Monday, January 31, 2022

I kinda want him to show up in the MCU, so the hero can say "Inhumans? Never heard of 'em" while looking directly at the camera.

I think I blogged one issue of this storyline twice already; but maybe we'll finish it before that Quasar figure shows up! From 1991, Quasar #24, "Maelstrom Manifest" Written by Mark Gruenwald, pencils by Greg Capullo, inks by Keith Williams.
Quasar is already dead, his corpse mutilated, and his Quantum-bands now on the wrists of Maelstrom, the "cosmic assassin" and threat Quasar had been trying to find and stop since like his second issue or so. With an Inhuman dad and Deviant mom (and surprisingly plain kid!) Maelstrom had the power to absorb and redirect kinetic energy, and had stopped the earth from spinning to give himself a massive boost. He had also stolen Eon's cosmic awareness, and next on the list? Create a black hole at the new center of the universe, and destroy all reality! That's not a quick process, though; so after telling Uatu to get lost and starting the black hole, he had time to visit the universe's big names and gloat a bit. Maelstrom stops by to see Galactus, Thanos and Mephisto during Infinity Gauntlet(!) and Arishem the Celestial, before realizing Quasar had returned.
Sort of: Maelstrom earlier calls him an "energy simulacrum," a yellow-hued, handless, quantum ghost. In the quantum realm, Quasar had met Infinity, one of the manifestations of the universe like Eternity: he tries to warn her about Maelstrom's plot, but charmingly, she had "utter confidence" that Quasar could handle it. He tries to stop the black hole, but isn't able to from the outside, and isn't sure if even his energy form could survive the inside. Maelstrom arrives in time to stop him, but tackles Quasar and knocks them both into the black hole, which doesn't quite dissipate Quasar, but squeezes Maelstrom's physical form into nothingness. But the black hole is still growing... 

Also this issue: Moondragon guilts the Ghost Rider into taking care of Wendell's friends, and mourns Quasar and Makkari's seeming deaths; while Dr. Strange and a ton of mystic types try to keep earth from being destroyed, but can't start it rotating again. I should've scheduled this for the solstice or something. 

I actually worked extra overtime this last week (more than I usually do!) to try and justify biting the bullet and coughing up for Quasar on Mercari. Best price out there right now was still over double retail, and I don't wanna reward some scalper with that. Also, the chest emblem looked crooked, which probably did more to dissuade me...
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Friday, January 28, 2022

I'm getting on in years--this stupid blog is probably older than some comics readers now--and I've been reading random comics for long before that; but it does my bitter heart good that I can still pick up an old war comic outta the quarter bin and not get one I've read before! Unless I read it and forgot, since my mind has started to slip its gears...or if it wasn't that memorable. Oh, let's just do this thing. From 1981, G.I. Combat #233. 52 pages, two Haunted Tank stories, four others, and some shorts; should be something in there.
In "The Crew That Would Not Die," the crew of the Haunted Tank both has to use a different tank--a Pershing--and is haunted by different ghosts, the late crew of said Pershing; who repeatedly warn "get the tiger that murdered us...or we'll never rest...and neither will you!" Brass tasks them with destroying a German missile base, and they encounter several proverbial 'tigers' on their way there. The 'base' is an underground train, launching missiles from camouflaged ports, then moving on to another; which is both clever but also probably super-impractical? I don't watch enough war documentaries--I'm not that old--so I don't know if the Nazis ever really tried that one. (Written by Robert Kanigher, pencils by Sam Glanzman, inks by Dick Ayers.)
"Flower for a Firing Squad" is an OSS spy story, with the daughter of Mata Hari raised to be a spy but turning against the murderous Nazis. (Written by Kanigher, art by E.R. Cruz.) "The Dummy G.I.'s" both features a common war comic trope--characters told they couldn't fight for whatever reason, then rising to the occasion when given the chance--and the punchline's lifted from Bookkeeper in a Whorehouse! (Story by Arnold Drake, art by Gerry Talaoc.) "Homecoming for a Fighting Gurkha" has a similarly benched third-generation soldier: he wants to live up to his predecessors, but his mom would love it if maybe he wasn't killed like the rest of them, so his commanding officer only uses him as a messenger. Of course that doesn't last long, and the end is a grim compromise. (Written by Kanigher, art by Tenny Henson.)
Lastly, in "Between Two Flags," General Stuart warns Jeb the Haunted Tank would be fired on by two flags before the day was over: is that from a fortune cookie? Maybe some useful intel next time...but, first they're shot at by a pretty German nurse defending her wounded charges, then by an American plane after they agree to get the wounded to the German lines before they die! (The American pilot missed, and does apologize!) The nurse thought the German officers would show the same consideration Jeb had; but that's a hard nein. For the moment: one Panzer commander is like, hey, we're not all jerks, sorry about that guy, and lets them go. (Again written by Robert Kanigher, pencils by Sam Glanzman, inks by Dick Ayers.) 

I felt like this was past the war comic's heyday, but G.I. Combat would continue for another 55 issues and about six years from this one. So still plenty of them out there to stumble across!
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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Two of these, and you know what I don't have? A Scarlet Spider #40!

Admittedly they've got different leads, different creative teams, and different directions; but god forbid numbering continue, ever. From 2013, Scarlet Spider #20, "Sibling Rivalry, part 2" Written by Christopher Yost and Erik Burnham, pencils by Pat Olliffe, Inhyuk Lee, Paco Medina; inks by Bit, Inhyuk Lee, and Juan Vlasco; and from 2018, Ben Reilly: Scarlet Spider #20, written by Peter David, art by André Lima Araújo. (Miscredited as Will Sliney!)
Our first SS#20 features Kaine, back in New York City, with Spider-Man against the Jackal! Except also against Spider-Man, since Kaine doesn't know it's the Superior Spider-Man, with the brain of Otto Octavius. They're both chained up in the Jackal's new, and very high-end, lab; and when a Gwen Stacy clone pays attention to Kaine, Otto is snottier than Peter Parker could be on the worst day of his life. (My headcanon remains: Superior Spidey sounded like Pete doing a Dexter's Laboratory accent.) Otto is also super-possessive of his new DNA, and doesn't want the Jackal to have any; so he's steaming that Jackal took samples while he was out. Kaine, on the other hand, is a disappointment--they can't all be Ben Reilly's, eh? But he manages to break his chains, then work one of Jackal's mutant-powered Spidey-clones to blast his 'friend' Peter loose.
While Kaine fights Carrion (and the monster in Kaine's head, figurative or literal, still defends him against Carrion's mental attack) Otto works the angles, to cause a massive hydrogen explosion. (Think the end of Quantum of Solace, with the world's most explodiest hotel...) Jackal goes back into the fire to try and save "my DNA! My babies!" while Kaine tries to save the Gwen, who doesn't want to be saved. Otto's feeling pretty pleased with himself, before Kaine shows up, angry that 'Peter' isn't acting like a hero. Later, back in Houston, Kaine is obviously drugged at the airport, but thinks it's one of "Houston's horse-sized mosquitoes." Still, later that night, he wakes up to find his scars have returned, and he may be degenerating again...!
Kaine does have some scars five years later, but they may be the least of his problems today: while Ben infiltrates an Air Force base in search of a scientist that had been working on a cure for Abigail Mercury (to save his soul, it was a whole thing) Kaine sees a Mindless One in Vegas, accidentally brought there in an earlier issue. He saves a young child from it, only to catch a kick to the crotch, then the Mindless One takes the kid again, having apparently bonded with him! And a ton of cops have now shown up to make things worse. Meanwhile, Ben finds the scientist he had been messaging, only to find out he had really been talking to his assistant, Karl. Karl? Oh, you may know him better as Sauron!
If it had any kind of Legacy numbering, Scarlet Spider would've been in the fifties; but of course comics aren't numbered like that anymore. And I think both Scarlets have shown up here and there since, even as recently as, well, now. A couple questions: had Ben fought Sauron before? I think both he and Kaine were often called 'Spider-Man' by bad guys, bystanders, whoever; and rarely bothered to correct anybody. Which sounds like a problem for Peter: "I swore I'd get even for what you did to me in Houston, Spider-Man! And Vegas, you bastard! How could you?" "...what?" And does Otto have a specific beef with clones? Did one sleep with his wife or something, he seems a little touchy about them.   Read more!

Wednesday, January 26, 2022


I think I had to look it up, since I mistakenly thought the High Evolutionary trained Mr. Sinister, but that's the other way around, despite the Evolutionary debuting two decades earlier. I should've remembered when they appeared together in the X-Men books. The wiki also mentions H.E. getting some information from an Inhuman geneticist as well, which I should've remembered from the Evolutionary War. I suspect Miles Warren appears in that as well, in his pre-Jackal days: he had been his lab assistant, but got the boot after creating a man-jackal that escaped; which is a far tamer offense than I would've guessed. (Also, he had a family pre-Jackal? Color me surprised.) 

 Anyway, I figure the High Evolutionary has a very British accent, I think like Commander McBragg from old Rocky & Bullwinkle shows. (Looking it up, maybe those shorts were just shuffled in wherever, and weren't from the Bullwinkle crew?) H.E. wouldn't have the military background, but the utter Britishness and a tendency to natter on. Oh, like I oughta throw any stones...
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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

There are Claremont subplots that wrapped quicker than this. And with better closure!

Now, granted, if I blog three issues of a formerly monthly comic, over the course of just over seven years, it is going to feel like it's been dragged out a bit. Was it really? Let's see! From 1984, Jonah Hex #83, "Blues in the Bottle...Stopple in My Hand!" Written by Michael Fleisher, art by Tony DeZuniga.
Jonah's marriage to Mei Ling may be over, but so what? He still has Emmylou...which is trading down and I suspect Hex knows it, but he doesn't even have Emmylou, she had taken the stage to St. Louis. What Hex doesn't know, besides why she was going, is that she never made it there, she was abducted by bank robbers; two of whom were women. Disgruntled, Hex opts for a bit of the bottle, perhaps not noticing a lot of the townspeople giving him side-eye, like a bomb they expect to go off sooner rather than later. Two thugs were tasked with keeping tabs on him, but one gets the bright idea that a soused Hex would be easy pickings. There's two more coffins, but best get some more ready...
While Emmylou tries and falls to escape her captors, there's a mysterious and sudden dearth of hotel rooms in town, so Hex is bedding down--and still drinking--in the stable. Two locals lead out the horses and tell the stablemaster they'll build a new one after the fire, that they're starting right now in the hopes of getting Hex. Hex escapes (on his conveniently saddled horse!) and leaves town, which doesn't improve his mood any. He doesn't even kill those guys: he didn't expect to be given a parade, but maybe hadn't expected to be burned out, either. Frustrated over the downturn in his life, Hex throws his guns--his "matching Dragoons"--in the lake. He is awakened in the morning by the extraordinary loud and grating Catherine Rebecca Smollett of a Christian temperance farm, and I have to figure she's just lucky his guns were in the lake. Still, he hangs out on the farm for a few, which does have to be a vacation of sorts for him, before the three bad guys that had been planning on ganging up on him with the first two, I guess, catch up to them. Hex has to kill them with a knife, a pitchfork, and a sickle, respectively.
Catherine tries to tell Hex maybe it would be for the best if he left, and Hex agrees, figuring he was about as saved as he was likely to get...I'm curious if he helped himself to the bad guys' guns, although I can't imagine they would've been as good as his old ones. 

 Also this issue: still another USPS Statement of Ownership. Total Number Copies Printed (net press run): Average number of copies each issue during preceding 12 months: 220,700. Single issue nearest to filing date: 197,556. Paid circulation, actual number of copies of single issue published nearest to filing date, 63,973.
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Monday, January 24, 2022

Can you catch lightning in a bottle twice? Well, no.

I was curious enough to order the trade, though: from 2013, Threshold #4, featuring "Small Wonder" Written by Keith Giffen, art by Phil Winslade and Matt Raney; and "A Step in the Right Wrong Direction" Written by Giffen, art by Scott Kolins.
This was another of DC's periodic attempts to relaunch some of their classic space hero stable--well, not Adam Strange, he still does okay here and there. Feel like the last time they tried this, was the 2006 Mystery in Space with Captain Comet and the Weird; but this time features the New 52 versions of Stealth from L.E.G.I.O.N, Star Hawkins, and Captain Carrot? Sort of? Here we have K-Rot, who is very very much in the Rocket Raccoon vein; a more traditional Captain would appear later in Multiversity. The other lead was Jediah Caul, a new Green Lantern.
Best guess, but I really think this might've been DC trying to recreate what Giffen had done with Annihilation: Conquest--Starlord back in 2007: take a bunch of third-string, barely remembered characters, and somehow transform them into a massive multimedia franchise. Didn't take this time! Still want to read the whole thing, though. It's got good artists, and the back-up feature was Larfleeze, with the Star Rovers!...nobody remembers the Star Rovers, Space Ranger, Tommy Tommorow! I think the last time most of them appeared in a comic was Twilight, and that was over twenty years prior! Again, DC does this sometimes, but I think it might help to get some reprints out there ahead of time, drive up some interest; and they never do.

EDIT: I did get the trade this afternoon; and hated the ending! And other parts were a little too like Giffen's own last issue of Doom Patrol, a little too meta about getting cancelled. And just about all of the characters are jerks, at best.
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Friday, January 21, 2022

I feel like you won't see all three together again anytime real soon...

I enjoyed the third season of Jessica Jones, although it reached a point where everything Patsy Walker did was wrong or went wrong, to keep the drama going. She gets off a little easier today, but maybe not for long: from 2016, Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #5, written by Kate Leth, art by Brittney L. Williams.
Civil War II wouldn't do it any favors; but this book was trying to carve a fun little niche out for itself, as Patsy worked to set up a temp agency for people with super-powers who weren't necessarily the superhero type. Much of this issue was wrapping up an old foe and a new competitor: Casiolena. Who we've actually seen on the blog before, although I thought it was spelled with two S's! She both described as and taunted as a "third-rate Enchantress," which admittedly has to grate after a while; her trying to go extra-bad is almost understandable. Even her lackey turned on her, and with the help of Valkyrie and She-Hulk, Casiolena and her supervillain app are wrapped up.
Patsy still has problems, though: her old rival Hedy Wolfe got the rights to the Archie-like comics Patsy's mom made about her, and was republishing them to Patsy's embarrassment. (I first learned about Patsy's history in the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, but my understanding is: Patsy was kind of like if Betty had married Archie, who went into the army and became an abusive dickhole, then got herself superpowers. Hedy was basically a meaner Veronica?) Hedy may have something more in mind, though, as she hires Jessica Jones to dig up any dirt on Patsy. Williams uses a softer style than usual for Marvel, so this does feel like some of the edges get sanded down on Jessica: she has a huge name plate, and a drink, in a glass, with ice! Fancy, somebody's making an effort today. (I tease, but yeah.) Read more!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Verbal abuse! That's what sells comics, right?

I've had this one in a pile by my exercise bike for some time, so Metron has been de-motivating me for long enough! From 2014, Green Lantern #35, "Godhead, Act I, Part II: Dead Worlds" Written by Robert Venditti, pencils by Billy Tan, inks by Rob Hunter, Batt, and Mark Irwin. 

We saw another chapter of 'Godhead' some time back, but the covers for the early chapters all had large blocks of text from the New Gods, who are way crankier than usual in this crossover. They've already stolen rings from Mogo and Saint Walker, messed with a large alien planet apparently experimenting with the rings, and now Highfather sets Metron on the task of cracking the Source Wall and getting the Life Equation. Metron hacks the Green Lantern's database, to get information about Kyle Rayner and the White Lantern, since he had gotten through the Source Wall and back; but Hal lets the hack go on long enough to see the hacker, and where.
He admittedly has a point there...Orion is not impressed with the Lanterns, and he and the Divine Guard mop the floor with them. Worse, when they just leave, Hal can see through the Boom Tube, there's a lot more of them. And Metron had the whole GL database, so Hal's going to have to try something else, which you can probably guess since this crossed over with Sinestro and Red Lanterns.
Highfather pays lip service to some of the mayhem he was letting happen "for the greater good" or whatever; but there's a real sense he's just had it with Darkseid and is willing to do whatever it takes to finally win their long war. I don't think Orion was given especially deep characterization in this one, either. There's sometimes a bit of a thug to him, though.
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Wednesday, January 19, 2022


Sharks can get really old! I'm guessing I had seen that when I wrote this...

This may be me backfilling why Satana didn't burn Shiklah or Arcade's souls: absorbing too much energy would be bad for her...maybe like Strong Guy? Well, nobody wants that. Also, tossing them into hell, she's technically not killing them, more like deportation; possibly to avoid offending Kurt. (I don't write Kurt as religious, or especially bothered by murder; although he's no killer himself.) Or, I could be explaining away some of Sat's other looks in the past; which may or may not have been a terrible hat.
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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Someday a Marvel movie will end with the Snarks or Friday showing up, and the true heads will lose it.

I was pleasantly surprised that I liked Eternals when it got to Disney+. While I think it maybe could've used a bit more of the bombast and color of the classic Kirby art; there is a bit more characterization and plotline; and since they didn't all have the laundry list of powers they had in the comics, they were more vulnerable as well. (As in, not unstoppable, unkillable tanks!) 

A mild spoiler: not all of the Eternals make it to the end, but I was surprised that one did, who I thought wouldn't cost out. She was basically Wonder Woman with early-onset dementia; and I hope she shows up again! But two characters I also didn't expect to show up in the MCU appear at the end: somehow I managed to avoid spoilers on that one, or I saw it and pushed it out of my skull...not these characters anyway. Not yet! From 1989, Power Pack #50, "Friday's Children" Written by Jon Bogdanove, pencils by Tod Smith, inks by Mike Manley and Al Williamson.
The Power Pack--with Franklin Richards--had finished one adventure only to immediately start another: their Kymellian friend Kofi returns, to enlist their help. The smartship Friday, that originally gave the Powers' their powers, was gravely ill; and Kofi thought they could help. Somehow, the Power kids are able to talk their parents into letting them zip off into space for a couple days--it seems weird to the kids, that they're being reasonable-slash-borderline negligent. I don't think we see Franklin call his folks, but for him even at that age going into space was probably like going to the 7/11. They arrive too late, though: Friday's "spark" has gone out, the smartship is dead.
After an interlude with the Snarks' Queen Mother looking to drop some serious quatloos on a doomsday weapon (that's two Star Trek references and a Transformers one so far!) the kids are not keeping it together at Friday's funeral, jumping on the coffin and wailing. Of course it works, rekindling what lifeforce the ship had left. Meanwhile, the Queen Mother checks out the "Galactus-matic DLX" at the dealership--hey, that's just the Doomsday Machine from the Star Trek episode of the same name! They even name-check the neutronium hull! (The dealer, Crazy Freddie, admits they did lose one of those things, when somebody accidentally left one on automatic.) The test-drive goes well: "Note the smooth trigger-action, the maniacal feeling of power!" Until the Queen Mother blows up Crazy Freddie's asteroid dealership. Arms sales seem tricky!
Back on the Kymellians' orbital habitat, the kids can't help but pick up on the bad vibes: they had accidentally blown up their homeworld with anti-matter power, which necessitated their new home. Old folks that remembered things like skies and grass were pretty depressed, while most everyone else was pacified by technology. They also meet, somewhat unwillingly, the Kymellians' own super-horses--er, heroes; Force 4. Kids with powers were raised by the state and treated like superstars, so they were dicks, except for their leader Ghostmare. She had phasing powers, and an affinity for nature her people didn't share anymore. But she does look forward to meeting them in battle!
Battle? It's supposed to be more like training: the argument is, since the Powers got their powers from Kymellians, they were responsible for teaching them how to best use them. Alex thinks it's unnecessary, they had been doing fine on their own, and was also upset that it was a spectator sport in a stadium. Of course there's some anti-earther sentiment to boot, those that felt they shouldn't even have Kymellian powers. Predictably, the kids are curb-stomped the first round; until their wild card, Franklin, is able to use his powers to distract one and turn the tide. Since they are kids, they're also going to play as rough as they're played with: the adults are predictably aghast, but later Force 4 apologizes: they were following orders and were sorry. 

Increasingly disillusioned, the kids then get to see Friday installed into a new smartship body--new and improved, with much more weaponry. Kofi's father tells them their "rapport" with Friday wasn't special, it was merely following programming; but also has another revelation: the Powers no longer have to worry about their parents freaking out. He had altered their personalities slightly, to be suggestable to whatever the kids told them: if they wanted to stay up late, have ice cream for dinner, or go into space; the folks would nod and agree. The Powers, and Kofi, are furious--OK, honestly I could see Jack being completely on board with that, he could be a bit of a stinker.
While the kids smash some furniture, Friday realizes she does care for them, and could not simply be property: her former captain, Whitey, had freed her from restrictions and directives. She breaks free, gathering up the kids and Power Pack's newest member: Kofi, who no longer feels like he belongs with his people. They take off, with the Kymellians trying to track them, but there was a sudden interference: the Queen Mother's arrival, as she appears to destroy the Kymellian sun...! 

 This was a double-sized issue, and a dense, and wordy, one. I was also surprised to see Bogdanove as writer instead of artist; I think he would write a couple more and do a bit more art later.  

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Monday, January 17, 2022

This plot seemed familiar, but that will happen...

From the cover I thought this was maybe N'Kantu's first appearance, but it was at least a couple in. They maybe could've had the splash page for the cover instead; crazy space mummy seems like it should maybe move some books. From 1974, Supernatural Thrillers #8, "Power Times Four!" Written by Tony Isabella, art by Val Mayerik.
After rising again from a museum in New York City, the Living Mummy's "sanity" is back, just in time for him to get yanked into another dimension and attacked by rock creatures, dust devils, mini-volcanos, and pelting rain. (The pelting rain probably doesn't sound so bad, but what does wet mummy smell like?) He is brought before the Elementals, four wizard-y types that claim to have been around since before Atlantis sank, but were driven off by a warrior with a ruby scarab. (This bit features "Dann" and "Garret," and is a brief homage to the classic Blue Beetle!) Although banished, the Elementals wanted to return to earth, if only some chump was available to get them the scarab: they make a brief attempt to bribe N'Kantu with the restoration of his humanity, before the air elemental Zephyr takes control of his mind, and sends him on his way, compelled to complete his mission by any means, including murder...! Well, wait, how else was he going to do that? He wasn't particularly sneaky or anything.
I felt like I had seen this plot with Morbius before, or maybe Werewolf by Night: weird magic/alien whatever kidnaps the hero with a ray--also a convenient way to keep them from being captured by the cops! Then sends the hero after whatever MacGuffin they shouldn't have. That's usually a two-parter, although looking it up, the Elementals were still giving N'Kantu the hassle in the last issue of the series, although they appeared to be short one by then...
Also this issue: a Lee/Ditko three-pager, "The Little Gypsy Tea Room" from Amazing Adult Fantasy #13, and somebody--probably 'Darren,' who signed the cover and front page--clipped the Marvel Value Stamp of the Ancient One out of this copy. Read more!