wasn't the issue I thought it was, but the cover was so great, still worth it: from 2014, Thunderbolts #19, written by Charles Soule, art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta, cover by Julian Totino Tedesco.
What could be more relaxing than a road trip? a van without air conditioning, with some of the crabbiest people on earth? Samuel Sterns, the Red Leader, has had about enough of the Thunderbolts; who haven't yet noticed he was subtly manipulating them. He's pretty sure he could kill them all, if he played his cards right, except for Mercy...who I had kind of forgotten about. Worse, while he plays out his plan in his head, after a recent battle with Thanos's agent Super Giant he took some brain damage, on top of the damage he took at the start of the series; so Leader was doubting himself, and decides to hold out instead of chance it.
Most of this issue didn't really happen, except it appears Deadpool did indeed request a bullet to the head rather than sit through their road trip. Look, it's not like Frank and Elektra were going to lead a singalong. They probably didn't even turn on the radio...

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Wednesday, May 26, 2021


Close to the wire this week: I only finished this one last Thursday! I'm usually a couple weeks ahead,  have to get back to work. 

Most of the evil Darkhold dwarf's dialog this week is cribbed from a movie with another bad little person: The Man with the Golden Gun, a Bond movie I'm almost positive is no one's favorite even with Christopher Lee and Hervé Villechaize. And I wonder if Kang is less there to help the timeline come out the way he wants it, than to watch Doom pull Wile E. Coyote pratfalls.
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Tuesday, May 25, 2021

There's time-travel, prehistoric alien wizards, and flying tigers; yet Batman's most excited about letting his pores breathe.

I exaggerate, but seriously, not really. From 1982, World's Finest #282, "The Joy-Bringers!" Written by Cary Burkett, pencils by Irv Novick, inks by Frank McLaughlin.
Superman and Batman come down on some petty thugs like the proverbial ton of bricks, since they're still recovering weapons stolen from the Fortress of Solitude by the Weapons Master. Supes saves Bats from getting shot in the back once, but they're both caught flat-footed when a downed thug reaches the time-displacer and zaps Batman. Furious, Superman rapidly checks the settings on the weapon, then takes off to prehistoric times to save his friend; while the thug smugly notes Superman won't hurt him, as that was against his code. 

In said prehistoric times, Superman is surprised to be lassoed by flying tiger-riders, who are quickly joined by Batman on his own tiger mount. Batman explains he's been there a month, and these guys were cool; although Superman knows there shouldn't be anyone there in that time period. Again, Batman seemingly shrugs it off: they were the alien Eldiran, the "Joy-Bringers." Supes is understandably skeptical, but they do seem okay: they were prepping earth to develop higher life-forms later. Batman seems taken with them, and extremely cheerful not to have to wear his mask or any of that. Still, when Superman is sent to deal with a volcano that resisted the Eldirans' magic, Batman notices one of them seemingly up to something, and masks up, he's back on the job. In a fairly typical World's Finest split, Superman fights a giant lizard in the volcano, while Batman has to stop the lizard's master: the head of the Eldirans had been getting on in years, and wanted to tank their mission on earth so he could spend his last few centuries back home.
Afterwards, the remaining Eldirans send their former leader home, and Supes and Bats have to head out as well. Returning right when they left, the smug thug catches another lump from Superman; while Batman wonders if he will ever feel the peace he had with the Eldirans. It's weird to think of Batman just checking out of his life like that, but those flying tigers did have batlike wings, so...
We may look at the other features later: this was the last "Dollar Comic" issue of the series, it would take a more standard format going forward. Green Arrow had two more back-up stories to go before being transferred to Detective Comics, but this issue was the end of the Hawkman and Shazam! stories. Which seems like a bit of a surprise, at least for Hawkman: he had been searching for the missing Hawkwoman, who conveniently arrives to save him in the last three panels! ("Doctor Katar and Mister Plert" Written by Bob Rozakis, pencils by Carmine Infantino, inks by Rodin Rodriguez.)
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Monday, May 24, 2021

Celebrating our 15th anniversary with the second part of the one from our 13th anniversary! Yeah, that makes sense.

...has it been 15 years? Maybe? But only two years since we checked out the previous issue, which again, is a halfway decent turnaround for around here! From 2017, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #31, "Mind Games, conclusion: Metamorphose" Written by Robert Venditti, art by Patrick Zircher. And I had to upload this variant cover by Barry Kitson!
Last time, we saw villain Hector Hammond helpless at the hands of little yellow gremlins; I didn't realize I had seen them before: the Kroloteans! I remember them from an episode or two of Young Justice. The Kroloteans' "Master Engineer" apparently caused Hammond's mutation, to turn him into a weapon for their plans for dominance, but before he can be harvested or kidnapped or whatever, Hammond grins: his call for help got through, to Hal Jordan. Bonus: Hal was hanging out with Superman at the time, it's a two-fer!
The Kroloteans try to use Hammond's powers on the heroes, with the usual fantasy perfect lives. Hal is there with his brother's family, whom I believe were killed when Coast City first went up, and Carol. Hal knows it isn't real, and knows he has to go get the real thing, so he can still use his ring to get the head Krolotean's remote control, which frees Hammond. Supes is pissed at his memories of his parents being used against him, and treats one of the little aliens a bit roughly; then Hammond explodes all the Kroloteans' heads!
Hammond refuses to be controlled anymore, but also seems to have had enough of life as a big head, and tries to use Superman to kill himself. Hal deflects enough of Superman's heat vision to injure Hammond, but not fatally. Before passing out, Hammond again calls Jordan his hero; I can't tell if he wanted to die or not. The prison doctor doesn't know how to help Hammond; and before they leave, Hal asks Superman a really dumb question:
Rushing to Coast City, Hal tries to figure out what to tell Carol to win her back; then is stopped on her doorstep by an emergency call, and reluctantly takes off. Good, Carol deserves better. 

Hammond should've held out for the Master Engineer to get him a MODOK chair. Seriously, my neck hurts just looking at him.
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Friday, May 21, 2021

Matt probably always thought Foggy had a mustache, maybe a giant Yukon Cornelius-style one.

There should also be a word for when you enjoy a character, but every so often you just throw up your hands and get completely fed up with them. Like today's book! From 1985, Daredevil #222, "Fear in a Handful of Dust..." Written by Denny O'Neil, pencils by David Mazzucchelli, inks by Kim DeMulder. With the swamp on the cover, I also would've bet the cover price that Man-Thing was gonna be in this one. 

On a flight from Ireland to NYC, Irish supporting character Glorianna O'Breen attempts to stop a hijacking, and a stray bullet hits a passenger's metal box, releasing a gas that causes the passengers and later the flight crew to panic. I know I've read other comics with Glorianna, and, well, all I remember is she's Irish, because she has a thicker comic-book brogue than Banshee or Siryn...put together. In a Lucky Charms commercial. On Saint Patrick's Day.
Earlier--wait, earlier? "Meanwhile" is traditional, "Earlier" is an odd-duck. Recently-separated Foggy Nelson has just shaved off his mustache, and accidentally asks Matt what he thinks, before remembering his best friend is blind, and has been since they first met. Ugh. They get word that Glorianna's plane had crashed in the Jersey swamps near Tinderville, where the hijacker had been trying to force the plane to land. At the crash site, a cop tells Matt Glorianna was one of the three passengers not yet accounted for, along with "a Dr. Sadd and a local man named Junius Mudd." Sadd and Mudd? Matt is busy brooding over another of his women dead, after Elektra and Heather feels like there's a lot to unpack there. I'm not sure Glorianna was "his," for one thing; did they have a relationship? Or is this just his guilt acting up? Glorianna was actually the niece of Foggy's wife Deborah, who also shows up: Foggy seems to expect this to lead to their instant reconciliation, but she has her new guy there. Deborah also knows Matt is Daredevil...I am not positive that plot point was cashed in before Miller returned to the title for "Born Again." Also, I thought Glorianna and Foggy had the relationship?
Changing into Daredevil, Matt takes off into the swamp, out of what seems to be stubbornness, a refusal to allow Glorianna to die. DD isn't alone, though, as he's joined by the Black Widow! She was on the trail of Dr. Sadd, who had a sample of Mr. Fear's gas. Sadd had worked with Soviet powers to refine the gas, but falling out with them wanted to sell it to "a certain government agency," probably S.H.I.E.L.D. Matt and Natasha are out of their element in the swamp, but now something is up. Nearby, the third man, Junius, catches up with his kinfolk, as he's brought them "couple prizes. Gal and the man I was hired to kill." It goes Deliverance immediately: Junius brought Glorianna for brother Drawley. Too bad they'll have to kill her after the honeymoon: Glorianna would probably prefer before; Drawley doesn't seem that particular. Having become a professional killer after the army, Junius has an idea: maybe Dr. Sadd might be worth more alive.
While DD and the Widow free themselves from snare and mud traps, and discuss Matt's dead-women problem; the Mudd's let Glorianna change into their mom's wedding dress, which gives Sadd the chance to get a cannister of fear gas. After a wedding sermon, he releases the gas, driving them all mad with fear. Holding their breath, DD and Widow smack down some of the Mudds, before having to stop a raving and knife-wielding Glorianna. As the last two Mudds attack, Dr. Sadd takes off running, but trips and breaks a cannister of gas, and realizes the antidote wasn't effective before. They find his body, dead of a heart attack, but Natasha notices the cannister he broke had a bullet hole in it already, it wouldn't have had any gas, and Sadd scared himself to death. 

Right before blogging this, I just read a current issue of Daredevil, where the imprisoned Matt agrees to risk his life for a sting operation, but refuses any plea deal to reduce his sentence, and I threw up my hands and swore at the comic. Not everything has to be so hard, Matt; and not everything is about you. Which can be hard to imagine, when two old girlfriends and an old foe's invention collide in a throwaway story, true.
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Thursday, May 20, 2021

We saw the house ad for this issue some time back, and today we'll answer the mystery of Superboy's extra candle on his birthday cake. Warning: you could come up with a better answer right now off the top of your head. From 1980, the New Adventures of Superboy #1, "The Most Important Year of Superboy's Life!" Written by Cary Bates, pencils by Kurt Schaffenberger, inks by David Hunt.
Superboy was leaving the Legion of Super-Heroes to helm their own book, and this issue starts with Clark Kent's sixteenth birthday. Pete Ross notices, his cake has seventeen candles, which Ma and Pa Kent explain as a good-luck token for the upcoming year, a tradition they had kept since Clark was eight. This triggers a flashback to that birthday, which, because comics, the Kents looked older eight years ago then they did now, due to exposure to chemicals from another dimension that made them a bit younger. Superboy had just made his first public appearance, but more than the eyes of earth were on him, as an alien ship spies on him then tries to capture him. While this is basically his second day on the job, Superboy had trained hard in the careful use of his powers, and breaks free.
Later, having cake with his parents, they watch home movies of Clark as a baby; intercut with footage and narration of the alien ship! The alien couple, Myla and Byrn, wanted to explain themselves: they were alien doctors, whose race had been killed off by a space-plague, then they had accidentally become immortal after a radiation blast. That was about a million years ago--wow, they really have gotten some mileage out of their ship!--and the ennui had definitely set in. They had seen Superboy's rocket on it's way to earth, and thought there was a possiblity for them there, but weren't able to catch it in time before getting sucked into a space-warp. It took eight years for them to find him, but their presentation was meant to show they meant no harm. In fact, they might be able to do Superboy a solid: They could extract the "aging factor" from him, so they would be mortal again, and Superboy would become an immortal eight-year-old!
The Kents try to convince Superboy that would be a terrible idea, but Superboy is at least considering it, since he feels he could handle immortality better, and he has to help Myla and Byrn. Taking a moment to consider it alone, Superboy then uses the device, which the aliens then gratefully take, already feeling themselves beginning to age normally again. Myla and Byrn then wipe a bit of Superboy's memory, taking the memory of his choice, so he wouldn't blame himself if he should eventually regret his immortality; he would just think it was a natural function of earth's yellow sun on him. They advise the wipe would take affect in five minutes, and split; with the Kents distraught but grateful he wouldn't remember his mistake. Of course, Superboy didn't actually go through with it, he only made it look like he did, since he had surmised Myla and Byrn's immortality was at least in part psycho-somatic: they thought they were immortal, so they were, they had to just be convinced otherwise. The wipe then takes his memory of the whole thing, and the grateful Kents resolve to remember it with an extra candle every year.
So I thought the extra candle was going to be that it took a year for Kal-El's rocket to get to earth, or to mark or commemorate all the time he had spent in the future with the Legion, or even just to cast doubt that Superboy and Clark Kent weren't the exact same age. Or it was a cover story for the year they forgot how old Clark was and had to backpedal, and couldn't come clean now. Make up your own answer, it's fun! We've blogged a few issues of this series, and like most solo Superboy stories, it's perfectly enjoyable fluff. I feel like the Legion would get much more characterization going forward; whereas with Superboy on the team it was limited to the couples that had been paired up for years, and the couple of members who were kind of jerks. Which we might see in a bit, when we check another Legion issue that had a big house ad. Read more!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021


I completely believe that Morbius does some creepy, creepy vampire stuff on occasion, probably without realizing it. Nosferatu wall-walk? That would fall into that category. Probably occassionally catches himself hissing or going "Blah!" in the daylight. 

Morbius may actually be a better role model than Moon Knight, though. While to the greater public he's probably mysterious (if even widely known) but heroes and villains would talk, and he has done some sketchy stuff. (Attacking the Avengers and all that I'd be willing to write off as a simple misunderstanding that escalated; but didn't he overthrow some governments with the CIA?) Throw in some acts of the ol' ultraviolence that would make the Punisher uncomfortable, and the (ahem) rumored drug use; Moon Knight should be treated like a criminal, not unlike the Punisher; not respected or looked up to like Captain America or something, except he's cool.
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