Friday, April 29, 2022

A horse couldn't get me to buy them, I don't know if Atrocitus could either.

Would you believe I had something else scheduled, then had to revise, so we're getting a comic we saw the next issue for already, but it actually ties into something from this week anyway? From 2013, Red Lanterns #23, "The Butcher's Bill" Written by Charles Soule, art by Alessandro Vitti and Jim Caliafiore.
Atrocitus is floating naked in space, but had thought he should be dead anyway, since Guy Gardner had taken his ring and stopped his heart. Only his loyal pet Dex-Starr saved him: the cat had tasted fellow Red Rankorr's blood, which gave it the ability to make ring constructs. Atrocitus momentarily considers taking Dex-Starr's ring, but instead opts to find another one and then get to some revenge on Guy. Meanwhile, on scenic Ysmault, Guy is making himself at home, or trying to: they have a spiffy new spaceship, even if the other Reds think they don't need it. Guy either thinks the ship is cool, or he's trying to instill a sense of home in them already. Zilius Zox, the ball-shaped one, still had some affinity for engineering, and was taking to the repairs. He was also real impressed how Guy killed Atrocitus; but Guy wasn't even if he hadn't: using his green ring to contact Hal, he wants out. While Guy hadn't killed Atrocitus, he had killed a pirate as part of his cover, and now didn't think the Reds were a real threat anyway. Hal promises to get him out, but I don't think that was coming...
While he had previously sent out some rings, instead of finding one Atrocitus instead finds the avatar of the red energy, the Butcher, captured on an alien planet. He frees it by taking it into himself, which gives him not only a new red ring, but shoulder pads, and a bull horns and tail! Actually, they look more like goat horns, but okay. I also don't know if every issue of Red Lanterns had a good "Rrrraaargghgh!" in there, but it feels like they should've. And Guy's ring goes out in the middle of a plantive message from Hal, that the Blue Lanterns had been destroyed, and something called 'Relic' was taking all the light. That seems like the least of Guy's problems, as Bleez had heard that conversation...
McFarlane announced an Atrocitus Collect-to-Build figure I think Thursday: buy Kyle Rayner, Deathstorm, and Blackest Night Superman and Batman, build a crabby Red Lantern! (Thanks Preternia!) No Dex-Starr, but I have the DCUC one of him. Still, I've bought a couple McFarlane DC figures and not loved them: last one was Apokolips Lex Luthor with an angry chair. I didn't spring for the Dark Knight Returns figures with the build-a-horse, largely because I'd seen it didn't scale close enough for proper six-inch figures. Atrocitus would be big, but he would be a big monstery thing anyway, but it'd be about a hundred bucks. Enh... Read more!

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Did anyone write in and demand it, I wonder?

I know I have a full set somewhere, but every time I come across a Frankenstein story I think I had the Essential Frankenstein somewhere...mildly irritated I'm not sure where it got to. From 1994, Book of the Dead #4, reprinting 1974's Man-Thing #11, "Dance to the Murder" Written by Steve Gerber, pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by Frank Chiaramonte; from 1956, Mystic #52, "The Effigy" Written by Carl Wessler, art by Wally Wood; and from 1973, (The Monster of) Frankenstein #4, "Death of the Monster!" Adapted by Gary Friedrich, from Mary Shelley's original; pencils by Mike Ploog, inks by John Verpoorten.
We've mentioned this before, but this was during the stretch when Marvel was flooding the racks with books, just hoping to swamp all the other companies. We've also mentioned, I hate Richard Rory! I don't care if he's an author-insert for Steve Gerber; he just rubs me the wrong way. I'm positive I somehow read Savage She-Hulk #9 as a kid; where he accidentally breaks the bank at a casino that tried to cheat him; and he was still pathetic in that. The Man-Thing hangs around Richard feeling sorry for himself in the swamp--Richard may be the only person alive to make that lump of swamp feel better about himself; at least he's not Richard Rory, right? His girl Ruth, from earlier in the series, had left him; so now he was ruthless...ah, hard to believe no one pays me for this. Still, when he sees a "ballet dancer" running through the swamp, he thinks he's lost it; but it is a girl being chased by masked cultists. Despite being mindless so maybe even slightly less invested in Richard's well-being than I am, the Man-Thing saves him multiple times over the course of 17 pages; and the 'cultists' are not what they seem, but a rather heavy-handed exposition-dump slash 'message' at the end. I do kind of like the last panel, where Manny has his hand on Richard's shoulder, like he's comforting him, or steering him home after a disappointing night out. ("She's out of your league, sport; let's get you home to bed.")
Next, "The Effigy," a horror story with Wally Wood art...from Marvel, so it's so much tamer than a EC Comic would be. A cult has a voodoo dolly of a petty criminal, so he steals it to break its hold on him, or for peace of mind. Surely it isn't real...but would you chance it? Look, I'm 40% sure there's gotta be an EC story where the guy throws his effigy into the incinerator; I know there's one with no air holes in the safe. (That was an issue of Plop!, you simpleton.)
Finally, Marvel's version of the origin of Frankenstein's Monster concludes, as he is stranded in the arctic with a pair of doomed expedition members. After an extended flashback of how he got frozen, with a lot of fighting some native-types for some reason; the Monster completes a raft, but too late for the others. Still, he learns of a descendent of Frankenstein, that could perhaps help him...something. Can't recall what, exactly: the Monster was kind of a dick in his early stories. Added to the last page is a blurb advising "Want more Book of the Dead? Write in and tell us!" I feel like Marvel must have got some letters--more than a couple, less than fifty? A guess. Read more!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


The fifth episode of Moon Knight should be today if I've counted right, and while I think we've seen hints and possibly after-effects, we haven't really seen Jake Lockley. While I'm old enough to recall when 'Lockley' was just an alias, not a separate persona; he's the one that fathered a daughter with long-suffering girlfriend Marlene Alraune; which I don't think the other personalities were made aware of. I don't think this is the case as often in real life, but in Moon Knight and other popular fiction with MPD, the different personas seem to dick each other over a lot. Where are the helpful alters, the ones that chip in for the bills, do some of the dishes as a surprise, make sure your car's gassed up? 

If Marc was the mercenary, and Steven the posh millionaire, then Jake was the working-man type. Which in recent years seems to have slid into 'a bit sleazy?' Taxi drivers should have a bit better reputation; don't believe the internet!
Read more!

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

I'm sure this will be the first of many annuals for...oh. Oh.

Back when the New Universe debuted, I read maybe the first seven of Star Brand, most of Justice, a bit of Psi-Force, and all of D.P.7; but I never read today's book: Mark Hazard: Merc Annual #1, "A Matter of Lives and Death!" Written by Doug Murray, pencils by Vincent Waller, inks by Fraja Bator.
For some reason, this series came up a few times on Twitter a couple weeks back; but about all I could tell you about it is the guy was a merc, in a super-hero universe. Like I mentioned, I hadn't read his previous issues, but charitably speaking Mark is circling the drain here. Shot, he spends the whole issue unconscious in a New York hospital, as his friends and family remember the man; leading off with two mercenaries in Afghanistan recollecting about their old compatriot, while in the hospital his closer friends and ex-wife do the same. The life of a merc isn't portrayed as glamorous or even satisfying: one recalls losing multiple comrades, then having to murder deadbeat employers, both probably on more than one occasion.
A runaway Mark had saved tells the most upbeat story: he saved her when she came to the big city, taking her to a dojo, where she made something of herself. But the ex-wife's story is less encouraging, since she knew him as a teen: his father had always wanted him to be the best at everything, nothing had ever been good enough for him. After a stint in the military and Vietnam, Mark had become a mercenary; a job he loved but kept him from home for far too long, leading to the end of their marriage. She tells that story possibly with her son in the room; and he's the first to pipe up to turn off his dad's life-support when the doctor announces it was all that was keeping him alive. That may have been what Mark wanted, but geez, give it a minute, maybe pretend it's a tough call. Although, the kid doesn't tell any stories about dear ol' dad, either...Still, an oddly moving issue; especially since Marvel made the effort to close out the series like that. Read more!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Hey, this isn't a reprint book!

Wow, Empyre was only a year ago? I think I read at least a little of it at the start, either from the quarter bin or maybe some had Alex Ross covers and were randomly purchased? I don't remember how it ended, but this one sets it up: from 2020, Road to Empyre: the Kree/Skrull War #1, written by Robbie Thompson, art by Mattia De Iulis and Javier Rodríguez. 

I wasn't sure if the above was part of the story, or a house ad for the crossover; but it's like a Skrull propaganda poster against their insidious foes from earth. Kinda neat. I have a random issue of Meet the Skrulls somewhere, about a sleeper cell-slash-family of Skrulls on earth; and this also serves as a possible wrap-up to that series. Although daddy Skrull had been killed, betrayed by their handler; the mom and three daughters were still trying to uncover "Project Blossom," which was intended to uncover Skrulls. They discover a Kree had been working on the project, which prompts the mom to recap the first meeting of the Skrulls, the Kree, and the Cotati. You may recall, it didn't go great. 

One of the daughters, Ivy, is a little dejected at having to live during a war spanning thousands of years, and wishes the Celestial Messiah had brought a lasting peace. That cues up the Mantis/Swordsman recap, as well as for Sequoia, or Quoi. I thought he had appeared in the Silver Surfer story in Marvel Fanfare #51, but that wasn't in continuity: Avengers: Celestial Quest was, but I haven't read that.
The Skrulls are nearly blown up at their hotel, so they're getting close to the project. They follow-up on an intercepted message from Hulkling, and look him up: I never read Young Avengers, either! 

But, I read the next one, as Ivy wonders if the Kree and Skrull always have to fight, from Fantastic Four Annual #18, where the Kree and Skrull observers from the death of Phoenix are hoodwinked into working together and making peace. That perhaps inspires Skrull mom to not murder the sleeper cell of Kree they find--redheads with blue skin? I forget what the Kree used to blend in; but together they listen to a message from their new emperor, Dorrek VIII, who had united the Kree and Skrull empires against a common foe...and was on his way to earth. 

This is "To be the thrilling pages of Empyre!" but I don't know if either sleeper cell was seen further in the series, or were still on earth. I wouldn't be 100% comfortable with them still being out there, since they weren't just observers, I think both were straight-up spies at best. Or maybe I'm just prejudiced against Skrulls: it's how I was raised, I'm trying to work on it!
Read more!

Friday, April 22, 2022

Feel like Cap would be more used to guys returning from the dead than DD...

Here's a fun one-shot from a few years back:  from 2008, Daredevil & Captain America: Dead on Arrival #1, written by Tito Faraci; translated by Alexandra Hain Cole; adapted by Larry Hama, art by Claudio Villa.
Death-Stalker has returned, which is kind of impressive since he was solidly dead, embedded in a tombstone in his final battle with Daredevil. He's kidnapped several people, including at least one child, to draw out Daredevil; while at Avengers Mansion Nick Fury interrupts Cap's night-fighting exercise to put him on the case. D-S used to have death-touch blasts he stole from A.I.M, and a number of victims had been found dead with no wounds, and that made S.H.I.E.L.D. worry: they were afraid he was from the past, and if he died it could cause a temporal paradox and maybe destroy the universe? 

The child's mother had been given instructions to tip DD to Death-Stalker's location, St. Stephen's Cemetery. (That may or may not be it!) Before Cap goes to follow a trace on the gloves, a S.H.I.E.L.D. tech advises he take stelazine with him, based on what they found in his old lab. At the cemetery, Death-Stalker waits and tries to sort out what's happened to him: a lab accident sent him to the future, where first he discovered his mother's death, and that her death-traps had failed to kill DD.
Let's check here: Death-Stalker had died in 1979's Daredevil #158 (Frank Miller's first issue on art), and the same month this issue came out, so did...Daredevil #113. Friggin' Marvel numbering...alright, counting backwards from legacy-numbered #500, #113 would've been #493...the point being, this would've been a much more experienced DD than the one that last fought Death-Stalker, but he still gets lured into position and hit with a chemical spray. It gives DD sight--horrible kaleidoscope nightmare-sight, but still. D-S seemed to assume DD would wet his pants, sit there crying, and be an easy target; but DD flips away from him, jumps on his back, and starts working on beating his skull in: slight tactical error on Death-Stalker's part. DD is usually far more reluctant to kill, but between the drug and a healthy respect for his foe, he looks like he's going to do it until Cap stops him.
With DD seeing him as a monster, Cap has to fight him for a bit until he can jab him with the stelazine. By then, Death-Stalker has recovered, and threatens the child: either DD takes a shot of death-touch, or the kid does. Cap protests, but quickly realizes "he's running on all cylinders again" and throws his shield, knowing DD would hear and dodge it. D-S is barely conscious, when Cap explains to DD what S.H.I.E.L.D. had feared, and Death-Stalker decides to test that theory, by using his death-touch on himself. In a crack like thunder and flash of light, he disappears, returning to his place in the timeline but with no memory of his future.

Captain America sees that kind of thing all the time, guys coming back from the dead; but I think Daredevil's foes tended to stay in their graves a little more soundly? Death-Stalker's still dead, anyway; could be just a feeling.
Read more!

Thursday, April 21, 2022

This kid was goaded into taking a ticket from a stranger to a creepy cabaret alone; yeah, I could see him ending up a junkie.

There's an old Spin magazine article I've been looking for--Internet Archive hasn't come through for me yet--about kids/young adults being dumbasses on and off-camera at MTV's Spring Break. They're described as like being "from an island with no natural predators," having no 'normal' survival instincts. A section I think I almost remember verbatim and wish I could credit: "I witness the world's shortest, and most satisfying, fistfight: a white kid passes a black kid, and yells 'Hey, Kunta Kinte!' He is immediately rewarded with a mouthful of bloody teeth." Today's book is actually almost from the same era, but may have another similarity: from 1994, the Last Temptation #1, written by Neil Gaiman, art by Michael Zulli.
Alice Cooper has his name above the title, but apparently not in the indica? This was a tie-in to his thirteenth album, and it and the comic shared a plotline: Cooper, in the role of a mysterious showman, entices young Steven to his show, "the theatre of the real." While the title indicates he wants to tempt Steven to something, act one doesn't seem like a great start: a nightmare of life of the street, with corpse-like junkies cold and alone. Cooper suggests he could either risk that, or stay in the theatre, it's fun! Also you never grow old, or leave...
Steven isn't impressed, with that or the impression of him five years later, with no options or hope. He's ready to leave, but is enticed by the pretty Mercy: dames, that's his temptation! But Mercy seems to resist whatever the showman has in mind...and also seems to be missing a good chunk of skin and flesh on her back. Cooper briskly tells Steven this part of the show is over, but the finale was coming. Steven leaves the theatre, seemingly the very moment he left, as the other kids jeer him for chickening out...and one takes on the distinctive make-up of the showman. 

An old friend reminded me a bit of what it was like at Steven's age: being just smart enough to be a goddamn idiot in other ways. Steven seemed together enough to avoid the first trap, but I have my doubts he's home-free. This has been reprinted a couple times, but largely on the strength of Gaiman's name. Not to undersell Zulli: I'm not that familiar with him, but there's a P.Craig Russell feel to some of this. I'm also not well-versed in Cooper's work; although I remember him most from Prince of Darkness. Not my favorite John Carpenter film, but still a good one.
Read more!

Wednesday, April 20, 2022


I think I plotted this out before I went on vacation, and Multiverse of Madness is a couple weeks out; but I suspect Wong will get benched or held up by something, to give Strange the chance to take center stage. Or maybe solve whatever problems he's probably created...I'm hoping Wong isn't killed off, as that would be a colossal waste; even though Cumberbatch seems pretty game to appear in whatever MCU thing comes up, as much or moreso than Benedict Wong.

Ugh, I forgot I was going to end this one with Rintrah and the Spiders jumping him in a panic...Despite having Ditko-hands, I don't think any of the Spidey's have even the slightest magical ability, or are going to pick up any soon. And I hope this isn't cultural appropriation, but Saṃghāta and Mahāraurava are Buddhist hells: there are a couple points in that entry that mention "citation needed," and I'm not sure how they would get it? But, in the Marvel Universe, Thor Annual #10 established for me anyway that there were all sorts of hells there, even if they're weirdly sensitive about using 'Satan' anymore.
Oh, and Sat mentions 'Kale,' as in Jennifer Kale, who I don't see getting a Marvel Legend. Her outfits were a bit skimpy! Read more!

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Aw, I don't like when What If? doesn't have the Watcher intros--hey!

The host role isn't 100% necessary, but "Tempus Fuginaut" really feels like a placeholder name that made it to the final draft. Why not use, say, Waverider? Or a new alternate Waverider, even?  From 2021, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Wonder Woman: War of the Gods #1, written by Vita Ayala, art by Ariel Olivetti. (Pics today, this wouldn't fit in the scanner!)

Not unlike some What If? stories, these "Tales from the Dark Multiverse" appeared to take a crossover or big event and see how it could have played out differently. Differently as in badly; as implied by the name, I think they all go straight to "and everyone died" territory pretty quickly. What If? had enough issues it could occasionally change it up and show the universe where everything came out great; which would actually be the darkest multiverse because it might be the least fun to read about afterwards...
Anyway, while we've looked at War of the Gods before, that's a tough one for this because I know I've read it but I completely forgot the witch-goddess Hecate was in it. Possibly because I know nothing of Hecate, despite her also being a major character in Hellboy: blind spot for me, there. In this universe, instead of being defeated Hecate's oddly-worded prophecy leads to her taking over Wonder Woman after Circe's death: "Upon the death of witch and the birth of witch, Hecate, by name and choice, shall repossess her soul." (If I had to guess, I think as a kid I read sanitized versions of those myths, so I don't think Hecate got a lot of play.) Diana is able to bury Hecate inside her mind or soul at first, but Phobos, in the guise of an American general, puts "plan B" into place. He orders "loyal" troops to murder "traitors" Steve Trevor and Etta Candy, then bomb Paradise Island, killing Hippolyta.
After questioning a captured pilot with her magic lasso, Diana confronts the general, who reveals himself immediately and gives up his plan; because that was all he needed to tip Diana into despair and give Hecate control. Together, they murder the Greek gods, somewhat grossly, but Hecate is disappointed that they didn't seem to have a lot of juice in them: Phobos explains they were powered by worship, but weren't worshipped anymore, super-heroes were. Better start killing them, then! It doesn't take long: there's a brief, and honestly more interesting, page of the Amazons also in despair. They were refugees, hated and distrusted, but also sexually harassed a lot in man's world. I thought the average Amazon was like, way stronger than Joe Sixpack? Which probably would've led to more problems: "Local Amazon cat-called, twelve hospitalized, film at 11." Circe moves Paradise Island to Washington, D.C. in a bit that's a little unclear, because it seems like she set it on part of the city, which should make Superman and Batman a little less inclined to just want to talk to her.
Hecate kills a bunch of heroes, mostly like Palapatine in Episode 3, one-hit kills; before the mystic types and the avatars (including Hawkwoman and Lobo) stop her, apparently also dying. Zatanna, Captain Atom, and Big Barda might be the only survivors? That earth's boned, but good on the Captain not getting blow'd up. Hecate is chained up, but Phobos was still out there; and the world doesn't just turn on Amazons but on women in general, as well as super-heroes, but there's still hope...somewhere? Maybe? I'm not feeling it.

Read more!

Monday, April 18, 2022

May have bought this because "Priapus" sounded dirty.

But, it is a title we haven't seen in our seventeen year run! From 1993, Terror, Inc. #12, "Corporate Intimacy (For Love Nor Money Part 4)" Written by D. G. Chichester, pencils by Kirk Van Wormer, inks by Temujin, Bud LaRosa, and Steve George.
This was the penultimate issue of Terror, Inc., who at the very least was a distinctive looking character: he looked like a green catfish man, I always thought. The length of the spikes on his face might vary from artist to artist, but in his series they were good-sized. Terror had a somewhat convoluted history, largely because his co-creator Chichester imported him from St. George #2 in the short-lived Shadowline comics. Terror had some kind of curse, that left him as basically a rotting corpse, but he was able to steal limbs and body parts as replacements. I haven't read a ton of books from him, but he was usually a cheerful-if-morbid ghoul, working as a mercenary.
Crossovers are intended to drive up sales, but I'd guess this one didn't particularly move the needle: "For Love Nor Money" was a six-parter with Cage and Silver Sable: Cage would continue for another four or five issues, while Silver Sable still had a couple years to go. This chapter was the point where the three finally decide to team-up against the bad guy, creepy satyr-looking Priapus. The crossover's MacGuffin, "Vatasayana's Tryst," can make people see their past or lost loves, and the issue ends with Sable fighting off a twisted version of Sandman, Cage is swamped with regret over his lost Reva, and Terror is bogged down in his fantasy and those of the guys he stole the body parts from. Aw, the last issue had Ghost Rider and was an Infinity Crusade crossover! Read more!

Friday, April 15, 2022

I don't recall this being beloved when it came out, either.

But I don't get Deathstroke's ongoing popularity either, especially when he's in books like this: from 2010, Titans: Villains for Hire Special #1, "The Best Laid Plans" Written by Eric Wallace, art by Fabrizio Fiorentino; Mike Mayhew; Sergio Arino; Walden Wong.
This is shorter and slightly less blatent in trying to tug on the heartstrings, but otherwise it reads just like Countdown to Infinite Crisis: despite a valiant struggle, a hero gets got, just to show the bad guys are hardcore. In flashbacks we see Deathstroke gathering his little team, largely by telling them whatever they needed to hear: for example, he promises Cheshire to solve her problems and help her restore her tarnished rep. Together, they gang up on the Ryan Choi Atom; hired by his foe Dwarfstar. Ryan puts up a good fight, before Deathstroke kills him, then delivers his corpse in a matchbox. (Who has matchboxes anymore?)
In their headquarters, complete with meeting table (and curiously, an extra empty seat) Deathstroke tells them they were Titans now, but the name choice wasn't business, it was personal. 

Weirdly, for a 2010 comic that was bagged and boarded, this was in not especially great shape when I bought it. I can only assume an Atom fan threw it on the ground more than once. I do believe Dwarfstar would get his in Secret Six #28, but Deathstroke remains bulletproof, which just stumps me. Sorry to end the week on a sour note, but we may be looking at another Deathstroke book later.
Read more!

Thursday, April 14, 2022

I would've thought Ditko wrote this one, too.

Could've done with some credits, but we'll trust the GCD: 1971, Ghostly Tales #85, featuring "The 9th Life" Written by Joe Gill, art by Steve Ditko; "Hide and E-Eeek!" also by Gill and Ditko; and "Gypsy's Revenge!" Written by Gill or Pat Boyette, art by Pat Boyette. (The table of contents lists them in a different order!) 

"The 9th Life" is a good one, in a Twilight Zone vein: young misanthrope Michael Hoyt hates his life, hates the world, hates about everything; but does show kindness to a scared cat shooed out of a tenement. In what could be a dream, Michael is visited by the cat in the form of a pretty witch, Felicia. She offers to help him find a better life, and what could be better than living in pre-Revolution America? Just about everything, if you're interested in not getting hung for shooting your mouth off... 

That's a bust, so Felicia helps him escape, to about a hundred years after that. Good times...unless you catch about anything, in the days before penicillin. Michael is starting to realize there are risks in any era, and returns to his own time to try and improve it, or at least accept the things he can't change. But, he does get introduced to a familiar girl at a party, so maybe his future is looking up. 

"Hide and E-Eeek!" is odd to me, if only because the book's host, Mr. Dedd, intervenes: you never saw the Crypt-Keeper or the Old Witch do that, did you? Wearing a human face resembling the Spectre's Jim Corrigan, Dedd attends a party where bitter old creep Mr. Spite has made most of the guests disappear. Feeling his family had wrecked his life, Spite was using mysticism or hypnosis or something to kill all his relatives before he died, forcing them to dig their own graves in his basement. Dedd puts a stop to that, leaving the guests befuddled as to why they were all digging... 

"Gypsy's Revenge!" reminded me of Doctor Doom, a little: evil Lord Malko, um, lords it over the countryside, but seemingly allows an aggrieved gypsy to kidnap his son and raise him. Is he just lazy, or have a longer game in mind? The boy Esau seems to excel in the mystic arts, but is he a willing participant or a pawn? I feel like a couple pages were out of order in my copy, so I'm not quite sure either.
Read more!