Thursday, March 31, 2022

What did Hal learn in his hard travelin' days? Good question.

I wish I remembered what I thought of this issue when it came out. From 1987, Firestorm #66, "Out of Control" Written by John Ostrander, pencils by Joe Brozowski, inks by Sam de la Rosa. 

This was about a year and a half into Firestorm's current status quo: after getting nuked with Russian super-powered conscript Pozhar, the Firestorm matrix had changed. Dr. Stein was MIA, Pozhar had seemingly lost his powers but as Mikhail Arkadin was now part of Firestorm, along with Ronnie Raymond. Trouble was, neither of them was in the driver's seat! This Firestorm seemed to be a blank slate. While Mikhail is grilled by the KGB but eventually allowed to see his family; Ronnie's family stages an intervention: he was not dealing with the situation well, since he didn't even know what triggered the transformation.
Ronnie goes for a sulk-walk; so he's nearby when three black gents drive into a bad neighborhood. At a gas station, one is doused in gas by a racist attendant, who then cries wolf and claims they were going to rob him. White guys come out of the woodwork for that, although I don't think any of them really believe it. Two of the black men are badly beaten, while the third flees torching by running onto the freeway. Seeing him in danger, Ronnie seems to trigger the transformation: Mikhail disappears from Russia, and the strangely disaffected Firestorm appears to save the fleeing man. The mob flees, but then take some shots that ricochet into the gas pumps. Firestorm has the fleeing man and his friends in a bubble, and the man encourages Firestorm to let it burn.
Enter Green Lantern, who starts putting out the blaze. Furious, the man then convinces Firestorm to stop Green Lantern: Hal tries to remind him they were on the Justice League together, but he doesn't remember. Hal argues it's wrong to force their will on society--and I'm not sure the old Firestorm would've agreed, since he had been trying to end nuclear weapons--and stricken with indecision, Firestorm splits. The fleeing man checks on his friends; one of whom had died: if he had gotten him to the hospital sooner, instead of watching the fire, could he have been saved? Hal gets the other friend to the hospital, with some closing advice.
As J.J. Birch, Brozowski was the artist for Xombi, one of my favorite series ever; but I think he might've had more of a Neal Adams-influence earlier and he might be leaning into it here. While usually I'd take a shot (or another shot!) at Hal, there's no way he could've known the situation on the ground when he went to stop the fire. Should Firestorm have stopped it? ...yes. Too great of a chance the fire would hurt innocents; it wasn't a magic blaze that only burned racists. But I understand the temptation, especially nowadays. I wonder if I did in 1987...
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Wednesday, March 30, 2022


If you remember the last panel of the last strip, where Magneto zaps Kurt; the figures were in that position for a long time after that last shoot; since I had at best a vague idea where I was going. I kind of wish Kurt had got to call Magneto out to his face a little more; for whatever good it would do, he's not gonna change. 

 As I write this, I don't think Immortal X-Men has come out yet; but there have been solicitations and previews for the second annual Hellfire Gala; with more fancy costumes and some guest-starring Avengers. And...the gala just seems like a terrible party; about as fun as a coffin fitting. I feel like the mutants would need to be seen in more humanizing activities, if you'd pardon the expression. Or, and I admit I haven't read every X-book lately, I'd be more interested in what the mutant community was finding in terms of art or music. Right now, it feels like they've got Dazzler and maybe some paintings from Colossus, and that's about it?  As usual, I could be wrong there. 

Another point I had considered, then skipped, was that Kurt is a mutant 24 hours a day, and may be on call 24 hours a day, but he's not on the job 24 hours a day. That's Cyclops territory, and look how he turned out...And again, I think the Krakoa-era may have humanized him more than usual, giving him time with his kids Cable and Rachel, among other things. Still, Kurt also has less than no interest in being a mutant politician, although I admit I write him as not particularly invested in anybody's spiritual development, either. For me, Kurt does his job for mutantkind, then punches out to go hang out with Sat. Between Krakoa portals and his own teleportation (which may or may not be god-level at this point) Kurt could be on the scene first if he had to be. Of course, when I think of him punching the clock...

Also, while there are probably a ton of mutants who would be just jim-dandy with never seeing a human again; there has to be some with parents, siblings, or other loved ones that would like to have a place for them on Krakoa. Which doesn't seem likely.
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Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Booster Gold is going to seem like their best friend by comparison.

How bad off do you have to be to actively want Bart Allen's help? Let's ask today's guest-stars, the Legion of Super-Heroes, in 1997's Impulse #21, "A Little Knowledge" Written by Mark Waid, pencils by Craig Rousseau, inks by Wayne Faucher.
Bart would also guest in the Legion's own book, issue #88, which featured a cover homaging the Legion's first appearance in Adventure Comics #247; but this issue features another reference to their first visit to Superboy: the Legionnaires, in period civilian clothes, prank Bart by calling him Impulse. Bart does not take it as well as Clark did, since Clark didn't have to worry about zen speed master Max Mercury strangling him...Still, after that's sorted out, Bart is thrilled to see the teenagers from the future, since he assumed his cousin XS would be with them...and she's not. Nor are they there to make him a member: they were trapped in the 20th century, and needed help getting back to the 30th. Cue a flight-ring ride to the Flash Museum! Bart momentarily seems like he was going to leave them to it there, and bounce with Saturn Girl's flight ring.
Despite a brief warning from a ghostly Impulse, and a couple more manifestations, they still let Bart take them to the Cosmic Treadmill, which actually stumps Brainiac 5 for a moment: how is that thing powered? "Well, dur! It's a treadmill!" Impulse demonstrates, and Brainy immediately activates his force-field, causing them to briefly appear a few minutes earlier then return. (To Brainy's eye, even the Flash using that thing would've been unsafe!) Bart can seemingly only travel in a ten-minute window, and when he stops vibrating at a specific frequency, he and whatever he's carrying at the time return to his present. Attempting to show it could be done, Bart puts them all on the Treadmill, but seemingly only transports them to a lab, where a white monkey yelling "Koko!" jumps onto Brainiac 5's head and stays there.
Undeterred, Bart keeps trying, which of course leads to dinosaurs. He's then able to get rid of them, but loses the Treadmill, and the Legion has long since lost their patience. Well, Spark points out, while it was a complete waste of time, at least Brainy got a monkey out of the deal...and as they leave the museum, the Treadmill returns, none the worse for wear. 

The Legion has of course been rebooted a couple times since, and I don't know if XS is still a member, or even still Bart's cousin. That'd be a shame, he'd miss her.
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Monday, March 28, 2022

The old adage says kissing a smoker is like kissing an ashtray, but that really has to be like kissing an ashtray.

From 2021, Justice League Infinity #4, "The Mirror Crack'd, part 4" Story by J. M. DeMatteis and James Tucker, art by Ethen Beavers. 

This series was a sequel to the Justice League/Justice League Unlimited cartoon; but the cover is actually a throwback to that season of Super Friends where Darkseid was about more than getting the Anti-Life Equation; he also wanted Wonder Woman real bad. And just to show you anything is possible, in this particular universe he got her! Which may or may not have led to the destruction of said universe: Darkseid had eventually found the Anti-Life Equation, but when his Diana convinced him to stop, the Equation broke from his control and destroyed just about all the life in the universe in short order, leaving only Darkseid to torment. 

Alone for thousands of years, Darkseid had been trying to keep his sanity and discover a "life equation" to counter Anti-Life; but the traditional Wonder Woman doesn't want to hear it.
In the ruins of Apokolips, Diana is confronted by her possible father, Hades; really the Anti-Life Equation manifesting as her doubts and fears. Confronted with the idea of being a weapon for suffering, Diana proclaims she'd rather die, and seems to give up; until Darkseid charges in to save her, and is mortally wounded. Diana slams her bracelets together, seemingly dispersing the Equation, then comforts Darkseid as he passes. No time to mourn, though; as she's then visited by Superman--Supermen--and the Justice Alliance! Time to save the multiverse... 

I had picked up the first couple issues of this mini-series, but I don't think I had read them yet when I saw the cover for this one. It kind of got me back on board! I didn't read it until I had all seven issues, and tried to watch some old episodes while I did, but either my old DVD players or my old DVD's did not want to co-operate! Ugh, may have to spring for Blu-ray.
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Friday, March 25, 2022

Johnny doesn't have a lot of room to talk there.

I feel like Johnny had a buzzcut either in Ultimate Fantastic Four, or Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch's run...neither of which I would care to read again. This one's far less painful! From 2006, Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #14, "The Most Dangerous Game" Written by Justin Gray, pencils by Staz Johnson, inks by Jeremy Freeman.
Reed's search for intelligent life in space brings the Grandmaster to the Baxter Building, where he immediately slaps the Four into some games: the Torch in a flammable nebula filled with planets, the Invisible Woman in an invisible monster-filled maze, the Thing in a shrinking force-field, and Reed versus super-computer Intellitek. Most of the team has to work out the counter-intuitive solutions, or work their powers differently; while Reed just asks the computer if it was omnipotent, to prove it. He uses a fairly well known paradox that for some reason I swore was from Monty Python.
The Grandmaster then tries to make the Four fight each other, but Sue has more than enough willpower to not hurt her brother, and breaks them out. The Grandmaster is beaten, and the FF home in time for pizza.

Another week down! Have a good weekend!

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Thursday, March 24, 2022

The quarter bins have been more than good to me over the years, but today we have a book I don't think I've ever seen a copy of in the cheap bins! But there's probably a reason for that...From 1982, Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew! #7, "The Coming of Bow-Zar, the Barkbarian!" Written by Roy Thomas and Scott Shaw! Guest pencils by Stan Goldberg, inks by Frank C. (For Chiaramonte.)
1982 probably seems like two hundred years ago, if anyone reading this was even alive then, but back then DC also published sword-and-sorcery books, war titles, and one funny-animal number. This issue, the titular Captain--who here looks a lot more like the Quik Bunny than Bugs, his likely inspiration--and his team are relocating from Piggsburgh to sunny Follywood. There are so many puns and misnomers in this book, fair warning. Two of the Crew, Yankee Poodle and Rubberduck lived out there prior to getting powers, and they were staying at Rubberduck's place: he had been an actor, and had a big house. He also had a houseguest, writer Ezra Hound, who had a problem that didn't seem like a problem: his books were selling too well! But he was getting tired of churning out "Bow-Zar the Barkbarian" yarns and wanted to go back to being a serious poet. Pig-Iron unsubtly suggests killing him off, then; but Ezra complains of nightmares where Bow-Zar was trying to kill him. Hey...wait a minute...
I'd seen that plot before, in 1987's Conan Saga #7, reprinting "The Sword and the Sorcerers!" from 1970's Chamber of Darkness #4, written by Roy Thomas, art by Barry Windsor-Smith! That was their test run before the launch of Conan the Barbarian, featuring a writer having nightmares of his barbarian stories who decides to kill off his hero, only for the barbarian to show up in the here-and-now to defend himself! So this little funny animal-JLA versus knockoff-Conan story has a deeper pedigree than you would think!
I was mildly surprised when I looked up the cover for this issue, that there were newsstand and direct-market versions: I'd have guessed this sold OK on newsstands, but like the plague in the refined, 'mature-reader' comic shops. Too bad, they might have appreciated the reference! But that's why I figure I don't see it often in quarter-bins; as any copies probably would've had to come from collectors rather than backstock. Read more!

Wednesday, March 23, 2022


...has anyone used the phrase "Krakoa ├╝ber alles" in the actual X-books yet? It doesn't seem to be outside the realm of possibility, but it should be Kurt to say to it to Mags. Is there anything Magneto wouldn't do for Krakoa? I kind of feel like he could justify a scary amount. 

And, since I found it while prepping this, John Linnell of They Might Be Giants, covering the Dead Kennedys "California Uber Alles" since I was not expecting that.  
I had some friends in college that covered it; although I probably heard the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy version more than the original.
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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Feels like an extra step in there.

Sometimes I might pick on a comic book that maybe needed another draft, which is a tad hypocritical, since I'm lucky if I knock out one draft around here. But the adaptation of this works so much better. From 2006, Batman Annual #26, "Daedalus and Icarus: the Return of Jason Todd" Written by Judd Winick, pencils by Shane Davis, inks by Mark Morales; featuring unused work from Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, and Mike DeCarlo.
I don't think any of Jason Todd's return was necessarily planned out from the start: like a lot of Jim Lee's X-Men, Hush felt like him drawing whatever the heck he thought would be cool, then leaving it to the writer to try and backfill some sense into it. I could be wrong; but...Then, there was probably a mandate to use Infinite Crisis and Superboy-Prime punching reality out of whack--or into whack, it's argued here: Jason was never supposed to die. Which may just be to repurpose the unused Death in the Family art!
Brought back to life but buried alive, Jason manages to escape from his grave: the narration notes Batman had placed sensors in the coffin, but "they were designed to go off if someone broke in...not if someone broke out." Yeah, I don't think sensors work like that. He then lurches around like a zombie for a while, until he's hit by a car and taken to the hospital, where he would be comatose for a year. Since Batman and Robin would not be effective if identified, none of the Bat-family (at the time) had fingerprints on file anywhere, so Jason isn't ID'ed, and the cops didn't search far enough to find his grave, which was quietly filled back in by groundskeepers who do not want any of that jazz. Which also seems like it would've set off those sensors...
Jason eventually wakes up, at least a little, and spends a year homeless on the streets, until a chance encounter with a bully: a former mobster-turned-drunk recognizes Jason's technique as that of Robin, and sells his story. Which, after some more reselling, makes its way to Ra's al Ghul and Talia. Ra's is not overly impressed, considering Jason too brain-damaged to be useful, or even tell them what happened. After another year, Ra's has tired of Talia trying to rehabilitate him, which seems to push her to toss Jason into the Lazarus Pit. R'as throws a little fit about being betrayed, but Talia tells Jason she did what she thought was right, and that Jason remained unavenged. She leaves him with a kiss and a shove off a cliff, but with a motorcycle, passports, and cash waiting for him. And his death certificate.
The question this issue wants to leave open: was Jason somehow corrupted by the Lazarus Pit, or brain damaged, or did the disappointment that Batman didn't kill Joker for him turn him bad. Your answer may determine how redeemable you think Jason is. There are then a couple pages with the shell game from Hush: Jason approached Hush with an opportunity to "get in Batman's head," fought Batman, then traded off with Clayface to cover his tracks. Jason was back: there's no mistake. 

 The 2010 DC animated movie Batman: Under the Red Hood is one of my favorites, since it streamlines this process, and vastly improves it. The Superboy-punch and street year are removed, with the insert of R'as being involved earlier: he had needed a distraction, and hired the Joker, which led to Jason's 'death.' Feeling guilt over his purposeless demise, R'as arranged to steal the body before he was even buried, and the Pit revived Jason, as a scary lunatic, who kills some guards and tears off into the night. Despite some clunky expository dialog in the early stages (Batman and some goons tell a lot during the Amazo fight!) it's a favorite; and it's surprisingly good for not having the more traditional Kevin Conroy/Mark Hamill Batman/Joker. The voice of Bender, John DiMaggio, does a great Joker!  
I've mentioned the DVD before, and my DVD player didn't want to play it today! I hadda watch it on YouTube with ads like a goddamn savage; but I guess you can too! I suspect this link will rot out eventually...I also know I didn't buy this annual, or any other issues from Jason's return, new off the racks, yet I ended up with a lot of them over time!
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Monday, March 21, 2022

She says "I love you" and he immediately disappears. Usually that would indicate a fear of commitment...

This may technically be a last issue: from 2006, Hawkman #49, "Coalition in Crisis, part three" Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, pencils by Chris Batista, inks by Cam Smith.
The premise for the entire series to this point was that Hawkman and Hawkgirl had reincarnated many, many times; but always found each other and continued their love. Until this version: Kendra hadn't remembered her past lives until just recently, leaving Carter to pine over her for about four years. They just finally got together, right in the middle of the latest Rann/Thanagar War, with yet another Crisis maybe about to wipe out existence on top of that. (It almost reads as if they're late to a big battle after a long night!) Well, they still have each other, and guest-stars Adam Strange, GL's Kyle and Kilowog, that older-looking Captain Comet, Vril Dox, and the Prince Gavyn Starman! Heck, the Omega Men are in there, too. Even though Carter makes a big hero speech, he and Kendra can barely keep from making eyes at each other there. But the final page shows multiple versions of the Hawks, and teases "1 Year Later." What does it mean?
The next issue would be Hawkgirl #50, and a brand new direction with a brand new creative crew, Walt Simonson and Howard Chaykin! I don't know if it really clicked for me, although we did see the last issue some time back. Carter would be MIA for a bit, and I couldn't even tell you how that Rann/Thanagar war ended. There's probably been two more since, though, so okay. Read more!