Wednesday, June 30, 2021


Ben, Johnny, and Sue have long since figured out, they can trash-talk Doom until he blows his stack, and he will still always take the first shot at Reed instead. And they have been harsh on him; doesn't matter. I absolutely feel like Doom would threaten to kill someone with his bare hands, even though he hasn't removed his gauntlets in who knows how long. I'm also not sure how many battles he loses nowadays by losing his temper like a colossal baby, but after a couple of weeks of "Doom is supreme" I was kind of fed up with him. That said, I did consider having Namor stop by to try and talk Doom out of handling the Darkhold, then having the FF show up, but the scene was already getting crowded, and we've been missing someone here for a few episodes. Also, as I type this, I'm a month ahead (and as it posts, I'm super-behind!) but may have the hankering to put together a new set. Which would go...somewhere; I'll figure that out later. Read more!

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Today, Ghost Rider guest-stars in--nope, nope, stop that!

It's his own reprint book! From 1993, the Original Ghost Rider #9, reprinting from 1973 Ghost Rider #2, "Shake Hands With Satan!" Written by Gary Friedrich, pencils by Jim Mooney, inks by Syd Shores. Reprint cover by Klaus Janson. 

Let's be honest, it's gonna be tough to live up to that title, isn't it? Especially since we begin with the Ghost Rider, the transformed Johnny Blaze, driving a pickup truck in the rain. After running off the road, his girl Roxanne Simpson recaps his predicament: on the run from the cops, Johnny may or may not turn back to human come daybreak, but he had been critically injured prior to his transformation, and might die in the middle of nowhere now. Only one thing for it: give up! Game over, Satan, I'm yours!
Well, now, who among us hasn't said that at one time or another...? Johnny has either finally cracked, wanting Satan to "end (my) wretched earthly life forever!" Or, more likely, can't stand to see Roxanne suffer or put her at risk. Satan himself doesn't show, though; instead Witch Woman comes for him. Not far away, her fiancé and mother have a houseguest that could help them, but instead insists on having his wrists bound with a "chain of ankhs" and locked in a room until morning. About ten minutes later (okay, not really, but it feels like it!) the guest demands to be freed, or the possessed Linda will die: ha, ha, psych! We only glimpse his yellow boots, but the Son of Satan beats feet out of this comic towards Marvel Spotlight #12.
Witch Woman thinks Roxanne may as well just surrender herself to Satan too, you know, as long as she's there. Johnny refuses for her, leading to a fight, interrupted by the arrival of cycle gang Big Daddy Dawson and his Ruthless Riders. Johnny is at a self-imposed disadvantage, not wanting to use his flame powers and expose himself as a pawn of Satan. Um, that ship's kinda already sailed, hasn't it? Worse, Witch Woman doesn't care about that, and just drags Johnny to hell, leaving Roxanne in the clutches of Big Daddy! I'm more concerned for her than Johnny right now, but he's swamped by demons, than about to have the "sacred sword of Satan" crammed into him, making him a prisoner forever! Except, someone arrives in the nick of time to help...but who? Maybe I could tell you if I ever read any of these in order, but you're on your own!
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Monday, June 28, 2021

How about another darn Ghost Rider guest-spot? I'm not even doing this on purpose here.

From 1991, Thor #430, "The God, the Ghost, and the Guilty!" Plot and words by Tom DeFalco, pencils and plot by Ron Frenz, finishes by Al Milgrom.
I don't think we often see villains like the Wrecking Crew after a fracas, but I would've thought they would've known not to set the Wrecker off after a loss. In this case, it's Piledriver catching hands for implying the boss maybe might've been the teensiest bit scared of the Ghost Rider. This being an affront to his leadership and his ego, Wrecker orders the Crew to search the city until they find the Ghost Rider...his skull's on fire and he leaves a flaming trail, but it's still surprisingly tough to find him, right? Oh, the Wrecker also wants his "red-faced friend," none other than Mephisto himself!
Loki, on earth with Ulik and the Enchantress in earth garb (which is not super-convincing for Ulik) thinks the Wrecker could've got Mephisto's attention on his schemes, or he could just be looking into the then-relatively new Ghost Rider. Loki visits Mephisto, who claims to be bored with the mortal realm, and was looking to collect an immortal soul with his "soul shrouds!" There is a face in the shroud, and we don't see whose, but Loki proposes they team-up. Still, Loki seems shaky later with Enchantress, who wonders what could rattle him.
Meanwhile, Eric Masterson's friends Susan Austin and Jerry Sapristi confront him with his secret: his weird disappearances, sketchy behavior, giving custody of his son Kevin to his ex-wife Marcy; he obviously has a drinking problem! Eric laments his secret identity drama, then changes into Thor to look for the Wrecking Crew. He is spotted by Thunderball, who reports in since if Wrecker gets his clock cleaned by Thor, Thunderball thinks he could take over; and since Piledriver wouldn't mind seeing Wrecker catch a beating, Wrecker has to face Thor to maintain his rep. Loki gives Danny Ketch a little mental projection to get him to the scene as well.
Loki has set all this up, to steal back his stolen Asgardian power from the Crew. He maneuvers the Wrecker into opening a portal releasing demons, then the big dope gets his power drained and captured, setting up the next issue, "Requiem for the Wrecker!" And Mephisto reveals the shroud's face; it looks like a bad silkscreen of Thor. 

Also this month, a Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation: Paid circulation, actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 157,425. Plus 5,700 in subscriptions! Not bad!
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Friday, June 25, 2021

Yesterday's Ghost Rider guest spot was late in his series--possibly close to the end--and today we've got one I think earlier in his popularity: from 1992, Deathlok #10, "Wake Up! It's Time to Die!" Written by Gregory Wright, pencils by Denys Cowan, inks by Mike Manley.
Michael Collins has been living a nightmare since becoming trapped in the Deathlok cyborg, which is now a more literal nightmare with the arrival of Nightmare! He's been trapped in the demon's realm, while the cyborg is running amuck on a nightmare program of Michael's fears, of what damage Deathlok could reek without him. After innocent blood is spilled, Ghost Rider intervenes to stop Deathlok, the penance stare instead also sends the Rider to Nightmare's realm.
The Deathlok cyborg then escapes the cops and makes repairs, with the assistance of Jesus, one of his friends, who may not realize things were amiss. Meanwhile, Nightmare, who still calls the Rider Zarathos despite his protests to the contrary, makes a big show of not letting him escape with Collins, when that was exactly what he wanted: the Rider escaped with a faux-Collins, the real one was still a prisoner!
While the fight resumes, Nightmare tortures Collins with visions of his family: his son missing the point of his pacifism and embracing death-laser-carnage, and his wife looking hot, since as Deathlok he was not expecting a lot of intimacy. Still, he has the inner strength to fight his way back to reality, mid-fight! The Rider suspects a trick, but as Deathlok Collins asks for the penance stare, and is burned...with the shame of his minor past crimes, he's lived a pretty good life. (The penance stare wouldn't leave me lobotomized, but...I wouldn't ask for it, either.)

While the Ghost Rider pretty much rides off without so much as a sorry, Nick Fury has shown up by now, and knew the score. S.H.I.E.L.D. puts him back together, since the Rider had torn him up more than he let on. I think that was to clear up the last few issues, but okay.

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Thursday, June 24, 2021

So much for the team-up, but I get like that too if I have to do anything on my day off.

It's weird to think of Ghost Rider taking a vacation day, or even promising his host one. Also, I feel like a lot of people GR faces immediately start screaming for God or Jesus or Buddha to save them; and I have to wonder how that makes him feel. Oh, and Daredevil's in this one: from 1998, Daredevil #372, "Devil and the Demon" Written by Joe Kelly, pencils by Ariel Olivetti, inks by Pier Britto. 

ADA Malpher--a baseball fan with rage issues--is investigating a cover-up in the wake of Mr. Fear's prison riot: a cell stained with blood that won't wash off, and a possible escapee; who has already killed again. Meanwhile, Daredevil "commutes" to work with on-again girlfriend Karen Page, who was a new talk DJ for WFSK, the radio station formerly owned by Wilson Fisk and now belonging to Matt's boss, Rosalind Sharpe. WFSK had also been used by Mr. Fear in an attempt to brainwash the city; which seems like a lot of bad press to overcome? Matt isn't sure what Sharpe's game is: she gives him a story about being a fan and wanting to save a "beacon" of NYC radio, but she was far too manipulative for that to be true. And she seemed weirdly invested in Matt and Karen's relationship, as well. (That's a plot point I'm not sure went anywhere;
Elsewhere, Danny Ketch is going to enjoy this fine day...for about thirty seconds, before the Ghost Rider warns him to "prepare." (Was Danny usually blond? Or that thick? Looks like Eddie Brock there.) Matt has a meeting with Malpher in an elevator: she tells him WFSK is part of an ongoing investigation, but is interrupted by a call from Judge Chalmer, which Matt probably could've overheard even if he wasn't DD. The judge warns her off, saying there was no escapee, and no body, no case. DD had been at that riot and didn't notice any murders, but opts to join her investigation. The judge is also being intimidated by the killer, who thinks he's way funnier than he is.
Back at WFSK, Karen is preparing for her radio comeback, and meets her handsome new producer, who is doubtless horrible somehow. DD visits Malpher, and they have a serious conversation: there is a lot of dialog in one panel! DD is going to question the prison warden about the escape/cover-up, but arrives to find somebody else that might have questions: Ghost Rider! Daredevil knows he won't be able to question the warden if the Rider burns out his mind with the penance stare, and stops him, giving the warden the chance to escape, shoving Malpher into the back of her car, and forcing her assistant to drive him in his car. Ghost Rider pauses briefly to tell Malpher not to be afraid of him, she's doing good work, and takes off after the warden.
Daredevil then gives chase, with a conveniently parked motorcycle; realizing about thirty seconds in that was a terrible idea, too noisy to be useful for him. It doesn't stop him from hitting the Rider with it and blowing it up, but he only interrupted the penance stare: Ghost Rider wasn't able to get the information he wanted about the killer, and since that was DD's fault, any more deaths would be on him as well, he was out. I'm not sure if Daredevil hears any of that, since the Rider's "fingers...are in (his) mind!"
Lastly, seemingly bucking the injunction, Karen Page was on the air again as "Paige Angel," and gets her first creeper call, from the killer. Joe Kelly and Ghost Rider both seem like they're working hard to make him seem like a big deal, but he's such an edgelord I don't see it. This was building up to Daredevil #375, which I don't think I loved.
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Wednesday, June 23, 2021


I know I've had more than one Contest of Champions fight against Doom, where I thought I had him on the ropes and he absolutely rallied to clobber me. Also, maybe someday I'll get tired of bagging on Spider-Man's "One More Day," but I doubt it. Even if I agreed with "erasing" Peter and MJ's wedding, getting Mephisto involved is both terrible and lazy. And terribly lazy, to boot. Read more!

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

I paid two bucks, cover price, for this in 1991; and fifty cents for it last week: what's that saying, "Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice I have no idea what this crossover was about." Pretty sure that's the saying. From 1991, (Uncanny) X-Men Annual #15, "Kings of Pain, part 3: Queens of Sacrifice" Written by Fabian Nicieza, pencils by Tom Raney, inks by Joe Rubinstein and Art Nichols. Cover by Mike Mignola! Not his best, but still!
You know what's a great plan for an X-Men annual? There's maybe 19 heroes in this one, and no X-Men except maybe Polaris, and that's barely at that point! The New Warriors and X-Force have got their fights out the previous two annuals in the "Kings of Pain" crossover, and now race to Muir Island to warn Moira Macaggert that A.I.M. is plotting to somehow resurrect her son, Proteus. In Claremont's main book, the Shadow King had control of Moira and the others there, but lets them react normally to New Force there. Which means a three-page fight, before Moira is like, oh yeah, hi Cable. (Had we seen them meet before? It's more likely she would've known Cannonball.)
The bad guy in this crossover was Harness, who actually had kind of a cool armor design. She had "harnessed" young mutant Piecemeal, and was forcing him to absorb loose, dead mutant energy. At least that's what they're doing with Proteus here; I don't think I've read the prior two issues in like 25 years. Piecemeal is getting progressively more Blob-like as he takes in more energy than he can comfortably hold. Excalibur's Brigadier Alysande Stuart makes a rare appearance here, to warn of super-human activity in Edinburgh, where Proteus fell; then a brief visit with the instigators of the crossover, Toad and Gideon, playing chess. (Which may or may not supposed to be a surprise at this point. I feel like you can tell?)
X-Factor and the Warriors split up to take down Harness, while some try to drain some of Piecemeal's energy and save him. Warpath manages to shatter Harness's helmet, revealing--gasp! A woman! Look, Metroid was five years prior, it's not that surprising. She is Piecemeal's mother, which is mildly surprising, since he called her Harness previously. (I could definitely see her being an abusive hardass and demanding to be called that, but also Piecemeal would accidently call her mommy if he so much as stubbed his toe.) Piecemeal explodes, into a new merged Piecemeal and Proteus, then explodes some more. To be continued...?
There are a lot of gratuitious butt shots in that one, and slightly less in the back-up features: a Freedom Force story, featuring Blob, Avalance, and Pyro versus Iraqi super-team Desert Sword! Oh, I bet this aged just as well as everything else Desert Storm-related. Long-time recurring C-lister Arabian Knight has somehow been forced to serve on the team, since his wives and kids were being held hostage, which I'm not sure would ever be followed up on again. Crimson Commando, a WWII hero still active into the 90's despite first appearing in 1987, gets cut up some more and loses another of his teammates; while Blob and Pyro complete their mission by killing the hostage they were there to rescue. In their defense, they didn't go to that first, for a change. ("The Killing Stroke, part 2: the Razor's Edge" Written by Fabian Nicieza, pencils by Jerry DeCaire, inks by Joe Rubinstein.)
Next, a brief recap of the X-Men's origin, for Mojo, who isn't having any of it; and five pages of Wolverine, because fans would've rioted if there hadn't been any Wolverine in this one. ("The Enemy Within" Written by Len Kaminski, pencils by Kirk Jarvinen, inks by Brad Vancata.) 

Of course, later that week I went out to the garage, looking for something else, and found this one and the next chapter, which we'll get to at some future date. Can you stand the suspense...
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Monday, June 21, 2021

You know what we're talking about here, but I keep things more PG on the blog. Follow me on Twitter for swears and whatnot!

There was so much discussion last week on Twitter, over things Batman could or would not do (ahem!) and without getting into it, that's what headcanon is for, people. I don't think the corporate explanation was worded right, and it wasn't supposed to be "Batman doesn't" or "heroes don't," they just didn't want the inevitable kids watching the Harley Quinn cartoon to have a weird discussion with the parents regarding a character primarily used to sell merchandise. Although, at least a few people argued of course Batman does, because he's trained in everything, right? And what he doesn't know, Nightwing does, right--wait, we're talking about something else here! From 2000, Batman: Gotham Adventures #28, "Notes" Written by Scott Peterson, pencils by Tim Levins, inks by Terry Beatty.
Batman and Robin think they have Riddler's latest clues figured out, except there's music in the background neither can quite put their finger on. Tim suggests Nightwing maybe could identify it, and he comes in for the next round of riddles, after Batman has to escape a somewhat pedestrian deathtrap. Dick recognizes the music as the work of Jack West, reclusive singer for the Substitutes, but with unusual notes that could be clues. At the Riddler's next clue drop, he had announced an appearance by West, bringing a mob of fans to the scene, and Batman has to swipe the clue on CD from a young fan. That's the secret origin of somebody that goes on to steal a lot of music, he'll probably grow up to be Kid Napster or something.
Nightwing hits a wall in trying to puzzle out the incongruous portions of West's melody; but Batman encourages him, thinking he was on the right track. Working out the German notation of the musical notes, Nightwing believes Riddler is hiding out in Little Italy. On the way there as he explains, Nightwing assumed Batman had figured it all out already, but for a change, Bats had not. Riddler was hiding out at one of the Joker's old hideouts, which surprises Batman that the Joker would just let the Riddler use it. Well, Riddler's sure he would, if he knew about it...Riddler's thugs are not thrilled to hear about that, and surrender, rather than possibly face the Joker's wrath later. Riddler is furious, but then dumbstruck when Batman tells him they ignored his clues, following West's more inventive ones instead.
West is rescued by Nightwing, although he tells him he just wants to finish this bit first: he seemed to enjoy the challenge, and Nightwing may have to admit, he did too. Read more!

Friday, June 18, 2021

Grubs calls Hawkman "rooster," but may just wish he had a cool mask, to cover his crazy eyes.

Ugh, I knew I remembered reading the previous issue, I should've remembered that one was two out of four. From 2004, Hawkman #30, "Fate's Warning, part 3 of 4" Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, pencils by Ryan Sook, inks by Mick Gray.
Hawkman had been arrested for the so-called "Angel killings," taken to a police station that seemed to have a movie marquee with gargoyles, and given the business by hardass cop Grubs. Hawkman calmly refuses to unmask, citing the first amendment, claiming that he symbolizes Horus and that it was an "emblematic mask to be worn in public." That...that kind of sounds like a load, not like something he actually believes, but it holds for now. I wonder how it would go over if he was heard talking to himself in a cell; where he was actually conversing with his old friend Ray Palmer, who thought he needed to get out and find the killer. Meanwhile, Hawkgirl was shaking down various thugs for leads.
Singer (and possible love interest for Carter) Domina Paris is attacked by the killer, a monstrous sort that wore a red 'X' across his chest that resembled J'onn J'onzz's harness, except in blood. Hawkgirl joins the fight, with Domina getting a pretty solid shot in with a microphone stand; but the cops interfere again and the killer escapes with Domina over his shoulder. Hawkgirl is captured by Grubs, but busts out of the wagon, and goes to "the one rational cop left in this city," Isabella; who agrees and gets Hawkman his wings and out of jail. 

Elsewhere, the killer goes on a long speech involving plague rats and the city's namesake, St. Roch; to an unconscious and distressed Domina. Maybe in four years we'll get to the conclusion... 

I liked seeing Ray here, but I wonder if he'll get to do anything except serve as Hawkman's conscience here. I also wonder if the relationship between the Hawks and the cops would continue to deteriorate; I thought they were usually pretty close.
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Thursday, June 17, 2021

Winning with Ted would probably be like playing on hard with no continues; but should be more doable than this.

I buy a fair amount of quarterbooks, and more often than not they're delightful. Every once in a while we hit one that's we don't like, and sometimes we still have to blog it, so we don't buy it again, like I did here...from 2017, Injustice 2 #5, "Hostile Takeover" Written by Tom Taylor, layouts by Bruno Redondo, finishes by Vicente Cifuentes.
This was set in the video game's continuity, where...honestly, I forget. Pretty sure Lois is dead and Superman has gone totalitarian, and while his reign may have ended at this point, the world was not in good shape. At Kord Industries, Ted Kord and Skeets are training the very green Jaime Reyes, the new Blue Beetle. Feeling Jaime was shaken up after blowing up an expensive robot, Ted sends Skeets with him, and the little security robot ominously notes "Yes. This is how it happened." Ted doesn't have time to dwell on that, since he's then visited by the skulking Batman: Ted angrily says Jaime isn't ready, but Bats is actually there for him. Not as Blue Beetle, god no. He needs people with honesty, and assets, to help in the rebuilding. Ted is in, but soon gets another visitor.
Booster Gold is there, to say goodbye, although he promises to be there at the end. To his credit, Booster had tried to stop it, more than once, apparently getting sent to time jail more than once. He suggests Ted put on his costume, "make a few of them regret it." He suits up...and is almost immediately shut down by Damian, now Nightwing, with Deadshot and Katana. Katana cuts off his hand, even! Why those three and Cheetah are working for Ra's al Ghul, your guess is as good as mine, I haven't played the game. Cheetah forces Ted to read an statement, but Ra's gets on camera as well: it's not a ransom demand. Demanding the immediate stop of "everything" from deforestation to coal burning, Ra's has Ted and a dozen other captured industrialists murdered to make his point. It looks like they're going to be fed to the sharks, but it's to Killer Croc and Orca, which may be worse. For good measure, Ra's also blows up several of their buildings with the workers inside.
True to his word, Booster is there with Ted when he dies, as his best friend makes him laugh one more time. I think I'd be less pissed at this comic if Ted had got more than just one punch on Deadshot; and I don't know how the rest of the series would go down, but Katana and Damian need to pay for this. That and I hate the recurring motif of Ted's death, partially to make way for Jaime, not quite to make him the replacement for Saint Barry Allen. Read more!