Thursday, June 30, 2022

Feel like these should be collected, but I'd probably just keep buying singles anyway.

I also think GL had several good, or at least interesting, annuals in a row there: from 1996, Green Lantern Annual #5, featuring "The Value of I" Written by Chuck Dixon, art by Enrique Alcatena; and "Nobler in the Mind..." Written by Len Wein, pencils by Bill Willingham, inks by Robert Campanella. 

This was part of DC's 1996 annual event, Legends of the Dead Earth, featuring stories set in the far future, long after earth was no more; but its heroes and heroines were still an inspiration. But, this issue takes its cues from older stories: it's a pair of fairly traditional Tales of the Green Lantern Corps stories. Although, there may or may not be a corps in the future, maybe it's just Kyle's ring getting passed on here and there; or not. Then again, in both stories, yellow is a vulnerability; and I don't think it ever was to Kyle! 

In "The Value of I," the alien Bardookis are slaughtering and plundering, and manage to catch GL Rak Arranya with a lucky yellow shot: the Bardookis had known the GL's were vulnerable to something, but didn't remember what; so they had thrown the kitchen sink at him. Dying, Rak manages to get to the planet Zilliph, and give the ring to a local, Taa. Who then reports it to his government: that sounds like it would be a mistake on most planets, doesn't it? But the Zilliphs believed in majority rule. Really believed in majority rule. They wouldn't risk using the ring without first debating it, even as the Bardookis have already begun tearing up the place. After some discussion, some voting, a referendum; the decision is made: nobody should be allowed to use the ring! That would put someone ahead of everyone else, and that's not how things were done there. Taa is tasked with getting rid of the ring and battery, but instead is sparked to say the oath: " power!" 

Taa quickly sends the Bardookis packing, but knows his planet has been exposed: he wasn't going to be able to go back to his old life. Partly because he may have inadvertently changed the planet's governing principles... 

"Nobler in the Mind..." also features the traditional mortally wounded GL trying to find a replacement; but El'qa Squa Zreenah isn't having much luck. Crashed on Qualar IV, the ring finds the locals skittish and chickenhearted, most of them passing out while being scanned! The ring finds one guy that could maybe take it, time for buts! El'qa didn't think he had much time left, and gives the ring to the eccentric, somewhat scatterbrained Perdoo. Who mumbles his way through the traditional GL oath, then makes El'qa comfortable while he zips into space to see the armada that clocked his predecessor. 

First mistaking the armada ships as "a whole new species of flitterby," Perdoo then demolishes almost all of them after they take a shot at him! Returning home, he finds El'qa still alive, not as mortally wounded as he had thought. Perdoo returns the ring, as "more trouble than it was worth," but does ask for a ride home...back to the asylum! Your first thought might be, maybe he was the only sane one, in a crazy world? Nah, his gears were pretty stripped, man. 
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Wednesday, June 29, 2022


I read at least a bit of Red She-Hulk, but I may actually be right about Betty liking scotch! Pretty sure Thunderbolt Ross drank it and passed it on to her; in an old Peter David Incredible Hulk issue. And yeah, I know she's the Harpy (or Red Harpy?) now after Immortal Hulk, but honestly Betty's taken more than enough crap over the years. I prefer the idea of her now having the power to not have to put up with it anymore; and hopefully moving on from Bruce. (Post-David, even after Betty returned from the dead; I feel like he didn't appreciate her enough or treat her like she should.)

Betty refers to a ploy Namor used in his old solo book, like every fight: get beat down until he could get to a lucky pond, or the pipes, standing water, whatever. Let Namor get wet (ew!) and he'll turn the fight around like Popeye hitting the spinach. 
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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Huh, why is this post about a giantess girlfriend getting so many hits?

I was ten when Tarzan the Ape Man was released, and I think I read the first Tarzan novel a few years later when Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes was in theatres. And I still haven't seen either of those movies? I was a sci-fi kid; Tarzan didn't do much for me. But he had a long and varied history in comics, and was so popular his son had his own title, more than once! Ah, nepotism. From 1976, Tarzan Family (Presents Korak) #65, featuring "Deadlier than the Male!" Written by Robert Kanigher, pencils by James Sherman, inks by Bob Smith; "Arrival!" Plotted by Marv Wolfman, (uncredited) script by Joe Kubert, art by Murphy Anderson; and "Pirates of Venus" Script by Len Wein, art by Michael Wm. Kaluta. Everything based on or adapted from various works of Edgar Rice Burroughs.
There was apparently some reformating coming for this title, so the main storyline seemed to be coming to a possibly-but-maybe-not natural conclusion, as Korak's adventure in the land of the "gigantics" wrapped up. He was still the prisoner of "the towering Princess Raynaa," trapped in a giant birdcage as she tried to get him away from the high priest that wanted him for a sacrifice. Raynaa fights hard for her pet; although there could be more to it; while Korak is touched, grateful even, but still wants his freedom. When Raynaa is drugged and tied down Gulliver-style by an angry tribe (that had probably previously had bad encounters with the gigantics) Korak in turn fights to save her,but in their escape she hits a patch of quicksand!...a patch about the size of a football field, looks like. And I feel like worst case, she would've been able to touch bottom? Nope, writing her out! She saves Korak, who can't find a way to rescue her before she goes under. That kind of sucked? In my head I'm already plotting a multi-issue arc where Raynaa has to take an injured Korak back to his folks, and hijinks ensue.
Also this issue: five pages of John Carter! That's barely enough to get him to Mars. Then some Kaluta art on Burroughs also-ran Carson of Venus. Enh. Read more!

Monday, June 27, 2022

I didn't love this issue, but there's maybe one panel that'll do something for you.

Not the one where not-Peter Parker just coldcocks a not-little girl, hopefully. From 2018, Ben Reilly: the Scarlet Spider #15, written by Peter David, art by Will Sliney. 

My hopes were high from the cover: Mephisto looming over Scarlet, as he's about to crank the lever of a slot machine. I was thinking of dead heroes trying to win their way back to life, via the slots, from somewhere in Incredible Herc. Nope! Ben was in Vegas, still trying to redeem himself after some recent bad decisions; and still had a weirdly scarred eye that made him look like Pete the Pup from Little Rascals shorts. Ben notices "Aunt June" wasn't at her usual machine today, and while checking for her, is approached by a little jezebel. I mean, a little girl that introduces herself as Jezebel. (Is that term still used as an insult? I don't know if I've ever actually heard it spoken in real life!) She knows he's the Scarlet Spider, and her "employers" have Aunt June, and they need him to... something he probably would've had to do anyway. After Las Vegas was severely damaged in Secret Empire, Doctor Strange repaired the damage...why? Seems like he put a lot of teamsters out of work. Moreover, Strange unleashed something, which is underselling it: the Hotel Inferno, which looks a lot influenced by the Inferno crossover, run by Mephisto! Ben freaks out a bit, claiming this was out of his league and should be an Avengers problem, or Strange should fix it himself. Jezebel tells them they would be there...and absolutely no help, they'd all be turned into demons. The Midnight Sons might help, though. No, they aren't the Inferno's house band. Jezebel lets on she was working for something called the Diogenes Initiative, which Ben had heard of before; and she orders him to get out there and take care of it. Ben asks if she was really a little girl. No? Then it's okay to punch you across the room...actually, that's probably still not okay, Ben.
After saving a gun shop owner from a demon, Ben gets all kitted out...for reasons? I got nothing; and it looks ridiculous. Maybe he thinks he needs it, since when the Avengers show up, their heads are on fire, Ghost Rider-style. Which also looks somewhat ridiculous. But a proper Ghost Rider is also there, with the Midnight Sons! Who include, more importantly, Moon Knight! I think this came up recently when he saw Wong...was that in the regular series, or Death of Doctor Strange? I may have to read some issues to recollect! But, this issue was part of some crossover thing called Damnation. There was a Doctor Strange mini with it, maybe some other stuff; aside from Moon Knight offhandedly mentioning it, I would swear I had never heard of it until just now.
Moon Knight already looks like he's going to bag out, hit a buffet or something. (The cover in that entry looks pretty fun, though!) I don't know which Ghost Rider that is: if it's the 90's version, I just want to see him complaining about 'new' Midnight Sons the whole event. "...who the hell is Johnny Tracksuit? Iron what? Back in the day, we had proper Midnight Sons. That guy couldn't carry Frank Drake's lunch..."
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Friday, June 24, 2022

Traditionally, "before seeking revenge, dig two graves," not "buy a boat."

I read the series pretty religiously for some time, then missed several mini-series before its stint at Vertigo: no idea why I missed them, but that just means I was able to read them now. From 2010, Astro City: the Dark Age, Book Four #4, "Storm's End" Written by Kurt Busiek, art by Brent E. Anderson, cover by Alex Ross.
This was the conclusion of the fourth and final Dark Age mini-series: there's probably more of a sales bump with four #1 issues instead of this being issue #16 or whatever. All four series follow the Williams brothers, Charles and Royal, mostly from 1972 to 1984. They lost their parents when they were kids, in a superhero incident that also led to a lifelong resentment for the Silver Agent, one of Astro City's most prominent heroes. Charles had gone on to become a cop, Royal a small-time criminal; neither with the successes they would've liked, but by this issue they were both vigilantes hunting the man that killed their parents, former Pyramid agent Aubrey Jason. Aubrey had been forced to enhance himself to stay ahead of the Williams, who appropriated tons of high-tech weapons and gear to go after him.
The Silver Agent had been executed in 1973 for a crime he didn't commit, but travelled fairly extensively in time before his death, and was back again in 1984. A rift in space had been infecting the city with darkness, released the vengeance-crazed Pale Horseman, and powered Jason: the Agent was there to stop it, but the Williams are a little put out thinking he was stepping on their thing. (After their parents' deaths, the boys had hidden from Jason, then from the Silver Agent as well; later they thought the Agent didn't care about them.) Faced with a choice of saving the Agent (momentarily...) or chasing Jason, Royal opts to save the Agent, since he had seen something in his face and his brother's, that reminded him too much of Jason. They still get a measure of payback, though, as the Pale Horseman and Jason are sucked into the rift, possibly forever. And the Silver Agent moves on through time, ever closer to an appointment in the past...
Several years later, a writer completes an interview with the brothers on their little boat in Baja. They aren't keen on all of their story being told, since they could still have enemies and possibly warrants; but the writer assures them he'll use "cosmetic identities" to cover them: how do you like the names Charles and Royal Williams? The brothers also aren't sure all the darkness of that time can be blamed on any rifts or anything; but also know exactly when the dark age ended: when a new hero, Samaritan, saved the space shuttle Challenger...(It isn't named in the issue, but is clearly visible on the variant cover!) 

Although he accepts his fate as something that will inspire future heroes, the death of the Silver Agent is perfect and infuriating: the public turns on him, then regrets and laments to the point it almost becomes a cult built around his prophesized returns. Something like an apology, all too late. The whole Dark Ages story is a bit of a love letter to comics of that timeframe: a bit of Captain America, more than a little Kirby, and quite a lot of Punisher and Ghost Rider elements. He doesn't appear this issue (although his knockoffs do, briefly) but the Blue Knight is one of the series' best designs, and they've had some standouts.
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Thursday, June 23, 2022

I thought this was going to be a lark, but it went to a dark place.

OK, I guess when we start with five supervillains, working for freakin' Thanos, I shouldn't be surprised, but here we are. From 1994, Secret Defenders #14, "Escape" Written by Ron Marz, pencils by Tom Grindberg, inks by Don Hudson.
Thanos had brought back to life Geatar, henchman of his alleged grand-daughter Nebula; and conscripted a quartet of super-villains for a mission: we saw the first part of this three-parter, um, seven years back? Anyway, the team is the Rhino, Super-Skrull, Titanium Man, and Nitro. And by this point, Thanos has got what he wanted, and hung them out to dry; blowing up their ship and leaving them to face a planetful of angry religious zealots. The guys manage to stick together enough to get to their wrecked ship, and could probably get away in the Super-Skrull's force-field...if he wasn't clipped from behind and knocked out. With few other options, the Titanium Man offers to push their escape pod into space. Not to another planet or anything, just maybe low orbit? That's the least-worst option at the time, so that's it.
With power gone, atmosphere failing, and virtually no hope of rescue; Geatar still makes a final log entry: he had been what, Nebula's first mate in her pirate crew? Making that entry is just him keeping things ship-shape. He loses consciousness, but awakens, saved by the Silver Surfer! And some jerk. To Geatar, that's not so much 'saved' as 'captured,' and he still holds a grudge over what the Surfer did to Nebula. (I believe she was injured, then came away with closer to her modern look!) Still, with his teammates badly injured, he grudgingly accepts help, and the Surfer heals Nitro and the Super-Skrull. Nitro quickly recognizes the Surfer's travelling companion, Legacy; the son of Captain Mar-Vell! Infamously, in a battle with Nitro, Mar-Vell was exposed to nerve gas, which directly led to his cancer. Nitro relishes the twist, since neither the Surfer nor Legacy knew that; and hams it up, asking to shake Legacy's hand. (The Surfer was shown at Mar-Vell's funeral, but was still trapped on earth at that time; it was a Skrull!)
Geatar was a known criminal, and the Surfer was going to bring him in; despite the Super-Skrull pulling for him, Geatar gives himself up to stay close to his captain. While the Rhino and Titanium man can catch a ride to earth, Nitro asks for a little energy for his pod, so he can explore space. Nothing left for him on earth...and he would've been recognized as Mar-Vell's killer on Titan, so he opts out of that.
The Surfer would've encountered Rhino fairly recently, in Silver Surfer #54. This was also probably the last readable issue of the title: the next issue features Cage, Deadpool, and...Dr. Druid? Oof.  

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Wednesday, June 22, 2022


I don't get to use "unbeknownst" enough. Spelled it right in the first panel, then wrong for the file name...

Odds of Giganto getting a HasLabs campaign? Pretty slim. And while I know the Atlantean bipedal whale has his fans, I prefer the Mole Man's "Deviant mutate" version.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The ironic twist, will be when I get every issue but #70.

Every comic show I get to, I keep an eye out for Twilight Zone #70, which features "The Tyranny of Time," an early story by José Luis García-López. It's great! But so far I've only found a number of other random TZ issues, like this one I wouldn't have thought of at all. From 1991, the Twilight Zone #1, "The Big Dry" Written by Bruce Jones, pencils by Eddy Newell, inks by John Stangeland. Cover by Mitch O'Connell.
This was the first issue of Now Comics second series of Twilight Zone, although the first series was only one issue: a Harlan Ellison story, with Neal Adams art and Bill Sienkiewicz cover! Shoot, why am I not reading that one right now? There's a checklist at the end of the issue, and Now was down to this, a couple Green Hornet titles, Married...with Children, and the Real Ghostbusters.
I read a batch of Bruce Jones horror comics a couple years ago for Halloween, and most of them were better than this one: a family on vacation breaks down in the desert, with a milquetoast husband, a promiscuous wife, and step-daughter who already kind of knows her mom's terrible. They find refuge in a farmhouse, but also find a couple dying of dehydration. Advanced dehydration: they seem to have had the juices sucked out of them. There's also an electromagnetic field affecting machinery, as a deputy finds them but gets stuck as well. The wife doesn't mind...
The deputy and the wife both get it shortly thereafter, from the creature; which the little girl has realized must have hibernated like a toad. She encourages her step-dad to get himself together and save them, and he manages to defeat the creature with a supply of quicklime from the basement. (I'm trying to think of a benign reason why you'd need quicklime in the desert?) They escape for a hopefully happier life going forward, even as another creature emerges from the desert sands. Feels like there should be a twist in there, somewhere.
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Monday, June 20, 2022

What's this? A finicky face, not fooled by a faux pharaoh?

Ah, I can't do the William Dozier voice long! I had intended to blog this long before now, but seem to have kept misplacing it. Which of course lead to buying multiple copies...also misplaced. Eventually I'll open a cupboard or something and three of these will fall out...From 1986, Batman #398, "About Faces!" Written by Doug Moench, art by Tom Mandrake. 

We now join Batman's latest spat with Catwoman, already in progress: Catwoman felt like he didn't trust her, and she had a point, since I don't think he had revealed his secret identity to her or anything. More recently, he hadn't kept her in the loop on the "scam" he was running on Two-Face, with the help of Circe. This Circe may largely be forgotten now, supplanted by the Wonder Woman villain; but she was a former model (and possible murderer) scarred by her lover, Black Mask. Instead of answering the Bat-signal, Batman goes after Catwoman, to explain himself, and his plan, which he sheepishly calls "a sappy longshot." He's trying to bring back Harvey Dent, although he's still prepared to punch up Two-Face if it comes to that. While Catwoman seems to enjoy seeing the human side of Bats, she is hurt Gordon and Bullock know more about this scheme than she does, and she's worried she's driving a wedge between Batman and his 'son,' Jason Todd. 

The plan is, with Circe's help, Two-Face will 'steal' a fake Egyptian sarcophagus. That goes smoothly enough, although to win Two-Face's trust, she conks a guard over the head with her "magic scepter." The guard, a disguised Batman, notices she hit him fairly hard, which could be suspicious. Following them, Catwoman is mildly surprised Two-Face's hideout isn't in a two-story building; Bullock notes "it's 222 Second Avenue." Circe makes her pitch, about the faux pharaoh's goodness, enticing Two-Face to try it on, and to feel the long dormant spirit of Harvey Dent returning in him. Watching it, Bats and Cats deem it more of a longshot than ever, but Two-Face does seem pensive afterwards, and takes some time to think...and flip his coin. 

Two-Face emerges--with one face, as Harvey Dent! He's made his choice, despite a fake mask and fake pharaoh, Batman: look, if you're going to operate in Gotham City, you have to know stuff like that. "Harvey" tears off his face, to reveal an All-Face beneath, then snags Circe's mask off of her. Batman and Catwoman bust in, and seemingly have things handled until the starting arrival of--Robin? Who opens a door right into Catwoman's face, turning the tide and giving Two-Face a chance to pull a double-barrel shotgun. Batman tries to argue Two-Face is making the wrong choice, he could be Harvey again, but he's not buying it. 

Robin knocks the shotgun away with a Batarang, and Catwoman tosses Bats her whip: when a problem comes along...ah, you know. After beating him down, Batman gently removes the makeup, restoring at least half of his friend's face, but worrying his good side could be completely submerged now. Also, Circe had lit out, leaving the question of her motivations open. And Batman and Catwoman's relationship may have just taken a turn, with Selina telling him "...Robin's return through this door ranks very high on the omen scale."

The copy I'm scanning is a second-printing; I would've sworn there was an ad for Dark Knight Returns in there--the single issues! But, this is why, two issues later, when freed along with virtually all of Batman's foes in Batman #400, Two-Face is among those who opt out of facing him right then. So to speak. 
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Friday, June 17, 2022

I scanned one panel from this one, about 15 years ago, for an out-of-office post: long since time for a proper blogging! From 1991, Silver Surfer #48, "Confronting One's Maker!" Written by Jim Starlin, pencils by Ron Lim, inks by Tom Christopher.
Even though Thanos has just gotten the Infinity Gems and the entire multiverse was in danger, the Silver Surfer pauses on the way to earth with Drax the Destroyer, with the need to attend to a personal matter. He likewise sidesteps former fling Nova, on the way to see her boss and his former master, Galactus. Galactus notes the lack of deference in the Surfer's tone, as much as suggesting he check himself. The Surfer pauses, then presses on, for details of their initial alliance. To Galactus, what's to discuss? You saved Zenn-La and got a surfboard. Quit your bitching. It was a good deal for you.
Was it, though? A recent encounter with an alien murderer caused the Surfer to realize, he didn't seem to feel guilty for his part in Galactus destroying "hundreds of worlds," a death toll doubtless in the billions. (I was going to say that was from a seemingly throwaway story in SS Annual #3, but that story had as many pages as this one!) And a recent encounter with Adam Warlock had revealed "Alterations! Modifications! Tampering!" Someone had quite literally changed the Surfer's mind, and he had a pretty good idea who: Galactus. Who makes no bones about it: he needed his herald to do certain things, that Norrin Radd would not have been capable of. Without hesitation, the Surfer asks Galactus to "undo (his) handiwork," which warrants a somewhat gentler caution from Galactus: you sure about that? Your funeral...
There is no flash, no Kirby krackle for this change; merely as Galactus puts it, "a subtle epiphany." The Surfer is fine, for a moment, before the metaphorical blood seems to literally appear on his hands. And it's a lot. He sinks into a sea of blood, seemingly lost forever, until pulled out by Galactus. Galactus offers to put the mental barriers back, but the Surfer again refuses--is that three times he's denied Galactus this issue? I feel like that could be a Christ-metaphor in itself; no shortage of those here. Pulling himself together, the Surfer warns Galactus of the menace of Thanos, but he is as yet unimpressed.
After the Surfer resumes his journey to earth, Galactus calls Thanos out, he knew he was there. Thanos warns Galactus to stay out of it, and to underline his point, wipes away the world Galactus was about to eat, like it never was. His feeding cancelled, Galactus isn't done with the mad Titan. But closer than Thanos would think, in the Soul Gem, Adam Warlock tells the collected denizens within that he would be returning to battle him...
The cover of that one is still one of the most striking images of the Silver Surfer ever, y'ask me. As evidenced by the fact I knew exactly where I had this trading card of it! Let's check out the back:
Also, it's no laughing matter, but I find it darkly hilarious the Surfer thought he was fine--for about three seconds. "I feel nothin--OH CHRIST, BLOOD! BLOOD! AAAGH--!!"

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