Tuesday, August 31, 2021

I still wish this had run for longer.

I had to rewrite this opening since I rescheduled this from last week, but today we have a book I can't remember if I bought new off the racks, or shortly thereafter. I feel like the print runs were pretty healthy for the time, though, so you may be able to find one: from 1998, the Creeper #4, "Past Tension" Written by Len Kaminski, pencils by Shawn Martinbrough, inks by Sal Buscema.
The recently returned Jack Ryder may have a brittle detente with his alter-ego, the Creeper, but that's not helping him find a job, as his reputation haunts him: Perry White calls him "an attitude with legs," for starters, before his best offer of either working in the Planet's morgue or writing obituaries. The phrase triggers a flashback for Jack, an alternate version of his death in South America in Eclipso #13, eaten by hyenas. (That issue also features the death of Peacemaker, but not of Mark Shaw!) Indigestible, the assorted parts of the Creeper's body eventually reconstituted, but too weak to dig itself out of its grave, Creeper had to transform back into Jack Ryder, and digging himself out of a mass grave did not do his psyche any favors. Jack briefly falters in front of Perry, before going on to be shot down at other interviews, including a cigar-smoking mustache enthusiast of our acquaintance! Jack is apparently not hard-up enough for work to start looking for pictures of Spider-Man...
Jack decides he might need to confront the ghosts of his past before he can move forward, including a possible secret origin of the Creeper: a boogeyman his delusional mother used to threaten him with. After she died, Jack went into the woods near his home, to see if the Creeper was really there, and may have seen something--a memory? A nightmare? Or worse, a premonition? Revisiting the woods, Jack is again confronted by the boogeyman Creeper, but "these days I know somebody a whole lot creepier."
The Creeper dismantles--somewhat literally--the boogeyman, seemingly recognizing it as Jack's memory of his mother. Still, the Creeper shows remarkable compassion, assuring her this was "retirement" and that he would make sure punishment was still dished out. Creeper, then Jack, sit by her side as she fades away, as if she were never there. Jack wonders if his mom's delusions hadn't somehow laid the ground for the Creeper, and returns to New York and the welcome surprise of some job offers waiting for him. 

We've previously blogged #7, #9, #1,000,000; I wouldn't be surprised if we see more eventually.
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Monday, August 30, 2021

This is starting to interfere with my immaculate record-keeping. (I said, immaculate!)

It took a bit of looking, and the one I bought was the only one I've seen so far, but Saturday we picked up the newest Marvel Legends Nova! Granted, I'm more excited for the upcoming Quasar from Walgreens, but still neat. 

This is like Nova's third Legend; and the younger version got one as well, but yet another Nova will be getting a figure: Frankie Raye, herald of Galactus, will get a Marvel Legend with the Haslabs version of her boss. I chipped in for that over the weekend as well, before it hit 20,000 or whatever to unlock Morg. Is Morg a deep cut now? He got the push back in the 90's but I can't recall if he's been seen for years. Also, I was trying to confirm if Ron Marz sprung for one, since I'm pretty sure he created Morg. (It may set a bad precedent, but Haslabs should just give him one!)
Ugh, way too much flash today, sorry. Sometime next month my Sentinels from Haslabs should show up, which leaves me with a quandary for my Year in Toys numbers: they were paid for last year, but didn't arrive then. I think they are going to be "charged" on arrival date then. Which I'm not doing consistently, since I had some pre-orders where some figures arrived earlier than others, but I may have just counted one total. I'm never going to be 100% accurate, but still want to keep it in the ballpark.

Let's see...currently on pre-order, I have a couple Ultrons--all the other Ursa Major figures are here! That's always a killer, but it's easy to see he'd be a star of that wave. (And probably reissued at some point.) Tigra is arriving sooner than I had expected, and I have the Watcher wave and Web-Man (Bizarro Spidey!) ordered from GameStop. Ah, I almost forgot, I pre-ordered the reissue Marvel Select Watcher as well!

I think Legion may have already shipped from Target. I did miss the Mobius pre-order, though. I was expecting Legion later, though, because I preordered him with the 1Up X-Men arcade game! (Because I wanted it and by God I deserve it!) I don't think I'll be tempted by Legion's Age of Apocalypse wave-mates; and Legion got the buy because he was the second lead in the Nightcrawler-centric Way of X. (Which is over already, setting up some Onslaught crossover or something; but had a hard misstep the third issue, that I could natter on about for ever.) 

I have a tendency to spread out orders and pre-orders, even before exclusives are involved. I think he's a Wal-Mart exclusive: the Compound Hulk was down to just over $20 at one point; so I ordered him and Winter Soldier: Bucky is here already, CH is still over two months out. From Amazon, I pre-ordered Psycho-Man and the High Evolutionary: I don't know if either will be hugely popular, but both look really sharp, and I do love expanding the character roster. Still, they maybe aren't coming until March 2022? I say it all the time, but that seems like a million years away. 

Is that everything? Probably need to add some more.  
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Friday, August 27, 2021

As of right this second, I haven't pledged or whatever for the HasLabs Galactus, even though I've been doing extra overtime all week to cover it! So I thought I'd see if I had a comic with Galactus handy to blog real quick, and I had one with Nova: that's appropriate as well, and odds are Galactus would appear in her strip, right? Right...? From 1991, Marvel Comics Presents #94, covers by Sam Kieth.
The Wolverine opener may or may not fit into post-origin continuity, as Logan has a dream of the 1840's, in the wilderness near the Canadian border. He sees a Blackfoot brave face off against a massive black bear, then intervenes and gets wrecked: something's not right with that bear. Later, some opportunistic trappers try to help themselves to the bear carcass and Logan's scalp, which gets more blood split on the snow. Logan realizes the bear blinded the brave, but doesn't know yet more are out there..."Wild Frontier, part 2 of 6: The Backbone of God" Written by Timothy Truman, pencils by Todd Foxx, inks by Gary Kwapisz. 

Just about everyone got at least a short story in MCP, but I wasn't expecting Nova to have her own serial: "And Ye Shall Remember This Day, part 2 of 4: Only the Strong Shall Live" Plot and script by Susan Kennedy, plot and pencils by Gavin Curtis, inks by Ian Akin. I also expected Galactus to appear, but he doesn't this episode; probably because he doesn't care: Nova is acting like an earth hero instead of a herald, as she tries to help an alien race find a new home after Galactus destroyed their world. But the aliens' leader may have his own agenda, only caring about the "fit" surviving, and he may be leading them to a black hole!
On the other side, Ghost Rider and Cable team-up to save a girl from the subterranean "Warriors of the Dead." The girl can't remember her name, but the memories she has of the Dead don't seem to ring true, but they are coming for her regardless. This serial was later collected as Ghost Rider/Cable: Servants of the Dead, which I don't recall happening that often. (Written by Howard Mackie, pencils by Guang Yap, inks by Bud LaRosa.)
Finally, "Grimm's Tale," written by John Figueroa, pencils by Ron Wilson, inks by Don Hudson. Ben just wants to get out of town for a vacation; he can't even get to the bank without trouble, as some robbers using a garbage truck-looking vehicle try and steal the safe. Ben may have to settle for a staycation hiding from Stretcho.
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Thursday, August 26, 2021

Technically, this is the one title the cast really should rotate regularly.

I haven't read a regular issue of this in years, and this might be a tough one to hop back in on: from 2020, Suicide Squad #8, written by Tom Taylor, art by Daniel Sampere.
The book's title is a bit of a misnomer this time around, as this run largely followed "the Revolutionaries," a band of freedom fighters almost certainly considered terrorists by America. They had allowed themselved to be captured and brought into Task Force X so they could escape later, and had taken Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and Zebra-Man with them. Today, their leader Thylacine outlines the case for their next mission: they need to kill Ted Kord. Wait a minute, Ted Kord? Blue Beetle Ted Kord!? They have a pretty convincing case against him, and a very cold-looking Ted does appear to be up to something at the end of the issue. (I'm virtually positive there's a fakeout here somewhere; and Ted would briefly reference this series in the first issue of Blue & Gold.)
The bulk of this issue is the origin of youngsters the Aerie and Wink, who I think were promiently featured in one of those Dceased books. It sort of works back to the old metagene concept from way back in Invasion! as "the Post-Human Project" is experimenting on kids, shooting them up with whatever, and trying to force 'origins' on them. In the Aerie's case, they were thrown off a cliff, and managed to save themself by growing wings. Which didn't free them from their chains, but in captivity they would meet another prisoner, Wink; who had developed teleportation and not told their captors about it. They were also friends with two siblings, the T.N.Teens, until Amanda Waller shows up and takes one, having bought their prison sentence. (Waller has always been an unapologetic character, but in recent years seems to have crossed some lines.)The Aerie tries to save the kid, and gets stomped by KGBeast and Killer Croc. (That scene may or may not have been some time ago: Croc is occasionally given a lot of character development, which is consistently rolled back to him being a cannibal thug.)
Wink had been too scared to try to help, but nursing the Aerie back to health she finds she can't live with the idea of watching them die. The Aerie refuses to leave without the remaining T.N.Teen, Javier; and they do manage to get away. After the story, Deadshot realizes, Ted Kord may have the other T.N.Teen and be turning her into a bomb...

I'm not sure how it went over, but the Revolutionaries arc has a couple interesting points going for it: after years of over-farming Firestorm villains (I will never tire of that joke!) the Squad may not have had as many C or D-grade villains to choose from. And, they were bad guys now forced into bad jobs: almost nothing they did for the U.S. government was going to be for humanitarian reasons. Well, that was probably true back in the day, but far more explicit now...I don't think this run was very long, though, possibly because DC may have wanted to reset to a roster more resembling the upcoming movie. Which may have involved benching Deadshot for Bloodsport: the next issue was teased as "The Death of Deadshot," for what that's worth.  
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Wednesday, August 25, 2021


I'm not sure Alexei's head works great on the Crimson Dynamo, but it may actually work better than the Hood's on the A.I.M. soldier. The Hood's face is a great, yelling jerk; though. I hadn't intended to finish Crimson Dynamo, then picked up enough parts on the cheap that I was compelled to shell out for the rest. Which is like at least two other Build-a-Figures I've finished this year, come to think of it. Read more!

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Aw, they think they killed Deathstroke; that's adorable.

I know I'm an old, I'm not sure I recognize half these Teen Titans today. From 2020, Teen Titans Annual #2, "I Was Robin" Written by Robbie Thompson, pencils by Eduardo Pansica, inks by Júlio Ferreira.
Damian Wayne appears to have turned this incarnation of the Titans into his own murder squad, and they're confronted by Batman after they had killed Deathstroke and Brother Blood. Well, Brother Blood, maybe; as Deathstroke takes a potshot at them all with a bazooka, that appears to demolish an entire city block but not kill anybody. 

While the Titans are a little relieved not to have murdered Deathstroke, Damian takes after him to finish the job. Batman attempts to bench the kids, but they get to Damian and Deathstroke first, trying to fix their mistakes, like following Damian. Damian, however, is not having it: He knows putting Deathstroke away would accomplish nothing, he would absolutely kill again, and honestly...yeah, probably. Red Arrow Emiko throws herself in front of a killing blow to save DS: she comes away with a shoulder wound, but of course Deathstroke escapes, which the Titans see as a target painted on their backs.
Batman arrives, to try and get Damian to stop, and catches a double-page spread of a punch: this was shortly after the death of Alfred at the hands of Bane, and it's safe to say Damian is taking it pretty hard. Damian fights hard, while calling Batman out for "the same result. Over. And over." But Batman refuses to fight back.
Damian tears the R off his chest: "You will never truly see me as long as I am in your shadow." No longer Robin, he was now free--but seemingly no longer a part of the Titans, either. 

I'm deeply behind on current DC continuity; I think Alfred's still dead and Bruce Wayne's lost his money? But I suspect Damian is back as Robin again, if for no other reason than he knows the importance of good branding. Of course the Titans could be completely different as well; I'd almost bet on it.
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Monday, August 23, 2021

The "every comic is someone's first comic" guys' collective heads would explode at this one.

It's been a few years since I've done a complete re-read of this story, but of course I'll grab cheap ones on the fly. When else are you going to see Alex Ross paint the Micronauts er, Rann and his rebels? From 2001, Universe X #5, story and cover by Alex Ross, story and script by Jim Krueger, pencils by Dougie Braithwaite, inks by Garry Leach. 

This would be 20 or so issues into the Earth X saga, a post-apocalyptic tale of the Marvel universe; or Continuity Porn: the Series! I mean that in the most loving way possible, even though they did my boy Nightcrawler dirty...today, we're tying into Micronauts #35, Fantastic Four Annual #5, and Incredible Hulk #140, among others, and that's just three pages in! The trick of this series was taking threads from across the Marvel Universe that were not in any way, shape, or form planned; and making it seem like a vast tapestry that was absolutely designed to fit together.
Along with the secret history of the Microverse and the return of some of its most famous denizens, we see the fate of the Man-Thing, and the funeral of Captain America, who died protecting the child Mar-Vell. After delivering the eulogy, the new Redwing--Wyatt Wingfoot--rails against Mar-Vell, wondering how his "cosmic consciousness" couldn't see that coming. Loki also visits the currently female Thor, albeit without a nose, claiming he was still choosing his new form. And the Tong of Creel, a cult intent on putting the pieces of the Absorbing Man together, recovers another piece as they manage to get past King Britain, the Iron Avengers, the Union Jacks, Medusa, and more.
Finally, X-51 confronts the blind Uatu--not for the first time in this series, I don't think--since he's realized something from listening to Kyle Richmond and the Gargoyle. (The latter pair were the narrators/framing device for this series, as X-51 and Uatu were in Earth X.) X-51 takes a little stroll on the moon, to the Supreme Intelligence...
Since Marvel had lost the rights to some of the Micronauts owned by Mego, there are a few redesigns here: Biotron and Microtron are reinvented as Neutron and Proton, with Neutron having a more toy soldier-like appearance. I think his head is supposed to resemble a Queen's Guard helmet, but it looks more like Kid of Kid 'n Play. They had a new Acroyear type, Spartak; named after the Acroyears' homeworld in the comic; as well as an Ant Man and a Spidra girl.
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Friday, August 20, 2021

Somehow, still not blogging the issue you'd expect out of me.

But, I'm not sure I've read this one before. From 1983, Crystar #4, "Tell Me a Story, Daddy!" Written by Jo Duffy, pencils by Ricardo Villamonte, inks by Dave Simons. Cover by Michael Golden! 

As you might guess from the title, in the realm of Crystalium, two young siblings demand a bedtime story from their dad, who is somewhat inexplicably wearing a hooded robe and gloves in his kids' bedroom. They get a recap of the series to date, as brother princes Crystar and Moltar now wage a war for Order and Chaos, as they and their men have respectively been turned into crystal and lava men. The kids know the story, but want to hear it, and call out when dad tells it wrong, leaving out one of Crystar's captains, Kalibar--namely, their dad and our narrator.
There is a three-page interlude that Kalibar would not have known about and couldn't have seen, and certainly wouldn't have told his kids about: Moltar and his hot girlfriend Lavour (literally hot, in this case...) are wondering why some of their guys are chained up. Their benefactor, Chaos wizard Zardeth had chained them for twice failing to get Crystar (including once at Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, if you can believe that!) and they've kind of had enough of being lava guys and ask to be made human again. Moltar and Lavour agree to release them from their service, and Zardeth obligingly returns them to human...in the middle of a lava pit, because that's what you get for failing Chaos. Zardeth is chillingly matter-of-fact about the execution; not even seeming to get a laugh out of it. Moltar seems to be becoming aware that he doesn't have any control over Zardeth, while the ambitious Lavour tries to keep the peace between them.
Later, Crystar receives word that Moltar and his men were approaching the throne city of Galax; and he and his captains rally against them. Warbow, in particular, puts one right through a lava man; before uncle Feldspar yells at him for attacking a "peaceful delegation." Moltar argued, Galax was his home as much as it was Crystar's, and the charges of attempted murder/regicide had never been proven. Feldspar was half crystal and half lava, in the spirit of neutrality and fairness, but takes it a bit too far here with the ruling that Moltar wouldn't have attacked the city before if Crystar hadn't been given refuge there, and orders Crystar and his followers banished. Ugh, I hate "both sides" crap...Crystar knows Feldspar's in the wrong, but has to admit they have to let Moltar attempt to make peace. (BTW, if you can read the recent Guardians of the Galaxy Annual with Hercules and the new Prince of Power; it's by-and-large a He-Man parody, but with a really good bit referencing Feldspar!)
Crystar's girlfriend and men make their goodbyes and prepare for exile: somewhat grimly, two men do so in the graveyard. The last, Kalibar, finally gets his kids to sleep, so he can spend a final night with his wife, before leaving the city, for who knows how long. 

This book never caught on, even though it's surprisingly readable for a toy tie-in. Better than some of the more popular toy books, I'd say. Well, I won't say, I don't want to get flamed on that one.
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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Shoot the piano player drummer.

Also, I had to look up what a "catamite" was for this one, and I'm sorry I did. From 1989, Conan the Barbarian #221, "Drumsong" Written by Larry Hama, art by Gary Kwapisz.
No word balloons this issue, it was more like an illustrated poem. Which I feel like had been done more than a couple times in Savage Sword, but I associate it more with Groo the Wanderer. As was sometimes the case, don't ask where this fits into Conan continuity, but he was a pirate today, again under the nickname Amra, or "lion." I'm not sure he used that alias as much after the death of his beloved Bêlit, and he's also wearing a very un-piratey looking helmet, for reasons that will probably be apparent shortly. Conan's ship is hot on the heels of a fat prize, a boatload of priests with a golden bull and other booty. The pirates' drummer, a Stygian with a cobra tattoo, pounds out a beat for the crew to row after them; while the priests' guards whip their slaves to row faster.
Traditionally the Mitra worshippers were portrayed as benevolent, or relatively so; but today this batch is a lot creepier: they sacrifice a "catamite" and two pigs, with their "fey unholy knives, desanctified and dire." (A catamite being a little kid more than likely kept for sex stuff, which again, I don't think we saw happen often in prior Conan.) As the pirate ship gets alongside, one of the priests' men takes a potshot at Conan with a crossbow: the arrow ricochets off of Conan's helmet, into the drummer's neck. But even mortally wounded, the drummer keeps the beat! The pirates board their prey, loot at least part of the golden bull, then beat a hasty retreat when the head fat priest lights the "sacred oils" to try and take them with him. And the drummer still kicks out a beat for them to row to safety.
The pirates mourn the drummer's death, in their way: by having his corpse skinned and made into their new drum. I have to wonder how thick-skinned that guy was; could you even make that kind of drum with human skin, or would it be stove-in the first time someone really hit it? They may also have kept some of his bones for drumsticks, but I'm not sure why they kept the skull...that's not their cymbal, is it? Actually, now I want to hear them play a rimshot off that...

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Wednesday, August 18, 2021


...is there a Titanium Man right now? It's a high-mortality gig, but I thought it was a state-sponsored job; you don't usually see a freelance TM. The names I picked were from popular Russian boys names, or at least what the internet claimed were such. The Red Room types, the Widows, I would expect to be a parallel track of operatives but possibly expected to know something to support their confederates. 

It very rarely comes up as such, but I think old Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe entries for armor types would sometimes describe the suits and multiplying the wearer's strength by a factor of such and such. So what happens if you put someone that's already super-strong in one of those? Would Alexei be extra-strong, or would it be like wearing too-tight of a suit and shredding it on the first flex? Hmm.
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Tuesday, August 17, 2021

T-Bolt Ross pulls something readers might've wanted for years here.

I wonder if I started reading this book for John Byrne, because I've had it for years, but it would've been a slightly unusual one to start with: from 1986, Incredible Hulk #319, "Member of the Wedding" Story and art by John Byrne, background inks by Keith Williams.
Byrne might've done this a few times before, but this issue is told in almost split-screen: half following new Hulkbusters LaRoquette and Saunders versus the mindless Hulk; half with the separated Bruce Banner about to marry his longtime, long-suffering love interest, Betty Ross. They greet their old friend Rick Jones, who drifts in for the nuptials, and maybe get a bit of his guilt over the creation of the Hulk assuaged.
Saunders hesitates mid-fight, afraid to take a shot since the female member of their team was basically fridged the issue prior in a fight with Doc Samson, when Samson returns, still hellbent on stopping the Hulk. LaRoquette opens fire on Samson as well, leaving himself open to the Hulk; and Saunders has to talk the reluctant Samson into saving him. In the best soap opera tradition, as the minister gives the "speak now or forever hold your piece" bit, former general "Thunderbolt" Ross shows up, with a gun, intent on keeping his daughter from making a terrible mistake. Ross is a disheveled wreck of a man, since he had committed at least a little light treason with M.O.D.O.K. in his lengthy war against the Hulk. Rick attempts to stop Ross, and gets gutshot for his trouble. Fed up over years of his overbearing orders, Betty lets him have it, with a verbal slapdown that seems to crush what was left of him: Bruce is impressed, Betty isn't: "A tired, foolish old man. And I crushed him, as he tried so many times to crush me. Quite a triumph!!" It wasn't seen very often, but Betty seems to handle the gun she takes away from her father quite handily: he did train her, up to a point, then seemed to just think of her as something to be married off and maybe produce some sons with a good Army type.
Although badly injured, Rick refuses treatment, until the wedding is completed; it had been put off far too long already. Meanwhile, Samson rescues LaRoquette, then slugs him, claiming the Hulk as his, and they and Banner should back off. Once he loses sight of everyone, the mindless Hulk promptly forgets about them, and jumps off. 

Thunderbolt Ross might not have been seen since appearing with his gun to his head in Hulk #291; Betty and Bruce had suspected he was dead prior to this. We mentioned his treason some time back, and I know he would be killed off fairly soon after this, yet somehow return and get recommissioned much, much later. And that's even outside of the Red Hulk stuff!
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Monday, August 16, 2021

Somehow I bought two more copies of this over Free Comic Book Day weekend--the original and the reprint!--and somehow hadn't blogged this issue before? That seems out of character, so better catch up! From 1986, the Uncanny X-Men #204, "What Happened to Nightcrawler?" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by June Brigman, inks by Whilce Portacio. Reprinted in 1995's X-Men Classic #108 with a Jae Lee cover.
Anna Peppard--one of the few people I'd maybe consider a biggest Nightcrawler fan than me--describes this issue as "(it) helps Kurt 'get his groove back,' but it doesn’t resolve his metaphysical doubts." I agree on the latter, but perhaps not on the former. This was just post-Secret Wars II, and Nightcrawler wasn't there, probably, despite appearing twice! The Beyonder had jacked Kurt's faith up, terrifying him on a metaphysical level: was the Beyonder greater than God? Or God himself? The other X-Men were teleported to face him the previous couple issues, but Kurt wasn't taken, and wasn't sure why...only that he was glad of it, and was ashamed of feeling that way. And ashamed, he starts to act self-destructively: drinking abusively, and lashing out as his long-time girlfriend, Amanda Sefton. The worst part about the latter is that Kurt knows he's being a jerk, but can't make the next step to apologize to her, and she leaves for her stewardess job. (Amanda would actually reappear in Uncanny during the long stretch he wasn't in the book, but it would be almost a decade before she would see Kurt again?)
Left literally howling and sulking in the rain, Kurt hears an omniously familiar sound from Cental Park: "SFLANNG!" Kurt even uses the onomatopoeia to describe it; between that and the 'Kltpzyxm' reference from his solo limited, my head canon has always suspected Kurt read at least a few comics as a kid! Kurt recognizes a garbage truck long of the X-Men's acquaintance, that of Arcade's! The "madcap murderer for hire," as Kurt calls him, used that to abduct his victims to Murderworld, and Kurt knows one has already been captured. Next up: a ton of internal dialogue, as Kurt makes a number of rationalizations. He doesn't think he can go to the cops, as the victim would likely be long dead by the time he could convince anybody; and after following the garbage truck to the north Bronx, he also decides to go it alone rather than call the Avengers or other back-up. Kurt felt he had something to prove, and couldn't pass it off. Finally for this two-page stretch, Kurt hacks Arcade's systems, to make himself undetectable. At least until Arcade sees him...
Meanwhile, Arcade is giving his spiel to his prospective victim; a pretty redhead jogger, who claims to be an ordinary college student. Arcade is not especially sympathetic to her plight, and launches her in the life-sized pinball machine we've seen him use before, his traditional Murderworld opener. Arcade is also not impressed with her pinball score--how exactly would someone get a high score, trapped in the pinball? And why should they want to? After the pinball shatters, the girl finds herself in a darkened forest, wherein she is hunted by hounds and Hussars. (The Hussars seem an odd choice for someone as flashy as Arcade, but there may be a reason...) She manages to make it to a river, then onto a series of floating logs, only to then be attacked by a shark! Somehow she has the presence of mind to note sharks "can't exist in fresh water!" but this was Arcade's game; and she's rescued by Nightcrawler teleporting in to grab her. Arcade finally takes notice, now we've got a game.
The girl is not immediately charmed by Nightcrawler, even though he turns it on here. OAFE's review of 'Explodey Smurf' may hit the nail on the head here: "His whole deal is that he knows he looks incredibly scary to the average person on the street, so he tries to overcompensate by being incredibly warm and personable to everyone he meets." Left with little choice, the girl takes Kurt's hand, as they find a Mad Max-style dune buggy, complete with gift-bow, as "Auntie Arcade" and her marauders come speeding in. (Aside: Arcade has to be miked, or there's no way they would be able to hear him!) Kurt's internal conflict continues unabated during the chase: while this was a bit of a tough fix, it was a winnable fight, unlike most of those the X-Men faced those days. (Also, Kurt drives here, and apparently pretty well! Chuck Austen can suck it...) When biplanes attack, Kurt teleports up and commandeers one...and the art is a trifle unclear here, as he pulls a nice loop, and the second plane apparently conks out? I think Kurt shoots it down, even if it's not pictured, and the second plane crashes into "Auntie Arcade." Kurt also mentions, "the sky, it seems, is still a killer," and is that a reference to Feindliches Ass--in English, Enemy Ace? I swear Kurt read some comics in his circus days.
Seemingly uncharacteristically, Nightcrawler takes off in the plane, waving the girl on through, good-bye and good luck. (How either of them could be heard over the dune buggy and the plane...Murderworld is magic?) She drives on alone, until she runs out of gas in Murderworld's Chinatown, where Arcade's assistant Ms. Locke appears to offer her an out: maybe you'd like to be a sex slave? No? Nightcrawler returns in time to save her, as Arcade appears via hologram over the Locke-looking android: Kurt gives him a rather Bugs Bunny-styled kiss, then drops him on his butt in the gutter. Furious, Arcade promises revenge, when the X-Men storm into his control center and smash it up. They don't look right, though...Arcade realizes, with a laugh, they were his own robot duplicates, turned against him by Nightcrawler. Unlike a lot of bad guys, Arcade could sometimes be a good loser, if someone gave him a good game.
Kurt manages to get the girl, Judith, home: she's slightly perturbed that Kurt seemed to enjoy the hell out of that whole ordeal. Is Kurt addicted to excitement? Without someone like Arcade, would Kurt have to invent a villain, to give his life purpose? That seems a little much; but since we're on the last page no time for that: back at Judith's apartment, we find a representative from the State Department, and a colonel in the Ruritanian National Guard, who hails Judith as the rightful Queen of Ruritania! Judith would make maybe two more appearances that I know of, including her royal wedding in Excalibur: Mojo Mayhem; and I didn't know until just looking it up that Ruritania was from the Prisoner of Zenda, which maybe accounts for Arcade's Hussars, trying to get that eastern European flavor.  I figured Ruritania was near Latveria and Symkaria; Doctor Doom probably tried to annex it a couple times a year. 

Does Kurt have his groove back, then? I'd say no, not in the slightest; but he's putting up a brave face and trying to push through. And he was not going to make a lot of headway on resolving those issues, either. This was Nightcrawler's first solo spotlight issue in Uncanny, and he would be written out within the year, after the Mutant Massacre crossover, and benched until the debut of Excalibur in 1988. He would still be struggling with a need to prove himself there; but seemed less overtly religious in that series, which was fine with me. We've said before, fun Nightcrawler is best Nightcrawler, even in a world that was less and less fun for him all the time.
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