Tuesday, November 30, 2021

You kill Marvel's cash cow in a dream, you better wake up and apologize.

This is a gimmick I didn't think Marvel was going to go back to, but I guess over a long enough timeline everything will come back around again. From 2009, X-Men Forever #10, "Home, Come the Heroes!" Written by Chris Claremont, pencils by Paul Smith, inks by Terry Austin, letters by Tom Orzechowski (who should get paid by the letter!)
So X-Men Forever was supposedly what Chris Claremont would have continued with the mutants, if he hadn't left in 1991's X-Men #3. I say 'supposedly,' because even at his peak popularity I can't imagine editorial letting him kill Wolverine and keep him dead. Even with his dad, Sabretooth, moving into his role--that was one of several large breaks from 616 traditional continuity. Mutants were also prone to instability and dying young (too late for Magneto and Professor X, I'd say) while Jean Grey revealed a secret (but chaste) love for Logan, and the GCD link notes Cyclops's son Nathan wasn't sent to the future, so no Cable here!
Logan's funeral is attended by the Fantastic Four, Avengers, Nick Fury, and Captain Britain; Bruce Banner also makes an incognito appearance as a flower delivery man to pay his respects. Cyclops gives the eulogy, largely to the effect that it was tough to like Logan sometimes, but you always had to respect him. Scott then flies back to Alaska, to see his family and Nathan. 

I've read a bit of this series, but never loved it; probably because I get irritated at Claremont playing favorites, especially when Nightcrawler doesn't have someone like Dave Cockrum to advocate for him. Kurt's fate is uncertain in the last issue, I swear every plot he had in the series was crapping on him.
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Monday, November 29, 2021

Neo-Tokyo Gotham is about to explode.

I'm having a bit of a motivation problem today, so trying to shake myself figuratively awake with a post. Today, a limited series I think I got seven of eight out of the quarter bin years ago, but only got the conclusion recently! From 2004, Batman: City of Light #8, story and art by the Pander Brothers, story by Mark Paniccia.
This may have been ahead of the curve, as every Batman story now involves massive amounts of property damage and casualties, but maybe that was novel in 2004? This was the conclusion of Batman and Batgirl (Cassandra!) versus an insane architect blowing up chunks of the city to replace with his own vision...wait, that's the plot to Destroyer, the 90's story intent on maybe retrofitting Gotham to look more like Tim Burton's movies. OK, this one also involved an artist commune, some kind of living light technology, and Purge, the architect's enforcer-slash-Batman replacement.
Bats is more monosyllabic than Cassandra this issue, because he's been put through the usual wringer; but I also think this was fairly far along for Cassandra, as she even seems to go on a date in the end. Batman also seems harsher than usual with Purge, but I'm guessing he wasn't really alive. This might've been easier if I had the other seven issues next to me...
Oddly, I think I recently got the last issue of the 2002-03 Batman: Family limited; we saw one issue of that some time back, but I bought most of it from the same quarter bins and didn't have the end!


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Friday, November 26, 2021

Mmm, crab venom, that's the stuff.

I had wanted to read this one, since I hadn't read this stretch just before the last issue, and I thought it would be a lot of re-boxing the toys. I forgot about a crossover here, with Doom 2099! From 1996, Fantastic Four #413, "Missions: Impossible!" Script and plot by Tom DeFalco, plot and pencils by Paul Ryan, inks by John Lowe and Bob Wiacek.
The future Doom--who may or may not be the Doom we know from the present, but who is also wearing a latter, lesser version of his 2099 design--was on a pretty convoluted mission. The citizens of future Latveria were all dead, dissolved by deadly "necro-toxins." To save them, Doom 2099 had discovered long-term use of a drug made of crab venom, would alter his people on the genetic level and save them from the necro-toxins if he got them hooked on it in 1996. The Thing and Daredevil (in the yellow costume, putting this around 1995's Daredevil #347?) stopped him, forcing 2099 to take some crab venom himself, but with the crab extinct he now had to find a way to synthesize more. And Reed always had the best toys...
At Four Freedoms Plaza, the newly shaven--and seemingly mostly recovered--Reed was hard at work on a couple projects: a dimensional probe to contact either Galactus or the Silver Surfer, then a little surgery on the injured Black Bolt. Reed's trying to get help to beat Hyperstorm, even though his dad Nathan keeps discouraging him from even trying, which isn't suspicious or anything. Reed is assisted during the surgery by his son Franklin, who was currently aged up to the young hero Psi-Lord; then takes a shortcut through the Negative Zone to cross the universe and see the Surfer, who gives him the bad news about Galactus's 'death." (Silver Surfer #109, as we mentioned the other day!) Then, the Thing returns, to warn of his encounter with Doom 2099 in, well, Doom 2099 #42, only to see the armored intruder on their security cameras! He had used Reed's stuff to analyze the crab venom, saving the info in his mask. So, 2099 is a little hesitant to let the Thing and the Torch give him any shots to said mask, but probably shouldn't have mentioned it like two dozen times.
When the power is interrupted, Psi-Lord has to fish Reed out of the Negative Zone, while the Inhumans get into the fight. Desparate to save his people, 2099 swallows his pride and makes a break for it, only to be immediately captured and absconded with by Namor and present-day Doom! Nathan gives another warning to Reed, who is getting steaded at his naysaying, but he may have had a point, since Hyperstorm was watching, and uses a time platform on Psi-Lord. Previously, Franklin had been taken in the same way, and spent years before he could get back to the present; but this time he returns--as a child again! I don't know if there had been a ton of clues to Hyperstorm's identity, but this should be one: why wouldn't he just kill Franklin, unless he needed him for something?

The cover features Reed drifting into space, his lifeline not pulling him in; which I feel was a common problem for him, always drifting off into the Negative Zone or some damn thing. Also, is it weird a guy that can stretch has to trust a lifeline?
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Thursday, November 25, 2021

Feel like there's something I should be doing today...defrosting the turkey? That's not it...

Well, I'm always thankful for a random-ass comic, so why not? From 2011, Spider-Man: Marvel Adventures #19, "Going Cosmic!" Written by J.M. DeMatteis, art by Clayton Henry.
It's a bit of a Freaky Friday, as Spidey finds himself careening through space on the Silver Surfer's board, and the Surfer finds himself passed out under a park bench in Central Park. A young fan finds the amnesiac Surfer and tries to help him out, while the suddenly-soliloquizing Spidey comes face-to-giant face with Sinistar Primordius, an angry cosmic tentacle-thing. While eating a hot dog, the Surfer remembers what happened to him: a cosmic probe tried to drain his energy, but as Spidey happened by he got the power cosmic. So it follows...maybe the Surfer got Spidey's webs? And they'll have to combine into a "Spider-Surfer?" Sure, why not! I am a sucker for other heroes borrowing Spider-Man's webs, since Doctor Strange did it way back in Marvel Team-Up #21.
In defeat, Primordius admits his grudge against the Surfer: he had been a herald of Galactus himself, before the Surfer, but had displeased Galactus and was sent away. Spinning him in a webline, the Surfer throws him out, to consider changing his ways; and he and Spidey have dinner with their fan and her mom. (This wasn't 616-continuity, but I suspect Galactus tried other means before settling on heralds; Primordius could have been a drone above his station.)
Also this issue: "The Hundred-Story Hunt" Written by Sean T. Collins, art by Pere Perez. A pleasant afternoon enjoying a slice, is interrupted by Kraven the Hunter, who chases Spidey all over an office building. Injured, Spidey armors up with...office supplies? With which he proceeds to clown Kraven; gotta spice up those fights sometimes.

No Mini-Marvels strip this time; that's mildly disappointing.
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Wednesday, November 24, 2021

"Eternal."

I'm not sure I know much more about the Eternals than Kurt: I haven't seen the movie yet, but I did recently read both Kirby's original and the 12-issue mini-series from the 80's. (Spoiler alert/warning: the 80's limited has what felt like a somewhat egregious girlfriend fridging.) And...they were okay? While the Deviants had the numbers and the tech, they rarely felt like a serious threat to their Eternal foes, although Ghaur helps on that count a bit. Every once in a while there's been cool-looking Eternal moments--I was thinking of the cover of Incredible Hercules #116--I don't have much emotional connection to them. 

Which means I don't have much connection to the once-removed movie versions, but that didn't stop me from picking most of them up for ten bucks a pop. I may or may not have overpaid! I got Kingo a couple weeks back, then most of the rest this weekend, only missing Makkari right now. (Who I really need for Quasar! Who may have trouble wrapping his head around his old bro now being a girl...actually, Wendell's a cool guy, it'd be a surprise, but he'd accept it.) I did previously pay full price for the exclusive Thena and Ajak; I definitely could've waited on Ajak anyway and picked her up with the others. 

 I think it's residue from Earth X, but I don't trust the Celestials. They may have a plan for earth, but it's not necessarily one that does humanity--or maybe even the Eternals--any good. (The Celestials endgame may or may not be more complex than the Anunnaki's...) What is the morality of a scientist to a lab rat? Some Eternals seem to be true believers in the Celestials' supposed greater good; but I don't know. In Kirby's stories, trying to go against the Celestials was like trying to throw rocks at the sun, but that doesn't mean you should give up, does it?

In actual continuity, I think the Eternals had encounters with the X-Men in the Utopia/San Francisco era; which coincided with another Eternals relaunch. I'm not sure the Eternals look on mutants favorably, though: I feel like they may consider them Deviants? Could be wrong there, though.
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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

People may be looking for this issue next year. Maybe.

Did I only just this year realize his name was supposed to be pronounced like 'morgue,' or did I know that already but keep forgetting? Anyway, from 1994, Cosmic Powers #5, "The Question is... Which is to Be Master, That's All" Written by Ron Marz, pencils by Tom Grindberg, inks by Don Hudson.
Since I pre-ordered the HasLabs Galactus, I guess I have a Marvel Legends Morg coming, but...I've always felt he was a pale copy of a better herald, Terrax. But if you give Terrax too much nuance--and he didn't have a lot--it can take him out of the role of "mindless cosmic murder thug," and you need a new one; hence Morg. This issue gets a little into his backstory and motivation: a warrior from a barbaric world, where he looked like Conan with male pattern baldness and bad skin, Morg believed in nothing except power. And seeing Galactus as the ultimate power, his loyalty was absolute; although Tyrant is attempting to convince him Galactus wasn't all that.
You may have also forgotten Tyrant, the big-bad from around Silver Surfer #82, which I don't have next to me but don't recall as being great. To build him up as a big deal, Galactus supposedly remembers having fought him centuries prior and acts like he could be a threat again, but I'm not buying it. I almost feel like Galactus could be playing with him, oh noes, not Tyrant, whatever shall I do; and maybe wanted to use him to keep other cosmic forces and his heralds occupied, like a play date or something.
Elsewhere, warrior woman Ganymede has been captured by Thanos and Terrax, but is more than willing to tell them whatever they want to know about her enemy Tyrant. Terrax is bristling at Thanos treating him like a lackey, but come on, man: know your role, and shut your mouth. Likewise, Tyrant gives Morg back the power cosmic, as well as a brain-clamping doodad, and sets him on Thanos. After a few pages of scuffle, Terrax gets into that fight, since he and Morg already hated each other from before. Instead of killing him, Terrax accidentally frees Morg from Tyrant's control; and although he had sworn to kill him, Morg has to get back to Galactus and splits, almost running into the just-arriving Legacy (Genis-Vell) and Jack of Hearts! Jack and Ganymede's relationship definitely moves into the "it's complicated" status, since he's dismayed she would work with Thanos just to get Tyrant. She, not unlike Thanos, was deeply pragmatic: whatever it took. Thanos reaches out to Jack and "the boy," since they were all needed to survive against Tyrant, but Tyrant promises "...you won't." Really feel like that whole sequence needed old-style soap opera dramatic music stings.
Yeah, I kinda think they all survived the next issue, since I know I remember Morg and Tyrant would make it to Silver Surfer #109, in which they and Galactus are all seemingly destroyed by the Ultimate Nullifier. Sure, and if a goat had wheels he'd be a bobsled...or something, I don't know, I'm tired. Galactus just shows up again later and I'm 90% he let everyone think he was dead to get them out of his face for five minutes; but nullification didn't appear to do Morg or Tyrant any good. Morg's corpse--ah, see what they did there--appeared in Annihilation, but Tyrant hasn't been seen since. Read more!

Monday, November 22, 2021

Today's book belonged to Harry A. Owen, who wrote his name on the cover. I'm not giving it back, I just thought he should know. Nyah! From 1975, Tarzan #237, story and art by Russ Manning, except cover and page 2 by Joe Kubert.
This was reprinted from Tarzan daily comics, because I think at this point there were so many Tarzan comics that they probably figured they could just cycle them around as most readers aged out anyway. Lost in a sandstorm, Tarzan takes cover under what turns out to be an Egyptian-style statue. Seemed like a lot of sand to him, though, and more Egyptian soldiers than usual--hey! They chase Tarzan quite a ways, but of course their queen wants him captured alive. That's interrupted by a stone pharaoh, who goes for the queen, but then takes Tarzan away when he knocks him out.
The queen had wanted Tarzan, perhaps not for the usual prurient reasons, but as a fighter under her banner, as she was having palace intrigue problems with her half-brother, who wanted the throne. Meanwhile, Tarzan finds himself trapped in a pyramid, and has to puzzle his way out in the dark. He then follows the stone pharaoh, but doesn't wrap it up this issue, sadly.
Per the letters page, this was the return of regular-sized issues after 100-pagers, but I think the previous issue had been regular-sized as well. There was also a Statement of Ownership, Management, and Circulation; with tiny, tiny print for my old eyes! Actual number of copies sold nearest to filing date: 159,567. Or thereabouts, take a gander for yourself!


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Friday, November 19, 2021

Many, many years ago, we blogged a bit about Tempus Fugitive, a four-issue mini from Ken Steacy that I loved to death; but it had been a bit late. The first 'monthly' issue was March 1990, the conclusion July 1991. Today's book, well, a quick search says it was from 1989, but that's not entirely accurate. From 1991, James Bond: Permission to Die, story and art by Mike Grell, additional art by Dameon Willich.
I remember this getting some hype, pre-internet and pre-Wizard, back when the first issue was coming. And it's easy to see why: it's a good-looking book, although I don't think the third issue's cover is the best of the lot. I know I bought the first issue, and saw it more than once over the years, but this was the first time I've read the third issue! I vaguely remember reading #2 before, but I got all three for less than the cover price of one at the last show! 

Storywise, it's solid work, and hits the classic beats. The title, "Permission to Die" might be the best line in it, from Q Major Boothroyd: "Your Double O designation is your license to kill, 007... No one gave you permission to die." Boothroyd was the literary inspiration for Q in the movies, but may have been used instead because sometimes legal concerns determined who could be used in what.

Anyway, not cramming this one into the scanner; but if I find my spare copy of #1 maybe we'll take a gander. Have a good weekend!
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Thursday, November 18, 2021

So the other day I think I brought up Plop! in the comments, and while I think I've had the Best of DC Digest #60 for going on 35 years, I only recently picked up my first single issue of the book, and didn't remember it had the same cover! From 1975, Plop! #13, cover by Wally Wood. 

Actually, I have to take a gander if I actually do still have that digest, as I kind of feel it's one of a handful of books I've lent out and lost more than once. (See also: the Big Book of Urban Legends.) Until just now, I didn't realize there was another Plop! digest collection, Best of DC Digest #63. And none of the stories from inside this issue are reprinted in either one! That either means yay, this is the only way to read them, or boo, they were stinkers not worth reprinting? Let's see:
Sergio Aragon├ęs draws the framing sequence--with Cain, Abel, and Eve trying in vain to avoid being 'Plopped!' upon--as well as the voodoo tale "The Banana Dolls" with Steve Skeates. When the workers on a banana plantation get nowhere complaining about the whippings from the cruel foreman, they take matters into their own hands with banana voodoo dolls. After the foreman and owner are killed, the cruel accountant takes over, but thinks he has the problem licked: no more whipping, "...from now on it's bullets all the way!" He knew a doll of him was forthcoming, but steals it in a hail of gunfire and locks it in a safe for well, safekeeping, and throws it in the river. Voodoo fans may see the flaw in his plan, though.
Most of the rest of the issue is "The Epic of Sidney Kidney," a young man of remarkable uglyness. It's mean and dumb and surprisingly has a punchline Plop! went to at least once in Best of DC Digest #60 alone! Boo. Even "Super Plops" with Kurt Schaffenberger art is weak. Maybe the 13th issue is unlucky after all.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2021

"Another."

I've been wanting to do another longer storyline, but haven't been able to set anything up right now; and I'm not even sure I'll come back to this one. I feel like I've read X-Force #26, the chapter of "Second Coming" where Nightcrawler was killed, but can't recall if I've read the rest of the crossover. So while I figure the X-Men stopped Bastion, I'm not sure Kurt was avenged, if that makes sense. And I know Bastion has returned more than once: I thought he was in the Krakoan era books, but I guess Nimrod is; and is that the same Nimrod that would go back in time then through the Siege Perilous and become Bastion? Maybe not?
Moreover, can you get revenge on a robot? Moby Dick seems to indicate no...Kurt seems to be maybe keeping Bastion at a distance, perhaps to avoid his own feelings; exclusively referring to Bastion as 'it.' Satana, on the other hand, strikes me as being a big believer on revenge, and while she wouldn't really keep up on 'mutant business,' the idea that someone (or something) could hurt Kurt and get away with it would not sit right with her. And she might have a point? Hmm.

And of course, today's "robot taxidermy" subject is the male Prime Sentinel head from the HasLabs Sentinel. Which means I do have Bastion nearby...hmm, again. Read more!

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake...



...and yet, he never brings you any presents! What a jerk!

Oddly, I think I ordered the reissued Marvel Select Watcher before this one was even revealed, and it still hasn't shown up. This one took a bit, since for some reason, Heist Nebula (the blonde!) took forever to turn up. 


That feels like way too much skin for the Watcher to be showing...It's also coming up on when I should start preparing for the Year in Toys, and part of that was scratching my head and trying to remember what Build-a-Figures I put together this year. And maybe where I put them.
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Monday, November 15, 2021

When they say "aim high," this probably isn't what they mean.

What better way to make your mark in the Marvel universe, than by killing Doctor Doom? I feel like Gwen should've been more than familiar with the concept of plot armor, but okay. From 2018, the Unbelievable Gwenpool #23, written by Christopher Hastings, art by Irene Strychalski.
Gwen already knows the writing's on the wall, and her title was bound for cancellation; so she was looking for a way to cement herself in the Marvel U. Killing Doctor Doom and getting on the Avengers should do it, right? Wait, wasn't Doom a hero then? Remember the Infamous Iron Man? OK, it took me a minute; I had to look up his figure at OAFE and work backwards from there. Gwen has restored "the one that's a little less Bendis and a little more Kirby," but as classic Doom puts it, "you would open a dam because it is not satisfying to drown in a puddle." He thinks the insulting little girl is beneath him, but couldn't have anticipated her dragging up between the panels! ...oh, wait, he could? 

That's either the majesty of Doom, or on Gwen for thinking she could wrap this up by the fourth story page. A renegade Doombot confronts his master--and it seems like there's more than a few of those, aren't there? That just got fed up with their boss and walked, but this one gets severance--no, I'm sorry, that's severed, as in limb by limb. Gwen makes an attempt to escape on the Doombot's jet-propelled leg, before having to confront Doom again between the panels. Gwen is only saved by the return of Infamous Doom, who chops up the classic Doom, like some kind of "paper memory." Not that it does Gwen much good: previously, when she decided not to become a villain, she saw she only had a few issues worth of pages left.
Infamous repairs the Doombot, and doesn't seem to be mad or anything: there's a real genial vibe from him, very Mr. Rogers, like he's really over-compensating. He even encourages Gwen, which of course she may take the wrong way: does she have any choice but to be the bad guy? Another question might be, does Doom have any choice either? I haven't read Infamous, but Bendis at the height of his powers would have had trouble selling that as any sort of lasting change.
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Friday, November 12, 2021

I feel like the Spider-Man spin-off books every once in a while are almost tasked with building up lesser bad guys.  Very lesser: guys that would be lower down the depth chart than the Trapster and have less name recognition than Typeface. Case in point: from 2013, Scarlet Spider #13, "In the Midst of Wolves, part 1" Written by Chris Yost, pencils by Khoi Pham, inks by Palmer, Pallot, and Bit.
The present Scarlet Spider was Kaine, trying to make up for some of the crimes he committed in his checkered past. That didn't stop him from living well on the cash he made dirty, but he was settling down in Houston and taking care of a young girl, Aracely, whom he saved from human traffickers. He was still working on the traffickers' operations, but that may bring the attention of their bosses, who originally kidnapped Aracely.
Said bosses are the Lobos: you may remember them as the Lobo Brothers from Spectacular Spider-Man. Although, one brother appeared to be currently dead, so the Lobo sister Dot Esmeralda may have been the boss: the surviving brother mentions wishing the other one back, which she thinks would be a waste. Since the Lobos were also werewolves of some kind, they give Scarlet a hard time. He considers using his 'stinger' bone-claw thing to kill one, but hesitates, not wanting to be a kill-crazy monster like Carnage, and gets used like a chew toy for his trouble. To be continued...? Well, yes, even though it looks like they were eating him already!




Thursday, November 11, 2021

We started in 2017, but last time I said we'd finish this storyline sometime, and I guess that's today! From 2012, Thunderbolts #165, "Golden Age Thunderbolts Part 3: The Fiery Death from Above!" Written by Jeff Parker, pencils by Kev Walker, inks by Terry Pallot.
In search of their missing Invaders teammate the Human Torch, Captain America and Namor are faced with a small army of knockoff Torches and are in bad shape. Luckily, they have back-up, "America's newest power squadron," the American Thunderbolts! Who are, of course, the escaped Thunderbolts from the future, trying to figure out what they could or couldn't do in the past: probably can't let Cap or Namor die, but they definitely can't let Baron Zemo get killed, either, as that would mess up the Thunderbolts' timeline more directly. With Namor pretty fried, Satana gets him back to Thunderbolts Tower, to fix him with a somewhat risque-looking spell; while the rest of the heroes try to stop the Torch-clones.
Centurius realizes that while Zemo was able to make the clones, he doesn't understand their cell structure yet, and can't be allowed to escape with any samples. With his lab under siege, Zemo is ordered by the Red Skull (accompanied by a sultry blonde!) to evacuate. Cap wonders if the "American Thunderbolts" aren't a little bloodthirsty, as they kill off the Torch-clones; while Fixer and Centurius rescue and repair the original Torch. Zemo takes off in an escape rocket, but is unable to outrun Moonstone, who takes away the Torch-samples, and leaves him with a warning: have a son, but "don't fill his head with all this Nazi crap."
The Invaders are reunited, but with bombers incoming, the Thunderbolts fall back to their tower, and attempt another time-jump; after Moonstone sneaks in a quick kiss goodbye with Cap. The bombs cover their departure; as Cap mourns the loss of some brave heroes. Look, he was pretty young; I don't think he was a good judge of character yet. I'm also not sure if this retconned the Nazi out of Helmut Zemo either. Read more!